Monthly Archives: October 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 9, 2014

DEA agent steals woman’s identity and photos to lure in suspects on Facebook;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps;  Google Now tells you bills are due; does it go too far?  Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers;  Google releases News & Weather app for iOS;  NHL app hits the ice with a new look for 2014-2015 season;  Microsoft Research releases Xim, a photo sharing app with a twist;  Keep tabs on your time with Jiffy;  Google pays $75K in bug bounties to fix 159 Chrome flaws;  Free game alert: EA’s giving away Dragon Age: Origins;  OnLive opens wide its 250-game PlayPack vault today, for free;  Ballmer, Gates no longer pals;  10 YouTube Videos That Will Change How You Think;  NSA spying will shatter the internet, Silicon Valley bosses warn.

DEA agent steals woman’s identity and photos to lure in suspects on Facebook – The woman gave up her rights when she handed over her phone in an arrest, the Feds are claiming in a court case, so that makes it OK for a DEA agent to put up a bogus account in her name, post her private photos, friend a fugitive, and accept friend requests. Privacy experts call it an alarming expansion of the notion of “consent.”

5 ways to take charge of your smartphone’s home screen – If the only change you’ve made to your iPhone or Android phone’s home screen is to swap out the wallpaper and rearrange a few icons, you’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Indeed, you can make your phone’s home screen your very own in ways from subtle to massive, from adding shortcuts for your favorite contacts to tucking little-used apps into folders. And if you’re the proud owner of an Android phone, you can actually revamp your entire home screen, from top to bottom.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

Watch TV for free with these 10 Android apps – Most of the big broadcast and cable TV networks are offering free streaming apps for Android, complete with full episodes of their most popular shows—everything from About a Boy and America’s Next Top Model to Duck Dynasty and Scandal. We’ve rounded up 10 free TV apps that offer at least some of their full episodes without verifying a cable or satellite subscription, or requiring any other sort of payment beyond sitting through a few advertisements. Indeed, some of the best apps on our list serve up all their episodes for free, no pay-TV login required.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Now tells you bills are due; does it go too far? – If you get emailed reminders about bills sent to your Gmail inbox, you may end up with a Google Now card reminding you to pay your bill. The feature is meant to be handy, but it seems a few users aren’t too pleased with Google scanning their emails to find bills. Here’s how it works: Google scans your Gmail for bill reminders — that happens without you even knowing or asking it to. In Google Now (or the Google Search app), tap on the mic icon in the search bar. Tell Google “show me my bills”, or “my bills due this week”, and cards based on your emailed bills pop up.

Windows 10: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers – There’s more to Windows 10 than just the revamped Start menu. I’ve been fielding questions from readers about the new release. Why is it called Windows 10? Does it really contain a keylogger? And what happened to Internet Explorer?

Windows 10: Keyboard gets predictive text – Windows 10 is full of unannounced features and, while using the OS, we’re regularly coming across new ones – and this time around, the keyboard is getting predictive text input like Windows Phone.

HTC Zoe Photo App Gets a Boost – The Android version is out of beta and available on all devices with the necessary specs to run it. There is also an iOS version that will be rolling out soon. That raises the question, what is Zoe? On HTC phones, Zoe is a feature within the camera app that lets you take multiple photos as part of a short video. There are all sorts of effects and tools for manipulating that, but the app for other devices is just about the remixing part of the HTC experience. Zoe allows you to take the photos and videos you’ve created and cut them together into a quick montage with music and video effects.


Microsoft Research releases Xim, a photo sharing app with a twist – Microsoft Research is always working on unique projects that span many different applications. From disappearing messages to streaming online games, there is no limit to what they cover. And their latest project, Xim, seems like any other photo sharing app, until you look a little deeper. Xim is Microsoft Research’s latest application and it allows you to easily share photos with any of your contacts. While there are dozens of apps that can already do this, Xim lets you have control over the experience.


Microsoft clears the air on Windows 10 “keylogger” – Is it scary that Microsoft can theoretically see everything you type in the Windows 10 Technical Preview? To some, sure. But we’re not meant to be using the preview for daily computing or any tasks that might involve sensitive data. The software is exactly what Microsoft said it is: an unfinished OS that they need help testing. If you’re willing to test it, you’re willing to have your usage analyzed. If you’ve actually read through an EULA before — particularly one for a piece of software that’s still a work in progress — you know this is something companies do. Microsoft didn’t hide the fact that they were going to with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, either. It’s all right there in the EULA in plain English.

Google Chromecast Is The Top “Connected Device” App – Google’s Chromecast is the most popular “connected device” – or so infers a new report from app analytics firm App Annie, which analyzed the top apps associated with connected devices across both iTunes and Google Play in the U.S. Gartner says that there will be 26 billion connected devices globally by 2020 – an astounding figure – but one that makes more sense when you start to think about the connected devices you already use in your own home – DVRs, game consoles, smartwatches, wireless printers, and more.


Google releases News & Weather app for iOS – Formerly available just for Android devices, the app lets you personalize topics you want to see and check on the weather in your own city or anywhere else in the world.


NHL app hits the ice with a new look for 2014-2015 season – NHL fans will have a new way to experience all the league has to offer with a brand new mobile app on Android and iOS platforms.


Manage your business card collection with these five free apps – Without a reliable way to capture business card info, you can lose track of valuable contacts. Tom Merritt looks at five apps that simplify the task.

Keep tabs on your time with Jiffy – Jack Wallen shows you how to keep track of task time with Jiffy and how to use it across multiple Android devices.

Google Street View Now Rides Camel-Back Into the Arabian Desert – For adventurous types who are short on sunscreen, Google Maps has just extended its street view deep into the Arabian Desert. The trek cuts a narrow path through the Liwa desert, 150 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi, winding through an endless stretch of sand dunes measuring upwards of 40 meters in height. But the coolest feature is possibly the view straight down to the ground, where a silhouette of Google’s streetview camera can be seen mounted atop a camel’s back.


30-Second Tech Trick: Download All Your Tweets at Once – Seamlessly relive precious, precious memories.


Google pays $75K in bug bounties to fix 159 Chrome flaws – Google yesterday released Chrome 38, paying out more than $75,000 in bounties for some of the 159 vulnerabilities patched in the massive security update. Also, contrary to what Google said in August but in line with its change-of-mind last month, Chrome 38 remained a 32-bit application on OS X, the operating system for Apple’s Mac line. Of the 159 bugs quashed in Chrome 38, 113 — or 71% — were “relatively minor fixes,” according to Google. Those vulnerabilities had been found using MemorySanitizer, a Google-made tool for sniffing out memory initialization flaws.

IBM says most security breaches are due to human error – A recently released report from computing giant IBM attributes some 95% of IT security breaches to human error and that over 75% of attacks are targeted at just five industries, proving when it comes to security, people are the real problem.

45% of Android devices still have a vulnerable browser installed – Around 45 percent of Android devices have a browser that is vulnerable to two serious security issues, but some countries have a considerably larger percentage of affected users than others, according to data from mobile security firm Lookout. The two security issues were discovered over the past month by a security researcher named Rafay Baloch and were described as a privacy disaster by other researchers. They allow an attacker to bypass a core security boundary, called the same-origin policy (SOP), that exists in all browsers.

Company News:

AT&T to pay $105 million for ‘cramming’ extra charges into customer bills – The US government is slapping down AT&T for allowing extra charges on customers’ phone bills with what it calls the “largest cramming settlement in history.” The news was announced on Wednesday in a joint press conference held by the FCC, the FTC, and all state attorneys general, who worked together on the resolution. That resolution concerns what’s known as “mobile cramming,” in which third parties can pass charges along to phone companies for spam SMS messages or things like daily horoscopes and “fun facts.” Federal investigators found that for years, AT&T made hundreds of millions of dollars by taking 35 percent of these unwanted charges, dodging complaints from customers and reassuring the companies themselves.

Google asks Supreme Court to decide Oracle’s Android copyright case – Google has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a copyright infringement case that some developers think could have a big impact on their ability to innovate in software. The case was brought by Oracle four years ago and accuses Google of infringing patents and copyrights related to Java in its Android mobile OS. Google emerged largely victorious from a lower court trial but an appeals court overturned that ruling in May. Google now wants the highest court in the U.S. to hear its case.

Symantec may split into separate security and storage businesses – Taking a cue from Hewlett-Packard and eBay, Symantec is said to be in talks to carve out the company into two entities. One of the entities will focus on storage while the other will address the security business, reported Bloomberg, citing people who asked not to be identified because the conversations are private. An announcement of the split, which is supported by CEO Michael Brown, could be made in a few weeks, according to the report. Symantec’s spokeswoman Kristen Batch said via email that the company does not comment on rumors.

AMD’s CEO steps down, COO takes over – AMD named Lisa Su, its chief operating officer, as its new CEO, effective immediately, replacing Rory Read as the struggling maker of PC chips continues its attempt at a turnaround. Su, 44 years old, joined AMD in 2012, and most recently has been responsible for integrating AMD’s business units, sales, global operations and infrastructure enablement teams. Before coming to the chipmaker, she worked at chipmaker Freescale and at IBM.

Games and Entertainment:

Free game alert: EA’s giving away Dragon Age: Origins ahead of sequel’s launch – The freebie only applies to the standard edition of Dragon Age: Origins, so you’ll unfortunately miss out on the lengthy Awakening expansion and a few smaller pieces of DLC unless you decide to buy the (mostly excellent) extra content. Regardless, it’s a fantastic fantasy RPG—the closest BioWare’s ever come to the morally ambiguous storytelling of The Witcher—and definitely worth picking up if you haven’t played it before. Or, for that matter, if you played it on last-gen consoles and don’t ever want to hook those things back up again.


OnLive opens wide its 250-game PlayPack vault tomorrow, for free – Cloud gaming service OnLive said that the company will throw open its PlayPack vault in support of the Extra Life charity for 24 hours beginning Thursday, allowing gamers to play more than 250 games on the service for free. Although the effort clearly promotes OnLive’s own services, the company is also raising money for Extra Life, a gaming marathon that helps raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network of 170 hospitals across America. The PlayPack is free, but those that raise money for Extra Life will also receive prizes that scale up according to the amount of money donated or raised.


Alien: Isolation is just the first of the age of Terror Games – When I played Alien: Isolation for the first time, I got sick to my stomach. It was a physical necessity that I stop playing – and I hadn’t even seen the Alien itself yet. Now is the next age of the horror game. Not just horror for the gamer – not just a place where you can get out an tune out. Instead you’re trapped in a space station with the perfect organism, one that cannot be killed, one that’s never been so real to you as it is here and now, discovering you having a nervous breakdown in a staff locker.


The Best Android Digital Comic Book Apps – The eight Android readers in this roundup represent the best digital comic book apps that we’ve reviewed. The summaries for each app below only scratch the surface of what these readers can do; check out the full reviews for a big picture view of each digital comic book app’s functionality.


Want to Visit a Slice of Destiny DLC Bungie Hasn’t Unlocked Yet? – This is what happens when boredom ensues in Destiny: you spy a tantalizing column of light, notice the architectural lattice surrounding it, nose around the framework until you discover a way to leap into that column of light, and presto: Scotty’s beaming you up.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Ballmer, Gates no longer pals; blame Nokia, Vista – It seems the Nokia deal former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pulled off right before leaving the company had a strong ripple effect. Not only is Microsoft feeling the squeeze to produce great handsets and carry on Nokia’s legacy, but a friendship was ruined in the process. Ballmer and Bill Gates are apparently on the outs, and are no longer on speaking terms with one another. The reason for the former besties not talking to one another is that Nokia buy, and Ballmer’s actions shortly after.

A Brief History Of Tesla – When Tesla went public in 2010, it became the first American car company to do so since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Since then, Tesla’s stock has soared as the company keeps rolling out new features and models while simultaneously capturing the imagination of a curious public. What follows is a brief history of Tesla starting at its founding not by Elon Musk, but Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in July 2003.


Kid tapes cop smashing car window, dragging man away after tasering him – A 14-year-old boy’s videotape of an Indiana cop smashing an ax though a vehicle window, shooting the passenger with a stun gun, and ripping him from the vehicle has become the subject of an excessive force lawsuit. Monday’s lawsuit [PDF] is among the most recent in a wave of police encounters gone awry that have been captured on video and resulted in legal action. The incident was filmed two weeks ago in Hammond, Indiana, and it started with a motorist being stopped and pulled over for allegedly not wearing a seatbelt.


Watch: VR drones race like Speeder Bikes in the French Alps – Racing tiny flying devices through the forest would have been awesome enough, but no, these folks went the extra mile. They’ve added virtual reality headsets to the mix. With cameras (like GoPro) mounted on their drones, they connect to headsets and travel along with their drones in real time.


