Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 4, 2014

Wake up: The celebrity nudes hack is everyone’s problem;  Learn How to Save Your Selfies from Hackers in 1 Easy Step;  Easy steps for better Google Drive security;  30-Second Tech Trick: Make Animated GIFs from YouTube Videos;  Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere;  10 best mobile apps for students;  Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet costs $119.99, includes a year of Office 365;  Windows Cortana can now predict NFL football games;  Firefox adds protection against rogue SSL certificates;  Microsoft Will Mass-Produce Its Big-Ass Touchscreens;  CodeSpells: Write code, invent magic spells;  Apple, Google resume talks with tech workers in wage-fixing suit;  30 Incredible Vintage Tech Commercials;  Insurers will now be able to track driver behavior via smartphones;  Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal.

Wake up: The celebrity nudes hack is everyone’s problem – The celebrity nudes hacking scandal is a good reminder that a “just say no” approach isn’t going to stop anyone from sexting anytime soon. This issue isn’t a story about “right” or “wrong” ways of thinking about privacy — it’s a wake-up call about security and sexuality. However, this could have been a story about any app, or any of a zillion privacy breaches in the past couple of years. The amount of private data theft going on right now is insane.

Learn How to Save Your Selfies from Hackers in 1 Easy Step – You may not be Jennifer Lawrence, but nobody wants their selfies — nude or otherwise — leaked on the Internet. It’s not foolproof, but there is one easy step you can take to help make sure your most private of photos never end up on the web.

Easy steps for better Google Drive security – In light of the recent iOS cloud breach, it’s imperative to secure your Google Drive account. Jack Wallen offers up a few tips to help tighten down Drive.

Apple security breach causes investor panic, stock slide ahead of iPhone 6 launch – The tech giant’s stock price has plummeted over the past 24 hours, sending Apple shares to a low not experienced since January.

Can disappearing message apps keep your private pics from prying eyes? – I can’t in good conscience recommend taking or sharing photos you don’t want anyone other than your partner to see, because this is the 21st century and if someone wants your stuff, they’re going to get it. But if you really want to share private photos and trust your significant other not to splatter your nudes all over 4chan and Reddit—another big if—then ephemeral messaging apps have their advantages.

30-Second Tech Trick: Make Animated GIFs from YouTube Videos – I made one of me crying on a five-second loop for…reasons.

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10 best mobile apps for students – The lazy days of summer are over and it’s time to go back to school. That means it’s also time to top off your tablet or smartphone with the tools you need to succeed. We combed through the glut of educational apps in search of some that will help you manage your course load, prepare for exams, and even get you to class on time. These 10 made our Dean’s List.

Primed for pigskin: How to watch NFL football anywhere – The 2014 NFL season kicks off Thursday night. We run down all of your options — from broadcast TV to mobile streaming — for catching all the football action this fall.

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Watch up to eight games at once on Sunday Ticket’s Mix channel, offered via DirecTV.

How to automate your Facebook and Twitter posts with Buffer – The way Buffer works is simple: Instead of posting directly to your social media service, you create a post in Buffer that’s added to a queue and published according to a schedule you specify. That means you can prepare those funny cat videos all at once but post them to your profiles over time so you don’t overwhelm your friends and followers with cuddly cuteness. And you can have a real life, as well. Buffer is super easy to use, and a basic account is free, so let’s get started.

Acer’s new 8-inch tablets come with Windows or Android, both priced at $150 – Acer’s new 8-inch Iconia tablet costs just $150, and runs either Android 4.4 or Windows 8.1 – but the Windows version also includes an enticing freebie: a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal.

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Toshiba’s 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet costs $119.99, includes a year of Office 365 – At just $119.99, the Encore Mini is one of the most affordable Windows devices ever, and features a 7-inch 1024x600px display. It also comes with full-fat Windows 8.1, rather than the more limited Windows RT, and the deal is made even sweeter with the inclusion of a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription – including 1TB of OneDrive storage – which would usually cost $6.99 a month, or $69.99 a year.

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Fox Sports Go To Stream 101 NFL Games Online And On Tablets This Season – Once upon a time, it was rare to see sports streamed online, but that’s no longer true. As more and more audiences are turning to their laptops, mobile phones and tablets to watch streams of their favorite sports teams, broadcasters are increasingly making those matches available on those devices. The latest is Fox Sports, which will stream 101 NFL games it has rights to this season.

How to: Using a tablet as a mobile hotspot – Most have heard of using a phone as a mobile hotspot to get laptops online. Tablets can also do that, and here’s how to do it right.

