Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 5, 2014

Adobe releases CRITICAL EMERGENCY UPDATE for Flash Player;  Big Brother isn’t Mark Zuckerberg. It’s YOU;  Too much Facebook can make you unfaithful;  How to Delete Your Facebook Account;  Most adults share intimate info via unsecured digital devices;  Three Windows features that help maximize your screen space;  Microsoft offering up to $250 for your old smartphone or tablet;   How many criminals have NSA’s phone records busted? Maybe one;  Buy Xbox Music, get a free Windows Phone;  Want to get KitKat early? Here are four ROMs to try;  Kids On Games – Are Games Bad For You?

Adobe releases CRITICAL EMERGENCY UPDATE for Flash Player – Adobe released an update for Flash Player to fix a critical remote code execution vulnerability that is actively being targeted by attackers. The vulnerability could allow an attacker to remotely take control of an affected system, Adobe said in a security advisory published Tuesday. The vulnerability is identified as CVE-2014-0497 on the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures list and is classified as an integer underflow. It can be exploited to execute arbitrary code on the system. “Adobe is aware of reports that an exploit for this vulnerability exists in the wild, and recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions.”

Microsoft’s new groove: Buy Xbox Music, get a free Windows Phone – Good news for anyone who’d be willing to trade in an old phone for a Windows Phone—and likes Xbox Music. Microsoft is currently running two deals: Under the first, customers can trade in an old, working, smartphone or tablet for up to $250 of credit at the Microsoft Store. And if that isn’t enough, you can spend $99.90 at that same store for a year’s subscription to Xbox Music—and get a free, unlocked Nokia 520 (AT&T) or 521 (T-Mobile) to boot. The second deal is worth $218.90 alone. So if you play your cards right, you can spend $99.90 and receive $468.90 worth of Microsoft-branded goods.

Three Windows multitasking features that help maximize your screen space – There’s an old saying that the more money you have, the more you want. That’s kind of how I feel about external monitors. I’ve got two, but man, three sure would be sweet. And four? Don’t get me started. But when you don’t have enough monitors in your life, you start learning how to maximize the space you do have. Here’s how to get the most out of your PC’s “desk space” using three features built into Windows.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft offering up to $250 for your old smartphone or tablet – Following the exchange offer for old PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, Microsoft has now announced that it would be giving up to $250 credit in exchange for old smartphones and tablets from their customers.

Must-try features in the latest Google Now – If you’re a fan of personal digital assistants, the Android platform has one you shouldn’t overlook. Google Now offers some fantastic “hands off” actions that allow you to easily interact with your device when your hands aren’t available to navigate the interface. In the latest iteration of Google Now (running on Android 4.4), there are a few new features that make Google Now even better — especially to business users who are prone to misplacing their phones. Let’s take a look at the newest features to hit Google Now and how they can make your daily life a bit easier.

Kids On Games – Are Games Bad For You? (video 6:35) – Real kids answer the question, “Are video games good or bad for people?”

Facebook turns 10: Big Brother isn’t Mark Zuckerberg. It’s YOU – Facebook turns 10 this month, which means a bombardment of anniversary pieces lauding the social network. This blabbergasm will stress how Facebook “changed everything” and speculate on how “unimaginable” life might be without Facebook. But Mark Zuckerberg’s greatest achievement isn’t financial or technical. Facebook has turned its users into networks of anxious spies.

Most adults share intimate info via unsecured digital devices – McAfee examined how more than 1,500 consumers are sharing and storing intimate data on their mobile devices, especially with current or former significant others. Sharing personal content such as suggestive texts, naked photos, suggestive video and passcodes on these devices can potentially lead to cyber-stalking and the exposure of private content leaking online. While 98% of respondents use their mobile device to take photos, 54% send or receive intimate content including video, photos, emails and messages. Of those surveyed, 69% are securing their smartphone with a password or passcode, a 30 percentage point increase from last year’s result. However, 46% of U.S. adults still share their passwords with another individual (down from 54%), while 42% use the same password across multiple devices, increasing the likelihood that these mobile devices will become hacked.

Too much Facebook can make you unfaithful – A study suggests that the human candy store that is Facebook can be too much for those of weak flesh.

Pew: Facebook Aged 10 Is Seeing Adult Usage “Intensifying”; 57% Of Adults Are Users, 64% Visit Daily – The Facebook has managed to retain category dominance despite growing into the grand old daddy of the digital social space. The research found that Facebook is used by 57% of all adults, and 73% of all those ages 12-17. Add to that, Pew found that adult Facebook usage is “intensifying”, with 64% of Facebook users visiting the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users in 2010. So far from (U.S.) users getting bored with Facebook, the service is apparently managing to get stickier still in its oldest stamping ground, the older it gets.

