Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 5, 2014

Meet the Russian-made tool that grabs nude selfies from iCloud accounts;  FCC chief: Broadband competition doesn’t exist;  Big tech companies plan “Internet Slowdown” to fight for net neutrality;  Five apps to expand Word 2013’s feature set;  Supercharge your Android contacts with Groups;  Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review;  Tech-shy baby boomers get low-cost tablet from AARP, Intel;  Chrome OS update: Multi-User activated;  Facebook To Re-Educate All Users With A Privacy Checkup;  Apple to add security alerts in the wake of iCloud hacking scandal;  Microsoft plans critical IE update next week;  Adobe to release Acrobat, Reader updates;  Microsoft Will Give You Any Xbox One Game If You Buy The Console Next Week;  EA Launches ‘Madden GIFerator’ for Your Looping Pleasure;  The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch;  Comodo BackUp (free);  Auslogics Browser Care (free).

All your data are belong to us (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud) – Even if the data is secure, there’s also no guarantee that the company housing the data will keep your data secure from both internal and external threats. Do you read all of the the Terms of Service agreements before using an online service, and then again every time they’re updated? If not, you risk companies slipping verbiage past you that takes away your ownership rights or worse. The question to ask is whether we should trust our data in the cloud. The answer isn’t as straight forward as it may initially appear, regardless of what side of the argument you fall on.

Meet the Russian-made tool that grabs nude selfies from iCloud accounts – There’s a seedy trade in compromising photos stored in Apple iCloud accounts, and it is in part aided by a software program that cleanly collects the data. Some of the nude celebrity photos are believed to have first been circulated on Anon-IB, a definitely not safe-for-work forum. As reported by Wired, the forum is full of offers for iCloud “ripping,” or downloading the entire contents of an account. The software tool they’re using is Moscow-based Elcomsoft’s Phone Password Breaker, or EPPB, one of many forensic tools the company develops for law enforcement and other clients.


Cracked versions of a forensic tool called the Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker are being used to download entire contents of iCloud accounts.

How to prepare your iPhone or iPad for iOS 8 – Apple announced the eighth major release of its iOS mobile operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The latest version of iOS include improvements to the Siri voice assistant, a new health and wellness app, and revamped notifications, among other things. With iOS 8 slated to arrive on devices in the coming weeks, now is the perfect time to ensure that your iPhone or iPad is prepared to receive the update. These tips will help make the transition to iOS 8 from iOS 7 as smooth as possible.

Five apps to expand Word 2013’s feature set – Why leave your document to use an external tool when you can integrate the functionality you need into Word? Check out these five free mini apps to add power to Word 2013.

FCC chief: Broadband competition doesn’t exist – FCC head calls truly high-speed Net access a modern-day essential but says most Americans “have no competitive choice,” a position that could perturb Comcast and AT&T.

How to enable and disable Netflix’s new private recommendations – Netflix added a feature that lets you make movie and TV recommendations to friends. Learn how it works and how, should it get spammy, to turn it off.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Supercharge your Android contacts with Groups – Android expert Jack Wallen shows you how Contact Groups can help you communicate and work more efficiently and effectively.

Tech-shy baby boomers get low-cost tablet from AARP, Intel – Technology can be daunting for users of a certain age, but Intel and AARP are offering help with a simple-to-use tablet. The RealPad tablet is aimed at users who are 50 and older, the age range for AARP membership, and shy of technology. Simplicity is key: The tablet provides quick access to email, Web sites, social networks, multimedia and ebooks through a user interface with large icons. “Now there’s no excuse for not having a tablet. RealPad makes it easy to connect, share and learn,” the RealPad website proclaims. The tablet, which has a 7.85-inch screen and is based on the Android OS, will sell for $189 starting in mid-October through Walmart’s website.


Huawei’s huge, octa-core Ascend Mate 7 (pictures) – The Huawei Ascend Mate is an enormous 6-inch phone with an ultra high definition display, octal-core processor and fingerprint scanner.


Hands-on: Tempo brings its super-smart calendaring to iPad – Tempo, a powerful calendar app for the iPhone, goes beyond just displaying events and dates, instead pulling together multiple calendars and contextual data to serve as a digital assistant. It’s a productivity powerhouse on the iPhone, but until now has been missing from the iPad. This is finally being rectified, as starting on Thursday Tempo is available as a universal app.

Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review – With the Acer Chomebook 13, the brand summons the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor to stand out from the pack. With high-end processing power the likes of which only otherwise rest inside the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, what else is needed to create the perfect Chromebook? How about one of the finest keyboard we’ve experienced on a Chromebook as well as a trackpad that would make most Windows notebooks jealous?


Chrome OS update: Multi-User activated – Right on time! Right as we’ve published our new Acer Chromebook 13 FHD Review this morning, the newest update to Chrome OS has arrived. This update includes Multi Sign in support, App Info view in the Chrome launcher, and Save to Google Drive in Incognito Mode. You can grab this Chrome OS update right this minute.

Ikea Parodies Apple With ‘Bookbook’ Video – If you’re familiar with Apple’s marketing videos, you’ll appreciate the blatant homage (or mocking) that Ikea delivers to promote the unveiling of its new “Bookbook.” No, that’s not the Swedish word for nightstand or an e-reader. The “Bookbook” is, in actuality, Ikea’s annual catalog. That’s it. Nothing fancy. But that’s the joke behind the company’s big buildup and lush descriptions of the “product” within the Bookbook’s teaser video.


Twitpic is shutting down September 25th, blames Twitter – Long before Twitter had its own built-in image hosting service, there was Twitpic. The image host was launched in 2008 and has been a prominent Twitter tool ever since, but the company has announced today that it’s closing its doors on September 25th. According to the blog post, Twitter is to blame for Twitpic’s untimely demise.

Nokia Screen Sharing pipes Lumia to TV via NFC coaster – How many times have you bothered connecting your smartphone to your TV? Microsoft is aiming to make the answer “at least once” with the new Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones, a circular set-top box with a companion NFC plate intended to ease the pairing process.



Facebook To Re-Educate All Users With A Privacy Checkup On Their Posts, Apps, And Profiles – The top gripe about Facebook is that people don’t know who they’re sharing with, so in the coming days Facebook will push everyone through a multi-step privacy checkup that reminds who they share statuses with, what apps they’ve given permissions, and what’s visible on their profile. A cutesy blue dinosaur will lead people through the process which was originally tested in March but is now getting shown to everyone. If Facebook can get users to endure the little chore while making them more confident about who they share with, they might be willing to post more frequently and wider range of content to the social network.


Apple to add security alerts in the wake of iCloud hacking scandal – Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has announced in an interview that the company would be adding new security features to iCloud, including alerts that notify you if someone tries to change your password.


Microsoft plans critical IE update next week – Microsoft today announced that it will issue just four security updates to customers next week, with the usual patches for Internet Explorer plus others for Windows, the .Net Framework and Lync, the company’s communications server software. Only the IE update was rated “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking. The others were tagged as “important,” the next step down in the company’s four-level scoring system.

Hackers exploit critical vulnerability in popular WordPress theme component – WordPress admins should check if their sites use the Slider Revolution plug-in and update it immediately, researchers said.

Adobe to release Acrobat, Reader updates – On Tuesday, about the time that Microsoft issues its Patch Tuesday Windows updates, Adobe will release new versions of Reader and Acrobat.

Company News:

Google To Pay Out At Least $19M To Settle FTC Complaint On Kids In-App Charges – The settlement requires Google to contact all consumers who placed an in-app charge to inform them of the refund process for unauthorized in-app charges by children within 15 days of the order being finalized. Google must make these refunds promptly, upon request from an account holder, the FTC notes, continuing: “Should Google issue less than $19 million in refunds to consumers within the 12 months after the settlement becomes final, the company must remit the balance to the Commission for use in providing additional remedies to consumers or for return to the U.S. Treasury.”

Microsoft is being sued over its Bing Image Widget – Getty Images is suing Microsoft over its Bing Image Widget, claiming that the online tool facilitates a “massive infringement” of copyrighted images, and insisting that it be disabled immediately.

Cleaning Startup Homejoy Launches Its First iPhone App – Two years after Homejoy first launched its home cleaning service, the startup is releasing an iPhone app — its first native experience for smartphones. It seems a little crazy for a current-day, consumer-facing startup to wait that long to build a real presence on mobile, particularly when you’re talking about a company as well-funded as Homejoy.

