Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 1, 2014

Facebook sets up hidden service in privacy push;  11 Cyber Monday tech deals that truly save you serious money;  Top Android apps of the month;  Social Media Is Misused by Researchers;  iOS 8.2 already jailbroken before release;  Snap: A truly slick feature in Windows 10;  A Gift Guide For The Starter Smart Home;  Both a 4G Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 tablet for under $100;  Hands-on with Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon;  Intel snaps up digital identity manager PasswordBox;  Your Christmas Gaming Guide;  Bullying The Bullies;  German spy agency can monitor its own citizens.

And now for some good news… Facebook sets up hidden service in privacy push – Facebook has made it easier for those using the anonymizing browsing network Tor to access its services. The world’s largest social network by users created a direct link for Tor users, whose browsing activities cannot be traced by others or governments, to its datacenters. That to a degree includes the U.S., which has come under heavy criticism from other states in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures for its global surveillance operations.

Top Cyber Monday tech deals – Want post-Thanksgiving deals without the crowds? See the online sale prices on TVs, computers, games and more for Cyber Monday, Dec. 1.

11 Cyber Monday tech deals that truly save you serious money – We’ve sifted through the ads and the deals-that-aren’t-really-deals to find 11 Cyber Monday tech sales that absolutely, positively don’t suck. Real deals, not cyber scams.

Bing, Yahoo begin accepting European ‘right to be forgotten’ requests – Good news for individuals in Europe looking to have unwanted information about them purged from internet search results, as Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo’s search have officially started accepting and processing “right to be forgotten” requests. This follows a ruling in May by the European Union’s Court of Justice that gives people the right to make such requests, and requires search engines to comply under certain circumstances.

Six Clicks: Top Android apps of the month, November 2014 – What are some of the most interesting apps for Google’s Android operating system we’ve discovered this month?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Study: Social Media Is Misused by Researchers – Social media provides us with mountains of data about the activities, proclivities, and habits of huge numbers of people using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The conventional wisdom holds that mining that data provides a treasure trove for economists, social scientists, marketers, and others who seek to quantify and predict future human behavior. Not so fast, say researchers at Montreal’s McGill University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

iOS 8.2 already jailbroken before release – iOS 8.2, the forthcoming update for Apple’s iPhones and iPads, hasn’t even been released out of beta yet, with developers only getting their hands on it a little over a week ago. But somehow the jailbreaking community has gotten their hands on it, and China’s TaiG has already found the necessary cracks.

Snap: A truly slick feature in Windows 10 – When it was introduced in Windows 7, Snap showed potential as a windows management technique. When Windows 8 came out, Snap sort of fell by the wayside, but it eventually resurfaced in 8.1 when the feature was enabled for Modern Apps. With Windows 10, Snap has really become a truly slick feature. You can now snap windows to the four corners and the two windows in a split-screen formation. There are other cool new features as well. Let’s take a closer look.

Your annual festive people-fighting-over-electronics-at-Walmart video – Some traditions will not die. Wresting a home theater system out of someone else’s hands, for example.


Right now, you can buy both a 4G Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 tablet for under $100 – For less than $100, you can now buy the Microsoft Lumia 635 4G Windows Phone, and a 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, with a free one-year Office 365 subscription and unlimited OneDrive online storage.


Hands-on with Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon and MATE – The final rease of Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon and MATE was announced this weekend. I have picked up both versions, and I have installed them on a number of computers around here, with both legacy (MBR) and UEFI boot. The results have been very good, as expected.


A Gift Guide For The Starter Smart Home – The proliferation of smart home products means there’s never been a better time to get on board, even if you’re not that tech crazy or familiar with the market. Here’s the list of things to get you rolling with your own basic setup, plus a few nice-to-haves in case you want to go the extra mile.


You Asked: What Are Podcasts? – According to a 2014 study by Edison Research, 39 million Americans listen to podcasts every month, enjoying six shows per week, on average. So, if you’ve been ignoring podcasts, you’re not just missing out on Serial, you’ve been shunning an entire medium full of great content. And if that makes you feel dumb, this part will really embarrass you: almost every podcast available is completely and totally free to you, the listener. Here’s what you need to know to get started.


