Monthly Archives: November 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 19, 2014

US Senate falls two votes short of shutting down NSA phone spying;  Swedish ISP to let users shield Internet activity from police;  Top tips on hack-proofing your life;  10 cool things to try with Android 5.0;  How to get the most free online storage;  Walmart Goes After Rivals With Early Black Friday Sale;  The 10 Best Shopping Apps to Compare Prices;  LittleBits Serves Up DIY Smart Home Kit;  Can I Delete All My Old, Embarrassing Tweets?  Use Google to flip a coin or roll dice;  IBM The Latest To Try To Fix Email;  Today I Deleted Uber: Here’s Why You Should, Too;  Russian dashcams catch another explosion in the sky;  Netflix Will Expand To Australia And New Zealand In March 2015;  Microsoft releases out-of-band security patch;  Watch What Has to Be the Most Epic Video Game Launch Trailer Ever;  OSForensics (free).

US Senate falls two votes short of shutting down NSA phone spying – The US Senate voted against reining in the NSA’s spying powers tonight, shooting down a proposal that was supported not just by intelligence reform groups, but by the director of the NSA himself. The USA Freedom Act needed 60 Senate votes to pass its key procedural vote, and it failed to get them. The bill got 58 yes votes and 42 no votes. The bill had widespread support, not just from civil liberties groups but from law enforcement—including the director of the NSA, and even the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Swedish ISP to let users shield Internet activity from police – Swedes have started to sign up for a free service from ISP Bahnhof to hide their Internet communications metadata from the police, and the company’s CEO is urging other European ISPs to follow suit. The Swedish ISP will start offering a free VPN (virtual-private-network) service to its customers on Monday. That same day it will also resume retaining customer location and traffic metadata for law enforcement purposes to comply with Swedish law, something it stopped doing in May. By complying again with the data retention rules, the ISP will avoid a fine of 5 million Swedish Kronor, or about US$678,000.

Top tips on hack-proofing your life – Summary: From drug cartels to passwords, security expert Brian Krebs weighs in on how to keep your personal data and bank account safe.

How to get the most free online storage – With the market for cloud storage services starting to get crowded, we take a look at how to get as much storage from the different providers as possible.

Got Lollipop? 10 cool things to try with Android 5.0 – Google’s Android 5.0 release is more than just a pretty makeover. Here are 10 fun features you’ll definitely want to explore once you have Lollipop in front of you.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Walmart Goes After Rivals With Early Black Friday Sale – After announcing details of its 2014 Black Friday promotion last week, Walmart has now revealed a pre-Black Friday savings event, which will offer deals on HDTVs, game systems, and more. Walmart’s second-annual early Black Friday event kicks off this Friday at 8 a.m. and runs through Nov. 27, or until supplies last, store executives announced during a media event Tuesday at the company’s North Bergen, N.J. store.

The 10 Best Shopping Apps to Compare Prices – The latest price-comparison apps are ringing in new features that will spread holiday cheer. There are apps to help the tech-deficient choose a gift for the tech-addicted, lighten the load of loyalty cards, predict prices and product releases to minimize buyer’s (and receiver’s) remorse, and offer up rewards. Price-comparison apps merely need to snap a barcode and perform a search to turn out all of the above, making the marketplace crowded. Because we don’t want you to start your holiday shopping panic before you’ve even left an app store, PCMag has found the 10 best apps out there.

Facebook rolls out Groups, brings another app to your screen – In their continued effort to take over your smartphone screen, Facebook has released Groups. The app’s purpose is simple enough; it’s for group messaging. Yeah, that’s really it. Facebook has taken an aspect of their messaging platform and splintered it off into a standalone app. The new Groups app is complimentary, though; there won’t be the divide we saw with Messenger months ago. You can still access Groups via the Facebook app, or via Messenger. Or, now, via a standalone app.

BuzzFeed Jumps Aboard The Messaging App Train, Starting With WeChat – BuzzFeed’s next step is messaging apps, and it’s teamed up with Tencent to become a media partner on the Chinese firm’s WeChat app, which counts 468 million monthly active users across the world.

Google’s trusted places just made my life so much easier – As with the two existing options, trusted faces and trusted devices, the new location-based automatic unlocker bypasses the usual lock screen when it detects the proper circumstances. You can set multiple trusted locations and it works without adding any delays to accessing the phone.


LittleBits Serves Up DIY Smart Home Kit – The Smart Home Kit was designed to help DIYers retrofit and connect their existing home appliances rather than tossing out perfectly fine equipment in favor of expensive new gadgets, littleBits said in a Tuesday blog post. “Current smart home companies are encouraging us to throw out all of our ‘dumb’ home products and appliances (lamps, coffee machines, speakers, etc),” the company said. “We think that’s expensive, unrealistic, and unnecessary. It’s a lot of buying, replacing, and spending and it adds up! We shouldn’t have to throw away an appliance just to connect it to the Internet.”


Twitter’s powerful new search engine includes every tweet ever sent – Twitter’s always been about speed and immediacy. It’s where news breaks, it’s where topics trend, it’s where your timeline flies by so fast you’re bound to miss things. In an effort to make itself a more permanent home for all that information, Twitter has announced today that you can search through every tweet sent on the service since 2006.

You Asked: Can I Delete All My Old, Embarrassing Tweets? – Twitter just made its search tool more powerful than ever. The social network has now made it easy to search any of the 500 billion public tweets that have been sent in Twitter’s eight-year history. Yes, that includes your tweets—even the drunk ones. If you’re nervous about what an Internet sleuth might uncover if they searched for all your references to “weed” or a comprehensive listing of your embarrassing unanswered pleas directly to a celebrity, you might want to review your old tweets and delete the bad apples. Here’s how to head off your future PR nightmare at the pass:

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Android Lollipop Review – This week we’ve had a look at what it means to be rolling with the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet with a full Android 5.0 Lollipop upgrade. This isn’t your everyday average upgrade – it’s not like we’re using the Nexus 9 that just happens to be branded by NVIDIA. Instead, this is the first non-Nexus tablet to receive the update, complete with NVIDIA’s own apps under the hood. This is more than just a software update just for the sake of having the latest and greatest – this is a real-deal update of the abilities of the unit.


Google program mimics human brains and vision to automatically caption photos – Next time you’re stumped when trying to write a photo caption, try Google. The search giant has developed a machine-learning system that can automatically and accurately write captions for photos, according to a Google Research Blog post. The innovation could make it easier to search for images on Google, help visually impaired people understand image content and provide alternative text for images when Internet connections are slow.


Use Google to flip a coin or roll dice – To get rolling, enter roll die, roll dice or roll a dice into Google’s search bar by voice or fingertip and Google will roll a single die. Unfortunately for backgammon players, you can’t roll two dice at once. And I’m sorry to report to D&D players that the only die Google offers is a six-side one.


Microsoft releases out-of-band security patch for Windows, recommends immediate installation – Microsoft has put out a notice today that they will be releasing an out-of-band security patch and it affects many of the company’s Server operating systems; immediate installation is recommended.

WhatsApp rolls out end-to-end encryption using TextSecure code – WhatsApp partnered with Open Whisper Systems for the launch, using open source code to build in the new features. It’s unclear when the features will come to iOS, but just reaching WhatsApp’s Android users represents a huge step forward for everyday encryption use. “End-to-end” means that, unlike messages encrypted by Gmail or Facebook Chat, WhatsApp won’t be able to decrypt the messages itself, even if the company is compelled by law enforcement. The company will set up the key exchange between users, but only the two users will have access to the conversation itself.

How asymmetric encryption works – Instead of the usual terms of “public key” and “private key” this tutorial uses “lock” and “key”.


Mozilla, EFF And Others Band Together To Provide Free SSL Certificates – Ideally, every time you visit a website, that connection should happen over a secure HTTPS connection so nobody can snoop on your surfing habits when you are using a public network at a coffee shop or at the airport. But in reality, most smaller websites don’t offer these kind of secure connections because getting the kind of digital public-key certificate that makes HTTPS connections work involves a rather annoying and manual process. They also typically don’t come cheap. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. Starting soon, Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust and researchers at the University of Michigan are working through the Internet Security Research Group to create a new certificate authority to offer these digital certificates for free to anybody who owns a web domain. The “Let’s Encrypt” group will launch this service next summer.


Uber emphasizes privacy stance following exec’s comments – In case you managed to miss it, one of Uber’s top executives recently made comments about how the company could dox reporters that have been critical of the service, something that quickly spawned harsh comments and ample backlash. Though an apology and clarification were made soon after, users are still raising privacy concerns, and in an apparent effort to quiet the noise comes a new blog post from Uber. It has emphasized its privacy policy, pointing out the bits it feels are relevant, though it seems like a case of too little, too late.

All the Reasons Why Uber Is the Worst – A high-profile Uber executive suggested that the company should spend $1 million digging up dirt on journalists. We’re not surprised.

Today I Deleted Uber: Here’s Why You Should, Too – Uber is an unethical company run by bad people. It’s time to delete their app and use an alternative.

Company News:

Netflix Will Expand To Australia And New Zealand In March 2015 – In its last quarterly earnings video streaming service Netflix teased that it would be soon launching in more countries and today comes confirmation of that: the company will be expanding Down Under, to Australia and New Zealand, in March 2015. “Internet-connected users in Australia and New Zealand will be able to subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows in high-definition or even 4K where available,” the company says.

Samsung decides 56 smartphones a year is too many, will cut lineup by 30% – Samsung’s 2015 lineup will be still be massive—just slightly less massive.


Samsung’s 2014 product lineup.

Facebook now wants to be your tech news source – Facebook today launched a new Page devoted to surfacing strictly tech news in your timeline. FB Techwire, an extension of FB Newswire, will serve as yet another tool for journalists for exposing the highest-quality work of those working in the tech community. Like Newswire, which launched earlier this year, Techwire will verify and aggregate the best content of the today in a manner that makes the conversation surrounding the news accessible to its audience.

Nokia’s Future Explained Simply – Does Microsoft own Nokia? Is Nokia ever going to make another smartphone? Will Nokia start making Android phones and tablets in the near future? What we’re about to do is set the record straight on a few key points about the Nokia brand – where they are, what happened with Microsoft, and where they’re going in the near future. It’s from this point that you can move forward with Nokia, understanding all the basics. The software, the hardware, and the support as well.

Former BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is now the top boss at Powermat – Thorsten Heins couldn’t reverse BlackBerry’s deep troubles during his time as CEO, but now he’s got a new challenge: making Powermat the clear winner in wireless charging. Today, Powermat Technologies announced that Heins has been appointed CEO and Chairman of the board, immediately making him the most powerful and influential executive at the company.

IBM The Latest To Try To Fix Email – IBM wants to take on email and today released its new email product called IBM Verse. IBM’s answer is to throw some design sense at the problem, and mix it with analytics and intelligence and when you’re done, you have a smarter and more usable email tool, and it seems to work to some extent, but it doesn’t really address the fundamental underlying issues with email, no matter how pretty or well designed it is.

Games and Entertainment:

The creators of classic ‘Maniac Mansion’ are making a spiritual successor – 25 years ago, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick designed Maniac Mansion, one of the defining titles from the golden era of adventure games. Now they’re making a spiritual successor. The two creators just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund development of Thimbleweed Park, a new game that not only plays like a classic Lucasarts game, but looks like one too. “We don’t want to make a game ‘inspired by,’ or ‘paying homage to’ classic point and click adventures,” the duo says, “we want to make a real classic point and click adventure.”

Thimbleweed Park

LittleBigPlanet 3 Review: A Great Platformer With A Lower Barrier Of Entry For Creativity – For all the emphasis LittleBigPlanet games put on your ability to create new worlds and build custom game experiences of basically any sort you can imagine, the core story mode of the titles is always the first thing I run to try out. In LittleBigPlanet 3, the game’s consistent mix of fun and frustrating gameplay, which is made even better when you have between one and three additional players over for local co-operative fun, means it follows in the footsteps of previous installments in this regard.


Far Cry 4 Review: A Quirky Open-World Shooter You’ll Want To Explore – Launching today, Far Cry 4 is the latest in Ubisoft’s franchise of first-person shooters set in exotic locales. It takes place in a big, beautiful open world roughly based the area around the Himalayas in Nepal. As a player, you’re free to explore this environment through a variety of means, including driving ATVs, cars, and trucks to water vehicles, small helicopters, and even a wingsuit for quickly bailing from great heights. When navigating towards a specific mission or location, the game conveniently lets you turn on Autodrive so you can take in the surroundings or deal with enemies in vehicles of their own.

Far Cry 4

Watch What Has to Be the Most Epic Video Game Launch Trailer Ever: You kind of have to see it to believe it – BioWare’s role-playing epic Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the most anticipated new video games of the year. The title, which releases Nov. 18 for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PCs, is an open-world epic with a Game of Thrones aesthetic.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Elon Musk’s private warning on AI: “seriously dangerous” in 5 years – In October during an MIT event, Elon Musk shared a word of caution about artificial intelligence, saying that humanity needs to be careful with the technology, and that it is likely “our biggest existential threat”. He drove the point home, saying that by trifling with artificial intelligence “we are summoning the demon.” Following this, a comment from Musk about artificial intelligence efforts that was supposed to remain private was inadvertently published for all to see, and it paints a far more dire warning.

