Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 5, 2014

14 Tips to Help You Master Microsoft OneDrive;  The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week;  3 things to consider before ditching your laptop for a tablet;  ClickN KIDS Tablet 2 boasts Intel hardware, Google Play;  These four file sharing apps offer speed, security and more;  Everything You Need to Know About Uber;  Is Google Inbox a worthy replacement for Gmail?  Microsoft Teams Up With Dropbox;  HP Resurrects Omen Gaming PCs;  Grand Theft Auto V Gets A Huge Update For Xbox One, PS4, And PC;  4 great new things about Gmail for Android; Here’s Where You Can Try Out Skype’s Speech Translator;  New PS4 bug-fixing update to be released soon;  What Windows diehards will love and hate about Windows 10;  Tweaking.com – Windows Repair Portable (free).

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

14 Tips to Help You Master Microsoft OneDrive – Lots of storage, you install the software to sync your files (or just turn it on in Windows 8), so you set it and forget it, right? You shouldn’t. There’s a lot more to OneDrive than that. Check out our list of tips in the slideshow. You’ll get the scoop on exactly what you need to take full advantage of a service that could be named Windows Live SkyFolderShareMeshDrive… but thankfully, is not.

These four file sharing apps offer speed, security and more – Gone are the days when you relied on one computer to get all of your work done. Also gone? The days when you shared information with people on paper. Today, it’s all digital. Whether you need to get information synced across multiple devices or simply want to share files with friends and family, there’s an app that can help.

4 great new things about Gmail for Android – The new Gmail app for Android gets a new look, new ways to add accounts and a more efficient interface.

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What Windows diehards will love and hate about Windows 10 – The buzz of Microsoft’s leap to Windows 10 may be dimming, but the big, 640-million-user question remains: If you skipped Windows 8 because the initial two-face kludge left you cold, should you think about upgrading to Windows 10? Or has Microsoft gone down so weird a tiled rabbit hole that you should dig your heels into Win7 and kiss the new direction good-bye?

3 things to consider before ditching your laptop for a tablet – We’re finally at a point where dumping your laptop for a more mobile tablet is pretty realistic. Just make sure you choose the tablet that will do everything you need it to.

Nexus 9 teardown: ‘An exercise in corner cutting’ – While the processor and display might be top end, the rest of the new Nexus 9 tablet disappoints the iFixit team.

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Here’s Where You Can Try Out Skype’s Speech Translator – Skype Translator employs machine learning to better understand human speech over time. Microsoft says it improves with use: “It’ll have a few rough edges but the more conversations it translates, the better it’ll get.” People who want to test Skype Translator have to register via Skype’s website—the preview is only available for Windows 8.1 computers and tablets. So far, the program offers 12 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese) French, Italian, Korean, Russian, English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

BeOn Burglar Deterrent uses smart LED light bulbs to deter home break-ins – When you’re away from home, this security system responds to your doorbell by mimicking your at-home lighting usage.

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Sharp’s security camera captures color video when it’s pitch black – Cat burglars, beware: Sharp has a security camera that can shoot in the dark and in color. The Infrared Color Night-vision Camera, model LZ0P420A, is the first security camera that can record color footage in zero-light environments, according to Sharp. The camera works by shining a near-infrared light on a target area so that its 1/3-inch, 1.3-megapixel CCD chip can capture color images. It can record footage in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30 frames per second. However, a person in the area wouldn’t be able to see a thing.

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ClickN KIDS Tablet 2 boasts Intel hardware, Google Play – Not all kids tablets are alike: while (almost) all of them are durable enough to handle being tossed and dropped, many are lackluster when it comes to features. They’re slow and sometimes buggy, and may have limited app options. That isn’t the case with CNK Digital’s new ClickN KIDS Tablet 2, a slate that has Intel hardware under the hood and, among other things, Google Play, allowing the device to run whatever apps the users’ parents allow. The tablet is available for pre-order in the US as of today for $99.95.

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Hands-on with the Kano: The Linux kit that wants to help kids love coding – Kano, a small British start up with strong Israeli ties, set out to make the inside workings of a modern computer accessible to children again. The idea behind the project is get kids coding and hacking themselves, and was inspired by one of the founders’ seven-year-old cousin who wanted to build a computer and wondered if it could be made as easy as playing with Lego. Kano has definitely fulfiled the goals it set out to. In aiming to get today’s younger generation interested in how computers work, expose and stimulate them to explore the insides of a modern computer, both on the hardware and the software and coding front, and get them creating content on a computer and not just passively consuming it – Kano has hit its mark, and very well.

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Amazon now offers unlimited cloud photo storage to all Prime members – Amazon has announced that starting today all Prime subscribers get unlimited storage in the cloud to upload their images. The offer was previously limited to Fire device owners but is now open to all.