Five tips to help you get started with Facebook’s Paper app – The first time you launch the app a video will walk you through some of the basics of Paper. After the initial tutorial, when you navigate to a screen for the first time, the same voice and overlays found in the video will walk you through some component of the app. But the tutorial doesn’t cover everything, so here’s some tips to get you get started.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Delete Your Facebook Account – Search your feelings. You know you’ve thought about it.

Want to get KitKat early? Dodge the Android bloatware? Here are four ROMs to try – Most consumers just live with the version of Android that manufacturers ship with their device — and the updates they choose to deliver — but that doesn’t need to be so. Here’s a look at several alternative versions out there to pick from.

5 Annoying Tech Habits That Need to Stop – Technology has become a part of our everyday lives over the last 10 years. Seeing people running around with smartphones, tablets and laptops on a daily basis doesn’t even garner a second look as it did in the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, not everyone reviewed their copy of the Common Courtesy Rulebook that should have come with their beloved devices. Annoying habits have migrated from analog to digital and it’s time for a refresher on what not to do with your tech toys.

Meet the Asus Chromebox, a $179 fanless mini-desktop – Despite its desktop-shaped package, the Chromebox is the same on the inside as many recent Intel Chromebooks, including the Acer C720. The base model includes a 1.4GHz dual-core Celeron 2955U based on Intel’s Haswell architecture, integrated Intel graphics, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of solid-state storage, dual-band 802.11n with Bluetooth 4.0, and an SD card reader and Kensington lock slot. AnandTech reports that the Chromebox will also be available in higher-end variants with a 1.7GHz Core i3-4010U and a 2.1GHz (3.3GHz Turbo) Core i7-4600U and up to 4GB of RAM across its two DIMM slots. The Core i7 version apparently won’t be available on American shores, though.

CVS And Walgreens By Mail: PillPack Launches A Full-Service, Subscription-Based Online Pharmacy In 31 States – Essentially, the program allows customers to have their medications shipped two them every two weeks in a (yes, two-week) roll of individual packets that are organized by time and date — rather than using those standard, ubiquitous bright orange pill bottles. Beyond their prescriptions, customers can also sign up to receive any over-the-counter medications or vitamins that they happen to be taking on a regularly basis as part of each shipment.

Toshiba announces new network storage device for consumers – The Canvio Home is a single-bay NAS with a gigabit Ethernet interface and a USB 2.0 port for expansion. It’s available with 2TB of capacity for $200, and 3TB for $260. Lee says the PC backup software is capable of doing both incremental backups and image-based backups, and that consumers will be able to perform bare-metal restores using software the drive will write to a USB memory stick . The NAS device will use Apple’s Time Machine technology to back up and restore Macs.

Style Android’s overflow menu using this sanity saving workaround – Styling the overflow menu on Android is poorly documented and hacky and can drive you mad. This workaround might save you hours of work and your sanity.


Adobe goes out of band to fix frightful Flash flaw: Company warns of active attacks on browsers – Adobe has issued an out-of-band fix to address what the company warns is an actively-targeted vulnerability in its Flash media plug-in. The company said that the Flash update would address a remote code execution vulnerability present in the Windows, OS X, and Linux versions of Flash Player. Users running Chrome and Internet Explorer will automatically download the update through their browsers, while other users can obtain the fix through Adobe’s Download Center.

iFrame attack injects code via PNGs: Old malware, new trick – Security vendor Sucuri is warning that it’s spotted an attack in the wild that embeds malicious code in PNG files. So the user doesn’t notice anything happening, the iFrame is loaded at -1000px – meaning it’s placed off-screen.

Target advocates smart cards in wake of breach – John Mulligan, Target’s Chief Financial Officer, has written an opinion piece for The Hill calling for a change: the time has come for US payment card companies and businesses to switch to chip-enabled smartcards. He’s only partially right. The time for these smartcards was a long time ago, only the cost of a nation-wide introduction was higher than that of the various consequences of this type of breaches. Does it really take that long to implement a technology that has been proven to be more secure and has been widely used in the EU, UK and Canada for years now? Apparently it does.

Personal info of 800,000 Orange customers compromised – Global telecom giant Orange has sent out alerts to nearly 800,000 (some 3 percent) of its French customers warning them that their personal information was compromised in a breach that took place on January 16. The stolen data includes the customers’ name, postal address, email address, phone number, and additional information about the composition of the household, the number of subscriptions household members have with Orange or competitors, and the customers’ preference of how to be contacted.

