Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 30, 2014

Password breaches: End-user carnage is unspoken heartache;  18 Streaming TV Boxes Ranked from Worst to First;  Windows maintenance, done dirt-cheap;  Make browsing the web faster and more efficient on Android;   Why, and how, to encrypt your Android device;  Google Camera update: fisheye, timer, and more;  Bombshell TrueCrypt advisory: Backdoor? Hack? Hoax? None of the above?  TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he’ll use instead;  RATs Come to Android;  Intel unveils new tech for self-driving cars;  How to get the free back massage you deserve;  LinuxLive USB Creator (free);  Malvertising rise pushes ad industry to action.

Password breaches: End-user carnage is unspoken heartache – From a corporate perspective, the reputation backlash and financial hit from a password or data breach has become so stifling that Spotify reacted this week to the theft of a single user’s data by asking nearly 40 million other customers to change their passwords. Target’s breach bill could eventually top $1 billion — 2.8 percent of its market cap. The CIO and the CEO have resigned. The company’s year-over-year 2013 fourth-quarter profits were down 46 percent. The end-user carnage? Unknown because losing your personal data can easily turn into 20-miles of uncharted broken glass. Wait until your biometric data is hijacked. Try changing your fingerprint, or iris scan – or undergoing a nose job, chin lift, or eye-lid reconstruction — to update your biometric passcodes.

18 Streaming TV Boxes Ranked from Worst to First – Which streaming device should you pick? Clearly, a lot comes down to content. If you’re a Yupp TV fanatic, you’ll pick the Sony NSZ-GS8, ASUS Cube, or VIZIO Co-Star LT. Decision made. Suppose, however, you’d simply like a nice blend of Netflix and Hulu, plus the ability to use your friend’s roommate’s password to access HBO Go? We set out to rank the 18 most recent streaming media players based on specs, features, usability and expert reviews. We considered every major streamer released or updated since January 2013.

Windows maintenance, done dirt-cheap – To read the advertising by Windows maintenance suite vendors, you’d think Microsoft sells technologically challenged operating systems that will function properly only with the grace of third-party intervention. In truth, the utilities that Microsoft has included with all its operating systems since XP, a select freebie or two, and a modicum of knowledge are all you need. (And if you can automate some maintenance tasks, all the better.) Here’s how to keep Windows humming as sweetly as when it was first installed.

How to make browsing the web faster and more efficient on Android – Smartphones deliver a gigantic world of online content to you wherever you are, one page at a time. But that’s sort of the problem: One. Page. At. A. Time. The fundamentally modal nature of browsing the web on a mobile device leaves you staring at a page while you wait for it to load, and the myriad of sluggish URL shorteners and awful mobile webpages certainly don’t help. With a few tweaks and apps, you can make browsing the web on Android a faster, more efficient experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Why, and how, to encrypt your Android device – There was a time, not so long ago, that the encryption of an electronic device might have caused others to assume that you had something to hide. Well, things have changed. We live in a post-Snowden world where it is simply wise to assume that your data is being monitored, or at least cached, by other agencies. And with phone and tablet thefts being so common, making sure a thief can’t explore your digital life is of paramount importance. Locking down your ones and zeros isn’t just for the paranoid anymore. One of the simplest places to start is to encrypt your Android device—scrambling its embedded data.

Google Camera update: fisheye, timer, and more – Digital photography enthusiasts, rejoice (if you’re on Android, anyway): Google has pushed out an update for Google Camera, bringing with it some requested features following the major change that took place last month, among them being a couple new panorama modes.

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Bombshell TrueCrypt advisory: Backdoor? Hack? Hoax? None of the above? – Wednesday’s bombshell advisory declaring TrueCrypt unsafe to use touched off a tsunami of comments on Ars, Twitter, and elsewhere. At times, the armchair pundits sounded like characters in Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK, as they speculated wildly—and contradictorily—about what was behind a notice that left so many more questions than answers. Here are some of the more common theories, along with facts that either support or challenge their accuracy.

Sunrise Calendar Rises on Android and Looks Good Doing It – The latest app to make its way over to Android from iOS is Sunrise Calendar, which has proven itself a worthy competitor to Fantastical on Apple’s platform. Now that Sunrise is on Android, it offers yet another way to keep multiple calendars synced across devices and platforms. If you like pretty apps, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer looking calendar. If you like functionality, this is still solid.

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Google deflects YouTube streaming blame with Video Quality Report – We’ve all been there; that YouTube video stops loading, and you curse the service under your breath. To explain away the troubles, Google has released their Video Quality Report in the US, which gives us an idea of whether it’s Google that can’t get video to us, or (more likely) our Internet Service Provider (ISP) who is flatlining our cat videos.

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So you want to be an Android developer? Start with these resources – William J. Francis answers a question he is frequently asked by readers — how do I become an Android developer? — by offering advice to newbies and sharing go-to resource links.

Big data does conception: Ovuline’s curious sex map – The number one medical app on iTunes, Ovia, uses big data to help women get pregnant. Parent company Ovuline just released a user data sex map showing conservative states lead in “getting it on” to win the baby race.

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Security:

RATs Come to Android: It’s Scary, But You’re (Probably) Safe – If you saw the Edward Snowden interview yesterday, you know that government agencies can own your phone “the minute it connects to their network.” They can turn on the phone, monitor your traffic…and plant Remote Access Trojans, or RATs. RATs have been a problem on personal computers (all personal computers) for years, but now they’re making the jump to Android.

TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he’ll use instead – The TrueCrypt project abruptly imploded on Wednesday – leaving folks in the infosec world scratching heads and scrambling to recommend alternatives. In the past hour, crypto-guru Bruce Schneier has told us he’s switched back to Symantec’s PGPDisk to encrypt his data. “I have no idea what’s going on with TrueCrypt,” he added on his blog. “Speculations include a massive hack of the TrueCrypt developers, some Lavabit-like forced shutdown, and an internal power struggle within TrueCrypt. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what develops.”

Bitcoin Jesus turns the tables on hacker, offers $20,000 bounty for his identity – Cheap password hacks. Extortion. It’s just another day’s work for a cybercriminal in 2014. Recently, however, one criminal learned that not all victims are going to roll over and give in to demands. Bitcoin icon Roger Ver decided to turn the tables on his attacker. Ver’s response? Send Nitrous a link to a public Facebook post in which a $20,000 bounty was offered to anyone who could uncover his identity and help authorities track him down.

Malvertising rise pushes ad industry to action – Online ads can be annoying, but increasingly they’re malicious, too. In the wake of a highly publicized “malvertising” incident last December, during which attackers were able to deliver malware through online ads published on Yahoo.com, that question is now top of mind for some.

Latest eBay flaw is a rookie mistake for a website – In the wake of revealing that it was the victim of a data breach, researchers have discovered that the eBay site also suffers from serious security issues.

Company News:

Microsoft and Salesforce.com officially announce partnership – The rumours were true, Microsoft and Salesforce today announced deal which will see the two cloud services blend together to help customers be “more productive” with salesforce heading to Office 365.

Appeals court nixes Apple bid to delay e-books damages trial – In a brief order, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied Apple’s petition for an emergency stay of district court proceedings pending resolution of an appeal concerning the case’s class status. The three-judge panel determined that an immediate appeal was “unwarranted,” clearing the way for the attorneys general in 33 states to pursue hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Apple.

Dish Network becomes largest company so far to accept Bitcoin payments – The satellite TV provider Dish Network has announced it will start accepting Bitcoin payments starting in the third quarter of this year, becoming the largest company yet to embrace the currency.

Intel unveils new tech for self-driving cars – Intel has announced the commercial release of a new family of hardware and software products designed for automotive safety and entertainment technology, with the ultimate goal of helping to deliver self-driving cars to the market. According to Intel, its new family of In-Vehicle Solutions products are designed to enable car makers and their suppliers to “quickly and easily deliver in-vehicle experiences”, and includes processors, operating system, and development kits.

Games and Entertainment:

Dragon Quest 8 Is Now Playable on an iPhone, iPad or Android Device – One of Japanese game studio Level-5’s most critically acclaimed roleplaying game is now available for $20 on iOS or Android phones and tablets, and includes tweaks to both the gameplay and graphics.

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Microsoft confirms ‘Quantum Break’ coming in 2015 to Xbox One – Microsoft has now confirmed that Quantum Break, one of the first Xbox One games that was announced over a year ago, will now be released in 2015, with more details at Gamescom in August.

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War Thunder Ground Forces hit the tanks, PS4 FTP in June – There’s nothing like a good free World War II massively multiplayer online game to start your early weekend off right. War Thunder is one of several of such games out on the market today – you’ll also find World of Warplanes (with airplanes) and World of Tanks (with tanks), but until now, no game with the whole shebang. While we’re still waiting for the troops, War Thunder Ground Forces brings on both tanks and planes in one single battlefield.

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TwoDots Hits iPad and iPhone with More Strategic Gameplay than the Original – Dots was one of the surprise hits of mobile gaming last year with its minimalistic, yet highly addictive gameplay. Now the sequel has arrived on iOS with many of the same mechanics, but a few new twists as well. You’re still connecting the dots in TwoDots, but now you have a purpose.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Even limited to 25 mph, Google’s car will arrive faster than you think – Google’s new self-driving car prototype surprised even robo-car experts and suggests the company is further along than expected.

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Wave a hand to make your apartment feel bigger – If you’re worried about the decrease of affordable living space in urban areas, you can breathe a little easier. MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places research group is on the case. With the wave of your hand, this 182-square-foot mechanical box will respond to your gestures, pulling components out to turn empty floor space into a bedroom, office, living room, or dining room, and tucking them back in when you don’t need them anymore. What’s more, the overall contraption can be pushed around to expand a bathroom to twice its size or double a kitchen’s counter space, thus maximizing the limited space in small abodes.

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Video screenshot by Rusty Blazenhoff/CNET

How to get the free back massage you deserve – Bky kid makes it even easier for children to run all over their parents, in a good way, with its cool line of Play Mat T-shirts. Each tee has a fun track printed on the back, so kids can run their toy trucks and trains all over them, inadvertently giving grown-ups a massage of sorts. These specially designed shirts are available at the bky kid Etsy shop in sizes for men and women, at around $23 (roughly £14, AU$25). Take a look, there’s even a space-themed glow-in-the dark version.

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High school Photoshops yearbook photos to show less female skin – Technology is a great way to change how things truly are. It takes reality and makes it virtual. It takes intelligence and makes it artificial. Now one Utah high school has used technology to make teenagers more modest. Anyone familiar with teenagers knows this isn’t easy. However, in this case, the modesty I’m talking about is less spiritual than physical. For, as KSTU-TV reports, Wasatch High School decided to whip out its Photoshop skills in order to make female students look more, well, demure in their yearbook photos. Naturally, demure in Utah means exhibiting less flesh. The less flesh a woman exhibits, the less impropriety there is likely to be. (Huh??)

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KSTU-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Something to think about:

“Honesty pays, but it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people.”

–    Kin Hubbard

Today’s Free Downloads:

MicroSIP – MicroSIP – open source portable SIP softphone based on PJSIP stack for Windows OS.

It allows you to make high quality VoIP calls (person-to-person or on regular telephones) via open SIP protocol. From cloud of SIP providers you can choose best for you, register account and use it with MicroSIP. You’ll get free person-to-person calls and cheap international calls.

Main features in MicroSIP:

Small footprint (>2.5MB) and RAM usage (>5MB) – written in C and C++ with minimal possible system resources usage

Usability – user friendly in daily usage

Functionality – voice, messaging, presence, video h264 and h263+

Compatibility – strongly conform to SIP standards

Voice quality – supports best voice codecs: speex@8,16,32kHz, iLBC@8kHz, GSM@8kHz, G.711@8kHz (PCMU and PCMA), G.722@16kHz, G.729@8kHz, SILK@8,12,16,24kHz, Linear PCM@8,16,44kHz

Privacy – configurable encryption TLS / SRTP for control and media

Portability – stores setting in ini file

Multilanguage – included localization files for brazilian, bulgarian, chinese, dutch, estonian, finnish, french, german, hebrew, hungarian, italian, korean, norwegian, polish, russian, spanish, swedish, and ukrainian.

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LinuxLive USB Creator – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it.

This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation.

Features:

Free and Open-source

LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

No reboot needed

Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux ? No need with LiLi. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux in Windows just out of the box !

Supports many Linux distributions

Wow ! Did you see that never-ending list ? They are almost all there : Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence

Having a Live USB is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your datas and install softwares. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload

SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installs and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download it.SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in one click.

And a lot more!

Intelligent processing : LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported

Hidden install : LiLi hides the Linux install, your key stays clean

File integrity : tells you if your ISO is corrupted

Keeps your data on your USB device (format only if needed)

Intelligent format : can format disks bigger than 32 GB

Auto-Update : automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available

Also works with .IMG files (experimental)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden never blew a whistle, US spy boss claims – NSA leaker Edward Snowden says he repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors and with oversight groups that the scope of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs was too broad, but the government claims that isn’t the case.

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on Wednesday – the first time Snowden has appeared on US television since fleeing the country in May 2013 – the former intelligence contractor said that his attempts to question the legality of the NSA’s programs fell on deaf ears.

“I actually did go through channels, and that is documented,” Snowden said. “The NSA has records, they have copies of emails, right now, to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me, raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.”

But the US government claims the only email communication it can find between Snowden and the NSA’s Office of General Counsel is on a trivial legal matter, and that it “did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence posted an image of Snowden’s email and its redacted reply on its IC on the Record Tumblr site.

Turkish court axes YouTube ban over free speech concerns – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to restrict social media and Internet usage have been struck down for a second time by the country’s highest court.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court struck down a ban on video-sharing site YouTube in the country on Thursday, less than two months after the court ruled that Erdogan’s Twitter ban was also against the law.

The May 29 ruling strikes down the blockade, which was imposed on March 27. The next step is for the Transportation and Communication Ministry and the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) to implement the court’s order. The ban had been appealed by YouTube, Turkish scholar Kerem Altıparmak, and President Metin Feyzioğlu of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations.

The YouTube ban has contributed to large-scale demonstrations and protests about the government’s increasingly restrictive policies. YouTube declined to comment for this story.

Edward Snowden: ‘Fourth Amendment no longer exists’ – In an interview with NBC News that aired Wednesday night, the NSA whistleblower who leaked sensitive government documents through the media, said the amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures “as it was written no longer exists.” Specifically, Snowden accused the US government of deciding in secret and without any public debate to separate the search and seizure aspects of the amendment.

“All of your private records,” Snowden told NBC’s Brian Williams. “All of your private communications, all of your transactions, all of your associations, who you talk to, who you love, what you buy, what you read, all of these things can be seized and then held by the government and then searched later for any reason, hardly without any justification, without any reason, without any real oversight, without any real accountability for those who do wrong.”

As a result, Snowden said, the Fourth Amendment now no longer holds the same meaning it once held.

US tries to debunk Snowden email claims – The US government has released an email by Edward Snowden in a bid to debunk his claim that he raised concerns about mass spying programs before fleeing and engineering huge media leaks.

Snowden, now exiled in Russia, said in an interview aired by NBC on Wednesday that he had gone through official channels to question the legality of National Security Agency surveillance.

The former intelligence contractor mentioned a specific email he had written to the NSA general counsel’s office detailing his concerns.

