Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 20, 2015

10 radically tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand;  Top 10 smart home gadgets and appliances;  Google Wallet funds are now FDIC insured;  The cord-cutter’s guide to watching the NBA playoffs;  Six Clicks for Linux beginners;  Todoed makes creating task lists as easy as a right-click;  Disable banner ads in Skype for Windows;  Explore a new city like a local with these 10 apps;  Everything you need to know about UltraHD PC displays;  Heal Wants To Be The ‘Uber’ For Doctors Making House Calls;  Flash EK Strikes Again via Google’s DoubleClick;  Stream PC games to your Android device with Remotr;  Amazon Shuts Down TestDrive;  MakerBot lays off 20 percent of its staff;  Wink smart home hubs bricked by software update;  Keep Windows 10 preview up to date — or face a dead PC;  Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years;  New trailers: Star Wars, Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, and more;  We Need To Get The Internet Of Things Right.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mini PC invasion: 10 radically tiny computers that fit in the palm of your hand – As chipmakers focus on creating processors that sip little power without sacrificing performance, thermal concerns have largely been alleviated in modern CPUs. Because of that, today’s pint-sized PCs offer enough performance to play HD video and satisfy Office jockeys, the opposite of the janky, compromised experience of yesteryear’s microcomputers. From PCs-on-a-stick to discreet boxes no larger than a deck of cards, let’s take a look at the wide range of computers available that can fit in the palm of your hand—starting with the one that embedded teeny-tiny PCs in the public eye.

Disable banner ads in Skype for Windows – Before the many updates to Skype post-Microsoft acquisition, simply disabling the promotions options in settings was enough to rid your conversations of unnecessary spam. However, a new banner ad has made its way to the conversation window. This ad wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t often cut into the video feed area when going full screen. Thanks to Reddit user N19h7m4r3, you can disable ads through just a few steps. Here’s how:

Google Wallet funds are now FDIC insured, says report – If you happen to keep money in your Google Wallet account, your cash is now protected. According to a statement provided to Yahoo Finance, Google is now storing Wallet funds in banks insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). That means that should Google (or one of the banks that it keeps your funds in) goes under, the US federal government will have your back. Services like Google Wallet typically are not FDIC insured. The federal system, designed during the Great Depression, is made to protect up to $250,000 of savings and deposits at banks.

Todoed makes creating task lists as easy as a right-click – Can’t be bothered to write down a to-do list? Todoed lets you create tasks by highlighting text followed by a right-click.


The cord-cutter’s guide to watching the NBA playoffs – Cord cutting brings particularly thorny challenges for sports fans, and they’re never more apparent than when the postseason rolls around. Case in point: the NBA playoffs, which start this Saturday. Based on the TV schedule available at press time, we’ve outlined your options for watching the playoffs without a cable subscription. By following our guide, you’ll be able to watch many—but not all—of the live broadcasts and see which team eventually lifts the Larry O’Brien Trophy this June.

Explore a new city like a local with these 10 apps – With the sharing economy and a more mobilized world, people can have more authentic experiences when traveling to a new place. Here are 10 apps and websites that help you do just that.

Top 10 smart home gadgets and appliances – Summary: You’ve heard about the Internet of Things, but what smart products are on the market?

Stream PC games to your Android device with Remotr – The concept of streaming games to a mobile device is nothing new. Nvidia’s Grid service, for example, allows players to access PC games via the company’s Shield console and tablet, while Limelight Game Streaming opens the door to Android devices — provided you have an Nvidia GameStream-compatible PC. Remotr opens the door even further, letting you play just about any PC game on just about any Android device. It’s free, and it works — but with some caveats.


You can stream nearly any game from your PC to your Android device — provided you can master the controls.

Keep Windows 10 preview up to date — or face a dead PC – The first three builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview — 9841, 9860 and 9879, all released in 2014 — will refuse to boot at the end of April, according to a message posted by a Microsoft support engineer on the company’s discussion forum. Personal computers running the three 2014 builds have been displaying warnings of the impending expiration for the last two weeks. Starting Wednesday, the PCs have been rebooting every three hours, another hint from Microsoft to update.

Six Clicks for Linux beginners: Ubuntu 15.04, Vivid Vervet – I’ve used almost every desktop on the planet, but Ubuntu 15.04 with the Unity 7 interface may be the easiest. Heck if my now 82-year-old mother-in-law can be an Ubuntu user, you can be one too!


Taplet Lets You Pull HD Photos From Any Video With A Single Tap – Users can upload content from Dropbox and save it to their phones before digging into the app, or pull from videos taken directly on the phone by tapping into the Camera Roll. From there, simply tap to turn a moving image into a single photo, and then share those photos to various social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wink smart home hubs bricked by software update – Saturday was not a good day for owners of the Wink Hub, a smart home device that allows users to control a range of home appliances with their smartphone. Of course, Wink owners are probably already aware of this, what with not being able to turn off the lights, open the garage door, adjust the thermostat, etc. See, Wink issued a new software update that, as the company puts it, made their box “so secure that it is unable to connect to the Wink servers.” All of the hubs that received the update were then offline for a majority of the day.

GasWatch propane tank scale alerts your mobile phone when you run low on fuel – This clever gadget safely lets you know how much propane is left, so you don’t get caught with a half-cooked meal.

Google’s mobile search now recommends apps to install to find your answers – With its app indexing efforts, Google can pop up apps related to your suggested search term and take you right to the Play Store for installation.


Heal Wants To Be The ‘Uber’ For Doctors Making House Calls – These days you can take yourself to the doctor or teleport the doctor to you from a mobile device Now Heal, a startup out of Los Angeles, wants to take us back to an era of old-fashioned house calls by ‘ubering’ a doctor to your door. Heal is an on-demand service that promises to deliver a doctor to you in under an hour. It launched in the Los Angeles area late last year and is now open for business in San Francisco starting today.


Everything you need to know about UltraHD PC displays – It’s finally time to get serious about 4K displays. Let’s be honest, the first wave left much to be desired. Some had painfully low refresh rates while others were difficult to configure and get working properly. Prices were all over the map. The situation is much better today, thankfully, but moving up to a 4K display still involves some planning. Everything from the cable type to which applications you use most often can ultimately have a huge impact on your experience. Here’s all you need to know before you splurge on a 4K monitor.

Browse the web on your Android device more efficiently with Flynx – When using your mobile device, a key element is efficiency. You’re constantly on the go and under the thumb of pressure–the last thing you need to deal with is slow-loading, ad-heavy web pages. That’s where apps like Flynx come in. Similar to Link Bubble, Flynx loads pages in the background (represented by a small chat-head-like bubble on the screen) so you can view them at a later time. The two biggest differences between Link Bubble and Flynx is that Flynx is free and its browser strips away ads from pages for more efficient loading and viewing. Here are some of the features you’ll find with Flynx:

How to disable Chrome’s PDF viewer – Google Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer can make opening PDFs super-quick. Unfortunately, you don’t have access to all of the same tools you can use in apps like Adobe Reader. So how can you choose to download or open PDFs in standalone apps rather than the browser window? It’s a quick fix if you follow these steps:


Why the entire premise of Tor-enabled routers is ridiculous – Ars recently reviewed two “Tor routers,” devices that are supposed to improve your privacy by routing all traffic through the Tor anonymity network. Although the initial release of Anonabox proved woefully insecure, the basic premise itself is flawed. Using these instead of the Tor Browser Bundle is bad: less secure and less private than simply not using these “Tor Routers” in the first place. They are, in a word, EPICFAIL.

Faked Flash-based ads on HuffPo, other sites downloaded extortionware – Google’s DoubleClick advertising network is the lifeblood of many websites driven by ad revenue—and it’s also a potential path of attack for criminals trying to spread extortionware and other malware. Some Huffington Post readers fell victim to malicious advertisements spread through Google’s DoubleClick network early this week, but another simultaneous attack may have reached an even bigger audience.

Flash EK Strikes Again via Google’s DoubleClick – A few days ago, we blogged about a malvertising attack on the HuffingtonPost website via a major ad network which took advantage of a vulnerability in the Flash Player. This campaign was stealth and did not last long thankfully, but another major attack was also being carried on around the same time, most likely by the same gang. Working with ClarityAd, we quickly confirmed the malicious activity around 04/11 which showed a well-known ad network (merchenta) with direct ties to Google’s DoubleClick being caught in a large malvertising incident. The latest malvertising attack was carried through merchenta, a company that provides a platform for ad exchange and direct integrations with top publishers. They boast a 28 billion monthly impressions for the US alone and work directly with top tier ad networks such as Google’s DoubleClick.


Google Says “Vast Majority” Of Ads On Its Platforms Will Be Encrypted By June 30 – Google has been gradually moving all of its online services to HTTPS encryption — you may even remember the excitement wayyyy back in 2008, when Gmail switched to HTTPS. In a blog post published this morning, the company says that it’s now working to switch its advertising over as well. The post doesn’t go into a lot of detail about why encryption matters in this context — I suppose it makes sense since these ads can use potentially sensitive data for targeting and personalization. Google does say that this is part of a broader “HTTPS Everywhere” initiative — it already announced that encryption will play a factor in its search rankings.

Company News:

Apple Pay’s international rollout may begin this fall, starting with Canada – Apple has plans to bring Apple Pay to Canada this fall, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple is reportedly in talks with six of the largest Canadian banks — National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, and the Bank of Montreal — which account for over 90 percent of Canadian bank accounts. A debut that large for Apple Pay in its first foreign country would be a boon, but the banks aren’t too happy about Apple’s fees — which may be higher than what US banks pay — and potential security issues like the ones US banks dealt with earlier this year.

Amazon Shuts Down TestDrive, The Appstore Feature That Let You Try Apps Before – Amazon is shutting down TestDrive, one of the differentiating features of the Amazon Appstore which allowed consumers to test out new applications ahead of purchase. The feature was introduced back in March 2011 alongside the launch of the Appstore itself, where it then utilized a browser-based emulated instance of Android running in the cloud. Amazon says that the decision to close the service was based on “a significant decline” in usage, and cited the popularity of “free to play” business models as a factor.

MakerBot lays off 20 percent of its staff – On Friday, Motherboard reported that 3D printing company MakerBot laid off 20 percent of its staff today, estimating that approximately 100 people from the 500-person company had their positions cut. In 2013, MakerBot was purchased by a seasoned rapid prototyping and 3D printing company called Stratasys, which has been in business since 1989. Stratasys paid $403 million in stock for MakerBot at the time, plus $201 million “in performance-based earn-outs,” the company said at the time.

Report: Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal on Thin Ice – It’s not looking good for the merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast. According to a Friday report from Bloomberg, the Justice Department’s antitrust department might recommend rejecting the deal “out of concerns that consumers would be harmed.” Those attorneys could submit their recommendation by next week, but the final decision is made by senior officials, Bloomberg said.

Samsung, Apple top smartphone makers in Q1 – Samsung and Apple remained the top sellers of smartphones for the first quarter of the year, while LG stepped up to take fourth place behind Huawei.

Games and Entertainment:

Google makes the most of touch with “Games You Can Feel” – This afternoon Google has revealed a new category for special haptic feedback-friendly games on Google Play. Inside the app store you’ll find a small set of games with touch feedback, this creating the first-ever collection of this sort of games in the history of games. This section is called “Games you can feel,” and it’s live now. It’s a tiny launch, as it were, but it’s here – and it has Google working in direct collaboration with the folks at haptic technology group Immersion.

New trailers: Star Wars, Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, and more – This was a huge week for movies, with some of the biggest names around putting out new trailers — and other big names having trailers leak online, too. We’ve rounded up eight of this week’s best trailers for you to check out below (so long as you don’t get caught up by putting Star Wars on repeat).


Is Hollywood Making Too Many Trailers? – We spoke to an economics professor along with one of the best movie-trailer makers in the business to learn more about the thinking behind this deluge of movie trailers hitting the internet.

Watch the Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years – Star Wars: Battlefront, an upcoming large-scale multiplayer battle game set in the Star Wars universe, is due out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on Nov. 17. Savvy Star Wars fans will notice that’s just about a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next installment in the saga’s film franchise.


Star Wars behind the scenes: The Live Motion Capture Future – Today we’re taking a peek at how Star Wars is being made. The creation process, you’ll find, isn’t all that different from how video games are made. Video games like Star Wars 1313. Even though J.J. Abrams has assured the public time and time again that practical effects are king in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we’ve got reason to believe that this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is as it seems –here we’ll also be explaining why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


Overseas Netflix prices determined by piracy levels – While Netflix has long been a staple in the streaming market in the US, it’s easy to forget that with over 60 million subscribers globally, the service exists in a number of other countries. One interesting tidbit about the how the company works overseas was revealed by CFO David Wells on a recent earnings interview. When it comes time to determine Netflix’s subscription price in a country, one key factor they look at are the levels of piracy in that region. Higher levels of piracy mean a cheaper price to access Netflix’s content.

HBO warns torrent users over recent Game of Thrones leak – Following last week’s news that the first four episodes of Game of Thrones season five were leaked onto torrent sites on the night before the season premiere, they were subsequently downloaded millions of times. Understandable, with HBO’s drama being the most pirated show around the globe. Also unsurprising is that HBO is displeased with the leak. So displeased, in fact, that the company sent warnings to thousands of torrent users attempting to deter them from downloading the show any further.

Off Topic (Sort of):

We Need To Get The Internet Of Things Right – It seems everything is connected to the Internet: socks, shoes, shirts, hats, glasses, appliances, beds, homes, drones, cars and even diapers. Yet, for the Internet of Things (IoT) to play a role in shaping our future, we need to get a few things right. The statement “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” has never been more applicable. At the events and conferences I’ve attended this year, it’s clear that while everything is getting connected, few things are actually connected. With IoT, we are not taking full advantage of the Metcalfe effect where value increases exponentially as more things are connected. Instead, we are creating islands of technology.

‘Thought Crimes’ Explores the Story of the ‘Cannibal Cop’ and Our Right to Have Demented Desires – Former NYPD officer Gilberto ‘Gil’ Valle’s was almost locked up just for having fantasies of kidnapping and slowly roasting women on a spit. Erin Lee Carr’s new documentary takes a deeper look at his story and the implications it has for our society.

Police officers used a lost phone to take selfies, then posted them on Facebook – A lost phone has recently been taken in to a police station in Albury, Australia. With the police realizing the device didn’t have any security code on it, the officers decided to teach the owner, Bella Crooke, a lesson. The men in blue started taking selfies, which were then posted onto the owner’s Facebook page. One selfie, shown below, was uploaded to Facebook and included the caption, “You should probably put a password on your phone. When you are ready to pick it up it will be at Albury police station.” The post quickly garnered a lot of likes, and is still growing, as of this writing.