U.K. Government Funds Free Online Courses Teaching Startup Skills – A tech industry-backed, U.K. government-funded initiative offering free online courses to those wanting to learn commercial digital business skills goes live today, aiming to upskill Brits to work for tech companies or even start their own startup.

Bob Marley will be the face of the first global weed brand – Plenty of ground has been broken since Washington and Colorado became the first states to make the sale and recreational use of marijuana legal earlier this year. We’ve seen the first medical marijuana ad on television, the first rules governing how banks handle the money coming from dispensaries, and even the first weed publishing vertical at an established newspaper. Now the world’s first international marijuana brand is being created — and it will use Bob Marley’s likeness to promote it.


Tracour Launches To Prove That Some Financial Analysts Are Full Of It – Financial analysts matter. That’s why you often hear them asking questions at the end of earnings calls, when the CEOs of public companies try to avoid answering them directly. They research, analyze, and make recommendations that the regular person can follow. Too bad they are often so damn wrong. Tracour, co-founded by Brad Sams (Sams is a well-known technology writer, and generally decent human that I have known professionally for some time) aims to vet analyst recommendations to help people avoid lemons. Tracour launched into open beta this morning.

From Cracked16 Awesome Life Hacks Hidden in Technology You Use Every Day.


Russian dashcams catch another explosion in the sky – Russia is well-known for the number of dashcams around to catch all varieties of interesting things, and thanks to those cameras we’ve seen quite a few explosions in the sky. This past April, some cameras caught another meteor on video, this one having happened in the nation’s Murmansk region. That wasn’t the last of the night-time light show however, and just recently another explosion has happened — this one exceptionally bright and long-lasting — and it was caught on camera in the Sverdlovsk region.


The Planet’s Most Hated Pick-up Artist Has Apologized – After outrage from citizens around the world at pick-up artist Julien Blanc’s demonstrated aggression towards women and questionable dating advice seminars, he appeared on CNN last night and tried to defend his actions.

10-second kisses come with a side order of 80 million bacteria – New research quantifies just how much bacterial transfer happens during a kiss — and how kissing can change our mouths in the long term.

Something to think about:

“I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.”

–      Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), upon being told the cost of an operation.

Today’s Free Downloads:

OSForensics – Discover relevant forensic evidence faster. Find files quickly. Search within Files. Search for Emails. Recover Deleted Files. Uncover Recent Activity. Collect System Information. View Active Memory. Extract Logins and Passwords.

Find files quickly

OSForensics™ allows you to search for files many times faster than the search functionality in Windows.

Results can be analyzed in the form of a file listing, a Thumbnail View, or a Timeline View which allows you to determine where significant file change activity has occurred.

Search within Files

If the basic file search functionality is not enough, OSForensics can also create an index of the files on a hard disk. This allows for lightning fast searches for text contained inside the documents. Powered by the technology behind Wrensoft’s acclaimed Zoom Search Engine.

Search for Emails

An additional feature of being able to search within files is the ability to search email archives. The indexing process can open and read most popular email file formats (including pst) and identify the individual messages.

This allows for a fast text content search of any emails found on a system.

Recover Deleted Files

After a file has been deleted, even once removed from the recycling bin, it often still exists until another new file takes its place on the hard drive. OSForensics can track down this ghost file data and attempt to restore it back to useable state on the hard drive.

Uncover Recent Activity

Find out what users have been up to. OSForensics can uncover the user actions performed recently on the system, including but not limited to:

Opened Documents

Web Browsing History

Connected USB Devices

Connected Network Shares

Collect System Information

Find out what’s inside the computer. Detailed information about the hardware a system is running on:

CPU type and number of CPUs

Amount and type of RAM

Installed Hard Drives

Connected USB devices

and much more. Powered by Passmark’s SysInfo DLL.

View Active Memory

Look directly at what is currently in the systems main memory. Attempt to uncover passwords and other sensitive information that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Select from a list of active processes on the system to inspect. OSF can also dump their memory to a file on disk for later inspection.

Extract Logins and Passwords

Recover usernames and passwords from recently accessed

websites in common web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

Limitations: There is a Free edition of the software and a Professional edition for commercial and government use. The professional version is $499.00.


McAfee Stinger – Stinger is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but a tool for dealing with an infected system.

Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Reform Bill Dies As Republicans Hype Threats From Islamic State – Senate Republicans, ratcheting up their rhetoric about the threat posed by the Islamic State, on Tuesday night sank the only significant legislative attempt to rein in the National Security Agency in the nearly year and a half since  American citizens first learned they were being spied on by their own government.

The procedural vote to move forward on the USA Freedom Act required 60 votes. It received 58. All but one Democrat and four libertarian-leaning Republicans voted in favor of the bill. The rest of the Republicans — including libertarian firebrand Rand Paul (R-Ky.) —  voted against, along with Florida Democrat Bill Nelson. (Here’s the rollcall of the vote.)

During a brief debate before the vote, Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss warned that members of the Islamic State “want people to walk the streets of New York… and start killing people.”  And, displaying either a real or feigned ignorance of the extraordinary latitude the NSA will continue to enjoy when it comes to spying on international communications, he suggested that the bulk collection of domestic phone records was necessary to ferret out such plans. (Watch video of the debate.)

“God forbid we wake up tomorrow morning… to the news that a member of ISIL is in the United States and federal agents need to determine who this person is coordinating with to carry out a potential attack upon the homeland,” Florida Republican Marco Rubio said. “I promise you, if God forbid a horrifying event like that would happen, the first question that would be asked is why didn’t we know about it?”

AT&T demands clarity: Are warrants needed for customer cell-site data? – AT&T has entered the legal fracas over whether court warrants are required for the government to obtain their customers’ cell-site location history.

The telecom, while not siding one way or the other, said Monday the courts should adopt a uniform policy nationwide. As it now stands, there’s conflicting appellate rulings on the matter. The Supreme Court has yet to decide the issue.

Woman posts “love” of ISIS on Facebook, charged with “promoting” terrorism – A 29-year-old Virginia woman is set to appear again in federal court Wednesday after being charged in connection to favorable Facebook posts about the Islamic State of in Syria (ISIS). One of her posts simply read, “I love ISIS.”

The woman, Heather Coffman, was caught in a terrorism sting operation after the authorities got a search warrant to unmask her Facebook account information. The warrant noted that there was probable cause to unveil who was behind several Facebook accounts because there were pictures of ISIS freedom fighters with words at the bottom that said “Allah has preferred the Mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with great reward.” She also shared a job description on the social networking site that said “jihad for Allah’s sake.”

“In my experience, this indicates support for violent jihad. Further, the mujahideen are individuals that fight violent jihad,” FBI agent Odette Tavares said in court documents (PDF). Additionally, in response to a question on Facebook about why she published pro-ISIS pictures, Coffman responded, “I love ISIS,” according to the government. The feds also said she posted that she hates gays and Zionists and that “they should all die.”

The months-long investigation ultimately led to Coffman being charged Monday with making “false statements” to federal agents “involving or promoting international domestic terrorism.” Now jailed, she is to appear in Virginia federal court Wednesday for a detention hearing (PDF). She is accused of telling an undercover FBI agent that she could help facilitate sending somebody to join the ISIS fight in Syria, and she then lied to FBI agents about it. (The authorities have so far offered no evidence she has connections to ISIS.)

Prosecutors drop key evidence at trial to avoid explaining “stingray” use – In a Baltimore trial courtroom on Monday, a local judge threatened to hold a police detective in contempt of court for refusing to disclose how police located a 16-year-old robbery suspect’s phone. Once the Baltimore Police were able to locate Shemar Taylor’s phone, they then searched his house and found a gun as well.

But rather than disclose the possible use of a stingray, also known as a cell site simulator, Detective John L. Haley cited a non-disclosure agreement, likely with the Harris Corporation, since the company is one of the dominant manufacturers of such devices. Stingrays can be used to determine a phone’s location, and they can also intercept calls and text messages.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams retorted, “You don’t have a nondisclosure agreement with the court,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

The prosecution then withdrew the evidence of the phone and gun but said it would still pursue the case.

Without Net Neutrality the Web Will Be a Dark, Dangerous Place – If we’re forced to say goodbye to net neutrality, we’ll be saying hello to a new world of unregulated technologies.

I’m scared of three things. One, that the inmates are about to take over the asylum in Congress, and no amount of common sense about net neutrality will matter, because in the end it will just be about garnering votes and winning a political victory for deep thinkers like Cruz.

Second, the Internet will basically become a toll highway, and the repercussions from that dramatic shift will spark a flood of unregulated technologies. The Internet is essentially the informational equivalent of running water, and once politicians with political axes to grind and greedy ISPs start messing with our water, it’s pretty much game over for consumer trust.

That leads to my third fear, where entities similar to Tor, Wikileaks, and Anonymous, whether they are perceived as good or bad in the online world, are going to multiply like rabbits and creep into the mainstream much more quickly. Some will rejoice when that happens. Others will want to declare martial law on the Web. I will probably just want to find a dark corner and hide.

Ferguson Racial Profiling Data – Data for this Silk comes from the Ferguson Police Department and U.S. Census Data. See here for the original publication.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 18, 2014

Boost Windows performance with these five apps;  Three apps to make your Android phone’s battery last longer;  Snapchat Now Lets You Send Money To Friends;  Want to try out Microsoft Sway? Here’s how to get access today;  Men think they can fix a computer (but can’t), study says;  A list of all the Google Now voice commands;  The Top 10 Most Controversial iPhone Apps;  Target’s Mobile App Gets Indoor Mapping, Interactive Black Friday Maps;  The best Chromebook you can buy;  How to decide between a $199 Windows notebook and a Chromebook;  Tech Support Scams Pop-Ups on the Rise;  Far Cry 4 review: It’s a far cry from Far Cry 3;  Photos: The 3D printed moon base of the future;  Tech Giants Call For Passage Of Senate NSA Reform Bill;  Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit BETA.

Boost Windows performance with these five apps – The Windows operating system has long been criticized because it tends to get bogged down over time. Installing applications, patches, drivers, etc., causes the OS to become cluttered. As a result, performance slowly diminishes. Fortunately, a number of applications can optimize your system and help restore performance.


Three apps to make your Android phone’s battery last longer – Phones and tablets die. It’s a fact of life and one that we must all inevitably plan our daily routines around. But sometimes you can’t. There isn’t always an open plug or an extra battery pack lying around. This is why you need to plan ahead. To avoid how often you’re faced with the untimely death of your pocket computer, we rounded up three of our favorite apps that can help you get a little more time out of that lithium cell.

Snapchat Now Lets You Send Money To Friends Through Snapcash Deal With Square Cash – While Venmo, Google Wallet, and more try to take a business approach to peer-to-peer payments, Snapchat today swooped in from the consumer side. It just added a “Snapcash”  payments option to its app through a deal with Square Cash. Now you can add a debit card, type a dollar amount into Snapchat’s text-chat feature, and hit the green pay button to instantly send a friend money. The feature is on Android now and is coming to iOS soon.

Men think they can fix a computer (but can’t), study says – A study suggests that men are especially keen to let it be known they know how to fix a computer, but their actual knowledge may not match their bravado.

Anonymous statement: KKK is a terrorist group, KKK responds poorly – Anonymous has issued a statement regarding its retaliation against the Ku Klux Klan’s Ferguson threats, calling the KKK a terrorist group and vowing to continue the campaign. Meanwhile, the KKK has responded poorly.

Want to try out Microsoft Sway? Here’s how to get access today – If you want to try out Microsoft’s new Sway app, you can now do so without waiting for you invitation if you use the link at the bottom of the post after the jump.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – You pick up your phone and say “OK Google”… and then what? Your phone is listening. The microphone icon is pulsing. What do you say to your phone? What can you say to it? Google Now’s voice function has become surprisingly robust over the years. Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New app Super lets you share casual thoughts, pics – The co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, is at it again. This time, his company Jelly Industries is bringing in another Twitter-like app named Super. A pretty simple app, Super lets you take images of your choosing and lay text over them. You can also include video into your post, should you need to. Rather than just start smashing out words, your flashy post first offers up a series of starters for your text, but lets you add anything you like.

The Top 10 Most Controversial iPhone Apps – We found 10 iOS apps that courted controversy for better or for worse. Some allowed for your iPhone to become a gateway to a world of stalking, while others were just in extremely bad taste. We also analyze Apple’s reaction to the apps, most of which were pulled from sale in a matter of days. Check it out in the slideshow.

Target’s Mobile App Gets Indoor Mapping, Interactive Black Friday Maps – Target has teamed up with an indoor mapping technology company called Point Inside to debut in-store maps in its mobile app that show where items are located as a pin on the map – similar to the navigation maps consumers are using today to route their way around town. The feature, which is live now in the Target app, will also help customers during the upcoming Black Friday sales, as specialized maps showing deals and dealbusters will be provided.


The best Chromebook you can buy – There’s really only one follow-up question to whether or not you should buy a Chromebook: do you live in a web browser? If you spend all your time in Chrome anyway — you use Gmail or Outlook, Spotify or Pandora, Tumblr or Facebook, Evernote or Pinterest, Flickr or 500px — you might be surprised how quickly you can obviate the few desktop apps you use now. Unless you work with video or photos, or you’re an avid gamer, a Chromebook has you covered.

