Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 10, 2014

PC Infected? Which Antivirus Does the Best Cleanup?  Dashlane, LastPass Launch Automatic Password Changers;  How to search for old Facebook posts;  Super-Easy Way To Beat Twitter’s 140 Character Limit; Most Popular Videos on YouTube in 2014;  YouTube Revamps Apple TV App;  Best Linux desktop of 2014: Linux Mint 17.1;  Two stealthy Linux malware samples uncovered;  Electronic Arts offers SimCity 2000 Special Edition for free;  Adobe fixes Flash zero day;  These Are the Best Facebook Games of 2014;  A Laymen’s Guide to the Finance Industry’s Cryptic Jargon;  Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking;  The 8 biggest lies the CIA told about torture;  USBFlashCopy (free).

PC Infected? Which Antivirus Does the Best Cleanup? – It’s essential that your antivirus utility detects all kinds of malicious software, including very new zero-day threats. Indeed, tons of independent lab tests specifically measure how well antivirus products detect viruses and other malware. However, it’s just as important that your antivirus manages to correctly remove the malware it does detect. A new report from AV-Comparatives focuses specifically on the malware-removal abilities of 17 popular antivirus tools.

Dashlane, LastPass Launch Automatic Password Changers – It seems like there are now daily reports of security breaches, from banks to retailers. And every time one of these hacks are reported, we are urged to change our passwords. But as our digital footprints expand, changing codes on every single site we use can be a labor-intensive process. New, separate services from password managers LastPass and Dashlane aim to simplify the task of changing those passwords.

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Here’s a Super-Easy Way To Beat Twitter’s 140 Character Limit – Twitter’s 140-character limit for tweets is rooted in its origin as a text-based service: SMS messages have a 160-character limit, so tweets were limited to 140 characters, leaving 20 for users’ handles. But it’s been years since most of us used text messages as our primary means of tweeting. Instead, it’s all about desktop or mobile apps. And yet that 140-character limit hangs around, taunting us. Well, here’s a crafty way to break that limit

How to search for old Facebook posts – A new feature is rolling out now, enabling users to search for specific posts, photos or videos on Facebook.

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These Were the Most Popular Videos on YouTube in 2014 – A cute puppy playing with a Clydesdale, an overly flexible iPhone 6 Plus and a deranged robotic baby were among the videos we watched most on YouTube this year. The Google-owned website has released its annual list of the most popular videos of the year, and they cover a wide range of topics. At the top of the charts is the much-feared Mutant Spider Dog, a video in which a Polish prankster dressed his dog up as a giant tarantula and terrified unsuspecting passerby.

Home networking explained, Part 1: Here’s the URL for you – As the guy who reviews networking products, I generally receive a couple of emails a day from readers, and most of them, in one way or another, are asking about the basics of networking (as in computer-to-computer; I am not talking about social media). Instead of saying the same thing over and over in individual messages, I’ll talk about the basics of home-networking, in layman’s terms, in this series.

Hands-on with the Dropbox Mobile app’s new managing, editing, and syncing features – The vastly improved mobile app lets you do almost everything the desktop app can do. Microsoft Office integration is the biggest highlight.

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Dropbox Carousel deletes phone photos once they hit the cloud – The next generation of cloud storage from Dropbox has been revealed – deleting your phone-stored photos after they’ve been uploaded to their webspace. There are two ways to look at this. One is that you’re freeing up space on your smartphone by allowing Dropbox to hold them for you using Dropbox Carousel. The other is that you’re trusting Dropbox to have a perfect copy of your files before deleting them from your phone, also trusting that they’re only deleting said photos after the upload is complete.

Free up space on your hard drive using your cloud storage’s selective sync option – This tip is not for the privacy cautious, but if you need to make space on your hard drive try offloading infrequently used files to the cloud.

If You’re Running Windows 10 You May Have To Reinstall Office – Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul, one of the most prominent members of the Windows 10 team, announced today that a security update to the current build of the operating system will not install if a user has Office already installed. Instead, users of build 9879 of Windows 10, if they want to install the security fix, may have to uninstall Office, and later reinstall it.

