Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 10, 2014

Organised cybercrime groups are now as powerful as nations;  How to encrypt your Android communications to prevent spying and stop thieves;  $445 billion: Bloated BS or the true cost of cybercrime?  Troubleshoot a dead Internet connection;  Get an Apple TV and $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99;  Get Facebook’s Chat Heads in Chrome with ;  The Android ‘toxic hellstew’ survival guide;  2014 DDoS Trends – Botnet Activity is up by 240%;  BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE (free);  Amazon to rival PayPal as payment middleman;  Survey: Over half of cable subscribers would leave if they could;  Woman Sues Hospital After STD Diagnosis Posted on Facebook;  Caution: This site will trigger your midlife crisis;  GoDaddy Files For $100M IPO;  PlayStation TV Coming To US And Canada This Fall For $99. 

Organised cybercrime groups are now as powerful as nations – Dozens of cybercrime groups have reached the level of sophistication where their technical capabilities are on a par with those of a nation-state, it has been claimed. Gangs are capable of building complex systems aimed at stealing money and intellectual property on a grand scale, costing almost the same to the global economy as counterfeiting or the narcotics trade — more than $400bn a year.

How to encrypt your Android communications to prevent spying and stop thieves – If you’re concerned that the interception of your phone calls by world leaders, human rights groups, or your spouse may create a diplomatic incident, you can encrypt your calls and texts. Open source, mobile privacy developer, the Guardian Project, has been working on a number of solutions. One is Ostel, an encrypted voice-calling tool that’s in public test-bed mode. You can experiment with it for free by creating an account at the Ostel website, and downloading and configuring calling-app CSipSimple. Silent Circle’s Silent Phone and Silent Text apps are robust alternatives. Silent Circle is behind Blackphone, the upcoming hardened Android phone.

The Android ‘toxic hellstew’ survival guide – Android itself is a strong operating system, but the way that the platform is delivered to users is critically flawed. Here’s how to stay safe.

Survey: Over half of cable subscribers would leave if they could – Citing a survey from market research company cg42, the Washington Post reports that 53 percent of those polled would leave their cable provider if they felt it was possible to do so. The survey also finds that 73 percent of respondents feel that cable companies “are predatory in their practices and take advantage of consumers’ lack of choice.” Meanwhile, 72 percent of survey participants expressed concern that the ever-increasing size of cable companies will hurt, not help, consumers.

Locked Out? This App Stores Your Keys Online – Some of you just aren’t going to be comfortable with an app that stores an image of your house key online so you can quickly get a replacement key cut. Some of you will think this is a great idea. Most of you have clicked away from this article already. If you’re still here, let’s move on.


Get an Apple TV and $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99 – Best Buy has the Apple TV and a $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99 shipped, plus sales tax where applicable. (I’m not sure if this same freebie is available in-store, so call before you drive over.) So, basically, same price as always on the box, but a bonus gift card to sweeten the deal. Assuming you plan to use such a streamer for things like movies and TV shows, the card lets you enjoy a handful of rentals on the house.

Troubleshoot a dead Internet connection – I hate network problems. They’re the worst. When they happen in my house, I tend to use a vocabulary that would shock Quentin Tarantino. A wide variety of problems can block Internet (and local network) communications. Your first job is to find the cause. Follow these steps in this order, and you should at least figure out what is the causing the problem.

Get Facebook’s Chat Heads in Chrome with – Facebook’s Chat Heads let you read and reply to messages when using its mobile app without leaving your news feed or whatever it is you happen to be doing in Facebook when a message arrives. Now, a Chrome extension called (not be be confused with fascism) brings Facebook’s chat heads to the desktop. With installed, when you get a Facebook message, a Chat Head pops up along the right edge of the page you are viewing in Chrome. Just as with Facebook’s mobile app, the Chat Head features your friend’s Facebook profile picture. Mouse over the Chat Head and a small window appears to the left with the sender’s username and the text of his or her most recent message.


Facebook to launch Slingshot, yet another photo messaging app – The company said Monday that it would soon release a new app, called Slingshot, “to share everyday moments with lots of people at once.” It put the app out on Apple’s App Store briefly on Monday, but that was an accident, a Facebook spokesman said via email. The actual Slingshot app will be ready soon, Facebook said. The app seems to be an attempt to take on both Snapchat and Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Woman Sues Hospital After STD Diagnosis Posted on Facebook – Facebook is a great place to brag about all the good things happening in your life — like a new relationship, job, or baby. But what if something totally embarrassing — like your syphilis diagnosis — was posted to the social network by someone hell bent on ruining your life? It happened to one Ohio woman, who is now suing University of Cincinnati Medical Center after a screenshot of her private medical record, including the syphilis diagnosis, was posted to a Facebook group known as “Team No Hoes.”

Caution: This site will trigger your midlife crisis – Not to alarm you, but you’re really not getting any younger. No doubt you’ve been in denial for some time now. Don’t fret, you’re not the only one. We’re all just blips in time. Someone intent on making us all feel ancient created a Web app called “You’re Getting Old” to remind us of our own mortality — in a really fun way — by showing us interesting facts and stats personalized to our time on Earth.


Why wait for iOS 8? Seven cloud-friendly apps for your photos – Big improvements to iCloud are coming which promise to make it easier to keep photos neatly organized and easily accessible in the cloud. But there are a number of iOS photo apps that have already embraced the cloud.

Gigabyte BRIX mini PC launches with Bay Trail – Gigabyte is back again with a new small form factor (mini) PC, and with it comes the inclusion of Intel’s Bay Trail processor and Intel HD graphics. The BRIX GB-BXBT-2807 is available now for approximately $130 USD.


The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor gives sage advice for your garden – The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor helps you monitor your plant’s health.  It reads moisture, ambient light, and ambient temperature from the soil near your plant and gives you care advice on all of that and fertilizer and misting. Click through for more details on how this sensor can guide you to proper plant care.


Bulletproof blanket seeks to shield kids during school shootings – School shootings are a tragic reality. While much discussion has centered around prevention, ProTecht, a protective and safety products company in Oklahoma, has created a product it hopes kids will use in case such a tragedy strikes their schools. The Bodyguard Blanket is designed to offer a temporary shelter during dangerous situations, particularly school shootings. (What a despicable government that it would allow children to be at an undue risk of being murdered at school in the first place. Shameful and cowardly!)


Deadly school shootings since Columbine – Fifteen years after the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., a look back at other deadly shootings at U.S. schools and college campuses.


How big of a threat is Facebook’s ad play to Google? – Facebook is ramping up its advertising services and tools, targeting SMBs as well as large corporations. We examine whether the social network could become a major threat to Google.


Google is as Google does – If you’re going to use Google’s services, then you must accept that you are going to reside within that ecosystem and Google has the right to manage it and manipulate it as they see fit, in order to maximize revenue.

Report: 2014 DDoS Trends – Botnet Activity is up by 240% – When we started working on this report back in January, our goal was to provide a recap of 2013 DDoS trends. However, the offenders had other plans. And so, just as we were preparing for the report to come out, we started encountering new types of DDoS events which were too significant to overlook. With this new information in hand, we went back to our drawing boards and started re-sampling almost from scratch. The result is an up-to-date overview of the DDoS threat landscape as it stands today; a report that analyzes many of the prominent DDoS trends while also exploring some less known aspects of DDoS activity. You can go ahead and download the full report here.

$445 billion: Bloated BS or the true cost of cybercrime? – The cost of cybercrime, according to a new study, is about $400 billion with a $200 billion bloat padded on each side so the global figures range from $375 to $575 billion. $445 billion as the cost for global cybercrime may be accurate, but take that figure with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Apple Makes It Harder For In-Store Marketers To Track You In iOS 8 – Apple has enabled MAC address randomization in iOS 8 (from Frederic Jacobs via HackerNews), which means it’s harder for marketers to keep track of your comings and goings in or around public Wi-Fi networks. In the updated software, while your iPhone is scanning for Wi-Fi networks, it assigns a “random, locally administered” MAC address, which is typically a constant, unique identifier attached to your phone’s wireless network interface.

Kids with operators manual alert bank officials: “We hacked your ATM” – Two 14-year-old Canadians hacked a Bank of Montreal ATM after finding an operators manual online. The manual showed how to gain administrative control of the device, according to a media report published over the weekend. Graciously, the bank officials typed a letter on bank letterhead asking the boys’ school to excuse their tardiness. The note was remarkable. Under US laws, and most likely under Canadian law as well, the unauthorized access of an ATM is a violation of a variety of statutes, regardless of the intentions or ages of those who do it.

Chinese army group hacks US satellite partners: Crowdstrike – Putter Panda, a cyber espionage group linked to the Chinese military has been targeting US and European government partners in the space and satellite industry, according to a report by security group, Crowdstrike.

Company News:

Amazon to rival PayPal as payment middleman – The online retailer Amazon is reportedly poised to begin rivaling PayPal by offering a payment ‘middleman’ service for websites to utilize. Customers who store card details with the company, as the vast majority do, will be able to use those cards through Amazon to pay for goods online through third-party sites. As with PayPal, Amazon will charge a small fee on each transaction. According to Reuters, the service will go live on Monday and make it even easier for Amazon to act as a middleman between customers and the many successful third-party sellers on the site. These currently comprise 40% of all sales conducted through the company.


Facebook Poaches PayPal President David Marcus To Run Messenger, Maybe Monetize It With Payments – Facebook doesn’t show ads in Messenger or WhatsApp. Instead, payments could be the key to earning money on chat, especially in the developing world where ad rates are low. If that’s the strategy, Facebook just got the perfect executive to lead the charge. It’s poached PayPal’s president David Marcus to run its Messenger unit.

Netflix refuses to comply with Verizon’s “cease and desist” demands – Netflix said Monday it will not stop telling consumers that Internet service providers are to blame for poor streaming video. Last week, Verizon sent a cease and desist letter to Netflix threatening a lawsuit unless Netflix immediately stops sending notices to customers (like the one at the top of this story) blaming Verizon for poor quality. Verizon also demanded a list of all customers who received such messages and evidence that each message was justified.

GoDaddy Files For $100M IPO – Today GoDaddy, the popular domain and web-services company, filed its S-1 document to go public. The company has seen quick revenue growth in recent years and massive losses measured using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The company’s 2013 revenue totaled $1.13 billion. The company lost $199.88 million during that period. The company had revenue of $910 million in 2012, and around $894 million in revenue in 2011.

Games and Entertainment:

Battlefield Hardline Beta sign-up goes live: here’s how to play today – This afternoon the folks at DICE, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts have released the Battlefield Hardline Beta for all to join in on. This is a closed Beta, which means not everyone in the world is invited in, but is also open in the sense that you’ll be able to stream your gameplay live and upload gameplay videos at will. You’ll want to begin by heading to the closed beta signup page at Battlefield dot com. This page asks for your date of birth and for you to select your platform. You’ll need to log in to Origin as well as the PlayStation Network depending on your choices here.


PlayStation TV Coming To US And Canada This Fall For $99 – The console will be compatible with many of the games currently available on the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s portable game console. Those will be for available for download on the PlayStation store. PlayStation TV owners will also be able to log in to PlayStation Now, Sony’s upcoming Netflix-like service that lets people “stream” games from the cloud. The service will have approximately 100 PlayStation 3 titles available as well as more than 20 free games made specifically for PlayStation Now.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End officially unveiled, and it looks incredible – We don’t yet know much about the game, but from the short teaser and the subtitle “A Thief’s End,” we do know that the game will take a darker tone than is customary for the series. Considering The Last of Us leads are now running the Nathan Drake show, and TLOU is anything but happy, this potential turn wouldn’t be unexpected. What would be a little unexpected, though, is if the actual gameplay graphics looked like the teaser below.


Xbox One coming to Russia September 5 – Microsoft has been slowly but surely releasing their console into new markets. The newest addition to this list will be Russia. Microsoft will offer the Xbox One with and without the Kinect, and everything else that you’d expect to be included with the system, such as an Xbox Live 14-day trial card. China, which had formerly banned foreign video game consoles, has lifted their restrictions and has also allowed the Xbox One to be sold in their country starting this September.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain E3 trailer’s majesty – If you expected anything less than a picked-and-prodded mini-movie for the next Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain trailer, you don’t know Hideo Kojima. This trailer takes up where the game Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes left off, making certain you understand that this universe isn’t about to get smaller.


SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker helps train pro gamers – SteelSeries has just announced a new kind of gaming peripheral that features some fancy eye tracking technology. But unlike its more popular devices for common gamers, the Sentry Eye Tracker pro is squarely targeted at training the next generation of competitive gamers.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Quadrocopter pilot gets attacked by drone-hating woman: Woman accused him of taking pictures of people with “helicopter plane.” – The man originally posted the video to YouTube, but it has been taken down by the service, and his account has been suspended “as a violation of YouTube’s policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully, or threaten.” Calling him a “pervert” after calling police to report him for “taking pictures of people with a helicopter plane” and “trying to upload them,” the woman, 23-year old Andrea Mears, lashed out at the pilot as he was putting his quadrocopter away, knocking him to the ground and tearing his shirt.

Social equality debate triggers blowup between venture capitalists – A talk on San Francisco’s shortcomings leads to verbal pyrotechnics between angel investor Ron Conway and former Facebooker Chamath Palihapitiya.

DARPA Z-Man project shows how man can climb like geckos – If imitation is the best form of flattery, then geckos should feel honored. Taking inspiration from what it claims are the world’s best climbers, DARPA’s Z-Man project demonstrated how a human of rather heavy constitution can scale up a vertical wall using nothing other than a pair of paddles.


Warning: Apple HealthKit risks driving up medical costs – How can seeing more information about your health possibly be bad? Here’s how, says the Lown Institute’s Right Care Weekly newsletter. The Lown Institute, founded by Nobel Laureate Dr. Bernard Lown, works to curb medical overtreatments. And they make some convincing arguments about overtreatment in general.

Classic! Hear Bach played on a dot-matrix printer – If you liked the “Back to the Future” theme and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” played on computer drives, you’re going to love this dot-matrix printer covering Bach.


Tesla offers its charging tech to the world, but there’s a catch – Tesla hasn’t shared its fast-charging technology until now, but offering it further complicates the already-hot debate about standards for connecting electric vehicles to chargers.

Something to think about:

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

–      Groucho Marx

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avira AntiVir Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.



BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE – Tor helps keep you safe online.. WASTE enables secure content exchange. A usability enhanced Tor+WASTE+darkRendezvous(). An installer, for Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Win7 32/64, Linux (WINE).


4 Modes, Censored Client, Bridge(default), Relay and Exit – chosen by you at install time.

Be sure to check-out the screen shots.

Friendly support provided.

Streamlined Installation Package.

No additional configuration necessary for server, client or darkNet()

Auto Firefox config.

Optional Tor Relaying, bandwidth restricted. From 0->100mb or 0->500mb per day – its your choice.

Regularly updated

Screen shots may differ due to our continuous development cycle.



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Deutsche Telekom to follow Vodafone’s intercept disclosure – Deutsche Telekom, Germany’s largest telco, says it will release a report revealing how many surveillance requests its gets from governments around the world. The report, when released, will be the first time Deutsche Telekom has detailed how many government requests to access its network it receives outside of Germany. The operator last year published a report disclosing government surveillance requests for Germany, however it hasn’t done the same for its other operations in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

A Deutsche Telekom spokeswoman was quoted by The Guardian as saying the company intends to publish “something similar to Vodafone” and is currently checking what its national companies can disclose.

A startling detail from Vodafone’s first report was that in six unnamed countries in which it operates, authorities had installed direct access equipment onto the operator’s network, meaning they can conduct surveillance without any oversight.

Vodafone’s report links to national data where it has been previously published and disclosed its own data where national authorities approved their release, however many countries did not permit the operator to release figures. Vodafone’s report did reveal that Italian authorities made 605,000 requests for example, but Vodafone argues those numbers provide an incomplete picture – one reason why it’s against operators shouldering the burden of disclosure.

To defeat encryption, feds deploy the subpoena – It’s not shadowy spies or engineers from the National Security Agency secretly reading the hundreds of tips about government fraud that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has received in less than a month.

Instead, it’s lawyers from the President Barack Obama administration employing the power of the administrative subpoena in a bid to siphon data from POGO’s encrypted submission portal. POGO’s site encourages whistleblowers to use Tor as the gateway and has garnered more than 700 tips about abuse and mismanagement at the US Veterans Administration after less than a month of operation.

“If they are successful, that defeats the purpose of trying to improve our online security with encryption,” Joe Newman, the project’s communications director, said in a  telephone interview.

