Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 31, 2014

How anyone can hack your Instagram account;  How to blanket your home or small office with Wi-Fi;  9 things you should know about surge protectors;  Evernote: 6 advanced search tips;  FreedomPop’s free data and voice comes to tablets;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands; Popcorn Time refuses to quit, adds AirPlay support;  10 reasons to try Zorin OS 9, the Linux OS that looks like Windows;  For $99, you can now get a quad-core 3G Windows 8.1 tablet;  LibreOffice 4.3: The best open-source office suite gets better;  Zero-day flaws found in Symantec’s Endpoint Protection;  Revolution 60: A game by and about badass women; The NSA’s Patents, in One Searchable Database;  Turkish Women Can’t Stop Laughing at Minister’s Advice to Stop Laughing;  Watch teaser for ‘Family Guy’-‘The Simpsons’ crossover episode.

How to blanket your home or small office with Wi-Fi – When your computer was locked down in one spot, it wasn’t a big deal if your Wi-Fi router couldn’t reach every corner of your home. But you can’t move your TV into the den just to get reception. And you shouldn’t have to limit where you can wander inside—or even outside—your house with your laptop, smartphone, or tablet and still be able to reach the Internet. Those Wi-Fi deadspots have got to go. Lucky for you, we have 10 great tips for blanketing your entire home with Wi-Fi.

FreedomPop’s free data and voice service comes to tablets – If you live in an area where FreedomPop offers service, you can now get the company’s (mostly) free data and voice service on your own Sprint-compatible LTE tablet, or purchase one from the company. Previously, FreedomPop’s free plans were only available on smartphones.

64-bit Google Chrome browser moves into beta – Google’s 64-bit Chrome browser took the last step before being formally released, as Google published a 64-bit beta of the browser on Wednesday morning. If you’d like, you can visit Google’s 64-bit Chrome beta page and download the new browser; Google promises that all of your saved information (passwords, bookmarks and the like) will migrate over.

9 things you should know about surge protectors – Surge protectors are an inexpensive way to protect your gear against random power spike damage. They’re not all the same. Here are a few tips before you start shopping.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to find anything in Evernote: 6 advanced search tips – When it comes to taking notes, you can’t beat Evernote. With its mobile apps and browser plug-ins, it’s incredibly easy to take any article, image, or other data and add it to your personal collection. It’s so easy, in fact, that it often takes less time to add a note than to decide whether you really need it. Before you know it, you’ve got way more info than you know what to do with. So what are you supposed to do when it comes time to find one of your notes?

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands.

Popcorn Time refuses to quit, adds AirPlay support – A service that is being called “Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare” is back with another update and its biting back at the powers that be. It has added support for Apple’s AirPlay streaming protocol so that not only will users be able to watch streaming torrents on their iOS devices, they can also redirect those to, say, an Apple TV for the ultimate viewing experience. That Popcorn Time continues to operate today is quite an interesting, if not miraculous, situation.


Maingear Spark goes ultra-small for Windows, Linux, or SteamOS – This week one of the most prolific makers of custom gaming PCs, Maingear, has let loose the Spark. This device weighs less than a pound and is 2.34 inches tall, 4.23 inches deep, and 4.5 inches wide. That’s a palm-sized high-powered PC. Inside this PC you’ll find a 4-core AMD A8-5557M APU with a Frequency of 2.1GHz and a Turbo Frequency” of 3.1GHz. You’ll also find a AMD Radeon R9 M275X GDDR5 2GB discrete graphics card with DirectX 11 action – and pre-preparation in place for DirectX 12. This device will be available starting this week for $699 USD WITHOUT the OS and WITH four free games from AMD’s Reward program.


For $99, you can now get a quad-core 3G Windows 8.1 tablet – Since Microsoft announced its decision to waive its OS licensing fees on phones and small tablets, many more companies have chosen to dip their toes into the Windows waters, and the latest to do so is China’s Kingsing. The company already sells a range of affordable Android handsets, but it has now shown off its first Windows tablet, the W8, which will go on sale for just $99, as GizmoChina reports. The W8 has specs appropriate to its low cost. That means you’ll get a quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Bay Trail-T processor and 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB of onboard storage and an SD card slot. You’ll also find an 8-inch IPS LCD screen with 1280x800px resolution, and there are front and rear 2MP cameras too, as well as stereo speakers.


