Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 11, 2014

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster;  9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying;  Five data recovery tools that could save the day;  Google publishes free Android Lollipop how-to guide;  When your Ethernet won’t connect;  You can finally fix Instagram caption goofs;  How to Curb an Online Porn Addiction;  Acer is giving away one month of free international Skype calls;  5 quick tips – Google Calendar app;  All US Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers;  The Top Four Android Threats;  Dragon Age Inquisition Review: This Is the One You’ve Been Waiting For;  Target Tips Black Friday Deals;  President Obama Calls For A Free And Open Internet;  Germany tops table of Facebook data requests.

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster – Fortunately, there are a slew of ways to breathe new life into an older PC that’s starting to feel a little pokey. Even better: Most are outright free, a couple of (still low-cost) hardware upgrades aside. Sure, these tweaks and tips aren’t as thrilling as booting up a brand new PC for the first time—but they’ll let you continue to get the job done with the gear you already have.

Five data recovery tools that could save the day – There are a lot of ways to lose critical data — like hardware failure, an OS crash, a user error, or a malicious attack. If it happens to you, one of these tools may help you get that data back.

9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying – Facebook is giving users more control over what kind of posts show up in the News Feed, which is controlled by a secret Facebook algorithm and shows a small fraction of all available posts each day. Spending just a few minutes navigating the social network’s settings menus can make Facebook a less chaotic experience and ensure that your data remains more private. After trawling through Facebook’s hundreds of settings options, TIME compiled this list of tips to help you get the most out of your time on the world’s largest social network:

When your Ethernet won’t connect – A wired connection should be simple plug-and-play, but all too often that’s not the case. Here’s what to do if your ethernet connection seems dead.

Google publishes free Android Lollipop how-to guide in Play Store – The Android Quick Start Guide is a free download on Google Play Books that outlines basic Android Lollipop features, such as connecting your Google account, setting up a security screen, and how to track down a missing device with Android Device Manager. It also details the new Messenger app that now handles SMS and MMS (which still work with Hangouts if that’s your preference). The book also gives cursory mention of Android Auto and Android TV.

Microsoft’s Black Friday deals start today, $99 HP Stream 7 with Windows 8.1 – Microsoft has released their Black Friday deals and the savings start today with an HP Stream 7 that is on-sale for only $99; it’s also a ‘Signature Edition’ too, which means no bloatware.

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Target Tips Black Friday Deals on iPad, Xbox One, GoPro – This Black Friday, Target is running deals on some of the hottest gadgets of the season, including the Apple iPad, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and GoPro Hero 3+. The deals will be available on Target.com on Thanksgiving morning for those who want to shop early. Target will officially open its doors to Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m.

‘Snail Mail My Email’ converts your digital message into a letter and mails it for free – For one week only, ‘Snail Mail My Email’ is converting your digital message into a handwritten letter and send it out anywhere in the world for free; the project will end on November 16, 2014.

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You can finally fix Instagram caption goofs – Instagram has always been about sharing the moment, but the inability to edit captions once posted has also made it a frustrating way to share typos, too. Happily an update today is addressing that, with caption editing now supported on both iOS and Android so that any goofs, last-minute hashtag addition, or other essential tweaks can be made without having to delete the whole photo and post it again from scratch. Meanwhile, Instagram is also making it easier to find new people, by building out the Explore page.

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Acer is giving away one month of free international Skype calls – Have friends living across the border? Have family that are currently traveling? Read this to learn how to get your voucher for one month’s free unlimited international Skype calls, courtesy of Acer.

Facebook racks up 500 million Messenger users after making people use Messenger – Facebook’s move to spin off messages into a separate app was an unpopular one, but a success nonetheless. Facebook Messenger now has 500 million monthly active users, more than doubling the size of its base in the last six months. During that time, Facebook cut off access to in-app chat and began requiring users to install Messenger to send, receive, and read messages, which explains the sudden spike.

