Monthly Archives: December 2014

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

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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Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 4, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 3, 2014

The Best Antivirus for 2014;  How to recycle your electronics and gadgets;  20 Awesome Tech Gifts for $20 or Less;  How to recycle your electronics and gadgets;  Seven outstanding gifts for the Android fan;  11 Yahoo Mail Tips for Easier Emailing;  How to download audio from any streaming video;  Firefox for Android adds Chromecast support;  Which e-retailers have good user security?  Eight social networks worth a closer look;  Google Chromecast overtakes Apple TV;  That privacy notice you’re posting to Facebook? It won’t work;  Sprint halves rate plans for AT&T and Verizon defectors;  How to limit your PC’s data usage while tethering;  Tweaking.com – Simple System Tweaker (free).

The Best Antivirus for 2014 – Which of this year’s premium antivirus tools is the best to protect your PC? We test them all to help you pick the right one.

20 Awesome Tech Gifts for $20 or Less – Whether you’re a bit short on cash, or you don’t want to make it look like you care too much (one-month relationships, this means you), there are plenty of low-cost gift options. Tiny treasures for $20 and under can totally save someone’s day, and will make most welcome gifts this holiday season.

Seven outstanding gifts for the Android fan in all of us – The holidays are upon up and time to give gifts. For those that are tech-inclined, you could always dole out for a new server (if you’ve got the money), or a sweet gaming laptop (again, if you’ve got the money). Of, if that someone you love, respect, or just want to suck up to is an Android fan or user, you could get them a mobile-centric gift they can add to their Android arsenal. Fear not, intrepid reader, I have collected a handy gift guide for you. Scroll through this list of possible items to see if there isn’t something your Android lover can use.

How to limit your PC’s data usage while tethering – When you absolutely have to have an Internet connection, tethering your laptop to your phone is sometimes your only option. It happened to me the other day after a big thunderstorm knocked out my broadband for a few hours. But even with my multi-gigabyte carrier plan, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having my PC suck down too much of my monthly mobile data allotment. If you find yourself in a similar situation here are a few tips to reduce your data usage while tethering.

How to recycle your electronics and gadgets – From TVs to computers, it’s important to recycle electronics rather than tossing them in the trash. Here’s a handy list of where and how you can get rid of unwanted gadgets.

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11 Yahoo Mail Tips for Easier Emailing – Reportedly over 100 million people use Yahoo Mail every single day—that’s second only to Google’s Gmail. That means it’s time to take a closer look at Yahoo Mail and see what tweaks and tricks are under the surface, waiting to be used. Hit the slideshow for our quick collection of the 11 best Yahoo Mail tips.

How to download audio from any streaming video – Streaming video is great, but sometimes it’s more than you need—or more than you can run, if you’re away from an Internet connection. In this article, we’ll show you how easy it is to download just the audio file from any streaming video and save it to your hard drive for offline listening.

Twitter Releases New Suite Of Anti-Harassment Tools, Promises Faster Response Times For Dealing With Abuse – Twitter this morning has released a new set of anti-harassment tools that make it easier for users to flag abuse on the network, as well as describe more specifically why they’re blocking or reporting a Twitter account. Twitter had made it fairly simple to report spam, but the new tools allow users to report a variety of troubles, including impersonations, harassment, and even self-harm or suicide. In addition, users can report the harassment on behalf of other users, even if they’re not the target themselves, which is a big change.

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That privacy notice you’re posting to Facebook? It won’t work – A new wave of Facebook users is posting a new privacy notice to their Facebook walls, hoping to protect their posts and photos from being used without their permission. Chalk up another hoax notice that doesn’t actually do anything. Users have been posting the hoax privacy post, in one form or another, since 2012 according to the Snopes.com website, which debunks urban myths.

Vimeo re-works mobile site hoping you’ll start using it – Vimeo may not be the video service you go to, but changes introduced today may change that. The streaming media service today is rolling out changes to their mobile website, aimed at getting people watching and sharing more than they ever did via Vimeo. According to Vimeo, the mobile site now does a few things well, but no longer attempts to recreate the desktop experience on your phone or tablet. They’ve even rolled in the ability to save videos for viewing later, should you not have an account or forget to sign in.

