Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 6, 2014

6 apps with Windows 10 features;  10 things to know about Ello, the ad-free social network;  Fixes for 5 Common Smartphone Photo Mistakes;  Keep your personal stuff private when lending your phone to a friend;  Snap by Groupon Pays You to Shop;  SureMote Turns Your Android Phone Into A Remote For Any Wi-Fi Connected Device At Home;  4 fast note-taking tips for Android and iPhone;  These are Windows 10’s new keyboard shortcuts;  JPMorgan Chase bank hack: It gets worse;  Apple will face $350M trial over iPod DRM;  Google building WhatsApp competitor for India;  Inferno 2 Blasts Into App Store With Awesome Arcade-Style Gameplay;  The geekiest tech jokes on the internet;  Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs;  Macrium Reflect FREE Edition.

Feds only have themselves to blame for Apple and Google’s smartphone encryption efforts – The U.S. government is crying foul over Apple and Google’s efforts to bolster smartphone encryption. Because accusations that they’re going “beyond the law” goes both ways.

How to keep your personal stuff private when lending your phone to a friend – It’s easy to keep your data private on an Android phone when it’s always in your hand. Just use a strong password, encrypt your device, and no one’s getting your stuff. What about when you actually want a friend or acquaintance to see something on your phone? You could be handing them them all your private data. So should you hover over their shoulder, waiting to snatch the phone away? Nah, that’s rude. You can use a few apps and file system tricks to make sure your private stuff stays private.

Fixes for 5 Common Smartphone Photo Mistakes – Most of the time, today’s smartphones do a great job of capturing everyday moments in their default full automatic modes. However, there are times when adjusting your phone’s camera settings can make a huge difference. Check out these simple fixes to five of the most common photo mistakes and start taking better pictures.

Microsoft takes the hassle out of Office 365 email encryption – When Microsoft announced message encryption for Office 365 in November, it came with a potentially annoying requirement: People receiving the encrypted messages had to be logged into a Microsoft account to view them. Now, recipients who don’t have a Microsoft account—or who have one but aren’t logged into it—can view their encrypted message using a one-time passcode that Microsoft will send to them via email. They’ll then have 15 minutes to use the passcode to view their encrypted message.

10 things to know about Ello, the ad-free social network – By now, you’ve probably heard of Ello, the invite-only social network garnering attention for its radical approach to social networking. Find out why the site is seeing 35,000 hourly sign-ups, and why people are so willing to join yet another social network.

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BBC iPlayer now lets you catch up on 30 days of TV and radio shows – To millions of viewers, listeners and users across the United Kingdom, BBC iPlayer is indispensable. The service allows people to watch and listen to BBC TV channels and radio stations, both live and on-demand, and for many years has allowed them to catch up on programmes that they may have missed for up to seven days after broadcast. But BBC iPlayer has now become even better, as the Beeb has announced that it has extended the seven-day catch-up window to 30 days.

Snap by Groupon Pays You to Shop – Looking to make a little extra cash before the holiday shopping season? The new Snap by Groupon app pays you for purchasing featured grocery items each week. Available in the U.S. and Canada, Android and iPhone users can download the app and start shopping—just remember to save your receipts.

6 apps with Windows 10 features – Microsoft has just announced Windows 10 for 2015, which will work across PCs, tablets, and phones. If you’re in the Windows Insider program, you can try a preview build now, but you’ll be installing software that’s still being tested. Instead, here’s how to get Windows 10 functionality right on your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 PC.

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SureMote Turns Your Android Phone Into A Remote For Any Wi-Fi Connected Device At Home – The new version of the app uses the infrared blaster on newer Android devices to pick up all kinds of Wifi-connected hardware from smart TVs to Blu-ray players. That way you can use a single phone for multiple home devices; in fact, they have thousands of devices in their library that they’ve catalogued.