DARPA video puts you in cockpit of superhero-style combat vehicle – If there’s any real-world equivalent to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in the US, it’s got to be DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency clearly has the most futuristic tech toys and concepts around, as we recently saw with its jetpack that boosts human running speeds. Plus there was all that self-destructing spy tech DARPA talked about earlier this year. Now comes a concept for a new combat vehicle, shown in the video below, that looks like it could easily take on the Batmobile.


Why we live in an anti-tech age – Though it seems as if we’re surrounded by innovative products, services and technologies, there’s a growing counter argument that we’re living in a dismal era. Science is hated. Real technological progress has stalled. And what we call innovation today really isn’t very innovative. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, is among those challenging the notion of innovation and progress. Thiel, who earned undergraduate and law degrees at Stanford University, spoke at the Gartner Symposium/IT this week about why the march of progress seems to have stalled.

10 YouTube Videos That Will Change How You Think – While you may think of YouTube as a place to check out the latest in funny animal videos, there’s a lot of content that caters to the brain rather than the funny bone. We’ve found the best and brightest videos for you to enjoy when you need to stretch your mental muscles. These cover a variety of topics, but they’re all guaranteed to make you look at the world around you at least a little bit differently.

Something to think about:

“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

–      Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

ImageCacheViewer – ImageCacheViewer is a simple tool that scans the cache of your Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome), and lists the images displayed in the Web sites that you recently visited.

For every cached image file, the following information is displayed: URL of the image, Web browser that was used to visit the page, image type, date/time of the image, browsing time, and file size.

When selecting a cache item in the upper pane of ImageCacheViewer, the image is displayed in the lower pane, and you can copy the image to the clipboard by pressing Ctrl+M.


Clipboard Help+Spell – Clipboard Help+Spell is a clipboard history utility with the following features:

Database stores history of all past text and image clipboard entries for easy viewing, modification, and search

Use it for keeping hierarchical notes – search, sort, filter by text, modification date, last view date

Super easy and super fast search function – or use complex filters if you need them – you’ll never have a problem finding a note again!

Organize your notes and clips any way you want – show them all or view by group or category; view your clips any way you like

High-quality spellcheck – underlined mistakes; learning spellchecker

Configurable hotkeys for common functions

Powerful text formatting options – make your own presets for common functions

Simple functions for copying and pasting into and out of other applications


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA spying will shatter the internet, Silicon Valley bosses warn – Top Silicon Valley execs have warned that the NSA’s continued surveillance of innocent people will rupture the internet – which is bad news for business.

Oh, and bad news for hundreds of thousands of workers, and America’s moral authority, too.

The suits were speaking at a roundtable organized by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday. Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt and John Lilly, a partner at venerable VC firm Greylock Partners, were on the panel, along with Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith and his counterpart at Facebook, Colin Stretch, and Dropbox, Ramsey Homsany.

“It is time to end the digital dragnet, which harms American liberty and the American economy without making the country safer. The US government should stop requiring American companies to participate in the suspicionless collection of their customers’ data, and begin the process of rebuilding trust both at home and abroad,” said Senator Wyden.

“The United States – here in Silicon Valley, up in the Silicon Forest of the State of Oregon that I am so proud to represent, and in tech campuses and garage start-ups across the country – has the best technologies and the best ideas to drive high-tech innovation. It is policy malpractice to squander that capital for no clear security gain.”

Gov’t seeks to hold on to security letter “gag orders,” banned by 2013 ruling – A San Francisco federal appeals court heard arguments today in an activist lawsuit seeking to ban National Security Letters, or NSLs, as unconstitutional. NSLs are one of the more controversial tools used by the FBI to conduct investigations, as they include a gag order preventing the recipient from talking about the fact that they got an NSL.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the NSLs as unconstitutional in 2011, well before the Snowden disclosures about widespread surveillance. Their two clients are unnamed, but one is a telecom company and one is an Internet company. The two “service providers” want to speak out about the fact that they received letters, but can’t. In April of last year, they won a stunning victory, when US District Judge Susan Ilston agreed with EFF that the letters are unconstitutional. The gag order stopping EFF’s clients from discussing “controversial government powers” violates the First Amendment, Ilston ruled.

The government has appealed the proceeding. Today, almost 19 months after Ilston’s order came out, a three-judge appeals panel heard arguments from both sides.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 8, 2014

Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere;  Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web; Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details;  Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims;  Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media;  Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook;  Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality;  Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less;  Dozens of European ATMs rooted;  Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code;  AT&T Warns of Data Breach After Employee Snooping;  Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android;  ‘Myst’ is getting a TV series;  Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime’;  History of the Personal Computer, Part 4;  Twitter sues US government;  Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction.

Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere – Because it’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (man, it just comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?), the good folks at RoboForm are giving away their great product: RoboForm Everywhere. Specifically, you can get a one-year subscription absolutely free. Regular price: $19.95. As you might expect, this offer is good for new users only. If you’re already a user, you can save 20 percent on a subscription renewal. (Just click the corresponding button on the promo page.) Come October 2015, you can decide if you want to continue. I suspect you’ll want to.


Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your ‘privacy is important’ – Adobe confirmed its Digital Editions software insecurely phones home your ebook reading history to Adobe – to thwart piracy. And the company insisted the secret snooping is covered in its terms and conditions. Version 4 of the application makes a note of every page read, and when, in the digital tomes it accesses, and then sends that data over the internet unencrypted to Adobe. This Orwellian mechanism was spotted by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog; the plaintext information transmitted also includes the title, publisher, and other metadata about the ebooks. This data is needed, we’re told, for enforcing the usage licenses covering the books.

Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details (including product keys) – Maybe you want to check how much RAM your PC has. Maybe you want to know how fast your processor is, or the voltages being supplied to your PC components. Perhaps you’ve lost a software product key or are trying to figure out exactly which driver your printer is using. Some—but not all—of that info you can just grab from Windows itself, but it’s spread across different locations and a pain to navigate to. A better option is to try out a number of third-party apps that can analyze your system and supply all the information you need. Here’s a look at three free, easy-to-use programs that deliver just that kind of information—and then some.

Facebook reportedly working on app to let people interact anonymously – Facebook is reportedly building a standalone app that will let its users interact and communicate under the cloak of anonymity. If true, it would mark a huge departure from the company’s traditional approach to connecting people; real names and identity have long been central to Facebook’s model. The New York Times says this app, which has been developed under the eye of acquihire Josh Miller, would allow Facebook users to ditch their real names in favor of pseudonyms that would theoretically make them feel more comfortable discussing a range of topics with other people.

Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media using tools – Following up on our original guide to creating Windows USB installation media, we’ve addressed some of the feedback around tools, specifically Rufus and the Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Registry tweak enables faster start-up for Apps in Windows 10 – Since Windows Vista, Microsoft added in a start-up delay for apps, and it’s pretty noticeable in Windows 8 and 10. However, this can be disabled, which results in apps starting quicker on boot.

Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code, and now it’s available to everyone – Kano, the runaway Kickstarter success that raised $1.52 million on a promise to teach kids how to code and assemble a Raspberry Pi-based computer, is now widely available to the public. Priced at $149.99, the kit includes everything you need to get started — other than a display, which you’ll need to provide yourself. Based on Linux, Kano OS is kid-friendly through and through, with a leveling system that rewards users as they modify games like Snake, Pong, and even Minecraft. You can change the way games behave by experimenting with “Kano Blocks,” which look like puzzle pieces to the user, but actually spit out real Python code based on what you do with them.


Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook with latest update – You can finally plug your Android device into a Chromebook and transfer files between the two. The catch-up feature joins the usual bug fixes and security improvements in the latest update to Chrome OS. The new version should hit all Chrome OS devices over the next few days—unless you have a Chromebox. Google doesn’t offer any details as to when this will land on those devices. The update adds support for Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), a standard used by Windows, Mac, and Linux for moving files between devices.

Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality via update – Apple TV might just be the best platform you’ll have for a connected home. An update to the software today shows how Apple could leverage the device to make HomeKit reliably cool. If you’ve got Apple’s set-top box, it may be your go-between for controlling your home from your smartphone.

Polyvore creates ‘style graph’ to help you buy more clothes – The image-heavy social media site rolls out a new iOS app that attempts to do what Amazon can’t: personalized fashion recommendations for each of its users.


Forget Apple Pay: Plastc wants to make your wallet smarter – Does the world need another alternative payment method? Plastc believes so, promising the most security as well as the most convenience with its touchscreen-blessed credit and debit card replacement. Capable of switching between a traditional payment card, a loyalty or gift card, or even an access card to your office, Plastc has a magnetic strip that can be re-written on the fly so as to change its identity depending on where you’re using it and what you want to use it for, all controlled with an app on your smartphone and an E Ink panel on the card itself. It’s an ambitious system, and will require some careful negotiation in order to get payment providers, retailers, and of course shoppers themselves onboard. Still, Plastc believes the payoff is worth it; the card is up for preorder now, at $155 apiece, and is expected to ship in summer 2015.

Livestream update frees GoPro from PC shackles – What’s more exhilarating than watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage taken yesterday or even just earlier today? Why, watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage as it happens, of course. An update to the Livestream iOS app has just made that possible, removing the computer from the live streaming equation. All you need now is a GoPro Hero and an iPhone.


Microsoft, 13 other firms take student privacy pledge – Microsoft and other companies that provide education technologies and services to U.S. schools aim to assuage parents’ concerns about the collection and handling of student data with a pledge to protect that data. The companies signing the pledge are, however, only a small section of providers to the kindergarten to 12th grade education sector. The pledge may also be an attempt to propose self-regulation as an alternative to tighter federal laws.

Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less, says survey – More teens say their next phone will be an iPhone, Piper Jaffray finds, but the teen jury is still very much out on the iWatch.


Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims – Security researchers have uncovered the infrastructure behind one of largest and most voracious banking Trojan networks uncovered to date. The Qbot (aka Qakbot) botnet apparently infected 500,000 systems before sniffing “conversations” – including account credentials – for a whopping 800,000 online banking transactions. More than half (59 per cent) of sniffed sessions were reportedly from accounts at five of the largest US banks.

AT&T Warns of Data Breach After Employee Snooping – For the second time this year, AT&T has fallen victim to a data breach at the hands of its employees. About 1,600 customers were affected by the August violation, in which an AT&T worker broke the company’s privacy policy. AT&T is sending Vermont-based customers a letter—penned by director of finance and billing operations Michael Chiaramonte and posted to the website of the state’s Attorney General—alerting them to the misuse of personal information.

Dozens of European ATMs rooted, allowing criminals to easily cash out – The malware, which Kaspersky dubbed ‘Tyupkin,’ allows low-level thieves, known as money mules, access to the machines at certain times of day using an intermittently changing code, similar to the six-digit electronic tokens used for security in the financial industry. More than 50 ATMs in Eastern Europe and Russia were found to have been infected with the malware to date, leading to the theft of currency equivalent to millions of dollars, according to the statement.

Yahoo: Server Attack Not Shellshock – Hackers looking to exploit the Shellshock bug on Yahoo’s network inadvertently stumbled on another flaw within the Internet firm’s servers. Yahoo has since fixed the bug, and promised that no user data was affected.

Report: Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android, especially mobile payments – Two very predictable traits drive cybercriminals: First, they tend to focus on targets with the highest odds of success. Second, they prefer attacks that generate profit. A new joint report from Kaspersky Lab and INTERPOL underscores how these two factors contribute to concerning trends in mobile threats. The Mobile Cyber Threats report analyzes mobile malware data collected from Kaspersky’s cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) during the period of August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014, for over 5 million Android smartphones and tablets protected by Kaspersky security products.

Bugzilla zero-day can reveal zero-day vulnerabilities in top open-source projects – Hackers could have had an inside track on unpatched flaws in major software projects because of a critical vulnerability in Bugzilla, a system that many developers use to track and discuss bugs in their code. Patches released Monday for Bugzilla address a privilege escalation vulnerability that could have allowed attackers to gain administrative access to software bug trackers based on the open-source application.

Company News:

Report: Huge Nokia Plant in India Shutting Down – Nokia will reportedly close a manufacturing plant in India amidst an ongoing dispute with the country’s tax authorities. As reported by Reuters, the massive plant – which employs some 20,000 workers – will shut down on Nov. 1. The future of the plant, which makes phones, has been in question ever since Microsoft purchased Nokia’s handset business. According to a Times of India report from April, workers went on strike in 2013, and demanded that the Chennai plant be included in the Microsoft-Nokia deal, but tax issues hampered a deal.

Facebook Launches Hyper-Local Ads Targeted To People Within A Mile Of A Business – Facebook’s mobile ubiquity and push for always-on location sharing came to fruition today with the launch of hyper-local advertising that could convince people to visit stores they’re nearby. Soon, brick-and-mortar businesses will be able to target ads to anyone who lives or was recently within a specific distance of their store. Advertisers can set a radius as small as a mile and the ads will show up on people’s phones or web browsers. These new Local Awareness ads will be available for US business owners in a few weeks, and around the globe in the next several months.

