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.


1 Comment

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One response to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 19, 2014

  1. nikhilpatil125

    Reblogged this on NIXPLORE.