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

3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 14, 2014

  1. Reblogged this on Chronic Electronics Blog and commented:
    Tips every online user should read.

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