Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 23, 2014

How to Make Your Smartphone Smarter;  Social media lockdown: 4 privacy features;  Consumer Watchdog files Google+ complaint;  Chromebook power tips;  Chrome lets websites secretly record you?  13 Websites to Avoid;  5 upcoming Android phones;   Snapchat’s new verification already hacked;  Logmein Alternatives;  Google launches YouTube speed test;  Snowden, in rare interview;  Retail is RIDDLED with malware and bots;  Take control of your mobile number with Google Voice.

Google Glass User Detained By Feds Talks About Ordeal – The programmer has asked that we not reveal his name. “I am trying to limit my ‘celebrity,’” he said. He has special prescription lenses inserted into his device and wears them almost all the time. He is a Balkan immigrant and is working towards citizenship. He graduated from Ohio State University and now works as a network engineer.

Social media lockdown: 4 privacy features you won’t find in your settings – You use a social network—at least one, maybe a few. Everyone does. You probably know all about your preferred network’s privacy settings, enough to make sure that the whole world doesn’t know your business. But if you’re paranoid—aren’t we all?—you can find ways to lock down your privacy that go above and beyond even two-factor authentication.

Take control of your mobile number with Google Voice – When you sign up for a free Google Voice account, Google gives you a free phone number. Incoming calls can simultaneously ring on up to six phones linked to your account. Outbound calls can be placed using the Google Voice Android or iOS app, or from Google Voice on the web. Unfortunately, Google Voice remains a U.S. only service as of January 2014.

Logmein Kills Free Remote Access Service, Here Are Some Alternatives – Users of the non-subscription tier of Logmein got some bad news yesterday–the service is being discontinued in favor of a subscription-only model. It’s not unusual for an app or service to migrate from free to paid operation, but the timing here is odd. Logmein retired the free service the same day it announced the change. Now the clock is ticking and customers have seven days to buy a subscription or find a replacement app.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Make Your Smartphone Smarter – Whether it’s a text from a wrong number in the middle of the night or a call that comes in during a meeting, our indispensable smartphones have a way of intruding at exactly the wrong time. Wouldn’t it be great if your smartphone were smart enough to know what you were doing? With the right apps, it can feel as though it does. Here’s how to make your smartphone smarter.

Chromebook power tips: Work smarter online and off – Bet you don’t know everything Chrome OS can do: keyboard shortcuts, Chromecast capers, and yes, offline productivity.

Site24x7 Launches First Free Cloud Service to Ensure Your On-Premise Monitoring Products Are Working Effectively – Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service from ManageEngine, today announced the launch of the first free, cloud-based service to monitor traditional on-premise network, system and application monitoring products. Available immediately, this new service enables IT groups to monitor the monitors themselves to make sure the software that companies rely on is working effectively — which is critical for the continuity of operations.

Step into another skin with Everyday Racism app – A new free app for iOS and Android lets you experience a small slice of what life’s like in Australia as an Indian student, a Muslim woman, or an Aboriginal man.

VLC for iPhone and iPad Updated to v2.2 With New UI, Dropbox Streaming, and More – From the moment you open VLC Player version 2.2, you’ll know something is different. The distinctive orange color now extends up into the status bar area, and the file list has been redesigned as a series of narrow bands on iPhone and tiles on iPad—it’s a very nice look. The player UI also makes use of the frosted glass effect when you pull the controls up, which is actually a good use for it (unlike some other parts of the OS).

Windows 8.1 Update Will Contain Improvements To Metro Apps – This morning Paul Thurrott detailed a number of tweaks that will appear in the 2014 update of Windows 8.1. Screenshots from WZor confirm a few of Paul’s earlier notes on upcoming changes to Windows 8.x that are worth discussing.

13 Websites to Avoid If You Value Your Time – It’s not because they suck, but because they suck time. They cause a rift in the space-time continuum that will have you wondering just how you managed to waste so many hours and get nothing in return except the fleeting joy of kitten pictures, pratfall videos, and other memes. What they all have in common is they’re pretty damn popular. Hey, we know you like a good time-waster. So do we.

