Monthly Archives: November 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 28, 2014

Facebook updates terms of usage;  Victoria’s Secret silently launches heart-sensing bra;  How and why to move your media to Google Drive;  Personalize the Windows Explorer Navigation Bar;  Your Christmas Gaming Guide;  Weather.com fixes web app flaws;  Scout Alarm review: DIY home security you’ll want;  Apple to wind down iPhone 5c production;  Microsoft fined $140 million in China;  Alibaba plans to invest more in India;  10 excellent movies to stream on Netflix over Thanksgiving weekend;  Aomei Partition Assistant (free);  10 killer Black Friday gaming deals.

Facebook updates terms of usage, lets users opt out of app usage tracking – Facebook has started notifying its users about the upcoming changes to its privacy policy which will be applicable starting January 1st and has now made it possible to opt out of app usage tracking.

Digital detox for smartphone addiction: There’s an app for that – Can’t stop checking your messages? Real life events like going to the cinema or taking your partner to dinner getting in the way of reading your emails? Then the solution to your problem could well be at hand, in the form of a digital detox that offers you time out from the online world. How do you do that? With an app, of course.

Personalize the Windows Explorer Navigation Bar – Want to find a favorite folder quickly? Here’s how to configure your favorites and libraries in Windows 7 and 8’s file managers.

Twitter Experiments With Engagement Stats Directly In Tweets – Want to know just how many people actually care about what you’re tweeting? A new Twitter experiment spotted by ex-Twitter platform head Ryan Sarver will show many you how users are clicking on the links in the updates you post, with a handy link directly in the expanded Tweet view in the iOS application. As usual with Twitter’s features, this is limited to a small sample pool of users at first, but could roll out more widely if deemed successful.

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How and why to move your media to Google Drive – Did you know that moving videos and images to Google Drive not only improves access to the files but also reduces your on-site storage needs? Andy Wolber explains.

Victoria’s Secret silently launches heart-sensing bra – Wearable devices are in fashion. Don’t believe it yet? Just ask Victoria’s Secret. The famous lingerie retailer has just outed, albeit without much fuss or fanfare, a new bra named “Incredible” that incredibly has its own heart-rate sensor inside. Designed for athletes and women with active lifestyles, this bra will allow users to be updated of their heart’s status without having to wear conspicuous or uncomfortable straps. That said, you’ll still need to wear or at least attach some monitor of sorts to go with it.

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The Most Popular Enterprise Sync and Share Product Might Surprise You – 451 Research released a report this week with details on the enterprise sync and share market and what they found may surprise you. The report, which surveyed over 1000 IT pros in October and asked them about the sync and share tools in use in their companies, found that Dropbox was the enterprise leader by far with more than 40 percent of responders saying their companies used that. The next in line was OneDrive with just over 25 percent followed by Google in third with over 20 percent and Box in fourth with just under 15 percent. All the rest had less than 10 percent.

Your Christmas Gaming Guide – We have put together a large guide to gaming gifts for Christmas. So if you are wondering what to buy a gamer for Christmas, look no further. We’ve covered the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC.

Security:

Syrian Electronic Army hacks online analytics system, prominent websites affected – The Syrian Electronic Army has reportedly hacked an online analytics system, which has resulted in parts of many websites showing popups and redirecting users away from the website.

Weather.com fixes web app flaws – The Weather Channel has fixed a common web application security problem on its website that made nearly all links vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks. Wang Jin, a doctoral student at the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, found more than 75 percent of the web pages on Weather.com were vulnerable.

Scout Alarm review: DIY home security you’ll want – DIY home security — it seems like everyone is doing it. After being privately funded, Scout is ready to toss their hat into the ring as well. The interesting thing with Scout is that you get a bit more off-the-grid security, but still remain connected. In bridging the gap between modern hardware and software in new ways, Scout is aiming to become the new darling of the home security world. Is Scout worthy of praise, or is their system too clumsy and dated for a modern world?

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Siemens patches critical SCADA flaws likely exploited in recent attacks – Siemens released security updates for several of its SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) products for industrial environments, in order to fix critical vulnerabilities that may have been exploited in recent attacks.

ACMA hones in on malware with internet security portal – The Australian Communications and Media Authority has launched its Australian Internet Security Initiative portal to give internet service providers access to information about what IPs in their networks are infected by malware.

Company News:

European Parliament Backs Investigation To Split Google Search From Its Other Businesses – To be very clear, this is not an enforceable vote, in that it doesn’t directly give regulators the mandate to force Google to break up. What it will mean is that European Commission and state competition authorities now have been given a green light to ask these questions of Google, and potentially lodge antitrust investigations that could result in more enforceable calls for Google to change how it does business in Europe, or potentially break up.

Apple to wind down iPhone 5c production after fewer than expected sales – It seems Apple learned a thing or two after its experiment to bring a ‘low cost’ iPhone for the masses which wasn’t actually that much cheaper at all. Now the 5c will fade into history, very soon.

Microsoft fined $140 million in China over a similar issue that was investigated by the IRS – Microsoft has been fined in China roughly $140 million for cross-border tax evasion in that country which is quite similar to that which was investigated by the IRS.

Alibaba plans to invest more in India – E-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has promised to invest more in India, where online sales are soaring, predicting that the internet will transform the country’s future.

GoPro flies towards consumer drone market – The wearable video camera creator is taking its business plans a step further by experimenting with consumer drones.

Games and Entertainment:

Space Age Is An Old-School Adventure Built For Mobile – Fans of adventure games will find Space Age’s $4 entry fee well spent. Whether you’re playing on a phone or tablet, the game’s touch controls are a perfect fit to the style of gameplay, and there’s not much else like it out there in the sea of free-to-play games and action-heavy premium titles on mobile today.

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10 excellent movies to stream on Netflix over Thanksgiving weekend – Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to gather on the couch and watch a good movie. While we’re sitting there, moaning in pain, having eaten too much yet again, and thinking about how miserable it was to travel, and how crazy our family members are, these 10 movies are a reminder that we’re not alone in the world. And, indeed, despite everything, there are many, many wonderful things about this time of year, and plenty of things to be thankful for. Like Netflix.

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Star Wars 7 trailers go unofficial: Watch the best fan-made – Leading up to the real-deal full-sized trailer for the 7th Star Wars film, a number of creators have made their own. Using all manner of Star Wars fan films, odd animations, and clips from earlier movies, these trailers aren’t 100% official, but they summon the feeling we’re all aiming to resurrect. Remember what it felt like when the first trailer for Episode I was released? Welcome back to the Dual of the Fates – with a lot more promise of greatness this time around.

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10 killer Black Friday gaming deals: Games, hardware, consoles, and more – Black Friday’s got some great gaming deals, provided you know where to look. We snagged the best deals we could find and threw them in here, from the R9 290X to the Alienware Alpha to Titanfall for $5.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘Star Trek’ began filming 50 years ago – The crew of the Enterprise walked in front of cameras for the first time on 27 November 1964 — but the legendary TV show nearly didn’t make it to the screen.

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“The guy with the ears” and the captain who isn’t Kirk: Leonard Nimoy and Jeffrey Hunter in the long-lost “Star Trek” pilot episode “The Cage.”

Alien spotting: Eight space theories you won’t believe other people believe – In an age of social media and renewed interest in space exploration, 2014 has also been a good year for speculative alien and UFO spotting. Crave’s Eric Mack rounds up some of the year’s craziest bits of “evidence.”

Lego Christmas tree lights up Sydney – A 10-metre tall Christmas tree built out of Lego stands tall in Sydney, Australia to celebrate the holiday season.

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Something to think about:

“Facts have a cruel way of substituting themselves for fancies. There is nothing more remorseless, just as there is nothing more helpful, than truth.”

–       William C. Redfield

Today’s Free Downloads:

Aomei Partition Assistant – Partition Assistant is a comprehensive disk partition solution, which includes a Partition Manager and Extend Partition Wizard for Windows 7/XP/2000/Vista and Server 2008/2003/2000. Besides, the magic partition utility can support all hard disks recognized by Windows such as IDE, SATA, SCSI, Hardware RAID, USB external disks, Fire wire disks etc. Partition Assistant provides powerful and professional features to manage disk partition including:

Extend NTFS system partition without restarting computer.

Resize and Move partition to optimize disk space management.

Extend Partition Wizard help you step by step expand the size of your selected partition.

Merge two or more partitions into a larger one.

Split one partition into two or more.

Create, Delete and Format partition.

Convert file system from FAT to NTFS.

Wipe permanently sensitive data to anti-recovery.

Repartition by drag & drop mouse on a disk panel.

Partition Assistant is a partition magic alternative. It has been widely used by many companies as well as individuals all around the globe with fine reputation, and the Home Edition is absolutely free of charge for personal users. You will be amazed by its cool functions and would like to recommand to your friends after you try our top-notch technologies.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 27, 2014

Watch Out For These 3 Holiday Online Shopping Scams;  Keeping Your Data Safe While Shopping For The Holidays;  Get 100 free MP3 albums from Microsoft;  Apps to Help You Survive a Flight Delay;  The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014;  How To Opt Out Of Twitter’s New Thing That Tracks Which Apps You Install;  WinBook 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $60;  Tumblr overtakes Instagram;  Windows 10: Another patch released;  Ubisoft apologizes for Assassin’s Creed;  The 10 Best Xbox One Games;  The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies;  Toolwiz Time Freeze (free).

Watch Out For These 3 Holiday Online Shopping Scams – Along with the amazing Internet deals come the scammers with new and inventive ways to trick you into handing over your credit card number and personal information. Here are three of the biggest scams to watch out for this holiday shopping season.

Keeping Your Data Safe While Shopping For The Holidays – The holiday shopping season is just around the corner with retailers planning blockbuster deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Cyber-criminals are expected to try to siphon off some of the money flowing online and in stores for themselves. Experts weigh in on how shoppers can protect their wallets.

Apps to Help You Survive a Flight Delay – We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but more than 200 flights have already been canceled this morning because of a Nor’easter that’s about to make this a white Thanksgiving. If you’re headed to (or are already in) an airport, you’re undoubtedly against eating an Au Bon Pain Newport Turkey sandwich with strangers instead of a turkey with all the trimmings surrounded by family. Or maybe not. Either way, you probably want to get where you’re going. So we’ve put together some apps to help you get a handle on what’s happening and maybe help you get home.

Get 100 free MP3 albums from Microsoft – For a limited time, Microsoft is offering 100 free albums when you install the company’s Music Deals app. That’s pretty incredible, but there’s a catch: only Windows 8 and Windows Phone users can take advantage of the giveaway. Also, it’s kind of a pain to get the albums, at least on a PC. (I haven’t tried on a phone.) It’s well worth the effort, though, as the freebies include lots of big-name artists: Eminem, U2, Katy Perry, Norah Jones, Mumford & Sons, James Taylor, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, Ellie Goulding and so on. Most of the albums are at least a year or two old, but that doesn’t make them any less appealing.

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The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014 – Adobe recently found that Internet TV watcher hours increased by 388 percent in the last year. On top of that, TV networks, such as HBO, CBS, and Univision are all bringing their offerings to Internet-only customers. I fully expect at least half-a-dozen other networks to follow these first three to Internet in 2015. So, what are the best devices to bring Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and all these other Internet TV video broadcasters to your home? Well, it depends.

Twitter ‘App Graph’ collects data about other apps you have – Twitter, the app, will soon starting looking around your home screen to see which other apps are there. In a blog post, the microblogging platform is announcing App Graph, which is just their way of finding out which apps you have on your phone. Twitter won’t be looking at your messages, or checking on your activity; they just want to know what apps you have on your phone. The reason, admits Twitter, is advertising. The more data they have, the better their ad network becomes.

How To Opt Out Of Twitter’s New Thing That Tracks Which Apps You Install – Is it the worst offense in the world? Nah — they’re not exactly perusing your browsing history and sending it to your grandmother, here. But it’s still irksome, particularly given that Twitter pitches it as something they’re doing for you but makes the whole thing opt-out instead of opt-in. Fortunately, turning the whole thing off right out of the gate is pretty straight forward.

Every Cyber Monday tech deal we’ve found – Skipping the Black Friday crowds doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the best deals. Lots of hot tech products are going on sale on Cyber Monday. We’re tracking them all here.

iPhone 6, 6 Plus users are leaving the iPad behind, says Pocket – If you use Pocket, you know how helpful it can be to tuck a webpage away for later viewing. Whether it be a long-form article or just something you don’t have time for, the ability to save for later is handy. In attempting to better understand their users, Pocket began analyzing how we consume via their service. Comparing iPads to iPhones, both new and not-so-new, Pocket found something that’s a bit unsurprising, but also proves a point: we read and watch more when using larger iPhones.

Skype finally adds picture-in-picture video chat for Android phones – This picture-in-picture feature already exists on Android tablets, but Microsoft is now bringing it to phones in its latest update to the Skype app. Via the update, you can also format text in your instant messages, and finally receive photos sent from iPhone Skype users. The update also includes the obligatory bug fixes that typically accompany a version bump. There are a few other small details, which you can discover in the full changelog at the Google Play Store.

Audio snobs rejoice: Windows 10 will have system-wide FLAC support – Windows 10 will make it easier for users to enjoy lossless audio, with support for the popular FLAC format across all modern and desktop programs.

Windows 10: Another patch released, this time for IE – Microsoft has released another patch for Windows 10 build 9879 and this time it is patching a hole in IE’s Flash Player; the download is available now.

Use OneNote tools to make holiday shopping fun again – If you are a bargain hunter then OneNote may have what it takes to help you in your battle for the best deals with the updated OneNote Clipper tool.

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Windows 8.1 tablets hitting new lows, WinBook 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $60 – Microsoft’s low-cost strategy for Windows tablet is hitting new pricing points as the WinBook TW70CA17 is being priced at $60 by MicroCenter and this is not for an RT device.

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Firefox Redesigns Its Search Interface Ahead Of Yahoo Switch – By default, Firefox now features built-in one-click search for the likes of Wikipedia, Amazon (with Mozilla adding its affiliate link to the search), Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, eBay and Twitter. As with all things Firefox, it’s easy to customize this list by removing some options.

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Amazon Slashes Kindle Prices for Black Friday – Amazon’s $79 Kindle e-reader will be on sale for $49, and the company’s Kindle Fire tablets are also dramatically cheaper, with the Fire HD 6 going for a mere $79 (versus its usual $99 price tag) and the Fire HD 7 on sale for $109 (versus $139). Meanwhile, the e-commerce giant has pegged the price of an unlocked Fire phone to just $199, a $250 price cut from its already reduced price. Amazon is still including a year of free Amazon Prime with the phone.

Google.com Domain Should Be Covered By Search De-Listing, Say European Regulators – Google has kicked against it. Eric Schmidt was doing so in public only last month. But European regulators are now stipulating the so called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling should apply to search results displayed on Google.com, not just on European sub-domains such as Google.co.uk.

Security:

New tool catches surveillance malware masquerading as legitimate bookmark manager – A variant of the Remote Control System (RCS) malware developed by an Italian company called Hacking Team is masquerading as a bookmark management application called Linkman, according to the main developer of a new malware scanning tool. The Detekt tool, launched last week to help users scan their computers for commercial spyware used by governments, has already led to the discovery of previously unknown malware variants, according to security researcher Claudio Guarnieri, who led development for the security app.

State of Security (Infographic) – Summary: Cybercrime remains prevalent, and damaging threats from criminals continue to loom over businesses and consumers.

This infographic looks at:

The number of identities exposed via breaches

The top 10 types of information leaked

The number of marked growth in targeted and web-based attacks

Expert tips on avoiding corporate breaches.

Security needs to be essential component of smart grid – Consumers and companies alike need to understand what’s at stake if security is not a major consideration of the smart grid.

Company News:

Samsung Electronics to buy back $2B in shares – The move is viewed as part of Samsung’s plan to placate shareholders that have grown increasingly concerned about its declining smartphone business.

Tumblr overtakes Instagram as fastest-growing social platform – A quite surprising report by Global Web Index dictates that Tumblr is now the fastest growing social platform. Other social networks like Facebook are currently facing strong competition.

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GoPro reportedly planning to launch consumer drones next year – GoPro will soon be manufacturing drones. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company, known for its hugely popular line of action video cameras, will release consumer drones “late next year.” GoPro’s drones will be multi-rotor helicopters that carry high-definition cameras likely resembling those used in existing devices like the GoPro Hero series. According to the report, GoPro is aiming to price its consumer drones between $500 and $1,000, an aggressive range that could immediately shake up the consumer drone market.

