Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2014

The first five apps to install on your new Android device;  6 powerful Google Drive features you’re probably not using;  Here come the cheap devices, Archos introduces $149 Windows 8.1 tablet;  5 reasons a small Windows tablet might be in your future;  Contact Center is speed dial on steroids for iPhone users;  4 steps to a better LinkedIn profile;  Microsoft updates OneDrive apps, everyone is getting new features;  In App takes search deep within your phone’s apps;  Six tips for great summer photos;  Convincing YouTube look-alike fires RIG Exploit Kit;  Google Challenges Amazon For Drone Supremacy; Xbox One September Update now rolling out;  Massive cyber attack on oil and energy industry in Norway;  Feds balk at court’s order to explain no-fly list selection process;  You Can Now Buy a GoPro Camera Harness For Your Dog.

The first five apps to install on your new Android device – You finally purchased that new Android device you’ve had your eye on. Now it stares back at you, waiting for you to give it a task. Where do you go from here? Naturally, that depends upon the intended use of the device. But certain applications will come in handy no matter how you plan to use the device. Here are five tools that should be among the first you install. These applications range in scope, but each offers a solid solution to help you get your work done.

6 powerful Google Drive features you’re probably not using – Google Drive apps are loved for their simplicity and ease of use, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a whole lot of power locked up in these web apps. And while we’d never put the suite on a par with Microsoft Office, there are some impressive features in Docs, Sheets, and Slides that you’ve likely overlooked. We’ve highlighted some of the newest features and hidden gems that can help save you time and anguish and create documents that are sure to impress your professors, colleagues, and most importantly, your boss.

4 steps to a better LinkedIn profile – One of the most important things to remember about LinkedIn is that it’s not strictly a resume. Like Facebook or Twitter, it’s a social profile that has to be maintained. If you’re looking to step up your LinkedIn game, here are four tips for improving your page.

Facebook tries to quell Messenger rumors – Facebook is going on the offensive, trying to do damage control for its Messenger app. The social network is responding to a firestorm of user anger that erupted when it appeared that Facebook was forcing people to load its Messenger app in a veiled attempt to usurp their privacy. Now Facebook is trying to set the record straight.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Contact Center is speed dial on steroids for iPhone users – For iPhone owners in constant communication with their family or coworkers, Contact Center could help speed up some common tasks.


Annotate Gmail attachments with Chrome extension – If your workflow involves sending loads of email attachments back and forth, the aptly titled Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension for Chrome can help streamline your operation. After installing the extension and restarting Chrome, the next time you mouse over an attachment in Gmail, you’ll see a button has been added next to the Download and Save to Drive buttons. It opens the attachment via the Annotate Attachments in Gmail extension, which lets you annotate and add comments to the file. The extension supports images and PDF, DOC, XLS, and PPT formats.


Matt Elliott/CNET

Here come the cheap devices, Archos introduces $149 Windows 8.1 tablet – When Microsoft announced that Windows would be free on devices smaller than 9 inches, it was only a matter of time before entry level competitors started putting their OS on cheap tablets.


5 reasons a small Windows tablet might be in your future – There are a number of smaller Windows tablets hitting the shelves now from Microsoft OEM partners and more on the horizon. At face value it seems like a late attempt by the Windows ecosystem to get in on the mobile device game. The reality, though, is that Microsoft can still capture a respectable—possibly dominant—stake of the tablet market. I can hear the uproar already, but let’s look at why that might not be so crazy. Here are five reasons a small Windows tablet makes sense, and why you might find yourself owning one very soon.

Microsoft updates OneDrive apps, everyone is getting new features – Microsoft has updated nearly all of its OneDrive apps and depending on the platform that you use, there are OS specific updates that are rolling out now.

Dominate your fantasy football league with these 6 apps – From maximizing the draft to scoping out sleepers and making weekly adjustments, these apps will help you crush your friends this season.

You Can Now Buy a GoPro Camera Harness For Your Dog – GoPro, which makes tiny cameras popular with adventurers and travelers, has launched a new camera mount for dogs called Fetch. The dog harness is adjustable to accommodate dogs of all sizes, and GoPro cameras can be attached in two different locations: on the dog’s back and underneath its chest. With Fetch, you can watch your dog chew its bone close-up or frolic through a dog park.


Minuum Previews Its Size-Shifting Virtual Keyboard For iOS 8 – Toronto startup Minuum is readying its iOS 8 custom keyboard software, now that Apple has made it possible for developers to create that kind of app. The system-wide Minuum virtual keyboard is nearing completion, just in time for the launch of iOS 8 in September, and its developers are looking for those eager to be among the first to try out the software.

In App takes search deep within your phone’s apps – When you’re searching on your smartphone, one of the avenues search often doesn’t look into is apps. Not searching for apps, but in them. A new iOS app is doing just that, diving into the information we store in our apps to make sense of it all.


How to set up Raspberry Pi, the little computer you can cook into DIY tech projects – The tiny $35 Raspberry Pi computer doesn’t come from a bakery, but it can power your robot army or other DIY electronics project. Here’s how to install Raspbian and get cooking with Pi.


Six tips for great summer photos – Summer is the perfect time for capturing memories on camera. Here are some quick tips designed for beginner photographers to get the most out of holiday photos.



Convincing YouTube look-alike fires RIG Exploit Kit – The lure of salacious videos is often used to trick people into downloading and running malware. As you will see in this example, the bad guys went through enough trouble to make the page look real, from picking a similar URL to creating a convincing error message.


(This security risk illustrates perfectly why you should not download any extension/add-on/codec……..  from a site other than the author/developer’s site. Never deviate from this practice.)

JPMorgan hackers altered, deleted bank records, says report – The scope of yesterday’s computer attack against JPMorgan Chase and at least one other bank appears to be much larger than initially reported. In addition to possibly affecting seven financial organizations, instead of two as originally reported, some bank records at JPMorgan were altered and possibly deleted, reported CNN, citing unnamed sources. The source of the attacks is not yet known.

Mozilla accidentally left email addresses, passwords of 97k Bugzilla users out in the open – Email addresses and encrypted passwords of around 97,000 users who tested early builds of the Bugzilla bug tracking software were left exposed for three months following a server migration. This is the second accidental data disclosure incident reported this month that affects one of the projects supported by the Mozilla Foundation.

Massive cyber attack on oil and energy industry in Norway – Image of oil platform courtesy of ShutterstockAs many as 300 oil and energy companies have been targeted by hackers in the largest ever coordinated cyber attack in Norway. The Local reports that 50 companies in the oil sector have already been breached while another 250 are at risk.

Company News:

Google Challenges Amazon For Drone Supremacy – Need a tube of toothpaste, but don’t want to wait? Google wants to drone that to you, the Mountain View-based technology giant announced today. Google follows Amazon in announcing that it is building consumer delivery-facing drone technology. Amazon previously disclosed that it is working to build drones that can deliver small parcels to shoppers. The two companies have differing visions, however. Google’s plan appears slanted towards incredibly quick delivery, perhaps in as little as two minutes, a long profile in The Atlantic indicated. Amazon, instead, is focusing on a timeframe closer to thirty minutes.

Apple Sends Invites for Sept. 9 Event – Apple is widely expected to launch its next-gen iPhones next month. Rumor has it that Cupertino will release a 4.7-inch iPhone, as well as a 5.5-inch phablet for the first time. Though Apple chief Tim Cook has expressed doubts about phablets in the past, there’s no question that phones with larger screens are all the rage at the moment. In some cases, they have eaten into small tablet market share as consumers look to save money and purchase just one device. Whether Apple is finally ready to increase its phone sizes from 3.5 and 4 inches to 4.7 and 5.5 inches will be revealed on Sept. 9.


Valve hit with legal action in Australia over misleading consumers – Valve, the owner of online gaming platform Steam, is facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia for misleading Australian customers over refunds, warranties and consumer guarantees. The action relates to Valve’s alleged contravention of the Australian Consumer Law — a range of protections that govern consumer contracts, rights when buying goods and services, and product safety.

Uber expands: “55% of US population” now covered – This week the folks at Uber have suggested that their vision of “UberEverywhere” is coming to fruition. With the addition of 24 new cities with Uber coverage, the company now has service in 205 cities across 45 countries. Uber also suggests that they cover 55% of the United States population.

Nadella plans China trip amid antitrust probe — report – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will visit China next month, according to a report. Nadella, who took over as Microsoft’s chief executive from Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will visit China in late September, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed person who claims to have knowledge of Nadella’s plans. While it’s not clear whether the reason for his trip is China’s ongoing antitrust probe, it’s a possibility.

Deutsche Telekom could part with T-Mobile for $35 a share – Deutsche Telekom, the majority owner of T-Mobile, wants to unload its stake in the US wireless carrier. But only at the right price. The German carrier is willing to negotiate for the sale of T-Mobile if a bid values the company at $35 per share or more, Bloomberg said Thursday, citing unnamed sources. That price isn’t substantially higher than last month’s offer from French telecom company Iliad to buy a majority stake at $33 a share, which T-Mobile rejected.

Games and Entertainment:

Miegakure lets you use the 4th dimension to solve puzzles – Miegakure isn’t your normal platformer. It’s been in development since at least 2009 — but, when you think about the concept behind it, well, it’s not very hard to see why. The game is about folding dimensional space, slipping between two, three, and four dimensions to circumnavigate obstacles. If you’re feeling a bit confused as to how it all works, developer Marc ten Bosch has created a trailer to explain how slipping into the fourth dimension will enable you to walk “through” walls. Although you don’t actually walk “through” them; when you change dimensions, space itself changes, and the walls change too — giving you options that simply weren’t available before.


GOG news flash: DRM-free movies, local prices, removing games – Good Old Games has just let out a flood of announcements that changes the face of the video game distribution service, both literally and figuratively. Starting today, GOG will be selling games in four new currencies that players can choose, plus a rather enticing offer when US dollar and local prices don’t match. And quite interestingly, GOG is going beyond selling just games, as it now has a few videos in its catalog. All DRM-Free, of course.


NFL Sunday Ticket Service Now Available For Windows Phone and Xbox One Users – Microsoft adds the NFL Sunday Ticket service to their Windows Phone 8 and Xbox One platforms. The new service offers live and on-demand services for all 32 NFL teams in addition to other features.

Capcom shows us how good Resident Evil remastered looks – Earlier this month Capcom announced that it had decided to remaster the original Resident Evil game first released in 1996. This update on a classic will be re-released on modern hardware, including the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC. Some may view it as a grab for cash, but the original game is now 18 years old, meaning there’s a lot of gamers out there who’ve never experienced Capcom’s survival horror. Now they can, and with a number of much needed enhancements. So how good will this game look when it is released next year? Capcom is keen to show us and has released a bunch of comparison screenshots.


Xbox One September Update now rolling out, including new Media Player – Microsoft’s Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb has said that the September Update for the Xbox One is now rolling out, including features such as a new Media Player app, and the ability to boot directly to TV.

ALONE… for iOS and Android Is an Endless Runner You Might Actually Want to Play – Think the endless runner genre of mobile gaming has been done to death? Clearly you have not picked up ALONE, the newest title from developer Laser Dog. Just like Laser Dog’s last game, Puk, ALONE is fast-paced and seriously challenging. There are also no in-app purchases.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Microsoft’s latest patch: What went wrong? – Buggy updates are certainly a problem, but the company’s poor communication is an even bigger cause for concern.

Texas ‘Gaming Academy’ Teaches Gamers to Lead – The first students arrived at the University of Texas at Austin this week to study with veteran game developer Warren Spector in a bid to become the next generation of industry leaders. The Academy promises to give students the ability to deal with the real world challenge of running big teams – maintaining communication, staying organized, keeping the creative vision at the fore – from initial concept to post-ship support, and handling the inevitable crises along the way. Spector also wants to get philosophical, encouraging students to think about games as part of popular culture, and where they might be going next as a commercially driven art form.

Did you know Google’s self-driving cars can’t handle 99% of roads in the US? – Many people have heard that Google’s autonomous cars can “drive anywhere a car can legally drive,” but it can’t drive in snow, heavy rains, see “unmapped” traffic lights or stop signs. In other words, Google’s self-driving cars can handle the “matrix” but it can’t navigate on 99% of the roads in the U.S.

3D-printed vertebra successfully implanted for the first time – Spinal injuries are often life-changing, and the solutions are decidedly archaic, sometimes involving surgical cement and screws. The future is finally upon us, however, and with it comes the first implanted 3D printed vertebra. Using 3D printing, the vertebra is designed to match the patient’s spine.


Radley Balko on the militarization of America’s police force – On August 9th, 2014 a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The death of Brown fueled days of unrest in Ferguson. Protestors took to the streets and were met with heavily armed police officers in armored vehicles. It wasn’t long before Ferguson, a town of 21,000, resembled a war zone. This week’s VICE Meets is a conversation about the militarization of America’s police force, with journalist and author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko.


Something to think about:

“I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.”

–       John Wayne

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ratool (Removable Access Tool) – Removable Access tool is a very simple-to-use portable application that helps an individual or a system administrator control USB storage devices. You can protect your confidential data from being copied by others.

Ratool can disable USB storage access or enable write protection on all USB Flash drives thus prevent data from being modified or deleted.

There are a lot of such tools available on the internet but they are not effective, for example if you use a USB disabler and disable any USB storage/pendrive you can use another tool and enable it again easily, meaning; they actually do not protect your USB ports. If you use Ratool you don’t have to worry about such a situation because other tools can not easily break Ratool’s protection.


Sandboxie 4.13.3 Beta – Run programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

Sandboxie requires neither the disabling nor blocking of functions available to Web sites through the browser. Instead, Sandboxie isolates and quarantines the outcome of whatever the Web site may do to your computer, including the installation of unsolicited software. There is no trade-off of functionality for security: the Web site can use the full range of active content tools, and if it uses these tools maliciously to install software or otherwise make changes in your computer, then these changes can be easily undone.

Sandboxie has originally been designed to increase the security of browsing with Internet Explorer, however it is just as effective with any other browser, and in fact, any other program. Sandboxie wraps a protection layer around the programs it supervises. It is this layer that intercepts and isolates any changes the programs make to the computer. And this layer is impartial to the specific program it wraps.

Sandboxie is a software that allows you isolates and quarantines website.

When you browse the web, changes occur to your computer system. Most of the time these changes are harmless, like recording the addresses of web sites you have visited (and when), so the browser can help you complete a web address that you type in. Whether these changes are harmless or harmful, they do in fact happen to your computer system.

When you use Sandboxie to protect your browsing session, it catches all these changes just as the browser is about to apply them into your computer system. Sandboxie does record these changes on behalf of the browser, but it records them in a special isolated folder, called the sandbox.

The benefit of having a sandbox is that it ensures your ability to get rid of all changes done by the browser, simply by deleting the sandbox folder.

Another useful feature of Sandboxie is the ability to terminate all sandboxed programs at once. As some web sites tend to pop up three new browser windows for each one you close, you can have Sandboxie close all of them with a click of a button.

You may use Sandboxie free of charge for any length of time that you desire. However, if you use Sandboxie for more than 30 days, the software will occasionally remind you to consider paying the registration fee. By doing that, you would show your support for further development and improvement of Sandboxie.

By paying the registration fee of $20 US-dollars you get a life-time registration key to this and and all upcoming versions of the Sandboxie product.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feds balk at court’s order to explain no-fly list selection process: The US shouldn’t place innocent people on the no-fly list, lawyer says – The Obama administration is fighting a federal judge’s order requiring it to explain why the government places US citizens who haven’t been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database.

The administration is challenging the demand from US District Judge Anthony Trenga, who is presiding over the Virginia federal court case. In asking Trenga to reconsider his August 6 order, the government responded last week: “Defendants request clarification of the purpose of the requested submission so that defendants may respond appropriately.”

Trenga’s decision is among a series of setbacks to the government’s insistence that any serious discussion about the no-fly list—about how people get on or off it—would amount to a national security breach.

A federal judge in June, for example, ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s method for the public to challenge placement on a no-fly list is unconstitutional. The government was ordered to revise the removal process, which was called “wholly ineffective.” And just last month, a government manual on how the authorities place people on the no-fly database—being a terrorist not required—was leaked and published by The Intercept.

The manual describes how somebody can get on the list, which names thousands of individuals. The government refused to acknowledge (PDF) that the manual was leaked.

Data retention critics alarmed by Australian federal police breach – Civil rights groups, legal bodies and information security experts have expressed renewed concern about the government’s push to store greater amounts of phone and web users’ personal information following revelations that the federal police mistakenly published sensitive information and metadata about ongoing criminal investigations.

Guardian Australia reported on Thursday that the AFP provided documents to the Senate that were published online for several years, accidentally disclosing information about the subjects and focus of criminal investigations and telecommunications interception activities.

The revelations have sparked concerns from Labor and the Greens about the AFP’s handling of sensitive telecommunications data, while the Australian Lawyers Alliance has warned that criminal investigations and trials may have been jeopardised as a result of the disclosure.

The federal government has ramped up its push for a mandatory data retention scheme, which could see a greater amount of phone and web information stored for two years that would then be subject to access by the AFP and other enforcement agencies.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns told Guardian Australia the error could have serious implications for criminal investigations and trials if juries became aware that information was accessible online about an investigation that could prejudice a trial.

“It can impact on a person’s rights if there’s information that is adverse to them which has been published and which ordinarily wouldn’t be published because it would be highly prejudicial to any criminal investigations that might result,” he said.

He said the mistaken disclosure showed why the government’s proposals were a grave risk for personal privacy.

Must We Give Up All Sense of Privacy? – Privacy is dead, right? I mean, that’s all I’ve been hearing over the last year. From Edward Snowden to repeated hacks to claims that the US federal government is accessing personal information, we have nothing in the way of real privacy. No, according to all of the reports surrounding the Web, security, and privacy, the only thing we have going for us is, well, the realization that we’re not actually anonymous at all – either online or in our lives.

One can say what they’d like about the anti-privacy efforts going on across the world. Some say that when we head to the Web, we should expect to lose all privacy and to believe that we have it is following a fool’s errand. Others, however, argue that anonymity is a right and privacy is an expectation, and we should stop at nothing to get both.

Unfortunately, the pessimist in me believes that there’s really no way to achieve that goal. While I’d like to see the governments around the world spend less time allegedly intruding our privacy, I’m a realist. I understand that we’ve come to a place where we can never go back. Like it or not, our privacy is dead. And to believe it’s not is a mistake.

Hillary Clinton wants a global pact on surveillance and data collection – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a “global compact” on surveillance and the use of collected data, saying the U.S. isn’t the only country that does it and American technology companies are unfairly targeted for the government’s actions.

“The U.S. government doesn’t use information for commercial purposes,” while other countries do, Clinton said.

“We need to make it clear to other countries that our technology companies are not part of our government, and that we have more legal processes than any other country that I’m aware of” covering government requests for information, Clinton said during her appearance at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, a technology conference in San Francisco.

The threat of electronic spying was so great in some countries that when traveling as a U.S. official she couldn’t carry any electronics, she said.

“Every time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane, because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute,” Clinton said. She and her staff removed the batteries and left the devices on their plane.

Though she wants to see an international agreement on the collection and use of data, Clinton acknowledged that would take long and careful effort.

Note: Tech Thoughts Daily Net News will not publish on Labour Day – September 1st.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2014

15 simple, secret Windows tips and tricks designed to save you time;  10 Firefox add-ons for boosting productivity;  Windows XP ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4’ brings updates to Microsoft’s obsolete OS;  Pulled patch from August now back on Windows Update;  5 apps for making friends in a new city;  Twitter Opens Its Nifty Analytics Dashboard To Everyone;  Zotac’s $199 Zbox Pico mini PC fits in your pocket;  12.9-inch iPad expected early next year;  Google goes public with security audits to ease corporate concerns;  Microsoft Rolls Out Surface Pro 3 To 25 New Markets;  30-Second Tech Trick: Write Better Papers with Google Scholar;  PS4’s Free Game PS Plus trailer run-down for September;  Protect your devices with a $10 ‘USB Condom’;  Senator wants all US cops to wear video cameras;  A Gloriously Stupid History of Sex in Video Games. 

15 simple, secret Windows tips and tricks designed to save you time – Nobody wants to waste time endlessly navigating menus. Fear not! Dr. PCWorld has the cure. Take these 15 secret Windows tricks to streamline your computing experience and eradicate little irritations that trip you up throughout the day. You won’t need to call me in the morning.

Windows XP ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4’ brings updates to Microsoft’s obsolete OS – A developer has created a cumulative rollup of updates for Windows XP called ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4’ after Microsoft ended its support for the ageing operating system earlier this year. This is not the first example of the developer community pulling together Microsoft updates into a collective package, and it probably won’t be the last. The lack of Microsoft support for Windows XP means that many users – especially those who cannot afford to buy newer systems – are turning to unofficial sources to get the support that they need to keep their PCs running.

5 apps for making friends in a new city – Making friends is difficult, especially if you’ve just moved to a brand-new city. And you work from home. And you have strange interests. And you sleep unconventional hours. As it turns out, there are several apps for meeting new people and making new friends, whether you’re a newbie in an unfamiliar town or a hermit with no social life. Unfortunately, a lot of these apps don’t actually work.

Microsoft removes 1500 apps from Windows Store, will refund anyone who purchased them – Microsoft has announced their new initiatives to clean up the Windows Store and as part of that process, they have removed 1500 apps that they considered to be misleading.

10 Firefox add-ons for boosting productivity – Distraction is always a click away on the web, but productivity nuts know not to fall prey to the traps. Largely that’s due to a bevy of tech tools that can help keep you on task, while boosting the capabilities of the web browser through some clever engineering. If you’re part of the Firefox faithful, check out these 10 add-ons that can turbo-charge your productivity.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Pulled patch from August now back on Windows Update – Microsoft has fixed and re-released the patch that was pulled from Windows Update after reports of boot issues from users post-installation of the August update earlier in the month.

Zotac’s $199 Zbox Pico mini PC fits in your pocket – Zotac has made some pretty small PCs before, but they’ve gone positively Lilliputian with their latest Zbox model. The Zbox Pico is so small that you can actually unplug it and shove it into your pocket. Volume-wise, this thing’s actually smaller than an Apple TV. It measures just 11.5 x 6.6cm and stands just under 2cm high. There are plenty of external battery packs and portable hard drives with dimensions like those… the difference being, obviously, that the Zbox Pico has a complete x86-compatible PC crammed inside.


Intel creates world’s smallest 3G modem – The modem is called the XMM 6255, and it’s slightly larger than a one cent coin as you can see below. It’s a 3G modem, power amplifier, and transceiver in one tiny package, setup to be used in 3G smartphones and tablets as well as IoT devices. Intel also claims the all-in-one solution is quite resilient, meaning the radio won’t overheat easily or be susceptible to power spikes.


How Many People See Your Tweets? Twitter Opens Its Nifty Analytics Dashboard To Everyone – Back in July, Twitter launched a really nifty analytics dashboard. A bit like Google Analytics for tweets, it allows you to gauge the performance of each and every tweet you sent. How many people saw it? How many of those actually clicked your links? There was one catch, though: it was only open to advertisers and verified users. No longer! Now you too can obsess way too hard over the performance of every tweet you send! Hurray!


SWAT Team Detains Popular Gamer Who Was Live-Streaming ‘Counter-Strike’ – An incredible video showing the apparent swatting of a video game player who operates under the moniker ‘Kootra‘ was published today. Swatting is a prank that involves falsely telling the police of a dangerous situation so that a SWAT — special weapons and tactics (SWAT) — team is deployed in response, erroneously. The police are led to believe that they need to roll out the guns and armor, leaving the intended victim of the prank literally staring down the barrel of the gun. Making the entire situation nearly surreal is the fact that Kootra, whose common name is Jordan Mathewson, was streaming a video game to the Internet when the heavily armed police force entered his location, and detained him.


12.9-inch iPad expected early next year – Earlier this year, Tim Cook told members of the press that he does about 80% of his work on an iPad. If that’s true, then he’s probably going to get a bit more productive in the next six months: Apple’s expected to unveil a 12.9-inch iPad by early 2015. The latest confirmation was reported to Bloomberg and it follows earlier tips provided to the Wall Street Journal and Korea Times. At this point, it seems like we’re just waiting for the invites to go out.