In response, the agency released what President Barack Obama’s administration said was the only such communication found in the archives from Snowden on the issue, and said it did not prove his claims.

But Snowden subsequently told The Washington Post the NSA’s release was “incomplete”, pointing to additional correspondence with the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate.

Snowden said he had also raised concerns about the NSA’s use of data from major US internet companies.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 29, 2014

Court upholds “First Amendment” right to film police;  6 awesome new Android apps;  PC Battlefield 3 free to download for the next week;  How to run virtual machines from a flash drive;  How to automate basic PC maintenance tasks;  19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  The 25 Best Fitness Apps;  New dashboard gives eagle’s-eye view of Microsoft’s security flaws;  10 indispensable iPhone apps for Windows users;  Readers’ choice: What every small-business sysadmin needs;  TrueCrypt considered HARMFUL;  Apple Buys Beats Electronics For $3B;  Some Antivirus Tools Wildly Effective Against Zero-Day Malware;  Google Admits It Hires Too Many White Dudes;  Advanced Uninstaller PRO (free).

In NBC interview, Snowden says NSA watches our digital thoughts develop: State Secretary Kerry calls Snowden a “coward,” asks him to “face the music” in US – In his first interview with a major US network news organization since leaking a treasure trove of documents related to the US national security apparatus, former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden told NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams that he has been misrepresented by the mainstream media outlets, and aimed to set the record straight. (The only “coward” in this equation is Kerry – a “coward” who has surreptitiously worked , and continues to do so, to strip you (your family and friends, your employer, your government, …) of the right to privacy – no matter the country you reside in. As for “facing the music” – the time will come when Obama and the rest of his gang will be held accountable.) 

Court upholds “First Amendment” right to film police – A federal appeals court has ruled that the public has the right to film cops in public and has reinstated a lawsuit against a local New Hampshire police department brought by a woman arrested for filming a traffic stop. The decision is but one in a string of decisions that are slowly sticking the needle into laws nationwide barring the recording of police as they perform their duties. But some states, like Massachusetts, outlaw the secret audio recording of police. A woman accused of secretly turning on the audio recording feature of her mobile phone while she was being arrested was charged with wiretapping two weeks ago in Massachusetts.

The only thing you need to know to master Windows 8.1 – Windows 8 / 8.1 is a dramatic departure from the traditional Windows interface, and it can be overwhelming to find what you’re looking for unless you know this one trick.

Have operating system, will travel: How to run virtual machines from a flash drive – Virtual machines are usually restricted to a single box, but Portable VirtualBox lets you install VMs on a flash drive so you can run your PC-in-a-PC on any PC.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 awesome new Android apps you should check out – Google Play is no longer a wasteland of mediocre apps and games. In fact, there’s plenty of awesome stuff coming out all the time — here are our top picks.

19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 19 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

How to automate basic PC maintenance tasks – Performing regular and periodic maintenance is key to keeping your PC running in tip-top shape. It takes discipline to remember to do it, but fear not, forgetful desk jockeys: You can automate many basic PC maintenance tasks, such as removing temporary files, fixing drive errors, keeping drivers up-to-date, and backing up files. Beyond helping to keep your own PC finely tuned, this can be especially useful for those who are the on-call tech for family and friends. At least basic maintenance can be taken care of without your intervention.

The 25 Best Fitness Apps – If you want to monitor or track your fitness and diet goals, using your smartphone is an ideal way to do it. Because your smartphone and apps are always with you, they are a constant reminder to check in on your progress, stay the course, and keep your motivation up. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or walk more steps in a day, or make time for a seven-minute power workout in your living room, fitness apps can help.

Home Screen Replacement Nova Launcher Headed for v3.0 Update, Beta Available Now – Android offers plenty of customization options, but few are as powerful as replacing the home screen. With a few taps you can change the look and feel of one of the core parts of the experience. Nova Launcher is a well-known alternative to stock launchers, and it’s currently beta testing a big update to v3.0, and you can try it right now.

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Mozilla reveal their Firefox OS ‘Flame’ phone, now available for preorder – Mozilla has finally released their native Firefox OS handset, available for under $200. The phone is available for preorder now and features respectable specifications for the competitive pricing.

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New dashboard gives eagle’s-eye view of Microsoft’s security flaws – Microsoft has launched a new dashboard service designed to make it easier for systems admins to view the latest security bulletins for a range of Microsoft software. Among the products for which security bulletins are available in the dashboard are Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, some server products, and even developer tools like Visual Studio. In many cases, this includes older versions; the tool even offers bulletins for Windows XP, for example, which as we all know isn’t getting any more security fixes.

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10 indispensable iPhone apps for Windows users – If you’re one of the two out of three Windows users who also own Apple products, you may not realize you can use the traditionally adversarial platforms to get a productivity edge. Microsoft made waves when it launched Office Mobile for iPhone and the Office for iPad apps, but those were just the biggest steps in a strategy the company has been building for awhile. As a result, there are a slew of iPhone apps to help those who depend on Microsoft tools to get things done. Here are the 10 most essential.

Readers’ choice: What every small-business sysadmin needs – In response to a previous article, a number of readers have submitted their views on essential systems administration tools. A few responses stand out from the rest.

Mary Meeker’s Famous Internet Trend Report – 2014 Edition – A must-read that’s chock full of critical knowledge. Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker’s data dumps have become a highly anticipated event in the tech industry, as her research helps everyone else level up.

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Pocket goes Premium, gets paid option for power users – Pocket, which is fast becoming the standard save function for avid readers and procrastinators everywhere, is going premium. The free-to-use service is adding a paid layer, which gives you breakout features like advanced search and a web archive tool. For power users, Pocket Premium is an attractive offering.

The $199 MOD-T Printer May Not Amaze, But It Points Towards The Future Of Home 3D Printing – FDM printers like this one will end up even cheaper than this one in a few months and if HP gets into the act I could foresee a $100 printer with a replaceable $80 filament cartridges for a bit of “give away the razors to sell blades” action on the printer giant’s part. Will folks like Makerbot ever go down to $200? Perhaps, but at this price the margins quickly become razor thin.

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Lookout adds ‘Theft Alerts’ for real-time theft monitoring – If you’ve ever had a smartphone stolen from you, you know it’s a worrisome time. There are various methods to remotely wipe the device, depending on the operating system you use, but what about the device itself? Can it be recovered? With changes made to device location service Lookout, it’s much likelier that you can recover it.

Meet Simband, Samsung’s Next-Gen Health Tracker – Samsung on Wednesday unveiled Simband, a prototype wearable health and wellness tracker capable of measuring a wearer’s heart rate, blood pressure, and more on a 24/7 basis.

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Security:

TrueCrypt considered HARMFUL – downloads, website meddled to warn: ‘It’s not secure’ – The website of popular drive-encryption software TrueCrypt has been ripped up and replaced with a stark warning to not use the crypto-tool. It’s also distributing a new version of the software, 7.2, which appears to have been compromised. It’s feared the project, run by a highly secretive team of anonymous developers, has been hijacked by unknown parties. The easy-to-use data-protecting utility is favored by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and his journo pals, as well as plenty of privacy-conscious people. (Thanks Aseem)

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iCloud data not compromised in latest hack claims Apple – It was reported yesterday that iPhone and iPad users in Australia found their devices locked remotely and were being prompted for money by the hackers. It was revealed that the hacking was made possible by compromised Apple IDs from the region, which security experts believe were stolen from certain websites frequented by the users and were later locked using the “Find My iPhone” feature. Now, nearly a day after the initial reports, Apple has acknowledged the mass hacking of these devices in Australia, and urged users to change their Apple ID passwords immediately.

Root backdoor found in surveillance gear used by law enforcement – Software used by law enforcement organizations to intercept the communications of suspected criminals contains a litany of critical weaknesses, including an undocumented backdoor secured with a hardcoded password, security researchers said today. In a scathing advisory published Wednesday, the researchers recommended people stop using the Nice Recording eXpress voice-recording package.

Cyber Scammers Still Beating the Good Guys, Survey Finds – In reality, incidents of cybercrime and their associated financial costs are on the rise, yet organizations are still unprepared to deal with these threats, according to the 2014 U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey, a joint effort from business consulting firm PwC, the U.S. Secret Service, Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Division, and CSO magazine. The study of more than 500 U.S. executives and security experts found that just 38 percent of companies have a risk- and impact-based strategy to prioritize security investments.

Some Antivirus Tools Wildly Effective Against Zero-Day Malware – A Trojan or other malicious program that’s been analyzed by antivirus researchers is very easy to detect and block. Antivirus programs handle such threats using a kind of file fingerprint known as a signature. In many cases, a single well-crafted signature can match a whole family of related malware. The real problem involves detecting zero-day threats; malware or malware variants that have never been seen before. In a recent test by AV-Test Institute, several antivirus tools proved wildly effective against zero-day threats, while others failed miserably.

Company News:

Apple Buys Beats Electronics For $3B – Apple has indeed purchased Beats, which includes both Beats Audio hardware and Beats Music, the streaming radio service that was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and longtime music industry exec Jimmy Iovine. The deal was reported to be in the works earlier this month, and was said to be worth an estimated $3.2 billion at the time, though a recent New York Post report said it was cut to $3 billion after Apple completed its due diligence. The price is indeed $3 billion, with $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock.

BlackBerry CEO: We have a lot of problems, but we’re not dead – CEO John Chen says BlackBerry can’t compete effectively against its rivals for developers – and even admits that he may not be the best person for the job – but insists that BlackBerry isn’t dead yet.

Eyeing BlackBerry customers, Symantec buys secure email app maker NitroDesk – With antivirus now dead in Symantec’s world, the company is picking up the pace on mobile security.

Sony E3 press conference to be streamed in movie theaters – Sony will be giving gamers a new option for watching its upcoming E3 press conference: your local movie theater. The company announced on its blog today that a live version of its PlayStation E3 2014 press conference will be shown at movie theaters across the United States, bringing with it some extra content and exclusive footage.

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Advisory firm urges ouster of majority of Target board members over breach – A company that advises institutional shareholders on governance risk and proxy voting issues wants seven of Target’s 10 board directors voted out over the massive data breach disclosed by the retailer last December.

Games and Entertainment:

PC Battlefield 3 free to download for the next week – Today, EA’s Origin games store announced the most lucrative freebie in its “On The House” promotional series yet: the PC version of Battlefield 3. “Add the game to your library and it’s yours forever,” EA staffer Craig Harris wrote. Just make sure you do so by June 3.

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Skillz Brings Real Money Gaming Platform to iOS – Skillz, an online gaming platform where users can win real money, made its debut today on iOS. First launched on Android last April, Skillz already boasts more than 1.5 million active mobile gaming users. At this point, 37 states covering 180 million Americans allow cash competitions in skill-based games.

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Logitech’s G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse fine-tunes your FPS performance – In the world of PC gaming peripherals, Logitech and Razer sit at the forefront, each honing and refreshing their respective products in an ever-escalating war of input device perfection. Logitech has fired the most recent shot, the tunable G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse. It has a fancy name, but does that belie a fancy mouse?

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Battlefield Hardline gameplay detailed in full – The game Battlefield Hardline has been made official by EA Games, and details have spilled which essentially detail the entire game, top to bottom. A gameplay demo session earlier this month with EA had players suggesting that there’d be a big “S.W.A.T.” element to be dealt with. From what we’re seeing in a leaked gameplay video today, it doesn’t stop there – Battlefield Hardline is all about tossing you in on a war on crime.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

iPhone-connected breathalyzer takes out top Australian tech design award – A smartphone-connected breathalyzer has taken out the top consumer electronics prize at Australia’s Good Design Awards, beating a portable cinema camera, a Kickstarter-funded charging cable and the Leap Motion Controller for the top prize.

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Google Admits It Hires Too Many White Dudes – Today, one of the valley’s biggest employers, Google, is finally opening up about workplace diversity and how it goes about hiring women and minorities. The gist is that they know they have a problem and they’re sorry, but they say it’s not entirely their fault…it’s just that there’s not enough women and minorities in tech. No surprise here from a giant tech firm in Silicon Valley, the odds are 7 male to every 3 female Googlers. But break that down into tech and non-tech jobs and the numbers skew much more heavily for male at 83%.

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eCool chills your beers with the cooling power of dirt – One of the great things about northern Canada is that the outdoors is your fridge for four months per year. Pop a case of beer out on your porch in January and you’ve got cold ones to drink in no time at all. Once spring comes along, that’s no longer possible. If you live next to a thermal mass like a lake, you can still submerge cans or bottles to cool them down in an eco-friendly fashion. But what if you don’t?

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Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel Is Kind Of An Ass – I’ve known Evan Spiegel, Snapchat CEO and co-founder, for a while now. We have had more than half a dozen in-person conversations, far more phone calls, and even shared twenty minutes together on stage at Disrupt SF. And try as I might, I’ve had a hard time liking him. Now, after reading emails sent by Evan Spiegel during his undergrad time at Stanford, I clearly understand what my instincts were telling me. Dude’s kind of a dick. You can see the whole swath of leaked emails at ValleyWag, but I can summarize them all pretty easily for you with the above paragraph.

Canada luring startups with salary rebates – Canada is actively luring startups away from Silicon Valley, doing so with a very big incentive: paying 80% of workers salaries, as well as 50% of salaries for companies that choose to set up Canadian satellite companies rather than relocating entirely to the nation.

How to break into the IT security field – IT security is under the microscope. That means a greater demand for individuals who can do the securing. Here are 5 things to know about getting into information security.

Australia and New Zealand lead in BYOA adoption: LogMeIn – The bring-your-own-application trend in the workplace is growing, and Australia and New Zealand are two countries where 44 percent of companies have already adopted it.

Something to think about:

“Voices that loud are always meant to bully. Do not be bullied. Acts of bravery don’t always take place on battlefields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and, yes your soul by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world.”

–   Anna Quindlen

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced Uninstaller PRO – Advanced Uninstaller PRO is the ultimate uninstaller for Windows, allowing you to uninstall programs quickly and completely using its simple and intuitive interface.

Advanced Uninstaller PRO features and the Installation Monitor keep track of all changes performed to your computer during software installations; this way you can later completely uninstall any program and make sure nothing is left behind. Advanced Uninstaller PRO is able to uninstall any program without a trace.

Advanced Uninstaller PRO can also remove a lot of items that other uninstallers can’t even touch. It can repair broken registry entries, clean non-functional Start Menu shortcuts, uninstall annoying browser toolbars, plugins and hijackers, remove fonts and get rid of startup programs that run in your system tray and slow down your computer.

The program is especially designed to be very clear, fast, pleasant and intuitive. Easy to read information and help is readily available throughout the program, guiding you every step of the way. (An awesome application)

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BlueStacks 0.8.10.3096 Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.

BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.

BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.

The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secretary Of State Kerry Offers Snowden A Flight If He Wants To Come Home – The U.S. Executive branch still isn’t much of a Snowden fan, despite his leaks spurring calls for change both in the Judicial and Legislative parts of the government. This is hardly surprising given that the NSA is a part of the Executive Branch. But recent comments by Secretary of State John Kerry are worth noting, as they set the tone for future dissidents, and also imply that the chance of Snowden returning home is zero for now.

Secretary Kerry, using a gendered pejorative phrase, said the following earlier today:  “He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint about what’s the matter with American surveillance. Come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case.” Kerry also offered to fly Snowden home, and quickly, if the fugitive wished.

