Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 11, 2014

Facebook Testing Self-Destruct Option for Posts;  Microsoft’s OneDrive now supports files up to 10GB;  30-Second Tech Trick: Faster iPhone Typing;  How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads;  5 must-know Excel macros for common tasks;  Hangouts for Android Updated – Google Voice Integration and Voice Calls;  Stay in the loop with these five mobile newsfeed apps;  Intel’s tiny Edison dev board is now on sale for $54;  The Best Second-Screen Apps for Watching TV;  Microsoft is testing playing Xbox games in your browser;  5 million Gmail passwords leaked; here’s how to protect yourself;  Reddit profited from leaked celeb pics;  Infographic: Security Tips for iOS 8;  Instagiffer (free);  SparkFun Blocks: 13 blocks for Intel’s Edison board.

Facebook Testing Self-Destruct Option for Posts – Facebook is taking a page from Snapchat’s book with a new feature that lets users set an expiration date for their posts. Several users have spotted the new option, which lets you set a post to vanish from the site in either one hour, three hours, six hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 2 days, or a week. At this point, the new feature is only available for some users on the Facebook iOS app

Microsoft’s OneDrive now supports files up to 10GB, faster syncing – Microsoft recently upped the file size limit on OneDrive from 2GB to an unknown maximum size – but now the company is confirming that 10GB is the new ceiling for file uploads.

Google Play Store refund window really is 2 hours now – We can finally put this rumor to rest. After previous speculation and random reports about Google’s new app refund policy, the Android maker has officially extended its refund timeout for Play Store app purchases to two hours, giving buyers enough time to test out apps and most especially games.

SwiftKey for iPhones and iPads to launch September 17 – Hope you haven’t had your fill of Apple and iPhone 6 news just yet, because here’s yet another one. SwiftKey has just booked a date on your calender when its popular third-party keyboard will be arriving on Apple’s devices. Starting 17th of September, SwiftKey will be available on iOS for the iPhone, the iPad, and even the iPod Touch.

30-Second Tech Trick: Faster iPhone Typing – A tap-tap here and a swipe-swipe there. That’s all it takes.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Stay in the loop with these five mobile newsfeed apps – The world of IT and business has us going nonstop at a breakneck speed, so we need to be able to get our news on the run. One of the handiest ways to get that news is by subscribing to a newsfeed (or 12). You can easily keep tabs on technology, world events, finance, politics, and much more (from multiple sources) in a single app. As you might expect, tons of news-centric apps are available, making it tough to narrow the field to the best ones. Let’s see what mobile apps top the charts for feeding you the news you need.

Hangouts for Android Finally Updated with Google Voice Integration and Voice Calls – Google has pushed out a huge and long overdue update for the Hangouts Android app. This version completely revamps the UI, adds calling features, and integrates Google Voice. It’s basically everything we’ve been waiting for Google to do with it’s messaging products.

wps47ED.tmp

U2’s new album is showing up on your iPhone whether you want it or not – This U2 thing, while adding to your media library rather than subtracting from it, has already caused a minor rash of Twitter complaints nonetheless (just search “iPhone U2”). If you don’t really want U2 to come up next time you put your phone on shuffle, there’s no way to permanently detach the album from your account, but there are ways to hide it so that you never have to lay ears on it.

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads – Tired of targeted ads? Protect your user data with these alternatives to Google, Gmail, Chrome, and Google Drive.

TiVo’s new pricing scheme will let you hook up 12 rooms – Taking advantage of the fact that houses may have more than one room and that people might want to watch TV in some of them, TiVo is announcing a new offer that will accommodate that scenario well. For a monthly service fee of $14.99, TiVo subscribers will be able to string together up to 12 rooms so that they can get access to their recordings anywhere. As long as they’re in the house, of course.

wps480D.tmp

5 must-know Excel macros for common tasks – If you’re not using macros, you’re ignoring one of Excel’s most powerful features. Macros save you time and spare you headaches by automating common, repetitive tasks. And you don’t have to be a programmer or know Visual Basic Applications (VBA) to write one. With Excel 2013, it’s as simple as recording your keystrokes. Here we’ll show you how to create macros for five commonly performed functions.

