Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 19, 2015

The Best Free Google Chrome Extensions;  Your PC needs these 22 free, excellent programs;  Easily enlarge images on the Web without clicking;  12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Survey says security products waste our time;  No excuses: Apps to get you in shape in no time;  Online hacking services are becoming more popular;  These Will Be the Hottest Xbox One Games of 2015;  These are the top-selling games of 2014;  US, UK agree to closer collaboration on cyberwarfare;  Glary Utilities 5.17 (free);  The Justice Department kept a secret record of all calls in and out of US;  Turkey threatens Twitter.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Free Google Chrome Extensions – Chrome—now in version 39!—remains a four-star tour de force for Web surfing, with full HTML5 support and speedy JavaScript performance. And, like Firefox before it, it’s got support for extensions that just make it even better. Its library of extras, found at the Chrome Web Store, more than rival what Firefox has had for years. In addition, the store has add-ons to provide quick access to just about every Web app imaginable. Rather than having you stumble blindly through the store to find the best add-ons, we’ve compiled a list of 90 you should consider.

Your new PC needs these 22 free, excellent programs – More than a mere blank slate, a new PC is a fresh opportunity—a collection of components that, with the right software installed, could accomplish anything from balancing your household budget to helping to cure cancer. Yes, stocking your PC is an intensely personal task. Even still, some programs are so helpful, so handy, so useful across the board that we heartily recommend them to everybody. These are the programs you want to install on a new PC first.

Easily enlarge images on the Web without clicking – On social media, the larger version of an image is usually just a click away. However, if you’re shopping on a site like Amazon, once you click it’s easy to get distracted by other recommended products. It’s similar to what happens if you read Wikipedia and get wrapped up in vaguely connected topics. As an alternative to clicking each image, check out the Imagus for your Chrome or Firefox Web browser. You can easily see the enlarged version of each image without a single click.

You can encrypt your hard drive, but the protection may not be worth the hassle – A single encrypted folder is good enough for most people, but a completely encrypted drive provides the strongest protection. Windows can leave bits of encrypted files in places like the swap file. A thief or fence wouldn’t take the time to find them, but a sufficiently skilled, motivated, and well-funded hacker might. But that level of security comes at a cost.

12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – Facebook is a magnet for some of the top engineering talent in the world, so it stands to reason that the company would boast one of the world’s most complex and multi-faceted websites. It rivals many standalone software apps with the sheer amount of personalization, tweaks, and tinkering available to visitors. In fact, there are so many things you can do on that you probably don’t know about them all. So, take a look at our slideshow and awaken your inner power user social super star who is just waiting to break out!

Microsoft releases Skype 4.0 along with free group video calling for Samsung Smart TVs – Microsoft has announced a new version of Skype for TVs, so if you happen to be the owner of a Samsung Smart TV, things just got better. The two companies have been working together to bring a better experience to the app for Samsung’s HU9000 line of Ultra HD curved Smart TVs (2014), which have a built-in video camera. The new version brings improvements to video compression and support for full HD (1080p) video calls, as long as you have an internet connection of at least 1Mbps symmetrical bandwidth. For group video calling, the team recommends at least 2Mbps download and 512Kbps upload.


Hands-on with Neil Young’s Pono music player – Detecting the supposed higher quality of sound in the new music player and companion music store can be a mind-twisting experience.

No excuses: Apps to get you in shape in no time – The hot new fitness trend is getting in a workout in a short amount of time, from as little as seven minutes. These apps can help you fit in a workout anytime, anywhere with a bit of guidance, coaching and motivation. Often, you’ll only need your body and a bit of space for the exercises. So drop the excuses, pick up your phone, and take a few minutes to get your heart pumping.


7 Minute Workout – Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Does Microsoft offer the best Android Office suite? (Android Office app showdown) – Microsoft recently expanded the availability of its Office preview for Android tablets so it is appropriate to take another look at how you can perform word processing, work with spreadsheets, and create slideshows on Android tablets.

IRS opens Free File portal for e-filing of tax returns, but only for those of modest means – E-filing federal tax returns is free for people whose needs are simple. Get all the details here–and easy access to a variety of free tax software from top providers.


