Category Archives: Tech Net News

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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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 11, 2013

Online-Shopping Scams to Watch Out For;  Five data recovery utilities; Holiday Tech Gifts for Men;  Xbox One Kinect sees through your clothes; The rise of the Chromebook;  Hacking for Fun and (Not) Profit; SpringPublisher 4.0 (Free);  Protect Privacy on Public Wi-Fi;  A website for women scorned;  11 games worth revisiting;  iPad Air explodes.

Tin foil hats need to come back in style if we’re to save our privacy – We laughed at the tin foil nutters, called them crazy, but now that it’s been found that the US is spying on everyone, of course they’re nowhere in sight now that we need them.

10 Excellent Holiday Tech Gifts for Men – Need holiday shopping inspiration? These fun tech gift picks for the guys in your life strike the perfect balance between useful and thoughtful.

Five data recovery utilities – I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I have had friends, family, and even clients contact me because a hard disk failed and no backup of the data exists. In these types of situations the only option is often to use a data recovery utility to try to get back some of the data. This article discusses five such utilities.

Yes, Xbox One Kinect can see you through your clothes – Anything that would stick out and affect your clothing in some way can be seen with the Kinect camera. If you take a look at the video from Microsoft’s research group on the new Kinect sensor, you can see it’s really not at all difficult to make out a penis. Depending on the type of clothing, this same effect would be present for breasts.

How to Protect Your Privacy on Public Wi-Fi Networks – Working unsecured on a public hotspot could get you into trouble. To find out just what the risks were, we consulted Con Mallon, a mobility expert with Symantec. There are three major ways these free, open hotspots could get you into trouble, he explains.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Open pages in Chrome as panels with PIP Viewer extension – It’s a great way to dock your Facebook news feed, Twitter feed, or a YouTube video, whether you are keeping an eye on a TED talk or a Cleveland Browns game from the mid-1980’s when Bernie Kosar was at the height of his powers.

Beehive ID advises who’s real and who’s an Internet fake – Dear Internet bots and sockpuppets: Your days are numbered, because the Beehive ID service is out to spot the frauds online.

Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 patch to fix mouse lag while gaming – Microsoft has now released a patch for Windows 8.1 that is supposed to fix an issue that was causing a great amount of lag in some mice products while playing certain games.

Street lights to spy on everything that happens in Vegas? – What happens in Vegas stays with the authorities? Las Vegas is installing Intellistreets, which are street lights that have many talents — including the ability to record sound and shoot video.

Low-end laptops: The rise of the Chromebook – Experts say Chromebooks are the one segment of the PC market that’s growing while everything else shrinks.

Five tech strategies to help expand your small business – Even though your business is small, you still need to innovate in order to grow. Jack Wallen identifies five budget-friendly ways to do so.

Rental options in a post-Blockbuster world – Rest in peace, Blockbuster stores. Long live Redbox, libraries, streaming services, and other alternatives.

Meet Sense, 3D Systems’ Cheap, Dead-Simple 3D Scanner For The Masses – South Carolina-based 3D Systems just recently outed a cheapish, consumer-friendly scanner called the Sense, and I swung by Engadget’s Expand show in New York this weekend to see the thing in action. Here’s the TL;DR if you’re on a tight schedule: at $399 price is right and I came away awfully impressed with the little thing. And I do mean little, as 3D Systems concocted a portable affair that’s about the size of a small hardback or staple gun.

McDonald’s wants a 3D printer in every restaurant so they can print Happy Meal toys – McDonald’s IT director Mark Fabes says that the chain is thinking about putting a 3D printer in every restaurant so they can 3D print whichever Happy Meals toys a child wants.

Hacking for Fun and (Not) Profit – Thanks to a handful of commands I’d typed into the terminal window on my loaner Linux laptop, I’d managed to take over a remote Windows machine. While giggling fiendishly the entire time, I’d also added a user account for myself and remotely rebooted that computer. I was hacking, or rather, proto-hacking, and it was a tremendous rush.

iPad Air explodes, faulty overcharge protection circuit suspected – An iPad Air spontaneously combusted this week in a Vodafon store in Canberra, Australia, filling the store with smoke and sending a continuous stream of sparks flying from the charging port of the device. The store was evacuated, the fire brigade was called, and the spectacular flaming tablet was officially extinguished. No one was injured in the fireworks.

Instagram Cracks Down on Drug-Related Hashtags – Drug dealers might need some new Instagram slang, as the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site is apparently cracking down on narcotics-related hashtags.

All about beamforming, the faster Wi-Fi you didn’t know you needed – Instead of broadcasting a signal to a wide area, hoping to reach your target, why not concentrate the signal and aim it directly at the target? Sometimes the simplest concepts are the most difficult to execute, especially at retail price points. Fortunately, beamforming is finally becoming a common feature in 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers (at least at the high end). Here’s how it works.


3 Holiday Online-Shopping Scams to Watch Out For – Along with all the amazing holiday Internet deals come the scammers, with new and inventive ways to trick you.

Stealing PIN Codes With a Wink and a Nod – The technique is deceptively simple in concept: The researchers’ software runs on the mobile device and when a user types in her PIN code, the software records keystroke sounds through the microphone and uses the camera to judge the phone’s orientation and watch the user’s face while she’s typing. Using those inputs, the researchers’ software has shown that it can infer the user’s four-digit PIN code better than 50 percent of the time after just five attempts on a Samsung Galaxy S3.

Technology no match for social engineering – A security researcher says there is a 100-percent success rate any time pen-testing uses social engineering to target victims. Here are some of the techniques used.

Women Utterly Destroy Men in Social Engineering Competition – How did women do against their male counterparts? “This year, the women not just won,” said Hadnagy. “They obliterated men.” Three of the top five slots went to women, and the top scoring social engineer had over 200 points more than the next highest scoring participant. “The women winning shows something, but we have no data that shows they were women talking to men.”

FBI posts $50,000 reward for ‘Lover Spy’ malware writer – The FBI has offered large rewards for information that could help catch accused cybercriminals who have been wanted for years. The details published on the FBI website covers all types of cybercrime, including database theft and hacking, telecom fraud, and malware scams. But it is the curious tale of Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara that offers the most more unusual case.

The Consequences of CEOs Surfing for Porn – Malware analysts can’t fully protect their companies from cyberattacks because of internal obstacles including avoidable malware messes by senior executives.

Phishing increase builds on hijacked brand names, study reports – The number of brands used in spoofed emails that trick people into visiting malicious Web sites or clicking on malware attachments rose in the second quarter.

Enterprise data breaches often left undisclosed, malware analysts say – According to new research, enterprise malware analysts often address data breaches which are kept under wraps by companies.

Beware scammers gathering data via fake social net IDs – Spear phishing is one of the most effective ways to break into a corporate network, and recent studies show that employees can be easily tricked on social media.

Rogue US-Israeli cyberwar weapon ‘infected Russian nuclear plant’: Even the space station has been infected by malware, claims Kaspersky – Stuxnet – the famous worm widely credited with crippling the Iranian nuclear weapons programme for several years – also infected the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant. Unspecified malware has even reached the International Space Station, according to the boss of Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.

Company News:

Google ordered to hand over Street View data or face massive daily fines – Google is back in the news regarding its Street cars and data collecting practises, this time in Brazil where a massive investigation is underway due to possible government data snooping by the NSA.

Motorola patents a tattoo that works as a wireless mic and lie detector – In the Motorola patent application, the tattoo is described as having a microphone, wireless transceiver, power supply, and a power controller. Signals would be passed from the electronic tattoo to your smartphone via NFC, and it would only wake up when instructed to do so by a particular audio stream — presumably something your phone would broadcast when a call connects, for example.

Intel acquires interactive education startup Kno – The proliferation of tablets have made using digital textbooks a more feasible choice than they were even a handful of years ago, and with them has come a growing number of textbook-related digital bookstores. Kno is one such company, and following rumors of such, Intel has officially acquired the startup, boosting its own Education business.

Google invests $608 million in Finnish data center – Google is investing $608 million into its Finnish data center in a bid to meet mobile video demand. The site in Hamina, some 150 kilometers outside Helsinki, was opened two years ago after Google bought a facility from a Finnish paper company for $272 million. It is currently one of three Google data centers in Europe.

Games and Entertainment:

Hot PC Games for the 2013 Holiday Season – With some of the most anticipated PC game releases delayed until 2014, we have put together a list of the hottest PC titles that have and will become available this holiday season.

Xbox One boots in 17 seconds, among leaked revelations – The latest Xbox One revelations ahead of its official Nov. 22 release date come by way of Twitter user @Moonlightswami, whose early acquisition of a console was likely made possible through a mistake on the part of Target. Among @Moonlightswami’s confirmed findings are a 17-second boot time, an initial 500MB software update, some very large game downloads in the Xbox Live Marketplace, and others.

Play ’em again, Sam: 11 games worth revisiting – Big updates and new modes and content give these mobile games replayability for days. (And days.)

New World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, announced – There will be new raids spread across seven zones, a new PvP zone, and new rewards causing you to skip work for a week so you can better manage the infinitesimal drop rates. Along with these usual additions, Draenor adds a new mechanic where players can build, upgrade, and maintain their own garrison. Players can also recruit NPCs and send them off to gather resources or complete quests.

PS4 Games You’ll Want on Day One – If you’re planning to buy a PlayStation 4 on launch day, you’ll need games. Here are some of the most intriguing titles available.

GAME and STA launch the ‘ultimate’ round-the-world trip for gamers – 4 weeks, 3 continents, 8 countries and 13 gaming-themed destinations are in store for intrepid voyagers embarking on the “ultimate gaming adventure” – with prices starting from £5,582 ($8,950).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Beyond Verbal gets inside your customers’ heads – New technology can read a person’s mood, attitude, and personality by listening to their person’s voice.

She’s a Homewrecker: A scorn-filled website for women scorned – We all know infidelity stings, but who’s to blame when it happens? If you ask the community behind She’s a Homewrecker, it’s not the people breaking the boundaries of their relationship, it’s “the other women.” She’s a Homewrecker is basically an online burn book that’s been “exposing the women who choose to become involved with an involved man” since 2012. Slighted women are encouraged to upload several photos of the mistress who’s driving them mad, and their stories to the site. Each “homewrecker” is listed and tagged by her full name and the state she lives in.

The Microsoft Kinect game revolutionizing rehab for stroke survivors – Researchers have developed a game using Microsoft’s Kinect motion tracking system, which is transforming rehabilitation for patients left partially immobile after a stroke, with incredible results.

Women sue: Caffeinated underwear doesn’t zap fat – Underwear performance underwhelming, says suit targeting Maidenform’s caffeine microcapsule undies that promise to burn cellulite.

F-bombs away! Twitter map tracks curses in real time – A new interactive site displays where, and how often, people around the world use the F-word on Twitter. Looks like New York is really effed up.

Das Keyboard HackShield Backpack review: A totally thief-proof backpack – This is the Fort Knox of backpacks. Because it’s impossible to break into, not because it’s full of gold bars.

Why dollars are better than bitcoins (and always will be) – Say anything negative about Bitcoin and the moles come out of the dark to throw stones. But the truth is that dollars are better than Bitcoins. And here’s why. (I’m not a mole – but, I’ll wager 2 bushels of wheat against one goatskin that this writer has a limited perspective on MONEY.)

Something to think about:

All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

–     Sir Winston Churchill

Today’s Free Downloads:

WOT (Web of Trust) – Web safety is not just about viruses and malware. WOT’s ratings are powered by a global community of millions of users who rate websites based on their own experiences. Add WOT to you browser for protection against online threats that only real life experience can detect, such as scams, untrustworthy links, and rogue web stores.

SpringPublisher 4.0 – SpringPublisher is a professional and easy to use desktop publishing software. With its included various templates and online template store, powerful multi-layer editor, detailed help-files, SpringPublisher enables you to design and print Business Card, Flyer, Postcard, Letterhead and other artworks within a few minutes.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Internet engineers urge security against online spies – Members of the Internet Engineering Task Force discussed at its meeting in Vancouver, Canada last week how the organization could turn its plan to protect the web from government spying into action. IETF chair Jari Arkko also spoke at a UN event in Bali about the need for the engineers behind the Internet to push for new standards that would make it more difficult for government intelligence agencies like the NSA to spy on Internet users en masse. In his speech, Arkko suggested two main tenets to the plan extending SSL-like encryption to all pages of the Internet, and improving encryption algorithms.

GCHQ hacked GRX and OPEC employees via Quantum inserts, Snowden papers show – A new analysis of the Snowden papers by German magazine Der Spiegel shows GCHQ–the English counterpart to the US’s NSA–served false copies of LinkedIn and Slashdot pages to install malware on a few target individuals’ computers. This latest revelation is not a mass spying program, but a server-heavy, speed-dependent initiative to spy on key individuals deemed to be assets by the GCHQ. Targets included employees of GRX providers Comfon, Mach (now owned by Syniverse), and nine members of OPEC, the global oil cartel.

Indonesian hackers crash Australian intelligence agency’s site – The hacking comes one week after a wave of cyberattacks against over 170 Australian sites, mainly belonging to small businesses. The attacks were in retaliation against Australia for reportedly using its Jakarta embassy for spying.

Snowden serves up another lesson on insider threats – The Edward Snowden saga continues to serve up valuable lessons on the dangers posed to enterprise data by insiders with privileged access to systems and networks. The latest lesson involves the risks of allowing password sharing among employees.

White House reportedly considers civilian NSA chief – As the role of the US National Security Agency continues to be examined, the White House thinks about picking a civilian to replace outgoing Gen. Keith Alexander, reports The Hill.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 8, 2013

CIA pays AT&T to search international call database;  The 10 Best Wireless Routers;  IE11 now available for Windows 7;  WinPatrol Plus – guards your PC;  Boost battery life on Android 4.4;  Kindle Fire HD 7″ $99.99 on Black Friday;  Get free Play store cash from Google;  Ultimate WordPress Guide;  Stop Flash Chrome crash;  Edit GIFs without Photoshop;  Peeping Tom claims First Amendment right to upskirt.

The 10 Best Wireless Routers – Which is the best wireless router for you? Choosing the right one will make the difference between frustration and enjoyment.

IE11 now available for Windows 7 – Microsoft has announced that IE11 for Windows 7 is now available for download in 95 languages and that it will be rolling out via Windows update in the near future.