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These are Windows 10’s new keyboard shortcuts – The Windows 10 Technical Preview adds all sorts of nifty new features designed to appeal to PC power users, but it also includes some nifty newcomers that you can’t actually see—fresh keyboard shortcuts! The details come courtesy of Brandon LeBlanc of Microsoft’s Blogging Windows blog. If you install the Windows Tech Preview this weekend be sure to check these out.

64-bit Firefox poised to launch in the near future – Mozilla seems to have finally decided that a 64-bit version of its popular Firefox browser is a worthy project to focus on. Unfortunately the first such version is only expected to launch next year.

4 fast note-taking tips for Android and iPhone – You’re dashing off to that big meeting in the city when suddenly, it hits you: that big idea you’ve always been waiting for. And then—going, going, gone. The key, of course, is jotting down those brilliant thoughts before they disappear in a puff of neural smoke. Here are some speedy ways to record strokes of genius on your iPhone or Android phone—and ideally, without having to unlock your handset.

Teen spends over $46,000 on free-to-play mobile game – It’s no secret that free-to-play games don’t really denote that zero-sum price tag. Generally, a free-to-play game means you can download and load the game for free, but essential gameplay elements are locked away behind a tedious, terrible grind that you can alleviate by ponying up a bit of cash. This time around, a 15-year-old from Antwerp, Belgium, had access to his grandfather’s credit card. His mom gave him the card info when she asked for help purchasing and installing eBooks onto her tablet. The teen linked the credit card info to his own iTunes account, and began using the card to purchase in-game gold in Game of War: Fire Age, a Clash of Clans-alike. The charging took place for a few months, and the teen ultimately spent around 37,000 euros, which translates to roughly $46,300.

Microsoft’s RoomAlive concept brings dead space to life – Microsoft Research has churned out some interesting concepts in recent years that use projection and motion sensing technology to turn dead space into something of interest.  Now there’s a new projection-based demo that Microsoft Research is showing off:  Titled RoomAlive, the project uses projectors to throw elements onto surfaces around a user and a Microsoft Kinect to track that user’s reaction in the same space. The RoomAlive prototype is basically augmented reality without wearable devices, such as Google Glass, and strives to be easy for users to setup and easy to interact with.

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Security:

JPMorgan Chase bank hack: It gets worse – The JPMorgan breach is being called the worst known compromise in history. ZDNet has learned that the damage is likely much worse than previously thought.

Security researchers release ‘unpatchable’ tools that make USB drives malicious – In a gambit aimed at driving manufacturers to beef up protections for USB flash drive firmware, two security researchers have released a collection of tools that can be used to turn those drives into silent malware installers. The code release by researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson comes two months after researchers from Berlin-based Security Research Labs (SRLabs) demonstrated an attack dubbed BadUSB at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Reddit-powered botnet infected thousands of Macs worldwide – The Russian antivirus vendor Dr. Web has reported the spread of a new botnet that exclusively targets Apple computers running Mac OS X. According to a survey of traffic conducted by researchers at Dr. Web, over 17,000 Macs worldwide are part of the Mac.BackDoor.iWorm botnet—and almost a quarter of them are in the US. One of the most curious aspects of the botnet is that it uses a search of Reddit posts to a Minecraft server list subreddit to retrieve IP addresses for its command and control (CnC) network. That subreddit now appears to have been expunged of CnC data, and the account that posted the data appears to be shut down.

Marriott to pay $600,000 fine, stop blocking guests’ WiFi – Marriott International, a large chain of hotels and resorts, was recently cited in an FCC investigation stemming from several complaints that they improperly (and illegally) restricted access to WiFi and mobile hotspots — and at the same time, charged guests as much as $1,000 per device to access the hotel’s WiFi network. But news of a settlement has been unveiled in a press release by the FCC, confirming that Marriott has agreed to cease their unlawful use of “WiFi-blocking technology,” as well as pay a $600,000 civil penalty to resolve the investigation.

Company News:

Report: HP plans to split into two companies – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that HP will break up into two separate companies. According to the report, the company appears ready to split into separate “Consumer” and “Enterprise” companies, with PCs and printers ending up in one company and corporate hardware and services operations going to the other. The Journal says HP plans to announce the move “as early as Monday.”

