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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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