Take control of your smartphone; Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours; 17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat; MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot; Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM; Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android; A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part 2; Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy; How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service; How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips; Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails; World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter; Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget; ‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks; Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords.
Snowden emails withheld due to US govt concerns about ‘invasion of personal privacy’ – The public disclosure of emails by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, could be an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”, according to a letter from the US Department of State responding to a FOIA request by online publication, The Desk.
(More than a few elected representatives of the U.S. government have publically called for Snowden’s assassination (murder, by any other name) – and yet, the US Department of State is worried about his privacy? The U.S. Government slips a little further into the rabbit hole.)
Take control of your smartphone – There are certain limitations of your smartphone that most of use accept. But what if I told you you didn’t necessarily have to accept your smartphone as it is? And with a few simple tips and tricks, your phone could break free of its artificial constraints.
Commandr Can Add New Voice Commands to Google Now for Android – Google has reworked its Android voice controls dramatically in the last few years, but there are still a number of useful commands missing. There are ways to hack those commands in, but none of them are particularly clean or convenient to use. Commandr changes that–it intercepts voice commands and implements the extra ones without getting in the way too much.
17 Skype Tips to Help You Master Web Calling, Video Chat – Making a call can be as easy as a double-click on a name in your contacts list, but Skype can do much, much more than that. And that’s where these tips can help. Whether you’re talking Skype-to-phone, video chatting, texting, looking for Wi-Fi, having meetings, or need a record of all your calls, Skype can handle it. But you may need some help, and these tips will guide you through.
‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks – The “Yo” app was developed as a joke. Download the app, tap on a friend’s name, and they’d get a message from you saying “Yo.” It’s that simple. In fact, the app was created in eight hours and released on April Fools’ day just so people would know it was a gag. But Yo has a new application that’s no laughing matter. Developers in the Middle East are using the app to warn Israelis of possible attacks from rocket fire; users following the handle “RedAlertIsrael” will get a “Yo” at the same time the country’s sirens go off.
Seven hiking apps for hitting the trails – It’s official: Summer has arrived, and with it, longer days with warmer weather. It’s the perfect time to strap on some supportive sneakers and hit the trails. Whether your idea of a great hike is a ten-mile trek through the wilderness, a leisurely stroll through the woods, or a power walk in the urban jungle, apps abound to help you make the most out of the experience. Here are seven that will help you with everything from planning your adventure to logging your journey.
How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips – So what are you supposed to do when it comes time to find one of your notes? Manually browsing through them is akin to rifling through a file drawer. Instead, hone in on what you’re looking for using Evernote’s advanced search operators. These modifiers let you find notes based on where or when they were created, which notebook they’re filed in, or even what type of media they contain. Here are the most useful operators for narrowing your searches.
Internet giants press for net neutrality in FCC filing – An association of more than two dozen technology companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Netflix urged the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules for wired and mobile networks. The companies want to secure an open Internet for the future, they said in a comment filed by The Internet Association with the FCC. They want to prevent the segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes as that will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users, they said.
World Cup final sets records on Facebook, Twitter – Germany vs. Argentina proves to be the biggest sporting event in Facebook’s history, while Twitter says the game generated the most tweets per minute.
MakerBot 3D printers coming to Home Depot – MakerBot and Home Depot are partnering to introduce 3D printing to the masses. The MakerBot will initially see its way into 12 stores located in California, Illinois, and New York.
A Beginner’s Guide to the Linux Command Line, Part II – In this follow up article to our basic Linux command line series we go a bit deeper to discuss file metadata, permissions, timestamps, some new tools like tee, Vim, and more.
These two cases make your iPhone the ultimate toolbox – Your iPhone can do a lot, but it has limitations. What if it could be a phone and a leatherman tool, though? Tasklab has made that possible, bringing a bevy of tools to your favorite device.
Dell’s Chromebook is so popular, it stopped selling them – Chromebooks are popular — and if you doubt that, just ask Dell. The computer manufacturer has halted sales of their 11-inch Chromebook, all because demand was too high. Still available for educational purposes, the average consumer is out of luck for a while.
Windows is rising to the Chromebook price war – HP is readying a $199 Windows notebook for the holidays, as Microsoft pushes Windows 8.1 against Google Chromebooks, one of a number of more affordable PC options. The HP Stream laptop, confirmed during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, will be one of at least three models, though versions from Acer and Toshiba will be slightly more expensive, at $249 apiece.
