Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 3, 2014

NSA, GCHQ, accused of hacking Belgian smartcard crypto guru;  How to sync your Windows desktop to the cloud;  Want $10 off your mobile bill? Put ads on your lock screen;  Five steps for a better-looking TV;  Get the handwriting feature in Evernote for Android;  iPhone catches fire, teen girl burned;  Watch out: your emails may reveal text hidden in Microsoft Word;  Bigger, better, faster: LibreOffice 4.2;  How to Find Your Wallet, Keys and Smartphone;  So you want to be a coder! These tools can get you there;  When a computer scammer tries to open my windows, porn saves the day.

Missed Call From A Mystery Number? Be Careful – The scam, simplified: They call you, but immediately hang up. You see a missed call. You call back. They charge you for the call, and for each minute they can keep you on the line. According to the BBB, this so-called “One Ring” scam is on the rise.

Watch out: your emails may reveal text hidden in Microsoft Word – If you paste text from Microsoft Word into an email, you may not see what the recipient will see, and this includes hidden text. Microsoft ought to fix this in Until it does, the solution is ‘Inspect Document’, which also lets you remove hidden personal information.

How to emulate Android on your PC – Genymotion is a hardware-accelerated Android emulator that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. It’s designed to let you play with Android on top-selling devices, which makes it a good choice for developers.

Want $10 off your mobile bill? Put ads on your lock screen – Slidejoy turns your Android phone’s lock screen into a billboard, and some of the money that the likes of Macy’s and Adidas pay to place the ads ends up in your pocket.

Five steps for a better-looking TV – TV factory settings are generally designed to look good in bright, fluorescent retail stores — not your living room. To get the best TV picture, you’ll need to make some adjustments. This guide begins with some of the simpler (but impactful) settings — like disabling unnecessary features and adjusting basic options — before diving into some of the more in-depth calibration techniques. Give it a whirl; if you make it through the fifth step, you’re sure to have a better-looking TV.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iPhone catches fire, teen girl burned – An eighth-grader in Maine is sitting in class when she hears a pop. Then she notices smoke coming from her back pocket.

How to sync your Windows desktop to the cloud – If you talk to five PC users you’ll probably find six different ways to use the Windows desktop. On the one end are people like me, who prefer to have nothing cluttering up their primary workspace. On the other are people who turn their desktop into a dumping ground for webpage links, files in progress, to-do lists, and program shortcuts. Today’s tip is for the dumpers.

Get the handwriting feature in Evernote for Android – If you’ve finally pinned down the best way to use Evernote (as in tagging, categorizing, etc.) to meet your needs, forget it. Evernote just added another tool for note-taking to their beta version: handwriting input. To get access to the new feature, you’ll need to join their beta tester group. This is relatively easy, but requires asking to join the Evernote beta Google+ community, and then agreeing to become a beta tester.

Bigger, better, faster: LibreOffice 4.2 – LibreOffice is the leading open-source alternative to Microsoft Office and it’s looking better than ever in its latest version: LibreOffice 4.2. The Document Foundation’s newest release of LibreOffice 4.2 targets early adopters. It comes with many new performance and interoperability improvements for users of all kinds. Specifically, this update is designed to appeal to Windows power and enterprise users.

Every new car in Europe may be fitted with a police-controlled kill switch – A device that is designed to cut the fuel supply and disable the ignition to the vehicle by remote, which is controlled remotely by a police officer in front of a bank of monitors somewhere, is the basic concept that has been created so far for this would-be standard. There’s no mention of controlling the brakes or controlling the vehicle’s ability to drive, so in theory the vehicle would just coast to a stop and whoever was inside would either be captured or try and run away. It’s a six year plan that the EU hopes will result in a thorough plan that could be easily implemented by auto makers. (What kind of fool would allow the police this type of control. Just another pseudo solution looking for a problem!)

