Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 28, 2014

How to Manage Your Online Reputation;  Congress finally passes cell phone unlocking bill;  Make calls with Google Voice without a Google+ account;  Microsoft Word tricks to make you an instant expert;  Monitor multiple time zones with the Windows clock;  The best Linux desktop environments;  iSwimband: a wearable to keep your kids safe at the pool;  How to pick the right headphones;  Hidden Google: 10 Fun Search Tricks;  The security flaws in Tails Linux are not its only problem;  Firefox adds anti-malware file reputation service;  The 17 best free PC games;  5 tips for getting the most out of working at home;  Zemana AntiLogger (free);  The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police;  Geeks tend to be Democrats, says DeGrasse Tyson.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation – When was the last time you Googled your name? If you haven’t, it’s a good habit to get into, because it’s exactly what a potential employer is likely to do when they’re sifting through a pile of resumes. “The stuff people care most about is what they find when they Google you,” says Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of online reputation-management firm Reputation.com.

Congress finally passes cell phone unlocking bill: House gives in, passes the Senate version that unlocking activists preferred – The House passed the Senate version of the bill without making any changes to it. That means that the controversial language banning “bulk” unlocking won’t be in the final version of the bill. If that language had stayed in, the bill would have protected consumers while leaving phone resellers and recyclers open to copyright claims.

5 upcoming Android phones that are worth waiting for – Maybe you aren’t smitten with today’s superphones or you have a suspicion that the perfect phone is just around the corner. Here’s a list of the most intriguing upcoming Android phones.

Make calls with Google Voice without a Google+ account – Have Google Voice, but not interested in Google’s social platform? Now you can make calls through your Web browser without signing up for the latter.

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If you steal Microsoft product keys, you will get arrested like Mr. Prabhu – Microsoft makes the majority of its revenue by selling software and if you try to steal product keys from Microsoft, don’t be surprised if they send the authorities after you like they did in India.

Monitor multiple time zones from your desktop with the Windows clock – Windows has so many handy little features hidden all over the place, you can often forget they’re there and until someone reminds you. Here’s a reminder. The system tray clock in Windows 7 and 8.1 can display up to three different world times at once. Here’s how it works.

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Microsoft Word tricks to make you an instant expert – There’s much more to Word than just pointing, clicking, typing, and spell-checking. In this gallery, I present six of my favorite hidden features to make you more productive when creating and editing Word documents.

TravelByDrone lets you visit all these places without leaving your seat – A simple but innovative new “travel” website called TravelByDrone maps embedded YouTube videos showing drone-shot video of various cities and places. You can do a techno-dubbed fly-over of Paris at night or (likely) see your own city forest from above. Wherever citizens can capture aerial video, TravelByDrone can map it for your viewing pleasure.

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How to get photos from your digital camera to Instagram in 3 easy steps – The best photos on Instagram weren’t taken with a smartphone. Make your account stand out by learning how to get photos from your DSLR or point-and-shoot onto Instagram in no time.

The best Linux desktop environments – Unlike Windows or Mac OS X, Linux offers a wide variety of desktop environments. Here are my picks of the most important of these PC interfaces.

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GNOME 3.12

This Site Lets You Check If A Hotel’s WiFi Sucks Before It’s Too Late – There are lots of things that review sites should rank hotels on, but don’t. Is it known for bed bugs? Is the “heated pool” only heated during summer when the sun is out? How many ghosts live there? How fast is the WiFi? This site won’t help you with all of those, but it will help you with that last one.

iSwimband: a wearable to keep your kids safe at the pool – We’ve seen a variety of wristbands targeted towards parents, all of them selling the promise of safety in a world that feels increasingly dangerous. iSwimband is a similar wearable, but one that narrows its purpose down to one specific activity: swimming, and the related prevention of drowning.

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Russia targets anonymity with Tor bounty – Russia has added another item to its list of controversy, with its interior ministry announcing a bounty for research that will allow them to unmask Tor users. To the lucky one(s) who come up with a method, the sum of 3.9 roubles will be given.

Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 – Unless the Redmond, Wash. technology company radically changes its habits, it will throw Windows 8 down a memory hole even before the successor ships. Just like it made Vista persona non grata in its official messaging in 2009, it will shove Windows 8 so far into the background that we’ll need the Hubble telescope to find it.

How to pick the right headphones — for you: The Audiophiliac gives headphone buyers a lot to think about – Headphone buyers have never had it so good, but the range of choices between in-, on-, over- the-ear, noise-canceling, noise-isolating, and wireless models can be overwhelming. What’s the best one for you? Let’s look at what’s what with headphones.

Google granting half of ‘right to be forgotten’ requests – After being called to account over its handling of the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, it has been revealed that Google is approving around 50 percent of all requests.

Hidden Google: 10 Fun Search Tricks – You could work or you could slack off by trying all these tricks, taking an early lunch and napping in your parked car until 1:30 or 2:00. Totally up to you.

Security:

The security flaws in Tails Linux are not its only problem – A new version of Tails, version 1.1, was released on July 22, 2014 with bug fixes. On top of that, security firm Exodus Intel announced that they discovered bugs in this just-released version. All of this is par for the course. There is, however, another, less obvious, danger for Tails users – the Tails website (tails.boum.org) itself. If I ran a spy agency, the users of Tails Linux would be among the people I most wanted to spy on. Simply by using Tails, they have declared to the world that they want to hide something. As a spy, I would try to trick people into downloading a spyware-infested copy of Tails. A great way to do that, would be to create a scam copy of tails.boum.org. An evil twin, if you will.

IE was the most vulnerable web browser in the first half of 2014 – According to a new security report out by Bromium, Internet Explorer was the most vulnerable web browser in the first half of 2014. The firm states that IE was the most patched and most exploited product in the first half of 2014, surpassing Java and Flash. The chart shows the trending of vulnerabilities; the blue bars represents vulnerabilities in 2013 and those in red are for 2014.

(Yeah – that’s it – blame Microsoft because users are too careless to update. This article is a perfect example of how twisting stats, ensures a click-bait headline.)

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Firefox adds anti-malware file reputation service – Firefox has blocked known phishing and malware sites for some time. Version 31.0 adds a new feature. If, during a download, the site passes reputation check, then before completion Firefox will send a SHA-256 hash of the file to Google’s Safe Browsing Service, which maintains a database of them. This file reputation service is not a documented part of the Safe Browsing API, but Google has given Firefox access to it. Obviously Google Chrome has had access to this file reputation service since Google launched it in 2012.

Firefox slams Chrome again in our trustworthy browser poll – Firefox once again outpaced Chrome, IE, Safari and Opera as the most trusted web browser. But many are not happy with their browser choices when it comes to privacy. Read on for some of the interesting comments our readers submitted …

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Company News:

Verizon to begin throttling some users with Unlimited 4G LTE data plans this October – Verizon has tried to win back customers that have lost trust and patience with the company, but they’ve recently backtracked by unveiling a new policy that will throttle some Unlimited 4G LTE users.

Apple will ‘set the world on fire’ with iPhone 6 sales – Analysts anticipate an ‘unbelievably massive’ second half of ’14 for a new, larger-screen iPhone, in part because Apple’s committed a near-record $21B for components, tooling and manufacturing

Bose sues Beats, claims noise canceling headphones violate patents – A timely move, Beats — now owned by Apple — has been sued by Bose. The litigation is said to revolve around noise canceling headphones. Details are sketchy, but it’s a potentially devastating blow to Beats’ hardware division.

Apple buys e-book recommendation engine, report says – The tech giant’s potential purchase could help it compete in an area dominated by Amazon’s prized e-book business, according to TechCrunch.

Games and Entertainment:

The 17 best free PC games – Here, you’ll find a list of games so good the developers could’ve charged money (or, in some cases, did charge money) before going free-to-play. These aren’t just good free-to-play games, they’re good games, full stop.

