Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 10, 2014

Spot phishing scams and don’t take the bait;  Google Now crushes Siri and Cortana;  Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox;  Better email apps for your iPhone (Android too!);  Create Your Own Polls on Google+;  How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview as a virtual machine;  Why you can’t use all of your RAM;  Malware Hack Dips Into Dairy Queen Customer Data;  Tumblr wants to be the new YouTube ;  Android SMS worm Selfmite is back, more aggressive than ever;  Free: EA’s Dragon Age: Origins is on the house;  Trojan Disguised as Nude Emma Watson Facebook Viral Video;  One In Three U.K. Children Now Owns A Tablet;  Red Bull owes you $10 unless you did, in fact, grow wings;  XYplorer Free Edition;  Honeyview: Ultrafast Image Viewer (free);  Android upgrades simplified: Which manufacturers can you trust?

Spot phishing scams and don’t take the bait – Can you recognize a phishing scam email when you see one? Do you know what signs to look for to identify a phishing attack, and avoid becoming a victim? In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, PhishMe has developed an infographic with helpful tips to keep you safe and secure. PhishMe points out the usual, common-sense things you should do to avoid getting compromised—by either phishing scams or malware exploits.

Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox With AOMEI PE Builder – I am going to start off this blog post with this statement, “If you are someone who is often called upon to troubleshoot a Windows Based PC, then AOMEI PE Builder FREE is the first step in creating your very own bootable tech toolbox.” AOMEI PE Builder FREE will walk you through the process of creating a bootable (and customizable) disk, based on the WindowsPE environment, that will allow you to perform system maintenance, troubleshooting and fast recovery tasks when the computer is corrupted (i.e. by malware) or cannot be used.

Google Now crushes Siri and Cortana in a head to head knowledge challenge – There is nothing sweeter than pulling out your phone, asking it a question, and getting back the one obscure piece of information you need to settle a debate or win a drunken bet. Smartphones from Google, Apple, and Microsoft all offer a personal assistant who claims to be flush with knowledge drawn from around the web. But when it comes to providing useful answers, a new study shows there is a clear choice when you’re stumped and need to phone a friend.

Better email apps for your iPhone – Whether you’re a power user who craves more control over how you organize your email, or you feel overwhelmed by your inbox, there’s an app that can help you. I’ve rounded up five valuable email apps for your iPhone or iPad that can help change the way you deal with your inbox, or just make the process of reading and responding to messages more productive. All of these apps are available for Android as well, though Acompli is still in beta.

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Android upgrades simplified: Which manufacturers can you trust? – In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, Google’s on the brink of launching one of its biggest-ever updates to Android: the thus-far-unnamed Android “L” release. Android “L” will introduce a whole new design language for the platform along with a revamped lock screen and plenty of fresh features. The big question, though, is when the upgrade will reach your device. Based on their performance in the recent past, here’s the lowdown on how the major Android phone-makers tend to treat OS updates.

Weebly Debuts An iPad App For Building And Managing Websites – Weebly has quietly grown to power a large number of publisher and e-commerce sites over the years, and now it’s rolling out a whole new way for users to build experiences on its platform. With the launch of a new iPad app, the company is launching what could be the easiest website creation tool out there.

How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview as a virtual machine – Windows 10 has arrived! Ready to take it for a spin? You have a couple options. If you have an old PC lying around, you could install Windows 10 from a flash drive. But I think the better approach is to run the new OS inside a “sandbox,” a virtual machine that won’t affect your system in any way (except for borrowing some space on the hard drive). Indeed, thanks to free virtualization software, you can run Windows 10 on your current PC — then remove it when you’ve seen enough (or the Technical Preview expires, whichever comes first). The entire process takes about 30 minutes — maybe longer depending on the speed of your PC. Here’s how to make it happen.

Hands On: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter – If you own a Windows Phone, Surface or Windows 8.1 machine that supports Miracast, Microsoft has a new peripheral that allows you to project your screen to another display. The product is being pitched as an easy way to share your screen with another device wirelessly, and it costs $60. The device is quite simple. It comes in a small gray box and has an HDMI connection on one end and a USB port on the other side. The USB is needed to power the peripheral, which means when connecting it to a HDTV, you will need to make sure the TV has a spare USB port.

Create Your Own Polls on Google+ – Google just introduced a handy new feature for Google+ that should help you answer serious questions like which James Bond movie is best, or whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the ultimate basketballer. The next time you need to settle a debate like this, click over to Google+ and create a poll.

