Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 29, 2014

How to Make Your Phone Number Private;  These Are Twitter’s Biggest Secrets;  Will a cell phone unlocking law really matter?  Know Your Smartphone: A Guide To Camera Hardware; How to install (or replace) a case fan;  The Top Tablets for Your Kids;  Mobile apps galore for managing business cards;  Going The Distance With A Smart Shoe Made In India;  When your computer won’t turn on;  Watch Doom being played on a hacked ATM;  14 antivirus apps found to have security problems; Microsoft reveals the four free games for August’s Games with Gold;  Australian TV pirates refuse to play the waiting game;  Top Journalists and Lawyers: NSA Surveillance Threatens Press Freedom and Right to Counsel;  Panopticlick reveals the cookie you can’t delete;  How Amazon knows so much about you; CCleaner for Android (free).

How Amazon knows so much about you – and how to regain your privacy – My Amazon home page shows me how much the company knows about me and my online activities. Here we show you which privacy and security settings can help you reduce the information Amazon holds about you.

These Are Twitter’s Biggest Secrets – Researchers have discovered trends in the way that we perform every major action on Twitter—favoriting, updating, sharing, and following. And there’s even an interesting bit of psychology behind what makes Twitter so attractive in the first place. Here’s a look at the psychology of Twitter: what makes us follow, favorite, share and keep coming back for more.

How to Make Your Phone Number Private – When my daughter was born, we placed an advertisement for a nanny in a local newspaper. At 6:30 a.m. on the first day the ad ran, the phone started ringing. It was the first applicant out of hundreds who would call inquiring about the position. What I would have given then for a disposable phone number — something I could turn off once I’d made my hire. Today, there are options for keeping your phone number private. Here’s what I recommend.

Will a cell phone unlocking law really matter? – Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle pass a bill that will make unlocking a cell phone legal again. But will it really give consumers more choices?

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Facebook Forces Users Worldwide To Download Messenger For Mobile Chat – Over the next few days, Facebook will stop allowing messaging in its main iPhone and Android apps, and force all their users around the world to download its standalone Messenger app. Facebook first started requiring users in Europe to use Messenger back in April, but after seeing “positive results” in terms of engagement, its rolling out the plan to the everyone.

Know Your Smartphone: A Guide To Camera Hardware – One of the most important features of smartphones is the camera. Whether it’s for photographing people, landscapes, flowers or food, buyers nowadays demand a good quality camera on the back of their handset. But just what goes in to making a smartphone camera? What hardware do companies use? What do pixel sizes and f-stops really mean? In this article I’ll be exploring smartphone camera hardware, key terms associated with photography, and interesting comparisons along the way.

How to install (or replace) a case fan – Many of the chips inside a typical PC generate a lot of heat and require some form of active cooling to remain stable. System builders usually rely on heatsinks and fans to manage the heat within a PC. If you’re upgrading or building a new PC—or your PC is overheating—you may need to install new or additional fans. Here’s how to identify when you need to replace a fan and how to do it yourself.

Mobile apps galore for managing business cards – Still managing stacks of ‘analog’ contacts? These smartphone applications could make life easier; some even boast direct connections to LinkedIn and Salesforce.com.

The Top Tablets for Your Kids – There’s a wide range of tablet options for youngsters, from kid-friendly units that can take abuse yet don’t insult their intelligence, up to the standard adult-oriented tablets that really are easy enough for any age to master. In a couple of cases the prices on even the best tablets for your young ones are so reasonable you won’t feel too bad when it inevitably gets submerged in the bathtub or stepped on out on the sidewalk. Okay you’ll feel a little bit bad.

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Why PC Sales Have Stalled – It’s not surprising that PC sales have dipped in recent years. But why? New research provides some insight. I recently got my hands on a rather interesting piece of research that showed how certain age groups use technology. Although the scope of the research was rather broad, it explored how four different age groups used smartphones and tablets in their digital lifestyles.

10 technologies that will transform PCs in 2015 and beyond – You might write off PCs as archaic or boring. You might take for granted that they’ll get faster, lighter, more power-efficient and more convenient to use over time. But if you stop and consider all the things that go into making a computer better, there’s actually a lot to be excited about. Here are 10 PC advancements that will transform PCs over the next several years.

