Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 2, 2014

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors;  Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights;  It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK;  How to recover deleted photos from a memory card;  4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity;  TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows;  How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities;  Windows 10 beta now available to download;  No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway;  How to extend your camera’s battery life;  PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool;  How to prevent phishing attacks on Android;  FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan;  Here’s a look at 30 years of Windows;  ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things;  Free Video Call Recorder for Skype.

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights – Top U.S. government officials are freaking out over Apple and Android smartphone encryption plans, using “think of the children” arguments, but why can’t the encryption argument be made “for the children” and for the sake of their future privacy rights?


ComputerCOP: the dubious “Internet Safety Software” given to US families – The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting those keystoke logs over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.

It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK – Back in June, the United Kingdom outlined new copyright rules that would allow citizens to make backups of their music, movies, and e-books. Previously, making copies of media was illegal. Today, those laws officially go into effect. It is, however, still illegal to share those backups with friends or family, and making copies of rented media, or media that a person pays a subscription for (like Rdio or Netflix) likewise remains illegal.

4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity – Not enough hours in the day? These tools can help you get it all done.

How to recover deleted photos from a memory card – Just deleted an important batch of images from your memory card? Never fear, here’s how to undelete them for Mac and PC users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows – TiVo’s Android app now streams programming saved on your DVR. It also has added capabilities to serve as a hub for all your TiVo services, including controlling the TiVo box as well as showing cast information and other details about the show you’re watching.

How to change settings for emergency alerts on your Android phone – The emergency alerts feature on modern smartphones is legitimately useful: It can warn you about dangerous weather conditions, natural disasters, AMBER alerts, or other important tidbits of information. But perhaps you already keep up on the news. Or maybe you don’t feel the need to be alerted about everything. If any of this sounds like you, you’ll be pleased to know that Android has a healthy array of options for managing emergency alerts.

How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities – You can continue your education with some amazing and free online resources available from top universities. These institutions offer many of their courses in the form of video lectures, audio transcripts and online quizzes. And some universities give you access to the professor and let you interact with other students taking the class. Want to give these free online courses a try? Here are the online education offerings from the top U.S. universities that we think are worth checking out.

No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway – The software giant on Wednesday introduced Sway, a new app in the Office portfolio that lets you pull together, format, and showcase your ideas online without any design experience. Users can search for content from sources like OneDrive, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or a phone or tablet’s camera roll without leaving the app, then drag and drop photos and videos directly into Sway. From there, simply add words, select a layout and style, or just let Sway do the formatting for you. It will display suggested combinations to consider, but allows for design tweaks or layout changes, at any time.


Facebook Apologizes To LGBT Community And Promises Changes To Real Name Policy – Facebook’s VP of Product Chris Cox made a statement today on Facebook apologizing (on behalf of the company, it seems) for any pain caused, and explaining how this situation came to be. The statement also included promises to improve the current real name policy to include all different types of people without risking the safety of other users.

Windows 8 drops in market share, Windows 7 continues dominance – It’s unexpected, but Microsoft’s latest operating system saw a slump in market share for August; Windows 8 and 8.1 both lost points for the month, while Windows 7 and XP continued to dominate.

Windows 10 beta now available to download—time to test the new Start menu – Microsoft released a technical preview of Windows 10 this morning, and it’s available for download here. System requirements are a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems or 2GB for 64-bit systems, 16GB of free hard disk space, and a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM driver. In other words, anything that’s capable of running Windows 8.1 can be moved to Windows 10. You can upgrade to the Windows 10 preview from either Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

Pointing up   Downloaded a copy this morning for installation on an old Core 2 Duo Processor 2.60 GHz. We’ll see how that goes.


How to extend your camera’s battery life – Here are some tips to help squeeze out every last bit of juice from your camera’s battery pack.

PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool – Aerial photography is one of those things that makes drones cool. If you were in awe of the drone video from inside a fireworks show, a new drone might let you do the very same thing. What sets this one apart is modularity, and that you can use your own camera to film the action.


Internet Explorer still the most popular browser, IE8 dominates – Looking at the data, we see Internet Explorer is still the leading browser around the world, by a wide margin. But this is isn’t exactly in Microsoft’s favor as the newest version is still struggling.