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Xbox Music appears poised to release OneDrive-powered music locker service – Free ad-supported streaming may be leaving Xbox Music, but Microsoft may still give non-Music Pass subscribers a reason to use the service.

Is Google Inbox a worthy replacement for Gmail? – About a week ago, I was finally invited into the fold of that mysterious world of Inbox. Like so many others, I had to find out what Google had up their sleeve. Could they improve the already outstanding Gmail app and web interface — and just what is the reasoning behind the change? After using Inbox for about a week, I already can see the light. Inbox is not just a worthy contender for Gmail, but a perfect evolution of the interface and system used by millions of people.

Virgin Media’s wi-fi on the Tube arrives at 150 stations – The company and London Underground celebrate the latest landmark in a key service for Londonders. The 150 stations that are now connected to its wi-fi network can be used free if charge by Virgin Mobile customers of course, along with those of EE (Orange and T-Mobile), O2, Three and Vodafone. Customers not on those networks can buy a pay-as-you-go wi-fi pass, starting at £2 a day and rising to £15 for two months’ access as a special offer.

Everything You Need to Know About Uber – Get up to speed on this e-hailing car service before you get taken for a ride.

Security:

Bitdefender Rating Slips in Independent Test – Some antivirus products just seem to float at the very top in all of the independent lab tests. Kaspersky is an example, with perfect scores from multiple labs. Bitdefender comes close, most of the time. However, in the latest report from Dennis Technology Labs, Bitdefender slipped significantly.

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Mac OS X ‘rootpipe’ security vulnerability discovered, but there’s no fix date yet – If you’re running the latest version of Mac OS X, you should avoid running your computer with admin privileges for a little while. A White Hat security researcher has discovered a security vulnerability he calls “rootpipe,” and currently Apple has no fix date for the issue.

BlackEnergy cyberespionage group targets Linux and Cisco – Variants of the BlackEnergy plug-ins developed by the cyberespionage group were discovered for both Windows and Linux systems. They enhance the malware program with capabilities like port scanning, password stealing, system information gathering, digital certificate theft, remote desktop connectivity and even hard disk wiping. Different selections of plug-ins are deployed from command-and-control servers for every victim, depending on the group’s goals and the victim’s systems, the Kaspersky researchers said.

OpenBSD 5.6 Replaces OpenSSL with LibreSSL – The new SSL/TLS library was built as a response to post-Heartbleed dissatisfaction with OpenSSL. Whether it’s as true a plug-in replacement as it claims to be is yet to be determined.

Ubuntu is working on a new secure container hypervisor: LXD – Security is a big concern for users of container technologies, but Ubuntu, with Docker and LXC, thinks it has a solution.

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Containers are more efficient than virtual machines but are potentially less secure.

Company News:

Microsoft Teams Up With Dropbox – Today Microsoft and Dropbox announced a partnership that will see Dropbox better support Microsoft’s Office suite, and the latter better integrate into the product stack of the storage firm. The news comes after Box, another enterprise-facing storage firm, integrated with Office 365, Microsoft’s Office-as-a-service solution, and OneDrive improved its product mix with unlimited storage. The deal has four main parts: Quickly editing Office docs from the Dropbox mobile app; accessing Dropbox docs from Office apps; sharing Dropbox links of Office apps; and the creation of first-party Dropbox apps for Microsoft’s mobile offerings.

LG, Google ink 10-year patent licensing agreement – If you’re tired of hearing patent squabbles left and right (though we haven’t actually heard from Apple and Samsung recently), then this might come as a refreshing change. LG and Google have announced that they have reached a long-term cross-licensing agreement that will let both companies take a peek and use the other’s portfolio of patents. Conversely, it also protects both from lawsuits that involve each others patents, leaving them free to work on their products and technologies, most likely ones surrounding Android and smart devices, without fear of litigation.

SoundCloud partners with Warner in licensing deal – SoundCloud has struck their first licensing deal, bringing Warner Music Group into the streaming business. In the deal, Warner will get a cut each time one of their songs is played via SoundCloud’s ad-supported service, as well as via a new SoundCloud subscription service launching next year. The service, which has 175 million monthly users, currently offers no royalties to any record label for offering their music via the service. Warner is the first label to earn money via SoundCloud.

Microsoft announces nine new countries for Office 365, now available in 140 markets – Microsoft has announced that nine new markets will now be able to buy Office 365 subscriptions, bringing the total number of Office 365 markets around the world up to 140, up from just 40 in 2011.

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Alibaba Posts 54% Revenue Increase, But Net Profit Falls Below Expectations – Alibaba beat already high expectations for revenue growth in its first quarterly earnings report since its record-setting $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September, but missed its profit forecast. The company reported earnings per share of $0.45 on revenue of $2.74 billion for the quarter, a 54 percent increase. This exceeded analysts’ expectations for revenue of $2.61 billion. But its net income fell below expectations, rising 15.5 percent to $1.11 billion, compared to the $1.17 billion analysts predicted.