Is our technology making us autistic? – It seems likely that our technologies are encouraging autistic types of behaviors. We even see it in how tech companies try to use “Big Data” to understand social behavior by customers and communities when empathy is pretty much all you need. It provides insights that data analysis won’t reveal. Lack of empathy towards others is a sign of autism.

How to Find Your Wallet, Keys and Smartphone Here are our favorite devices for finding all the lost things in our daily lives.

How to install SteamOS on your computer – A beta version of Valve’s gaming operating system is now available for download. Here’s how you can transform your current computer into a Steam Machine.

Microsoft: Leak hints Microsoft will recant Windows 8’s Metro strategy – Microsoft will renounce its “make-them-eat-Metro” strategy in an update for Windows 8.1 slated to ship this spring, if leaked preliminary builds reflect the final product.

Bitcoin accepted as valid currency by Australian lawyers – The legal fraternity has made it first foray into the use of Bitcoins as payments for services rendered.

Mozilla adopts plain-vanilla password sign-in for Firefox sync – The open-source browser today uses a complicated method to let people sync bookmarks, tabs, and other settings. Now Mozilla is trying a more ordinary username-password approach.

What headphone buyers need to know, Part 1 – On-ear vs. over-the-ear headphones, what’s the difference?

What headphone buyers need to know, Part 2 – Open- vs. closed-back headphones, what’s the difference?

So you want to be a coder! These tools can get you there – Coding is powerful magic, and learning to code is like reading a pile of moldy spellbooks while grinding alchemical ingredients into fine powders—at least, it used to be. But new, interactive learning tools put the exercises front and center, promoting you from apprentice to sorcerer at your own pace. Some make you prove that you understand a lesson before letting you move forward, resulting in a more engaging learning experience—and ideally, greater understanding. Not all are for beginners: Experienced coders sometimes need to pick up a new language, too. But they’re all available on the Web, and most are free.


What a fake antivirus attack on a trusted website looks like – Video shows how drive-by attacks turn healthy paranoia against their victims – A recently captured video of one of these attacks in progress demonstrates why they continue to work—at least on less-experienced users who despite their lack of savvy know enough to be wary of online attacks.

The moral of the Twitter-GoDaddy breach: People are the easiest thing to hack – Of all the lessons to be learned from the hacking of Naoki Hiroshima and the loss of his coveted @N Twitter handle, the most troubling is the one which will ultimately be the most difficult to solve. In online security, weak passwords and poor encryption standards may be part of the problem, but the biggest problem of all remains ourselves.

Yahoo Mail hack teaches a valuable lesson – Yahoo Mail was hacked. Details are sketchy in terms of just how many Yahoo Mail accounts have been compromised. Yahoo suggests that the attackers most likely gained access to the data through a third-party database outside of Yahoo control. Regardless of how the compromise occurred, there is a lesson to be learned here…again.

Data Breaches Hit All Time High In 2013 – According to the Online Trust Alliance (OTA)’s latest report, these companies should’ve had better security controls and practices in place. OTA’s findings included a number of noteworthy statistics. The non-profit estimated that over 740 million records were exposed in 2013 alone, making it the worst year for data breaches to date. Out of all these attacks, a whopping 89 percent could have been prevented if companies had simply employed basic, effective security measures.

Chrome fights back against settings hijackers – Google is taking aggressive steps to combat what it says is the No. 1 complaint in its Chrome browser: having your settings hijacked. Now, Chrome will ask Windows users automatically via a pop-up if you want to reset your settings when it detects that they might’ve been changed without your permission. It will disable all extensions, themes, and Chrome Apps you have installed. It won’t uninstall them, so you can still go back and manually reactivate them one at a time if you want.

(Credit: Google)

Company News:

AVG has shut down its remote access service Crossloop – AVG shuttered the service last Friday. Users aren’t happy because AVG seems to have offered no notice whatsoever: a document.lastModified query on the service’s home page produces a date of January 31st, the same day the letter now resident on that page is dated.