Hacked celebrities ‘dumb’, says proposed EU digital commissioner – Günther Oettinger, the European Union’s proposed Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, gave a disappointing performance at his confirmation hearing, dodging questions and calling the victims of a recent data breach “dumb.” Critics said Oettinger’s remarks about the celebrities whose iCloud accounts were compromised, allowing hackers to release nude photos of them, showed he was unfit for the job of shoring up public confidence in the Internet.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Don’t Need the Internet to Chat With One Another – Smartphones should make it easier to organize protests, but they’re as good as bricks when cell towers get overloaded with traffic or when governments decide to flip the switch. In the face of these hang-ups, Hong Kong’s demonstrators have turned to FireChat, a smartphone app that allows users to communicate even when they can’t get online or send texts. Unlike chat programs that work over the Internet, FireChat connects directly to other nearby users within up to about 250 ft. More people in range can then join the chat, extending the network even further. Pretty soon you can get up to a few thousand people chatting away, all without anybody connected to the Internet. FireChat is based on mesh networking, in which every device on a network works as a node for expanding that network.


How to prevent phishing attacks on Android – Sometimes, it’s not easy to know if the URL you are about to tap on is trustworthy or not. Considering that there are over 26,000 active phishing sites, that can be rather daunting. Fortunately, there are apps like Phishing Detective available to help you out. Phishing Detective is a simple solution that helps you know if a URL is safe to view. What this app does not do (although it says it can) is automatically check after you’ve tapped it (and prevent its opening should it be a phishing site). Instead, you have to use it as a manual URL checker. Yes, this is a bit of a hassle, but an ounce of prevention…

Jimmy Kimmel tops McAfee’s list of ‘most dangerous celebrities’ – No, I’m not suggesting Kimmel is an embezzler — even of jokes. Rather he’s found himself at the top of McAfee’s most dangerous celebrity list. It seems that those with an eye to planting malware on your digital soul and viruses in your digital pores are choosing most to use Kimmel’s name as bait. McAfee warns: “When you search for videos and downloads of Jimmy Kimmel, you’ve got a 1 in 5 chance to click on a page that tests positive for viruses and other malware.”

You can send this SSD a text message to make it self-destruct – Maybe simply encrypting your hard drive isn’t enough — you want the maximum level of data security possible. If that’s the case and money is no object, the Autothysis128t could be the SSD of your dreams. This 128GB SSD has full hardware encryption support along with unique security and data destruction protocols. You can even shoot a text message to your drive and destroy all the data before your numerous enemies get their hands on it.


Google Triples Chrome Bug Bounties – Going bug hunting? If so, you might want to turn your attention and expertise to Google’s Chrome browser. The company has now tripled the maximum reward that you could earn for successfully finding an exploit and notifying Google about the issue. And that maximum is a suggestion, not a hard cap. If you find an especially compelling bug, and you could earn even more. Meanwhile, if you submitted and were rewarded for bug reports at any point since July 1, 2013, Google will retroactively pay you the higher reward.

Report: LulzSec leader directed cyberattacks while working for FBI – Hector Xavier Monsegur directed attacks against targets in the UK, Australia, Brazil and other countries, The Daily Dot is reporting.

Company News:

Microsoft: Free Windows licensing brought 50 new phone and tablet partners – Talking about the new licensing model Microsoft has implemented, Terry Myerson explained that it has been a success with 50 new partners signing up to build tablets and Windows Phone devices.


Germany Warns Google Over User Profiling Privacy Violations – The Hamburg Data Protection Authority warned Google yesterday that its user profiling activities are violating Germany’s Telemedia Act & Federal Data Protection Act, owing to the lack of explicit user consent to how the data is processed. The watchdog said significant changes are necessary to bring Google into legal compliance in Germany — specifying that it must gain user consent for the profiling, and allow users to control what their data is used for.

Google bows to pressure, removes news snippets from German search results – In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results. Google will just show a link to a story along with the headline for news sites such as, or, said Google Germany’s country manager Philipp Justus Wednesday. The decision is the result of ongoing legal action started by several German news publishers that are members of the collecting society VG Media. After Google refused to compensate the publishers, they sued in June to get a cut of the ad revenue the company makes when it republishes parts of their news articles.

