Monthly Archives: April 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 30, 2014

Florida man uses iPhone to film arrest — and gets arrested;  Free iPhone use? FreedomPop proves it’s possible;  12 apps to keep kids entertained no matter what;  The ‘I hate passwords’ guide;  Watching mobile content on your TV: A quick overview;  Bluetooth Ring That Wants to Replace Your Mouse;  Beyond basic TV settingsMinecraft: A Guide for ‘Old’ People; Adobe Releases Critical Security Update for Flash Player;  Firefox 29 Launches With Major Redesign;  Tor Browser Bundle: Protect your privacy.

Florida man uses iPhone to film arrest — and gets arrested – A Miami DJ says he followed police instructions to back away, but ends up in custody and facing charges. “I was threatened,” the police officer says, “by his presence.” “Police are afraid of the citizenry with cameras,” said Estrada’s lawyer, Jonathan Perazzo. There seems to be some evidence of this from all over America. There was the case last year, when police in San Diego seemed to call a Samsung Galaxy a “weapon.” In Bakersfield, Calif., also last year, police were accused of taking a cell phone and erasing the evidence it contained of their behavior. On Long Island, N.Y., a police officer stepped into a private driveway in an apparent attempt to stop someone washing his car on his own property. This, happily, was filmed a cell phone for all to see.

The ‘I hate passwords’ guide – Until a safer, saner alternative is available, we’re stuck with an insecure, outdated authentication technique. Here’s how to make the best of a bad situation while we wait for services to get serious about verifying identities.

Free iPhone use? FreedomPop proves it’s possible – FreedomPop, one of a growing number of mobile service providers that deliver services atop a traditional provider’s network, is enabling its customers to use iPhones at no charge. The company is now selling a refurbished iPhone 5 for $349. After picking up the device, customers can use the handset for free, thanks to FreedomPop’s no-charge plan, offering 200 voice minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of data per month. Those who don’t want to buy a handset from FreedomPop can bring Sprint-compatible iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, or iPhone 5 handsets to FreedomPop and sign up for the same plan.

Manage your hard drive space with Windows 8.1’s hidden, helpful tools – Windows 8.1’s PC Settings app has two great features to help you manage your computer’s disk space.

Yahoo Revamps iPhone Mail App – The new Yahoo Mail app for iPhone and iPod touch offers a smorgasbord of information – not just email. Version 3.0 is rolling out in the App Store to U.S. over the next few weeks.

Watching mobile content on your TV: A quick overview – They have similar names and do comparable things, but the various tech for getting content from your phone or tablet onto your TV work in very different ways.

Meet Nod, the Bluetooth Ring That Wants to Replace Your Mouse – As touch-based surfaces become increasingly common for how we control our various devices, Nod Labs has introduced an interesting alternative: Control where there’s no surface at all. The company on Tuesday unveiled Nod, a Bluetooth-enabled gesture control ring that lets you communicate with your devices without needing to reach out and touch them.

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Beyond basic TV settings – Once you’ve got the basics (contrast, brightness, color, etc.) set, there are still dozens of adjustments on your TV. What do they mean, and what’s the right setting? I’m glad you asked.

Modify Web image text with Project Naptha – In what appears to be nothing short of JavaScript black magic, Project Naptha allows you to select and modify text from any Web image. Using character-recognition technology derived from several sources, such as Microsoft Research Lab and Google’s Tesseract open-source OCR engine, the Project Naptha extension also enables you to remove, translate, and edit text in Web images. You simply move your cursor over text to highlight and start editing.

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Minecraft: A Guide for ‘Old’ People – Over the Easter break, my 10-year-old nephew breathlessly bragged to my wife and I about how he had recently raised enough donations to pay for a Minecraft server that he runs and even codes himself. I smiled kindly and told him how awesome that all was despite the fact that I had only the vaguest notion of what he was talking about. And my incomprehension wasn’t solely due to the storytelling limits of an excited 10 year old. Indeed, there is a vast digital phenomenon known as “Minecraft” that I somehow completely missed out on. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience while interacting with the younger generation?

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12 apps to keep kids entertained no matter what – It’s hard to argue—all we need to keep our kids entertained is tablet or smartphone with a full charge. But finding all those engaging and educational apps is anything but easy, so we’ve helped narrow down the selection.

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Firefox 29 Launches With Major Redesign, Firefox Account Integration – Mozilla is launching its most important release of Firefox in a very long time today. After almost two years of working on its Australis redesign, the company is now finally ready to bring it to its stable release channel. After loading it for the first time, chances are you’ll be slightly confused. This is Firefox’s most radical redesign since it moved to its rapid release schedule a few years ago. The new version looks significantly more like Chrome than the old Firefox.

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Microsoft adds printing support to Office for iPad – Microsoft launched versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Apple’s iPad just over a month ago, but the number one missing feature was the ability to print documents from those apps. That has been finally rectified with the addition of printing support for all those apps in the first major update for Office for iPad.

Getting started with the Google Camera app for Android – On Wednesday, Google released its standalone Camera app through the Play store. The release not only makes updating the app through the Play store possible for Nexus owners, but those running Android KitKat 4.4 now have the option to use Google’s app. The update refines the user interface, makes the settings menu easier to navigate (love you for this, Google), and adds a few new features. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

The 10 Most Useless iPhone Apps – With more than a million apps available for download, there are bound to be a few clunkers. Remember the “I Am Rich” app from 2008? It cost $1,000 and did little more than display a glowing red jewel that, when tapped, displayed a message that read: “I am rich I deserv [sic] it I am good, healthy &successful.” Notice how it didn’t say “smart.” But that’s certainly not the only questionable app in the App Store. We found 10 others that are just as bizarre and useless; check them out in the slideshow.

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Whatever happened to Blu-ray? – The flamewar after 2008’s “Blu-ray is dead” post re-ignited a couple of months ago. So, what DID happen to Blu-ray? The news is not all bad – and far from all good.

Security:

Adobe Releases Critical Security Update for Flash Player – Software maker Adobe has released an emergency security fix for its Flash Player, addressing an active security vulnerability that allows hackers to remotely take over your computer without your knowledge. This vulnerability, named CVE-2014-0515, has the potential to affect Windows, Mac OS X and Linux computers, though so far, only attacks on Windows computers have been detected. The bug allows for remote code execution, potentially giving hackers wide-reaching access into any computer actively running Flash.

Google’s Chrome browser “blindly” trusting Heartbleed affected sites – How safe are you from Heartbleed? After the widespread security bug was discovered, many sites claimed to have safeguarded against it by resetting their OpenSSL cryptography. A new study takes a look at one of the more popular browsers in Chrome, noting it is nearly useless in spotting revoked certificates.

Target finally implements chip and PIN card protections: Barn door closed, but the horses are three towns away – Embattled US big-box retailer Target, still struggling to handle one of the largest and most expensive card heists in history, is implementing chip and PIN payment card systems for its stores. The transition for the the new cards is set to kick off in 2015 as the company moves both its branded and co-branded payment cards to the new, more secure format.

Hacker shouts at baby through baby monitor – An Ohio family is asleep when a man’s voice reportedly is heard coming from baby’s room. It turns out to be someone who thought it funny to hack into the device.

Heartbleed’s silver lining: People are finally thinking about online security – The security flaw got more consumers to change their passwords and start using two-factor authentication.

Company News:

Amazon Spotlights Wearables With New Store – Amazon on Tuesday launched a new online hub where you can find and buy everything from activity trackers and smartwatches to wearable cameras and more. The new Amazon wearable technology store offers gadgets from established brands like Samsung, Jawbone, and GoPro as well as newbies like Basis and Misfit. Amazon said it would also offer devices from brands like Narrative and Bionym in the future.

Twitter beats estimates, but shares slammed on user growth worries – Sales more than doubled as Twitter posted better-than-expected earnings. But the stock falls as Wall Street frets about the pace of user engagement.

Google rebuffs anonymous accusation of AdSense fraud – Google brushes off a self-described Google employee’s account of serious and widespread AdSense fraud as a “complete fiction.”

AMD finally gets serious about tablets with Beema and Mullins APU – On an architectural level both Beema and Mullins are not that different to Kabini and Temash, but this hasn’t stopped AMD packing the APUs with some cool new features and making significant improvements.

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Games and Entertainment:

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Hits PCs in June – Attention, gamers: garden warfare is about to go PC. Electronic Arts’s PopCap Games on Monday announced that its quirky shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare will be making its way to PCs this June. The game, which first arrived on Xbox in February, will be available for PCs through Origin and other retailers beginning on June 24.

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Watch Dogs Season Pass is well worth the $20 asking price – Ubisoft has been drumming up plenty of excitement for their new first person shooter in a world where a smartphone can apparently control the whole city, but today’s announcement revealed lots of details about what is going to be waiting for you after the game launches. The Watch Dogs Season Pass has been detailed, and it’s an impressive list of goodies.

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What BioShock would’ve looked like in Unreal Engine 4 – The original BioShock, released in 2007, remains on everyone’s minds to this day, with fan art continually flooding the internet, the game’s now legendary underwater city Rapture being recalled in games media on an almost regular basis, and fans giving the game their own modern polish. YouTube user noodlespagoodle managed to grab some assets from the original game, and place them into Unreal Engine 4, giving us a rough impression of what the game would look like had it been made using the latest technology.

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It’s not TV, it’s… YouTube? HBO turns to video site for series debuts – You can currently watch the first episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on the video-sharing site. And it’s not the first time the pay TV channel has made full episodes available for free on YouTube.

Wolfenstein gameplay trailer details mayhem vs stealth – If you’re a fan of the recently revealed ninja-esque game THIEF, you’re aware that we’re in an age of “choose your own” gameplay. You can make a game your own, and developers encourage this with bonuses and tags in either fashion. With the newer – not yet released – game Wolfenstein (2014), you’ll find at least two kinds of gameplay going on.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Vote Now for Your Favorite ‘Doodle 4 Google’ Entry – The Web giant kicked off the competition in February, asking U.S. students in grades K-12 to come up with ideas to make the world a better place. And they did not disappoint. You can check out all the finalists’ submissions on Google’s website now, and vote for your favorite from each age group through May 9.

MIT’s Bitcoin Club To Give $100 In BTC To Every Student – YOU get bitcoin! And YOU get bitcoin. In fact, everyone at MIT gets bitcoin. Two ambitious MIT students, CS sophomore Jeremy Rubin and MBA candidate Dan Elitzer, have raised over $500,000 so that all 4,528 undergrads at MIT can have $100 worth of BTC. Why? They want to educate MIT students about cryptocurrencies and get all on-campus merchants bitcoin ready by next year.

NASA honors William Shatner (AKA Captain Kirk) – After nearly 50 years of warping across galaxies and saving the universe from a variety of alien threats and celestial disasters, Star Trek’s William Shatner finally went where no other member of Starfleet has gone before. This weekend, the acclaimed actor and director was honored with NASA’s Distinguished Public Service medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency to non-government personnel.

Police drone suffers malfunction, crashes in lake – The use of drones in law enforcement is a touchy subject, drawing critics on both sides of the fence. One such recent instance of this was the purchase of a rather expensive helicopter drone by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, which crashed last Friday into Lake Conroe.

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24 Very Ambitious Visualizations Of The Internet – Ever since the very first message was exchanged between computers almost 45 years ago, people have been very imaginative when describing, or visualizing, the network of computers, routers and servers that comprises the Internet and holds the World Wide Web. As the late Ted Stevens’ “series of tubes” comment exemplifies, we tend to get very creative when illustrating information’s digital connective tissue (Q.E.D.). Here are some of the most well, ambitious examples we’ve found. And yes, very many of them allude to literal surfing.

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Florida commuter’s illegal jammer blocked more than cell talkers – Some drivers would love to have a cellphone-free bubble around their cars, but when a Florida man allegedly created one every day on his commute, it didn’t necessarily make the highway a safer place. Jason R. Humphreys of Seffner, Florida, operated a cellphone jammer in his Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicle during his daily commute for as long as two years before the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the local sheriff tracked him down, the FCC said on Tuesday. Now he’s facing $48,000 in fines, with 30 days to pay or file a response.

What the tornado-spewing storm looked like from space – NASA shares a video of animated images taken by satellite of the destructive storm that spawned a series of deadly tornadoes.

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Something to think about:

“There is no such thing as “fun for the whole family.”

–    Jerry Seinfeld

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows Hotfix Downloader – A lightweight and easy to use downloader which allows you to find and apply the latest Microsoft Windows updates.

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Tweak-SSD – The original Tweak-SSD – Compared to competitive products, Tweak-SSD does not require any user knowledge when it comes to activating SSD related system tweaks. The included wizard guides the user from one tweak to the other and suggests the best setting by intuitive red-green switch buttons, and an additional system status gauge visualizing the system’s optimization status. Tweak-SSD works on Windows 7 and Windows 8, both on 32bit and 64bit editions. It includes an English user interface.

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Tor Browser Bundle: Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis – The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked. The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US court orders Microsoft to release data stored offshore – Microsoft has been ordered by a US district court to release a customer’s emails and related data which is stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland but the company is planning to oppose the order.

In the past, Microsoft had denied such requests for data of US based customers stored outside the country, however, judge James Francis of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, has ruled that warrants for online data are not similar to offline data requests and Microsoft will have to provide the data such as account holder’s name, credit card details and email messages sought by US legal bodies.

Microsoft has reaffirmed that it will continue to challenge such data requests and said that, “This is the first step toward getting this issue in front of courts that have the authority to correct the government’s longstanding views on the application of search warrants to content stored digitally outside the United States.”

Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft, David Howard, has mentioned in a blog post that, “the U.S. government doesn’t have the power to search a home in another country, nor should it have the power to search the content of email stored overseas.”