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Heroes & Generals

Hands On With the Destiny Beta – Gamers have been waiting for over a year to get their hands on Destiny, and a small group of people were able to play the alpha version of the game after this year’s E3. But a new, ongoing PlayStation and Xbox beta, which kicked off last week, opens the door to an even larger group of people. I played only a few hours of Destiny, but I can’t wait for the game’s official Sept. 9 release. It’s just that good.

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Ridley Scott’s Halo: Nightfall TV series gets a teaser trailer – Microsoft axed a whole bunch of employees and projects last week, including the staff developing original content for Xbox One. But fear not, the only original content anyone cared about survived the cut.

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Watch: Rob Zombie’s French Revolution, for Assassin’s Creed – Teaming up with The Walking Dead co-creator Tony Moore, Rob Zombie and Ubisoft have created an animated short showing the brutality of the French Revolution. In support of Assassin’s Creed: Unity, of course, this film is being made. While Pirates are easy to understand, not everyone is up on their history – the significance of this time period must be made plain.

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You Should Play: Steampunk Tower – These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Emerging technologies are reducing governments’ stranglehold on the economy – Forget pizza and books, it is now possible to order an entire summer party weekend from a smartphone. The website Airbnb makes it easy to find the perfect rental (I recently stayed at a lovely cabin on a buffalo ranch outside of Golden, B.C.). The ride-sharing site Uber is offering water taxis in Ontario’s Mukoka region. And darknet markets, such as Silk Road 2, allow people to purchase a wide variety of marijuana and other mind-altering substances from the comfort of their own home.

Beware the spin behind Australia’s copyright law discussion paper – Another week, another propaganda-driven proposal from the mind of Australian Attorney-General Brandis. This one assumes that ISPs need to fix other people’s broken product distribution models.

Geeks tend to be Democrats, says DeGrasse Tyson – Is it possible that geeks are all of one persuasion? We know that most of them think alike and would prefer that all humanity thought, acted and dressed like engineers. However, does this also imply that geeks are natural Democrats? Appearing on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” Cosmos presenter and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained his belief about nerd politics.

Windows Phone charged by Apple – and Potato – The world’s largest battery has been made using “Organic Charging” – made out of copper wiring, nails, apples, and potatoes. You’ll see a Nokia Lumia 930 in white as well as a Nokia Wireless Charger attached to a rigged-up wire connected to the food. The food that charges the phone.

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How tech innovation was used for mass killing during WWI – The conflict’s start on July 28, 1914, signaled the beginning of a new era in high-tech warfare, which included fighter aircraft, tanks, chemical weapons, and flamethrowers.

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Germans testing the climbing power of captured British tanks, redecorated in German colors.

5 tips for getting the most out of working at home – The advantages of working at home, far away from the distractions of the office, are many. But it’s not always a rose garden, and these tips will help those working at home make the most of it.

You can checkout my take on working from home – Working From Home? Are You REALLY Working? (March 1, 2012)

Microsoft explains quantum computing so even you can understand – Quantum computing may someday blow away today’s smartest machines. It’s weird and heavy on the physics, but Microsoft thinks you can handle it.

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Something to think about:

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

–      Benjamin Franklin

Today’s Free Downloads:

Zemana AntiLogger – AntiLogger is a lightweight app that keeps track of who is doing what on your computer. Instead of identifying malware based on its signature fingerprint, like all malware products with scan functionality, the AntiLogger catches malware at the moment it attacks your computer. It will then prompt you if an illegal program is trying to record your keystrokes, capture your screen, gain access to your clipboard, microphone and webcam, or inject itself into your computer’s sensitive areas.

The AntiLogger features our unique SSL Intrusion Protection technology that guards you against advanced forms of Financial Malware. The AntiLogger is one of the very few products on the market today able to detect these dangerous and complex threats.

