Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 30, 2014

Make your cloud safer: How to enable two-factor authentication;  Why Americans expect privacy: An open letter to FBI Director James Comey;  Use Google’s security settings to keep your account safe;  ASUS unveils new VivoMini PC, starts at $149;  GlassWire review: Free network security tool;  HP Plunges Downmarket With A $99 Windows Tablet;  How to use the Google Software Removal tool in Windows;  Spyware executive arrested, allegedly marketed mobile app for “stalkers”;  Apple accused by the EU of taking illegal tax aid;  You can now play Minecraft on your watch;  Study shows we’ll give up our children for free WiFi;  SAM: A DIY Internet of things;  Game consoles most widely used video streaming devices in US;  California cops don’t need warrants to surveil with drones;  Windows Inspection Tool Set (free).

Why Americans expect privacy: An open letter to FBI Director James Comey – Balancing liberty and security is one of the great challenges of this century. In this open article to FBI Director James Comey, ZDNet Government’s David Gewirtz explain why Americans demand both.

Make your cloud safer: How to enable two-factor authentication for the most popular cloud services – Step-by-step instructions to help you tighten security and dramatically reduce the risk that crucial cloud services will be compromised. If you use a Microsoft or Google account, Office 365, Dropbox, Facebook, or Twitter, keep reading.

Use Google’s new panel in security settings to keep your account safe – The settings aren’t new, but the wizard-like presentation is a new addition. It walks you through five important security settings for your Google account.

Facebook’s new ‘Atlas’ ad platform will follow us around on non-Facebook sites – Facebook’s new ‘Atlas’ ad platform will follow us around on non-Facebook sites. The ad technology will enable Facebook partners to siphon user data from Facebook’s deep, deep sea and use it to super-target ads at users on and off its website, no matter what wireless or wired device we’re using.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Getting started with canned responses in Gmail – Canned responses in Gmail lets you compose replies to common messages you may receive, and saves them for future use. In just a few clicks, you can insert one of your pre-written replies, allowing you to tackle the messages that you might normally read and forget to answer when you have a free moment. Here’s how to use Gmail canned responses.

How to remove the Windows shortcut arrow from desktop icons – Shortcuts point to files–usually but not always programs–that are stored elsewhere on your drive. If you drag and drop a program from the Start menu to the desktop, you create a shortcut to the original program. To make it clear that it’s a shortcut and not the original file, Windows displays an arrow in the lower-left corner of the icon. If you don’t like the arrows, you can turn them off by editing the Windows Registry. But William asked for a safe solution, so I’m offering an easier, less dangerous way to make the change.

5 reasons why Ello isn’t the second coming of Facebook – Ello is not the revelatory social network that will finally kill Facebook. It’s a fledgling site with plenty of potential, but Ello won’t be able to coast on the ability to use pseudonyms and its lack of ads for long. The network needs to make five drastic improvements to prove it’s more than just a flash in the pan.

GlassWire review: This free network security tool tells all about your network traffic – Who is your computer talking to? Your browser isn’t the only application that’s sending data online. Your word processor might be phoning home; a file undelete utility might be talking to its mother ship, and even Windows’ own services may surprise you. These are not necessarily nefarious actions, but they’re worth knowing about. GlassWire is a free and beautiful utility that lays all of this bare.


HP Plunges Downmarket With A $99 Windows Tablet, $199 Windows Notebook – The race to the bottom is back. Reminiscent of the netbook war of yesteryear, HP just followed Toshiba’s lead with a $99 tablet along with introducing a $199 Windows notebook. Expect to see these colorful devices at a department superstore near you. HP hasn’t revealed the specs powering these Windows 8 machines. That’s by design and as we’ve said for years, the spec is dead anyway. HP is clearly hoping to sell these devices on price alone although both include one year of Office 365 and 60 minutes of Skype calls each month.


ASUS unveils new VivoMini PC, starts at $149 – This is considered a barebones PC which means you’ll have to provide a few of your own components to complete the package. In addition to the Celeron CPU, the VivoMini has a Gigabit Ethernet port (WiFi cards are supported), four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort out, 1/8″ audio out (headphones/PC speakers), SD Card slot, Intel HD graphics and two PCIe slots (one half length, one full length).  You’ll need to provide your own m-SATA SSD and RAM, to which the VivoMini will support up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 through two SO-DIMM slots.


Adobe Brings Photoshop For Chromebooks To Its Education Customers – For the longest time, pundits said that Google’s Chromebook initiative wouldn’t amount to much because Chrome OS couldn’t run complex applications like Photoshop. Those pundits will have to find another example now, because starting today, Photoshop will run on Chrome OS and on Chrome for Windows (if you are an Adobe education customer).

GoPro’s New Entry-Level Hero Could Be The Category King – GoPro has a new lineup of Hero cameras, including the next-gen Hero4 with fancy 4K video features and touchscreen back displays, but the introduction of a new entry-level Hero today could be what brings the action camera category to the next level. The Hero is similar to the “White” tier of devices GoPro has sold until now, but it’s especially cut-rate at just $130, and packs features the competition just can’t match, like integration into a waterproof housing and automatic low-light shooting mode optimizations.


How to use the Google Software Removal tool in Windows – Not sure if you have a malicious toolbar or extension messing with your settings? Check out this tool from Google to investigate what’s going on with Chrome.

SAM: A DIY Internet of things – Using Bluetooth modules and a drag-and-drop software builder, SAM is a kit that allows you to build almost anything you can dream up.


10 things to know about the state of tech in education – Tech in education is facing several key challenges. As talk of the skills gap, and whether kids should be trained for jobs or broader skillsets like digital literacy gains steam, there are problems and solutions similarly gaining and losing ground. One point of consensus seems to be that there are going to be a lot of tech-based jobs in the future, and not enough people to fill them. And the education system needs to do a better job of stepping up to help groom more future tech workers. Here are 10 things you should know about tech and education, and how folks are looking toward preparing kids for that future.


Apple Just Patched The Shellshock Bug In OS X – While Apple was quick to proclaim that the “vast majority” of OS X users weren’t susceptible to the bug and that only users who’d tinkered with “advanced settings” needed to act, that doesn’t mean they want to leave the door open even a bit. They’ve just pushed a security patch for the bug, and you probably want to nab it sooner than later. The patch seemingly hasn’t made it into OS X’s built-in software update tool just yet, which just means you have to download it manually for now.

Spyware executive arrested, allegedly marketed mobile app for “stalkers” – The chief executive officer of a mobile spyware maker was arrested over the weekend, charged with allegedly illegally marketing an app that monitors calls, texts, videos, and other communications on mobile phones “without detection,” federal prosecutors said. “Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life—all without the victim’s knowledge.”


No black art to the Blackphone’s quest for smartphone privacy – While the Blackphone is off to a lukewarm start, our hands-on with the privacy-protective, Android-based smartphone finds that it simplifies staying safe on the go.

Report: Crime-as-a-Service tools and anonymization help any idiot be a cyber-criminal – Almost any idiot with malicious intentions can jump into the cybercrime arena thanks to ‘Crime-as-a-Service’ tools that lower the entry barriers into cybercrime; wannabe cyber-criminals who lack technical expertise can simply buy the tools and skills needed. In fact, “Crime-as-a-Service business models” and anonymization have helped many traditional organized crime groups move to cybercrime, according to the 2014 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) published today. It’s easy to do and difficult to be busted since “criminals in cyberspace do not need to be close to the crime scene, they might never even travel to the target country, and can attack a large number of victims globally with minimum effort and risk by hiding their identity.”

Company News:

Apple accused by the EU of taking illegal tax aid – Apple will soon be publicly accused by the European Commission of taking illegal tax aid via a special deal with the Irish government. The deal ensured Apple was paying less than 2% taxes.

Google faces accusations Search isn’t fair to all – To further combat Google’s long-reach with regard to search, a collective of smaller entities have taken up arms against them. A new website, Focus on the User, has been launched to convince European lawmakers that Google isn’t playing fairly. Rather than foster a free and open Internet search engine, the site claims Google is using it to their advantage.

Free Consumer Credit Monitoring Company Credit Karma Raises $75M, Now Valued At Over – A consumer-facing credit monitoring startup, Credit Karma, is now worth more than a billion dollars following a new round of funding. The company announced this morning it has raised an additional $75 million in growth funding from Google Capital, Tiger Global Management, and Susquehanna Growth Equity. The new round comes 8 months after its Series C – a time when Credit Karma’s user base increased by over 50%. The WSJ reported the $1 billion+ valuation this morning, and the company confirms it’s accurate.

Blackberry promises a second Passport, new ‘concept device’ – This is an interesting device — and that’s putting it mildly. Though many see the device as an edge-case scenario at best, it may be part of Blackberry’s plan to get back into our mindset, if not our pockets. The Passport may not be a one-off, either, as CEO John Chen suggests they’ll have another attention-grabber soon.


Apple gives tours of testing facilities to assuage iPhone bending fears – Following media reports about “widespread” bending of its new flagship smartphone, Apple pushed back, giving tours of its iPhone testing facilities and facts about the spread of “Bendgate”.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Game consoles most widely used video streaming devices in US – Last week, a Dallas-based market research firm published a report about American video-streaming habits, and its numbers told a story that we saw coming for years: Video game consoles have become the leading device category for video streaming app use.


Netflix’s first original movie will be a sequel to ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ – Netflix has made original, exclusive TV shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black a major part of its content strategy over the last few years, and now the company has a new piece of the puzzle to unveil. According to Deadline and Variety, Netflix will release the sequel to Ang Lee’s surprise international hit martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at the same time as it hits movie theaters.

You can now play Minecraft on your watch – You know the phrase “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”? That has basically become the motto of Android Wear. We’ve seen crazy full screen keyboards and full-on web browsers, but Corbin Davenport has taken things to a whole new level. With a little bit of tinkering and an APK sideload or two, Minecraft Pocket Edition is now running buttery smooth on this Android Wear watch, which opens the door to a whole new kind of crazy for this platform.


Deviously Simply Strategy Game ‘ICE’ Lands on Android – Can a game created in only 48 hours be any good? It turns out, yeah, it can. ICE is a new game on Android (coming soon to iOS) that was created for the Ludum Dare, an online game jam that encourages developers to make a game in just one weekend. Piotr Wójcik conceived of ICE as a simple real-time strategy game, but it’s also oddly addictive.


Samsung Courts Gamers With 27-Inch Curved Monitor – The 27-inch curved monitor includes a Game Mode to automatically adjust the action. The device sports a 1,920-by-1,080 display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 178-degree extra-wide viewing angle. It comes in at 24.54 by 14.40 by 2.34 inches, weighs just over 12 pounds, sits on a curved T-shape stand, and will connect to Macs as well as PCs.


Leading ladies of gaming celebrated on Humble Bundle – Pay what you want for games like Lilly Looking Through, Ms. Splosion Man and The Cat Lady with female protagonists and help raise money for the Girls Make Games scholarship fund.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Study shows we’ll give up our children for free WiFi – When you’re logging into a public WiFi hotspot, do you read the terms and conditions? Probably not, but you’re not alone. While it’s not clear what percentage of people aren’t reading the fine print, quite a few Britons in London recently gave up their first-born child for free WiFi, all because they didn’t read the T&C when logging in.

John Oliver breaks down the United States’ troubling drone program – The US government has been continually criticized for how it operates its drone program, which is being used to kill militants in the Middle East using standards that are unclear and loose at best. The government’s unwillingness (or inability) to clarify all of this can make the entire situation fairly muddled, so this weekend John Oliver tried to trudge through it all. In the latest of his long and pointed segments, Oliver sorts out just how troubling the US drone program is. “When children from other countries are telling us that we made them fear the sky,” he says, “it may be time to ask some hard questions.”


iPhone 6 Bendgate explained by confirmed fraud Uri Geller – There’s a magician in the wild this week who hopes to explain the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus bendgate incidents with talk of psychic energy. It’s Uri Geller, everyone’s favorite spoon-bender from the 1970s! He wants Apple to hire him to explain to the world that it wasn’t the hardware’s fault, but that of the energy of excitement in the air over the release of Apple’s newest smartphones.

Man staring at iPad causes airport evacuation – On Saturday morning, a man got off a plane at Sydney Airport in Australia and was so enchanted by the fascinating content on his iPad that he walked into a domestic terminal without bothering to go through security. This event was captured on CCTV and unnerved officials so much that they evacuated passengers.


This is the chaos, captured by one flier, after a man with an iPad wandered past security without being screened.

Something to think about:

“There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.”

–     Sir Winston Churchill

Today’s Free Downloads:

DocFetcher – DocFetcher is an Open Source desktop search application: It allows you to search the contents of files on your computer. — You can think of it as Google for your local files. The application runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is made available under the Eclipse Public License.

Supported Document Formats:

Microsoft Office (doc, xls, ppt)

Microsoft Office 2007 and newer (docx, xlsx, pptx, docm, xlsm, pptm)

Microsoft Outlook (pst) (odt, ods, odg, odp, ott, ots, otg, otp)

Portable Document Format (pdf)

EPUB (epub)

HTML (html, xhtml, …)

TXT and other plain text formats (customizable)

Rich Text Format (rtf)

AbiWord (abw, abw.gz, zabw)

Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (chm)

MP3 Metadata (mp3)

FLAC Metadata (flac)

JPEG Exif Metadata (jpg, jpeg)

Microsoft Visio (vsd)

Scalable Vector Graphics (svg)


Windows Inspection Tool Set – Windows Inspection Tool Set (WiTS) provides list and detail views of various components and objects in a Windows system. WiTS also provides event monitoring and logging capability.

The Windows Inspection Tool Set (WiTS) slices a Windows system in multiple ways, providing you with flexible, cross-linked, filtered views into a Windows system. View operating system information, processes, services, users, network interfaces and connections, file shares, printers and more. Get notified of system resource status and events such as new network connections, process starts, service status and other system events.


Customizable list views show properties of objects in table form.

Flexible user-defined filters and sorting modes allow focusing on specific objects.

Change tracking to allow highlighting of changes or limiting display to only those objects whose properties have changed.

Property page views provide details about objects.

Supported object types include processes, services, CPU’s, modules, drivers, network connections and interfaces, disks, shares, users, groups, logon sessions and the windows event log.

Event monitor displays user-selectable events such as process starts, new network connections, system resource levels and more.

Optional logging of all events to a file.

Cross-linking of all objects, including events, for easy point-and-click navigation.

User command line for running external as well as internal commands.

A full Tcl console with access to the Tcl Windows API for advanced users.

Automatic startup and multifunction hotkey support for quick access.


Gadwin PrintScreen – Gadwin PrintScreen is an easy to use utility that allows you to capture any portion of the screen, save it to a file, copy it to Windows clipboard, print it or e-mail it to a recipient of your choice.

There are several hotkey combos to choose from (PrintScreen is the default). Once you’ve chosen your favorite combo, head to the Destination tab and have the screen print out instantly, copy the capture to the clipboard, save it to a specific folder, or even send it through e-mail. You can perform full screen captures, or only capture a specific window.

There are also six different image formats to choose from, and each one can be resized. With all the customization capabilities, what more could you ask for?


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Ghost of Ronald Reagan Authorizes Most NSA Spying – U.S. intelligence agents have broad authority to spy on U.S. companies as long as they are “believed to have some relationship with foreign organizations or persons” — a description that could conceivably apply to any company with foreign shareholders, subsidiaries, or even employees—according to newly released government documents published this morning by the ACLU.

The trove, which includes documents from the NSA, Department of Justice, and Defense Intelligence Agency, confirms long-standing suspicions that the bulk of U.S. foreign surveillance operations are governed not by acts of Congress, but by a 33-year-old executive order issued unilaterally by President Ronald Reagan.

The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, and they detail the extent of the order — which is extraordinarily broad and until recently largely obscure — and which underpins expansive U.S. surveillance programs, like siphoning internet traffic from Google and Yahoo’s overseas data centers, recording every call in the Bahamas, and gathering billions of records on cellphone locations around the world.

Ferguson officials charging “exorbitant” fees to provide e-mails to press: AP says the tactic keeps public-interest documents from seeing the light of day – On Monday the Associated Press wrote that officials in Ferguson, Missouri have been charging exorbitant fees to turn over public records like e-mails and texts from city officials. The informational paywalls come in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, that spurred weeks of protests in the St. Louis suburb.

The AP notes that charging high fees for public records is a tactic that some government agencies use to discourage journalists and activists from discovering unflattering or problematic information. Officials in Ferguson have said that forwarding certain e-mail and text messages requires expensive IT analysis, despite the fact that public records laws in Missouri maintain that public access to government records should be provided at little to no cost.

“Ferguson told the AP it wanted nearly $2,000 to pay a consulting firm for up to 16 hours of work to retrieve messages on its own e-mail system, a practice that information technology experts call unnecessary,” the AP wrote on Monday. “The firm, St. Louis-based Acumen Consulting, wouldn’t comment specifically on Ferguson’s contract, but said the search could be more complicated and require technicians to examine tape backups.”

In another incident, the AP says that the city of Ferguson billed the news organization $135 per hour for a whole day’s work to recover “a handful of e-mail accounts since the shooting.” Conversely, the Washington Post was quoted fees of at least $200 to receive “city officials’ e-mails since Aug. 9 discussing Brown’s shooting, citizen complaints against Ferguson officers, and Wilson’s personnel file.” Ferguson city officials quoted Buzzfeed “an unspecified thousands of dollars” to pull “e-mails and memos among city officials about Ferguson’s traffic-citation policies and changes to local elections.”

California cops don’t need warrants to surveil with drones – California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have required the police to obtain search warrants to surveil the public with unmanned drones.

Brown, a Democrat facing re-election in November, sided with law enforcement and said the legislation simply granted Californians privacy rights that went too far beyond existing guarantees. Sunday’s veto comes as the small drones are becoming increasingly popular with business, hobbyists, and law enforcement.

“This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances,” the governor said in his veto message (PDF). “There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution.”

At least 10 other states require the police to get a court warrant to surveil with a drone. Those states include Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

As Slate described it, “California’s drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes—just not law enforcement.”

The widespread acceptance of drones has even caught the attention of a member of the US Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said two weeks ago that she was concerned over a lack of unified privacy standards concerning drones.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 29, 2014

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards;  The best way to completely wipe your Android device;  A Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81;  Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options;  Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account;  5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android;  Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M;  Are you ready for 64-bit Android?  Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users?  How to change notification sounds on your Android phone;  Here are October’s free Games with Gold;  Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay;  U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests;  Display Driver Uninstaller (free);  BlackBerry’s Passport smartphone selling out;  Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms;  Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you.

Fraud shop OVERSTOCKED with stolen credit cards – Infamous carding store is so chock-full of stolen credit cards from recent high-profile breaches that it’s gutting its prices due to overstocking. The fire sale makes a mockery of the security in place at some of the world’s biggest retailers, many of which have in recent months been invaded by hackers who have made off with many millions of customer credit cards.



The best way to completely wipe your Android device – A study from security software vendor Avast has suggested that the factory reset option built into the Android operating system isn’t effective in eradicating your personal data from old devices. The firm purchased 20 used Android smartphones on eBay and was able to recover more than 40,000 photos, 750 emails and text messages, and 250 contacts, along with the identities of four of the previous device owners, and even a completed loan application. To make matters worse, Avast employees were using readily available data recovery software to get the job done.

Back up your iPhone photos: Eight affordable (or free) cloud options – Even new handsets can break or go missing. Safeguard your precious photos with easy-to-use cloud services that deliver massive amounts of storage for low or no cost.

5 tips for Google Voice in Hangouts on Android – Now that Google has finally rolled Voice into the existing Hangouts app, there are a few settings you may want to adjust for a better calling and texting experience.

Want to Bend Your New iPhone? Apply 70–90 Pounds – Consumer Reports recently put the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and a handful of other competing smartphones to the test—a will-it-blend bit of destruction, if you replace a crazy-powerful blender with a big device that’s designed to test just how much pressure these smartphones can take before they give out.

Microsoft rolls out Groups feature to Office 365 users, but only on the web – If you’ve been trying to figure out out how to better work collaboratively with coworkers, Microsoft has a new tool for Office 365: Groups. But right now, it’s only for those using Microsoft’s Office 365 web apps.

The 64-bit Android question – Are you ready for 64-bit Android? Jack Wallen shares the information that’s important to those interested in jumping on the newest bandwagon to hit the Android trail.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Forget ‘airplane mode,’ devices are OK’d for inflight use in Europe – Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their mobile phones and other gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said Friday. European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.

PiPO unveils the W4: a Windows 8.1 mini-tablet for $81 – Microsoft has been working with its hardware partners around the world to bring Windows devices to the very lowest price points, and in recent weeks, many examples of its efforts have been unveiled. But prices still haven’t reached rock-bottom yet, as Chinese manufacturer PiPO has shown with the unveiling of its latest Windows 8.1 tablet, the W4. The new device is officially a “concept” for now, but the company says it has been working with Intel on making it a production reality, and claims that at 499 CNY ($81 USD / £50 GBP), it will be the “most affordable Win8 tablet” so far.


Vine update adds needed features for Android – Unlike Hyperlapse, Vine is giving Android some attention. An update rolling in today brings some iOS features with it, like the ability to choose videos from your device, and edit multiple videos down to a six-second clip. All in all, the update should make you want to use Vine much more.

Post-it Notes Get Digitized In A Clever New App From 3M – 3M should be applauded for doing more than throwing out some lame alternative to using your phone’s camera to snap photos of Post-it’s, slapping the brand name on it and calling it a day. Instead, the Post-it Plus app, as it’s called, is surprisingly clever. You can use the app to capture a photo of up to 50 square Post-it Notes at one time. These are then identified with little checkmarks on top of each note. Before creating your digital board, you can uncheck the notes you don’t want to save. After the image is captured, you have a viral Post-it board where you can arrange, refine and re-organize the notes just by tapping and dragging them around with your finger.


Meet Ello, an ad-free social network that’s proudly pro-privacy (but with caveats) – A new social network is generating buzz for its hard stance against paid advertising and data collection. But how the site really works, when it comes to privacy, is a little more nuanced. Ello is open on an invite-only basis, so you’ll need to know someone who’s already in the club to get in straight away. Tens of thousands of people are on the waiting list, according to the site, and only small batches of people are being let in at a time.

Kano Ships Its First 18,000 Learn-To-Code Computer Kits, Fueled By $1.5M Kickstarter – Kano Computing, a startup that plays in the learn to code space by adding a step-by-step hand-holding layer atop the Raspberry Pi single-board microcomputer to make hacking around with code and learning about computational thinking child’s play, has shipped all the hardware kits in its first batch of crowdfunded orders and pre-orders.


Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users? – Microsoft is widely expected to introduce its Windows 9 operating system at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday and rumors have been flying about what we can expect from the successor to Windows 8. The source behind the latest rumor? As spotted by BGR on Saturday, Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that “the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released.”

How to change notification sounds on your Android phone – How often have you been in a public place and heard a phone notification ding nearby, and reached for your own pocket, only to find out that it wasn’t from your phone? Spare yourself the unnecessary confusion and change your default ringtone and notification tone to something different.