Survey says security products waste our time – For anyone who has freaked out when an antivirus alert popped up on their screen and spent time researching it only to find out it was a false alarm, a recent survey will hit home. A survey of information-technology professionals published on Friday found that the average large organization has to sift through nearly 17,000 malware alerts each week to find the 19 percent that are considered reliable. The efforts at triage waste employees’ time—to the tune of a total estimated annual productivity loss of $1.3 million per organization. In the end, security professionals only have time to investigate four percent of the warnings, according to the survey conducted by the market researcher Ponemon Institute.

UK teen arrested for PlayStation, Xbox hackings over Christmas – Friday saw the arrest of an 18-year-old man in the UK for his involvement in the hackings that took down both the PlayStation and Xbox online gaming networks for several days last month starting on Christmas. The incident saw a number of headlines after the holiday, as gamers were unable to get online for an increasingly frustrating period of time, and hacking group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility. The unnamed teen was arrested by police near the city of Liverpool on suspicion of not only hacking, but also “swatting.”

US, UK agree to closer collaboration on cyberwarfare – The countries’ intelligence agencies will work together and conduct cyberwar games later this year to test the security of financial institutions.

Online hacking services are becoming more popular – A couple weeks after news was reported that the hacking group “Lizard Squad” had released an online stress testing service or DDoS tool, another hacking website has appeared in the news. Enter, “Hacker’s List”. Hacker’s List appears to match hackers with people looking to retrieve forgotten passwords, take down unwanted personal photos online, and gain access to company databases – among other things. In less than three months of operation, over 500 hacking listings had been put out for bids on the site with hackers competing for the individual jobs All of this is done anonymously, with the site’s operator collecting a fee on each completed assignment. The site offers to hold a customer’s payment in escrow until the job is done.

NY Post, UPI Twitter hacks see Pope announcing WWIII – Friday afternoon saw the Twitter accounts of both the New York Post and United Press International (UPI) hacked and announcing that China had fired a missile on a U.S. ship, along with the Pope declaring the incident the start of World War III. The compromised accounts of the two news agencies posted tweets about a Federal Reserve emergency meeting and other banking matters. Fortunately the agencies quickly realized their social network accounts had gone awry, and took back control.

Flawed Verizon My FiOS mobile app exposed email accounts – Verizon fixed a serious vulnerability in its My FiOS mobile application that allowed unfettered access to email accounts, according to a developer who found the problem. Randy Westergren, a senior software developer with XDA Developers, looked at the Android version of My FiOS, which is used for account management, email and scheduling video recordings.

Company News:

Apple opening five new China stores over five weeks – The company, which started its retail-store foray in China in 2008, plans to build up the number of locations there over the next two years.

Virgin, Qualcomm Want to Deploy 648 Internet Satellites – The Virgin Group and Qualcomm will invest in OneWeb, Ltd., a venture from former Googler Greg Wyler that plans to build, launch, and operate low-Earth-orbit satellites that will provide Web access to areas of the globe that are currently without service. Eventually, OneWeb wants to deploy 648 micro satellites that will provide a “constellation” of Internet access surrounding the Earth.

Elon Musk is building 700 satellites for worldwide internet connectivity – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg are superstars in the conversations that touch on today’s entrepreneurs in the world of computing and internet advancements. Now we can safely add Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, to that list with his newest endeavor to connect the entire world to the internet. A $10 billion project to launch 700 satellites into space is currently underway. Confirmed at a SpaceX convention in Seattle yesterday, Musk told Bloomberg Business that his agenda to connect the world is true, and even sees stretching his space internet system all the way to Mars. The space-driven internet service could bring service to even the most isolated parts of the world.

Amazon got likely illegal tax deal in just two weeks, EU Commission says – Luxembourg needed just 11 working days to approve a probably illegal tax deal allowing to allocate a large part of its European Union profits to one of its companies that does not have to pay tax, the European Commission said. The Commission’s preliminary investigation showed that Amazon received illegal state aid, gaining an unfair economic advantage over other companies by paying less tax. In the document, the Commission explains how Amazon set up a structure of several companies to avoid paying corporate taxes in the EU.

This Is How Xiaomi Keeps The Cost Of Its Smartphones So Low – Xiaomi’s combination of well-spec’ed phones and low price tags drove the company to over 60 million sales last year. That progress saw it replace Samsung as China’s top-selling smartphone company and become the world’s third top selling phone maker in the process.

