Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 15, 2015

Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar;  Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use;  14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience;  How to clean a touchscreen;  The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365;  Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients;  These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are;  The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04;  7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out;  Lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month;  TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers;  4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone?  Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday;  Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity;  Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin;  EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Deterrence will keep a lid on cyberwar, former spy chief says – Major sponsors of cyberwarfare forces are reaching a state of deterrence resembling the mutually assured destruction in nuclear weapons standoffs, former U.S. national intelligence director Dennis Blair said Tuesday. All nation states would suffer if countries engaged in cyberattacks against civilians, and world leaders including those in China and Russia are reluctant to unleash such forces, Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who oversaw U.S. intelligence from 2009 to 2010, told a news conference in Tokyo.

Hands on: What a $149 Chromebook is actually like to use – If you’re more of a power user (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you are), you might be willing to pay a little extra in order to get a nicer and/or more powerful system. If cost is a concern, though — or if you’re looking at buying Chromebooks for kids or even in bulk for schools — the prospect of an entry-level laptop at $149 might be just the ticket. Even if you’re not in the market for such a system, it’s interesting to see what kind of Chrome OS experience $149 can buy.

The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

How to clean a touchscreen: All you need is a simple cleaner and a special cloth – Thanks to your greasy fingers, touchscreens get dirty quicker than old-fashioned monitors. Here’s how to clean off the schmutz.


14 Chrome browser extensions for a streamlined experience – From preserving privacy to decluttering browsers, there are a number of useful extensions out there waiting to be downloaded.

Five free (or nearly free) FTP clients – The cloud may be taking over as the de facto online storage solution, but the need for FTP (file transfer protocol) clients remains a standard need for business. Back in the 90s there were few options for FTP clients─you used one and you were happy. Now, however, when FTP’s popularity has waned, plenty of options are available. But are their solid affordable entries to fill this need? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Let’s take a look at some of the best options to see whether one of them could meet your FTP needs.

Google Play’s New Program “Designed For Families” Will Highlight Pre-Approved, Kid-Safe Apps – Google today announced a new developer program called “Designed For Families” which will allow app publishers to opt into an additional review in order have their apps labeled as being “family-friendly.” The new designation will eventually make its way to Google Play, though the company is not yet revealing the specifics around how this group of apps will be made discoverable once there. Google explains that its app marketplace features a number of developers, like PBS Kids, Tynker and Crayola, whose apps offer high quality, age appropriate content, and offer user interfaces and features that both educate and entertain young kids.


Revamped Skype for Business rolls out for Office 365, quietly bumping off Lync – As it signalled last November, Microsoft pulled out its older Lync client and rereleased it as Skype for Business on Tuesday. The new software will roll out as part of the April release of Skype for Business. And the online version of the app, known as Skype for Business Online, is making its way to your browser right now, Microsoft said; everyone should see it by the end of May.

HBO says Periscope could be a tool for ‘mass copyright infringement’ – HBO isn’t happy with everyone who used Periscope to rebroadcast Game of Thrones, but it’s even less happy with Periscope for not having the tools to stop them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has sent takedown notices to Periscope for recordings that include Sunday night’s premiere of Game of Thrones. It’s also taken a dig at Periscope for what it implies is a hands-off attitude toward piracy. “In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO says in a statement.

Pointing up   So here’s my question – do the executives of companies like this lie awake at night constructing bullshit controversies? Controversies that always seem to revolve around restricting, restricting, restricting. Here’s some midweek advice for HBO, it’s executive and board – Nobody, I mean nobody, gives a tinker’s damn what you think.  Get stuffed!

The five biggest changes in Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet – You can’t judge a book by its cover, or a Linux by its interface. If you glance at Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet, you won’t see a lot different from Ubuntu 14.10. Don’t let first impressions fool you. Underneath that slick Unity 7.x interface, there’s a lot of changes.


Brain games: These 3 free apps make you even smarter than you already are – Plenty of people think all of our devices are making us dumb. Maybe that’s because some people can’t be bothered to look up from them while they’re walking down the street. And maybe they’re right. But there are plenty of apps out there that claim they can make you smarter, whether that means helping you recall words faster or improve your reading comprehension. I took a look at three popular titles to see how well they work. So, am I any smarter? Read on to find out.