Dropbox Pro adds security and drops price for 1TB – Cloud storage provider Dropbox has updated its Dropbox Pro service, streamlining storage to a single 1TB plan, and making it easier to secure files and remotely manage content. The tweaks include password-protected shared links, which mean that even if someone else gets access to an URL for a shared file, they’ll still need to have the password you set in the first place.

Sensor-packed Butterfleye camera wants to be the eyes into your home – This smart surveillance camera monitors your home, using video analytics and sensors to decide when to record and when to turn itself off.

Video Games Come of Age as Spectator Sport – This frame grab taken from shows two gamers competing and a streaming chat, at right, as visitors to the online network watch the two gamers go head to head. Fans watch for the same reasons ancient Romans flocked to the Colosseum: to witness extraordinary displays of agility and skill


30-Second Tech Trick: Write Better Papers with Google Scholar – Think of it as doing research without the rest of the Internet getting in the way.


Google goes public with security audits to ease corporate concerns – The tech titan makes available to the public for the first time two independent security audits, as it works to prove its commitment to customer data protection.

Why do we keep relearning the same security lessons again and again? – Two recent vulnerabilities are examples of problems that could have been avoided if we had just applied the lessons already learned in similar contexts.

Protect your devices with a $10 ‘USB Condom’ – The USB Condom is a small and unobtrusive dongle that effectively turns any USB cable into a secure ‘charge-only’ cable to allow safe recharging from untrusted USB ports.


Retailers warned to act now to protect against Backoff malware – The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council on Wednesday issued a bulletin urging retailers to immediately review their security controls to ensure point-of-sale systems are protected against “Backoff,” a malware tool that was used in the massive data theft at retailer Target last year. The bulletin instructed all covered entities to update their antivirus suites and to change default and staff passwords controlling access to key payment systems and applications.

New malvertising campaign hit visitors of several high-profile sites – Some visitors to several high-profile websites last week were redirected to browser exploits that installed malware on their computers because of malicious advertisements on those sites. The attack affected visitors to,,,,,, and between Aug. 19 and Aug. 22, according to researchers from Dutch security firm Fox-IT. “These websites have not been compromised themselves, but are the victim of malvertising,” the researchers said Wednesday in a blog post. “This means an advertisement provider, providing its services to a small part of a website, serves malicious advertisement aimed at infecting visitors with malware.”

JPMorgan bank could be hackers’ latest victim – The FBI investigates a data breach into one of the world’s largest banks that may have involved malware being deposited on an employee’s personal computer.

Following the underground path of stolen credit card information – There is a thriving digital black market, more sophisticated than many businesses. Learn what happens to the information stored on a credit card that has been stolen.

Company News:

High-Tech Cooler Now Kickstarter’s Most Funded Project Ever – The high-tech “Coolest Cooler,” which hit the crowd-funding site in July, is now the No. 1 highest funded Kickstarter project of all time. With almost $10.4 million in pledges – and 58 hours to go – it has topped the Pebble Smartwatch, which earned $10,266,845 in May 2012. “Thank you forever!” the Portland-based inventor of the Coolest Cooler, Ryan Grepper, said on Kickstarter.


Microsoft Rolls Out Surface Pro 3 To 25 New Markets – In keeping with prior expectations, Microsoft is currently in the process of rolling out its Surface Pro 3 tablet-hybrid to 25 new markets over the next 24 hours. With the 25 new markets all live, Surface Pro 3 will be available in a total of 28 markets. The rollout of the device has therefore been quite constrained to date. Microsoft also detailed in a post today that the new Surface dock will sell in the new markets, ahead of its general availability in mid-September.

Apple’s iWatch will reportedly make its debut on September 9th – After months of rumors, it looks we will get our first look at what Apple’s been working on for the past couple of years. Apple’s iWatch is rumored to make its debut at an unannounced September event.


Judge denies Apple’s request for injunction against Samsung – A US judge rules that Apple won’t “suffer irreparable harm” if Samsung continues to sell various older smartphone models that may include patent-infringing components.

Games and Entertainment:

BioShock releases on iOS: 2K Games’ critically acclaimed 2007 first-person shooter has launched for iPhone and iPad – The game, originally released for Windows PC, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2007, was announced as a mobile port earlier this month. It has been modified with slightly scaled-back graphics so it can run on mobile hardware, as well as touch controls — although it is also compatible with third-party mobile-compatible controllers.


If you want a Kinect for your Xbox One, you can pick one up for $149 in October – So, if you are an owner of an Xbox One without a Kinect but would still like to purchase one, you will be able to do so starting October 7th for $149.99. The standalone device comes with Dance Central Spotlight, the latest in the dance series from developer Harmonix, which will be available as a digital download.


Hunger Games: Mockingjay “Rebels” ideal for wallpaper – The publicity campaign for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is in full effect, bringing on viral content with extremely high quality. Most striking thus far has been the collection of massive images provided to the press. What we’ve seen so far includes mainly portraits – beastly, humongous posters of the characters that’ll appear in the film.


GTA V creators say Lindsay Lohan is attention-seeking with frivolous lawsuit – After Lindsay Lohan took legal action against Rockstar Games, claiming the GTA V character Lacey Jonas is based on her, the company has hit back, saying her lawsuit is purely for “publicity purposes”.


Lindsay Lohan and Lacey Jonas – not actually the same person

PS4’s Free Game PS Plus trailer run-down for September – Welcome to September – in a few days, but as far as Sony is concerned, right this minute. They’re bringing on a collection of games that’ll be free to download in September just so long as you’ve got a PlayStation Plus account. Signed up and ready to roll?


A Gloriously Stupid History of Sex in Video Games – When I look back at those naked Lara Croft pictures from 1997, I can’t understand why anyone would bother. They seem like an actual obstacle to jerking off. Thankfully, we’ve gotten a little better at this shit as time’s gone by.


Illustrations by Stephen Maurice Graham

Off Topic (Sort of):

Crazy CIA spy tech from the 50s, 60s and 70s – Crazy spy gadgets aren’t just limited to Batman and 007. The CIA houses in its museum all kinds of wacky knick-knacks and gizmos, some of which were just too silly for use.


Man makes concrete castle using 3D printer – Who needs a house when they can have a castle? Enthusiast Andrey Rudenko has 3D printed his own castle out of concrete, and though it isn’t outfitted as a complete home, it would make quite the spectacular man cave or playhouse. The castle was printed 10mm at a time.


Senator wants all US cops to wear video cameras – Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator from Missouri, says police departments nationwide should require their officers to wear body cameras in order to qualify for the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they receive each year. McCaskill’s comments come in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting death of Michael Brown and is one of a myriad of calls in the episode’s aftermath for police officers to wear video cams.

The Times is using typewriter sound effects to “motivate” workers – Those of us working office jobs know how quiet it can get — headphones go on and the subtle clicking of modern keyboards fades away. It would seem such a setup makes for solid productivity, but The Times doesn’t agree. Instead, it is blasting its writers with typewriter sound effects to increase worker output.

Linux Has Run Out of Time – I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can’t accomplish any of this with Linux. Yes, I can kind of “get by” but that’s about it. There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It’s not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what’s the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don’t I?

Five big names that use Linux on the desktop – It’s not just Munich city council that uses Linux on the desktop. A number of household names have also opted for open source. Perhaps the best-known major company to use Linux on the desktop is Google, which provides the Goobuntu OS for staff to use.

Wikipedia wants Congressional staffers to contribute, but bias is a big concern – Should policy wonks write for Wikipedia? The libertarian Cato Institute thinks Congressional staffer expertise could help Wikipedia post more about legislation, but some worry about conflict of interest.

Something to think about:

“When I pass, speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws. Learn from them, for I’ll have no ego to injure.”

–     Aaron McGruder

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCleaner Standard – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the standard installer with uninstaller. CCleaner Portable and CCleaner Slim are also available.

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Install, uninstall and toolbar included.


Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer

Temporary files, history, cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat.


Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.


Temporary files, history, cookies.


Temporary files, history, cookies, form history.


Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.

Registry Cleaner

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more… also comes with a comprehensive backup feature.

Third-party applications

Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more…


RealVNC Free – VNC is remote access and control software for an unrivalled mix of Windows, Mac, UNIX and Linux computers. With a simple peer-to-peer architecture, no agents or centralized servers are required.

To get started, download VNC to the computer you want to control, install it, and choose a license. Then, download VNC Viewer to the computer you wish to exercise control from. Note if you are connecting over the Internet, you may also need to configure your network.

VNC Free is free for for individual private use.


F-Secure Rescue CD – If your computer no longer starts due to malware corrupting the operating system, or you suspect the security software has been compromised, you can use the F-Secure Rescue CD to securely boot up the computer and check the programs installed.The Rescue CD can also be used for more advanced repair and data recovery operations.

The Rescue CD contains Knoppix (a derivative of Linux), an operating system that runs completely from the CD and allows access to your computer’s Windows operating system and hard disks.

Note: the Rescue CD cannot scan encrypted disks.

You can also download the Rescue CD updates to a USB drive (minimum 256 MB of free space) using a healthy computer with Internet access. You can use this USB drive to fix a computer that cannot connect to the Internet. Instructions on how to do this are included in the Rescue CD User’s Guide.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni: Feds call it “twelve triple three”; whistleblowers says it’s the heart of the problem – One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today.

The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there’s a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it’s Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981.

“12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US,” whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.”

The document, known in government circles as “twelve triple three,” gives incredible leeway to intelligence agencies sweeping up vast quantities of Americans’ data. That data ranges from e-mail content to Facebook messages, from Skype chats to practically anything that passes over the Internet on an incidental basis. In other words, EO 12333 protects the tangential collection of Americans’ data even when Americans aren’t specifically targeted—otherwise it would be forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Feds warn first responders of dangerous hacking tool: Google Search – In a restricted intelligence document distributed to police, public safety, and security organizations in July, the Department of Homeland Security warned of a “malicious activity” that could expose secrets and security vulnerabilities in organizations’ information systems. The name of that activity: “Google dorking.”

“Malicious cyber actors are using advanced search techniques, referred to as ‘Google dorking,’ to locate information that organizations may not have intended to be discoverable by the public or to find website vulnerabilities for use in subsequent cyber attacks,” the for-official-use-only Roll Call Release warned. “By searching for specific file types and keywords, malicious cyber actors can locate information such as usernames and passwords, e-mail lists, sensitive documents, bank account details, and website vulnerabilities.”

That’s right, if you’re using advanced operators for search on Google, such as “” or “filetype:xls,” you’re behaving like a “malicious cyber actor.” Some organizations will react to you accessing information they thought was hidden as if you were a cybercriminal, as reporters at Scripps found out last year. Those individuals were accused of “hacking” the website of free cellphone provider TerraCom after discovering sensitive customer data openly accessible from the Internet via a Google search and an “automated “ hacking tool: GNU’s Wget.


Australia: ASIO chief unfussed by data-retention bypasses – The use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods to bypass mandatory data-retention regimes in Australia will be a challenge, according to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director-general David Irvine, but metadata is still an invaluable tool for law enforcement.

As part of the Australian government’s proposed mandatory data-retention regime, to be introduced in legislation later this year, telecommunications companies will be required to keep a vast amount of customer “metadata”, including the IP addresses assigned to a customer.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already acknowledged that VPNs would limit the ability of law enforcement to match up a user’s IP address, and Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm reportedly said that a minister, widely assumed to be Turnbull, had to recently demonstrate to a law-enforcement agency what a VPN is, and how it could mask an IP address.

“He gave them a demonstration on a VPN and said, ‘By my IP address, tell me what you can find out about me now.’ And they had no idea there was such a thing as a VPN. It indicates to me that these people are not well informed enough to make these kinds of decisions,” Leyonhjelm reportedly said.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Irvine was reluctant to go into the technical detail of the use of VPNs to bypass data-retention regimes, but said that it does present a challenge in the way his organisation uses metadata in investigations.

Leaked paper reveals Australia’s obsessive metadata secrecy – Last Friday, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department sent internet service providers (ISPs) a confidential discussion paper — subsequently leaked to Fairfax Media — that attempts to clarify exactly what metadata they’ll be required to store under the government’s proposed mandatory data-retention scheme. The detailed requirements are presumably designed to feed into the “statutory specification” of metadata that will be included in legislation to be introduced to parliament in coming weeks.

Until now, the only official government description of metadata we’d seen — apart from that breathtakingly confused TV performance by Australia’s favourite Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC — was the hilariously inadequate one-pager (PDF) that the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) tabled in Senate Estimates on October 15, 2012, after much prodding by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

You might therefore think that the description of the government’s metadata needs in Friday’s document was a recent development.

You’d be wrong.

A confidential document obtained by ZDNet shows that even more detailed descriptions of the government’s data-collection ambitions had been discussed with ISPs as far back as early 2010.

The document, Carrier-Carriage Service Provider Data Set Consultation Paper version 1.0 (PDF), is a 16-page PDF file created on March 9, 2010, at 14:49. Its core sections are similar in structure to the nine-page document obtained by Fairfax Media this week, with the addition of tables of “sample data to further illustrate the expected type of data to be retained for each specific retention requirement from the data set”, discussion questions for industry to answer, and an introductory background section rather than an executive summary.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 27, 2014

Chrome 64-bit browser finally available as a stable version;  HP recalls millions of power cords in US and Canada;  7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do;  Five ways to improve battery life on Windows;  Where to Sell Your iPhone for the Highest Price;  Take ‘taxers’ to task in Republican video game;  Microsoft to offer the Acer Aspire E 15 for $199, for one day only;  Turn your Google Docs into a published ebook (free);  How to quickly unsubscribe from ‘liked’ Facebook pages;  Simplicam tackles Dropcam with face-detection;  iPhones, iPads connected to Windows PCs are at risk;  Online identity: how safe are you on the internet?  Social Media Is Silencing Personal Opinion;  Destiny is the Future of Gaming: Good or Bad?  Mittens, Not M4s: What Ferguson Police Really Got from the Pentagon’s 1033 Program;  We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance;  How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio?

Chrome 64-bit browser finally available as a stable version: 64-bit browser claims better stability, performance, and security – The browser’s advantages are speed, security, and stability. Security is enhanced both through enabling new protection systems and making existing protection systems stronger. The 64-bit applications have much more memory available, thereby creating a much larger haystack in which to hide the needles that exploits look for. Google has its own protection systems that similarly try to separate different kinds of data in memory, and 64-bit likewise gives them more space to play with.

HP recalls millions of power cords in US and Canada – During a year rife with recalls (mostly of the automotive sort), HP has been forced to recall more than six million laptop power cords following multiple reports of them overheating and more. The recall is for both the United States and Canada, and covers cords sold from September 2010 up through the summer of 2012.

Microsoft Promises Fix For Surface Pro 3 Overheating Issue – The issue that is causing some Surface Pro 3 devices to restart and tell users that they are overheating is an error, according to Microsoft. The company has promised a fix in short order.

Manage What Happens to Your Online Accounts After You Die – Consider the size of your online presence—your Facebook account, which details your daily life and personal history; your email account, which contains a wealth of your personal and business communications; photos, music and documents you have stored in the cloud; online banking accounts and records; frequent flier miles and more. Will heirs be able to access your accounts to manage your affairs or do you want to prevent them from snooping around in virtual territory you want kept private? Will your accounts simply evaporate over time or will your Facebook page still be up long after you’re gone? While some people don’t care, others find the idea of their digital assets outliving them disconcerting. Creating a digital will helps you determine which accounts survive and which you take to your grave.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O earlier this summer – from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

Five ways to improve battery life on Windows – You shouldn’t have to be tethered to your desk to use your laptop. While battery life is improving, it still isn’t perfect. If you’ve got a Windows 8.1 machine, these tips will help you squeeze the most juice of your computer’s battery.

iPhone 6 release could drive the most old iPhone trade-ins ever – As the iPhone 6 launch approaches, more trade-in sites are clamoring for your old iPhone. eBay is leading the charge with the promise of a $100 coupon if you can’t sell yours on the auction site.

Take ‘taxers’ to task in Republican video game – There’s an old truism in politics: If you want to turn out the youth vote, you need to build an odd 8-bit video game to reach them and hope the vaguely Italian and homophonic name of the game’s hero isn’t offensive. Actually, maybe that’s more of a noobism, but it also describes “Giopi: 2014 Mission Majority,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s attempt at reaching out to young voters and procrastinators of all ages. This Super Mario Bros.-style scroller has Giopi (pronounced G-O-P; get it?) the elephant hopping on “taxers” and “mudlsingers” who sarcastically spout the same dozen or so Democratic gaffes (most of which need a little more context to be understood by those who don’t dine on Republican talking points each evening) when you jump on their heads.


Jump on the taxer and hit the switch to turn the Senate red.

Where to Sell Your iPhone for the Highest Price – If you’re smart, you can ditch your old phone for cash before buying that shiny new iPhone 5S. We list some of your options. But as with all things in life, timing is everything. You’ll likely get a better price for your phone before September 10, since most people aren’t organized and won’t bother trying to sell or trade in until after the launch, upping the supply of older models and consequently decreasing the price you can fetch for yours.

The Art and Craft of Windows Search – Sophisticated Searching – In the first part of this two-part series, we did the groundwork for an efficient search index configuration, and rebuilt and tested the index. Now we’re going to go further than simply typing in words and phrases as search terms, to look at how we can set up and combine search terms and conditions using the Advanced Query Syntax. (Article originally submitted under the title: “On the Synthesis of Search Terms in the Application of the Windows Search Algorithm to the Location of Desired Objects, with Particular Reference to the Precepts of Symbolic Logic Established by Professor Boole”.)   Smile

Microsoft to offer the Acer Aspire E 15 for $199, for one day only – Back-to-school season has started and many of us are looking to grab some great deals for electronics. Thankfully, it seems like Microsoft noticed the trend and decided to offer the Acer Aspire E 15, a Windows 8.1 device with some decent specifications, for $50 off. However, it must be noted that the offer will only be valid for only one day, or while the stocks last. It will be only available via the Microsoft Store site and the device will be available to purchase for $199, instead of the usual $249. For those interested, don’t forget to visit Microsoft Store early on Friday as the demand may turn out to be higher than the supply. Given the specifications for the price, it is hard to complain after all.


Liberio review: Turn your Google Docs into a published ebook – As self-publishing rises in popularity, startup Liberio can simplify the often tedious process of turning a document into an eBook.

How to quickly unsubscribe from ‘liked’ Facebook pages – Facebook Cleanser can help you scrub your feed clean, but you can accomplish much the same thing in Facebook’s settings.

Google News and Weather: your next key Android app – This week Google has updated the app known as “News & Weather.” This app is built-in with newer Android devices and software builds, and requires that you have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher – that includes Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Honeycomb too. You’ll also need 2.3MB of space to install it.


MIX for Android Lets You Create And Save Custom Photo Filters – MIX for Android is the app for you if you often feel like Goldilocks when confronted with the filters in other photo-editing apps. Not only does MIX let you edit photos, but it also allows you to create custom filters, which you can then save to use again. MIX, now available for free on Google Play, is the latest product from Camera360, which has already gained 300 million users with its other apps, including its flagship product Camera360 Ultimate.


Three ways to use BitTorrent Sync to share your files without the cloud – BitTorrent’s latest version of Sync is so much easier to use. If you haven’t tried it out, now’s a good time. Here are three ways you can use the new app to sync files across your devices.

Simplicam tackles Dropcam with face-detection – Wireless security cameras like Dropcam are shaping up to be an integral part of the smart home experience, and ArcSoft is hoping its Simplicam will carve a niche courtesy of face detection. A compact WiFi camera with a companion cloud-based recording service, Simplicam offers alerts only if a human face is spotted in-frame, rather than just responding to any sort of movement.


Hands-On With Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New Video Creation App – The app looks dead simple, but is actually doing a lot in the background. When you first open Hyperlapse, you’ll go through a very quick tutorial and are then sent straight into a full-screen camera. The button on the bottom starts and stops recording. Once you have recorded a video, the app gives you a single control over the content: speed. Users can switch from 1x speed (a slower version) all the way up to 12x speed (super fast). But beyond speed, the real draw here is the ability to shoot a steady video on mobile that appears professionally shot.


Use this $35 card-size computer to build your next robot army – The Raspberry Pi can power that, or a home media center, and much more. Here’s how to install Raspbian and get cooking with Pi.


The Raspberry Pi B+ with a MicroSD card for scale.

Ars Technica System Guide: August 2014 – For any new readers, the main Ars System Guide is a three-system affair, with the traditional Budget Box, Hot Rod, and God Box addressing three different price points in the market from modest to a little crazy. The main System Guide’s boxes are general-purpose systems with a strong gaming focus, which results in fairly well-rounded machines suitable for most enthusiast use. They also make a solid starting point to spin off into a variety of configurations.


Your secrets may not be safe with anonymous sharing app Secret – “Share with friends, anonymously,” runs the tagline for smartphone app Secret. But what to do if that anonymity starts to break down, or if the secrets being shared are distinctly unfriendly? The popular but controversial social Android and iOS app is facing new scrutiny of its security and ethics policies this week, with its crackdown on cyberbullying undermined by claims that hackers can uncover people’s posts in the app using nothing more than their email addresses.

Automattic Acquires BruteProtect To Help Keep WordPress Users Safe – WordPress now powers so many websites, it’s no surprise that it’s a favorite target for hackers. To keep its users safe, Automattic – the company behind both and the open-source WordPress project — today announced that it has acquired BruteProtect, a security and management tool for WordPress. The BruteProtect plug-in is currently used on about 110,000 sites, but with this acquisition, WordPress will not only make BruteProtect’s premium service available for free, it will also include it in its Jetpack service. Jetpack allows WordPress users with self-hosted sites to get access to many of the cloud-hosted services that offers its users.

Researchers: iPhones, iPads connected to Windows PCs are at risk – At the USENIX Security Symposium, Georgia Tech researchers show how PC botnets could infect iOS devices to steal passwords.

Online identity: how safe are you on the internet? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: are you sharing too much of your life online? For our Amnesty Teen Takeover, author Bali Rai shares what he learned about our internet habits while writing his book Web of Darkness. Life can be scarier than fiction…

This card skimmer is a frightfully well-crafted fraud machine – Your credit or debit card is pretty darn thin. The slot on the ATM that you slide it into? It’s thin, too, but apparently there’s just enough room in there for a fraudster to slip in this device, steal your card data, and scam you out of your hard-earned cash.


Amazon’s newly purchased is offline thanks to a DDOS attack – Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would be buying for nearly a billion dollars and now the service is being hit with a DDOS attack much like Sony’s online service a few days ago.

Company News:

Silicon Valley tech companies use underpaid black and Latino workers, says report – Silicon Valley technology companies use underpaid black, Latino and immigrant workers as janitors, cooks and security guards, according to a study released Monday. Tech companies have been targeted by civil rights groups, including the Rainbow Push Coalition of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, for not employing enough blacks and Latinos. Following demands from Jackson, some companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook released employee diversity data which showed that their employees in the U.S. were predominantly white followed by Asian.

Comcast tells government that its data caps aren’t actually “data caps” – For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn’t impose any “data caps” on its Internet service. That’s despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data.

Rogers And Shaw Team Up To Launch A Netflix Competitor For Canada Called ‘Shomi’ – Canadian cable giants aren’t just going to watch their audience slip away to streaming services – two of the nation’s biggest providers have joined forces to launch shomi, a new subscription-based service that provides access to shows on-demand, with apps for tablets, phones, web, Xbox 360 and set-top boxes at launch. The shomi service will be available only to Rogers and Shaw Internet or TV subscribers in its beta form, and it’ll be available beginning in November with an $8.99 per month price tag (the same, you’ll note, as Netflix.)

Snapchat valued at $10 billion, has 100 million monthly users – Snapchat is becoming ubiquitous with messaging, and that’s never been more evident than with today’s news of their valuation and user-base. A fresh funding round tells us that those backing Snapchat are doing so at a $10 billion valuation. That’s not just rare air for a messaging app — it’s an exclusive club not many startups can claim to be in.

Amazon’s Fire Phone is a dud, according to research – If you see someone on the street with a Fire Phone, take a picture. According to a new report, those folks are rare, and should be photographed as proof that yes — someone really did buy a Fire Phone. Combining data from comScore and Chitika, we find the Fire Phone may have been a dud, right from the get-go.

