Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 14, 2014

Report: The U.S. is putting fake cell towers in planes to spy on people;  Facebook Debuts ‘Privacy Basics’ And Updates Policies;  Finally Coming to Twitter: Video Sharing;  4 mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn;  Windows Movie Creator hits Beta;  Top Holiday Picks for Laptop Lovers;  Top Holiday Gift Picks for iPhone Lovers;  $99 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet to go on sale at Walmart on Black Friday;  Mozilla plunks ads into Firefox;  Should I buy a cheap tablet on Black Friday? Absolutely not;  Which Raspberry Pi should you buy?  Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review;  U.S. Warns Apple Users About iOS ‘Masque Attack’;  Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor;  Congress bets big on Apple, Microsoft stock;  Assassin’s Creed Unity update: patch released ASAP;  Zemana AntiLogger (free).

Report: The U.S. is putting fake cell towers in planes to spy on people – The so-called “dirtboxes” are used to locate criminals, but they can pick up a lot of other people’s phones along the way.

Facebook Debuts ‘Privacy Basics’ And Updates Policies To Reflect More Personalized Ads – Facebook has a new update to its privacy policies, as well as its terms and conditions for users. This time around, it’s continuing its trend of trying to lessen the impact of these changes by introducing a new Privacy Basics feature that essentially acts as an introductory tutorial to the privacy controls it puts in the hands of users on the site. Each section contains an interactive walkthrough highlighting the specific features up for discussion, with slideshows that stick to one paragraph per screen, complete with a graphic illustrating where within the mobile app you can find what’s being explained.

Finally Coming to Twitter: Video Sharing – Ever tried to share a video on Twitter, only to realize that it’s not possible? Super annoying. But that’s about to change. Twitter on Wednesday announced it will soon be adding the ability to record, edit, and share videos natively on the site. Not a revolutionary new feature, but something Twitter has been sorely missing up until now. Better late than never, right?

‘Where to Watch’ is Hollywood’s legal video search site, and it’s actually decent – The new site lets you search across streaming services by title, actor or director. While the idea isn’t particularly new, the execution stands out despite a few blind spots.

4 mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great way to present yourself professionally online. However, do make sure that ‘professional’ is how you come across. Here are 4 mistakes you might be making on LinkedIn. First, let’s talk about that profile pic.

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Windows Movie Creator hits Beta – There’s a Movie Creator app out there today for Windows 8 and 8.1 is set to be an essential experience in the oncoming Windows device age. Developed by Microsoft, the Movie Creator app works for both Windows on the desktop and Windows Phone, made to roll with devices both large and small. This app is made for all skill levels, created for an age in which both mice and touch screens are used to control Windows devices. The Movie Creator BETA app is optimized to the specifications of each unique device it’s made to run on, including everything from the least to the greatest – Lumia 530 to Surface Pro 3.

Top Holiday Gift Picks for iPhone Lovers – iPhone owners already have the product they love most—so what can you buy them? Great gifts that work directly with the iPhone, that’s what.

Top Holiday Picks for Laptop Lovers – From gamers to business users to students, we have a laptop pick for everyone on your list.

Sony’s PlayStation Vue cloud TV service wants to kill your cable box – It will only hit limited markets and devices in 2014, but beginning next year Sony intends to be at the forefront of the cord-cutting revolution in the United States.

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Mozilla plunks ads into Firefox – Mozilla kicked off its long-under-development plan to run ads in Firefox with the launch of version 33.1 on Monday. The ads, which Mozilla calls “sponsored tiles,” were first discussed by the company in February. In the months that followed, Mozilla defended the in-browser ad project against critics who called it a betrayal of the organization’s philosophy, saying it was important to find other revenue sources besides its long-standing deals with search providers like Google.

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$99 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet to go on sale at Walmart on Black Friday – Walmart will offer an 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet for just $99 on Black Friday, including a free one-year Office 365 subscription worth $70 with unlimited OneDrive storage, and a free 16GB microSD card.

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Should I buy a cheap tablet on Black Friday? Absolutely not – You’re going to be told many things and given many offers this Black Friday, but we’d like to be the first to tell you not to get trapped by the following. Do not buy a cheap tablet on Black Friday. Do not fall for this trap. The math does not add up, no matter how you sling it. Show me the cheapest tablet at any given store on Black Friday and I’ll show you why you shouldn’t buy it – and why you shouldn’t even consider it.

