Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 14, 2015

Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds;  Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years;  How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer;  Tor Browser Bundle (free);  UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ;  HP Stream 11 Review;  Five free Android apps for tracking your time;  Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car;  Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches;  New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords;  Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities;  A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches;  Google enters domain hosting business;  Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015;  Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man;  Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data;  Advanced SystemCare 8 Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Cory Doctorow – What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry – David Cameron says there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read” — and no doubt many in his party will agree with him, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots.

UK PM makes Apple CEO Tim Cook a global privacy champ – Cameron’s fighting talk puts Apple’s Tim Cook in the firing line, transforming the human rights-supporting CEO into a poster child for privacy in a frightened age. Experts are already warning Britain’s unpopular PM that his proposals are unworkable, saying he is “living in cloud cuckoo land.” Independent computer security expert Graham Cluley told The Guardian: “It’s crazy. Cameron is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that this is a sensible idea, and no it wouldn’t be possible to implement properly.” Experts condemn the plans as “idiocy,” “ill thought out” and “scary” and warn they undermine consumer security, the tech industry and British business.

Pointing up   Cameron, is a “walking/talking poster child” for the notion that intelligent people (I assume that he’s bright), are equally at a loss for common sense as the rest of us. Truth is – this man (just like his compatriots who are tasked with high level technology decision making), is a techno-moron. That in itself should scare the hell out of you – no matter the country you live in.

Under the hood of I2P, the Tor alternative that reloaded Silk Road – On the surface, I2P (which originally was an acronym for “Invisible Internet Project”) is similar in many ways to the Tor Project’s anonymizing service. Like Tor, I2P encapsulates and anonymizes communications over the Internet, passing Web requests and other communications through a series of proxies to conceal the location and identity of the user. Like Tor, I2P also allows for the configuration of websites within the network that are concealed from the Internet at large. Called “eepsites,” these equivalents to Tor’s hidden services can only be reached by using the anonymizing network or a portal site that connects to the I2P proxy network. But there are some significant differences between Tor and I2P beneath the surface, from the technologies they are based on to how the networks are implemented.

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.


Facebook brings Amber Alerts to news feeds to boost child safety – Through the new arrangement, NCMEC will be able to post Amber Alerts in the news feeds of Facebook users who are within range of a search area. The alerts will include key information on the missing children, including photographs and physical descriptions, as well as descriptions of the alleged abductors.

How to Make Your Android Battery Last Longer – Along with the usual battery-drainers — Wi-Fi, GPS and video streaming — Android phones come with some unique energy gluttons, such as live-updating home screen widgets. However, Android phones let you fine tune how your battery is used to a level not possible with iPhones. Here the key ways you can extend your Android phone’s battery life without having to change the way you use the phone (too much).

Actually, Windows 7 is still supported for another 5 years – Contrary to headlines you may have read today, Microsoft isn’t dropping support for Windows 7 today. The operating system is still supported and will continue to receive security updates for at least another five years. Today is the last day of Windows 7’s “mainstream support” period, with the operating system now entering “extended support.” But the implications of this for most of us are negligible.

Microsoft BUILD 2015 registration opens January 22 – Microsoft has announced that registration for BUILD 2015 will open on January 22nd which is one day after their Windows 10 event that takes place in Redmond, Washington.

Five free Android apps for tracking your time – If you’re an independent contractor or a small shop in need of an easy method of keeping tabs of work-related time, your tablet or smartphone and a free app might be all you need to ensure you’re billable time is up to date and ready for invoicing. Of course, not all time-tracking apps are created equal, but there are plenty of apps in the Google Play Store that offer all the features you need — and in some cases, more than you need. But which apps are best suited for the job? I tested a lot of them to find five I consider to be at the top of the list. Let’s dig in and see if any of my picks will suit your purposes.

