Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 16, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation: 7 Things You Should Know About Tor;  Google “Project Zero” hopes to find zero-day vulnerabilities before the NSA;  21 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher;  How to create an anonymous email account;  10 Free Android Apps Everyone Should Download;  How to use public PCs safely with Linux;  Bring back the classic Gmail experience with Old Compose;  UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian;  7 essential apps for international road warriors;  How to get started with OneNote for Windows;  Want to avoid America’s scariest state? Don’t live here;  The state of electric cars: 10 things you should know;  8 of the Weirdest Ways People Are Using Drones.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: 7 Things You Should Know About Tor – We posted last week about the Tor Challenge and why everyone should use Tor. Since we started our Tor Challenge two weeks ago we have signed up over 1000 new Tor relays. But it appears that there are still some popular misconceptions about Tor. We would like to take this opportunity to dispel some of these common myths and misconceptions.

21 Apps for the Tech-Savvy Teacher – Of course there are many obvious apps and services that teachers can and should embrace: Google Drive for document collaboration, Keynote or similar apps for creating presentations, and especially Evernote for storing absolutely everything your students submit in its searchable online database. And using a service like IFTTT means finding new ways to combine all those tools for an even better classroom experience. But this collection includes mobile apps that specifically target teachers and school leaders, from grading and taking attendance to simplifying presentations or perfecting their use of the whiteboard.

How to create an anonymous email account – It’s not just dissidents looking for anonymous email, but everyday people who’d rather not reveal their true identity. This tutorial is not meant for someone in an oppressive country looking to hide themselves from government interlopers. This is aimed at people who want anonymity, but the stakes if they’re found out aren’t at risk of death or imprisonment. Also keep in mind that no system is foolproof. But for most people, the instructions below should be good enough.

10 Free Android Apps Everyone Should Download – Every time I get a new Android smartphone or tablet, I install certain apps right away, before I even really start to play with the device — apps I use every week, if not every day, on the Android gadgets I test as well as the ones I own. For your benefit, I’ve narrowed down the list to 10 free Android apps I can’t live without.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

7 essential apps for international road warriors – Grab your passport and take to the skies! These handy apps will make sure you can stay organized and get your work done from anywhere, even without a network connection.

How to use public PCs safely with Linux – Summary: Public PCs aren’t safe, so what’s a PC user to do? Carry a Linux distribution on a USB stick in their backpocket of course!

How to get started with OneNote for Windows – Microsoft’s OneNote has its fans, but when it comes to note managers, Evernote tends to get all the love. That may start to change now that OneNote has arrived for Mac and is now free for both Mac and Windows, at least in its basic form. At the very least, it may encourage folks to try the product. If you’re new to OneNote and not sure where to start, start here.

Bring back the classic Gmail experience with Old Compose – This superb extension ditches the contentious floating windows of today’s Gmail and brings back the Gmail experience you’ve used for years.

oldcompose gmail

2014’s top Linux desktops – After years of talk about the Linux desktop becoming important, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it’s not the Linux desktop we expected.

The first app every Android Wear owner needs – Most Wear apps provide additional watch-specific functions — anything from fitness tracking to smart home control — but one program actually fills a big gap in the operating system itself. It’s called Wear Mini Launcher, and if you have or are thinking about getting a Wear device, you’ll definitely want to take note of it.

Google Offers A Free Crash Course In Android Development – Google has teamed up with Udacity to make available a free course in Android development available to all – complete with videos, quizzes, course materials and forums. The course is called “Developing Android Apps: Android Fundamentals,” and it provides everything you need to learn how to make an Android app step-by-step; provided, that is, you already have a basic understanding of programming in general.

Intel to ship Galileo Gen2 open-source computer in August for $60 – Intel’s answer to the popular $25 Raspberry Pi credit-card sized PC, the Galileo Gen2, is set to be available in August for around $60. Like the Pi, the Galileo Gen2 computer is an uncased board with all the components necessary to build a PC. Only external peripherals need to be attached. Galileo is targeted at the community of do-it-yourselfers and enthusiasts who make robots, small electronics, wearable devices and even PCs.


Senators Push For Broadband Reclassification That Would Protect Net Neutrality – Thirteen senators called on Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers in order to protect net neutrality. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., submitted a letter directing the FCC to classify the providers under Title II of the Communications Act, the same law used to regulate telecommunications services.

Six tips to building a huge social network – Here are six ways to help you stand out in the increasingly busy social media crowd and build a massive following for yourself by leveraging the latest apps, best practices, and Intel-powered mobile devices.

3 Years Later, Google+ Drops Its Dumb Real Name Rule And Apologizes – Since Google+ launched, many have complained about the service’s requirement that users use their real names. Complaints grew ever louder once Google started pushing users to use Google+ for YouTube comments. 3 years later, Google is giving up on this battle. You can now use just about any name you please.

