Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 21, 2014

When Windows breaks: How to fix it, piece by piece;  How to upgrade to a larger hard drive;  10 awesome PC games that are completely free;  Computing is about to get more personal than ever;  Microsoft calls for international convention on government data access;  Why aren’t we learning long-term lessons from security disasters?  HP bringing back Windows 7 PCs? Not so fast;  The Future of Virtual Assistants;  The right way to deal with email bankruptcy;  iOS 7.1 Beta 4 rolls out;  Microsoft paying YouTubers for Xbox One mentions.

When Windows breaks: How to fix it, piece by piece – Windows is so customizable, it’s tempting to tinker. Don’t like Internet Explorer’s default feel? There are settings for that! Hate the way Windows 8’s Ribbon UI looks? Tweak away! And if you’re feeling truly adventurous, a veritable universe of change awaits within the easy-to-bork Windows Registry. But there’s a dangerous downside to all that freedom: You can really, really mess things up. And yes, that includes some very vital things.

How to easily find drivers for Unknown Devices in Windows – Sure, you can rip your PC apart and eyeball troublesome hardware directly – but there’s an easier way to find drivers for unknown devices.

Why aren’t we learning long-term lessons from security disasters? – Shouldn’t we be thinking further ahead, developing new protocols, processes and technologies that don’t stick a hasty patch over the latest problem, but push us towards a world where whole categories of problems are no longer a risk?

HP bringing back Windows 7 PCs? Not so fast… – This morning’s tech news headlines are breathlessly reporting that HP is bringing back Windows 7 “by popular demand.” The facts say otherwise: HP never stopped selling Windows 7 PCs, and it’s actually selling fewer Windows 7 models today than it did last summer.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iOS 7.1 Beta 4 rolls out for developers – For the Apple developers out there, the latest beta for iOS 7.1 — beta 4 — has rolled out for the newest round of testing festivities. This release follows close on the heels of the beta 3 release, which hit developers’ proverbial digital shelves earlier this month. Those who are registered can check out the full details in the iOS 7 release notes, and can nab the beta from the developer center or OTA.

How to upgrade to a larger hard drive – You can’t simply remove your old hard drive, then install a new one, and expect Windows to boot. You need to bring everything, including Windows itself, to the new drive. That’s not a difficult task, but it’s not an intuitive one, either.

Computing targets new frontier of cars, home, and everything – Smart devices, an internet of things, and the battle for the dashboard means computing is about to get more personal than ever.

Free tools that help locate your websites’ external broken links – These free tools are a great way to get started when you want to check external links on your websites.

The right way to deal with ’email bankruptcy’ – Don’t be misled by tech industry figures deleting all their unread emails: at best it’s a temporary solution to “email overload”. The real answer is to change the way you process email.

Spotify wants to recommend music based on users’ heartbeats – Personalization and recommendations are a staple of many services, particularly music services that aim to provide their users with music they want before they know they want it. Spotify could be boosting that idea in the future with a recommendation system that dishes up music based on the user’s current heart rate, ensuring there are some tracks at hand for every occasion.

Tech Finds Its Voice: The Future of Virtual Assistants – Someday, just about anything and everything will have a brain of some kind. While many of these devices are getting a brain, many have yet to find their voice. Which brings me to what I think is a fascinating question: What happens when our smart devices get not just a mind, but a voice?

CameraBag 2.5 – Nevercenter’s CameraBag 2.5 is like having dozens of films and cameras from different eras sitting on the desk to choose at will. Versatile and historical, this Mac image editing and filtering desktop app offers an overwhelming number of options for both fixing and stylizing the look of your photos. Any single or combination of settings will have a profound effect on your image, and the app’s flexibility lets you experiment endlessly and nondestructively with a few clicks.

TV subscriptions drop as video streaming services rise – Streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, have grown 4 percent over the last two years, while TV channel subscriptions have declined by 6 percent.

Security:

Target data breach part of broader organized attack against retailers – The Wall Street Journal, citing a confidential U.S. government report, reported that the hackers that went after Target spoke in Russian and the attacks were part of a broader effort. Target first reported that 40 million credit and debit card accounts had been compromised. In a follow-up, Target said that 70 million people may have had their personal data compromised.

Officials: Two people used fake credit cards linked to Target data breach – Two Mexican nationals have been arrested in Texas after they allegedly attempted to enter the U.S. with fraudulent credit cards that could be tied to the massive Target data breach.

EE BrightBox routers can be hacked by simple copy/paste operation – BrightBox routers supplied by UK telco EE as standard kit to its broadband and fibre customers are riddled with security shortcomings that make the devices hackable, a UK security researcher warns. Scott Helme warns that security vulnerabilities expose WPA encryption keys, passwords and ISP user credentials. Hackers might also have the ability to change a router’s DNS settings in order to intercept a target’s internet traffic.