Safe from Shellshock: How to protect your home computer from the Bash shell bug – Yeah, it sounds bad. But really, the impact on you at home should be minimal, especially if you take some basic precautions. Windows systems aren’t vulnerable whatsoever—though your router may very well be—unless you’re running a program like Cygwin.

Credit card breach that hit Jimmy John’s is larger than originally thought – Signature Systems says the breach of its point-of-sales system that hit 216 Jimmy John’s sandwich shops is actually 50 percent larger than originally thought. The company said Friday that an additional 108 restaurants that use its payment terminals were also hit. The additional locations are independent restaurants not part of the Jimmy John’s chain.

Here’s How Much Access Facebook Employees Have to Your Account (Answer by Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, on Quora) – I’m Facebook’s Chief Security Officer and I oversee data security at the company. Thanks for the question. We take our role as stewards of people’s information very seriously and have invested heavily in protecting the data trusted to us.

Yet another case of malvertising on The Pirate Bay – The Pirate Bay is famous for its tumultuous relationship with copyright advocates and law enforcement. And yet, despite police raids and numerous trials, the torrent site is still going strong with a new infrastructure, as detailed in a recent article published by Torrent Freak. From a security standpoint, The Pirate Bay has been involved in notorious malvertising attacks, most likely resulting in a large number of infections given the site’s high traffic.


Ex-con Kevin Mitnick now selling zero-day exploits, starting at $100K – He says his firm will carefully screen potential clients and that he’d never sell to an entity such as the Syrian regime or a criminal gang. Then again, he’s not asking what clients intend to do with the high-end exploits.

Company News:

Report: Google taking tighter control of Android – Android is open source software, but if you want to run Google’s version of it, there are rules. Now it sounds as if those rules are getting a bit more stringent, as Google aims to tighten their grip on the platform just a bit. A new report details just how much more Google your Android handset might be.

Softbank in talks to buy Dreamworks Animation – Japan’s Softbank is in talks to acquire Dreamworks Animation, The Hollywood Reporter said late Saturday citing a source. The Wall Street Journal later reported the same news citing “people familiar with the matter.” Following a $32 per share offer from Softbank, the Dreamworks Animation board held an emergency meeting on Thursday, said The Hollywood Reporter. It said Nikesh Arora, a former Google executive and now head of the recently formed Softbank Internet and Media, met with Dreamworks on the offer.

Microsoft to open its “first flagship store” on New York’s Fifth Avenue – As The Wall Street Journal reports, Microsoft has been working on the launch of its NYC store for the last five years. David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s retail stores, told the Journal: “As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience. This is a goal we’ve had since day one – we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it.” Microsoft intends for the new location to be “much more than just a Microsoft Store”, including an “experiential space” that will allow customers to do more than simply browse products on shelves.

Comcast seeks to fix awful customer service, admits “it may take a few years” – After months of getting bashed for treating customers poorly, Comcast today said it’s going to make improving customer service its “number one priority.” But the company admitted that “it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for.”

Pointing up  This past week I bumped up my broadband connection from 20 Mbps to 55 Mbps with my Internet service provider – Cogeco – which, it was agreed, would be implemented within 24 hours of ordering the change. The reality was somewhat different. After a necessary 3 follow up phone calls over 3 days = mission accomplished. 

No big deal right? Except, this transaction followed the exact pattern of  my previous speed bump up requests. In other words, in an 8 year period, 3 speed bump up requests had to be followed by persistent calls to insure compliance.

To sooth the savage beast in me, an offer of “first month free” was made and accepted. Still…

One mistake = it happens.

Two additional identical mistakes = a systemic problem.

Even so, with 10 years, or more, of outstanding customer service from these folks (minus these 3 anomalies) – Cogeco is still tops.

BlackBerry’s oddball Passport smartphone is actually selling out – BlackBerry never intended for the Passport to be a phone that everyone would want to buy, but it’s clearly got a lot of people excited. It’s already sold out at two online stores and has taken the number one spot in Amazon’s unlocked phones listing. Maybe it really is that weird square screen. Reviewers have been saying how good desktop websites look on it and how awesome the extra space is for productivity apps. BlackBerry was aiming the Passport at hard-working business types, and so far it looks like the hit the mark.


Intel investing $1.5 billion in two Chinese chip firms – Intel is investing 9 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in two Chinese chip companies with an eye to boosting its presence in the country’s booming mobile phone market. The two fabless semiconductor companies develop mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, which support 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, Intel said Friday.

Games and Entertainment:

Here are October’s free Games with Gold – First up, if you’re an Xbox One user you’ll be getting free access to Chariot, a new indie platformer game, with some very cute graphics. The game is part of ID@Xbox, the indie segment in the Xbox Store, and give you 25 levels of co-op “physics based gameplay”. Chariot has an ERP of $15, but if you’re a Gold subscriber you’ll get if for free.


Will that game play on your PC? Can You Run It tells you – PC gaming rocks—but figuring out whether the latest game will even run on your system can be a pain. You already know the answer to the question if you have a dedicated gaming rig, but for anyone looking for gaming thrills on their standard issue laptop, things aren’t quite so simple. Finding the answer can be easy, though. Rather than digging through spec lists to try and figure out whether you’ve got a suitably beefy graphics card or processor, get some quick automated advice from the long-running website Can You Run It.

Review of CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for Xbox One – Zen Studios has released CastleStorm, an RTS/Action/Strategy mashup, for the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, so we take a look at whether you should storm the castle or walk on by to something else.


Ryse: Son of Rome on PC adds 4K resolution, removes microtransactions – Crytek is treating Ryse: Son of Rome on PC like a Game of the Year edition that builds on the Xbox One release. That means as well as the base game Crytek has also included all four DLC packs that were released for the console version. So you get 12 new multiplayer maps, a new Survival Mode, and five skins for your character.


Off Topic (Sort of):

A Wearable Drone That Launches Off Your Wrist To Take Your Selfie – “Oh man, this would make a great picture. I wish there was someone else here to take our picture for us so we didn’t have to take a selfie!” Has this ever happened to you? Of course it has. You’re a human being in the 21st century who reads tech blogs. The Nixie aims to solve that. It’s, as crazy as it feels to type this, a wearable selfie drone. A flying wristband, with a camera built in. When you’re ready for your close-up, it launches off your wrist, reorients to frame you in the shot, and then hovers back over for you to catch it. The bad news? It’s… still pretty conceptual. They have a long way to go (this thing looks about as fragile as can be right now) — but even as a concept, it’s damned cool.


Classical musicians honor ‘Batman’ history with an incredible music video journey – The Piano Guys are probably having more fun than anyone else in the classical music business. The group — composed of a pianist, cellist, a videographer, and a music producer — has just released a music video that celebrates nearly 50 years of Batman. The video perfectly matches the group’s new “Batman Evolution” composition, which travels through the classic ‘60s TV show, Tim Burton’s 1989 take on the Dark Knight, and Christopher Nolan’s most recent trilogy. The result is not just some impressive piano and cello work (the two instruments alone were used to make every sound in the composition), but a music video that displays some incredible attention to detail.


Using new Corvette’s valet-recording tech could be a felony in some states – Over the past few months, General Motors and its Chevrolet dealerships have been selling the 2015 Corvette with an interesting feature called Valet Mode. Valet Mode records audio, video, and driving statistics of the person in the driver’s seat when the driver isn’t around, thus keeping low-life valets from being too loose with their filthy mitts while inside a Corvette owner’s fancy car. Trouble is that in a handful of states, using Valet Mode might be considered a felony.


Device allows completely paralysed rats to walk again – By electrically stimulating the severed part of the spinal cord, scientists are able to precisely control in real-time the limbs of a paralysed rat — and human trials are on the way.

As much as half the water on Earth is older than the sun – Earth is a very wet planet — the abundance of water is what sets our planet apart and makes life possible, but where did it all come from? A new study makes the claim that 30% to 50% of the water we’re drinking is older than the Sun itself. It kind of boggles the mind, but the models are consistent with what we know of the early solar system and how stars form.

See Which Parts of the Country Have the Most iPhone Users – Ever wonder if you live in iPhone country or Android country? Wonder no more: The blue areas of this map shows you the parts of the country where people are most likely to own an iPhone, whereas red areas denote Android fandoms. iPhone strongholds bracket the east and west coasts and grow patchy towards the nation’s interior. States like Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans leaning heavily Android outside major cities, whereas California, New York and New Jersey have heavy iPhone-using populations.


Something to think about:

“Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.”

–     Laurence J. Peter

Today’s Free Downloads:

Display Driver Uninstaller – Display Driver Uninstaller is a graphics driver removal tool that helps remove all remnats of AMD, NVIDIA and Intel graphics card drivers including old registry keys, files, folders and driver stores.

Intel, AMD and Nivdia drivers can normally be uninstalled with the Windows Uninstall Programs window. However, often the standard uninstall fails or does not completely delete the old video card drivers. This can cause issues installing new / updated drivers.

After running Display Driver Uninstaller the program will make it as if you are about to install a new video driver on a fresh, clean install of Windows.

Display Driver Uninstaller makes many system changes and the author has wisely built in a function to help you remember to create a new system restore point before running the cleaner so you can revert your system if have problems. However, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use system restore prior.

So if you having issues installing a new driver or uninstalling an old one, Display Driver Uninstaller may do the trick for you.


CCEnhancer – CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.


The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

Editor’s Note:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program. Simply press “Download Latest” and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Discloses New Data On Government Requests For User Information – Microsoft today disclosed data concerning global government request for its users’ data, and information about their accounts in the first half of 2014. The total number of requests, and the number of accounts impacted were similar to the six month period that concluded 2013.

In total, between January and June of this year, 34,494 requests were sent to Microsoft, impacting 58,562 accounts. In the preceding six months, 35,083 requests dealt with 58,676 accounts. The United States, Germany, France, and Turkey were the leading request sources.

Microsoft is granting data less often:

Of law enforcement requests received, less than 3 percent resulted in disclosure of customer content data, while approximately 75 percent of requests resulted in disclosure of “non-content” data. Meanwhile, 22 percent were either rejected on legal grounds or no data was found, compared to 18 percent for the preceding six-month period.

The company also reported that the number of FISA orders that it received in the period landed between zero and 999. Between 18,000 and 18,999 accounts were potentially impacted.

The above data, of course, is only part of what governments around the world manage to extract about us without having to ask permission. Over the past year and a half, we, the global public, have learned extensively about governmental overreach into our data. Those disclosures, led by the leaks sourced to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have caused calls reform to sound out not only from the public, but also from some organs of government.

That technology companies can report the above has been struggle enough. It is not enough.

U.S. Tops Yahoo’s List of Government Data Requests – Yahoo today issued its latest transparency report, covering National Security Letters (NSLs), criminal data government data requests, and government removal requests it received in the first six months of 2014.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests are subject to a six-month delay so the available FISA data covers July 1 – Dec. 31, 2013. Data from the first half of 2014 will be revealed in the next report.

“At Yahoo, our users always come first,” general counsel Ron Bell wrote in a blog post, citing the company’s recent effort to secure from the government 1,500 pages of once-secret documents detailing Yahoo’s challenge to the expansion of surveillance laws.

“We are still pushing for the FISC to release additional materials from this case,” Bell said.

In the meantime, the bulk of the Web company’s data requests between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014 came from the U.S., which made 6,791 government requests for user data covering 12,533 accounts. Of those disclosures, 1,396 involved user content, while 4,240 did not. Yahoo rejected 382 requests, while no data was found regarding 773 requests.


Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial – The non-denial denial is an art that takes many forms in official Washington.

The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.

You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.

The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.

And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.

But the non-denial denial is fundamentally an act of deception.

So when and if the accused has to admit what they did publicly – i.e. by saying something to the effect of “I wasn’t lying because I carefully didn’t answer the real question” – they are de facto admitting that they were intentionally being deceitful. If they are public officials, that means they are admitting they betrayed their public trust.

CIA Director John Brennan had one of those moments last week.

Canada: Spy watchdog’s past oil ties spark concerns in civil liberties complaint case – A civil liberties group is objecting to Canada’s spy watchdog assigning Yves Fortier to investigate alleged spying on environmental activists, citing a conflict due to his former petroleum industry ties.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s lawyer has written to the Security Intelligence Review Committee asking that Fortier “recuse himself from any participation” in the matter since he once sat on the board of TransCanada Pipelines — the company behind the Keystone XL project.

Fortier, one of three review committee members, was recently appointed to lead an investigation into the association’s complaint that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service gathered and shared information about activists opposed to Canada’s energy policies.

The association filed the complaint with the review committee in February after media reports suggested that CSIS and other government agencies consider protests and opposition to the petroleum industry as possible threats to national security.

The complaint also cited reports that CSIS had worked with and shared information with the National Energy Board about so-called “radicalized environmentalist” groups seeking to participate in the board’s hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would see Alberta crude flow to westward to Kitimat, B.C.

The groups included Leadnow, ForestEthics Advocacy Association, the Council of Canadians, the Dogwood Initiative, EcoSociety, the Sierra Club of British Columbia and Idle No More, the indigenous rights movement.

“None of these groups are criminal organizations, nor do they have any history of advocating, encouraging, or participating in criminal activity,” says the Feb. 6 complaint.

The CSIS Act is clear that “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent” cannot be regarded as threats to national security, the complaint adds.

Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights – The UK needs a digital bill of rights to protect citizens against the government’s “indiscriminate online surveillance”, world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee said on Saturday.

The Greatest Living Briton™ was speaking at the Web We Want Festival in London. He lobbied politicos in Blighty to take action in the run up to next May’s General Election.

“A trusted Web is crucial to the UK’s future – our tech sector has led the way out of recession, creating more jobs than any other industry in recent years,” Berners-Lee said.

“A Britain in which people no longer trust the Web as a safe and private place will be a Britain that is less free, less creative and ultimately less prosperous.

China blocks Instagram to stop spread of pro-democracy protest images – The nation of China is no stranger to internet censorship; in addition to the infamous Great Firewall of China, which has claimed numerous victims over the years — most recently the privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo — the country has also repeatedly cracked down on the free dissemination of information at opportune times.

This time around, photo sharing site Instagram has reportedly been blocked across the mainland in another opportune strike likely intended to prevent the spread of images from Hong Kong’s recent wave of pro-democracy protests.

The block was first reported by, an independent anti-censorship blog, at 3:00 AM China Standard Time on September 28. All of Instagram’s IP addresses are currently down, and anyone attempting to access the site in China receives an error page.

The block on Instagram comes during the largest day for protests, with nearly 60,000 citizens from Hong Kong taking to the streets and protesting in favor of what they call “full democracy,” a concept which likely doesn’t include the censorship of internet sites.

Russia wants Facebook, Google, Twitter to comply with censorship laws – The great historical bastion of freedom that is Russia is once again going back in time. The country is now requiring Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to store all Russian data locally, and to comply with censorship laws.

Comrade President Putin signed a law back in July that obliged all web services that are collecting data on Russian citizens to store said data in local datacenters. Of course this is not exactly good news for the likes of Twitter and Google who are storing data in much more open and democratic countries across Europe.

But this isn’t so bad. In light of recent revelations about the conduct of the NSA, GCHQ and others, many countries including the EU want their data to be stored locally and kept safe.

The grim part of the law is the part that follows: These Internet companies will have to, if they want to continue doing business in Russia, comply with the local censorship laws that require “bloggers” and other popular internet users to register with the government. They’d then be closely monitored to ensure that they don’t post “extremist calls”, hate speech, slander and obscene language – like criticizing Putin or calling for equal rights for the LGBT community.

There’s no confusion here: This is full-on state censorship and with the limitations imposed on foreign companies, it will be a lot easier to finally create a “Russian internet,” similar to what China has done to “protect” its citizens.

EU: This Is How We Would Improve Google’s Privacy Policy – Changes to Google’s privacy policy went into effect on March 1, 2012, but regulators in Europe are still pushing the search giant for changes. Now, they have outlined what Google can do to make its privacy policy more palatable to those across the pond.

The Article 29 Working Party, a collection of data protection agencies across the EU, released a six-page “list of possible compliance measures” this week that cover transparency, user controls, and data retention policies, including suggestions for making management tools more accessible.

On transparency, the EU wants Google to make its privacy policy “immediately visible and accessible,” so users don’t have to hunt around for it. If Google enters into any deals or acquisitions that affect this privacy policy, those changes must be clearly communicated. The EU also wants Google to avoid passive language (“we will” vs. “we may”), and all of this should be communicated in a “multi-layered approach” across Google services.

Meanwhile, “Google must provide users with more elaborate tools to manage their personal data and to control the usage of their personal data between all Google services,” the EU said. “This could be done by making the current dashboard more accessible (e.g. putting a link in the Google Profile popup) and to include all of Google services.”

Finally, Google must “define [its] retention policies” and keep EU data protection offices abreast of what’s going on.

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 26, 2014

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law’;  Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat;  How to do a “back to basics” security overhaul;  Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity;  Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free;  Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide;  The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC;  What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice?  Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire;  Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln;  What You Need To Know About Shellshock;  Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC;  Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge;  Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch; Junkware Removal Tool (free).

FBI director blasts Apple and Google for offering encryption – Is it illegal to encrypt the data on your phone? Most would say the answer is a clear no, but Apple’s recent announcement that the company won’t be able to decrypt user data in iOS 8 apparently has a lot of law enforcement figures spooked. Today at FBI headquarters, director James Comey told reporters he was concerned by the move. “I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” Comey said. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”

Experts Say ‘Bash’ Bug Is a Major Vulnerability But Not a Major Threat – The threat posed by the Bash bug—it could theoretically remotely command computers and extract private information—is overblown, cybersecurity experts told TIME. Average computer users aren’t likely to be directly targeted by hackers, experts said. And for the vulnerability to be triggered, the attacker would need to deliver content to the user, and then get the user to execute Bash with that content, according to Kindlund. Normal web browsing, emailing or other common activities do not involve calling Bash. What average users should be worried about are more traditional hacking techniques, like phishing emails and links to malicious websites, said John Gunn of VASCO Data Security.

Security begins at home – how to do a “back to basics” security overhaul on your family network – My wife recently went back to work after spending a considerable amount of time away to look after our children. With her work and home IT needs now converging on our family network, this got me thinking about security in a whole new way. For over a decade now I’ve been responsible for maintaining security resources and advising Sophos customers and partners about security best practices. While I practice what I preach, it occurred to me that my family doesn’t get the equivalent level of attention. The old adage about the cobbler’s kids came surging to mind. So here’s a checklist of what I did.

Amazon’s giving over $135 in paid Android apps away for free – From now through Saturday September 27, Amazon’s giving away 27 premium apps away for free as part of a fall deal—a bundle that would normally sell for $135 in total. There are some apps you’ll definitely want to check out in this latest pack, including the OfficeSuite Professional productivity suite (normally $15), Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro, and games like Riptide GP2, Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode II, and Threes! (Trese Brothers Software’s Heroes of Steel RPG is there too, and while I haven’t played that game yet, the Trese Brother’s Star Trader Android game utterly rocks.)

The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC – PCWorld senior editor Brad Chacos wrote an excellent story about the best software for a new PC. But if we’re talking the barest minimum, anyone with a Windows PC really, absolutely must have a program in each of the categories below.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Laptop vs. tablets: how they compare for true productivity – When the Surface Pro 3 launched, Microsoft made a bold claim: This is the tablet that can replace your laptop. Really? We set out to test Microsoft’s assertion for not just the Surface Pro 3, but for all tablets. We looked at more than 700 tablets and 2,000 laptops, digging into the specs that make a difference, like RAM and storage, display size, battery, and connectivity.

Switching from iOS to Android: The complete guide – iPhone die-hards may find flipping to Android a ghastly proposition, but for the less committed — likely with older iPhones — cheaper and larger Android phones with 4G are a tempting option. Here are 13 tips to help make the move.

Create Android keyboard shortcuts for words that you use frequently – If you’re looking for a way to make typing on Android a bit more efficient, Jack Wallen shows you how to take advantage of shortcuts on the built-in keyboard.

‘Today Calendar’ App Gets Updated With Android L Style – As the release of Android L fast approaches, developers are rolling out updated designs that jive with Google’s new design philosophy. The latest app to get prepped is Today Calendar, a popular replacement for the official Google Calendar app that can do everything Google does and more.


Instagram Lets You #Selfielapse By Adding Front-Facing Camera Option To Hyperlapse – Instagram’s first update to its timelapse app Hyperlapse will let you create mini-travelogues of your face hurtling through the world. Hyperlapse now lets you capture timelapses with the front-facing camera to create what Instagram calls a #Selfielapse.

Hands on with Seek Thermal, the snap-on camera that gives your phone Predator vision – Whether you’re a hunter in the woods or a frequent camper who often gets up in the middle of the pitch black night to go to the bathroom, there are gadgets out there that can help. Not all of them are as affordable as the Seek thermal camera, however. This little apparatus plugs in to your smartphone and turns your regular ol’ phone or tablet into a military-grade thermal camera—and it only costs $200. I got to spend a few days tinkering around with it and was sincerely impressed by its capabilities.


Working with Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager – Whenever you respond to a prompt that essentially asks you if you want Windows or Internet Explorer to remember your password, the operating system will then store your user credentials in an encrypted file scheme know as the Windows Vault. The GUI front end for this vault is called Credential Manager, and it’s designed to allow you to easily view and manage your network-based logon credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords). In this article, I’ll introduce you to the Windows 8.1’s Credential Manager and explain how it works.

Send self-destructing social media posts with Xpire – This free iPhone app lets you schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr that will self destruct after a time period of your choosing.


What’s the difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice? – If you’ve ever wanted to know the major differences between LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, Jack Wallen lays them out to help you make a choice.


Google: Android Devs must respond to customers – If you’ve ever reached out to a Developer of an app and been ignored, you’ll like this update to the Play Store. Now, those Devs who have paid users reaching out to them must respond within three days of receipt of the email. Google is also making it easier for Developers to reach out across the pond and sell their wares in Europe.


Latest Firefox and Thunderbird updates plug CRITICAL SSL vuln – Mozilla Firefox needs patching urgently following the discovery that the open source browser is vulnerable to SSL man-in-the-middle attacks. The critical bug arises because the Network Security Services (NSS) libraries parser built into the browser is capable of being tricked into accepting forged RSA certificate signatures. Man-in-the-middle attacks create a means for attackers to impersonate a bank or webmail provider, tricking surfers into handing over logon credentials that can be relayed to the genuine organisation.

First attacks using ‘shellshock’ Bash bug discovered – Within a day of the Bash bug dubbed ‘shellshock’ being disclosed, it appears that attackers are already looking for ways to use it for their advantage. Security researchers have found proof of concept code that attempts to exploit the serious bug discovered this week in Bourne-Again Shell, also known as Bash, which according to US CERT affects both Linux and Mac OS X.

