Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 5, 2014

The First 3 Things You Must Do if Your Identity is Stolen;  Windows 8 and Windows 7 Safe Modes: How to enter and when to use them;  Say “hello” to Firefox Hello;  This New Streaming Service Is Netflix, But Just for Kids;  The 40 Best Windows 8.1 Apps;  Wickr brings its self-destructing messages to Windows, Mac and Linux;  Mail to Self lets you email links to yourself;  Microsoft’s Sway finds the picture for your words;  Pro tip: How to uninstall stubborn Android apps;  Sony Pictures hackers stole 47,000 social security numbers;  December’s Hottest Video Games;  Free game alert: GOG’s giving Age of Wonders;  The Problem With The Internet Of Things;  Operation Auroragold – How the NSA hacks cellphone networks worldwide;  WinScheduler (free).

The First 3 Things You Must Do if Your Identity is Stolen – Shred sensitive documents, power up your passwords, stay alert for frauds—these are all good ideas. But even if you do everything possible to stop attempts at stealing your identity, there’s always a chance you’ll take a hit. Maybe you slipped up, or maybe the breach was totally out of your control. No matter how it happened, the moment you realize you’ve been hit with identity theft, there are three things you need to do immediately.

Apple automatically deleted competitors’ music from users’ iPods – Apple removed competitors’ songs from its users’ iPods between 2007 and 2009 supposedly in the name of security. At least that’s what the company is claiming in a class-action antitrust trial against it, brought on by consumers who claim that Apple used its power and influence over the market to discourage competition in the music downloads and iPod scene.When asked why the company engineered this behavior into its software, Apple’s security director Augustin Farrugia claimed they were doing it to protect their users from files that posed a security threat. However when asked why Apple chose not to disclose this information to its users Farrugia painted a clear picture of how the company views its clients, by saying: “We don’t need to give users too much information […] We don’t want to confuse users.”

Say “hello” to Firefox Hello – It’s been a very long time since Mozilla released something that really caught my attention. All that changed when I found out about Firefox Hello. This is Mozilla’s Web RTC feature that, quite frankly, could be game changing. Effectively, Hello is the means for real-time browser-based chat (video and audio), without having to use a service. All you need is the browser. That’s it. Fire it up, click the Hello button, and share the link with the second party. At least it will be that simple, once it’s out of beta. If you want to use it now, it’s not really that hard — and I’ll walk you through the process.

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Initiating a chat with Hello.

Windows 8 and Windows 7 Safe Modes: How to enter and when to use them – The old F8 trick no longer works with all PCs. Here are some alternate ways to enter Windows’s clean, diagnostic Safe Mode,

The 40 Best Windows 8.1 Apps – Windows 8.1 runs the multitude of existing Windows programs, but loads of excellent, modern apps and games show off its potential as a multi-touch tablet operating system. You can either navigate our list via the 40 Best Windows 8 Apps slideshow above or page through this article to view five at a time. We’ve linked the app names to their Windows Store descriptions and download page.

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Wickr brings its self-destructing messages to Windows, Mac and Linux – Just like the mobile version, Wickr’s new desktop apps sends messages that vanish without a trace. But there’s one thing it can’t do on the new platforms that’s pretty important.

Microsoft’s Sway finds the picture for your words by pulling Creative Commons images via Bing – Call it a bibliography for the 21st century: Microsoft’s new Sway app will be able to pull images from the Creative Commons repository via Bing and use them to illustrate stories. Sway already allows you to import images from your own PC, Twitter, Facebook, or a variety of other cloud services. Now Bing has been added as well, and it will return images tagged with a Creative Commons license by default. Sway will even keep track of what you’re writing, and when it comes time to look for an image, it will pre-populate relevant images.

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Six weeks with Google’s Inbox — and why it’s back to Gmail for me – Google’s Inbox brings some useful new tricks to the world of email, but it’s lacking key features that business professionals and power users may need.

Imagination launches powerful $65 Raspberry Pi competitor – This board leaves the Raspberry Pi standing with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 4GB on-board storage, and wireless built-in.

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Google offers DVD Dev Kits for the Internet-constrained – As much as the Internet is a font of knowledge (not exactly wisdom) for many of us, not everyone has the luxury of a good connection to take advantage of what the Internet has to offer. This is an impediment especially for interested Android app developers, as majority, if not all, of Google’s resources, though free, are Internet-bound. At the very least, they require a lot of time and bandwidth to even download. Which is why Google has a new Developer’s Kit offer for those living in “bandwidth challenged” areas.