Chromebooks Get Blanket Approval For NYC Schools – Google is already leading the pack in terms of tablets and notebooks sold to K-12 education providers, according to recent numbers from research firm IDC, and now it has gained another powerful new ally: The New York City Department of Education. The NYC CIO has signed on with Chromebooks, and Google Apps for Education, as par of their approved and supported (from an IT standpoint) tools for this school year, and they’ve also built a guide to help teachers in their district get started.


Microsoft starts promoting the $199 HP Stream 11 Windows 8.1 notebook – Microsoft is hoping that HP’s new $199 Windows 8.1 laptop will be a sales hit this festive season and is now promoting the device – which includes a one-year Office 365 subscription – with new TV ads.


How to decide between a $199 Windows notebook and a Chromebook – Summary: This is not an easy decision to make. There are some critical nuances you have to consider before you go one way or the other. In this article, we take a look at those factors.

iOS 8.1.1 is available now: How to download, and what’s new – A little less than one month ago, iPhone users were graced with iOS 8.1, bringing major additions to Apple’s operating system. While last update brought features like Apple Pay, reintroduced the Camera Roll, and fixed bugs with third-party extensions, iOS 8.1.1 is a more or less a usability update. If you’re into bug and stability fixes, this is the incremental update for you.

Sharetribe Lets You Create Your Own Peer-To-Peer Marketplace – Aiming to provide the ‘picks and shovels’ behind the online marketplace gold rush, Sharetribe — which appears to pivoted at least once — makes it easy for anyone to create and manage their own peer-to-peer marketplace, and take a cut of any transactions along the way.


Intel’s MICA Smart Bracelet Will Be In Stores Before Christmas For $495 – Intel today debuted the Intel MICA bracelet (short for “My Intelligent Communications Accessory), which was developed in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, the CFDA and sold exclusively at Barneys. The company also announced that it will go on sale in time for Christmas, and will retail for $495. That price includes at AT&T Sim card, complete with data and SMS messages, for two years.


SourceLair Lets You Code Right In Your Browser – Editing code isn’t that hard. A terminal, a little Vim, a little PHP, some beer, and maybe a few Google searches and you’re off and running. But what if you want to work on a project without compromising your personal server or don’t really have an environment for coding? SourceLair is one answer. The freemium service lets you build projects right in your browser.


New ransomware CoinVault allows users to decrypt one file for free – Cybercriminals behind a new ransomware program called CoinVault are trying out a new psychological tactic to convince users to pay up—freebies. The new threat was discovered by security researchers from Webroot and is similar in functionality to more prevalent ransomware programs like CryptoWall. It uses strong 256-bit AES encryption with keys stored on a remote server, it kills the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service so that users can’t use it to recover their files and only supports Bitcoin as a payment method. Users are asked to pay 0.5 bitcoins—around $200 at the current exchange rate—in order to receive the key that decrypts their files, but the cost increases every 24 hours.


Tech Support Scams Pop-Ups on the Rise – The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued a public service announcement warning about a “new twist to the telephone tech support scam“. In its message, it advises users to be particularly cautious about fake pop-ups telling them that their computers are infected and urging to call a toll free number for assistance:

Many Tor-anonymized domains seized by police belonged to imposter sites – A large number of the Tor-anonymized domains recently seized in a crackdown on illegal darknet services were clones or imposter sites, according to an analysis published Monday. Of the 276 domains Cubrilovic identified, 153 pointed to clones, phishing, or scam sites impersonating one of the hidden services targeted by law enforcement, he said. If corroborated by others, the findings may be viewed as good news for privacy advocates who look to Tor to help preserve their anonymity.

List of hacked government agencies grows: State Department, White House, NOAA & USPS – If whispers can be believed, then Chinese hackers are kicking U.S. government cyber butt and taking names as the growing list of government data breaches now includes the State Department, the White House, NOAA — which includes the National Weather Service and satellite data — and USPS.

TRUSTe pays $200,000 to settle charges that it deceived consumers – The firm that issues the TRUSTe privacy seal displayed on thousands of websites has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle charges that it deceived consumers about the sites it vouched for and perpetuated misrepresentations about TRUSTe’s status as a nonprofit. San Francisco-based TRUSTe told consumers that the websites certified under its programs receive a recertification review every year, according to a release published Monday by the Federal Trade Commission. But in fact, the consumer watchdog agency said, TRUSTe failed to conduct annual reviews in at least 1,000 cases from 2006 to 2013.

Company News:

Court agrees that Google’s search results qualify as free speech – The regulation of Google’s search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with “right to be forgotten” laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the US have generally agreed that Google’s search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google’s right to order its search results as it sees fit.

Intel merging mobile and PC groups as line between phone and computer blurs – Chip-making giant Intel is set to merge its mobile and tablet division together with the part of the company that makes processors for personal computers. The company’s chief executive, Brian Krzanich, announced the plan — which will combine the loss-making mobile group with the profitable PC chip-making group early next year — in an email to employees. Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy said the move comes as the “lines are blurring between PCs, tablets, phablets and phones,” and explained that the company’s aim is to “accelerate the implementation and create some efficiency so that we can move even faster.”

After Divorcing Microsoft, Nokia Reveals An Android Tablet, The N1, Hitting China First – Today at the Slush conference in Helsinki, home-town hero Nokia — the part of the business that did not get sold off to Microsoft, that is – has revealed its first device: the N1, a iPad-like small tablet with an aluminum shell, a 7.9-inch screen and an Android Lollipop OS. Selling for $249, it will be sold first in China by way of a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Foxconn and initially at least will be WiFi-only.


Ex-Nokians Launch Employee Wellness App Wellmo – Born from the ashes of Nokia’s ‘Wellness’ initiative — part of Nokia Research Center, which, by some estimates, helped make the once mobile giant the third largest R&D spender in Europe as recently as 2011 — is Wellmo, another Finnish startup operating in the health and fitness space.


Games and Entertainment:

Far Cry 4 review: It’s a far cry from Far Cry 3 – Game Theory Games are rarely known for providing a roster of characters worthy of a best supporting cast nomination, but Far Cry 4’s medley of misfits and tragic freedom fighters breaks the mould. Top of the bill is Pagan Min. Min’s the sort of merciless despot you’ll usually find in a Bond film. In the time it takes to say “psychopath”, he’s stabbed a guy to death, tortured someone else and made idle chit-chat with you across a table decorated with dead monkeys. Of course, Far Cry 4 isn’t the first in the series to put a villain on centre stage. Far Cry 3 employed Vaas Montenegro with similar success – the first of many concurrences between this and its predecessor.


Goat Simulator update to MMO for free this Thursday – For those of you that’ve played Goat Simulator, you understand the madness. It’s a tiny game, one in which you’re a goat that does insane and inane things for the greater good of simulating the real life experiences of a goat. For those of you that’ve not experienced Goat Simulator – may god have mercy on your souls. This game is about to get a major update this Thursday. An update that’s also an expansion. An update that’s also entirely free for people that already own the game.


Hands-On With Super Smash Bros. For Wii U – Later this week, Nintendo launches Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the fifth game in the wildly popular fighting game franchise that brings together all the company’s biggest characters. We’ve had a chance to play through some of the game this weekend and wanted to share some quick thoughts before our full review.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Xbox One chopped to $330 at GameStop for Black Friday – In a leaked paper insert for GameStop’s Black Friday it’s been revealed that the Assassin’s Creed Unity / Assassin’s Creed Black Flag combo box will be even less expensive than the already-cut prices from Microsoft. On the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to pick up the Xbox One “Holiday Value Bundle” for $329.99 USD. That’s $70 less than the standard price, or $20 cheaper than the cheapest price the Xbox One has ever been – without the games, mind you.

Buyer beware: 3 out of 4 Steam Early Access games haven’t been finished – Steam’s Early Access model is a great way to support small game developers and fresh ideas, as long as you don’t expect to ever play the finished product.

Meet the Tesla K80: Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card yet has an insane 24GB of RAM – The company on Monday announced an updated Tesla K80 graphics card, which is its fastest graphics product to date. Tesla is used in some of the world’s fastest supercomputers to solve pressing scientific questions. The K80 is based on technology similar to that used in GeForce PC graphics cards, but with some memory and throughput tweaks. The graphics card can be used by engineering companies to simulate visual models, or by oil and gas companies for geological research to find the best drilling sites. Tesla has also been used in servers to deliver virtual desktops to remote clients.


Sweden mulls over gender equality labels for video games – The Swedish agency Vinnova has given a gaming industry trade organization a grant to pursue a new project looking into whether video games in the nation should be labelled according to gender equality themes. The news comes from The Local, which reports that the project is inspired by the Bechdel Test, and that under it the association — Dataspelsbranchen — will work alongside multiple game developers to evaluate the issue. The project specifically aims to evaluate how women are portrayed in games and other gender-related issues.

Off Topic (Sort of):

NYC Launches Free Gigabit Speed Wi-Fi Network – The LinkNYC network will be more than 100 times faster than average municipal Wi-fi and 20 times faster than the average home internet service in NYC. People will be capable of downloading a two-hour high-def movie in as little as 30 seconds, boasts the City’s press materials announcing the network. Construction on the network of LinkNYC kiosks will begin in 2015 and the first structures will be running by the end of that year, according to the city. New York is planning to install up to 10,000 Links across the five boroughs.


Fitbit data is being used as evidence in court – In Forbes, Parmy Olsen has uncovered what appears to be the first use of data from a personal fitness tracker in court, thanks to a personal injury suit currently under way in Canada. The plaintiff, a Calgary woman, plans to use data from her Fitbit to show how her activity levels have declined since the accident. Crucially, the data is being routed through a third-party analytics firm called Vivametrica, which will analyze the data and report its findings to the court, rather than submitting raw data directly into evidence.

The Flying Nimbus is a self-balancing, one-wheeled, motorized skateboard – You really need a sense of balance to ride a skateboard, unless bodily injury is your idea of a fun afternoon. A project from one apparently quite talented fellow by the name Dane Kouttron could even give you the ability to shred with the best of them. Just looking at the Flying Nimbus, you wouldn’t think it was stable. After all, it only has one wheel. There’s just a lot of cool hardware behind the scenes that keeps you upright.


FCC chairman on schools: Basic connectivity is now inadequate – Chairman Tom Wheeler makes his case for higher-speed Internet access in schools, proposing a plan to increase the monthly fee in phone bills by 16 cents to cover new investment.

Freedom Chair makes it easier for the handicapped get around outdoors – Being confined to a wheel chair makes it much more difficult for people that are paralyzed or can’t walk for other reasons to get around. A new wheelchair product has debuted called the Freedom Chair that looks a lot like a normal wheelchair, but has a novel way for users to propel themselves. A typical wheelchair requires the user to spin the wheels using their hands and rings attached to the wheels. The Freedom Chair has the same style as a traditional wheel chair, but it has two levers that come up on each side of the chair user. By gripping, those levers and pushing them forwards and pulling them back, sort of like pedaling a bike, to get around.


Google’s Teller says Glass and other wearables need to be cheaper – Astro Teller, head of the Internet giant’s skunk works research lab, talks about Glass, future pricing and how the smart eyewear has become a “poster child” for privacy concerns.

Photos: The 3D printed moon base of the future – The European Space Agency is making plans to 3D print a lunar base. Here are 11 photos they released to give you a better idea of what a 3D printed moon base could actually look like.


Something to think about:

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

–    Dale Carnegie

Today’s Free Downloads:

Sandboxie – Run programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer.

Sandboxie requires neither the disabling nor blocking of functions available to Web sites through the browser. Instead, Sandboxie isolates and quarantines the outcome of whatever the Web site may do to your computer, including the installation of unsolicited software. There is no trade-off of functionality for security: the Web site can use the full range of active content tools, and if it uses these tools maliciously to install software or otherwise make changes in your computer, then these changes can be easily undone.

Sandboxie has originally been designed to increase the security of browsing with Internet Explorer, however it is just as effective with any other browser, and in fact, any other program. Sandboxie wraps a protection layer around the programs it supervises. It is this layer that intercepts and isolates any changes the programs make to the computer. And this layer is impartial to the specific program it wraps.

Sandboxie is a software that allows you isolates and quarantines website.

When you browse the web, changes occur to your computer system. Most of the time these changes are harmless, like recording the addresses of web sites you have visited (and when), so the browser can help you complete a web address that you type in. Whether these changes are harmless or harmful, they do in fact happen to your computer system.

When you use Sandboxie to protect your browsing session, it catches all these changes just as the browser is about to apply them into your computer system. Sandboxie does record these changes on behalf of the browser, but it records them in a special isolated folder, called the sandbox.

The benefit of having a sandbox is that it ensures your ability to get rid of all changes done by the browser, simply by deleting the sandbox folder.

Another useful feature of Sandboxie is the ability to terminate all sandboxed programs at once. As some web sites tend to pop up three new browser windows for each one you close, you can have Sandboxie close all of them with a click of a button.

You may use Sandboxie free of charge for any length of time that you desire. However, if you use Sandboxie for more than 30 days, the software will occasionally remind you to consider paying the registration fee. By doing that, you would show your support for further development and improvement of Sandboxie.

By paying the registration fee of $20 US-dollars you get a life-time registration key to this and and all upcoming versions of the Sandboxie product.

Lansweeper – Lansweeper is an automated network discovery and asset management tool which scans all your computers and devices and displays them in an easy accessible web interface. There is no need to install any agents on the computers, all scanning is done by standard build-in functionality.

