Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 21, 2014

The U.S., China and Internet Glass Houses;  19 Ways the Internet of Things Changes Everything;  Decorate like a pro with these 10 interior design apps;  Three free privacy add-ons for Firefox and Chrome;  AMC Security is a one-stop security shop for Android;  It’s time to stop whining about the NSA and start building solutions;  Advanced SystemCare 7 Free;  Chrome OS update brings folders, added security features;  DuckDuckGo Gets A New Look, Smarter Search;  HP goes dirt cheap with $100 Android tablet;  A Walk Through The Surface Pro 3;  Your MasterCard Suspended for Fraud? It’s a Scam;  Chrome 35 Fixes 23 Security Flaws.

The U.S., China and Internet Glass Houses – That was quite a show the government put on Monday. The dramatic press conference featuring Attorney General Eric Holder, the coordinated press leaks ahead of the announcement, the strong statements about the sanctity of American commerce and how the United States will prosecute those who conduct cyberespionage against American targets. There were even cyber-wanted posters. All that was missing was a folding table loaded down with the weapons of choice: hard drives, mouses and keyboards. It makes for great clips and sound bites, but at its core, the press conference and the indictments themselves are a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Let’s be honest; the chances of any of these men ever setting foot in the U.S. to face these charges are roughly zero point zero.

It’s time to stop whining about the NSA and start building solutions – The world is changing. Fortunately, the tech industry does one thing very, very well: Innovate in a changing world.

19 Ways the Internet of Things Changes Everything – By 2025, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be everywhere, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a device that’s not connected to the Web in some way. The possibilities are endless with the IoT: from health trackers and cars to home audio systems and smoke alarms. Combine that with an IFTTT (If This Then That) command and you have the recipe for a truly Web-connected life. So where can you find the IoT now and where is it going? Check out the slideshow to find out.

Chrome OS update brings folders, added security features – Save for two devices, all Chrome OS devices are getting a tidy update today. Aside from the bug fixes present in every update, this one brings in folders to the app launcher and user-requested video controls. Chrome OS is also getting a little more word-y, as Google rolls in hotwords on the new tab page.

Privacy-Focused Search Engine DuckDuckGo Gets A New Look, Smarter Search With “Instant Answers” – Key to the new release are a number of features users have been requesting, including images, local search, auto-suggest, and others, explains CEO Gabriell Weinberg. These changes are meant to take DuckDuckGo another step closer toward being more competitive with search giant Google – at least for the smaller user base who chooses DuckDuckGo because of its un-creepy policies.

Turn your Android device into the ultimate GPS back-country navigator – Here’s how to optimize your Android device for remote overland travel, on foot or vehicle. And we’re not talking about turn-by-turn navigation for the nearest Starbucks.

HP goes dirt cheap with $100 Android tablet – Dubbed the HP 7 Plus, it’s not to be confused with the HP Slate 7 Plus, which costs $50 more and features an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and a bigger battery. The 7 Plus is powered by an ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core processor instead and, at 5.5 hours of battery life, promises about 2 hours less than the Slate 7 Plus. Like the Slate 7 Plus, and the HP 8, it runs the older Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but while the HP 8 includes 16GB of built-in storage, the 7 Plus only comes with 8GB.

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Three free privacy add-ons for Firefox and Chrome – AVG PrivacyFix, Bitdefender TrafficLight, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger identify and block ad networks and other entities that track your Web activities.

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ProtonMail secure email promised NSA-proof – The Snowden revelations led to an increased demand for secure services, something the government has targeted repeatedly, as exemplified by the Lavabit closure and resulting legal issues. It is that secure email void in particular that Andy Yen of Harvard and a team of MIT colleagues decided to focus on, creating ProtonMail in the process. ProtonMail just kicked off a beta run, and is free to use for most, with the exception of those designated “power users”, who will need to shell out $5 monthly. Those worried the encryption aspect will make it too complicated needed be. Says co-founder Jason Stockman, “If you can use Gmail, you can use ProtonMail.”

Decorate like a pro with these 10 interior design apps – When I moved to Los Angeles last month, I signed a lease without ever seeing the actual apartment. I didn’t arrive completely clueless about what I wanted to do with the space. Instead of sitting around imagining how I wanted to decorate my new apartment, I’d spent hours browsing photos and ideas on interior design apps, honing in on design styles I liked, picking out color palettes, and even shopping for patio furniture. Whether you’re moving, redecorating, or remodeling, these ten apps are sure to help you in the process.

