Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday Edition – May 15, 2015

Your Favorite Apps Know More About You Than You Realize;  Skype’s amazing real-time Translator Preview now available to all;  Five airfare apps that can save you big bucks;  How to Quit Social Media (and Why You Should);  30 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know;  Master multitasking on Android with these clever apps and tools;  Here’s What You Could Do With a $9 Computer;  Securely wipe your files, hard drive or SSD with one of these free utilities;  The rise of Zombie Apps on the mobile landscape;  For Venom security flaw, the fix is in: Patch your VM today;  GTA 5 “Angry Planes” mod and more tipped as viruses;  House votes 338-88 to stop bulk phone data collection;  Insecure routers hacked yet again.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Your Favorite Apps Know More About You Than You Realize – Earlier this week, a long-lost co-worker sent me a request on Trivia Crack. The message flashed on my iPhone’s screen, and then later popped up in my Facebook notifications. Hours later, an old barfly friend of mine sent another one. And then after a few days passed, a high school classmate sent one as well. Something had to be up, because not only was I not a big Trivia Crack player, I didn’t even have the app on my phone anymore. To learn more, I turned to PrivacyGrade, a website funded by the National Science Foundation that rates apps based on how invasive they are, compared to how people expect them to behave.

Skype’s amazing real-time Translator Preview now available to all – The company announced on Tuesday that the beta app is now available to all Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview users, no sign-up or wait list needed. If you want to have a translated, spoken conversation with someone who speaks Italian, Mandarin, or Spanish, just download the free app from the Windows Store. Microsoft says Skype Translator works with almost any Skype client, meaning only you need to be the one with the Translator app enabled. The app can also translate instant message conversations in more than 50 languages including the oh-so-geeky favorite: Klingon.

How to make Dropbox more secure without spending a cent – Dropbox has had its share of security woes over the years. While the cloud storage provider has done much to beef up its defenses, there’s still plenty you can do on your own to improve the safety of your files. Here are a few ways to get started.

Five airfare apps that can save you big bucks – Whether you travel a little or a lot, these apps will help you find the best available prices on airfare.

How to Quit Social Media (and Why You Should) – If social media has you down, here’s a guide to slowly but surely walk away, temporarily or for good.

Master multitasking on Android with these clever apps and tools – This short collection of apps give you more control and customization options over things you do everyday, like saving a link, multitasking, or launching a new app. Every smartphone user’s palette is different, but odds area at least one of these apps will give you that “How did I live without this?” feeling.

There’s going to be a whole bunch of Windows 10 versions – Microsoft has just announced the set of Windows 10 SKUs, and there are seven of them, plus some others not mentioned. The first few editions are straightforward. Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, and Windows 10 Enterprise will fill the same roles as their Windows 8.1 namesakes. Home will be the mainstream consumer version. Pro will add most of the management features (such as domain joining) that Home lacks. Enterprise will add further management capabilities and will only be available through volume licensing agreements.

Windows 10 will automatically install Candy Crush Saga, bundleware comes to Redmond – It’s no secret that Microsoft has had trouble filling its app stores with quality games and other content, so when the company announced Candy Crush Saga would be coming to Windows 10, it sounded like good news. But it’s not. Apparently, Microsoft has struck a deal with the devil to make this happen as the company has also said that Windows 10 will automatically install this game during the launch period of the new OS.

30 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know – It’s the ultimate digital repository. But what are the tips and tricks that will make you an Evernote master? We’ve got them here for you.

Don’t blink: Microsoft brings Hyperlapse video app to Windows Phone, Android – Summary:Intelligent algorithms and prior research in video stabilization make movies from Microsoft’s newest app fly past your eyes at breathtaking speed without appearing jumpy.


Google Tries Out New Gmail Login Screen – Gmail on Android is getting some updates, including a more reliable and user-friendly support for non-Gmail accounts. The Gmail login screen, meanwhile, is also getting an update that has some users annoyed.

