Category Archives: Freeware

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 8, 2015

How to use Google to sync all your passwords;  Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family;  Google needs to fix what ails Chrome;  Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go?  How to use your smartphone less and be happier;  Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you?  Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator;  Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft;  Stop the inbox insanity!  Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild;  Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off;   Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy;  You can now subscribe to Showtime online;  CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company;  Rdio launches new curated stations;  This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids;  PaperScan Free.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google to sync all your passwords – Securely store your passwords with Google and forget about the need to pay for a password manager.

Top 10 senior citizen scams that affect the whole family – Users over the age of 50 have an especially difficult time keeping their identities and bank accounts safe, as they may find that all of the practical sense they have developed over the years to spot scams in real life just don’t translate on the internet. Scammers know how vulnerable older generations can be on the web, and they take advantage of unsuspecting victims everyday. This can cause stress not just for seniors, but also for their entire family unit. Younger generations may also be fearful of how vulnerable their parents or grandparents are to internet fraud.

Android tablets, Chromebooks, and convertibles: Which setup makes sense for you? – Android tablets and Chromebooks are taking on all sorts of overlapping forms. Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the ever-expanding maze of options.

Say goodbye to the keyboard: Tablets are now the only work device for four in ten workers – Who needs a keyboard, anyway? Nearly half of workers are doing all their work on a tablet, a proportion that’s set to rise rapidly. According to research from analyst firm IDC, tablets are now 40 percent of business users’ only enterprise device, a figure that rises further when two-in-one hybrid devices are added into the mix. While the majority of tablet users in enterprises currently still have at least one other work device, such as a desktop PC or notebook, according to Marta Fiorentini, IDC senior research analyst, standalone tablets’ share is set to increase.

How to use your smartphone less and be happier – Nine hours. That’s how much time college students spend on their phones each day, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. It’s not entirely surprising. Whether you’re waiting in line for coffee or out “watching” fireworks overhead, it seems like everyone has their phone out in some capacity. It’s as if we prefer the confines of a pocketable screen with the world only in peripheral. So let’s learn to be healthier about our smartphone habits — here are 10 tricks to help with that.

Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? – The days of Windows being a system hog are gone. So modest are the requirements for Windows 10, you may be able to run it on machines that shipped with Windows Vista eight years ago. But just how low can Windows 10 go when it comes to PC specs? Since Microsoft released the OS for testing last year people have been loading Windows 10 onto hardware dating back to 2003 – eons ago on the PC refresh timescale. Here are the low-end and long-in-the-tooth machines that proved capable of running Windows 10.

Stop the inbox insanity! These 4 email managers can sort, organize, and delete for you – Email managers let you weed out junk mail, triage messages, and turn them into tasks.

Triple your laptop display space with Sliden’Joy – Jumping from a multi-display desktop setup to a laptop can be a bit of a letdown, particularly if you’re rocking more than two displays. Fortunately, someone’s working on a way to double or triple your mobile screen space. The product is called Sliden’Joy, and it can clip a second and third display onto your laptop’s existing display. Or third and fourth, if you happen to be one of the select few who plunked down big bucks for a dual-screen laptop. Their pixel-packing panels come in three different sizes: 13, 15, and 17 inches. Sliden’Joy will come in several different finishes, too, so there ought to be one that’s a good fit for your notebook of choice. A single display (presumably the 13-incher) will run €199 (about $220), while dual-display packs start at €299 (about $330).


Hooks, The App That Lets You Get A Notification For Almost Anything, Lands On Android And Apple Watch – Hooks, the app that sends you push notifications triggered by things that are important to you, has a new version for Android, as well as the now almost obligatory Apple Watch app. Previously, the latest version of Hooks was iOS only. Apple’s smartwatch platform seems particularly suited to a service that lets you pick from 100 or so ‘channels’, consisting of 1 million-plus user created alerts, to keep you updated on anything from the latest tweet, news article or sports score, or something more specific such as a change in stock price or the current bitcoin exchange rate.

Rdio launches new curated stations, brings them to more countries – Rdio has already offered curated stations in the United States, Canada, and UK, but now users can listen in from Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. A major perk of Apple’s Beats 1 station is its widespread availability, and this seems to be Rdio’s answer to that.


Two tools that help you stop over-using words in your documents – I go through phases with my writing. Sometimes I feel like every second sentence needs to start with “but,” then I start using “however,” which becomes “nevertheless,” and on and on it goes until the bad habit stops. For times like those, it’s handy to use a word frequency tool to understand how often I’m using problem words. Here are two ways to get that done. One is easy and the other is a little advanced.

Tinder clone for Apple Watch uses heartbeat to determine matches – Imagine an alternate way of using dating app Tinder, where instead of looking at profiles on your smartphone and swiping right or left, you simply glance at your Apple Watch and the app know if you’re attracted to someone based on your heart-rate changes. That’s the idea behind design agency T3’s concept “Hands-free Tinder.” T3 built its app with the use of Apple’s recently released Watch SDK for detecting a user’s heartbeat. They claim to be releasing the app “soon,” but unless it’s really a cooperation with Tinder, a name change seems likely.


Google needs to fix what ails Chrome – Google Chrome has been (and still is) the single most popular browser on the planet. But recent issues with memory usage and stability have caused trust in Google’s go-to tool to wane.


Hacking Team leak releases potent Flash 0day into the wild – Researchers sifting through the confidential material stolen from spyware developer Hacking Team have already uncovered a weaponized exploit for a currently unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash, and they also may have uncovered attack code targeting Microsoft Windows and a hardened Linux module known as SELinux. The exploits can be used to surreptitiously install Hacking Team surveillance software, or other types of malware, on vulnerable computers with little or no indication anything is amiss. If the exploits leaked from the colossal Hacking Team breach are limited to two or three unpatched vulnerabilities in Flash, Windows, and SELinux, the resulting damage will be much less severe than it might have been. Still, with 400 gigabytes of data to digest, there may yet be other surprises to find.

Hacking Team used shockingly bad passwords – One of the biggest hacks of the year — not just in scope and size, but impact — is over. As reporters and interested parties sift through the debris of the attack that left Hacking Team crippled, a big question remains. How was someone able to walk in and swipe what appears to be the company’s entire cache of corporate data? The company used weak passwords.

Android malware masquerades as Nintendo game emulator – Palo Alto Networks found three variants of the malware, which it calls Gunpoder, masquerading as emulator applications used to play Nintendo games. Gunpoder apps can do a variety of invasive actions, including collecting bookmarks and browser histories, sending itself to other people over SMS, showing fraudulent advertisements and executing other code. And users get to pay for that data-stealing capability. When a Gunpoder app is launched, it asks users to buy a lifelong license for the emulator for US$0.20 or $0.49, payable through PayPal or Skrill.