YouTube Revamps Apple TV App – With the update, you can now watch every single video on YouTube from your Apple TV, meaning there will no longer be any gaps in the video library. On the downside, however, you’ll also have to deal with ads on the platform for the first time, according to Re/code. There’s also a new predictive search feature, which should make it easier to find specific videos you ant. Besides that, you can also now subscribe to your favorite channels from the app.

VLC’s Android media player app finally exits beta and hits the Play Store – VLC has long been the go-to media player on PCs with its native support for just about any audio or video format, and now it’s finally hitting Android in stable form. If you’re running a newer tablet your hardware should be able to handle the update just fine, enabling you to watch and listen to all your music, movies, and network streams with minimal hassle. VLC for Android also includes a file browser, so you can easily navigate and find anything saved on your device.

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Best Linux desktop of 2014: Linux Mint 17.1 – Summary: The new version of Mint may be the best Linux desktop ever. Heck, it may be the best desktop operating system ever, period.

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Netflix testing button that sends reminder tweets – With all the new content Netflix is adding and has planned for the coming months, keeping track of what’s new and shows you’ve been watching might be difficult. Potentially arriving in the future to help with that is a new feature Netflix is testing that leverages Twitter, something many of us check daily — a “Tweet Me a Reminder” button, which does exactly what it suggests. The reminder button seems to have first surfaced via Twitter user Rich Greenfield, who posted the screenshot below showing the feature.

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The Pirate Bay goes offline after police raid server room – Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay was taken offline on Tuesday after a raid by Swedish police. Officers investigating the decade-old file-sharing portal’s alleged copyright infringements targeted a server room in Stockholm, seizing “several servers and computers,” according to veteran file-sharing case prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad. The site only reappeared hours later, at a new address hosted in Costa Rica, and with regular 500 internal server error codes. At present, searching or browsing for torrents on the new site is impossible.

Google’s Chromecast coming to India – The launch of the Internet giant’s streaming device is the latest example of Google’s push into the second most populous country in the world.

Security:

Patch Tuesday updates aim for Exchange and Explorer flaws – Overall, Microsoft has issued seven security bulletins for December, including three that are critical, covering security vulnerabilities found in Windows (both the server and desktop editions), Office, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Internet Explorer.

Adobe fixes Flash zero day, plus bugs in Acrobat, Reader and ColdFusion – The Acrobat updates are regularly-scheduled but the Flash and ColdFusion updates are a surprise. One Flash vulnerability is being exploited in the wild.

Hackers Reportedly Warn Sony Pictures Not to Release The Interview – An open letter from hackers who claim to have infiltrated Sony Pictures Entertainment warned studio executives not to release The Interview, a comedy that imagines a U.S. assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Two stealthy Linux malware samples uncovered, following in Windows variants’ tracks – Security researchers have uncovered two Linux variants of a complex piece of Windows malware, which is known to have previously targeted embassies, the military, and pharmaceutical companies. The new Linux malware follows the discovery of a family of Windows malware known as Turla, which researchers at Kaspersky and Symantec uncovered earlier this year. The malware is thought to be government-created and originating from Russia.

Company News:

Qualcomm laying off about 600 employees globally – Qualcomm, the world’s largest maker of computer chips for mobile devices, is laying off roughly 600 employees worldwide, as it plans to refocus its business into new areas, a company spokesperson confirmed to CNET on Tuesday. The layoffs come amid a difficult stretch of regulatory investigations into the company’s business practices and Qualcomm’s softer-than-expected fiscal outlook for 2015.

Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for ‘smuggling’ public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home – Comcast-supplied routers broadcast an encrypted, private wireless network for people at home, plus a non-encrypted network called XfinityWiFi that can be used by nearby subscribers. However, Toyer Grear, 39, and daughter Joycelyn Harris – who live together in Alameda County, California – say they never gave Comcast permission to run a public network from their home cable connection. Grear – a paralegal – and her daughter claim the Xfinity hotspot is an unauthorized intrusion into their private home, places a “vast” burden on electricity bills, opens them up to attacks by hackers, and “degrades” their bandwidth.