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Status Automatically Tells Your Friends What You’re Up To And If Your Phone Is Dead – Your phone is dead. Or you’re driving. Or you’re in a meeting. Your girlfriend/boyfriend/lover-person is trying to call you. You didn’t pick up, so now they’re assuming you’re either a) ignoring them or b) dead. Meet Status, an iOS/Android app built to end that.

Pizza Hut ‘Subconscious Menu’ Reads Your Mind – Can’t decide which toppings to get on your pizza? No worries. Pizza Hut wants to make it easy. The pizza chain has partnered with eye-tracking firm Tobii Technology to develop what it calls the “world’s first subconscious menu,” designed to recognize what you want, even when you don’t know yourself. In development for six months, the menu is completely controlled by your retina. In other words, you can now order pizza with your eyes.

Firefox for Android adds Chromecast support, newly polished theme – Firefox for Android can now mirror your browser to the TV thanks to new support for Google’s Chromecast. This is one of several goodies tucked away inside version 34, which is rolling out in the Google Play Store.

Eight social networks worth a closer look – If you are fed up with Facebook and tired of Twitter you might want a change of social scene. Try these up and coming social networks that are well worth a look for users and brands.

Security:

Which e-retailers have good user security? – Password management company LastPass has compared ten web retail companies based on several user security rules. LastPass comes up with a list of “naughty” and “nice” based on total scores in the comparison (see their infographic below for the cute version of the summary) but the detailed results clarify some of the distinctions. Here are the detailed results. The full LastPass table includes explanations for the individual scores, each of which is out of a possible ten.

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Critical networks in US, 15 other nations, completely owned, possibly by Iran – For more than two years, pro-Iranian hackers have penetrated some of the world’s most sensitive computer networks, including those operated by a US-based airline, auto maker, natural gas producer, defense contractor, and military installation, security researchers said. Compromised systems in the ongoing attacks include Active Directory domain controllers that store employee login credentials, servers running Microsoft Windows and Linux, routers, switches, and virtual private networks. With more than 50 victims that include airports, hospitals, telecommunications providers, chemical companies, and governments, the Iranian-backed hackers are reported to have extraordinary control over much of the world’s critical infrastructure.

Pointing up   So, where is the vaunted NSA (and the rest of the alphabet soup of lying, thieving government agencies), in all of this? Too bloody busy formulating invasive techniques designed to intimidate and control you, it seems. Government security theatre shown once more to be the BIG LIE that it is.

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Geographic distribution of victims, as determined by the global headquarters of the parent company or organization breached.

Making a hash of passwords – After so many high-profile data breaches, it’s time developers learned that storing passwords is a really bad idea. And there is a perfectly workable alternative.

Australians visiting more malicious sites: Trend Micro – Trend Micro’s third-quarter security report for 2014 has found that Australia now ranks fifth in the world for countries with the highest number of visits to malicious sites.

California will send a man to jail for posting nude pictures of his ex online – California just sent its first serious message to people who post “revenge porn” online. The state convicted a man today after he posted topless pictures of his ex-partner on her employer’s Facebook page. He will spend a year in jail and three years in probation. He will also have to stay away from his ex. \California enacted its “revenge porn” law in 2013. The law makes it illegal for anyone to post sexually explicit videos or nude pictures online without first obtaining the consent of the person included in the pictures. Originally the law only covered pictures and videos taken by someone other than the person portrayed in them, but California’s law was expanded in August to include selfies as well.

Company News:

Despite losses, Amazon CEO plans more risk-taking – Jeff Bezos says his company will continue to experiment and tells people to “stay tuned” for more about Amazon’s unpopular Fire Phone.

Google Chromecast overtakes Apple TV to become the second most-used US streaming device – Google’s Chromecast has overtaken the Apple TV to become the second most used streaming device in US households. The search giant’s streaming device now holds 20% of the market, while the Apple TV holds 17%. Despite this, the Apple TV remains in front of Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV stick, which both took up 10% of the market, combined.

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Sonos Scores $130M To Put Smart Speakers In Every Home – Suddenly, music is a business again. After years of wallowing in the post-Napster/iTunes era, streaming is beginning to take hold and everyone’s phone is now an iPod. So while Sonos has been in the smart home audio business since 2002, now’s the time to push for mainstream adoption. That’s why it makes sense that Sonos just raised $130 million, according to an SEC filing.