This New Streaming Service Is Netflix, But Just for Kids – Fuhu, which makes the very successful nabi children’s tablets, is launching a monthly subscription service that will let kids binge on children’s movies, shows, music, e-books and interactive games for $4.99 per month. The service, called nabi Pass, is exclusive to Fuhu’s tablet line, which includes the nabi 2 and the new jumbo-sized Big Tab.

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Nabi pass features videos, games, e-books and educational content

Mail to Self lets you email links to yourself with one tap – This free iPhone app simplifies the process of emailing links to yourself. It adds a button to the sharing panel, saving you from having to enter your email address each time you want to send yourself a link. By the app’s own calculations, it saves you 22 taps each time you use it. Here’s how it works.

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3D print your own ancient artefacts for a home museum – The artefacts in question are actual, real artefacts, from museums in Europe. They have turned into 3D models with the help of Artec, whose Spider and Eva scanners were used to scan artefacts from the Regional History Museum of Varna and the Regional History Museum of Pernik in Bulgaria — a region of great cultural variance and significance in centuries and millennia past. The over 150 artefacts, available through 3D design startup Threeding, include sculptures, gravestones, plaques, reliefs, hosehold items and religious symbols, from prehistoric times through Antiquity, the Middle Ages and into the Early Modern Period.

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Pro tip: How to uninstall stubborn Android apps – Have you ever needed to uninstall an app from your Android device only to find, for some odd reason, that you can’t? What gives? You installed the app from the Google Play Store, so the uninstall process should be a simple matter of going into Settings | Apps, locating the app, and tapping Uninstall. But sometimes, that Uninstall button is grayed out. You can do anything with it. Or can you? Remember, this is Android, so there’s always a way.

Security:

Microsoft slates 7 security updates for next week, resurrects Exchange fix – Microsoft today announced it will release seven security updates on Tuesday, three of them critical, to patch Internet Explorer (IE), Windows, various pieces of the Office suite, and the SharePoint and Exchange server software. The Exchange update was originally intended to ship last month, but Microsoft pulled it at the last minute because of a problem with the installer package for Exchange Server 2013.

Sites certified as secure often more vulnerable to hacking, scientists find – The so-called trust marks are sold by almost a dozen companies, including Symantec, McAfee, Trust-Guard, and Qualys. In exchange for fees ranging from less than $100 to well over $2,000 per year, the services provide periodic security scans of the site. If it passes, it receives the Internet equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval that’s prominently displayed on the homepage. Carrying images of padlocks and slogans such as “HackerProof,” the marks are designed to instill trust in users of the site by certifying it’s free of vulnerabilities that hackers prey on to steal credit card numbers and other valuable customer data. Now, computer scientists have presented evidence that not only supports those doubts but also shows how such seals can in many cases make sites more vulnerable to hacks.

Judge rules that banks can sue Target for 2013 credit card hack – The decision could lead to significant changes in the way the cost of fraud is distributed among parties in the credit card ecosystem. Where once banks and merchant acquirers would have to shoulder the burden of fraud (which is how they have long justified increasing Interchange Fees), now, potentially, the order from Magnuson could pave the way for more card-issuing banks to sue merchants for not protecting their POS systems properly.

Sony Pictures hackers stole 47,000 social security numbers, including Sly Stallone’s – The hackers that crippled the company’s computer systems have now released a vast hoard of Sony Pictures’ private documents onto the internet. An analysis of more than 33,000 documents showed that they displayed passwords to internal computers, credit cards, and social media accounts, as well as the Social Security numbers of 47,000 current and former Sony Pictures workers. Among the affected are Hollywood celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone, Rebel Wilson, and Anchorman director Judd Apatow.

Digital Turbine’s Ignite gives carrier bloatware a boost – Bloatware, a not so loved term used to describe unwanted software on your smartphone or tablet, the mobile equivalent of spam. It has been a long bemoaned blight in the mobile world and yet very little seems to be done about it because the powers that be simply would not allow things to change. In fact, things might get even worse, thanks to Digital Turbine’s new Ignite product, which not only gives carriers the ultimate bloatware tool, it also potentially bypasses Android’s security measures. DT Ignite, if compromised, could very well become a vehicle for malware to get into the system. Heck, given how it works, you might even call Ignite a kind of malware itself.

Justice Department eyeing cyber attack prevention with new unit – Following the massive attack against Sony Pictures and a recent warning from the FBI regarding malicious software, the Department of Justice has revealed plans to create a new unit in its criminal division that will, among other things, aid the private sector in preventing these kinds of cyber attacks in the future. The news was announced by a Justice Department official today, and aims to also ease public distrust of government surveillance efforts that has resulted following the Snowden revelations.