Zemana AntiLogger is not designed to replace your installed antivirus software — it’s made to detect serious threats that are outside of their scope. It adds an extra layer of essential protection to whatever anti-malware or anti-virus software you’re currently using.

Stop malicious programs from stealing your usernames and passwords

Monitors your PC in real time, all the time. No scans needed.

100% signature independent: does not rely on a database of known threats

Powerful, yet light. Does not slow down your PC

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Here’s my take on Zemana Antilogger – Zemana AntiLogger – An Ounce of Prevention (January 9, 2010)

Process Lasso – Process Lasso is a unique new technology that will, amongst other things, improve your PC’s responsiveness and stability. Windows, by design, allows programs to monopolize your CPU without restraint – leading to freezes and hangs.

Process Lasso’s ProBalance technology intelligently adjusts the priority of running programs so that badly behaved programs won’t interfere with your ability to use the computer! In addition, Process Lasso offers capabilities such as default process priorities and affinities, termination of disallowed processes, instance count limits, a system responsiveness graph, logging of processes, keep select processes running (auto-restart), and much more!

Best of all, Process Lasso’s core process management engine is isolated from the GUI. This means it can do its job consuming almost no system resources, and without ever making a peep. You will porbably not even notice it is running, but you will surely notice when uninstalling it.

Features:

ProBalance dynamic priority optimization

Works great for desktops, laptops, and netbooks

Persistent (sticky) priorities and CPU affinities

Instance count limits

Disallowed processes

Keep processes running (auto-restart)

Unique system responsiveness graph

Prevent PC sleep for designated processes

Differentiate between svchost.exe instances

Extremely low resource use

Stand-alone process management engine (uses as little as 1MB of RAM)

Event logging

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft explains why they oppose government demands for personal data – Microsoft has not been shy about fighting the remarks made against the company that they are working with government agencies and allowing them to access their data at will. After the leaks by Edward Snowden, Microsoft’s reputation took a hit after it was stated that they were helping the NSA crack encryption keys. Microsoft was not alone in being called out by the leaks but for a company building out a billion dollar cloud business; the brand needs to be protected.

In the weeks and months following these accusations, Microsoft has gone on the offensive to quiet the fear mongering that its data services were compromised by the US government. In the latest round of pushing back against the government, Microsoft’s top lawyer, Brad Smith, has been conducting interviews about this topic. The most recent being with the Wall Street Journal and you can watch the interview at the top of this post.

The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police – The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world’s most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior—referred to in the document as MOI— has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that “Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse,” specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly “poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat” of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI’s use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents.

But as the State Department publicly catalogued those very abuses, the NSA worked to provide increased surveillance assistance to the ministry that perpetrated them. The move is part of the Obama Administration’s increasingly close ties with the Saudi regime; beyond the new cooperation with the MOI, the memo describes “a period of rejuvenation” for the NSA’s relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense.

In general, U.S. support for the Saudi regime is long-standing. One secret 2007 NSA memo lists Saudi Arabia as one of four countries where the U.S. “has [an] interest in regime continuity.”

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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 28, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    Zemana AntiLogger (free)
    A year ago you mentioned to me that you wouldn’t rely on the free version to guard against clipboard loggers since it’s designed to encrypt “keystrokes” – not blocks of text copied into memory. Does that still hold?

    Not only is all of this a NECESSITY but it is, at the same time, fascinating to me, the endless war against the Bad Guys, well this subset of bad guys anyway I think some of us might rate the governments as Bigger Bad Guys, in all too many nations,

    Yours faithfully and friendly,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Yep, that still holds. Still, it’s important that regular users (you’re in the Geek category, so this doesn’t apply to you), become aware of not only the hazards, but applications – free and commercial – that are available to deal with such hazards. The paid version of Zemana AntiLogger is well worth the price.

      You’re right of course – ” I think some of us might rate the governments as Bigger Bad Guys, in all too many nations.”

      Best,

      Bill