Google donates 1 million dollars to New York libraries for free WiFi hotspot rentals – The sizable donation will result in approximately 10,000 portable Sprint WiFi hotspots being made available for rental at Queens Library, the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. The donation Google has made will be in addition to the 500,000 dollars already raised from “other” nonprofitable causes. It is hoped that people all over the American city will benefit as a result of the rollout.

Sprint halves rate plans for AT&T and Verizon defectors – The carrier gets aggressive with an offer to slash monthly data prices for new customers switching from Sprint’s biggest rivals.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best iPhone Games You Can Play One-Handed – Far too many iPhone games take two hands to play, rendering them useless if you’re strap-hanging on a subway or bus. For those rush-hour commuters out there, here are the best iPhone games you can download and play with only a single free paw.

Steam takes on Twitch with new broadcasting feature – Valve is moving into video game streaming with a new broadcasting feature for Steam. Launching in beta today, the feature will let Steam users watch other people play games without leaving the service. It sounds like it’s primarily designed so you can watch your friends — Valve advertises it as a way to “watch friends play, with the click of a button” — but there’s also a public option that lets anyone view a game stream, which puts the service in direct competition with Twitch. You can also use it not only from the Steam client, but also from either Chrome or Safari.

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Kickstarter: Play Game Boy classic games directly on your TV in full HD – An exciting Kickstarter project is currently seeking $65,000 as its funding goal. What does it do? It will allow you to play original Game Boy Classic games directly on your TV in full HD.

Assassin’s Creed: Victory – 2015’s AC heads to London – Victorian Era London has been leaked as the next big location for Ubisoft’s yearly Assassin’s Creed release. This game will be sent out to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and is currently code-named – or perhaps named in the end – Assassin’s Creed Victory. Assassin’s Creed Unity was originally code-named Unity, so we could very well see the same sort of situation take hold here. Screenshots of this game have leaked alongside the name and location, showing how far along this game is in development – or at least in presentation.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Windows 10 could prompt upgrades of 600M aging PCs – Millions of PCs are aging, and those who have resisted Windows 8 will likely upgrade to computers with Windows 10. The initial reception to a test version of Windows 10 has been positive, as it resolves many usability issues affecting Windows 8. There are about 600 million PCs that are four years or older, and those systems are ripe for upgrades, said Renee James, president at Intel, at the Credit Suisse Technology Conference on Tuesday.

Data caps, limited competition a recipe for trouble in home Internet service – The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns in a new report that Internet service providers could use data caps to impose higher prices on consumers, especially in markets where ISPs face little competition. But the GAO’s recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission are already meeting resistance. ISPs have argued that consumers could benefit from caps or “usage-based pricing,” because consumers who use small amounts of data would pay less than customers who use a lot more, similar to how the cellular market works. But there isn’t enough competition in all cities or towns to prevent ISPs from abusing data caps, the GAO wrote.

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Modern family.

MULTI elevator travels up, down, and sideways with no cables – All around the world elevators are a very common way of moving people up and down in taller buildings. Elevators are a convenience for many of us and a requirement for the handicapped to move around buildings. A German firm called ThyssenKrupp has an idea for a new elevator that can not only travel up and down, but horizontally as well.

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The Long History of Severed Heads – As far as objects go, nothing beats the decapitated human head. It has amazing nooks and crannies where sensory information is collected. The insides are full of mysterious functions we’re still not quite sure what to make of. Frances Larson’s fascinating new book, Severed, tries to reconcile these conflicting attributes by detailing the long history of the decapitated head as object. Larson takes us through the famed shrunken heads of the Amazon, the ghastly trophies of World War II, all things guillotine, the phrenology craze, and even Ted Williams’s frozen noggin. To find out more, I gave her a call and we talked about all sorts of heady things.

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Something to think about:

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

–      Eddie Cantor (1892 – 1964)

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Simple System Tweaker – Tweaking.com – Simple System Tweaker is designed to bring only the safest tweaks to your system to increase speed and stability.