White House to world: We don’t hoard IT security vulnerabilities: Or if we do, it’s only in the national interest – Backing up the NSA’s claim that it was caught by surprise by the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug, the White House has tried to explain the rules under which it allows agencies to hoard security vulnerabilities.

In this White House blog post, cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel says leaving a huge number of vulnerabilities undisclosed would not be in America’s national interest: “Building up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest,” he writes.

If you take that as meaning the White House is going to tell the NSA to disclose vulnerabilities it finds, however, think again. The post pirouettes immediately to defending vulnerability-hoarding: “that is not the same as arguing that we should completely forgo this tool [exploiting vulnerabilities rather than disclosing them – The Register] as a way to conduct intelligence collection”.

White House report on big data and privacy: Too little, too late – A review ordered by the Obama administration on big data and privacy, due this week, is expected to include warnings about data dealing’s potential for abuse and discrimination, in issues from housing to hiring.

The report was assigned in January to White House counselor John Podesta in the blowback over government surveillance and NSA data collection practices.

Podesta wouldn’t reveal details of his report to President Obama in yesterday’s preliminary interview with the Associated Press, though Podesta told AP he had newfound “concern” over how big data “could be used to target consumers and lead to discriminatory practices.”

But it may be too little, too late for millions of powerless consumers up against nonconsensual collection, use and sale of their personal information by online profiteers for decades.

Here’s how the NSA decides to tell you about a zero day – or not – The recent Heartbleed bug has put the spotlight back on zero day flaws — hitherto unknown and unfixed security flaws — and how they are used by the US government as part of secret surveillance projects.

In a blogpost, White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel reiterated that the US government had no prior knowledge of the existence of Heartbleed, one of the most high profile IT security flaws of recent times, but he acknowledged that the case had re-ignited debate about whether the government should ever withhold knowledge of a computer vulnerability from the public — that is, whether the intelligence or military benefits of a vulnerability outweigh the benefit to the broader internet of making the problem public and getting it fixed.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 29, 2014

Internet Explorer Security Flaw: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself;  US arrogance puts further doubt on cloud data sovereignty;  Zero-day Flash bug under active attack in Windows;  Get started using Google Play Music;  Group Video Calling Goes Free On Skype;  Spring cleaning: Turn old movies and video games into cash;  Popcorn Time Is Coming To Android;  How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows;  20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know;  AOL confirms security breach from spam attack;  Unpickable lock promises to keep your bike extra safe.

Internet Explorer Security Flaw: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself – A security flaw affecting most versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser is making the rounds. If you use IE, you’ll want to follow one or more of these four steps in order to keep yourself safe.

When $324 Million Isn’t Nearly Enough – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe have agreed to a $324 million settlement in response to a suit brought by employees of the firms who were financially impacted by their agreements to not hire from each other. That action suppressed the wages of their staff. The $324 million figure is paltry and an embarrassment. (Modern day pirates operate in our midst, and we simply shrug. In a nutshell – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe stole vast sums of money. Yet, no one – no one – has faced the only legitimate sanction – criminal charges. Why not? Please do however, continue to teach your children that honesty is the best policy – sarcasm off)

US arrogance puts further doubt on cloud data sovereignty – Customers of U.S. cloud providers should seriously rethink their service contracts, following a U.S. judge’s obnoxious ruling that local search warrants must include customer data stored overseas.

New ways to manage mobile device security – Mobile devices increase productivity and extend services beyond the office, but also add security concerns, particularly with BYOD. Mobile security management can help.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Get started using Google Play Music – Google Play Music offers many powerful features to help centralize and manage a music library for free.

Google Plus is turning negative, but don’t bet on it going away – Vic Gundotra’s resignation has cast doubt on the future of Google Plus, the social networking site he launched in 2011. But despite forecasts of doom, the survival of Orkut suggests Google won’t close it down.

Group Video Calling Goes Free On Skype For Mac, Windows And Xbox One – Skype introduced group video calling officially back in 2010, and offers support for up to 10 people, but the feature has been a premium service for paying customers since it exited beta. The group calling feature is now free, however, with Skype announcing general availability for everyone on Windows, Mac and Xbox One today.

Reset your Android phone to the default launcher – Few third-party launchers have an “exit” option. So how do you undo this change?

Spring cleaning: Turn old movies and video games into cash – While DVDs make for fun drink coasters and game cases make for good door stops, there’s a better use for all involved. Take your movies and games and turn them into money. There are a few methods to make this happen, but before I cover them, I need to make sure I point out the obvious: the discs themselves have to be playable. A disc with a ton of scratches that skips or is unplayable is better off as a Frisbee — and retailers aren’t afraid to tell you that.

Key questions when selecting a cloud-based provider – Companies should remember to align potential benefits with business objectives, and be prepared to ask vendors critical questions about the architecture and management of the service being considered.

Popcorn Time Is Coming To Android As Soon As Tomorrow – Popcorn Time’s evolution continues. A popular fork of the original software is launching on Android as soon as tomorrow, one of the developers tells TechCrunch. The software also recently gained TV shows from HBO and others, making it a one-stop-shop for all your pirating needs.

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Microsoft increases OneDrive For Business storage space to 1TB per user – Microsoft has announced it has increased the amoung of storage space for OneDrive For Business from 25GB to 1TB per user, along with offering the same amount of space for Office 365 ProPlus customers.

How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows – Ubuntu offers three ways to launch the operating system without hurting Windows. Two of these options require a bootable Ubuntu CD or flash drive, so I’ll first discuss how to set up those devices.

20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know – You’ve probably heard of Evernote. Some call it a note-taking service, or an organization tool, or an archiving platform, but none of those terms are enough to convey just how much you can do with it. Evernote is, quite simply, an online spot to store anything and everything you might find of interest later. The more you add, the more useful it becomes.

Security:

Windows XP users won’t get a patch for serious Internet Explorer 0-day exploit – Microsoft gave plenty of warning about the end of Windows XP support. Now it’s time to see what happens when a high-priority security advisory is issued and Windows XP users can’t get their hands on the fix.

AOL confirms security breach from spam attack – AOL has issued a warning to users that their personal information has been stolen by attackers, a week after the security of its servers was questioned. The net giant on Monday said that the same hackers behind last week’s spam deluge were able to infiltrate its servers and lift information including email addresses, contact lists and home mailing addresses. Additionally, encrypted passwords and security question-answer pairs were stolen.

Zero-day Flash bug under active attack in Windows threatens OS X, Linux too – A day after reports that attackers are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, researchers warned of a separate active campaign that was targeting a critical vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash media player.

‘Triple handshake’ bug another big problem for TLS/SSL – You could miss it if you weren’t paying close attention through all the Heartbleed blather, but last week Apple patched a severe problem in their TLS/SSL code in iOS and OS X. An attacker in a privileged position, i.e., between two parties engaged in SSL/TLS (henceforth just “TLS”), could intercept and decode communications or inject commands and data. The bad news is that this isn’t just a bug in Apple’s code; it’s a bug in the TLS protocol itself, a protocol which appears to be quite a mess.

Company News:

AMD Beema and Mullins Low-Power APU Preview – Low power computing is an extremely important market for chipset and device manufacturers alike. ARM has already established itself in this area and their products and derivatives from manufacturers like Qualcomm are nearly universally found in iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Intel may be a market share leader in this space, but AMD believes that their next generation chips will be the best. A refinement of their work on APUs in the past few years, the new chips – ‘Beema’ for mainstream laptops, and ‘Mullins’ for low power tablets – are set to be strong contenders up against Intel’s Bay Trail and low-power Haswell offerings.

Microsoft and OEMs offer Windows 8.1 devices to U.S. schools starting under $300 – Microsoft has announced a new program for U.S. school systems that will allow them to purchase Windows 8.1 devices from various OEMs with prices that start at under $300 each.

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Rovio releases earnings, shows ‘Angry Birds’ not enough – Rovio, the studio behind the once-popular Angry Birds franchise, has released their 2013 earnings. The 37 million euro in earnings suggests a healthy game studio, but when compared to the 77 million euro brought in for 2012, things may not be so rosy for the Angry Birds team. Further clouding their future is net profits of 26.9 million euro — a big drop-off from the 55.5 million euro earned in 2012.

Games and Entertainment:

PC gaming now brings in more money than console gaming – Anyone who has been playing games on the PC for a while has likely gotten used to regular, overblown pronouncements that computer gaming is on the verge of dying in the face of cheaper, easier-to-use console competition. Gamers weary of rebuffing those charges should take heart from recent statements from DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole that PC gaming is far from dying—and it’s actually outperforming the console sector overall these days.

Child of Light Review: A World as Lovely as It Is Dark and Deep – It’s easy to be seduced by the visual charm and intricacy of a game like Child of Light. It has so little competition, and high fidelity hand-drawn artwork looks prettier than ever on high-definition television screens with resolutions approaching the point at which individual pixels become as undifferentiated as paint on canvas.

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Slightly Mad Studios has made Project Cars look better than real life – The ultimate aim of simulation games is to present a world that is as close to real life as possible, both in experience and visuals. With forthcoming racing title Project Cars, it looks as though developer Slightly Mad Studios hasn’t just matched real life with the visuals, they’ve exceeded it. Don’t believe that’s possible with current gaming hardware? Just watch the video before making up your mind.

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Gears of War, Age of Empires and more Microsoft games could be turned into Xbox TV shows – Microsoft is looking into turning some of its other game properties into TV series that would be shown as part of its Xbox Originals program, including Gears of Wars, Age of Empires and more.

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Yahoo to launch original comedy series – Not to be outdone by the growing proliferation of original series TV shows, Yahoo plans to launch its own television-length comedy series (two of them, to be precise), which will be made available to viewers on the company’s mobile apps and websites.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s self-driving cars now able to navigate crowded city streets – Google’s self-driving cars are getting smarter. After logging nearly 700,000 miles without a driver, the autonomous cars are capable of reacting to a multitude of scenarios unique to city driving. The company released a video which shows one of the cars driving through Mountain View, California, home of Google’s global headquarters. The autonomous car was able to safely navigate a parked car protruding into its lane, avoid a biker weaving in and out of the bike lane, and approach railroad crossings with prudent caution.

Canada’s National Parks Are Getting Wi-Fi: Expect a Flood of Grizzly Selfies – Canada has decided to install wi-fi at up to 20 thrillingly remote locations in some of its stunning national parks. Because what good is enjoying the solitude of the great outdoors when you can’t upload some photos to Facebook?

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Unpickable lock promises to keep your bike extra safe – A new bike lock has shown up that has been dubbed the Forever Lock, and it’s approaching the lock from an entirely unique perspective, one that will undoubtedly require a bit of reverse engineering before someone can free it from whatever it is connected to without a key.

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Pokémon X and Y toys and cards in the next McDonald’s Happy Meal – Just after its Skylanders and My Little Pony campaign, McDonald’s will continue its relentless assault on kids’ toys that adults will actually want, and will release these Pokémon items. Each toy, seen below, can be scanned into McDonald’s mobile app in order to unlock mini-games.

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LendUp Raises $50 Million To Disrupt Payday Lending – LendUp wants to redefine payday lending and make the loan experience for the millions of unbanked Americans more fair and transparent. Rather than force Americans to turn to predatory lenders and banks, with their high interest rates, LendUp wants to give those looking for a speedy fix to a short-term financial need a way to borrow money without hidden fees, costly rollovers and high interest rates.

Something to think about:

“Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

–    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Multi Commander – Multi Commander is a multi-tabbed file manager that is an alternative to the standard Windows Explorer. It uses the very popular and efficient dual-panel layout. Multi Commander has a everything you need in your daily works with files to make your work fast and efficient. It has all the standard features like a file manager has like copy, move, rename, view. But Multi Commanders big strength is the special features that allow you to do advanced task with ease. Like Auto-unpacking, Auto-sorting, Browse inside archives, Workspace support, Scripting, Searching and a lot more. And it allows you to do everything from the keyboard.

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Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner – Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner checks your system for Windows Vulnerabilities. It guides you to update with the right patch to make your system secure. This program is updated regularly by Proland Software to detect all the vulnerabilities discovered. Once the Scan is completed, Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner lists the vulnerabilities detected, their risk level and the download location of the patch. It also creates the log file named Protector_Plus_Windows_Vulnerability_Scan.htm in the folder from where Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner was executed.

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Media Player Classic Home Cinema – Media Player Classic – Home Cinema application was designed to be a Media Player Classic but for home cinema usage.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In search of a Magna Carta for the web, the best place to start is with data – The NSA files reveal the tip of a data privacy iceberg about to be struck by a Titanic number of ordinary consumers. Isn’t it time to solve the problems around data privacy?

After Heartbleed, NSA reveals some flaws are kept secret – It’s no secret that the National Security Agency is full of secrets. But, in a rare move, the White House disclosed Monday a bit more about how the NSA works.

In a blog post, White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel detailed when the NSA keeps security vulnerabilities under wraps and when it lets the public know they exist.

“Building up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest,” Daniel wrote. “But that is not the same as arguing that we should completely forgo this tool as a way to conduct intelligence collection, and better protect our country in the long-run.”

Earlier this month, news of the massive Heartbleed bug reverberated across the Internet showing how easily people’s online data could be accessed. This particularly nasty vulnerability — which has the capability to potentially extract people’s usernames, passwords, and credit card information — is said to have affected up to 500,000 websites, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and many more.

Initially, it was reported that the NSA was aware of Heartbleed and failed to let the American public know about its existence, but the agency was quick to deny those allegations.

In his blog post, Daniel reiterates that the government had no knowledge of Heartbleed.