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PhotoTime Is A Mobile Photo Gallery Capable Of Image And Facial Recognition – A computer vision company called Orbeus has just launched a photo gallery replacement app for iOS users, PhotoTime, which uses image and facial recognition technologies to allow users to search for photos based on who’s in them, what the photo is of, or where it was taken. This goes far beyond the capabilities of Apple’s native Photos app, which organizes photos by location and time, but lacks an understanding of what or who is in the images. The PhotoTime app also works with pictures on iCloud, Instagram and Facebook, in addition to those saved locally on your device, automatically scanning the images for content and then assigning them tags. PhotoTime is a free download on iTunes.

SkreensTV aims to put every possible show on your TV at once – SkreensTV is a $499 product that attempts to solve that problem in the same way pizza places let you order different toppings on the same pie. It’s designed to turn one TV screen into many, thanks to a smallish box that lets you plug in multiple HDMI sources and runs software that organizes them on your TV, just like picture in a picture. Want to put an Xbox game next to the TV show you’re watching? It can do that. You can also throw up an Apple TV or Roku box too. And maybe even a web browser. The main limit is how big your TV is, and perhaps if you have developed supreme TV multitasking abilities from growing up in sports bars and Las Vegas casinos.

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BlackBerry Classic now available for pre-order, ships mid-December – When it comes to BlackBerry phones, fans have been a wild ride the past few years. At first, a dearth of handsets signaled the end of an era in the eyes of many, while the company admittedly reeled from the iPhone’s entrance onto the smartphone scene. Now that John Chen is leading Blackberry out of the Thorston Heins-fueled RIM doldrums, the company is giving BlackBerry fans what they want. The new (?) BlackBerry Classic is now available for pre-order, with shipping starting next month.

Which Raspberry Pi should you buy? – With a new Raspberry Pi just hitting the market TechRepublic takes a look at which of the boards and its add-ons will suit your needs.

Roost 9-volt battery smartens up your dumb smoke alarms – The concept behind Roost is elegantly simple: cram intelligent electronic guts and a lithium power pack inside a standard 9-volt casing, and add smart functionality to any battery-powered smoke detector. Just pair a Roost battery with their smartphone app, take down your detector, pop in Roost, and put your detector back up. That’s all there is to it. You’ll never have your sleep disturbed by a low battery chirp again — you’ll receive a notification on your phone or tablet instead. More importantly, Roost also ensures that you’ll know your alarm is going off even if you’re not at home. When an alarm sounds, you’re alerted instantly and the app provides speed dial buttons for local first responders.

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Security:

Condemnation mounts against ISP that sabotaged users’ e-mail encryption – Digital rights advocates are doubling down on their criticism of a US-based ISP suspected of performing encryption downgrade attacks that caused customers’ e-mail to remain in plaintext as it passed over the Internet. The attacks, according to researchers, were carried out by AT&T subsidiary Cricket and prevented e-mail from being protected by STARTTLS, a technology that uses the secure sockets layer or transport layer security protocols to encrypt plaintext communications. The attacks worked by removing the STARTTLS flag that causes e-mail to be encrypted as it passes from the sending server to the receiving server. After the tampering came to light late last month it was reported by The Washington Post and TechDirt.

U.S. Warns Apple Users About iOS ‘Masque Attack’ – The U.S. government warned Apple gadget owners Thursday to look out for hackers exploiting a newly revealed vulnerability in the mobile operating system iOS. The so-called “Masque Attack” was disclosed earlier this week by the network security firm FireEye and allows a hacker to replace an iOS app with malware, according to an alert posted on the website of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

Apple downplays threat posed by Masque Attack bug – A vulnerability could allow hackers to trick users into downloading fake apps, which could siphon off their personal information, researchers warn.

Small Business Security: The Time to Act Is Now! (Infographic) – Research shows that small organizations are fast becoming the target of choice for cybercriminals, but many of these businesses have no idea how to approach data security.

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Company News:

Samsung partners with BlackBerry to beef up Android security – At an enterprise event in San Francisco today, BlackBerry announced a partnership that will offer a new level of security to Android phones. Launching early next year, the program will integrate BlackBerry’s end-to-end encryption system into Samsung’s Knox system, adding new encryption standards and support to the program. It’s a clear upgrade for Samsung, as BlackBerry is known in enterprise circles for having some of the best security practices in the mobile marketplace. The new program will also add features to deal with the unique challenges of security on Android, including specific mechanisms to protect data against on-board malware.

