Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 4, 2014

Getting Hacked Is in Your Future;  How to make Android Lollipop more secure;  New ‘Device Assist’ app helps you with all things Android;  10 cool tricks for Siri for iOS 8;  12 essential Microsoft business apps for the iPhone;  Squashed bug opened EVERY PayPal account to hijacking;  Five mobile apps for opening a variety of email attachments;  Tiny Arduino Board With A Built-in Touchscreen;  Firefox is headed to iOS;   Google plans kid-friendly products starting in 2015;  Target Australia stops selling GTA V in wake of sex worker petition;  Fewer People Than Ever Are Watching TV;  21 new Android 5.0 features you need to know about.

New ‘Device Assist’ app helps you with all things Android – Do you even know what’s going on with Android? If you’re a new user, probably not. There are a lot of subtle tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Android handset, and Google is finally acknowledging it’s not easy to know what those are. A new app, Device Assist, has landed on the Play Store today, and helps users discover all the neat little ways they can make their device last longer and provide the info they want. Well, so long as you have a Google-y android handset, that is.

12 essential Microsoft business apps for the iPhone – As part of Microsoft’s “mobile first, cloud first” mission, it has built up a large portfolio of consumer and business apps on every platform. In this roundup, I look at a dozen iOS apps that help IT pros and power users stay productive with an iPhone and Microsoft services.

Good Deal: Spotify’s premium service is 99 cents a month for three months – If you’ve managed to avoid using Spotify all this time, your patience has finally been rewarded. As part of a limited time deal, the company is giving new subscribers a rate of 99 cents a month for up to three months of service, something that normally costs $9.99 a month. That gets you no advertising, higher bitrates, and the capability to download music for offline listening.

10 cool tricks for Siri for iOS 8 – Apple’s Siri keeps getting smarter — here’s ten neat things you can do with Siri on your iPad or iPhone.

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21 new Android 5.0 features you need to know about – Google recently released Android 5.0 Lollipop, the largest Android update to date. The updated version of the popular mobile operating system is slowly making its way to older devices. Here are the new features in Android 5.0 Lollipop that you need to know about.

Record the screen of your Android Lollipop device with this free app – Screenshots are a thing of the past. With this free app, you can record the screen of your Lollipop device.

Tommy Hilfiger launches solar power jackets to charge your phone – The clothing label has developed a range of clothing embedded with solar panels so that you always have backup power for your devices.

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Google’s reCAPTCHA (Mostly) Does Away With Those Annoying CAPTCHAs – The end of the CAPTCHA is nigh — and very few tears will be shed for them. As Google today announced, those ubiquitous forms that make you prove you are human by typing in barely legible words and house numbers will soon be replaced with a single click — at least on sites that use Google’s reCAPTCHA service. So why is Google making this switch? It turns out that the old-style CAPTCHAs weren’t all that good at keeping robots out anyway. With today’s technology, bots could solve CAPTCHAs with 99.8 percent accuracy.

Wire communications app for voice, text, and images set to launch – A new communications network is set to launch that is backed by Skype co-founder Janus Friis and over 50 other people from 23 different countries. The communication network is called Wire and it promises to support text messaging, voice calling, sharing images, music, and video on phones, tablets, and computers.

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After School Is The Latest Anonymous App Resulting In Student Cyberbullying And School Threats – Meet After School, an anonymous Whisper-like app that hit the App Store in October 2014. And of course it’s causing issues in countless schools like Yik Yak and Ask.fm did before it. Claims of cyberbullying stemming from the After School app are quickly popping up: Schools across metro Detroit warned parents about it, and a gun threat posted on the app resulted in a heightened level of security and police presence earlier today at another school, MLive reports.

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Chinese handsets account for almost 40 percent of global shipments – Shipments of Chinese handsets for 2014 have totalled over 450 million, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global total, set to exceed 50 percent by 2016.

SuperDuino Is A Tiny Arduino Board With A Built-in Touchscreen – Another day, another Arduino project. This time it’s something called SuperDuino, a tiny touchscreen powered by a coin cell battery and backed up by a tiny Arduino-Like processor. The kit can be used to build smartwatches and other mini devices and costs about $25 for the entire system. You can add microSD readers, Bluetooth, and wireless connectivity to the SuperDuino, as well.

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Five mobile apps for opening a variety of email attachments – The time to discover you can’t open an email attachment is not when you’re sitting on a plane without the app you need. Brien Posey suggests five tools to keep you productive, even in transit.

Firefox is headed to iOS, browser restrictions be damned – After years of vowing not to bring Firefox to the iPhone and iPad, Mozilla is changing its tune–and is presumably willing to work with Apple’s rules.