The administrative subpoena, which does not require the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause, comes as the number of so-called drop boxes from media organizations and other whistleblower groups is on the rise in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. The Washington Post and the Guardian were among the latest to deploy drop boxes on June 5. But no matter how securely encrypted the boxes might be, the subpoena is an old-school cracking tool that doesn’t require any electronic decryption methods.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 9, 2014

A ‘Nightmare Scenario:’ Vodafone Reveals Huge Global Snooping Program;  What Europe’s new ‘right to be forgotten’ online means;  Cable companies bankroll fake consumer groups to end net neutrality;  How to stream the World Cup;  6 Guaranteed Ways to Get More Followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+;  Six tips to get the best out of Skype;  Wrap Up Father’s Day With Gifts Under $50;  Locked out? Get back into Windows 8 by resetting your password;  Nostalgia break: Watch this ’90s PC booting up;  You should know about this malware exploit before buying a Smart TV;  10 streaming films perfect for summer;  Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news;  The 10 Most Anticipated Games at E3 2014;  Google Is Making it Harder for the NSA to Grab Its Data;  Woman charged with wiretapping for filming cops wins $57,000 payout.

A ‘Nightmare Scenario:’ Vodafone Reveals Huge Global Snooping Program – Just a day after the first anniversary of Edward Snowden’s watershed surveillance leaks, the world’s second-largest mobile phone company has announced that numerous government agencies have direct and open access to the conversations of its 381 million customers across the globe. Privacy advocates are calling it a “nightmare scenario.” U.K. civil liberties advocate Shami Chakrabarti said to the Guardian that the fact that governments were able to “access phone calls at the flick of a switch” created a situation that was “unprecedented and terrifying.” Vodafone said it intends to call for an end to “direct access to an operator’s communications infrastructure without a lawful mandate.”

Jimmy Wales Blasts Europe’s “Right To Be Forgotten” Ruling As A “Terrible Danger” – Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has spoken out against a controversial ruling by the European Court of Justice that requires Google to consider information removal requests from individuals whose data its search engine has indexed. In comments emailed to TechCrunch, Wales described the ruling as censorship of knowledge — pure and simple. “In the case of truthful, non-defamatory information obtained legally, I think there is no possibility of any defensible ‘right’ to censor what other people are saying,” he said. He also warned the ruling may make it more difficult to make “real progress on privacy issues.” (Now why would I be convinced by someone like Wales who has an equity interest in the outcome? Wales is not a guardian of the public interest by any measurement.)

What Europe’s new ‘right to be forgotten’ online means – Can you really be forgotten on the Internet? The European Union (EU) believes so, and recently ordered Google, Bing, and Yahoo to make it happen. The court’s decision could fundamentally remake search engines, impact journalism and lead to all manner of thorny issues related to censorship, privacy, and the public’s right to know. To make sense of the right-to-be-forgotten issue—including how it potentially impacts Web users—here’s a look at some questions you may have about the European court’s decision.

Cable companies bankroll fake consumer groups to end net neutrality – Cable companies that stand to benefit the most from an end to net neutrality have been bankrolling so-called “consumer advocacy” groups that aim to kill it. Such non-profits like Broadband for America and the American Consumer Institute (ACI), both of which claim to be “independent consumer advocacy groups” and have been fighting against classifying ISPs as a utility (a move that would make it easier to enact net neutrality rules in the future), have been shown to be heavily funded by the cable industry.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Apple wants you to feel inadequate – If you don’t have a “verse” and you don’t have fitness “goals,” you are not a real, modern human being. At least that’s what Apple’s latest ads are telling you.

Chromebooks Get Offline Support for Google Play Movies, TV – Good news, Chromebook users. You can now watch movies and TV shows from Google Play offline. The Web giant this week rolled out an update for its Play Movies and TV Chrome App, bringing support for offline playback. This means you’ll now be able to download movies and TV shows to your device, and watch them any time, even when you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection.

Six tips to get the best out of Skype – If you have been using Skype for some time, you might have missed some of the new features that have been introduced in recent releases. Here are six cool things you can do with Skype to improve your experience.

How Steam in-home streaming can turn your old laptop or Windows tablet into a PC gaming force – The new in-home streaming feature Valve recently introduced in its blockbuster Steam gaming platform can turn any laptop into a full-fledged gaming machine—even older notebooks with ho-hum power, or Linux or OS X machines or Windows 8 tablets. It’s all done by streaming games from your primary gaming PC to any computer in your house in OnLive-like fashion, but Steam’s in-home streaming only works on your home network—and it’s dead simple to set up. Here’s how to start playing all sorts of modern games—Wolfenstein? Watch Dogs? Transistor? Why not!—on your clunker of a computer.

Wrap Up Father’s Day With Gifts Under $50 – Whether your dad is putting together his own PC or is still trying to send a text with his smartphone, there are tech gifts that he’s sure to love. Perhaps a gadget to improve that summer cookout and cold beer? Or some tech to help him get through the work day (personalized animated GIF, anyone?). No matter what he’s doing, we have gifts that will be a big help – and maybe help cut the cable bill (If you’re not his favorite child after that, we don’t know what to tell you.)

6 Guaranteed Ways to Get More Followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ – Follower count is often considered one of the vainest of vanity metrics. I can relate. I’ve had my fair share of ego tied to that golden number on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn—pointing out my follower growth to a friend one day and archiving emails just as fast as I could when growth doesn’t come. Still, despite the vanity, there is value in follower count. While it seems like a smug number to chase, followers have a proportional impact on how far and wide your message spreads and the volume of how you convert.

Locked out? Get back into Windows 8 by resetting your password – A forgotten Windows password isn’t the end of the world. You don’t have to trash the computer, or even perform a dreaded factory restore. There are many ways to remove or reset a Windows password, but how quickly and easily it can be done depends on the situation.

Leak suggests Google will soon unveil Nearby location tracking service – According to a report from Android Police, the company’s next big Play Services update will include a new feature called Nearby. Apparently, it will enable you to connect with people, places, and things (the definition of a noun!) near you. You’ll be able to set actions around any of these criteria through Google Now, too.

Google Now can tell you to get off buses and trains at your stop – The option to set the alarm appears when the app knows you are on public transport and where your destination is. Tapping the alarm sets it to notify you shortly before you reach the most appropriate stop on your route for where you are headed. The app can even work out approximately when you should arrive at the stop so the alarms sound with a decent amount of accuracy. The feature will be available in all of the countries where Google Now is aware of the public transport networks including the US, UK and most European countries.

Turn any browser tab into a basic text editor – If you’re looking for a quick-and-dirty way to take notes on your PC, you can’t beat using your browser. No, I’m not talking about online tools like Google Keep, Word Online, or any other text-editing Web app. An easier way to turn your browser into a note-taking machine is to use a little snippet of HTML code that creates an offline notepad in your browser. Coding, you might ask with a shiver? Don’t worry, it’s beyond simple to use. Sorry, Internet Explorer fans, your browser of choice won’t play nice with this piece of HTML.

How to stream the World Cup – People all over the world are preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The tournament is set to begin on June 12 in Brazil and will run through the middle of July. In the United States, all 64 matches will be broadcast live in English on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN 2, and in Portuguese on ESPN Deportes. To find out what network will broadcast the tournament in your country, I recommend checking out the website LiveSoccer. As for those of us in the United States, there are a few different options for streaming the games when you are out and about.

Nostalgia break: Watch this ’90s PC booting up – Were you computing in the early 1990s? This relic turning on will send you on a sentimental trip down computer memory lane.


For the best sound quality, does the format really matter? – High-resolution audio is frequently touted as the best possible way to experience music. Maybe, but I also think that standard resolution CDs and 320 MP3s, ALAC, and FLAC files can sound good, really good. Before we dive into the numbers I want to make the point that sound quality is first determined by the quality of the gear used to record, mix and master music, and perhaps even more important, the skill and artistry of the engineers.


You should know about this malware exploit before buying a Smart TV – A new exploit in Smart TVs has been discovered, which affects various smart TVs and allows a would-be hacker to potentially exploit your entire system. The threat lasts as long as you use an affected app, but once the malware is placed, the app itself is compromised. Called a “Red Button Attack”, the vulnerability is already widespread in Europe, and could be working its way to the US and other territories.


We “will be paying no ransom,” vows town hit by Cryptowall ransom malware – The town manager of a hamlet in south eastern New Hampshire has defied demands that he pay a ransom to recover police department computer files taken hostage by Cryptowall, a newer piece of malware that encrypts hard drive contents of infected machines until victims pay for them to be decrypted. “Make no mistake, the Town of Durham will be paying no ransom,” Town Manager Todd Selig was quoted as saying by CBS Boston news. Police department computers for the town of almost 15,000 residents were reportedly infected Thursday after an officer opened what appeared to be a legitimate file attachment to an e-mail. By Friday morning, widespread “issues” were hitting the department computer network. It was shut down by noon that day to prevent the infection from spreading to other systems.


XPocalypse, not now – Two months after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, the catastrophic wave of exploits security experts expected to wash over the aged operating system have failed to materialize.

What data breaches teach us about the future of malware: Your own data could dupe you – When a eBay suffered a massive data breach a few weeks ago, most of the attention revolved around the compromise of passwords and the vulnerabilities in the site’s security. While those are legitimate concerns, they obscure the most glaringly weak link in the security chain: people. Indeed, it was not a sophisticated exploit that facilitated the eBay breach, but an old-fashioned con. It’s been determined that as many as 100 eBay employees were likely victims of a social engineering scheme: an attack where the perpetrators arm themselves with enough information to pass themselves off as a known and trusted individual or organization and convince the victim to reveal valuable personal information—in the case of the eBay employees, their logins.

KnowBe4 backs its training with a crypto-ransom guarantee – KnowBe4, a company that offers security awareness training, is so confident it can teach users to protect themselves, it’s offering to pay the ransom if a customer falls victim to a ransomware scheme. It may be more of a publicity stunt than anything else, but the guarantee is nothing to scoff at. It is a simple truth that users are the weakest link in the security chain, and it makes sense that an investment in security awareness training should yield as much or more benefit than an equal investment in yet another layer of defense—a layer that can be easily bypassed by preying on human nature and tricking the user into doing something they shouldn’t.

Company News:

Uber claims $17 billion valuation, a new record for tech startups – Following a new $1.2 billion round of funding, the smartphone-fueled car service Uber announced Friday that it now has an estimated valuation of $17 billion, believed to be a new record for tech startups. By comparison, publicly traded companies like Best Buy, Twitter, and Yahoo have market capitalizations of $10 billion, $19 billion, and $36 billion, respectively. Uber, which began four years ago in San Francisco as a black car service, has gone through rapid growth.

Microsoft stock price hits 52-week high, suggests market approves of Nadella – The stock market is a finicky beast. While daily movements in share price often defy conventional logic, broader trends are generally representative of the confidence that the markets have in an organization. With that in mind, Microsoft’s stock has hit a 52-week high today at $41.66, suggesting that Wall Street appears to approve of Nadella’s direction for the company.

Google unseats Microsoft as the U.S. browser powerhouse – Google has unseated rival Microsoft as the leading browser maker in the U.S. for the first time, Adobe said this week, citing data from its analytics platform. For April, Google accounted for 31.8% of all browser usage in the United States. Meanwhile, Microsoft owned a 30.9% share.

Games and Entertainment:

10 streaming films perfect for summer: Just add popcorn – School is out and summer is finally here, that time when popcorn blockbusters and irreverent comedies reflect a general sense of lightness and freedom in the air. Even Netflix and Hulu are in the mood for summer, introducing a series of refreshing movies for your lazy viewing pleasure.


El Dorado (1967)   ★★★★☆

The 10 Most Anticipated Games at E3 2014 – These aren’t necessarily the most interesting or biggest games at E3, though. These are the games we know about. A half dozen press conferences into the show could signal a slew of completely new titles ready to catch peoples’ attention. Heck, Mortal Kombat X was only announced this week, and it’s on our list. Which is a great reason to read all of our E3 coverage through the next week as we look for the biggest upcoming games, both known and unknown.


Try out Super Smash Bros Wii U in select Best Buy stores next week – Best Buy’s website currently has a special page dedicated to showing everyone the dates, times, and locations that Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Wii U will be available. Like last time, there will be two dates the games will be available, so if you’re not around on June 11, you can try on June 14.


Record-Holding Video Game Collection Goes to Auction Block – Any gamers out there with a hefty amount of cash to spare? Michael Thommason, the current Guinness Book of World Records holder for the “World’s Largest Video Game Collection,” has officially put all the titles in his collection up for auction. If you’re curious just what it takes to achieve that milestone — and just how many games you’ll be getting if you win the GameGavel auction — Thommason puts his total count somewhere north of 11,000 titles.

Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week’s must-know gaming news – This is it—the last week before E3. The “calm before the storm” was a lie. Instead, we had a ton of trailers and announcements this week, as publishers try to get out ahead of the E3 news onslaught. Mortal Kombat X, Forza Horizon 2, The Witcher 3, Lord of the Rings—we’ve got them all here.


Is that zombie game good for your moral compass? – A new kind of computer game lets players kill, or help, each other, giving gamers a mirror to examine their morals.


A moment of decision in DayZ.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch Microsoft’s smart home of the future, from 1999 – The video, created in 1999, shows how the company was imagining a smart home of the future back then. In 1999 most of us were thinking about Ross and Rachel from Friends, Y2K and how much better our new 56 kbps dial-up modem was going to be for internet porn. But Microsoft was thinking about the future, a future in which the internet and smart devices would be ubiquitous and they’d all come together into a smart home.


CIA joins Twitter, gets a few laughs with its first tweet – Think of the CIA, and the first things that come to mind probably aren’t especially flattering towards it. The Central Intelligence Agency has been at the centre of numerous controversies over the years – from extraordinary rendition to intelligence failures, and allegations of human rights violations. As part of its continuing efforts to improve how Americans, and those in other countries, see the CIA, the agency has now joined Twitter – and its first tweet was just about perfect.


Let’s Talk About Sex Baby, Because The Internet – A global survey of thousands of parents showed that over 80% of them blamed the internet for teaching their kids about sexuality before they did. Most parents are now talking to their kids at an average of around age 10 about sex and relationships before the internet does, according to the survey. That’s a full five years younger than the previous generation. Nearly half of all parents report never even having had the sex talk with their own parents when they were growing up.


Woman charged with wiretapping for filming cops wins $57,000 payout: Settlement follows appeals court declaring “First Amendment” right to record – A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a “First Amendment” right to film cops.

Productivity And The Education Delusion – There is a constant tension about education in labor economics these days. On one hand, education is strongly correlated with income and employability. Workers with college degrees, or even just some university-level courses, are significantly more likely to have a job and to be paid better, as well. This is borne out by today’s U.S. jobs report, which showed a decrease of unemployment for college graduates, but an increase of unemployment for high school graduates.

Apple uses Windows on Mac Pro production line – Anyone who purchases a Mac Pro can do so knowing they are supporting manufacturing on US soil. And Apple is also very happy to remind us of this fact, with Tim Cook recently visiting the Austin, Texas manufacturing facility where the Pro is put together. The photo Cook tweeted of himself at the facility revealed something Apple will be less than happy to share with the world. Manufacturing the Mac Pro involves the use of the Windows operating system.


2015 Corvette Z06 hits 650HP: Sets GM record – Chevrolet’s 2015 Corvette Z06 was always going to be powerful, but the upcoming supercar has had its 6.2L V8 supercharged LT4 engine officially rated, and it’s mustering a massive 650 horsepower. The car was expected to deliver in excess of 625HP, Chevrolet said back in January when it took the wraps off the coupe, but has comfortably exceeded that.


Something to think about:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

–    Mencken

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows Firewall Notifier – Windows Firewall Notifier extends the default Windows embedded firewall behavior, allowing to handle outgoing connections.

This application only uses existing Windows features, enabling some of them when first launched:

Enables the Windows embedded firewall

Sets the firewall to block both inbound and outbound connections for which no rule exists

Enables the default Windows firewall inbound connection notification

Enables the Windows firewall outbound connections logging (disabled by default)

Creates a scheduled task linked to the Windows firewall event log entries, allowing Windows Firewall

Notifier to be launched when needed only

Once enabled (after a first launch), the application will show a notification balloon when an application attempts an outgoing connexion while not being allowed to do so. A click on the notification will display a dialog box, allowing the user to:

temporary allow the application

create a rule for the application, so that it will always be able to connect

block the application once only, after what other notifications may (will) appear

always block the application (no notification will therefore be displayed afterwards)



Wise Care 365 – Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important tools including a registry cleaner, disk cleaner, program uninstaller, memory optimizer and more.

Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is the good solution to improve your PC’s performance. Get Wise Care 365 and your computer will never run slow again!


Clean up, defragment and optimize the Windows Registry

Defragment and free up space on your hard disk

Protect your privacy by erasing personal tracking data

Recover lost files

Hide important files or folders

Prevent unauthorized use of personal applications

Auto shut down your PC

Free up Memory to boost game and enterprise software performance

Simple “One Click Tune-up” option will optimize your PC



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

One year after Snowden, phone giants’ privacy policies are laughable at best – If you didn’t laugh, you’d probably cry – It’s been one year to the day since we first learned about PRISM, the surveillance program authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows targeted acquisitions of your Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo data — among others.

Known internally as the “702 Program” by senators and congresspeople alike, the highly-controversial program relies on two methods of data acquisition: from the ISP or Internet company level, as well as “Upstream” data from high-level internet infrastructure. This works in conjunction with the U.K. government’s “Tempora” program, which helps the U.S. National Security Agency collect data in Europe and further afield.

That relies on the telecom giants. Which phone giants? We don’t know, because the U.S. government is holding those secret “relationships” — which are not entirely consensual on the corporate level — close to its chest.

Co-operation with the U.S. and U.K. government is mandatory under telecom regulations and law on both sides of the Atlantic. But the language of these companies’ privacy policies are not — repeat not — governed by law.

In fact the irony is that despite the disclosures, and many of these companies being thrown under the bus by the Snowden leaks, they are still, in some cases one year after the fact, still promoting peace, love, happiness, and above all else — privacy.

Which in itself is a loose term.


Image via Washington Post; Guardian

Encouraging Words of Regret From Dean Baquet and Weasel Words From James Clapper – NPR’s David Folkenflik has a revealing new look at what I have long believed is one of the most important journalistic stories of the last decade: The New York Times‘ 2004 decision, at the behest of George W. Bush himself, to suppress for 15 months (through Bush’s re-election) its reporters’ discovery that the NSA was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Folkenflik’s NPR story confirms what has long been clear: The only reason the Times eventually published that article was because one of its reporters, James Risen, had become so frustrated that he wrote a book that was about to break the story, leaving the paper with no choice (Risen’s co-reporter, Eric Lichtblau, is quoted this way: “‘He had a gun to their head,’ Lichtblau told Frontline. ‘They are really being forced to reconsider: The paper is going to look pretty bad’ if Risen’s book disclosed the wiretapping program before the Times“).

As Folkenflik notes, this episode was one significant reason Edward Snowden purposely excluded the Times from his massive trove of documents. In an interview with Folkenflik, the paper’s new executive editor, Dean Baquet, describes the paper’s exclusion from the Snowden story as “really painful.” But, as I documented in my book and in recent interviews, Baquet has his own checkered history in suppressing plainly newsworthy stories at the government’s request, including a particularly inexcusable 2007 decision, when he was the managing editor of The Los Angeles Times, to kill a story based on AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein’s revelations that the NSA had built secret rooms at AT&T to siphon massive amounts of domestic telephone traffic.

How an FBI informant orchestrated the Stratfor hack – Sitting inside a medium-security federal prison in Kentucky, Jeremy Hammond looks defiant and frustrated.

“[The FBI] could’ve stopped me,” he told the Daily Dot last month at the Federal Correctional Institution, Manchester. “They could’ve. They knew about it. They could’ve stopped dozens of sites I was breaking into.”

Hammond is currently serving the remainder of a 10-year prison sentence in part for his role in one of the most high-profile cyberattacks of the early 21st century. His 2011 breach of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor) left tens of thousands of Americans vulnerable to identity theft and irrevocably damaged the Texas-based intelligence firm’s global reputation. He was also indicted for his role in the June 2011 hack of an Arizona state law enforcement agency’s computer servers.

There’s no question of his guilt: Hammond, 29, admittedly hacked into Stratfor’s network and exfiltrated an estimated 60,000 credit card numbers and associated data and millions of emails, information that was later shared with the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks and the hacker collective Anonymous.

Sealed court documents obtained by the Daily Dot and Motherboard, however, reveal that the attack was instigated and orchestrated not by Hammond, but by an informant, with the full knowledge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (recommended by Aseem S.)

Google Is Making it Harder for the NSA to Grab Its Data – Google is stepping up its technological arms race against National Security Agency surveillance as Silicon Valley firms aim to make it more difficult and expensive for spy agencies to monitor their users’ communications.

The search giant is laying a fiber optic cable under the world’s oceans, a highly expensive task but one that will it allow it to better protect its customers’ data, reports the New York Times. The company is also encrypting more of its information to make it more secure.

Some technology companies have cooperated with the NSA’s requests for information, while others claim to not have known about certain NSA snooping activities. But the NSA revelations leaked by Edward Snowden have pushed Silicon Valley away from cooperating with the NSA on intelligence gathering, instead creating privacy-based competition among companies.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 9, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 6, 2014

The 10 biggest Edward Snowden leaks;  Vodafone: Here’s how (and where) governments are spying on your calls;  Perfect tablet typing: The best tips, apps and add-ons;  Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook?  Malicious advertisements on major websites lead to ransomware;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  Despite half a million complaints, Facebook app now listens in on your surroundings;  Catch your mistakes with the help of these five proofreading apps;  Encryption for your webmail;  Microsoft to release seven security updates next week;  10 top smartphones: 5 for dads and 5 for grads; KeyScrambler (free);  The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use.

The 10 biggest Edward Snowden leaks – One year ago, on June 5, 2013, The Washington Post published the first of Edward Snowden’s leaks. Since then, many more revelations have come to light. Here are a look at 10 of the biggest.

Vodafone: Here’s how (and where) governments are spying on your calls – International mobile phone network operator Vodafone has revealed the scale of government surveillance of its customers across the world. The company has published a report covering the 29 countries where it does business, detailing the requests made by various governments for access to data about customer communications. That law enforcement and intelligence agencies request this data is hardly new. But Vodafone said the evolution of communications technology — and the desire of governments to tap into it — has created a tension between citizens’ right to privacy and the state’s need to ensure safety and security. Concerns about widespread surveillance and habitual data harvesting by intelligence agencies have triggered a debate about the scale and legitimacy of such monitoring.

Don’t Believe Sprint’s T-Mobile Merger Lies – Softbank’s chairman Masayoshi Son says that merging Sprint and T-Mobile will improve U.S. broadband access. It won’t. Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who holds a 70 percent stake in Sprint, is the cheerful, helpful guy who’s appearing at Americans’ elbows promising to lead us to a land of better broadband if we’ll just kill a competitor for him. But he’s counting on us having a short memory, and little critical thinking.

GM app lets you scan a license plate, then text the driver – The prototype app, called DiDi Plate, uses an Android phone’s camera to scan the plate and send it to a cloud ID service. The driver who scanned the plate can then start texting the other driver. In a video demonstrating the product, a male driver uses DiDi Plate to scan and then message a woman driving in front of him. He asks her for a date, which she quickly accepts. In another scenario, a woman’s car is blocked in a parking lot, so she scans the plate of the car that boxed her in and tells the driver to move the vehicle.

Enough with all the apps in my car! say drivers – Drivers are tiring of automakers embedding apps into their cars, the main complaint being that they only want essential apps that work as well as the ones on their smartphones, according to new research. The research, presented by automotive market research firm SBD, was buttressed by the views of people in a focus group that was pulled together at the Telematics Detroit conference here this week.

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

10 top smartphones: 5 for dads and 5 for grads – Smartphones make great gifts for tech-minded dads and students achieving their goals. Here are five handsets to consider for each group — including one device that makes an ideal choice for either dad or grad.


Perfect tablet typing: The best tips, apps and add-ons – Despite their popularity, tablets get knocked on productivity—largely because entering data on them is slow and cumbersome. But that doesn’t mean you have to boot up your laptop every time you need to type a lengthy document. From add-on keyboards to alternative on-screen keypads and general screen-typing tips, here’s a host of ways to speed up data entry on your iPad or Android tablet.

Catch your mistakes with the help of these five proofreading apps – Don’t let silly mistakes spoil the impact of your writing. These proofing tools will help you polish your work and eliminate errors.

The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use – Designer Alexander Griffioen has created a weapon of mass delusion. His site, dubbed ShrtURL, lets users input any web address on the Internet and renders a version that can be customized with their own text and images. Thing is, the design, fonts and general style of the page remain identical. The site is making headlines because it was used to create this fake TechCrunch post claiming venture firm Andreesseen Horowitz is buying Y Combinator for $266 billion. The pages created at Shrturl last for 48 hours before expiring. The site has already been used for evil, as the screenshots below show. Use at your own peril.


Tinder takes a page from Snapchat, offering vanishing photos – Although the memory of a bad date can take a lot longer than 24 hours to truly fade, the dating app Tinder has decided that’s plenty of time for its users to share photos with their matches. The company introduced a new feature Thursday called “Moments,” which lets users share photos with their matches that disappear after 24 hours. Tinder is positioning the feature as a way to help people get a better sense of who their matches are, using a model that has proven popular with other apps like Snapchat. It’s available on iOS and Android.


Modio Lets Kids Make 3D Printable Monsters On Their iPads – I’ve seen a lot of design programs ostensibly marketed at kids, but none are as cool as Modio. Created by Hilmar Gunnarsson, an Icelandic entrepreneur, the system allows you to build Lego-like creatures that snap together and can be printed in multiple colors. Why is this so cool? Because each part sticks together like magic and you can change sizes, textures, and even colors on the fly


NASA performs a mind-meld with Angry Birds Space – Space agency partners with game-maker Rovio to sprinkle Beak Impact update with real space facts and information.


Canon opens Irista, a Dropbox for photos – Canon has its head in the cloud with Irista, a new online storage service for saving your photos. Irista — pronounced eye-RIST-ta, I’m reliably informed by a Canon spokesperson — takes on other cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud. Unlike those other services however, it only stores photos. There are no file-size limitations and Irista can automatically sync new snaps to image collections. You can tag photos and search by different criteria including the time or location when a photo was shot, or even the type of lens used.

Microsoft fights back, calls out China on its Windows 8 claims – Microsoft and China have had a stressful relationship recently as the two seem unable to see eye-to-eye over the Windows operating system. With China recently saying that Windows 8 should not be used there due to Microsoft’s connection with the US government, Microsoft is now fighting back and is using social media to combat these claims.

Behind US-China cyberspy tensions: The view from Beijing (Q&A) – American tech firms are caught in the cross-fire between China and the US over cyberespionage. International politics specialist Shen Yi says this storm isn’t likely to blow over soon.


Still reeling from Heartbleed, OpenSSL suffers from crypto bypass flaw – The underlying vulnerability, formally cataloged as CVE-2014-0224, resides in the ChangeCipherSpec processing, according to an overview published Thursday by Lepidum, the software developer that discovered the flaw and reported it privately to OpenSSL. It makes it possible for attackers who can monitor a connection between an end user and server to force weak cryptographic keys on client devices. Attackers can then exploit those keys to decrypt the traffic or even modify the data before sending it to its intended destination.

Encryption for your webmail – Those who want maximum privacy for their email have a tough time using difficult software. Google is attempting to do better with Gmail, but there’s already a decent webmail solution.

Malicious advertisements on major websites lead to ransomware – Malicious advertisements on domains belonging to Disney, Facebook, The Guardian newspaper and others are leading people to malware that encrypts a computer’s files until a ransom is paid, Cisco Systems has found.

Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook? – Your Internet service provider knows an awful lot about you. But when you’re on Facebook, your ISP is the least of your privacy worries.


They’re ba-ack: Browser-sniffing ghosts return to haunt Chrome, IE, Firefox: Privacy threat that allows websites to know what sites you’ve viewed is revived – Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox are vulnerable to easy-to-execute techniques that allow unscrupulous websites to construct detailed histories of sites visitors have previously viewed, an attack that revives a long-standing privacy threat many people thought was fixed.


Aurich Lawson / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Despite half a million complaints, Facebook app now listens in on your surroundings – Facebook has recently updated their mobile app for Android, allowing for the company to record ‘passive noise’ from a smartphones microphone. Although slightly disconcerting at first, Facebook promises that privacy is of the upmost importance and will be respected. The new feature aims to figure out if you’re listening to a particular song or watching a TV Show, which will then appear alongside your Facebook post.

Microsoft to release seven security updates next week – Microsoft has released their advance prenotification for this month’s Patch Tuesday updates. The company will release seven security bulletins and updates. Two of the updates will be for at least one critical vulnerability.

Company News:

Verizon claims Netflix is driving its customers away, threatens lawsuit – Verizon today demanded that “Netflix immediately cease and desist” its practice of telling customers that Verizon is to blame for network quality problems that affect streaming video. Verizon is worried that these notices will harm its otherwise sparkling reputation and even cause customers to switch Internet service providers. After all, the US Internet market is flush with competition, with every resident able to choose from so many high-quality service providers that there’s no way we could list them all here.


Report: Apple’s arrogance made buying Beats necessary – After Apple recently purchased Beats, new information has come to light on how the company’s incompetent managers, by ignoring the competition, made the acquisition necessary.

Amazon to unveil its smartphone on June 18th – Amazon, the king of online shopping, has been slowly entering the hardware markets over the past few years. With tablets and a set-top box, they are no stranger to perfecting hardware supply chains. So, with an event scheduled for June 18th, Amazon is gearing up to release its smartphone and here is what we know about the device based on previous rumors. The phone is rumored to have 5, yes 5 front facing cameras, can be seen in the image above and there is a camera on the back of the device too. The corner cameras are infrared cameras that can track your face and eyes so that the display can adjust to the location of your eyes to create the best visual effects.


Games and Entertainment:

Twitch Study Challenges Gamer Stereotypes – The old gamer stereotype usually consisted of an antisocial person who spends all day playing games in their rooms or in their parents’ basement. But according to a study from Twitch and LifeCourse Associates, that perception has been thrown out of the window. “The old stereotype of the solitary geek gamer is over,” Neil Howe, the president of LifeCourse Associates and the man behind the term “Millenials,” said in a statement. “It turns out gamers today are more educated, optimistic, socially conscious, and connected to friends and family than non-gamers.”

id Software’s Softdisk games code being released under GPL – id Software has a long history of making games that stems back as far as 1991. Most gamers will only remember the hugely popular releases in the Doom and Quake series, but there were many more, and much older titles that were released before they hit the big time. A number of those games were published by Softdisk — the company where the id Software founders originally met. And those games remain the property of Softdisk, which is now owned by Flat Rock Software. Now it seems, Flat Rock is making the Softdisk code available for id’s classic titles.


The Witcher 3 release detailed with additional gameplay – Today the folks at CD Projekt RED have presented the newest footage and details of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. As with previous releases, this Witcher will be single-player and based in the action role-playing genre. This week’s release also included additional gameplay video. This morning we’ve also been shown the Collector’s Edition of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Collector’s Edition box you’re seeing here will be available only in pre-order.


Ghostbusters returning to theaters August 29 – For the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, the film will return to “more than 700 movie theaters” on August 29th. This release of the movie will include special events across the United States as well as one massive box set for both the first and the second film.


Capcom E3 lineup unveiled: Dead Rising 3 PC, Ace Attorney – This morning Capcom has revealed at least part of their full lineup for E3 2014, including but not limited to Dead Rising 3 for PC, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Nintendo 3DS), and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The game Ultra Street Fighter IV will be coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC as well.


Microsoft’s Xbox to add 45 new entertainment apps, big Twitter push – Microsoft said Wednesday that 45 new entertainment apps are due on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms this year, including key apps from Twitter, HBO, and Showtime. But there’s no guarantee they’ll arrive anytime soon.

Off Topic (Sort of):

D-Day: 70th anniversary in pictures – Seventy years after the Day of Days, Normandy has shed itself of much of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. Monuments to the heroes of that day, and the many after, tower over the decaying bunkers. Here’s what Omaha and Utah beaches and the American Cemetery look like today.


Five reasons why China is attacking U.S. Tech – China’s blistering attacks on U.S. tech firms is more than quid pro quo over cyberspying charges. It’s a signal of China’s growing confidence in its own technology capabilities. China makes its own computer chips, has the world’s fastest supercomputer, and is on target to surpass the U.S. in R&D spending. It has built its own social media empire for its 600 million Internet users, keeping Facebook and Twitter on the fringes. Lenovo, a company that claims dual headquarters in North Carolina and China, is today the largest PC maker in the world. But China is now engaged in something of a war of words against U.S. tech firms, as it counters American criticism and more of it’s activities, which include the recent indictment of five people from China on cyberspying charges.

