Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 18, 2014

Google Voice: The ultimate Android how-to;  Android phone battery suffering? Here’s a simple fix;  How to use Google Drive as a backup tool;  YouTube “super flaggers” include law enforcement;  Bypassing content filters:  How to see the web they don’t want you to see;  The best online services for tackling your 1040;  Your IP address: Who can see it and what you can do about it;  Mobile March Madness tips for staying in the game;  The Internet tsunami: 8 big insights on what it disrupts next.

Google Voice: The ultimate Android how-to – In this article, we look at how you can use Google Voice from your Android device, how you can display your Google Voice number as your Caller ID, and how you can make minutes-free Google Voice VoIP calls via WiFi.

Android phone battery suffering? Here’s a simple fix – You head out for the day and use your Android phone the same as usual. In the middle of the day your phone notifies you that your battery is almost dead. Here’s how to stop the drain.

Privacy outrage causes bank to ditch plans for targeted ads based on customers’ spending habits – Dutch bank ING has stepped back from a plan that would have seen its customers’ payment histories used to serve them targeted ads after consumer groups and customers objected.

This Man Has a Key That Can Shut Down the Entire Internet – In case you missed it, The Guardian ran an almost unbelievable story last month about individuals from around the world who hold keys that, when combined into one master key, have the power to reset the internet. (Yes, this is a real world thing and not the plot of an upcoming Dan Brown novel.)

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google Drive as a backup tool – All you need is Google’s desktop sync utility, which, not unlike Dropbox, adds a special folder to your hard drive that acts as a two-way conduit. Any files or folders you put there will get synced to your Google Drive, and any files or folders you add to your Google Drive will get synced back to that special folder on your PC. Here’s how to get started.

How to edit a PDF document in Word 2013 – Learn how to use one of Word 2013’s most asked-for features: how to open and edit a PDF file in Word.

Better manage downloads in Chrome with Downloadr extension – When you download a file in Chrome, the download shelf makes its appearance at the bottom of the browser. It keeps you apprised of a current download’s progress, but can get in the way of the page you are viewing, and it must be closed manually. If you aren’t enamored with managing your downloads from the download shelf, the Downloadr extension for Chrome adds a button to the right of Chrome’s URL bar that you can use instead to keep tabs on your downloads.

Mobile March Madness tips for staying in the game – No sweat! Here are some apps, and more, to help you stay on top of your bracket from the couch, car, or cubicle (don’t tell your boss we said that).

Outage hits Google Talk, Hangouts – After Google chat services go down for many users for about three hours, some find they actually have to talk to people in person.

Popcorn Time Is Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare, And It Can’t Be Stopped – Popcorn Time is just the start and it’s not the first to provide an easy way to consume pirated content. The entire program is on GitHub, where any developer can access the code and make it their own. Besides that, the program leans on an API released by a popular pirated movie site that has so far successfully evaded the MPAA’s wrath. Popcorn Time is simply a pretty face on a community-driven project. There isn’t a single entity here that Hollywood’s lawyers can attack. The developers can go underground and distribute their creations under multiple names. They’re not charging for the program or incorporating ads. Popcorn Time is Napster for video without a company that is trying to turn it into a business. It is the epitome of online guerrilla warfare.


Microsoft’s Free OneNote Hints At Its Larger Strategy – This morning, Microsoft announced that it was making OneNote, its note-taking service that syncs across platforms, free. The PC app, the new Mac app, and a variety of small tools for the service are now available for anyone to use without cost.


Bypassing content filters: How to see the web they don’t want you to see – The web is supposed to be open, but behind the scenes, content filters are often busy controlling what you see. The filters could be at your school or workplace, blocking sites such as the time-sucking YouTube from being accessed. It could be a media website that streams music and movies only to users located in specific countries. There are ways to bypass these restrictions, but be warned: Network administrators don’t want you to dodge their data blockades and won’t be happy if they catch you doing it. Use these tools at your own risk and responsibility.