Antivirus maker Avira is building a secure web browser – From the department of straightforward naming comes Avira Browser. Like most of the new custom browsers you’ve seen pop up, it’s based on Google’s open source Chromium code. That means it looks and functions very much like Chrome (for better or worse). Want to see what Avira Browser is all about? It’s currently a beta app, and unfortunately it’s not as easy to try as clicking a download link. You’ve got to create an account on Avira’s beta site, verify your email, and then apply to the Avira Browser beta. If you’re thought to be a worthy test pilot, they’ll send a link your way in a few days.


Lizard Squad hacker draws suspended sentence for online attacks – A teenager who is apparently a member of the Lizard Squad hacker group has received a two-year suspended sentence in Finland in connection with various cybercrimes including attacks against U.S. university servers. The seventeen-year-old, known as “Zeekill” and “Ryan,” was charged with 50,700 counts of hacking and other offenses including credit card fraud, according to a Lizard Squad Twitter account and Finnish news reports. In a Twitter post, Lizard Squad gloated that “Zeekill got a suspended sentence for 2 years. 0 time spent in prison.”

Company News:

Samsung Electronic’s Earnings Guidance Points To Another Disappointing Quarter – Another quarter, another lackluster earnings guidance from Samsung Electronics. Heralded as Apple’s arch rival in “The Great Smartphone War” just two years ago, Samsung’s performance has declined as competition from a bevy of other Android makers cuts into its market share. The company said today that its Q2 2015 earnings will likely miss expectations. Its operating profit is expected to be 6.9 trillion won (about $6.13 billion), a four percent decline from a year ago, and below analysts’ expectations for 7.2 trillion won. Consolidated sales slipped eight percent to 48 trillion won, below forecasts for 53 trillion won.

Gartner: No help for the PC biz from Windows 10 – Windows 10 won’t help the struggling PC business out of its multi-year slump in 2015, researcher Gartner said today. But it might next year. “The release of Windows 10 on 29 July will contribute to a slowing professional demand for mobile PCs and premium ultra-mobiles in 2015, as lifetimes extend by three months,” said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Tuesday. “However, as suppliers and buyers adjust to new prices, Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016.” From Gartner’s perspective, the mere appearance of Windows 10 will result in delayed replacement PC purchases as enterprises and other large organizations put plans on hold as they begin evaluating the OS.

Jolla splits business, refocuses efforts on software – Its been a little over two years since the birth of Jolla. The company was created shortly after then-CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, dismantled the Meego team and decided to pioneer Nokia’s future with Windows Phone. While things didn’t fair so well for Nokia, the ex-Nokia staff that formed Jolla has slowly and steadily solidified its small place in the mobile world. Today, Jolla has announced that they will refocus their efforts on their Sailfish OS licensing and development business and create a new company dedicated to hardware.

AMD preannounces lower revenue due to poor demand for its APUs – AMD warned Monday that its second-quarter revenues would fall by 8%, due to a lower demand for PCs than it had previously expected. AMD said previously that revenue could fall by as much as 3%. AMD specifically blamed weaker-than-expected demand for its APUs, which combine a CPU and a graphics chip and make up its A-series product line. The company had already slashed A-series APU prices in late 2014 to help move product. In the second quarter, AMD said, it expects channel sales and channel inventory reduction efforts to be in line with the company’s plans.

Uber wants to buy Tesla’s entire first batch of self-driving cars – It’s no secret Uber is excited about our future of self-driving cars. The company’s business model revolves around drivers using their own vehicles to transport goods and people, but for Uber those drivers represent a significant expense. Self-driving cars, assuming the legislation will reach a point where drivers are no longer required, will eliminate that expense. Uber made partnerships in recent times to work on autonomous driving technologies, and more recently the ridesharing service’s CEO has expressed a lot of interest in Tesla’s future self-driving vehicles.

Sony not looking to exit mobile market, says CEO – Sony Mobile has been struggling to compete in the smartphone market, but the company’s CEO has revealed that it is in the process of turning things around with a long term strategy and won’t be exiting the space. Ever since inexpensive, feature-packed smartphones started making their way to the market, traditional high-quality device makers such as HTC and Sony have found it hard to sell their own devices, especially in emerging markets which are responsible for high volume sales.

Games and Entertainment:

You can now subscribe to Showtime online – Showtime is now offering an online subscription, allowing customers to watch its shows and movies without also getting cable. The subscription is being offered through a few different apps and sites, including Showtime’s iPhone and iPad apps, the Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue. The subscription costs $10.99 — although some services, like Hulu, are offering it for less — and grants access to Showtime’s back catalog, its currently screening films, and even some of its live feeds.


Sony just rolled out a big UI update to its PS Now game streaming service – PlayStation Now, Sony’s “Netflix for gaming” service that rolled out last year, hasn’t changed dramatically since it launched. The company added a much-needed subscription option earlier this year to help fix the otherwise crazy pricing structure PS Now had for game rentals, but there otherwise hasn’t been much in the way of updates to speak of. That changes today — a major user interface update has just been pushed out to PlayStation Now on the PS4. The update was included in last week’s PS4 software update, but Sony is just now turning it on.


Australian online video subscriptions jump sixfold in six months – The arrival of Netflix, Stan, and Presto has seen the number of Australians subscribing to video-streaming services jump from 315,000 at the end of 2014 to 2 million by the end of June, according to Telsyte.

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale kicks off; here are all the best deals – Dozens of games are marked down for the duration of the event, which begins today and ends July 13, including Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and more. Check out a breakdown of this week’s Deals With Gold and Ultimate Game Sale offers below. All deals are good through July 13 and require an Xbox Live Gold subscription except where otherwise noted.

Excellent! Harry Shearer returning to ‘The Simpsons’ – The voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and a ton of other Springfield regulars signs a new deal that will keep him on the show for at least four more seasons.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CrowdSuit Wants To Help You Get Even With Your Phone Company – We all know telecoms are evil. But as an individual, there’s rarely a way to fight back. Enter CrowdSuit, a new company that aims to help phone customers seek legal redress against phone companies even when they cannot file class action suits. Telecoms increasingly are including a contract provision that prevents customers from filing class action lawsuits against them. Because the cost of an individual lawsuit is often greater than the damages a customer would receive if they won a suit on an issue like throttling, it’s not worth it for them to sue alone. As a result, no one sues, and the telecoms get a free ride. In some states just filing a lawsuit would cost $70, and the amount customers could win by filing would be far less than that.