SoftBank Pepper emotion-sensing robot headed to retail – SoftBank plans to sell an emotion-sensing humanoid robot, Pepper, in Japan next year, putting the sensor-toting ‘bot into customer services duties in stores from this week. Expected to go on sale from February 2015, Pepper can track the emotions of the humans around it through their expressions and voice tones, and then react accordingly depending on what apps and cloud-data are available.


Fitbit designer: Wearables will help us become ‘more human’ – How will wearable devices integrate into our daily lives? Designer Gadi Amit speaks to CNET about his products like Fitbit and the modular Project Ara smartphone.

Bigwig bond fund manager doesn’t own a cell phone – Bill Gross, who manages one of the world’s largest bond funds at PIMCO, penned a lengthy blog post that was published on his company’s site this month. One would think that with Gross’ big shot job he’d be one of those people constantly tied to his mobile device. But, he’s not. In fact, Gross doesn’t even own a cell phone.

Speeders beware: This cop car’s a race car – UK police force decides the best way to combat speeding is to co-opt an Ariel Atom, which goes from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and is surely the world’s fastest cop car.


Something to think about:

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

–   Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeyScrambler – KeyScrambler encrypts your keystrokes deep in the kernel, foiling keylogging attacks with scrambled, undecipherable data. This advanced method of keystroke protection defeats both known and unknown keyloggers.

The friendly interface displays realtime encrypted stream of keystrokes so you see when and how KeyScrambler is working. Strengthens where defenses are the weakest in your traditional anti-virus, anti-malware programs and PC security.

How It Works – KeyScrambler encrypts your keystrokes at the keyboard driver level and decrypts them at the destination application, giving keyloggers “scrambled,” useless keys to record.

For Online Games – Both KeyScrambler Pro and Premium protect your player’s IDs, passwords and digital assets in over two dozen online games.

For Business – Read how and why KeyScrambler is important for your business. KeyScrambler Premium protects critical systems and reduces risks of information theft at the workplace.

Features – KeyScrambler defeats known and unknown keyloggers; also protects Chinese, Japanese, and Korean inputs; is compatible with other security programs, tokens and smart cards; and requires no user effort.

How To – The user-friendly interface allows you to do things on KeyScrambler for a more comfortable, personalized fit.

Supports: Advanced Browser, AM Browser, AOL Explorer, AOL 9, Avant, Comodo Dragon, Comodo IceDragon, CometBird, Crazy Browser, Firefox, Flock, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, K-meleon, Maxthon, MSN Explorer, Netscape, Orca Browser, Opera, Safari, Seamonkey, SlimBrowser, SR Iron Browser, TheWorld Browser, Palemoon, Lunascape, RockMelt, WaterFox, and Yahoo Browser.


SUPERAntiSpyware Free – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Advanced Detection and Removal – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!

Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

Real-Time Protection – Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing!

First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.

Schedule either Quick, Complete or Custom Scans Daily or Weekly to ensure your computer is free from harmful software. Remove spyware automatically.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET – Everything about the safety of the internet as a common communication medium has been shown to be broken. As with the banking disasters of 2008, the crisis and damage created – not by Snowden and his helpers, but by the unregulated and unrestrained conduct the leaked documents have exposed – will last for years if not decades.

Compounding the problem is the covert network of subornment and control that agencies and collaborators working with the NSA are now revealed to have created in communications and computer security organisations and companies around the globe.

The NSA’s explicit objective is to weaken the security of the entire physical fabric of the net. One of its declared goals is to “shape the worldwide commercial cryptography market to make it more tractable to advanced cryptanalytic capabilities being developed by the NSA”, according to top secret documents provided by Snowden.

Profiling the global machinations of merchant bank Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone in 2009, journalist Matt Taibbi famously characterized them as operating “everywhere … a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”.

The NSA, with its English-speaking “Five Eyes” partners (the relevant agencies of the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) and a hitherto unknown secret network of corporate and government partners, has been revealed to be a similar creature. The Snowden documents chart communications funnels, taps, probes, “collection systems” and malware “implants” everywhere, jammed into data networks and tapped into cables or onto satellites.

Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a ‘textbook traitor’ – Netscape cofounder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a “textbook traitor,” even though he admits that his peers in Silicon Valley mostly don’t see it that way.

“Obviously he’s a traitor,” Andreessen said in an interview with CNBC. “If you look up in the encyclopedia, ‘traitor’, there’s a picture of Ed Snowden.”

Vulture Annex in San Francisco hasn’t the budget for a set of encyclopedias, so we’ll have to take his word for it.

Andreessen, who got rich when AOL bought Netscape in 1999, has lately spent his time investing in Silicon Valley startups as half of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

But although he has all the earmarks of a Silicon Valley business insider, Andreessen said that he believes he’s among a “distinct minority” in that community, most of whom he thinks would pick “the other designation” for Snowden. (The reason this troglodyte is in the minority is – he couldn’t care less about your human rights. A minor POS whose head is firmly, but comfortably, stuck in his arse. Money – money – money – that’s his driving motivation. Human rights and dignity? Meh!)

Senators question need to rein in NSA surveillance – The U.S. Congress would endanger the nation’s security by passing even watered-down legislation to limit the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic phone records, several U.S. senators said Thursday.

Several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee voiced opposition to the USA Freedom Act, a bill aimed at reining in NSA bulk collection of telephone and other records, even though many civil liberties groups and technology companies have questioned whether the bill would work as its sponsors originally envisioned.

With the USA Freedom Act, Congress is “compromising to please a skeptical and frequently misinformed public” that’s mistakenly worried about NSA surveillance, Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, said during a hearing on the House bill, taking place one year after the first leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 5, 2014

Snowden sounds call to action for Reset the Net web protest;  Mobile spying apps fuel domestic violence U.S. senator says;  Reset the Net Privacy Pack (free);  10 digital tools to help you learn foreign languages;  Free game alert: Sniper Elite V2 free on Steam for one day;  Razer Surround: 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Software (free);  Myspace emails cringe-worthy old photos to lure users back;  Get Folder Marker Home (Win) for free;  20 contemporary enterprise collaboration tools;  Botnets coming soon to a smart home or automated building near you;  Comodo Battery Saver (free);  World of Warplanes (free);  Microsoft Calls On US Gov. To End Bulk NSA Data Collection.

Snowden sounds call to action for Reset the Net web protest – The NSA document leaker joins Google, Mozilla, Reddit, and many others in a campaign and day of action that aims to help Internet users “take back” their privacy.

Reset the Net Privacy Pack – This June 5th, I pledge to take strong steps to protect my freedom from government mass surveillance. I expect the services I use to do the same.


Apple, Google, Microsoft And Others Call On The Senate To Strengthen NSA Reform – At the roughly one-year anniversary of the NSA leaks, Reform Government Surveillance, a group backed by a number of notable tech companies, is publishing a letter demanding the Senate strengthen the NSA reform bill that recently passed the House. According to the letter, in the coming weeks, the upper chamber of Congress has the “opportunity to demonstrate leadership and pass a version of the USA Freedom Act that would help restore the confidence of Internet users.”

China escalates rhetoric in campaign to ban Windows 8 – China’s state-run television today took new shots at Microsoft’s Windows 8, using a two-and-a-half-minute segment on a national show to blast the OS as a data thief.

China lashes out at Google, Apple for allegedly stealing state secrets – China is once again blasting the United States for cyberspying but is aiming its latest outburst at US tech companies. On Wednesday, Chinese media criticized Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems for cooperating with the National Security Agency’s Prism program to monitor China, Reuters has reported. Media outlets including China’s People Daily and China Daily pointed to such companies as threats to Chinese users, thereby requiring punishment.

Comcast to start encrypting email – Following Google’s encrypted email revelations, Comcast has followed in step with the announcement that it will start encrypting its subscribers’ email, keeping them secure in a digital world lacking privacy. The encryption is said to be currently in testing, and that it’ll be rolling out soon.

At $100, this Windows 8.1 tablet is going head-to-head with Android – A new Windows 8.1 tablet has been announced at Computex and it will have a price point of $100. The device, built by Emdoor, has a quad-core Intel Z3735E ATOM processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, and an 8in 1280×800 IPS display. We are quite pleased to see an IPS display in a tablet at this price point, and even an Intel CPU under the hood makes us suspect this device may not be a dog in the performance department. One issue with the device is that there is roughly 8 gigs of free storage out of the box and that’s because it’s running the full version of Windows 8.1. But, for $100, that’s about what you should expect, as this device meets the minimums for running Windows 8.1.


Toshiba Encore 7 Windows 8.1 tab takes on Android low-end – Toshiba is bringing the Windows 8.1 battle to Android, with a new 7-inch tablet – the Toshiba Encore 7 – developed with Microsoft and Intel to try to show that you don’t necessarily need ARM for an affordable slate. Unveiled at the first time at Computex this week, the collaboration runs Intel’s 1.33GHz Atom quadcore, and has 16GB of onboard storage. With the Encore 8 priced at $200, whispers of a roughly $150 price point for the Encore 7 certainly look realistic. At that level, it could present a truly affordable alternative to Android without compromising on the Windows apps many are used to; Microsoft says it’ll go on sale in “the coming months.”

Free game alert: Sniper Elite V2 free on Steam for one day – EA’s been using a new “On the House” initiative to dole out free games via its Origin gaming service—ostensibly just to give back to the gaming community, but secretly to promote the sequels and premium content for those freebie titles. Really, it’s a clever way to get you to buy into the game series, but at its core: Free game! And now, Steam gamers can get in on the gratis action by snagging a copy of Sniper Elite V2—but only if you act fast. (The download is supersized – 6.0GB as seen in the screen capture below.)


Getting to know Instagram’s new editing features – On Tuesday, Instagram announced version 6.0 of its Android and iOS apps. The update brings with it 10 new photo-editing tools, giving users more control over the look and feel of their photos. There are a couple different methods for accessing the new controls, both of which are simple to use.


Netflix starts telling customers when ISP throttling is killing their stream – The team at Netflix seem ready to take the kid gloves off when it comes to letting their customers know why a video isn’t loading correctly, and that can only be a good thing for everyone. Well, everyone that isn’t in charge at an ISP anyway.


Free Download Razer Surround: 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Software – Razer Surround is an advanced 7.1 virtual surround sound engine that allows anyone especially gamers to get the best virtual 7.1 channel surround sound experience with any stereo headphones. According to the gaming peripherals company Razer, Razer Surround goes above and beyond existing multi-channel simulation packages by providing a calibration system that tunes the effect for individual listeners. The result, the company claims, is the ability to accurately pinpoint the location of any given sound as though using a true surround-sound system – but without having to upgrade from traditional stereo hardware. (recommended by Delenn13)


$100 Sony SmartBand Makes U.S. Debut – Sony’s SmartBand SWR10 hit U.S. shelves today, available for $99.99 at brick-and-mortar Sony stores and online. The waterproof wearable, which debuted at this year’s CES, looks like any other silicon wristband activity tracker, but goes beyond the promise of physical pursuits to include social activity. By connecting to Sony’s lineup of entertainment assets, including the PlayStation console, users can track personal gaming milestones alongside exercise achievements. Pair the SmartBand with the Android Lifelog app to collect data about fitness, location, weather, photos, music, personal notes, and more on both devices.


Mobile spying apps fuel domestic violence, U.S. senator says – The U.S. Congress must pass legislation to ban mobile spying apps in order to protect victims of domestic violence, a senator said Wednesday. Groups aiding victims of domestic violence report growing numbers of clients being stalked through mobile apps secretly installed on their phones by abusers, said Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat. Tens of thousands of U.S. residents are stalked each year through spy apps, he said.

Get Folder Marker Home (Win) for free – This handy utility, normally $24.99, lets you assign colors and icons to Windows folders for easy at-a-glance identification. Through Friday, you can get ArcticLine Software’s Folder Marker Home (Win) for free.


10 digital tools to help you learn foreign languages – Each day, the business world becomes more of a global society. Whether online or on your phone, here are 10 tools that can help you learn a foreign language.

20 contemporary enterprise collaboration tools – Innovation in enterprise collaboration software continues unabated, to the point that there are nearly too many to keep track of. Here are 20 interesting new or established players you may not have heard of.

Myspace emails cringe-worthy old photos to lure users back – Myspace is sending users one or two photos in a seemingly desperate attempt to convince people that it still exists, to intrigue former users, to embarrass them, and/or to send them hurtling back to the site on search and destroy missions.


Botnets coming soon to a smart home or automated building near you – Security researchers say it’s only a matter of time before organized crime will master a new class of botnets on smart homes and smart buildings. Remote attacks on automated systems might target an entire region of hospitals, set off fire alarms in airports, could take aim at server room climate control to destroy servers, hold the elderly for ransom in an automated building, or covertly target a trader in a “smart” building like a stock exchange.

Gmail reveals how much of your email is secret – Just added to Google’s Transparency Report this week is Gmail, with a section called “Email encryption in transit”. This report shows, “generally speaking”, how much of your email is encrypted going in and out of Gmail. While Google appears to have some control over this, responsibility for security also lies in the hands of the email client you’re communicating with.

How the “Get Safe Online” password checker fails users—badly – An educational website that bills itself as the UK’s top source for “unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety” isn’t living up to its promise. Not only is the password strength meter for Get Safe Online completely unreliable, it also transmits user-supplied candidates in address URLs, where they are vulnerable to hackers and shoulder surfers alike.


Google Data Shows Encryption Trending In the Right Direction – The past year has seen a tremendous amount of change and turbulence in the security and privacy communities, much of it related to the NSA surveillance revelations. One of the things that has come out of all of the discussions and debates is a greater focus on the importance of encryption, especially encrypting email and other sensitive traffic while it’s traversing various networks.

Games and Entertainment:

Total TV viewing up 246% with help from apps – Online TV is growing rapidly in popularity, according to a new study. The findings suggest our mobile video viewing habits are up 57% over this time last year. Overall online video is up 43%, while our TV intake in general is up a staggering 246%.

Temple Run hits One Billion download milestone – Temple Run has passed one billion downloads, developers Imangi Studios have announced, with the hit mobile game collectively racking up more than 32 billion games to-date. Players of the “endless runner” title – which has most recently seen Temple Run 2 launch on iOS and Android, and Temple Run on Windows Phone – have altogether run over 50 trillion meters in-game.


Microsoft integrating Twitter into Xbox One, releasing 35 new entertainment apps – Microsoft will soon integrate Twitter into the Xbox One’s TV programming guide, allowing users to interact with tweets during TV broadcasts. Additionally, 35 new Xbox One apps have been announced.


PSA: Uncharted 3 currently free for all North American PS3 owners – If you own a PS3 but somehow still haven’t gotten around to checking out 2011’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception yet, today is the day. The game is currently available as a free 40GB download on PlayStation Network for all North American PS3 owners. Uncharted 3 was offered gratis to PlayStation Plus members about a year ago, but today’s offer seems to be available to anyone in North America with a free PlayStation Network account. The download only includes the single-player portion of the game, but the multiplayer mode has been free-to-play since February 2013, so that’s not really a big issue.


Microsoft: Software update unlocks more GPU bandwidth on Xbox One – The June system update rolling out to Xbox Ones worldwide this week includes surface-level features like external hard drive support, as we mentioned this morning. But Microsoft says the new firmware will also help developers extract more power from the system’s Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), even though the base hardware in the system is obviously staying the same.

Shooter Ultimate brings kid-safe free play to PS4 – This week the folks at Pixel Junk have teamed up with Sony to bring the game Shooter Ultimate to the PlayStation 4 for free. This game is digital-only and free to all subscribers of PlayStation Plus. Inside you’ll find yourself piloting a tiny spaceship that’s tasked with picking up tiny humans.

Rovio’s Angry Birds Stella Arriving in September – The game will take players to the treetops of Golden Island, where Stella and her friends reside. The gang — each with their own powers — must battle Gale and her army of pig servants for control of the island. “Angry Birds Stella is going to challenge even the most experienced bird flingers!” Rovio said. The company’s CMO Blanca Juti added that Angry Birds Stella will be fun for everyone, but also “celebrates female heroism.”


Off Topic (Sort of):

Experience gunpoint robbery firsthand with a head-mounted GoPro – It’s difficult to mosey around the internet on any given day without running into a multitude of first-person videos shot from a GoPro camera. Normally, these videos are of people jumping off things, or getting extremely close to either adorable or dangerous (or both) wildlife. Sometimes, though, the videos are more similar in content to Russian dash cams, capturing unintentional, occasionally harrowing events. YouTube user Lucky Jakkals captured one of these such events when he was robbed at gunpoint.


