Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 26, 2014

RSA: You’re Not Nearly Angry Enough About Security, Otherwise You’d Fight Back;  7 hidden dangers of wearable computers;  We’re building undersea cable to thwart US spying, say Brazil and Europe;  Practice safe Androiding;  Five add-ons to make Google Apps play nice in the enterprise;  5 password managers that protect your personal data too;  Use Google Chrome’s secret guest profile feature;  New free online software security training courses;  The 50 Geekiest Movies Streaming on Netflix;  Google Glass blamed for melee in SF bar;  Google lobbying against Glass driving bans;  House passes bill that would allow cell phone unlocking;  NSA snooping tactics will be copied by criminals in 3 to 5 years.

RSA: You’re Not Nearly Angry Enough About Security, Otherwise You’d Fight Back – At his RSAC 2014 keynote presentation, it was clear that Juniper Systems’s Security Business unit Senior Vice President and General Manager Nawaf Bitar was mad as hell. But to be more to the point, he was mad as hell that more people weren’t enraged by what he characterized as an assault on individuals’ personal information. “You in this room have to do better,” said Bitar. “We’re complicit—standing by and watching a crime.” (I’m not complicit – I yell and scream as loud as I can, everyday, in print, and in my personal life, about this NSA insanity. What about you – what are you doing?)

We’re building undersea cable to thwart US spying, say Brazil and Europe – The cable, which will stretch from Portugal to Brazil, was discussed on Monday by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, at the seventh EU-Brazil Summit in Brussels.

Five add-ons to make Google Apps play nice in the enterprise – For Google Apps administrators and users, the move away from legacy systems can be challenging. Google Apps have seen some success in schools and businesses, but concerns over security and management have kept some organizations away. Here are five add-ons to help you manage and take control of Google Apps.

Microsoft rallies Windows for price war with Android – Dirt-cheap Windows PCs and tablets are coming, and it’s all thanks to Google’s growing low-price threat. Microsoft made two moves this weekend to counter the small but growing rebellion. First came news of the company reportedly cutting the cost of Windows 8 licenses to a mere $15 for devices sold under $250. Then on Sunday, Microsoft confirmed the long-rumored Windows 8.1 update, which essentially halved the system requirements for Windows devices. Yes, folks, Microsoft’s sick of losing customers to Google—and a price war is brewing.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 password managers that protect your personal data too – Credit cards, social security numbers, logins—each of us passes enough personal information through our PCs and mobile devices to complete a dossier. All that data isn’t just tough to remember, it’s also difficult to keep secure. Writing everything down on a piece of paper or in a text file or PDF is risky, but do you really want to encrypt your hard drive for a few lousy passwords and account numbers?

Flap off, data thieves! Practice safe Androiding – Android’s increasing popularity comes with a price — malware. Jack Wallen offers up his best practices to help you keep your Android free from malicious software.

Opternative Is The First Online Eye Exam That Writes You A Prescription – “Do I need glasses?” is a question you have to get an in-person eye test to answer. But today, online eye exam provider Opternative is coming out of stealth to get you a doctor’s perscription for glasses straight from your computer or phone. Opternative’s test takes five to ten minutes and costs around $35 — 75% less than in-person exams. With $1 million in funding it plans to launch this summer.

Apple’s culture of secrecy delays security response – again – Apple finally delivers a cure for the “goto fail” plague, but this isn’t the first time that sluggish Apple response times have put its users at risk.

7 hidden dangers of wearable computers – Wearable technologies enable capture and collection of amazingly detailed information about an individual’s life, including their lifestyle choices, personal health, location, movement and daily routines. Without the right privacy controls, such data could end up being used in ways never imagined or intended. And without the right security controls, data gathered by such devices could enable identity theft, stalking, fraud and other crimes.

House passes bill that would allow cell phone unlocking – Legislation would repeal a Library of Congress decision not to issue a DMCA exemption against phone unlocking but prohibit bulk device unlocking.

Office 2013 service pack one released – Microsoft has released the first service pack for Office 2013 and the update comes in both x86 and x64 flavors. We have posted the download links after the jump but know that the files are quite large.

How to use Google Chrome’s secret guest profile feature – Guest profiles are a must for anyone who occasionally hands over their PC to others. With guest profiles, you won’t have to worry about your friends signing you out of Facebook and Gmail, futzing with your bookmarks, or spying some personal browsing habits you’d rather keep private. The addition of guest profiles is yet another feature that is slowly migrating from Chrome OS to Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

20 technology certifications that are paying off – Certifications ranging from software lifecycle management to cloud and database architecture to project management are hot skill areas for the year ahead.

Disney Movies Anywhere App Comes to iPhone and iPad with Excellent iTunes Integration – Disney has just released a new app for iPad and iPhone that makes it easier to find new movies, and make use of the ones you already own. The Disney Movies Anywhere app provides a place for you to preview and buy copies of Disney and Marvel movies, but also can be used to redeem the digital copy codes found on Disney DVDs and Blu-rays. it even includes deep iTunes integration.

Hands-on with Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 release candidate – This release is available with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop, in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. There is good news for those who are concerned about compatibility with non-PAE CPUs: the 32-bit version of this release comes with a 486-compatible kernel by default. However, this has a negative impact for those who want to use 32-bit multi-core CPUs. The situation is described in detail in the Known Problems document.


Create a Ken Burns-style photo project on your iPhone with PhotoMotion – PhotoMotion gives you a simple set of tools to create a cool-looking project out of your photos, but a lack of extras will leave you wanting more.

Mastercard tests credit cards that won’t work unless you’re nearby – Mastercard and roaming infrastructure company Syniverse have come up with a way to protect credit card transactions abroad with help from a phone’s location. The two companies are piloting a service that will enable card transactions for users only when they have their mobile device switched on in a specific geolocation abroad. The aim is to reduce fraud and decrease the number of real transactions that are declined.


Apple Issues Patch For OS X SSL Security Vulnerability – Apple faced a considerable security threat with its SSL flaw, present in both iOS and OS X devices over the past few days. The iOS bug was plugged late Friday via the iOS 7.0.6 update made available to iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, but Macs with 10.9 went unpatched until now. The fix is out, however, so grab it and get your Macs updated to v10.9.2 as soon as possible.

But wait……. there’s more.

Apple issues many security updates for OS X, including Lion and Mountain Lion – In addition to fixing a high-priority bug in SSL/TLS and shipping numerous feature tweaks and fixes, Apple released a large number of security fixes today to OS X, Safari and QuickTime for Windows. There were 33 vulnerabilities patched in OS X, four in Safari and 10 in QuickTime for Windows.

Ethical hacking organisation site hacked, defaced with Snowden’s passport – The attacker says it’s just the tip of the iceberg, claiming that s/he’s “sitting on thousands of passports” belonging to law enforcement and military personnel.

Android Botnets Hop on the TOR Train – Today, an article posted by Roman Unuchek of Kaspersky described the discovery of the first “TOR Trojan for Android” and how cyber criminals have taken the source code for Orbot, a TOR network client for Android, and modified it with malicious functionality, such as that a Bot would have.

South Korea concocting Stuxnet-like virus to infect enemies – Let’s hope that somebody in South Korea remembers that malware doesn’t respect borders. Stuxnet escaped from its original cage to bite a whole bunch of countries not originally on the hit list, plus it spawned its nasty son, Duqu.

Fake PayPal “Survey Program” Email Wants Card Details – Be wary of emails bearing gifts – in this case, claiming to reward those who would fill in a so-called PayPal survey to obtain a “£25 reward”. This one is flagged as spam in Gmail, but depending on your mail provider it may creep into the Inbox instead of the Spam folder:

Company News:

Apple, Symantec, other tech heavies challenge anti-gay legislation – Apple, Symantec, and other have put their weight behind efforts to defeat a law in Arizona which would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. The companies are among a growing list of businesses that have publicly called on Governor Jan Brewer to veto SB1062, a bill that would expand an existing religious-freedom law to allow businesses to refuse service to customers based on sexual orientation. Proponents of the bill have argued that it aims to allow business owners to express their religious beliefs. Opponents say that the bill would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community and violate civil rights laws.

BBM sale a possibility BlackBerry CEO admits – BlackBerry’s CEO has responded to the sudden interest in BBM, its secure messaging service, after Facebook’s $19bn buy of WhatsApp, admitting that he’d be open to selling it off if the price was right. Valuations of just how much each BBM user might be worth surged in the aftermath of news that Facebook would pay around $42 per user for WhatsApp, as investors considered the idea that they may have been underestimating how important data-based messaging services could be.

Microsoft could take on Google’s YouTube with proposed Dailymotion partnership – Orange CEO Stéphane Richard claimed today in a TV interview that his company was in partnership talks with Microsoft concerning Orange’s video streaming website Dailymotion.

King goes sour on candy trademark, abandons application – As if the sheer existence of Candy Crush Saga was not already enough to earn the scorn of the internet, the game maker filed for a trademark on the word “candy” last year. When the patent application at the US Trademark Office was noticed, it set off a bit of a firestorm with King. Apparently, King couldn’t take the heat because the company has just withdrawn its trademark application. Score one for internet vigilantism.

Google lobbying against Glass driving bans – Google is fighting back against threats that Glass could be banned from use by drivers, lobbying US state officials in the hope of more nuanced guidelines than an all-out block on in-car wearable tech. The safety of head-mounted displays like Glass made headlines last year, after one “Glass Explorer” early-adopter was ticketed for distracted driving after being pulled over for speeding and found to be wearing Google’s experimental gadget.

Games and Entertainment:

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare throws players into the weeds – Sadly, with this week’s Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, the potted plant has been dropped. A giant, online-only battle between zombies and plants isn’t entirely illogical for the series, and Popcap and EA have teamed up to make a highly polished, kinda-budget-priced shooting game. But Garden Warfare’s makers have done away with all the best parts of the license, instead leaving fans with a wholly obtuse battle that lacks the grace and humor of its namesake.


The 50 Geekiest Movies Streaming on Netflix – Everyone loves streaming movies, but no one more than hardcore nerds. Here are the 50 films currently streaming on Netflix that no member of the fandom should miss.

Microsoft to add gameplay broadcasting to Xbox One for Titanfall launch – Microsoft will finally add a way for Xbox One gamers to live stream matches from the console via the app sometime in March, around the time that Titanfall is released.

Be the Monty Python foot in ‘Holy Grail’ stomping game – Make a splat by playing the role of the famous animated Monty Python foot in the Holy Stomping online game.


Superior Tactics for Android Lives Up to its Name – Superior Tactics is a new real-time strategy game on Android, and despite its stripped down appearance, it’s an excellent example of the genre. In this game you are presented with 200 missions of increasing difficulty. Along the way you’ll build up a massive battlefleet armed to the teeth with lasers and missiles, all trained on the enemy.


World of Warcraft’s $60 level-boosts reflect important economic reality – In games, as in life, the only truly nonrenewable resource is time. Thus, anything that saves a player time in getting something they want will have some important real-world value. World of Warcraft seems to finally be acknowledging this basic economic fact of life, letting players pay $60 to instantly level any character all the way up to level 90 in its upcoming expansion.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Google Glass blamed for melee in SF bar – Questions of privacy arise after a woman says she was “verbally and physically assaulted” for wearing the device in a San Francisco bar.

The Unlikely Tale of How ARM Came to Rule the World – This is a story about ARM Holdings (ARMH), the mobile technology company. But before it gets going, here are a few things you need to know.

New free online software security training courses – Security Engineering Training by SAFECode is an online community resource offering free security training courses delivered via on-demand webcasts. Covering issues from preventing SQL injection to avoiding cross site request forgery, the courses are designed to be used as building blocks for those looking to create an in-house training program for their product development teams, as well as individuals interested in enhancing their skills.

The Huffington Post: Here’s An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose – With recreational pot now for sale in Colorado and widespread confusion over a recent satirical story that jokingly claimed 37 people had already died of a marijuana overdose, we figured it might be about time to update our weed death count. So, here’s a GIF that still accurately shows all of the people who have died after overdosing on pot:

Yeah, not a single person has ever died from a weed overdose. We don’t have numbers on pandas, but we’re guessing it’s about the same. According to one frequently cited study, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC in a joint in order to be at risk of dying.

Watch a virus-like particle try to enter a cell — in 3D – Princeton researchers say their two-camera approach offers the most detailed footage of a nano-sized particle to date, which could ultimately shed light on how viruses and cells interact.

Try The World Brings Paris, Rio, And Tokyo To You In $45 Subscription Boxes – I can show you the world, shining, shimmering splendid. All it will take is $45 every two months, and Try The World will send you a gourmet box full of locally sourced goods from countries around the world.

Something to think about:

Human Dignity has gleamed only now and then and here and there, in lonely splendor, throughout the ages, a hope of the better men, never an achievement of the majority.”

–     James Thurber

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpringPublisher – SpringPublisher can create and print high-quality documents, cards, and more using templates or your own settings. You can add images, text, barcodes, QR codes, maps, and more. It’s free for non-commercial use in Windows 2000 to 8. A Pro upgrade, supporting high-resolution printing, microperforated paper, and other features is available. Desktop publishing programs aren’t the dominant force in software they were when every PC had a dot-matrix printer. But these days, when you do print something, it needs to look good, too, and that’s where SpringPublisher shines.


Sketch Drawer for PC – Today Only 100% Off – Sketch Drawer lets you transform digital photos into cool color and black and white pencil sketches with just a few clicks.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Make cyberwar a no-no equal to nukes, bio, and chemical attacks, says RSA headman. And while you’re at it, Art Coviello suggests, break up the NSA – Coviello said that RSA, along with almost every other computer security firm, worked with the NSA in defending the US. But he defended the company’s support for the pre-weakened Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual EC DRBG) standard endorsed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, saying that RSA worked with standards bodies and had changed its software once the flaw had been found in the encryption technique. However, Coviello said that the NSA had overstepped the mark and that the agency needs to be broken up to ensure that its role is solely defensive in nature and to keep its operations under rein. But he also called on governments and the security industry to adopt four key principles to avoid the destruction of trust and privacy online.

Schneier: NSA snooping tactics will be copied by criminals in 3 to 5 years – If you thought NSA snooping was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet: online criminals have also been watching and should soon be able to copy the agency’s invasive surveillance tactics, according to security guru Bruce Schneier. The mass surveillance carried out by the NSA was made possible not just thanks to the agency’s huge budget and matching motivation, he said, but also because the fundamental model of the internet and the companies that operate on it allowed it. Entire business plans for Facebook, Google and others are predicated on collecting personal data and using it (with some psychological techniques) to convince us to buy stuff. All that data is swirling around and it’s going to be a top target for savvy crooks, he said. The very business model of many online firms has created hugely valuable data flows that the NSA, other countries’ intelligence agencies, and ultimately the criminal community, wish to feast upon.

EU mulling investment in South America-Europe undersea cable – The European Union is considering helping to fund a $185-million project to lay an undersea cable from Brazil to Europe. The project, which is already under way, is being carried out by Brazilian telecoms provider Telebras and Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables. The project is of strategic importance to “guarantee the neutrality” of the Internet, said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff following a Brazil-E.U. summit in Brussels on Monday. Brazil currently relies on U.S. undersea cables to carry almost all of its communications to Europe via Miami as the existing cable between Europe and Brazil is outdated and can only be used for voice. Although the issue was not formally on the summit agenda, both Rousseff and E.U. leaders are worried about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance. Rousseff postponed a state visit to Washington last year in protest at spying on her phone, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose mobile phone was also tapped, last week called for a E.U.-only cloud. Rousseff said Brazil and the European Union have “similar concerns” about U.S. dominance of fibre-optic cables.

Juniper Networks exec: ‘First-world outrage’ will not help cyber security – Cyber attacks post a greater threat than terrorism, suggests one Juniper Networks exec. But public apathy seems to be overshadowing the severity of the situation.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 25, 2014

New attack completely bypasses Microsoft zero-day protection;  Make voice calls through WhatsApp;  How to Use Your Smartphone Camera to Search;  How to e-mail yourself a Web page with just one click;  Free utility finds unwanted programs uninstallers miss;  The Epic App Brings Kids’ Books To The iPad;  LinkedIn Tells You More About Who’s Viewed Your Profile;  Samsung Unveils The Galaxy Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo And Gear Fit;  IRS exposing Social Security numbers online;  Books Every InfoSec Professional Should Read;  Introduction to Linux – A Hands on Guide;  Microsoft Cuts The Xbox One Price In The UK;  Social media is causing a surge of lice in teens.

Counter-terrorism expert lists 10 impacts of NSA on cloud security – The NSA is so good at collecting intelligence that it has the potential to create a police surveillance state that could never be shut off, counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke said during his keynote address at the Cloud Security Alliance Summit taking place Monday at the RSA Conference. Since such technology is available around the world to many governments, “the task of controlling them is more important than it has ever been,” Clarke said. He concluded his talk by saying, “I believe we can have both security and civil liberties, but we can only do that if we keep a very close eye on the government and demand transparency and oversight and tell them we are not willing to trade our civil liberties for greater security.”

Free utility finds unwanted programs uninstallers miss – Belarc Advisor’s complete inventory of your system helps you spot potentially unwanted programs that CCleaner, Revo Uninstaller, and Windows 8.1’s own uninstaller don’t list.

Soon you will be able to make voice calls through WhatsApp – WhatsApp will soon be introducing free voice calls over the app for Android and iOS users, while BlackBerry and Windows Phone will be supported later.

How to Use Your Smartphone Camera to Search – Whether you’re trying to identify something you’d like to buy, checking for deals or looking for information on what you see in the world around you, visual search apps can help.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

What people think about passwords, email snooping and personal data – At the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Fortinet published new research that shows where Millennials and Gen-Xers stand in regards to passwords, online marketing practices, email snooping, and their personal data.

Google’s Schmidt: We don’t (yet) have a connection inside your brain – In conversation with Glenn Beck, Google’s executive chairman explains that humans can still occasionally be useful — for now.

New TextSecure delivers smoother encryption – Open WhisperSystems’ TextSecure update takes some cues from WhatsApp’s functionality, but more importantly it frees messaging from traditional SMS networks while still sending messages between phones.

Type Machine for Android Securely Archives Everything You Type – Typing on mobile devices has gotten better over the years, but it’s still not something to relish. The worst is when you’ve got a big block of text and an app crashes, or a web site becomes unresponsive. You’ll never have to worry about that again with Type Machine for Android. This app plugs into the accessibility service to archive all the text you enter–don’t worry, it seems perfectly safe.

How to e-mail yourself a Web page with just one click – There are lots of ways to “clip” a Web page. But what if you want to e-mail a Web page to yourself? Sure, most browsers have a “save page” option, but that’s not the same thing. Rather, there are times when you might want to revisit a site at later time, either because you don’t have time to read it now or you need to follow through on it later. In those cases, it can be helpful to e-mail yourself a link, effectively turning your inbox into a to-do list so the site doesn’t get forgotten. Here’s how you can accomplish that with just one click.

LinkedIn Tells You More About Who’s Viewed Your Profile – The business-focused social network on Monday introduced a new Who’s Viewed Your Profile section, complete with more “visual analytics and actionable insights designed to give you more ways to manage your professional identity.” The new page offers insights such as the industry your viewers work in, the keyword searches that led them to your profile, how viewers found you, what regions they live in, what profession they’re in, and their employer.

WinZip Moves To The Cloud With Launch Of ZipShare, A Way To Zip, Manage & Share All Your Online Files – WinZip, makers of the file compression utility first launched in the early 90′s that still sees north of 30 million downloads per year, is today making a shift to the cloud. The company is launching ZipShare, a file zipping, management, encryption, and sharing service that works with the major online file hosting platforms.