Software inventory

With Lansweeper it’s easy to track and audit all your installed software, you can create powerful software inventory reports to find out which application is installed on which computer. Google unknown software and publishers right from the web interface and find out who is running software that’s not up to date.

Hardware inventory

Lansweeper cannot only detect all hardware devices in your computers but with it’s change tracking it can find out when a device was changed or removed. Not only does Lansweeper scans windows devices, it also gathers details about all other IP enabled devices on your network from the network discovery scan. (Linux, Printers, Routers, …)

License compliance

If you want to keep all software and operating systems licenses up to date it can be a time consuming work. With Lansweeper computer inventory it doesn’t need to be…

The webinterface will tell you how many software versions are installed and how much licenses you are missing.

Compliance reporting

Every company needs policies to get a smooth running network. Compliance reporting and the dashboard can help you to make all kinds of asset management reports. Who doesn’t have the latest version of our virus scanner, Who is missing the latest patch for our ERP solution. The only limit is your imagination…

Active directory integration

Lansweeper gathers all active directory user and computer details for your scanned machines. Create reports based on OU, integrate user pictures, Clean up your Active directory…

Eventlog integration

Every windows computer logs errors into the Eventlog. Thanks to Lansweeper you can now consolidate all these errors and get an alert e-mail as soon as an important error occurs.


Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit BETA drills down and removes even deeply embedded rootkits – This is beta software, for consumer and approved partner use only, use at your own risk, and by proceeding you are agreeing to our terms of license agreement enclosed as “License.rtf”.

All Beta versions are non-final products. Malwarebytes does not guarantee the absence of errors which might lead to interruption in the normal computer operations or data loss. Precautions should be taken. The types of infections targeted by Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit can be very difficult to remove. Please be sure you have any valued data backed up before proceeding, just as a precaution.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech Giants Call For Passage Of Senate NSA Reform Bill – A collective of large tech companies has urged the Senate to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that it could vote on this week.

Reform Government Surveillance, which counts Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter as members, released a letter to the Senate, calling the week’s vote an “opportunity” to pass the “bipartisan” law. The Act will, according to the companies, prevent “bulk collection of Internet metadata,” and increase “transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies.”

The bill does not go far enough, the group notes, saying that “preventing government access to data without proper legal process” and “transparent frameworks that govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions” remains areas where work is needed. Still, the bill would provide “meaningful change to [the nation’s] surveillance programs,” the letter reads.

The Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act has been mostly well received by privacy advocates, even though there is general admission that the bill’s failure to address surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a critical weakness.

As the tech companies point out, there is more to do.

White House Says It “Strongly Supports” The Senate’s NSA Reform Bill – The White House issued a statement this afternoon saying that it “strongly supports” the Senate’s USA FREEDOM Act, which could see a vote this week. The bill would curtail some practices of the United States’ surveillance apparatus.

Congress, in this lame duck session, only has so many hours and days to conduct its final business. Before the session, it seemed like the FREEDOM Act was dead in the water. Senator Patrick Leahy refused to buckle, and managed, surprising many, to get the damn thing moving. A 60 vote threshold for cloture is expected to be tested tomorrow. It isn’t clear if there are enough yes votes.

The White House coming out in favor of the bill puts it on the same side as its constant critic Senator Ted Cruz, who recently made a stir by calling net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet.” On that issue, the President and the good Senator are diametric opposites.

The White House was against passing the bill in lame duck before it was for it. Put another way, it was against it until it was politically safe to be in favor of it.

Keeping Secrets – Four decades ago, university researchers figured out the key to computer privacy, sparking a battle with the National Security Agency that continues today.

What if your research could help solve a looming national problem, but government officials thought publishing it would be tantamount to treason? A Stanford professor and his graduate students found themselves in that situation 37 years ago, when their visionary work on computer privacy issues ran afoul of the National Security Agency.

At the time, knowledge of how to encrypt and decrypt information was the domain of government; the NSA feared that making the secrets of cryptography public would severely hamper intelligence operations. But as the researchers saw it, society’s growing dependence on computers meant that the private sector would also need effective measures to safeguard information. Both sides’ concerns proved prescient; their conflict foreshadowed what would become a universal tug-of-war between privacy-conscious technologists and security-conscious government officials.

Internet Society slams online ‘UN Security Council’ plan, snubs permanent seat offer – The Internet Society has blasted efforts from some quarters to create a “UN Security Council” for the internet – which would rule over the online world.

The society (ISoc) is a non-profit organization that, among other things, runs the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which develops and publishes crucial internet’s standards.

“Based on the information that we have to date, the Internet Society cannot agree to participate in or endorse the Coordination Council for the NETmundial Initiative,” the organization’s Board said in a statement on Monday, adding: We are concerned that the way in which the NETmundial Initiative is being formed does not appear to be consistent with the Internet Society’s longstanding principles.

Senator demands answers about DOJ mobile phone surveillance planes – A reported mobile phone surveillance program at the U.S. Department of Justice raises serious privacy questions, a U.S. senator said Monday.

The DOJ program, which reportedly uses cell-tower mimicking equipment on airplanes to target the mobile phone locations of criminals, raises questions about how many “innocent” people’s mobile phone data is also swept up in the operation, said Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The DOJ has not confirmed the existence of the surveillance program, reported in a Wall Street Journal article on Thursday.

“Americans are rightfully disturbed by just how pervasive collection of mobile phone information is, even of innocent individuals,” Markey said in a statement. “While this data can be an important tool for law enforcement to identify and capture criminals and terrorists, we must ensure the privacy rights of Americans are protected.”

Markey on Monday disclosed a letter he sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for details about the program.

“We need to know what information is being collected, what authority is being used to collect it, and if and how this information is retained and stored,” said Markey, a long-time advocate of personal privacy.

A DOJ spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Markey’s letter and the surveillance program.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 17, 2014

Our devices are listening to us all the time — but do we care?  Black Friday begins: Walmart stores to match Amazon prices;  Microsoft rolls out Skype for Web;  Android 5.0 video user guide;  These 5 Emergency Gadgets Can Save Your Life;  This Is the Best Cheap Wi-Fi Router You Can Buy;  Action Video Games Make You Smarter;  How to encrypt sensitive data? Put it in an encrypted container;  Facebook: You post it, we can see it, and that’s that;  Kindle updates include Family Library sharing, Word Wise definitions;  Winning with Mobile (Infographic);  AT&T stops using undeletable phone tracking IDs;  A Gift Guide For The Core Gamer Who Wants It All;  7 Troubling Security Breaches And How They Happened;  A brief history of tailgating;  Apple Pay proves hugely popular at McDonald’s, Walgreens;  Facebook internally working on “Facebook at Work”;  Man injects Bitcoin wallet NFC chips into his hands;  Baidu PC Faster (free).

Black Friday begins: Walmart stores to match Amazon prices – Black Friday, the day that holiday shoppers either love or hate, is quickly approaching. While a number of retailers, both physical and online, have already begun announcing some of their big deals to be available come November 28th, Walmart is getting an early start in this year’s challenge to internet rival Amazon. As of November 14th, all Walmart retail stores are now price-matching with anything available on

Facebook: You post it, we can see it, and that’s that – Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck. In fact, Facebook doesn’t think it would make sense to let users do that.

Our devices are listening to us all the time — but do we care? – Once a thing dreamed about in sci-fi, voice-controlled computers are a reality. But consumers may not realize the price they pay for living in the future.

Forget the app; Microsoft rolls out Skype for Web – Microsoft announced today that it’s launching a beta of Skype for the Web, allowing browser-based video chats that don’t require a separate app. Skype for Web, which is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, will be available via Internet Explorer, Chrome on Windows, Firefox or Safari.

These 5 Emergency Gadgets Can Save Your Life – Whether it’s a tornado, blizzard or earthquake, these five life-saving gadgets can help you survive the toughest of conditions:

How to get rid of Firefox’s new ads on the New Tab page – As promised, ads have finally hit Firefox’s New Tab page. Here’s how to make them go away.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Action Video Games Make You Smarter – According to a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, playing action titles can improve not only those skills taught in the game, but also general learning capabilities. “Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners,” Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, said in a statement.

Android 5.0 video user guide – Android 5.0 Lollipop is still just beginning to debut on Android devices, but there’s a lot for you to look forward to as OEMs get other devices up to date. The UI is completely different, and there are new features in every nook and cranny. Let’s try to make sense of it all.

Controversial Suicide-Prevention App Pulled After Backlash – For those unaware, Samaritans Radar allowed someone to sign up using their Twitter account, and Samaritans Radar would monitor the tweets of the people that person followed. If it noticed a particular pattern of phrases that might suggest the person was otherwise depressed or suicidal, it would email a link to the account holder and suggest that he or she contact their friend and help them out.

This Is the Best Cheap Wi-Fi Router You Can Buy – If I wanted the cheapest good Wi-Fi router I could get, I would buy the TP-Link TL-WDR3600. It’s a wireless-N router that costs $60 but outperforms some routers that cost twice as much. It took more than 150 hours of research and testing to find our pick. Of the 29 routers we looked at and the seven we tested, the TL-WDR3600 had the best performance for the lowest price.


TP-Link TL-WDR3600

How to encrypt sensitive data? Put it in an encrypted container – We all have files that we’d rather not share with hackers and thieves (and maybe even our spouses). Here’s how to put them in a place where no one else can open them.

Winning with Mobile (Infographic) – Mobility brings tremendous opportunities for companies today, both in increased productivity and new business, but an unmanaged deployment invites risk and creates a potential for data loss.


Partial graphic shown.

Yosemite upgrade stops Macs with aftermarket SSDs from booting – There’s a new security feature in OS X Yosemite that could render your computer unbootable. If you’ve been using an SSD with Trim support enabled, proceed with caution. Turning on Trim is a great way to extend the life of SSDs and keep them performing at the peak of their abilities. OS X, however, only supports Trim on Apple-supplied SSDs. If you upgraded the drive at some point, you couldn’t simply switch on Trim and go about your business as usual. Apple’s drivers won’t allow it.

Testers protest abrupt changes in Windows 10’s OneDrive sync – The latest preview release for Windows 10 is getting a thumbs-down from one group of testers angry that Microsoft changed a fundamental feature of the OneDrive sync client. Here’s what they’re unhappy about and how Microsoft has responded so far.

Flickr Wall Art printing service launches worldwide – Just over a month after a limited launch, photo hosting & sharing service Flickr has updated its new Wall Art printing service to accept orders from anywhere around the globe. A premium well beyond regular printing, the options allow users to have photos either printed on gallery-style canvas or be wood-mounted, each available in a number of sizes.


Apple Pay proves hugely popular at McDonald’s, Walgreens – Having been available to iPhone 6 users for just short of a month now, Apple Pay has proven to be very popular among customers, and accounting for a rapidly growing number of transactions at participating retailers. Apple itself has said little on numbers of payments made, with CEO Tim Cook only commenting that 1 million activations took place in the first 72 hours, but a report from the New York Times reveals some concrete info about Apple’s mobile payment service.

Family-friendly Kindle updates include Family Library sharing, Word Wise definitions – Just ahead of the holiday sales rush, the Kindle’s new features promote learning and togetherness. Amazon also expanded the X-ray feature on the e-readers.

Volvo gives Google Cardboard new life, uses it to preview new cars – Remember Google Cardboard? It’s a Google project that uses a small cardboard contraption to effectively turn your smartphone into a basic VR headset. It’s been sort of forgotten, but Volvo is putting it to good use to preview its new XC90 SUV. Volvo’s XC90 preview—which the auto maker claims is “the first virtual reality test drive on your phone”—works in conjunction with a free smartphone app, which is available now for Android, and will arrive in the iOS App Store on November 18th. Volvo designed the app with a Google Cardboard viewer in mind, but says that you don’t need the viewer in order to use the app.


Anonymous seizes Ku Klux Klan Twitter account over Ferguson threats – Summary: After racial hate group Ku Klux Klan said it would use ‘lethal force’ on Ferguson protesters, a skirmish with Anonymous erupted: Anonymous has now seized two primary KKK Twitter accounts.


7 Troubling Security Breaches And How They Happened – Through third-party apps, big business email scams, and even the cloud itself, information has been chronically compromised. Private information, from the infamous celebrity photo leak, to personal data of regular folks has flooded into the open, sending the public into a privacy panic – and it doesn’t look like the hacks are going to stop. Here are some of the major big privacy breaches of 2013 and 2014, and how they happened.

AT&T stops using undeletable phone tracking IDs – Verizon says its tracking is still ongoing, with no immediate plans to stop – AT&T says it has stopped its controversial practice of adding a hidden, undeletable tracking number to its mobile customers’ Internet activity. The move comes after AT&T and Verizon received a slew of critical news coverage for inserting tracking numbers into their subscribers’ Internet activity, even after users opted out. Last month, ProPublica reported that Twitter’s mobile advertising unit was enabling its clients to use the Verizon identifier. The tracking numbers can be used by sites to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices, including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long. AT&T said it used the tracking numbers as part of a test, which it has now completed.

How Apple Pay helped me catch a fraudulent credit-card charge – After setting up the service weeks ago, I promptly forgot about it. Then this happened.

