Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 28, 2014

Angry Birds Shares Your Data Far and Wide;  5 top mobile apps;  10 top Excel keyboard shortcuts;  The secret to saving a wet phone or tablet;  Adapter gives iPhone camera mega magnification;  Wrap your traffic: Configure a VPN on Chromebooks;  3 storage tips to save space on your iOS devices;  Get Facebook Hack Notifications for Your Account;  11 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know;  EventSentry (free);  Facebook Password Decryptor (free).

Angry Birds Shares Your Data Far and Wide – The Android version of Angry Birds available on Google Play, last updated March 4, shares personal information such as age, gender and address along with device information with multiple parties, according to a blog post by FireEye researchers Jimmy Su, Jinjian Zhai, and Tao Wei. Users who play the game without a Rovio account are also sharing information about their devices without realizing it, the post said. This isn’t the first time Rovio, the developers behind the very popular Angry Birds apps, has been shown to share user data a little too widely.

Office For iPhone And Android Is Now Free – Along with a new version of Office for iPad, Microsoft made Office for iPhone and Android smartphones free today. The apps have updated in the respective app stores and can be snagged here for iPhone and here for Android. The change log notes that the apps are free for “home use.” As Emil Protalinski pointed out earlier today, this seems to imply that “Microsoft still plans to require that businesses have an Office 365 subscription.”

5 top mobile apps – When you find a good mobile app, it changes the utility of your device. There are other good apps on each mobile platform, but these five are my picks for the best in five genres most everyone uses.

3 storage tips to save space on your iOS devices – Don’t get stuck without any space for new photos, music, or apps. We’ll show you three space-saving tricks to get the most out of your iOS devices.

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11 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know – Searching the web for information is a skill. Yes, you can enter a term into Google and find information, but by using a few simple tricks, you can quickly and easily whittle down your results to get exactly the information you’re looking for.

Organize (almost) every aspect of your life with these seven apps – When it comes to scheduling specialized events, or specific aspects of your life, generic calendar apps just can’t cut it. Luckily, scheduling apps don’t stop at calendars, and there are actually several apps dedicated to helping you organize different parts of your life—they help you plan meals, schedule workouts, and stay on top of bills and car maintenance. If you want to organize every minute detail of your life, here are seven apps that can help get you started.

AlarmPad review: A glimpse at the future of alarm apps – Waking up in the morning is a drag. We’ve seen some spectacular alarm clock solutions over the years, like Clocky, the alarm clock on wheels that jumps off your nightstand and blazes around the room chaotically until you get out of bed. Maybe chasing your alarm clock around the room isn’t what you had in mind at 6:30 in the morning. Maybe all you need is a better alarm clock app.

Wrap your traffic: Configure a VPN on Chromebooks – Google secures your data, and a VPN protects your network traffic. Learn how to configure VPN on a Chromebook to browse securely anywhere.

Hands-on with Makulu Linux 5 Xfce: The most fun you can have with Linux? – I’m going to start by getting right to the point with two very simple, and very clear, statements.     One: this is not a distribution for beginners; such users would be very likely to be traumatised by exposure to Makulu. Two: I love this distribution. Makulu is so much fun I’m going to have a hard time conveying the feeling. I’m pretty sure there are places where it’s illegal to have this much fun.

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Swarovski adapter gives iPhone camera mega magnification – The maker of binoculars and spotting scopes has a $145 adapter that turns your fancy smartphone into a camera with a supertelephoto lens.

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The secret to saving a wet phone or tablet – Most of the old wives’ tales about saving wet phones just don’t work. The bag of rice, a sunny window sill, a hair dryer, and the horrid oven method will quickly get you (and your phone) nowhere. Having suffered through several waterlogged phones and sacrificial experiments, I’ve found only one unexpected method to be reliable. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before any mishap, be sure to stock up on the supplies so that you’re ready when your phone takes a dive.

Google really does Scroogle, regulator says – A UK regulator approves a Microsoft ad that claims Google scans every word of your e-mails, while Redmond only scans them for viruses and spam.