AMC Security is a one-stop security shop for Android – We’ve reached the point where there’s no escaping the fact that mobile devices need protection and cleanup tools. As a whole, we use our smartphones and tablets more than we’re using desktops. Because of that, we cobble together toolkits that contain various bits and pieces to ensure our devices are at the top of their game. But what if you had a one-stop-shop that could handle…

    Antivirus (real time and manual scan)

Anti-theft

Task killer

Battery saver

App manager

Cache cleaner

Call/SMS blocking

Privacy advisor

Privacy locker

Cloud backup

Surf protection (protection from malicious URLs)

Direct-to-Drive attachment saves added to Gmail for Android – The great Google services integration continues with a new feature that will let you save attachments from Gmail without plugging up your phone’s storage space. After coming to the web version of Gmail in November, Gmail for Android now lets you save attachments directly to Google Drive. The new feature is part of the latest version of Gmail for Android, which started rolling out on Monday via Google Play.

Google+ for Android gets a fresh new coat of red paint – The update trades in the static gray bars for vibrant red ones, and rather than utilize a “hamburger” pull out navigational menu, now there’s quick access at the top of page. From here, you can access everything: your circles, your community, as well as Locations, Events, and Photos, including the new Stories feature.

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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Encrypted Messaging App Silent Text Hits v2.0 on iPhone and iPad – When you need to keep your communications safe from prying eyes, Silent Circle is here to help. Silent Circle has just updated one of its flagship privacy apps on iOS to make your messaging more secure and easier–v2.0 of Silent Text hardens data protections on the device, revamps the UI, and makes sending encrypted messages faster. It requires a subscription, but you get what you pay for with security.

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A Walk Through The Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s Ultralight Laplet – To top off our cavalcade of Surface coverage today, I present a very quick walk-through of the Surface Pro 3 with a special guest star. So far, the laplet (laptop-tablet) is quite an improvement over the original Surface. Make no mistake: This is a full PC. It has a powerful Intel Core processor — this model contains an i5 and runs as fast as any Windows 8 laptop.

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Several major companies like BMW and Coca-Cola will be getting Surface Pro 3 – Microsoft has announced that a number of major corporations, including Coca-Cola and BMW, were so impressed with early demos of the Surface Pro 3 that they plan to deploy them in their companies.

iStick A300 is a PC that fits in your pocket – The iStick A300 series measures in a 3.9- x 2.2- x 0.6-inches, and is packed with a Rockchip ARM Cortex-A9 processor alongside 2GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space. There’s a microSD card slot for expanding that storage, and an optional mSATA port for using an SSD. Connectivity is fairly substantial considering the device’s small size, offering Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band WIFI, and Ethernet, as well as a trio of USB host ports. Video is delivered via a micro HDMI port, and the system is loaded with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

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Addappt Keeps Your Contacts in Sync Even When People Change Numbers – Contact syncing is a fairly basic feature in modern smartphones, but it’s still just syncing the data you’ve entered in the past. What if one of your contacts gets a new phone number or email address? Addappt aims to keep that from happening by syncing and updating contacts across your network. This app has just arrived on Android after coming to iOS a few years back, but it seems well-suited to Google’s cloud contact management scheme.

Security:

Chrome 35 Fixes 23 Security Flaws – Google has fixed 23 security vulnerabilities in Chrome, including three high-risk flaws, and handed out $9,500 in rewards to researchers. Among the vulnerabilities that the company fixed in Chrome 35 are use-after-free flaws and an integer overflow, all of which are rated high. (The next time panic-stricken tech media deals with an Internet Explorer security issue as if the sky is falling (and there will be a “next time”) – keep this article in mind.)

Your MasterCard Suspended for Fraud? It’s a Scam – A quick search on ripoff.com, bbb.org, and other consumer advocacy sites show a handful of complaints from earlier this month from users who received similar calls. The format of the call differs slightly, and the bank name changes, but in general the recipient is directed to “press 1” to fix the issues with their card, and then to hand over information such as the card number and PIN, and sometimes even the expiration date and security code. Scammers are calling to get your card information and PIN so they can withdraw money from the account. The proper response is to hang up, call the bank or financial institution directly, and verify their information is secure.

