Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 23, 2014

How to make Android Voice Search even smarter;  Google Docs: 3 incredibly useful tools for edits and revisions;  13 YouTube Tricks for True PowerYOUsers;  Members of UK Parliament call for judicial review of data retention law;  Users Love Pinterest, Ready to Unfriend Facebook;  William Shatner reviews the Facebook app you can’t have;  If you see this woman’s knickers in your Facebook feed, don’t click the link;  OpenCurriculum Looks To Foster Open-Source Education By Releasing Free Online Library;  Facebook and Twitter Users: Don’t Fall for MH17 ‘Actual Footage’ Scams;  iOS backdoor? Yes… No… Diagnostics!! Advanced Uninstaller PRO (free);  Tweaking.com – Envelope Printer (free);  EU ups antitrust pressure on Google; cites NSA scandal, Android domination.

How to make Android Voice Search even smarter – Android Voice SearchAndroid’s Voice Search system lets you do tons of useful stuff by speaking to your phone — but when it comes to actual hardware control, the system’s always been pretty limited. At least, until now. A 16-year-old (!) developer named Ryan Senanayake has come up with a clever little hack that adds a potent range of powers to Google’s voice command system. It’s called Commandr, it’s completely free, and it’s something you’re almost certainly going to want on your Android device.

13 YouTube Tricks for True PowerYOUsers – The engineers making things run at the Google subsidiary have their game locked down. But even within its vast, well-oiled ecosystem, there are features you’ve never even used. Here are 13 little-known tricks and features that even you, o’ veteran of the Internet, may have never even heard about.

Google Docs: 3 incredibly useful tools for edits and revisions – While it still can’t stand toe-to-toe with the standard-setting Microsoft Word, the Docs app is no slouch when it comes to writing and editing documents, and its collaboration tools are better in many respects. Here are three features you’ll definitely want to use to reap the greatest benefit from Docs.

William Shatner reviews the Facebook app you can’t have – Curious what Facebook Mentions is like? You’re likely not alone, but also not alone n that you’re just not cool enough to be able to take advantage. One of the coolest guys on earth has reviewed it for you, though. William Shatner, who is probably your hero anyway, compares Mentions to your existing Facebook experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Cabin review: Track your family’s location, send messages, and assign tasks – Track location, chat, and share tasks among Android-using family and friends.

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Users Love Pinterest, Ready to Unfriend Facebook – According to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Facebook and its business-focused counterpart LinkedIn rank the lowest in user satisfaction out of the major social media sites. Twitter didn’t rank much better, though all three sites have improved since last year, the survey found. Meanwhile, social media websites rank among the worst-performing companies overall, only beating out airlines, cable companies, and internet service providers in terms of user satisfaction.

OpenCurriculum Looks To Foster Open-Source Education By Releasing Free Online Library – Aimed at providing teachers with educational materials by making them open and competitive, OpenCurriculum, which launched in Pittsburgh, curates and organizes material from sites such as teacher blogs and lesson material publishers. Teachers can create lesson plans and more through OpenCurriculum.org.

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‘Job Explorer’ Maps Your Future Career – Do you hate your job? Need a change? Glassdoor feels your pain. The career community today launched the free “Job Explorer” visualization search tool, which is intended to make it easier for Americans to find new employment. Via a color-coded interactive U.S. map, the search tool ranks job openings by density of relevant listings, population, and unemployment rate in specific areas; darker regions provide a greater volume of opportunities. And if you’ve got a significant other or family to help support, Job Explorer also provides location suggestions for couples and children.

Dating app Wyldfire tries to avoid creeps by letting women take the lead – There’s a new dating app trying to let in only the most desirable bachelors, by letting women choose who can join. The app Wyldfire launched Tuesday in New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Boston and Chicago. Previously it was available only in beta in California. It’s free for iOS. An Android version is in the works, said co-founder and CEO Brian Freeman.

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Intel Locks Down New Enterprise SSDs – The new Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series drives are available in 2.5-inch and M.2 (60mm and 80mm) form factors, with storage capacities ranging from 120GB to 480GB, the company said. The latest professional-class SSDs from Intel are self-encrypting drives (SEDs) that bake in hardware-based 256-bit encryption, while offering policy controls that comply with the Trusted Computing Group’s OPAL 2.0 standard and Microsoft eDrive, like crypto erase capability.

Comcast on hellish customer service call: Rep did ‘what we trained him’ to do – The cable giant says it will review its training and incentive programs after a maddening customer service call goes viral.