Wiper Launches Its Secure Messaging App With $2.5 Million In Seed Funding – Today’s paranoid novelists (and the web surfing public) have to keep up with real-life concerns over the National Security Agency, Google’s panopticon, Facebook’s social experimentation, and everything that every telecom provider knows and wants to know about you. Enter anonymous messaging and social networks that don’t collect information about you, or even store any of the things you send through their services.
Raspberry Pi Microcomputer Gets Beefed Up — Still Only Costs $35 – Specifically the new Pi has more USB ports (four instead of two), which also have improved hotplug and overcurrent performance; more GPIO (general purpose input/output pins) — 40 pins up from 26, but keeping the same pinout for the first 26 pins so existing projects will still work — to accommodate more peripheral components (such as LEDs); a Micro SD card slot replacing the prior SD card socket and taking up less space on the board; lower power consumption; improved audio performance; and a neater form factor with USB ports aligned at the edge of the board, composite video moved onto the 3.5mm jack, and four mounting holes positioned to make it easier to fix the Pi in place.
No Raspberry Pi 2 until 2017, software is the focus for now – The Model B+ is a great upgrade because it adds more USB ports, a larger GPIO, replaces the SD card with Micro SD, and has much better mounting holes and lower power consumption. But the processor and RAM haven’t changed. It’s the same tiny PC tweaked into its final form. So when are we going to see a Raspberry Pi version two? According to Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton, we’ll be waiting until 2017 for that to happen.
Over 12 million Nokia Lumia 520s have been sold so far – Microsoft announced today that the Nokia Lumia 520 – which has been sold for as little as $39.99 – is the best-selling handset in its price range, with sales of over 12 million units worldwide so far.
High-Tech Cooler Tops $4M on Kickstarter – So what makes it the coolest cooler around? It features a built-in blender, removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, and USB charger so you’re all hooked up at your next tailgate, backyard barbeque, or camping adventure. Want some piña coladas? No problem. Need to charge your phone? Plug it right in. Coolest Cooler USBLaunched on Kickstarter last week, the Coolest Cooler has already raked in more than $4.1 million from 21,000 backers – well over the original $50,000 goal. And the fundraising campaign still has 46 days to go.
Speed up or slow down your slideshows – Showing photos to friends? If the pictures move too slowly, you bore your audience. If they move to fast, you annoy them. Here’s how to set the speed in several common programs.
Five DIY mobile app platforms for developers on a tight budget – These do-it-yourself platforms allow developers or designers to create mobile apps at a fraction of the cost a third-party would charge. See which one is right for your shop.
“Severe” password manager attacks steal digital keys and data en masse – A research paper scheduled to be presented at a security conference next month underscores the hidden dangers of selecting the wrong products. The researchers examined LastPass and four other Web-based managers and found critical defects in all of them. The worst of the bugs allowed an attacker to remotely siphon plaintext passcodes out of users’ wallets with no outward sign that anything was amiss. LastPass and three of the four other developers have since fixed the flaws, but the findings should serve as a wakeup call. If academic researchers from the University of California at Berkeley can devise these sorts of crippling attacks, so too can crooks who regularly case people’s online bank accounts and other digital assets.
(An “I told you so moment” – regular readers will recall that I have maintained for years that password managers are a fools errand – Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords? – Just one more piece of evidence.)
Flaw in Google’s Dropcam sees it turned into SPYCAM – Hackers could inject fake video into popular home surveillance kit Dropcam and use the system to attack networks, researchers Patrick Wardle and Colby Moore say. The wide-ranging attacks were tempered by the need for attackers to have physical access to the devices but the exploits offer the chance to inject video frames into cameras – handy for home robberies – intercept video, and exploit the Heartbleed vulnerability to pull passwords and SSL server’s private key. Wardle said the cameras should be subject to the same security checks as regular computers given their capabilities and vulnerabilities. Dropcam was found to be running Heartbleed-vulnerable versions of OpenSSL and the Unix utility suite BusyBox.
How to sign up for Microsoft’s restored security alert email service – Security professionals, IT administrators and other interested customers can sign up for the mailing list from this page. All that’s needed is a Microsoft account, the username and password combination associated with the company’s services, such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Office 365.