BitTorrent launches decentralised crypto-fied chat app – BitTorrent has joined the increasingly crowded post-Snowden market for anonymous online chat services with “Bleep”, a decentralised voice and text communications platform. The platform uses the BitTorrent network to spread users’ voice and text through nodes rather than a centralised server.


Great replacements for your default iOS Weather, Notes, and Calculator apps – There’s nothing wrong with the built-in iOS versions of Weather, Notes, and Calculator, but if you’re looking for more features, then here are some great replacements.

Tablets “crashing” warns Best Buy chief – Tablet sales “are crashing” Best Buy’s CEO has warned, describing a resurgence in laptops he ascribes to users stumbling across the limits of the “post-PC” revolution. The ominous news comes on the heels of Apple recording a drop in iPad sales in the most recent quarter, while tablet demand as a whole has dropped across the industry. According to the retail chief Hubert Joly, that’s a problem the tablet makers still haven’t addressed.

FCC chair accuses Verizon of throttling unlimited data to boost profits – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is not happy about Verizon Wireless’ announcement that it will throttle 4G users with unlimited data plans. While he didn’t go quite so far as to accuse Verizon of breaking FCC rules, he told the company that it needs to justify its policy. Verizon’s plan to slow down its heaviest data users when they connect to congested cell sites isn’t surprising—other carriers do it too. But Verizon said it would only apply the policy to users who are no longer under contract and still have grandfathered unlimited data. In other words, the policy may help Verizon push customers onto newer, pricier plans with limited data and overage charges.

Cortana comes to the UK and China; coming to India, Australia and Canada as ‘alpha’ release – Microsoft has launched Cortana in the UK with more localized content and a British accent, and in China with a whole new look – and will be available in India, Australia and Canada as an ‘alpha’

10 reasons to try Zorin OS 9, the Linux OS that looks like Windows – Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed especially for newcomers to Linux. With a Windows-like interface and many programs similar to those found in Microsoft’s proprietary OS, it aims to make it easy for Windows users to get the most out of Linux. Zorin OS 9 just made its debut with a familiar, Windows 7-like interface by default. In the wake of XP’s demise, there may be no better time to check it out. Zorin OS 9’s free and premium editions are now available in 32- and 64-bit versions for download from the project website.


LibreOffice 4.3: The best open-source office suite gets better – Ever since LibreOffice split off from the troubled OpenOffice in 2010, this open-source office suite has gotten better and better. With this new release from The Document Foundation, LibreOffice 4.3 has established itself as the best non-Microsoft office suite. The new LibreOffice 4.3 brings many new useful improvements and features to the program.


My favorite new LibreOffice feature: The ability to import and export comments across different document formats, and thus, office suites.


Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS – The Tor Project has warned users about a subtle attack aimed at partially uncloaking their activities on the anonymising network. The Tor Project has removed the attacking relays from its network as well as pushing out software node and client updates to prevent the same type of attack from happening again. A lot of questions remain unanswered for now, but the developers behind the anonymisation network have at least been able to put together a broad overview of what seems to have happened, as explained in an advisory (extract below).

Zero-day flaws found in Symantec’s Endpoint Protection – Symantec’s Endpoint Protection product has three zero-day flaws that could allow a logged-in user to move to a higher access level on a computer, according to a penetration testing and training company. The three flaws, all known as privilege escalation vulnerabilities, were found during a security test of a financial services company, said Mati Aharoni, lead trainer and developer for Offensive Security, in a phone interview late Tuesday.

Facebook “Enter Details Here to Enable Your Account” – We at Malwarebytes do our best to keep you, dear Reader, apprised with the latest threats we encounter that target Facebook users. As you may know, Facebook is one of the few prime targets of online crime, particularly fraud. Here’s one in-the-wild phishing campaign that we spotted homing in on users.


Attackers use domino effect to compromise your accounts – The two-factor authentication used to “protect” your accounts is often insecure itself and poses a weak link that can be exploited by attackers.

How anyone can hack your Instagram account – Should you write instructions that tell everyone how to hack Instagram accounts, including advice like “wait for someone to use the Instagram iOS app”? This security researcher did, after he was denied a bug bounty for reporting the problem.


