Tag Archives: Android

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 7, 2014

Microsoft’s next surprise is free Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android;  British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists;  Wiper app now lets you make free encrypted calls;  10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50;  50 resources for using an iPad, Android tablet in class;  This Easy iPhone Trick Will Save You Tons of Photo Space;  A Gentleman’s Guide to Not Being a Total Slob;  Home Depot Hackers Also Snagged 53 Million Customer Email Addresses;  These 3 Smartphone Apps Tell You When to Have Sex;  Microsoft warns of super-sized Patch Tuesday next week;  Australians at risk of IS cyber attacks;  Windows 10 will have four patches released on Tuesday;  Apple blocks WireLurker iPhone malware apps;  Showtime to join HBO, will stream content in 2015;  Where Did Soul-Sucking Office-Speak Come From? 11 deliciously old-school PC games that ooze retro appeal;  USB Image Tool (free).

Google and Mozilla told to limit browser’s ability to watch users – Researchers warn that web sites and apps communicating via WebRTC may have broader access to computer microphones and cameras than users realise.

Microsoft’s next surprise is free Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android – Microsoft’s Office suite for iPad, iPhone, and Android is now free. In a surprise move, the software giant is shaking up its mobile Office strategy to keep consumers hooked to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Starting today, you’ll no longer need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents or store them in the cloud. The move comes just days after Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox to integrate the cloud storage service into Office across desktop, mobile, and the web. You can now download Office for iPad and store all your documents on Dropbox without paying Microsoft anything at all. Microsoft is also releasing a brand new iPhone app today, alongside a preview of Office for Android tablets, all with Dropbox integration.

Wiper app now lets you make free encrypted calls – Secure messaging is a big deal to many, with ephemeral services like Snapchat a popular choice. Still, that service has been violated many times, leading some to search for a new path forward. The last time we talked about Wiper, the service was new, and pretty amazing. For a messaging platform, the encrypted app-to-app pipeline and ability to clear the chat on both ends is special. The company has recently released version 2.0 of their app, bringing the encrypted platform full circle.

Battery-Draining Bug Delays Android Lollipop Rollout – Battery-draining bugs have reportedly delayed the full rollout of Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop. The next-gen operating system launched on Monday with the Nexus 9 tablet, and was expected to hit the Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play Edition devices shortly thereafter. But thus far, Nexus owners are still waiting. Some reports are pointing the finger at a problem with the beta version of Lollipop on Nexus 5 that caused a severe battery-drain issue.

Odysee Automatically Saves Your Mobile Photos And Videos To Your Home PC – A new application launching today called Odysee offers a different way for consumers to back up photos and videos from their smartphones. Instead of backing up to the cloud, which can be both pricey and sometimes even insecure, with Odysee, content is backed up to your home computer. For free! Well, it’s free until next year when the $5/year pricing plan kicks in.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

50 resources for using an iPad, Android tablet in class – Summary: Seeking tips for using mobile devices in class? Check out these articles, how-to guides and tutorials.

10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50 – You’re not a fancy pants! And that’s okay! So, when it comes to buying gifts for your non-fancy-panted social circle, there’s no reason to go super nuts. When it comes to tech gifts, there’s a number of very cool (but also very affordable) items that will keep your peoples connected and modern.

Getting started with the new Google Maps – In July of this year, Google added voice commands and elevation information to the Maps app, but the design remained the same. This time, the update to version 9.0 — rolling out over the next few days — brings you a Material interface (for Android Lollipop), and a couple of new features. These new Maps features include the ability to make restaurant reservations, and also how to find the quickest and cheapest commute with the help of Uber. Here’s how to use each:

This Easy iPhone Trick Will Save You Tons of Photo Space – We’ve all been there: Running low on iPhone storage space, scrambling to delete photos we can live without to record new memories. Well, Apple’s newest iOS update gave us a handy new way to get more storage out of our iPhones without upgrading the hardware.

Xamarin offers free app-building tools to students – Xamarin has launched a new program designed to get its popular mobile app building platform into the hands of America’s students, because children are our future or something like that. Xamarin’s platform theoretically makes it fly-simple to write an app once in C# and quickly and easily adapt it for Macs, PCs, iPhones and Android devices, with 90% of the work already done for you. That last 10% of custom work is what makes it feel like a native app, which is a huge differentiator when building for mobile.


Mobile app development platform Xamarin now includes a free offering for students.

Not everyone needs to learn to code – Many are suggesting that everyone learn computer programming, and that coding be a core component of our educational system. Here’s a more measured approach.

Pointing up     What a terrific idea – teaching computer programing to students who can barely read and write! The need to focus on core education continually gets lost in utopian nonsense, such as this, pushed out as reality.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Not Being a Total Slob – Style: not everyone has it. But just because your fashion sense leaves something to be desired doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You don’t have to max out your credit card at Barney’s or hire a personal shopper. With the help of a few choice apps you can get the basics of selecting outfits, grooming, and how to handle a few life emergencies smoothly.

These 3 Smartphone Apps Tell You When to Have Sex – A small fluorescent object in your pocket tells you when to have sex in order to create children. It may sound like a dystopian future a la Aldous Huxley, but it’s actually a helpful way of figuring out when to have sex in order to conceive.


Home Depot Hackers Also Snagged 53 Million Customer Email Addresses – Remember that Home Depot hack? The one where 56 million credit cards were stolen? Of course you do. Hell — if you’re anything like me, you’re probably still in the middle of updating your various accounts to point to the replacement credit card. Alas, things are a bit worse than previously believed.

Australians at risk of IS cyber attacks – Australia has flown 144 sorties on Islamic State extremists, but it’s believed IS had already struck first, launching a cyber-missile on Australian computer systems. It’s thought the Middle Eastern extremist group is now holding computers, and not just people, hostage. Detected by international cyber-crime company checkpoint ThreatCloud, the Cryptolocker attack was created by the Syrian electronic army – with the beneficiary IS. But it’s not clear how IS got the hack program from their sworn enemies.

Microsoft warns of super-sized Patch Tuesday next week – It’s getting close to security update time in Redmond yet again, and Microsoft has given notice that Windows and Office users can expect another nice, big pile of fixes on November’s Patch Tuesday. The software giant gave advance notice of no less than 16 security bulletins to be addressed on November 11, five of which have been flagged as “critical.” Nine more are marked as “important” and the remaining two are considered “moderate” risks.

Windows 10 will have four patches released on Tuesday – On Tuesday of next week, Microsoft will push out four patches that will apply to the Windows 10 technical preview and it is advised that you install these items to keep your machine secure.

Hackers use DRAFT emails as dead-drops for running malware – Sneaky hackers are using Gmail and Yahoo! drafts to control compromised devices, with the tactic designed to make detection of malware-related communications more difficult to pick up in enterprise environments. Attacks occur in two phases. Hackers first infect a targeted machine via simple malware that installs Python onto the device, enabling simple attack scripts to run. Using Gmail (or Yahoo! Mail), hackers then use draft emails to run command and control prompts on these compromised systems, allowing them to siphon data from infected devices.

Apple blocks WireLurker iPhone malware apps – Apple has blocked the suspect apps behind the WireLurker malware discovered targeting iPhone users in China, effectively minimizing the likelihood of casual infections. The exploit made headlines yesterday for its supposed virulence, watching out for iOS devices being connected to compromised Macs and then grabbing data from them. According to Apple, however, the issue has already been addressed for the most part, while a little common-sense could prevent anyone still at risk from succumbing.

Cisco patches serious vulnerabilities in small business RV Series routers – Cisco Systems released patches for its small business RV Series routers and firewalls to address vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to execute arbitrary commands and overwrite files on the vulnerable devices. The affected products are Cisco RV120W Wireless-N VPN Firewall, Cisco RV180 VPN Router, Cisco RV180W Wireless-N Multifunction VPN Router, and Cisco RV220W Wireless Network Security Firewall. However, firmware updates have been released only for the first three models, while the fixes for Cisco RV220W are expected later this month.

Google digs deep in the world of manual hijacking – In Google’s study, the firm gets up close and personal with hijackers that target not businesses, not governments, but you.

Company News:

Twitter Will Open Hong Kong Office To Target Advertisers – In Asia, Twitter is up against rivals like Sina Weibo and the ubiquity of messaging apps like Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat. But the region is still an important one for the microblogging platform, a point it underscored today by announcing plans to establish an office in Hong Kong. Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas, and emerging markets, Shailesh Rao, told WSJ that the office, which will open in early 2015, will focus on selling advertising to companies based in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Lenovo’s 2014 Q2 saw upswing in profits, new record – Lenovo’s second quarter financial report is in, and in it we see profits on the upswing, with the company hitting a 7-percent revenue increase over the same quarter last year. With its numbers, Lenovo managed to take top slot in the PC+Tablet category and saw a record number of shipments across its tablets, PCs, and smartphone at 35.6 million units. Said Lenovo’s CEO and Chairman Yuanqing Yang on the company’s new #1 slot, “In May, we set this as a two year goal, but achieved it in two quarters.”

AOL Q3 Beats The Street On Sales Of $626.8M, Falls Short On Income Of $121.8M – AOL this morning reported its earnings for Q3, a mixed result that saw it beating estimates on sales but only matching on earnings, and missing on operating income (OIBDA) as the company continues with its turnaround strategy based around more savvy ad technology in the face of Google domination of market share, and display sales, and works through sales declines as a result of shuttered brands like Patch. AOL Platforms, where its ad tech business resides, was actually the only division that saw a rise in revenues over a year ago, up 44 percent. The company reported revenues of $626.8 million, EPS of $0.52 and adjusted operating income of $121.8 million. Analysts were expecting sales of $623 million, EPS of $0.52 and OIBDA of $125 million.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo’s 20GB day-one patch reduced to a still huge 15GB download – Last month developer 343 Industries issued an apology relating to Halo: Master Chief Collection, which is due for release on November 11 for the Xbox One. The apology was warranted because anyone choosing to purchase the game was also committing to a 20GB day one content update. The good news is that 343 has managed to shave 5GB off the size of the download. That still means it’s big at 15GB, but the reduction could shave an hour or two off the download time depending on your connection speed.


Showtime to join HBO, will stream content in 2015 – The promise of HBO without a cable subscription has many excited for what’s on the horizon for non-cable TV service. Not to be outdone, CBS is now saying Showtime will join the streaming fracas in 2015. In the company’s third quarter earning’s call, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves was more than on the fence about Showtime’s streaming-sans-cable aspirations in 2015, saying it’s “fairly definitive”. In the hopes we won’t take it lightly, Moonves also called what’s coming “over the top”.


How the Hell Did NFL Blitz Ever Get Made? – NFL Blitz’s gameplay started with the words “Deadly long-range passes. Linebackers without conscience. A wretched assault on the senses of fair play. No refs, no rules, no mercy.” This is the story of the most violent football game ever made.

Call of Duty didn’t kill Titanfall: it was already dead – It’s an absolute tragedy, the number of players that are playing Titanfall right this minute. It should be a good indicator that the game is in dire need of players that the game has been reduced to $19.99 for both PC and Xbox One – a good deal, by any measure. Unless you consider the possibility that you might not have enough players online to play the game. Is this Call of Duty’s fault? Not by a long shot. Attempting to find a game that wasn’t Attrition for the past several months (on PC, anyway) has been a mess.

Pixar is making ‘Toy Story 4’ – Toy Story is coming back for another installment, and original film director John Lasseter is on board to direct. The film will be released on June 16th, 2017. This is likely to be exciting, if trepidatious news for fans of Pixar and the series: Pixar has increasingly relied on sequels for big hits, while creating great new properties has been put on the back burner. It’s likely that Pixar’s move toward sequels is in part a result of being owned by Disney, which would rather see Pixar continue to mine its most successful properties — of which Toy Story is perhaps the biggest.


11 deliciously old-school PC games that ooze retro appeal – What makes PC gaming glorious? Sure, the performance that’s possible only with a high-end graphics card in a roomy desktop is a big draw—“Can it run Crysis?” is a meme for a reason. But there’s also PC gaming’s willingness to embrace the classic gameplay of the consoles of yesteryear.


Microsoft expands Upload to the web and Xbox 360 – The Upload feature found on the Xbox One is now available on the web and there’s even a new Xbox 360 app, which users can download to access all the uploaded gaming clips on Microsoft’s platform.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will get 16 pieces of free DLC – The Witcher 3 will receive a hefty amount of downloadable content. Sixteen different pieces, to be exact. What is surprising is that 16 pieces of planned DLC for The Witcher 3 will be completely free. For everyone. Forever. It doesn’t matter which version of the game you purchase, or whether you pre-order, you’ll still get the same sixteen pieces of DLC. These aren’t all huge story-pieces of course, though I’d expect a few of those to be announced before this is over. Right now we’ve heard of four DLC bits: three costumes and a quest. In a joke at DLC’s expense, one of those costumes even includes the legendary horse armor of yore.


Off Topic (Sort of):

The Memory Hole Collects the 90s Home Movies That Were Too Weird for TV – The Memory Hole is a place of horror and wonder. When you’re inside the Hole it’s easy for minutes to turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into years. It’s a place where you can find a man blasting baloney with a homemade flamethrower, satan vacuuming the rug with his tongue, and a guy shooting a stack of pumpkins with a cannon. Also, toast.


Screengrabs from the Memory Hole collection via their YouTube channel.