This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids – Earlier this year the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October. The Micro Bit features two buttons, an array of programmable LED lights, and an in-built motion sensor. Users can connect their microcomputer to bigger devices by Bluetooth or USB, or to the similarly tiny Raspberry Pi through it’s input-output rings.


This Is Apple and Google’s Next Big Battleground – For most of my 35-year technology career, fights over operating systems have dominated the landscape. First, it was MS-DOS againt the original Apple II OS. Then it shifted to Microsoft’s Windows vs. the Mac OS. Today it’s between Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Google’s Android and Chrome OS. These wars have become ideological, with fanboys and devout followers in each camp. But there’s another fight brewing, too — the battle over artificial intelligence, or AI.

Russian government issues guide to avoiding hazardous selfies – Technically Incorrect: It may seem like common sense not to stray too near an approaching train while taking a selfie. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case.


Inflatable anti-drowning device sits on your wrist like a mini life raft – Life vests are effective, but bulky. They’re not the sort of thing you haul around with you wherever you go. The Kingii on Indiegogo wants to save your life by being attached to your body at all times when you’re enjoying a day at the ocean or the pool. The 4.9-ounce Kingii (pronounced “kin-gee”) is worn on the wrist. A lever triggers a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate an orange, balloon-like float. The float pulls you back up to the surface of the water, whether you’re out surfing or taking a dip in a pool. Cartridges can be swapped out to make the wristband reusable. The Kingii appears to be going gangbusters on Indiegogo. The initial $65,000 funding goal has been engulfed by over $445,000 in pledges with 23 days left to run. However, $400,000 of that comes from one anonymous backer.


10 Spectacular Building Demolitions – In this roundup, we pay tribute to the bold men and women who bring down buildings for a living by sharing incredible footage of them at work. These are some of the most ambitious, technically difficult, or just plain cool to look at building demolitions ever caught on tape.


Study hints kids are future cord-cutters – The television industry has been scrambling to stave off the pressure it feels from services like Netflix and the subscribers it is losing to them. Its efforts may prove to be in vain, however, at least according to a recent study. Miner & Co. Studio conducted research and has found that 57-percent of kids prefer watching videos on their tablet or smartphone rather than on a television. In addition, a common parental discipline might be driving kids further away from television, causing them to associate it with punishment.

Something to think about:

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

160WiFi – 160WiFi provides a free WiFi hotspot. No hidden cost, no function limit, and never waste your money on those expensive ones that won’t work.

Enjoy Wi-Fi anywhere. 160WiFi offers the greatest choice of available Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere like home, office, airport and so on.

Secure. 160WiFi is safe to use. With strong password security, It allows no one to connect to your wireless hotspot without your permission.

Save money. 160WiFi can turn your computer into a wireless router, allowing your phone or other portable devices to connect the hotspot to surf the internet for free. This cut the data usage of your phone and save much money.

Easy to use. Download, install and connect – only a few clicks.


Totally free and secure, fully used; No advertising, no annoying pop-ups

Turn laptop/desktop (with a working wireless adapter) into WiFi hotspot in seconds

Easily Manage your computer on the connected Android, iOS and other portable devices

Save cellular data & avoid overcharges

Handy network speed detection

Easy to use, no need of advanced configuration

PaperScan Free – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

You have many different scanners or plan to buy new scanner? PaperScan is simply universal while most of the scanning applications are dedicated to one scanner or one protocol.

With PaperScan you can control any scanner ( TWAINor WIA)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senate advances secret plan forcing Internet services to report terror activity – The Senate Intelligence Committee secretly voted on June 24 in favor of legislation requiring e-mail providers and social media sites to report suspected terrorist activities.

The legislation, approved 15-0 in a closed-door hearing, remains “classified.” The relevant text is contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, a committee aide told Ars by telephone early Monday. Its veil of secrecy would be lifted in the coming days as the package heads to the Senate floor, the aide added.

The proposal comes as the Islamic State and other terror groups have taken to the Internet to gain converts across the globe, including in the United States. The FBI issued a public warning in March about American teens being susceptible to the Islamic State’s online recruitment tactics. And the Brookings Institute estimated in March that there were as many as 70,000 pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts. Twitter has removed tens of thousands of these terror propaganda accounts, which violate its terms of service.

FBI chief: Strong encryption lets bad guys ‘communicate with impunity’ – The director of the FBI has called for a “robust” debate over the use of encryption, but has admitted there may be no easy way to protect both security and privacy.

FBI chief James Comey warned that the increasing use of strong encryption will make it harder for law enforcement to access email or other digital conversations.

“There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he said in a post for the Lawfare blog, and warned this will have an impact on public safety.

Apple’s and Google’s encryption plans have not gone down well with US law enforcement, and the agency’s director says the companies are leading us down a dark path.

He wrote: “That tension is vividly illustrated by the current ISIL threat, which involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment.”

Thanks to the Edward Snowden revelations about pervasive internet snooping by US and UK intelligence agencies, tech companies have been turning to encryption to protect their customers’ conversations. This has led to claims from law enforcement that important sources of intelligence are ‘going dark’.

Top Security Experts Say Government Limits On Encryption Present Risks –  A group of top cybersecurity experts reported today that giving law enforcement special access to encrypted data for investigations would pose “major security risks.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report included input from cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and researchers from MIT, Stanford University, Columbia University, Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft Research, SRI International and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Since October, U.S. law enforcement officials have called for a special door that would allow government agencies to access encrypted data that could help them in investigations. The report tells us that a backdoor for the government and law enforcement also provides an opening that could be exploited by hackers.

The experts argue such special access points “pose far more grave security risks, imperil innovation on which the world’s economies depend, and raise more thorny policy issues than we could have imagined when the Internet was in its infancy.”

Former A.G. Eric Holder says Snowden deal is possible – The “possibility exists” for the U.S. Department of Justice to cut a deal that would allow surveillance leaker Edward Snowden to return to the U.S., a former attorney general said in a media interview.

Snowden, who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, “spurred a necessary debate” about the collection of U.S. telephone records, former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo News.

The DOJ, however, hasn’t changed its official position on Snowden, a spokesman said. The DOJ wants Snowden to return to the U.S. from Russia and face criminal charges, the spokesman said by email.

Holder, who left the DOJ earlier this year, filed espionage charges against Snowden in 2013.

Holder declined to give Yahoo News details about what a possible deal with Snowden would look like.