Researchers find oldest stone tools predate modern humans – The record for oldest stone tools discovered has been broken, with researchers working in Kenya finding a set of tools that are about 3.3 million years old. This eclipses stone tools that had been discovered in Ethiopia in the past, which had up until now been the oldest stone tools discovered. That’s not the most interesting part of the discovery, however — these newest old tools are older than the earliest genus Homo human fossils. The tools, then, are older than modern humans, dashing some previously held beliefs.


Watch John Oliver’s happier version of the CNN Doomsday video – Oliver’s new video comes a few months after it was revealed CNN had a clip lined up to be played in the eventuality that the human race was to be wiped out. The video’s existence was rumored for years, but only publicly revealed in January this year by Jalopnik writer Michael Ballaban, who unearthed it while interning for the 24-hour news channel in 2009. The video, marked “hold for release until end of the world confirmed,”  shows a military band playing “Nearer My God To Thee” — the same song the Titanic’s band played as the ship sank. Oliver, disappointed with the “dirge” in the grainy video, enlisted Martin Sheen to make “humanity’s final moments happier.”


Mega fatcat Kim Dotcom in deportation drama over SPEEDING ticket. When a government wants you gone… – kingpin Kim Dotcom may soon be booted out of New Zealand – because of a speeding ticket. The resilient and colorful entrepreneur is living on the Pacific island having gained residency rights in 2010. But he is also wanted by the US authorities for running the Megaupload file-sharing website, a service Dotcom describes as a cloud storage system but others claim is a massive copyright-infringement operation. Megaupload eventually shutdown, and was resurrected in 2012 as Mega. The penniless rotund supremo has repeatedly thumbed his nose at the authorities, something that typically lends a certain scrutiny to people’s past. And so it is in this case.

These High-Tech High Heels Change Color With the Click of an App – Created by a seven-person Lithuanian startup called iShüu Tech, and originally the brainchild of display technology research scientist Wallen Mphepö, these high-tech pumps are digital chameleons for your fancy feet. They’re made of leather and rubber and outfitted with hidden circuitboard, Bluetooth and battery components. And, here’s the kicker, they’re pimped out with electronic (e-ink) “paper” that you control with a companion app, altering the look of the flexible digital panel that spans from the top of the toes on up the sides of the pumps.


How much should we allow Google, Facebook and others to tell us what to think? – Questions raised about the algorithms used by search engines and social media to highlight products, news, and interests deserve our urgent attention, scholars said.

Something to think about:

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

–     Abraham Lincoln

Today’s Free Downloads:

Farbar MiniToolBox – MajorGeeks says: MiniToolBox will detect problems associated with your internet connection because of damaged LSP, proxy settings, as well as network adapter problems.

It can also be used to detect diversions or router hijacks. After execution, Farbar MiniToolBox will provide you with a detailed report (result.txt) for analysis.


Flush DNS

List content of hosts

List IP configuration

List winsock entries

List the last 10 event viewer errors

List of installed programs

List devices

List users, partitions and memory

And more…


Tile Tabs – Tile Tabs allows tabs to be displayed in tiled layouts within the Firefox tabbed browser content area. In each tiled layout, tiles can be arranged horizontally, vertically or in a grid, and tiles can be re-sized by dragging splitter bars. Tabs and links can be dragged to open in new or existing tiles. The scrolling of tiles can be synchronized. A tiled layout can display tabs from more than one Firefox tab group.

The Firefox tabbed browser paradigm is fully maintained. Tiled layouts are achieved by presentational changes rather than functional changes. All features (menu commands, url bar, search bar, tabs buttons) continue to operate as normal.

Layouts can be created and tabs can be tiled individually above, below, left or right of the active tile. Tiles are arranged in groups – where all the tiles in a group have the same width or same height – and all the tiles in a group are separated by splitters all with the same orientation (horizontal or vertical). Tiles can be displayed with a tab button for each tile – or with a single tab button for each layout.

Individual layouts can be saved, opened, deleted or set as the default layout. In addition, all of the currently open layouts can be saved as a single Multi-Layout.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues: The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says – A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI’s ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn’t buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

“Permitting the government to create the need for the occupant to invite a third party into his or her home would effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residents and hotel rooms in America,” Gordon wrote in throwing out evidence the agents collected. “Authorities would need only to disrupt phone, Internet, cable, or other ‘non-essential’ service and then pose as technicians to gain warrantless entry to the vast majority of homes, hotel rooms, and similarly protected premises across America.”

Twitter migrates non-US accounts to Ireland for security (and tax?) purposes – Large corporations like Twitter have been fighting against NSA spying for awhile, although defeats have been far more common than victories. While much of Twitter’s data consists of publicly available tweets, a vast amount of personal data is also stored within the company’s walls.

In an apparent effort to protect non-US citizens from the NSA’s reach, the company has recently updated their privacy policy. Starting May 18th, everyone outside of the US will be managed by Twitter International Company, based in Dublin, Ireland. The new language states:

Class action lawsuit filed against Bell Canada for privacy violations, asking $750 million – When Bell Mobility rolled out their targeted ad program in November 2013, it caused quite a stir among privacy advocates in Canada, with the claim being that they were spying on their users and not adequately describing the profiling or opt out process. After the release of a scathing review of the practice on April 7th, 2015, Bell agreed days later to end the program. Now a $750 million dollar class action lawsuit has been filed in Windsor, Ontario.

The Relevant Advertising Program (RAP), as branded by Bell, was an opt-out program that analyzed all Internet traffic from a customers mobile phone to build an advertising profile on that user. They would then intercept ads delivered by the web sites visited by the users and replaced them with ads targeted to their specific profile. This program was announced in August, 2013 and created a huge firestorm of criticism towards the telecommunications giant, especially in November after the program was rolled out when it was discovered that opting out of the RAP did not cease the analysis of traffic or creation of an advertising profile.

New Zealand Plotted Hack on China With NSA – New Zealand spies teamed with National Security Agency hackers to break into a data link in the country’s largest city, Auckland, as part of a secret plan to eavesdrop on Chinese diplomats, documents reveal.

The covert operation, reported Saturday by New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday in collaboration with The Intercept, highlights the contrast between New Zealand’s public and secret approaches to its relationship with China, its largest and most important trading partner.

The hacking project suggests that New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, may have violated international treaties that prohibit the interception of diplomatic communications.

New Zealand has signed both the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, international treaties that protect the “inviolability” of diplomatic correspondance. The country’s prime minister, John Key, said in a recent speech on security that New Zealand had an obligation to support the rule of law internationally, and was “known for its integrity, reliability and independence.”


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 17, 2015

The new spam: interactive robo-calls from the cloud;  The tax scam season: What to watch out for;  7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi;  12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know;  Meerkat pops it’s head up on Android with public beta;  Instagram institutes harsher rules to control harassment, porn, and nudity;  12 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do; Wikileaks has published the complete Sony leaks;’s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk;  Netflix will soon use HTTPS to secure video streams;  Microsoft brings Halo spinoffs to iPhone, iPad, and Windows;  How your dog uses your hormones against you;  Video game hardware sales plummeted in March;  Microsoft will bundle its apps on Cyanogen’s Android OS;  Iperius Backup Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The tax scam season: What to watch out for – The tax season is a popular time for cybercriminals to strike — but the risk of phishing campaigns is yet to come to an end.

The new spam: interactive robo-calls from the cloud as cheap as e-mail – It was the middle of the day, and my cell phone rang with a local number I didn’t recognize. Figuring it was one of my kids calling from a friend’s phone to tell me that they had forgotten their cell phone and needed a ride, I answered—and found myself rapidly descending into the uncanny valley. “Hi?” asked a voice on the other end of line. I replied with a hello. “This is Amy!” the voice said ebulliently. “I’m a senior account representative for American Direct Services!” Amy paused for several beats. I asked, “Is this a computer?” Another several beats. “No,” Amy replied. She then went on to inform me that I had been selected as a possible winner in a million dollar sweepstakes! “Amy” was, in fact, an outbound interactive voice response program running on a server, likely somewhere in a cloud data center.


7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi – Sure, they bring Internet to your devices, but today’s routers do so much more. Take advantage of these advanced capabilities to get the best Wi-Fi coverage. Many functions that once required significant networking know-how can now be properly set up with the click of a mouse. With that in mind, here are seven features found in most advanced wireless routers that are well worth the time and effort to configure and use.

12 Hidden Facebook Features Only Power Users Know – There are so many things you can do on that you probably don’t know about them all. And we’re not even talking about the third-party Facebook apps or browser add-ons, we’re talking about all the official, baked-in, easily accessible functions that are just a few clicks away. As you’ll see in our slideshow, there are even some functions that appear to be leftovers from bygone eras that we’re not even sure Facebook still knows are there. So, take a look at our slideshow and awaken your inner power user social super star who is just waiting to break out!

Yahoo Mail’s Contact Cards Get More Rapportive-Like With LinkedIn And Twitter Integrations – Yahoo Mail’s smart “contact cards” have been updated today to include support for Twitter and LinkedIn information. Through Yahoo’s partnerships with these two social services, the contact cards, which appear when you hover over a person’s name in a message, can now display a person’s most recent tweets in addition to company, title, phone number and more. For example, the cards automatically update to include a contact’s current phone number, which is extracted from past emails.


Yahoo shows off Weather, Sports, & News for Apple Watch – Yahoo may have ceded their place in search long ago, but their mobile apps are just plain great. Yahoo Weather is a triumph, and they’ve still got a strong foothold in Sports. Today, Yahoo is announcing four of their major properties will make an appearance on the Apple Watch as well as your phone. Yahoo Weather, Yahoo Sports Fantasy, Yahoo News Digest, and Yahoo News Hong Kong will make their way to Apple’s wearable, and they look as good as their smartphone companion apps.


Google Will Still Support Chrome On Windows XP Until The End Of The Year – If you are using Chrome on Windows XP — and for the love of God, I hope you don’t — you’ll still get updated versions of Chrome until the end of the year. The Chrome team today announced that even though it had planned to phase out Windows XP support this month, users of Microsoft’s antiquated and insecure operating system will still get regular updates and security patched through the end of 2015.

Meerkat pops it’s head up on Android with public beta – When Meerkat was soft-launched earlier this year, it caught the Twittersphere’s attention in a big way. Then Twitter cut Meerkat off from its social graph for a hot minute, which came just ahead of Periscope landing on the scene. With Twitter taking the live-streaming reigns, many figured Meerkat was going to be a ‘fun fact’ in the history of streaming apps. Instead, Meerkat is branching out, and has announced a public beta for Android, which is wide open for anyone who is interested in trying Meerkat out.

Twitter Is Winning The Live Streaming Battle – Following its acquisition of live streaming app Periscope, Twitter has been actively fighting to make sure its service beats that of independent competitor Meerkat, which had a slightly earlier start. In recent weeks, Twitter has made changes to cut off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social graph, and even began pushing celebrities and publishers to stop using Meerkat. Those efforts appear to be paying off for Twitter, according to new data out now, which shows Periscope leading Meerkat by nearly half a percentage point in terms of monthly active users on iOS.

To-Do App 3.0 Adds Collaboration, Zoom And List Sorting Among 150 New Features – While the world is getting its first taste of what life will be like when you have a small wearable like a watch to direct you to what you should do next, one of the leaders in personal organization apps for smartphones is releasing a big update. is today taking the wraps off version 3.0 of its app for iPhone, Android, Web, Chrome and Mac, which is shipping with no less than 150 new features over version 2.0 and now comes with specific support for Android tablet users.

Instagram institutes harsher rules to control harassment, porn, and nudity – Instagram revealed new community guidelines today that were designed to cut down on harassment and pornography. This is the biggest change to the guidelines since Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012, and it helps clarify rules that critics and parents complained were too lax and users complained were overreaching and enforced with double standards. The photo-sharing app framed the changes as a tougher, less polite stance in an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

12 Things You Didn’t Know Your Chromecast Could Do – Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O last year—from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. And while the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out in the slideshow.

How to bypass Windows AutoPlay when you plug in an external drive, and go straight to Explorer – The AutoPlay menu gives you lots of options, but if you always want just one, you can customize it.

Jawbone’s New Fitness Tracker Lets You Buy Stuff While You Exercise – Ever get a craving for a protein shake at the gym only to realize you left your wallet at the office? Jawbone’s newest fitness tracker, the UP4, has you covered. Jawbone’s UP4 fitness tracker syncs up with your American Express card and uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) to let you make purchases via the device, no wallet needed. The UP4 is a result of a partnership between AmEx and Jawbone, so Visa and MasterCard users might be out of luck when the UP4 first goes on sale for $199.99 later this summer.

IKEA’s wireless charging furniture coming to the US in Spring – The growing number of mobile devices at home means there might also be a jungle of wires and cables, all competing for the wall socket. And sometimes they might even compete with home appliances. In an attempt to bring peace to the world, at least the world inside the home, IKEA has come out with a couple of wireless charging solutions that bring both utility and beauty to your house. And the good news is that they’re finally arriving in the US too.

Wikileaks has published the complete Sony leaks in a searchable database – Today, Wikileaks published a database of all of the data leaked from Sony Pictures in last year’s hack, comprising 173,132 emails and 30,287 separate documents. The documents contain private legal opinions as well as sensitive conversations between executives, many of which were the subject of reports in the wake of the hack. “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement. “It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”


Just-released Minecraft exploit makes it easy to crash game servers – A flaw in the wildly popular online game Minecraft makes it easy for just about anyone to crash the server hosting the game, according to a computer programmer who has released proof-of-concept code that exploits the vulnerability. “I thought a lot before writing this post,” Pakistan-based developer Ammar Askar wrote in a blog post published Thursday, 21 months, he said, after privately reporting the bug to Minecraft developer Mojang. “On the one hand I don’t want to expose thousands of servers to a major vulnerability, yet on the other hand Mojang has failed to act on it.”’s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk – Tens of millions of subscribers risk having their site password exposed each time they sign in because the dating site doesn’t use HTTPS encryption to protect its login page. The screenshot was taken Thursday afternoon. Showing a session from the Wireshark packet sniffing program, you can see that this reporter entered “” and “secretpassword” into the user name and password fields of the login page. Amazingly, the page uses an unprotected HTTP connection to transmit the data, allowing anyone with a man-in-the-middle vantage point—say, someone on the same public network as a user, a rogue ISP or telecom employee, or a state-sponsored spy—to pilfer the credentials.


Dozens of US government online whistleblower sites not secured by HTTPS – Whistleblowers beware: At least 29 US government agencies’ websites that allow the online reporting of abuse, waste, and fraud are not encrypted with HTTPS, according to a survey by the American Civil Liberties Union unveiled Thursday. The affected agencies range from the Department of Agriculture and the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Treasury.