Microsoft’s $199 Work & Play Bundle combines many subscriptions into one – For anyone that wishes to buy into Microsoft’s ecosystem and save a little money, there’s good news for you. Microsoft announced the “Work & Play Bundle”, a Microsoft subscription-based services consolidation that includes yearly memberships to Xbox Live, Office, Skype and Xbox Music for $199. The bundle is available through January 4, 2015 through physical Microsoft Store locations, which currently only exist in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Developer edition and privacy are Firefox’s 10th birthday present for the world – The main feature of the new Firefox release, 33.1, is a “Forget” button on the toolbar that can instantly wipe the last five minutes, two hours, or one day of browsing history, cookies, and tabs. This isn’t a new capability itself—the Privacy panel of the options dialog has long offered this ability—but in Firefox 33.1, it’s now instantly accessible.

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Mooltipass Is A PIN-Locked USB Box That Stores All Your Passwords Offline – Meet Mooltipass, a device taking aim at the password problem — the problem being we desperately need better passwords to secure our digital stuff but our feeble human minds have trouble remembering enough complex strings to maintain robust security across a range of services. Mooltipass’ makers reckon the solution to this problem is to AES-256 encrypt and store all your passwords in an offline device, taking the strain out of remembering multiple complex passwords while also promising better security than using password manager software (they claim) — being as the USB hardware device sandboxes your encrypted credentials offline. Ergo they are harder for a hacker to nab.

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$20 “Model A+” is the cheapest Raspberry Pi ever – After releasing a revised version of the Raspberry Pi Model B (dubbed “B+”) in July 2014, the low-cost computer project has produced its cheapest model yet, which will retail for just $20—$5 less than the previous Model A. On Monday, Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton announced the Model A+, “which uses the BCM2835 application processor and has 256MB RAM, but it is significantly smaller (65mm in length, versus 86mm for the Model A) [and] consumes less power.”

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Boop Lets You Send Self-Destructing Animated Messages – Today sees the launch of Boop, a fun take on the self-destructing messaging idea. Namely, messages received via the iOS and Android app are displayed in animation form, one word at a time, plus emoji — a feature that emphasises their ephemeral nature but also makes messages harder to screen capture.

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5 quick tips for getting started with the new Google Calendar app for Android – The newly designed Google Calendar is live in the Google Play Store. Here’s a few tips for getting started.

Six clicks: Time-saving iOS, Android apps for business users – Summary: What Android and iOS apps are out there to save business executives time when on the road?

Security:

All US Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers – All United States Postal Service (USPS) employees’ personal data—including names, addresses, social security numbers—has been exposed as the result of a hack believed to have originated from China. According to its own tally, USPS employs over 600,000 people. The USPS does not believe that in-store customer data was exposed, but customers who contacted the agency via e-mail or phone between January 1 and August 16, 2014 may have been.

Website spies on thousands of people to shed light on security flaw – Insecam, which says it wants “to show the importance of the security settings,” is broadcasting live feeds of thousands of people who didn’t reset their security camera’s pre-programmed password.

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Verizon ‘supercookies’ could be a boon to advertisers, hackers – It’s bad enough that Verizon and AT&T have unleashed a new breed of “supercookie” that can track your every online move, even as you switch between your smartphone, tablet and TV. Far worse is the possibility of abuse by advertisers, governments and hackers, privacy experts warn.

The Top Four Android Threats – In this weekly feature, we like to examine a single Android threat and try to figure out what it means for regular users like you (dear reader). But this week, we’re going to look at the four categories of apps security company Lookout recently named as the most “relentless.” What does relentless mean? According to the folks at Lookout, it’s a mix of ubiquity and danger.

New ‘Masque Attack’ iOS phishing vulnerability sideloads apps – On the heels of WireLurker, a new iOS threat has been discovered. This one, called Masque attack, could be a lot more problematic, too. While the previously discovered WireLurker vulnerability required users to be tethered to a Mac before anything nefarious could happen, Masque Attack is one that occurs in-app. Discovered by security research firm FireEye, Masque Attack could pose a much bigger risk to anyone using apps that didn’t come pre-loaded on their iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Law enforcement seized Tor nodes and may have run some of its own – In a blog post written on November 9, Tor Project director Andrew Lewman went over the possible ways that over 400 hidden services on dozens of servers were located by law enforcement during Operation Onymous. While some of the servers were related to criminal activity (such as Silk Road 2.0), at least some of the servers were not—including several that were acting as infrastructure for Tor’s anonymizing network. And the only answer Lewman could currently offer as to how the sites were exposed was “We don’t know.”