Yahoo set to invest in Snapchat with a $10 billion valuation – Yahoo is reportedly closing a deal to invest in instant messaging service Snapchat, in a move that will net Snapchat millions of dollars and which values the company at $10 billion.

Redbox To Kill Off Its Streaming Service Next Week – Well, that didn’t last long. 18 months after opening its doors to the public, Redbox Instant (the online streaming arm of those Redbox kiosks you see in grocery stores around the country) is shutting down. The service will officially hit the lights and kill the servers on October 7th.

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Apple will face $350M trial over iPod DRM – Apple will soon have to face a trial over accusations it used digital rights management, or DRM, to unlawfully maintain a lead in the iPod market, a federal judge has ruled. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, representing a class of consumers who bought iPods between 2006 and 2009, are asking for $350 million.

Lawsuit reveals Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion a year for Android patents – Microsoft sued Samsung in August, alleging that the Korean firm had failed to make payments that were contractually owed. At the time, the documents were sealed, obscuring the value of the payments. Today, those documents were unsealed, revealing the full scale of the suit.

Microsoft earns about $3.21 from each Samsung Android device sold – The court case between Microsoft and Samsung has provided the world with new information about the royalties that Microsoft charges Android vendors. While we know that Microsoft has been going after nearly anyone who makes a device that is powered by Google’s mobile OS, how much Microsoft was making per unit sold has always been somewhat of a mystery. But, thanks to new information from the court case, we know that Samsung had to pay Microsoft over $1 billion in payments for 2013.

Instagram cuts off social startup Tiiny from ‘find friends’ API access – Tiiny, the new social media app from Digg-founder Kevin Rose, has just lost access to Instagram’s social graph, meaning users on the former can no longer easily find and connect with their friends from the later. The simplest, and most logical, reason for this is that Instagram views Tiiny as a possible growing threat to its dominance, and doesn’t want to give it a free leg up in the ever-competing social network market.

Games and Entertainment:

Windows 10 will woo gamers with supercharged DirectX 12 graphics API – Windows 10’s blatant bid to woo back PC power users already looks pretty damned appealing, despite being in a very early state. But Microsoft’s still holding a trump card up its sleeve that’s virtually guaranteed to make PC gamers sit up and notice its next-gen operating system. As expected, Microsoft has announced that the final version of its supercharged DirectX 12 graphics API will ship with Windows 10 in 2015.

Fruit Ninja overhauled with big update – Calling it “the biggest update ever”, Halfbrick has more or less overhauled the game with new features, design changes, and improvements. With the update, which is available now from your respective app store, comes changes to the power behind your ninja skills. Essentially, gamers will now have new effects with dojos and blades that expand the kind of moves you can pull off — says Halfbrick, “experiment”.

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Inferno 2 Blasts Into App Store With Awesome Arcade-Style Gameplay – Inferno 2 is basically a slightly more polished extension of Inferno+. It’s like an 80-level expansion pack, but it’s expanding on something that was already awesome. It’s easier to swap between weapons in this title, and the weapons themselves are a bit different. There’s no story or background to worry about—Inferno 2 is just about shooting anything and everything you come across. It is very nearly the perfect mobile shooter.

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Intel Caves to GamerGate Pressure, Pulls Ads – Caving to the pressures of the Internet, Intel has pulled its ads from the Gamasutra website amidst an ongoing controversy known as Gamergate. The chip maker confirmed to PCMag that it pulled the ads. In a later blog post, the company said it had not intended to create “a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bill and Melinda Gates top Forbes list as most philanthropic Americans – The co-founder of Microsoft and his wife donated $2.65 billion last year in an effort to combat deadly diseases around the world.

