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.
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.
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.)