Bluetooth 4.2 will get faster, more private – One of the most-used connections between your smart devices is about to get a whole lot faster and more secure. The folks at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) officially adopted a new standard of Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth 4.2. Bluetooth is now in nearly every smartphone and tablet on the market, and with this new specification, the technology can expand before devices are even at the point at which developers have found use-cases. The next generation of Bluetooth devices – coming as soon as this Spring, in some cases, will have more secure connections, faster connections, and a more diverse portfolio of connectivity options.

Security:

Squashed bug opened EVERY PayPal account to hijacking: Yet another tale of incredibly crocked software – PayPal has plugged a huge hole that exposed every account to hijacking. The cross-site request forgery (CSRF) flaw reported by Egyptian researcher Yassar H Ali allowed attackers access to any PayPal account of their choosing if they were capable of convincing a target to click a link.

FTC: Online billing service deceptively collected medical records – The agency reaches a settlement with a billing service that tried to populate online medical records with customer data.

Getting Hacked Is in Your Future – The latest cyber threat is a new piece of programmable malware called Regin. The media has approached the discovery of this code from various perspectives. Most believe it to be some cool multi-purpose code developed by the U.S. or British government. It’s apparently used to spy on large corporations or even target individuals for anti-terrorism reasons or even blackmail. What is completely overlooked in the analysis is that within the next year or two this code will be completely in the wild and reverse engineered. Then, anyone with a computer and a few layers of proxy protection will be able to launch it. We can all become snoops and spies.

Facebook cosies up to ESET for malware detection – Facebook, which earlier this year started partnering with F-Secure and Trend Micro for malware detection, has added Slovak vendor ESET to its suite of security products. The previous tie-ups, detailed here, are worth noting to put the new partnership in context. F-Secure and Trend both pointed Facebook users at their free online scans if devices behaved in a way that suggested infection. ESET is operating under a similar deal, and Facebook similarly says the tie-ups will help it keep malicious links and harmful sites out of News Feeds and Messages.

How to make Android Lollipop more secure – Besides installing third-party software, there are several ways you can enhance your device’s security through built-in controls in Android Lollipop.

Company News:

Netflix Accused of Trying to Secure Internet ‘Fast Lanes’ – Netflix has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, but the way it caches content and serves up streams appears to violate net neutrality, according to an FCC commissioner. In a Tuesday letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai pointed to Netflix’s decision not to join the Streaming Video Alliance, as well as its Open Connect content delivery system as examples of how Netflix is “working to effectively secure ‘fast lanes’ for its content on ISPs’ networks at the expense of its competitors.”

Google plans kid-friendly products starting in 2015 – Google sees a lot of traffic pop through their servers, but how much of it is from kids? The search company has no real idea, but they’d like to have a better grasp on that knowledge. Whether it’s YouTube, Search, or other properties, kids are using Google stuff now more than ever. To that, Google promises to release kid-friendly versions of their various properties next year. The aforementioned YouTube and Search are likely going to make the cut, as could Chrome.

UK announces a ‘Google tax’ to stop companies diverting profits overseas – The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, responsible for setting the UK’s budget, today announced plans for a new 25 percent tax intended to close loopholes that presently see multinational companies extracting their profits to lower-tax regimes like Ireland. It has already been described as a “Google tax,” though it affects a practice that is widespread across the tech industry and others beyond it: Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, and others have all been subject to scrutiny about the ways in which they account for their profits.

Comcast and Time Warner now running adverts to convince you the acquisition is a good idea – Comcast is in the process of trying to acquire Time Warner in the US and to help convince consumers that the acquisition is a good idea, they are running web adverts to support their agenda.

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Australian court dismisses Apple ‘App Store’ trademark appeal – Apple lost an appeal in Australia’s Federal Court on Wednesday over its bid for the “App Store” trademark. The company applied for the trademark in July 2008, but the application was rejected by the country’s Registrar of Trade Marks. It was also opposed by Microsoft. In his ruling, Federal Judge David Yates wrote that when Apple launched its store and applied for the trademark, it did not mean the company had “coined a new word” or gave the word “app” a changed meaning.

Games and Entertainment:

Target Australia stops selling GTA V in wake of sex worker petition – Major brick-and-mortar retailer Target Australia will stop selling Grand Theft Auto V in its 300 or so stores after an online petition condemning the game’s depiction of violence against sex workers drew more than 40,000 signatures (the chain is not directly related to the US retailer of the same name). In a statement posted online, Target Australia General Manager of Corporate Affairs Jim Cooper cited “feedback from customers about the game’s depictions of violence against women” and “extensive community and customer concern about the game” in making the decision.

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An image from GTA V used to highlight the game’s sexual violence in a Change.org petition.

Sony celebrates PlayStation’s 20th anniversary with discounts on popular titles – Sony is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation console by offering popular game titles for cheap and some additional discounts for PS Plus members, starting today.

Independence Day 2 tipped to arrive in 2016 – We’ve been hearing about a follow-up to Independence Day for quite some time, and finally (finally) there’s good news: 20th Century Fox has given the green light to proceed with the film, which will enter production in May 2015. Such information comes from Deadline, which is reporting that Will Smith won’t be taking up his former role — something that doesn’t come as a surprise to those who have been keeping an eye on the rumors. We’ve got all the details after the jump.