The state of electric cars: 10 things you should know – Electric vehicles are quickly gaining ground, but where does the industry stand, and what’s the infrastructure surrounding the industry like? Here are 10 things to know.


Google “Project Zero” hopes to find zero-day vulnerabilities before the NSA – “You should be able to use the Web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets, or monitor your communications,” writes Google security researcher Chris Evans. To help make that a reality, Google has put together a new team of researchers whose sole purpose is to find security flaws in software—any software—that’s used on the Internet.

How to burn a password into your brain – It turns out that it can actually be surprisingly easy to train people to memorize a 56-bit password or passphrase, two Microsoft researchers found.

CNET user database stolen by Russian hacking group, auctioned for $600 – CNET has said that a database from its website, which included the usernames, emails, and encrypted passwords of over 1 million users, has been stolen by a Russian hacker group known as ‘w0rm’.

Arrests made after keyloggers found on public PCs at US hotels – Proof of the lack of hygiene in publicly accessible PCs came up yet again when the US Secret Service last week warned that cybercrooks are installing keyloggers on the PCs in hotel business centers to steal personal and business information from travelers.

Company News:

Report: Microsoft to undergo biggest layoff round in company’s history – According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft is preparing to undergo a significant staff reduction, potentially shedding as much as five percent of its employees around the world. Citing “people with knowledge of the company’s plans,” Bloomberg elaborates that the cuts—which could exceed 5,800 people—will be made public potentially some time this week and will focus on areas of the company that were acquired from Nokia, as well as some marketing and engineering groups. The report specifically notes that some of the cuts “will be in marketing departments for businesses such as the global Xbox team.”

Google, Novartis Team for Smart Contact Lenses – If you thought Google Glass was crazy, this might just blow your mind. How about a wearable device that actually goes in your eye? The lenses, developed by the semi-secret Google X team, contain a “tiny wireless chip” and sensors that measure the glucose level in tears to calculate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Under the agreement, Google and Novartis’s eye-care division Alcon will collaborate to create smart lenses for those with diabetes and the eye condition presbyopia.


Intel Rises 4% After Reporting Q2 Results, Including Better-Than-Expected Revenue Of $13.8B – Intel’s second quarter results came in above expectations, with the chip company reporting revenue of $13.8 billion, and earnings per share of $0.55. The street had expected Intel to earn $.52 on revenue of $13.69 billion. Intel had previously raised its revenue expectations to $13.7 billion, with a margin of error of up to $300 million. It met that mark.

Microsoft plans price war to stymie Chromebook growth – Microsoft’s COO yesterday promised that his company and its army of OEMs would compete on price with Google’s Chromebooks, a milestone in Microsoft’s battle against the small but encroaching enemy. At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Monday, Chief Operations Officer Kevin Turner, the executive who drives sales, both internally and through the firm’s vast partner network, pledged that Microsoft would “redefine the value category” with notebooks as inexpensive as $199.

Apple, IBM Partner to Boost Business Adoption of iOS – Apple has teamed up with IBM to bring IBM’s enterprise software to Apple’s lineup of iOS devices. As part of the exclusive IBM MobileFirst for iOS deal, IBM will sell iPhones and iPads loaded with software for its business clients.

Bank of America illegally copied $300M in software, alleges Tibco lawsuit – Bank of America illegally copied $300 million worth of Tibco’s enterprise software for use in a massive IT project at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary, Tibco alleges in a lawsuit. The bank stockpiled large quantities of Tibco software while it was still within the terms of a license agreement that expired in February 2013, then used the software for the project when it was out of license, according to the suit. (Imagine that – a bank twisting and bending rules, regulations, and contract agreements, in order to enhance unconscionable profits at the expense of others. Tell me it ain’t so.)

Games and Entertainment:

EA Sports reveals Lionel Messi for ‘FIFA 15’ cover – Lionel Messi has been announced for the cover of EA Sports’ upcoming title FIFA 15. This will make Messi’s fourth appearance for the franchise, that will see a release towards the end of September.


Hands On: LeapFrog Launches LeapTV Gaming Console – There’s a new gaming console in town, and it’s coming from a surprising source. Educational toy manufacturer LeapFrog today unveiled the newest addition to its lineup, the LeapTV active gaming system. Much like the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One, the LeapTV is a gaming console system meant to be used with your TV, but it’s aimed specifically for children ages 3 to 8 years old and puts an emphasis on education gaming.


How the makers of Second Life are using VR to build the next generation of virtual worlds – We’re not really here to talk about the future too much, but I’m going to tell you that our biggest investment by far will be a next-generation virtual world. Something in the spirit of Second Life.” I’m sitting at Linden Lab ready to see Second Life running on an Oculus Rift and suddenly I’m being thrown into something totally different by company CEO Ebbe Altberg—something far crazier.


