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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Security:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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 pissedconsumer.com 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.

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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.

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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.

Features:

Screensaver

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

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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

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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.

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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 cecb2b.com, 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 cecb2b.com 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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1 Comment

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

One response to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 23, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers

    Even before this recent terrorist crisis, Tony Abbott’s government has been trying to gain new powers over us all. He is using the disgusting ISIS threat to justify it all. Yes, we want him to fight terrorism and keep us safe, but there are better ways to do it.

    Do you know Tony hates criticism from his own Public Service? He has tried to gag them too, even if they post criticism in THEIR OWN TIME. Here is a link to the story.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/colleagues-told-dob-in-political-web-posts/story-fni0cx12-1226875635588?nk=ff969bb2e65ae73de899d2d6516c20f6

    He is also using this terrorist issue as a diversion/deflection over his lies and broken promises to get elected a year ago. I want him to succeed in protecting us, but I have watched this bloke for years and some part of him would be very glad indeed he now has an issue that he can look strong on. The problem is, we (the public) are getting trampled on in his quest.

    Cheers

    Mal