Best Buy selling Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet for $99.99 on Black Friday – Usually a major retailer’s multi-page ad for Black Friday is leaked online, but Best Buy has revealed a few of its specials via a news report on a Little Rock, Arkansas TV station. A local Best Buy employee shows off some deals, including an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch tablet for $99.99.

WinPatrol Plus stands guard over your PC – WinPatrol Plus has stood guard over Windows PCs for years. But the latest version understands that computer users don’t need to be alerted to absolutely everything happening on their PC.

How to edit GIFs without resorting to Photoshop – Here’s our hands-on with, an easy, web-based tool for people with zero graphics know-how.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to get free Play store cash from Google – Google wants your opinion, so it has released an app called Google Opinion Rewards for Android users. The app is free and only takes a few minutes to set up, with the process requiring you to take a survey. Your answers to the initial survey will be used to customize the surveys you’ll receive on your device in the future.

Chrome On Windows To Start Rejecting Extensions From Outside The Chrome Web Store In January – The leading cause of complaints from its Windows users, Google says, is still due to malicious extensions that override browser settings and change the user experience in unexpected (and undesired) ways.

Kim Dotcom’s ‘Mega’ storage service dumps its beta tag, picks up some new features – Megaupload may be dead and gone, but Mega—the file storage and sharing service that rose from Megaupload’s ashes—is going strong.

The Ultimate WordPress Guide – WordPress is one of the most powerful blogging platforms online. Whether you need a personal outlet, a business site, or want to cultivate a personal brand. Ranging from free, quick-and-easy blogs, to professional news engines, WordPress has something for everyone. (Super tips and advice)

Survey: Americans Intrigued But Skeptical of Wearable Tech – According to a new poll released this week by Harris Interactive, nearly half of Americans (or 46 percent) are at “least a little interested” in owning a watch-like wearable computing device while 27 percent are “very or somewhat interested.” The online survey of 2,577 U.S. adults, conducted between Sept. 18 and 24, also found that nearly half of respondents are at least mildly interested in owning some other type of wearable tech gadget, though fewer expressed interest in headsets or glasses.

GIMP flees SourceForge over dodgy ads and installer – The ads weren’t The GIMP devs’ only beef, as they were willing to tolerate them until SourceForge’s new Windows installer came along. As the devs note, that tool “… bundles third-party offers with Free Software packages. We do not want to support this kind of behavior, and have thus decided to abandon SourceForge.”

Stop the Shockwave Flash Chrome crash – Here’s the problem: Chrome comes with its own version of Flash. In addition, you may have another Flash installation, downloaded from Adobe or bundled with your computer. The trick is to turn one of them off.

Google Maps Update Boosts Street View, Revives Pegman – Google continues to tweak the new Google Maps preview, this week adding a number of features to the next-generation map service, including Pegman and some improvements to Street View.

Microsoft depicts IE11 as robot-fighting anime heroine – Meet Inori Aizawa. According to her Facebook profile she was born in September of 2013, and she’s come to show the world how awesome Internet Explorer 11 is — by single-handedly destroying a legion of evil robots – anime style.

Five settings that increase battery life on Android 4.4 KitKat – With every new operating system comes a fresh set of features that serve up convenience…at the cost of your battery life. In many cases, it’s just not worth having your phone die when you need it most. If you’re looking to get more juice out of your phone’s battery, or are one of the many people with a Nexus 5 plagued by a possible battery issue, change these settings.

Fire at Internet Archive destroys equipment and materials, but data safe – The Internet Archive is working to produce a full assessment of the damaged and destroyed materials; meanwhile, it is continuing its scanning efforts at an alternate location. In addition to assistance in the form of donations, the group is also asking for more materials to be donated for scanning in order to keep the scanning employees affected by the fire working.

Create mobile app prototypes for free with Clank – Learn how to use the Clank open source framework to create a demo application for an iOS device.

Panasonic 4K tablet heads to US in January – The 20-inch 4K tablet, which boasts a 3,840×2,560-pixel resolution, will reportedly go on sale in the US in January for a whopping $6,000.


Microsoft to release three critical Windows 8.1 security updates Nov. 12 – Microsoft has announced it will release eight security bulletins for its latest ‘Patch Tuesday’ updates on November 12th, including three critical bulletins for Windows 8.1 and other Windows versions.

Exploits of critical Microsoft zero day more widespread than thought: At least two hacker gangs exploit TIFF vulnerability to hijack users’ computers – The critical Microsoft Windows and Office vulnerability that came to light two days ago is being more widely exploited than previously reported, making it more urgent that end users install a temporary fix right away.

Microsoft narrows down the software affected by recent exploits – Today’s post stated that so far the only attacks have been directed against Office 2007 running on Windows XP. The exploit itself affects Office 2003 and 2007 and is present regardless of the version of Windows that are used by those programs. Office 2010 also has the exploit, but only when used on a PC with Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

Hackers make off with thousands of Bitcoins in breach – As Bitcoins see a steady climb in value, some unfortunate folks have found their accounts drained thanks to hackers who breached, taking a total of 4100 bitcoins. At present exchange rates, this amounts to about $1,230,000 USD, and unfortunately for those who were affected, the bitcoin wallet does not have the funds or other means to pay back the lost sums.

NSA Tangled Up In Russian Ransomware Threats – Is the NSA demanding that you pay up for a cybercrime? How outrageous is that? Luckily, the NSA isn’t actually behind any of this. This is just another scamto get your money involving fake law enforcement. In a recent blog post, IT security company Blue Coat addressed last week’s attacks on visitors to the Web site. Their investigation revealed that one of the sneakier ransomware applications wrote ransom notes to victims using personal information the victims believed was from the NSA.

Company News:

Twitter IPO sees early 73% rise on NYSE – Twitter begins its journey into the public realm with their Initial Public Offering, seeing a relatively quick rise in price of each share in early hours of trading. The Twitter IPO began with the company offering up 70 million shares with stock priced at a cool $26 USD per share. Soon after the initial offering, the first trade was made at $45.10 a share, making an impressive 73% jump right off the bat.

Facebook expands in Europe as it scoops up new employees – Facebook is moving to bigger offices in London and Dublin to accommodate its rapidly expanding European workforce.

NVIDIA 2014 Q3 results show revenues up over previous quarter – As of this past quarter, which ended on October 27, NVIDIA pulled in $1.054 billion, a jump of 7.9-percent over Q2’s $977.2 million in GAAP revenues. The year-on-year numbers aren’t so favorable, however, showing a decrease of 12.5-percent.

Surging mobile sales help PC king Lenovo haul in cash – Chinese PC maker Lenovo posted a 36 percent year-over-year growth in its net profit in the third quarter, with demand for the company’s smartphones and tablets continuing to outpace shipments for its PC products.

Apple stores to mysteriously close early Nov 17 and 18 – A number of Apple stores around the world are mysteriously set to close early next weekend. Several stores in Canada and stores in other countries will be operating under special hours on November 17 and November 18. Exactly why the stores are closing early is unknown.

Dell faces scrutiny for alleged labor violations at factories in China – Workers at four Dell suppliers in China are allegedly enduring long overtime hours and facing exposure to toxic fumes, according to new reports from watchdog groups.

Firefox gets mobile foothold from Android preinstallation deals – Second-tier phones and tablets from Gigabyte and Kobo will have the mobile browser built in, a move that could help Mozilla’s ambition of having more mobile influence.

Games and Entertainment:

GTA Online stimulus package arrives: software fix today – This week the folks at Rockstar Games have begun pushing a real-deal set of fixes for the Grand Theft Auto Online environment. This piece of the GTA:V or Grand Theft Auto 5 universe saw some heavy oddities going on online when the service was launched including loss of progress, vehicles disappearing in garages, and straight up goofs in modifications. This week Rockstar’s big fixes are in order along with the stimulus package they promised for early adopters.

Listen up! 5 gaming headsets vie for sound supremacy – A helicopter circles overhead. The harsh stutter of automatic weapons crackles in the distance, but what you’re most concerned about right now is the crunch of boots on gravel. Someone—friend or foe—is approaching. A high-quality headset can help you precisely identify the location of those audio cues. Crisp, clear sound can mean the difference between life and death when you’re gaming, rendering your headset as vital to your virtual well-being as any weapon.

Marvel Teaming With Netflix For Four New Superhero Shows And One Miniseries – Marvel and Netflix are teaming up for a sprawling, multi-year content partnership that will focus on NYC heroes centered in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, the company announced today. This will involve the creation of four new serialized shows, culminating in a multi-part miniseries tying the characters in each together.

Microsoft now focused on ‘core’ PC games after Windows 8 launch’s casual titles – A Microsoft executive has promised the company is focusing on “core” PC games after Windows 8’s launch had several casual titles. The studio allegedly has a large amount of PC titles in development.

PlayStation 4 launch apps detailed with Netflix, Hulu Plus, GameCenter and more – As the PlayStation 4’s launch later this month closes in, Sony has announced the apps that will be available with the gaming console upon its launch. With the console will come some big-name apps that many gamers enjoy, including a handful of entertainment apps, as well as offerings for sports fans and some free entertainment options.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘So, that’s why it’s called Bluetooth!’ and other surprising tech name origins – The stories of how some of the world’s biggest brands and technologies came up with their names open a window to a different era—a simpler time before Web squatters took all the normal names and corporations focus-grouped language to death. Here we present the hidden—and occasionally accidental—histories behind some of the biggest names in tech.

Police need judge’s specific permission to search computers, Supreme Court of Canada rules – Police entering a home with a search warrant have no right to search any computers they find unless a judge has given them specific permission, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Thursday. “It is difficult to imagine a more intrusive invasion of privacy than the search of a personal or home computer,” Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote for the court.

Alleged Peeping Tom claims First Amendment right to upskirt – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is mulling just whether an alleged upskirter’s right to snap women’s nether regions is defended by the US constitution, and indeed whether women who unwittingly expose themselves in public have any right to privacy.

Engineers study urinal splashing, offer aiming tips – A group of Brigham Young University fluid-dynamics researchers apply the laws of physics to urinal splash-back to help guys pee-fect their aim.

What’s a zit’s life span? ScanZ aims to help clear that up – Device takes transdermal images, which are sent to a smartphone app and then run through algorithms developed at the Mayo Clinic that help predict when zits are likely to disappear.

Scientists find some bacteria may thrive in zero gravity – As if space wasn’t already dangerous enough, some newly reported research on bacterial growth in orbit indicates some strains of microorganisms can thrive in zero gravity, even if they are deprived of nutrients. This could change the way astronauts prepare for and live in space, especially as the prospect of long-term space flight becomes more real.

Engineers Build The World’s First Real 3D-Printed Gun – The Liberator, for all the hoopla, was not really a gun. This 3D-printed firearm, on the other hand, is a gun. It is a copy of a 1911 made using public-domain plans and a laser sintering system that solidifies metal powder. It fires just like a real semi-automatic pistol The gun, created by Solid Concepts, is completely legal.

‘Comet of the Century’ ISON coming into view this week’ – It could be the brightest comet in decades, or even centuries, and it’s coming to visit for the holidays. It might also fizzle out.

Something to think about:

From J.K. Galbraith’s The Affluent Society:

“The family which takes its mauve and cerise, air-conditioned, power-steered and power-braked automobile out for a tour passes through cities that are badly paved, made hideous by litter, blighted buildings, billboards, and posts for wires that should long since have been put underground… They picnic on exquisitely packaged food from a portable icebox by a polluted stream and go on to spend the night at a park which is a menace to public health and morals. Just before dozing off on an air mattress, beneath a nylon tent, amid the stench of decaying refuse, they may reflect vaguely on the curious unevenness of their blessings” (suggested by Michael F.)

Today’s Free Downloads:

PhoneTrans 3.6.6 – Spice up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch by transferring music, Apps, movies, music videos, and more.

Windows Firewall Control – Windows Firewall Control is a nifty little application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Driver Booster 1.1 – Driver Booster is a brand new driver updating tool. It protects your PC from hardware failures, conflicts, and resolves system crash problems caused by outdated drivers. All old drivers can be detected by simply clicking on the “Scan” button, and then you just need to click “Update All” button to refresh these outdated drivers. Compared with other driver updating tools, IObit Driver Booster can improve your PC performance for gaming as well.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CIA pays AT&T to search international call database: AT&T is paid more than $10 million annually to search records, NY Times reports – AT&T retains the data, but it performs searches against its databases for specific phone numbers upon request from the CIA, the Times’ Charlie Savage reports, citing unnamed government officials. AT&T’s international call database includes not only the records of AT&T customers but of any call that transits the company’s international network equipment—including Americans’ international calls.

Should NSA surveillance influence your business cloud buying decisions? – Summary: Our IT security experts debate the impact that NSA surveillance revelations can have on your business. (The moderator has delivered a final verdict.)

“We have to make surveillance expensive again” says Bruce Schneier – The ongoing revelations of governmental electronic spying point to a problem larger than National Security Agency malfeasance, or even of security weaknesses. Rather the controversy arising from Edward Snowden’s leaked documents suggest we face unresolved issues around data ownership, argued security expert Bruce Schneier.

Does F-Secure’s antivirus turn a blind eye to spook spyware? CEO hits back – Antivirus maker F-Secure has responded to privacy campaigners’ concerns over the handling of spook-grade surveillance malware – by insisting its security software slays government spyware wherever it can. In an open letter to the Bits of Freedom team, F-Secure president and chief exec Christian Fredrikson said his firm stands by its 2001 vow to not discriminate in favor of intelligence agencies when block potentially malicious code.

As US gov’t surveillance watchdog group opens for business, questions linger – Monday’s hearing saw testimony from legal officials from the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI. The government officials largely argued for the continuation of their programs as is. In particular, there was forceful defense of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for the bulk telecom metadata handover to the government.

NSA spying poisons the cloud market – A PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey found 54 percent of German companies find the cloud risky after learning of NSA spying. An earlier study by PwC finds that 84% of CEOs are confident about cyber security. If they only knew the truth.

NSA spying prompts open TrueCrypt encryption software audit to go viral – A unique effort to crowdsource a security audit of the popular TrueCrypt open source encryption software appears to be going viral three weeks after it was launched by two U.S. based researchers in response to concerns that the National Security Agency may have tampered with it. The intiative has so far garnered more than $57,000 in donations and bitcoins and attracted over 1,000 volunteers from 30 countries, including a techncial advisory group comprised of some of the world’s best regarded cryptographers.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 7, 2013

Windows 8.1 free to non-profits;  KitKat quick-start guide;  Windows XP antivirus updates ending;  5 speech recognition programs;  Is your encryption truly secure?;  Silk Road resurrected;  10 patches, five critical, for Firefox; Security’s weakest link;  Call of Duty: $1 billion on first day;  Free Junkware Removal Tool;  Googlers say “F*** you” to NSA.