Cyberespionage group targets traveling execs through hotel networks – For the past four years a group of sophisticated hackers has compromised the networks of luxury hotels to launch malware attacks against corporate executives and entrepreneurs traveling on business in the Asia-Pacific region. The cyberespionage group, which researchers from Kaspersky Lab dubbed Darkhotel, operates by injecting malicious code into the Web portals used by hotel guests to log in to the local network and access the Internet, typically by inputting their last name and room number.

Company News:

eBay accused of perpetuating counterfeit product sales, silencing industry whistle blower – It looks like eBay is under fire for perpetuating the sale of known counterfeit goods. A new investigative report shows that eBay assists merchants selling counterfeit goods by manipulating feedback.

BlackBerry CEO: ‘We will survive as a company’ – The company made it through the toughest phase of its turnaround plan and now hopes to actually grow again, says John Chen, who is marking his one-year anniversary at the helm.

AT&T backs out of in-flight wireless game – Challenging GoGo in-flight wireless was going to be no small feat, but AT&T was poised to offer LTE service while we coasted above the clouds. A new report suggests AT&T is no longer interested in air travel and LTE service, and will be re-focussing tier efforts on the terrestrial front. Their recent purchase of Mexican carrier lusacell is evidence of that, according to a statement provided by AT&T. Seems the promise of AT&T flying the friendly skies is no more.

Google to Match Donations Made to Fight Ebola – The Web giant on Monday announced that for every dollar you give to the fight against Ebola, it will donate two. Google is also donating $10 million right away to support nonprofits such as InSTEDD, International Rescue Committee, Medecins Sans Frontieres, NetHope, Partners in Health, Save the Children and U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Head over to Google’s donation page to make a contribution ranging from $10 to $1,000.

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Samsung eyes $3B for Vietnam smartphone factory, report says – After investing $2 billion in a smartphone factory in Vietnam earlier this year, Samsung looks to open another facility.

Games and Entertainment:

Dragon Age Inquisition Review: This Is the One You’ve Been Waiting For – BioWare’s latest RPG is a grand romp through a breath-taking fantasy setting. And it features some of the most interesting characters we’ve yet seen in a Dragon Age title.

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How Call of Duty beat Titanfall, Destiny, and Wolfenstein combined – As what may very well be a sign of things to come for Activision’s latest Call of Duty title, Advanced Warfare has out-sold Ghosts in its first week of sales in the UK. Additionally, according to GfK Chart Track numbers, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare also beat out the three biggest week-1 titles of the year: Titanfall, Destiny, and Wolfenstein. Not only did Call of Duty beat all three of these titles in the UK in week 1 of sales, it beat all three combined “by almost 14%.”

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Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Review – Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is an expensive LED Backlit keyboard with so many options for colours. Its well built, great at customisability and comes with an optional palm rest.

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‘Iron Sky 2’: Nazis, lizard people and Hitler on a T.rex – The sequel to the instant cult classic about Nazis on the moon returns is the only logical way possible: With conspiracy theories and a whole passel o’ dinos.

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‘Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ Coming Spring 2015 – The 3D remake will be more than just a graphically modified port, according to series producer Eiji Aonuma. The new title will hit shelves next spring. It’s available to pre-order now, and while the Amazon page says Dec. 15, that is probably not the release date. “Those are placeholder dates and don’t represent that actual release dates, which Nintendo hasn’t pinned down yet,” PCMag’s sister site, IGN, pointed out. A special edition will also be available in Europe.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

President Obama Calls For A Free And Open Internet, Wants It Reclassified As A Utility – President Barack Obama has come out in favor of net neutrality in a special website and video announcement wherein he lays out his plan for protecting the freedom and openness of the Internet. In a video and letter, he lays out in no uncertain terms that he believes no cable company or access provider should be able to put limits on access to the Internet. He says that he’s suggesting that the FCC recognizes access to the Internet as a basic utility, and something that Americans have a basic right to. This means no blocking, no throttling, more transparency and no paid prioritization, Obama writes in his letter, which is quoted in full below.