Games and Entertainment:

Bolt II Battle Box Titan Z Special Edition gaming PC includes liquid cooling – Digital Storm has introduced a new beast of a gaming machine, the Bolt II Battle Box Titan Z Special Edition. The mouthful title aside, the new computer is a liquid-cooled offering the maker says is designed to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX Battle Box standard. The machine is available now for under $5,000.


Destiny is the Future of Gaming: Good or Bad? – Destiny, which will launch in around a month, is arguably the most anticipated game launching this year. The title, which is developed by Bungie in partnership with Activision, is being called a “shared-world shooter” and the first of its kind. It’s the game house’s first prominent go at the gaming space after Halo, and will ultimately make or break Bungie as a developer. But Destiny is more than just a game that could make or break a developer. The game is a title that could dramatically alter the course of our beloved industry and send it into a new direction. Destiny is a groundbreaking game that could invite a wide range of new gaming opportunities for developers to exploit.


Amazon proves it’s serious about gaming with Twitch buy – By dropping nearly a $1 billion to buy video game streaming site Twitch, Amazon is telling gamers that it’s no longer playing around. The move, which includes a price tag of $970 million in cash, may seem odd to the online retailer’s main customers, but it indicates Amazon wants a bigger piece of a multi-billion dollar gaming business. Buying Twitch, a site that live streams people playing games like League of Legends and DOTA 2, lets Amazon tap into the most loyal consumers of games — the hardcore gamers.

Moon Hunters: Where Legend of Zelda meets Gauntlet – Shattered Planet’s Kitfox Games is back for round two, this time exploring the fantastical rather than sci-fi: it has launched a Kickstarter for Moon Hunters, a game for up to four players the developer describes as a “myth-weaving RPG”. Set in an ancient fantasy world, you take the role of a hero: a generic adventurer who is called upon to help out when the Moon goes missing. With the Moon no longer providing its magical influence on the world, monsters begin to rise up, and your quest becomes a battle of life, death, wits, magic, and might.


Off Topic (Sort of):

How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio? – Debates rage over whether hi-res music is a gimmick. Three Guardian writers put four music formats – and their ears – to the test.

Social Media Is Silencing Personal Opinion – Even In The Offline World – Social media is not living up to its promise of being an online outlet for discussion that mirrors our communications and conversations that take place in the offline world. In fact, people are less willing to discuss important issues on social media, than they are in real life, a new report from Pew Research Center has found. It may seem like an obvious conclusion: of course, people are more hesitant to speak up with a contrary opinion when all their friends, family or colleagues feel differently. But there’s been little research that quantifies just how unwilling people are to take a potentially unpopular stance on outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

How the web lost its way – and its founding principles – When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web 24 years ago he thought he’d created an egalitarian tool that would share information for the greater good. But it hasn’t quite worked out like that. What went wrong?

15 insanely stupid Apple predictions – The years have not been kind to Apple’s critics. Here are fifteen laughable predictions that show how Apple has been going out of business since 1984.

Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case – A top government cybersecurity official who secretly joined an online pedophile network to swap child sex abuse material and rape fantasies has been convicted. Timothy DeFoggi, 56, is described by the Department of Justice as being the former acting director of cyber security at the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was arrested, charged and brought to trial in Nebraska after the FBI investigated three child abuse websites – and found he had signed up as a member to at least one of them.

Mittens, Not M4s: What Ferguson Police Really Got from the Pentagon’s 1033 Program – VICE News obtained the complete inventory of military leftovers secured since 2007 by the Ferguson Police Department under the Pentagon’s 1033 program—and nothing on the list matched up with the militarized equipment police deployed during the protests.


Something to think about:

“Failure is the foundation for success, and the means by which it is achieved.”

–      Lao-tzu

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 8 Free Beta 1.0 – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!

What’s new:

+ Brand New User Interface – Simpler design with supporting maximizing UI.

+ New Theme Customization – Change theme easily with your loved pictures.

+ New Protect Module – Protect your browser homepages, search engine, online surfing and reinforce system.

+ New Plugin/Toolbar Cleaner – Monitor browser toolbars, plugins in real-time to remove the malicious ones to better protect your browsers.

+ New Browser Cleaner – Offer 1-click technique to clean browsing histories and other privacy issues when browsers closed.

+ New IObit Uninstaller 4 – Remove unwanted programs, plugins, toolbars and pre-installed Windows 8 metro applications.

+ New Software Updater – Keep your important software up-to-date.

+ Rebuilt Startup Manager – 1-click method to speed up system boot time and easy management for Startups, Services, Task Schedule.

+ Rebuilt Disk Optiomization – Add SSD (Solid State Disk) optimization and multi disk defragment.

+ Rebuilt Performance Monitor – Monitor your PC performance in real time and boost it with just one click.

+ Privacy Sweep – Add clean for Windows Metro Apps and clean for iTunes.

+ Registry Fix – Add fix for “Windows Services” and enhance scan engine’s scanning speed and stability.


Hola – Install Hola on your PC, phone or tablet to make your Internet faster, save data costs, and view sites that are otherwise censored in your country.

Bypass Internet censorship

Speed up your web browsing

Save on bandwidth costs

Improve your privacy online


Graphic: Hola running on my system (Firefox).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance – ‘Be careful what you wish for,” runs the adage. “You might just get it.” In the case of the internet, or, at any rate, the world wide web, this is exactly what happened. We wanted exciting services – email, blogging, social networking, image hosting – that were “free”. And we got them. What we also got, but hadn’t bargained for, was deep, intensive and persistent surveillance of everything we do online.

We ought to have known that it would happen. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Online services cost a bomb to provide: code has to be written (by programmers who have to be paid); servers have to be bought or rented, powered, housed, cooled and maintained; bandwidth has to be paid for; and so on. So there were basically only two business models that could have supported our desires.

One model involved us paying for stuff. But we (or most of us, anyway) proved deeply resistant to this idea. We had the fantasy that everything online should be free, after we’d paid an ISP for a connection to the net. So paying for stuff was a non-starter.

The companies that provided the “free” services therefore had to find another business model. And in the end they found one: it was called advertising or, rather, putting advertisers in touch with the users of “free” services. And it turned out that the only way to do this involved intensive surveillance of everything those users did online.

Which brings us to where we are today, a world in which, as the security guru Bruce Schneier puts it: “The business model of the internet is surveillance. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing.”

Canada’s cyberspy agency, csec, hijacks computers worldwide to build their spynet – Glimmers of new information about CSEC, Canada’s version of the NSA, have recently been released through a variety of media sources, which has provided a slightly clearer picture of what Canada’s mysterious cybersurveillance activities actually entail.


This is how a criminal botnet works, which is very similar to the kinds of botnets CSEC uses. Image via Wikipedia.

The biggest revelation came from an unexpected report in c’t magazin, a German publication, authored by five individuals, including Laura Poitras, one of the few journalists to have met Edward Snowden IRL, and Jacob Applebaum, a hacker-turned-reporter with ties to the TOR foundation.

Their report, entitled “NSA/GCHQ: The HACIENDA Program for Internet Colonization,” focuses not on a Mexican ranch, but rather on a “covert infrastructure” of programs that have been designed to takeover the internet, by locating vulnerable computers around the world that can be hijacked and clandestinely repurposed into spybots for government agencies.

c’t cites leaked slides from the NSA, CSEC, and GCHQ, which are not credited to Edward Snowden’s leaks; this further fuels speculation that there is a second source leaking information from within the spy agencies to the press. A possibility that Snowden himself refuses to address on the record.

One key part of the HACIENDA infrastructure, however, is a Canadian program called LANDMARK, which looks for “ORBS” (Operational Relay Box) that were recently defined by Colin Freeze in the Globe and Mail as “computers [the Five Eyes spy agencies] compromise in third-party countries.” I spoke to Chris Parsons from the Citizen Lab, who explained that these ORBs are quite possibly the property of innocent citizens, and not exclusively intelligence targets.

Pew study warns about ‘spiral of silence’ in US discussion of Edward Snowden’s NSA online surveillance revelations – Americans have been self-censoring their discussions about state surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, researchers have found.

Approximately 86% of adults were “very” or “somewhat” willing to discuss the findings in person with family, friends or work colleagues or at public meetings, yet only 43% said they would discuss the issues on Facebook.

The Pew Research Centre surveyed 1,801 US adults in August and September 2013, and also found that only 41% of people would be willing to discuss surveillance on Twitter which is a more visible, public medium than Facebook.

Pew’s report, which was published on Tuesday, warns of a “spiral of silence” capable of spreading from the online to the offline world, especially for people who think most of their social networking contacts disagree with their views on a particular topic:

“The typical Facebook user – someone who logs onto the site a few times per day – is half as likely to be willing to have a discussion about the Snowden-NSA issues at a physical public meeting as a non-Facebook user.

Similarly, the typical Twitter user – someone who uses the site a few times per day – is 0.24 times less likely to be willing to share their opinions in the workplace as an internet user who does not use Twitter.”

The report also notes that of the 14% of Americans who were unwilling to discuss the Snowden revelations offline, just 0.3% said they would be willing to join conversations on the topic on social networks instead.

Police called on video game developer over ‘Global Thermonuclear War’ plans – A British games developer’s letting agency called the police after mistaking diagrams of his new game for a planned thermonuclear attack on Washington.

Henry Smith is a software engineer from Bristol working on a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”, which uses Google Maps to simulate an atomic conflict between nations. Smith was planning out the game using whiteboards in his home when his letting agent made a pre-arranged visit.

A few days later, the agent rang, Smith says, and told him that “the person who did the inspection did have some concerns about one thing. There were some … whiteboards? And some … drawings on them?”

Although Smith believed he assuaged the agents’ fears by explaining that the sketches were plans for a game, he received a follow-up email the next week informing him that the matter had been referred to the local police.

“At first I was ridiculously frightened by the whole thing,” he told the Guardian. “When they said they’d told the police I absolutely bricked it. I ran home to check if the police had raided the house or something. It was definitely very frightening to think that the police had a report in their system alleging that I was up to something suspicious involving nuclear warheads. Knowing how the police here deal with suspected terrorists, I was worried they’d do a dawn raid or worse. It was genuinely scary for a while.”

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 27, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 26, 2014

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google;  5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes (and How to Fix Them);  Get a free year of LastPass Premium;  The 10 apps every college student needs to have;  Debit cards get new protections;  $38 Firefox OS smartphone;  Whopper of a Burger King deal: A side of free smartphone;  Getting started with iPhone camera app Camu;  TiVo Releases A $49.99 Over-The-Air DVR For Cord Cutters;  Amazon’s Twitch Acquisition Is Official;  The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go;  Ralph Lauren Unveils Smart Polo Shirt;  Flappy Bird creator updates Swing Copters to make it less impossible;  Australia: Metadata storage wishlist­ revealed;  Screenshots: Use Clonezilla to clone a hard drive.

Report: Consumers concerned about online threats but do little to protect themselves – A new survey from Kaspersky Lab finds most consumers believe banks, online retailers, and payment systems are responsible for safeguarding their financial data.

Debit cards get new protections – Imagine an on/off switch for your debit card. Here’s an early look at what’s going to make using debit a whole lot safer. (recommended by Keith P.)

Get a free year of LastPass Premium – If you’re already using one, great — feel free to skip ahead to the bonus deals below. If not, get ready for a seriously sweet offer: AppSumo is offering a free one-year subscription to LastPass Premium. Regular price: $12. Granted, that’s literally saving you just a buck per month, but I’m hoping it’s enough to encourage people who otherwise balk at the idea of a password manager. Because once you start using this, you’ll wonder how (and why) you ever got along without it.

5 of the Biggest Facebook Mistakes (and How to Fix Them) – With regular introductions of privacy-flouting new features and different sets of etiquette for connecting with colleagues, friends and family, it can be all too easy to make a Facebook misstep that sends the wrong message into the world. Below are five of the most-common Facebook faux pas – and how to avoid them.

The 10 apps every college student needs to have – The life of a high schooler living at home is quite a bit different than that of a college freshman living on his or her own for the first time. The good news is that you can make the transition a lot smoother with some useful digital tools. The apps below will help you with everything from saving money to finding food to getting to class on time.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Whopper of a Burger King deal: A side of free smartphone – You can’t just roll up into the drive-through lane at your local BK and get a deep-fried Galaxy S3 dropped into your bag next to your Whopper. The offer is available online and it does have some strings attached. The free phone requires a new or upgraded two-year agreement with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. This comes with all the usual rigmarole of signing up with a cell service provider, including possible credit checks, activation fees, early termination fees, and deposits. So your free Burger King smartphone will end up costing you the same as any other free-phone deal.

Screenshots: Use Clonezilla to clone a hard drive – Jesus Vigo takes you step-by-step through the process of cloning your hard drive using Clonezilla, an open-source, Linux-based, OS agnostic solution.


Three easy ways to separate work and play on the same PC – If you’ve got strict divisions between your work and play identities online, what’s the easiest way to keep the two worlds from colliding? Here are three suggestions.

Facebook to ditch clickbait headlines – Facebook is taking measures to boost quality journalism by reducing the number of clickbait headlines shown in news feeds and making good headlines more visible.

How to keep in touch with people while traveling – Unless you want to go off the grid completely, it’s relatively easy to keep in touch with friends and family when on the road. Of course, there are the obvious solutions, including familiar apps like Facebook and Skype, but you may be interested in tips and tricks making use of other contact solutions.

Microsoft Surface 2’s price slash: Great deal or a waste of your money? – Microsoft just temporarily slashed the prices on all of its Surface 2 Windows 8.1 RT-based tablets by $100, to as low as $349. Is this the deal for you, or one you should avoid? The price cut lasts only from August 24 through August 27, or “while supplies last.” Each customer will be allowed buy up to five of them. This is the second year in a row that Microsoft cut prices for its RT-based Surface2. It did the same thing last year, and there’s some evidence that it gave the device a temporary boost. So is this the deal for you?

Surface Pro 3 bugs keep coming as overheating complaints arise – The Surface Pro 3 is a fantastic device when it’s working properly, but a procession of crippling bugs are keeping many users from enjoying their high-end hardware. Over the past few weeks, users on Microsoft’s support website have complained of overheating in the Surface Pro 3. Fan noise becomes excessively loud, the tablets become too hot to handle, and in some cases the device shuts down completely with a temperature warning.

$38 Firefox OS smartphone – the Spice Fire One Mi-FX1– Priced at approximately $38, the Spice Fire One Mi – FX1 will be targetting first-time smartphone users and those on an extremely limited budget. The specs are nothing to write home about, with the biggest limitations hovering around the low-resolution display and the lack of 3G connectivity, but it does various useful elements such as dual sim functionality, bluetooth, and a front and rear camera.


TiVo Releases A $49.99 Over-The-Air DVR For Cord Cutters – TiVo today is announcing the release of its TiVo Roamio OTA DVR, a $49.99 device that will give customers who don’t have cable or satellite service. Instead, they will be able to connect the DVR up to an antenna to record shows broadcast on channels available through over-the-air digital signals. The Roamio OTA has 500 GB of storage capacity, which holds up to 75 hours of HD programming. It also has four tuners to allow customers to record multiple programs at once, while also being able to tune in live to one channel. The device is also compatible with the company’s TiVo Stream device for streaming live and pre-recorded videos on other devices.


For The First Time, More People Will Watch Streams On Devices Than Desktops – On August 26, 2002, Major League Baseball streamed its first live video of a game to the web — a tiny, grainy little player that looks laughable in comparison to today’s HD streams you hold in your palm. This month, 12 years later, the MLB says that it projects that over 51 percent of its monthly live streams will be watched on ‘connected’ and mobile devices in August. It says that this is a first for any live sports video product on the Internet.

Ralph Lauren Unveils Smart Polo Shirt – The new Polo Tech shirt, unveiled Monday morning to coincide with the first day of the U.S. Open, goes beyond the old preppy design you know and love. It’s essentially a compression shirt that has knitted-in sensors that can read biological and physical data, such as heartbeat, respiration, stress level, and energy output, and send this information to your smartphone. Aimed at athletes, the Polo Tech shirt is designed to help “improve general wellness and increase personal fitness,” the luxury lifestyle brand said in a statement.


Getting started with iPhone camera app Camu – iPhone photographers, take note: there’s a new app vying for your attention. Free app Camu is worth checking out for its slick, easy-to-use interface and small but useful collection of filters and tools.


Tech Support scammers rip big brand security software with fake warnings – Just when we thought we had seen it all, scammers come out with an elaborate and clever scheme to trick users into calling for bogus tech support. If you are looking to download one of the popular antivirus or anti-malware product on the market, watch out before you click. Fraudsters have set up fake download pages that look incredibly like the authentic ones.


There is even a fake page for our own Malwarebytes:


Side-channel android weakness likely on other platforms – Researchers have discovered a weakness in Android that is likely present in other leading operating systems that can be abused and lead to information leakage. While the researchers tested their attack only on Android, they wrote in their paper that the same shared memory mechanism being exploited here is also present in window managers present in Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and iOS.

Sub-domain on SourceForge redirects to Flash Pack Exploit Kit – We have talked about SourceForge before on this blog, in particular when they were associated with bundled software. This time around, we are going to take a look at an infected sub-domain hosted on SourceForge responsible for a drive-by download attack. The first redirection is located within a JavaScript file:


Secret Service says “Backoff” malware hit 1000 businesses – 6 tips to keep your data safe – It now appears that the string of recent data breaches at US retail establishments was not a coincidence, but rather related attacks using the same malicious software kit. In a security advisory from the US Secret Service dated 22 August 2014, obtained by the New York Times, the government said the malware known as Backoff has struck more than 1000 US companies since October 2013. US-CERT has updated its alert to advise businesses on ways to mitigate Backoff. Naked Security writer and Sophos Senior Security Advisor Chester Wisniewski has some further advice.

Company News:

Amazon’s Twitch Acquisition Is Official – After months of rumors suggesting that Google was prepped to snatch up Twitch, word broke this morning that Amazon had crashed the party and was about to acquire Twitch themselves. Sure enough, the Amazon/Twitch deal is done. Our sources had previously suggested that the deal would close at nearly $1 billion dollars. We’re digging on the final price right this second, but are still hearing that it was very close to $1b. Update: Amazon confirms that the final price was $970M in cash.

Oregon Attorney General sues Oracle for “racketeering activity” – In the aftermath of what was likely the most spectacular failure among state-run Affordable Care Act health exchange site launches, the state of Oregon has filed a lawsuit against Oracle America Inc. over the total failure of the Cover Oregon exchange. “Oracle’s conduct amounts to a pattern of racketeering activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wrote in a civil complaint filed August 22. The lawsuit seeks over $5.5 billion in damages from Oracle, plus legal fees. The complaint comes after Oracle filed its own lawsuit against the state’s health exchange for failure to pay for services rendered in early August.

WhatsApp hits 600 million monthly active users – In the six months since Facebook announced it was buying the messaging app, the service’s monthly active user base has grown by 150 million.

Games and Entertainment:

The 16 best one-hand Android games for fun on the go – Clenching to the bus rail on your way to work, you don’t have both hands free to finish that Dead Trigger level you started last night. With a few minutes to spare, and one hand free, you need to find some games you can play with the same hand you’re holding your phone with. Your choices aren’t as limited as you might think. You’ll find that most of the titles are designed specifically with the portrait orientation in mind. However, some games are good enough to bend the rules, and you’ll see a couple games sprinkled in that are played in landscape mode.


Age of Empires: Castle Siege headed to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 for ‘free’ – Age of Empires is one of the most popular real-time strategy game franchises on the PC and Microsoft has been looking to bring the game to its mobile platforms for quite some time. However, the Age of Empires: World Domination game which was set to launch on all mobile platforms has been delayed till the end of the year but another Age of Empires game, which would be called Age of Empires: Castle Siege, will land on the Windows and Windows Phone stores in September.


Loyal subscribers to get rewards in The Elder Scrolls Online – With free-to-play massively multiplayer online games being so common now, surviving as a subscription-based MMO is quite difficult. Many previously paid-for online games have made the switch to free-to-play, but Bethesda isn’t prepared to do that with The Elder Scrolls Online, and instead is choosing to reward loyalty. As a thank you for subscribing, Bethesda is introducing a loyalty program that rewards players with in-game items. All you have to do is subscribe for a set period of time.


Steam Update allows multiple installs at once – Supposing you switch computers often – like if you review PCs for a living – you’ll be glad to know of the latest Steam update. Valve has deemed it important that users be able to install multiple games at once with ease. While you’d have been able to jury-rig this in the past, now it’s much, much easier.

Swing Copters is Out and It’s Hard, Here’s How to Avoid the Fakes – Swing Copters is the second game from .GEARS Studios, the one-man dev house that brought you Flappy Bird. Of course, it also took Flappy Bird away a few months later. Swing Copters will, presumably, not be pulled from app stores, but you might wish it was.


Flappy Bird creator updates Swing Copters to make it less impossible – You know a video game is really, really difficult when a developer has to push out an update to make it playable.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Jawbone user data shows how Bay Area ‘quake affected users – One of the neat things about wearables are their ability to give you data about your life and habits. Making personal data available and pertinent is why we enjoy wearable tech, but what if it can be used on a broader scale? Jawbone recently shared data about Bay Area users’ sleep patterns to show the effect an earthquake can have on your sleep.


Spheree lets you watch animated images in full 3D – It’s official: we’re well on the way to a true 3D display. This one, called Spheree, is the work of a team of researchers working together from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, and it’s mesmerising to behold. Like its name suggests, it’s in the shape of a translucent sphere; inside, the viewer can see animations and images that appear to float in the centre; as the viewer moves around, they can see other sides of the object as their perspective changes. And it’s all based on optical illusion.


Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop? – Linus Torvalds wants the Linux desktop. Too bad no one else does. This is never going to get any better, so let’s give it up.

Is MSG really all that bad for you? – A new video from the American Chemical Society’s Reactions YouTube page explains that not only is MSG perfectly safe for the vast majority of people but shows how MSG, or, more accurately glutamate, is found in tons of natural, protein-rich foods. Plus, glutamate occurs naturally within our own bodies as we process and metabolize food. The whole monosodium part of MSG is so we can easily sprinkle it in our foods.


See what it’s like to fly through an aurora in orbit – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been capturing worldview-altering photos of Earth from space for ye ars now, including some beautiful shots of those dancing lights we know as the aurora borealis (or aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere). Now, the European Space Agency has published a new view for the YouTube generation with the breathtaking time-lapse video below.


Something to think about:

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.”

–     J. K. Rowling

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ultimate Settings Panel Released – We are pleased to announce the release of our new utility, Ultimate Settings Panel. We have designed it to be an all in one settings solution for a multitude of configuration options in Windows, Office and Configuration Manager. As it is a first release, there may be some bugs in it or some things that may not quite be perfect – the only way we will fix these bugs and add the extras that you want is if you tell us – so please feel free to contact us or use our Disqus system at the bottom of this post. If you have any good ideas for what we can do to this utility in future releases then we will take them on board and add them if possible.

Ultimate Settings Panel is a tab based utility giving you the option of selecting from a wide range of different configuration options as you can see from the screen shots below:



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google – The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.


The Landmark file: Inside Canadian cyber-security agency’s ‘target the world’ strategy – When Canadian intelligence officials speak about today’s spying, they can reveal great ambition.

Sometimes they speak of wanting to “master the Internet” or even “target the world” before switching to less evocative terms, such as “computer network operations” or CNO.

When pressed whether this is tantamount to “hacking,” they avoid that word.

“We’ve got some bright young kids,” retired spymaster John Adams once told The Globe in an interview. “Virtually everything – 90 per cent of what they do – is CNO now. It opens it up to where they can literally go out and target the world.”

These previously unpublished remarks from Mr. Adams, chief of Communications Security Establishment Canada from 2005 to 2011, seemed cryptic at the time they were spoken late last year.

Yet they are a little less so now.

Recently released material suggest just how very good CSEC may be getting at its job –– avoiding the capture of Canadian communications even as it steps up its capacity to spy on countries around the world.

The German computer magazine c’t has published what appears to be leaked details about a CSEC endeavour called Landmark. The slides, if genuine, showing how Canadian government “network exploitation analysts” actually do their jobs. The article suggests these details show how the Canadians seek to impose the will of their agency – and allied agencies – on thousands, potentially millions, of computers in “as many non 5-Eyes countries as possible.”