Toshiba will honor warranties for high-end OCZ SSDs, not much else – As of this writing, Toshiba is planning on honoring the full warranties for most of OCZ’s high-end drives: the entire Vertex series of SSDs, most RevoDrives, and Vector-branded drives all fall under this umbrella. The midrange Agility drives will be supported for approximately a year, and support for them will end on January 22, 2015—most of these products were sold with three-year warranties originally, so recent buyers won’t lose their warranties entirely but will see them shortened.

Report: Chatter about Nadella’s appointment as Microsoft CEO grows louder – Satya Nadella has been offered the Microsoft CEO job and is currently negotiating a contract with the company’s board, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s article, posted Friday afternoon and based on information from an anonymous source, follows a Bloomberg report from Thursday evening—also based on anonymously sourced information—where it was first reported that Nadella had been picked to succeed Steve Ballmer after a five-month search process.

Pebble appstore to debut Monday February 3 – Pebble will launch its appstore on Monday, February 3rd, the smartwatch company has announced today. The download store, which we tried in beta with the new Pebble Steel, will go live at 10AM PT, and give Pebble’s growing developer community a centralized place to offer their apps and their custom watchfaces.

Games and Entertainment:

Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news – This week we’ve got a bit of everything, from the winner of this year’s Super Bowl-predicting Madden Bowl, to a new Everquest game, to an amazing space battle that caused the equivalent of $300,000-plus in sheer carnage. And did I mention a free Legend of Zelda game?

The Room Two review: Even better than the award-winning original – The Room Two is the hotly anticipated sequel to one of the most celebrated puzzle games on iOS, and after playing through a few levels, I can tell you it raises the bar that was already set high with the original game. This made-for-touch-screen puzzle adventure includes incredible graphics, a mysterious storyline, eerie atmospheric sound effects, and complex puzzles that will have you pulling out your hair trying to figuring out your next move.

Report: Microsoft Prepping $399 Xbox One Without Blu-ray – Microsoft is rumored to be preparing an Xbox One without a Blu-ray drive that could be sold for $399 at retail. That would knock $100 off the current Xbox One price of $499 and bring it in line with the $399 rival Sony charges for its PlayStation 4.

Developer Behind “Flappy Bird,” The Impossible Game Blowing Up The App Store, Says He Just Got Lucky – Flappy Bird, a game you can barely play for more than a few seconds without throwing your phone across the room in frustration, is dominating the App Store and Google Play. Its deceptively simple appearance with graphics that harken back to the era of 8-bit gaming, is actually one of the hardest games you’ll ever play. And yet the gameplay involves nothing more than tapping your screen to keep a flying bird from running into green pipes that look like they’ve been snatched out of Super Mario Bros. Yes, that’s the extent of it. There’s no other challenge or story.

Off Topic (Sort of):

GoldieBlox’s Super Bowl Ad Is A Counterbalance To Rampant Sexism – It’s extremely unusual for such a small company to advertise during the Super Bowl, but what makes GoldieBlox’s spot, which features a hoard of little girls turning their boring pink toys into a rocket and launching it into space, especially interesting is that it serves as an antidote to the outrageous sexism constantly on display in each Super Bowl’s commercials.

When a computer scammer tries to open my windows, porn saves the day – Australian drunkenness aside, it can be great sport to baffle an erstwhile hacker with stupidity. (A hilarious encounter with a tech support scammer recommended by Mal C.)

Slow-motion video reveals the fascinating process of a match igniting at 4000 fps – A match ignites in a fraction of a second, but there is a cool chemical process going on that produces the flames. A video from from UltraSlo shows in excruciating detail what that reaction looks like up close at an incredible 4,000 frames per second. The process depicted in this extreme macro shot is very different than what you’d expect from looking at a match with your inferior human eyes.

