Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 4, 2014

Five apps for degunking your system;  UK spy chief throws privacy in the fire, says it’s not an ‘absolute right’;  Microsoft ends retail sales of Windows 8;  Clear your app caches to clear up Android phone issues;  Google Just Released a Brand New Google Calendar App;  Wearable Tech Gadgets;  Complete guide to Android 5.0 Lollipop;  Review: iPad Air 2 is slimmer and faster;  Wi-Fi security vs. government spies;  Flaw in Visa cards could ring up a very large fraud;  The 5 Best Wii U Games Right Now;  Cocoon smart monitor listens for shock waves to detect intruders;  Internet Archive brings 900 classic arcade games to your browser;  See how Steve Jobs saved Apple;  Can listening to sad music make you happier?  The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science;  FBI Director Comey on needing access to dark encrypted closets where monsters hide.

Five apps for degunking your system – All systems, be they desktops, laptops, smartphones, or tablets need a little cleaning now and then. Sometimes the cleaning is just a simple riding various caches or deleting unwanted files. Other times, the cleaning is deeper and more involved. No matter what the situation, you need the tools to be able to rid that system of what ails it. Clean up your Windows, Linux, and/or Android systems with the help of these handy tools.

Clear your app caches to clear up Android phone issues – It can be easy to forget that your smartphone is just as much of a computer at the PC sitting on your desk. And like all computers, things sometimes go wrong. Files get corrupted. Apps that worked fine a week ago decide to crap out. If an app on your Android phone has suddenly stopped working correctly and relaunching the app didn’t help, clearing the app caches may get things working properly again.

Google Just Released a Brand New Google Calendar App – One of the biggest changes in the new Google Calendar app is that e-mails will integrate seamlessly into the calendar. If you get an e-mail confirmation for a flight, hotel reservation or any other scheduling notification, Google Calendar will automatically pull in the details, so you no longer have to flip between apps or screens to copy and paste the details. Events also will be updated in real time, so if your flight gets delayed, for example, Google Calendar just might know about it before you.

Going so soon? Microsoft ends retail sales of Windows 8 – Windows 8 has passed the first milestone on its way to retirement after Microsoft ended retail sales of the operating system. As of 31 October, retailers will no longer be able to order more Windows 8 to sell beyond their existing stock, although it can still be bought installed on a new PC. The operating system went on sale just over two years ago on 26 October 2012, and Microsoft is already shifting emphasis to Windows 10, expected in the middle of next year.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Windows 10 Technical Preview, keylogging, and you – The Windows 10 Technical Preview can track your keystrokes and listen to your speech. It’s for research rather than spying, but still something to keep it in mind if you’re going to use it.

This is your complete guide to Android 5.0 Lollipop – Android 5.0 Lollipop brings with it an interface overhaul and several other new features. Here’s everything you can do with it.

5 Android apps already redesigned for Android 5.0 – Android 5.0 Lollipop means lots of app updates to use material design guidelines. Here’s 5 of the best apps that already do.

Wearable Tech Gadgets – An interactive database on more than 250 wearable tech gadgets. Data and images from Vandrico, authors of “the most comprehensive database on wearable technology”.

Samaritans Radar depression app raises Twitter privacy concerns – A newly launched app by a UK suicide prevention charity is raising massive privacy concerns by monitoring Twitter accounts without user consent. The app works by proxy. When a user downloads and signs up to Samaritans Radar, the app then has access to the Twitter accounts followed by that user. It will monitor those accounts, looking for key phrases in public Tweets. These include the terms such as “depressed”, “help me” (probably not parsing for Star Wars fandom), “tired of being alone”, “hate myself” and “need someone to talk to”.

Dell Black Friday 2014 ad leaks with sub-$200 Windows 8.1 tablet, laptop, desktop deals – The first major tech retailer to see its Black Friday ad leaked will have doorbusters that include a $149.99 8-inch tablet, a $189.99 laptop, and a $199.99 desktop all powered by the latest version of Windows.


Microsoft starts taking sign ups for its Skype Translator preview – Microsoft is seeking testers for its Skype Translator real-time video translation service, which will be available in limited preview form before year-end.


Here’s Why Taylor Swift Pulled Her Music From Spotify – The 1989 star has been outspoken about singers valuing their music by saying no to low-royalty streaming services.