For a year, gang operating rogue Tor node infected Windows executables – Three weeks ago, a security researcher uncovered a Tor exit node that added malware to uncompressed Windows executables passing through it. Officials with the privacy service promptly shut down the Russia-based node, but according to new research, the group behind the node had likely been infecting files for more than a year by that time, causing careless users to install a backdoor that gave attackers full control of their systems. What’s more, according to a blog post published Friday by researchers from antivirus provider F-Secure, the rogue exit node was tied to the “MiniDuke” gang, which previously infected government agencies and organizations in 23 countries with highly advanced malware that uses low-level code to stay hidden.


A flowchart of the infection process used by a malicious Tor exit node.

Reports: State Department admits intrusion into unclassified email – The U.S. State Department’s unclassified email system was taken offline over the weekend for security improvements, a scheduled event, but officials conceded suspicious activity had been previously detected, according to media reports. A department official said “activity of concern” was discovered around the same time the White House’s network was attacked in late October, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the incident.

Report: FTC Asks Apple How it Protects Health Data – Now that Apple has released its iOS 8 Health app, offering a single place where you can store all your health information, the big question is — how is the company protecting all that very sensitive information? It’s a question that the Federal Trade Commission is apparently looking into. According to a report from Reuters, the consumer protection agency is “seeking assurances” from Apple that it will safeguard the sensitive health data collected by its mobile devices and upcoming smartwatch.

Suspected WireLurker malware creators arrested in China – Beijing police have arrested three people suspected of developing the “WireLurker” malware that may have infected as many as hundreds of thousands of Apple users. Local authorities arrested the three suspects on a tip from Chinese security company Qihoo 360 Technology, the Beijing police’s Internet security team said Friday.

Company News:

Microsoft overtakes oil giant Exxon as 2nd largest traded company – After a $47 billion loss in market value, Exxon Mobil has lost its coveted second place spot in market capitalization to none other than technology kingpin Microsoft. Market capitalization is the metric by which companies are traditionally defined on the stock market – the total value of all a publicly traded company’s outstanding shares, calculated using share price and number of shares. By market capitalization, Microsoft figures at around $409 billion, while Exxon Mobil dipped to around $401 billion.

Apple adds China UnionPay to its list of partners – Continuing its courtship of the Chinese market, Apple has just announced that its App Store has just added UnionPay as a payment option in the region. Being the only domestic bank card network in China, UnionPay’s presence will make it much easier for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users to get their app fix, no matter their actual credit card. This also makes it easier for them to get hooked into the app-buying fever, which could very well boost China’s position as Apple’s second largest app consumer.

Facebook internally working on “Facebook at Work” – According to the Financial Times, Facebook at Work will have similar features as the normal social network that includes news feed, messaging and groups. Additionally, it will have separate work profiles, privacy settings and document sharing in order to enable collaboration in work places. Facebook is currently working on reducing promotional content in news feeds for regular users but the current pilot program of Facebook at Work in London is completely free from advertising. Of course, this could change once the product rolls out as advertising is the key source of revenue for Facebook.

IBM, Nvidia to Build Huge Supercomputers for U.S. Labs – Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge will use the machines to help sort through massive amounts of data.

Facebook looking to cut down on promotional posts in 2015 – Facebook is apparently looking to cut down on promotional posts after a shocking survey found that many users would prefer to see more of their friends’ posts instead of ads.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty is Back: Now What? – I’ve completed the campaign, I’ve played online, and I’ve shot just about every weapon the game has to offer. And I can say unequivocally that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brings the franchise back to a place of prominence and esteem it lost in recent years. For everyone who left the Call of Duty franchise over the awfulness that was Ghosts, Advanced Warfare has atoned for those sins and then some.


A Gift Guide For The Core Gamer Who Wants It All – Do you like games? Do you also like playing them, regardless of surroundings, access to power, Wi-Fi or a clean water supply? We’ve got you covered, with a list of must-haves for those who’d rather play in virtual worlds than exist outside them. Strap in and prepare your hands with ample stretching, because what follows will arm you for hours of game time, both on-the-go, and at home, in all the resolutions and on all the things.


iPhone game entirely made of emoji released by 19 year old student – We can look back at the tremendously popular iOS game Flappy Bird and instantly see how simply designed it is; one-touch controls paired with colorful, blocky sprites. Well, a 19 year old Russian student may have just taken the simple design factor to a new level, with his game Emoji Cosmos made of nothing but emoji.


How to Avoid Sucking at ‘Super Smash Bros’ – For the next several months, as new iterations take over both the 3DS and Wii U, Super Smash Bros. is likely to become the reason your social life shifts from a bar stool to a sofa. Here’s how not to embarrass yourself in the process.


Black Friday deals: Xbox One Master Chief Collection bundle for $299 at Walmart – Walmart is offering some tremendous Black Friday deals this year, including the Xbox One Master Chief Collection bundle for only $329 (plus a $30 gift card) and the Xbox 360 4GB for $99.

Alien: Isolation review: The best, most terrifying Alien experience in nearly 30 years – Alien: Isolation has its issues, but by-and-large it’s the best stealth game of the year and a stunning tribute to Ridley Scott’s universe.


You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley — star of the Alien films.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Startup tests robot security guards at Microsoft campus – A California based startup has developed robot security guards which could soon be used widely, and four of them were recently seen surveilling Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View.


As Developers Depart, Google Glass Is Ready To Become This Era’s Segway – Just over 18 months ago Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said he found having to talk to Google Glass out loud “the weirdest thing” and admitted that there would be “places where Google Glass are inappropriate.” Well, hello! I think the average person could have told Google this long before they spent millions developing the thing, and as I wrote at the time, the product was simply incapable of becoming a mass-market device. I predicted it would become this era’s Segway: hyped as a game changer but ultimately used by warehouse workers and mall cops. Indeed, Glass might well be our surveillance era’s perfect pairing. Now Reuters has uncovered clear evidence that app developers are dropping the device.

Google works with Australia’s biggest carrier to test Project Loon balloons – Project Loon, Google’s ambitious plan to bring internet to the entire world by way of a network of high-altitude balloons, is preparing to launch a series of test flights in Australia. The tests will see 20 balloons launched across western Queensland, and will be the first to be conducted in the country when they begin in December. They’ll also mark the first time Google has partnered with a wireless carrier to beam internet to the ground below — the flights are being run in partnership with Australia’s largest telecoms company, Telstra.


War, beheadings, and booze: a brief history of tailgating – According to the American Tailgaters Association, the first occurrence of tailgating occurred in mid-summer of 1861—a full eight years before the first football game—in Manassas, Virginia, before Confederate forces and Union soldiers met in the First Battle of Bull Run on—you guessed it—a Sunday. The story goes that civilians arrived at the battlefield in wagons loaded with wines, whiskeys, and food. Spoiler alert: the blue team retreated, but came back to win the war. So tailgating is an American pastime, shrouded in red, white, and blue, right? Maybe not.


Presumably the Mayor of San Francisco. Photo by Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Man injects Bitcoin wallet NFC chips into his hands – Chalk this one up to sounding both a little crazy and a little brilliant. 10 days ago, a Dutch man had a NFC chip implanted into each of his hands to serve as storage for the encrypted key to his Bitcoin cold storage. Keeping one’s Bitcoins offline, and in this case in the body, makes it harder for them to be hacked and stolen, but Martijn Wismeijer is already thinking ahead for other uses for his chipped hands.

wps6559.tmp owner indicted for training customers to beat the polygraph – A former Oklahoma City police officer was indicted Thursday on accusations of teaching people to cheat on lie detector tests, the government announced Friday. The 69-year-old Norman, Oklahoma, man is the owner of and charged customers thousands of dollars for instructions on how to beat lie detector tests administered for federal employment suitability assessments, federal security background investigations, and internal federal agency investigations, court documents show.

Darknet shopping bot may be brilliant, illegal, or both – Called the Random Darknet Shopper, this simple program has access to exactly $100 worth of Bitcoins each week, and is authorized to use that currency to make randomized purchases from Agora Marketplace. Agora is one of the leading dark markets, especially after the FBI’s recent bust of the Silk Road 2, and it hosts a wide variety of content. Sure, users can buy drugs (lots of different ones!) but they can also purchase counterfeit credit cards, spy-like recording equipment, cigarettes, lock picking tools, or the services of a professional hacker. The shopper-bot makes purchases within its means, and has all items shipped to the artist’s studio space, where it is immediately put on display.


Census: Most U.S. Homes Have a PC and Internet, But Gaps Remain – Not surprisingly, a majority of U.S. households own a computer. But according to recent Census Bureau data, there remains a huge divide across the country. Perhaps the greatest discrepancy, however, is the geographic deviations. Last year, 25 states had rates of computer ownership above the national average; 17 of them are located in the west or northeast. Of the 20 states with low rates, meanwhile, half were located in the south.

Something to think about:

“Leave it to a girl to take the fun out of sex discrimination.”

–     Bill Watterson, Calvin in “Calvin and Hobbes”

Today’s Free Downloads:

VeraCrypt – VeraCrypt is a free disk encryption software brought to you by IDRIX ( and that is based on TrueCrypt.

VeraCrypt adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption making it immune to new developments in brute-force attacks.

VeraCrypt also solves many vulnerabilities and security issues found in TrueCrypt. The following post describes parts of the major enhancements and corrections done so far:

As an example, when the system partition is encrypted, TrueCrypt uses PBKDF2-RIPEMD160 with 1000 iterations whereas in VeraCrypt we use 327661. And for standard containers and other partitions, TrueCrypt uses at most 2000 iterations but VeraCrypt uses 655331 for RIPEMD160 and 500000 iterations for SHA-2 and Whirlpool.

This enhanced security adds some delay only to the opening of encrypted partitions without any performance impact to the application use phase. This is acceptable to the legitimate owner but it makes it much more harder for an attacker to gain access to the encrypted data.

VeraCrypt storage format is INCOMPATIBLE with TrueCrypt storage format.


Pointing up     TrueCrypt users will certainly recognize this GUI.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Is the Government’s Aerial Smartphone Surveillance Program Legal? – Civil rights groups are raising serious constitutional questions about the Justice Department’s use of dragnet technology onboard aircraft to collect data from suspects’ cell phones, as reported by the Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The program, run by the U.S. Marshals Service, uses small aircraft equipped with high-tech devices that mimic cell towers, tricking suspects’ cell phones into connecting with them instead of legitimate towers. The devices, called dirtboxes, can then grab certain data from the tricked phones, most notably their location. The aircraft involved operate from five U.S. metropolitan areas and have together a flying range covering most of the country’s population, the Journal reported.

The program is designed to target suspects in law enforcement investigations. However, the nature of the technology means that devices in a certain range of the aircraft are fooled into connecting to the dirtbox, potentially giving law enforcement access to identifying data and general location information about hundreds or thousands of innocent Americans with each flight. Because that access comes without probable cause, civil liberties groups say, the program could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The German startups hoping to ease the privacy worries of the ‘healthy paranoid’ – If you’re looking for a VPN product, chances are you’ve heard of ZenMate, which provides VPN and web traffic encryption through easy-to-use browser plugins and mobile apps.

On a recent afternoon in ZenMate’s Berlin offices, Simon Specka, one of the company’s co-founders, explained what led ZenMate to create its privacy products. Even though various VPNs and encryption solutions have existed for some time, ZenMate’s founders saw they weren’t really being adopted by the mass market.

“We thought that one of the key reasons is that security or privacy tools are still too complicated,” said Specka.

“So we thought that by making very complex technologies accessible and comfortable for users on the mass market, this is something we could do.”


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

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.


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.


$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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Partial listing shown.

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.


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 14, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 13, 2014

Pew Privacy Study Finds Huge Concern About Control Of Personal Data Online;  It’s a Dangerous World Out There for a Phone;  The 50 Absolute Best iPad Apps;  Which mobile productivity suite is right for you?  Verizon Offering Pre-Black Friday Freebies (for Everyone);  Adobe fixes 18 critical vulnerabilities in Flash Player;  Microsoft has a new free version of Visual Studio;  Windows 10 enterprise ISO of build 9879 now available;  Fire HD 6 Kids Edition Review;  6 killer video-streaming apps for low-effort TV watching;  Free games alert: Witcher 2, Mount & Blade giveaways;  Swig: The new Facebook for drinkers (all drinkers);  Virus discovered that makes you dumber;  Who will save Europe’s privacy from the NSA? Oh God … it’s Google;  Why Amazon Echo is the future of every home.

Pew Privacy Study Finds Huge Concern About Control Of Personal Data Online – The Pew Research Center has published a new study into Americans’ attitudes to privacy in the digital age. The wide-ranging survey, called Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era, includes plenty of interesting tidbits but one stat that really stands out is how overwhelmingly U.S. consumers believe they have lost control over their personal data, owing to a perception that online companies are doing what they like with harvested personal info.


It’s a Dangerous World Out There for a Phone – Your phone is the most personal device you own. Here’s how to choose the right mobile security software to keep it protected from malware and other threats.

The 50 Absolute Best iPad Apps – TIME’s list of essential software every iPad owner should download.

Working on the go: Which mobile productivity suite is right for you? – This year, both Microsoft and Google completely overhauled their mobile apps for Office and Drive, while Apple updated its iWork suite too, making small improvements here and there. All three services have three apps; one for documents, one for spreadsheets and one for slideshow presentations. The apps are cross-platform, meaning you can use them to create and edit files on multiple devices. With so many similarities between these services, how do you pick the one for you? Let this article be your guide.