Facebook’s Ebola stand: Zuckerberg donates, wants you to also – The world’s biggest Social Network is getting pumped up about fighting Ebola. To do this, Mark Zuckerberg has released a video outlining how Facebook is teaming up with UNICEF to help provide people in affected and nearby countries by sharing information on Facebook. They’ll be helping people prevent, detect, and treat Ebola by providing internet connectivity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Zuckerberg himself also donated $25 of his own dollars to fight Ebola while Facebook’s internet service will cost millions more.

Where Did Soul-Sucking Office-Speak Come From? – How did we get to the point where people are constantly spouting nonsense about “deliverables,” “drill-down,” “catch-up,” “moving forward,” and “quick wins”?

Scientists find young star with small planets orbiting – How did we come to encircle the sun? Why do we orbit as we do, and why are other planets circling the big orange globe with us? Those are questions we may understand to some degree, but a new finding may shed light on how it all really began. A young star has been discovered with some very small planets beginning to form around it, with their orbit already being decided. It may not be the birth of our universe, but it’s very similar.

Something to think about:

“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”

–      Paul McCartney

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinUtilities Free – WinUtilities is a multi-functional system performance and optimization suite for Microsoft Windows. This collection of tools lets you supercharge your PC’s performance, enhance its security, tweak and optimize its settings, and customize and personalize your screens.


BeeDoctor – MajorGeek says: There are a lot of choices in all-in-one suites and here is the latest called BeeDoctor. It includes a cleaner, speedup tools, an uninstaller and optionally can download and install Avira Antivirus. At the time we reviewed this, the program is completely free, very simple to use and seems a bit more geared towards the casual user who has no interest in more advanced features like registry tinkering, monitoring, process and service management, startup and so on. As a new program, we expect to see more of these sort of tools added in later.


USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool can create images of USB flash drives and MP3 players, that are mounted as USB drives. It allows you switch between images with different music styles on your MP3 Player or to make an exact backup image of your USB Stick.


create image files of USB flash drives

restore images of USB flash drives

compressed image file format

show USB device information

manage favorite USB images

command line utility

USB Image Tool works with any device, that implements the USB Mass Storage protocol. This includes flash drives, card readers and a lot of other devices, like digicams, cell phones and mobile music players.

USB Image Tool supports the globull secure mobile work environment.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Justice Department Wants Wider Hacking Authorities for the FBI – Privacy and technology groups are sounding the alarm on an obscure government rule with major implications for law enforcement hacking.

Hiding behind the nondescript title “Proposed Amendment to Rule 41″ of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is a dangerous increase in authority for federal investigators to use invasive hacking techniques to spy on computers and access data, according to testimony submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and others to a regulatory panel in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

The rule change would allow law enforcement agents to get warrants to search and seize electronic materials from any jurisdiction, “if the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means” or in the case where a network of infected computers spreads across multiple districts.

“The likely effect would be for far more remote searches of far more machines,” said Joe Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology. The ACLU described it as “a game changer in degrading online security [that] could green light systemic constitutional violations.”

British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists – British spies have been granted the authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged attorney-client communications, according to newly released documents.

On Thursday, a series of previously classified policies confirmed for the first time that the U.K.’s top surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters (pictured above) has advised its employees: “You may in principle target the communications of lawyers.”

The U.K.’s other major security and intelligence agencies—MI5 and MI6—have adopted similar policies, the documents show. The guidelines also appear to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

The documents were made public as a result of a legal case brought against the British government by Libyan families who allege that they were subjected to extraordinary rendition and torture in a joint British-American operation that took place in 2004. After revelations about mass surveillance from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden last year, the families launched another case alleging that their communications with lawyers at human rights group Reprieve may have been spied on by the government, hindering their ability to receive a fair trial.

In a statement on Thursday, Reprieve’s legal director Cori Crider said that the new disclosures raised “troubling implications for the whole British justice system” and questioned how frequently the government had used its spy powers for unfair advantage in court.

Why the Constitution Can Protect Passwords But Not Fingerprint Scans – Cellphone fingerprint passcodes weren’t on James Madison’s mind when he authored the Fifth Amendment, a constitutional protection with roots in preventing torture by barring self-incriminating testimonials in court cases.

Yet those tiny skin ridges we all share were at the heart of a Virginia court case last week in which a judge ruled that police, who suspected there was incriminating evidence on a suspect’s smartphone, could legally force the man to unlock his device with its fingerprint scanner. While the Fifth Amendment protects defendants from revealing their numeric passcodes, which would be considered a self-incriminating testimonial, biometrics like fingerprint scans fall outside the law’s scope.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2014

158 new malware created every minute;  The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance;  Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools;  Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam;  What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps;  Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device;  Send text messages straight from the desktop;  Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver;  Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price;  Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure;  Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution;  Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone;  No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving.

158 new malware created EVERY MINUTE – Malware monitors PandaLabs says 227,747 new malware samples are released every day. The findings from its recent survey found 20 million samples were created in the third quarter of 2014. Three quarters of infections were trojans while only 9 percent were viruses and 4 percent worms. The number of trojans rose 13 percent over the last three months, displacing viruses which fell by 10 percent over the same period. The large number of detected malware samples was filled by production line manufacturing kits, rather than dedicated loving handcraft. Zeus Builder, SpyEye and Citadel were three popular kits that allowed inexperienced vxers to craft malware which could then be obfuscated against some malware detection using commercial packers and crypters followed by tests against anti-virus programs.

The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance – If you use Skype, SnapChat, Facebook chat, WhatsApp, or Google off-the-record chat, then it’s time for you to rethink your digital communications strategy and switch to other more secure messaging programs that better protect your privacy. The EFF evaluated 39 messaging products and provided a Secure Messaging Scorecard to show which ones are easy to use yet secure enough to keep the government from snooping on your messages.

Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam – A new whitepaper from Bitdefender examined victims targeted in 850,000 Facebook scams. It turns out Facebook’s user experience makes it easy for scammers to exploit users. In analyzing 850,000 scams spreading in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Saudi Arabia since October 2012, the researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged. Bitdefender’s study found out that there’s no such thing as a typical Facebook scam victim — instead, Facebook scams rely on five kinds of user experience clickbait that are products of, and work in concert with, Facebook’s psychological fabric.

What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps – Is your phone or tablet battery constantly reduced to a sliver of red on the screen? New research has found the worst performance-draining apps on Android devices, and Facebook is the biggest culprit.

Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools – How much do you know about your phone, really? Beyond a name, a price, and vague sense of whether it’s “high end” or not, you’re probably in the dark. Even if you look up the stats, you don’t really know how it performs. The only sure way to know is to run a few benchmarks. This not only gives you an idea of how fast your phone is, but also lets you see how it fares against marketplace rivals or older phones, and can help you troubleshoot problems by comparing against similar phones. Don’t worry, benchmarking your Android phone is easy and cheap. All these tools are free, fun to use, and a few are gorgeous enough to show off to friends.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Who makes the fastest-downloading smartphones in the world? Hint: it’s not Apple – The latest study into which smartphones are the speediest has turned up some surprising winners and losers.

Keep tabs on how often you check your phone with Checky – Just how many times a day do you check your phone? If you aren’t afraid to find out the answer, give Checky a whirl, a free app for iOS and for Android. It may help you curb your habitual phone-checking habits and let you enjoy the rest of the world around you and your electronic device.

Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device – Migrating photos, music, contacts, and calendars from your old iPhone to your new Android device is easy. Jack Wallen explains how.

Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price – Why were you so hasty to swipe left? Why isn’t there any way to undo this grave error? The only option now is to stew in your regret. But soon, that will change. Brace yourself, online daters: Tinder is getting an “undo” button. But the bad news: you’ll have to pay for it.

Chrome’s new Google Drive extension blurs the cloud – Google continues to hammer away at the divide between what lives in the browser and what’s on your computer, releasing a new extension for Chrome that allows files stored in Google Drive to be opened up directly into the relevant app. The plugin effectively further blurs the lines between the cloud and local apps, bypassing the need to first download a copy to your PC or Mac and also making it more likely that you’ll have the latest version stored on Drive too.

Send text messages straight from the desktop with Pushbullet update – Pushbullet performs a ton of useful tasks, connecting your Android phone with your desktop browser to sync notifications and texts. An update Wednesday now lets you send out SMS messages through Pushbullet’s Chrome extension.

Net Neutrality protests planned for Thursday: Time to learn your chant – Internet activists are planning a series of protests across the US on Thursday against a “hybrid” net neutrality plan leaked late last week. Protesters will gather outside the White House and in 14 other cities at 6pm to protest the plan “to show President Obama and his FCC chairman that the public will accept nothing less than lasting net neutrality through Title II reclassification.” Mirroring protests in Hungary, where the government was forced to back down on a proposed broadband tax, those attending will be asked to hold their cell phones in the air and post pictures to social networks with the hashtags #RealNetNeutrality and #ReclassifyTheInternet.

Google gives Microsoft office an awkward hug with new plugin – Google’s given Microsoft Office an awkward hug by refreshing Drive so it plays nice with desktop applications. Drive is Google’s share ‘n’ sync offering and integrates tightly with its apps: drop a document into Drive and you can read or edit it in the Docs in-browser word processor. That tool’s not to everyone’s tastes and misses a few features found in desktop word processors. It’s possible to use other productivity applications to open documents created in Docs if one downloads them and then opens them with one’s local app of choice. That’s obviously an inelegant way to do things, so Google has now created a Chrome plugin and new desktop Drive client that instead offers the chance to suck a document out of its cloud and into the desktop app of your choice.

Google Switchblade

Eee brand returns, as 11-inch ASUS EeeBook X205 Windows 8.1 laptop goes on sale for $199 – ASUS has resurrected its budget-focused Eee brand on a new 11-inch Windows 8.1 notebook, which features a Bay Trail-T processor, 2GB RAM, up to 64GB storage, a webcam and microHDMI port for just $199.


Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver – Amazon is bringing its same-day delivery service to Toronto and Vancouver, giving Canadians a taste of a service that has been available to their counterparts south of the border for a while now. The same-day service requires that you have a postal code (that’s Canadian for zip code friends!) that matches its eligibility requirement, and that you order before 12 PM.

Selfie toys post baby’s photo automatically – Without the express permission of your child, are you allowed to post photos of your children on Facebook? Of course you do. But designer Laura Cornet wants you to ask – and wants you to discuss – whether or not permission is something you should attain from everyone, even your infant. To do this, she’s created a set of toys that activate automatic shares of photos, sounds, and movements of the child that touches them. Automatically, and without the parents’ permission.


Windows XP’s user share plunge not real, just a data adjustment – The Internet metrics company that claimed Windows XP’s user share plummeted by a record amount last month said Tuesday that it had struck several Chinese websites from its tallies, causing the dramatic decline. Net Applications argued that its estimates are now “more accurate.”

Project management apps: How three popular picks stack up – Whether you’re a visual planner or a more straightforward list-maker, we’ve got the perfect project management app for you.

Australia leads in cloud services adoption: Dell – Australia’s ability to adopt virtualisation at such a high penetration level has opened up the country to become a strong cloud service adopter, too.

Fedora 21 beta is ready for your testing pleasure – Previously, Fedora was first and foremost a desktop distribution that also contained server elements. If all went well, the new features introduced in Fedora would eventually appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This go-around, there are three Fedora spins: one for the cloud, one for the server, and one for the workstation. Fedora now uses a modular-style design. So, while each spin is for a specific use case, they all share the basics of the Linux kernel, RPM, yum, systemd, and Anaconda. On top of this foundation, each includes the following features:



Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure – If you’re reading this, you almost certainly have an antivirus or security suite installed on all of your PCs. You may have a mobile security solution for your smartphone. But did you know that your home router could be vulnerable to attack? A recent survey by Avast shows that many home routers are vulnerable to attack.

‘Dridex’ malware revives Microsoft Word macro attacks – A recent piece of malware that aims to steal your online banking credentials revives a decade-old technique to install itself on your PC. Called Dridex, the malware tries to steal your data when you log into an online bank account by creating HTML fields that ask you to enter additional information like your social security number. Thats not unusual in itself: Dridex is the successor to a similar piece of malware called Cridex which also targets your bank account. Whats different is how Dridex tries to infect your computer in the first place. Its delivered in the form of a macro, buried in a Microsoft Word document in a spam email message.

New iOS malware spreads through infected desktop software – iPhone users are usually considered safe from malware, but a new report from Palo Alto Networks suggests that reputation may be about to change. Palo Alto’s researchers have discovered a bug called Wirelurker, which the company says may have already impacted hundreds of thousands of users. The bug is primarily spreading through the Maiyadi App Store, a third-party source for OS X software in China, and researchers estimated the infected apps have been downloaded 356,104 times already.

EFF introduces the “Secure Messaging Scorecard” project – In an effort to encourage companies to become more transparent and secure, the EFF has begun a “Secure Messaging Scoreboard” listing dozens of apps and their security features, or lack thereof.

Microsoft releases free anti-malware for Azure VMs – Free anti-malware software is not hard to find: even reputable vendors offer product at the low, low, price of $0.00 for client devices. Microsoft is now doing the same for servers – or at least for virtual machines in its Azure cloud with a new offering called (deep breath now) Microsoft Antimalware for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines.

German police searches 121 homes in piracy raid – The German police have carried out a massive anti-piracy raid with a considerable amount of storage media confiscated from the suspects of the 121 homes which were raided.

Company News:

Microsoft named world’s second most valuable brand – Microsoft has been named the world’s second most valuable brand at $63 billion, according to Forbes, due in part to its massive sales and promotional deals, but still falling behind Apple.