Rdio launches cheap streaming-music tier…just like Rhapsody – Rdio unveils a $3.99-a-month plan that gives you infinite skips on Pandora-like radio stations plus 25 on-demand songs of your choosing. In other words: a riff on Rhapsody UnRadio.

Sony Tennis Sensor now available to perfect your swing – This is how athletes will be training in the future, with almost inconspicuous sensors and smartphones. Or at least that’s the future that Sony is painting. Almost a year in the making, the consumer electronics giant is finally making available its Smart Tennis Sensor. This little orange knob, which can fit in any certified racket bottom, will deliver statistics and critical information about a player’s swing, force, and other aspects of a player’s performance that could make or break the next Grand Slam championship match.


Google Docs and Slides finally let you insert images from your phone or tablet – Drive and Sheets also get bug fixes, rounding out a batch of updates to Google’s productivity suite.

Raspberry Pi Model B+ price cut to just $25 – The Raspberry Pi B+, which was previously priced at $35, has had its price cut to just $25. The price cuts have already gone into effect on the primary Raspberry Pi stockist websites: RS Components in the UK (£16) and MCM Electronics in the US ($25). According to Raspberry Pi, the price reduction was made possible by “production optimizations,” though no specifics were given. At first glance, there don’t appear to be any board- or component-level changes, though Raspberry Pi might not have updated its product images yet.


Here’s What You Could Do With a $9 Computer – By and large, you get what you pay for. That’s an adage that applies to everything from expertly crafted clothing to well cooked food. But when the price of goods drops dramatically, that doesn’t always mean you get less. Case in point: C.H.I.P., a $9 computer that’s raising money on Kickstarter right now. So, what will the 22,000 (and counting) C.H.I.P. users be able to do with their matchbook-sized PC? A lot, actually. Here’s 6 uses for the small wonder.


C.H.I.P. and battery.

Reddit’s anti-harassment policies protect users, ideas still fair game – Reddit, the so-called ‘front page of the Internet’, has a bit of a bad rap. Most of that reputation is earned; trolls would take to Reddit to harass or belittle others, and it became a dumping ground for all kinds of unsavory content. Largely unregulated since inception, Reddit has announced some anti-harassment policies — their first official stance on behavior that kept so many users away for so long. Now, attacking a person via Reddit will land you in hot water.


You can securely wipe your files, hard drive or SSD with one of these free utilities – You delete a file, then empty the recycle bin. But the contents of that file remains on your drive. Here’s what to do about that.


Insecure routers hacked yet again – The sorry state of consumer (a.k.a. SOHO) routers has reared its ugly head again. This time it came from a report issued by Incapsula called “Lax Security Opens the Door for Mass-Scale Abuse of SOHO Routers”. At the heart of the report is a familiar idea: routers configured with default passwords. Even worse, the malware-infected routers that Incapsula discovered were accessible from the Internet using both HTTP and SSH on their default ports. Bingo! You just can’t make a bigger security mistake than to enable remote administration with default passwords. Hacking routers is now a thing.

For Venom security flaw, the fix is in: Patch your VM today – Venom (Virtualized Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation), the recently discovered security hole in the open-source QEMU virtual machine hypervisor, has been fixed. That’s the good news. The bad news is many of you, even though you may use a QEMU-based hypervisor on your server or for your cloud, think you’ve nothing to worry about. You do.

The rise of Zombie Apps on the mobile landscape – Zombie Apps are a growing threat in mobility. This new phrase as it applies to mobility threats is not to be confused with the same term which, as TechCrunch explained last January, refers to “apps can only be discovered [in an online store] by searching for a specific type of app, or by searching for the app’s name directly” – in other words, those which do not appear in any category lists or ranks. This kind of zombie app is much more sinister.