Guardian wins three Webby awards – The Guardian’s NSA Files: Decoded, which gave web users a chance to learn what Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass government surveillance might mean for them, won the Webby in the best practices category.

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John Oliver turns the screw on Keith Alexander – For the first twentysome minutes of the first episode of his new half-hour HBO show, John Oliver seemed in danger of bombing. Then he trapped General Keith Alexander, the recently retired head of the National Security Agency, on camera, and made him sit through a series of NSA rebranding suggestions that included a kitten called Mr Tiggles and, simply, “the Washington Redskins”.

The host gleefully turned the screws on the spy. The general soldiered on. The live studio audience, watching the segment on tape, roared and applauded.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 28, 2014

New hole in Internet Explorer already under attack to hijack PCs;  US judge: our digital search warrants apply ANYWHERE;  Uninstall preloaded Windows 8 apps in bulk with this program;  3 Free Personal Safety Apps That Can Call for Help;  How Ubuntu can help a computer in distress;  Great tips and tricks for Android;  Five things to consider before buying LED bulbs;  Men More Vulnerable to Mobile Malware;  MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter (free).

US judge: our digital search warrants apply ANYWHERE – In a case that will exacerbate concerns in non-American countries about the extra-territorial reach of US laws, a magistrate in the District Court of Southern New York, Judge James Francis has ruled that the tech giant “cannot refuse to turn over customer information and emails stored in other countries when issued a valid search warrant from U.S. law enforcement agencies,” according to Reuters.

Protect your privacy while you browse – It once sounded like paranoia; now it’s more like common sense. Steve asked for safe and secure ways to access the Internet without being tracked by crooks, corporations, and governments. There’s no such thing as complete, 100-percent perfect privacy or security. The Heartbleed vulnerability made that patently clear. But you can lock down your Internet access, making a security breach much less likely.

3 Free Personal Safety Apps That Can Call for Help – Thankfully, if you own a mobile device, you’re never truly alone. If you have an ongoing concern for your safety, there are personal safety services that offer live monitoring, connecting you to a 24/7 dispatch service for $12 – $20 per month. But if you just want a way to warn your contacts if you fail to check-in or otherwise need to send out an SOS, there’s no need to pay. Here are three great, free options for providing a little bit of extra piece of mind.

Uninstall preloaded Windows 8 apps in bulk with this program – Removing all those pre-installed “Metro” apps in Windows 8 hasn’t been so easy, and boy, does Microsoft pre-install a lot of them. (Around 20 in the Windows 8.1 Update, if you’re counting.) For the most part, the only option was to go through each modern app one-by-one, right-clicking the ones you didn’t want, and then selecting “uninstall”—not too difficult, but very manual. A new, free program aims to change all that. Called Windows 8 App Remover, this desktop program automates the process of uninstalling modern UI apps by letting you remove them all at once with just a few clicks, kind of like a Live Tile-hating version of PC Decrapifier.

Six clicks: Great tips and tricks for Android – Android is probably the most versatile mobile platform ever produced. It is so broad there are layers of features buried deep under the facade. These tips will help peel back those layers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hulu bans VPN access over copyright concerns – Hulu has started blocking streams when it detects that you’re connecting from an anonymous VPN. That’s obviously bad news if you’re not a U.S. resident and you’ve been relying on a VPN to gain access to Hulu’s geofenced content. It’s not just envious Canadians (like yours truly) and Europeans who use VPNs and watch Hulu, however. There are plenty of privacy-minded Americans who do — and they’ll be getting blocked, too.

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Microsoft mashes up Wikipedia and Bing in new Windows 8.1 app – Microsoft has released a new Windows 8.1 app called Bing Wikipedia Browser that combines all of the content in the user-created encyclopedia with Bing search engine features.

Samsung Galaxy S5 owners hit by fatal camera error problem – Samsung’s latest phone the Galaxy S5 has a fatal flaw that has been appearing in the wild. The flaw has meant that some owners report that after a few days of using the phone they are confronted with a “Warning: Camera Failed” message that makes the earslab’s high-quality camera stop working. US carrier Verizon acknowledged the flaw in a post to Twitter on Friday, and said it would replace devices affected by the flaw.

Linux to the rescue! How Ubuntu can help a computer in distress – This may sound like sacrilege, but it’s not: Ubuntu Linux can be useful even if you’re a hardcore Windows user. That’s because there’s no way to boot a full Windows system from a USB stick to troubleshoot your PC—well, not without an Enterprise version of Windows and Windows To Go—but anyone can make a free Ubuntu USB drive, CD, or DVD. A Ubuntu live drive can be used as a digital Swiss army knife to troubleshoot all sorts of problems with any PC, whether you need to recover files from a failing computer, diagnose hardware problems, perform a deep virus scan from outside Windows, or even reset a forgotten Windows password.

Haiku Deck: a painless PowerPoint alternative that’s fun to use – We live in a PowerPoint world, but despite Microsoft’s best efforts it’s not that easy to put together a professional looking slide deck with the powerful Office presentation app. The learning curve for more than a few slides with simple bullet points is simply too steep. But a free browser-based alternative called Haiku Deck does a credible job of empowering even novices to create slick presentations with a few mouse clicks. It does this with a wizard-like approach that presents you default slides and several options that you can try out by clicking them.

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Playon gives Chromecast 100 new channels including Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go – Google’s Chromecast was already one of the best gadget buys around, and it’s just gotten a whole lot better. Thanks to the crew at PlayOn, there are now more than 100 channels you can easily stream to your HDTV via Chromecast. Some of the PlayOn channels are duplicates. Apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Crackle, and Vevo had already integrated Chromecast support. MLB.TV also recently updated their app. PlayOn’s update does, however bring loads of new content — everything from ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox to ESPN, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and HBO Go.

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Five things to consider before buying LED bulbs – More than ever, there is also an overwhelming number of LED varieties, and choosing an LED is entirely different from picking up an incandescent. Before you head to the store, find out what you need to know about choosing the right LED bulbs.

Security:

New hole in Internet Explorer already under attack to hijack PCs – Microsoft roused its security teams on a Saturday to issue an advisory about a nasty flaw in its Internet Explorer web browser. The flaw means the browser “may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer.” If that were to happen, “An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website.”

Understanding The Top 5 Mobile Banking Trojans – With thousands of unique malware samples being created every day, it’s easy to forget that many of them are variants of existing malware out in the wild. Researchers group them into malware families to track how they evolve. Poking at mobile malware families felt like falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Where are we going next? We asked Web intelligence company Recorded Future to help us out.

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Crypto Stick is an ultra-secure flash drive that can also replace your passwords – Right now, the device is in its beta stage. Inside that nondescript, black plastic housing hides a small PCB with a microSD slot and a smart card reader. Storage is fully encrypted, and all decryption operations take place on the device. None of the three private keys (signature, encryption, authentication) are ever at risk of being exposed because they never leave the Crypto Stick. To access your data, you simply punch in a PIN when prompted. CryptoStick also fully supports hidden encrypted volumes (like the ones you can create with TrueCrypt). You can create up to four on a single stick. The goal is to provide you with “plausible deniability” even if you have to turn over your primary PIN to the bad guys. They might be able to see your root folder, but not the hidden volumes — which you could claim you had no idea were there in the first place.

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Men More Vulnerable to Mobile Malware – We love the things our smartphones are capable of: playing music, checking bank statements, or updating Twitter statuses. Losing your phone now is like losing your wallet—or worse. So why aren’t more people concerned about protecting their mobile data? AVAST’s recent survey about smartphone ownership and use reveal

Mozilla to strengthen SSL certificate verification in Firefox – Mozilla plans to more strictly enforce industry best practices for SSL certificates in future versions of Firefox with a new certificate verification system. The new system will be implemented as a library called “mozilla::pkix” and will start being used by Firefox 31, which is expected to be released in July.

Company News:

Microsoft’s Windows as a Service comes in to focus with new job posting – Microsoft’s Windows as a Service is the next big platform for the company as they move away from tradtional sales models and move it’s most coveted piece of software, Windows, to a subscription model.

Apple’s lawsuit against Google is REVIVED – A US Federal Court has issued a ruling that will allow Apple and Motorola Mobility to assert certain patent claims against each other. The ruling also opens the door for Cupertino to try to seek a ban on sales of certain Android handsets.

RadiumOne CEO who attacked and abused girlfriend is fired by his board – RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal has been fired by the company’s board of directors following his domestic abuse charges and conviction, according to Recode. Chahal recently faced 45 felony charges of domestic violence but was convicted of only two misdemeanors, and he has vigorously defended himself over social media and on his own website.

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Microsoft is now a phone company, as Nokia deal closes – As announced earlier this week, Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services division has closed almost four months later than expected. Redmond is paying about $5 billion for the Nokia division, now named Microsoft Mobile Oy, and some 8,500 design patents. The software giant is also paying another $2 billion for a ten-year license for 30,000 utility patents, with an option to renew the licenses in perpetuity.

Google getting slapped big for dodging French tax collector – Technology giant Google has been delinquent on its tax payments in France for the past few years, to the tune of more than $1 billion in missed payments, and it now may be hit with a sizable tax penalty by the French government. Google has been put on notice of its delinquency by the French tax authorities, and the company has acknowledged that it might be issued a large penalty for non-compliance by the French Direction Générale Des Finances Publiques, the French equivalent of the US Internal Revenue Service.

Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe settle conspiracy lawsuit with $324 million payment – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe have agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed the four companies were conspiring to hold down salaries with a $324 million payment.

Games and Entertainment:

Xcom: Enemy Unknown Now Available on Android for $9.99 – Many games have tried, but none have succeeded in replicating the compelling tactical gameplay of Xcom: Enemy Unknown. After taking consoles and the desktop by storm, this game came to iOS a while back. Now it’s finally on Android, and there are still plenty of aliens to take down.

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Sony demos AR and dynamic lighting technology with PlayStation 4 – A couple of videos released by Sony Japan showcases PlayStation 4 doing great Augmented Reality and lighting simulations. It’s the kind of technology that appeals to gamers across the board and caters to craze of virtual reality. From what we know at the moment, it is safe to presume that the AR lighting technology is developed using the PlayStation 4 camera.

Sore Call of Duty loser sics real-life SWAT team on opponent – We’ve all experienced it ourselves: being teabagged after getting killed in game, having an opponent send you extremely racist messages after you defeat them, or simply dealing with a veritable flood of “1v1 me bro” threats. They’re all annoying, but that’s as far as they go. However, one gamer got so mad that he managed to call the SWAT team to the house of an opponent.

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GameStop Plans Store Closures as Business Shifts – While the move will barely put a dent in GameStop’s overall inventory of 6,457 worldwide stores, the closures are intended to allow GameStop to shift its priorities a bit into diversifying its overall business model. This approach, which Raines dubs “Gamestop 3.0,” calls for GameStop to double the number of its Spring Mobile and Simply Mac outlets within the company’s fiscal year.

Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news – Yes, we are well and truly in the Spring dead zone—that period right before E3 when publishers are busy putting together presentations and carving up vertical slice demos and keeping absolutely silent ahead of the blitz of the big show. A few interesting tidbits did pop up in the barren games news wasteland, however. Here’s Prince of Persia, Gameboy’s big day, and the rest of the gaming news you may have missed this week.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Facebook Users Most Likely to Unfriend High School Pals – Why are people unfriending you on Facebook? Don’t worry; it’s probably just those people you went to high school with who you likely no longer care about anyway. You probably just friended them as part of the initial Facebook “land-grab” when you first join and start hunting for social connections. At least, that’s the impression we get from new research out of the University of Colorado Denver.

Phablets, big data, hactivism: How 10 terrible tech buzzwords were named – Here are ten tech buzzwords or -phrases, identified as some of the most hated on a number of online lists, along with their supervillain origin stories. Read on, and perhaps you’ll think twice before introducing the next “disrupt” or “phablet” into the tech vernacular.

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Watch NASA’s prototype Morpheus lander take off and land autonomously – The private space firm SpaceX isn’t the only one looking into vertical takeoff, vertical landing craft. NASA’s Morpheus project is an effort to create a lander that is capable of landing autonomously in rough terrain while also using a less hazardous fuel source. It also looks pretty cool coming in for a landing.

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Facebook In The Age Of Mobile-Only – Just 21% (268 million) of Facebook’s users access the service from desktop-only, and both that percentage and number are falling as Facebook grows, according to new stats from Facebook’s Q1 2014 earnings report this week. Meanwhile Facebook’s mobile-only user count is now at 341 million, or 26.7% of its total userbase, and those figures are quickly climbing.

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Why social networks are falling apart – Social networks are falling apart — breaking up into multiple sites and apps that do in a scattered way what used to happen centrally.

7 Internet fakes we wish were real – How many times have you seen a video or photo on Facebook that was so amazingly cool you just had to share it without thinking twice? It was only later that you discovered that not-to-be-believed image was an elaborate fake you shouldn’t have believed. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Something to think about:

“As you journey through life take a minute every now and then to give a thought for the other fellow. He could be plotting something.”

–     Hagar the Horrible

Today’s Free Downloads:

MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter – You like to listen to music on YouTube or Vimeo and want to save it for offline playing. Or you want to download soundtrack of a new movie. Then MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter is the best choice for you. (Highly recommended.)

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ProduKey – ProduKey is a small utility that displays the ProductID and the CD-Key of Microsoft Office (Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Office 2007), Windows (Including Windows 7 and Windows Vista), Exchange Server, and SQL Server installed on your computer. You can view this information for your current running operating system, or for another operating system/computer – by using command-line options. This utility can be useful if you lost the product key of your Windows/Office, and you want to reinstall it on your computer.