The “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance – the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand – is the club of English-speaking nations whose electronic-eavesdropping agencies agree not spy on each other, while working together to keep tabs on the rest of the world.

Australia: Metadata storage wishlist­ revealed – THE Attorney-General’s Department has drawn up a confidential wishlist of the metadata it wants to capture — including financial records, home and ­internet-protocol addresses and download volumes — as part of the government’s plan to ­impose a data-retention scheme on large telecommunications companies.

Confidential consultations with the companies — including Telstra, Optus and iiNet — commenced late last week with the circulation of a paper that has been obtained by The Australian. It articulates for the first time what type of data the ­Attorney-General’s Department wants telecommunications companies and internet service providers to store.

The paper, prepared for “preliminary discussions”, reveals the companies should retain records that would identify the names and addresses of individual internet and telephone ­account holders as well as information to trace and identify the source of a communication and the device used.

Data including when and where communication services originate and terminate have also been included in the wishlist as well as information that would reveal users’ upload and download volumes.

In a sign the government could be widening its net for what type of data is retained, the paper suggests the scheme should be able to capture “any current or historical ­supplementary identification”, which it says could include “date of birth, financial, billing and payment information, other transactional information, or contact information”.

In a significant win for citizens concerned that the new scheme could be used to track the specific pages visited by internet users, the discussion paper states that web histories will not be captured in the new laws.

“Nothing in this data set ­applies to or requires the retention of destination web address identifiers, such as destination IP ­addresses or URLs,” the paper says. “(This) does not apply to or ­require the retention of destination web-address identifiers, such as destination IP addresses or URLs. This exception is intended to ensure that providers of ­retail and wholesale internet ­access services are not required to engage in session-logging.”

Under the proposal all captured data would be required to be kept by telecommunications companies for a maximum of two years.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 26, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 25, 2014

Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate;  How to manage your Google location history;  Report: NSA, GCHQ Agents Secretly Helping Tor Patch Bugs;  5 Chrome tricks for power users; Pepper spray gets a camera with The Defender;  Apple Is Replacing Some iPhone 5 Batteries for Free;  8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone;  Delve into DIY security with these connected cameras;  Want to make Windows 8 feel faster? Shut-off these animations;  Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate;  Can Your Home be Hacked? Possibly;  Sprint announces $60 unlimited plan; RunScribe sensor shows how you run;  The best mobile apps for taking notes;  Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet.

How to use OpenPGP to encrypt your email messages and files in the cloud – Putting sensitive data in email messages or cloud storage should give you the heebie-jeebies, but a good dose of cryptography can give you peace of mind. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or its open-source implementation, OpenPGP, is the gold standard of encryption online, and when used properly, has the potential to thwart even the likes of the NSA.

5 Chrome tricks for power users – Ready to exercise your supreme Chrome skills? Learn how to set your location, easily view cached pages, and more!

Apple Is Replacing Some iPhone 5 Batteries for Free – Some iPhone 5 devices sold between September 2012 and January 2013 have a battery problem leading to a shorter battery life, Apple said Friday. Users experiencing battery issues may have bought one in a series of iPhone 5 devices that were affected by charging problems. Owners of the iPhone 5 who are having issues can input their phone’s serial number on Apple’s page and see if they qualify for a free battery replacement. The replacement is available in the U.S. and China as of Aug. 22, and in other countries as of Aug. 29.

Putting Vine’s new importing and editing tools to the test – Vine’s latest update, which just landed on iOS and will come to Android later, adds some new tools and the long-needed ability to import video shot with other apps. It’s more flexible, but without cluttering up Vine’s minimal interface. I downloaded the new version of Vine onto my iPhone. Here’s what to expect the first time you launch the updated app.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone – I use my smartphone every day, often in the first few minutes I wake up. It’s not because I’m addicted (ok, maybe I am a little bit addicted) – it’s because my phone is so darn useful. It tells me the weather. It helps me avoid and navigate around traffic jams. It helps me keep in touch with my friends. Of course, you probably know all about that stuff. But your smartphone can do some pretty unusual things that you’ve probably never even considered. Here are some of the most amazing, out-there tasks your smartphone can help you conquer.

How to manage your Google location history – Google really is tracking your every move. As creepy as it sounds, it is actually really easy to turn this off and delete the entire location history from Google’s servers. The company even offers a help page for doing so, with the obligatory caveats about differences for specific devices and versions of Android.

The best mobile apps for taking notes – Whether you’re a student taking notes for class this fall or your workday requires that you take notes in meetings, a handy app that makes it easy to jot things down and organize them can be incredibly useful. Even better, with the right note-taking app, you can access your notes on any device so the notes you took on your tablet are easily accessible on your desktop at work and even your smartphone.

Study shows we don’t do one basic thing with our smartphones – Of all the things we can do with our smartphones, a new study points out we’re not doing the most obvious. You can change the channel on your TV, watch a movie, and even get turn-by-turn directions to just about anywhere. Still, we’re not doing that one thing that can make all that worthwhile, or possibly functional at all. We’re not downloading apps.

How to understand Twitter’s bad new direction – Twitter this week made two small changes that indicate a big shift in direction for everybody’s favorite microblogging service. The first was a two-part change: Twitter started suspending the accounts of users who posted a video showing the execution of an American journalist, and it adopted a new policy and process for handling requests from people who ask to have images of deceased family members removed from Twitter. The second is that Twitter now adds tweets to users’ timelines from people they don’t follow. The posts are selected by Twitter for their popularity. These aren’t just isolated changes, but an entirely new direction for Twitter.

How to keep your Android phone’s screen on longer – This simple tip will allow you to set your Android phone or tablet’s screen timeout, and even prevent it from sleeping while it’s charging.

Google Search for Android now understands multiple languages at once – Google’s search on Android works with up to five languages simultaneously without needing to constantly mess with the settings.

My Smart Home Trolled Me – “Motion near upstairs,” the notification says. That’s upstairs in my apartment, the place I was around 2,800 miles away from; on the other side of the country from, in fact. It’s Saturday morning, I’m away for the weekend, and SmartThings is being terribly helpful in notifying me that one of its motion detectors has spotted something unusual. That’s when I start to panic.


Delve into DIY security with these connected cameras – DIY security gives you greater flexibility over your connected home, allowing you to setup each gadget as you see fit and avoid subscription-based services that lock you into a contract. Still, the install-yourself systems vary widely. The all-in-one units typically come with a built-in camera while the accessory-based kits tend to offer them a la carte, as an optional add-on after your initial purchase.


Want to make Windows 8 feel faster? Shut-off these animations – Microsoft’s Windows 8 comes with many performance improvements over that of Windows 7 but it also includes animations that polish up the UI. If you can live without these animations, by turning them off, you can make the OS feel a bit snappier. Sure, it’s mostly a placebo effect seeing that the animations are only there to make transitions a bit smoother, but if you watch the video, you can see how by turning them off, the OS appears to be faster.


Track Icelandic Bardarbunga volcano’s incredible activity with real-time dashboard – If you want to keep an eye on the activity over in Iceland right now, a fantastic dashboard has been created to give you a ton of data. There’s no guarantee that an eruption event is going to happen, but with what are now hundreds of earthquakes a day — including the single most intense earthquake ever recorded in the area – scientists are not counting anything out.


China Telecom leaks the iPhone 6 on Weibo – An official image of the upcoming Apple smartphone gets accidentally revealed by the Chinese carrier on China’s version of Twitter.


How Google Maps led me astray – Google Maps should be the all-knowing geographic assistant that gets me where I need to go. But after some botched navigation on a European vacation, I now have trust issues.

What Microsoft won’t tell you about Windows 7 licensing – If you’re not a lawyer, the subject of Windows licensing can be overwhelmingly confusing. Over many years of studying this stuff, I have learned that Microsoft has buried much of this information in long, dry license agreements and on sites that are available only to partners. Microsoft hasn’t assembled this information in one convenient place, so I decided to do the job myself, gathering details from public and private sources.

(Think you know the license restrictions for your version of Windows? You might be surprised. I run 2 machines with purchased OEM Windows 7 licenses, for example – and, the licenses have extremely restrictive hardware replacement requirements.  These restrictions have been essentially lifted on my Windows 8.1 machine.)


Gmail, other Android apps hacked with 92% success rate – A group of researchers are claiming they’ve been able to hack Gmail and other services with a 92% success rate. Among those found to be vulnerable to the attack were several apps which house important financial info, as well as personal data. The group is set to release their findings at a cybersecurity conference in San Diego soon.

US warns ‘significant number’ of major businesses hit by Backoff malware – More than 1,000 major enterprise networks and small and medium businesses in the U.S. have been compromised by a recently discovered malware package called “Backoff” and are probably unaware of it, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a cybersecurity alert on Friday.

PlayStation Network Suffers DDOS Attack, Hackers Claim To Have Grounded SOE President’s Plane – PlayStation Network is currently experiencing mass outages for North American users, and the reason behind the downtime is a DDOS attack for which hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility. Sony says there haven’t been any personal details leaked in the attack, but the rolling outage persists in various locales, some ten hours or more after the attack began.

Can Your Home be Hacked? Possibly – A security researcher looked at the networked device in his home and wondered if hackers could break in. The answer, as it turned out, was yes, and he is just beginning his investigation. The thing is, you don’t need fancy gadgets or high-tech equipment to have a networked home. A typical home has around five devices connected to the local network which aren’t computers, tablets or cellphones. We are talking peripherals, such as smart TVs, printers, game consoles, network storage devices, satellite receivers, and media players, just to name a few. And Jacoby found that he had quite a few of those devices on his network.

Mobile apps could be abused to make expensive phone calls – A security precaution skipped in mobile applications such as Facebook’s Messenger could be abused to make an expensive phone call at a victim’s expense, a developer contends.

Pepper spray gets a camera with The Defender – Press the button at the top of The Defender and point it at the baddie and it snaps a photo, alerts both the cops and a 24-7 monitoring service that a crime is in progress, and subdues the person with pepper spray. Oh, and it blares an alarm. It’s not quite the same as having a lightsaber katana at your side, but it might be the next best thing.


Breach at US security contractor exposed at least 25,000 workers – USIS, which performs background checks for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that it was hacked earlier this month. The same company vetted Edward Snowden for the government.

Company News:

Inexpensive Windows PCs hit the market with help from Microsoft – Microsoft is helping hardware makers build low-priced Windows PCs to combat Chromebooks, and the early results of that effort are hitting the market. The first PCs featuring Windows 8.1 With Bing were shown at Computex in June. The cheapest is a Lenovo desktop model that costs $225. Laptops start at $249. Microsoft has promised that laptop prices will fall to $199 with HP’s Stream 14 model, which has not been unveiled — though information about it has leaked out.

Sprint announces $60 unlimited plan to woo you away from your carrier – While Sprint may still be the third largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile has been making moves to change that, and is gobbling up users at a rapid pace. In an attempt to regain some sort of relevancy, Sprint has taken a few steps to best T-Mobile, and the latest comes in the form of a new, $60 unlimited plan just two days after it announced its “revamped” family plans.

BlackBerry can pursue contempt of court charge against Ryan Seacrest’s Typo – In a court order on Thursday, a Northern California District Court judge ruled that BlackBerry can pursue a contempt of court charge against Typo, a company co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and CEO Laurence Hallier, which sells a small physical keyboard that attaches to an iPhone. BlackBerry initially sued Typo in January, claiming that Typo’s keyboards look almost exactly like its own. Indeed, Seacrest told CNN in an interview that the Typo “came to fruition” because he wanted to put what he liked about the BlackBerry into an iPhone.


Google acquires Gecko Design to help with crazy Google X ‘moon shots’ – Google has acquired Gecko Design, which will become part of the Internet company’s unit developing cutting-edge products like Glass and balloons for Internet access. Terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed.

Report: Samsung to announce Galaxy Gear 3 next month – Samsung is reportedly about to launch yet another Galaxy Gear smartwatch, this time with a curved display. If you’re keeping score, the Gear 3 would be Samsung’s sixth smartwatch since last September, when the company launched the original Galaxy Gear. Since then, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Gear 2, the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo (which features a slightly different design than the Gear 2 and no camera), the fitness-minded Galaxy Gear Fit and the Android Wear-based Gear Live.


For The First Time, The Majority Of Opera Software’s Revenue Came From Mobile Ads – Opera Software may be best known for the desktop and mobile web browser of the same name, but it’s increasingly becoming a mobile ad company, as shown in a recent blog post about the company’s second quarter earnings report. Opera says that for the first time, its mobile ad division Opera Mediaworks was its largest source of revenue, accounting for 51 percent of the total.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Adult women gamers now double the number of under-18 boys – According to the ESA’s measure of 2013 sales, women ages 18 and over now constitute 36 percent of all measured gamers, compared to boys under the age of 18, who represent 17 percent of the total population. This measure shows a further increase from last year’s count of 31 percent to 19 percent (and that 2013 measure only counted boys 17 and younger, meaning the total boost may be even bigger this year). While males still hold the total gamer-population lead at 52 percent, that is a drop from last year’s count of 55 percent, and the survey’s count of “frequent game purchasers” found that men and women split that category neatly in half. The report also notes a giant boost in women gamers over the age of 50, a group that grew 32 percent in 2013.


Our Favorite Geeky Moments on The Simpsons – Upstart cable channel FXX has acquired the rights to every single episode of The Simpsons, and starting in October, cable customers with FXX will be able to watch episodes on demand via and the FXNow apps. But before Simpsons World makes its debut, FXX is currently running a massive marathon of every Simpsons episode ever aired, in order, plus the The Simpsons Movie after episode 400. Things kicked off on Thursday, and will run until Sept. 1 at 12 a.m. ET, which FXX said will be the longest-running marathon in TV history. As you watch this week’s Simpsons marathon, be on the lookout for the episodes featured in our slideshow, where Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Maggie tackle cell phones, gaming, sentient house guests, and more.


Gallery: Taking a look back at some choice Sierra gaming moments – Sierra was the unquestioned king of PC gaming though the mid-’90s, and the company continued to turn out solid hits even as the decade waned. However, a series of unfortunate events started in 1996 with the company’s sale to CUC International. More restructuring followed, and in 1998 the news broke that Sierra’s parent company—now called Cendant Corporation after a merger with HFS Incorporated—had been falsifying its accounting records to hide hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. As a direct result of these losses, most of the remaining legacy Sierra employees lost their jobs on February 22, 1999, in what came to be know as Chainsaw Monday.


Swing Copters clones slam Play Store, knock down game’s ranking – Swing Copters, the latest game from Flappy Birds creator Dong Nguyen, has already spawned hundreds of knock-off apps, and Google has been busy purging them from the Play Store. These games were released ahead of the official app, being created on what Nguyen revealed in the game’s teaser video.


AMD introduces the R9 285, its latest Radeon graphics card – AMD touts the R9 285 as being faster than the Nvidia GTX 760, and says that it “designed it for a single purpose: to play demanding PC games at maximum detail better than any card in its class.” We’ll have to wait and see if AMD’s claims hold up in the real world, though. The Radeon R9 will be available for purchase on September 2nd, and it’ll set you back $249.


Off Topic (Sort of):

RunScribe sensor shows how you run – Running is the favorite activity for many fitness enthusiasts, and to help show those runners how they run is the runScribe from Scribe Labs. The runScribe is a small sensor that attaches to the back of one’s shoe, gathering data and transforming it into a three-dimensional view of how a person runs. Unlike some other running sensors, the runScribe aims to provide detailed information on how a runner’s foot moves throughout the running cycle, doing so with the use of a 9-axis sensor. This information is fed into the system’s kinematic engine, which pumps out a total of 13 metrics.


Legalized Marijuana: A Silk database of the legal status of cannabis in every US State – This site was created with Silk, a platform for collections of information. We have collected the available data from Wikipedia, PriceOfWeed and the FBI to create this Silk.

Why Are PC Sales Up And Tablet Sales Down? – When iPads first came out, they were hailed as the undoing of the PC. Finally, a cheap and reliable computing device for the average user instead of the complicated, quirky PC. After a few years of strong growth for iOS and Android tablets and a corresponding decrease in PC sales, the inverse is suddenly true: PC sales are up and tablet sales are “crashing”. What happened?

British man sentenced to nearly three years in prison for movie piracy – On Thursday, 25-year-old Philip Danks was sentenced to 33 months in jail by a Wolverhampton judge for pirating a copy of Fast and Furious 6. Danks bragged that he was the first person in the world to seed the illicit recording, which he recorded from the back of a local cinema in May 2013. His upload was downloaded around 700,000 times. The film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, argued to the judge that Danks’ upload cost the company about £2.5 million. Danks had also sold DVD copies of the movie for £1.50 each. He said his total profit from the scheme was about £1,000.

Four students invented nail polish that detects date rape drugs – Checking to see if your drink has been tampered with is about to get a whole lot more discreet. Thanks to the work of four North Carolina State University undergrads, you’ll soon be able to find out without reaching for a testing tool. That’s because you’ll already have five of them on each hand.


Biovigil targets hospital handwashing with color-coded badges – Proper hand washing is a simple, yet vitally important task, especially when it comes to doctors and nurses. The occurrence of infections in patients that result after admittance is high, and in a bid to help solve this problem, Biovigil has unveiled a color-coded badge and sensor system that shames doctors that don’t scrub up. The sensor-toting Biovigil system uses traffic-light colors — green, yellow, and red — to shown the frequency that a doctor or nurse washes their hands. It works in conjunction with a badge the worker clips to his or her shirt, which communicates with infrared sensors put in hospital rooms.


Incredible Ghost boat is perfect Bond villain runabout – It looks like a half-submerged X-Wing, or maybe a Star Trek Shuttle, but it’s actually Ghost, one American start-up’s vision for what an attack helicopter designed for the navy might look like. Mustering 4,000 HP from two engines on the end of powered legs, Ghost promises to whip across the ocean in a supercavitation bubble, avoiding radar and with a silky smooth ride for the crew inside


Can Big Data Improve Policing and Save Lives? – The nation is being forced to have a conversation about race and policing – again. The recent deaths of unarmed black males at the hands of white police officers are not isolated incidents. The problem is pervasive. A recent Mother Jones article points to four incidents in the past month alone. Police brutality, like rape and child abuse, is not new to society. What is new is our awareness thanks to social media and the cacophony of the 24-hour news cycle. My instincts about technology say that there is another side to this story. Social media can amplify a story and send it around the world faster than we can blink, but what about before an incident happens? Therein lies an opportunity.

Something to think about:

“When you go to buy, use your eyes, not your ears.”

–      Czech Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

CPU-Z – CPU-Z is a freeware that gathers information on some of the main devices of your system.


Name and number.

Core stepping and process.


Core voltage.

Internal and external clocks, clock multiplier.

Supported instructions sets.

Cache information.


Vendor, model and revision.

BIOS model and date.

Chipset (northbridge and southbridge) and sensor.

Graphic interface.


Frequency and timings.

Module(s) specification using SPD (Serial Presence Detect) : vendor, serial number, timings table.


DVDVideoSoft Free Studio – Free Studio is a single package which bundles all free software from DVDVideoSoft to work with DVD, video and audio files!

With this free software you can convert video and audio files between different formats and to iPod, PSP, iPhone, BlackBerry and other portable devices; burn and rip DVDs and audio CDs; upload and download videos and music to your computer, iPod, PSP, iPhone and BlackBerry; perform basic editing of audio and video files.

Tools included:

Free YouTube Download

Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

Free YouTube to iPod and PSP Converter

Free YouTube to iPhone Converter

Free YouTube to DVD Converter

Free YouTube Uploader

Free DVD Video Converter

Free Video to DVD Converter

Free Video to Flash Converter

Free 3GP Video converter

Free Video to iPod and PSP Converter

Free Video to iPhone Converter

Free Video to MP3 Converter

Free Video to JPG Converter

Free Audio Converter

Free Audio to Flash Converter

Free DVD Video Burner

Free Disc Burner

Free Audio CD Burner

Free DVD Decrypter

Free Audio CD to MP3 Converter

Free Screen Video Recorder

Free Video Dub

Free Audio Dub


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Report: NSA, GCHQ Agents Secretly Helping Tor Patch Bugs – Tor is a Web tool intended to help you navigate the Web undetected. Government officials have reportedly been using bugs in the system to root out the devious activity of criminals, stop whistleblowers, or just invade your privacy.

But Andrew Lewman, executive director of The Tor Project, believes that some employees at the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ, its U.K. counterpart, are secretly informing Tor about vulnerabilities within its system to prevent their colleagues from using it to spy.

In an interview with BBC News, Lewman said Tor has received bug reports from security agencies on a monthly basis. But he acknowledged that Tor’s security controls make it impossible for him to know exactly who sent the data – or if the NSA and GCHQ are actually behind it. “It’s a hunch,” he told the BBC.

“You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don’t get to see in most commercial software,” he said. “And the fact that we take a completely anonymous bug report allows them to report to us safely.”

Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet – Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives — and the laws that protect it. “Your rights matter,” he says, “because you never know when you’re going to need them.” Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.


Bush and Obama Spurred Edward Snowden to Spill U.S. Secrets – Before Edward Snowden joined Daniel Ellsberg and Chelsea Manning in the annals of American whistleblowers, he was a young man who witnessed the attacks of September 11, 2001, and enthusiastically volunteered to join the national-security state. Back then, he believed in the wisdom of the War in Iraq, saw the National Security Agency as a force for good, and hoped to serve within the system. Since his first interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, we’ve known that he gradually lost faith in the federal government, believed it to be engaged in illegal, immoral acts, and decided to gather and leak some of its secrets.

One of the most comprehensive narratives of what specifically prompted his transition from insider to conscientious objector appears in the recently published interview he granted to James Bamford, author of several books on the NSA. Whether one believes Snowden’s leaks to be salutary or deeply regrettable, it’s useful to understand and grapple with what prompted him to act as he did, especially as the Obama administration works to make future leaks less likely. One method for preventing leaks that hasn’t been discussed: Run a federal government that carries out fewer morally and legally objectionable actions in secret.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 22, 2014

The top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android;  How to improve battery life on any mobile device;  The best free Android apps for students;  68 percent of top free Android apps vulnerable to cyberattack;  5 excuses for doing nothing about computer security!  Walmart Slashes iPhone 5c, 5s Prices;  The 6 best tablets for getting work done in 2014;  Browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers;  Check Out a Real-Time Map of Spotify Listening;  Five free point of sale apps to optimize your business;  Netflix alternatives: These 7 services are the closest you’ll get;  ‘Facebook Drug Task Force’ hoax cranks up the paranoia;  Have a company laptop? Here’s how to keep your browsing private;  Why your brain just can’t handle video games;  Every Simpsons Episode Ever starts today on FXX;  Microsoft has 8 reasons you shouldn’t buy a Chromebook;  8 Email Fails That Will Make You Cringe.

The top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android – You may think you’re a high-tech power user who knows all the nooks and crannies of Windows, iOS, and Android, but let’s be realistic: There could be at least a few undocumented (or poorly documented) commands, control panels, and apps that have slipped by you—maybe more than a few. We’ve dived deep into each OS to uncover the best hidden tips and tricks that can make you more productive—or make common tasks easier. Got a favorite undocumented tip to share with readers? Add them in the comments section at the end of the article.

5 excuses for doing nothing about computer security! – Here are five security excuses that we hear a lot, both from individuals and from small businesses. We’ve given you some advice to help you argue back that security really does matter.

Achieving Anonymity Online Remains Difficult Despite Evolving Privacy Tools – Some things are best kept secret. But when it comes to your online activities, can you ever truly conceal your identity? A variety of tools and best practices can help you achieve some level of privacy when surfing the web, but it is nearly impossible to ensure that your online activities remain completely anonymous. Whether you’re intent on evading every government snoop, or just curious about how much information you’re giving out as you visit your favorite sites, it’s important to know just how public your online behavior can be.

How to improve battery life on any mobile device – Poor battery life is a problem that affects all mobile users. Despite which kind of mobile device you prefer, battery life tends to be an issue that we all face. Understanding what is draining your smartphone or tablet will help you squeeze the best possible battery life out of your device.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Get productive in the new school year with the best free Android apps for students – It’s time to load up your Android phone or tablet with the right apps for getting things done and staying organized. Google Play is stocked with many excellent tools that will free you from having to do every piece of schoolwork on a computer. The following apps will turn you into a taskmaster, with excellent choices for notetaking, editing files, and collaborating with your classmates.

New browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers – Native advertising and sponsored content is a big trend at news sites these days. A new browser extension helps let you know when what you’re reading is not editorial content.

Walmart Slashes iPhone 5c, 5s Prices – Walmart is offering Apple’s colorful iPhone 5c lineup for less than $1, but before you run to your local Walmart and start buying all the 5c phones you can find, it’s not simple. It’s true, Walmart is indeed selling the iPhone 5c for $0.97. But that super-low price requires a two-year service agreement for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or U.S. Cellular. Previously, the smartphone was selling for $29—a fairly good deal itself, given that the iPhone 5c starts at $99 if you’re buying it directly from Apple (with the same two-year service deal).

The 6 best tablets for getting work done in 2014 – A few years ago, it was easy to scoff at the idea of using tablets for productivity. The hardware was too weak, and the software was too limited, so turning a tablet into a work device made sense only for a few fringe users. While it’s a lot easier now to use tablets for productivity, some are still better for work than others. Here are six tablets that are best-equipped for the job.


Netflix alternatives: These 7 services are the closest you’ll get – What makes Netflix so worth using is the massive back catalog of movies and TV shows that are offered up in an all-you-can-watch format through just about everything with a screen and an Internet connection. Plus, almost every device has a Netflix app, and those apps are capable of doing some technically impressive things when it comes to making sure you are getting the best possible video on your device. Netflix is not the be-all-end-all in streaming video though, so if you’re looking for an alternative you should be aware of just how many Netflix alternatives exist today.

Check Out a Real-Time Map of Spotify Listening – Ever wonder if someone else in the world is doing the exact same thing you’re doing at this very moment? Like, if you just pressed play on that catchy song “Stolen Dance,” what are the odds that someone else across the globe did too? It’s a pretty trippy thing to think about and now Spotify is giving us a visual of this phenomenon in action. The music streaming service is celebrating the way music unites us all with a new project, dubbed Serendipity, which visualizes simultaneous music listening worldwide.


Microsoft has 8 reasons you shouldn’t buy a Chromebook – Microsoft thinks the new generation of cheap Windows laptops are superior to Chromebooks. Ok, so that doesn’t shock anyone, but maybe you’d like to know why Microsoft thinks that way. It turns out they’ve posted a helpful little list on their website. No, they don’t resort to those silly Scroogle tactics. It’s a pretty straight up list. While both Windows laptops and Chromebooks let you surf the web and run web-based apps, here’s where Microsoft says Chromebooks fall flat:


Opera Mini Now Default Browser on Microsoft Feature Phones – Microsoft and Opera inked a licensing deal that will make Opera Mini the default browser on mobile phones based on the Series 30+, Series 40, and Asha platforms. Those already using Nokia’s Xpress browser on these handsets will be encouraged to make the switch to Opera. New devices, meanwhile, will come with Opera Mini pre-installed.


Vemory Automatically Compiles Video Memories From Your Social Media Photos – Vemory is an app that automatically configures all of your images — not just the ones from your camera roll, but the content you’ve posted to Facebook, Instagram, etc. — to create beautiful videos between 60 seconds and two minutes. But the compelling part of the app is that you can go from having no video compilations to having a dozen or more, all from simply signing up.


Microsoft’s Windows 9 Unveil Said To Be Coming September 30 – Windows 9 has been leaked, and seems to show a backing away from the aggressively touch-focused Windows 8, with a mini start menu and dropping of the Charms bar, but we’ll get a better look September 30, according to the Verge. The blog reports Microsoft is planning an official unveiling of what’s next for its desktop OS for that date, with a technology preview available for early adopters following quickly after that.


Google now removing 1 million links per day thanks to DMCAs – Google’s search engine crawls all corners of the web on a daily basis and because it is so massive, there are millions of links that copyright owners would prefer to have removed from the company’s search index. The requests are now coming in so frequently, that every 8 milliseconds Google is receiving a takedown request, compared to one request per six days back in 2008. The information comes from Google’s Transparency Report which indicates that last week alone, 7.8 million links were removed, and as you can see from the graph, the trend is only rising with the spike during the last few days.


Five free point of sale apps to optimize your business – Running a retail business is no walk in the park; many aspects of the business demand your attention. However, selecting and maintaining a point of sale system shouldn’t be one of them. A simple point of sale system should include some of the basic features, like inventory and register, and run without much intervention. When a point of sale system is free or low-cost, it becomes even more attractive. Here are five free point of sale apps for the web and desktop.

5 Cheap Must-Have Apps for Back to School – Once you’ve picked out a tablet or laptop for your student, it’s time to grab the software that will make it the most useful. We’ve found the best cheap apps and programs to help kids study, work more efficiently and keep up with their assignments.


Have a company laptop? Here’s how to keep your browsing private – Your employer may let you take a company laptop home, but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking over your shoulder.

Stealing encryption keys through the power of touch – Researchers from Tel Aviv University have demonstrated an attack against the GnuPG encryption software that enables them to retrieve decryption keys by touching exposed metal parts of laptop computers.


68 percent of top free Android apps vulnerable to cyberattack, researchers claim – After analyzing the 1,000 most-downloaded free Android applications in the Google Play store, the FireEye Mobile Security Team found that a significant portion of them are susceptible to Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks. According to a blog post published Thursday, the researchers found that as of July 17, 2014, 674 out of 1,000 contained at least one of three SSL vulnerabilities studied. In other words, 68 percent of the most popular apps could become a pathway for cybercriminals to lift sensitive data.

‘Facebook Drug Task Force’ hoax cranks up the paranoia – Just in time for Facebook’s newly announced “Satire” tag, a satirical news site brings us Facebook’s corporate police force, replete with assault weapons and anti-bomb vehicles, transporting their first two busted users to the nation’s first corporate jail – which is in Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, of course.

US universities at greater risk for security breaches than retail and healthcare: BitSight – A new report says the majority of attacks experienced by higher education institutions come from malware infections, and most universities are ill equipped to prevent and handle such attacks.

Create an IT risk assessment program for SMBs – It’s only a matter of time before most SMBs will experience a compromised IT infrastructure. To minimize the fallout from a data breach, SMBs should begin an IT risk assessment program. (registration required.)

Company News:

Aereo loses appeal to be recognized as cable operator – Aereo’s fight for survival was dealt a setback Thursday when a federal court rejected the streaming television service’s argument that it should be recognized as a cable-TV service.

Xiaomi, Ouya ink deal to bring Android games to China – Ouya, which is trying in earnest to make a home on your living room shelf, has inked a deal with Xiaomi to bring their software to the Chinese market. An agreement between the two was confirmed by Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman and Xiaomi executives. Though not a hardware distribution agreement, the deal will see the Ouya platform on various Xiaomi devices.

Amazon’s latest business move: Shanghai’s free-trade zone – Amazon announced today that it will be coming to the Shanghai free-trade zone soon, something that will potentially boost its sales in China. According to the Internet retailer, a deal has been penned with the related authorities, and it is slated to launch a logistics warehouse to “experiment with financial innovation,” among other things.

Mozilla expands ad experiment to many more Firefox users – The current “directory tile” ad experiment shows only for new Firefox users. A new “enhanced tile” program to launch soon will mean existing users can see some ads, too.

China Telecom to sell unlocked iPhone 6 – China Telecom said it will unlock the next-generation iPhone by supporting the SIM cards of the other two major telecom players in the market.

Games and Entertainment:

Every Simpsons Episode Ever starts today on FXX – Back when FX purchased the rights to the entire Simpsons back-catalog, it was instantly clear what they’d planned to do with it. Show every single episode of The Simpsons in order. The one true Simpsons Marathon begins (or began, depending on when you’re reading this) today at 10:00 AM Eastern Time and runs non-stop through the first of September.


Shadowgate review: This castle still wants to kill you, 25 years later – Shadowgate is unapologetically retro, bringing the difficulty of the original Shadowgate into 2014 and barely softening the blow in the process. It’s fantastic.


Temporarily Free games hit PC and Xbox One: Titanfall, Max – It appears to be the dawn of the “temporarily free” games here this summer from both Microsoft’s Xbox One division and EA Games’ Origin group. What you’ll be seeing from Origin first is Titanfall, while the Xbox One program is in beta testing with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.


Xbox One getting Free Play Day with Gold feature – One of the incentives for subscribing to EA’s new Access service is the ability to play new or pre-release games early for a limited time. Now it looks as though Microsoft is going to introduce a similar feature for gamers who sign up for Xbox Live Gold on the Xbox One.


The gorgeous computer interfaces of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ – The CG company responsible for the UIs in “Guardians of the Galaxy” has released a showreel highlighting its stunning work.


Disney goes after Clash of Clans with new Star Wars game – Walt Disney thinks the force is strong with this one. The company unveiled a new strategy game Thursday called Star Wars Commander. The title, which Disney worked on for about 18 months in collaboration with Lucasfilm, mimics the popular Supercell game Clash of Clans, which encourages players to build up armies and towns in an effort to battle one another.


Why your brain just can’t handle video games – This video from host and writer Anthony Carboni explains the many ways our brains just completely suck at video games. From the 80-millisecond delay between the time we see something onscreen and our brain processes that information, to how our brain uses sensory gating to filter out things that your brain deems unimportant, our brains are hardwired in such a way that we sometimes struggle during periods of intense focus, like when gaming. So the next time you want to curse the game, controller, or other players when you die in a video game, just remember that the problem is probably your brain.


Off Topic (Sort of):

8 Email Fails That Will Make You Cringe – An embarassing email snafu can happen to anyone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t delight in the digital misfortunes of others. The 40-year history of email has bseen plenty of Email Fails, but here are eight recent mega-mishaps that we’re happy didn’t happen to us.

Android fragmentation charted: 18,796 different devices in use – It seems like each week, we learn of a new Android device coming out. It probably feels that way because it is that way, and a new report only highlights just how bad the issue is. According to Open Signal, there are nearly 20,000 Android devices in the wild, up from almost 12,000 last year. To be clear, I’ll note the actual number is 18,796 devices in 2014, compared to 11,868 this time last year.

Monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted, US regulators say – United States copyright regulators are agreeing with Wikipedia’s conclusion that a monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted by a nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the jungle. The animal’s selfie went viral. The US Copyright Office, in a 1,222-page report discussing federal copyright law, said that a “photograph taken by a monkey” is unprotected intellectual property.


Watch the Red Bull RB8 race in infrared – Modern technology has allowed us to get glimpses of many cool things we wouldn’t ordinarily see, and Red Bull’s new infrared racing video may be near the top of the list. FLIR Thermography, in partnership with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, has used its cameras to capture footage of F1 racers in infrared.


ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora website after Twitter ban – Medieval terror bastards ISIS have moved from Twitter to the non-profit social network Diaspora to spew their cant – and there’s apparently nothing that can be done to stop them.

Analysis of Ferguson tweets shows Twitter’s quick grip on the news – Roughly 146,000 posts related to the shooting were published to Twitter on Saturday, Aug. 9, the day Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Pew researchers found. MSNBC and Fox did not devote prime-time coverage to the shooting and the surrounding events until Monday, with 21 minutes and 6 minutes of coverage a piece, respectively. CNN began its prime-time coverage on Tuesday, with 24 minutes.

Something to think about:

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

–      Shel Silverstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

VideoCacheView – After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.

It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.

Using VideoCacheView:

VideoCacheView doesn’t require any installation process or additional DLL files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file (VideoCacheView.exe)

After running VideoCacheView, it scan the cache folders of your Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers, as well as the temporary folder of Windows. Wait 5 – 30 seconds until the scanning process is finished, and the main window of VideoCacheView should display all the video files that are currently in cache.

After the video list is displayed, you can use one of the following options, assuming that the video files are stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = Yes):

Play Selected File: Allows you to play the video file directly from the cache, assuming that you have a video player that is configured to play .flv files.

Copy Selected Files To: Allows to copy the video files from the cache into another folder, so you will be able to play them in the future.

If you have a video file that is not stored in the cache (‘In Cache’ = No), you can use the ‘Open Download URL In Browser’ option (F8) in order to download the video file. You can also use the ‘Copy Download URLs’ option (Ctrl+U) to copy the download URLs to the clipboard, and then use then in your browser or in other download software.

Be aware that some Web sites may not allow you to download a video file in this way.

Flash Video Files In Temporary Folder

Each time that a Web browser plays a Flash video file, the .flv file is saved into the temporary folder of Windows. Normally, you cannot copy this temporary file to another folder, because the flash player locks the file exclusively. Also the file is automatically deleted when you close the Web browser.

Starting from version 1.10, VideoCacheView displays the flash files in the temporary folder, and allows you to copy them into another folder. VideoCacheView can handle temporary flash files created by Internet Explorer, Mozilla/Firefox, Opera Web browser. Be aware that you must wait until the browser finish to download them. otherwise, the copied files will be corrupted.

Playing Video Files Directly From The Cache

Most Web sites today use Flash video files (.flv extension) for playing video inside the Web page. VideoCacheView doesn’t provide a build-in video player, but if you already have a video player that is configured to play .flv files, VideoCacheView will be able to use it for playing the video files directly from the Web browser’s cache.


GlassWire – GlassWire displays your network activity on an easy to understand graph while searching for unusual Internet behavior that could indicate malware or violations of your privacy. Once unusual network activity is discovered you’re instantly alerted with detailed information so you can protect your computer, privacy, and data.


Network Monitor

Visualize your current and past network activity by traffic type, application, and geographic location, on an easy to use graph. GlassWire lets you see what applications are sending out data over the Internet and shows you what hosts they are communicating with.

Internet Security

GlassWire adds extra Internet security to your computer or server by visualizing all past and present network data in an easy to understand graph. Instantly see every application or process communicating over the Internet, then dive in deeper to see who or what your computer is communicating with.

Bandwidth Usage Monitor

Keeping track of your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth usage is easy with GlassWire. Go to the usage tab to see what apps, traffic, or hosts are using the most bandwidth.

Internet Privacy Protection

GlassWire shows all your network activity on an easy to use graph to help protect your Internet privacy. Easily see what apps are sending out data to the Internet and what host in what country they are communicating with. When you visit a website click the graph to see every server that your computer communicated with while that web page loaded.

Remote Server Monitoring

GlassWire installs easily on servers so you can monitor their network activity on your local computer via our remote access feature. Go to GlassWire’s settings and choose “remote server” to logon to your server after you have installed GlassWire on your local computer and remote server.

Discreet Alerts

We specifically designed the GlassWire alert system so it wasn’t annoying to users. GlassWire alerts appear briefly and then disappear into the background.

Network Time Machine

Use the sliders to go back in time and analyze past network activity on the graph. Check your bandwidth usage by day, week, and month in detail with resolved hosts.


System Explorer – System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.


Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support


Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Edward Snowden story to be told at Museum of Sydney – In June 2013, US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked sensational details of global surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

The Snowden files revealed a number of programs undertaken by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ that enabled those agencies to collect information stored by major US technology companies, as well as intercepting data from the fibre-optic cables which make up the backbone of global phone and internet networks.

The revelations prompted a groundbreaking series of articles and an international debate about national security, individual privacy and the meaning and value of metadata. These subjects have sprung to the very centre of political debate in Australia where, on 3 September, the story of Snowdon’s extraordinary whistleblowing will be shared for the first time on a Sydney stage by one of the key journalists involved.

Guardian journalist Luke Harding, author of The Snowden Files book, will reveal to David Marr his experiences researching and writing about the Edward Snowden case, including some truly bizarre encounters with global intelligence agencies, as well discussing the implications for public interest journalism and free speech. The Guardian and the Washington Post were jointly awarded the 2014 Pulitzer prize for public service for their coverage of the NSA’s activities.

This free event at the Museum of Sydney, co-hosted by Guardian Australia and the Brisbane Writers Festival, will be a fascinating conversation about Snowden and the swirling nexus between public interest, political censorship and national security.

Those TSA scanners were literally only good for seeing you naked – The full-body X-ray scanners only retired last year amid long-standing concerns that they intruded on privacy by showing travelers naked were also riddled with security loopholes, new research claims. The TSA used the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner between 2009 and 2013 in airports across the US, but computer scientists have demonstrated that with a little preparation the machine could miss knives, guns, and even explosives from being smuggled onto planes.


The primary NSA issue isn’t privacy, it’s authority – I celebrate Judge Richard J Leon’s opinion that the government’s mass collection of communications metadata is “almost Orwellian”, and I decry Judge William H Pauley III’s decision that the NSA’s collection is both effective and legally perfectly peachy.

But I worry that the judges, as well as many commentators and Edward Snowden himself, may be debating on the wrong plane. I see some danger in arguing the case as a matter of privacy because I fear that could have serious impact on our concept of knowledge, of what is allowed to be known and thus of freedom of speech. Instead, I think this is an argument about authority – not so much what government (or anyone else) is allowed to know but what government, holding unique powers, is allowed to do with what it knows.

Indeed, the Fourth Amendment, which is often called upon in this argument, is explicitly about controlling authority:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In the search for a legally protected right to privacy in the United States, begun with Brandeis and Warren in 1890, the Fourth Amendment has been interpreted as affording privacy protection as have the First Amendment (freedom of belief) and the Fifth (freedom against self-incrimination). In each case, though, the right is not so much for something – privacy – as against something – namely, government abuse.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 21, 2014

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi;  Vine Finally Lets You Import Video From Your Camera Roll;  Kid-friendly apps that bring internet safety to Android;  App for beating jet lag takes off;  Coming soon: No-name tablets priced under $35;  Feds Release Vehicle Recall Search Tool;  30-Second Tech Trick: How to Avoid iPhone Data Overage Charges;  16 tips for Mac users who must use Windows;  Parallels Desktop 10 – better Windows-Mac integration;  Researchers find it’s terrifyingly easy to hack traffic lights;  NFL Now officially lands on Apple TV;  The best-sounding music of 2014, so far (pictures);  Steve Ballmer’s 5 greatest YouTube hits;  Meet John Tye: the kinder, gentler, and by-the-book whistleblower;  Auslogics Browser Care (free).

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi – Stuck without a data connection on the road? Free public Wi-Fi is one of those little luxuries that can make travelling easier, but you do need to exercise caution in how you use it. Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Vine Finally Lets You Import Video From Your Camera Roll – With more than 100 million people watching Vines across the web each month, and over 1 billion loops played every day, Vine has just released an update to the app that finally lets users import video from their camera. Twitter’s video sharing app has always required users to film new content directly within the app, using Vine’s once-unique hold-to-record feature. Now, Vine users can import video that they shot on their phone, or video they downloaded from friends or Dropbox, etc.

Kid-friendly apps that bring internet safety to Android – Whether you are the kind of parent who hands over your smartphone in the grocery store so your kid can watch Netflix while you shop or you’ve already given Junior his first tablet, chances are good you have at least considered some kind of software to act as a barrier between the raw, unfiltered internet and your child. How much control you decide to wield over your child usually depends on age and your own computer literacy, and thankfully there’s no shortage of apps out there for you to install.

Coming soon: No-name tablets priced under $35 – Tablets with low-resolution screens are already selling for $45 on Amazon, many of which have single- or dual-core processors from a Chinese chip company called Allwinner. But the prices could fall under $35 when Allwinner ships its “fully formed” quad-core A33 chip for only $4, said analyst firm Linley Group in a newsletter this week. The chip’s quad-core processors will deliver better performance than older chips, and be capable of supporting 1280 x 800 displays, the analyst group said. The chip is based on ARM’s Cortex-A7 design and has a Mali-400MP2 GPU, which is capable of rendering high-definition video.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

App for beating jet lag takes off – As the summer winds down and you squeeze in that last international vacation, let tech help you bounce back to school or work. In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi reports on a simple app that can help you overcome exhaustion and get back on schedule.

Sync files wirelessly between your PC and Android with MyPhoneExplorer – USB file transfers between devices are a thing of the past. Find out how you can synchronize files wirelessly instead.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Avoid iPhone Data Overage Charges – There’s nothing quite like the feeling of blowing through your data plan.


The best educational software for students – We give you 10 great productivity programs that are perfect for students. They’ll help you improve your schoolwork, study more efficiently, and manage your hectic schedule.

How to record phone calls – With all the recent kerfuffle over Comcast’s horrendous customer service (and the recorded calls that let the world share in the unpleasantness), it stands to reason you might wonder how to record a phone call of your own. After all, if you’re on the receiving end of such disastrously bad service, you might want audio proof. Of course, there are other, more innocuous, reasons for recording calls, like if you’re interviewing someone for a story. Whatever your plans, there are plenty of tools available. Before you use any of them, however, make sure you’re legally allowed to do so.

Twitter Is Suspending Accounts For Sharing Beheading Images And Videos – The word comes from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo who announced the company’s actions in a tweet on Wednesday morning, several hours after the shocking video appeared on YouTube and suddenly went viral. This action comes as Twitter users called for a solution to the graphic images suddenly appearing in feeds. Twitter and YouTube users have also called for a media blackout of the beheading video and images, attempting to not give the group behind the horrific act the attention they crave.

Listen to YouTube right now with these 4 apps – You want a solution to listen to music via YouTube right now. Luckily, there are apps available right now that can provide at least some of the functionality Music Key is said to deliver. The following apps can all play the audio from YouTube videos in the background, which is really what you want to do, right? They range from full-fledged YouTube app replacements to simplified solutions that do a lot less.

Feds Release Vehicle Recall Search Tool – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today unveiled a free online search tool that helps consumers determine if a vehicle is impacted by a recall. Whether you’re simply concerned about your own car, or are in the market for a new ride, visit, where all major light vehicle and motorcycle brands are catalogued.


16 tips for Mac users who must use Windows – I was forced to use a Windows PC the other day. It was a shock, particularly because search engines generally generate tips for switching from Windows to Mac when queried on this. It made me suspect Mac users may sometimes need a little help when they use Windows because they can’t get to a Mac. I assembled these short tips to help such temporary migrants.

Parallels Desktop 10 brings Yosemite support, better Windows-Mac integration – Parallels has spent a lot of time fine-tuning performance in this newest version, yielding improvements like 30-percent more battery life for MacBook users, 60-percent faster loading of snapshots, 50-percent faster performance from Office 2014 apps, and 48-percent speedier opening of Windows files. The virtualization software will also make better use of both your disk space and memory, using only what it needs of the former (and, thanks to real-time optimization, cleaning up as it goes), and reducing use of the latter by up to 10-percent less.


Kuddle, An Instagram With Training Wheels, Introduces Social Media To Kids – A new mobile application called Kuddle is introducing a safer way for kids to get introduced to social media, while still under a parent’s watchful eye. The photo-sharing app, which is like a more restricted version of Instagram, allows children to post and share photos with friends in a protected environment, safe from cyberbullying or unwanted connections from strangers.


Google’s 360-Degree Photo Sphere App Lands on iOS – The app lets users contribute their own 360-degree photos to Google Maps: Just stand in one place, point the viewfinder at a dot on the screen, then move and tilt your phone until each orange circle has been captured. Then watch as an animated Street View character helps to stitch together your shots for a full-circle picture. You can publish the image publicly in the Google Maps Views section, or post your diorama to social networks like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.


Bing now sports over 100 cities with Streetside and 3D imagery views – Microsoft’s mapping service, while not as well known as Google Maps, is quite impressive. The platform has imagery from all over the world and Bing is letting the world know that its maps now have Streetside view and 3D imagery for over 100 cities. The content is now live and along with these updates, there is more high resolution imagery that covers 150 countries on every continent of the world. Speaking of high resolution imagery, the maps will likely get even more detailed in the future when the WorldView 3 satellite starts snapping photos.

The Pac-12 Networks Are Going Live On YouTube Internationally – The Pac-12 conference is launching a live YouTube channel for international fans, featuring 24×7 coverage of the conference’s sports teams. Fans in 27 countries will be able to watch live games, studio shows, and re-broadcasts of games on the Pac-12 Network on YouTube starting on August 26.


Report: Researchers Spoof TSA Airport Scanners – Security scanners used until recently by TSA personnel at U.S. airports reveal plenty of naughty bits, just not the naughty bits they were supposed to be detecting to keep the airways safe. At least that’s the conclusion reached by researchers from several universities who spent months testing Rapiscan Secure 1000 full-body X-ray scanners used until last year by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airport security checkpoints. The research team found that the scanners were great at outlining people’s private parts, but not nearly as effective at detecting weapons and bomb-making materials artfully hidden on their bodies.