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Google Music lets you update your library through Chrome – Previously, Google Music users have only been able to do so with the Music Manager desktop application, which meant dropping the physical music file into the designated music folder, and then waiting for the app to sync it up to an account up in the cloud. To enable the ability to upload music through Chrome, simply flip the switch in Labs. The feature will also introduce a nifty little mini player and let you download music from your library without installing the Music Manager.

Roku Streaming Stick 2014 ready to battle Chromecast now – We don’t blame you for being smitten by our comparison chart between the 2014 Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) and Chromecast. We bet it enticed you enough to want the HDMI version bad. The news is that the stick is now ready to ship, so if you place an order now, it should get going within the next couple of days.

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Apple patent aims to keep idiots from falling into mall fountains – The plan is simple. A sort of augmented reality messaging app that turns on the iPhone rear-facing camera and displays what’s in front of you behind your text balloons. Theoretically, then, you might notice things like a water fountain in your path and stop walking before you fall face-first into it.

Use Malwarebytes wisely to prevent Android slowdowns – Malwarebytes is a great app for protecting your Android device. However, if you find this tool taking up too much of your devices resources, Jack Wallen has the solution.

10 top Excel keyboard shortcuts – The problem with a list of hundreds of shortcut keys is that it is overwhelming. You cannot possibly absorb 233 new shortcut keys and start using them. The following sections cover some of my favorite shortcut keys. Try to incorporate one new shortcut key every week into your Excel routine.

Now you can buy a computer-powered rifle on the Internet with Bitcoins – Buying a weapon with Bitcoin used to mean visiting the seedier realms of the Internet, such as the now-shuttered Silk Road and its various clones. But now you’ll finally be able to trade Bitcoin for a rifle on the up-and-up. Texas-based TrackingPoint said Thursday that customers could now purchase all of the company’s products with Bitcoin.

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Ex-Spotify Engineers Raise $2.2 Million For Lookback, A Mobile App Screen Recorder For User Testing – A team of ex-Spotify engineers has raised $2.2 million in seed funding for Lookback, a platform allowing developers to record onscreen activity within mobile apps – and even record the user’s face and voice, so they can explain what they’re doing when they encounter a bug or some other problem.

Hate Windows 8? How about a return to DOS? – If you find yourself complaining about Windows 8, you should try using the early versions of MS-DOS — or any version of it. You’ll come screaming back to Windows 8 in a heartbeat. Everything was accomplished via a command-line interface, every program you installed had a completely different look and feel and worked differently — if you could manage to install them, that is. Forget graphics. As for mice, they were still only rodents.

Here are 6 Facebook-free virtual reality alternatives – If you’re looking for an alternative to Oculus Rift that doesn’t involve Facebook, you’ll eventually have options, but right now it’s slim pickings even for developers and early adopters. Here are a handful of competitors on the horizon.

Songza’s new weather-based playlists will have you singing in the rain – Streaming music service Songza has always tried to pick the right songs for your mood, but until now it hasn’t been able to factor in the weather. A new partnership with The Weather Channel allows Songza to tap into local forecasts, and suggest playlists based on what’s happening outside. Users will soon see an option for weather-based playlists in the Concierge section of Songza’s apps and Website.

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Tablets to Continue Eating Away at PC Share in 2014 – Gartner predicts that worldwide shipments of desktops and laptops will land at 276.7 million this year, down from 296.1 million last year. By 2015, that will drop even further to 263 million. Tablets, meanwhile, will see a nice jump this year – from 195.4 million units shipped in 2013 to 270.7 million this year and 349.1 million in 2015. That will be aided by adoption of tablets in markets outside of the U.S. – and by people buying devices other than the Apple iPad.

Security:

Multiple Pinterest Accounts Hacked, Flooded With Butt Pics – If you log onto Pinterest and see that one of your friends has suddenly developed a fixation with weight loss ads and butt pics like the ones below, don’t click on the pins. Multiple accounts have been hacked over the last hour and flooded with spam. We’ve emailed Pinterest for comment. To keep your account safe and free from unwanted butt pics and other spam, report suspicious pins, be wary about third-party apps, and check destination links before you repin content.