It wasn’t easy, but Netflix will soon use HTTPS to secure video streams – Netflix will soon use the HTTPS protocol to authenticate and encrypt customer streams, a move that helps ensure what users watch stays secret. The move now leaves Amazon as one of the most noticeable no-shows to the Web encryption party.

Company News:

LA school district seeks millions from Apple over iPad software woes – This is the latest chapter in the dramatic and complex project of supplying all Los Angeles public school students with an iPad.

Etsy Closes Up 86 Percent On First Day Of Trading – It turns out Wall Street investors like those homespun crafts. Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, went public today. Shares opened at $31 on the NASDAQ, popping up 94 percent from the initial set price of $16 per share. The company closed its first day of trading at $30 per share, an 86% percent rise from its initial price.

Slack continues huge growth, is now valued at $2.8 billion – Slack, the fast-growing chat and enterprise collaboration tool, has announced that it recently raised $160 million in new funding, and the company now has a post-money valuation of $2.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal first reported the completed funding round back in March, but today Slack has officially confirmed the latest evidence of its meteoric rise in the workplace. Not bad for a messaging platform that publicly launched with nary a peep in February of last year.

Ola, Uber’s Big Rival In India, Raises $400M To Grow To 200 Cities This Year – Ola, the largest rival to Uber in India, has announced that it has raised a $400 million Series E round to fuel further expansion in India.

Tata gives employees anniversary bonus, cuts into profits – India’s outsourcing industry needs to hire and retain staff in big numbers to keep business humming, so for the 10th anniversary of its initial public offering, Tata Consultancy Services announced a one-time “special reward” for its employees. TCS said all its employees worldwide, who have completed at least one year of service, would be eligible for the special bonus, with each employee paid one week’s salary for every year of service in the company. At the end of the quarter TCS had 319,656 employees. The bonus will cost the company about US$423 million.

Yahoo renews its search partnership with Microsoft’s Bing – After weeks of speculation hinting that Yahoo might soon end its search partnership with Microsoft, the two companies have finally renewed their agreement, albeit with a few changes.

Microsoft will bundle its apps on Cyanogen’s Android OS – Rumors of a Microsoft and Cyanogen partnership have been making the rounds recently, and the Android mod maker is confirming them today. In an email to The Verge, Cyanogen says it’s partnering with Microsoft to integrate the software giant’s consumer apps and services into the Cyanogen OS. Bing, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office will all be bundled later this year. As part of the partnership, Microsoft has committed to creating “native integrations” on Cyanogen OS. These native integrations will likely result in increased integration for Microsoft’s apps and services in a way the company has been trialling recently with Android.

Games and Entertainment:

Microsoft brings Halo spinoffs to iPhone, iPad, and Windows – Microsoft is bringing its Halo spinoffs to iOS for the first time today. Both the new Halo: Spartan Strike and the existing Halo: Spartan Assault are now available from Apple’s App Store, priced at $5.99 each or $9.99 as a bundle. Microsoft had originally planned to launch Spartan Strike exclusively on Windows and Windows Phone back in December, but the title was mysteriously delayed before appearing today on iPhone, iPad, Windows, and Windows Phone. There’s no signs that either title will be made available on Android or Amazon’s Kindle devices.


Here’s The Brand New Second Trailer For Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Rumors were that Disney and J.J. Abrams were going to release a second Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer today… and here it is. And oh man, is it good. So, so good. I won’t spoil anything — but if that first teaser trailer was a bit too fleeting for you, this one is the teaser you’re looking for. That last clip…


Twitter rolls out BB-8, other ‘Star Wars’ emoji – To celebrate the upcoming release of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” Twitter debuts three “Star Wars” emoji. Because what tweet wouldn’t benefit from a cute rolling droid?


‘Sesame Street’ Remodels After 45 Seasons: Will Kids Freak Out? – We spoke to a school psychologist, a Harvard Medical School professor, and the director of Sesame Workshop’s education and research team to find out what impact the changes might have on young viewers.


Grand Theft Auto V community hacks in basic Oculus Rift VR support – Thanks to a third-party tool called VorpX, you can immerse yourself in virtual Los Angeles. Minus the great Mexican food.


Video game hardware sales plummeted in March, survey says – Has everyone who wants a new video game console finally gotten one? That’s the question facing the video game industry after new hardware sales in the US fell by more than 20 percent both in March and earlier, in January, according to surveys by industry researcher NPD Group. The poor performance, totalling little more than $311 million, dragged down aggregate US sales of new games, hardware and accessories to $963.7 million, down 6 percent from the same time a year ago

Off Topic (Sort of):

How your dog uses your hormones against you – The bond between dogs and their humans is weirdly strong. Despite belonging to entirely different species, we treat them like family, and they really do seem to love us. When they stare at us — and we’re not holding food — it feels real. It feels right. Now, we’re one step closer to figuring out why that is. As it turns out, when humans gaze into their dogs’ eyes, they experience a rise in oxytocin —  a hormone linked to human bonding and some other, less cuddly behavior. Moreover, when dogs stare back at their humans, they experience a similar rise in oxytocin. Taken together, the findings hint that the reaction may have evolved simultaneously in both humans and dogs, as these animals were domesticated. It may also explain why humans and their dogs bond so tightly.

How Much Do You Actually Know About Scotch Whisky? – Let’s see how much you remember from all those distillery tours.


MIT’s NailO puts a tiny trackpad on your fingernail – MIT has a new invention that, upon first glance, looks like a poorly positioned fake thumbnail. The reason is that it is tiny trackpad designed to be mounted on your fingernail, lending perhaps the best yet remote control of your tablet or smartphone. It’s one of the more innovative and unusual wearables we’ve seen in recent months, and though it is odd to behold at first, there are some valid uses for it. Those with certain disabilities might find it convenient, for example, as well as those who want covert control of their phone.


GE Spotlights New Smart Street Lamps – GE has a new smart street light in early production, and it hopes that over time, cities and third-party developers will begin to take advantage of the platform to build smart city apps. The light itself is a super-efficient LED that could last up to 20 years. Where it gets interesting is that GE is including a sensor pack with each bulb with capabilities such as video, light and weather sensors, and giving cities and developers access to its Predix Internet of Things software development platform to build applications based on the data the sensors generate.

Something to think about:

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.”

–      Jean Giraudoux

Today’s Free Downloads:

DriveTheLife – MajorGeek says: DriveTheLife aims to keep track of your drivers, update repair and back them up as needed. The program has a clean, easy to use interface broken down into just a few tabs including the overview, update and tools. You can easily scan or rescan right from the main overview tab.

It features an uninstaller to remove drivers that are not correct as well. There is no option to install beta drivers but then again most people should not be installing beta drivers. In other words, all drivers offered are WHQL meaning they are certified by Microsoft. The home page lists all of the recently added drivers showing what a chore it is to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of possible driver combinations.

In our tests it performed flawlessly. It currently lacks a portable version but otherwise this one is an excellent choice in keeping up with all of your driver needs.


Xeoma 15.4.16 Beta / 15.2.25 – EASY surveillance: easier than a children’s construction set. Auto search and detection of any connected web cameras and IP cameras. No-stress work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. See for yourself: Build your comfortable to use video surveillance system in a just a few minutes!

Functionality beyond belief. All up to date features even the most complicated system can dream of.

Understandable and truly user friendly interface makes surveillance enjoyable and pleasant.

Economy at its best: Try the free version of Xeoma with unlimited functionality! Use it as long as you want. Once you feel like extending your system, you can purchase a license at most economical price!


Iperius Backup Free – One of the most flexible and feature-rich backup and sync utilities – stable, portable and lightweight.

Main Features:

Disk backup / Network: Iperius can copy files and folders to any mass storage device, like NAS, external USB drives, RDX devices, computers in the network. Zip 64 compression, AES encryption, synchronization, and possibility to keep incremental backups.

Drive Image: Iperius can create images of the whole disk, to allow you to automatically reinstall the system in a few clicks (bare metal restore). The disk image is made without any interruption or reboot (hot backup), and you can also restore it to dissimilar hardware.

Tape Backup: Iperius is an agile and powerful software to backup your data to any tape drive (LTO, DAT, etc.). Compression, password protection with AES encryption, automatic tape ejection, restore of individual files.

SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL: Iperius is a powerful and easy-to-use backup software for Oracle, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and SQL Server. It can make automatic backups, it supports compression and encryption of backup files and copying of backup files to any destination.

FTP Backup and synchronization: Iperius is a flexible and lightweight software to make multiple FTP transfers, to and from unlimited servers. You can make FTP backups in both Upload and Download directions, with zip compression, FTPS, AES encryption and bandwidth limitation.

Cloud Backup: Iperius can automatically send your backups to the most known an reliable cloud storage services, to easily have online backups on Google Drive, SkyDrive or Dropbox, with zip compression and AES 256 bit encryption.

Open file backup (VSS): Iperius can copy any file that is open or locked by other programs, thanks to its Volume Shadow Copy functions. This feature allows you to do hot backups of Outlook files (.pst), virtual machines, mail databases, etc.

Highly configurable: Iperius is a lightweight software but extremely complete at the same time. It has many options available and a great configuration flexibility, for backup, filters and email notifications, and fits any need in data transfers and synchronization.

Web Console: Thanks to this useful service, a company or a reseller can monitor the backup of all the computers where Iperius is installed, through a user-friendly and centralized web console.

Server 2003, Server 2008, Server 2012 are also supported.

Limitations: Not all features enabled in Free version.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Election 2016: Cloud voting can be simple, safe and it’s long overdue – In the last four years, we have learned what the power of mobile technology really can do.

In late October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, knocking millions of people off the grid, with no electrical power or broadband Internet capability.

Nevertheless, many of these people still had smartphones, tablets and mobile access points with 3G and 4G service and were able to check in with their families and friends over text messaging, email and also over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

In other words, while the network was damaged in parts by the storm, it did not drop off the grid entirely.

So while they had no power in their homes, they still were able to stay connected, whether it was using mobile wireless signal or by leaving the affected areas and using their enabling technology in places that still had functioning broadband, such as local coffee shops and fast food businesses.

Although they had the ability to communicate using mobile technology, some people in the greater New York City and New Jersey metro area had difficulty physically getting to the polls to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Some people even needed to be bused into polling areas due to disabled public transportation systems, or because nearby polling locations were damaged by the storm.

Rand Paul In 2011 Book: U.S. Intervention Increased Threat Of Islamic Terrorism – Rand Paul argued that, before the U.S. went to war in Iraq, “there had never been any Al-Qaeda or suicide bomber in the history of that country,” in his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, published in 2011.

Given the gravity of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many basic logistic and commonsense questions that should be asked, but rarely are. Would a war on street gangs in which police invaded and occupied Chicago be effective in getting rid of street gangs nationwide? How about the fact that before we went to war with Iraq there had never been any Al-Qaeda or even a suicide bomber in the history of that country? After we invaded, this was no longer the case.

Paul also wrote that U.S. intervention had increased the threat of Islamic terrorism.

Is it possible that decades of arguably far more intrusive behavior by the United States in Islamic nations has also had an effect on those populations, encouraging and increasing the threat of Islamic terrorism? The CIA created the term blowback to describe this phenomenon and the 9/11 Commission Report cites blowback as a primary cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

With Judge Analytics, Ravel Law Starts To Judge The Judges – From murder and terrorism to patent conflicts and sexual discrimination lawsuits, courtrooms are home to some of the most important dramas in our society. While our top retailers can identify people who are pregnant weeks before even the consumer has realized it themselves, lawyers continue to argue cases before judges with data based on a handful of anecdotes from other attorneys. The startup launched their Judge Analytics platform today.

The idea is to provide comprehensive insights on every judge in the country, allowing lawyers to research the best strategies for their client before they file a lawsuit or argue a motion before a judge. Armed with better insights, lawyers can then provide their clients with better services, and at a cheaper cost too.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 17, 2015

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 16, 2015

11 simple steps to secure your PC and online accounts;  90% of security incidents trace back to PEBKAC and ID10T errors;  False Positives Sink Antivirus Ratings;  Digital music revenue overtakes CD sales;  A simple Google search can find your lost Android phone;  Google releases a new handwriting app for Android;  50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2015;  14 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using;  How to Break Bad Habits With Tech;  IKEA releases its line of wireless charging furniture;  Why you should be using mobile shopping apps;  EU’s three gripes with Android: What you need to know;  How to Save Stories To Read Later On Your Phone;  How Google Could Threaten the Web;  In-flight Wi-Fi is “direct link” to hackers;  Mystery solved: Why do knuckles crack?  Binge-watch ‘Orphan Black’ for free this Friday.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

90% of security incidents trace back to PEBKAC and ID10T errors – 90% of security incidents are still caused by PEBKAC and ID10T errors, according to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report. Phishing attacks are a prime example of how the problem exists between keyboard and user as the DBIR said it takes a mere one minute and 22 seconds after a phishing email is sent before the first victim clicks on the tainted link.


11 simple steps to secure your PC and online accounts – Data breaches, hacks, and vulnerable software makes it easier than ever for a hacker to get access to your data. These simple steps can help mitigate it happening in the first place.

A simple Google search can find your lost Android phone – This new feature lets you do a simple Google search to recover your Android phone. Simply, go to the main Google search webpage in a browser and type in “find my phone.” The first result will be a map of your phone’s exact location, like the bar last night. Then, through a drop-down menu, you can ring your phone directly from the browser if your phone is still nearby. You’ll need the Google app’s latest version installed before you can try to search for your Android phone, and you need to make sure that your phone and your browser are both logged into the same Google account for the search to work properly.

50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2015 – Not everything in life is free, but many great iPhone apps are. And when you can find good software for free, take it. This list of the 50 best free iPhone apps highlight apps that we at PCMag think have shown outstanding performance, have been well received by a variety of technology users, and are truly “free.” No gimmicks, no membership required or in-app purchase necessary. Free. Period.

Tip: WinDirStat can help you free up storage space for GTA V (or anything else) in a flash – WinDirStat is a free tool—donations accepted!—that scans your drive, then explains where all your storage is being consumed with some gorgeous data visualization, separating the culprits into different blocks to provide a quick, at-a-glance summary. Clicking on one of the blocks lets you dive deeper and truly see where your storage is tied up—but in this case, I was looking for major offenders anyway.

Google releases a new handwriting app for Android – If you ever wanted to draw an emoji, now is your chance. Google has released Google Handwriting Input for Android, which supports printed and cursive writing in 82 languages, as well as hand-drawn emojis….


How to Break Bad Habits With Tech – Yes, there’s an app for “that,” almost no matter what “that” might entail, but when it comes to busting your bad, bad habits, don’t overlook the possibilities. With some help from software—and by applying some of your own willpower, an aspect that can’t be overlooked or ignored—it’s possible to better yourself. Even if all you do is correct one practice or pattern that is bugging, governing, or ruining you and those around you on a regular basis. With some of these tools and tips, you can try positive, go negative (start paying for your habitual crimes!), or a little of both.