Infographic – The Tablet Race: The iPad vs. the Rest.


How to make your gloves touchscreen capable – Add smartphone-friendly fingers to your favorite gloves, and you’ll never have to take them off. Take that, Polar Vortex!

Mark Zuckerberg wants to friend the whole world via – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a victory lap through Mobile World Congress Monday, right on the heels of Facebook’s $16 billion purchase of WhatsApp—and WhatsApp’s announcement that it would roll out free phone calls to all of its 465 million users. But Zuck’s keynote (which was really a sit-down chat with The Facebook Effect author David Kirkpatrick) wasn’t all about WhatsApp. Zuckerberg wanted to talk about his initiative, and he did a terrific job staying on message.

Use mobile dictionary apps even when offline – The Merriam-Webster and mobile apps are two of the most popular dictionary apps in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The Android versions of the apps and Merriam-Webster’s iOS app can all be used offline, which should come in handy when you’re on a plane or in a remote location without Internet access.

Samsung Unveils The Galaxy Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo And Gear Fit – Samsung has announced three new smartwatch devices at MWC this year, including the successor to last year’s Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2, as well as a sleeker version called the Neo, and a fitness- and fashion-focused wristband device called the Samsung Gear Fit.


Wi-Fi roaming starts to take flight with Hotspot 2.0 – Smooth roaming from cell to Wi-Fi networks is finally seeing the light of day, with deployments at 21 U.S. airports and at two smaller sites in Europe debuting on Monday. Wi-Fi networks at some of America’s biggest airports, in a park in Warsaw and at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are using Hotspot 2.0, a set of technologies that vendors and service providers around the world have pursued for more than two years. The specification lets users get onto Wi-Fi as easily as they roam onto cellular networks, eliminating the need to choose a network, log in or give a password.

Qualcomm Cuts $100 Off Its Toq Smartwatch – As the dust settles over Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm just announced a modest price drop for its Toq smartwatch from $350 to $250.

SanDisk squeezes 128GB on to a microSDXC memory card – In order to make this latest high capacity memory card a reality, SanDisk had to stack 16 memory die on top of each other. Each one of those is thinner than a strand of hair. The end result is a card that, while offering masses of storage space, isn’t cheap with an MSRP set at $199.99.


The Epic App Brings Kids’ Books To The iPad – Adults have great digital reading experiences thanks to iBook and other apps, but such programs are not exactly kid-friendly. So for many kids under the age of 12 or so, the iPad is for games and movies, and reading is mostly done on physical books. A new startup called Epic! aims to finally bridge that gap by bringing a totally kid-friendly bookshelf and book reading experience to the iPad. Co-founded by online gaming veteran Suren Markosian and former YouTube exec Kevin Donahue, Epic is an all-you-can-read app aimed at kids aged 12 and under that provides access to some 2,000 titles for online and offline reading. The subscription service costs $9.99 per month.

“Introduction to Linux – A Hands on Guide” – This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter. (Registration required.)

Say goodbye to Facebook e-mail – E-mail service, you say? Yes, the social network actually had a service for e-mail addresses that users could get when they signed up — not to be confused with Facebook Messages, Chat, or Messenger. Very few people actually used the service, according to the social network, hence, its retirement.


New iOS flaw makes devices susceptible to covert keylogging, researchers say – Researchers said they have identified a flaw in Apple’s iOS that makes it possible for attackers to surreptitiously log every touch a user makes, including characters typed into the keyboard, TouchID presses, and adjustments to the volume control. The vulnerability affects even non-jailbroken iPhones and iPads running iOS versions 7.0.4, 7.0.5, and 7.0.6, as well as those running on 6.1.x, researchers from security firm FireEye wrote in a blog post published Monday night. They said attackers could carry out the covert monitoring using an app that bypasses Apple’s stringent app review process. The app uses multitasking capabilities built into iOS to capture user inputs.

Apple’s ‘Gotofail’ bug sucks, but here’s 8 ways to stay safe online – Apple’s “Gotofail” bug is a big deal because customers were exposed to risk for a long time. The only positive of this appalling oversight is that it illustrates why users of any platform should embrace the following security tips.

Advanced threat detection for remote users: Manage and secure your devices from the cloud – OPSWAT GEARS is a network security management platform for IT and security professionals that provides advanced threat detection and compliance enforcement both for devices in the network and for remote users.

New attack completely bypasses Microsoft zero-day protection app – Researchers have developed attack code that completely bypasses Microsoft’s zero-day prevention software, an impressive feat that suggests criminal hackers are able to do the same thing when exploiting vulnerabilities that allow them to surreptitiously install malware.


Banking Trojans emerge as dominant mobile malware threat – A new report finds that number of mobile malware modifications designed for phishing users’ banking and bank card information jumped by a factor of 20 last year.

RSAC: Can Windows Updates Protect Against Malware? – Are your PCs all configured for Automatic Update? If not, you’re risking more than just missing out on the latest version of Internet Explorer. At the RSA Conference, Simon Edwards, Technical Director of London-based Dennis Technology Labs, presented the results of a study showing that keeping Windows up to date seriously improves your security. “I’m the same as everyone else,” said Edwards. “I write articles about security and always give the same advice; install antivirus and update your system. But what’s that update worth? With this test we’ve quantified it.”

Study: IRS exposing Social Security numbers online – The research revealed an alarming failure to safeguard sensitive data. Identity Finder uncovered an estimated 630,000 Social Security numbers exposed online in form 990 tax returns. The most affected group were tax preparers—many of which used their personal SSN rather than their PTIN (preparer tax identification number). However, directors, trustees, employees, donors, and scholarship recipients were all impacted as well.

Company News:

LinkedIn censors self to launch in China – Business social network LinkedIn has trumped Facebook and Twitter by launching a localised site for China, although the US firm admitted it would be subject to government censorship requirements. The English language version has been used by professionals in China for over a decade and has over four million users, but the firm needed a Simplified Chinese site in order to tap the 140 million professionals living in the Middle Kingdom, according to LinkedIn China president, Derek Shen.

Investor Icahn blasts eBay board, calls for company to spin off PayPal – Investor Carl Icahn has ripped into the eBay board of directors and called for the company to spin off its PayPal unit in a colorful letter to eBay stockholders released Monday.

Twilio Brings Communications to the IBM Cloud Platform – Twilio today announced a partnership with IBM that brings the power of Twilio’s software and cloud-based communications platform to the IBM Cloud Platform, Codename: BlueMix. Starting today, IBM clients can rapidly deploy Twilio solutions when building applications in IBM BlueMix. From in-application dialing, conference calling, group texting, mobile app distribution, two-factor authentication and more, IBM BlueMix customers can now leverage the Twilio platform to easily integrate the communications solution that meets their specific business needs.

Centrify and Elastica Partner to Provide Comprehensive Cloud Security Solution for SaaS Applications – Today at the RSA Conference 2014, Centrify, the leader in Unified Identity Services across data center, cloud and mobile, and Elastica, the innovator in data science powered cloud security solutions, announced a joint solution to protect enterprises as they adopt cloud services. Centrify and Elastica have integrated their solutions to ensure users’ access to cloud applications are authenticated against users’ identities and are extended for use in policies, controls and analysis of cloud application usage.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft Cuts The Xbox One Price In The UK – The Xbox One will soon be a bit cheaper ‘cross the pond. Starting this Friday, the Xbox One will be £399.99 in the UK. That’s a drop of £30 from its launch price. While the cut will certainly make the console a bit more attractive, the PS4 is still less expensive and raking up impressive sales numbers. It’s unclear if the Xbox One will see similar price cuts in other markets.

Thief (2014) – Early on in Thief, master burglar Garrett says to his accomplice, “It’s not how much you steal—it’s what you steal.” He then spends the next twenty hours pilfering knives and spoons at four gold apiece. Why do I bring that up? Because the hypocritical anecdote sums up this fun, but ultimately forgettable reboot of the classic stealth series held so deeply in the hearts of legions of gamers. Let’s dig in.


Rideable Super Mario Kart races into reality (for kids anyway) – A battery-powered Super Mario Kart toy car speeds its way from the video game realm into your home, ready to take young Marios for a spin.


Gearbox suing 3D Realms over Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction RPG – While the long, strange saga of Duke Nukem Forever finally concluded with 2011’s heavily panned release, the aftershocks of the game’s development continue to this day. Case in point, Gearbox has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent Duke Nukem creators 3D Realms and Apogee Software, along with developer Interceptor Entertainment, from using the Duke Nukem IP as planned in a new game.

Xbox One comes bundled with free Titanfall download starting March 11 – Microsoft seems determined to highlight EA and Respawn’s Titanfall as the must-have title of the season for the Xbox One. The company today announced that a bundle including an Xbox One console and a download code for Titanfall will be available for a “limited time” starting March 11, all at the system’s current asking price of $499.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “Rise of Electro” trailer arrives – The latest in the growing line of trailers being released for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, “Rise of Electro” arrives with a solid look at Electro, Spiderman, and a city being simultaneously blown up and electrified. When pieced together with the previous trailers, it offers a tad wider look at the story in general, and is a solid teaser for the upcoming flick.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Privacy concerns about data collection may lead to dumbing down smart devices – A new wave of smart devices sensors and Internet of Things collecting data will make it hard to remain anonymous offline. Will the public wake up to the risks all of that data poses to their privacy?

Hilariously, social media is causing a surge of lice in teens – It actually makes sense. If you scroll through your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed right now, you’ll see countless pictures of a bunch of friends pressing their heads and faces up against one another to fit into the selfie shot. If there’s ever been an effective way to spread lice, it’s rubbing one’s head all over someone else’s.


Books Every InfoSec Professional Should Read – Richard Howard, CSO of Palo Alto Networks, has a list of 20 books he believes information security professionals need to read. When Security Watch pointed out that 20 titles may seem a little intimdiating, Howard distilled his list down to the following top five, in no particular order: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, Kingpin by Kevin Poulson, We are Anonymous by Parmy Olson, Confront and Conceal by David Sanger, and Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stollhave.

With Netflix deal, Comcast hangs ‘Kick Me’ sign on net neutrality – If the implications of Sunday’s announcements are troubling, so is the timing. Earlier this month, Comcast announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable in a $45.2 billion deal that would extend the Internet and cable provider’s already considerable reach. (Time Warner is the second-largest cable provider after Comcast in the U.S. and the third largest broadband provider.) Should that deal go through—and consumer groups are very much opposed to it—Comcast would have even more muscle to extract concessions from the Netflixes of the world.

VC Tim Draper: Maybe US will end up with 60 states – High-profile venture capitalist says his plan to split California into six different states could get other states thinking the same thing.

880-pound asteroid slams into moon, watch it go boom – The prevalence of loud action movies shows just how much humans enjoy a good explosion. You won’t find many bigger than what happened on the moon in September last year. Footage of an 880-pound asteroid smashing onto the lunar surface was just released, showing a bright flash at the impact site.

Something to think about:

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

–     Ralph W. Sockman

Today’s Free Downloads:

evasi0n 1.0.6 – An untethered jailbreak application designed for all iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and iPad mini devices running iOS 7.0 through 7.0.6

USBFlashCopy 1.9 – USBFlashCopy is a small Windows utility to back up your flash drives and storage cards on the fly. It runs in the background and copies files from inserted media to a safe location on your hard drive.

DAEMON Tools Lite – DAEMON Tools is an advanced application for Microsoft Windows which provides one of the best optical media emulation in the industry. With DAEMON Tools you can back up your physical CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray discs into “virtual discs” or so called “disc image” files, which run directly on your hard drive.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Prez Obama cyber-guru: Think your data is safe in an EU cloud? The NSA will raid your servers – A former White House security advisor has suggested that you, dear reader, are naive if you think hosting data outside of the US will protect a business from the NSA. “NSA and any other world-class intelligence agency can hack into databases even if they not in the US,” said former White House security advisor Richard Clarke in a speech at the Cloud Security Alliance summit in San Francisco on Monday. “Non-US companies are using NSA revelations as a marketing tool.” Clarke was also a member of the intelligence review group set up by President Obama in 2013 to scrutinize Uncle Sam’s spying operations and come up with surveillance techniques that won’t unnerve the entire world. He also served as a special advisor on cyber security for former US president George Bush. In his speech at the CSA, Clarke claimed that it “makes sense for some governments to wave the bloody flag of the NSA scandal … they want localization so local companies can do better against international companies.” And indeed, European governments are making moves to keep more data within the EU.

Zuckerberg: Snowden NSA Revelations Have Brought The Tech Industry Closer – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of the U.S. government’s surveillance dragnet of Internet users has had one positive impact, according to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: it’s made rivals in the tech industry more open to working together. “The NSA issues, I think they’re a real issue, especially for U.S. Internet companies,” he said today. “Trust is such an important thing when you think about using any Internet services and sharing personal information.” Zuckerberg was speaking during a Q&A keynote at the Mobile World Congress conference here in Barcelona, and was asked whether the NSA revelations might jeopardize the mission of the coalition, which has the big-ticket ambition of connecting everyone in the world to the Internet and of which Facebook is a leading/founder member.

Encrypted Android phone is only the beginning for Blackphone and Silent Circle – Blackphone, the Swiss start-up that’s launching a smartphone with encrypted communications, is planning a series of devices around the same idea, one of the company’s co-founders said on Monday. “It’s not the only device we will ever do,” said Jon Callas during an interview at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona. “There’ll be other security and privacy-enhanced mobile devices.” The Blackphone handset, which is being unveiled at the event, goes on sale in June for $629. It looks like a typical Android smartphone and is based on a security-hardened version of the OS called “PrivatOS.” Standard applications include secure calling and text messaging, encrypted file transfer and video chat.

Kim Dotcom extradition hearings delayed – Kim Dotcom will be waiting until nearly the end of 2014 to find out whether American courts will get their hands on him: an extradition hearing due in April 2014 has been delayed, with a new date yet to be set. That’s led the Megaupload founder to accuse the New Zealand government of interfering in the judicial process, to delay the hearings until after the country’s election, due in either October or November. The extradition hearing had already been delayed from November 2013. Fairfax NZ reports that Dotcom believes the delay “will save Prime Minister John Key embarrassment during an election campaign”.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 25, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 24, 2014

A common sense guide to tech courtesy;  The very best tech you can buy for $150 or less;  Essential PC, smartphone and tablet repair tools;  Inside the minds of internet trolls;  20 tech brand names you’re saying wrong;  Adobe pushes out critical Flash update;  Avast Free Antivirus 2014;  How to delete your Facebook search history;  Change your name in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and;  The Dark Side of Social Networking;  Many home wireless routers vulnerable;  All EA Games FREE Until February 28th on BlackBerry 10;  IRS warns of leading tax scams.

Don’t be a techhole: A common sense guide to tech courtesy – Google issued guidelines to help Google Glass users not be “Glassholes,” but why stop there? Here’s the missing manual to put an end to some top technology peeves.

The very best tech you can buy for $150 or less – Buying tech on a budget? These 17 gadgets are the very best for $150 or less — from speakers to streamers, coffee machines and computer peripherals.

How to delete your Facebook search history – Facebook keeps a record of everything you search for on its Web site. Check out this How To guide for cleaning up the list, or just limiting what information Facebook is storing about you.

Quick Tech Trick: Type Less with Text Shortcuts for Your Phone – There’s no reason to type out commonly-used phrases over and over again.

Microsoft concedes Windows 8.1 needs more work – Microsoft on Sunday publicly acknowledged what leaks had shown, that the company will issue an update to Windows 8.1 this spring that provides more tools for owners of traditional PCs controlled by mouse and keyboard.

Essential PC, smartphone and tablet repair tools – If you’re in the business of repairing PCs, smartphones, or tablets, then these tools will help you get the job done in a fast, efficient, and safe way.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Yahoo announces UK edition of its news app – Yahoo has just made official the launch of the UK edition of its Yahoo News Digest app. Nick D’Aloisio, the former teenage CEO of the Summly and current Yahoo Product Manager after he sold the company to Yahoo, made the announcement via a press release. The iOS app will deliver the top news for UK readers two times a day and uses aggregation algorithms to generate a story based on multiple sources and which are then editorially curated.

LinkedIn gives users ‘member blocking’ – LinkedIn users who’d rather not receive job inquiries or other messages, or allow access to their profiles from certain other members, can now block them. The tool is available in a dropdown menu on the profile page, by clicking on “block or report.” If a user chooses block, then the two members won’t be able to access each other’s profiles or send messages to each other. If the two are already connected, then they won’t be connected anymore if one person blocks the other.

Change your name in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and – You can change the From: name in your Web e-mail accounts. We’ll show you how to change it in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and

Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1 adds 15 new 3D cities – Microsoft has updated the Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1 which adds 15 new cities around the world that have been mapped with the company’s 3D imaging technology.


The Dark Side of Social Networking – No matter what you think about Facebook, you have to admit it’s a pretty impressive networking tool. Along with other social media websites, Facebook allows people to stay connected with friends and family. However, there’s a darker side to this connection as well: Facebook also connects its user to a number of Internet security risks. To celebrate Facebook’s tenth anniversary, SecurityCoverage Inc. shared some interesting facts about today’s social networking sites and advice on how users can protect their personal information.

Vbox’s V@Home TV Gateway DVR – The VBox V@Home TV Gateway over-the-air DVR might not exactly roll off one’s tongue, but it can prove its use when it streams broadcast TV to any connected device in a user’s home, including tablets, phones, gaming consoles, and laptops.

Dropbox’s terms of service changes met with anger in user comments – Dropbox has announced it will be changing its terms of service on March 24th, but one change that stops the use of class action lawsuits for disputes has been met with anger in comments from users.

RealNetworks says its video-sharing service is ready for a worldwide stage – After launching in the U.S. and Canada five months ago, RealPlayer Cloud rolls out to the rest of the world Monday.


Home networking explained, Part 9: Access your home computer remotely – If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I explained the LAN and WAN ports on a home router in part 1. And now, I need to tell you how you can use this information to remotely access your device at home. For example, if you know how to use Remote Desktop, a built-in feature of Windows, to control a computer in a different room of your home, how about doing that from somewhere away from home, and save yourself from having to pay for similar services such as Logmein or GotoMyPC?

Toughpad tablets that can make voice calls – The Japanese company calls its two new devices, the FZ-E1 and FZ-X1 tablets, but they look more like 5-inch smartphones.


Move big files lightning fast in Windows 8 with TeraCopy – Virtualization expert Rick Vanover says TeraCopy is an easy and great way to easily move big files. Get details about TeraCopy in his review.


Adobe pushes out critical Flash update – the second zero-day hole of the month – Adobe has just updated its Flash product for the second time this month, pushing out an emergency patch for an RCE exploit that has been seen in the wild.

IRS warns of leading tax scams – The list of nasty scams sounds familiar, with identity theft and phone fraud leading the way as they have for the past few years. “Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing emails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.” The following are the Dirty Dozen tax scams from the IRS for 2014.

Neiman Marcus Hackers Set Off Nearly 60,000 Alarms – The hackers were forced to reload their software daily, which set off alarm bells that went unnoticed. Neiman’s centralized security system flagged the hackers’ behavior, but it did not recognize the code itself as malicious, allowing the attackers to continue their scam, according to a 157-page internal report cited by Bloomberg.

Crypto weaknesses in WhatsApp “the kind of stuff the NSA would love” – WhatsApp, the mobile messaging app developer that Facebook is acquiring for $19 billion, may be an attractive addition to the social network, thanks to WhatsApp’s 450 million active users and en vogue status. It may also be attractive to government spies and criminal hackers, thanks to several weaknesses in the encryption WhatsApp uses to protect messages from eavesdropping, researchers say.