Firefox Hello eases video chat by emphasizing permalinks over logins – In Firefox 35, users can assign a name to each conversation, and then return to it at any time from the Hello menu. So if you’re chatting with grandma, she can always reach you through that same link instead of having to create a separate link every time. In case someone’s taking a while to jump in on the video chat, starting a conversation now opens a separate window that shows you in the camera view. You can now navigate away from that window, and Firefox will alert you when the other person gets online. And while you don’t have to log in to use the service, signing in with a Firefox account lets you create a contacts list of other Firefox users. The latest update gives the option to import contacts straight from Google.


HP Stream 11 Review: When entry-level computing isn’t so bad – With Chromebooks slowly gaining popularity for their ease of use and low price, Microsoft and HP both need entry-level Windows machines to take Google head-on, and to make sure that their premium products and services are not overrun by free options from Google. The HP Stream is one of the most interesting such devices to be launched recently – but is it any good? And how does Windows run on these low-end specs?

Verizon Vehicle turns your old ride into a connected car – Verizon Vehicle includes a variety of features: roadside assistance, automatic notification if your car is suspected to be in an accident, a vehicle locator (so you can’t get lost in a parking lot), stolen vehicle tracking, an SOS button for emergencies, and car diagnostics, among other things. Many (if not most) of these features are available from a modern car’s built-in systems, but Verizon’s targeting a potentially huge market: older cars with tech-savvy drivers. Sales kick off around April 10th, with availability in brick-and-mortar retailers expected toward the end of the year. The service will run $14.99 a month (hardware included) for the first vehicle and $12.99 for each additional one.


Visual Studio Community 2013 is now available as part of Github Student Developer Pack – Student or not, you may be one of those who want to learn programming but cannot afford the high cost of the tools required. GitHub Developer Pack has you covered, and now includes Visual Studio 2013.

President Obama presses for high-speed Internet for rural Americans – President Barack Obama wants more Americans to have access to affordable broadband, no matter where they live. The president will deliver that message Wednesday from Cedar Falls, Iowa, according to Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and an assistant to the president on economic policy. Zients on Tuesday discussed the president’s initiatives, including incentives to build out the needed infrastructure, coalitions of universities and municipalities to promote broadband, and an effort to eliminate laws that stifle competition.


Patch Tuesday included one “critical” and seven “important” patches, IE dodges the bullet – It’s that “time of the month” for Windows where patches get applied to plug vulnerabilities found in the OS. This time around eight were delivered and none affecting Internet Explorer.

Adobe patches critical Flash security vulnerabilities – Adobe patches nine vulnerabilities — four of which are considered “critical” — in order to protect against hackers who could exploit the bug to take control of an affected system.

New “Skeleton Key” malware allows bypassing of passwords – Dell SecureWorks has discovered a new piece of malware dubbed “Skeleton Key” which allows would-be attackers to completely bypass Active Directory passwords and login to any account within a domain. Interestingly, Skeleton Key does not actually install itself on the filesystem. Instead, it’s an in-memory patch of Active Directory which makes detection even more difficult. Even worse, this access is not logged and is completely silent and, as a result, extremely undetectable. Identifying the malware using traditional network monitoring also does not work due to the fact that Skeleton Key does not generate any network traffic. It’s not all doom and gloom though. The good news is that, in its current form, the malware does not survive a system reboot.

AMD plugs firmware holes that allowed command injection – Chip maker AMD has patched holes across its firmware lines that could allow hackers to inject malware. Czech programmer Rudolf Marek reported the holes in the Trinity, Richland, Kaveri, and Kabini silicon series ahead of a disclosure at the Chaos Communications Congress. AMD’s System Management Unit (SMU) firmware code within x86 processors did not run adequate checks prior to execution, allowing Marek to inject his own commands. Marek told attendees to ask their mainboard vendors to push the fixed AGESA to BIOSes. “Tell your vendors for a fixed AGESA (AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture),” Marek said during the talk aimed at encouraging more of the low-level security analysis. “This is the only way to push vendors to update BIOSes for older platforms.”

A $10 USB charger with built-in wireless keylogger means more security headaches – Think that keeping hackers out of your digital fortress is already hard work, or that that BYOD is a security timebomb waiting to blow up in your face? Well, here’s something new for you to worry about – a $10 USB charger that features a built-in wireless keylogger.