Apple replaces Samsung as top mobile brand in China – Samsung was replaced by the iPhone maker as No. 1 in China’s mobile sector this year, according to the China Brand Research Center’s 2014 China Brand Power Index ranking report released Tuesday. The Suwon, Korea-based company had previously held the top spot since 2012.

Games and Entertainment:

HP Resurrects Omen Gaming PCs – HP today signaled that it is willing and able to go toe to toe with Dell’s Alienware gaming line by resurrecting the Omen brand name that it acquired when it bought VoodooPC in 2006. The notebook is built around a 1,920-by-1,080-resolution touch-screen IPS display, an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU. Styling is subdued and dark, consisting of an entirely black chassis and a backlit chiclet keyboard with a one-piece touchpad. Customizable lighting effects cover seven zones, including portions of the keyboard and the backlit speaker grills. A row of six programmable function keys will help gamers with weapon loads or switching input setups.

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EFF wants to legalize bringing ‘abandoned’ games back online – Some video games become totally impossible to play when their developer shuts down their servers, so the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants everyone to have the right to tweak their games to get them running again. It’s filed a petition with the Library of Congress and the US Copyright Office asking that modifying a game be considered fair use when it’s done so that a game can be made playable again after a developer has “abandoned” it and stopped running servers needed to allow gameplay. That would allow gamers to continue playing games longer after their release and for archivists and researchers to work with games far in the future without worrying about running afoul of copyright laws.

Grand Theft Auto V Gets A Huge Update For Xbox One, PS4, And PC – Today Rockstar Games unveiled some new footage of Grand Theft Auto from the version set for release on the PS4 and Xbox One on November 18 and the PC on January 27. The biggest reveal: there’s now going to a mode where you play like a giant open-world first-person shooter.

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New PS4 bug-fixing update to be released soon – Sony is announcing a new version of their PS4 OS, v 2.01. The update, which is coming soon, is aimed at fixing some of the bugs that were recently introduced with last month’s update 2.0.

Chris Hadfield’s ‘Space Oddity’ returns to YouTube with David Bowie’s agreement – In case you missed astronaut Chris Hadfield’s extraterrestrial rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” the video is once again up on YouTube. The cover will enjoy a two year lifespan, thanks to a new agreement between him, David Bowie’s publishers, and the Canadian Space Agency.

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Nvidia’s bundling free copies of Ubisoft’s hottest games with high-end GeForce cards – Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, or The Crew can be yours for free if you buy a powerful new GeForce graphics card this holiday season.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Proposed Changes To Emoji Standard Would Allow For More Diversity, Increased Selection Of Skin Tones – Last summer, an article on Fast Company asked an important question related to the increasingly popular picture-based character set called emoji, now found on the majority of modern smartphones: Are emoji racist? The problem, the post pointed out, is that the people characters in the emoji set based on the Unicode standard tended to be overwhelmingly white. Where was the diversity? Where were people of color? The Unicode Consortium, the industry body responsible for defining the emoji character set, is now working on changing things.

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Oregon And Washington, D.C. Vote To Legalize Recreational Marijuana – Voters in several states and cities went to the polls Tuesday to consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use, medical purposes, and other initiatives that would make access to pot easier. Here’s a look at the results. The general attitude toward marijuana has been shifting in the past decade with Washington and Colorado the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. In addition, 18 states have decriminalized weed, and 23 states have passed laws in support of medical marijuana.

Self-driving car advocates tangle with messy morality – It’s not all about 3D laser scanners and infrared cameras. Self-driving car engineers also must decide whether it’s better for a car to kill one person to save five.

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Stanford engineering professor Chris Gerdes has been examining the complexities of programming self-driving cars to make moral decisions — in this case, the “trolley problem” involving a decision that saves some lives at the expense of another’s.

Orfos creates a force field of light around your bike – Using neodymium magnets and a unique process that embeds LEDs in silicone, the Orfos lights bring the power of flares to your bike. The Orfos Flares create their powerful glow, which the manufacturers claim can be seen for a full 360 degrees, in a unique way. They have nine half-watt LED bulbs embedded in clear silicone to create a powerful diffuse light that makes the red light equal to 300 lumens, or as much as a car’s taillight, and the white light equal to 500 lumens, as much as a car’s daytime running lights, according to the manufacturers.

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This contraption turns Coca-Cola into pure drinking water – Launched during Dutch Design Week, “The Real Thing” wants you to think about a world where it can be easier to get a coke than clean water.

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The 100 most cited papers of all time show how science really gets done – I really hate the “…and you won’t believe who’s on it!” headline style, but in this case it was almost warranted. Nature Magazine, one of the few surviving great-grandaddies of science publishing, has compiled a list of the 100 most cited scientific articles of all time — and you won’t believe who’s on it.