IBM’s Watson lands new partners and open’s NYC office – IBM’s $1bn bet on its cognitive computing platform Watson is paying dividends, with the company announcing a slew of new Watson partners, clients and the grand opening of its New York City office. Ten months on from IBM’s first signal that it would make greater efforts to commercialise Watson, the company is showing off how its investment is bearing fruit, announcing a bevy of new clients and startups that are using Watson to power their own cognitive services and apps.

After eBay and HP’s breakups, Symantec may be next in line for a split – Symantec may be poised to join the list of tech heavyweights opting to split: according to a report from Bloomberg, the company is considering carving up its storage and security businesses into two companies. According to sources of the publication with knowledge of Symantec’s plans, the company is weighing up options to form two entities, with one focused on selling security products and another specialising in storage.

Games and Entertainment:

Project Spark, Microsoft’s free game creation game, hits Windows 8 and Xbox One – Microsoft has removed the “beta” tag from Project Spark, a program that lets users create and share their own games. Project Spark launched in beta six months ago, after being announced by Microsoft in 2013. It lets users design their own game worlds, create characters, and set up rules using if-then triggers. No programming knowledge is necessary, and it seems that users can create fairly complex games (including Tetris, Pinball and tower defense) with enough time and effort. Users have already created more than 70,000 game levels in the beta.


‘Myst’ is getting a TV series – Myst, one of the most popular PC games ever, is about to make a comeback on television and computer screens. Legendary TV & Digital Media — the smaller-screen arm of Legendary Pictures, which has co-produced big-screen trilogies like The Hangover and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — has signed a deal to make a dramatic series with Cyan Worlds, the company behind the beloved point-and-click adventure game from the 1990s.


Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry reunite in ‘LittleBigPlanet 3’ voice cast – Hugh Laurie, best known to American audiences as the surly Dr. House MD, will reprise his comedic partnership with old pal Stephen Fry in the upcoming LittleBigPlanet 3 game for the PS3 and PS4. Starring as the villainous Newton, Laurie will be “the dastardly counterpart” to Fry’s warm and friendly Narrator. Joining them on the LittleBigPlanet 3 cast will be Nolan North, the man responsible for giving voice to Uncharted’s Nathan Drake and Assassin’s Creed’s Desmond Miles, along with English comedian Peter Serafinowicz. Let the charming fun begin.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime’ – Lawrence says that the distribution of her photos isn’t a scandal but a “sexual violation,” and one that underscores the need for better legal protections. “It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible,” she tells VF. “Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

Mercedes built a self-driving truck that could save thousands of lives every year – The Future Truck 2025 can’t navigate city streets autonomously like Google’s fleet of cars, but is perfectly capable of holding its own on the open road — and that’s where sleep-deprived truck drivers most often pose a threat to people driving smaller passenger vehicles. Using a combination of advanced dual cameras, radar sensors, and the latest blind-spot technology (Mercedes refers to the system as “Highway Pilot”), the Future Truck 2025 analyzes the road to get a sense of surrounding traffic and terrain. The “highway” part of that is critical; a driver is still required to get the truck onto the interstate and successfully merge into traffic.


Volvo’s counting on these sensors to end fatal accidents by 2020 – Volvo is aiming no fatal accidents for those in one of the safety-obsessed Swedish firm’s cars by 2020, cooking up a complex 360-degree sensor and vision system that could also open the door to autonomous vehicles. The culmination of Volvo’s four year Non-Hit Car and Truck project, the technology combines data from a wide range of sensors – including cameras, GPS, and others – into a single perspective of the car’s environment, rather than treating each system as discrete as per most current vehicles, and even teaching vehicles how to plan an escape route.


Comcast reportedly called subscriber’s employer to complain about complaint – Comcast isn’t viewed favorably by many consumers, and received a lot of criticism this past summer when a recording was published revealing the difficulty a subscriber had when trying to cancel his service. The latest complaint is worse, as surprising as that may be, and it ends on a sad note: Comcast reportedly contacted the subscriber’s employer and lied about conversations that took place, leading to the subscriber being fired from his job, and now refuses to release any copies of the conversations to prove they did, indeed, happen. The information comes from The Consumerist, which details the plight of former Comcast subscriber Conal, who is said to have signed up for service early last year. The subscription kicked off with issues regarding charges for set-top boxes that he did not activate, and issues with missing bills due to Conal’s last name being misspelled.

TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 4 – The mighty Wintel empire – This is the fourth installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips.

Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction – Capable but complex infotainment systems built into modern car dashboards are dangerously distracting, a driver safety study has concluded, while voice controlled systems like Apple’s Siri have been equally criticized. Hands-free tech intended to maintain a driver’s grip on the wheel can, ironically, cause greater cognitive distraction than actually picking up a phone, a study by the AAA and the University of Utah revealed, testing a number of basic tasks like making calls or changing radio station across cars from Toyota, Mercedes, and other marques.

Something to think about:

“It’s not a matter of whether or not someone’s watching over you. It’s just a question of their intentions.”

–    Randy K. Milholland

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical data.

Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup.

Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more.

Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click.

Protect yourself against ever losing those critical files that took hours to create.

Schedule backups to run automatically at a time that suits you. Send E-mail notifications to team members about the status of a backup job Save Disk space by compressing your backups as compressed CBU files.

Configure in minutes with our intuitive interface Suitable for both beginners and network administrators alike, Comodo BackUp can be set to run at logon before starting your work day, then you can easily restore your data if necessary with a double click.

We all know that making regular backups is a good idea – you’d do it if you knew where to begin, right?


Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Popular software programs contain millions of line of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps three layers of security around popular browsers and applications, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit:

Protects Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers

Protects browser components, including Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave

Defends against drive-by download attacks

Shields vulnerable applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Apple Quicktime, and VLC Player

Blocks unknown and common exploit kits, including Blackhole, Sakura, Phoenix, and Incognito

Is compatible with most common anti-malware and antivirus products

Doesn’t use a signature database—no need for constant updating

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU’s likely next digital chief takes a swipe at US over data protection – Wasting no time, the European commissioner who could soon be co-leading the EU’s digital agenda is already firing warning shots at the U.S. over data protection.

Andrus Ansip used his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament Monday to warn that the EU might suspend the Safe Harbor data-sharing agreement if U.S. lawmakers don’t get their act together when it comes to protecting European citizen’s data. Ansip is the nominee expected to take over the digital agenda along with Günther Oettinger in a realignment of the Commission’s oversight of that area when Neelie Kroes steps down Nov. 1.

“Safe Harbor is not safe to today,” the 58-year-old former Estonian prime minister said. “Americans have to provide real trust to European citizens. When it comes to protecting data, similar rules and safeguards should apply to all companies wherever they are based. To be worthy of their name, Safe Harbors do need to be safe.

Suspending the data agreement would have major implications for companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, among others, that process data in the U.S. from European citizens. EU laws prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries that do not meet the EU’s data-protection standards. As part of Safe Harbor, U.S. companies are supposed to meet EU standards in providing data protections for Europeans.

But European citizens are really worried about how the U.S. uses its national security exception, Ansip said. “If we will not get clear answers on how this exception will be used, then of course suspension as an option will stay on the table,” he said.

Twitter sues US government so it can release more information about national security requests – Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government, alleging that its First Amendment rights to free speech are being violated by rules that prevent it from disclosing the quantity of national security requests it receives. Twitter is currently able to publish the number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders it receives in extremely broad ranges — such as between “0 and 999” — and it argues that this is not narrow enough. It also argues that it should be able to inform the public of what orders it has not received, whereas currently zero falls within that enormous range.

“When the government intrudes on speech, the First Amendment requires that it do so in the most limited way possible,” Twitter writes in a court filing. “The government has failed to meet this obligation.”

Britain’s snooping powers are ‘too weak’, says NCA chief – Keith Bristow, head of of the National Crime Agency (the UK’s FBI), is arguing Britain’s snooping powers are “too weak”.

In an interview with The Guardian, the NCA’s director general said police need new powers to monitor data about emails and phone calls. He admits many don’t see the police case for comms data snooping while arguing that it is nonetheless necessary in order to keep the public safe from serious criminals and terrorists.

“What we have needs to be modernised… we are losing capability and coverage of serious criminals,” Bristow told the left-leaning broadsheet. “Some of our capability is challenged. Very significantly challenged,” he added.

Home Secretary Theresa May last week committed the Conservatives to implementing a communications data bill if the Tories win the general election next year. Giving the state greater access to communications data has been dubbed a “snoopers’ charter” by critics, with some even going so far as to compare it Soviet-era state surveillance.

US says it can hack into foreign-based servers without warrants – The US government may hack into servers outside the country without a warrant, the Justice Department said in a new legal filling in the ongoing prosecution of Ross Ulbricht. The government believes that Ulbricht is the operator of the Silk Road illicit drug website.

Monday’s filing in New York federal court centers on the legal brouhaha of how the government found the Silk Road servers in Iceland. Ulbricht said last week that the government’s position—that a leaky CAPTCHA on the site’s login led them to the IP address—was “implausible” and that the government (perhaps the National Security Agency) may have unlawfully hacked into the site to discover its whereabouts.

“In any event, even if the FBI had somehow ‘hacked’ into the SR Server in order to identify its IP address, such an investigative measure would not have run afoul of the Fourth Amendment,” Turner wrote. “Because the SR Server was located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment would not have required a warrant to search the server, whether for its IP address or otherwise.”

Turner added, “Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to ‘hack’ into it in order to search it, as any such ‘hack’ would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary.”

NSA’s internal watchdog defends privacy practices – The U.S. National Security Agency takes multiple steps to protect the privacy of the information it collects about U.S. residents under a secretive surveillance program, according to a report from the agency’s privacy office.

Surveillance under presidential Executive Order 12333, which dates back to 1981, generally sets the ground rules for the NSA’s overseas surveillance. It allows the agency to keep the content of U.S. citizens’ communications if they are collected “incidentally” while the agency is targeting overseas communications.

But the surveillance of U.S. residents is conducted with several privacy safeguards in place, ensuring that the NSA collects the right information from the right targets and does not share the collected information inappropriately, according to the NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Office report, released Tuesday.

NSA safeguards include privacy training for every employee, an oath of office that requires all employees to protect privacy and civil liberties and privacy oversight by six internal organizations, including the office that prepared Tuesday’s report.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 7, 2014

Tips for Stopping Identity Theft;  Camera51 for Android Helps You Take Better Photos;  Guard your privacy online;  Windows 10: How to uninstall preview updates;  Battery Widget Reborn v2.0 Gets Android L Makeover;  Skype will block local calls in India starting November 10th;  Bing integrates song lyrics into search results;  Microsoft scores poorly in latest virus protection test for Windows 7;  All about drive letters and drive names;  Yahoo confirms servers infected;  Angry Birds Transformers Trojan targets Android;  Assassin’s Creed Unity Will Only Run at 1080p on PCs;  Zuckerberg is world’s best CEO, Twitter the eighth wonder;  Australia Wants To Light Up With Massive #YesToPot Campaign;  Alien: Isolation Review;  iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars;  Zoner Photo Studio Free.

Guard your privacy online – Not every moment needs to be shared on the Internet. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. It’s become increasingly difficult to be both online and maintain your own privacy. Here are some tips to help you take control of what you share online. Eric Franklin will run through what you need to know to fully move off the grid of the Web. Sharon Profis will go over the process of deleting any trace of you from Facebook. And I’ll show you two methods for erasing geolocation data from your photos.

Tips for Stopping Identity Theft – Identity thieves can use your personal information to open and max out multiple credit cards, apply for loans and place deposits on big-ticket items. This activity all goes onto your credit profile, eventually sinking your credit rating. Yet you might never find out about the unauthorized activity until the debt collectors come calling or you find yourself summarily rejected for a loan or mortgage application. So what can you do to thwart identity thieves?

Gmail Tips: Get Organized with Labels and Filters – First order of business: never delete messages. We’re going to archive them instead. This is the equivalent of taking every piece of physical mail that’s ever been sent to your house and putting it in your basement instead of throwing the mail you don’t need or don’t care about away. If you do this in real life, you’re crazy. If you don’t do this online, you’re crazy.

Skype will block local calls in India starting November 10th – Skype is either changing, or being forced to change, its strategy in India. The Microsoft service will no longer offer landline and mobile calls for Indian residents starting November 10th. This change came pretty much out of the blue and was announced by Skype on one of their support channels. According to their announcement, starting November 10th the local Indian subscriptions will no longer be valid. As such they recommend users either cancel or use up their credit by that date to avoid losing money.

