Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2014

The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks; Surprise!  NSA’s first ever ‘transparency’ ‘report’ is anything but;  What to look for in your new PC;  Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls Supreme Court Cellphone-Warrant Case “Seminal”;  Take control of the Command Prompt with PromptPal;  Microsoft puts an end to ‘Patch Tuesday’ email alerts;  How to reinstall Windows like a pro;  Serious Android crypto key theft vulnerability affects 86% of devices;  Comcast XFINITY WiFi: Just say no;  CNBC Chats Tim Cook’s Sexuality, Gets Super Awkward;  You’ll want to avoid this Steam Sale malware scam;  PlayStation Plus free games rundown hits July;  Facebook manipulated 700,000 user posts for research paper;  VCs Don’t Think We’re In A Tech Bubble — Yet;  Immunet FREE Antivirus.

Surprise! NSA’s first ever ‘transparency’ ‘report’ is anything but: Spies do spying … and dictionary rewriting, too – The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has published the NSA’s first “transparency report”, revealing the number of “targets” spied on by the agency. Its definition of the word transparency, however, makes the data somewhat hard to fathom. “Within the Intelligence Community, the term ‘target’ has multiple meanings,” the report [PDF], published today, notes.

Airship flies above NSA data center, decries “Illegal Spying Below” – Greenpeace flew its 135-foot-long thermal airship over the National Security Agency’s Utah data center on Friday morning, featuring a new slogan, “Illegal Spying Below,” painted on a downward pointing arrow. The stunt was meant to highlight the diversity of groups pushing against the widespread government surveillance that was revealed last year. The environmental group Greenpeace was joined by the Tenth Amendment Center, which pushes for states’ rights, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).


The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks – You’ve finally made the leap to Windows 8 (or, more probably, Windows 8.1), and a pretty big leap it was. Everything looks different. Everything acts differently. Even a simple task like shutting down your PC suddenly becomes a challenge. We know. We’ve lived through Windows 8, too, and we’ve received many, many questions about it. Here are the 10 most common ones we hear about Microsoft’s latest operating system. With these answers under your belt, you can consider yourself well past the beginner stage.

What to look for in your new PC – Time to buy a new PC? If it is, you’re in luck. There’s never been a time with more great choices, whether you’re looking for a computer to run the most demanding applications, play the coolest games, or fly coast to coast without a recharge. But picking the right PC can be a daunting task — and that’s why we’re here to help.

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Diagnose battery drain on your tablet with Windows 8.1’s Sleep Study tool – In a detailed blog post on the Windows blog, Microsoft, has provided information about a new tool called Sleep Study useful for diagnosing battery drain when the tablet is put to sleep.

8 ways the password is dying – From smartphones that know you’re near to tattoos and even pills, high-tech companies are busy replacing pesky strings of text with easier ways to authenticate.  Check out the future here.

Take control of the Command Prompt with PromptPal – When it comes to working from a Command Prompt, Greg Shultz says that PromptPal gives you a lot more control and convenience. Take a look at some of his favorite features in PromptPal.


Mobile Trounces Desktop Media Consumption – Mobile usage is leaving the desktop in the dust, according to new stats from comScore. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 60 percent of total digital media time spent in May—up from 50 percent a year ago. What’s more, mobile app usage has surpassed all other digital media consumption, coming in at a peak 51 percent.

A Brief History of Tiny Cameras Enabling Pervs and Creeps – Technology is a tool. And as with all tools, some people will use it for nefarious, gross, weird, or mean purposes. And so goes the spread of ubiquitous, affordable cameras. Now, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that there is not some coming wave of peeping drones headed our way. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a very real minority undercurrent of creeps who will use technology to serve The Dark Side. Here we present a brief—a very brief—survey of some recent ways that these new technologies have empowered the wrong people.

GE Reveals $15 ‘Link’ Smart LED Light Bulb – Smart home? How about smart light bulbs? GE has revealed a brand-new LED light bulb that can connect to the Web shortly after you’ve twisted it into an available socket. Dubbed the Link, the $15 light bulb will be controllable by a companion appn for iOS and Android — “Wink.”

Microsoft puts an end to ‘Patch Tuesday’ email alerts – While Microsoft does update its various blogs about the patches, one service they did offer was to send out an email alerting those who signed up about the patches. Unfortunately, thanks to a change in government regulation, that practice will be halted on July 1st. Below, you can find a copy of the email that Microsoft began sending out today that let readers know that the emails would be coming to a stop next week.

New MakerBot app lets you design, modify, and print 3D objects from your iPad – The MakerBot PrintShop app might not technically be the first 3D printing app for the iPad, but it’s one specifically designed to make it simple to use with the MakerBot line.


How to reinstall Windows like a pro – It’s super-easy to reinstall Windows 8, and not much more difficult to reinstall Windows 7. Use these tips to get the most out of a reinstall.

Woman photoshopped to ‘ideal’ beauty of 25 countries – Radio journalist Esther Honig conducted an experiment using Photoshop and international graphic artists to explore cultural differences in concepts of beauty. It all started with a photograph of Honig, a straightforward self-portrait. She isn’t made up. She wasn’t attended to by an army of stylists. It’s just an honest image. Honig then hired 40 different graphic artists in 25 countries to rework the image with the simple instruction, “make me beautiful.” She used freelancing platforms like Fiverr to locate the digital artists and paid between $5 and $30 for each image. She calls the project “Before & After.”


California governor signs bill legalizing Bitcoin, other digital currencies – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Saturday that legalizes the use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, reversing what backers called an outdated prohibition against use of alternative currencies. The bill, dubbed AB 129, ensures that various forms of alternative currencies such as digital currencies, coupons, and points are legal for use to purchase goods and services in the state. The new law repeals a provision in existing state law that prohibits anything but US currency being used for commerce.

How one tweet can land your company in court – Take a cue from the Katherine Heigl, Duane Reade lawsuit and make sure your social media team knows its legal boundaries. Duane Reade might have sent the most expensive tweet in Twitter history. The New York City drug store chain is being sued by actress Katherine Heigl after they posted a picture in March of her coming out of their store, saying “Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping #NYC’s favorite drugstore ……… The tweet seems fairly innocent — a light hearted mix of celebrity and self promotion — but Heigl is suing Duane Reade for not so light hearted sum of $6 million.


Serious Android crypto key theft vulnerability affects 86% of devices – Researchers have warned of a vulnerability present on an estimated 86 percent of Android phones that may allow attackers to obtain highly sensitive credentials, including cryptographic keys for some banking services and virtual private networks, and PINs or patterns used to unlock vulnerable devices.

Comcast XFINITY WiFi: Just say no – About a year ago, Comcast started modifying the routers of some of their customers to create a quasi-public wireless system called XFINITY WiFi intended for use, mainly, by Comcast customers. Home users would see a new Wi-Fi network called “xfinitywifi” alongside their existing private wireless network. Focused on Defensive Computing as I am, XFINITY WiFi seems like a bad idea for Comcast customers, both those offering the free Wi-Fi on their routers and those using the system away from home. If you read this entire article to the end (warning: it’s long), I am sure you will agree.


Rare text message worm targets Android devices – A rare Android worm that propagates itself to other users via links in text messages has been discovered by security researchers. Once installed on a device, the malware, which was dubbed Selfmite, sends a text messages to 20 contacts from the device owner’s address book. Most malware programs for Android are Trojan apps with no self-propagation mechanisms that get distributed from non-official app stores. Android SMS worms are rare, but Selfmite is the second such threat discovered in the past two months, suggesting that their number might grow in the future.

Company News:

CNBC Chats Tim Cook’s Sexuality, Gets Super Awkward – Is Tim Cook gay? Here’s our stance: Who cares? So long as the CEO keeps churning out interesting and innovative Apple products, he can be whatever he wants to be; in fact, he could be whatever he wants to be regardless (we just like shiny new devices). That doesn’t stop the usual media speculation over Tim Cook’s sexuality, which is as interesting a story as debating whether Jony Ive is getting his hair cut this weekend or not. It’s a non-issue turned into an issue, and it made for the world’s biggest awkward turtle when it as discussed on CNBC this past Friday morning.

Aereo Shutters Its TV Streaming Service… For Now – In an email sent at 9 AM Eastern Saturday, Chet Kanojia informed customers that because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this week , the company would temporarily halt its operations at 11:30 Eastern as it consults with the court to plan its next steps.

BlackBerry: We’re still “a leader in mobile”, despite what everyone else says – BlackBerry has accused its rivals of spreading “fear, uncertainty and doubt” about the company, and says the media have “crowded the airwaves” with “sensationalized reports” about its performance.

Microsoft smartwatch tipped for October with 11 sensors in tow – Microsoft’s rumored smartwatch is the topic of choice this weekend, with unnamed sources cropping up to state that the wearable will arrive this October. The same sources corroborated some past rumors we’ve heard regarding the device, as well as tossing some new details into the mix.

Indie Music Labels File EU Complaint Over YouTube Terms – A European independent music group has filed a formal complaint with the EU against YouTube, citing the video service’s ongoing battle with the indie label community. IMPALA (the Independent Music Companies Association) this week lodged its complaint, which cites what it considers to be five breaches of European competition rules, with the European Commission.

The Nexus line isn’t being killed, says Android’s engineering head – Google’s Nexus line is not dead yet, according to Google’s Android engineering chief. “People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make,” Google’s Dave Burke told ReadWrite in a recent interview.

Games and Entertainment:

You’ll want to avoid this Steam Sale malware scam – Hackers have decided to take advantage of the massive interested generated by Valve’s Steam Summer Sale this season with some digital phishing. While you’re still free to enjoy the Steam sale for all its worth, there’s a couple of things we’d have you watch out for. You don’t want to get targeted by this particular scam, that’s for certain.


Xbox Live July Games with Gold: ‘Guacamelee!’, ‘BattleBlock Theater’, and more – Xbox One users will only get one new game in July: ‘Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition’ is available starting on July 1st, and it will replace last month’s offering of ‘Halo: Spartan Assault’. ‘Guacamelee!’ is an action platformer where you play as a “humble agave farmer” turned luchador from Mexico who tries to save the president’s daughter after she is kidnapped by a marauding skeleton horseman. Since only one new game is being offered for Xbox One users, last month’s free game, ‘Max: The Curse of Brotherhood’, is still available for free download until the end of July.


PlayStation Plus free games rundown hits July – This week the folks at Sony have revealed the games you’ll be able to download and play for free on your various PlayStation devices. For the PlayStation 4 you’ll have TowerFall Ascention and Strider. For PlayStation 3 there’s Dead Space 2 and Vessel. For PS Vita you’ll find Doki-Doki Universe and Muramasa Rebirth.


GameStop launches trade-in program, paying for your Xbox One Kinect – GameStop has recently announced a trade-in deal for users who wish to drop their Xbox One Kinect for some extra money. The company is offering a $32 pay-out in cash or $40 in-store credit and is reportedly available in all U.S stores. It’s also worth noting that if you’re a PowerUp Rewards Pro member you’ll receive an extra 10 percent credit if you take up the offer.

Gigabyte BRIX Gaming mini PC: as mean as it is green – Gigabyte has rolled out yet another mini computer, this one with a snazzy bright green shell and focus on gamers. The PC, aptly called the BRIX Gaming PC, is square in shape and comes with multiple Intel hardware options, able to meet different needs. The newest BRIX offers an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, which Gigabyte says allows it to be used for both gaming and image/video editing. Later on in August, a version running an Intel Core i7 will also be available. The machine supports up to three displays and 4K.


Watch this Space Hulk: Deathwing UE4 trailer crush puny graphics – The surprisingly little-known series known as Space Hulk is back with a vengeance, this time taking on the world with Unreal Engine 4. Everything we’ve seen with the UE4 stamp of approval on its back thus far has looked fantastic, and Space Hulk: Deathwing is no exception to the rule.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch This Film About Why Aaron Swartz Matters More Than Ever – Aaron Swartz was a young, bright genius who believed in the open Internet. A self-made millionaire by the age of 19, he co-founded Reddit, was part of the creation of RSS and became a political organizer and Internet hacktivist who was instrumental in the fight against SOPA. The Internet’s Own Boy, a film first released at Sundance and now opening to the public today, follows the story of his life and his tragic suicide in 2013 at the age of 26. Swartz had been in a two-year legal battle for using MIT’s network to systematically download 4.8 million academic journal articles from JSTOR. He was facing $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. As Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow put it, Swartz was being prosecuted for “taking too many books out of the library.”


Facebook manipulated 700,000 user posts for research paper – Facebook conducted a secret study of 700,000 users back in 2012 according to a research paper released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) journal. The study took place during the 11th-18th of January 2012 and involved “Secretly manipulated” news feeds. According to the research paper Facebook engineers adjusted the emotional content of the 700,000 users’ posts to see if “Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”


The results of the research basically showed that when Facebook reduced users positive expressions, users posted far fewer positive posts and increased their negativity, while the opposite was true when negative posts were adjusted.

VCs Don’t Think We’re In A Tech Bubble — Yet – At the PreMoney 2014 conference in San Francisco this morning, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Scott Kupor argued that there doesn’t seem to be a bubble in tech. In a presentation that lasted a bit over 10 minutes, Kupor laid out a series of trends that indicate things aren’t quite as exuberant as some fear.

Stanley Cup hockey mob destroys what they think is an LAPD drone – Los Angeles residents were pretty stoked when the Kings beat the Rangers to win the 2014 Stanley Cup. Heck, even the mayor went on TV to raise a pint and swear in celebration. Out in the streets, it was a mob scene… and things went south in a hurry for one unlucky quadcopter. Some members of the Staples Center crowd apparently thought the eye in the sky belonged to the LAPD, and you know how mobs get when they smell a police presence.


Fleshlight builds an iPad you can bang – Fleshlights rose to popularity for their supposed ease of use and attempt at simulating a human. However, if you wanted to video chat with your significant other on a mobile device and move onto video sex, it’d be a chore to steady the mobile device and employ the help of a toy. Fleshlight has a solution for this, the Launchpad, which basically turns your iPad into something you can bang.


Watch a Harrier Jump Jet land on a stool – This might not be the kind of impressive aeronautic feat you pulled off when your Cobra pilot was flying round your Rattler years ago, but it’s an undeniably amazing display of skill — and teamwork.


Something to think about:

“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”

–   Aristotle

Today’s Free Downloads:

Immunet FREE Antivirus – Fast Antivirus Protection leverages the speed of cloud computing to deliver real-time protection to your PC. Stay protected against over 13 million viruses and thousands of new threats daily without ever downloading another virus detection file again. Simply stay connected to the Immunet Cloud to keep all virus detections up to date.

Immunet FREE Antivirus is ideal for consumers who want fast protection that doesn’t slow down their PC, including students, families, and netbook users.


Fast Antivirus Protection – Won’t slow down your PC

Community-Based – Protect your closest contacts

Realtime Detection – NO virus updates required

Companion Antivirus – Compatible with existing antivirus (2.0 Companion Products list)

Strength in Numbers – Powered by Collective Immunity™

Intelligent Scans – Fast, configurable smart scans


MP3 Skype Recorder – This software is designed to record Skype calls even ones over landlines. The recordings can be saved at the desired bit-rate and in mono or stereo.


Automatic or manual recording capabilities.

Compact format of stored records (mp3 files).

May be used to record P2P, SkypeOut calls and calls made to Online number.

Capable to track simultaneous calls and to save them separately.

Easy integration with Skype Conference recording.

Intuitive easy to use interface.

Free Ringtone Maker – Free Ringtone Maker is an extremely simple and handy Windows software for making your own free ringtones.

Make Your Own Ringtones in 3 Easy Steps.

Step 1: Pick a Song

To make your own free ringtones, just click button “Choose a Song from My Computer”.

Step 2: Cut Out the Best Part

In this step, you´ll select the best part of the song for your ringtone. Just drag the sliders to set the start and end point of the selection.

You can pre-listen the ringtone using the player buttons. You can also add some fade-in and fade-out effects to your ringtone.

Step 3: Get the Ringtone!

Just click button Save Ringtone to My Computer. Then you can choose a location to save your ringtone file.

When the ringtone file is saved, you can locate it by clicking button Locate in Windows Explorer, or start to create a new ringtone by clicking button Make a New Ringtone.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls Supreme Court Cellphone-Warrant Case “Seminal” – The unanimous Supreme Court decision on Riley v. California caused a stir because it set new precedent regarding digital privacy: To search a cell phone, the court ruled, the government must procure a warrant. The decision will set the tone for future legal action regarding technology, data, user privacy, and Fourth Amendment protections.

I’d like to highlight some commentary on the decision from a perhaps unlikely source, Microsoft.

Microsoft, in the past week, has become a leading voice for user privacy and a less active surveillance state. The company’s de facto spokesperson on the matter, its top lawyer Brad Smith, recently gave a lecture in which he called for the end of bulk surveillance, warrant reform, and more transparency in the FISA court. He also called on the Senate to strengthen the somewhat gutted USA FREEDOM Act that recently passed the House.

When Smith speaks, under his official title, he’s speaking for slightly more than himself.

Capping the week with a blog post this weekend, Smith called the Riley decision “seminal.” Continuing, the lawyer wrote that the decision will have “positive implications both for smart devices and the storage of personal information in the cloud.” Correct.

Who gives a F about privacy? New scorecard rates US pols on spying – Civil-rights groups and other campaigners have built a website that tracks US politicians’ voting records on privacy laws.

Members of the bipartisan outfit Stand Against Spying say their scorecard database will publish an overview and tracker of how senators and representatives in Congress vote for or against key issues on privacy and mass surveillance by intelligence agencies.

The scorecard keeps track of votes on key issues such as the USA Freedom Act and the Massie-Lofgren amendment. Congresscritters are then scored on how they voted, and are given a numerical score and corresponding letter grade.

An early tally of the scorecard found that 45 per cent of Congress qualified for an “A” grade – meaning they voted against laws to increase surveillance – while 5 per cent got an “F” and 14 per cent did not show up to enough votes to even qualify for a grade in the study.

Perhaps most interesting about the Stand Against Spying effort is its diverse group of backers. Along with usual suspects such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Sunlight Foundation, the project has won the backing of the conservative FreedomWorks PAC and the US Libertarian Party.

NSA Transparency Report Offers More Questions Than Answers – The Director of National Intelligence on Friday followed through on calls for the government to be more open about its NSA surveillance programs, releasing its first transparency report.

The problem is the transparency report wasn’t all that transparent.

When reading the report, I was immediately struck by the revelation that under the bulk telephony metadata collection program, there were as few as 248 “known or presumed U.S. persons who were the subject of queries of information collected in bulk or who were subject to a business records application.”

Since former government contractor Edward Snowden first leaked documents about the NSA’s programs last year, the bulk telephony metadata program has been the most controversial of the revelations.


Gov Oversight Board Will Weigh In On The Legality Of PRISM – On July 2nd, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) will release a report on the government’s use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to execute surveillance. The NSA’s PRISM program, for example, is legally grounded in Section 702.

The independent oversight group is part of the Executive Branch, and is notable for its sharp rebuke of the government’s program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect the phone call metadata of U.S. citizens. Its January dissertation called the program illegal and likely unconstitutional.

The group promised to review both the 215 and 702 programs, releasing the 215 decision first, followed by its 702 verdict. So, the report is not a surprise. According to the PCLOB’s first report, it received deep access to the NSA, even being able to view classified opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and saw the Section 215 program in action. In short, they got to see the full stack, from legal foundation to technical execution.

Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 is a big threat to individual privacy, say privacy groups – A draft U.S. Senate bill aimed at making it easier for organizations to share cyberthreat information poses serious threats to personal privacy, several rights groups said in a letter to Congress on Thursday.

A discussion draft of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA) was released last week by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The proposed bill would facilitate a vast flow of information to the National Security Agency at a time when the agency faces many questions about its surveillance practices, the groups said in the letter.

The bill ignores many civil liberties protections incorporated into an earlier version, called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, the letter said.

The letter, addressed to Feinstein and committee vice chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), was signed by the Center for Development of Technology (CDT), the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other groups.

Facebook Reveals User Data Spat With NY – Facebook may have lost its bid to quash a New York judge’s bulk search warrant. But it won the battle to unseal court proceedings, allowing the social network to notify those users involved.

Since last summer, the company has been fighting the Manhattan attorney general’s demand for data (photos, private messages, etc.) from the accounts of 381 users—the largest request in Facebook history.

“We have argued that it was unconstitutional from the start,” Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby said in a blog post.

The original case involved more than 130 police officers, firefighters, and other civil servants who allegedly defrauded the Social Security system with fake disability claims.

But, as the New York Times reported, those “disabled” people were spotted in Facebook photos looking perfectly healthy—some even riding watercraft, teaching karate, and deep-sea fishing. The images, which supported other evidence gathered during a three-year investigation, were enough to issue sweeping Facebook search warrants.

According to Sonderby, only 62 of the 381 people whose accounts were the subject of court summons were later charged in the disability fraud case.

Facebook was under a gag order that banned it from discussing the case or notifying those users involved. Until now. Last Friday, the social network filed an appellate brief, after which the government moved to unseal its warrants and court filings.

But Facebook’s fight isn’t over, and the organization intends to continue its push to retrieve data seized and retained by the government.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 27, 2014

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook; Walmart to cut iPhone 5C and 5S prices on Friday;  5 Easy Ways to Hacker-Proof Your Home;  Village Roadshow confirms Netflix is coming to Australia;  Larry Page: Don’t fret over privacy, love Google;  The 10 Coolest Features in Android L;  Titanfall Game Update 4 is live;  German gov to drop Verizon over spying concerns;  Could You Live Without Your Phone?  11 connected cameras for a safer smart home (pictures);  Digital tattoos that can unlock your Moto X are just $1 each;  By Google’s admission, up to five million Android users are plagued by malware;  “Tracy Morgan Is Dead” Fake Video in Circulation;  GoPro’s shares shoot up 32 percent in first day of trading;  Plants vs. Zombies 2 Gets Dark Ages Update on iOS and Android;  What is ex-NSA spyboss selling for $1m a month, asks US congressman;  Researchers can steal an iPad PIN with Google Glass.

German government to drop Verizon over spying concerns – The various Snowden leaks have revealed widespread spying by the United States government, with various tech companies and service providers being compelled to aid in these surveillance practices. It is for this reason the German government has elected to drop Verizon as its ISP of choice.

5 Easy Ways to Hacker-Proof Your Home – Refrigerators hijacked to send malicious emails. TVs tapped to spy on their watchers. Baby monitors remotely rigged to stream a stranger’s voice. These aren’t outtakes from a cheesy sci-fi horror flick. They’re real situations that have happened in homes around the world–made hackable, so to speak, by flawed smart devices. Of the millions of Americans who own at least one connected device, only a small fraction have publicly come forward as victims of malicious home-gadget attacks. But it never hurts to be prepared. Here are five expert tips on how to safeguard your smartest devices.

Larry Page: Don’t fret over privacy, love Google – One often gets the impression that, in Googleworld, technology comes first and people come, well, a little later. There’s the feeling that the company will do something because it can, not because it truly benefits sentient beings. However, Google CEO Larry Page firmly believes that he and his fellow engineers exist to make people’s lives better. In an interview with The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, Page was at pains to remind people how fickle they are. Yes, we whine about privacy, but once we see what technology can do for us, we just don’t care about exposing ourselves. Look at Google Street View, he said, people used to call that intrusive. Now, it’s just useful. (Utter nonsense. Repackaged horseshit spewed by an elite who has lost the connection to his own humanity.)

17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook – The beauty of Windows lies in its flexibility and depth. In fact, Windows is so deep and flexible that many of us never touch its more powerful tools, whether from unawareness or sheer forgetfulness. But beneath Internet Explorer and the Start button hides a universe of tools and tricks that are positively brimming with potential.

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Walmart to cut iPhone 5C and 5S prices on Friday – In a move that could signal the imminent launch of iPhone 6, Walmart is drastically cutting its iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S prices. A Walmart spokesperson told CNET that as of Friday, the iPhone 5C 16GB will cost $29, down from $49, and the iPhone 5S 16GB will cost $99, down from $149. The new prices are available with a two-year contract on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. The updated prices are for in-store purchases only and start on Friday at 9 a.m. “local time.”

More than half of 25 to 34-year olds have a tablet, says new research – Tablets are replacing computers, according to new figures, as we voraciously eat up online video from YouTube to Netflix. Industry analysts IDG polled 23,500 people across 43 countries about their use of mobile devices. The survey focuses on the habits of business executives as well as comparing the behaviour of members of generation X — people roughly in their thirties to fifties — with younger millenials, who largely grew up with the Internet.

Could You Live Without Your Phone? – I am not a luddite. I love technology and all of its trappings. I even accept that we have likely set ourselves up for some kind of artificial intelligence takeover because our dependence on devices is dumbing us down. This Father’s Day, I was tested. I woke up to my one-year-old son dropping my iPhone in the toilet. Was this symbolic? Not sure. But the last nine days without a phone have revealed many things.