Windows is setup in a default configuration. By fine tuning your Windows configuration you can increase the speed and snappiness of the operating system. These tweaks are the ones that are safe and shown to cause no side effects with any programs. Each tweak only gives a small performance boost. But they all add up, so the more tweaks you do the more performance you get.

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Detekt 1.8 – Detekt is a free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS, commercial surveillance spyware that has been identified to be also used to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world.

It isn’t just for professionals – if you suspect you are a target of unlawful surveillance, Detekt will provide a simple means to easily test your computers for known spyware.

When the execution is completed, the tool will present the outcome of the scan and will clearly indicate whether an infection was found.

The tool also generates a log file with additional details that can be useful for technical experts to further investigate.

Limitations: It is important to underline that if Detekt does not find trace of spyware on a computer, it does not necessarily mean that none is present. Some spyware will likely be updated in response to the release of Detekt in order to avoid detection.

Windows 8.1 64-bit is not supported.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 2, 2014

Google Says These Are 2014’s Best Android Apps;  I Asked a Privacy Lawyer What Facebook’s New Terms and Conditions Will Mean for You;  When to image a hard drive, and when to clone it;  The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014;  There’s an App for the Next Time Your Car Breaks Down;  Autodesk Software Now Free For Schools And Students Everywhere;  Setting up Linux Mint 17.1 for the first time;  How to turn a Chromebox into a video-streaming workhorse;  5 Must-Have Tech Gadgets for New Parents;  Apple faces trial in decade-old iTunes DRM lawsuit;  Xbox Live Down, Hackers Take Credit;  Get ‘Titanfall’ on Xbox One and all its DLC for $12;  FBI warns of ‘destructive’ malware following Sony hack;  New Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit 1.05 (free).

Google Says These Are 2014’s Best Android Apps – With more than 1 million apps available, parsing through the Google Play Store can be a challenge. Google has provided some help by offering a list of the best Android apps of 2014. Whether you’re looking to stream a movie, learn a new language or manage your business calendar, chances are there’s an app that will fit the bill. Here’s a look at what Google has highlighted as the best of the best.

I Asked a Privacy Lawyer What Facebook’s New Terms and Conditions Will Mean for You – Over the years, Facebook has slowly expanded its terms and conditions, and last month the company announced that come January 1, 2015 all users will have to agree to new Terms of Service (TOS) or be locked out of the site. Since the social network has roughly 1.32 billion users, that is a BIG deal. But just what is in these new TOS? And should you be worried about them? I spoke with Maninder Gill, a partner at London’s Simons Muirhead & Burton and an expert in intellectual property and privacy law to find out just how far Facebook’s new terms go and how it will affect your online life.

SSLPersonas, making the padlock obvious – This blog post will showcase a Firefox Add-on that illustrates the SSL status of a web page in a more visually striking manner than the traditional method.

When to image a hard drive, and when to clone it – Imaging and cloning will both copy the contents of your drive, but the best way depends on whether you’re upgrading or backing up. Here’s when you should use each one.

Combat holiday stress with Buddhify 2 for Android, iOS – Holiday stress got you down? How about job stress? Travel stress? Facing-another-dreary-day stress? Whatever’s ailing your brain, mindfulness meditation can help. A lot. And a great place to start is with Buddhify 2, an app for Android and iOS that costs $2.99, £1.99 or AU$3.79.

Pro tip: Troubleshooting 10 known OS X Yosemite issues – Jesus Vigo reviews 10 documented issues affecting OS X Yosemite and offers troubleshooting tips to work through them.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Voice control comes to the forefront of the smart home – Forget about your phone or tablet — these voice-control products let you control your home via verbal command.

Six Clicks: The best Internet TV gadgets of 2014 – Today, “cord cutting” — switching off from cable or satellite TV to over-the-air (OTA) and the Internet for your television — still isn’t common. But it’s getting there. There is no single best device, but here’s the best of the best.

How to customize your Gmail signature on Android – Customizing your Gmail signature on Android will allow you to let people know you’re mobile, or help pretend you’re at work.