New ZeroLocker crypto-ransomware offers discount for paying up quickly – or $1,000 in Bitcoin – Researchers this week identified yet another piece of crypto-ransomware for Windows machines called ZeroLocker. Like its predecessors, such as CryptoLocker, the malware encrypts files on infected machines with a strong encryption algorithm. The attackers then demand the victim pay a sum of money in order to buy the decryption key. ZeroLocker has borrowed a few techniques from CryptoLocker to coerce victims to cough up payments early, according to Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab.


7 Scary Things Employees Can Do With Their Mobile Devices – Let’s say you’re in charge of making IT decisions for a large company. You’ve got lots of employees, many of whom like the idea of being able to access work materials on their mobile devices. Some even want to use their own personal phones and tablets as part of a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) scheme. What’s the worst that could happen? Check out these worst-case scenarios and arm yourself with the right tools for mobile device management (MDM).

Researchers find it’s terrifyingly easy to hack traffic lights – Taking over a city’s intersections and making all the lights green to cause chaos is a pretty bog-standard Evil Techno Bad Guy tactic on TV and in movies, but according to a research team at the University of Michigan, doing it in real life is within the realm of anyone with a laptop and the right kind of radio. In a paper published this month, the researchers describe how they very simply and very quickly seized control of an entire system of almost 100 intersections in an unnamed Michigan city from a single ingress point.


A typical intersection configuration.

New attacks secretly use smartphone cameras, speakers and microphones – Do you regard your smartphone cameras and speakers as a security threat? You might after checking out presentations from the 8th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT). If you were a target, you would neither see, nor hear the stealthy smartphone hacks happening.

Slapdash SSL code puts tons of top Android Play Store apps in hack peril – Sloppy programming, poor patching, and unreliable trust engines are rife within Android apps, according to a new study. In short, millions smartphone users are potentially wide open to man-in-the-middle attacks, it’s claimed. Researchers at security firm FireEye went through the 1,000 most popular Android applications from the Google Play store and found that a large majority of them were open to at least man-in-the-middle attacks, thanks to faulty SSL error and certificate handling. For the top 10,000 apps that figure was 60 per cent.

UK police want mandatory passwords for all new phones – London’s Metropolitan Police has been lobbying the government and tech companies – including Apple and Samsung – to introduce mandatory passwords on all phones sold in the UK, to help reduce theft.

Inside the sneaky, surprisingly large world of rogue Chrome extensions – An analysis by security researchers of 48,000 extensions for Google’s Chrome browser uncovered many that are used for fraud and data theft, actions that are mostly undetectable to regular users. The study, due to be presented Thursday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, forecasts growing security problems around extensions as cybercriminals tap into the rich data contained in Web browsers for profit. They found 130 outright malicious extensions and 4,712 suspicious ones, engaged in a variety of affiliate fraud, credential theft, advertising fraud and social network abuse.

Company News:

Netflix now pays Time Warner Cable for faster video delivery – Following a deal with Time Warner Cable, Netflix is now paying all four major Internet service providers for reduced congestion and faster video streams. Netflix had already signed interconnection deals with Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Time Warner confirmed to GigaOM that it made the deal with Netflix in June, and is currently rolling out the direct connections that allow for smoother streaming. The idea of Netflix paying ISPs for better performance sounds bad on its face, but whether it’s actually a net neutrality issue is up for debate, with plenty of posturing from all sides.

HP still pushing Windows 7 laptops well into Windows 8’s second year – It has been two years since the release of Windows 8 and HP is still pushing Windows 7 machines to the consumer as Microsoft faces the harsh reality that Windows 8 will never replace Windows 7.


Barnes & Noble will stick with Nook strategy — for now – Mahesh Veerina, president of the bookseller’s Nook consumer business, says its strategy for selling Nook devices remains intact, even as the company plans to split in 2015.

Symantec pumps $12m into Sydney security centre – Symantec is aggressively pushing its managed security business, and will do so through its newest security operations centre in Sydney.

Samsung to pay $2.3m over claims it got Chinese gear into US government – Samsung’s US distribution arm will pay $2.3m to settle claims it “knowingly providing inaccurate information” about the origin of some its equipment, resulting in the US government buying unauthorised Chinese-made electronics. The settlement, announced on Tuesday by the Department of Justice, puts to rest allegations that Samsung breached federal contracting laws by telling its resellers that some of its products complied with the US trade agreements act when they did not.

Games and Entertainment:

NFL Now officially lands on Apple TV – Just in time for football season, Apple TV is getting NFL Now. We’d previously been aware of a few rumors surrounding the inclusion of NFL Now for Apple’s TV offering, but now it’s official. For those of us who just can’t get enough football during the winter, this is going to be special.


For Microsoft, getting Diablo 3 to run at 1080P was a necessity to compete with PS4 – The console wars are running full steam ahead and the PS4 is the frontrunner – and not only in sales, as it also seems that the PS4 has more power under the hood which is not making Microsoft happy.

The best-sounding music of 2014, so far (pictures) – Bad sound can’t be blamed on digital, analog, vinyl, CD, or even MP3. Those are release formats; it’s the recording’s quality that matters most, and that’s what I’m talking about in these capsule reviews. Puss N Boots is Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, and Catherine Popper, and their vocal harmonies will light up your speakers or headphones on this collection of studio and live cuts. “No Fools, No Fun” is easily one of the best albums of 2014.


A Lego ‘Ghostbusters’ short full of geeky cameos – This year marks the 30-year anniversary for “Ghostbusters,” the hilarious supernatural comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver. To mark the occasion, Marc-André Caron, who makes Lego shorts for his YouTube channel MonsieurCaron, released a 4-minute short where the trusty ghost-busting crew fight their biggest, most hungry ghost yet.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Study shows reading on Kindle is less effective than paperback – Ereaders and the growing number of textbooks available in digital form have transformed the way students study, and with them come many perks: digital books are often cheaper than their physical counterparts, and an entire semester’s materials can be toted around on a single light tablet. The perks may end there, however, according to a recent study.


Models challenge temperature reconstruction of last 12,000 years – Climate records, like tree rings or ice cores, are invaluable archives of past climate, but they each reflect their local conditions. If you really want a global average for some time period, you’re going to have to combine many reliable records from around the world and do your math very carefully. The Holocene temperature reconstruction showed a peak about 7,000 years ago, after which the planet slowly cooled off by a little over 0.5 degrees Celsius until that trend abruptly reversed over the last 150 years. That behavior mirrored the change in Northern Hemisphere summer sunlight driven by cycles in Earth’s orbit.

DARPA will redesign tanks to look like Halo’s Warthog because armor is outdated – Tanks have had the same basic design since they were first used to crash through the barbed wire barriers in Europe at the end of World War I, but DARPA is working on a new design that’s smaller, faster, and more efficient. This could be the beginning of the end for the big, hulking battle tank. The prototype design is called the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T), but you might notice a striking resemblance to the Warthog light recon vehicle from Halo.


Hacking mother nature: scientists are turning moths into drones – Scientists are working on a method for controlling moths electronically. Yeah — moths. By attaching electrodes to the back of a moth, scientists hope to control its flight. Though the immediate use-case that comes to mind might be “trolling cats”, it seems there is much more sound reasoning for wanting an army of moth drones.


Steve Ballmer’s 5 greatest YouTube hits – With Steve Ballmer leaving the Microsoft board, it’s time to bid him a fond farewell — and the best way to do it is with five of his greatest YouTube hits.


Sea plankton found on the outer surface of the ISS – Astronauts collecting samples on the International Space Station have found traces of sea plankton, and are baffled as to how it got there.

Something to think about:

“Nuke Islamic State fighters, gas them, infect them, fry them, burn them, shoot them, drown them – every single one of them, and their supporters, must be eradicated. Every moral code that guides us must be set aside, if necessary, in order to destroy this virulent plague.”

–      News Comment thread

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance!

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place



Predator – PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened.

It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:

– once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens

when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:

– keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Meet John Tye: the kinder, gentler, and by-the-book whistleblower – The way John Tye tells it, we’ve all been missing the forest for the trees.

Over the course of two phone calls, the former State Department official told Ars that anyone who has been following the government surveillance discussion since the Snowden disclosures has been too concerned with things like metadata collection. Since last summer, journalists, politicians, and the public have been inundated with largely-unknown terminology, like “Section 215” and “Section 702.”

(For a recap: The first disclosure to come from the documents provided by Snowden described the bulk metadata programs, whose legal authority derives from Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the legal authority which the NSA uses as the basis for PRISM and other surveillance and data collection programs.)

But according to Tye, what we should be really worried about is Executive Order 12333 (EO 12333)—or “twelve triple three” in government parlance. It’s a Reagan-era order that spells out the NSA’s authority to conduct signals intelligence among other things. EO 12333 was amended three times under President George W. Bush and, famously, the NSA expanded its domestic surveillance operation after the September 11 attacks without a direct order from the president, who later provided cover under EO 12333.

In July 2014, Tye wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post outlining his concerns. It drew a direct response from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday. According to Tye, the massive amounts of content sucked up by the American spy apparatus “incidental” to targeted collecting is voluminous, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. And no one in the government has ever tried to challenge this legal authorization.

U.S. Military Bans The Intercept – The U.S. military is banning and blocking employees from visiting The Intercept in an apparent effort to censor news reports that contain leaked government secrets.

According to multiple military sources, a notice has been circulated to units within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps warning staff that they are prohibited from reading stories published by The Intercept on the grounds that they may contain classified information. The ban appears to apply to all employees—including those with top-secret security clearance—and is aimed at preventing classified information from being viewed on unclassified computer networks, even if it is freely available on the internet. Similar military-wide bans have been directed against news outlets in the past after leaks of classified information.

A directive issued to military staff at one location last week, obtained by The Intercept, threatens that any employees caught viewing classified material in the public domain will face “long term security issues.” It suggests that the call to prohibit employees from viewing the website was made by senior officials over concerns about a “potential new leaker” of secret documents.

The directive states:

We have received information from our higher headquarters regarding a potential new leaker of classified information.  Although no formal validation has occurred, we thought it prudent to warn all employees and subordinate commands.  Please do not go to any website entitled “The Intercept” for it may very well contain classified material.

As a reminder to all personnel who have ever signed a non-disclosure agreement, we have an ongoing responsibility to protect classified material in all of its various forms.  Viewing potentially classified material (even material already wrongfully released in the public domain) from unclassified equipment will cause you long term security issues.  This is considered a security violation.

A military insider subject to the ban said that several employees expressed concerns after being told by commanders that it was “illegal and a violation of national security” to read publicly available news reports on The Intercept.


In wake of Ferguson shooting, calls escalate for cops to wear body cams – The City of Ferguson, Missouri, in turmoil following last week’s shooting death of an unarmed African-American teen by a white police officer, is “exploring” whether to outfit its police force with pager-sized surveillance cams in patrol cars and on officers’ vests that record everything the officer is seeing.

The city announced the idea Tuesday, days after rioting, looting, and mass protests commenced following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed on August 9. There are various accounts of what led to the teen’s death. Surveillance cameras could have helped the authorities figure out what prompted a police officer to fire on Brown as many as six times.

“We are exploring a range of actions that are intended for the community to feel more connected to and demonstrate the transparency of our city departments,” the city said the day before Attorney General Eric Holder arrived Wednesday to flesh out the situation for himself.

But Ferguson is not alone in calling for its officers to be outfitted with body cams. The mayor of Hawthorne, a Los Angeles suburb, has also called for police to wear body cameras in the wake of Brown’s shooting.


Axon Flex, from Taser International, is used by the Rialto Police Department in California.

Yale profs propose openness, crypto for disciplined surveillance – Two computer science professors at Yale University think cryptography and an open system of checks and balances could combine to preserve national security while preventing innocent by-standers from being snared in the nets of zealous lawmen in an age of big data collection and technology-savvy surveillance.

The plan would alter the current data collection model of intelligence agencies and law-enforcement, but still allow relevant information collection and investigations while safeguarding privacy.

The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.

The professors, spurred on by the Edward Snowden controversy, have built a framework that includes data owners, repository stewards, and government agencies. They have developed what they call the Lawful Set-Intersection Protocol, built on top of two “communicative” encryption schemes: ElGamal and Pohlig-Hellman. To align with developers, they have posted on GitHub an implementation of the Java-based Lawful Set-Intersection Protocol.

The framework, protocol, and prototype implementations were presented Monday at the 4th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet by Bryan Ford, associate professor of computer science at Yale University and the head of the Decentralized/Distributed Systems research group, and Joan Feigenbaum, a Grace Murray Hopper professor and chair of Yale’s computer science department. Aaron Segal, a PhD candidate in Yale’s computer science department, also collaborated on the research entitled “Catching Bandits and Only Bandits.”

“What walks like a duck and squawks like a duck is usually a duck, and since the NSA has been squawking like a law-enforcement agency, it should be subject to open processes like a law-enforcement agency,” Ford and Feigenbaum wrote Monday in an MIT Technology Review article outlining their ideas and presentation.

Brazil Court Issues Injunction Against Secret And Calls For App To Be Remotely Wiped – A court in Brazil has ruled (via UOL) that Apple and Google must remove Secret, the anonymous social networking app, from their mobile software stores – and also from user devices where it’s already installed. The court has issued a preliminary injunction in the case, pending the results of a final ruling, as a result of a complaints by users harmed by rumors spread via the app, who said that the app was used to share an “intimate photo” of him, which included personal identifying information including his full name and telephone number.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 20, 2014

Facebook says most outbound email is encrypted now;  Microsoft OneNote comes to Android tablets for free;  19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  The Art and Craft of Windows Search;  5 apps for mastering business meetings;  Get Organized: How to Manage Video Files;  The 5 most anticipated smartphone launches coming in September;  21 Flickr Tips for Photo Fanatics;  Microsoft Goes From Cellar to Stellar in New Antivirus Test;  Many Chrome browser extensions do sneaky things;  Relive Microsoft’s Age of Empires with latest Humble Bundle;  Police warned about tweeting drunk or with doughnuts;  Delaware becomes first US state to pass “Digital Inheritance” law;  Man arrested, strip-searched after photographing NYPD wins $125,000;  Emsisoft Emergency Kit (free).

Facebook says most outbound email is encrypted now – Nearly all of Facebook’s outbound notification emails are now encrypted while traveling the Internet, a collaborative feat that comes from the technology industry’s push to thwart the NSA’s spying programs.

Facebook reports enormous uptick in use of snoop-proof email – The social network sends billions of emails to users daily and says adoption of the encryption standard it uses has skyrocketed among webmail providers.

Microsoft OneNote comes to Android tablets for free – Microsoft has introduced a version of its OneNote note-taking application optimized to work on Android tablets — with support for digital inking. The new application is available for download for free from the Google Play store Tuesday. It requires Google’s Android 4.1 operating system or higher. Microsoft has been beta testing the Android tablet version of OneNote for the past several months. The new OneNote for Android release includes handwriting support and “touch-friendly navigation,” according to Microsoft officials.

Virtual hard drives: The IT pro trick that lets you back up your data for free – Once you finally start backing up your data (like you’ve been told to over, and over again), consider using a virtual hard drive (VHD). VHDs have been used by IT professionals for years in virtual machines and server applications, but you can also use them as a free, easy-to-use backup format—especially since the tools required to use it come with Windows.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

19 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 19 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

5 apps for mastering business meetings – Business meetings: they’re sort of like the office equivalent of a root canal. But meetings don’t have to be painful, drawn-out procedures. Whether you need to schedule a meeting, draft an agenda, or simply remember who was there, we have an app for you.

The Art and Craft of Windows Search – (1) Groundwork – Windows Search has been much maligned. There are forums all over the internet where it has been vigorously discussed, often in vitriolic terms. Typical complaints are that it can’t find a file even when you know the file is present, and, most often, “it just doesn’t work!”. I’ve done a lot of research on Windows Search, and one conclusion is that its poor reputation is entirely Microsoft’s fault, but not for the reason you might think. It’s because Microsoft’s documentation on it is poor to non-existent. Useful tips on advanced searching are hidden away on two out-of-date Microsoft web pages, which you could be forgiven for thinking Microsoft doesn’t want you to see.


Get Organized: How to Manage Video Files – Is your computer cluttered with clips of the kids, videos of your cat, and other miscellaneous slices of life? Learn how to organize and archive those files like the pros with these best practices.

21 Flickr Tips for Photo Fanatics – Flickr truly stands out for one core audience: photographers. While Instagram and Facebook are great for sharing casual images, Flickr’s tools and interface and information all scream out for artists with a camera to them seriously. From the camera info stored there to the ability creators have of tagging and copyrighting images, Flickr is an amazing service for those serious about pictures and photography. So take a walk with us, won’t you, to look at the best tricks that will help you get the most out of Flickr, both mobile and desktop, in every way.

No set-top box required: TVs with baked-in Roku streaming coming in September – Roku is about to break free from set-top boxes, with the first “Roku TVs” from HiSense and TCL shipping next month. Instead of requiring a separate box or streaming stick, Roku TVs have the company’s streaming video and music platform built-in. Roku boasts 1,500 streaming channels, with the ability to search across them all for movies and TV shows.


Google Launches Photo Sphere Camera App On iOS – Google has just launched a new photo application for iOS users called Photo Sphere Camera, which allows you to take 360-degree photos, then publish them to Google Maps or other social networks. The app is an expansion of a feature that was previously available via Google’s Android operating system, and shipped on the Nexus-branded smartphones.


Mailbox Finally Brings Its Email Client To The Desktop, Adds Drafts And Syncing Between Devices – Mailbox, the ultra-awesome email client owned by Dropbox, is making its way onto the desktop. By doing so, it’ll be coming full circle and providing a seamless user experience on all the devices you’d want to view and respond to email on.

The 5 most anticipated smartphone launches coming in September – September is shaping up to be a very exciting month for smartphone buyers around the world: We know that Motorola Mobility, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung Electronics will all launch new smartphones, and it looks like Apple will join the party too. So what new devices are we looking forward to the most? Here’s our countdown:

Fuhu Unveils The World’s Biggest Android Tablet Made For Family Collaboration, Socialization – Fuhu, the company that builds child-focused gadgets, unveiled the 20- and full HD 24-inch nabi Big Tab today to increase collaboration and sharing in the average household. Both tablets come with a carrying frame that acts as a kickstand, as well as a 15-point capacitive touch screen, Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4 processors, and 16 GB of memory. The tablets run Android 4.4.4, but have Fuhu’s Blue MorphoTM operating system over it.


Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare figurines inbound – Plants vs. Zombies has risen to solid success, and nothing indicates that quite like a line of action figures. If your yard is looking a little bare but traditional garden gnomes aren’t your thing, these figurines will be arriving for your lawn next month.


Visual Studio ‘14′ CTP 3 now available for download – Microsoft has announced that they have released the Visual Studio ’14’ CTP 3 for download and also an early build of the .NET Framework vNext. If you have been following along recently, you will know that the Visual Studio team has been releasing updates at an extremely fast pace, so quickly, in fact, you may have missed the last release that came out earlier this month. This release comes with quite a few enhancements as well and we have posted some them below.

Blur Is a New Android Launcher that Integrates Full Apps Right on the Homescreen – There are a few very popular alternative app launchers in the Play Store for Android, but that hasn’t stopped other developers from trying to build a better homescreen. The latest devs to take a swing are the guys from Klinker Apps, already well-known for EvolveSMS and the Twitter client Talon.


Superhero Workout app: Get fit by fighting aliens – This calisthenics-based fitness app uses motion tracking to turn you into a supersoldier saving the world. In your head, anyway.


Fark adds ‘misogyny’ to moderator guidelines – It’s called the World Wide Web, not the World Wide Men’s Club. So why do some commenters on articles, blog posts, and forums feel the need to harass women online? That exactly what the popular community website considered when it added “misogyny” to its moderator guidelines. The new rules were put in place to remind users “that we don’t want to be the He Man Woman Hater’s Club,” founder and admin Drew Curtis wrote. “This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large Internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary.”


Microsoft Goes From Cellar to Stellar in New Antivirus Test – Many independent antivirus testing labs have taken to calling Microsoft Security Essentials their baseline, separate from the products undergoing testing. If an antivirus can’t do better than Microsoft, it’s a poor product indeed. However, Dennis Batchelder, director of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), contends that lab tests don’t reflect the product’s actual user protection, and that in the real world Microsoft is much more effective than the tests show. A recent test suggests that just might be true.


Many Chrome browser extensions do sneaky things – An analysis by security researchers of 48,000 extensions for Google’s Chrome browser uncovered many that are used for fraud and data theft, actions that are mostly undetectable to regular users. The study, due to be presented Thursday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, forecasts growing security problems around extensions as cybercriminals tap into the rich data contained in Web browsers for profit. They found 130 outright malicious extensions and 4,712 suspicious ones, engaged in a variety of affiliate fraud, credential theft, advertising fraud and social network abuse.

Fake Evernote Extension Serves Advertisements – Recently a Malwarebytes researcher informed me of a Multiplug PUP that installs a fake Evernote browser extension. Fellow researchers can find the link to this sample on VirusTotal here. A quick look shows the PUP is digitally signed by “Open Source Developer, Sergei Ivanovich Drozdov”, although the certificate has since been revoked by the issuer. This serves as another reminder that you can’t always trust a program just because it’s digitally signed.

(Another excellent article from the folks over at Malwarebytes. I encourage you to read this very instructive piece.)


Supervalu says it was breached – is it the next Target? – US retailer Supervalu is warning customers that an intrusion of its network may have resulted in the theft of credit and debit card account numbers from up to 200 of its stores. Meanwhile, a related data breach affected another 800 stores for which Supervalu provides IT services. Could this be the next Target?

Company News:

Samsung’s smart home push continues with purchase of HVAC maker Quietside – On Tuesday, Samsung announced that it would acquire Quietside, a manufacturer of air conditioners, heaters, and other HVAC appliances, for an undisclosed sum. This follows Samsung’s purchase of smart home all-in-one solution SmartThings last week, an acquisition that had been hinted at in July, and the combination points to Samsung’s desire to take over American homes by controlling their every device.


The current incarnation of the SmartThings hub.

Microsoft is reportedly dropping Samsung patent case – Software patents have snowballed into giant wars in recent years, ending, changing and growing partnerships between various technology juggernauts. Signaling what could be the beginning of the end of this battle, details have emerged that Samsung and Microsoft have taken steps to restart their negotiations and discussions over the matter. An industry official reportedly informed the Korea Times that the settlement is intended to be quickly resolved so that both companies are able to close the chapter on the disputes.

Apple stock reaches all-time closing high – Earlier today Apple was granted a patent which fairly obviously suggested they would be creating a smartwatch in the near future. This patent number 8,808,483 does include “iPhone” in its description, but its claims do not assign it to a specific device, leaving it open to any similar device within reason – small enough for a smartwatch. Wallstreet thinks it’s obvious enough, anyway, driving the stock to over $100 for the first time since the stock split in early June of this year.

Steve Ballmer leaves Microsoft board – Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced that he’s stepping down from the company’s board, effective immediately. With his ownership of the LA Clippers, teaching, and “civic contribution” taking his time, Ballmer wrote that he’s now “very busy,” and with both a new NBA season and new class of students, it would be “impractical” for him to remain on the board.

Twitter updates policy after Williams death pics abuse on daughters account – The Internet never fails to create new lows when a celebrity dies, this time around Twitter has been forced to update its policy after gruesome images appeared on Zelda Williams account.

FunPlus strikes nearly $1B deal to sell a game subsidiary to a Chinese company – The video game company, whose titles resemble Zynga’s FarmVille, is selling four of its games, using the profits to help fund its ambitions to make more.


FunPlus makes games like Family Farm Seaside.

Uber hires an Obama insider for its political fights – Uber has hired David Plouffe, a former campaign manager for President Obama with deep ties to the White House, to help it enter new markets and bolster its fight against taxi competitors. Plouffe managed President Obama’s 2008 campaign and then served as an outside adviser to the president. In 2011, when top White House adviser David Axelrod resigned, Plouffe replaced him.