That is precisely what Snowden should do if he wants to spend the rest of his life in a cell. So, naturally, he won’t.

Germany says ‘nein’ to NSA hacking prosecution – Officials in Germany are not planning to pursue charges over allegations that the NSA was spying on German citizens and government officials.

According to a German media report, officials do not believe they have enough evidence to press charges, even though German Chancellor Angela Merkel is thought to have been one of the targets of the surveillance.

The report suggests that German authorities have not been able to convince the media outlets that broke the story, including Der Spiegel, to name their sources or provide the documents behind their reports. As a result, prosecutors are said to lack the evidence needed to move forward with a case.

China evaluating alternatives to IBM servers to prevent surveillance – With a view to prevent surveillance by the United States, China has reportedly started evaluating alternatives to IBM servers for use in its banks.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Chinese government is taking a cautious look at its reliance on IBM servers in the banking sector, which they believe may be used for surveillance by the United States and could pose a risk to the nation’s financial security.

Government agencies such as the People’s Bank of China, and the Ministry of Finance have recommended that banks start using alternative server hardware developed by local vendors, as devices made by US companies have been reported to contain backdoors right from the start or after interception by the NSA. People familiar with the matter have chosen to stay anonymous as the information is not available for review publicly.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 28, 2014

NSA list of spied-on U.S. Citizens to be revealed soon;  Five Free VPN Services You Should Check Out;  Microsoft warns against XP registry hack;  China accuses US of ‘large-scale’ cyberspying;  Five free tools to help you translate foreign languages;  Microsoft demos live translation of Skype calls;  Adidas miCoach SMART BALL connects soccer to smartphone;  Share information between your Android device and desktop with Pushbullet;  Google’s Chromecast launches in Australia;  Iran Summons Zuckerberg Over Instagram; Police at the door? Hit the PANIC button to erase your RAM.

NSA list of spied-on U.S. Citizens to be revealed soon – Glenn Greenwald has a collection of files he’d like to share with the public. As one of the reporters to first have a peek at and chronicle the documents shared by Edward Snowden, Greenwald isn’t exactly one of the NSA’s best friends at this point. He’ll certainly not be gaining any points of positivity once he releases a list of names of citizens illegally spied on by the NSA.

China accuses US of ‘large-scale’ cyberspying – China is accusing the US of massive cyberspying a week after the US charged several Chinese military officials with snooping on US companies. In a new report called “America’s Global Surveillance Record,” the China Academy of Cyber Space accused US cybersurveillance of targeting “the Chinese government and Chinese leaders, Chinese companies, scientific research institutes, ordinary netizens, and a large number of cell phone users,” Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Microsoft warns against registry hack that allows Windows XP updates – Microsoft is publicly warning users against employing the recently revealed registry hack that allows Windows XP to continue receiving updates. The updates may cause more harm than good.

Five Free VPN Services You Should Check Out – In general, totally free high quality VPN services are few and far between. For anyone simply looking for some extra privacy or sporadically accessing a geo-restricted website these get the job done.

3 time-saving Chrome extensions that maximize your Google search efficiency – Like many folks in the Internet age, I spend a huge chunk of my time searching for information on Google. Over the years I’ve learned lots of little tricks to help make those searches faster and more effective. But if turning to advanced queries alone isn’t powerful enough for you, a handful of Google-made Chrome extensions can supercharge your scouring even more.

Share information between your Android device and desktop with Pushbullet – Jack Wallen introduces you to one of the most efficient way of sharing information between your Android device and your desktop. The best feature of Pushbullet, by far, is the notification monitoring. With this, all notifications on the phone will appear as a popup in your browser. This means you don’t have to switch back and forth between your phone and your PC while trying to be as efficient as possible, and the likelihood of you missing an important notification is far less.

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Iran Summons Zuckerberg Over Instagram, WhatsApp Complaints – Iran has summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to court over privacy concerns involving WhatsApp and Instagram. He won’t go, of course, because the U.S. and Iran do not have an extradition treaty. And because the summons is ludicrous. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the matter. Iran heavily censors the Internet, including Facebook. WhatsApp and Instagram are to be banned as well.

Microsoft demos live translation of Skype calls – Redmond showed off the tool at a shindig called Code Conference in California, and released the video below to show it off. The video uses Redmond’s usual oh-so-shiny optimistic style. If you want to see the translation in action, fast forward to about the 1:15 mark. If you can’t bear that, the video shows Skype re-voicing speech in a machine-generated voice after what looks like less than a second of processing time.

BBC iPlayer app on Windows Phone gets major update with live TV support – A year after its launch on Windows Phone 8, the BBC iPlayer app has received a major update today, with the addition of live TV and an improved interface – but BBC Radio content has been removed. Perhaps the most exciting new feature in the app is the addition of live TV, allowing viewers to watch the Beeb’s UK TV channels anywhere, although Live Restart – which allows users to stream a channel from up to two hours earlier – is not yet available.

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Google’s Chromecast launches in Australia – Google has launched its long-awaited Chromecast dongle in Australia, giving locals a new way to stream internet content via high-definition TVs. The device, which has been available in the US since July last year, will sell for AU$49 from JB Hi-Fi, Dick Smith, and the Google Play online store. In Australia, Chromecast will support YouTube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music, and music-streaming service Pandora.

Police at the door? Hit the PANIC button to erase your RAM – The next time the police kick down a hackers’ door, suspects can reach for the Panic button to make it nigh-on impossible for plod to recover any data, even if they freeze their target PCs. The Panic button is a new Python app called “Centry Panic” and was developed to mitigate cold boot and direct memory access attacks on Windows, Mac and Linux that could be used by forensics professionals to capture information from memory.

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Study: iOS has more fake reviews, but Android’s are better – Ever ran into a review on the App Store or Play Store and wondered if it was fake? A new study shows that on either store, about half the reviews are, with iOS holding a slight edge on total number of fakes. When it comes to the “quality” of fake reviews, Android is in the lead, though.

How to get the Start menu back in Windows 8 – Several third-party utilities can serve as Start menu replacements for Windows 8 users who aren’t as keen on the new Start screen. Editors’ note: This story was originally published on August 20, 2012. It has been updated several times since then to include additional programs and other details, most recently with 8Startbutton, StartIsBack, and Start Menu 8 on May 27, 2014.

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Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Equil Smartpen now available, digitizing your notes in real-time – Truly mobile note taking can be possible without your device camera. While some simply take a photo of their notes and save to the cloud, the Equil Smartpen aims to digitize your notes as you write them. Even better, you get advanced editing features, making it useful in all kinds of circumstances. A device we saw at CES, the Equil is now available for purchase.

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FTC has its eye on regulating shadowy business of “data brokers” – The business of buying and selling consumer data is so vast and murky that Congress needs to pass a law regulating it, said Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “This is an industry that largely operates in the dark,” Ramirez told reporters today on a conference call. “We want to shed the veil of secrecy that surrounds data broker practices.” Most consumers don’t know about data brokers, but the brokers sure know about them.

How to process and edit raw files from your camera – Shooting in raw is one of the best ways to have total control over your images in post-processing. A raw file is the image as seen by the camera’s sensor. Think of it like unprocessed film. Rather than letting the camera process the image for you, turning it into a JPEG image, shooting in raw allows you to process the image to your liking. Applying adjustments to a raw image is a non-destructive method of editing your photos, unlike editing a JPEG.

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Adidas miCoach SMART BALL connects soccer to smartphone – You didn’t think Adidas was going to stop making smart device with a smart watch, did you? Today they’ve brought on the Adidas miCoach SMART BALL, made to bring an intelligent – data driven – look at dead-ball kick training. The most popular sport in the world can now merge with the digital world in a way never before available straight from the ball. Connected with Bluetooth 4.0, the miCoach app on your iPhone or Android device – iOS at first, Android later – will bring you data on speed, strike, spin, and flight path. The app brings on kick tips, the ability to capture video, and a record book.

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Canada relaxes rules on using mobile devices in-flight – Following the example set in the US, Canadian regulators have relaxed their rules on using mobile devices in-flight. Though travelers will not be able to transmit information, they can use their mobile devices — such as tablets or smartphones — for the duration of their flight.

Klooff: like Instagram for your pets – Social media platform Klooff is a place where pet lovers can go to see nothing but photos of adorable animals.

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Five free tools to help you translate foreign languages – Translation has gone mobile and gotten easier. The apps in this gallery work on multiple platforms, allow various kinds of input, and support a vast number of languages.

Security:

EBay flaw could be used to hijack accounts, researcher says – A security researcher who found a major vulnerability in eBay’s website last week said a second flaw he found hasn’t been fixed and could be used to hijack user accounts. Jordan Lee Jones, a 19-year-old college student who lives in Stockton-on-Tees, U.K, said he notified eBay on Friday by email of the second vulnerability. It hadn’t been fixed as of Monday, so he decided to publish details of it on his blog.

New security problems keep eBay on edge – Following an attack disclosed last week that exposed sensitive information of up to 145 million people, the auction giant is scrambling to repair several other problems reported in its vast network by security enthusiasts. Three U.S. states—Connecticut, Florida and Illinois — are jointly investigating eBay’s data breach, a sign that regulators and law enforcement are taking a keen interest in how consumer data is protected following Target’s data breach last year.

Spotify will issue new Android app following security breach – Spotify has announced that one of its customers’ user data has been accessed without authorization and as a precaution will release a new version of its Android app in the next few days.

How to defend against Apple’s Oleg Pliss iCloud attack – Australian Apple device users are finding their iDevices locked by some hacker demanding cash. Here’s how to defend yourself, and what to do if you’ve been hit.

Chrome For Windows Will Now Only Install Extensions From Google’s Web Store – This has been a long time coming, but starting today, Chrome users on Windows will only be able to install extensions from Google’s own Chrome Web Store. Google argues that this is meant to keep malicious extensions — which are often installed from third-party sites — in check. Users who have already installed extensions from third-party sites may find that they have been disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed. The only way to get them back up and running is by installing them through the Chrome Web Store (assuming the developer has made them available there).

VirusTotal releases file-scanning tool powered by 50-plus AV engines for Mac users – Popular file and URL scanning service VirusTotal released a new application that allows Mac OS X users to scan suspicious files with more than 50 antivirus engines supported by the service.

Company News:

It’s happening: Intel and Rockchip are teaming up to develop low-cost SoCs for Android devices – Intel has teamed up with Chinese semiconductor SoC maker Rockchip to work together on Intel’s SoFIA line of SoCs that intend to penetrate the entry-level mobile device market.

Satya Nadella: We’re not selling off Bing and Xbox – In an interview yesterday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came out and said directly that, despite pressure from certain investors, he is not looking to sell off either the Xbox or Bing divisions.

Google may expand to home-security, Dropcam acquisition rumored – A recent post online claims that Google are looking to enter the home-security market. It is rumored that a popular service from Dropcam could be sold to Google, allowing for livestream monitoring.

Apple plots home break-in, home automation move –  Apple will trumpet its entry into the home automation market next week at its annual developers conference, according to online reports. Analysts today viewed the move as a necessary long-term play for the company to keep iOS, particularly the iPhone, relevant as the buzz phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) captures mindshare. Apple needs to stay up with the other Joneses, which includes everyone from Google and Samsung to Cisco and Intel, they said.

Yahoo’s YouTube clone set for summer launch? – Yahoo intensifies talks to launch its delayed rival to Google’s massive home for user-generated videos, according to a report.

Games and Entertainment:

Here’s How Much Time People Spend Playing Video Games – The good news is that we’ve finally gotten our priorities in order. According to Nielsen, the average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spent 6.3 hours a week playing video games during 2013. That’s up from 5.6 hours in 2012, which was up from 5.1 hours in 2011. If you like fun, we’re trending in the right direction. As for which systems were used most often in 2013, seventh-generation consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) beat PCs by a percentage point – 34% to 33% – while mobile phones took a distant third at 10%. Tablets followed at 9%, dedicated gaming handhelds at 6%, eighth-gen consoles at 4% and “other” at 4%.

10 things you probably didn’t know about Super Mario – How did Mario get his name? Where did the creators get their inspiration for the power-up mushrooms? Those questions and more, answered at last.

Next Xbox 360 Minecraft pack adds Halo content, coming Wednesday for $3.99 – Microsoft has announced the latest add-on pack for Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, to be released Wednesday, will bring a number of Halo characters, textures and locations to the popular sandbox game

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Valve: Steam Machines delayed until 2015 – Valve attached this controller sketch image to its announcement. Go ahead, pick it apart for clues about new hats coming to Team Fortress 2! On Tuesday evening, Valve Software used a forum in the Steam games-store app to announce a delay, though for once, it wasn’t for an internally developed video game. Instead, the company slapped a “when it’s done” sticker on its Steam Machine living-room PC project, which has now been bumped to “a release window of 2015, not 2014.”

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Watch Dogs Companion App Lets You Play Without the Game – Ubisoft is celebrating today’s highly anticipated launch of Watch Dogs with a new companion app for iOS and Android devices. The free app, dubbed ctOS Mobile, puts “Chicago in the palm of your hand,” letting you connect to and play live with any Watch Dogs player who is logged in. You don’t actually need to own Watch Dogs to play, but you’ll need to connect with others who have the console or PC game to get the most out of the app.

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Ka-pow! ComiXology rolls out daily free-comics promotion – The maker of the digital comics app launched its Free Summer Reading List promotion on Monday. But you’ve still got 19 days worth of free comics to download.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s prototype electric self-driving car seats two, has no steering wheel – Google had previously been retrofitting Toyota Priuses and Lexus SUVs with its self-driving technology. The cars were approved last week for use on public roads in California, and Google demonstrated the technology’s ability to navigate complex traffic situations in cities at the end of April.

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A real-life prototype, left, and an artist’s rendering, right, of Google’s own self-driving car.

Poll: Climate change now more divisive than abortion, gun control – The poll, conducted in January and February of this year by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute and released last week, found that the further to the right a Granite Stater’s political persuasion, the less likely they were to trust scientists as a source of information about environmental issues. The Institute did discover, however, that scientists are trusted not only by a majority of Democrats and Independents, but also by Republicans: a full 60 per cent of members of the Grand Old Party trust scientists on environmental matters. Couple that number with the 31 per cent who answered “unsure” or don’t know” to the question, “Would you say that you trust, don’t trust, or are unsure about scientists as a source of information about environmental issues?” and only a mere 9 per cent of Republicans don’t trust scientists about the environment.

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“The problem with climate change is there’s never been a day in the history of the world in which the climate is not changing,” says Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

CT scans let you see inside a mummy in amazing detail – Egyptologists have been using medical imaging technology to study mummies for many years now. An exhibit at the British Museum called “Ancient lives, new discoveries” is letting visitors peel back the layers for a closer look — virtually, of course. The image you see was generated from CT scans, and the 3D images produced using rendering software that’s more commonly used in the automotive industry. Visitors to the museum will be able to tap and swipe on a series of interactive displays (likely provided by Samsung, who are sponsoring the exhibit) to explore the mummies in unprecedented detail.