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Philips Smart TVs wide open to Gmail cookie theft, other serious hacks – The hacks work against Philips Smart televisions that have a feature known as Miracast enabled, Luigi Auriemma, a researcher with Malta-based ReVuln (Twitter handle @revuln), told Ars. Miracast allows TVs to act as Wi-Fi access points that nearby computers and smartphones can connect to so their screen output can be displayed on the larger set. The hacking vulnerability is the result of a recent firmware update that allows anyone within range to connect to the TV, as long as they know the hard-coded authentication password “Miracast.”

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30-Second Tech Trick: Get Facebook Hack Notifications for Your Account – Here’s how to sign up to receive an email or a text message if a stranger logs into your Facebook account.

Experts Found That Mt.Gox Lost A Mere 386 Bitcoin Due To Transaction Malleability – In the long, kabuki saga that is the fall of Mt.Gox, one point seemed always clear: the company lost loads of bitcoin to hackers using a bug called transaction malleability. It seems, however that this is wrong. According to a team at the ETH Zurich University, the company allegedly lost only 386 BTC or $200,000, nowhere close to the 744,408 bitcoins rumored to have been lost in the attack.

School pays teen $70K after taking her Facebook password – A Minnesota teen posts disparaging remarks about a teacher’s aide on Facebook. The school takes action. Now it has decided to pay for that action.

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.

Company News:

Google, Facebook, Twitter face lawsuit over ‘illegible, incomprehensible’ privacy policies – A French consumer group is taking action over the three companies’ refusal to alter their terms and conditions on privacy – including sending French users to documents in English.

India Fines Google For Not Complying With Antitrust Probe – India’s competition watchdog has imposed a fine of $166,000 on Google for delay in submitting details needed as part of a two-year-old antitrust probe. The probe focuses on whether Google abused its dominant position in the business of Internet search and advertising.

Judge throws out lawsuit lobbed at Facebook for using kids’ pics in targeted ads – The suit accused the firm of “commercial misappropriation” of the names and pics of minors who were using the social network by sticking them in targeted advertising. The case was hoping for class action status representing all minors who had used Facebook and had their names stuck in an ad. But District Judge Richard Seeborg said that the folks trying to sue Facebook had failed to show that its “statement of rights and responsibilities” (SRR) was unenforceable. This statement, which governs the use of the site, was equivalent to written consent to the use of their names and profile photos for anyone who signed up, the judge said.

Sprint chairman: US market needs real price war – Masayoshi Son tells attendees at the CCA Expo in Texas that the company needs more than its partnerships with rural operators to take on the duopoly of AT&T and Verizon.

Games and Entertainment:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Game Launches on Android – After teasing it a few weeks ago, Gameloft has released the new Captain America game on Android. An iOS version is coming soon, but for the time being we’re defending truth, justice, and the American way on Android alone. Unlike most of Gameloft’s Marvel tie-ins, this game is a beat ’em up as opposed to an open world adventure. Though, it might still strike your fancy.

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Amazon may soon provide free video streaming for all: A Prime membership may no longer be needed – Amazon is gearing up to launch a free video streaming service for both television and music videos, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The videos would be ad-supported in the vein of Hulu and YouTube, and the service would reportedly follow the launch of Amazon’s as-yet-unannounced streaming device.

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Evolve preview: Playing as the evil monster for once—and loving it – Playing as part of a four-person monster-hunting team in a recent hands-on demo of Evolve went pretty much as I expected. My team’s first match in the new cooperative first-person shooter—which is being made by Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios for 2K Games—saw one team member lending support with heavy weapons, another keeping the team alive, a third trapping the monster, and a fourth (me, in this case) killing that monster. All in all, it was an enjoyable if somewhat standard variant on class-based, co-op, first-person shooters like Left 4 Dead or Battlefield. But it was playing as that monster that really made me eager to keep playing.

