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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

12 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 16, 2014


     Bill–what was this last post that was mailed in your name-?It was  something to be deleted-clicked -and then led nowhere?I didn’t click on it…it was  dated 4/15/2014.  

    • Hi Alan,

      My apologies – you got lost in the downtime.

      The post you referred to was a test post enabled to confirm certain settings on the blog platform. It should not however been posted. Windows Live Writer will occasionally screw up when I make small changes.



  2. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    Checking to see if everything is OK? Been missing the newsletter.

    Wondered if you missed this, like 99% of the internet seems to have…

    News from The Associated Press

    What Scalia had to say:

    The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunken­ness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but merely called in a traffic violation—and on that point his word is as good as his victim’s.

    Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving.

    And it seems to go unnoticed in the stream of the memes, every day living and complaints… What has to happen before people sit up and notice they are loosing it all…..inch by inch…?!!!

    • Hey Delenn13,

      After 6+ years of being flu free (pardon the alliteration 🙂 ) it (the flu), finally dropped by and set out to damn near kill me. Worst flu I’ve ever had and it’s still hanging on.

      In the 8 years I’ve been posting to the net, this episode is the first time I’ve been knocked out of commission by a bug. Miserable bloody thing. I’m planning on being back next Monday (fingers crossed.)

      Agreed – “it seems to go unnoticed in the stream of the memes, every day living and complaints…” And, I fully understand why.

      The erosion of freedoms, at virtually ever level; the enormous increase in Police brutality and unrestrained violence (almost always swept under the carpet); the breakdown in trust in the political decision making process; the realization that the Internet is nothing more than a pipeline into the physiological makeup of its users (abused at every level – corporate – government – personal); the continuing breakdown in so called “family values”; the erosion of the first line of defense against government intrusion – the middle class. I could go on.

      All of the above, and much more, are every day background issues for my friends and neighbours. I think people are shell-shocked and simply can’t assimilate any more.

      The plain truth is – we should all be very, very frightened.



  3. Aaron Windows ME Guy

    Hope you’re feeling better soon, Bill. Your website is my main source of tech news and I hope it gets back up soon. Take it easy.