Ubisoft apologizes for Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s borked launch with free DLC – Upset about the less-than-stellar technical quality of the bug-filled Assassin’s Creed: Unity? Ubisoft’s going to try and make it better by giving you more Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Anyone who purchased the game will get the upcoming Dead Kings DLC add-on for free, while people who already purchased the game’s season pass will get one of the following games for free: Far Cry 4, The Crew, Rayman Legends, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, or Just Dance 2015. The announcement comes by way of an apology from Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat.

Microsoft fingered as company forced to pay $136M in back taxes in China – Chinese state press said an unnamed foreign company matching Microsoft’s description had been forced to pay 840 million yuan in back taxes.

AT&T’s fiber Internet rollout will continue, kinda – The company tells the FCC that it will go forward with its current GigaPower fiber network plans but that it’s still waiting to hear what happens with Net neutrality in Washington.

Games and Entertainment:

The 7 games you can play with the whole family this Thanksgiving –  Maybe you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking. Maybe the meal’s over and you’re all together in the living room staring silently at a wall. Whatever the case, if you’re looking to spend quality time with your friends and family this Thanksgiving and you want to beat them in a friendly competition, here are seven games we’d recommend — no consoles required.

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The Best Video Games to Avoid Your Family with This Thanksgiving – Here’s a little rundown of the video games that VICE’s video game writers have been playing and enjoying since September of this year. If you’re looking for an escape from familial bonding over the next couple of days, these are the worlds you should immerse yourself in.

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MIDDLE EARTH: SHADOW OF MORDOR

The 6 mobile games that will help get you through Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, a chance to spend a few days with family and friends and enjoy an amazing meal. But there’s also a lot of downtime, whether it’s due to travelling across the country or hiding to avoid your uncle droning on about how the Bears are terrible this year. Luckily, there’s an easy way to enjoy yourself, even when you’re not stuffing your face with turkey — and it’s right there in your pocket.

Xbox Games with Gold for the month of December revealed – The month of December is near, which means a new set of free games for Xbox Live Gold members has been revealed. Check out the new set of downloadable titles for Xbox One/360.

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Steam Sale hits “Exploration” theme for holidays – This week Steam is bringing about one of their yearly initiatives aimed at getting you as many games as you can possibly handle – all at once – as fast as possible. It’s a Steam Sale, an infamous event, one in which you see so many games for costs so undeniably low, you can’t control your impulses. This week is a Steam Exploration Sale, ready for the days between November 26th and December 2nd – aimed at filling you just as full of game downloads as you are about to be with turkey.

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The 10 Best Xbox One Games – The games that every Xbox One game should own this holiday season.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The biggest tech turkeys of 2014 – Fourteen of the year’s most embarrassing blunders in technology, by Amazon, Apple, Google, Uber and more — all for your holiday enjoyment.

We’ve just figured out how Earth’s force-field works – A planet-scale force field sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but scientists using NASA probes have discovered that Earth is in fact protected by just such a phenomenon, with speedy electrons from a vast and naturally-occurring twin torus of radiation kept away from us. The Van Allen belts were first measured in 1958, each a gathering of charged particles kept in place by the planet’s own magnetic field, and varying in size and strength according to the output of the sun. However, it’s only now that their interaction with Earth’s plasmasphere and how it acts as a forcefield has been understood.

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Former HP CEO responsible for Compaq merger explores 2016 presidential bid – Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who brought about the industry-changing merger with Compaq, is laying the groundwork for an attempt to snag the Republican nomination in the 2016 US presidential race. According to a piece in The Washington Post, Fiorina intends to pursue nomination by playing heavily on her status as both the only female and the only CEO among the current field of potential Republican candidates.

GoPros for Cops Are Not the Solution – Could equipping police officers with body cameras prevent the next Ferguson? Not so fast.

Hexoskin Arctic biometric smart shirt offers winter upgrade – Last year the Hexoskin smart shirt was successfully funded on Indiegogo, something that spawned a wearable apparel alternative to wristbands and similar fitness trackers. That shirt, however, has a sleeveless vest design that isn’t tailored to the colder months now gripping many states, and so the company has introduced a new model called Arctic. As its name suggests, Arctic is a long-sleeved version of the same biometric shirt, allowing users to wear it while out jogging or exercising in the cold.

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Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Is Broke – Almost three years after being arrested for copyright infringement, the Megaupload founder is facing extradition from New Zealand, and possible incarceration. Worse yet, Dotcom’s lawyers recently stepped down, leaving the German native to represent himself at Thursday’s bail hearing.

Something to think about:

“When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”

–      Anatole France

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCEnhancer – This tool uses the WinApp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs.

CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.

Instructions:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

Editor’s Note:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program. Simply press “Download Latest” and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

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Age of Empires III – The Napoleonic Era – Napoleonic Era is a renowned, fan-made modification for Age of Empires 3 and its expansions The Warchiefs and The Asian Dynasties. The mod intends to accurately illustrate the time from 1555-1815 by greatly expanding and reworking the game with new units, buildings, maps, sounds, music and civilizations. The mod has been founded in January 2006 at the German Age of Empires site age-community.net by Alexander Fleger and is being continued by Peter Piepenburg since February 2010. It is still one of the most anticipated mods for Age of Empires III in the whole world.

Features:

Over 20 new maps such as Rhine, Ural, Black Forest, Sahara, Malta, Italian Peninsula, Alps, Syrian Desert, Nile Delta, Levant, …

7 new civs: Austria, Italian States, Poland, Prussia, Sweden, Swiss Confederacy, United States

2 fully reworked civs: French and Germans

Plenty of new unique units such as Geuzen (Dutch), Drabant (Sweden), Lange Kerls (Prussia), Mounted Rifleman (United States), Azap (Ottomans), Grenzer (Austria), Grognard (French), Conquistador (Spain), Merchant (Italy), Lisowczyk (Poland), Death Head Hussar (Prussia), Line Infantry (Austria), Swiss Guard (Swiss) …

New buildings like the University (technology building), Keep (small fort), Bivouac (Barracks-Stable), Reichstag (Banner army training), Great Basilica (conspirational content), Torp (House-Barracks), … Shared units such as Chevaulegers, Fusiliers, Arquebusiers, Conscripts, Sharpshooters, Sappers, …

Plenty of new technologies and Homecity cards

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Toolwiz Time Freeze – A free instant system protection tool that will protect your system from any unwanted changes and malicious activity in low disk level. Toolwiz also has a complete, all in one suite called Toolwiz Care.

With a simple click, it puts your actual system under virtual protection on the fly and creates a virtual environment as a copy of the real system, on which you can evaluate applications, watch movies, and perform online activities. It provides higher-level security to computer protection, and greatly improves the efficiency of virtual system

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies – In May, 2013, a British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed on a suburban London street by two Muslim British citizens, who said they were acting to avenge years of killings of innocent Muslims by the British military in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the attackers, Michael Adebolajo, had also been detained and tortured in 2010 in Kenya with the likely complicity of Her Majesty’s Government. The brutal attack on Rigby was instantly branded “terrorism” (despite its targeting of a soldier of a nation at war) and caused intense and virtually universal indignation in the UK.

In response, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee resolved to investigate why the attack happened and whether it could have been prevented. Ensuring that nothing undesirable would occur, the investigation was led by the Committee’s chair, the long-time conservative government functionary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday, Sir Malcolm’s Committee issued its findings in a 191-page report. It contains some highly predictable conclusions, but also some quite remarkable ones.

DHS and CIA digital purge: Plans to delete emails and network surveillance records – Since when do people object to the government deleting a stockpile of electronic records? Since the digital purge could possibly get rid of evidence that Einstein’s network surveillance doesn’t work like it should. What better way to get rid of damning evidence than to delete the proof? At least, that’s the way some people are looking at the destruction of Einstein records and the potential nuking of years of DHS and CIA emails.

The Snowden Effect, Quantified – The failure of the USA Freedom Act in the Senate earlier this month was a disappointment to many in favor of reforming the National Security Agency. The bill, far from perfect, and certainly incomplete in its scope was thought of by some as a possible first step. To others, it was a way for Congress to pass something that merely looked like reform.

It didn’t advance after a procedural vote axed its life, making the argument about its potential efficacy moot — not even something lightweight could make it through Congress.

So what damn effect has Edward Snowden had on privacy, now far more than a year after the first revelations from the documents? Well as it turns out, we have some new data to measure that.

UN committee calls on countries to protect right to privacy – A United Nations panel has approved a resolution that would have its General Assembly call on states to respect and protect the right to privacy in the digital age.

The draft resolution, titled “Right to privacy in the digital age,” has Brazil and Germany as the main sponsors, and is an important if primarily symbolic move by the countries involved.

A resolution calling for the protection of human rights online as well as offline, also proposed by Brazil and Germany, was adopted last year in the U.N. General Assembly in the wake of revelations by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s surveillance in the country and abroad.

Australia: Who Brandis called censored and deemed not relevant to democracy – The very type of records that Attorney-General George Brandis would like Australian telecommunications companies to retain from customers for two years have been deemed too personal for release under Freedom of Information when they belong to him.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2014

Google unveils tools that track and secure your online life;  How to find free Internet for your laptop while traveling;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps You Should Download This Week;  How Much Do You Know About the Web?  How to wipe your phone or tablet before you sell it;  Working Without Wires: Setting Up a Wireless Printer;  Which Antivirus Products Are Best at Protecting Themselves?  Adobe tries to fix Flash vulnerability (again);  Microsoft kicks off massive discounts for Xbox One games;  Home Depot hit with “at least 44 civil lawsuits” due to data breach;  Car plug-in tells you what’s wrong, where to get it fixed;  Amazon expands partnership with Royal Mail;  HDClone Free Edition;  Sony to pay Vita owners over misleading Remote Play ad claims;  GizmoPal wearable keeps kids and parents in contact.

Google unveils tools that track and secure your online life – Used to be identity theft only revolved around cards and social security numbers, but these days our virtual identities are just as important and even more vulnerable. With the enermous power that it wields over our Internet lives, Google is in the prime position to help mitigate the effects or sometimes even prevent incidents from happening in the first place. That is why it is releasing two new security tools that will let users check up on their online activity and, if necessary, batten down the hatches.

The 5 Best iPhone Apps You Should Download This Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

How to find free Internet for your laptop while traveling – Sure, you can do a lot on a smartphone, phablet, or slate, but there are times when only a laptop will do. Unfortunately, situations like this always seem to pop-up while I’m on the road with no obvious Internet access. But have no fear, weary traveler. This is no time to cave and start paying for Wi-Fi. Instead, put this three-step plan for finding free(ish) Wi-Fi into action before you even think about paying for that Boingo or Gogo day pass.

How to wipe your phone or tablet before you sell it – Trading in or selling your old mobile device? Wipe it the right way to reduce the risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands. These tips are for the three main mobile operating systems, but if you have an older phone or an alternate OS, check the manual for full details on how to wipe your device.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How Much Do You Know About the Web? – Less than a quarter of Americans know that “the Internet” and “the World Wide Web” are not the same thing. According to a Pew Research study, American Web users’ understanding of online terms, famous faces, and tech history varies: While 82 percent of people are aware that hashtags are widely used on Twitter, only 21 percent could identify Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Twitter Offers will bring coupons to your timeline – Twitter has been working on several projects lately, all of which tangentially tie-in to one another. Their latest, Offers, might tie some of their more recent service together nicely. The aim of Offers is to let you grab a coupon right from Twitter, done via Promoted Tweets. All you have to do is click a button, and the coupon is yours. If you also have a credit card stored with Twitter (for their ‘Buy’ button), the coupon is then associated with that card.

Working Without Wires: Setting Up a Wireless Printer – You don’t need to go hunting for a USB cable to connect to a printer, and you don’t need a printer for every PC.

Watch How People Reacted to the Ferguson Decision on Twitter – Conversation about Ferguson, Missouri dominated social media Monday night. Above, you can see how Twitter erupted right after 8 p.m. Central, when St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch made his lengthy announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

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Hands-on with HP’s Stream 11, the $200 Windows laptop that wants to kill Chromebooks – Small and cheap isn’t for everyone, of course. After using the Stream 11 for a week, its chiclet keyboard still feels cramped to me, as does the 1366×768, 11.6-inch screen. HDMI offers the only video-out option, so you’ll need a converter if you have an older DVI display, for example. And storage? Fuhgeddit. But let’s be fair: I’d have similar complaints about like-priced Chromebooks. All I wanted to see was whether this bargain Windows machine was enough to keep me on Microsoft’s side of the fence.

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The HP Stream 11 measures 11.81 inches wide by 0.78 inches high by 8.1 inches deep, and weighs 2.82 pounds.

Keep Tabs on Favorite Vine Stars With New Alerts – Heads up, Vine users. The Twitter-owned video-sharing app is getting a handy new feature: the ability to star specific profiles to make them a favorite. The next time you discover an awesome Vine account, head to their profile page and tap the small star icon in the top right corner. Doing so will mark the account as a favorite, and you’ll be notified whenever they post a new video.

GizmoPal wearable keeps kids and parents in contact – For children who aren’t quite old enough for their own phone, Verizon has announced the upcoming GizmoPal wearable for kids. This wearable is a simplistic wristband able to receive and make calls to a limited number of contacts, such as parents or a caregiver, doing so over Verizon’s network after being added to an existing smartphone plan. This is the latest of several kid-centric wearables we’ve seen over the year, joining the iSwimband and Kidizoom smartwatch, both of which offer their own functionality for different life situations.

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Bing rolls out new feature to help with Thanksgiving recipe steps and ideas – Where would we be without Bing, or specifically, any search engine? Search engines help us with everything and now the Bing team wants to help you get your act together for Thanksgiving.

Samsung’s ‘eye mouse’ enables users to control their computer with a glance – Now in its second generation, Samsung’s EyeCan+ will help people with disabilities create documents and browse the Web using only eye movements.

How to set up an ergonomic workstation – Stop whatever you’re doing and freeze. Now, evaluate your body. Does anything — your neck, perhaps — feel achy? How’s your posture? And your wrists and fingers — are they okay after all that typing and texting? While working long hours at the computer, you’ve complained about (and subsequently ignored) the toll desk work takes on your body. But it’s easy to brush off the daily aches and pains when the solution is so unclear.

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Survey shows tablet productivity gains, but also flags up room for improvement – Buyers and users of business tablets in Europe report productivity increases of 30 to 33 percent, but over two-thirds remain less than completely satisfied with the tablet experience.

Security:

Which Antivirus Products Are Best at Protecting Themselves? – You depend on your antivirus or security suite to protect your data and your devices, but how well does it protect itself? Security software is just software, and subject to flaws, like any other type of program. Coders can take some simple steps to make sure a software flaw doesn’t open the program to exploit attack. However, the latest report from German lab AV-Test Institute shows a wide range in how well security vendors armor their products against direct attack.

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Adobe tries to fix Flash vulnerability (again) – Adobe released an emergency patch on Tuesday to fix a Flash Player vulnerability that was fixed last month but was quickly exploited again. The company had issued a patch for the flaw, called CVE-2104-8439, but attackers soon found a way around that fix. The latest update to Flash adds a “mitigation” for CVE-2104-8439, a vulnerability that could lead to the installation of malware.

The Regin malware threat: Real protections against a mysterious danger – Regin’s a puzzle, with a long career that apparently has yet to affect the U.S. If that should happen, however, the classic protective measures will be your best defense.

Bitdefender’s BOX hardware protects your entire home network, not just your PC – Antivirus firm Bitdefender unveiled a hardware security appliance for home networks Tuesday that aims to protect devices by scanning network traffic to detect and block potential security threats. The new Bitdefender BOX is a mix between a router, network firewall and intrusion prevention system. It can sit behind an existing router, connected to one of its ethernet ports, it can be placed in front of a router, so that it also protects the router from Internet-based attacks, or can act itself as a router.

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Company News:

Sony to pay Vita owners over misleading Remote Play ad claims – The Federal Trade Commission announced today it has come to a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment and advertising agency Deutsch LA over misleading claims in early ads for the PlayStation Vita. As part of that settlement, Sony will offer Vita customers who bought the system before June 1, 2012 a $25 rebate or a $50 voucher “for select games and services.”

Apple could ditch Google for Bing or Yahoo next year – Google risks losing its spot as the default search provider in Apple’s Safari browser next year, according to a report from The Information. The latest extension of a deal that’s put Google Search in the hands of iPhone owners since 2007 is set to expire in 2015, and Mountain View rivals Microsoft and Yahoo are already making a case for change with Apple’s leadership. Per the report, each company has pitched Apple SVP Eddy Cue on the idea of replacing Google as the default iOS search provider; Microsoft wants Bing to be the default option out of the box, and Yahoo is vying for the same spot.