NSA officials have reportedly considered a plea deal for Snowden, including some jail time. But Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s lawyers, rejected the possibility of pleading guilty to a felony.

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Filed under downloads, Free Software Downloads, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News, Online Safety, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 6, 2014

The best tablets for under $250;  Off the grid? Keep your devices powered-up; Roku Stick vs Google Chromecast;  Apps to help adjust to daylight saving;  Pre-installed malware found on new Android phones;  Check’s Android app manages your bills;  4 Android apps that put SMS on your desktop;  Mastering Metro apps;  The dark side of 3D printing;  CIA snooped on Senate;  How to Report Internet Fraud;  Hacking Team snoopware found on US servers;  Upskirt photos ruled legal in Massachusetts.

The best tablets for under $250 – Buying a relatively inexpensive tablet doesn’t mean that you sacrifice a solid slate experience. There are quality tablets around $100, like the $139 Amazon Kindle Fire HD, but the sub-$250 tablet category is bursting with a bevy of budget options. To that end, here are the best tablets currently available with prices under $250. If any of the products here interest you, be sure to read the full reviews for details on the quirks and idiosyncrasies of each. Also, check out our Tablets Buying Guide for an overview on tablet-buying best practices.

Off the grid? Keep your devices powered-up – We look at more than a half-dozen gadgets that can keep your phones and tablets going indefinitely, even when power’s hard to come by.


Check’s Android app manages your bills so you don’t have to – This free app on Android organizes all of your monthly bills in one place, where you can pay them on the go. Check (Android|iOS) is a free app that helps you stay on top of all your recurring bills and help you make payments. The service works with credit card companies, cell phone carriers, utility companies, Internet service providers, car loans, mortgages, and even your rent. Essentially, if you have to bill to pay, you can likely pay it with Check.


4 Android apps that put SMS on your desktop – When you’re sitting in front of a full keyboard and large display, you should be able to use it to answer texts! More than a few developers have hear our cries, and have created some fantastic Android tools to give you the power to text (and more) from your PC. Let’s dig into what’s possible, starting from smallest to biggest commitment.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apps to help adjust to daylight saving – This Sunday morning, our clocks spring forward one hour to mark the beginning of daylight saving time. While it might be nice for some to have more light at the end of the day, it can be tough for bodies to adjust to darker mornings. In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi reports on some ways technology can help ease the transition.

FileThis Automatically Gathers and Files Important Documents Online – Finally, a critical missing link in the paperless billing chain has been filled. FileThis is a new Web-based service that that automatically downloads your e-statements into your PC or cloud storage. FileThis covers the gamut of household paper filing — bank statements, phone bills, tax documents, mortgage statements, credit card statements, insurance policies and benefits, online shopping accounts, utilities and so on.


Google Voice: Just because you can port your number, should you? – Google Voice is an amazing service, but there are some limitations and gotchas. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of the service to help you decide if it’s for you.

App-Sensor Combo Tells You When Your Grill’s Tank Needs Refueling – Originally introduced in early December, Quirky’s “Refuel” app-connected propane tank sensor is now entering production. Quirky estimates the product will cost around $18. For that, you get a ring-shaped apparatus that sits under your grill’s propane tank and is connected to a gauge that adheres to your grill with a magnet. Take a peek at the gauge when you’re near the grill, or instead fire up the smartphone app that connects to Refuel to see how much gas you have left before you need to drag the tank back to Strickland Propane for a refill.


Mastering Metro apps: 4 ways they can work for you – It’s time to give Windows 8’s modern-style apps some respect. Admittedly, some Windows Store apps are inferior to their desktop cousins. But many others take advantage of the full-screen modern (also known as “Metro”) interface to provide a different and better experience. With an open mind and a little TLC, your Start screen can be a great resource. Here are four ways you can get the most out of modern apps.

Mozilla works to squeeze more life out of JPEG – The Firefox developer releases a tool called mozjpeg that cuts image file sizes by about 10 percent through judicious optimization. The goal: a faster Web.

Six tips to manage your Google Calendar more efficiently – Google continues to add and improve Google Calendar features. It’s easier than ever to create calendar items, add meeting support details, and meet online. Follow the six tips below to manage your Google Calendar more efficiently.

Evernote for Android lets you add handwriting to your notes – Got a stylus collecting dust in your gadget bag? Maybe it’s time to dig it out, because Evernote’s Android app now features built-in handwriting functionality. The update, which begins rolling out today, enables you to jot down notes or doodle to your heart’s content in any of your digital notebooks.

Yahoo ditches Facebook and Google logins for its own ID – Yahoo isn’t messing around. Desperate to regain its former glory as an Internet giant, the company is putting the kibosh on Google and Facebook logins for its various services. The end is already nigh: Fans gearing up for March Madness with Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’Em will have to sign in using a Yahoo ID to make their picks.

Roku Stick vs Google Chromecast: Tiny TV titans – While Microsoft and Apple are focusing on putting content through into your television through branded set-top boxes, Roku and Google have taken a different approach. The Roku Stick and the Google Chromecast are two very different solutions to the same problem, and since you’re only likely to want one sticking out of the back of your television we decided to compare to two and see what you get. At $50 for the Roku Stick and $35 for the Google stick, the two are direct alternatives for one another.


VLC app for Windows 8 planned for release Monday, March 10 – The VideoLAN team has revealed via their Twitter account that the long awaited port of their VLC media player for Windows 8 is now planned for release on Monday, March 10.


How to play DVDs and Blu-ray discs in Windows 8 – While earlier versions of Windows included a free, built-in DVD player, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have no such functionality. It can still read data DVDs, but if you want to play that copy of Rocky IV you got for $2 on clearance at Target, you’re out of luck. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options for restoring DVD-playback functionality to Windows 8, for free. Here’s what we recommend:

Narrative Clip, a clip-on photographic memory device with a lot of grey zones – An always-on camera that takes photos every 30 seconds? The Narrative Clip is that, and it aims to be an extension of your memory, too.

Dell charges £16 TO INSTALL FIREFOX on PCs – Mozilla is miffed – The Mozilla Foundation has begun an investigation after tech juggernaut Dell appeared to be asking customers to pay £16.25 ($27) to install its free web browser Firefox on newly purchased Dell kit. A reader wrote to us to say that Dell had asked if he’d like to fork out £16.25 for the convenience of having Mozilla’s browser installed on a new machine he was attempting to purchase. Sources within Mozilla said they had launched a preliminary consultation with legal teams, but this process was at an early stage.