What You Need To Know About Shellshock – Another week, another massive security vulnerability which is almost a household name. How bad is it? Really bad. According to Matt Harrigan of PacketSled, “It’s really pretty astonishing how bad this bug is and how long it went unchecked. To be clear, the scale of impacted machines includes anything that runs bash. This includes a ton of consumer products, wireless routers, handheld phones, etc.” What do you need to know about Shellshock and what can you do to ensure your machines aren’t compromised? Read on.

Meet Wedg, Another Post-Snowden Personal Cloud Device – As you’d expect for a pro-privacy device, Wedg’s makers are trumpeting the security credentials of their private cloud. They’re using AES and XTS-AES to deliver 512bit encryption, there’s built-in key management, 2-factor authentication on its mobile app, SSL connections, and they’re managing shared content and keys using GPG/OpenPGP. Sensitive user data is also sandboxed away from any third party apps within a secure zone on the device to prevent outside services accessing encrypted content. The project is open source, although the code has not yet been opened up.


Disgruntled employees are increasingly e-sabotaging businesses, FBI says – Employees with an axe to grind are increasingly sticking it to their current or former employers by carrying out “computer network exploitation and disruption”, the FBI says.

Company News:

Samsung has more employees than Google, Apple, and Microsoft combined – Samsung loves “big.” Its phones are big, its advertising budget is big, and as you’ll see below, its employee headcount is really big, too. Samsung has more employees than Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined. We dug through everyone’s 10-K (or equivalent) SEC filings and came up with this:


Google responds to News Corp, but it settles nothing – Today, Google issued an open response to an open attack laid down by News Corp. In an open letter to the European Commission, News Corp explained why they feel Google has too much power over the Internet as we see it. In their open rebuttal, Google explains all the ways that’s just plain wrong.

DirecTV Shareholders OK AT&T Deal – DirecTV stockholders today voted almost unanimously to approve the company’s proposed merger with AT&T. The final results indicated more than 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of the deal, which is still subject to government regulatory review and approval. AT&T in May announced plans to acquire DirecTV in a deal worth $48.5 billion. The move, according to AT&T, will provide more customers with mobile, broadband, and pay-TV service bundles.

Europe’s watchdogs give Google a shopping list of how to sort out privacy – The Article 29 Working Party has given Google a bunch of recommendations on how to brings its unified privacy policy into line with European law.

Tech Firms Desert Powerful Right-Wing Group After Climate Change Spat – After Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the company would no longer support the group, which opposes environmental regulations and has said climate change could be “beneficial,” Yahoo, Facebook and Yelp all issued statements indicating that, for unspecified reasons, their memberships in the group would be allowed to expire. Microsoft had already quit the organization in August, according to the liberal group Common Cause which monitors ALEC, after a Boston-based investment group raised questions about the company’s support in light of ALEC’s opposition to federal renewable energy programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Final announced ‘Titanfall’ DLC now available for Xbox One, PC – The third and final announced map pack for “Titanfall” will be released for Xbox One and PC on Thursday, developer Respawn Entertainment has announced. IMC Rising, which consists of the maps Backwater, Sand Trap and Zone 18, will cost $10 when it releases Thursday, though it is also part of the first-person shooter’s $25 “season pass,” which includes two other map packs. The newest map pack was announced just last month, shortly after the second map pack, Frontier’s Edge, was released.


Asphalt Overdrive Revs Up on Android and iOS – Asphalt is one of Gameloft’s flagship franchises, and there’s a new installment in the series out today on iOS and Android. However, Asphalt Overdrive is a startling departure from past Asphalt games. This one isn’t technically a racer, but more of an endless runner that plays like a racer.

Valve adds a music player to Steam, could a Steam Music service be next? – Did you think Steam was all about games? Think again. Valve has just rolled out a new update for the Steam client and it now acts as a music player, too. By integrating a music player directly into Steam, Valve has removed that hassle. Any soundtrack you purchase through Steam, or which automatically gets bundled with a game, is now instantly playable. But Valve didn’t stop there. If you navigate to Steam’s settings page you can add new directories of music, so Steam Music Player can be used to play all your music.


Angry Birds Transformers Set for October Launch – Angry Birds Transformers hits iOS and Android devices next month, giving mobile gamers a chance to step into the explosive shoes of Michael Bay. In the latest iteration of Rovio’s popular video game, everyone’s favorite furious fowl are disguised as robots. But this time you’re on your own—no help from the likes of Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, or Josh Duhamel. Just you and your bird-slinging animated friends fighting the evil Deceptihogs (get it?).


Hands-on: New Total War game takes on Attila the Hun – Total War: Attila puts players in the fifth century, attempting to rebuff Attila’s campaign of terror and stave off the Dark Ages. Or not. You can also play as any number of “barbarian” tribes, attempting to hasten the fall of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires and claim Europe/Western Asia for your own people. I’m not sure whether you can actually play as Attila, though the way Creative Assembly phrased things it sounds like the answer is no—he’s merely a threat looming on the horizon.


Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA approves drone use by Hollywood, sets precedent – The squabble between those who want to use drones for purposes considered commercial and the FAA, which is working diligently to stamp out all such usage until it gets its regulations ironed out, has taken a new turn. As of today, the agency has approved the commercial use of drones by Hollywood, with some limitations.


Seatylock: Stash a foldable bike lock under your butt – Lately, designers have been putting a lot of thought into building a better bike lock. Clunky chains and hefty metal u-shaped locks are starting to look like relics when you compare them to bikes with handlebars that double as locks or bikes with whole frames that double as locks. Now you have the opportunity to pledge for a bike seat that contains a nifty, foldable lock.


The Seatylock in action protecting a bike.

Was Facebook & OKCupid’s research treating users like guinea pigs illegal? – A Maryland law professor says Facebook and OKCupid did not get ‘informed consent’ from users before conducting psychological experiments, making the research both unethical and illegal.

In 2014, who decides to ban a gay website from in-flight Wi-Fi? – If you were gay and a recent passenger on American Airlines, you might have used in-flight Wi-Fi provided by Gogo just like any other customer. In the course of finding somewhere to stay before you land, you might have navigated to, a version of Airbnb where customers looking for a place to stay can be guaranteed the hosts are gay-friendly. Rather than getting the site’s homepage, however, your browser would have kicked you to an interstitial page telling you the site had been censored by Gogo. The given reason would have been the site had been categorized as “adult-and-pornography.”


WikiHouse open source project: fast and cheap homes – We’ve seen examples of low-cost 3D printed houses (and an unrelated castle), and while they’re all interesting, they are out of the reach of most prospective home buyers. That could change with WikiHouse, a project that aims to provide the public with plans for cheap homes that can be built in a matter of days.


Looking for Work? GameStop Announces Holiday Hiring Surge – The world’s largest video game retailer on Thursday announced plans to hire approximately 25,000 employees nationwide as it prepares for the holidays. GameStop said that’s about 47 percent more seasonal hires than it took on last year. The company is currently recruiting for in-store “Game Advisors” to help handle the holiday activity, as well as around 250 consumer electronic technicians for its refurbishment operation center, and warehouse personnel for its distribution centers based in Grapevine, Texas and Louisville, Ky. Head over to the career section of GameStop’s website to see the open positions and apply.

Something to think about:

“The Internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence”

–      Australian Senator Glen Lazarus

Today’s Free Downloads:

Junkware Removal Tool – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

Junkware Removal Tool has the ability to remove the following types of programs:

Ask Toolbar



Claro / iSearch





Facemoods / Funmoods








MyPC Backup






Snap Do

Swag Bucks


Web Assistant



And many more…


Calibre – Calibre is a one stop solution to all your e-book needs. It is free, open source and cross-platform in design and works well on Linux, OS X and Windows.

calibre is meant to be a complete e-library solution and thus includes library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion, as well as e-book reader sync features and an integrated e-book viewer.

Library Management – calibre manages your e-book collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e., a single entry in your library that may correspond to actual e-book files in several formats.

E-book conversion – calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats. The full list of formats can be found here.

The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a “Book Jacket” at the start of the book.

Syncing to e-book reader devices – calibre has a modular device driver design that makes adding support for different e-reader devices easy. At the moment, it has support for a large number of devices, the complete list of which is here. Syncing supports updating metadata on the device from metadata in the library and creation of collections on the device based on the tags defined in the library. If a book has more than one format available, calibre automatically chooses the best format when uploading to the device. If none of the formats is suitable, calibre will automatically convert the e-book to a format suitable for the device before sending it.

Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form – calibre can automatically fetch news from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into a ebook and upload to a connected device. The ebooks include the full versions of the articles, not just the summaries. calibre has over three hundred news sources and the news system is plugin based, allowing users to easily create and contribute new sources to calibre. As a result the collection of news sources keeps on growing!

Comprehensive e-book viewer – calibre has a built-in ebook viewer that can display all the major ebook formats. It has full support for Table of Contents, bookmarks, CSS, a reference mode, printing, searching, copying, customizing the rendering via a user style sheet, embedded fonts, etc.

Content server for online access to your book collection – calibre has a built-in web server that allows you to access your ebook collection using a simple browser from any computer anywhere in the world. It can also email your books and downloaded news to you automatically. It has support for mobile devices, so you can browse your collection and download books from your smartphone, Kindle, etc.


Pointing up   Although I’m not a big user when it comes to downloading audio books from my library, I do so occasionally. This free application has proven to be invaluable in increasing my range of options.

World Of Tanks – World of Tanks is a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century. Throw yourself into epic tank battles shoulder to shoulder with other steel cowboys to dominate the world with tank supremacy!

You’re about to set foot into a world full of epic tank battles, furious skirmishes, and high-octane excitement. We’re talking, of course, about World of Tanks, the premier multiplayer game for armored warfare.



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI: Apple’s iPhone, iPad encryption puts people ‘above the law’ – Presumably doors, locks and windows, too? – FBI Director James Comey has complained that Apple and Google’s use of stronger encryption in smartphones and tablets makes it impossible for cops and g-men to collar criminals.

“There will come a day – well it comes every day in this business – when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device,” he apparently told a press conference.

“I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘How come you can’t do this thing.'”

Apple has made great play of its tweaked file encryption in iOS 8, which is designed so that Apple doesn’t hold people’s crypto-keys so it can’t be forced to give them up. The device owner’s passcode is used to create the encryption and decryption key in the iThing; decrypting the contents of a person’s iOS 8 phone or slab is no longer Apple’s problem.

Shortly after the change was made public, Google said it too would switch on a similar system by default.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,” Comey moaned today.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Comey said the FBI was in discussions with Apple and Google about their crypto implementations, but didn’t give any details as to what Cupertino and Mountain View’s response was. It’s clear he’s not happy that the Feds can no longer get direct access to the handsets via Apple or Google, although data in iCloud is still up for grabs.

Australia: ASIO powers to spy over the entire Internet pass the Senate – The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) will soon be able to monitor every device on the internet, and copy, delete, or modify the data held on those computers with just a single warrant, under massive new powers contained in the anti-terror legislation that passed the Senate overnight.

The amended National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 will now need to return to the House of Representatives in order to pass, but with a government majority in the House, its passage is assured.

The legislation now expands ASIO’s powers to gain access to an unlimited number of computers or networks with a single computer access warrant, disrupt target computers, and use third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer.

Legal experts and privacy advocates have warned that the vagueness of the legislation would allow ASIO to effectively monitor the entire internet.

In a marathon Senate debate last night, Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam had attempted to move a number of amendments restricting ASIO’s new powers, however, the government was able to rely on votes from the opposition Labor senators to defeat the amendments.

Ludlam warned that the legislation would give ASIO the power to tap every device.

“These warrants will allow ASIO, or those working for ASIO, to modify these computers, to delete files, to install malware, to seek higher levels of user access and to impersonate people — not only on a particular specified device but, as I think we have well and truly established, on any device that it is connected to or is considered to be in a relationship with,” Ludlam said.

“The physical equivalent is if ASIO served a warrant to enter a particular house for a legitimate reason that also allowed them to enter any other house in the street or any other house in the country, actually, completely arbitrarily.”

Australia: Senators’ ignorance isn’t bliss with new surveillance laws – “The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence,” said Senator Glen Lazarus on Thursday night. Hah! A former rugby player says something dumb, that’s always funny, right? No. This mix of ignorance, fear, and sometimes plain laziness infests so many of Australia’s lawmakers — and right now that’s dangerous.

The Senate was debating new national security laws for Australia. Those laws passed. They give the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) expansive powers to spy on all Australian internet users, and dramatically restrict freedom of the press.

As I read the transcript of the debate, what concerns me is not the passing amusement of Senator Lazarus, but how little effort was put into probing and challenging the government’s proposals more generally.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was up for it, of course, as was independent Senator Nick Xenophon and, to a lesser extent, libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party.

But where was the sustained pressure from Labor, the chief opposition party? Oh that’s right, the “bipartisan approach to national security” meant that they’d already agreed to it.

Where was any technologically literate critique from anyone other than Ludlam?

Where, indeed, were the rest of the senators? “I cannot believe that here on a Thursday night this chamber is virtually empty and yet we have seen already tonight penalties increase from one to 10 years [in jail] for various things,” said Greens Senator Christine Milne.

“Incredibly draconian legislation is being passed, and the minister responsible either cannot or will not answer and is smug because the opposition is going along with it.”

The responsible minister, Australia’s favourite Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC, was indeed smug.

When asked by Ludlam what kinds of things, specifically, ASIO would be empowered to do under a computer access warrant, Brandis’s reply was dismissive. “What ASIO would be empowered to do would be that which is authorised by the warrant, which is in turn governed by the terms of the act,” he said.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 25, 2014

Consumers Love Their…Desktop PCs?  9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt;  5 ways to use your PC remotely; 10 Must-Have iPhone Apps;  BlackBerry Passport hands-on;  How to restore an iPhone after the botched iOS 8.0.1 update;  New app makes iPhone camera more like a DSLR;  Netflix on Linux: How to get it today;  Use Twitter’s search operators to find specific tweets;  ‘Bigger than Heartbleed’: Bash bug could leave IT systems in shellshock;  In-app browsers for iOS may be sniping your data;  Netflix rejects Canadian regulator’s bid for customer data;  Walmart Now Offering Low-Cost Mobile Checking Accounts;  Nationwide restaurant chain Jimmy John’s hacked;  Don’t Miss the New Humble Mobile Bundle for Android;  The 25 Biggest Video Games of Fall 2014;  Assange dubs Google ‘privatized NSA,’ pillories Eric Schmidt.

Consumers Love Their…Desktop PCs? – The customer is always right, but not always happy: The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reported that buyers are increasingly displeased with computing devices. According to the 2014 ACSI report, satisfaction with PCs fell 1.3 percent, earning the category a score of 78 out of 100. Laptops took the hardest hit, dropping 4 percent over the year, while their more portable cousin, tablets, dipped only 1 percent. In a surprise twist, however, desktops actually gained favor, and three points, to take the lead. It remains unclear just what led to the sudden change of heart, but ACSI chairman and founder Claes Fornell has an idea.

5 ways to use your PC remotely – Your PC isn’t really stuck at home. You can access the desktop, your files, and even gaming horsepower on the go. You can turn on your PC from halfway around the world! How, you ask? Let’s start with catch-all remote desktop solutions before following up with more specific remote control and access tools for gaming, productivity, and more.

9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt – In a new book out this week chock full of Google-flavored business wisdom, How Google Works, Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt and former Senior Vice President of Products Jonathan Rosenberg share nine insightful rules for emailing (or gmailing!) like a professional.

10 Must-Have iPhone Apps – If you have (or are waiting for) a new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, you have some killer hardware. But even with the latest and greatest phone, it’s still all about the apps.

Apple pulls iOS 8.0.1 update due to issues with Touch ID and connectivity – Apple has pulled the latest update for iOS 8 after widespread reports from users that it managed to break Touch ID functionality and cellular service on their iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

How to restore an iPhone after the botched iOS 8.0.1 update – A bug in Apple’s release of iOS 8.0.1 has broken iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices. Here’s how you can fix them.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

11 Headache-Inducing Apple Product Glitches – iPhone 6 Plus #BendGate is not the first time Apple products were released with bugs. In the competitive world of consumer technology, where there are billion-dollar paydays for being the first to perfect a technology that captures the public’s imagination, it’s very much in companies’ interest to keep their cards very close to their corporate chest. That means that in Apple’s case, much of its testing appears to be conducted within the confines of its Cupertino headquarters (though there might be a good reason for that). This inevitably leads to issues to identified and fixed only after the devices hit consumers’ hands.

New Nexus devices launching mid-October, says report, with Android L coming Nov 1 – The long-awaited Nexus 9 tablet, built by HTC, and Nexus 6 handset, from Motorola, are said to be launching on October 15 or 16, followed shortly after by the rollout of Android L to other devices.

New app makes iPhone camera more like a DSLR – Part of the knock on mobile photography is the lack of controls. Unlike a DSLR, the ability to control things like exposure are typically lost on a smartphone. With increased third-party integration in iOS 8, a new app aims to bring you some of the controls you want on a DSLR, but on your iPhone. Manual is aptly named, appropriately priced, and downright cool. The app gives you pure control of your iPhone camera, letting you alter things like exposure, shutter, ISO, white balance, and focus. You also get a thirds grid by default, and a fill-flash gives you better control in terrible lighting.


DxOMark crowns iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus as camera kings – It’s never just about megapixels. Just days after DxOMark ranked the Sony Xperia Z3, with its 20.7 megapixel sensor and highfalutin camera specs, it has wrested the laurel away and handed it over to the iPhone 6 siblings, giving both an equal score of 82, the highest smartphone to receive that mark to date.

BlackBerry Passport hands-on: 5 things you’ll love and 4 things you’ll hate – The BlackBerry Passport has some truly appealing features for productivity power users–but some awfully unappealing ones, too.


Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to go on sale in 140 countries by the end of October – Samsung has now confirmed that the 5.7-inch Note 4 phablet will be made available to South Koreans on September 26, with it going on sale in 140 countries after that by the end of October.


Wink Relay could be the smart-home breakthrough we’ve been waiting for – A DIY in-wall controller for the price of a cell phone? What’s the catch? Pricey, dealer-installed smart-home systems have one thing in common: A wall-mounted panel with a flashy LCD to control everything. This is the feature that’s most difficult for a do-it-yourselfer to duplicate. So I was intrigued when I heard the DIY-friendly Wink Relay controller had gone on pre-sale for just $300, and that it can manage a wide range of self-installed smart light switches, door locks, thermostats, security cameras, and other devices.


The Wink Relay doesn’t just hang on your wall; it installs inside your wall.

Netflix on Linux: How to get it today, and why it’s such a pain – Netflix on Linux is a hassle for two reasons sure to set open-source aficionados on edge: Microsoft and DRM. But you can get around it.

Whoa: Samsung’s new cable lets you use Galaxy devices to charge other gadgets – You may not need to find a wall charger next time your phone starts tossing out low battery warnings. Samsung just announced a new charging cable that can transfer power directly from a Galaxy S5, Galaxy S Tab, and other members of the Galaxy family to another micro USB-compatible device. Is your phone about to give up the ghost? Just plug it into your charged Galaxy Tab. It’s a nifty idea.


Use Twitter’s search operators to find specific tweets – Trying to find something specific on Twitter? There’s a more efficient way to find specific information; you just need the help of Twitter’s search operators. Read on to find out how to use them.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the biggest phablet of them all, but is it better? – With its 6-inch display, the Nokia Lumia 1520 is a perfect example of the phablet category. Technically it’s a phone, but in day-to-day use it’s an incredibly small, light tablet. Here are my impressions after a week of use.



‘Bigger than Heartbleed’: Bash bug could leave IT systems in shellshock – Just months after news of Heartbleed made waves across the internet, a new security flaw known as Bash bug is threatening to compromise everything from major servers to connected cameras.

Apple knew about iCloud security issues, Dev says – The ongoing celebrity photo leaks all come back to one thing: iCloud security. The pics were allegedly snatched from iCloud, which has prompted Apple to shore up cloud storage security. A new report claims Apple wasn’t caught off-guard by the attacks, and knew about severe vulnerabilities as far back as March of this year. Ibrahim Balic tells Daily Dot he was in communication with Apple long before celebs had photos pinched and placed on 4Chan and Reddit. He was able to successfully hack iCloud accounts using “brute force”, and let Apple know about his success via direct email as well as Apple’s online bug reporting tool.

In-app browsers for iOS may be sniping your data – The hits keep coming for iOS today, don’t they? A new report suggest in-app browsers for iOS can log you keystrokes, right down to your username and/or password. Via a video, which you can see below, Developer Craig Hockenberry shows just how vulnerable you are outside of Chrome or Safari. An in-app browser is one that an app defaults to when you click a link. This is usually found in third-party Twitter or email clients, but isn’t limited to those types of apps. The vulnerability isn’t limited to the newest version of iOS, either; it affects both iOS 7 and iOS 8.


Nationwide restaurant chain Jimmy John’s hacked – Another retail shop has been hit with a point-of-sale information breach. Jimmy John’s, a nationwide sandwich shop operating over 1,900 stores, reports they’ve been hacked. Just like Home Depot and Target ahead of them, this one points right back to the point of sale terminal.

Pro tip: Turn off location reporting for more privacy – If you’re looking to gain even more privacy from/for your Android smartphone, Jack Wallen shows you how (and why) you might want to turn off location reporting.

Japan Airlines customers’ data leaked – Japan Airlines, or JAL, says personal information of up to 750,000 customers of its miles program had been leaked due to a cyber attack, without confirming if banking details had also been affected. JAL has not yet confirmed if the customers’ passwords or banking account and card details have also been leaked.

Company News:

Walmart Now Offering Low-Cost Mobile Checking Accounts Through Exclusive Deal With Green Dot’s GoBank – Walmart is getting into the mobile banking space, the company announced this morning, through a partnership with financial services provider Green Dot Corporation. The company’s low-cost checking account product called GoBank is now being made available exclusively at Walmart, offering customers an overdraft-free bank account with no minimum balance requirements.

Netflix rejects Canadian regulator’s bid for customer data – Netflix has pushed back against a request by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for what it says is confidential information on subscribers, as well as sensitive data of a potentially competitive nature. This follows an order for such data that was made last week by the regulator.

Pointing up As a Canadian, I applaud Netflix’s decision. The “regulator” in question is nothing more than a government sanctioned cabal of senior ex-telecom arse lickers, tasked with screwing over the Canadian consumer – at every opportunity. Time to relegate this anachronism to the scrapheap.

Report: Apple Buys Digital Magazine Platform Prss – It appears the deal went down a few months ago, based on a tweet from Prss co-founder Michel Elings that chronicled his move from the Netherlands to Palo Alto. But it did not make headlines until Dutch blog iCulture broke the news on Tuesday. Citing an anonymous source, iCulture said several Prss employees have also relocated to San Francisco.

Amazon dips toe in connected home industry – According to reports, the online retail giant is quietly exploring the business potential of smart appliances and the connected home.

Adobe closes China branch, most of 400 employees to be dismissed – Due to poor financial performance, the American software company Adobe is shutting down its Mainland China headquarters and many of its 400 employees will be dismissed, Caixin reports. Adobe employees based in the company’s Beijing office were summoned to a local hotel Wednesday morning for a 15-minute meeting during which they were informed that the majority of the staff would be dismissed. About 30 employees will be reassigned to the offices in the U.S. and India, and only the sales department will remain in the mainland China market, said another report.