LinkedIn stocks up on education tools to get new users even before college – LinkedIn is stocking up on new tools designed to attract younger internet users to the platform as these students make the steps on their professional journey, starting with college.


FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan – Verizon was set to start throttling those users on unlimited data who had heavy data usage, but have reversed course. In response to heavy criticism from the public and FCC, Verizon is changing course, and will let those data hogs consume at their will.

Google shakes up cloud services market with another price cut – Google has fired back at Microsoft with cheaper cloud services, signaling another round of price cutting in an increasingly competitive market. Citing enhanced efficiency in its data centers as well as falling hardware costs, Google on Wednesday said it was cutting prices of its Google Compute Engine by about 10 percent for all instance types in every region.

ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things – Called mbed OS, the operating system aims to provide a common software layer for securing and connecting the mass of devices expected to be hooked up to networks in the coming years, ranging from streetlights and gas meters to home appliances and pacemakers. Along with the OS, ARM plans to sell a piece of back-end software, called the mbed Device Server, that companies will use to collect data from IoT devices and make the data available for use by other services, such as analytics programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch this: The new Interstellar trailer is amazing – The concept of having or even wanting to leave Earth for good has long haunted humanity. Are we really destroying our planet, forcing decay acre by acre, or will the terra rebound and take its revenge? Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s attempt to answer the former without the latter, and the latest trailer for his film looks spectacular.


Skylanders Trap Team Review: Good Storytelling And Simple RPG Mechanics Succeed – The ‘Toys to Life’ category has been a much-needed savior for the gaming and toy industry alike, bolstering sluggish sales for both by anticipating a huge demand for real-life action figures that can be ‘brought to life’ for use in digital games. Activision’s Skylanders series pioneered the concept, and the originator is back with Trap Team, a new installment with the unique game mechanic of allowing players to ‘trap’ key villains in special physical play pieces, which makes them playable in-game as characters.


Borderlands: The Pre-sequel to launch on SteamOS alongside Windows – Despite Valve’s longstanding push to increase the profile of Linux gaming (and the Linux-based SteamOS that is still hanging out in beta), the growing list of Linux games on Steam remains dominated by smaller, independent titles and a few ports of big-name classics. So it’s worth paying attention to the fact that 2K Games has announced that Borderlands: The Pre-sequel will have full Linux/SteamOS support on the same day it launches on Windows machines and consoles, October 14. The announcement comes alongside news that 2K has also released a port of Borderlands 2 for SteamOS, and it’s offering the older game at a 75 percent discount to celebrate.


Movie theaters plan to block the first Netflix theatrical release – This is far from the first time theaters have responded like this to a simultaneous theatrical and digital release, but it is the first time Netflix has been put in this situation. Initially, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had hoped this initiative would encourage other studios to break out of the traditional model and explore simultaneous released, but if this block can’t be overcome somehow, you can bet that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Off Topic (Sort of):

So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code – IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x, and Organizer have now officially all passed their end of life support date and, according to IBM’s website, “No service extensions will be offered” – not that anyone is seriously using the spreadsheet any more. It’s a sadly muted end for what was, at one time, the world’s premier spreadsheet. Lotus 1-2-3 was one of the first applications that made IBM’s original PC a serious business tool, but it fell by the wayside due to poor coding decisions, failure to adapt, and the crushing tactics of Microsoft.

The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times – On 27 August 1883, the Earth let out a noise louder than any it has made since. It was 10:02 AM local time when the sound emerged from the island of Krakatoa, which sits between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It was heard 1,300 miles away in the Andaman and Nicobar islands (“extraordinary sounds were heard, as of guns firing”); 2,000 miles away in New Guinea and Western Australia (“a series of loud reports, resembling those of artillery in a north-westerly direction”); and even 3,000 miles away in the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, near Mauritius* (“coming from the eastward, like the distant roar of heavy guns.”1) In all, it was heard by people in over 50 different geographical locations, together spanning an area covering a thirteenth of the globe.


The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena, 1888; Parker & Coward; via Wikipedia.

What Earth would be if humans were eradicated – We hear stories all the time about the effects humans have on our planet, such as the recent news that half of Earth’s wildlife has dwindled in the past handful of decades. What would happen if all humans disappeared from our planet, however? Earth Unplugged takes a look.


