Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 4, 2014

Your guide to DIY, open-source, anonymous free computing;  Use Tor or ‘EXTREMIST’ Tails Linux? Congrats, you’re on an NSA list;  iOS: Recover photos, messages and more with PhoneRescue;  Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now;  Facebook Messenger for iPad finally hits App Store;  QUIZ: How Much of a Tech Criminal Are You?  16 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know;  9 apps for the 4th of July: Light up the night with these fireworks-themed apps;  How to back up your Google Voice data;  Meditation podcasts to help you relieve stress;  10 apps to power your summer road trip;  The scary truth about data security with wearables;  Conficker: Still spamming after all these years’’.

Digital independence day: Your guide to DIY, open-source, anonymous free computing – The Founding Fathers may never have considered digital independence, but you can. Technology’s marching toward smaller, non-upgradable devices and oodles of free cloud storage threatens to  chain you to specific services or platforms. Fight back with our tips for going DIY on computer building and maintenance, keeping control of your own data, moving to open-source software, and protecting your online privacy.

Use Tor or ‘EXTREMIST’ Tails Linux? Congrats, you’re on an NSA list – Alleged leaked documents about the NSA’s XKeyscore snooping software appear to show the paranoid agency is targeting Tor and Tails users, Linux Journal readers – and anyone else interested in online privacy. Apparently, this configuration file for XKeyscore is in the divulged data, which was obtained and studied by members of the Tor project and security specialists for German broadcasters NDR and WDR.

In their analysis of the alleged top-secret documents, they claim the NSA is, among other things:

Specifically targeting Tor directory servers

Reading email contents for mentions of Tor bridges

Logging IP addresses of people who search for privacy-focused websites and software

And possibly breaking international law in doing so.

EPIC FACEBOOK FAIL: FTC complaint filed about creepy research – The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed an official complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a research project that manipulated news feeds to mess with the emotions of its users. EPIC claims that the terms and conditions the company had in force at the time did not cover the use of customer data for research purposes, and alleges that Facebook retroactively changed its T&Cs four months after the project was complete. “Facebook’s conduct is both a deceptive trade practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act and a violation of the Commission’s 2012 Consent Order,” the complaint reads.

Facebook is always trying to alter people’s behavior, says former data scientist – We’re hardly ever fast to wake up to what might be going on with our data. But once in a while, we’re suddenly roused and make a noise. Now, a former member of Facebook’s Data Science team has revealed that, for much of its existence since 2007, the team operated with seemingly little supervision. Andrew Ledvina, who was on Facebook’s team from February 2012 to July 2013, told the Wall Street Journal: “There’s no review process, per se. Anyone on that team could run a test. They’re always trying to alter people’s behavior.” Ledvina suggested that tests were conducted with such regularity that some scientists worried that the same people’s data was being analyzed more than once.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 apps to power your summer road trip – Need to better organize your summer road trip, but aren’t exactly sure how? We made it easy. Check out these 10 cool apps that you and the kids can use out on the road.

QUIZ: How Much of a Tech Criminal Are You? – When it comes to online behavior, it’s pretty easy to get into some shady territory. So, maybe you’re not trying to record movies with Google Glass, but if you’ve ever “gotten a screener” (from The Pirate Bay), you’re far from alone. That too risky for you? Well, there’s nothing really wrong with using your sainted mother’s HBO GO password to watch the finale of Game of Thrones. Right? It’s not like you’re buying tons of heroin on Silk Road or anything. Take our quiz below to find out just how heavily your soul is weighted thanks to the things you get up to in front of your computer. Oh, by the way: taking this quiz also might be a crime. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.

