Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 16, 2014

CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to SNATCH SNOWDEN;  Gov’t must give up 5 secret surveillance docs for court to review, judge orders;  Internet users’ privacy upheld by Canada’s top court;  The Sims 4 Digs Emotionally Deeper;  Stay Safe While Staying Connected to Your Tablet;  How your phone gives you up to companies and criminals;  Turning your Android smartphone into a productivity hub;  Avoid installing bundleware with the help of Unchecky;  7 big-name PC games that now call Linux home;  How to block people and app invites on Facebook;  The 10 most popular enterprise tablets of all time;  GameOn Adds Real-Time Game Stats to Sports Group Chat;  Tweetz is a tiny Twitter client for Windows;  Six ways to protect your privacy on LinkedIn; LinkedIn Must Face Lawsuit Over Spammy E-Mails.

Turning your Android smartphone into a productivity hub – They’re small enough to fit in your pocket, many come with battery life that will take you through a full day (or longer), and the hardware inside probably trumps the laptop you were using a decade ago. Constant data connectivity and access to thousands of apps increases their usefulness ten-fold, yet many still under-utilize their handset, using it to scroll through Facebook and browse for nearby restaurants. With the right tools, however, you can break out of that pattern and transform your smartphone into a productivity hub for no matter where you’re at.

Stay Safe While Staying Connected to Your Tablet – Thanks to wireless technology, all-day battery life, and a bevy of useful apps, tablets give you the power to get online and stay productive from almost anywhere. But it only takes one security mishap to bring everything crashing down. Here’s how to protect your tablet, your data, and yourself when you’re working remotely.

How to block people and app invites on Facebook – Besides having to deal with those friends who feel the need to update their status for every little thing, one of the most annoying things about Facebook are the endless app and event invites. It’s time to put a stop to it. Here’s not only how you can block invites, but also individual users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Tweetz is a tiny Twitter client for Windows – One of the most popular ways to use Twitter on Windows is TweetDeck. With the ability to add multiple users, columns, see direct messages, and do all sorts of managing, you won’t be missing many features of the website itself. But what if you’re looking for a more clean and simple app that lets you use Twitter on one account? Tweetz fits the bill.

How to avoid installing bundleware with the help of Unchecky – Every now and then, some desktop apps still try to sneak annoying toolbars and other software past you during installation. Known as bundleware, the options to not install these additional programs can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. That’s where a utility called Unchecky can come in handy, by watching over third-party installations so that you don’t have to. It should work with most software and is well worth using when it does. Unchecky works in the background, monitoring the desktop programs you install. If a program tries to sneak in some extra bundleware, Unchecky will deselect the option for you.


Online shoppers across Europe now have new rights – Online shoppers in Europe now have new protections under laws that introduce a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’ for digital purchases, ban retailers from ‘pre-ticking’ boxes for optional extras, and more.

GameOn Adds Real-Time Game Stats to Sports Group Chat – The big game is about to start, but your friends aren’t there to watch it with you. That’s a bummer, but you can still talk about what that professional athlete should have done with the newly released GameOn for iPhone.


Stuck at work? Google lets you follow the World Cup on the sly – For those who love “the beautiful game,” being stuck at work during the 2014 FIFA World Cup is playing is akin to torture. But fear not: Google is providing some discreet World Cup coverage that will ease your torment, while allowing you to say quite truthfully to your boss, “I’m not watching soccer online! I’m just on Google!”


Google takes National Baseball Hall of Fame digital – Following on the heels of its graffiti endeavors, Google has taken the National Baseball Hall of Fame digital, giving anyone with an Internet connection the ability to view classic images and take a Street View walk through the exhibits.


Iraq bans social networking sites in bid against insurgents – Iraq has followed in the footsteps of some of its nearby neighbors, putting a blanket ban on all major social networking websites in a bid to prevent possible political uprising. Reports are coming in saying Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google have all been blocked.

Linux gaming rising: 7 big-name PC games that now call Linux home – For the first time in a long time, Linux gamers have a reason to smile. Gaming on the open-source operating system has long meant dabbling in Wine and arcane workarounds, but ever since Valve launched Steam for Linux just over a year ago the number of native Linux games has positively exploded.


Photos: The 10 most popular enterprise tablets of all time – Tablets have swept into the enterprise in recent years, transforming business processes and changing the ways people work. Here are the top 10 most popular.

Type more efficiently on your tablet with SwiftKey Keyboard – Jack Wallen shows you why the SwiftKey Keyboard is one of the finest third-party keyboards available for the Android platform.