It’s surprisingly easy to wipe a stolen Apple Watch without the passcode – If your Apple Watch gets stolen, the thief will have no trouble wiping your data and then using or selling the device, as an apparent bug in Apple’s software allows a hard reset without your passcode.

EU: Blocking access to file-sharing sites ‘ineffective’ against piracy – Internet site-blocking and shutdowns have almost no effect against music and video piracy, new research from the European Union says. A new paper published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center concluded that copyright enforcement tactics, which include blocking of Web addresses to known illegal file-sharing and video-streaming sites, saw “significant but short-lived” declines in piracy levels. Relying on clickstream data of more than 5,000 internet users across three countries, researchers determined that there was “little difficulty” for those users to switch to other sites.

Asian nations increasingly hit by espionage groups – Multiple cyberespionage groups are specifically targeting government and military organizations from countries in Asia and the Pacific region with the goal of gathering geo-political intelligence, according to new security research. Some of the groups have been active for years, but the extent of their operations are only now coming to light.

Company News:

Facebook hikes minimum wage to $15/hr for contractors, vendors – The movement to get a higher minimum wage and more benefits for workers in the United States has apparently had its effect on Facebook, with the social network announcing on Wednesday its plan to boost the minimum wage and other benefits for its vendors and contractors. This will include a new $15 minimum wage, perks for new parents, more than two weeks minimum of paid time off, and more. The same standards were also put into place for some of the workers at Facebook’s headquarters earlier this month.

Verizon and Sprint pay $158 million in fines for fraudulent phone charges – Verizon Wireless and Sprint have agreed to pay a combined $158 million to settle allegations that they hit cellular customers with unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as “cramming.” Most of the money will go toward giving customers refunds. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission announced the settlements today. Previously, federal regulators forced T-Mobile US and AT&T to pay $90 million and $105 million, respectively, over similar allegations.

Walmart’s testing a $50 Amazon Prime competitor – Walmart reportedly plans to take on Amazon this summer with an invite only trial program that offers unlimited free delivery for a low annual fee.

Symantec misses the mark with Q4 earnings, outlook weak – The security software maker reported a net income of $176 million, or 25 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 43 cents per share on a revenue of roughly $1.52 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 44 cents per share with $1.56 billion in revenue. In reflection of the miss, Symantec shares started to tumble in after-hours trading by initially three percent.

Bing joins Google in favoring mobile-friendly sites – Microsoft is adjusting how it ranks Bing search results for mobile users, prioritizing sites that display better on smaller screens to accommodate the increased use of mobile search. The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets. Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.

Games and Entertainment:

GTA 5 “Angry Planes” mod and more tipped as viruses – If you’re a Grand Theft Auto 5 fan who plays on the PC, you better think twice before you download mods…even if they’re popular and widely known. Reports from upset users are stating that some of the most popular GTA 5 mods are installing malware of various sorts on users computers, including keyloggers and other programs. The “Angry Planes” mod is cited as one malicious GTA 5 mod, as well as “NoClip” and a mod manager. One user in particular has gone so far as to publish removal guides.


Stardock releases Galactic Civilizations III, a true 64-bit native strategy game – With Galactic Civilizations III’s release today, the PC gets its first native 64-bit strategy game. 64-bit, along with DirectX 12 is the one-two combination that is about to transform games both on the PC and the latest consoles (on the PS4, their GNM API accomplishes the same thing). Galactic Civilizations is a space-strategy game in which players start with Earth and must compete for control of the galaxy against multiple alien civilizations (controlled by either an AI or other human players via the Internet). For strategy games, 64-bit is a particularly big deal. While players have wanted strategy games with a “living” world to play in, the reality was that there just wasn’t enough memory available to deliver on that and have a good user experience.


The Witcher 3 Collector’s Edition is so big, it needs a person for scale – When you purchase a collector’s edition of a new video game, you expect it to come in a slightly bigger box. That’s because these editions usually include an art book, an extra disc for the soundtrack, and maybe a key chain or physical emblem of some sort. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a collector’s edition, and it’s absolutely massive.