Education data mining puts kids’ privacy at risk – The NSA? Bah! Private-sector education technology companies are making that lot look like rank amateurs when it comes to data-mining. Our kids are being watched, and the gushing data streams they’re emitting are getting analysed in granularity so minute, it puts data-mining companies like Facebook and Google to shame.

Study: 97% of companies using network defenses get hacked anyway – A security study drawing data from more than 1,600 networks over a six-month period found that 97 percent of the networks experienced some form of breach—despite the use of multiple layers of network and computer security software. The data collected from network and e-mail monitoring appliances from October 2013 to March 2014 also showed that three-quarters of the networks had command-and-control traffic indicating the presence of active security breaches connected to over 35,000 unique command-and-control servers. Higher-education networks were the biggest source of botnet traffic.

UK convicts two child abusers who used Facebook to groom victims – Two UK men have been found guilty of grooming girls via Facebook, enticing them into meetings at hotels, cars and alleyways where they then raped and sexually abused victims as young as 13.

Company News:

Apple dethroned by Google as world’s most valuable brand – Research company Millward Brown has decided that this is true. And when a research company decides, you can’t really argue. Indeed, looking at the research results, the evidence is quite painful. Apple’s brand value has diminished by 20 percent to a mere $148 billion. Meanwhile, Google’s has soared by a fulsome 40 percent to $159 billion.

Facebook to roll out video ads to Australia, UK, Canada – Facebook has announced its Premium Video Ads will begin running in Australia and six other countries including the UK and Canada. The 15-second video ads will appear in users’ newsfeeds and play automatically with the sound muted. When clicked, they will will fill the screen and the sound will turn on. The company says it will introduce the ads slowly with a limited number of advertisers, though a representative could not confirm how many or which local companies are on board.

New lawsuit accuses Google of AdSense fraud – A lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google accuses the tech titan of engaging in widespread fraud by canceling AdSense accounts just before they were due to pay out. The suit relies in part on recent anonymous accusations that Google developed an AdSense fraud scheme in 2009 to prevent publishers from collecting money that Google owed them. AdSense is a major advertiser partner network for Google that accounts for about a quarter of Google’s annual revenue. In 2013, Google earned $57.86 billion in revenue.

Apple reportedly will pay ISPs for direct network connections – It’s long been rumored that Apple is building its own content delivery network (CDN), and now it appears that the company is negotiating paid interconnection deals with “some of the largest ISPs in the US” in order to deliver Apple content to consumers.

Games and Entertainment:

Transistor review: Bastion’s successor borders on majesty – Every aspect of Transistor is painstakingly crafted, from its compelling combat to its sharp graphics to Darren Korb’s haunting soundtrack.

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Hitman Go for iPad – Who could possibly have seen this coming? Hitman, the series of violent and visually sumptuous stealth shooting games, has come to iPad in the form of Hitman Go, a mannered, turn-based puzzle board game. As bizarre as the juxtaposition seems, however, this isn’t quite as illogical as it sounds. For one thing, Hitman—despite the kinetic and controversy-baiting adverts and the heavily armed stripper nuns—was always a quieter game than it was given credit for; its big points are generally earned by slipping through a level with barely a ripple, taking down your mark cleanly while leaving the guards not only alive but unalerted.

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Skype update on Xbox One finally allows Snap video chat while gaming – Microsoft has released a new update to its Skype app for the Xbox One, which finally allows it to be used in Snap video chat mode while a person is also playing a game.

Titanfall PC patch removes game modes, pushes paid DLC instead – Titanfall was one of the most anticipated early titles on the Xbox One, but PC gamers were tickled to learn that they too would be able to play this mech shooter on launch day. The PC version has been a little slower with updates since then, but now players have just gotten an update, and many wish they hadn’t. The newest Titanfall PC patch removes both Capture the Flag and Pilot Hunter modes from the game. According to the developer, this is actually an improvement.

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Preview: Civilization: Beyond Earth is a sim with a slight alien twist – Following Firaxis’ surprise announcement of Civilization: Beyond Earth just last month, and ahead of a wider unveiling at E3 next month, select members of the press were recently able to get an early look at a pre-alpha build of the game. While it was hard to get a feel for the game’s deeper structure in the short early demo (which only included 50 in-game turns), we were still able to get a general idea of the game’s interstellar twist on some extremely familiar Civ gameplay.

