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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Security:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – Ask.fm 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.

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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.

Features:

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.

Budget

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.

Transactions

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 27, 2014

  1. info@alandonson.com

    Dear Bill–occasionally  we disagree-but  quite  often we share  deep unity on core freedom issues–your  quip  on larry  page  was /is  perfect.Dont  ever  stop  fighting  for  freedom…..and  dont  ignore  consequences  either.