Home Depot hit with “at least 44 civil lawsuits” due to data breach – One of the lawsuits, a proposed class-action suit filed in late September in federal court in San Francisco, alleged that Home Depot “failed to properly encrypt its customers’ data in violation of the [Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard].” That same month, former Home Depot security employees told The New York Times that the company repeatedly ignored warnings and undertook poor security for years.

Amazon expands partnership with Royal Mail, now ships to local Post Offices – Amazon is looking to make waves this holiday season and has expanded its partnership with the Royal Mail to now include over 10,000 post offices as official Amazon PickUp Locations.

Sony betting big on gaming and image sensors for next 3 years – This week Sony suggests that they’ll be redirecting their concentration away from mobile devices and TVs over the next three years, aiming instead at gaming and image sensors. Given their success in selling the PlayStation 4 and surrounding technologies, Sony is ready to go big with their gaming segment. The same is true of image sensors, readying their technology for the next generation of cameras and smart devices of all kinds. It should come as no surprise that Sony would pull back on their Mobile Communications Segment as forecasts there show the only operating income loss amongst all of Sony’s products.

Samsung to speed up restructure by selling defense business – As part of its group-wide restructuring plan to focus on electronics, finance and construction, Samsung is selling its defense and military affiliates for almost $2 billion to South Korean compatriot Hanwha.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft kicks off massive discounts for Xbox One games – Microsoft wants to ‘win’ Black Friday with some massive discounts on games. Titles such as Sunset Overdrive, FIFA 15 and Call of Duty Advanced Warfare have had their prices slashed.

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Nvidia GRID streaming service promises a new PC game every Tuesday – Nvidia now plans to add at least one new game every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The first new arrivals are the cult classic 3D platformer Psychonauts and the third-person shooter Red Faction: Armageddon. Nvidia hasn’t announced an end date for the one game per week initiative, but spokesman Brian Burke told PCWorld that the goal is to eventually have more than 100 streaming games on demand.

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Chromecast snags Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Comedy Central, and more – Google’s $35 streaming dongle just keeps on getting stronger—though most of the recent additions are of limited usefulness to cord cutters.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Car plug-in tells you what’s wrong, where to get it fixed – Existing connected car dongles might tell you about your drive stats and provide feedback on making you a better motorist, but driving is a team effort. Your car has to perform, and when it starts to tell you it’s not ready to go, frustration and a touch of panic set in. What does the “check engine” light mean? Why is it making that weird noise? Mechanic Advisor, a site with a network of automotive repair shops, will soon be jumping into the connected car game with their own plug-in dongle.

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This is Google’s massive Android billboard in Times Square – After signing a long-term deal with Vornado Realty Trust reportedly worth millions, the company began advertising on the biggest billboard in New York City’s Times Square — over 20 million pixels big. The Mitsubishi Electric screen occupies the entire block of Broadway that lies between 45th and 46th street, and even wraps about another 30 feet around each corner. Its true resolution is 2,368 x 10,048, and it measures over 77 feet tall by 323 feet long. It will reportedly be under Google’s control until the end of January 2015.

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Brio smart outlet only turns on when you need it – Electrical outlets pose different sorts of threats, most notably being to small children who poke objects inside them out of curiosity. The go-to method for avoiding this unfortunate scenario is using plastic outlet plugs that block the ports, but that’s not always effective. A California company called Brio has addressed this issue with a smart outlet likewise called “Brio” that only goes live when a valid object is plugged into it. In doing so, the company hopes to mitigate the typical hazards associated with outlets.

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I let a bone-conduction pillow sing me to sleep – The DreamPad uses bone-conduction technology to transmit audio to the user while keeping the volume to a minimum for that person’s bed buddy. It’s aimed at both children and adults who have trouble falling asleep. You can pump sound in from any device that uses a regular audio mini jack. I hooked my test pillow up to my iPad 2 and queued up some classic Bruce Springsteen for an initial test drive. Not surprisingly, my regular cache of MP3s sounded quite a bit different coming from the innards of a bone-conduction pillow.

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Something to think about:

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”

–       Christopher Morley

Today’s Free Downloads:

HDClone Free Edition -HDClone copies the content of hard disks on a physical level from one disk to another hard disk. Depending on the sizes of the hard disks, a complete or abridged image of the source disk will be created.

Free Edition:

The Free Edition of HDClone offers all necessary abilities to copy a complete hard disk onto another, larger hard disk. This can be utilized to migrate an existing installation to a new hard disk as well as for data rescue.

The Free Edition is real freeware without obligation to buy and is intended for the short-term usage at no cost. But in case of more frequent usage, we recommend using one of the higher editions since they offer higher performance in the first line but also support a wider range of hardware as well as additional options which are optimized for regular or professional usage.

HDClone Free Edition supports IDE/ATA and SATA/eSATA hard disks and is able to copy up to 300 MB/min.

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CCleaner Standard – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the standard installer with uninstaller. CCleaner Portable and CCleaner Slim are also available.

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. Install, uninstall and toolbar included.

Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer

Temporary files, history, cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat.

Firefox

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome

Temporary files, history, cookies, download history, form history.

Opera

Temporary files, history, cookies.

Safari

Temporary files, history, cookies, form history.

Windows

Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.

Registry Cleaner

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more… also comes with a comprehensive backup feature.

Third-party applications

Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New Snowden docs: GCHQ’s ties to telco gave spies global surveillance reach – Documents reportedly from the Edward Snowden cache show that in 2009, GCHQ (and by association, the NSA) had access to the traffic on 63 submarine cable links around the globe. The cables listed handle the vast majority of international Internet traffic as well as private network connections between telecommunications providers and corporate data centers.

According to a report in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless—now a subsidiary of Vodafone—“actively shaped and provided the most data to GCHQ surveillance programs and received millions of pounds in compensation.”

The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs.

60 things European legislators don’t want Canada to learn about air passengers – Here’s one flight delay that European Union citizens might appreciate: The European Parliament has grounded an agreement that would have sent more passenger data winging its way to Canadian law enforcers. And like other flight delays, it could have huge repercussions—in this case for similar data exchange deals with the U.S. and Australia.

Members of the European Parliament voted 383 to 271 to refer the Canadian flight data deal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for an opinion on whether it is in line with data protection rules enshrined in EU treaties and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Meet the Guys Who Want to Launch a Catalogue of Canadian Police Abuses – Bad cops might pop up in the media now and again, but two men are looking to create a website that would document every instance of police misconduct in Canada, which they believe has become endemic.

Darryl Davies, a professor of criminology at Carleton University, and Ottawa Life magazine publisher Dan Donovan, have launched a ​Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $75,000 to create and fund http://www.PoliceMisconductCanada.com.

The fundraiser, which began a few weeks ago and runs until January 3, comes in the aftermath of a Quebec police officer getting away with killing a five-year​-old boy in a car crash. He was travelling more than double the posted speed limit and in the midst of a hi​gh-speed surveillance operation.

Similar reporting endeavours exist elsewhere: the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank in the United States, operates the National Police​ Misc​onduct Reporting Project, which curates nasty cop news from around the U.S. and shares it online.

Australia’s data-retention plans look increasingly out of touch – The tide is turning against mass digital surveillance, both politically and commercially, but is Attorney-General Brandis capable of even noticing, let alone changing, course?

Talking to James Risen About Pay Any Price, the War on Terror and Press Freedoms – Jim Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has long been one of the nation’s most aggressive and adversarial investigative journalists. Over the past several years, he has received at least as much attention for being threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department (ostensibly) for refusing to reveal the source of one of his stories, a persecution that, in reality, is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. Government’s anger over his NSA reporting.

He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War.” There have been lots of critiques of the War on Terror on its own terms, but Risen’s is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on what is almost certainly the most overlooked aspect of this war: the role corporate profiteering plays in ensuring its endless continuation, and how the beneficiaries use rank fear-mongering to sustain it.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving tech support survival kit;  NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family;  Don’t Get Screwed on Black Friday;  How to shop online safely;  The Best Products of 2014;  Thanksgiving Travel 101: Download These Free E-Books;  How to record your webcam with VLC;  Must-have Android apps for holiday cooking and baking;  How secure is Docker?  Digital Privacy Is “The New Frontier Of Human Rights”;  Why Don’t We Finish Our Favorite Video Games?  Gift Guide For The Childless Who Have To Buy Gifts For Children;  Google Pulls Anti-Gay ‘Ass Hunter’ Game From Play Store.

Thanksgiving tech support survival kit (2014 edition) – Thanksgiving is a time of year which sees “the techies” and “the non-techies” come together, and chances are that you being the techie, the non-techies will spot you and hunt you down — The Walking Dead style, albeit slower thanks to the tryptophan — in search of “help”. With this in mind, I’ve put together what I call a “Turkey Day” tech support survival kit. While I’ve called it a “Turkey Day” kit — I’m certain that it will work just as well at other times of year — this seems to be the time of year when the techie’s superhero skills are in greatest demand.

Digital Privacy Is “The New Frontier Of Human Rights” – The impact of mass, digitally-enabled state surveillance upon individuals’ privacy has been described as “the new frontier of human rights” by Member of the European Parliament, Claude Moraes, who was giving an annual lecture on behalf of the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy at the London School of Economics on Friday.

Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about: NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family – A public autopsy of sophisticated intelligence-gathering spyware Regin is causing waves today in the computer security world. But here’s a question no one’s answering: given this super-malware first popped up in 2008, why has everyone in the antivirus industry kept quiet about it until now? Has it really taken them years to reverse engineer it?

Intel and McAfee plan to kill PC passwords with new biometric authentication – Forget typing in passwords, Intel wants you to use your body to log into email and online bank accounts. McAfee software that will use biometric technology to authenticate users will be available for download by the end of the year, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, last week. “Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Skaugen said.

Don’t Get Screwed on Black Friday – Black Friday is a big shopping day, but don’t rush to swipe your plastic as soon as the doors open on Friday (or Thanksgiving Day). A lot of the deals that seem awesome aren’t that good at all, and the ones that are good probably aren’t the ones meant to catch your eye. These rules can help you get through Black Friday with your money and your humanity intact, and still allow for a little Thanksgiving weekend relaxation.

How to shop online safely – With some simple tips, make shopping online a safer experience this holiday season. Like any transaction, there are security issues to keep in mind when buying online, but with some common sense you can minimize the risk. Even if you consider yourself a seasoned online shopper, it’s always worth a reminder to make sure your experience is the safest it can be.

8 Netflix Tricks You Just Can’t Live Without – One of the main reasons Netflix is so popular is because of its simplicity. It’s painfully easy to queue up a movie on your laptop, video game console or mobile device and start watching in mere seconds. But that simplicity means there are a lot of features to Netflix that the average customer may not be using. Here, we’ve rounded up some useful tips to help you get the most out of Netflix.

The Best Products of 2014 – With more than 1,850 reviews under our collective belts in the PC Labs so far this year—228 of them in October alone—we’re feeling pretty good headed into the holidays. But it’s no time to slack off. Instead, we tapped our expert analysts and editors and asked them to name a single product that kicks major ass in each category we review. The result is before you: The Best Products of 2014.

If Windows virtual memory is too low, you can increase it, but there are trade-offs – Virtual memory can expand your PC’s capabilities, but it will also slow it down. Understanding the swap file will help you make the right decision.

How to record your webcam with VLC – Whether you want to make a few YouTube videos, or you’re practicing a speech, recording yourself with VLC is easy and offers lots of formatting options. The recording function in VLC can be turned on and off at will, or switched to a set and forget mode. This allows you to use the feature for a number of purposes, including studying your own abilities on camera, setting up a temporary security feed (hard drive space allowing), or just making a video for the Web. Check out these steps for recording video from your webcam.

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T-Mobile Music Freedom Adds Google Play, Xbox Music – You can now stream music on your mobile devices from Google Play Music and Xbox Music without eating away at all your data. The self-proclaimed “un-carrier” on Monday announced it has added both services to its Music Freedom program, along with SoundCloud and 11 others. The list includes a range of services that should suit all tastes covering everything from EDM, Caribbean, and Bollywood: RadioTunes, Digitally Imported, Fit Radio, Fresca Radio, JazzRadio, Live365, Mad Genius Radio, RadioPup, radio.com, RockRadio, Saavn.

Google Pulls Anti-Gay ‘Ass Hunter’ Game From Play Store – Google has removed a highly disturbing anti-gay game from its Google Play app store, but only after thousands of Android users downloaded it. The game, named Ass Hunter, encouraged players hunt and shoot naked homosexual men. A Google spokesperson confirmed that the app is no longer available in the Play store.

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Thanksgiving Travel 101: Download These Free E-Books – Lucky for you, there are a number of books available for free on various e-book platforms. Hopefully you won’t be stranded for so long that you have time to read them all, but there should be enough options to keep your mind off the fact that you’re in the middle seat or stuck in a five-mile traffic jam.

Must-have Android apps for holiday cooking and baking – All the recipes and drink suggestions you could ever need can fit on your Android phone, thanks to a plethora of cooking apps in the Play Store. From the many options out there, I’ve uncovered four of the most useful Android apps that can help you prepare a fabulous meal no matter if you’re a pro in the kitchen or barely know your way around a whisk.

Microsoft has pushed out Windows 10 9879 to ‘slow’ ring users – Microsoft has released Windows 10 build 9879 to the ‘slow’ ring which means that all Windows Insider groups now have access to the latest build of Windows 10.

Hush smart earplugs block out unwanted sounds while still letting you hear – There are many reasons that people need earplugs, and not all of them are reasons you might expect. People need earplugs in very loud situations, such as shooting guns or at a loud racetrack for sure, but there are other reasons in the home that people use them as well when it’s important that you still be able to hear sounds around you, such as sleeping. For situations like this, a new set of earplugs called Hush smart earplugs have debuted. Hush smart earplugs are on Kickstarter seeking $100,000 and have raised $191,000 so far with 28 days to go. A pledge of $115 or more will get you a pair of Hush earplugs estimated to ship in May 2015.

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Slack now lets employers tap workers’ private chats – Slack, whose chat app aims to help workers get stuff done, might now have them running scared, knowing the boss could access their chats. The company’s upcoming paid Plus plan will include an optional feature called Compliance Exports, announced Monday, which will let administrators access their team’s communications, encompassing public and private messages.

Five Android 5.0 Lollipop annoyances Google should fix immediately – The 5.0 release of Android, dubbed Lollipop, is the biggest thing to happen to Android in years—possibly ever. The design and features have been revamped, and attention to detail is evident throughout. However, even our beloved Google is not perfect, and that means there are some bugs and just plain odd decisions in Android 5.0. Let’s check out five of the most annoying little quirks in Lollipop and see how they might be fixed.

Report: Apple iCloud dogged by ‘organizational issues’ – As far as cloud storage solutions go, Apple’s iCloud is among the oddest. A company with massive resources and deep pockets should be able to provide a clean, cohesive experience for users. They can’t; iCould and iDrive are just not as good as other cloud storage offerings. From layout to syncing — even down to pricing — iCloud is a mis-hit from Apple. They’re sticking with it, though, so a silver lining exists. A new report details why the cloud in front of iCloud is so dark, though.

Security:

Sony’s own Backup & Restore app hacked, taken over – When you have a smartphone, you’d like to trust that the apps coming straight form the manufacturer of that phone are secure. More to the point, you’d probably safely assume any software designed to access your information stored in your phone would be something that couldn’t be compromised in any way. A new report suggests Sony’s own backup and restore app has been hacked, but that’s not even the most sensational news. Hackers have taken over the app entirely, even claiming ownership in Google Play.

How secure is Docker? If you’re not running version 1.3.2, NOT VERY – A nasty vulnerability has been discovered in the Docker application containerization software for Linux that could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and execute code remotely on affected systems. The bug, which has been corrected in Docker 1.3.2, affects all previous versions of the software. “No remediation is available for older versions of Docker and users are advised to upgrade,” the company said in a security advisory on Monday.

The Most Sophisticated Android Botnet – The botnet, called NotCompatible.C by Lookout’s researchers, has been in the news before. It made their list of the top four Android threats not long ago. However, the current report is a deep dive that reveals exactly what sets this botnet apart.

Hackers shut down Sony Pictures’ computers and are blackmailing the studio – Today, employees across the Sony Pictures offices were greeted with a strange picture as they tried to login to their computers. Since this afternoon, computers at the company have been completely unresponsive, showing a glowering CGI skeleton, a series of URL addresses, and a threatening message from a hacker group that identifies itself as #GOP. Dozens of Sony Twitter accounts were also commandeered to tweet out similar messages, although Sony seems to have regained control of those accounts. Early reports from Sony employees suggest the studio has yet to regain computer access.

