Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 18, 2014

Snowden: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos;  goTenna lets you send texts without cellular service;  Real-World Antivirus Protection Test: Winners and Losers;  Real-time plagiarism checker debuts for Microsoft Word;  Air Force research: How to use social media to control people like drones;  How to take great cropped photos on your iPhone;  Wiper is an Encrypted Alternative to SMS and Voice Calls with Instant Data Wipe (free);  5 hidden iOS 7 features that all Apple users should know;  Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance;  Catch of the Day waits 3 years to reveal data breach; Microsoft researchers: Use simple passwords for most of your accounts;  NetAdapter Repair All In One (free);  Photos: Who’s watching you? Farnborough 2014 drones and UAVs.

Snowden: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos – Edward Snowden has revealed that he witnessed “numerous instances” of National Security Agency (NSA) employees passing around nude photos that were intercepted “in the course of their daily work.” In a 17-minute interview with The Guardian filmed at a Moscow hotel and published on Thursday, the NSA whistleblower addressed numerous points, noting that he could “live with” being sent to the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also again dismissed any notion that he was a Russian spy or agent—calling those allegations “bullshit.”

Real-World Antivirus Protection Test: Winners and Losers – Your antivirus tool has many different opportunities to protect your PC from attack. It can totally block access to a malicious URL, wipe out the downloaded code on sight, recognize and prevent malicious behavior, even roll back the system changes made by a malware attack. It’s easy to create a lab test that checks just one of these layers, for example, the ability to block malicious URLs or recognize malware by signature. Such a test is informative, but doesn’t give the whole picture. AV-Comparatives runs a continual Real-World Protection test that lets each antivirus use all of its weapons against live malware. The latest summary of this test’s results reveals a broad range of effectiveness.

Chrome’s been eating your laptop’s battery for years, but Google promises to fix it – Google is just now responding to a bug in Chrome for Windows that may have been sapping users’ batteries for years. Chrome’s battery drain problem was brought to wider attention by Forbes contributor Ian Morris, who noticed that Chrome for Windows was using considerably more power than other browsers. The issue, he wrote, is that Chrome doesn’t return the system’s processor to an idle state when it’s not doing anything. Instead, Chrome sets a high “system clock tick rate” of 1 millisecond, and leaves it at that rate, even if the browser’s just running the background.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to sideload an app onto your Android phone or tablet – “Sideloading” an app is the common term for installing it without downloading directly from the Google Play Store. Maybe there’s an app that’s not in the Play Store but is floating around in a popular forum. Maybe you’re just trying to give your friend’s app a try before he or she publishes it. There are plenty of good reasons why you’d want to sideload an app, and we’re going to show you how easy it is.

Chat off the grid: goTenna lets you send texts without cellular service – Your phone is a pocket-sized supercomputer, but when you don’t even have cellular coverage to send a text message, it feels more like a paperweight. goTenna is a portable RF antenna that lets you communicate even when your phone has no service whatsoever. You won’t be posting selfies to Instagram or catching up on your Hulu queue, but goTenna lets you exchange text messages and GPS coordinates with other goTenna users who are within range—and that range could be a mile or so in a city to a whopping 50 miles if you happen to be standing on top of a mountain.

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Facebook has a new app, but it’s for VIPs only – Facebook’s Creative Labs team can’t be tamed. The group responsible for producing new Facebook-related apps first came up with the social newsreader Paper. Then the Snapchat-esque Slingshot hit iTunes just last month. On Thursday, Facebook released Mentions, but this iOS app isn’t for just anybody—only celebrities can use it.

Real-time plagiarism checker debuts for Microsoft Word – Few of the apps running on top of Microsoft Word have stood out all that much. One exception may be Academic Wordsmith, which can scan academic papers as you’re writing. Although the app itself is technically free, Academic Wordsmith costs $19 per year. For the price, users can submit as many papers as they’d like to the service, comparing them to the Wordsmith database to make sure that “research” doesn’t wander into plagiarism.

Hip to be square: How to take great cropped photos on your iPhone – We’re in a square-photographed world: Square images fill our Twitter streams, Facebook dashboards, and just about everywhere else. If you’re a photographer shooting on your iPhone, it’s hip to shoot square—especially if you know the right tricks to make your images look fabulous.

Brush up on your tech acronyms – You hear and read the same acronyms over and over again. Many you know well. Others you can guess. And some just baffle you. Let’s unclutter the alphabet soup.