Games and Entertainment:

Don’t Miss the New Humble Mobile Bundle for Android – There is a new Humble Mobile Bundle available for Android users, and it offers some excellent games at a low price you get to choose yourself. This bundle contains seven great games across three tiers with more to come later. Remember, the sooner you grab the Humble Bundle the less it will cost to unlock all the games.


The 25 Biggest Video Games of Fall 2014 – This fall’s biggest PC, console and handheld video games are some of the most promising we’ve seen in years.


Forza Horizon 2: massive multiplayer online, massive fun – Forza Horizon 2 is the latest installment of Microsoft’s console racing franchise, and it brings the driving-meets-MMO concept to the Xbox One. As with its predecessor, Forza Horizon 2 is built from Forza Motorsport DNA, which UK-based Playground Games have combined with experience gleaned from titles like Project Gotham Racing, TOCA, and DiRT. Once again, the result is a driving game with that familiar Forza look and feel, but it’s tuned to appeal to a slightly different audience.


Major League Gaming is opening an arena for e-sports in the US next month – Competitive gaming is growing so huge in popularity that it will soon have a dedicated arena in the United States. Major League Gaming has announced that the Arena will open in Columbus, Ohio next month. The company describes it as a “state of the art venue designed to showcase and broadcast competitive gaming year round.” The 14,000-square-foot venue has stadium seating where “hundreds” of spectators can watch tournaments live, but players and teams participating in those contests won’t be distracted by outside cheers thanks to soundproof booths. MLG says the Columbus arena will offer visitors the enthralling experience of its Pro Circuit events but “in a more intimate setting.”


Lego Big Bang Theory set could be their geekiest ever – Brace yourselves, Big Bang Theory fans! There may be an official Lego reproduction of Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment headed your way in the very near future thanks to a successful Lego Ideas campaign.


Star Wars: Galactic Defense coming soon to Android, iOS – If you were concerned that the “Star Wars” franchise might leave any game genre unturned, rest easy. Star Wars: Galactic Defense is coming soon for Android and iOS, marking the first time the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire will duke it out in a tower-defense setting.


Off Topic (Sort of):

A properly licensed gallery of Alex Wild’s amazing insect photography – Wild was kind enough to share with Ars his personal experiences of being a copyright-reliant photographer in the Internet age. His imagery has recently appeared on billboards, YouTube commercials, pesticide spray labels, website banners, exterminator trucks, T-shirts, iPhone cases, stickers, company logos, e-book covers, trading cards, board games, video game graphics, children’s books, novel covers, app graphics, alt-med dietary supplement labels, press releases, pest control advertisements, crowdfunding promo videos, coupons, fliers, newspaper articles, postage stamps, advertisements for pet ants (yes, that’s a thing), canned food packaging, ant bait product labels, stock photography libraries, and greeting cards. And that list includes only the outlets that displayed his work without permission.


The First Four-Seater, Solar-Powered Vehicle Hits The U.S. Road – Stella, the first ever family sized road vehicle that runs on the sun has made its U.S. debut. The car took first place in the World Solar Challenge and won the Michelin Cruiser Class for completing a 3,000 kilometer journey from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia last fall. While other solar-powered vehicles have been made for racing, the solar-powered Stella is the first vehicle made for road travel. A large solar panel sits atop the roof to power the car up to 500 miles on a single charge. Compare that to a Tesla Roadster, which can run on an electric charge for 245-300 miles.


Facebook says its internet drones will be the size of 747s and fly for years – We’ve known for a few months now that Facebook wants to beam wireless internet access to unconnected parts of the world using solar-powered, laser-equipped drones. But now one of the leaders of the project has revealed more mind-boggling details, including the fact that Facebook envisions drones the size of a Boeing 747 commercial airliner and wants to keep them flying for months, even years, at a time.

DHL drone will make deliveries to German island starting Friday – Starting Friday, DHL will use drones to deliver medical supplies to a small German island. The company’s quad-rotor “parcelcopter” will transport packages to the island of Juist, home to between 1,500 and 1,700 people, and DHL claims this marks the first unmanned drone delivery service to launch in Europe. Flights will occur daily through October; Reuters says the drone will make trips when ferries and flights — the typical methods of traveling to Juist — aren’t running.


This Emma Watson hoax is proof the internet is broken – Behold the viral bot-owners. After Emma Watson’s speech at the United Nations aimed at Gender equality earlier this week, a viral campaign was launched in the opposite direction. A website suggesting there’d be a leak of nude photos of the actress went up – “EmmaYouAreNext” was released and a viral marketing scheme was hatched.


India’s MOM Spacecraft Enters Mars Orbit – India’s unmanned, shoestring-budget Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft entered Mars orbit on Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reported. The MOM orbiter, also known as Mangalyaan or “Mars craft” in Hindi, is the first spacecraft sent by an Asian nation to travel to Mars. The probe joins a handful of other spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, including NASA’s recently arrived MAVEN and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, as well as NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, which are operating on the planet’s surface.

Something to think about:

“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”

–     John Wilmot

Today’s Free Downloads:

Foxit Reader – Whether you’re a consumer, business, government agency, or educational organization, you need to read, create, sign, and annotate (comment on) PDF documents and fill out PDF forms.

Foxit Reader is a small, lightning fast, and feature rich PDF viewer which allows you to create (free PDF creation), open, view, sign, and print any PDF file. Foxit Reader is built upon the industry’s fastest and most accurate (high fidelity) PDF rendering engine, providing users with the best PDF viewing and printing experience. Available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

PDF Viewer – Lighting fast PDF view and print of PDF files and portfolios quickly without exhausting system resources.

Easily View Multiple PDF Files – Multi-tab style document display allows users to go back and forth between different PDF documents quickly and easily.

Configurable PDF Viewer – Configure document views with read mode, reverse view, and text viewer options. Configure page display with full screen, single page, continuous scrolling, split, two page facing, continuous facing, separate cover page, auto-scroll, and page transition options.

Bookmark Support – Easily add, edit, and modify bookmarks in a PDF document.

Multiple Views – Rotate pages between landscape and portrait. Configure zooming or adjust magnification using the marquee, loupe, and magnifier tools.


Pioneer Space Sim Alpha 14 – Pioneer is a space adventure game set in our galaxy at the turn of the 31st century.

The game is open-ended, and you are free to eke out whatever kind of space-faring existence you can think of. Look for fame or fortune by exploring the millions of star systems. Turn to a life of crime as a pirate, smuggler or bounty hunter. Forge and break alliances with the various factions fighting for power, freedom or self-determination. The universe is whatever you make of it.

Pioneer is under constant development and has a friendly community of players, modders and developers around it.


LastActivityView – LastActivityView is a tool for Windows operating system that collects information from various sources on a running system, and displays a log of actions made by the user and events occurred on this computer.

The activity displayed by LastActivityView includes: Running .exe file, Opening open/save dialog-box, Opening file/folder from Explorer or other software, software installation, system shutdown/start, application or system crash, network connection/disconnection and more…

You can easily export this information into csv/tab-delimited/xml/html file or copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Excel or other software.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Court Throws Out Case Against TSA Nude Body Scanners – Jonathan Corbett has been at the forefront of challenges against the TSA’s use of full-body X-ray scanners which he and other critics say violate U.S. citizens’ Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches. Corbett, who has documented his efforts over the past several years at his blog, TSA Out of Our Pants!, claims to have shown that the TSA’s Rapiscan Secure 1000 body scanner and other similar devices can be easily tricked to allow a person hiding weapons through security checkpoints.

An independent study presented by researchers from several universities at last month’s Usenix Security Conference appeared to corroborate Corbett’s claims about the ease with which TSA airport scanners can be spoofed.

But the 11th District Court of Appeals did not appear to take the independent study into consideration. Instead, two of three judges on the appellate panel dismissed Jonathan Corbett’s complaint against the TSA’s airport screening procedures on the grounds that his failure to file it within a 60-day deadline from the date at which the Department of Homeland Security agency first deployed full-body X-ray scanners at U.S. airports made it “untimely” on claim-processing grounds.

Australia’s spy agency to get power to tap unlimited devices – Attorney-General George Brandis has said he is not in favour of limiting the amount of devices Australia’s peak spy agency can access under a single warrant because he cannot determine what their requirements may be in the future.

The legislation, first introduced back in June, rapidly expands the powers the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has under warrants over tapping computers.

The proposal was vetted by a parliamentary committee, where it was warned by legal academics Keiran Hardy and Professor George Williams that the proposals could see every computer on the internet subject to a single warrant.

“I suppose the short answer is: The internet is a computer network, and it is commonly understood as such, and that is why there is some understandable confusion that attaches to these words, because clearly it ought not to be directed at that. But, if that is the case, you would want to see text in the legislation making that clear,” Williams said.

Electronic Frontiers Australia’s executive officer Jon Lawrence also warned that the legislation could be interpreted to mean the whole internet.

“It is quite arguable that the definition could be applied to the entire internet, given the way the legislation is currently worded. That will need some additional work to tie that down to what we believe the department is actually proposing.”

But despite the warnings, the amendments proposed by the committee did not seek to place a limit on the number of devices ASIO could access under the legislation, and the government rejected an attempt by Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam to amend the legislation to put a limit on the scope of the warrant.

Deconstructing the Surveillance State (with Julian Sanchez) – Julian Sanchez joins Trevor Burrus and Matthew Feeney for a discussion on the surveillance state. If the government’s been spying on us for decades, what’s new now? Why is bulk data collection so particularly nefarious? What is metadata anyway, and what does the government do with it? Does the government actually catch terrorists through mass surveillance? Why do people treat terrorism differently from other violent crimes? The defenders of surveillance always say “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of” —does this justification hold water?

Julian Sanchez is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, where he studies issues at the busy intersection of technology, privacy, and civil liberties, with a particular focus on national security and intelligence surveillance.

Assange dubs Google ‘privatized NSA,’ pillories Eric Schmidt – The first (and so far only) meeting between Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange turned out to be a bust when it occurred in 2011.

And given what Assange had to say about Schmidt on Wednesday at a Manhattan launch party to promote his new book, “When Google Met WikiLeaks,” it’s unlikely he’ll be able to line up a second tête-à-tête.

Attending the event live by videoconference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he’s been granted sanctuary, Assange called Google a “privatized NSA.” The reference is to the US National Security Agency, whose surveillance practices caused an uproar last year when classified information about them was disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Assange went on to claim that the search giant has links to other departments within the US government and US military.

“People who use Google are the product,” Assange said, likening the search giant’s collection of data for marketing purposes to what some have called the NSA’s strategy of collecting as much information as it possibly can. Referring to Android, Google’s mobile operating system, Assange said it’s “constantly sending your location…streaming back your contacts, emails and everything you search for. It’s all collected.”

Despite his dislike of Google’s business practices, Assange said he and Schmidt are actually “quite similar” to each other.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 24, 2014

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously;  Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone;  Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets;  How to disable banner ads in Skype;  Top free, essential business apps for iPhone;  Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That;  Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline;  3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8;  How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device;  College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity;  Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year;  UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations;  Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’;  Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK;  The best apps for freelancers;  How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous.

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously – Recently, BoingBoing ran an article about how some librarians in Massachusetts were installing Tor software in all their public PCs to anonymize the browsing habits of their patrons. The librarians are doing this as a stand against passive government surveillance as well as companies that track users online and build dossiers to serve highly-targeted advertising. It’s an interesting project and a bold stand for user privacy. But the good news is that if you want to browse anonymously, you don’t have to go to the library to use Tor. Connecting to the Tor network from your own PC is quick and painless thanks to the Tor project’s dead simple Tor Browser.

Pointing up  Quick tip: Don’t install add-ons (Tor is a version of Firefox and it will accept add-ons), since doing so will break anonymity.

Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone – Wireless providers in the US make it easy to pay more than you should for a smartphone and an accompanying data plan. Here’s how to make sure you get the best possible deal.

Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for Android devices on the market?

Top free, essential business apps for Apple’s iPhone – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for the iPhone on offer?

How to disable banner ads in Skype – Before the many updates to Skype post-Microsoft acquisition, simply disabling the promotions options in settings was enough to rid your conversations of unnecessary spam. However, a new banner ad has made its way to the conversation window. This ad wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t often cut into the video feed area when going full screen. Thanks to Reddit user N19h7m4r3, you can disable ads through just a few steps. Here’s how:

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best apps for freelancers – The whole freelance, be-your-own-boss thing sounds liberating—until you realize you’re also your own business manager. You need to track your time and expenses. You need to make sure you get paid. Luckily, there are several apps that can make the business end of freelancing a whole lot easier.

10 Android features that still make it better than iOS 8 – Apple’s new iOS 8 may have blatantly appropriated some of Android’s marquee features—like the Notifications panel and support for third-party keyboards—but it still misses some of what Android users love about the mobile operating system. Your Apple-using friends may try to rub your nose in their shiny new version of iOS on their shiny new iPhone, so here are ten features that Android has that you can retort with. (And of course, don’t forget to remind them that Android L is coming soon, and that will have even more features to boast about.)

Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline – Microsoft is approaching the next cutoff date in Windows 7’s life cycle next month. Here’s what is and isn’t happening after October 31.

Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That – Released earlier this month, Cuddlr lets you find people near you who are down for a friendly cuddle sesh. It works like this — when you see someone who looks suitable, you send them a “cuddle request” and they have 15 minutes to accept. If they accept, you’ll both see each other’s location and you can send your potential cuddle buddy just one 140-character message to, perhaps, coordinate where to meet. You’ll also get real-time updates and walking directions so you can find each other. Not creepy at all.


3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8 – With iOS 8, Apple introduced extensibility in the OS through apps with built-in extensions that can be used inside of other apps like Safari, Photos, the Notification Center, and more. Several app updates have been released that focus on further integrating iOS with extensions. Here are just three must-have apps with extension support in iOS 8.

Wear Tip Calculator Splits the Bill in Seconds on Android Wear – The last thing you want to do after a hearty meal is math. But how are you supposed to figure out the tip without delving into that mishmash of numbers and figuring out who ordered what? Easy—just use your watch and the aptly named Wear Tip Calculator.


Polaroid Cube Review – Is the Polaroid Cube worth the cash? Absolutely. Even without apps, even without a viewing screen. Even without the ability to toss it down a mountain. You’ll be able to pick the Polaroid Cube up in Orange/Red, Blue, or Black (we’ve got Black) supposing you’re able to find those colors in a store near you. We’d recommend checking in with Photojojo first and foremost. Again, the Polaroid Cube itself costs $99 USD while accessories vary in cost. We’ll see more soon!


How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device – So, you’ve opted to root your Android device to enjoy new features and get rid of the bloatware installed by your carrier and the device manufacturer. You root the phone, only to find you still can’t uninstall those apps! Even with the rooted device, the Uninstall button never appears on the carrier-installed applications. What do you do? There are two options.

Microsoft Miracast dongle brings Chromecast-like streaming to the Windows world – Miracast was designed first and foremost to mirror what your screen displays, so it serves as a second, wireless monitor. (It also supports HDCP protected content, so you can “throw” a movie from your laptop to the dongle itself, playing the audio through the display’s speakers.)  That also means that while you can use it to wirelessly display YouTube videos, it can also be used to display a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet, or your PC’s desktop.


Getting started with Talko – New iPhone app from Ray Ozzie lets you talk, text and share photos as well as tag and bookmark key parts of your conversations.


College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity – This obviously isn’t very welcoming news for campuses and their inhabitants. In order to assess the cyber security performance of American higher education institutions, BitSight Technologies conducted a study on the most recognized collegiate athletic conferences: the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, and Ivy League. These schools represent a student popular of over 2.25 million and network footprint of more than 11 million IP addresses.

Kali NetHunter turns Android device into hacker Swiss Army knife – One of the tools we’ve leaned on heavily in some of our lab testing of software privacy and security is Kali Linux. The Debian-based operating system comes packaged with a collection of penetration testing and network monitoring tools curated and developed by the security training company Offensive Security. Today, the Kali developer team and Offensive Security released a new Kali project that runs on a Google Nexus device. Called NetHunter, the distribution provides much of the power of Kali with the addition of a browser-driven set of tools that can be used to launch attacks on wireless networks or on unattended computers via a USB connection.


Free to download, ready to customize, NetHunter puts the power of a pen-tester’s Linux desktop on a Nexus phone or tablet.

The ‘Hacking’ Involved in Stealing Celebrity Nude Photos Isn’t Even Impressive – I talked to former hacker and leading internet security blogger Nik Cubrilovic about the process of stealing celebrity nudes, and to hear him tell it, the hacking skills required are pretty remedial.

Apple’s Touch ID still vulnerable to hack, security researcher finds – The Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 6 can be fooled by the same trick that unlocks the iPhone 5S — but it didn’t have to be that way, says security expert.

Company News:

Samsung gives up on Windows laptops and Chromebooks in Europe – Samsung has confirmed that it is ending sales of all of its laptops – including both Windows notebooks and Chromebooks – in Europe. The move comes as the PC market continues to struggle in the face of increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, reducing users’ dependence on ‘traditional’ form factors, including notebooks and desktops.

Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year – Be it balloons, drones, sattelites or just plain laying cable under the surface, various companies are making an effort to digitally connect the world. Google and Facebook have both vowed to bring the Internet as we know it to parts of the world where connectivity is sparse or absent. Facebook is now laying out their plan of action, saying that they should be able to test drones by next year.


EU tells Google to make more concessions or face charges in antitrust dispute – Google has to improve its settlement terms in an antitrust investigation over its search practices or face charges, following opposition from some quarters to the deal, the European Commission’s competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday. Some of the 20 formal complainants “have given fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google,” Almunia, who is vice president of the commission responsible for competition policy, said in a speech of which the transcript was posted on the European Union website.

FTC shuts down Bitcoin mining rig maker Butterfly Labs – As Bitcoin rose in value and the popularity of cryptocurrencies spiked, companies began cropping up hawking pre-built PCs called mining rigs designed specifically for digital mining. One such company was Butterfly Labs, which was just recently shut down by the FTC over questionable business practices. A quick trot through the Internet will reveal customers less than happy with Butterfly Labs, reporting things like lack of communication and never receiving the product they ordered. The FTC caught wind of their troubles and took swift action, going so far as to call the folks behind Butterfly Labs “scammers”.

UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations – As with Staples, 3D printing is available at UPS stores, something that has thus far been a pilot program. According to the company, it will be rolling out an expansion to almost 100 stores across the US, marking the highest number of printing locations available by a nationwide retailer.

Games and Entertainment:

Activision taps Rudy Giuliani in Call of Duty lawsuit – Back in July, former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega slapped Activision with a lawsuit over Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The reason? His likeness was used without permission, and he was shown committing “numerous fictional heinous crimes”, which apparently tarnished his reputation.


Follow PCWorld’s Steam Curator page for great, hand-picked game suggestions – PCWorld covers a wide world of PC gaming news, previews, and reviews, but sifting through a sea of old articles is a headache when you just want to know which cool PC game you should buy right now. Enter Steam’s recent revamp. The ‘Discovery Update’ overhauled the interface and added a wealth of new tools, all designed to make it easier to help you find games you actually want to play—including the ability to follow “curator” pages of game recommendations from sources you trust. I think you see where this is going.


League of Legends gamers face restricted ranked play over bad behavior – Most sane people know how to have fun and be a good sport, but there is always that one clueless guy who pops in and ruins something for everyone else. Riot Games has ramped up its penalties against those kinds of gamers, adding more restrictions in place for those who forget their manners.


Nintendo releasing transparent versions of the 2DS – Two new versions of the 2DS have been announced for gamers across Europe. They both have transparent casings, but come in a choice of Transparent Red or Transparent Blue. There’s no word on whether these models will be offered outside of Europe, but they will be available as standalone products on November 7.


Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK – Amazon UK has all the deals listed in one place and the standard console with no games is priced at just £324.85. That’s £25 (US$40) cheaper than the official price. You can also select to buy the console with Call of Duty, Destiny, or pre-order it with FIFA 15, Halo, Forza Horizon 2, of GTA V and only pay the RRP of £349.99. So you’re basically getting a game for free. However, the best offer has to be the pre-order for the white Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive, which is listed at the new lower price of £329.99.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’ – On the eve of the release of the WikiLeaks founder’s new book, titled “When Google Met WikiLeaks,” the Google executive chairman goes on the offensive.

How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? Here’s An Excellent Comparison – It’s easy to say that the iPhone’s camera has gotten better over time — that’s pretty much a given. But how much better? Lisa Bettany, co-founder of Camera+, decided to put it to the test. Eight generations of iPhone, lined up in a row… all taking the same photo. The results are pretty damn neat.


Emma Watson urges UN to back feminism – 4chan trolls threaten to leak her ‘nude selfies’ – At the weekend, actress Emma Watson gave a well-argued and reasoned speech to the UN calling for better relations between the sexes. And lo, internet trolls have set up a website threatening to release nude photographs of the Harry Potter star. The website features a 4chan logo, a badly rendered snap of Watson apparently crying, and a countdown clock with about three and a half days left to run. Anonymous comments on a moron-infested board said Watson’s nude pictures would be leaked online when the countdown reaches zero.

This music video is shot in one-take and uses 14 different Apple devices – Brunette Shoot Blondes might not ring a bell, but the Ukrainian indie/electro/pop band is making waves with their new video “Knock Knock.” The new video uses 14 different Apple devices to tell a story.


TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 2 – This is the second installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips powering our connected devices.

Aireon unveils ALERT system for tracking, finding lost planes – Aireon is aiming to put an end to lost aircraft, announcing that it will have a free plane-tracking system in place in 2017. With the system, the location details on a plane that goes missing can be requested by rescue teams, helping to avoid future tragedies like the loss of MH370.


Can the iPhone 6 Plus stop a 50-caliber bullet? – It will certainly let you watch videos in full HD, but how does the iPhone 6 Plus fare when it comes to stopping bullets? RatedRR takes a shot at the Plus to find out.


Something to think about:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

–      Hermann Hesse

Today’s Free Downloads:

Win Toolkit – Win Toolkit is a lightweight and easy to use application that was created in order to help you customize your Windows installation!

With this tool you can integrate Addons, Drivers, Gadgets, Language packs, Modified Files, Theme Packs, Tweaks, Silent Installers, Updates. You can also remove features such as Windows Media Player and customize Windows default services state.

Win Toolkit also comes with extra tools which helps you convert files, make ISOs, download the latest updates (thanks to SoLoR and McRip), and completely customize your images to tailor your Windows installation disk to your exact needs.


Universal Media Server – Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server.

It is based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath. It is actually an evolution of the “SubJunk Build” of PMS.

UMS was started by SubJunk, an official developer of PMS, in order to ensure greater stability and file-compatibility.

Because it is written in Java, Universal Media Server supports all major operating systems, with versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

The program streams or transcodes many different media formats with little or no configuration.