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Craigslist DNS hijacked, redirected at infamous “prank” site for hours – Many Craigslist visitors found themselves here—before their traffic brought the board down. At least some Craigslist visitors found their Web requests redirected toward an underground Web forum previously associated with selling stolen celebrity photos and other malicious activities. In a blog post, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said that the DNS records for Craigslist sites were altered to direct incoming traffic to what he characterized as “various non-craigslist sites.” The account was restored, and while the DNS records have been corrected at the registrar, some DNS servers were still redirecting traffic to other servers as late as this afternoon.

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A Hacking Group Is Attacking Canadian Government Websites to Exonerate an Alleged Teen Swatter – Over the weekend, the websites belonging to the Toronto Police Service, the Ottawa Police, the Canadian Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the City of Ottawa were all hit with distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks by a hacker group that goes by the name Aerith. According to a press release published by Aerith earlier today, these attacks are meant to call attention to the arrest of a teenage boy in Ottawa, who was charged with 60 criminal acts after being accused of fabricating em​ergencies to get the attention of authorities (otherwise known as swatting). Aerith claims the Ottawa Police have the wrong guy.

E-Cigarettes could be bad for your computer’s health when it’s a vehicle for malware – As if quitting smoking isn’t hard enough already for those who opt to kick the habit, keeping the price down on the expensive e-cigarette alternative can also be bad for your computer’s health and a headache for IT system administrators everywhere too. A user on Reddit posted a strange story in the r/talesfromtechsupport subreddit about an executive at a unnamed “large corporation”, country unknown, suffering from a malware infection on his workstation despite having latest virus and anti malware programs in place, the cause of the infection had them scratching their heads. Finally after exhausting all options the IT worker asked the executive: “Have there been any changes in your life recently”? The executive answer[ed] “Well yes, I quit smoking two weeks ago and switched to e-cigarettes”.

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How to create seamless mobile security for employees – Frustrated employees will figure out how to get around disruptive and clunky security procedures. Here’s how three organizations created a secure and seamless mobile experience for end users.

Confessions of a smartphone thief – Almost 2 billion people around the world use smartphones — typically worth hundreds of dollars a pop on the black market. A former smartphone thief explains their allure to street criminals.

Company News:

Bah humbug: Redbox jacks rental prices by up to 50 percent – Redbox’s DVD rental prices are increasing by a full 25 percent on December 2, as the Wall Street Journal first reported. DVD rental prices are increasing from $1.20 to $1.50 per night. Other rental types are being jacked by even higher percentages, with Blu-ray disc rentals going from $1.50 to $2 and video-game rentals increasing from $2 to $3 per night. (The game-rentals price increase goes into effect in January.)

US taxmen won’t say WHY they’re probing Microsoft. So Redmond is suing the IRS – The US Internal Revenue Service has been digging into Microsoft’s tax records from 2004 through 2009, and Redmond has filed a lawsuit against the government to find out why. In documents [PDF] filed with the US District Court of the District of Columbia on Monday, Microsoft alleges that the IRS has failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records related to the agency’s contract with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a law firm hired to investigate the software giant.

iPhone sales set to PLUMMET: Bleak times ahead for Apple – Ming the Merciless has predicted Apple will face a grim start to 2015 with iPhone sales plummeting by up to a third. Ming-Chi Kuo of analyst outfit KGI Securities has predicted that iPhone sales will surge ahead of Christmas, reaching a height of a total of 71.5 million units for the fourth quarter. Yet after the Christmas crackers have been pulled and Auld Lang Syne has been sung, Cupertino will face a bleak midwinter as predicted shipments dwindle to a comparatively measly 49.4 million units in the first quarter of 2015.

Samsung Ponders Executive Shakeup As Galaxy S5 Sales Fall 40% Short Of Expectations – Samsung is looking long and hard at its top executive team with changes in mind, the Wall Street Journal reports, following Galaxy S5 devices sales that have underperformed company expectations by as much as 40 percent. The total sales for the S5, this year’s Samsung flagship device, are at around 12 million, compared to 16 million for the Galaxy S4.

FCC: T-Mobile to show honest stats on speed tests – With most data plans, throttling is something we all have to live with. At some point in the month, you might hit a threshold that downshifts your downloads, but to what extent? Most are left guessing at why that video won’t load, frustrated by the entire experience. Today, the FCC announces that T-Mobile has agreed to provide a clearer picture on what throttling means for you, and will release accurate details on throttled customer data speeds, rather than potential speeds your device isn’t getting.

Games and Entertainment:

Windows Phone users get Rovio’s Angry Birds games for free for a limited time – Windows Phone users will be happy to know that all of the Angry Birds games are now available for free. This is a limited time offer and perfect timing for the holidays.

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Counter-Strike pro players banned for cheating – The world of professional gaming is in a bit of an upheaval, with multiple professional Counter-Strike players finding themselves banned after being discovered cheating. The spat is said to have started when the E-Sports Entertainment Association’s tools banned Simon “smn” Beck for cheating. This caught the attention of Valve, which then received details from the ESEA and used that to upgrade its own anti-cheat tools. That, then, resulted in multiple players being caught, including professionals players.

Activision using copyright notices to take down Call of Duty exploit videos – Over the weekend, popular gaming video network Machinima issued a warning to its creators, telling them that “Activision is being particularly vigilant about their Call of Duty videos lately, issuing strikes on videos showing glitches… please be careful.” Under YouTube’s copyright strike system, accounts start losing certain privileges after a single copyright strike goes through, and could be banned altogether after three such strikes (though strikes can be challenged or expunged by going through Youtube’s Copyright School).

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Why Don’t We Finish Our Favorite Video Games? – It hopefully hasn’t escaped your attention that one of the best—if not the best—games of 2013, Grand Theft Auto V, is about to complete its transfer from previous-gen systems to the visual razzle-dazzle of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC platforms. To those who never played it the first time, who have hung on for these beautiful-looking ports, I promise you: so much fun. GTAV is a deep game of epic exploration, funny dialogue, intense action and frenetic car chases. And so much more. And yet, not everyone who enjoyed the early hours of GTAV stayed for the duration—just as only some 70 percent of those with internet-connected systems actually involved themselves in the game’s separate GTA Online component.

Gamer captains an amazing starship from his living room – Using a custom rig that includes three projectors, this gamer has transformed his gaming space into a full-sized cockpit for Elite: Dangerous.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA tipped to require pilot license for commercial drone use – The issue of commercial drone usage is (slowly) nearing an end, and that end could come in the form of fairly severe restrictions. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Federal Aviation Administration will soon propose regulations on commercial drone usage — including for small and ultra-light drones — by the end of the year, and among the regulations will be a requirement that operators have a license and undergo pilot certification training, which likely includes learning to pilot manned aircraft.

The ‘Brief History Of Graphics’ Video Series – A video series by Stuart Brown of XboxAhoy has created one of the nicest mini-documentaries I’ve watched in a while. The five-part series that looks at computer graphics from Pong to Galaxian to Street Fighter and beyond. The whole series – complete with Brown’s soothing brogue – is a great look at the history of game graphics and the tools that programmers used to build some amazing classics. The series starts with the difference between vector and raster graphics – essentially Star Wars-like line graphics vs. blocky pixel sprites – and how the advent of color pushed the arguably superior vector graphics into the dustbin of history.

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A Gift Guide For The Childless Who Have To Buy Gifts For Children – Buying toys for kids is like trying to help a couple of strangers carry a couch up two flights of steps. While your assistance may be appreciated, in theory, you’re probably going to end up doing something wrong. To that end, we present five toys that are, in theory, amazing (and I like all of them and you should, if the child in question is old enough to handle them, buy them) but that will frustrate parents of most children to no end. I present a toy gift guide for the childless!

1,300-year-old book of Egyptian magic deciphered – Researchers have decoded an ancient Egyptian book of spells they are calling an “Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power.” It contains incantations for everything from attaining success in a businessventure, to love spells, to curing disease. The 20 page illustrated codex is thought to date from the 7th or 8th century, some 1,300 years ago, which seems to have been a pivotal time for the history of mysticism in that area of the world. The codex is written in Coptic and comes from a time before the rise of Islam in the Middle East.

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Something to think about:

“He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.”

–      Mark Twain“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Chapter 2

Today’s Free Downloads:

Freebie Notes – Freebie Notes is a great little program for users who just want sticky notes with an alarm timer.

With Freebie Notes you can:

create electronic notes (stickers) – unlimited number of sticky notes!

edit sticky notes in the advanced mode

specify the date and time of reminder

customize the default parameters of electronic notes (their size, text, background and title color, position on the desktop, transparency)

be sure that it is a really free product

be sure that it has no ads, banners and any other spyware programs

save the text of a note to a file

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SideSlide – SideSlide is an advanced, portable, unobtrusive, dockable, skinnable, instantly accessible, highly configurable Desktop Extension on Steroids! Clean desktop clutter and make your computer friendlier and faster than ever before. With unique use of containers and various innovative features, SideSlide lets you get instant access to everything you have and much more. The program respects your system and keeps all of its configuration files in a single folder.

Features:

Instantly accessible and adjustable workspace that stays out of your way until you need it.

Add multiple shortcuts, commands, URLs, RSS news feeds, pictures, reminders and notes.

Resizable, detachable, foldable and shrinkable containers extend the workspace beyond the limits of the screen.

Mouse & keyboard support with a full-blown keyboard launcher and directory navigator.

RSS news feed functionality allows you to track what you are interested in the most.

Keep your eyes on multiple picture slideshows that are easily added.

Floating, colorful notes are quickly created and adjusted in bulk or separately.

Shortcuts can be tagged for additional functionality and organization.

Various ways of launching multiple shortcuts with a single click.

Link containers to actual folders on disk (launch, move, copy and delete files).

Shortcuts, URLs, text and pictures from Windows or your browser can be dragged & dropped in the workspace.

A growing online library with ready-made RSS news feed and shortcut containers.

Every style and setting in the entire program and for each individual object can be customized.

Fancy special effects that don’t slow you down.

Comes with multiple themes and wallpapers and you can also define your own style.

Supports portable setup and the ability to load objects from a relative path.

Much more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Secret Malware in European Union Attack Linked to U.S. and British Intelligence – Complex malware known as Regin is the suspected technology behind sophisticated cyberattacks conducted by U.S. and British intelligence agencies on the European Union and a Belgian telecommunications company, according to security industry sources and technical analysis conducted by The Intercept.

Regin was found on infected internal computer systems and email servers at Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian phone and internet provider, following reports last year that the company was targeted in a top-secret surveillance operation carried out by British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters, industry sources told The Intercept.

The malware, which steals data from infected systems and disguises itself as legitimate Microsoft software, has also been identified on the same European Union computer systems that were targeted for surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The hacking operations against Belgacom and the European Union were first revealed last year through documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The specific malware used in the attacks has never been disclosed, however.

UK Government Pushes IP-Matching In Latest Digital Counter-Terror Measure – ISPs and mobile operators will be forced to retain information linking IP addresses to individuals for 12 months under U.K. government counter-terrorism plans expected to be detailed next week.

The IP-matching measure will be included in the government’s forthcoming Anti-Terrorism and Security Bill. This follows another failed attempt by the government last year to push through a so-called ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ — aka the Communications Data Bill.

That legislation would have forced companies to retain data about people’s online conversations, social media activity, calls and texts for 12 months but the coalition’s junior partner, the Liberal Democrats, baulked at supporting what they dubbed an “illiberal” bill.

However they are evidently comfortable with IP-matching — describing the measure today as “good news”. The Lib Dems also supported emergency data retention legislation – requiring Internet and phone companies to keep records of customer metadata — which was pushed through Parliament by the U.K. government this July, after the European Court of Justice struck down European data retention powers on the grounds that they were too broad.

That Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (aka DRIP) was criticized for being overly broad, vague and Draconian. It was also rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny, despite the ECJ ruling being handed down months earlier, in April — leading to accusations of a ‘surveillance stitch-up’.

Most people have heard of Snowden, few have changed habits as a result – New worldwide survey results conducted by a Canadian think tank show that most people around the world (60 percent) have heard of Edward Snowden, but just over a third have “have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of his revelations.”

The study, which was released Monday by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), surveyed over 23,000 people in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States. The survey did not break out respondents by nationality.

The figures varied widely: 94 percent of Germans surveyed heard of the National Security Agency whistleblower, while only 76 percent of Americans had. Kenya rounded out the bottom of the list at 14 percent. Globally, this resulted in an average of 60 percent.

Have the 14,000 people familiar with Snowden done anything with this knowledge? Some people have tried to learn more about encryption and other ways to improve security online. India led the pack in this area with 69 percent, followed by Mexico and China. Amongst Americans, only 36 percent of people took steps to protect privacy. The worldwide mean came in at 39 percent.

NSA privacy chief defends agency’s surveillance – The U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are legal and under close scrutiny by other parts of the government, the agency’s internal privacy watchdog said Monday in an online Q&A.

NSA surveillance and data collection programs conform to the U.S. Constitution, Rebecca Richards, the agency’s first civil liberties and privacy director, wrote during an hour-plus Q&A on Tumblr.

The NSA operates under rules that “ensure that its activities fall within the parameters of the Constitution,” Richards wrote when asked why she believes the surveillance programs are constitutional.

“The oversight regime governing NSA is extensive, spanning all three branches of government,” she added. “The fact that NSA created my job highlights the value and importance NSA leadership places on privacy and civil liberties protections.”

Critics have said some NSA surveillance programs violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 25, 2014

Filed under Free Security Programs, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 24, 2014

7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday;  Malicious Trojan now attacking password managers;  Using a password manager on Android? It may be wide open to sniffing attacks; How to use an authenticator app to improve your online security;  Thanksgiving Survival Guide: 8 Gadgets to Keep the Family at Bay;  Candy Crush is taking over your Facebook feed – again;  Microsoft Lumia 635 now available for $39 off-contract;  The Weather Channel app’s new ski module;  Microsoft adding Skype chat to Office Online web apps;  Google Maps Update Adds Weather and Local Time to Destinations;  The layman’s guide to Docker;  Europe’s parliament “poised to call for a break-up of Google”;  Amazon to offer ad-supported free video streaming service;  Target to judge: Banks’ losses in our card breach aren’t our problem;  All aboard the poop bus, now farting around the UK;  WifiChannelMonitor (free);  Cyberwar is bullshit.

Using a password manager on Android? It may be wide open to sniffing attacks – In early 2013, researchers exposed some unsettling risks stemming from Android-based password managers. In a paper titled “Hey, You, Get Off of My Clipboard,” they documented how passwords managed by 21 of the most popular such apps could be accessed by any other app on an Android device, even those with extremely low-level privileges. They suggested several measures to help fix the problem. Almost two years later, the threat remains viable in at least some, if not all, of the apps originally analyzed. An app recently made available on Google Play, for instance, has no trouble divining the passwords managed by LastPass, one of the leading managers on the market, as well as the lesser-known KeePassDroid.

How to use an authenticator app to improve your online security – Summary: Want to avoid having your online accounts hacked? Enable two-factor authentication (2FA), a crucial security measure that requires an extra code when signing in from an unfamiliar device. In this post, I explain how to use a mobile app to make your accounts safer.

Thanksgiving Survival Guide: 8 Gadgets to Keep the Family at Bay – We all know what Thanksgiving is supposed to look like: cute grandkids, fond memories and turkey dinners as polished as a Pinterest board. But let’s be honest: Even if we love grandpa, we’ve heard the same story every year since 2003. We’d rather talk movies than aunt Mildred’s political platform. And maybe it’s time uncle Larry laid off the Merlot. With this in mind, we’ve put together a Thanksgiving survival guide: eight gadgets for putting up with eight troublesome family members.

The Top 10 Most Controversial Android Apps – In the slideshow, we spotlight 10 Android apps that kicked up a storm of controversy. Whether they posed serious security risks to users, illustrated flaws in Google’s system architecture, or just pushed the boundaries of good taste past the breaking point, these apps courted controversy and found it.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Candy Crush is taking over your Facebook feed — again – The latest puzzle game from King.com is making waves on mobile devices, and its advertising campaign on Facebook has reached millions of people.

Microsoft Lumia 635 now available for $39 off-contract – The entry level Lumia 635 is now even more affordable with Microsoft and AT&T shaving nearly 60% off its price. The 4G handset is currently available for only $39 at Microsoft’s online store. In case you’re not familiar with the device, the Lumia 635 is a decent, 4G-enabled entry level Windows Phone. The phone has some limitations and you can learn more about those and what’s it like to use the phone full-time here. However for $39, this is definitely a steal.

