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The ‘I hate passwords’ guide – Until a safer, saner alternative is available, we’re stuck with an insecure, outdated authentication technique.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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 30, 2014

  1. Thanks for continued great coverage of new tech stories.