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This Megacut Video Of 45 Disney Characters Singing “Jingle Bells” Will Totally Get You In The Holiday Spirit – Disney Movies Anywhere has cut together 45 Disney characters singing the words in order to bring you an extra special version of “Jingle Bells.”

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Need an electronic circuit? Just load paper and hit print – Researchers have created highly conductive and durable silver nanowire ink that can be used to print durable electronic circuits on paper. The technology is being touted by the researchers at the University of Tennessee as a breakthrough in making inexpensive, flexible, disposable electronic sensors that can be used for a wide range of medical purposes, as well as an “electronic skin” that can act as touchpad sensors on robotics. Robots with electronic skin could, for example, go to a patient’s bedside and through touch, determine vital signs and other diagnostic data, or a patient could use the skin as a touch pad to alert medical staff or find information.

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World’s fastest 2D camera can capture 100 billion frames per second – A new 2D camera developed by a team of biomedical engineers is the fastest ever made, able to image light phenomena in more detail than ever before.

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Illustration of how the camera works.

Ultrasound creates a haptic shape that can be seen and felt – A team at the University of Bristol has used ultrasound to create three-dimensional shapes in mid-air that can be touched and seen.

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Fewer People Than Ever Are Watching TV – The long-prognosticated death of TV may be happening before our eyes—but at a glacial pace. A new in-depth report from tracking firm Nielsen shows that TV is still by far America’s favorite entertainment past-time, but individuals are spending more hours surfing web and viewing streaming services. A growing number of households are choosing to dump TV altogether.

Something to think about:

“There ain’t no free lunches in this country. And don’t go spending your whole life commiserating that you got raw deals. You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it.’”

–        Lee Iacocca

Today’s Free Downloads:

CurrPorts – CurrPorts displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer. For each port in the list, information about the process that opened the port is also displayed, including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it.

In addition, CurrPorts allows you to close unwanted TCP connections, kill the process that opened the ports, and save the TCP/UDP ports information to HTML file , XML file, or to tab-delimited text file.

CurrPorts also automatically mark with pink color suspicious TCP/UDP ports owned by unidentified applications.

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Pixopedia 2014 – MajorGeek Says: Pixopedia is another free graphics program to add to your collection. It comes portable so it’s is easy to run and move around and has a lot of the features you find in the competition and maybe more. One of the coolest features I found was the ability to use buttons or tool panels. Once you become familiar with the buttons or icons that surround the program, it becomes easy to simply click on an icon rather than go to the standard panels. It will take a bit of getting used to with a new program, but it’s neat. There are a ton of shapes, brushes and other filters available. Give this one a whirl, I think you will be impressed.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tonight the NYPD chose Lady Gaga and a Christmas tree over democracy – Welcome to America. Now show us your ticket or get lost. That’s what officers of the New York Police Department told hundreds of people tonight as they cordoned off a massive area in Midtown Manhattan, trapping protesters, tourists, workers, residents, and others between barricades that stretched out of sight along 6th Avenue and across two long blocks to Madison Avenue. It was a confluence of two discordant events: NBC’s lavish celebration of Christmas spirit, and the mourning of yet another unarmed black man viciously killed by police.

I was in the crowd created by the NYPD and found myself stuck in close quarters with no escape for at least half an hour near Radio City Music Hall, as tourists and protesters jostled to find out what was going on and where they could go.

The message was clear: the right of citizens to peacefully assemble in public spaces is less important than making sure NBC’s Christmas television special in Rockefeller Center — you know, the one where they light the big tree and have Mariah Carey sing — is packed with happy faces.

Iran moves forward with death penalty over Facebook posts – A 30-year-old blogger and photographer has been sentenced to death in Iran for “insulting the prophet of Islam” on Facebook, drawing renewed attention to the country’s notorious human rights record. The man, Soheil Arabi, was convicted in a Tehran criminal court in August after admitting to posting the defamatory content. His lawyers argued that he had done so while “in poor psychological condition,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and that he was merely sharing views held by others.

Video of police brutality can only do so much: NYPD chokehold cop not indicted – On Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury cleared a New York Police Department officer of all criminal wrongdoing in an incident that took place over the summer, when officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who was a father of six, in a chokehold that killed him.

Garner, an asthmatic, repeatedly told the officer that he couldn’t breathe as he was being choked. Garner’s case shows that, clear rules about taking and handling footage aside, a video that clearly implicates a white police officer in a black man’s death cannot overcome what looks incredibly like—if not out-and-out racism—a dogged determination to uphold the impunity of police officers on the part of the justice system.

Ultimately, it seems, video footage objectively showing how an incident occurred can be ignored. A chokehold, forbidden by the NYPD, can be justified.

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