Microsoft ban of Gears of War leakers doesn’t brick console – Leaks in whatever industry, be it mobile or gaming, isn’t a new thing, but most of the time, these “sources” are able to get away scot-free. However, rare and unfortunate is it for those who have been caught red-handed and have been punished for being too eager to share things covered by NDAs. Microsoft has apparently taken such action against testers of an unannounced but also leaked Xbox One remake of Gears of War. But what would normally be a non-event has been blown into a full scale drama involving claims of bricked Xbox One consoles.

The Xbox One was the best selling console in April according to the NPD – According to a report by the NPD Group, Microsoft’s Xbox One was the top selling console in the US for the month of April. The last time the Xbox One triumphed over rival Sony’s Playstation 4 was back in December. Factors influencing this likely included the un-pairing of the Kinect last year which allowed for a lower price point, as well as Microsoft’s continuing strategy of offering a $50 discount on top of bundling major game titles with new consoles.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Kim Dotcom just called out Clinton with Assange’s untold secrets – Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom speaks up about the 2016 Presidential Elections in the United States, suggesting that Julian Assange will call out Hillary Clinton with some “potential roadblocks.” In an interview about a wide range of internet-related topics, Dotcom spoke with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang this week on “Studio 1.0.” This interview called upon Dotcom’s earlier suggestion that he would be “Hillary’s worst nightmare in 2016,” while Dotcom suggested further that he’d “have to say it’s probably more Julian,” but that he was “aware of some of the things” that will inhibit Clinton’s road to the White House.

3D tech brings big data analytics to crime scene investigations – With 3D, not only can investigators record crime scenes and vital evidence data points, but they can take the 3D scans and review them at the office from multiple points of view, whether it be from the alleged victim, the perpetrator, or an observer. The ability to model crime scenes without losing the integrity of recorded evidence and data provide greater insights into crimes and motives. The objective of this forensic mapping process is to better understand what happened at the crime scene, and to be able to convincingly convey this understanding in a way that the evidence stands up in a court of law. owner pleads guilty to helping others beat lie detector – A former cop and owner of the website has pleaded guilty to five charges of obstruction of justice and mail fraud for teaching people how to cheat lie detector tests. Douglas Williams, 69, of Norman, Oklahoma, faces up to 20 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine for selling polygraph-evasion training to two clients who were actually part of an undercover sting operation.

Moonfish found to be first warm-blooded fish – The moonfish, also known as the opah, is the first known warm-blooded fish, it has been announced. This rather voluptuous fish warms its blood using a flapping motion with its pectoral fins, and maintains that heat it generates with “a series of counter-current heat exchangers within its gills”. The fish is found in deep sea waters around west Africa and Hawaii, and can grow to be several feet in size. As far as researchers know, this is the first fish of its kind.


US Companies Are Throwing a Fit Because They’re Losing Control Over the Internet – Control over the internet is slipping away from the US government and American corporations in favour of a more global approach, and the corporations don’t like how they’re being treated so far. In a US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing today, representatives from the International Trademark Association, Amazon, and other US-based internet commerce organizations testified about how they’ve been treated unfairly by the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit corporation charged with managing new domain names.

New England Patriots bring out Nobel Prize winner in Deflategate rebuttal – Technically Incorrect: Still fighting a four-game suspension of their quarterback, the Patriots create a Web site to counter what they say is the NFL’s dismissal of scientific evidence about ball deflation.

Tesla resolves driverless car liability argument with one tweak – Through a simple modification in its driverless vehicle technology, Tesla has answered the question of who is responsible when collisions involving these cars take place.

Something to think about:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood … who spends himself in a worthy cause, and who, at the best, knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

–       Theodore Roosevelt

Today’s Free Downloads:

Toolwiz Time Freeze – A free instant system protection tool that will protect your system from any unwanted changes and malicious activity in low disk level. Toolwiz also has a complete, all in one suite called Toolwiz Care.