California cities sue Uber for misleading customers about driver background checks – Los Angeles and San Francisco are suing ride-sharing startup Uber for making misleading statements and breaking California law, the latest in a series of setbacks for the company. In a statement, the two cities’ district attorneys say that Uber misled passengers about the effectiveness of its background checks, misrepresented fees for safety checks and airport tolls, operated in airports without permission, and did not get state approval for the system it used to calculate pricing.

Judge Shuts Down Uber In Spain, Pending Taxi Association Court Action – We might be at the point of losing count of the number of places Uber is being shut down at this point. Now, after a series of protests by taxi associations in Spain, a Madrid judge has ordered ride-sharing app Uber to cease all activities as of today. The judge accepted the ‘cautionary measures’ put forward by the Madrid Taxi Association, pending a future court case the organisation wants to file against Uber.

Supreme Court says Amazon doesn’t have to pay workers to wait in security lines – Amazon warehouse workers have not been happy for years now with their need to stand in line waiting for a security check. The checks are necessary to ensure no products are being stolen, but with the amount of staff and thoroughness of the checks, it is claimed they take up to 25 minutes, all of which is unpaid. So Amazon warehouse staff started a lawsuit, and today they lost. The Supreme Court has ruled that security screenings fall under the same category as a number of other tasks workers carry out without being compensated.

Apple to open new tech center in Japan – Apple will open a technology development center just outside of Tokyo, a move that will bring it closer to parts suppliers. “We’re excited to expand our operations in Japan with a new Technical Development Center in Yokohama which will create dozens of new jobs,” Apple spokesman Takashi Takebayashi said via email. He wouldn’t say why Apple is building the facility but stressed it is not an R&D center.

Games and Entertainment:

Uncharted 4 gameplay shown for first time, looks off the charts – At Sony’s PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas, Naughty Dog showed off nearly 16 minutes of gameplay footage. Unlike the initial teaser where all we really see is Drake’s now-older, beat-up face in a pre-rendered scene, we get to see Nathan in action, and in-engine.

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Electronic Arts offers SimCity 2000 Special Edition for free – Long before Electronic Arts got its hands on the SimCity franchise, there was the inaccurately named SimCity 2000. This iconic title debuted on MacOS in 1994, and continued being quite popular all the way through the actual year 2000 on PC, DOS, and a variety of game consoles. Now you can grab this piece of gaming history on PC for free. EA is graciously giving SimCity 2000: Special Edition away. They say there’s no catch, but there is: you have to use EA’s Origin platform to play it.

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The Brilliant and Depressing Reality of ‘Black Mirror’ – A few days ago, the U.K. import Black Mirror arrived on Netflix. In typical “less is more” fashion, it’s only six episodes over two seasons, and I watched them all. While Black Mirror is technically science fiction, many of the show’s storylines feels dangerously close to becoming reality in the not-too-distant future.

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These Are the Best Facebook Games of 2014 – Facebook is out with its annual roundup of the year’s top Facebook games, with one game taking the ultimate crown.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Trustev Uses Fraud Detection Software To Crack Down On Internet Trolls – While this first anti-trolling release is intended for major news sites (it’s controlled via an analytics-like web app), it’s possible for other platforms and publishers to integrate the system as well. The possibility of wider deployment has put trolls on full alert: in the GamerGate community on 8chan (the site GamerGate moved to after 4chan decided they were too awful and permanently banned the topic), there’s currently a discussion thread discussing how to argue against Trustev’s tool on censorship grounds.

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Watch ISIS Surveillance Drones Film the Battlefields of Aleppo – A video uploaded today to an ISIS-linked YouTube account shows what appears to be footage captured by aerial drone. The four-minute clip features peaceful images of an annihilated Aleppo, as the drone hovers hundreds of feet in the air, far from the chaos, cut with visceral battle footage of fighters running in between the bombed out streets below.

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Everyone should learn to drive in a simulator – Many new drivers are learning the same way they did decades ago, but there’s a better way.