The iPhone-Controlled Visiobike Will Take You For A Ride – Zoom zoom! A Croatian company wants to put your butt onto a new kind of bike, a sort of electric/mechanical hybrid that uses battery assist to help you up the hills and includes an automatic transmission system that ensures you rarely have to use the battery. Called the Visiobike, the $5,303 bike is made of carbon fiber and has a dock for your phone. Special software gives you a speedometer, transmission control and other treats as you scoot around town. It also has a camera in the seat for rear-facing views of traffic behind you in real time and for recording if someone rear-ends you.


Google Maps kicks off the World Cup with Street View flair – The Web giant takes viewers inside all 12 of Brazil’s World Cup stadiums, while also ramping up transit data in the tournament’s host cities.


Secret Service Wants Sarcasm-Detecting Web Tool – Wanted: Easy-to-use sarcasm-detecting software to help the U.S. government recognize mockery. In a work order posted online Monday, the agency said it is looking for a social media analytics tool that must, among a host of other requirements, have the ability to “detect sarcasm and false positives.” Other essential qualities include sentiment analysis, audience segmentation, and influencer identification, as well as the ability to analyze data over a given period of time and create custom reports without involving IT specialists.

Something to think about:

“One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns.”

–    John Oliver

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo Battery Saver – Comodo Battery Saver makes your phone/tablet battery last a whole lot longer and slashes how often you need to put it on charge.

Through it’s intelligent optimization feature, energy saving tweaks are automatically applied as your battery moves towards exhaustion. The application lets you quickly switch between power saving modes and to disable power-hungry applications with a single tap.

Comodo Battery Saver also generates alerts when, for example, the battery needs to be unplugged from charge and gives you a detailed breakdown of exactly which applications are using the most power.


Intelligent Save – Automatically switches from normal mode to economy modes when the battery power reaches low levels

Power Profiles – Easily create custom profiles that suit the precise needs of your device usage patterns

Advanced Battery Notifications – Reminds you when your battery has reached full charge and should be disconnected from the power supply

Quick Actions – Enable or disable features with a single touch to quickly extend the life of your battery

Utilization Stats- At-a-glance statistics tell you which apps and features are drawing the most power


World of Warplanes – World of Warplanes is a multiplayer online game dedicated to the “golden age” of the world’s combat aircraft. This project continues the “war saga” that began with the award-winning online sensation World of Tanks and gives players the freedom to lift off, leaving battlefields laden with smoke and destruction, getting a first-hand opportunity to engage in an endless number of battles for air superiority.

The main game mode in World of Warplanes organizes battles between two teams of 15 players who meet in air battle over a variety of locations. Victory can be achieved by destroying all the opposing planes or earning advantage points by eliminating the enemy’s ground targets. At the same time, both approaches to victory — teamwork and a player’s individual contribution — are important, because any pilot has the power to turn the tables in World of Warplanes.

The period represented in the game is one of the most captivating and challenging in the history of aircraft engineering. One may start a piloting career with biplanes of the 1930s, move on to legendary WWII warplanes, and end up with jet fighters of the Korean War, predecessors of modern aircrafts.



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Calls On US Gov. To End Bulk NSA Data Collection – Marking the one year anniversary of the NSA leaks saga, Microsoft today called for broad change in how the United States Government and its intelligence agencies operate, and what they collect.

Microsoft is not alone among technology companies in calling for reform. Its blog post today, however, is interesting given its breadth and specificity.

The company wants the government to end bulk collection of phone records in the United States, and states the USA FREEDOM Act should be “strengthened to prohibit” the “bulk collection of Internet data.” Also, the FISA Court needs to be reformed, in its view, to increase transparency and also to “introduce the adversarial process that is the hallmark of a fair judicial system.”

Microsoft goes on to demand that the United States Government stop abusing warrants to force data out of companies when that data is stored overseas. The company is challenging that on legal grounds, planning an appeal of its case after an expected first loss.

Court fight heats up over 52 pages of still-secret surveillance info – The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s long quest to make key rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) public is nearing its end.

EFF lawyer Mark Rumold faced off with Department of Justice attorney Steven Bressler yesterday in the same courtroom they had sparred in 14 months ago. They were overseen by the same judge, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers.

Things weren’t the same, though. The lawsuit has changed dramatically, due in part to the Snowden leaks about government surveillance, which began to appear in newspapers last June.

And the scope of the case has narrowed. That’s partly because the EFF has focused its demands on what it believes are the most important documents: several still-secret FISC opinions, as well as one memo from the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel, comprising some 52 pages. It’s also narrowed because the Department of Justice has released some of the documents that were asked for. One batch was revealed in November and another was released in March, both posted to the Tumblr blog “IC on the Record,” part of the Obama Administration’s response to the Snowden leaks.

The most striking revelation from those documents was that some FISC judges sharply criticized the National Security Agency’s record of compliance with rules the court had set out for handling its giant database of phone calls and other data.

An essay concerning a post-Snowden utopia: Stop the surveillance state – It’s been almost a year since the June 5, 2013 revelation that the US government was collecting, in bulk, the telephone metadata of every telephone call to and from the United States. The National Security Agency leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden would eventually expose surveillance programs, including Prism, XKeyscore, Tempora, and Muscular.

Yet despite the global outrage, the US electronic surveillance state continues unabated a year after Snowden became a household name. All the while, just one piece of reform legislation cleared the US House, and that legislation allows the telephone snooping to continue, with a few added caveats, despite a federal judge ruling that the nation’s founders would be “aghast” at the program.

“The greatest fear that I have is that nothing will change,” Snowden said in a recent interview. He remains holed up in Russia and faces espionage charges if he returns to the United States.

Thursday marks an exact year from Snowden’s first revelation appearing in the Guardian. That leak, and subsequent ones, have underscored that the United States is undertaking the biggest surveillance campaign the world has ever seen from a democratic society.

Changing the NSA policies is unlikely as long as the Obama administration and its successors continue playing the terror card, and the public acquiesces and turns a blind eye. After all, the realpolitik rules. Perhaps one day the government’s policy will allow the free flow of electronic communication without Big Brother listening.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 4, 2014

U.S. Marshals Seize Cops’ Spying Records to Keep Them From the ACLU;  NSA chief says facial recognition program is totally legal;  Facebook encrypts data links to hinder government intrusion;  The Best Tech Gifts for Father’s Day;  A beginner’s guide to BitLocker;  Chromecast update offers World Cup streaming and photocasting;  Google Chrome Goes 64-Bit, Promises Better Stability, Security And Performance;  Instagram 6.0 introduces a creative toolbox for photo editing;  ISPs urged to quarantine infected computers;  FCC comment site breaks;  Photos: Wearable tech’s 10 biggest flops;  How to tweak File Explorer and customize your Windows experience;  Chinese media warns US tech companies are cyber ‘threats’.

No worries: NSA chief says facial recognition program is totally legal – The new head of the National Security Agency said Tuesday that the agency’s newly revealed facial recognition program is legal. “We do not do this in some unilateral basis against US citizens,” Admiral Michael S. Rogers said at the Bloomberg Government cybersecurity conference in Washington, DC. “We have very specific restrictions when it comes to US persons.” Rogers reportedly did not cite what those restrictions are. He also noted that the NSA doesn’t access motor vehicle or passport databases to check against images of US citizens.

Facebook encrypts data links to hinder government intrusion – Facebook is working to encrypt links between its datacentres, and would fight any move for law enforcement agencies to obtain encryption keys, according to the company’s head of security infrastructure Gregg Stefancik.

A beginner’s guide to BitLocker, Windows’ built-in encryption tool – The creators of TrueCrypt shocked the computer security world this week when they seemingly ended development of the popular open source encryption tool. Even more surprising, the creators said TrueCrypt could be insecure and that Windows users should migrate to Microsoft’s BitLocker. Conspiracy theories immediately began to swirl around the surprise announcement. Regardless of the true motivations behind the message, the TrueCrypt fiasco gives us a chance to talk about BitLocker—and how to use it.

The Best Tech Gifts for Father’s Day – Choosing the perfect Father’s Day gift depends on what kind of guy the dad in your life is. Does he love travel, playing sports or listening to music? We’ve got you covered with tech gifts that show your dad just how special he is.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apple CEO’s astonishingly misleading claims about Windows 8 at WWDC – Apple CEO Tim zinged Windows 8 multiple times at his WWDC speech, much to the delight of the Apple faithful. But if you take a closer look at his claims, you’ll find that they’re astonishingly misleading. In fact, Windows 8 is cleaning Mavericks’ clock.

iOS 8 features already available on Android – Apple on Monday unveiled the latest version of its iOS mobile operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The company has labeled iOS 8 as “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store,” however Android fans have nothing to fear. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — well, many of Apple’s “new” features are already available on Google’s operating system and have been for quite some time.

Google Plans To Launch An Easy-To-Use Chrome Plug-In For Email Encryption Soon – Google today announced that it will soon release a Chrome plug-in that will enable end-to-end encryption for web-based email services. The plug-in is based on the OpenPGP email encryption standard. Google’s plan here is to make encryption easy enough to use to become widespread among mainstream users.

Days are numbered for decade-old hard drive connection tech – The SATA data-transfer standard has served the industry well, but hard drive maker WD has a product that demonstrates the shift to the faster PCI Express tech.

Apple to add DuckDuckGo as private search alternative – Privacy concerns, particularly following the Edward Snowden leaks in recent times, have spurred a push towards more privacy-centric digital options. Among search engines in particular, one known as DuckDuckGo has bid itself as a more secure option than Google and competing search engines, and it will soon receive a big boost from Apple.

Chromecast update offers World Cup streaming and photocasting – There once was a time when Chromecast users had a limited number of apps and services to choose from in order to enjoy seamless streaming from a phone or tablet to the television, but it seems like every month Google announces ten new services to choose from. This update brings some special add-ons to the mix, because it allows users to share photos that are stored on their phone as well as a boatload of content for sports and anime geeks.

$30 chip turns smartphones into holographic projectors – Samsung’s Galaxy Beam was a rather clunky attempt at building a smartphone with a built-in pico projector. The next one we see may be much more exciting, thanks to a tiny projector module being built by the brains at Ostendo. And although it’s small, it’s still capable of projecting images with an impressive 48-inch diagonal.


FiveStar Finds The Best Products On Amazon From Any Category On Any Budget – Do a lot of Amazon shopping? Then you’re going to dig this: a new website called FiveStar helps you uncover the best products on Amazon in any category and organized by budget. So for example, you can find the best coffee makers that are $10 and up, then see the best that are $20 and up, then $30, $40, $50, and so on. To determine what constitutes something being the “best,” FiveStar’s creator Matt Condon explains that the site uses a simple weighting algorithm that first looks at relevance, followed by popularity, star rating, then finally price.

Moto Stream connects your existing sound system via Bluetooth – You want a wireless, connected speaker system, but don’t want to spend a lot to get there. You might also have an existing home theater system that produces amazing sound, but alas — no connectivity. Motorola has introduced a new product, the Moto Stream, which aims to help get your current system connected via the existing audio jack.


iOS 8 Health: Apple’s play to own fitness – As plays for the wearable and fitness space go, iOS 8 HealthKit is ambitiously broad. Apple will initially support logging of over sixty different types of data, from the basics like weight and gender, through step-counts and blood-glucose levels. By leaving the collection to accessory manufacturers – at least initially, anyway – Apple can safely be comprehensive without having to fill each of those gaps itself with dedicated hardware, throwing itself into the center of the argument over privacy versus aggregation.


Google Chrome Goes 64-Bit, Promises Better Stability, Security And Performance – Most modern operating systems now natively support 64-bit processors, but even though many developers now offer 64-bit versions of their applications, browsers have generally lacked behind this move (though there are a number of unofficial 64-bit versions of Firefox, for example). Google, however, is releasing its first 64-bit version of Chrome today into the highly experimental Developer and Canary channels for Windows, which puts it on the road to a potential mainstream release later this year.

Smart Driving Assistant Comes To Android With Safety-Focused “Do Not Disturb” And Crash Alert Features – Automatic, the smart driving assistant that combines a small hardware device that plugs in your car and a mobile app that provides drivers with data about their vehicle and their driving habits, is now available on Android. Previously an iOS-only application, this release also delivers a couple of new features as well, including an Android-exclusive “do not disturb” mode and a Crash Alert functionality.


Instagram 6.0 introduces a creative toolbox for photo editing – Instagram has always been leader of the pack when it comes to filters and social capabilities, but the more avid smartphone photographers were left in the dust. The app lacked more in-depth photo tools, replacing everything with Willow and Valencia (and, fine, a few options for cropping, scaling, tilting, and softening).


Intel outs stunning fanless Broadwell tablet design for 2014 2-in-1s – Intel has revealed its new Core M 14nm Broadwell processor range and a stunningly slim 2-in-1 reference design to show it off, a super-skinny 7.2mm thick tablet. The prototype has a 12.5-inch touchscreen but still manages to be fanless, paving the way for Windows 8 powered tablets that can compete with ultrabooks for performance and app flexibility, but at the same time with iPads for weight and bulk.


How to tweak File Explorer and customize your Windows experience – Microsoft’s File Explorer may not be the most exciting utility on your Windows desktop, but you still have to rely on it every day to move, open, and search for files, or to quickly check out your free disk space. But how many of us bother to spend a few minutes to get File Explorer to work exactly how we’d like it? I’m guessing not many, so let’s change that by getting into the “advanced basics” of File Explorer tweaking.

Glance is an $80 wearable that puts smart notifications on your existing wristwatch – With a low-impact price and quiet aesthetics, Glance might be a solid option for people who don’t want to give up their favorite wrist wear.



10 online attacks we could have easily prevented – Ten attacks on corporations and individuals by hackers and governments, and all of them could have been prevented if people had followed best practices.


ISPs urged to quarantine infected computers – Forcing users to clean their infected computers on an ongoing basis would be more disruptive to cybercriminals than botnet takedowns. (There’s nothing new here. This issue has been on the back burner for years – and, talked about for years. We’re still talking!)

With So Many Older Bugs Around, Why Bother With Zero-Days? – Attackers understand that older vulnerabilities are the low-hanging fruit of Web application security. Attackers can be sophisticated if they need to, and there are tools at their disposal to craft complex campaigns. But why bother when people stick with outdated versions of Web applications or administrators don’t maintain a regular patching schedule for the applications. The problem is even more prevalent among widely used applications, such as forums software, content management systems, and even e-commerce tools.

Want to keep your installed applications up-to-date automatically? Then consider installing free Secunia Personal Software Inspector. I strongly recommend that you do so. Also available for Android.

Secunia PSI – The Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a free computer security solution that identifies vulnerabilities in non-Microsoft (third-party) programs which can leave your PC open to attacks. Simply put, it scans software on your system and identifies programs in need of security updates to safeguard your PC against cybercriminals. It then supplies your computer with the necessary software security updates to keep it safe. The Secunia PSI even automates the updates for your insecure programs, making it a lot easier for you to maintain a secure PC. Using a scanner like Secunia PSI 3.0 is complementary to antivirus software, and as a free computer security program, is essential for every home computer.



Linux users at risk as ANOTHER critical GnuTLS bug found – The GNUtls woes continue, with another critical flaw discovered and patched after researchers worked out malicious servers could hijack users of the cryptographic library. Red Hat engineer Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos, who issued a patch for the flaw (CVE-2014-3466) Saturday, shortly after it was reported 28 May by Codenomicon researcher Joonas Kuorilehto. Users of other affected software will have to sit tight until their developers incorporate the fix. Until then, they’ll remain open to malware attacks.

Why open source development is getting more secure – With fewer defects being found in major open source projects than in large proprietary software packages, what are the security strengths and weaknesses of open source development?

New iOS 8 openness, new security threats – More openness in Apple’s mobile operating system is great for developers — and an enticement for hackers.

Company News:

Facebook Says There Are Now 30M Small Businesses With Active Pages, Including 19M On Mobile – Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small business, just said that the company has 30 million small businesses with active Pages on the social network. That’s up from 25 million from last November, when Facebook first started using its current definition to counting SMBs using its current definition (previously, it didn’t count e-commerce businesses that don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, so we can’t make an apples-to-apples comparison).

Apple reverses course on BitCoins, will now allow virtual currency apps – Apple has apparently had a change of heart when it comes to virtual currencies and will change its stance on apps that focus on this new type of monetary products and services.


Facebook to Small Businesses: Buy More Ads – There will be no summer vacation for Facebook — the company is spending the season trying to convince small businesses to buy more ads on the social network. The company hosted the first in a series of marketing training sessions Tuesday in New York, attracting hundreds of small business owners from around the city looking to boost their sales.

