Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 27, 2014

Watch Out For These 3 Holiday Online Shopping Scams;  Keeping Your Data Safe While Shopping For The Holidays;  Get 100 free MP3 albums from Microsoft;  Apps to Help You Survive a Flight Delay;  The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014;  How To Opt Out Of Twitter’s New Thing That Tracks Which Apps You Install;  WinBook 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $60;  Tumblr overtakes Instagram;  Windows 10: Another patch released;  Ubisoft apologizes for Assassin’s Creed;  The 10 Best Xbox One Games;  The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies;  Toolwiz Time Freeze (free).

Watch Out For These 3 Holiday Online Shopping Scams – Along with the amazing Internet deals come the scammers with new and inventive ways to trick you into handing over your credit card number and personal information. Here are three of the biggest scams to watch out for this holiday shopping season.

Keeping Your Data Safe While Shopping For The Holidays – The holiday shopping season is just around the corner with retailers planning blockbuster deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Cyber-criminals are expected to try to siphon off some of the money flowing online and in stores for themselves. Experts weigh in on how shoppers can protect their wallets.

Apps to Help You Survive a Flight Delay – We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but more than 200 flights have already been canceled this morning because of a Nor’easter that’s about to make this a white Thanksgiving. If you’re headed to (or are already in) an airport, you’re undoubtedly against eating an Au Bon Pain Newport Turkey sandwich with strangers instead of a turkey with all the trimmings surrounded by family. Or maybe not. Either way, you probably want to get where you’re going. So we’ve put together some apps to help you get a handle on what’s happening and maybe help you get home.

Get 100 free MP3 albums from Microsoft – For a limited time, Microsoft is offering 100 free albums when you install the company’s Music Deals app. That’s pretty incredible, but there’s a catch: only Windows 8 and Windows Phone users can take advantage of the giveaway. Also, it’s kind of a pain to get the albums, at least on a PC. (I haven’t tried on a phone.) It’s well worth the effort, though, as the freebies include lots of big-name artists: Eminem, U2, Katy Perry, Norah Jones, Mumford & Sons, James Taylor, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, Ellie Goulding and so on. Most of the albums are at least a year or two old, but that doesn’t make them any less appealing.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014 – Adobe recently found that Internet TV watcher hours increased by 388 percent in the last year. On top of that, TV networks, such as HBO, CBS, and Univision are all bringing their offerings to Internet-only customers. I fully expect at least half-a-dozen other networks to follow these first three to Internet in 2015. So, what are the best devices to bring Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and all these other Internet TV video broadcasters to your home? Well, it depends.

Twitter ‘App Graph’ collects data about other apps you have – Twitter, the app, will soon starting looking around your home screen to see which other apps are there. In a blog post, the microblogging platform is announcing App Graph, which is just their way of finding out which apps you have on your phone. Twitter won’t be looking at your messages, or checking on your activity; they just want to know what apps you have on your phone. The reason, admits Twitter, is advertising. The more data they have, the better their ad network becomes.

How To Opt Out Of Twitter’s New Thing That Tracks Which Apps You Install – Is it the worst offense in the world? Nah — they’re not exactly perusing your browsing history and sending it to your grandmother, here. But it’s still irksome, particularly given that Twitter pitches it as something they’re doing for you but makes the whole thing opt-out instead of opt-in. Fortunately, turning the whole thing off right out of the gate is pretty straight forward.

Every Cyber Monday tech deal we’ve found – Skipping the Black Friday crowds doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the best deals. Lots of hot tech products are going on sale on Cyber Monday. We’re tracking them all here.

iPhone 6, 6 Plus users are leaving the iPad behind, says Pocket – If you use Pocket, you know how helpful it can be to tuck a webpage away for later viewing. Whether it be a long-form article or just something you don’t have time for, the ability to save for later is handy. In attempting to better understand their users, Pocket began analyzing how we consume via their service. Comparing iPads to iPhones, both new and not-so-new, Pocket found something that’s a bit unsurprising, but also proves a point: we read and watch more when using larger iPhones.

Skype finally adds picture-in-picture video chat for Android phones – This picture-in-picture feature already exists on Android tablets, but Microsoft is now bringing it to phones in its latest update to the Skype app. Via the update, you can also format text in your instant messages, and finally receive photos sent from iPhone Skype users. The update also includes the obligatory bug fixes that typically accompany a version bump. There are a few other small details, which you can discover in the full changelog at the Google Play Store.

Audio snobs rejoice: Windows 10 will have system-wide FLAC support – Windows 10 will make it easier for users to enjoy lossless audio, with support for the popular FLAC format across all modern and desktop programs.

Windows 10: Another patch released, this time for IE – Microsoft has released another patch for Windows 10 build 9879 and this time it is patching a hole in IE’s Flash Player; the download is available now.