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Google Maps Update Adds Weather and Local Time to Destinations – Google’s changes for its latest iteration of the Google Maps Android app are small, but interesting nevertheless. Not only do you get a little extra description for your locations, but Google will now also tell you the weather at the given location as well as its local time. That might not matter that most if you’re trying to find directions to some place 20 minutes away or so, but Google’s little update certainly assists those using Maps navigation on a road trip. Don’t forget your umbrella.

Find the snow with The Weather Channel app’s new ski module – The Weather Channel app has added a ski module that shows you current conditions and the forecast of the ski resorts near your saved locations. Choose a location and then scroll down and you’ll find the new Ski Slopes section right below Airport Conditions. Powered by On The Snow, it shows the temperature, past snowfall, expected future snowfall, wind conditions and snow base. It also shows you the number of lifts open and current snow conditions. You can swipe sideways to get this information for 10 local resorts.

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New Chromebook owners get 1TB Google Drive storage for free – Are you in the market for a new computer this holiday shopping season? If so, Chromebooks might be on your short-list of possible purchases. The pros and cons of Google’s cloud-centric computers can be debated breathlessly, but one there’s one feature that might put you over the top this year. Google is giving anyone who purchases a new Chromebook a full terabyte of cloud storage via Drive for two years. Free. that’s right, buy a Chromebook, get 1TB cloud storage for two years at no cost.

Microsoft adding Skype chat to Office Online web apps – It’s one of those features that Google Drive/Docs users have been able to use for so long that it’s almost expected by now: real-time chat with others while collaborating on documents. As Microsoft has been pushing its Office programs like Word, Powerpoint, and Excel into the cloud recently, users of Office Online are finally able to communicate via built-in Skype chat.

Linux Mint 17.1 finally makes MATE’s fancy Compiz graphics easy to use – Linux Mint isn’t chasing touch interfaces, rethinking the way we use the desktop, or enacting any other grand experiment. It’s just a polished, modern Linux desktop system—and that’s why people love it. Linux Mint 17.1 (codenamed “Rebecca”) is on the brink of being released, and it continues the Linux Mint mission of refining the interface we use every day. Technically, Linux Mint 17.1 is out in “RC” or “Release Candidate” form, which just means “this exact image will become the final release unless we find any huge bugs.”

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Prices for 4K monitors sink below $500 – Prices for 4K monitors have dropped below $500, bringing them within the reach of cost-conscious buyers looking to replace 1080p displays. The prices have been falling steadily from $700 or more earlier this year. 4K monitors are available from Samsung, Sharp, Dell, Asus, Acer, Monoprice and small vendors. 4K gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times deeper than conventional 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday – Year after year, the holidays arrive a little earlier, and 2014 is no exception, with many stores already offering “Black Friday” savings. But perhaps you don’t buy into the hype. “How much can I really save?” you wonder. Truth is, you’ll need to keep tabs on opening times and lightning rounds, but deals can be had. As a result, there are a number of gadgets you shouldn’t buy before Black Friday. Check them out in the slideshow.

Contain yourself: The layman’s guide to Docker – Welcome to the age of containerization, where an ecosystem led by startup Docker is leading IT organizations to ineffable peaks of efficiency, helping them scale their workloads ever-higher, and probably baking them a nice cake to boot (it’s my birthday, I have cake on the brain, sue me). Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services are all tripping over themselves to make sure prospective customers know that their clouds are the place to be if you want to get the most from Docker. That’s great and all, but what really is Docker, and why are containers suddenly such a hot topic? Without getting lost in the weeds, and without breaking out the diagrams, let’s take a look.

Security:

Governments act against webcam-snooping websites – Government officials in the U.S. and the UK are warning people to secure their webcams after websites that broadcast the contents of those cameras have sprung up online. One of the better-known sites, Insecam, appeared to have gone offline after the warnings Thursday, but at least one site that publishes similar content was still available. The websites show footage from security cameras used by businesses and in people’s homes, including CCTV networks that secure buildings and even cameras built into baby monitors.

Highly advanced backdoor trojan cased high-profile targets for years – Backdoor Regin, as researchers at security firm Symantec are referring to the trojan, bears some resemblance to previously discovered state-sponsored malware, including the espionage trojans known as Flame and Duqu, as well as Stuxnet, the computer worm and trojan that was programmed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Regin likely required months or years to be completed and contains dozens of individual modules that allowed its operators to tailor the malware to individual targets. Regin contains dozens of payloads, including code for capturing screenshots, seizing control of an infected computer’s mouse, stealing passwords, monitoring network traffic, and recovering deleted files. Other modules appear to be tailored to specific targets. One such payload included code for monitoring the traffic of a Microsoft IIS server. Another sniffed the traffic of mobile telephone base station controllers.

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Malicious Trojan now attacking password managers – People rely on password managers to remember multiple and/or complex passwords for various accounts. If a person inputs a ‘master password’ into this manager, they can access all their previously stored credentials. These softwares are now being targeted by Citadel. Labeled as highly evasive; the trojan has already infected millions of computers according to Dana Tamir, director of enterprise security at IBM company Trusteer. While this malware isn’t exactly new, the disturbing thing revealed by IBM are the instructions it contains to compromise password management and authentication solutions. The malicious software can stay idle on machines for an indefinite length of time and then be triggered by a specific action by a user. This essentially means that most people do not even know that their computer is already infected by this malware.

15 arrested in new European crackdown of peeping tom malware users – Fifteen people have been arrested across seven European countries “who are suspected of using remote access trojans (RATs) to commit cybercrimes,” Europol said in a statement on Thursday. The people were apprehended in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Norway. The National Crime Agency (NCA), a rough British equivalent to the FBI, lead a sting operation resulting in the arrests of five (out of the 15 total) across the United Kingdom. In May 2014, over 100 people were arrested as part of a similar worldwide sting operation.

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Worst WordPress hole for five years affects 86% of sites – An estimated 86 per cent of WordPress websites harbour a dangerous cross-site scripting (XSS) hole in the popular comment system plugin, in what researcher Jouk Pynnonen calls the most serious flaw in five years. The bug could provide a pathway for attacking visitors’ machines. The WP-Statistics plugin lets attackers inject JavaScript into comments, which can then infect reader computers or those of administrators. The flaw has existed for about four years affecting versions between 3.0 to 3.9.2 but not version 4.0 which handles regular expressions differently.

Pointing up   This issue does not effect WordPress.com – this site for example.

Detekt tool hunts down government spyware on your PC – Government surveillance is a hot topic, and as news about the extent of such monitoring keeps coming, many individuals have wondered at one point or another whether any of their own data is under some agency’s watchful eye. To help (potentially) ease your paranoia is a new open-source malware tool called Detekt, which its maker Claudio Guarnieri — with support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation — says will help you determine whether your computer is infected. The malware detector is available for Windows users.

Company News:

Apple’s $450M ebook antitrust settlement approved by judge – It’s been several months now since any news has been heard about Apple’s settlement in a class-action lawsuit over the company’s ebook price-fixing. Reuters is now reporting that a U.S. District Judge has approved a settlement amount of $450 million in what was described as an “unusual” accord. Under the agreement, $400 million is to be paid to as many as 23 million affected customers, and $50 million to lawyers. Apple was already found guilty of conspiring with ebook publishers over consumer prices in a 2013 case against the U.S. Department of Justice, but filed for an appeal in February 2014.

Apple to donate portion of holiday sales to AIDS fight – During the two-week campaign, proceeds from the sales of 25 apps with exclusive new content will be donated to fight the disease.

Pointing up   Apple – The modern effective business enterprise: First, they steal our money (as per the previous entry). Then, in an attempt to appear as a socially conscious enterprise, they pander to us with our own money.

Europe’s parliament “poised to call for a break-up of Google” – “The European parliament is poised to call for a break-up of Google” in a vote next week, the Financial Times reported today. The resolution would be nonbinding, because any final action would have to be taken by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. While the parliament itself “has no formal power to split up companies,” it does have “increasing influence on the [European] Commission, which initiates all EU legislation,” the report said. “The commission has been investigating concerns over Google’s dominance of online search for five years, with critics arguing that the company’s rankings favor its own services, hitting its rivals’ profits.”

Mozilla reports flat revenue from Google-Firefox search deal – Mozilla today said that 2013 revenue from its deal with Google was flat compared to the year before, as was its income overall, even as expenses jumped by 42%. The flat-lining of revenue was in stark contrast to its previous financial statement, which had shown a bullish increase of 88%. The Mozilla Foundation’s 2013 revenue was $314 million, up half a percentage point from 2012, according to the financial statement released Friday.

Target to judge: Banks’ losses in our card breach aren’t our problem – Target’s massive data breach, in which criminals were able to drop malware onto point-of-sale systems and compromise at least 40 million credit and debit cards, is now the subject of a federal lawsuit by banks who issued those cards. And Target is arguing in court today that those claims should be thrown out, Bloomberg reports—because the company claims it had no obligation to protect the banks from damages.

Samsung demands NVIDIA sales ban in patent retort – Samsung has shown it’s not afraid to chase big legal injunctions when it believes its patents are at stake, and now it’s NVIDIA facing a US sales block at the hands of the South Korean firm. A complaint filed on Friday asks the US International Trade Commission to shut down sales of NVIDIA’s graphics chips, alleging they infringe Samsung’s own intellectual property. As with Apple, however, Samsung didn’t actually pull the trigger first: it was NVIDIA which kicked off this particular war.

Games and Entertainment:

Wii U’s five games that’ll make you happy you roll with Nintendo – Nintendo appears very much to be aiming all efforts for a resurgence at the holiday season, and with big hits – proven hits – like Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart, they may well be in for some heavy business. The Wii U hasn’t been selling at nearly so high a rate as either the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One over the past year – this console was released all the way back in the fourth quarter of 2012, after all – so why would someone want to buy a new Wii U right this minute? Games!

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Crookz brings 70s groove to the heist game genre – There’s something so satisfying about a well-executed heist. I don’t know whether it’s the idea of outsmarting an entire legion of people, or the idea of living on a beach on the fictional island of Kokomo for the rest of my life, but there’s something about that primal urge that makes me want to bust out a set of lockpicks and tune up my safecracking ear.

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Jurassic World trailer-teaser previews dinosaurs reborn – If there’s an upcoming movie almost guaranteed to get anybody who grew up in the 90s salivating, it’s Jurassic World, and so you’ll have to forgive us for getting unduly excited about the first trailer teaser. Not due to open in theaters until June 12th, 2015, the movie takes us back to an island of dinosaurs in the most exciting – and, unsurprisingly, dangerous – theme park you can imagine, with original director Steven Spielberg returning to act as executive producer on the new installment.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Benchmarked: Graphics & CPU Performance – As a long time fan of the series, our mobile editor Tim jumped at the opportunity to preview Dragon Age: Inquisition ahead of release last month. As with Kotaku’s impression of the final release, Tim concluded that the fantasy RPG’s third iteration is a must-play. Fortunately, that should be doable for most gamers with official recommended requirements including a GTX 660 or HD 7870 (R9 270), 8GB of RAM and a Core 2 Quad or Phenom II X6 — hardly a tall order, though we suspect extra firepower wouldn’t hurt. After all, Dragon Age: Inquisition has been built with Frostbite 3, the same game engine used by Battlefield 4 except BioWare also integrated a vegetation engine called ‘Speed Tree’ that has been used in many games and movies, from Avatar to Star Trek.

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Amazon to offer ad-supported free video streaming service – Amazon is one of the biggest and best sources of video content in the world, well except for BitTorrent. So it’s one of the biggest and best legal sources of video content in the world. What if you didn’t have to pay for it, though? Amazon  has been rumored in the past to create a free ad-supported video offering, and a new report from the New York Post says it’s now definitely happening. It’s not just about a Netflix alternative, though. Amazon would probably use an expansion of free streaming video to push customers into Prime memberships.

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Far Cry 4 woes with dual-core processors point to a bleak future for budget PC gamers – While controversy continues to swirl around Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s terrible PC performance, further tales of woe are starting to surface around Ubisoft’s other blockbuster holiday release, Far Cry 4. Numerous Reddit and forum users are reporting that Far Cry 4 flat-out refuses to work with “straight” dual-core PCs—chips that don’t use hyperthreading to “fake” having additional cores. Attempting to launch the game on just such a system results in a black-screen “failure to launch” bug, the users say.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Is the web dying? No, the browser’s best days are still to come – “The web is dead.” Four words repeated with alarming regularity. This time the web’s impending demise has been diagnosed by commentators based on observations that smartphone users spend overwhelmingly more time using native apps than a browser. Those warning of a moribund web seem to believe it is set on a path of terminal decline, with apps gradually eroding more and more of what was once the preserve of the browser.

Smart guns: Can tech bring transparency to law enforcement? – Yardarm Technologies developed a sensor for guns to detect when, where, and how they’re used, in hopes of improving safety and accountability for law enforcement officers.

These Are the Top 10 Telemarketer Area Codes: You’re most likely to get spam calls from these area codes – Thankfully, there are ways to spot a spam call before you pick up the phone. Recently, the folks at Whitepages analyzed the 2.5 billion calls and texts routed through its Caller ID app to look for patterns that might identify telemarketers. They found that some area codes are home to far more spam callers than others, and came up with a listing of the top 10 spam area codes in the United States. The full list is as follows:

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From Cracked19 Products You Use Every Day (That Are Basically Placebos)

Pointing up  We can exempt CCleaner – a must have application for a typical user.

All aboard the poop bus, now farting around the UK – If you’ve always found riding the bus to be, well, a crappy experience, do we have the bus for you. The Bio-Bus, which made its maiden voyage in England this month, seats up to 40 people. The bus can travel up to 186 miles on a single tank of gas that “takes the annual waste of around five people to produce,” GENeco said in a statement. Fortunately for riders, the bus itself doesn’t actually smell like a bathroom, as impurities in the biofuel are removed to reduce — or almost entirely eliminate — any odors in the vehicle’s emissions.

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ESPN bans Twitter use for baseball writer who defended evolution – Is there a modern-day Galileo in the sporting world’s midst? Is there a man who fights for science against the forces of tradition and is prepared to take any risk imaginable? I only ask because of disturbing rumbles that ESPN has prohibited one of its baseball writers, Keith Law, from using Twitter. A report on Deadspin suggests the sanction stems from Law’s defense of evolution against the creationist views of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. This defense occurred in the extremely evolved social environment of Twitter.

Something to think about:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

–     Arthur Schopenhauer   (1788 – 1860)

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinReducer – WinReducer makes a custom ISO with up to 825 different combinations to customize, integrate or reduce your personal Windows installation.

Features:

Customize Windows (Integrate cursors, themes, wallpapers or change files to improve Windows 7 appearance)

Help Tips available for each components (and all components help tips could be translated in your language)

Integrate (Applications, Drivers, Net Framework 3.5, Unattended Files or Updates to your customized Windows 7 ISO)

Load Language Files (Translate WinReducer 7.0 in your language)

Load WinReducer GUI Theme (Improve WinReducer 7.0 Graphical User Interface)

Remove Windows Components (Make your choice to reduce and adapt Windows 7 to your needs)

Use WinReducer Custom Configuration File (Load or Save Presets files, also know as wccf file, to restore or save your settings)

“All in One” ISO support with up to 50 Windows Editions

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WifiChannelMonitor – WifiChannelMonitor captures wifi traffic on the channel you choose, using Microsoft Network Monitor capture driver in monitor mode, and displays extensive information about access points and the wifi clients connected to them. WifiChannelMonitor also allows you to view the information about wifi clients that are not connected to any access points, including the list of SSIDs (network names) that they are trying to connect.

For every access point, the following information is displayed: SSID, MAC Address, Device Manufacturer , PHY Type, Channel, RSSI, Security, Beacons Count, Probe Responses Count, Data Bytes, Retransmitted Data Bytes, and more…

For every client, the following information is displayed: MAC Address, Device Manufacturer, SSID list that the client tries to connect, Sent Data Bytes, Received Data Bytes, Probe Requests Count, and more…

Limitations: Requires Microsoft Network Monitor.

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Unchecky Beta – Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer.

Have you ever felt, while installing software, that the installer tries to push additional unwanted programs at all cost? Ever missed a checkbox, and spent hours afterwards removing adware? Ever opened your browser after an installation, only to find out that you have a new homepage, a new search engine, or even a new browser?