Disney Movies Anywhere now lets you buy once and watch on any iOS or Android device – It sounds a little complicated at first glance, but in the demo Google and Disney executives gave us, it’s a pretty seamless process. When you create a Disney Movies Anywhere account on Disney’s site (or in Disney’s iOS and Android apps), you’re now given the option to link both your iTunes and Google Play accounts to it. Once those accounts are added, you’ll be able to play of those Disney movies through the Disney Movies Anywhere app or on Disney’s site, regardless of where you first purchased them.


Review: iPad Air 2 is slimmer and faster, but with a smaller battery – Performance enhancements will appeal to those who run graphically demanding apps, although Apple’s quest for thinness comes at the cost of reduced battery capacity.


Verizon and AT&T aim to support HD Voice calls between networks in 2015 – Most people still don’t know the joy of placing an HD Voice call from their smartphone, but Verizon and AT&T say they’re working together to change that. Today both carriers announced that they expect to reach VoLTE (voice over LTE) interoperability sometime in 2015. Those are the two biggest wireless providers in the United States, so once support’s there, a whole lot of consumers will quickly start experiencing the huge leap in quality that comes with HD calls. HD Voice routes calls over each carrier’s 4G LTE technology to achieve clearer, better conversations.

Kids won’t do chores? Call in this mole for undercover parenting – It may look like just another toy, but this smartphone-controlled stuffed animal lets you communicate with kids in a unique way.


Don’t Move tags stick to anything and alert if disturbed – Living in shared accommodations can be a hassle, as can working in an office or any other number of situations where people are prone to getting in your stuff. There are tricks to determine if something has been tampered with: tape over a drawer seam, a penny precariously balanced on an edge. They’re archaic and not terribly accurate, among other things, and now fully obsolete thanks to the roster of connected devices that abound. The “Don’t Move” Bluetooth tags, a new product being funded on Indiegogo, may stand chief among them all.


Cocoon smart monitor listens for shock waves to detect intruders – Another connected home security device has surfaced, this one designed to be both simplistic and highly sensitive to when a problem arrives. It achieves this sensitivity using what the makers call SUBSOUND technology, which is said to allow the device to detect motion in a different room, no other sensors needed. This is joined, as you’d expect, by a smartphone app that lets you peek through the Cocoon’s integrated camera. If someone is poking around who isn’t welcomed, there’s an alarm that can be triggered, as well.


There’s roughly one WiFi hotspot for every 150 people in the world right now – One of the most significant increases is due largely to home Internet providers offering a separate WiFi hotspot service through the home router they sell to users, making it so anyone with an account can access a separate network that is broadcasting from your home or business. As a result, there has been an 80% increase in worldwide hotspot availability in the last year alone. In North America, that increase looks more like 690%.

Mozilla announces the first web browser “built by developers for developers” – Mozilla has announced that it is launching a new web browser designed exclusively around developers’ needs, and which it says will ‘make life easier’ for devs, helping them to become more productive.


New Ponemon report shows cybercrime is on the rise – The Ponemon Institute completed their annual look at how well companies are coping with cyber attacks. Cybercrime is up 10.4% over the previous year. The Ponemon Institute added a new country to this year’s survey list. There are now seven countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, France, and new this year is the Russian Federation.

Wi-Fi security vs. government spies – At The Intercept, Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire have just published software manuals from “The hacking suite for governmental interception.” The software is called Remote Control System (RCS) and it is made by an Italian company, Hacking Team. The Hacking Team CEO says the software, which can “activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords,” is used in over 40 countries. One way of installing RCS software on a target device is over Wi-Fi, and page 117 from the RCS Technicians Guide caught my eye. You can see it below.


Flaw in Visa cards could ring up a very large fraud – Visa’s contactless payment cards will approve very large transactions in currencies other than the British pound due to a flaw in a protocol, U.K. researchers contend. They concluded it would be possible for criminals to turn a mobile phone into a point-of-sale terminal and pre-set a large amount of money to be transferred from a payment card even if it was in someone’s pocket.

Android Lollipop: Taking mobile security to a new level – Lollipop is almost here, and it should be the most secure Android experience to date. But does this mean security is completely out of the hands of the users? Jack Wallen takes on this question.