Use OneNote tools to make holiday shopping fun again – If you are a bargain hunter then OneNote may have what it takes to help you in your battle for the best deals with the updated OneNote Clipper tool.

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Windows 8.1 tablets hitting new lows, WinBook 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $60 – Microsoft’s low-cost strategy for Windows tablet is hitting new pricing points as the WinBook TW70CA17 is being priced at $60 by MicroCenter and this is not for an RT device.

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Firefox Redesigns Its Search Interface Ahead Of Yahoo Switch – By default, Firefox now features built-in one-click search for the likes of Wikipedia, Amazon (with Mozilla adding its affiliate link to the search), Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, eBay and Twitter. As with all things Firefox, it’s easy to customize this list by removing some options.

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Amazon Slashes Kindle Prices for Black Friday – Amazon’s $79 Kindle e-reader will be on sale for $49, and the company’s Kindle Fire tablets are also dramatically cheaper, with the Fire HD 6 going for a mere $79 (versus its usual $99 price tag) and the Fire HD 7 on sale for $109 (versus $139). Meanwhile, the e-commerce giant has pegged the price of an unlocked Fire phone to just $199, a $250 price cut from its already reduced price. Amazon is still including a year of free Amazon Prime with the phone.

Google.com Domain Should Be Covered By Search De-Listing, Say European Regulators – Google has kicked against it. Eric Schmidt was doing so in public only last month. But European regulators are now stipulating the so called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling should apply to search results displayed on Google.com, not just on European sub-domains such as Google.co.uk.

Security:

New tool catches surveillance malware masquerading as legitimate bookmark manager – A variant of the Remote Control System (RCS) malware developed by an Italian company called Hacking Team is masquerading as a bookmark management application called Linkman, according to the main developer of a new malware scanning tool. The Detekt tool, launched last week to help users scan their computers for commercial spyware used by governments, has already led to the discovery of previously unknown malware variants, according to security researcher Claudio Guarnieri, who led development for the security app.

State of Security (Infographic) – Summary: Cybercrime remains prevalent, and damaging threats from criminals continue to loom over businesses and consumers.

This infographic looks at:

The number of identities exposed via breaches

The top 10 types of information leaked

The number of marked growth in targeted and web-based attacks

Expert tips on avoiding corporate breaches.

Security needs to be essential component of smart grid – Consumers and companies alike need to understand what’s at stake if security is not a major consideration of the smart grid.

Company News:

Samsung Electronics to buy back $2B in shares – The move is viewed as part of Samsung’s plan to placate shareholders that have grown increasingly concerned about its declining smartphone business.

Tumblr overtakes Instagram as fastest-growing social platform – A quite surprising report by Global Web Index dictates that Tumblr is now the fastest growing social platform. Other social networks like Facebook are currently facing strong competition.

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GoPro reportedly planning to launch consumer drones next year – GoPro will soon be manufacturing drones. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company, known for its hugely popular line of action video cameras, will release consumer drones “late next year.” GoPro’s drones will be multi-rotor helicopters that carry high-definition cameras likely resembling those used in existing devices like the GoPro Hero series. According to the report, GoPro is aiming to price its consumer drones between $500 and $1,000, an aggressive range that could immediately shake up the consumer drone market.

Ubisoft apologizes for Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s borked launch with free DLC – Upset about the less-than-stellar technical quality of the bug-filled Assassin’s Creed: Unity? Ubisoft’s going to try and make it better by giving you more Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Anyone who purchased the game will get the upcoming Dead Kings DLC add-on for free, while people who already purchased the game’s season pass will get one of the following games for free: Far Cry 4, The Crew, Rayman Legends, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, or Just Dance 2015. The announcement comes by way of an apology from Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat.

Microsoft fingered as company forced to pay $136M in back taxes in China – Chinese state press said an unnamed foreign company matching Microsoft’s description had been forced to pay 840 million yuan in back taxes.

AT&T’s fiber Internet rollout will continue, kinda – The company tells the FCC that it will go forward with its current GigaPower fiber network plans but that it’s still waiting to hear what happens with Net neutrality in Washington.

Games and Entertainment:

The 7 games you can play with the whole family this Thanksgiving –  Maybe you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking. Maybe the meal’s over and you’re all together in the living room staring silently at a wall. Whatever the case, if you’re looking to spend quality time with your friends and family this Thanksgiving and you want to beat them in a friendly competition, here are seven games we’d recommend — no consoles required.

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The Best Video Games to Avoid Your Family with This Thanksgiving – Here’s a little rundown of the video games that VICE’s video game writers have been playing and enjoying since September of this year. If you’re looking for an escape from familial bonding over the next couple of days, these are the worlds you should immerse yourself in.