NVIDIA Sues Samsung and Qualcomm, Tries To Get Samsung Galaxy Devices Blocked From The U.S. – Ready for another big patent battle? NVIDIA has just filed patent lawsuits against both Samsung and Qualcomm, claiming the companies are infringing upon its graphics chip patents. The end goal? To block the shipment of Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets until Samsung coughs up patent licensing fees. In a blog post on the matter, NVIDIA notes that it tried to negotiate with Samsung directly but was unable to reach a deal.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft Will Give You Any Xbox One Game If You Buy The Console Next Week – Thinking about picking up an Xbox One to play some Destiny when it launches? You might want to wait a few days. Do that, and you’ll get Destiny — or literally any other Xbox One game — for free. From September 7th to September 13th, every Xbox One console bought at a retailer comes with an Xbox One game of your choosing. Want Destiny? Okay! Titanfall? That’s fine too. Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare? I’ll probably make fun of your decision making skills, but okay! If it’s $59.99 or under, Microsoft will eat the bill.

Destiny trailer will leave you begging for a movie – Bungie has been laying it on thick for the last week in preparation for the September 9 launch of Destiny, but today’s trailer is something completely different. Instead of the usual in-game content or cinematic fun, Bungie has treated us to a little bit of what Destiny would look like as a live action film.


Watch as Star Trek: TOG continues with new actors – There’s a nerd movement happening with new Star Trek: The Original Series episodes being made with quality of the highest order. No, they’re not made by the official Star Trek team. Yes, they are amazing.


The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch – Game streaming has grown to become a huge part of the Internet. It’s so big that Amazon and Google were both looking to spend big bucks to acquire top game streaming website Twitch. The deal eventually went to Amazon, which spent $970 million dollars for the service. That amount may seem odd for people who aren’t familiar with the service, but Twitch’s traffic is huge. In fact, Twitch gaming streams generate more traffic than HBO Go. 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.

Pirate copies of The Sims 4 slowly pixelate the screen – Game developers over the years have come up with some pretty novel implementations of anti-piracy. Not DRM as we typically see it, but measures that slowly break or tweak a game sometimes without the pirate player realizing what’s happening. The latest example of this can be seen in The Sims 4. Developer Maxis has decided to reward pirates playing the latest in The Sims releases with pixelation.


EA Launches ‘Madden GIFerator’ for Your Looping Pleasure – Its newly launched “Madden GIFerator” will allow football fanatics to create their own GIFs from pre-generated, in-game imagery. You pick the player and the movement, select from an assortment of backgrounds to stick behind them (up to and including a haunted castle or a field of cherry blossoms), and give them a caption (nothing naughty). Once done, you can then share your clever insights with your friends by tossing them a link or posting the GIF on your favorite social media site.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Big tech companies plan “Internet Slowdown” to fight for net neutrality – Next week, some of the biggest tech companies will lead a symbolic “Internet Slowdown” to protest the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality proposal. “Several top websites—including Etsy, Kickstarter, Foursquare, WordPress, Vimeo, reddit, Mozilla, Imgur, Meetup, Cheezburger, Namecheap, Bittorrent,, StartPage, BoingBoing, and Dwolla—announced that they will be joining more than 35 advocacy organizations and hundreds of thousands of activists in a day of action that will give a glimpse into what the Internet might look like if the FCC’s proposed rules go into effect,” a blog post today from the advocacy group “Fight for the Future” said.


Dyson 360 Eye turns the robot vacuum world on its head with a bot that can see – The 360 Eye weighs 5.22lbs and is capable of holding 0.4 liters of collected dirt. The battery will last 20 minutes without any drop in performance and then it docks and recharges itself ready for another run. You also don’t have to worry about it getting stuck on an obstacle. As well as that intelligent vision system Dyson placed continuous tank tracks on the 360 Eye’s base, meaning consistent travel across all floor types and small obstacles. The Dyson 360 Eye will be released in limited quantities in Japan this year and the release date for the United States is expected to be Fall 2015. With 31 software engineers having worked on it and some 420 patents pending, we’re expecting the Dyson 360 Eye to be something a bit special.


LEGO now the world’s top toymaker – If it wasn’t already obvious by the massive amount of visibility the LEGO brand has in your daily life by now, LEGO is a massively successful brand. They’ve made their massiveness official with an announcement during their most recent earnings call. This week LEGO has become the most successful toymaker in the world.


Quantum physics just solved one of the great paradoxes of time travel – The actual experiment claims to have confirmed a principle called self-consistency, which basically states that if a particle went back in time it would have a certain probability of emerging and self-interfering across time, and that that probability is fixed to that probability that it will enter the CTC and go back in time. The upshot is that any object traveling backward in time actually has a sort of multi-dimensional probability distribution — much like an electron is in all places within its positional probability distribution. If you’re interested, below you can watch a (long) lecture by one of the lead researchers on the topic of time travel.