DVD rips of ‘Fury,’ ‘Annie,’ ‘Mr. Turner,’ and ‘Still Alice’ hit the web following Sony Pictures hack – Matters just keep getting worse for Sony Pictures, which was victim to a massive hack this past week. Its internal email systems remain offline, and now DVD-quality rips of four of the studio’s newest films have hit piracy websites. Watermarked copies of Fury, Annie, Mr. Turner, and Still Alice all hit torrent websites around the same time shortly after the attack. There’s no confirmation that the films were indeed obtained from the attack, but it appears likely as DVDs of the films are not available for sale — indeed, all of the films other than Fury have yet to be released in theaters.

StealthGenie spyware seller fined $500,000 in landmark conviction – The ruling marks the first-ever criminal conviction concerning the advertisement and sale of mobile device spyware applications.

The year everyone’s security took a hit – Each and every person is less secure than they thought on January 1, 2014, and for popping that bubble, we should be thankful. With all players suffering, and each new vulnerability revealing only what not to use rather than what techniques and technology should be used, regular users would be forgiven for feeling less sure of the security with each passing day. But such are the experiences that must be worked through in order to learn that an incorrectly perceived reality is nothing but self-delusion.

Company News:

Intel snaps up digital identity manager PasswordBox – Intel has acquired PasswordBox, a cross-platform identity management service which will be merged with the Intel Security Group portfolio. Announced on Monday, the IT services provider said the acquisition of Montreal-based PasswordBox will boost the company’s Safe Identity organization talent pool and solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Uber Hits Out At India’s ‘Unnecessary And Burdensome’ New Payment Regulations – Uber has lashed out at new regulations governing payments in India, after it called the mandating of two-factor authentication for all online transactions “an antiquated solution that is cumbersome for consumers and stifling for businesses.” The U.S. taxi app company introduced a new wallet-based payment solution last month in response to new measures from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Today it fully switched over all payments to the wallet, but it said that adoption of the system has been “slow” among its customers.

Flickr is trying to change its image – With photo-sharing sites and storage giants like Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox and Amazon, the once-dominant Flickr has lost its place. So what is Flickr now? Its chief says we’ll know in about a year.


Flickr users begged Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to improve the photo service after she took over the company in 2012.

Xbox Japan chief steps down after Xbox One’s dreary sales – From the launch of the original Xbox, Microsoft has had a very difficult time getting its game console to find success in Japan, and sadly that continues to this day, where the latest system, the Xbox One, has tragically low sales numbers. In order to take responsibility for the system’s poor performance, the Head of Xbox Japan, Takashi Sensui, has resigned from his position.

BlackBerry’s deal to buy voice crypto company Secusmart blessed by German government – BlackBerry is now free to integrate German security vendor Secusmart’s voice encryption technology on its smartphones and software, after the German government approved its acquisition of the company. BlackBerry CEO John Chen still wants his company to be the first choice of CIOs that want nothing but the best security as he works to turn around the company’s fortunes. The acquisition of Secusmart lets the company add the capability to encrypt voice and data communication to government security standards.

Games and Entertainment:

Your Christmas Gaming Guide – This year we have compiled some of the best games and gaming hardware that you, your friends and your family might want to find under their tree, there is something for everyone here. As a note of warning, If you want to save yourself some money this Christmas, if you can hold of buying any of these games until around the 20th of December, many will drop in price. Also if you are on a budget, don’t knock picking up titles that are pre-owned as you can pick up games that are at least half the retail price this way.


Assassin’s Creed: Unity is in such a state Ubisoft cancels the Season Pass – Assassin’s Creed: Unity has been an unmitigated disaster for Ubisoft. What should have been a game that easily topped the charts and earned its development money back and then some, has turned into a bit of a joke due to all the bugs and technical glitches the game shipped with. Ubisoft is working hard to fix all those issues through multiple patches, but at the same time is trying to forget the game ever existed as soon as possible.