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MIDDLE EARTH: SHADOW OF MORDOR

The 6 mobile games that will help get you through Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, a chance to spend a few days with family and friends and enjoy an amazing meal. But there’s also a lot of downtime, whether it’s due to travelling across the country or hiding to avoid your uncle droning on about how the Bears are terrible this year. Luckily, there’s an easy way to enjoy yourself, even when you’re not stuffing your face with turkey — and it’s right there in your pocket.

Xbox Games with Gold for the month of December revealed – The month of December is near, which means a new set of free games for Xbox Live Gold members has been revealed. Check out the new set of downloadable titles for Xbox One/360.

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Steam Sale hits “Exploration” theme for holidays – This week Steam is bringing about one of their yearly initiatives aimed at getting you as many games as you can possibly handle – all at once – as fast as possible. It’s a Steam Sale, an infamous event, one in which you see so many games for costs so undeniably low, you can’t control your impulses. This week is a Steam Exploration Sale, ready for the days between November 26th and December 2nd – aimed at filling you just as full of game downloads as you are about to be with turkey.

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The 10 Best Xbox One Games – The games that every Xbox One game should own this holiday season.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The biggest tech turkeys of 2014 – Fourteen of the year’s most embarrassing blunders in technology, by Amazon, Apple, Google, Uber and more — all for your holiday enjoyment.

We’ve just figured out how Earth’s force-field works – A planet-scale force field sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but scientists using NASA probes have discovered that Earth is in fact protected by just such a phenomenon, with speedy electrons from a vast and naturally-occurring twin torus of radiation kept away from us. The Van Allen belts were first measured in 1958, each a gathering of charged particles kept in place by the planet’s own magnetic field, and varying in size and strength according to the output of the sun. However, it’s only now that their interaction with Earth’s plasmasphere and how it acts as a forcefield has been understood.

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Former HP CEO responsible for Compaq merger explores 2016 presidential bid – Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who brought about the industry-changing merger with Compaq, is laying the groundwork for an attempt to snag the Republican nomination in the 2016 US presidential race. According to a piece in The Washington Post, Fiorina intends to pursue nomination by playing heavily on her status as both the only female and the only CEO among the current field of potential Republican candidates.

GoPros for Cops Are Not the Solution – Could equipping police officers with body cameras prevent the next Ferguson? Not so fast.

Hexoskin Arctic biometric smart shirt offers winter upgrade – Last year the Hexoskin smart shirt was successfully funded on Indiegogo, something that spawned a wearable apparel alternative to wristbands and similar fitness trackers. That shirt, however, has a sleeveless vest design that isn’t tailored to the colder months now gripping many states, and so the company has introduced a new model called Arctic. As its name suggests, Arctic is a long-sleeved version of the same biometric shirt, allowing users to wear it while out jogging or exercising in the cold.

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Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Is Broke – Almost three years after being arrested for copyright infringement, the Megaupload founder is facing extradition from New Zealand, and possible incarceration. Worse yet, Dotcom’s lawyers recently stepped down, leaving the German native to represent himself at Thursday’s bail hearing.

Something to think about:

“When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”

–      Anatole France

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCEnhancer – This tool uses the WinApp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs.

CCEnhancer is a small tool which adds support for over 1,000 new programs into the popular program CCleaner. The tool uses the winapp2.ini system built into CCleaner to easily add new rules and definitions for programs. The rules were sourced mainly from the Piriform Support Forum, with several sourced from other places around the internet.

Instructions:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program, but is instead downloaded by the program. Simply press ‘Download Latest’ and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

Editor’s Note:

The actual file containing the definitions is not included with the program. Simply press “Download Latest” and the tool will automatically download the most recent version of the definitions. If CCEnhancer cannot locate the CCleaner.exe file you can open a dialog box and select the page yourself.

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Age of Empires III – The Napoleonic Era – Napoleonic Era is a renowned, fan-made modification for Age of Empires 3 and its expansions The Warchiefs and The Asian Dynasties. The mod intends to accurately illustrate the time from 1555-1815 by greatly expanding and reworking the game with new units, buildings, maps, sounds, music and civilizations. The mod has been founded in January 2006 at the German Age of Empires site age-community.net by Alexander Fleger and is being continued by Peter Piepenburg since February 2010. It is still one of the most anticipated mods for Age of Empires III in the whole world.