Beware of infected hotel PCs stealing guests’ passwords, feds warn – The US Secret Service is warning hotel operators to be on the lookout for malware that steals passwords and other sensitive data from guests using PCs in business centers, according to a published report.
Here’s the only safe way to use public PCs – Business center PCs can be dangerous. The only safe way to use such devices is not to use the installed OS.
Fake Google Messenger Reads Your Texts, Records Your Calls – Malwarebytes says that this malicious app is called “Google Korean IM.” During installation, it requests Device Administrator access. Some Android users might not recognize this as problematic, but granting that level of access gives the app far-ranging powers over your phone. Device Admin apps can, for example, lock your phone or completely wipe it. Usually, we only see security apps or certain Google apps requesting this level of access. But because this malware is after information, it uses its Device Admin powers to watch and listen. According to Malwarebytes, the app monitors incoming calls and can even record those phone calls, presumably sending the recordings off to a server somewhere. The app also pays special attention to SMS messages, which the malware sends to a remote server. It can even capture victims’ contact lists.
The game isn’t over yet for Gameover malware – Researchers at Sophos have discovered new variants of Gameover malware—a botnet operation that was shut down by law enforcement just over a month ago.
OAIC finds a garden shed is not a secure place for medical records – The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has ruled that storing medical records in a garden shed is a failure to secure sensitive records.
Advanced Evasion Techniques wreaking havoc on network security – In the never-ending war against security breaches, attackers gaining the upper hand by unleashing zero day attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other rapidly evolving threats.
Microsoft: 785 organizations have come back after trying out Google – Microsoft loves to tout its success, and at WPC, the company mentioned a particularly big win by highlighting 785 corporate customers who had enough of Google and came back to Windows.
LinkedIn buys Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life – LinkedIn wants to be more than just a professional networking site you only check when you need to update your job title or confirm a request to connect. That’s why the company keeps adding new features, like integrating Pulse’s newsreader last year and launching its Influencer blog series. On Monday, LinkedIn bought Newsle to become the Google Alert for your professional life.
Yahoo’s Mayer not ready to scoop up AOL, says report – Matchmakers have speculated about the possibility of a merger between Yahoo and AOL for the last couple of years. The rumor mill recycled the story recently after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong — both former Google executives — were spotted having late-night drinks at a media and technology conference last week. But such a tie-up is complicated. While both companies see potential benefits, Mayer has her doubts, according to a report published Monday by Recode.
Apple brings trade-in program to Australia – Australian customers of Apple are now able to trade-in their old devices for in-store credit.
Games and Entertainment:
Take dragons on your next road trip with Microsoft’s new Dragons Adventure game – Based on DreamWorks’s How to Train Your Dragon movies, the game also incorporates real-world data like weather and points of interest to create adventures that last exactly as long as your kids are in the car.
Those buildings and roads your dragon flies over are based on real maps and points of interest pulled in by the game.
GTA V PC release date listed as November 14 – E-tailer Coolshop has listed GTA V on PC with an expected release date of November 14 along with the option to pre-purchase the game. That date fits within the Fall release window and is 6 weeks before Christmas, giving it plenty of time to sell in the most important sales period of the year for video games.
Timberman Is The New Flappy Bird – Gamers looking for a new way to spend time waiting in line or on a commute should go check out Timberman, the latest indie game to take the App Store by storm. According to App Annie data, the game has made its way to the top five apps overall in more than 20 countries and is the most-downloaded game in eight countries as of yesterday. Timberman’s gameplay nails the recipe for addictiveness in a smartphone game. It’s easy to get into — all you’re doing is cutting down a tree by tapping on one side or the other, trying to avoid the descending branches as you progress.
The coolest comic you’ve seen yet is currently on Kickstarter – Modern Polaxis is a comic book and an app. We know, a touch confusing, but the balance imagined with the project is brilliant. A drawn comic gives a foundation for the app, which comic book fans can use to scroll over the page using the camera, finding new detail and animation. Rather than mull around in your own mind what the author was getting at with an illustration, you might end up getting a richer experience.
Answered: 10 Questions About the First Destiny Beta – Bungie’s preliminary Destiny beta soirée kicks off this Thursday, transforming the end of July into more than just a showcase for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us PlayStation 4 remaster. To help everyone get ready, especially if you’re just tuning in, I’ve cobbled together the essentials from various Bungie news posts, FAQs and press releases, including a late-breaking (though unverified) tidbit that outlines what might be in the beta, content-wise.