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Kids React to Old Computers – Watch the kids try and figure out how to use a 1970’s era computer in another special Old Technology episode! (So, you think Win 8.1 is tough?   Surprised smile  )

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German Researchers Build A Plane Controlled By Your Brain – While the more pedantic among us would argue that every plane is controlled by our brains, German researchers at the Technische Universität München and the TU Berlin have created a plane that eschews all the messy, meaty bits (your head, your hands) that sit between the brain and the plane. Called Brainflight, the EU-funded project aims to prove that brain-controlled flight is possible and has already demonstrated that even pilots with little or no experience can easily fly using a direct brain interface. Obviously these novice pilots were “going up” in simulators, but the idea is the same.

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South Korea thinks women are worse drivers, creates super-sized female parking spaces – Women think that men are worse drivers, and men think that it’s women who can’t drive very well. The South Korean government is clearly siding with men in this debate, with news of the introduction of so-called “she spots” to its capital city Seoul. These she-spots take the form of parking spaces specifically aimed at and reserved for women drivers. The lines are pink, they have a female in a skirt symbol painted inside them, and they are significantly larger in terms of both width and length.

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150 reasons why bacon smells so good – Why oh why do those salty fried strips have such a hypnotic power over us? Scientists from the American Chemical Society are all over it.

Something to think about:

“I have not lost my mind – it’s backed up on disk somewhere.”

–    Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

EnhanceMy8 Free – Windows 8 is fast and it is quite satisfying in the role of replacing Windows XP and Win7, but you can make it much faster and responsible with EnhanceMy8.

EnhanceMy8 includes any tweaks and tools you need to keep your Windows 8 in mint condition.

Features:

Process Identification – Identify unrecognized software

Start-Up Management – Disable unnecessary software increasing performance

Registry Cleaner – Can easily checks your registry and repair incorrectly linked registry entries, automatically remove invalid entries

Disk Cleaner – Find out which files or folders engross your disk space and shown with chart

Registry Defragmenter – Rebuilds and re-indexs your registry to reduce application response time and registry access time

Disk Defragmenter – Reduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems

Hard Drive Monitor – Gives the current values of various hard disk parameters such as Temperature, Head Flying Height, Spin-Up Time etc.

System Tools, File, Network and Security Tools

Security – EnhanceMySe7en has easy to configure security settings for managing the new security features of Windows 8

Optimization – Optimize settings for maximum speed and stability

Customization – customize system desktop, menus, toolbar and notifications settings

Network – Optimize your Internet connection speed

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Ginger Proofreader – Ginger Proofreader, the first product to be released based on the NLP platform, is a free spelling and grammar checker, intended for both speakers of English as their mother tongue, and English as a second language (ESL). Ginger Proofreader checks and corrects spelling mistakes, misused words, and corrects grammar mistakes, based on the context of the full sentence. Even when a word is spelled correctly, Ginger Proofreader checks grammar to see whether it makes sense in the sentence, and offers alternatives to the word.

Ginger Proofreader can also be used seamlessly by users writing documents, presentations, and emails, in MS-Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, IE, Firefox, and Chrome, enabling them to correct words in the sentence with a single click.

Features:

Ginger Proofreader is integrated with MS Office ® and with all major browsers

Contextual grammar and spell checking

Ginger Proofreader identifies and marks both spelling and grammar mistakes while considering their context

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

‘I was trained as a spy’ says Snowden – Government whistleblower Edward Snowden said he was “trained as a spy” by the US government, and that he worked with an assumed name and identity while serving both the CIA and the NSA in overseas positions.

In the first part of a larger interview filmed with NBC News, Snowden disputes the idea that he was a “low-level” outside contractor who managed to manipulate his way into possession of the massive cache of data which would become a massive leak of US government intelligence information.

“I was trained as a spy in the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas, pretending to work in a job that I am not and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden told the network.

“But I am a technical specialist. I am a technical expert. I don’t recruit people. I don’t recruit agents. I put systems to work for the United States.”

The remarks come in the first interview Snowden has given to the US media since his flight abroad and eventual settling in Russia. Thus far, aside from isolated TV and print media appearances, Snowden has for the most part chosen to funnel information through media sources, particularly journalist Glenn Greenwald.

That Snowden chap was SPOT ON says China – China is ramping up its war of words with the USA over online espionage, releasing a report by its Internet Media Research Center that – surprise! – concludes Uncle Sam does a lot of spying online.

There’s lots of pompous language in the report, such as this opening paragraph:

“As a superpower, the United States takes advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to unscrupulously monitor other countries, including its allies. The United States’ spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of “anti-terrorism” and have exposed its ugly face of pursuing self-interest in complete disregard of moral integrity. These operations have flagrantly breached International laws, seriously infringed upon the human rights and put global cyber security under threat. They deserve to be rejected and condemned by the whole world.”

China’s specific allegations suggest the USA conducted the following activities against it and other nations:

    Collecting nearly 5 billion mobile phone call records across the globe every day

Spying over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone for more than 10 years

Plugging into the main communication networks between Yahoo’s and Google’s overseas data centers, and stealing data of hundreds of millions of customers

Monitoring mobile phone apps for years and grabbing private data

Waging large-scale cyber attacks against China, with both Chinese leaders and the telecom giant Huawei as targets

The document goes on a bit, mostly repeating Snowden allegations and throwing in a few other incidents reported by other nations. Expressions of outrage about NSA activities voiced by the United Nations and privacy groups others are given a new airing, as is just about every report from any newspaper anywhere about Snowden-sourced NSA activities.

Edward Snowden: From zero to exiled zero in three months – On Wednesday, NBC’s Brian Williams airs an hour long interview with now NSA document thief and ‘whistleblower’, Edward Snowden. He was also featured at SXSW this year. Do we really want to give him this much air time?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know the name Edward Snowden. Snowden is the “whistleblower” who gave NSA documents to journalists in Hong Kong back in May 2013, while he was employed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) in Hawaii. I hope that venues such as SXSW and NBC stop giving this guy air time because basically he’s a ne’er-do-well who’s managed to fake credentials, fake education, and fake experience to get on the inside of the NSA and steal government documents and then hand them over to the press.

Has no one ever seriously questioned him about his credentials during any of these interviews or are we so caught up in the stink that he’s let out that we’re now blinded to his lack of credibility?

To liken him to Benedict Arnold, as some have done, is wrong too. Benedict Arnold was at least somewhat reputable before he committed treason. Snowden isn’t. Yet, we give him air time as if he actually did something great and he has not. I think we need to refocus on what a hero really is and the name Edward Snowden shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence.

I used to have some respect for SXSW until it aired an hour long Hangout with Snowden, where he talked about encryption and oversight protecting the public from surveillance. Really, Edward? And who told you that would work?

I also used to have some respect for Brian Williams, who until his interview with Snowden tomorrow night proves that he’s just another attention-seeking journalist. (A fascist apologist at his finest. Character assassination seems to be this moron’s forte. But then, that’s what makes this asshole a fascist pig.

It’s difficult to understand how this man could advance in his profession and hold such anti-democratic views.)

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 27, 2014

Windows 8.1 virus protection for business, consumer compared;  Outlook.com Android app exposing user data;  Windows XP patches flow for free if you flick PCs into POS mode;  Chinese govt urging banks to remove IBM servers: Report; US may block visas for Chinese hackers attending DefCon, Black Hat;  Make any Android easy enough for Grandma to use ;  Unsafe cookies leave WordPress accounts open to hijacking;  Mint 17: The best Linux desktop to date;  9 Tech Deals for Grads;  Taking Lots Of Selfies Is Not A Mental Disorder; The art of social listening: 6 tips;  Want an e-bike? Build your own!  Win Toolkit (free);  Go incognito when launching Chrome on Windows;  Watch Dogs review: horribly hacky story, wonderfully hacky gameplay.

Windows 8.1 virus protection for business, consumer compared – The leading edge of the market for that defense is now on Windows 8.1, the operating system on which most new PCs, including ones that look like tablets, will run. Independent test lab AV-TEST Institute’s evaluation of these products, 25 of them for consumers and nine for business, show that most of them are very effective at blocking malware, known (20,646 samples) and unknown (138 samples). The number of products that detect 100% of such threats in their tests went up from March to April.

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Business users should expect a very high level of malware detection from endpoint protection products for Windows 8.1. Chart provided by AV-TEST Institute.

Chinese govt urging banks to remove IBM servers: Report – The Chinese government is urging its domestic banks to replace high-end IBM servers with locally-manufactured servers in the wake of the US-Chinese hacking scandal, according to a report by Bloomberg.

NBC News exclusive — “NBC Nightly News” anchor and managing editor Brian Williams traveled to Moscow this week for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor’s first-ever American television interview will air in an hour-long NBC News primetime special on Wednesday, May 28 at 10pm / 9 Central. (suggested by Aseem S.)

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Go incognito when launching Chrome on Windows – Need to keep your browsing habits private or just trying to avoid cookies? Read on to find out how you can launch Chrome into incognito automatically.

Make any Android easy enough for Grandma to use – For some users, especially older users, smartphones are nothing less than an intimidating device. The same is true for iOS or Android, but for the latter, the customization options can appear to complicate things even more. Enter Wiser. Wiser is an Android launcher built to “dumb down” a smartphone, making it easy enough for Grandma to use. Using a combination of big, bright buttons, a simplified notification display, and an app drawer, Wiser is perfect for less confident smartphone converts.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows XP patches flow for free if you flick PCs into POS mode – A German notice-board has published instructions on how to keep getting the free Windows XP updates that enterprises are having to pay for. According to this thread at Sebjik.com, all that’s needed for 32-bit Windows XP installs is to edit the registry so that it tells Microsoft you’re using POSReady 2009. As Betanews notes, with the registry edit in place, you should receive updates for “Windows Embedded Industry (formerly known as Windows Embedded POSReady). This is based on Windows XP Service Pack 3”. The Sebjik administrator who created the registry hack posted the following code, which should be saved as a .reg file and double-clicked to be imported.

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Mint 17: The best Linux desktop to date – Over the decades—yes decades—I’ve been using Linux desktops, I’ve had many favorites. Now, I have a new one: Linux Mint 17. I expect it to be my favorite for a long time to come. I can say that because this version, now a late release candidate. like its base operating system, Ubuntu 14.04, is a long-term support edition. It will be supported until 2019. This makes this edition one that businesses should consider.

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The Ubuntu Unity Launcher gets a facelift with Unity Drawers – For the longest time, Ubuntu Unity users have wanted a bit more leverage from the Unity Launcher. As it stands, it’s a means to launch applications and get to the Unity Dash. But with the creation of a new tool, Drawers, you can easily organize related items (files, applications, websites, folders, etc.) using “mini dashes” and “quick lists” — similar to the Stacks feature in OS X. Drawers allows you to organize files together onto the Launcher and even create a Dash-like app menu for quick access to your applications.

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9 Tech Deals for Grads – Today’s grads spend more time looking at a screen than ever before, and the least you can do is make sure that screen to which they divert all their time is in top condition. If you’re looking for a gift for a grad, or buying one for yourself, check out some of the best graduation deals available online right now:

5 free Daydream apps that put your charging phone to work – Without tweaking a thing, you can choose to have your charging device display an analog or digital clock, or pictures in a frame or table format. Or you can hit the Google Play store and discover a world of beautiful, useful Daydream apps, and completely transform your device’s display (while charging) into a screen that works for you, even when it’s technically “off duty.” I know what you’re thinking: let’s do that! Daydream isn’t a well-known feature, but that doesn’t mean it escaped developers’ radars. Just search for ‘Daydream’ in the Play Store, and you’ll find hundreds of apps to customize your charging screen. Here are five of the coolest.

Meet Ultravisual, an editing geek’s photo-sharing app that even amateurs will love – Like other photo-sharing apps, Ultravisual consists of a main feed, a photo uploader, and a friend-finder. How it differs: The app sorts your images by collections, or albums, that you name and caption. You can let others submit to your collection by turning on permissions for the album. You have complete control over your album: You can approve or deny requests, close the collection at any time, or delete inappropriate posts.

Map shows how far you can travel in any direction in 10 minutes – A fascinating map lets you pick a city and then shows you how traffic conditions affect your drive time at various times of day on different days of the week.

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Save your Word configurations – Microsoft Word is a wonderfully configurable tool. You can set a default font and give every new document your preferred margins. You can re-arrange the ribbons and Quick Access Toolbar. You can record simple macros and even—if you have the programming skills—write complex ones. But if you’re not careful, all of your work personalizing Word can disappear in a keystroke. Here’s how to be careful.

D-Day Hour by Hour Recounts a Pivotal Moment in History Through Images, Video, and Maps – We’re coming up on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, widely recognized as the beginning of the end for Germany’s World War II war machine. To this day, the landing at Normandy, France remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, and now you can get an in-depth look at the battle hour-by-hour with a new iPad app. D-Day Hour by Hour is $4.99 in the App Store and is iPad-only. It’s also available at a discount for educational institutions through Apple’s volume purchase program. This is a great app for any amateur history buff.

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QuickCoin app lets users send bitcoin through Facebook – QuickCoin lets users move the cryptocurrency around for free through the social network. It’s a simple process of logging into an account, choosing a Facebook friend and sending bitcoin. The accounts, called “social wallets,” display bitcoin in U.S. dollars and in “bits,” which are defined as 0.000001 bitcoin. That means US$5 would show up as roughly 8,548 bits instead of a fraction of one bitcoin. One bitcoin was worth about $583 on Tuesday, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin tracking index.

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Taking Lots Of Selfies Is Not A Mental Disorder – Have you heard? The American Psychological Association says that taking an excessive amount of selfies is now considered a mental disorder. But of course this claim, which predictably spread like Kardashian wedding news on social media channels this weekend, is completely false. It was the hoax we all wanted to be real. It was vindication that certain annoying people in our lives who post non-stop pics of themselves and flood our Facebook feeds with them were, in fact, crazy.

YouTube wants to make it easier for creators to manage videos, make money – Here’s some good news for anyone who produces a lot of YouTube videos: Late last week, the video sharing site announced that it was working on a new way to make it easier for viewers to fund video creators, along with a new app specifically for video publishers in mind.

The hottest trend in mobile: going offline! – The consumer electronics industry has spent the past 20 years making everything connect wirelessly to the Internet — from PCs to TVs, cameras and speakers. This includes, of course, the most wireless of wireless devices, the ubiquitous smartphone. Your average smartphone connects wirelessly in three ways: via mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth — all of which get faster, more reliable and more widely available all the time. So why is there now a big trend in the industry to make apps work in places where no Internet connection is available?

Security:

New banking Trojan ‘Zberp’ offers the worst of Zeus and Carberp – The new threat, dubbed Zberp by security researchers from IBM subsidiary Trusteer, has a wide range of features. It can gather information about infected computers including their IP addresses and names; take screen shots and upload them to a remote server; steal FTP and POP3 credentials, SSL certificates and information inputted into Web forms; hijack browsing sessions and insert rogue content into opened websites, and initiate rogue remote desktop connections using the VNC and RDP protocols. (Wow!! Did they miss anything?)

Australian Apple devices hacked and held to ransom – A number of Apple users across Australia have reported having their iPhones, iPads and Macs targeted by hackers threatening to erase their data and demanding US$100 to regain access to devices.

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Anti-virus firm Avast! takes down forums after breach – The small upside is that the mess only impacts the company’s forums. As the company’s CEO Vincent Steckler has blogged “Less than 0.2% of our 200 million users were affected. No payment, license, or financial systems or other data was compromised.” Don’t click away to another story yet: user names, email addresses and hashed passwords were compromised, so Steckler says “If you use the same password and user names to log into any other sites, please change those passwords immediately.”