Security:

If you see this woman’s knickers in your Facebook feed, don’t click the link – Facebook users are being warned not to click on a link that looks like a video of a woman taking her clothes off on a webcam, as it could lead to them downloading a virus that will steal their personal data. Online security firm Bitdefender issued the warning about the malware, which it believes was developed in Albania. The link is designed to look like a YouTube video, but when clicked, leads them to sites that try to install the malicious software under the guise of an update to Adobe’s Flash software.

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Facebook and Twitter Users: Don’t Fall for MH17 ‘Actual Footage’ Scams – Be very careful which MH17 news stories you click on, especially on Facebook and Twitter, where scammers are exploiting the tragedy to spam you. The BBC reports that fraudsters are exploiting the tragic destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, ostensibly shot down by a ground to air missile on July 17, by bait-and-switching users with promises of shocking video footage or tribute pages to victims that instead link viewers to spam or other offensive content.

iOS backdoor? Yes… No… Diagnostics!! – Have you ever wanted to be able to magically hack mobile phones like hackers do in the movies? If recent claims are true that security holes, backdoors, and packet sniffers are present in every iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device — you can! Speaking at the HOPE/X hacker conference, security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski gave a presentation on the alleged backdoors and packet sniffing tools found in iOS.

Followed by Apple’s – “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time”, response.

Apple: we don’t build backdoors into any services – Recently, Apple products were run through a gamut of tests by a forensic scientist. This expert claimed that a backdoor existed in Apple products, and those were used by the NSA to exploit features in iOS. Though this expert didn’t directly blame Apple for creating a loophole, he did note they tend to be widespread. Apple has since issued a response.

AirMagnet’s Wi-Fi security tool takes aim at rogue drones – Drones themselves don’t pose any special threat to Wi-Fi networks, and AirMagnet isn’t issuing air pistols to its customers to shoot them down. The reason the craft are dangerous is that they can be modified to act as rogue APs (access points) and sent into range of a victim’s wireless network, potentially breaking into a network to steal data, according to Greg Rayburn, a security analyst at AirMagnet.

Hacker worms their way into WSJ computer systems – The Wall Street Journal is a fresh target in what appears to be a renewed assult against media publications online.

Company News:

Google back in Europe’s crosshairs over web domination claims: Antitrust investigation set to widen after rivals trash settlement deal – Regulators in Europe are about to rewrite a settlement with Google and expand their anti-competition probe into the web giant, it’s claimed. The company was already under the microscope for allegedly screwing over its rivals in web search results. The Wall Street Journal cited the proverbial “person with knowledge” in reporting that Brussels may now scrutinize other Google products, such as Android and YouTube, as well as tack extra demands onto a proposed settlement with the advertising giant.

Google privacy policy lawsuit to forge ahead, judge rules – US District Judge Paul Grewal ruled Monday not to throw out the suit, which alleges that Google misled consumers by spreading user data across several products and gave it advertisers without user consent. The suit is in federal court in San Jose, Calif. The case came about after Google changed its privacy policy in early 2012. The changes involved the company consolidating its numerous services — like Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube — under one privacy policy. While Google claimed the changes provided a better experience for users, privacy advocates alleged they increased the company’s advertising opportunities.

Apple Faces Class-Action Lawsuit In California Over Alleged Labor Violations Affecting 20K Employees – The company is being sued in a class-action suit over a series of alleged violations of the California Labor Code, including the “timely” granting of meal and rest breaks as well as final paychecks. The case potentially affects some 20,000 current and former Apple employees in the state, the plaintiffs say. The case was originally filed in 2011 by four people who worked across both Apple’s retail and corporate operations. It was only certified as a class action yesterday, widening the pool of plaintiffs considerably.

Apple has purchased 29 companies since FY 2013 – Apple CEO TIm Cook revealed today the company has snapped up 29 smaller companies since their FY 2013 ended. Some we know of, and some we’ve only heard snippets of information about. If what we know is any indication, it’s easy to see where Apple is going to push forward.

PayPal Expands Its Working Capital Service To UK, Switches From Loans To Cash Advances – As payments platforms look for more ways to grow their margins and usage among businesses, they continue to push into a wider and deeper range of financial services. In one of the latest moves, eBay’s PayPal is expanding its Working Capital service to the UK. This is its first market for PayPal’s lending platform outside of the U.S., where it first launched the service in September 2013 and has provided $140 million in capital to businesses to date.

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Apple Going Big With New iPhone Orders – The Cupertino tech giant has asked its suppliers to manufacture between 70 and 80 million of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch handsets by Dec. 30, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. That’s Apple’s biggest initial iPhone production run, surpassing the 50 million to 60 million iPhone 5s and 5c models it ordered last year, the report notes.

