Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security:

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

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

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

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

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Company News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games and Entertainment:

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

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

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

Off Topic (Sort of):

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

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

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

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

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Something to think about:

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

–       Christopher Morley

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Free Edition:

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

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

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

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

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

Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer

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

Firefox

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

Google Chrome

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

Opera

Temporary files, history, cookies.

Safari

Temporary files, history, cookies, form history.

Windows

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

Registry Cleaner

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

Third-party applications

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

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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