Google reportedly in talks to buy mobile-payments company Softcard – The Internet giant could be hoping to take another stab at going head-to-head with Apple, Amazon, PayPal, Square and a slew of other tech giants looking to grab a slice of the payments pie.

Games and Entertainment:

These are the top-selling games of 2014 – With 2015 brings another exciting year in gaming. Although there are sure to be some surprises introduced this year, there are already a couple games that are garnering quite a bit of attention for 2015. But before we move on, let’s not forget to revisit the top ten games of the year for 2014. Without further ado, here are your top 10 games for 2014:

Dota 2 now has over 10 million players – Valve surprised the gaming world last year by hosting the most lucrative e-sports tournament in history, with a prize pool of more than $10 million, and now it has the player base to match it. More than 10 million people now play Dota 2 (at the time of this writing, exactly 10,313,855 players), making it one of the most popular online games in the world. Within its genre, Dota 2 is only surpassed by the insanely successful League of Legends, which at this time last year had around 67 million people logging in each month.


These Will Be the Hottest Xbox One Games of 2015 – Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, excluding rumored 2015 projects with as yet indeterminate timeframes (hello Crackdown, Gears of War, Scalebound and Phantom Dust!)


Off Topic (Sort of):

Neil deGrasse Tyson shares meaning of life with 6-year-old, nails it – It’s an impossible question to answer — unless you’re Neil deGrasse Tyson. Watch the famed astrophysicist take on a young boy’s loaded query, and knock it out of the park.


China opens door for full foreign ownership of e-commerce companies – New Chinese reforms allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their e-commerce companies in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone.

Dolfi “washing device” uses ultrasonic tech to clean clothes – The Dolfi is being bid as a next generation washing device, and with it users are able to clean their clothes in the sink or just about any area that can hold water and clothing. Detergent is mixed in with the water and dirty clothes, then the Dolfi is plugged in and placed in the water. Once turned on, Dolfi will glow blue and use ultrasound to create microscopic jets of water, essentially, which clean dirt and stains out of the fabric. The idea itself isn’t new, with similar methods being used to clean things like jewelry, but it hasn’t commonly been available for clothes washing purposes.


Ice fishing with fireworks gets explosive results – Before you decide to take up the sport of extreme ice fishing for yourself, know this is probably very illegal (and just plain stupid) where you live anyway. Plus, we haven’t seen too many restaurants serving exploded fish, and we can’t imagine that’d be a delight to eat.


This real-life mech suit only costs one million dollars – Giant robots are like the bald eagles of Japan, a big source of national pride, but for too long they’ve been confined to fiction like manga and anime. Realizing that the future is now, Japanese robotics company Suidobashi Heavy Industry has finally made our Gundam dreams a reality with Kuratas, a functioning mech suit you can buy on Amazon right now for just one million dollars.


Fight between science and creationism continues at ESPN – Technically Incorrect: After an ESPN baseball writer tweets his creationist views, he is suspended. This week, basketball color commentator Bill Walton tries to persuade play-by-plan man Dave Pasch about science. Pasch is unimpressed.

Something to think about:

“There are three types of people: sheep, wolves and guard dogs. Only the last category has honor.”

–      American Sniper

Today’s Free Downloads:

Glary Utilities 5.17 – Glary Utilities is a smart and reliable application that offers numerous powerful and easy-to-use system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC.

It allows you to clean common system junk files, as well as invalid registry entries and Internet traces. You can manage and delete browser add-ons, analyze disk space usage and find duplicate files.

You can also view and manage installed shell extensions, encrypt your files from unauthorized access and use, split large files into smaller manageable files and then rejoin them.

Furthermore, Glary Utilities includes the options to optimize memory, find, fix, or remove broken Windows shortcuts, manage the programs that start at Windows startup and uninstall software. Other features include secure file deletion, an Empty Folder finder and more.

All Glary Utilities tools can be accessed through an eye-pleasing and totally simplistic interface.


Disk Cleaner – Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner – Scans and cleans up your registry to improve your system’s performance.