Games and Entertainment:

Mozilla-powered Web games now available – Dungeon Defenders, a popular game title from Trendy Entertainment and previously only available on native code platforms like iOS, Windows, and Mac OS X, can now be played in a browser window. The browser version of the tower defense and action role-playing game, Dungeon Defenders Eternity, will be available from Steam later today. It marks one of the first popular titles built on the Unreal Engine to be ported to the Web without using a plugin.

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Accessories every mobile gamer needs – As tablets and smartphones increase in power and display quality — not to mention the ever-growing library of games — mobile gaming has become a staple way to pass the time for many. Still, mobile gaming has its downsides, namely in the form of usability: trying to control two digital joysticks with your thumbs on your phone’s display isn’t nearly as much fun as physical joysticks, and having your battery run dry mid-game is beyond frustrating. That’s where these essential accessories come in.

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This is the iOS game you should be playing – Great for kids, fun for adults, and one that will make you miss the good old-fashioned side-scroller, Pixel Press Floors is one of the best games we’re playing for iOS right now. Here’s how it works: you draw your level, then you play it. Yeah, it’s a dream come true for those who spent hours sketching out their dream levels in school when they should have been studying (okay, so, that was me). Draw it out, take a picture, and the Pixel Press software will compile the meat-and-potatoes of the level.

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11 mischievously clever anti-piracy measures – The most effective DRM doesn’t prevent would-be pirates from pirating a game — it prevents them from enjoying it. You can still pirate and run the software below (not that you should), but they each have a failsafe to make using the pirated copy so obnoxious that you’ll knock it off and make the purchase.

The Destiny Beta Just Went Dark Until Wednesday – So that’s it PlayStation owners, the horn just sounded and it’s time for everyone to climb out of the pool: Bungie’s Destiny beta, which arrived last Thursday for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners, is now offline for a two-day maintenance hiatus.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Emberlight Turns Any Dimmable Bulb Into A “Smart” Light You Control With Your Phone – Smart light bulbs – like the Philips’ Hue connected bulbs or those from LG, GE or Samsung – are an easy jumping off point for those wanted to experiment in the “connected home” arena without the complexity or costs involved with the installation of a full “smart home” system. But a new company called Emberlight wants to make it easier and more affordable for you to enjoy the benefits of a connected bulb by offering a product that works with your existing lightbulbs. It also doesn’t require the “wireless hub” that ship with competing smart bulb products.

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105-inch Samsung UHD TV available for pre-order soon – If you’re in the market for a 100-inch TV, we’ve got great news for you! The massive Samsung Curved UHD TV, which checks in at 105-inches, will be available for pre-order this week. With a price-tag to match it’s screen size, it may not be one for your living room, though.

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The Defender Is What You Get When You Combine A Camera, Automated 9-1-1, And Pepper Spray – Safety first! That’s what my mom always says. Which is why it’s somewhat shocking that technology hasn’t already been leveraged to provide additional personal protection to people on the go. But the Defender looks to change all that. It’s a new pocket-sized device that combines a camera, a 24/7 monitoring system for police and health services, and pepper spray to provide an all-in-one portable defense system that might actually help catch the assailant. Here’s how it works.

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New Yorker Opens Archives With Site Redesign – The New Yorker is making its archive dating back to 2007 available for free into the fall, the magazine said in a tweet on Monday. The weekly magazine is famous for publishing new fiction and essays, often ground-breaking investigative journalism, and of course, the cartoons. Founded in 1925, The New Yorker still highlights social life in the city of its origin but has had a national scope for decades, with its list of contributors over the years rivaling that of any publication.

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Meet your second car: How the small, slender, $6800 Elio seeks a bigger audience – That’s right, second car. Elio harbors no illusions about this slender automobile’s capabilities. Built to accommodate a single person and a non-claustrophobic friend, along with a few belongings, it’s simply too small on its own to do more than run a few modest errands. Elio has some busy months ahead. The engine could be in production by the end of the year, and the car itself is due to ship in September of 2015.

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One Fast Cat: A hamster wheel for kitty – If you like to keep your kitty indoors, at some point or another, you’re probably going to see them go a bit crazy: rocketing down hallways, making flying leaps onto furniture, and otherwise hullabalooing about the house. This is because all cats — even the indoor ones — need to exercise. One solution? A hamster wheel — for cats. One Fast Cat is a kitty treadmill designed to keep your kitty happy, healthy, and safe.