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iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Supreme Court to rule on warrantless searches of electronic devices – The Supreme Court on Tuesday will take on the digital-age controversy over search and seizure of smartphones and other devices. In two cases coming before the court, warrantless searches of an electronic device not only provided the basis for criminal prosecutions but also strayed from the original reason for the arrests in question. President Barack Obama’s administration and prosecutors from states across the country have lobbied for police officers to be able to search arrestees’ gadgets—at or about the time of arrest—without a warrant. Such action, however, demands an examination of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” If nine out of 10 American adults own mobile phones and the devices have advanced to become virtual extensions of our personal and private lives, at what point does law enforcement’s access to their call logs, photos, and cloud-hosted data become “unreasonable” invasions of constitutionally protected privacy?

Microsoft Is Challenging The US Government’s Use Of Search Warrants To Access Data Stored Abroad – Microsoft lost its first challenge to the authority of the United States government’s use of search warrants to demand data stored abroad. Microsoft challenged a U.S. search warrant for emails stored in Ireland. The cloud does have a physical footprint, after all. The company was not surprised that it lost the initial test, noting in a blog post that “the Magistrate Judge, who originally issued the warrant in question, disagreed with our view and rejected our challenge.” The company states that it “knew the path would need to start with a magistrate judge, and that we’d eventually have the opportunity to bring the issue to a U.S. district court judge and probably to a federal court of appeals.” So, today’s setback for Microsoft is not really a dispiriting moment. Think of it more as a first step.

US Telco Firm [REDACTED] Gently Pushed Back Against Bulk Metadata Collection In January – In December Federal Judge Richard Leon indicated that in his estimation, the bulk collection of telephony metadata by the NSA was likely unconstitutional. He stayed his ruling, however, citing “significant national security interests” and “the novelty of the constitutional issue” at play. Less than two weeks later, an opposite ruling was handed down, calling the program constitutional. Given the first challenge, a United States-based telecommunications firm [REDACTED] that has to comply with the program specifically requested that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) explain its perspective on the ruling.

Hillary Clinton Excoriates Snowden’s Leaks, Mocks His Softball Putin Question – Former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton isn’t big on Edward Snowden. Clinton excoriated Snowden recently, hitting him for leaving the country, not availing himself of whistleblower protections here at home, and for asking Russian President a now widely mocked softball question. That Clinton isn’t a fan of Snowden itself isn’t news — we’ve known that for some time — but the severity of her remarks is worth noting, given that she is widely expected to run again for president. Put simply, there is a more than a decent chance that Clinton becomes president in 2016, and thus her tone on Snowden indicates what future policy regarding him, and what he revealed, could be.

So far, so SOPA: Web campaigners to protest world’s biggest ever free trade deal – Internet activists are planning a major on- and offline protest at what has been described as a “secretive, SOPA-like” agreement being hammered out as the world’s largest economies attempt to agree the world’s biggest ever free trade deal. They argue the pact will lead to greater web censorship, even though talks between the US and Japan stalled this week. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been in the pipeline since 2010 and involves liberalising agreements on trade and other issues between stakeholders including the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam. Amongst other things, the US-led treaty has proposed criminal sanctions on copyright infringement and – according to rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation – could force ISPs to monitor and censor content more rigorously and even block sites wholesale if requested by rights holders. As a result, the Internet Defense League is planning a high profile protest which will involve shining a “Stop The Secrecy” message on various “key buildings” in Washington DC on 30 April – when US President Barack Obama returns from his Asia trip.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 16, 2014

Tutorial: Twitter 2-factor authentication, step-by-step;  First phase of TrueCrypt audit finds no backdoors;  Which ZoneAlarm Is Best for You? Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know;  CloudMagic: Email for the highly connected;  How to calibrate your monitor;  Linux is about to take over the desktop;  15 gadgets to reduce your energy consumption;  Google developing contact lens camera;  IRS could be watching your social media;  Free SystemRescueCd;  Windows XP lives on;  Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches.

Windows XP lives on: Avast survey shows 27 percent of its XP users don’t plan to switch – Avast had previously reported that 23.6 percent of its users were still running Windows XP. In the days before Microsoft ended support of Windows XP on April 8, Avast surveyed close to 165,000 of those users. The results, released in in a blog post on Monday, indicate that 27 percent of Avast’s Windows XP users don’t plan on doing anything, even though Windows XP systems are theoretically vulnerable to attack from hitherto unreported vulnerabilities.

Gmail update lets you easily attach Google+ photos – Google just rolled out a minor Gmail update today that lets you easily attach a Google+ photo from within the composition window. Once you’re done writing your email, select the option to insert a photo and it’ll default to your Google+ albums, as well as anything you’ve privately backed up to your Google+ account. You can also share whole albums with family and friends, and fear not: even if the album is private, only those you’ve shared the albums with will be able to see them. You can also resize photos right from within the composition window.

Which ZoneAlarm Is Best for You? – Check Point Software, publisher of ZoneAlarm, offers six distinct SKUs, from the simple free firewall on up to the mega-suite ZoneAlarm Extreme. As an experiment, I’m reviewing all six. I’ve found that there are definitely enough differences to make the effort worthwhile. And yes, that “2015” you see in the product names isn’t a typo. These are the first 2015-labeled products I’ve seen.

Tutorial: Twitter 2-factor authentication, step-by-step – Making sure you keep your Twitter account safe is incredibly important. This step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot article by our own David Gewirtz should make it easier to be safer.

First phase of TrueCrypt audit finds no backdoors – Remember when late last year cryptographer Matthew Green and Kenneth White, Principal Scientist at Social & Scientific Systems, called for – and then organized – a crowdfunded, public security audit of TrueCrypt? Well, the results of the first phase of the audit have been published, and the news is good in regards to potential backdoors present in the code.

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Why you don’t need to encrypt your backup – You should back up all of your data files and encrypt the sensitive ones that you don’t want other people to read. But that doesn’t mean you have to encrypt the backup.

Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know – It’s now two years since its unveiling, so it’s a great time to summarize everything we know about Google Glass; here are the key facts.

CloudMagic: Email for the highly connected – Jack Wallen shares his newest, favorite email client for Android: CloudMagic. This app offers greater email options for those who need more.

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Beyond basic TV settings – Once you’ve got the basics (contrast, brightness, color, etc.) set, there are still dozens of adjustments on your TV. What do they mean, and what’s the right setting? I’m glad you asked.

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How to calibrate your monitor – Learn how to tweak your desktop or laptop display using free test patterns or the built-in utility in Windows or Mac OS X.

Microsoft launches Office 365 Personal, $69.99 for a year – Microsoft has now officially launched Office 365 Personal, allowing people a way to access all of its Office software on one PC and one tablet for $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month.

Linux is about to take over the desktop but not like you think it will – You’d better get ready for the personal computing, BYOD, and corporate computing revolution. Linux is coming to a desktop near you. But not like you think or had hoped. It’s coming in the form of the Chrome OS on Chromebooks.

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Google adds a paragraph to its Terms of Service to explain Gmail scanning for ads – Google has updated its Terms of Service document, adding in a paragraph that attempts to better explain how the company scans the content of emails in its Gmail service to generate ads.

Calculate your PC’s energy use – Microsoft’s free Joulemeter utility gives you a rough estimate of a Windows system’s power consumption. Plus: tips for reducing your electronics energy bill.

15 gadgets to reduce your energy consumption – Earth Day is April 22, so it’s a great time to look at your personal energy consumption. Tech tools are often energy hogs, so we’ve compiled a list of gadgets that do just the opposite.

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Netflix pays off Comcast, discovers that speeds magically improve – In fact, Comcast streaming speeds shot up 65 percent since Netflix struck an interconnectivity deal with the ISP that gives it better access to Comcast’s network.

Facebook’s great hope, India, crosses 100 million users – The leading social networking company in the world must be thrilled as it hits the 100 million user mark in India, the second country to reach this milestone after the US. Apparently analysts say that at this rate, India will in fact outstrip the US and boast the most number of users in the world, at around 150 million. India currently has around 160 million internet users, a fraction of what it will eventually field considering its 1.2 billion strong population.

Security:

LaCie admits to year-long credit card breach – The French hardware company confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that malware successfully made its way through to access sensitive customer information stemming from transactions on its website. Here’s where things get really bad: Virtually everyone who shopped on LaCie’s website in the last year is at risk. LaCie, which is set to merge with American hard drive maker Seagate, said it was informed about the breach on March 19, 2014 by the FBI. But the hardware company speculated that all transactions between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014 were possibly affected.

With Heartbleed, IT leaders are missing the point – If our checks and balances are so fragile that a typo can obliterate all meaningful security, we have some fundamental things to fix.

The Woops of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) raises its ugly head again – WPS is an alternate on-ramp to a Wi-Fi network. It is also a security nightmare, and it has just been extended to include NFC. No WPS for me, thank you.

Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner thwarted by hack – Reseachers at Germany’s Security Research Labs were able to sneak past Samsung’s fingerprint security by using a fingerprint spoof.

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Israeli hacker hijacks webcams to unmask Anonymous OpIsrael hackers – Israeli Elite Force hackers doxed 16 members of Anonymous OpIsrael by using the hackers’ own webcams against them, showing yet another example of why you should cover your webcam when you are not using it.

Company News:

Twitter Acquires Data Provider Gnip – Twitter has acquired social data provider Gnip, extending the companies’ four-year partnership. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Twitter, this move will help “to offer more sophisticated data sets and better enrichments” for developers and businesses. Gnip (pronounced guh-nip) launched in 2008 and served as the first official data partner for Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, WordPress, Google+, Facebook, and YouTube.

Apple loses bid to dismiss states’ e-book antitrust cases – Judge rejects Apple’s argument that states lack standing in the case, which seeks as much as $840 million in damages.

Intel paints bleak picture for Windows tablets vs. Android – When Intel announced its tablet numbers for the first quarter on Tuesday, it was clear that Android buried Windows. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call that out of the 5 million tablet processors shipped “80 to 90 percent” were for Android and the rest Windows. That leaves a pretty small number for Windows, underscoring the uphill battle Microsoft is fighting against Android and Apple in the tablet market.

Microsoft concedes Chromebooks are work-worthy – Microsoft on Monday conceded that Google’s Chrome OS and the Chromebooks the operating system powers can do real work, a reversal of its ‘Scroogled’ campaign that had called laptops worthless.

Yahoo Beats Street For Q1 On Sales Of $1.09B, EPS Of $0.38 But Flat Display Sales Of $438M – Yahoo has just reported its Q1 earnings, with ex-TAC revenues of $1.087 billion and earnings per share of $0.38, and net income of $314 million. That just about beat analysts’ expectations on revenue: they were expecting ex-TAC sales of $1.08 billion – First Call estimates were $1,076.9 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 Offers 6 Killer Android Games for One Low Price – There is a new Humble Mobile Bundle, and it offers some excellent games with more on the way. For one low price you get six Android games in the current bundle, but more will be added soon. Not that you really need them–the games included now are great. The Humble Bundle continues to be the best deal in gaming.

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Call of Duty: Ghosts Snoop Dogg voice pack video gets “bizzy” – There’s nothing like a good ol’ dose of “dee oh double-g” to bring a piece of media up to snuff with infamy. That’s exactly what the folks at Activision and Infinity Ward decided and laid down cash for in Call of Duty: Ghosts this week, preparing Snoop Dogg for an MP announcer role in a download pack available on April 22nd, 2014.

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Batman’s 75th Birthday: here’s how you celebrate – While the first appearance of Batman took place on March 30, 1939 in Detective Comics No. 27, several celebratory events and releases are being made this week. Lighting up more successful video games than any other comic book character, Microsoft has decided to take this week to dunk Xbox users into Gotham’s finest titles with discounts galore – just in time for Easter, too!

Xbox One update brings Kinect and controller enhancements, adds silent updates – Now that the big Titanfall update has come and gone, Microsoft has focused on updating the rest of the console with some much needed usability fixes. With a third update in as many months, each bringing great new fixes and features to the console, the Xbox One is barely recognizable from the console that launched in November. Microsoft has worked hard to fix a lot of problems that probably shouldn’t have made it to consumer release in the first place, but they have done so swiftly and efficiently.

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Mean and green: How to build a gaming PC that’s fast, quiet, and efficient – Every enthusiast wants a killer, high-performance PC that blows fire and chews up benchmarks for breakfast. (PCMark, yum!) But packing a PC to the gills with cutting-edge hardware creates a hot rod in more than name alone: Truly powerful rigs tend to be big, hot, and loud, and they usually suck power faster than a parched pre-teen chugs Kool-Aid. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With all of the CPU advances, it’s now possible to configure a relatively fast system that’s also whisper quiet and surprisingly power efficient. With the right component choices and some careful planning, it doesn’t even have to break the bank. Here’s how we did it.

Off Topic (Sort of):

After Google Glass, Google developing contact lens camera – The next step after Google Glass high-tech specs could be contact lenses with cameras in them to take pictures when you blink and to help the blind across the road.

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Tax dodgers beware: IRS could be watching your social media – In its quest to find and audit tax dodgers, the IRS is said to use online activity trackers to sift through the mass amounts of data available on the Internet, according to Marketplace. This data is then added to the information the agency already has on people, such as Social Security numbers, health records, banking statements, and property.

A letter to my daughter: Privacy and the internet – Millennials are growing up with very different ideas about privacy and information security than those of us who actually built the digital world we now live in.

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Creationists get their ‘Cosmos’ (It’s quite short) – In order to assuage the creationist protesters who complain that Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s series doesn’t allow for a God-centric explanation, Funny Or Die creates a creationist version. It lasts mere minutes.

How many downloads does it take to hit No. 1 in the App Store? – A marketing director counts up the number of daily downloads by country and reveals what it took for his company’s app to top Apple’s charts.