Why Your Geography Does Not Control Your Destiny – Now more than ever, geography no longer controls your destiny in the tech world. While fashion centers around cities like Paris and New York, oil and gas around Calgary and Houston, and cars in Detroit and Tokyo, good software and hardware companies are sprouting up everywhere. The trend is so rampant that “how I built my startup outside Silicon Valley” is no longer the most relevant story.

TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 3: IBM PC Model 5150 – This is the third installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the transistor to modern day chips on our connected devices.


Windows 10 arriving — here’s a look at 30 years of Windows – In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft about creating an operating system for its personal computers. Never having written an OS before, Microsoft simply bought an operating system called QDOS — or “Quick and Dirty Operating System” — and changed the name to MS Disk Operating System before licensing it to IBM. MS-DOS required you to type in arcane commands, so Microsoft set to work on making a new OS with a more accessible user interface. Codenamed ‘Interface Manager’, the OS used a mouse and onscreen drop-down menus, scroll bars and icons in boxes to control your computing. These “windows” gave a name to the software. Microsoft Windows was announced in 1983 and version 1.0 launched two years later on 20 November 1985.


Conservatives say that net neutrality equates to government takeover of the Internet – More than 2.4 million people have signed letters calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to stop its proposed “takeover” of the Internet in an effort by conservative activist group American Commitment to reframe the debate about the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules. The group said that it delivered the 2.4 million letters, urging Congress to stop the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding, to lawmakers this week.

Something to think about:

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”

–      Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Video Call Recorder for Skype – Free Video Call Recorder for Skype is an absolutely free application for recording Skype calls without any limitations. It has a very simple interface.

You don’t need to download or install any extra libraries to be able to use the program.

You just need to specify the mode you like, choose the output folder and press “Start”. If you don’t want to record some moments during the conversation, just click on “Pause”. In order to finish the record select “Stop”.

With its help one may record calls in the following modes:

Picture-in-picture (the program records audio and video of all sides of the conversation)

Only video of other sides

Only audio (all sides)

All video records are saved in mp4 format that is easy to playback on a player.

For audio calls the program creates an mp3 file that is supported by most modern players.


Risen3D – Risen3D is an advanced Doom port by Graham Jackson based on Jaakko Keranen’s Doomsday port.


Advanced algorithms provide more accurate rendering in OpenGL.

Full Boom and MBF compatibility.

Super fast rendering of OpenGL graphics.

Slopes and 3D floors.

Md2 models, particle effects and high resolution texture options.

Skybox support.

Translucent water and underwater effects.

Outside fog support for maps that require it.

Model activation capability using the R3D scripting method.

Mobj spawning using the R3D scripting method

Detailed texture support.

Dedicated smart Launcher for easy launching and pwad management.

Uncapped frame rate for smoother game play.

Definition and dehacked editing capabilities.

Basic Doom mode option

Water splashes, ambient sounds, scrolling skies and stealth monsters.

In game texture alignment using the R3D Edit mode.


Yawcam – Yawcam is a shortening for Yet Another WebCAM software, and that’s exactly what it is 😉 More precise Yawcam is a webcam software for windows written in java. The main ideas for Yawcam are to keep it simple and easy to use but to include all the usual features.


Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection


Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Time lapse movies

Run as a Windows service

Multi languages

Yawcam is freeware. However, if you enjoy using Yawcam and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

Limitations: Requires Sun Java Runtime Environment installed.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said during a Tuesday speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online conference. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Holder’s remarks, while he did not mention any particular company by name, come two weeks after Apple announced its new iPhone 6 models would be equipped with data encryption that prevents authorities from accessing the contents of the phone. At the same time, Google said its upcoming Android operating system will also have default encryption.

The encryption decision by two of the world’s biggest names in tech is a bid to gain the trust of customers in the wake of the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations.

Holder said he wants a backdoor to defeat encryption. He urged the tech sector “to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators.”

California bill limits the surveillance of student social media posts – Social media is an established part of life at this point, but how society deals with it is still be worked out. For a long while, it wasn’t uncommon for employers to demand access to accounts, and many have been fired over what they choose to share. Schools often monitor students’ social media accounts, and a new California bill has specifically targeted that.