Amazon’s Set Top Box Will Be A Dongle Like Chromecast, Could Feature OnLive-Style Streaming – Amazon is readying a game console/set top box of its own, and we’ve learned from multiple sources familiar with the device that the Lab126-produced gadget will have a form factor similar to the Chromecast, or in other words it’ll be a stick or dongle as opposed to something like the Apple TV. In addition, one source claims it should have support for streaming full PC game titles, and as such might be able to compete with consoles including the Xbox and PlayStation, instead of just Android-powered living room game devices.


Stop the TinFoil Hat Misinformation About ICANN – The blogosphere is all ablaze with chatter over the announcement that the U.S. government will relinquish its Internet administrative duties to a global coalition comprised of private companies, “civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world,” according to Fadi Chehadé, ICANN’s president and CEO. The news has prompted overwrought, histrionic blogs and online comments about the end of free speech on the Internet as we know it. But that assumption is dead wrong.

YouTube “super flaggers” include law enforcement – YouTube is home to vast quantities of videos, many of which violate its terms of service and guidelines in some way or another. Anyone can flag a video they feel is in violation of the TOS, but some 200 individuals, organizations, and government agencies have so-called “super flaggers” status, giving their flags clout.

Twitter “Fave People” test offers selective timeline – Sorting through the glut of Twitter updates can be time consuming, particularly for those following hundreds or thousands of people, a problem one presently has to tackle with the use of lists. Building upon that foundation comes a new feature in testing called Fave People, which creates a separate timeline for favorited people.

Your IP address: Who can see it and what you can do about it – Melanie, concerned about online privacy, asked the Antivirus & Security Software forum who can see her IP address and how serious a problem that is.

LINE Voice Calls activated in USA and 7 other countries – The latest update of the LINE chat app has added a system in which users will be able to make use of free voice calls inside their own countries and abroad. This “LINE Call” system works inside a number of countries – Columbia, The Philippines, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Peru, and the United States, and will be available to users who have registered their mobile phone number with the service. Which calls are free and which are available for “cheap domestic and international calls” is not yet entirely clear.

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo, First Take: USB storage for Android tablets and phones – If your Android smartphone lacks a MicroSD card slot and supports USB On The Go, this flexible flash drive could solve your storage expansion problem.


Twitch Broadcasting Goes Mobile With Gameloft’s Asphalt 8 – Twitch launched its mobile SDK earlier this month, making the live broadcasting, capturing, and archiving of mobile games available to iOS and Android developers. Gameloft’s award-winning arcade racing game (pictured) is the first to jump on the bandwagon, turning its dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts into streaming action. “This first-ever mobile game integration with Twitch opens the door for gamers to broadcast and share game play experiences like never before,” Gameloft’s Daudouin Corman said in a statement.


WhatsApp denies post-Facebook privacy changes – WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has spoken out on concerns about privacy and data protection following its acquisition by Facebook, insisting that nothing will change in what individual information it collects and how it uses it. “If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it” Koum writes of the $19bn deal announced last month. “Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously.”

Tax guide 2014: The best online services for tackling your 1040 – More than a dozen tax prep services promise to minimize hassles and maximize refunds. Here are our picks for every type of filer.

Smart recipe app Yummly expands its palate, launches on iPad – The app understands natural language, so if you type “vegetarian appetizers with no peanuts,” for example, it knows to find appetizers instead of meals and to eliminate meat, peanuts, and peanut oil from the list of ingredients. Seriously, this is a dream for people with food allergies or dietary restrictions. Yummly immediately starts to pull things for you, and the recipes cards spin and shuffle as they update with your results.



Syrian Electronic Army attacks CENTCOM, but US Central Command denies it was hacked – SEA hackers targeted CENTCOM in response to US intentions to launch cyberattacks on Syria. Although the attackers tweeted a screenshot showing access to US Army data, US CENTCOM denied it was hacked. The US Army is embarrassed, but it’s in regards to Thrift Saving Plan spear phishing emails traced back to the Army three weeks later; the fake e-mail was part of a cybersecurity test, but it set off panic.

