Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 15, 2014

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’;  3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will;  Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device (free);  Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results;  The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week;  An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary;  iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life;  Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’;  Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose;  How to change your Dropbox password;  Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault;  Kingo Android Root (free);  Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review;  EssentialPIM (free);  Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance.

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’ – Snapchat tells its more than 100 million users that some third-party apps pose a threat. But the photo-sharing service doesn’t address why outsiders were able to connect to Snapchat in the first place.

3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will – Two-factor authentication helps you protect your online identity even when the companies you do business with are breached or leak your data.

Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device – You have sensitive data on your Android device and you want to keep it from prying eyes. There are plenty of ways to achieve this. One of my new favorite methods is with the Andrognito tool. This free piece of software, found in the Google Play Store, allows you to hide and unhide just about anything on your device. What is nice about this software is that, once hidden, not even you can view it. For all intents and purposes, those hidden files cannot be viewed. One they’re unhidden, it’s as if they never disappeared.

Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results – Despite a recent directive for search firms to better distinguish between paid and natural results, the top three engines appear to have done little to comply. In June 2013, the Federal Trade Commission penned letters to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, among others, urging them to make sure users can easily identify advertisements. But a new report from Harvard researcher Ben Edelman takes issue with how Google has complied. “While FTC guidelines call for ‘clear’ and ‘prominent’ visual cues to separate advertisements from algorithmic results, Google has moved in the opposite direction,” Edelman said.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week: From budgeting to travel – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone and Android that stand out and are worth a try.

17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint – This collection of tips is all about the vagaries of the powerful PowerPoint software itself. It’s meant for those with a grasp of the basics and beyond who are looking for that extra little goose to get the most out of the program. We hope with these tricks—some of which will, inevitably, have some advice for better presentations and slideshows—help make your next speaking engagement even more persuasive. Note, these tips are specific to PowerPoint 2013, the latest version.

Windows 10: A new preview build will be out ‘soon’ – Microsoft has announced that over 1 million users are now testing Windows 10 but one aspect that has been overlooked is that a new preview build will be released soon.

Windows 10 Preview stats: Two-thirds of testers live dangerously – Who needs a safety net? A big majority of Windows 10 Technical Preview testers scoff at the safety provided by virtual machines. Here’s how to take the proper precautions before dumping the Preview on your hard drive.

Skype Qik aims to take over mobile video messaging – Skype Qik couldn’t be more simple if it tried. You install the app, use your mobile number to sign up, and then you’re messaging with friends as if you’re texting, but it’s all video. There’s no chat, no audio, or anything else, just pure video messages. To make things even easier, if your friend doesn’t have the app you can still send them a Skype Qik message and they’ll receive an SMS with instructions on how to download Skype Qik. Any video messages will be waiting for them.

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An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary – Founders Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng say one-on-one conversations are easy for the deaf. Either they are speaking with someone who can sign or they can just read lips. However, it’s very hard to follow group conversations with several people speaking at once. This makes it hard to catch things and converse during group meals with friends who don’t sign or at an office meeting where they might miss something important. This app is personal for two of the three founders. Cheng has been deaf since he was two and Duchemin is a coda, meaning he grew up with deaf family members.

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The iPhone 6 Plus Gets A One-Handed Keyboard App, And It’s Glorious – While I came around to the iPhone 6 Plus and its unique allure, as told in a post from a couple of days ago, Apple’s big smartphone still isn’t the easiest to use when typing one-handed. Specifically, it’s tricky to get to the requisite punctuation needed to properly express oneself. A new app, helpfully called “One Handed Keyboard,” eliminates this annoyance, with a simple software trick made possible by iOS 8’s support for third-party keyboards.

iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life – Six secret features buried in iOS 8 to help you get more from the operating system keep you safe, and help you get more from your battery.

‘Potential’ App Keeps Tabs on Android Device Battery Levels – Never again will you pick up an Android device to find that you forgot to charge it now that Potential is out for Android. This app (still in beta) will sync the status of your battery, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth across devices so you can view them anywhere. There’s also a Windows app that can be used to check in on all your Android devices without touching them.

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Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose – Migrating to the cloud can be overwhelming. This public vs. private cloud comparison simplifies the process by breaking down five points to consider from the start.

Three easy ways to create a collaborative photo album – Special events like holidays, weddings, and school reunions just beg to be captured in pictures—but organizing photos from friends and family after the event can be a pain. It doesn’t have to be! Here are three easy ways to collect everybody’s photos and share them with all participants after your get-together is over.

Bose QuietComfort 25: Possibly the best purchase a frequent flyer can make – The new Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have for business workers who fly often. Take a look at Jordan Golson’s review.

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Security:

Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’ – The Sandworm vulnerability gets a fix with this month’s round of corrective fixes for Microsoft software. Internet Explorer gets a fix, too.

YouTube has potentially infected over 100,000 users during the past 30 days – Did you watch something on YouTube during the past couple of months? If you have, you could be infected with a malicious rootkit. According to reports, over 100,000 people have been infected.

Russian hackers use Windows flaw to target NATO and more – Hackers have been in the news on a regular basis — sometimes for their escapades, other times for their convictions. The latest among them is a Russian hacking collective that has been spying on high-profile targets for the last five years. The collective is being referred to as the Sandworm Team by iSight Partners, which made the discovery, due to Dune references spotted in the hackers’ code. The hacking efforts are said to be ongoing even now, and involve phishing tactics to infect the various targets’ computers.

How to change your Dropbox password – Hackers say they’ve stolen millions of Dropbox passwords, though the company says it wasn’t hacked. Either way, now may be a good time to update your password.

Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault – If Dropbox is correct that the Pastebin file of passwords were all reused from other services then they are innocent. The users involved are guilty of laziness.

Google exposes ‘Poodle’ flaw in Web encryption standard – Three Google security engineers uncover a major vulnerability in the older — but still supported — Web encryption standard SSL 3.0. Experts say fixing it is impossible and upgrading will be difficult.

Korea suffers over 106 million privacy breaches in 4 years – South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has suffered over 106 million leaks of personal information by the negligence of private companies in the last four years, reports ZDNet Korea’s Cho Mu-hyun.

Company News:

Ireland to phase out “Double Irish” tax trickery, to Google’s chagrin – The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill. Google declared $60 billion worth of revenue in the United States in 2013. Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Google Shopping Express Expands To More Cities, Rebrands As “Google Express” – Google Shopping Express, rebranded to simply “Google Express” as of this morning, is no longer entirely subsidizing the costs associated with same-day delivery. The program, which offers instant shopping gratification to consumers in a growing number of U.S. cities, is now working to transition its more regular customers into paying members, who subscribe on either a monthly or annual basis for $10/month or $95/year, respectively.

Intel Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3 Revenue Of $14.55B On Strength Of Recovering PC Market – Following the bell, Intel reported its third quarter financial performance, including revenue of $14.55 billion and earnings per share of $0.66. Analysts and the street had expected that Intel would earn $0.65 per share on total top line of $14.45 billion. In its sequentially preceding quarter, Intel earned $0.55 per share on revenue of $13.8 billion. The company’s revenue rose $1.1 billion compared to its year-ago period, or 8 percent. More positively, its operating income rose 30 percent to $4.5 billion.

HP and EMC merger talks called off, says report – Computing giant HP has called off talks with storage-to-virtualisation company EMC over a potential merger, which the company explored ahead of its recently announced consumer and enterprise split. The two companies’ “off-and-on” merger discussions that have reportedly taken place over the past year have officially been put to rest, with an announcement expected to come as early as Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review – This release of Sleeping Dogs is the big-time re-up the game needed for the current generation of consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It still doesn’t look as fantastic as it does when you’re topped-out on a high-end PC, but Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition never looked better on a console. This game was fun and entertaining in an evolved old-school way when it was first released, and it’s all the more entertaining now.

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EVOLVE “Big Alpha” beta confirmed for Oct. 30 on Xbox One – Turtle Rock Studios, creator of the Left for Dead series, are readying the launch of a brand new shooter.  Titled “EVOLVE”, the class-based shooter is a multi-platform game that pits four player-controlled hunters against one player-controlled beast.  The game emphasizes team play between the four hunters and proper execution of each player’s given role in order to take down an agile Godzilla-like creature, and the beta release has been confirmed for October 30, 2014.

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Humble Mozilla Bundle brings indie games to your browser – Humble Bundle has another, well, bundle, but this time it’s doing something different, new, and quite exciting. The name that has, for some, changed the way you buy games and support game developers, especially indie ones, is now pioneering another with a collection of 8 titles. These aren’t just games you can play on your PC or, in some cases, mobile device. These titles can spring at you right within the confines of one of the most used programs on your computer: your web browser.

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Students build Marvel digital timeline that will suck you in – It’s going to take a superhero-like effort to avoid spending the rest of the day browsing through this website celebrating 75 years of Marvel-ousness.

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Say hello to Ultimate75th.com and goodbye to your work day.

Don’t Blink: Assassin’s Creed Rogue Is Coming for PC – The best place to play the Assassin’s Creed series remains a Windows PC, if you don’t mind waiting. Ubisoft just confirmed Assassin’s Creed Rogue will hit PC in “early 2015.” It did so in a slightly sneaky way, too: at the close of a brand new story trailer.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

The beginning of the people’s Web: 20 years of Netscape – In 1994, only geeks, techies and nerds were using the Web, and then along came Netscape and nothing would be the same.

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It may not be pretty by our standards, but Netscape was the first browser to bring the Web to the masses instead of just the techies.

Apple and Facebook are now paying for women employees to freeze their eggs – It sounds like a plot out of a Gattaca-like dystopian movie: giant corporations that pay for the women on their workforces to freeze their reproductive eggs, allowing them to spend more of their most fertile years at the office, delaying having children until later. Yet that’s exactly what two of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are doing in real life in an apparent bid to recruit more women talent, a laudable goal. Facebook and Apple will both cover the costs of egg-freezing procedures up to $20,000 for individual employees, according to NBC News. Facebook’s employees were able to participate in the policy as of this year, while Apple’s policy won’t be available until early 2015, according to the report.

Linux Foundation Backs Open-Source Drone Projects – For better or worse, drones are big business. And while there are still some regulatory issues to be ironed out regarding commercial use in the U.S., that hasn’t stopped the research and development on these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an effort to accelerate adoption of better, more affordable, and more reliable open source software for UAVs, The Linux Foundation today announced the Dronecode Project. With the help of founding members like 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, Intel, Qualcomm, and more, the Dronecode Project will develop a common, shared open source platform for drones.

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U2’s Bono sorry for compulsory ‘Songs of Innocence’ iTunes download – Bono took the opportunity last night to apologise to fans who were forced to download ‘Songs of Innocence’ via iTunes following the iPhone 6 reveal in September and admitted to getting carried away.

Bullet-time video of parkour, breakdancing, gymnastics is awesome – Using a special filming technique, a cinematographer makes the sports of parkour, tricking, breakdancing and gymnastics look even more amazing.

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Something to think about:

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.”

–     Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Kingo Android Root – Kingo Android Root provides every Android user the easiest and safest way to root their devices for free.

It supports almost all Android models and versions. It also includes a built-in function to remove root from your Android device with just one-click.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

EssentialPIM – EssentialPIM is a personal information manager that allows you to keep all your information in electronic form. All your appointments, tasks, notes, contacts, password entries and email messages are stored in a graphical and easily accessible form.

Features:

Tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, tasks, notes, password entries and email needs. All data is cross-linked, – link your contacts to appointments and email messages to notes.

Synchronization with all major online services (Google, Yahoo, Funambol, Mobical, AOLSync, GooSync, etc.) and SyncML and CalDAV servers. Outlook, Windows Mobile and Palm synchronization is also available.

Simple printout of any modules and quick export of your data into the most popular formats (iCal, vCard, CSV, HTML).

Strong data protection with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

Intuitive interface in many languages including German, Italian, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.

EssentialPIM comes in several editions to satisfy any of your organizing needs:

Pro and Free editions – see comparison.

Portable edition – keeps and manages all your personal data on USB stick.

Network edition – a powerful and complete collaboration solution for small to medium size businesses. It can be installed and configured within 10 minutes by an average computer user without a need for a dedicated server.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance – Since 2011, billions of dollars of venture capital investment have poured into public education through private, for-profit technologies that promise to revolutionize education. Designed for the “21st century” classroom, these tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements.

They are also being used to track and record every move students make in the classroom, grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance and turning education into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed in to “personalize” and “adapt” learning for students in public school districts across the United States.

If you have ‘nothing to hide’, here’s where to send your passwords – Nearly every week, I hear someone shrug off privacy issues with a claim that they’re not worried because they have “nothing to hide” from the government.

Let’s put a cork in it, once and for all.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, love him or hate him, offered attendees at his October TED talk a bulletproof argument (as far as I can tell) against the “nothing to hide” argument.

He said:

“Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, ‘I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide,’ I always say the same thing to them.

I get out a pen. I write down my email address. I say, ‘Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.’

Not a single person has taken me up on that offer. I check that email account religiously all the time. It’s a very desolate place.”

How an FBI Informant Ordered the Hack of British Tabloid ‘The Sun’ – In July of 2011, the website for the British tabloid The Sun announced that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had been found “dead in his garden.”

It was a lie, of course; a fake article planted by hackers who spent a week flitting in and out of the newspaper’s servers. The cyberattack was part of a campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire in the midst of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

It was perpetrated, like so many of these things, by a group of anonymous online hackers. Except one of their leaders was an FBI informant.

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8 Comments

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

8 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 15, 2014

  1. How to change your Dropbox Password:

  2. Dave B.

    RE: YouTube has potentially infected over 100,000 users; Ad blocking add-ons have become a necessary tool in the PC defense arsenal. I feel a bit sorry for the people losing revenue on their blog or site that I use frequently because I use Adblock Plus, but the security of my computers comes first. Until the ad networks can get a handle on the constant misuse of their networks to distribute malware I won’t lose any sleep over blocking them.

    • Hey Dave,

      Same here – I feel a twinge of guilt knowing I might be denying the site revenue. But, for the very reason you point out, Adblock Plus has to be considered a front line defender. Wouldn’t leave the desktop without it. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Jerry Chance

    Sadly, Konvertor is a Shareware as opposed to Freeware. Sorry!

    JC