Supreme Court rules for Limelight over Akamai in key patent test – You may not know much about the patent lawsuit of Limelight vs. Akamai, but a recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision will influence how patent lawsuits and video is delivered over the Internet for years to come.

Comcast serves up public-private SMB wireless service – If you’ve ever had to sit in the lobby of a restaurant or needed to look up information while standing in your favorite boutique, then you know that it’s useful to have access to a public wireless connection. That’s the motivation behind a new wireless service from Comcast Business: one that provides small businesses with both private WiFi for their back-office applications and a public Xfinity WiFi connection that they can offer to customers.

Games and Entertainment:

Murdered: Soul Suspect review: The death of potential – The first moment of interaction in Murdered: Soul Suspect had me lining up a ghost’s limbs as he attempted to “possess” his own comatose body. That set an off-kilter tone the game maintained throughout my play. Murdered: Soul Suspect is weird in a way that’s no longer very common for games from big studios, which tend to stick with franchises and gameplay ideas that “work.” New ideas are the purview of two-person teams with shoestring budgets and an obsession with pixel art. Yet somehow Square Enix saw fit to publish an Unreal Engine-powered, biggish-budget console game about a ghostly cop solving his own murder.


Battlefield 4 network lag cut by 60% thanks to a High Frequency Bubble – The so-called Netcode patch is being made available to PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions of the game. What it does is to add a “High Frequency Bubble” around each player. Inside this bubble’s radius the client gets updates from the server much more quickly. So that means a lot less lag when fighting up close. As the video below shows, the experience is much smoother and the network delay is reduced by as much as 62 percent.


Xbox One finally gets Games with Gold; get your first free games today – Microsoft has finally rolled out its Games with Gold deal to Xbox One users, who can download Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood for free from today.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, slayer of lions, in epic ‘Hercules’ trailer – There’s a new trailer out for the upcoming summer flick “Hercules” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with all the action you’d expect from the legendary strongman.


Video screenshot by Anthony Domanico/CNET

Corsair launches Cherry MX RGB customisable keyboards, mice – The keyboards are new versions of the already popular K95 and K70 products. The K95 has 18 macro keys that can be programmed with 108 macros or presets. It’s made of aircraft grade aluminium and it’ll cost you US$190. That translates to AUD$205 and £144, though no official prices were given for those areas for any of the products.


Off Topic (Sort of):

FCC comment site breaks after comedian asks trolls to fight “fast lanes” – The FCC has received tens of thousands of comments on a proposal that would let ISPs charge Web services for Internet “fast lanes,” but yesterday the commission’s comment site struggled for a good part of the day. The problem happened after comedian John Oliver spent 13 minutes on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” ripping the FCC’s proposal apart. He proposed changing the name “network neutrality” to “Preventing cable company f**kery,” and finished by calling Internet trolls to action.

An E-Cig That Tells You How Much You’ve Increased Your Life Expectency With Every Puff – Forget for just a moment that e-cigarettes mostly contain propylene glycol — a substance used in antifreeze and known to cause cancer. Smokio claims to be the first connected e-cig to actually add years to your life each time you puff. It works by hooking the device up to an app on your smartphone which captures your vitals every time you vape, even when your phone is out of sight.


Apple be trollin’: A visual history of the company’s public spite – In the past week, Apple’s Tim Cook era has been marked with its first major acquisition and its first major diss. We got a kick out of Cook’s Monday WWDC statements about Windows 8 and Android—not as fanboys, but because we get a kick out of tech titan squabbles. The moment presented us an opportunity to remember some of Apple’s most notable smack-talk and trolling statements over the past 30 years. Dust off those old turtlenecks and dated Longhorn references.

Photos: Wearable tech’s 10 biggest flops – The last year has been full of promise for wearable tech, but we’re still waiting for a breakthrough product. We rank the top 10 wearable failures, from fitness trackers to that mock-worthy eyewear.

A third of teens feel more accepted online than in real life, study finds – McAfee’s “Teens and the Screen” survey sees a far greater awareness of cyberbullying, but a carefree attitude toward security on the part of teens.

Something to think about:

“Now, I’m not one who’s going to sit here and overhype the threat [or say] that in the name of this threat we have to make dramatic changes and curtail our rights, because if we go down that road, in the end, they’ve won. If we change who we are and what we believe and what we represent in the name of security, they have won. I have always believed that.”

–     NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers

Today’s Free Downloads:

CSE HTML Validator Lite – Clean up your site with CSE HTML Validator Lite for Windows! CSE HTML Validator Lite is an award winning FREE (for personal and educational use) HTML editor and basic HTML syntax checker for Windows and above.

Powerful, easy to use, user configurable, and all-in-one HTML, XHTML, CSS, link, spelling, JavaScript, PHP syntax, SEO, and accessibility checker. CSE HTML Validator helps eliminate website problems that cause visitors to leave your website.

CSE HTML Validator Lite can:

Find bad or misspelled tags

Find missing end tags

Find bad or missing attributes

Find other HTML syntax problems

Check spelling with the built-in the editor

Includes preliminary support for HTML5 (v10+)

Quickly change all tags and attributes to lowercase

Automatically place quotation marks around all attribute values

Strip HTML tags from HTML documents, leaving only the text

Quickly change all the headers and/or footers of every page of your web site (when you design your pages using the template tool)


SideSlide – SideSlide is an advanced, portable, unobtrusive, dockable, skinnable, instantly accessible, highly configurable Desktop Extension on Steroids! Clean desktop clutter and make your computer friendlier and faster than ever before. With unique use of containers and various innovative features, SideSlide lets you get instant access to everything you have and much more. The program respects your system and keeps all of its configuration files in a single folder.


Instantly accessible and adjustable workspace that stays out of your way until you need it.

Add multiple shortcuts, commands, URLs, RSS news feeds, pictures, reminders and notes.

Resizable, detachable, foldable and shrinkable containers extend the workspace beyond the limits of the screen.

Mouse & keyboard support with a full-blown keyboard launcher and directory navigator.

RSS news feed functionality allows you to track what you are interested in the most.

Keep your eyes on multiple picture slideshows that are easily added.

Floating, colorful notes are quickly created and adjusted in bulk or separately.

Shortcuts can be tagged for additional functionality and organization.

Various ways of launching multiple shortcuts with a single click.

Link containers to actual folders on disk (launch, move, copy and delete files).

Shortcuts, URLs, text and pictures from Windows or your browser can be dragged & dropped in the workspace.

A growing online library with ready-made RSS news feed and shortcut containers.

Every style and setting in the entire program and for each individual object can be customized.

Fancy special effects that don’t slow you down.

Comes with multiple themes and wallpapers and you can also define your own style.

Supports portable setup and the ability to load objects from a relative path.

Much more…


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.S. Marshals Seize Cops’ Spying Records to Keep Them From the ACLU – A routine request in Florida for public records regarding the use of a surveillance tool known as stingray took an extraordinary turn recently when federal authorities seized the documents before police could release them.

The surprise move by the U.S. Marshals Service stunned the American Civil Liberties Union, which earlier this year filed the public records request with the Sarasota, Florida, police department for information detailing its use of the controversial surveillance tool.

The ACLU had an appointment last Tuesday to review documents pertaining to a case investigated by a Sarasota police detective. But marshals swooped in at the last minute to grab the records, claiming they belong to the U.S. Marshals Service and barring the police from releasing them.

ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler called the move “truly extraordinary and beyond the worst transparency violations” the group has seen regarding documents detailing police use of the technology.

“This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for stingray information,” Wessler said, noting that federal authorities have in other cases invoked the Homeland Security Act to prevent the release of such records. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. A stingray can see and record a device’s unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to its location. By moving a stingray around, authorities can triangulate a device’s location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier’s fixed tower location. (recommended by Aseem S.)

NSA Chief: Snowden “Probably Not” A Russian Spy – Despite Congressional bloviation, the NSA doesn’t think that Edward Snowden is a foreign spy. NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers doesn’t think it likely that Snowden is working for Russia, or any other country’s intelligence apparatus.

“Could he have? Possibly. Do I believe that’s the case? Probably not,” said Rogers.

The only surprising element of the Rogers comment is that he said it. There has been a steady drumbeat of intrigue and dreck trying to tie Snowden to Russia, as something of a poodle or other sort of lapdog. Here are a few samples for flavor.

Snowden’s own words:

“I have no relationship with the Russian government at all. I’m not supported by the Russian government. I’m not taking money from the Russian government. I’m not a spy.”

Senator Feinstein’s take:

Feinstein was then asked by Meet the Press host David Gregory if she agreed that Snowden might have had Russian support. “He may well have,” she responded, before adding that “we don’t know at this stage.”

REVEALED: GCHQ’s BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE: Snowden leaks that suppressed – Above-top-secret details of Britain’s covert surveillance programme – including the location of a clandestine British base tapping undersea cables in the Middle East – have so far remained secret, despite being leaked by fugitive NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden. Government pressure has meant that some media organisations, despite being in possession of these facts, have declined to reveal them. Today, however, the Register publishes them in full.

The secret British spy base is part of a programme codenamed “CIRCUIT” and also referred to as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1). It is located at Seeb, on the northern coast of Oman, where it taps in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Seeb is one of a three site GCHQ network in Oman, at locations codenamed “TIMPANI”, “GUITAR” and “CLARINET”. TIMPANI, near the Strait of Hormuz, can monitor Iraqi communications. CLARINET, in the south of Oman, is strategically close to Yemen.

British national telco BT, referred to within GCHQ and the American NSA under the ultra-classified codename “REMEDY”, and Vodafone Cable (which owns the former Cable & Wireless company, aka “GERONTIC”) are the two top earners of secret GCHQ payments running into tens of millions of pounds annually.

Dow Jones asks court to unseal long-completed digital surveillance cases: Tens of thousands of electronic surveillance orders are sealed from public view – Serving as an outgoing United States magistrate judge, Brian Owsley had decided that one of his final judicial acts would be to unseal more than 100 of his own judicial orders involving digital surveillance that he himself had sealed at the government’s request.

But not long after Owsley’s move last year, a US district judge vacated Owsley’s order and resealed them all. That order itself was then sealed.

“I don’t think it’s that normal,” Owsley told Ars.

“I sent in various ways to the government, a number of applications and I said I’m going to unseal these unless you tell me why I shouldn’t. These were done in waves. The first wave were completed five years previous, past the statute of limitations, and quite likely no longer really significant. That was the first wave. The government did not oppose unsealing of any of them. So I spoke to the court’s office and said to upload them to make them available online, and as they were doing that, somehow this district judge found out about it an interjected himself into the process. If the government has said: ‘We don’t think these things should be unsealed,’ that’s one thing. But just out of the blue the district judge interjecting himself, that’s a little unusual.”

In a rare move, the media company Dow Jones filed a new motion on Monday with the US District Court in the Southern District of Texas asking it to unseal all such documents and to make them available publicly online. The motion was filed in conjunction with a new report from The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones is the newspaper’s parent company) showing that the sealing of such court files is on the rise.

Chinese media warns US tech companies are cyber ‘threats’ – Chinese state English-language media outlets, China Daily and the People’s Daily, have warned that US-based technology organisations, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, can become “cybersecurity threats”.

The US tech companies named by the media outlets also include, Yahoo, Cisco, and Facebook — all of which were required by the US National Security Agency to hand over users’ information — according to China Daily source, Wan Tao, founder of China’s Intelligence Defense Friends Laboratory.

The report on the news outlets’ sites said that the warning comes a week after China announced it would put in place a security review on imported technology equipment.

According to the report, Ning Jiajun, a senior researcher at the Advisory Committee for State Informatisation, said that, “previously, the US asked companies to install wiretapping software on their technological products, but if users found and shut down related functions, its ‘plan’ would fail”.

The media outlets’ claims come only a week after rumours emerged that the Chinese government was urging the country’s banks to remove IBM high-end servers and replace them with locally manufactured equipment, in what could be considered as a clear escalation of frosty relationships following a spate of US-China hacking accusations.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 4, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 3, 2014

Science suggests people who watch porn have smaller brains;  Wearables etiquette: How to use your devices without people hating you;  Top Android tablets (June 2014 edition);  Freeware Game of the Week – Red Eclipse;  10 must-have accessories for your tablet;  50 Best iPhone Apps;  All The News From WWDC 2014;  Turn old PC hardware into a home server with FreeNAS;  Press H To Hack: Hacking in Videogames;  Apple says many users “bought an Android phone by mistake”;  Oliver Stone: ‘America always wins’;  Tech worker groups boycott IBM, Infosys, Manpower;  Amazon workers in Germany extend strike over wages;  Gaming Site is New Home to Spammed Free Movie Links;  As Snowden Anniversary Nears, EFF Urges Users to Ramp Up Privacy and Security.

John Oliver spends 13 minutes delivering the best Net Neutrality explainer ever – If you are looking for a good explanation of Net Neutrality in a format that is both amusing and thorough, John Oliver absolutely nails it. He’s tackled climate change, elections in India, and now he’s dedicated nearly half of an episode to Net Neutrality. If you have someone in your life who is unfamiliar with Net Neutrality or why they should care about the things happening at the FCC right now, this is the video you show them.

Science suggests people who watch porn have smaller brains – Many porn studies and analyses have been performed and found that, despite what people may or may not own up to doing when asked, a lot of people watch porn. In 2013, PornHub found that its engine alone received 1.7 million visits per hour, totaling 15 billion visits — and that’s just one site. Earlier this year, it was also revealed that people pirate porn overall more than anything else — more than movies, music, or software. Last year, PornMD also disclosed its search engine statistics, revealing the habits and interests of porn watchers by region. So, basically, it would seem that everyone watches porn. Regardless of how you feel about porn or people who watch it, a ton of people are into it. A new study suggests that those people who frequently partake may have smaller brains.

Five PE Analysis Tools Worth Looking At – In the world of malware analysis, having the right tools can make all the difference. When looking at malicious binaries, they are often in the Windows Portable Executable (PE) format. For this reason, it’s good to have a tools capable of performing in-depth analysis of this file format; fortunately, there are many to choose from, many of which are absolutely free.

Wearables etiquette: How to use your devices without people hating you – One of the newest ways our standards of manners and etiquette is being tested is through wearable technology. Some are more obvious than others: fitness-focused wearables, like Fitbit or Shine, require less interaction; others like Google Glass, well, require you to talk to yourself and tap the side of your head in public. But these are early days.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Wearable tech tsunami approaching – It’s inevitable. Just about every company you can think of is coming out with some sort of wearable tech and most of them seem to have some sort of health-related functionality.

Top Android tablets (June 2014 edition) – Given the broad choice, and combine that with rock-bottom prices, there’s never been a better time to pick up a new Android tablet! Here are my pick of the top Android tablets for June 2014.

Freeware Game of the Week – Red Eclipse – I’ve seen multiplayer shooters only half as good as Red Eclipse and you have to pay for them with your hard earned cash. Red Eclipse is a fun-filled new take on the casual first person arena shooter, built as a total conversion of Cube Engine 2, which lends itself toward a balanced gameplay, with a general theme of agility in a variety of environments. In a classic, no nonsense, multiplayer style, Red Eclipse is a polished, slick and gorgeous looking game. Its small download size of around 650 MB, belies its true potential. The game is very easy to set up, has customisable controls, graphics and other features and you can even design your own maps. Find a server in game or simply play offline against bots. Have a look at the YouTube trailer for a taste:


10 must-have accessories for your tablet – Most of the gadgets in this collection will work with any tablet, with only a few specific to certain models. They are good purchases for self-owned tablets, and good gifts for tablet toting friends and family members. Father’s Day is coming up so these might be just the ticket.

50 Best iPhone Apps – From mainstay essentials to notable newcomers, here’s the 2014 edition of our 50 Best iPhone Apps list.

The Start Menu won’t be back until Windows 9 – The good news is that isn’t too far off: Windows 9 is expected to arrive in April of 2015. We’re not used to Microsoft releasing a major version update for Windows that early in the year, but the cycle has changed a lot in the last three years. Windows 8 has already undergone two fairly big revisions, and it’s not even two years old yet. Microsoft’s also been releasing a new Internet Explorer every year, something which took at least three years prior to IE9.

Turn old PC hardware into a home server with FreeNAS – PC lovers tend to collect a lot of hardware as the years roll by. Instead of leaving it to collect dust, why not repurpose it as a file-slinging server? Several free and open-source operating systems run extremely well on a wide array of older hardware. One in particular, FreeNAS, is extremely stable, easy to set up, and laser-focused on storing and sharing files across your home network. All you need is a working system with a reliable hard drive (or three) and a little time to configure everything.


