Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 11, 2014

Snowden: NSA Is ‘Setting Fire’ to Future of the Web;  15 tips for staying safe online;  Kingsoft Office Suite Free;  When Windows Update won’t update; Popcorn Time transforms movie torrents into Netflix;  The Fix: Building the ideal home theater;  Microsoft adds new Windows 8.1 themes;  Americans have no idea how much water they’re using;  Free: Fotor Photo Editor;  Free: Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit;  Show more CANADIAN-MADE PORN, insists Canadian government.

Snowden: NSA Is ‘Setting Fire’ to Future of the Web – Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden appeared via webcast at Austin’s SXSW conference on Monday, and called on the tech community to create secure tools that will prevent mass surveillance by agencies like the National Security Agency. “The people who are in the room in Austin, they’re the folks who can really fix things, who can enforce our rights through technical standards” when Congress is unable or unwilling to do so, Snowden said.

EU’s Neelie Kroes: ‘Snowden gave us a wake-up call’ – Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, reflected on Edward Snowden’s leaks on Monday at the CeBit Global Conference, saying that the world should learn from them. “Snowden gave us a wake-up call,” she said, according to Recode. “Let’s not snooze through it.” Kroes spent her time at CeBit discussing the reality that cyberwarfare and spying are a part of the digital world. She cautioned, however, that it’s time for the world to determine how to find a proper balance between data-gathering and protecting privacy. “Say yes to protection but no to protectionism,” Kroes reportedly said.

15 tips for staying safe online and preventing identity theft – What are some simple tips, tricks and best-practice methods of keeping yourself and your digital identity safe from hackers?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Voice: A step-by-step primer on ditching your landline while keeping your number – Google doesn’t normally allow you to port a landline phone number to Google Voice. This step-by-step primer shows you how you can do it.

Popcorn Time transforms movie torrents into Netflix – Popcorn Time’s desktop app is available for Windows (7 and up), Mac, and Linux and is seriously dead simple to use. All an interested viewer has to do is download and install the app, choose a movie, and click “Watch It Now.” If available, the app will even let you choose between 720p and 1080p resolutions and offers subtitles in a variety of languages (once again, if available). Since it relies on popular torrents instead of streaming deals with major movie studios, Popcorn Time inevitably has a catalog that services like Amazon or Netflix could only dream of. At this writing, the movies topping Popcorn Time at this writing included Oscar favorites such as 12 Years A Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, Frozen, and Gravity.

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The Fix: Building the ideal home theater – On this week’s episode of The Fix, get expert advice on finding the right TV distance, wall-mounting a TV on the cheap, and the top three ways to add audio to your home theater.

10 Tips to improve Android battery life – It’s a fact that many Android phones have an advantage over the iPhone: the battery is user-replaceable, meaning you can carry a spare with you. However, even this won’t do you much good if you’re hiking in the north country away from electricity – although there are solar and battery-powered chargers available for when you’re off the grid.

5 beautiful Android live wallpapers that won’t kill your battery – Google added live wallpapers to Android way back in version 2.1, which first appeared on the venerable Nexus One. At the time, it was little more than a curiosity, a gimmick. Most live wallpapers guzzled battery life and were entirely too flashy to have moving around behind your icons. Four years later, live wallpapers have evolved into something that can make your phone feel alive and personal, without the obvious drawbacks. Let’s check out five live wallpapers that are as easy on the battery as they are on the eyes.

When Windows Update won’t update – We all depend on Windows Update to keep our PCs functioning and secure. Here’s what to do when the update doesn’t update.

Sony and Panasonic reveal Archival Disc format with up to 1TB of space – Sony helped to launch the Blu-ray disc player and format in 2006, which quickly defeated the rival HD-DVD to become the true successor to DVD. Now Sony has announced the next generation disc format, at least from a storage standpoint, with today’s reveal of Archival Disc.

Tailor Windows to your workflow with these two helpful taskbar tweaks – Managed correctly, the Windows taskbar can be the center of your PC’s universe. Here’s how to seize control.

Samsung releases official hands-on videos for Gear 2, Gear Fit, and Galaxy S5 – Taking the world by storm at this years Mobile World Conference, Samsung unleashed not one, but several devices that are aimed at captivating the market. A month later, looking to entice potential customers, Samsung has released a couple of official hands-on videos of the Gear 2, Gear Fit, and Galaxy S5. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that these videos are aimed at first time buyers or even those that are on the fence.

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Alvio gamifies asthma exercises so your child can breathe easier – This connected device — a breathing trainer and a game controller — provides cricual symptom tracking to parents, too.

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Google launches referral program for enterprise apps – To spread the word on its business-related software, the company offers $15 to people for every new user they sign up.