Corel software vulnerabilities let attackers execute malicious code on your PC – The vulnerable products are CorelDRAW X7, Corel Photo-Paint X7, Corel PaintShop Pro X7, CorelCAD 2014, Corel Painter 2015, Corel PDF Fusion, Corel VideoStudio PRO X7 and Corel FastFlick, the Core Security researchers said in an advisory published Monday. Other versions might be affected too, but they haven’t been checked, they said.

Company News:

Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agree to settlement in employee-poaching lawsuit – Four of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Google and Apple, have agreed to a new settlement deal in an antitrust lawsuit over alleged agreements the firms had not to poach each others’ employees. Adobe, Intel, Google, and Apple reached an agreement on Tuesday four years after the lawsuit, which accused the companies of limiting job mobility, was brought against them by workers in the tech sector. The full cost of the new settlement has not yet been revealed, but in court documents seen last year, judge Koh said that a new settlement would have to total at least $380 million. The companies involved in the case have yet to comment on the agreement, but Reuters says a court filing to be published “imminently” will offer a detailed explanation of the new settlement.

Apple camera patent takes aim at GoPro’s market – The Apple Watch is coming in a few short months, but a new patent granted to Apple details it may work with more than an iPhone. The patent awarded to Apple is for a sports camera that can be mounted, much like a GoPro. The patent also tells us the camera will work underwater, and can be controlled remotely via a smartwatch. The camera patent includes another patent Apple has, which they purchased from Kodak in 2013. News of the patent sent GoPro investors scurrying.

Google enters domain hosting business with Google Domains – Currently only available to users in the US, Google is offering to host domain names from $12 a year, which will vary based on the top-level domain that users choose. According to Google, Domains will help users find, buy, transfer, and manage domains and directly connect with website builders including Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. As part of signing up, features that will be made available to users include email forwarding, the ability to customise sub-domains, and access to management tools. Users will also be provided with private registration at no additional cost, Google said.

Tinder taps ephemeral messaging market with Tappy acquisition – It’s likely that Tappy’s expertise will be used to expand Tinder Moments, an update to the dating app released last June that lets users broadcast photos to matches. Using Moments, users can draw on their photos and add captions and filters — all in the hope that an extra flash of social media peacocking will attract the right date. Tappy’s engineers could expand this functionality (perhaps adding direct photo messaging) and maybe even help Tinder take its relationship with its users up a level — from dating app to social media messenger.

Apple and Ericsson in court over LTE wireless patent royalties – It’s been a while since we have seen a major lawsuit between major technology firms, but we have a new one today. Apple has filed suit against Ericsson over LTE patents that Apple claims aren’t essential to industry cellular standards. Apple alleges that Ericsson is demanding excessive royalties for the patents in question.

Sony reportedly open to sale of mobile, TV divisions – Among all the turmoil you’ve read regarding Sony recently, a larger narrative is taking place. The company’s ability to turn a solid profit has come under scrutiny the past few years, which prompted them to sell their VAIO brand. According to a new report, Sony is also entertaining a similar move for TV and mobile. They’re entertaining the sale of just about every segment they do business in, according to sources. That could spell trouble for Sony’s various arms, or signal a rebirth.

Games and Entertainment:

Rockstar Delays GTA V for PC Launch Until March – Lame news, PC gamers. Rockstar on Tuesday announced it needs a few extra weeks to finish up the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V. The PC version was originally scheduled to come out on Jan. 27 — more than a year and a half after the game’s original release. Now, Rockstar has pushed the launch back another two months — until March 24.


Dying Light preview: Zombies are even more stomach-churning in virtual reality – I just spent the last twenty minutes or so playing Dying Light in virtual reality—alternately creeping through darkened streets attempting to avoid the walking dead and then sprinting terrified across rooftops trying to escape the throng behind me. I’m a little sweaty. I’m a little nauseous. And I’m a lot excited.


