Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 17, 2014

Almost a million fake apps are targeting your phone;  10 tools for more productive telecommuting;  Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows;  FBI warns that driverless cars could be weaponized;  ‘Hidden from Google’ tracks sites removed from Internet searches;  What is sapphire glass and why is it in the next iPhone? Road warriors: Reduce travel headaches with these five apps;  How to get 5 TB of OneDrive storage from your Office 365 Home subscription;  How long until we see free Android or Chrome OS tablets?  50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter;  10 Tips to Keep Your Digital Photos Organized;  U.N. Says Governments Are Increasingly Relying On Private Sector For Surveillance;  Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online;  Google Planning A Big Push In India This Fall;  FotoSketcher (free).

The Guardian: The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control – At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US, says whistleblower William Binney – that’s a ‘totalitarian mentality’

FBI warns that driverless cars could be weaponized – What is it about driverless cars that makes the FBI clench its collective teeth? They’ve got two major concerns, according to a report obtained by The Guardian. First, that a driverless car could effectively be turned into a massive remote-controlled bomb. Pack it with ordinance, program the course and press the button, and observe the destruction from a safe distance. Cars area already used as bombs, so it’s not hard to imagine someone considering having one drive itself to the detonation site instead of having a person abandon it. Fewer loose ends, right?

Free antivirus and anti-malware scanners for Windows – No one wants malware on their PCs, so antivirus and antimalware scanners are a must, but a quality scanner need not cost the earth. In fact, there are a number of free solutions out there that will help keep your digital empire safe. Here are six top-quality scanners that will help you clean up systems and keep them safe in the future. There are tools here for systems ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

10 tools for more productive telecommuting – While your employer has probably set you up with a phone and laptop, VPN access, and whatever software you need to actually get your job done, they might not have thought through how exactly you’re supposed to keep in touch with co-workers, collaborate on projects, and steer clear of distractions. Here are 10 apps, programs, and web services that can help to fill in the gaps.

Google Wallet updated with gift card management, free money sending – From sending money without a fee and managing your gift cards, Google Wallet looks like it may be able to take on PayPal after all.

Road warriors: Reduce travel headaches with these five apps – As a certified road warrior, with an average of 200+ days on the road each year, I have found several applications that make travel a little easier. These are a few of my favorites, all of which are available on iOS and Android smartphones, and in many cases, as web services or on other phone and tablet platforms.

Slingbox M1 review: Place-shift TV with minimal hassle – The M1 is Slingbox’s first new offering in nearly two years, and it’s not only the lowest-priced version to date, but also the most capable entry-level model. You can push live TV, DVR recordings, and even on-demand programming to your computer, smartphone, tablet, or compatible set top box—even if you’re far away from home.


Senate passes bill allowing mobile phone owners to unlock devices – The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that would allow mobile phone customers to unlock their devices for the purposes of switching carriers. The Senate, late Tuesday, approved the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act by unanimous consent.

‘Yahoo Ending’ Provides End of (Digital) Life Planning – Yahoo Japan now offers full end-of-life services, from arranging your funeral to deleting your digital remains. Japanese users can sign up for “Yahoo Ending,” which sends out digital farewell messages to loved ones, and scrubs all personal data from the company’s system once Yahoo confirms the user has passed. And, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Yahoo Ending will create a tribute site to launch after the user’s death, where friends and family can leave condolences. The memorial space allows for a bio, photos, videos, messages, and an invitation to the funeral—similar to how people use Facebook pages to remember the deceased.

Launch Window: Upcoming Tech Product Releases – Wondering what’s coming in the weeks ahead? You could consult your favorite fortune teller, but she won’t tell you what’s really important: the latest gadget releases! Whatever it is—a game, a phone, a tablet, or a mysterious new product—if we’ve got the scoop on when it’s going to make a public debut, we’ll share it here.

‘Hidden from Google’ tracks sites removed from Internet searches – The website lists links Google has removed from search results following the European “right to be forgotten” ruling.


Microsoft boosts OneDrive storage to free terabyte – Microsoft has started boosting the free allowance of OneDrive, its cloud-based storage service, to one terabyte for subscribers to consumer and college student Office 365 plans. The move follows by two weeks a similar increase in OneDrive for Business, the storage center offered to commercial customers, either as part of their subscriptions to the “rent-not-own” Office 365, or as a stand-alone service for $2.50 per user per month during a promotion through September.