Reddit CEO resigns over office location disagreement – Reddit’s CEO has resigned from his position following a disagreement over the company’s new office location and lease cost. The information comes from Sam Altman, who made the announcement earlier today on his blog. Says Altman, former CEO Yishan Wong was not asked to resign (nor was it suggested he should), but he made the decision “when we didn’t approve the new office plan”. For now, Ellen Pao will be stepping up to serve as interim CEO. Joining this announcement are details about other team shakeups taking place at the company.

Mozilla wants to keep the Google dollars coming – Mozilla’s funding from Google is set to expire soon and the company has revealed that it is already in talks with the search giant for an extension. Google has been responsible for nearly ninety percent of Mozilla’s revenue, categorized as royalties, due to an agreement between the companies made back in 2005. As part of the agreement, Google is the default search provider in Mozilla’s Firefox browser and a part of the revenue generated from every search made through the search bar is given to Mozilla. As of 2012, the money generated by Google searches from Firefox has contributed to nearly 90% of Mozilla’s total revenue.

Hachette And Amazon Reach Pricing Agreement – Merry pre-Christmas. The war is over. Amazon and the Hachette Book Group have agreed on a new, “multi-year” agreement for ebook and print sales. The agreement allows Hachette to set all pricing for its ebooks and will receive “better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers.” In other words, Hachette can set its own prices but it will be rewarded for not going crazy. The new prices will take effect in 2015 but Amazon will no longer hold back Hachette titles and Hachette books will be “prominently featured in promotions.”

Oracle and SAP settle long-standing TomorrowNow lawsuit – SAP and Oracle have settled a long-standing copyright-infringement lawsuit, with the German company agreeing to pay about US$359 million in damages and interest to Oracle instead of the $1.3 billion awarded in 2010. Oracle was sued by SAP in 2007 on allegations that its now-defunct subsidiary, TomorrowNow, had illegally downloaded Oracle’s software while providing software support services to Oracle customers.

Microsoft: “There will be Windows 10 upgrades for all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices” – Microsoft has said that all Lumia handsets running Windows Phone 8 onwards will be upgraded to Windows 10, and it has also mentioned the prospect of new handsets designed for Windows 10 on the way.

Humble Bundle pulling its app from Play Store, teasing better buying options – The company may start selling content directly inside the app, which isn’t allowed under Google Play Store rules.

Games and Entertainment:

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review – With Advanced Warfare, Activision is taking the extremely successful Call of Duty mostly to places it’s already been, which is to say this is a game about war, shooting, explosions and guns. But it’s also taking a stab at some realistic futurism with the ‘Exo’ suits your character gets to wear, which augment your ability to navigate your environment and deal damage to your enemies, and weapons that boast some plausible improvements over their counterparts of today. And of course, Kevin Spacey is all over the place.

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Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor – Warlords of Draenor sounds like the sort of thing you’d find in the B-movie section of your local gas-n-shop, maybe starring Jean Claude von Damme and Dolph Lundgren wearing horned helms and codpieces. But in this case it’s the moniker on the latest expansion to the most popular MMO in history, available now (PC, Mac) for $50. If you’re new to the series or thinking about returning and wondering what’s changed, here’s a look at Draenor‘s standout features.

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Speed runner breaks world record for Skyrim completion – The Elder Scrolls games are celebrated for packing so much content into a single title that you could play indefinitely. Even though players might forget it ever happened, the games try to have a narrative on top of the open-world exploration and cave-diving, and unlike the non-linear gameplay that has come to define the series, that narrative has a set beginning, middle, and end. On average, it takes about 31.5 hours to complete the story. Rushing through it takes about 19 hours on average. Speed runner DrTChops completed the story in 39 minutes and 32 seconds.

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Tales from the Borderlands’ first gameplay trailer goes live – Telltale Games has put its Tales from the Borderlands gameplay trailer up on YouTube, giving a long-awaited first look at the gameplay and the dangerous-as-always world in which it takes place. Tales from the Borderlands was announced back in December 2013, and is a five-part episodic game series set after Borderlands 2, as explained in the video (available after the jump). The game is set on Pandora, and follows two characters as they go gallivanting around in a “quest for greatness”.