BlackBerry 10 smartphone owners can now use Microsoft’s OneDrive – BlackBerry has released an app, titled Connect to Microsoft OneDrive, that allows owners of BB10 based smartphones to use Microsoft’s newly rebranded data storage service.

The dark side of 3D printing: 10 things to watch – The 3D printer is a double-edged sword. It stands to transform technology and society for the better, but we also can’t ignore the potential negative consequences.


How to Report Internet Fraud – The United States reports more fraud than any other country, accounting for over 90 percent of the complaints in 2012, according to the Internet Complaint Center, a joint effort between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. On average, victims lost $1,813 each for a total of over $525 million. If you’ve been the victim of Internet fraud, there are several reporting options, according to the type of crime. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will handle a larger majority of those complaints – check out its step-by-step online reporting form – but check out some of the more common tactics employed by fraudsters today, and how best to protect yourself and others.

Pre-installed malware found on new Android phones – Fake version of Netflix that steals personal data and sends it to Russia has been found on several phone models.

GnuTLS patch fixes certificate verification problem – A flaw in GnuTLS, which would enable an attacker to bypass certificate validation checks, has been patched. Fixes are being pushed to all major Linux distributions.

Report: Half of all exploits target Java – As Microsoft improved the defenses in its software, though, cybercrooks moved on to easier pickings. Adobe was a prime target for a while, but Adobe followed Microsoft’s lead and made its software more secure as well. According to data from the 2014 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly Report, the favorite target is now Java.

Web ads eclipse porn as leading source of mobile malware – The number of malvertisements targeting mobile devices more than tripled last year, pushing contaminated web ads past pornography as the single largest malware threat to mobile users.

Man guilty of “fixing” women’s computers to spy on them via webcam – A 30-year-old London man has been found guilty of fiddling with three women’s computers so he could spy on them through their webcams.

Company News:

Target CIO Resigns Following Massive Data Breach – Target Corp.’s Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob is resigning, effective immediately, in the wake of the massive data breach during the holiday 2013 shopping season during which as many as 70 million customers had their personal information stolen, including 40 million debit and credit card accounts.

ManageEngine Slashes IT Help Desk Expenses for 60,000+ Companies – ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, today announced that the standard edition of its flagship IT help desk software, ServiceDesk Plus, is now available for free — with no restrictions, regardless of whether software runs in the cloud or on premise. Previously, ServiceDesk Plus Standard Edition was free for up to five technicians/agents. The move slashes IT help desk expenses for the 60,000+ companies that have already implemented ServiceDesk Plus Standard Edition and invites other companies to do the same by adopting the ManageEngine solution.

Microsoft reportedly has plans to help launch cheap Windows 8 tablets in India – A new report claims Microsoft will help to launch a number of low cost Windows 8 tablets that will be made especially for the Indian market, to try to fight off Android dominance in that country.

Intel to acquire wearable devices firm Basis for around $100 million– Intel has reportedly won an auction to acquire wearable devices making company, Basis, for an amount upwards of $100 million to strengthen itself in the newly emerging wearables market. Basis, which competes in the fitness wearables market with the likes of Jawbone and Nike, has managed to secure seven percent of the market. Intel has been interested in the wearables market in recent times and has shown off numerous concept devices such as a Bluetooth headset with Siri-like functionality and smart-chips at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show.

Facebook funds fulltime community safety police officer – In a move that has some worried and others offering praise, approval has been given unanimously by the Menlo Park City Council in favor of Facebook’s “gift” of $200,000 to fund what is being referred to as a “community safety police officer,” making this the first ever instance of a private company funding the establishment of a beat cop.

Getty Images unshackles photo library – Under its new model, the library of some 35 million photographs will be made available with a new embed tool, which tacks the image inside a player of sorts containing copyright data and a link back to the Getty Images website. The strategy has already drawn a lot of criticism from stock photography websites and photographers alike, who fear what it could mean for the industry as a whole.

AU$9bn Apple profit moved from Australia to Ireland: Report – Apple has moved almost AU$1 billion of profit each year for 10 years out of Australia, and into a Double Irish sandwich that allows the company to pay less than 50 cents of tax on every $1000 of income.

Games and Entertainment:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “Gwen and Peter” video offers side of commentary – If the latest trailers have ramped up your excitement for the quickly approaching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, another has surfaced that gives a deeper look into one particular aspect of the film: Gwen and Peter’s relationship. In an exclusive video simply called Gwen and Peter, viewers are given access to a hearty dose of commentary.


Twitch Game Broadcasts Coming to Android and iOS – The Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the venerable PC all have support for recording and broadcasting gameplay footage with Twitch, but now that capability is coming to mobile at long last. Twitch has released a new mobile SDK for Android and iOS that allows developers to integrate game streaming so you don’t have to muck around with cumbersome screen capture software.

Nick App Comes to Android with Full Episodes, Games, and More – Apps aren’t only for grown ups–kids can spend some time staring at the inviting glow of a touchscreen too. To those ends, an official Nickelodeon app has arrived in the Play Store bringing games, full episodes, and original content. Although, most kids aren’t going to be able to navigate the maze of cable provider logins.


Crockett and Tubbs Return in New ‘Miami Vice’ Digital Comic – The new Miami Vice digital comic book is penned by Jonathan London, a writer, producer, and award-winning director. The book is set in ’80s Miami and continues Crockett and Tubbs’ crime-fighting adventures. Brazilian artist Geanes Holland handles Miami Vice’s visuals.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Upskirt photos ruled legal in Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that photos up a woman’s dress are legal, provided she’s wearing underwear. As if crowded train cars aren’t creepy enough, a Massachusetts high court has ruled that so-called “upskirt” photos of a woman on a Boston trolley are legal, according to a strict reading of state law.

Judge: We can’t have kids suing parents for an iPhone or Xbox – In a New Jersey case in which a teen is suing her parents for tuition fees and other bills, the judge fears kids will try to sue their parents to get gadgets.

Steve Ballmer’s temper tantrum over Nokia buyout led to his firing, says report – Steve Ballmer’s famously volcanic temper was the last straw for Microsoft’s board, and eventually led to his firing after he berated them so loudly about their not backing his Nokia buyout plan that his shouts could be heard outside the closed doors of a conference room. So reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Congressman Calls To Ban U.S. Dollar In Response To Plea For Bitcoin Ban – Congressman Jared Polis is calling on the Treasury to ban physical dollars in response to Senator Manchin’s plea to ban Bitcoin. “The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss,” wrote Polis in a statement.

Artist seeks crowdfunding for normal-looking Barbie – Everyone knows Barbie isn’t real. In any sense of the word. Now a designer wants to introduce a whole line of Barbies that look like, well, women.