Nowadays it’s a reality that many software installations are bundled with potentially unwanted programs, such as toolbars or scareware system cleaners. If you’re a power user, you probably know that you have to be very careful while installing software, because if you miss a checkbox you might spend hours afterwards cleaning up the mess. If you’re an average PC user, you possibly leave everything by default, thus installing lots of additional unwanted programs without even knowing it.

Unchehky’s primary feature is automatic unchecking of unrelated offers, such as potentially unwanted programs, offers to change your homepage or your search engine. With Unchecky, these offers become opt-in instead of opt-out, i.e. they will be installed only if you explicitly choose you want them (you usually don’t).

Another important feature of Unchecky is that it warns when you accept a potentially unwanted offer. Installers often provide them as a natural part of the installation, so they can easily be accepted by mistake. With Unchecky, it’s less likely to accidentally accept such offers.

Unchecky is not an universal solution, and might not support installers which were not released yet. Thus, it’s worth noting that Unchecky updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cyberwar is bullshit: As governments build stronger and smarter digital weapons, we’re all collateral damage – If cyber-defense isn’t about defending you, then what’s it about? Why are we developing and deploying these weapons if we can’t defend against them? What’s the arms race good for if it can’t protect people? But these are weapons, and weapons are their own reason.

This logic is why groups like Amnesty don’t like the term “cyberwar.” War makes it sound like two sides, America vs. China, each playing offense and defense together. But the reality is all offense, all collateral damage. We’re building better and better weapons, protecting the most powerful parts of society from attack, then leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. It isn’t America vs. China, and it isn’t cops vs. robbers. It’s boots vs. faces.

Canada: Conservative cyberlaws threaten privacy rights – Parliament is currently considering two key pieces of legislation: Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, a.k.a. the cyberbullying law; and S-4, the Digital Privacy Act. While elements of each bill are good, other aspects needlessly erode privacy rights.

Therrien warns that Bill C-13 sharply lowers the bar to police obtaining court orders to pry into citizens’ private computer lives and digital activity. Instead of needing serious “grounds to believe” wrongdoing is going on, the police need only have “suspicion.”

On that desperately thin basis they can get a court order to obtain a person’s name, address, banking card use, car movements, financial accounts, email addresses, Internet pages visited, files shared, web search history, and more.

As Therrien told a Senate committee this past week, “Reasonable suspicion is too low a threshold for allowing a wide assortment of public officers, and for a multitude of purposes, to access personal information that can be so revealing.”

He’s right. Bill C-13 should be rewritten to bring back the traditional, higher standard of “reasonable grounds to believe.” Our privacy deserves at least that much protection.

Why the Surveillance State Lives On – Once upon a time, Glenn Greenwald was a lonely voice in the blogging wilderness, and Edward Snowden was an isolated functionary at the heart of the American national-security state. Then everything seemed to change at once. Snowden, who was desperate to tell his fellow Americans of the evils of NSA surveillance, revealed his secrets to Greenwald, Congress erupted, the entire world got angry, and Greenwald won a Pulitzer and a fat media contract from a billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar while Snowden became the most famous exile in the world.

Six journalists sue over surveillance by UK “extremist” police unit – Six members of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Journalists—including comedian and journalist Mark Thomas—have filed suit against London’s Metropolitan Police after discovering that their daily activities were being monitored and recorded in a police database. The database is gathered by the National Domestic Extremists and Disorder Intelligence Unit, a task force led by the Metropolitan Police Service that tracks political and religious groups in the UK and monitors protests.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Thomas said that the surveillance was discovered through information uncovered by a request under the UK’s Data Protection Act—a law similar to the US’ Freedom of Information Act. “The police are gathering information under the domestic extremist list about journalist and NUJ members, “ he said. “And we know this because six of us have applied to the police using the Data Protection Act to get some of the information the police are holding on us on these lists. And what they are doing is monitoring journalists’ activities and putting them under surveillance and creating databases about them.”

Australia: Data retention little more than surveillance tax: Ludlam – Senator Scott Ludlam has labelled the Australian government’s proposed data-retention scheme as little more than a surveillance tax, while calling for the release of a financial study into the scheme.

Local judge unseals hundreds of highly secret cell tracking court records – A judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, has unsealed a set of 529 court documents in hundreds of criminal cases detailing the use of a stingray, or cell-site simulator, by local police. This move, which took place earlier this week, marks a rare example of a court opening up a vast trove of applications made by police to a judge, who authorized each use of the powerful and potentially invasive device.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the records seem to suggest that judges likely did not fully understand what they were authorizing. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have taken extraordinary steps to preserve stingray secrecy. As recently as this week, prosecutors in a Baltimore robbery case dropped key evidence that stemmed from stingray use rather than fully disclose how the device was used.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 24, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 21, 2014

How to protect yourself from PC tech support scams;  Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked;  12-year-old’s online life brings an abductor to her doorstep;  Amnesty, EFF, Privacy International Put Out Free Anti-Surveillance Tool;  How to recycle your phone for cash;  SwiftKey for Android update;  Amazon’s Black Friday blowout starts tomorrow;  G’MIC: An incredibly powerful filtering system for GIMP;  Remove your personal info from data brokers;  Starbucks wireless charging begins;  Far Cry 4 Benchmarked: Graphics & CPU Performance;  Call of Duty Exceeds $10 Billion in Sales;  PayPal takes 18 months to patch critical remote code execution hole;  Got a webcam? pick a stronger password right now;  HBO GO Streaming Now on Xbox One;  The Secret Life of Passwords;  Supercharge your PC’s storage with a RAID setup.

How to protect yourself from PC tech support scams – For at least four years now, scam artists have been trying to pull one over on gullible computer users with phony tech support calls. The FTC said its latest operation was the third such case since 2011. More are sure to come since putting together a scam like this is relatively cheap compared to the potential million dollar windfall. PC users need to be wary of scams like these or risk falling prey to them. We’ve included a few tips that should help you stay scam free.

Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked – Downloading mobile apps from non-official sources has become a lot more dangerous over the last year, with apps now needing more built-in protection, according to a new report. The number of Top 100 iOS apps that have been hacked1 over the past year increased from 56 per cent in 2013 to 87 per cent in 2014. The majority (97 per cent) of top paid Android apps have been hacked, according to Arxan Technologies. As a specialist in application protection, Arxan has an obvious vested interest in talking up the threat from poorly protected mobile apps. However, that’s not to say it isn’t onto something. The recent discovery of the WireLurker iOS malware provides evidence that the issue of tampered apps is a real and present danger.

Amnesty, EFF, Privacy International Put Out Free Anti-Surveillance Tool – Resistance is digital. Human rights charity Amnesty International is one of several organizations behind the release of a free, open source anti-surveillance tool called Detekt. Other partners include Privacy International and digital privacy rights organizations the EFF and Germany’s Digitale Gesellschaft. The tool itself was developed by Berlin-based security researcher Claudio Guarnieri. Detekt has been designed for Windows PC users to scan their machines for “known surveillance spyware” that its makers warn is used to “target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world”.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

HBO GO Streaming Now on Xbox One – Xbox One owners have something to be thankful for before the turkey arrives: HBO GO is now available on Microsoft’s next-gen console. Starting today, those who subscribe to HBO can sign in on their console to watch the channel’s original programming, movies, and more. The app also supports Kinect voice and gesture control, so you can simply yell at your console to turn on Game of Thrones as the Thanksgiving food coma sets in.

How to recycle your phone for cash – Even if you’re not in the market for a new device this fall, owners of ancient, cracked, and broken devices that won’t even turn on can still cash in on this promise of recompense. Here are some practical tips about the different ways you can convert your phone into at least a little bit of cash, pointers that typically apply to big-ticket electronics, too, like digital cameras and laptops. I wouldn’t count on financing a Hawaiian vacation for your efforts, but depending on how much you hoard or how savvy you sell, the dollars could really add up.

How to buy the perfect PC gaming laptop – Sure, traditional desktop PCs offer more expansion options and easier upgrade paths, and can be significantly cheaper for the performance you get. But there’s no denying the appeal of a single, self-contained gaming machine that you can move from the living room to the dining room to even the back porch. You just need to pick your gaming laptop wisely. Your decisions will key into a series of component choices, so let’s dig into them, one by one.

SwiftKey for Android update speeds up performance, adds 12 languages – SwiftKey’s newest update, launching November 20, promises to ramp up the app’s performance. The developers targeted making the keyboard more responsive when typing, to the tune of a claimed 10 to 18 percent performance increase; it also pops up and disappears from the screen faster than before, and refreshes quicker when switching between different forms.

Amazon Fire TV vs Amazon Fire Stick — What’s the difference? – Amazon has decided that Google’s Chromecast is in need of some proper competition, and so the Fire Stick was announced to fill the void. This is good news for everybody, but it raises a few questions for those who either already own an Amazon Fire TV or now have to choose between a Fire TV and a Fire Stick for their streaming media needs.

Supercharge your PC’s storage with a RAID setup: Everything you need to know – First off, storage performance tends to be one of the main bottlenecks in a typical PC, although the situation has vastly improved with the advent of solid state drives. (Yes, it’s probably your hard drive holding back your high-end PC from even greater glory.) Second, drive failure can lead to the loss of valuable data, and no one wants that. Thankfully, there’s a way to help mitigate both of these problems using a feature that’s supported on virtually every modern computer system: RAID.

G’MIC: An incredibly powerful filtering system for GIMP – What is G’MIC, you ask? It stands for Grey’s Magic for Image Computing, and it’s an easy-to-use GIMP plugin that offers a ton of pre-defined image filters and effects. The plugin is also highly customizable, with the ability to set favorites and even add your own filters. With G’MIC, you’ll find hundreds of possible filters to choose from, each of which can be tweaked to meet your needs. But before you can use G’MIC, you have to install it, because it’s not there by default.

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Google Contributor will let you pay a monthly fee to see select websites without ads – Chances are good that most of your favorite websites are almost entirely supported by advertising. In exchange for free content, the thinking goes, you have to view some ads — but Google is trying to shake up that model a bit with a new system it’s calling Contributor. Instead of dealing with ads, those who use Contributor will donate between $1 and $3 a month to see Contributor partner sites without any advertising. That money goes to the participating sites, though it’s not clear if Google is taking a cut — or if you’ll need to donate that much per site you visit.

No More Broken iPhones? Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4 – Good news for accident-prone iPhone users. Your smartphone screen could get a lot more durable in the future. Apple supplier Corning on Thursday introduced its next-generation Gorilla Glass, which it said is two times tougher than any competitive cover glass now in the market. Gorilla Glass 4 was specifically designed to address smartphone users’ No. 1 problem — screen breakage due to everyday drops, Corning said.

Amazon’s Black Friday blowout starts tomorrow, runs for eight days straight – The sales will run for eight days straight, with new deals coming as often as every ten minutes. Amazon says it will run three of its Deals of the Day on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. In addtion to the Black Friday blowout, Amazon will be running a full week of Cyber Monday deals starting on December 1st. As expected, many of the deals include blowout prices on TVs (including a 4K Samsung for $899), laptops, smartphones, fitness trackers, and more.

Staples selling ASUS EeeBook X205 with Windows 8.1 for $99 on Black Friday – On Black Friday, stores across the US try to entice you to venture out at ungodly hours of the morning and if you are in the market for a low-priced notebook, staples has one on-sale for $99.

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Groupon Black Friday Deals Also Starting Early – Groupon, the king of discounts, enters the fray this year to offer deals on an eclectic collection of electronics and devices.

Comcast says it’ll stop wasting your time, offers technician tracking tool – In Thursday blog post titled “Your time is valuable; we don’t want to waste it,” Comcast customer service chief Charlie Herrin detailed a new service that will give customers alerts 30 minutes before a technician. Comcast reduced its four-hour technician arrival windows to two hours a few years ago, and it promises $20 credits or a free premium channel for three months if they arrive late.

Technics Revived As High-Res Music Download Service – Famed turntable brand Technics plans to launch a high-resolution music download service. For what it’s worth, the service, unlike Neil Young’s high-res service Pono, will not hit the states. Starting in January, the platform will spin (get it?) 24-bit tracks to users in UK and Germany. Called Technics Tracks, it’s said to be launching with tens of thousands of tracks encoded in 24-bit FLAC. This isn’t your grandfather’s iTunes.

Starbucks wireless charging begins nationwide expansion – Customers in 200 Starbucks branches throughout the Bay Area will now be enjoying the hassle-free and tangle-free benefits of wireless charging for their mobile device. The coffee chain giant has just taken off the covers from its initiative to bring Duracell’s Powermat technology to its stores, potentially turning them even more into hubs for mobile users and workers.

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NightOwl Launches So You Can Get Drunker Better Faster Stronger – There’s nothing better than finding that special bar. The one that has your favorite scotch, or makes a mean margarita, or plays the perfect music. Finding that special bar, on the other hand, can be a real pain in the ass. That’s why NightOwl is launching in NYC. The app works almost exactly like Foursquare, but with an exclusive focus on nightlife, including bars and clubs and non-food nightly gatherings.

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App claims to know what wine or beer you’ll like before you taste it – The Next Glass app claims to have isolated the tastes of alcoholic beverages and will tell you how much you’ll like them — or not.

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You can now add Photospheres, Street View to your website – Fancy adding a bit of scenery to your website? Or maybe you want to give viewers even more detailed directions to your place of business than what a map can provide. Whatever your purpose, Google’s got you covered. In addition to the Google Maps Embed API that they expanded last March, the Google Maps team has now added Photospheres and Street Views to their list, allowing developers and website owners to generate HTML snippets that they can then embed in their webpages for all to behold.

Walmart closes price-match loophole after scammers snag $90 PlayStation 4s – Walmart tightened up its online-price matching policy after a few customers took the big box retailer for a ride.

How to delete your Uber account – Have you sworn off Uber for good? If so, here’s how you can delete your account. As The Next Web covered, deleting your account isn’t an automated process.

Security:

NSA chief admits China could cripple U.S. power grid, financial networks – China and “probably one or two” other countries could shut down critical computer networks that could force U.S. power and water grids, aviation systems, and financial services offline. National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers said on Thursday in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee that hackers have performed “reconnaissance” missions in order to work out how networks function. Those missions can be used to determine weak spots, Rogers hinted.

Pointing up   Let me rewrite the headline here – since, it seems to me, the objective is to portray China as a rogue singularity. Yet again, the U.S. (controlled by a suspect class of politicians), is portrayed as a potential victim.

China is one of a number of countries, including the U.S., that possesses the capabilities to cripple power grids and financial networks.

12-year-old’s online life brings an abductor to her doorstep: Untangling a Baltimore girl’s abduction and rape – On November 10, a 12-year-old girl left her home in the Baltimore suburb of Nottingham at 7:30am, heading to her middle school. She never returned home. When her mother called the school later, she discovered that her daughter had not even arrived. Suddenly, Baltimore County Police were calling in the FBI to assist in their search for a missing person. Luckily, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies had Doe’s real name and several aspects of her digital identity to work with, including her Xbox Live gamer tag, her Apple iCloud account, and her social media chat accounts. All of these digital identities played a role in the forensics work used to track down Jane Doe’s abductor. But they also played a major role in her abduction.

PayPal takes 18 months to patch critical remote code execution hole – Paypal has closed a remote code execution vulnerability in its service some 18 months after it was reported. The flaws reported earlier this month rated critical by Vulnerability Lab affected a core Paypal profile application.

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Remove your personal info from data brokers – Don’t want your home address or other personal info published to the world? This weekend, take an hour or two to make yourself a less visible target.

DerpTrolling leaks PSN, 2K, Windows Live customer logins – Hacker group DerpTrolling has released a “very small portion” of usernames and logins for three gaming networks in its possession as a “warning to companies”.

Got a webcam? You might want to pick a stronger password right about now – Privacy watchdog warns on default passwords as website streams video from unsecured webcams.

Tor’s feral fans are its own worst enemy – Summary: The brand image of the world’s must-have anonymity tool is starting to look a bit tattered. The fans don’t like it, but their response isn’t helping their cause.

Company News:

ISS says Microsoft’s Nadella is paid too much – A prominent advisor to big-time investors has urged clients to vote against Microsoft’s pay package for its new CEO, Satya Nadella, saying that his compensation this year was out of whack when compared to competing companies and the firm’s track record. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which advises institutional shareholders, recommended that they cast a “No” vote at Microsoft’s shareholder meeting two weeks from today.

Microsoft’s lawsuit against Samsung upheld by court – Microsoft’s recent lawsuit against Samsung for defaulting on Android royalties has been upheld by a US court despite Samsung’s plea to put the suit on hold while it files for arbitration.