Tinder integrates Instagram to show you’re well-rounded – If you’re trying to lure in new connections on Tinder, hawking your life through carefully filtered and selectively framed Instagram photos is one way to do that. The service hasn’t been entirely friendly toward Instagram, however, in that it didn’t offer support for such and users would have to put a link to their Instagram profile in their Tinder profile. Users requested a bit more than that, though, and Tinder has decided to listen, adding an option to embedded your Instagram photos directly in your Tinder profile for all to see.

Why you should be using mobile shopping apps – The truth is, there are certain categories of mobile apps that are created to make life easier. And when you are working in a mad-dash pace five days a week, every second you can get back from daily duties adds up by the end of the week. And yet there are still those that believe the shopping app is below them. Get this … Forbes believes that shopping apps will be the single fastest growing category of mobile applications in 2015.

Microsoft Band is officially on sale in the UK, priced at £169.99 – The Microsoft Band is now available to buy in the UK – its first market outside of the US – priced at £169.99, and includes guided workouts developed with leading UK health provider Nuffield Health.


14 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using – If you consider yourself a true 400-pound orangutan of organization, a profit of productivity, a caballero of collaboration, then take a look through our slideshow of 14 neat little tricks that you can do inside Google Calendar. There will definitely be some you didn’t know.

Twitter’s new front page advertises news sources, tech reporters, and butts – Twitter has a new login page that collates images from its most popular users to keep you informed about important topics like world politics, movie gossip, tech news, and — apparently — spandex-clad butts….


Dormi Turns Android Smartphones Or Tablets Into A Video Baby Monitor – A number of companies today leverage the ubiquity of smartphones in order to offer parents “connected” baby monitoring systems that can be accessed from anywhere. Often, as with devices like NapTime or Evoz, these include a monitor and camera of some sort and an accompanying mobile app. But a startup called Dormi has historically offered a different take – instead of selling new hardware, the company allows you to re-use old Android smartphones or tablets in order to remotely monitor your baby’s room. Now its system has received a long-anticipated update, with the much-requested addition of video monitoring.


IKEA releases its line of wireless charging furniture – IKEA has launched its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones. In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.


How to Save Stories To Read Later On Your Phone – Sometimes, it feels like our phones buzz with notifications from our favorite news apps at the most inconvenient moments — it’s hard to open a notification about Iranian nuclear developments when we’re headed into a meeting or chasing down the bus. Luckily, there are a few great apps that will help you save important stories for reading later in the day when you’ve got some downtime, even if you don’t have a data signal (say, on the subway).


New York Times columnist falls prey to signal repeater car burglary – Last week, the New York Times columnist Nick Bilton took to Twitter to let the world know that two kids broke into his car before his very eyes. What made the break-in a little more remarkable was the fact that, according to Bilton, the perps used an electronic device to simply unlock his Toyota Prius, rather than doing things the old-fashioned way with a slim jim, coat hanger, or brick. This isn’t the first time that signal repeaters have been linked to car burglaries in California. In 2013, we reported on a similar spate of thefts in Long Beach, CA, that left local police ‘stumped.’ And it’s not the only way of gaining entry to a supposedly secure car; The Register has previously covered devices that can eavesdrop on the signal between a BMW and its remote, allowing miscreants to program a blank remote for later use.

IBM makes decades worth of cyber-threat data public – IBM’s X-Force Exchange aims to be one of the largest and thorough catalogs of vulnerabilities in the world, helping companies to defend against cyber-crimes in real-time.

Neighborhood Watch program to add wireless security cams to its wetware network – The Neighborhood Watch program is about to augment its wetware network of watchful eyes with a hardware network of wireless IP security cameras. The objective? Reduce false alerts to local authorities, improve emergency response times, and reduce crime rates. It all starts with the rollout of a new safety system that will use wireless, battery-powered cameras to monitor participating neighborhoods.

Bitdefender Box review: Trying hard to be antivirus for the Internet of Things – My smart home has more than 40 devices connected to the Internet: Multiple computers, tablets, and smartphones; 10 IP security cameras; a control panel for my Vivint home-security and automation system; a satellite TV tuner with a DVR; a Roku video-streaming box; four Sonos nodes; and more. Bitdefender tells me its Box can protect all of them, and with enough confidence that I can run my PCs, tablets, and smartphones without local antivirus or anti-malware. All I need besides Box is a lightweight agent on those devices (Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS are all supported).


False Positives Sink Antivirus Ratings – What’s the big deal about false positives? Well, depending on the prevalence of the file affected, the consequences can be epic. Some years ago McAfee erroneously quarantined an important Windows file (they’ll never live that down!). More recently, Panda identified its own files as malware. Even without major fiascos like these, if your antivirus visibly makes mistakes, you’ll lose faith in it. AV-Comparatives offers a detailed report on false positives encountered by each product in this test, including prevalence data for the legitimate samples. This simple file-detection test has its limitations, as noted in the full report. Even so, it’s a good sign when a product aces this test, and a high rate of false positives may be cause for worry. How did your antivirus stack up?

In-flight Wi-Fi is “direct link” to hackers – Airplanes with in-flight Wi-Fi are vulnerable to hacks by passengers and could be targeted by a “malicious attacker” on the ground, a US report has warned. The threat appears to come in two forms, the GAO said. The first is from intrusion into avionics systems by passengers using in-flight Wi-Fi. “Four cybersecurity experts with whom we spoke discussed firewall vulnerabilities, and all four said that because firewalls are software components, they could be hacked like any other software and circumvented,” the report said. It described theoretical methods by which committed hackers could access any aspect of an airplane’s control system.

Company News:

Europe opens antitrust investigation into Android – The European Commission has been examining Google’s Android operating system for nearly three years, and it is now ready to launch a formal investigation into claims of unfair app bundling. Google services and apps like Maps, Chrome, and YouTube are often bundled with Android devices, and competitors have complained that it’s giving Google an unfair advantage. Regulators previously questioned telecom companies and phone manufacturers, to see whether Google forces them to bundle apps or services at the expense of competitors.

EU’s three gripes with Android: What you need to know – Did you know there are really two main versions of Android? The one Google controls is under fire for potential antitrust practices. Here’s why.

Facebook-backed loses some Indian partners over net neutrality – A project by Facebook-backed to offer people access to select online services without data charges has run into trouble in India, after the program was criticized by net neutrality activists. A number of companies that had partnered with to offer content or services had by Wednesday either quit the alliance or were readying to leave. The program does not meet its stated objective of providing free and unfettered Internet access to all, according to the activists.

Netflix Adds 4.9M New Members In Q1, Sending Shares Up More Than 10% – Why’s Wall Street so excited about flat revenues and an earnings miss? Netflix reported that its subscriber base grew to a total 62.3 million. That figure includes 2.3 million new domestic subscribers, and 2.6 million non-domestic subscribers.

Online marketplace Etsy prices IPO at $16 a share – Online crafts marketplace Etsy priced its initial public offering at $16 a share on Wednesday, at the high end of its expected range of $14 to $16 a share. The Brooklyn, NY-based company raised $267 million by selling 16.7 million shares, valuing Etsy at $1.8 billion, the firm announced Wednesday. Founded in 2005, the website derives its revenue from listing fees and commissions on the sale of items such as handmade jewelry, crocheted wool booties and antique mother of pearl silverware.

Yahoo may be readying new Messenger to battle Snapchat, Periscope – You probably don’t use Yahoo Messenger. It’s tired, really. As a simple chat app, it’s fine, but we want more than that. In an age of sending each other more than words, Yahoo is way behind. Instead of dropping messaging, Yahoo may be priming a revamp to Messenger, one that reportedly combine live and recorded video sharing. This app is meant for mobile, though it’s not clear if Yahoo is also readying the app for your desktop as well. If the report is accurate, we’ll see this new Messenger by the end of Q2 2015.

AT&T, but not Verizon and Comcast, sue FCC over net neutrality – AT&T made no secret of its opposition to the FCC’s net neutrality order, but it was reported last month that trade groups rather than individual ISPs would lead the legal fight against the FCC. That has mostly been the case so far, with AT&T but not other big ISPs like Comcast or Verizon filing suit. Lawsuits have been filed by four consortiums representing cable, wireless, and telecommunications companies. One small provider in Texas called Alamo Broadband sued the FCC as well.

Games and Entertainment:

Binge-watch ‘Orphan Black’ for free this Friday – Send your clone to work and stay home for Season 1 of the cult-fave show, streaming free of charge courtesy of Amazon.


Sling TV channel guide: All the programming, and all the restrictions, all in one chart – Sling TV is cheaper than bloated cable- or satellite-TV bundles, but it’s no less confusing. I’m about to fix that for you.

Hearthstone goes fully mobile; now available on iOS and Android smartphones – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now available in the App and Google Play stores, and it comes with all of the features that the bigger versions of the game have, including the recently launched Blackrock Mountain expansion. But the handset version of the game will also feature a new interface designed to make card-playing easier on smaller screens. Blizzard is also celebrating the expanded availability of the game by offering mobile players a free Classic card pack once they complete a game on their mobile phones.


Digital music revenue overtakes CD sales for the first time globally – Global revenue from music downloads and subscriptions has overtaken sales of physical formats for the first time. In 2014, digital revenue grew nearly 7 percent to $6.85 billion, while physical sales — of which CDs make up the vast majority — fell 8 percent to $6.82 billion. These figures, from a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), also reflect the growing popularity of digital music streaming, with revenue from services like Spotify growing 40 percent to $1.57 billion.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bruce Schneier: Metal Detectors at Sports Stadiums – Fans attending Major League Baseball games are being greeted in a new way this year: with metal detectors at the ballparks. Touted as a counterterrorism measure, they’re nothing of the sort. They’re pure security theater: They look good without doing anything to make us safer. We’re stuck with them because of a combination of buck passing, CYA thinking, and fear. There’s no evidence that this new measure makes anyone safer. A halfway competent ticketholder would have no trouble sneaking a gun into the stadium. For that matter, a bomb exploded at a crowded checkpoint would be no less deadly than one exploded in the stands. These measures will, at best, be effective at stopping the random baseball fan who’s carrying a gun or knife into the stadium. That may be a good idea, but unless there’s been a recent spate of fan shootings and stabbings at baseball games — and there hasn’t — this is a whole lot of time and money being spent to combat an imaginary threat.

Watch the SpaceX rocket landing (now in video form) – Before we’d only had tiny glimpses of the near-landing bit of the Falcon 9 rocket. Now we’ve got a fully operational video from off the starboard bow. This video shows how the rocket flew in at great speed, nearly – so very, very nearly – landing on the “Just Read The Instructions” autonomous sea craft. But with a final blast, it fell to the wayside. Time to try, try again, of course, as Elon Musk suggests they’ll be approaching an 80% success rate by the end of this year.


How Google Could Threaten the Web – Since most people have their sights set on Google, the crusading antitrust folks in Europe now have their sights set on the dominant search engine. There’s certainly some “not invented here” schadenfreude in some of the EU’s antitrust actions. Europe has come down hard on Microsoft, Apple, and now Google, all American companies. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Man flies gyrocopter to US Capitol to protest government corruption – US Capitol Police in Washington, DC have detained a man after he flew a personal gyrocopter through restricted airspace and landed it on the West Lawn of the Capitol building. The strange incident led authorities to close off nearby streets and briefly put the Capitol on lockdown. Reports indicate that police arrived immediately after the pilot, 61-year-old Doug Hughes, touched down. Hughes is a US postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and orchestrated the stunt as his own attempt to protest government corruption and urge lawmakers to advance campaign finance reform.


Best Boss Ever Aims to Raise Minimum Worker Pay to $70K per Year – Bet you wish Dan Price was your boss right about now. The founder of Gravity Payments told employees on Monday that over the next three years, he plans to make the minimum salary paid to staffers at the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm a cool $70,000 per year. Per The New York Times, that means “even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative, and salesman” working for Gravity Payments will make nearly $20,000 more a year than the median household income in the United States, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2014.

Mystery solved: Why do knuckles crack? – For the first time, an MRI video has been taken of cracking knuckles, answering once and for all what makes the audible pop.


Chess grandmaster caught cheating with smartphone chess app – The cheating claim was made by his opponent, Tigran Petrosian, during the sixth round of the Dubai Open. Nigalidze had been making very frequent and long trips to the toilet after playing his moves, which made Petrosian suspicious and led to a search of the bathroom. A smartphone was discovered hidden in some toilet paper in a bin with a chess program loaded on to it. We don’t know which chess app he was using (yet).

Something to think about:

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”

–     Edward R. Murrow

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Port Scanner – Free Port Scanner is a small, fast, easy-to-use and robust port scanner. You can scan ports on fast machines in a few seconds and can perform scan on predefined port ranges. This tool uses TCP packets to determine available hosts and open ports, service associated with port and other important characteristics. The tool is designed with a user-friendly interface and is easy to use.


GlassWire 1.0.43 Beta – GlassWire displays your network activity on an easy to understand graph while searching for unusual Internet behavior that could indicate malware or violations of your privacy. Once unusual network activity is discovered you’re instantly alerted with detailed information so you can protect your computer, privacy, and data.


Network Monitor – Visualize your current and past network activity by traffic type, application, and geographic location, on an easy to use graph. GlassWire lets you see what applications are sending out data over the Internet and shows you what hosts they are communicating with.

Internet Security – GlassWire adds extra Internet security to your computer or server by visualizing all past and present network data in an easy to understand graph. Instantly see every application or process communicating over the Internet, then dive in deeper to see who or what your computer is communicating with.

Bandwidth Usage Monitor – Keeping track of your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth usage is easy with GlassWire. Go to the usage tab to see what apps, traffic, or hosts are using the most bandwidth.

Internet Privacy Protection – GlassWire shows all your network activity on an easy to use graph to help protect your Internet privacy. Easily see what apps are sending out data to the Internet and what host in what country they are communicating with. When you visit a website click the graph to see every server that your computer communicated with while that web page loaded.

Remote Server Monitoring – GlassWire installs easily on servers so you can monitor their network activity on your local computer via our remote access feature. Go to GlassWire’s settings and choose “remote server” to logon to your server after you have installed GlassWire on your local computer and remote server.

Discreet Alerts – We specifically designed the GlassWire alert system so it wasn’t annoying to users. GlassWire alerts appear briefly and then disappear into the background.

Network Time Machine Use the sliders to go back in time and analyze past network activity on the graph. Check your bandwidth usage by day, week, and month in detail with resolved hosts.

Universal Media Server – Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server. It is based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath. It is actually an evolution of the “SubJunk Build” of PMS. UMS was started by SubJunk, an official developer of PMS, in order to ensure greater stability and file-compatibility.