It is powered by MEncoder, FFmpeg, tsMuxeR, AviSynth, MediaInfo and more, which combine to offer support for a wide range of media formats.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

After small victory in stingray case, Chicago man seeks more records – After successfully getting the Chicago Police Department to hand over records showing that it purchased cell site simulator devices, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, one local activist has now filed a second lawsuit in an attempt to better understand precisely how the stingrays are actually used.

The new lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Freddy Martinez, a 27-year-old Chicagoan who works in the software industry.

Martinez’ earlier lawsuit resulted in three pages of invoices, dated 2009, showing that the department purchased an AmberJack upgrade (a model of stingray) and a StingRay II upgrade. While “StingRay” is a trademarked name and particular product of the Harris Corporation, it has entered the technical lexicon as a generic term, like Kleenex or Xerox.

As a result of the CPD’s disclosure of these documents, the agency has now filed for a motion to dismiss in the first lawsuit, and the two sides are set to meet in a Chicago court room on Wednesday. Martinez and his attorney will continue to press for more documents to be released.

The new suit specifically asks for, among other records:

All court orders for any instances in which Chicago Police deployed IMSI Catchers

All formal or informal policies, procedures, orders, directives, or other such records that pertain to when, why, where, how, and by whom IMSI Catchers may be deployed

All records discussing the constitutionality of deploying IMSI Catchers

“The public has a right to know the extent to which the police are secretly taking information from their cell phones and whether their Constitutional rights are being protected in the process,” Matt Topic, Martinez’ lawyer, said in a statement. “The Chicago Police Department has refused to produce a single document that would show the extent this is happening and with what Constitutional safeguards. This plainly violates the Freedom of Information Act and raises serious Constitutional concerns.”

A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous – It’s heartening to read the 44-page decision, which sarcastically insults the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department for launching absurdly over-the-top operations to check licenses of barbershops in the area. At one establishment, Strictly Skillz, about ten cops—some with their guns drawn and faces covered—stormed in looking for contraband. Police cuffed the shop owners and forcibly removed the customers, but found nothing illegal going on in the shop.

This bizarre use of heavy-handed tactics is not unique to Florida. Earlier this summer, several exotic dancers in San Diego filed a lawsuit after being allegedly mistreated by local police, whose excuse for detaining and photographing them was that they were checking identification. Last year, a 12-officer team raided an animal shelter in order to put down a baby deer. There are far too many examples to mention, but federal agencies in particular seem to have recently caught the raid first, question later bug.

With the Strictly Skillz court ruling, barbers can proceed with a lawsuit against the cops for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. But as the law blog Simple Justice noted, there are various complicating factors and technicalities involved (aren’t there always). The main one is that the court didn’t broadly decree that a SWAT-style raid in the service of checking licenses is unconstitutional, just that this particular one was excessive in its forcefulness.

So it might be a minor victory, but I’ll take it. This ruling combined with the Senate hearing on police militarization from earlier in the month should give some police-reform advocates hope. Could the US finally be tilting away from SWAT raids and prisons as the answer to every societal ill? If so, it’s a change that’s a long time coming—and it’ll be longer still until we see departments across the country actually change their behavior.

The New Offensive On Canadian Government Spying – As parliament resumes in Canada, privacy advocates OpenMedia are hoping to stir up renewed public debate in the country, about the role of its spy agency, CSEC, in government surveillance.

Vowing to “stop illegal spying,” the group just launched a new video campaign designed to stoke concern about the Communications Security Establishment Canada’s shadowy mandate. The group alleges that said mandate allows for spying that is “secretive, expensive, and out-of-control.”

“Canada’s national spy agency can collect and analyze your private communication data without a warrant,” the video warns.”This could include your phone calls, your email, your internet data, and even wherever you go with your phone.”

The video is another phase of the organization’s campaign to raise awareness and exert pressure on the government over warrantless bulk data collection.

With the return of the Conservative party’s cyber-snooping legislation, under the guise of Bill C-13, OpenMedia cobbled together the Protect Our Privacy coalition to push Canadians to voice their views.

The group includes the usual suspects of Amnesty International, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and a slew of unions. It also includes some unlikely partners like the right-leaning Canadian Taxpayer Federation, the National Firearms Association, and several media groups.

The wider campaign by OpenMedia and its partners signals a growing concern and public debate surrounding privacy issues—a similar public dialogue to the one that Americans underwent shortly after the Edward Snowden leaks.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 23, 2014

How to Delete Accounts From Any Website;  Microsoft makes it easier to get Office for free, if you’re a student;  Five versatile apps to handle related tasks;  How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8;  Why you will (and won’t) want a 64-bit Android phone;  How to manage bookmarks in Chrome;  Where do the most people go for TV online? YouTube;  Camera test: The iPhone 6 won’t beat a DSLR, but..;  Fake Android Update Hijacks Your Calls and Texts;  Can the iPhone 6 replace your gaming handheld?  FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Arrives on Android and iOS;  Flappy Bird 3 in 1 (free);  Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped — So What Else Is New?  Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds;  Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers;  Home Depot’s former security architect had history of techno-sabotage;  The 4 reasons I switched from Google to Bing.

How to Delete Accounts From Any Website – Sadly, not all websites and social networks and online retailers are created equal when it comes to breaking up. No matter what you call it—deleting, canceling, removing—when you want to be rid of an online account, many sites don’t make it easy. You don’t want to rush into a break-up, but if you’re ready, we’ve compiled the links, tips, and, in the most extreme cases, the phone numbers you need to sever ties. (And let’s be clear, there’s a difference between deleting an account and just deactivating it. We’ll spell out the differences for each in the next few pages, as needed.)

Microsoft makes it easier to get Office for free, if you’re a student – Microsoft has announced changes to its Student Advantage program that provides students with access to Office, making it even easier for them to get their hands on its productivity suite.

How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8 – Every time you boot Windows, a whole lot of programs load automatically. Some of them you need, while some of them are pointless. Here’s how to trim the fat.

One-stop shop: Five versatile apps to handle related tasks – Specialized tools are essential for some tasks. But there’s no denying the convenience of an app that can serve multiple purposes. Here are a few good options.

Why you will (and won’t) want a 64-bit Android phone – Is 64-bit silicon twice as good as that crummy 32-bit technology we’ve been using for years? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that the move to a newer ARM architecture includes some nice enhancements, but being 64-bit isn’t, by itself, all that important. Before you pull out your wallet to snag the first 64-bit Android phone (the HTC Desire 510), or begin salivating over any of the other 64-bit phones coming this fall, let’s discuss what the term 64-bit really means, and why you should, and shouldn’t, care about it.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Zoho’s Showtime app battles boring presentations – The mobile apps (which will officially launch in a few weeks) serve as a means for the presenter to control the presentation and receive feedback, while the desktop app shows the presentation to the audience and allows them to type comments and ask questions. If audience members leave the page, that lack of attention is (anonymously) collected by the ShowTime service and recorded as an incentive to make that slide more interesting in future presentations. Showtime encourages a presentation to become more of a conversation, executives explained. “It really alters the way in which you present,” said Raju Vegesna, the chief evangelist for Zoho.


The Zoho ShowTime analytics page. Note the actual engagement and “time spent” numbers.

Now You Can Quickly Share The Best Parts Of Your GoPro Videos With BrightSky Labs’ App ’10’ – A few months ago, we told you about BrightSky Labs, a startup that hoped to unlock videos recorded on GoPro cameras and other wearable devices and make them ultra-easy to edit and share. Today, the company is releasing the first version of its video-sharing app 10, which is designed to do just that.


How to manage bookmarks in Chrome – Over time, you may add a lot of different websites to your bookmarks list in Chrome. Despite making efforts to organize them into folders and sub-sections, sometimes they can still become a huge, messy list of sites you want to remember or look at later. The solution most people think of is to download a bookmark management utility, but that may not be the best idea.

BlackBerry’s big plan: a $600 phone – Let’s talk about the BlackBerry Passport. Today it’s been revealed by BlackBerry that it’ll cost a cool $599 USD off-contract. It’s basically the size and shape of a paper passport and has a physical keyboard, and it’s BlackBerry’s next big plan for sales and recovery. Let’s talk about why that’s wrong.


The 4 reasons I switched from Google to Bing – If you’re still Googling, you haven’t seen the latest improvements in Bing’s search engine. Recent convert Mark Hachman tells you why he switched, and you could do the same.

AT&T shanghais cord-cutters with $40 deal that has plenty of strings attached – AT&T’s new U-verse bundle lures you in with basic cable, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go, all for $40 per month. But if you read the fine print, that price will change dramatically in a year’s time.


The Pirate Bay’s raid-proof server farm is 21 virtual machines in the cloud – How do you keep the world’s largest and most widely-known torrent site up and running when copyright groups are constantly trying to figure out ways to shut you down? How do you keep authorities from raiding your servers and taking everything offline? If you’re managing The Pirate Bay, you ditch the hardware and move to the cloud. Instead of a room full of servers, the site now runs on 21 virtual machines that are scattered around the globe at various hosting providers. And none of those providers have any clue that they’re hosting the notorious torrent site.

Camera test: The iPhone 6 won’t beat a DSLR, but it’s still an excellent device – I think the world of my Canon Rebel and its 40mm pancake lens. I’ve gotten some incredible pictures from that camera. But the more I carry around my iPhone 6, the more I’m convinced that its days of hanging out in my bag are almost over. Because the iPhone 6 is a mighty fine camera, indeed. I took my 64GB iPhone out and about on Friday to stress-test some of its new camera features and see if I could get some similar results to Apple’s promo photography. Here are some initial reactions.

Where do the most people go for TV online? YouTube – Netflix calls itself the world’s leading Internet television network, but as is often the case, who’s leading really depends on whom you ask. Frank N. Magid Associates, a research and consulting firm, asked 2,400 people to check off a list of online sources they use to watch TV shows, and found the most common response — with 38 percent of respondents — was YouTube. That compares with 33 percent who listed Netflix, 17 percent for Hulu, and 14 percent for Amazon Prime, according to data from a June survey released exclusively to CNET by Magid.


Home Depot’s former security architect had history of techno-sabotage – When Home Depot suffered a breach of transaction data that exposed as many as 52 million credit card transactions earlier this year, the company reportedly suffered from lax computer and network security measures for years. Apparently, the company wasn’t helped much by its selection of a security architect either. Ricky Joe Mitchell was hired by Home Depot in 2012, and in March of 2013, he was promoted to the position of Senior Architect for IT Security at Home Depot, in charge of the entire company’s security architecture. In May of 2014, Mitchell was convicted of sabotaging the network of his former employer.

Fake Android Update Hijacks Your Calls and Texts – This week, Malwarebytes shows us a malicious Android app that takes advantage of that confusion by disguising itself as a software update for your Android. What can it do with those enhanced powers? Monitor incoming calls for one, in addition to text messages. It can also send text messages without your permission. Getting control of text messages and calls is scary from a privacy perspective, but it has far-reaching consequences for security. If an attacker can manipulate your texts, he can sign you up for premium SMS numbers that add charges to your wireless bill and line the attacker’s pocket (or the pockets of the attacker’s affiliates).

Despite Android’s data encryption, mobile security is in users’ hands – If you think the upcoming Android “L” release will do everything to secure your mobile device, think again. Jack Wallen reminds users that, ultimately, mobile security is in their hands.

What We Know About the Latest Nude Celebrity Photo Hack – Previously unseen photos purportedly showing Jennifer Lawrence, who became the face of the last major celebrity photo hack, were posted, too. The photos quickly spread from 4chan to Reddit, following the same pattern as the previous hack, which leaked private photos of Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande and almost 100 other female celebrities. Here’s what we do and don’t know about the latest nude celebrity photo hack.

Company News:

Google pulls funding from conservative group for ‘lying’ about climate change – Google is to stop funding a major conservative group over its stance on climate change. Speaking in a radio interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that Google would not be renewing its membership to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), because the group was “literally lying” by opposing efforts to reduce global warming. The right-leaning ALEC, which has received donations from fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil, has fought against the US government’s efforts to pursue renewable energy sources, battled against regulations for coal power plants, tried to get ecological activists classified as terrorists, and questioned climate change research.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Says Tech Companies Should Accept No Compromises On Climate Change Issues – Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres today at Climate Week NYC to discuss Apple’s concerns when it comes to climate change, and what the company is doing to address the situation. Cook summed up his company’s efforts by saying that Apple needs to be “one of the pebbles in the pond that creates the ripple,” refer to inspiring a broader effort to improve environmental practice among tech industry leaders.

Google’s next Nexus tablet will be made by HTC, numerous reports claim – We’ve heard again and again and again that HTC is building Google’s next Nexus tablet, and the rumor got even stronger legs on Monday as the Wall Street Journal reported that the Taiwanese handset maker is indeed teaming up with Google. It would mean no hat trick for Asus, which built the last two versions of the Nexus 7. Google partnered with Samsung on the Nexus 10, which is also overdue for a replacement.

Adobe Acquires Photo-Editing Platform Aviary – Aviary just announced that it has been acquired by Adobe. Aviary offers a software development kit to developers who want to add photo-editing capabilities to their apps. Aviary has also created apps of its own, which it says have been downloaded 100 million times, as well as options for advertisers to turn filters and stickers into ads. At the beginning of this year, Aviary announced that the platform had been used to edit 10 billion photos — partners include Yahoo/Flickr, MailChimp and Walgreens.

Facebook said to be near launch of new ad network – Facebook is expected to unveil a new online advertising service next week aimed at helping advertisers better target and measure the impact of their ads while helping it better compete with Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new platform, dubbed Atlas according to the Journal’s sources, is based on the Atlas Advertising Suite, which Facebook purchased from Microsoft in 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

Can the iPhone 6 replace your gaming handheld? – Living with the iPhone 6, Part 3: in which Scott Stein sizes up the iPhones against his favorite portable game consoles and finds some interesting conclusions.

FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Arrives on Android and iOS – Fans of soccer (or football, if that’s your thing) the world over should head immediately to their app repository of choice. After a short test run as a geo-restricted beta, FIFA 15 Ultimate Team has arrived on Android and iOS. It has all the stars and teams you know from real life, but now they’ll actually do what you tell them, unlike all those times you screamed at the TV.


Goat Simulator Is A Gloriously Weird Tribute To The Old ‘Tony Hawk’ Games – While it generally takes a lot of great content (or an emotional treadmill) to get people to pay for games on their phones nowadays, Goat Simulator has done well at $4.99 even though there’s not that much in the way of content — there’s only one town to mess around in and one set of achievements to complete. Despite all that, Goat Simulator has managed to hold the No. 5 slot of the top paid apps on the App Store for several days, and is also available on the Google Play and Steam (where it is $9.99, as it has enhanced content for PCs).

Goat Simulator for iOS

Rockstar adds first-person mode to GTA V on PS4, Xbox One, and PC – The majority of gamers who enjoy Grand Theft Auto games have probably already beat GTA V on PS3 or Xbox 360. Rockstar would love those millions of consumers to purchase the game again when it gets released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. But in order to do that the updated game has to offer something new, and that may come in the form of a first-person mode.


Hulu bringing Stephen King’s 11/22/63 to TV – Hulu is trying to compel you to subscribe to their service, and if you’ve yet to sign up, this may seal it for you. The company is announcing a new series based on the book 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Centering around the JFK assassination, the series will take a look at what may have been, should President Kennedy not been shot that day.


An interesting novel – well worth the read.   Pointing up

Off Topic (Sort of):

Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped — So What Else Is New? – According to the NYSE, Alibaba is the 25th tech company to list its shares this year. Except that you are not actually buying Alibaba’s shares directly, since China’s government won’t allow foreigners to control one of its most prized companies. Investors are buying shares in something called a variable interest entity that has a claim on the company’s earnings. The VIE is registered in the Cayman Islands—yes, the Cayman Islands!—that black hole of offshore money. And did I mention that Alibaba is in China. As global auto companies are learning, political risk is not unknown in that country, and even though Alibaba is a home team favorite, foreign holders are just that.

We spoke to the Alaskan woman who quit her news anchor job on live TV to run a weed dispensary – Last night, after hosting a segment on the effort to legalize weed in Alaska, local KTVA news anchor Charlo Greene quit her job in true “fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool” fashion. Unsurprisingly, the mix of weed, unexpected swearing on live local news, and the thrill of someone quitting their job scorched earth style, resulted in Charlo’s final news broadcast going viral. So, we caught up with her earlier today to talk about her decision to bail on the glamourous life of local news reporting, her cannabis club, and the legalization movement in Alaska.


Eric Schmidt: Europe needs to accept and embrace disruption – Talking about the digital future of the European Union, Google’s Eric Schmidt sees large hurdles but lots of potential. He says a brighter future and a better economy are the promise of a digital EU.

Celebrate 20 years of ‘Friends’ with this Windows 95 ‘cyber sitcom’ starring Rachel and Chandler – On September 22nd, 1994 at 8:30PM, Friends premiered on NBC.You could celebrate by binge-watching all 236 episodes — that’s about four days’ worth of shenanigans in all — starting with “The One Where Monica Gets a New Roommate” (Rachel, wedding dress, Central Perk). Alternatively, you can watch this Windows 95 instructional video starring Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and Matthew Perry (Chandler). The whole thing clocks in at just under an hour, but the only part you need to watch is the first section, “Cyber Sitcom.”


Here’s how St. Louis police can ‘win the media’ after another Ferguson – As Gawker reports, the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy recently posted a flyer outlining a new course called “Officer-Involved Shooting — You Can Win The Media.” The one-day program will be led by former Chicago TV anchor Rick Rosenthal and promises to be a fun time for all, with “numerous video clips” and “NO PowerPoint!” Using the Michael Brown tragedy as a case study, attendees will learn about “feeding the animals,” “managing media assault and battery,” and “managing media when things get ugly (think Ferguson).” They’ll also realize that “no comment is a comment,” the flyer promises, while making the acquaintance of a “900-pound gorilla.”


Weight loss firm demands $1 million from website hosting negative reviews – A Florida company selling an obesity product is suing a consumer website for hosting negative reviews of its dietary product. Roca Labs wants the US courts to award it in “excess” of $1 million in addition to blocking from continuing the practice. The lawyer for the New York-based online review site told Ars on Monday that the lawsuit [PDF] was “bunk,” that its demands amount to a prior restraint of speech, and that the site itself is protected from defamation charges under the Communications Decency Act because it hosts the online review forum for others to use.


Tiny robot learns to fly a real plane – The robot used by the team — Heejin Jeong, David Hyunchul Shim and Sungwook Cho — is actually an off-the-shelf humanoid Bioloid Premium by Robotis, modified to be able to work the controls of a cockpit simulation, scaled down to mini-robot size.


Something to think about:

“All people want is someone to listen.”

–     Hugh Elliott

Today’s Free Downloads:

Plane9 – Plane9 is a revolutionary 3d visualizer where you never have to settle for just one view ever again.

From the start you have over 150 predefined scenes to choose from. The scenes can be combined with one another to form a near endless supply of new views to experience. If your feeling creative you can start up the editor and create new scenes that you can then share with the world.

The visualizer, including any scenes you create yourself, can be used either as a winamp plugin, a Windows Media Player plugin or sound sensitive screensaver that reacts to what your currently listening to, be it from Spotify, iTunes or any another music player.



Screensaver that reacts to what you are currently listening to including iTunes, Spotify or any other soundsource. (Vista & Windows 7 only)

Winamp visualizer

Windows Media Player visualizer

Detects when monitor goes into standby and shutsdown/pauses

Multimonitor support

150+ scenes

Graphical scene editor

Create and share your own scenes

60+ nodes ready for you own scene creation ideas

Free from all forms of time limits


Flappy Bird 3 in 1 – Are you Bored? Have nothing to do? Then just Download this game and try to make as much score as you can in this remake of Flappy Bird!

Flappy Bird 3 in 1 is a Clone of the Original Flappy Bird which was made by Gears Studio

It has 3 Games:

Flappy Bird

Farty Bird

Coins and Bombs


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers – If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.

Despite all that, Australia’s political class is in the midst of an increasingly unhinged fear-mongering orgy over terrorism. The campaign has two prongs: ISIS (needless to say: it’s now an all-purpose, global source of fear-manufacturing), and the weekend arrest of 15 people on charges that they planned to behead an unknown, random individual based on exhortations from an Australian member of ISIS.

The Australian government wasted no time at all exploiting this event to demand “broad new security powers to combat what it says is a rising threat from militant Islamists.” Even by the warped standards of the West’s 9/11 era liberty abridgments, these powers are extreme, including making it “a crime for an Australian citizen to travel to any area overseas once the government has declared it off limits.” Already pending in that country is a proposal by the attorney general to make it a criminal offense ”punishable by five years in jail for ‘any person who disclosed information relating to ‘special intelligence operations’”; the bill is clearly intended to outright criminalize WikiLeaks-and-Snowden-type reporting, and the government thus expressly refuses to exempt journalists.

This morning, Australia’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a speech to the nation’s parliament that is a perfect distillation of the key post-9/11 pathologies of western democracies. It was a master class in how politicians shamelessly exploit terrorism fears to seize greater power.

Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds – In a much-publicized open letter last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to protect user privacy with improved encryption on iPhones and iPads and a hard line toward government agents. It was a huge and welcome step toward thwarting the surveillance state, but it also seriously oversold Apple’s commitment to privacy.

Yes, Apple launched a tough-talking new privacy site and detailed a big improvement to encryption in its mobile operating system iOS 8: Text messages, photos, contacts, and call history are now encrypted with the user’s passcode, whereas previously they were not. This follows encryption improvements by Apple’s competitors Google and Yahoo.

But despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand. iCloud is also used to sync photos, as a slew of celebrities learned in recent weeks when hackers reaped nude photos from the Apple service. (Celebrity iCloud accounts were compromised when hackers answered security questions correctly or tricked victims into giving up their credentials via “phishing” links, Cook has said.)

While Apple’s harder line on privacy is a welcome change, it’s important to put it in context. Yes, a leading maker of smartphones, tablets, and laptops is now giving users better tools to lock down some of their most sensitive data. But those users have to know what they’re doing to reap the benefits of the new software and hardware — and in particular it helps if they ignore Apple’s own entreaties to share their data more widely.

The Great Firewall of China now blocks DuckDuckGo – It has come to light that China has blocked access to the privacy-oriented search engine, DuckDuckGo, since earlier this month.


According to Tech In Asia, DuckDuckGo has been blocked in China making it the latest search engine to be blocked in China after Google. Chinese government uses strict internet filtering and the only other foreign search engines working in the country are Yahoo and Bing. They are forced to adhere to strict regulations in addition to using locally set up servers, as well.

DuckDuckGo has become popular in recent times for its uncensored search results and zero user data retention which is probably a good enough reason for China to block the search engine.

Shanghai authorities ban government officials’ use of iPhone – Authorities in Shanghai have banned the use of all foreign smartphones, including Apple’s popular iPhone, by government officials, according to a report from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Stories in several PRC media outlets noted the ban, which was announced during an economics forum held at Beijing University on Friday.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, pointed out the restriction in a tweet last week. “Shanghai authorities has [sic] ordered all cadres to use China-made smartphones only, a forum organized by [Beijing] University said Friday,” the publication said.