Village Roadshow confirms Netflix is coming to Australia – As the company takes up the fight to deter online copyright infringement, Village Roadshow co-CEO Graham Burke has confirmed that Netflix is in negotiations to come to Australia in the near future.

OneDrive or Drive for Work: Choosing the best cloud storage option – Both Microsoft and Google have recently beefed up their storage options. Here’s how to decide which on is right for you.

11 connected cameras for a safer smart home (pictures) – You can’t always keep an eye on things at home, so these 11 smart security cameras promise to do the heavy lifting on your behalf.


Android Wear video demo: Take a look at what LG’s G Watch can do – Google’s new smartwatch OS is all about voice control. Watch as we take the new LG G Watch through its Googly paces.

How to check if your device is Android Wear-compatible – Before you place your order for a shiny new Android Wear watch, check to make sure your Android smartphone or tablet will play nice with your new toy.


Google’s Trick for Chromecast Sharing? Ultrasonic Sounds – A new feature for Google’s Chromecast streaming stick will tap into the world of ultrasonic noises. Google announced at Google I/O on Wednesday that the Chromecast will soon be able to support off-network streaming. In other words, you won’t have to grant everyone access to your Wi-Fi network in order to give them to option to cast content to your Chromecast-equipped television.

Google starts scrubbing searches under EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ – Across much of Europe, people embarrassed by certain search results can prod Google and other search engines to clean things up.

The 10 Coolest Features in Android L – Google’s big new operating system release, Android L, has a huge volume of new features. Some changed look initially like bigger deals than others, though. Here are 10 that really excited our imaginations.

Download the Android L Developer Preview release now – This afternoon the Android L Developer Preview has been made available to the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 Wi-fi (version 2, released in 2013). This system is meant to be downloaded and used by developers specifically, but anyone can have a peek if they do so desire.

Digital tattoos that can unlock your Moto X are just $1 each – The Digital Tattoo for Moto X comes in a pack of ten adhesive units that can be applied directly to the skin and used to unlock your phone as though you were using NFC. These adhesives are expected to be able to stay on your skin for roughly five days before needing to be replaces, and look like a copper circle that sits on your skin. The tattoos are roughly one inch in diameter, and they are currently available for $10 for the pack of ten.


Video reminds you not to trust everything you see on Facebook – The short film “What’s on your mind?” is a poignant look at the realities of social media, where your friends aren’t really as happy as they seem.



By Google’s admission, up to five million Android users are plagued by malware – Android chief Sundar Pichai said at Google’s I/O conference that “less than half a percent of users ever run into malware issues” – but that still means that up to five million users are affected.

Researchers can steal an iPad PIN with Google Glass or a smartwatch – Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell have developed a technique for surreptitiously stealing iPad PIN codes, and all it takes is a camera. The one built into Google Glass and Samsung’s Gear smartwatches are a perfect fit too. The method relies upon a new video recognition algorithm that can estimate where a person is tapping on a touchscreen even if the screen itself is not completely visible.

“Tracy Morgan Is Dead” Fake Video in Circulation – Not long after a viral hoax proclaimed actor Tracy Morgan’s death, scammers have decided to jump on the bandwagon and try to spread fake videos on Facebook claiming the same thing. As with all of these fake video scams, you’re supposed to share the clip then see the video – in this case, you’re redirected to various offers / downloads depending on region.


Websites Tracking Children’s User Activity May Violate COPPA – In an analysis of 40 websites popular among children, researchers found the majority of them aggressively tracked user activity, which may violate federal privacy law. The law in question is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires Website operators and mobile app developers targeting children under 13 years of age to obtain explicit parental consent before they can collect personal information from minors.

Company News:

Alibaba to be listed on New York Stock Exchange – Alibaba has amended its S-1 filing and has selected the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO, and will list under the stock symbol BABA.

Crysis developer Crytek hasn’t paid staff for months – There are thousands of game development studios out there, but only a few handfuls that I would pick out as unlikely to shut up shop. One of those developers is Crytek, due to its track record of producing incredibly popular games including Far Cry and the Crysis series. But Crytek is apparently struggling, to the point where it isn’t paying staff.

GoPro’s shares shoot up 32 percent in first day of trading – Going up against the camera world’s heavyweights, the portable camera startup makes a smashing debut on the stock market.


A GoPro camera can mount onto helmets, handlebars, surfboards, and more.

Apple cuts iPod touch prices, updates 16GB model – Apple has announced price cuts across its iPod touch range, with prices now starting from $199 for the 16GB model – which now also includes a rear camera – rising to $299 for the 64GB version.

Games and Entertainment:

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Gets Dark Ages Update on iOS and Android – The zombies are going medieval, literally. EA has just rolled out a huge Dark Ages update to Plants vs. Zombies 2 that adds a whole new world and more zombies to slay. As with all the other additions, this one comes free of charge with EA hoping that you’ll plunk down some cash on in-app purchases.


Titanfall Game Update 4 is live: download now for Xbox One and PC – This afternoon Titanfall is nabbing an update for both its Xbox One and PC iterations, this update bringing about some major changes for all players. This is not a DLC pack that costs cash – instead it’s one of many free updates that’ll be coming to Titanfall players around the world through the lifespan of the game.


Ubisoft may already be cutting graphical effects from ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’ – An unnamed developer working on “Tom Clancy’s The Division” in the graphics technical division at Ubisoft, had recently revealed to What If Gaming that they’re unhappy with how the final product is beginning to look, after showing off high quality demos of the game at events. Similarly, it was unearthed by a PC modder that Ubisoft had taken away many of the graphical effects used in the “Watch Dogs” E3 2012 unveiling video, which lead to the lackluster visuals on consoles and PC. Knowing how they’ve done this in the past, Ubisoft could be at it again.


Tappy Chicken: an open mobile game showcasing Unreal Engine 4 – Epic Games has created what turns out to be the first Unreal Engine 4 game released for Android and iOS: Tappy Chicken, a Flappy Bird knock-off. The game is open for anyone interested in the platform to mess around with, with the related code being available on the Unreal Engine website.

Nintendo Paints a Colorful Wii U Future With Splatoon – Nintendo revealed many upcoming titles during its E3 live steam, but none broke from the company’s formula as much as Splatoon, a bright, fast-paced, and creative take on the shooter genre. Splatoon is a four-versus-four, team-based Wii U shooter that focuses on capturing territory rather than simply gunning down your opponents.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Hotel Tonight’s upcoming feature will use smartphone as room key – Hotels have been slowly shifting to accommodate our mobile world — CitizenM is a prime example — and with the Hotel Tonight app, Android users are poised to gain two exceptionally handy features: the ability to skip in-person check-ins, and to use one’s smartphone as a room key, avoiding those pesky magnetized cards altogether.

Killer drone report downplays “PlayStation mentality” of pilots – The US killer drone program is not creating a “PlayStation mentality” about war, a report from former Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials said Thursday. The report comes three days after the disclosure of a secret Obama administration memo outlining the legal justification for the government’s drone-targeted killing program, a lethal strategy that authorizes the killing of innocents as collateral damage.

Meet the Brothers Behind the Web’s Most Controversial Social Network – is one of the Internet’s biggest social networks. It also happens to be one of the least understood. Since its founding in 2010, the site has grown to 120 million registered users around the world, with 15 million in the United States alone. But it is best known for unflattering attention. Its critics call it an incubator for cyberbullying and even suicide.

E-joints: The toke of the future? – The E-Njoint was made to look like a joint, and even has a cannabis leaf on the end that lights up when you take a puff, but the only things you’ll be puffing are the “safer” propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and, shudder, “100 percent biological flavor.” That said, the e-joint is refillable, and you can fill it with hash oil or weed of your own if you’d like a more potent smoke. While we’re sure you aren’t too excited about fruity fake e-joints, perhaps this product will inspire others to create even more e-joints in the not-too-distant future. Because ganja, like nicotine, is ready to get vaped.


Something to think about:

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”

–    Rabbinical Saying

Today’s Free Downloads:

HomeBank – HomeBank is an easy way to analyse your personal finances in detail using powerful filtering tools and graphs. If you are looking for a completely free and easy way to manage your personal accounting then HomeBank should be the software of choice.


Import & Export data

Import from many formats: Easily import your accounts from Quicken or Microsoft Money, and many other financial management programs. Supported file formats includes QIF, OFX, QFX, and CSV.

Duplicate detection: HomeBank will detect and identify the duplicate transactions and will enables you to choose what to do.

Export: Easily export your accounts to QIF format, and various datas parts to CSV format.

Analysis tools

Dynamic reports: Various reports will deliver the information you need at your fingertips using dynamic powerfull reports with nice 2d charts.

Quick & easy: Easily adjust the report parameters with some presets, or get more fine results with filtering by every transaction fields.

Various reports: Repartition or time reports, you will find one to analyse what your are lookig for. Also track the budget, or check the balance for any overdrawn, even knows your vehicle costs and fuel consumption.


Month / Annual budget: Set a budget to each categories with same amount or different amount per month.

View non-budget: Force the view of some categories into the budget report as well.

Import/Export: Import/export the budget into CSV files.

Beautiful charts: The charts available are bars, lines and pie. The design was inspired from google analytics and you can change the x-factor dynamically and also the color scheme.


Scheduled transactions: Easily turn any transaction into a repeating event (like those darn utility bills!).

Category split: Split the amount of a transaction into several categories.

Internal transfer: Easily transfer money between accounts which can be automated.

Quick seizure: Quickly transform any transaction to a template that simplify the seizure of common transactions, or inherit from an existaing transaction.

Multiple field edition: You can easily change every values for several transaction at once.

Small icons: Enjoy the icons for payment mode and transaction status, plus the additional paymode field.

Tag field: Tag your transactions for another analysis axis.

Remind this: Put any transaction in a remind state to keep an eye on debt you have or people have to you

Categories & Payees

Automatic assignment: Define some rules and HomeBank will assign payees and/or categories for you.

Direct add: Add new categories and payees directly from the transaction register.

Auto-completion: Never get lost if you have thousand of payees or categories, HomeBank will find it with the first letters.



AutoAdministrator – AutoAdministrator lets you query or update a variety of Windows settings and services across any number of servers and/or workstations, without the need to create a script or perform the actions manually.


Blender – Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase.

Blender is cross-platform and runs equally well on Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Its interface uses OpenGL to provide a consistent experience. To confirm specific compatibility, the list of supported platforms indicates those regularly tested by the development team.

As a community-driven project under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the public is empowered to make small and large changes to the code base, which leads to new features, responsive bug fixes, and better usability. Blender has no price tag, but you can invest, participate, and help to advance a powerful collaborative tool: Blender is your own 3D software.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

What is ex-NSA spyboss selling for $1m a month, asks US congressman: Former snoop Gen Alexander’s security consultancy under the microscope – Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) is pushing for a formal investigation into the activities of General Keith Alexander now that the former head of the NSA has started his own very expensive security consultancy. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Gen Alexander.

Last week it was reported that Alexander, who retired from his role at the NSA and US Cyber Command in March, has set up a business called IronNet Cybersecurity Inc and was pitching for business with financial institutions. He was advertising his services costing $1m a month, although he later offered a discount that would bring his fee down to $600,000.

“Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony,” wrote Grayson in letters to the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Consumer Bankers Association, and the Financial Services Roundtable.

“I question how Mr. Alexander can provide the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods. Without the classified information he acquired in his former position he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”

Facebook Search Warrant Disclosure Reveals Scope of Government Requests – Facebook announced Thursday it’s been pushing back against a bulk set of search warrants requesting private data from its user accounts since last summer.

In a blog post, the social media network announced a court in New York requested personal data for 381 users, including photos and private messages. The company argued the request was unconstitutional, but the courts prevailed and the information was turned over.

This information is just coming to light now as Facebook filed an appellate brief Friday in an attempt to force the government to return the data it had seized and retained. Facebook says the government responded by moving to unseal the warrants and all court proceedings, allowing the company to notify the users their information had been taken.

Only 62 of the 381 people who were subjected to the searches later had charges brought against them in a disability fraud case. The government still has the data from more than 300 affected users who were never charged.

More on Hacking Team’s Government Spying Software – Hacking Team is an Italian malware company that sells exploit tools to governments. Both Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab have published detailed reports on its capabilities against Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry smart phones.

They allow, for example, for covert collection of emails, text messages, call history and address books, and they can be used to log keystrokes and obtain search history data. They can take screenshots, record audio from the phones to monitor calls or ambient conversations, hijack the phone’s camera to snap pictures or piggyback on the phone’s GPS system to monitor the user’s location. The Android version can also enable the phone’s Wi-Fi function to siphon data from the phone wirelessly instead of using the cell network to transmit it. The latter would incur data charges and raise the phone owner’s suspicion.

Once on a system, the iPhone module uses advance techniques to avoid draining the phone’s battery, turning on the phone’s microphone, for example, only under certain conditions.

“They can just turn on the mic and record everything going on around the victim, but the battery life is limited, and the victim can notice something is wrong with the iPhone, so they use special triggers,” says Costin Raiu, head of Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis team.

One of those triggers might be when the victim’s phone connects to a specific WiFi network, such as a work network, signaling the owner is in an important environment. “I can’t remember having seen such advanced techniques in other mobile malware,” he says.

Hacking Team’s mobile tools also have a “crisis” module that kicks in when they sense the presence of certain detection activities occurring on a device, such as packet sniffing, and then pause the spyware’s activity to avoid detection. There is also a “wipe” function to erase the tool from infected systems.

Hacking Team claims to sell its tools only to ethical governments, but Citizen Lab has found evidence of their use in Saudi Arabia. It can’t be certain the Saudi government is a customer, but there’s good circumstantial evidence. In general, circumstantial evidence is all we have. Citizen Lab has found Hacking Team servers in many countries, but it’s a perfectly reasonable strategy for Country A to locate its servers in Country B.

Germany Nixing Verizon Contract Highlights Economic Impact Of US Spying – The German government announced it was pulling its contract with Verizon due to fears the Internet provider was allowing U.S. agencies to spy on the government’s communications, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The news highlights the negative impact controversial government surveillance programs have on American businesses abroad.

Reports of the U.S. spying on German citizens sparked backlash in Europe last year in the wake of leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden about the scope of NSA surveillance programs. News that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was targeted by the programs strained relations between the two nations.

“There are indications that Verizon is legally required to provide certain things to the NSA, and that’s one of the reasons the cooperation with Verizon won’t continue,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate told the Associated Press.

The announcement demonstrates the controversial surveillance practices are bad for American businesses. In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, tech companies from Verizon to Facebook have had to defend their companies practices to angry customers in the U.S. and abroad concerned they are sharing personal data with the U.S. government. Companies from Microsoft to Apple have called on the government to make reforms.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 26, 2014

Supreme Court to Police on Cell Phone Searches: Get a Warrant;  Watch the web get hacked in real time on this mesmerizing map;  What to do if your email gets hacked (and how to prevent it);  16 free and amazingly fun games you can play in your browser;  Google I/O condensed: The 33 most important things to know;  How to take photos of fireworks;  I don’t use anti-virus software. Am I nuts?  Seven common Android problems and how to fix them (pictures);  ¿Que pasa? Google Now adds true multi-language support;  Five apps for managing your Gmail Contacts; Hackonomics: Cybercrime’s cost to business; Phishy Steam Guard File Steals SSFN;  Montana data breach exposes 1.3 million personal records.

Supreme Court to Police on Cell Phone Searches: Get a Warrant – The Supreme Court has spoken: Police must get a warrant before they can search the contents of your cell phone. There is no ambiguity and no hedging in the unanimous, 38-page opinion which the Supreme Court handed down Wednesday. There’s no benchmarking test for when a warrant would not be necessary. It doesn’t matter if it is a smartphone or a feature phone. If the cops want to know what is on the phone, they need to talk to a judge. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

What to do if your email gets hacked (and how to prevent it) – If you’re ever unlucky enough to be caught in this pickle, follow this guide. The hope is that if you follow every step, you’ll never have to send another “Sorry everyone, my account was hacked” email again. Here’s how to deal with a hacked email account and make sure it never happens again.

Five apps for managing your Gmail Contacts – Finding third-party contact managers for Google Contacts isn’t easy. But between Android and web-based apps/services, I have come up with a solid list of five contact managers that work with Google Contacts to bring a bit of power and flexibility to a rather weak entry.

Google I/O condensed: The 33 most important things to know – The big G kicked off its annual Google I/O developers’ conference with a massive two-and-a-half-hour keynote — and this one was positively jam-packed with huge news. JR Raphael explains.

VIDEO: Here’s What’s Next for Google (in Two Minutes) – Wherein we smoosh Google’s 2014 developer conference keynote from 2.5+ hours down to just under two minutes.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Seven common Android problems and how to fix them (pictures) – Let’s face it, our phones aren’t perfect. When they aren’t running out of juice, they are slow, won’t power on, or have problems connecting to the Internet. These are some quick fixes for some of the most common problems Android owners face.

Supreme Court Sides With Broadcasters, Effectively Killing Aereo – In a blow to Aereo, the Supreme Court today voted 6 to 3 that the service violates the Copyright Act, effectively killing the two-year-old service. Aereo manufactures small HDTV antennas, receives broadcast channels, and then stores the programming they capture on servers. From there, people access the service on the Internet to view the content, without having to buy or install any equipment.

Aereo Alternatives: Tips From a Cord Cutter – The Supreme Court struck down Aereo, one of a potential cord cutter’s major tools, today. Aereo streams local broadcast TV over the Internet; combined with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and the like, it made for a tasty mix of programming for people who didn’t want to spend $100 per month for channels they don’t want. But as I explained two years ago when I said “Aereo isn’t a cord-cutter’s dream,” it’s not the only similar solution out there, and you’ll still have to cobble together your programming from several different sources. Here’s how.

How to take photos of fireworks – Taking photos of fireworks is not as difficult as you might think. Rather than pointing your smartphone or dSLR toward the sky and hoping for the best, keep these tips in mind before setting off to watch the holiday light show.


Google launches Android TV — and here’s what it looks like – Google changed the channel on Google TV, switching over to Android TV on Wednesday morning. Essetially, Google is treating the television as simply a larger display, with some tweaks; there will be one software development kit for all sizes, executives said. “Smart TVs are generally limited, and not competitive with their mobile cousins,” said Dave Burke, the engineering manager for Android who introduced Android TV on stage at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. “We wanted to change that.” Users will be able to stream content from their smartphones and tablets to their TVs using the system, which will also integrate with Google’s Chromecast device.


Facebook’s Slingshot App Goes Global – Facebook’s new ephemeral messaging service Slingshot has been catapulted to users across the globe. “Since we launched last week, we’ve heard from lots of people around the world who are excited to give Slingshot a try,” the team wrote in a blog post. So, starting today, the app is available in international marketplaces, for iOS 7 and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above.

Squirt lets you read the web at over a 1,000 words per minute – Squirt takes the form of a bookmarklet, which can be dragged to the address bar of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, and clicked when you have a page open you’d like to speed read. If you visit the Squirt website there’s a quick demonstration of how it works and yes, you really can read at 450+ words per minute while still understanding the text. It’s surprising when you’re actually doing it, and I recommend everyone give it a go.

Google’s Redesigned Drive Focuses On Speed, Office Compatibility And Security – Google today gave its Drive online storage service a major redesign today and with it, it is also bringing a number of new features to its Docs, Sheets and Slides productivity apps on mobile and the desktop. Maybe most importantly, Google has now built Quickoffice‘s technology, which the company acquired almost exactly two years ago, right into its productivity apps. This means you can now open and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in their native format thanks to the new Office Compatibility Mode.

Google gives Glass some extra shine with hardware and software upgrades – Google has announced improvements to its Glass wearable device, offering better performance thanks to a big increase in RAM, along with greater battery life and a handful of software enhancements.

Google Will Soon Bring Android Apps To Chrome OS – This wasn’t a huge surprise because we’ve heard quite a few rumors about this in the past, but Google today announced that Android apps are coming to Chrome OS. They will essentially run in an Android emulator on the Chrome OS desktop and will be available in the launcher.

¿Que pasa? Google Now adds true multi-language support – Google’s personal assistant can understand you as you switch from your native tongue to a second or even third language, a milestone more difficult than you might think.


I don’t use anti-virus software. Am I nuts? – Maybe I’m courting disaster, but my cheapskate approach to security has paid off so far. Here’s my secret.

Montana data breach exposes 1.3 million personal records – Up to 1.3 million records, including health care and bank account information, may have been exposed after a server at Montana’s public health department was hacked in May, the state said Tuesday. The server held information such as names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers for services citizens had applied for or received. For some people, the information may have included data on health assessments, diagnoses, treatment, health condition, prescriptions and insurance, the state said.

Watch the web get hacked in real time on this mesmerizing map – A mesmerizing example of data visualization by computer security firm Norse lets you see penetration attempts in real time, via a DEFCON-esque map that feels like it was ripped right from the old WarGames movie. Witnessing the constant ping-ping-ping of individual penetration attempts is hypnotic. If you watch long enough, the map will explode in a frenzy of color, as coordinated mass-hack attacks blast across the globe—most often out of China, and often pointed toward the U.S. The U.S. itself is the steady number two on the map’s “Attack Origins” list, however.


Hackonomics: Cybercrime’s cost to business – How much does getting hacked actually cost a business? Looking closely at the cyber black market’s cost factors is worrying, but offers insight into keeping crime’s cost low.

Luuuk Trojan snatches €500,000 from European bank in one week – In only seven days, over half a million euros were stolen from a European bank’s customers courtesy of a new banking Trojan campaign.

Phishy Steam Guard File Steals SSFN – A few months ago, we looked at how phishers had come up with a way to get around Steam Guard protection on Steam gaming accounts: asking users to dig out the relevant Steam Guard SSFN file from their folders, then have them upload it manually to a fake login page. Armed with this file and the username / password, these bad guys could bypass the protection and immediately make use of the plundered account. Now it seems phishers have tried to automate the process a bit – and just in time for the Summer Steam sale too.

Cupid Media “breached Privacy act” after storing users’ passwords in plain text – The Australian Privacy Commissioner has ruled that Cupid Media Pty Ltd – of OKCupid dating site fame – breached the Privacy Act following a data breach which saw over 40 million customer records exposed.

Company News:

Nook maker Barnes & Noble to split into two companies – The announcement comes after the company last year said it had abandoned plans to split up, having weighed the idea of separating its retail and Nook operations for 18 months. However, in February, Chief Executive Michael P. Huseby said the company was again studying breaking up parts of the business.

Google Eyes Emerging Markets With Android One – Google today opened its I/O developer conference with Android One, an effort that will help bring its mobile OS to emerging markets like India. Google will provide partners with hardware reference designs and stock Android software, allowing for automatic updates. Using Google Play, users and carriers can then add locally relevant apps to the devices.

Aereo Faced With Few Options After Supreme Court Loss – Aereo, the company known for not having a plan B, now has to find one after its loss at the Supreme Court this morning. But none of its options are looking very good. One of its top investors, Barry Diller, told NBC News this morning, “We did try, but it’s over now.”

Google Acquires Mobile Testing Platform Appurify, Will Keep It Open On iOS And Android – Google just announced at I/O that it has acquired Appurify, a startup that lets developers automate testing and optimization of their mobile apps and websites. Appurify will stay open as freemium cross-platform service but get a big boost in distribution as it becomes integrated into the Google developer tool stack.

Games and Entertainment:

16 free and amazingly fun games you can play in your browser – Browser games ain’t what they used to be. Once the realm of simplistic diversions with butt-ugly graphics, today’s browser games are redefining what’s possible on the web, with rich visuals and even richer gameplay. Heck, you can even play a full-blown first-person shooter in your browser right now. And don’t forget about the slew of fun little time-wasters available everywhere you look on the web, or the online remakes of long-ago gems like Frogger. So what to play? These 16 browser games are a blast, and even better, they’re completely free—though some may try to tempt you with the odd microtransaction.


Starting Monday, some Sony TV owners will be able to play PS3 games without a console – Sony will soon widen the availability of its PlayStation Now game streaming service to more than just consoles. Starting Monday, Sony plans to open PlayStation Now to owners of select 2014 Sony TV models under a program called the Private Pilot Service. Sony hasn’t said specifically which select TV models the new pilot program will include, but it will cover some 1080p Bravia sets and 4K Ultra HD TVs.

Google Play Games plays catchup with cloud saves, quests, gamer profiles – Saving games to the cloud and online gamerscores are now staples of most modern gaming platforms. Now you can add Google to that list, too. Google Play Games is the fastest-growing games platform of all time, according to Powers, with 100 million new users joining the platform in the past six months. Since last year’s Google I/O, Google has paid out more than $5 billion to developers on Google Play, said Sundar Pichai, who runs Google’s Android business. That’s about 2.5 times the growth from the year before, he said.