Adobe’s e-reader software dials back data collection after privacy uproar, EFF says – Tests on the latest version of Adobe System’s e-reader software shows the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related dustup last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on ebooks that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Fake AdBlock App Infiltrates Google Play – This week, Malwarebytes shows us the app that made it past Google’s app store guardians and, potentially, onto hundreds of thousands of phones.

Company News:

Apple plans investor call ahead of potential bond sale – Apple is planning an investor call ahead of a potential bond sale, the third in the company’s history. The iPad and iPhone maker is working with Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs in order to organize the call, according to the Wall Street Journal. The publication, citing a person familiar with the matter, says that Apple may be considering selling bonds in euros — a break from other sales which have only taken place in US dollars.

Sprint trims subscriber losses in Q3, hangs on as third-largest U.S. carrier – In the company’s earnings call late Monday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced a loss of 500,000 postpaid phone connections during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a loss of 620,000 in the second quarter and 693,000 in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Sprint has lost about 1.8 million postpaid customers.

Nintendo Slowly Modernizes Its Online Strategy – In a “Semi-Annual Financial Results Briefing” released last week, Nintendo publicly discussed its evolving digital strategy. The Japanese video game hardware and software developer has spent years playing catch-up with rivals Microsoft and Sony, and it was good to see the company acknowledge some of its shortcomings and show that it is looking to improve.

Google CEO Larry Page says company should change its mission statement – Larry Page says the company has outgrown its mission statement to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ – but admits he doesn’t know what comes next.


Google announces Hindi-language website – With India’s English-speaking population mostly online, the search giant has decided to target the other billion people in India who do not speak English, starting with Hindi.

Stumbling Samsung Puts The Focus On China – While the world continues to muse over the dramas unfolding at Samsung following a decent 60% dip in profits year-on-year, the Korean smartphone giant is turning its focus in China with a series of brand building initiatives.

Games and Entertainment:

The 5 Best Wii U Games Right Now – So you just picked up Nintendo’s Wii U, and you’re wondering what to buy. That’s something we can say now—the “after you bought it” thing—because with the newer consoles, every game is available through the console’s e-tail store as a digital download. Or maybe you haven’t bought one yet, but you’re leaning in Nintendo’s general direction. Either way, we think these are hands-down the best games on the platform at the moment.

Building a better Paris in ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ – With new technology comes new possibilities, and the virtual rendition of Paris in ACU is the most detailed city the team at Ubisoft Montreal has built to date. It’s both huge and dense, and even features plentiful interior locations and underground tunnels to explore. The streets are teeming with people — upwards of 10,000 Parisians can be featured on screen at a time. Great pains were made to ensure the city in the game was true to the one that existed in 1789, but much was also changed.


Internet Archive brings 900 classic arcade games to your browser – Late last year the Internet Archive branched out into video games, adding a section of the site called the Console Living Room that backed up early console games. What started with five systems—the Atari 2600 and 7800, the Magnavox Odyssey, the ColecoVision, and the Astrocade—has since expanded to include everything from classics like the Sega Genesis to weird also-rans like the Watara SuperVision. And as of this week, it now also includes arcade games. Yet another branch of the ever-expanding Internet Archive, the new Internet Arcade brings over 900 classic arcade cabinets to your browser.


The Internet Arcade makes it easy to run classic arcade games (Pictured: Galaga) right in your browser.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Funeral – There’s nothing like pressing “X” to pay respects to your best buddy after a lengthy, deadly battle. That’s what the newest Call of Duty knows, and that’s what the newest Call of Duty shows in Advanced Warfare’s funeral. It’s not the first time you’ve been able to “pay respects” to a fallen comrade in a game, but it is the most recent. And it’s reminding us of the lines the video games cross on a regular basis. With Kevin Spacey, to boot.


Off Topic (Sort of):

See how Steve Jobs saved Apple – Apple’s visionary co-founder returned at a time when the company was on the brink of destruction. Here are the moves that kept Apple alive.

The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science – A year-long survey by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has revealed the top 10 most persistent earworms — with the Spice Girls topping the list.


Predicting the next decade of tech: From the cloud to disappearing computers and the rise of robots – Summary: Making short-term decisions about technology investment is relatively easy; trying to work out how IT will develop over the next decade is much harder.

Can listening to sad music make you happier? – New study looks at the surprising role listening to sad music could play in improving your emotional well-being.


Sad music, like the “Midnight Sonata” by Beethoven, could help you through troubled times, a new study reports.