Android Lollipop over-the-air update, factory images now available for Nexus 5, 7, 9, and 10 – The staggered rollout might take a few days to reach your device—if you just can’t wait, head over to Google’s Factory Images page to download and install it yourself. You’ll need the developer tools to do so, and the procedure is the same as it was for the Developer Preview released this summer, with just a few obvious file name changes (follow our guide).

Netflix iOS app brings high-res video to iPhone 6 Plus – The movie and TV-show service is now streaming programs to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus at 1,080 pixels, to take advantage of the gadget’s big screen.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Verizon Offering Pre-Black Friday Freebies (for Everyone) – Traveling on Thanksgiving Eve this year? Verizon wants to make your journey a little more entertaining. The nation’s largest wireless carrier just announced that it will be giving away loads of free goodies — including movies, Wi-Fi, audio books, and streaming music — on Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 26), one of the busiest travel days of the year. The best part? You don’t even need to be a Verizon customer to get the deals.

Walmart Black Friday Ad: Tech Deals Abound – Black Friday isn’t just a one-day event these days. At Walmart, the deals this year will continue for five days. The big-box retailer on Wednesday announced its plans for the so-called Super Bowl of retail, including deals on HDTVs, iPads, game consoles, Beats headphones, smartphones, laptops, and more. The sales kick off Thanksgiving morning on Walmart’s website and in stores at 6 p.m. that evening. The deals will run through Monday.

FreedomPop Adds International Calls To Its Free Mobile Service – FreedomPop — the U.S. startup disrupting the carrier world with free mobile and broadband services, and now apparently catching the attention of carriers that want to buy it — has added two more international features to its product that puts it up against the likes of Skype in the world of low-cost calls. It will now let users of its phone service, as well as any mobile user who has downloaded the latest FreedomPop Android or iOS app, make free international phone calls; and it will also let people buy local numbers in other countries.

Quirky tries making the smart home less scary with cheap, unbundled devices – Quirky is trying to remove some psychological barriers to home automation, adding new devices with a low up-front cost. The new lineup under Quirky’s Wink brand include a $40-and-up multi-purpose sensor, a $50 connected wall outlet and an $80 thermostat, and they all place nicely together using a $50 hub. It’s a major expansion for a platform that been relying heavily on third-party devices such as the Nest thermostat and Schlage locksets. Here’s a rundown of the new devices.


Quirky’s Spotter UNIQ comes with a choice of up to four sensors for things like ambient lighting and motion.

Microsoft has a new free version of Visual Studio, now available for download – Visual Studio Community 2013 is the latest addition to the Visual Studio family for Microsoft. This community edition is a free, full-featured development environment designed for students, open source contributors, small companies, startups and individual developers. This edition includes all the features needed to create non-enterprise applications across desktop, devices, cloud, web and services, including coding productivity features, cross-platform mobile development tools for Windows, iOS and Android, and full extensibility with access to thousands of extensions. In short, this is the perfect application to get you started in the world of development or to use to create your next big app.

Xamarin integrates with free Visual Studio Community to let developers build Android, iOS apps – The development tool combo will be available in the coming weeks.

Facebook releases ‘Say Thanks’ video creation tool in time for Thanksgiving – Facebook found a surprising amount of success earlier this year when it let its users generate “Look Back” videos of their time on Facebook, and it’s now rolling out a new video generator in time for Thanksgiving. The new tool is called Say Thanks, and it lets Facebook’s users put together a video filled with photos and other posts between them and a friend. There are a number of different themes to choose from, though it doesn’t sound like customization will extent far beyond choosing that and what photos appear.


YouTube announces Music Key subscription service beta, offers six months free – After months of rumors and speculation, YouTube has finally announced its subscription service, Music Key beta, and for a limited time, the service will be available for $7.99 a month.


What’s new in Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 – Microsoft released a third Technical Preview of Windows 10 last night that includes many changes and updates based on feedback from the Windows Insider Program, and we have a compiled list.

Windows 10 enterprise ISO of build 9879 now available – Microsoft has released the enterprise ISO’s of Windows 10 build 9879 and you can download them after the jump, provided you fill out a simply form before downloading.

Fire HD 6 Kids Edition Review: Christmas Morning – It’s Christmas morning. Your child woke you up with an ear-piercing scream of excitement – Santa has come. Once your child sees the present you’ve wrapped in special paper – next to the Santa gifts, of course – they snatch it up. They realize it might just be socks. They open it. It’s the Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition. They go wild. Then it’s your turn. Your task is opening the box and setting the tablet up so that they might play the whole day long. How difficult (or incredibly easy) is this going to be, you might ask?

wps7F37.tmp brings the IoT to everyone with tiny board – The DIY aficionado has a new toy: the Spark Photon. Today, Spark is releasing their Photon board, which has the ability to add WiFi to just about any device you’d like. About the size of a postage stamp, the Photon is designed more for prototype devices, or the aforementioned tinkerer. While Photon is the board for your WiFi endeavors, Spark is also introducing the P0 and P1 modules, which are what actually go into your end product. The pricing for each is pretty special, too. If you’re ready to start tinkering, the Spark Photon is $19, and the P0 and P1 are $10 and $12, respectively. All can be found via Spark’s website (source link below).


Twitter may copy Facebook, make features into apps – Some like to poke fun at Facebook for making several impressions on our devices. We’ve got Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Paper (for iPhone users, at least), WhatsApp — it’s a lot. At their “Analyst Day” soiree, Twitter is teasing that they may do just the same. Executives at Twitter told analysts they were working on improving their direct messaging service, and were very high “applications that can live outside of Twitter”. The microblogging platform may also get a “best of” feature to show you what cool things you might have missed, and will get some interesting video features.

Swig: The new Facebook for drinkers (all drinkers) – The new app insists it’s the one and only virtual meeting place for drinkers of all tastes. Think of it as the ultimate virtual bar.


OpenSUSE 13.2 supercharged with smoother setup, system snapshots, Btrfs, and more – OpenSUSE 13.2 was released a week ago. As with the recent Fedora update, the latest release of openSUSE took a year to develop instead of the standard six months as the organization retooled its development practices. SUSE Linux has now been around for over 20 years, and it’s still going strong. As usual, the latest release serves as a foundation for developing Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise and brings some significant new improvements. So let’s dive right in!

6 killer video-streaming apps for low-effort TV watching – Sure, over-the-air broadcasts will give you a steady stream of things to watch, but they’re not much help when you want a break from network TV. If you’ve got a Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV or other streaming device, then you already have access to some great lean-back TV apps. So check out the following if you want to watch streaming TV with minimal effort:

Is now the time to buy a 4K TV? – Now that TVs with 4K resolution have fallen to mainstream prices, you might be wondering whether it’s worth the extra cash to invest in extra pixels over 1080p. Here’s what you need to know.


Adobe fixes 18 critical vulnerabilities in Flash Player – Adobe Systems released critical security updates Tuesday for Flash Player to address 18 vulnerabilities, many of which can be remotely exploited to compromise underlying systems. Fifteen of the patched vulnerabilities can result in arbitrary code execution, one can be exploited to disclose session tokens and two allow attackers to escalate their privileges from the low to medium integrity level, Adobe said in a security advisory. The company advises Windows and Mac users to update to the newly released Flash Player version Linux users should update to Flash Player

Microsoft fixes severe 19-year-old Windows bug found in everything since Windows 95 – With help from IBM, Microsoft has patched a critical Windows vulnerability that flew under the radar for nearly two decades. The bug has existed in every version of Windows since Windows 95, and would have allowed an attacker to run code remotely when the user visits a malicious website. IBM researcher Robert Freeman described the vulnerability as “rare, ‘unicorn-like’ bug found in code that IE relies on but doesn’t necessarily belong to.”


This $50 device lets you kick people off wireless networks – Worried that your wireless network may be playing host to unwanted surveillance devices or visitors? Just plug in the Cyborg Unplug and give ‘em the boot. The Unplug is the brainchild of Julian Oliver, who created quite a stir with a script he wrote called Yep, it was written to kick Google Glass users from WiFi networks using ARP scanning, spoofed MAC addresses, and de-auth packets. Unplug takes things a step further. It’s capable of booting any device from any WiFi network using the same technique. You’ve got to enable “All Out Mode” for that to happen, but the capability is there.


Target, Home Depot and UPS attacks: Dude, you need to rethink point-of-sale security – A new report on point-of-sale malware presents the most detailed examination of the malicious code behind high-profile attacks against US retailers to date. Cyphort Labs’ in-depth look focuses on Target, Home Depot and UPS breaches and involved an analysis of BlackPOS, FrameworkPOS and Backoff malware samples. The researchers concluded that the attackers had acquired a good understanding of their targets, and that defences need fundamental rethink.

How the FBI Took Down Silk Road 2.0 and 400 Other Dark Web Sites – By now, virtually anyone on the Internet should have heard that law enforcement agencies around the world in a concerted effort have taken down over 400 website pages belonging to around 27 services suspected of providing illicit services on November 5 and 6. What no one seems to be able to confirm is how these agencies gained control of these Tor hidden services. There is now rampant speculation of FBI’s new Tor-breaking technology and widespread compromise of the Tor network.

US weather agency confirms cyberattack – Four websites run by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been compromised in recent weeks, the agency said on Wednesday. Chinese hackers were suspected in the attack, according to a Washington Post story, but a NOAA spokesman declined to talk about the source of the attack. The announcement from NOAA comes just days after the U.S. Postal Service announced a breach that potentially compromised the personal information of 800,000 employees, as well as some customers who contacted the government service. Chinese hackers were also suspected in the Postal Service attack.

Snapchat starts actively warning users that third-party apps aren’t safe – Some developers build services that trick users of Snapchat and compromise their accounts, the company said.

Company News:

Unhappy Yahoo investors urge merger with AOL – Some investors are less than pleased with the turnaround plan of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and want AOL CEO Tim Armstrong to consider a merger, says Reuters.

Investors Fav Twitter’s Instant Timeline Onboarding And Retention Fix, Shares Soar 7% – Wall Street wants more Twitter users, so when the company revealed a powerful way to gain and keep them on its analyst call, investors boosted its   share price 7.53% up to $42.57. An upcoming feature called Instant Timeline will equip new users with a feed full of high-quality content upon signup, proving Twitter’s worth until users can voluntarily follow the right accounts.

NVIDIA responds to Samsung’s “false advertising” claim – It is a well known legal tactic, especially between companies, for one to fight back a lawsuit with a countersuit. So when NVIDIA sued Samsung and Qualcomm last September, in what it claims to be the first patent suit it has ever filed, it fully expected Samsung to hit back with a suit of its own, which it did this week. But what it didn’t expect was for Samsung, in the same lawsuit, to accuse NVIDIA of falsely advertising its Tekgra K1 as “the world’s fastest mobile processor”.

Google Is Driving A Bus Across Bangladesh To Help 500,000 Students Learn About The Internet – Google is literally hitting the road to promote the potential of the internet in Bangladesh. The company today launched ‘Google Bus Bangladesh’, an educational program aimed at teaching key digital skills to more than half a million students in the South Asian country.


Microsoft: Xbox One nearing ten million shipments worldwide – Since Microsoft lowered the asking price for Xbox One bundles to $349 on Nov. 2, the company says console sales have “more than tripled” week over week in the US. Such a sudden sales spike in the biggest market for game consoles in the world can go a long way to pushing worldwide shipment numbers higher, even though the spike is still relatively recent.

LG records its highest-ever market share in North America – LG Electronics posted its highest market share ever in North America in Q3, thanks to the performance of its newest flagship phone, the G3.

Games and Entertainment:

Free games alert: Witcher 2, Mount & Blade giveaways kick off’s fall games sale – The site’s Fall Games Sale launched this morning, with a bevy of pretty fantastic deals—chief among them free copies of both medieval warfare sim Mount & Blade and the supremely excellent RPG The Witcher 2. There are caveats, of course. You can snag Mount & Blade immediately by going to the main page and looking for the subsection marked “Free Game: A Special Gift for Everyone.” That deal’s only on offer for the next 48 hours though, so be sure to grab it soon.


Sony Is Launching Its Own Internet TV Service, PlayStation Vue, In Early 2015 – Sony is the latest contender to enter the content streaming game after it announced plans to launch PlayStation Vue, a cloud-based service that includes programming from 75 channels, for owners of its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles next year.


Final Fantasy XIII-2 for PC pre-orders begin, coming Dec. 11 – As promised, Square Enix is bringing the thirteenth, at least by number only, installment of the venerable Final Fantasy Franchise to PC gamers. It has done so for Final Fantasy XIII and now it is announcing when its sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, will land. It’s still a good few weeks before the December 11 date arrives, but those who will pre-order the game will be treated to a discount for being an early bird. Even those who bought the first game have something in store for them as well.


The beautiful ‘Monument Valley’ just got even bigger – The expansion adds eight new chapters, nearly doubling the length of the game, and the variety on display is pretty incredible. Some stages are expansive and sprawling in comparison to the original game, taking place across multiple screens, while others are tight, adorable dioramas that you’ll just want to stare at. It’s not just eye candy though: “Forgotten Shores” introduces new game mechanics, like structures that literally twist, and some clever level design that makes it feel fresh and distinct. The penultimate chapter might just the best video game level I’ve played all year.