Something to think about:

“Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.”

–     Marcus Brigstocke

Today’s Free Downloads:

OpenVPN – The OpenVPN application was designed to be a full-featured SSL VPN solution which can accomodate a wide range of configurations, including remote access, site-to-site VPNs, WiFi security, and enterprise-scale remote access solutions with load balancing. OpenVPN implements OSI layer 2 or 3 secure network extension using the industry standard SSL/TLS protocol, supports flexible client authentication methods based on certificates, smart cards, and/or 2-factor authentication, and allows user or group-specific access control policies using firewall rules applied to the VPN virtual interface. OpenVPN is not a web application proxy and does not operate through a web browser.

Hardwipe – Hardwipe can be used to permanently erase, or to “hard wipe”, data on disk and portable storage media to prevent personal and sensitive business information from ever being recovered. It can wipe entire drives, wipe files individually, and sanitize unused drive space. It supports right-click context menus within Windows file explorer, or can just be used as a standalone application.

SystemRescueCd – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, …) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It requires no installation. It can be used on linux servers, linux desktops or windows boxes. The kernel supports the important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NTT surveys Snowden impact on IT ops/strategy – A new study of global ICT decision-makers, titled NSA Aftershocks, commissioned by NTT Communications, shows how the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM program has affected enterprise business strategy and operations. The market research firm Vanson Bourne interviewed 1000 leaders at major companies in France, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK and the USA in the last two months.

Among its findings:

Almost nine in ten IT leaders are concerned their data may have been accessed without their permission

Only 5 percent of respondents believe location does not matter when it comes to storing company data

More than three in ten (31 percent) are moving data to locations where the business knows it will be safe

87 percent say they now have an in-depth knowledge of the data protection laws in the countries where their business operates

83 percent agree the revelations have prevented them from moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud

ICT decision-makers now prefer buying a cloud service located in their own region, especially EU respondents (97 percent)

A sixth is delaying or cancelling cloud projects

A study released in August of last year by the Information and Technology Innovation Foundation predicted that US companies could lose up to $35 billion in revenue through 2016. The new survey suggests that IT decision-makers are indeed taking action that affects US companies.

Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches – Lavaboom, a new German-based and supposeldyNSA-proof email service, will go into private beta this week with a mission spread the gospel according to Edward Snowden by making encrypted email accessible to all. Although it has been referred to in various parts of the interwebs as an heir to Lavabit, the now-defunct encrypted email service used by Snowden, the new service’s name is a tribute to its predecessor and nothing more. Lavaboom is a free service with a 500MB mailbox limit made secure by three main principles: end-to-end encryption; “zero-knowledge privacy”; and “three-way authentication”. The firm said its aim is to make encryption as “simple as sending regular email” so anyone can use it.

FBI to have 52 million photos in its NGI face recognition database by next year  – Database will include non-criminal photos as well as mugshots – New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer. The EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one-third of the US population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.

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Utah cops warrantlessly search prescription drug records of 480 emergency personnel – Utah law enforcement officials searched, without a warrant, the prescription drug records of 480 public paramedics, firefighters and other personnel to try to figure out who was stealing morphine from emergency vehicles. The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday derided the 2013 dragnet search as “shocking” and called it a “disregard for basic legal protections” to provide law enforcement with “unfettered” access to such private data.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 14, 2014

Tutorial: Facebook 2-factor authentication, step-by-step;  Before Heartbleed: Worst vulnerabilities ever?   SANS warns end users against Heartbleed patch panic;  Install any Windows desktop gadget in Windows 8.x with 8GadgetPack;  How to clean the crap off your PC;  Sony warns users its Vaio Fit 11A may burst into flames;  44 percent of Twitter users have never tweeted; Meet Ballistic, a full first-person shooter that runs right in your browser;  Free KeePass Password Safe;  Free World of Warplanes;  How to tell if your Android device is vulnerable to Heartbleed.

Before Heartbleed: Worst vulnerabilities ever? – There have been some pretty bad vulnerabilities before Heartbleed. Is it really any more severe than CodeRed or Blaster? In this gallery we have collected 15 of the most severe vulnerabilities in tech history. All the vulnerabilities are in software. One purely hardware vulnerability suggested to us — the thermal exhaust port on the Death Star — was deemed out of scope, even though it was a relatively critical bug.

SANS warns end users against Heartbleed patch panic – While Heartbleed client-side attacks are possible, the SANS Institute warns that home users rushing to patch are more at risk of falling for scams — but change passwords regardless.

Private keys may be inaccessible to Heartbleed – Research by CloudFlare indicates that Heartbleed can be used to obtain contents of server memory, but not private keys.

Heartbleed bug: What you need to know (FAQ) – CNET has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help users learn more about the bug and protect themselves. The Heartbleed situation is ongoing, and we’ll update this FAQ as new issues arise. Check back for new information.

How to tell if your Android device is vulnerable to Heartbleed – Believe it or not, some Android devices are susceptible to the Heartbleed bug. Here’s what you need to know.

Beat it, bloatware: How to clean the crap off your PC – Boot up a new PC for the first time, and you should be able to watch it fly. Instead, it may sputter and struggle to get off the ground, thanks all the preinstalled junk that vendors habitually dump onto new PCs. Bloatware—also known as crapware—is more than annoying, because it actively consumes your computer’s resources. It’s worth your time to clean it off a new PC so you can use it to its full potential. Here’s how to do that with minimal headaches.

Windows 8.1 Update might change your mind about Windows 8 – With the second major revision to Windows 8, somewhat confusingly named Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft seems to have finally remembered that there are PC users out there who still work with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. With Windows 8.1 Update, you now get a computing environment that feels flexible enough to work on 8-inch tablets as well as 27-inch desktops.

Install any Windows desktop gadget in Windows 8.x with 8GadgetPack – Greg Shultz takes a look at 8GadgetPack, a free tool that reinstalls the original desktop gadget program files in Windows 8.x. Find out how to use 8GadgetPack to install any Windows desktop gadget.

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Sony warns users its Vaio Fit 11A may burst into flames – If you own or have access to a Sony Vaio Fit 11A then you need to stop using it immediately, and stop anyone else using it, too. Sony has shipped over 25,000 units of the Fit 11A to some 52 countries, but it is now warning owners that the hybrid laptop is in danger of catching fire. The reason, as usual, is the battery.

44 percent of Twitter users have never tweeted, says report – As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Twitter analytics company Twopcharts says that, according to its data, 44 percent of Twitter accounts have never tweeted.  No “Trying out this Twitter thing.” No “Just setting up my tweetz.” Not even “Hi.” The Journal places Twitter’s userbase at 974 million accounts, so if you do the math, that’s roughly 429 million accounts that have been silent.

Google gives strong signal a Chrome tablet is indeed on the way – Even though there are those of us who don’t believe a Chrome tablet is a viable product, speculation that we’ll soon see one announced has recently surfaced. This is due to a press invite to an Acer event that leads one to believe a tablet may be announced. This week, Google quietly updated Chrome OS, and one of things added in the update sure implies it is getting ready for a tablet. One look at the release notes and it jumps out.

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Facebook Reveals Which Countries Censor Citizens’ News Feeds – This is the first time the social network has disclosed how often it allows governments to remove or restrict content for legal reasons. While India leads the pack, it was followed by Turkey, which restricted 2,014 pieces of content primarily because it defamed or criticized Ataturk or the Turkish state, which is illegal. Germany was allowed to censor 84 pieces of content because local laws prohibit Holocaust denial. That law also exists in France (80 restrictions) and Austria (78 restrictions). A map chronicling how much was banned and why can be seen here. Facebook didn’t include information it would have removed anyway because it violated its community standards.

Firefox OS 2.0 starts emerging from its cocoon – Mozilla’s modernized mobile OS is catching up to Apple and Google rivals with improvements necessary to carry Firefox OS beyond its bare-bones roots. Copy-paste and find-my-phone tools patch significant shortcomings.

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Report: Google Beta Testing Android App for Chrome Remote Desktop – Get excited, Chrome fans: Google is still beta testing an Android app for its popular (to us, at least) Chrome Remote Desktop feature, and word is that the app’s launch is going to hit sooner than later. For those who haven’t had the chance to partake in Chrome Remote Desktop, the name is pretty self-explanatory. Install the extension into your browser for the world’s easiest Virtual Network Computing (VNC) setup.

Translate foreign menus – Nothing bums out my travel gluttony more than a menu I can’t decipher. Fortunately, whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, there are some useful apps out there that can help you translate a menu in seconds. None are perfect, but having a couple on hand could keep you from eating the wrong part of a bull.

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Intel unveils Education 2-in-1 convertible laptop – As with many other hybrid notebooks, the Education 2-in-1 allows students to detach the display from the keyboard in order to use it as a standalone tablet. You can also flip the screen around to have it face the front to show content off to the rest of the classroom. It includes a stylus to ease input for kids still making their way around a keyboard, and also comes with educational accessories like a snap-on magnifying lens and a temperature sensor probe.

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Security:

In Heartbleed’s wake, Comodo cranks out fresh SSL certificates – One of New Jersey-based Comodo’s main business lines is issuing the digital certificates that encrypt traffic between users and a Web service, a critical shield that protects users from spying by third parties. Over the last day or so, Comodo has seen a huge uptick in requests for new digital certificates from website operators, said Robin Alden, Comodo’s chief technology officer.

U.S. charges nine with distributing Zeus malware – Two defendants face arraignment in federal court Friday, charged with distributing the malware that helped siphon millions of dollars from U.S. accounts. How the NSA shot itself in the foot by denying prior knowledge of Heartbleed – In admitting it didn’t know about a massive security flaw in one of the Web’s most used encryption libraries, the NSA inadvertently revealed a massive institutional failure.

Tutorial: Facebook 2-factor authentication, step-by-step – Setting up Facebook authentication can be a bit of a pain, but this step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot article by our own David Gewirtz should make it easy.

Company News:

Dropbox CEO defends Rice despite ‘Drop Dropbox’ privacy backlash – CEO Drew Houston cites Rice’s international experience, as users fume over the appointment of a known wiretapping advocate to the Board of the cloud storage company.

Amazon will pay workers up to $5000 to quit – Not getting much actual fulfillment out of your job in the Amazon fulfillment center? It’s not all bad. The company might just pay you $5,000 to quit your job. Why would Amazon want to do this? Well, it turns out that Amazon has a rather serious problem with employee turnover. In fact, Amazon has the second worst turnover rate of any of the Fortune 500 companies.

Samsung set to “kapture” the media’s attention on April 29 – Samsung has just given word that it plans to hold a media event in Singapore near the end of the month. And if previous rumors are to be given credence, the “Kapture the Moment” slogan in the teaser could very well be referring to the company’s next photography-centric smartphone, the Galaxy S5 Zoo

Microsoft’s board sued by shareholder, not happy with IE fine by EU – Microsoft’s massive 2013 fine from the European Union is the center of a new lawsuit against the company’s board of directors. Reuters states that the lawsuit was filed on Friday by a shareholder of Microsoft, Kim Barovic, who claims that the board and company executives mismanaged the situation that led to the fine, which involved Microsoft breaking its 2009 agreement with the EU over its Internet Explorer web browser.

Games and Entertainment:

Telltale’s ‘Walking Dead’ game ready for Android users’ braaains – The popular episodic adventure finally makes its way to Android, and you can play the first episode for free.

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Meet Ballistic, a full first-person shooter that runs right in your browser –  Web games sure have evolved since I was a kid. Even five years ago, trapped at a receptionist job, the best I could do was a really high-level Flash game to whittle the hours away. Crush the Castle. Worms clones. This is what I considered a web game. And then I took a look at Ballistic. Here, why don’t you take a look at Ballistic.

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Trailer: Firaxis Announces ‘Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth’ – If you’re one of the many gamers who has spent countless hours building empires, crushing barbarians, and getting annoyed at the enemy AI’s horrible diplomacy in Sid Meier’s turn-based Civilization strategy games, then it’s time to get a little excited: You’re going to be pulling a Richard Branson soon. Which is to say, you’re going to be heading off to space for “just one more turn.”

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The road to the 60TB hard drive – Within the next six years, hard disk drives will go from 6TB of storage to 60TB. Here are the technological advancements that will make that possible.

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Brace yourself, here comes the mobile appsplosion – Companies are engaged in a kind of arms race with competitors to see how many apps they can get everyone to use. But this aggressive push for more apps is going to end up giving users app fatigue.

Origami DNA robots intelligently control drug delivery in living animals – The lines between biology and engineering are blurring further every day. Mechanical implants can carry signals across gaps in severed nerves, while microorganisms push steadily into manufacturing and materials synthesis. Still, in a new study published this week, the use of the phrase “nano-robot” is a bit overzealous. What we have here is an exquisitely accurate way of targeting drugs within a living body, and a new model for control of injected material — but robots?

How to mitigate tracking risks: wrap your phone in tinfoil, quit Google – in new book, Julia Angwin wants to live a modern life while frustrating the NSA. When author Julia Angwin has to post a photo of herself online, she now prefers to use a stencil image of her face in order to avoid detection by facial recognition software. Welcome to her paranoid world of trying to frustrate increasingly sophisticated snoops.

Something to think about:

“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.”