Leading ladies: Amazing indie games made by women – If you want to find the most cutting-edge, artistic and conceptually interesting games, indie is where it’s at — and it has a growing pool of talented women.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Stop webcam child sex tourism! – Lemz Amsterdam and Terre Des Hommes, an international children’s aid organization, won the Grand Prix for Good for the Sweetie campaign. Sweetie is a computer generated 10-year-old girl designed to track down and catch online predators. The campaign worked to raise awareness about webcam child sex tourism.




African firm is selling pepper-spray bullet firing drones – The maker of a drone that fires pepper spray bullets says it has received its first order for the machine. South Africa-based Desert Wolf told the BBC it had secured the sale of 25 units to a mining company after showing off the tech at a trade show. It is marketing the device as a “riot control copter” that can tackle crowds “without endangering the lives of security staff”.


The Skunk drone can fire pepper spray, dye marker and solid plastic bullets.

Is Mobile Device Management on the verge of death? – Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions are a popular way for IT organizations to secure the smart phones and tablets that their employees bring to work and want to use to access business applications and data. However the traditional MDM solution may not survive given the growing concern over user privacy as well as the coarse grained and sometimes inadequate controls they have over the device. At the same time, mobile device operating systems are evolving to provide much better security to enable better privacy controls for the user and to ensure that data stored on the device is properly protected.

Time-lapse panoramas show the heavens like never before – Photographer Vincent Brady has put together a video featuring some of his best “Planetary Panoramas.” These are photos taken simultaneously by four cameras pointing with four overlapping views of the sky. More than just presenting 360 photos, however, Brady then goes on to manipulate the composite images in interesting ways. Sometimes we get the expected 360-view-looking-upwards, but not always…


Yahoo’s Mayer ‘apologized’ for being late to advertiser dinner – CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly overslept and arrived two hours late for the event. Her late appearance apparently upset attendees, including the CEO of one of the world’s four largest ad firms.

Verizon’s brilliant ad to get more women into tech – Featuring one incredible, painful statistic, Verizon shows how the things girls hear when they’re young puts them off a career in tech.


Something to think about:

“Anyone who uses the phrase ‘easy as taking candy from a baby’ has never tried taking candy from a baby.”

–     Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

MediaMonkey – Manage a music library consisting of small to very large collections (50,000+) of audio files and playlists, whether they’re located on your hard drive, CDs, or a network. Organize, browse, or search music by Genre, Artist, Year, Rating, etc., and never waste your time trying to find mp3s you know you have. Automatically identify tracks that are missing information, whose tags are not synchronized, or that are duplicated elsewhere.


Organize music and edit tags in your audio library with a powerful, intuitive interface

Automatically lookup and tag Album Art and other metadata

Manage 50,000+ files in your music collection without bogging down

Play MP3s and other audio formats, and never again worry about varying volume

Record CDs into OGG, MP3, and WMA files

Convert MP3s, OGG, and WMA files into other formats with the Audio Converter

Create playlists and music mixes quickly and easily to suit any occasion

Synchronize with iPods and portable MP3 players effortlessly

Plus much more…


Spotify – Spotify is a new way to listen to music. Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly. With Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you could listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.

All the music, all the time – Think of Spotify as your new music collection. Your library. Only this time your collection is vast: over 13 million tracks and counting. You can create as many playlists as you like from this collection – just drag and drop the tracks you want.

And because the music plays live, there’s no need to wait for downloads and no big dent in your hard drive. You can listen at any time, no matter where you are. Through your computer or your mobile phone.

Music to share – Thanks to Spotify, it’s now easier than ever to share music. You’re free to share everything you listen to on Spotify with your friends – tracks, playlists, the lot.

Just send them a link to a track or playlist and they can listen instantly. If you like, you can also collaborate on shared playlists. Social music made simple.

Thank you for the music – Having instant access to all this music is a wonderful thing, but what about the artists and musicians who make it?


LaunchBox – LaunchBox was originally built as an attractive frontend to DOSBox, but has since expanded to support both modern PC games and emulated console platforms. DOSBox will continue to be a main focus for LaunchBox, as will emulation and PC gaming. LaunchBox aims to be the one-stop shop for gaming on your computer, for both modern and historical games.

Get Up and Running Right Away – LaunchBox includes automated import processes for Steam and D-Fend Reloaded in order to help get you up and running as quickly as possible. Game box-art and metadata is automatically downloaded from, a community-based online database that allows anyone to contribute. More import processes are planned for the near future, including Origin, DBGL, and batch ROM imports.

Organize Your Collection – LaunchBox supports arranging and filtering by genre, platform, ESRB rating, developer, and publisher, and even has custom status and source fields to use to classify your games however you choose. LaunchBox’s interface is incredibly easy to use and powerful all at the same time.

Immerse Yourself – Not only does LaunchBox automatically download box art for your games, it also grabs beautiful fanart, screenshots, logos, and more, creating a surprisingly immersive experience. Fanart and other images can be used as LaunchBox’s background as you browse your games, which really helps to create an attractive, fun experience.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US Promises EU Citizens Stronger Data Privacy Rights – The Obama administration has committed to pass legislation granting European Union citizens some of the same privacy rights as Americans in U.S. courts, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

The U.S. has completed negotiations on an agreement that will grant EU citizens the right to seek reparation in U.S. courts if personal data their home countries share with the U.S. government for law enforcement purposes is willfully disclosed. Americans already enjoy this right under the Privacy Act.

“In a world of globalized crime and terrorism, we can protect our citizens only if we work together internationally, including through sharing law enforcement information with and by E.U. Member States and other close allies,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a release. “At the same time, we must ensure that we continue our long tradition of protecting privacy in the law enforcement context.”

Pressure for such a measure mounted in the wake of revelations of former government contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s far-reaching data-collection programs.

NSA Denies Any Record Of Snowden Emailing Superiors About Concerns – In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) query, the NSA today informed journalist Jason Leopold that it could not locate email pursuant to his request for “any and all emails written by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in which Mr. Snowden contacted agency officials through email to raise concerns about NSA programs.”

Snowden, the force behind one of the largest leaks of classified material in the history of the United States, has stated in the past that he repeatedly raised concerns internally about NSA activity.

The NSA denies that. An NSA statement from last December is clear: “after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”

Super-snoop bid: UK government hits panic button on EU data retention ruling – Home Secretary Theresa May has claimed “there is no surveillance state” in Britain today as she once again called for a change in law to prevent the internet becoming “an ungoverned, ungovernable space”.

The Snoopers’ Charter champion, speaking to dignitaries at Mansion House in London last night, did not once mention the European Union’s highest court’s recent ruling to rip up the Data Retention Directive – but she did allude to it.

In April, a measure that required ISPs to retain data for two years was deemed “invalid” by the EU’s Court of Justice on the grounds that it interfered not only with data protection rules but also with fundamental rights to respect for private life.

The Tory-led government has expressed concern about losing those powers and is pushing once again for a change in legislation to allow spooks to massively ramp up surveillance online.

May’s previous efforts to bring in a new communications data snooping law were eventually flattened by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The Liberal Democrat leader signalled last year that such a plan wouldn’t happen on his watch.

Supreme Court cellphone ruling a big win for digital privacy – Privacy and civil rights groups lauded Wednesday’s unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that police must obtain a search warrant before searching through the contents of an arrested person’s cellphone.

“We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime,” Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged. But privacy comes at a cost, he added.

Several groups said the ruling was pivotal and had far-reaching implications.

Alan Butler, appellate advocacy counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), one of several groups that filed an amicus brief in the case, said the rulings affirm Fourth Amendment protections in the digital age.

“This is a hugely important decision. The big takeaway here is that the court recognizes that digital data is very different from its physical analogues,” Butler said.

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 25, 2014

How to stream media from your PC to your HDTV over WiFi;  10 things to know about the smartphone kill switch;  Capture Android screencasts with Recordable;  Five questions to answer before paying for a VPN;  Microsoft fixes Exchange Online outage after almost 9 hours; Confirmed: new Android version coming at Google I/O;  European Commission slashes roaming rates by 55%;  Why You Should Be Offended By the Amazon Fire Phone;  120 Sports is the sports network designed for your phone, no TV required;  Easily monitor and secure your computer with GEARS;  How governments devise custom “implants” to bug smartphones;  App clones help spread malware, study reveals;  Cloud Storage Services Compared : Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck;  FAA Bans The Use Of Drones To Deliver Packages;  Half world’s techies are software PIRATES.

EXPOSED: Massive mobile malware network used by cops globally – A probe by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and computer security firm Kaspersky Lab has uncovered a massive network of mobile malware for all phone types that is sold by an Italian firm to police forces around the world. The malware, dubbed Remote Control System (RCS), was produced by a company called Hacking Team. It can subvert Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian and BlackBerry devices. The study found 320 command-and-control (C&C) servers for RCS running in over 40 countries, presumably by law enforcement agencies.

Microsoft: “Bleak future” ahead if government bulk data collection continues – Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith says the government must end “the unfettered collection of bulk data”, adding that law enforcement faces a “bleak future” if reforms are not enacted soon. “By the end of this decade, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things around the world,” he said. “This issue is going to become more important, not less.” He also pointed out the need for authorities to live by the laws that they create, and which they purport to uphold: “I want law enforcement to do its job in an effective way pursuant to the rule of law. If we can’t get to that world, then law enforcement is going to have a bleak future anyway.”

Russian government decides all new PCs will use ARM chips – Intel and AMD have lost out big time this week in the form of around $1.3 billion in new PC and server sales every year. The reason? The Russian government has decided it no longer wants US microchips inside its hardware.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2




How to stream media from your PC to your HDTV over WiFi – Your PC is in one room, and your HDTV is in another. Here’s an easy way to stream videos, music, and photos from the hard drive to the big screen.

10 things to know about the smartphone kill switch – Apple already has one, Microsoft and Google say they’ll build one, Minnesota will demand it from next year and it could soon be the law in California and maybe nationwide. The smartphone kill switch appears to be on its way to every handset sold in the U.S. so what’s all the fuss about? Here’s a look at the main points of the technology.

Makulu Linux 6.0 KDE: Guaranteed to make you smile – Makulu Linux is what it is — a big, beautiful, fun Linux distribution for hobbyists, and none of that requires or even implies that it should be consistent or “pure” to whatever desktop version you happen to be using. As I have said before, if you want to have just about the most fun you can have with a Linux distribution, or if you just want to see a distribution packed with way more goodies than you are likely to find in any other single distribution, then give Makulu a try. I will guarantee that it will make you smile, and it will make you say “Wow, look at that!” a lot of times.


Capture Android screencasts with Recordable – Jack Wallen walks you through the steps of getting quality Android screencasts without having to root your device. There’s never really been an easy way to record screencasts in Android… until now. With the help of an app called Recordable, you can create those screencasts, even without rooting your device.

Five questions to answer before paying for a VPN – Paid VPNs tend to run faster, aren’t ad supported, and don’t have the same bandwidth limits that some free options do. Plus, VPNs are relatively cheaply priced around $5 per month or less—depending on the payment plan you choose. But before you dive in and sign up for a VPN, here are five key questions you should ask your prospective new service provider.

Microsoft fixes Exchange Online outage after almost 9 hours – Microsoft finally fixed an Exchange Online outage that left users without email for almost nine hours Tuesday, prompting many to vent their frustration online.

European Commission slashes roaming rates by 55% – The European Commission has drastically slashed roaming rates in the EU, dropping them by 55-percent effective starting July 1. That’s not the end of the news, however: the Commission has also revealed that it is working on nixing roaming charges altogether.

Coursera app educates you with video lessons for free – The web-based learning environment Coursera has been brought to the mobile platform this month for both iOS and Android. With Coursera, you’ll be able to take advantage of free classes, all set up to improve your life over the course of a few weeks. These classes will educate you in a wide variety of topics – everything from Chemistry to Engineering to “Information, Tech, & Design.”

Confirmed: new Android version coming at Google I/O – We posited yesterday that a new version of Android at I/O was unlikely, considering Google typically likes to announce their new Android stuff in the Fall. In an interview with Business Week, Android chief Sundar Pichai confirmed that he’d be bringing the next Android version to the world. It’s a different strategy, but a smart one.

Yahoo’s Android Home Screen Aviate Hits v2.0 with a New UI and Features – We talked about the Aviate Android home screen back when it entered public beta testing in late 2013, but a lot has happened since then. Yahoo bought the company making Aviate a few months ago, and now Aviate v2.0 is out. Although, it’s called Yahoo Aviate now. The smart “Spaces” are still here, but the UI has gotten a bit of a shakeup.


Microsoft Has Just Launched Its First Android Smartphone, The Nokia X2 – Yes, you read that right: Microsoft has just made a new Android-based handset. It’s also still using the Nokia name at this point, despite previously saying it didn’t plan to trade on that name for long. (Evidently Microsoft’s marketing minions are still working on cooking up that “go forward” smartphone brand.)


Maxthon Releases Windows PC Browser Designed To Make Watching Videos Faster – Browser maker Maxthon has released a browser for Windows PC that is designed for watching videos and includes features like the “AdSkipper,” which lets users fast forward through advertisements without slowing their video downloads. In addition to its ad-skipping feature, Maxthon also claims that its video browser has a more efficient approach to memory management and CPU usage, which means that videos play faster and have fewer stops or lags. Videos can also be pulled out of the browser screen and the whimsical (but potentially useful) “boss key” means that hitting “CTRL +” during playback will overlay a “very boring, work-like-looking spreadsheet”over the video you are watching.

Why You Should Be Offended By the Amazon Fire Phone – Amazon’s true interest lies in you being able to buy anything that you scan. It wants to convert everyone with a Fire phone into an Amazon Prime addict. I have no problem with that, because I’m one of them already. But does Amazon really think people will fork over $200 or $650 for something they can do already with the Amazon app on their existing smartphones?

AMD’s new 5GHz chip runs so hot it ships with watercooling – AMD is resurrecting the FX-9590, which originally launched at the end of June last year, but it shipped with a stock air cooling solution. That meant you were limited as to how much you could push the performance of the chip without investing in more heavy duty cooling. This time around, the new FX-9590 won’t have the same issue as AMD is shipping it with the necessary watercooling kit to get all 8 cores humming.


Panasonic Toughpad is self-heating, works at -20C – There have been moderately rugged tablets and phones in the past, but Panasonic’s new Toughpad puts them to shame. This device is designed from the ground up to be as close to indestructible as a mobile device can get. It can survive drops, water, and even a biting arctic chill that would render most devices inoperable thanks to its built-in heater.


Chromebook Pixel Buyers Get $150 Credit for Lost Data – When Google unveiled its LTE Chromebook Pixel last year, buyers were promised 100MB of free data per month via Verizon for at least two years. Some users, however, saw that free data disappear after just one year, and Google is now offering a $150 credit to irritated consumers.

120 Sports is the sports network designed for your phone, no TV required – A few of the biggest companies in sports are launching a live-streaming network designed for your devices, not your TV. 120 Sports launches its live original programming Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, but you won’t find the network bundled in your cable package. It’s a Web platform and iOS app powered by MLB Advanced Media that counts the MLB, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, Silver Chalice, and Time Inc. as equity investors. That means 120 Sports anchors will be able to offer live looks and in-game highlights for the biggest games on TV, as well as integrate Sports Illustrated content into the app. Collegiate conferences are included thanks to a Campus Insiders partnership.



The 8 scariest digital security stories of 2014 (so far) – Barely halfway through 2014, the year’s already poised to become the scariest yet for digital security—topping even 2013’s massive Target breach. We’ve seen hacks against big-name retailers like eBay, Michael’s, and Neiman Marcus—plus hotels, online forums, and numerous other websites. The current tally of compromised credit cards from major breaches is closing in on 5 million, and online accounts?—half a billion. As we close in on the halfway point for 2014, here are the 10 biggest security stories so far.

Easily monitor and secure your computer with GEARS: Monitor your installed applications and their status, including protection software and unwanted applications – GEARS helps you keep your device secure by showing you the applications installed and their protection status. You’ll see whether your antivirus is enabled and whether the virus definitions are up-to-date, whether you have encryption software protecting your data, and whether your operating system and browsers are up to date to protect you against known vulnerabilities.


How governments devise custom “implants” to bug smartphones – Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto group that monitors government surveillance in the digital age, analyzed the recently discovered instance of the fake Qatif Today app in a blog post headlined Police Story: Hacking Team’s Government Surveillance Malware. The account provides a rare glimpse into malware developed by “Hacking Team,” a highly secretive outfit based in Italy that charges governments top dollar for extremely stealthy spyware that’s often referred to as a “lawful intercept” program.


App clones help spread malware, study reveals – A study from McAfee labs has revealed that numerous clones of popular smartphone applications are helping the spread of malware and have become a major problem for users. It is a no-brainer that users should be careful while installing apps on their mobile devices by verifying the legitimacy of the vendor and checking the permissions granted for the application to function. However, with the rapid expansion of smartphones, some of which already have pre-loaded malware, and their usage by relatively less tech savvy users, hackers have taken advantage by spreading malware through identical apps.

Complex spy software dusts off Glass security concerns – A complex new scheme for stealing passwords via Glass has been floating around, showing how the wearable can be used to detect and store password info. It’s fairly accurate, too, recognizing over 80% of entered codes. Just by watching someone enter their info, a Glass user could potentially have access.

Nearly 80 Percent of Flappy Bird Clones Contained Malware – When the mobile sensation Flappy Bird was pulled from app stores back in February, scores of cheap knockoffs turned up overnight, promising a fix for your high-flying addiction. But it turns out, most of those clones were only out to hurt you. According to a new report from MacAfee, 79 percent of all sampled Flappy Bird clones actually contained malware. The security firm in late March examined 300 Flappy Birds clones, and found that 238 were malicious.

Researchers expect large wave of rootkits targeting 64-bit systems – Rootkits are again on the rise with the number of new samples reaching levels not seen since 2011, a McAfee report said.

Company News:

Google Makes Its Nest At The Center Of The Smart Home – Google is turning the Nest Learning Thermostat into the hub of smart homes. With the “Works with Nest” developer program, announced today, gadgets, cars and universal remotes will all work with the Thermostat, providing automated actions agnostic of the brand. Suddenly the smart home world is much smaller. Nest’s Matt Rogers says the idea behind this system is to build seamless and practical experiences in the home and to sell more Nest gadgets at the same time.

Site24x7 Turns Mobile Devices into Monitoring Locations – Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service from ManageEngine, today announced the launch of the Site24x7 Mobile Network Poller App. Available immediately, this industry-first app turns Android mobile devices into carrier-specific monitoring locations. In turn, Site24x7 users can now track the performance and availability of mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites and other online services from the perspective of the mobile users accessing those services via Verizon, AT&T and other wireless carriers’ 3G and 4G networks as well as WiFi. Site24x7 is demonstrating the new Android app at Velocity 2014 being held June 24–26, 2014, in Santa Clara, California. A silver sponsor of the show, Site24x7 is in booth 720.


Cloud Storage Services Compared : Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck When it Comes to Cloud Storage – When it comes to selecting a cloud storage provider, we understand that there are many options to choose from on the market. In order to make things easier, we decided to compare MediaFire’s storage pricing and plans with our top competitors, including Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Bitcasa, and the Western Digital MyCloud home storage system. As you can see from our findings below, our results are conclusive. Whether you are looking at signing up for a free account, or a paid plan, MediaFire gives you the most storage on the market for the lowest price.


Facebook’s Plan To Take On Twitter’s Stream – Twitter’s real-time stream made it the de facto place to discuss world events. But Facebook’s VP Of Media Partnerships believes his company has two big advantages in the battle to be the digital water cooler: audience size and real identity.

Games and Entertainment:

This Advanced Warfare Exoskeleton trailer changes everything – Sledgehammer games are about to change the way Call of Duty functions in our modern flooded-with-FPS gaming universe. General Manager and Co-Founder of Sledgehammer Games Glen Schofield speaks this week in a demonstration trailer of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, making clear that though this game still has to be believable, it will be a new generation in the franchise.


OUYA One Year Later: 840 Games, 36K Developers, And A New Console In The Works – Since launch, OUYA has continued to grow its user base, thanks to sales and distribution both in-store and online. The startup has expanded the number of locations in which the console is available. At launch, OUYA was sold in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., while today it’s also now available in Western Europe and Brazil.

Shovel Knight’s intro level is the best tutorial we’ve ever seen – Shovel Knight comes out in two days, but I’ve had the benefit of playing it since last week. A lot of the game has impressed me. In the sea of retro side-scrolling platformers that is modern-day gaming, it’s one of the most genuine NES callback titles I’ve ever seen. It’s clearly created with care, love, and loyalty to the technical constraints of the system, but it makes everything work incredibly well.


Watch GTA V as a first-person shooter, looking like Half-Life – If we didn’t know better, we’d guess that this Grand Theft Auto 5 video was created with Valve’s Source engine. Instead, modded XBLToothPik suggests he’s working with a modded Xbox 360 and the original Grand Theft Auto V to create a first-person experience for the game. Not just first-person inside vehicles, first person everywhere, at all times.


Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA Bans The Use Of Drones To Deliver Packages – The FAA made it plain this week that Amazon, or anyone else for that matter, won’t be able to deliver packages using a drone in the near future. In a document soliciting feedback regarding drone policy — a “Notice of Interpretation with Request for Comment ” — the FAA calls “delivering packages to people for a fee” a non-hobby or recreation-based drone activity. As such, the FAA wants to ban it. A recent court case set the FAA back regarding its wish to ban commercial drone usage in the United States. The agency is appealing that ruling.

Drone pilot watches the watchers: “It’s to try to promote transparency,” drone pilot says of his police filming – A California man who has been arrested several times for recording police from the ground has now taken to the airways, using a drone to watch the watchers. “It’s to try to promote transparency,” 42-year-old Daniel Saulmon told a Los Angeles news broadcast. The Southern California man’s footage is posted at Recent recordings show a drunken-driving checkpoint and traffic stops. Titles of his footage include “Torrance Cop is Scared of My Camera,” “Federal Agents Threaten Photographer,” and “DJI Cop Block Drone On KTLA Evening News.”


Half world’s techies are software PIRATES – survey – Almost half of the world’s enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software at work – at least a survey from a software industry association says so. A report (PDF) from The Software Alliance claims that during 2013, 43 per cent of all software in the world was installed without a licence, up from 42 per cent in the previous study. The survey estimated around $62.7bn worth of unlicensed software had been used last year. The US accounted for $9.7bn of this, with an unlicensed rate of 18 per cent, it claimed.

Who is responsible for ‘Game of Thrones’ piracy? – Some critics have blamed Australian pay TV service Foxtel’s “outdated” business model for record breaking downloads of HBO’s wildly popular show, but is the criticism warranted?

ScenePast reels you in with film sites then and now – Want to know what a street corner from the 1958 movie “Vertigo” looks like today? Take a click through this cool app for movie buffs.


Burglar logs into Facebook on victim’s computer, forgets to log out – A man broke into a home in St Paul, Minnesota, logged into Facebook on the victim’s computer, forgot to log out, and left his clothes behind. You’ll get no prizes for guessing what happened next.

Curiosity rover takes Mars selfie on first birthday – While the rover itself has technically been in service for far longer than a year, its Mars visit has now lasted one full Martian cycle. That’s a whole cycle around the sun for Mars, also known as a Martian year. To celebrate, the NASA Mars Curiosity rover stretched one of its arms out to take a lovely selfie.


Something to think about:

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”

–    Thomas Henry Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Sim Aquarium III – Experience the most realistic coral reef you’ll find without having to purchase an actual aquarium. Sim Aquarium lets you choose among twelve intricately detailed 3D underwater scenes. You can populate your aquarium with up to 100 fish from the selection of 30 highly detailed species of fish with complex swimming behaviors and artificial intelligence. Using your mouse pointer, you can play with your fish pets and touch them by their tails or noses. They will stop to inspect or dart away into safety. You can also feed the fish, but unlike the real fish, they wont turn upside down and float up if you don’t feed them regularly.


Twelve detailed 3D underwater scenes.

Live desktop wallpaper mode.

Full interaction with the fish and their environment.

30 highly detailed fish species with complex swimming behaviors and appearance.

Realistic anemone tentacles physics and fluid simulation.

Advanced graphic effects like fish iridescence, raytraced light caustics, complex water surface.


Hola – Install Hola on your PC, phone or tablet to make your Internet faster, save data costs, and view sites that are otherwise censored in your country.

Bypass Internet censorship

Speed up your web browsing

Save on bandwidth costs

Improve your privacy online


System Explorer – System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.


Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Could Keith Alexander’s Advice Possibly Be Worth $600K a Month? – Ex-NSA director Keith Alexander has his own consulting company: IronNet Cybersecurity Inc. His advice does not come cheap:

Alexander offered to provide advice to Sifma for $1 million a month, according to two people briefed on the talks. The asking price later dropped to $600,000, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiation was private.

Alexander declined to comment on the details, except to say that his firm will have contracts “in the near future.”