Cyber attack: 750,000 malicious emails traced back to hacked home appliances – California security firm Proofpoint has announced their findings that a large botnet which sent over 750,000 malicious emails originated from the unlikeliest place imaginable: Home appliances, including televisions, routers and even refrigerators.

Microsoft Office blog compromised by Syrian Electronic Army – Another Microsoft web property has been compromised as the Syrian Electronic Army has tagged the Office blog with their logo and made a few posts on the Microsoft website.

Worst password of 2013 is “123456″ followed by “Password” – SplashData, makers of the SplashID Safe password management software, has just published its list of 25 worst passwords of 2013. Climbing up the list from second to first is “123456”, switching places with 2012’s champion, “password”, now at second place.

Company News:

Microsoft retracts Windows 7 PC end-of-sales deadline – As quietly as Microsoft defined the dates it would stop selling Windows 7, over the weekend it revised its end-of-sales deadlines again, saying it had made a mistake. Last week, Microsoft told customers that it would require computer makers to halt sales of new Windows 7-powered PCs at the end of October 2014. Now, its sales shut-off page shows “To be determined” instead of the future date.

Yahoo tops the most-trafficked Web site list – While Yahoo’s earnings haven’t been exactly stellar over the past few months, its Web traffic certainly has. According to new data from analytics firm ComScore, Yahoo had more than 195 million unique US visitors from desktop computers in December — that puts the site ahead of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook for desktop traffic.

Investors sue AMD over ‘false and misleading’ Llano APU statements – AMD is in hot water with investors who claim the company overestimating how well the Llano chip would do, especially in emerging markets.

Stealth marketing: Microsoft paying YouTubers for Xbox One mentions – The line between traditional, paid advertising and organic editorial content on the Internet can sometimes be hazy. A recent stealth promotional campaign between Microsoft and Machinima highlights just how hazy that line has become, and how behind-the-scenes payments can drive ostensibly independent opinion-mongering on by users on services like YouTube.

Messaging Giant WhatsApp, Now With 430M Users, Has No Plans For Disappearing Photos – WhatsApp, an early mover in the messaging app space, has racked up 430 million active users to date. But despite the influx of new competition from the likes of Line, WeChat, KakaoTalk and Snapchat, WhatsApp says it will be sticking to its guns: avoiding advertising; staying away from “gimmicks” like disappearing photos and games; and continuing to request its users to keep paying to use the service as its basic business model. The app, which used to be paid, is now free to download and costs $0.99/year to use after the first year.

Games and Entertainment:

10 awesome PC games that are completely free – You’ve looked over your budget, and things are pretty grim. If you splurge on that brand-new $50 game, it’ll cost you a week’s worth of groceries. You can last that long without eating, right? Don’t go hungry. Instead, check out these awesome PC games that cost nothing, nada, zilch. Hours of endless fun can be yours at the low, low price of free.

Sony PlayStation 4 error causes corrupted save games – It is sometimes a great feeling to be on the bleeding edge of technology, but there are also some downsides to being an early adopter. This is a truth that some of the very first batch of PlayStation 4 users are learning the hard way as they are forced to say goodbye to hours of hard work in games.

Dead Rising 3 Review – With the release of the third installment of the Dead Rising series we were told we’d see a whole new door opened for not only the series, but the zombie-crunching genre as well. Seeing the game in all the biggest Xbox One advertisements was no small deterrent to the idea that this would be one of the games to watch with the launch of the console, and once we got down to business, it was almost instantly proven. Dead Rising 3 is easily one of the finest games on the Xbox One today.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Sci-fi tech no longer: video – In this post-CES recap, we take a look at some of the futuristic TV shows and movies that predicted the tech we saw finally saw with our own eyes at this year’s trade show.

10 great MOOCs for techies — all free, starting soon! – Feeling like your IT, project management or leadership skills could use a boost? No need to enroll in a degree program or pay for certification — take a Massive Online Open Course instead.

Oversharenting Victims Rebel: The Quest for Online Anonymity – New research shows that Generation Z favors anonymous or self-destructing social media over more permanent and identifiable identities on Facebook or Twitter, and they’re voting with their feet; some studies estimate that over 11 million young people have left Facebook since 2011. So before we know it, our ubiquitous digital footprints may look like more like dinosaur tracks.

Mars mystery rock analysis shows unusual composition following sudden appearance – The NASA rover Opportunity sent back a couple of surprising images from Mars last week, both of which were taken with its Pancam, revealing the rather sudden appearance of a small rock. Researchers were surprised at the quick change, and though they offered a couple possible explanations, an investigation was kicked off to try and determine how it happened. Fast-forward through the weekend, and an analysis has offered a new surprise: the chemical composition is unlike anything previously analyzed on the Red Planet.