Microsoft to end Windows XP antivirus updates – Microsoft is doing its level best to get Windows XP holdouts to upgrade to a newer operating system. No new patches will arrive after April 8, 2014, and now the company is pondering cutting off antivirus updates at that point, too.

Five most useful apps for travel – The very thought of having to travel for business makes most cringe. You’re away from your family, familiar surroundings, the amenities of normalcy – it can send you into a frenzy of anxiety. Let’s take a look at five tools that could easily make your business travel much more efficient, productive, and successful.

5 lesser-known browsers: Free, lightweight and low-maintenance – Popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome have lots of features — and can take up lots of memory. We look at 5 lesser-known browsers for simpler surfing.

Google dumps Windows Vista support from Google Apps – By eliminating support for Internet Explorer 9 from its Google Apps, Google has indirectly prevented Windows Vista users from using Google’s cloud services to full effect.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

SwiftKey Android Keyboard Gets Big Update That Unifies Tablets and Phones – While stock Android keyboards have vastly improved in the last year or two, there are still some extremely popular third-party replacements available in the Play Store. SwiftKey has long been at the top of the heap when it comes to Android input, and it has just gotten a major update that unifies the phone and tablet apps while also adding some much needed features.

Get the KitKat quick-start guide – Google’s official guide on using Android 4.4 KitKat is available for download right now. Here’s how to get it.

Control your PC with these 5 speech recognition programs – We found five Windows-based options worth a test drive. They were tested under pretty rugged conditions, too: my native Scottish brogue, and my German accent honed by 13 years spent in Wuerzburg. While none was quite able to slay the powerful Dragon, they could still be useful for many tasks.

Is your encryption truly secure? TrueCrypt audit effort smashes fundraising goals – Privacy geeks the world over rely on TrueCrypt to encrypt their most private data, but the program’s bones have never been thoroughly poked over. That’s changing soon.

Google to display Google+ photos of your callers – The new phone app in Android 4.4 KitKat can link people with their Google+ photos so you can sneak a peek at the person calling you.

Microsoft expands Office Web Apps functionality – Microsoft has declared Thursday, Nov. 7, to be “Get It Done Day,” and in that spirit it’s rolling out significant changes for Office Web Apps, the free Web-based complements of the core Microsoft Office applications.

Hula hopes to make hookup apps more responsible — and the STD talk a little more fun – What we euphemistically call “dating apps” are becoming incredibly popular because they find people in your vicinity who are DTF (down to, uh, flirt). That’s where Hula comes in. The new iOS app is piggybacking on the success of hookup apps by letting users share their STD test results in a fun, millennial-friendly way—or as fun as you can possibly get when you’re talking about chlamydia. (Bollocks! Sharing “STD test results in a fun, millennial-friendly way.” Let me out of this lunatic asylum!)

Roman Ruins HD for iPad Takes You On a Tour of 350 Ancient Locations – Not everyone can afford a quick jaunt around the Mediterranean to view the ruins of ancient Rome, but there’s a new iPad app that offers a reasonably facsimile without the whole traveling the world aspect. Roman Ruins HD includes 1,500 images of ruins from all over the Mediterranean with massive pillars, detailed stonework, and more.

Silk Road is resurrected with a new Dread Pirate Roberts – Deja vu? A new online drug marketplace appears as Silk Road 2.0 with an operator using the same pseudonym as the original site’s alleged operator.

End of an era: DISH to close remaining US Blockbuster stores – DISH has announced that it will close the 300 or so remaining Blockbuster retail stores in the U.S. by early January 2014, while also shutting down the Blockbuster By Mail DVD service in December.

Samba TV releases new second-screen and TV apps for Sony devices – Samba TV, formerly known as Flingo, today released a slew of apps for Sony devices, including Bravia TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and Blu-ray Home Theater devices patched into Sony Entertainment Network. The apps detect what is playing on your connected smart TV and automatically push related interactive content, which can then be accessed on second-screen devices such as smartphones and tablets or via the TV.

‘Million Mask’ marchers make noise (pictures) – Hundreds of protesters around the world don masks in what the hacking collective Anonymous called the “Million Mask March.”


Mozilla releases 10 patches, five critical, for Firefox – Mozilla released 10 patches for three versions of its Firefox browser on Tuesday, five of which are considered critical and could be used to remotely install malicious code. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned that the problems “could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code, bypass intended access restrictions, cause a denial-of-service condition or obtain sensitive information.”

iOS App Vulnerability Could Let Attackers Hijack Your Apps – During a Main-in-the-Middle attack, someone hijacks your connection to a secure site, receiving everything sent by either party and passing it along, possibly with malicious changes. But a MITM attack ends when you disconnect from the network. Not so any longer says Yair Amit from Skycure (the guys who hacked my iPhone). They’ve apparently uncovered a vulnerability that can permanently change the behavior of apps in iOS.

Security’s weakest link: Technology no match for social engineering – A security researcher says there is a 100-percent success rate any time pen-testing uses social engineering to target victims. Here are some of the techniques used.

Android insecure? Blame those free apps you never asked for – Android vendors are free to pre-install apps but they’re not doing a very good job securing them.

Now there’s a bug bounty program for the whole Internet – Microsoft and Facebook are sponsoring a new program that pays big cash rewards to whitehat hackers who uncover security bugs threatening the stability of the Internet at large. To qualify, the bugs must affect software implementations from a variety of companies, potentially result in severely negative consequences for the general public, and manifest themselves across a wide base of users.

Company News:

Twitter sets IPO price at $26 – The company said Wednesday that it plans to sell 70 million shares to the public starting Thursday. Underwriters have the option to sell an additional 10.5 million shares during the first 30 days. With the price announced, all eyes will be on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning to gauge investor reaction and demand for the stock, which will trade under the symbol TWTR.

Google’s secret proposals leaked as dismay over EU antitrust inquiry grows – Despite the threat of sanctions, at least one of Google’s rivals has leaked the search giant’s full proposals that seek to avoid an antitrust fine from European authorities.

With 30K Active Online Stores, Weebly Launches DIY eCommerce Platform To Take On Amazon And Shopify – Launching today, Weebly’s new eCommerce platform aims to bring simple online store creation to the masses, Rusenko says, and will provide businesses access to a mobile store and checkout, filtered product search advanced merchandising and an integrated shopping cart. The company’s new eCommerce tools will be available for free, which includes support for businesses selling up to five products.

Microsoft offers Windows 8.1 for free to non-profit organizations – Microsoft has announced it is now making Windows 8.1 available for free to non-profit organizations and public libraries through their Corporate Citizenship software donation program.

Intel forms ‘Internet of Things’ division – Intel, eager to not be left behind like it was with smartphones and tablets, is forming an ‘Internet of Things’ division in an attempt to position itself to be able to capitalize from connected devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Ghosts achieves $1 billion in sales on first day – When GTA V launched back in September the initial estimates predicted it could make $1 billion in its first month on sale. The game surpassed that total in just three days. But while the GTA franchise may be big, it’s quite possible that Call of Duty is bigger. Activision is reporting over $1 billion worth of sales of Call of Duty: Ghosts in the first 24 hours.

Two top PC games gain Linux support ahead of SteamOS – Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS hasn’t arrived just yet, nor have the company’s living room-ready “Steam Machines,” but a couple of notable game developers have already prepared Linux ports of their hit titles. This week, Metro: Last Light and Super Meat Boy both got the open-source OS treatment.

Name your price for six action-packed Warner Bros games, help charity – The new Humble Bundle ranks up there with the best of them, offering two Batman games, two F.E.A.R. games, and other good stuff.

Watch 33 years of video game titles flash by in two minutes – As video games have become more like movies, so have the title sequences that accompany them. Once, they were mostly static — just glorified welcome screens dressed up with a bit of animation or color. But now, they’re meticulously designed, sometimes taking months to produce. Watch as Art of the Title flips through three decades’ worth of opening credits.

How Call of Duty: Ghosts has shifted the gaming landscape – Ghosts released to the world yesterday. Is the world sick of yearly iterations, or did the new CoD hit big? How will it affect 2013’s gaming landscape?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Revealed: Secrets of the “dash-cam” meteorite that rocked Russia – The asteroid impact that burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia on the morning of February 15 has provided a huge collection of new data that scientists have been analyzing since. This week, three papers, two in Nature and one in Science, describe new aspects of the meteorite’s airburst, building the most detailed forensic picture that we have of the events of that morning.

“Sweetie” virtual child takes down 1000 pedophiles in 10 weeks – Technology is directly involved in our daily lives, making it more convenient, more efficient, and more entertaining. There’s another side to technological advances that we don’t see on the daily, however, and it is arguably the most important of them all — the ability to prevent crimes that otherwise would slip under the radar. Such is the case with “Sweetie,” a virtual 10-year-old girl created to lure in pedophiles who are subsequently identified and handed over to law enforcement.

Billy Connolly Smoked A Bible – CONAN on TBS (humour) – Want to smoke but have no rolling papers? Billy Connolly says let the Lord help! (suggested by Michael F.)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Owners Petition for Android 4.4 KitKat – Galaxy Nexus smartphone owners are petitioning Google for the launch of Android 4.4 KitKat on the two-year-old smartphone.

Privacy ruling forces Google to delete racy images – Google must remove from its search results photos of the former Formula One president at a sex party, a French court rules.

Netflix’s war with movie theaters – The company’s content chief thinks movies should appear on Netflix on the same day they open in theaters, before the buzz wears off.

Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice: The PC’s origin story – Let’s revel in the roots of the wonder machines that make our lives easier. From the first GPUs and CPUs to the forerunner of the Internet, these are the breakthroughs that birthed computers as we know them today. If nothing else, staring history in the face reminds us that all computing devices share the same background, regardless of what shape and form PCs take today.

Something to think about:

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

–    Arthur Schopenhauer

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ghostery 5.0.6 – 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. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

Junkware Removal Tool 6.0.8 – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Googlers say “F*** you” to NSA, company encrypts internal network – Google has started to encrypt its traffic between its data centers, effectively halting the broad surveillance of its inner workings by the joint National Security Agency-GCHQ program known as MUSCULAR. The move turns off a giant source of information to the two agencies, which at one point accounted for nearly a third of the NSA’s daily data intake for its primary intelligence analysis database—at least for now.

Google engineers rage at NSA – Google cryptography engineers explain their anger at the NSA for violating security systems they built to stop criminals.

Dutch civil society groups sue government over NSA data sharing – A coalition of defense lawyers, privacy advocates and journalists has sued the Dutch government over its collaboration and exchange of data with the U.S. National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services.

How the Government Spied on Me – My complaint to the FBI about a stalker was regarded as an invitation to invade my privacy – It has been a full year since federal agents snooped through the private emails of my husband and me, setting in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the resignations of Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan. The anniversary is a somber reminder of the unintended consequences and harsh realities that can result from unrestrained government probing into Americans’ personal communications.

Web inventor Berners-Lee sounds alarm on mass spying – Sir Tim Berners-Lee says the activities of the NSA and its UK counterpart, the GCHQ, could warp his baby, making the Internet vulnerable to attack and depriving humanity of a “safe space” for problem solving.

Google Engineers reply to NSA: “all too often, laws are for the little people” – There are a couple of Google engineers working for the Google security team replying in kind to the NSA and the GCHQ (on the other side of the ocean) regarding the most recent round of Edward Snowden-leaked documents on government snooping into Google and Yahoo cloud networks. What you’ll find is a rather everyman-level bit of talk that essentially anyone can understand. Per Google’s Mike Hearn: “We designed this system to keep criminals out. There’s no ambiguity here.”

Kaspersky: “We detect and remediate any malware attack,” even by NSA – Antivirus provider Kaspersky said it has designed its products to detect all malware, even if it’s sponsored by the National Security Agency or other government entities under programs espoused to target terrorists or other threats. “We have a very simple and straightforward policy as it relates to the detection of malware: We detect and remediate any malware attack, regardless of its origin or purpose,” officials with the Moscow-based company wrote in a statement issued Wednesday. “There is no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ malware for us.”

Apple discloses what it’s sharing with governments – We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the US government secretly gathering information from Google, Yahoo, and other tech giants. But what about Apple? The Cupertino-based corporation, not yet caught up in the NSA scandals, has decided to take disclosure into its own hands. They’ve issued a report detailing what type of information they are sharing with what national governments.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2013

$50 Android tablet Black Friday 2013 deal;  Fix your PC’s worst annoyances;  Microsoft – attacks on Windows Vista, Lync, Office; Target $200 iPad Trade-In Deal; Build a standing desk in 20 minutes; Marijuana is safer than alcohol; Check if your Adobe account hacked; Flipp app – flyers to your phone or tablet; Public Supports NSA Spying On Their Email, Neighbors And Foreign Leaders.

Get ready for the $50 Android tablet Black Friday 2013 deal – again – Specials from Walmart and Toys “R” Us list no-name 7-inch slates for cut-rate prices coming for the holiday shopping season. Will you be buying one?

How to fix your PC’s worst annoyances – Windows oozes with all sorts of hackle-raising “features” that interfere with just plain using your PC. But don’t chuck your monitor across the room! By the time you’re done reading this article, your headaches should be gone.

The phablet-ization of the smartphone – The trend toward large-touchscreen smartphones — 5-in. and above — reached its highest level yet in the third quarter, as they accounted for 22% of all smartphones shipped worldwide. That means that 56 million large-screen smartphones, driven mainly by Samsung, shipped in the quarter, said research firm Canalys.

Should NSA influence your business cloud buying decisions? – Our IT security experts debate the impact that NSA surveillance revelations can have on your business.

Quick Tip: Change Microsoft live to a local account in Windows 8.1 – Since the Windows 8.1 update, I have been asked many times how to change a Microsoft live account into a local account without losing data. Here is how you do it.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Flipp app delivers store flyers to your phone or tablet – Now you can browse all your local weekly circulars, focusing on items that have the biggest discounts and clipping those you want to save.

Target Offering $200 iPad Trade-In Deal – Target is running a promotion that will provide those who trade in their old iPad with a gift card worth at least $200. From now until Nov. 9, those who visit a Target Mobility store and trade in their iPad will get “at least $200” to use toward the purchase of a new iPad Air or other Target merchandise.