Intel’s tiny Edison dev board is now on sale for $54 – It might not be as tiny as Intel initially wanted it to be, but it’s still small enough to cram into just about whatever connected creation you can dream up. It is a bit of a bummer that Edison had to outgrow its SD card form factor, but the finished product measures just 35.5mm by 25mm. That’s about one-third the size of a Raspberry Pi and about half as big as an Arduino Uno. Breakout boards make it slightly larger, but size wasn’t as much of a concern for Intel once they decided that Edison would be a better fit for prototyping IoT devices than wearables.

wps482E.tmp

SparkFun Blocks: 13 blocks for Intel’s Edison board – SparkFun has rolled out the red carpet for its new Blocks series of add-ons for Intel’s Edison board. With the SparkFun Blocks, users can bring additional functionality to the Edison board, such as adding a display — there are a total of 13 Blocks available spanning a variety of common functionalities.

wps486D.tmp

Top 5 reasons to upgrade to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus – There’s many reasons to pick up an iPhone 6 later this month, but here’s the top 5 that will tempt most people to upgrade.

wps488D.tmp

The Best Second-Screen Apps for Watching TV – If you’re watching live television without the aid of a smartphone or tablet, you’re missing out. There’s an entire world of apps out there designed to enhance your TV watching experience. And, all marketing hype aside, some of these apps are actually pretty darn good. Want to give the “second-screen” experience a try, but don’t know where to start? Here are some of our picks for the best second-screen apps for watching live TV.

Intel pastes second screen on prototype laptop – Forget laptop stickers: Intel’s pasted a second screen on a prototype laptop it showed at its annual developer conference. But the e-ink screen can do more than just show pictures. People can view news and weather feeds from the Internet even when the laptop is in hibernation mode. A Windows laptop operates at a very low power level when in hibernation — a state called “connected standby” mode — so the e-ink screen will continue to receive data as the Internet connection remains on.

wps48CD.tmp

Security:

5 million Gmail passwords leaked; here’s how to protect yourself – If you’ve not heard by now, Gmail password have leaked out. On a Russian website known for trafficking this type of thing, about 5 million passwords were left for the world to see, replete with the Gmail account they’re associated with. Sounds scary, but don’t worry — here’s how you protect yourself. First, put your Gmail into this tool to see if you’ve been compromised. It scrapes the database left on that Russian site to see if your Gmail account is listed. If you’re not, good for you. If you are, that sucks. Either way, you should probably revisit your password, and let this article serve as your reminder to check the security of your passwords.

wps48DD.tmp

Infographic: Security Tips for iOS 8 – Mere mortals like you and me will have to wait a bit longer before we can upgrade to iOS 8. However, software developers have had access to the OS for months. That makes them uniquely qualified to comment on the shiny new platform. The creators of the popular password manager Dashlane have put together a handy infographic listing iOS 8 security tips.

wps48FD.tmp

Devastating ‘Heartbleed’ flaw was unknown before disclosure, study finds – One of the most serious software flaws to affect the Internet, nicknamed “Heartbleed,” was likely unknown before it was publicly disclosed, according to new research. The finding puts to rest fears that government spying agencies may have been exploiting the flaw for surveillance activities. Widespread attacks using Heartbleed only began about a day after information about it became public, according to the paper, published by researchers at several U.S. Universities. “We find no evidence of exploitation prior to the vulnerability’s public disclosure, but we detect subsequent exploit attempts from almost 700 sources beginning less than 24 hours after disclosure,” they wrote.

5 Nigerian gangs and their US accomplices are behind most Craigslist buyer scams – Research has found a new, more profitable twist on the same old 419 advance fee fraud scam. It involves real checks, printed on real check paper, using real routing numbers, and being handled with lots of US accomplices to cover up the Nigerians’ tracks.