Outlook.com Android app exposing user data – Security firm “Inside Security” have found what they believer are a number of security issues within Microsoft’s Outlook.com android application which could leave users data exposed and unencrypted.

Unsafe cookies leave WordPress accounts open to hijacking, 2-factor bypass – Memo to anyone who logs in to a WordPress-hosted blog from a public Wi-Fi connection or other unsecured network: It’s trivial for the script kiddie a few tables down to hijack your site even if it’s protected by two-factor authentication. Even when using networks they trust, users should be aware that privileged employees at ISPs and network providers are able to intercept the unencrypted cookie, and government snoops may be able to do the same.

Company News:

Report: Apple to Reveal ‘Smart Home’ Software at WWDC – Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is only a week away, and the latest rumor tips a smart home-related announcement from Cupertino. According to The Financial Times, Apple will unveil a new software platform intended to simplify the process of using your iOS device to control devices in the home – from thermostats to appliances.

Amazon Tightens Noose Around Hachette, Makes Books Unavailable – Amazon and Hachette are continuing their ugly contract dispute, with the former now allegedly firing a new salvo into the war: Preorders for Hachette titles are being pulled in some instances from Amazon’s online marketplace. In others, Amazon is simply delisting product pages for Hachette books, reports the New York Times.

Rap Genius co-founder resigns after massacre comments – Mahbod Moghadam has left the text annotation startup after making insensitive notes on the manifesto penned by the man who killed six people in Santa Barbara, Calif. Moghadam later apologized for the comments, telling Valleywag that he was “fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up.”

Foxconn to secure stake in Taiwanese operator to bolster 4G offering – Apple supplier Foxconn is planning to secure a $390 million stake in Asia Pacific Telecom as the manufacturer branches out in to 4G communications.

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Games and Entertainment:

Watch Dogs review: horribly hacky story, wonderfully hacky gameplay – When Watch Dogs was first unveiled nearly two years ago, Ubisoft promised an open-world spy thriller for the Internet age. Instead of merely relying on guns or superpowers like some other open-world protagonists, Aiden Pearce would use his hacking skills to monitor citizens’ digital footprints and manipulate surrounding devices to his advantage, becoming a new kind of vigilante in the process. Ubisoft has done a commendable job of just that, building a slightly skewed version of the modern world where Aiden can covertly hack his way through for your general enjoyment. Too bad, then, that the people at the center of that world prove so impossible to connect with.

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NVidia releases new drivers optimized for Watch Dogs – As AMD’s market share continues to grow inside of PCs and consoles like the PlayStation 4, NVidia is hoping to take some back with the release of “Watch Dogs.” By working closely with the Ubisoft team during the development of the title, NVidia was able to bring improved performance for GeForce GTX users while running “Watch Dogs” on a PC.

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Here’s what Wolfenstein had to do to launch in Germany – The newest in a series of classic first-person shooters is here. Wolfenstein has been released to the whole world – including Germany. This release is historic for the Wolfenstein series as it’s the first time the game has been allowed for standard sales inside of Deutschland. This year the game comes to Germany with a collection of changes that more or less make the game just as blood-and-guts filled, but far less direct in its Nazi-brand delivery.

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Sony PlayStation will be entering China soon – China is really everyone’s darling market these days. Just after Microsoft announced that it plans to make its Xbox One consoles available in the country, Sony has formed two new ventures that heralds the coming of the PlayStation, in one form or another, to the formerly closed gaming market of China.

Off Topic (Sort of):

#YesAllWomen Shows That Misogyny Is Everyone’s Problem – If the actions of the UC Santa Barbara shooter last week turned the Internet into a crime scene, then the Web is also where we turn to grieve and try to process something that is truly incomprehensible and horrifying. Since news of the murders broke, #YesAllWomen has remained one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Originally created by Twitter user gildedspine in reaction to the Not All Men meme, #YesAllWomen has given people of both genders a forum to reflect on how misogyny impacts their lives.

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane….it’s India’s first pizza-delivering drone! – Mumbai’s Francesco’s Pizzeria stunned the world by delivering a pizza via a drone. However, the city’s cops aren’t too pleased about the stunt.

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Lian-Li announces awesome computer cases that are also desks – Do you really need a desktop computer and a desk? Why not make them into a single thing with Lian Li’s DK-01X, DK-02X, and DK-Q1X desk chassis. Lian-Li previously announced a prototype version of these cases late last year, but now they are real products. These hybrid aluminum computer cases have a slide-out drawer for easy access to your computer components, but the top is tempered glass, so you can look down at any time to take a peek.

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Want an e-bike? Build your own! – A bicycle that has a little electronic extra — that is, a motor that gives you a bit of extra boost — can be a handy thing for the everyday cyclist. If, that is, you have the money to spend on one. If you’re trying to save money by cycling rather than driving or taking public transport, the thousands of dollars an e-bike can cost might be a little counter-intuitive. But what if you could build your own for a fraction of the cost?

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Micah Toll

The art of social listening: 6 tips – The idea of listening to customers and potential customers is nothing new. But as is the case with many pursuits in the digital age, the tools people use are in a steady state of change. This is especially the case in social media, which many businesses have turned to for direct access to customers. As a result, social listening is now important business. Companies are listening to see how well their marketing campaigns are performing, to get ideas or feedback on products or services, and understand any service issues or product issues. Here are six key factors to keep in mind when engaging in social listening.

Data caps are the least of America’s internet problems – As American customers get themselves into a lather over the impost of fixed internet data caps, the reality is that soon, most internet users won’t care or think about them.

Watch: Historic Coney Island Recreated Using a 3-D Printer – “More remains of ancient Rome than of turn-of-the-century Coney Island,” says Brooklyn artist Fred Kahl, explaining why he chose to create a detailed scale model of an amusement park from 100 years ago. “This is … about a deep love of Coney Island as the cultural melting pot and showcase for presenting cutting-edge technology as entertainment.” The result of his passion is the world’s largest-ever 3-D printed art installation. It fills an entire gallery at the Coney Island Museum, which reopens Memorial Day Weekend after being shuttered since October 2012 to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy.

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Something to think about:

“Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.”

–     U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Today’s Free Downloads:

MarkdownPad – Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).

The goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to be as readable as possible. A Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions.

In short, you can create beautiful HTML documents without knowing any HTML.

Features:

Instant HTML Preview

Easy formatting with keyboard shortcuts

Fully Customizable

Use your own CSS

HTML Export

Distraction-free Mode

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Win Toolkit – Win Toolkit is a lightweight and easy to use application that was created in order to help you customize your Windows installation!

With this tool you can integrate Addons, Drivers, Gadgets, Language packs, Modified Files, Theme Packs, Tweaks, Silent Installers, Updates. You can also remove features such as Windows Media Player and customize Windows default services state. Win Toolkit also comes with extra tools which helps you convert files, make ISOs, download the latest updates (thanks to SoLoR and McRip), and completely customize your images to tailor your Windows installation disk to your exact needs.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Congress divorces NIST and NSA – The US Congress has passed a bill that removes the NSA’s direct input into encryption standards.

According to a report at ProPublica, an amendment to the National Institute of Standards and Technology act removes the requirement that NIST consult with the NSA in setting new encryption standards.

Following the Snowden revelations, NIST had denied that it deliberately weakened encryption standards at the behest of the NSA.

However, that didn’t put to rest suspicions that weaknesses such as existed in Dual_EC_DRBG were deliberate NSA contrivances, with RSA singled out for criticism over the random number generator.

China ponders ban on IBM servers – The dispute between China and the USA over backdoor-riddled information technology equipment has just heated up, with Bloomberg reporting Chinese authorities are wondering whether the time has come for local banks to ditch their IBM servers.

The newswire’s report mentions “high-end” servers and suggests Chinese authorities “are reviewing whether Chinese commercial banks’ reliance on the IBM servers compromises the country’s financial security.”

As is the often the case with Chinese government policies, this one needs some deep consideration, not least because if banks are using “high-end” servers that suggests either POWER systems or mainframes are in China’s sights. Banking applications written for either platform are generally very tightly coupled to hardware. Ordering Chinese users to find alternatives – either with new hardware or by porting software to another operating system – would not be something most could accomplish in a hurry.

China surely knows this and that any order to change would be futile for at least a few months. Such an order would also telegraph to the USA or other powers the need to find another attack vector.

US may block visas for Chinese hackers attending DefCon, Black Hat – On Saturday, an unnamed “senior administration official” told Reuters that the US government is considering using visa restrictions to keep Chinese hackers from attending DefCon and Black Hat, two major hacking conferences that take place in August in Las Vegas.

Jeff Moss, founder of both the DefCon and Black Hat conferences, and Chris Wysopal, a member of the Black Hat board that reviews presentations, were both skeptical of the move. Wysopal noted that Black Hat talks are taped and sold after the conference, and preventing Chinese hackers from being physically there would not appreciably affect China’s hacking abilities. “It seems symbolic to me,” Wysopal told Reuters of the move. Several Chinese nationals are booked to speak at the Black Hat conference, although none are booked to speak at DefCon.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 27, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 26, 2014

Microsoft to the FBI: Drop dead;  Android security loophole lets apps take and upload pics without you knowing; 12 tablet accessories that let you ditch your laptop;  10 tools for stealthily slacking off at work;  How to find cheap (or free!) PC games;  9 great travel apps to make your vacation painless;  Customize your Android phone home screen with options to spare;  Simplify the Windows 8/7 Event Viewer;  How to control your Facebook privacy;  Apple wants retrial, sales ban against Samsung;  Houseguest downloads child porn, cops show up;  Kingsoft Office 2013 (free);  Tech giants team up to take on US Government gag orders.

Google ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling may never come to US – In Europe, Google is facing a “right to be forgotten” ruling by the courts. That ruling, which lets users ask that Google dismiss webpages about them from search results, is currently being worked logistically by Google. As for when the United States or other countries may get that functionality — well, it’s not so cut and dry.

Apple neglects to renew SSL certificate, breaks Software Update in the process – If you were tried to install OS X software updates this weekend, you might have noticed that you…can’t. As MacRumors points out, OS X users who attempt to install software updates through the App Store app are getting error messages that complain about an invalid certificate. The reason? Apple apparently forgot to renew the SSL certificate in question.

10 tools for stealthily slacking off at work – Whether you’re a gamer, a Facebook addict, or just a plain old slacker, the typical office job is a prime setting for getting some serious goofing-off done. We can’t vouch for your productivity the rest of the time, but if you want to let off some steam in the middle of the day, we’ve got your back. With that out of the way, here are 10 unproductive tools and tips for the total flake.

How to find cheap (or free!) PC games – Whoever told you PC gaming is prohibitively expensive is a liar. In fact, I’ve saved so much on PC games versus their console counterparts that I’ve more than paid off the cost difference between my gaming PC hardware and the cost of a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Here’s how you can tap into the dirt-cheap gaming goodness, too.

Print anything from anywhere with Google Cloud Print – This free service from Google has been around since 2011, when it started as a way to print to any printer you owned from Gmail or other Google services. Since then Google has added a number of features, including greatly expanding its functionality and rolling out an Android app and Windows desktop integration. Here’s how to get set up with Google Cloud Print using a non-Cloud Print capable printer.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Customize your Android phone home screen with options to spare – Jack Wallen introduces you to yet another Android home screen launcher — one packed with enough options and themes that it could easily usurp your current favorite.

9 great travel apps to make your vacation painless – The summer travel season is just getting started in the US, so we’ve rounded up some of the most useful travel apps, all of which are great for long vacations and short trips alike. The first section is dedicated to apps that help you book reservations for flights and hotels, and the next group keeps you organized en route. The final collection has apps that will help you when you’re at your destination, and need help finding something to do or navigating an unfamiliar.

How to podcast, Part 2: Recording your show – In part 1 of this series, you found out how to get started in podcasting. Now you’re fired up and ready to share your wonderful thoughts with the world. Here’s what you need to know to get your voice recorded.

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All-you-can-read kids service Epic adds a thousand new books from HarperCollins –  When you download the free Epic app, which works on iPad 2 and later, running at least iOS 6, you can sign up for a free one-month trial to kick the tires before you subscribe. You don’t need a credit card for the free trial either, so hats off to Epic for that. Parents get a profile, where they can set up and manage profiles for up to four kids. Here you can see how many books each kid has read, how many minutes, total pages flipped, and when they last read. Minutes read is probably the most useful of these stats, since the books range from picture books you can whiz through in 30 seconds to longer chapter reads for kids up to age 12.

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12 tablet accessories that let you ditch your laptop – Android and iOS tablets have come a long way, but for many users they’re still not suitable laptop replacements. However, you can change that. These 12 gadgets each help bridge the gap between notebook PC and tablet.

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SSD breakthrough means 300% speed boost, 60% less power usage… even on old drives – A Japanese research team studying the NAND chips used in solid state drives has discovered a way to boost the speed of the devices by up to 300% with nothing more than a simple firmware update.

FlightTrack 5 is a first-class flight tracking app – If you need to keep tabs on flights of your own or others, you can’t do much better than FlightTrack 5. It looks great, is packed with features, and doesn’t even charge you for extra bags.

Pro tip: Simplify the Windows 8/7 Event Viewer by creating custom views – The Event Viewer in Windows 7 and Windows 8.x allows you to save Filters by using the Create Custom View feature. Greg Shultz explains how.

Security:

Android security loophole lets apps take and upload pics without you knowing – A loophole in Android’s security can be easily exploited by malicious apps to use a device’s camera to capture images and location data and upload them to a remote server without the user’s knowledge.

Microsoft offers new data on malware infection rates worldwide – Microsoft has been gathering information about malware infection rates on Windows PCs for some time now, thanks to data from its Microsoft Security Essentials program as well as Windows Defender for Windows 8. This week, the company released the malware encounter and infection rates for 2013, including the top 10 countries for both sets of info.

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eBay FAIL gets even more fail-y, with failworthy password advice – eBay is coming under mounting criticism for its reaction to its loss of users’ passwords and other private info. Or, rather, its lack of reaction. Not only that, but the password advice it’s giving users seems slightly stupid. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers spot the choo-choo to Failtown. Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Is the U.S. Finally Getting Smart? – Data breaches have always been an issue for companies, but it’s finally become one that can’t be ignored. After consecutive breaches on big-name companies like Target and Neiman Marcus, Congress is forcing businesses to ditch magnetic strip cards for new smart card technology. An infographic released by Computer Science Degree Hub helps illustrate why the shift to EMV cards is a smart choice for the U.S. market.

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How to control your Facebook privacy – On Thursday, Facebook tweaked the default option for new members so that updates are shared only with friends and not with the public. In line with that change, let’s take a tour through Facebook’s basic privacy settings. Tightening these settings can help ensure that you’re as well-hidden as possible on the world’s largest social network.

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Investigators Target eBay Over Massive Data Breach – Attorneys General in three U.S. states along with European officials are investigating a massive data breach at eBay which may have compromised more than 100 million users’ passwords. “The magnitude of the reported eBay data breach could be of historic proportions, and my office is part of a group of other attorneys general in the country investigating the matter,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement Thursday. The Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General in Illinois and Connecticut have also vowed to conduct a probe into the incident.