To see a comparison of popular media servers, click here.

Because it is written in Java, Universal Media Server supports all major operating systems, with versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

The program streams or transcodes many different media formats with little or no configuration.

It is powered by MEncoder, FFmpeg, tsMuxeR, AviSynth, MediaInfo and more, which combine to offer support for a wide range of media formats.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The DEA is spending millions of dollars on spyware – The Drug Enforcement Agency has been spending millions on spyware tools to take over suspects’ phones, according to an exclusive report from Motherboard. Government records show the agency paying $2.4 million for a “remote control system” that could be implanted in a suspect’s phone. Once the phone is infected, the spyware can record texts, emails, passwords, and even nearby conversations through the onboard microphone. The use of spyware by law enforcement is controversial, and while officials typically need a warrant before deploying the programs, some agencies have ignored that requirement in the past. The source of the spyware is even more controversial.

New Zealand Spy Data Shared With Bangladeshi Human Rights Abusers – Secret documents reveal New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency shared intelligence with state security agents in Bangladesh, despite authorities in the South Asian nation being implicated in torture, extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.

Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, has conducted spying operations in Bangladesh over the past decade, according to the documents. The surveillance has been carried out in support of the U.S. government’s global counterterrorism strategy, primarily from a spy post in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, and apparently facilitated by the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Bangladesh spying, revealed on Wednesday by The New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, is outlined in secret memos and reports dated between 2003 and 2013. The files were obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The FBI informant who mounted a sting operation against the FBI – A new documentary, (T)ERROR, reveals the weaknesses and bungling behind a terrorism investigation that relied on informants. One of the domestic spies, Saeed Torres, warned the FBI that the target of its investigation “ain’t going to throw rice at a wedding, believe me.”



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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 14, 2015

Even if the Patriot Act expires, the worst surveillance will carry on;  Verizon trots out analyst to say unlimited data is bad for customers;  4 ways your Android device is tracking you (and how to stop it);  5 great Google Drive tips;  How to Clear Your Cache on Any Browser;  5 Reasons You Should Update Your iPhone Immediately;  Forget spying, now the NSA wants your password list;  The 8 Best Apps to Get Your Yard Greener Than Ever This Spring;  RadioShack presses ahead plan for sale of customer data;  New bill would invalidate FCC’s net neutrality rules;  Get married online with Ikea;  Silence is golden: Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp is 100 today;  10 new apps that will change the way you 3D print;  Sharing revenge porn in the UK now carries a two year jail sentence;  Windows Firewall Console 19 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Verizon trots out analyst to say unlimited data is bad for customers – Got a data cap on your smartphone? You should be grateful, according to an opinion piece that Verizon Wireless published on Friday. “Let’s face it, if everyone had unlimited data and used it fully, the performance of the networks would suffer because of bandwidth restrictions and the ‘shared resource’ nature of wireless,” industry analyst Jack Gold, founder of J. Gold Associates, wrote in an article titled “The Lure of Unlimited Wireless Data—Is It Necessary?”

New bill would invalidate FCC’s net neutrality rules – A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation, introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process. The resolution is the quickest way to stop what Collins called heavy-handed regulations that will hamper broadband deployment and could increase taxes and fees, he said in a statement. “We’ll all be paying more for less,” he added.

Pointing up   This is a clear example of how “bought and paid for” politicians work against the public good. Or, you might see this instead as Corporatocracy in action. In either case, the objective is to screw the public. It’s well past time to unmask these corporate stooges, and others, who pose as politicians. No country is immune to these parasites.

After victory for net neutrality in the US, the battle moves to Europe – Following what is widely regarded as a victory for strong net neutrality in the US, the battle to maintain a level playing-field online has now moved to the European Union, with the relaunch today of the campaign site “Save the Internet: Defend Net Neutrality in Europe.” Its aim is to head off an attempt by a majority of the 28 EU Member States in the Council of the European Union to derail earlier proposals to enshrine net neutrality in European law, as Ars reported last month. The EU’s net neutrality bill began as a 2013 proposal from the European Commission. It contained a number of major loopholes. In particular, it would have allowed “specialized services” that had privileged access to the Internet—and thus broke net neutrality. The proposal also explicitly allowed the discriminatory blocking of websites, applications, and content, a clear threat to freedom of expression in Europe.

4 ways your Android device is tracking you (and how to stop it) – So there I was, poking around some of the more arcane settings on my Moto G, when I stumbled across something that took me aback: an archive of every voice command I’d ever spoken to my phone. Turns out that each time you say something to the Google Now search box, Android saves a copy of what you said in your “Voice & Audio” history. Your voice history can go back months or even years, and it includes a transcript of what you said plus a playback button, so you can relive the moment. That’s not all. Your Android device—and, indeed, all your Google accounts, mobile or otherwise—can also save a “history” of your web searches and clicks, as well as what you’ve searched for and watched on YouTube. Android can also save a map of where you and your phone or tablet have been, even when you weren’t actively using your handset.

How to Clear Your Cache on Any Browser – The cache—your browser’s local storehouse of code and images downloaded from the Internet—exists to help your Web experience run smoother. If you visit the same sites again and again, your computer can save time and resources by not downloading the same files over and over again. Unfortunately, sometimes an error can occur with the files in your cache and things start to run funky. If that happens, you’ll need to dump your browser’s little data bank to get things back in order. Bottom line: while the cache is there for a reason—it’s still a very good idea to do some spring cleaning on occasion. Here’s how.

5 Reasons You Should Update Your iPhone Immediately – Averaging more than an update per month, Apple’s iOS 8 is getting to be nearly as annoying as Adobe Flash when it comes to keeping software up-to-date. But at least users are getting something for their power-cycling and downtime. In fact, the newest iOS 8.3 update is loaded with some rather delightful goodies for iPhone and iPad users who keep their systems up to speed. Here are five reasons why you should update your Apple iPhone or iPad’s operating system right now:

4SeTV pitches to sports fans with split-screen broadcasts – A new crowdfunding project called 4SeTV is hoping to make football Sundays more enjoyable with split-screen viewing on phones, tablets, and televisions. 4SeTV is a four-channel TV tuner box for over-the-air broadcasts, but it doesn’t plug directly into the television like most tuners. Instead, it hooks up to a home Wi-Fi router, and streams broadcast channels to an iOS or Android app over the local network. From there, users will be able to beam the video to their television using DLNA or Chromecast. The app lets users see what’s happening on other channels, or view four channels at a time in split-screen mode.


Get married online with Ikea – The Swedish DIY-furniture manufacturer has launched a service that allows users to hold a virtual wedding online.

Sharing revenge porn in the UK now carries a two year jail sentence – Revenge porn has officially become a criminal offense in the UK, with those found guilty facing up to two years in jail. The amendment to the law was proposed last October and came into affect this week. It specifically targets “the distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress,” and includes both physical and digital images, whether they’re shared in person or over the internet. The law covers “images that show the genitals but also anything that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual, so this could be a picture of someone who is engaged in sexual behavior or posing in a sexually provocative way.”

The 8 Best Apps to Get Your Yard Greener Than Ever This Spring – Get things green with some pruning shears, a spade, and your smartphone. Short of hiring a landscaper, these eight apps may be the best ways to get some expert help for your yardwork this spring. Better yet, free or very low-priced, they’ll save you plenty of green over hiring a pro.

5 great Google Drive tips: Keyboard shortcuts, saving options, templates and more – Our last look under Google Drive’s hood turned up such great hidden tricks, we went back to uncover more. Here are 5 more that will help streamline your workflow.

Vizio knocks 4K TV prices down to $600 – Just seven months after cracking the $1000 barrier, Vizio’s 4K TV sets are getting even cheaper. Vizio’s new M-Series 4K (or Ultra HD) televisions start at $600 for a 43-inch model, and scale up to $4000 for an 80-inch model. Spending $1000—the same price that Vizio charged for a 50-inch 4K TV last fall—will now get you a 55-inch screen instead.


iOS 8.4 revamps Apple’s Music app, and the changes are “beautiful” – Apple has pushed out the iOS 8.4 beta update, and chief among its features is a revamped Music app, one that Apple touts as being “beautiful” and, of course, easier to use than the previous version without sacrificing functionality. The new Music app design is complemented by several new features that round out the user experience, including “streamlined” use of iTunes Radio, making it easier to go back to favorite stations and to choose from existing curated Featured offerings.

8 things you need to know about 3D scanners – You can 3D print almost anything. But having a scanner helps foster even more creativity. Here are eight things to know about digital scanners for 3D printers.

10 new apps that will change the way you 3D print – 3D printing has gone mobile. Check out these 10 apps to use for designing CAD, printing straight from your smartphone, and ordering prints.


Four boggling websites we found hidden in the BitTorrent network using the Maelstrom browser – Maelstrom merges the open-source Chromium web browser with a BitTorrent client, so you can fetch and render regular webpages on the internet, and download movies Game of Thrones music Linux ISOs stuff from the BitTorrent file-sharing network, all from the same application.  More interestingly, though, is the ability to view static websites hosted in the BitTorrent network: there are tools available to create and seed simple pages into the network, which people can find using a torrent link. There’s no central server for the pages – they’re pulled from those seeding the site for you.

Amazon to add high dynamic range video content to its Prime Instant Video service – Fierce competition among over-the-top video service providers is driving innovation, while traditional video distribution evolves at a snail’s pace.

7 Kindle Paperwhite Tips Every Reader Needs to Know – To get the most out of your Kindle Paperwhite, there are some quick tricks. Having trouble seeing or want more words on the page? A flick of your fingers can change the font size: just pinch and zoom to adjust. If you want to save some battery life, go to the menu and switch your Kindle to airplane mode when you’re not downloading books. Customize the dictionary by going to Settings > Device Options > Language and Dictionaries, which is especially helpful if you’re reading books in other languages. But these are just the basics. We have a few more advanced tips that will maximize the enjoyment and use you get out of your Kindle.


Forget spying, now the NSA wants your password list – The NSA isn’t interested in a sneaky back door into your smartphone or computer any more, it just wants you to leave the front door wide open. While arguments continue around just what the National Security Agency can and can’t get access to – dragging more than one big tech name into the controversy – the spy organization’s chief is suggesting a far more blunt approach: in effect, handing over the keys to encryption upfront.

Botnet that enslaved 770,000 PCs worldwide comes crashing down – Simda, as the botnet was known, infected an additional 128,000 new computers each month over the past half year, a testament to the stealth of the underlying backdoor trojan and the organization of its creators. The backdoor morphed into a new, undetectable form every few hours, allowing it to stay one step ahead of many antivirus programs. Botnet operators used a variety of methods to infect targets, including exploiting known vulnerabilities in software such as Oracle Java, Adobe Flash, and Microsoft Silverlight. The exploits were stitched into websites by exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities and exploit kits such as Blackhole and Styx. Other methods included sending spam and other forms of social engineering. Countries most affected by Simda included the US, with 22 percent of the infections, followed by the UK, Turkey with five percent, and Canada and Russia with four percent.

SSL/TLS/HTTPS: keeping the public uninformed – Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the SSL/TLS/HTTPS system that secures websites is that you are not supposed to understand it. I say this as a follow-up to my last blog, which argued that web browsers share much of the blame for Man-In-The-Middle attacks such as Superfish, because they hide the name of the Certificate Authority (CA) vouching for the identity of secure websites. Yes, the CA name is available with a couple clicks, but if it wasn’t hidden in the weeds, Lenovo customers might have questioned why Superfish was the only Certificate Authority on their PCs.

Microsoft downplays new report of Windows flaw – Researchers say new variation on an old flaw could allow hackers to steal login credentials from users of every version of Windows. Microsoft doesn’t seem too worried.

RadioShack presses ahead plan for sale of customer data – RadioShack will press on with its plan to sell its customer data, despite opposition from a number of U.S. States. The company has asked a bankruptcy court for approval for a second auction of its assets, which includes the consumer data. The state of Texas, which is leading the action by the states, has opposed the sale of personally identifiable information (PII), citing the online and in-store privacy policies of the bankrupt consumer electronics retailer.

Prosecutors suspect man hacked lottery computers to score winning ticket – Prosecutors say they have evidence indicating the former head of computer security for a state lottery association tampered with lottery computers prior to him buying a ticket that won a $14.3 million jackpot, according to a media report. Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, may have inserted a thumbdrive into a highly locked-down computer that’s supposed to generate the random numbers used to determine lottery winners, The Des Moines Register reported, citing court documents filed by prosecutors. At the time, Tipton was the information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and he was later videotaped purchasing a Hot Lotto ticket that went on to fetch the winning $14.3 million payout.

Files encrypted by CoinVault ransomware? New free tool may decrypt them – Victims of the CoinVault ransomware might be able to decrypt their files with a free tool released by Kaspersky Lab together with the Dutch police. The tool can be found at The application uses decryption keys found by the Dutch police as part of an investigation.

Company News:

Cost of a data breach: 58 cents per record, says Verizon – The financial hit due to cyberattacks appears to be wildly overstated. Instead of $201 per record, actual insurance claims show a cost more like 58 cents per record, according to Verizon’s latest Data Breach Investigations Report.

Report: Apple sold more than a million Apple Watches in the U.S. on Friday – All models of Apple Watch quickly sold out when preorders began overnight last Friday, but now we have a better idea of which Watches were most popular. According to e-retail research firm Slice Intelligence, 957,000 people in the U.S. bought an Apple Watch on Friday—and many of those people bought two. The space gray Apple Watch Sport with a black Sport band was the bestselling Watch, which reflects anecdotal data we’ve heard from readers and colleagues.

Qualcomm feels investor pressure to spin off chip business – Activist investor Jana Partners has asked the chipmaker to divide its chip and patent licensing businesses in hopes of boosting Qualcomm’s sagging share prices.

LinkedIn Elevate aims to turn employees into content sharing machines – Leave it to LinkedIn to find a way to add even more spam to your life. The professional social network has a new app called Elevate that aims to turn the world’s corporate drones into content sharing machines. With this new app, companies can offer employees a steady stream of content such as articles and bland quotes they can share online.

IBM’s Watson Health division will incorporate patient data from Apple – The health information your Apple Watch collects could eventually end up in IBM’s Watson cloud computing platform, where medical researchers and doctors can tap it in the course of their work. On Monday, IBM launched the Watson Health business unit, which will focus on providing the health care community with the analysis tools required to make sense of the many forms of data used in clinical care.

Daimler Launches Electric Vehicle Driving Courses – Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler AG is co-launching electric vehicle (EV) driving courses at ACADEMY driving schools in Stuttgart, Germany, the company said. The initiative, sponsored by Daimler and ACADEMY Holding AG, was designed to “prepares novice drivers for a future of electric mobility,” the auto maker said. Beginning this month, the five driving schools in the greater Stuttgart area “will be offering learner drivers a simple and timely introduction to today’s world of locally emission-free mobility,” Daimler said in a statement .