Skype for Xbox One update adds photo viewing and enhanced snap experience – Team Skype at Microsoft have rolled out an update for the Xbox One that brings photo viewing and an overall better snap experience to the console. That, and more!

Netflix updates Xbox One app with new layout users hate, removes key features – Netflix updated its Xbox One app, bringing a new interface users hate and cutting many features, such as voice navigation options, all gesture controls and the “continue watching” section.

Windows Cortana can now predict NFL football games – This week the folks at Microsoft responsible for bringing next-generation or otherwise awesome oddities to Cortana have done so. They’ve brought a feature that, even if you don’t watch football in the USA, you can use. You can use it and feel like a pro when you’ve correctly predicted that the Minnesota Vikings will win the Superbowl. Based on previous scores of games between the two playing in a game, statistics, and stadium conditions, Microsoft will predict your next game.

Logitech outs polyamorous K480 Bluetooth keyboard – Logitech has launched a new Bluetooth keyboard for the gadget-unfaithful, with the Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 able to switch between three different devices at the caress of a dial. Intended to jump between your PC or Mac, your tablet, and your phone – or any other combination of devices, in fact – the K480 also finds room for shortcuts for the more popular platforms.

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Transitioning from Windows to Linux administration: A guide for newcomers, Part II – Windows and Linux are operating systems with many similarities and differences. Learn some tips to help cross the bridge between the two in the second of a multi-part series. (Registration required.)

Get a GoGroove Bluetooth multimedia remote for $19.99 – Compatible with Android and iOS devices, this handy little clicker has shuttle, shutter, and even voice controls.

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Security:

Attack hijacks DNS settings on home routers in Brazil – An ongoing attack in Brazil tricks users into visiting malicious websites that attempt to silently change the Domain Name System settings of their home routers. If the attack is successful, the routers are reconfigured to use rogue DNS servers that redirect victims to phishing pages when they open banking sites, said Fabio Assolini, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post Tuesday.

Firefox adds protection against rogue SSL certificates – Mozilla has added a defense in its latest version of Firefox that would help prevent hackers from intercepting data intended for major online services. The feature, known as certificate key pinning, allows online services to specify which SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Security Layer) certificates are valid for their services. The certificates are used to verify a site is legitimate and to encrypt data traffic.

CNN ‘tech analyst’ on NUDE CELEBS: WHO IS this mystery ‘4chan’ PERSON? – “If your password is password, change the ‘s’ to a dollar sign.” That’s the advice from US news network CNN’s “technology analyst” Brett Larson, who also thinks that anarchic message board 4chan is some sysadmin bloke who knew how to “hack things” so he could leak saucy, private photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities.

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(The usual mass media misrepresentation of security issues, presented by the usual tech moron – masquerading as an expert. Little wonder then, that average users continue to misunderstand security issues.)

Mac Antivirus Products Prove Effective in Whole-Product Test – Yesterday I commented on how rarely we see Mac antivirus products put to the test, compared to the widespread lab testing of PC antivirus. Wouldn’t you know it, another major testing lab has just released Mac antivirus test results today. AV-Comparatives performed a multi-faceted evaluation of nine Mac antivirus products and found most of them to be effective.

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Report: Businesses at risk from unreported mobile device theft – A new survey from Kaspersky Lab shows some concerning trends when it comes to securing and protecting business data on mobile devices.

Company News:

Verizon to Pay $7.4M to Settle FCC Privacy Probe – Verizon will pay $7.4 million to settle an FCC investigation into the service provider’s failure to notify consumers before using personal information for marketing purposes. The FCC Enforcement Bureau’s probe revealed that Verizon Communications neglected to tell 2 million new customers of their privacy rights, then accessed personal information to advertise services.

US court approves eBay settlement over no-hire agreement – A court in California has approved a settlement reached earlier this year between eBay and the U.S. Department of Justice over a deal the e-commerce company is said to have reached with Intuit not to hire each other’s employees. Under the settlement proposed in May and cleared Tuesday by District Judge Edward J. Davila of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, eBay is prevented for five years from entering into or maintaining agreements with other companies that restrain employee recruitment and hiring.

Apple, Google resume talks with tech workers in wage-fixing suit – Four Silicon Valley companies have resumed mediation talks with tech workers who sued the firms for allegedly colluding to fix wages, according to a court document filed Wednesday. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe have come together with the plaintiffs, after Judge Lucy Ko, of the Northern District of California in San Jose, in August rejected a $324.5 million settlement as being too low.

Microsoft Will Mass-Produce Its Big-Ass Touchscreens – Remember the Big-Ass Table? Microsoft isn’t done making huge slabs of touch-capable screen, it turns out. The company’s Stephen Elop announced this week that Microsoft intends to “mass-produce” its Perceptive Pixel (PPI) displays, which are touch-enabled and can stretch to up to 82 inches in size.