Neil Young’s Pono hi-fi music player revealed: $400 for 128 GB, no DRM – Neil Young is pulling back the curtain on Pono, his long-awaited music system designed for audiophiles. The wedge-shaped music player, which Young first showed off on Late Night with David Letterman in 2012, will cost $400 and includes 128 GB of storage for high-quality music files. A press release published by Computer Audiophile says the player can store between 100 and 500 digital albums, depending on exact resolution and length.

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Microsoft adds new Windows 8.1 themes, including some that have Irish luck – Microsoft has released some new themes for Windows 8.1 owners to download and use, including some that have the “luck of the Irish” as we get closer to St. Patrick’s Day.

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A new level of security is coming to an Android near you – The developers of the Android platform have something rather special in mind that will go a long way to prevent malware from infiltrating the barriers of your mobile devices. Beginning with Android 4.2, a Verify app system was created that watches for new apps — especially ones that are side-loaded (not installed from the Google Play Store). This real-time app scanning service instantly scans an app (upon installation) for suspect malware.

Traveling with mobile gear: Tips from a veteran – Business travelers and vacationers carry more mobile gear than ever. Bringing the smartphone is a must for both groups, and odds are there is at least a tablet coming along. The more gear you bring, the more you have to plan to make sure it all works as intended. These simple tips will make sure the gadgets keep working the entire trip.

Security:

Got a Netgear router from Virgin Media? Change your admin password NOW – A Wi-Fi security flaw leaves Virgin Media subscribers’ wireless connections vulnerable to takeover by hackers. The vulnerability, identified by IT consultant Paul Moore, means Virgin Media Superhub router/modem combo devices leak users’ passwords every time they reboot. The issue arises because the Netgear-manufactured device initially brings up the wireless network without any form of encryption, allowing it to accidentally leak its Wi-Fi password in the clear to anyone nearby.

Twitter fixes ‘rare’ bug that made protected accounts readable, affecting 93,000 users – And the bug took no less than four months to fix, according to the company. Kudos to transparency, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

Europol: Everything you do on a public Wi-Fi hotspot ‘puts you at risk’ – From the “we’ve been over this before” department, Europol wants users to avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots to conduct personal transactions and sensitive data transfers.

Company News:

eBay rejects Carl Icahn’s board nominees as ‘inexperienced’ – The online marketplace said in a pre-annual general meeting filing that it had looked at the candidates proposed by the activist investor, who’s agitating to get the firm to spin off PayPal, and found them wanting. Icahn has repeatedly accused the existing eBay board of insufficient corporate governance and conflicts of interest and is recommending that Icahn Enterprises employees Daniel Ninivaggi and Jonathan Christodoro get seats at the top.

Mt. Gox files for US bankruptcy to halt class-action suit – If successful in its Dallas filing, lawsuits in the U.S. against the company would be temporarily halted. That would give Mt. Gox a little breathing room while the Tokyo District Court works through the collapse of the company and how best to proceed with bankruptcy.

Microsoft’s faced with opposition in Korea over Nokia acquisition – According to reports, the Korea Electronics Association – an organization established by the government of South Korea to promote the IT and electronics industry – has submitted a petition to the FCC requesting that they provide oversight for the merger because of potential patent rights abuse that Microsoft may use to keep local manufacturers in check.

NGOs Call for Boycott of Apple Products Over Worker Safety – Green America and China Labor Watch are urging consumers to boycott Apple until its manufacturing partners stop “needlessly exposing workers … to toxic chemicals.” At issue are the organizations’ claims that Apple is “needlessly exposing workers in Chinese manufacturing facilities to toxic chemicals now causing severe illnesses.” Green America and China Labor watch said they will have a news conference on Wednesday announcing the call for a consumer boycott of Apple products until their concerns about worker safety are addressed.

Games and Entertainment:

Twitch Xbox One game broadcasting app update released – Just a few hours before Titanfall went on sale in North America, Twitch released its previously announced app update for the Xbox One. The new version finally allows owners of Microsoft’s console to broadcast their gameplay streams to the Twitch service for anyone else to check out, which is something that Sony’s rival PlayStation 4 has been able to do since it launched in November.

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Watch this awesome recursive ‘Lego Movie,’ ‘Simpsons’ mashup – Short video spoofs both “The Simpsons” and the “Lego Movie,” with meta homages to the famous couch scene in the TV show’s opening title sequence.

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Katie Couric to make Yahoo debut on Friday – The anchor will begin her tenure at the tech company with an interview with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dark Souls 2 Launch Trailer Mocks You, as It Should – Dark Souls 2 just makes fun of you. “You will die, that much is certain,” says the narrator in the trailer. It’s also just as non sequitur-ish as Dark Souls. If you watch the trailer long enough, you might think you’re in a music video for Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Train,” because you are, which sounds like…well, whatever sound a pair of waterskis sailing over a dorsal fin makes. Though when you stop and think about that song’s lyrics, I’m not sure anything says Dark Souls better.