Company News:

The One-Horse Race: 85% Of The 300M Smartphones Shipped In Q2 Were Android – Another milestone for Google’s Android in its unstoppable march to mobile dominance: the operating system accounted for 85% of all smartphones shipped in Q2 — its highest ever proportion, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics. Google’s win comes at a loss for everyone else, and interestingly for the smartphone market overall. Apple, Windows Phone and BlackBerry all declined, and while there were nearly 300 million (295.2 million, to be exact) smartphone units shipped for sale in the quarter, smartphone growth has nearly halved compared to a year ago.

Samsung sees profits slip in Q2 as demand for smartphones stagnates – Samsung released its Q2 financial statements in South Korea on Thursday, and while the company turned a net profit to the tune of 6.25 trillion Korean won ($6.1 billion), that number represented a decline of 19.6 percent from a year earlier.

Crytek USA staff reportedly quit over lack of pay – Crytek USA’s CEO and others quit last week over lack of pay, according to sources that are said to be familiar with what went down. This follows Crytek’s downsizing that took place recently at the studio in Texas, and is said to have resulted after weeks of salary payments being made late.

Facebook To Shutter Gifts Feature in August – Less than two years after launching a virtual marketplace through which you can send real gifts to family and friends, Facebook announced plans to close down the service. Specifics have not been revealed, but the social network posted the news to its Facebook Cards and Gift Basics FAQ page.

Twitter acquires image search firm Madbits – Madbits, a year-old company that uses deep learning technology to assign relevant information to raw images, has sold itself to Twitter, according to the Madbits website. Image search is its main interest and Madbits aims to create intelligent, dynamic image sets to automatically organize large databases of images, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile.

Amazon Investing Another $2 Billion in India: Amazon CEO says he has “never seen” a market grow quite this fast – Amazon plans to invest an additional $2 billion in its India operations, the company announced Wednesday, in an attempt to grab a growing slice of the country’s online retail market.

Intuit to acquire India-based KDK Softwares – Financial services giant Intuit announced plans to acquire the Indian accounting software firm KDK Softwares in a bid to strengthen its customer footprint in the country. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. The acquisition marks Intuits first in India, as well as its push into the tax computation and e-filing category in the country.

Games and Entertainment:

PlayStation Now Open Beta arrives tomorrow for PS4 – After a long wait, PlayStation Now Open Beta will be arriving for all PlayStation 4 owners in both the United States and Canada starting tomorrow. Thus far, PS Now has been in a private beta that some lucky gamers have had access to, but that’ll all change tomorrow when Sony removes the shackles and begins seeking mass feedback on the offering.


Revolution 60: A game by and about badass women – “If girls don’t like the way games are made,” runs the popular internet adage, “Why don’t they just make their own?” Enter Giant Spacekat, an indie studio who is doing just that. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year — bringing in $12,728 of its $5,000 goal — the team has just released its first game: Revolution 60 for iPad, described as “Heavy Rain meets Mass Effect” in a stunning 1960s retrofuturistic aesthetic, inspired by Space Channel 5.


Sky launches NOW TV app for Xbox One – Microsoft has been working to improve its Xbox One ever since its launch, and the company recently reaffirmed its commitment to monthly updates to keep adding new features and enhancements to the console. The company’s third-party content partners have also been doing their bit to make the device more compelling, and the latest addition comes from Sky in the UK. Sky has announced the launch of its NOW TV app for the Xbox One, bringing some of its best movies, sports and entertainment content to the platform. The service is now available on over 50 devices, including Sony’s PlayStation 4.


Logitech Announces ‘World’s Fastest’ Gaming Mouse – Heads up, first-person shooter fans. Logitech on Wednesday unveiled a new mouse that promises to track just as fast as you can move and click—with no more annoying lagging. Billed as the “fastest gaming mouse ever made,” the G402 Hyperion Fury does indeed boast some pretty impressive specs, like the “Fusion Engine” and eight programmable buttons. The Fusion Engine combines “state-of-the-art optical sensor technology with an accelerometer and gyroscope” to reliably track more than 500 inches per second, Logitech said.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch teaser for ‘Family Guy’-‘The Simpsons’ crossover episode – Check out this nearly-five-minute preview of the upcoming episode where Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson finally meet.