Uber tests local delivery with Corner Store – Uber, the car-hailing app, is experimenting with a new local-delivery service it calls Corner Store. Starting on Tuesday, some Uber users in Washington, D.C., will be able to order certain household items and have them delivered to their door on the same day by accessing Corner Store from the service’s mobile app. There are several limitations to the service: it will “run for a few weeks,” it’s only available “to a select number” of users in Washington, D.C., in two delivery zones, and runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Games and Entertainment:

Relive Microsoft’s Age of Empires with latest Humble Bundle – Today’s Humble Bundle is of particular interest to fans of the Age of Empire series. For only $15, you can own Age of Empires II HD and Age of Empires III: Complete. In addition, you receive Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten DLC, which adds five more civilizations, seven extra campaigns, and other bonus features. The real-time strategy game was a big hit back in the day and the gameplay is still fun, even today.


Diablo 3 graphics comparison: PC vs. Xbox One – Diablo 3 is not a new game by any stretch, but its arrival on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the form of an Ultimate Evil Edition means we can take a moment to appreciate how the game has evolved to replace keyboard and mouse with a gamepad. Naturally, since we had a PC sitting around that is packing superior hardware to the Xbox One, comparing the two side-by-side seemed like a must.


Watch this Unreal Engine 4 rendering look entirely lifelike – It looks real. The computer-generated rendering you’re about to see looks like a real life video tour of architecture, complete with lights and far-off greenery. This comes courtesy of French developer koola, making use of Intel and NVIDIA processors as well as Unreal Engine 4.


12 indie games worth checking out right now – If you think there’s nothing good to play during the summer, odds are you’re looking in all the wrong places. Indie games are available on every platform and a lot of these titles don’t require a powerhouse PC to run them. Best of all, the majority of summer’s greatest titles can be yours for a fraction of the price of a standard game.  I’ve scoured the year’s best indie titles and have organized them in no particular order. Be sure to click through for the best, most affordable titles before the rush of fall games hits!

Off Topic (Sort of):

Police warned about tweeting drunk or with doughnuts – Police officers have been warned not to tweet while naked, drunk or eating doughnuts. Some boys in blue have failed to show such good judgement online in the past, with UK officers revealed to have committed such offences as making racist or homophobic comments or posing with weapons. Nearly one in 10 such misjudgements proved to be career-ending.


Motorcyclist pulls off superhero landing during crash – The biker slams into the back of the car at what appears to be faster-than-average speeds, and it looks for a moment like a tragedy unfolding. The motorcyclist is catapulted into the air, where he does a complete flip off of the bike and over the car’s roof. Rather than meeting an unfortunate demise, however, he manages to land standing up on top of the car’s roof, pulling off a real-world Spiderman manuever against quite a few odds. He crouches down as the car slows, and appears to be okay, all things considered.


Delaware becomes first US state to pass “Digital Inheritance” law – Last week, according to Arstechnica, Gov. Jack Markell signed the Fiduciary Access to Digital Access and Digital Accounts Act. This law gives heirs and executors of wills the legal authority to take control of a digital asset or device, just like any physical document or item. For those of you wondering, other states have some provisions, but their scope is limited. Delaware is the first state to enact such a broad law.

Drinkable 210-year-old booze recovered from shipwreck – But just because science says something is drinkable doesn’t mean that anyone should actually go ahead and drink it. This particular Polish spirit has an aroma you’d have to get past that’s reportedly not very pleasant, but at least you wouldn’t poison yourself if you did decide to power through and take a sip or two.


Your texts displayed on the big screen – I confess that when I’m at a movie theater, rare is the occasion when I don’t hear someone talking out loud because, well, this is America and that’s what we do. Some movie theaters in China have decided on offering these talkers — especially tech-obsessed youths — an outlet for the constant voice in their heads. They’re offering so-called bullet screens. These are sections of the theater screens that accommodate texts sent by members of the audience. Who are, of course, charged for the privilege.


This movie sucks!!!

Something to think about:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”

–    Steve Jobs

Today’s Free Downloads:

OSForensics – Discover relevant forensic evidence faster. Find files quickly. Search within Files. Search for Emails. Recover Deleted Files. Uncover Recent Activity. Collect System Information. View Active Memory. Extract Logins and Passwords.

Find files quickly

OSForensics allows you to search for files many times faster than the search functionality in Windows.

Results can be analyzed in the form of a file listing, a Thumbnail View, or a Timeline View which allows you to determine where significant file change activity has occurred.

Search within Files

If the basic file search functionality is not enough, OSForensics can also create an index of the files on a hard disk. This allows for lightning fast searches for text contained inside the documents. Powered by the technology behind Wrensoft’s acclaimed Zoom Search Engine.

Search for Emails

An additional feature of being able to search within files is the ability to search email archives. The indexing process can open and read most popular email file formats (including pst) and identify the individual messages.

This allows for a fast text content search of any emails found on a system.

Recover Deleted Files

After a file has been deleted, even once removed from the recycling bin, it often still exists until another new file takes its place on the hard drive. OSForensics can track down this ghost file data and attempt to restore it back to useable state on the hard drive.

Uncover Recent Activity

Find out what users have been up to. OSForensics can uncover the user actions performed recently on the system, including but not limited to:

Opened Documents

Web Browsing History

Connected USB Devices

Connected Network Shares

Collect System Information

Find out what’s inside the computer. Detailed information about the hardware a system is running on:

CPU type and number of CPUs

Amount and type of RAM

Installed Hard Drives

Connected USB devices

and much more. Powered by Passmark’s SysInfo DLL.

View Active Memory

Look directly at what is currently in the systems main memory. Attempt to uncover passwords and other sensitive information that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Select from a list of active processes on the system to inspect. OSF can also dump their memory to a file on disk for later inspection.

Extract Logins and Passwords

Recover usernames and passwords from recently accessed

websites in common web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.


(You can read my complete review of an earlier version of this application – You Can Be A Computer Detective Too, With OSForensics Beta (February 14, 2011)

NxFilter – NxFilter is a freeware web-filter designed for enterprise environment. You can monitor and filter Internet activity in your network with NxFilter while protecting your users from malware and botnet.



Emsisoft Emergency Kit – A collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

With the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner you have got the powerful Emsisoft Scanner including graphical user interface. Search the infected PC for Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malign programs.

Run the Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner with a double click on a2emergencykit.exe. Found Malware can be moved to quarantine or finally deleted.

Emsisoft Commandline Scanner

This scanner contains the same functionality as the Emergency Kit Scanner but without a graphical user interface. The commandline tool is made for professional users and can be used perfectly for batch jobs.

To run the Emsisoft Commandline Scanner, do the following actions:

– Open a command prompt window (Run: cmd.exe)

– Switch to the drive of the USB Stick (e.g.: f 🙂 and then to the folder of the executable files (e.g.: cd run)

– Run the scanner by typing: a2cmd.exe

Next you will see a help page describing all available parameters.

Next is an example to scan drive c: with enabled Memory, Traces (Registry) and Cookie scan with active Heuristic module and archive support. Found Malware is moved to quarantine.

a2cmd.exe /f=”c:” /m /t /c /h /a /q=”c:quarantine”

Emsisoft HiJackFree

HiJackFree helps advanced users to detect and remove Malware manually. With HiJackFree you can manage all active processes, services, drivers, autoruns, open ports, hosts file entries and many more. For your full control over your system.

Emsisoft BlitzBlank

BlitzBlank is a tool for experienced users and all those who must deal with Malware on a daily basis. Malware infections are not always easy to clean up. These days the software pests use clever techniques to protect themselves from being deleted. In more and more cases it is almost impossible to delete a Malware file while Windows is running. BlitzBlank deletes files, Registry entries and drivers at boot time before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

Self made Emergency USB stick

Expand the content of the Emsisoft Emergency Kit to an USB stick and make your own universal tool to scan and clean infected PCs.

A pre compiled Emergency USB (2 GB) stick can be purchased standalone online for US $25.00 (includes worldwide shipping)


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia: Telstra found divulging web browsing histories to law-enforcement agencies without a warrant – The federal government has been left red-faced following revelations that law-enforcement agencies have been accessing Australians’ web browsing histories without a warrant.

Access to phone and internet data held by telecommunications companies has been the subject of much debate recently, as the government seeks to extend the power of intelligence agencies to fight terrorism. It has proposed telcos retain customers’ metadata for up to two years for investigation.

However, spy agency ASIO and federal police have given assurances that data on what websites Australians visit – know as web history – could only be obtained with warrants.

Now a paper published by the parliamentary library on Monday has revealed an industry practice of providing website addresses (URLs) to law enforcement without warrants. (recommended by Mal C.)

The Intercept: A Night in Ferguson – Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, and a Jail Cell – With rifles trained on us, we turned right on Highmunt Dr., in the direction of W. Florissant and toward another police vehicle, which had more guns pointed at us.

As we made our way forward, I heard a pop and felt a stinging in my lower back. I jumped up instinctively, and realized that the officers behind us, the ones who had asked us to move forward, had shot us with what I believe were rubber bullets. I was hit once and Hermsmeier was hit twice.

The shooting left a mean bruise, but all the guns trained on us provided an ample distraction from the sting. We were frightened. The police, who made no verbal commands that we had heard, had clearly demonstrated their willingness to shoot us. With several similarly armed and approaching officers directly in front of us, we dove behind a car, expecting more shooting. The police came upon us with their guns pointed directly at us.

We continued repeating that we were journalists. They pulled us out from behind the car, walked us to their armored vehicles, and zip-tied our hands behind our backs.


The author, detained by a St. Louis County Police Department tactical team Tuesday morning, explains to an officer how to turn off his digital recorder. Photo: David Carson/St Louis Post Dispatch/Polaris


Man arrested, strip-searched after photographing NYPD wins $125,000 – Settlement comes weeks after a bystander’s video captured NYPD chokehold arrest – A New York man who claimed police arrested and strip-searched him after he photographed a stop-and-frisk of three African-American youths has settled his civil rights suit with the New York Police Department for $125,000. The settlement, first reported Monday by the Daily News, comes weeks after the NYPD reminded its officers that it was legal to peacefully record police activity. That department-wide memo followed the videotaped NYPD arrest of a man who died after being subdued by a chokehold last month.

In New York City, Police Brutality Is Bringing People Together – All across the country, the police are under fire for killing unarmed people of color—and that’s spurring people from all backgrounds to embrace new forms of resistance.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 19, 2014

Six ways to secure your vulnerable network router (pics);  ‘Google for kids’ reportedly in the works;  Four apps that give you free money;  New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security;  10 best Chrome apps for students;  HP Stream is a $199 Windows laptop for Google haters;  Noke Bluetooth padlock unlocks with a smartphone;  Check out the LibreOffice productivity suite (pictures);  Chinese Hackers Steal Personal Data From 4.5M Community Health Systems Patients;  Krysanec RAT Spies On Your Android;  Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments;  Has the US Legal System Always Been Such a Joke?  New tool for grading Iowa kids in gym class? Heart rate monitors;  Wifi Password Revealer (free);  New powers could give ASIO a warrant for the entire internet;  Twitter’s last experiment was unpopular… so they increased it;  Get the most out of your tech while traveling.

Six ways to secure your vulnerable network router (pictures) – Your home router is vulnerable to attacks as soon as you take it out of the box. Here are six things you can do to secure your network.


Four apps that give you free money – That’s right—you’re wasting precious time playing Candy Crush when you could be earning cold, hard cash! (For the purpose of this rhetorical question, using your phone for work email doesn’t count as making money.) Here are four free, awesome, easy-to-use apps that will pay you in cash—sometimes gift cards—just for using your phone in everyday situations. So what are you waiting for? The only thing stopping you from making money is the fact that you haven’t downloaded these apps yet.

‘Google for kids’ reportedly in the works – The only protection against children 13 and under signing up for restricted services is a confirmation page or a checkbox asking them to confirm whether they’re actually over the age of 13. But as anyone who had internet access as a child knows, this is easily bypassed, allowing kids to search potentially dubious content on the web. Google’s rumored new initiative may eliminate this entirely by placing access directly in the hands of parents, who can control and access their childrens’ viewing and browsing habits on services like YouTube via a custom dashboard.

Build and maintain your resume with the help of these five apps – Creating and updating a resume may not be anyone’s idea of fun, but it’s much easier than it used to be. Here are five tools that can simplify the process.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New website aims to publicly shame apps with lax security – The amount of personal data traveling to and from the Internet has exploded, yet many applications and services continue to put user information at risk by not encrypting data sent over wireless networks. Software engineer Tony Webster has a classic solution—shame. Webster decided to see if a little public humiliation could convince companies to better secure their customers’ information. On Saturday, the consultant created a website, HTTP Shaming, and began posting cases of insecure communications, calling out businesses that send their customers’ personal information to the Internet without encrypting it first.

Microsoft Answer Desk 0x50 Stop error message – Microsoft is investigating behavior in which systems may crash with a 0x50 Stop error message (bugcheck) after any of the following updates are installed. Go here for a solution.

Twitter’s last experiment was unpopular… so they increased it – Earlier this month, Twitter quietly began a new experiment which pushed other users’ favorited tweets into your own timeline, as if they were retweets. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t especially welcome, so Twitter has taken the obvious next step: rolled it out to even more people.

10 best Chrome apps for students – Between the Chrome browser’s ubiquity on PCs and the surging potency of online capabilities, Google’s Chrome Web Store plays hosts to a legion of superb web-based applications that can tackle practically any productivity challenge. These 10 Chrome apps will give students (and anyone else!) a well-rounded tool set—one that transforms your browser into a true productivity powerhouse.

bKey battery lives on your keyring for emergency smartphone charging – The most important moments in the life of your smartphone are those minutes right before it runs out of juice. You send those last-second messages to your friends to let them know you are off the grid for a little while, and you venture out into the world without your digital tether until you find an appropriate charging area. The guys at bKey have a cool keyring battery that isn’t likely to save you from completely draining your phone, but it could give you a few more minutes of hope in an emergency.


HP Stream is a $199 Windows laptop for Google haters – What do you get if you rip Chrome OS out of the 14-inch HP Chromebook and stuff Windows 8.1 into it? The HP Stream, a laptop that’s going to fly off store shelves this Christmas with a $199 price tag. This could be one of HP’s hottest sellers ever — it’s priced like a Chromebook but it offers the advantages of the Windows ecosystem.


Here you learn exactly what a Chromebook can do – Interested in buying a Chromebook, but afraid they’re a bit too different from Windows laptops and MacBooks? Or, perhaps you already own a Chromebook, but you’ve yet to explore its capabilities. If either of these two sentences describe your experience, then you’ve come to the right place. Every day this week we’ll focus on a different aspect of Chromebooks, hopefully demystifying them a bit and showing exactly what they’re capable of. So go ahead and bookmark this page, then check back here tomorrow for a new Chromebook post. Wash, rinse, and repeat for a few days.

Simple.TV antenna DVR debuts ability to share recorded TV shows – Simple.TV says it doesn’t anticipate any legal issues for its new feature allowing users to share their recorded shows with up to five others, regardless of whether or not the invitees have the paid service.


Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments – Unlike Windows and OS X, Linux allows you to fully customize not only the look and feel of your desktop, but also its functionality as well as settings, through different “desktop environments”. These desktop environments offer different styles and options, and unavoidably, with choice often comes confusion. Today we’ll do a brief overview of the most popular Linux desktop environments to give you an idea about what each has to offer and what suits you the best.

Tom Hanks’ Typewriter App Shoots To The Top Of The App Store – Tom Hanks’ name can do more than sell a movie, it seems. His recently launched, hipster-ish typewriter app for iPad, Hanx Writer, has now shot to the top of the iTunes App Store, ranking No. 1 in both the Productivity section, as well as Overall. Launched last week, Hanx Writer turns your iPad into an old-fashioned typewriter, offering a pseudo-analog typing experience.


Noke Bluetooth padlock unlocks with a smartphone – FUZ Designs envisions a future where your smartphone replaces your key ring, at least as far as your padlock is concerned. The Noke (pronounced no-key) is a Bluetooth padlock that looks like an ordinary Masterlock, but rather than using a physical key, it unlocks at the presence of your handset.


Get the most out of your tech while traveling – For the next two weeks, we’ll show you the best ways to get the most out of your tech while traveling. Even if you’re just taking a weekend road trip, you’ve come to the right place. Expect a new blog every day focusing on a different aspect of travel.

Check out the LibreOffice productivity suite (pictures) – When you think office suite, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about the word processor. In LibreOffice’s case, that’s Writer: it does everything you’d expect from a modern Microsoft Office clone, including support for comments and tracking changes between multiple users. It will also read older Office documents that Microsoft Word has abandoned, which could come in handy if you have old Word files kicking around.




Chinese Hackers Steal Personal Data From 4.5M Community Health Systems Patients – Community Health Systems, one of the largest hospital operators in the U.S., today announced that hackers stole about 4.5 million records with patient names, addresses, birth data, phone numbers and Social Security numbers. The company says the data was stolen in attacks that occurred between April and June 2014 and the hackers gained access to data from anybody who was referred for or received services from any doctor affiliated with Community Health Systems. The only good news about this breach is that the hackers did not gain access to any medical records.

Krysanec RAT Spies On Your Android – If you saw an app called “The Nasty, Malicious App That Will Record Your Phone Calls and Worse,” you wouldn’t download it. That’s why Android malware creators repackage their nefarious software within legitimate, well-known apps. It’s a common tactic, and one that’s easy to pull off. It’s also the strategy used by Krysanec, a Remote Access Trojan discovered by ESET.

Phishing emails used to hack US Nuclear Regulator – The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, regulator of the nation’s use of nuclear materials and commercial power plants, was compromised three times in as many years, according to a report from Nextgov. Two of the hacks are said to have resulted from someone(s) abroad, while the third responsible party has not yet been identified.

Cracking smart house devices & pwning thousands of PCs via VNC remote access – Pen testers cracked the security of every IoT device within a smart house. Other researchers scanned the Internet and grabbed 30,000 screenshots in an hour of PCs running VNC without a password. Moral of the story? Change default usernames and use a strong password.

Can we make hack-proof computers? – They could be hack proof – or much less hackable – if security were built into them instead of bolted on. Here’s an example of what that means.

Company News:

Symantec folds nine Norton products into one service – Symantec will consolidate its cluttered Norton line of security software, folding nine products into one online service that can be used across desktop computers and mobile devices. The product, in beta now, will simply be called “Norton Security” and cost $79 a year when it goes on sale in North America on Sept. 23, said Gerry Egan, senior director of product management. It replaces Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus and Norton360, among others.

Google Makes It Easier For Advertisers To Track Which Ads Generate Phone Calls – Over the course of the last year, Google’s AdWords advertising platform started launching a number of new products that allow advertisers to link ads and phone calls. Those include click-to-call ads, call metrics and calls as conversion in your AdWords stats, but today, it is taking this concept a bit further with the launch of Website Call Conversions.

New BlackBerry unit to focus on patents, software – BlackBerry said Monday it has created a new business unit that will include its 44,000 patents and several software projects, as the struggling handset maker seeks to find new revenue streams. The unit, called BlackBerry Technology Solutions, will be led by Sandeep Chennakeshu, who has been involved in wireless, semiconductors and other tech sectors for over 25 years. He has served as president of Ericsson Mobile Platforms and chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson, and is a named inventor on 73 patents. Chennakeshu starts immediately as the new unit’s president.

Ethical Quandry? Washington Post Adds Amazon Affiliate Links to Articles – It’s no great secret that making money via affiliate links can be a fairly lucrative business. Some major websites subsist almost entirely on revenues generated by a pay-per-sale system, and one of the bigger programs around is offered by Amazon. As Pando Daily noticed, however, Amazon has added affiliate links into editorial properties that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos now owns. We’re speaking, of course, about The Washington Post, which Bezos bought last year.

Report: Google to launch YouTube Music Key subscription service – According to an exclusive report by Android Police, Google has big plans to turn YouTube into a better place to listen to music. It’s called YouTube Music Key, and it offers ad-free music, audio-only playback, and offline playback. It’ll start at $9.99 a month—which is how much Google Play Music All Access costs now—and new users will be able to try it free for 30 days. That same ten bucks would give you a subscription to Play Music All Access, which would be renamed Google Play Music Key.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Video for Windows Phone gets an update: faster playback, better searches – For those who enjoy watching movies and TV shows on their smartphone or tablet, Windows Phone’s Xbox Video app is a must — and for those who already have it, the latest update makes the app better than ever. Several performance features have been added, including faster playback, better startup time, and refined search results.


Swing Copters Is The Latest Game From The Creator Of Flappy Bird – Take Flappy Bird, make the bird fly vertically and avoid swinging things, and you have Swing Copters, the next mobile game from Dong Nguyen. Because let’s burn more of our time on this earth with mindless games.

How to hide games in your Steam library – Why would you even want to hide games in your Steam library? It’s simple: Between Humble Bundles, Steam Summer sales, (sometimes) separate listings for beta, Mac, and Linux versions of games, and the slew of ways to snag free PC games, your library can quickly become cluttered with titles that you have no intentions of playing anytime soon, if ever. Steam’s new feature is the digital equivalent of spring cleaning.

Bungie’s New Destiny Trailer Detours to Storm-Wracked Venus – From Mars to Venus, it seems Bungie’s counting down planetary locales you’ll be visiting in Destiny, its online-only first-person shooter due out on September 9. Last week saw our band of intrepid heroes stalking the red-duned surface of the fourth rock from the sun, so this week is about the second.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization (HBO) – In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, John Oliver explores the racial inequality in treatment by police as well as the increasing militarization of America’s local police forces.


Why the First Amendment remains a key check and balance to police militarization – The disproportionate impact of police militarization upon poor and minority communities highlights the need to uphold the right to record police activity in a democratic society.

Has the US Legal System Always Been Such a Joke? – Between the daily drip of stories about paramilitary police forces exerting their will on minorities in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and the regular escape from punishment by rich white bankers, it’s easy to be cynical about law and order in America. Is A Place Where Women Can Engage In Real Talk Online — No Men Allowed – When women are with other women that they trust, they often can be completely honest and comfortable in a way that they may not be in more mixed company. A website called aims to be the go-to place where women can speak honestly with each other online, deliberately away from the male gender — a sort of Ladies Four O’Clock Club for the online world. The bootstrapped startup, which is co-founded by CEO Susan Johnson and CTO Neal Kemp, is launching this week out of the current class of Y Combinator.

Omote uses light to project virtual makeup and real-time animations on your face – A team of artists and computer graphics designers have created a projection mapping system that you need to see to believe. Omote uses advanced face tracking technology to project precise images onto a user’s face that can simulate anything from makeup to cascading water. It all happens in real time, and you can see it demonstrated in the incredible video below.


New tool for grading Iowa kids in gym class? Heart rate monitors – The Dubuque Community School District, you see, has decided that starting this year middle- and high-school students must wear heart monitors in gym class to see if they’re really making an effort to lose their quarterpounders, macs and cheeses. As ABC’s “Good Morning America” explained it, the results will be transferred to an iPad and projected onto a big screen in the gym. I can imagine that feelings will be torn about this exercise. You see, their measured gym performance is to become part of the students’ report card.

(The thin edge of the wedge? Is this a precursor to your employer monitoring your brain waves to ensure you’re reaching maximum productivity – 100% of the time? You decide if this is my attempt at humour – or not.)

Vehicle-to-vehicle networks could save over 1,000 lives a year, US says – The U.S. government wants to force cars to talk to each other over wireless networks, saying that could save more than 1,000 lives every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, which would let cars automatically exchange information, such as whether they’re close to each other. The agency will accept comments from the public and industry for 60 days from when the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is published in the Federal Register.

First Smartphone Turns 20: Fun Facts About Simon – A tip of the hat to Simon, long referenced as the first smartphone. It went on sale to the public on August 16, 1994 and packed a touchscreen, email capability and more, paving the way for our modern-day wondergadgets. Here’s a look at some of Simon’s history.


An original IBM Simon Personal Communicator is placed next to an Apple iPhone 4S at the Science Museum on August 15, 2014 in London, England.

Something to think about:

“We think having faith means being convinced God exists in the same way we are convinced a chair exists. People who cannot be completely convinced of God’s existence think faith is impossible for them. Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith.”

–     Real Live Preacher

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wifi Password Revealer – WiFi password revealer is a small freeware utility which will show you all your saved WiFi passwords. If you forgot or lost password to your wireless network – this tool is for you.

For Windows XP and 2003 Server users. your passwords will be recovered as 64 HEX digits, and not exact password which you have entered. This is NOT a bug. Windows XP automatically converts them into this form, and it can’t be converted back. But you can still use this HEX digits instead of real password in order to connect to your wirelesss network.