Google’s Knowledge Graph Now Being Used To Enhance Individual Search Results – Google’s Knowledge Graph is getting baked into actual search results, the company is announcing today. In a blog post on its official Search Blog, Google explains how you’re now able to learn more about the topics you’re searching for by clicking names that appear next to a given link in your search results. These additional, informational widgets are only appearing in desktop searches at present.

iPhone 5s Owners Gobbling “Unprecedented” Levels Of Data, Study Finds – A large-scale survey of mobile data consumption in 2013 conducted by JDSU has found flagship smartphone device users are continuing to outpace the data consumption rates of tablet users. But the most data thirsty phone users of all have an iPhone 5s burning a hole in their pocket — and they are responsible for “unprecedented” levels of data gobbling.

Seagate hard drives exhibit surprisingly high failures rates in reliability test, Hitachi leads the pack – The results of hard drive reliability tests conducted by online backup company Backblaze show that Seagate lags far behind competitors when it comes to the dependability of their products.

Windows Phone sales are actually beating iPhone in 27 countries – It looks as though 2013 was a pretty big year for Windows Phone. Despite the fact that it’s still looked at as a major underdog in the mobile fight, devices running Microsoft’s mobile OS are actually outselling the iPhone in 27 different countries. Where is Windows Phone hot? Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia. It has shoved its way past the iPhone in Mexico and Columbia, Italy and Greece, and India and Pakistan. In Nokia’s home country, Windows Phone is beating the iPhone, too. Forbes has the full list of countries, and there are some common threads.

5 upcoming Android phones that are worth waiting for – If you’re on the fence about the current crop of smartphones, consider what’s coming up later this year before you get an Android phone that’s already a few months old — that’s eons in phone years. Device makers are working on the lineup for 2014, and we’re going to be bombarded with new devices before you know it. Let’s see what upcoming Android phones are going to be worth your upgrade…

Microsoft launches rethinkie.com, a showcase of the modern web – Microsoft has released a new website that showcases many of the projects the IE team has created over the past few years to highlight modern web capabilities and the team is now looking ahead at 2014.

American consumers desert PCs for most mundane chore – Traditional PCs were used at historically low rates last quarter to open emails, another sign that a long-time task of those notebooks and desktops has been hijacked by mobile devices, an email-centric firm said today.

Consumer Watchdog files Google+ complaint with FTC – Google, through its plan to link Gmail addresses to its Google+ social network, is violating a privacy agreement the company made with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said a long-time critic of the company’s privacy practices in a complaint to the agency. Google+ also has a “flagrant and fundamental privacy design flaw” because it allows any user to add other users to his circles without their permission, frequent Google critic Consumer Watchdog said in the complaint.

Security:

Chrome lets websites secretly record you? Google says no, but… – A design flaw in the Chrome browser can allow malicious websites to use your computer’s microphone to eavesdrop on you, one developer has claimed, although Google denies that this is the case. “Even while not using your computer – conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised,” Israeli developer Tal Ater wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. According to Ater, the vulnerability arises when sites aren’t completely forthright about when they are using the microphone.

Parents want transparency from schools concerning use of student data – A new survey suggests that the majority of American adults are concerned about how student data is collected, stored and shared in schools.

Snapchat’s new verification already hacked – Security researcher shows that the service’s new “find the ghost” system to prove that you’re a human and not a bot can be easily tricked.

Steve Hickson’s graphic shows points on a Snapchat ghost extracted from its image recognition system that his script matched against a Snapchat ghost template he created. (Credit: Steve Hickson)

Not Enough Evidence the Internet of Things Botnet Actually Exists – There was a report last week about a spam botnet using “Internet of Things” devices—a refrigerator, even!—but the evidence supporting this claim feels a little circumstantial.