Company News:

Microsoft has announced Windows 8.1 with Bing, a low-cost version of Windows – Microsoft has finally confirmed the Windows 8.1 with Bing rumors by announcing the new edition of Windows today. For OEMs only, it will open the door to lower-cost Windows devices in the near future.

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Apple wants retrial, sales ban against Samsung – Apple, who recently settled their ongoing dispute with Motorola and Google amicably, has no intent on following that up. Previous reports that suggested the Cupertino firm and Samsung would play nice has been found to be false, as Apple seeks a retrial of their latest spat with Samsung. They’re also seeking a ban of all Samsung devices that infringe on their patents.

Amazon offering free Fire TV trials to some Prime members – The trial lets users sample Amazon’s new streaming set-top box for 30 days, with Amazon covering the cost of shipping. Users can then return the device at no charge, or let the trial period lapse and get charged $99 automatically on their credit cards. The offer is by invitation only—you can’t transfer it to someone else—and available for a limited time, according to Amazon’s e-mail.

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Games and Entertainment:

Ubisoft Sees Record ‘Watch Dogs’ Pre-Orders – Ubiosoft is seeing some major demand for Watch Dogs: the video game is now the most pre-ordered new IP in Ubisoft’s history, and the second-highest pre-ordered Ubisoft game ever. Watch Dogs is up for pre-order on GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, depending on the configuration you want. It will be available for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360; the Wii U version will be released at a later, unspecified date.

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One person who has already checked out the game? Late night host Conan O’Brien.

Half-Life 3 is in development, says Counter-Strike co-creator – Almost ten years after the début of Half-Life 2 – the first sequel to what is still regarded as one of the best games of all time – Half-Life 3 is still frequently discussed and rumored, despite having never even been publicly acknowledged by Valve, developers of the series. After HL2, two more titles – Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (2006) and Episode 2 (2007) – were released, but even now, seven years on, many gamers are still yearning for the next installment in the story of the series’ silent hero, Gordon Freeman. If today’s news is to be believed, they may finally get what they’ve been waiting for.

Missing pieces: Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news – We’ve fallen into a parallel universe—Atari wants to get back into the hardware market. That story and more as we compile all the games-related news you need to know for the week of May 19.

You Should Play: Another Case Solved – Another Case Solved is a tile-matching puzzle game with a detective theme. The back-story is a little quirky—not surprising for a Noodlecake Studios title—and not particularly critical to the game itself. However, for those of you who are curious, it’s something along the lines of an amateur detective (you) investigating crimes surrounding a city’s sugar ban. Yes…sugar ban.

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10 amazing chemical reaction GIFs – We know they’re just atoms interacting, but these reactions are more awesome than most.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet Is Now Part Of The Crime Scene – Elliot Rodger, a young man with some horrible ideas and serious mental problems, killed at least six people in Santa Barbara. He left pages of digital photos and hours of video detailing his pain and his envy. In the voice of an entitled boy not given what he wants, he talks about being alone while others are together. He became a misogynist through his own twisted self-reflection. Now his efforts to reach out to seemingly like-minded groups on the Internet make him look like a monster created by the Internet himself. This is wrong.

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Houseguest downloads child porn, cops show up – Do you really know how your various friends, relations, acquaintances, and hangers-on plan to use your Internet connection when they drop by and ask for “the Wi-Fi password”? Unlikely—and yet anything that they do illegally through your home network can bring cops to your door with search warrants, asking tough questions about child pornography.

The Internet of Things helps insurance firms reward, punish – The more the Internet of Things knows about you, the more that insurance companies are able to slurp that data and incentivize you to walk the straight and narrow. “You know the way that advertising turned out to be the native business model for the internet? I think that insurance is going to be the native business model for the Internet of Things,” said Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media at his company’s Solid conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

Facebook exec: I HATE the INTERNET and I REALLY hate journalism – Comment Modern internet journalism is terrible and full of trivial clickbait designed for Facebook, says Mike Hudack, director of product management at, um, Facebook. “It’s hard to tell who’s to blame.” he writes “But someone should fix this shit.”

Microsoft team member Mark Russinovich’s third novel, Rogue Code, released – Mark Russinovich, a Microsoft team member working on the Azure team as a Technical Fellow, is also a best selling fiction author, His third novel, Rogue Code, went on sale this week.  (Having reviewed Mark’s first novel on behalf of his publisher (an A+ novel), I’m looking forward to jumping into Rogue Code.)

The Internet Is Burning – Online security is a horrifying nightmare. Heartbleed. Target. Apple. Linux. Microsoft. Yahoo. eBay. X.509. Whatever security cataclysm erupts next, probably in weeks or even days. We seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of cascading security disasters that just keep getting worse. Why? Well — “Computers have gotten incredibly complex, while people have remained the same gray mud with pretensions of godhood … Because of all this, security is terrible … People, as well, are broken … Everyone fails to use software correctly,” writes the great Quinn Norton in a bleak piece in Medium. “We are building the most important technologies for the global economy on shockingly underfunded infrastructure. We are truly living through Code in the Age of Cholera,” concurs security legend Dan Kaminsky.

Something to think about:

“When people are placed in positions slightly above what they expect, they are apt to excel.”

–     Richard Branson

Today’s Free Downloads:

LibreOffice Productivity Suite – LibreOffice was developed to be a productivity suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and available on a variety of platforms. It is free software and therefore free to download, use and distribute.

LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice Writer lets you design and produce text documents that can include graphics, tables, or charts. You can then save the documents in a variety of formats, including the standardized OpenDocument format (ODF), Microsoft Word .doc format, or HTML. And you can easily export your document to the Portable Document Format (PDF).

Writing

LibreOffice Writer lets you create both basic documents, such as memos, faxes, letters , resumes and merge documents, as well as long and complex or multi-part documents, complete with bibliographies, reference tables and indexes.

LibreOffice Writer also includes such useful features as a spellchecker, a thesaurus, AutoCorrect, and hyphenation as well as a variety of templates for almost every purpose. You can also create your own templates using the wizards.

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Kingsoft Office 2013

Writer

A versatile word processor inside Kingsoft Office Software. With Writer, you can adjust paragraphs within seconds and insert table easily just by dragging it.

Presentation

An easy but effective slide show maker inside Kingsoft Office Software. Helps you quickly create impressive multimedia presentation to convince your audience.

Spreadsheets

A flexible and powerful spreadsheet application. Helps you fulfill both personal data analysis needs, and those more professional data processing tasks.

Mobile Office

Efficient mobile office solution on android and iOS platform. Help you handle Word, Excel and Presentation files on the road. Sharing made easy with Email & cloud storage.

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Klondike Forever – Enjoy everyone’s favorite solitaire game. Klondike Forever is fast, smooth, beautiful and free!

Features:

Over 150 games (displays over 300 known names)

Beautiful, simple graphic interface

Visual and textual rules for each game

Unlimited undo/redo

Multiple card decks and card backs

Full screen and windowed modes

Highlight playable cards

Highlight cards of any rank

Single or double click auto-move

Sticky click option

Auto-play to foundations

Auto-flip face down cards

Peek at hidden cards

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft to the FBI: Drop dead – Microsoft has taken some heat for what some people claim has been too cozy a past relationship with the NSA. But Microsoft has recently gotten privacy religion, standing up to the FBI and refusing to turn over data to the FBI about one of the company’s enterprise customers.

Microsoft successfully fought off an attempt by the FBI to get “basic subscriber information” about one of Microsoft’s corporate customers, writes Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs in the the “Microsoft on the Issues” blog.

The FBI issued Microsoft what is called a National Security Letter asking for the information. As part of the letter, Microsoft was not even allowed to publicly acknowledge that it received request. In fact, it wasn’t even allowed to tell the company about it. Microsoft challenged it in court, because, in the words of Smith:

“We concluded that the nondisclosure provision was unlawful and violated our Constitutional right to free expression. It did so by hindering our practice of notifying enterprise customers when we receive legal orders related to their data.”

The FBI backed off, and agreed to call back the letter. Yesterday, documents related to the case were unsealed by a federal court in Seattle. You can read them here.

Tech giants team up to take on US Government gag orders – As it stands now, tech companies can’t disclose exact figures on how many national security-related user data requests they’ve received from the US Government. A group of major tech companies aren’t happy about the current state of affairs, however, so they’ve decided to do something about it.

According to a report from the Washington Post, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo have filed papers with the 9th Circuit Court arguing against ongoing gag orders the Government has put in place to guard against disclosure of these data requests. According to the court papers, which were filed in April, the four companies see the gag orders as a form of prior restraint, and argue that they are therefore a violation of the First Amendment.

According to the Post, this isn’t about revealing specifics about any given data request. In fact, the Post reports that, according to court documents, “[t]he companies do not want to disclose any information that would place specific investigations in jeopardy.”

What does GCHQ know about our devices that we don’t? – While the initial disclosures by Edward Snowden revealed how US authorities are conducting mass surveillance on the world’s communications, further reporting by the Guardian newspaper uncovered that UK intelligence services were just as involved in this global spying apparatus. Faced with the prospect of further public scrutiny and accountability, the UK Government gave the Guardian newspaper an ultimatum: hand over the classified documents or destroy them.

The Guardian decided that having the documents destroyed was the best option. By getting rid of only the documents stored on computers in the UK, it would allow Guardian journalists to continue their work from other locations while acquiescing to the Government’s demand. However, rather than trust that the Guardian would destroy the information on their computers to the Government’s satisfaction, GCHQ sent two representatives to supervise the operation. Typically, reliable destruction of such hardware in the circumstances would be to shred or melt all electronic components using a much larger version of the common paper shredder and leaving only the dust of the original devices. Indeed, some devices such as external USB sticks were turned to dust. (suggested by Aseem S.)

China responds to NSA tampering with network gear vetting process – The US government used security concerns to essentially drive Chinese companies out of the American networking marketplace. Now China is doing the same thing, as the Chinese government is planning to require all products sold in the country to pass a “cyber security vetting process,” the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency reported.

Jiang Jun, a spokesman for the State Internet Information Office, told Xinhua that the move was to counter large-scale spying, saying that the networks of Chinese government agencies, universities, businesses and telecommunications providers have “suffered extensive invasion and wiretapping,” the news service reported.

The measure is intended to prevent technology providers from “taking advantage of their products to illegally control, disrupt, or shut down their clients’ systems, or to gather, store, process, or use their client’s information,” according to a statement from the agency. IT products that do not pass the government’s vetting process will be banned in China.

Iran bans Instagram over ‘privacy concerns’ – Instagram is the latest high-profile site to be banned in Iran, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube already on national blacklists. Earlier this month, WhatsApp was also barred there, with authorities apparently displeased with its new soon-to-be-owner Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg they referred to as an “American Zionist”. Instagram, notably, is also part of Facebook’s portfolio.

However, official bans such as these seem to be enforced somewhat inconsistently. The Associated Press notes, for example, that the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is an active tweeter, despite the ban on Twitter. Private citizens often flout the bans too by using simple workarounds to continue to gain access to blocked sites.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 26, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 23, 2014

How to change your eBay password;  Get two-factor authentication on the desktop with Authy;  Amazon will pay you $10 to download five completely free apps;  Mid-size tablets compared: iOS vs. Android vs. Fire;  Android apps can use your camera without you knowing;  Facebook Privacy Checkup sheds light on sharing;  What you need to know about Windows libraries;  CA Technologies release free XP migration tool;  Google Chrome Adds “Okay Google” Voice Search;  How to lie, cheat and steal like Snapchat — all the way to the bank;  Google develops Project Tango 3D tablets for imminent release.

How to lie, cheat and steal like Snapchat — all the way to the bank – Snapchat’s little FTC slap on the wrist shouldn’t get in the way of its business model, but if you want to have your say, the period for public comment on Snapchat’s FTC settlement is now open.

Amazon will pay you $10 to download five completely free apps – Downloading iHeart Radio, Food Network In The Kitchen, Strawberry Shortcake Bake Shop, Dr. Panda’s Restaurant or Don’t Step The White Tile will currently result in Amazon paying you 200 Amazon credits – worth $2 – per app into your Amazon wallet. As reported by Android Police, you do not even need to keep the apps installed on your device – once you have clicked the ‘Download’ button the money is credited to your account and you can cancel the install immediately.

Google Adds “Okay Google” Voice Search For All Chrome Users – Maybe you already talk to your computer but now there’s even more reason to – Google has just released the latest version of Chrome, which includes “Okay Google” triggered voice searches that work automatically, without requiring any clicks or other input prompting first. Users will need to enable it once and provide Chrome permission to user their computer’s mic if they haven’t already, but after that, it’s as simple as opening a new tab, navigating to Google.com and speaking the magic words followed by your search request.

CA Technologies release free XP migration tool – Companies that want to migrate large numbers of users from Windows XP, which Microsoft stopped supporting last month, now have some help with a free tool from CA Technologies. The CA Desktop Migration Manager can copy a user’s files, browser bookmarks, desktop settings and other pertinent information to network file storage, allowing the administrator to upgrade the laptop or desktop computer to a new version of Windows or move the user to a new Windows computer altogether. The software can move the data and settings either to a new machine or back to the original machine once the upgrade is completed.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

What you need to know about Windows libraries – To the uneducated eye, Windows’ libraries are simply convenient places to store your data files, such as documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, and videos. And they are convenient. They make it easier to find, organize and back up the most important files on your hard drive. But they’re not actually places—in the sense that they’re not folders on your hard drive. They’re pointers to other folders, and each library can point to more than one folder.

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D-Link WiFi Smart Plug Review – Piecing together your own smart home used to be a headache; now, you can buy products off-the-shelf, like D-Link’s new WiFi Smart Plug, and be up and running from your smartphone in minutes. We’re not just talking remote control over lights, either: D-Link’s system allows for power and heat monitoring, for the frugal and safety-conscious among us. Read on for our full review.

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Do wristband heart trackers actually work? A checkup – More wrist-based heart rate monitors are hitting the market, letting you gauge your fitness with a quick read of your pulse. But as Sharon Profis discovered after a visit at Kaiser Permanente of San Francisco, these optical monitors may need more R&D.

Launch your startup in a single day: How the latest tools make it easier than ever – With some ideas, getting to market quickly is paramount. Here’s how you can get your startup launched in lightning speed, using a great set of easy tools available online.

Osmo turns iPad into AR arena for kids – Osmo is an ecosystem of learning tools – apps and accessories – that transform the Apple iPad into a kid-friendly center for augmented reality. Two key components are a stand – holding the iPad up straight – and a mirror, allowing the iPad’s front-facing camera to work with the area in front of the tablet. From there, it’s all about the apps.

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HiSense H6 Smart TV with Android hits shelves – HiSense’s H6 Smart TV powered by Android is headed to stores today, with the 55-inch set offering voice control and an “air mouse” remote along with support for various on-demand streaming services. Showing up on Walmart shelves, the Full HD set has a 120Hz refresh rate and integrated WiFi, and can pull Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, and other content without the need for a separate set-top box.

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Get two-factor authentication on the desktop with Authy – A new service called Authy recently launched an app that lets you get two-factor codes on your desktop PC—a handy capability, and doubly so if you don’t always carry a smartphone on you. Authy for the desktop is a Chrome-based app that you download from the Chrome Web Store. While Authy’s desktop app uses Chrome as its basic infrastructure, the program operates separately from the Chrome browser and looks and feels similar to a desktop app. Here’s how it works.