Kenneth Bentsen, Sifma’s president, said at a Bloomberg Government event yesterday in Washington that “cybersecurity is probably our number one priority” now that most regulatory changes imposed after the 2008 credit crisis have been absorbed.

SIFMA is the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Think of how much actual security they could buy with that $600K a month. Unless he’s giving them classified information.


But don’t worry, everything Alexander knows will only benefit the average American like you and me. There’s no reason to suspect that he is trading his high level of inside knowledge to benefit a bunch of rich people all around the globe. Because patriotism.

Or, as said: “For another million, I’ll show you the back door we put in your router.”

Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls On Congress To End The NSA’s “Unfettered Bulk Collection Of Data” – Earlier this morning, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith made the case against pervasive government surveillance, arguing that reform is needed of this nation’s security apparatus.

At a talk this morning, the general counsel couched his larger remarks in the historical context of general warrants, a key source of anger among the colonies that eventually boiled over and led to armed revolt and the formation of the United States, in his estimation.

Smith called on Congress to “close the door on unfettered bulk collection of data” and argued for reform of the “role and nature and proceedings” of the FISA court and for the geographic limiting of warrants issued by the U.S.

Regarding bulk surveillance, citing an NSA document, Smith intimated that Microsoft was the listed ‘Company F,’ that in 2002 declined to comply with the NSA’s request for “email content” in large quantities.

Smith continued, indicating that Microsoft, in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, “had a hard time reconciling [the many] public reports of government access to large amounts of data, with the relatively small amounts” that the company, and likely others like it, had in fact provided.

The answer, Smith stated, came in a report detailing that the NSA was tapping the data cables of U.S.-based companies abroad. Microsoft had to assume that if Yahoo and Google were targeted — those were the two firms cited — it was likely also a target.


Snowden defends mega spy blab: ‘Public affairs have to be known by the public’ – Master spy blabbermouth Edward Snowden defended his NSA whistleblowing actions to the Council of Europe today.

He told the human rights’ parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, via video link from Moscow, that he had a “personal duty to country, government and family” to reveal details about snooping methods employed by the US and British governments.

“Public affairs have to be known by the public,” Snowden said, in justifying his decision to blow the whistle on the National Security Agency. “When citizens are reduced to the status of subjects, where we’re not active participants … that diminishes us as a free people, as a society and as a culture.”

The one-time NSA sysadmin added that he was “willing to pay the price” for leaking that information even if it did damage national security interests.

“I was aware and I did my best to ensure that balance would be enforced,” he told the CoE. He claimed that no specific damage and in fact occurred as a result of his actions. It “may have caused some good,” he argued.

Snowden explained to the committee during his testimony that he had worked with journalists to help ensure that the information would be responsibly reported.

No-fly list removal process unconstitutional, judge rules – The Department of Homeland Security’s method for the public to challenge placement on a no-fly list is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled [PDF] Tuesday. US District Judge Anna Brown ordered the authorities to revise the process she declared as “wholly ineffective.”

Brown’s ruling stems from a case brought by 13 people on a no-fly list. The judge wrote that the redress process does not provide “a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government’s terrorism databases.”

It was the first time a court declared the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program run by the Department of Homeland Security as unconstitutional.

“Our clients will finally get the due process to which they are entitled under the Constitution. This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardship. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watch list system, which has swept up so many innocent people,” said Hina Shamsi, the national security project director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Australian government to boost spy powers on back of Iraq fears – Attorney-General George Brandis is set to give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) significant new powers in response to claims up to 150 Australians have joined the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Before the last election, the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security reviewed Australia’s telecommunications interception and access legislation in response to law enforcement agencies’ complaints to government that advancements in technology, and the limited record-keeping of customer billing information by telecommunications companies, was making it difficult for them to investigate crime.

The most controversial request was for telecommunications companies to keep call record, IP address information, and other so-called “metadata” for up to two years.

The former Labor government did not act on the recommendations, but the new Coalition government has today indicated it would proceed with one batch of recommendations, bringing on new legislation in the next few weeks.

Brandis said the decision to bring forward the legislation came as Australian intelligence organisations found that up to 150 Australians were believed to have joined ISIL in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and would be prosecuted for being members of a group listed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 25, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 24, 2014

Ignorance is not bliss with cybersecurity;  Seven tips for securing your Facebook account;  12 ways to improve Android battery life;  U.S. NSA granted extension to collect bulk phone data;  Six tried and tested remote access software tools;  How to blanket your home or small office with Wi-Fi;  Study: 7 in 10 concerned about security of Internet-of-Things;  Encrypted Web traffic can reveal highly sensitive information;  How to watch YouTube videos in slow motion;  How to make the most of the Steam Summer Sale;  The 15 Absolute Best Tips for Twitter;  100 Best Places to Work in IT: Ranking and Sorting Tool;  Sat-Fi aims to connect your smartphone anywhere;  Fake Amazon Local Emails Deliver Malware;  Dropbox becomes a vehicle for ransomware; website redirects to Caphaw malware;  Yahoo’s powerful Android launcher is now available for free.

Ignorance is not bliss with cybersecurity – “There’s probably no issue that has become more crucial, more rapidly, but is less understood, than cybersecurity.” That statement was gleaned from an interview Oxford University Press had with P.W. Singer, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, cybersecurity expert, and coauthor of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Singer’s point above will not be refuted by too many. It’s later in the interview where Singer mentioned something that may rub a few the wrong way. Singer said, “There is an alarming cyber-awareness gap.”

12 ways to improve Android battery life – Whether you’re running stock Android on a Nexus or a customized version on a Galaxy S5, here are simple tips and tweaks that will help you to understand your device and how to get more battery life.

Seven tips for securing your Facebook account – Whenever you post something online, be it to Facebook or elsewhere, you should always be sure you know who can see it. Sometimes, it’s not clear who exactly can see what you’ve posted on Facebook. Lance Whitney explains the settings and how to manage who sees what on your Facebook account.

Six tried and tested remote access software tools – Want access to your desktop PC when away from your desk? Fear not, here are a handful of apps to help keep you work like you’re in the office when you’re actually away somewhere else.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to blanket your home or small office with Wi-Fi – When your computer was locked down in one spot, it wasn’t a big deal if your Wi-Fi router couldn’t reach every corner of your home. But you can’t move your TV into the den just to get reception. And you shouldn’t have to limit where you can wander inside—or even outside—your house with your laptop, smartphone, or tablet and still be able to reach the Internet. Those Wi-Fi deadspots have got to go. Lucky for you, we have 10 great tips for blanketing your entire home with Wi-Fi.


Microsoft More Than Doubles OneDrive’s Free Cloud Storage To 15 Gigabytes – Continuing the trend towards free, unlimited cloud storage, Microsoft this morning increased the amount of capacity that it offers free to regular users of its OneDrive service to 15 gigabytes, more than double its previous offering of 7 gigabytes.

Skimo TV will allow you to watch an hour-long TV show in six minutes – Skimo is a unique engine that combs film and video content and extracts the most important parts. It does this by creating highlights, roughly two to three minutes, of long form videos. According to the Skimo TV page, it can take about 20 minutes of video and break it down into a sample video of two to three minutes in length. That means that you can theoretically watch some of your favorite hour-long TV shows in about six minutes.

The 15 Absolute Best Tips for Twitter – You want to be the best at Twitter and avoid being one of those 550 million people with an account who’ve never even sent a tweet? Then slide on through your showcase of tips and tricks that will turn you into a tweet-master.

Sat-Fi aims to connect your smartphone anywhere – Globalstar has created a voice and data device called Sat-Fi, a machine that allows you to connect with cellular and web data no matter where you are on the planet. This device works with any device that’s enabled with Wi-fi and is able to connect 8 devices at once. The team at Globalstar uses an unnamed satellite network to hook you up with data and cellular connectivity wherever you happen to be. Below you’ll see this device connecting users on a construction worksite, on a boat, and out in the wilderness.


Yahoo’s powerful Android launcher is now available for free – This week the folks at ThumbsUp Labs – acquired by Yahoo earlier this year – have delivered their “Aviate Launcher” for Android for free. This app changes the way you work with Android from top to bottom, allowing you to make your Android smartphone into a productivity machine. Aviate shows you “only the apps and information you need, as you need them” throughout your high-functioning day.


Google Glass Goes On Sale Outside The US – Ahead of Google’s I/O developer conference, which kicks off this Wednesday, Mountain View has opened up sales of its augmented reality wearable goggles, Glass, to people outside the US. Specifically Brits with a hankering to stick Mountain View’s voice-controllable heads-up display on their faces can now do so — provided they’re willing to shell out a cool grand (£1,000) for the privilege of becoming a Google-powered human camcorder. Truly there are cheaper ways to weird out your friends.


Microsoft: trade in your Macbook Air, get Surface Pro 3 credit – Microsoft is pining for new converts to its Surface Pro 3, and as incentive it is offering Microsoft Store credit for its new device. The cost? Your Macbook Air, for which those who trade in will get up to $650 towards the newest Surface slate.

Can sharing your open Wi-Fi network with strangers promote privacy and security? – Do you leave your wireless network open or is it secured such as with WPA2? According to the Open Wireless Movement, running an open network is not a security risk. For folks who don’t buy into that, the Open Wireless project will release router firmware to allow you to freely share a portion of your bandwidth while also “providing a high degree of security and privacy for your own communications.”

Disconnect’s new browser plugin translates complex privacy policies into simple icons – The companies’ Privacy Icons software, released Monday for a pay-what-you-want fee, analyzes websites’ privacy policies, breaking them down into nine categories, including location tracking, do-not-track browser request compliance and data retention policies. The software then displays, as a browser add-on, nine color-coded icons, with green, yellow and red icons signifying the level of concern about the website’s privacy policy in each area.


Study: 7 in 10 concerned about security of Internet-of-Things – Fortinet conducted a survey of consumers to find out what people think about the security and privacy concerns of the Internet-of-Things. The survey, titled “Internet of Things: Connected Home,” was produced in partnership with GMI, a division of Lightspeed Research. More than 1,800 consumers between the ages of 20 and 50 who claim to be tech savvy participated in the survey, which was administered in 11 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, China, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom. (We’re all concerned – but, as with all things impacting personal privacy and security, the average user will pass over an opportunity to advocate for change. Expect the usual snarlers and disrupters to come out of the woodwork – once it’s too bloody late to effect  significant change. What in the hell is wrong with us that we won’t stand up and protect our own vital interests?) 

How to watch YouTube videos in slow motion – Want a slower look at an epic sports play, dance move, or the like? An easy-to-miss YouTube setting makes it possible.


Dropbox becomes a vehicle for ransomware – Cloud storage services like Dropbox have made it simple to store and share files with family, friends, and coworkers. Unsurprisingly, unscrupulous individuals have also managed to pervert those features to spread malware, in particular, the kind that holds your files hostage until you pay a sweet fee, as narrated by anti-phishing company PhishMe. website redirects to Caphaw malware, WebSense says –, a popular website with millions of monthly visitors, was redirecting visitors to other domains that delivered the Caphaw malware, according to security vendor WebSense.

Encrypted Web traffic can reveal highly sensitive information – In a paper titled ”I Know Why You Went to the Clinic,” researchers show that by observing encrypted Web traffic and identifying patterns, it is possible to know what pages a person has visited on a website, giving clues to their personal life. The paper will be presented July 16 at the Privacy-Enhancing Technology Forum in Amsterdam. The data is unreadable, but the researchers developed a traffic analysis attack that makes it possible to identify what individual pages in a website a person has browsed with about 80 percent accuracy. Previous research had shown it was possible to do such analysis, but the accuracy rate was 60 percent.

IE users get new protection against potent form of malware attack – Microsoft developers have fortified Internet Explorer with new protections designed to prevent a type of attack commonly used to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. As the name suggests, use-after-free bugs are the result of code errors that reference computer memory objects after they have already been purged, or freed, from the operating system heap. Attackers can exploit them by refilling the improperly freed space with malicious code that logs passwords, makes computers part of a botnet, or carries out other nefarious behavior.

Fake Amazon Local Emails Deliver Malware – Beware of an email in circulation claiming to be from Amazon Local, which mentions invoices for an order you never actually made. If you buy a lot of goods from Amazon there’s always the possibility you might fall for this one in the general deluge of legitimate payment confirmation emails.

Microsoft hopes to improve cybersecurity response time with Interflow – Microsoft has launched a private preview of ‘Interflow’, a security and threat information exchange designed to improve the speed with which security professionals react to threats.

Company News:

Google Gets Into Domain Sales – So, you want to buy a domain name. Who do you go to first? GoDaddy? NameCheap? Whoever happens to have a sale going on right now? How about Google? For the past few years, anyone looking to Google to buy a domain has been met with this support page, which proclaims that “Google itself doesn’t register or host domain names,” before recommending up a few partners who do. That changes today.

CloudPhysics Grabs $15M In Series C Funding And Announces New Virtual Storage Predictive Analytics – CloudPhysics has a vision for the data center: It wants to give sysadmins clarity and insight into possible issues that create bottlenecks in a virtualized environment, offer solutions when they happen, and help prevent issues before they even happen — all as a cloud service.

Foxconn said to be hiring 100,000 workers to begin iPhone 6 production – A recent report claims that Foxconn, known to have relations with Apple, is seeking 100,000 new workers for the production of the iPhone 6. Foxconn is reportedly taking 70% of the entire production. According to a report published by DigiTimes, longtime partner Foxconn is said to be manufacturing both the 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch versions of the rumored addition to the iPhone lineup.


This Is the New Stat Facebook Should Be Worrying About – All those ads that are increasingly crowding into users’ Facebook and Twitter feeds apparently aren’t doing much to affect what people actually buy. According to a newly released Gallup poll, 62% of Americans say social media has no influence on their purchasing decisions. Just 5% of people polled said social media has a great deal of influence on their buying habits. Even tech-savvy Millennials say they are not swayed by social ads—48% of respondents in that cohort said that social media doesn’t influence their purchasing decisions. Facebook dismissed the value of the findings outright. “The only thing this poll shows is that self-reported behavioral data is unreliable,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. (That’s the attitude – shoot from the lip! Don’t believe what users tell you. After all, they’re lying, right? What’s the point of focus groups, then?)

Games and Entertainment:

South Korea debates video game addiction – South Korea is facing what it calls a video game addiction problem, something that has caused incidents, some more tragic than others. Aiming to address it is the Game Addiction Law, the subject of which was at the center of a recent debate called “Video Games: Addiction or Art?”

Star Wars Assault Team free mobile game taps sci-fi obsession – One of the first Star Wars games to be developed with the Disney Video Games team is Star Wars Assault Team – and it’s surprisingly decent. This game is entirely free and made to be a mix between turn-based card collecting and adventure. Here you’ll be able to play on your iPhone or iPad on iOS, Android devices, and devices running either Windows Phone 8 or Windows on your desktop.


Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare PC port is not a port – Are you a PC gamer and not feeling the combative vegetative love or the brain-devouring adrenaline rush? Be gloomy no more and open those petals! Not only will Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare be arriving on this venerable gaming platform tomorrow, barring any last minute delays, EA promises that this game is not simply a PC port, whatever the heck that will entail.


The Best iPad Digital Comic Book Readers – Digital comic book apps let you dive into your favorite books from the comfort of your home—you no longer need to travel to a comic book store to pick up Ms. Marvel, Superman, or other titles (or, worse, get there only to see that your favorite comic is sold out). All you need is a tablet and a solid comics app. The five iPad digital comic book apps in this roundup include the industry powerhouse, as well as lesser-known, but quality offerings.

How to make the most of the Steam Summer Sale – Steam’s massive annual summer sale is upon us (in the UK and Australia as well as the US) with hundreds of bargains on great games both triple-A and indie, new and old. So how do you make sense of all the chaos? It’s no easy task, but I’ve got a few tips on how to make the most of your hard-earned cash.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Net Neutrality Shouldn’t Be Up To The FCC, Republicans Say – House Republicans on Friday challenged the existing framework for how net neutrality rules are set and enforced. At a hearing held by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust law, the Republican members said the Federal Trade Commission, not the Federal Communications Commission, should have authority when it comes to net neutrality.

Airport security gets handheld with Z Backscatter gun – There’s a new gun out there this week going by the name MINI Z, ready to bring Z Backscatter technology to a street near you. Using the same technology as you’ll find in the full-scanning Z Backscatter machines at the airport, the MINI Z brings full penetration viewing to cops on the go.


100 Best Places to Work in IT: Ranking and Sorting Tool – View the rankings of best places to work and use our sorting tool to find the employers that best suit your needs. Sort the Best Places to Work by key criteria, such as training days, and add filters by region and/or organization size. Note that the more filters you add, the fewer organizations will be listed.

China wins a slowing supercomputer race – Tianhe-2, run by China’s National University of Defense Technology, clocked 33.86 Pflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) for the 43rd edition of the TOP500, released Monday at the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany. The runner-up in this twice-yearly ranking came in at only half the speed: The U.S. Energy Department’s Titan, a Cray XK7 machine at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, tested out at 17.59 Pflop/s.

How to clean up a broken CFL bulb – If a fluorescent light comes crashing down onto your kitchen floor, releasing the mercury trapped within, you don’t need to panic. Just follow these steps to safely get things cleaned up.

Something to think about:

“The old ways are dead. And you need people around you who concur. That means hanging out more with the creative people, the freaks, the real visionaries, than you’re already doing. Thinking more about what their needs are, and responding accordingly. Avoid the dullards; avoid the folk who play it safe. They can’t help you any more. Their stability model no longer offers that much stability. They are extinct, they are extinction.”

–     Hugh Macleod

Today’s Free Downloads:

IrfanView – IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003 , 2008, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.

It is designed to be simple for beginners and powerful for professionals.

IrfanView seeks to create unique, new and interesting features, unlike some other graphic viewers, whose whole “creativity” is based on feature cloning, stealing of ideas and whole dialogs from ACDSee and/or IrfanView! (for example: XnView has been stealing/cloning features and whole dialogs from IrfanView, for 10+ years).

Some IrfanView features:

Many supported file formats (click here the list of formats)

Multi language support

Thumbnail/preview option

Paint option – to draw lines, circles, arrows, straighten image etc.

Toolbar skins option

Slideshow (save slideshow as EXE/SCR or burn it to CD)

Show EXIF/IPTC/Comment text in Slideshow/Fullscreen etc.

Support for Adobe Photoshop Filters

Fast directory view (moving through directory)

Batch conversion (with advanced image processing)

Multipage TIF editing

File search

Email option

Multimedia player

Print option

Support for embedded color profiles in JPG/TIF

Change color depth

Scan (batch scan) support


Add overlay text/image (watermark)

IPTC editing

Effects (Sharpen, Blur, Adobe 8BF, Filter Factory, Filters Unlimited, etc.)

Screen Capturing

Extract icons from EXE/DLL/ICLs

Lossless JPG rotation

Shell Extension PlugIn

Unicode support

Many hotkeys

Many command line options

Many PlugIns

Only one EXE-File, no DLLs, no Shareware messages like “I Agree” or “Evaluation expired”

No registry changes without user action/permission!


Second Life – Second Life is a 3D world where everyone you see is a real person and every place you visit is built by people just like you.

Travel with friends to thousands of beautiful and exciting places — all created by the Second Life community.

Millions of people have already joined Second Life. Chat for free using voice or text with folks from around the world who share your passions and interests.

Dress up and design a new 3D you. There are thousands of designer items to explore in our Marketplace where the selection is as endless as your imagination.

Every day there are thousands of new experiences and events created by the Second Life community. Visit the Destination Guide to get a peek at some of the action.

Discover your artistic talents and share them instantly with friends. Take beautiful snapshots, create machinima videos or build something from scratch inside Second Life.


Listen N Write – Listen N Write can be used to play and transcribe ordinary audio and video recordings (WAV, MP3, OGG, WMA, AVI, MPG, WMV, OGV, FLV, VOB, TS, etc).

Listen N Write has special features simplifying the transcription work as you can control via keys (while using its integrated word processor) and insert time markers (bookmarks).

Moreover, the audio stream is automatically rewound a few seconds when pressing the Pause key.

Listen N Write can be considered the standard program for any transcription because of its simplicity of use and small size.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Missouri May Amend Its Constitution To Require Warrant For Digital Searches – A proposed state constitutional amendment could grant residents of Missouri stronger digital privacy protections. The amendment passed the state’s legislature, and will be voted on by the general electorate in August.

The amendment to Missouri’s constitution would delete a current section of the document, and replace it with a new section that has amended wording. Here’s the new text:

Section 15. That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes, effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be, nor without probably cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.

Here’s what the ballot will say in August:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

I have a sneaking suspicion that that will prove popular. If I am reading Missouri law correctly, only a simple majority needs to vote in favor of the amendment for it to pass.

ProtonMail Is A Swiss Secure Mail Provider That Won’t Give You Up To The NSA – I asked one of the creators, co-founder Andy Yen, why we should trust them. He said we didn’t have to.

“One of our goals is actually to build a system that does not require trusting us,” he said. “We’ve taken the first step with our zero access architecture which means we cannot actually read any of our users’ encrypted messages. When the code base becomes more mature, we also plan to open source the ProtonMail software.”

The service works by encrypting all the messages in the user’s web browser before it even reaches the ProtonMail servers. This means ProtonMail doesn’t hold the password and can never decrypt user messages. It’s this unique proposition — that there is no way to get everyone’s email if the server is compromised — that seems to have struck a chord with backers.

The team has covered all its bases. For example, they chose Switzerland, because, according to the Swiss Federal Act on the Surveillance of Postal and Telecommunications Traffic (SPTT), the company cannot be compelled to expose their system to any government authority. “This means that under Swiss law, ProtonMail CANNOT be compelled to backdoor our secure email system. Furthermore, any attempt to extend the SPTT will inevitably fail because the Swiss public is strongly opposed to any extension and an extension could be subject to a public referendum.”

Seizing data for 2.5 years amounts to “general warrant,” court says – A federal appeals court has reversed an accountant’s tax-evasion conviction because the government seized his computer data and held it for more than 2.5 years—a breach of the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the government’s tactics against the Connecticut accountant amounted to an “unreasonable seizure.” The authorities seized the accountant’s records while investigating alleged illegal activity of his clients. But they continued holding the data for years and later brought charges against the accountant, who was not the target of the original investigation.

“If the government could seize and retain non-responsive electronic records indefinitely, so it could search them whenever it later developed probable cause, every warrant to search for particular electronic data would become, in essence, a general warrant,” Judge Denny Chin wrote for the appeals court.

At least one digital rights group said the decision may affect the National Security Agency’s vast electronic snooping programs disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I would certainly argue that it calls into question the whole collect-it-all-and-sniff-through-it-later practice,” Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Courthouse News Service.

Looks like someone’s profiting from Snowden – European defense firms – Representatives of Thales, the European defense technology giant, announced last week at the Eurosatory defense exposition that the company won a contract from the French government to supply 900,000 users of an inter-ministry network with secure Internet and intranet connections, plus related IT support and cybersecurity services. Cybersecurity is now a $670 million business for the company, and while Thales may have had an inside track for the French contract, American firms are increasingly getting the cold shoulder in Europe. Defense News reports that many European firms are seeing increased business largely because of one man—Edward Snowden.

Snowden “has had an impact on the business,” Thales Space and Information Systems Security Manager Cyril Autant told Defense News. “Customers saw a danger in US systems, although in general they also say that data security had a high value.”

The impact has already been felt in the cloud industry, where, as European Defence Agency Cyber Project Officer Wolfgang Rohrig told Defense News, “people walked away from US products. Now European governments are re-assessing their dependence on US firms’ networking and cyber security products and are starting to cut back as they grow their overall spending.”

“Civilian casualties” authorized under secret US drone-strike memo – A secret Obama administration memo disclosed Monday outlines the legal justification for the government’s drone-targeted killing program, a lethal strategy that authorizes the killing of innocents as collateral damage.

The memo (PDF), released by a US federal appeals court under a Freedom of Information Act request, describes the government’s legal underpinnings for its so-called overseas targeted-killing program where drones from afar shoot missiles at buildings, cars, and people. It began under the George W. Bush administration but was broadened under Obama and now includes the killing of Americans.

The Obama administration fought for years to keep the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memo from becoming public. The document says that lethal force is authorized under international war rules and the US war on terror. Rights groups, however, decried the 41-page document, saying that it amounted to a legal blueprint for other nations to follow.

“While today the US, the UK, and Israel are the only countries known to have used killer drones, experts say that within 10 years virtually every country on earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles. The United States loosening and redefining international rules governing the use of force and war is ultimately not going to make anyone any safer,” Pardiss Kebriaei, a senior attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement.

U.S. NSA granted extension to collect bulk phone data – The U.S. National Security Agency has been allowed to continue to collect phone records in bulk of people in the country, while lawmakers consider new legislation that would block the agency from collecting the data.

The government’s application for reauthorization of the program for a period of 90 days was approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), according to a joint statement Friday by the Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The government argued that it was seeking the extension as the relevant legislation has not been enacted yet.