Wiper is an Encrypted Alternative to SMS and Voice Calls with Instant Data Wipe – Perhaps you’re the security minded type or just a tiny bit worried about someone snooping on your private correspondence. If such concerns keep you up at night, Wiper could be the answer. It’s a free app that came out recently on both Android and iPhone offering end-to-end encryption for messages and calls, along with instant wipe across devices.

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Fonts In Chrome For Windows Will Look Better Soon – Google released the latest beta version of its Chrome browser today, and if you’re a Windows user on a machine that runs at least Vista, fonts will now look better on your screen. That’s because the Chrome 37 Beta now supports Microsoft’s DirectWrite API, a technology that improves the way fonts look on modern screens.

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Facebook tests ‘buy’ button to let users make purchases from their feeds – Facebook is testing a “buy” button that lets users make purchases directly from their news feeds. A limited number of small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. are involved in the test, with the e-commerce feature available to users in Facebook’s desktop and mobile versions. A participating businesses’ ads include a “buy” button to purchase the item being advertised, without leaving Facebook’s site.

Apple Rolls Out iTunes Pass Payment System – Apple iOS users in the U.S. and a handful of other countries now have access to Apple’s new iTunes Pass feature, which first debuted in Japan. Customers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, and the U.K. can now use the Passbook-based service to refill iTunes account balances at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores. With iTunes Pass—not to be confused with the short-lived music subscription service—accessible via Passbook, it’s easy to personally deposit money into a digital account, instead of fumbling with a credit card number or scanning gift cards.

Smartphone displays smart enough to sense your spit. Seriously – Wondering if you have a cold? You may be able one day soon to spit on your smartphone to find out. Researchers at Polytechnique Montréal in Canada, collaborating with glass maker Corning, are getting closer to making that kind of feature a reality for mobile devices by developing a “smart” glass that can analyze fluids on its surface. Disgusting? Maybe. But such a capability may allow smartphones, wearables and tablets to expand their usefulness in personal medicine, security, and food and environmental safety.

5 hidden iOS 7 features that all Apple users should know – iOS 7 was a break from the traditional form of iOS and brought a revolutionary design, but there are other features that Apple didn’t announce. Here are five useful but hidden iOS 7 features.

Security:

WordPress plugin vulnerabilities affect 20 million downloads – Since May, security firm Sucuri has discovered critical WordPress plugin vulnerabilities affecting four plugins that have nearly 20 million downloads.

The following article explains why it is, only a specific type of WordPress site is susceptible to this type of issue. This site, for example, is not subject to plugin vulnerabilities.

Understanding the different WordPress variants – We’ve gotten a number of reader questions about WordPress, and in particular, about the very different variations that are available to bloggers and developers. In this article, we help clear up the confusion.

Vulnerability exposes some Cisco home wireless devices to hacking – Nine of Cisco’s home and small office cable modems with router and wireless access point functionality need software updates to fix a critical vulnerability that could allow remote attackers to completely compromise them. The company has shared the software updates with service providers, so users who obtained the affected equipment from their ISPs or other Cisco resellers should contact those organizations.

Microsoft researchers: Use simple passwords for most of your accounts – New guidance from Microsoft researchers suggests that users re-use simple passwords and avoid password management applications and services. The problem with password management applications or services is that they introduce a single point of failure.

Pushdo Trojan outbreak: 11 THOUSAND systems infected in just 24 hours – A wave of attacks by cybercrooks pushing a new variant of the resilient Pushdo Trojan has compromised more than 11,000 systems in just 24 hours. Indian PCs have been most affected by the outbreak, but systems in the UK, France and the US have also been hit, according to security software firm Bitdefender.

Apple ID two-step verification expansion brings total to 59 countries – Apple has expanded the availability of its two-step verification for Apple ID. With this latest expansion, the number of countries has jumped from 11 all the way to 59, giving customers in dozens of new countries additional security.

How elite hackers (almost) stole the NASDAQ – In 2010, elite hackers, most likely from Russia, used at least two zero-day vulnerabilities to penetrate the computer network operated by Nasdaq Stock Market, a hack that allowed them to roam unmolested for months and plant destructive malware designed to cause disruptions, according to a media report published Thursday.

The shocking truth behind privacy policies in the enterprise – With the fast pace of online consumerism, companies must guarantee what they say in privacy policies is actually what they are doing when protecting the privacy of customer data.