Six ways to protect your privacy on LinkedIn – With over 300 million members LinkedIn is the business professionals network that connects you to potentially every other business professional around the world. With so many connections how do you protect your own LinkedIn connections whilst making sure that you share only the data you choose to share? You can get to all of the settings mentioned here by clicking on the Privacy and Settings link under your profile photo in the top right hand corner of the LinkedIn screen.


AT&T customer data compromised in scheme to unlock smartphones – Accounts were accessed without authorization between April 9 and April 21 by employees of one of AT&T’s service providers and would have provided access to Social Security numbers and dates of birth, AT&T said in a letter sent to customers. AT&T did not say how many customers were affected, but California law requires a company to disclose incidents that affect at least 500 customers in the state. AT&T declined to offer more details on the breach. AT&T has notified law enforcement of the breach. They are also offering affected customers one year of free credit monitoring.

Tapped in: How your phone gives you up to companies and criminals – A lot has been done to secure major Web services and Internet applications, particularly on the PC. But one of the lessons learned from our collaboration with NPR and Pwnie Express was that for every data leak that has been plugged by the major websites, another springs up on mobile. And mobile devices are the ones that face the greatest risk of surveillance and attack—not so much from the National Security Agency, but from companies and criminals looking to track and target individuals on a smaller scale.

P.F. Chang’s experiences credit and debit card breach – P.F. Chang’s has become the latest company to experience a data breach. The restaurant chain first learned of the breach on June 10th and it included credit and debit card data being compromised.

Yo Facebook, Ban Links With Fake Video Play Buttons – Oh, cute cat video? Let me watch that for a second in the News Feed. Click the play button. NOPE. It was a lie. Just a static image of a play button designed to dupe me into clicking out to some crappy website. Feed reading, interrupted. User experience, injured. Likelihood I’ll click legitimate videos in the future, diminished. Facebook. Seriously. This BS needs to stop. I get it.

Company News:

LinkedIn Must Face Lawsuit Over Spammy E-Mails – LinkedIn is in hot water with some users over its spammy marketing practices, and the problem isn’t going away as easily as the company would have liked. A federal judge this week ruled that LinkedIn users can move forward with a class-action lawsuit, which claims that the business-focused social network spammed their email contacts with annoying invitations to join the site.

Yelp, Zillow And Groupon Rise In Wake Of OpenTable Acquisition Announcement – The $2.6 billion acquisition of OpenTable by Priceline bounced a number of companies’ share prices today, including a 3.91 percent rise for Groupon, and a 2.39 percent bump for Zillow. Yelp, however, shot north 13.79 percent. Yelp has OpenTable integrated into its platform, powering restaurant reservations and making it more than an adjacent service. Yelp’s comparably higher market capitalization of $5.36 billion, makes it a harder piece to swallow, but still potentially in play.

Chinese gov’t reveals Microsoft’s secret list of Android-killer patents – For more than three years now, Microsoft has held to the line that it has loads of patents that are infringed by Google’s Android operating system. Microsoft has revealed a few of those patents since as it has unleashed litigation against Android device makers. But for the most part, they’ve remained secret. That long guessing game is now over. A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.

Games and Entertainment:, GamersGate kick off the PC game deals season with massive Summer Sales – E3 and all of its shiny new game launches may be winding down, but the gaming goodness is just getting started. Friday morning, games site launched its summer games sale, unloading a slew of games at dirt-cheap prices, with deals being swapped out day-by-day and even hour-by-hour.


CyberPower PC announces the ‘Syber,’ a Steam-centric gaming PC with Windows 8.1 – CyberPower PC has announced their new “Syber” Steam-centric gaming PC that will compete with Valve’s recently delayed “Steam Machine.” It will start at $599.99, and offer a higher end model.


Ridley Scott’s live-action Halo series will tell story of ‘mystery Spartan’ Agent Locke – Microsoft’s new original series, ‘Every Street United’, is coming very soon, but it won’t be the company’s only show to launch this year on the Xbox One. Fans of the Halo franchise are eagerly anticipating the new series being produced by Ridley Scott, and a couple of new details have emerged on what to expect.


Double Fine’s Broken Age Comes to iPad – Broken Age is a traditional point-and-click adventure, meaning you tap on the screen where you want the character to walk or interact with the environment. This simple control scheme is how you solve puzzles and explore the tale in Broken Age. There are two playable characters living in vastly different worlds and experiencing their own parts of the story simultaneously. You can switch back and forth between them at any time, but they don’t interact in any way.


