Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 13, 2014

My favorite Windows desktop utilities;  UK to draft revenge porn law;  New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor;  Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures);  How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings;  Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots;  Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips;  Kmart latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked;  100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked;  Fable Legends beta goes live October 16;  Tech Stocks Show Weakness;  The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch;  Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter;  FotoSketcher (free);  Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow travellers in the  Great White North.

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My favorite Windows desktop utilities – Who says the Windows desktop is dead? These are the six essential utilities Ed Bott installs on every new Windows PC, and they work with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or even the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

UK to draft revenge porn law – People who post explicit images of former partners online could soon face prison time as ministers from the UK are working on a law to counter the increasing threat of “revenge porn.” In the UK alone, there have been 149 registered cases of revenge porn which also include offenders as young as 11 years of age. However, there has been no law to treat these offenses. The government has now shown concern, and with the help of a few ministers, will be drafting a law to send offenders to a maximum prison sentence of two years.

A Marketing Firm Could Be Looking at Your Selfies – That picture you posted on Instagram from the beach last week might have more useful data in it than you think. Where are you? What do you have in your hand? Do you look happy or sad? What are you wearing? These are all questions that can help advertisers target their marketing to consumers, so a crop of new digital marketing companies has begun analyzing photos posted on Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to look for these trends and insights.

Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures) – Smartphones are often the only camera most people have with them — and most of these smartphones will give you good results. See for yourself.

New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor When Symptom-Searching – The trial is currently free for users, so feel free to chat up a doctor if Google gives you the option to do so when you’re searching about your symptoms.

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Phablet vs. mini-tablet: The big choice between two smallish devices – As phones grow and tablets shrink, they’re merging in form, but not always in function. We size up the key specs and differences you should care about.

Get Google Now reminders for multiple calendars – Want to get reminders for events that aren’t on your primary Google calendar? Check out these tips for troubleshooting which events appear in Google Now on Android.

How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings – A large part of Hyperlapse’s charm is its simplicity that lets you create a time-lapse video with a few taps of your finger. Should you want more control of your output, the app has a hidden Labs feature where you can adjust a number of settings, including resolution, frame rate, and various sound levels.

Need help with Windows 10? There’s a forum for that – With Windows 10 technical preview now out, we know that many of you have questions that are specific to your install and to help answer these questions, we have a forum available.

Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots – A new photo-sharing app uses a common optical illusion to make your sent snaps a lot harder for the receiver to screenshot.

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Google: One in ten ‘Right to be forgotten’ requests originate from the UK – Google has released figures in which show that one in ten requests to be removed from search results under the European “right to be forgotten” laws have originated from the UK. Google claims they have evaluated 498,737 links for removal since May of this year, including 63,616 pages originating from requests by UK citizens. In total, 18,403 requests were submitted which is the third highest in the EU; Google honoured just 35% of those requests, resulting in the removal of 18,459 links.

It might be time to kiss the iPod goodbye – Apple’s latest event is happening next week, and we’re all fairly certain what we’re getting. New iPads are likely on the horizon, and we’re expecting something in the way of Mac and iMac to come as well. Though we’re not expecting apple to unleash that massive iPad Pro we’ve been hearing about just yet, there’s good reason to think another of their products is falling by the wayside yet again. If we’re being totally honest, there might be good reason for it to slip quietly away, too.

What the SketchFactor app can tell us about the ethics of data use and crowdsourcing – The SketchFactor app identifies neighborhoods’ “sketchiness” through publicly available data, as well as user updates that other users can vote on. The crowdsourcing aspect has led to controversy.

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A screenshot of the SketchFactor app.

Security:

Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google – According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

Kmart is the latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked – Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and PF Changs have all had their payment systems hacked in recent months — now you can add Kmart to that list. According to a recent SEC filing and confirmed in a statement from the company, the Sears-owned department store chain discovered on October 9th that its “payment data systems had been breached” by hackers, and the company believes that “certain debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.” Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet how extensive this attack was, but the company does note that it believes it was vulnerable from early September through yesterday, when it removed the malware responsible for the attack.

Fallout from the JPMorgan Chase breach – Most articles about the 76 million or so names and addresses that were stolen from JP Morgan Chase bank focus on the danger of phishing emails. But email is not the only way bad guys can abuse stolen data. They may also try to scam victims on the telephone. I ran across a couple articles on the Chase breach that mentioned telephone abuse, but each omitted an important point – you can’t trust caller ID.

100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked, but Snapchat isn’t to blame – A third-party web app for Snapchat saved snapped photos to its server, allowing hackers to get at them.

Blackphone is working on a secure tablet – The world has turned its attention towards the issue of privacy in the digital age, particularly one where the government is known to spy on data through all sorts of insidious and legally dubious means. That reality has prompted many different products tailored towards keeping private data away from prying eyes: encrypted messaging platforms, locked down email services, and, of course, the Blackphone. The folks behind the latter device have revealed to CNBC that a tablet is now in the works.