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Assassin’s Creed Unity update: patch released ASAP – Issue surrounding the release of Assassin’s Creed Unity are currently being addressed by Unity in a second patch. While many players have already downloaded the first “Day 1 Patch”, there’s a second in the mix. This second download for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, will address several of the most stand-out issues that’ve come up in the release of the game. Falling through the ground when you jump off a building? No worries for you – all will be well soon, so says Ubisoft.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How much would it cost to buy everything advertised in an NFL game? – The average NFL game lasts three hours from start to finish but contains only about a dozen minutes of action. TV broadcasters have become expert in filling the gaps between outbreaks of sport on the field with an intoxicating mix of anticipation, apprehension, and advertising. The drama and magic of football as a collective spectacle intermingles with branding messages urging me to buy more stuff. This past week I decided to find out exactly how much it would cost me to be the perfect consumer and buy everything I’m prompted to acquire during a game. Every car, every pizza, every beverage.

Nano-scale sculptures recreate the human body in the eye of a needle – Microscopic sculptures by artist Jonty Hurwitz are so tiny that they can fit easily inside the eye of a needle, on a human hair — or on the forehead of an ant.

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A tiny sculpture in the eye of a needle (top) and on a human hair (bottom).

Congress bets big on Apple, Microsoft stock – Members of Congress are personally investing tens of millions of dollars in the tech sector, with Microsoft and Apple leading the way, according to an analysis by Maplight, the California nonprofit that tracks money and politics. The analysis of “personal financial disclosures” that lawmakers must submit shows that as many as 57 lawmakers had invested in Microsoft, making it the No. 2 pick in terms of the number of congressional investors. The held Microsoft stock was valued at as much as $5.53 million. Apple came in at No. 5, with 48 congressional investors, according to the 2013 data. Stock held by members of the House and Senate in Apple was valued at about $9.8 million.

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Self-destructing drone is made of fungus, bacteria, and wasp spit – Trying to keep your drone spying activities a secret? Then you’re going to need this biodegradable drone made from fungi, bacteria, and wasp saliva by a team from Stanford, Brown, and Spelman College.

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Outside Best Buy, two women already wait for Black Friday TV – The friends have been sitting outside a Best Buy in California for a week. All to get a $199 TV more than two weeks from now.

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Bring back the dumb TV – Like Homer Simpson, the ideal TV should be big and unsophisticated. The smart TV is an abortive attempt at technological convergence that generates more compromise than convenience. There’s no doubt that Samsung, LG, and everyone else in the TV business will continue adding (rather than taking away) features in an effort to buff up spec sheets and keep prices artificially high. But so long as the TV remains an expensive and rarely upgraded monolith trying to catch up to cheap and commodified smart accessories, the battle will be a losing one. Instead of duplicating things I already have, the best TV of the future will be the one that gives me the things I actually need: lots of inputs, high picture quality, and long-life reliability. Better to be good at being dumb than bad at being smart.

Impossible electric bike folds up to fit in a backpack – Bicycles tend to be big. Even the most compact of folding bicycles still end of being the size of a suitcase when collapsed down. Electric bikes typically add even more heft to the equation. That’s why the Impossible electric bike on Kickstarter is attracting attention. It weighs 11 pounds and, when folded up, is a mere 17 inches tall. You can plop it into a backpack, and it doesn’t even have to be a very big backpack.

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The Impossible bike, all folded up and ready to pop in a pack.

Got a business? Get a hotspot: Italy unveils law to make everywhere offer free public wi-fi – A draft bill going before the Italian parliament will force even the smallest companies across the country to provide free internet access.

Something to think about:

“The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.”

–        Dudley Moore

Today’s Free Downloads:

Zemana AntiLogger – AntiLogger is a lightweight app that keeps track of who is doing what on your computer. Instead of identifying malware based on its signature fingerprint, like all malware products with scan functionality, the AntiLogger catches malware at the moment it attacks your computer. It will then prompt you if an illegal program is trying to record your keystrokes, capture your screen, gain access to your clipboard, microphone and webcam, or inject itself into your computer’s sensitive areas.

The AntiLogger features our unique SSL Intrusion Protection technology that guards you against advanced forms of Financial Malware. The AntiLogger is one of the very few products on the market today able to detect these dangerous and complex threats.

Zemana AntiLogger is not designed to replace your installed antivirus software — it’s made to detect serious threats that are outside of their scope. It adds an extra layer of essential protection to whatever anti-malware or anti-virus software you’re currently using.

Stop malicious programs from stealing your usernames and passwords

Monitors your PC in real time, all the time. No scans needed.

100% signature independent: does not rely on a database of known threats

Powerful, yet light. Does not slow down your PC

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MultiMonitorTool – With MultiMonitorTool, you can disable/enable monitors, set the primary monitor, save and load the configuration of all monitors, and move windows from one monitor to another. You can do these actions from the user interface or from command-line, without displaying user interface. MultiMonitorTool also provides a preview window, which allows you to watch a preview of every monitor on your system.