Company News:

Microsoft announces record dividend for second quarter in a row – Microsoft’s board approved a dividend rate of $0.31 per share, an amount equal to last quarter’s payout. It’s been a great fiscal year for the company so high dividend were expected by investors.

Uber raises $1.2 billion for expansion, says they’ll be ‘more humble’ – Uber, that car service you’ve heard so many wonderful thing about lately, has announced they’ve raised an additional $1.2 billion. The added funding likely values Uber above $40 billion, but that’s not the big story this time around. In getting the added funds, Uber is preparing to invest more in the international market. Specifically, Uber wants to expand their footprint in the Asia Pacific region, where they face stiff competition from domestic incumbents. The move would also give them targets besides Lyft.

Microsoft, Barnes & Noble bring their weird Nook “partnership” to a formal end – Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced today that they were terminating their partnership that was in some way connected to the Nook e-reader. The “partnership” never appeared to be anything of the sort. Even development of the Nook app for Windows 8 was planned to be discontinued earlier in the year when the companies changed the terms of their agreement, and nothing more substantial, such as Windows/Nook e-readers, ever materialized.

Games and Entertainment:

December’s Hottest Video Games – Click on the slideshow link to see which of December’s video game releases are worth buying and gifting. As an added enticement, we have video for you to watch for each of the five titles in question. When you’re done, be sure to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below! Happy holidays, and happy New Year!

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BBC iPlayer app is now available on Xbox One – Earlier today, the BBC Sport app finally launched on Windows Phone – and now, the BBC has even more love to share with users of Microsoft’s products. The BBC iPlayer app is now available on the Xbox One – over a year after the corporation first confirmed that it was in development.

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Three weeks—and three patches—later, Halo anthology is finally viable – The most recent Wednesday night patch may not have fixed everything, but we’re happy to report that, on a base level, logging into H:TMCC and diving into public matchmaking options is finally working as expected. But 343’s choice to launch a Halo game without confirmed, working multiplayer capability reveals a developer with its priorities in the wrong place. Fans have certainly relished the chance to relive the entire Master Chief campaign saga, but he became a household name because of Xbox Live combat, not because of pistol-whipping a bunch of easy Grunts.

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Thanks to a much-needed patch, you might actually be able to recreate this moment in multiplayer!

Bean Dreams is basically Super Mario for your iPhone – Platforming games like Super Mario typically don’t work so well on a smartphone — it turns out that touchscreen controls just aren’t precise enough for entertaining running and jumping. It’s why we have so many games like Canabalt, automatic runners where you only need to worry about jumping and not movement. 2012’s Bean’s Quest, meanwhile, went in a different direction, forcing you to focus on movement while controlling a character that’s constantly jumping. It worked surprisingly well, and now there’s a sequel that’s even better.

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Free game alert: GOG’s giving Age of Wonders away to kick off huge Winter Sale – But you’ll have to act fast—only 250,000 copies are being handed out, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Problem With The Internet Of Things – Lightbulbs, washing machines, thermostats, fridges and locks. If you believe the Internet Of Things salespeople, over the next 10 years, everything in your home is set to become connected. Imagine a world where you could turn on your porch light from the office or unlock your door for a visitor, all from a smartphone app. Well, like a growing number of early smart-home adopters, I have seen this future today — and let me tell you, it’s a mess. Blame the interface. Connected slow cookers and smart plugs may be turning on geeks today but, if user experiences are not improved quickly, the smart home dream is at risk of going belly-up.

See the savannah through GoPro’s Lion Mouth Cam video – Joining a series of GoPro videos that detail animal exploits like the pelican cam, the evil-goat cam and Kama the Surfing Pig is the Lion Mouth Cam, in which a GoPro is left on the ground near two curious lions. Lucky for us, one of them chomps down on it (gently) and begins to trot around with the prize. Equally fortunate is that the lion grabs the thing in the right orientation, so we get a nice level look at the savannah and a bit of frolicking with a pride mate. I kind of wish the video went on longer, but still, it’s a quick, fun look at things from inside a lion’s mouth — a place most of us would never to get to visit otherwise (if we continue to be lucky).

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UK gives driverless car cities green light for 2015 – Google may have had its self-driving cars pounding the streets of Mountain View for years now, but the UK is hoping to overtake the US in real-world autonomous vehicle deployment with a quartet of cities announcing plans for the technology. Greenwich, Milton Keynes, Coventry, and Bristol will each operate a driverless car system, funded both by private companies including insurers and the UK government, with projects covering automatic valet parking and private transportation pods.