Sextortionist who hacked Miss Teen USA’s computer sentenced to 18 months – According to a press release published Monday afternoon by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Abrahams “used the nude photos to extort victims by threatening to publicly post the compromising photos or videos to the victims’ social media accounts—unless the victim either sent more nude photos or videos, or engaged in a Skype session with him and did what he said for five minutes.”

Sally Beauty admits to payment card data breach – Sally Beauty Holdings confirmed Monday that it fell victim to a data breach, an incident that may have coincided with a project to update point-of-sale terminals at its U.S. stores, a recent regulatory filing shows. The Denton, Texas, based company, which has more than half of its 4,669 stores in the U.S., said it found evidence that fewer than 25,000 records containing credit card data were accessed and possibly removed, according to a statement. That follows its statement on March 5 that it was investigating “rumors” of a breach but had no reason to believe any credit card or consumer data had been lost.

Here Are All The Sites You Should Enable Two Factor Authentication On (And The Ones You Should Yell At) – Two-factor authentication! In this age of endless massive hacks we seem to be in the middle of, it’s one of the easiest ways you can dramatically boost security on your online accounts. But which sites actually support it? It can be a pain to keep track. Fortunately, a new, community-driven list keeps a running list of all the big sites that have some form of 2FA enabled (and encourages you to nag at those that don’t).

Malaysia Airlines mystery: Click here for the TRUTH …but FIRST, fill out this survey scam innocuous form – Scammers are asking truth-seeking conspiracy theorists to ignore the inherent irony and give up some of their private data in order to find out the “truth” about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. In reality, it’s a ruse to earn crooks a few cents in marketing affiliate revenues from dodgy online marketing firms that, at best, wastes a lot of people’s time and (very likely) coaxes victims into handing over private information.

Bitcoin-stealing malware hidden in Mt. Gox data dump, researcher says – Recently leaked Mt. Gox data archive contains a malicious application that steals Bitcoin wallet files, a researcher from Kaspersky Lab said.

Company News:

Apple rumored to launch cheaper 8GB iPhone 5c on Tuesday – A new rumor claims that Apple will begin selling a cheaper version of its iPhone 5c smartphone, with just 8GB of onboard storage, as early as Tuesday in Germany, and possibly other parts of the world.

Verizon’s still committed to Windows Phone as another device leaks – With the leak of another Windows Phone for Verizon, it would appear to state that the company has no plans of abandoning the platform and is committed to Microsoft’s mobile OS.

Dropbox Acquires Zulip, A Stealthy Workplace Chat Solution Still In Private Beta – Dropbox has quietly acquired Zulip, the makers of a workplace chat solution for desktop and mobile, which had yet to publicly launch. Though still in private beta at the time of the acquisition, Zulip had already developed a suite of applications for Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone and Android, which allowed users to share both public and private messages with their co-workers.

Uncertainty Persists As The Nokia-Microsoft Deal Races Towards Deadline – Microsoft and Nokia told investors that their deal would close in the first quarter of 2014. They have two weeks to meet that guidance, which remains unchanged even in the face of Nokia’s recent legal setback.

Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten Leaves Microsoft For Sonos – Microsoft has just disclosed that Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer for the Xbox division, will be leaving the company. His new gig? Chief Product Officer at Sonos. Microsoft notes that Marc’s team will now report to Terry Myerson, who, as the company’s VP of Operating Systems, already oversaw much of the Xbox team’s operations (along with those of Windows and Windows Phone)

Games and Entertainment:

Craving junk food or a smoke? Try Tetris instead – In a recent study, just 3 minutes of the highly visual game dramatically reduced participants’ cravings for food, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.

