Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 6, 2014

Five apps that can earn you cold, hard cash (and other rewards);  How Big Brother will peek into your connected home;  Top tutoring sites and apps;  The first five apps to install on a job-worthy iPad;  The Top Words Used in Successful Online Dating Profiles;  Stream the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics;  How to Call Ransomware’s Bluff;  Five cool OneNote features;  NullCrew FTS hacks Comcast servers;  Two Xbox One updates on the way;  Facebook Albums Downloader.

Android Antivirus Protection Strong in Latest Round of Testing – This round of testing included 30 security apps and 2,191 pieces of malware. The results were very encouraging for Android users, with the average detection rate slipping only slightly to 96 percent. Most of the apps had detection rates above 90 percent, and quite a few managed to detect 100 percent of the malicious samples. These overachievers included Aegislab, Ahnlab, Antiy, Avira, Editors’ Choice Bitdefender, GData, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Kingsoft, KSMobile, McAfee, Qihoo, Symantec’s Norton, Trend Micro, and TrustGo.

How to Call Ransomware’s Bluff – If your files have been taken over by the CryptoLocker ransomware, you had better hope your backups are current. Sure, you can pay the ransom, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your files freed from hostile encryption. And if ransomware has taken over all of Windows, your best bet is a bootable rescue CD. But there’s a new kind of ransomware spreading, a type that really doesn’t have any teeth. I’ll explain how to recognize it, and how to call its bluff.

How Big Brother will peek into your connected home – The tech industry convinced people to accept a myriad of free services, with the price being a loss of some privacy. Getting people to embrace the smart home will be a harder sell.

Path 3.4 for Android Adds Video Recording and Sharing – Path is designed to be a more private experience where you can share with a small group of people you know (presumably) in real life. Now you can do that in a more animated way on Android with Path 3.4–it has video.

5 apps that can earn you cold, hard cash (and other rewards) – That expensive smartphone in your pocket could pay for itself — you just have to download the right apps. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are littered with titles to help you rack up money, gift cards, and other perks, and all you have to do is give up a few minutes of your time to earn your share. I’ve rounded up five apps here that are easy to use, and don’t require too much hassle to get your money.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The first five apps to install on a job-worthy iPad – There are so many good business apps available for your iPad, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are several handy apps to get you going.

5 cool OneNote features you’re probably not using – OneNote is one of the two titans of note-taking apps (the other being Evernote), but most users barely scratch the surface of its capabilities. More than a digital notepad, OneNote is a flexible tool for capturing, organizing, and contextualizing data. We pull back the curtain on five features you should be using to get the most out of this productivity powerhouse.

Android hardware husbandry: Taking care of your precious phone or tablet – Hey, it’s not always about the OS. Your Android hardware will perform better and last longer if you follow a few simple best practices.

Top tutoring sites and apps – Save tutoring money by turning to tech. To keep your student on the right track, instead of hiring a costly expert, check out a few apps and Web sites to help deliver those A’s.

Stream the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – Don’t miss any of the action when the XXII Winter Olympics get underway in Sochi, Russia, this week. Here’s how you can watch and follow the games on any device.

Mozilla And EverythingMe Preview “Firefox Launcher”, An Android Homescreen That Fights App Overload – Mozilla wants to help you find new apps and rediscover those you downloaded but forgot. So today it previewed Firefox Launcher for Android, a homescreen replacement powered by Israeli contextual computing startup EverythingMe that will become available for download “in the coming weeks”.

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Newegg Premier is like Amazon Prime for PC geeks – Newegg has just rolled out a cheaper, geekier alternative to Amazon Prime, called Premier, with free shipping and other benefits for $50 per year. Newegg Premier offers free Expedited shipping—guaranteed to arrive within three days—on all products, along with discounts on two-day and one-day shipping. Members also get free returns with no restocking fees, a dedicated customer service line, exclusive deals and advance notice on upcoming sales and events.

Houzz Launches Site Designer, Offers Free Websites For Home Professionals – Houzz, the popular service for all things home remodelling and design, is launching a new service today that allows home professionals like interior designers, architects, contractors and others to set up free websites for their businesses. These sites are connected to their Houzz profiles, which allow them to easily pull in their images, reviews and other information from their existing profiles.

The 10 Best Apps for the Pebble Smartwatch – The app store is currently available for all Pebble users with iPhones, and there’s a beta out there for Android users, as well. To access it, just open the Pebble app on your phone and choose “Get Apps.” There are hundreds of apps in the Pebble app store; your Pebble can hold eight, but you can stash others in a “locker” on your phone to swap them in and out easily. I took a look at a whole bunch of Pebble apps since the store launched yesterday, and here are 10 of the best to get you started.

YouTube to wipe site clean of ‘fraudulent’ video views – Some people thirsty for mass attention have paid for bogus video views and now the video-sharing site has had enough.