7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out – Looking to get in shape for summer? Fitness may be its own reward, but these seven apps can sweeten the deal by prodding, encouraging and even paying users to roll off of that couch and unleash their inner gym bunnies — or just move a bit more. No pressure.

4K Is Cool, But Do You Need It on Your Phone? – As reports, Sharp’s new IGZO display has a resolution of 840-by-2,160 pixels, or 806 pixels per inch (ppi). For those keeping track, that’s about twice the resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus $299.00 at Verizon and Galaxy Note 3$19.99 at Amazon. But that huge bump in resolution probably won’t make too much of a difference for most people, according to Wired. You’d need super-excellent eyesight — or a magnifying glass — to even notice subtle differences in very detailed graphics and tiny text.

How to use Miracast to mirror your device’s screen wirelessly on your TV – Ever since the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the finalization of the Miracast wireless display standard at CES 2013, we’ve seen a plethora of Miracast-enabled devices and receivers, from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 to Amazon’s Fire TV stick. Users can now wirelessly mirror the display of their Miracast-certified phone, tablet, or laptop to any Miracast-capable receiver like a TV, projector, or monitor. What you see on your device is exactly what will be displayed on your TV.

This company will let you lease an Apple Watch for less than $50 a month – The Apple Watch has made an impressive debut over the past week despite being a first-generation device with average reviews. While the device has yet to hit store shelves, one company is going to allow its customers the chance to lease the new device for less than $50 a month. Naturally, this is a fairly clever idea for those that want to “own” the latest tech, but don’t want to actually pay the high prices associated with owning the latest and greatest.

Opera Mini browser gets fine-tuned for speed and looks – The browser’s update adds a refined menu, a private-browsing mode, and a scalable interface that allows for support on tablets and smartphones.

A revamped Microsoft Delve looks like a corporate mashup of Facebook and LinkedIn – Delve has leaped beyond curating documents to curating everything about you and your job. There’s even a blog and mobile apps.


Windows and Office get four Critical updates for Patch Tuesday – Summary:It’s another Patch Tuesday, with this month’s update including a slew of security fixes in a cumulative update for Internet Explorer. The most important patch on the list blocks an Office exploit that’s already being used in “limited attacks” in the wild.

TSA Agents Fired For Scheming To Grope Attractive Male Passengers – According to police, officers were called to the airport by a TSA supervisor in March following an internal investigation. The TSA first received an employee tip in November 2014 that a security screener was groping men. The TSA told police that a male security screener would signal to a fellow agent when he saw a passenger he thought was attractive. The other agent would then indicate the passenger was female, instead of male, causing the scanning machine to record an “anomaly” in the genital area. A TSA investigator caught the agent in action in one instance on Feb. 9.

Android Security Apps Continue to Improve in Latest AV-Test Report – The biggest takeaway from these results is just how positive they seem. Previous AV-Test Android software reports showed overall improvement and this new one continues the trend. 18 products, almost two-thirds, received a flawless 13-point score, up from 15 products last round. Each app earned certification and detected over 95 percent of malware samples, with the average score being the essentially perfect 99.69 percent. Tested apps can score up to six points for protection, six points for usability, and one point for extras. See the full results in the chart below.


29 million US health records exposed by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 – Approximately 29 million health records were affected by data breaches between 2010 and 2013 in the US — 67 percent of which were stored electronically, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today. These data breaches involved unencrypted information that could be identified and tied back to individuals. And what’s worse is that the study indicates that these data breaches are on the rise.

Is the darknet to blame for Aussies falling victim to identity theft? – According a survey by credit bureau Veda, more than 772,000 Australian’s identified with identity theft in the past 12 months alone. Head of Cybercrime Fiona Long said the alarming statistics demonstrate the growing concern of identity theft for government departments, businesses and individuals. A 2014 report from the Attorney-General’s Department shows the price of fraudulent identity credentials ranges from around $80 for Medicare cards, $350 for driver’s licences and up to $30,000 for a legitimately issued passport with fraudulent details. The same report showed personal fraud including credit card fraud, identity theft and scams cost Australians approximately $1.6 billion each year. Ms Long said those concerned about identity theft can take a number of steps to ensure their information remains secure. (recommended by Mal C.)

Australians too trusting, fall for social media scams: Symantec – Symantec’s latest internet security report showed that Australia ranked as the seventh most targeted country globally when it came to social media scams in 2014.