MultiMonitorTool doesn’t require any installation process or additional dll files. In order to start using it, simply run the executable file – MultiMonitorTool.exe

The main window of MultiMonitorTool contains 2 panes: The upper pane displays the list of all monitors detected on your system. When you select a monitor in the upper pane, the lower pane displays the details of all visible windows on the selected monitor.

You can select one or more monitors in the upper pane, and then use the following options: Disable Selected Monitors (Ctrl+F6), Enable Selected Monitors (Ctrl+F7), Disable/Enable Switch (Ctrl+F8), or Set As Primary Monitor (Ctrl+F9)

You can also select one or more Windows in the lower pane, and then use the ‘Move Window To Next Monitor’ and ‘Move Window To Primary Monitor’ options in order to easily move Windows from one monitor to the other.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia: Data-retention Bill an ‘intrusion of privacy’: Human rights committee – The government’s move to force telcos and ISPs to retain customer metadata for two years has been branded ‘intrusive of privacy’ by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, in a new report calling for the government to define the types of data to be retained and review the two-year retention period.

The US Marshals are scanning millions of American phones with fly-by cell towers – Federal agencies have a new way to find people. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the US Marshals service has scooping up Americans’ cell phone information by planting fake cell tower devices on board small airplanes. The device, known as an IMSI catcher, sorts through the collected data in search of a specific target’s unique ID, pointing the Marshals to his exact location. The program has been running since 2007, and according to the Journal, agents get a court order for each search, but it is still unclear whether the orders specify the alarming means by which the resulting search is conducted.

IMSI catchers or “Stingrays” have been a controversial tactic for years, and their use is often concealed by law enforcement, but this is the first indication of IMSI catchers being used on a mass scale by a federal agency, and the first time we’ve seen the devices used from on-board a plane. It’s also notable for how broadly the devices are being employed. Following a single suspect would mean picking up signals from even tens of thousands of phones, which means it’s likely that millions of Americans have been affected during the seven years the program has been operational.

NSA Surveillance Faces Senate Test – The United States Senate could vote on the USA FREEDOM Act as soon as next week, pushing the surveillance reform bill ahead this year. That would buck prior conventional wisdom that the Act was not a legislative priority, likely ending up shelved until the next Congress. There is still some fight in this Congress after all.

Exiting Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid filed a cloture motion last night, pressing the bill forward. Its passage of the required 60 vote threshold isn’t certain. There is an odd bipartisan tingle to the law, given a crossing of the lines between libertarian-minded Republicans, and hard-line Democrats that are known friends of our secret national agencies.

The USA FREEDOM Act, in its Senate form, has been lauded by privacy advocates and technology companies for proposing to end the government’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records, and curtailing other controversial practices. Some have argued that the bill fails to put fences around the intelligence community’s ability to use Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to various ends, but most agree that the law is a positive initial effort.

UK PM Cameron says Internet must not ‘be an ungoverned space’ – UK prime minister David Cameron has called for “extremist material” to be taken offline by governments, with help from network operators.

Speaking in Australia’s Parliament on a trip that will also see him attend the G20 leaders’ summit, Cameron spoke of Australia and Britain’s long shared history, common belief in freedom and openness and current shared determination to fight terrorism and extremism.

Cameron said [PDF] poverty and foreign policy are not the source of terror. “The root cause of the challenge we face is the extremist narrative,” he said, before suggesting bans on extremist preachers, an effort to “root out” extremism from institutions and continuing to “celebrate Islam as a great world religion of peace.”

Cameron’s remarks have a strong whiff of a desire to extend state oversight of the internet. The UK already prohibits “Dissemination of terrorist publications” under Part 1, Section 2 of the the Terrorism Act 2006. The country also operates a plan to reduce hate crime, in part by removing hate material found online.

No, you can’t seize country TLDs, US court rules – In a landmark ruling that signals a win for the current system of Internet governance, a U.S. court has quashed an attempt to seize Iran’s, Syria’s and North Korea’s domains as part of a lawsuit against those countries’ governments.

The plaintiffs in the case wanted to seize the country’s ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) .ir, .sy and .kp after they successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism. The domain seizure was part of a financial judgment against those governments.

The claimants wanted to seize the domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit US-based organization which oversees the Internet.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia however denied the plaintiffs’ motions to seize the domains earlier this week, ICANN said.

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