A fleshed out report on, a Chinese-language website that tracks the country’s component manufacturing sector, added that the announcement was made by Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of the government’s Ministry of Commerce. Citing national and network security issues with smartphones from foreign manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, Wei said that Shanghai’s government had ordered all members of its cadre to use only devices made by Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer, behind only Samsung and Apple.

In China, “cadre” is a term roughly equivalent to “civil service,” although a cadre is often, but not always, also a Communist Party member.

The story also repeated previous allegations that Apple’s products specifically, and U.S. products in general, posed security threats to China.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 22, 2014

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses;  Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it;  How to turn on Android encryption;  Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature;  10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography;  The best weather apps for Android;  Two free tools to lock down chat apps;  Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux;  31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life;  Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers;  eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites;  Anatomy of an Android Gamer;  The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide;  Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos;  Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad.

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses – Lots of people who speculated about the credit card data breach at the Home Depot turned out to be wrong. But those who suggested that Home Depot’s breach might end up bigger than Target’s turned out to be spot on.

Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it – Microsoft has announced that they are doubling all of the free storage on mobile platforms if you enable the auto-upload feature to backup your photos; but you have to act quick to get the offer.

Swiftkey keyboard app shoots to top of iTunes charts – Known for its powers of predictive typing, the app now ranks No. 1 among all free iPhone apps in Apple’s App Store. Swiftkey offers predictive typing, so as you type the first few characters of a word, it displays a list of suggested words. Simply tap the correct word to insert it without having to type it in full. The more you use the app, the more it learns your writing style and and the better it can predict what you want to type. Swiftkey also offers different keyboard layouts, skin colors and emoji characters.

Samsung launches free’My Knox’ app for securing its latest smartphones – My Knox can be installed on a user’s Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 smartphone without an IT administrator’s involvement to set up a My Knox User Portal to remotely find, wipe and lock a device, according to a Samsung blog. With My Knox, professionals can synchronize emails, calendar events and contacts between desktop computers and mobile devices, Samsung said. It creates a virtual Android partition within the mobile device that has its own home screen, launcher, apps and widget.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Android L will turn on encryption by default – The pre-release window for Android L continues to be full of surprises. The new Android OS, due out before the end of the year, is set to encrypt device data by default, a first for the Android universe—but it’ll probably be a while before default encryption comes to every Android user.

How to turn on Android encryption today (no waiting necessary) – Google’s new Android encryption policy is great, but you don’t necessarily need to wait for an OS update to protect your data from investigators, be they government snoops or someone you know.

Windows 9’s Preview May Not Touch Down Until October – Remember that upcoming Windows 9 event that Microsoft is hosting on September 30? It might not mark the actual release of Windows 9’s technical preview, as was long expected. According to Paul Thurrott, that bit of code might not become available until October.

The best weather apps for Android – With fall approaching, it’s a good time to ensure you have the best weather information at the ready. There are plenty of options for Android: Google Now, widgets, persistent notifications, and the old-school method of opening an app. We parsed through the Play Store to find the best options for figuring out if you need to pack an umbrella, grab a jacket, or bundle up.


iOS 8 problems not so magical: Slow, Laggy, Bloaty, Crashy, Buggy, Drainy and Doc – iOS 8 problems have reared their ugly heads, bang on cue. Early-adopting iMagicMirror owners are finding their devices suffering some seriously poisoned Apple.

TechSpot: 10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography – We’ve laid out ten tips for taking good photos on a smartphone. Read on and you’ll be well on your way to producing some awesome shots from a fairly limited camera platform.

Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature – Instapaper has gone freemium—great news for those who want to take advantage of the app’s “save interesting things you want to read later” features without coughing up a monthly subscription fee to do so. The switch is part of a series of updates to the service that were officially announced on Instapaper’s blog this past week. The process of saving an unlimited number of article and videos for later viewing (across any device on which the Instapaper app is installed, we note) will no longer cost a user anything—no $3 or $4 fee to download the app itself.

Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers – If you remember, about a week ago, Google gave Chrome OS the ability to run Android apps through the “App Runtime for Chrome.” The release came with a lot of limitations—it only worked with certain apps and only worked on Chrome OS. But a developer by the name of “Vladikoff” has slowly been stripping away these limits. First he figured out how to load any app on Chrome OS, instead of just the four that are officially supported. Now he’s made an even bigger breakthrough and gotten Android apps to work on any desktop OS that Chrome runs on. You can now run Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.


The official Android Twitter app running on Mac OS.

Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux Without The Need For Hacky Tricks – If you’re sitting in the itty-bitty overlapping sliver on the Venn Diagram of “People who use Ubuntu” and “People who can’t figure out how to use user agent spoofing and other trickery to make Netflix work on Ubuntu” — Good news! Netflix is likely (finally) coming to Ubuntu soon.

Google is no longer forcing new users into making Google+ accounts – Google has lifted its requirement that new Google users also create a Google+ account, Marketing Land reports. When you sign up for a Gmail, Google Docs, or other Google account, a new “No thanks” button lets you opt out of Google’s social network.


Image via Marketing Land

Two free tools to lock down chat apps – If you’ve handed out Android phones for work, or you have a need to add a layer of privacy to your Android chat applications, there are plenty of ways you can accomplish this. One way is to install app lockers specifically for chat apps and other social networking tools. Two such apps I have found are Chat App Lock and Messenger and Chat Lock. Each of these applications will help you lock down those apps and services you do not want just everyone to gain access to.

31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life – Apple’s latest iPhones don’t pack nearly as much power as their nearest competitors. By tweaking iOS 8, you can improve your iPhone’s battery life considerably.


The Home Depot reportedly ignored warnings from its own cybersecurity team – Former members of the company’s cybersecurity teams spoke to the Times, and said that The Home Depot was slow to respond to vulnerabilities, and shrugged off warnings that it would be easy prey for hackers. Former employees also said that the company used outdated security software, which led to some of them even warning friends to use cash instead of credit cards at Home Depot stores. To make matters worse, The Home Depot’s former security boss, Ricky Joe Mitchell, was recently sentenced to four years in prison for “deliberately disabling computers” at his previous company, the Times reports.

eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites – Scam listings on eBay have been spotted in recent times, redirecting users to a phishing website in an attempt to get their login credentials. A user would click on a link, only to be taken to a website that looked identical to eBay — unfortunately, more than one listing was discovered.

The Fappening has fappened again; more naked celeb leaks surface – Three weeks after the original round of leaks showing dozens of celebrities in compromising poses went online, it appears that another batch has leaked which include previous and other celebs.

Apple’s iOS 8 fixes enterprise Wi-Fi authentication hijacking flaw – A weakness in Apple’s Wi-Fi implementation could give hackers access to enterprise wireless networks, researchers said.

Company News:

Alibaba shares close first day of trading at $93.89 – In their first day of trading, shares of Alibaba stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, an increase of more than 35 percent over the $68 initial public offering price. The company raised $21.8 billion in its U.S. IPO, making it one of the largest IPOs ever. It’s close to the historic $22 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010, and beats the $18 billion raised by Visa in 2008.

Renewed talk of Yahoo as acquisition target after Alibaba IPO – With Alibaba’s IPO making big winners of the Chinese e-commerce giant and Japan-based stakeholder SoftBank, what are the odds that one of them buys Yahoo?

Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos – Microsoft’s app stores have often been accused of lacking quality apps and that they are lower quality than their Apple and Google counterparts but Microsoft hopes to change that image in new videos.


Games and Entertainment:

The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide – Sure, February 2015 is shaping up to be a rocking month for PC gamers, but after the deluge of delays, are there any games left to launch this year ? Yes. Oh yes—in fact, there’s a lot of them. Read on to find out about the most intriguing PC games coming out by the end of the year, in helpful chronological order of release. From new Borderlands to new Civilization to Alien: Isolation and beyond, there’s a veritable flood of gaming goodness inbound.


‘The Nightmare Cooperative’ Mixes a Roguelike RPG With a Puzzler – Video games have gotten rather easy in recent years. It’s almost impossible to actually die in most titles, but there’s a movement to bring back the punishing difficulty and heartbreak of yesteryear. The proliferation of Roguelike games including Solomon’s Boneyard, Cardinal Quest, and Pixel Dungeon are a manifestation of this trend. Now there’s a new delightfully aggravating dungeon adventure on mobile devices. It’s called The Nightmare Cooperative and you can get it on iOS and Android.


Bungie did something incredible with Destiny’s UI – Bungie created a gorgeous UI which is essentially an evolution of the nearly universally despised Windows 8 Metro user interface.


The first games that show off iOS 8’s graphics are available for download – With iOS 8, Apple introduced a new tool for game developers which gives them better ways to take advantage of the A7 and A8 processors. It’s called “Metal,” a play on the common way of describing coding that’s “close to the metal” of the processor instead of abstracted through layers of programming. Now that iOS 8 is available, Apple has put together a special section of the iTunes App Store to showcase the half-dozen or so games that take advantage of Metal.


Anatomy of an Android Gamer – You game. I game. We all game. And if we’re Android gamers, then we play games on our devices for an average of 37 minutes a day, according to data from mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry. That’s a global figure, however. If you’re a resident of the U.S. and play games on your Android device, you spend an average of about an hour engaged in your digital pursuit (51.8 minutes, specifically). If you live in China, you likely spend an average of 28.6 minutes tapping away—the last country in Flurry’s top 10 list.

You Should Play: Pako – With crashes, high-speed chases, and hairpin turns, Pako is not just your average endless runner. It is an endless getaway game, where escape is impossible—how long until your car chase ends in a crash depends upon your skill. Pako has five different maps to choose from with different vehicles and obstacles, but your goal is always the same: Drive to stay alive. If the twist on a classic style of gameplay isn’t enough to interest you, here are three other reasons why you should check it out.


The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch –  Interested in broadcasting your gameplay to the world? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about setting up a Twitch game stream.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Let’s Fix The Internet – I hate to be the one to tell you this, but: we, the people of the Internet, have collectively run up a colossal amount of technical debt. Much of our online infrastructure consists of band-aid and/or legacy Rube Goldberg solutions hacked together with bubble gum and baling wire; and the only way to pay back technical debt is to fix it. The good news is, we’re finally doing just that.


Royal Observatory announces the winners of its 2013 photography contest – Each year, the UK’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich runs an Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest. Yesterday, the Observatory announced the winners of its 2013 version, the winners of which will be on display, making it worth a visit if you’re anywhere near London. We’ve brought you some of the winners of microscopy contests in the past; this gives us the chance to feature things at the opposite end of the scale, from planets to galaxies.


The history of the Predator, the drone that changed the world (Q&A) – Longtime Pentagon correspondent Richard Whittle investigated the unmanned aircraft that gave the military the ability to attack targets from the other side of the world. He talked to CNET about the drone.


UK Engineers 3D Print Their Own Raspberry Pi Laptop – Is there anything a robotic system for the extrusion of plastic in to solid forms over time can’t do? We present to you today the Pi-Top, a Raspberry Pi-based laptop that is completely 3D-printed and lasts hours on a single charge. The kit, which will launch as a Kickstarter soon, offers a 13.3-inch screen and a little keyboard and trackpad combo for data entry. Viola! A little open source computer for you and yours. The project is the brainchild of a group of UK-based designers. They built the system using PLA filament, and it took over 160 hours to print.


Homeless, wearing GoPros, capture ‘life as it is rarely seen’ – A San Francisco project outfits homeless volunteers with personal camera rigs for shooting first-person footage of daily life. The goal is to build empathy,” Homeless GoPro says.


“People see me like I am a garbage, which hurts me,” says Homeless GoPro autobiographer Silas, a veteran who has suffered seizures since being injured in combat. Pictured with him is project volunteer Naoko Morikawa.

Something to think about:

“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”

–       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirSoft Utilities Panel – NirSoft Utilities Panel is an experimental Web page that contains icons with links to all major NirSoft Utilities as exe files. When you move the mouse over the desired icon, you’ll see the current version and the last update date of the utility.


The graphic reflects a partial listing of available applications. Be aware – since many of these applications replicate hacking behaviour, you can expect your AV to respond with a warning.

SplitCam webcam software – SplitCam webcam software offers cool webcam effects for having more positive emotions during video calls with your friends! Additionally SplitCam is the easiest way to split your webcam video stream. With SplitCam you can video chat with all your friends, SplitCam is also live video streaming software – stream your video to any IMs and video services and all this at the same time!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad – Proposed legislation unveiled Thursday seeks to undermine the Obama administration’s position that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even when that data is stored on overseas servers.

The bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) [PDF] comes in response to a federal judge’s July decision ordering Microsoft to turn over e-mails stored on its Irish servers as part of a Department of Justice drug investigation. The Department of Justice argued that global jurisdiction is necessary in an age when “electronic communications are used extensively by criminals of all types in the United States and abroad, from fraudsters to hackers to drug dealers, in furtherance of violations of US law.” New York US District Judge Loretta Preska agreed, ruling that “it is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information.” The decision is stayed pending appeal.

Microsoft, along with a slew of other companies, maintains that the Obama administration’s position in the case puts US tech companies into conflict with foreign data protection laws. And it fears that if the court decision stands, foreigners could lose more confidence in US companies’ cloud and tech offerings, especially in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

Under the new proposal by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV), the US could still reach into global servers with a US search warrant, but it would be limited to obtaining Americans’ data. If the US government wants a foreigner’s data stored on foreign servers, it would have to follow the legal process of the nation where the servers reside.

Sen. Coons said that the US government’s position in the Microsoft case “hurts our businesses’ competitiveness and costs American jobs.”


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 19, 2014

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot;  Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android;  Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access;  No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave;  Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools;  Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia;  Amazon, Apple – families share apps and media across devices;  Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements;  Get started making Android apps with these online courses;  Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B;  Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised;  Meet the Master Boot Record;  Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21;  All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place;  Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch;  BitTorrent Sync (free);  The CIA’s secret journal articles are gossipy, snarky, and no longer classified.

Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot – Apple has updated its privacy policy as part of the rollout of iOS 8, announcing that devices with the latest version of the operating system installed can no longer be accessed by the company itself. Previously, as we reported in May 2014, if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, it was able to access a substantial portion of the data already on an iPad or iPhone. But under the latest version of iOS, even that will be impossible.

Google to encrypt data by default on new version of Android – Encryption has been optional since 2011, but Android L, due out later this year, will include activation procedures for automatic encryption.

Major studios pressure Netflix to block VPN access – Gee, thanks Hollywood. In a bid to protect their rights at all costs—including the cost of consumers’ legitimate rights—major movie studios are reportedly pressuring Netflix to block VPN (Virtual Private Network) users from accessing its U.S. Site. The reason? The major studios are upset that up to 200,000 Aussies are accessing Netflix U.S. by using VPNs to hide their geographic locations, thus violating the studios’ content ownership rights.

Regular Facebook Users Are More Likely To Fall For Phishing Scams – Researchers at SUNY Buffalo have found that habitual Facebook users — those who are on the site more frequently than their peers — were more susceptible to phishing scams. How did they figure this out? By asking them about their habits and then surreptitiously creating a fake friend who then asked them for private information, including their student ID number and date of birth.

No, a new feature in iOS 8 does not let you charge an iPhone in the Microwave – Gullible iPhone users have fallen foul to a hoax that is trending on Twitter that claims you can “quickly charge” your iPhone in any “standard household Microwave” but it’s all fantasy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook to push real-time stories to the top of News Feed – Facebook on Thursday said it plans to take into account trending topics and when people like a story to determine what to show you and when to show it. How this will work: When someone posts a status update related to a topic currently trending on Facebook, the network will display the post at the top of your News Feed so you see it sooner. Same goes for types of posts that attract a slew of likes, comments, and shares when they’re first posted, but later drop off. That indicates that the update is timely and should be surfaced to the top of your feed.

Tracking social media mentions: 4 tools – People are talking about your brand– or at least you hope, right? If you’re trying to keep up with the chatter, there are more than a few ways to do that. Keep up with the chatter surrounding your brand with these 4 tools.

How to clean your Windows Temp folder – Windows temporary files can stack up and waste storage space. Here’s how to check for clutter and clean it out.

Alternatives to Google’s $100 Android One in Asia – The new Android One phones may cost just $100, but there are cheaper phones in the market that are equally competitive and offer similar value.


You may have not heard of the Samsung Galaxy V, but its low price of $98 makes it the perfect entry level device in developing markets.

Amazon, Apple updates let families share apps and media across devices – As long as everyone can agree on an operating system, Apple and Amazon are making it possible for families to share their apps and media across devices, making it just as easy to share a digital book as it is to share a physical one. It allows families with multiple Macs and iOS devices to access the same apps, movies, TV shows, music, and books, even if they’re using separate accounts. It also lets children ask permission to buy an app remotely, letting parents approve or decline the purchase from their own devices.


Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition: rubber bumpers, free replacements – Amazon has introduced a slew of new devices tonight, not the least of which is the Fire HD Kids Edition — a powerful tablet Amazon says it made “from the ground up” specifically for kids. Its child-centric aspects include both design, which is understandably robust with bumpers, and content, which includes Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.


Facebook Won’t Budge On Letting Drag Queens Keep Their Names – Facebook will not be changing its real-name policy for the drag queen community. San Francisco drag queens met with representatives from the company yesterday afternoon to talk through a recent mass deletion of their personal profile pages. Facebook started deleting accounts of hundreds of members of the drag community last week after deciding these profiles were in violation of the policy.

Drag queens force Facebook to reevaluate real names – Facebook recently began cracking down on well-known San Francisco drag queens who use their performer names on the network instead of their birth names, going so far as to delete profiles, which has caused widespread outrage in the city’s LBGTQ community. Facebook reps met with some of the affected drag queens and city Supervisor David Campos Wednesday night, but it doesn’t look like the network will be changing its policy any time soon. That’s unfortunate. It isn’t just drag queens who eschew their birth names on the network. There are plenty of reasons you might want to use a different moniker or a variation on your given name. What if you have a stalker or a crazy ex?

Get started making Android apps with these online courses – Have you thought of building your own Android app? It’s not as insurmountable a challenge as you may think. There are many online free resources to get you started with the world of code. Others will cost money, but the fees are generally less than what you would pay to enroll in a university course or program. Better yet, most of these platforms offer an Android app to continue your work when away from the desktop.


Infographic: U.S. iPhone Repair Bills Top $10.7B – It turns out a damaged iPhone can cost more than your pride: According to a new study, totaled Apple smartphones have cost Americans $10.7 billion since their introduction in 2007. About $4.8 billion of that damage happened in the last two years. Factor in Android, Windows, and BlackBerry handsets, and you’re looking at a whopping $23.5-plus billion in repairs and replacements over seven years.


5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux – If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system’s coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90’s, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell. But there are other great Linux features Microsoft should copy, too. And hey, I’m not just complaining here—Windows would legitimately be better if they stole these features.

Photos: Robots and drones – here’s what Intel’s answer to the Raspberry Pi can do – A walk through the electronics projects that people are cooking up using Intel’s $50 Edison board.



Home Depot: 56 million cards compromised – Home Depot’s data breach has many consumers worried. If you’ve used a credit card at Home Depot since April of this year, there is a chance you have been compromised. According to Home Depot, 56 million cards were affected, which is the largest breach of 2014.

Large malvertising campaign under way involving DoubleClick and Zedo – Earlier today, we warned people that both The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post were affected by a malvertising attack. It appears that this is a much larger and ongoing campaign that is affecting a number of other popular websites. The reason this is really big is because it involves (a subsidiary of Google for online ads) and Zedo (a popular advertising agency).


BTW, if you’re not familiar with Malwarebytes’ free security application – Malwarebytes Anti Exploit – you can download it here – Malwarebytes.


Malwarebytes Anti Exploit running on a personal system – protecting the 2 Browsers I’ve currently got running. still lacks some basic security controls – lacks several basic cybersecurity controls — including strong passwords and consistent security patching — nearly a year after the troubled launch of the insurance-shopping website, a government auditor said. The website, a centerpiece of the 2010 insurance reform package the Affordable Care Act, does not have a complete system security plan in place, said a report released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Meet the Master Boot Record – MBR is short for Master Boot Record. Typically, the MBR is the first sector on a startup drive (or other partitioned media). Sometimes it’s referred to as Master Partition Table, because, among others, it contains the location of every partition on a hard drive. So, in essence it is the first code that gets executed after the BIOS has done its job. This is where malware comes into play. Being the first code to get executed gives you an advantage in the arms race between malware and anti-malware.

Company News:

Oracle Stock Drops 2.5% On News That Larry Ellison Has Relinquished His CEO Title – Today after the bell, Oracle announced that its long-time premier Larry Ellison is no longer its CEO. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd will take over the job in partnership with Safra Catz. Catz will manage finance and manufacturing, while Hurd will handle sales. Ellison will take on the titles of Executive Chairman of the Board and CTO. Hurd left HP under negative circumstances, including allegations of sexual harassment.

Chinese e-tailer Alibaba prices IPO at $68, raising $21.8B – The online shopping company set its stock price at $68 a share Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal, making for the largest US initial public offering ever. The company raised $21.8 billion from the IPO, a portion of which will go to investors like former CEO Jack Ma, Softbank and Yahoo. The additional capital will be critical to Alibaba’s plans to bolster its quickly growing and dominant business in China, as well as make inroads into other markets. That includes the US, where the e-commerce juggernaut’s path will take it toe-to-toe with major US players such as Amazon and eBay.

With Alibaba windfall, all eyes on Yahoo’s Mayer – The IPO promises to be one of the biggest events in Yahoo’s recent history. But after the expected multibillion-dollar windfall, the company’s going to be under intense pressure to improve performance.

Toshiba throttling down consumer PC efforts – Toshiba has always made solid PC hardware, but finding one of their devices may be a bit tough moving forward. Toshiba is announcing they are scaling down their consumer PC efforts, and pulling out of some markets entirely. The company is also cutting 900 jobs, or just over 20% of its non-manufacturing PC workforce.

Verizon, enemy of Open Internet rules, says it loves the “open Internet” – No company has gone to greater lengths than Verizon in trying to stop the government from enforcing network neutrality rules. Verizon is the company that sued to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon won a federal appeals court ruling this year, overturning anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules and setting off a months-long scramble by the FCC to get enforceable rules into place. Verizon has also been spending money to press its case with lawmakers. “An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009,” NPR reported yesterday. As the FCC nears the end of its new rulemaking process, Verizon is trying to convince the public that it loves the “open Internet” after all.

Mysterious entity acquires TwitPic, saving it from death – TwitPic, the image-hosting company that two weeks ago said it would shut down after a trademark dispute with Twitter, has apparently been acquired, keeping its service alive. “We’re happy to announce we’ve been acquired and TwitPic will live on!” the company said Thursday in—and why not—a tweet. TwitPic said it will provide more details when it can disclose them. It didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ericsson quits modem business, cuts 1,000 jobs – The world’s biggest mobile network equipment maker will shutter its loss-making unit, in the process handing pink slips to about 1,000 employees.