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On the fence about Watch Dogs? This new video will change that – Ubisoft has successfully captures the hearts and minds of gamers all over the world with Watch Dogs. This next gen game brings together so many great gameplay elements, it’s hard to describe in a sentence or two what exactly that game is about. As it turns out, this is both a good thing and a bad thing, as some would-be preorderers are left wondering how gameplay is actually going to work.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch as driver’s phone captures celestial road rage instant karma – On a Florida highway, a man is tailgating in his very large truck. He finally offers the driver he’s following his middle finger. Then the gods offer him retribution. Now it’s all over YouTube.

iFixit boss: Apple has ‘done everything it can to put repair guys out of business’ – Fixing and upgrading iOS devices can be a rewarding business opportunity, so long as you don’t mind having to fight Apple every step of the way. So says the founder of iFixit, who spoke at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco on Thursday. The repair outfit’s CEO Kyle Wiens said there is little or no information for servicing the handheld gizmos: everything his company does, from its famous tear downs of new hardware to the manuals and how-to guides it publishes, are put together without any more access to Apple than is enjoyed by the average person on the street.

Watch a woman receive a 3D-printed skull implant – The surgery took place three months ago, and the medical team is happy to report that the young woman’s condition has improved dramatically. Her vision has been fully restored and go so far as to say that she’s now symptom-free. And because of the high level of precision that the Australian fabricators were able to achieve, there’s virtually no way to tell that a massive portion of her skull has been replaced.

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Foodini Is A 3D Printer That Lets You Print Dishes With Fresh Ingredients – Foodini is a 3D printer for foodstuffs. Its Florida-based makers are hoping their time-saving device becomes as ubiquitous on kitchen countertops as the microwave oven has become but also gets more people cooking with fresh ingredients, rather than reaching for that pre-processed packet.

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Do ‘smart pills’ really make you smart? – It’s one of the dirty little secrets of high-level academia: drugs. No, not hard drugs like cocaine or heroine (though don’t underestimate the use of LSD among geniuses). Just as we find at the highest levels of sport, many of the giants of intellectual achievement are using drugs to improve their performance. For a mathematician, that means one thing: cognitive enhancement. But is there any truth the idea that “smart drugs” can make a normal person better?

Facebook working on drones for Internet.org mission – Earlier this month, word surfaced that Facebook would be acquiring Titan Aerospace, maker of drones, to help bring Internet access to under-connected areas around the world. Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Connectivity Labs is working on building drones, among other things, to accomplish that goal.

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4D theater opens in LA this summer with moving seats and smells – About a year ago, Japan got its first 4-D movie using 4DX technology when Iron Man 3 hit theaters. The US is set to get its first 4-D theater this summer when a South Korean firm called CJ Group brings a 4-D theater to Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 in LA.

Something to think about:

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

–   Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Today’s Free Downloads:

Pixopedia – MajorGeek Says: Pixopedia is another free graphics program to add to your collection. It comes portable so it’s is easy to run and move around and has a lot of the features you find in the competition and maybe more. One of the coolest features I found was the ability to use buttons or tool panels. Once you become familiar with the buttons or icons that surround the program, it becomes easy to simply click on an icon rather than go to the standard panels. It will take a bit of getting used to with a new program, but it’s neat. There are a ton of shapes, brushes and other filters available. Give this one a whirl, I think you will be impressed.

Facebook Password Decryptor – Facebook Password Decryptor is the FREE software to instantly recover Facebook account passwords stored by popular Web Browsers and Messengers. Most of the applications store the Login passwords to prevent hassle of entering the password every time by the user. Often these applications use their own proprietary encryption mechanism to store the login passwords including Facebook account passwords. FacebookPasswordDecryptor automatically crawls through each of these applications and instantly recovers the encrypted Facebook account password. It presents both GUI interface as well as command line version, the later is more helpful for Penetration testers in their work. Apart from normal users who can use it to recover their lost password, it can come in handy for Forensic officials who can get hold of any stored Facebook Login passwords which can give vital clue in their investigation.