Maine Police Pay Ransomware Demand in Bitcoin – In an effort to keep their computer files from being destroyed, a group of cooperative police departments in Maine paid a $300 ransom demand—in bitcoin. There is no official word on who carried out the attack; the FBI could only track the bitcoin payment to a Swiss bank account.

Web app attacks, PoS intrusions and cyberespionage leading causes of data breaches – The findings are based on data collected by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and 70 other organizations from almost 80,000 security incidents and over 2,000 confirmed data breaches in 61 countries. Humans were again the weak link that led to many of the compromises. The data shows that phishing—whether used to trick users into opening infected email attachments, click on malicious links, or input their credentials on rogue websites—remains the weapon of choice for many criminals and spies.

Is Your Company Ready for a Cyber Attack? (Hint: Nope) – Last year saw “far-reaching vulnerabilities, faster attacks, files held for ransom, and far more malicious code than in previous years,” Symantec Intelligence revealed in a new report. Symantec tipped a 23 percent increase in the number of online breaches in 2014. “However, attention shifted during the year from what was being exfiltrated to the way attackers could gain access.” Specifically, the news focused on how hackers were exploiting specific bugs, like Heartbleed, Shellshock, and Poodle. But while major breaches captured headlines, Symantec said that “60 percent of all targeted attacks [in 2014] struck small- and medium-sized organizations. These organizations often have fewer resources to invest in security, and many are still not adopting basic best practices like blocking executable files and screensaver email attachments.”

Company News:

EU regulators set to file antitrust charges against Google – Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, will reportedly announce formal charges against Google tomorrow. The European Union has long had a contentious relationship with Google. Its parliament approved a resolution last year calling for the breakup of the company’s search and advertising business. Google is seen by many EU members as a far too powerful gatekeeper to the world’s information, with a 90 percent market share of search activity in Europe. If it’s found to have violated the EU’s antitrust laws, the company could face penalties of over $6 billion.

Intel Up 2% After Reporting Flat Year-Over-Year Revenue Growth – Intel reported its first-quarter financial performance today following the bell, including revenue of $12.8 billion, and per-share profit of $0.41. The street had expected $12.9 billion in revenue, and $0.41 in per-share profit. Intel is up around 3 percent in after-hours trading. The company expects to generate $13.2 billion in the second quarter leading to a gross margin of 62 percent and a tax rate of around 20 percent. Those figures are improvements on the company’s most recent quarter, when it had a gross margin of 60.5 percent and a tax rate of a far steeper 25.5 percent.

Box acquiring online 3D content editor Verold – Verold’s online 3D ambitions garnered attention from tech titans from e-commerce to software, inking deals with the likes of Amazon, Pearson Education and Autodesk, among others.

Nokia agrees to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion – Nokia has announced its intention to acquire telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion). The deal will solidify Nokia’s ambitions to become a major provider of networking equipment that competes with market leader Ericsson, following the sale of its mobile hardware division to Microsoft. Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent plan to close the deal in the first half of 2016. The new company is expected to use the Nokia brand, but will retain Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs name for its R&D activities.

Shopify files for dual US-Canada IPO – Shopify has filed an F-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and a preliminary prospectus with the regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada.

Microsoft acquires mobile BI vendor Datazen – Microsoft has purchased cross-platform, mobile business-intelligence vendor Datazen Software, a Toronto-based company, for an undisclosed amount.

Games and Entertainment:

Get 9 EA games for $5, support charity – The Humble Origin Bundle 2 serves up a great mix of oldies and not-so-oldies, all of them definitely goodies.


GTA V PC failing to install because of Windows username problem – Today is the day many PC gamers have been waiting 18 months for: GTA V has finally been launched for Windows, complete with a brand new Rockstar Editor for creating your own videos. However, there is a problem, and it not only stops the game from being played, it can’t even be installed. Rockstar has acknowledged that there is an issue relating to the Windows username being used. It turns out only a subset of possible characters in the username is supported. If you have unusual characters in your Windows username, it’s likely the game won’t download, install, and ultimately allow you to play.

May Xbox One update may enable game streaming to other PCs – We know the Xbox One will eventually allow streaming games to other devices, but thanks to a preview build of the console’s OS, it looks like that feature may be coming as soon as next month. Yesterday the first preview build of the May Xbox One update started rolling out to previewers, and a number of eagle-eyed members have spotted an interesting addition in the Settings pane: the option to allow game streaming to other devices.