Google Voice MMS support on almost 100 carriers rolls out – Google has been busy making a lot of changes with Google Voice and Hangouts, including most notably further integration between the two services into one handy single app. In an effort to expand the service’s usefulness for users, the Internet giant has announced that following busy work with almost 100 carriers across the United States and Canada, it has made available support for MMS messages in Google Voice from a large roster of carriers, among them being such notable entities as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Rogers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Gmail updates for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus displays – Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, like apps that take proper advantage of the extra screen real-estate of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so consider it welcome news that Gmail has updated for iOS 8. The new app – with the tongue-in-cheek version number of 3.1415926 – answers the big, lingering complaint Gmail users had since the new Apple smartphones were launched, namely that the scaling was still intended for a 4-inch panel. Now, though, you get far more on your screen than you did before.

Camera51 for Android Helps You Take Better Photos – Having a good camera on your Android phone is only half the battle. Well, less than half depending on who you ask. You also need to consider the framing and composition of a shot to get the best results. Camera51 claims it can analyze your frame and suggest the ideal positioning based on the same principles used by professional photographers.

Battery Widget Reborn v2.0 Gets Android L Makeover – Just search the Play Store for “battery widget” and you’ll get page upon page of results. Right near the top, however, will be Battery Widget Reborn. This super-popular app is more than just a widget, and it’s getting a huge update with v2.0, which moves it into the Android L era.


Plex on Xbox One makes streaming your movie library easy and elegant – When setting up Plex Media Server on a PC or Mac, you just point it to wherever your media is stored, and it’ll automatically pull in high-res artwork, descriptions, cast information, and ratings. It’s basically effortless; Plex organizes all your stuff and puts a beautiful user interface on top of everything. Once it’s set up, you can watch your content using Plex apps across smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, and now video game consoles. Plex was already compatible with Xbox 360 over DLNA, but this marks the first time the company has brought a native experience to gaming devices.


Windows 10: How to uninstall preview updates – If you have Windows 10 installed and you download an update that causes your machine to crash, Microsoft has included an easy way to remove newly installed updates from your machine.

Bing integrates song lyrics into search results – We’ve all been there. A classic song gets stuck in your head, but all you can remember is, “Boom, Boom, Boom let’s go back to my room, na na na na na na na na na na na na na.” Technology to the rescue! Bing wants to take some of the hassle out of the age-old agony of remembering song lyrics. Microsoft recently announced that solving this problem is now as easy as typing the song name and “lyrics” into Bing. The search engine will then show the complete lyrics for the song in its search results page.

This App Avoided Being Made Useless By Using The iPhone’s Charger (But Not For Charging) – Remember Cycloramic? It was one of our favorite iOS apps last year. It allows you to take hands-free 360-degree selfie panoramics by using the iPhone’s vibrating motor to propel it around your desk. A key component of this trick, though, was that the last few iPhones have had squared edges. Those edges allowed the phone to be placed upright for proper pano-selfie framing. Otherwise, you’re just taking a picture of your ceiling. But wait! The iPhone 6 has round edges. It can’t stand upright on its own. Cycloramic is doomed, right? Nope! As it turns out, people who come up with super clever ideas can also come up with super clever workarounds.


Cirqle Debuts A Photo-Sharing App For Groups That Works Offline – The addition of an offline mode for social media-based collaboration is a timely twist for this nearly year-old app, and one that could finally see it getting picked up by a wider audience. (The app isn’t currently showing up on the App Store charts, according to App Annie.) Offline social networking and communications apps are now picking up, as technology is helping those living under more authoritarian regimes tap into broader networks even without a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

All about drive letters and drive names – Paras Bansal’s hard drive has three partitions with the same name. I explain how to change drive letters and names, and why Paras’ situation may be confusing, but not serious.

Tzukuri’s smart sunglasses send alerts when you’ve left them behind – The glasses use Apple’s iBeacon technology to pair with a nearby iPhone, letting the two devices communicate over Bluetooth LE. As users move farther away from the glasses, they receive a series of three iPhone notifications in 15-foot increments. Users can open the Tzukuri app to see the glasses’ last known location and can use a proximity tracker to find the glasses when they’re within 25 feet. (The app does let users turn off notifications in certain places to avoid being pestered at home or at work.)



Microsoft scores poorly in latest virus protection test for Windows 7 – AV-TEST Institute’s August 2014 (Windows 7 SP1) test results are now available. The company reports on 33 antivirus applications: 24 consumer-oriented antivirus programs and 9 corporate-endpoint protection packages. This article focuses on the corporate antivirus test results, the consumer antivirus test results are posted here. Here’s more about AV-TEST and how the company works.


Yahoo confirms servers infected – but not by Shellshock – Yahoo says no customer data was placed at risk after servers were infiltrated by malware — and the insidious Shellshock bug was not at fault.

Advertising beacons discovered in hundreds of NYC phone booths – As New York City looks to upgrade its phone booths, the boxes may be getting more technology than many citizens realize. This weekend, a Buzzfeed investigation found approximately 500 advertising beacons in Manhattan phone booths, all installed without a formal approval process or public comment period. In response to the report, the city has announced it will remove the beacons “in the coming days.” Beacon devices work over Bluetooth, typically looking for phones running a Beacon-enabled app (typically from a store or brand) and sending a push notification once that phone is in range.

Angry Birds Transformers Trojan targets Android, warns ‘Obey or be hacked’ – Malware targeting Android devices pretends to be the new Angry Birds Transformers game, but wipes data from the device’s storage, blocks the Facebook app, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and text messages, spamming friends every five seconds with the same warning the owner sees: ‘Obey or Be Hacked.’


Company News:

Samsung’s Q3 2014 profits nosedived – The past couple years have been kind to Samsung, which has seen record profits and all sorts of bragging rights. That reign held steady for quite a while as the Korean company pumped out mobile gadgets that found favor with consumers. Those numbers started stumbling this year, however, and by the looks of things has taken a massive blow in the third quarter of this year. Such information comes from a regulatory filing, which shows the company is expecting its profits to come in at a three-year low.

Facebook now officially owns WhatsApp – Eight months after announcing its intent to acquire messaging giant WhatsApp, the deal has finally gone through. Facebook announced the closing of the deal with the SEC in the United States, and with the European Commission in Europe. Since the deal was announced for $19 billion, its price tag has actually increased to a whopping $21.8 billion. This is in part due to Facebook’s rising stock price over the last several months, Recode points out.

Games and Entertainment:

Alien: Isolation Review – Either you’re going to love this game or you’re going to hate it. There’s a lot riding on elements of fandom, terror, and gameplay here. You really have to ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge. We really should make a flowchart for you in deciding whether or not to allow yourself to experience this game, starting with the key – have you seen the original ALIEN film?


It’s not a bug: Shadow of Mordor allows for never-ending combos – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has only been out a few days, but the general feedback is that Monolith has done a good job with this action RPG. It’s not the longest of games, but it is one where there’s a constant need for tactics combined with some genuinely fun combat you just keep coming back to. Now it seems the combos performed in the game can be chained together…forever.


Assassin’s Creed Unity Will Only Run at 1080p on PCs – Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity, a sneaking game about two secret societies warring during the French Revolution, will only be capable of 1080p display resolution if you’re rocking a Windows PC. The 1920-by-1080 club’s doors are officially closed to game consoles, says Ubisoft. What’s more, both consoles will top out at 30 frames per second (enthusiasts tend to prefer games that run at 60).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Zuckerberg is world’s best CEO, Twitter the eighth wonder, says Marc Andreessen – The venture capitalist has been tweeting up a storm, sharing his thoughts on everything from startups to activist shareholders. In an exclusive interview, Andreessen offers his take on the Apple Watch, bitcoin and dot-com blunders.

The Navy is building robotic weaponized boats – As a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, loaded with 60 aircraft and more than 6,000 sailors, heads toward port, it’s protected by a group of 10 or more small boats. The boats move around the ship, scanning for suspicious and potentially hostile vessels coming too close. If they spot a potential adversary, they race toward the intruder, working together to swarm around it and block it from getting any closer. If necessary, they can destroy an attacking vessel. What makes this scenario unique is that these small boats are unmanned. No one’s driving them or on the look out. No one’s manning the machine gun.


Floating bike highway proposed for London’s River Thames – A group of architects, engineers, and artists proposed a novel way of creating protected bike lanes in traffic-clogged London: a floating bike highway along the Thames. The path, called the Thames Deckway, would run east-west along the river’s southern bank for about seven miles, from Battersea to Canary Wharf.


Australia Wants To Light Up With Massive #YesToPot Campaign – An innovative online and street campaign run by SBS has revealed, somewhat unsurprisingly, Australians overwhelmingly want to smoke weed legally.


Why do contextual ads fail? – Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon violate our privacy in order to show us relevant ads. So why do their ads miss the mark?

Microsoft’s FlexSense Project Is A Thin Sensor Layer To Make Your Tablet Awesome – The merry band of scientists over at Microsoft Research — who apparently get paid to have fun and speak with fixed tones over videos — have put together something called FlexSense, a flat piece of bendable material loaded with sensors. You torque it, and it accepts the “deformation” input. That means it can tell how you are bending it and translates that information for the application you’re using. Imagine doodling a picture with multiple layers, and lifting up the corner of your FlexSense to reveal the layer below that you’re working on. Or turning pages of a digital book by bending a part of your FlexSense. Any place you can imagine flexing or bending material, FlexSense could fit.


To Kidfinity and beyond? iPad bests all brands among 6- to 12-year-olds – Research company Smarty Pants asked kids and moms about their favorite brands. Disney cracks kids’ top 10, but McDonald’s may need a happy meal: It only ranks 15th.


Something to think about:

“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”

–    South Pacific – Broadway Show

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Auslogics Duplicate File Finder will find and remove duplicate files so you won’t experience lack of free disk space!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows you to find duplicate files by content, regardless other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names. Give Auslogics Duplicate File Finder a try to see what it’s really capable of!


Improve computer performance by deleting duplicate files

Identical files not only waste your hard disk space, but also may cause system slowdowns. By deleting duplicate files you can reduce time needed to defragment your hard drives and minimize time used by antivirus to scan your computer.

Sort and organize your media collections

Media files collections, such as music, video, images and photos, often become the primary source of identical files. If you have a music collection of several hundreds or even thousands mp3-files, you may want to sort them by deleting identical tracks.

With Auslogics Duplicate File Finder you can organize your media files and increase free disk space needed to enlarge your collection.

Find duplicate files by content!

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder has the MD5 search engine which allows the program to search for duplicate files by content, regardless of other match criteria. It would be helpful, for example, when two identical mp3 tracks or video files have different names.


Zoner Photo Studio Free – Manage, edit, and share your photos faster and more easily than ever before! This free software is the new way to work on your pictures with less hassle and more fun than you’ve ever seen. It’s made for everyone, and will make you feel like a pro.


Download pictures easily

Get organized with Sort Pictures

Quickly find any picture

Describe and tag your pictures

Geotag to show where you took your shots

EditFrom simple touchups and one-click fixes to fancy

creative work, it’s all here.

Quick Fix – fix it all in one click

Remove red eye, wrinkles, and more

Add cool effects

Fix exposure problems fast

Sharpen blurred pictures

Turn your pictures into panoramas…

Share them with Facebook friends

Publish them on Flickr

Quick, impressive calendars


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars – Last week, Apple announced that it is closing a serious security vulnerability in the iPhone. It used to be that the phone’s encryption only protected a small amount of the data, and Apple had the ability to bypass security on the rest of it.

From now on, all the phone’s data is protected. It can no longer be accessed by criminals, governments, or rogue employees. Access to it can no longer be demanded by totalitarian governments. A user’s iPhone data is now more secure.

To hear US law enforcement respond, you’d think Apple’s move heralded an unstoppable crime wave. See, the FBI had been using that vulnerability to get into people’s iPhones. In the words of cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr, “How is the public interest served by a policy that only thwarts lawful search warrants?”

Ah, but that’s the thing: You can’t build a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Backdoor access built for the good guys is routinely used by the bad guys. In 2005, some unknown group surreptitiously used the lawful-intercept capabilities built into the Greek cell phone system. The same thing happened in Italy in 2006.

In 2010, Chinese hackers subverted an intercept system Google had put into Gmail to comply with US government surveillance requests. Back doors in our cell phone system are currently being exploited by the FBI and unknown others.

This doesn’t stop the FBI and Justice Department from pumping up the fear. Attorney General Eric Holder threatened us with kidnappers and sexual predators.

The former head of the FBI’s criminal investigative division went even further, conjuring up kidnappers who are also sexual predators. And, of course, terrorists.