Cord-cutting trends and predictions for 2015 – In 2014, pay-TV subscriptions recorded their first full year of decline, and studies show that more people are abandoning cable or never getting it in the first place. The shift to streaming has put pressure on TV networks such as HBO and Showtime, who are finally seeing the light and making plans to offer standalone online video services. Sony even announced a streaming-only TV service, and while it may not be cheaper than cable, it will do away with cable’s most unsavory practices. So what can we expect in 2015? Here are my predictions.

World of Warcraft may be going free-to-play – For over a decade, Blizzard’s epic fantasy adventure World of Warcraft has utterly dominated the MMORPG landscape. With over 12 million subscribers at its peak in 2010, it’s not even a competition. But while the cash it’s raked in from monthly subscriptions is enough to rival the economies of small countries, long-term growth can also be as important as short-term profits, and it looks like the next step for World of Warcraft might be growing into the world of free-to-play. The rumor first appeared after dataminers combed through the upcoming Patch 6.1 and found files referring to a new “Veteran Edition.”


The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Let us know what you think about the movies on our most-bootlegged film list. If you’ve seen those flicks and think they’re worth watching by any means possible, share your opinions in the comment section below. We’d love to hear them! If you have strong thoughts about piracy, on either side of the equation, let us know that, too. And remember, watching bootleg streams and Torrents is illegal, folks.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bloke in Belgium tries to trademark Je Suis Charlie slogan – An, er, enterprising individual has attempted to register the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” as a trademark in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Benelux Trademarks Office told El Reg on Tuesday that it had received an application in Dutch to register the slogan just one day after the staff of Charlie Hebdo were murdered in an extremist attack last Wednesday. Many have been quick to condemn the attempt to cash in on the atrocity, although this is not the first such attempt, as T-shirts bearing the slogan were for sale in Paris just days afterwards.


Local Motors 3D prints a car at the Detroit Motor Show – Local Motors is pioneering a 3D-printing technology in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory that squeezes carbon-reinforced ABS plastic through an ink-jet like nozzle so, bit-by-bit, an entire car chassis can be created. The carbon fiber gives the plastic a lot more strength. The company’s Strati concept took about 44 hours to be printed and consists of about 1,100 pounds of plastic, which costs about $5 per pound. The car’s battery has a range of between 40 miles and 60 miles depending on the driving conditions. Before the cars hit the street, they will have to pass safety crash tests.


4 Reasons You’re Not Sleeping (and What You Can Do About Them) – Unfortunately, getting good sleep is a struggle many of us face, and it’s not entirely a modern dilemma. Yes, blinking cell phones, bright alarm clocks, and dinging computers are relatively new in human history and may make the bedroom less relaxing and more taxing, but other factors can interfere with your sleep pattern, too. This month, get serious about getting more shut-eye. Here are some real solutions to the most common sleep obstacles.

Watch This Crazy Swedish Cartoon Meant To Teach Kids About Their Bodies – This video from a Swedish kids’ show is meant to teach children about their body parts. You won’t be able to get the tune out of your brain, and you won’t be able to un-see it, but it’s totally worth it.


Everyone’s Angry About a Swedish Music Video Featuring Penises and Vaginas – Some people are obviously concerned about little kids being exposed to genitals, but others complained that the video promoted restrictive gender norms and transphobia.

Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man – Two Albuquerque, New Mexico police officers were charged Monday with suspicion of murder after cop body cams filmed them killing a knife-wielding homeless man who was camping in nearby city hills. James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man, died in March after he was shot by a shotgun, bombarded with shots of nonlethal bean bags and was the target of flash-bang grenades following an hours-long standoff with police. The police said they were dealing with Boyd because he was breaking the law by camping in the Sandia Mountains above the city.


This is just one of 40 shootings, 27 of them fatal, by police officers in Albuquerque since 2010.

Pointing up    Unbelievable – a Brazilian death squad in America! Let’s see some old fashioned Western frontier justice that Americans seem to rave about. Hang each and every one of these bastards from the nearest tree!

Je Suis James Boyd!

A website called PuppySwap has an idea for you: Just trade your grown dog in for another puppy! – There are swap services for everything from housing to Lego sets, why not pets? Sounds great, right? No, I didn’t think so either. And it’s likely that most people who visit won’t be too fond of the idea either — and that’s exactly the point. is an ironic website launched by the Toronto Humane Society to bring to light the fact that each year thousands of dogs are turned over to shelters by people who simply weren’t in for the long haul.