The bulk collection of phone metadata in the U.S. by the NSA was first disclosed in June last year by former agency contractor, Edward Snowden, through news outlets.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 23, 2014

Walmart, Virgin Mobile Team Up for $20 Phone Plans;  30-Second Tech Trick: How to Save a Wet Phone;  The best alternatives to Google’s stock Android apps;  The EFF wants to improve your privacy by making your Wi-Fi public;  Launch Window: Upcoming Tech Product Releases;  25 great Linux games available dirt cheap during Steam’s Summer Sale;  Amazon Flow: Try Firefly on your existing phone (sort of);  10 Shocking Games That Ignited Controversy;  The best video game trailers of all time;  Seven common Android problems and how to fix them (pictures);  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  German publishers want an 11 percent cut of Google News;  Illinois university offering sports scholarships… for League of Legends players.

Walmart, Virgin Mobile Team Up for $20 Phone Plans – Budget-conscious consumers can pick up a Kyocera Kona or Samsung Montage at Walmart with service from Virgin Mobile for just $20 a month, the Sprint-owned prepaid wireless carrier announced on Friday. There’s two different “payLo” plans to choose from, one of which emphasizes texting and the other talking.

The best alternatives to Google’s stock Android apps – Your Android phone came with so many apps preinstalled, but not all of them are crapware foisted upon you by carriers and OEMs. Once you dig through all that junk (and disable it), you get the the core of the experience with apps like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, Chrome, and more. They all work pretty well these days, but have you ever considered for a moment that they might not be the best option? Shocking, I know! Let’s check out the best alternatives to stock Android apps.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Now On Sale in the U.S., Canada – Heads up, if you’re in the market for a new tablet. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, billed as “the tablet that can replace your laptop,” is now on sale in the U.S. and Canada. Starting at $799, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 is available through Microsoft stores,, and retailers like Best Buy, Staples, and Tiger Direct.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

GM’s new app lets you scan license plates and text the drivers – The folks at GM’s China R&D division have been hard at work thinking up new ways to connect drivers, and the by-product is a prototype app called DiDi Plate for Android smartphones. With the app, drivers can snap a picture of someone’s license plate, which is then used with an identification database to send that driver unsolicited text messages. DiDi Plate is centric to the Chinese market, fortunately, and would likely never get off the ground in the US, where privacy issues would cause a quick uproar

Amazon Flow: Try Firefly on your existing phone (sort of) – Hands-down, one of the most impressive features we saw during a demo of Amazon’s soon-to-launch Fire Phone was Firefly, Amazon’s answer to real-time discovery. Better yet, you can access some of it right now, on your own phone, without even having to wait for the Fire Phone to launch.Firefly is an extension of an older Amazon app for iOS and Android—Flow Powered by Amazon—and it’s available in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store right now.


Simple mouse and keyboard tricks for efficient file management – Yes, they’re a pain to learn, and many of us are used to sticking with a mouse. Nevertheless, being familiar with even a handful of shortcuts will help you get around your system faster—plus it has the added benefit of making you feel like a power user.

This Company Will Help Job Seekers Erase Unseemly Facebook Photos – By the time this year’s college graduates grab their diplomas, they’ll likely have heard countless warnings about what not to post on social media. But in case they never listened — and are only just starting to grasp what four years of keg stands and Solo cups might do to their employment prospects — Social Sweepster wants to help. The service goes through Facebook and Twitter accounts to find photos and posts that might make hiring managers think twice, the New York Times reports.

Kingston and PNY found changing SSD components – ExtremeTech reports that Kingston and PNY are changing the components in their SSDs once the initial reviews are in. And not necessarily for the better.

Launch Window: Upcoming Tech Product Releases – Wondering what’s coming in the weeks ahead? You could consult your favorite fortune teller, but she won’t tell you what’s really important: the latest gadget releases! Whatever it is—a game, a phone, a tablet, or a mysterious new product—if we’ve got the scoop on when it’s going to make a public debut, we’ll share it here. Bookmark this page so you’ll know when you can get your hands on the latest products. Maybe you’ll even discover something here you didn’t know you absolutely had to have.

Mozilla is working on a Firefox OS powered Google Chromecast killer – Mozilla could be working on a Firefox OS powered, Google Chromecast rivaling media-streaming stick for use with any compatible display according to a new report by Gigaom who obtained hands-on access.


10 Shocking Games That Ignited Controversy – Critics claim that violent behavior can be linked to violent video games, though the jury is still out on that one. But no matter where you come down on the issue, some video games have definitely have crossed the line from questionable to offensive. Check out the slideshow for 10 games that sparked some real controversy.

OK Google, let’s rock: Android apps can play music directly from Google search – If you use Google Search to look up musicians and bands on your Android handset, you’re in luck. Google now provides a one-touch option to play their music right now on your Android* phone. *Yup, that’s an asterisk. This feature requires your Android smartphone to be already loaded with one or more music playback apps; namely, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, or YouTube. And so far it’s only for Android users in the United States.


Seven common Android problems and how to fix them (pictures) – Let’s face it, our phones aren’t perfect. When they aren’t running out of juice, they are slow, won’t power on, or have problems connecting to the Internet. These are some quick fixes for some of the most common problems Android owners face.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Save a Wet Phone – Step One: Don’t panic, but don’t NOT panic.



Yo hack spills users’ phone numbers – Single-function messaging app Yo may have seemed like a gimmick – albeit one raising $1m in funding – but it’s also got an unpleasant security sting in its tail, with hackers claiming to be able to extract phone numbers of users. Yo arrived to mixed confusion and enthusiasm earlier this week, intended to do one thing in sending a “Yo” message to a contact.

The EFF wants to improve your privacy by making your Wi-Fi public – According to Wired, the EFF will release free firmware for Wi-Fi routers that will “let you share a portion of your Wi-Fi network, password-free, with anyone nearby.” The software, called “Open Wireless Router,” is part of the EFF’s initiative, which aims to make free wireless Internet as ubiquitous as possible. The idea here is that by opening up your network to strangers, not only are you being a good neighbor, but traffic on your network can’t necessarily be tracked back to you—a potential boon for those for whom privacy is sacrosanct.  The EFF will officially release the Open Wireless Router firmware at next month’s Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference.

Heartbleed Isn’t Dead Yet – There’s a really good reason why security researchers were so spooked by the Heartbleed bug: there’s just no silver bullet. Even if we somehow banded together to get most of the world’s systems patched, a big chunk of the Internet would likely be left vulnerable. Sure enough, Heartbleed beats on.

Mock email scam ensnares hundreds of bureaucrats at Justice Canada – Many of the Justice Department’s finest legal minds are falling prey to a garden-variety Internet scam. An internal survey shows almost 2,000 staff were conned into clicking on a phoney “phishing” link in their email, raising questions about the security of sensitive information. The Justice Department’s mock exercise caught 1,850 people clicking on the phoney embedded links, or 37 per cent of everyone who received the emails. That’s a much higher rate than for the general population, which a federal website says is only about five per cent.

Company News:

German publishers want an 11 percent cut of Google News – Several of Germany’s largest newspaper and magazine publishers have instituted legal proceedings against Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. They’re seeking an order that would make the search engines pay them an 11 percent portion of their “gross sales, including foreign sales” that come “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public.” That’s according to new media pundit Jeff Jarvis, who published a blog post this morning calling the demands “as absurd as they are cynical and dangerous” and part of a German “war on the link.”

Twitter sued over spammy text messages – Twitter has been slapped with a lawsuit, the reason for which revolving around text messages. The social network has been accused of ignoring requirements to keep an eye on which phone numbers have been ported or disconnected, resulting in spam, as well as failing to honor requests to stop the notifications.

T-Mobile CEO apologizes after accusing rivals of “raping” consumers – John Legere, chief executive officer of T-Mobile US, is well known for his outspoken views, and frequently takes to Twitter to share them with his 288,000 followers. Even at official media events, Legere is famed for his profanity-laden speeches, often referring to rival carriers in less than flattering terms. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile US, has apologised for his comments at the company’s latest Uncarrier launch event, at which he said that rivals AT&T and Verizon were “raping” their customers. (Outspoken views = sociopathic ignorant prick!)

Google’s Nest Buys Dropcam for $555M – For now, the two firms will operate independently, and it will be business as usual for Dropcam users. But eventually, “we’ll incorporate Dropcam into how we do business at Nest. That includes how we handle everything from customer support to customer privacy,” Matt Rogers, Nest founder and head of engineering, wrote in a blog post. Ultimately, Nest wants to “reinvent products that will help shape the future of the conscious home.”

Will Google Enter The Insurance Industry? – When it comes to collecting and organizing information, Google is well on its way to establishing its hegemony through the registration of 6 billion daily unique searches and indexing of over 50 billion web pages (2013). What remains to be seen is how this information is being made universally accessible and at what price. One of the industries that has particular advantage of access to the world’s information is insurance.

FCC Hits Chinese Company with Record Fine for Selling Signal Jammers – The Federal Communications Commission has announced a record-breaking fine against Chinese electronics manufacturer and online retailer C.T.S. Technology Co. Ltd. The $34.9 million penalty, which the FCC revealed publicly on Thursday, stems from allegations that C.T.S Technology marketed and sold signal jammers to U.S. Customers. In the FTC’s eyes, that’s a big no-no.

Games and Entertainment:

The 20 best hidden deals buried in Steam’s massive summer games sale – Steam’s annual Summer Sale kicked off Thursday and runs through June 30th, bringing a bonanza of deeply discounted game sales every day throughout. While the front page is the place to find great time-limited deals on hot new titles or popular favorites, there are still a bunch of sales on lesser-known or older titles sitting in the background that are also on sale, but not advertised on Steam’s front page.

Amid controversy, Ubisoft denies downgrading graphics on PC Watch Dogs – Much has already been made about how the final shipped version of Watch Dogs looks considerably worse than the version shown in presentations at the last two E3 shows. Those comparisons took on new weight when modders found references in the PC code to settings and animations explicitly meant for “E3” mode. Some have suggested that Ubisoft purposely scaled back the performance of the PC version of the game so it wouldn’t outclass the console versions too handily. One comment unearthed from the code lends some credence to this idea, by derisively suggesting that a color setting “is PC only, who cares.”


A shot from the modded version of Watch Dogs shows the impact of “unlocked” effects like fog and variable depth of field.

The Sims 4 preview: More hangout spaces, better personalities breathe fresh life into The Sims – During last week’s E3, we sat in on a few gameplay sessions from Sims 4 producers, where we heard the repeated claim that “we’ve made Sims three-dimensional… on the inside.” In spite of the cheesy phrase, however, the game’s robust character creator makes us wonder what took EA and Maxis so long to make something like this, doling out equally robust sliders for faces and character interests.


25 great Linux games available dirt cheap during Steam’s Summer Sale – Who says great games can’t be found on Linux? This small army of killer Linux-compatible games beg to differ—and they can all be found dirt-cheap during Steam’s Summer Sale.

The best video game trailers of all time – Developers go so far above and beyond creating that mini-commercial for their game that they ultimately create a tasteful, self-contained narrative all on its own that’s able to be delivered in just a couple of minutes. Many trailers are good, but only a select few can survive on their own as a separate piece of flash video fiction, and these are the best out there.

Illinois university offering sports scholarships… for League of Legends players: Up to 50 percent off board and tuition for accomplished gamers – The university is looking for applicants who participate in the League of Legends High School Starleague, with a view to building a League team to play in the Collegiate Star League (a separate competition to League of Legends developer Riot’s own collegiate program). The 2014 season starts in September and will feature teams from 103 different institutions.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Consumer Robotics Is Finally Ready For Prime Time – The robotics revolution has been in the making for decades, but market expectations have historically outpaced technology readiness. While industrial and military sectors have adopted a number of high-priced robotics solutions, the consumer sector has lagged due to lack of technological maturity and high costs.


8 technologies on the way out — and one we’ll never lose – A technology that’s on top today can be made obsolete by the next big thing. Six futurists predict which of today’s common technologies are headed for the scrap heap.

U.S. Government To Ban Drones In National Parks – So, you bought a drone. What are you going to do with it first? Snap some real estate photos of your house? Take a dronie? Crash it into a tree then try to convince the manufacturer it came like that? If your answer is “Take it to a national park”, you might want to reconsider. That’s not allowed anymore. The US Government’s National Park Service has just issued an order banning unmanned aircrafts from being launched, landed, or operated in any of the 58 US national parks.

More Than 400 Military Drones Have Crashed Worldwide – No deaths from drone crashes have been reported yet but the documents detail close calls, including in the United States. In April, a 375-pound drone crashed near an elementary-school playground in Pennsylvania where children had been playing just minutes after students left for the day, the Post reports. The investigation calls into question the safety and security of drones, which have become increasingly prominent in U.S. military operations, with commercial operations set to expand in the coming years.


Little girl persuades Google to give dad day off (with cute letter) – A little girl writes to Google and complains that her daddy gets only Saturdays off from the company. And it’s his birthday. Google relents.


The Daily Show mocks Google Glass but privacy concerns are real – Seemingly everyone likes to ridicule Glass wearers, even “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” But the privacy issues brought up on a recent segment are real.


The Daily Show screenshot by Teena Hammond/TechRepublic 

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

Foxit Reader – Foxit Reader is designed for a broad spectrum of users including enterprise and government organizations. Foxit Reader is fully customizable to meet any organization business objective and its small footprint makes it easy to deploy. It is also packed with features not available in competitor’s products. Foxit Foxit Reader’s small footprint makes easy to update and maintain. Finally, Foxit Reader adheres to all ISO 32000 standards.

Its core function is compatible with PDF Standard 1.7. Therefore, using Foxit Reader you will no longer have to worry about document incompatibility.


Interactive form: This new feature enables you to interactively fill out a PDF form, export it as a FDF file, e-mail it and save it together with PDF document.

On-demand download of add-ons: Foxit Reader enables you to download add-ons at your needs and when necessary.

Multi-language UI support: Foxit Reader 2.0 supports dynamical UI language switch. English is the default UI language, but you can select a localized language from the Language menu.

JavaScript add-on: This powerful new feature allows advanced users to create complex logic for PDF forms, to validate user input and process data.

Self upgrade: With this new feature, Foxit Reader self-upgrade, you don’t have to manually download a new version from website, only need to click on “checking for updates now” from the Help menu. Update manager will search for a latest version available on Foxit server, download and re-install it.

Improved printing speed: Foxit Reader 2.0 has improved printing speed for PS (Postscript) printer.

Streamlined UI: Foxit Reader 2.0 consolidated toolbar for a streamlined UI, creating a neat and better look and feel.

Breezing-fast: When you run Foxit Reader, it launches instantly without any delay. You are not forced to view an annoying splash window displaying company logo, author names, etc.

Annotation tool: Have you ever wished to annotate (or comment on) a PDF document when you are reading it? Foxit Reader 2.0 allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes on a PDF document and then print out or save the annotated document.

Text converter: You may convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.

High security and privacy: Foxit Reader highly respects the security and privacy of users and will never connect to Internet without users’ permission. While other PDF Reader often silently connects to the Internet in the background.

Nexus Root Toolkit – This program will automatically bring together all the files you need to unlock and root your device in a few clicks, or flash it back to stock and re-lock it. You can also use this program to backup/restore all your important data, flash zips, set file permissions, push and pull files, install apps, generate logcats/bugreports, and much more!

With the included file association options, you can perform tasks like flashing zips, installing apps, restoring android backup files, and flashing/booting img files with just a double click! The program includes a full featured interface for automating tasks in TWRP, enhanced restore features, an in-built auto-updater/notification system, ‘any build’ mode, advanced restore features,’NRT- Live Log’ for viewing the adb/fastboot cmds that are run in the background, quick tools utilities, and tools for taking screenshots/screen-recordings. All the latest Android builds and Nexus devices are officially supported.

The program intelligently and selectively downloads the files it needs for your device and makes sure you are using the latest files available. The main changes in this release are enhancements to the screen recording feature, some added driver information, and extended support for all the latest KitKat builds.

Supported Nexus devices:

· Galaxy Nexus: GSM Models (both yakju and non-yakju builds)

· Galaxy Nexus: CDMA/LTE Verizon Models

· Galaxy Nexus: CDMA/LTE Sprint Models

· Nexus S: Worldwide, i9020t and i9023 Models

· Nexus S: 850MHz, i9020a Models

· Nexus S: Korea, m200 Models

· Nexus S 4G: d720 Models

· Nexus 7: Asus Tablet

· Nexus 7 3G: Asus Tablet

· Nexus 7 v2 (2013): Asus Tablet

· Nexus 7 v2 (2013) LTE: Asus Tablet

· Nexus 10: Samsung Tablet

· Nexus 4: LG Phone

· Nexus 5: LG Phone


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Reform Gathers Momentum In Congress After Late-Night Vote – After a somewhat desultory year of little to no change, reform of the United States surveillance state appears to have finally found momentum.

Recently the USA FREEDOM Act was gutted and rammed through the House, and two funding amendments that would have cut monies for forced backdoors and certain government searches failed.

Last night, however, the House passed a single amendment to the military funding bill that did what the two failed amendments had attempted. At once, a large House majority had taken an unambiguous stand against certain parts of the government’s surveillance activities.

It’s up to the Senate to act now, but at a minimum, those looking to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) aren’t losing every skirmish.

Where do we go from here? Co-sponsors of the House amendment that passed are pledging more action. In a collection of statements provided to TechCrunch, Rep. Zoe Lofgren said that the “amendment is a worthwhile step forward and will make a meaningful difference, but our work is not done.” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner had a similar comment, saying that the passage of the amendment, and the USA FREEDOM Act are “positive, but not final, steps in our efforts to reform the administration’s surveillance authorities and protect Americans’ civil liberties.”

In the upper chamber, the current pace of change isn’t enough for some.

Illinois buys cell-tracking gear complete with NDAs, no-bid process – Newly published documents show that in July 2008, the Illinois State Police purchased over $250,000 worth of “covert cellular tracking equipment” from the Harris Corporation. The federally funded gear likely includes a Stingray and related devices that track a phone’s location and can also be used to intercept calls and text messages.

The 110-page set of documents represents yet another puzzle piece in the slowly emerging national picture of how such devices are acquired and used.

The document set also indicates that the Illinois governor’s office signed off on the equipment purchase and authorized an exemption from the “competitive bid process.” It includes a rarely seen Harris contract that uses language meant to keep the stingray purchase quiet. The documents, which cover a period between 2008 and 2012, were obtained through a public records request and were first published earlier this week by Scott Ainsile, a freelance “data pilgrim” based in the United Kingdom, with help from Heather Akers-Healy.


Legal experts: Cops lying about cell tracking “is a stupid thing to do” – Legal experts—including a former US magistrate judge—are dismayed and appalled at the stingray-related e-mails published late Thursday evening by the American Civil Liberties Union.

As we reported last night, the 2009 e-mail exchange between police departments in Sarasota, Florida and North Port, Florida, shows that local law enforcement had concealed the use of cell phone-tracking devices, known as “stingrays,” in court documents. This deception could lead to punishment for law enforcement officers or perhaps even their lawyers, the legal scholars said.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 23, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 20, 2014

House Of Representatives Passes Amendment To Cut Off Funding For NSA’s “Backdoor”;  Microsoft: NSA security fallout ‘getting worse,’ ‘not blowing over’;  NSA jitters are ‘just a bummer’ for cloud growth, HP says;  5 tips and tricks for better Siri usage;  This Is What Your Facebook Profile Really Says About You;  Jekyll: A quick and dirty solution for building static HTML sites;  Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 8 (free);  Microsoft patches denial of service vulnerability in its security suite;  Android 4.4.4 rolls out to several Nexus devices;  Test a Personal Drone Detection System for $500;  Nokia was blackmailed many times over the years – and usually paid up;  Avira Free Antivirus;  8 iPad games to download before your next business trip.

House Of Representatives Passes Amendment To Cut Off Funding For NSA’s “Backdoor” – The House of Representatives has passed by a landslide an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that will cut off funding to National Security Agency’s “backdoor” surveillance. The act, which places limits on how the NSA can gain access to communication, including email, online browsing, and chat histories, still has to gain Senate approval, but it represents a significant coup for opponents of the NSA. The act had strong bipartisan support, with 293 ayes, 123 nays, and one present.

This Is What Your Facebook Profile Really Says About You – When it comes to the job search, hiring managers can do a quick Google search, check out your social profiles, and learn a good deal about you. Using the Big Five personality model, the Five Labs Facebook analyzer scans you and your friends’ posts and analyzes the type of language you use. It then measures how much you exhibit each of five personality traits: agreeableness (how cooperative and trusting you are), neuroticism (how easily you experience unpleasant emotions), conscientiousness (how dependable you are), extraversion (how socially energetic you are), and openness (how intellectually curious you are).


‘Uber for Marijuana’ App Will Deliver Pot to Your Door … If you have a medicinal marijuana card and live in Washington State – Say goodbye to those awkwardly composed texts to your friend’s friend’s friend (“Hey, do you by any chance …”), because two college students have come up with a solution — a marijuana-delivery app called Canary. But don’t get too excited. For now, Canary, founded by University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakharia, will allow only medical-marijuana card holders to place orders for their favorite strains of bud, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Thursday.

Microsoft reveals Office 365 roadmap—here’s what’s coming – Microsoft releases a list of features for upcoming Office 365 revisions, in a bid to publicly lure more customers to the platform.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 tips and tricks for better Siri usage – Siri is capable of telling you much more than where the nearest Starbucks is located. These five tips and tricks will help you get started unlocking the full potential of Siri.

Stressed? Watch bubbles bursting in super slow-mo to relax – At 100 times slower than your eye sees, this Slow Mo Guys video of bubbles popping offers a beautiful moment of temporary escape.


Source: Apple’s iWatch will hit production in July with 2.5-inch display, wireless charging – Referencing various anonymous supply-chain sources, Reuters has reported that Taiwan’s Quanta Computer will begin production of Apple’s mythical wearable in July. Details are scant, but the Reuters report says Apple’s smartwatch will feature a 2.5-inch, slightly rectangular, arched touch display, and will be juiced by wireless charging. The gadget will have a heart rate sensor, and connect only to Apple devices running iOS.


Low-cost NFC tags will change how you control your Android device – You know those short-range, RFID radio tags that store owners use stop miscreants from swiping merchandise? “Shrinkage reduction” they call it. Well, something similar, called NFC, lurks in our newer Android phones. Sending texts, switching on Bluetooth, and adjusting screen brightness; these are among the many features you can control with the tap of a petite plastic adhesive tag. And it’s cheap, with a dozen of the tags available on Amazon right now for around fifteen bucks.


Twitter’s “GIFs” are actually MP4s – Twitter announced yesterday that it would start supporting embedded GIFs within tweets, but it looks like Twitter has pulled the wool over users’ eyes by using a different format instead.

pcDuino3S mini PC runs Linux and Android – Another day, another small-form-factor PC. This one, the pcDuinos3S, meets that fine line between budget-friendly and usable, being priced at $99 and able to run either Android or Linux, depending on your needs.


Messaging app that only lets you send the word “Yo” gets $1 million funding – Yo is a messaging app with one key difference to other messaging apps: it can only send the word “Yo” to recipients. You download the app for either iOS or Android, add your friends, and then tap their names to send the word. That’s it. That’s everything it does. It may sound pretty pointless, but the app’s creators, Moshe Hogeg and Or Arbel, say it’s already getting popular even though they only spent 8 hours creating it. Over 50,000 people use it, and more than 4 million Yo messages have been sent. Venture capitalists have also shown an interested and invested $1 million.

Save web clippings and save time with these apps – The web is an indispensable research tool, but keeping track of all of the information you find there can be daunting. You could bookmark all of the items you’d like to revisit, but that’s just so 1999. Using a service that allows you to clip and save pieces of the web for later consumption is much easier. Not only will these services save you time and energy, they’ll make you more productive.

Jekyll: A quick and dirty solution for building static HTML sites – Designing, building, and publishing a website is time-consuming when using technologies such as ASP.NET and Ruby on Rails because there are so many components to making sure everything works as planned. That’s fine for full-featured applications, but there are times when you want to push out a simple site using basic web standards (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). This is where Jekyll enters the picture, as it provides a quick and painless solution to building a simple site.

This is BlackBerry Passport (and yes, it really is that shape) – BlackBerry warned us it had something odd coming, and this is it: the unusually proportioned BlackBerry Passport. Snuck into BlackBerry’s latest financial results presentation – where the company announced a smaller-than-expected loss for the most recent quarter – the Passport has a 4.5-inch 1440 x 1440 resolution display that’s square, not rectangular.


Check out the best art GIFs of 2014 – The winners for the Giphoscope International Art GIF Contest are in, honouring the most creative work in the art of the GIF.