Mid-size tablets compared: iOS vs. Android vs. Fire – The latest tablet trend favors the 8- to 9-inch form-factor, with manufacturers slowly but surely hopping onto the bandwagon. These mid-size slates successfully satisfy the desire for a bigger screen, without sacrificing portability. For this blog, we picked the best 8 to 9-inch models across multiple operating systems to compare and contrast their pros and cons. Check out all of our top small picks here, or, if you think bigger is better, here are our best big tablets.

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Security:

How to change your eBay password – For all of eBay’s talk about notifying users about its deep, devastating database breach—in which hackers swiped customer names, email addresses and physical addresses, phone number, date of birth, and yes, encrypted passwords—an official notification of the incident has yet to hit my inbox, and judging from reactions on Twitter, I’m not the only one being left in the dark.

Facebook Privacy Checkup sheds light on sharing – Facebook will run every one of its 1bn+ users through a new Privacy Checkup that flags up potentially unwanted sharing, as the social network responds to ongoing criticisms that it makes inadvertently spilling secrets too easy. The new tool, which will be rolled out to existing Facebook users over the next few weeks, highlights some of the primary concerns they have voiced, and highlights the options and settings which could help mitigate them. Meanwhile, there are changes afoot for new Facebook sign-ups, too.

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Android apps can use your camera without you knowing – Clever manipulation of Android’s internal rules for using the camera has revealed that it is possible for apps to use your camera without ever making you aware that it’s happening, effectively creating situations where a malicious app could take pictures or video and send them to a remote source. Szymon Sidor recently published a blog post where it is explained in great detail how the camera permissions on Android can be manipulated to take photos without the user seeing what is going on.

Microsoft has yet to fix a known IE8 zero-day exploit after seven months – Microsoft was informed seven months ago about a zero-day exploit that was found in Internet Explorer 8 but has yet to issue an update to fix the issue, but there’s been no attacks that have used it. (No exploits – hardly makes this a “zero-day” exploit then – does it?)

Internet ‘Do Not Track’ system is in shatters – Chalk up another victory for corporate surveillance: Five years after advocates came up with an easy way to let you browse the Web with just a little privacy, the Do Not Track system is in tatters and that pair of boots you looked at online last month is still stalking you from website to website.

Company News:

Google develops Project Tango 3D tablets for imminent release – Google is working on a 7-inch tablet capable of capturing 3D images in high definition. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new mobile device is based on technology developed within Project Tango. The publication says that 4,000 prototypes of the tablet could be released ahead of Google’s I/O developer conference in June. Unnamed sources said the tablets will feature two back cameras, infrared sensors capable of registering depth of field and advanced software that will capture detailed, precise three-dimensional images of objects of space around the user.

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HP to cut an additional 11,000-16,000 positions from its workforce – HP has announced it will cut an additional 11,000 to 16,000 positions from its workforce, bringing the total number of layoffs it has made since May 2012 to as much as 50,000 employees.

Oculus VR sued over intellectual property theft – Oculus VR and its founder Palmer Luckey are being sued by ZeniMax Media over claims the company infringed upon intellectual property in the development of the Rift virtual reality headset. ZeniMax Media is the owner of game maker Id Software — developer of games including Doom — as well as other game firms, including Bethesda Game Studios, makers of The Elder Scrolls. The company was once the employer of Oculus CTO and one-time co-founder of Id Software John Carmack. Hired by Oculus in August and abandoning Id Software later in the year, Carmack allegedly assisted Oculus in the development of its Rift headset while still employed by ZeniMax.

Sony’s restructuring drive on the verge of completion, CEO claims – Sony’s chief executive Kazuo Hirai says that the ailing firm’s restructuring efforts are pushing ahead, and Sony aims to be back in profit by the end of next March.

Games and Entertainment:

Epic Games makes Flappy Bird clone in Unreal Engine 4 to show ease of game creation – In March, Epic Games announced it would let anyone use its new Unreal Engine 4 tools to make games for the price of $19 a month, plus a small percentage of the game’s revenues. Today, the company released its first Unreal Engine 4 game, but instead of a high end title like the Unreal series, Epic decided to offer a small mobile and web browser game to show it can handle smaller scale titles.

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Avengers return in Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 – The Avengers have arrived in the Disney Infinity universe, bringing with them a word on how an open-sandbox model will work with their mighty hand upon the trigger. Disney Infinity is a game which, like Skylanders, uses physical toys to activate virtual-reality characters in the game. This Avengers Playset expansion heralds the second coming of the title – a whole new world, as it were.

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Watch Dogs launch overdrive: documentary series on tap – This week Ubisoft is kicking out all the stops when it comes to reminding the public about Watch Dogs. This game is a multi-platform release, coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, and eventually Wii U as well. In addition to a full-powered launch trailer, Watch Dogs is the inspiration behind a three-part documentary called “Phreaked Out”, all about real-world hacking. Next you’ll have a peek at the first part of three episodes of a Motherboard-produced short series. This “Phreaked Out” episode centers on Unlocking L.A.’s Traffic Grid, and reminds you several times that the hacks you see in Watch Dogs aren’t that unrealistic.

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SumoBoy: the game that takes aim at bullying – The game, which has been in development for a year, centres around Oji, an orphan boy who is routinely bullied at school, but nevertheless manages to remain kind and compassionate. One day, he discovers that his mother is the Princess of the Elements, Kesa, from the magical land of Seishin — and that his homeland is in peril. Kesa has been kidnapped and held prisoner by Kurai Kami, and it’s up to Oji to rescue Seishin using his Sumo powers and his Blade of Balance.

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Minecraft Launches on PS4, Xbox One in August – Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles hit the market in November, but everyone’s favorite 8-bit video game is just making its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. No, not Flappy Bird. Minecraft will go on sale in August for $19.99 on the new machines, as well as PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. “Apologies for the delay, but putting Minecraft on new consoles is a serious business,” Mojang’s Owen Hill wrote in a blog post. The game maker outlined details for each console’s release, promising bigger worlds and greater draw distance than former versions, as well as more cross-platform opportunities.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

NYC Met Museum of Arts brings 400,000 images to public domain – The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art has made a massive collection of images available to the public domain this month. Bringing 400,000 images – most of which have never been seen on the web before – to the public is a big step for the museum in joining a large cross-section of institutions implementing similar initiatives.

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California Will Start Granting Licenses For Driverless Cars In September – You need a license to drive a car. But does a robot? For now, yes. Come September, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will begin granting licenses to select driverless cars and their human co-pilots, which will make it a bit less legally iffy as to whether or not they’re actually allowed to be on a public road. The good news: The license will only cost $150 a pop, and that covers 10 vehicles and up to 20 test drivers.

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NASA Creates a Planetary-Scale Earth Day Selfie – NASA has stitched together 36,477 selfies taken on Earth Day this year to create a 3.2-gigapixel “Global Selfie” mosaic forming an image of our planet as it looked on April 22, 2014. The space agency solicited the photos on Earth Day via social media, asking people to answer the question, “Where are you on Earth Right Now?” along with submitted a self-snapped photo of themselves. A month later, the zoomable, GigaPan-hosted final product was published on the Internet.

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Make a quiet call in this phone-shaped chair – The world is buzzing all around you. People are talking, shuffling, and making noise. You just want to turn down the ambient volume a little so you can make a quick phone call in peace. This is when the First Call chair comes to the rescue, offering a place to park your butt and use your phone while blocking out a bit of the outside world.

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Something to think about:

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable as a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other thing under the sun.”

–    John D. Rockefeller

Today’s Free Downloads:

FotoMix – FotoMix is a versatile program that allows you to mix and manipulate different pictures, to create a wide variety of images.

Features:

Remove, add or alter backgrounds.

Add or remove your loved and not so loved ones from your pictures.

Design eye-catching photo collages, illustrations, wallpapers, CD and DVD covers, and miscellaneous Web graphics.

Create photo montages by combining multiple pictures into a unique heirloom depicting retrospectives of a birth, marriage, anniversary, etc. Anything is possible.

The result is so high in quality that it is almost impossible to tell if the photo has been manipulated. Once your creations are finished, you can print them, email them to friends or transfer them to T-shirts, mugs, calendars, etc. Make the most out of your photo collection! Play with it. Explore the possibilities. You will love it.

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PrivaZer – When you use your PC (at home or working at your office), go on the Internet, watch a video, download, copy/remove files on your PC, install/uninstall or use software, etc., you always leave sensitive traces which:

make your PC slower and cluttered

reduces free space available and

puts you at risk for a bad consequence: what you have done could be easily recovered by analyzing your PC with an expert recovery software or with more advanced techniques.

We decided to develop a new type of cleaning tool to give you the peace of mind that once your data is gone, it is gone for good.

PrivaZer allows you to:

See exactly what can still be recovered of your past activities on your PC at home or at work

Clean in-depth unwanted traces of what you’ve done watched, downloaded, deleted, etc. and prevent recovery

Master your security & freedom. Free up disk space. Keep your PC fit and secure!!!

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(Screen shot from my personal system.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Weakened NSA Reform Bill Passes The House Despite Losing Key Votes – This morning the House passed the USA FREEDOM Act by a vote of 303 to 121. The bill, aimed at curbing the National Security Agency, was, in the views of privacy groups and the like, neutered late in its life, leaving it as little protection against bulk collection of private data.

After this morning’s vote, the Center For Democracy & Technology disparaged the bill’s passage: “We withdrew support for USA FREEDOM when the bill morphed into a codification of large-scale, untargeted collection of data about Americans with no connection to a crime or terrorism.”

The center is not the only party that finds what passed the House to be unpalatable. Earlier this morning Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan was plain when explaining his no vote on a bill that he was an original co-sponsor of:

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616″ or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

He goes on to note that the act does include “a few modest improvements,” but calls the situation in which Congressional leaders and President Obama “refuse to accept consensus reforms” that would uphold Constitutional protections “shameful.”

Beijing to Washington: ratted-out routers not welcome here: China announces vendor ‘vetting’ plan to keep out snoopware-infested kit – China has taken revenge on the USA for its Huawei ban and router-ratting actions alleged by Edward Snowden, by announcing a new “vetting” process for foreign technology providers.

The news emerged in Xinhua, a party-controlled Chinese news organ that reports State Internet Information Office spokesperson Jiang Jun as saying “For a long time, governments and enterprises of a few countries have gathered sensitive information on a large scale, taking the advantage of their monopoly in the market and technological edge.”

“They not only seriously undermine interests of their clients but also threaten cyber security of other countries.”

China will therefore step in and vet vendors that aspire to sell within its borders to safeguard not only it’s own interests, but the world’s!…

Microsoft Challenged A National Security Letter That Included A Gag Order — And Won – Microsoft challenged a National Security Letter from the FBI last year – and won. The documents relating the case were recently unsealed, making the effort public.

The gist is simple: Microsoft received a National Security Letter requesting “basic subscriber information” regarding an “enterprise” customer. That’s how Microsoft characterized the request. For simplicity, the FBI was after the metadata of a large Microsoft client.

The letter banned Microsoft from disclosing to anyone that the data had been requested. Microsoft didn’t think that reasonable and filed a challenge. The FBI then retracted its request. The customer in question was an Office 365 user. The FBI wanted data involving “several categories of information regarding a single user account associated with the e-mail domain which is [redacted] supported within the block of individual Office 365 accounts [snip] provided to [redacted] by Microsoft under the Contract.”

On the heels of the passage of an NSA reform bill that likely fails at its stated task, and the failure of two amendments to a separate bill aimed at defunding certain government actions that weaken encryption and harm privacy, this is welcome news.

What’s fun in this isn’t that a single National Security Letter was beaten back, but more how Microsoft argued its case. A few excerpts that are worth noting, regarding why Microsoft felt the Letter wasn’t a legal request…

The EFF Blasts Twitter For Censoring Itself In Russia And Pakistan – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today upbraided Twitter for censoring itself in Russia and Pakistan, stating that the company has stepped “down from the free speech party.”

The EFF’s argument is simple: Twitter’s decision to censor content on a country-by-country basis was the “least terrible option” available to it, provided that it only did so when the company was “compelled” by a court order in a country where the company has “significant assets or employees.”

In the case of Russia and Pakistan, where local censorship is now instituted by the company, Twitter does not have sufficient local presence to make presented court orders meaningful in the eyes of the EFF.

This makes the censorship in Russia (of a Ukrainian political account) and Pakistan (where takedown requests have ranged from porn to blasphemy) unreasonable according to the EFF, because Twitter’s lack of a local presence precludes it from the behest of the requests.

Schneier on Security: Disclosing vs. Hoarding Vulnerabilities – There’s a debate going on about whether the US government — specifically, the NSA and United States Cyber Command — should stockpile Internet vulnerabilities or disclose and fix them. It’s a complicated problem, and one that starkly illustrates the difficulty of separating attack and defense in cyberspace.

A software vulnerability is a programming mistake that allows an adversary access into that system. Heartbleed is a recent example, but hundreds are discovered every year.

Unpublished vulnerabilities are called “zero-day” vulnerabilities, and they’re very valuable because no one is protected. Someone with one of those can attack systems world-wide with impunity.

When someone discovers one, he can either use it for defense or for offense. Defense means alerting the vendor and getting it patched. Lots of vulnerabilities are discovered by the vendors themselves and patched without any fanfare. Others are discovered by researchers and hackers. A patch doesn’t make the vulnerability go away, but most users protect themselves by patch their systems regularly…

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 22, 2014

Biosurveillance: Government to track your health as a matter of national security;  eBay hacked, database breached; Congress guts law to restrict NSA spying;  Better smartphone photos with these great photography apps;  How to Hide the Dumb Stuff You Did Online From Employers;  The Best Job Search Websites & Apps; Secret for Android Lets You Gossip on the Go;  5 streaming music services you might have overlooked;  Steam In-Home Streaming hands-on;  Tech issues hit Wolfenstein;  Apple Pulls No. 1 Game “Weed Firm” From The App Store; Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner (free);  Rizonesoft Pixel Repair (free);  New Tunepics Social Network Is Like Instagram With A Soundtrack;  eBay hack could result in social engineering schemes.

Congress guts law to restrict NSA spying, civil liberty groups appalled: USA FREEDOM Act? Not so much – Civil liberties groups have reacted angrily after Congress changed key provisions in the USA FREEDOM Act before submitting it to a full vote by the House of Representatives, scheduled for Thursday. “This legislation was designed to prohibit bulk collection, but has been made so weak that it fails to adequately protect against mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ private information,” said Center for Democracy and Technology President Nuala O’Connor. “The bill now offers only mild reform and goes against the overwhelming support for definitively ending bulk collection.”

Biosurveillance: Government to track your health as a matter of national security – We have surveillance coming out the ying yang as we are tracked via websites, our purchases, our cell phones, digital footprints, license plates when driving, and more. Now the government’s biosurveillance plan will make tracking the health records of Americans a matter of national security. “The information collected by the government will be ‘all-encompassing’ and include ‘what our health status is, whether we exercise, how often we get a cold, or what kind of medications we’re taking,” according to the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF).

UK privacy watchdog says ‘forget me, Google’ ruling no threat to free expression – Europeans’ newfound ‘right to be forgotten’ by search engines might be hard to implement, but it’s not a threat to freedom to expression, says the UK’s data protection watchdog. The Information Commission’s Office on Wednesday gave its first detailed response to the European Court of Justice’s recent ruling which gave Europeans the right to ask Google to stop providing links to web content that portrays them negatively, if that content is no longer relevant.