Breaking the lock: Why all game content should be unlocked from the outset – It’s past time developers stop restricting when and how we play their games. It doesn’t have to be this way, as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and its immediate unlocks show. Original campaigns aren’t going anywhere, and we’re not about to start skipping content by default. But there’s no reason to prevent players from deciding how and when they can access whatever content is in a game—from levels and items to weapons and costumes—at the moment they first launch it.


Gigabyte’s Waterforce triple GTX 980 graphics card kit needs its own radiator case – What Gigabyte has done is to bundle 3 watercooled, pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 980 graphics cards with an external radiator for cooling. So big is the radiator that it has its own case that sits on top of your PC case. You’ll also lose your top 5.25-inch drive bay because the water pipes need to exit the case and feed into the radiator block.


Assassin’s Creed Unity issues: Ubisoft blames AMD – It’s not been a great couple of days for Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed Unity was put on sale a full 12 hours before the review embargo was lifted, reviews were less than positive, and there’ve been several reports of graphics glitches in-game for both the console (PS4, Xbox One), and PC versions of the game. Today Ubisoft has responded to a couple of complaints, suggesting in one case that “graphics performance” could be “adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations.” Ubisoft appears to be suggesting this performance hit is only present on PCs, not necessarily Xbox One or PS4.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Virus discovered that makes you dumber – A person’s gut “microbiome” is better at identifying them than their fingerprint, and you’ve probably heard that there are more bacterial cells in your body than human ones — more by quite a margin — but the sheer numbers are less affecting than how powerfully they can affect our behavior. Everything from indigestion to your level of energy can be dictated by the gut microbes without whom you would quickly die, and new evidence has implicated them in yet another aspect of life: intelligence.

Windows 8: Why Microsoft’s giant gamble didn’t pay off – Summary: Windows 8 was designed to bridge the gap between tablets and PCs, but left customers cold. What does this mean for Microsoft and for Windows 10?

Pointing up    Excellent analysis.

The Man Who Photographs Plane Wrecks – Dietmar Eckell has been snapping photos of plane wrecks for years. He began as a hobbyist who framed landscapes with ruins like disused train tracks, cars, and buildings. Then came a point in his life where he began working less at his job and more at photography, which culminated in him crashing a paraglider while taking aerial shots. He only broke a leg, but it gave him a lightbulb moment: What happens to crashed planes? Not the ones that kill people, but the ones ending in stories of wilderness survival. He did some research and found that there are dozens of remote crash sites around the world. So in 2010, he quit his job and set out to photograph zero-fatality plane wrecks for his series Happy End. He’s just returned from a week in the Australian bush, so I caught up with him to talk about what he’d found and what it all means.


African Donors – Using the data on donations for Ebola-stricken countries from the Financial Tracking Service, Silk took at a look at the donations coming from Africa (governments, foundations and corporations).

Why Amazon Echo is the future of every home – Don’t laugh at or ignore Amazon’s new home virtual assistant appliance. Devices like this will soon be as common as toasters.


Internet goes ad-free for an hour as Google ad server fails – A Google ad server went down Wednesday morning, leaving many websites without advertising. Sites like Computerworld and were affected. “DoubleClick for Publishers experienced an outage this morning impacting publishers globally, across their video, display, native and mobile formats,” Google said in an email to Comuterworld. “Our team has worked quickly to fix the software bug and [DoubleClick for Publishers] is now back up and running, so our publisher partners can return to funding their content.” Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said the outage likely cost companies across the world millions of dollars.

Former Apple CEO Sculley’s Revenge: A $25 Phone – Many blame Apple’s 90s doldrums on former CEO John Sculley. But his new smartphone company will get the last laugh.

Something to think about:

“If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency.”

–     Sir Joshua Reynolds    (1723 – 1792)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Predator – PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened.

It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

you insert the USB drive

you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)

you do your work…

when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:

– once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens

when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:

– keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

Limitations: PREDATOR Free Edition is for private, non-commercial use only.


BirdFont – BirdFont is a free font editor that lets you create vector graphics and export TTF, EOT & SVG fonts.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

California cities, counties have spent $65M on spy tech in past decade – New research from two American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates definitively shows local law enforcement surveillance technology spreading throughout California—with hardly any public oversight.

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLUNC) and the ACLU of California (ACLUCA) reported Wednesday that California’s 58 counties and its 60 largest cities have collectively spent over $65 million on such technology over the last decade. Often, the money comes through federally funded grants or outside foundation money that city councils and county boards of supervisors are all too ready to accept.

“We found evidence of public debate related to surveillance technology adoption less than 15 percent of the time,” the ACLUCA told Ars in a statement by e-mail. “None of the 52 communities with two or more surveillance technologies publicly debated every technology. We found a publicly-available use policy for fewer than one in five surveillance technologies.”

In conjunction with its research, the ACLUCA also published model legislation that it hopes to spread throughout the Golden State at both the local and state level. The proposed legislation aims to impose “legally enforceable safeguards be in place to protect civil liberties and civil rights before any surveillance technology is deployed.”

Who will save Europe’s privacy from the NSA? Oh God … it’s Google – A Google lawyer says Europeans spied on by the NSA should get the same rights as Americans – such as the right to sue the US government for privacy invasions.

David Drummond, chief legal officer for the information-harvesting monster (Google), published a blog post on Wednesday titled “It’s time to extend the US Privacy Act to EU citizens.”

The European Commission has been calling for such a move ever since ex-NSA techie Edward Snowden blew the lid off Uncle Sam’s global internet spying last year. New Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is in Washington this week to try to negotiate such a deal.

According to Drummond, who was in Brussels last week as part of Google’s “right to be forgotten” roadshow, there is an “urgent need for surveillance reform” to repair severely damaged relations between the US and Europe.

FBI defends “ruse” of undercover agents posing as hotel cable guys – The Justice Department says it’s perfectly legal for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to cut Internet access of hotel rooms, pose as repairmen, and gather evidence of illegal activity—without a court warrant.

The government said in a court filing late Monday that the Caesars Palace occupants—who called the hotel desk to fix the problem—invited the undercover agents into their Las Vegas rooms, which is enough consent where a warrant is not needed.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 13, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 12, 2014

Automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser;  11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed;  Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App;  Explore space with these 14 apps;  Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you?  The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week;  How to set up Google Wallet;  Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175;  Ocho app released: a tiny video social network;  10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love;  Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress;  Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you;  Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days?  Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy;  Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues;  Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks;  Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of 302 portable apps (free).

How to automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser – Firefox’s new Forget button is great for infrequent cookie flushing, but if you want to erase cookies on a more frequent basis here’s how to do it in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Comcast Just Trolled Us All on Net Neutrality – Comcast says it agrees with President Obama on net neutrality. It doesn’t. It’s an attention-grabbing headline from Comcast, a company that net neutrality advocates are making out to be among the most nefarious of the bad guys in the ongoing open Internet debate. Right off the bat, it looks like Comcast is agreeing with President Obama, who on Monday unexpectedly came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility. That’s a move big telecoms like Comcast should hate, because it would give the Federal government more authority to regulate their business. So what’s the deal? It turns out Comcast’s post is just clickbait.

Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App – The daily deals service just launched a new travel discovery app offering easy access to more than 25,000 deals in destinations around the world. Dubbed Groupon Getaways, the app lets you browse deals by theme (beach getaways, outdoor adventures, ski destinations, air included) or search for specific locations by zooming in and out on a map.

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

Explore space with these 14 apps – The universe is pretty amazing, and your smartphone or tablet is a great tool to see it from Earth. Here are 14 apps that will teach you about space.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Are you snap happy? Then you probably have Instagram on your phone. The supersocial photo-sharing app has 200 million monthly active users, but there’s a lot more to the service than just selecting a filter. Whether you’ve just started gramming or are far along, PCMag has rounded up a few tips that could make your photos stand out and garner you acclaim—well, at least a like or two more than you might have gotten before.

Here comes the new Office: Microsoft melds applications to present data in flexible, shareable ways – Delve, Sway, Revolve: For those who don’t follow Microsoft’s products closely, the words might sound like instructions for a nerdy line dance. But like the mashup generation they’re written for, the three new apps take elements of Microsoft’s productivity generation and blend them together. A look ahead at what Microsoft is now beginning to ship, versus what it has brought into the market over the past year, shows you how the Office suite is evolving into something very, very different.

Chromecast Aims To Be The Focal Point Of Family Games Night With New Apps – The new Chromecast apps announced today use your smartphone as a controller for the software running on the dongle attached to your TV, and include classics like Wheel of Fortune, as well as twists on old favourites like Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads, and Simon Swipe. The apps are all available for both iOS and Android, and work on both tablets and smartphones so that virtually anyone who happens to drop by can get in on the action.

Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you? – Google’s approach to email depends on your needs, so find out whether Inbox or Gmail will suit you best.

Microsoft’s Lync becomes ‘Skype for Business’ – As of next year, however, Lync will become known as “Skype for Business”. The Lync server will become “Skype for Business Server”. Microsoft says the big change is that Lync’s client will get Skype’s look and feel. None of Lync’s features will go, but some of Skype’s will appear including a user’s Skype contacts being available to Lync.

Build a budget (sub-$300) PC – Back due to popular demand — a listing of the parts you need to build a budget sub-$300 PC. This parts list is useful to anyone looking to put together a cheap PC for the home or small office, but wants to know what he or she is getting for their money. This is a cheap build, but it’s not ultra cheap. What I mean by that is that I’m not cutting corners when it comes to quality. Want a good, solid PC but don’t want to spend much or trust an OEM with the job? Read on.


Geek deals: Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175 – That’s a 50% discount and one of the lowest prices for a new desktop we’ve seen. This H500 config features a dual-core Celeron J1800 processor, along with 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive. These basic specs are plenty for everyday light usage like internet browsing and office tasks. There’s also integrated 802.11bgn WiFi, five USB ports (one USB 3.0), VGA, a multi-card reader, and a DVDRW, giving you numerous connectivity options for your peripherals. Some ports, including a pair of USB ports, are located on the front for easy access.


Drastic price cuts may damage PC industry, jeopardize Microsoft’s hopes for Windows 10 – Windows PC makers slashed prices to historically low levels in the U.S. during the last three weeks of October, damaging the consumer business just as Microsoft tries to push Windows 10 as its salvation, a retail analyst said last week.

Microsoft announces ‘Clutter’ for Office 365, a smarter Inbox – Microsoft has announced a new feature this morning for Office 365 users called ‘Clutter’ that makes it easier to manage your inbox by reducing the noise and increasing the signal.

Ocho app released: a tiny video social network – There’s a brand new warrior app out today released to do battle with the likes of Vine, Instagram, and maybe even Twitter itself. This is Ocho, a social networking app that allows you to record and share 8-second videos with your friends. This app is free for iOS users – that’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus included – and it has backing from some of the most powerful funders in the industry – Mark Cuban and Matthew Brimer included. This app was made for iPhone first and foremost – 16:9 aspect ratio recording made to fill up your whole screen.


Open-source Gizmo 2 PC packs an AMD CPU, Radeon graphics – Open-source computers have so far lacked good graphics, but Gizmosphere’s new Gizmo 2 is an exception. The Gizmo 2 is an uncased single-board computer that will sell for $199. The computer can be used to build robots, electronics with large screens, or interactive computer systems that can recognize gestures or images.


How to edit captions on Instagram – A recent update to Instagram makes it possible to easily correct mistakes in your photo or video captions.

Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress – Legislation in the U.S. Congress that would allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sales will not pass before the end of the year because of opposition from Speaker of the House John Boehner. Boehner’s opposition to the Main Street Fairness Act means the bill, which would allow states and local governments to collect sales taxes on Internet sales by businesses located outside their borders, will not pass during this session of Congress.

How to set up Google Wallet for easy, secure payments – Google Wallet is an easy, secure way to pay at over 300,000 locations. Jack Wallen walks you through the process of setting up Tap and pay to make your purchasing life easier.

10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love – Winter is coming — fend off the cold by warming your heart. Tip the dating game odds in your favor by using one of these apps to meet your match.


Microsoft patches Windows, IE; holds back two updates – The most serious vulnerability could allow an attacker to gain control of a Windows Server just by sending packets. For undisclosed reasons, Microsoft withheld two updates scheduled for release.

There’s no opting out of Verizon’s PrecisionID – Verizon’s PrecisionID allows Verizon and advertisers to profile those who use Verizon data networks, and there’s no opting out. But here’s how to block it.

Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you – Nearly half (45 per cent) of those who visit the most convincing phishing pages are tricked into handing over personal information, according to Google. This effectiveness drops to just three per cent in the case of the most obviously scummy phishing sites, while the online giant reports that the account hijackers work quickly, with one in five compromised accounts getting accessed within 30 minutes.

Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days? – Summary: I ran the numbers and vulnerabilities in browsers are up this year, as is their severity. We know more about this for Internet Explorer because Microsoft provides the most data.

Rights groups, NGOs struggle against malware attacks – A multi-year study of cyberattacks against 10 activist and human rights groups shows they’re hit with the same types of intrusions as large organizations but have far fewer resources to defend themselves. That disadvantage could mean a gradual erosion of the “core institutions” that mark a “vibrant democratic society,” wrote analysts with The Citizen Lab, a Canadian think tank that is part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Over a four-year period, Citizen Lab looked at more than 800 suspicious emails, and 2,800 malicious payloads and malware families used to target the organizations, along with an analysis of network traffic.