Something to think about:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

–        George Orwell

Pointing up  This observation is especially applicable to the Cops charged after police body cams capture them killing homeless man report. A clear cut case of murder which will be defended by those who support brutality at every level.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Prey – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

How it works:

Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it. Next


100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect – If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather – Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy – Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements – Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe – Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware – Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Full auto updater – Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.


Advanced SystemCare 8 Free – Advanced SystemCare 8 Free takes a one-click approach to protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 150 MILLION downloads worldwide, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. It’s easy to use and 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses.

Why waste money on expensive “registry cleaners” to fix your PC when Advanced SystemCare Free can repair, tune up, and maintain it for you – for FREE!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus – This generous mentality of mercy, forgiveness and understanding – like Obama’s decree that we Look Forward, Not Backward to justify immunity for American torturers – is reserved only for political officials, Generals, telecoms, banks and oligarchs who reside above and beyond the rule of law.

David Petraeus, the person who Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” was hired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the teaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him.

Obama revives call for immunity to companies sharing threat data – Dusting off a 2011 to-do list, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to propose legislation to protect companies sharing computer threat data with the government from prosecution, according to reports.

In 2011, Obama had recommended legislation that would provide for companies to voluntarily share cybersecurity information with the federal government and had proposed offering them immunity when sharing cybersecurity information with the Department of Homeland Security.

“At the same time, the proposal mandates robust privacy oversight to ensure that the voluntarily shared information does not impinge on individual privacy and civil liberties,” according to a brief circulated by the White House at the time. But Congress did not pass this and some other cybersecurity proposals outlined in 2011.

The hack in November of Sony Pictures and earlier breaches of the point-of-sale systems of retail giants like Home Depot and Target have however brought in a new sense of urgency to the measures.

DOJ report sheds light on FBI’s role in overseeing NSA’s PRISM surveillance – A declassified Justice Department report shows that the FBI conducts oversight on the NSA’s PRISM email surveillance program. Since 2009, the FBI has been ‘retaining copies of unprocessed communication gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes.’ Regarding surveillance, Attorney General Holder spoke about monitoring homegrown terrorists and prosecuting former CIA Director Petraeus for pillow talk.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 14, 2015

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “Two Albuquerque, New Mexico police officers were charged Monday”
    I recall in the late 1960s a town in southern New Mexico the citizens arrested the Police Chief and the entire police force and put them in the jail until State police came for them, that was, of course, a different America, but that helped to keep LEO honest.
    Now we have BIG BROTHER and LEO who view US, the citizens as the enemy.
    Speaking of Big Brother seeing us as the enemy, how about that Nobel Peace Prize winner, he was so good he won it before he took office:
    Unnecessarily ‘broad legal immunity’

    I always take heart from In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues, and you powerful personal remarks regarding freedom, I hope you are right that in the long run we will prevail, but the enemy has TREMENDOUS power and a mainstream media that is its propaganda arm.

    Best to you as always,

    • Hi Fred,

      I’ve mentioned in the past that we need to take a close look at enabling citizens to lawfully resist illegal behavior perpetrated by law enforcement. The difficulties in establishing a set of criteria would be a Herculean task – but, not insurmountable. Sure as hell – something needs to be done – from the NYC cop union which continues to attempt to bully and intimidate the city’s mayor, to the murderous police overreactions we’ve become accustomed to seeing on a daily basis.

      The overriding question, it seems to me is – why have Western governments chosen to step back from a confrontation with a police culture of brutality and extraordinary violence? Obviously, it suits the purpose of the economic system politicians represent.

      I know that those of us who cherish individual liberties, may be disheartened at the current rate of progress – but, the history of human resistance to totalitarianism should act as our encouragement.

      It’s true enough to say that if one kicks a dog often enough, at some point the dog will tear your fu*cking leg off. We’re not yet at that point – but, don’t think governments aren’t aware of the possibility.