Off Topic (Sort of):
The future of computing is a battle for your personal information – The organisations that are looking to invent, and dominate the next era of computing are, at their heart, based on advertising revenue, and in the process of owning the future, these companies and their device-based competitors will treat the personal information of consumers as a prized commodity.
Nickel and gadgets: A rash connection? – Allergic reactions to nickel in some gadgets have been noticed for a while. Now, a medical journal report suggests a possible link between rashes and exposure to nickel in Apple’s iPads.
Tech Blogger Tries To Cancel Comcast Service, Hilarity Ensues – If there’s one guy in the world who knows whether or not he wants to cancel his Comcast service, it’s Ryan Block. The former head of Engadget, founder of GDGT, and now product dude at AOL, Block probably knows exactly why he wants to cancel his Comcast service and, presumably, he’s not going to tell you or a Comcast service rep who refuses to take “No” for an answer. The call, which already went on for ten minutes by the time Block decided to record it, is an example of a rep sticking to his script and a customer with the patience of Job (and an understanding of Internet virality) putting up with aural torture in order to show the world how crazy Comcast is.
Unofficial hidden surveillance cam catches cop fighting cop – Miami police are probing footage of a fracas between two officers that was captured on a GoPro and eventually made public on YouTube. The recording is among the latest videos to surface involving police shenanigans, and it underscores that it’s not just the populace under today’s surveillance microscope. Local media describe the video as officer Marcel Jackson stopping a Chevrolet for allegedly unsafe driving. The driver turns out to be Lt. David Ramras, an internal affairs veteran. The video shows the internal affairs officer get out of the car before a tussle eventually ensues. Jackson throws Ramras to the ground and backup officers hit the scene. An online message board used by cops claims Jackson has been relieved of his duties. Miami authorities declined immediate comment.
Rocket scientist adds fins to pans, nearly doubles efficiency – One rocket scientist has turned his attention to cookware, designing a new set of pots and pans that are touted as nearly double the energy efficiency of your ordinary round cookware. What’s different? The addition of fins.
Oracle sexual harassment victim wins $130k on appeal – The Federal Court of Australia has decided to set aside the AU$18,000 amount it originally ordered technology giant, Oracle, to pay to sexually harassed victim and former employee, Rebecca Richardson. Instead, Judge Kenny today bumped up the damages for Oracle to pay Richardson to AU$130,000.
Something to think about:
“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”
– Edward Snowden
Today’s Free Downloads:
Dexpot – Dexpot turns your monitor into 20 different virtual desktops. Dexpot creates additional workspaces you can quickly switch between them. Take, for example, Desktop 1 to listen to your favourite music, surf the web on Desktop 2, use Desktop 3 to handle your daily word processing or switch to Desktop 4 for a game of Solitaire.
Different icons, wallpapers, start-ups, and much more can be configured for each desktop.
Has all the features you’d expect from a virtual desktop manager. Looks up to date, tidy and has a lovely design.
Fast set-up. Easy to use.
Can be expanded with plugins. Results in small memory footprint.
Stunning 3D transition effects. Only if you like them. Supports stylish wallpaper clocks (*.wcz).
Soluto – Frustrated by your sluggish and unresponsive PC? Soluto is bringing an end to PC user frustration with transparency, killer technology, and your help.
Soluto allows you to understand your boot, discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to significantly improve it. While Soluto focuses on the boot, it already researches for frustrations and helps map the PC Genome, allowing you to share your wisdom with others.
Checkout my older review of Saluto – Soluto Latest Release – Fixes Crashes And Speeds Up Your Boot Time.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours – Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland.
In essence, President Barack Obama’s administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It’s a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border.
A magistrate judge has already sided with the government’s position, ruling in April that “the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information.” Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31.
In its briefs filed last week, the US government said that content stored online doesn’t enjoy the same type of Fourth Amendment protections as data stored in the physical world. The government cited (PDF) the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a President Ronald Reagan-era regulation:
Overseas records must be disclosed domestically when a valid subpoena, order, or warrant compels their production. The disclosure of records under such circumstances has never been considered tantamount to a physical search under Fourth Amendment principles, and Microsoft is mistaken to argue that the SCA provides for an overseas search here. As there is no overseas search or seizure, Microsoft’s reliance on principles of extra-territoriality and comity falls wide of the mark.