Malware sophistication vexes lawmakers, retailers and the financial industry – The failure of U.S. financial institutions and retailers to implement more robust cybersecurity measures, such as the smart-card technology widely used in Europe, was questioned and criticized by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing Tuesday. Senators also questioned notification procedures following recent high-profile breaches and whether federal law enforcement agencies are doing enough to go after cybercriminals. Lawmakers repeatedly noted the vulnerability of U.S. consumers, who make a quarter of all credit-card transactions globally, but half of all data breaches occur in the U.S., with a quarter of all data breaches occurring in the U.S.

Australians scrap Microsoft XP usage faster than US, UK users – Australians are leading the way in moving away from using Microsoft’s 12-year-old operating system, Windows XP, ahead of UK and US users, according to web analytics company StatCounter. The company’s research arm, StatCounter Global Stats, found in January 2014 that despite XP being the world’s second most popular operating system in terms of internet usage, only 7.8 percent of Australians still use it compared to 12.4 percent of US and 9.5 percent of UK users.

Company News:

Report: IBM gooses its sales numbers thanks to overseas tax tricks – It appears that Big Blue is not immune to the alluring power of moving money around to lower its effective corporate tax rate and boost profits. In fact, IBM’s effective tax rate has fallen in 12 of the last 14 years. IBM ended 2013 with a tax provision $1.84 billion lower than it initially projected, thanks to a tax rate of 15.6 percent—compared with its forecast of 25 percent. IBM, like other major tech firms including Google, use legal loopholes that allow major tech corporations to move money around on paper through a series of shell corporations in Ireland, Bermuda, and the Netherlands. (Companies like this couldn’t exist without the infrastructure that you and I pay for through taxes (the public purse.) Yet, through trickery, thievery, sleight of hand …………… coupled with a lack of ethics and any sense of morality, ongoing costs to maintain this infrastructure are apparently a non-issue for these modern day Robber Barons.)

Satya Nadella Named Microsoft CEO – After months of rumors, Microsoft on Tuesday officially named Satya Nadella as its next CEO, the company’s third in its almost 40-year history. Founder Bill Gates, meanwhile, will step down as chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors to serve as technology advisor. He “will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction,” Redmond said. John Thompson, lead independent director for the board of directors, will take over Gates’s role as chairman.

Games and Entertainment:

Rockstar: Grand Theft Auto V Was 2013′s Best-Selling Video Game – I’m pretty sure there’s a mistake here. Rockstar’s claiming Grand Theft Auto V – my review is here — was the best-selling game of 2013, but that can’t be right, because consoles are dead: subverted by the smartphone-tablet tsunami.

Netflix orders third season of ‘House of Cards’ – When you reach the inevitable cliffhanger of “House of Cards” second season, maybe a dozen or so hours after all the episodes go up, rest assured the series is coming back for a third round. Netflix said it is renewing the original series for a third season, according to Deadline. A Netflix spokesman could provide no further details, but Beau Willimon, who adapted the UK version of “House of Cards” to be set in the US, tweeted that new scripts have been in the works for a month:

Doom creator John Carmack talks id departure and virtual reality – This past November, John Carmack, co-creator of the much-beloved video game DOOM, left id Software to join ranks full-time with Oculus VR. Not much was revealed about the particulars of why Carmack made such a decision, though indicators existed leading up to the transition. Now he has spoken out, and the reason revolves around virtual reality.

Off Topic (Sort of):

IBM’s Watson supercomputer uses social media to profile users – IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been tasked with profiling users from one side of the Internet to the other, using information it gathers from social media accounts to learn about individuals. This information can then be used by service providers and similar to best reach out to customers and potential customers, and could also be used by advertisers.

UK Government Backs Year Of Code Campaign, Boosts Funds To Teach Code In Schools – Modern governments have a problem. The Internet is becoming increasingly important to the future of economies, and yet the skills associated with it remain – for the most part – far down the priority order in terms of education policy. Amongst these governments, only a handful are putting in formal, structural, systems in place to teach coding from the earliest levels – amongst them are New Zealand, South Korea, the US, Israel and the UK.

India’s first ‘school in the cloud’ aims to elevate kids – 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra’s School in the Cloud opens in New Delhi, letting kids teach themselves, and possibly ushering in “the end of schooling as we know it.”

Why can ants lift so many times their own weight? – This one is old as the hills: ants can lift up to 10, 100, no, 1000 times their own weight right up over their heads! It’s incredible, especially since real research puts the number anywhere from 20 to 100 times, depending on the species of ant. How is this possible — or more to the point, why can’t we do the same? It all comes down to the fact that, in biology, not everything is relative.