Compulab’s Utilite2 PC is so small it will fit in a Christmas stocking – The Utilite2 is the next generation in the Utilite range, and comes in at 30% smaller than the previous model. It’s a similar size to a typical desktop mouse, with the aluminum case measuring just 85 x 85 x 27mm. Inside you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor running at 1.7GHz combined with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB DDR3-1066 RAM. Storage comes in the form of 4GB on-board flash memory, but also an mSATA slot for up to a 512GB SSD and a microSD port for up to 128GB cards. Ports wise there’s 1x HDMI 1.4a and 4x USB 2.0 slots. WiFi (802.11/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 are also built in as standard.

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There’s an App for the Next Time Your Car Breaks Down – New companies are taking aim at an industry long-dominated by AAA

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Autodesk Software Now Free For Schools And Students Everywhere – The move means that Autodesk software, including AutoCAD, Sketchbook, 3D Max, Maya and more, will be available to around 680 million students and teachers across 800,000 secondary and post-secondary schools, according to the company, without any paid license required. The catch is that some cloud services and support require additional paid subscriptions, but that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to enterprise software sales model these days.

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SnapBox expands its high-quality, low-cost photo-printing options – From peel-and-stick posters for less than a dollar to framed canvas prints, the service lets you quickly turn your smartphone pictures (or camera shots, of course) into artwork and the results are fantastic.

Firefox 34 Launches With Yahoo As Its Default Search Engine – Mozilla today rolled out Firefox 34. While most browser updates these days aren’t all that exciting, this one includes a couple of interesting new features. What most users in North America will notice right off the bat, however, is that this is the first version of Firefox with Yahoo as its default search experience. It’s easy enough to change the default search engine in Firefox, and I would guess that most current users will quickly switch back to Google.

How to prevent Firefox from automatically switching you to Yahoo search – Dreading the notion of Yahoo becoming your default search engine in Firefox later this month? Here’s how to stop that from happening.

Setting up Linux Mint 17.1 for the first time – Linux Mint 17.1 with the Cinnamon 2.4 interface may well be the best Linux desktop to date — and I speak as someone who has been using Linux on PCs for over 20 years now. Mint will run on almost any PC from the last decade. It requires only any x86 processor and 512MB of RAM, although 1GB is recommended. You’ll also need 9GB of disk space, though 20GB is recommended, any graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution, an Internet connection, and a DVD drive or USB port. That’s it. To try it for yourself, just do the following steps.

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How to turn a Chromebox into a video-streaming workhorse – Chromeboxes practically beg to have their HDMI ports connected to televisions, so I asked Asus to loan me one for testing. (The company sent a much pricier Intel Core i3 model, but the cheaper Celeron-based Chromeboxes should suffice for basic media streaming.) The Chromebox quickly became a powerful tool in my media-streaming arsenal, going places that other set-top boxes can’t. But it took some work to whip it into TV-friendly shape. Here’s what I did.

5 Must-Have Tech Gadgets for New Parents – Any American who has ever procreated knows what a racket the baby industry is. So, instead of buying a high-tech bottle-warmer (you know a bowl of hot water does the trick too, right?) get mom and dad something they’ll be able to use for years, not months. (Unless you buy them diapers; you can’t go wrong with diapers.) For fresh ideas, try these five unexpected, must-have gadgets for new parents.

Microsoft and NORAD launch 2014 Santa Tracker – Following closely after Google, NORAD’s 2014 Santa Tracker website is up and running in partnership with Microsoft. As with past years, kids can keep track of Santa’s progress as Christmas nears, and while waiting they can play new games, watch some videos, and more. Microsoft says the latest NORAD Santa Tracker features improved performance over last year, as well as some other particulars we have detailed for you after the jump.

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You’ll be able to buy your next box of Girl Scout cookies online – Buying Girl Scout cookies is about to become much easier. For the first time ever, the Girl Scouts of the USA will accept online orders of Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Savannah Smiles, and other cookies during the upcoming selling season. After nearly 100 years of requiring purchases to be made in person, the Scouts are now giving girls the option of setting up a website where friends and family can order boxes from anywhere in the US.

Google Chromebooks trump Apple iPads in schools, says IDC – While some might contend Google’s dominance in certain markets, like smartphones and tablets, there is one sector where Apple’s products usually reign supreme: education. Initially a source of controversy because of price, iPads have become the gadget of choice for schools upgrading to current technology. But apparently, not anymore. According to IDC’s latest figures, Google’s Chromebooks have surpassed the iPad in shipping numbers as far as schools are concerned, revealing a shifting preference and mindset in the education sector and probably a new source of worry for Apple.