Something to think about:

“Life isn’t perfect and a lot of what makes it so tough is the hard time we give ourselves trying to pretend it’s all perfect.”

–     Amy Poehler

Today’s Free Downloads:

The brand-new Pixlr for desktop is here – Pixlr has been a favorite online photo editor and mobile app for years. Now, you can get the same Pixlr experience with even more fun and powerful tools on your Mac or Windows computer. Getting started is easy – download Pixlr and start transforming your photos into works of art.

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Pointing up   This is an Autodesk product and should be worth taking for a test drive.  The screen shot shows the first launch on a personal machine.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair Portable – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions. Installer version also available.

Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With Tweaking.com – Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair can do the following:

Reset Registry Permissions

Reset File Permissions

Register System Files

Repair WMI

Repair Windows Firewall

Repair Internet Explorer

Repair MDAC & MS Jet

Repair Hosts File

Remove Policies Set By Infections

Repair Icons

Repair Winsock & DNS Cache

Remove Temp Files

Repair Proxy Settings

Unhide Non System Files

Repair Windows Updates

and more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft’s top legal gun decries privacy ‘arms race’ – The conflict between snooping governments seeking to defeat encryption and users demanding ever more robust privacy tools has turned into an arms race — and it’s time for arms control talks, Microsoft’s general counsel said on Tuesday.

Resolving that conflict requires a new consensus on how to balance public safety and personal privacy, Brad Smith said in a forum at Harvard Law School. “Ultimately there are only two ways to better protect peoples privacy: stronger technology or better laws,” he said.

In an expansive conversation about privacy and rebuilding trust in technology after revelations of widespread government spying, Smith talked about Microsoft’s first “sea-change” moment. It came in the year after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, when Microsoft, among other Internet companies and telcos, was asked to voluntarily share data with U.S. law enforcement.

Spying And Police Requests For Facebook Data Up 24% Since 2013 – Facebook continues to fight dragnets for private data by governments, but the combined number of requests from local law enforcement and federal spy agencies like the NSA went up 24 percent from the last half of 2013 to the first half of 2014, according to Facebook’s new government requests report. In the U.S., Facebook received 15,433 data requests about 23,667 accounts, and was forced to provide data for 80.15 percent of the requests.

Meanwhile, countries with local laws about objectionable content increased their requests to Facebook to restrict content by 19 percent, with the most coming from India, Pakistan and Turkey.

In the report, Facebook details how it’s still fighting what it calls an overly broad search warrant for data about suspects in a disability fraud case. Of the 381 people the goverment requested data about, only 62 were later charged, giving credence to Facebook’s argument that law enforcement overstepped its bounds by asking for data on so many people. Facebook writes that “Despite a setback in the lower court, we’re aggressively pursuing an appeal to a higher court to invalidate these sweeping warrants and to force the government to return the data it has seized.”

When Is Congress Going to Rein In FBI Surveillance? – According to James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Americans should be deeply skeptical of government power. You cannot trust people in power.”

So it’s been jarring to learn new details about his own agency’s activity in recent months, many of which raise questions about whether the FBI is fulfilling its constitutional obligations. The most alarming of these revelations is that the Bureau is reading the emails of people–they don’t know how many people–without court orders.

The FBI does this under what have been called “backdoor searches.” When the feds collect content from people overseas who are suspected of terrorism or spying, they dump that into a database that the FBI can (and does) query when it gets tips. Director Comey said in response to a question after his s​pe​ech at the Brookings Institution last month that this only happens “pursuant to an investigation.” But that’s not true–FBI’s personnel can access Americans’ emails even before they start a formal investigation.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 5, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Bitdefender Rating Slips in Independent Test

    I ran with Bitdefender for about a year, after getting a 12 month free licence through my bank. I didn;t stop using it because it didn’t work efficiently, it was because it was forever connecting to the internet and I couldn’t figure out why.

    I decided to lash out some money and try ESET NOD32 ( 46 buck Australian for a year). It rarely connects to the internet except for updates and such, and I am quite impressed with its protection. That graph above reinforces my opinion.

    I notice AVAST has great protection statistics, but for some reason, I have always had problems when I tried this. Either not picking up sample malware or just plain not working. I’m not bagging it, it is probably something unique to my machine. It’s also hard to uninstall completely without a specialized tool.

    Sad to see MSE results, it used to be a great AV.

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      Yeah, I remember that. I’ve been running with Bitdefender antivirus free for about a year on my primary and I’ve been totally satisfied. Still, I’m deleting it today in favour of Avast 2015 free – I want to checkout the router component.

      As for NOD32 – always has been one of the very best. Doesn’t get the write-ups it deserves.

      Totally agree with you on MSE. It was so simple, unobtrusive, and it worked. What the hell happened?

      Best,

      Bill