When ZOMBIES go shopping: 40m Target customer breach? That’s NOTHING! – Retail is RIDDLED with malware and bots – survey – Malware linked to fraud in the retail sector may be a bigger problem than even the recent revelation about the compromise of systems US retailer Target suggests. Analysis of 139 US retailers from November 2013 until 12 January 2014 by net security firm BitSight found 1,035 instances of unique malware infections actively communicating with attackers from inside corporate networks: 7.5 on average per company.

ShapeShifter: Beatable, But We’ll Hear More About It – A California company called Shape Security claims that their network box can disable malware attacks, by using polymorphism to rewrite webpages before they are sent to the user’s browser. Most programmers will immediately spot several ways that the system can be defeated, but it may still slow attackers down or divert them towards other targets.” Read on for the rest of Bennett’s thoughts.

Company News:

Netflix Downplays Court’s Net Neutrality Decision, Says Internet Providers Unlikely To Act – In the letter to shareholders that accompanied today’s earnings report, Netflix addresses the recent circuit court decision that was seen as a threat to net neutrality. That decision could potentially be a problem for Netflix, because it could provide legal justification for Internet providers to reduce the speed at which Netflix video content is delivered unless the company pays the providers.

Google launches YouTube speed test, takes a swipe at slow ISPs – Google thinks ISPs aren’t holding up their end of the internet bargain. The company’s new tool lets users easily avoid companies Google says are slowing the flow of information.

OpenBSD won’t CloseBSD (for now) after $100,000 cash windfall – The cash-strapped OpenBSD Foundation has raised $100,000, potentially saving it from the brink of oblivion. The Foundation has had pledges of “around” $100,000 from individuals and organisations following its appeal to cover a $20,000 server electricity bill. The group claimed 1,704 donations “large and small.”

Motorola reveals plans for $50 smartphone, more device customization – Motorola raised quite a few eyebrows last year with the launch of its affordable Moto G handset, but the company is planning an even bigger push at the very lowest end of the market. While rivals such as Nokia aggressively pursue the entry level of the market with low-cost-high-value handsets, Motorola has revealed that it is keen to deliver even more affordable smartphones.

Lenovo agrees to buy IBM’s server business for $2.3 billion – Lenovo Group has agreed to buy IBM’s x86 server hardware business and related maintenance services for US$2.3 billion, it announced Thursday. Trading in shares of Lenovo was halted on Thursday morning on the Hong Kong stock exchange ahead of the announcement.

Toshiba purchase of OCZ finalized, first new products released – The bankruptcy and subsequent sale appear to have done little to interrupt OCZ’s operations. The company today announced the latest generation of Vertex-branded SSDs, the Vertex 460. The SATA disks are available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities, with sequential read and write speeds of 545MBps and 525MBps, respectively; integrated AES-256 encryption; and an endurance of 20GB per day of writes for three years.

TiVo reportedly lays off much of its hardware team – DVR maker laid off “most” of its hardware engineers, according to Wired, but a spokesperson denies that the company is getting out of the hardware business.

Games and Entertainment:

Hearthstone: How to make gold, get cards, and succeed free – Blizzard’s free-to-play digital CCG Hearthstone has finally hit open beta, but is it truly free to play? With these tips it could be.

New SteamOS beta ISO offers support for BIOS-based PCs and more – Valve released the first beta version of its Linux-based SteamOS over a month ago, but gave plenty of warnings that this first build was for the highly advanced PC owner and not for the timid. This week, the developer released a new version that gets it a bit closer to the normal PC user.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game where a man in a mariachi outfit dismembers giant robots with his electric sword. What more needs to be said?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Coolest, most realistic paper airplane ever – Luca Iaconi-Stewart’s Boeing 777-300ER is made entirely from manila folders. He’s been working on it since 2008, and now it’s almost finished.