How to get 5 TB of OneDrive storage from your Office 365 Home subscription – Every Office 365 subscription includes 1 TB of storage in OneDrive or OneDrive for Business. With an Office 365 Home subscription, you can share your account with up to four other people, giving your household a total of up to 5 TB of cloud file storage. Here’s how.

10 Tips to Keep Your Digital Photos Organized – Over the years, your photo collection will swell to the tens of thousands, you’ll migrate from one computer to another, you’ll go through several different cameras and industry formats will change. Fortunately, organizing your digital photos has become easier and easier, thanks to new automation tools. But you still need to pitch in. Follow these tips to keep track of your memories through all the changes.

What is sapphire glass and why is it in the next iPhone? – It’s not going to be cheap, but sapphire glass could become the next must-have in phones.


Almost a million fake apps are targeting your phone – Fake apps dressed up to look like official ones but actually designed to steal user data are increasingly targeting Android phone users, according to a study by Trend Micro. The company looked at the top 50 free apps in Google’s Play Store and then searched Google’s app store and others to see if fake versions existed. It found fake versions existed for 77 percent of the apps. The fake apps are often made to look like the real ones and have the same functions, but carry a dangerous extra payload.

Google refreshes Incognito in Chrome 36 – Chrome 36 Stable (download) for desktops on Wednesday debuted a new icon and message for the private browsing Incognito mode, cleaner-looking notification pop-ups, and a crash recovery bubble to better alert you when something has gone wrong. However, the Incognito icon in the upper left does not appear to be updated yet. The 26 security fixes include a medium-level bug that earned the researcher who found it $2,000.

Oracle fixes many vulnerabilities in dozens of products – Oracle has released a large set of security updates to multiple versions of 44 different products. The updates address a total of 113 vulnerabilities in over 100 versions of its products. Among the major products patched are Oracle Database Server (five vulnerabilities), Oracle Fusion Middleware (29), Oracle Hyperion (seven), Oracle E-Business Suite (five), Oracle PeopleSoft (five), Oracle Siebel CRM (six), Oracle MySQL Executive (ten), Oracle Solaris (four) and, of course, Oracle Java (20). Many of the vulnerabilities are severe and can result in remote compromise of the system. Many affect multiple products. Oracle recommends that customers apply all the updates as soon as possible.

Boost your security training with gamification — really! – That’s right; game-like elements can be used to enhance security awareness and modify users’ behaviors. The results are tightly connected to the real world. “Participants in our program were 50% less likely to click on a phishing link and 82% more likely to report a phishing email,” reports Patrick Heim, chief trust officer at, describing the results the company saw after the first 18 months of an ongoing security awareness gamification effort that’s based on positive recognition rather than negative reinforcement.

Company News:

Blackphone Hits Back at BlackBerry on Security – Blackphone pulled on the gloves and stepped into the ring this week to fight BlackBerry’s allegations that the newcomer’s “consumer-grade” equipment is “inadequate” for businesses. BlackBerry took the first shot at Blackphone last week with a blog post that outlined why it believed BlackBerry’s veteran security service reigns supreme.

Apple Agrees To Pay As Much As $450M To Settle E-Book Case, But Says It Will Continue Appeal – Apple has reached an agreement with 33 states to pay as much as $400 million to consumers to settle the antitrust suit over e-book pricing. Including attorneys’ fees and payments to states, the company could pay a total of $450 million. However, the payment could be reduced, or eliminated entirely, depending on the results of Apple’s ongoing appeal.

Patience with Mayer’s Yahoo turnaround effort starting to wear thin – Wall Street drives down Yahoo’s stock as questions surface about the company’s progress and CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure enters its third year.


Microsoft stock hits decade high ahead of layoffs – Ahead of an anticipated announcement from Microsoft about layoffs, the company’s stock has hit the highest price in the past decade and is likely a factor of many different reasons.

Google Planning A Big Push In India This Fall – Google is planning a big advertising campaign for its Android One initiative in India this fall, according to several recent reports. While the figures don’t line up, the news itself makes a lot of sense.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny Public Beta release: details and PS4 drop – On the morning of July 17th at approximately 11AM PST, we’ll begin seeing keys sent out for the Public Beta for Destiny. This game will be playable starting on the 17th by the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, while the Xbox One and Xbox 360 will have to wait until the 23rd of this month. Destiny Beta for the Xbox One will come in at around 12.63GB – massive – and we expect the PS4 version to deliver something similar.