Administrator rights are required on your PC in order to decrypt stored passwords.


Opera 23 – A full-featured final version of Opera Next Internet browser, integrating modern style with powerful features, Opera gives you the freedom to truly open the web and explore. Includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like Opera’s groundbreaking E-mail program, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat. And because we know that our users have different needs, you can customize the look and content of your Opera browser with a few clicks of the mouse.


Find something unexpected

The Discover feature gives you top-quality news and entertainment from around the globe. Enjoy new content from a variety of categories and read articles from your region, in your language.

Search and navigate easily

Opera has one intuitive, powerful location for searching and navigating the web. Search using multiple providers and view site suggestions as you type.

Browse with style

Opera’s interface combines precision and quality. Integrating modern style with powerful features, Opera gives you the freedom to truly open the web and explore.

Speed up on slow networks

Off-Road mode compresses pages for faster, all-conditions browsing. It helps you stay online when your connection slows down.

Organize your favorites

An enhanced Speed Dial groups your top-visited sites directly on a custom start page. Quickly search and access your favorite content with refined searching and grouping options.

Keep what you find

Found something you’ll want to come back to? The Stash feature captures a page with one easy click and organizes your pages into a simple, sophisticated list. Scan your Stash in a resizable page preview or search what you’ve saved, by keywords.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New powers could give ASIO a warrant for the entire internet

Summary: The broad definition of a ‘network’ in new national security legislation could give Australia’s top spy agency access to just about every computer on the internet, according to legal experts.

New national security legislation designed to make it easy for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to tap, access, and disrupt target and third-party computers and networks is so broad that it could in effect give ASIO access to every computer on the internet, according to legal experts.

Attorney-General George Brandis introduced legislation into the parliament last month that would expand the powers of ASIO, and its ability to access computers or computer networks under warrant as part of intelligence gathering, including the ability to access third party computers in order to gain access to a target computer under a warrant.

Two legal experts appearing before the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security investigating the legislation yesterday warned that the drafting of the legislation could potentially mean that almost any computer in the world could be accessed.

“I guess our major concern is more the situation where, say, computer networks could extend to any computer located on university premises where a person is studying, or all the computers where a person otherwise might work. But our main concern is that that idea of a network is not defined by even such a physical restriction as that,” University of New South Wales law lecturer Keiran Hardy said.

“Some requirements like having reasonable grounds to believe that the person had access to other computers, or a kind of last-resort provision that other means of obtaining that intelligence, aside from accessing multiple computers, might in some way sensibly limit that, whereas there is nothing in the legislation so far to even explain what the potential limits of that definition might be.”

UNSW’s Professor George Williams said it could extend as far as the entire internet.

NSA/GCHQ/CSEC Infecting Innocent Computers Worldwide

There’s a new story on the c’t magazin website about a 5-Eyes program to infect computers around the world for use as launching pads for attacks. These are not target computers; these are innocent third parties.

The article actually talks about several government programs. HACIENDA is a GCHQ program to port-scan entire countries, looking for vulnerable computers to attack. According to the GCHQ slide from 2009, they’ve completed port scans of 27 different countries and are prepared to do more.

The point of this is to create ORBs, or Operational Relay Boxes. Basically, these are computers that sit between the attacker and the target, and are designed to obscure the true origins of an attack. Slides from the Canadian CSEC talk about how this process is being automated: “2-3 times/year, 1 day focused effort to acquire as many new ORBs as possible in as many non 5-Eyes countries as possible.” They’ve automated this process into something codenamed LANDMARK, and together with a knowledge engine codenamed OLYMPIA, 24 people were able to identify “a list of 3000+ potential ORBs” in 5-8 hours. The presentation does not go on to say whether all of those computers were actually infected.

Slides from the UK’s GCHQ also talk about ORB detection, as part of a program called MUGSHOT. It, too, is happy with the automatic process: “Initial ten fold increase in Orb identification rate over manual process.” There are also NSA slides that talk about the hacking process, but there’s not much new in them.

The slides never say how many of the “potential ORBs” CESG discovers or the computers that register positive in GCHQ’s “Orb identification” are actually infected, but they’re all stored in a database for future use. The Canadian slides talk about how some of that information was shared with the NSA.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 18, 2014

Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings;  Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You;  Get discounts on new tech for class;  Switchr: Android task switching made easy;  The struggle to stop work taking over our lives;  Apps to Keep Your Family Organized;  More must-have Google Chrome extensions;  Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls;  Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes;  Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns;  Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF;  British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries;  Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack;  Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA;  EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition.

The digital fightback: The struggle to stop work taking over our lives – While the working day may nominally be 9am – 5.30pm try to stick to those hours in many companies and you risk being labelled a part-timer. Modern information technology has further blurred the boundaries between work and play, with the advent of email and smartphones meaning we’re rarely out of contact with the office. And even if your boss respects your private time, there’s no guarantee clients will think twice about hauling you away from your family. However, a growing number of organisations are pushing back against the creeping extension of the working day.

Get discounts on new tech for class – Buying new technology for class can really eat into your budget. If you want to have some money left over after you’ve bought the necessities, then it’s time to start shopping the student sales. Whether you’re looking to buy a new laptop, tablet, or even a mini fridge, these are some of the best sites to shop. Check out these deep discounts and exclusive sales for students that can help you find the right gear for the year.

Switchr: Android task switching made easy – Every once in a while, you come across an Android app that makes you wonder why that particular feature, service, or behavior isn’t included in the default build of the platform. One such app is Switchr, which allows you to re-open running apps from an elegant dock. You no longer have to go through the app history and then select the app you want to run. Instead, just swipe from the left and tap the app you want to open. It’s that simple and incredibly handy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Big Brother Business Is Always Watching You – Whether you like it or not, there are cameras everywhere that are watching you. In retail stores, on the streets, in the office, it doesn’t seem like you can escape them. What do businesses do with all this footage, and what future plans are in store for video surveillance? Video security company Eagle Eye Networks released a recent report that details some of the key trends happening in business use of surveillance systems.

Ferguson, Mo., police agree: Everyone can film us – The ACLU in Missouri meets with authorities to clarify the First Amendment right of anyone to film the police, as long as those filming aren’t obstructive. After incidents in which police officers have been filmed on cell phones performing their duties in a questionable manner, police forces across America have been reinforcing to their officers that the right to film is, indeed, a First Amendment right.

More must-have Google Chrome extensions – The Google Chrome browser is a great web browser, but with the addition of a few extensions, a great browsing experience can be transformed into a superb browsing experience.

Here Are Some Apps to Keep Your Family Organized – Appointments, medications, game schedules, chores — to make a household run smoothly, you need a safe place to store and share information. That’s where apps come in handy. I found apps that fit every family from traditional nuclear families — parents and kids living under one roof — to grown children taking care of parents to divorced parents with joint custody to people who want to track their pet’s care. Plus, there are specialized apps for playdates, carpooling and chores.

Not sure you want to buy a Chromebook this fall? Try out Chrome OS in Windows first – If you’re considering a Chromebook for school, whether a teacher or student, there’s a lot to like, including a relatively low price and fast boot times. In late 2013, Google introduced Windows 8 mode for Chrome for PCs running the latest versions of Windows. Windows 8 mode for Chrome is pretty much the Chrome OS experience, and will give you a good idea about what it’s like to run Chrome OS full-time.

Mom creates app so that kids can’t ignore her calls – Sharon Standifird served in the Gulf War. She’s climbed mountains. So how hard could it be to get her kids to show a little respect? Her teens, you see, tended to do what teens do. So when she called them on their cell phones, their natural instinct was to press “ignore.” What’s a mom to do? Get mad? Or get spectacularly, ingeniously even? She chose the latter. She began to consider what sort of app might get her teens to see the light. The result was Ignore No More. This charming addition to her kids’ phones does something very simple: if the kids don’t pick up mom’s calls, the app locks their phones.


The Premier League has had it up to here with all your soccer Vines – England’s Premier League is a waving a red card at fans who plan on recording goals and posting the six-second clips to Vine. It saw that Twitter accounts like FootballVines have hundreds of thousands of followers. And on the eve of its 2014-15 season, it took the airwaves with a simple message aimed squarely at its fanbase: No more fun of any kind.


If the Premier League has its way, you’ll be seeing fewer posts like these in your Twitter feed.

Microsoft pulls security patch after reports of BSOD and system crashes – A recent Patch Tuesday security update has been pulled by Microsoft after receiving reports from users getting the Blue Screen of Death, after installing the update. According to Microsoft’s support website, the security update had various issues and it could cause Windows not to boot in some cases; the company has stopped distributing the update through Windows Update as well as its website.

Microsoft Issues Hotfix for Internet Explorer Slowdowns – Having some trouble with your Web browser? Specifically, Internet Explorer? If you’ve noticed that your Microsoft browser has felt as if it’s been crawling to a halt lately, then we have some good news for you: Microsoft knows about the issue and has recently issued a hotfix to correct it.

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about podcasting, but were afraid to ask – There is very little stopping you from making your own podcast. If you can speak, you can podcast. Still, many interested in making their own podcast, don’t have the slightest clue where to actually begin. Until now. In our five part series on making a podcast from scratch, we take you from coming up with a basic premise, to recording, to finally delivering something compelling for the entire world to listen to. Below you’ll see links to our first four parts. Look for Part 5 soon.

Moto 360 price prematurely confirmed by Best Buy – It’s fair to say that the Moto 360 is the smartwatch most would-be Android Wear wearers are waiting for, but so far Motorola has been reluctant to confirm exactly how much the circular wearable will cost. Official details will almost certainly come at Motorola’s September 4th event, but a premature product listing at Best Buy may have let the cat out of the bag early.


The trouble with trolls (and how to beat them) – Zelda Williams was driven off of Twitter by a troll or trolls using the names PimpStory and MrGoosebuster. The accounts sent her messages and pictures that are too horrible to relate here. She tweeted to her followers: “Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please.” This event is the trolling crisis in a nutshell. A vulnerable person. A sociopath or two on social media tormenting that person without consequence, totally beyond the reach of everyone (in fact, the pain caused and the attention grabbed rewarded them). Can anything be done about it? The answer is yes. But first let’s understand the new world of online trolling.

Mozilla launches its new $170 dual-core developer phone, the Flame – Mozilla has launched its new developer device for Firefox OS, and it’s not exactly a flagship. Mozilla says that its new ‘Flame’ handset is “a milestone in Firefox OS device releases”, but its spec sheet puts it roughly on par with many new entry-level devices recently announced by manufacturers on other platforms. For $170 USD (€127 EUR / £102 GBP), including worldwide shipping, you’ll get a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage (with a microSD slot for cards up to 32GB) and a 4.5-inch FWVGA (854x480px) display. There’s also a 5MP rear camera and 2MP front-camera.


Facebook test puts satire tag next to link titles – There’s always that one Facebook friend – You know who we’re talking about. A link to an Onion article gets posted, and that friend goes off about it, ranting about the satire they’re oblivious to, giving everyone else a private snicker before someone finally points out the nature of the website. Facebook is working on a new tag that could bring these entertaining episodes to an end.

Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF By Just Adding “GIF” To The URL – Want to turn something on YouTube into a GIF, but don’t want to futz with downloading third-party apps or digging around for an online converter? Here’s a handy, easy to remember trick: just add “GIF” to the beginning of the URL. After “www.” and before “”


Windows 9 preview could materialize as soon as next month – Microsoft could be shipping a preview release of the next major version of Windows—codenamed “Threshold” and expected to be named “Windows 9″—in either late September or early October, according to sources speaking to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The preview will be widely available to anyone who wants to install it. The final version of the operating system is currently believed to be scheduled for spring 2015.

What’s the optimum number of speakers for your home theater, 1 to 34, and counting – No doubt about it, adding speakers produces superior sound envelopment, but maybe one speaker is all you need.


Supervalu latest major company to fall victim to cyberattack – Supervalu, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, with both company-owned and franchised locations, has fallen victim to a cyberattack, the company announced Friday. Malicious hackers targeted the part of Supervalu’s network that handles credit card transactions and may have stolen credit card information, including expiration dates, actual card numbers, and, potentially, cardholders’ names.

Beware of fake “Gmail suspicious login” warnings – Malicious emails impersonating Gmail Account Services have been spotted hitting inboxes around the world, falsely claiming that the users’ Gmail account has been logged into from an unrecognized device.

Report: British spy agency scanned for vulnerable systems in 32 countries – British intelligence agency GCHQ used port scanning as part of the “Hacienda” program to find vulnerable systems it and other agencies could compromise across at least 27 countries, German news site Heise Online has revealed. The use of so-called port scanning has long been a trusty tool used by hackers to find systems they can potentially access. In top-secret documents published by Heise on Friday, it is revealed that in 2009, GCHQ started using the technology against entire nations.

Who needs hackers? ‘Password1’ opens a third of all biz doors – Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units. The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks. The firm’s threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within “the first few minutes”. “We eventually cracked 576,533 or almost 92 percent of the sample within a period of 31 days,” Sigler said.


Australia: Political clash of luddite QCs and tech are a dangerous combination – Australia faces a dangerous conflation of technology-driven surveillance and an almost total lack of technical comprehension from the political class.

Google starts warning users about deceptive downloads – Google has announced a welcome change to its Safe Browsing service: starting next week, Google Chrome will also warn users about attempts to make them download software that can adversely affect their Internet browsing.


Safe Browsing is a web service that is also used by Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers, and warns users about unsafe websites (malware, phishing), attack sites, and alerts webmasters if their sites have been hacked.

Company News:

Rimini Street did steal Oracle’s intellectual property, judge says – A federal judge has dismissed a defamation claim against Oracle by third-party support vendor Rimini Street, saying Oracle was telling the truth when it accused the company of “massive theft” of its software. Rimini is defending itself against an Oracle suit claiming it stole Oracle’s intellectual property. This week’s ruling is a major setback for the third-party support provider.

Ebay may begin accepting Bitcoin payments via its Braintree platform – Several large and notable companies have started accepting Bitcoin in recent months including Dell, Dish, Expedia, and Overstock. But the crypto-currency may be on the verge of snagging its biggest supporter yet: eBay. The online commerce giant is reportedly in talks with Bitcoin transaction providers to allow Bitcoin payments on eBay-owned payment processor Braintree, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yes, in the coming months you may be able to pay for your Github subscription and Uber rides via Bitcoin.

Google Acquires Image-Recognition Expert Jetpac for Undisclosed Sum – It’s unclear just what Jetpac’s expertise in image-recognition techniques might do at Google, but you can bet the search giant will think of quite a few things.

Xbox Entertainment Studios not quite dead yet – The Hollywood Reporter says that Microsoft is in talks with Warner Bros. to revive its shuttered business for developing original video content.

Games and Entertainment:

There’s Life on Mars in Bungie’s Latest Destiny Trailer – Is it really mid-August already? We’ve less than a month until Destiny lands on September 9 for PlayStation and Xbox platforms like a thermobaric bunker-buster, taking the wind out of everything else’s sails through September’s remainder and possibly beyond. We spent the beta period that just ended exclusively exploring alien-infested ruins on Earth, so the latest trailer should be of more than passing interest as it highlights a very different off-planet locale central to the game’s sprawling mythology, and one we’ve only glimpsed so far: the planet Mars, hundreds of years in our future.


14 games that feel like school – It’s time for school again—bad news for students, and great news for anyone who doesn’t like kids hanging out on their lawn. But who needs to go back to school when you have our PCWorld 2014 Gaming Course Catalog? Learn Astrophysics from Kerbal Space Program! Learn European History from Crusader Kings II! Learn…something… from Frog Fractions! If anyone asks, just say you’re doing homework.


Chemistry 103: Spacechem

EverQuest: The Darkened Sea updates the game that won’t die – EverQuest gamers are getting a new expansion pack, the 21st to have been released for the incredibly long-running online game series, with The Darkened Sea set to go live this October. Confirmed during Sony Online Entertainment’s SOE Live conference this week, the expansion will add a further eight zones to the game among other tweaks.


Girl power: 10 films full of remarkable women, streaming on Netflix – It’s no secret that the movie business has long been a men’s club, but it doesn’t have to be that way. These 10 films, currently streaming on Netflix, show that great things can happen when men and women work together to create more opportunities for women behind the scenes and in front of the camera. And adding some truly interesting female characters never hurts, either. In fact, we found so many performances worth celebrating that there’s a bonus list of 10 more girl-power films at the bottom.

Two ways Silent Hills / P.T gets even scarier – This week we’re having a look at a number of ways in which the Silent Hill trailer released this week becomes more terrifying than it already is. The name “P.T” stands for “Playable Trailer” and was revealed in full just hours after it was first released thanks to one intrepid gamer. The game is beyond scary – no limits, scream-belching horrifying – and it’s not even released as a full title yet.


Off Topic (Sort of):

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange leaving Ecuador Embassy ‘soon’ – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in London for the past two years, has confirmed he will leave the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian Embassy “soon.”

Richard III bone chemistry reveals royal life of luxury – According to a study performed by the British Geological Survey and researchers at the University of Leicester, the king changed location and diet early in his childhood, and then, when he was crowned king 26 months before his death at the Battle of Bosworth, started eating a richer diet associated with his change in status.


The Renovo Coupe is the new poster child for extreme EV – Forget Tesla. That’s perhaps not the official tagline for Renovo Motors and its striking new electric coupe, but it’s not hard to see the retro racer as a push back against Elon Musk’s polished bid to take EVs mainstream. Unveiled at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Renovo Coupe makes some big claims, too, like 0-60 mph in under 3.4 seconds.


Stunning 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sets $38.1m record – A beautiful Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta has set a new global auction record this week, with the 1962 coupe seeing bidding hit $38.1m. The sale – which eclipses the previous record holder, a Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 racer dating back to 1954, on which the hammer dropped at $29.7m last year – took place in California at Bonhams auction house.


Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA – Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter and labelled Google worse than the NSA. Here’s The Dirty Digger’s missive:


That Murdoch is hardly a paragon of privacy is being pointed out long and loud in replies to the Tweet, which aren’t shy of asking just how The News of the World’s infamous phone-hacking practices give the News Limited supremo a platform from which to criticise anyone else’s position on privacy.

Prototype Plane Ditches Windows for Panoramic Screens – Instead of windows in its rather small primary seating area, the Ixion Windowless Jet uses giant screens that line the left and right walls of the plane’s cabin, as well as its ceiling. In Technicron Design’s renderings, the displays provide a beautiful view of what passengers might otherwise see if those areas were instead covered in glass.


Internet tops cable TV in subscriber numbers for the first time – For the first time in the United States, the largest service providers saw more Internet subscribers than cable TV subscribers. The information comes from the Leichtman Research Group, which says that by the end of this year’s second quarter, there were 49,915,000 total broadband subscribers versus 49,910,000 cable TV subscribers.

Silicon Valley tech execs behaving badly – Acts of arrogance are a time-honored tradition among the Silicon Valley digerati. Tech billionaires and power-crazed chief executives live in their own worlds in which codes of social conduct — even some laws – don’t apply. Or, at least, these execs don’t think they do. It seems almost every day some news breaks about a tech titan acting in a way that leave us shaking our heads. Here is a list of a dozen doozies.

Something to think about:

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

–      Carl Sagan

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows Tweaker – Windows Tweaker is a free Windows tweaking utility using which you can tweak your Windows 8/7 both x86 and x64 systems are supported. It contains several tweaks grouped into 11 main categories, and access to 38 Windows tools (Device Manager, Registry Editor, DirectX Troubleshooter, Advanced Disk Cleanup, etc) all in a single place.


Has over 100 useful tweaks for your Windows 8/7 which you can’t find available, by default in Windows.

A one-stop place for all your important tweaks bundled in a single place.

Highly reliable and doesn’t affect your system in any way. All the applied tweaks can be safely undone, without leaving any traces (our main focus is reliability).

Small, efficient and easy to use tweaker.

You can enhance your Windows for smooth running, faster performance and lower memory consumption.

What more??? You can even schedule Shutdowns, configure startup programs and hide files/folders with System File privileges very easily.


XBMC – XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.

While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater.

Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.


EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition – EASEUS Todo Backup Free provides several of the key features from EASEUS Todo Backup Workstation to protect your PC.

Users are faced with the essential challenge: the need to secure their PC and important files, such as system, family photos, music, applications, personal data and financial documents. If you lose any files you like or need to go back to an earlier version, don’t worry, you can recover them in time. It is a complete free backup and recovery solution for home users.


System Backup and Recovery

Backup Schedule

File and Folder Backup

Incremental disk/partition backup

Backup Management to manage the backup tasks and plans

Disk Tools like clone disk, wipe disk

Backup to external hard drive, CD/DVD, NAS for double protection

Schedule backup ongoing indicator to timely notify whether your schedule is ongoing or not.

Backup network shared files

One-click system backup & recovery.

Support dynamic disk – back up and clone dynamic volume.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Boston PD used facial recognition surveillance during 2013 music festival – During the 2013 Boston Calling music festivals, the Boston police department used a facial recognition surveillance system to keep an eye on those who attended. Thousands of faces were captured, according to Dig Boston, via ten cameras that could perform so-called “intelligent video analysis” in real time.

The story is an interesting one, something that revolves around Dig Boston’s reporters “searching the deep web” and spotting unsecured documents related to the Boston Calling surveillance programs. IBM is said to have worked with law enforcement in providing a facial recognition system that would tag “every person” that attended.

IBM is said to have licensed an Intelligent Operations Center, and at the heart of it all was a system being tested via Boston Calling surveillance that analyzed, in real time, things like faces and bodies, skin color, clothing, traffic patterns, and more. In addition, information nabbed from social networks was integrated in real time and factored into the overall equation.

There is a division between what the Boston PD says about the discovery and what the alleged documents reveal. According to Dig Boston, the docs have photos of police officers watching the IBM system while the music festival took place, but a statement from the department said, “BPD was not part of this initiative. We do not and have not used or possess this type of technology.”

Boston Mayor’s press secretary had different things to say, however, confirming that surveillance was used during the two music festivals, summing it up by saying that ultimately the city didn’t go with the software, because it had “not seen a clear use case for this software that held practical value for the City’s public safety needs.”

Revealed … GCHQ’s incredible hacking tool to sweep net for vulnerabilities: Nmap – For the past five years, British spying nerve-center GCHQ has been port scanning internet-connected computers in 27 countries – in a exhaustive hunt for systems to potentially exploit.

That bombshell comes amid fresh leaks detailing the dragnet surveillance programs operated by the Five Eyes nations: America, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

German publisher Heise reports that the HACIENDA program scans open ports on all public-facing servers to seek out vulnerable systems – a basic reconnaissance strategy adopted by countless hackers and other curious folk.

As well as simple port scans, GCHQ also stashes the banner text sent by some server software to connecting clients, and other data.

Assuming the server is telling the truth, these banners can be useful because they typically declare the version number and name of the software – this is information that can be used to look up exploits for known vulnerabilities in the code. And we all know GCHQ et al love vulnerabilities.

Time to ditch HTTP – govt malware injection kit thrust into spotlight – A new report form the Toronto-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab has shown cases of governments running network injection attacks that can deliver malware via any HTTP web connection.

The dossier looks at two hacking tools created by the Italian firm Hacking Team and the German biz FinFisher that use the injection attack vector. Both firms claim to sell only to government sources, although leaked documents suggest at least one sale to a private security company has taken place.

The attack works if a spy or other miscreant fits a Hacking Team or FinFisher appliance in the telecommunications company used by the target. Once the victim’s IP address is known, the injection server can identify his or her connections to website, intercept the passing unencrypted HTTP stream and insert malicious code into the web page.

This happens without any user interaction at all; the inserted code then exploits vulnerabilities in the victim’s computer – perhaps a Flash plugin or browser zero-day – to infect it with spying malware. Governments tend to stockpile exploits for various devices and operating systems.

Citizen Lab says YouTube and Microsoft Live login pages are heavily targeted.

Report: German spy agency inadvertently eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry – To say that this alleged incident puts German officials in an awkward spot would be quite the understatement, especially considering how, in October of last year, word leaked out that the National Security Agency had spied on 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The key difference, of course, is that BND’s recorded Kerry and Clinton accidentally, while the NSA’s monitoring of world leaders’ calls was, by all accounts, an intentional act.


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