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Light Bandit sucks sunlight into your home like a straw – The Light Bandit is like a straw for sunlight. You place a largish box in your window and that funnels the sun into a fiber-optic tube that you can place anywhere in the room that needs an extra dose of free light. “The secret for collecting the sunlight is an array of mirrors that move inside the collector (that’s the device that sits on your window),” inventor Duncan Earl told me. “There are nearly 100 of these small mirrors that very slowly rotate to reflect the sunlight toward a focusing mirror — which ultimately concentrates the sunlight into the optical fiber.”

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Something to think about:

“Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats.”

–     U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

“Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct. Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

–     Judge Richard Posner – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Today’s Free Downloads:

FrostWire – FrostWire is a peer-to-peer file sharing program for the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols.

FrostWire is written in Java, and is a fork of LimeWire, another popular Gnutella client. Released under the GNU General Public License, FrostWire is free software.

Features:

Completely Free & Open Source!

Faster Download Speeds

No Spyware. No Adware. Guaranteed.

iTunes™ Compatible!

BTIH Magnet Torrent Downloads

Friendly Online Chat Rooms

Improved BitTorrent Technology

Even More Connections New & Improved Skins

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WinScheduler – Automate repetitive tasks. Use task scheduler to run jobs and macros automatically – at specific time, when a file is changed, when a file is created/deleted, when a computer screen changes, when there is no activity on computer, etc.

WinScheduler allows users to create macros running in all Windows applications and use macro scheduler to run them at defined time or when a specific event occurs. Macro recorder (both keyboard recorder and mouse recorder) and macro editor is included. The WinScheduler macros can consist from keys (keystrokes), mouse clicks and macro commands (file management, FTP, ZIP, encryption, clipboard, etc.). WinScheduler gives users complete Windows automation and error free repetitive tasks processing.

Features:

Easy to use three-pane user interface: Macros are organized to user defined groups (similar to folders in Windows Explorer) for simpler navigation and management. Macro properties are showing in tabbed pane where can be easily modified.

Simple visual macro editing. It is not necessary to know the macro language syntax. Each command and its parameters is visually edited in its own edit window.

Fully featured macro editor with integrated debugger. Easily debug macros and watch variable values.

Smart macro recorder. Macro recorder detect when a window where macro is being recorded is changed and automatically adds code for appropriate window activation. Macro playback reliability is much improved.

Security – macro file is encrypted and thus it is not possible to view its content in other program or file viewer.

Password protection – macros can be password protected so that only authorized persons can view/run/modify them.

haring macros in work group. It is possible to share macros over LAN network so that all employees have access to the same macros.

Anyone can playback macros for free! Generate a file for FreeMacroPlayer. * FreeMacroPlayer is a free utility to playback macros created in Macro Toolworks family macro products.

Application specific macros – the same macro trigger can start different macros in different applications. This allows user to unify computer environment.

VBA-compatible Basic script with script editor, debugger and dialog box editor.

Strong macro language with over 150 commands: Commands covers all aspects of computing.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Operation Auroragold – How the NSA hacks cellphone networks worldwide – In March 2011, two weeks before the Western intervention in Libya, a secret message was delivered to the National Security Agency. An intelligence unit within the U.S. military’s Africa Command needed help to hack into Libya’s cellphone networks and monitor text messages.

For the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.

According to documents contained in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.

The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers.

Ron Wyden introduces bill to ban FBI ‘backdoors’ in tech products – Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is trying to proactively block FBI head James Comey’s request for new rules that make tapping into devices easier. The Secure Data Act would ban agencies from making manufacturers alter their products to allow easier surveillance or search, something Comey has said is necessary as encryption becomes more common and more sophisticated. “Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats,” said Wyden in a statement. “It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person’s whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone.”

Give NSA unlimited access to digital data, says federal judge – The U.S. National Security Agency should have an unlimited ability to collect digital information in the name of protecting the country against terrorism and other threats, an influential federal judge said during a debate on privacy.

“I think privacy is actually overvalued,” Judge Richard Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said during a conference about privacy and cybercrime in Washington on Thursday.

“Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct,” Posner added. “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

Congress should limit the NSA’s use of the data it collects — for example, not giving information about minor crimes to law enforcement agencies — but it shouldn’t limit what information the NSA sweeps up and searches, Posner said. “If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine,” he said.

In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA “carte blanche,” Posner added. “Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you’re talking about national security,” he said. “The world is in an extremely turbulent state — very dangerous.”

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