Majority Say Brennan Violated Checks and Balances, and Must Go – According to a new poll, a sizeable majority of American voters believe CIA officials violated the constitutional system of checks and balances when they hacked into computers being used by Senate staffers investigating torture.

And by a two-to-one margin (54 percent to 25 percent, with 22 percent not sure) they believe that CIA Director John Brennan should resign on account of the misleading statements he made about the incident.

The Public Policy robo-poll of 898 registered voters was commissioned by the Constitution Project, a highly-respected non-partisan group that has been active in calling attention to the lack of accountability for the torture of detainees during the last administration.

The poll found overwhelming public support for release of a long-completed report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The report is said to disclose abuse that was more brutal, systematic and widespread than generally recognized, and to expose a pattern of deceit in the Bush administration’s descriptions of the program to Congress and the public.

But despite having been completed in December 2012, the report remains inaccessible to the public. Most recently, the White House and the CIA have proposed redactions that Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein said effectively undermine its key findings.

Fully 69 percent of those polled said they support releasing a declassified version of the report “to establish the historical record and to find out more about what happened”; compared to 22 percent who chose the option of not making the report public “because the findings might be damaging or embarrassing”.

Perhaps most strikingly, those numbers were nearly identical across party lines — Democratic, Republican and independent.


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

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

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    ‘US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors’
    Eric Holder said: Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk”

    Whenever .gov says it is “FOR THE CHILDREN” you can be sure it is about GRABBING your freedom.

    ‘FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan’
    Verizon was set to start throttling those users on unlimited data who had heavy data usage
    Now I ask you, Bill, if the “respectable” companies of the USA are willing to do that, I mean if you sign up and pay good money for UNLIMITED service one would think it would be UNLIMITED. But Verizon like so many other companies are, well, the words I would use would be unsuitable for family reading LOL
    Well this world is headed in a direction I don’t particularly care for but as you’ve reminded in the past that there comes a time when freedom and liberty reasserts itself, when our fellow man is true to his word and that is my hope.


    • Hi Fred,

      The old “BIG LIE” theory – repetition imparts a certain truth to even the most outrageous lie – has gone down to defeat with the overuse of what is a classic BIG LIE. Despite this, we can expect the manipulative minds behind the push to strip of us of additional freedoms (all in the name of keeping us safe, of course), to continue to educate us in this manner.

      Good to see though, that informed citizens recognize BS when they hear it. Maybe there’s hope for us yet. 🙂

      In recent years, the telecoms have reached a new level of complete disdain for the people who float the boat – you, me and the rest. Protected by legislation (enacted, in many cases, by a political class that is out of it’s technological depth), these companies simply don’t give a shit. Little wonder, that as an industry, they are the leader (year after year), in leading the parade of consumer complaints.

      The past few months have been the most confusing politically (and morally, to some extent), in my lifetime. Despite all the political confusion, the moral ambiguity, a dearth of leadership…, I’m not alone in recognizing that many of us have gained a new political maturity in these confusing and ambiguous times. Being politically stupid is no longer in vogue. That can only be a good thing.

      It’s early days yet – so, keep the faith baby! 🙂

      Have a super weekend.



  2. FormalDaHyde

    Hi Bill,
    One your most recent links was “Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial”. FBI Director Comey’ reference about “child kidnapper” is a ruse and called “argumentum ad misericordiam” in Latin and translates to an fallacious argument that is based on “appeal to pity”. Both of these obfuscation techniques are truly BS; yet, more appropriately, should be labeled “spintology”, that is expertly done by lawyers, politicians and preachers!

    • Hi FDH,

      “Spintology” – I like that. In fact, here in Toronto, we are being exposed to spintology on a daily basis as a result of infamous mayor Rob Ford withdrawing from the current civic elections due to a recent diagnosis of cancer. The “appeal to pity” ploy, is actively being employed by Ford’s brother Doug Ford, who has parachuted in as a replacement candidate. Thankfully, the majority of Torontonians see this spintology for what it is – manipulative, deceitful…

      Nevertheless, in this specific instance, and others, there are sufficient fools who have been taken in by this show of hucksterism to ensure spintology is with us for the long term.