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

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