Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 27, 2014

10 tried-and-tested Windows desktop apps;  Browse incognito with Disconnect and Silo;  Download PhotoDirector 4 for Free;  Bitwig Studio on Linux;  Internet Rages Against the Oculus Facebook Machine;  Twitter adds photo-sharing features;  Stolen Twitter accounts ‘more valuable’ than credit cards;  Price war! Amazon cuts cloud costs;  If you want to spot a liar, trust your gut;  10 Wacky Movie Depictions of Virtual Reality;  When is a mobile app a medical device?  Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill;  Macrium Reflect Free Edition.

Hackonomics: ‘Cyber Black Market’ more profitable than illegal drug trade – A new report by RAND commissioned by Juniper Networks has some eyebrow-raising conclusions about the black market for hacks, cracks, data theft, botnets, and zero days.


10 apps for your Windows PC – For all the talk of cloud computing and tablets and smartphones, the majority of tech workers still use a PC desktop or laptop. On that front, here are 10 tried-and-tested desktop apps that soup up your Windows PC experience — whether you need help with audio, images, video, security, productivity or even backup.

How to hide your online searches: We browse incognito with Disconnect and Silo – Services that mask your identity online can preserve your privacy, but they can also be slow and unwieldy. Disconnect said Monday it had tweaked and upgraded its search capabilities to improve its speed, while Silo, an anonymous browser vendor, recently launched a personal edition for individuals. Neither service gives the full functionality of a virtual private network, which can route the data sent to and from your router through a private “tunnel” that can anonymize your own IP. Silo comes close, but it includes a deliberate handicap: It prevents audio from playing within the browser, which makes it unusable for viewing videos of any sort.

Download PhotoDirector 4 for Free – For a limited time, PCMag readers can download an exclusive copy of PhotoDirector 4 from Cyberlink. Photo-management features include facial-recognition technology, Native RAW support, 16-bit color support, add and edit IPTC metadata capabilities (shutter speed, exposure, capture date, etc.) and various view models that allow you to flag, rotate, and label photos. Adjustment tools include HDR effects, target area enhancements, noise reduction, white balance, sharpening, and more.

OneNote vs. Evernote: A personal take on two great note-taking apps – With Microsoft’s release of OneNote for the Mac and iOS , and its announcement that the Windows application is now free as well, the company has taken dead aim at the popular program Evernote. The two applications now both work on the same platforms (including mobile OSes such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone), sync your notes to your devices and include Web-based versions. But they also have some very distinct differences. So which is better?

Google Voice: Beyond Gmail. Get voicemail and texts using any email client you want – Learn how you can receive transcribed voicemail messages and texts in any email client you want. This article assumes you’ve already got a working Google Voice account and it’s linked to your phone. If you don’t, please read the earlier articles in this series. We are also aware of the rumors that Google may end-of-life Google Voice or migrate its functionality more fully into Hangouts and, if that happens, we’ll update this series with all your best options.

LastPass for Android Gets Autofill Support Across All Apps and Browsers – As we’re forced to choose ever more complicated and diverse passwords to keep one step ahead of the scammers, it’s getting increasingly hard to keep track of it all. The LastPass Android app used to be little more than a custom browser with your passwords built-in, but with the most recent update LastPass gains the ability to fill in your passwords across all your apps and browsers.


Timehop Brings Its Mobile Time Machine To Android – Timehop, the mobile app offering a way to recall your past one day at a time by displaying your old photos and posts from Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter, is now launching its service on Android. The app, for those unfamiliar, is a simple service that lets you look back on what happened on this day last year, and the year prior, and so on. It’s a “this day in history” kind of thing, but only for your own content.

Pedius Lets Italy’s Deaf Make Phone Calls, With More Countries To Come – Pedius is a four month-old Italian start-up that has an app currently available for Android that enables the deaf to make phone calls. The user texts a message, and that text translates to speech at the other side of the phone call. There is also a clean-looking website to accompany it, and, although it is currently available only in Italian, it is soon set to expand to Brazil, the United States.

Internet Rages Against the Oculus, Facebook Machine – After Facebook announced that it would acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion, the Internet exploded with angry tweets, comments, and other virtual vitriol. Most took to Twitter to express their rage. But some who had backed the $2.5 million Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign went to the project’s comment page to air their feelings. And in perhaps the most ironic twist of them all, there were many who used the Facebook commenting system on Oculus VR’s announcement to proclaim “DO NOT WANT” and “Boycott.”

Bitwig Studio on Linux: Can one top-tier app change the game? – Face it Linux users—if Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and other popular applications were available for your platform, your club would be a lot less exclusive. No disrespect to the Linux development community, which does some stellar work, but that’s the cold, hard truth in the consumer space. That’s also why the Ubuntu Linux (64-bit) release of a top-tier music creation application by the name of Bitwig Studio is huge news and a possible harbinger. It will also ship for Windows and OS X—Bitwig isn’t crazy.