Off Topic (Sort of):

NASA asks citizen scientists to become ‘asteroid hunters’ – In an effort to avoid a potential apocalypse, the space agency is holding a contest to get people to help it discover deadly asteroids.

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Show more CANADIAN-MADE PORN, insists Canadian government – Canada’s official broadcasting regulator has demanded that adult TV channels show more domestically-produced porn, saying that a flood of foreign smut is dominating their output. It seems that Canadian regulations require that 35 per cent of programming on any TV channel must be produced beneath the maple-leaf banner, and apparently certain Toronto-based outlets have violated this wholesome ruling. The rule against too much foreign-produced content is intended to safeguard Canadian jobs and showcase Canadian talent.

Spider silk is finally ready to be commercialized, thanks to E. coli – It’s hard to have a conversation about materials science without hearing about how amazing spider silk is, and if only we could manufacture it everything would be different. A breakthrough in the production of synthetic spider silk could finally see this material reach the market for use in a wide variety of products. The best part — it doesn’t even involve any actual spiders.

Americans have no idea how much water they’re using – How much water goes swirling down the drain when you flush a toilet? How many gallons does it take to fill a hot tub? Most of us, it turns out, have no idea. A new study in PNAS finds that Americans have some major blind spots when it comes how we use water and how we can best conserve it.

Bot or not? Try to tell a human poet from a computer – The Bot or Not Web site, called a “Turing test for poetry,” lets users guess whether poems have been penned by a human or an algorithm. It’s not always easy.

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Something to think about:

The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone.”

–    Thomas H. Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Fotor Photo Editor – Fotor Photo Editor comes loaded with tools for every essential editing need, plus tilt-shift, 13 unique 1-tap enhance options, over 60 effects/30 frames, RAW support, built-in sharing, and high-resolution saving. Fotor’s state-of-the-art photo processing engine makes it easy to process high quality photos quickly. Adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, white balance, and saturation, sharpen/blur, vignette, highlights & shadows. “Scenes” offers 13 enhance options preconfigured for various photo capture conditions.

PhoneTrans – We believe everything on your phone is important to you. So we are keen on making all iPhone content ready for transfer, such as Music, Apps, Movie, Ringtones, Podcast, iTunes U, TV shows, Audiobook, Music TV, Voice memos and more. PhoneTrans supports transfer iPhone, iPad, iTouch apps to a new computer. Two straightforward Install and Uninstall options make your Apps working like computer programs. With new App Transfer feature, PhoneTrans helps you to spice up iPhone, iPad, iPod touch by transferring and managing music, Apps, movies, music videos, TV shows, podcasts, ringtones, eBooks and all for Free!

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Kingsoft Office Suite Free – Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013 is an free office suite that offers a number of features for creating, viewing and editing personal and business documents. Our Office Suite 2013 includes Writer, Presentation and spreadsheets. These three reliable and versatile office freeware are perfect for both personal use at home and for professional businesses. They offer outstanding value at their listed cost compared to competing office programs. Office Suite free 2013 is compatible with all of the latest Microsoft Office file formats. It will easily open, read and write documents created with Microsoft Office as well as a wide variety of other formats. Microsoft Office can also open Kingsoft files without having Kingsoft Office installed on the same computer.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden: The NSA Is Setting Fire To The Future Of The Internet – Today at the SXSW conference, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined the event digitally to speak about mass surveillance. Since his revelations began to spill last summer, Snowden has been a lightning rod for discussion regarding the proper role of government, and how we handle privacy as a kind. In his remarks regarding the need for more consumer-friendly encryption, Snowden condemned the NSA, his former employer, and its leaders. Painting Director of the National Security Agency General Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper with a single stroke, Snowden said that they have done more harm than anyone else to our national and Internet security. The NSA, in Snowden’s view, is “setting fire to the Internet,” and those in charge of the operation bear that guilt.

Australia: Government pressured to drop social media censorship plans – The Australian government is facing pressure from tech giants Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, as well as telecommunications companies and libertarian groups to drop plans for a cybersafety tsar with the power to remove ‘harmful’ content from social media.

Snowden: “We Need A Watchdog That Watches Congress” – First and foremost, Snowden says intelligence agencies need to adopt a “law enforcement” model of defense. In other words, they need to cease the bulk collection of Internet and phone data and, instead, only go after suspects with a warrant. A contingent of congress members, including U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden, have proposed exactly that. However, Snowden saw a bigger problem with congress, who he accused of “cheerleading for the NSA instead of holding them accountable.” For instance, when Director of the NSA, James Clapper, admittedly gave false answers to Congress about the bulk collection of data, some members of the Intelligence Committee rushed to his defense. “We need a watchdog that watches congress,” he said.

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

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 11, 2014

  1. Herb Swift

    It’s “Locomotive Breath”. And since Aqualung came out in 1071 and Tull continued to put out albums through 2003, I’d hardly call it a jump-the-shark moment.