Microsoft patches denial of service vulnerability in its security suite – After patching 59 vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer recently, Microsoft has now patched one which existed in its various security software, that could allow attackers to initiate a denial of service attack. The exploit could be triggered by scanning a certain crafted file using the Malware Protection Engine which would then render the software useless for monitoring the target system until the file is removed and the system is restarted. Although, completely carrying out an attack using such an exploit would require some user interaction such as downloading an attachment, it could not be left unpatched, given the ignorance of most users. Hence, Microsoft has deemed it as “important” in the advisory.

Simplocker Ransomware on Your Android? New App Fights Back – The developers behind Avast’s Ransomware Removal app say it can not only remove the ransomware Trojan, but also unlock the encrypted files. However, this brings up the issue of actually installing the app on the mobile device, since Simplelocker uses a pop-over notification to prevent user access. Complete instructions are available on the Avast blog.

Nokia was blackmailed many times over the years – and usually paid up – A former Nokia executive says that the company has been blackmailed numerous times, and frequently paid up, while further details have emerged on the multi-million euro ransom it paid in 2008.

Following TrueCrypt’s bombshell advisory, developer says fork is “impossible” – One of the developers of the TrueCrypt encryption program said it’s unlikely that fans will receive permission to start an independent “fork” that borrows from the current source code, a refusal that further clouds the future of the highly regarded application.

Test a Personal Drone Detection System for $500 – While there are non-lethal uses for drones, the high-flying devices have sparked some privacy concerns, especially as federal officials move to loosen restrictions on their use. As a result, a Portland, Oregon company has taken matters into its own hands with a new a Kickstarter campaign for a Personal Drone Detection System. The team at Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) has been working for more than a year to produce hardware that detects drones and, ultimately, deters them from recording you and your surroundings.


Android, Windows Phone to add kill switch to thwart theft – Both Google and Microsoft say that they will add kill switches to the next versions of their mobile software.

Android 4.4.4 rolls out to several Nexus devices – Google quietly updates KitKat with security fixes, including one patch for a flaw discovered in OpenSSL after the notorious Heartbleed bug was uncovered.

Company News:

LinkedIn Launches Its First Standalone Job Search App, Privacy Guaranteed – LinkedIn says that today 40% of its 300 million users access the site on mobile devices, so its bid to tap into the wave of users accessing the site via smartphones and tablets continues apace: today the company is launching LinkedIn Job Search, a free iOS app that will let people search and apply for jobs on the social network.

BlackBerry beats earnings expectations thanks to cost-cutting – CEO John Chen’s efforts are having a positive effect: the ailing BlackBerry reports better than expected revenue and earnings for its fiscal first quarter.

Google is hoping to entice developers with new Android Wear video – Google released a video that reviews some of the key things that will make Android Wear different from other platforms. It gives an in-depth look at how Android Wear will function once released.


Twitter snaps up video startup SnappyTV – Twitter will tightly integrate the cloud-based platform for live clipping, editing, and distributing video across the Web.

Games and Entertainment:

Augmented reality is coming to Lego with new Fusion series – Augmented reality games for kids are not new things, but developers continue to find more interesting ways to make them interactive. Hot Wheels, for example, has some exceptional racetracks that put your tablet in the middle of a visually stunning special effects package for your vehicles. Even McDonald’s has an AR game for their terrifying new mascot, but like most things in this particular market, it looks like Lego has stepped up in a big way. Lego Fusion, coming to stores this August and September, uses your iPad to do everything from create 3D buildings from a single wall to allowing the player to participate in massive battles right in their living rooms.


Disney’s Star Wars Scene Maker For iPad Lets Users Build Their Own Animated Fanfic – Disney has a new mobile app that uses its recently-acquired Star Wars IP out today: Star Wars Scene Maker is now on the App Store, and it lets kids of all ages build their own Star Wars stories using 3D-rendered graphics and animations, along with the option to record your own voice over for dialog and built-in music for epic soundtracks.


Hands On With the ‘Battlefield: Hardline’ PC Beta – After Battlefield 4’s various setbacks, including a rocky launch plagued with server issues, the Battlefield series is reinventing itself with Battlefield: Hardline, a game that pits players in a game of cops and robbers.


7 Steam Summer Sale Tips Every Gamer Should Know – It’s that time of year again. The Steam Summer Sale is back, and that means two weeks of constantly reloading the Steam store to see what games you can pick up for a few bucks each. It’s easy to go nuts during the sale, so here are some tips on how to get the most during the event.

Linux gaming revolution continues as XCOM: Enemy Unknown hits SteamOS – XCOM is a major addition to Linux’s gaming ranks, but it’s just the latest in a series of triple-A games to embrace the open-source operating system.

8 iPad games to download before your next business trip – We all run into unexpected delays from time to time. Put this selection of games on your iPad when you need a distraction or to fill time during a lengthy layover.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Gone Will Sell Your Old Crap For You – In an age when consumerism is almost the only path to survival, it’s pretty easy to accumulate a lot of stuff. And then you get more stuff, and wind up startlingly close to a hoarder’s lifestyle before deciding to sell a bunch of it. At first, the idea feels brilliant, until you start tabulating the time, effort and resources involved in selling off a bunch of old crap. Is it worth it, you ask? With Gone, it totally is.

Hackers reverse-engineer NSA spy kit using off-the-shelf parts – Last year Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s Advanced Network Technology catalog, a listing of the hardware and software tools the agency makes available to agents for spying. Now enterprising security experts are using the catalog to build similar tools using available electronics. The team, led by Michael Ossmann of Great Scott Gadgets, examined the leaked catalog and found that a number of the devices the NSA developed can be very simple to recreate.

3D printed electric cars are happening, and they look amazing – Can you 3D print a car? Sure you can! Local Motors, who have been working with the public for years in bringing their designs to the road. Dubbing their method “co-creation”, they also use “micro-manufacturing” to get you your vehicle (and even let you pitch in on the build). A contest of theirs to design a 3D printed, electric vehicle has just wrapped, but the submitted designs were phenomenal.


Fitness App Usage Is Growing 87% Faster Than The Overall App Market – A new report from Flurry Analytics shows that health and fitness apps are growing at a faster rate than the overall app market so far in 2014. The analytics firm looked at data from more than 6,800 apps in the category on the iPhone and iPad and found that usage (measured in sessions) is up 62% in the last six months compared to 33% growth for the entire market, an 87% faster pace.

Harley-Davidson Reveals ‘LiveWire’ Electric Motorcycle – The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is rocking down to Electric Avenue with Project LiveWire: the manufacturer’s first electric motorcycle. Not available for sale to the general public, the company will launch a beta test program next week, allowing select consumers around the country to ride and provide feedback on the bike.


Something to think about:

“It’s never just a game when you’re winning.”

–    George Carlin

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 8 – Use the Ultimate Windows Tweaker to customize your Windows 8 to meet your requirements.

While Windows 7 & Windows Vista users should continue to use Ultimate Windows Tweaker 2.2, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 may be happy to know that your favorite freeware Windows tweaker is now available for download.

With judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, personal and more secure with just a few mouse clicks.


Avira Free Antivirus – Avira AntiVir Personal FREE Antivirus was developed to be a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use.

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

Central configuration with user-friendly standard and advanced options and context-sensitive help

Scanner (On-Demand Scan) with profile-controlled and configurable search for all known types of virus and malware

Integration into the Windows Vista User Account Control allows you to carry out tasks requiring administrator rights

Guard (On-Access Scan) for continuous monitoring of all file access attempts

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

Rootkit protection for detecting hidden malware installed in your computer system (rootkits) (Only for 32-bit systems)

Direct access to detailed information on the detected viruses and malware via the Internet

Simple and quick updates to the program, virus definitions, and search engine through Single File Update and incremental VDF updates via a webserver on the Internet

Integrated Scheduler to plan one-off or recurring tasks, such as updates or test runs

Very high rates of virus and malware detection using innovative search technologies (search engines) and heuristic search processes

Detection of all common archive types, including detection of nested archives and smart extensions

High-performance multithreading function (simultaneous high-speed scanning of multiple files)


AntiVir protection against viruses, worms and Trojans AntiDialer protection against expensive dialers

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

AntiSpyware protection against spyware and adware NetbookSupport for laptops with low resolution

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet – Huge volumes of private emails, phone calls, and internet chats are being intercepted by the National Security Agency with the secret cooperation of more foreign governments than previously known, according to newly disclosed documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The classified files, revealed today by the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information in a reporting collaboration with The Intercept, shed light on how the NSA’s surveillance of global communications has expanded under a clandestine program, known as RAMPART-A, that depends on the participation of a growing network of intelligence agencies.

It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance. But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as “third-party partners,” are playing an increasingly important role – by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables.

The NSA documents state that under RAMPART-A, foreign partners “provide access to cables and host U.S. equipment.” This allows the agency to covertly tap into “congestion points around the world” where it says it can intercept the content of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, internet chats, data from virtual private networks, and calls made using Voice over IP software like Skype.

The program, which the secret files show cost U.S. taxpayers about $170 million between 2011 and 2013, sweeps up a vast amount of communications at lightning speed. According to the intelligence community’s classified “Black Budget” for 2013, RAMPART-A enables the NSA to tap into three terabits of data every second as the data flows across the compromised cables – the equivalent of being able to download about 5,400 uncompressed high-definition movies every minute.


Tell a lie, remove the gear: How the NSA covers up when cable taps are found – Sometimes, the spooks do get caught. German magazine Der Spiegel yesterday revealed a new slide (PDF) from the Edward Snowden document cache that offers a tantalizing glimpse of what it looks like when someone stumbles on an intelligence agency cable tap.

The NSA’s Special Source Operations (SSO) branch isn’t in the business of computer hacking but of cable tapping; its logo shows an eagle flying above the globe and clutching a string of wires in its talons. These taps, each obscured with a codename, are often made deep within the network of telecom providers and often with the cooperation of key executives. But sometimes non-cleared people start raising questions about just what might be going on, as was the case with AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, who revealed an NSA “secret room” in San Francisco.

On March 14, 2013, an SSO weekly briefing included a note regarding such a discovery. The unit had been informed two days earlier that “the access point for WHARPDRIVE was discovered by commercial consortium personnel. Witting partner personnel have removed the evidence and a plausible cover story was provided. All collection has ceased.”


Microsoft: NSA security fallout ‘getting worse,’ ‘not blowing over’ – Microsoft’s top lawyer says the fallout of the NSA spying scandal is “getting worse,” and carries grim implications for US tech companies.

In a speech at the GigaOm Structure conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith warned attendees that unless the US political establishment figures out how to rein in its spy agencies, there could be heavy repercussions for tech companies

“What we’ve seen since last June is a double-digit decline in people’s trust in American tech companies in key places like Brussels and Berlin and Brasilia. This has put trust at risk,” Smith said.

“The longer we wait or the less we do the worse the problem becomes,” he explained. “We are seeing other governments consider new procurement rules – procurement rules that could effectively freeze out US-based companies.”

This could already be happening. China banned Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system from a recent public sector procurement contract. Two weeks later, a report by the Middle Kingdom’s state-backed media quoted Chinese analysts and academics warning of the dangers of using Windows 8. “It’s a big challenge for our cybersecurity,” said one academic.

The Chinese government is also rumored to be considering a ban on IBM servers as well, due to security issues.

NSA jitters are ‘just a bummer’ for cloud growth, HP says – Revelations about U.S. National Security Agency snooping have made some buyers outside the U.S. think twice about public clouds, placing a drag on one of the world’s biggest technology trends, the head of Hewlett-Packard’s enterprise group said.

Bill Veghte, executive vice president and general manager of the HP Enterprise Group, joined the chorus of tech executives lamenting a new wariness among customers just hours after CTO Werner Vogels said his company had seen no impact.

Since documents exposed by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden last year revealed purportedly widespread collection of data in numerous countries, enterprises outside the U.S. have become skittish about U.S. tech products, according to some IT executives. Cisco Systems’ Chairman and CEO John Chambers, for one, has said those worries have affected his company’s business in China and has asked President Barack Obama to intervene to stem effects on U.S. technology sales overseas.

In an appearance at the Gigaom Structure conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, HP’s Veghte echoed Chambers’ concerns about attitudes in China in particular. The worst of it is that there’s such an opportunity there to quickly embrace cloud computing, he said.

Cops hid use of phone tracking tech in court documents at feds’ request – Keeping tabs on civilian phones? There’s more than one way to skin that cat. On Thursday evening, the ACLU published a 2009 e-mail exchange (PDF) between police departments in Sarasota, FL and North Port, FL indicating that local law enforcement had concealed the use of cell phone-tracking Stingray devices in court documents. Stingray is a trademark, but it has come to generally mean devices that can be used to track phones or even intercept calls and text messages.

As the ACLU wrote tonight, “Concealing the use of stingrays deprives defendants of their right to challenge unconstitutional surveillance and keeps the public in the dark about invasive monitoring by local police.”


Pakistan, Iran, and… USA? New heatmap shows where NSA hacks – A screenshot from the National Security Agency’s Boundless Informant visualization tool shows that the NSA was heavily focusing its network hacking efforts in 2013 on Iran and Pakistan. All the while, the NSA also had active “computer network exploits” within the United States. The new document, published by Der Spiegel, is part of 53 documents recently released from the Edward Snowden cache, which appears to be from the same set initially released a year ago in Glenn Greenwald’s first article on Boundless Informant from June 2013.

The new “heatmap” from Boundless Informant, which provides the NSA a way to analyze the volume of data and distribution of sources that it is being collected from, shows “computer network exploitation” activity over an unspecified 30-day period in 2013. During the displayed period, Pakistan appears to have been the target of most of the NSA’s network hacking activity, displaying red on the heat map of intelligence activity. Iran appears to be the second most active country for the period, appearing in orange.


Wikileaks leak shows data sovereignty threat – A leak of documents from the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations show Australia and other negotiating parties would be prevented from ensuring sensitive customer data remains in the country of origin.

The secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex released by Wikileaks shows 50 countries including Australia and the US may be signing away rights to ensure sensitive customer data remains in its country of origin.

Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the European Union, among others, have all been in negotiation for new financial services rules for operating between participating countries. In Australia, it has been reported that the negotiations would result in a deregulation of Australia’s banking and finance sector, resulting in the end of the “four pillars” policy, and allowing more freedom for foreign banks operating in Australia.

In Article X.11 of the annex, the draft document reveals that the United States and the European Union are pushing to prevent signatory countries from preventing the transfer of data across nation borders.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 19, 2014

How sites secretly collect your data – and how to stop it;  How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet;  Top 10 fixes for common PC problems: The best of PCWorld’s Answer Line;  Adobe Photoshop Mix Brings Premium Editing Tools to the iPad for Free;  Pluto Mail Lets You Set An Expiration Time For Your Emails;  iOS Safer Than Android? Maybe Not;  Access your computer desktop from any Android device;  Amazon Announces The $199 Fire Phone; Thousands of secret keys found in Android apps;  The Big List of The 61 Best Social Media Tools;  Skype 4.3 now available for Linux;  A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line;  Bank not liable for customer’s $440,000 cybertheft;  Classrooms Need to Ditch PCs, Tablets;  SpringPublisher (free).

How sites secretly collect your data – and how to stop it – Have you ever wondered how social networking sites seem to know so much about you and your preferences? We take the lid off how these sites gather data about your activities.

Top 10 fixes for common PC problems: The best of PCWorld’s Answer Line – I’ve been answering questions from PCWorld readers since 1997, and I think I’ve read about every problem that Windows and PC hardware can provide. But some questions pop up over and over again. Others rarely come up, but nevertheless involve important issues that every user needs to know about. Still, others are unanswerable, and the only advice I can give is to have a professional look at the PC. Here are 10 Answer Line articles from the last two years that every Windows user should read.

Access your computer desktop from any Android device – With Google’s Remote Desktop app for Chrome, accessing a PC or Mac from any Android device is easy, and doesn’t require installing any clunky desktop software. The setup process is simple, taking roughly five minutes and little technical knowledge. With the goal of remotely controlling a computer, let’s start by installing the Chrome Web app. Using Chrome, visit and install the Remote Chrome Desktop app on your computer. You can find it on the Chrome Web Store site.

Pluto Mail Lets You Set An Expiration Time For Your Emails – Pluto Mail describes itself as “the Snapchat of email,” but the handy site does more than just make your messages disappear. It also lets you edit your emails before they are opened, see if they have been opened, and can save your messages to your Dropbox account instead of in your sent folders.

Remotely wipe your Android device with the help of Google – Your smartphone is your lifeline to your business when you’re on the go. If you lose that smartphone, sensitive company data (and even personal data) could fall into unwanted hands. There are plenty of third-party apps and security systems that can help you to protect that data — but sometimes, you simply must wipe the phone clean of anything that could bring about disaster to you personally or your company. Thankfully, Google and Android have you covered, without having to install any third-party software.

Adobe Photoshop Mix Brings Premium Editing Tools to the iPad for Free – Adobe is the undisputed king of image editing software, but it has been slow to innovate on mobile devices. We’ve got paid versions of Photoshop on iOS and Android, but those are overkill for most smartphone and tablet users. Meanwhile, less premium products do little more than apply filters. The newly announced Photoshop Mix for iPad fits in between those extremes with support for multiple file types, merging images, layers, and yes, filters.


Adobe Ink & Slide Review: The iPad stylus grows up – Adobe got tired of waiting for a great stylus for the iPad, and so it took on the challenge itself, coming up with Adobe Ink and its companion ruler, Slide. Pens for the iPad aren’t new, but neither have they been especially proficient, but Adobe is aiming to change all that with slickly designed hardware and tightly-integrated software. I’ve been using Adobe Ink & Slide with the iPad Air for the past few weeks; read on for my full verdict.


Amazon Announces The $199 Fire Phone, The First Smartphone With Head-Tracking – Meet the Fire Phone, Amazon’s first venture into smartphones. At first blush, the phone looks like any other smartphone currently on the market, but it has a secret: the ability to track a user’s head. This is done through four corner-mounted, front-facing infrared cameras and produces wild 3D effects. Jeff Bezos calls it the phone built for the Amazon Prime customer.

Here’s What The Amazon Fire Phone’s Crazy 3D Head Tracking Looks Like – As expected — Amazon announced their very first smartphone . While many of its features can be found on other devices, it’s got at least one trick that’s particularly unique: a complex camera system that tracks the position of your head and shifts the perspective of what’s on screen accordingly.

T-Mobile Will Give Potential Subscribers A Free One Week “Test Drive” On An iPhone 5S – In a new program that they call “Test Drive”, T-Mobile is offering free trials to potential customers, offering them an iPhone 5S and 7 days of unlimited service to give their network a spin. Starting on June 23rd, anyone interested in giving T-Mo a spin can sign up for a test drive online. A few days later, an iPhone 5S is dropped off at your house, complete with a week’s worth of unlimited data/text/web service. And when your week is up? If you’re unconvinced that T-Mobile is for you, you just drop the iPhone off at any T-Mobile store and you’re done.

Apple releases new low-end iMac, starting at $1,099 – Apple took down its online store earlier this morning, and when it returned, a new low-end iMac had appeared, with a starting price of $1099.00. For that new entry-level price, you can get a 1.4GHz dual-core i5, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and Intel HD 5000 graphics.


A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line – Do you think of the command line as an antiquated leftover from the past, or an old fashioned way of interacting with a computer? Think again. In Linux, it is the most flexible and powerful way to perform tasks. For example, searching for all .tmp files in a directory (and its sub-directories) and then deleting them can be a multi step process when done via graphical user interface, but is a matter of few seconds when done through the command line. In this article, we will discuss the basics of the Linux command line including directory navigation, file/directory operations, and more.

Skype 4.3 now available for Linux – With summer coming up, Microsoft has released a new version of Skype for Linux. The latest version, Skype 4.3, offers some UI enhancements, new features, and behind-the-scenes improvements to the software. Skype 4.3 is available for Ubuntu 10.04 32-bit, 12.04, Debian 7.0, Fedora 16 32-bit, OpenSUSE 12.1 32-bit, and Dynamic. The software is also available for Windows, OSX, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android.


Twitter now supports GIFs on mobile site – Twitter has been making interesting moves of late, teaming up with entities like Billboard to bring you real-time music sharing stats and even toying with auto-suggestion of movies. This one is likely a bit overdue, but welcome nonetheless. Via mobile, you can now view and upload GIFs to twitter.

Mac OS X Mavericks: 11 essential utilities – These are some of the very best utilities everyone should think about installing on their Mac.


Mobile video watching up 532 percent in two years, study says – Mobile and tablets now represent over 21 percent of all online video plays, up from 3.4 percent two years ago.

Swappa is the place to find lightly used smartphone, tablet and smartwatch gems – If you are tired of high eBay fees and meeting strangers for Craigslist transactions, then check out Swappa for some great values on high quality mobile gear.

The Big List of The 61 Best Social Media Tools – Small businesses are eager to find valuable tools that take a lot of the time and trouble out of social media marketing and that do so without costing an arm and a leg. I think we’d all want tools like that, right? Well, I went searching for just this kind of simple, easy, cost-effective tool, and I came up with 61 that made the cut. I tried out more than 100 in total, and I’m sure I missed a few along the way (please tell me in the comments or on Twitter which ones deserve a look). Hopefully you find one or two here that you can use in your small scale marketing that can get you big results.


Thousands of secret keys found in Android apps – Even among the top apps found on Google Play, researchers have found a crucial security flaw that could compromise user data.


YOU’RE HISTORY: goes titsup for TWO DAYS – The genealogy site has been blasted off the internet after reportedly being hit by a DDoS attack. The site’s owners said unknown assailants had launched their digital broadside on Monday. Some users are still reporting problems accessing the site, despite Ancestry’s promises that it has been fixed.

AT&T sends letter to victims of phone unlocking data breach – AT&T has begun mailing out letters to customers affected by a data breach that allowed employees of a “service provider” to access customer account information, including customers’ dates of birth and Social Security numbers. The data was exposed in April through a system used to obtain unlocking codes for used AT&T phones for resale, according to the letter, which has been posted by California’s Office of the Attorney General.

Bank not liable for customer’s $440,000 cybertheft – A Missouri escrow firm that lost $440,000 in a 2010 cyberheist cannot hold its bank responsible, an appeals court ruled this week. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s decision this month affirmed a lower court ruling in the case. The appeals court also held that the escrow firm can be held responsible for the bank’s attorney fees in the case. In a 25-page ruling, the appeals courts agreed with a Missouri district court ruling in March 2013 that blamed Choice Escrow and Title LLC for the loss because it failed to follow the bank’s recommended security precautions.

iOS Safer Than Android? Maybe Not – Common wisdom holds that iOS devices are inherently secure, like Macs. Android devices are inherently vulnerable, like Windows. Given that Macs are actually more vulnerable than people think, that mindset doesn’t work. A new study by Marble Security found that, at least in a corporate environment, Android and iOS devices pose nearly equal security dangers.

Company News:

Google dealt massive blow in Canada regarding search – The Canadian Supreme Court has put Google on its heels, ruling that search results must be scrubbed clean all over the globe. In a case that had one company asking that Google remove search results of a rival, the courts ruled that those results must be banished the world over, not just Canada. It’s an odd precedent, and one that could have a lasting snowball effect. (NOTE: This article is not correct (poorly researched). The British Columbia Supreme Court – NOT the Supreme Court of Canada – is the court in question. A horse of a different colour – entirely.)

German publishers start legal action against Google over news snippets – The publishers’ society VG Media has started legal proceedings against Google after the search-engine giant refused to negotiate with the collecting society and publicly declared it would not pay such a compensation, VG Media said Wednesday. Twelve German online news publishers took a 50 percent stake in VG Media last February with the aim of beginning to start collecting compensation from search engines. They want some of the advertising revenue that search engines and aggregators generate by republishing parts of their content.

BlackBerry Turns To Amazon To Fix BlackBerry’s App Problem – BlackBerry has partnered with Amazon in a deal that will bring Amazon’s Android Appstore to BlackBerry devices. Why? As BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen tells the WSJ, he simply doesn’t have time, energy and money to build a proper app ecosystem, which is about right. The Amazon Appstore will be available alongside the BlackBerry 10.3 platform this fall.

Games and Entertainment:

Dying Light and Dead Island 2 preview: Zombie vs. zombie – This whole zombie craze is something of a zombie itself—it refuses to die, despite plenty of efforts. Every year another zombie game (or five) is unveiled and people groan about how played out zombies are and then they buy more zombie games anyway. This year there were two big zombie games at E3. Even stranger: They’re brothers. Sort of.


Rainbow Six: Siege preview: Hands-on with the most exciting game of E3 2014 – “Okay, so uh, let go of the button and you’ll place a breaching charge.” I dutifully do what I’m told by the watching-over-my-shoulder developer, lurking during my E3 hands-on with Rainbox Six: Siege. The breaching charge takes about five seconds to affix—an eternity as I hang from a grappling hook on the side of the house, completely exposed.