India’s Airtel faces the wrath of consumers, politicians with Zero – How much Airtel’s Zero violates net neutrality principles is being hotly debated, but what is clear is that this latest marketing ploy by India’s largest telco is quickly turning into a public relations fiasco.

Games and Entertainment:

The death knell for optical media: There will be no more Simpsons DVDs – Once, at the turn of the century, we clamored for the ability to own entire seasons of The Simpsons. Then in 2001 with the release of the first season on three DVDs, we had it. Now, 14 years later, we’ve lost it. Fox Home Entertainment, who up until this week had been making DVD sets for seasons of The Simpsons, decided to shift future episodes’ distribution to streaming digital services only.


Grand Theft Auto V will let you direct your own in-game movies on PC – Grand Theft Auto V finally hits the PC this week, and the new version comes with a great new feature: a video feature that lets you easily share your exploits in Los Santos. Called the Rockstar Editor, the tool lets you record gameplay with a simple button click, and then customize it with multiple camera angles, filters, and even your own audio. It also includes a feature called “Director Mode,” which Rockstar says “allows you to stage creative moviemaking sequences from a cast of characters ranging from familiar faces from story mode, to pedestrians and even animals.”


Destiny “House of Wolves” trailer unveiled, expansion coming May 19th – After leaving Microsoft, fans knew to expect something big from former Halo creator Bungie. In 2014, Destiny made its debut and was embraced by gamers to much fanfare. Although much time hasn’t passed since its initial release, Bungie is readying a second expansion, “House of Wolves,” due on May 19th. While details about the expansion are scarce, the Destiny website does have some details regarding what we can expect from the second expansion.


Game of Thrones Season 5 Premiere is free on Xbox consoles – In case you’re looking for a way to enjoy the opening episode of the new season in the Game of Thrones saga, legally(!), Microsoft has you covered as starting today, until the 16th, you’ll be able to watch the episode for free on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Moral Bucket List – About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all. I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments. If we wanted to be gimmicky, we could say these accomplishments amounted to a moral bucket list, the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life. Here, quickly, are some of them:

Why 15% of US consumers can’t use Netflix, Dropbox, and other cloud services – A Pew report indicates that 15% of US consumers have limited internet options other than a cell phone. With restrictive data caps, some of these consumers are unable to effectively utilize cloud services.

Silence is golden: Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp is 100 today – Although only just over 32 minutes in duration, Chaplin’s The Tramp was a fairly long film for the time. More importantly, it saw the first real appearance of his famous tramp persona; a hobo who – while often causing mayhem as he generated slapstick and laughs – was ultimately a caring chap, someone who would ultimately be rejected by a cruel(ish) world. A homeless man who could, and did, inject a note of pathos into 20th Century comedy. It was a poignant move that Chaplin had been considering for years – a semi-serious touch that would reflect his own, partly tragic background. He was born in a poverty-stricken part of London in 1889 and his childhood involved the trauma of dealing with a mentally ill mother.


Having burnt his backside on a camp fire while protecting the farmer’s daughter, the tramp is unable to sit down and has to eat standing up.

How To Survive the UK General Election 2015: A Guide for First-Time Voters – From spotting a bad bastard you shouldn’t vote for to disagreeing with your friends without falling out.


Illustration by Dan Evans.

I Was Using Google Maps When All Of A Sudden…What?! That Is Seriously Crazy – The street view on Google Maps is a great feature, especially for checking out places you’ve never been before. Sometimes though, Google inadvertently captures some candid, hilarious, and/or beautiful pictures of the spots they’re mapping. Just imagine checking out a new place on street view and seeing one of these 31 pictures. Wait until you get to #11. That would freak me out.


Never drink a boring beer again, thanks to these beer tea bags – It’s more than just a tea bag, it’s a specially crafted infusing sachet filled with magical beer-bettering goodness, and it’ll make sure that you never have to drink a boring old beer ever again. The company behind the sachets is Hop Theory, and they’ve taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to mass-produce their flavor-enhancing beer bombs. It’s not instant beer in a teabag, but it’s still pretty cool stuff.


NASA made an autonomous car too, and it makes Google’s look dull – Auto makers the world over are scrambling to create cars that can drive themselves, but they’re not the only ones interested in such technology. NASA has set its sights on the technology, something we’ve heard bits and pieces about in the past. Today the space agency decided to show the fruits of its labor, however, posting a video on its YouTube account of the finished product. It is called the Modular Robotic Vehicle, MRV for short, and it can — among other things — drive itself when needed.


Something to think about:


Today’s Free Downloads:


Get it here.

Windows Firewall Console 19 – Windows Firewall Console is a lightweight and straight-forward piece of software aimed to serve as an interface for your Firewall, enabling you to decide which are the utilities that can run safely on your system.

Clean and intuitive appearance following the download process, you can just use the installer and run the executable, as it is necessary to go through an installation process in order for the application to function, yet quite easy to handle. The red shield functions as a ‘Cancel’ button while the green shield lets you approve certain actions.

Patch your Firewall, then begin making configuring it to your liking every time you launch Windows Firewall Console, you need to click on the white shield in the ‘Patch Firewall’ window, in order for the tool to be able to operate modifications on your system, which you will need to ‘Patch’ in the main window. By clicking on the Windows Firewall Console’s green shield, you can browse through your Computers running processes and select the safe applications; clicking on the red button will revert the changes to the default state.

Moreover, the utility enables you to run the ‘Webcam Monitor’ etc. The ‘Firewall Box’ lists the currently running TCP Connections on your PC. Despite its simple appearance, keep in mind that the modifications you operate can have unwanted effects and you should not perform them unless you understand how to configure your Firewall. Useful interface for your Firewall In conclusion, Windows Firewall Console is an efficient and easy to handle program created to function as a new skin for your Windows Firewall, allowing you to modify settings or add rules in just a few moves.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Hologram protesters march in Spain against controversial ‘security’ law – This has been a banner month for the future of protests. First, a Snowden statue was replaced with a hologram after being torn down in a Brooklyn park, and on Sunday, a group of hologram protesters marched in front of the Spanish building where the country’s Congress of Deputies meets.

As Fusion reports, the march, aside from being an impressive technical feat, was deeply ironic. The group behind the protest, No Somos Delito, was acting against the extremely controversial new “citizen security” law in the country, which places limits on freedom of expression, and specifically freedom of protest. Spaniards in violation of the law, which comes into effect this July unless beaten by a legal challenge, will face fines of several thousand euros for unauthorized protests.

Organizers have set up an appropriately futuristic website for the project, called Holograms por la Libertad, or Holograms for Freedom. “With the passing of the ‘gag’ law, you won’t be allowed to demonstrate in front of Congress,” a woman tells the viewer before becoming a hologram.


Everything We Know About the Stingray, the Cops’ Favorite Cell Phone Tracking Tool – On Friday, the Guardian published the results of the paper’s own Stingray investigation. Thanks to some unredacted documents from the Hillsborough County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department, the paper concluded that the FBI is directly involved in preventing police departments from sharing any information about their Stingray use and orders them to tell the Feds when requests for information on them are made so that they have time to “prevent disclosure.” Worse still, Stingrays are not to be discussed by Florida law enforcement in warrants, testimony, or anywhere in court ever—even at the cost of dropping a case against a defendant.

These revelations are just the latest pieces of concrete proof that spying is being conducted by police departments around the country—and that the federal government has a firm hand in keeping evidence of it far away from the public eye.

Even if the Patriot Act expires, the worst surveillance will carry on – Mark your calendars. The minute the clock strikes midnight on June 1 is when a key part of the controversial Patriot Act expires, leaving the National Security Agency down but not out of the phone records collection game.

Section 215 has come to a particular infamy in recent weeks, thanks in part to comedian John Oliver, who on his recent late-night weekly talk show described how it is being used to vacuum up the phone records of millions of Americans. The concern was that the program was effectively spying on whom Americans were calling, contrary to Fourth Amendment principles against unreasonable searches and seizures.

But the law is coming to an end. The theory goes that once Section 215 sunsets, the NSA won’t be able to collect those records, which it calls a “crucial national security tool.”

Except, there’s a catch. Almost nothing will change.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 13, 2015

Real talk: Deciphering the wireless marketing hype;  How to use your favorite mobile messaging service on your PC;  Hands on with Office Online and Dropbox;  Hello brings biometric security to Windows 10;  6 smart LED bulbs tested: We name the best and brightest;  How to install multiple SIM cards into an iPhone 6;  Microsoft Office Remote comes to Android;  How to select multiple languages for Google voice search;  Sprint to offer free international data roaming;  Fancy a wire-free laptop? Intel just showed one;  The 15 best Android games to play right now;  Facebook on tracking accusations: report gets it “wrong multiple times”;  9 ways smartphones are making our lives better;  Tech firms threaten exodus over French mass surveillance plans;  Graphic New Veteran-Sponsored Ads Are Asking Drone Pilots Not to Fly.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Real talk: Deciphering the wireless marketing hype – US wireless operators are revving their marketing machines in an effort to persuade wireless customers to switch carriers. How do you separate the hype from the reality? CNET’s Marguerite Reardon offers some advice.

How to use your favorite mobile messaging service on your PC – It’s ridiculous how many different mobile messaging services are out there right now. Looking at my own phone I’ve got Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Line, and WhatsApp installed, all to communicate with different people in my life. Most of these services are mobile centric, but many of them have desktop counterparts too—making life easier when you’re stationed in front of your PC. If you need to send and receive messages from your favorite mobile messenger on your PC here’s a list of the more popular services that offer official desktop counterparts.

Hands on with Office Online and Dropbox: A surprisingly smooth combo – Summary:Microsoft and Dropbox announced the latest move in their partnership today, with the availability of direct connections to Dropbox accounts from Office Online. Here’s how it works.

6 smart LED bulbs tested: We name the best and brightest for lighting your connected home – The idea is genius. Put a full array of colored LEDs inside a standard, screw-in light bulb along with a simple wireless radio. Connect the bulb to an app on your phone and, presto, you can change the brightness and the actual color of the lights in the room with a tap or a swipe. All told, color tuning represents the greatest advancement in lighting technology since The Clapper. ere’s a broad overview of how these bulbs stack up. Use the navigation tools at the bottom of the page to move back and forth between our hands-on reviews of each of the six bulbs.


Windows Hello brings biometric security to Windows 10 – Greg Shultz takes a look at Windows Hello, which is Windows 10 biometric security in a native format that will essentially eliminate the need for passwords.

Microsoft Office Remote comes to Android, lets you control presentations from your phone – On Thursday, Microsoft released Office Remote for Android, a free app that lets you quickly access key Office 2013 features from the palm of your hand. The most obvious use for Office Remote is the PowerPoint remote feature: Using it, you can control your presentation, view your slide notes, and “laser-point” at objects onscreen from the app, to name a few highlights.

How to install multiple SIM cards into an iPhone 6 – While most people manage quite well with a single SIM card, if you want better demarcation between your work and home life, or you want to make roaming with multiple SIM cards easier, then having the extra SIM or SIMs already in your smartphone is going to be a real timesaver. But how do you install an extra SIM or two into the iPhone 6? After all, that SIM tray is far too small to accept another SIM. Fear not! Here’s how you do it. And don’t worry, as no jailbreaking is required.

How to select multiple languages for Google voice search – Google has pushed voice search and actions to the forefront over the last few years, introducing features like the Google Now Launcher and the “OK Google” command. Many phones now let you initiate a search from any screen, and a few can even be woken up from slumber with the trigger phrase. However, when you do a voice search, Google only listens for your one default language. If you speak multiple languages, you can change that in a few taps.

Sprint to offer free international data roaming – Sprint hopes to attract new customers with a plan designed to give global travelers free data roaming in 15 countries. But will it be enough of an incentive?

HBO Now explained: Everything we know, and a few things we don’t – It’s called HBO Now, and it brings the network’s library of original series, movies, specials, and documentaries to people who don’t have a traditional cable or satellite TV subscription. The service costs $15 per month—roughly the same price HBO charges for its regular pay-TV network—and you can get started with a free 30-day trial. Now that the service is up and running, we have answers to many of the questions that came up after HBO’s announcement last month. But we’re also still scratching our heads over a few details. Here’s what we know, and what we don’t:

BitTorrent’s experimental, torrent-based browser has been released in beta for Windows – Late last year, BitTorrent announced its latest ambitious project for making the web more open: a browser that can access websites that are hosted through the BitTorrent protocol rather than on centralized servers. The Chromium-based Project Maelstrom browser started life in a closed alpha, but as of today BitTorrent is releasing it as an open beta. The only catch right now is that it’s for Windows users only, though BitTorrent says future versions of the browser will be available for Mac and Linux users, as well.

Twitter Is Pushing Celebrities And Publishers To Stop Using Meerkat –  Multiple sources tell TechCrunch that Twitter has been contacting celebrities who use Meerkat, trying to convince them Meerkat is dying and that they should use Periscope instead. Sources also say Twitter has been in touch with media companies that use Meerkat, going so far as to imply that if they don’t exclusively use Periscope, it could cut off their access to Amplify. Amplify, in short, is Twitter’s answer to commercial TV: it’s a product that pairs media companies with brands to create promoted tweets based around video clips, giving a boost of reach both to the media company and the brand sponsoring it.

Linux 4.0 brings Skynet closer to existence, offers reboot-free kernel patching – With Linux 4.0, we’re one step closer to the version of Linux used by the T-800 Terminator. But it’s full of handy improvements!

Fancy a wire-free laptop? Intel just showed one – Intel’s prototype can be wirelessly charged and connected to peripherals. Others like it could be launched in 2016, or even later this year.


Two-thirds of people filing taxes online do so using unsecured Wi-Fi – Your tax forms contain a lot of confidential data about your life, so security is an important facet if you’re filing online. Unfortunately, the same report indicates that 65% of people who file online are doing so using an open Wi-Fi connection, meaning they’re opening themselves up to potential attacks. Looking at TaxAct as an example, the login page does not automatically redirect to an HTTPS page. This gives a bad guy at the coffee shop or library a chance to hijack your session and provide their own SSL certificate in order to see all of your data. The rogue cert would provide an error, but most users will probably click “accept” anyway.

China Accused Of Decade Of Cyber Attacks On Governments And Corporates In Asia – The Chinese government is accused of being behind a newly discovered set of cyber attacks waged against government agencies, corporate companies and journalists across India and Southeast Asia over the past ten years. Security firm FireEye released a report today revealing a spate of corporate espionage and cyber spying offenses against targets located in India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and beyond. The group said attacks began in 2005.