7 ways to use social media to get work done – What if you could prove to the powers that be that social media has real value to your job? Need talking points to take to your boss to show that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites are actually essential to the work you do? Try these arguments (don’t call them excuses) for how your job—and the company—can benefit from social media.

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How Facebook Knows What Television Show You’re Watching Right Now – Facebook wants to make it easier for users to share what they’re listening to or watching. The company today announced an update to its mobile app that will allow Facebook to automatically detect what song, movie or TV show a user is listening to or watching. The new feature, which is optional, makes use of the microphones in users’ smartphones to identify the content. Think of it like the music ID app Shazam being incorporated right into Facebook’s interface.

5 free Daydream apps that put your charging phone to work – I know what you’re thinking: let’s do that! Daydream isn’t a well-known feature, but that doesn’t mean it escaped developers’ radars. Just search for ‘Daydream’ in the Play Store, and you’ll find hundreds of apps to customize your charging screen. Here are five of the coolest.

SideControl is an app for Android that makes multitasking work on your terms – Android is one of the few mobile operating systems that supported multitasking of some sort from the get-go, but not much has changed since its humble beginnings. But that’s what apps are for, and SideControl is powerful one that puts control over multitasking into your hands. It’s easy to set up, though its bevy of options might overwhelm you at first. Here’s how to get started.

How to Hide the Dumb Stuff You Did Online From Employers – Before a company takes on the risk and investment of adding you to their payroll, be assured that they will follow your digital footprints beyond your LinkedIn profile. Indeed, they will comb the virtual world in search of potential concerns and liabilities. Just assume HR departments are going to go all NSA on you. So, young person, as you are jettisoned from the comfy university incubator into the jobless economic hellscape of 2014, know that it is extremely important to put your best Internet foot forward when going for that first post-grad job. Here are some tips to help keep your poor Internet decisions from affecting your job search.

The Best Job Search Websites & Apps – Ready for a change of workplace? These job sites and mobile apps will help you find, apply to, and ultimately, land your dream job. We can’t guarantee you’ll find your dream job right away with these services, but you’ll certainly get a panoramic view of what’s available in your field. Who knows, you may even decide to explore a new career path.

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Secret for Android Lets You Gossip on the Go – Psst, over here. Do you like secrets? Yeah? Well, now you can get the official Secret app on Android and read all the juicy gossip from your social circle, or get tomorrow’s Valleyway news before it’s news. If that’s the sort of thing you’re into, of course.

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New Tunepics Social Network Is Like Instagram With A Soundtrack – If you mashed up Instagram with music tracks, what would you get? A timeline of pictures from friends with evocative soundtracks that stimulate the ears as well as the eyes? Perhaps even tug at the emotions? That, at least, is the hope of Tunepics, a new social network that does just that. With this new iOS app, users can feature a song with every image they share.

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Budget geek: Secrets of my cheap-tastic tech life – I feel like I’m writing an advertisement for a used car dealership. Save big now! But that’s just the way I run my technology budget — like a person hunting for a great pair of jeans at the thrift store — except I’m haunting the virtual aisles of Amazon.. It would be easy to drop a good portion of my monthly budget on tech items, but I don’t. Here’s how I do it without locking myself up in a gadget-induced debtor’s prison.

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Facebook adds audio recognition tagging – Facebook tagging comes in many varieties — locations, people, moods, meals, movies and more. Of the latter, and including TV shows and music, tagging these becomes easier with the introduction of audio identification through one’s smartphone microphone.

Take better smartphone photos with these great photography apps – The cameras on iPhones and Android phones (some of them, anyway) are pretty good. But sometimes we need a little more, like a way to get rid of that dreaded red-eye, crop out a nemesis, or splash some funky filters onto an otherwise mundane lunch. Or perhaps we’re looking to get more out of the cameras in our pocket, nabbing DSLR-lite tools or turning a clunker into something usable. Whatever the case, chances are there’s an app out there for you — here are a few of my favorites.

The Butterfleye camera keeps an eye on your home, no wires attached – Sensors let Butterfleye intelligently decide what to record and what not to. For instance, it’s got Wi-Fi, iBeacon, and Bluetooth, and a companion app lets you set up a geofence around your house for any number of Android and iOS smartphones. When your phone is within the geofence, Butterfleye thinks you’re home, and it stops recording you. It can also sense ambient light, heat, and infrared waves, which help it determine if it’s seeing a human being or pet (which it will record) or just your TV left on (which it can ignore).

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5 streaming music services you might have overlooked – The streaming music scene seems like it’s ruled by a few heavyweights, with Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio slugging it out for your hearts, minds, and eardrums. But that’s only part of the picture. Just as several lower-profile video streaming services vie with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, music streaming services you’ve probably never heard of are looking for ways to make their mark with features the established players don’t offer. Which subscription music service will emerge as the next Spotify or Pandora? We’ve spotted five interesting alternatives that bring their own unique twist to music stream.

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Security:

eBay hacked, database breached and personal information compromised – Global auctioning site eBay has warned users to change their passwords in the wake of a recent cyber attack against the company. The popular service used by millions all over the world has suffered from a database breach, in which the safety of personal information such as names, passwords, and email addresses have all been compromised. The company has reassured that no financial information was contained within the database and neither was there any sign of a PayPal hacking.

eBay hack could result in social engineering schemes – eBay is directing users to reset passwords in the wake of a massive data breach, but the much larger risk is from the theft of sensitive personal information that could be used to compromise other accounts.

Popular Websites’ Password Policies Leave Consumers Exposed – After the Heartbleed bug came to light earlier this year, website administrators scrambled to patch the vulnerable component that allowed crooks to capture chunks of memory from secure servers. Since those chunks could easily include usernames and passwords, many sites notified users to update their passwords after the fix. However, a security report from the makers of the popular Dashlane password manager reveals that most sites have a lot more work to do on their own password policies.

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One of world’s more pricey trojans is veritable Swiss Army knife for Android – Included in the $5,000 fee is the ability to redirect incoming voice calls, covertly capture sounds within range of the device’s microphone, track geolocation, access the file system, and remotely corral the device into sprawling mobile botnets that use either HTTP or SMS to communicate, depending on the current network status of the infected handset.

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Hackers lay claim to exploit that defeats iPhone anti-theft tools – By targeting the flaw, the hackers can transmit instructions to the device and pull information including AppleID credentials. With the stolen credentials in hand, an attacker would then be able to disable any remote locking or wipe mechanisms, which can be activated for stolen and lost devices. The researchers say they first spotted the flaw five months ago and that after researching the issue they reported it to Apple in March, though they have yet to hear back from the company.

Public utility compromised after brute-force hack attack, says Homeland Security – The utility’s control system was accessible via Internet-facing hosts and used a simple password system, wrote the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) in a report on incidents covering the first quarter of this year. The utility, which was not identified, was vulnerable to a brute-force attack, where hackers try different combinations of passwords until the right one is found. An investigation showed the utility was attacked before.

Apple’s response to security issue: too late, says hacker – A security issue with iCloud that leaves iOS users vulnerable was the recent topic of an email from Apple received by hacker AquaXetine, who took to Twitter today to announce that he deleted the message. “They’re are soooooooo toooo late,” he said.

Company News:

Microsoft says it will continue to offer Windows 7 to Chinese government – Microsoft has now said it will continue to offer Windows 7 to the Chinese government for their PCs, now that China has banned the use of the Windows 8 operating system on government computers.

Apple bests Samsung in overall sales for Q1 2014 – Dominating the sales demographics on most carriers, Apple remains the top smartphone vendor, helping push smartphones to an 87% market share in the US. The Q1 2014 numbers also show a 7% growth versus last year, and highlight a breakdown of sales by OEM and carrier. Though there are some suprising statistics, Apple’s dominance is not one of them.

Google bringing WiFi to enterprise via subsidies, report claims – Google’s enterprise ambitions are clearing up daily, with the latest news highlighting their connectivity ambitions. According to sources who (of course) don’t wish to be named, Google is set to offer WiFi subsidies on both hardware and software to small and medium sized businesses. Those mom and pop stores are about to have a web presence and WiFi hotspot if Google has anything to say about it.

Blackphone Maker Silent Circle Raises $30M – Global private communications firm Silent Circle will use this round of funding to help meet what it called “overwhelming demand” for the new Blackphone device. According to its website, pre-orders have sold out, but interested customers can keep an eye out for more details. The phone will begin shipping to early adopters next month.

Google eyes Nest for new world of AdWords everywhere – Google is predicting adverts displayed on your Nest smart thermostat, as well as across wearables like Glass and Android Wear, car dashboards, and more, as it tries to clue the government in on what will be the ad opportunities of tomorrow. The idea of the spread of marketing and similar promotional information across different wearable and smart home devices came as Google responded to an SEC concern about falling ad revenues as the traditional ways of displaying them become diversified.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam In-Home Streaming hands-on – If NVIDIA SHIELD didn’t convince you that streaming a game from your high-powered PC to a slightly smaller PC was amazing, Steam’s vision might. Released just today out of Beta, Steam In-Home Streaming allows you to play any game you own on Steam on one computer as long as you’ve got a computer with the right requirements on and connected to the same network.

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Xbox One getting external hard drive support in June – The next major Xbox One software update will add external storage support, bailing out users who’ve already burned through the console’s 500 GB hard drive. There are, however a couple of caveats: Microsoft is requiring USB 3.0 with at least 256 GB of storage, so you might not be able to re-purpose a really old hard drive. You’ll also have to format the drive first, wiping out anything that’s already stored on it.

Tech issues hit Wolfenstein: The New Order PC players; here are some potential fixes – Both PC Gamer and Rock Paper Shotgun have reported crashes, extremely low frame rates, texture pop-in issues, and white screens appearing during load times. Their accounts mirror complaints found in many Wolfenstein forums. While Rock Paper Shotgun resolved the problems by using an older Nvidia card, PC Gamer ran into trouble with both Nvidia and AMD GPUs. Users who are affected can try a few things to get Wolfenstein into playable shape.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Whistle, The ‘FitBit For Dogs’, Adds GPS Features To Make Sure You Never Lose Your Pet – The gadget, which is on presale now, will cost $129 and charge a $5 per month GPS service fee. While pet GPS trackers are not exactly new, the company is touting WhistleGPS as having the smallest form factor and longest battery life of all the pet trackers on the market. According to Whistle, some 10 million pets are lost every year, so the potential impact here is pretty sizable.

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China to become world’s No 1 economy. And we still can’t see why – Our perceptions of Chinese business are coloured by two powerful myths, both of which are from time to time tinged by racism and paranoia. One is that the Chinese technology and manufacturing sectors are in the business of making cheap “copycats”. But a few minutes spent studying either Haier Electronics Group – now one of the world’s leading white goods manufacturers making ¥62.26bn in revenue and ¥2.1bn in income (about £5.8bn and £200m) in 2013 – or Huawei – with almost $40bn revenue last year – might change your outlook.

This palm-sized quadrotor was drawn with a 3D printing pen – 3D printing pens are a lot more practical than you might have thought. Tools like the 3Doodler can be used to produce real objects just like a 3D printer — not just drippy sketches of things that you’d like to print on a larger device that costs 10 to 20 times as much. Objects like this slick little quadrotor, for example.

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FBI chief backtracks, says he’s “against” hiring pot smokers – It didn’t take but a day for James Comey, the director of the FBI, to backtrack on his statements that the bureau was considering reforming hiring policies to attract marijuana-smoking cyber analysts. “I am absolutely dead-set against using marijuana,” Comey told a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Wednesday. “I did not say that I am going to change that ban.” On Tuesday, however, the director said he was “grappling with the question right now” about whether to lift a policy that precludes the FBI from hiring candidates who had used marijuana the past three years.

Snowden’s First Move Against the NSA Was a Party in Hawaii – It was December 11, 2012, and in a small art space behind a furniture store in Honolulu, NSA contractor Edward Snowden was working to subvert the machinery of global surveillance. Snowden was not yet famous. His blockbuster leaks were still six months away, but the man destined to confront world leaders on a global stage was addressing a much smaller audience that Sunday evening. He was leading a local “Crypto Party,” teaching less than two dozen Hawaii residents how to encrypt their hard drives and use the internet anonymously. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Apple Pulls No. 1 Game “Weed Firm” From The App Store – Apple has pulled the No. 1 game in the U.S., called “Weed Firm,” from the App Store. The game, which had been described as something of a “Grand Theft Auto” for the marijuana-minded, allowed players to grow and sell weed, interact with gangsters, and earn lots of dough for their drug-dealing activities. It’s clear why Apple wouldn’t want a game like this at the top of its App Store charts, but its rejection is also somewhat confusing since it looks like the game was singled out for the sole crime of becoming universally popular. Requests for comment and an explanation from Apple were not returned.

How Netflix streams movies to your TV – At peak times, Netflix accounts for around a third of the consumer Internet traffic in North America. This week, one of its senior engineers described how it gets all those movies to your screen. The company operates its own content delivery network (CDN), a global network of storage servers that cache content close to where it will be viewed. That local caching reduces bandwidth costs and makes it easier to scale the service over a wide area.

Something to think about:

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

–    Gertrude Stein

Today’s Free Downloads:

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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Rizonesoft Pixel Repair – You can use the Dead pixel locator section on Rizonesoft Pixel Repair to look for dead or stuck pixels. You can also use this section to help you find dirty little spots and dust when you clean your screen. Now, after you have located stuck pixels, try to repair them with this tool. Set the color mode, press go and place the flashy window thingy under the stuck pixel. Pixel Repair will attempt to repair stuck pixels and it will not repair dead pixels.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Reform Amendments Fail As The USA FREEDOM Act Stumbles – The USA FREEDOM Act, a bill designed to reform the NSA, picked up a number of dismissals recently from privacy and technology groups unhappy with the strength and potential impact of its provisions.

According to the Center for Democracy & Technology’s (CDT) Harley Geiger, the “USA FREEDOM Act was a strong reform measure when it was introduced,” and that even after it was “watered down in the House Judiciary Committee,” was still a bill that would have been “an effective prohibition on bulk collection.”

In Geiger’s estimation that is no longer the case. Instead, “the version of the USA FREEDOM Act that will reach the House Floor will be so weakened that it may continue to allow mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ private records in the future.”

The CDT is not alone in its scorn for the bill in its current form. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also unloaded on the Act…

The White House Throws Its Weight Behind Weakened NSA Reform Bill – In the wake of criticism that the USA FREEDOM Act had been so neutered that it has lost sight of its initial goals of limiting NSA mass-surveillance, the Obama Administration today stated that it “strongly supports” its passage in the House.

Citing “strong bipartisan effort,” the White House says that the bill “ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation,” while also prohibiting “bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters.”

Critics of the bill in its final state point out that, while it does address Section 215 concerns, other important parts of the law are not dealt with…

CIA wins secrecy for Bay of Pigs history – The Central Intelligence Agency has the right to keep secret a draft history of its involvement with the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion more than five decades ago, a split federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled, 2-1, that the CIA can withhold the volume about the 1961 operation against Cuba in its entirety under a Freedom of Information Act exemption that protects government agencies’ interest in receiving candid advice. (suggested by Aseem S.)

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