Features:

Over 20 new maps such as Rhine, Ural, Black Forest, Sahara, Malta, Italian Peninsula, Alps, Syrian Desert, Nile Delta, Levant, …

7 new civs: Austria, Italian States, Poland, Prussia, Sweden, Swiss Confederacy, United States

2 fully reworked civs: French and Germans

Plenty of new unique units such as Geuzen (Dutch), Drabant (Sweden), Lange Kerls (Prussia), Mounted Rifleman (United States), Azap (Ottomans), Grenzer (Austria), Grognard (French), Conquistador (Spain), Merchant (Italy), Lisowczyk (Poland), Death Head Hussar (Prussia), Line Infantry (Austria), Swiss Guard (Swiss) …

New buildings like the University (technology building), Keep (small fort), Bivouac (Barracks-Stable), Reichstag (Banner army training), Great Basilica (conspirational content), Torp (House-Barracks), … Shared units such as Chevaulegers, Fusiliers, Arquebusiers, Conscripts, Sharpshooters, Sappers, …

Plenty of new technologies and Homecity cards

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Toolwiz Time Freeze – A free instant system protection tool that will protect your system from any unwanted changes and malicious activity in low disk level. Toolwiz also has a complete, all in one suite called Toolwiz Care.

With a simple click, it puts your actual system under virtual protection on the fly and creates a virtual environment as a copy of the real system, on which you can evaluate applications, watch movies, and perform online activities. It provides higher-level security to computer protection, and greatly improves the efficiency of virtual system

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies – In May, 2013, a British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed on a suburban London street by two Muslim British citizens, who said they were acting to avenge years of killings of innocent Muslims by the British military in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the attackers, Michael Adebolajo, had also been detained and tortured in 2010 in Kenya with the likely complicity of Her Majesty’s Government. The brutal attack on Rigby was instantly branded “terrorism” (despite its targeting of a soldier of a nation at war) and caused intense and virtually universal indignation in the UK.

In response, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee resolved to investigate why the attack happened and whether it could have been prevented. Ensuring that nothing undesirable would occur, the investigation was led by the Committee’s chair, the long-time conservative government functionary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday, Sir Malcolm’s Committee issued its findings in a 191-page report. It contains some highly predictable conclusions, but also some quite remarkable ones.

DHS and CIA digital purge: Plans to delete emails and network surveillance records – Since when do people object to the government deleting a stockpile of electronic records? Since the digital purge could possibly get rid of evidence that Einstein’s network surveillance doesn’t work like it should. What better way to get rid of damning evidence than to delete the proof? At least, that’s the way some people are looking at the destruction of Einstein records and the potential nuking of years of DHS and CIA emails.

The Snowden Effect, Quantified – The failure of the USA Freedom Act in the Senate earlier this month was a disappointment to many in favor of reforming the National Security Agency. The bill, far from perfect, and certainly incomplete in its scope was thought of by some as a possible first step. To others, it was a way for Congress to pass something that merely looked like reform.

It didn’t advance after a procedural vote axed its life, making the argument about its potential efficacy moot — not even something lightweight could make it through Congress.

So what damn effect has Edward Snowden had on privacy, now far more than a year after the first revelations from the documents? Well as it turns out, we have some new data to measure that.

UN committee calls on countries to protect right to privacy – A United Nations panel has approved a resolution that would have its General Assembly call on states to respect and protect the right to privacy in the digital age.

The draft resolution, titled “Right to privacy in the digital age,” has Brazil and Germany as the main sponsors, and is an important if primarily symbolic move by the countries involved.

A resolution calling for the protection of human rights online as well as offline, also proposed by Brazil and Germany, was adopted last year in the U.N. General Assembly in the wake of revelations by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s surveillance in the country and abroad.

Australia: Who Brandis called censored and deemed not relevant to democracy – The very type of records that Attorney-General George Brandis would like Australian telecommunications companies to retain from customers for two years have been deemed too personal for release under Freedom of Information when they belong to him.

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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 27, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Who Brandis called censored and deemed not relevant to democracy

    Yeah, well who is surprised, not me. It must be wonderful making laws and rules for everyone except yourself to follow. That’s exactly what this useless government we have here do, and not just in this example, but everything they do. Tighten your belts, bear some pain, trust us with your metadata except they don’t bear any pain at all, they are sitting pretty on their huge, overbloated salaries and perks and then effectively offer our defence forces a pay cut. Now to my mind, I do believe that our defence forces do a much more important job, than those weasels in Canberra.

    Sorry, a bit of a rant but I am so sick of hypocritical, lying bastards ruling our nation (and others). No wonder average people hate politicians so much.

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      Well, your rant saved me the trouble. 🙂 If I didn’t know that you were in Oz, and with some minor changes only, I’d assume initially that this came from a fellow Canadian.

      Both your guy – Abbot – and our guy – Harper – are 2 peas in a pod. Their behaviour as a political lock-step couple, at the recent Summit down under, was noted here in Canada (not favourably), by more than a few political observers. Fascist to the core; the pair of them.

      History will not treat either of these reptilian degenerates well.

      Have a super weekend Mal.

      Best,

      Bill