Security:

New ATM Skimmers Connect To The Card Reader Via A Nearly Invisible Hole – A new advance in credit card theft technology has hit the streets and it’s pretty clever. The ATM hackers are now drilling a small hole near the card reader and inserting a bit of electronics that connects to the ATM’s innards. The hole is then covered by a decal and the skimmer fished out once the thieves are ready to take in their haul. Discovered by the European ATM Security Team, the new skimmers are not physically attached to the outside of the machine and instead are hidden inside, out of sight. Thieves still have to use hidden cameras to steal user PIN codes, a fact that is key in preventing credit card theft. Hiding the PIN pad with your free hand is imperative no matter where you are.

New evidence points to North Korean involvement in Sony Pictures hack – As Sony Pictures employees still struggle to get back online, new evidence is emerging that suggests North Korea may be behind the hack. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that researchers investigating the hack have found the malicious code to be almost exactly the same as the code used in a March 2013 attack on a series of South Korean banks and broadcasters, an attack widely believed to have been conducted by North Korea. Re/code had previously reported that Sony was investigating a North Korean connection, but this new analysis is the most definitive evidence unearthed so far.

FBI warns of ‘destructive’ malware following Sony hack – The US agency has warned US businesses to stay alert due to the discovery of some particularly nasty malware in the wild — while North Korea refuses to deny involvement.

Uber reportedly gave a job applicant full access to customer travel records – Citing an anonymous source, The Washington Post reports that an Uber job applicant was given unfettered access to the company’s customer ride database after interviewing at its Washington DC offices last year, allowing him to see the travel records of anyone — including family members of politicians. The experience was time-limited, though The Post says that it lasted for “several hours” after the interview concluded.

Phishing scam that penetrated Wall Street just might work against you, too – Researchers have uncovered a group of Wall Street-savvy hackers that has penetrated the e-mail accounts of more than 100 companies, a feat that has allowed them to obtain highly valuable plans concerning corporate acquisitions and other insider information. FIN4, as the group is known, relies on a set of extremely simple tactics that in many cases has allowed them to remain undetected since at least the middle of 2013, according to a report published Monday from security firm FireEye

Officials seize 292 domain names to protect consumers during holiday season – The holiday season is rife with online rip-offs. In a move to protect consumers, law enforcement officials have seized 292 domain names for sites that allegedly were selling counterfeit goods. The sites were being used to illegally sell counterfeit merchandise including luxury goods, sportswear, electronics, pharmaceuticals and pirated goods like movies and music, Europol said Monday.

Company News:

Apple faces trial in decade-old iTunes DRM lawsuit – The past is coming back to haunt Apple, as a nearly 10-year-old class-action antitrust lawsuit accusing the company of trying to monopolize online music distribution is headed to trial. The Apple iPod iTunes antitrust litigation accuses Apple of violating U.S. and California antitrust law by restricting music purchased on iTunes from being played on devices other than iPods and by not allowing iPods to play music purchased on other digital music services. Plaintiffs are seeking about US$350 million in the case.

Microsoft acquires email app Acompli – After accidentally announcing it a little early, Microsoft is officially confirming it has acquired email startup Acompli. The surprise acquisition means Microsoft is picking up a powerful email client for iPhone and Android in another move that further cements CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on cross-platform technologies.

PayPal Reports Record-Breaking Number Of Black Friday Shoppers And Sales On Mobile – The move to offer online shoppers earlier access to Black Friday deals – beginning as early as Thanksgiving Day this year – resulted in record-breaking numbers of consumers shopping on mobile, reports PayPal. Based on its online commerce data, the company reports having seen a 47% increase in PayPal global mobile payment volume on Thanksgiving compared with Thanksgiving 2013, and a 62% increase for Black Friday 2014 over last year. Meanwhile, the company also saw a 43% increase in the number of customers shopping through PayPal mobile this Thanksgiving, and a 51% increase across the same metric on Black Friday.