Study: Google Play-based Android apps with malware up 388 percent in two years – The report from the RiskIQ firm claims that in 2011 there were just 11,000 malicious apps in the Google Play store, but that number increased 388 percent to 42,000 malware apps in 2013. The firm adds that Google only removed 23 percent of those apps in 2013, versus 60 percent in 2011. A whopping 12.3 percent of all apps in the Google Play store contained malware in 2013, according to RiskIQ. Google has yet to respond to the firm’s claims.

Many home wireless routers vulnerable, study finds – Using the top 50 selling home routers for sale on Amazon, the firm detected software vulnerabilities in three quarters with a third of these having publically documented flaws open for any attacker to exploit. Common problems included vulnerable management interfaces and dodgy authentication. Disturbingly, there was also evidence of identical flaws across products from different vendors indicating the possibiliity of a common but undocumented software heritage.

Apple admits Mac has same security flaw as patched on iOS – Apple will release a Mac update “very soon” that will address a newly-identified OS X security loophole that could allow hackers to remotely access sensitive information from users’ computers. The flaw was identified after Apple admitted it had spotted a similar glitch in iOS, releasing an update for iPhones and iPads on Friday to patch it.

When will Apple get serious about security? – The tech community (and beyond) is an uproar over the recently revealed iOS and OS X SSL/TLS code flaw. Apple developers have questions about Apple’s commitment to quality and the flaw itself.

Company News:

Microsoft to cut the cost of Windows 8.1 for low-end devices – Microsoft, if you read between the lines, has confirmed that they will be cutting the cost of Windows 8.1 for lower end devices which will help lower the floor on tablet pricing. The cut in price will help to accomplish several goals. First, it will help OEMs shave more dollars off their products and that will help them to lower the price of consumer products. Second, it should help to move more Windows 8.1 licenses, and while it will help Microsoft’s bottom line, albeit to a lesser degree, it should help Microsoft gain more market share with it’s latest version of Windows.

Mozilla aims for the emerging world with plans for the $25 smartphone – In Barcelona today, Mozilla announced its Firefox OS plans for the next year. The highlight: plans for a line of smartphones starting at $25 each, bringing HTML5-powered smartphones to billions of people who can’t afford more expensive devices. Central to this plan is a partnership with Chinese fabless semiconductor designer Spreadtrum. The company has designed a trio of chipsets built around the ARM Cortex A5 processor.


Apple and Samsung back to court as mediation fails – Apple and Samsung are headed back to court next month, after attempts at negotiating a settlement over ongoing patent infringement disputes in the US failed. The two firms had been pushed into mediation by court order, with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung mobile communications CEO J.K. Shin meeting for a full day of negotiations in February, along with legal teams and other advisors. However, despite numerous follow-ups, “the mediator’s settlement proposal to the parties was unsuccessful” the jointly-filed report confirms.

Netflix is paying Comcast for direct connection to network – Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast for a direct connection to the cable and Internet service provider’s network, a move that will improve streaming video quality for Comcast customers, the Wall Street Journal reported today. News of a paid peering deal comes two days after a traceroute showed that the two companies were exchanging traffic with each other directly. Netflix performance on Comcast had been getting worse for months, suggesting a feud between Comcast and Netflix or between Comcast and Cogent, one of Netflix’s Internet transit providers.

Google buys to combat online fraud – Google has purchased, a company specializing in the combat of online fraud. The acquisition was announced on Google’s DoubleClick Advertising blog on Friday. has developed fraud detection technology designed to discover malicious coding and scams that are embedded within links and media — and Google plans to immediately integrate this technology within its video and display advertisement products.

Games and Entertainment:

All EA Games FREE Until February 28th on BlackBerry 10 – There is am awesome deal going on from EA in BlackBerry World until the end of the month. BlackBerry announced on their blog that all EA games (based on your region) are free until February 28th. This includes Plants vs Zombies, NBA Jam, Monopoly, Bejeweled, and more! (suggested by Aseem S.)

What’s Your Lowest Super Mario Bros. Score? Watch This Guy Break the World Record – Call it overachievement through underachievement: getting the lowest score possible in Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. while at the same time completing it. YouTube maverick NotEntirelySure seems to have done just that, and he offers the video above (noticed by Kotaku) as testimony – a start-to-finish gallop through Nintendo’s most famous platformer using warp points to skip around and finish the game in a little less than nine minutes, with a paltry 500 points. Rock bottom high-five!

The Original Godzilla is Headed Back to Theaters – The original Godzilla from back in 1954 will be hitting theaters again in time for its 60th anniversary. As The Wrap tells us, this is the original version of the film, just as it was first screened in Japan all those years back. It will be interesting to see how audiences today will react to the Godzilla movie that started it all. A lot of moviegoers in modern times don’t watch movies in the context they were made, so it’s important to remember that Godzilla came out during a period when nuclear annihilation was a real threat to the world.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Inside the minds of internet trolls Canadian researchers find that trolls just want to have fun. Unsurprisingly, they also reek of what scientists call the Dark Tetrad of noxious personality variables: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

Controversy after cops’ aggressive arrest of jogger wearing earbuds – In Austin, Texas, bystanders photograph and film an arrest made by officers of a jogging woman, who claims she couldn’t hear the policemen because she was wearing earbuds. The arrest, for alleged jaywalking, appears to some excessive. (Move along – nothing to see here. Just another example of American cops abusing another woman.)


The minority report: Chicago’s new police computer predicts crimes, but is it racist? – Chicago police say its computers can tell who will be a violent criminal, but critics say it’s nothing more than racial profiling. (suggested by Aseem S.)

20 tech brand names you’re saying wrong – Sometimes it’s the result of a lost-in-translation effect — a tech brand that might have worked in the company’s native country but doesn’t quite make sense to our English-tuned brains. Other times, it’s the result of a silly name that’d seem strange no matter where you saw it. So how many names have you been saying wrong? Time to find out. Here are 20 of the most confusing tech brands — and how they’re meant to be said.

This is what happens when a bird smashes a plane’s windshield – You’re flying along at 170mph in Florida’s happy skies. Suddenly you have a gatecrasher. Or, rather, a windshield crasher. In remarkable footage taken from the cockpit by Rob Weber, everything seemed to be going fine, before it wasn’t.


Without REAL ID driver’s license, will TSA require passport if plane never leaves USA? – In April, the law requiring REAL ID driver’s licenses goes into effect, but 13 states are not ready. The Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License has warned that Americans without a REAL ID license may need “acceptable” ID like a passport to get through TSA security screenings . . . even if U.S. citizens are not flying outside of the USA.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton’s Facebook job application rejected in 2009 – It has emerged that WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook in 2009, and got rejected. More than five years later and his start-up application has fetched a whopping $19bn.

Has it come to this in 2014?


(Thanks Mike!)

Something to think about:

Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.”

–      Benjamin Spock

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast Free Antivirus 2014 – This year’s Avast release has distinguished itself as not just a malware or antivirus solution, but also as a full-on security monitor for your machine. It comes with great design, displaying a lot of information yet maintaining a high usability factor for the core feature of virus removal and malware scanning. Avast has created value beyond the security scanner, and this version is a huge leap over last year’s Avast 8. We expect its protection scores to continue to increase as protection scores from third-party vendors get released.


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is an easy-to-use anti-malware application available in both a Free and PRO version. The Free version is well-known for its detection and removal capabilities, and the PRO version uses advanced protection technologies to proactively stop malware infections. Additionally, Malwarebytes offers a host of extra utilities as well as an approachable forum community to help you combat any piece of malware that exists in the wild.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA moves from bugging German Chancellor to bugging German ministers – On Sunday it was revealed that the NSA, forbidden by President Obama from tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone directly, has ramped up its spying on her senior government officials, according to the German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag. The paper said that the information’s source is an anonymous, high-ranking NSA official stationed in Germany. In October, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the US had been spying on Chancellor Merkel for years, tapping her phone and the phones of 34 other world leaders. The sources of the fall accusations were damning, and they led one German politician to call for a complete halt to trade negotiations between the European Union and the US. In January, President Obama ordered the NSA to stop spying on the leaders of US-allied nations.

Australia, NSA, lawyers tangle in spy case – Reported interceptions by an Australian spy agency of a U.S. law firm’s communications with overseas clients violates long-standing legal protections, the American Bar Association charges. The ABA, in a Thursday letter to National Security Agency leaders, said it is concerned about a recent New York Times report saying the Australian Signals Directorate had intercepted communications between a U.S. law firm and its client, the government of Indonesia. The Australian spy agency offered to share the information with the NSA, according to the Times story.

Snowden’s impact an ‘operational matter’: Brandis – In Senate Estimates today, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis held the line on his previous statement that documents released by Edward Snowden had endangered lives, but that specifics were ‘operational matters’.

George Brandis refuses to back up claim that Snowden put lives at risk – Australia’s attorney general, George Brandis, has told a Senate committee he is unable to provide confidential details to substantiate his claim that disclosures by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have put lives at risk. Brandis also said on Monday he had no hesitation in describing Snowden as a “traitor”, arguing the National Security Agency (NSA) leaker had betrayed his country and prejudiced the interests of its intelligence partners.

Edward Snowden ‘humbled’ by his election as Glasgow University rector – In a statement to the Guardian, Snowden described it as bold and historic decision in support of academic freedom. “In a world where so many of our developing thoughts and queries and plans must be entrusted to the open internet, mass surveillance is not simply a matter of privacy, but of academic freedom and human liberty,” Snowden said. The vote is purely symbolic as Snowden is unlikely to be in a position to become a working rector, able to represent students at meetings of the university’s administrators. He is wanted by the US for leaking tens of thousands of documents to journalists and has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 21, 2014

10 great Android business apps;  4 reasons you’ll like Microsoft’s new OneDrive;  The no-freakout guide to Android security;  9 wireless battery chargers;  10 Apps and Sites That Will Save You Money;  Microsoft launches Office Online;  Play Call of Duty: Ghosts for free this weekend;  10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade;  Using Software To Change Your Computer DNS Fast (and Safe);  How action games can improve our visual skills;  Amazon’s Funniest Product Reviews;  $19 Billion for an Effing Text App?  Digital condom electrifies your penis.

Get more done with these 10 great Android business apps – Thanks to a lot of business-friendly smartphone apps, it’s becoming quite possible to make your primary computing device a smartphone. You’re not going to want to write a novel, reconcile your 2013 books, or design your next marketing campaign on one, but you can do a lot of other stuff. All you need are the right apps.

10 Apps and Sites That Will Save You Money – Too many online services claiming to save you money just end up costing you precious time without much in return. Here are 10 free websites and apps that will help you keep more dollars in your wallet.

4 reasons you’ll like Microsoft’s new OneDrive – Microsoft’s rebranding of its cloud-storage service SkyDrive to OneDrive is more than just a name change. Here are four new features that make the service even better.

9 wireless battery chargers: No power? No problem! – Tired of having to fumble for the USB port every time your mobile device runs out of power? With these wireless chargers, just put your device down and let it it power up.


GEEK SQUEAKS – Using Software To Change Your Computer DNS Fast (and Safe) – The DNS is typically transparent to most of us, but it is important to know that you can alter the DNS settings on your computer to serve specific purposes (such as to protect your kids from porn sites). Manually performing these changes is something most people will not do, fearing they may mess up their computers. An automated solution or way to pick and choose a DNS is through software that is engineered to help you make the changes and to understand those changes.


Delete WhatsApp warns Facebook-hating German privacy chief – WhatsApp users should ditch the instant messaging service else face privacy issues and potentially seeing new owner Facebook monetize them in intrusive ways, Germany’s data protection commissioner has warned, with the country renewing its anti-Facebook stance amid the $19bn acquisition. Both Facebook and WhatsApp “refuse to comply with European and German data protection regulations” Thilo Weichert, of Germany’s data privacy watchdog ULD, said of the deal. “Even the NSA access to communications data is facilitated by the purchase.” (Hate??  Maybe – just maybe – it’s Facebook’s manipulative behaviour, and total disregard for user privacy that he hates.  Maybe?)

The no-freakout guide to Android security – The second goal, which works well with the first, is to assure you that I have nothing to sell. The ideal malware panic message touted by the major media is invariably followed by cautious words of advice from some lab coat-wearing nerd who just happens to work for such-and-such major anti-malware software developer. Oh, and by the way, they have a solution ready for their happy, safe subscribers.

Improve the look of your slideshows – I’m going to recommend two programs, both of them free and popular. There’s a good chance you’re already using one. They’re both primarily photo organizers, but they also play slideshows. Where best to start a slideshow than in a photo organizer, where you can easily pull up all of your child’s photos from the previous year?

YouTube ushers in new design – On the company’s blogspot today, YouTube announced a couple of changes, most notable among them being a redesign that aims to accommodate screen sizes of all flavors. Users will also see changes to the playlists feature, which makes making and browsing the feature easier.

Online Credit Card Declines Are On the Rise; Consumers Aren’t Happy – When the waiter returns to your table and announces loudly that your credit card has been declined, you want to sink through the floor from embarrassment. Having your card declined at an online merchant doesn’t approach that level of public humiliation, but it’s still not a pleasant experience. According to a report released today, online credit card declines are on the rise, and nobody’s happy about it.

Google makes good on threat, flips ‘kill switch’ on some Chrome add-ons – All extensions on Windows must be installed from the Chrome Web Store; those that were not will be permanently disabled.

Using the Web to Prep for Tax Season – So where to start? Luckily, this year, there are more digital tools than ever to make your e-filing a clean, safe, and paperless option. If you already have your tax software but are scrambling to get your finances in order, check out these digital tools and apps to help you with the tax-prep process.

Microsoft launches Office Online, gives a new look – Following weeks of rumours, Microsoft has announced the launch of Office Online – the replacement for its productivity-focused Web Apps – along with a new look for


Facebook’s autoplay video ads are ‘imminent’ – The social network’s march to a mobile-first mindset and delivery mechanism has been persistent and widely recognized, but Facebook is rising to the video occasion with a more deliberate rollout.

$19 Billion for an Effing Text App? – Facebook has announced plans to acquire messaging app WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, plus another $3 billion in stock that goes directly to WhatsApp employees. In what universe does it make sense for Facebook to pay $19 billion for a glorified text messaging app? That’s 19 times what it spent on Instagram, and analysts thought that was already a steep sale price. Put simply, WhatsApp is as big in messaging as Facebook is in social networking.

What Is WhatsApp? An Explainer – When you heard that Facebook shelled out $16B+ for WhatsApp yesterday, did you ask, “What’s WhatsApp”? You weren’t the only one. While the app has proved its value, at least to the market, it isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in Europe, Latin America, and India.

Hell no, we won’t go: 10 reasons some XP users refuse to upgrade – Windows XP support may be ending soon, but there are a whole lot of folks who refuse to abandon the soon-to-be sunk ship. These are their stories.

Red state, blue state? On Twitter, never the twain shall meet – A new report from Pew suggests that communities on Twitter gather in very different ways around different things, from politics to brands, news to entertainment.


Adobe releases emergency Flash update amid new zero-day drive-by attacks – The vulnerability, which affects the latest versions of Flash, was being exploited in drive-by attacks on the websites of at least three nonprofit organizations, according to a blog post published Thursday by researchers from security firm FireEye.

First-rate phishing email claims “Your Paypal transaction was declined” – Extremely well-made fake notifications claiming the recipients’ PayPal transaction was declined are doing rounds and trying to trick users sharing personal and financial information. The email – well formatted and sporting the PayPal logo – explains that “unusual activity” from a “suspicious location” has been spotted in the recipients’ account, making them believe that “someone is using your PayPal account without your knowledge.”

Lookout study: hackers target mobile attacks by region – Lookout collected data from more than 50 million users between January and December of 2013. It analyzed the information and broke it down by region and type of attack to get a picture of mobile attack trends. The results are weighted to normalize the differences between life cycles of users in different regions. What stood out is that attackers adapt attack behavior to target regions where the attack is more likely to maximize profit while minimizing potential detection.

Cyberattacks fallout could cost the global economy $3 trillion by 2020 – The global economy has yet to mount an adequate defense against the rise of cyberattacks, according to new research. The impact could be $3 trillion in lost productivity and growth.

Cisco patches IPS, Firewall Services, SIP phone, UCS – A total of six vulnerabilities in Cisco hardware and software products have been disclosed and patched by the company.

Company News:

HP Posts Modest FQ1 Beat With Revenue Of $28.2B, Adjusted EPS Of $0.90 – Today after the close, HP reported a slight beat in its fiscal first quarter, including net revenue of $28.2 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.90. Investors had expected $27.19 billion in revenue, and $0.84 in per-share profit, excluding items.

Microsoft wants UK government to support both Open XML, ODF for documents – Microsoft is urging the U.K. government to support both the Open XML and ODF formats for official documents, rather than just ODF, which Microsoft says will exclude recent versions of Office.

Aereo loses copyright fight, gets banned in 6 states – It’s been clear for some time now: Aereo’s fate will ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court. Arguments are scheduled for this April. Notwithstanding the forthcoming argument at the high court, US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah has gone ahead and issued a preliminary injunction (PDF), which will ban the Aereo service in Utah as well as the rest of the 10th Circuit, which includes Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

King’s Forthcoming IPO Shows That Mobile Gaming Is Staggeringly Large, But Mature – The $1.8 billion in annual revenue that the Candy Crush Saga-maker earned last year was about $600 million or $700 million more than the whisper numbers I had been hearing at the end of 2013. It signals just how large free-to-play mobile gaming has become compared to older parts of the gaming industry, which deliver titles as finalized, packaged goods at $60 a pop.

WhatsApp passed on Google’s $10 billion offer before Facebook deal – A new report based on information from industry sources has claimed that Google had offered $10 billion for WhatsApp before it turned towards Facebook for a deal valued at around $19 billion.

Facebook WhatsApp buy triggers unexpected BlackBerry boost – Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp has perhaps surprisingly given ailing BlackBerry a boost, as the Canadian company’s share price jumped amid speculation that messaging service BBM could be worth more than previously believed. The Canadian firm’s share price is up more than 5-percent today – and was up more than 9-percent in after-hours trading yesterday – as investors question whether BBM might be the undervalued star of BlackBerry’s portfolio of services.

Games and Entertainment:

Play Call of Duty: Ghosts for free this weekend – You like free? You like Call of Duty? Well you are in luck, person who likes both of those popular things. This weekend only, you can play Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer and admire its incredible fish AI for free through Steam. You can also purchase the full game for $30, or 50 percent off its normal $60 list price.


Microsoft Reveals Xbox One Media Remote – Meet the Xbox One Media Remote, which will be available in early March for $24.99. Unveiled Thursday, the handy device lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on the Xbox One. There’s also a OneGuide button, which provides one-touch access to your favorite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide, Microsoft said.


How action games can improve our visual skills – At this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of Rochester’s Daphne Bavelier described her work on how video games affect the visual system. Bavelier’s work focuses on action games and goes back over a decade. In that span, she has generated lots of evidence that the games are capable of improving the visual system by enhancing the functions of the brain regions that process sight.

Call of Duty: Ghosts: Customization Packs get ducky – Today Call of Duty: Ghosts will be updated with a collection of “customization packs” that allow the user to see their gear covered with oddities. Supposing you enjoyed the holiday-themed layout for your deadly firearm in Call of Duty: Ghosts at the end of last year, the folks responsible for keeping the game fresh have just what the doctor ordered. Several new packs released this week include Ducky, Inferno, Circuit, and no less than Space Cats.