Following Pressure From U.S. Senate, Uber Hires Data Privacy Expert And Legal Aid To Review Company’s Policies – In light of growing concerns around Uber’s ethics and the way it manages customers’ personal data, the company announced this morning that it has brought on data privacy expert Harriet Pearson and her team at Hogan Lovells to help it conduct an in-depth review of the company’s existing policies, and make recommendations

Google emerging-markets phone gets hung up in India as retailers cry foul – Some of India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retail chains are refusing to sell Android One devices, due to Google’s handling of online sales, as well as low profit margins, says a report.

Google signs ten-year wind deal to power Dutch datacentre – The search giant’s €600m datacentre in the Netherlands will take up one wind farm’s output for the next ten years.

Games and Entertainment:

Block N Load hands-on preview: Minecraft plus guns – I got a chance to play some Block N Load earlier this week and had a damn good time not playing a shooter. Like Team Fortress 2 and Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch, Block N Load is a role-based shooter heavy on teamwork. The key difference, of course, is that Block N Load’s roles balance between both Minecraft and typical FPS archetypes.

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Far Cry 4 Benchmarked: Graphics & CPU Performance – Graphics have always been a selling point of the series as few games offer the same open world environments that can be experienced in Far Cry. The latest iteration is no exception, as it is based on the same Dunia Engine 2 game engine has Far Cry 3. Being an Nvidia “The Way It’s Meant to be Played” title, FC4 has loads of optimizations for GeForce cards, including HBAO+, PCSS, TXAA, Godrays, and HairWorks. We used the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers on 25 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from both companies covering all price ranges. Our test rig was outfitted with the Intel Core i7-4770K to remove CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores.

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Call of Duty Exceeds $10 Billion in Sales – More than the Transformers, The Hunger Games, Iron Man and The Avengers movie franchises combined. Battle-themed video game Call of Duty has crossed $10 billion in lifetime sales, significantly bolstered by demand for its latest installment Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare earlier this month. Parent company Activison Publishing confirmed that the latest installment had the biggest launch of any entertainment product this year.

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Boxes advertising the newest installment to blockbuster video game Call of Duty is displayed in a Gamestop store in New York City on Nov. 3, 2014

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Secret Life of Passwords – We despise them – yet we imbue them with our hopes and dreams, our dearest memories, our deepest meanings. They unlock much more than our accounts.

Pointing up   Read this, and you’ll never think of passwords the same way again. It may prompt you to change some, if not all, of your passwords.

Google Says It Can Now Launch Up To 20 Project Loon Balloons Per Day – Google’s Project Loon, the company’s effort to deliver Internet access from balloons that travel around the world in the stratosphere, continues to make strides toward a commercial launch. Its balloons, for example, can now stay in the air up to 10 times longer than when the project started last year. Many now last over 100 days — and some even up to 130 days. In total, the balloons have now flown over three million kilometers (though this one, which apparently crashed in Africa a few days ago, probably didn’t make it quite as far).

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New Crisis Line Aims to Help Transgender People at Risk of Suicide – On Nov. 20, people are gathering at events around the nation to read names of transgender people who have died in the past year in violent crimes. On this somber day, an organization based in the Bay Area is trying to get the word out that there’s a new resource available to fight what may be an even deadlier problem among transgender people: suicide. According to the most definitive report on transgender issues in recent years, 41% of transgender people attempt to commit suicide, a statistic that doesn’t necessarily factor in successful attempts. That’s a number that the people behind Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860), a crisis hotline staffed entirely by transgender people, want to see decreased.

Deep brain stimulation easily beats caffeine for boosting mental agility – These lightweight, helmet-like rigs decrease some neurons’ resistance to firing, making brain activity energetically easier. The tech has long been under investigation by the military for its ability to improve hand-eye coordination, but new research is increasingly focusing on its potential to improve overall brain functioning.

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Watch This TV Reporter Get Hit in the Head by a Flying Skateboard – Mike Amor, the U.S. bureau chief for Australia’s Seven Network, was reporting from a skate park in Los Angeles when a rogue skateboard walloped him in the head. From the looks of the people around it was pretty painful, but displaying true antipodean pluck, Amor walked away with just a bump.

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The CIA’s Review Of Glenn Greenwald’s Snowden Book Is Hilarious – Earlier this year, journalist Glenn Greenwald released a book titled No Place to Hide, chronicling the Snowden leaks, and breaking new ground on the NSA itself. The book garnered a grip of positive reviews upon publication, and has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. Not bad, all told. But the most recent review of the book is by far the best. Hayden Peake, listed by the CIA’s website as the “curator of the CIA Historical Intelligence Collection,” reviewed three books on Snowden for the agency. His take on Greenwald’s tome — read the full review here for complete fun — is accidentally hilarious.

Something to think about:

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it.”

–      H.L. Mencken

Today’s Free Downloads:

Detekt – Detekt is a free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of known surveillance spyware used to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world.

In recent years we have witnessed a huge growth in the adoption and trade in communication surveillance technologies. Such spyware provides the ability to read personal emails, listen-in skype conversations or even remotely turn on a computers camera and microphone without its owner knowing about it.

Some of this software is widely available on the Internet, while some more sophisticated alternatives are made and sold by private companies based in industrialized countries to state law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries across the world.

There is little to no regulation currently in place to safeguard against these technologies being sold or used by repressive governments or others who are likely to use them for serious human rights violations and abuses.

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Pointing up   Started a quick run on a personal machine just to get a shot of the GUI – pretty simple.

Please be aware that Detekt is a best effort tool. While it may have been effective in previous investigations, it does not provide a conclusive guarantee that your computer is not compromised by the spyware it aims to detect. The tool is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees of any kind.

Bacon Root Toolkit – Unlocking, rooting, relocking and unrooting simplified! (and much more!) From the author of the popular Nexus Root Toolkit.

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BlueStacks Beta – BlueStacks runs Android OS and apps on Windows PCs with instant switch between Android and Windows – no reboot is required. End consumers can now enjoy their favorite Android apps on Windows PCs. Android apps can appear either as icons on the Windows desktop, or within a full-blown Android environment.

BlueStacks helps PC manufacturers to ride the Android momentum by enabling Android apps on x86-based tablets, netbooks, notebooks, convertibles and AiO Windows PCs. With the new hybrid convertible form factors, BlueStacks completely eliminates the need to carry two devices. The end consumer benefits from getting both Android and Windows at the price of a single PC.

BlueStacks integrates seamlessly with Citrix and Microsoft software delivery infrastructure and with Citrix’s Enterprise App Store. With BlueStacks, enterprise IT can deliver Android apps securely and effortlessly to any end point running Windows.

The seamless user experience, simultaneous use of Android and Windows apps, and multi-touch enablement are built on ground breaking virtualization technology which requires zero configuration and is transparent to the end consumer.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA director: No changes in telephone record collection coming – The NSA will continue to collect U.S. telephone records in bulk, while operating under some restrictions that President Obama put on the program in January, Admiral Michael Rogers, the NSA’s director, said during a House of Representatives hearing on cybersecurity Thursday. The NSA would rather wait to see what specific changes to the program Congress will require before making major changes, he told the House Intelligence Committee.

Data exchange talks lag, jeopardizing US firms’ ability to operate in Europe – Thanks to revelations about government spying, a revamped version of a 15-year-old agreement governing the exchange of personal data between EU and the U.S. still seems a long way off, threatening the ability of American companies to do business in Europe.

The E.U. Safe Harbor framework is a set of standards for protecting the privacy of EU residents when their data is transmitted to the U.S. It contains policy directives that must be taken into account in order for companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and thousands of small companies in all sorts of businesses to process data in the U.S. from EU citizens.

However, the revelations by Edward Snowden about U.S. National Security Agency spying have shaken European confidence about data exchanges between the EU and the U.S. In November last year, about five months after Snowden’s leaks appeared in the press, the European Commission sent a list of 13 demands to the U.S., basically saying: This is what we need you to do to keep the Safe Harbor agreement in place.

U.S. Firms Accused of Enabling Surveillance in Despotic Central Asian Regimes – U.S. and Israeli companies have been selling surveillance systems to Central Asian countries with records of political repression and human rights abuse, according to a new report by Privacy International. The U.K.-based watchdog charges that the American firms Verint and Netronome enable surveillance in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Verint’s Israeli arm provides those countries with monitoring centers “capable of mass interception of telephone, mobile, and IP networks,” the report says, as does the Israeli company NICE systems. Verint also enlisted California-based Netronome to give Uzbek agents the ability to intercept encrypted communications, Privacy International says, though it’s not clear whether the program was carried out successfully.

The report provides a broad picture of surveillance in a region that is marked by repression. Kazakhstan has been condemned for laws restricting free speech and assembly, flawed trials, and torture. As for Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch bluntly characterizes the country’s human rights record as “atrocious.” Privacy International includes testimony from lawyers, journalists, and bloggers in Uzbekistan who had transcripts of private Skype calls used against them in trial, or had interactions with intelligence officers that made it clear the authorities had access to their private communications.

Utah lawmaker wants to shut off NSA’s water supply for good – A bill is moving forward in the Utah State Legislature that aims to eventually shut down water to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new massive data storage facility at Bluffdale, just south of Salt Lake City.

Since July 2013, NSA’s water usage at Bluffdale site has fallen by 55 percent.

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee discussed the bill that “prohibits cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state.”

Rep. Marc Roberts, the bill’s author, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. As currently drafted, the bill would let the Bluffdale contract with the NSA continue until it runs out.

In this desert state, water has been a key issue at the Bluffdale site—particularly since a Salt Lake Tribune reporter, Nate Carlisle, has been actively trying to figure out how much water the NSA uses in the Beehive State.

Julian Assange’s arrest warrant still stands, Swedish appeals court rules – On Thursday, the Svea Court of Appeal upheld a city court’s decision, saying in an online statement that “Julian Assange is suspected on probable cause of crimes including rape (less serious crime) and that there is a great risk that he will evade legal proceedings or punishment.”

The Australian remains wanted in Sweden for questioning relating to alleged sex offenses dating back to 2010—however, Assange has not yet been formally charged with a crime. According to Assange’s own September 2013 affidavit, he stated that the women he slept with specifically said they were not accusing him of rape and that police “made up the charges.”

As a result of the case, Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012. The embassy, in turn, is constantly surrounded by London police—the city government is spending around $16,000 each day to keep an eye on Assange. He refuses to go to Sweden over fears that he will be extradited to the United States to face further potential charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified material.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 21, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 20, 2014

Shoppers Just Don’t Care About Credit Card Hacks;  5 Ways Identity Theft Can Ruin Your Life;  10 Noob mistakes Android users make;  The best tablet deals for Black Friday;  Your complete guide to Apple’s iCloud Drive;  Three apps that let you create and customize your own widgets;  Hands-on with Facebook Groups;  Google Serves Up Thanksgiving Travel Tips;  Bogus tech support operations scammed $120 million;  How to stop SMS spam on your Android or iOS phone;  Malware’s new target: your password manager’s password;  Firefox drops Google as default search engine;  Humans Have Become Too Good at Lying;  Duke it out on Middle-Earth via a Chrome Experiment;  Avira Free Antivirus.

Shoppers Just Don’t Care About Credit Card Hacks – If neither shoppers nor shareholders ultimately punish big businesses for data breaches, will companies move to prevent them before they occur? “In the end, the market’s behaving completely rationally,” says Avivah Litan, a security analyst for Gartner. “It’s still a pain in the neck for everyone, but there’s very little actual fraud committed as a result of these breaches.”

5 Ways Identity Theft Can Ruin Your Life – Identity theft sounds scary, but for many, the meaning isn’t entirely clear. What does it mean to say someone has stolen your identity? Just what are the consequences? As it turns out, those consequences can range from having to get a new credit card to spending time in jail. Let’s look at just what kind of trouble an identity thief can cause you.

10 Noob mistakes Android users make – Whether you’re coming from an iOS background, a BlackBerry background, a Windows Phone background, or dare I say a dumb phone background, Android will shock your system. Your eyes will be opened, and you’ll see everything in a completely new light. But you’ll also make some mistakes, like loading up your phone with battery-draining Live Wallpaper, or accidentally downloading an obviously virus-laden app. Whether this is your first Android device or your fiftieth, here are 10 mistakes all Android newbies make.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best tablet deals for Black Friday – This Black Friday is flush with tablet deals aimed at nearly everyone, from casual users to movie-buffs.

Your complete guide to Apple’s iCloud Drive – iCloud Drive will store and sync your files across all of your devices. It’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about it.

Here’s What Happens to Your Spine When You’re Constantly Texting – Your Candy Crush addiction might be harming your neck more than your productivity, according to new research. Looking down at your phone can add up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine, depending on the angle. That’s according to a new study from spinal surgeon Dr. Kenneth Hansraj and published in Surgical Technology International.

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Three apps that let you create and customize your own widgets – Some of the widgets built into Android, or that come packaged with apps, are limited in functionality. And sometimes you want to go the whole nine yards when it comes to customizing your Home screen so that not only the wallpaper and icons match, but the widgets do, too. If that sounds like you, check out these three fantastic apps for making and customizing your own widgets.

Hands-on with Facebook Groups, a spin-off app you’ll actually want to use – Facebook’s Groups are one of the network’s original features. They’ve changed over the years, like the rest of the network, but Groups remain incredibly popular, even though they’re buried in the left rail of your News Feed like afterthoughts. This year, Facebook started to declutter its unwieldy big blue app by spinning off features into separate, stand-alone services. This week, Facebook Groups got the same treatment with a brand new iOS and Android app that takes the Groups that more than 650 million people use every month and makes them easily accessible.

Google Serves Up Thanksgiving Travel Tips – The Google Maps team looked at Thanksgiving traffic conditions over the last two years for 21 cities across the U.S. to bring you some useful information that should hopefully make your holiday trip a little easier. Those cities include: Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

Amazon uses Snapchat to send exclusive deals – Black Friday is here early and it may start on the app known for ephemeral messaging. The e-commerce giant grows its social media efforts in order to attract more mobile-friendly shoppers.

Amazon Fire TV Stick now shipping, out of stock until 2015 – Amazon’s Fire TV Stick wants to keep pace with the competition, just like big-brother Fire TV. On both fronts, Amazon’s TV ambitions are to keep up with rivals like Roku or Chromecast. All three offer their own take on the plug-and-play TV dongle, and those who purchased an Amazon Fire TV Stick will soon have theirs in-hand and on-TV. After what Amazon describes as their “most successful device launch ever”, the Fire TV Stick is now shipping.

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This is how Google is dealing with ‘right to be forgotten’ requests – About six months after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave Europeans the right to compel search engines to remove search results in Europe for queries that include their names if the results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive,” Google’s team has reviewed about 170,000 requests to delist search results that covered over 580,000 links, Google’s Global Privacy Council, Peter Fleischer, said Wednesday. So far, about 42 percent of the requests have been granted, while about 58 percent were denied by the team, which looks at every request, according to an online tool provided by Google that tracks the takedowns in real time.

Barbie book implies girls can’t be coders; Mattel apologizes – Mattel says a Barbie book that suggests girls can’t handle computer code doesn’t reflect its brand vision. That won’t stop the uproar surrounding the title, which is still available to buy.

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Digital eye strain: Understanding the condition and how to fight it – Technology can be such a headache. We’re not talking about bad software, we’re talking about the damage blue light can do to your eyes from staring at screens all day.

Pointing up    This past year I have noticed some level of eye discomfort following a full day on the net/machine. Recently, I installed a free application – f.lux – that has significantly eased the problem. A super application.

From the site: f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again. Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. f.lux will do the rest, automatically.

Visit beautiful Australia from the comfort of your computer – In collaboration with New South Wales National Parks and Catlin Seaview Survey, and in celebration of the once-a-decade IUCN World Parks Congress, 21 national parks and 27 underwater locations for Australia have been showcased on Street View, with special collections on the Street View website. Locations include the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour, Bondi Beach, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Cape Byron Lighthouse and Mount Kosciuszko. You can have a look through a selection of these in the gallery below, and hit up the National Parks and Australian Oceans landing pages for your own browsing.

Security:

How to stop SMS spam on your Android or iOS phone – The bad news is that mobile spam—either the iMessage variety or plain-old SMS spam—appears to be on the rise, and tracking down the spammers is about as easy as quelling a hive of hungry cockroaches. The good news, though, is that the latest iPhones and Android phones will let you block unwanted callers and texters—including mobile spammers—with a fair amount of ease.

FTC says two bogus tech support operations scammed $120 million from customers – The Federal Trade Commission has temporarily closed two operations alleged to have tricked customers out of $120 million by providing bogus technical support. The commission has brought two cases against the groups, both of whom reportedly offered specious advice and fake security software to computer users, before charging money to “activate” the useless programs.