IBM takes on enterprise cloud security – As organizations increasingly move their operations to the cloud, they need to remain vigilant against security breaches. IBM had this in mind as it prepared a new portfolio of services designed to help secure an enterprise’s cloud operations with the same rigor that has come to be expected with in-house operations.

Qualcomm misses Q4 earnings, revenue targets with weak outlook – Qualcomm also lamented problems it is facing in China concerning its 3G/4G LTE rollout as well as an investigation into its business practices.

Microsoft to focus on search apps with Bing – Microsoft’s director of search admitted that its Bing search engine can’t compete with Google search in a full-on faceoff, but the company will focus instead on search applications. Stefan Weitz, who leads Microsoft’s search efforts, told an audience at the Web Summit conference in Dublin on Tuesday that he’s less interested in Bing as a stand-alone search engine and more interested in integrating the technology into the company’s other products.

Lenovo quarterly profit climbs with boost in PC market share – Lenovo Group announced on Thursday that its net profit for the second quarter rose 19 percent as it increased its presence in the global PC and smartphone markets. The Chinese computer giant recorded a net profit of $262.1 million for the three-month period ended September 30, up from $219.7 million a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting an average of $259.8 million, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution support – In exchange for being so patient while console gamers have been playing Grand Theft Auto V for more than a freakin’ year now, PC gamers will be tossed some pretty delicious bones when Rockstar’s multi-character epic finally lands on computers: 4K resolution support and a nifty looking first-person mode.


The Sailor’s Dream takes you on an oneiric sea voyage – Swedish developer Simogo has been doing some fascinating things lately. After the release of its first three arcade-style titles — Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road and Beat Sneak Bandit — it seemed to come out of nowhere with Year Walk, an eerily beautiful cryptic puzzle game with a story that unfolded piece by tiny piece. This was followed by Device 6, an interactive narrative that became even more cryptic. The Sailor’s Dream is the culmination of the “trilogy” that began with Year Walk and Device 6, and it shares some DNA in common with its predecessors.


Microsoft says it’s delivered “hundreds of new features” to Xbox One this year, writes a list – Microsoft says that its monthly updates have brought “hundreds of new features” to the Xbox One during its first year on sale, and has published a list of over 100 of its top additions to the console.


Off Topic (Sort of):

No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving – We all know the risks of texting while driving, yet a new survey by AT&T shows that a majority of motorists ignore the consequences. According to AT&T and Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, the beep of a cell phone can provide a natural high that most people can’t resist.

Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone – Those windup toy birds have received a modern makeover, and it is called the Bionic Bird. This device looks like a bird and flies like a bird — flapping wings included — and is controlled using a smartphone rather than a remote. The Bionic Bird is the first of its kind, says the maker, and is bid as the “only furtive civilian drone.” Indeed when you see it, the first thing that will pop in your mind is There goes a bird, not oh look, a drone.


Can you handle the truth? Everybody loves the sound of ‘distorted’ music – Just how much distortion — and the favored type of distortion, analog or digital — varies from listener to listener, and that’s where the story gets complicated.

Watch a bowling ball and feather fall at same speed in world’s largest vacuum – The BBC’s Human Universe heads to the world’s largest vacuum chamber to test one of the most oft-repeated examples in all of physics.


The smartest rear-view mirror in the world – The App-Tronics SmartNav 5 rear-view mirror, winner of a Best in Show award at SEMA, combines navigation, video recording, camera, police radar detector and the simple ability to see what’s behind your car.


The SmartNav 5 incorporates navigation software, displaying driving directions in the center of its rear-view mirror.

Surface Pro 3 used as iPad stands by CNN commentators – Back in September, Microsoft’s marketing efforts for the Surface Pro 3 didn’t go as expected when sports announcers forgot what it was called, instead referring to them as iPads and “iPad-like tools”. A similar situation unfolded on CNN during the live election coverage this week, where the commentators were seen decked out with snazzy Surface Pro 3 units. Nothing seemed amiss…at first. As the broadcast wore on, however, it became apparent that the Surfaces weren’t being used in the intended manner.


California Just Became the First State to Defelonize Drug Use – On Tuesday, Californians voted on ballot proposals surrounding issues like water supply, health insurance, and state budget reform. But none of them garnered the same level of national interest as Proposition 47, the criminal justice reform initiative that promised to thin out the state’s saturated prisons by reducing six classifications of nonviolent drug and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure passed, and California will now become the fir​st state to defelonize nearly all accounts of drug possession with the intent of personal use.

A New Bullet Can Make 3D-Printed Guns A Reality – 3D printed guns aren’t very compelling right now. Because of the vagaries of plastic and the methods used to manufacture weapons like the Liberator, your gun can turn itself into a hand grenade if you’re not careful. But engineer Michael Crumling might have a solution.

Something to think about:

“That which used to the source of everyone’s paranoia, have now become themselves far more paranoid.”

–     Ken Babstock    (Poet, Methodist Hatchet)

Today’s Free Downloads:

VSUsbLogon – VSUsbLogon provides a secure way to login to Windows via a USB device, replacing the password based Windows login. You don’t need to remember and type your Windows password (but your system is still password protected). Users can be automatically logged into Windows as they insert the USB flash drive into the USB port. VSUsbLogon allows you to use PIN code to login Windows when the USB device has been connected.

VSUsbLogon supports USB HDD, USB flash drives and other USB devices like iPod, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy ….

All user data is encrypted via AES 256 algorithm. And all user data is encrypted using a unique encryption key that is dependent from the unique user settings.


This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.


BurnAware Free – BurnAware Free is the free version of BurnAware Premium, a popular free CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc burning software available for Windows.

Using this program you can easily create and burn Audio and MP3 CD, Data and DVD-Video disc, ISO and Cue Image, erase or format rewritable disc, copy your CD or DVD to ISO image.


Create data, bootable and multisession CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create Audio CDs and MP3 CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create DVD-Video

Record boot disc images

Create and record disc images

Supports all current hardware interfaces (IDE/SCSI/USB/1394/SATA)

Supports UDF/ISO9660/Joliet Bridged file systems (any combination)

On-the-fly writing for all image types (no staging to hard drive first)

Auto-verification of written files

Supports CD-Text and unicode characters

Supports Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 Bit), no drivers required


This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA director: We share most of the [crap] bugs we find! – The National Security Agency (NSA) is only holding back a teeny, tiny number of code secrets, with director Admiral Mike Rogers promising the world the spook collective shares ‘most’ of the vulnerabilities it finds.

The agency head made the remarks on his second visit to Silicon Valley since his appointment in April this year.

Admiral Rogers told students delegates that US President Barack Obama asked the agency that it should share more of its vulnerabilities with the public.

“The president has been very specific to us in saying ‘the balance I want you to strike will be largely focused on when you find vulnerabilities, we’re going to share them’,” Admiral Rogers said Monday.

“By orders of magnitude, when we find new vulnerabilities, we share them.”

Feds investigate Homeland Security background checker security breach – A contractor running background checks for the US Department of Homeland Security has suffered a potentially embarrassing security breach.

The security snafu at USIS reportedly led to the theft of some DHS employees’ personal information.

The recently discovered breach prompted DHS to suspend all work with USIS, pending the results of an FBI investigation. The Office of Personnel Management also suspended work with USIS, as a precaution, and in what may be a related move OPM is declining to exercise its remaining options on USIS’ Background Investigation Fieldwork and Background Investigation Support Services contracts.

After Snowden slams Dropbox (twice), CEO responds: ‘It’s a trade-off’ – Edward Snowden has thrown rocks at file storage service Dropbox on two occasions. The first time, the U.S. surveillance whistleblower called it “hostile to privacy.” The second? He simply called on its users to “get rid” of it.

Now, Dropbox chief executive Drew Houston responded to those accusations. Spoiler alert: he could’ve done better, considering he’s also appealing to the enterprise and business customers his company supports, the money-makers of his show.

The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.

He said although users could do more to encrypt their data, it’s a “trade-off between usability, convenience, and security,” saying that the company offers people “choice.”

Those trade-offs, he suggested, meant that although users can encrypt their Dropbox storage with third-party tools (and are allowed to), Dropbox’s own features will be degraded, like file previews, search, and revision histories.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 4, 2014

Five apps for degunking your system;  UK spy chief throws privacy in the fire, says it’s not an ‘absolute right’;  Microsoft ends retail sales of Windows 8;  Clear your app caches to clear up Android phone issues;  Google Just Released a Brand New Google Calendar App;  Wearable Tech Gadgets;  Complete guide to Android 5.0 Lollipop;  Review: iPad Air 2 is slimmer and faster;  Wi-Fi security vs. government spies;  Flaw in Visa cards could ring up a very large fraud;  The 5 Best Wii U Games Right Now;  Cocoon smart monitor listens for shock waves to detect intruders;  Internet Archive brings 900 classic arcade games to your browser;  See how Steve Jobs saved Apple;  Can listening to sad music make you happier?  The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science;  FBI Director Comey on needing access to dark encrypted closets where monsters hide.

Five apps for degunking your system – All systems, be they desktops, laptops, smartphones, or tablets need a little cleaning now and then. Sometimes the cleaning is just a simple riding various caches or deleting unwanted files. Other times, the cleaning is deeper and more involved. No matter what the situation, you need the tools to be able to rid that system of what ails it. Clean up your Windows, Linux, and/or Android systems with the help of these handy tools.

Clear your app caches to clear up Android phone issues – It can be easy to forget that your smartphone is just as much of a computer at the PC sitting on your desk. And like all computers, things sometimes go wrong. Files get corrupted. Apps that worked fine a week ago decide to crap out. If an app on your Android phone has suddenly stopped working correctly and relaunching the app didn’t help, clearing the app caches may get things working properly again.

Google Just Released a Brand New Google Calendar App – One of the biggest changes in the new Google Calendar app is that e-mails will integrate seamlessly into the calendar. If you get an e-mail confirmation for a flight, hotel reservation or any other scheduling notification, Google Calendar will automatically pull in the details, so you no longer have to flip between apps or screens to copy and paste the details. Events also will be updated in real time, so if your flight gets delayed, for example, Google Calendar just might know about it before you.

Going so soon? Microsoft ends retail sales of Windows 8 – Windows 8 has passed the first milestone on its way to retirement after Microsoft ended retail sales of the operating system. As of 31 October, retailers will no longer be able to order more Windows 8 to sell beyond their existing stock, although it can still be bought installed on a new PC. The operating system went on sale just over two years ago on 26 October 2012, and Microsoft is already shifting emphasis to Windows 10, expected in the middle of next year.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Windows 10 Technical Preview, keylogging, and you – The Windows 10 Technical Preview can track your keystrokes and listen to your speech. It’s for research rather than spying, but still something to keep it in mind if you’re going to use it.

This is your complete guide to Android 5.0 Lollipop – Android 5.0 Lollipop brings with it an interface overhaul and several other new features. Here’s everything you can do with it.

5 Android apps already redesigned for Android 5.0 – Android 5.0 Lollipop means lots of app updates to use material design guidelines. Here’s 5 of the best apps that already do.

Wearable Tech Gadgets – An interactive database on more than 250 wearable tech gadgets. Data and images from Vandrico, authors of “the most comprehensive database on wearable technology”.

Samaritans Radar depression app raises Twitter privacy concerns – A newly launched app by a UK suicide prevention charity is raising massive privacy concerns by monitoring Twitter accounts without user consent. The app works by proxy. When a user downloads and signs up to Samaritans Radar, the app then has access to the Twitter accounts followed by that user. It will monitor those accounts, looking for key phrases in public Tweets. These include the terms such as “depressed”, “help me” (probably not parsing for Star Wars fandom), “tired of being alone”, “hate myself” and “need someone to talk to”.

Dell Black Friday 2014 ad leaks with sub-$200 Windows 8.1 tablet, laptop, desktop deals – The first major tech retailer to see its Black Friday ad leaked will have doorbusters that include a $149.99 8-inch tablet, a $189.99 laptop, and a $199.99 desktop all powered by the latest version of Windows.


Microsoft starts taking sign ups for its Skype Translator preview – Microsoft is seeking testers for its Skype Translator real-time video translation service, which will be available in limited preview form before year-end.


Here’s Why Taylor Swift Pulled Her Music From Spotify – The 1989 star has been outspoken about singers valuing their music by saying no to low-royalty streaming services.

Disney Movies Anywhere now lets you buy once and watch on any iOS or Android device – It sounds a little complicated at first glance, but in the demo Google and Disney executives gave us, it’s a pretty seamless process. When you create a Disney Movies Anywhere account on Disney’s site (or in Disney’s iOS and Android apps), you’re now given the option to link both your iTunes and Google Play accounts to it. Once those accounts are added, you’ll be able to play of those Disney movies through the Disney Movies Anywhere app or on Disney’s site, regardless of where you first purchased them.


Review: iPad Air 2 is slimmer and faster, but with a smaller battery – Performance enhancements will appeal to those who run graphically demanding apps, although Apple’s quest for thinness comes at the cost of reduced battery capacity.


Verizon and AT&T aim to support HD Voice calls between networks in 2015 – Most people still don’t know the joy of placing an HD Voice call from their smartphone, but Verizon and AT&T say they’re working together to change that. Today both carriers announced that they expect to reach VoLTE (voice over LTE) interoperability sometime in 2015. Those are the two biggest wireless providers in the United States, so once support’s there, a whole lot of consumers will quickly start experiencing the huge leap in quality that comes with HD calls. HD Voice routes calls over each carrier’s 4G LTE technology to achieve clearer, better conversations.

Kids won’t do chores? Call in this mole for undercover parenting – It may look like just another toy, but this smartphone-controlled stuffed animal lets you communicate with kids in a unique way.