Hands-on preview: 8 years in the making, Firefall plays like an MMO Borderlands – It’s a perfect indicator of the long and presumably arduous road that Firefall—Red 5’s first project—has traveled to completion. The road ends July 29, when Firefall will actually release to the public, four full years after its reveal, and two years after it was supposed to “rule.” What’s incredible about Firefall, though, is the game still seems good, despite its meandering development path.  That’s more than you can say about most games that fall into development hell.


Dragon Quest X on 3DS ships without a cartridge in the box – Launching Dragon Quest X on the 3DS means shipping out physical copies of the game to retail stores. But in this case gamers may be in for a bit of a shock when they open the case. That’s because even though you’ll be paying $40 for the game, there’s no cartridge inside. As it’s an MMO the game world will be streamed, meaning there’s very little to be stored locally, and certainly not enough to warrant actually using a cartridge. Still, it’s a bit cheeky for Square Enix not to give 3DS owners some kind of additional local content on a cartridge for buying a 2-year-old game at full price. Even a cartridge-shaped collectible would be a nice addition.


Divinity: Original Sin is an odd mix of old- and new-school RPG design – The world of Divinity: Original Sin is as detailed as later Ultima games, but with a combat system that has much more tactical complexity. Original Sin’s hand-drawn aesthetic looks a lot like Baldur’s Gate and the Infinity Engine games, but those games certainly didn’t have a thousand different items to pick up for crafting, let alone dozens of skills, attributes, and perks to level up. Meanwhile, newer games like Dragon Age: Origins included some detailed character development, but they didn’t have long battles filled with intricate, turn-based tactical combat or the creation of multiple, distinct party members.


Star Wars Episode IV recreated using Minecraft – Star Wars fans revisit the film franchise often, and we’d bet a few of them even play Minecraft. Some recreate scenes from the movie using Minecraft, but one user has gone all out. Rather than create scenes or crowd-source footage using Minecraft, someone has recreated the entire film. Paradise Decay has spent three years on this labor of love, building everything from the movie using digital blocks. Vehicles, worlds, even characters — all redone using Minecraft. He didn’t skimp, either — some worlds and scenes reportedly took six months to make.


Paul McCartney releases five albums as extra-packed apps – Five Paul McCartney and Wings albums have been released as apps that are packed with extras for less than their iTunes equivalents. Thumbs up!

Off Topic (Sort of):

How long until we see free Android or Chrome OS tablets? – Building a decent sub-$100 tablet is possible today, and recovering the cost of this over a couple of years – especially if it is tied to something such as Amazon Prime – is well within the realms of possibility.

Smart feeder recognizes cat faces, tracks multiple felines – Bistro tracks individual cats using facial-recognition software that has been customized for the feline crowd. It connects to your home Wi-Fi and collects data on the cats’ weight, eating, and drinking habits. This information is sent to a mobile app so pet owners can follow their cats over time and even check in on them with video feeds. It sends alerts when there’s a change in appetite and generates analysis reports. An LED lighting system turns on gradually at night so the machine can collect data even when it’s dark.


Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online: 404 volumes kept on board the Beagle join the giant Darwin Online repository – The complete list is quite astounding, made up of atlases, history books, geology studies, and even a giant supply of literature. Darwin also enjoyed a few books in French, Spanish, and German, along with a book in Latin about species and a Greek edition of the New Testament. Historians and fans can read and perform text searches of the fully transcribed library. But if you’re pressed for time, we strongly encourage you to at least skim through the collection of gorgeous illustrations.


Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange – A Swedish judge has upheld the arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “The Court has decided that there is still probable cause concerning the suspicions directed towards JA (unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, less serious incident) and that there is still a risk that he will fail to appear or in some other way avoid participation in the investigation and the following proceedings,” the Stockholm City District Court said in a statement on Wednesday.

Yahoo exec countersues against sexual harassment claim – A high-level female executive strikes back for defamation, after being accused of sexual harassment in a lurid lawsuit last week.

Manuel Noriega sues Activision over portrayal in Black Ops 2 – Noriega on Tuesday sued video game publisher Activision for the “blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation, and misappropriation for economic gain” of his likeness in the 2012 hit Call of Duty: Black Ops II. According to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Noriega argues he’s portrayed as “a kidnapper, murderer, and enemy of the state.” All of that, he says, only helped Activision sell more units of its game.