Devs: We’ll bury Candy Crush King under HEAPS of candy apps – Independent game-makers are hoping to inundate Apple’s App Store with “candy” games in a demonstration against Candy Crush Saga-maker King for its trademark of the word CANDY. The “Candy Jam” says it is mounting the protest against King “because trademarking common words is ridiculous, because ethics matter and because it gives us an occasion to make another game jam”, according to its website. The jam has had 113 games submitted so far, with titles like Super Candy Handy Mandy Saga and The Candy Apple Crusher Saga.

10 magnificent mechanized manufacturing GIFs – Precision machinery has taken over much of the repetitive work that human beings did just a few decades ago. Motors, roller, robotic arms and more combine in an intricate dance in factories all over the world to build the things we use every day. Some parts of these process are absolutely engrossing — you could just watch these heavy industrial machines do their thing all day. Luckily, GIFs repeat every few seconds, so you can.

Army, Lockheed Test Driverless Military Convoy – The Army and defense contractor Lockheed Martin this week announced a successful test of fully autonomous convoys with various vehicles. The test, which took place earlier this month at Ford Hood, Texas, was part of the Army and Marine Corps’ so-called Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program.

Which tech companies scored on Super Bowl Sunday? – Intuit, Microsoft, Beats Electronics, and more bought up air time during Sunday’s Super Bowl. But which ads made it to the end zone and which ones fumbled?

White House to rule soon on petition to deport Justin Bieber – An online petition that secured 220,000 signatures has forced the US government to consider the fate of the Canadian pop star. The White House’s press secretary says it is being mulled.

Something to think about:

“Human rights violations? There is no such thing: there is only the security of the state, and those who would undermine that security.”

–      Dr. Clement Molloch in the movie The Evil That Men Do.

Today’s Free Downloads:

ReminderFox – ReminderFox makes sure you remember all of your important dates via easy-to-use lists, alerts, and alarms, right in your browser without the need for a separate calendar program.

Hola – Install Hola on your PC, phone or tablet to make your Internet faster, save data costs, and view sites that are otherwise censored in your country. Bypass Internet censorship. Speed up your web browsing. Save on bandwidth costs. Improve your privacy online.

The Godfather 0.87 – Do you own mp3 files ? How about ogg, mpc, ape, flac, aac, apl, wv, mp4, ofr, or spx files ? Do you have a lot of them ? If yes, then you probably already know that it is easier to create a chaotic budge of files with strange names and in wrong locations than to have a clean and nice collection where every file is where it is supposed to be, with a perfect name and Tag information. Sounds like the truth… don’t worry The GodFather is here to put order to chaos and put you in control.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA, GCHQ, accused of hacking Belgian smartcard crypto guru – Professor Jean-Jacques Quisquater, a Belgian cryptographer whose work is said to have informed card payment systems worldwide, has reportedly become the victim of a spear-phishing attack by the NSA and/or GCHQ. Belgium’s De Standaaard reports that Professor Quisquater clicked on a fake LinkedIn invitation that infected his computer with something even nastier than the endless claims of industry leadership spouted by those most active on that network. The malware is said to have allowed tracking of the Professor’s work, including consultancy for various firms.

How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower – He was politically conservative, a gun owner, a geek – and the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. In this exclusive extract from his new book, Luke Harding looks at Edward Snowden’s journey from patriot to America’s most wanted. (recommended by Aseem S.)

Microsoft to build ‘transparency centres’ for source code checks – Microsoft has announced it will establish a set of “transparency centres” around the world, at which government clients can rifle through its source code to satisfy themselves it contains no back doors. Announced last week at the Munich Security Conference, Microsoft’s veep for security Matt Thomlinson said the centres “…will offer government customers an increased ability to review our source code” and advance “our long-standing program that provides government customers with the ability to review our source code, reassure themselves of its integrity and confirm there are no back doors.”

Is Edward Snowden a prisoner in Russia? – In the second exclusive extract from his new book, The Snowden Files, Luke Harding looks at the role of Russia’s shadowy intelligence agency, the FSB, in securing the whistleblower’s exile – and whether they have cracked his secret files. (recommended by Aseem S.)


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