16 Tips Every Amazon Addict Should Know – If you also proudly drink the Amazonian Kool-aid, then check out these tips. All are here for one reason and one reason alone: to help you get the absolute best out of your shopping experience. Whether that’s better prices, faster shipping (even without drones), or abundant purchasing options, we’ve got them. If we missed your favorite, share it in the comments so everyone can benefit.

iOS: Recover photos, messages and more with PhoneRescue – Many users attempting to install the recent iOS 7.1.2 update may have needed to reclaim space in order to upgrade their phone — for many, this meant deleting photos, music or even messages. There is another way that lets you keep your data and make space, PhoneRescue.


Reelagram Turns Instagram Photos Into View-Master Reels – Before there was Oculus Rift and Cardboard, there was View-Master. Children who grew up in the analog era will have special memories of this stereoscopic viewer and its accompanying cardboard disks featuring images of their favorite characters and scenes from books, TV shows, and movies. Now, a company called Reelagram is tapping into our collective nostalgia for this simpler time by offering a new way to print and view Instagram photos. Yes, via a View-Master-like device which you can buy online alongside the photo reels.


How to back up your Google Voice data – Don’t panic! Nothing has been confirmed about Google Voice being shut down for good — but that doesn’t mean you should you skip an opportunity to back up your data. Google Takeout is a great tool that lets you export data from services like Gmail, YouTube, and even Google Voice. Although nothing has been confirmed about the integration of Google Voice into the Hangouts application, now is a great time to make sure you won’t lose any important texts or voice mails.

Music Streaming Eats Downloads With On-Demand Up 42% Over 2013, Digital Sales Down – Nielsen’s U.S. music report on the first half of 2014 shows digital music consumption rapidly shifting from downloads to streaming. On-demand streaming was up 42% over the first half of 2013, racking up 70 billion play in the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, digital track sales fell 13% to 593.6 million and album sales fell 11.6% to 53.8 million. The report on US trends (not international) makes Apple’s acquisition of Beats looks smart, as its iTunes download sales model is quickly dying out. As a whole, dismal digital and physical sales dragged total music sales plus streaming industry down 3.3%.

Facebook Messenger for iPad finally hits App Store – Facebook Messenger for iPad has finally been released, bringing the social network’s standalone IM client to Apple’s tablet. Previously only available on the iOS tablet as a doubled iPhone app, the new Messenger supports the same text chats, voice calls, and stickers as its phone counterpart, but in version 7.0 introduces a scaled-up UI.


Give your brain a workout with Lumosity – There are several activities that you can do to keep your mind sharp. Some people like crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Perhaps you’re more into trivia, or word problems. Or maybe you’re hip to quick games designed to work out your brain through various exercises. The creators of Lumosity have collaborated with researchers around the world to build this program as part of what’s called the Human Cognition Project. Seven studies have been published since 2007 that show Lumosity’s benefits, so it’s pretty legit.


9 apps for the 4th of July: Light up the night with these fireworks-themed apps – We celebrate the Fourth of July with backyard BBQ and “Independence Day” reruns. But the holiday’s about honoring America’s fiercely independent spirit and the patriots who fought for our enduring political freedoms. Nothing symbolizes the spirit of independence better than fireworks, which have been part of Fourth of July festivities since 1777. To find, photograph, or even play with fireworks, check out our picks for the best fireworks-themed apps.

Meditation podcasts to help you relieve stress – Here’s a collection of free meditation podcasts that I listen to via my iPhone and iPad when I need a healthy dose of rest, relief, or relaxation. These guided podcasts are all available through iTunes, but you can find several of them on their own dedicated websites to listen to via your computer or other device. Android users should also be able to catch some of them by installing any one of a number of dedicated podcast apps highlighted in this article by CNET’s Scott Webster.


The minimalist guide to summer travel tech – Here are some tried-and-true tips on how to make the most out of toting the fewest gadgets and entanglements possible.

The scary truth about data security with wearables – Data brokers collect data from numerous sources for everyone in the US. It is alarming how much data is collected and the potential for security breaches, particularly from wearable devices. And someone isn’t immune just because they avoid social media and wearables. The FTC said data brokers collect an average of 3,000 data segments on nearly every US consumer. Here is the type of data that brokers collect, according to the FTC report….