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Going The Distance With A Smart Shoe Made In India – Forget Google Glass or Jawbone Up, the next wave in wearable tech might just be a smart shoe from India. The Lechal, meaning “take me along” in Hindi, has a Bluetooth enabled shoe insert that hooks up with Google Maps and buzzes to let you know which way to turn on your chosen route. Created by Ducere Technologies Pvt, the shoe hooks up with an app that syncs with Google Maps, tracks your steps and counts your calories burned. The shoe itself can be used for jogging around town.

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Byword: One of the best iOS apps for distraction-free writing – Business users who perform any amount of writing know the distractions inherent with modern computing. Byword is a fantastically simple writing app for Mac and iOS that makes it easy to focus.

Delivery drone flies like a plane, lands like a helicopter, has a 30km range – A trio of engineering grad students have designed VertiKUL, a drone that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane. The VertiKUL’s wings are in an up and down orientation when it’s on the ground, allowing it to lift off with the propellers like a regular helicopter-type drone. Once it’s in the air, it can rotate and fly like a prop-driven airplane.

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When your computer won’t turn on – A lot of problems can keep a computer from booting Windows (or any other operating system). Fortunately, you can get a pretty good idea by noting how and when the PC fails. If you press the power button and nothing happens, you’ve got a very different problem than if the PC starts but Windows never loads. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

Five Apple business apps to boost your productivity – Turn your Apple device into a productivity powerhouse. Tom Merritt highlights five handy business apps.

Watch Doom being played on a hacked ATM – It’s hard to make ATMs more thrilling then they already are, seeing as how they’re designed to spit money at you. But a team of tinkering Australians has done just that by modifying an ATM to play Doom. Yes, that Doom, the demon-blasting game that gave the world a taste for first-person shooters.

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OkCupid Relaunches OkTrends: A Beloved Blog That Tracks Online Daters’ Fascinating Habits – In 2009, OkCupid gave the people of the Internet a beautiful gift. No, not eternal love. A peek into the its massive treasure trove of user data — exposing everything from strange overshares (How much do Twitter users masturbate?) to serious issues (How does race impact the messages you receive?).

Security:

14 antivirus apps found to have security problems – Vendors just don’t care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software. Organisations should get their antivirus products security tested before deployment because the technology across the board dangerously elevates attack surfaces, COSEINC researcher Joxean Koret says. “Some AV companies don’t give a f**k about security in their products.”

Panopticlick reveals the cookie you can’t delete – You know about cookies, and how to delete them, but what if there was a cookie you couldn’t delete, and what if the steps you took to guard your privacy made you easier to track? The EFF’s Panopticlick tool determines how easy you are to identify based on your web browser’s ‘fingerprint’.

Virtual servers still face real security threats – A new survey from Kaspersky finds that many IT professionals don’t understand the security threats against virtual servers.

Malwarebytes: Android Features Used Maliciously – We hear a lot about the high amount of Android malware running rampant. An interesting tidbit is a vast majority of malware doesn’t need any special ‘magic’ to behave maliciously. They use existing functionality to attack users, functionality available to all developers. We’ll take a look at a couple of these methods in which malware is able utilize, once their permission request is granted and the app is installed.

Anatomy of an iTunes phish – tips to avoid getting caught out – We often forget that many things are “obvious” only with experience, meaning, in fact, that they’re not really obvious at all. That’s why we do phishing walkthroughs fairly regularly on Naked Security. The idea is to step you through a typical email phish, pointing out the telltale warning signs in the original email and the web pages that follow, so you know what to look for in future. So, even if you’d back yourself to spot a phish every time, here’s a step-by-step account that might help to save your friends and family in the future.

Company News:

Comcast disinformation campaign squashed municipal fiber effort – In late 2004, a trio of small cities in Illinois were preparing to vote on what would amount to a municipal fiber Internet offering, something that would have undercut both Comcast and AT&T-owned SBC Communications. In all three locations — Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles — Comcast and SBC took to action, spreading propaganda to squash its budding competition. Reports Vice Motherboard, for the months preceding the vote, both Comcast and SBC blasted locals with postcards decrying municipal fiber, including “disinformation, exaggerations, and outright lies” to sway the vote in their favor. It is reported that before this “disinformation campaign” was initiated, more than 72-percent of residents looked favorably on municipal Internet.

Microsoft China offices visited in apparent antitrust probe – Officials from China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) made surprise visits to four Microsoft offices today as part of what is described by the Financial Times as an antitrust probe. Offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu were inspected by SAIC officials. The nature of the investigation is currently unclear, with neither Microsoft nor SAIC offering any details. So far, the regulator has made no formal complaint against the company.