–     John Lilly

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeePass Password Safe – KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure

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World of Warplanes – The main game mode in World of Warplanes organizes battles between two teams of 15 players who meet in air battle over a variety of locations. Victory can be achieved by destroying all the opposing planes or earning advantage points by eliminating the enemy’s ground targets. At the same time, both approaches to victory — teamwork and a player’s individual contribution — are important, because any pilot has the power to turn the tables in World of Warplanes. The period represented in the game is one of the most captivating and challenging in the history of aircraft engineering. One may start a piloting career with biplanes of the 1930s, move on to legendary WWII warplanes, and end up with jet fighters of the Korean War, predecessors of modern aircrafts.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA denies it knew about Heartbleed flaw – The U.S. National Security Agency, which has a cybersecurity mission in addition to surveillance, has disputed a report that it knew about the Heartbleed security vulnerability for at least two years before other researchers disclosed the flaw this month. The NSA used Heartbleed to gather intelligence, according to a report from Bloomberg, quoting two anonymous sources. Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL that could allow attackers to monitor all information passed between a user and a Web service. But an NSA spokeswoman called the report incorrect. “NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report,” she said by email. “Reports that say otherwise are wrong.” At the same time that the NSA was accused of using Heartbleed to conduct surveillance, another agency was trumpeting its efforts to share information about the bug.

Obama reportedly lets NSA keep some security flaws secret – While President Obama has decided that the National Security Agency should reveal most major flaws it discovers in Internet security, a loophole exists that could allow the agency to exploit flaws for surveillance purposes, The New York Times reported Saturday. After a three-month review of recommendations made by a presidential task force on how to reform the agency, Obama decided that some flaws could kept secret in the event of “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” senior administration officials told the newspaper. While the president’s decision has never been publicly detailed, the exception came to light Friday when the White House denied a report that it knew of the Heartbleed bug for at least two years, keeping it secret to gather intelligence. The bug, which was introduced into OpenSSL more than two years ago by a developer, allows sensitive data to be scraped from affected servers. In its denial Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it learned of the vulnerability’s existence when it was made public in a cybersecurity report last week. The office also said the president’s review of the task force’s recommendations had led to “reinvigorated” process for deciding when to publicly disclose vulnerabilities. “Unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need, this process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities,” the office said in a statement.

Sweden won’t enforce data retention law against ISP that deleted metadata – The Swedish authorities won’t take action against an ISP that erased all retained communications metadata, even though there is still a law in place compelling providers to retain such data, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said Friday. Swedish ISP Bahnhof decided earlier this week to delete retained records and stop collecting data about its customers’ communications in the wake of a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). On Tuesday, the court invalidated the EU’s Data Retention Directive that requires telecommunications and Internet providers to retain their customer’s location and traffic data for investigatory purposes. It found that the directive seriously interferes with fundamental privacy rights. Sweden, like other EU member states, has transposed the directive into national law. As a result of the CJEU ruling, Bahnhof and other ISPs can stop collecting data and delete records without consequence because PTS stopped enforcing the law, a PTS spokesman said.

Turkey’s prime minister says he’ll pursue Twitter for ‘tax evasion’ – “Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are international companies established for profit and making money. Twitter is at the same time a tax evader. We will go after it,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to a report by news agency AFP. “These companies, like every international company, will abide by my country’s constitution, laws, and tax rules.” Twitter was banned by Erdogan’s government last month in a runup to elections, but the ban was later lifted after Turkey’s supreme court ruled that it interfered with free speech and individual rights. The court also ordered that a YouTube ban be lifted (with 15 videos to remain inaccessible), but so far the government hasn’t stopped blocking that site.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 11, 2014

Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013?  Your Heartbleed bug fix in three steps;  5 tips for running Windows XP relatively safely;  Ten cool tablet accessories, most under $10;  10 common mistakes Android newbies make;  Protect your device from malicious ads;  Take a ride on CloudPages for Google Apps;  Breaches expose 552 million identities in 2013; Getting started with Carousel for Dropbox;  Google adding continuous rogue Android app scans;  Staples 3D printing launches in two stores;  R.B.I. Baseball 14 slides into App Store;  Titanfall update today: what you get and how to get it.

Your Heartbleed bug fix in three steps – This week there’s little question that the internet security world has been tossed down a flight of stairs. With Heartbleed, a relatively major bit of a mistake was made in OpenSSL, a form of security that most of the internet uses, resulting in a major open door for hackers and spies of all kinds. With this bug having only been discovered this week and implemented a whopping two years ago, IT professionals are notably miffed. (As per the usual, untrained talking heads (particularly on TV), have responded as if the sky is following. Yes, this is a serious issue – but, it’s hardly the first one – and, it won’t be the last one this year. The chances of you (a casual user), being directly impacted by this are so slim as to be almost non-existent. Nevertheless, follow the process described in this article. There’s no downside to being prudent.)

5 tips for running Windows XP relatively safely – Today Microsoft stops supporting the decade-old Windows XP operating system. If you can’t upgrade (or don’t want to), follow these tips to continue running the Windows XP with a little security.

10 common mistakes Android newbies make – If you’re just learning the Android ropes, you might get tangled up in a mistake or two. Here are 10 ways to avoid problems and get the maximum benefit from your Android device.

Pro tip: Use Malwarebytes to check app privacy – There’s a feature within Malwarebytes called the Privacy Manager, which will scan your device for apps that access your personal information and do an audit for security issues. It’s reliable and a must-have to keep in front of the ever-moving security curve. If you don’t already have Malwarebytes installed on your device, the process is simple.

Protect your device from malicious ads – The chances of encountering a malware-bearing ad on your phone or tablet are increasing. But blocking ads on mobile is neither easy nor very effective. Here’s a better approach to ad-blocking on your device.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Skype for Xbox One to get update next week, improves auto zoom and more – The official Skype blog states that the 1.3 version of the app will add some improvements to the camera auto zoom feature for video chats. The blog states, “We found ways to better identify people in the picture, especially when there are multiple people in the room. The camera can adjust and see the entire family, even the little ones.”

Getting started with Carousel for Dropbox – Dropbox released its Carousel photo app on Wednesday; it promises to be “a gallery for all the photos and videos from your life.” The app is available for iPhone and for Android. I took the Carousel iPhone app for a spin to show you how it works and what it can do.

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Google Lets Anyone In The U.S. Become A Glass Explorer For $1,500 Starting April 15 – That’s right, as of next Tuesday, any American resident can grab a Google Glass unit for $1,500 plus applicable taxes, and these will ship with your favorite shade or Glass-specific frame included, too. The program opens its doors at 6 AM PT on Tuesday (9AM for you east coasters), and there are only limited spots available, so it’s probably going to be first-come, first-served.

Take a ride on CloudPages for Google Apps – CloudPages can add more options to your Google Apps environment such as single sign-on, password recovery and contact sharing features. Find out what it offers and how it came about.

FTC Says Facebook Will Need Permission From WhatsAppers To Use Their Data – Facebook will need the “affirmative consent” of WhatsApp users in order to use their data for advertising or anything. The ruling comes from Federal Trade Commission alongside its approval in US for Facebook to acquire WhatsApp. The $19 billion deal announced in February will still have to get past international regulators.

Chromecast gains Aereo: TV streamed to HDMI – Google’s Chromecast device caused quite a stir when it was first released, turning the television into a “show me anything” display overnight. With a $35 price tag and integration open to any developer wishing to integrate, this little device is in thousands of homes across the world. Today the team at Aereo have made clear their intent to leverage that group of users.

The pros and cons (mostly cons) of saving files to the desktop – As far back as I can remember, no version of Windows has ever, by default, saved data files (documents, spreadsheets, photos, and so on) to the desktop. And at least since XP, it has not been a particularly safe place to save them. But, because the desktop is always visible, some people just can’t resist temptation.

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Check out this crazy dual-screen iPhone 6 concept – The latest concept features a superthin new iPhone with a second slide-out screen. Is it fantasy or prophecy?

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Ten cool tablet accessories, most under $10 – These ten accessories meet both the useful and cheap criteria. When used with any tablet, they add benefit to the owner in different ways. Many of the accessories are from AmazonBasics. This is a store within a store, the huge Amazon online retail operation. The value is so great we searched through the store to find good accessories worth sharing. Take a look at the ten tablet accessories in this collection, and odds are you’ll find at least one you can use. It won’t cost you much to give it a try, anyway.

Why almost every PC could use a video card upgrade – There was a time when no PC could play a decent game unless it was outfitted with a discrete graphics processor. Today, most off-the-shelf desktop rigs—and nearly all notebook PCs—rely entirely on the CPU for video and graphics processing. And yet the market for discrete graphics continues to thrive. If you don’t give a flying joystick about playing AAA PC games, is a video card a worthwhile upgrade? Let’s compare the performance of integrated and discrete graphics processors to find out.

Security:

Breaches expose 552 million identities in 2013 – After lurking in the shadows for the first ten months of 2013, cybercriminals unleashed the most damaging series of cyberattacks in history. Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume 19, shows a significant shift in cybercriminal behavior, revealing the bad guys are plotting for months before pulling off huge heists – instead of executing quick hits with smaller rewards.

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Proposed law seeks to make retailers financially responsible for data breaches – When it comes to massive data breaches – such as the ones at Target and Neiman Marcus – in which millions of customers’ credit and debit card numbers were breached, who should foot the bill?

Google adding continuous rogue Android app scans – Google is updating Android to continuously check phones and tablets for rogue apps, picking out those with malware behavior even if they’ve managed to squeeze through the initial verification. The new feature, which builds on Android’s existing “Verify apps” system that sifts through software at the point of installation to flag up any concerns, will add real-time and ongoing checks.

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Company News:

AMD launches low-cost, low-wattage AM1 chipset: Socketable all-in-one chip starts at $34, aims sights at budget Pentiums – New flavors of Athlon and Sempron promise top power draws of 25W and enough power to play modern games in 1080p. Roughly one month after its announcement, AMD’s AM1 chipset launched internationally today, promising an all-in-one desktop computing solution that combines CPU and GPU with low wattage, low cost, and (relatively) high performance. Today’s launch comes in four flavors, ranging from the $34, dual-core Sempron 2650 to the $59, quad-core Athlon 5350.

AMD working with Toshiba on AMD-branded SSD – AMD must count 2014 as one of its better years already, due in most part to the millions of PS4 and Xbox One consoles flying off store shelves. But its main business remains the components that go inside our PCs, and in particular processors and graphics cards. However, AMD isn’t a company to shy away from slapping its name on new products, and it looks like we are set to get an AMD-branded SSD soon.

Petition Demanding Removal Of Condoleezza Rice From Dropbox Board Pops Up Online, On Twitter – Internet activists are at it again. Following yesterday’s news regarding the appointment of Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, to the board of cloud storage and syncing service Dropbox, a petition has sprung up online, demanding that users tell Dropbox they’re opposed to this move, and threaten to leave the service if Rice isn’t removed from the board.

Amazon acquires comiXology, the future of Kindle comics is bright – One of the best ways to read legally obtained comics on mobile devices, comiXology, has just been acquired by Amazon, manufacturer of the Kindle, which is one of the best ways to read on mobile devices. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger posted an official letter announcing the acquisition, and he sees bright things in both companies’ future.

Mozilla responds to media speculation over board resignations – According to Mozilla’s blog, Brendan Eich was not forced to resign and did not step down out of employee pressure as well. Eich, who has been a founding member of Mozilla, decided to leave the company on his own to prevent any damage to the Foundation’s mission of a free and open web. Mozilla’s board members who resigned following Brendan’s appointment had planned to do so well before the CEO appointment, and the matter is said to be unrelated altogether. (Mozilla = Cowards)

Staples 3D printing launches in two stores – Staples has launched an in-store 3D printing service in two of its locations: New York and Los Angeles. With this, they aim to make 3D printing a service available to anyone who wants to have a product whipped up, and all the while helping get the 3D printing industry’s consumer-level ball rolling.

Games and Entertainment:

R.B.I. Baseball 14 slides into App Store – If you’re old enough to remember R.B.I. Baseball, the classic Nintendo game, you’re old enough to be excited by this news: R.B.I. Baseball has been rebooted for next-generation platforms, including PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and iOS. In particular, R.B.I. Baseball 14 for iOS revives the classic franchise for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It’s a fast-moving, arcade-style ballgame, but with the full weight of Major League Baseball behind it.

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Microsoft reveals Age of Empires: World Domination for iOS, Android and Windows Phone – Microsoft is expanding its Age of Empires real time strategy game franchise to the mobile phone and tablet arena. Today, it was revealed that Age of Empires: World Domination will be released this summer for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Plans for such a game were first revealed in July 2013 but no other details were provided at that time. The game’s official website has now launched, along with a trailer that shows off some gameplay from the title.

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Relive your XP nostalgia with Microsoft’s ‘Escape from Windows XP’ game – Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows XP support on Tuesday and the IE team has put together a fun little game called ‘Escape from Windows XP’ which is a small browser based shooter that, as you would expect, you try to escape Windows XP. You can check out the browser based game here and it should work with any modern browser. The game is a simple, arcade style, shooter where broken windows of IE6 make up the ‘ground’ that you play on while destroying various bits of XP nostalgia.

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Watch Dogs NVIDIA trailer: delivering PC’s highest-level graphics – With Watch Dogs’ final release right around the corner, final graphics and gameplay videos are being released left and right. Today we’re to understand from a PC Games video (now pulled) that Ubisoft is suggesting the game will be full HD (1080p) on the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One has no such confirmation. Meanwhile, NVIDIA has stepped up with their optimizations video – always an interesting spot to watch when a new game has had top-level work done with the folks that make the graphics cards you might very well be using to play the game.

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Titanfall update today: what you get and how to get it – Today the folks at Respawn Entertainment have let it be known that quite a few changes are coming to Titanfall for Xbox One, PC, and Xbox 360 builds. This update brings on Private Matches in Beta mode, Party Colors, Auto-Titan Color in Obituary, Menu Changes, Game Version notes on Main Menu, and a number of Game Balance Changes. One massive set of bug fixes are in the mix as well.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Video games may cause aggression based on difficulty, not violence – Violent video games are a popular scapegoat for aggressive behaviour — but it seems that violent content may not be the culprit after all. A new study suggests that, if a person acts aggressively after playing a game, the root cause is frustration over the game’s difficulty.