Anonymous’ ‘Million Mask March’ goes global – The protests were scheduled for 450 cities and towns worldwide — from Tampa, Fla., to Amsterdam to Mumbai. According to the group’s Facebook page, the demonstrations were meant to help people “remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”

Thought you didn’t need to show ID in the UK? Wrong: Your papers please. NOW – Britain may be a country without ID cards, but British officialdom has plenty of reasons for requiring your papers, please – usually a passport or a driving licence – other than for crossing a border or driving a vehicle.

Stream Nation is a private media cloud, with lending privileges – Stream Nation doesn’t care where you got that movie file. As long as you own it now, you can store it, stream it, and even share it with friends like you would a physical copy.

Face scanning cameras installed at 450 UK Tesco petrol stations – No less than 450 Tesco petrol stations around the UK have been fitted with face scanning cameras that enable them to beam tailor-made advertising to you, while you fill up.

Twitter’s news junkies are younger, more educated – Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults, or 8%, say they get some of their news through Twitter, and that has to be a good sign for the social media company that’s days from launching its IPO. Twitter users also are younger, more apt to use mobile devices and more educated. However, more than 30% of Facebook users say they get some of their news from the world’s largest social network.

The 140 Moments That Made Twitter Matter – As Twitter’s multibillion-dollar IPO looms, we surveyed TIME staff to pick 140 essential tweets—and hashtags and @-replies and more—that helped Twitter become a global phenomenon.

Video gaming boosts certain brain regions, study says – Play more video games. Researchers put Super Mario 64 to the test on a small sample of gamers and find it increases gray matter in some areas of the brain.

‘Disarming Corruptor’ disguises 3D printing designs to fight The Man – A new encryption tool promises to help users skirt some of the legal and copyright taboos of 3D printing.

World Cybersecurity Leaders Call for Cooperation – Governments and businesses spend $1 trillion a year for global cybersecurity, but unlike wartime casualties or oil spills, there’s no clear idea what the total losses are because few will admit they’ve been compromised. Cybersecurity leaders from more than 40 countries are gathering at Stanford University this week to consider tackling that information gap by creating a single, trusted entity that would keep track of how much hackers steal.


Microsoft warns of targeted attacks on Windows Vista, Lync, Office, and more – In a rare out-of-schedule security advisory, Microsoft has posted word that it has become aware of targeted attacks on a newly found exploit that affects many of its currently supported software programs. They include Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003 through 2010, and all supported versions of Microsoft Lync. In a blog post today, Microsoft stated the current attacks have been reported mostly in the Middle East and South Asia

A-list celebs, biz barons’ privates EXPOSED in limo hire hack – Personal information, financial records and salacious details about 850,000 celebrities, top executives and other customers were swiped by hackers from a limo-booking software company, it is claimed. Fortune-500 chief execs and A-list celebs are believed to be among those whose credit card details and addresses were dumped in a plain-text archive on the same servers that housed source code and private data slurped from Adobe and PR Newswire by miscreants.

How to check if your Adobe account was hacked – While Adobe’s calm and collected customer “alert” says that only about 2.9 million records were stolen, the actual tally is slightly higher than that. It’s really about 150 million. And no, your password wasn’t stored securely. So how do you know if your email and password were stolen during the hack? Easy. Just type it into the text field on and click the search button. Spoiler alert: if you had an Adobe account, there’s a very, very strong chance your email will be found.

Google finally hides passwords from snoopers in new builds of Chromium – After denying any problem, Google adds option to protect plain text passwords. Chrome still makes passwords viewable in plain text by default, but the latest build of Chromium for Mac—the open source browser from which Chrome draws its code—gives users a new way to protect their passwords.

Spike in traffic with TCP source port zero has some researchers worried – A significant increase this weekend in TCP traffic with source port zero detected could be part of reconnaissance efforts in preparation for more serious attacks, according to security researchers from Cisco Systems.

Senators question security at – U.S. lawmakers questioned the security of, the U.S. government’s troubled insurance-shopping website, after reports that one applicant’s personal information was shared with another applicant. goof up pushes headline a bit premature – appears to have been hacked and the homepage has been defaced with multiple banners and front page stories that are clearly not legitimate.

Company News:

Lavabit Founder Takes To Kickstarter To Open Source A New End-To-End Encryption Messaging Protocol – Ladar Levison, founder of the now shuttered secure email provider Lavabit, has taken to Kickstarter to resurrect the concept of secure email in a new, open source form, called the project Dark Mail initiative. A not-for-profit organisation called the Dark Mail Alliance, with Lavabit and Silent Circle as founder members, has also been set up to steer the project.

The rise of Tizen: A new competitor in the mobile market segment – Tizen, the mobile OS developed by Samsung and the Linux Foundation, appears to be heading towards an initial device offering for consumers.

Sync, BitTorrent’s Server-Less Dropbox Competitor, Hits 1M Active Users, Now Available As An API – BitTorrent is hoping to turn up the volume on that usage: today it’s releasing its first Sync API, which will let developers incorporate the service into their own apps as a way for users to access and share data.

Acer CEO resigns amid plans for restructuring and layoffs – Acer CEO J.T. Wang is resigning from his post at the Taiwanese PC maker and will be replaced by president Jim Wong as part of a corporate restructuring that will try to revitalize the company’s sagging fortunes.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Upcoming Consoles Compared – The next generation of game systems is finally upon us. The Sony PlayStation 4 arrives on November 15, while Microsoft’s Xbox One is coming out November 22. This is what we know about both systems.

Call of Duty: Ghosts launches globally for Xbox 360 and PS3 – Activision has announced the official launch of its video game called Call of Duty: Ghosts around the world. Ghosts promises a new story and new innovations for multiple player gaming using a next-generation game engine promising improved graphics. Ghosts marks the first time in the Call of Duty franchise where players are the underdog against an enemy with superior numbers and firepower.

11 things we learned from Valve’s latest Steam Machine PR push – Recently, Valve invited a few select news outlets to its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to get some hands-on time with the recently announced prototype Steam Machine and the companion controller. While Ars wasn’t among the outlets included, that doesn’t mean we can’t scour the reports for new information about Valve’s upcoming hardware plans. Here are the most important tidbits we’ve discovered.

Three more glorious minutes of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – If you’ve found yourself eagerly soaking up anything you can find about the second installment of The Hobbit that is soon coming to theaters, look no further. Warner Bros has put a new teaser up that paints a pretty clear picture of the grand scale we can expect from the upcoming film.

Anomaly 2 Hits iOS with Awesome Reverse-Tower Defense Action – Tower defense has been done to death, but Anomaly was a breath of fresh air that turned the genre on its head. Now Anomaly 2 has arrived on iOS with very much the same engaging gameplay that puts you in the role of the creeps, trying to avoid being annihilated by the defense towers. To top it off, the fate of humanity is at stake. No pressure, though.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 questions every IT pro should answer before going out on their own – Before you resign from your full-time IT job to start a tech consulting firm, answer these questions to determine how well you’ve thought through this career change.

Spend 20 bucks, build yourself an adjustable standing desk in 20 minutes – You probably know that sitting on your butt all day isn’t good for you, but you might not realize just how bad it is. According to one frightening study, people who spent more than 11 hours per day in a chair were 40 percent more likely to die within the next three years, compared with those who sat for 4 hours.

India’s breakthrough mission to Mars – The country’s first-ever mission to Mars launches into space ready to explore the Red Planet’s surface, atmosphere, and exosphere.

A journey to life’s beginnings: Adam Rutherford’s new book looks at how life began and how it’s being remade – Life, biologists would tell us, is one of the last great mysteries. It is hard to define, even in an “I know it when I see it” fashion, making it tricky to study. Yet, as I sit here at a scientific meeting, I take some comfort that I am not alone in my ignorance. The concluding slide of the last presentation clearly demonstrates that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

Something to think about:

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.”

–      Michael Crichton

Today’s Free Downloads:

Extra Keys 2.1.0 – This small Windows desktop tool enables easy input of letters and symbols that may not appear on your normal keyboard. Type any accented characters for French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Scandinavian languages. Also many other special symbols – this small Windows desktop tool enables easy input of letters and symbols that may not appear on your normal keyboard.

Tweak-7 1.0 Build 1185 – Customize and tweak Windows 7 to fit your needs. From startmenu, to desktop tweaks, from taskbar customization to system tweaks.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Poll: Public Supports NSA Spying On Their Email, Neighbors And Foreign Leaders – Despite a torrent of outrage from the press, world leaders, and the United States Congress, most Americans still approve of the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices. Most importantly, public opinion barely budged a percentage point since the NSA’s global phone and Internet spy network was first revealed. We even polled whether Americans support the near universally condemned practice of spying on European allies. Yep, they support that one, too.

US officials say forget about clemency for Snowden – If it wasn’t already clear that the US government was unhappy with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—and the feds want him extradited, President Obama denounced him—it is now. Today, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers (R-MI), both emphasized there would be no mercy coming from Washington.

Privacy group files OECD complaints over UK telco spying – Privacy International has filed complaints against U.K. telecommunications companies for assisting British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) with mass interception of telephone and Internet traffic that passes through undersea fiber optic cables.

Don’t Compare The Brazilian Spying Case To The NSA’s Mass Surveillance Efforts – Earlier today a Brazilian newspaper broke the story that ABIN, the top intelligence agency in that country, has employed low-tech spying techniques on foreign diplomats. This is sticky for the country as it has been intensely critical of the NSA and its practices of mass surveillance the world around. If the NSA is spying, and ABIN is spying, do we come to a wash, all walking away simply saying that everyone spies, so calm down? Not in the least.

Brazilian government justifies its own spying activities – Russia, Iran and Iraq have been monitored for several months; Justice Minister says the program was “legal”.

Apple Files With U.S. Government For More Information Request Transparency As It Releases First Report – In conjunction with this report, Apple has joined other companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn and Yahoo in filing an Amicus brief requesting more transparency be allowed in disclosing requests in the U.S. Apple has disclosed that it has had 719 total requests worldwide, and between 1,000 and 2,000 in the U.S. Those requests encompassed 769 different accounts worldwide, and between 2,000 and 3,000 in the U.S. Apple complied with 225 total account requests worldwide, and between 0 and 1,000 in the U.S.

EU justice chief: Europe should have its own spy agency to counter NSA snooping – Fight fire with fire, suggests EU vice-president and justice chief Viviane Reding, who in an interview with Greek media floated a European spying agency to counter the NSA.

Antivirus bods grilled: Do YOU turn a blind eye to government spyware? – Analysis Security guru Bruce Schneier has joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 23 other privacy and digital rights activists to call on antivirus firms to publicly state they do not turn a blind eye towards state-sponsored malware. Meanwhile neutral observers of the security software market point out there’s no need for spy agencies to ask for their malware to be whitelisted by vendors because defences aren’t that strong in the first place.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 5, 2013

Fix Windows – piece by piece;  Video chat on TV;  Huge toolbox – Android phone;  Linux – right for you?;  Multiboot Installer;  Three tools stop companies spying;  How to use your tech in public;  10 great games for old PCs;  Cryptolocker adds a $2000 late payment;  Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying;  Speed up a slow PC – no new hardware.

When Windows breaks: How to fix it, piece by piece – Windows is so customizable, it’s tempting to tinker. Don’t like Internet Explorer’s default feel? There are settings for that! Hate the way Windows 8’s Ribbon UI looks? Tweak away! There’s usually no need to hit an irritating fly with that great, big “clean install” sledgehammer! Read this before you burn your installation to the ground and start all over.

A huge toolbox for your Android smartphone – Every once in a while, a tool like this will cross my desk and catch my attention, such as All-In-One Toolbox. This particular application offers 27 different tools for your Android smartphone, and it does so without the usual cumbersome or intrusive style of most other, similar tools. All-In-One Toolbox focuses on system cleaning and optimization, and it does a good job with both.

Don’t be that guy: How to use your tech in public – Technology isn’t responsible for the decline of civility and manners, but it sure hasn’t helped any. If anything, it’s made it easier to be obnoxious in public. With that in mind, we compiled a list of annoying tech habits that you really should get over. Like, yesterday.

10 great games for crummy old PCs – So you have an old, underpowered PC. Even if you have a hand-me-down computer from the Paleolithic Era, you can still enjoy a hearty helping of fun games. Check out this collection that will keep you playing for hours without giving your PC a stress-induced heart attack.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Great ways to video chat on a TV – Don’t get stuck behind a small screen when trying to stay in touch with loved ones. Here’s how you can get Skype and other services on your TV.

How to decide if Linux is right for you – Had it up to here with Windows? Can’t take another “blue screen of death”? Another 10-minute wait for your laptop to boot? Another spyware or virus hassle? Heck, maybe you just think Microsoft got it so far wrong with Windows 8.1, it’s time for a change. In fact, maybe it’s time for Linux. The open-source operating system offers users a Windows-like alternative with a few key advantages.

Three tools to stop companies spying on your web browsing – Want to limit the ability of companies to track what sites you visit online? Check out these tools that shut down common ways used to track browsing habits.

Google Launches Helpouts, Paid Video Chats With Experts To Address Whatever Is Bothering You Right Now – Helpouts, Google’s fusion of Google+ Hangouts, Google Wallet, and its identity tools is now live. A ‘Helpout’ is a Hangout-like video chat, but instead of speaking with a friend, you are connected to a purported expert in whatever it is that you need help with. The tagline that Google has come up with for Helpouts is “real help from real people in real time.”

Google Launches Virtual Field Trips Via New Google+ Connected Classrooms Feature – Field trips generally venture only as far afield as the local heritage village, where you’re likely to catch pilgrim ‘Ezekial’ behind the butter churning hut sneaking a modern-day cigarette. Google wants to offer a more far-reaching experience, with a new Connected Classrooms initiative that lets classes take “virtual field trips” using Google+ Hangouts.

Speed up a slow PC without buying new hardware – If a once-fast computer has slowed to a crawl, you can’t really blame the hardware. Sure, you may be able to improve speed by adding RAM, upgrading the CPU, or replacing the hard drive with an SSD. But none of those solutions–all of which cost money–address the underlying problem. Your hardware isn’t underpowered. It’s overloaded. Cleaning out Windows will very likely speed up a PC. And no, I’m not suggesting reinstalling the operating system. There are less drastic fixes.

Five mostly free mass mailing applications – Reaching large numbers of customers, clients, or members takes special tools. Here are five applications that can facilitate mass mailings.