Something to think about:

The more I know about business, the more I’m convinced that it is conducted in homes and churches far more than in office buildings.”

–     Laura Moncur

Today’s Free Downloads:

PaperScan Free – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

NoScript – The NoScript Firefox extension provides extra protection for Firefox, Flock, Seamonkey and other mozilla-based browsers. NoScript’s unique whitelist based pre-emptive script blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even not known yet!) with no loss of functionality… You can enable JavaScript/Java execution for sites you trust with a simple left-click on the NoScript status bar icon (look at the picture), or using the contextual menu, for easier operation in popup statusbar-less windows.

Ghostery – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CIA snoops snooped on Senate to spy, spy torture report – CIA officers allegedly hacked into the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers to find out what the oversight committee had found out about its controversial detention and treatment of terror suspects.‬ The oversight committee had managed to get its hands on unapproved material, or so the CIA feared, the New York Times reports. In response, the agency allegedly went as far as hacking into the Congressional network to find out what it knew and perhaps where the leaked material came from, an unnamed official told the paper. It’s unclear whether the alleged hacking was limited to part of a CIA document leak/whistleblower hunt or went even further and resulted in electronic snooping against senators and their support staff.

Hacking Team snoopware found on US servers: Citizen Lab tags foreign governments for spying in America – Canada’s Citizen Lab has added to its record of uncovering government snooping using Hacking Team’s software, has dropped a bombshell: it’s accused 12 American data centres of hosting clients deploying the spyware. In its latest report, Hacking Team’s US Nexus, Citizen Lab* says there are 114 servers in America, in at least a dozen data centres, that are part of RCS (Remote Control Software) circuits. The group says their identification of RCS traffic isn’t some routing accident, but demonstrates “the purposeful use of US servers for the surreptitious transmission of wiretapped data to foreign governments.” The governments it accuses of snooping are, in other words, using RCS to wiretap on individuals – for example, citizens in the US, journalists reporting on their countries’ affairs, expats and activists – and send the data offshore. This violates US laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Wiretap Act, Citizen Lab writes.

NSA chief criticises media and suggests UK was right to detain David Miranda – The outgoing director of the National Security Agency lashed out at media organizations reporting on Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations, suggesting that British authorities were right to detain David Miranda on terrorism charges and that reporters lack the ability to properly analyze the NSA’s broad surveillance powers. General Keith Alexander, who has furiously denounced the Snowden revelations, said at a Tuesday cybersecurity panel that unspecified “headway” on what he termed “media leaks” was forthcoming in the next several weeks, possibly to include “media leaks legislation.”


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

What Does YouTube’s New Live Streaming Mean for You?

Guest author Ken Myers, takes us on a tour of YouTube’s live streaming service.

Since its creation, YouTube has generated a great deal of interest worldwide from the online community. It has been a place to promote music, acting styles, news broadcasts and more. Throughout 2013, the media powerhouse worked on implementing the ability to live stream events from a user’s account. But what does this mean for you and the YouTube community?

Further Promotional Tactics – There are many YouTube celebrities that relish in having more than half of a million subscribers watching their material. Although editing techniques are what add life and visual appeal at times, live streaming special events could drive the traffic to a channel exponentially. After all, live feeds have always been an attraction for various mediums, including traditional television.In the past, several events have been streamed live across the social media hub and were successful at engaging various viewers. Could this tactic help you promote your own business through the website?

Bloopers Galore – Some actors have a difficult time maintaining their focus on camera. It’s not often that a show can be performed live and not have a great deal of mistakes. Watching these events live could provide you with greater entertainment, though, especially if your favorite celebrities are struggling to keep it together. On the other hand, this is also how a family movie can turn into an R-rated episode. If you plan on capitalizing on the live feed, you need to bring your A-game.

Questionable Materials – Thanks to efforts by Google, you’re less likely to be able to produce material that is morally questionable without feeling some kind of repercussion. Although some people may try to take advantage of the live stream, it’s unlikely they’ll succeed at promoting this content. In order to provide a video for a live event, you need to have more than 1000 subscribers. This rule was implemented to ensure that you are serious about developing quality material for your viewers, making you less likely to take advantage of a live broadcast. If you can prove that you belong to a non-profit organization, you could begin streaming immediately.

Compared to Other Streaming Services – Many live streaming services on the Internet have been developed to allow virtually anyone with a webcam to promote themselves. Unlike YouTube, these services often don’t have any requirements past the basic illegal and adult contracts you must agree to before using the service. Without having a single follower or subscriber, anyone is able to get on these systems and talk about anything. If you’ve ever been to one of these websites, you understand how the quality of the material is lacking. YouTube live streams, on the other hand, require you to have a sense of professionalism and to provide quality material.

Engaging Your Subscribers – In order to grow a subscriber base, your material has to engaging. However, you have to begin producing videos to find out if people will find your content worthy of watching. To keep and increase your subscribers, you can further interact with them by developing a live stream and responding to questions on your Twitter account. This can increase both your viewership and your Twitter activity in a profound way. Of course, it helps to have a level of popularity before committing to a live broadcast of your show.

Future Content – Although some YouTube celebrities may see the value in live streaming their broadcasts, many may still opt out of using those services. For instance, if you produce material that is effects driven, it’s far more difficult to provide the same level of entertainment value. Talk shows and gaming channels are more likely to take advantage of providing a live feed because of the nature of their content. Many popular YouTube shows are unedited as it is, so little would change in the way of creating a live stream or a regular upload for these people.

For many, live streaming content may be nothing more than a pipe-dream. It takes a serious minded individual to develop content that is entertaining enough to draw in the necessary number of subscribers needed. For the rest of us, though, it may be an entertaining way to see our favorite YouTube celebrities sans the editing.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Comments Off on What Does YouTube’s New Live Streaming Mean for You?

Filed under Freeware, Google, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Video Tools, YouTube

Defeat Internet Browser Exploits With Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

imageCybercriminals design malware to exploit vulnerable systems without user interaction being required – on the one hand, and craft attacks that take advantage of unaware (untrained) computer users, in which user interaction is required – on the other hand.

The second part, of this two part attack approach, can only be defeated if the computer user is aware of current Internet threats. So, knowledge and experience, are critical ingredients in the never ending and escalating battle against cybercriminals.

In order to defeat attacks which rely on exploiting vulnerable systems, the preferred method to do so is – the implementation of a layered security approach. Employing layered security should (I emphasize should), lead to the swift detection of malware, before any damage occurs on the targeted system.