Watch Dogs contains 100 hours of gameplay – Watch Dogs has now had its release date confirmed as May 27, meaning it’s almost done and Ubisoft can start to share more about what to expect from the much-anticipated game. And creative director Jonathan Morin has now confirmed how long we can expect to be playing the game for.


The Elder Scrolls Online beta leaves us skeptical – The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) always deserved skepticism. Was there any good reason to expect that the joys of the Elder Scrolls games would translate to a massively multiplayer format? I would love to be able to tell you that TESO manages to bridge those worlds of freedom and control, combining the best of both into a beautiful paradox. Unfortunately, after playing this past weekend’s semi-open beta while TESO prepares for launch in just a couple of weeks, I found that the opposite was true: it was the worst of both worlds. TESO takes the most predictable path, putting a superficial coating of The Elder Scrolls over a fairly conventional MMORPG.

Diablo 3 gold and real-money auction houses end-date: tomorrow – It’s time to be done with the longest-lasting experiment in real-cash trade for Diablo items in the history of the Diablo gamin franchise. It will be Tuesday, March 18th when the gold and real-money auction houses are taken down entirely, while the rest of the auction house ecosystem will remain in play. Until June 24th, players will be able to access their “completed” tabs – but we wouldn’t risk it.


Microsoft: All Xbox One controllers will work on Windows… Eventually – Microsoft Xbox executive Albert Penello clairfied that Microsoft still plans to offer drivers for the Xbox One controller that will allow current models to work with Windows PC games in wired mode.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet tsunami: 8 big insights on what it disrupts next – The disruptions that the Internet has unleashed on society have only just begun. Learn what the next stages will bring over the coming decade.

NSA can track every email, but it can’t find a plane – When a world that’s characterized by ubiquitous data collection and surveillance can lose sight of a jumbo jet, you start to question the worth of all that spying on us.

If You Gave Superman A GoPro – If anyone ever asks you what you’d use a personal drone for, you could say “Real estate photos”.. or “monitoring rhino populations”… or you could say “pretending to be freaking superman.” Armed with a personal RC drone, a GoPro camera, and fistfuls of crazy video editing talent, a team out of LA has recreated a first person view of a day-in-the-life of ol’ Clark Kent himself.


Three Data Driven Nuggets From Nate Silver’s New News Site – Nate Silver, the famous New York Times statistics blogger who correctly forecasted 50 out of 50 states in the 2012 presidential election, has launched an entire news site dedicated to data journalism. Keeping the old blog name, 538, the relaunched site is dedicated to taking what Silver thinks is a more rigorous approach to writing about numbers. Flush with ESPN’s cash, Silver has hired writers who have skills in statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and data-literate reporting.


Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to Work in Silicon Valley – Do we want a tech world defined by compassionless jerks? I’ve written before about the toxicity of the Silicon Valley/San Francisco cult of “disruption,” which has no empathy for the disrupted, and little place for any empathy at all. But my hackles were raised again by a BusinessWeek review of venture capitalist Ben Horowitz’s new book, which confirmed that Silicon Valley’s power brokers are passionately devoted to creating a society at war with itself.

Here’s How Tired People Were After Daylight Saving, According to Facebook Data – The Monday morning after the clocks sprung forward for Daylight Saving last week, Americans were feeling sleepy. Rather than take that statement at face value, the data scientists at Facebook decided to find out just how sleepy people were. (In non-scientific terms: They could have used an extra hour of shut eye).

Something to think about:

“One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between 2 “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Found at: Paul Eckstrom

Today’s Free Downloads:

CyberGhost VPN 5 – Join now one of the world’s most trusted and secure VPNs. For FREE. CyberGhost VPN lets you surf anonymously by hiding your IP address and replacing it with that of the server you choose to connect to, making it impossible for hackers, third parties or other organizations to track you or meddle in your business.


