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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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One response to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 22, 2014

  1. Good topics Biosurveillance ..! Can you explore it more..?