Guardians of the Galaxy international trailer showcases more action – Guardians of the Galaxy arrives on August 1, and leading up to the release is yet another teaser trailer, this one launching internationally with over two minutes of clips and bits from the film. We’ve got the video for you after the jump.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Classrooms Need to Ditch PCs, Tablets – Tech firms are looking forward to selling more machines for the classroom, where student can struggle by themselves on what amounts to a “teaching machine” that essentially does not teach. Teaching machines have never worked in the past, and they will never work in the future. Computers are great, I agree. But teachers teach and computers compute. Get gadgets out of the classrooms and watch things improve. (John Dvorak, still stuck in the past.)

FCC boss says he’ll SHAME broadband firms for fibbing on speeds – Federal Communications Commission boss Tom Wheeler has said that he will issue written warnings to some US broadband carriers following an investigation that found some companies are still not delivering advertised speeds. Wheeler said that while the broadband market as a whole is doing a better job of offering users promised download speeds, some companies are still not able to give users the levels of performance offered in ads.

Microsoft teams with Adrien Sauvage, makes wireless charging pants – Microsoft has teamed up in collaboration with English fashion designer Adrien Sauvage, working together with him to develop a pair of pants that can charge your smartphone while on the go. The pants were showcased at a fashion show in London last night.


The Most-Liked Instagram Photo In The World Took 4 Days To Edit – Remember the time that Kim Kardashian proved that social media popularity has very little to do with talent by posting the most liked photo of all time? It was a photo of her and her brand spankin’ new husband Kanye West kissing at their wedding, and it stole the crown from Justin Bieber with 2 million likes in about 24 hours. (Both of these kooks need as much Photoshopping as they can get from where I sit. Two no-nothings capitalizing on a legion of no-nothings.)


Math has spoken: You’re cutting a cake all wrong – A fascinating exposition of humanity’s laziness shows the mathematically efficient way of cutting your gateau.

Goodbye world, hello personal isolation pod – Made in Japan, the self-sequestering box is called the “Cozy Room” and its manufacturers describe it as a “relaxation room for man and woman.” (Separately, mind you, this thing is not big enough for more than one person at a time.) This intimate pod is packed with everything you need to hide out and be entertained for a good long while. Hang up your TV or computer monitor and sit right back in your padded chair, because you’ve got some serious binge-watching and/or gaming marathons ahead of you.


Something to think about:

“No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

–    Edmund Burke

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpringPublisher – SpringPublisher is a professional and easy to use desktop publishing software. With its included various templates and online template store, powerful multi-layer editor, detailed help-files, SpringPublisher enables you to design and print Business Card, Flyer, Postcard, Letterhead and other artworks within a few minutes.


Enables you to add images, texts, vector shapes, logos and arrange them as you like;

Provides various image effect: shadows, opacity, rotation, etc.

Allows you to download high quality templates from the template store.

Makes it easy for you to print your artworks either with your own printer or in professional print shops.

Generates high resolution artwork with a maximum output of 350dpi.



XP Update Extender – XP Update Extender allows you to receive updates for Windows XP until 2019. Therefore all it does is to set a registry key pretending to be a version of XP Embedded called “POSReady“. It does not modify any system files.

Pretending to be running this particular version of Windows, you will receive updates made for exactly this version of Windows XP.

Those updates may not have been properly tested for your version of Windows XP and might harm your system. Use at your own risk! Microsoft can prevent this “hack” any time.


EventSentry – Failed service? Defective hard drive in a RAID? Database running out of space? Intrusion attempts resulting in logon failures? Performance bottlenecks? EventSentry will notify you immediately when important events occur and take corrective action before they result in expensive disruptions.

The modular design and wide spectrum of features make EventSentry suitable for just about any scenario – including compliance, health & network monitoring, troubleshooting, inventory and much more.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet – Huge volumes of private emails, phone calls, and internet chats are being intercepted by the National Security Agency with the secret cooperation of more foreign governments than previously known, according to newly disclosed documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The classified files, revealed today by the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information in a reporting collaboration with The Intercept, shed light on how the NSA’s surveillance of global communications has expanded under a clandestine program, known as RAMPART-A, that depends on the participation of a growing network of intelligence agencies.

It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance. But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as “third-party partners,” are playing an increasingly important role – by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables.

The NSA documents state that under RAMPART-A, foreign partners “provide access to cables and host U.S. equipment.” This allows the agency to covertly tap into “congestion points around the world” where it says it can intercept the content of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, internet chats, data from virtual private networks, and calls made using Voice over IP software like Skype.

The program, which the secret files show cost U.S. taxpayers about $170 million between 2011 and 2013, sweeps up a vast amount of communications at lightning speed. According to the intelligence community’s classified “Black Budget” for 2013, RAMPART-A enables the NSA to tap into three terabits of data every second as the data flows across the compromised cables – the equivalent of being able to download about 5,400 uncompressed high-definition movies every minute.


Court Rules That Non-Relevant Files Seized Under A Warrant Cannot Be Held Indefinitely – Say the government gets a warrant for some of your data. They come to your house, image your computers, and then hold that data — even the data that isn’t pertinent to their warrant — for several years.

That’s not okay, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled. This is a good ruling, as it limits the ability of the government to hold files that are not party to its situational legal authority.

The ruling — worth reading in its original text here — dismisses several governmental claims relating to why it should hold the data, including that it “must be allowed to make the mirror image copies as a matter of practical necessity and, according to the Government’s investigators, those mirror images were ‘the government’s property.’” The court disagreed.

The government maintained that it must be allowed to search the “mirror images in its possession because the evidence no longer existed” the computer in question. Nope, according to the court. The government also argued that it would be “entirely impractical” to destroy non-relevant files. Denied.

The court maintained that holding the data that was non-pursuant to its original warrant was an “unauthorized seizure” and that the “retention of [the] documents was unreasonable.”

Funding Amendment To Curtail Warrantless Surveillance Proposed In House – A bipartisan group of Congress members have proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act aimed at reining in government surveillance. The amendment would ban the funding of government to either demand or request a “backdoor” into products built by technology companies. It would also ban the funding of searches of the data of US persons under the authority of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The amendment is similar to what Rep. Zoe Lofgren offered in May to the National Defense Authorization Act. She proposed two amendments, also to curtail funding for the weakening of technology products, and preventing the financing of Section 702 searches on Americans.

Those amendments failed.

Supporting the new amendment is Rep. Zoe Lofgren, again, along with Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Rush Holt, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, and Rep. Thomas Massie, among others.

Voting on amendments to the Defense Appropriations Act kick off today. Voting on this amendment should occur tomorrow.

Assange makes fresh bid for FREEDOM from Scotland Yard’s ‘physical encirclement’ – Julian Assange is attempting to break out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been encamped for two years.

His lawyers plan to file a request with the Stockholm District Court in Sweden, where Assange is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual coercion, sexual molestation and rape.

The WikiLeaker-in-chief has always denied any accusations of wrongdoing, and has said that he fears being extradited to the US via Sweden. The Australia-born computer hacker claims that the Scandinavian country will despatch him to the United States, where he will be persecuted for leaking thousands of American and British diplomatic cables.

Irish judge denies request to investigate Facebook’s NSA ties – A High Court judge in Ireland has ruled that Facebook should not be investigated for alleged activities related to the sharing of user data with the US National Security Agency (NSA).

High Court Justice Gerard Hogan ruled Wednesday that Facebook won’t need to face an investigation into its alleged activities, following a ruling made by Ireland’s data protection commissioner who said the same. The commissioner argued that while Facebook users have the right to know what’s happening with their data, there’s no reason to hold an investigation into whether any of it was shared with the NSA.

Facebook is among several companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and Skype, that have been charged by a group in Europe known as “Europe-v-Facebook (EVF)” with allegedly working with the NSA to provide data on their European users.

In January, the group filed lawsuits against the companies, arguing that the European Union’s privacy laws fly in the face of data-sharing with the EU. More specifically, the group called on an “adequate level of protection” clause in Europe that would allow companies to share data with foreign governments only if the highest possible level of privacy was maintained.

The group was specifically concerned with the NSA’s PRISM program, revealed last year through documents leaked by Edward Snowden, which allowed the NSA to cull and monitor data from companies operating servers in the United States.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 18, 2014

10 things you can do to make Android more secure;  U.K. allows British spies to intercept Google and Facebook traffic;  A free photo editor worth trying: Getting started with GIMP;  How to upgrade an old PC: No-brainer improvements anyone can do;  Microsoft patches antimalware engine vulnerability;  How to set up a smart garden for free;  Turn your webcam into a home security device with one app;  15 Chrome OS productivity apps that work offline;  Assassin’s Creed: Unity preview;  Quad HD vs. 1080p: A real-world display comparison;  Years of infosec education and users still click on anything;  New powerful banking malware called Dyreza emerges; FBI’s Twitter slang book goes public;  NSA Turned Germany Into Its Largest Listening Post in Europe;  Court: Terror suspect can’t get NSA evidence gathered against him.

U.K. allows British spies to intercept Google and Facebook traffic – British spies are authorized to spy on British citizens’ Internet communications transiting through servers outside the U.K., a civil rights group has discovered. Privacy International uncovered the information as part of a lawsuit it filed against the U.K. government over its alleged involvement in mass surveillance programs. It filed the suit with the U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a court that can investigate complaints about any alleged conduct by or on behalf of the intelligence services.

10 things you can do to make Android more secure – The fact that so many people are using Android suggests that more people will be targeting those devices to get at your data. So it’s crucial for you to practice safe Androiding. Otherwise, precious business data could be compromised. Fear not. There are several best practices and precautionary steps you can take to avoid a possible breach in mobile security. Here are 10 suggestions that will help ensure a more secure Android experience.

How to upgrade an old PC: No-brainer improvements anyone can do – Windows PCs slow down over time—that’s the popular wisdom, at least. Your PC’s hardware isn’t actually becoming slower, though. Startup programs, junk files, and even clumps of dust are just weighing it down. If you give your PC’s software and hardware a quick tune-up, it should run like it did the day you bought it. Inexpensive hardware upgrades can even make your PC run faster than it ever did.

The best portable hard drives: Our top picks are fast, light and spacious – Toss a portable hard drive in your laptop bag, and you can take everything with you. Most models are lightweight, and all but the SSD models offer terabytes of capacity. Here are eight great examples.

20 Siri tips that’ll make your life easier – There are so many ways Siri can make your life easier. But if you don’t know the proper commands, you might get a lot of unwanted sass. Here’s a growing list of tips and tricks that Siri a better personal assistant.

Chrome extension All Seeing Eye indexes all text in your Web history – In addition to the hugely helpful step of indexing all of the text of every page you visit in Chrome, All Seeing Eye captures a screenshot of each page you visit for a quick visual search of your Web history.


How to set up a smart garden for free – The price point of connected plant sensors diffuses the lure of the smart garden for many cost-conscious consumers. Yes, it would be cool if technology could give your plants a voice, make care recommendations, and send you reminders, but why would you want to pay $60 to $120 to monitor a houseplant that you only paid $10 for in the first place? Fortunately, you can set up a smart gardening system, complete with reminders and recommendations, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Here’s how you can use the Internet to help you care for your plants for free.

A free photo editor worth trying: Getting started with GIMP – GIMP is a great open-source alternative to Photoshop if you’re not willing to spend the big bucks on Adobe’s software. Here are three common tasks you can accomplish with it.

Turn your webcam into a home security device with one app – If you’ve got a webcam lying around, you might be wondering what to do with it. Your computer probably has a pretty decent one you use as little as the webcam in the drawer, so that clip-on one is likely wasting away. A decent app, designed for home security, can breathe new life into your dusty old webcam. Called iCam, the app is available for both iOS and Android, and works well with OS X or Windows. For $4.99, you can get home security using the equipment you already have.


Using your phone to wake up rested in the morning – There’s an app by the name of “Sleep Cycle” that takes the prospect of waking up every morning completely refreshed and aims to make it a reality. All you need is a smartphone with an accelerometer to make it work – and you need the app too, of course, which will cost you a couple of bucks. We’re here to tell you that it’s worth the cash – based on our first few tries with the setup, that is to say.

Subscription eBook Service Oyster Comes to Android – Netflix’s massive success has freed many of us from buying video content one title at a time, but what about books? That’s where Oyster comes in. For a single monthly subscription fee, Oyster gives you access to unlimited books, and it’s out now on Android. So, it’s essentially Netflix for books.


15 Chrome OS productivity apps that work offline – Chromebooks are lightweight, inexpensive and efficient — in other words, great for business travel. But can these cloud-based laptops operate when you’re off Wi-Fi? Sure they can — here are 15 productivity apps that can work with you when you’re offline.

Virtru, A Secure Email App Built By An Ex-NSA Engineer, Raises $6M – Revelations about how the NSA tracks users online, the growth of malicious hacking and a general move towards people wanting more privacy in their online interactions have all contributed to a surge of apps that offer users ways to control how the content they create is used online. One of the latest of these services, Virtru, designed to work with cloud-based email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, is today announcing a round of $6 million that it will use to continue to build out its service.


Qplay Is An iPad App For Binge-Watching The Internet – While the seemingly infinite video options on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and elsewhere provide plenty of content, there’s definitely a “paradox of choice” effect when it’s time to pick the next thing to watch. Qplay is an iPad app that looks to reduce that stress of choice by turning videos from around the web into “Qs,” channels of content from your social feeds and around the web.


Apple releases OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 beta 2 – If you are running either of Apple’s next-generation operating systems, there is a new beta to download but you should do so with caution as these builds are not intended for production devices.

The 250 New Emoji? Here’s What They’ll Look Like – Yesterday afternoon, the Unicode Consortium published a list of 250 new Emoji that they hope Google, Apple, Twitter and the rest will all come to embrace. Spiders! Middle fingers! “Man in business suit levitating”! The problem? Except for a tiny handful of exceptions, the list of what’s to come was just a big pile of text. Now we have pictures!


Surface Pro 2 gets big price cuts ahead of Surface Pro 3 launch – With the Surface Pro 3 well on its way to a commercial release, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft sounded the death knell for the previous generation its tablets. The first part of that process has now started as Microsoft implements a substantial price cut of the Surface Pro 2 tablets across all available configurations.


LinkedIn-Owned Email Widget Rapportive Is About To Get Less Useful – All good things must come to an end. Rapportive, the fantastically helpful email widget which jazzed up your Gmail sidebar with rich contact information pulled from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more, is getting its first big revamp following its acquisition by LinkedIn in 2012. And frankly, it’s not all good news.

Facebook tries to stop Snapchat drain with Slingshot – The world’s largest social network today unveiled Slingshot, a mobile app that lets users share photos, videos or selfies with a group of friends instantly. Slingshot does not direct users to Facebook nor does it post the shared images or video on the site. The app is also an effort to take back those important younger users who have started paying more attention to Snapchat, a photo sharing application, that has been draining younger users away from Facebook.


Microsoft patches antimalware engine vulnerability – Microsoft has issued an update to all their antimalware products to fix a denial of service bug in the engine they share. The advisory describing the update and vulnerability says that the denial of service is invoked when the engine scans a specially-crafted file. Denial of service bugs are often considered less-serious, but with this one: “[a]n attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could prevent the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine from monitoring affected systems until the specially crafted file is manually removed and the service is restarted.” The advisory goes on to say that exploitation might cause the operating system or an application to become permanently unresponsive until manually restarted, or cause an application to quit unexpectedly.

Years of infosec education and users still click on anything – Security professionals despair: Users will run dodgy executables if they are paid as little as one cent. Even more would sign up to botnets if the price was increased to five or 10 cents. Offer a whole dollar and you’ll secure a herd of willing internet slaves. The demoralising findings come from a study lead by Nicolas Christin, research professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab which baited users with a benign executable sold to users under the guise of contributing to a (fictitious) study.

New powerful banking malware called Dyreza emerges – Security researchers said they’ve spotted a new type of banking malware that rivals the capabilities of the infamous Zeus malware. The malware, which is being called “Dyreza” or “Dyre,” uses a man-in-the-middle attack that lets the hackers intercept unencrypted web traffic while users mistakenly think they have a secure connection with their online banking site.

Researchers warn of preloaded spyware in Android handsets – Security firm G-Data is warning users about their discovery of malware shipping preinstalled on some Chinese mobile phones. The German researchers said that they followed up on customer tips to study the Star N9500 mobile phone. The handsets, sold on eBay and many other online retail sites, are said to primarily be shipped out of China, and can be loosely described as a clone of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Hackers use YouTube to sell stolen credit card numbers, group says – YouTube has thousands of videos promoting compromised credit card numbers, with the site sometimes running advertisements for legitimate credit cards or retail outlets alongside the hacker videos, according to a new report from an online safety group.

Hostile state-sponsored hackers breached government network – Hackers under the control of a foreign government managed to gain access to the UK government’s secure network, it has been revealed. The hackers, described as a “state-sponsored hostile group” gained access to a system administrator account on the Government Secure Intranet, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has revealed. In a speech to a security conference Maude said the “recent” attack was discovered early “and dealt with to mitigate any damage”.

Company News:

Nokia paid millions of euros to software blackmailers – Nokia paid millions of euros to blackmailers in 2008 who threatened to publish the source code for its Symbian OS – but after it left the money in a parking lot, police lost track of the suspects.

Microsoft is on the hunt for home automation startups – Microsoft is opening up a new accelerator program in which it is looking to work with home automation startups at its campus in Redmond, Washington and is teaming up with American Family Insurance.

Third Party Android App Store Files EU Antitrust Complaint – Google has a good and a bad problem in Europe. It’s now facing new accusations of anti-competitive behaviour in mobile, (it’s separately being scrutinised for its dominance of online search). Aptoide — a Portuguese company that runs a third party apps marketplace — claims Google is abusing its dominant position to push users away from app stores that compete with Google Play. Yesterday it filed a complain with European Union regulators.

YouTube confirms it will remove indie labels’ videos for not signing up to new music service – YouTube confirms that, “in a matter of days”, it will remove videos from its site from artists such as Adele and Arctic Monkeys who haven’t agreed to its terms for its new music subscription service.

Nuance may be in sales talks with Samsung and others – Nuance, a company rich in advanced digital assistant and speech recognition technology but poor in profits, has reportedly been looking for a buyer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Games and Entertainment:

Assassin’s Creed: Unity preview: Stealth stabbing sneaks into the French Revolution – This looks a lot like Assassin’s Creed II . It’s the only thought flitting through my brain as I watch this year’s awkwardly-clad assassin—seriously, doesn’t anyone think he stands out with his hood on?—leap down the wrought-iron-and-stone exterior of Notre Dame. Substitute Notre Dame for any of a dozen Roman or Florentine cathedrals, though, and you might not notice a huge difference between Assassin’s Creed: Unity and its earlier predecessors. After last year’s little tangent into Caribbean piracy, Assassin’s Creed has returned to its roots. This is the most “traditional” Assassin’s Creed game since 2011’s Revelations.


Microsoft offers new Deals with Gold savings of up to 80% on Xbox games – Microsoft’s latest Deals with Gold promotion is offering big savings of 50-80% on a range of Xbox One and 360 games and add-ons, including Tomb Raider, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Bully and more.

The Best Android Digital Comic Book Apps – Yup, comics have gone digital. There are a ton of digital comic book apps in Android’s Google Play marketplace that let you read both classic and contemporary comics, but they’re aimed at different audiences. Some digital comic book apps feature integrated stores. Others are stand-alone readers that let you enjoy DRM-free comic files. A few others are publisher-exclusive apps for fans of a particular comic book house. In short, there are numerous ways to read comics on an Android tablet or smartphone—you just need to find the app (or apps) that works best for you.


New Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Trailer Tells the Story of Its Story – It’s short and splashy and won’t tell you any more about Kevin Spacey’s heavily hyped role in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but Sledgehammer creative director Bret Robbins does clarify a few details about the futuristic arsenal you’ll be wielding in the game. That’s actually kind of important to understand for the following reason.


Sony Says PS4 “Wins” May, Game Sales Surge Across the Board – Monthly video game sales for May 2014 arrived late last night courtesy NPD Group, with the sales tracker noting — along with Sony, which deployed a beaming media email — that the PS4 was the best-selling games console for the fifth month in a row. Sony added that the Ps4 was numero uno for both hardware as well as “next gen” software sales, claiming four of the latter category’s top five slots. Numero two was not the Xbox One, but rather Nintendo’s 3DS (according to Nintendo).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Quad HD vs. 1080p: A real-world display comparison – Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got perfectly good vision. (With my contacts in, at least.) But smartphone manufacturers are now telling us we need super-high-res Quad HD screens on our mobile devices — and damn it, I can barely tell the difference between them and the already-impressive 1080p screens on smartphones today. So I must need some sort of special superhuman vision. Either that or, you know, we really don’t need these Quad HD displays after all.


And you know what? In most real-world use, the differences between the two are virtually impossible to detect.

FBI’s Twitter slang book goes public – The FBI, much like your grandma, wants to know what the kids are talking about on Twitter, and the myriad of abbreviations used can make that a bit difficult at times. To make sure everyone’s on the same page, it crafted a Twitter slang book, which has now been made public.

Man mistakes Blackberry for blackberry – A man went to the hospital after he swallowed a Blackberry mobile phone and it became lodged in his throat. Warning, the video is not for the squeamish, and bodily fluids are shown.


I stopped a ten million dollar robbery – “For various reasons, including my wife Claudia is slightly worried I could get killed, I am changing all of the names. All of the other details are intact.” A true story by James Altucher.

Meet “Spire”, The Wearable Breath Tracker That Calms You Down – “You haven’t taken a deep breath in 30 minutes”. This is the smartest thing a wearable has ever told me. Most fitness trackers just pump out near-meaningless numbers. But Spire could actually make you healthier, happier, and more productive. Just clip the subtle little stone-looking device to your belt or bra, and it measures and visualizes your breathing in real-time on its companion app. Spire can let you know if you’ve been sitting still too long or need to relax because your breaths are shallow. Today, Spire goes on pre-sale for $109. Soon, it could nudge you towards calm and focus like your own personal yoga master.


Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

With iSpy you can:

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web

Detect, highlight, track and record movement

Detect loitering

Customise movement detection areas on your cameras

Detect and record sound

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity)

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website) and also via mobile devices

Access and control iSpy remotely

Password protect iSpy and hide it in the System Tray

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically

Time-lapse record from any camera

Motion track and count moving objects

Connect multiple instances of iSpy and iSpy server running on different computers to this website and view all aggregated media online

Create groups, invite friends and share access to your webcams and microphones

Receive email alerts if your connection goes offline

Download the source code and customise it to your own requirements!



TeamViewer – Desktop sharing has never been easier: With TeamViewer you will be able to connect to the desktop of a partner anywhere on the Internet. This is the complete TeamViewer with install and uninstall support.

TeamViewer also works in the other direction: Show your own desktop to a partner over the Internet and illustrate your own developed software, presentations or solutions.


Remote Control without Installation:

With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services:

The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

File Transfer:

TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders from and to a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Works behind Firewalls:

The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses.

If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about firewalls: TeamViewer will find a route to your partner.

Highest Security Standard:

TeamViewer is a very secure solution. The commercial TeamViewer versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and RC4 session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

No Installation Required:

To install TeamViewer no admin rights are required. Just run the software and off you go…

High Performance:

Optimized for connections over LANs AND the Internet, TeamViewer features automatic bandwidth-based quality selection for optimized use on any connection.

NOTE: Free for non-commercial use only.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Turned Germany Into Its Largest Listening Post in Europe – The National Security Agency has turned Germany into its most important base of operations in Europe, according to a story published by Der Spiegel this week.

The German magazine reports that documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence.” The magazine adds, “No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture like the one in Germany…In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.”

The story reveals that the NSA’s key facilities in Germany include Building 4009 at the “Storage Station” on Ludwig Wolker Street in Wiesbaden, which is in the southwest of the country. Officially known as the European Technical Center, the facility is the NSA’s “primary communications hub” in Europe, intercepting huge amounts of data and forwarding it to “NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East,” according to the documents.

Spiegel also reports that an even larger NSA facility is under construction three miles away, in the Clay Kaserne, which is a U.S. military complex. Called the Consolidated Intelligence Center, the facility will cost $124 million once it is completed, and will house data-monitoring specialists from the Storage Station.

Three Senators Decry The House’s NSA Bill, Citing “Watered Down” Reform – A trio of Senators wrote an op-ed for the LA Times calling for NSA reform and decrying the bill that passed the House recently as insufficient for the protection of the privacy of U.S. citizens.

The Senators, Rand Paul, Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, come from both parties. Senator Wyden is known as the senator that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to, regarding government surveillance.

The editorial is punchy, saying that “for years […] senior government officials claimed that domestic surveillance was narrow in focus and limited in scope. But in June 2013, Americans learned through leaked classified documents that these claims bore little resemblance to reality.”

The senators also mention a “loophole” in American law that allows the government to “read some Americans’ emails without ever getting a warrant.” This is likely a comment on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 that, somehow, still allows for the government to get its hands on email that is older than 180 days with a simple subpoena.