CloudOn offers 6 months of virtual Office for free – CloudOn has offered a virtualized version of Office 2010 for the iPhone and iPad, plus Android phones, over the course of the last two years. Last September, the company expanded from an app-based model to the browser. CloudOn charges $3.99 for a list of features it turns on as part of what it calls CloudOn Pro: watermarking, footnotes, and bibliographies, to name a few. Now, the company says it will waive those fees for six months, as a way to lure new business. The discount will apply to both new and existing customers.

Twitter adds photo-sharing features as Instagram nips at the network’s heels – Twitter isn’t a social network built around photos, but it has to adapt to what people want. The apps now let you tag up to 10 friends in a photo without using any of the 140 precious characters you’re allotted per tweet. Perhaps that’s what Twitter news chief Vivian Schiller was talking about when she recently mentioned getting rid of the network “scaffolding,” the inside language that scares away new users.

4 postcard-sending apps compared, for when Snapchat just won’t cut it – Remember back when it was exciting to get a delivery in the mail? You know, inside that small metal bin mounted to a wooden post at the end of your driveway? Well now you can bring back that nostalgia and conquer the digital divide by mailing out real world, physical postcards straight from your Android phone. We took 4 postcard apps through their paces to compare features, delivery times, cost and of course, the quality of the printed photo postcard itself.


In rare move, banks sue Target’s security auditor – In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago, Trustmark National Bank and Green Bank N.A, sued both Target and Trustwave for not doing enough to protect customer payment card data. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, accused both companies of negligence, deceptive practices, negligent misrepresentation and other misdeeds. The suit seeks compensatory and statutory damages for what the banks claimed were the losses they sustained in canceling and reissuing credit and debit cards that were exposed in the Target data breach.

Gameover malware targets accounts on employment websites – A new variant of the Gameover computer Trojan is targeting job seekers and recruiters by attempting to steal log-in credentials for and accounts. Gameover is one of several Trojan programs that are based on the infamous Zeus banking malware, whose source code was leaked on the Internet in 2011. Like Zeus, Gameover can steal log-in credentials and other sensitive information by injecting rogue Web forms into legitimate websites when accessed from infected computers.

Project iGuardian Urges Kids to ‘Think Before You Click’ – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), this week launched Project iGuardian, a national cyber-safety campaign aimed at quelling the number of children who fall victim to online sexual predators. As part of the campaign, federal and local law enforcement representatives will visit schools and youth groups across the country to spread a simple but crucial message: Think before you click.

Six clicks: How hackers use employees to break through security walls – Employees are prime targets for cybercrime attacks against your company. Find out the six top ways criminals gain access to your valuable data, IP, and more.

Hackonomics: Stolen Twitter accounts ‘more valuable’ than credit cards – According to a new report, the value of Twitter accounts on the black market for hacked wares has eclipsed the value of stolen credit card data.

Company News:

Microsoft And Dell Sign Patent Royalty Agreement For Android And Chrome OS Devices – Today Dell and Microsoft announced that they have signed an agreement relating to intellectual property, which will see the two companies “license each company’s applicable” patents regarding Android and Chrome OS devices, as well as Xbox consoles. So Dell will pay Microsoft dollars when it ships devices running Google’s operating systems. The companies mention Xbox consoles because Dell, it turns out, has some IP with surface area to the device.  Dell likely got a discount on its royalty payments as a result.

Candy Crush Saga maker King down over 15 percent following stock IPO – The stock market seems less than bullish on Candy Crush Saga maker King’s initial public offering this morning. As of this writing, the company’s stock is trading down roughly 13 percent from its $22.50 initial asking price on the New York Stock Exchange. King ended its first day of trading down 15.56 percent from its opening value. That’s the worst first-day performance for a major US IPO in the last 15 years, according to an analysis by Rennaisance Capital.

Price war! Amazon cuts cloud costs to counter Google – The price war among major cloud providers continues, with Amazon Web Services announcing Wednesday that it is lowering the prices of a number of its cloud services, one day after Google slashed prices. The round of price cuts, which take effect Tuesday, will be the 42nd for the company since its launch eight years ago, he said.

Microsoft to unveil Enterprise Mobility Suite alongside Office for iPad – Microsoft is readying a new Enterprise Mobility Suite bundle to help enterprise users better manage Windows, Android and iOS devices, sources say.

Box bolsters cloud platform for better scaling, adds new pricing plan – As Box prepares for its Wall Street debut, the enterprise cloud company is tying up loose ends for developers too.

Games and Entertainment:

Wolfenstein: TNO gameplay trailer and release dates hit the train – It’s now been made clear that the game Wolfenstein: The New Order will not only be a worldwide launch of a game, but a simultaneous worldwide launch as well. In North America, Europe, and Australia too, you’ll find this game releasing on May 20th, 2014. Also pushed today was the first gameplay trailer – right off the bat and we’re already in the game – and it looks terrifying.


Microsoft will now tell you if you are a jerk on Xbox Live – Microsoft has announced that starting later this month, it will begin to send notifications to some Xbox One players if their online gaming reputations are getting lower and need some work.