Microsoft begins selecting users to beta test next Xbox One update – Microsoft will allow “select Xbox Live members” to beta test the next update for its Xbox One console, with users receiving invitations to the program beginning today. The beta starts next week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Amazon’s Funniest Product Reviews – There exists on the Internet another world. Not the Dark Web, currently getting its day in the sun thanks to season two of House of Cards, but the hidden world of comedy, where average Web users team up to ridicule products sold online. There is no greater place to find these hidden gems than the product reviews on, the Internet super-store that sells everything from potted meat to peat moss.

The $6950 Android coffee table with Core i7, 16GB RAM – Plans are in the works to launch a coffee table – with 1080p display, 3.7GHz Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 500GB of storage – later this year, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and costing upwards of $6950.


Woman jailed after recording traffic stop on phone sues – A woman is stopped for a routine traffic offense. She decides to use her cell phone to record the conversation with the police officer and is immediately told she is committing a felony by doing so. She is now suing.

Electric Eel digital condom electrifies your penis, but in a good way – Created by Andrew Quitmeyer, the Electric Eel is an open source digital condom that performs the action of its namesake ocean dweller and delivers mild electric stimulation to the wearer’s penis. The final product promises to be less terrifying than the above image of a condom hooked up to a battery. The current prototype is built with a conductive fabric and Lilypad microcontroller. It sends a small shock through the bottom of the condom in order to provide stimulation to the underside of the penis. (I’m shocked! Surprised smile )


Armatix iP1 smart gun only fires if user is wearing a special watch – Firearm safety is a big deal for every one around the country. People have to keep guns out of the reach of children and keep unauthorized users from getting their hands on weapons. A new handgun has turned up in California that is one of the first smart guns.


Google’s Project Tango smartphone can map a room from your pocket – Project Tango comes in the form of a prototype Android smartphone that has the capability to learn the layout and dimensions of a space just by moving around within it. It functions by utilizing a depth sensor and motion-tracking camera to discern a given layout and build a 3D map.


Steve Jobs slated to grace US postage stamp in 2015 – List of approved subjects obtained by The Washington Post reflects a shift toward more popular individuals as a new revenue source for the cash-strapped service.

Something to think about:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness only power, pure power… The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

–       George Orwell, 1984

Today’s Free Downloads:

TSR Watermark Image – TSR Watermark Image software, is a free program for personal use that can add digital watermarks to all your images, photos and pictures with the transparency you decide. The program can also resize the images before the digital watermark is added. When creating the watermark, you can use either text or another picture as the source of the watermark. If you want to add the watermark to the background, you can set the logo or the text to be more or less transparent, and define the transparency color on the image or select the first pixel in the upper left corner as transparency color. The version available for download is the full version, no missing features, no nag screen, no popup and no commercials!.


Windows Live Mesh – Using the Windows Live Mesh application and the Devices website, you can finally stop emailing files to yourself, carrying them around on a USB drive, or worrying whether the version you have with you is the latest. Keep up-to-date copies of documents, photos, and other files on all of your computers, whether PC or Mac. Even if your computer is offline, you can still view and work on the files you need. Editor’s Note: This download will offer to install any of the Windows Live tools including Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger, Family Safety, Live Writer, Movie Maker and Live Mesh.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Attorney Client Privilege and the NSA – The New York Times recently reported that the NSA, through intermediaries in Australia, was actively engaged in collecting communications between the Government of Indonesia and their U.S. law firm hired in connection with a trade dispute. The case, and its logical consequences, raises the questions of whether or not there is anything left of the time-honored and venerated privilege of communications between lawyers and their clients. If the U.S. government has its way, the answer will be, “probably not.” The attorney client privilege, and a related doctrine called attorney work product protection, protects both communications between attorneys (and their agents) and clients or prospective clients, which are intended to provide legal advice or representation. A creature of the common law (although codified in some jurisdictions) the privilege exists because it is in the interest of the government and society that people feel free to seek out such advice and representation. The privilege is (for the most part) inviolate. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Federal License Plate Reader Database sought by Homeland Security – This week a job listing posted by the Department of Homeland Security has suggested that they’re aiming for a Federal License Plate Reader Database in the near future. This database would hold instant connections to the people behind the wheel at any given time. License plate readers are not a new idea – a massive database containing every license plate ever made certainly would be a new concept.

Writing The Snowden Files: ‘The paragraph began to self-delete’ – Was it the NSA? GCHQ? A Russian hacker? Who was secretly reading his book on Snowden while he wrote it, wonders Luke Harding. I was writing a chapter on the NSA’s close, and largely hidden, relationship with Silicon Valley. I wrote that Snowden’s revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping. Over the next few weeks these incidents of remote deletion happened several times. There was no fixed pattern but it tended to occur when I wrote disparagingly of the NSA. All authors expect criticism. But criticism before publication by an anonymous, divine third party is something novel. I began to leave notes for my secret reader. I tried to be polite, but irritation crept in. Once I wrote: “Good morning. I don’t mind you reading my manuscript – you’re doing so already – but I’d be grateful if you don’t delete it. Thank you.” There was no reply. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Is Venezuela blocking the Internet amid violence? – Widespread student-led protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s administration erupted last week. While the government is working to maintain its control of the country, the protesters are calling for Maduro’s resignation due to high crime, political repression, and inflation, according to Reuters. On Thursday there were local reports of Internet blackouts in the western state of Tachira and a complete shutdown of the Internet provider in the state capital San Cristobal, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. These blackouts come on the heels of the government removing television stations from cable networks and working to get opposition leaders and protesters censored on Twitter, according to Bloomberg. Last week, Twitter confirmed the Venezuelan government was able to block certain users’ online images.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 20, 2014

Lighting Can Track Your Position in Stores;  Website helps users opt out of smartphone tracking;  Five free tools to help brainstorm solutions and spark innovation;  Laptops for work and play: the differences that matter;  10 tips to help you make the most of Google Apps;  ‘Fix it’ patch for IE9 and IE10 exploit;  Malware-infected Android apps spike; Facebook’s $19 Billion WhatsApp Acquisition;  3D printing: 10 factors still holding it back;  Twitter lie detector is in development; DOOM lives!

Asus, Linksys router exploits tell us home networking is the vulnerability story of 2014 – If you’re using network-attached storage, video surveillance equipment, or remote router management software, beware of dodgy firmware—it’s become ground zero for hacker exploits, as recent debacles with Asus and Linksys routers emphatically illustrate. The message is clear: In 2014, vulnerable routers, NAS boxes, and other connected devices are leaving our home networks wide open to attack.

New Philips Lighting Can Track Your Position in Stores – European electronics giant Philips has just unveiled a new technology, built into overhead lights, that is capable of tracking your exact location while indoors. Philips’ connected retail lighting system essentially converts each overhead light to a uniquely identifiable point on an invisible grid. Your phone can see this grid via an app to determine your exact position in a store. That information is then shared with retailers to help provide you with enhanced services.

New website helps users opt out of smartphone tracking – Airports, malls, large stores and even London litter bins have been caught tracking people via the Wi-Fi signals broadcast by their smartphones, and presumably national spying agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ are doing it too. The obvious solution is to turn Wi-Fi off when you leave your home or office. However, now there’s a website,, that could help, though so far it’s US-only.

10 tips to help you make the most of Google Apps to get work done – Google Apps offers a cheap and effective suite of apps for businesses or schools looking to move to the cloud. Here are 10 ways to improve your Google Apps experience.

Postcard For iPhone Lets You Post To Any Social Network At Once, Even Your Own Website – A new application, Postcard, launching today, will help you cross-post to various social media websites, but with a few unique twists. Unlike similar tools, this “Swiss Army Knife” of an app lets you set any one social network, or even your own website, as the content’s host.

Give your Android an amazing look – Have random, beautiful home screen images set on your Android device from a number of services, thanks to this app.

Shop with your camera phone – In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi explains how a couple of companies are harnessing the power of your phone’s camera to make shopping even simpler.

An e-cigarette packed with Bluetooth? Talk to the hand – The scenario is all too typical — you’re walking down the street puffing on an e-cigarette, just wishing you could use the little metal nicotine stick to make a phone call… How handy would that be? Well, dreams can come true. A company called Supersmoker has come up with an e-cigarette it claims is the world’s first to double as a Bluetooth headset and device that streams MP3s from a smartphone. That’s right, a musical cell phone cigarette.


Five free tools to help brainstorm solutions and spark innovation – Visualize project requirements, sketch out a new org structure, identify workflow bottlenecks, or discover creative solutions to stubborn problems — all with the help of these free mind-mapping tools.

Laptops for work and play: the differences that matter – Laptops come in so many flavors: There are thin-and-lights, convertibles, desktop replacements, 2-in-1s, gaming rigs, and even portable workstations. But all laptops can be lumped into one of two buckets: Consumer or business. I’ll show you what makes them different, and help you decide which is right for your needs.


You can now earn achievements using OneDrive – Microsoft has announced that Xbox One owners can claim some unique achievements by using the newly rebranded OneDrive app, including two that are available for one week only.

Google Map Maker expands to more corners of Europe – Residents of Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia now can make their own contributions to Google Maps and Google Earth.

Yik Yak Is An Anonymous Messaging App Aimed At College Campuses – What happens when you combine anonymous messaging with college campuses? You get 100,000 users in three months. The startup was launched by two Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, aiming to connect people through anonymous, location-based posts. Within a five-mile radius, the poster can choose to share with the closest 100, 250, or 500 Yik Yak users. For $.99, users can share with 1,000 people, 2,500 for $1.99, and 10,000 for $5.

New Google Maps exits preview with features for all – Google is bringing its latest version of Google Maps out of beta and pushing it to the public, with better integration of search results, smarter route navigation, and easier access to galleries and 3D imagery of points-of-interest. The new version was previewed last year, first as a closed beta and then opened up to those feeling experimental.

Reveal 11 Business review: automated videography for your professional needs – Pick a style, supply the content, and create near pro-quality promotional or training videos with this easy-to-use production tool.

How to make the Windows desktop look good on high-DPI displays – Windows wasn’t made to work well with pixel-packed displays. Here’s how to force the issue.

India launches own wikipedia in local languages – Called Vikaspedia, the online information guide is part of the government’s efforts to make democratize. For a start, It has data on health, agriculture, education, social welfare, energy and e-governance.

Learn to code through dungeon crawling – Looking at a bunch of code for the first time can be something of a daunting affair. All those strings and symbols can simply look like a mess to the untrained eye, and can be a bit off-putting to anyone who’s toying with the idea of learning how to code. It’s not nearly as difficult as it looks, however — if only one can find the right delivery method. Codecademy does a pretty good job, but one group of programmers wanted to make it a little more accessible. Enter CodeCombat, a browser-based game where your in-game actions are dictated by the Javascript code commands you type.



Microsoft issues ‘Fix it’ patch for IE9 and IE10 zero-day exploit – Microsoft has now issued a formal security warning and a “Fix it” patch for an exploit that affects both Internet Explorer 9 and 10 that was discovered last week.

Belkin Fixes WeMo Vulnerabilities With Firmware Update – Fear not, owners of Belkin WeMo devices: you no longer have to lose sleep over the possibility that your smart plug will be hacked. Belkin has rolled out an update that patches the five vulnerabilities listed by FEMA’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

800M exposed records make 2013 record year for data breaches – While the number of incidents data loss incidents in 2012 is almost by a third bigger that that for 2013, the number of records exposed in 2013 breaches has reached a record 823 million. The majority of data breaches hit businesses, followed by government, medical and educational institutions, and it should not be wholly unexpected that the overwhelming majority of the exposed records was stolen from businesses, as well.


It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that 45.5 percent of the breaches hit organizations based in the US, and that those accounted for 66.5 percent of the compromised records (of the US states, California leads the list with some 370 million records exposed).


Iranians hacked Navy network for four months? Not a surprise – In 2012, Iranian hackers managed to penetrate the US Navy’s unclassified administrative network, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. While the attack was disclosed last September, the scale of it was not—the attack gave hackers access to the NMCI for nearly four months, according to an updated report by The Wall Street Journal.

University of Maryland hacker nabs SS# trove – In a statement on the university’s website today, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh revealed a security breach resulting in hundreds of thousands of compromised social security numbers, as well names, university IDs, and dates of birth. Calling it a “sophisticated computer security attack,” Loh stated all relevant parties that have been issued a university ID since 1998 are at risk.

Malware-infected Android apps spike in the Google Play store – In 2011, there were approximately 11,000 apps in Google’s mobile marketplace that contained malicious software capable of stealing people’s data and committing fraud, according to the results of a study published Wednesday by RiskIQ, an online security services company. By 2013, more than 42,000 apps in Google’s store contained spyware and information-stealing Trojan programs, researchers said.

Tinder flaw may have exposed members’ exact whereabouts for months – Popular swipe-right-to-like dating app Tinder exposed members’ most private information without their knowledge, according to security consulting firm Include Security. The firm said Wednesday that Tinder’s smartphone application had a vulnerability associated with its geolocation feature for most of 2013. The flaw, which was fixed earlier this year, allowed a Tinder user — albeit a sophisticated one with programming skills and access to the app’s API — to get the exact latitude and longitude for another user.

User education drops down ASD strategies to prevent security intrusions – An increase in intrusions using techniques that an educated user would not detect has led Australia’s signals intelligence unit to place user education as the 28th most effective strategy for mitigating a cyber-intrusion. (Australia’s mental midgets are at it again!)

Company News:

Qualcomm called out by China for alleged overcharging, dominance – China’s anti-monopoly body says Qualcomm is abusing its market dominance and could face more than $1 billion in fines.

Facebook’s $19 Billion WhatsApp Acquisition, Contextualized – Facebook just announced it’s buying WhatsApp, a global messaging platform with 450 million MAUs, for approximately $19 billion. It’s one of the biggest tech acquisitions since HP bought Compaq for $25 billion in 2001.

Google Announces Plans To Expand Fiber To 34 Additional U.S. Cities – Google today announced that it is planning to expand Google Fiber to 34 new cities in nine metro areas, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, and San Jose. The company says it has invited these cities to work with Google to “explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.”

Ubuntu smartphones have official manufacturers, releasing this year – The two manufacturers, Meizu and BQ Readers, will be the first two companies producing and releasing smartphones with Ubuntu’s mobile OS pre-installed. The phones will be available globally sometime this year, but they will be targeting emerging markets so they have a better chance to compete with iOS and Android.


eBay acquires PhiSix, which lets users try on 3D clothes virtually – The e-commerce giant may soon let online shoppers virtually “try on” jeans, dresses, shirts, and other clothing to see how they fit and move.

Games and Entertainment:

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Low-hanging fruit – There’s a lot to like in Tropical Freeze, as it marks the first time we’ve ever seen Donkey Kong in HD. The game is absolutely gorgeous and is packed with complex level design and more hidden items than you’ll likely be able to handle. It’s nearly as much fun to gawk at its visuals as it is to actually play it.


That Instant World of Warcraft Level 90 Boost Might Set You Back $60 – Blizzard announced the insta-level 90 perk back in January in a Warlords of Draenor news update, revealing the boost would be granted for one character per account to anyone buying the expansion. The company then added, in a clever marketing ploy, that pre-orders for the expansion would gain access to the optional boost at time of pre-purchase (though the pre-purchase program isn’t live yet).

DOOM lives! Wolfenstein: The New Order pre-order includes access to DOOM beta – Bethesda Softworks has officially announced that pre-orders for the upcoming FPS Wolfenstein: The New Order will include access to the next game in id Software’s DOOM series.

iOS 7 game emulator brings Game Boy to iPhone without Jailbreak – Not to be out-done by the Jailbreak-only emulators of gaming consoles of the past, the developer behind GBA4iOS has created a release of his Game Boy Advance that works with all devices running iOS 7 or higher. This includes iPhones, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini as well.

Preview: The Order: 1886 bends Victorian-era London history to our liking – This PS4 exclusive is actually the first original console game by developer Ready at Dawn Studios, which got its start making the hit PlayStation Portable game Daxter and the two God of War handheld titles. Now, the Irvine, California-based team is making the transition to its own console IP, with a game that features an important time-period transition.


Steam’s Linux game count explodes in one year, big publishers still absent – Valve’s digital game distribution service now hosts 333 games for Linux, compared to 60 games last February. (Strangely, Steam’s store page claims that 541 games are now available, but when you search the entire catalog it shows only 333 titles. We’ve asked Valve for clarification.) Either way, it’s a healthy rate of growth as Valve gets ready to launch SteamOS, the Linux-based operating system for Steam Machine consoles. So far,14 hardware makers have pledged to launch Steam Machines later this year.

Off Topic (Sort of):

PediaPress Wants To Print The Complete English Wikipedia In 1,000 Books – This is not a joke. PediaPress launched an Indiegogo campaign to print the entire English Wikipedia encyclopedia on around 1,000 books, representing more than a million pages. The startup printed the first volume to see how it would look — in it, you will find all the articles from “A” to “A76 motorway”.

This $39,000 3D printer can prototype full-sized furniture – The 3D printing revolution is well under way, and the creators of the BigRep One think they’ve come up with the next big thing. Really big — as in a build volume of more than a cubic meter. This is obviously not the competitively-priced unit you’ve been waiting to pick up for your home. The BigRep One is intended for professional-grade users that need to be able to rapidly prototype human-scale objects like furniture or sculptural pieces.


3D printing: 10 factors still holding it back – As promising as 3D printers seem, their usefulness is still questionable. High costs, safety concerns, patents, and design complexity are all contributing to legitimate skepticism.

Twitter lie detector is in development – Have you ever told a fable on Twitter, perhaps for humor’s sake or as an accidental faux pas? Ever retweeted something, only to later discover it was false? Soon such tweets will be tested under the watchful eye of Pheme, a lie detector of sorts that aims to determine in real time whether a tweet contains the truth or is a lie.

Why ‘long form’ journalism matters, and what we call it instead – While it’s suddenly fashionable to bad-mouth long form, TechRepublic and ZDNet are true believers. Here’s our approach to the renaissance of in-depth journalism. (A worthwhile read for those who write for the Web.)

FCC isn’t giving up on Net Neutrality – The Federal Communications Commission was told it did not have the authority to stop broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from prioritizing select internet traffic or, conversely, slowing other traffic, but the court pointed out that it may already have the power in other ways under existing telecoms laws. Now, FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler says he will “accept that invitation” from the court.

Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis? – In February 2011, the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last blocks of IPv4 address space to the five regional Internet registries. At the time, experts warned that within months all available IPv4 addresses in the world would be distributed to ISPs. So, here we are three years later and the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is still doling out IPv4 addresses in the United States and Canada.

Something to think about:

Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.”

–     Pete Seeger

Today’s Free Downloads:

Undelete Navigator – Undelete Navigator allows you to find and undelete your accidentally lost or intentionally deleted files from all your internal and external hard disks, USB flash sticks and SD memory cards. Once a drive is scanned for deleted files you will be presented a folder tree and file list views. The folder tree presents all the folders found on the drive that contain deleted data. The file list view presents the deleted files in the currently chosen folder. Items in the file list view may be presented in two different ways: you can see file details with file size and modification time or you can see the file icons. Switch between the views with the corresponding toolbar buttons. The software is capable of generating thumbnails for a large variety of image formats. A generated thumbnail in most cases proves integrity of a deleted image file.

IObit Advanced Mobile Care – 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.