Microsoft slates critical IE, Windows patches for Tuesday – According to Thursday’s advanced notice, which briefly described the July updates, the second critical bulletin will patch all client editions of Windows — from Vista to Windows 8.1 — and all server versions except for those running on systems powered by Intel’s Itanium processors. Windows Server 2008 and Server 2012 systems provisioned by installing only the Server Core — a minimal install with many features and services omitted to lock down the machine — are also exempt from Bulletin 2, Microsoft said.

Your Android phone is a SNITCH: Wi-Fi bug makes you easy to track – Your mobile device could be compromising your privacy by broadcasting your location history over the air, even when it is in sleep mode, according to new research by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Of particular concern are newer Android gadgets, specifically those running Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” or later. That version of the Google OS introduced a feature called Preferred Network Offload (PNO), which has a habit of broadcasting the names of the last 15 Wi-Fi networks a device has joined, even when the screen is off.

Five WordPress Plugins You Should Update Right Now – WordPress powers over 70 million Websites around the world, making it an attractive target for cyber-criminals. Attackers frequently hijack vulnerable WordPress installations to host spam pages and other malicious content. Researchers have uncovered a number of serious vulnerabilities in these popular WordPress plugins over the last few weeks. Check your administrator dashboard and make sure you have the latest versions installed.

Take precautions when using Gmail—or any other email service – Nothing in this world is ever entirely safe, and that goes double for anything that lives in the cloud. If you use Gmail, your mail could be read by someone other than the intended recipient, or your account just might get hijacked. That’s the case with every email service. Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or your ISP’s email service, you need to protect yourself. I’ll concentrate on Gmail here, but the basic advice applies to any mail service.

Israel Army’s Twitter account hacked, posts ‘incorrect’ tweets – Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly escalating as the two sides intensify their ground battle around the Gaza Strip. It appears their conflict has now also been brought online as the Israel Defense Forces Twitter account was hacked on Thursday. The official IDF spokesperson account sent out an apology tweet saying, “We apologize for the incorrect tweets. Our twitter account was compromised. We will combat terror on all fronts including the cyber dimension.”

Conficker: Still spamming after all these years – How pathetic is the security in many enterprises? Almost six years since the patch to stop it was issued, Conficker is still one of the most common threats.

Company News:

T-Mobile CEO reiterates innocence, slams FTC for ‘sensationalizing’ – John Legere, T-Mobile’s chief executive, again called out the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, claiming the agency was “sensationalizing” its claims against the cell phone carrier. The FTC filed a complaint Tuesday against the company, alleging T-Mobile has made hundreds of millions of dollars on fees from “premium” text messages that customers didn’t request. The messages, often sent as a joke or flirting tips, can cost $9.99 a month. The US carriers agreed in November to end the practice, banning companies from sending these kinds of messages, and T-Mobile recently introduced a program to try to refund customers for the messages.

Lights out for Yahoo’s Shine site, Xobni email apps, other products – Yahoo is shutting down a range of products, including apps from its acquisition of email management service Xobni, and its Shine women’s lifestyle site.

HomeAway Mulls Venture Fund As It Hits A Milestone – The vacation rental marketplace HomeAway is pondering a move into backing startup companies. As it passes a recent milestone of breaking more than 1 million listings on its service, one of the first online marketplaces to challenge the hotel industry may begin making minority investments in companies that would add value to its service.


Tri-band Wi-Fi chips for multi-gigabit streaming coming from Qualcomm – Qualcomm has purchased Wilocity, a startup making Wi-Fi chips that support multi-gigabit streaming by operating in the 60GHz band. Qualcomm will combine Wilocity technology with its own more traditional Wi-Fi chips to create a tri-band platform.

Games and Entertainment:

4th of July gaming: Transformers MMO goes Open Beta – Starting tomorrow, Transformers Universe will go from Closed to Open Beta for the whole world. Users like yourself will be able to head to the Transformers Universe webpage, sign up, and jump in within the day. What’s excellent about this game beyond the fact that you can transform into a vehicle to travel from place to place is that this game works for both Windows PC and Mac!