TinkerBots lets you build and train a toy robot – The pieces are designed to snap together with ease, and they’re capable of bringing creations much more complex than a wiggly dog to life. Not to take anything away from the dog — it’s a wonderfully example of how simple and yet powerful TinkerBots are. To train the dog to walk, you simply have to switch on the Power Brain’s recording mode and twist and turn the dog manually. Press play, and it repeats the motion you just programmed.

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France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours – A new agreement between employer organizations and labor unions in France has made it illegal for French managers to contact their employees about work-related matters outside of normal business hours. The agreement [PDF], which amends an existing pact signed in 1999, specifies that employees must have “the opportunity to disconnect from remote communication tools at their disposal” (in the words of Google’s Francophone translating robots) to ensure that they comply with strict rules on working hours. That means French workers who receive emails or calls from coworkers or the boss at dinnertime can now safely ignore them without fear of retribution.

Largest volcanic eruption in human history changed the 19th century as much as Napoleon – Most have heard of the Battle of Waterloo, but who has heard of the volcano called Tambora? This extraordinary geological event took place 199 years ago this week, and on the cusp of its bicentenary Tambora is finally getting its due. With the help of modern scientific instruments and old-fashioned archival detective work, the Tambora 1815 eruption can be conclusively placed among the greatest environmental disasters ever to befall mankind. The floods, droughts, starvation, and disease in the three years following the eruption stem from the volcano’s effects on weather systems, so Tambora stands today as a harrowing case study of what the human costs and global reach might be from runaway climate change.

DATA Act, Which Would Make Government-Spending Data Available Online, Passes Senate – The Senate unanimously passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, today. The DATA Act is designed to help bring new transparency to spending by the federal government, by making spending data available to the public at USASpending.gov. The bill’s goal, to quote the Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) summary, is to “provide consistent, reliable, and searchable government-wide spending data.” That data will “improve the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov by holding federal agencies accountable for the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted,” according to the CRS.

Turns out most people prefer to watch TV instead of tweet about it – Twitter and Facebook think they’re pretty important to TV viewers and have spent the last year or so fighting for a piece of advertisers’ budgets. But it turns out that most people aren’t paying attention to social media at all when they tune in to their favorite shows. But research shows that people are using Facebook to talk about the primetime show they’re watching 3.8 percent of the time, and even less on Twitter—just 1.8 percent of the time. Those numbers are higher for TV events like awards shows, which generate more watercooler discussion in general than normal shows, which rarely have moments like Ellen DeGeneres’s record-breaking selfie.

Something to think about:

“I wonder if there is going to be some backlash from the mainstream press and the public. If nothing really bad happens — if this turns out to be something like the Y2K bug — then we are going to face criticisms of crying wolf.”

–      Bruce Schneier  on  Heartbleed

Today’s Free Downloads:

Don’t Sleep – Don’t Sleep is a small portable program to prevent system shutdown, Standby, Hibernate, Turn Off and Restart. Especially when old Programs run on Windows-7 or Windows Vista. Here’s more aggressive power-saving features with new rules. But not only that, it also prevents logging off the computer, and the deactivation of the monitor or activation of the screen saver. Of course you can also manually disable all the options and then activate again, but with Don’t Sleep one can save now many hand moves and also save time! And it’s easier than ever. Apart from the fact Don’t Sleep has a timer that allows time control unblock, or shutdown the computer for a specified time. Don’t Sleep does not have to be installed and can be executed easily from the desktop, and can be carried on a small usb-stick or other memory device.

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HTTrack Website Copier – HTTrack is a free (GPL, libre/free software) and easy-to-use offline browser utility. It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Wild at Heart: Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013? – Yesterday afternoon, Ars Technica published a story reporting two possible logs of Heartbleed attacks occurring in the wild, months before Monday’s public disclosure of the vulnerability. It would be very bad news if these stories were true, indicating that blackhats and/or intelligence agencies may have had a long period when they knew about the attack and could use it at their leisure. In response to the story, EFF called for further evidence of Heartbleed attacks in the wild prior to Monday. The first thing we learned was that the SeaCat report was a possible false positive; the pattern in their logs looks like it could be caused by ErrataSec’s masscan software, and indeed one of the source IPs was ErrataSec. The second log seems much more troubling. We have spoken to Ars Technica’s second source, Terrence Koeman, who reports finding some inbound packets, immediately following the setup and termination of a normal handshake, containing another Client Hello message followed by the TCP payload bytes 18 03 02 00 03 01 40 00 in ingress packet logs from November 2013. These bytes are a TLS Heartbeat with contradictory length fields, and are the same as those in the widely circulated proof-of-concept exploit. A lot of the narratives around Heartbleed have viewed this bug through a worst-case lens, supposing that it might have been used for some time, and that there might be tricks to obtain private keys somewhat reliably with it. At least the first half of that scenario is starting to look likely.

Australia: Facebook feud fires alarm over public service snoop plans – Federal government departments are using increasingly powerful cyber-snooping equipment to monitor the social media lives of millions of Australians. A dramatic public confrontation between the Immigration Department and a Sydney-based political activist over her Facebook page has resulted in accusations that mass surveillance is being used to keep tabs on political dissent. Other large government departments including Centrelink, Defence and Social Services have all conducted mass monitoring of social media activity. Centrelink’s parent agency, the Department of Human Services, even has its own software, which was developed by the CSIRO. A social media team of 10 public servants operates the software. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection hires private sector contractors who can monitor more than half-a-billion ”pieces” of social media each day on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Flickr. Immigration experimented several years ago with powerful software called Radian 6, which can provide surveillance across a range of social web platforms, but decided not to adopt it. The department’s key research contractor has told Fairfax that the monitoring currently undertaken for Immigration was about ”taking the temperature of society” and that no reputable research company would help government departments compile ”hit lists” of political opponents. (recommended by Mal C.)

US set to boycott Brazil’s anti-surveillance plans – A document released by WikiLeaks this week revealed that spying activities carried out by the United States will be condemned at Brazil’s upcoming global Internet governance event – but the proposals to change the current set-up will face strong opposition from the United States. The draft agreement for the NETmundial consists of 180 contributions from a multi-stakeholder committee and was due to be publicly released on April 14. The document outlines the key discussion themes – essentially the redefinition of the concept of Internet governance and principles such as rights to access information, freedom of association and expression, privacy, accessibility, diversity and development. NETmundial is a multistakeholder event created after the NSA spying scandal, which involved various nations including Brazil – and the impact that government-led surveillance is having on the privacy of Internet users and the infrastructure of the Web will be at the top of the agenda at the conference. “Mass and arbitrary surveillance undermines trust in the Internet and trust in the Internet Governance ecosystem,” says the NETmundial agreement.  “[Human] rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in accordance with international human rights law,” the document adds. Representatives from Brazil, France, Ghana, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey and the US have all agreed to participate of NETmundial. But WikiLeaks implied that this seemingly collaborative process was in fact a situation where the US “appears to have comprehensively thwarted Germany [and] Brazil in [the] internet governance plan, leaving only platitudes.”

Republicans Don’t Want America to Give Up Control of Web Addresses – House Republicans advanced legislation Thursday that they say will keep the Internet open and free from government censorship. Every Democrat on the panel considering the measure opposed it in service, they say, of the same goal. At issue is a question with profound implications for the future of global communications that delves into the deepest bowels of the Internet, and a version of the age-old question: Who guards the guards? “We can’t let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), one of the bill’s co-sponsor’s, said in a statement announcing the so-called DOTCOM Act. “America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a ‘multistakeholder model’ that’s controlled by foreign governments.” The “domain name system” is sort of like the phone book for the Internet—it’s the tool your computer used to convert the URL “Time.com” into the unique code of numbers and letters that are the actual address for this website—and it has historically been owned by the United States but administered through the international nonprofit ICANN. The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (a name excruciatingly eked out of the DOTCOM Act acronym) would, if passed into law, prevent the Obama Administration from going through with its plan to permanently turn control of the Internet’s domain name system over to an international authority comprised of various Internet stakeholders. Under the DOTCOM Act, that handover would be delayed at least until the completion of a government study into the implications of such a move. After rejecting four Democratic amendments that would have weakened the bill, Republicans in a House subcommittee on technology advanced it to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. (Do these imbecilic political sociopaths not yet realize that the rest of the world will never again allow the U.S. to dominate the Internet as it has in the past? That, can’t come soon enough.) 

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 10, 2014

Heartbleed test extension keeps hacker bug at bay;  Facebook Is Forcing All Users To Download Messenger;  Come to Oz for sun, surf, ratting on co-workers and surveillance;  Get 50GB of iDrive Android cloud storage for 99 cents;  LastPass checks sites for ‘Heartbleed’ automatically; Showdown follow-up: Evernote vs. OneNote;  Google Voice: A cheapskate’s guide to cheap VoIP;  WordPress releases important security update;  Canada halts online tax returns in wake of Heartbleed;  Facebook faces class action suit in Canada;  1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun;  Before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it;  Why XP Users Should Consider Zorin OS!

Heartbleed test extension keeps hacker bug at bay – Supposing you’re aware of the Heartbleed bug – which has been patched in many locations around the web already – you know that it’s a massive deal in the internet security universe. It’s left massive portions of the web open for hacking for two whole years, and it’s only being patched by most of the web this week. As luck would have it, there’s something you can do on your end this week as well to keep safe as an average web user. With the Chromebleed extension for Google’s Chrome web browser, you’ll be able to roll out with near-instant checks of every site you’re on. If the site is vulnerable to Heartbleed, you’ll get a Chrome notification.

Google Chrome now remembers the passwords your bank doesn’t want it to – Google Chrome 34 arrived on the Stable Channel yesterday, and it brought with it the usual security patches and stability tweaks as well as a few new features. Among them: the password manager will now store passwords for sites that normally block that from happening (like your bank’s or credit card company’s). Typically, sites like banks will disable built-in password managers by adding the autocomplete=off parameter to the password input field. They consider it a security risk to store credentials for their services, which may be true in some cases. (TRUE in EVERY case – not SOME cases!!)

Facebook Is Forcing All Users To Download Messenger By Ripping Chat Out Of Its Main Apps – Facebook is taking its standalone app strategy to a new extreme today. It’s starting to notify users they’ll no longer have the option to send and receive messages in Facebook for iOS and Android, and will instead have to download Facebook Messenger to chat on mobile.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Why XP Users Should Consider Zorin OS! – Zorin OS comes in both free and premium editions. The free edition is well and truly adequate for most users needs and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, I downloaded the 32-bit version which consists of a 1.5 GB ISO. In order to replicate the hardware environment many XP users might be dealing with, I chose to install Zorin OS on my old Dell Pentium 4 machine (1 GB RAM) running XP, and immediately ran into a minor problem – the old Dell’s ROM drive would not recognize the Zorin OS installation DVD. Fortunately, BIOS included a boot from USB option so I used an excellent freeware called ‘Rufus’ to create a bootable USB flash drive, and that worked perfectly. I mention this because it’s likely that a similar scenario may present itself for those installing Zorin on older machines. Rufus is portable, no installation required, and is both quick and easy to use.

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Six Clicks: iOS 7 tips and tricks – Here are six tips and tricks that will help you be more productive when using your iPad and iPhone, whether you use it for work or play.

Get 50GB of iDrive Android cloud storage for 99 cents – That’s not 99 cents per day or even per month — that’s 99 cents for an entire year. And every year after that.

Dropbox Mailbox for Android and desktop revealed – Dropbox has announced Mailbox for Android and desktop, bringing its email client over from iOS, in addition to revealing Microsoft Office integration with Project Harmony. The new Mailbox app – which will be released for Android as a free app later today, though is not quite ready for desktop use – will also introduce some new features, such as synchronization across devices thanks to now requiring a Dropbox account to log in.

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update videos help you discover all the new features – Microsoft has released four new videos that offer people information on what’s included in the just released Windows 8.1 Update, including the changes made to the desktop user interface.

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Google is testing new UI and features for Google Calendar – Much in the same way that Google is currently testing features out for Gmail, we are now seeing updated UI and new features for the Google Calendar Android app. The biggest thing you’ll notice from this new version of Google Calendar is the total visual overhaul. This new design is entirely minimal, replacing grids and hard lines with blocks of flat color everywhere in order to offer a cleaner, softer UI with very simple mechanics. Using the app is just as pleasing as looking at it, with visual flourishes that couldn’t be captured in screenshots.

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LastPass checks sites for ‘Heartbleed’ automatically – The Security Check lets you know if the site certificate has been updated and then provides a link to a site to help you update your password for the site. It will also indicate if you should wait before updating your password, or if a site and your password are not at risk. You can run the check in three ways. It works from your desktop browser either by tapping the service’s add-ons Tools option and choosing Security Check, or logging in via the Web site and choosing Security Check from the left column. It’s also available on the LastPass mobile app’s options menus.

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Hands-On Video Of Carousel, Dropbox’s Replacement For Your Camera Roll – We take more photos than we know what to do with, and that crummy camera roll that came with your phone can’t handle them. That’s why Dropbox built Carousel for iOS and Android — to make managing your photos simple, just like it did with file storage. Lightning quick with automatic backup and an innovative chat feature, Carousel puts a lifetime of photos at your finger tips.

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XOEye smartglasses could be the all-work, no-play wearable that people actually use – Conceived in Nashville and destined for the factory floor, the XOEye XOnes aim to bring blue-collar productivity to the face computer space.