Jurassic World plot details leak – A new Jurassic World leak has surfaced, this one with sources dropping details about the movie’s plot — or, perhaps better stated, the nature of the movie’s plot. Nothing huge is given away, but those purists among us who like to watch their movies with as fresh of eyes as possible, be warned: spoilers ahead.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The Most Mind-Blowing GoPro Videos in 1 Minute – GoPro rose to fame with its small, waterproof mountable video cameras that offer thrill-seekers and every day video aficionados the opportunity to take high quality, spectacular footage from unexpected angles. From a video of a guy hugging a lion to a Hello Kitty puppet launched into space, here’s some of the best adrenaline-pounding, viral GoPro footage you haven’t seen yet.

Get Ready for the Hologram Revolution – I don’t typically watch music awards shows, but on Sunday night I tuned into the Billboard Music Awards to catch a performance from Michael Jackson. You know, the music legend and kinda creepy guy who died five years ago? Well, he’s back…in hologram form! If that sound scary enough, the scarier news was how eerily flawless the whole thing was, at least from a technology standpoint.

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Survey says: Comcast, Time Warner Cable customers are still the angriest – The two cable companies, which are attempting to merge, ranked second-to-last and last in the Internet service market as well as the subscription TV and fixed-line telephone service markets, the ACSI found. Comcast and TWC also fared poorly last year but cemented their places at the bottom in 2014 by dropping significantly in customer satisfaction.

World’s tiniest motor can fit inside a cell and spin as fast as a jet engine – At under one micrometer in size — 500 times smaller than a grain of salt — the motor is small enough to fit inside a human cell. It is also capable of running for 15 continuous hours, at a speed of 18,000 RPM — the same speed, the researchers said, as the motor in a jet engine. Comparatively, most nanomotors usually run at speeds between 14 and 500 RPM.

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Butterflies, bees love to drink crocodile tears (with video) – This behaviour has been observed in a number of species, from butterflies to bees. The basic necessity of it has to do with water retention; salt is vitally important to control of hydration, and these insects take advantage of any source they can find. Particularly, egg production requires a fair amount of salt, as well as the protein content of tears. That means a swarm of butterflies might temporarily blind a poor turtle, or even a deadly crocodile, in their frenzy to lap up the salty excretions.

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AT&T hacker wants government to pay him $13M – Andrew ‘weev’ Auernheimer, whose struggles with federal prosecutors have fueled calls for reforming the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), wants the government to pay him $13 million for taking away his freedom for the past three years. In an impassioned open letter to the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and others, Auernheimer claimed he had been unfairly hounded and incarcerated over charges that he illegally accessed data belonging to about 120,000 iPad 3G customers of AT&T.

Baffle yourself with the best optical illusions of the year – The winners of the Best Illusion of the Year contest have been crowned, so go ahead and enjoy the confusion.

Something to think about:

“True humor is fun – it does not put down, kid, or mock. It makes people feel wonderful, not separate, different, and cut off. True humor has beneath it the understanding that we are all in this together.”

–    Hugh Prather

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 7 Free – Slow down, freeze, crash and security threats are over. Advanced SystemCare Free is a comprehensive PC care utility that takes an one-click approach to help protect, repair and optimize your computer. Advanced SystemCare is a very useful system tweak application.

Features:

Brand new user interface for easier and smoother use.

AutoClean is available in FREE edition now for intelligent privacy protection and system cleaning.

New Surfing Protection technology supports real-time database update and parent control for safer surfing for both parents and kids.

New Homepage Protection function protects homepage and search engine against malicious modification.

New Program Deactivator tool for retrieving more available system resource by disabling running programs.

New Skip-UAC function for faster and easier loading of the program.

Fully upgraded Cloned Files Scanner supports removing duplicates in just one-click.

Expanded Malware Removal database for better protection against latest malware threats.

Enhanced Registry Fix and Vulnerability Fix for faster scanning speed and stable performance.

Enhanced Shortcut Fixer provides faster scanning speed and richer functions.

Improved Junk Files Clean fully supports the cleaning of Windows 8 Metro (Modern) Apps.

Improved Disk Explorer supports removing useless downloaded files by scanning download directories.

Improved Turbo Boost gives you more stable performance and advanced custom configuration.