Turtle Rock begins registration for Evolve PC alpha – Turtle Rock Studios and publisher 2K have announced a limited alpha for their upcoming game Evolve. We were able to catch a glimpse of the four-versus-one shooter at this years E3 and it looked fairly impressive to say the least. This comes as no surprise as the studio behind the game has released previously highly rated titles, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Connected devices responsible for billions in wasted energy – Connected devices come in many flavors, some from big-name companies, others from lesser known entities looking to nab their piece of the industry pie. Regardless, the market is filled with energy-inefficient products, and they are having an unfortunate effect: billions of dollars in wasted electricity every year.

Fox News rips off BioShock Infinite logo – Whoever’s responsible for graphic design on “Fox & Friends” is not having a good day. This designer appears to have used a rather familiar source for their design of a “Defending the Homeland” segment marker as it looks rather familiar to a game we’ve played recently. The game: Bioshock Infinite. The design: main logo – typography, stars, colors, and all.


This incredible floating display belongs in a sci-fi movie – Floating displays may be the stuff of science-fiction, but one research team is looking to make them real, using a carefully tuned acoustic-potential field to create swarms of particles clustered into physical graphics. Dubbed Pixie Dust – after the Peter Pan quote – the system can cause objects up to 7g per cubic centimeter to hover in moving forms, effectively translating digital objects into real, and with a Kinect sensor thrown in they can even respond to the viewer’s movements.


Something to think about:

“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.”

–    Dr. David M. Burns

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise PC 1stAid – Wise PC 1stAid is an intelligent software which has assembled most common PC problems and helps you fix them automatically through an intelligent process. It’s a rich PC solutions library and intelligent First-Aid help for you to fix PC problems.

Free of Charge – Wise PC 1stAid is one of the excellent freeware from Users can use it, update it and get technical support for it for free.

Easy to Match Problem – The interface is compact, direct and user-friendly. A phenomenon description, a screenshot image and a notice, the 3 are combined together as a Problem Suite. It’s easy for you to match your problem.

Fast, Automatic & Intelligent Fix – If a problem listed matches with your current problem, read the “notice” part carefully, then click the “Fix Now” button. Wise PC 1stAid will automatically start fixing your problem. All you have to do is to wait with patience while the software is solving your problem intelligently.

In-time, Unlimited & Active Enrichment – Currently, Wise PC 1stAid can fix problems like: Windows desktop icons error, cannot open hyperlink in outlook or other software, cannot open IE links, cannot open task manager, cannot open registry editor, lame internet surfing, program running not smoothly, too much memory occupied, slow startup, etc. They are only a part of it! The Problem Suites library of Wise PC 1stAid will keep being updated & enriched in a timely manner. More and more problems that users have encountered will be fixed here automatically.

Unlimited Technical Support – What if your problem does not match with any problem suite listed? Fill in a simple form here to submit your question and screenshot image, which will lead you to seek help on our forum. Problem you submitted will be displayed as a post there, and our professional technicians and other users would be pleased to help you with unlimited technical support.


Ginger – Ginger Proofreader, the first product to be released based on the NLP platform, is a free spelling and grammar checker, intended for both speakers of English as their mother tongue, and English as a second language (ESL). Ginger Proofreader checks and corrects spelling mistakes, misused words, and corrects grammar mistakes, based on the context of the full sentence. Even when a word is spelled correctly, Ginger Proofreader checks grammar to see whether it makes sense in the sentence, and offers alternatives to the word.

Ginger Proofreader can also be used seamlessly by users writing documents, presentations, and emails, in MS-Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, IE, Firefox, and Chrome, enabling them to correct words in the sentence with a single click.