Games and Entertainment:

It’s Not Enough To Make ‘Good’ Video Games Anymore – The sprawling but just OK Destiny proves that all the money in the world can’t make people like you. Mid-tier games find themselves unfairly marginalized for having a few nuts and bolts loose despite, generally, being a lot of fun. So, go on, embrace the mid-tier.



Get DLC-Packed ‘Need for Speed Rivals’ Complete Edition on Oct. 21 – Just in case you missed this big launch title for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—or happened to overlook it on all the other consoles it was released for—Electronic Arts is taking its Need for Speed Rivals game and repackaging it into a brand-new release. The new iteration, dubbed Need for Speed Rivals Complete Edition, will arrive on Oct. 21. And, yes, it’s going to hit just about everyone: both major PlayStation and Xbox consoles and PC gamers.


Shadowrun’s Dragonfall expansion tweaked, released as stand-alone Director’s Cut – Remember earlier this year when I said, “Dragonfall is the campaign [Shadowrun Returns] should’ve shipped with from the start.” Okay, maybe you don’t remember, but I swear I said it. Well, a lot of people must’ve felt the same way because Thursday, Harebrained Schemes released Shadowrun: Dragonfall as a standalone product, so those who just want to play the expansion can do so.


8 Things Bungie’s Destiny Does Very Well – Destiny is an imperfect game, we know that much now. But it’s still a pretty good one as console shooters go. Bungie’s quasi-multiplayer sci-fi romp catches more balls than it fumbles, and whatever else you want to say about its hackneyed story or over-easy enemies or worshipful replication of Halo gameplay fundamentals, I keep coming back to play a little more.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Distracted driving laws stretch to your smartwatch – Thinking of smartwatches as sidestepping smartphones is a novel concept, but lawmakers in the UK are asking that we take a step back from that. The Department for Transportation there is asking drivers to think about how a smartwatches an contribute to distracted driving, just like a smartphone can. In fact, they’ll go after you all the same if you cause an accident.

One More Thing… All The Best iPhone Parody Videos In One Place – Whether you’re on Team Apple or Team Android, one thing remains true. When Apple releases a new iPhone, the tech media world goes nuts. And it’s not just about hands-on videos and analytical looks and bug reports and sales stats — fortunately, there are some hilarious people out there to remind us just how silly iPhone fever is. That said, we’ve compiled a few of the best parody videos on the internet for your viewing pleasure.

The Navy flew its new drone across the U.S. Wednesday night – The U.S. Navy’s new surveillance drone completed its first cross-country flight across the United States Wednesday night. The MQ-4C Triton took off from Northrop Grumman’s airfield in Palmdale, California, Wednesday evening and flew along the southern U.S. border and the Gulf of Mexico and Florida before turning north to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. It landed just before 8 a.m. Eastern time, about 11 hours after takeoff, according to Naval Air Systems Command. Northrop Grumman released video of the flight.


Lens-less camera, costing pennies, brings vision to the Internet of Things – There’s a type of camera technology emerging with a view of the world similar to what a honey bee sees. The images appear blurry and hazy, but if you’re a bee, good enough for finding flowers and people to sting. It could also be perfect for the Internet of Things by making it cheap to add vision capability to just about anything. That’s the idea put forth by Rambus, a company that designs technologies and then licenses them, for its lens-less sensor. The sensor captures light and relies on computation to shape the data into an image that’s good enough to tell whether someone is in a room or a door has been left open. It can also be used to activate an optical lens if a higher-resolution image is needed.

3DPlusMe will 3D print you as a superhero starting tomorrow – Fancy yourself a superhero? Marvel and Hasbro have kicked off a new partnership with 3DPlusMe that will allow anyone to get their face 3D-printed on a superhero’s body…assuming they’re near one of the Walmarts or Sam’s Clubs that are participating.


Geek Answers: Is it OK to pee in the ocean? – We hear a lot about the collective environmental impact that people can have — sure for you it’s just a shiny shell you picked up off the beach, but what if everybody did the same? Many a detention-shy youngster has had it pounded into their heads: everything you do to nature is, by definition, bad. Walking on grass? Bad for the grass. Tilling some soil? Bad for the bunny rabbits. But oddly enough, one of the more heinous activities in which a person could engage in regular society, public urination, might just be kosher. Though it might seem odd, taking the lazy way out and avoiding a sandy walk back to an outhouse really isn’t an unethical decision at all.

To mock Yelp, restaurant asks customers for awful reviews – A Richmond, Calif., restaurant is so fed up with what it calls Yelp’s “blackmailing” tactics, that it wants to become the very worst on the site.

Hamster-wheel standing desk: Embrace the rodent race – Why should hamsters have all the fun? Follow an Instructables guide for making your own standing desk with a human-size hamster wheel for exercise.


Something to think about:

“The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.”

–     James Thurber

Today’s Free Downloads:

BitTorrent Sync – Share directly from device to device. No cloud. No limits.

Sync uses advanced peer-to-peer technology to share files between devices. No cloud is required. This means there are no accounts, no file size limits, and transfer speeds are never throttled. You are free to share anything and everything you have.

Sync is a powerful and flexible application that equips users to get the job done. It is simple enough to share photos with friends, and powerful enough to sync terabytes of video between co-workers.

Sync is built from the ground up to ensure that you are in always in complete control of your files. Data is transferred directly from device to device. Files are never duplicated on to third party servers. Every connection is encrypted and secured against prying eyes.


Carroll – Small utility allows you to set a different screen resolution for every user. After logon the screen resolution will be changed to the stored setting.

Carroll is started automatically for every user. At the first time, the application shows all available screen resolution. Select the desired screen resolution and click ‘Change screen resolution and restore with every logon’. Next time, Carroll changes the screen resolution automatically without displaying the user interface.


Frogger Remake – Go old school with this remake of the classic Frogger game.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

AFTER LYING AND APOLOGIZING, BRENNAN QUALIFIES BOTH – CIA Director John Brennan today petulantly denied that he lied in March when he publicly insisted that the CIA had not improperly accessed the computers of Senate staffers investigating the agency’s role in torturing detainees.

Since then, an  internal investigation found the CIA had done just that, and Brennan was forced to apologize to Senate intelligence committee members.

In March, Brennan told Andrea Mitchell  at a Council on Foreign Relations event: “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth… We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”

But on Thursday, facing questions at an industry trade conference, Brennan carefully parsed his earlier statement, insisting that he had only been  denying the parts of Mitchell’s question that involved accusations of hacking with the intent to thwart the investigation.

CLAPPER DENIES LYING, ANNOUNCES NEW ETHICS POLICY – An unapologetic James Clapper bristled at accusations of misconduct in front of a trade group today, announced that he intends to continue serving as national intelligence director through the rest of the Obama presidency, and released a new “National Intelligence Strategy” that includes a “Code of Ethics” that seems disconnected from the reality of intelligence collection as revealed by Edward Snowden.

Speaking in public, but in a friendly setting, Clapper mocked the notion of intelligence collection without risk, the potential for embarrassment or invasion of privacy. He snidely called it “Immaculate Collection.” (see NBC video.)

Clapper also confirmed a report that, in commemoration of Constitution Day, he led his staff this week in two separate “re-administrations” of the oath of office to the Constitution, which he characterized as a good bonding experience, rather than an urgently needed recommitment to observing the constitutional rights of Americans.

“While we’ve made mistakes, to be clear, the IC [intelligence community] never willfully violated the law,” he insisted.

And he complained bitterly of being “accused of lying to Congress.”

THE CIA’S SECRET JOURNAL ARTICLES ARE GOSSIPY, SNARKY, AND NO LONGER CLASSIFIED – The CIA declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, articles that mock excessive secrecy and bad writing, dish on problematic affairs, and brag about press manipulation.

FRENCH CRIME DATABASE BREACHES PRIVACY RIGHTS, EU COURT RULES – The human rights court objects to storing data for 20 years in a criminal database when charges were dropped.

SNOWDEN’S NSA LEAKS HAVE GALVANISED THE STORAGE WORLD – Anyone following the fortunes of the world’s biggest technology companies will have noticed a trend: every one of them has gone potty for privacy.

This is not out of some sudden moral urge but because their futures depend on proving that they are good at protecting people’s personal data.

The Edward Snowden leaks, in particular the revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM project, which saw the intelligence agency hoover up data from servers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and many others, have brought about this predilection for privacy.

It is not just the average consumer the tech titans have to pander to either. Businesses have clear concerns about who can access their information and whether they have a Snowden-type character in their ranks.

Apple omits ‘warrant canary’ from latest transparency reports; Patriot Act data demands likely made – Apple has removed text from its latest transparency reports, which suggests that the company has received a top secret data demand.

These so-called “warrant canaries” can be issued ahead of a Patriot Act demand, because technology companies are not allowed to disclose whether or not they have received such an order. Apple, however, preemptively asserted it “never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act,” in its debut transparency report in November 2013.

That text has now been removed from its latest two reports, suggesting Apple has, in the second-half of 2013 onwards, received such an order.

Apple does add in its latest report covering the first-half of 2014 that, “To date, Apple has not received any orders for bulk data,” suggesting a broad-ranging warrant was not served.

Patriot Act requests are highly controversial. Section 215 particularly raises eyebrows, as it allows the National Security Agency to hand over “all tangible things,” including customer data and business records.

By going to the secretive Washington D.C.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government’s go-to court for surveillance requests, a Section 215 order can be filed in secret, and force a company, like Apple, to hand over data.

The “bulk metadata” program, which forced phone giant Verizon to hand over on an ongoing basis its entire store of phone call data, was authorized under Section 215. The program was first disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 18, 2014

Browser comparison: How the five leaders stack up in speed, ease of use and more;  Security: Users show more paranoia than practical skills;  The complete guide to iOS 8;  The five most common tech support nightmares;  Seven privacy settings you should change immediately in iOS 8;  30-Second Tech Trick: Send Money from Gmail;  California passes “landmark bill” to protect students’ personal data;  Twitter is run by potheads, suggests famed investor Thiel;  Apple said to be unveiling new iPads on Oct. 21;  Samsung’s curved display brings flex to your desktop;  Presenting the 6 absolute best gaming mice of 2014;  Halo: Reach is now free on Xbox 360 (if you’ve got Xbox Live Gold);  Destiny sales exceed $325M in first five days;  Facebook meets with LGBT community over real-name policy;  Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google.

California passes “landmark bill” to protect students’ personal data – There’s a lot at stake: think student records that cover attendance, grades, discipline, health, academics, intimate details about family members, parent and student contact information, biometrics, and sometimes even a child’s geolocation.

Browser comparison: How the five leaders stack up in speed, ease of use and more – Do you like your browser fast, easy on system resources, or simple to use? We tested Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari, and found surprising differences on these measures.


You can now try BitTorrent’s secure chat app Bleep – With revelations of government surveillance continuing to roll in, BitTorrent decided late last year that it was high time someone made a chat client that would let people communicate in a secure way without actually having to know a whole lot about security. The result of that project is coming out today in the form of a public alpha release: it’s a chat client called BitTorrent Bleep, and BitTorrent says that it will allow people “to speak freely without worrying about who might be eavesdropping.” Bleep keeps messages encrypted for their entire ride, so theoretically only their sender and receiver should be able to see them.

Security: Users show more paranoia than practical skills – Users are still clinging to hopes for the best without preparing for the worst, even with two-factor authentication and identity management advancements.

The five most common tech support nightmares – Every user of tech products has a story. They contact tech support or customer service, waste a lot of time, and end up no better off than they started. Sometimes, they end up worse. To make you more aware of the most common tech support fails, here are five common experiences that drive customers crazy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The complete guide to iOS 8 – iOS 8 looks to be one of the biggest updates to Apple’s mobile platform, since the launch the App Store, with new features galore. Learn how to use the latest in iOS.

Seven privacy settings you should change immediately in iOS 8 – Before you sync your iCloud or reinstall your apps, you need to lock down your iPhone or iPad. Here are seven important tweaks (and more) you can set to bolster your privacy.

30-Second Tech Trick: Send Money from Gmail – For when saying, “Sorry I ate your plants. I was drunk,” isn’t enough.

Amazon Announces New Fire Tablets, E-Ink Kindles And A Special Fire For Kids – Amazon released six new devices today with an eye on shipping them before the holiday season. The collection, which ranges from a new e-ink tablet called the Voyage to an 8.9-inch tablet that is lighter than the iPad Air and features Fire OS 4.0, an OS based on KitKat, is designed for reading, work and play. There’s also a new Kindle for kids that includes a $25 case and free parental control software and apps.


Twitter is run by potheads, suggests famed investor Thiel –  Iconoclastic investor Peter Thiel says Twitter is horribly mismanaged because there’s “probably a lot of pot-smoking” there.

Samsung’s curved display brings flex to your desktop – You’d be forgiven for thinking that if you wanted a curved Samsung display you’d need to cough up thousands for one of its huge TVs, but a 27-inch display could bring some flexed screen tech to your desktop. The Samsung S27D590C isn’t going to impress guests to quite the same extent as a 60-inch curved Ultra HD OLED might, but the claim is more immersive gaming and entertainment on a more domestic scale.


Dremel gives high-tech tools a spin with $999 3D printer – Available for preorder tomorrow, the toolmaker’s 3D Idea Builder goes on sale at Home Depot and Amazon in November.


The 3D Idea Builder from Dremel.

Scary video highlights danger of damaged Lithium Ion batteries – A Japanese safety institute has released a video that serves as a graphic reminder of the danger posed by damaged Lithium Ion batteries. The batteries are extremely common in portable consumer electronics, providing power for smartphones, laptop computers, smartwatches and many other devices, and are typically safe. But if a battery is damaged, the results can quite literally be explosive.


Open document formats campaign backed by Europe’s digital commissioner – “When open alternatives are available, no citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to use a particular company’s technology to access government information.”

Facebook meets with LGBT community over real-name policy – Facebook’s recently been cracking down on stage names, locking drag queens and transgenders out of their accounts until they switch accounts to their legal names. After mounting protests, Facebook reps scheduled a meeting with San Francisco activists and city officials over its real-name policy, which many say discriminates against the LGBT community.


Credit card data theft hit at least three retailers, lasted 18 months – In July, it was revealed that Goodwill Industries had suffered from a credit card data breach that affected the charitable retailer’s stores in at least 21 states. The Goodwill breach seemed by many to be just the latest case of criminals taking advantage of the weak underbelly of retailers—their point-of-sale systems. But now, as it turns out, the Goodwill breach was just part of a much larger attack on an outside managed service provider that affected at least two other companies. And many more may have been affected without their knowledge. For over 18 months, attackers were able to harvest credit card data from at least three retailers at will, without the companies’ knowledge. There is no current estimate of how many credit cards were compromised in the breach. And it’s not certain that there will ever be a full accounting.

Apple adds app-specific passwords for iCloud – In their ongoing effort to better secure iCloud, Apple is taking additional steps to let us safeguard our stuff. In addition to two-factor authentication, which came back to iCloud not long ago, Apple is also letting us create app-specific passwords for various third-party apps that access iCloud. The feature will also become standard very soon.

8 Security Tips for a Safe iOS 8 Upgrade – Apple’s iOS 8 is here. If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re probably champing at the bit to download Apple’s latest and greatest OS. Or perhaps you’ve already pre-ordered an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and are ready to party with a totally new handset.  Either way, now is a great time to spruce up the security of your iOS device.

Adobe releases previously delayed security updates for Reader and Acrobat – The updates fix eight vulnerabilities, including some that could be exploited to infect computers with malware.

Company News:

Apple said to be unveiling new iPads on Oct. 21 alongside OS X Yosemite release – Apple is reportedly planning to unveil its next-generation iPad Air and iPad mini at an event on October 21, and is also said to be preparing for the full release of OS X Yosemite on the same day.

Gogo, Virgin Atlantic Partner for In-Flight Internet – Virgin Atlantic is about to get a lot more tech-savvy. The airline has partnered with Gogo to introduce high-speed Internet connectivity services on flights, the companies announced Wednesday. The deal makes Virgin Atlantic the first European airline to partner with Gogo.

Sony estimates $2.14bn loss for smartphone business – Sony is struggling with its smartphone business thanks to stiff competition from Apple and Samsung, and plans to focus on its higher-end devices, while reducing its mid-range line-up.

Report: iPhone 6 Demand Overwhelms Foxconn – Another iPhone launch, another round of reports about overseas suppliers overwhelmed by orders. According to The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn is operating 100 production lines “around the clock,” churching out 140,000 phablets and 400,000 smartphones every day, but it’s still not enough to satisfy pre-orders.

Yelp, TinyCo Fined for Improperly Collecting Kids’ Data – Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit accusing the company of violating childrens’ privacy rights. App developer TinyCo was also fined $300,000 for similar violations. The FTC’s complaint claims that Yelp and TinyCo collected information about kids under 13 without their parents’ consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). That law bans sites from collecting information about kids under 13 without parental consent.

Reports of another wave of layoffs rekindle bad press for Microsoft – Microsoft’s massive staff reduction, which shocked many when it was announced in July, is back in the spotlight with a pair of reports that the ax will come down on another group of employees Thursday. It would be the second wave of job cuts in the plan to ultimately eliminate 18,000 positions, or 14 percent of the company’s staff, by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2015, according to reports this week from ZDnet and GigaOM, both based on anonymous sources.

Cisco acquires Metacloud, boosting Intercloud, OpenStack efforts – The privately-held cloud player will be snapped up for an undisclosed sum as the networking giant aims to bolster its inter-connected cloud effort, run on open-source OpenStack.

Games and Entertainment:

Presenting the 6 absolute best gaming mice of 2014 – I laid hands on six new gaming mouse for this story and evaluated their performance with both productivity apps—such as writing this review in Word—and games: Lining up headshots in Sniper Elite V3, and clicking frantically on the denizens of hell in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Before I reveal my opinions of these six new rodents, here are the features you should consider when doing your own evaluations.


Halo: Reach is now free on Xbox 360 (if you’ve got Xbox Live Gold) – As part of its latest Games with Gold promotion, Microsoft is making Halo: Reach on the Xbox 360 free for everyone with an Xbox Live Gold membership, along with two free games for the Xbox One.


Review: Hyrule Warriors is junk food gaming at its absolute finest – Some games provide a mental challenge, some serve as a simulation of an activity you are otherwise unable to do, and recently many others strive to position you in an adrenaline loop that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sometimes though, the very best kind of game is the one that doesn’t challenge you at all. These games exist purely to entertain, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hyrule Warriors is a massive deviation from what you think when someone tells you they are playing a Zelda game, but what was created instead is still a ton of fun to play.

Hyrule Warriors

Goat Simulator Arrives on Android to Make Your Fondest Goat-Related Dreams Come True [Update: iOS Too] – The simulator game genre has never been more popular. You can fly a plane, be a trucker, and much more through the magic of video games. Perhaps Goat Simulator on the PC was the logical conclusion, or maybe it’s just a wacky sendup of the whole simulator gaming thing. Either way, you can now pretend to be a goat on Android.


Gearbox Software enters the age of Battleborn – The maker of the Borderlands series is back with a brand-new sci-fi shooter. Here’s a first look at Battleborn.


Destiny sales exceed $325M in first five days despite meh reviews – The sci-fi shooter isn’t close to selling as fast as titles from existing franchises like Grand Theft Auto, but for a nonsequel, it’s humming right along.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Hey, Scots. Microsoft’s Bing thinks you’ll vote NO to independence – Microsoft’s seldom-used digital yellow pages has waded into the independence referendum with the claim that Scots will vote no and the United Kingdom will be preserved. According to the world’s other search engine, some 48.1 per cent of Scots will tick the Yes box, while 51.9 per cent will choose No. Its claim was concocted using a system called Bing Predicts, which is being beta tested during the referendum. Bing’s new toy uses machine-learning to analyse and detect trends from the web and social networks.


Irate NSA staffer doesn’t like being filmed in public, for some reason – In two videos posted on YouTube—each shot from a slightly different perspective—you can watch Beale politely question Mr. Z. about NSA programs, and watch Mr. Z. attempt to parry those queries with blatant falsehoods like, ”NSA is not permitted to track or collect intelligence on U.S. persons.” After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Mr. Z announces, “You’re done,” and attempts to grab the phone that Potter had been using to film the encounter, literally at the very moment he says, “I’m not touching your phone.”


Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please – Rupert Murdoch’s minions have written to the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, urging him to mete out stern punishment to Google in the ongoing search market dominance probe. The minion in question is News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson and his urgings are detailed in a letter he sent to Almunia last week. The central thesis of Thomson’s complaint appears to be his belief that “Google must do more to ensure that rights are respected and that its powerful search platform is not abused to eliminate competition.”

How will new device to help cops detect texting drivers know it wasn’t the passenger? – Texting while driving is dangerous and a new device is being developed to help cops catch texting drivers; but how will the device tell the difference between texting drivers, voice-to-text, automatic text replies and a texting passenger?

Air Force funds pocket-sized drone for surveilling tight spaces – The US Air Force has awarded a contract to CyPhy Works, a Danvers, Massachusetts-based startup led by CEO (and iRobot co-founder) Helen Greiner. CyPhy will design and deliver a pocket-sized drone for use in search and rescue operations in collapsed buildings, tunnels, and other confined spaces and steep grades that may be difficult for crawling robots to negotiate. The drone, called the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, will also provide a way to search for improvised explosive devices and conduct surveillance of tunnels and other spaces without the use of radio frequency controls.


An illustration of the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer released by CyPhy Works.

TechSpot: History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer – The invention of the microprocessor, DRAM, and EPROM integrated circuits helped bring computing to the mainstream. This is the first in a five-part series exploring the history of the CPU and PCs.

How a Cat Parasite Affects Your Behavior, Mental Health, and Sex Drive – We used to believe that a healthy human could control the Toxoplasma parasite indefinitely. New evidence suggests the opposite. Through a delicate finessing of the neurotransmitters in our brains, it is us who are being controlled

Something to think about:

“The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why and how it is said.”

–    Vaclav Havel

Today’s Free Downloads:

GlassWire 1.0.25 Beta – 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.


GlassWire running on a personal Win 7 system.

System Explorer – Detailed informations about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. Portable version also available.

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


Graphic – System Explorer running on a personal Win 7 system.


Graphic –  System Explorer running in the system tray on a personal Win 7 system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New e-mail shows “stingray” maker may have lied to FCC back in 2010 – A newly published e-mail from 2010 shows that Harris Corporation, one of the best-known makers of cellular surveillance systems, told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its purpose “is only to provide state/local law enforcement officials with authority to utilize this equipment in emergency situations.”

That e-mail was among 27 pages of e-mails that were part of the company’s application to get FCC authorization to sell the device in the United States. Neither the FCC nor Harris Corporation immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment, and Harris traditionally stays mum on its operations.

“We do not comment on solutions we may or may not provide to classified Department of Defense or law enforcement agencies,” Jim Burke, a spokesman for Harris, told Ars last month.