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Microsoft Nokia rebranding has begun – The change is now! Microsoft has begun changing the names of Nokia apps in their Lumia smartphones to ones more suitable for their slightly less Nokia-branded universe. While we don’t expect a press release on the subject, we will see a whole lot more Microsoft before the week is through.

AVG To Buy Family-Focused Mobile Security Company, Location Labs, In Deal Worth Up To $220M – Mobile security company Location Labs is being acquired by online security firm AVG in a deal worth up to $220 million. AVG said today it will pay around $140 million initially to buy Location Labs, plus up to an additional $80 million in cash consideration over the next two years, based on certain performance metrics and milestones being met.

Appeals court clears Yelp of claims that it fixed reviews – A federal appeals court has cleared Yelp of claims that it extorted businesses into advertising on its site by fabricating bad reviews about them. A handful of small-business owners filed a class-action lawsuit against Yelp in 2010, claiming it tried to strong-arm them into buying ads by hiding or removing positive reviews, or penning negative ones. The claims had already been dismissed in federal court, and the court of appeals on Tuesday upheld that decision.

Games and Entertainment:

CodeSpells: Write code, invent magic spells – Programming has become a highly important skill — but from the outside, it often seems like it would be both difficult and boring to learn. Ask anyone who’s a programmer and they’ll probably say otherwise, but taking that initial step can be a hurdle for many. Enter CodeSpells, an open-world video-game that aims to inspire interest in coding — by having players write their very own magic spells by experimenting with code.

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Scientific American – Brain Games: Do They Really Work? – One of the crucial questions for brain-training programs is whether or not the specific skills emphasized during training, such as improved auditory perception, actually generalize to other cognitive abilities. In other words, will practicing auditory perception lead to improved visual perception? And how long do training effects persist? According to Sherry Willis and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University brain exercises that focus on training reasoning skills do translate into long-lasting improvements in daily life.

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls announced – Following Avernum: Escape from the Pit—Spiderweb’s remake of their first Avernum game from way back when—comes Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, a remake of their second. You’ll know what to expect if you’ve played a Spiderweb game before now, and you’ve probably already made your mind up whether to buy it or not. For everyone else: here’s a lovely trailer.

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Retro groove might be hippest ‘Game of Thrones’ theme cover yet – Sure, there have been a lot of covers of the “Game of Thrones” theme song. We’ve seen it get the electronica treatment, heard it get played on an ’80s game console and on wine glasses, and even listened to a version in which the epic-sounding track gets rendered Super Mario style. But none of those versions are quite as hip as the one just released by Berlin-based YouTuber Milan Vuckovic.

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Watch Dogs: Bad Blood DLC tells the story of T-Bone – The upcoming Watch Dogs DLC Bad Blood will put players in the shoes of T-Bone Grady, the legendary hacker and trusted companion of Aiden Pearce, who risks his safety to help out an old friend but soon realizes that there’s more to his story than meets the eye.

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition review – a tangible feeling of growth – Revamped from both its 2012 and 2013 releases, the graphics are the most obvious improvement, with the slick visuals gorgeously rendering your wizard’s magic as it blasts into a gaggle of Hellions. As with the original, the task is seemingly straightforward: hack, shoot or spell (depending on the chosen class of warrior) a way through endless hordes of evil, while looting bodies and the landscape for new, more powerful weapons, elixirs and armours. The sheer scale of the enemy armies, however, soon makes life tough.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

30 Incredible Vintage Tech Commercials – Apropos of nothing, here’s a collection of old-timey tech. We’ve come a long way, no? AT&T’s “You Will” ads from the early ’90s were eerily prescient. Widescreen monitors? Check. Touchscreens? Check. Dash-mounted GPS? Check. Using a tablet to send a fax from the beach? Eh, close enough.

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(The TI-994A – my last “computer” purchase before the jump into PCs. This was a terrific little machine, for the time.”)

Founder of 4Chan Chris Poole, the ‘anti-Zuckerberg’ – podcast – This podcast is a repeat of our edition from 17 April 2014. The anonymous online picture-based forum 4chan.org (warning: some content may offend) was set up in 2003 by the-then 15-year-old Chris Poole. Since its inception as an anime and manga discussion forum, 4chan has become a key player in online anonymity. In the first of two conversations dedicated to online identity and anonymity, Aleks Krotoski meets with Chris to discuss at length his perspective on this issue and explore why he has been dubbed the “anti-Zuckerberg”.