The Sims 4 Digs Emotionally Deeper – The game, which allows a player to customize his or her character’s destiny, has evolved into a cultural phenomenon extending beyond merely ‘play’; Sociologists have written papers on the Sims and it has become fodder for writers, journalists and bloggers to explore cultural trends. In this newest iteration of the franchise, Sims 4 packs in new features, including the ability to allow characters to embody a wider range of emotional states beyond just sad or happy. The emotion component now affects not only how your Sim character executes tasks, but also how you as a player manage him or her. The Sims 4 releases on Sept. 2.


Off Topic (Sort of):

World’s worst pirates and their parents face walking the plank – Attorney-General George Brandis has heralded the end of a golden era for online piracy in Australia, declaring Australia the “worst offender” in the world. Australian Internet users, service providers, and file-sharing websites have been put on notice. But some argue insufficient attention is being paid to the needs of local TV and movie audiences keen to keep up with digital pop culture. “Australia, I’m sorry to say, is the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to [online] piracy, and I am very concerned that the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders and content creators are being compromised by that activity,” Senator Brandis said recently in Senate estimates hearings in Canberra. “We want to do something about that.” (Now, Oz may be first in a lot of things – great beer, great mates, great beaches, great scenery (if you catch my drift   Smile ) – but, first amongst the pirate crowd? Ahh, that would be China. As Mark Twain reportedly said – “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”) Recommended by Mal C.

The history of Android: The endless iterations of Google’s mobile OS – Android has been with us in one form or another for more than six years. During that time, we’ve seen an absolutely breathtaking rate of change unlike any other development cycle that has ever existed. When it came time for Google to dive in to the smartphone wars, the company took its rapid-iteration, Web-style update cycle and applied it to an operating system, and the result has been an onslaught of continual improvement.


Android’s home screen over the years.

Are we too connected? Intel, Microsoft, HP CEOs weigh in – Are our brains wired for data overload? Is it overload? Intel, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard CEOs have some thoughts.

Man who beat NSA in T-shirt parody case wins against Ready for Hillary – The Ready for Hillary organization, a group that’s laying the groundwork for a potential presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton, has backed down from its demand that a parody T-shirt and related items be removed from an online store. The T-shirt reads: “I’m Ready for Oligarchy,” a parody of the group’s slogan: “I’m Ready for Hillary.” The maker of the shirt, a Minnesota-based activist named Dan McCall, had previously won a bid to make and sell T-shirts parodying the National Security Agency.


The Daily Show tackles Google Glass ‘Explorer’ discrimination in San Fran – While Google Glass certainly offers a real world advantage in some areas – for example, in the customer service sector – one can argue that in other uses it’s just plain annoying and intrusive. Take the United States for example; a country where your social media updates can get you fired on the spot, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why some people have a problem with a “glasshole” filming them in a bar or restaurant without permission or knowledge of it happening. The issue has been widely discussed, and with good reason.

NASA figures out how to smell Uranus (and other planets) – A new technique lets NASA scientists look deep into the atmosphere of alien worlds — and figure out how bad they smell.


Motorcyclist who filmed, uploaded police flight video to serve hard time – In a bizarre (but somewhat unsurprising) twist of fate, a motorcyclist who recorded video of himself speeding away from a police car while wearing a court-ordered GPS anklet for an unrelated offense—and who then proceeded to post the video footage to YouTube—has been apprehended, tried, and sentenced to a four-year prison term.


Still from seven-minute police evasion video taken from camera mounted on Ali’s motorcycle.

Something to think about:

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

–    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Hybrid – Hybrid is a multi platform Qt based frontend for a bunch of other tools which can convert nearly every input to x264/Xvid/VP8 + ac3/ogg/mp3/aac/flac inside an mp4/m2ts/mkv/webm/mov/avi container, a Blu-ray or an AVCHD structure.

Here’s a general feature list:

extensive ability to configure x264s setting (with dependency checks)

ability to configure x265s setting

tagging support for mkv/mp4/mov

chapter support for mkv/mp4/Blu-ray

subtitle suppot for mkv/mp4/Blu-ray

separated audio-, video-, filter profiles, audio&video combi profiles

an integrated bitrate calculator

accepts vc-1 and avc raw input

manual&automatic creation&pass-through of chapters

ability to encode single title/chapters

a job-control

aac/mp3/ac3/ogg/flac/dts/pcm audio encoding with dcaenc/mencoder/ffmpeg/aften and different aac encoders