Company News:

Moderator: Reddit profited from leaked celeb pics – The leaked celebrity photo scandal has many angles by which to consider it troubling. On one hand, iCloud being hacked is alarming, and that raised eyebrow came well ahead of wondering who was responsible or why they’d even do such a thing. Now it seems Reddit, where many saw the pics initially, actually profited greatly from the event. Moderator John Menese says Reddit disclosed to him that enough members from TheFappening signed up for Reddit gold, their $3.99/month subscription layer, to run Reddit servers for a month. Menese more than hints Reddit was burning the candle at both ends, too.

Twitter To Raise Up To $1.5B In Debt Offering – Twitter wants more cash. The company announced two $650 million debt offerings in a filing today, each with a potential $100 increase provided that the sales are oversubscribed. Assuming full tip, including the $100 million boosters, Twitter will raise up to $1.5 billion with the two offerings. Half the debt will be due in 2019, and the other half in 2021.

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 210, bringing 4G LTE to cheapest devices – Qualcomm is targeting the sub-$100 device market with its new Snapdragon 210 chipset, which includes 4G LTE connectivity and support for 1080p video playback, cameras up to 8MP, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.

wps492D.tmp

Snapchat settles ownership dispute, says app idea came from ousted partner – Snapchat cofounders Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy have reached a settlement with former Stanford University colleague Frank Reginald “Reggie” Brown over an ownership dispute, admitting that Brown had originally come up with the idea for the app for sending disappearing picture messages.

Games and Entertainment:

Destiny cost $500 million to develop, Activision made that back at launch – Activision’s launch of Destiny is big on several levels. To start, the game pulled in half a billion dollars in sales in just one day. This means that not only was the game tremendously successful, but it shattered existing records for games sold in a digital format on games consoles. It’s also worth pointing out that Destiny cost roughly that same amount of money to make, which means when you add in marketing and extras, the game has more or less already paid for itself. This is a huge success financially, but perhaps even more impressive than sales is how well the launch was handled for users.

wps497C.tmp

This is what video games do after you stop playing – Mario falls asleep. Luigi plays with his nose. Earthworm Jim plays jump rope with himself. Conker juggles and then reads dirty magazines. Watch what happens when you forget to pick up the controller.

Luigi nose pull gif

Microsoft is testing playing Xbox games in your browser – Microsoft is currently testing a service that allows you to play Xbox games in your browser by utilizing a streaming service that it is building on top of Azure.

wps49DC.tmp

Batman V Superman Batmobile revealed, and it’s awesome – Behold, another Batmobile. Just supposing you didn’t have enough Batmobile action last month with the extended reveal of the Batmobile for Arkham Knight, here’s another! This one comes from the Batman V Superman film coming to theaters in the near future. A small collection of previous Batmobiles for your enjoyment. Never say you’ve seen the craziest until you’ve seen the whole set. You can see more at Batmobile History – an awesome collective.

wps4A2B.tmp

Comedy Central, MTV, and other Viacom channels coming to Sony Cloud TV – Cord cutters will finally be able to stream some cable networks without having to, uh, “borrow” a pay-TV subscriber’s login. Viacom is letting Sony’s upcoming cloud TV service to carry at least 22 of its most popular networks.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California bars online retailers’ fines for negative reviews – In response to online retailers threatening their customers with hefty fines for posting negative reviews, California has passed legislation that bans businesses from trying to contractually prohibit customers from publicly expressing their opinion about the business.

Digital mapping project reveals Stonehenge secrets – The mysterious broken circle of giant stones is not, after all, all there is to Stonehenge. The monument, which could be anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 years old, and which consists of stones foreign to its home of Wiltshire, England, is just part of a larger site in which 17 previously unknown monuments have been discovered.

wps4A89.tmp

’99 Luftballons’ performed on actual red balloons – In one of the best song covers we have ever heard, period, a YouTube superstar performs Nena’s 1983 single “99 Luftballons” using nothing but red balloons.

wps4AB9.tmp

So Apple’s watch turned out to be a thick, ugly, expensive yawner – Watch bands and bling. Seriously? This is Apple’s new category product? No. Instead, we got a watch Justin Bieber would wear.