Insurers will now be able to track driver behavior via smartphones – A new usage-based insurance (UBI) software platform will allow companies to track drivers’ behavior through smartphone sensors and geolocation services. Agero, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of roadside safety software and services to automakers and insurance companies, said its new UBI telematics suite will transmit to insurers the information needed to offer discounts to good drivers, penalize others, and send alerts to emergency assistance service providers.

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Agero’s PolicyPal can track general information such as what percentage of your mileage is on local roads or highways, as well as detailed information, such as how often you make sharp turns or brake hard.

The Fappening Has Revealed a New Type of Pervert – Human failure, not celebrity nudity, is what’s really getting them off. Our appetite for pornographic trespass is no longer for accidentally bared skin, but accidentally bared humanity. We want to know the setting the woman is in, the story behind each shot.

This robot bird of prey is designed to scare real birds – Unless you look really close, this robot peregrine falcon would almost look like the real thing from a distance, especially while flapping its wings high above the sky. That resemblance to a real avian predator, however faint, might just be enough to scare away other birds that would other wise ruin crops or even endanger human lives.

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Marijuana Production: The Next Great Energy Hog? – As a growing number of states flirt with marijuana legalization, they must grapple with how best to bring a multi-billion dollar industry out from the shadows and into the light of the regulated, tax-paying world. While both sides of the legalization debate cherry pick the results of these experiments to support their particular point of view, the new reality on the ground has highlighted one facet that few are talking about: marijuana production is a huge power suck. At least producing marijuana indoors is a big fat electricity hog, which is how the vast majority of legal growhouses still operate.

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Brain-to-brain verbal communication in humans achieved for the first time – A team of researchers has successfully achieved brain-to-brain human communication using non-invasive technologies across a distance of 5,000 miles.

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New Ultra High-Def Satellite Shows Mind-Blowing View of a Forest Fire – State-of-the-art imaging technology on board DigitalGlobe’s recently launched WorldView-3 satellite offers unprecedented views of world events. The technology, known as Shortwave Infrared Imagery, or SWIR, can penetrate thick clouds of smoke, as shown in the image below of a forest fire. The photo reveals a clear image of an August fire at the Happy Camp complex in California’s Klamath National Forest.

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A forest fire at the Happy Camp complex in California’s Klamath National Forest imaged with (left) and without (right) SWIR, in Aug. 2014.

Baidu launches chopsticks that tell you your food is safe to eat – From recycled cooking oil to fox meat and chemicals, a litany of food scandals has turned Chinese diners’ stomachs, but a new “smart chopsticks” concept by search engine Baidu could be the answer. The device, which the company says can tell consumers whether their meal is safe to eat, was born of an April Fool video, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Something to think about:

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”

–      Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

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(Tor running on my personal system.)

War Thunder – War Thunder is a next generation MMO combat game dedicated to World War II military aviation, armored vehicles, and fleets. You will take part in all of the major combat battles, fighting with real players all over the world.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal: In a lot of ways, we’re worse off today than we were under George W. Bush – Back then, Bush’s extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration.

The expectation was that those policies would be quickly reversed, discredited — and explicitly outlawed — once he was no longer in power.

Instead, under President Barack Obama, they’ve become institutionalized.

There will be no snapping back to a pre-Bush-era respect for basic human dignity and civil rights. Thanks to Obama, it’s going to be a hard, long fight.

In some cases, Obama has set even darker precedents than his predecessor. Massively invasive bulk surveillance of Americans and others has been expanded, not constrained. This president secretly condemns people to death without any checks or balances, and shrugs as his errant drones massacre innocent civilians. Whistleblowers and journalists who expose national security wrongdoing face unprecedented criminal prosecution.

In a few cases, Obama publicly distanced himself from Bush/Cheney excesses, but to little effect. He forswore torture, and promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But by actively covering up what happened in the U.S.’s torture chambers, and by refusing to hold the torturers and their political masters in any way accountable, he has done nothing to make sure that the next time a perceived emergency comes up, it won’t all happen again. And Gitmo, which he treated as a political rather than moral issue, is still very much open for business.

To his credit, Obama is not driven, like Bush and Dick Cheney were, to involve us in massive land wars. And he inherited a mess full of no-win scenarios. But he chose to extend a dead-end war in Afghanistan for two years — and 1,300 American lives — based on political optics rather than military strategy. And he is blind to reality in the Middle East; cleaving to the belief that airstrikes and fealty to Israel are viable long-term strategies, and ignoring the fact that his counter-terrorism policies actually create more terrorists than they destroy.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 4, 2014

  1. It’s now been almost 13 years….