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This is the most hilarious local TV weather report we’ve ever seen – What do you do when you’re a local weather reporter and the computer that animates the forecast for the green screen freezes up? Yes, that’s right: you get help for your friends. Other than some grumbling, the first 80 seconds or so is actually pretty normal. At that point, the audience is introduced to local news hijinks — silly but nothing too out of the ordinary. It isn’t until 2:15 that we reach the zenith of local news surrealism. It’s better than 1,000 holographic Wolf Blitzers.

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CoolChip Technologies Is Redesigning The Humble Computer Fan – If there’s one part of a PC that doesn’t get enough love, it’s the fan. These small plastic spinning pieces cost almost nothing and keep hundreds or thousands of dollars of advanced technology from cooking itself. For many, these fans are becoming increasingly unnecessary. Chips built for phones, tablets and even some laptops are designed to use small enough amounts of power than they can dissipate heat without blowing a bunch of air all over everything. But for users who demand power — gamers, video editors and the like — fans are still a reality that has to be dealt with every day.

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A Laymen’s Guide to the Finance Industry’s Cryptic Jargon – Wall Street can therefore seem like a very private club. But in fact anyone can participate; the barriers to entry are as much linguistic as they are financial. With that in mind, here’s a primer on the A to Z of the financial multiverse.

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Something to think about:

“A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

–        Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

USBFlashCopy – USBFlashCopy is a small Windows utility to back up your flash drives and storage cards on the fly. It runs in the background and copies files from inserted media to a safe location on your hard drive.

Features:

Nothing to install: Simply download and run. No installation, no registry entries.

Small: USBFlashCopy is a really small utility taking no more than 300KB of space, it doesn’t require additional libraries, frameworks or anything else to download and install.

Portable: Run USBFlashCopy from any folder or drive.

Simple and clever: USBFlashCopy automatically detects when you insert a media and copies its content to a safe location. By default, it creates a sub-folder for each removable media in “My DocumentsRemovable Media Backups”.

Supports Profiles: Create profiles with separate settings for different flash sticks or storage cards. You can change default settings for new or rarely used medias.

Copies newer files only: USBFlashCopy copies only newer or updated files, you can optionally keep old versions of the files.

Move your settings: USBFlashCopy keeps its settings in an INI file, automatically created in the folder it is running from. Copy USBFlashCopy.ini along with executable to keep your settings.

For experienced users USBFlashCopy can run completely invisible. No icons, no progress bars, no prompts, it just does the job. This feature requires purchasing a key.

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JetAudio – JetAudio is integrated multimedia software made up of a single compact rack. Not only does it play various music and video files, it also has features such as CD burning, recording, and conversion to other file formats.

You can create your own Internet broadcast by using JetCast, provided with JetAudio, and you can play all major file formats, including WAV, MP3, MP3Pro, OGG, WMA, MPEG, AVI, WMV, MIDI, RM, and video and audio CD tracks.

Supports All Major File Formats

Audio CD burning

Recording

Tag Editing including multiple file tag editing

Multi-channel sound ouput

Crossfade

Skin

Media Center window with Device Manager

Subtitles

Internet CD Database

Convenient album management & Playlist

Utilities

Conversion

Audio CD Ripping

Internet Broadcasting

Various sound effects

Plus many more features!

Be careful that you choose the right download button!

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Display Driver Uninstaller – Display Driver Uninstaller is a graphics driver removal tool that helps remove all remnants of AMD, NVIDIA and Intel graphics card drivers including old registry keys, files, folders and driver stores.

Intel, AMD and Nivdia drivers can normally be uninstalled with the Windows Uninstall Programs window. However, often the standard uninstall fails or does not completely delete the old video card drivers. This can cause issues installing new / updated drivers.

After running Display Driver Uninstaller the program will make it as if you are about to install a new video driver on a fresh, clean install of Windows.

Display Driver Uninstaller makes many system changes and the author has wisely built in a function to help you remember to create a new system restore point before running the cleaner so you can revert your system if have problems. However, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use system restore prior.

So if you having issues installing a new driver or uninstalling an old one, Display Driver Uninstaller may do the trick for you.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking – Microsoft’s fight against the US position that it may search its overseas servers with a valid US warrant is getting nasty.