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Showdown follow-up: Evernote vs. OneNote – In part two of the Evernote vs. OneNote comparison, Patrick Gray focuses on the usability difference between the applications.

Gamify your apps to increase user interaction and build loyalty – Starbucks and American Airlines apply game mechanics and rewards systems to their non-game apps to engage users. Read these gamification basics so you can start building “sticky” apps.

You can drive, you just can’t have any fun: Ford MyKey curbs teen drivers – Introduced in the 2009 Ford Taurus but now widely available in Ford and Lincoln models, MyKey comes with some basic boundaries already set. The vehicle won’t go over 80 MPH, it shows speed warnings, and—in a true coup d’état for any parent—it disables the radio until the teen driver buckles up. The truck limits the radio volume to 45% to help teens listen for traffic cues. MyKey even disables adult radio stations on satellite radio and warns drivers about low fuel earlier.

Google Voice: A cheapskate’s guide to cheap VoIP – Here’s how you can make and receive Google Voice phone calls from any old wired phone you may have lying around your house. The only problem is that this might not be your best solution. That’s coming in a later article.

60 Movies, TV Shows on Amazon Every Geek Should Watch – Amazon Instant Video just doesn’t get the same recognition that Netflix does. There’s a couple reasons for that. One is that Netflix has amazing original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. But there’s also the fact that Amazon’s unlimited streaming offering for $99 a year Amazon Prime members has a more limited catalog of films and shows. But limited is all in how you look at it.

Security:

Heartbleed: Anatomy of OpenSSL’s password, crypto-key leaking bug – The OpenSSL bug dubbed Heartbleed is so bad, switching off the internet for a while sounds like a fantastic idea. A tiny flaw in the widely used encryption library allows anyone to trivially and secretly dip into vulnerable systems, from your bank’s HTTPS server to your private VPN, to steal passwords, login cookies, private crypto-keys and much more. How, in 2014, is this possible?

Checkout this tool by Filippo Valsorda – You’ll note that this site (as per the graphic below), is unaffected by Heartbleed.

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Google Services Updated to Address OpenSSL CVE-2014-0160 (the Heartbleed bug) – You may have heard of “Heartbleed,” a flaw in OpenSSL that could allow the theft of data normally protected by SSL/TLS encryption. We’ve assessed this vulnerability and applied patches to key Google services such as Search, Gmail, YouTube, Wallet, Play, Apps, and App Engine.  Google Chrome and Chrome OS are not affected. We are still working to patch some other Google services. We regularly and proactively look for vulnerabilities like this — and encourage others to report them — so that that we can fix software flaws before they are exploited.

WordPress releases important security update – WordPress 3.8.2 is now available. This is an important security release for all previous versions and you should update immediately. This releases fixes a weakness that could let an attacker force their way into your site by forging authentication cookies. This was discovered and fixed by Jon Cave of the WordPress security team. The new release also contains a fix to prevent a user with the Contributor role from improperly publishing posts. This release also fixes nine bugs and contains three other security hardening changes.

56% of employees still receive no security awareness training – A new research survey by EMA takes you inside today’s organizations to reveal how employee decisions related to information security can significantly increase organizational risk. The report examines the implementation of security awareness training in government, public and private companies and non-profit groups.

According to employee responses in the survey report:

    30% leave mobile devices unattended in their vehicle

33% use the same password for both work and personal devices

35% have clicked on a link in an email from an unknown sender

58% have sensitive information on their mobile devices

59% store work information in the cloud.

Canada halts online tax returns in wake of Heartbleed – Canada Revenue Agency has halted online filing of tax returns by the country’s citizens following the disclosure of the Heartbleed security vulnerability that rocked the Internet this week. The agency has suspended public access to its online services as a preventive measure to protect the information it holds, while it investigates the potential impact on tax payer information, it said. It reiterated the Minister’s decision in a statement about the Heartbleed bug on its homepage.

Company News:

Facebook faces class action suit in Canada over interception of private messages – The lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court alleges that URLs (uniform resource locators) in the private messages were “harvested” by Facebook in violation of its users’ privacy, without their knowledge or consent, Rochon Genova, the law firm representing the users, said Wednesday. Facebook did not disclose to users that their private messages would be intercepted and scanned, and the contents of those messages treated as “likes” for third-party sites through the social plug-in function, according to the law firm. The social networking company was not immediately available for comment.

HP to pay $108 million for overseas bribery and corruption – An international subsidiary of HP has agreed to plead guilty to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and admit to its role in bribing Russian officials to secure a big contract there, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The U.S. is also entering into “criminal resolutions” with HP subsidiaries in Poland and Mexico, relating to contracts with Poland’s national police agency and Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, the DOJ said. The HP entities will pay a total of $77 million in criminal penalties and forfeiture related to those dealings. HP has also reached a deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that will cost it a further $31 million.

Dropbox for Business exits beta as storage vendor sets sights on workplaces – With its Business version, Dropbox is stepping into a highly competitive market where rivals include Box, Google, Microsoft, IBM, YouSendIt, Citrix, Accellion, Egnyte and WatchDox. Dropbox has about 275 million users of its consumer-oriented product who save about 1 billion files to the service every day. About 100,000 third-party applications have been built for the Dropbox service.

Dropbox grows leadership team with Condoleezza Rice – At first glance, it seems like an unusual choice. But the cloud storage service is trying to grow its international presence, which is something a former US Secretary of State should know how to do.

McAfee outlines its plan to secure the Internet of Things – The Intel Security subsidiary said that to ensure the foundation of IoT security, IP-connected devices must be designed with protection standards built into the devices, and not as an afterthought.

Intel to eliminate 1,500 jobs in restructuring push – As assembly and testing moves towards Asia, Intel is closing facilities in Costa Rica, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Games and Entertainment:

Critics Call Comcast’s Time Warner Cable Deal ‘Unthinkable’ – Comcast’s proposed $45 buyout of Time Warner Cable is “unthinkable,” a coalition of more than 50 public interest groups wrote in a letter to U.S. regulators on Tuesday. The merger, which would combine the two largest cable companies in the country, would harm competition while offering no “tangible benefits” to consumers, according to the groups, which urged regulators to block the deal because it would give Comcast too much market power.

Humble Bundle for PC and Android 9 Now Includes 9 Awesome Games for One Low Price – The Humble Bundle is known to be the best deal in gaming, but the current Humble Bundle 9 for PC and Android takes it to a whole new level. The final few games have been revealed for this deal, bringing the total to nine. You can get all of them for just a few bucks on all available platforms, potentially saving a boatload of cash and doing some good in the process.

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This War Of Mine turns war survivors tales into game design – The teaser video for This War Of Mine begins with soldiers running through an urban landscape. It’s a deliberate misdirection. This is a game about war, but not about soldiers. It’s not about fighting a war; it’s about surviving one—as a civilian.

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How to get Hearthstone on the iPad right now – Blizzard’s wildly popular digital CCG Hearthstone finally released on the iPad last week, but it unfortunately only landed in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The global release is a slow rollout rather than an instant launch, and Blizzard has stated that the official North American app will be released SoonTM. If you can’t wait, though, you can still grab the app and begin playing in the bathroom or during your commute right now — you just need to follow a few simple steps.

Bethesda’s The Evil Within Gameplay trailer terrifies – The following presentation is not for children. It’s not for the especially faint of heart, either. Tango Gameworks and Bethesda Softworks present The Evil Within in an early gameplay trailer for PAX East weekend, showing off their vision for a horror game like no other.

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Game developer: Xbox One performance matching PS4 “physically impossible” – Late last month, a discussion with Oddworld Inhabitants’ co-founder Lorne Lanning was posted over at Xbox Achievements, where it was said he believed the performance difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 was closing. As it turns out, his statements were misinterpreted.

The Last of Us Remastered official for PS4 this summer – After seeing a teaser of this title this morning, it’s been made official: The Last of Us Remastered is coming to PlayStation 4. This game was a massive title last year, winning awards aplenty and scoring quite a few positive reviews while it was at it. Now Sony has made clear that they intend to bring it back to the future with a Remastered edition this summer, only on PlayStation 4.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Stanford project turns Xbox 360 controller into human sensor – A project at Stanford University has team members modifing an Xbox 360 controller so that it can monitor human vital signs like heart rate, blood flow and more, which could be used in future games.

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1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun – Yes, 1 in 4. In other words, a quarter of Americans do not understand one of the most fundamental principles of basic science. So that’s where we are as a society right now. The survey, conducted by the National Science Foundation, included more than 2,200 participants in the U.S., AFP reports. It featured a nine-question quiz about physical and biological science and the average score was a 6.5. And the fact that only 74 percent of participants knew that the Earth revolved around the sun is perhaps less alarming than the fact that only 48 percent knew that humans evolved from earlier species of animals. Here’s the thing, though: Americans actually fared better than Europeans who took similar quizzes — at least when it came to the sun and Earth question. Only 66 percent of European Union residents answered that one correctly.

Memory lane: before everyone loved Windows XP, they hated it – It wasn’t meant to be this way. Windows XP, now no longer supported, wasn’t meant to be popular. For all its popularity and sustained usage, people seem to have forgotten something important about it: it sucked.

Cortana gives Siri some attitude in parody clip from Arsenio Hall Show – Microsoft’s announcement of its Cortana voice command digital assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 did not go unnoticed by the media. This week, the U.S. late night talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show decided to pit a fictional version of Cortana up against Apple’s iOS assistant Siri. As you can see from the clip (which has a few elements that may be considered NSFW), Hall tries to compare how the two virtual assistant work with similar requests. It would appear that Hall’s version of Cortana has a bit more attitude than the more polite Siri as she proceeds to make fun of the Los Angeles Lakers, going out for grilled cheese sandwiches instead of making them at home, and more.

Land Rover Transparent Bonnet concept lets you see what’s under the car – Land Rover has unveiled a new concept system that makes the hood of the car see through so that the driver can see what is under the car and out of their line of sight. The tech is called the Transparent Bonnet concept and provides a full view of what is under and in front of the car, so drivers can see hidden obstacles. Land Rover says that the transparent bonnet system is part of a suite of concept tech being showcased in the Discovery Vision Concept car at the New York International Motor Show.

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Something to think about:

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.”

–    Dan Zadra

Today’s Free Downloads:

WifiInfoView – WifiInfoView scans the wireless networks in your area and displays extensive information about them, including: Network Name (SSID), MAC Address, PHY Type (802.11g or 802.11n), RSSI, Signal Quality, Frequency, Channel Number, Maximum Speed, Company Name, Router Model and Router Name (Only for routers that provides this information), and more. When you select a wireless network in the upper pane of this tool, the lower pane displays the Wi-Fi information elements received from this device, in hexadecimal format. WifiInfoView also has a summary mode, which displays a summary of all detected wireless networks, grouped by channel number, company that manufactured the router, PHY type, or the maximum speed.

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NetHotfixScanner – Network Hotfix Scanner is a free advanced hotfix check utility that scans network computers for missing hotfixes and patches, and helps you download and install them. NetHotfixScanner gives you a quick look at the hotfixes and patches installed or missed on any remote computer in your corporate network, it tells you by colored icons specific security bulletin rating ( critical, important, moderate ), title, description and bulletin URL. The tool is designed with a user-friendly interface and is easy to use.

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Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows – Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple. Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

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BMW M3 Challenge – Start the ignition to see just what the V8 high-rev engine is capable of. Shift up through the gears to propel the BMW M3 Coupé forwards as it constantly pushes the boundaries of driving pleasure even further. Brake as you approach the first bend but keep your steering tight, you don’t want to lose your advantage. Think you could have performed better? Then try again. Thanks to the BMW M3 Challenge, the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit is all yours. Configure your BMW M3 Coupé using original paint finishes and enjoy the powerful sound of the engine at 8,300 rpm – until you have to brake again that is.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Come to Oz for sun, surf, ratting on co-workers and surveillance: Government workers prohibited from tweeting about their jobs as A-G labels Snowden ‘traitor’ – Australia’s deserved reputation as a nation whose government likes to pry into almost everything online has “improved” thanks to two new incidents. The first event saw Australia’s government promulgate and then retrospectively made secret new social media rules for Australian Government employees. The rules, allegedly published here by Fairfax media, include a guideline that government employees social media activity must not be “so harsh or extreme in their criticism of the Government, Government policies, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies, that they could raise questions about the employee’s capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially”. There’s also this nasty rat-out-your-colleagues provision:”If an employee becomes aware of another employee who is engaging in conduct that may breach this policy there is an expectation that the employee will report the conduct to the Department. This means that if you receive or become aware of a social media communication by another PM&C employee that is not consistent with this policy, you should advise that person accordingly and inform your supervisor.” Even better, the policy also catches any comment that might “compromise public confidence in the agency or the APS”. The policy not only makes it a career-ending move to make Facebook or Twitter posts that criticise the government, in particular ministers, even anonymously: it also encourages staff to “dob in a mate”, “d0xing” (outing) workmates that use anonymous accounts to criticise the government. (Looks as if Australia has been taken over by fascists.  Is it time to revolt and take it into the streets?) 

Supreme Court weighing when online speech becomes illegal threat – The Supreme Court is being asked to decide that unanswered question as prosecutions for online rants, from Facebook to YouTube, are becoming commonplace. Authorities are routinely applying an old-world 1932 statute concerning extortion to today’s online world, where words don’t always mean what they seem. The latest case involving the legal parameters of online speech before the justices concerns a Pennsylvania man sentenced to 50 months in prison after being convicted on four counts of the interstate communication of threats. Defendant Anthony Elonis’ 2010 Facebook rant concerned attacks on an elementary school, his estranged wife, and even law enforcement.

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