Don’t Move tags stick to anything and alert if disturbed – Living in shared accommodations can be a hassle, as can working in an office or any other number of situations where people are prone to getting in your stuff. There are tricks to determine if something has been tampered with: tape over a drawer seam, a penny precariously balanced on an edge. They’re archaic and not terribly accurate, among other things, and now fully obsolete thanks to the roster of connected devices that abound. The “Don’t Move” Bluetooth tags, a new product being funded on Indiegogo, may stand chief among them all.


Cocoon smart monitor listens for shock waves to detect intruders – Another connected home security device has surfaced, this one designed to be both simplistic and highly sensitive to when a problem arrives. It achieves this sensitivity using what the makers call SUBSOUND technology, which is said to allow the device to detect motion in a different room, no other sensors needed. This is joined, as you’d expect, by a smartphone app that lets you peek through the Cocoon’s integrated camera. If someone is poking around who isn’t welcomed, there’s an alarm that can be triggered, as well.


There’s roughly one WiFi hotspot for every 150 people in the world right now – One of the most significant increases is due largely to home Internet providers offering a separate WiFi hotspot service through the home router they sell to users, making it so anyone with an account can access a separate network that is broadcasting from your home or business. As a result, there has been an 80% increase in worldwide hotspot availability in the last year alone. In North America, that increase looks more like 690%.

Mozilla announces the first web browser “built by developers for developers” – Mozilla has announced that it is launching a new web browser designed exclusively around developers’ needs, and which it says will ‘make life easier’ for devs, helping them to become more productive.


New Ponemon report shows cybercrime is on the rise – The Ponemon Institute completed their annual look at how well companies are coping with cyber attacks. Cybercrime is up 10.4% over the previous year. The Ponemon Institute added a new country to this year’s survey list. There are now seven countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, France, and new this year is the Russian Federation.

Wi-Fi security vs. government spies – At The Intercept, Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire have just published software manuals from “The hacking suite for governmental interception.” The software is called Remote Control System (RCS) and it is made by an Italian company, Hacking Team. The Hacking Team CEO says the software, which can “activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords,” is used in over 40 countries. One way of installing RCS software on a target device is over Wi-Fi, and page 117 from the RCS Technicians Guide caught my eye. You can see it below.


Flaw in Visa cards could ring up a very large fraud – Visa’s contactless payment cards will approve very large transactions in currencies other than the British pound due to a flaw in a protocol, U.K. researchers contend. They concluded it would be possible for criminals to turn a mobile phone into a point-of-sale terminal and pre-set a large amount of money to be transferred from a payment card even if it was in someone’s pocket.

Android Lollipop: Taking mobile security to a new level – Lollipop is almost here, and it should be the most secure Android experience to date. But does this mean security is completely out of the hands of the users? Jack Wallen takes on this question.

Adobe’s e-reader software dials back data collection after privacy uproar, EFF says – Tests on the latest version of Adobe System’s e-reader software shows the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related dustup last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on ebooks that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Fake AdBlock App Infiltrates Google Play – This week, Malwarebytes shows us the app that made it past Google’s app store guardians and, potentially, onto hundreds of thousands of phones.

Company News:

Apple plans investor call ahead of potential bond sale – Apple is planning an investor call ahead of a potential bond sale, the third in the company’s history. The iPad and iPhone maker is working with Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs in order to organize the call, according to the Wall Street Journal. The publication, citing a person familiar with the matter, says that Apple may be considering selling bonds in euros — a break from other sales which have only taken place in US dollars.

Sprint trims subscriber losses in Q3, hangs on as third-largest U.S. carrier – In the company’s earnings call late Monday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced a loss of 500,000 postpaid phone connections during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a loss of 620,000 in the second quarter and 693,000 in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Sprint has lost about 1.8 million postpaid customers.

Nintendo Slowly Modernizes Its Online Strategy – In a “Semi-Annual Financial Results Briefing” released last week, Nintendo publicly discussed its evolving digital strategy. The Japanese video game hardware and software developer has spent years playing catch-up with rivals Microsoft and Sony, and it was good to see the company acknowledge some of its shortcomings and show that it is looking to improve.

Google CEO Larry Page says company should change its mission statement – Larry Page says the company has outgrown its mission statement to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ – but admits he doesn’t know what comes next.


Google announces Hindi-language website – With India’s English-speaking population mostly online, the search giant has decided to target the other billion people in India who do not speak English, starting with Hindi.

Stumbling Samsung Puts The Focus On China – While the world continues to muse over the dramas unfolding at Samsung following a decent 60% dip in profits year-on-year, the Korean smartphone giant is turning its focus in China with a series of brand building initiatives.

Games and Entertainment:

The 5 Best Wii U Games Right Now – So you just picked up Nintendo’s Wii U, and you’re wondering what to buy. That’s something we can say now—the “after you bought it” thing—because with the newer consoles, every game is available through the console’s e-tail store as a digital download. Or maybe you haven’t bought one yet, but you’re leaning in Nintendo’s general direction. Either way, we think these are hands-down the best games on the platform at the moment.

Building a better Paris in ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ – With new technology comes new possibilities, and the virtual rendition of Paris in ACU is the most detailed city the team at Ubisoft Montreal has built to date. It’s both huge and dense, and even features plentiful interior locations and underground tunnels to explore. The streets are teeming with people — upwards of 10,000 Parisians can be featured on screen at a time. Great pains were made to ensure the city in the game was true to the one that existed in 1789, but much was also changed.


Internet Archive brings 900 classic arcade games to your browser – Late last year the Internet Archive branched out into video games, adding a section of the site called the Console Living Room that backed up early console games. What started with five systems—the Atari 2600 and 7800, the Magnavox Odyssey, the ColecoVision, and the Astrocade—has since expanded to include everything from classics like the Sega Genesis to weird also-rans like the Watara SuperVision. And as of this week, it now also includes arcade games. Yet another branch of the ever-expanding Internet Archive, the new Internet Arcade brings over 900 classic arcade cabinets to your browser.


The Internet Arcade makes it easy to run classic arcade games (Pictured: Galaga) right in your browser.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Funeral – There’s nothing like pressing “X” to pay respects to your best buddy after a lengthy, deadly battle. That’s what the newest Call of Duty knows, and that’s what the newest Call of Duty shows in Advanced Warfare’s funeral. It’s not the first time you’ve been able to “pay respects” to a fallen comrade in a game, but it is the most recent. And it’s reminding us of the lines the video games cross on a regular basis. With Kevin Spacey, to boot.


Off Topic (Sort of):

See how Steve Jobs saved Apple – Apple’s visionary co-founder returned at a time when the company was on the brink of destruction. Here are the moves that kept Apple alive.

The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science – A year-long survey by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has revealed the top 10 most persistent earworms — with the Spice Girls topping the list.


Predicting the next decade of tech: From the cloud to disappearing computers and the rise of robots – Summary: Making short-term decisions about technology investment is relatively easy; trying to work out how IT will develop over the next decade is much harder.

Can listening to sad music make you happier? – New study looks at the surprising role listening to sad music could play in improving your emotional well-being.


Sad music, like the “Midnight Sonata” by Beethoven, could help you through troubled times, a new study reports.

Intel: A tiny video drone? Disguised as a BRACELET? Great! Take half a million dollars! – Do you like drones? Do you like fashion? Do you want a drone that doubles as a fashion accessory? No? Well, too bad, because Intel has decided that the time is right for a quadcopter drone you bend and snap into an armband.


Charting the Origins and Future of Anonymous – Anthropologists often get immersed in the once-hidden culture they are exploring. With her latest book, Gabriella Coleman decided to fix her anthropologist’s gaze on Anonymous. Coleman’s book is an intriguing yet, at times, deeply disturbing tale. It tells what happens when the CSIS (the Canadian equivalent of the CIA) comes knocking on your door, what punishment befalls you when you go idle inside a furtive IRC channel, and the realities of the digital age (“I quit carrying a personal tracking device, or cellphone if you will, post-Snowden,” she said).

Greeks BEST in WORLD – at, er, breaking their mobile phones – Insurance is dull. Mobile phone insurance is doubly so, to spice it up insurance company SquareTrade has published figures for how good people in different countries are at using their phones without falling over. It transpires that the Poles and Belgians are very good, while the Greeks and Italians are the most likely to have a stumbling accident and damage their precious mobes. And iPhone users are the most clumsy smartphone users. According to SquareTrade, those British users with faith in the Jesus phone are 37 per cent more likely to have an accident than other smartphone users.


Something to think about:

“Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.”

–        Terry Pratchett

Today’s Free Downloads:

WSCC – Windows System Control Center – Install, update, execute and organize utilities from suites such as Microsoft Sysinternals and Nirsoft Utilities.

WSCC can install and update the supported utilities automatically. Alternatively, WSCC can use the http protocol to download and run the programs. WSCC is portable, installation is not required. Extract the content of the downloaded zip archive to any directory on your computer.

This edition of WSCC supports the following utility suites:

Windows Sysinternals Suite (including support for Sysinternals Live service) and NirSoft Utilities.


Tunngle – Tunngle is a revolutionary p2p VPN tool that delivers the best online entertainment experience. Tunngle is specifically designed to allow PC gamers all over the world to comfortably play their games over the Internet while enjoying all the commodities of a Local Area Network party.

Tunngle is literally built around games. Each game has its own public network. Each network comes with its own chat! You can bookmark, list and search!

Tunngle comes with its own integrated messenger. Adding buddies, making friends is just a few mouse clicks away!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FBI Director Comey on needing access to dark encrypted closets where monsters hide – In a series of recent speeches, FBI Director James Comey discussed fighting monsters, the militarization of police, online terrorist propaganda, the risk of Going Dark due to encryption and how we need to stop before the U.S. becomes a ‘law-free zone.’

UK spy chief throws privacy in the fire, says it’s not an ‘absolute right’ – Summary: Britain’s new eavesdropping agency’s chief publicly sets out his views and possible agenda by taking embracing the “collect it all” side of the debate.

British spy agency demands more help from tech titans – Following US government counterparts, the new head of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters criticizes tech firms for permitting terrorists to use their services.

Hacking Team Responds in Defense of Its Spyware – Last week, The Intercept published manuals showing the workings of an invasive spyware tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to authorities in dozens of countries around the world.


Hacking Team’s CEO David Vincenzetti responded to our piece over the weekend with a letter addressed to The Intercept’s editors (and also sent to the company’s mailing list):

British Spies Allowed to Access U.S. Data Without a Warrant – Newly released documents from the British government reveal a lack of judicial oversight for how it sifts through communications data collected by the NSA and other foreign governments. (recommended by Fred)

Australian government’s metadata access may be widened – Summary: The Attorney-General’s Department has admitted that proposed mandatory data retention legislation may be used for far more than what the government has claimed it will be required for.

New NSA director renews pitch to Silicon Valley – Nevermind the surveillance spat between the US government and the tech titans of Silicon Valley: NSA Director Mike Rogers wants to mend fences.

Top appeals court to hear why NSA metadata spying should stay or go – On Tuesday, three judges at one of the nation’s most powerful appellate courts will hear oral arguments in the only legal challenge to result in a judicial order against the National Security Agency’s (NSA) vast telephone metadata collection program. That order was put on hold pending the government’s appeal in this case. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals could overturn last year’s unusual lower court ruling that ordered an end to the program, or the court could confirm it.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 4, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 15, 2014

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’;  3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will;  Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device (free);  Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results;  The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week;  An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary;  iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life;  Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’;  Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose;  How to change your Dropbox password;  Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault;  Kingo Android Root (free);  Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review;  EssentialPIM (free);  Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance.

Snapchat warns users outside apps ‘can’t be trusted’ – Snapchat tells its more than 100 million users that some third-party apps pose a threat. But the photo-sharing service doesn’t address why outsiders were able to connect to Snapchat in the first place.

3 simple ways two-factor authentication can protect you when no one else will – Two-factor authentication helps you protect your online identity even when the companies you do business with are breached or leak your data.

Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device – You have sensitive data on your Android device and you want to keep it from prying eyes. There are plenty of ways to achieve this. One of my new favorite methods is with the Andrognito tool. This free piece of software, found in the Google Play Store, allows you to hide and unhide just about anything on your device. What is nice about this software is that, once hidden, not even you can view it. For all intents and purposes, those hidden files cannot be viewed. One they’re unhidden, it’s as if they never disappeared.

Study: Search Engines Blur Line Between Ads, Legit Results – Despite a recent directive for search firms to better distinguish between paid and natural results, the top three engines appear to have done little to comply. In June 2013, the Federal Trade Commission penned letters to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, among others, urging them to make sure users can easily identify advertisements. But a new report from Harvard researcher Ben Edelman takes issue with how Google has complied. “While FTC guidelines call for ‘clear’ and ‘prominent’ visual cues to separate advertisements from algorithmic results, Google has moved in the opposite direction,” Edelman said.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week: From budgeting to travel – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone and Android that stand out and are worth a try.

17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint – This collection of tips is all about the vagaries of the powerful PowerPoint software itself. It’s meant for those with a grasp of the basics and beyond who are looking for that extra little goose to get the most out of the program. We hope with these tricks—some of which will, inevitably, have some advice for better presentations and slideshows—help make your next speaking engagement even more persuasive. Note, these tips are specific to PowerPoint 2013, the latest version.

Windows 10: A new preview build will be out ‘soon’ – Microsoft has announced that over 1 million users are now testing Windows 10 but one aspect that has been overlooked is that a new preview build will be released soon.