Zenefits Faces Shutdown In Utah For Giving Its Cloud-Based HR Software Away For Free – Zenefits has become the latest startup to face regulatory scrutiny in a market it serves, as it is now faces opposition from the Insurance Commission of Utah. The Commission is taking the company to task essentially for giving its cloud-based HR software away for free, which the regulator says violates local laws and is unfair to traditional insurance brokers.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Live Down, Hackers Take Credit – Hackers belonging to the “Lizard Squad” claimed to have taken down Xbox Live on Monday evening, apparently by means of a DDOS attack. The hacking group, which Attack of the Fanboy noted has been targeting gaming servers for several months, tweeted a short message at 8:37 p.m. Eastern celebrating their latest exploit: “Xbox Live #offline.”

Dragon Age: Inquisition Review – I seldom spend 100 hours on anything these days, let alone a video game, but I spent at least that much time with Dragon Age: Inquisition, the latest sprawling epic RPG from BioWare, studio that brought us Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Mass Effect series. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third game in its high fantasy franchise, and it’s easily the most ambitious. It’s also one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played, and for a fan of this kind of conversation clicker, that’s saying something.

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Great deal: Get ‘Titanfall’ on Xbox One and all its DLC for $12 – “Titanfall,” one of the best-reviewed original multiplayer shooter in years, can now be purchased with all its downloadable content for $12 with an Xbox Live Gold account.

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Kicking it old-school: How EverQuest, RuneScape, and Quake stood the test of time – These PC games have been around far longer than most. Developers behind Quake, EverQuest, and RuneScape explain how they keep gamers coming back after all these years.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Europe has good reasons to fear Google – What the European Parliament is proposing sounds like Ayn Rand’s worst nightmare. Let’s take Google, one of the best and most cohesive set of web services we have, and fragment it into smaller businesses. Let’s introduce friction and bureaucracy between the various parts so that lesser companies with worse products can have a chance to compete. It feels like a classic case of over-regulation — penalizing a successful company for the crime of being better than everyone else — however its fundamental premise is not wrong: Google is too powerful.

The first true color image of Comet 67P looks like Mars – Though the Philae lander did (most of) its job and has gone into hibernation, Comet 67P is no further from the collective consciousness of armchair astronomers across the world. A few images of the comet have been around the block since Rosetta first reached space rock, but they’ve all been in a drab greyscale. Rosetta’s not yet done with 67P, though, and has taken the first true color image of the rock, replacing the grainy, grey image that has been burned into our brains with something more vibrant.

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Coming soon: Murder by Internet – Security experts now believe that the Internet of Things will — eventually — be used for murderous purposes. You can dismiss these concerns as hype or exaggeration, but many security community predictions about earlier Internet-related risks have become true. As businesses raced to develop Web platforms, security experts imagined massive breaches and thefts of personal and financial data in every way possible. There’s no question they were right.

Net neutrality: Five myths, and the real facts – Regardless of where you stand on the net neutrality debate, one thing doesn’t help: misleading or confusing statements. Unfortunately there are plenty of them. We’ve teased out the facts behind five net neutrality myths. It won’t resolve the debate, but it’ll help you understand what’s really going on.

Nature bends to scientists by making archives free – Research studies published in respected scientific journal Nature are now free to read online, publisher Macmillan announced today. The studies are free to read using a software platform Nature describes as “similar to Apple’s iTunes,” but only accessible if you have a direct link provided by a subscriber, and kept in a format that prohibits copying, printing, or downloading. Nature says the shift comes as those who offer scientific funding are demanding that research is made free to read.

Obama Proposes $263M Fund for Police Body Cameras – President Obama on Monday proposed spending $263 million to help equip the nation’s law enforcement officials with body cameras. The move comes amidst unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. There have been conflicting reports about what actually happened that day in August, and many have suggested (including our own Sascha Segan) that requiring police to wear body cameras would reduce the likelihood of police misconduct or provide officers with proof of their actions if there is a dispute.

Two-phone standoff after cop stops man for ‘walking with hands in pockets’ – In Michigan, a police officer stops a man who apparently was doing nothing wrong. They both pull out their mobile phones and film each other. Uploaded originally to the Facebook page of Brandon McKean on Thanksgiving Day, it’s yet another bracing reminder of what sometimes goes on between authority figures and those they deem suspicious. African-American men, for example.