Titanfall DLC won’t be free, but new game modes will – In a move that’s all too rare in our modern profit-by-download world of DLC packs for games, Respawn Entertainment has revealed that they’ll be pushing new game modes to Titanfall for free. Sitting aside from the normal DLC packs – which will cost cash – EA Games and Respawn Entertainment will be sending up downloads for a variety of game modes to add to the Classic Modes list already in order. This news comes not long after the first big patch was made to Titanfall this past weekend.


Simpsons minifigs revealed ahead of May 4th Lego episode – They’re due to go on sale in May, and all (well, nearly all) the classic Simpsons characters are there. If you don’t feel like shelling out $200 for 742 Evergreen Terrace you’re still going to be able to get your hands on the whole family. Like other minifig releases, these ones are going to be blind packed. You’ll need a little luck on your side to score them all, or at least several minutes to pick up packs and squeeze them until you know who’s inside.


Off Topic (Sort of):

If you want to spot a liar, trust your gut, research says – Research from UC Berkeley suggests that instinct is a far better judge of the mendacious than is any rational process.

Mind-reading breakthrough can recreate the faces you see in your brain – A team of Yale researchers, led by a then-undergraduate student, have made an astonishing step forward in brain science. The (perhaps unsettling) breakthrough allows scientists to use a medical imaging machine and a well-trained algorithm to visually reconstruct faces seen by test subjects. As seen below, their technique returns some results with a truly astonishing level of accuracy. Oddly, their results seem to have been possible specifically because the brain processes faces in such a unique and distributed way. This study takes the field’s greatest and most intractable problem and leverages it to truly impressive effect.


When is a mobile app a medical device? The future of healthcare may depend on the answer – The potential of medical apps to improve care and lower costs is enormous. But if developers don’t know how these apps will be regulated, they’re going to spend their time on other pursuits rather than gamble on what regulators might do in the future.

Data storage — then and now – As the size of storage drives shrink, capacity increases — dramatically. Here is a look at how data storage has changed over the last six decades.


10 Wacky Movie Depictions of Virtual Reality – Hollywood has certainly not shied away from depicting virtual reality, sometimes to hilarious effect. But while virtual reality has been in the news recently thanks to the Oculus Rift and Sony’s new Project Morpheus, many people still regard it as a somewhat antiquated technology from the 90s that never really took off. In an age where our gadgets are getting smaller and smaller, who wants to strap on a massive piece of headgear (and possibly vomit all over the place)?


NASA wants you to pick the design of its Mars-bound space suits – NASA has a cool new suit prototype, but it needs the public to pick the look! Choose from one of three different suit designs and influence the content of humanity’s greatest upcoming photo-ops.

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

World Of Tanks – World of Tanks is a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century. Throw yourself into epic tank battles shoulder to shoulder with other steel cowboys to dominate the world with tank supremacy! You’re about to set foot into a world full of epic tank battles, furious skirmishes, and high-octane excitement. We’re talking, of course, about World of Tanks, the premier multiplayer game for armored warfare.


Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill – Brazil has made history with the approval of a groundbreaking post-Snowden Bill which sets out principles, rights and guarantees for Internet users. Last night (25), an overwhelming majority of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of the Marco Civil da Internet and its provisions around net neutrality, right to privacy and freedom of expression online. The Bill, which now needs to be cleared by the Senate before it is sanctioned by president Dilma Rousseff, had its voting postponed several times in the last three years. It gained prominence after the NSA spying scandal and became the center of a political minefield due to disagreement over several crucial points. The provisions around net neutrality are a key reason why the Bill is considered a major victory for the civil society and activists alike. Just as in other countries, telcos want to maintain their ability to favor certain internet services over others to their own commercial advantage – if it becomes law, the Marco Civil will ensure that this can’t happen.

Twitter Files For Lawsuits In Turkish Courts To Challenge The Country’s Access Ban – Twitter has just announced that it has formally joined the cause of those defending use of its service in Turkey, by filing petitions for lawsuits in a number of Turkish courts after working with its Turkish attorney over the course of the past few days. The petitions ask that the ban be lifted formally, and join the existing chorus of Turkish legal community members, citizens and journalists who have already succeeded in winning a stay of the Turkish government’s application to block the service entirely. Twitter says that the proposed ban is a series of three court orders that it wasn’t privy to before the ban was enacted, which include two that the company claims relate to content on their network that violate their own terms of service, and have accordingly been removed. The last one, which deals with a tweet accusing a former minister of corruption, isn’t in violation of Twitter’s ToS, so the social network is petitioning the courts to overturn that remaining order.

Turkish Court Halts The Government’s Application To Ban Twitter – A Turkish court has granted a motion for a stay of execution of the Turkish government’s application to block Twitter in the country. The decision was taken following appeals to the courts by the Turkish Bar Association, the Journalists’ Association of Turkey and some opposition politicians, reports local tech blog Webrazzi. Lawyers argued that the Telecommunications Authority of Turkey, which, under government pressure, blocked Twitter, must remove the ban immediately.



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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 27, 2014

  1. Hi Bill,

    The link for “10 tried-and-tested Windows desktop apps” is off. It should be