Windows 10 Preview stats: Two-thirds of testers live dangerously – Who needs a safety net? A big majority of Windows 10 Technical Preview testers scoff at the safety provided by virtual machines. Here’s how to take the proper precautions before dumping the Preview on your hard drive.

Skype Qik aims to take over mobile video messaging – Skype Qik couldn’t be more simple if it tried. You install the app, use your mobile number to sign up, and then you’re messaging with friends as if you’re texting, but it’s all video. There’s no chat, no audio, or anything else, just pure video messages. To make things even easier, if your friend doesn’t have the app you can still send them a Skype Qik message and they’ll receive an SMS with instructions on how to download Skype Qik. Any video messages will be waiting for them.


An App That Lets You Converse With The Deaf, No Sign Language Necessary – Founders Thibault Duchemin, Pieter Doevendans and Skinner Cheng say one-on-one conversations are easy for the deaf. Either they are speaking with someone who can sign or they can just read lips. However, it’s very hard to follow group conversations with several people speaking at once. This makes it hard to catch things and converse during group meals with friends who don’t sign or at an office meeting where they might miss something important. This app is personal for two of the three founders. Cheng has been deaf since he was two and Duchemin is a coda, meaning he grew up with deaf family members.


The iPhone 6 Plus Gets A One-Handed Keyboard App, And It’s Glorious – While I came around to the iPhone 6 Plus and its unique allure, as told in a post from a couple of days ago, Apple’s big smartphone still isn’t the easiest to use when typing one-handed. Specifically, it’s tricky to get to the requisite punctuation needed to properly express oneself. A new app, helpfully called “One Handed Keyboard,” eliminates this annoyance, with a simple software trick made possible by iOS 8’s support for third-party keyboards.

iOS 8 secrets: More security, better battery life – Six secret features buried in iOS 8 to help you get more from the operating system keep you safe, and help you get more from your battery.

‘Potential’ App Keeps Tabs on Android Device Battery Levels – Never again will you pick up an Android device to find that you forgot to charge it now that Potential is out for Android. This app (still in beta) will sync the status of your battery, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth across devices so you can view them anywhere. There’s also a Windows app that can be used to check in on all your Android devices without touching them.


Public or private cloud? 5 criteria to help you choose – Migrating to the cloud can be overwhelming. This public vs. private cloud comparison simplifies the process by breaking down five points to consider from the start.

Three easy ways to create a collaborative photo album – Special events like holidays, weddings, and school reunions just beg to be captured in pictures—but organizing photos from friends and family after the event can be a pain. It doesn’t have to be! Here are three easy ways to collect everybody’s photos and share them with all participants after your get-together is over.

Bose QuietComfort 25: Possibly the best purchase a frequent flyer can make – The new Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have for business workers who fly often. Take a look at Jordan Golson’s review.



Microsoft Patch Tuesday tackles three critical vulnerabilities, including ‘Sandworm’ – The Sandworm vulnerability gets a fix with this month’s round of corrective fixes for Microsoft software. Internet Explorer gets a fix, too.

YouTube has potentially infected over 100,000 users during the past 30 days – Did you watch something on YouTube during the past couple of months? If you have, you could be infected with a malicious rootkit. According to reports, over 100,000 people have been infected.

Russian hackers use Windows flaw to target NATO and more – Hackers have been in the news on a regular basis — sometimes for their escapades, other times for their convictions. The latest among them is a Russian hacking collective that has been spying on high-profile targets for the last five years. The collective is being referred to as the Sandworm Team by iSight Partners, which made the discovery, due to Dune references spotted in the hackers’ code. The hacking efforts are said to be ongoing even now, and involve phishing tactics to infect the various targets’ computers.

How to change your Dropbox password – Hackers say they’ve stolen millions of Dropbox passwords, though the company says it wasn’t hacked. Either way, now may be a good time to update your password.

Don’t blame Dropbox: It’s all your fault – If Dropbox is correct that the Pastebin file of passwords were all reused from other services then they are innocent. The users involved are guilty of laziness.

Google exposes ‘Poodle’ flaw in Web encryption standard – Three Google security engineers uncover a major vulnerability in the older — but still supported — Web encryption standard SSL 3.0. Experts say fixing it is impossible and upgrading will be difficult.

Korea suffers over 106 million privacy breaches in 4 years – South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has suffered over 106 million leaks of personal information by the negligence of private companies in the last four years, reports ZDNet Korea’s Cho Mu-hyun.

Company News:

Ireland to phase out “Double Irish” tax trickery, to Google’s chagrin – The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill. Google declared $60 billion worth of revenue in the United States in 2013. Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Google Shopping Express Expands To More Cities, Rebrands As “Google Express” – Google Shopping Express, rebranded to simply “Google Express” as of this morning, is no longer entirely subsidizing the costs associated with same-day delivery. The program, which offers instant shopping gratification to consumers in a growing number of U.S. cities, is now working to transition its more regular customers into paying members, who subscribe on either a monthly or annual basis for $10/month or $95/year, respectively.

Intel Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3 Revenue Of $14.55B On Strength Of Recovering PC Market – Following the bell, Intel reported its third quarter financial performance, including revenue of $14.55 billion and earnings per share of $0.66. Analysts and the street had expected that Intel would earn $0.65 per share on total top line of $14.45 billion. In its sequentially preceding quarter, Intel earned $0.55 per share on revenue of $13.8 billion. The company’s revenue rose $1.1 billion compared to its year-ago period, or 8 percent. More positively, its operating income rose 30 percent to $4.5 billion.

HP and EMC merger talks called off, says report – Computing giant HP has called off talks with storage-to-virtualisation company EMC over a potential merger, which the company explored ahead of its recently announced consumer and enterprise split. The two companies’ “off-and-on” merger discussions that have reportedly taken place over the past year have officially been put to rest, with an announcement expected to come as early as Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation.

Games and Entertainment:

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review – This release of Sleeping Dogs is the big-time re-up the game needed for the current generation of consoles: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It still doesn’t look as fantastic as it does when you’re topped-out on a high-end PC, but Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition never looked better on a console. This game was fun and entertaining in an evolved old-school way when it was first released, and it’s all the more entertaining now.


EVOLVE “Big Alpha” beta confirmed for Oct. 30 on Xbox One – Turtle Rock Studios, creator of the Left for Dead series, are readying the launch of a brand new shooter.  Titled “EVOLVE”, the class-based shooter is a multi-platform game that pits four player-controlled hunters against one player-controlled beast.  The game emphasizes team play between the four hunters and proper execution of each player’s given role in order to take down an agile Godzilla-like creature, and the beta release has been confirmed for October 30, 2014.


Humble Mozilla Bundle brings indie games to your browser – Humble Bundle has another, well, bundle, but this time it’s doing something different, new, and quite exciting. The name that has, for some, changed the way you buy games and support game developers, especially indie ones, is now pioneering another with a collection of 8 titles. These aren’t just games you can play on your PC or, in some cases, mobile device. These titles can spring at you right within the confines of one of the most used programs on your computer: your web browser.


Students build Marvel digital timeline that will suck you in – It’s going to take a superhero-like effort to avoid spending the rest of the day browsing through this website celebrating 75 years of Marvel-ousness.


Say hello to Ultimate75th.com and goodbye to your work day.

Don’t Blink: Assassin’s Creed Rogue Is Coming for PC – The best place to play the Assassin’s Creed series remains a Windows PC, if you don’t mind waiting. Ubisoft just confirmed Assassin’s Creed Rogue will hit PC in “early 2015.” It did so in a slightly sneaky way, too: at the close of a brand new story trailer.


Off Topic (Sort of):

The beginning of the people’s Web: 20 years of Netscape – In 1994, only geeks, techies and nerds were using the Web, and then along came Netscape and nothing would be the same.


It may not be pretty by our standards, but Netscape was the first browser to bring the Web to the masses instead of just the techies.

Apple and Facebook are now paying for women employees to freeze their eggs – It sounds like a plot out of a Gattaca-like dystopian movie: giant corporations that pay for the women on their workforces to freeze their reproductive eggs, allowing them to spend more of their most fertile years at the office, delaying having children until later. Yet that’s exactly what two of Silicon Valley’s largest companies are doing in real life in an apparent bid to recruit more women talent, a laudable goal. Facebook and Apple will both cover the costs of egg-freezing procedures up to $20,000 for individual employees, according to NBC News. Facebook’s employees were able to participate in the policy as of this year, while Apple’s policy won’t be available until early 2015, according to the report.

Linux Foundation Backs Open-Source Drone Projects – For better or worse, drones are big business. And while there are still some regulatory issues to be ironed out regarding commercial use in the U.S., that hasn’t stopped the research and development on these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an effort to accelerate adoption of better, more affordable, and more reliable open source software for UAVs, The Linux Foundation today announced the Dronecode Project. With the help of founding members like 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, Intel, Qualcomm, and more, the Dronecode Project will develop a common, shared open source platform for drones.


U2’s Bono sorry for compulsory ‘Songs of Innocence’ iTunes download – Bono took the opportunity last night to apologise to fans who were forced to download ‘Songs of Innocence’ via iTunes following the iPhone 6 reveal in September and admitted to getting carried away.

Bullet-time video of parkour, breakdancing, gymnastics is awesome – Using a special filming technique, a cinematographer makes the sports of parkour, tricking, breakdancing and gymnastics look even more amazing.


Something to think about:

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.”

–     Robert Heinlein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Kingo Android Root – Kingo Android Root provides every Android user the easiest and safest way to root their devices for free.

It supports almost all Android models and versions. It also includes a built-in function to remove root from your Android device with just one-click.

Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

EssentialPIM – EssentialPIM is a personal information manager that allows you to keep all your information in electronic form. All your appointments, tasks, notes, contacts, password entries and email messages are stored in a graphical and easily accessible form.


Tools to satisfy your calendar, contact management, tasks, notes, password entries and email needs. All data is cross-linked, – link your contacts to appointments and email messages to notes.

Synchronization with all major online services (Google, Yahoo, Funambol, Mobical, AOLSync, GooSync, etc.) and SyncML and CalDAV servers. Outlook, Windows Mobile and Palm synchronization is also available.

Simple printout of any modules and quick export of your data into the most popular formats (iCal, vCard, CSV, HTML).

Strong data protection with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

Intuitive interface in many languages including German, Italian, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.

EssentialPIM comes in several editions to satisfy any of your organizing needs:

Pro and Free editions – see comparison.

Portable edition – keeps and manages all your personal data on USB stick.

Network edition – a powerful and complete collaboration solution for small to medium size businesses. It can be installed and configured within 10 minutes by an average computer user without a need for a dedicated server.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance – Since 2011, billions of dollars of venture capital investment have poured into public education through private, for-profit technologies that promise to revolutionize education. Designed for the “21st century” classroom, these tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements.

They are also being used to track and record every move students make in the classroom, grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance and turning education into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed in to “personalize” and “adapt” learning for students in public school districts across the United States.

If you have ‘nothing to hide’, here’s where to send your passwords – Nearly every week, I hear someone shrug off privacy issues with a claim that they’re not worried because they have “nothing to hide” from the government.

Let’s put a cork in it, once and for all.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, love him or hate him, offered attendees at his October TED talk a bulletproof argument (as far as I can tell) against the “nothing to hide” argument.

He said:

“Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, ‘I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide,’ I always say the same thing to them.

I get out a pen. I write down my email address. I say, ‘Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.’

Not a single person has taken me up on that offer. I check that email account religiously all the time. It’s a very desolate place.”

How an FBI Informant Ordered the Hack of British Tabloid ‘The Sun’ – In July of 2011, the website for the British tabloid The Sun announced that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had been found “dead in his garden.”

It was a lie, of course; a fake article planted by hackers who spent a week flitting in and out of the newspaper’s servers. The cyberattack was part of a campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire in the midst of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

It was perpetrated, like so many of these things, by a group of anonymous online hackers. Except one of their leaders was an FBI informant.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 3, 2014

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop;  USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix;  Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach;  Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition);  Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus;  The best calendar apps and widgets for Android;  Real-time captioning comes to Google Glass;  Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview;  Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract; New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad;  Best mobile games of September 2014;  Tower Dwellers Hits Android;  Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella;  Would a curfew for men be good for society?  Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities;  Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop – Your computer contains important information, much of it private. The people who will repair it may need to alter Windows, which generally requires access to your password-protected administrator account. They’re probably honest, but you can’t count on that. And even if they’re honest, they may still wipe your hard drive out of necessity or incompetence. But with the right precautions, taking your PC on a service trip shouldn’t result in a disaster.

Curb Facebook Atlas’s Reach With Adblock Plus – Facebook on Monday relaunched the Atlas advertising platform in an effort to expand its marketing reach across the Web. But not everyone is thrilled about it. Which is where ad-blocking plug-in Adblock Plus comes in.

Evernote everywhere? New collaboration tools hope to take over your workday – Evernote, with its new Work Chat messaging app and Context research tool, hopes to turn plain old chat into an enhanced communication medium. Whether these new features will woo workers away from established competition is a very open question.

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks – Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best calendar apps and widgets for Android – No matter how much you’d rather be playing games or checking fantasy sports stats, you have to manage your calendar. All of the following choices work with Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange, along with other cloud accounts, so you can keep all your appointments in one calendar app.

How to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview: Everything you need to know – Are you ready to walk on the wild side? Windows 10 is on the horizon, and even though it’s still roughly three-quarters of a year away from completion, Microsoft’s giving IT Pros and PC enthusiasts an early taste of what’s to come with the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Lots of things are sure to change going forward, from features to basic elements of the operating system. All that said, are you still curious? Can’t resist the lure of the bleeding edge? Just want to run away from Windows 8? Here’s how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview right now.

Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview – So you’ve downloaded Microsoft’s Windows 10 Technical Preview. Let PCWorld show you around your new OS with our newbie’s guide to Windows 10, complete with tips and tricks.

Real-time, real-world captioning comes to Google Glass – The wearable head-up display’s potential for the hearing impaired, though, did not go unnoticed by a team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. They found a way to circumvent the limitation’s of Glass’ microphone to create an app that captions conversations in real-time. Captioning on Glass adds an Android smartphone to the mix. The speaker talks directly into the smartphone’s microphone; the free CoG Android app translates the speech into text using Google’s own speech recognition software and sends it to the free Captioning on Glass Glassware.


Best Android smartphones (October 2014 edition) – Here is a selection of the best Android phones currently available on the market. Whether you’re after a handset for personal use, or one suited to BYOD, there’s bound to be an Android handset here for you.

New Apple tool helps you avoid buying a stolen iPhone or iPad – Buying a used phone from someone on Craigslist or eBay is never not sketchy, but thankfully Apple’s now rolled out a tool that could keep you from paying for stolen (and useless) property. The company has launched a new website that instantly checks to see whether Activation Lock — an anti-theft feature of iOS — is switched on for any iPhone or iPad. It’s part of iCloud, but you don’t need any type of Apple account to use it. You will need to access it from a desktop browser, though; mobile Safari bizarrely isn’t supported right now. That makes no sense, but oh well.


Lumia 530 priced at just $49.99 with no contract on Cricket Wireless – Cricket Wireless will be the first US carrier to offer Microsoft’s most affordable Windows Phone ever, the Lumia 530, and when it goes on sale tomorrow, it will cost just $49.99 with no contract.

ComputerCOP: internet safety software distributed by police turns out to be spyware – If your local police department offered you a piece of free software claiming it helps protect your kids online, that should be a good thing. In reality, saying ComputerCOP is safety software is like saying that a peeping Tom is someone’s personal night watchman. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has done extensive digging and discovered that nearly 250 law enforcement agencies in 35 US states have purchased ComputerCOP over the years, typically buying thousands of copies at a time.


Roku hops on the screen mirroring bandwagon, adding feature for Android, Windows – Roku is striking back at Chromecast and Apple TV’s Airplay with screen mirroring for Android and Windows. The beta feature lets users beam video and audio from a phone, tablet or PC to the big screen. It’s available now for the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version, and requires a device running at least Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 or Android 4.4.2.


Comcast brings stream-anywhere cloud DVR to major cities – The new service will let customers stream DVR’d TV recordings to PCs, Macs, iOS devices, and Android devices, even outside the home. It’s similar in function to Dish’s Hopper DVR, but because the recordings are stored in the cloud, it could eventually allow for new features such as unlimited tuners and unlimited storage, GigaOM reports.


Lawyer wants to sue Google over celeb photo hack – With the recent celebrity photo hacking scandal, iCloud was quickly pointed to as a reason for us seeing far too much of those affected. Apple was quick to respond by pointing out the breach occurred by brute force, and not as a result of their lax security. Now, a lawyer representing some of the celebrities affected, is suing Google.


Chase bank says 76 million affected in data breach – Data breaches seem to be a daily occurrence of late, with companies left and right reporting they’ve been hacked. The latest puts the info grab a little too close to home, though, as JP Morgan Chase reveal they’ve been compromised. The scope of the breach makes it the largest we’ve ever seen. According to the banking giant, about 76 million households were compromised. Seven million small businesses were also affected, according to the nation’s largest bank. Via a regulatory filing today, Chase says names, phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses were snatched.

USB has a huge security problem that could take years to fix – In July, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell announced that they’d found a critical security flaw they called BadUSB, allowing attackers to smuggle malware on the devices effectively undetected. Even worse, there didn’t seem to be a clear fix for the attack. Anyone who plugged in a USB stick was opening themselves up to the attack, and because the bad code was residing in USB firmware, it was hard to protect against it without completely redesigning the system. The only good news was that Nohl and Lell didn’t publish the code, so the industry had some time to prepare for a world without USB. As of this week, that’s no longer true.

Check the permissions: Android flashlight apps criticised over privacy – Security firm SnoopWall warns that torch apps are requesting more access to users’ data than they need.

Rising interest in IT security careers  – Demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 3.5 times faster than the overall IT job market, and 12 times faster than the total labor market.

Company News:

Apple and Google could be in crosshairs of Australian tax inquiry – Major international companies such as Apple and Google could soon have their accounts put under the microscope in Australia as part of a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.

Facebook apologizes for manipulating news feeds in psychology experiment – In June, Facebook researchers announced the results of a 2011 study that manipulated the news feeds of nearly a million user news feeds to see how positive or negative posts affected user behavior. The experiment only encompassed a tiny fraction of Facebook’s more than 1.3 billion users, but saw incredible backlash from users who hadn’t been asked if they wanted to partake in the study. Today, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer finally apologized in a blog post, and outlined plans for more structured research in the future.

Angry Birds maker Rovio lays off 130 staff and tries to ‘reignite growth’ – Layoffs affect 16% of Finnish firm’s workforce as it focuses on its games, media and consumer products businesses.


Kim Dotcom parts ways with Baboom: ‘The music industry hates me’ Digital music company confirms it has ‘severed all ties’ with its own founder, as it plans full launch in early 2015.

Games and Entertainment:

Wasteland 2: 10 hours in the desert of death – Set decades after a nuclear apocalypse, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 role-playing classic. After choosing a small group of differently skilled survivors, players must head out into the heat-blasted wilderness to investigate the murder of an important tribal leader. This is what happened in my first 10 hours.


Tower Dwellers Hits Android After Successfully Defending on iOS – At first glance Tower Dwellers is just another tower defense game—after all, “tower” is right there in the name. However, this game has a fun twist on the traditional gameplay that allows you to mix and match abilities to create a custom fighting force that will (hopefully) stop the waves of baddies in their tracks. This game launched on iOS a few months ago, but it has now made its way to Android.


Best mobile games of September 2014 – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in September 2014.


This train has zombies on it, and you can shoot them – Sure you can go trick-or-treating with the kids on Halloween. Or maybe go see a scary movie. Or even attend an epic costume party. But if you really want to get in the mix — you know, get your heart pumping and your hands dirty — what you want to do is book yourself aboard the Zombie Train. On the train, you’ll be armed with a laser gun and have the chance to shoot your way through hoardes of zombies looking to board your compartment and eat your brains (or at least your packets of travel snacks). “The ZOMBIE TRAIN is the most unique train ride in North America,” says the attraction’s website. “Be among the first to ride through an apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies in Sacramento’s newest attraction, the Zombie Train! One part passenger train, one part zombie killing machine, this one-of-a-kind experience arms passengers with laser rifles to pick-off walking zombies along the tracks.”


An Hour’s Worth of Bloodborne Gameplay That’s Kind of Amazing – An alpha tester just uploaded an hour’s worth of high-definition video of grueling hack-and-slash Bloodborne gameplay.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Gates talks Apple Pay, Bitcoin, Nadella and how Office needs to be dramatically better – In a 17 minute interview with Bloomberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates gives his opinions on Bitcoin, mobile payments, Tim Cook, and that improving Office needs to be one of Nadella’s top focuses.


Guy legally trolls Instagram by registering domain about magical duck – A Redditor registered the domain slutsofinstagram.com and, when Instagram sent him a cease and desist letter, responded by claiming the domain is for a fictitious fantasy tale about a duck named Slütsöf who travels throughout the land of Stagram. “Slütsöf in Stagram.” She has a goat brother named Whöresof. He responded to Instagram’s letter, though, claiming that the company doesn’t own the alpahbet, and any similarities to their service are simply unfortunate. It’s obviously a joke, but the Redditor kind of has a point.

Vicious great white shark battle caught on camera – Great white sharks don’t fight each other often, but when they do, it’s no-teeth-barred.


Would a curfew for men be good for society? – Back in the early 70s, Golda Meir, the then prime minister of Israel, was faced with a government cabinet full of men discussing how best to curb a wave of violent rapes. The idea of banning women from the streets after dark was floated. Meir made a counteroffer. “Men are attacking women,” she said. “Not the other way around. If there is going to be a curfew, let the men be locked up, not the women.” Ultimately, the idea was dismissed as unworkable. But since then it has been seriously considered by a handful of communities around the world. This time, it’s Bucaramanga—a city in the Colombian state of Santander—that will be taking up Meir’s metaphorical baton. Next week—on Thursday, October 9—the city of just under 600,000 will experience its first “women-only” night as part of a campaign launched by the state governor’s office.

Crystal invented that can store, release, and replenish oxygen on command – In what sounds like the most efficient weapon that an alien race can threaten the human populace with, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have invented a crystal that pulls oxygen from a room and even water. According to the researchers, only a bucket full of the crystalline material is needed for the effect to take place. The substance is a salt made from cobalt, and aside from rhyming, is capable of slurping up oxygen at 160 times the concentration of the air we breathe.


Drone Captures Epic Footage of Iceland Volcano Eruption – If you want to capture close-up video of a volcano erupting, you better be prepared to risk your life. Unless, of course, you have a drone. The folks at drone company DJI recently took a trek to Iceland to capture the massive Bardarbunga Volcano erupting, and the footage is nothing short of amazing.


Something to think about:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

–    John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

PCMark – With PCMark 8 you can test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is the complete PC benchmark for home and business.

What makes PCMark 8 different from other benchmarks? Real-world relevance.

With PCMark 8 you measure and compare PC performance using real-world tasks and applications. We’ve grouped these applications into scenarios that reflect typical PC use in the home and at the office.

This approach ensures that PCMark measures the things that matter, highlighting performance differences that will be apparent to end users and consumers.


SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect WiFi Guard is an essential tool for everyone running a small WiFi network and striving to keep it secure. Generally, modern WiFi networks are well protected, but there is a number of weaknesses that can compromise your WiFi password; this includes vulnerabilities in encryption and brute force attacks. As a result, someone can gain unauthorised access to your Internet and LAN, exploit them and stay unnoticed.

You may think: it’s ok, who cares, I have got an uncapped plan. But what about someone reading your personal emails, stealing private information or breaking the law online while using your Internet connection?

Here comes our little application that allows you to know immediately if your network is used without your knowledge. It’s a specalised network scanner that runs through your network at set intervals and reports immediately if it has found any new connected devices that could possibly belong to an intruder.



Pointing up    SoftPerfect WiFi Guard running in my system tray.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA and me – James Bamford literally wrote the book on the National Security Agency, spending 30 years obsessively documenting the secretive agency in print. Today, for the first time, he tells the story of his brief turn as an NSA whistleblower.

(A very long but comprehensive article.)

Let slip the doges of war: Australian Senator calls for meme protest of data retention laws – After new national security surveillance powers were ushered through Australian parliament this week, one Senator has called on the internet to protest further national security reforms through mass meme power.

Senator Scott Ludlam has been an outspoken critic of the three tranches of anti-terrorism legislation that are currently making their way through the two houses of Australian parliament, backed by both major political parties.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 24, 2014

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously;  Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone;  Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets;  How to disable banner ads in Skype;  Top free, essential business apps for iPhone;  Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That;  Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline;  3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8;  How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device;  College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity;  Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year;  UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations;  Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’;  Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK;  The best apps for freelancers;  How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous.

How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously – Recently, BoingBoing ran an article about how some librarians in Massachusetts were installing Tor software in all their public PCs to anonymize the browsing habits of their patrons. The librarians are doing this as a stand against passive government surveillance as well as companies that track users online and build dossiers to serve highly-targeted advertising. It’s an interesting project and a bold stand for user privacy. But the good news is that if you want to browse anonymously, you don’t have to go to the library to use Tor. Connecting to the Tor network from your own PC is quick and painless thanks to the Tor project’s dead simple Tor Browser.

Pointing up  Quick tip: Don’t install add-ons (Tor is a version of Firefox and it will accept add-ons), since doing so will break anonymity.

Eight questions to ask before you buy your next smartphone – Wireless providers in the US make it easy to pay more than you should for a smartphone and an accompanying data plan. Here’s how to make sure you get the best possible deal.

Top free essential business apps for Android smartphones, tablets – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for Android devices on the market?

Top free, essential business apps for Apple’s iPhone – What are some of the best, free business-related apps for the iPhone on offer?

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The best apps for freelancers – The whole freelance, be-your-own-boss thing sounds liberating—until you realize you’re also your own business manager. You need to track your time and expenses. You need to make sure you get paid. Luckily, there are several apps that can make the business end of freelancing a whole lot easier.

10 Android features that still make it better than iOS 8 – Apple’s new iOS 8 may have blatantly appropriated some of Android’s marquee features—like the Notifications panel and support for third-party keyboards—but it still misses some of what Android users love about the mobile operating system. Your Apple-using friends may try to rub your nose in their shiny new version of iOS on their shiny new iPhone, so here are ten features that Android has that you can retort with. (And of course, don’t forget to remind them that Android L is coming soon, and that will have even more features to boast about.)

Windows 7 faces Halloween deadline – Microsoft is approaching the next cutoff date in Windows 7’s life cycle next month. Here’s what is and isn’t happening after October 31.

Craving a Cuddle? There’s an App for That – Released earlier this month, Cuddlr lets you find people near you who are down for a friendly cuddle sesh. It works like this — when you see someone who looks suitable, you send them a “cuddle request” and they have 15 minutes to accept. If they accept, you’ll both see each other’s location and you can send your potential cuddle buddy just one 140-character message to, perhaps, coordinate where to meet. You’ll also get real-time updates and walking directions so you can find each other. Not creepy at all.