Doodle 4 Google 2014 kicks off, winning entry will be animated – Google has officially kicked off its Doodle 4 Google contest, which offers a theme and invites kids from around the world to enter a drawing related to that theme. This year brings with it a small twist on the popular contest, however: the winning doodle will be animated in a way similar to some of Google’s past features.

One out of four Americans not online in ’12 – The number of Americans who connect to the Internet is growing, but one out of four are still offline, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau from its 2012 Current Population Survey. The government report showed that in 1984, 8.2% of U.S. households had a computer, compared to 78.9% in 2012. If Americans have a computer, they’re likely to go online. The census report found that in 2012, 74.8% of U.S. households had Internet use at home, compared to 18% in 1997.

Something to think about:

The argument that the Internet “is new technology and therefore a free-for-all” is absurd. I expect privacy when I use electronic communications from my home – and I get it, enshrined in law. No one can eavesdrop on my telephone conversations without a judge, a warrant and a demonstrable legal reason. This right to privacy is legally mandated, independent of what technology is used to enable the communication – fibre optic, maser, wire, or whatever, it makes no difference in law. To say that terrorists or criminals are spying on our communications, does not allow our public servants to emulate them and become criminals themselves.”

–      Toronto Star comment board

Today’s Free Downloads:

Inbox 2.01 – Inbox is the middle man, the central scrutinizer for your email; fetching, collating and filtering your mail before you download it to your mail client. You can aggressively deal with unwanted mail saving you time and bandwidth. Mail can be download or left on the server. It’s also a powerful tool for manipulating email in various ways: redirect, simple mailing lists, mailbots, away message, reject message, global and account level filtering.

PDF24 Creator 6.3.0 – PDF24 Creator is a handy utility for creating PDF files or converting PDF files into multiple file formats. The PDF creator contains a PDF Editor which you can use to merge multiple PDF to one, split PDF, extract pages from PDF, copy one or more pages from one PDF to another, set document properties such as title and author, encrypt PDF files and prevent so from unauthorized printing, convert documents like Word, Excel or images to PDF or sign PDF files.

iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Experts refute Verizon’s claim that NSA can’t grab non-U.S. data – Verizon’s latest bid to set the record straight after being implicated in the ongoing leaks pertaining to the U.S. government’s surveillance programs is being disputed by critics, privacy advocates, experts, and academics. In a post on its Public Policy blog, Verizon’s general counsel Randal Milch said that the U.S. telecom giant thought it was a “good time to dispel … inaccuracies” about claims “exacerbated” by the U.S. surveillance leaks that threw the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterparts under the bus. Milch wrote: “Our view on the matter is simple: The U.S. government cannot compel us to produce our customers’ data stored in datacenters outside the U.S., and, if it attempts to do so, we would challenge that attempt in court.” But those claims, along with other comments he made, have been questioned by some of the leaders in the academic, international privacy, and legal fields, particularly in regards to Silicon Valley companies.

Patriot Act author: Absent reform, we’ll halt bulk metadata program renewal – In a session of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) said that given the government’s muted response to the Snowden leaks—particularly regarding the bulk metadata collection authorized under Section 215—the White House needs to make further changes. Speaking to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who appeared before the committee, Sensenbrenner gave a stern warning. “Section 215 expires in June of next year,” Sensenbrenner said according to The Hill. “Unless Section 215 is fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will end up getting nothing because I am absolutely confident that there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize 215.”

How many criminals have NSA’s phone records busted? Maybe one – Recent revelations about NSA surveillance programs have created a “misimpression” about the U.S. technology industry and are eroding trust in those companies, said Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). The furor over the NSA surveillance programs could lead to lost income in the tens of billions of dollars for U.S. cloud providers, and many U.S. tech vendors are already hearing complaints, he said. The U.S. needs a “public policy course correction” on NSA surveillance, Garfield told the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. “Made in the U.S.A. is no longer a badge of honor, but a basis for questioning the integrity and the independence of U.S.-made technology,” Garfield said. “Many countries are using the NSA’s disclosures as a basis for accelerating their policies around forced localization and protectionism.”

Senior Congressman calls Greenwald a “thief” who sold NSA documents – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has been very unhappy about the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden from the very beginning. Now the head of the powerful House Intelligence Committee has become one of several personalities at the heart of the NSA leak scandal to lash out at one of the journalists publishing stories about the documents. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it,” Rogers told Politico after a hearing in his committee earlier today. “A thief selling stolen material is a thief.”

Brit spies reportedly hit Anonymous with DdoS – Unit of the U.K.’s communications intelligence agency used the cyberattack method against hacktivist groups, according to documents supplied to NBC news by Edward Snowden.

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