Catch of the Day waits 3 years to reveal data breach – Australian daily deals website Catch of the Day announced a three-year-old data breach compromising credit cards and passwords to its customers on Friday evening.

Company News:

Microsoft CEO: losing 18,000 jobs makes us “more agile” – In what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says is “the first step to building the right organization for our ambitions”, the company will lay off roughly 18,000 workers in the next year. The move will see the bulk of that come from Nokia, where Microsoft will end competing efforts on the Android platform.

Lenovo stops selling small-screen Windows tablets in the U.S. due to lack of demand – Lenovo has stopped selling Windows tablets with screen sizes under 10 inches in the U.S. due to lack of interest. Lenovo has stopped selling two small-screen Windows tablets with 8-inch screens: the ThinkPad 8, which was announced in January and a model of Miix 2, which started shipping in October last year.

US government rebuffs Aereo’s first shot at rebooting – Online-television startup Aereo’s request for a copyright license that might let it resume streaming — despite TV network opposition and a Supreme Court ruling against it — isn’t going to be simple. The US Copyright Office told Aereo it wouldn’t process the startup’s request for a license that pays for broadcast programming without having to get the permission of broadcasters themselves, in a letter dated Wednesday. The office said Aereo, as an online distributor, falls outside the scope of the act that created this license. But it didn’t shut the door on Aereo entirely.

Indian SaaS provider charts social landscape for clients – With the internet becoming a pivotal arena for commerce and socializing, companies have to be on top of what’s being said about them in social media channels and other forums. KonnectSocial thinks it has the answer.

Games and Entertainment:

Test Driving Sony’s Project Morpheus – Sony has been very coy about Project Morpheus, its upcoming virtual reality headset. It looks like it will be the first major head-mounted display to seriously butt up against the Oculus Rift, but besides the fact that it will be a PlayStation 4 accessory, few other details have been revealed. Sony had Project Morpheus on display at an event in New York this week, and I finally got some hands-on time with the helmet.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Game Hits iOS and Android for $4.99 with No In-App Purchases – Let’s be honest here–the mobile game tie-ins for movies are usually terrible. Even when they’re not (like the recent Captain America game), there is a web of in-app purchases to navigate. That’s not the case with the new Guardians of the Galaxy title, which is just out on Android and iOS. This is an action RPG with Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, Gamora, and Drax in the starring roles, and it contains no upsells at all.

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Microsoft to close Xbox Entertainment Studios, killing its plans for original TV shows – Microsoft is to close Xbox Entertainment Studios, the division responsible for its original TV shows, with the loss of around 200 employees – although its Halo live-action shows will not be affected.

ESPN to stream The International, Valve’s massive Dota 2 e-sports tournament – Valve announced today that The International, the annual e-sports tournament for its blockbuster Dota 2 MOBA game, will be shown live on ESPN3—a pretty big coup, since it seemingly legitimizes e-sports as “real sports.” There will also be a show on ESPN2 at 8:30pm Pacific this Sunday previewing The International’s final match, featuring interviews with players and Valve managing director Gabe Newell. The International is the largest video games tournament in the world, with a prize pool this year of over $10 million.

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Atari Unveils Pridefest, an LGBT-Themed Social Sim Game – Atari says it’s working on an iOS and Android game that’s effectively a parade-building sim designed to appeal to the LGBT community.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Photos: Who’s watching you? Farnborough 2014 drones and UAVs – Unmanned aerial vehicles lined up on parade at this year’s Farnborough Airshow – and not all them fit the familiar drone profile.

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Electricity-eating bacteria are all around us, says researchers – Bacteria that feed on pure electricity are all around us, say researchers who have demonstrated their findings by growing the bacteria directly on battery electrodes. In their habitat, the bacteria survive on — and subsequently excrete — pure energy.

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Air Force research: How to use social media to control people like drones – The research demonstrates that the mathematical principles used to control groups of autonomous robots can be applied to social networks in order to control human behavior. If properly calibrated, the mathematical models developed by Dixon and his fellow researchers could be used to sway the opinion of social networks toward a desired set of behaviors—perhaps in concert with some of the social media “effects” cyber-weaponry developed by the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.