The FCC Fires Back At the President’s Net Neutrality Plan – This morning President Barack Obama presented a net neutrality plan, advocating for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify broadband under Title II of the  Telecommunications Act. That solution has long been the favorite of the most ardent net neutrality advocates. The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler quickly replied, noting just how far along the comment, and fact-finding work for deciding how to approach net neutrality is at the current date.

An open letter to students of the present and future – Summary: Advice from teacher to student on technology, privacy, and why turning off that smartphone is a good idea.

Pointing up    Good advice for all of us.

Chinese Programmer Sticks Windows 95 On An iPhone 6 Plus – Today in “putting stuff onto things on which they don’t belong,” we present a user, xyq058775, and his exciting admission that he installed Windows 95 on a brand new iPhone. He used a tool called iDos, an open source DOSBox-like app to install the OS. He found that most of it worked fine but he was unable to upgrade to Windows XP. And we can assume he was also able to play Doom.

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Parklife! Russell Brand releases parody after being mocked on the internet – The inevitable has happened: after it emerged people on social media were shouting ‘Parklife’ at Russell Brand, the man himself has made a parody video.

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Stunning video of Earth from space made from 80GB of images – Considering we live on it, and haven’t traveled too far from it in the scheme of the universe, we have a lot of imagery of Earth as a planet floating in the void of space. Some of the best footage the world has seen is captured from the International Space Station, and depicts Earth throughout its orbital routine — days, nights, manmade and Northern lights. Though we’ve seen the Earth from the ISS before, it rarely becomes less exciting or beautiful.

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Watch man trounce a Ferrari on his 207 mph rocket bike – That’s right. Swiss François Gissy put a rocket on his bicycle, got up to an insane speed and left a Ferrari in the dust. And you can watch.

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Kids react to old cameras: “Such hard work” – It’s time for another adorable “Kids React” video in which the younger generation reacts to now-obsolete gadgets and other old tech, simultaneously making us laugh and reminding us that we’re getting old. In this newest video, kids are reacting to an average point-and-shoot film camera, trying to figure out how to operate it and, their most troublesome issue, how to put the film in place. They all prove successful in the end, but not before pleas for help and comments like “There’s no photo fluid in this thing!” are made.

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How to Curb an Online Porn Addiction ..or stop yourself from online gambling, excessive Internet shopping, and other distracting, unwanted behavior – Here, I’ll explain some options. The first few are heavyweight ways for those with a serious problem. The second batch of options are of midrange strength, enough to curb your behavior, but not iron-clad by any stretch. Finally, I’ll point to a few lightweight options that give you some restrictions, but more importantly cause you to think twice before doing something you wish you’ll hadn’t.

Something to think about:

“I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians that took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.”

–       Harry Patch  –  Last surviving soldier of World War One

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpaceSniffer – SpaceSniffer is a freeWare (or, better, donationWare) and portable tool application that gives you an idea of how folders and files are structured on your disks. By using a Treemap visualization layout, you have immediate perception of where big folders and files are situated on your devices. Treemap concept was invented by Prof. Ben Shneiderman, who kindly permitted the use of his concept into this tool.

Features:

Fast and easy to use

Supports drag and drop

Export module lets you produce customizable textual reports

Intuitive structure layout, multiple views for different media

Zoomable elements, navigate like a web browser

The Windows folders and file popup menu is accessible by right mouse click

It’s possible to restrict the view content by typing simple yet powerful filtering criteria

Lets you temporary tag files with four different colors and perform filtering on them

Different views of the same media can show differently filtered elements

Customizable in geometry, colors, behaviors

You can navigate even during the scan

Smart cached scanning engine, multiple views, single scan

You can refine a zoomed area by a secondary scan process, even with main scan active

Reacts to file system events, keeps always in synch, warns you by blinking elements

Can scan NTFS Alternate Data Streams

It doesn’t clutter your registry, only a plain XML configuration file

It’s portable, no installation required, just put the executable somewhere and let’s go

It’s freeWare (donations are welcome)

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Game Fire – Game Fire is a FREE open source PC games accelerator utility that enables you to enjoy your favorite modern PC games by transforming your personal computer into a powerful gaming machine with a touch of button.