Let’s talk real world:

Given existing technology, no single security application is capable of providing adequate computer system protection. Gaps exist in protection capabilities in even the most sophisticated security applications.

Layering (or stacking) security applications, offers the best chance of remaining infection free, by closing those gaps. Keep in mind however, that even the best layered protection strategy will not make up for the lack of experience, and intuitiveness, of many computer users.

So, stopping the bad guys from gaining a foothold has to be a primary objective of that layered defense strategy that I mentioned earlier. And, part of that strategy includes, raising barriers at the doorway to the system – the Internet browser.

The Modern Malware Review (March 2013), a statistical analysis performed by Palo Alto Networks which focused on malware that – “industry-leading antivirus products” failed to detect – noted a persistent trend.

From the report:

90% of unknown malware delivered via web-browsing

Given that the samples were captured by the firewall, we were able to identify the application that carried the malware. While web-browsing was found to be the leading source of malware both in terms of total malware as well as undetected malware, the application mix was very different between the two groups.

For example, SMTP accounted for 25% of the total malware, but only 2% of the fully undetected malware. Comparatively, web-browsing dominated both
categories, accounting for 68% of total malware, but over 90% of undetected samples. This clearly shows that unknown malware is disproportionally more likely to be delivered from the web as opposed to email.

Another brick in the wall:

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (formerly Zero Vulnerability Labs ExploitShield) – a free “install and forget” Internet browser security application (which I installed several days ago) – is designed to protect users from unknown “zero-day” vulnerability exploits aimed at Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera……..

As well, protection is also included for selected browser components – Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave. Added protection is incorporated for Microsoft Office components – Word, Excel, PowerPoint.

Fast facts:

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit protects users where traditional security measures fail. It consists of an innovative patent-pending application shielding technology that prevents malicious exploits from compromising computers through software vulnerabilities.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is free for home users and non-profit organizations. It includes all protections needed to prevent drive-by download targeted attacks originating from commercial exploit kits and other web-based exploits.

These type of attacks are used as common infection vectors for financial malware, ransomware, rogue antivirus and other types of nastiest not commonly detected by traditional blacklisting antivirus and security products.

Installation is a breeze and, on application launch, a simple and uncomplicated interface is presented.


Clicking on the “Shields” tab will provide you with a list of applications protected by Anti-Exploit – as shown below.


As a reminder that Anti-Exploit is up and running, a new Icon – as shown in the following screen shot, will appear in the system tray.


System requirements: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Download at: MajorGeeks

The good news: Each of us, in our own way, has been changed by the world of wonders that the Internet has brought to us. Twenty years on, and I’m still awestruck. I suspect that many of us will be thunderstruck by applications and projects yet to be released.

The bad news: The Internet has more than it’s fair share of criminals, scam and fraud artists, and worse. These lowlifes occupy a world that reeks of tainted search engine results, malware infected legitimate websites, drive-by downloads and bogus security software.

When travelling in this often dangerous territory, please be guided by the following: Stop – Think – Click. The bad guys – including the corrupted American government – really are out to get you.

The Modern Malware Review is a 20 page PDF file packed with data which provides a real-world perspective on malware and cybercrime. I recommend that you read it.


Filed under Browsers, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Easily Recover Deleted Photos And More – Open Source TestDisk & PhotoRec

Summary: When it’s time to recover deleted files from an SD Card, Hard Drive, Flash Drive, etc., this powerful portable recovery application, (despite its command line type interface), makes deleted file recovery just about as simple as it gets.

In previous reviews, I’ve covered more than a few file recovery tools,  some of which have lived up to the developers’ claims – but, most have not. PhotoRec, part of the bundled package included in TestDisk – despite it’s name – is capable of recovering 390 types of files, according to the developer.

In the following review, I’ll describe how easy it was to recover deleted photos from my camera’s SD Card and, deleted music files from my iPod. As you’ll see, this application is not wizard driven – but, despite that, it’s still very easy to use.

First up was a recovery attempt on a camera.

On launching the application, the connected camera was immediately identified.


Selecting the drive was a simple matter of cursoring down, and pressing the Enter key.


In just a few minutes (under 3 minutes), PhotoRec identified and recovered 121* previously deleted photos.


* Much to my surprise, the application actually recovered 241 previously deleted photos. I’m not complaining.   Smile   All recovered files were saved to the recovery directory (a sub-directory of the directory the application is running from) – as shown below.


Here’s a recovered shot (August 2012), of my BlackBerry Playbook in its Bluetooth keyboard case. As an aside – Tablets are super duper consumption devices – but, for real work, a physical keyboard is a must for me.


Next up – music file recovery from my iPod.


In just a few moments (less than a minute), PhotoRec identified and recovered *105 previously deleted tunes.


* The application actually recovered 106 previously deleted tunes.


But, can they be played? You bet!


Fast facts:

Fix partition table, recover deleted partition.

Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup.

Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector.

Fix FAT tables.

Rebuild NTFS boot sector.

Recover NTFS boot sector from its backup.

Fix MFT using MFT mirror.

Locate ext2/ext3/ext4 Backup SuperBlock .

Undelete files from FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2 filesystem.

Copy files from deleted FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions.

System requirements: Windows (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, Windows 7 (x86 & x64), Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SunOS and MacOS X. (Reviewed on Win 8 x32)

Download at:

You may only need this application a time or two – but, wouldn’t it be nice to have it sitting in your USB toolbox when you do? The answer is – YES.   Smile


Filed under downloads, File Recovery Software, Freeware, Open Source, Windows

Beat Obama’s Bandits With TrueCrypt Free (Open-Source) Encryption

The so called “War on Terror” has long since lost its luster and should be appropriately reclassified as The War of Terror. The U.S. has been singularly impudent in terrorizing the terrorists but instead, it has managed to terrorize the rest of the world using a system of surveillance schemes that have gone off the board. Chalk one up for Al Qaeda – the only winners in this debacle.

In the meantime, Americans continue to live in fear – trading away freedoms for security in a war that is simple unwinnable. Obama, despite his assurances that he would “fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties” has been a principle mover in this assault on democracy.

And, the master of the reversal has more –

Obama, in a 2008 election sound bite, drew a sharp contrast with the Bush administration which he proclaimed, offered Americans “a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.” And for good measure – for stooping “to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” It’s a surreal world we live in, is it not?

But why be satisfied with my ramblings? Here’s the video.