Surveillance drives South Koreans to encrypted messaging apps – Two weeks ago, Kakao Talk users in South Korea users got an unpleasant surprise. After months of enduring public criticism, President Park Geun-Hye announced a crackdown on any messages deemed as insulting to her or generally rumor-mongering — including private messages sent through Kakao Talk, a Korean messaging app akin to WhatsApp or iMessage. Prosecutors began actively monitoring the service for violations, promising punishment for anyone spreading inappropriate content.

In response to the crackdown, South Koreans have voted with their feet, heading en masse to encrypted chat programs hosted outside the country, particularly an app called Telegram known for its encryption features. Based in Germany, Telegram reports roughly 1.5 million new South Korean users have signed up in the past seven days, giving the app more than 50 million users worldwide. Telegram’s Markus Ra says it’s not the only country where government controls have made Telegram an attractive option. “People frequently come to Telegram looking for extra security — some of them from countries with censorship issues,” Ra says. “What really makes us happy is that the users stay when the privacy scandals have died away.”

Telegram offers an option for “secret chats” that use end-to-end encryption, which means that the company facilitates key exchange but doesn’t hold the keys itself and can’t decrypt any of the messages. Created by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, the app’s offshore location makes legal compulsion much more difficult for South Korean prosecutors. Telegram’s South Korean user base is still just a fraction of Kakao’s 35 million users — the vast majority of cell-phone owners in South Korea — but the rapid growth shows how much privacy features can pay off in the face of high-profile censorship.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 7, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Company News:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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


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


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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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


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

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

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

Something to think about:

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

–      Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Backup & Restore Features

File Backup

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

Incremental and Differential backups.

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

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

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

Multiple compression levels.

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

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

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

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

Scheduling Features

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The presentation begins below:


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 3, 2014

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop;  USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix;  Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach;  Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition);  Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus;  The best calendar apps and widgets for Android;  Real-time captioning comes to Google Glass;  Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview;  Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract; New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad;  Best mobile games of September 2014;  Tower Dwellers Hits Android;  Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella;  Would a curfew for men be good for society?  Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities;  Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop – Your computer contains important information, much of it private. The people who will repair it may need to alter Windows, which generally requires access to your password-protected administrator account. They’re probably honest, but you can’t count on that. And even if they’re honest, they may still wipe your hard drive out of necessity or incompetence. But with the right precautions, taking your PC on a service trip shouldn’t result in a disaster.

Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus – Facebook on Monday relaunched the Atlas advertising platform in an effort to expand its marketing reach across the Web. But not everyone is thrilled about it. Which is where ad-blocking plug-in Adblock Plus comes in.

Evernote everywhere? New collaboration tools hope to take over your workday – Evernote, with its new Work Chat messaging app and Context research tool, hopes to turn plain old chat into an enhanced communication medium. Whether these new features will woo workers away from established competition is a very open question.

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks – Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best calendar apps and widgets for Android – No matter how much you’d rather be playing games or checking fantasy sports stats, you have to manage your calendar. All of the following choices work with Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange, along with other cloud accounts, so you can keep all your appointments in one calendar app.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview: Everything you need to know – Are you ready to walk on the wild side? Windows 10 is on the horizon, and even though it’s still roughly three-quarters of a year away from completion, Microsoft’s giving IT Pros and PC enthusiasts an early taste of what’s to come with the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Lots of things are sure to change going forward, from features to basic elements of the operating system. All that said, are you still curious? Can’t resist the lure of the bleeding edge? Just want to run away from Windows 8? Here’s how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview right now.

Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview – So you’ve downloaded Microsoft’s Windows 10 Technical Preview. Let PCWorld show you around your new OS with our newbie’s guide to Windows 10, complete with tips and tricks.

Real-time, real-world captioning comes to Google Glass – The wearable head-up display’s potential for the hearing impaired, though, did not go unnoticed by a team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. They found a way to circumvent the limitation’s of Glass’ microphone to create an app that captions conversations in real-time. Captioning on Glass adds an Android smartphone to the mix. The speaker talks directly into the smartphone’s microphone; the free CoG Android app translates the speech into text using Google’s own speech recognition software and sends it to the free Captioning on Glass Glassware.


Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition) – Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market. Whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there’s bound to be an Android handset here for you.

New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad – Buying a used phone from someone on Craigslist or eBay is never not sketchy, but thankfully Apple’s now rolled out a tool that could keep you from paying for stolen (and useless) property. The company has launched a new website that instantly checks to see whether Activation Lock — an anti-theft feature of iOS — is switched on for any iPhone or iPad. It’s part of iCloud, but you don’t need any type of Apple account to use it. You will need to access it from a desktop browser, though; mobile Safari bizarrely isn’t supported right now. That makes no sense, but oh well.


Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract on Cricket Wireless – Cricket Wireless will be the first US carrier to offer Microsoft’s most affordable Windows Phone ever, the Lumia 530, and when it goes on sale tomorrow, it will cost just $49.99 with no contract.

ComputerCOP: internet safety software distributed by police turns out to be spyware – If your local police department offered you a piece of free software claiming it helps protect your kids online, that should be a good thing. In reality, saying ComputerCOP is safety software is like saying that a peeping Tom is someone’s personal night watchman. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has done extensive digging and discovered that nearly 250 law enforcement agencies in 35 US states have purchased ComputerCOP over the years, typically buying thousands of copies at a time.


Roku hops on the screen mirroring bandwagon, adding feature for Android, Windows – Roku is striking back at Chromecast and Apple TV’s Airplay with screen mirroring for Android and Windows. The beta feature lets users beam video and audio from a phone, tablet or PC to the big screen. It’s available now for the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version, and requires a device running at least Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 or Android 4.4.2.


Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities – The new service will let customers stream DVR’d TV recordings to PCs, Macs, iOS devices, and Android devices, even outside the home. It’s similar in function to Dish’s Hopper DVR, but because the recordings are stored in the cloud, it could eventually allow for new features such as unlimited tuners and unlimited storage, GigaOM reports.


Lawyer wants to sue Google over celeb photo hack – With the recent celebrity photo hacking scandal, iCloud was quickly pointed to as a reason for us seeing far too much of those affected. Apple was quick to respond by pointing out the breach occurred by brute force, and not as a result of their lax security. Now, a lawyer representing some of the celebrities affected, is suing Google.


Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach – Data breaches seem to be a daily occurrence of late, with companies left and right reporting they’ve been hacked. The latest puts the info grab a little too close to home, though, as JP Morgan Chase reveal they’ve been compromised. The scope of the breach makes it the largest we’ve ever seen. According to the banking giant, about 76 million households were compromised. Seven million small businesses were also affected, according to the nation’s largest bank. Via a regulatory filing today, Chase says names, phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses were snatched.

USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix – In July, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell announced that they’d found a critical security flaw they called BadUSB, allowing attackers to smuggle malware on the devices effectively undetected. Even worse, there didn’t seem to be a clear fix for the attack. Anyone who plugged in a USB stick was opening themselves up to the attack, and because the bad code was residing in USB firmware, it was hard to protect against it without completely redesigning the system. The only good news was that Nohl and Lell didn’t publish the code, so the industry had some time to prepare for a world without USB. As of this week, that’s no longer true.

Check the permissions: Android flashlight apps criticised over privacy – Security firm SnoopWall warns that torch apps are requesting more access to users’ data than they need.

Rising interest in IT security careers  – Demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 3.5 times faster than the overall IT job market, and 12 times faster than the total labor market.

Company News:

Apple and Google could be in crosshairs of Australian tax inquiry – Major international companies such as Apple and Google could soon have their accounts put under the microscope in Australia as part of a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.

Facebook apologizes for manipulating news feeds in psychology experiment – In June, Facebook researchers announced the results of a 2011 study that manipulated the news feeds of nearly a million user news feeds to see how positive or negative posts affected user behavior. The experiment only encompassed a tiny fraction of Facebook’s more than 1.3 billion users, but saw incredible backlash from users who hadn’t been asked if they wanted to partake in the study. Today, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer finally apologized in a blog post, and outlined plans for more structured research in the future.

Angry Birds maker Rovio lays off 130 staff and tries to ‘reignite growth’ – Layoffs affect 16% of Finnish firm’s workforce as it focuses on its games, media and consumer products businesses.


Kim Dotcom parts ways with Baboom: ‘The music industry hates me’ Digital music company confirms it has ‘severed all ties’ with its own founder, as it plans full launch in early 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

Wasteland 2: 10 hours in the desert of death – Set decades after a nuclear apocalypse, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 role-playing classic. After choosing a small group of differently skilled survivors, players must head out into the heat-blasted wilderness to investigate the murder of an important tribal leader. This is what happened in my first 10 hours.


Tower Dwellers Hits Android After Successfully Defending on iOS – At first glance Tower Dwellers is just another tower defense game—after all, “tower” is right there in the name. However, this game has a fun twist on the traditional gameplay that allows you to mix and match abilities to create a custom fighting force that will (hopefully) stop the waves of baddies in their tracks. This game launched on iOS a few months ago, but it has now made its way to Android.


Best mobile games of September 2014 – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in September 2014.


This train has zombies on it, and you can shoot them – Sure you can go trick-or-treating with the kids on Halloween. Or maybe go see a scary movie. Or even attend an epic costume party. But if you really want to get in the mix — you know, get your heart pumping and your hands dirty — what you want to do is book yourself aboard the Zombie Train. On the train, you’ll be armed with a laser gun and have the chance to shoot your way through hoardes of zombies looking to board your compartment and eat your brains (or at least your packets of travel snacks). “The ZOMBIE TRAIN is the most unique train ride in North America,” says the attraction’s website. “Be among the first to ride through an apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies in Sacramento’s newest attraction, the Zombie Train! One part passenger train, one part zombie killing machine, this one-of-a-kind experience arms passengers with laser rifles to pick-off walking zombies along the tracks.”


An Hour’s Worth of Bloodborne Gameplay That’s Kind of Amazing – An alpha tester just uploaded an hour’s worth of high-definition video of grueling hack-and-slash Bloodborne gameplay.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella and how Office needs to be dramatically better – In a 17 minute interview with Bloomberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates gives his opinions on Bitcoin, mobile payments, Tim Cook, and that improving Office needs to be one of Nadella’s top focuses.


Guy legally trolls Instagram by registering domain about magical duck – A Redditor registered the domain and, when Instagram sent him a cease and desist letter, responded by claiming the domain is for a fictitious fantasy tale about a duck named Slütsöf who travels throughout the land of Stagram. “Slütsöf in Stagram.” She has a goat brother named Whöresof. He responded to Instagram’s letter, though, claiming that the company doesn’t own the alpahbet, and any similarities to their service are simply unfortunate. It’s obviously a joke, but the Redditor kind of has a point.

Vicious great white shark battle caught on camera – Great white sharks don’t fight each other often, but when they do, it’s no-teeth-barred.


Would a curfew for men be good for society? – Back in the early 70s, Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel, was faced with a government cabinet full of men discussing how best to curb a wave of violent rapes. The idea of banning women from the streets after dark was floated. Meir made a counteroffer. “Men are attacking women,” she said. “Not the other way around. If there is going to be a curfew, let the men be locked up, not the women.” Ultimately, the idea was dismissed as unworkable. But since then it has been seriously considered by a handful of communities around the world. This time, it’s Bucaramanga—a city in the Colombian state of Santander—that will be taking up Meir’s metaphorical baton. Next week—on Thursday, October 9—the city of just under 600,000 will experience its first “women-only” night as part of a campaign launched by the state governor’s office.

Crystal invented that can store, release, and replenish oxygen on command – In what sounds like the most efficient weapon that an alien race can threaten the human populace with, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have invented a crystal that pulls oxygen from a room and even water. According to the researchers, only a bucket full of the crystalline material is needed for the effect to take place. The substance is a salt made from cobalt, and aside from rhyming, is capable of slurping up oxygen at 160 times the concentration of the air we breathe.


Drone Captures Epic Footage of Iceland Volcano Eruption – If you want to capture close-up video of a volcano erupting, you better be prepared to risk your life. Unless, of course, you have a drone. The folks at drone company DJI recently took a trek to Iceland to capture the massive Bardarbunga Volcano erupting, and the footage is nothing short of amazing.


Something to think about:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

–    John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

PCMark – With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business.

What makes PCMark 8 different from other benchmarks? Real-world relevance.

With PCMark 8 you measure and compare PC performance using real-world tasks and applications. We’ve grouped these applications into scenarios that reflect typical PC use in the home and at the office.

This approach ensures that PCMark measures the things that matter, highlighting performance differences that will be apparent to end users and consumers.


SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect WiFi Guard is an essential tool for everyone running a small WiFi network and striving to keep it secure. Generally, modern WiFi networks are well protected, but there is a number of weaknesses that can compromise your WiFi password; this includes vulnerabilities in encryption and brute force attacks. As a result, someone can gain unauthorised access to your Internet and LAN, exploit them and stay unnoticed.