Company News:

Tech Stocks Show Weakness Amid Uncertain Global Economy – The carnage was widespread, with giants taking a stumble — Microsoft, -3.97%; Google, 2.92%; Facebook, -3.95%; LinkedIn, -3.84%; Yahoo, -3.65%; and Alibaba, -3.28% — and newcomers joining in the general mayhem. MobileIron fell 6.92%. ZenDesk was off 8.06%. GoPro dropped 4.63%, Twitter fell 8.84%, And Arista Networks shed 8.96%. (Data: Google Finance.) If you were holding tech stocks on Friday morning, and didn’t sell, you were far less wealthy by the end of the day. As BusinessInsider noted earlier today, the NASDAQ lost over 4% last week, a sharp contraction.

A thousand Foxconn employees walk out in protest – It seems Foxconn is once again in the public’s eye thanks to the way they treat their workers. Employees are protesting for higher wages and better conditions at one of the company’s plants.

Google releases “Right to be Forgotten” transparency report – When Google was made to start accepting and acknowledging URL takedown requests in Europe — the famed “Right to be Forgotten” issue — they were almost immediately inundated with more than they could handle. In the first day alone, Google received over 12,000 requests from netizens, and it doesn’t look to have slowed down much. Yesterday, Google released info about those takedown requests, and the metrics are staggering. In the short time it’s been available, Google has seen over half a million takedown submissions.

Former Infosys recruiter says he was told not to hire U.S. workers – The case, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, is from four IT workers around the country who are suing the company for “ongoing national origin and race discrimination.” An amended complaint was posted online by one of the attorneys representing the workers, and filed with the court last week. It includes an account by Samuel Marrero, who worked as a recruiter in Infosys’s talent acquisition unit from 2011 until May 2013. In weekly conference calls held by company officials, the lawsuit says, recruiters were encouraged to focus their efforts on Indian candidates and “stick to the talent we’re used to.”

Uber gets an F from the Better Business Bureau – Customers call in a slew of complaints about the ride-sharing service — ranging from allegedly being overcharged by hundreds of dollars to having troubles with customer service.

Games and Entertainment:

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is all about the journey, and the journey here is spectacular both visually and narratively. This game is something special.

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Fable Legends beta goes live October 16, apply for access – Lionhead Studios just updated its main webpage with the announcement of a multiplayer beta for the upcoming Fable Legends video game. Scheduled to go live on October 16, 2014, Lionhead is now accepting applications for gamers to take part in a multiplayer beta prior to the final game launch. As far as we know, Fable Legends is tailored to be a 4v1 multiplayer game based in the fictional world of Albion. Unlike previous Fable titles, Fable Legends looks to take a Titanfall approach by tailoring the majority of the game to a multiplayer experience instead of the solo story focus that the franchise is known for.

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The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch – Used to be, there was pretty much one way to interact with a video game: You sat down and played it. Maybe you spent a while watching an older friend or sibling play, but gaming was never what you’d call a “spectator sport.” That’s all changed in the last couple of years, with the advent of YouTube gaming celebrities and the booming popularity of online streaming service Twitch. Firing up a stream and watching someone else play a thousand miles away is now a perfectly legitimate way to enjoy a game. Best of all, anyone is free to participate on either side of the stream—and if you want to be the one gaming in front of a live audience, you can start doing it today, for free. Here’s how.

Never Ending Tower for iOS: A Tetris-Jenga Hybrid – Not every game on your iPhone or iPad needs to have console-quality 3D graphics rendered at a zillion frames per second. Sometimes a simple physics-based arcade game is a better use of your downtime. Never Ending Tower is a new title for iPhone and iPad that encourages you to build a tower as tall as possible without losing a brick. It’s half Tetris and half Jenga.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Select seven to hold ‘Internet reboot’ keys – Seven people across the world will hold a keycard, which, when put together will reboot the key part of the World Wide Web. It sounds like something out of a spy thriller movie or an episode of South Park, but this safeguarding measure is to ensure the Internet can be restarted in the event of natural or man-made disaster.

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Flight attendants take FAA to court to reinstate ban on electronics use – Remember how pleased frequent travelers were late last year when the Federal Aviation Administration finally started allowing airline passengers to use their personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing? Well, it turns out there’s one group of people who aren’t very happy with the change, and are now trying to get the ban on smartphones and tablets put back in place. Flight attendants have taken the FAA to the U.S. Court of Appeals with their main concern being the issue of safety.

Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter in the only way it knows – Not since James Cameron’s 2009’s masterpiece Avatar has there been such a struggle over the use of resources, and machine versus animal. That is one way you could describe this 39-second clip of a hawk defending its turf against a quadcopter drone flown by a puny earthbound human. Luckily a camera captured the whole thing, so we know who the real aggressor was.