The group wants to ban bulk collection of “American’s private information,” fix the ECPA, and install an “advocate” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Here’s How UK Spy Agencies Justify Snooping On Brits’ Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google  – Some new details about UK government thinking regarding mass surveillance of domestic Internet users have emerged today, in a witness statement made by Charles Blandford Farr, Director General of the UK Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism.

The statement was made in response to a legal challenge made by a group of privacy rights organisations, including Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union. That challenge was made in the wake of revelations about the US Prism program, revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the UK’s own Tempora data collection program.

In the witness statement, Farr reveals that UK spy agencies could legally justify the mass harvesting of UK Internet users’ Facebook missives, tweets, YouTube and Google searches because those type of communications can be defined as ‘external comms’ if the servers of the hosted content are located outside the UK.

External comms do not require a warrant to be intercepted under the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), unlike internal comms which do require a warrant.

Which means that Brits using US-based Internet platforms should be aware that their communications could be subject to routine capture and scanning by domestic spy agencies — as a matter of course. Although Farr did not go so far as to confirm the existence of such a mass surveillance program, rather he was detailing how the UK government would be able to justify one, should such a program exist.

City of London Police Commissioner says TOR is ’90 per cent of the net’ – Of course he’s wrong: the TOR-using population is tiny – Yet again, someone who should know better is hyping up the size of the so-called “darkweb” to push a law enforcement case.

As reported by TorrentFreak, the remarks were made to the IP Enforcement Summit in London.

According to that report, among other things, Commissioner Adrian Leppard of City of London Police said: “Whether it’s Bitnet, The Tor – which is 90 per cent of the Internet – peer-to-peer sharing, or the streaming capability worldwide. At what point does civil society say that as well as the benefits that brings, this enables huge risk and threat to our society that we need to take action against?”

It’s a piece of silly scare-mongering, and would be laughable except that numbers like this are being used to shape public policy. As the TorrentFreak report states, Leppard believes counterfeit goods is a trillion-dollar market.

Court: Terror suspect can’t get NSA evidence gathered against him – The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled against terrorism suspect Adel Daoud, saying that he and his attorneys cannot access the evidence gathered against him. The Monday ruling overturns an earlier lower district court ruling that had allowed Daoud and his lawyers to review the legality of digital surveillance warrants used against him.

In May 2012, Daoud, an American citizen, was arrested in Chicago after having orchestrated the bombing of a downtown bar. However, the bomb was a dud, provided by FBI handlers who encountered his postings online.

In a December 2012 session of the US Senate, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) cited Daoud’s case (although not by name) as an example (PDF) illustrating why her colleagues should support renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That piece of legislation contains the controversial Section 702, which provides the legal authority that the National Security Agency uses as the basis for Prism and other surveillance and data collection programs.

When Daoud’s lawyers discovered that this case involved secret evidence that they had not been privy to, they eventually asked the court to notify them if any evidence gathered had been done so under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order. Under the normal procedures of American jurisprudence, a defendant has the right to see the evidence against him or her and can challenge the basis on which such a warrant was authorized.

The government responded with its own affidavit from Attorney General Eric Holder, who told the court that disclosing such material would harm national security.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 18, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 17, 2014

You’ve fallen for a scam! Now what?  Geohot releases root tool for Galaxy S5 and most other Android devices;  Three things that will speed up your smartphone right now;  A Phone That Lies for You;  Simple techniques for better-looking video;  Find out how fast you type on Android;  Make your own little Lego movie (yes, even PG-13);  Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app;  Freeing yourself from Facebook’s new web trackers;  Rainmeter 3.1 – A great free tool for creating interactive desktop customizations;  Department of Transportation wants control over your phone’s navigation apps;  Pinterest Hacked for Second Time in Four Months;  Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app.

You’ve fallen for a scam! Now what? – Don’t feel bad. We all make stupid mistakes. But with these sorts of mistakes, you have to act fast to avoid disaster. What you need to do depends on how you were tricked. Did you give them your email password? Your bank and/or credit card numbers? Your passwords for Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites? Did they remotely access your PC, or trick you into installing software?

Freeing yourself from Facebook’s new web trackers – Once upon a time — 2011 — a hacker discovered that Facebook was tracking you on the Web even after you had left the site. Facebook denied that it was using cookies to track you off-site, but strangely enough, after many protests, Facebook changed its tracking behavior anyway. Now, in 2014, Facebook has announced — stop me if you’ve heard this before — that they’ll be tracking your web browsing. Don’t want Facebook tracking your every move across the Web? Here’s how to get out of the new Facebook traps.

Simple techniques for better-looking video – Since some of the best videos are shot with our trusty smartphones, we kick of with a few tips on how to make the most of their built-in tools and features. Even the most basic techniques can make a big difference. Plus, find out which essential accessories will take your clips to the next level.

Three things that will speed up your smartphone right now – You pull out your Android smartphone to check on something, and again the first thing you notice is how slow it is running. You’ve meant to check out why it might be running at a sluggish pace and how to fix the problem, but by the time you have a chance you’ve again forgotten. We’re here to help with that. If you’ve got a slow Android handset, fish it out of your pocket and do these three simple things right now to make it run faster.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hacker Geohot releases root tool for Galaxy S5 and most other Android devices – Google and the big Android OEMs have been beefing up security of the years, which is a good thing for everyone. As a consequence, however, it’s harder to gain root access to new Android devices. Some particularly tough phones  include the AT&T and Verizon versions of the Samsung Galaxy S5. After XDA members took up a collection now valued at over $18,000, famed developer George “Geohot” Hotz has come forward with a working root method. Oh, it also roots almost every other Android phone.

A Phone That Lies for You – Local police confiscate a suspected drug dealer’s phone—only to find that he has called his mother and no one else. Meanwhile a journalist’s phone is examined by airport security. But when officials look to see what is on it, they find that she has spent all her time at the beach. The drug dealer and the journalist are free to go. Minutes later the names, numbers and GPS data that the police were looking for reappear. A new programming technique could bring these scenarios to life

Patch Tuesday disaster breaks Office 2013 for thousands; here’s how to fix it – Click-to-Run installations of the popular office suite fall prey to a crippling bug that leaves the software unable to launch whatsoever.

Rainmeter 3.1 – A great free tool for creating interactive desktop customizations – You may have heard of Rainmeter, the desktop customization tool that lets you display all kinds of information on your PC desktop in a much smoother and more elegant manner than Windows 8 ever did. The problem was that Rainmeter wasn’t really interactive in the way Windows 8 apps are. Well, that’s about to change.


Tired of Facebook? Try these three social apps instead – Are you tired of using social media channels like Facebook to share pics, or schedule a get-together? Sometimes, you just want to create your own little bubble, apart from the larger one that is social media. If you’ve been looking for a way to go “off the social grid”, here are three apps you and your friends can use to forge a new path.

Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app – By manipulating Android’s camera app, pictures can be taken without the user even knowing. This is a boon for secretly taking a photo of the thief who stole your camera, but could easily backfire.

AirDog auto-follow drone wants to be your personal aerial cameraman – What makes AirDog special is its ability to follow the AirLeash, the wrist-worn control unit it ships with. The AirLeash not only acts as a beacon, but it also lets you specify how high the AirDog flies and how closely it tracks you. Pre-configured flight profiles will be packaged with the AirDog app for iOS and Android, and you’ll also be able to program your own — complete with control over which angle AirDog films the action from.


A Drone Map That Delivers You Anywhere In The World – Drones deliver champagne and cookies to our hotels and chocolate to our bellies, and promise to follow our every move. Now a new site delivers us via drone to over 1,500 destinations using an interactive map.


Rendor Turns Your Single-Camera Smartphone Into A Real 3D Scanner – Using a piece of paper with a specially printed grid and a regular smartphone, Rendor may have just cracked the 3D scanning code. The system allows you to create a 3D scan of almost any object simply by taking video of it from every angle. The program interpolates the shape of the object based on how it is positioned on the grid and then generates a usable 3D file.


Printeer Is A 3D Printer Designed For Schoolkids – Meet Printeer: a colourful 3D printer that’s being designed to appeal to kids. Ergo it looks fun, with brightly coloured parts displayed safely behind clear perspex panels, and also aims to be child’s play to use — using object design software that will run on an iPad.


Department of Transportation wants control over your phone’s navigation apps – The next time Google-owned Waze decides to add a new feature to its app, the U.S. government—not users—may decide whether the feature is worth keeping. The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for explicit power to regulate navigation devices of all types, including apps on your smartphone or tablet. (How’s that living in the “land of the FREE” working out for you?)

Find out how fast you type on Android – Curious about whether one keyboard lets you type faster than another on your Android? Now you can test their claims with this free app.


A sample of the test data you can access in Typist. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Outrage grows as Google axes some Chrome extensions – Their ire stems from Google’s forced disabling of extensions that shipped with paid software that have yet to be replaced, effectively hamstringing those services. Games, financial software, third-party Windows security suites, and productivity tools are among those affected. Some of the people who develop and use the extensions have registered their complaints on Google’s product forums.

Make your own little Lego movie (yes, even PG-13) – Skit has secured the assets of “The Lego Movie,” so that kids can make their own skits and adults can too. Oh, the possibilities.



Android Ransomware Encrypts Your Files. Don’t Pay Up! – In May, Bitdefender pointed us toward what might have been the first Android ransomware—that is, a malicious application that attempts to extort money from victims. Now, F-Secure tells SecurityWatch that a far more insidious ransomware has debuted on Android. Called Simplelocker, this Trojan encrypts your personal files and claims it will delete the keys necessary to decrypt them unless you pay up. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same strategy used by Cryptolocker to extort money from PC users. We’ve been expecting this style of attack to make the jump to mobile for some time, and that grim day has arrived.

Here’s why you should wipe your device before trading it in – Our devices have a lot of information about us, and we give them more and more every day. The information stored within our smartphones and tablets also links to a bigger entity, stored in some mysterious cloud somewhere. When you give up a device, either selling it or via trade-in, do you clear all the data? Here’s why you should — and how.

For Internet Explorer 11 users, no update now means no security fixes – Windows 7 users who’ve installed Internet Explorer 11 are required to install the KB2929437 update. This is the Internet Explorer 11 update that corresponds to the Windows 8.1 Update; it doesn’t just include security fixes for Microsoft’s browser. There are also some new and improved features, including a more capable WebGL implementation and some additional high performance JavaScript features. If users don’t install the update, Windows Update will not provide any more security fixes for their browser.

Evernote’s forum site hacked; Note Service untouched – Evernote’s forum site, which hosts 164,644 members, has been hacked, and the note-taking and archiving site sent an email to affected members Monday recommending they change their passwords if those credentials were reused on other sites. The company said the hackers stole profile data, password hashes, email addresses and birth dates. It did not say how many users were directly affected.

Hackers target Domino’s Pizza, demand $40,000 ransom for customer data – Hackers have targeted Domino’s Pizza servers, downloading details of over 650,000 customers, saying that the full database will be published unless the company pays a $40,000 ransom by today.

Back to the future: Domino’s app bakes-in voice ordering for pizzas – A new version of the Domino’s Pizza app tries to offer the convenience of voice ordering without having to speak with an actual human. Voice ordering is now available in the Domino’s apps for iOS and Android, courtesy of speech recognition capabilities from Nuance Communications.

That’s the ticket! Pile on more and more worthless  features – but securing user data – forget about it! It seems that a customer’s best interest doesn’t rise above the horizon with this company – or many others, for that matter.

Pinterest Hacked for Second Time in Four Months – Pinterest was hacked on Sunday when many Pinners’ feeds were spammed by posts and pins about weight loss. Messages flooding the website advertised “an Asian fruit that burns fat for you,” while other posts hinted at a secret substance that accelerates weight loss.

BlackBerry Launches BBM Protected For Confidential Instant Messaging – BlackBerry today began the rollout of its first eBBM suite product, which tailors its BBM instant messaging service to enterprise users. Today marks the debut of BBM Protected, FIPS 140-2 cryptographic library-enabled messaging, between users within the same enterprise, or between organizations who also use BBM Protected, for secure and confidential communications. Who cares about this? Specifically, companies or organizations working in regulated environments, like defense contractors, for instance.

Intelligence firm Stratfor wasn’t very smart about data security – Stratfor is a secretive, shadowy, somewhat-scary company that refers to itself as a “geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm.” The company attracted (unwanted) attention in 2011 for a website data breach, finding itself “pwned” by hackivist group AntiSec, and highly embarrased to boot. The incident and resulting data theft revealed details on hundreds of high-profile clients, all of which were uploaded to data-leak haven Wikileaks. Why was Stratfor so easily hacked? According to new reports based on leaked internal documents, Stratfor should pay as much attention to its own security as much as it does everyone else’s. (I’ve been in business for 40 years and I can assure you, a company that buys into it’s own bullshit pronouncements is par for the course).

Special Security Guide:

The paranoid computer user’s guide to privacy, security and encryption – Hack-proof computers don’t exist. That’s an important truth to keep in mind as you browse this guide to building a more secure computer. Covered here are myriad tools and services to help protect you from malware, spam, bot-nets and even that amorphous threat of government monitoring. But even if you implement every piece of advice mentioned here and more, you’ll still have, at best, a hack-resistant computer.

Ever hear the old chestnut “it’s not paranoia if they really are after you”? Not long ago, we published the first two instalments of a Globe and Mail Guide to Safer Computing. We had intended it to be a compendium of tools to make your digital life more secure, and planned to run it over the course of a week. Then the Heartbleed bug came to light, and we had to re-evaluate everything again.

As such, we pulled the guide, went through it to look for potential vulnerabilities in the recommended software, and updated the text accordingly. The re-edited version is presented below in its entirety. We will update it regularly with new software and/or whenever new catastrophic security flaws come to light. This is by no means an exhaustive guide. Indeed, if you have any suggestions to add, let us know.

Company News:

Microsoft launches Internet Explorer developer version; shows us the browser’s future – Microsoft has launched Internet Explorer Developer Channel, a beta version of IE that bundles together upcoming features. This is where IE’s upcoming changes will be made public for the first time.

Bitcoin security platform BitGo raises $12M in funding – Silicon Valley security firm BitGo is working with new ways to beef up Bitcoin safety to protect the digital currency from cyberthieves and hackers. And, investors appear to be showing their confidence in the company. BitGo announced Monday that it received $12 million in Series A financing.

Public unconvinced, Google pushes Glass at Work – As the relentless Glass parodies show, Google’s wearable still has a long way to go to engage the mainstream market, which might explain the latest push into more open-minded markets. Google has announced its first “Glass at Work Certified Partners”, five companies looking to use the head-mounted device for doctors in hospitals, journalists in the field, and other highly-targeted cases.

Amazon’s expected smartphone already faces skeptics – If Amazon announces a smartphone on Wednesday, as is widely expected, it will face an avalanche of skeptics. In a smartphone market heavily dominated by Android, iPhone and new sub-$100 unlocked phones, it’s clear that an Amazon smartphone wouldn’t be focused on grabbing smartphone market share any time soon.

Apple settles state AGs’ e-book antitrust lawsuit – Apple has agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit that sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for conspiring with book publishers to fix e-book prices. The class-action lawsuit’s resolution was revealed Monday in a brief court filing by US District Judge Denise Cote that ordered Apple and the attorneys general in 33 states that filed the lawsuit to submit a copy of the settlement agreement to the court within a month. Terms of the agreement were not revealed in the filing.

Games and Entertainment:

Kill countless hours aboard the pixelated USS Enterprise – Pixeltrek, an exquisitely detailed, pixelated look at the “Star Trek” USS Enterprise, lets you go boldly go where no man has gone before — like the guys’ restroom on the ship. By using the WASD keyboard keys, players can explore the Enterprise through the eyes of Lieutenant Commander Data. There’s really not much to Pixeltrek aside from exploration, but it’s super easy for even the casual Trekkie to spend countless hours lost aboard the ship exploring the various nooks and crannies.


Rovio Looks To Tap The Power Of The AllSpark With Angry Birds Transformers – Finnish casual game maker Rovio is back at it with a new title in its Angry Birds series, this one a branded partnership like the Star Wars version released previously. The new game pairs Blockbuster Transformers with the squabbling birds and pigs, in an upcoming game teased by the company with a new landing page and press release today. For Rovio, which has reportedly seen its profits drop 50 percent year-over-year between 2012 and 2013, the partnership might be a good indicator of the path back to growth.


Here’s why Destiny is a winner post-Alpha – I can’t wait for Destiny to be released for all platforms. It’s developed on an in-house engine, looks like a combination of Star Wars* and Halo, and it sounds nice too. And it’s only the Alpha – it’s going to look and feel BETTER than this when it’s eventually released in full.


Facebook focuses on games with iPad app refresh – Games are big business on Facebook, especially on tablets, so the network is updating its iPad app to give you easier access to games you like and offer recommendations for titles you might want to play. Facebook has been trying to convince app developers to integrate Facebook Login into their games so the company can improve its games platform, and that effort seems to be paying off. In a Monday blog post, Facebook’s Victor Medeiros said more than 70 percent of people who use the iPad app played a Facebook-connected game in the last three months.

This Is How Stunning GTA V Will Look on Next-Gen – That Rockstar’s sprawling crime epic Grand Theft Auto V is headed to next-generation consoles is no surprise. But just how good it looks on better hardware is impressive. Now, Digital Foundry has put together footage (above) from last-gen promos and the newest ones to show just how much prettier the title will be. Additional shots below. The new version will be out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC this fall.

Modder supercharges Watch Dogs graphics using files hidden in the PC game – With a little technical know-how you can fix Watch Dogs to look nicer and run better. The worst part? The files are already included in the PC version. They’re just hidden.


Game of Thrones finale piracy hits 2 petabytes in 12 hours – Once again, Game of Thrones has broken all torrenting records — records the show had already set itself. According to TorrentFreak — almost the unofficial industry body for this sort of information — the episode also saw “roughly” 1.5 million downloads in the first 12 hours after airing. That equates to around 2 petabytes of data. (For some scale on just how big a petabyte is, Deloitte Analytics offers this: it would take 233,000 DVDs to store a single PB.)

Off Topic (Sort of):

22 Videos of Things Exploding in Slow Motion – The people behind Mythbusters like to fancy themselves as educators who draw in viewers by applying the scientific method to unearth the truth behind urban myths, Hollywood trickery, and other common historical misconceptions. But we all know that’s not why people are watching. The only reason viewers stopped by was to see all the explosions! And they want to see them repeatedly; from multiple angles; and most importantly, in slow motion. They want to take in every last splintery, melty, crunchy, chaotic detail.


Goal-Line Tech Causes Controversy at World Cup – World Cup goals have been equipped with technology that can accurately determine whether or not a goal has been scored, and it was put to controversial use this weekend in the France vs. Honduras match. As noted by the BBC, the French team beat the Honduras national team 3-0 yesterday. But it was France’s second goal that caused all the controversy and required the goal-line technology. The ball first bounced off the goal post, and despite Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares’s best efforts, it crossed the goal line.


SCOTUS to weigh in on when online rants become criminal threats – The US Supreme Court on Monday announced that it will consider a case involving a thorny free speech issue in the digital age: at what point does a statement made on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter cross the threshold from protected free speech under the First Amendment to a criminally actionable threat?

This robot plans to hitchhike across Canada – Hitchbot will rely on the kindness of strangers as it thumbs a ride this summer. Along the way, it might teach us a thing or two about the human-robot relationship.


Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott deserve each other – What a pair they made, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Canada’s own Stephen Harper — Gollum and Mr. Potato Head — publicly thanking each other for their honesty in Ottawa last week. Unlike most world leaders — if that’s the right term — these two want to be frank; they will do nothing to stop global warming, they proudly declared, if it might hurt the economy. Not one dollar, certainly not one job, shall be lost in the fight to control climate change, the gravest issue we face today. The difference between us and them, we were reminded, is that other nations are hypocrites and we’re not. We’re upfront about it — the environment is not our issue. Other leaders may say they care; but they don’t.

Something to think about:

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

–    Thomas Sowell

Today’s Free Downloads:

ChrisPC DNS Switch – ChrisPC DNS Switch provides you a simple but effective graphic user interface to select the network adapter/card and change its corresponding DNS with the selected DNS from the preset lists or with a custom DNS. Features are diverse and give you the possibility to maintain your DNS database.

The software will make your life easier: You may want to protect your anonymity in which case you can select a server from the anonymous DNS preset group list. Or you may choose to use secure DNS servers that filter out websites that are potential threats to your PC (avoiding viruses, malware, trojans etc).

Furthermore with your children browsing the internet you might choose to switch to a Family Safe DNS server to steer clear of harmful websites like adult ones, or those that encourage violence, drugs and/or indecent behavior. In the end it might be that you just want a faster DNS than the one your internet provider has, in which case you might use one of the regular DNS preset group or one from your custom DNS group.


Change your computer DNS with just 1 click.

Set your favorite DNS or select one from the software’s DNS database.

The DNS Database contains presets grouped by type: regular DNS, secure DNS, family Safe DNS, anonymous DNS and custom DNS.

Protect your online experience by using a secure DNS server that filters out websites that are potentially threats to your PC (avoiding viruses, malware, trojans etc.)

Block adult websites or those that encourage violence, drugs and/or indecent behavior by selecting a Family Safe DNS.

Improve your privacy while you surf the internet by using an anonymous DNS.

Gain access to websites that are blocked or restricted in your country/area using a regular or anonymous DNS.

Saves your initial DNS settings so you can safely restore them back at any time.

Easy add and edit your own DNS address in the Custom DNS preset list.

Fast switch your DNS from systray popup menu.

Launch software on Windows boot.

Minimize ChrisPC DNS switch to systray



LastEnd Blackjack – New to the game of 21? Still trying to figure out when to hit and when to stand? Don’t waste your money learning at a real casino table. Play LastEnd Blackjack first is a much smarter option to improve your strategy and have a real chance of winning; because LastEnd Blackjack does not use real money.

LastEnd Blackjack features an online high scoreboard that allow you to compare your skills against other players from around the world.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

No cloud privacy or security: If NSA wants your cloud data ‘be big boys about it’ – Most of us don’t like the idea of intelligence agencies or law enforcement accessing our data stored in the cloud; that doesn’t mean your data is, by default, being accessed, but it’s likely a matter of principle. As NSA spying scandal revelations rolled out over the last year, many businesses and individuals decided they don’t want their data stored in the US. Countries want their cloud data to be stored locally in hopes of keeping it safe from US snooping. Whether you regard that as a privacy issue or a security issue, one security expert basically says, “Get over it.”No digital privacy or cloud security

Last month at the re:publica 14 conference held in Berlin, F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen and David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff  talked about digital privacy and the Digital Freedom Manifesto. Hypponen said the Snowden saga made it clear how much control western intelligence agencies have over the rest of the world. Part of the problem, he said, is that “we, the rest of the world, the 96% of the planet, keep using the services run by the 4% of the planet, services in the United States. Why? Because they are great.” He named Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft as a few examples.

That digital freedom campaign states, “We’re fed up with espionage, with having our private information gathered without our consent, with certain parties thinking they have the right to violate anyone’s privacy. They don’t. We decided it’s time to do something about it.”

The manifesto is divided into four parts: mass surveillance, digital persecution, digital colonization and right of access, movement and speech. You have until June 30 to help write it and then this crowdsourced manifesto will be sent to leaders around the world.

Congressman asks NSA to provide metadata for “lost” IRS e-mails – Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) has sent a formal letter to the National Security Agency asking it to hand over “all its metadata” on the e-mail accounts of a former division director at the Internal Revenue Service.

“Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment,” Stockman wrote on Friday.

The request came hours after the IRS told a congressional committee that it had “lost” all of the former IRS Exempt Organizations division director’s e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011.

The IRS has been under investigation since 2013, when the tax agency revealed that it selectively targeted political groups applying for tax-exempt status, particularly those with conservative and “Tea Party” leanings and later those with liberal and “Occupy”-related names.

Designers create a Faraday-cage cloak to foil NSA, other spies – Storing phones in odd places has become a favorite practice of those afraid of spies infiltrating their devices. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden famously asked visitors in Hong Kong to stash their phones in a refrigerator. And it’s not an unfounded fear: it is theoretically possible for even a phone that is powered off to be actively listening.

Tools for combating surveillance have become a new frontier for design experimentation. The latest is from the Austrian design firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and looks very much like a large Snuggie made from a comforter that also happens to block radio signals.


Protect yourself from drone detection with anti-thermal clothing – The sky will soon be littered with drones delivering packages, filming movies, delivering champagne, and taking selfies. What is a privacy-conscious human to do? The folks at the Privacy Gift Shop think they have the answer with their Stealth Wear lineup, which includes a burqa, hijab, and hoodie that shields the wearer from thermal imaging used by drones for detection. The burqa ($2,500) even comes with a hat that adds an extra layer of thermal image blocking.



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