Top 5 annoying profile photos and how to fix them – These avatars and photos annoy the heck out of everyone else; consider these alternatives if this description sounds like you.

10 reasons you should offer remote support to your clients – For consultants and IT help pros who support multiple clients, the standard model of on-site visits not only can get tiresome, but it can also become expensive and less than efficient. That is why adding remote support to your options can be a real boon to your business. Not only will your clients appreciate the additional options, you will find the convenience brings a bit of sanity back into your work day.

Twitter a news source? Not so much – A new Pew survey shows only 16 percent of US adults use Twitter and only 8 percent use the social network for news. But these users tend to be young, educated, and wealthy.


Just how bad are the top 100 passwords from the Adobe hack? (Hint: think really, really bad) – A new analysis of Adobe user passwords leaked after its hack last month reveals yet again that most people prefer avoid complexity when it comes to passwords.

Cryptolocker malware adds a $2000 late payment option – The Cryptolocker malware has evolved once again. Now its creators are offering a way for victims who decided not to pay up within the initial ransom period to get their files back.

Secunia Country Reports – The Secunia Country Reports tell you how much vulnerable software is present on private PCs in your country, plus a few extra, interesting facts.

Should NSA influence your business cloud buying decisions? – Our IT security experts debate the impact that NSA surveillance revelations can have on your business.

Company News:

IBM Claims Twitter Infringes On At Least 3 Of Its Patents – As Twitter embarks on its initial public offering roadshow, the company has issued another update to its S-1 today with a curveball. IBM has recently issued a letter to Twitter alleging that it infringes on “at least three U.S. patents” held by IBM, “inviting us to negotiate a business resolution of the allegations.”

Microsoft debuts new ‘Honestly’ media campaign – Microsoft has uploaded two new TV commercials, one for Surface 2 and one for Windows 8.1 running on the Lenovo 11S laptop-notebook hybrid, that are based around the word ‘honestly’.

New BlackBerry boss says company will keep its handset division – John S. Chen, the new interim CEO of BlackBerry, said in an interview today that the company will keep its handset division but offered no further details on how he will turn BlackBerry around.

iPass Launches Windows Phone 8 Mobile App for Global Enterprise Wi-Fi Connectivity – Available as a free download from the Windows Store, iPass Open Mobile for Windows Phone 8 provides employees with seamless connectivity to the world’s largest commercial Wi-Fi network of more than 1.4 million hotspots, including in-flight Internet, hotels, airports and business venues around the world.

Microsoft and Apple unleash thermonuclear war on Google and Android – Former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs promised to “destroy Android” because it was “a stolen product” and said that he was “willing to go thermonuclear war” on the platform. This could be that war.

Games and Entertainment:

Nintendo Wii Mini Headed to the U.S. For $99.99 – The scaled-down system will hit store shelves by the middle of November, though Nintendo warned that availability will differ by location. The Wii mini is matte black with a red border and comes with the Mario Kart Wii game, a red Wii Remote Plus controller, and a red Nunchuk controller.

Call of Duty: Ghosts hacked already, aimbots and wall hacks implemented – Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t expected to go on sale until tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped a few copies being sold or leaked early. And it didn’t take long for someone to rip, crack, and upload copies of the game online. What followed was some quick work to implement aimbots, wall hacks, speed increases, and modifications to the scoring system that sees massive XP gains for every kill made.

PS4 gains another launch day game, Xbox One loses one – Sony announced that EA’s racing game Need For Speed Rivals will be a launch title for the PlayStation 4, while PopCap has confirmed that Peggle 2 will not be an Xbox One launch game as first announced.

Google game Ingress gets serious: Beta ends December 14 – Those dedicated enough to the Google game Ingress thus far will find a lovely badge waiting for them once the game leaves Beta mode on the 14th of December. It’s there that players that have reached level 5 will be getting a “Founders” badge while the rest of the world walks in their wake. Google also let it be known this week that the top five “most Elite”.

Valve’s prototype Steam Machine revealed; more announcements at CES 2014 – The first images showing off the prototype Steam Machine that Valve is sending to 300 beta testers have been revealed and Valve will have more Steam Machine announcements at CES 2014 in January.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Virgin America Makes A Safety Video That’s Now A YouTube Hit – Last week, Virgin America launched of all things, a safety video that has become a YouTube hit with now more than 4 million views. It’s a musical that makes buckling a seat beat seem like fun. It celebrates the experience of flying with a focus on the fundamentals of safety that only a company like Virgin can pull off.

Microsoft giving away free IT training – and a job – to soldiers – In a bid to help soldiers transition from the military to civilian life, Microsoft is offering a free IT training for soldiers in the military, plus a job.

Apple’s Tim Cook Is Right, Anti-Gay Policies Hurt The Economy – The elusive CEO of the richest company in the world, Apple’s Tim Cook, has taken a rare step into the spotlight to urge Congress to ban sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. In a Wall Street Journal OpEd, Cook argues that passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act is not only a moral imperative, but sound economic policy.

5 celebrity tech endorsements that flopped – When a tech company hires a celebrity to endorse their product, you would think it should help boost sales.. but sometimes the result is a flop and can actually hurt the brand image.

Gender gap: Why information security needs more women – A new report on infosec spotted significant differences in how men and women prioritize needed skills. Women only represent 11 percent of the Information-Security workforce which is discordant with other professions where women are near parity with men. According to the report. The report did not go into detail as to why the dramatic difference, but did say it was crucial that the status quo change.

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God – The more scientifically literate, intellectually honest and objectively skeptical a person is, the more likely they are to disbelieve in anything supernatural, including god. These films are part of a compilation of some of the best examples of such individuals, and their thoughts on the divine. All the speakers featured are elite academics and professors at top institutions, some of whom are also Nobel Laureates. (suggested by Michael F.)

Something to think about:

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”

–     Patrick Young

Today’s Free Downloads:

RAMDisk 4.3.0 RC1 – RAMDisk is Freeware (up to 4GB disk size). It creates a virtual RAM drive, or block of memory, which your computer treats as if it were a disk drive. By storing files and programs into memory, you can speed up internet load times and disk-to-disk activities, accelerate databases and reduce compile times. Save and load features allow RAMDisk to appear as persistent storage, even through reboots.

YUMI – Your Universal Multiboot Installer is the successor to MultibootISOs. It can be used to create a Multiboot USB Flash Drive containing multiple operating systems, antivirus utilities, disc cloning, diagnostic tools, and more. Contrary to MultiBootISO’s which used grub to boot ISO files directly from USB, YUMI uses syslinux to boot extracted distributions stored on the USB device, and reverts to using grub to Boot Multiple ISO files from USB, if necessary.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google’s Eric Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying – Mr. Schmidt said Google had registered complaints with the NSA, as well as President Barack Obama and members of the U.S. Congress. “The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,” he said. Mr. Schmidt said in the interview that the right balance of security and privacy starts with finding the appropriate level of oversight. “There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them,” he said.

Intel Agency Lawyers Urge Retention of Secret Data – Senior national security lawyers on Monday told an independent oversight board examining U.S. surveillance programs that the government needs to keep its trove of innocent Americans’ telephone records despite growing efforts in Congress to shut down the program. The lawyers also told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board during a hearing that a secret overseas Internet data-gathering program exposed last week was not an attempt to evade scrutiny by a federal intelligence court that supervises such operations.

NSA directorship to go civilian, report asserts – The NSA directorship might revert from a military to a civilian post, The Hill has reported. The Pentagon “has already drawn up a list of possible civilian candidates for the next NSA director,” the report said, although “no formal decision has been made yet.” The NSA directorship would relinquish authority over Cyber Command, and a separate military officer would be appointed to Cyber Command. If the report is correct, the change would represent a planet-shaking change at the NSA, which since 1971 by law has been directed by military officers.

US intelligence officials: NSA reform bill is ‘flawed’ – Government officials say a recent bill to stop the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone records would hurt the agency’s ability to catch terrorists.

NSA chief may lose US Cyber Command role – Separating the two positions could help keep abuses of power in check, as the NSA works to win back the public’s trust.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 4, 2013

Making a tablet your main computer; 6 reasons you still need a desktop PC; Backup Android phone with free Super Backup; History Eraser for Android; Upgrade to Windows 8 for better security; Tablets: platforms are basically equal; Boobs and banner ads; Hacking reportedly NSA’s ‘growth area’; Instagram runs first ad; Skype to end all third-party app activity; What technology does Obama use?

Online Privacy: A Concern For All – Teenagers and twenty year-olds couldn’t care less about online privacy. In fact, it’s a thing of the past. That’s probably what you think when you see the amount of activity on popular social networks like Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter. Actually, younger people do care quite a bit about online security and protection. J.D. Power’s report “Consumer Concerns about Data Privacy Rising: What Can Businesses Do?” reveals that personal privacy is a concern in all countries across all ages.

Let go of that laptop: the ultimate guide to making a tablet your main computer – With the right apps, peripherals, and cloud services, you could leave behind that laptop for good. The “laptop killer” of tablets has yet to emerge, but you can still configure a slate that puts your laptop out to pasture. With the tablet’s lighter weight, longer battery life, and near-instant boot-up, the building blocks of a productivity engine are already there.

Dirty little secret about tablets: The platforms are basically equal – Tablet enthusiasts will argue that their platform of choice is far better than the others, but experience shows that’s not really the case.

Six reasons you still need a desktop PC – Now that you’ve been liberated by the mobile age, you may be ready to consign your clunky desktop PC to the scrap heap. Not so fast. Though it’s certainly past its prime, the desktop PC is far from useless. For some tasks, it’s actually still the superior tool. Here are six compelling reasons to keep the old workhorse around.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Backup nearly everything on your Android phone with Super Backup – Jack Wallen takes a look at Super Backup, a free Android app that allows you to backup SMS, call logs, bookmarks, non-Google calendars, and more.

Skype to end all third-party app activity in December – Skype will no longer support third-party desktop application development beginning in December, the company has announced. This includes all recording, broadcasting, and other kinds of apps, but it also includes third-party hardware such as headphones with on-board call controls. Skype is offering no exceptions to the rule, and its official replacement offerings are slim to none.

MegaCloud’s free cloud storage service reported inaccessible – The website for MegaCloud, a provider of free and paid consumer cloud storage, is inaccessible and users of the service are complaining on social media sites that they have not had access to their data for days.

Kids’ No. 1 holiday wish? The iPhone, says a survey – In a survey that asked which gadget was most desired by kids, the 12- to 17-year-old age group showed its conservatism, opting for the tried-and-true. Though it was girls who wanted iPhones far more than boys.

Online Gambling Arrives in Delaware – Starting Nov. 8, Delaware residents will be able to bet real money on poker, blackjack, roulette, and slots all from the comfort of their computers. The first state will now also be the first to fully embrace Internet gambling. According to Delaware Online, Delaware’s gaming industry hopes the move will bring in a younger, more tech-savvy demographic compared to the typically older casino customers. They’re also trying to get ahead of competitors like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which are both looking to implement similar systems soon.

Google employees publicly gripe about Google via Quora – Taken as a whole, the thread expresses a sentiment that Google is nothing like how it used to be when it was a scrappy young startup. Rather, it’s much more like a stereotypical, corporate-American workplace infested with immaturity, arrogance, and mediocrity, if the thread is to be believed.

Get Ready for an Onslaught of Big Megapixel Smartphone Cameras – Mobile devices with powerful cameras featuring lenses with 10-megapixel resolutions and higher will be “mainstream” in 2014, according to lens module maker Largan Precision.

Must-know privacy tips for Google, Facebook and other online services – Recent headlines about shadowy government agencies, high-profile hack attacks, and your face in Google ads drive home a crucial point: Your online privacy is best protected when you keep an iron grip on the information you’re handing out. If your info is on a server somewhere, it’s not truly yours.

Black Friday Deals Already Upon Us – The online retail giant on Friday kicked things off with the launch of a Black Friday deals store and electronics holiday gift guide. The deals store will offer discounts on thousands of items from the likes of Hasbro, Samsung, Canon, Belkin, and more now through Black Friday weekend.

Considering a new video card? Check your monitor first – GPUs get faster and faster with each generation. Now they are at the point where they no longer give a benefit to certain monitors.


Google Adding Automatic Malware Blocking to Chrome – Google is adding several security updates to its Chrome browser, including automatic malware blocking and the option to reset browser settings. Going forward, Google will also “automatically block downloads of malware that we detect” in Chrome. At this point, the feature is only available in the Canary build version of Chrome – the earlier, test version of the browser that comes before dev, beta, and stable. But it will eventually hit the stable channel.

Government agency compromised by fake Facebook hottie – Emily Williams wasn’t real, but the two hackers who created her from social media profiles got her a government job, a company laptop, VPN credentials – and compromised a government network.

Champion security best practices as a community service – We have a civic duty to the general populace to ensure that security awareness issues are front and centre. It would be insidious of us to sit back and rely on – gulp! – mainstream media to convey factual security information and content. If you’re like many security pros and shun human contact the same way the Kardashians shun integrity, then you’re probably not too keen on getting out in the community. So how can you start?

The Morris Worm: Internet malware turns 25 – 25 years ago much of the Internet – still very small at the time – crashed. The cause was a selfish experiment, turned Frankenstein monster, instigated by a graduate student at Cornell named Robert Morris.

Businesses suffer from a false sense of security, study shows – McAfee says small and midsize businesses are suffering from a false sense of security, based on a recent study that showed a high degree of confidence that their data and devices were safe from attackers, despite industry research and evidence to the contrary.

Finnish Government Hit With ‘Serious’ Data Breach – The Finnish government has confirmed it suffered a “serious data security violation,” which was reportedly carried out over a period of four years and allowed hackers to pilfer unspecified amounts of data.

Micrsoft urges: Upgrade to Windows 8 for better security – Even those who don’t like Windows 8 should consider it for its superior security versus older Microsoft operating systems, if nothing else the company says.

Company News:

T-Mobile says $10 fee for ‘free’ tablet data was a mistake – A check of the Web site had found a requirement to sign up for a monthly plan. Updated: T-Mobile has apologized and called it “an executional mistake.”

Instagram runs first ad: video ads to follow – The ad represents the inaugural insertion of a permanent advertising program for the app. It depicts a high-end watch by fashion designer Michael Kors, in situ with a gold-leafed coffee mug, some colorful comestibles, and a travel-related photo postcard.