OkCupid defends Facebook: We test you too – OkCupid is bravely – or foolhardily – wading into the furore over social sites experimenting on users, defending Facebook in the process as it reveals some of the discoveries its own testing has come up with. The stat sifting turns up several insights around the value of pictures on profiles, as well as how suggestible users are, though the fall-out seems less intensive than Facebook’s mood-altering trials.

Qualcomm planting seeds for 4K video, silicon brains in mobile devices – Smarter contextual awareness, 4K video and augmented reality are just some of the new technologies that will be offered by smartphones and tablets over the next year or so, according to Qualcomm’s product blueprints. Qualcomm is planting the seeds for these technologies in mobile devices by loading its chips with new wireless connectivity, computing, sensory and graphics features, said Keith Kressin, vice president of product management at the company.

Mozilla Promotes Interim Chief to CEO – Mozilla on Monday announced it has named Chris Beard as CEO. Beard has been serving as Mozilla’s interim CEO since Brendan Eich resigned in April amidst controversy surrounding a donation he made to an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative. “The Mozilla board has reviewed many internal and external candidates – and no one we met was a better fit,” chairwoman Mitchell Baker wrote in a blog post.

Samsung delays launch of Tizen smartphone – Samsung Electronics said Monday that it would postpone the release of its first smartphone running the Tizen OS, the Samsung Z, which was set to launch first in Russia. The delay does not bode well for the company’s attempt to move away from its heavy reliance on Google’s Android OS. Tizen is an open source, Linux-based system that the South Korean company is using to mount a challenge to dominant smartphone software players Google and Apple. When it announced the Samsung Z in June, it said that the device would be available in Russia in the third quarter.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft reveals the four free games for August’s Games with Gold – Microsoft’s ‘Games with Gold’ program gives free games to subscribers of its Xbox Live Gold tier for the Xbox One and the Xbox 360. For the month of August, Microsoft will be giving Strike Suit Zero: Directors Cut and Crimson Dragon on the Xbox One and Dishonored and Motocross Madness on the Xbox 360.

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Strike Suit Zero: Directors Cut

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer is here – There’s nothing like Lord of the Rings to get fantasy fans drooling, and so the first trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was always going to set the Comic-Con audience a flutter. Happily Warner Bros. isn’t limiting it just to those who strapped on their cosplay and went to San Diego, and now you can see the whole trailer yourself after the cut.

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New DVD-quality Expendables 3 film leaked online, ranked as #1 most-pirated movie – A pirated DVD-quality version of The Expendables 3 is the wild, several weeks before the film debuts in theaters. The leaked film ranked as the #1 most-pirated movie of the week. But if you are into streaming movies instead of downloading torrents, then you might be interested to know that the Justice Department wants to make “unauthorized” streaming a felony.

(I’m certainly not a defender of ripping off intellectual property – but, the idea of incarcerating people involved in “unauthorized” streaming, is abhorrent. True to form, the U.S. Government continues to over-incarcerate it’s citizens under it’s multi-layer so called “justice” system. As it is – one in four Americans have a criminal record. )

AMD Boosts Gameplay Capture in Gaming Evolved – The update takes advantage of AMD’s Video Codec Engine (VCE) for “hardware-accelerated H.264 encoding of video game streaming and capture” in several ways, the chip maker said. AMD’s VCE is supported on all Graphics Core Next (GCN)-based Radeon graphics cards with Radeon HD 7000/R9/R7 series GPUs as well as GCN-based accelerated processing units (APUs) from the Kaveri, Kabini, Temash, Beema, and Mullins generations.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Australian TV pirates refuse to play the waiting game – Why are Australians such prolific pirates of TV shows? Analysis on the availability of TV shows by tech blog Reckoner may hold some answers.

A tour of the Royal Air Force Museum – The RAF Museum London is just a short tube ride outside the city itself. Warplanes from every era of flight, from WWI to present day, fill its hangars. Here’s a full tour.

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7 weird facts about NASA – NASA is one of the deepest scientific and bureaucratic rabbit-holes in existence. Here’s a few odd facts about the space agency.

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John Oliver: Why do floppy disks control nuclear weapons? – The HBO comedian wonders why the hardware and software guarding the United States’ nuclear warheads are so out of date.

