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.

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