China’s ‘Great Cannon’ DDoS tool enforces Internet censorship – China is deploying a tool that can be used to launch huge distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to enforce censorship. Researchers have dubbed it “the Great Cannon.” The first time the tool was seen in action was during the massive DDoS attacks that hit software development platform GitHub last month. The attack sent large amounts of traffic to the site, targeting Chinese anti-censorship projects hosted there. It was the largest attack the site has endured in its history.

Thousands could launch Sony-style cyber attack, says ex-hacker – Given the current security levels for most companies, 90 percent of them would be vulnerable to such an attack, which destroyed 3,000 computers and released sensitive information and proprietary content, security experts tell “60 Minutes.” And there is no shortage of technically proficient people willing to launch such an attack, said Jon Miller, a former hacker who now serves as vice president of strategy at Cylance, an antivirus software maker.

Company News:

Facebook on tracking accusations: report gets it “wrong multiple times” – Late last month, Facebook was accused of tracking users and non-users alike, and as such was said to be in violation of European law. The information came from a study commissioned by the Belgian Privacy Commission, and earlier this week Facebook fired back at the accusations, saying the report was wrong in more than one way. The social network posted a long statement by the company’s Vice President of Policy in Europe, Richard Allan, who tackled each claim individually.

Apple vs Android: winning in hardware, winning in software – While Apple wins in Hardware in the United States, Android wins in software. So says the most recent report on smart device usage in the United States. This week comScore has released their report mobile device usage in the month of February 2015 for the USA. This study showed the three month average starting in December of 2014, ending in February of 2015, and studied smartphone subscribers ages 13 and older. As you can probably guess already, Apple and their 2nd-place opponent Samsung are still neck-and-neck here in 2015 for hardware market share.


Apple asking for exclusive tunes to amp up Beats Music, report says – Hoping to entice consumers into paid subscriptions, Apple is said to be seeking songs exclusive to its Beats Music service from top artists like Taylor Swift and Florence and the Machine.

Indiegogo removes funding page supporting SC cop accused of murder – Indiegogo joins another site in taking down a fundraising page for Michael Slager, who has been arrested for fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back.

Games and Entertainment:

The 15 best Android games to play right now – Included within are our picks for the 15 most essential, can’t-miss Android games you ought to play right now. It’s a diverse mix of options: memorable adventures, addictive quick-hit affairs, and everything in between, spanning a wide array of genres and price points. Ready to find your next on-the-go gaming obsession?

Xbox 360 is finally getting 2TB external hard drive support – The Xbox 360 faired very well next to the PS3 during the last generation of games console hardware, but in one area it really came up short. Internal storage upgrades were limited to Microsoft’s official, and very expensive drives, and external storage support over USB was limited to just 32GB. You’d think with the Xbox One now being Microsoft’s main focus and having been on the market for 17 months that would be the end of the matter. However, Major Nelson has confirmed that Xbox 360 owners will be getting support for external hard drives up to 2TB in size before the end of 2015.


Stephen King opus The Dark Tower is being turned into a movie series – Stephen King’s magnum opus, a fantasy-horror series known as The Dark Tower, is once again on the path toward being turned into a movie series. Deadline reports that Sony Pictures will finance and distribute the first movie in what is intended to be a larger franchise. There are eight books in the series, which is about a “gunslinger” in a magical, Western world who’s trying to find a weakening tower that’s keeping the world together. The first film will be based on the series’ first book, The Gunslinger, and is being written by Akiva Goldsman, who previously co-wrote I Am Legend, and Jeff Pinkner, who recently co-write The Amazing Spider-Man 2.


PAMELA is a horror game without the cliches – Horror games are always fun, but too often they’re like horror movies — cliched and repetitive, repeating the same dry stories with vaguely similar characters. That’s not always true, though, and sometimes a horror game surfaces that breaks the mold in some way. PAMELA looks to be one of those, presenting a horror game wrapped in a bright-neon and clean science fiction-like package. It’s a survival horror game, and it’ll be available for the PC when it launches. Trailer available after the jump!


Reader picks: 15 more classic PC games you should play again – Try narrowing down the entire 40-year legacy of PC gaming into 15 classic games and it turns out you’re going to miss a few. Last week, loyal PCWorld readers were kind enough to point out some big, gaping holes in our list of the 15 PC gaming classics you should revisit. And you’re right! Why limit the list to an arbitrary 15 games? Why not make it an arbitrary 30 instead?

Off Topic (Sort of):

9 ways smartphones are making our lives better – But while I like to joke about how smartphones are making us stupider…they’re actually not. Smartphones improve our lives in ways we never even think about, and I’m not just talking about sending us a Google Calendar alert so we don’t forget our anniversary. Here are 9 crazy ways smartphones are changing the world for the better:

Rand Paul, class clown, is now selling novelty Hillary Clinton hard drives – Hillary Clinton officially announced she’s running for president today, and Republican rival Rand Paul spared no time adding anti-Hillary merchandise to his campaign store. Alongside products like a “don’t drone me bro” t-shirt and an anti-NSA webcam cover, Paul’s campaign is now offering “Hillary’s hard drive:” a fake $99.95 “email server” meant to remind everyone of the troublesome private email account Clinton ran while serving as secretary of state.


The Definition of a Progressive: Are You a Progressive? – In the propaganda wars that surround elections, political labels often become detached from reality. It would be no surprise, then, if many people were wondering, Just who is a progressive? No one, of course, has the authority to decide who is a progressive and who isn’t. Yet if the label “progressive” has meaning at all, it is only because of some shared criteria we have in mind when we use it. So it might be worthwhile to put these criteria on the table, not to draw boundaries and hand out membership badges, but to spark a conversation about the common ground of ideas and values on which progressives stand, and to underscore the point that the center is not the left. So who is a progressive? You might be one if…

Professor explains whether cat is going up or down stairs – Technically Incorrect: An image of a cat on the stairs has captivated the Web and divided lovers and families. It needs an academic to sort it out.


Pointing up    The answer is pretty simple: cats lift their tails while moving down an incline –rarely while ascending. When was the last time you saw a cat dragging it’s tail while coming down a set of stairs. Never, would be close.  Fingers crossed

150 years after Lincoln assassination, massive online archive in the works – As the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination approaches, a massive digital archive is in the works that will be home to more than 100,000 documents related to the Civil War-era commander-in-chief. The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a project of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and it is co-sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln Association. The project is dedicated to identifying, imaging, transcribing, annotating, and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’ Theater in Washington, D.C.  on April 14, 1865.


President Lincoln with Gen. George B. McClellan and group of officers at Antietam, Md.

H2O Salamander trike turns into a boat when needed – The Filipino startup H2O has created a new automotive trike called the Salamander, and it comes in two iterations, both of them able to zip around on the road and in bodies of water like a boat. It is designed for those who live in regions prone to floods, lending a transportation option for those times when the roads are underwater. And, you know, for those who want to feel like James Bond. Both an all-electric and a gasoline version will be offered.


Eighth-grader charged with felony for shoulder-surfing teacher’s password – Domanik Green, an eighth-grader at Paul R. Smith Middle School in Holiday, Florida, was charged with an offense against a computer system and felony unauthorized access, according to a report published Thursday by The Tampa Bay Times. In late March, the youth allegedly used the administrative-level password without permission to log in to the school’s network and change the images displayed on a teacher’s computer to one of two men kissing. One of the computers accessed allegedly contained encrypted questions to the FCAT, short for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Something to think about:

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

–      John Kenneth Galbraith

Today’s Free Downloads:

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

It automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using a clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

Balabolka – Balabolka is a Text-To-Speech software application. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV or MP3 file.

The program can read the clipboard content, view the text from DOC, RTF and HTML files, customize font and background colour, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys.

Balabolka uses various versions of Microsoft Speech API (SAPI); it allows to alter a voice’s parameters, including rate, pitch, and volume.

The user can apply a special substitution list to improve the quality of the voice’s articulation. This feature is useful when you want to change the spelling of words. The rules for the pronunciation correction use the syntax of VBScript.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA wants tech companies to give it ‘front door’ access to encrypted data – The National Security Agency is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata. The NSA, on the other hand, continues to parade the idea that the government needs access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices to track and prevent criminal activity. Now, NSA director Michael S. Rogers says he might have a solution.

During a recent speech at Princeton University, Rogers suggested tech companies could create a master multi-part encryption key capable of unlocking any device, The Washington Post reports. That way, if the key were broken into pieces, no single person would have the ability to use it.

Tech firms threaten exodus over French mass surveillance plans – A number of prominent French tech companies are threatening to pull out of the country in the wake of the introduction of a bill that they argue will put the entire French population “under surveillance.”

Seven companies, including web hosting and technology companies OVH, IDS, and Gandi have said in a letter to the French prime minister Manuel Valls that they will be pushed into de facto “exile” if the French government goes ahead with the “real-time capture of data” by its intelligence agencies.

After three days of terrorist attacks in the French capital, European leaders are pushing for stronger measures to crack down on online “extremist” content.

The companies argued that being required by the law to install “black boxes” on their networks will “destroy a major segment of the economy,” and if passed it will force them to “move our infrastructure, investments, and employees where our customers will want to work with us.”

Citing a figure of 30-40 percent of foreign users, the companies say their customers come to them “because there is no Patriot Act in France,” referencing the US law that allows the bulk collection of phone records.

Canada Is Looking for Help Dealing with Terrorism, Espionage, and, Oh Yeah, Open Rebellion – What do you do when your populace rises up against you, throwing off the shackles of their oppression in an effort to replace your democratic government with a commune of like-minded proletariats, hell-bent on abolishing the class system by any means necessary?

That’s exactly what the Government of Canada is hoping to figure out.

The Department of Public Works posted a tender to a government contracting site at the end of March, for “security consulting services” in order to develop threat assessments for government of Canada assets and infrastructure in Ottawa.

The federal government wants a rundown of all the ways its properties might be vulnerable to terrorists, spies, thieves, natural disasters, and the collective uprising of a disenfranchised people.

Graphic New Veteran-Sponsored Ads Are Asking Drone Pilots Not to Fly – A group of anti-drone US military veterans want to put an end to American’s campaign of drone strikes in foreign countries, and they’re now taking the fight to prime time by directly calling on Air Force pilots to stop the destruction through a series of graphic television spots.

The ads, produced by and sponsored by the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento County and the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, is thought to be the first anti-drone campaign to be shown on US television. The spots advocate against the US drone strikes that have taken place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, and refer to the strikes as an “immoral law.” The spots are currently airing in Sacramento, which is near Beale Air Force Base.

“We reached a point where we understand the president and Congress are not going to stop these attacks, which we consider to be illegal and immoral,” Nick Mottern, coordinator of Know Drones, told VICE News today.



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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 10, 2015

Securing the web once and for all: The Let’s Encrypt Project;  New medical app provides Star Trek tricorder-like service;  Five desktop PCs that fit in your pocket;  Twitter for iOS now supports slow motion video uploads;  Smart Tech for Your Hotel Stay;  Should you Google an ex? Two ways to get Facebook Messenger on your desktop;  Dropbox vs. Carbonite: The difference between cloud-based storage and backup;  HBO available on Sling TV starting today;  Firefox helps you cover your assets with latest Tracking Protection feature;  Orange is the New Black: Season 3 trailer launches;  Here’s how IBM uses sensors and lasers to track the Masters;  9 fantastic movies now available for streaming;  Edward Snowden explains good passwords to John Oliver;  Dashlane (free);  European Facebook Privacy Lawsuit Heads To Court;  Microsoft still committed to fighting US Government.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Securing the web once and for all: The Let’s Encrypt Project – The Internet Security Research Group and its Let’s Encrypt project — a free, automated and open security certificate authority — wants to make the Internet securer than it is today.


Let’s Encrypt will make securing the web with basic SSL/TLS free and easy.

Don’t worry Facebook, you’re still down with the kids – Facebook may be regularly plagued with ominous predictions that teens with short attention spans have moved on to brighter social networks, but according to new research there’s still life in Zuckerberg’s site yet. The Pew Research Center prized teenagers away from their smartphones to ask them which social sites and apps they frequent, and while Facebook may have been branded passé by some, it’s still the most-used among the 13-17 demographic. That’s no small audience, either, with 24-percent of teenagers telling the research firm that they are “almost constantly” online.

Five desktop PCs that fit in your pocket: Intel Compute Stick, Google’s Chromebit and more – Stick PCs take the desktop computers of old and shrink them into pocket-sized gadgets. The market is hotting up, with upcoming offerings from Intel and Google. Here’s what’s around and in the wings.

New medical app provides Star Trek tricorder-like service – Learn about a new service called teleMED Assist which can connect you directly with medical staff for advice and assistance. It’s almost like a real-life version of Star Trek’s tricorder.


Should you google an ex? Depends on your motivation – Before you fall down the rabbit hole of tracking your ex’s life online, consult this flowchart to determine whether finding out everything about your former flame is the best idea.

Twitter for iOS now supports slow motion video uploads – Slow-motion videos are awesome. On iOS, it’s a native feature of the stock camera, and you can shoot in either 120fps or 240fps. Sharing those videos was a bit annoying, though. Slo-mo videos typically played back at regular speed, so your dog eating peanut butter was a lot less funny (but still hilarious). Via Twitter, you can now share those slow motion videos and they’ll be seen as intended. Unfortunately for Android, this is another Twitter feature that is iOS-only, at least for now.

Two ways to get Facebook Messenger on your desktop – Desktop and laptops users can access their Facebook messages without the rest of Facebook at, and Mac users can opt for a standalone app.

Boost iPhone 6 Battery, Storage With Mophie Space Pack – Choose a Space Pack with 32, 64, or 128GB of built-in storage; you use the accompanying Space application to transfer files back and forth between the supplemental storage and your actual device. The iPhone 6 (black or gold) and 6 Plus (black) Space Packs cost $149.95 (32GB), $199.95 (64GB), or $299.95 (128GB). The iPad mini version (black) will set you back $199.95, $299.95, or $399.95 for the same storage sizes. The Space Pack for iPhone 5 and 5s, released last year, is also still available for $149.95 (16GB), $179.95 (32GB), or $249.95 (64GB), and comes in black, white, blue, red, or gold.


Smart Tech for Your Hotel Stay – Traveling can disrupt your daily routine, but smart technology and some clever tips can help minimize those disruptions. In this video – brought to you by Fairfield Inn & Suites – business traveler and social media expert Amber Mac shares some of her favorite “hacks” for making hotel stays as productive as possible.

Dropbox vs. Carbonite: The difference between cloud-based storage and backup – You can use a cloud storage and syncing service like Dropbox or Google Drive for backup, but you have to understand the limitations.

Bing Image Search updated, more features added – Microsoft’s Bing engine may not be the most popular search engine but the company’s efforts and commitment make it a worthy alternative to Google. Recently, Bing’s image search feature has received some subtle layout improvements, but also some very useful features that further enhance the quality of search results.