Xbox One outsells the PS4 on Black Friday, again – Microsoft has managed to successfully sell more Xbox One consoles and bundles than its rivals by a huge margin during this year’s Black Friday sale across retailers. According to market research firm, InfoScout, retailers such as Target and Walmart have sold more Xbox One consoles and bundles than the PlayStation 4 and Wii. The Xbox One grabbed more than 50 percent of the sales with the PS4 coming in at second place with 31 percent.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bullying The Bullies – Humans haven’t quite gotten the hang of human rights, let alone social media. Combined ignorance of the two leads people to spew hate from the safety of an Internet connection, writing their bigotry into the public record. Now these moments are being put display for public shaming by a Tumblr seeking justice against racists. It’s a form of cybervigilantism. But is there a more effective, and compassionate way of stopping racism? On, sequences of screenshots show racist comments posted by people in response to the Michael Brown case, then other citizens reporting the commenters to their employers, and finally evidence that the commenters had been fired.

The following was submitted as a comment here several days ago from Alan Donson:

Dear judge,jury,and executioner-Bill Mullins-you should go live  with the ferguson barbarian scum that looted  and burned their own neghbors-their own friends family-stores  —since  you have  *time* to sit safely in muslim-loving-statist-canada  and make ersatz -idiotic pointless and cowardly quips  about  a  country  you dont live in–go on bill!–take your  children if  you have any and move  into ferguson missouri  yourself—then  be  welcome  to survive  living-subsisting with–demon -possesed  barbarians with zero education-no core values  except misinformation-no information—go for it  big hyper-lefwingnut -critic!After  that–if  you survive–move  your self to east  Los Angeles-then to the south side of chicago–then to harlem—then you can blast  your leftwingnut-delusions from the  rooftops-  about race  and  america…you internet-armchair-commando–wow!just  wow!!What a judgemental hypocrite  you are!Come on big man!Go live down there in ferguson before you DECIDE  what happened .Take a  vacation from yourself-and  try  -just  try-speaking  openly  about Canada  And free speech and  Islam.Go on….good  luck with that…..

You decide if you would be satisfied with this man as a neighbour.

Man tracks down stolen package through Facebook, surveillance footage – It’s not unheard of these days for delivered packages to go missing, especially when so many people are buying potentially valuable gifts online. The delivery service drives up, leaves a box at your front door when no one answers, and someone nearby with ill intentions and a chance opportunity snatches the item and runs off. One man in Texas recently found himself in this situation, but through creative use of a surveillance camera and Facebook, he actually managed to track down and recover his package.


Rules For Drones – People are idiots and when you put high-powered flying lawnmowers machines into their hands, things can get ugly fast. This Christmas, more people than ever will get quadcopters and that means even more of them will think it’s a good idea to fly them on a field right next to their local (or international) airport or over a stadium full of people. Thanks to people like this and general public unease about all things “drones” in the U.S., we will soon get a first set of regulations that will govern what we can do with with our quadcopters — and that’s okay. There has been a lot of insecurity surrounding the FAA’s plans for drones and the sooner we get some clarity, the better.

AirStrato “civilian” UAV goes into preorder – Whenever UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles are mentioned, two types almost always come to mind: the super powerful ones developed by the military or by corporations, and personal drones mostly used for fun, like taking sports action shots. These two groups also represent the two extremes of the pricing range, the most expensive and the most affordable ones, respectively. AirStrato is an air robot that tries to bring some of each group together, marrying the power of high-performance UAVs but without getting you bankrupt.


Watch this haunting look at Chernobyl, as seen by drones – For a 60 Minutes report that aired earlier this month, filmmaker Danny Cooke spent a week exploring abandoned cities Chernobyl and nearby Pripyat, whose amusement park was scheduled to open just days after the 1986 nuclear disaster that decimated the area. This week, Cooke posted excerpts from the piece in a compilation entitled “Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl” — a mix of drone footage and traditional cinematography.