You may think: it’s ok, who cares, I have got an uncapped plan. But what about someone reading your personal emails, stealing private information or breaking the law online while using your Internet connection?

Here comes our little application that allows you to know immediately if your network is used without your knowledge. It’s a specalised network scanner that runs through your network at set intervals and reports immediately if it has found any new connected devices that could possibly belong to an intruder.



Pointing up    SoftPerfect WiFi Guard running in my system tray.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA and me – James Bamford literally wrote the book on the National Security Agency, spending 30 years obsessively documenting the secretive agency in print. Today, for the first time, he tells the story of his brief turn as an NSA whistleblower.

(A very long but comprehensive article.)

Let slip the doges of war: Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws – After new national security surveillance powers were ushered through Australian parliament this week, one Senator has called on the internet to protest further national security reforms through mass meme power.

Senator Scott Ludlam has been an outspoken critic of the three tranches of anti-terrorism legislation that are currently making their way through the two houses of Australian parliament, backed by both major political parties.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 2, 2014

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors;  Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights;  It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK;  How to recover deleted photos from a memory card;  4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity;  TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows;  How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities;  Windows 10 beta now available to download;  No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway;  How to extend your camera’s battery life;  PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool;  How to prevent phishing attacks on Android;  FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan;  Here’s a look at 30 years of Windows;  ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things;  Free Video Call Recorder for Skype.

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

Encryption IS for the children; it’s the gift of electronic privacy rights – Top U.S. government officials are freaking out over Apple and Android smartphone encryption plans, using “think of the children” arguments, but why can’t the encryption argument be made “for the children” and for the sake of their future privacy rights?


ComputerCOP: the dubious “Internet Safety Software” given to US families – The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting those keystoke logs over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.

It’s now legal to make backups of movies, music, and e-books in the UK – Back in June, the United Kingdom outlined new copyright rules that would allow citizens to make backups of their music, movies, and e-books. Previously, making copies of media was illegal. Today, those laws officially go into effect. It is, however, still illegal to share those backups with friends or family, and making copies of rented media, or media that a person pays a subscription for (like Rdio or Netflix) likewise remains illegal.

4 Apps That Will Supercharge Your Productivity – Not enough hours in the day? These tools can help you get it all done.

How to recover deleted photos from a memory card – Just deleted an important batch of images from your memory card? Never fear, here’s how to undelete them for Mac and PC users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

TiVo’s Android app now lets you stream recorded TV shows – TiVo’s Android app now streams programming saved on your DVR. It also has added capabilities to serve as a hub for all your TiVo services, including controlling the TiVo box as well as showing cast information and other details about the show you’re watching.

How to change settings for emergency alerts on your Android phone – The emergency alerts feature on modern smartphones is legitimately useful: It can warn you about dangerous weather conditions, natural disasters, AMBER alerts, or other important tidbits of information. But perhaps you already keep up on the news. Or maybe you don’t feel the need to be alerted about everything. If any of this sounds like you, you’ll be pleased to know that Android has a healthy array of options for managing emergency alerts.

How to Take Free Courses from Top Universities – You can continue your education with some amazing and free online resources available from top universities. These institutions offer many of their courses in the form of video lectures, audio transcripts and online quizzes. And some universities give you access to the professor and let you interact with other students taking the class. Want to give these free online courses a try? Here are the online education offerings from the top U.S. universities that we think are worth checking out.

No Web Design Experience? Try Microsoft Office Sway – The software giant on Wednesday introduced Sway, a new app in the Office portfolio that lets you pull together, format, and showcase your ideas online without any design experience. Users can search for content from sources like OneDrive, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or a phone or tablet’s camera roll without leaving the app, then drag and drop photos and videos directly into Sway. From there, simply add words, select a layout and style, or just let Sway do the formatting for you. It will display suggested combinations to consider, but allows for design tweaks or layout changes, at any time.


Facebook Apologizes To LGBT Community And Promises Changes To Real Name Policy – Facebook’s VP of Product Chris Cox made a statement today on Facebook apologizing (on behalf of the company, it seems) for any pain caused, and explaining how this situation came to be. The statement also included promises to improve the current real name policy to include all different types of people without risking the safety of other users.

Windows 8 drops in market share, Windows 7 continues dominance – It’s unexpected, but Microsoft’s latest operating system saw a slump in market share for August; Windows 8 and 8.1 both lost points for the month, while Windows 7 and XP continued to dominate.

Windows 10 beta now available to download—time to test the new Start menu – Microsoft released a technical preview of Windows 10 this morning, and it’s available for download here. System requirements are a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems or 2GB for 64-bit systems, 16GB of free hard disk space, and a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM driver. In other words, anything that’s capable of running Windows 8.1 can be moved to Windows 10. You can upgrade to the Windows 10 preview from either Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

Pointing up   Downloaded a copy this morning for installation on an old Core 2 Duo Processor 2.60 GHz. We’ll see how that goes.


How to extend your camera’s battery life – Here are some tips to help squeeze out every last bit of juice from your camera’s battery pack.

PlexiDrone is modular, customizable, and cool – Aerial photography is one of those things that makes drones cool. If you were in awe of the drone video from inside a fireworks show, a new drone might let you do the very same thing. What sets this one apart is modularity, and that you can use your own camera to film the action.


Internet Explorer still the most popular browser, IE8 dominates – Looking at the data, we see Internet Explorer is still the leading browser around the world, by a wide margin. But this is isn’t exactly in Microsoft’s favor as the newest version is still struggling.


Hacked celebrities ‘dumb’, says proposed EU digital commissioner – Günther Oettinger, the European Union’s proposed Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, gave a disappointing performance at his confirmation hearing, dodging questions and calling the victims of a recent data breach “dumb.” Critics said Oettinger’s remarks about the celebrities whose iCloud accounts were compromised, allowing hackers to release nude photos of them, showed he was unfit for the job of shoring up public confidence in the Internet.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Don’t Need the Internet to Chat With One Another – Smartphones should make it easier to organize protests, but they’re as good as bricks when cell towers get overloaded with traffic or when governments decide to flip the switch. In the face of these hang-ups, Hong Kong’s demonstrators have turned to FireChat, a smartphone app that allows users to communicate even when they can’t get online or send texts. Unlike chat programs that work over the Internet, FireChat connects directly to other nearby users within up to about 250 ft. More people in range can then join the chat, extending the network even further. Pretty soon you can get up to a few thousand people chatting away, all without anybody connected to the Internet. FireChat is based on mesh networking, in which every device on a network works as a node for expanding that network.


How to prevent phishing attacks on Android – Sometimes, it’s not easy to know if the URL you are about to tap on is trustworthy or not. Considering that there are over 26,000 active phishing sites, that can be rather daunting. Fortunately, there are apps like Phishing Detective available to help you out. Phishing Detective is a simple solution that helps you know if a URL is safe to view. What this app does not do (although it says it can) is automatically check after you’ve tapped it (and prevent its opening should it be a phishing site). Instead, you have to use it as a manual URL checker. Yes, this is a bit of a hassle, but an ounce of prevention…

Jimmy Kimmel tops McAfee’s list of ‘most dangerous celebrities’ – No, I’m not suggesting Kimmel is an embezzler — even of jokes. Rather he’s found himself at the top of McAfee’s most dangerous celebrity list. It seems that those with an eye to planting malware on your digital soul and viruses in your digital pores are choosing most to use Kimmel’s name as bait. McAfee warns: “When you search for videos and downloads of Jimmy Kimmel, you’ve got a 1 in 5 chance to click on a page that tests positive for viruses and other malware.”

You can send this SSD a text message to make it self-destruct – Maybe simply encrypting your hard drive isn’t enough — you want the maximum level of data security possible. If that’s the case and money is no object, the Autothysis128t could be the SSD of your dreams. This 128GB SSD has full hardware encryption support along with unique security and data destruction protocols. You can even shoot a text message to your drive and destroy all the data before your numerous enemies get their hands on it.


Google Triples Chrome Bug Bounties – Going bug hunting? If so, you might want to turn your attention and expertise to Google’s Chrome browser. The company has now tripled the maximum reward that you could earn for successfully finding an exploit and notifying Google about the issue. And that maximum is a suggestion, not a hard cap. If you find an especially compelling bug, and you could earn even more. Meanwhile, if you submitted and were rewarded for bug reports at any point since July 1, 2013, Google will retroactively pay you the higher reward.

Report: LulzSec leader directed cyberattacks while working for FBI – Hector Xavier Monsegur directed attacks against targets in the UK, Australia, Brazil and other countries, The Daily Dot is reporting.

Company News:

Microsoft: Free Windows licensing brought 50 new phone and tablet partners – Talking about the new licensing model Microsoft has implemented, Terry Myerson explained that it has been a success with 50 new partners signing up to build tablets and Windows Phone devices.


Germany Warns Google Over User Profiling Privacy Violations – The Hamburg Data Protection Authority warned Google yesterday that its user profiling activities are violating Germany’s Telemedia Act & Federal Data Protection Act, owing to the lack of explicit user consent to how the data is processed. The watchdog said significant changes are necessary to bring Google into legal compliance in Germany — specifying that it must gain user consent for the profiling, and allow users to control what their data is used for.

Google bows to pressure, removes news snippets from German search results – In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results. Google will just show a link to a story along with the headline for news sites such as, or, said Google Germany’s country manager Philipp Justus Wednesday. The decision is the result of ongoing legal action started by several German news publishers that are members of the collecting society VG Media. After Google refused to compensate the publishers, they sued in June to get a cut of the ad revenue the company makes when it republishes parts of their news articles.

LinkedIn stocks up on education tools to get new users even before college – LinkedIn is stocking up on new tools designed to attract younger internet users to the platform as these students make the steps on their professional journey, starting with college.


FCC pressure stops Verizon’s data throttling plan – Verizon was set to start throttling those users on unlimited data who had heavy data usage, but have reversed course. In response to heavy criticism from the public and FCC, Verizon is changing course, and will let those data hogs consume at their will.

Google shakes up cloud services market with another price cut – Google has fired back at Microsoft with cheaper cloud services, signaling another round of price cutting in an increasingly competitive market. Citing enhanced efficiency in its data centers as well as falling hardware costs, Google on Wednesday said it was cutting prices of its Google Compute Engine by about 10 percent for all instance types in every region.

ARM builds an OS for the Internet of Things – Called mbed OS, the operating system aims to provide a common software layer for securing and connecting the mass of devices expected to be hooked up to networks in the coming years, ranging from streetlights and gas meters to home appliances and pacemakers. Along with the OS, ARM plans to sell a piece of back-end software, called the mbed Device Server, that companies will use to collect data from IoT devices and make the data available for use by other services, such as analytics programs.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch this: The new Interstellar trailer is amazing – The concept of having or even wanting to leave Earth for good has long haunted humanity. Are we really destroying our planet, forcing decay acre by acre, or will the terra rebound and take its revenge? Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s attempt to answer the former without the latter, and the latest trailer for his film looks spectacular.


Skylanders Trap Team Review: Good Storytelling And Simple RPG Mechanics Succeed – The ‘Toys to Life’ category has been a much-needed savior for the gaming and toy industry alike, bolstering sluggish sales for both by anticipating a huge demand for real-life action figures that can be ‘brought to life’ for use in digital games. Activision’s Skylanders series pioneered the concept, and the originator is back with Trap Team, a new installment with the unique game mechanic of allowing players to ‘trap’ key villains in special physical play pieces, which makes them playable in-game as characters.


Borderlands: The Pre-sequel to launch on SteamOS alongside Windows – Despite Valve’s longstanding push to increase the profile of Linux gaming (and the Linux-based SteamOS that is still hanging out in beta), the growing list of Linux games on Steam remains dominated by smaller, independent titles and a few ports of big-name classics. So it’s worth paying attention to the fact that 2K Games has announced that Borderlands: The Pre-sequel will have full Linux/SteamOS support on the same day it launches on Windows machines and consoles, October 14. The announcement comes alongside news that 2K has also released a port of Borderlands 2 for SteamOS, and it’s offering the older game at a 75 percent discount to celebrate.


Movie theaters plan to block the first Netflix theatrical release – This is far from the first time theaters have responded like this to a simultaneous theatrical and digital release, but it is the first time Netflix has been put in this situation. Initially, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had hoped this initiative would encourage other studios to break out of the traditional model and explore simultaneous released, but if this block can’t be overcome somehow, you can bet that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Off Topic (Sort of):

So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code – IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x, and Organizer have now officially all passed their end of life support date and, according to IBM’s website, “No service extensions will be offered” – not that anyone is seriously using the spreadsheet any more. It’s a sadly muted end for what was, at one time, the world’s premier spreadsheet. Lotus 1-2-3 was one of the first applications that made IBM’s original PC a serious business tool, but it fell by the wayside due to poor coding decisions, failure to adapt, and the crushing tactics of Microsoft.