Your brain needs taming: Here’s how you can do it – Your brain is a loose cannon, but you can tame it. At least, that’s the message from wearables startup InteraXon, pitching its Muse brain-sensing headband as the perfect way to coax your cortex into a healthier way of thinking. Another crowdfunding success story, the first Muse units are winging their way to backers, but I jumped the queue to try out one of the production headsets.

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Comcast only 6th worst in customer service, survey says – After a difficult week for its customer service, Comcast might take comfort. On the other hand, number 1 in this Ranker survey is Comcast’s new best friend, Time Warner Cable.

Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance – The surprise move to bring IBM software running on iPads and iPhones into the hallowed halls of corporatedom will hit some competitors hard.

Something to think about:

“Generally the theories we believe we call facts, and the facts we disbelieve we call theories.”

–     Felix Cohen

Today’s Free Downloads:

NetAdapter Repair All In One – NetAdapter Repair is an All In One program that allows a user to effectively troubleshoot and repair common problems with windows networking adapters.

Repair Buttons and Additional Tools:

Advanced Repair (WinSock/TCP IP Repair, Clear all Proxy/VPN Settings, Windows Firewall Repair)

Release and Renew DHCP Address

Clear Host File

Clear Static IP Settings (enable DHCP)

Change to Google DNS

Flush DNS Cache

Clear ARP/Route Table

NetBIOS Reload and Release

Internet Options – Clear SSL State

Enable LAN Adapters

Enable Wireless Adapters

Reset Internet Options Security/Privacy

Set Network Windows Services Default

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Multi Commander – Multi Commander is a multi-tabbed file manager that is an alternative to the standard Windows Explorer. It uses the very popular and efficient dual-panel layout. Multi Commander has a everything you need in your daily works with files to make your work fast and efficient.

It has all the standard features like a file manager has like copy, move, rename, view. But Multi Commanders big strength is the special features that allow you to do advanced task with ease. Like Auto-unpacking, Auto-sorting, Browse inside archives, Workspace support, Scripting, Searching and a lot more. And it allows you to do everything from the keyboard.

Features:

Tabs allowing you to have multiple folders open.

Caching that enable fast file browsing.

Background work for all tasks that takes time to finish, allowing you to continue working without interruptions.

Customize the layout and colors to fit your styling needs.

Extensions and plugins that will increase the functionality of Multi Commander.

FTP, Registry , Zip, 7-Zip, Rar , Tar , GZ , Bz2 , Jar Support.

View and Change file permissions, Take ownership of files.

Picture tools like Convert / Rotate Pictures, View/Remove EXIF tags, Adjust EXIF Date of pictures.

Show Movie information from IMDB/Rotten tomato as extra columns on you movie files.

Audio tools like View Audio file properties, View/Edit MP3 Tags.

Open API for developers to create extensions and plugins.

Remember selections when you get back from another location when browsing the filesystem.

Use mouse and drag and drop or use quick keyboard command for all the task.

FileOperations plugins that can automatically sort / unpack files when they are moved or copied.

File viewer that lets you view files of any size, as ASCII/Unicode/UTF8/Binary and Hex.

Both 32bit and 64bit versions available.

Handle folders with many thousands of files with easy, And use power full filters to limit what you want to view.

Compare folders and select the files and folders that are different, that are the same and many other options.

Power full script engine allowing you to create script that automate tasks.

Portable. Can be installed and run from portable (USB) device. Will not write any settings/session info on host computer.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: Swapping other people’s sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden – Edward Snowden has given an interview to The Guardian from his Russian hideout and warned that, among other things, those naked selfies people send to their loved ones are common currency among NSA staff.

“You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records,” he said in the video interview.

“During the course of their daily work they stumble upon something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense – for example, an intimate nude photo of someone of in a sexually compromising situation, but they’re extremely attractive. So what they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker.”

Such activities are seen as a “fringe benefit” of the job among certain analysts he claimed, and the internal auditing procedures at the NSA are so lax that there’s no comeback if they swap nudie pics. As proof of the laxity shown by the NSA, he pointed out that he, a 29-year-old, had managed to walk out of the agency’s offices with a large chunk of their internal files.

There were plenty of people within the NSA who are disturbed by the extent of surveillance the agency carries out, Snowden said. He claimed he had spoken privately to ten people within the organization when he was still employed there about the troubling aspects of the job.

Snowden also criticized his Russian hosts, saying that a rash of laws passed in the country will severely curtail press freedom and the human rights of its citizens. He denied passing security secrets to the Putin government, saying that had he done so then the US would have been alerted when its own espionage channels went dark.