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Lansweeper – Lansweeper is an automated network discovery and asset management tool which scans all your computers and devices and displays them in an easy accessible web interface. There is no need to install any agents on the computers, all scanning is done by standard build-in functionality.

Software inventory

With Lansweeper it’s easy to track and audit all your installed software, you can create powerful software inventory reports to find out which application is installed on which computer. Google unknown software and publishers right from the web interface and find out who is running software that’s not up to date.

Hardware inventory

Lansweeper cannot only detect all hardware devices in your computers but with it’s change tracking it can find out when a device was changed or removed. Not only does Lansweeper scans windows devices, it also gathers details about all other IP enabled devices on your network from the network discovery scan. (Linux, Printers, Routers, …)

License compliance

If you want to keep all software and operating systems licenses up to date it can be a time consuming work. With Lansweeper computer inventory it doesn’t need to be…

The webinterface will tell you how many software versions are installed and how much licenses you are missing.

Compliance reporting

Every company needs policies to get a smooth running network. Compliance reporting and the dashboard can help you to make all kinds of asset management reports. Who doesn’t have the latest version of our virus scanner, Who is missing the latest patch for our ERP solution. The only limit is your imagination…

Active directory integration

Lansweeper gathers all active directory user and computer details for your scanned machines. Create reports based on OU, integrate user pictures, Clean up your Active directory…

Eventlog integration

Every windows computer logs errors into the Eventlog. Thanks to Lansweeper you can now consolidate all these errors and get an alert e-mail as soon as an important error occurs.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

China counters US claims with own charges of cyber-espionage: China said the U.S. accusations were based on “fabricated facts” – China’s state-controlled media released Tuesday a report that claims the U.S. hacked into Chinese systems using phishing attacks.

During the last two months, U.S.-based servers took control of about 1.2 million Chinese computers, resulting in the stealing of trade secrets and fraud, the report said.

The release of the report comes after the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday accused five Chinese military officers of stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies. It marks the first time the U.S. has tried to criminally charge state-sponsored hackers.

The activities of a China-U.S. Working group, set up to ease tensions between the two countries following allegations of cyberattacks, have also been suspended by the Chinese.

China has slammed the U.S. for indicting the five Chinese military officers and warned that the “fabricated” charges could jeopardize relations between the two nations.

“The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded with ulterior motives,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in a statement posted online.

U.S. officials have said the country won’t tolerate the alleged sabotage of its companies. But China has been quick to deny the claims, and is portraying the U.S. as a hypocrite that engages in cyber-espionage in China.

China bans Windows 8 from being used on government PCs – Just a few weeks after the government of China announced it would continue to use Windows XP on its PCs even after Microsoft stopped supporting the OS, it has now announced a flat out ban of the more recent Windows 8 operating system from being installed on its computers.

Reuters reports that China’s Central Government Procurement Center posted word of the Windows 8 ban last week on its website. Oddly, the notice was part of a message on how the government could use energy saving products. However, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, later said the ban was to help ensure computer security.

The government has offered no further details on their decision. There’s no word if this move has anything to do with the U.S. government bringing charges against the Chinese military for cyber espionage.

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6 Comments

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

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 21, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: The U.S., China and Internet Glass Houses

    I laughed when I read about this earlier today. Unbelieveable, atrocious hyprocrisy by the US. All it really amounts to is a flogging with a warm lettuce for China.

    I think by nature just about all governments are full of shit. After watching what ours is doing, lying and cheating their way into power, and doing the exact opposite of what they said beforehand, honestly, how can anyone take them seriously (not just on internet surveillance but ANYTHING).

    That’s my rant for today.

    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      “Flogging with a warm lettuce for China” lol!! Thanks for that one – made my day. 🙂

      For a moment, while reading your comment, I though you were speaking about Canada. Your remarks could easily describe the criminal government currently in power here.

      What your mental midgets, and my mental midgets, seem to forget is – the worm turns. In time, I foresee criminal charges being laid, in abundance, against the soon to be defeated fascist pricks who have tried to destroy “Canadianism”. Hopefully, we’ll see a similar set of circumstances take hold in Oz. We need to make this happen.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. nikhilpatil125

    Reblogged this on NIXPLORE.

  3. Neither country seems to have a clue that they are both equally guilty?
    Sounds to me like Dr Jekyll accusing Mr Hyde of having a personality disorder….