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.

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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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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 29, 2014

  1. info@alandonson.com

    Dear Bill..im extreemly proud of your relentless defense of freedoms,privacy,dignity—Dont ever stop.