Rosetta awakens, readies for first-ever road trip with a comet – The European spacecraft finally sent a signal home after 31 months of hibernation. Now it prepares to meet up and ride along with a comet later this year.

Google’s “High Handed” Bus Memo – Like the last time people tried busing as a solution to a socioeconomic problem, the tech busing in San Francisco has become a hot-button topic. The Google buses, described as “spaceships” containing “alien overlords” by writer Rebecca Solnit, have become potent symbols for income inequality within the city. Beyond the transportation issues, they are now symbolic of other unwanted repercussions…

The one consumer electronics market Sony still dominates: prison – Sony used to be the big name in consumer electronics. While the company is hardly out of business, it has lost its position as the one to beat, but it still absolutely dominates one segment of the market–prison inmates.

Something to think about:

Conscience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does.”

–     Evan Esar

Today’s Free Downloads:

IObit Advanced Mobile Care 4.0 – Advanced Mobile Care is an all-in-one Android security and performance optimization app that performs real-time virus scans while also featuring a brand new Anti-theft, powerful Game Speeder, Battery Saver, App Manager, Task Killer, Privacy Locker, Privacy Advisor and Cloud Backup. With its sleek design and powerful features, Advanced Mobile Care gives Android users an excellent way to protect their smartphones from Android security and performance problems. With Advanced Mobile Care, your device will receive automated protection and system tune-ups like Malware Removal, Privacy Protection, and Operating System Cleaning in addition to an extensive toolbox of system utilities.

Sandboxie 4.0.8 – Run programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer. Sandboxie requires neither the disabling nor blocking of functions available to Web sites through the browser. Instead, Sandboxie isolates and quarantines the outcome of whatever the Web site may do to your computer, including the installation of unsolicited software. There is no trade-off of functionality for security: the Web site can use the full range of active content tools, and if it uses these tools maliciously to install software or otherwise make changes in your computer, then these changes can be easily undone.

Advanced Renamer 3.62 – Advanced Renamer is a free program for renaming multiple files and folders at once. By configuring renaming methods the names can be manipulated in various ways. It is easy to set up an advanced batch job using multiple methods on a large amount of files. The 13 different methods enables you to change the names, attributes, and timestamps of files in one go. The files can also be copied or moved to new locations based on information in the files. With Advanced Renamer you can construct new file names by adding, removing, replacing, changing case, or giving the file a brand new name based on known information about the file.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

F-Secure’s Hypponen leads RSA refuseniks to NSA-free infosec chatfest: TrustyCon scores speakers from Google, cash from Microsoft – It was probably inevitable: a group of RSA Conference refuseniks have established a rival conference within walking distance of the original. The one-day TrustyCon, to be held on 27 February at the AMC Metreon Theatre in San Francisco, has drawn Mikko Hypponen as its keynote, giving “The talk I was going to give at RSA”. So far, the only other confirmed speakers are ISEC Partners’ Alex Stamos; Marcia Hofmann (EFA) and Christopher Soghoian (American Civil Liberties Union) who dropped out of the RSA Conference; Google’s Chris Palmer; and Black Hat’s Jeff Moss. At the time of writing, that left three slots still open at TrustyCon. Microsoft and Cloudflare have both signed on as sponsors.

New documents: NSA provided 2-3 daily “tips” to FBI for at least 3 years – According to newly-declassified court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the National Security Agency (NSA) was (and may still be) tipping off the FBI at least two to three times per day going back at least to 2006.

Microsoft calls for international convention on govt data access – Microsoft has spoken out about the NSA reforms, stating that they do not go far enough and should be complemented by an international framework on data privacy and government surveillance.

Intelligence chair: NSA leaker Edward Snowden may have had Russian help – Russia may have helped the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to reveal details of surveillance programmes and escape US authorities last year, the chairman of the House intelligence committee claimed on Sunday. Mike Rogers, a Republican representative from Michigan, interviewed by NBC’s Meet the Press, said Snowden was “a thief whom we believe had some help”, and added that there was an “ongoing” investigation into whether Russia had aided Snowden.

NSA critics in Congress sense reform momentum after Obama speech – Critics of National Security Agency surveillance are hoping President Barack Obama’s call to stop government collection of telephone data will give fresh momentum to legislation aimed at banning the practice entirely. On Friday, three new co-sponsors joined the 120 congressmen who have already backed the so-called USA Freedom Act, but their reform bill faces tough competition from rival lawmakers who claim the president’s broad support for the NSA favours separate efforts to protect its powers.

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