Ginger Proofreader is integrated with MS Office ® and with all major browsers

Contextual grammar and spell checking

Ginger Proofreader identifies and marks both spelling and grammar mistakes while considering their context

Corrects as you type or scans entire documents


FontViewOK – The problem is well known: Only the written form is remembered, but the name is forgotten. Here FontViewOK can help. It creates a quick visual overview of all installed fonts. The deployment is so simple, a help file is not required.


Quick overview of all fonts.

Printing with print preview function

Changeable font size, style and color


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Targets the Privacy-Conscious for Surveillance – Jake Appelbaum et. al, are reporting on XKEYSCORE selection rules that target users — and people who just visit the websites of — Tor, Tails, and other sites. This isn’t just metadata; this is “full take” content that’s stored forever.

This code demonstrates the ease with which an XKeyscore rule can analyze the full content of intercepted connections. The fingerprint first checks every message using the “email_address” function to see if the message is to or from “”. Next, if the address matched, it uses the “email_body” function to search the full content of the email for a particular piece of text – in this case, “”. If the “email_body” function finds what it is looking for, it passes the full email text to a C++ program which extracts the bridge addresses and stores them in a database.

It is interesting to note that this rule specifically avoids fingerprinting users believed to be located in Five Eyes countries, while other rules make no such distinction. For instance, the following fingerprint targets users visiting the Tails and Linux Journal websites, or performing certain web searches related to Tails, and makes no distinction about the country of the user.

There are also rules that target users of numerous other privacy-focused internet services, including HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian,, MegaProxy, and an anonymous email service called MixMinion as well as its predecessor MixMaster. The appid rule for MixMinion is extremely broad as it matches all traffic to or from the IP address, a server located on the MIT campus.

It’s hard to tell how extensive this is. It’s possible that anyone who clicked on this link — with the embedded URL above — is currently being monitored by the NSA. It’s possible that this only will happen to people who receive the link in e-mail, which will mean every Crypto-Gram subscriber in a couple of weeks. And I don’t know what else the NSA harvests about people who it selects in this manner.

Whatever the case, this is very disturbing.

The NSA thinks Linux Journal is an “extremist forum”? – The National Security Agency’s attempts to keep track of people outside the US who use encryption and anonymization software from the Tor Project also apparently captured the traffic of anyone reading a wide range of articles on Linux Journal, according to documents published by the German public television broadcaster ARD and provided by security researchers (and Tor contributors) Jacob Appelbaum, Aaron Gibsom, and Leif Ryge. The documents—which include what appears to be search rules for the NSA’s XKeyscore Internet surveillance system, indicate that the NSA also gathered up data on visitors to articles on the Linux Journal website.

In the Das Erste article, Appelbaum et al wrote that the rule “records details about visits to a popular Internet journal for Linux operating system users called ‘The Linux Journal—the Original Magazine of the Linux Community’” and called it an “extremist forum.”


The structure of a three-hop Tor circuit.

EU court orders more transparency over US-EU terrorist finance tracking program – The European Union’s top court has ordered EU institutions to lift the veil on negotiations over sending EU citizens’ banking data to U.S. authorities in an effort to identify and combat terrorism.

The U.S. set up the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and began ordering Belgian company SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to hand over information about transactions sent through its U.S. operating center.

Following media reports in 2006 about the data handover, EU and US officials sought to bring the program within the EU-US Safe Harbor agreement on data protection, to ensure that citizens’ data was not misused.

Those efforts resulted in an agreement between the EU and the U.S. Treasury Department that became effective on Aug. 1, 2010—but the negotiations leading to it were shrouded in secrecy.

In July 2009, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Sophie in ‘t Veld, requested access to a legal opinion on the deal prepared for one of the EU’s decision-making bodies, the Council of the EU, where ministers from each member state meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.

The document contained the opinion of the Council’s legal service on a recommendation by the European Commission that the EU open negotiations with the U.S. on the exchange of data.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 4, 2014

  1. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    This is cool. Not sure how long that will be available… Get The All-New Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules Now, For Free!