The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times – On 27 August 1883, the Earth let out a noise louder than any it has made since. It was 10:02 AM local time when the sound emerged from the island of Krakatoa, which sits between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. It was heard 1,300 miles away in the Andaman and Nicobar islands (“extraordinary sounds were heard, as of guns firing”); 2,000 miles away in New Guinea and Western Australia (“a series of loud reports, resembling those of artillery in a north-westerly direction”); and even 3,000 miles away in the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, near Mauritius* (“coming from the eastward, like the distant roar of heavy guns.”1) In all, it was heard by people in over 50 different geographical locations, together spanning an area covering a thirteenth of the globe.


The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena, 1888; Parker & Coward; via Wikipedia.

What Earth would be if humans were eradicated – We hear stories all the time about the effects humans have on our planet, such as the recent news that half of Earth’s wildlife has dwindled in the past handful of decades. What would happen if all humans disappeared from our planet, however? Earth Unplugged takes a look.


Why Your Geography Does Not Control Your Destiny – Now more than ever, geography no longer controls your destiny in the tech world. While fashion centers around cities like Paris and New York, oil and gas around Calgary and Houston, and cars in Detroit and Tokyo, good software and hardware companies are sprouting up everywhere. The trend is so rampant that “how I built my startup outside Silicon Valley” is no longer the most relevant story.

TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 3: IBM PC Model 5150 – This is the third installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the transistor to modern day chips on our connected devices.


Windows 10 arriving — here’s a look at 30 years of Windows – In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft about creating an operating system for its personal computers. Never having written an OS before, Microsoft simply bought an operating system called QDOS — or “Quick and Dirty Operating System” — and changed the name to MS Disk Operating System before licensing it to IBM. MS-DOS required you to type in arcane commands, so Microsoft set to work on making a new OS with a more accessible user interface. Codenamed ‘Interface Manager’, the OS used a mouse and onscreen drop-down menus, scroll bars and icons in boxes to control your computing. These “windows” gave a name to the software. Microsoft Windows was announced in 1983 and version 1.0 launched two years later on 20 November 1985.


Conservatives say that net neutrality equates to government takeover of the Internet – More than 2.4 million people have signed letters calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to stop its proposed “takeover” of the Internet in an effort by conservative activist group American Commitment to reframe the debate about the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules. The group said that it delivered the 2.4 million letters, urging Congress to stop the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding, to lawmakers this week.

Something to think about:

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”

–      Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Video Call Recorder for Skype – Free Video Call Recorder for Skype is an absolutely free application for recording Skype calls without any limitations. It has a very simple interface.

You don’t need to download or install any extra libraries to be able to use the program.

You just need to specify the mode you like, choose the output folder and press “Start”. If you don’t want to record some moments during the conversation, just click on “Pause”. In order to finish the record select “Stop”.

With its help one may record calls in the following modes:

Picture-in-picture (the program records audio and video of all sides of the conversation)

Only video of other sides

Only audio (all sides)

All video records are saved in mp4 format that is easy to playback on a player.

For audio calls the program creates an mp3 file that is supported by most modern players.


Risen3D – Risen3D is an advanced Doom port by Graham Jackson based on Jaakko Keranen’s Doomsday port.


Advanced algorithms provide more accurate rendering in OpenGL.

Full Boom and MBF compatibility.

Super fast rendering of OpenGL graphics.

Slopes and 3D floors.

Md2 models, particle effects and high resolution texture options.

Skybox support.

Translucent water and underwater effects.

Outside fog support for maps that require it.

Model activation capability using the R3D scripting method.

Mobj spawning using the R3D scripting method

Detailed texture support.

Dedicated smart Launcher for easy launching and pwad management.

Uncapped frame rate for smoother game play.

Definition and dehacked editing capabilities.

Basic Doom mode option

Water splashes, ambient sounds, scrolling skies and stealth monsters.

In game texture alignment using the R3D Edit mode.


Yawcam – Yawcam is a shortening for Yet Another WebCAM software, and that’s exactly what it is 😉 More precise Yawcam is a webcam software for windows written in java. The main ideas for Yawcam are to keep it simple and easy to use but to include all the usual features.


Video streaming

Image snapshots

Built-in webserver

Motion detection


Text and image overlays

Password protection

Online announcements for communities

Scheduler for online time

Time lapse movies

Run as a Windows service

Multi languages

Yawcam is freeware. However, if you enjoy using Yawcam and would like to help support its development, please consider making a donation.

Limitations: Requires Sun Java Runtime Environment installed.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors – Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is “worrisome” that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said during a Tuesday speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online conference. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Holder’s remarks, while he did not mention any particular company by name, come two weeks after Apple announced its new iPhone 6 models would be equipped with data encryption that prevents authorities from accessing the contents of the phone. At the same time, Google said its upcoming Android operating system will also have default encryption.

The encryption decision by two of the world’s biggest names in tech is a bid to gain the trust of customers in the wake of the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations.

Holder said he wants a backdoor to defeat encryption. He urged the tech sector “to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators.”

California bill limits the surveillance of student social media posts – Social media is an established part of life at this point, but how society deals with it is still be worked out. For a long while, it wasn’t uncommon for employers to demand access to accounts, and many have been fired over what they choose to share. Schools often monitor students’ social media accounts, and a new California bill has specifically targeted that.

Majority Say Brennan Violated Checks and Balances, and Must Go – According to a new poll, a sizeable majority of American voters believe CIA officials violated the constitutional system of checks and balances when they hacked into computers being used by Senate staffers investigating torture.

And by a two-to-one margin (54 percent to 25 percent, with 22 percent not sure) they believe that CIA Director John Brennan should resign on account of the misleading statements he made about the incident.

The Public Policy robo-poll of 898 registered voters was commissioned by the Constitution Project, a highly-respected non-partisan group that has been active in calling attention to the lack of accountability for the torture of detainees during the last administration.

The poll found overwhelming public support for release of a long-completed report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The report is said to disclose abuse that was more brutal, systematic and widespread than generally recognized, and to expose a pattern of deceit in the Bush administration’s descriptions of the program to Congress and the public.

But despite having been completed in December 2012, the report remains inaccessible to the public. Most recently, the White House and the CIA have proposed redactions that Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein said effectively undermine its key findings.

Fully 69 percent of those polled said they support releasing a declassified version of the report “to establish the historical record and to find out more about what happened”; compared to 22 percent who chose the option of not making the report public “because the findings might be damaging or embarrassing”.

Perhaps most strikingly, those numbers were nearly identical across party lines — Democratic, Republican and independent.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 1, 2014

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet?  Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn”;  Microsoft Announces Windows 10;  Windows 10 in pictures;  Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal;  Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network?  Spotify launches across Canada (finally);  Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free;  Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud;  How to create digital floor plans;  Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness;  Free app makes it easy to score hugs;  Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor;  Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India;  No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software;  Trust in cloud security at all-time low;  Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS.

3 essential security tasks – have you done them yet? – Tomorrow marks a year since we published our ‘3 essential security tasks’, so we thought we’d revisit it to ask if you’ve done them all. If you haven’t, there’s still time!

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 – This morning at an event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the next version of its Windows operating system: Windows 10. The company went on to detail that its new operating system will have a tailored user experience between different screen sizes — that’s to say that if you are on a smaller device, you will see a different sort of user interface. The code will run across all device categories: “One product family. One platform. One store.”


Windows 10 in pictures: A new Start menu puts focus back on the desktop – Multiple desktops and new application views make Windows 10 more PC-friendly.


How to get Windows 10’s best new features today – A Start Menu, the ability to run Metro apps in desktop windows, and more are coming to Windows 10, but you can get the best features today thanks to some helpful software.

Need help? Microsoft Stores offer free tech support, PC tune-ups, malware removal – If you don’t have a geeky friend handy, PC problems often mean dragging your computer down to the Geek Squad or local PC shop, where you’ll be charged a crazy amount of money to have malware removed or speed up a slowing PC. No more! If you live near a Microsoft Store some of the peskiest PC problems can now be fixed in-person for free. Microsoft’s retail locations recently started offering their Windows-focused answer to Apple’s Genius Bar: the Answer Desk.

Should you be afraid of Facebook’s massive new ad network? – Facebook just launched a potentially massive new ad network called Atlas. According to a headline in The New York Times, Atlas “opens the gates” to Facebook’s “vault of user data.” It sounds like a PR disaster waiting to happen — the kind of thing that’s going to startle local news. It also sounds like Google, the market leader in digital ads, should be very afraid — but should you?

Students Can Get Unlimited Google Drive Storage for Free – Google on Tuesday announced a new version of Drive that is free for students. Described as an “infinitely large, ultra-secure and entirely free bookbag for the 21st century,” the new Drive for Education offering will be available to all Google Apps for Education customers at no charge. It includes unlimited storage (with a 5TB per-file size limit) plus access to the Google Apps Vault for your message archiving needs.

How to create digital floor plans – Looking for an easy way to see how your furniture will look in a different arrangement? How about what to do with an oddly shaped room? Check out the HomeStyler website to make a digital floor plan.


The 3D view of a floor plan created with HomeStyler.

Spotify launches across Canada (finally) – We’ve seen hints of it before, and now it has finally happened: Spotify has officially launched in Canada, just time for those long winter months spent indoors. The announcement came from the company itself this morning, and includes service across your mobile devices in addition to the Web.

Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS – Popcorn Time, the so-called Netflix for pirates, is now on iOS. It’s never been easier to watch pirated movies and TV shows on the iPhone or Android device. Is it illegal? Not really. Shady and not exactly ethical? Sure. Not surprisingly, Apple didn’t give the official nod to this app so Popcorn Time cannot be found in the App Store. That said, it’s still easy to obtain and install the needed software as long as you’re willing to jailbreak your iOS device.


32 iOS 8 Tips Every Apple Fan Should Know – iOS has a ton of new features and tricks under the hood, things the average user may never notice or care about. But power users of the iPhone—those of us who exploit that pocket computer as a lifeline to the office and home—will benefit highly by mastering them. Apple opened up iOS more to the makers of wearables (via HealthKit) and even to third-party app makers who now have some unprecedented (for Apple) access to the hardware. It all adds up to the best iPhones yet.

Nightmare iOS 8 bug deletes your entire iCloud – The feature causing all the fuss is “Reset All Settings,” which is supposed to change all the system preferences back to system defaults. This shouldn’t have any affect on files, but users are reporting that the device is actually deleting all local iWork documents, a change that is then synced up to the iCloud backup, thus deleting everything across all iOS devices. Oops.

Good2Go App Assesses Sexual Willingness – Available for iOS and Android, the service aims to ensure that both partners explicitly approve of sexual activity before jumping into bed. But the app takes precaution a few steps further, gauging your date’s sobriety level and requiring him or her to verify their identification with a phone number and G2G password (new users can register via the app). There are any number of scenarios that can play out via the Good2Go app, starting with a flat-out “No, thanks,” which immediately shuts down the possibility of hanky panky. The second, “Yes, but we need to talk,” means both parties can discuss boundaries (or lack thereof) ahead of the action. Or, just get on with it by pressing “I’m Good2Go.”


Path takes laziness to a new level with business messaging – Now a messaging app will call businesses for you and then message you their answers. We’ve reached peak messaging.

Meet Matchstick, Mozilla’s $25 Chromecast competitor – We’ve been hearing whispers for a little while about a Chromecast competitor from Mozilla that was geared towards supporting a fully open source environment, and it looks like the company plan to head to Kickstarter in order to fund this little streaming stick. It’s going to be called Matchstick, and there can be no doubt that the purpose of this stick is to try and sway users away from Google’s Chromecast.


Silicon Valley’s Newest Dating App Is ‘Tinder Without the Poor People’ – All ‘date a rich person’ services are appalling enough, but today, I present to you a new low: LUXY, the app that is literally being pitched as “Tinder without the poor people.” A press release for LUXY, written by Darren Shuster of Pop Culture Public Relations, is circulating today, and it is both a shining new milestone in the burgeoning pantheon of offensive apps and a fascinating testament to the increasing obliviousness of Silicon Valley. First, I give you the release, in all of its repulsive, bafflingly tone-deaf glory:


Pushbullet ‘Channels’ Add Custom Notifications on Android, iOS – Channels are essentially a way to plug RSS feeds into Pushbullet so you can get notified of almost any event with rich notifications on iOS or Android. There are several pre-existing channels to subscribe to, or you can make your own. On the server side, a Pushbullet Channel will send out an alert to all subscribed users when a feed updates. For example, if there’s a new Oatmeal cartoon or a new Humble Bundle is posted. The alert shows up in the Android notification shade or iOS Notification Center, depending on your platform of choice. On Android there are action buttons with options to copy or share the link in addition to opening it.