Malware’s new target: your password manager’s password – Cyber criminals have started targeting the password managers that protect an individual’s most sensitive credentials by using a keylogger to steal the master password in certain cases, according to research from data-protection company IBM Trusteer. While the current impact of the attack is low, the implications of the attacker’s focus is that password managers will soon come under more widespread assault, Dana Tamir, director of enterprise security for IBM Trusteer, told Ars Technica.

Long-running Android botnet evolves, could pose threat to corporate networks – An Android Trojan program that’s behind one of the longest running multipurpose mobile botnets has been updated to become stealthier and more resilient. The botnet is mainly used for instant message spam and rogue ticket purchases, but it could be used to launch targeted attacks against corporate networks because the malware allows attackers to use the infected devices as proxies, researchers from security firm Lookout said.

BitTorrent dismisses Sync security concerns – The cryptographic implementation is solid and cannot be compromsied through a remote server, the company said.

Company News:

Firefox drops Google as default search engine, signs five-year deal with Yahoo – Today, Yahoo and Mozilla announced a five-year partnership that would make Yahoo the default US search engine for Mozilla’s Firefox browser on mobile and desktop. In December, Yahoo will roll out an enhanced new search function to Firefox users, and will also support Do Not Track functions in Firefox as a result of the partnership. The agreement also sets the stage for future product integrations, but so far the companies are keeping quiet on what those might be. Firefox has lost market share in recent years but is still used by roughly 17 percent of webgoers. According to Mozilla CEO Chris Beard, Firefox users search the web more than 100 billion times each year, suggesting a major windfall for Yahoo as a result of the deal.

Samsung confirms it will launch handset with flexible, foldable display in 2015 – Samsung has said that it will begin volume production of flexible displays for smartphones that can be folded next year, and the first such device will go on sale before the end of 2015.

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RelativeWave Gets Acquired By Google And Starts Giving Its $80 App Design Tool Away For Free – RelativeWave, creators of an $80 “interaction design and prototyping” Mac app called Form, has been acquired by Google. As a result, Form is now free. Form isn’t an app maker. That is, you don’t end up with an app that’ll do much on its own, or that you can distribute. Instead, you’ll get a rough prototype — a feel for whether or not a potential design (and many of its nuances, like the specifics of how an animation flows) are heading in the right direction. If doodling on a napkin is a 1 and actually coding the app is a 10, building a prototype with Form is somewhere around a 6.

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Apple Relabels “Free” Download Buttons On iTunes And Mac App Store To “Get” Following Pressure from EC – Across the iTunes and Mac App Stores today, a minor but also notable change is taking place with regard to how Apple is marketing its iOS and Mac applications. Instead of free apps being labeled as “FREE,” the download button now reads “GET.” The change likely has to do with increased pressures from the European Commission, which this summer, succeeded in forcing Google to relabel apps that offer in-app purchases.

BitTorrent Plans $40/Year Pro Tier For Sync File Sharing, Plus A New Mobile App To Send Large Files – BitTorrent is taking the wraps off the next phase of its strategy to turn its peer-to-peer file sharing network into a revenue-generating business, and compete more squarely against cloud-based services like Dropbox. In 2015, it will move its file-synchronising product — fittingly called Sync — out of beta as Sync 2.0, introducing a new “Pro” tier in the process for $39.99/year. And, expanding on some of the file-sending functionality of Sync, BitTorrent will introduce a new, as-yet unnamed mobile app focused specifically on large files.

Nielsen tipped in plan to monitor subscription video viewership – Nielsen plans to start monitoring video streaming services’ viewership numbers, shedding light on figures that have long been hidden from the public. Such information comes from the Wall Street Journal, which reports that it has viewed client documents related to the plan. The plan won’t include tracking viewership habits that take place on mobile devices (for now, at least), but will use Nielsen meters to analyze audio for determining what shows are being watched on other devices. The resulting numbers could, among other things, help studios negotiating with the services.

Games and Entertainment:

Duke it out on Middle-Earth via a Chrome Experiment – Fans are probably just counting down the days before the final Tolkien film lands in cinemas. But while whittling down the days, they can entertain themselves, and their friends mayhaps, by taking a virtual journey to Middle Earth. No you will not need some magical portal or even a ticket aboard Air New Zealand. All that is required is for you to fire up your Chrome web browser for this interactive tour of the fantasy world that also lets you even reenact the epics battles with your friends.

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Xbox One turns one on Saturday; 2 billion hours spent gaming and free swag for everyone – This Saturday, November 22nd, the Xbox One will turn one year old and Microsoft is celebrating that event with giveaways for everyone and a few gift bundles for random winners too.

Check out these amazing photos taken in the new ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ – A new and improved version of Grand Theft Auto V launched this week on PS4 and Xbox One, bringing with it beautiful graphics and a crazy new first-person mode. It makes for an intense new gaming experience, but players are also putting down their guns and taking some amazing photos in the more detailed version of Los Santos. And using the hashtag #gtaphotographers, they’re sharing those snaps, which include a lot of cars, landscapes, and even a few cute dogs. Check out some of the best right here.

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Obscenity laws prevent Indian release of Dragon Age: Inquisition – EA has announced that it will not be releasing a version of fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition in India “in order to avoid a breach of local content laws.” But just what local content laws are being breached is a matter of some debate.

Free Destiny demo with transferable characters now available on all consoles – The news comes directly from Bungie, who announced the program on their support forums. Destiny Trial and Demo – same thing just different names – are available on whichever console you prefer PlayStation 3 or 4 and Xbox One and 360. If you finish the demo and decide to purchase the game your character will transfer to the full purchased version even if that’s on a different console – but not a different console family. Meaning you can transfer your 360 character to the Xbox One, but not to a PlayStation.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

U.K. lad is youngest ever Microsoft Certified Professional at five years – A five-year-old boy from Coventry has become the youngest ever Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). Ayan Qureshi took the same Microsoft tests as IT pros after previously settting up his own computer network at home. The boy, who has now turned six, has a father who is an IT consultant.

NASA visualizes a year of carbon dioxide emissions – Seeing a visual representation of how much carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere really hits home the impact humans are having on the Earth.

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Pointing up    We can continue to ignore reality – but, we will not be able to ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

Ashton Kutcher, Uber investor, wanders into the dumbest fight of his life – Uber investor Ashton Kutcher is defending Uber from comments that one of its executives made on Friday, in which the exec casually threatened to launch a smear campaign against a specific journalist who had written negatively about the company. In a series of tweets, Kutcher questioned whether Uber business exec Emil Michael’s suggestion that the company hire researchers to dig up dirt on journalists was really a bad idea. “What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?” Kutcher tweeted, without noting what was “shady” about the journalist in question.

Anonymous wages cyberwar on the KKK with #OpKKK & #HoodsOff – Anonymous has been waging cyberwar on the KKK after the hate group said it would use ‘lethal force’ on Ferguson protesters. The KKK threatened to shoot anyone wearing a Guy Fawkes (Anonymous) mask. The FBI warned there will likely be violence and attacks on critical infrastructure; the Missouri Governor declared a state of emergency authorizing the National Guard to support police.

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‘Smart Pipe’ is every bad startup in one delightful parody – “Your anus is the key to your future,” trumpets a bespectacled man at the end of the fake Smart Pipe infomercial. This phantasmagorical episode is the latest in Adult Swim’s delightful parody series, which was responsible for last week’s viral hit, “Too Many Cooks.” It opens with a snappily dressed man introducing us to one of the hottest “disrupt” technologies in town, a pipe capable of reading and interpreting your fecal matter. From there, things only get more surreal. The 11-minute video quickly descends into a riot of buzzwords, pompous expositions, and even an encounter with an alleged paedophile. What really sells the clip, however, is its sly takedown of the technology industry’s worst sins, including the sales of customer data and its obsession with social media sharing.

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Toronto wants court to shut Uber down – The City of Toronto wants a local court to shut down the Uber. The news comes just one day after an Uber executive was revealed to have suggested digging into the personal lives of journalists who write about the ridesharing company. In its Tuesday application for an injunction, Toronto claims that the company “operates in breach of the City’s licensing by-laws insofar as, among other things, it operates as a taxicab brokerage and limousine service company.” Uber has fought similar regulatory battles elsewhere around the globe and has prevailed to some degree.

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Is 2014 the Year We Hit the Technology Tipping Point? – Earlier this year, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer said more users would access its content on mobile devices and tablets than on personal computers. That’s the type of trigger that has her and many pundits proclaiming 2014 as a “tipping point” for technology.

Humans Have Become Too Good at Lying – Language is one of the most effective lie-detectors we have. But we suck it all up. We know lies happen every day and we just accept it. From PRs embellishing the truth to sell something (or doing that annoying “Re.” thing in the email subject line—mate, we haven’t ever had a conversation about your natty Christmas stocking fillers), to politicians bullshitting their way into power, we’ve come to expect and accept it. Without lies, society as we know it wouldn’t make sense. A good, decade-old New Yorker cartoon about a politician talking to press surmises it neatly: “I’m not spinning—I’m contextualizing.”

Something to think about:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

–     Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avira Free Antivirus – Avira AntiVir Personal FREE Antivirus was developed to be a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection to home-users, for personal use only, and is not for business or commercial use.

Avira AntiVir Personal gives you the following functions:

Control Center for monitoring, administering and controlling the entire program

Central configuration with user-friendly standard and advanced options and context-sensitive help

Scanner (On-Demand Scan) with profile-controlled and configurable search for all known types of virus and malware

Integration into the Windows Vista User Account Control allows you to carry out tasks requiring administrator rights

Guard (On-Access Scan) for continuous monitoring of all file access attempts

Integrated quarantine management to isolate and process suspicious files

Rootkit protection for detecting hidden malware installed in your computer system (rootkits) (Only for 32-bit systems)

Direct access to detailed information on the detected viruses and malware via the Internet

Simple and quick updates to the program, virus definitions, and search engine through Single File Update and incremental VDF updates via a webserver on the Internet

Integrated Scheduler to plan one-off or recurring tasks, such as updates or test runs

Very high rates of virus and malware detection using innovative search technologies (search engines) and heuristic search processes

Detection of all common archive types, including detection of nested archives and smart extensions

High-performance multithreading function (simultaneous high-speed scanning of multiple files)

Features:

AntiVir protection against viruses, worms and Trojans AntiDialer protection against expensive dialers

AntiRootkit protection against hidden rootkits

Faster Scanning up to 20% faster

AntiPhishing protection against phishing

AntiSpyware protection against spyware and adware NetbookSupport for laptops with low resolution

QuickRemoval eliminates viruses at the push of a button

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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AppRemover – AppRemover fully supports the thorough uninstallation of hundreds of antivirus and antispyware applications. The following support chart is updated with each new release. The chart lists two different types of supported applications. One set has been verified by OPSWAT Labs testing. The other set lists applications that have been reported as supported by the hundreds of thousands of users that have previously downloaded AppRemover. After using AppRemover, please take a moment to answer a few brief questions about the product. Your feedback will greatly improve AppRemover’s effectiveness.

In addition, AppRemover may be able to successfully remove other security applications on your system. However, these are not guaranteed.

Use AppRemover:

When replacing one security application with another

When competing security applications tie up your computer

When the application’s built-in uninstall process fails

When you have forgotten the application password

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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Pointing up   Quick Tip – replacing one security application with another, can often result in a messy outcome unless the installed application is uninstalled with the specific tool offered by the vendor – many AV vendors offer such a tool. The built-in uninstaller (in the application to be deleted), is not to be trusted in my view.

AppRemover, which I use regularly following an AV test, has performed flawlessly over the years. It does exactly what it says it will do. A very handy tool.

BleachBit – BleachBit deletes unnecessary files to free valuable disk space, maintain privacy, and remove junk. Rid your system of old clutter including cache, cookies, Internet history, localizations, logs, temporary files, and broken shortcuts.

It wipes clean Adobe Reader, Chromium, Firefox, Flash, GIMP, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Internet Explorer, Java, KDE, OpenOffice.org, Opera, RealPlayer, Safari, Skype, VIM, and more.

All in all, BleachBit will offer you the possibility to get back disk space as well as keep your privacy.

Features:

Simple operation: read the descriptions, check the boxes you want, click preview, and click delete.

Free to share, learn, and modify (open source)

Free of adware, spyware, and malware

Translated to 27 languages

Shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery

Shred any file (such as a spreadsheet on your desktop)

CleanerML allows anyone to write a new cleaner using XML

Frequent software updates with new features

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Reacts To The Demise Of Partial NSA Reform In The Senate – The failure of the Senate to advance NSA reform in the current Congress isn’t too popular with the technology community. The demise of the USA FREEDOM Act — a half-measure at best — in the Senate is another loss for the technology industry, which saw many of its leading companies repeatedly call for the bill’s passage.

The FREEDOM Act was aimed at ending the NSA’s collection of American’s telephone metadata, a controversial program that the Snowden leaks uncovered.

The Act was no panacea, but it did appear to be an achievable piece of legislation. The House passed a version of the bill that was mocked after it was neutered before passage. The Senate’s variant was stiffer. It was called a first step. Even that couldn’t pass.

Reaction by tech industry groups to the 58-42 has been negative. The group Reform Government Surveillance, which counts Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook as members released a small statement saying that it was “disappointed in the Senate procedural vote.” The influential Business Software Alliance called it a “missed opportunity.”

The big tech companies appear content to speak through groups that they are members of, sparing them the need to directly criticize member of Congress that, in many cases, are about to take the majority position in the upper chamber.

Beefed up iPhone crypto will lead to a child dying, DOJ warned Apple execs: Apple is “marketing to criminals,” US No. 2 cop says – The No. 2 official at the Justice Department recently warned top Apple executives that stronger encryption protections added to iPhones would lead to a horrific tragedy, such as a child dying, because police couldn’t access a suspect’s device, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Justice Department officials wasted no time objecting to the changes and used the scenario of a child being kidnapped and murdered to drive home their claim that Apple was “marketing to criminals.” According to the WSJ, Justice Department officials including Deputy Attorney General James Cole met with Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell and two other company employees on October 1. Reporters Devlin Barrett, Danny Yadron, and Daisuke Wakabayashi gave the following account, which they attributed to the recollections of people who attended.

Congress Is Irrelevant on Mass Surveillance. Here’s What Matters Instead – The “USA Freedom Act”—the proponents of which were heralding as “NSA reform” despite its suffocatingly narrow scope—died in the august U.S. Senate last night when it attracted only 58 of the 60 votes needed to close debate and move on to an up-or-down vote. All Democratic and independent senators except one (Bill Nelson of Florida) voted in favor of the bill, as did three tea-party GOP Senators (Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Dean Heller). One GOP Senator, Rand Paul, voted against it on the ground that it did not go nearly far enough in reining in the NSA. On Monday, the White House had issued a statement “strongly supporting” the bill.

The “debate” among the Senators that preceded the vote was darkly funny and deeply boring, in equal measure. The black humor was due to the way one GOP senator after the next—led by ranking intelligence committee member Saxby Chambliss of Georgia (pictured above)—stood up and literally screeched about 9/11 and ISIS over and over and over, and then sat down as though they had made a point. Their scary script had been unveiled earlier that morning by a Wall Street Journal op-ed by former Bush Attorney General Mike Mukasey and former CIA and NSA Director Mike Hayden warning that NSA reform would make the terrorists kill you; it appeared under this Onion-like headline:

As Microsoft battles feds on email access, Ireland asks EU to join the fight – The Irish government is turning to the European Commission for help dealing with U.S. demands for email stored in Microsoft servers in Ireland and allegedly containing information on drug trafficking. If the Department of Justice gets its way, it may end up bypassing European data protection laws, the Irish government said in a request for legal guidance.

Microsoft is appealing a U.S. district court ruling to hand over the email to U.S. law enforcement.

The court, overruling Microsoft’s opposition to a magistrate judge’s decision, said that the location of the data was not a relevant factor in deciding whether the U.S. Department of Justice has the authority to seize the data. It also ruled that DOJ prosecutors do not need to seek the cooperation of Irish authorities.

The case is now in front of a U.S. appeals court but meanwhile it “raises important issues about the interface between EU and US law on data protection,” specifically in relation to the protection of personal data, the Irish Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Dara Murphy, told the European Commission late Tuesday.

“By seeking direct access to data held in the EU through the US judicial system, existing legal mechanisms for mutual assistance between jurisdictions may be being effectively bypassed,” Murphy said, adding that the case has given rise to legal uncertainty and the outcome could have potentially serious implications for data protection in the EU.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 20, 2014

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