Apple’s Tim Cook urges workplace equality – In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Cook exhorts the Senate to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which aims to protect the hiring and employment rights of gay and lesbian Americans.

iGoogle Web portal permanently shut down after eight years of service – The Web portal that let users customize a unique start page for the Web with RSS feeds and widgets has been permanently shut down after eight years of service. Google made no official announcement today, opting to let die-hard iGoogle users mourn on their own terms.

Nokia and Samsung extend patent deal, but for how much? – Nokia has chalked up a five-year extension on a patent licensing agreement with smartphone king Samsung.

Boobs and banner ads: Twitter’s dilemma – Welcome or otherwise, image and video previews in tweets highlight the company’s tension between building a service that people love and pleasing Wall Street.

Games and Entertainment:

Kairosoft Releases Pocket Harvest On Android – The newest game out of Kairosoft might sound a little on the bland side, but let’s be honest–it’s going to gobble up your free time. Pocket Harvest has arrived on Android with all the farming adventure you can handle.

Rockstar promises GTA Online patch 1.05 release early next week – Rockstar has been hard at work solving the issues, which are set to be fixed when v1.05 appears by way of a patch. We expected it early in November, and Rockstar has now confirmed it will arrive “early next week.”

Microsoft: There are several issues in Windows 8.1 with some mice in games – Microsoft stated in a support forum that it is looking into “several different issues” that are currently affecting some mice in games running under Windows 8.1 and offers some workarounds.

Ubisoft responds to gamer outrage, kills Uplay Passport – If you are one of the many gamers that complained to Ubisoft about this, then give yourself a pat on the back, you helped the publisher realize nobody liked or wanted it as part of their gaming experience anymore.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Presidential gadgets: What technology does Obama use? – The most tech-savvy U.S. president to date, Barack Obama uses the best devices and technology for the job, in and outside of the White House. Here’s a look at some of the devices, platforms and technology he uses to carry out his day-to-day presidential duties.

Man implants smartphone-sized computer in arm to become DIY cyborg – Self-professed biohacker Tim Cannon has become the first human being to have a non-medical computer implanted inside his body. The Circadia 1.0 is about the size of a small smartphone and was implanted in Tim’s forearm without the aid of anesthetic or a licensed doctor. The device is designed to gather biometric data and beam it to a mobile device, making Tim Cannon the first DIY cyborg.

Trucker said viewing women on Facebook at time of fatal crash – A fuel tanker driver in Arizona is allegedly so distracted by his cell phone that he loses control of his vehicle. Police have released dashcam video in an attempt to prove their case.

Police chief threatens Facebook pot critic with arrest – The Interim Police Chief of Columbia, S.C., appears not to appreciate those who suggest his department should catch shooters rather than pot users. He replies that he suspects the poster “might be a criminal.” I am not sure of the exact timeline of Santiago’s confirmation as permanent police chief. However, if the department’s Facebook timeline is anything to go by, there might be quite some opposition. All from people who might be criminals, of course.

It’s Not the ”Radical Shaykh” it’s Islam – Fahad Qureshi – When Muslim organizations invite Shaykhs who speak openly about the values of Islam, the Islamophobic western media starts murdering the character of that organization and the invited speaker. The question these Islamophobic journalists need to reflect upon is; are these so called ”radical” views that they criticize endorsed only by these few individuals being invited around the globe, or does the common Muslims believe in them. If the common Muslims believe in these values that means that more or less all Muslims are radical and that Islam is a radical religion. Since this is not the case, as Islam is a peaceful religion and so are the masses of common Muslims, these Shaykhs cannot be radical. (recommended by Michael F.) A serious attempt to twist logic into a pretzel. We have reason to be afraid.

Is technology the cause of car crashes? Or the cure? – The conventional wisdom says smartphones cause deadly car accidents, and Google Glass is already getting banned. But what are the facts?

Microsoft’s archive has some odd stuff – The archive was first started in 1989 and now has collected 65,000 items, ranging from Gates’ Harvard transcripts to the receipt for the carpet that was put in the company’s first Albuquerque office. However, the video concentrates on some of the oddest artifacts in the archive, such as a plastic prop full of skulls with red writing on them to a full size Clippy costume that was worn by an actual person in front of Gates on stage.

Something to think about:

“Three things are certain; birth, death and data loss. You control the last.”

–       Anonymous

Today’s Free Downloads:

History Eraser for Android – It’s a history eraser for android device, and it can clean history of apps by only one tap. It’s similar to the “ccleaner” on PC. It can help you to protect your privacy, and it can also help you to free up the internal storage. No root premission required!

All In One: NirLauncher 1.18.31 – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows. In order to start using NirLauncher, simply extract all files in the package into your flash drive, or any other disk you want. After you extracted the package, simply run the executable file – NirLauncher.exe

KeePass Password Safe 2.24.0 – KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Hacking reportedly NSA’s ‘growth area’ – Drawing on thousands of leaked documents, The New York Times and the UK’s Guardian offer up lengthy looks at the beleaguered surveillance agency.

Whistleblower Snowden may testify against the NSA in Germany – The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden may stand as a witness against the US intelligence service in a German parliamentary investigation into mass surveillance by the agency.

‘Reform bill’ would codify ability of NSA to spy on Americans, critics say – Many privacy rights groups are pointing the what’s left out of the legislation. Rather than prohibiting the NSA from collecting metadata records of phone calls made by U.S. citizens, Feinstein’s bill actually codifies the practice that was exposed in documents leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden, said Alan Butler, appellate advocacy counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Britain’s GCHQ Collaborated With Other EU Nations To Enable Broad Internet Surveillance – It has been known for some time that the United States and British governments, through a number of programs such as the UK’s Tempora effort, directly tap the fiber-optic cables that are the backbone of the Internet, collecting data in massive quantity. That four other countries do the same is, therefore, not surprising, but it is dispiriting. It will be far harder than we initially perhaps hoped to end this sort of mass surveillance. That the GCHQ was willing to provide what is described as “a leading role in advising its European counterparts” in how to get around legal restrictions is simply depressing.

All you need to know about Brazil’s “Internet Constitution” – The first set of internet governance rules in the country is surrounded by controversy and scares big organizations to death.

Berners-Lee urges countries toward open data strategy – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, called on governments around the world to open up their data to the public.

Assange to try again for Senate seat – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make a second bid for a spot in the federal parliament if a fresh Senate election is ordered in Western Australia.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 1, 2013

FAA to Allow Gadget Use;  iPad Alternatives; Print from Your iPad;  More Free Fonts;  Inside Android 4.4 KitKat;  The Mother of All PlayStation 4 FAQs; Rules for trouble-free updates;  Ingress beta open to all;  The whole truth about e-cigarettes;  Is your kid addicted to the iPad;  Senate panel approves continued NSA surveillance.

Tech companies unite against NSA spying – Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other tech companies call upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to reform the US government’s mass surveillance practices.

FAA to Allow Gadget Use During Takeoff, Landing – Your gadgets must be in airplane mode, but going forward, you will be able to continue reading an e-book, playing Angry Birds, or watching a movie as the plane taxis, takes off, starts its initial descent, and arrives at your destination.

Travel happier with TripDeck and Hotel Tonight – Traveling can take a toll on anyone—whether you’re a nervous flyer, a terrible planner, or a n00b at navigating all the various airline deals, there’s a lot to contend with when you want to take a trip. Of course, that old adage “There’s an app for that” certainly applies here as there are scads of apps to help each aspect of a trip. So how do you figure out which ones are most useful to you? Simple, just check out our App Invasion to see what we’re using!

The Top Apple iPad Alternatives – The iPad Air arrives on Friday, but it’s not the only tablet on the block. Check out these alternatives.

How to Print from Your iPad – The iPad is almost a laptop computer. After all, you can write documents in Pages, and draw beautiful pictures in Sketchbook Pro. But when you need to print them out, your options get pretty slim.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to tell if your kid is addicted to the iPad – Psychologists say there are five tell-tale signs. However, many of these signs seem remarkably adult.

Nexus 5 official with 5-inch display and 4G LTE – Today the Google Nexus 5 has been made official, readied for the Google Play store with LG as a manufacturer and a two-tier system in place. This smartphone works with a 4.95-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display (that’s Full HD 1080p) with 445 PPI (pixels per inch). Inside you’ll find Android 4.4 KitKat readied for this phone first, followed by waves of Android devices in the near future.

What’s inside Android 4.4 KitKat and why you should care – A revamped interface, improved dialer, and app search are small steps toward a better Android. Let’s walk through some of the key features of KitKat and what you can expect when you finally get your hands on the new OS (whenever that is, because as we know, Android updates can take a long time to roll out).

Windows 8.1 surprises: 25 hidden features and little extras – Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference, and that’s definitely the case with Windows 8.1. Even after covering the update’s best new features, its five most compelling improvements, and its most intriguing secrets, there’s still plenty to discover. And the operating system doesn’t actively point you to some of the cooler things it has on tap.

Five rules for trouble-free software updates – If you think you’ve been spending more time than usual waiting for your software to update, you may be right. Taking your time is one of my “update rules.” These guidelines will help keep your software updates from causing problems of their own.

Review: f.lux makes your computer usable at night – If you’re reading this late in the day, pause to consider your eyes. Can you feel that familiar sting that comes from looking at a glaring LCD for too many hours? That’s only the most noticeable symptom of what happens to our bodies when we spend hours staring into what’s essentially a big, bright, lamp. F.lux is a simple and free app that helps fix this.

Cookies may disappear, but privacy won’t return – Tech giants are phasing out cookies. But it’s only because they have better tracking tools.

Monotype, Google Partner to Offer More Free Fonts – Christmas has come early for typography nerds: Monotype and Google have teamed up to offer a new free version of the Typecast application, now accessible online via Google Fonts.

How to set up your custom Google+ URL – Because who doesn’t want their very own custom Google+ URL?

Google, Oracle, Red Hat join effort to fix – The extra hands hope to help the government meet a Nov. 30 goal to have the site working smoothly for the large majority of users.


Euro cops: We should be allowed to hack into computers – Don’t call it hacking, a senior cybercrime adviser for the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit said at a security conference — it’s “lawful intrusion.”

Fake social media ID duped security-aware IT guys – Penetration testers used a faked woman’s identity on social networks to break into a government agency with strong cybersecurity defenses.

Windows XP antivirus updates for Microsoft Security Essentials could end April 8 – Microsoft has now said it “will not guarantee” it will continue offering antivirus updates for Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP users after Microsoft cuts support for the OS April 8.

L.A. Creates New Center to Stop Cyber Attacks – The mayor of Los Angeles has announced the creation of a new command center to prevent potential hackers or foreign enemies from disrupting the computer networks behind the city’s public services.

Anonymous gets it hackles up, threatens Singapore’s government – Anonymous has involved itself in a variety of squabbles and issues, the latest of which involving censorship in Singapore. The hacking collective has created a video threatening the People’s Action Party government of Singapore, something following on the heels of an alleged attack on the nation’s infrastructure by one hacker referred to as “the messiah”.

Company News:

Android scored record 81% market share in 2013 Q3 – Strategy Analytics has released its third quarter Android smartphone shipment numbers, and in them we see a new victory for Google’s mobile OS: a record 81-percent global market share, something it has scored in light of BlackBerry and Apple failings.

Apple drops to second place in J.D. Power tablet satisfaction – For the first time, the iPad has fallen off the top of the customer satisfaction charts, beaten out by none other than Samsung. And it’s exactly for the reason you might guess.

Oracle shareholders vote against Ellison’s compensation package – Ellison is paid $1 in salary, receiving the rest of his pay in stock options. In Oracle’s past fiscal year, that totaled $76.9 million. Ellison declined to receive a bonus. Other top Oracle executives such as co-President Mark Hurd also receive a lot of stock options.

Apple, Microsoft-Backed Rockstar Consortium Sues Google, Samsung Over 7 Nortel Patents – The Rockstar consortium is an organization backed by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony. It purchased patents off of the defunct telecommunications company Nortel in 2011, in a bidding war with Google. Now, the consortium has filed suit against Google, ASUSTek, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech and ZTE over those patents.

Report: CBS Developing Streaming News Channel – The project, reportedly codenamed “CBS News Stream, is a collaboration between CBS’s news and interactive teams. Viewers will be able to watch content in a linear, channel-like format or select videos on demand., The “Craigslist of China,” Goes Public On The New York Stock Exchange –, the online classifieds marketplace often referred to as the “Craigslist of China,” will hold its initial public offering of 11 million American Depository Shares (ADS) at $17 each on the New York Stock Exchange today. Other Chinese tech companies that plan to hold U.S. IPOs this year include Qunar, a travel Web site owned by Baidu, which wants to raise up to $155 million when it goes public on NASDAQ this week, as well as sports lottery site and app developer Sungy Mobile, which want to raise $150 million and $80 million, respectively.

Yelp Reviewers Sue for ‘Unpaid Wages’ – Filed in a Los Angeles district court, the suit says Yelp simply designates its contributors as “independent contractors,” “interns,” “volunteers” or “contributors” — not actual employees, therefore violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Games and Entertainment:

‘A World of Keflings’ and ‘Iron Brigade’ are November’s free Xbox Live Gold games – Microsoft has announced that ‘A World of Keflings’ and ‘Iron Brigade’ will be November’s free games for Xbox 360 owners with Xbox Live Gold membership, as part of the Games for Gold program.

Ingress beta open to all: Google’s game sticks with Android – This week the folks at Google and Niantic have released their cages from the “closed beta” edition of Ingress to allow this augmented reality game to all. The game remains in “beta” mode, though we’re essentially seeing the entirety of this environment’s gameplay live right this minute. This game will be available to iOS users in the future, but for the time being – it’s all about Android.

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will ship 10 million units by March tips EA – EA is predicting some very healthy sales for the next generation consoles including the PlayStation 4 from Sony and the Xbox One for Microsoft. EA recently held its earnings call and company CEO Andrew Wilson was deluged with questions about the coming launch of the next generation game consoles from both Microsoft and Sony. EA expects big things and significant sales numbers for both consoles.

Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 run natively at 720p on Xbox One – At least two major Xbox One launch games, Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4, will have a native resolution of 720p while their PlayStation 4 counterparts will run natively at higher resolutions.

Why I’m not too worked up about the next-gen console resolution wars After examining all the available evidence, it seems clear that the PlayStation 4 versions of launch games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts enjoy a slight graphical advantage over their Xbox One cousins. It also seems equally clear, to me, that the difference just isn’t that big a deal—unless you plan on playing games while looking through a magnifying glass.