Skype gets a new UI, downloads now available for Windows and OS X – Microsoft has released an update for Skype that updates the UI of both the Windows and OS X version and there a couple new features too; the download links are posted after the jump.

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Google launches a much better Hangouts app for your desktop – There’s no need to have a browser window open, but you’ll need Chrome running somewhere in the background to use the new Hangouts Chrome App. “You’ll get all your messages as long as you have the app running, and your chats will sync across Hangouts on all your devices,” says Google. And of course there’s voice calling (and full Google Voice integration) built in. It sounds like a nice improvement for Windows and Chromebook users; hopefully we’ll see something similar on Mac at some point.

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Imgur To Convert Uploaded GIFs Into Videos – Social image sharing site Imgur today announced Project GIFV, an internal initiative to drag the GIF format we all know and love out of the 90s and into the modern, HTML5-powered web. Going forward, the site will convert all images uploaded in GIF format to lightweight MP4 videos.

Back to the Future

MSN.com gets a banner that delivers breaking news in the form of tweets – Following Microsoft’s relaunch of MSN.com, it has now introduced a new breaking news banner with Twitter on its homepage, which shows tweets from trusted sources as major news events are developing. A Microsoft representative told us that the breaking news banner will be used selectively, and will only be put into action when there is a major news event ‘spiking’ in activity on Twitter.

New Lenovo Yoga tablet hides a surprise: A projector for impromptu movie nights – Now here’s a party trick: Stream video from your tablet onto the wall. That’s the fun new feature on Lenovo’s 13-inch Tablet 2 Pro. The company also announced 8-inch and 10-inch Yoga tablets.

Why you can’t use all of your RAM – Your PC has 4GB of RAM, or maybe even 8GB. But Windows doesn’t even use 4GB. Here’s what’s going on.

Security:

Microsoft slates critical Windows, IE fixes for next week – Microsoft today said it will release nine security updates next week, twice the number of last month, with fixes slated for Internet Explorer (IE), Windows, SharePoint Server and Web app developer tools. Three of the nine were rated “critical,” Microsoft’s most serious threat ranking. Five others were tagged “important,” the next step down in the company’s four-level scoring system, while the ninth was labeled “moderate.”

Malware Hack Dips Into Dairy Queen Customer Data – Dairy Queen announced on Thursday that its customer data had been compromised by malware. The ice cream chain said the breach affected 395 of its over 4,500 locations in the United States. The hacked information contained the names and credit card information of past customers. Fewer than 600,000 cards were affected. Dairy Queen has provided a list of targeted locations.

Android SMS worm Selfmite is back, more aggressive than ever – A new version of the worm is causing infected devices to send thousands of spam text messages and has spread to 16 countries

Trojan Disguised as Nude Emma Watson Facebook Viral Video – The leaked video of the 24-year-old actress is actually a harmful Trojan that could be used to seize control of Facebook accounts and steal personal data. Clicking on the link redirects the user to a fake YouTube site. The page then asks you to update Flash Player so you can watch the video. The download, not surprisingly, isn’t legit. Instead, it loads malware that even uses the real Flash Player icon and drops the virus in “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer.” Once the malware is installed,  the attackers can steal personal data, profit from subscribing victims to SMS scams, and access the victims’ Facebook account or saved cookies.

Company News:

Activist Investor Carl Icahn Asks Apple To Speed Up Share Repurchase Program – Apple CEO Tim Cook received another letter from activist investor Carl Icahn today, which marks the second time the shareholder has lobbied Apple to step up its repurchase program. The letter details the request at length, commending Apple on its recent iPhone 6 launch and Cook on his leadership, but asks Apple to “meaningfully accelerate and increase the magnitude of share repurchases,” in light of “the persistently excessive liquidity of $133 billion net cash on Apple’s balance sheet.”

Report: Tumblr wants to be the new YouTube – Yahoo’s Tumblr platform is a subtle social layer populated by quite a bit of original content. Since purchasing it for $1.1 billion, Yahoo has left Tumblr alone, but that could change. According to several sources speaking to Business Insider, Tumblr is being prepped for a big fight with an even bigger social entity full of creative folk. Yahoo is exploring turning Tumblr into a YouTube opponent, and even discussing whether they should poach existing YouTube talent for the new-look Tumblr.

Satya Nadella is in hot water over a comment about women and pay, listen to it here – Earlier today, Satya Nadella was interviewed Grace Hooper Celebration keynote by Maria Klawe but a comment about women and asking for a raise has landed the CEO in some hot water.