Incredible ‘cloud waves’ could be first new cloud type in 60 years – The International Cloud Atlas is exactly what it sounds like –  a visual guide to the world’s many and varied cloud formations. The last time it received a major new addition that did not star Tom Hanks was in 1951, with the introduction of cirrus intortus, but after all that time a new challenger has appeared: undulatus asperatus (or just asperatus). The name literally means “agitated waves,” and as that phrase implies, this cloud formation is terrifying and visually spectacular.

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The geekiest tech jokes on the internet – Everyone likes a laugh at a corny joke, right? Here are some of the funniest, geekiest tech and computer jokes we could find. And if we’re missing any, send us yours.

Alabama Sheriff says ComputerCOP keylogger could have stopped Columbine – In an article published by a local news outlet, County Sheriff Mike Blakely of Limestone, Alabama called the EFF an “ultra-liberal organization that is not in any way credible on this. They’re more interested in protecting predators and pedophiles than in protecting our children.” He added, “There are some parents out in Columbine Colorado, if they had this kind of software, things would have turned out differently.” Blakely also told the news outlet, “We have had the key logger checked out with our IT people. They have run it on our computer system… There is no malware.”

4.4 Billion Worldwide Lack Net Access – Approximately 4.4 billion people around the world still have absolutely no access to the Internet, according to a new study from McKinsey & Company. India alone is home to about a quarter of the world’s population with no Internet access, according to McKinsey’s latest research, which was reported by The Washington Post. A total of 736 million people have no Internet access in China, while Indonesia has 210 million such Net-less citizens and Bangladesh has 146 million. In the United States, roughly 50 million people have no access to the Internet, according to the study. That figure, roughly 16 percent of the total population of the U.S., is pretty close to other studies that have indicated that around 20 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet. Interestingly, as the Post reported in a separate article, a good number of Americans who don’t use the Internet do so by choice—they simply have no interest in being online.

Something to think about:

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

–      Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Backup & Restore Features

File Backup

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs – I had an opportunity to attend a presentation by a retired technical director at the NSA, William Binney, which provided context for some of the published documents released by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Because of the public value of Binney’s expertise on the subject, I decided to publish his presentation and comments on my website.

Binney also mentions how the current NSA mass surveillance regime differs from aspects of an earlier less expensive program, called THINTHREAD, which both he and the former NSA senior computer scientist, Edward Loomis, invented.

As Tim Shorrock has already reported, the back-end of THINTHREAD was used by the NSA in a later program called STELLARWIND (thereby forgoing front end privacy protections both Binney and Loomis built into their earlier, less expensive system). NSA then “illegally directed” STELLARWIND en masse sans privacy protections on Americans and the rest of the world.

The presentation began with a cursory display of the first three slides. Binney then explores the remaining slides in greater depth.

The presentation contains Binney’s own slides and published documents released to journalists by Snowden.

The presentation begins below:

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‘Cops and public bodies BUNGLE snooping powers by spying on 3,000 law-abiding Brits’ – Thousands of innocent Brits have reportedly been mistakenly snooped on by UK police and public bodies.

That claim, which involved nearly 3,000 citizens, was made in a Times report (£) on Saturday.

It was alleged that “Authorities routinely use sweeping legal powers to collect phone and internet records secretly”. And there are concerns that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) was being abused.

According to the report, the records of nearly 3,000 law-abiding Brits were wrongly snatched and scrutinised by fuzz and civil servants during a three-year period.

The Times added that in 11 cases, spying cockups apparently led to folk – among other things – being blamed for crimes they did not commit or collared in error.

In the first half of 2014, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office recently said (PDF) that there had been 195 applicant errors, of which 78 per cent of instances involved public officials “submitting the wrong communications address.”

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 6, 2014

  1. Gary Klingaman

    Bill: On 2/12/2013 you answered my question “What’s on my PC?”. Based on the recent AV-Test July/Aug 2014 — http://www.Av-Test.org, it appears our AVG free anti virus didn’t test well. Have you or are you comtemplating changing your AVG free program? By the way, I appreciate your remarks under some of the articles on your Weblog. Thanks for a reply, Gary