Restoration is mind-bending Aussie sci-fi from the creator of Payload – In recent years, there has been a handful of Australian sci-fi projects that have really caught our attention; not the least of which is Payload by Melbourne-based Stu Willis, a desperate tale of survival in a hostile dystopian future, and the longing to escape to something better. Nearly two years on, Willis has announced his next foray into the realm of science fiction: a three-part online series called Restoration, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.


Watch Sony’s ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Destiny Beta’ Video – Make that less than two days, technically speaking: The beta unlocks at 10:00 a.m. PT this Thursday, July 17. The codes to download the beta for the timed-exclusive PlayStation version — both PS4 and PS3 — are due at some point earlier on Thursday as well.


Off Topic (Sort of):

NSA recruits college students for cyber-operations program – The National Security Agency is looking to grow its ranks with highly-trained college students. The government agency announced Tuesday that it has chosen five new schools to host its specialized Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program. Those handpicked schools include New York University, Towson University, United States Military Academy, University of Cincinnati, and University of New Orleans. In all, the NSA cyber-operations program has a total of 13 schools.

Fed chief Yellen warns social-media stock prices are too high – In a report to Congress, the Federal Reserve Board chairwoman cautions that equity valuations for companies like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are “substantially stretched.”

What’s behind your blood type? – When my parents informed me that my blood type was A+, I felt a strange sense of pride. If A+ was a top grade in school, then surely A+ must also be the most excellent of blood types—a biological mark of distinction. It didn’t take long for me recognize just how silly that feeling was, but I didn’t learn much more about what it really meant to have A+. And yet there remained some nagging questions. Why do 40 percent of Caucasians have Type A, while only 27 percent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do?

American Bar Association urges against file sharing lawsuits – The American Bar Association is urging its 400,000-lawyer membership to show some restraint when it comes to lodging online file sharing lawsuits. “Finally, while it is technically possible for trademark and copyright owners to proceed with civil litigation against the consuming public who affirmatively seek out counterfeited products or pirated content or engage in illegal file sharing, campaigns like this have been expensive, do not yield significant financial returns, and can cause a public relations problem for the plaintiff in addressing its consuming public,” the association recommended.

‘Overwhelmed’ FCC extends Net neutrality comment period – A surge of traffic is crashing the agency’s electronic filing system, so it’s bumping the feedback deadline on the controversial proposal from Tuesday to Friday.

Want to avoid America’s scariest state? Don’t live here – Real estate search site has arranged our great states from most to least scary based on things like bears, dentists, and yes, clowns.


8 of the Weirdest Ways People Are Using Drones – A New York private eye told the New York Post that drones are essentially being used in the one way everyone thought they would: to spy on people. While this use of the unmanned aircraft sounds… just about right… there are many surprising ways that drones have become incorporated into everyday life. Here are some of our favorites.

Something to think about:

“Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to form of mental agoraphobia and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters, they are often more afraid. What is more, those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude through our own apathy.”

–     J. K. Rowling

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView:

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder: Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache: Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page. VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.

wps_clip_image-16732 – Windows Repair – – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions. Portable version also available.

Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state.

Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs. – Windows Repair can do the following:

Reset Registry Permissions

Reset File Permissions

Register System Files

Repair WMI

Repair Windows Firewall

Repair Internet Explorer

Repair MDAC & MS Jet

Repair Hosts File

Remove Policies Set By Infections

Repair Icons

Repair Winsock & DNS Cache

Remove Temp Files

Repair Proxy Settings

Unhide Non System Files

Repair Windows Updates

and more…


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Emergency Surveillance Law Criticized For Being Overly Broad, Vague And Draconian – Late last week it emerged that the UK government intended to railroad emergency surveillance legislation through Parliament just before the summer recess — meaning members of parliament would not be able to properly scrutinise the law.

The new Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (aka DRIP) is being ‘debated‘ in the House of Commons today — but a few days’ debate is a far cry from the lengthy scrutiny process usually afforded when the government tries to pass new legislation. Cue cries of ‘surveillance state stitch up’.

The government claims emergency legislation is necessary because a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling struck down European data retention powers back in April.

But that claim looks tenuous, to say the least, given the ECJ ruling took place three months ago — three months when the government could have been publicly debating what its response should be and drafting and debating new legislation.

Instead it’s done a deal with opposition MPs behind closed doors so that an ‘emergency’ bill will be passed without serious opposition — and without proper scrutiny. Bottom line: this is democracy at its most undemocratic.

Reddit, Privacy Groups Call On Obama To Reject Cybersecurity Bill – A coalition of 30 companies and privacy groups, including Reddit and search engine DuckDuckGo, on Tuesday demanded that President Barack Obama promise to reject a controversial cybersecurity bill. The bill has come under fire for its loose limits on sharing information about cyber threats without properly filtering personal information from it among government agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA).