Microsoft said the decision has wide-ranging, global implications. “Congress has not authorized the issuance of warrants that reach outside US territory,” Microsoft’s attorneys wrote. “The government cannot seek and a court cannot issue a warrant allowing federal agents to break down the doors of Microsoft’s Dublin facility.”
Microsoft hits back against government surveillance, highlights commitment to privacy – Microsoft has not been shy about combating the accusations made against the company that they are working with government agencies and allowing them to access their data at will. After the Snowden leaks, Microsoft took a hit to its reputation after it was stated that they were helping the NSA crack encryption keys. Microsoft was not alone in being called out by the leaks but for a company building out a billion dollar cloud business, the brand needs to be protected.
In the past, Microsoft has publicly called out the current practices that are used to collect data and they are actively taking a stance to protect client data. This point came up again today as Kevin Turner, near the end of his presentation, hit home the point that Microsoft does not engineer backdoors into its products to allow third parties – including governments and security agencies – to indiscriminately access its users’ data, nor has it ever done so.
Further, he stated that the company has not provided the government encryption keys to its data and that they have never provided business or government data in response to a national security order.
The intentions of these statements were clear at WPC: to reassure its partners that its cloud is secure and no government agency has access to its services. Why is this important? WPC is the company’s largest partner event of the year and Microsoft needs these third parties to keep pushing their services, and by asserting their control over privacy, it alleviates a key concern for these partners.
GCHQ Catalog of Exploit Tools – The latest Snowden story is a catalog of exploit tools from JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), a unit of the British GCHQ, for both surveillance and propaganda. It’s a list of code names and short descriptions, such as these:
GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a targets IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.
MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
MOUTH: Tool for collection for downloading a user’s files from Archive.org.
PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user.
SILVER SPECTOR: Allows batch Nmap scanning over Tor.
SPRING BISHOP: Find private photographs of targets on Facebook.
ANGRY PIRATE: is a tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer.
BUMPERCAR+: is an automated system developed by JTRIG CITD to support JTRIG BUMPERCAR operations. BUMPERCAR operations are used to disrupt and deny Internet-based terror videos or other materials. The techniques employs the services provided by upload providers to report offensive materials.
BOMB BAY: is the capacity to increase website hits/rankings.
BURLESQUE: is the capacity to send spoofed SMS messages.
CLEAN SWEEP: Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.
CONCRETE DONKEY: is the capacity to scatter an audio message to a large number of telephones, or repeatedely bomb a target number with the same message.
GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website.
GESTATOR: amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets.
SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.
SWAMP DONKEY: is a tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).
WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
HAVLOCK: Real-time website cloning techniques allowing on-the-fly alterations.
HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.
There’s lots more. Go read the rest. This is a big deal, as big as the TAO catalog from December.
ISPs ‘blindsided’ by UK.gov’s ’emergency’ data retention and investigation powers law – The Tory-led government’s “emergency” data retention and investigation powers (Drip) bill currently being rushed through Parliament has caught ISPs off guard, it has emerged.
The Register understands that telcos were only gently briefed on the plans ahead of last week’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron. An industry source said ISPs had been “blindsided” by the move, which came days before politicos break for summer recess.
The bill surprised many by quickly securing cross-party support prior to its publication last Thursday. At the same time, Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg – whose Liberal Democrat Party had opposed Home Secretary Theresa May’s lobby for a Communications Data law, colloquially dubbed a “snooper’s charter” – insisted that the legislative push would not extend the UK’s surveillance powers.
Instead, the PM claimed that holes needed to be plugged as a matter of urgency following a European Court of Justice ruling that ripped up the Data Retention Directive in April this year.
In the name of security, German NSA committee may turn to typewriters – Patrick Sensburg, chairman of the German parliament’s National Security Agency investigative committee, now says he’s considering expanding the use of manual typewriters to carry out his group’s work.
In an appearance (German language) Monday morning on German public television, Sensburg said that the committee is taking its operational security very seriously. “In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter,” he said.
If Sensburg’s suggestion takes flight, the country would be taking a page out of the Russian playbook. Last year, the agency in charge of securing communications from the Kremlin announced that it wanted to spend 486,000 rubles (about $14,800) to buy 20 electric typewriters as a way to avoid digital leaks.