EZ CD Audio Converter Free – The Easy CD-DA Extractor application is the Swiss Army Knife Of Digital Audio is ALL-IN-ONE music converter that rips Audio CDs, converts audio files from one format to another, edits metadata of audio files. Supports all popular audio file formats such as MP3, AAC, aacPlus, Apple Lossless, Windows Media Audio, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Monkey’s Audio, and more. You can use Audio CD Ripper to rip CDs to different audio formats. CD ripping is powered by AccurateCDDA that provides accurate, error detective, and high-performance CD ripping. Audio CD Ripper also contains DSP panel that allows you to normalize audio from different CDs to the same volume level, or you can apply fade in/out, or delete leading and trailing silence of a song.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Heathrow harassment, Snowden, NSA spying: may be problems returning to US – Jesselyn Radack – The US Government and their war on journalism has taken a new and dangerous twist, now the US and its surrogates have taken the unprecedented move of going after the lawyers. Recently Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Edward Snowden was detained at Heathrow airport in the UK, the same airport that has detained many journalists and associates connected to WikiLeaks and the Snowden case.

The David Miranda judgment has chilling implications for press freedom, race relations and basic justice – One person’s freedom fighter may be another’s terrorist, but David Miranda is very clearly neither. Yet he was detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. That the high court has now found his detention to be lawful is disappointing, to say the least. If someone travelling as part of journalistic work can be lawfully detained like this – questioned for hours without a lawyer present, his electronic equipment confiscated and cloned and all without the merest suspicion of wrongdoing required – then clearly something has gone wrong with the law.

NSA and GCHQ spying on WikiLeaks – Today, documents were published from the national security whistleblower Edward Snowden, detailing US and UK spying efforts against the publishing organization WikiLeaks. One document shows that as far back as 2010 the US National Security Agency added WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to a “MANHUNTING” target list, together with suspected members of al-Qaeda. Another shows that the NSA wanted to designate WikiLeaks as a “malicious foreign actor” in order to expand the NSA’s ability to target WikiLeaks staff, associates and supporters. And a third document, from 2012, demonstrates that the NSA’s UK partner GCHQ also spied on WikiLeaks and its readers.

Press freedom groups urge David Cameron to lay off The Guardian – A group of the world’s leading press freedom bodies is calling on prime minister David Cameron to distance himself from the investigation into The Guardian over the leaks by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The seven organisations also want Cameron to urge parliament to repeal the statute that underlies the royal charter on press regulation. Signatories to a letter sent to Cameron today include the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI). The decision to write to Cameron was taken at the annual meeting of the global coordinating committee of press freedom organisations, which took place in London last month. It followed what the signatories call an “unprecedented” fact-finding mission to Britain by WAN-IFRA.


(This POS is a fascist in drag!)

Merkel phone tapping fair game under international law, says ex-MI6 deputy – Intercepting the telephone calls of Angela Merkel would have been “politically unwise” and “certainly illegal under German law”, according to a former senior British secret intelligence officer. However, he says that under international law, tapping into the German chancellor’s telephone conversations “would appear to be fair game”. Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of MI6, was responding to the disclosure by Edward Snowden that the US National Security Agency targeted Merkel’s mobile telephone. Though the White House has not officially admitted it, it has said the US will not monitor the chancellor’s conversations in future.

Indonesia: Australia and US need to clean up their mess – Indonesia has said Australia and America need to “clean up their mess” to salvage relations with Indonesia after revelations that Australia spied on a law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute. New documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) spied on an American law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute and offered the information to America, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection – An American citizen living in Maryland sued the Ethiopian government today for infecting his computer with secret spyware, wiretapping his private Skype calls, and monitoring his entire family’s every use of the computer for a period of months. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the plaintiff in this case, who has asked the court to allow him to use the pseudonym Mr. Kidane – which he uses within the Ethiopian community – in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of his family both in the United States and in Ethiopia.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 19, 2014

The Best Tax Software for 2014;  Top Free Software Picks: Presentation Software;  How to Hide Facebook Posts from Certain People;  Microsoft launches OneDrive with new features;  Don’t look now but the LED light fixtures are spying on you;  Selfie360 Turns Your Face Into A Gif;  Google Explains How Not To Be A Glasshole;  iOS apps riskier than Android apps;  NSA spies back down in T-shirt ridicule brouhaha;   Researchers build pub to find out why people get hammered;  Nasty holes found in Belkin’s home automation kit;  Which cloud storage service is right for you?  Windows Password Kracker.

The Best Tax Software for 2014 – We chose a slightly different group of online tax-preparation websites for this year’s reviews. The company names are the same—Intuit, H&R Block and TaxACT—and we once again covered the most popular versions, the paid, deluxe editions of TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxACT. But we also decided to review their free versions: TurboTax Federal Free, H&R Block Free and TaxACT Free Federal.

Why we need to rethink how we view security – Looking back at the major security stories of the last few months, there’s something of a pattern emerging. While many may seem to be down to a simple flaw in a single layer of security, on deeper examination most actually involve problems with multiple layers, and highlight the importance of an in-depth approach to security.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Hide Facebook Posts from Certain People – For when unfriending your boss or your parents isn’t an option.

Microsoft launches OneDrive with new features and more ways to increase storage – Microsoft has now officially changed the name of its SkyDrive cloud data storage service to OneDrive and has added some new features along with a way to add new storage amounts for free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box: Which cloud storage service is right for you? – If you’re ready to take the plunge into storing your files, photos, and more in the cloud, but need help deciding which service is right for your needs and wallet, we’ve got you covered.

Cloud storage made simple: How to integrate it with your workflow – Thanks to cloud storage, files are bursting from the confines of your PC’s hard drive. Now, you can get work done on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or even portable mini-PCs and dongles. Still, many users still haven’t fully worked the cloud into the way they go about their daily business. Here’s how to seamlessly integrate the cloud into your workflow, starting with the most crucial part: Choosing a service that plays nice with your PC.

Microsoft’s survey reveals how you store your sensitive files, why you should go cloud – Alongside the launch of OneDrive, Microsoft has announced the results of a new survey which shows that a majority of people are still not backing up important files on a cloud server. The survey was conducted in December and based on results from 801 people ages 18 and older who have previously heard of cloud storage. One finding is that a whopping 77 percent of the survey respondents said they stored important files on one device and nowhere else.

We risk becoming citizens of new cloud empires – The rise of cloud computing has led to hyperscale providers–i.e., companies that provide more computing services than has ever been possible. The cloud giants are battling for control at every layer of the technology stack, and the winners will become the new cloud empires. Think about it: Did you become part of the Samsung empire when you bought your smartphone? When you moved your servers to Microsoft Windows Azure, did you become their citizen?

Opera launches public beta of data-saving app – Opera Max is a free app which uses a VPN to measure data usage on a user’s phone. It then routes any non-encrypted data requests through Opera’s servers, compressing video, images and websites so that they use less data. The idea is to give users, especially those on restricted data plans, the chance to use more data than they would normally be allowed to by their network provider.

Top Free Software Picks: Presentation Software – Dive into the presentation creators and players in the next few pages. None of the software here will make you a better presenter or speaker. But they might just be the right tools you need, and definitely at the right price (free!).

FINALLY: Caffeine-Infused Tank Top Promises to Slim You Down – Hammacher Schlemmer – purveyor of wonderfully weird items – has finally outdone itself with this $85 tank top. This magical article of clothing is somehow laced with coffee and green algae, which Hammacher claims will “rev up the body’s fat metabolism while creating a slimmer appearance.” For the magic to work, you’ll have to commit to wearing this thing eight hours a day for 21 days. The payoff, according to Hammacher, is up to an inch off the hips and up to 1.25 inches off the thighs. You can only machine-wash the tank top 20 times before all the juju wears off, too. After that, it’s just a plain black tank with a great story to tell.


Microsoft makes Skype and Lync more compatible, adds Lync for Android tablets – Although Lync and Skype share many features, Microsoft apparently will continue its tradition of pushing Skype at consumer applications, while using Lync as a business communications tool. For example, Giovanni Mezgec, the general manager of product marketing for Skype and Lync, said while Lync contacts will be able to conduct calls and videoconferences with someone on Skype, the Lync user won’t be able to share files.

Don’t look now but the LED light fixtures are spying on you – If you feel like you’re being watched at Terminal B in the Newark Liberty International Airport, then that’s real and not paranoia. It’s not the TSA this time, but covert airport surveillance via LED light fixtures capable of taking video, identifying suspicious activity, as well as collecting and data-mining mountains of data about ‘ordinary citizens.’ Whether or not you pay any attention to the lighting overhead, the lighting may be paying such close attention to you that privacy advocates are warning about the “terrifying” potential for misuse.

You can keep using XP for another year, but do you really want to? – While clinging to the 11-year-old OS after Microsoft issues its last security patch in April is defensible, the security risks are going to keep mounting.

Fine, you can mock us: NSA spies back down in T-shirt ridicule brouhaha – The NSA and Department of Homeland Security have abandoned efforts to shut down an internet site selling parodies of its logos on T-shirts, coffee cups and bumper stickers. Almost three years ago the NSA sent a cease-and-desist letter to online retailer Zazzle claiming that some of its merchandise was illegal under Public Law 86-36 contained in the 1959 National Security Agency Act, which prohibits misuse of the agency’s logo. At fault were items designed by the politically themed T-shirt company Liberty Maniacs.


Selfie360 Turns Your Face Into A Gif – Meet Selfie360, the newest, and most aptly named, app from the Cycloramic team. After building an app that automatically rotates your phone (hands-free, no less) to take a 360-degree photo, the Cycloramic team leveraged the technology in a brand new way. A narcissistic way, you might say.

Get e-mail contact info with Vibe – Chrome extension Vibe shows promise as a way to gather quick background information about an e-mail contact, including his or her company and location information, and social media profiles.

Google Explains How Not To Be A Glasshole – Here are the do’s and don’t’s of wearing Google Glass. Right from Google. Apparently, and I know this might be a shocker, you’re not supposed to stand in the corner of the room and record people with Google Glass. That would make you a glasshole according to this list.

Tell your friends their relationship sucks? Here’s an app for that – Oh, we all gossip about it when the happy couple isn’t looking. They’re a terrible match, we say. Now a free app lets us put our money where our mouths are.

Iridium GO!: A mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for anywhere access – Iridium’s GO! is a solution for people who want to be voice and data connected anywhere in the world, but would rather not carry a satellite phone. Iridium GO!’s data-link speed will remind you of bygone days and 25-45 Kb/sec modems. If you’re patient, Iridium is working on its NEXT satellite constellation, which will have data-link speeds approaching 1 Mb/sec. Another reason to be patient is that Iridium GO! is not slated to be released until the second quarter of 2014.



Nasty holes found in Belkin’s home automation kit – Insecure firmware handling, poor communications practises and API vulnerabilities are among a range of vulnerabilities security company IOActive has identified in Belkin’s WeMo home automation systems. In its advisory, here, IOActive says it’s discovered that the systems leak a hard-coded key and password that Belkin uses to sign firmware. This makes it a cinch for an attacker to create firmware that’s presented to the user as legitimate.

Asus router vulnerabilities go unfixed despite reports – It may be news to you that some Asus wireless routers leave your computer and networked drives open to hackers, but Asus has known about the problems for months, reports indicate. The vulnerabilities make it possible for hackers to access directories on networked drives using Asus’ proprietary AiCloud option. Enabling features such as “Cloud Disk,” “Smart Access,” and “Smart Sync” appear to enable the vulnerability, security researcher Kyle Lovett told Ars Technica. Enabling the file-sharing tool Samba in the router also exposes the vulnerability to hackers.

Admin rights key to mitigating vulnerabilities, study shows – A new study from Avecto demonstrates the real world import of running with “least privilege”. In 2013, Microsoft released 106 security bulletins and updates to address the 333 vulnerabilities identified in them. 200 of the 333 total vulnerabilities would be mitigated if the user were not running as administrator. 147 of the vulnerabilities were designated critical; 92 percent (135) of these would be mitigated.

Report finds iOS apps riskier than Android apps – Appthority found that 95 percent of the top 200 free apps on iOS and Android exhibit at least one risky behavior. That number drops to 80 percent for paid apps—an improvement, but four out of five paid apps exhibiting risky behavior is hardly something to cheer about. Appthority also discovered that iOS apps are riskier overall than Android apps—91 percent contain risky behavior as opposed to 83 percent on Android. They risky behaviors vary, but include things like location tracking—found in 70 percent of the free iOS and Android apps—weak authentication, sharing data with ad networks, accessing the contact list, or identifying the user or UDID.

Target hack strips banks and credit unions of $200M – Not only were as many as 110 million Target customers affected by the massive hack on the retailer in December, but banks have also had to deal with the security breach. The hack is said to have cost banks and credit unions more than $200 million, according to data gathered by the Consumer Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association. Originally, the two associations estimated that losses tallied around $178 million but now say those costs are rising.

Sleeper servers lurking in data centers of 139 US retailers – Two reports announce that a significant number of business networks, including retailers, have sleepers, also known as compromised servers, that are in contact with remote command and control servers. “Based on our analysis of 139 U.S. retailers from November 1, 2013 through January 12, 2014 we found 1,035 distinct infections communicating out from corporate networks, 7.5 on average per company,” according to BitSight’s 2014 Risk Management Blog.

Company News:

Verizon seeks payment for carrying Netflix traffic, WSJ reports – According to a Wall Street Journal report tonight, “[t]he online-video service has been at odds with Verizon Communications Inc. and other broadband providers for months over how much Netflix streaming content they will carry without being paid additional fees. Now the long simmering conflict has heated up and is slowing Netflix, in particular, on Verizon’s fiber-optic FiOS service, where Netflix says its average prime-time speeds dropped by 14 percent last month.”

Facebook must follow Germany’s data protection law, rules court – The Higher Court of Berlin has ruled in favor of a 2012 court finding that Facebook has run afoul of German data protection law, and that it must comply with such legalities. Beyond this, the Higher Court also confirmed that the social network’s terms of service and privacy policy contain multiple clauses in violation of the nation’s law.

HP execs were aware of Autonomy’s sales practices – report – Hewlett-Packard senior executives knew of Autonomy Corp.’s sales practices and problems months before a whistle-blower exposed the company, according to new reports. The US-based PC giant purchased Autonomy in 2011 for $11.1 billion. However, only a year later, Hewlett-Packard was forced to write down the acquisitions’ value by $8.8 billion. A whistle-blower then came forward, stating that hardware sales conducted by Autonomy were often conducted at a loss. As a result, Hewlett-Packard has accused the firm of accounting fraud, which remains an ongoing saga.

Games and Entertainment:

CastleStorm Beta Reaches Android and You Can Play Right Now – CastleStorm originally came to the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and other platforms last year. Now it’s coming to mobile devices as a free-to-play title. Yes, that’s just how things work these days, whether you like it or not. CastleStorm is now available as a beta on Android, so you can take a look at it free of charge.


Microsoft begins week long Xbox 360 Ultimate Games Sale – Microsoft has started a week long Ultimate Games Sale event for Xbox 360 owners, with big price cuts on digital games all week, along with daily sales deals as well.

Titanfall: Xbox One vs PC – After having played the Titanfall Beta on both the Xbox One and PC (via Origin on Windows 8), we’ve come to one conclusion. If you want to play Titanfall on your Xbox One, we’d recommend simply skipping the demo of the PC side of things. When you’ve got a ramped-up beast of a gaming PC pitted against the Xbox One, gameplay is comparable – but the graphics delivery difference is immense.


Irrational Games, The Company Behind BioShock, Is Shutting Down – Whoa. Irrational Games, the company that built the acclaimed BioShock video game series, is going away. Co-founder Ken Levine announced directly on the company’s front page this morning that they will soon see sweeping layoffs and will be reborn as a much smaller team with a new focus.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review – With the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 and 750 Ti comes the company’s first implementation of their 1st generation Maxwell GPU architecture. Maxwell brings what NVIDIA suggests is the most efficient GPU on the market – efficiency, that is, doing more with less. NVIDIA says they’ve increased the performance of Maxwell up per watt up 2x over Kepler.


Valve: Our anti-cheat software doesn’t record DNS data; we don’t ‘care what porn sites you visit’ – Valve CEO Gabe Newell has responded to a claim that its anti-cheat software records a user’s DNS data, saying that is not the case and added, “Do we care what porn sites you visit? (What a classless asshole!)

Off Topic (Sort of):

Without Net Neutrality “the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road” – The White House gives a very encouraging response to a petition regarding Net Neutrality, emphasizing the importance of a free and neutral Internet.

Researchers build pub to find out why people get hammered – A UK university wants to understand why people get drunk. So it spent $33,000 on a pub laboratory with microphones and hidden cameras to solve a great human mystery. (Maybe not so much of a mystery?)

Apple patents headphones that can monitor your vital stats – Key to the invention would be sensors embedded into one or more areas of the headsets or earbuds. By coming into contact with your skin, these sensors would be able to detect your heart rate, temperature, perspiration, and other physical stats. Wearing such a hands-free device would be a way to monitor and record your vitals as you exercise or play sports.

Hottest Gadgets at Toy Fair 2014 – The Toy Industry Association’s Toy Fair expo is in New York this week, with hundreds of companies showing off the gadgets and gizmos your kids (and maybe a few adults) will be begging you for in 2014. There were plenty of big brands with big toys at the Javits Center, but don’t forget the smaller companies showing off their own unique and high-tech takes on classic ideas.


Half of Americans want to live in a smart city with driverless cars – According to the survey, 44% of U.S. respondents said they would like to live in a city, where cars, buses and trains operate autonomously. Forty percent said they thought driverless vehicles would cut down the number of traffic accidents, while 38% said it would decrease traffic congestion and 34% said it would reduce carbon emissions.

First Bitcoin ATMs heading to the U.S. in February – The world’s first Bitcoin ATM landed in Vancouver, B.C. in October and now similar machines are headed stateside to Austin, TX and Seattle, WA. Nevada-based Robocoin, makers of the Bitcoin ATMs, announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would get its first Bitcoin machines later in February. Specific locations for the ATMs were not announced.

Something to think about:

Examine what is said, not him who speaks.”

–      Arab Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

Social Password Decryptor – Social Password Decryptor is the FREE software to instantly recover Passwords for popular Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc.

Windows Password Kracker – Windows Password Kracker is a free software to recover the lost or forgotten Windows password.

VNC Password Recovery – VNC Password Recovery is the FREE software to instantly recover VNC password stored by popular VNC Servers.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters – The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous. One classified document from Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s top spy agency, shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google. Another classified document from the U.S. intelligence community, dated August 2010, recounts how the Obama administration urged foreign allies to file criminal charges against Assange over the group’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs. (suggested by Aseem S.)

AT&T’s 2013 Law Enforcement Data Requests Topped 300K – AT&T in 2013 received nearly 302,000 law enforcement requests for customer information relating to criminal and civil cases, the carrier has announced. That included 248,343 subpoenas from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; 36,788 court orders; and 16,685 search warrants, AT&T said in its first-ever transparency report, released Tuesday. In more than 17,000 cases, AT&T provided partial or no information in response to those requests. The carrier also received 37,839 demands for historical or real-time location data, including 1,034 “cell tower searches” for all the numbers registered to a particular cell tower for a certain period of time. AT&T also responded to 94,304 911-related inquiries from law enforcement working on kidnappings, missing person cases, attempted suicides, and other emergencies.

Megaupload founder Dotcom loses in search warrant case – A court in New Zealand has ruled that warrants used to search the homes of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleague Bram van der Kolk were valid, but objected to the removal to the U.S. by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of copies of the electronic items seized. The Court of Appeal of New Zealand ruled Wednesday that the warrants were defective in some respects, but the defects were not sufficient to treat them as “nullities.” A ruling against the validity of the warrants would have made it harder for the U.S. bid to extradite Dotcom, van der Kolk and two other colleagues to face charges in the U.S., as the evidence collected could have been called into question.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 18, 2014

Angela Merkel: Let US spies keep their internet. The EU will build its own;  20 free PC apps to ease daily tasks;  Smartphone theft now a pandemic (and you are the target);  Back Up Your Cloud: How to Download All Your Data;  How to run your own e-mail server with your own domain;  Why cloud data isn’t as safe as you think;  Unusual, DIY ways to modify your smartphone’s camera;  Anonymous Messaging App Blink Arrives On Android;  Windows 8 Transformation Pack 8.0;  6 Ways Cops Are Going High-Tech;  Valve DNS privacy flap.