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Slow credit card verification lands Florida man in jail – Last week a man was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, FL when his two credit cards were declined after he spent $600 on bottle service at a nightclub. The story wouldn’t be all that interesting were it not for the fact that the man, Don Marcani, had not reached his credit limit that night. In fact, he was able to pay his $1,000 bail the next morning using one of the credit cards that was declined earlier.

Enough with the non-existent wearables already – What’s wrong with wearables? Not enough of them are real products, and many may never be. And if there’s one thing a new market doesn’t need, it’s vaporware.

Obama: I want the FCC to ban paid Internet fast lanes: President is “unequivocally committed to net neutrality.” – President Barack Obama yesterday said he is still “unequivocally committed to net neutrality” and that he wants the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules that prevent Internet service providers from creating paid fast lanes. Obama pointed out that the FCC is “an independent agency” but said he wants the commission to prevent paid prioritization.

Barcelona Comedy Club Has Patrons Paying Per Laugh – This one sounds like a joke in itself—and we half suspect it is—but here goes. According to reports from the BBC, among other sources, a comedy club in Barcelona has switched over to a new, somewhat ingenious scheme for charging patrons for the funnies. Literally, they’re doing just that. Facial recognition software built into tablet computers attached to the back of each chair at Barcelona’s Teatreneu club notes when a person has been laughing during the show. Each laugh costs a total of 0.3 euros (roughly 38 cents), and patrons can be billed up to 24 euros in total (around $30) for their evening.

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Something to think about:

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

–     Hubert H. Humphrey

Today’s Free Downloads:

Manager Desktop Edition – Manager is free accounting software for small business. Windows, Mac and Linux.

Features:

Money In: Every time you receive money, it should be recorded in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you put money into bank account, cash register or into your own pocket. Every time you receive money

Money Out: Every time you spend money, it will appear in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you take money from your bank account or from your own pocket. Every time you spend money

Sales Invoices: This module contains all invoices that you have issued to your customers and other debtors. It provides useful reports such as Aged receivables which will assist you analyze your debtors further

Purchase Invoices: This module will show all the bills that you have received from your suppliers and other creditors. It provides useful reports such as Aged payables which will assist you analyze your creditors further

Contact Directory: Do you need to view history or contact details on person or organisation you’ve been dealing with? Then Contact Directory is the module that will provide you with all information you require

Chart of Accounts: This module shows all accounts that are used in your accounting system. Accounts are being created automatically so if you are not familiar with Chart of accounts, you don’t need to worry about this module

Journal Entries: Usually only skilled accountants and bookkeepers are using this module to set opening balances or adjust account balances on financial statements. If you are not familiar with journal entries, you don’t need them

Reports: Many reports available such as Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, Tax Summary, General Ledger Summary, Aged Receivables, Aged Payables and more depending on your country and other settings

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FotoSketcher – FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.

Thanks to FotoSketcher you can create stunning images to make original gifts for your friends or relatives. Create birthday cards, season’s greetings stationary or simply print your work of art and hang it on the wall.

Different styles are available: pencil sketch, pen and ink drawing, various painting renderings. You can also improve your original photo with simple tools (enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation etc…).

FotoSketcher is completely free and does not contain any adware, spyware or virus. It runs on any version of Microsoft Windows (sorry, no Mac version available).

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CORE SECRETS: NSA SABOTEURS IN CHINA AND GERMANY – The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms.

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Snowden Attacks “Anything Goes” Privacy Intrusions Of British Spy Agencies – In what amounts to a wake up call directed at a British public generally considered apathetic on privacy issues, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that U.K. spy agencies are using digital technology to conduct mass population surveillance without any checks and balances at all — overreaching and encroaching on privacy rights in a way that he characterized as even worse than the U.S. National Security Agency’s inroads into citizens’ rights.

Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald – “Mass surveillance suppresses our own freedom in all sorts of ways, rendering off-limits choices without our knowing it’s even happened.”

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Former NSA director had thousands personally invested in obscure tech firms – New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: “Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist.”

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at “greater risk” from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

NSA refuses to reveal what it has leaked – A lot of information has been leaked about the government and its various agencies, not the least of which being the NSA. Of course, not all leaks are unauthorized — the government itself will leak its own information at times, the reasons for which are varied and, despite requests otherwise, still secret. A recent Freedom of Information Act request for information about what leaks the government has made was denied due to claims of posing a potential threat to national security.

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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 13, 2014

  1. Fred

    Bill, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
    I know with the world and our respective countries in the state they are we may, at times, forget how much there is in our lives to be grateful for and this, to me, is an important factor in Thanksgiving.
    I wish you the best,
    Fred

    • Thank you Fred. I appreciate that. 🙂

      Totally agree – it’s so neat to hear people talk about the truly important things in their lives at Thanksgiving (and Christmas). Not surprisingly, material possessions rarely get a mention.

      Best,

      Bill