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Something to think about:

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”

–     George Bernard Shaw

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Undelete – The Glary Undelete application was designed to be an easy-to-use yet powerful file undelete solution for FAT and NTFS file systems. It will bring back files emptied from the Recycle Bin, in a DOS window, from Windows Explorer with the SHIFT key held down. It will even recover files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses!

Glary Undelete supports all Windows file systems for hard and floppy drives including FAT12/16/32,NTFS/NTFS5 and image recovery from CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia and Secure Digital cards.

· Supports FAT, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, NTFS5 , NTFS + EFS file systems

· Supports recovery of compressed, fragmented and encrypted files on NTFS

· Supports Basic and Dynamic Volumes

· Undelete files on removable devices (SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MemoryStick, etc.)

· Filter by file name, file date, size, recovery state

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CCleaner for Android – The ultimate cleaning app for your Android device! CCleaner optimizes your Android in seconds.

Speed up your phone – In a single click, safely remove the junk that accumulates on your phone, slowing it down. CCleaner can delete application cache, browser history, clipboard content, old call logs and more.

Reclaim storage space – CCleaner allows you to quickly and easily remove installed applications on your device freeing up valuable storage space.

Easy to use – Like CCleaner, the world’s favorite PC optimization tool, CCleaner for Android comes with a simple and intuitive UI so anyone can optimize their Android device in just a few clicks.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Top Journalists and Lawyers: NSA Surveillance Threatens Press Freedom and Right to Counsel – To do their jobs properly, journalists and lawyers sometimes need to be able to keep information private from the government.

And because what journalists and lawyers do is so integral to safeguarding democracy and basic rights, the United States has traditionally recognized their need for privileged communications.

But the virtually inescapable government surveillance exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has impaired if not eliminated the ability of news-gatherers and attorneys to communicate confidentially with their sources and their clients, according to a new report by two rights advocacy groups.

The report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union is based on an exhaustive new survey of journalists and lawyers working in the areas of national security and intelligence. Both groups of professionals describe a substantial erosion in their ability to do their constitutionally-protected jobs.

Not even the strongest versions of NSA reform being considered in Congress come anywhere close to addressing the chilling effects on basic freedoms that the new survey describes.

“If the US fails to address these concerns promptly and effectively,” report author  G. Alex Sinha writes, “it could do serious, long-term damage to the fabric of democracy in the country.”

Even before the Snowden revelations, reporters trying to cover important defense, intelligence and counter-terrorism issues were reeling from the effects of unprecedented secrecy and attacks on whistleblowers.

But newfound awareness of the numerous ways the government can follow electronic trails –  previously considered the stuff of paranoid fantasy — has led sources to grow considerably more fearful.

Senate Expected To Unveil Broad NSA Reform Bill Tomorrow – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is expected to introduce a version of the USA FREEDOM Act (UFA) tomorrow that is far stronger than what the enfeebled House of Representatives managed to pass earlier this year.

According to the New York Times, the bill not only curtails the bulk surveillance of American’s call metadata — the first NSA program detailed by the Edward Snowden leaks — but would also reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to include an opposition voice to the government’s arguments, and force some form of public disclosure of information regarding the court’s decisions.

It also contracts the terms that the government could use to request call metadata from telephone companies.

Given the Times’ summary, it doesn’t appear that the bill would close so-called “backdoor” searches of Americans’ communications. Backdoor searches have come under withering scrutiny due to the use of such techniques by several United States intelligence agencies.

The full text will be the real test, of course, but it does seem that what Leahy has put together is stronger than the bill that the house passed. That bill was infamously shoved through in a hurry, after being so weakened that around half of its original co-sponsors voted against it. What the House passed cannot be called reform.

Unexpected Microsoft Probe Highlights China’s Distrust of U.S. Tech – Officials from China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) visited offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, according to Sina, a Chinese online media company. Microsoft China, which has three major locations in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, has since confirmed the visits, providing no further details, adding that the company would “actively cooperate” with the government’s requests.

The visits reportedly lasted from morning until 6 p.m., and resulted in computers and hard drives being taken away, according to several Chinese news outlets. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the visits were likely preliminary stages of an antitrust investigation, while Microsoft China has reportedly confirmed to the Beijing News that it is, in fact, what the SAIC calls “unfair business.”

Chinese IT analysts believe that suspicions of a Microsoft monopoly are relegated to the operating system market alone. One well-known Chinese IT lawyer told media outlets that it’s likely Microsoft is being accused of using its broad market share to unfairly bundle in other products, like Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011.

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