All The News From WWDC 2014 – Apple carpet-bombed the OS X and iOS world at its 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, lifting the curtain on OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 and more, including the ability to allow iPhones to make calls through a Mac. What follows is TechCrunch’s complete coverage of the announcements including hands-on reports with the upcoming OS X and iOS features.


The desktop, flattened: OS X Yosemite in pictures – The final operating system won’t be released until the fall, but Apple’s site is replete with screenshots that show off most of the biggest changes. We’ve collected those changes below for you to look over while you wait to be accepted into the public beta program.


Apple will preview OS X Yosemite to first 1M beta testers – Apple today said the public can try out early versions of the OS X Yosemite operating system, the first time since 2000 the company has let large numbers of outsiders get an early look at an upcoming Mac OS.

Where to sign up for Apple’s OS X Yosemite beta – Apple just revealed OS X Yosemite, and is letting anyone sign up for a public beta of the new software.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Bing turns five, celebrates with history and Bing homepage gallery – Bing is celebrating its fifth year anniversary with a homepage gallery and brief synopsis of its five year evolution. Behind Google and Yahoo, Bing is the youngest of the three largest search engines.

Four reasons to get a remote control for your iPhone – Your iPhone is smaller than many remote controls—and can function as a remote control itself. So why would you need a remote control for your iPhone (or other iOS device)? A few months ago I would have thought the idea ridiculous. But it turns out that adding a Bluetooth remote control to my iOS devices has enabled me to solve some interesting problems and to make my iOS devices more useful. If you’ve never considered a remote control for your iOS devices, I’d like to suggest four uses that may change your mind.


Governments disrupt botnet “Gameover ZeuS” and ransomware “Cryptolocker” – The Justice Department announced Monday that over the weekend an international law enforcement operation had effectively disrupted a sprawling botnet that delivered “Gameover ZeuS”—a trojan that siphoned passwords to online banking sites from Microsoft Windows computers—as well as the malicious ransomware “Cryptolocker,” which locks individuals out of their own files until they agree to pay ransom to the criminals.

Download: CryptoPrevent 5.2 – CryptoPrevent is a tiny utility to lock down any Windows OS to prevent infection by the Cryptolocker malware or ‘ransomware’, which encrypts personal files and then offers decryption for a paid ransom.


How to protect yourself against Gameover Zeus and other botnets – The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that the Gameover Zeus (GOZ) botnet has been taken down in an effort dubbed “Operation Tovar.” The action was the result of a multinational effort between government agencies, law enforcement, and private companies to shut down the massive botnet responsible for more than $100 million in losses for victims. The cooperation necessary to take down the botnet is impressive, but there will be more, and it’s important for individuals to understand how to avoid falling victim to these threats.

Cybercriminals targeting the vulnerable: Symantec – As part of Stay Smart Online Week 2014, online security companies are warning children, parents, and businesses to remain cautious about the growth of cybercrimes, particularly when it comes to mobile devices.

Press H To Hack: Hacking in Videogames – With the release of Watch Dogs, we ponder the reality of a CCTV World and look at some of the best and worst examples of hacking in video games….

Gaming Site is New Home to Spammed Free Movie Links – Spammers move beyond blogging platforms to direct users to supposed movie downloads and streaming sites. Most recently, they’re using Steam….

Company News:

Intel to deliver cheaper 4K monitors in partnership with Samsung – Intel has partnered with Samsung to get you a 4K monitor very soon, and at half the price you’d pay today. Intel is specifically partnering with Samsung to increase delivery on high-quality, 23.6-inch PLS 4K panels, with a stated aim of such monitors hitting a US$399 (£239, AU$430) price point. For Intel based All-in-Ones, Intel believes we will also see 4K All-in-One prices starting from US$999 (£599, AU$1,080). This is around half the typical current price of 4K IPS and PLS monitors. These PLS, or Plane to Line Switching, monitors are very high-quality, with 100 percent sRGB coverage and Technicolor certification.

Google investing $1bn to bring Internet worldwide via 180 satellites – The new project will be an extension of Project Loon, which uses high flying balloons to carry Internet signal across the 40th parallel of the southern hemisphere. The project will be launching 180 high capacity low-orbiting satellites across the world, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Greg Wyler, satellite communications expert and founder of O3b Networks is said to be leading the project.

Apple says many users “bought an Android phone by mistake” – Apple CEO Tim Cook spent a moment during his keynote at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference today comparing user adoption of OS X Mavericks with that of Windows 8, mocking Microsoft’s OS for only managing to convince 14% of the total Windows user base to the 8.x versions. But Windows wasn’t the only operating system that he spent time berating.


5 iOS 8 features Apple obviously borrowed from Android – Tim Cook sure took some time out of today’s WWDC keynote to pick on Android users and the fragmentation that plagues the platform. He then followed up the jabs by introducing a slew of new features to the forthcoming iOS 8 that sounded really familiar—because many of them seem to have been lifted from Android.

Nine more countries to get Chromebooks, says Google… with a poem – Google has revealed that nine new markets around the world will soon be able to buy Chromebooks – although its announcement came in a slightly unusual manner; specifically, in the form of a poem.


Tech worker groups boycott IBM, Infosys, Manpower – Three U.S. tech worker groups have launched a labor boycott of IBM, Infosys and Manpower, saying the companies have engaged in a pattern that discourages U.S. workers from applying for U.S. IT jobs by tailoring employment ads toward overseas workers. The companies should look first for U.S. workers to fill U.S. IT jobs, said representatives of Bright Future Jobs, the Programmers Guild and WashTech.

Intel unveils Devil’s Canyon, its first 4GHz CPU, plus a 20th-anniversary Pentium processor – Intel’s fifth-generation Core processor family—code-named Broadwell—might be late, but the company has cooked up a couple of brand-new Haswell-class desktop CPUs that PC enthusiasts are sure to dig. Code-named Devil’s Canyon, Intel unveiled the all-new Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K processors at Computex on Tuesday (Taiwan time). Intel is also marking the 20th anniversary of its Pentium processor by introducing the all-new Pentium G3258.


Amazon workers in Germany extend strike over wages – Amazon’s trouble with workers in Germany isn’t going away, and the situation appears to be getting a bit worse. More than 600 people walked off the job over the weekend following a dispute over pay.

Games and Entertainment:

‘Dark Souls’ Now Available for Free on Xbox 360 – Xbox 360 owners with an Xbox Live Gold subscription can now pick up a free copy of From Software’s Dark Souls. Normally priced at $20, the game is free for Xbox Live Gold members from now through June 15 as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Games With Gold program. Even better — Microsoft this month is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Games With Gold by offering gamers an extra free Xbox 360 game on top of the usual ration of two. The two other free titles for June are Charlie Murder (normally priced at $10) and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (normally $30). These two will be available for download from June 16 to June 30.


Xbox One Games with Gold become unplayable if you stop paying for Xbox Live – Microsoft has confirmed that for Games with Gold on its latest console, you can only play the games with an active subscription. If you stop being a paid Gold member, the games remain on your Xbox One hard drive, but they are unplayable. However, if you start your subscription again they unlock.

VIDEO: Mortal Kombat X Coming in 2015 – Start practicing your finishing moves, because Mortal Kombat X is headed to a console near you in 2015. There is no official word on compatible platforms, but based on a leaked listing posted to Amazon U.K. Sunday, which was quickly removed, the title will be available for PC, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One sometime next year.


Homefront The Revolution preview: Overthrow American occupiers with open-world guerilla warfare – I’ll be honest: I’d sort of forgotten that THQ ever contracted Crytek for a Homefront sequel. I’d definitely forgotten that Crytek then purchased those rights when THQ went bankrupt just so they could finish creating said sequel. It exists. Crytek is making Homefront 2—titled Homefront The Revolution—a reality. They’re really making a sequel to a game best remembered (and not in a good way) for its infamous “Press X to hide in a mass grave” sequence. Even more of a surprise? Homefront 2 actually looks pretty interesting.


Apple gets heavy with gaming, announces Metal development platform: Epic, Crytek, PopCap reveal working demos of games with “ten times” the power – On Monday, Apple announced a new gaming development platform, dubbed Metal, at its Worldwide Developer Conference. The platform, much like DirectX12 or Mantle, bypasses the overhead of OpenGL, which currently serves as the standard for 3D graphics in iOS games and apps.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How does your brain respond to pain? The answer may surprise you – How does your brain handle pain? That’s the question educator Karen D. Davis set out to answer in her TED Ed educational video, an animated short that shows just how differently our brains respond to painful stimuli. It’s only about five minutes long, which shouldn’t be too, um, painful for you to sit through.


Oliver Stone: ‘America always wins’ – Oliver Stone got so sick of always reading the sanitised version of US history that he decided to write his own. He talks about the real reason America dropped the atom bomb, how Kennedy is a hero and why he can’t stand Hillary Clinton.

VIDEO: Kids React to 90s-Era Internet – Whether it’s at work or at home, the Web users of 2014 are constantly connected. Using the Internet today is easy, but 20 years ago, it was a relatively new tool that today’s teenagers take for granted. That was evident in the latest video from The Fine Brothers, who have a popular YouTube series in which they ask kids about a variety of topics – from gay marriage to early Apple computers. Their latest video features teenagers reacting to a very cheesy video tutorial of the Internet from 1997.


Dice rolled in space: a collection of space photography – Dice — or perhaps just a singular die — was rolled in wide-open space for what may be the first time by American astronaut Reid Wiseman, who snapped a picture of the little red cube as it floated above the Earth. Despite how it might appear, the die is entirely real, and is accompanied by some other nifty images.


New process can extract clean water from cow poop, and it might change the world – This new solution takes advantage of the fact that manure, like almost everything else in biology, is made up mostly of water. Extracting that water can reduce the sheer volume of the poop enormously, making it easier to store and discard. What’s more, this technique lets the researchers extract some of the most useful agricultural substances in the manure, so the clean, extracted water can itself be used as a fertilizer.

Watch the secret life of your dirty dishes – In 2013, YouTube user Bito had a dream: To see exactly what goes on inside his running dishwasher. So he stuck a GoPro Hero 3 camera in there, along with two light sources, and let ‘er rip! Ladies and gentleman, this is what happens during the full wash cycle of Bito’s older-model dishwasher. Spoiler: The video’s footage may make you feel a little more dirty than clean. You’ve been warned.


Something to think about:

“History is more or less bunk.”

–    Henry Ford

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.


NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.


Simple Sticky Notes – Simple Sticky Notes is a lightweight and easy to use piece of software designed to enable you to take notes so you never forget about anything ever again.

This application will sit quietly in your system tray, just in case you need it and help you create as many notes as you might need.


RichText support

Colorful and Transparent


Snap to desktop edges

Hide/Show all notes option


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

As Snowden Anniversary Nears, EFF Urges Users to Ramp Up Privacy and Security – Time flies when you’re having fun. But it apparently also flies when there’s a new story every other day about NSA surveillance. It’s been nearly one year since the first story sourced from the documents Edward Snowden stole from the agency appeared, and with that in mind, the EFF is encouraging people to commemorate the day by installing privacy and security tools to protect their communications.

The EFF has been at the forefront of the resistance to NSA surveillance programs for years, filing a number of lawsuits and legal challenges to the agency’s authority and collection programs. The group also has been lobbying Congress to pass legislation to restrict the NSA’s surveillance activities. Now it’s trying to get everyday users to motivated to resist mass surveillance efforts by installing and using a group of privacy and security apps and extensions for Web and mobile communications.

The Privacy Pack, which is what the EFF is calling the group of tools, includes encrypted chat apps, encrypted text and private calling apps for Android, encryption extensions for browsers, as well as the Tor anonymity tool. Along with Tor, the bundle includes HTTPS Everywhere, Textsecure and Redphone for Android, Pidgin and Adium for private chats and GPGtools and Enigmail.

Edward Snowden NSA whistleblowing story to be filmed by Oliver Stone – He has tackled the Kennedy assassination and the Watergate break-in, the Vietnam conflict and the Bush administration’s “war on terror”. Now the Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone is set to whip up fresh controversy with his adaptation of The Snowden Files, an account of the ongoing NSA scandal written by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding.

Stone’s thriller will focus on the experiences of the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked thousands of classified documents to the former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald back in June 2013. The film is to be produced by Stone’s regular business partner Moritz Borman, with Harding and other Guardian journalists serving as production and story consultants.

“This is one of the greatest stories of our time,” Stone, 67, said in a statement. “A real challenge. I’m glad to have the Guardian working with us.” Stone’s previous films include Platoon, JFK and W. The director has also made documentaries on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, together with a 2012 TV series, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden would not get a fair trial – and Kerry is wrong – As the author knows from direct chat-log conversations with him over the past year, Snowden acted in full knowledge of the constitutionally questionable efforts of the Obama administration, in particular, to use the Espionage Act in a way it was never intended by Congress.

John Kerry was in my mind Wednesday morning, and not because he had called me a patriot on NBC News. I was reading the lead story in the New York Times – “US Troops to Leave Afghanistan by End of 2016” – with a photo of American soldiers looking for caves. I recalled not the Secretary of State but a 27-year-old Kerry, asking, as he testified to the Senate about the US troops who were still in Vietnam and were to remain for another two years: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

I wondered how a 70-year-old Kerry would relate to that question as he looked at that picture and that headline. And then there he was on MSNBC an hour later, thinking about me, too, during a round of interviews about Afghanistan that inevitably turned to Edward Snowden ahead of my fellow whistleblower’s own primetime interview that night:

There are many a patriot – you can go back to the Pentagon Papers with Dan Ellsberg and others who stood and went to the court system of America and made their case. Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a traitor, and he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.

On the Today show and CBS, Kerry complimented me again – and said Snowden “should man up and come back to the United States” to face charges. But John Kerry is wrong, because that’s not the measure of patriotism when it comes to whistleblowing, for me or Snowden, who is facing the same criminal charges I did for exposing the Pentagon Papers.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 3, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 2, 2014

Smile: Your Selfie Is A Mugshot For The NSA;  Truecrypt move to Switzerland, attempting a fork;  5 alternative encryption tools that can lock down your data;  Want to be forgotten by Google?  Here’s how you do it;  Top Android phones (June 2014 edition);  Optimize Your Tablet For Movies on The Go;  New attacks defeat Secure Boot and brick PCs;  How to control your Facebook privacy;  Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review: Swinging nowhere;  Is Some Tech Too Addictive?  Roadmap to physical immortality: The end of death in 7 easy steps; Prospector Lite (free);  Use a friend’s Android to find your own;  Pixar Renderman software set free;  Yell to find your lost iPhone, and it will yell back.

NSA harvests millions of images daily to build new facial recognition system – Edward Snowden has revealed documents showing that the NSA actively collects millions of images of the faces of citizens each day to be used in a new facial recognition system to identify criminals. Neither surveillance or privacy laws specifically offer protection for the collection of facial images and it is not clear whether the operation takes place just within the USA or if other countries have also been targeted.


Facial recognition software is getting increasingly complex and can now accurately identify hundreds of points at once.

Australia may join Russia in reconsidering government transparency – Australia may join Russia in being one of the only countries to pull out of the global pledge for transparent government known as the Open Government Partnership.The partnership, which currently has around 64 countries signatories including the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Norway, was launched in September 2011. Countries that sign onto the agreement have to pledge to put more information into the public domain and make it accessible to the public.

Truecrypt move to Switzerland, attempting a fork – Enter, a new site dedicated to organizing a grassroots effort to bring the encryption tool back to life. The site, organized by Thomas Bruderer and Joseph Doekbrijder, is based in Switzerland to help avoid potential future legal threats, and demands that developers not hide in the shadows anymore. They list their three top priorities, including waiting for the crypto security analysis to be finalized, and clearly are trying to set things up before jumping into the deep end. In addition to trying to revive Truecrypt, they also offer the 7.1a version for download, as well as all of the older versions. It remains to be seen whether this organization will complete its mission, but there’s definitely a need for a tool like Truecrypt.

So long, TrueCrypt: 5 alternative encryption tools that can lock down your data – Open-source legend TrueCrypt may be gone, but the usefulness of full disk encryption carries on. But if the brouhaha has you feeling skittish, or if you want to move on to encryption software that’s actively being developed, options abound. As popular as it is (was?), TrueCrypt is far from the only encryption tool around. In fact, many mainstream operating systems already come with an encryption tool built-in. Here’s a look at a few full disk encryption options that can take the sting out of TrueCrypt’s sudden disappearance.

Google’s “Right to be Forgotten” gets 12,000 requests in one day – Google’s “right to be forgotten” service is wildly popular. The Europe-only option, which comes after a judgement based on one person’s desire to have information about his stricken from Google’s search results, has drawn 12,000 requests. The tool has been available for less than one day.