supported aac encoders: qaac, fdk, faac, fhg, neroaacenc, vo-aacenc

filtering through mencoder (+ some resize automation) or avisynth if the ‘avisynth extension’ is used

acceptable Input: avs and everything that mplayer/ffmpeg can decode

supported video output formats: MPEG-4 ASP (Xvid), MPEG-4 AVC (x264, cuda), VP8/VP9 (vpxenc), ProRes (ffmpeg), MPEG-4 HEVC (x265)

supported audio output formats: dts, ac3, ogg vorbis, mp3, aac, flac, pcm, opus, pass-through

supported containers: mov/mp4/mkv/m2ts/webm/avi, Blu-ray or a AVCHD structure

audio/video pass-through -> can be used for muxing, tagging, chapter editing

a lot of option to automate stuff



Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny, easy and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 52 languages using Google´s services.

Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese-simp, Chinese-trad, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish

Integrates Google Dictionary, Translate, Search, Suggest, Wikipedia 5-in-1 without installing them.


Smart Translation

Translate selected text with a hotkey

Full-Text Translation

Text suggestions

Single click without selected text

Translate a web page

Open File to Translate

Multilanguage List

Wikipedia Search


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Internet users’ privacy upheld by Canada’s top court – Canadians have the right to be anonymous on the internet, and police must obtain a warrant to uncover their identities, Canada’s top court has ruled.

The landmark decision from the Supreme Court Friday bars internet service providers from disclosing the names, addresses and phone numbers of their customers to law enforcement officials voluntarily in response to a simple request — something ISPs have been doing hundreds of thousands of times a year.

It also means parts of the cyberbullying and digital privacy bills that are currently before the House of Commons may be unconstitutional.


(Associated Press)

The Supreme Court says it’s reasonable for internet users to expect their online activities to be anonymous and for their subscriber information to be private.

CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to SNATCH SNOWDEN – As the whistleblowing NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden made his dramatic escape to Russia a year ago, a secret US government jet – previously employed in CIA “rendition” flights on which terror suspects disappeared into invisible “black” imprisonment – flew into Europe in a bid to spirit him back to America, the Register can reveal.

On the evening of 24 June 2013, as Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong intending to fly on to Cuba, an unmarked Gulfstream V business jet – tail number N977GA – took off from a quiet commercial airport 30 miles from Washington DC. Manassas Regional Airport discreetly offers its clients “the personal accommodations and amenities you can’t find at commercial airports”.

Early next morning, N977GA was detected heading east over Scotland at the unusually high altitude of 45,000 feet. It had not filed a flight plan, and was flying above the level at which air traffic control reporting is mandatory.

Gov’t must give up 5 secret surveillance docs for court to review, judge orders – In a key transparency case, a federal judge has ordered the United States government to hand over four orders and one opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) published in secret between 2005 and 2008. US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers will then review those documents in private.

The case, known as Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Justice, hinges on which, if any, documents from the FISC should be made public. The original lawsuit (PDF) dates back to October 2011, when the EFF asked the government to handover “all reports, memoranda, guidance, presentations, legal briefs, e-mails or any other record” pertaining to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

Following the Snowden revelations, we’ve learned that this is the crucial section of US law that governs the routine metadata handover program from Verizon (and presumably other telcos) to the US government. However, EFF v. DOJ case began nearly two years before Snowden.


Local journalist and artist Susie Cagle drew this sketch at the June 3, 2014 EFF v. DOJ hearing in Oakland.

Tech Giants Join Microsoft In Calling For US Gov To End Use Of Warrants To Demand Overseas Data – Microsoft’s case to prevent the United States government from using search warrants to demand data that is not stored in the United States has picked up a number of high-profile backers, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon, AT&T, and, recently, Apple and Cisco.

The final two filed a joint amicus brief, which details their protest of the practice. Microsoft lost its initial suit, as it expected, and has refiled the case. I reached out to both Apple and Cisco for additional comment.

The United States government had issued a warrant for data stored on the company’s servers in Ireland. Microsoft didn’t think that it was reasonable for a United States-specific warrant to apply to overseas and extra-national data. As TechCrunch previously reported, it’s a reasonable point.

What’s noteworthy now is the amount of backing that Microsoft has picked up. More than a trillion dollars in market capitalization are behind the cessation of this specific practice. That’s institutional heft of the material sort.



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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 16, 2014

  1. Unchecky shows up as a virus on my virus filters. Is it really safe?

    • Hi Jackie,

      Yes, Unchecky is a safe application.

      A quick run through with Virus Totalunchecky.exe – (VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware), will relieve any anxiety you may be feeling.