The controversial bill, the Cybersecurity Information Act (CISA), was marked up and passed in a closed Senate Intelligence Committee session on July 8, and it is expected to see a full Senate vote some time this year. The bill would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and with the federal government, but the letter from the coalition to the president said the bill failed to “provide a comprehensive solution” to cyber threats because it, among other complaints, only addresses information sharing.

The bill sets few limits on how the government implements and shares the data once it receives it. If CISA becomes law, the data could be used for prosecution of a wide range of crimes not directly related to cybersecurity, including violations of the Espionage Act. In the letter, the privacy groups and tech companies stressed that the government could abuse this information to go after whistleblowers and journalists.

The letters lays out a detailed list of reforms that a more “comprehensive” bill would include, such as an incentive process to encourage companies to remove vulnerabilities more quickly. The coalition raises questions about the current transparency requirements for the government, calling the exemption the bill gives for information from Freedom of Information Act requests too broad. The letter also says the NSA or any military agency should not be allowed to have a central role in civilian cybersecurity practices.

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet – The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.

The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

But as the U.K. Parliament today debates a fast-tracked bill to provide the government with greater surveillance powers, one which Prime Minister David Cameron has justified as an “emergency” to “help keep us safe,” a newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.



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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 16, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    How to create an anonymous email account
    “One thing you don’t want to do is choose a mainstream service like Gmail,, or Yahoo. These services require a mobile phone number and other identifying information at sign-up, which defeats the entire purpose of an anonymous email account.”

    Just yesterday I tried to open a Gmail account. I went through the whole process including giving my present email account which I did not like doing but then another page opened “Almost done, just put in your mobile phone ;number so we can verify”
    First off if I had a mobile phone I would NOT give it to them, secondly I do NOT have a mobile phone.
    I understand that in the past none of these services required mobile phone numbers or even email addresses.
    Just seems to me to be more Big Brother, more invasion of privacy, If you CHOOSE to give that to them that is another story.

    • Hi Fred,

      There’s a bit of a misunderstanding here, I think. First, the statement – “These services require a mobile phone number and other identifying information at sign-up, which defeats the entire purpose of an anonymous email account” – taken in a broad sense, is factually incorrect. There may well be email services that insist on a phone number – but, I’m not aware of one. Certainly, Gmail is not one of those.

      The standard process is; you must provide a current email address (some refer to it as an “alternative”) – OR, a phone number. The recommended course of action is to provide both. If an email account gets hacked, it’s relatively simple to recover control if the supplied alternative email address and/or phone number are current. Should that not be the case – the now “previous” owner is in for a world of hurt. Google – “hacked email account” or something similar – you’ll see what I mean.

      Personally, I’ve recovered a hacked Gmail account, based on the supplied alternative email address process, in 10 minutes. 10 sweaty, anxious minutes mind you. 🙂

      Coincidentally, just yesterday, I opened a new email account at and the process was just as described. As well, I just now opened a new Gmail account and again, the process was just as described.

      Hope that helps.



      • Fred

        Hi Bill,
        “As well, I just now opened a new Gmail account and again, the process was just as described.”

        Well in my case for the 4th time today I tried to open a gmail account and this is what happened every single time:
        Verify your account
        You’re almost done! We just need to verify your account before you can start using it.
        ex: (201) 555-5555 Phone number
        Verify your account via SMS or Voice Call
        Bill, maybe they treat Canadians with more respect than US guys. Could be. Just darn frustrating is all I can say,
        Well there may be an explanation but I doubt you nor I can figure out what it is. As always, Bill, I do sincerely thank you for the time and trouble you take in answering my queries. You are a good man,

        • Hi Fred,

          Oh, I doubt that we get a break from Google on the courtesy side, up here. Google plays the customer service/relationship/respect game, very well – but in reality, they disrespect users worldwide continuously. It seems that every day, Google is facing a new law suit. But, on to the matter at hand.

          I just finished an attempt setting up a new Gmail account using a U.S based address (San Diego) – courtesy of the free VPN Hotspot Shield – and, crossed over into the land of lunacy. Google, needing to confirm an email account by telephone, ostensibly in an attempt to control spammers, is outrageous bullshit and a gross invasion of privacy. They get away with this in the U.S., it appears to me, due to intolerably lax privacy laws.

          Small consolation to you, I’m sure, but up here – Google, Facebook, and others, are continuously vetted by Provincial privacy commissioners particularly (and to a lesser extent by the Federal government – fascist bastards that they are), to ensure adherence to Canadian privacy rules. Which are, by and large, better than most. Still, a long bloody way from acceptable, mind you.

          Have a good weekend, my friend.