3 must-have app extensions for iOS 8 – With iOS 8, Apple introduced extensibility in the OS through apps with built-in extensions that can be used inside of other apps like Safari, Photos, the Notification Center, and more. Several app updates have been released that focus on further integrating iOS with extensions. Here are just three must-have apps with extension support in iOS 8.

Wear Tip Calculator Splits the Bill in Seconds on Android Wear – The last thing you want to do after a hearty meal is math. But how are you supposed to figure out the tip without delving into that mishmash of numbers and figuring out who ordered what? Easy—just use your watch and the aptly named Wear Tip Calculator.


Polaroid Cube Review – Is the Polaroid Cube worth the cash? Absolutely. Even without apps, even without a viewing screen. Even without the ability to toss it down a mountain. You’ll be able to pick the Polaroid Cube up in Orange/Red, Blue, or Black (we’ve got Black) supposing you’re able to find those colors in a store near you. We’d recommend checking in with Photojojo first and foremost. Again, the Polaroid Cube itself costs $99 USD while accessories vary in cost. We’ll see more soon!


How to remove bloatware from your rooted Android device – So, you’ve opted to root your Android device to enjoy new features and get rid of the bloatware installed by your carrier and the device manufacturer. You root the phone, only to find you still can’t uninstall those apps! Even with the rooted device, the Uninstall button never appears on the carrier-installed applications. What do you do? There are two options.

Microsoft Miracast dongle brings Chromecast-like streaming to the Windows world – Miracast was designed first and foremost to mirror what your screen displays, so it serves as a second, wireless monitor. (It also supports HDCP protected content, so you can “throw” a movie from your laptop to the dongle itself, playing the audio through the display’s speakers.)  That also means that while you can use it to wirelessly display YouTube videos, it can also be used to display a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet, or your PC’s desktop.


Getting started with Talko – New iPhone app from Ray Ozzie lets you talk, text and share photos as well as tag and bookmark key parts of your conversations.


College Campuses Get An “F” In Cybersecurity – This obviously isn’t very welcoming news for campuses and their inhabitants. In order to assess the cyber security performance of American higher education institutions, BitSight Technologies conducted a study on the most recognized collegiate athletic conferences: the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, and Ivy League. These schools represent a student popular of over 2.25 million and network footprint of more than 11 million IP addresses.

Kali NetHunter turns Android device into hacker Swiss Army knife – One of the tools we’ve leaned on heavily in some of our lab testing of software privacy and security is Kali Linux. The Debian-based operating system comes packaged with a collection of penetration testing and network monitoring tools curated and developed by the security training company Offensive Security. Today, the Kali developer team and Offensive Security released a new Kali project that runs on a Google Nexus device. Called NetHunter, the distribution provides much of the power of Kali with the addition of a browser-driven set of tools that can be used to launch attacks on wireless networks or on unattended computers via a USB connection.


Free to download, ready to customize, NetHunter puts the power of a pen-tester’s Linux desktop on a Nexus phone or tablet.

The ‘Hacking’ Involved in Stealing Celebrity Nude Photos Isn’t Even Impressive – I talked to former hacker and leading internet security blogger Nik Cubrilovic about the process of stealing celebrity nudes, and to hear him tell it, the hacking skills required are pretty remedial.

Apple’s Touch ID still vulnerable to hack, security researcher finds – The Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 6 can be fooled by the same trick that unlocks the iPhone 5S — but it didn’t have to be that way, says security expert.

Company News:

Samsung gives up on Windows laptops and Chromebooks in Europe – Samsung has confirmed that it is ending sales of all of its laptops – including both Windows notebooks and Chromebooks – in Europe. The move comes as the PC market continues to struggle in the face of increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets, reducing users’ dependence on ‘traditional’ form factors, including notebooks and desktops.

Facebook’s WiFi drones to begin testing next year – Be it balloons, drones, sattelites or just plain laying cable under the surface, various companies are making an effort to digitally connect the world. Google and Facebook have both vowed to bring the Internet as we know it to parts of the world where connectivity is sparse or absent. Facebook is now laying out their plan of action, saying that they should be able to test drones by next year.


EU tells Google to make more concessions or face charges in antitrust dispute – Google has to improve its settlement terms in an antitrust investigation over its search practices or face charges, following opposition from some quarters to the deal, the European Commission’s competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday. Some of the 20 formal complainants “have given fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google,” Almunia, who is vice president of the commission responsible for competition policy, said in a speech of which the transcript was posted on the European Union website.

FTC shuts down Bitcoin mining rig maker Butterfly Labs – As Bitcoin rose in value and the popularity of cryptocurrencies spiked, companies began cropping up hawking pre-built PCs called mining rigs designed specifically for digital mining. One such company was Butterfly Labs, which was just recently shut down by the FTC over questionable business practices. A quick trot through the Internet will reveal customers less than happy with Butterfly Labs, reporting things like lack of communication and never receiving the product they ordered. The FTC caught wind of their troubles and took swift action, going so far as to call the folks behind Butterfly Labs “scammers”.

UPS reveals plan to expand 3D printing locations – As with Staples, 3D printing is available at UPS stores, something that has thus far been a pilot program. According to the company, it will be rolling out an expansion to almost 100 stores across the US, marking the highest number of printing locations available by a nationwide retailer.

Games and Entertainment:

Activision taps Rudy Giuliani in Call of Duty lawsuit – Back in July, former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega slapped Activision with a lawsuit over Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The reason? His likeness was used without permission, and he was shown committing “numerous fictional heinous crimes”, which apparently tarnished his reputation.


Follow PCWorld’s Steam Curator page for great, hand-picked game suggestions – PCWorld covers a wide world of PC gaming news, previews, and reviews, but sifting through a sea of old articles is a headache when you just want to know which cool PC game you should buy right now. Enter Steam’s recent revamp. The ‘Discovery Update’ overhauled the interface and added a wealth of new tools, all designed to make it easier to help you find games you actually want to play—including the ability to follow “curator” pages of game recommendations from sources you trust. I think you see where this is going.


League of Legends gamers face restricted ranked play over bad behavior – Most sane people know how to have fun and be a good sport, but there is always that one clueless guy who pops in and ruins something for everyone else. Riot Games has ramped up its penalties against those kinds of gamers, adding more restrictions in place for those who forget their manners.


Nintendo releasing transparent versions of the 2DS – Two new versions of the 2DS have been announced for gamers across Europe. They both have transparent casings, but come in a choice of Transparent Red or Transparent Blue. There’s no word on whether these models will be offered outside of Europe, but they will be available as standalone products on November 7.


Xbox One is now officially cheaper than PS4 in the UK – Amazon UK has all the deals listed in one place and the standard console with no games is priced at just £324.85. That’s £25 (US$40) cheaper than the official price. You can also select to buy the console with Call of Duty, Destiny, or pre-order it with FIFA 15, Halo, Forza Horizon 2, of GTA V and only pay the RRP of £349.99. So you’re basically getting a game for free. However, the best offer has to be the pre-order for the white Xbox One with Sunset Overdrive, which is listed at the new lower price of £329.99.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Google’s Schmidt says Assange detainment is ‘luxury lodgings’ – On the eve of the release of the WikiLeaks founder’s new book, titled “When Google Met WikiLeaks,” the Google executive chairman goes on the offensive.

How Much Better Is Each New iPhone’s Camera? Here’s An Excellent Comparison – It’s easy to say that the iPhone’s camera has gotten better over time — that’s pretty much a given. But how much better? Lisa Bettany, co-founder of Camera+, decided to put it to the test. Eight generations of iPhone, lined up in a row… all taking the same photo. The results are pretty damn neat.


Emma Watson urges UN to back feminism – 4chan trolls threaten to leak her ‘nude selfies’ – At the weekend, actress Emma Watson gave a well-argued and reasoned speech to the UN calling for better relations between the sexes. And lo, internet trolls have set up a website threatening to release nude photographs of the Harry Potter star. The website features a 4chan logo, a badly rendered snap of Watson apparently crying, and a countdown clock with about three and a half days left to run. Anonymous comments on a moron-infested 4chan.org board said Watson’s nude pictures would be leaked online when the countdown reaches zero.

This music video is shot in one-take and uses 14 different Apple devices – Brunette Shoot Blondes might not ring a bell, but the Ukrainian indie/electro/pop band is making waves with their new video “Knock Knock.” The new video uses 14 different Apple devices to tell a story.


TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 2 – This is the second installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips powering our connected devices.

Aireon unveils ALERT system for tracking, finding lost planes – Aireon is aiming to put an end to lost aircraft, announcing that it will have a free plane-tracking system in place in 2017. With the system, the location details on a plane that goes missing can be requested by rescue teams, helping to avoid future tragedies like the loss of MH370.


Can the iPhone 6 Plus stop a 50-caliber bullet? – It will certainly let you watch videos in full HD, but how does the iPhone 6 Plus fare when it comes to stopping bullets? RatedRR takes a shot at the Plus to find out.


Something to think about:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

–      Hermann Hesse

Today’s Free Downloads:

Win Toolkit – Win Toolkit is a lightweight and easy to use application that was created in order to help you customize your Windows installation!

With this tool you can integrate Addons, Drivers, Gadgets, Language packs, Modified Files, Theme Packs, Tweaks, Silent Installers, Updates. You can also remove features such as Windows Media Player and customize Windows default services state.

Win Toolkit also comes with extra tools which helps you convert files, make ISOs, download the latest updates (thanks to SoLoR and McRip), and completely customize your images to tailor your Windows installation disk to your exact needs.


Universal Media Server – Universal Media Server is a DLNA-compliant UPnP Media Server.

It is based on PS3 Media Server by shagrath. It is actually an evolution of the “SubJunk Build” of PMS.

UMS was started by SubJunk, an official developer of PMS, in order to ensure greater stability and file-compatibility.

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

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

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


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

After small victory in stingray case, Chicago man seeks more records – After successfully getting the Chicago Police Department to hand over records showing that it purchased cell site simulator devices, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, one local activist has now filed a second lawsuit in an attempt to better understand precisely how the stingrays are actually used.

The new lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Freddy Martinez, a 27-year-old Chicagoan who works in the software industry.

Martinez’ earlier lawsuit resulted in three pages of invoices, dated 2009, showing that the department purchased an AmberJack upgrade (a model of stingray) and a StingRay II upgrade. While “StingRay” is a trademarked name and particular product of the Harris Corporation, it has entered the technical lexicon as a generic term, like Kleenex or Xerox.

As a result of the CPD’s disclosure of these documents, the agency has now filed for a motion to dismiss in the first lawsuit, and the two sides are set to meet in a Chicago court room on Wednesday. Martinez and his attorney will continue to press for more documents to be released.

The new suit specifically asks for, among other records:

All court orders for any instances in which Chicago Police deployed IMSI Catchers

All formal or informal policies, procedures, orders, directives, or other such records that pertain to when, why, where, how, and by whom IMSI Catchers may be deployed

All records discussing the constitutionality of deploying IMSI Catchers

“The public has a right to know the extent to which the police are secretly taking information from their cell phones and whether their Constitutional rights are being protected in the process,” Matt Topic, Martinez’ lawyer, said in a statement. “The Chicago Police Department has refused to produce a single document that would show the extent this is happening and with what Constitutional safeguards. This plainly violates the Freedom of Information Act and raises serious Constitutional concerns.”

A court ruled that a swat raid on a barbershop was totally ridiculous – It’s heartening to read the 44-page decision, which sarcastically insults the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department for launching absurdly over-the-top operations to check licenses of barbershops in the area. At one establishment, Strictly Skillz, about ten cops—some with their guns drawn and faces covered—stormed in looking for contraband. Police cuffed the shop owners and forcibly removed the customers, but found nothing illegal going on in the shop.

This bizarre use of heavy-handed tactics is not unique to Florida. Earlier this summer, several exotic dancers in San Diego filed a lawsuit after being allegedly mistreated by local police, whose excuse for detaining and photographing them was that they were checking identification. Last year, a 12-officer team raided an animal shelter in order to put down a baby deer. There are far too many examples to mention, but federal agencies in particular seem to have recently caught the raid first, question later bug.

With the Strictly Skillz court ruling, barbers can proceed with a lawsuit against the cops for violating their Fourth Amendment rights. But as the law blog Simple Justice noted, there are various complicating factors and technicalities involved (aren’t there always). The main one is that the court didn’t broadly decree that a SWAT-style raid in the service of checking licenses is unconstitutional, just that this particular one was excessive in its forcefulness.

So it might be a minor victory, but I’ll take it. This ruling combined with the Senate hearing on police militarization from earlier in the month should give some police-reform advocates hope. Could the US finally be tilting away from SWAT raids and prisons as the answer to every societal ill? If so, it’s a change that’s a long time coming—and it’ll be longer still until we see departments across the country actually change their behavior.

The New Offensive On Canadian Government Spying – As parliament resumes in Canada, privacy advocates OpenMedia are hoping to stir up renewed public debate in the country, about the role of its spy agency, CSEC, in government surveillance.

Vowing to “stop illegal spying,” the group just launched a new video campaign designed to stoke concern about the Communications Security Establishment Canada’s shadowy mandate. The group alleges that said mandate allows for spying that is “secretive, expensive, and out-of-control.”

“Canada’s national spy agency can collect and analyze your private communication data without a warrant,” the video warns.”This could include your phone calls, your email, your internet data, and even wherever you go with your phone.”