EU privacy watchdogs to quiz Google, Microsoft on ‘right to be forgotten’ – European privacy authorities have invited Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to discuss the implementation of a landmark ruling by Europe’s top court that gives people the right to have personal information excluded from search results.

The main search engine providers in Europe were invited to attend a collective consultation meeting about the ruling with the Article 29 Working Party (A29WP), which brings together data protection authorities from across the EU, according to a spokeswoman for the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), which is part of the working party.

They will meet next Thursday in Brussels, added a spokeswoman for France’s data protection authority CNIL, the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, which currently presides over the group of data protection authorities.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company has received the invitation and is happy to attend, while Google said it would cooperate with privacy authorities. Yahoo did not immediately return a request for comment.

Under the May ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, search engines can be compelled upon request to remove results in Europe for queries that include a person’s name, if the results shown are” inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”

Since than, Google has received over 70,000 take-down requests covering more than 250,000 Web pages. It also started adding a warning to some search results on its European sites, saying some results may have been removed under European data protection law, and it also started telling Web masters which links to content on their website were removed.

Chaos Computer Club bolsters NSA spying complaint with Tor snooping evidence – The German Chaos Computer Club said Wednesday that it has added to its legal complaint about U.S. spying on German citizens evidence that the NSA allegedly snooped on at least one of its Tor servers.

The CCC filed a complaint with Germany’s federal prosecutor, Harald Range, in February, demanding an investigation into the German government’s alleged involvement in the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of German citizens.

However, while Range started an investigation into the alleged tapping of Merkel’s phone by the NSA in June, he said there wasn’t enough evidence to start a similar investigation into the widely reported mass surveillance of German citizens.

The CCC hopes that new publications exposing data collection explicitly targeting servers that are used to connect to The Onion Router (Tor) network, a network that encrypts data traffic through random servers in order to obscure users’ identities, will change Range’s mind.

An investigation by German broadcasters revealed in early July that an NSA spying tool called XKeyScore is used to snoop on Tor users. A Tor server operated by computer science student Sebastian Hahn was identified as one of the NSA’s targets by the broadcasters.

Snowden: ‘Wannabe PRISM partner’ Dropbox is ‘hostile to privacy’ – In an interview with The Guardian, the newspaper which the former government contractor went to publish classified materials detailing the U.S.’ surveillance systems, Snowden said “zero knowledge” systems help protect user privacy by preventing government access.

“By depriving themselves of the ability to read the information, of the ability to sort of analyse and manipulate the information without the customers’ consent or authorisation, that’s the only way they can prove to the customers that they can be trusted with their information,” he said.

He also criticized the company’s decision to appoint former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to its board, calling her “the most anti-privacy official you can imagine.”

Rice was appointed to the company’s board earlier this year, sparking anger from privacy advocates and users. During her time in the Bush administration, she oversaw the STELLARWIND program, which was the cornerstone of Bush’s domestic surveillance program, he said.

British lawmakers bring back UK data retention – The United Kingdom’s data retention laws, labeled as emergency legislation, has cleared the House of Lords after two days of debate, the BBC reports.

On Wednesday the bills were pushed through the UK House of Commons, following an April ruling by the European Court of Justice that existing data retention laws across Europe breached citizen’s right to privacy.

At the same time that the House of Lords was debating the legislation, the United Nations Human Rights Council said that forcing telecommunications companies to retain customer data on behalf of law enforcement agencies should be measured, not by its impact to targets, but by the impact on the general population.

“Mass or ‘bulk’ surveillance programs may thus be deemed to be arbitrary, even if they serve a legitimate aim and have been adopted on the basis of an accessible legal regime,” the council said.

“Mandatory third-party data retention — a recurring feature of surveillance regimes in many states, where governments require telephone companies and internet service providers to store metadata about their customers’ communications and locations for subsequent law enforcement and intelligence agency access — appears neither necessary nor proportionate.”

However, during debate in the Commons, UK Home Secretary Theresa May backed the need to reinstate data retention.

“Without these capabilities we run the risk that murderers will not get caught, terrorist plots will go undetected, drug traffickers will go unchallenged, child abusers will not be stopped, and slave drivers will continue in the appalling trade in human beings,” she said.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis admitted this week that data retention is under active consideration by the Australian government, but that it would not rush to introduce similar legislation.

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