Senate blasts mobile carriers for profiting from phony fees – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all allegedly “crammed” customers with third-party charges that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Senate report says.

Hypercolour ice cream changes hue as you lick – Hypercolour t-shirts came and went, but hypercolour ice cream might be something we could get our tongues behind. Everlasting Gobstopper this ain’t: rather than layers of colour that are revealed as you lick the surface, it’s the ice cream itself that changes colour.


Woman files $123M suit against Facebook over photoshopped nude photos – Houston woman Meryem Ali has filed a $123-million lawsuit against both Facebook and a former friend who posted a picture of her on an “imposter” Facebook profile under her name, according to Texas Lawyer. Photographs “that depict the true face of plaintiff” were altered with Photoshop and “attached to false, phony, naked body shots, and at least one pose where there is plaintiff in a graphic pornographic-like photo,” states the complaint, which was filed on July 25 in Harris County.

Can real-time labor analytics save U.S. standard of living? – The U.S. is facing a dim future with its aging population, lower workforce participation and declining productivity. Accenture argues that real-time labor analytics could be a fix.

Something to think about:

“How can we tell a necessary from an unnecessary war? It’s not easy, but here’s one test. If they say you should fight to make the world a better place, decline. If they say you should fight to prevent the world from becoming worse, consider it.”

–      George Jonas

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If you’re unfamiliar with a layered security approach – take a peek at – Tips On A Layered Security Approach To Internet Safety – September 11, 2010.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA’s Patents, in One Searchable Database – What do a voice identifier, an automated translator, a “tamper-indicating” document tube, and a supersecure manhole cover have in common? They’re all technologies for which the secretive National Security Agency (NSA) has been granted patents by the U.S. government, giving the agency the exclusive rights to its inventions.

The four technologies represent a tiny fraction of the more than 270 sleuthy devices, methods, and designs for which the nation’s biggest intelligence agency has been granted a patent since 1979, the earliest year for which public figures are available. As the patent holder, the NSA can license the particular technology — for a fee — to anyone who wants to use it, so long as the patent hasn’t expired.

Foreign Policy obtained the NSA’s list of patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can download the entire list here or browse the patents by the dates they were filed. We’ve linked each one to the underlying documents, which include plain-language descriptions, the name of the particular inventor, and in some cases diagrams of the device.

Inside Citizen Lab, the “Hacker Hothouse” protecting you from Big Brother – It was May of 2012 at a security conference in Calgary, Alberta, when professor Ron Deibert heard a former high-ranking official suggest he should be prosecuted.

This wasn’t too surprising. In Deibert’s world, these kinds of things occasionally get whispered through the grapevine, always second-hand. But this time he was sitting on a panel with John Adams, the former chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the National Security Agency’s little-known northern ally. Afterward, he recalls, the former spy chief approached and casually remarked that there were people in government who wanted Deibert arrested—and that he was one of them.

Adams was referring to Citizen Lab, the watchdog group Deibert founded over a decade ago at the University of Toronto that’s now orbited by a globe-spanning network of hackers, lawyers, and human rights advocates. From exposing the espionage ring that hacked the Dalai Lama to uncovering the commercial spyware being sold to repressive regimes, Citizen Lab has played a pioneering role in combing the Internet to illuminate covert landscapes of global surveillance and censorship. At the same time, it’s also taken the role of an ambassador, connecting the Internet’s various stakeholders from governments to security engineers and civil rights activists.

“When it comes to Citizen Lab, what you have is methodical, careful, but passionate people,” says Gus Hosein, the director of the UK-based Privacy International and a longtime acquaintance of Deibert’s. “That is what I wish every academic research institution was, but clearly they’ve been allowed a degree of freedom that others in academia aren’t given.”

Citizen Lab first made waves in 2009 with “Tracking GhostNet,” a report which exposed a vast electronic spying network that had compromised more than 1,200 computers in 103 countries, ensnaring Tibetan activists, embassies, media outlets, and many others. But it was the boldness of the research—which involved gaining control of an unsecured malware server off the coast of China—that seemed to take the government by surprise. While Citizen Lab only scanned unsecured, public-facing systems, the powers that be apparently thought what they were doing was illegal.