Microsoft, which is fighting a US warrant that it hand over e-mail to the US from its Ireland servers, wants the Obama administration to ponder a scenario where the “shoe is on the other foot.”

“Imagine this scenario. Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany,” Microsoft said. “They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.”

In a Monday legal filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, Microsoft added that the US government would be outraged.

“This case presents a digital version of the same scenario, but the shoe is on the other foot,” the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its opening brief in a closely watched appeal.

The appeal is of a July court decision demanding that Microsoft hand over e-mail stored on an overseas server as part of a US drug trafficking investigation. Microsoft, which often stores e-mail on servers closest to the account holder, said the e-mail is protected by “Irish and European privacy laws.”

The 8 biggest lies the CIA told about torture – The newly released Senate report has already drawn attention for its harrowing view of the details of US torture, but it also comes at the end of a long and frightening effort to keep those details secret. As the new report makes clear, CIA officials lied to Congress over and over in defense of the program, whether it was to make torture seem more effective, less brutal, or more legally sanctioned than it really was, making it impossible for the legislature to provide effective oversight.

Here are the eight biggest lies, noted with frustration over and over again throughout the report. It’s an incomplete list, but an important one to keep in mind if there’s ever going to be a meaningful check on the power of US intelligence agencies.

The man who did the most to fight CIA torture is still in prison – Today, John Kiriakou is in a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, serving two and a half years for disclosing classified information — confirming the name of a CIA agent to a New York Times reporter. Facing 30 years, he took a plea deal for 30 months. He has five children, and it’s been difficult to see them while he’s been inside. He’s scheduled to move to house arrest in February, before his sentence finishes up in May.

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Already, it seems unlikely that anyone of the interrogators revealed today will have to face the same troubles. The same Attorney General that put Kiriakou in jail has already declined to prosecute any of his colleagues. The international courts have called for prosecutions, but it’s unlikely they’ll come to anything. It seems absurd to say that what Kiriakou did was more criminal than what the interrogators did, but politics has never shied away from the absurd.

It’s worth remembering Kiriakou not as a call for retribution or even justice, but just to make sense of what happened. Why were we so committed to useless atrocities? Why did it take six years to give up practices that had been outlawed for decades? Why was it so hard to stop doing the wrong thing? The sad answer is that when someone did the right thing, we gave them hell for it.

DOJ: Companies need to trust gov’t on cybersecurity – The U.S. fight against cybercrime would be more effective if companies put more trust in the country’s law enforcement agencies, a top U.S. Department of Justice official said.

The DOJ and private companies already cooperate on many cybercrime investigations, but more trust is still needed, said Leslie Caldwell[cq], assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

“There’s a tendency among the public, including private-sector technology companies, to a little bit conflate what the Criminal Division does with what other government agencies might do,” Caldwell said Tuesday during a forum on cybersecurity in Washington, D.C.

Revelations over the past year and a half of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance have caused “an erosion of trust and a kind of a demonization” of the government, she said. Investigations by the DOJ’s Criminal Division require search warrants and other court supervision, Caldwell added.

“I would like to see a little more feeling of trust” from private companies, she said, when asked how companies can help with cybersecurity investigations.

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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 10, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: The man who did the most to fight CIA torture is still in prison

    It’s simple really. If you are part of the “elite”, you can virtually get away with murder. If you are not part of the elite and wish to expose their crimes (like Kiriakou), then expect to get smashed for stepping out of line.

    This man does not belong in jail. But the elite do belong their, and hopefully they will go there, for a very long time.

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      While shoveling a foot of snow out of the driveway this morning, my neighbour and I were discussing that very issue. Money = Justice. No money = you’re SCREWED. I see this around me day in and day out – in a first world country, no less.

      Politicians, in particular, seem to get a free pass on fraud, misappropriation of funds (theft in any language), election fraud, etc. The Police, on the other hand, seem to routinely get away with murder – literally.

      Occasionally, we see a sacrificial “elite” lamb offered up to assuage public outrage. But, not nearly enough of them – and, generally any consequences are minimal at best. And yet, we take it. Crazy, crazy, crazy.

      Best,

      Bill