Want to be forgotten by Google? Here’s how you do it – Google has launched a form where those who want the search giant to stop linking to outdated information about them can file their request.

Backlash over Facebook’s ‘listening’ feature is a problem of trust – Facebook will soon be listening to its users — literally — but some of them wish it would cover its ears. The social network is in the doghouse again, this time for an upcoming feature that will allow it to listen in on its users via their smartphone’s microphone. But the backlash might reveal more about people’s declining trust in Facebook than about the feature itself.

Optimize Your Tablet For Movies on The Go – Your tablet isn’t just a way to be productive on the go, it’s also a portable portal for watching movies and other video entertainment. Upgrade the viewing experience for maximum satisfaction on any Intel-powered tablet with these seven tips.

Top Android phones (June 2014 edition) – Time once again to take a tour of a handful of the best Android phones currently available on the market (June 2014). Here are ten of the best Android-powered handsets currently on offer, so whether you’re after a handset for personal use, of one suited to BYOD, there bound to be one here for you.

Three Acer Liquid phones flow into Canada – Three unlocked, Android-powered Acer Liquid smartphones landed in Canada on Monday, aimed at more price-conscious users seeking style but not necessarily all the speeds and feeds. Running Android 2.2 Jelly Bean on an HSPA+ network, this threesome ranges in price and power, but all come in under $400 CAD.


The Acer Liquid S1 is one of three Android phones headed to Canada.

Use a friend’s Android to find your own – If you’re away from the computer and lose your Android, your first reaction may have been to race home to check the GPS location of your device. With the recent update to the Android Device Manager, you can check the location from a friend’s device instead.

Yell to find your lost iPhone, and it will yell back – Like the swimming pool game it’s named after, this new app is fun. Holler to find your misplaced gadget and it will respond, cluing you in on its location.

10 indispensable iPhone apps for Windows users – If you’re one of the two out of three Windows users who also own Apple products, you may not realize you can use the traditionally adversarial platforms to get a productivity edge. Microsoft made waves when it launched Office Mobile for iPhone and the Office for iPad apps, but those were just the biggest steps in a strategy the company has been building for awhile. As a result, there are a slew of iPhone apps to help those who depend on Microsoft tools to get things done. Here are the 10 most essential.

Pixar Renderman software set free so you can make your own Toy Story – Aspiring animators, listen up! Pixar’s working on a brand new version of Renderman, the in-house software they use to render (duh) all their awesome digital creations. There are a slew of improvements coming, but the big news is that there’s a version you can download for free. That’s a pretty amazing giveaway — Renderman is a $500 piece of software. Between Autodesk offering students a free download of Maya and the new Renderman v19 being completely free, young amateur animation enthusiasts have access to two of the tools that power some of the highest-grossing animated features in the history of cinema.


DIY IoT computer smaller than a square inch – A Chinese crowd-funded effort has produced what could be – for now, at least – the smallest Linux computer-on-module so far, and with its research effort oversubscribed, says it will be shipping its “VoCore” devices by October 2014. The 25 x 25mm embedded system isn’t designed for fat compute loads, but at a list price of $US20 for a basic WiFi-only system (if you need wired connections, a self-assembled dock is available for $US20, pre-assembled for $US25), the target is home automation and Internet of Things applications. Running OpenWrt on Linux, the square-inch (roughly) computer has 32 MB of SDRAM, 8 MB of FPI Flash, and a 360 MHz RT5350 MIPS processor (vendor Ralink describes the device as a router-on-a-chip).


Major UK online retailer now selling Lumia 930… for £1299 – UK retailer – part of Shop Direct, one of Britain’s largest online retail groups – has started selling the long-awaited Lumia 930. But at £1299 ($2180), it’s not exactly a bargain.


New case for iPhone receives notifications of texts, calls before your phone does – The case uses excess energy from your phone when communicating with a network. Differences between incoming wavelengths allow the case to tell calls and messages apart. Email notifications could also be added in future versions. There is no need for charging, or a Bluetooth connection to use the case. The CFO of Concepter, Oleg Vinokur told Mashable that “It’s easy to miss a call or notification,” and added “With our technology, you can actually see it. It’s very visual.”

Springpad shutting down forever on June 25th – Springpad, a once-popular note taking app for Android and iOS, is shutting down. The company has begun sending emails letting users know the end of days are coming. A hard deadline has been set, but those who are still using it can export data ahead of the shutdown.

The five most popular end-user Linux distributions – Sure, on the desktop, Windows still rules. According to Stat Counter’s’ April 2014 data, Windows has about a 90 percent market share. Out of an approximate base of 1.5 billion PCs, that’s about 1.36 billion Windows PCs. So, guess what’s the number two end-user operating system in the world?


New attacks defeat Secure Boot and brick PCs – The Secure Boot security mechanism of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) can be bypassed on around half of computers that have the feature enabled in order to install bootkits, according to a security researcher.

How to control your Facebook privacy – Facebook offers several tools and settings through which you can safeguard your privacy. But it’s still up to you to control your own socially networked destiny. On Thursday, Facebook tweaked the default option for new members so that updates are shared only with friends and not with the public. In line with that change, let’s take a tour through Facebook’s basic privacy settings. Tightening these settings can help ensure that you’re as well-hidden as possible on the world’s largest social network.


Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Anonymous offline file-sharing software PirateBox hits v1.0 – PirateBox is a local offline network for sharing files and communicating anonymously. PirateBox is software, but you can install it on lots of things like a Raspberry Pi or a router. The official version of PirateBox is designed for nano-routers like the TP-LINK TL-WR702N, but the ports of v1.0 are sure to follow soon. When you connect to a PirateBox device, you’re taken to a browser welcome page that explains the gist of how things work. You can build a PirateBox for as little as $35, because the software is completely free and open source. This matches the ethos of PirateBox — it’s not about piracy in the way we’ve come to think about it, but about openness and free culture.


Brazilian government hit by cyberattack – The internal communications system of the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations has been hit by hackers earlier this week. The authors of the attack to the system — which serves the External Relations ministry, as well as Brazilian embassies worldwide and carries a certain amount of sensitive information that is sometimes encrypted – and the objective of the hackers are still unknown.

Dutch scientists teleport data, creating foundations for a hack-proof internet – A team of Dutch scientists has reportedly managed to ‘teleport’ information between two computers. The news came through a publication in a popular science journal, where they claimed to exchange data between two computers despite a lack of any connection. The technology used during this breakthrough has led Professor Ronald Hanson to claim that it would be possible to teleport ourselves with distance in the future.

Company News:

Google to close American Motorola smartphone factory – A year ago, Google proudly announced that its new Moto X smartphone would be built in the US. It fitted out a factory near Fort Worth, TX and claimed that the facility would make for a “leaner, more efficient” operation. It looks like those efficiencies haven’t materialized, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the factory will be closed by the end of the year. At its height, the plant employed more than 3,800 people to build Moto X phones. Currently, that number is around 700.

China’s Inspur vows to take over IBM’s local business – Late last week the Chinese server business unveiled its “IBM to Inspur” initiative in Jinan, Shandong province, vowing to take over IBM’s server business in the country after reports indicated China’s government has banned local banks from using IBM servers due to security concerns. On Thursday, Inspur told Chinese media the company is ready to “comprehensively” take over IBM’s server business in China.  Some 80 IBM former employees have already joined Inspur, according to the company.

Report: Google Readying Android TV Debut for Late June – Goodbye Google TV; hello Android TV. At least, that’s according to the latest reports from GigaOM, which indicate that Google will officially debut its new television software platform at Google I/O in late June. While the core differences between the company’s Google TV efforts and its new Android TV platform can be a wee confusing, GigaOM reports that the latter is going to be designed with simplicity in mind. Think online services and Android-based video games, with some of the usual media services lining up for the platform’s launch (Netflix, Hulu, et cetera).

AppliedMicro to crank up mobile chips to 16 cores for servers – AppliedMicro will talk about its faster and more power-efficient processors called X-Gene 2 and X-Gene 3, which has 3D transistors and 16 cores, at a forum in Taipei hosted by Digitimes Friday, ahead of next week’s Computex trade show. The company’s first 64-bit X-Gene low-power chip is based on ARM architecture and will be in servers by the end of this year.

OpenDNS to yank ads from its free consumer services – OpenDNS yesterday said it would drop in-browser advertisements from its free consumer services next week because its pivot to an enterprise security provider has been successful.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft acquires Rise of Nations, will launch Extended Edition in June – Microsoft continues to re-release its classic PC RTS games in new editions. After publishing Age of Empires II HD in 2013 and Age of Mythology: Extended Edition in May, the company has announced it will release Rise of Nations: Extended Edition sometime in June via Steam.


Inside Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s MOBA mash-up of Diablo, StarCraft, and WarCraft – The world of multiplayer online battle arena games is becoming increasingly crowded, but Blizzard Entertainment is bringing the star power of its beloved PC game series—like WarCraft, Diablo, and StarCraft—to the fight in hopes of creating another hit and claiming victory over the likes of Riot Games’ League of Legends, Turbine’s Infinite Crisis, and Valve’s Dota 2.


You might be able to own one of the Atari 2600 games that was buried in New Mexico – While some of the game that were found at the landfill will be given to the documentary team, others will be offered to local and national museums. Some of the games will also be sold to the general public and the city commission was told this week they have already been getting offers from unnamed buyers. Exactly how and when they will be sold has yet to be determined. The city commissioners were also told that there are 790,000 Atari games that are still buried at the landfill site.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review: Swinging nowhere – Every year or two they release a new Spider-Man game. Every year or two I get my hopes up that the developers have made a proper follow-up to 2004’s Spider-Man 2—the only fun Spider-Man game in recent memory. We’re now a decade out from that, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 shares (mostly) the same title as that lone bright spot. Is this the Spider-Man game that will break the long streak of stinkers? Nope.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Roadmap to physical immortality: The end of death in 7 easy steps – A series of infographics released this month by the design firm Art Lebedev lays out the possible end of death along seven broad lines of research. It takes us through the various ways we could achieve this goal, even including some fields that perhaps extend something other than life.


Is Some Tech Too Addictive? – Addiction can be a difficult thing to see. From outward appearances, Dr. Zoe Chance looked fine. A professor at the Yale School of Management with a doctorate from Harvard, Chance’s pedigree made what she revealed in front of a crowded TEDx audience all the more shocking. “I’m coming clean today telling this story for the very first time in its raw ugly detail,” she said. “In March of 2012 … I purchased a device that would slowly begin to ruin my life.”

Pull Over, Google Car: 6 Other Crazy Transportation Innovations – Oh, Google. You think you’re so smart with your steering wheel-less, pedal-less, driverless car, don’t you? “Look, guys, no hands!” But we’ve got news for you: You’re not the only transportation innovation game in town. Here are six other ways tech is—or could—totally revolutionizing the way we get from A to B:


Terrafugia’s prototype flying car, dubbed the Transition, during its first flight, May 23, 2012.

Researchers erase, restore memories in rats – If you could forget a painful memory, would you? It’s a hypothetical question, but maybe it could really happen one day — and, more interestingly, maybe lost memories could be restored. It’s this last part that was of particular interest to researchers University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, who have managed to accomplish both in lab rats.

Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde arrested in Sweden – Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde was arrested in Southern Sweden on Saturday, Reuters reported. Sunde was convicted of aiding copyright infringement in 2009 and was sentenced to a year in prison, plus a fine. That year of jail time was reduced to eight months, but in 2012 Sunde failed to appear at the Swedish prison where he was to be incarcerated, and he has been wanted by Interpol ever since.

Something to think about:

“If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.”

–    Tryon Edwards

Today’s Free Downloads:

Prospector Lite – Automate your searching on eBay, Half and RSS feeds – one click to replay all your searches, another click to see the items listed since your last update. With Prospector, you can do this and more.

If you’re a power buyer, reseller or collector, Prospector will save you time and help you find the best items.

For long term searching, Prospector lets you:

Organize your searches and customize your results.

Encode your strategies, set up filters, and save everything for easy replay.

Search comprehensively and consistently, every time.

For short term searching, Prospector provides unique tools to help you uncover more items of interest.

Drastically reduce your search time. Find better faster. Prospector makes it easy!


Save and organize an unlimited number of searches.

Powerful filter options let you cut the noise.

See the search results as you like.

Customizable toolbar for short-term shopping and research.

Comparison shop across your favorite sites.

Automatic searches with email notification.

Add notes and highlighting, archive listings.

Hide items from future views.

Latest Listings feature lets you see the items listed between your search updates.

Extra search tools for casual browsing and discovery.

High productivity Watch lists.


Dragon’s Prophet – Dragon’s Prophet is an online role-playing game which features all virtues of a classic MMORPG and “evolutionizes” them. Players will experience immense dragon features and an epic story in a modern fantasy world, including next-gen elements such as action-based combat, deep character development and the extensive cross-server Frontier PvP system.

In a world shaped by dragon-kind, hundreds of unique dragons roam the lands. CAPTURE, TRAIN, RIDE, and FIGHT them in order to unlock their unique skills and abilities.


DarkWave Studio – DarkWave Studio is a free, open source, Digital Audio Workstation for Windows. Featuring a modular Virtual Studio, Pattern Editor, Sequence Editor and Multitrack Hard Disk Recorder. It has support for VST/VSTi instrument and effect plugins. The virtual studio has a modular design allowing machines to be connected in an ad-hoc fashion. The pattern editor enables the quick creation and modification of patterns by clicking to add or delete notes and dragging notes to move or resize them. The sequence editor allows you to queue patterns to play for each control track in any arrangement, enabling reuse of patterns and quickly remixing projects. The Multitrack Hard Disk Recorder allows you to record the output of any machine and record it to 16-bit Integer of 32-bit Floating Point PCM encoded .WAV files for full-quality post-production editing or for conversion to MP3/FLAC/etc.


Native x64 and x86 Windows Platform Support

VST PlugIn Support – Limitlessly Expandable With Instrument and Effects PlugIns

ASIO Audio Driver Support – Low Latency Output

Multi Core / Multi CPU Support

Makes Use Of SSE2 Optimizations When Supported By The CPU

Full 64-bit Double Precision Floating Point Audio Processing

Bundled PlugIns:

ES ControlChange Mapper – Map Control Change Events From One Index To Another

ES MIDI Input – Play Instruments From A Music Keyboard

ES MIDI Output – Sequence External MIDI Synthesizers

ES Mixer – 8 Track Stereo Mixer With 2 Auxilary Tracks

ES DGenR8 – Synthesize Drum Beats With Roland TR-909 Flavour

ES BassHead – Top Notch Virtual Analog Subtractive Synthesizer

ES SpatialVerb – Realistic Reverb Effects With The Smoothest Sound

ES Stomp – Synthesize That Classic Techno Thumping Kick Drum

ES AntiAlias – 32x Digital Oversampling Filter


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Smile: Your Selfie Is A Mugshot For The NSA – A report in The New York Times, based on documents from 2011 obtained by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveals that the US security agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly under the Obama administration – coinciding with a rise in popularity of taking and tagging self portraits on online social networks.

The newspaper reports that the agency has turned to new software to process the flood of images being included in digital communication including social media, email, messaging, videoconferencing and other types of online comms. The 2011 documents show that agency officials believe technological advances in facial recognition software could revolutionize the way the NSA finds intelligence targets around the world.

According to the documents, the agency intercepts “millions” of images per day — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — although it is not clear how many images the agency has amassed in total at this point. The NSA describes facial recognition technology as offering “tremendous untapped potential” for tracking intelligence targets.

As well as its own in-house facial recognition software, the documents cited in the report note that the NSA also relies on commercially available facial recognition tech, including PittPatt — a company owned by Google – to process the data it is harvesting.

Snowden shoots back: ‘So you DO have my emails, after all’ – Edward Snowden says the US National Security Agency is lying when it says it has no record of his emails to supervisors raising concerns about NSA surveillance programs, and that the release of one of his emails on Thursday proves it.

The NSA has long maintained that Snowden never voiced his concerns through proper channels before fleeing the US with a trove of secret documents, a position the agency reiterated on Thursday when it published what it claimed was the only email it could find from him.

That email contained a seemingly innocuous question about a legal matter and did not raise any specific objections to any NSA programs.

But in an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday, Snowden said that if the NSA can find one of his emails – after months of denying that its lawyers and higher-ups ever had any contact with him – then it must surely have the others he maintains he sent.

“Today’s release is incomplete, and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance,” Snowden said.

He added that in the latter correspondence, he was told that secret Presidential Executive Orders could take precedence over an act of Congress, directly contradicting the response from the NSA’s Office of General Counsel that was published on Thursday.

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