Microsoft reportedly delays Windows 8.1 Update 1 to April – A new report claims that Microsoft may wait until April to release Windows 8.1 Update 1, instead of the previously rumored March timeframe, although OEMs might get the update in early March.

How to tell if your Android phone or tablet supports USB On-The-Go – Can you plug external devices into your smartphone? A simple app answers the question, potentially saving you both time and money.

Asian countries home to fastest internet connections – Five out of the top ten fastest Internet connections are in Asia, according to a study by Akamai technologies. Smaller European nations such as Latvia, the Netherlands and Belgium also made the list.

Jean Michel Jarre wants $400 of your new iPhone for his pocket – Musician Jean Michel Jarre has lashed out at tech companies for devaluing music and other media, suggesting that $300-400 of the sticker price of every smartphone sold should be handed straight over to content creators. Dismissing the tech segment as “manufacturers of computers or cables” who “created a monster”, Jarre argued that the world had become too focused on the delivery medium and not the content itself, and that while consumers shouldn’t necessarily pay for music, phone makers should shoulder the burden instead.

Malwarebytes Now Accepts Bitcoins! – Over the last year, there have been massive amounts of news stories for and against Bitcoin being used as a currency. Here at Malwarebytes we have been advocates for the principles that lent to its creation. To that end, we are announcing as of TODAY that we are accepting Bitcoin as valid payment for our products!

Security:

New Flash exploit used to distribute credential-stealing malware – A new exploit that prompted Adobe to release an emergency patch for Flash Player was used in targeted attacks that distributed malware designed to steal log-in credentials for email and other online services, according to researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab. Adobe released new versions of Flash Player for Windows, Mac and Linux Tuesday in order to address a critical remote code execution vulnerability for which, the company said, an exploit existed in the wild.

NullCrew FTS hacks Comcast servers, post exploit and passwords – Hacking group “NullCrew FTS” announced on Twitter today that they had successfully hacked Comcast and provided unredacted proof on Pastebin.

The Rise of Android Scarevertising – Android scareware, in the form of mobile advertising pop-ups alert to a potential infection on your device, are on the rise. Fellow researcher Jerome Segura came across one using similar tactics we’ve written about in the past. In this scam, the mobile ad pop-up warns of my device having 13 infections and offers a way to remove them.

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(Credit: Malwarebytes)

Joining Microsoft, eBay’s sensitive e-mail is intercepted by hackers – If presumably savvy companies get hoodwinked, what hope is there for everyone else? – Pro-Syrian hackers have produced evidence that they intercepted the sensitive communications of eBay security personnel as the employees responded to a recent hack of the company’s UK websites. The incident underscores the lack of success some of the world’s most powerful tech companies have withstanding everyday attacks.

Target and Neiman Marcus execs defend security practices – Executives with the two companies, testifying for the second straight day before Congress, defended their security practices. Target has invested “hundreds of millions” of dollars in cybersecurity, said John Mulligan, CFO at Target. Neiman Marcus has spent “tens of millions of dollars,” added Michael Kingston, the company’s CIO. No antivirus software would have stopped the malware that attacked Neiman Marcus’ card-processing network, because it was rewritten to target the company, Kingston said. “It was very specifically designed for an attack on our systems,” he said.

Put down that iPad! Snoopware RECORDS your EVERY gesture, TAP on iOS, Android – Senior security consultant Neal Hindocha and his colleagues at Trustwave were able to brew up similar strains of prototype malicious code for both rooted Android and jailbroken iOS devices. The line of attack also worked on unmodified Androids provided they were connected to a computer. In an upcoming presentation at the RSA USA conference later this month Hindocha will outline how he found it was possible to create keyloggers for iOS and Android that are as powerful as keyloggers on Windows.

Sochi visitors entering hacking ‘minefield’ by firing up electronics – According to an NBC News report, Russian hackers are attacking Olympics visitors’ computers and phones the instant they turn them on. Par for the course for the broken $51 billion event. (Note: When one connects to the Internet, one enters a “minefield” created by an out of control U.S. government.)

Company News:

Twitter Stock Down 18 Percent After Earnings Show Disappointing User Numbers – You’d think investors would be happy. Twitter just released its first quarterly earnings report as a public company, with revenue and earnings coming in significantly ahead of analyst estimates. And yet, as of 6:02pm Eastern time, Twitter’s stock had fallen 18 percent in after-hours trading. What happened? Well, the company also said that it now has 241 million monthly actively users — up 30 percent year-over-year, as the release says, but only up about 4 percent from last quarter. In other words, it looks like user growth continues to slow. In addition, Timeline Views, which are another indication of user engagement, actually fell 7 percent to 148 billion.