Cuddle curious? Free app makes it easy to score hugs – Working much like other social GPS-based apps, Cuddlr finds people who want a hug within walking distance and shows their name, picture and cuddle reviews. Make contact with your cuddling partner, then see real-time walking directions to get to each other. If the cuddle is up to your standards, give a thumbs-up. If it’s a bit too intense or sexual, you can report the user. The app even allows for cuddle selfies.


Keep any application ‘always on top’ in Windows – Want to keep one window as your focus, but the application doesn’t have an option for always on top? Check out this tip on how to use the always on top functionality with any software.

Edit your rooted Android hosts file to block ad servers – If you’re looking for the best way to block ads from reaching your rooted Android device, Jack Wallen shows you how to manually edit your hosts file.


Free is good: No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software – Antivirus suites are only as good as their latest tests. And in’s latest roundup for July and August, the usual suspects—BitDefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Symantec—came out on top. The same holds true for the free options. If you’re a cheapskate, you can download Panda Security’s free cloud antivirus and have a good chance that it will catch everything that the shadowy corners of the Web can throw at it—as it did in AV-test’s own proving ground.


Cisco, Oracle find dozens of their products affected by Shellshock – Cisco has identified 71 products so far that are exposed to the vulnerability. These products serve various purposes, including network application, service and acceleration; network content and security; network management and provisioning; routing and switching; unified computing; voice and unified communications; video, streaming, TelePresence and transcoding. The number of Cisco products vulnerable to Shellshock and related bugs far exceeds the 38 confirmed not to be vulnerable. The company is reviewing an additional 168 products and hosted services, so the list of vulnerable products is likely to increase.

Trust in cloud security at all-time low: Execs still betting on the cloud – A new report on IT decision makers shows enterprise trust in cloud security at its lowest — yet they’re flocking to use it. OpenStack’s Matt Joyce thinks it’s fair to ask if everyone’s gone nuts.

Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters who use Apple devices – A malware program that targets Hong Kong activists using Apple devices has trademarks of being developed by a nation-state, possibly China, according to a security company. Lacoon Mobile Security of San Francisco wrote on its blog on Tuesday that the malware, called Xsser mRAT, is the “first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date.”

For better privacy, change these iOS 8 settings – Before you sync your iCloud or reinstall your apps, you need to lock down your iPhone or iPad. Here are seven important tweaks (and more) you can set to bolster your privacy.

Trend Micro to share threat information with Interpol – Security software provider Trend Micro will share its threat information analysis with global police agency Interpol for the next three years, in a bid to bridge the gap in information sharing between the public and private sectors.

Company News:

Facebook Is Just an ‘Ad Platform,’ Says CEO of Ad-Free Social Network ‘Ello’ – Ello, an ad-free, invitation-only social network, has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” after its August launch, but even that characterization might be giving Facebook too much credit, according to Ello’s feisty CEO. “We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor,” said Paul Budnitz in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “We consider them to be an advertising platform more than a social network.”

Germany orders Google to stop illegal user data processing – As part of an EU-wide crackdown on Google’s data collection practices, Germany has ordered the company to change its user data processing, which is in violation of the country’s laws. Google violates the German Federal Telemedia Act and the Federal Data Protection Act when it collects and combines user data, the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) said Tuesday.Google was ordered to take the necessary technical and organizational measures to guarantee its users can decide on their own if, and to what extent, their data is used for profiling.

Reddit gets $50 million in funding and will share 10 percent of that with its users – The front page of the internet has a lot more money in the bank, with Reddit confirming $50 million in new funding. More interesting than the amount raised, however, was that investors promised 10 percent of their new equity in the company will be shared with community members, a highly unusual move. While the exact mechanics of how these shares will be distributed to users is not yet clear, lead investor Sam Altman told The Verge that it will most likely use a block chain method similar to the systems used to create and distribute Bitcoin.

eBay And PayPal To Split Into Two Separate Companies – eBay and PayPal are going their separate ways, with the payments company moving out from under the eBay umbrella to form its own, publicly-traded company. The move follows a strategic review conducted by eBay, Inc. and its Board of Directors, and is intended to help both businesses grow faster in their respective markets. The spin-out of PayPal is expected to be complete by the second half of 2015, provided all regulators sign-off on the agreement.

Microsoft will offer locally hosted cloud services in India – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wooed India’s government and banks on Tuesday with an offer to host cloud services including Azure and Office 365 in the country. The Indian government has been pushing organizations to hold data locally, and Nadella’s move could help drive business for the company from federal and state government customers, as well as banks. Microsoft will deliver the cloud services from data centers in three Indian cities by the end of 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

I’m not crazy (but I did buy a $450 HOTAS Warthog joystick) – Review: It’s everything you want in a joystick and throttle—but is it worth the cash?


2048 and 6 Other Games to Help You Survive the Commute – There are so many games in the App Store and Google Play that it might be difficult to find the perfect match of an addictive, yet quick gameplay. But there are several games that are bound to make time fly by on your daily commute. Just remember to get off at your stop.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: A shadow of its own ambition – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s style, and its very existence, owe a lot to Warner Bros. and its other big licensed gaming series of the past few years: the Batman: Arkham games. Rather than push a license through excessive crunch time to coincide with a new movie, the Arkham model let Warner Bros. put the time into developing a game with an original story that would stand the test of time. The game draws both the evergreen franchise fanatics and those not automatically drawn to the license’s source material.


Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments review: The definitive Sherlock adventure – The world’s most famous detective is back with a great set of mysteries as Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes series just keeps getting better.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Survey finds fear, anxiety accompany forced Internet unplugging – It’s fairly common knowledge that Americans have a serious dependency on the Internet. But according to a new report released today by Tata Communications, that dependency is accompanied by some intense psychological and physical repercussions. In its “Connected World II” global survey, Tata Communications found that one in four Americans admit they wouldn’t survive more than five hours without using the Internet in their daily life, and more than half (54 percent) admitted feelings of fear, anger and anxiety when forced to unplug.

Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against “revenge porn” – “Revenge porn” is a term that’s developed over the last few years to refer to the posting of nude images without the consent of those pictures. After a spate of publicity surrounding some of the bad actors in this business, several states have passed laws outlawing “revenge porn” and applying penalties. Now, a coalition of businesses and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit (PDF) challenging the anti-revenge-porn laws. They’ve picked Arizona as their battleground. One of the lead lawyers on the case, Michael Bamberger, told the National Law Journal that Arizona’s law is “probably the most egregious,” because it has no requirement that the images even be malicious, and it could include images taken in a “commercial or public setting.” “This is a supposed revenge-porn statute that does not require revenge,” said Bamberger.

Cops suspect that alleged thieves monitored them with a drone – Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township’s police headquarters the day before the arrests.


76 of 79 deceased NFL players’ brains had evidence of degenerative disease – New data from the United States’ largest repository of human brain samples has shown that an overwhelming majority of NFL players who submitted their brains for analysis after their death suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository, based in Massachusetts, found that 76 of 79 former pro players had evidence of the condition, which can be caused by repeated head trauma.

Fascinating gif visualises the patterns of flight – A beautiful gif deconstructs the wing motions of a bat, a goose, a moth, a dragonfly and a hummingbird to reveal the looping patterns therein.


Latest UK Study Reveals How Children Think Online and the Brands They Trust – The Office of Communications, commonly known as OfCom, the UK communication industry’s regulator and competition authority, recently released a report with Sherbert Research on children’s online behaviour, particularly how they think about and manage online risks and what sources online they trust. The purpose of the study is also to further understand how children display critical thinking online. In doing so, they aim to answer these two questions:

Something to think about:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

–     William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

WSUS Offline Update 9.4.1 – WSUS Offline Update provides you with a secure way to update your operating system and Microsoft Office applications, creating a locally stored package that contains the latest patches and the most recent security updates. Thereby, you can use the downloaded files in order to perform system updates on any Windows machine in the absence of an Internet connection.

Focusing on functionality rather than looks, the application features a simplistic interface that only comprises a few options dedicated to customizing the downloading operation.

It supports various editions of the Windows operating system, namely Server 2003, XP, Visa, Server 2008, 2008 R2, Server 2012, 7, 8 and 8.1. As for the Office suite, it can download the latest updates for the 2007, 2010 or 2013 editions, in various languages.


Ann Free Video Converter – Free easy to use and powerful video conversion tool from a leader in modern video compression. Almost all video formats can be converted. Ann Free Video Converter can freely convert all video formats to AVI, IPOD, PSP, MPEG, MOV, WMV, RMVB video files, and extract audio to MP3 files.


Super fast conversion speed and Video enhancement filters

User-friendly interface that is easy to use

Freely convert all formats to MPEG1/2 DVD,vcd,svcd

Freely convert all formats to PSP, IPOD

Freely convert all formats to mov

Freely convert all video formats to AVI/WMV/RMVB/Divx/Xvid

Convert video formats to popular MP3 audio files

Convert between all popular video formats including AVI, MPEG, WMV, MPEG1/2/4, MP4, DVD, VCD, SVCD, MOV, RM

Option to preview the video in real-time

High speed: Ann Video Converter includes Super Encode and Decode Engine, which is much faster than other encoding engines. It brings you an advanced and high speed converting experience. You do not need to wait hours and hours; it runs 300% – 500% real time speed.

High quality video and audio: All encoders/decoders are built in and video enhancement filters are included

Supports almost all popular format conversions


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

US Attorney General latest to roast Apple, Google mobe encryption – Yet another US official has played the “think of the children” card, taking Apple and Google to task for implementing stronger encryption policies in their mobile platforms.

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said that child predators could use the encryption settings in mobile platforms to evade authorities and hide illegal images and content on their devices from law enforcement.

Holder, who didn’t list any companies by name, said that the new encryption policies were “worrisome” for law enforcement. Speaking to a meeting of the Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, Holder stressed the idea of shutting down safe havens for child predators.

“We would hope that technology companies would be willing to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators,” Holder said.

#HeyASIO: Twitter hits back at new terror laws in Australia – A move to grant Australia’s security agency broad new powers has not scared the internet, with Twitter users mocking the changes mercilessly.

Last night, the Senate passed new laws to grant the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) power to, essentially, monitor the entire country’s internet usage with only one warrant.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman and barrister Greg Barns has slammed the laws, saying the spy agency could do “an enormous amount under one warrant”.

Australia has no specific laws that protect privacy, so innocent people who may be monitored have “very little by way of redress in legal terms”.

Mr Barns told the law had been drafted in “such a shoddy way” as to allow the agency to spy on as many as five million Australians with one warrant.

“Effectively it’s zero for the internet user and 10 for ASIO. We think it’s of enormous concern,” he said. The internet has hit back in its own way, with the hashtag #HeyASIO trending in Australia. (recommended by Mal C.)

Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression? – According to most of the broadsheets, if there is a Conservative government after the next General Election, the European Court of Human Rights will no longer be able to overrule British courts.

Under plans unveiled today at the Conservative Conference, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to state that a future Conservative government will introduce laws ensuring that human rights cases are determined by Britain’s Supreme Court and not judges sitting in Strasbourg.

This is the Conservative response to an agonised cry: “Who will rid me of that troublesome law?” (and replace it with… well, we don’t know yet).

The dangers of this approach can be considered by reference to the DNA database and the case of Marper v UK, which provides a timely example of Mr. Grayling’s policy at work. This case was considered by the House of Lords, which judged that there was no human rights breach if the police indefinitely retained personal data that represented the DNA profile of a data subject – even when the data subject had not been found guilty of an offence.

The House of Lords judgment was overturned unanimously by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in S and Marper v UK; it was a 17-0 victory for Marper. This has resulted in the changes in UK law identified in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and now the DNA database focuses on the guilty.

However, if Mr. Grayling’s proposed policy of preventing appeals to the ECHR were in place, then DNA on the innocent would still be stored on police databases. It is as simple as that.

Hong Kong protesters side step censors with mesh networks – Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’re likely aware of the massive protests taking place in Hong Kong. What you might be less aware of is the effort being put in to keeping afloat despite censorship efforts: the protestors have started using mesh networks to get around attempts to shut them down.

FireChat has been used in some protests in the past, but has seen its first massive-scale use during the Hong Kong protests, with users taking advantage of the service to get around blocked and overloaded networks. It works in much the same way a protest does — every device becomes a little piece of the overall network, and the more devices near each other using it, the stronger the network grows.

The Central region of Hong Kong has remained full despite police attempts to prod the protesters away, including violent measures like tear gas. Umbrellas have had an iconic presence in the protest, earning it the term the Umbrella Revolution. In light of its failed efforts, the Chinese government has taken to censoring media outlets.

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