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Something to think about:

“Life is something that happens when you can’t get to sleep.”

–     Fran Lebowitz

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced Uninstaller PRO – Advanced Uninstaller PRO is the ultimate uninstaller for Windows, allowing you to uninstall programs quickly and completely using its simple and intuitive interface.

No need to worry about stubborn programs ever again!

Advanced Uninstaller PRO features and the Installation Monitor keep track of all changes performed to your computer during software installations; this way you can later completely uninstall any program and make sure nothing is left behind. Advanced Uninstaller PRO is able to uninstall any program without a trace.

Advanced Uninstaller PRO can also remove a lot of items that other uninstallers can’t even touch. It can repair broken registry entries, clean non-functional Start Menu shortcuts, uninstall annoying browser toolbars, plugins and hijackers, remove fonts and get rid of startup programs that run in your system tray and slow down your computer.

The program is especially designed to be very clear, fast, pleasant and intuitive. Easy to read information and help is readily available throughout the program, guiding you every step of the way.

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Screenshots from my personal system.

Tweaking.com – Envelope Printer – A free app to simplify printing your envelopes. Save and store addresses and even add an image.

Each month when I have to pay bills I hate having to write out the envelopes (I am not lazy, my hand actually hurts when I handwrite). So I wanted to be able to print them out as I need them and have the addresses I choose. While I could have custom ordered envelopes I decided why not just print out my own and save money from having to order custom ones?

So I made Tweaking.com – Envelope Printer. Not only will it save and store all the addresses you want but it can even print out a picture along side your return address for a added personal touch to the envelopes. In this case my company logo.

So now when I pay bills and need an envelope I put an envelope in my printer, then open the program, load the address and hit print.

While I could have used MS Office Word and other 3rd party programs to print out envelopes, I wanted something that was far easier to use and that required a heck of a lot less mouse clicks to get the job done. The program remembers your settings, so once all ready to go you can open the program, open the address book, choose the address hit use this address and the click print. 4 mouse clicks and you are done 🙂

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Members of UK Parliament call for judicial review of data retention law – Two members of the British Parliament are seeking judicial review of a surveillance law that extends U.K. data retention rules and was rushed through by the government.

David Davis and Tom Watson are working with U.K. human rights organization Liberty to get the law reviewed, the organization said Tuesday.

Liberty contends that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, also known as DRIP, which was adopted last week, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which cover fundamental privacy rights.

DRIP was fast-tracked by the U.K. government after EU laws requiring communications providers to retain metadata were ruled invalid by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in April because they seriously interfered with fundamental privacy rights.

Under the EU’s Data Retention Directive, communication service providers had to retain communications data for periods of between six months and two years for law enforcement purposes. That directive was transposed into U.K. law and the CJEU’s ruling directly affected the legislation. DRIP was introduced to allow law enforcement agencies to access telecommunications data.

However, according to civil rights advocates, the new law is worse than the one it replaces. For instance, it not only gives law enforcement officers access to metadata but allows them access to the content of messages, even if they are held by companies outside the U.K.

Lawyer reviewing terror laws and special powers: Definition of ‘terrorism’ is too broad – The definition of terrorism in current UK law is too broad and should be narrowed to avoid “catching” journalists, bloggers and hate criminals, a top lawyer said today.

David Anderson QC, who is Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, argued during an interview on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme this morning that the word “influence” should be removed to prevent the wrong type of offences being caught up in terror law.

He said that instead the legislation should require that terrorists must be shown to “intimidate or coerce or to compel”.

An annual report (PDF) was laid before Parliament today in which Anderson urged MPs to review the definition of terrorism “to avoid the potential for abuse,” according to the Guardian.

EU ups antitrust pressure on Google; cites NSA scandal, Android domination as a factor – European regulators may soon revisit a proposed settlement with Google as the continent steps up its offensive against the search giant.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday cited people familiar with the case, pointing to the likely reopening of a number of antitrust jars, which may see the Silicon Valley poster child land back in hot water after previously reaching a broad range of antitrust settlement agreements.

It may be the last punch EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia throws as he is expected to leave his position as the 28 member state’s chief antitrust official in November.

According to one antitrust lawyer speaking to the newspaper, the concerns worsened following the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, in which documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggested a level of complicity on Silicon Valley’s part in domestic and international spying.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 23, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    “Advanced Uninstaller PRO”
    Is this better than REVO?
    I do so appreciate your adding the photos from your own system, it gives me a glimpse of what it is like in addition to your remarks.
    Thanks as usual,
    Fred