Shortcuts Fixer – Corrects the errors in your startmenu & desktop shortcuts

Uninstall Manager – Uninstalls programs completely that you don’t need any more

Startup Manager – Manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer – Monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Context Menu Manager – Manages the context-menu entries for files, folders…

Tracks Eraser – Erases all the traces,evidences,cookies,internet history and more

File Shredder – Erases files permanently so that no one can recover them

Internet Explorer Assistant – Manages Internet Explorer Add-ons and restores hijacked settings

File Encrypter and Decrypter – Protects your files from unauthorized access and use.

Disk Analysis – Shows you the disk space usage of your files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder – Searches for space-wasting and error producing duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder – Finds and removes empty folders in your windows

File Splitter and Joiner – Splits large files into smaller manageable files, and then rejoin them.

Process Manager – Monitors programs that run on your PC and stop spyware and Trojans.

Windows Standard Tools – Provides direct access to the useful windows default functions.

Right Click Enhancer – A control panel for your right click menu on windows. Add most used applications and folder shortcuts in your right click menu. Manage these right click shortcuts by creating right click sub menus and putting them into these sub menus. Easily remove or disable right click menu entries added by other applications. Save valuable time by using right click tweaks that provides easy to use quick operations directly in your right click. Save time in copy paste operations by adding new folder shortcuts in send to menu. Add new file types into New menu to ease the operation of creating new files. Add templates files to new menu so you can get preformatted files upon creating new files and start working on it in less time.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Justice Department kept a secret record of all calls in and out of US – The Department of Justice was keeping a detailed record of American calls long before more recent NSA programs, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The database is referred to in a court filing obtained by the Journal as part of a larger Iranian exporting case, incidentally revealing a decades-long program that captured phone records for every call in and out of the United States. The program began in the 90s, continuing until it was shut down in August of 2013 amid reports of DEA phone record collection. While the program was hinted at in earlier reports, this is the first time it has been publicly acknowledged by the government.

The Hypocrisy of U.S. Cyber Policy – The breakneck growth in internet usage over the past two decades has forced policymakers to confront a host of challenges, from how to regulate the sharing economy to who owns the infrastructure behind the “tubes” themselves. While tempers have flared on a number of these issues, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to policymakers. The transformation of our society has been so complete and rapid, we simply can’t expect the rebuilding of our laws to be a simple proposition.

Yet, when it comes to national security and cyber policy, the United States is risking not just a few years of confusing policies that make life difficult albeit manageable, but possible destruction of the very essence of what makes the internet such a vital resource in the first place.

At the core of this dilemma is our vision for the internet. Is the internet an open space, a site for commerce and creativity that is lightly regulated, non-militarized, and universal around the world? Or does it become a tool of power, a weapon that can be wielded against other nations and groups with impunity?

The Government Retreats — a Bit — in Its Assault on Press Freedom – On Monday, federal prosecutors announced they would not call reporter James Risen to testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced (but did not publish) revisions to the policy governing when the Department of Justice can seek to question journalists or obtain information from media organizations about their sources. Maybe the Obama Administration has finally realized how important a role a free press plays in our democracy.

The Justice Department is finally making it harder for police to seize property – Today, Attorney General Eric Holder took a major step towards dismantling the drug war. As reported by The Washington Post, Holder is making major changes to the federal asset seizure program, barring federal sanction of local seizures of a suspect’s property unless it poses an immediate risk to public safety. Police can still seize guns and explosives, but the widespread seizure of cash and vehicles is no longer licensed by federal law, cutting off a legal avenue that has flooded billion of dollars into state and local police departments since 2008. Some local seizures will still be allowed under state and local laws, but the federal Equitable Sharing program, by far the most generous and simplest forfeiture path, will now be officially closed.

Asset forfeiture has been a controversial aspect of the drug war, allowing property be seized without a search warrant and forcing suspects to prove their innocence in order to retrieve it. The system led to perverse incentives for many police departments, including a Florida town of less than 3,000 people that pulled in millions of dollars a year by luring in out-of-state drug buyers for phony deals. A Washington Post investigation in September found police had made cash seizures of more than $2 billion since 2001.

Turkey threatens Twitter to censor nation’s newspaper account – It seems like it wasn’t that long ago when the Turkish government was trying to make the social network services Twitter and YouTube illegal in the country for not playing along with their censorship requirements. Oh, wait, that’s because it was less than a year ago. Well, Turkey is as at it again, this time threatening Twitter that it outright ban the site (again) if it doesn’t censor the account belonging to a left-wing, opposition newspaper.


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