Microsoft to pay Satya Nadella $14.4-18 million annually for CEO gig – In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, the company revealed that Nadella could earn as much as $18 million per year in his new gig. The filing shows that Nadella’s base salary will be increased to $1.2 million a year. That’s already much higher than Ballmer’s take home pay of $697,500 a year . Ballmer was also eligible to get a cash bonus every year, based on the company’s performance. In 2013, he received $550,000 in bonus pay, which amounted to just 79 percent of what he could have earned.

Google Awards Schmidt $106M in Stocks, Cash – Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will have a very sweet Valentine’s Day: The search giant is giving its chairman $100 million in stock options, as well as $6 million in cash to be awarded on Feb. 14, according to the New York Times. The bonus, to be paid out separately from the restricted stock, is “in recognition of [Schmidt’s] contributions to Google’s performance in fiscal year 2013,” a regulatory filing said.

Amazon purchases Killer Instinct maker Double Helix Games – Amazon’s latest acquisition renews the rumors, first reported last summer, that the company is planning to release an Android-based game console to build off of its robust Android App Store. The latest unsourced rumors on that score suggest that console will be powered by a Qualcomm processor and released some time this year for under $300. Amazon has also reportedly been courting Android game developers to add controller support to their games for months now.

Google to give Bing and other search engines equal time in latest EU offer – Google has offered to display services from rivals such as Microsoft’s Bing in search results for products, restaurants and hotels in its latest settlement offer to the European Union.

Not so fast………….

Google’s EU deal has rivals livid: Here’s what escaping a $5bn fine looks like – Google’s tentatively-agreed antitrust settlement may have pacified the European Union but the search giant’s rivals are still spitting mad, billing the concessions as “worse than doing nothing.” Years of search result sparring and the threat of a potentially $5bn antitrust fine dangling over its metaphorical head forced Google to crank up its offers to the EU in order to escape penalties for dominating in the European market; however, the consortium including Microsoft, Trip Advisor, Nokia, and others still isn’t happy.

Games and Entertainment:

Flappy Bird earns $50K per day – The free smartphone game for iOS and Android that’s sucking up all of your spare time is also earning an astounding $50,000 in daily ad revenue.

Name your own price for a Sid Meier game bundle – Civilization, anyone? And more Civilization? And air combat and railroad management? It’s all here, and with a nice kickback to charity.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, Episode Two Drops March 25 – On that date, Burial at Sea – Episode Two will be available for download worldwide on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PCs. The new DLC was built “almost entirely” from the ground-up by Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite. It will conclude the storyline of BioShock Infinite and Burial at Sea, as seen through the eyes of new character Elizabeth. It features new “stealth-oriented gameplay” as well as new weapons and modes.

Two Xbox One updates on the way, but performance is taking a back seat – Microsoft’s Xbox team took to their blog today, outlining an update about the current plan for improving their latest console over the next couple of months. The good news is that Microsoft is listening to their users, but some of the exciting stuff we’ve been waiting for appears to have been delayed.

Steam Music Beta plays music whilst you game – This week the folks at Valve have released Steam Music Beta, a local music service that’ll allow you to easily play music while you play games with SteamOS. THis service will be added to any machine running SteamOS, and is automatically added to any build for users working with the Steam Client Beta. To access this bit through the Steam Client Beta, users have only to head into System Settings.

Titanfall PC specs revealed, Origin account requirement also confirmed – Titanfall arrives on March 11 in the US and a few days later across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s also coming to multiple formats including the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. If you are planning on picking the game up on console then it will just work, but PC gamers have a minimum spec to worry about.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Analyzed: The Top Words Used in Successful Online Dating Profiles – WIRED recently looked into data from OkCupid and Match.com to help determine what attributes make people more attractive to online daters. Every aspect of the most popular users’ profiles were analyzed, from profile photos to mentioned interests. So, how you can improve your own chances to find a mate, according to the data? Most of the top terms suggest that being active in sports, especially outdoor sports like skiing and surfing, will improve your odds. “London” is also a highly ranked term (as is “NYC” for women and “passports” for men), suggesting that online daters are also looking for a worldly type, or at least someone who likes to travel.

Personal history could thrust Nadella into the debate over visas – Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, was born in Hyderabad, India, one of that nation’s largest IT centers, and graduated from Manipal University in India before heading to the U.S. to earn advanced degrees.

Xbox Kinect guards Korean border – Microsoft’s movement-recognition Kinect software has morphed from virtual shooter gaming to the real-life challenge of guarding the world’s last Cold War border.

What happens when Hubble has a bad day – Even the great Hubble telescope doesn’t get it right all of the time. But when it messes up, the results are almost as cool.

Pentagon Opens DARPA Data to Public – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, funds a lot of important computer science research, much of which has remained hidden away from public view – until now.

Taking an iPhone to the Sochi opening ceremonies? Think different – Samsung provides the official smartphone of the Winter Olympics, so athletes are reportedly being told to cover up the Apple logo on their phones during Friday’s opening festivities.