Microsoft bolsters EMET security tool with hardened exploit mitigations – Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), a security program popular with companies, was updated Monday to harden the exploit mitigations that it adds to other programs and to address compatibility issues with some of them. The compatibility issues affected popular applications including Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Mozilla Firefox when EMET mitigations like Export Address Table Filtering Plus (EAF+) were applied to them.

Company News:

Android User Takes Apple To Federal Court Over Undelivered Text Messages – Apple will soon face a federal lawsuit brought on by a woman named Adrienne Moore, who, like many former iPhone users who have switched to Android, is upset that she did not receive text messages after switching from iPhone to Android. She is seeking unspecified damages, and to make the lawsuit a class action suit.

Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy in 2012, study says – The video game market is alive and thriving, and you can thank smartphones for its growth. Mobile gaming, through titles like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans, has turned all device owners into potential players. And US consumers have responded with the gift that keeps on giving: money. The US video game industry grew 9.6 percent from 2009 to 2012, to add $6.2 billion to the US economy. That’s four times faster than the entire US economy, according to a new report from industry trade group, the Entertainment Software Association.

Yahoo buys BrightRoll, has largest video ad network – Yahoo is continuing their shopping spree, this time acquiring a video advertising network. Marissa Mayer and company have announced they’ve purchased BrightRoll for $640 million in cash. It’s an investment in video, one of Yahoo’s four “strategic pillars” as well as a “growth business” for the search-centric company. In announcing the acquisition, Yahoo is also attempting to re-brand what video is, calling is “display 2.0”, and something that can replace banner ads. BrightRoll makes Yahoo the largest video ad platform provider in the US.

Google signs 60-year lease on NASA airfield and hangars – Google has sealed a deal to lease NASA’s Moffett Airfield for the next 60 years after beginning negotiations for the land back in February. Under terms of the agreement, Google will pay NASA an estimated $1.16 billion in rent over the life of the agreement, with addition funds going toward the restoration of a more than 80-year-old hangar, known as Hangar One, that sits on the property. Google may use Hangar One, as well as two sequentially named hangars on the airfield, as a space for research, development, assembly, and testing of technology related to robotics, aviation, space exploration, and other new fields once it moves in.


Tor-based Anonabox router revises troubled history as it resurfaces on Indiegogo – After a suspended Kickstarter campaign, the anonymizing router returns with promises of a fresh design and better security. But the new story doesn’t quite add up.


Groupon backs down from GNOME over trademark, will change product name – Groupon has decided to use a name other than “Gnome” for its tablet platform for merchants. “After additional conversations with the open source community and the Gnome Foundation, we have decided to abandon our pending trademark applications for ‘Gnome,'” the company said. “We will choose a new name for our product going forward.”

Google Music bucks the trend with growing downloads – Streaming music services like Spotify have caused a big ripple in the industry, influencing everything from legit music downloads to piracy rates. Despite this, Google Music has seen growth among its download sales alongside an uptick in its streaming service’s user base. The growth runs counter to the industry’s overall faltering, with such sales earlier in 2014 seeing a year-on-year drop of 13-percent.

Spotify CEO responds to Taylor Swift, calls her out on earnings – In pulling her entire catalog from Spotify, Taylor Swift took a jab at streaming music. According to Swift, streaming services like Spotify don’t pay artists enough. That’s something we’ve touched on before, and she’s right — they typically don’t. Artists get paid by volume of played tracks, so for the house DJ in Prague looking to be discovered, streaming isn’t so lucrative. Taylor Swift, however, is Taylor Swift. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took exception to Swift’s commentary, and has issued a response.

Google AdSense to news site: Change your content, or else – Google’s AdSense has told San Francisco news outlet The SF Appeal that it has three days to remove editorial content that violates its advertising policy.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is How Insanely Beautiful the New Halo on Xbox One Is – Released Nov. 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection combines more than a decade of Halo history into one high-gloss package. The Xbox One exclusive is not only a celebration of the video game franchise’s past, but a major preview of its future—a.k.a. the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. The collection combines Halo 1 through 4 and reimagines their looks with more current graphics. The results are impressive. Here, take a closer look:

The 15 Best-Looking Video Games of 2014 – Exclusive images from the most breathtakingly beautiful games of the year.


This pulled back shot of fictional Himalayan region Kyrat is in-game, believe it or not, rendered with an overhauled version of the engine Ubisoft used to design Far Cry 3.

Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues – If you’re excited to play the new Assassin’s Creed, maybe hold off and see whether Ubisoft fixes any of the issues. It’s hard to know how many of these issues are permanent and how many will be worked on in the coming weeks, and Nvidia and AMD each released new drivers for the game today, but for now just be aware that the rumors are true—Unity is suffering from all sorts of performance issues. Buyer beware.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Brings More Of The Same Sneaky Mayhem – Assassin’s Creed Unity is the first title in the series built specifically for the more advanced hardware of this generation’s consoles rather than upgraded a bit from the version released on the PS3 and Xbox 360. As happens with console transitions, this game drops some of the fun diversions from last year’s game in favor of focusing on the franchise’s core gameplay mechanics, providing plenty of satisfying stealth and action sequences in a lively rendition of Paris during the French Revolution.


Nvidia vs. AMD Best Graphics Cards at Every Price Point – With no more GPU releases from Nvidia or AMD for the remainder of the year the battle is now on pricing. We break down each price bracket to determine which company offers the best value product.


Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20 Review – The team at Creative have made something special in the Sound Blaster Roar SR20. This isn’t just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s not just an alarm clock. It’s not just a collection of wireless and wired sound-centric features in a single package. It’s part of the future – one in which multiple abilities doesn’t mean lower quality in any one of those abilities. The Creative team have made a masterpiece of personal, portable sound. Multiple connections, multiple uses – a real do-everything-well machine.


This Is Why Male Video Game Characters Suddenly Got All Soft – The old tentpole action heroes of the 1990s—Duke Nukem, BJ Blazkowicz, DOOM’s battering ram of a space marine—were creatures of unproblematic bravado, secure behind their sunshades and grenade belts. They whole-heartedly embraced the centuries-old cliché that masculinity boils down to your ability to destroy or impose your will by force. The new breed are no less capable killers, but they’re softer, more approachable—a product of the criticism of hyper-masculine slaughter machines, and of a greater demand for narratives that move us like the best films and TV shows.


Joel from ‘The Last of Us’, in a rare moment of not murdering something.

Dragon Age: Inquisition review: Big, bold, and full of fetch quests – Dragon Age: Inquisition has some utterly amazing moments, but they’re padded out by a fair amount of ho-hum filler.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin really did land on the moon 45 years ago and Nvidia can prove it. The purpose of Nvidia’s project—aside from showing off Maxwell—was to debunk a popular conspiracy theory which holds that NASA never actually sent humans to Earth’s satellite, a view supposedly bolstered by claims that the light conditions in Armstrong’s photo and other images taken by Apollo astronauts appear to be off, as if the pictures were taken on a studio set.


How automation could take your skills — and your job – Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Glass Cage, examines the idea that businesses are moving too fast to automate white collar jobs, sophisticated tasks and mental work, effectively dumbing down workers.

Pointing up   Toffler predicted this, and more, in 1970, in Future Shock.

Back to the Future DeLorean replica is a flying drone – If you want a drone to zip around but none quite meet your style needs, you can take a page out of YouTuber’s Native118’s book and make your own…in the style of a Back to the Future DeLorean. The drone was made piece by piece out of lightweight materials — including bright glowing LEDs — to form the most retro-chic quad-copter out there, and it’s able to fly around without any hassles. The man behind the drone upload his construction process, lending a helping hand to any DIYers who want to make their own.


Elon Musk confirms army of micro-satellites in the works – One can say a lot of things about Elon Musk, but no one can deny that the man has vision and imagination. Confirming in public, at least to the Internet, a rumor that has been floating around since Saturday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO revealed that his space-faring company is indeed working on small-sized satellites. Unlike the more ambitious goal of propelling humans into space, this endeavor has a more philanthropic bent, aiming to bring Internet to more people. Kind of like Google’s Project Loon, but with satellites.


You Don’t Know Shit – Part 1 – Every morning between 8 AM and 9 AM, the waste output of Manhattan’s West Side  swells from 70 million to 150 million gallons per day. This is known as “the big flush.” The sewage will eventually end up on a NYC Department of Environmental Protection Sewage boat, which will take the sludge to a dewatering plant on Ward’s Island, where the sludge will become “biosolids”—reused to create golf courses, cemeteries, and fertilizer for the human food chain. Biosolids have become a financial asset worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but it’s still possible that we’ll go back to dumping our waste in the ocean. In this new documentary, VICE traces the trail of waste from butt to big-money biosolid and beyond.

Pointing up    Part 2 is also available.

Bill Gates sells $925M in Microsoft stock, still owns $13.6B worth – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold 20 million company shares in late October, but thanks to market gains in the past three months, his portfolio was worth more than when he last sold stock, regulatory filings showed. In the five days from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $45.92 to $46.76 for a total of $925 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

China, US agree on technology tariff cut – The WTO’s Information Technology Agreement is back on course after the United States and China agreed to the slashing of tariffs on electronic goods.

Something to think about:

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”

–      Freya Madeline Stark

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dropbox – Dropbox is a useful tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them.

It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.



Once installed, any file you drop into your Dropbox folder will synchronize and be available on any other computer you’ve installed Dropbox on, as well as from the web. Also, any changes you make to files in your Dropbox will sync to your other computers, instantly.


Let’s say you accidentally delete that 8 page report that you were supposed to have for a meeting tomorrow. A handy Dropbox feature is the ability to undelete files or pull up any previous versions of it.


You can also share files and folders with whomever you choose, whether it be music with buddies, docs with colleagues or photos with grandma, even if they’re not Dropbox users.


We obsess over speed, and it shows. Dropbox is very smart about the way it handles files. For example, if you make a change to a huge file, dropbox will only update the piece of the file that changed.


All files are transported over SSL and encrypted using AES-256 (banks use this too)

Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of portable apps in a variety of categories that can be run on your local PC or from any portable media. Take these important apps with you and use on any computer.

LiberKey is a complete application platform for local or portable use. It allows you to manage your applications quickly and without skill.

Installation of an application from LiberKey catalog is done with 2 clicks but you can easily add any other application.

After LiberKey installation, the user has the choice to install Ultimate, Standard or Basic suites (so always updated) or to define its own suite with the online catalog.


Smart applications closure

A menu with advanced features which allows you to organize and manage your applications. (categories creation, shortcuts, tabs/menus, smart search, drag-n-drop, and more).

floating menus for quick access from your desktop

Portable files associations : You can open files and protocols (http, ftp, mailto, etc) with the application of your choice

Portable desktop shorcuts : shortcuts to your applications are placed on the desktop and removed when your exit LiberKey

Automatic online updates (LiberKey platform and applications of the catalog) which allows you to be always and easily up to date

Synchronization with the online catalog and much more…

LiberKey Ultimate includes 302 free programs in the following categories:



File Management






System Utils



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Did the government hack a CBS journalist? Maybe – Sharyl Attkisson was hacked. The computers used by the former CBS News investigative reporter were found to have been remotely accessed and tampered with, according to both a CBS-hired forensics expert and a reputable information security firm that did an analysis commissioned by Attkisson herself. Those are the facts as we know them.

Currently, that’s where the facts end and the allegations begin. Attkisson, whose book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington was released this week, claims to have evidence that she was hacked by someone working for the government. She says the digital intrusion was part of a campaign to get her to stop pursuing stories critical of the Obama administration. [Attkisson, in a follow-up e-mail, clarifies: “I theorize the digital intrusion was an attempt to surreptitiously monitor my work to see who was talking to me and how much I knew on various stories.”]

Attkisson is confident in her story, but others aren’t so sure.

Exhibit overwhelms viewers with the scale of governments’ secret spy programs – At an art gallery in New York, Citizenfour cinematographer Trevor Paglen is showing a video installation that features more than 4,000 surveillance program code names from both the National Security Agency (NSA) and Government Communications Headquarters. Entitled Code Names of the Surveillance State, the exhibition consists of endlessly scrolling columns projected on the four walls of Metro Pictures’ Chelsea gallery, and will run until December 20th.

The code names displayed are described as “deliberately nonsensical” and without any ostensible connection to the programs they represent.


Are fingerprints PINs or physical artifacts? – A judge’s ruling that a person can be forced to open his phone with his fingerprint ignores the fact that the fingerprint scan is just a substitute PIN, which can’t be required by law enforcement.

You’ve got the director of the FBI railing against smartphone encryption, claiming that it puts us all at greater risk from terrorists. And a circuit court judge in Virginia has ruled that although police cannot force suspects to reveal their passwords/PINs, they can be forced to apply their fingers to their iPhones and open them, against their will. There is a lot of legal history — a.k.a. precedent — for this, but an absolute absence of logic or rationale. When a fingerprint becomes a password/PIN, it must be treated as such.

Part of this history involves the traditions of the police, who have long been able to forcibly require suspects to dig their fingerprints into a police station inkpad. To them, the fingerprint reader on an iPhone feels the same. But in the IT world, the fingerprint used to unlock an iPhone is not a fingerprint so much as it is merely data reflecting a biometric scan — just another way of authenticating. In other words, it’s a password that’s neither spoken nor typed.

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

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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 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.


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.


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.


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.


$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.”


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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%.”


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.


‘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.


‘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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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).


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