Dropbox Teams With Microsoft To Allow Anyone To Edit Documents Online – Microsoft and Dropbox are expanding their already close partnership today with the reveal of a new integration that will now allow consumers to edit their Microsoft Office files, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, in Dropbox using Office Online via the web. Previously, many of these edits would have taken place using Microsoft Office’s desktop applications – which also meant that you would have to be at a computer where the software was installed. The online option makes the service more flexible, as you can edit your files from any computer, including a borrowed machine or a shared computer, like a business center’s kiosk PC, for example.

Here’s how IBM uses sensors and lasers to track the Masters – Summary:Using internet-connected devices to capture where golf balls are headed, users can now visualize exactly how a golf player tracked the course from their smartphones and tablets.


A look at IBM’s new golf-ball tracking technology (Image: IBM/

PC shipments hit a six-year low as XP upgrades slow down – A slowdown in Windows XP upgrades and the wait for Windows 10 sent worldwide PC shipments tumbling to a six-year low in the first quarter this year, according to IDC. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.5 million units during the first quarter, declining by 6.7 percent compared with the same quarter the previous year, IDC said Thursday. That is the lowest volume of first-quarter PC shipments since 2009, IDC said.


Facebook says it tracked people who didn’t use Facebook because of ‘a bug’ – Facebook today published a blog post responding to an independent report criticizing the company’s privacy policies, but the responses aren’t likely to mollify privacy hawks. The report, from the independent Belgian Privacy Commission, made several accusations about Facebook, suggesting the company had made it impossible for some users to truly opt out of tracking, or tracked users who had never even used Facebook — essentially, the report argues, keeping consumers from making their own decisions about their data. The problems identified could have implications for how the company operates in the EU, but Facebook’s responses seem mostly to be a matter of semantics.

Firefox helps you cover your assets with latest Tracking Protection feature – Did you know that not all websites honor Do Not Track? If privacy while browsing is at the top of your priority list, Jack Wallen offers up a Firefox tip that just might allow you to sigh a breath of private air. Did you know that even when browsing in Incognito Mode (regardless of browser), some websites can still collect data from you? Cookies, metadata… if a website really wants your information, they’ll go to all means to get it. Thankfully, browsers like Firefox are doing everything they can to ensure users can experience as much privacy as possible while browsing. In the latest release of Firefox, there’s a new feature called Tracking Protection.

Dashlane’s “Inbox Scan” Tool Uncovers The Passwords You’ve Saved In Your Email – Even if you create and use secure passwords with your various online sites, there are still a number of ways they can leak out. One area that’s often overlooked, according to password manager and digital wallet provider Dashlane, is email. That is, people often share their login credentials and plain-text passwords along with other sensitive data via email messages. That means if hackers get into your inbox, they can quickly gain the keys to a wide range of your accounts. And if you tend to re-use passwords, the damage could be even worse. That’s why Dashlane this week rolled out a new tool called Inbox Scan which will automatically search your email inbox for vulnerable information, including passwords you’ve shared. The program worked well for me on Gmail, but crashed on my Hotmail, so your mileage may vary, as they say. Still, given that Inbox Scan is an entirely free tool and is offering some fairly critical information you can and should take action upon, it’s hard not to recommend at least trying it out. The scan itself only takes a few minutes, depending on the size of your inbox, so it’s something you could do at any time.


French TV network blames “an Islamist group” for 11-station blackout – On Wednesday night, TV5Monde, a multi-station television network headquartered in Paris, France, saw 11 of its TV stations taken off the air for hours around the same time that it suffered an internal IT outage alongside a social media and website takeover. As of press time, the attack has left its broadcast capabilities hobbled.


Police operation disrupts Beebone botnet used for malware distribution – Europol, in collaboration with Dutch authorities, the U.S. FBI and private security companies, have seized the domain names used to control a botnet called Beebone. The police action Wednesday included a so-called botnet sinkholing operation that involved redirecting domains used by the botnet’s command-and-control servers to a server controlled by security companies. Such an action prevents attackers from controlling the botnet and also gives authorities a chance to identify victims whose computers are now connecting to the sinkhole server.

Company News:

US blocks Intel from selling Xeon chips to Chinese supercomputer projects – In February, four supercomputing institutions in China were placed on a U.S. government list that effectively bans them from receiving certain U.S. Exports. The four institutions, which include China’s National University of Defense Technology, have been involved in building Tianhe-2, the world’s fastest supercomputer, and Tianhe-1A. The two supercomputers have been allegedly used for ”nuclear explosive activities,” according to a notice posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Amazon suing sites that submit fake product reviews – If you’re like many people (myself included), you look to Amazon for product reviews, whether you buy there or not. If you’re like many people (I’m guilty, too), you just buy via Amazon and have the product shipped right to your door. Sometimes, reviews on Amazon are bogus. Sometimes, those reviews are even the result of review factories that pay people to flop out fake reviews to build a product up. Now, Amazon is taking umbrage with those entities, and is filing a lawsuit against one known purveyor of fake reviews.

Maven Launches The First Telemedicine Platform Made For Women With $2.2 Million In Seed – Maven, a telemedicine app that caters to the healthcare needs of women, launched out of beta today with $2.2 million in seed funding. Investors include Great Oaks Venture Capital, BoxGroup, F Cubed, and several angels including WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, former Gilt Groupe and AOL exec Susan Lyne, and Gerson founder Thomas Lehrman. Like other telemedicine platforms such as Doctor On Demand and HealthTap, Maven allows those on the app to ask questions, browse health discussions, or book a video appointment with a health practitioner. The key difference is that they don’t specifically focus on women’s health.


Reddit CEO supports gender equality by eliminating salary negotiations – In order to support gender equality, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao recently stated that the company will no longer allow potential employees to negotiate their salary or benefits with the organization.

Uber adds auto rickshaws in India, accepts cash for first time – New Delhi has received a lot of Uber attention in recent months, and not only over the rape allegations that surfaced in December. The ridesharing service has introduced some new safety measures in light of that incident in the region, and now it has announced another service for the region: auto rickshaws. The launch of this service will bring a new first for the platform, as well, in the form of cash payments, eschewing its app-based mobile payment system used with its other services.


LinkedIn buys training site, enters professional development market – LinkedIn is acquiring online learning company for US$1.5 billion in cash and stock, the social networking site announced Thursday. offers professional development courses on design, creative and business topics. Some of the courses, for example, teach how to write HTML, negotiate better, or use design software like Photoshop. The site was launched by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin in 1995 as a way to teach Web publishing and design.

Games and Entertainment:

HBO available on Sling TV starting today – HBO can be yours on Sling TV starting today if you’re willing to pay the extra $15 fee each month. Add that on top of Sling’s $20 subscription price and you’ll get both the linear, live HBO channel plus a video-on-demand section that’s the same sort of thing cable providers offer. Sling says that HBO is available across all devices that support the internet TV service today; those include Roku, Xbox One, Fire TV, iOS, Android, PC, and Mac.

Transformers: Battle Tactics mobile game update brings first event – Transformers: Battle Tactics is a mobile game allowing those on Android and iOS to play as Decepticons and Autobots, and earlier this week both apps received an update. Most notable with the update came support for Live Events, and so it makes sense that this would be the time for its maker, DeNA, to launch its first in-game event for the title. The in-game event kicked off today and will run to next week, bringing an assortment of goodies with it.


Orange is the New Black: Season 3 trailer launches – Netflix has released a trailer giving us a glimpse of Orange is the New Black’s upcoming third season. The next season will be arriving on June 12, providing some summer entertainment during a season when fresh television content is hard to come by, and doing so in the same way the past two seasons have arrived: in a single big batch, facilitating those binge watching weekends. We’ve the rest of the details, as well as the trailer, after the jump!


Reissue of Intellivision and Colecovision consoles aim for retro gamers – Back in the 80s, there were a few video game systems on the market that kids around the country wanted to have in their homes. The most popular of those was the Atari and the Nintendo. There were some lesser-known game consoles that were popular and has announced that it is bringing a couple of those old school game consoles back to the masses.


Microsoft readying new “Age of Empires II: HD Edition” expansion in 2015 – It’s been a little over two years since Microsoft released “Age Of Empires II” in HD. While the title has previously received an expansion, Microsoft will be releasing an all-new original expansion for the game sometime in 2015. For those that are too young to remember, “Age of Empires” was initially released in 1997 by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. While the first game received fairly good reviews, the title that is undoubtedly considered the gem of the series is “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings”.


Variations on violence: 9 fantastic movies now available for streaming – This week’s selection of movies available for streaming features violence of one kind or another, ranging from epic battles to the struggle of one man’s obsession. The movies run from fast-paced and light-hearted to brutal and realistic, slow-paced and thoughtful, to downright frightening. In one case, there is real-life violence as man ventures a little too far into the wild. But to kick it all off, we have none other than Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski, who believes that “this aggression will not stand.” Enjoy!

Off Topic (Sort of):

DARPA’s latest program will create evolving Skynet-like software – DARPA has some new plans up its sleeve, and they sound uncomfortably similar to SKYNET. Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems (BRASS) is the program, and it involves building software systems able to both survive for more than a century and adapt as needed to facilitate that — essentially, DARPA wants to create software able to recognize changes in a related ecosystem and “safely and dynamically incorporate optimized, tailored algorithms and implementations” in response.

Edward Snowden explains good passwords to John Oliver (with help of Margaret Thatcher) –  In a new outtake of their now famous meeting in Moscow, Edward Snowden uses a password example that features Margaret Thatcher’s legendary sexiness to show what a good password looks like.


The FTC is worried about algorithmic transparency, and you should be too – It’s no secret that algorithms power much of the technology we interact with every day, whether it’s to search for information on Google or to browse through a Facebook news feed. What’s less widely known is that algorithms also play a role when we apply for a loan, for example, or receive a special marketing offer. Algorithms are practically everywhere we are today, shaping what we see, what we believe and, to an increasing extent, what our futures hold. Is that a good thing? The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, like many others, isn’t so sure.

Index ranks Canada as sixth most socially advanced country – Canada sits in 6th place of 133 countries – the highest of any G7 nation – in an annual “social progress index” to be released Thursday. The index, whose methodology was developed by Harvard economics professor Michael Porter, is meant to complement the traditional measure of gross domestic product in assessing progress. It tracks 52 indicators – from crime levels to literacy rates and gender equality – that reflect whether a country is providing essential needs to its citizens and opportunities for people to improve their lot in society.


The first woman CEO to appear in a Google Images search is … CEO Barbie – The Google Images results reflect a male-dominated corporate culture. Doing a search at the site for “CEO” reveals just one female face in the top results: CEO Barbie. The doll (which may not even be a real Barbie product) appears way down in the results, under a sea of male, mostly white faces. It’s not really the fault of Google, whose algorithms in many ways reflect the pervasive culture: Most of the top images labeled CEO at popular sites apparently are men. But it’s an indication of how under-represented woman are at the top of the corporate ladder.

Pepper-spraying drones will be used on Indian protesters – Indian police will start using pepper-spraying drones to control unruly crowds of protesters. Officials described the drones as a “non-lethal but very effective” method of “mob control.” The city’s police force has bought five of the paper-spraying drones at a cost of around 600,000 rupees ($9,650), with plans for them to go airborne by the end of April. The unmanned aircraft can be flown within a one-kilometer radius of their operator and carry two kilograms of pepper onboard. They are also equipped with high-resolution cameras to surveil their targets.

Something to think about:

“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

–     Henry James

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dashlane – Keeping track of passwords and making them secure is startlingly simple with Dashlane’s free password manager. Automatically import your passwords from Chrome or any other browser into your secure password vault. Save any missing passwords as you browse. Make a new password right within your browser. Get automatic alerts when websites get breached.

And with our auto-login, you will never have to type any password on any of your devices again. It’s that simple.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK government’s spying practices challenged at European human rights court – The U.K. government’s mass surveillance practices will be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights.

Human rights and civil liberties organizations Amnesty International, Liberty and Privacy International have filed a joint application with the court, they announced on Friday.

The groups assert that U.K domestic law governing the U.K. intelligence agencies’ interception of communications and its intelligence sharing with the U.S., are in breach of fundamental human rights to privacy, freedom of expression and non-discrimination guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. The challenge is based on documents disclosed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealing mass surveillance practices by intelligence agencies.

The suit filed with the ECHR is a response to a December ruling of the U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal which found that mass surveillance of Internet traffic by tapping fiber optic cables going in and out of the U.K. and intelligence sharing between the U.S. and the U.K. was lawful in principle and did not violate human rights.

The schemes were found to be legal because the government disclosed parts of secret policies used to govern these surveillance programs. As they were made public, the court found that the surveillance was compliant with human rights. In a follow-up ruling in February this year though, the tribunal ruled that the sharing of mass surveillance data between U.S. and U.K. intelligence services was unlawful before December 2014, as the policies governing these processes were secret.

European Facebook Privacy Lawsuit Heads To Court In Vienna – The class action was initiated by Europe vs Facebook privacy campaigner and lawyer, Max Schrems, who has been pricking Facebook’s data protection conscious for years — including forcing the social network to offer a global user vote on proposed policy changes back in 2012.

Europe vs Facebook’s latest legal initiative started last year, in August, with an invitation for participants to join in the civil action. The suit quickly attracted 25,000 sign ups, with a further 50,000 registered to assign their claims if the suit ended up being able to accommodate greater numbers.

The lawsuit targets the following “unlawful acts” on the part of Facebook, as the group sees it:

Data use policy which is invalid under EU law

The absence of effective consent to many types of data use

Support of the NSA’s ‘PRISM’ surveillance programme

Tracking of Internet users on external websites (e.g. through ‘Like buttons’)

Monitoring and analysis of users through ‘big data’ systems

Unlawful introduction of ‘Graph Search’

Unauthorised passing on of user data to external applications

Microsoft still commited to fighting US Government attempt to access overseas data – For the last year Microsoft has been fighting a legal battle over the right of the United States government to issue warrants for data stored in its overseas datacenters, specifically the company’s datacenter in Dublin, Ireland. As of right now Microsoft has lost every major case in this contest, so the decision to keep fighting on behalf of their users is admirable.

The US Government claims that because Microsoft is a corporation based in the US, the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to issue subpoenas and warrants for data hosted by Microsoft, regardless of where the bits themselves physically reside. Microsoft argues otherwise, that as an international company with holdings all over the world the data it stores in Ireland, or other countries, should be subject to those nations laws instead of US law.

This is important, as the eventual outcome of this case will determine how easy it is for the US government to gain access to data stored by American corporations, currently a hot topic around the world. In this case, Microsoft is fighting on behalf of all its international customers who rightly believe they are outside the legal jurisdiction of the US.

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