Back Up Your Cloud: How to Download All Your Data – From Facebook to Gmail to Twitter, here’s how to download everything you’ve uploaded.

20 free PC apps to ease daily tasks – Some of the best things in a PC lover’s life are indeed free, but they’re not always obvious. Beyond the free security tools and other must-have programs to install on a new PC lies a whole universe of lesser known, yet no less stellar software that’s just begging for a spot on your hard drive. Need proof? Check out the following 20 supremely handy-dandy programs. None are household names, but all will rock your world.

Smartphone theft now a pandemic (and you are the target) – The spread of smartphone theft is off the charts. Some US senators have a plan to solve it, but the carriers don’t agree. Is the Senate plan a bad idea, or are carriers just trying to bilk their customers out of insurance fees? It’s an ugly story no matter how you look at it.

Anonymous Messaging App Blink Arrives On Android – Blink, a mobile application that allows users to send each other self-destructing messages, has now arrived on Android. The app, which first debuted on iOS last spring, lets you share text, photos, videos, sketches, and even voice messages with your friends, though the company has found that the majority of its users are using Blink for “ephemeral” texting purposes.

How to run your own e-mail server with your own domain, part 1 – Because you must rely on others for your security. You have no control over who can read your correspondence—you must allow your data to be mined and your marketing profile extracted. You won’t be told if your metadata is collected or if your inbox is vacuumed up by a secret government request. You consent to be not a customer but a product, and a product has no rights. Well, to hell with that. It’s your e-mail. And we’re going to take it back.

Why cloud data isn’t as safe as you think Yes, the cloud works pretty well. So does your PC. But the two are not always happy together. Here’s why.

Muzei Live Wallpaper Makes Your Android Home Screen Beautiful in Just a Few Taps – Android has supported live wallpapers since version 2.1, but most of the apps taking advantage of it are a little too busy for long term use. Muzei is a different take on the Android live wallpaper. This app takes various images and puts them behind a blur effect to create an understated, but very attractive backdrop.


A First Look At Echobox, An Analytics Tool For News Sites That Actually Helps Drive Traffic – Instead of simply displaying tons of stats and fancy charts, Echobox looks at a site’s visitor data and, using its own algorithms and machine learning, actually recommends actions to take, including editorial, to drive additional traffic. Crucially, those recommendations are written in plain English.

Problem with your golf game? Get a coach on the line stat – MobiCoach combines an iOS app, a sensor, and your mobile device to transmit video of your golf swing to a coach for real-time feedback and instruction.


Researchers say web trolls are sadists and psychopaths – A recent paper has confirmed what most of us already knew, web trolls are psycho. The study was conducted by three different universities in Canada and concluded that web trolls are sadists and psychopaths. The paper was published this month in a journal called Personality and Individual Differences.

Unusual, DIY ways to modify your smartphone’s camera – Here are tips, tricks, mods and gadgets to make your smartphone’s camera more interesting.

Forbes Hack password shootout: Gmail vs Yahoo vs Hotmail vs AOL – whose users are the smartest? – Which webmail service has the smartest users? And are they getting smarter over time? Paul Ducklin tries to use the password data from the Forbes hack to find the answers…

6 Ways Cops Are Going High-Tech – Not every police department can afford to experiment with high-tech gadgets, of course. But they have to start somewhere. Check out the slideshow for a look at some of the futuristic ideas some departments are examining, and which might be featured in a precinct, squad car, or on a uniform in your neighborhood soon.

What’s keeping Google from an enterprise assault – Google has made progress in the enterprise but long adoption curves, organizational auto-pilot, and lack of customization are still keeping them from breaking through.


Dear Asus router user: You’ve been pwned, thanks to easily exploited flaw – An Ars reader by the name of Jerry got a nasty surprise as he was browsing the contents of his external hard drive over the weekend—a mysterious text file warning him that he had been hacked thanks to a critical vulnerability in the Asus router he used to access the drive from various locations on his local network. It’s likely that Jerry wasn’t the only person to find the alarming message had been uploaded to a hard drive presumed to be off-limits to outsiders. Two weeks ago, a group posted almost 13,000 IP addresses its members said hosted similarly vulnerable Asus routers. They also published a torrent link containing more than 10,000 complete or partial lists of files stored on the Asus-connected hard drives.


Can a hacker use a brute-force attack to steal an online password? – Given enough time and computing power, a brute force attack can theoretically crack any password. But is that a real threat to Internet accounts?

Hiding in plain sight: a story about a sneaky banking Trojan – The Zeus/Zbot Trojan is one the most notorious banking Trojans ever created; it’s so popular it gave birth to many offshoots and copycats. The particularity of Zeus is that it acts as a “man-in-the-browser“ allowing cyber-crooks to collect personal information from its victims as well as to surreptitiously perform online transactions. A new variant of this trojan, dubbed ZeusVM, is using images as a decoy to retrieve its configuration file, a vital piece for its proper operation.

Company News:

Apple Store in Rio de Janeiro opens, becoming the first location in South America – Apple has been steadily rolling out new Apple Stores all around the world. There are a bunch of stores in the US, but no locations have been placed in South America. Apple has announced that it has opened a new location in Rio de Janeiro.

Can Yahoo really wriggle out of its Microsoft search partnership? – The 10-year Microsoft-Yahoo search pact continually seems like it’s threatening to unravel. But will that realistically happen? If so, how — and when?

Samsung sues Dyson over reputation damage in vacuum spat – Samsung has countersued Dyson, accusing the British vacuum cleaner company of having “negatively affected” its brand reputation after it sued the Korean firm back in 2013 over patent infringement. Dyson brought its suit in August in the UK, describing Samsung’s 2013 Motion Sync cleaner as a “cynical rip-off” of a patent it itself was granted back in 2009, but later voluntarily dropped the case after discovering prior art. However, just being out of the legal headlamps isn’t enough to satisfy Samsung, which is accusing its far smaller rival of damaging its good name.

Google revs Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine to drive high-performance web apps – Google aims to stamp out stuttering and dropped frames in complex web apps in Chrome by changing how the browser compiles JavaScript to native code.

China’s home-grown Linux OS shutters – Once the world’s second-largest Linux distributor, Red Flag software has closed down reportedly due to mismanagement and after owing months in unpaid wages.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft to cut digital price of Xbox One’s Ryse: Son of Rome to $39.99 for one week – Microsoft has announced it will cut the price to download Ryse: Son of Rome for the Xbox One to $39.99 from February 18-24, in its first experiment with variable prices for digital Xbox One games.


Valve DNS privacy flap exposes the murky world of cheat prevention – Like most online game makers, Valve uses a cheat detection system to protect popular multiplayer games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, and Dota 2 from hacks that would give a player an unfair advantage. That Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system was at the center of a potential privacy bombshell earlier today, with accusations that the system was sending Valve a list of all the domains that a system has visited whenever a protected game was played.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas arrives in the Windows store – Rockstar Games, which released a Windows Phone version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas a few weeks ago, has also released the game as a Windows 8.1 app via the Windows Store.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Windows 8 UX designer on Metro: “It is the antithesis of a power user” – Windows 8 UX designer talks about the decisions behind the Metro interface, as well as why they were made, and why its a necessary evil that power users must endure.

Fly6 Cycle Camera Lets Drivers Know It’s Watching Them So They Drive Better – The Fly6 is a cycle camera, currently seeking funds via Kickstarter, that wants to draw motorists’ attention to the fact they are being filmed in order to police their behaviour for the better (or so its makers hope).


Tata says USA rejecting HALF of Indians’ work visa requests – Indian IT services giant Tata Consulting Services (TCS) has said as many as half of its visa applications to the US are now being rejected as Washington continues to clamp down on immigration ahead of a new bill passing through Congress. TCS global head of human resources, Ajoyendra Mukherjee, told news site Livemint that the 50 per cent rejection rate had forced the company to increase hires from the US and Canada by a third this fiscal year, from around 450 to 600 each quarter.

Lito Sora electric motorcycle arrives with integrated touchscreen and GPS – We’ve seen many electric motorcycles roll out over the years — the Brammo Enertia back in 2007, for example, and the more recent Voxan Wattman — and with every year comes improvements across the categories: efficiency, power, and technological capabilities. The latest entrant in the market is the Lito Sora, a modern bike with classic design elements and integrated tech.


Watch a Boeing 767’s landing gear strained to its limits – A 767 landing at the UK’s Birmingham airport in extreme conditions shows the full flexibility of its equipment.


Does 24/7 connectivity connect us or leave us alone together? – Alex Howard presents various viewpoints about how technological changes and uses affect cultures. Weigh in on whether you think such advances are corrosive, liberating, or both.

Something to think about:

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

–      Henry Ford

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCEnhancer 3.9 – CCleaner is a powerful tool for locating and removing leftover files that might be cluttering up your hard drive. But CCleaner Enhancer (now CCEnhancer) makes it better still by adding support for more than 270 applications to the program, which means it’ll now free up even more valuable hard drive space.

Windows 8 Transformation Pack 8.0 – Every new version of Windows involves adapting to change, and Windows 8.1 is no different, with a radical new look as it attempts to bestride tablets and phones as well as your laptop or desktop. If all you want to do is preview the new look and some of the tools on your Windows 7-powered PC, try the Windows 8 UX Pack.

NetworkLatencyView 1.20 (32-bit) – NetworkLatencyView is a compact portable tool which automatically detects new TCP connections on your system, calculating and displaying their network latency (a measure of the delay in that connection).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Angela Merkel: Let US spies keep their internet. The EU will build its own – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has lent her support to the idea of building out new European data networks to help keep Europeans’ email and other data out of the hands of US spies. In the latest edition of her weekly podcast on Saturday, Merkel said she planned to raise the issue among other topics in a meeting with French President François Hollande this week. “We’ll talk, above all, about which European suppliers we have that provide security for the citizens,” Merkel said, speaking in German, “that they need not cross the Atlantic with their emails and other things, but we can also build communications networks within Europe.”

Spy Chief: We Should’ve Told You We Track Your Calls – In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Clapper said the problems facing the U.S. intelligence community over its collection of phone records could have been avoided. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11—which is the genesis of the 215 program—and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards… We wouldn’t have had the problem we had,” Clapper said. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Despite Protest, The USA Freedom Act Remains In Holding Pattern – Coming off a day of global protest — both offline and off — that sent tens of thousands of emails and phone calls into the United States Congress, it appears that the USA Freedom Act hasn’t budged on Capitol Hill. According to The Hill, the bill is stuck fast. Despite the recent protests dubbed “The Day We Fight Back” that argued in favor of the Act, Congress hasn’t yet changed its mind in terms of action when it comes to the NSA; Legislators appear to be waiting for the administration to nod its head one direction or the other on the bill.

NSA: Edward Snowden had help – The NSA claimed in a recent document that Edward Snowden pulled a fast one on at least one fellow NSA employee in order to gain access to the classified documents he’s gone on to leak – or gush, as the case may be. Snowden has denied such claims in the past, and according to his legal people, he still does, and this new charge amounts to the NSA’s habit of scapegoating.

In Yemen, questions and anger over U.S. drone targets after civilian deaths – A drone-fired U.S. missile struck a car southeast of here on a winter night last year, killing two alleged al-Qaeda operatives who lived openly in their community. But it also killed two cousins who were giving the men a ride and who the Yemeni government later said were innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. That incident, and other strikes that have followed, helped fuel anger here over civilian casualties from U.S. drone attacks and what critics say is an even less scrutinized problem: the targeting of suspects who are within the reach of the law. (suggested by Aseem S.)


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 17, 2014

Your new PC needs these 22 free programs;  2014’s top Linux desktops;  A Chromebook offers Defensive Computing when traveling;  Spot unscrupulous domain registrars;  How The NSA Is Turning Your Apps Against You;  Kickstarter says it’s been hacked;  New IE10 zero-day exploit found;  Titanfall Beta open: everyone is free to play;  Mozilla’s top exec defends in-Firefox ads; Earth revolves around the sun? 1 in 4 Americans say nope;  NSA allows Australia to spy on US law firm;   Understanding the Internet of Things;  Make Money Selling Your Personal Data Yourself.

How The NSA Is Turning Your Apps Against You – In late January, leaked documents revealed that the NSA and other national spy organizations have been hard at work getting information from your smartphone. But instead of installing a bug, they just tapped into the apps already on your phone to learn everything they want to know.

Your new PC needs these 22 free programs – Yes, stocking your PC is an intensely personal task. Even still, some programs are so helpful, so handy, so useful across the board that we heartily recommend them to everybody. These are the programs you want to install on a new PC first.

A Chromebook offers Defensive Computing when traveling – To brutally simplify things, Chromebooks, a brainchild of Google, are laptop computers that only run the Chrome web browser. Chromebooks are a new paradigm in computing. Although physically they look much like a MacBook Air, they share almost no design philosophy with desktop systems (Windows, OS X, Linux) or mobile systems (iOS, Android). Without question, a Chromebook is safer than Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS or Android. Security is baked into the design. (A Michael Horowitz article – highly recommended.)

Aftershocks Of Snowden Affair Still Affect Cybersecurity Practices – It’s no surprise that companies altered their security practices in light of the Edward Snowden and the NSA uproar. According to ThreatTrack Security’s recent study on IT and security managers employed by U.S. defense contractors, the aftermath of the data breaches have changed companies’ cybersecurity practices and policies in more ways than one.

Get Your Friends to Pay Up With Square Cash – Asking someone for the money they owe you can be awkward. But Square wants to help you avoid those cringe-worthy conversations. The mobile payment company this week introduced a new feature that lets you easily charge an individual or group of people who owe you cash. You can now request payment directly from the company’s Square Cash app, or by simply composing an email.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Kensington Proximo – Safeguard your phone, save money and regain your peace of mind with the new way to ensure your phone, and everything on it, stays with you.

Datacoup: Make Money Selling Your Personal Data Yourself – How much is your privacy worth? A new startup called Datacoup is making headlines for its radical business model: The company will pay you up to $8 per month for anonymized access to your financial data and social media accounts.

How to force SkyDrive to store your files on your hard drive in Windows 8.1 – With Windows 8.1 SkyDrive makes many of your files available only when you’re online. Here’s how to change that so you always have a local copy at hand.

Use apps to turn your Twitter feed into a spoiler-free zone – Are the people in your social media sphere yammering on about House of Cards or the Winter Olympics before you’ve had a chance to watch? We’ve looked at some apps that can silence them until you can get to a TV.

Linux Deepin is a fringe Linux distribution that could steal your heart – I’ve used more flavors of Linux than I can remember. Some of them were nothing more than blips on my radar, whereas others were serious contenders for my desktop. And then there’s Linux Deepin (formerly Hiweed Linux). This Linux distribution, based on Ubuntu, aims to provide a beautiful and user-friendly experience for any level of users.


Six Clicks: 2014’s top Linux desktops – After years of talk about the Linux desktop becoming important, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it’s not the Linux desktop we expected.

How to quickly and safely clean the iPhone, iPad, or anything else with a screen – Is the screen on your iPhone or iPad (or whatever device you happen to be using) caked with grease, earprints, fingerprints and muck? Here’s how you can return your screen to the condition it was when you first laid eyes on it.

Use Google search to set a timer – Did you know you can use Google search as a timer? The feature was available late last year then disappeared, but is now back.


Facebook can predict your break-up – The social network knows everything about our lives, which means it knows how and when we meet our partners, where we check in on date night, our biggest moments together, and (sadly) when we break up. So Facebook aggregated all the data it has on couples around the world and turned up a few surprising relationship facts.

How to deauthorize Google Play Music devices – If you’ve reached your 10-device limit on Google Play Music, you’ll need to deauthorize a device in order to allow a new one to access the service.

Understanding the Internet of Things – Towards a Smart Planet. (infographic)

News flash: People rarely read before tweeting stories – A traffic measurement company suggests that few people actually read the articles they share. If you spend much time online, you probably aren’t surprised.

Spot unscrupulous domain registrars with these four tips – Not all domain registrars are created equally. Find a trustworthy domain registrar by following this quick guide.

Kiuwan: The on-line code review tool – Based on static analysis, Kiuwan gives you high level indicators, about risk, quality and technical debt in your software development. At the same time, it provides details on intrinsic code metrics and detected defects found in your applications. Packed with great features to guide you on how to improve. There is no longer an excuse for bad code.

Can 200 million licenses be wrong? Windows 8 hits major milestone – Microsoft announced that it has sold 200 million Windows 8 licenses in about 15 months. That’s way ahead of Windows Vista, which only hit 180 million licenses after 18 months, but well behind Windows 7, which only took a year to reach 240 million licenses sold. Windows 8 had originally been keeping pace with its predecessor, hitting 100 million licenses sold as of last May. The fact that Windows 8 has fallen behind may explain why Microsoft had been keeping quiet about sales over the last several months.

A Comprehensive Guide to Facebook’s New Options for Gender Identity – Facebook’s message was clear when the social media network added new gender options for users on Thursday: the company is sensitive to a wide spectrum of gender identity and wants users to feel accommodated no matter where they see themselves on that spectrum. What might be less clear to many people is exactly what the approximately 50 new custom options for gender—like trans*, pangender and cis—actually mean.


Kickstarter says it’s been hacked and urges users to change passwords – On Saturday afternoon, Kickstarter announced that it had become aware of a security breach resulting in the loss of personal customer data like “usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords.” The crowdfunding site e-mailed its users later that night, urging them to change their passwords.

Syrian Electronic Army hits Forbes site; claims to have taken user accounts – The hacker group known as the Syrian Electronic Army, which has been targeting Microsoft for the past several weeks, has now turned its attention to other online outlets. Today, the SEA went after the Forbes website, but this time, instead of just defacing pages, it claims to have taken 1 million user names and passwords from the site.

Update: Third of Internet Explorer users at risk from attacks – Microsoft confirms both IE9 and IE10 contain vulnerability, urges customers to upgrade to IE11; leaves Vista users out in the cold.

New IE10 zero-day exploit found; could be targeting U.S. military – Microsoft may have released new Internet Explorer security patches earlier this week, but now the company has confirmed that a new zero-day exploit in IE10 has been found and is apparently being used by an unknown group to target members of the U.S. military. The flaw was found by the security firm FireEye, which it says was used by the mystery hackers to compromise the website of the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Anti-theft software could be exploited, Kaspersky reports – Kaspersky Lab’s research has revealed millions of computers running anti-theft software could be at risk of being hijacked by cyber attackers. Kaspersky Lab’s security research team has published a report that highlights that the weak implementation of anti-theft software marketed by Absolute Software can turn a useful defensive utility into a powerful instrument for cyber attackers. The focus of the research was the Absolute Computrace agent that resides in the firmware, or PC ROM BIOS, of modern laptops and desktops.

Microsoft awards another $100,000 bounty for finding a Windows 8.1 exploit – In October, Microsoft awarded its top bounty reward of $100,000 for the first time to security researcher James Forshaw for his discovery of a mitigation bypass exploit in Windows 8.1. This week, the company revealed that it has given out another $100,000 prize to researcher Yu Yang for finding and reporting variants on the Mitigation Bypass. The $100,000 reward was posted up quietly on Microsoft’s Bounty Hunter honor roll page and also revealed via Twitter by Katie Moussouris, the company’s Senior Security Strategist Lead.