“It’s a bit freaky to hear that,” Deibert said when he recalled the Calgary encounter in an interview with Ars. “When people ask, ‘are you worried about the Chinese or some other adversary out there,’ I say I’m always a bit more worried about my own government, because this is the kind of thing I hear occasionally.”

British Lords: Euro ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling ‘unreasonable and unworkable’ – Peers sitting in the upper house of the British parliament have branded Europe’s court decision on killing links on search indexes – controversially dubbed the “right to be forgotten” ruling – “unworkable, unreasonable and wrong in principle”.

The EU subcommittee on Home Affairs, Health and Education said in a report that the Court of Justice’s (CJEU) ruling, which forces search engines like Google to remove certain links to personal information from search results when requested, just wasn’t working.

The peers said that the requirement itself was unfeasible and the directive it was based on was too old to be meaningful anyway.

“Although this was a short inquiry, it is crystal clear that the neither the 1995 Directive, nor the CJEU’s interpretation of it reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted,” said Baroness Prashar, chair of the subcommittee.

“Anyone anywhere in the world now has information at the touch of a button, and that includes detailed personal information about people in all countries of the globe.”

The government officials argued that the search index ruling was impossible to enforce for smaller search engines that don’t have the resources of an ad behemoth like Google to process thousands of takedown requests.

The peer group issued its report after hearing evidence from data protection experts, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the minister for justice and civil liberties Simon Hughes, and Google itself.

(The House of LORDS – parasitic twits by birthright – would hardly know what’s appropriate for the “common” man.)

Turkish Women Can’t Stop Laughing at Minister’s Advice to Stop Laughing – Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc did not intend his Monday speech on “moral corruption” to get big laughs, but when he advised women to suppress their laughter in public, it landed on the public like a well-crafted punch line.

Women in Turkey have since tweeted pictures of their reactions, ranging from grins … to guffaws.

Over the past three days, hundreds of thousands of people have tweeted under the hashtag #kahkaha, the Turkish word for laughter. Sadly, the Deputy Prime Minister wasn’t joking.

(The nasty shit directed towards women never stops with these Muslim extremist morons.)


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

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 31, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    Inside Citizen Lab, the “Hacker Hothouse” protecting you from Big Brother
    “From exposing the espionage ring that hacked the Dalai Lama”
    The Dalai Lama!!!!!!!!! He is a RARE man, truly one of the VERY few I admire. I know when he gave a speech at a University in Washington DC, he had a cold and wasn’t feeling very good, and the Graduate and undergraduate Chinese nationals, kept disrupting his speech. Now I know they’ve gone even further. They FEAR this man, why? Because he is an honorable man, just, kind, good and peaceful. As Joseph Campbell said he NEVER, despite ALL that that the Chinese communists did to the Tibetan people and faith, he never heard the Dalia Lama say ONE BAD THING about the Chinese. I can’t begin to tell you how much this man has encouraged me also to stand up for truth and justice. A remarkable human being. And this is how they treat him.
    Glad you keep updating us with the FIGHTING BACK section. And cheers to that fellow Ron Deibert, another decent chap.
    No matter what government it is, US, Canada, they all seem to me, to be NOT AS PRESENTED, these are VERY SERIOUS threats to our freedoms.

    • Hi Fred,

      It seems all governments are singing from the same hymnbook – The Fascist Guide to Perfect Population Control – if I’m not mistaken. 🙂 Since we the people, are here for the long term – and, elected governments are not (nor are totalitarian governments, for that matter), the tide will eventually turn. History will take note of those who attempted to restructure freedom to reflect an ideological image.

      It’s unfortunate that there are those who will not/cannot separate the Dalai Lama from politics and instead, see the “remarkable human being” as you have done. He continues to be a victim of the “spin cycle” employed for political advantage. Sad.

      Have a great weekend. 🙂



  2. Tyler

    hello mr. mullins i am having a problem i have the fbi moneypak scam and its on my smart stick equisio need it removed pls help…


    Dear Bill–your  reply  to fred was  precisely  how  I  also view Fascistic governments  vs  freedoms–100 percent my  actual life-long perspective—excellent reply  from You.