Intel: A tiny video drone? Disguised as a BRACELET? Great! Take half a million dollars! – Do you like drones? Do you like fashion? Do you want a drone that doubles as a fashion accessory? No? Well, too bad, because Intel has decided that the time is right for a quadcopter drone you bend and snap into an armband.


Charting the Origins and Future of Anonymous – Anthropologists often get immersed in the once-hidden culture they are exploring. With her latest book, Gabriella Coleman decided to fix her anthropologist’s gaze on Anonymous. Coleman’s book is an intriguing yet, at times, deeply disturbing tale. It tells what happens when the CSIS (the Canadian equivalent of the CIA) comes knocking on your door, what punishment befalls you when you go idle inside a furtive IRC channel, and the realities of the digital age (“I quit carrying a personal tracking device, or cellphone if you will, post-Snowden,” she said).

Greeks BEST in WORLD – at, er, breaking their mobile phones – Insurance is dull. Mobile phone insurance is doubly so, to spice it up insurance company SquareTrade has published figures for how good people in different countries are at using their phones without falling over. It transpires that the Poles and Belgians are very good, while the Greeks and Italians are the most likely to have a stumbling accident and damage their precious mobes. And iPhone users are the most clumsy smartphone users. According to SquareTrade, those British users with faith in the Jesus phone are 37 per cent more likely to have an accident than other smartphone users.


Something to think about:

“Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.”

–        Terry Pratchett

Today’s Free Downloads:

WSCC – Windows System Control Center – Install, update, execute and organize utilities from suites such as Microsoft Sysinternals and Nirsoft Utilities.

WSCC can install and update the supported utilities automatically. Alternatively, WSCC can use the http protocol to download and run the programs. WSCC is portable, installation is not required. Extract the content of the downloaded zip archive to any directory on your computer.

This edition of WSCC supports the following utility suites:

Windows Sysinternals Suite (including support for Sysinternals Live service) and NirSoft Utilities.


Tunngle – Tunngle is a revolutionary p2p VPN tool that delivers the best online entertainment experience. Tunngle is specifically designed to allow PC gamers all over the world to comfortably play their games over the Internet while enjoying all the commodities of a Local Area Network party.

Tunngle is literally built around games. Each game has its own public network. Each network comes with its own chat! You can bookmark, list and search!

Tunngle comes with its own integrated messenger. Adding buddies, making friends is just a few mouse clicks away!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI Director Comey on needing access to dark encrypted closets where monsters hide – In a series of recent speeches, FBI Director James Comey discussed fighting monsters, the militarization of police, online terrorist propaganda, the risk of Going Dark due to encryption and how we need to stop before the U.S. becomes a ‘law-free zone.’

UK spy chief throws privacy in the fire, says it’s not an ‘absolute right’ – Summary: Britain’s new eavesdropping agency’s chief publicly sets out his views and possible agenda by taking embracing the “collect it all” side of the debate.

British spy agency demands more help from tech titans – Following US government counterparts, the new head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters criticizes tech firms for permitting terrorists to use their services.

Hacking Team Responds in Defense of Its Spyware – Last week, The Intercept published manuals showing the workings of an invasive spyware tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to authorities in dozens of countries around the world.


Hacking Team’s CEO David Vincenzetti responded to our piece over the weekend with a letter addressed to The Intercept’s editors (and also sent to the company’s mailing list):

British Spies Allowed to Access U.S. Data Without a Warrant – Newly released documents from the British government reveal a lack of judicial oversight for how it sifts through communications data collected by the NSA and other foreign governments. (recommended by Fred)

Australian government’s metadata access may be widened – Summary: The Attorney-General’s Department has admitted that proposed mandatory data retention legislation may be used for far more than what the government has claimed it will be required for.

New NSA director renews pitch to Silicon Valley – Nevermind the surveillance spat between the US government and the tech titans of Silicon Valley: NSA Director Mike Rogers wants to mend fences.

Top appeals court to hear why NSA metadata spying should stay or go – On Tuesday, three judges at one of the nation’s most powerful appellate courts will hear oral arguments in the only legal challenge to result in a judicial order against the National Security Agency’s (NSA) vast telephone metadata collection program. That order was put on hold pending the government’s appeal in this case. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals could overturn last year’s unusual lower court ruling that ordered an end to the program, or the court could confirm it.


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