Geek Answers: What is the hottest possible temperature? – Most people know that there is a hard floor on temperature: zero. Actually, we call it “absolute zero” and define it as zero in units of Kelvin, or about -273.15 degrees Celsius. Heat, of course, is just the interaction of moving atoms, no movement means no heat — which in turn means that we can have an objective coldest temperature. But is it possible to have an objective hottest temperature? Believe it or not, it might be.

Something to think about:

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

–      George Orwell

Today’s Free Downloads:

ManicTime – ManicTime sits in the background and records your activities, so you can just forget it is there and focus on your work. When you are finished you can use collected data to accurately keep track of your time.


Keep track of your work hours

After you have finished working, you can use MT to keep track of your hours. That means no more “punch-clock” like software, where you always forget to start or stop the clock. Just sit back and do your work. After you are finished, you can easily use collected data to accurately keep track of your time.

Simple and intuitive UI

During the course of the day average user can switch back and forth between applications more than a 1000 times, which means ManicTime gathers a lot of data. Using our timeline technology Manictime presents the data in an easy to understand way. You can drag on the timelines to select time or just mouse over to see hints about underlying data.

Local storage

Gathered data can sometimes be sensitive and you don’t want it sent over the wire and shared. That is why all the data Manictime gathers is stored locally on your computer and you can delete it any time you want. Having a local database also enables you to use ManicTime offline, without an Internet connection.

Powerful statistics

See which applications you use the most or on which web sites you spend the most time. Also easily figure out how much time you spent working on projects to accurately bill your clients or just keep track of your work.


Free Editor – MajorGeek says: How about a tool that can open, view and edit just about any file on your computer? I bumped into this utility while tinkering in VMWare. It promised to open all sorts of files and they weren’t kidding around about that. It can be a real pain in the backside to have all the tools you need to open many types of files and this comes in handy if you occasionally need to look at a Microsoft Excel file, but don’t have nor want Microsoft Office. It does go beyond viewing and features an image editor, spell checker, file converter and more depending on what you are opening. The number of file types it can open borders on massive.

Some of the more known types include pdf, xls, eml, reg, pdf, xml, jpg, gif, png, java and more. I would guess it can open about 100 different types of files. The one minor drawback is your file association settings (File, File Associations) and select the files you want it to detect and open. It’s not perfect in this area as the perfect settings would be to select all, then remove the ones you know you have a program to open with. If you don’t have a program installed to open a certain file, Free Editor does not come up as a list of programs. If you don’t need it a lot that means you will need to save the file on your computer, open Free Editor then and go to “File, Open”. Still, this one stays on my computer for when I need it.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

German spy agency can monitor its own citizens via technicality – Germany’s top foreign intelligence agency, known as the BND, has been revealed to claim a loophole that broadens its spying mandate, allowing it to snoop on its own citizens abroad if they are working for a foreign company or organization. Normally, the agency is not allowed to spy on German people or companies under Article 10 of the Basic Law regardless of where they live.

On Saturday, the Associated Press received confirmation from the German government “that work-related calls or emails are attributed to the employer. If the employer is foreign, the BND can intercept them.”

This statement stemmed from the testimony of a former BND lawyer, who answered questions last week before a parliamentary intelligence committee—dubbed the “NSA Committee.” Founded in March 2014, the committee is tasked with (PDF) specifically investigating “whether, in what way, and on what scale” the US and its Five Eyes allies “collected or are collecting data” to, from, and within Germany.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 1, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Alan Donson comment

    I’m sure you posted another rant by this man not long ago, which was similar in nastiness. I’m sorry you are still getting posts from this idiot. I’ve got news for Alan. Every country on earth has good people, ordinary people and bad people. America is not unique. It’s problems are not unique. We don’t need to spend time in America to grasp what the consequences of what some bad people do. It’s happening in our countries too. But most of us have some perspective, we don’t lump everyone in with the bad people. Instead of ranting and raving, try being postivie and come up with solutions. I doubt Alan will though, because I think he enjoys posting crap like I just read.