Lines begin forming for iPhone 6 outside UK Apple Stores – It was bound to happen sooner or later, the queues are starting to form around the world. Last week we saw devout Apple fanatics in New York, this week the lines begin to form in the UK.

wps4AF9.tmp

The mix of poverty and piracy that turned Romania into Europe’s software development powerhouse – Western Europe may be struggling with a shortage of developers, but Romania’s unique technology history means it has no such worries. The country currently has more than 64,000 certified IT professionals, according to Gartner, and plays host to large offices of companies including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Bitdefender, and Vodafone. It may be the second poorest country in the European Union, but Romania is leading Europe in technology workers per capita, and ranks sixth in the world.

Something to think about:

“The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves.”

–     Eric Hoffer

Today’s Free Downloads:

Instagiffer – Instagiffer makes it easy to GIF directly from video files, online video sites like Youtube or anything on your screen (ie. Netflix, games, etc).

Features:

YouTube to GIF conversion. Supports hundreds of online video sites in addition to YouTube

Creates optimized, quality GIFs under 1MB in size

Open and edit existing GIF files (handy for captioning / resizing)

Make cool 2×2 GIF sets (example #2)

wps4B48.tmp

Unchecky Beta – Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer. Unchehky’s primary feature is automatic unchecking of unrelated offers, such as potentially unwanted programs, offers to change your homepage or your search engine. With Unchecky, these offers become opt-in instead of opt-out, i.e. they will be installed only if you explicitly choose you want them (you usually don’t).

Another important feature of Unchecky is that it warns when you accept a potentially unwanted offer. Installers often provide them as a natural part of the installation, so they can easily be accepted by mistake. With Unchecky, it’s less likely to accidentally accept such offers.

Unchecky is not an universal solution, and might not support installers which were not released yet. Thus, it’s worth noting that Unchecky updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.

image

Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows – Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

Features:

Comprehensive malware protection

Simple, free download

Automatic updates

Easy to use

wps4B87.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft Held In Contempt As It Battles A Domestic Search Warrant Demanding Overseas Data – Microsoft has been held in contempt of court after failing to comply with a warrant, following a rejection of a request for appeal on July 31st.

The case stems from a United States government search warrant for data stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. Microsoft contends that the data is outside the purview of the domestic warrant. The United States government disagrees.

Microsoft has thus far failed to gain traction in court, over several rounds, for its position. The technology industry has mostly aligned behind the software company. That Microsoft is willing to be held in contempt, even though the order appears to be mostly procedural, underscores how the company weighs the matter.

The court order’s tone is almost humorous: Microsoft isn’t doing what it has been told to do, and it thus being held in contempt, but the government isn’t seeking an immediate penalty, and Microsoft is really acting in the current fashion to ensure that it can continue to appeal.

WikiLeaks Spy Files: The interactive searchable database – In early September 2013 WikiLeaks released its last batch of leaked Spy Files –  which it had started releasing in 2011. To mark this anniversary, one of Silk’s data journalists Alice Corona cleaned and structured the data to build an interactive database combining the three Spy Files releases.

Currently, there are 559 leaked company documents, and 15 location tracking reports from WikiLeaks Counter Intelligence Unit (WLCIU). The 559 files disclose to the public internal documents from more than 100 companies specialized in intelligence and (mass) surveillance technologies. These technologies are sold both to Western governments and to dictators, and have been used by the Syrian government.

The 15 documents from WLCIU reveal the timestamps and locations of 20 members of these companies, whose whereabouts WikiLeaks has decided to track in order to show where the main surveillance contractors are sending its people. But what does the Spy Files database actually contain? Which are the most recurring intelligence companies and what systems do they target? How to download exactly the leaked document your research calls for? To answer these questions, we’ve decided to import WikiLeaks’s DB into Silk, to combine it with semantic technologies, a powerful query engine and a user-friendly interactive visualization interface.

Advertisements

2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 11, 2014

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Checked my Gmail address in the tool provided, substituting asterisks for 3 of the characters (you know me!). Lo and behold a match was found; just the one, so presumably it’s me. Not unduly worried as I’d activated 2 stage sign-in (you know me part 2!!). Still, a timely reminder to change my password; a bit of a pain to do on all devices but less so than having the account compromised.

    Thanks for the heads-up on this.

    Kind regards
    John