Company News:

Mozilla’s top exec defends in-Firefox ads, revenue search – The chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit that funds the development of Firefox, is defending the decision to pursue in-browser ads, saying that it’s important to generate revenue.

Qualcomm backtracks on Smart TV plans, cans Snapdragon 802 – Trying to perhaps avoid a large media backlash, Qualcomm has rather silently announced its decision to not push through with its Snapdragon 802 processor. This statement comes just a month after the chip maker unveiled at CES 2014 the chip that will drive its formal venture into the realm of Smart TVs.

Microsoft extends Windows 7 Pro OEM preinstalls to satisfy business buyers – The cut-off for the consumer versions of Windows 7—Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate—has been reinstated. Those versions will still stop being available as OEM preinstalls on October 31, 2014. But for the corporate-oriented Professional SKU, there’s now no firm date for when those OEM sales will end. Instead, there’s a footnote, saying that the company will give at least one year of notice before any cut-off date is actually set.

Google acquires SlickLogin; created way to transfer passwords via sound – The Israel-based startup SlickLogin, which has created a way to transfer passwords from a phone to a website via sound, has announced that it has been acquired by Google.

Windows Phone app certification times down to as low as one hour – Microsoft has announced it has made efforts to cut down the amount of time to certify new Windows Phone apps for publication, even making approvals as quick as one hour after submission.

Games and Entertainment:

Titanfall Beta open: everyone is free to play – Tonight the decision to stress test Titanfall Beta has been made – codes will not be needed and all players will be able to try the game until the end of the Beta period. At the moment this means users will immediately, if not soon, be able to access Titanfall Beta so that the creators of the game are able to test how much the servers that keep the game active online are able to take.


5 Tips for Dominating the Titanfall Beta – Participants in Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall control monstrous mechs and well-armed soldiers, but that doesn’t mean they should enter the fray firing guns and missiles without a gameplan. Titanfall is a game of combat awareness, so one must come prepared for the various fighting situations. These five tips will help you become an ace Titanfall pilot and rule the battelfield.

Apple and Google reported to be pulling down games on the basis of “Flappy” names – Like a zombie that refuses to die, Flappy Bird has still been seeing some activity days after its official demise thanks to imitations and scams proliferating on the Internet. Now it seems that Google and Apple are finally putting an axe to those clones by rejecting or even removing games from iTunes App Store and Google Play Store if they have the word “Flappy” in their name.

This Lego Movie Blooper Reel should have been at the end of the film – There’s nothing cool at the end of The Lego Movie after the credits. There totally should have been though, and this video is exactly what should have been there.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 Things That Are Way Better In Slow Motion – This is why I watch and listen to all movies and music at 1/4 speed.

20 Things That Are Way Better In Slow Motion

Earth revolves around the sun? 1 in 4 Americans say nope – A National Science Foundation survey offers a sobering reflection of knowledge in today’s all-knowing world. Many people really do believe the sun circles the Earth. And more than half don’t know that humans evolved from animals.

Computer geeks as loners? Data says otherwise – The typical image of a computer geek is that of a socially clueless loner. Not only single, but can’t even get a date. Data, however, paints a somewhat different picture — at least when it comes to tech workers tying the knot.


King Richard III will be first famous historical figure to have genome sequences – Richard III ruled England for just two years, from 1483 to 1485 when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field. A few hundred years is a long time for humanity, but DNA is hearty enough to remain mostly intact after that amount of time. Researchers will grind small samples of bone in an effort to extract samples of DNA. While the body of Richard III isn’t terribly old in archaeological terms, the moist clay he was buried in isn’t ideal for preserving genetic material.

Power laces coming in 2015 confirms original Nike designer – It’s like a blast from the past but is really a trip back to the future in the soon to be present. Tinker Hatfield, the original designer behind Nike’s limited edition recreation of the movie prop, has just confirmed that we will be seeing self-lacing Power Laces in 2015.


10 medal-worthy GIFs from the Sochi Olympic Games – The winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia right now, and depending on your location, local broadcasters are airing hour upon hour of coverage. Who’s got time for that, though? GIFs only take a few seconds and you can get the gist of what’s going on. Plus, no commercial breaks!

Woman jailed for not returning VHS of JLo movie 9 years ago – Your old technology sins can still catch up with you, if you live in South Carolina, that is. One woman, attempting to report a crime to police, finds out the hard way, as she is jailed for not returning a rented movie.

Norwegian prisoner demands PS3 and computer – Though prison seems an unlikely place for (relatively) modern gaming consoles, petitions for devices have grown in recent time. Last year, an Australian inmate took legal action in an attempt to score a computer and an in-cell PlayStation 3. Now Norwegian Anders Breivik has done similar, kicking up a ruckus and threatening to hunger strike if his PS2 isn’t upgraded.

Something to think about:

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

–   George Orwell

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA allows Australia to spy on US law firm – The New York Times is reporting that Australia’s NSA counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), monitored a US-based law firm while that firm was representing Indonesia in trade disputes with the US government. The eavesdropping occurred with the NSA’s approval, and ASD apparently offered to share the information with the NSA. These revelations are part of yet another set of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Australia: George Brandis signals internet filter rebirth  – The Abbott government is considering a major crackdown on online piracy, including forcing internet service providers to block websites that allow users to illegally stream or download movies, music and television shows.  The federal government is also considering implementing a “graduated response scheme” that could lead to consumers’ internet accounts being temporarily suspended if they ignore notifications to stop downloading illegal content. If implemented, the reforms could see popular file sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay blocked by some internet service providers. (suggested by Mal C.)

Feds seek contractor to build new federal license plate reader database: Civil libertarians say such a project would have no “clearly defined purpose.” – While license plate readers are on the rise by federal and local law enforcement agencies, they typically are not linked together into a one-stop shop beyond federally-funded “fusion centers,” which depend on local data. Apparently that is not enough for the feds anymore. The DHS further posted a 29-page document (PDF) outlining its requirements, including “featuring Smartphone technology based application for at least one Smartphone type, i.e. Android/iPhone/BlackBerry etc. currently in use by [Department of Homeland Security / Immigration and Customs Enforcement] allowing for license plate pictures to be taken and uploaded. Any positive matches shall return to the Smartphone an alert notification indicating to the User a positive match.”

Private firms argue First Amendment right to collect license plate data – Two major private LPR firms—Digital Recognition Network and Vigilant Solutions—are suing Utah’s governor and attorney general, arguing that they have a First Amendment right to collect data on license plates, which are displayed in public on open roads. The case seemingly pits the privacy rights of individuals against the First Amendment rights of corporations to engage in constitutionally protected speech. Legal experts say that this case presents a unique challenge in balancing these two constitutional rights, and it may have implications for future, similar laws across the country.

Making NSA-style spying harder, CloudFlare offers more robust Web crypto: Full (strict) Transport Layer Security is now ready for prime time – In a move designed to thwart wholesale eavesdropping by state-sponsored spies and sophisticated crime gangs, content delivery network CloudFlare has upgraded its Web-encryption capabilities to better protect data traveling between its own servers and those of its customers.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 14, 2014

Data Privacy: It’s Easy As One-Two-Three;  How to Avoid Your Ex on Social Media;  Meet Flappy Bert, Sesame Street’s Flappy Bird clone;  Free startup manager beats Windows 8.1’s built-in tools;  Solve four common problems with your new smartphone;  Erasing SSDs: Security is an issue;  The Biggest Online Dating Red Flags;  6 Ways Cops Are Going High-Tech;  Wikileaf Is Like Yelp For Kine Bud;  Facebook Opens Up LGBTQ-Friendly Gender Identity;  Free Xbox Live Gold weekend for Xbox 360;  The LEGO Movie Review;  New zero-day bug in IE 10.

Data Privacy: It’s Easy As One-Two-Three – You know the steps to protect your privacy, but do you actually follow them? Data Privacy Day quietly rolled around at the end of January, a time for people to be reminded of the data choices they have made and will make throughout the year. In a recent blog post, Sophos offered three key tips for those of us who strive to be more security-conscious.

You Don’t Need to Be a Sexter to Want a Self-Destructing Message Service – With hacking on the rise, the demand for ultra secure, ultra private self-destructing messages is building.

How to Avoid Your Ex on Social Media – While there are all sorts of rom-com-inspired ways to avoid running into your ex in real life, steering clear of them on social media requires more finesse and is in many ways more necessary. A study out of the U.K.’s Brunel University found that emotional recovery from a breakup can be severely stunted just by remaining Facebook friends. So what can you do?

Third of women report online stalking by partner or ex – Around 40% of women say current or former partners have monitored their online activity, but just 30% regard it as stalking.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook Opens Up LGBTQ-Friendly Gender Identity And Pronoun Options – Facebook has just updated to let users choose the gender pronoun they associate with. Aside from the usual “male” and “female” options, users can choose up to 10 different gender definitions to describe themselves out of more than 50 options, including “cisgender,” “transgender” and “intersex.”

The Biggest Online Dating Red Flags – While online dating may be a great way to find your soul mate, you’ll be confronted with thousands of candidates. And, like many other online offerings, the “product” received may not always be what was advertised. So improve your chance of success by keeping an eye out for the following red flags as you sort through potential date’s profiles.

BBM adds voice calls, BBM Channels and Dropbox for iPhone & Android – BlackBerry has rolled out an update to BBM for iPhone and Android, adding in BBM Voice for making calls, and enabling BBM Channels, among other new features. The update, available today, sees BlackBerry’s cross-platform messaging client also add in Dropbox support, allowing files stored in the cloud to be sent directly to a BBM contact without having to download it to the smartphone first.

Abandon the sinking Office 2003 ship by jumping on board an alternative office suite – Your upgrade options include several office suites: LibreOffice, Office 2013, Office Web Apps, Office 365, iWork, or Google Apps. Each of these suites includes an app to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and each of the suites can import Office 2003 files. However, complex files may not import with 100% accuracy into any new system.

Five Microsoft services to make any business smarter (including yours) – Microsoft’s operating system may be the primary engine in most businesses, but there is a world outside Windows. Microsoft offers an array of services that address some of the most common headaches small businesses face and enable them to operate like much bigger organizations. Here are five of the gems.

Smart Defrag 3 sports a newfound speed and a Metro-style interface – The third major incarnation of Iobit’s free defragger offers a new, more modern interface, better workflow, and it faster. It’s a winner, if you need anything more than Window’s own utility. (Free)

Free startup manager beats Windows 8.1’s built-in tools – The Task Manager utility doesn’t always provide the information you need to decide whether your system’s auto-start apps really need to load each time your PC boots. No such worries with Autoruns.

Wikileaf Is Like Yelp For Kine Bud – Wikileaf is a price comparison engine for pot dispensaries. You put in your location and how far you’re willing to travel and the system scours the dank web for pot prices. Think of it as Expedia for herb or Kayak for Kush.

Surprise, surprise: Privacy groups still mad about Facebook ads – Last summer, Facebook had to fork over $20 million to settle a class-action suit over its Sponsored Stories ads, but privacy groups are now saying that settlement isn’t good enough. The New York Times reported Thursday that the nonprofit group Public Citizen will file a legal brief with a San Francisco appeals court on behalf of children and parents who want Facebook to stop using the likes and images of minors in their ads.

Latest SkyDrive for Windows 8.1 update brings back sync icon to taskbar – Microsoft has updated Windows 8.1 this week with a number of patches, including some improvements to SkyDrive such as bringing back the icon to the desktop taskbar and more.

Meet Flappy Bert, Sesame Street’s amazing Flappy Bird clone – You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Sesame Street they know how to grab onto a cultural phenomenon. Sesame Workshop recently came out with its own Flappy Bird clone and it’s amazing. (Well, for a Flappy Bird imitator.) Called Flappy Bert, the Sesame Street game challenges you to weave through a maze of pipes just like the original. Only this time, you’re playing as a bird who has latched onto Bert’s head and is pulling him across town.

6 Ways Cops Are Going High-Tech – Not every police department can afford to experiment with high-tech gadgets, of course. But they have to start somewhere. Check out the slideshow for a look at some of the futuristic ideas some departments are examining, and which might be featured in a precinct, squad car, or on a uniform in your neighborhood soon.

Erasing SSDs: Security is an issue – Security issues are a problem with Solid State Drives (SSDs) because hard-drive data removal techniques might not work. Find out if there are solutions.

How to solve four common problems with your new smartphone – Whether you’re new to the wonderful world of smartphones or you just bought yourself a newer model, these tips should help.

Smartphone Sales Finally Beat Out Dumb Phone Sales Globally In 2013, With 968M Units Sold – 2013 was the year when the inevitable happened: worldwide sales of smartphones surpassed sales of the more basic (and generally cheaper) feature phone devices for the first time, according to Gartner’s latest market estimates – with 968 million smartphone device units sold to end users in 2013 out of a total of 1.8 billion mobiles sold.

Email and Meetings Are Still Wasting Your Time – What’s wasting your time at work? For three years running, has conducted a survey of professionals, mostly freelancers and small business owners, to find out. Results from this year’s “Top Time Killers” survey of more than 1,300 people unsurprisingly sees email at the very top of the list, closely followed by meetings.

How to turn your Android tablet into a security camera system – Jack Wallen shows how you can use your GoPro Hero Wi-Fi-enabled camera and an Android tablet to make a flexible security camera setup.


New zero-day bug in IE 10 exploited in active malware attack, MS warns – Microsoft has confirmed reports of a recently active attack that surreptitiously installed malware on computers running a fully patched version 10 of the Internet Explorer browser. The attacks also work on IE 9, the company warned. The zero-day exploit was served on vfw[.]org, the official website for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, according to a blog post published Thursday afternoon by security firm FireEye. The people behind the attack compromised the VFW website and then embedded an iframe tag that silently loaded a page on another site that hosted the exploit.

Bogus Microsoft “Reactivate Your Email Account” emails doing rounds – Phishing emails purportedly sent by Microsoft are targeting the company’s customers and trying to get them to reveal their login credentials and some personal information. The given pretext is that they need to reactive their email account.

Silk Road reboot claims all Bitcoin funds stolen in hack – The latest incarnation of the Silk Road underground market says it lost all of its Bitcoin reserves (estimated to be worth two to three million dollars) in a fraud attack. A site administrator said on Wednesday that a group of hackers appear to have exploited the Bitcoin “transaction malleability” loophole to withdraw funds from the site just as admins were conducting maintenance work that required funds to be placed in a vulnerable location. The result, according to administrator “Defcon” was the complete loss of all Bitcoin funds the site had in its escrow holdings.

The sad state of cyber security readiness – The research, which assessed attitudes to cyber security and levels of preparedness among IT decision makers, highlights that UK businesses are lagging behind their US counterparts in crucial areas. Just one in five (21 per cent) respondents in the UK are able to measure the ROI of their cyber security measures compared to nine in ten (90 per cent) US companies. Similarly, 86 per cent of US directors and senior decision makers are given IT security training, compared to just 37 per cent in the UK.

Microsoft announces new partnerships to combat cybercrime – Microsoft has announced it has entered into partnerships with three groups (The Organization of American States, Europol and FIS) in its continued efforts to help combat international cybercrime.

Hackers circulate thousands of FTP credentials; New York Times among those hit – Hackers are circulating credentials for thousands of FTP sites and appear to have compromised file transfer servers at The New York Times and other organizations, according to a security expert. The hackers obtained credentials for more than 7,000 FTP sites and have been circulating the list in underground forums, said Alex Holden, chief information security officer for Hold Security, a Wisconsin-based company that monitors cyberattacks.

Company News:

Microsoft: More than 200 million Windows 8 licenses sold – Microsoft has announced that it has sold 200 million Windows 8 licenses sold since Windows 8 launched which is a massive count, by any metric. Based on the current rate of sales, from launch to today, Windows 8 is selling at a rate of a little over 420,000 licenses per day. For reference, Microsoft sold roughly 240 million license of Windows 7 in a 12 month time period but it has taken Windows 8 15 months to hit 200 million sales. It’s quite clear that, while 200 million is a massive number, it is at a slower pace than Windows 7.

Comcast: No promise that prices “will go down or even increase less rapidly” – When Comcast announced its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, it said the merger would bring significant cost savings and efficiencies that would “ultimately benefit customers.” But Comcast doesn’t expect these savings to bring price decreases, or even cause prices to rise less rapidly.

Kill the Comcast-Time Warner deal, consumer groups cry – Consumer and digital rights groups Free Press, Public Knowledge and Consumer Watchdog all called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission to reject the deal. The Communications Workers of America, a union representing about 5,000 workers between the two companies, also said the proposed deal raises concerns about jobs, competition and consumer costs. “The two companies have a high bar to meet to demonstrate that the merger would be in the public interest,” the group said.

Apartment Listing Startup RentHop Opens Up Nationwide – RentHop, which launched in 2009 and has spent the last several years refining its marketplace for apartment rentals, is now moving beyond just that market and has opened up nationwide. In doing so, it will (hopefully) make apartment hunting more bearable to people outside of New York City.

Verizon jumps into wireless discount fight with ‘More Everything’ – Designed to be a single data plan across both tablets and smartphones, More Everything will offer users the ability to integrate smartphones through the Edge service plan and receive discounts on their monthly charges. The data plans, which range from 250MB to 100GB, will include a 25GB cloud storage account as well. Additionally, users will have the option to opt in for security services and international long distance coverage for an additional five-dollar fee.

Games and Entertainment:

Free Xbox Live Gold weekend for Xbox 360 starts Friday in U.S and Canada – Microsoft has announced that U.S. and Canada residents will be able to access Xbox Live Gold services for free this weekend, starting on Friday, for the Xbox 360 console.

Titanfall Beta codes: How to get a code and sign up – Gamers have been eagerly awaiting the much-touted and often-teased Titanfall, a sleek offering from Respawn Entertainment. A beta version of the game, Titanfall Beta, has been dangled before gamers’ eyes as a sort of limited-time carrot on a stick, something that is both a wonderful way to drum up anticipation and a terrible tease for those wanting to get in. We’ve got the low-down for you on how to get your hands on one of the Titanfall Beta codes, as well as how to sign up.

Agent 47 Coming to Mobile with Turn-based Strategy Game Hitman GO – The Hitman games have always been big on detail-oriented missions with disguises, stealth, and (of course) assassinations. Square Enix Montreal has just announced Hitman’s debut on mobile devices, and it’s probably not what you would expect. Rather than try to cram the complexity and depth of Hitman into a phone or tablet, Hitman GO will be a turn-based strategy game.

The LEGO Movie Review – I took my 3-year-old daughter to The LEGO Movie this week and she sat through the entire 100-minute film in quiet reverence. End of review. I’m an adult male who grew up with LEGO and, with my daughter, continue to play with and enjoy the creative building toy today – and I was entertained by the movie from start to finish. My daughter and I are two of the types of audience members the creators of this movie appear to have aimed for directly.

‘Angry Birds Stella’ Coming This Fall – Rovio, maker of the original avian-themed hit Angry Birds, is gearing up to release an all new mobile game this fall. Dubbed Angry Birds Stella, the game will feature a new lineup of Angry Birds characters, including a pretty pink-feathered protagonist and her friends, the Finnish developer announced on Thursday.

PlayStation 4 beats out Xbox One as the best-selling console – New data shows that Sony’s console sales were nearly double those of Microsoft in January. Meanwhile, video games sales fell compared with the same time last year.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Magic Pillow Nudges You Awake When You Snore – My wife claims I snore when I drink at least three beers (or a bowl of bourbon) before I hit the pillow, but I’ve never heard myself snore, so I can only assume it’s not true. For those of you who do snore, this $150 pillow has a built-in microphone that can hear you snoring, at which point a built-in air bladder inflates to levitate your head enough to get you to quiet back down.