Nadella: ‘I answered that question completely wrong’ – Satya Nadella has posted a memo about his comment on stage at the Grace Hopper Conference where he says that when he answered the question about a raise, he was “completely wrong”.

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Amazon looking to open retail store in Manhattan – A lot of talk has been circulating about Google taking a page from the Apple book and creating their own retail space. With so many products in their arsenal, it makes sense to have an actual retail space for fans to try and buy. Their pop-up shops last year were half a step, but it seems Amazon may be going all-in on retail, picking up where Google left off. Sources now say Amazon will have an actual brick-and-mortar store this year.

Symantec Confirms Plans to Split in Two – Following the lead of HP and eBay, computer security firm Symantec on Thursday afternoon confirmed rumors that it plans to split in two. One of the remaining companies will focus on security while the other will focus on information management. In a statement about the move, Symantec said that creating two standalone businesses will allow each company to “maximize its respective growth opportunities and drive greater shareholder value.”

Games and Entertainment:

EA’s Dragon Age: Origins is on the house – This top-rated fantasy RPG normally sells for $20. For a limited time, get it free, no strings attached. To clarify, once you get the game, it’s yours to keep. And play. Forever. The time limitation: The giveaway itself ends Oct. 14. If you’re overseas or off-planet and don’t return until Oct. 15, well, no freebie for you.

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Seriously Launches Its First Game, Best Fiends – About a year ago, a small portion of the Rovio executive team broke away to start their own company. Seriously. No, that’s what it’s called: Seriously. So Seriously launches and decides it wants to run the same general play as Rovio did with Angry Birds, creating an addictive game that can then turn into its own media and merchandise brand. Today, that journey begins with the launch of Seriously’s first game, Best Fiends. The game launches exclusively on iOS right now, asking users to begin a puzzle-based adventure with brand new, yet lovable characters.

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Oculus Rift support unlocked in Alien: Isolation – If there was every a perfect showcase game for the Oculus Rift then Alien: Isolation is it. Even publisher Sega and developer The Creative Assembly agreed and demonstrated Oculus Rift support working in the game back in June at E3. However, the final game has now shipped and Oculus Rift support is not included. But it turns out The Creative Assembly didn’t bother to remove the code, they just disabled it in the final build. So modders in the subreddit /r/Oculus set about unlocking the functionality and it turned out to be a relatively simple task.

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Toys to Life: the cost of collectible figure gaming – The explosive popularity of the so-called Toys to Life category of games cannot be denied. The ability to take a collectible figure, place it on a tray, and see that figure come to life in your game as a playable character is an incredibly compelling experience for younger gamers. Toys to Life games are only going to grow more popular over the next couple of years, especially now that Nintendo has joined the fray not only with their own Amiibo figures, but with a new 3DS that supports this technology in a portable container. In order to make the best decisions here, you should know exactly what your bank account is up against.

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Ryse: Son of Rome (PC) review: Former Xbox One exclusive tests your system and your patience – Crytek brings its Xbox One launch exclusive over to the PC and it’s not great. But you should probably buy it anyway.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

3D printed car takes 2-days to build, 40 mph top speed – You can 3D print just about anything these days from parts for assault rifles to components for just about anything else you can think of. We have talked about a company in the past called Local Motors that has developed cars using 3D printed parts. Local Motors is based in Arizona has built what it claims to be the world’s first fully functional 3D printed electric car. The vehicle is called the Strati and has 49 parts.

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One In Three U.K. Children Now Owns A Tablet – Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp Use Also Rising – Last October research put out by the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, highlighted rising usage of tablets among kids. Unsurprisingly that trend has continued, with Ofcom’s 2014 annual report exploring parents’ and children’s media use finding that tablet ownership by children in the U.K. has now risen as high as one in three.

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Hydrophobic shirt confirmed: hands-on with Threadsmiths first tee – There’s nothing quite like a t-shirt that can’t get wet. The folks at Threadsmiths, an Australian company that’s got their hands on a technology that works surprisingly well: it repels liquid. You can literally pour a glass of water on a Threadsmiths t-shirt and it’ll come splashing off. Drop drips of water on Threadsmiths’ material on a flat surface and that water will bead up. At first it seems like magic – but it’s very real. And really quite awesome, as well.

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NASA releases video preview of Orion’s December test flight – NASA has enlisted the engineering expertise of private industry to begin sending humans into space from the US once again, but that’s only part of NASA’s manned space flight plans. The Orion program is NASA’s version of a next generation launch system for missions to deep space, and it’s going to get its first real world test late this year. NASA has been so kind as to put together a seven minute video detailing Orion’s first mission. It won’t carry and people when it lifts off December 4, but this is a huge step for the Orion program, which was almost scrapped several times.

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Red Bull owes you $10 unless you did, in fact, grow wings – A successful lawsuit filed by Red Bull enthusiast Benjamin Careathers has taken hold this week. Careathers filed a claim with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York back in 2013, suggesting that Red Bull does not actually give you energy in any way different from a common cup of coffee. Because of this, Red Bull has been accused of false advertising. Because of this, Red Bull has settled for $13 million dollars – of which you may be entitled to $10 USD.

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Something to think about:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

–      Maya Angelou

Today’s Free Downloads:

XYplorer Free Edition – XYplorer is a tabbed file manager for Windows. It features a powerful file search, a versatile preview, a highly customizable interface, optional dual pane, and a large array of unique ways to efficiently automate frequently recurring tasks. It’s fast and light, it’s innovative, and it’s portable.

Features:

Tabbed Browsing

Dual Pane

6 key navigation

Dual Breadcrumb Bars

Mini Tree

Queued File Operations

Zip Support

Batch rename

Duplicate File Finder

One-click Previews

Folder View Settings

Much more

XYplorerFree, the XYplorer Free Edition, is a free feature-limited version of XYplorer.

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Honeyview: Ultrafast Image Viewer – Honeyview is a very fast image viewer supporting various formats.

It also supports viewing the images in compressed ZIP, RAR, or 7z files without extraction.

If an image has GPS information, the location can be viewed on Google Maps, and users can store preferred photos.

Features:

Ultrafast rendering with optimized image processing.

Support for BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, PSD, DDS, JXR, WebP, J2K, JP2, TGA, TIFF, PCX, PNM, and PPM formats.

Support for RAW image formats including DNG, CR2, CRW, NEF, NRW, ORF, RW2, PEF, SR2, and RAF.

Support for direct view from compressed file formats including ZIP, RAR, 7Z, LZH, TAR, ALZ, and EGG.

Various display options including Fill and Parallel View modes.

‘Photo folder’ function in which to store any preferred pictures.

Direct location view on Google Maps with GPS information included in photos.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: Even the Secrets We Tell You Are Too Secret For You To Know About – It’s an assertion that defies common sense but speaks volumes about how the U.S. intelligence complex dodges accountability: The National Security Agency is arguing that even the secrets it has intentionally disclosed to reporters are still so secret that disclosing their disclosure threatens national security.

Smartphones ‘remotely wiped’ in police custody, as encryption vs. law enforcement heats up – British police are warning that smartphones in custody for forensics and ongoing investigations are being remotely wiped, potentially killing vital evidence.

Panel says NSA surveillance is a threat to the Internet’s survival – Imagine a future where a single unified Internet no longer exists, instead being replaced by locked down local versions that exist, primarily, to keep prying eyes away from data that is private. Such is one possibility posed by current government Internet surveillance, largely resting on the NSA’s shoulders, according to a panel that recently gathered to discuss the issue. Senator Ron Wyden set up the discussion panel, and many big-name individuals from within the tech industry took part, including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith. The topic is a serious one, and dire warnings were given.

Court Spotlights the FBI’s Super-Secret National Security Letters – Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret? – That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. The telecom company and internet provider that have challenged the National Security Letters (known as NSLs) still can’t even be named.

Last year, in a sharp rebuke to the government, a judge found that the gag order that comes with NSLs violated the First Amendment. The nondisclosure rule “significantly infringe[s] on speech regarding controversial government powers,” U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, of Northern California, wrote in March 2013. She also ordered that the FBI stop sending out NSLs entirely, but put the order on hold to give the government a chance to appeal.

The government, predictably, did appeal, and in arguments yesterday before the 9th Circuit, a Justice Department lawyer said that they would lose “an extremely useful tool” if the court upholds the ban on NSLs. (Documents related to the case can be found here.)

Police Act Furious About Encrypted Phones But Still Love Them. Here’s Why – Critics including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey, and Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier are claiming that these new security features will help kidnappers, sexual predators, and terrorists, and will endanger countless lives, all because police will have a harder time cracking into phones. Or as the Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives put it in an interview with The Washington Post, strong encryption means “Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile.”

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4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 10, 2014

  1. Hello Bill,
    For Cyber Security Month, I’d like to share the following 2 videos:
    Keeping Grandma Safe

    Explaining Phishing to Grandma