Sony Just Unveiled the Mother of All PlayStation 4 FAQs – You know all those pre-launch hardware FAQs the game blogs like to run before new consoles arrive? Yeah, forget about them, because Sony just rolled one out that’ll take you the better part of an afternoon to comb through.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel – Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress.

You’re not hearing the whole truth about e-cigarettes – Sure, movie stars use them and they don’t make your clothes smell, but a lot of information–good, bad, and ugly–is missing from the e-cigarette story that advertisements tell.

Wristify: A personal Peltier wrist cooler that could save the US millions in energy costs – Called the Wristify, the device is essentially a copper alloy heatsink that uses thermoelectric cooling to reduce the skin temperature of your wrist. Thermoelectric cooling is governed by the Peltier effect, which describes heating or cooling caused by electric current flowing across a junction of two different conductors.

10 nightmarish ways to end up phoneless – Earlier this year, we published an infographic by Protect Your Bubble that broke down smartphone incidents by gender and age group. Now, in the spirit of Halloween and all things spooky, we thought we’d take a look at some of the uncommon but true horror stories of smartphone damage, loss, or theft from real Protect Your Bubble claims. Here are 10 of the most nightmarish ways that users have ended up phoneless.

Humanity’s infinitesimally tiny influence on the universe, or why we haven’t met any aliens yet – I often find that the only way to truly fathom just how vast the universe is, or to successfully communicate the insane enormity of it to other people, is to illustrate just how small humanity is. After all, everything we ever do, say, or experience is measured against the yardstick of human endeavor. It’s great to say that the universe is 14 billion years old, or that Voyager 1 is now flying towards one of the nearest habitable planets, but it’s only when we put things in human terms do we truly appreciate the scale of the universe.

Something to think about:

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

RetroShare 0.5.5b – RetroShare is a Open Source cross-platform, private and secure decentralised communication platform. It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication.

Directory Monitor – You can use Directory Monitor for the surveillance of certain directories and it will notify you of file changes, deletions, modifications, and new files in real-time. You can optionally execute an application when a change occurs.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feinstein debuts NSA “reform” bill that’s really about the status quo – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been one of the most stalwart defenders of widespread NSA surveillance since leaks with information about the programs started seeping out nearly five months ago. Civil libertarians and reformers have been none too pleased with her rhetoric—and they’re not going to get any happier after reading the bill she introduced today. The FISA Improvements Act has already attracted plenty of critics who view it as no improvement at all. In fact, they say, Feinstein’s bill would make things much worse.

Calls To Limit Speech In The Snowden Era Underscore The Importance Of A Free Press – The Snowden leaks have done more than uncover a secret world of surveillance. They are starting to drive change at the congressional level. Following revelations that the NSA taps the fiber-optic cables of the Internet, tracks the metadata of all phone calls placed in the United States, and forces technology companies to hand over user data, we’ve entered into a new era of transparency. There are forces arrayed against this trend, however. The parts of the government that wish to remain hidden are not enjoying their time in the spotlight.

NSA hid spy equipment at embassies, consulates – Foreign embassies and consulates belonging to the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia have been used to collect signals intelligence, with the spy installations often hidden within the buildings.

How the NSA’s MUSCULAR tapped Google’s and Yahoo’s private networks – The NSA already has access to selected content on Google and Yahoo through its PRISM program. But much of that raw traffic is encrypted, and the PRISM requests are relatively limited in scope. So the NSA went looking for a way to get the same sort of access to encrypted traffic to cloud providers that it had with unencrypted raw Internet traffic. The solution that the NSA and the GCHQ devised was to tap into the networks of the providers themselves as they crossed international borders.

Senate panel approves bill to continue NSA surveillance – The proposed bill would allow the NSA to continue collecting millions of U.S. telephone records, despite an outcry that the program violates the U.S. Constitution.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 31, 2013

Five free apps for encrypting email;   How to hide Twitter preview images;  What tech frightens us most;  Home Wi-Fi routing done right;  America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide;  13 flicks for your All Hallows horror binge;  The 10 Best PlayStation 3 Games;  Target – buy 2 get 1 free PS4 games;  NSA – cite 9/11 to justify spying program.

Journalist Invited Hackers To Hack Him. Learn From The Mistakes – Adam Penenberg of PandoDaily decided to find out how easy it would be to hack him by inviting professional penetration testers — who usually take aim at banks, hospitals, and companies — to take their best shot at breaking into his life. You might be reassured by reading the long piece. The hacking, while eventually successful, was actually pretty difficult.

Facebook may start logging your cursor movements – Facebook is considering collecting yet more data from users in the form of tracked mouse movements, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. Your scrolls, your hovers, your highlights, your right clicks: Facebook wants them all.

Microsoft won’t turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs – A Microsoft executive misspoke when she said that Windows would turn on the built-in Windows Defender technology for users who had let their antimalware subscriptions lapse.

What tech frightens us most – In their latest October 2013 survey released just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, IT recruiting firm Modis surveyed 1000 Americans to find out what potential tech disasters are keeping them up at night.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter’s New Photo Previews Prompt Outrage – For some, photos directly in the news stream is basically a crime against humanity.

How to hide Twitter preview images with AdBlock – Twitter surprised users by forcing an update that automatically shows photos and videos in timelines, and for some users this is a serious problem. Here’s how to hide those images with AdBlock.

Five free apps for encrypting email – Whether you are using an email client or a web-based email solution, you can encrypt your email. I have searched for some of the easier (and free) means to successfully get those outgoing emails wrapped in a warm blanket of secrecy. With the exception of one, these tools serve a singular purpose – to encrypt email messages.

Has Microsoft just PROVED why you should upgrade from XP? – Microsoft just published its January-to-June 2013 Security Intelligence Report. The results seem to PROVE that you should get rid of Windows XP as soon as you can. Paul Ducklin checks the strength of the “proof”.

Skydog hands on: Home Wi-Fi routing done right – The best home networking solution for parental control of technology is also the best home Wi-Fi router, period. Skydog does well what other Wi-Fi routers usually do poorly.

Facebook Algorithm Predicts if Your Relationship Is Doomed – We’ve all had those moments of Facebook-induced desperation — skulking around an ex’s profile to see if they’ve ended their rebound relationship, or are gleefully posing with their new sweetheart in Cabo. But it appears the social network knows more about your love life than just who you’re stalking.

How I switched from Gmail to (and how you can too) – So long, Gmail, it was nice knowing you. After nearly a decade, I’ve finally moved my personal email away from Google’s service. If you’re considering doing the same, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set things up the right way.

6 Surprising Ghost-Hunting Gadgets – We investigate the technology paranormal detectives use to find ghosts, most of which are repurposed gadgets with day jobs.

Kill hours dead with 8 horribly adorable, totally free Halloween games – In honor of the most haunted holiday, I’ve been spending the witching hour playing some of the best Halloween-themed mobile games out there, and while they’re more adorable than horrible, they’re also a lot of fun.

Now screaming: 13 flicks for your All Hallows horror binge – We’ve cut through the stupid to find the gold. Here we present the best scary movies available for streaming this Halloween! They’ll help your brain stay in Halloween mode until Thanksgiving season finally rolls around and spoils all the fun!

Move past being too scared to share – Some people fear online document collaboration. Here’s how to help people move past their fear of using shared Google documents.

Some Windows 8.1 updates tripping over driver problems – Users say they’re getting an error message when they try to update to Windows 8.1; Microsoft says it’s looking into the matter.

Pissed-off Dell laptop owners seek answer to cat-pee odors – Months of complaints about the smell of cat pee emanating from new Dell 6430u laptops cap off with an official response to the stinky problem.


New Injection Campaign Peddling Rogue Software Downloads – A mass injection campaign has surfaced over the last two weeks that’s already compromised at least 40,000 web pages worldwide and is tricking victims into downloading rogue, unwanted software to their computer. The campaign, dubbed GWload by researchers at Websense, relies on a Cost Per Action scam that convinces users into thinking the page they’ve navigated to has been locked and that they need a special version of VLC Player to open it.

Save your Internet bacon with two-factor authentication – Why log in once when you can log in twice? Two-factor authentication can give you some added protection, and it’s fairly easy to set up.

Adobe breach THIRTEEN times worse than thought, 38 million users affected – Adobe originally estimated that the breach affected around 2.9 million users. As it turns out the number is actually 38 million, with the information taken including Adobe IDs, encrypted passwords, customer names, encrypted debit and credit card numbers, expiry dates and customer order details.

Mozilla patches *several critical Firefox security holes – Mozilla released *10 patches for three versions of its Firefox browser on Tuesday, five of which are considered critical and could be used to remotely install malicious code.

2 years in federal prison for trash-searching student aid fraudster – A Florida man will go to prison for defrauding student aid accounts, while his two fellow-conspirators have been given probation and community sentences. The group’s techniques should serve as a reminder that it’s not just the information stored on our computers that we need to keep secure.

Google, the NSA, and the need for locking down datacenter traffic – With the NSA seemingly listening in the need for datacenter to datacenter encryption has never been greater.

Company News:

Facebook Admits Some Decrease Of Usage Amongst Young Teens For The First Time – Facebook may be feeling the pinch from teen-focused, mobile-first social networks like Snapchat, as CFO David Ebersman said on today’s earnings call that Facebook “did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens,” though he prefaced that saying “usage of Facebook among US teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3.” This is the first time Facebook has reported real trouble with teens.

Infosys ran ‘unlawful’ visa scheme, U.S. alleges in settlement – The U.S. alleges that offshore outsourcing giant Infosys violated visa laws to increase its profits, reduce visa expenses and avoid tax liabilities, in a settlement announced today.

Twitter facing $124 million lawsuit alleging fraud – In a private stock sale gone awry, the social network is accused of misleading two firms to boost its value prior to going public.

Facebook Q3 by the numbers: 874M monthly mobile users – The social network’s mobile user numbers are up 45 percent in the third quarter, and it shows in the company’s mobile advertising dollars.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Best PlayStation 3 Games – The PlayStation 3 launched to a collective gamer response of “meh,” but Sony’s third home video game console is one gamers should have in their living rooms. Here are 10 reasons why.

Titanfall will never hit the PlayStation 4, but Titanfall 2 may – Titanfall has created a huge buzz in the gaming industry and is said to be one of the most impressive video games in years. The game has been announced as coming to the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC gamers. We knew the title was an Xbox exclusive video game, but new information has surfaced about just how exclusive the game is.

EA, Tiger Woods End Gaming Partnership – Since 1998, golf superstar Tiger Woods has been the face of Electronic Arts’s PGA Tour video game series. However, this year’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 will be the last title to feature Woods as he and EA have ended their partnership.

10 years after Steam’s official launch it now has over 65 million accounts – Today, just over 10 years after the launch of the first public version of Steam, Valve has announced, via an email press release, that the service now has over 3,000 games in its library and over 65 million accounts, which Valve says is 30 percent higher than a year ago. Microsoft’s own Xbox Live service has 48 million members, according to the Xbox website.

Classic Double Dragon Games Coming to iOS and Android Later This Year – Originally an arcade machine, Double Dragon became incredibly popular and was ported to a variety of home game consoles including the NES, Sega Genesis, and GameBoy. Two sequels followed the original, all of which used the same side-scrolling action format. Now all three games will be coming to iOS and Android devices later this year courtesy of DotEmu.

Target set to offer buy 2 get 1 free on PS4 launch games – You can select any three PS4 launch games and you’ll only pay for two of them. As all the games look set to be $59.99, you’ll only pay $119.98 instead of $179.97. The deal does not insist you purchase a PS4 as well, but if you do, that’s a PS4 and 3 games for $519.97. The only restriction on the games deal is that it’s limited to one set of three games per customer.

Off Topic (Sort of):

America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide to the United States of Attitude – West Virginia is the most neurotic state, Utah is the most agreeable and the folks of Wisconsin are the country’s most extroverted, a new study says. Take TIME’s test to find out which state most suits you.

Here are all of Google’s Halloween Easter eggs – Google’s engineers have added a little Halloween mischief into the search graph.

10 spooky items from America’s past – American history, from war to politics, is filled with frightening moments. As Halloween approaches, the National Museum of American History is digging into the archives and unearthing a few of its favorite creepy finds from a collection of more than 3 million museum artifacts.

Woman gets ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving – The ticket, handed out by a California cop, faults the woman for “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).”

Man tries to rip chained iPad from pizza joint counter, fails – In a video that is as educational as it is amusing, a man cases an Illinois pizza joint, smashes the glass, but the iPad simply won’t budge.

8 cool heat maps that can help you visualize big data – Big or small, data can be difficult to visualize. These examples use heat maps to put massive data sets into a context that’s easy to understand.

Something to think about:

Assuming that critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do, a critical thinker:

1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives

2. Tries to be well-informed

3. Judges well the credibility of sources

4. Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions

5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence

6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position

7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions

8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well

9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context

10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution

11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do

Robert H. Ennis

Today’s Free Downloads:

PaperScan Free – Powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

Process Hacker Portable 2.32 – Process Hacker is an application which helps users to view and manage the processes and their threads, modules and memory from their computers.

Greenshot 1.1.6 – Quickly create screenshots of a selected region, window or full screen; you can even capture complete (scrolling) web pages from Internet Explorer. Easily annotate, highlight or obfuscate parts of the screenshot. Export the screenshot in various ways: save to file, send to printer, copy to clipboard, attach to e-mail, send Office programs or upload to photo sites like Flickr or Picasa, and others.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New docs show NSA taps Google, Yahoo data center links – US intelligence access to the mounds of data held by Google and Yahoo goes far beyond the court-approved PRISM program, which was described in some of the first National Security Agency (NSA) leaks to come out this summer. Top secret documents published today by The Washington Post reveal that the NSA has tapped into overseas links that Google and Yahoo use to communicate between their data centers.

Six steps Silicon Valley can take to protect users from NSA spying – The EFF’s Kurt Opsahl lays out measures Internet companies can implement to protect their users’ privacy from government surveillance.

Silent Circle and Lavabit launch “DarkMail Alliance” to thwart e-mail spying – At Wednesday’s Inbox Love conference held at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, the founders of Lavabit and Silent Circle announced that they want to change the world of e-mail completely by putting privacy and security at its core.

AT&T hit with European backlash due to NSA activities – The NSA has received a lot of backlash for its various spying activities, but it isn’t the only entity that is paying for its activities. AT&T, which has long been interested in buying a wireless company in Europe, has received substantial resistance, with it being made known that any purchase that takes place will “face intense scrutiny.”