You can finally play Hearthstone on your phone – Blizzard’s addictive digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is finally available on smartphones. The free-to-play game — which debuted on PC and made its way to tablets last year — has been redesigned for your iPhone or Android device, cramming a whole lot of information onto a much smaller screen. The smartphone version should be available in both the App Store and Google Play at some point today. Like all versions of the game, your progress carries over from one device to the next through your account, though for new players this is a great time to jump in: Blizzard just released Blackrock Mountain, Hearthstone’s latest expansion.


You want Game of Thrones? Pay for it – downloading is theft – There are several side effects to the return of Game of Thrones. One is the pleasure viewers take in it. Another is abuse heaped on me for not being a total fan of the series. And a third is theft. According to a recent report in The Guardian, “The prospect of the return of Game of Thrones has prompted a huge surge in Internet piracy, with fans making more than 100,000 illegal downloads per day of episodes of the show.” It’s the most pirated show in the world, with more than seven million episodes downloaded between February of last year and April of this year. The countries where the illegal downloading takes place makes for an interesting list. Brazil was the No. 1 country, followed by France, the United States, Canada and Britain.

Explore the original Wipeout inside your browser – It’s very likely that the genre-defining, futuristic racing series Wipeout is gone forever: after developer Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis) shut down in 2012, the franchise has been on hiatus. The PS Vita classic Wipeout 2048 could go down as the last Wipeout ever released — but thanks to one fan there’s a way to relive the thrill of hurtling down a Wipeout track from the comfort of your browser.

Wipeout gif

Guitar Hero returning with new guitar, mobile support – After a five-year break since its last console release, Activision is betting that gamers are ready to hop back on a rhythm game bandwagon that went from oversaturated to “all but dead” in record time. Guitar Hero Live will bring a newly designed guitar controller, curated song streaming, and a joint focus on consoles and mobile devices when it launches jointly on consoles and mobile platforms this fall.


The new Gutiar Hero Live controller, featuring two rows of fret buttons.

Mortal Kombat X Review: it has begun – This is the Mortal Kombat you’ve been waiting for. Gone are the sweeping orb-like arenas of the 2000s, gone are the overly-complex schemes of the Kombat episodes of the lost era. Mortal Kombat X is a blood-stained dream come true: everything that made the original Mortal Kombat series a hit mixed with the graphics and technical finesse of today. While I’ll always be a fan of the original lineup, even the new characters are fun to play and interesting to learn about – imagine that!


Off Topic (Sort of):

The Brilliant Design of the Soda Can, Explained – ​It’s incredible that we take some of life’s little engineering marvels for granted. Take the aluminum can, the trusty cylindrical container that keeps your Diet Coke fresh and portable. As YouTube’s “Engineerguy” Bill Hammack explains, the can’s brilliant design is a cylinder because it contains the best parts of a sphere (its surface area) with a cuboid-shaped design that makes the can sturdy and stackable. There’s a lot to take in in this 11-minute video, but it’s well worth a watch.


Swarm robots poised to fly amid acquisitions and military investment – The military is going miniature, and that means big investments in small flying machines that will eventually operate in swarms.


MIT’s Picture language could be worth a thousand lines of code – Now that machine-learning algorithms are moving into mainstream computing, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is preparing a way to make it easier to use the technique in everyday programming. In June, MIT researchers will present a new programming language, called Picture, that could radically reduce the amount of coding needed to help computers recognize objects in images and video. It is a prototype of how a relatively novel form of programming, called probabilistic programming, could reduce the amount of code needed for such complex tasks.


Lawless Lawmen:

Dozens Arrested During Protests Across U.S. Against Police Violence – Protests took place in more than a dozen American cities Tuesday as racial tensions continue to mount in the wake of deadly police shootings.

Dash Cam Video Shows Police Car Ramming Into Suspect – The footage shows an officer speeding up as he runs over a man armed with a rifle in Marana, Arizona. The police chief, though, said the officer’s actions may have prevented the suspect from shooting himself or others, an assertion the man’s attorney rejects.