50 Smartest Celebrities on Twitter – When it comes to big brains and big followings online, Leonardo DiCaprio appears to best them all: the Wolf of Wall Street actor is the smartest celebrity on Twitter. DiCaprio scores higher than the rest when judged by a commonly used reading comprehension test. Here’s where the tweeting and famous rank, according to analysis of the reading levels of the tweets produced by the 500 most followed celebrities on the popular social network.

Something to think about:

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.”

–     Rita Mae Brown

Today’s Free Downloads:

SUPERAntiSpyware Free 6.0.1020 Pre-Release – 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.


FotoSketcher – FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.

Thanks to FotoSketcher you can create stunning images to make original gifts for your friends or relatives. Create birthday cards, season’s greetings stationary or simply print your work of art and hang it on the wall.

Different styles are available: pencil sketch, pen and ink drawing, various painting renderings. You can also improve your original photo with simple tools (enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation etc…).



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control – William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.

Unlike Snowden, Binney didn’t take any documents with him when he left the NSA. He now says that hard evidence of illegal spying would have been invaluable. The latest Snowden leaks, featured in the Washington Post, detail private conversations of average Americans with no connection to extremism.

U.N. Says Governments Are Increasingly Relying On Private Sector For Surveillance – People deserve a right to privacy in the digital age — that’s what a new report released today by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says.

The report asked governments around the world to take a look at their surveillance practices to match international rights standards after noting a “disturbing” lack of governmental transparency with surveillance policies and practices.

With governments increasingly relying on private companies to aid them with mass surveillance, the report highlights the growing power of these private companies and the need to create a system of accountability to groups that fail to curb mass surveillance and data collection.

“Even non-State groups are now reportedly developing sophisticated digital surveillance capabilities. Mass surveillance technologies are now entering the global market, raising the risk that digital surveillance will escape governmental controls,” according to the report.

Data collection is still considered an interference with privacy as well, even if the collector states it is not being used for surveillance.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks last year about U.S. and British mass surveillance are an example of when technology is misused. The report highlighted that these technologies were deployed through a transnational network made of “strategic intelligence relationships between governments and regulatory control of private companies and commercial contracts.”

The U.N. office says there is “strong evidence” of this reliance by governments to use the private sector to conduct and facilitate digital surveillance, through formal legal mechanisms and covert methods.

Dutch government promises it won’t take sneaky peeks at your Facebook messages in future – The Dutch government is proposing a change to the country’s laws that will place electronic communication under constitutional protection.

According to a proposed amendment to article 13 of the Dutch Constitution submitted to the Dutch Parliament this week, the law governing the confidentiality of letters, phone communications, and telegraphs, will be replaced by a more modern law, applying that confidentiality to both letters and all telecommunications.

The amendment effectively means that emails, conversations over VoIP, and shielded online messages (password-protected messaging services such as Facebook chat or WhatsApp) will also be considered confidential by the constitution.

The proposal — submitted to Parliament by prime minister Mark Rutte, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterkof, and security and justice minister Ivo Opstelten — also highlights that the term ‘telegraph’ is painfully obsolete.

Instead, the proposed amendment deliberately refrains from defining the specific technologies it applies to, in order to make the legislation futureproof. The generic wording will allow any new communication methods created in future to be protected by the constitution as well.

Edward Snowden condemns Britain’s emergency surveillance bill – The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the new surveillance bill being pushed through the UK’s parliament this week, expressing concern about the speed at which it is being done, lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described as increased powers of intrusion.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Moscow, Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.”

Suddenly it is a priority, he said, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. “It defies belief.”

He found the urgency with which the British government was moving extraordinary and said it mirrored a similar move in the US in 2007 when the Bush administration was forced to introduce legislation, the Protect America Act, citing the same concerns about terrorist threats and the NSA losing cooperation from telecom and internet companies.

“I mean the NSA could have written this draft,” he said. “They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We’re losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk.”

His comments chime with British civil liberties groups who, having had time to read the small print, are growing increasingly sceptical about government claims last week that the bill is a stop-gap that will not increase the powers of the surveillance agencies.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 17, 2014

  1. Fred

    In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues…and the Monsters push back harder:
    California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein is the sponsor of CISA, or The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

    The Guardian newspaper looks at it: