Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 17, 2014

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To;  Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out;  The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide;  All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac;  Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack;  Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio;  Which size Apple device is right for you?  Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone; Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far;  Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program;  Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser;  OS X Yosemite is now available to download;  Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue;  Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw;  CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service;  Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing;  Right Click Enhancer (free);  Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only;  Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time.

FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To – Everyone is stoked that the latest versions of iOS and Android will (finally) encrypt all the information on your smartphone by default. Except, of course, the FBI: Today, its director spent an hour attacking the companies and the very idea of encryption, even suggesting that Congress should pass a law banning the practice of default encryption. It’s of course no secret that James Comey and the FBI hate the prospect of “going dark,” the idea that law enforcement simply doesn’t have the technical capability to track criminals (and the average person) because of all those goddamn apps, encryption, wifi network switching, and different carriers.

Whisper accused of monitoring users’ locations even after they opt out – Anonymish social network Whisper is tracking some users’ location even after they opt out of tracking, according to a new report. The Guardian reports that Whisper built a tracking tool enabling it to pinpoint users’ location to within 500 meters, an ability it has used to monitor messages sent from the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, among other targets. “A team headed by Whisper’s editor-in-chief, Neetzan Zimmerman, is closely monitoring users it believes are potentially newsworthy, delving into the history of their activity on the app and tracking their movements through the mapping tool,” the report says. “Among the many users currently being targeted are military personnel and individuals claiming to work at Yahoo, Disney and on Capitol Hill.”

All you need to know about Apple’s new iPads, iMac – With a fresh coat of gold paint and a Touch ID sensor, Apple beefs up its tablets. The new iMac also packs more pixels than an Ultra HDTV. Bridget Carey wraps up the highlights from Apple’s announcement.

The best SSDs of 2014: A buyers guide – When I sat down to write this article, I thought it would be straightforward: “Write an SSD guide,” my editor said. “Make some recommendations!” he said. What could be simpler? It turns out, quite a bit — but the good thing about getting hip-deep into a product segment is that I get to wade back out and describe the thinking process that ought to go into choosing an SSD. This guide is written for those of you who bought a small SSD back in 2008-2010 and are now looking for an upgrade, as well as those who are hopping in for the first time and are looking for a basic primer.

Pro tip: Speed up Chrome on Android with this handy hack – If you’re looking to squeeze out as much performance from Chrome on your Android device, Jack Wallen has two simple hacks that’ll bring you a much improved experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter Introduces New Way to Listen to Audio – Twitter has created a new way for users to play audio inside tweets, announcing Thursday that they have teamed up with Soundcloud to bring a full catalogue of music and other recordings to Twitter. Embedding audio inside tweets is nothing new, but this freshly developed audio card allows a user to additionally “dock” a music card inside the app while continuing to scroll through the timeline while listening simultaneously.

Get your phone into the holiday spirit with these great Halloween apps – Whether you want to blast the undead or practice pumpkin carving with your little goblins, there’s plenty of ways to ramp up your Halloween spirit with Android apps. We’ve dug up both spooky and cute games, wallpapers, and apps that should put you in the Halloween spirit. Most are either free or just a couple of bucks, well worth the cost for some spooktacular delight.

Microsoft rolls out Skype 5.6 for iPhone, now optimized for every display size – Microsoft has released an updated version of its Skype app for iPhone, with improvements to optimize the UI to display more conversations and messages on the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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Firefox Hello adds video chat to Mozilla’s browser – Eager to infuse the Web with the communications interactivity of mobile apps, Mozilla on Thursday announced a video chat service called Hello. The technology, built into the beta version of Firefox, lets people set up free video or audio calls with others using Firefox. Mozilla will gradually enable the feature in coming weeks.

Dictionary.com launches new app for word nerds – One dictionary, one would think, is much like any other dictionary: a useful resource, to be sure, but with little variance in general functionality. But Dictionary.com is working hard to prove that not all dictionary apps are created equal. The service, which originally launched in 1995, is celebrating Dictionary Day this year by giving its iPhone app a massive overhaul. Possibly the new feature that users will notice first is that the app is consolidating all its premium dictionaries.

Which size Apple device is right for you? – With so many different sized iPhones and iPads, how do you pick the device for you needs and hand size? We have a handy guide to help you.

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OS X Yosemite is now available to download – Apple’s latest desktop operating system, OS X Yosemite, is now available to download from the Mac App Store. It’s a free update, and it delivers a whole host changes, most notably a revamped visual style that’s a lot more colorful than the OS X you’re used to. In fact, the Yosemite makes your Mac’s operating system look a lot more like iOS than traditional OS X, and it brings the two operating systems together in a few more ways too.

A visual tour of OS X Yosemite’s changes – When the first Yosemite Public Beta was released, we ran through a bunch of apps and compared them side-by-side with their Mavericks iterations to show just what had changed, and by how much. Apple continued to tweak the look of the interface throughout the beta period, addressing a few of our initial gripes. Below is a comprehensive visual tour of Yosemite’s new changes. Many of these screenshots are similar to what shipped with the Public Beta, so we’ll be sure to highlight those elements that have changed significantly since then.

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Windows 10: The biggest problems, gripes, and missing features so far – Two weeks in, and already 1 million people have joined the Windows Insider Program to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Solid usage doesn’t mean that everyone loves Windows 10, however — in fact, using Windows 10′s built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft’s new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. Here’s an excerpted list of what people think of Windows 10 Technical Preview so far.

Apple Built A SIM Card That Lets You Switch Between AT&T, Sprint, And T-Mobile – Whoaaa — here’s an interesting bit that went unmentioned in today’s Apple announcement: Apple has seemingly built a SIM card that lets you jump between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile without having to swap it out (or, more annoyingly, track down/purchase a new SIM card when you want to switch carriers). Instead of swapping the card, you just pick a new carrier through the device’s on screen settings. As it should be!

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 RC is available to download now – Back in July, Microsoft rolled out its Release Candidate (RC) for Visual Studio 2013 Update 3, and revealed that it was already working on the next update to its suite of developer tools. Today, the company announced that Update 4 RC is now available to download.

Microsoft updates Windows App Studio Beta with 9 new languages and Windows Phone 8.1 – Microsoft has released an update for the Windows App Studio Beta to enable localization in nine new languages and the ability to sideload apps on Windows Phone 8.1 for testing. Windows App Studio was launched by Microsoft last year, to introduce new developers to Modern Apps on Windows and Windows Phone. The relatively easier process to develop apps with App Studio was received well and managed to bring 55,000 new apps to the platform.

Kid-Friendly Osmo iPad Accessory Coming to Apple Stores – The evolution of children’s toys, from Matchbox cars to smartphone-controlled droids, continues with the learning-enhanced Osmo product for iPad. Developed last year by a pair of ex-Googlers under the working title of Tangible Play Inc., Osmo uses a reflective mirror that clamps over an iPad’s camera to turn the surface in front of the screen into an interactive play area.

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Top free iOS, Android apps to learn how to program – No matter the age, learning a programming language is a marketable skill. Here are mobile apps to assist you.

Security:

Drupal releases patch for serious SQL injection flaw – Drupal, which is a volunteer open-source project whose software is used by websites such as The White House and the Economist, said all of 7.x releases prior to 7.32 are affected, according to an advisory. Administrators should update to version 7.32. If that is not possible, a patch is available for the “database.inc” file that fixes the problem.

Got a Mac? Prevent OPSEC leakage by cleaning hidden OS X files from USB drives – If you have a Mac, and if BadUSB or the code released at DerbyCon to make BadUSB work didn’t scare you off from using thumb drives, then you might want to start using a free app like CleanMyDrive. Why? Because OS X has been accused of leaking data and metadata that “really shouldn’t be there” as it copies “hidden” files to USB drives. F-Secure’s Sean Sullivan related the following “true story” that involves “unknowns.”

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‘The Snappening’: stolen Snapchat photos site defaced, details of site owner published – Owner of TheSnappening.org photo site, Mudit Grover, took the stolen Snapchat images and the site down. But within hours, attackers identifying themselves as “Team Danny” allegedly took over the domain and published Grover’s personal details.

Utterly crazy hack uses long-distance lasers to send malware commands via all-in-one printers – If you saw it in a movie, you’d never believe it’s true. But it is. Researchers have developed Morse code for transmitting data via pulses of light sent to a scanner via a laser.

Company News:

Google reports $16.52 billion in revenue, profits stutter as ads move to mobile – Google posted mixed results for its third quarter this year. Revenue was $16.52 billion, not excluding traffic acquisition costs, a 20 percent rise over the same period in 2013. But its profit of $3.72 billion was down slightly from the same period in 2013, when it reported $3.76 billion in profit. Analysts were expecting the company to generate earnings per share of $6.53, but Google reported an EPS of $6.35. The stock was down a little, about 3 percent, based largely on that miss.

CBS Announces Its Own Live TV And Streaming Service, CBS All Access – The new subscription-based service will begin offering live streams from 14 of CBS’s largest markets (and soon, more), plus full seasons of 15 prime time TV shows after they air, as well as past seasons of 8 popular series (e.g., The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Survivor, etc.). The service also includes free access to over 5,000 “classic” TV shows from its back catalog like Star Trek, Cheers, MacGyver,Twin Peaks, and CSI:Miami, and access to exclusive special events like the The Grammy Awards, The Academy Of Country Music Awards, The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more.

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AMD plans to cut staff by 7% – AMD’s new chief is making her mark quickly: By the end of 2014, the chipmaker will cut worldwide headcount by about 7 percent in a restructuring plan it hopes will put it on the path to improved profits. The layoffs will start immediately, and come just a week after AMD appointed former chief operating officer Lisa Su as the company’s CEO. She replaced Rory Read, who held the post since August 2011.

Oracle sued over employee no-poaching agreement with Google – A former employee of Oracle has sued the company for allegedly conspiring with Google to prevent poaching of certain categories of managers from each other, in a bid to keep salaries low. Oracle’s restricted hiring agreement with Google was part of a bigger conspiracy by technology companies, located mainly in Silicon Valley, that prevented solicitation of each other’s managers, according to a class action complaint from Greg Garrison, who handled sales of Oracle’s Crystal Ball software from about December 2008 to June 2009.

Photo-sharing site Twitpic to shut down after all – After announcing it had found a mystery buyer, the company again announces its plan to shut down at the end of the month.

Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales to hit $12.5 billion as investment continues – Wal-Mart’s digital reinvention revolves around leveraging the retailer’s unique assets instead of chasing Amazon.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam’s biggest free weekend ever lets you play 10 top PC games for nothing – Ten top PC games can be played in full on Steam this weekend, and the titles are being discounted if you want to keep playing when Monday rolls around.

Here Is ‘Hatred’, a Video Game Where You Do Nothing But Murder Innocent People – Many have pointed out that, over a decade ago, proponents of video games defended them against claims their violence inspired school shootings, and now threats are lodged to shoot up a school over video games. A game about slaughtering everyone for shits and giggles rolled out the red carpet for itself amid all that. Now, does that mean Hatred will lead to violence? Probably not. Violent video games? Ditto. Does that mean we don’t get to call Destructive Creations living garbage? Not in the slightest!

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A still from Hatred. Image: Destructive Creations

Microsoft gamifies the Xbox One Preview program – In a bid to make sure beta testers submit as much feedback as possible Microsoft is now adding some small game elements and a point system to its Xbox One Preview program. Other rewards may come soon.

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Sony unveils version 2.0 of PlayStation 4 OS, biggest update yet – Sony has announced a new system update for its PlayStation 4 console, one that will bring the OS to version 2.0. This update will bring new features, bug fixes, UI changes and more.

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‘Lord of the Rings: Legends’ Begins Its Quest on iOS, Android – There’s a new Lord of the Rings Game in town, and it’s got more than 100 characters from the LotR universe for you to discover and unite into the ultimate fellowship. Of course, there are orcs and other creatures to battle as you explore Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings: Legends is free-to-play and available on iOS and Android. Wondering how the in-app purchases work? Well, they aren’t bad.

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Free game alert: Steal a no-cost copy of Payday: The Heist for today only – You can get a copy of Payday: The Heist for free on Steam today, and you don’t even have to steal it. From now until 10AM Pacific on Friday, Overkill Software is letting you waltz into the vault and leave with the game at zero cost. It’s part of Overkill’s “Crimefest” promotion, which gave out rewards as more people joined the Payday 2 Steam group. The group reached its goal of 1.5 million members, so for 24 hours the original Payday is free to grab (and keep forever).

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt Stands Firm On Not Applying Europe’s Search De-Listing To Google.Com – Google’s Eric Schmidt has held the line against extending European search de-listing requests to Google’s .com domain. As it stands, successful requests made by private individuals under the ruling for information to be de-indexed by Google in a search associated with their name are only implemented by Google on European sub domains, such as Google.co.uk or Google.de, not on Google.com. And that’s not about to change, according to comments made by Schmidt today — presumably unless Google is compelled to expand de-indexing to .com by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the future.

The US Is Trying to Get 10 Countries to Enforce Its Draconian Copyright Laws – The Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, has come under fire plenty of times already for its potential ability to rewrite global privacy and copyright laws. A newly leaked draft, however, suggests that certain types of pirates and counterfeiters will be a main target of the agreement.

Court rules parents can be held responsible for kid’s Facebook posts – Kids are notorious for saying dumb things, and now that communication has shifted towards a digital medium, those dumb things are often posted for everyone to see. If a new court ruling is any indication, parents may be held responsible for any legally dubious thing their child posts in the future, whether it is a fake threat or very real cyber bullying. Such is the case for two individuals in Georgia, where a court as ruled that they could be held responsible for a fake Facebook page operated by their son.

Saudi Arabia Beheaded 59 People So Far This Year — But Hardly Anyone is Talking About It – The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group. But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading. Last month saw Saudi Arabia behead at least 8 people — twice the number of Western hostages who have so far featured in IS’s barbaric execution videos

Unplug While on Vacation? Never! – Most modern travel checklists include a passport, enough underwear to last the trip, a phone charger, an e-reader charger, a laptop charger, and a book—in case you lose one of your chargers. A new study from travel service Expedia and its business brand Egencia reveals the deep connection people feel toward their mobile devices: 94 percent of folks carry at least one gadget during a personal vacation, and 97 percent bring one or more on a business trip.

Something to think about:

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

–      Chinese Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

Right Click Enhancer – A control panel for your right click menu on windows. Add most used applications and folder shortcuts in your right click menu. Manage these right click shortcuts by creating right click sub menus and putting them into these sub menus. Easily remove or disable right click menu entries added by other applications. Save valuable time by using right click tweaks that provides easy to use quick operations directly in your right click. Save time in copy paste operations by adding new folder shortcuts in send to menu. Add new file types into New menu to ease the operation of creating new files. Add templates files to new menu so you can get preformatted files upon creating new files and start working on it in less time.

Dictionary .NET – Dictionary .NET is a tiny, easy and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 52 languages using Google´s services.

Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese-simp, Chinese-trad, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish

Integrates Google Dictionary, Translate, Search, Suggest, Wikipedia 5-in-1 without installing them.

Features:

Smart Translation

Translate selected text with a hotkey

Full-Text Translation

Text suggestions

Single click without selected text

Translate a web page

Open File to Translate

Multilanguage List

Wikipedia Search

Dictionary .NET is provided as freeware for personal use.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI director to citizens: Let us spy on you – In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens.

All of that will go away, or at least become much harder, if the current trend continues, he argued.

New Zealand cops raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents – New Zealand’s national police ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister. But authorities may have also taken source material concerning unrelated stories.

Court Limits Police ‘StingRay’ Cell Phone Tracking for the First Time – The  Florida Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless tracking of people’s location using their cell phone signal is unconstitutional, a move that could have far-reaching consequences and suggests that the most common use of police surveillance tools called StingRays is illegal.

First draft of ‘internet bill of rights’ revealed in Italy – An early version of the document puts anonymity, privacy, and net neutrality at the heart of Italian web users’ rights – but not everyone’s happy.

Australian spy agency spies on itself – You wouldn’t use an agency that didn’t realise it was spying on itself; and spying on its own is exactly what Australia’s domestic spy agency did.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) accidentally intercepted calls made by one of its own regional offices.

The interception was a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which allows ASIO to use listening devices and computer access.

The breach, which was revealed in the agency’s annual report, was self-reported by ASIO staff and blamed on a technical glitch.

ASIO deleted the intercepted information, and said processes have been put in place to prevent the error from occurring again.

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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 17, 2014

  1. Court rules parents can be held responsible for kid’s Facebook posts.
    Amazing, they take away our abilities to control the kids and then want to hold us responsible for what they do on facebook.
    If the Government would stop interfering in how we are allowed to raise and occasionally need to chastise our kids, they may not have posted that stuff on facebook in the first place.
    Just another case of Uncle Sam overstepping its boundaries.
    (Good thing I no longer have to worry about that stuff. Great Grandkids are my pleasure not my responsibility.)