If Harris has misrepresented how the devices are used as part of law enforcement operations, then it would mark another controversial moment in the company’s shrouded history. In recent months, more information has come out about how stingrays have been used in violent crime investigations, including instances where cops have lied to courts about the use of such technology.

Relatively little is known about how stingrays are precisely used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although documents have surfaced showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. Last year, Ars reported on leaked documents showing the existence of a body-worn stingray. In 2010, Kristin Paget famously demonstrated a homemade device built for just $1,500.


The 15 states in which the ACLU knows that police use cell phone tracking devices.

Republicans in Congress don’t know what internet freedom means…unless it means the freedom to kill the internet – In 2011, Joshua Kopstein wrote a killer piece for Motherboard titled “Dear Congress, it’s no longer ok to not know how the internet works.” Back then, the clumsy ignorance of our lawmakers allowed a charade called the Stop Online Piracy Act to make serious steps toward becoming law.

The brief history of SOPA is this: the music and movie industry lost the battle against online piracy in the 2000s, and then decided it would just be easier to get Congress to blow up the internet. The bill was so odious that it led to unprecedented efforts to kill it, including an internet “blackout” intended to inform internet users that Congress was about to embark on a disastrous adventure in legislative stupidity. It worked, and the bill was tabled indefinitely, but the fundamental problem Kopstein rightly underscored hasn’t been fixed. The government is still pretty dumb when it comes to the internet. If you don’t believe me, just look at how well turned out.

It’s 2014, and the future of the internet is still at stake, and there’s still a lot of ignorance about technology on both sides of the aisle. But right now there’s only one party in Congress that’s actively threatening to kill the founding principles that have made the internet the booming success it is today.

Just like it was during the SOPA crisis, people who love and understand the internet are mad again. This time it’s about the looming death of net neutrality: the set of principles that so far have kept companies like Comcast and Verizon from kidnapping the internet and demanding ransom from users and other businesses on top of the fees they already pay to get internet access. As the FCC now considers caving on net neutrality with a “paid prioritization” scheme, after years of trying and failing to establish net neutrality protections, the issue is back in Congress.

Egypt launches deep-packet inspection system with help from an American company – Deep-packet inspection is the one of the most invasive things a country can do to its internet. Employed by repressive regimes from Russia to Bahrain, it lets governments look into the content of web traffic as it moves over the network, allowing them to censor websites in real time and conduct detailed surveillance of citizen’s activities on the web. They also require sophisticated equipment, usually provided by a western company. As a result, DPI installations are usually kept secret for as long as possible.

But sometimes, they can’t. A Buzzfeed report seems to have caught the Egyptian government in the act, confirming that the country is currently installing a new DPI system with a company called See Egypt, a sister company to the American Blue Coat. Blue Coat got in trouble a few years ago for selling a similar system to Syria, which launched a subsequent State Department investigation, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed them down.

New Google transparency report details hike in government user data requests – Governments around the world are demanding increasingly larger amounts of user data from Google, according to the company’s latest Transparency Report.

In the first six months of 2014, the company received just under 32,000 data requests from governments, an increase of 15% when compared to the second half of 2013, and two and a half times more than when Google first started publishing the data in 2009.

The latest transparency report, released Monday, is a service Google and other big name companies provide to detail how many times governments ask the company to hand over user information to aid investigation of alleged criminal cases.

According to the report, the top ten countries requesting data from Google this time around were the US, Germany, France, India, the UK, Italy, Singapore, Australia, Spain and Brazil.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 17, 2014

U.S. government to Yahoo: Comply with PRISM, or we’ll make sure you go bankrupt;  Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users;  Insurance for your smartphone: Is it worth it? Is This Free Wi-Fi Safe? Search the Map of Dangerous Networks;  Facebook Has Built An App For Super-Private Sharing;  Three warning signs that email is malicious;  Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet – $119;  New Batch of Chromecast Apps for iOS and Android;  How to use Google Voice with the new Hangouts app;  Report Gives Facebook, Twitter, YouTube an ‘F’ in Handling Harassment;  My Maps: customize your Google Maps experience;  Swype keyboard launching on iOS 8 today for 99 cents;  New ‘Facebook for Rich People’ Costs Just $9,000 to Join;  SwiftKey’s Predictive Keyboard App Is A Free Download On iOS;  ‘Tiny banker’ malware targets US financial institutions.

Is This Free Wi-Fi Safe? Search the Map of Dangerous Networks – Search a location on and you can see how many naughty networks are in your area. You might be surprised, or just plain horrified.

Three warning signs that email is malicious – There was a time when nearly every scam email would land in your inbox. Thankfully that’s not the case anymore—especially if you’re a Gmail user. But no system is perfect. Here are three basic tip-offs you can look for to figure out whether you’re looking at an email with dishonest intentions. They’re hardly an exhaustive list, but more often than not one of these tips will save you from getting suckered.

Codenamed “Moments”, Facebook Has Built An App For Super-Private Sharing – Facebook has failed repeatedly to get us to use complicated lists and privacy settings to share intimate moments with just our closest friends and family. It’s clumsy and confusing doing that with the same composer for blasting News Feed updates to everyone. But now Facebook is polishing off a new app codenamed “Moments” designed to make this micro-sharing much simpler.

Insurance for your smartphone: Is it worth it? – Smartphone carriers offer insurance for your devices, but it may not be a good fit for all users. Find out whether you’re a match for a protection plan.

Hands on: Office Lens scanning app for Windows Phone now makes editable Word files – Most scanning apps generate a JPEG or PDF file, but Office Lens skips right to the good stuff: Word or PowerPoint files. Though some scrawls will still confound it, this is nevertheless a Windows Phone app worth bragging about—and downloading ASAP.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 9 preview download in 2 – 3 weeks – Prepare to download the Windows 9 preview build. Microsoft confirmed it’ll unveil the next version of Windows—codenamed Threshold—in two short weeks. The event in San Francisco is expected to herald availability of the not-quite-beta build, assuming Satya’s gang follow the usual playbook.

New Batch of Chromecast Apps for iOS and Android Includes Twitch, WATCH Disney, and More – Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle didn’t see a hardware revision this year, but that’s fine. The $35 device does everything it needs to do–it’s essentially a receptacle for content beamed in from other apps. Today there are a few more apps streaming to the Chromecast, including Twitch on Android and iOS.

Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet goes on sale for $119 – Toshiba’s new 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, the Encore Mini, is now on sale for just $119, which includes a 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB storage and up to 7 hours of battery life.


How to use Google Voice with the new Hangouts app – The newest update to Google’s messaging app includes Voice calling and texting, a further step towards fully combining the two services. Pulling this together on your phone takes a little bit of work, however. The new app requires some nuanced settings and requires one other download from the Play Store. If you are a Google Voice power user, or are just getting familiar with the service for the first time, follow our tutorial for understanding and getting the most out of what Google has put together.

iOS 8: how to download, when to expect – What to expect when you’re expecting iOS 8 for your device in the next 24 hours is the alternate title for this article. What you’re going to need to know is very little. Most of your iOS 8 upgrade will be automated. You just need to sit back, relax, and think about what you’ve done.

Six reasons why you should not immediately upgrade to iOS 8 – If you’re sticking with an older iPhone or iPad, or working in a business setting, upgrading to iOS 8 may be premature. Here are six good reasons not to upgrade just yet.

GoDaddy makes very funny ad (no, really) – To celebrate small businesses, GoDaddy presents a woman who’s proved everyone wrong and wants to tell them where to shove their views.


Report Gives Facebook, Twitter, YouTube an ‘F’ in Handling Harassment – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have come under fire for not taking online violence against women seriously according to a new report. The Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Program mapped each social media platform’s policy for reporting and resolving instances of harassment or violence against women, including online sexual harassment and direct violent threats. The APC also tracked the networks’ public responses to international abuses cases. The organization rated all three social networks with an “F” grade in their “public commitment to human rights standards.”

Microsoft has a new keyboard for your phablet, works with iOS and Android – Do you have a large smartphone or a small tablet? If you do, Microsoft has released a new keyboard that could be your new best friend if you like to get work done on your device.


Microsoft OneNote, now on your smart watch – Microsoft has announced today that it’s OneNote application is now available for your smart watch and integrates with Google Now too for even easier use on these ultra-portable devices. You can use OneNote on your smart watch by saying ” Ok Google, take a note” and the app will allow you to dictate a note. While obviously not the most comprehensive solution, it is on a watch after-all, it does allow you to take quick notes on the go.


My Maps: customize your Google Maps experience – A little-known system called My Maps has just been updated by Google for Google Maps. What you’re able to do – and what I’ll be showing you here – is take what Google has made with Google Maps and add your own special markers, trails, and directions. You can take what you’ve made, then, and share with friends, coworkers, and associates.

Swype keyboard launching on iOS 8 today for 99 cents – Apple will release iOS 8 for download later today, and you won’t be waiting long for the first third-party keyboards to hit the App Store. In fact, there won’t be any waiting at all. Swype will be available for 99 cents starting Wednesday, kicking off a competition between developers and Apple’s own, new QuickType keyboard to decide who’s come up with the best method for inputting text on your iPhone or iPad. Of course, with Swype and competitor SwiftKey — also launching alongside iOS 8 today for an even lower free — you no longer have to tap individual letters.


SwiftKey’s Predictive Keyboard App Is A Free Download On iOS – Rejoice, long-time iOS users, for you can finally throw off the shackles of the native Apple keyboard — cursing its erratic autocorrect habits for (hopefully) the last time — as you download a third party keyboard adventure of your choice, including Android veteran SwiftKey, which is releasing its first system-wide keyboard software app on iOS as a free download.


New ‘Facebook for Rich People’ Costs Just $9,000 to Join – Netropolitan is a new social network that bills itself as “the online country club for people with more money than time.” It launched today and organizers insist that it’s not a joke. The $9,000 fee includes a $6,000 initiation fee, plus a $3,000 annual fee. You must be 21 to join. You’ll supposedly be able to chat with like-minded individuals, though Netropolitan declined to provide details about its user base.

Docurama streams free, on-demand documentaries to iOS – Cinedigm’s Docurama is a free app that streams hundreds of documentaries. Having started out as Roku and Xbox channels, it’s now available for iPhone and iPad. And if you own an Apple TV as well, you can beam the movies to your big screen. The app provides easy on-demand access to over 600 films, a number expected to increase to over 1,000 by the end of 2014. According to Cinedigm, more than two-thirds of the selections currently available can’t be found anywhere else, including Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix.


Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users – A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else.

Attorney General questions the security of health data on the Apple Watch – Attorney General George C. Jepsen has raised his own concerns around the security of health data used by the Apple Watch, suggesting a meeting in which he and Apple can discuss those concerns.

‘Tiny banker’ malware targets US financial institutions – A banking Trojan, known for its small size but powerful capabilities, has expanded the number of financial institutions from which it can collect data, according to security vendor Avast. A version analyzed by Avast showed Tiny Banker has been customized to target many new financial institutions, many of which are based in the U.S., such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase, wrote Jaromir Horejsi, an Avast malware analyst.


A screenshot bearing Wells Fargo’s logo showed how Tiny Banker asks for more information when a person logs into their account. It shows a bogus warning about a system update, asking users to provider more information to verify their identity.

Fear not: Kindle flaw that opened your Amazon account to attackers appears fixed – A concerning XSS flaw discovered by a German security researcher appears to be fixed. Here’s what happened.

Apple toughens iCloud backup security – Two weeks after breach of celebrity iCloud accounts, Apple makes good on CEO Tim Cook’s promises to strengthen security.

Company News:

Microsoft Shakes Up Its Board, Boosts Its Dividend 11% – Microsoft has announced two coming board departures, two board additions, and a boost to its dividend. Leaving the board are Dave Marquardt and Dina Dublon. Marquardt is best known for his work in venture capital, and Dublon for her work at JPMorgan Chase. Taking their places are the appointed Teri List-Stoll from Kraft and Charles Scharf of Visa.

IBM’s New Watson Analytics Wants To Bring Big Data To The Masses – IBM today announced a new product called Watson Analytics, one they claim will bring sophisticated big data analysis to the average business user. The product goes into Beta this month and they are shooting for general release by the end of the year. As a cloud service, it will run on a variety of platforms including tablets, smartphones and PC/laptops, but there are no dedicated apps yet. They are offering a free version that’s free forever in the IBM Cloud Marketplace.


Court upends $368M ruling against Apple for VirnetX patent infringement – A top appeals court has thrown out a jury ruling that ordered Apple to pay $368 million to VirnetX, a patent-holding company that many consider a “patent troll” because it exists exclusively to enforce patents. On Tuesday, the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the decision back to the lower federal court in East Texas.

Micro Focus buying Novell, Suse Linux owner for $1.2 billion – Micro Focus to pick up Attachmate for a little over half of what Attachmate paid for Novell three years ago.

Intel teams with Indian firm to launch ‘Eddy’ tablet for children – Intel has teamed with Indian education startup Metis Learning on an Android tablet that aims to keep children away from violent TV content and games on their parents’ smartphones. Targeted at children aged 2-10 years, Eddy is priced at Indian rupees 9999 ($163), and comes with over 160 apps selected by educators and experts to accelerate a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development, Intel said.

Games and Entertainment:

‘Destiny’ is a beautiful mess – And I can’t stop playing – I’ve spent close to two dozen hours playing Destiny. I completed a galaxy-spanning quest that took me to Venus and Mars, teamed up with complete strangers to take down massive space monsters in thrilling boss encounters, and jumped into a free-for-all multiplayer combat arena where I died many, many times. I spent an embarrassingly long time agonizing over which weapons to equip and what armor provides the best compromise between function and style. Hell, I even downloaded a mobile app so I could check on my character when I wasn’t near a console. It’s a game I love, and a game I hate, and it’s one that I can’t seem to stop playing.


Nearly a year in, is anyone winning the current generation console war? – Those consoles, as they existed on their respective launch days, don’t really exist anymore. In the intervening months, the system software changed through downloadable updates, and the game library grew with dozens of new releases. With that in mind, it’s time to revisit the state of the console wars as it stands today and potentially amend our launch day thoughts with the benefit of a few hundred days of extra experience.


The wired Xbox One controller for Windows is finally here – Microsoft has announced a wired Xbox One controller, coming this December, compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8 for gaming on the PC without using a mouse or keyboard.


Twitch Chromecast release live today – Televisions around the world will now be able to access Twitch in a new way. While Twitch has been available on gaming systems, Android and iOS devices connected to TVs with HDMI or Miracast, and a variety of other oddities, today things get extra Google-y. Today Twitch hits Chromecast.


Off Topic (Sort of):

You can now attach your iPad directly to your face to experience virtual reality – AirVR is a Kickstarter project from Toronto design firm Metatecture that seeks $20,000 in funding from backers to create an inexpensive headset for converting your iPad Mini (Retina) or soon-to-be-delivered iPhone 6 Plus into a portable virtual reality viewer.


Time Spent In Apps Up 21% Over Last Year – While there may be an upper limit as to how many apps people interact with over the course of a month, new data from mobile marketing platform Localytics out this morning shows that the time spent actually using apps is increasing. The new study was based on data from Localytics’ customer base, which includes 28,000 applications installed across 1.5 billion devices. For these findings, which cover August 2013 to August 2014, the company says it multiplied the average sessions per user in app by the average session length across all apps, and then broke it down by category.


Man Attempting To Visit Every Country In The World Captures Terrifying Armed Robbery On Video – A man on a mission to visit every country in the world was recently on a bike tour of Argentina when he captured the terrifying moment an armed thief attempted to rob him in broad daylight.


A Silk Database of US death penalty executions since 1976 – This site contains close to 60 datapoints for more than 1300 executions, including state, county and annual totals and averages. On this homepage we present some of the relevant findings but this is just a fraction of what’s to be found! Explore the complete database, customize and share your visualizations: start with the Explore-button of any graph or use the search bar.

The little-known Soviet mission to rescue a dead space station – The following story happened in 1985 but subsequently vanished into obscurity. Over the years, many details have been twisted, others created. Even the original storytellers got some things just plain wrong. After extensive research, writer Nickolai Belakovski is able to present, for the first time to an English-speaking audience, the complete story of Soyuz T-13’s mission to save Salyut 7, a fascinating piece of in-space repair history.


The view of Salyut 7 from Soyuz T-13 after undocking and beginning the journey home.

California Starts Issuing Self-Driving Car Permits – Self-driving cars can now officially hit the road in California, though they will still require some help from their human passengers for awhile. The California Department of Motor Vehicles today started issuing permits that allow for testing of autonomous vehicles on public California roads. Those who pay a $150 application fee get permits for 10 vehicles and 20 drivers. Adding another 10 drivers costs $50 more.

Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:

BB FlashBack Express – BB FlashBack Express is a free screen recorder with the best-of-breed recording features of BB FlashBack.

Advanced Technology – Our ‘capture driver’ technology gives us a head start on other free screen recorders. It creates high frame rate, high quality movies without affecting PC performance, even on lower powered PCs.

WebCam Recording – Give your movies the personal touch. Make an appearance with a picture-in-picture webcam recording. One click, and BB FlashBack Express records from the webcam while it records the screen.

Sound – Record a commentary at the same time as the screen. It’s easy to record the microphone, PC speakers or other sources.

Easy To Use and Always Ready – BB FlashBack Express lives in your taskbar, system tray or floating above the desktop, so its always available. Click the record button and let the wizard guide you to great recordings, first time.

Publish on the Web – Its never been easier for everyone to see your screen recordings. Upload to YouTube,, Viddler or Revver. Get the URL and share it around.


WinToBootic – WinToBootic is a free application that can help you to create bootable Windows hard disk or USB flash drive. You can use a CD/DVD, Folder or ISO image to create your bootable disk. This is a portable application that you can start using as soon as you extract it from the ZIP archive.

Using WinToBootic is as easy as selecting your USB drive and then formatting it to make it bootable. Of course, you need to add the CD/DVD, Folder, or ISO with bootable Windows files using either file browser or “drag and drop” feature.

You may also use WinToBootic to create a “Windows To Go” disk if you are using Windows 8. You can create the disk with a Non-Enterprise Windows Install ISO on a Non-Certified USB disk.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.S. government to Yahoo: Comply with PRISM, or we’ll make sure you go bankrupt – After a lengthy battle, documents on Friday showed the Bush administration threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s PRISM program.

That fine alone would have been troubling for the company. But according to a new first-hand testimony by Yahoo’s lawyers, that was just the beginning.

Attorneys Marc Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer, who represented Yahoo during the case, said in a blog post on Monday that the fines could have been significantly worse. The Bush administration is said to have pushed for contempt, forcing Yahoo to comply, and threatening prosecution if it didn’t comply with government data demands.

If Yahoo didn’t comply, those fines could have doubled each week until Yahoo complied.

“Simple math indicates that Yahoo was facing fines of over $25 million dollars for the first month of noncompliance, and fines of over $400 million in the second month if the court went along with the government’s proposal,” the lawyers wrote.

Yahoo’s average revenue for 2008 amounted to $7.2 billion. That year, the government’s surveillance court, the FISA Court, was pushing for Yahoo to join PRISM.

Had Yahoo held out for just a few weeks, fines could have easily surpassed the company’s net worth, let alone its annual revenue or profit. By the fifth month, Yahoo was facing fines that amounted to the entire U.S. debt, accounting for about $9.5 trillion. And it wouldn’t stop.

Yahoo would have lost everything — any profits gained, assets, cash reserves, and equivalents.

US law would safeguard free-speech rights to criticize business online – A member of the House of Representatives is offering legislation that would make it illegal for businesses to take action against consumers who write “honest” negative reviews online about products and services.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told the National Journal that the forthcoming measure would make it illegal for companies to have non-disparagement clauses in their consumer contracts.

“It’s un-American that any consumer would be penalized for writing an honest review,” Swalwell said. “I’m introducing this legislation to put a stop to this egregious behavior so people can share honest reviews without fear of litigation.”

The Problem With Transparency Reports? They’re Not Very Transparent – In the continued push for transparency post-Snowden, many communications companies and service providers are publishing reports with more details on what sort of data, and how much, they’re being asked to hand over to law enforcement.

But even with this shift, chunks of the reports rather obscure, rather than clear up, exactly what data is requested.

According to their latest transparency filing, cloud storage service Dropbox received 120 search warrants and 109 subpoenas for user information. Responding to the former, they handed over 103 pieces of “content and non-content”—files within the customer’s account, and other pieces of their data such as IP address, respectively. When it came to subpoenas, Dropbox provided law enforcement with 80 pieces of “non-content.”

“While that number is small compared to our 300 million users,” Bart Volkmer, Dropbox’s legal counsel, told the Guardian, “we treat all the requests we receive seriously and scrutinize them to make sure they satisfy legal requirements before complying. We also push back in cases where agencies are seeking too much information or haven’t followed the proper procedures.”

The report reads, “Protecting our users’ privacy is a top priority at Dropbox, so we continue to apply our Government Data Request Principles to every request we receive.” This means that they will fight blanket requests, or ones they deem too broad.

Dropbox may have also received over 200 requests for customers’ data from the US government for reasons of national security. However, this is where the transparency becomes less clear.

California lawmakers want to limit police drones, but activists want them banned – The police hate a bill just passed by California lawmakers, saying it unjustly limits their ability to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fight crime. The Los Angeles District Attorney hates it too, complaining that requiring police to obtain a warrant before deploying a drone to conduct surveillance goes “beyond what is required by Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” which the seasoned political observer knows police and politicians are supposed to gut, not exceed.

But there’s another, somewhat unexpected source of opposition to AB 1327, passed last month by the California State Senate: anti-drone activists.

“We are gathered here today to we reject the use of drones by law enforcement under any circumstances,” said Hamid Khan, an organizer with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, at a September 15 press conference in front of City Hall in downtown LA. Activists here are particularly anxious about drones since the Los Angeles Police Department obtained two small surveillance UAVs from police in Seattle, who had to give them away in the face of overwhelming public opposition to their use. The drones have not yet been deployed, with Mayor Eric Garcetti promising to seek public input before ever letting them fly.

While the American Civil Liberties Union of California has endorsed the legislation, which would be the state’s first attempt to restrict the use of UAVs—if Democratic Governor Jerry Brown actually signs it into law—Khan argued that “when you look at the actual bill, it has enough waivers and exceptions and loopholes you can actually drive a drone through it.”

NSA reform bill stalled with Congress headed toward fall recess – The U.S. Congress is unlikely to pass legislation to end the National Security Agency’s widespread collection of U.S. telephone records before leaving Washington, D.C., on a two-month break.

Congress is scheduled to leave town for its fall recess by the end of this week, with the USA Freedom Act still awaiting action in the Senate. Members of Congress will head back to their home districts to campaign for November’s elections, with all members of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate on the ballot.

The USA Freedom Act, with significant support in the House and the Senate, still has some lawmakers questioning whether reining in the NSA’s phone records collection program would hurt the U.S. government’s war on terrorism.

Absent congressional action, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced late Friday that they have asked for, and received, court authorization to continue the telephone records collection program. The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reauthorized the program to continue until Dec. 5, with some limits proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

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