NSA said to intentionally cite 9/11 to justify spying program – Newly released government documents spell out how officials should answer questions about the NSA’s mass surveillance program; examples include “defend the nation” and prevent “another 9/11.”

NSA says nope to spying on pope – The agency says in a statement that a report in an Italian magazine that it “has targeted” the Vatican is false.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 30, 2013

Advanced SystemCare 7 Free;  1 in 4 Young Adults Hacked;  10 must-have business apps for Android tablets;  The case against Gmail;  Trick your friends – Halloween PC pranks;  PayPal two-factor authentication;  Playtime Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy;  BitTorrent isoHunt is back;  U.K. ISPs block 21 pirate sites;  WayBack Machine for software; Top-Rated Media Boxes.

1 in 4 Young Adults Experience Hacked Accounts – New research by Marble Security indicates that more than 1 in 4 U.S. young adults born between 1980-2000 have had online accounts hacked. The national average — regardless of age — is closer to 1 in 5 at 21%. The survey results contradict the assumption that Millennials are more tech-savvy and less likely to fall victim to tactics used by hackers, such as social engineering or phishing tactics. Not true. 26% of respondents ages 25-34 reported hacked online accounts.

10 must-have business apps for Android tablets – As a platform, Android has been business-ready for quite some time. However, it’s often difficult to find the right app to do the job. Considering how many apps are available in the Google Play Store, digging out the business-gems can be a long, involved process. With that in mind, I’ve developed a list of what I believe to be the must-have business-centric apps for your Android device.

Keep your PayPal account safer with two-factor authentication – If you use PayPal and don’t take your account security seriously, you are asking for all sorts of trouble, what with all the financial information your account holds. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection between your account and would-be data thieves by requiring you to enter a single-use security code—typically sent to your phone via text message—in addition to your username and password when you log in.

Free Knoala App Offers Crowdsourced Playtime Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy – Designed for parents of kids aged 0 to 5, the iPhone app is a giant repository of fun, quick activities to boost critical skills in developing minds. Stuck in the grocery store checkout line? Knoala lets you turn that downtime into learning time with its video section. There, you’ll find age-appropriate YouTube clips from Sesame Street, the Muppets and more. Need a new tall tale for bedtime, instead? Knoala also has a Story Starter section that provides you with an idea for a fun absurd story.

Ed Bott’s case against Gmail – Gmail was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. But this onetime alternative is showing signs that it’s past its prime, especially if you want to use the service with a third-party client. That’s the way Google wants it, which is why I’ve given up on Gmail after almost a decade.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Flyne is a Slick New Feed Reader and News Aggregator for Android – There is yet another way to read your feeds and social links on Android, and it comes from a noted developer. Flyne is an offline reader that syncs the full text of articles from multiple sources like Feedly and Twitter. This is the newest project from Falcon Pro developer Joaquim Verges, and it looks to be off to a very good start.

Trick your friends with these Halloween PC pranks – We’ve handpicked our favorite PC pranks to share with you, dear reader, in hopes of sowing some mischief in offices and homes around the world. Each of these tricks is easy to set up: All you need is a wireless keyboard or mouse, and clandestine access to your target’s PC for a few minutes.

Google+ wants you and your photos to never, ever leave – Google+ has struggled to persuade the Internet that it’s more than Facebook Lite, so Google’s social network is taking a new approach: repositioning itself as a hub for photographers.

U.K. ISPs ordered to block 21 pirate sites, including top torrent destinations – The BPI, the trade association which represents the interests of the music business in the United Kingdom, has obtained a court order instructing internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.K. to block access to 21 such websites with immediate effect. The list includes some of the most popular torrent sites, including Monova, Torrentz and BitSnoop.

Not even two weeks after shutdown, BitTorrent search site isoHunt is back – Less than two weeks ago, IsoHunt, the notorious search engine site for BitTorrent files, agreed to shut down and pay $110 million in a settlement with the Motion Pictures of America Association. The site even shut down a day early as a way to avoid being part of an online archive. But now, the next generation of the site (available at and is already back. Whois information on both domains turns up no contact information. However, online records show that the new site is hosted in Australia.

New Windows 8.1 requirements strand some users on Windows 8 – A subtle tweak in Windows 8.1 hardware requirements is leaving some users behind on Windows 8. Even worse, affected users will be cut off from critical updates in 2015.

Historical Software Archive: It’s WayBack Machine for software – Internet Archive, the website that brought us WayBack Machine, is making it that little bit easier for us to recapture our productivity and gaming youth by releasing the Historical Software Collection. And what’s even better is, it’s all free.

Firefox 25 update brings Web Audio and more – Mozilla has rolled out Firefox 25, something that brings with it a variety of new happenings, the most touted of which is Web Audio. Mozilla goes into extensive detail about this, as well as a sound demo called Songs of Diridum as a special demo of LOD: Legend of Diridum, an upcoming game. For those who aren’t terribly enthused with Web Audio changes, you might be happy to know that Firefox no longer clears browser sessions when reset.

10 tech products that belong to the walking dead – Deathless, slow moving, yet relentless, the walking dead are among us in the form of scary, disintegrating tech bits that refuse to die. Here are 10 that need the double-tap.

Readers’ Choice: Top-Rated Media Boxes – From PlayStation to Roku, PCMag readers rate the entertainment devices that connect to their HDTV.

How to resolve website response and performance issues – If your websites are experiencing response and performance problems, follow these steps to try to resolve the issues and make users smile.

BBM app to add video and voice calling features “within months” and remain free – If you are one of those people that were overjoyed when BlackBerry Messaging finally came to Android and iPhone after a month delay caused mainly by an accidental early release to the Play store, and issues with the Android version, then you might be excited to learn that video and voice calling are features that will be added “within months”.

ConnecTV second-screen TV companion app adds 6-second clip-and-share functionality – ConnecTV, the second-screen app that syncs to whatever you’re watching on TV for an information-rich, social sharing experience, is today rolling out a new feature that lets you select 6-second clips and share them via Twitter, Facebook, and email.


Microsoft: Windows XP malware infection rate nearly six times higher than Windows 8 – Microsoft really wants Windows XP owners to realize that there is a serious threat in the continued use of the 12 year old OS which will see its support end on April 8th. In the company’s latest version of its Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, it goes over some new statistics that show Windows XP is still a big target for malware.

Microsoft may turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs – Microsoft may eventually automatically turn on Windows Defender for PCs that are left— deliberately or not—in an unprotected state, executives said Monday afternoon. Microsoft executives said, consumers who try out a firewall or antimalware package aren’t aware of when the trial period expires, so that the PC slips from a protected to an unprotected state. (Whoa – interfere with any of my machines in any way, and we’ll see how that goes Microsoft. Hint – get your checkbook out.)

Some 10,000 titles in Apple’s App Store may be susceptible to redirection hack – A large number of apps for iPhones and iPads are susceptible to hacks that cause them to surreptitiously send and receive data to and from malicious servers instead of the legitimate ones they were designed to connect to, security researchers said on Tuesday.

Adobe breach affected 150 million accounts – 38 million users were directly affected and have already been contacted by Adobe to change their passwords. That figure is above and beyond the 2.9 million accounts whose encrypted credit card information was stolen. The breach, it is now known, also included stolen source code for more of Adobe’s programs than previously believed.

MongoHQ scrambles to address major database hack – After users’ hashed passwords, e-mail addresses, and other information is exposed in a security breach, the cloud-based hosting service neutralizes the attack and works to prevent future incidents.

Company News:

Dell goes private officially – This was expected for some time, and today Dell’s Founder, Chairman, and CEO – as well as Silver Lake Partners – joined together to complete their go-private transaction for real. Terms of this agreement were also shared this morning in brief.

Intel to start manufacturing ARM chips for rivals – Intel will soon start manufacturing ARM chips by lending out its foundries to some of its rivals. It’s a huge strategic move that in the long run may benefit both Intel and consumers.

Voxbone Helps Wengo with International Expansion – Voxbone today announced that Wengo, provider of telephone expert advice, has selected Voxbone’s inbound service numbers to quickly expand its services internationally while cutting costs by consolidating existing service with Voxbone.

BlackBerry met with Facebook over possible bid for the company – As rumours swirl that its $4.7bn deal to sell to Fairfax may collapse, BlackBerry executives reportedly met with Facebook last week to discuss the possibility of it bidding for the struggling company.

Are You a Human Broadly Launches PlayThru Game-Based Verification Service for Brands – Are You a Human has broadly launched PlayThru a verification ad unit that allows marketers to deliver a brand message while users play a quick game to prove they are, well, human. PlayThru can replace CAPTCHA, a series of distorted characters traditionally used by websites providing a much better user experience, and in the process creating a new interactive branding platform.

New report shows Twitter social revenue up 300 percent – Twitter has significantly increased its Revenue Per Visitor (RPV) beating Facebook and Pinterest according to a new report out today.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V sells nearly 29 million copies in first six weeks – Rockstar Games’ parent company Take Two Interactive announced today Grand Theft Auto V has now sold nearly 29 million copies in its first six weeks, well ahead of the lifetime console sales of GTA IV.

Halo: Spartan Assault coming to Xbox One, 360 in December – The exact date wasn’t announced, but you can bet it’ll show up in time for the holidays. Currently the game is available only on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 machines, as it has been since its Jul. 18, 2013 release. The Xbox versions, which will be available as a digital download, come with some exclusive features.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘The Zuckerberg Files’ Catalogues Facebook Founder’s Public Life – The collection spans almost a decade of Zuckerberg appearances, from his first interview on CNBC in 2004 to a speech he gave last February on “What Schools Don’t Teach.” The researchers believe that analyzing Zuckerberg’s thoughts can help us observe the influence of Facebook, as well as the dominance of social media in general, on our own contemporary lives.

Happy birthday, Internet! Here are your lamest lifetime moments – On the occasion of its 44th birthday, the Internet is still young, still having growing pains, and still capable of all manner of foibles and folly. Here are our favorite dummheits from the Internet’s history so far.

10 hard-earned lessons from a lifetime in IT – Much of today’s talk is about youth ruling development and IT. Sure, there are a lot of eager, bright young people in tech, and most of them like to think that they “rule,” but the truth is we oldsters still run the show. Why? Because hard-earned lessons provide the wisdom to distinguish fantasy from reality, and the determination to do what’s necessary, not just what’s fun or cool.

Researchers build family tree with 13 million people – Geneticists mine a social network for useful data showing relationships going back centuries, and one of the world’s largest family trees.

FiberFix resin tape is 100 times stronger than duct tape – A new product aims to supplant duct tape as the ultimate fixer of broken things. FiberFix is a resin-based adhesive material that is reportedly 100 times stronger than duct tape after it has had time to cure. Simply get a strip of FiberFix wet, wrap it around the thing you want patched, and it hardens in about 10 minutes.

Steve Jobs’ Los Altos home designated historic resource – The label was applied last night following a unanimous vote by the Los Altos Historical Commission, which has officially dubbed the home a historic resource. For those unaware, this is the home where Jobs co-founded Apple and constructed some of his first computer systems.

Norwegian man’s forgotten $27 investment in Bitcoin now worth $886,000 – A Norwegian man bought $27 worth of Bitcoins back in 2009 and promptly forgot all about them. As the cryptocurrency became more popular, he was reminded of his minuscule electronic nest egg. After inspecting the contents of his Bitcoin wallet, Kristoffer Koch realized his initial $27 investment was now worth an incredible $886,000.

Something to think about:

Just put up a walls around the entire United States. Put up an electronic wall. Put up a perimeter fence. Forbid travel to or from the America and make it illegal to trade with America or its companies. Completely isolate this country inside a vacuum, make it the world’s first ‘no-go’ zone for 100 years. That way, Americans will be safe from the outside world and the outside world will be safe from America!”

–     Anonymous Canadian

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 7 Free – Slow down, freeze, crash and security threats are over. Advanced SystemCare Free is a comprehensive PC care utility that takes an one-click approach to help protect, repair and optimize your computer. Advanced SystemCare is a very useful system tweak application. Scanning and finding what other utilities miss, it can keep your PC error-free and smooth than ever. This fantastic program is available free of charge.

McAfee Stinger – Stinger is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system. Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Intelligence chief Clapper cites ‘Casablanca’ in dismissing Merkel mess – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper refers to a famous scene from the classic film in downplaying the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.

‘We’re Really Screwed Now,’ Says NSA Official After Surveillance Hawks Switch Sides – The National Security Agency is having a very bad day: two of the most ardent surveillance hawks have officially turned against the spying agency. California Senator Dianne Feinstein broke ranks and came out against the NSA spying on foreign leaders. Even worse, the author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, dropped a co-authored bill to end bulk collection of Internet and telephone data.

Data privacy concerns could derail EU-US trade talks – Europe’s Justice Commissioner warned Tuesday that data privacy concerns could derail a major trade deal between the U.S. and the E.U. “The U.S. will have to take European concerns about privacy and data protection very seriously … otherwise, the European Parliament may decide to reject the TTIP,” Commissioner Viviane Reding said at a conference in Washington. TTIP—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—is being negotiated in secret between the E.U. and U.S. It has provoked concerns in Europe that it could weaken citizens’ privacy rights.

Proposed USA FREEDOM Act Would Dramatically Curtail The NSA’s Surveillance – Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner have introduced a new bill, called the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act (USA FREEDOM Act), designed to dramatically curtail the ability of the NSA to collect information on the average United States citizen.

White House approved spying on allies, officials reportedly claim – Some current and former U.S. intelligence officials say that the administration was not only aware of but OK’d the snooping, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dozens in Congress now ready to end bulk data program – It’s almost set up like a joke: how do we fix the Patriot Act? With the USA FREEDOM Act. Now, the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act” (or USA FREEDOM Act) has been introduced. With 70 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and a dozen in the Senate, it might actually have a chance of passage.

Top U.S. spies defend surveillance of foreign leaders – Intelligence agencies in other countries do the same thing, U.S. national intelligence director Clapper tell lawmakers.

Man sues DHS, NSA for the right to parody them on mugs, T-shirts – “The agencies’ attempts to forbid McCall from displaying and selling his merchandise are inconsistent with the First Amendment,” said Paul Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case, in a statement. “It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance; forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale.” Public Citizen is representing McCall in his suit against those government agencies, and it is asking a federal court to declare that these federal laws are unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News