As America continues its slide into Fascism (eagerly joined in the venture by Canada, Australia, the U.K. and countless other self-advertised “democracies”), the justified expectation held by these governments is – you – yes, you – will take no active part in expressing your outrage at the escalating intrusions into your private life. Sadly, the undermining of democracy, or more to the point, democracy as we though we knew it, continues apace.

As a consequence (hardly the only consequence, of course), encryption technology is once again in the spotlight. And no, using encryption does not mean that one has something to hide.

Sophisticated and  aware computer users know, that financial data and other confidential information, can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.

Putting Obama and his bad boys aside, here are some examples of how this might occur:

Internet malware attack: Increasingly, statistics reinforce the fact that financial data continues to be targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft.

Contrast that reality with these facts; there is no such thing as a totally secure Internet connected computer. All Internet connected computers are subject to attack and compromise.

Lost or stolen Laptop: How often have we read the following – 200,00 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Insurance Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on a laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.

In too many of these cases, negligently, the data is unencrypted. Certainly Laptop theft or loss is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen to you.

Lost or stolen USB drive: Since USB flash drives are so portable, you can take a drive virtually anywhere. Just like most items that are portable and that you carry with you, this type of drive can be lost, or stolen.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat of sensitive data exposure then, the most prudent course of action is data encryption. Essentially, data encryption is a secure process for keeping your sensitive and confidential information private. It’s a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The Encryption process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted.

It happens to us all: Just this past week, I lost not only my house keys (first time ever) – but the USB key attached to the keychain. If you guessed that the drive was encrypted – take a bow.   Smile


TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume. On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted, or decrypted, just before they are loaded or saved – without any user intervention. The program automatically and transparently encrypts in real time.

No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without the correct password/key file or correct encryption keys. The entire file system is encrypted (i.e., file names, folder names, contents, free space, Meta data, etc.).

Files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations). When you turn off your computer, the volume will be dismounted and files stored in the volume will be inaccessible and encrypted. You may of course, manually dismount the volume.

TrueCrypt offers a number of options – you can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Installation is simple and straightforward – no gotchas here. Lots of steps – but easy steps.






If you choose “Keyfiles”, be sure you understand the ramifications. This is an extra security step which has limited application for a home user. You do not need to select this option.






And – Win 8’s File Explorer reports that the volume has been setup successfully. If you expand the graphic below (click), you’ll also notice my first TrueCrypt volume on this HD from May 9, 2006.


Indicative of this application’s popularity is the fact that it is downloaded tens of thousands of times each day, across the Internet.

Fast Facts:

Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk

Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive

Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent

Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password – Hidden volume – No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data)

Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS

Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts

Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)

I’ve been using TrueCrypt for a number of years, and I have developed a lot of confidence in this outstanding application. If you determine that encryption of your sensitive data is a priority, I highly recommend that you give TrueCrypt a try.

How effective is TrueCrypt? If you have any doubts as to how effective TrueCrypt really is, then read this article. FBI hackers fail to crack TrueCrypt:

The FBI has admitted defeat in attempts to break the open source encryption used to secure hard drives seized by Brazilian police during a 2008 investigation.

System Requirements: Win 8, Win 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Download at: TrueCrypt


Filed under downloads, Encryption Software, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Software, Utilities

Checkout Your Internet Risk Factor With OPSWAT’s Free Security Score

Not an imaginary conversation.

Me – How are you handling all the crazy new cyber threats currently being thrown at us on the Internet?

She – I’m cool! I’ve got the best Anti-virus program there is (her reference – the neighbourhood geek.)

Me – Good to hear that. So, what are you doing to take care of the rest?

She – What rest?

Rinse, wash and repeat this conversation a thousand times – and, the “rest” almost always becomes the new focus of attention. As it should – it’s here, in an often murky area (at least to a typical user), that, that user, runs a major risk of stumbling.

Security – both physical and electronic – isn’t about eliminating all risk – if it was, you and I (on the physical side), wouldn’t cross the road. Similarly, in Internet security, we can’t eliminate all the risks – short of unplugging the connection. Instead, a more realistic approach requires that we focus our attention on eliminating as many known risks as possible (just as we do in the physical world.)

In other words – we need to engage with the proactive side of Internet security rather than continuing to focus on the reactive side – the, “I’ve got the best Anti-virus program there is” side.

Luckily, there’s a terrific little application – OPSWAT’s Security Score – that in a matter of just a few seconds, evaluates and sets out the “rest” – and, should the application determine that a security issue needs to be addressed, helpful tips/hints are provided.

Regular readers may remember that I first reviewed this application several months ago, and while I agreed in principal with the concept, the execution (in my view), was not up to standard. OPSWAT has since revised and expanded the application in such a way, that Security Score should be considered a “must have” addition to a security toolbox. Particularly for those users who are less familiar with the ever changing cyber threat landscape.

Let me backtrack just a little and put up a graphic from the first run through with Security Score, in April. As you can see, the application teased out a score of 60/100. A less than impressive score for a security professional.


Good News:

The issues which prevented Security Score from digging into the system in order to provide an authentic result have been addressed and, are reflected in the following graphic – June 7, 2013.


The above graphic indicates an encryption raw score of zero which reflects the fact that I choose not to use Windows BitLocker.

However, as I wrote in my previous review – “I don’t do full disk encryption. I do however, encrypt selected files/folders (a much better choice for most users in my view), using what has long been considered the premier free encryption application available – TrueCrypt. Still, it’s good to see that the application addresses an issue which often escapes the notice of less experienced users.


Since application and operating system patches are often neglected by average users, a key component in Security Score measures the users adherence to a patch management routine.


Often not considered as part of a layered security approach, system/file backup is, in fact, a key element in any such process. You’ll note from the following graphic that Security Score has picked up on my use of a number of backup schemes including Google Drive…..


and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.


As the following graphic indicates, I’ve been marked down slightly on AV coverage since the application cannot be aware that I substitute full on-board AV scans with weekly scans using a Linux Live CD.


Given the conditions that we are now forced to deal with on the Internet – active PC monitoring with a view to insuring the security status of the machine is in good order is not just a preference or a recommendation – it’s an absolute necessity.

Sure, you can do all that this application does, manually. Choosing this route however, one could increase the risk of possible shortcomings in an otherwise acceptable security strategy. So, do yourself a favor and install OPSWAT’s Security Score. Better yet, introduce your friends/relatives/co-workers, to this neat freebie – we’ll all be the better for that.

Download at: OPSWAT

How OPSWAT calculates your security score:

OPSWAT’s score calculation is based on security industry and market research reports, over ten years of expertise in the security field, and feedback from leading security technology vendors on the relative importance of the categories and status of security software.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, OPSWAT