New toilet paper makes your bathroom life worth living – Each year, 17 billion cardboard toilet paper tubes are thrown away, enough to fill the Empire State Building twice over. Aside from the garbage it creates, the cardboard tube is — joking of bathroom quality of life aside — a tedious annoyance. Cutting out tedium — however slight — is always welcomed, and Kimberly-Clark engineers have developed a toilet paper roll without the tube. Never again will you have to walk from the bathroom all the way to the recycling bin after you finish off a roll.


Something to think about:

“Actions have consequences…first rule of life. And the second rule is this – you are the only one responsible for your own actions.”

–     Holly Lisle

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical data.

Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup.

Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more.

Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click.

Protect yourself against ever losing those critical files that took hours to create. Schedule backups to run automatically at a time that suits you. Send E-mail notifications to team members about the status of a backup job Save Disk space by compressing your backups as compressed CBU files. Configure in minutes with our intuitive interface Suitable for both beginners and network administrators alike, Comodo BackUp can be set to run at logon before starting your work day, then you can easily restore your data if necessary with a double click.

We all know that making regular backups is a good idea – you’d do it if you knew where to begin, right? Comodo BackUp makes it easy to be safe and secure by reducing the usually complex task of backup configuration to a few clicks of the mouse.


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

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place


PasswordFox – PasswordFox is a small password recovery tool that allows you to view the user names and passwords stored by Mozilla Firefox Web browser.

By default, PasswordFox displays the passwords stored in your current profile, but you can easily select to watch the passwords of any other Firefox profile. For each password entry, the following information is displayed: Record Index, Web Site, User Name, Password, User Name Field, Password Field, and the Signons filename.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With Agency Before Publication – A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.

“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, “does this look better?” In another, he directly asks the flack: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”

Google X VP now USA’s new Chief Technology Officer – Today the White House has named Google’s Megan Smith the United States’ new Chief Technology Officer. President Obama has also named former Twitter lawyer Alexander Macgillivray the new Deputy US CTO.

This update to the roster sends Todd Park out and Smith in. Smith is also the Vice President of Google X at Google and on the boards of Vital Voices and MIT. She co-founded the Malala Fund and is a member of the USAID Advisory Committee on Voluntary Aid.


Above you’ll see Smith speaking at Google’s Startup Grind 2014.

The position of CTO was initiated by President Obama and has been held by two others before now. Aneesh Chopra held the position first, starting in April of 2009. Chopra was succeeded by Todd Park in early 2012. This position was formerly called the much more wordy “Assistant to the President, Associate Director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

Top DOJ, intelligence officials back bill to end bulk phone collection – Two top officials in the Obama administration, including the director of national intelligence, have voiced support for a Senate bill that would end the U.S. National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic telephone records.

The Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, which would allow the NSA to collect U.S. phone records only after targeting specific selection terms, “should provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a letter this week to the bill’s sponsor.

The bill “preserves essential intelligence community capabilities,” the two officials wrote to Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. The bill is “a reasonable compromise that enhances privacy and civil liberties and increases transparency,” they added.

The support from Clapper and Holder is a turnaround from late last year, when officials with the DOJ and ODNI said the USA Freedom Act would hinder U.S. terrorist tracking efforts. The Senate is likely to act on the USA Freedom Act after it returns from summer recess next week.

Chinese man sues state telecom firm for blocking Google – A 26-year-old in China is suing one of the country’s state telecommunication firms for disrupting access to Google after the government started blocking the company’s services in May.

Wang Long, a legal practitioner, filed the lawsuit in a Shenzhen court, which heard his case on Thursday. One Chinese state-run publication said its the first time a local resident has sued a company for failing to provide access to Google.

The legal action came about when Wang found that he could no longer access Google’s Hong Kong search engine and Gmail from his Internet and mobile service provider China Unicom. He is now demanding that China Unicom provide an explanation, and refund his Internet broadband and mobile charges from the past five months.

China started completely cutting access to Google services in late May, without stating why. The blocking occurred just as the 25th year anniversary to the Tiananmen Square massacre approached.

The country is notorious for censoring online discussion on anti-government topics, and local authorities have already blocked access to other U.S. websites including Facebook and Twitter.

Many Chinese Internet users have been commenting on the lawsuit, expecting it to be struck down in court, Wang said in an interview on Friday.

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