Panda Cloud Antivirus 2.3.0 / 2.9.1 Beta – Thanks to Panda Security’s Collective Intelligence malware and goodware online database, Panda Cloud Antivirus detects more malware than traditional signature-based solutions which take longer to detect the most recent, and therefore most dangerous, variants. Panda Cloud Antivirus protects you while you browse, play or work and you won’t even notice it. It is extremely light as all the work is done online in the cloud. Panda Cloud Antivirus provides you with the fastest protection against the newest viruses thanks to its cloud-scanning from PandaLabs’ servers. Panda Cloud Antivirus is truly install and forget. Don’t worry about updates, configuration or complicated decisions ever again. (I took this one out for a test run (30 days) recently – impressive and very lightweight.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Compare the NSA’s Facebook Malware Denial to its Own Secret Documents – On Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald and I revealed new details about the National Security Agency’s efforts to radically expand its ability to hack into computers and networks across the world. The story has received a lot of attention, and one detail in particular has sparked controversy: specifically, that the NSA secretly pretended to be a Facebook server in order to covertly infect targets with malware “implants” used for surveillance. This revelation apparently infuriated Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg so much that he got on the phone to President Barack Obama to complain about it. “I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post Thursday. “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.” That wasn’t all. Wired ran a piece saying that the NSA’s widespread use of its malware tools “acts as implicit permission to others, both nation-state and criminal.” Slate noted that the NSA’s hacking platform appears to be “becoming a bit more like the un-targeted dragnets everyone has been so upset about.” Meanwhile, Ars Technica wrote that the surveillance technology we exposed “poses a risk to the entire Internet.”


Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly Exaggerated – In a  February 19 front-page story, the Washington Post appeared to be breaking news of yet another massive federal surveillance program invading the privacy of innocent Americans. The Department of Homeland Security, the story said, had drawn up plans to develop a national license-plate tracking database, giving the feds the ability to monitor the movements of tens of millions of drivers — a particularly intrusive form of suspicionless bulk surveillance, considering how strongly we Americans feel it’s none of the government’s business where and when we come and go. The next day, however, the Post called off the alarm. The plan, the newspaper reported, had been canceled. Threat averted. Move along. But the Post had gotten it all wrong. DHS wasn’t planning to create a national license-plate tracking database — because several already exist, owned by different private companies, and extensively used by law enforcement agencies including DHS for years.

Good riddance to American internet oversight says Microsoft – Microsoft’s veep for technology policy David Tennenhouse has given Redmond’s good netkeeping seal of approval to the USA’s plans to stop acting as the ultimate regulator of the internet. Tennenhouse has posted to the effect that “The U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent announcement of its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a significant and welcome development.”

Australia – Asio and others seek more, not fewer, surveillance powers – Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies are resisting calls to improve safeguards for intelligence-gathering and actively seeking more surveillance powers, including the ability to force users to decrypt information. Mandatory data retention, increased powers to gather intelligence from email or social media users, and compelling users to decrypt encrypted files are among an array of proposals from government agencies in submissions to a Senate inquiry into the operation of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act. The inquiry was sparked by calls from Greens senator Scott Ludlam to investigate the safeguards protecting personal data. They stemmed in part from the revelations from documents obtained by the former national security adviser whistleblower Edward Snowden that Australia offered to share metadata from citizens with overseas surveillance partners. But intelligence agencies are resisting a series of potential changes to the act, and taking the opportunity to argue for greater powers. (suggested by Mal C.)

US intelligence oversight group from 1975 says things are way worse now – On Monday, surviving members and staff of the Church Committee published an open letter (PDF) to Congress, President Barack Obama, and the American public, calling for a “Church Committee for the 21st Century—a special investigatory committee to undertake a thorough, and public, examination of current intelligence community practices affecting the rights of Americans and to make specific recommendations for future oversight and reform.” Notably, the letters authors offer this declaration: “The scale of domestic communications surveillance the NSA engages in today dwarfs the programs revealed by the Church Committee.” Given the CIA’s recent spat with Senate investigators, such an oversight committee may not have been as far off as it once seemed.

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