Old Spice Is Back With Another Set Of Viral Things – This Time, It’s Prank Websites – After a short break, Old Spice — otherwise known as “that company that makes really, really good ads and, I don’t know, deodorant or something” — is back with another campaign that proves their ad team is one of very few that can repeatedly and intentionally make things that go viral. This time around, it’s prank websites.

Study: Facebook to Lose 80 Percent of Users, Become the Next MySpace – Just like an infectious disease, social networks can spread rapidly, gaining millions of users in a short amount of time, and then abruptly die off. It happened to MySpace, and Facebook could be next, according to a new study from Princeton University.

Netflix CEO: Curse you, password sharing! – On what’s typically a snoozy earnings discussion, Reed Hastings shares what he claims is the log-in info for the head of rival HBO. And the password would make your grandma gasp.

Wanted man shares police Facebook update (his mugshot) – Police in Pennsylvania say that a man wanted on assault charges shared their status about his mug shot on his own Facebook page. This leads, stunningly, to his arrest.

30 Years After ‘1984’: A Look Back at Apple’s Mac Commercials – The spot, directed by Ridley Scott, aired during Super Bowl XVIII. It opened on a Big Brother-type leader speaking to the sheepish gray masses from a massive screen. A female athlete in full color soon runs in, however, shattering Big Brother’s image with a throw of a sledgehammer. “On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984,’” the tagline read.

Something to think about:

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.”

–      Henry Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

Listen N Write – Listen N Write can be used to play and transcribe ordinary WAV or MP3 recordings. Listen N Write has special features simplifying the transcription work as you can control via keys (while using its integrated word processor) and insert time markers (bookmarks). Moreover, the audio stream is automatically rewinded a few seconds when pressing the Stop key. Listen N Write can be considered the standard program for any transcription because of its simplicity of use and small size.

Why Can’t I Connect? – “Why Can’t I Connect” makes it easier to resolve TCP/IP connection errors. Use it to diagnose connections to common server types and create generic clients and / or servers. A source tar, a 32 bit rpm, a 32 bit deb, and a 32 bit Windows install exe are available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden, in rare interview, denies all accusations of help from Moscow – Snowden again underscored that “in nine months, no one has credibly shown any harm to national security” from his revelations, “nor any ill intent.” Moreover, he pointed out that “the President himself admitted both that changes are necessary and that he is certain the debate my actions started will make us stronger.” Snowden concluded by saying that he “knew what he was getting into” when he set this entire operation into motion. “At least the American public has a seat at the table now,” he said. “It may sound trite,” but if “I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it.”

Verizon’s transparency report shows more than 320,000 US data slurping order – Verizon has published its first transparency report detailing how often governments come calling for customer records and conversations – and the results show the amount of stuff Google, Microsoft and others hand over is just a drop in the ocean by comparison. Last year the network operator received 321,545 requests for customer data from US law enforcement, including 6,312 tap-and-trace demands and 1,496 orders to wiretap subscribers’ calls. In addition, the company was subject to between 1,000 and 2,000 national security letters – a presidentially issued order to hand over data, the details of which cannot be revealed.

Microsoft offers to store foreign customers’ personal data on servers outside the U.S. – One day after Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith proposed that an international convention establish the legal framework for government access to data, he took that idea a step further today and said that the company will now offer its foreign customers a way to store personal data on servers that are based outside the U.S. The idea is that the content would be out of the reach of organizations such as the National Security Agency.

Privacy dominates tech execs’ discussion at Davos – Internet users will never have total privacy, a group of chief executives of communication and Internet companies said Wednesday. “I don’t think we as a society want 100 percent privacy,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. “But I think the debate is right.”

“I don’t think we as a society want 100 percent privacy,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson – Yep, you’re right – You don’t think!

2 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 23, 2014

  1. Microsoft’s offer to store personal data outside of the US for foreign users is very noble.
    I would also like that option. If granted, I will be able to stop complaining about the US Govt. agencies spying on me and start blaming a foreign government instead.
    I think it’s a win, win, request. 🙂