Facebook ordered to take down anti-Semitic page – The Anti-Defamation League says a page claiming Jewish people are involved in ritual murder constitutes hate speech and therefore should be removed immediately.

George Clooney: Read my lips, I will never, ever be on Twitter – Promoting his new movie, “The Monuments Men,” the suave actor reaffirms his loathing of tweeting.

Something to think about:

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”

–      Maureen Dowd

Today’s Free Downloads:

Facebook Albums Downloader 1.3 – MajorGeeek says: Finally, someone wrote a program to download your Facebook photos. Facebook makes it a real pain to do, one at a time. Facebook Albums Downloader does seem a bit cumbersome getting started. It comes in RAR format so you need a program like WinRAR so you can extract it to a folder to run. It requires Sun Java Runtime 32-Bit or Java Runtime Environment 64-Bit, something many geeks like to avoid. Finally, you have to connect to his Facebook page to retrieve a “token” so you can access and download. Yes, it seems questionable to many but I did it on my personal PC with NO problems. The interface is good but the program could be a tad friendlier. You will first see your friends list, so you need to click on your own profile, then all your pics are loaded up to download. The Java runs really slow and I am willing to bet there’s a huge memory leak in the program but it gets it done. Needs a little work but can only get better.

AVG LinkScanner – AVG LinkScanner is up and running immediately from the moment of installation. All basic settings have been pre-set by the manufacturer, so most of the time you will not have to worry about anything – just let AVG work in the background and protect you without any effort on your part. However, there might be situations where you need to adjust the program settings, or decide what to do with a virus infected file; this help system is here to provide detailed information and assist you with any task.

Homedale 1.41 – With Homedale you can monitor the signal strength of multiple WLAN Access Points. You can view a summary of all available access points with their: signal strength, encryption [WEP/WPA/WPA2], speed, channel, other settings. You can also see the signal strength of selected access points in a graph over the time. With a right mouse click, you can start logging and create a screenshot.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Wozniak criticizes cloud dependence in light of NSA – Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he has sympathy for companies at odds with the NSA and its surveillance tactics, but that their own dependence on server farms is part of the problem. “I think most companies, just like Apple, start out young and idealistic,” Wozniak said at the Apps World North America convention here. “But now all these companies are going to the cloud. And with the cloud you don’t have any control.”

Snowden Files Destroyed? No, People Make Copies – It’s crap. And that’s why I have to roll my eyes at the “conclusive” video of The Guardian editors “destroying” what purports to be the machine and the hard disks containing all the goodies provided to the newspaper by Edward Snowden. Nobody ever says exactly how much data Snowden took. An excellent blog called the Rancid Honeytrap discusses the ever-changing estimate of exactly how many documents Snowden might have. The fact is that nobody knows. Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said at a recent hearing that the Snowden theft entailed papers that “if printed out” would be a stack three miles high. This is the high end of the estimates thus far.

Microsoft’s pledge to ‘shield foreign data’ may increase NSA surveillance, experts suggest – In efforts to appease international customers amid a spate of intelligence leaks that implicated Microsoft in the PRISM scandal, the software giant is offering to store foreign data outside the U.S. But international law specialists, privacy experts, and academics alike have suggested that in the wake of such broad U.S. government surveillance, allowing customers to make a move like this could put foreign customer data, stored in the European Union and further afield in Asia and Australia, more at risk from U.S. surveillance.

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5 Comments

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

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 6, 2014

  1. delenn13

    Hi Bill,
    Re: The Newegg Service.
    I use Newegg and TigerDirect a few times a year, I have always gotten awesome service from them. I resent this “new” service. Does this mean If I don’t pay their fee of $50 I get rotten service? What happen to “great” service just for because I am using your company? I shouldn’t have to pay money to a company to guarantee I get great service. The “great” service should be automatic. This is just ploy for another money grab. What is this world coming too? It is scary.

    For people who like Steam: BundleStars is giving a FREE Steam key for the highly acclaimed Pid (SRP $9.99). Bundle Stars Giveaways

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Yeah, same here – TigerDirect a couple of times a year. I’ve always been happy with the service.

      But, you raise a good point. Exceptional service should be a hallmark of a company’s operating philosophy. Can’t imagine “layering” customer care separated by $$$$. Just a grubby way to alienate what these companies have come to see the customer as – nothing more than a lame-brained, follow-the-crowd, cash cow.

      BTW, I took advantage of the BundleStars giveaway. Well worth adding to Steam. Thanks for that. 🙂

      Stay cool! Not hard to do in this bloody weather.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. delenn13

    Hi Bill..again…
    Re: The Humble Bundle Games….
    “Please Note: All the games are available via Steam only!”

    I am debating on this one because of that. I already Have Civil 5 anyways.

  3. sanjeevp77

    Cool Posts!