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Lumia 1030 leaks: bigger body, 50-megapixel camera – There’s nothing like a Lumia to get your brain excited about massive smartphone-based camera technology. This morning we’re getting a look at the successor to the Lumia 1020. Nokia’s first Windows Phone with a massive camera at its back, the Nokia Lumia 1020 was originally released with a 41-megapixel sensor. This new Lumia 1030 is said to run with a 50-megapixel sensor, taking the biggest photos any smartphone will have taken yet. By a large margin. And only really beating Nokia’s previous release – now made by the same crew, but owned by Microsoft instead.

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Something to think about:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

–      Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – While we’re still riding high on Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit winning the V3 Security Innovation of the year award, we are also happy to announce the general availability of the new Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit 1.05.1.1014.

While with 0.10 beta we did a complete re-write of the underlying service architecture, this build is a complete re-write or refactor of the protection DLL. This refactoring greatly improves the overall stability and reduces most known conflicts with third-party applications as detailed in the Known Issues list.

In addition we’ve added a whole new protection layer. The new Layer0 called “Application Hardening” now includes protections such as DEP Enforcement, Anti-HeapSpraying and BottomUp ASLR Enforcement. The other protection layers have also been improved by including ROP protection and StackPivoting 64bit mitigations in Layer1, 64bit caller mitigations for Layer2 and new application behavior mitigations for Layer3. As an example of Layer3, we’ve added a mitigation for the much talked-about recent PowerPoint zero-day vulnerabilities CVE-2014-4114 and CVE-2014-6352. After some testing we saw that the mitigation suggested by Microsoft for EMET could cause system instabilities and conflicts with third-party applications. We have therefore designed a much more stable mitigation for these type of vulnerabilities.

This 1.05 version also introduces a 14-day trial mode. There are some other UI improvements that can be seen immediately, such as a re-designed shielded applications counter which counts unique instances of applications rather than total number of processes, traybar balloon messages when protection is stopped, or different UI designs depending on the build (Free vs Premium vs Corporate), among others.

TeamViewer – Desktop sharing has never been easier: With TeamViewer you will be able to connect to the desktop of a partner anywhere on the Internet. This is the complete TeamViewer with install and uninstall support.

TeamViewer also works in the other direction: Show your own desktop to a partner over the Internet and illustrate your own developed software, presentations or solutions.

Remote Control without Installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services – The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

NOTE: Free for non-commercial use only.

Features:

Remote Control without Installation:

With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote Presentation of Products, Solutions and Services:

The second TeamViewer mode allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Show your demos, products and presentations over the Internet within seconds – live from your screen.

File Transfer:

TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders from and to a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Works behind Firewalls:

The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses.

If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about firewalls: TeamViewer will find a route to your partner.

Highest Security Standard:

TeamViewer is a very secure solution. The commercial TeamViewer versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and RC4 session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

No Installation Required:

To install TeamViewer no admin rights are required. Just run the software and off you go…

High Performance:

Optimized for connections over LANs AND the Internet, TeamViewer features automatic bandwidth-based quality selection for optimized use on any connection.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feds dig up law from 1789 to demand Apple, Google decrypt smartphones, slabs – The FBI has made it no secret that it hates Apple and Google’s efforts to encrypt files in your smartphones and tablets.

Now court documents have emerged showing just how far the Feds are willing to go to decrypt citizens’ data.

The paperwork has shown two cases where federal prosecutors have cited the All Writs Act – which was enacted in 1789 as part of the Judiciary Act – to force companies to decrypt information on gadgets.

The Act, which was signed into law by none other than George Washington and later revised in the 20th century, gives the courts the right to…

“issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

That’s a pretty broad remit, but the Feds think it’s just the thing to force Apple and others to break down privacy protections.

Device fingerprinting tech: It’s not a cookie, but ‘cookie’ rules apply – Website operators that turn to new “device fingerprinting” technologies to track internet users’ behaviour in place of “cookies” have to obtain users’ consent in accordance with the same EU legal standards that apply to the use of cookies, an EU privacy watchdog has said.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Security:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 RacistsGettingFired.tumblr.com, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Features:

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.

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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.

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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.

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