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EventSentry – Failed service? Defective hard drive in a RAID? Database running out of space? Intrusion attempts resulting in logon failures? Performance bottlenecks? EventSentry will notify you immediately when important events occur and take corrective action before they result in expensive disruptions. The modular design and wide spectrum of features make EventSentry suitable for just about any scenario – including compliance, health & network monitoring, troubleshooting, inventory and much more.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Sees Government Requests For Information Balloon 120% Over Four Years – Google has seen a tremendous increase in requests for information made by the government, the company revealed in an update to its Transparency Report today. The updated report includes the number of requests made during the second half of 2013, and Google notes in its blog post announcing the news that total requests are up 120 percent since Google first began publishing these numbers. Google admits that its total user base has increased as well over that time, but also says that more governments around the world are making requests than ever before. The new Transparency Report now also shows governments that made fewer than 30 requests during a six-month period, which were previously excluded from the document.

Australian government requests to Google increase fivefold – Australian law enforcement and government agencies have ramped up their requests to Google for user information since Google began disclosing the number requests it receives in 2009 by a factor of five. In the latest transparency report statistics released by the internet giant overnight, the number of times Australian government agencies that requested user information for criminal investigations was up to 780 requests relating to 944 accounts for the six months ending December 31, 2013. This is up from 645 requests for 807 accounts in the previous six-month period. Google handed over some information from those requests in the last six months of 2013 around 70 percent of the time, the company said. Accessing information from Google is increasingly becoming a tool used by law enforcement agencies in Australia, with the number of requests over the past four years increasing fivefold from 155 requests in the six months to December 31 2009, up to 780 in the last six months of 2013.

Obama says it’s time for the government to get out of phone metadata business – President Barack Obama has said he wants to shut down the telephone surveillance program that has been the subject of intense controversy since it was revealed in top-secret documents published last summer. The US government will stop maintaining its database of telephone call “metadata,” which includes all numbers dialed in the US as well as their duration and other data. A fact sheet lays out the details of the changes, and they are significant. The data itself will still exist in the hands of the phone companies, as it always has (it’s the same data on your telephone bill), but it can only be queried when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves requests for specific numbers. That’s the difference between the government going to a judge and saying “We’d like to see the metadata for 555-123-4567 and all of his/her contacts” and the government already having all those contacts in its own database with no supervision for individual searches.

How the NSA would get phone data under Obama administration’s new plan – One of the key points in the “fact sheet” that the White House published today about its plan to end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone record data is that while the NSA will no longer have possession of phone data, it will still have access to it. Under the newly proposed program, the White House document notes, the NSA would still have the ability to request data without a new court order in an emergency, and “[telecommunications] companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.” In order to be able to live up to that mandate and deliver datasets for all numbers that are two “hops” from a specified phone number in a “timely manner,” one of two things would have to happen: telecom companies would have to have the capability to perform the same sort of analytic searches that the NSA currently performs with its Mainway database onsite; or the NSA would have to be able to make its own index of telco databases that would allow it to perform such searches. And while in either scenario the data available to the NSA would be a much smaller amount than what the agency currently retains (5 years’ worth), it would still give the NSA the ability to request large swaths of phone record data.

YouTube Latest Site To Be Blocked In Turkey – YouTube is the latest victim in Turkey’s ongoing assault on social media. This comes one week after Turkey revoked access to Twitter within its borders. A Google spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that some users in Turkey is not able to access YouTube and it is not caused by an a technical issue on its side. The company is looking into the situation. The removal of YouTube happened just hours after a leaked recording was published on YouTube that was reportedly a conversation of Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general discussing different plans that could lead Turkey into war with Jihadist militants in Syria.

Feds want an expanded ability to hack criminal suspects’ computers – The United States Department of Justice wants to broaden its ability to hack criminal suspects’ computers according to a new legal proposal that was first published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. If passed as currently drafted, federal authorities would gain an expanded ability to conduct “remote access” under a warrant against a target computer whose location is unknown or outside of a given judicial district. It would also apply in cases where that computer is part of a larger network of computers spread across multiple judicial districts. In the United States, federal warrants are issued by judges who serve one of the 94 federal judicial districts and are typically only valid for that particular jurisdiction. The 402-page document entitled “Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules” is scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming Department of Justice (DOJ) meeting next month in New Orleans.

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