Watch a wild crow tackle a complex eight-step puzzle – A BBC Two program about animal intelligence has once again demonstrated the incredible power of the corvid mind. The test below is the most difficult crow test devised to date. It consists of eight distinct steps that the bird, nicknamed 007, has to complete in a specific order to get to the food, collecting tools from difficult-to-reach locations, and using them in a variety of ways to finally get to the piece of meat. 007 is familiar with each of the items, but has never before had to put them together and use them in this way.

New shoe detects land mines, warns wearer through a wristband – Protecting people who live in an area where there are land mines involves a lot of work to locate and deactivate them, but offers no guarantee all the land mines will be found. So, an industrial design outfit in Colombia called Lemur Studio took up the challenge to come up with a solution. What they created is a landmine detection system that fits inside a shoe.

Train, fly, and fight with the Tuskegee Airmen – During a time when segregation was the way of life, the Civil Aeronautics Authority’s secondary training program was established at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala., in 1940 as a way to funnel new recruits into the military in preparation for the impending World War II. By the end of the year, the War Department had securely established the program as a stepping-stone into the Army Air Force’s basic flight course, and a few months later, in February 1941, the program was officially expanded and the Tuskegee Institute was offered a contract to train African-American pilots, making it the center for African-American aviation during World War II.

Geek’s guide to subverting Valentine’s Day – Mushy love e-mails. Giant boxes of chocolates. Teddy bears holding red satin hearts. Valentine’s Day can be enough to make any self-respecting geek run screaming from society. It’s OK to say “no.” You don’t have to participate in the schlocky madness. Take some suggestions from our handy guide to geeky ways to avoid dealing with the dreaded V-Day.

Something to think about:

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.”

–     Albert Camus

Today’s Free Downloads:

AdvancedWinServiceManager – Advanced Win Service Manager is the specialized software for smarter analysis of Windows Services. It offers many powerful and unique features which sets it apart from built-in Service Management Console as well as other similar software. Some of the classic features include Detection of Malicious/Rootkit Services, Automatic Threat Analysis, Service Filter mechanism, Integrated Online Virus/Malware Scan, Color based Threat Representation, HTML/XML based Service Report etc.

SiteLinkChecker – Site Link Checker will search your site, testing each link it finds and report the status of each link. Broken links hurt your professional image and can keep search engine spiders from indexing your whole site. All the mentioned features are provided with a user friendly graphical interface.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA snooping: MEPs table proposals to protect EU citizens’ privacy – The European Parliament should withhold its consent to an EU-US trade deal unless it fully respects EU citizens’ data privacy, says an inquiry report on NSA and EU member states surveillance of EU citizens, approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. It adds that data protection rules should be excluded from the trade talks and negotiated separately with the US. The text, passed by 33 votes to 7 with 17 abstentions, condemns the “vast, systemic, blanket collection of personal data of innocent people, often comprising intimate personal information”, adding that “the fight against terrorism can never be a justification for untargeted, secret or even illegal mass surveillance programmes”.

The Day We Fight Back Generates Nearly 100K Calls To Congress – The returns are in for “The Day We Fight Back,” a nationwide rally against unfettered government spying that saw citizens, officials, activist groups, and companies take to the Internet and the streets on Tuesday to demand new limits to snooping on digital communications. In addition to a “Day We Fight Back” banner that was splashed across the homepages of sites like Google, Twitter, Tumblr, Mozilla, ThoughtWorks, Imgur, and Reddit on Feb. 11, nearly 100,000 phone calls were made by concerned citizens to their Congressional representatives, according to a spokesperson for The day’s activities included some 96,000 calls made to members of Congress, with about 89,000 completed to either a live person or voice mail, according to Christina DiPasquale. Some 555,000 pro-privacy emails were also sent by about 185,000 people who registered to send one on the website.

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man – There are two big mysteries at the heart of the Edward Snowden story. First, why did he do it? That is, why did he do it: here was a relatively nondescript, unassuming twentysomething, with no apparent political backing, popping up out of nowhere to take on the world’s most powerful security organisation. By incurring the wrath of the US government Snowden knew he was risking a lifetime in jail. Even the journalists who worked closely with him were confounded by his bravado, or naivety, or perhaps both. Second, how did he do it?


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 13, 2014

Rand Paul launches class-action lawsuit to end NSA phone spying;  How to protect your PC in the web’s worst neighborhoods;  Crowdsourced phone book stamps out spam calls;  Set up your Android phone for one-handed use;  Online dating tip: Skip the selfies, guys;  Looking online for love? Swab your cheek;  10 industries 3D printing will disrupt or decimate;  Stay in the know with these five essential news apps;  10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+.

So much for ‘fighting back’ against NSA surveillance. You can blame Silicon Valley for that – Tens of millions protested the Iraq invasion across dozens of countries in 2003, and we still went to war. An online protest saw 75,000 websites blacked out for a day in 2012, which led to the shelving of draft censorship laws. You can blame corporate America’s apathy for this next one.

How to protect your PC in the web’s worst neighborhoods – Your data. Your wallet. Your identity. In the darker corners of the internet, it’s all fair game, and disaster could be one unwitting click away. Protect yourself by learning about the web’s most common dangers, and how to avoid them. Also, take some basic steps to make your PC more resistant to harm.

Crowdsourced phone book stamps out spam calls – Startup Truecaller’s app uses the power of crowds to identify spam callers and block them from contacting you on your mobile phone. The app is like an old school white pages and caller ID, but has been totally reborn for the mobile — social era. Users can take advantage of search and discovery features to identify spam calls.

Americans Are Hungry for Digital Content – According to Nielsen, Americans now own four digital devices, on average, and spend roughly 60 hours per week consuming content across multiple screens.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Slack exits beta with its tool for information overload – With information besieging users from all sides and ending up archived—or not—in email, cloud storage or simply lurking in social media streams, keeping everything organized can be a chore. A service now out of beta from the co-founder of Flickr claims to have a better way. Slack is designed to take all those emails and files—and other content from Twitter, Dropbox and elsewhere—plunk them into its own platform, and make it all easily searchable.


Set up your Android phone for one-handed use in three easy steps – Most mobile users are on the go and sometimes having both hands free isn’t always an option. Unfortunately, the default Android UI doesn’t always make it easy to operate your phone with one hand. Luckily, you can change that. By in installing a pair of apps and making a few configuration changes, you can set up your Android device for easy, one-handed use.

Make friends in-flight on Virgin America’s new social network – Virgin is using Here On Biz, an iOS app that finds business colleagues near you, to help travelers find LinkedIn connections who are on the same flight, or even in the same airport. Instead of striking up a conversation with your seatmates to find out if you’re all heading to the same conference, you can get straight to work by opening the app and start networking before you even land. The app also finds connections on other Virgin flights.

Chromebooks to get VMware virtual desktop service – VMware will offer virtual desktop services for Google’s Chromebooks, allowing them to run Windows applications on the pared-down laptops based on the Chrome OS. Organizations could save as much as $5,000 per computer by using a combination of Chromebooks and VMware managed services, Google has estimated. VMware desktop virtualization could also provide organizations an easy way to migrate from Windows XP, which Microsoft will stop supporting in April.

Stay in the know with these five essential news apps Many of us don’t have the time to sit down at a desktop and scour the Internet for news. What we do have time for, however, is catching up with our smartphones and tablets. If you’re lucky enough to be on the Android platform, there are plenty of apps that aggregate news and serve them up with an easy-to-use interface. But which ones? There are quite a lot of news aggregators available. I’ve gone through a good amount of them and found the ones that do the best job of collecting the most relevant news with the friendliest user interface. Here they are.

Shazam gets a new look and useful feature updates – The Shazam app is still a great way to identify an unknown song quickly, and with a new look and more ways to interact with tags, it remains one of the best for entertainment identification and discovery.

Online dating tip: Skip the selfies, guys – What does it take to get someone to notice your online dating profile? Zoosk CEO Shayan Zadeh explains what attracts more clicks for both sexes.

Looking online for love? Swab your cheek – Dating sites are getting more personalized to help you find “the one.” There’s even a DNA test kit to help determine if a suitor is a genetically compatible match. CNET’s Kara Tsuboi tells us about the new trends for dating sites and apps, and how to create an online profile to maximize your chances for getting that first date.

Love me, Tinder: The app that keeps Olympians sane – If you believe US snowboarder Jamie Anderson, the chosen app of all those fit, young Olympic performers is hookup joy Tinder.

10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+ – Google+ offers a more focused, serious take on social networking — and it can give your business a significant boost if you use it the right way.

8 iPad apps that are complex, powerful and advanced – The iPad isn’t known as a high-end computing device, but these apps prove otherwise. Here’s a look at eight robust apps with uses as varied as home security, computer-assisted design and stock trading.

30 iPhone and iPad tips and tricks to make you faster and more efficientHere are a list of tip and tricks that will help you be more productive when using your iPad and iPhone, whether you use it for work or play. ( Here are?)

Surface Tablets Used at Work More Than iPads – Microsoft thinks its Surface devices are better for work activities than the iPad and Android alternatives, but does corporate America agree? Based on North American usage data, the answer is yes – Surface tablets are actually being used in work settings more than competing gadgets, according to new data from advertising and Web analytics firm Chitika.

Microsoft releases NewsPad blogging tool as open source – Microsoft Research’s Fuse Labs has released NewsPad, a blogging tool for people who wish to collaborate on writing news posts in real time, as an open source project.

Facebook crowdsourcing gives lonely boy 1.4 million friends – For a surprise birthday gift, a Michigan mom creates a Facebook page to show her son — who has Asperger syndrome — that he can have friends all over the world.


Have a Linksys router? Now’s a good time to update that firmware – Owners and administrators of Linksys home routers are being advised to update and secure their devices following reports of active attacks on a flaw present in at least two models. Researchers with the SANS Institutes Internet Storm Center have received reports of mass attacks on a remote access vulnerability in the Linksys E1000 and E1200. The reports, which were noted by an ISP administrator in Wyoming, claim that some customers running the Linksys routers have had their networks compromised.

Android Gamers: Don’t Fall For Flappy Bird Malware! – This past week, the simple yet challenging game Flappy Bird surprised the world by first becoming insanely popular and then being pulled by its developer. Not surprisingly, attackers have taken notice of the demand for flapping birds and have created their own malicious apps based on the game.

Another Snapchat hack sees users spammed with mysterious photos of smoothies – Many users of the photo-sharing app Snapchat have reported that they are being sent spam messages of photos of smoothies with links that redirect to a recipe for a smoothie on

Email Attack on Vendor Set Up Breach at Target – The breach at Target Corp. that exposed credit card and personal data on more than 110 million consumers appears to have begun with a malware-laced email phishing attack sent to employees at an HVAC firm that did business with the nationwide retailer, according to sources close to the investigation. There is no question that, like Target, Fazio Mechanical was the victim of cybercrime. But investigators close to the case took issue with Fazio’s claim that it was in full compliance with industry practices, and offered another explanation of why it took the Fazio so long to detect the email malware infection: The company’s primary method of detecting malicious software on its internal systems was the free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Adobe patches two critical vulnerabilities in Shockwave Player – The Shockwave Player update comes one week after Adobe broke out of its regular patching cycle to release an emergency update for Flash Player that addressed an actively exploited vulnerability. Unlike the Flash Player flaw, there are no reports that the Shockwave Player vulnerabilities are being exploited in attacks.

Company News:

Comcast Makes Bid To Acquire Time Warner Cable For $45 Billion – The Time Warner Cable sweepstakes might be over. Just a few months after it was first reported that the second-largest cable firm in the nation was looking to be acquired, Comcast, the number one cable provider, has made an offer of $45.2 billion for the company. According to multiple reports, the deal is set to be officially announced Thursday, with Comcast offering $158.82 per share in an all-stock deal.

Verizon will reportedly unveil ‘More Everything’ plan Thursday – New plan to offer more data at no extra cost, doubled bandwidth, 25GB of cloud storage, and unlimited international messaging, according to a DroidLife report.

NVIDIA surprises with strong Q4 thanks to desktop GPU jump – NVIDIA saw better than expected quarterly revenue in Q4 2013, the company has announced today, reaching $1.14bn amid strong sales of GeForce GTX video cards, and predicting another solid quarter as it renews its push into mobile. Revenue was up 9-percent versus Q3 2013, NVIDIA said, and up 3-percent year-on-year, though net income fell as gross margin and operating expenses climbed.

Microsoft allegedly considering Android apps on Windows, Windows Phone – According to a report by The Verge, Microsoft executives are having a heated debate as to whether allowing Android apps on its operating systems would be beneficial. The report states that “some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, while others believe it could lead to the death of the Windows platform altogether.” Almost no additional information is given on Microsoft’s alleged Android consideration, however, likely indicating that such talks are preliminary at best.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Best Gaming Keyboards – When your keyboard doubles as your game controller, it’s more than just a tool for typing. It is to the gamer what the katana is to a samurai (or cyborg ninja). It becomes more than a typing tool—the keyboard becomes a weapon, an extension of yourself, your interface with the digital world. For anyone that cares about PC gaming, it pays to know what makes a keyboard great, what differentiates one from another, and what’s on the market today.

Titanfall preview: Frenetic robot-on-robot violence – Now open for beta test signups, surprisingly smart Titanfall is more than a Call of Duty clone.

Amateur Surgeon 3 Lands on Android, Still Requires No Medical Training – The newly arrived Android game Amateur Surgeon 3 requires steady hands and quick thinking, but virtual lives depend on you! This game is arriving in Google Play after a stupendously popular run on iOS. The first two games fell flat on Android thanks to poor design and touchscreen implementation, but maybe third time’s the charm.

Microsoft to finally ship Xbox One headset adapter in early March – Microsoft will finally ship the promised headset adapter for the Xbox One sometime in early March for $24.99, allowing some older headsets to work with the company’s newest console.

Xbox One Media Remote gets outed on Amazon – Microsoft’s ‘all-in-one’ entertainment centre looks set to get a traditional remote control option, with the discovery on Amazon of a listing for the ‘Xbox One Media Remote’, expected next month.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Keen On… The Hippies: How The Counterculture Ruined The Internet – As the author of two important books, From Counterculture to Cyberculture and the recently released The Democratic Sound, Turner has spent much of his academic life studying the intellectual history of the Internet. And Turner isn’t happy with what he’s found. Hippies like Stewart Brand, Steve Jobs and Kevin Kelly created the idea of the Internet in their own image, he says. It reflects their dream of “living on the edge” and escaping the rules of society. The problem, Turner says, is that the hippie ideal of escaping authority and doing one’s own thing has spawned companies like Google and Facebook that are indifferent to everything around them.

EEG cap lets you wirelessly control a quadcopter with your mind – The University of Minnesota working with the National Science Foundation has decided to use quadcopters to help perfect a thought-controlled system. That’s right, a research team has managed to create a system where you control the movement of a quadcopter just by thinking about where you want it to go. The point of the research is to create a useful interface for people who suffer with disabilities that limit movement or paralysis. When combined with the correct equipment it could allow them to carry out everyday activities that would otherwise be impossible without the aid of a caregiver.

Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS – To be fair, some of its failures have been truly glorious. The oft-criticised Power Mac G4 Cube may have been overpriced and underpowered, but it was a marvel of engineering that remains unmatched by most desktop PC designs to this day. But there have also been disasters, many of them entirely self-inflicted. The “Antennagate” episode from 2010 was the most recent example of this, but there have been many others, such as the rash of failures among early Time Capsule devices that led Apple to simply wash its hands of them as soon as they were out of warranty.

Toyota recalls 1.9 million Prius to perform a 40 minute software update – In this day and age of everything being connected, we expect software problems to be solved with a patch that we receive over the Internet. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota seems to have forgotten that was an option when designing the Prius hybrid, as it is now having to do an expensive and time consuming recall of some 1.9 million cars.

Steve Jobs’ time capsule — a closer look – “Diggers” found the time capsule containing Jobs’ mouse that International Design Conference organizers buried, and lost, in Aspen, Colo., in 1983. CNET has video from the excavation.

Steve Jobs’ Lisa mouse, which was hidden inside a time capsule, buried and lost in Aspen, Colo., for 30 years.

(Credit: Mike Durkin)

Smartphones, smart TVs, and now… smart diapers? – Researchers at the University of Tokyo make a super-thin sensor that can go inside diapers to alert caretakers when it’s time for a change.

10 industries 3D printing will disrupt or decimate – As it evolves, 3D printing technology is destined to transform almost every major industry and change the way we live, work, and play in the future.

Something to think about:

I think the world is run by ‘C’ students.”

–      Al McGuire

Today’s Free Downloads:

Chrome Password Decrypter – Chrome Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover all stored passwords from Google Chrome browser. It will automatically detect the default Chrome profile path for the current user and displays all the stored login passwords in clear text after decrypting them. It also shows all the blacklisted website entries for which user has prompted Chrome to not to remember the passwords.

Chrome Remote Desktop – Chrome Remote Desktop allows users to remotely access another computer through Google Chrome or a Chromebook. Computers can be made available on an short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files. All connections are fully secured.

Microsoft Garage Mouse Without Borders – Mouse without Borders is a product that makes you the captain of your computer fleet by allowing you to control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard. This means that with Mouse without Borders you can copy text or drag and drop files across computers. Mouse Without Borders was designed for people who use many computers in the same room. For example, a laptop or tablet that you take to meetings might sit right alongside the desktop PC in your office.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Rand Paul launches class-action lawsuit to end NSA phone spying – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has filed a lawsuit against President Obama and three top national security officials, seeking an end to what the suit describes as the US government’s “mass, suspicionless, non-particularized” collection of data on US residents’ phone calls. “The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants,” Paul said in a statement – a reference to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which explicitly forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures.” In addition to President Obama, the suit names Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and FBI director James Comey, Jr. as codefendants.

White House Unveils Cybersecurity Plan For Big Firms, Looks To Silicon Valley Next – The Obama administration unveiled Wednesday a long-awaited plan for bolstering the cybersecurity of critical-infrastructure providers — including big information technology and communications companies — and is gearing up to try to enlist smaller Silicon Valley shops in its battle against hackers. Top officials at the White House presented the so-called Cybersecurity Framework, a 39-page plan for the federal government and critical-infrastructure providers (both private and public) to share more data with each other about cyber threats. It was spurred by an executive order that President Obama signed in February 2013 calling for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and private firms to craft a voluntary framework for thwarting cyber attacks from nefarious hackers and nation states. The new framework “provides, for lack of a better phrase, a common language to discuss cybersecurity,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said in an afternoon presentation.

What tear gas taught me about Twitter and the NSA: It’s time to rethink our nightmares about surveillance – Snowden didn’t just reveal specifics of what the NSA is doing—he also exposed an alliance of surveillance made up of governments and Internet corporations. This alliance can monitor almost every click, and often does. (In fact, non-clicks are also scrutinized: Facebook tracks status updates that people start and then delete, so as to better understand why they decide not to post.) These clicks are increasingly linked to records of our offline lives. Commercial voter databases boast of knowing the IP, or Internet protocol, address of almost all U.S. voters. They can take data associated with this address and connect it with voting records, finances, purchases, criminal records, salary records, and other information.

Snowden pilfered coworker’s password to access data – Edward Snowden’s breach of NSA data prompted a sweeping internal investigation into how he managed to pull off his mission. According to an agency memo acquired by the folks at NBC News, Snowden managed to access some of the data in part by stealing one of his coworker’s passwords. That coworker has since been stripped of his security clearance and has resigned.

Australian attorney-general ’embarrassing and borderline hysterical’ on Snowden – Australian Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has refused to back down from remarks where he labelled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a traitor who has put Australian lives at risk.


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