Game Fire is suitable for beginners as it does not require any technical knowledge at all, as it provides easy to understand options like A,B,C.

Touch & Play:

Transform your computer into a powerful gaming machine with a touch of button, thanks to Gaming Profile that customizes the way Game Fire optimizes your system without getting involved in Windows functions details.

Initiative user interface:

Game Fire is an easy to use utility, thanks to it’s initiative interface that makes it suitable for beginners. You can customize how Game Fire optimizes your system with easy to understand options.

FREE As In Freedom:

This means that you are FREE to get the source code, FREE to modify it and FREE to share it with the world, and this also means the Game Fire is FREE of spyware and other malware.

System Safety:

Game Fire is a very safe utility, as all changes made to your system by Game Fire is temporary, you can restore the previous system state by simply turning off Gaming Mode.

CPU and RAM at your service:

Game Fire puts your CPU and system memory at your service, by reducing stresses on CPU through closing unneeded processes and functions and by defraging RAM to free up unneeded consumed resources. This is done in a smart way without affecting system performance.

Extra functions for Extra speed:

Game Fire has extra features that you can use to make your computer a flying PC, You can speed up loading and running of your games and programs by defraging game files and folders. Game Fire also could turn off unneeded scheduled tasks to squeeze out extra performance.

Limitations: 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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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

German spy agency seeks millions to monitor social networks outside Germany – Germany’s foreign intelligence agency reportedly wants to spend €300 million (about US$375 million) in the next five years on technology that would let it spy in real time on social networks outside of Germany, and decrypt and monitor encrypted Internet traffic.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) wants the funds for a program called “Strategische Initiative Technik” (SIT, Strategic Technology Initiative), according to a report by German daily the Süddeutsche Zeitung and television stations NDR and WDR.

The report is based on a confidential document in which the BND asked the Confidential Committee of the Bundestag’s Budget Committee to approve a sum of €28 million for the program in 2015.

A German government spokesman confirmed the existence of the SIT program on Monday and said that its main goal is to build an early warning system for cyber attacks. He declined however to give further details about either the program or its budget.

It is a remarkable move given the German uproar over the NSA affair and the alleged U.S. spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, which led the German government to demand a “no-spy” agreement from the U.S. Such a deal is unlikely to be made by U.S. president Barack Obama.

Spyware exports will need a licence under new EU rules – Companies which make spyware will have to apply for permission to export the software once new EU regulations come into effect in late December.

Officially referred to as “intrusion software”, the software will now be included on the EU’s list of “dual use” items, defined as “goods, software and technology normally used for civilian purposes but which might have military applications or contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The restriction means that companies will have to apply for a licence to export spyware, although it doesn’t affect the sale of the software within the UK. Inclusion on the dual-use list places the technology alongside nuclear reactors, ultra-high-resolution cameras, and rocket fuel.

While the regulation is implemented by the European commission, the British government supports the restriction of spyware. “The UK has made it clear over the last two years that we believe that while these kind of technologies do have legitimate uses, they also pose threats to national security and to human rights and should be subject to export controls,” said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Germany tops table of Facebook data requests – New figures from Facebook show that the German government makes more requests for user data, relative to the size of its Facebook userbase, than any other.

Despite the nation’s reputation for protecting internet freedom, bolstered in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations and the German government’s response, Facebook’s latest transparency report reveals that Germany made 2,537 requests for user data in the first half of 2014.

With the country’s Facebook population estimated at 22 million by eMarketer, that means the government made 115 requests for data for every million users. Those requests referenced 3,078 user accounts, but just a third of them led to some data being produced.

Italy, America and France are the next three biggest sources of government requests, each producing around 100 requests per million users. Britain comes fifth of the 20 countries the Guardian studied, with 70 requests for data per million users.

But requests from Britain and America are significantly more likely to be granted than those from mainland Europe; 71% and 80% of requests are granted, a success rate twice as high as that of Germany or France (where just 30% of requests lead to data being handed over).

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3 Comments

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

3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 11, 2014

  1. ahumblegeek

    One could say that COD Advanced Warfare is using a fast, responsive shooter formula and adding some cool wish-fulfilment on top. Very smart, and great news for gamers.