With a simple click, it puts your actual system under virtual protection on the fly and creates a virtual environment as a copy of the real system, on which you can evaluate applications, watch movies, and perform online activities. It provides higher-level security to computer protection, and greatly improves the efficiency of virtual system


svchost viewer – Ever wondered what all those svchost.exe files are running ?? well here is an app to tell you, gives you some basic information like the Name, Description and the program path.

– No installstation required.

– Only requirement is that you have .net installed (ver 2.0 or newer).

– Work in Windows XP (sp2) and Vista and Windows 7(Beta).

– Coded in C#


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

House votes 338-88 to stop bulk phone data collection – Nearly two years after the US government’s collection of telephone calls became public following the Edward Snowden leaks, the US House of Representatives has passed, by a vote of 338-88, the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the government’s phone surveillance database. The data will still be available for government searches, but it will lie with the individual phone companies.

The bill was opposed by 47 Republicans and 41 Democrats, most of whom said the proposal didn’t go far enough to protect civil liberties. A roll call of votes on the bill is available here.

Policymakers on all sides of the surveillance debate were under pressure to make some kind of move, with relevant portions of the Patriot Act set to expire at the end of this month. The USA Freedom Act ends the bulk phone database but doesn’t include many other wished-for reforms, such as a privacy advocate at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was in an earlier version of the bill. It also doesn’t include “minimization” procedures meant to make sure the government purges information about people not related to its investigations.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where some Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said that the bulk database shouldn’t be ended at all. That set off threats of a filibuster by surveillance reformers like Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) It’s unclear how the bill will fare in the upper house.

The New NSA Reform Bill Would Give the Government Even More Power to Spy on Your Smartphone – On Wednesday afternoon, the House passed the USA Freedom Act by large margins 383 to 88. What happens now—specifically, what the Senate will do—is anyone’s guess.

The bill, authored by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, would replace the existing phone dragnet operated under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. Currently, the NSA aims to obtain the records of all American’s phone calls every day, and holds on to those records for five years, querying under limited circumstances. Under the USA Freedom Act, telephone providers would instead hold onto the records, and the government would submit queries on individual accounts to get daily data on ingoing and outgoing calls and connected accounts.

Australia: Piracy site-blocking Bill limits right to expression: Committee – An Australian parliamentary committee has expressed concern that legislation to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block sites such as The Pirate Bay could limit freedom of expression.

The Australian government introduced legislation in March that would allow rights holders to get an injunction placed on ISPs to force telcos to block specific overseas piracy websites from access by Australian users.

The rights holders would need to demonstrate that the primary purpose of a website is for the infringement of copyright before the Federal Court will order ISPs to block it.

The legislation has been unsurprisingly welcomed by rights holders — albeit arguing that the legislation should make it even easier to block sites than is currently contained in the Bill — but has been condemned by consumer groups and internet companies, including Google.

In a report handed down by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday, the committee said that the legislation could result in sites being blocked that are for legitimate purposes, and it would therefore be a breach of the right to freedom of opinion.

Look out, law abiding folk: UK’s Counter-Extremism Bill slithers into view: Might as well just abolish ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – The UK’s National Security Council is meeting today to discuss the new Counter-Extremism Bill, with prime minister David Cameron seemingly determined to target those spouting extremist rhetoric – even when no criminal offence has been committed.

“For too long we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone,” Cameron said in a government press release.

The PM will set out his intention to “prioritise new legislation to make it much harder for people to promote dangerous extremist views in our communities”, the release continued.

Chaired by the PM, the council will discuss the bill, which is set to be included in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 27 May.

The bill follows on from the recommendations of the Extremism Taskforce, delivered in December 2013, and is described as part of a wider package of legislative measures announced in the Home Secretary’s speech in March.

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