Chicago To Pay $5.5 Million In Reparations To Police Torture Victims – The package, which was negotiated with numerous stakeholders, also includes a public recognition of the torture committed by Burge and counseling services for victims and their families. Burge was fired in 1993 after a police review board determined that officers under his command had tortured more than 100 suspects, many of them black men, since 1972. Among the methods used: mock executions, electrical shock, and burning, investigators found. Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the city of Chicago will create a permanent memorial recognizing the victims of torture.


This is what evil looks like.

Lawyer representing whistle blowers finds malware on drive supplied by cops – An Arkansas lawyer representing current and former police officers in a contentious whistle-blower lawsuit is crying foul after finding three distinct pieces of malware on an external hard drive supplied by police department officials. According to court documents filed last week in the case, Campbell provided police officials with an external hard drive for them to load with e-mail and other data responding to his discovery request. When he got it back, he found something he didn’t request. In a subfolder titled D:\Bales Court Order, a computer security consultant for Campbell allegedly found three well-known trojans, including: Win32:Zbot-AVH[Trj], a password logger and backdoor – NSIS:Downloader-CC[Trj], a program that connects to attacker-controlled servers and downloads and installs additional programs – Two instances of Win32Cycbot-NF[Trj], a backdoor.

Lawmaker scraps bill making it illegal to film cops within 25 feet – A Texas lawmaker is scrapping his proposal to limit the public’s ability to film the police within a 25-foot radius. Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican, says the bill was too controversial. It was pending its first state committee hearing in the wake of two high-profile police incidents captured on camera by onlookers. One showed a South Carolina officer shooting a fleeing man in the back and another was of California officers beating a suspect.

Something to think about:

So….How’s Your Day Going?


Today’s Free Downloads:

Glarysoft Quick StartupMajorGeek says: Managing your startup can actually be rather difficult. Do I need this, do I need that? What is this and that? With Quick Startup you can look at Startup, scheduled tasks, plug-ins, application services and Windows services. You can then disable or enable them, read or leave a comment or click to find out what is known about anything you’re not sure of. There are not a lot of comments yet but as startup programs go, this one is easy to use and well thought out regardless of your skill level with computers.

Free startup manager to disable or delay auto-start programs to speed up system boot times.


Browse all startup entries in an elegant list view.

Security risk rating for startup entries.

Get detailed information about individual startup entries.

Add, edit or delete startup entries.

Comment on program entries.


Windows 10 Manager 0.1.5 Beta – Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.Windows 10 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 10. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.


Avira Rescue System 2015.04.13 – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

A scorecard of the Harper government’s wins and losses at the Supreme Court of Canada – In one of starkest examples in Canadian history of two branches of government openly turning against one another, the red robed members Supreme Court of Canada have spent months systematically shooting down virtually every issue the Conservatives hold dear. Court boosters say the Tories simply have a fondness for unconstitutional legislation. Harperites, meanwhile, allege that they are the target of a weird vendetta from their down-the-street neighbour. The National Post takes a look at the highlights.


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

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 15, 2015

  1. Now that I’ve learned how to clean my Touch Screen, I’d like to pass along a simple tip of how to keep it clean:
    Use a mouse not your fingers.

    • LOL Bob,

      Such a simple solution, but it works. 🙂

      On the other hand, my Blackberry tablet seems to do a pretty good job of keeping itself clean. I rarely have to clean it. Maybe twice a year. Which reminds me…



    • John Bent

      Hi Bill and bob3160,

      A mouse is so last century 🙂 and not compatible with phones and tablets. I use a stylus; more accurate than my fat fingers, and keeps the screen free of my greasy fingermarks; win win.

      Kind regards,

  2. Keeping Us Safe
    It always amazes me when I read that those charged with keeping to public safe haven’t got a clue what that means.
    The TSA can’t keep their hands in their own pockets and the Police department seems to have a problem figuring out who they ought to shoot.
    Now we have a Police Department that can’t even keep their computers safe and need to pay ransom in order to unlock their own data.
    Sounds like a world that’s up side down.

    • Hi Bob,

      Age has its benefits my friend. In our case, it allows us to make educated comparisons amongst/between substantial time frames. “We’ve seen a lot” may be an oversimplification, but it’s no less the truth.

      In this case, I couldn’t agree with you more – and, your examples, strike home.



  3. fantastic aggregation of content. Is this automated? If yes, how do you do it?