The video is another phase of the organization’s campaign to raise awareness and exert pressure on the government over warrantless bulk data collection.

With the return of the Conservative party’s cyber-snooping legislation, under the guise of Bill C-13, OpenMedia cobbled together the Protect Our Privacy coalition to push Canadians to voice their views.

The group includes the usual suspects of Amnesty International, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and a slew of unions. It also includes some unlikely partners like the right-leaning Canadian Taxpayer Federation, the National Firearms Association, and several media groups.

The wider campaign by OpenMedia and its partners signals a growing concern and public debate surrounding privacy issues—a similar public dialogue to the one that Americans underwent shortly after the Edward Snowden leaks.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 22, 2014

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses;  Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it;  How to turn on Android encryption;  Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature;  10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography;  The best weather apps for Android;  Two free tools to lock down chat apps;  Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux;  31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life;  Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers;  eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites;  Anatomy of an Android Gamer;  The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide;  Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos;  Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad.

Home Depot breach totals: 56 million credit cards exposed, $62 million in losses – Lots of people who speculated about the credit card data breach at the Home Depot turned out to be wrong. But those who suggested that Home Depot’s breach might end up bigger than Target’s turned out to be spot on.

Microsoft is doubling OneDrive’s free storage, here is how to get it – Microsoft has announced that they are doubling all of the free storage on mobile platforms if you enable the auto-upload feature to backup your photos; but you have to act quick to get the offer.

Swiftkey keyboard app shoots to top of iTunes charts – Known for its powers of predictive typing, the app now ranks No. 1 among all free iPhone apps in Apple’s App Store. Swiftkey offers predictive typing, so as you type the first few characters of a word, it displays a list of suggested words. Simply tap the correct word to insert it without having to type it in full. The more you use the app, the more it learns your writing style and and the better it can predict what you want to type. Swiftkey also offers different keyboard layouts, skin colors and emoji characters.

Samsung launches free’My Knox’ app for securing its latest smartphones – My Knox can be installed on a user’s Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4 smartphone without an IT administrator’s involvement to set up a My Knox User Portal to remotely find, wipe and lock a device, according to a Samsung blog. With My Knox, professionals can synchronize emails, calendar events and contacts between desktop computers and mobile devices, Samsung said. It creates a virtual Android partition within the mobile device that has its own home screen, launcher, apps and widget.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Android L will turn on encryption by default – The pre-release window for Android L continues to be full of surprises. The new Android OS, due out before the end of the year, is set to encrypt device data by default, a first for the Android universe—but it’ll probably be a while before default encryption comes to every Android user.

How to turn on Android encryption today (no waiting necessary) – Google’s new Android encryption policy is great, but you don’t necessarily need to wait for an OS update to protect your data from investigators, be they government snoops or someone you know.

Windows 9’s Preview May Not Touch Down Until October – Remember that upcoming Windows 9 event that Microsoft is hosting on September 30? It might not mark the actual release of Windows 9’s technical preview, as was long expected. According to Paul Thurrott, that bit of code might not become available until October.

The best weather apps for Android – With fall approaching, it’s a good time to ensure you have the best weather information at the ready. There are plenty of options for Android: Google Now, widgets, persistent notifications, and the old-school method of opening an app. We parsed through the Play Store to find the best options for figuring out if you need to pack an umbrella, grab a jacket, or bundle up.


iOS 8 problems not so magical: Slow, Laggy, Bloaty, Crashy, Buggy, Drainy and Doc – iOS 8 problems have reared their ugly heads, bang on cue. Early-adopting iMagicMirror owners are finding their devices suffering some seriously poisoned Apple.

TechSpot: 10 Tips For Good Smartphone Photography – We’ve laid out ten tips for taking good photos on a smartphone. Read on and you’ll be well on your way to producing some awesome shots from a fairly limited camera platform.

Instapaper Goes Freemium, Adds Text-to-Speech Feature – Instapaper has gone freemium—great news for those who want to take advantage of the app’s “save interesting things you want to read later” features without coughing up a monthly subscription fee to do so. The switch is part of a series of updates to the service that were officially announced on Instapaper’s blog this past week. The process of saving an unlimited number of article and videos for later viewing (across any device on which the Instapaper app is installed, we note) will no longer cost a user anything—no $3 or $4 fee to download the app itself.

Hack runs Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers – If you remember, about a week ago, Google gave Chrome OS the ability to run Android apps through the “App Runtime for Chrome.” The release came with a lot of limitations—it only worked with certain apps and only worked on Chrome OS. But a developer by the name of “Vladikoff” has slowly been stripping away these limits. First he figured out how to load any app on Chrome OS, instead of just the four that are officially supported. Now he’s made an even bigger breakthrough and gotten Android apps to work on any desktop OS that Chrome runs on. You can now run Android apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.


The official Android Twitter app running on Mac OS.

Netflix Is Finally Coming To Linux Without The Need For Hacky Tricks – If you’re sitting in the itty-bitty overlapping sliver on the Venn Diagram of “People who use Ubuntu” and “People who can’t figure out how to use user agent spoofing and other trickery to make Netflix work on Ubuntu” — Good news! Netflix is likely (finally) coming to Ubuntu soon.

Google is no longer forcing new users into making Google+ accounts – Google has lifted its requirement that new Google users also create a Google+ account, Marketing Land reports. When you sign up for a Gmail, Google Docs, or other Google account, a new “No thanks” button lets you opt out of Google’s social network.


Image via Marketing Land

Two free tools to lock down chat apps – If you’ve handed out Android phones for work, or you have a need to add a layer of privacy to your Android chat applications, there are plenty of ways you can accomplish this. One way is to install app lockers specifically for chat apps and other social networking tools. Two such apps I have found are Chat App Lock and Messenger and Chat Lock. Each of these applications will help you lock down those apps and services you do not want just everyone to gain access to.

31 ways to boost your iPhone’s battery life – Apple’s latest iPhones don’t pack nearly as much power as their nearest competitors. By tweaking iOS 8, you can improve your iPhone’s battery life considerably.


The Home Depot reportedly ignored warnings from its own cybersecurity team – Former members of the company’s cybersecurity teams spoke to the Times, and said that The Home Depot was slow to respond to vulnerabilities, and shrugged off warnings that it would be easy prey for hackers. Former employees also said that the company used outdated security software, which led to some of them even warning friends to use cash instead of credit cards at Home Depot stores. To make matters worse, The Home Depot’s former security boss, Ricky Joe Mitchell, was recently sentenced to four years in prison for “deliberately disabling computers” at his previous company, the Times reports.

eBay scam listings redirect users to phishing websites – Scam listings on eBay have been spotted in recent times, redirecting users to a phishing website in an attempt to get their login credentials. A user would click on a link, only to be taken to a website that looked identical to eBay — unfortunately, more than one listing was discovered.

The Fappening has fappened again; more naked celeb leaks surface – Three weeks after the original round of leaks showing dozens of celebrities in compromising poses went online, it appears that another batch has leaked which include previous and other celebs.

Apple’s iOS 8 fixes enterprise Wi-Fi authentication hijacking flaw – A weakness in Apple’s Wi-Fi implementation could give hackers access to enterprise wireless networks, researchers said.

Company News:

Alibaba shares close first day of trading at $93.89 – In their first day of trading, shares of Alibaba stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, an increase of more than 35 percent over the $68 initial public offering price. The company raised $21.8 billion in its U.S. IPO, making it one of the largest IPOs ever. It’s close to the historic $22 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010, and beats the $18 billion raised by Visa in 2008.

Renewed talk of Yahoo as acquisition target after Alibaba IPO – With Alibaba’s IPO making big winners of the Chinese e-commerce giant and Japan-based stakeholder SoftBank, what are the odds that one of them buys Yahoo?

Microsoft fights app gap perception with new videos – Microsoft’s app stores have often been accused of lacking quality apps and that they are lower quality than their Apple and Google counterparts but Microsoft hopes to change that image in new videos.


Games and Entertainment:

The killer PC games of holiday 2014: A comprehensive guide – Sure, February 2015 is shaping up to be a rocking month for PC gamers, but after the deluge of delays, are there any games left to launch this year ? Yes. Oh yes—in fact, there’s a lot of them. Read on to find out about the most intriguing PC games coming out by the end of the year, in helpful chronological order of release. From new Borderlands to new Civilization to Alien: Isolation and beyond, there’s a veritable flood of gaming goodness inbound.


‘The Nightmare Cooperative’ Mixes a Roguelike RPG With a Puzzler – Video games have gotten rather easy in recent years. It’s almost impossible to actually die in most titles, but there’s a movement to bring back the punishing difficulty and heartbreak of yesteryear. The proliferation of Roguelike games including Solomon’s Boneyard, Cardinal Quest, and Pixel Dungeon are a manifestation of this trend. Now there’s a new delightfully aggravating dungeon adventure on mobile devices. It’s called The Nightmare Cooperative and you can get it on iOS and Android.


Bungie did something incredible with Destiny’s UI – Bungie created a gorgeous UI which is essentially an evolution of the nearly universally despised Windows 8 Metro user interface.


The first games that show off iOS 8’s graphics are available for download – With iOS 8, Apple introduced a new tool for game developers which gives them better ways to take advantage of the A7 and A8 processors. It’s called “Metal,” a play on the common way of describing coding that’s “close to the metal” of the processor instead of abstracted through layers of programming. Now that iOS 8 is available, Apple has put together a special section of the iTunes App Store to showcase the half-dozen or so games that take advantage of Metal.


Anatomy of an Android Gamer – You game. I game. We all game. And if we’re Android gamers, then we play games on our devices for an average of 37 minutes a day, according to data from mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry. That’s a global figure, however. If you’re a resident of the U.S. and play games on your Android device, you spend an average of about an hour engaged in your digital pursuit (51.8 minutes, specifically). If you live in China, you likely spend an average of 28.6 minutes tapping away—the last country in Flurry’s top 10 list.

You Should Play: Pako – With crashes, high-speed chases, and hairpin turns, Pako is not just your average endless runner. It is an endless getaway game, where escape is impossible—how long until your car chase ends in a crash depends upon your skill. Pako has five different maps to choose from with different vehicles and obstacles, but your goal is always the same: Drive to stay alive. If the twist on a classic style of gameplay isn’t enough to interest you, here are three other reasons why you should check it out.


The complete guide to streaming games on Twitch –  Interested in broadcasting your gameplay to the world? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about setting up a Twitch game stream.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Let’s Fix The Internet – I hate to be the one to tell you this, but: we, the people of the Internet, have collectively run up a colossal amount of technical debt. Much of our online infrastructure consists of band-aid and/or legacy Rube Goldberg solutions hacked together with bubble gum and baling wire; and the only way to pay back technical debt is to fix it. The good news is, we’re finally doing just that.


Royal Observatory announces the winners of its 2013 photography contest – Each year, the UK’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich runs an Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest. Yesterday, the Observatory announced the winners of its 2013 version, the winners of which will be on display, making it worth a visit if you’re anywhere near London. We’ve brought you some of the winners of microscopy contests in the past; this gives us the chance to feature things at the opposite end of the scale, from planets to galaxies.


The history of the Predator, the drone that changed the world (Q&A) – Longtime Pentagon correspondent Richard Whittle investigated the unmanned aircraft that gave the military the ability to attack targets from the other side of the world. He talked to CNET about the drone.


UK Engineers 3D Print Their Own Raspberry Pi Laptop – Is there anything a robotic system for the extrusion of plastic in to solid forms over time can’t do? We present to you today the Pi-Top, a Raspberry Pi-based laptop that is completely 3D-printed and lasts hours on a single charge. The kit, which will launch as a Kickstarter soon, offers a 13.3-inch screen and a little keyboard and trackpad combo for data entry. Viola! A little open source computer for you and yours. The project is the brainchild of a group of UK-based designers. They built the system using PLA filament, and it took over 160 hours to print.


Homeless, wearing GoPros, capture ‘life as it is rarely seen’ – A San Francisco project outfits homeless volunteers with personal camera rigs for shooting first-person footage of daily life. The goal is to build empathy,” Homeless GoPro says.


“People see me like I am a garbage, which hurts me,” says Homeless GoPro autobiographer Silas, a veteran who has suffered seizures since being injured in combat. Pictured with him is project volunteer Naoko Morikawa.

Something to think about:

“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”

–       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

NirSoft Utilities Panel – NirSoft Utilities Panel is an experimental Web page that contains icons with links to all major NirSoft Utilities as exe files. When you move the mouse over the desired icon, you’ll see the current version and the last update date of the utility.


The graphic reflects a partial listing of available applications. Be aware – since many of these applications replicate hacking behaviour, you can expect your AV to respond with a warning.

SplitCam webcam software – SplitCam webcam software offers cool webcam effects for having more positive emotions during video calls with your friends! Additionally SplitCam is the easiest way to split your webcam video stream. With SplitCam you can video chat with all your friends, SplitCam is also live video streaming software – stream your video to any IMs and video services and all this at the same time!


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Bill would limit reach of US search warrants for data stored abroad – Proposed legislation unveiled Thursday seeks to undermine the Obama administration’s position that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even when that data is stored on overseas servers.

The bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) [PDF] comes in response to a federal judge’s July decision ordering Microsoft to turn over e-mails stored on its Irish servers as part of a Department of Justice drug investigation. The Department of Justice argued that global jurisdiction is necessary in an age when “electronic communications are used extensively by criminals of all types in the United States and abroad, from fraudsters to hackers to drug dealers, in furtherance of violations of US law.” New York US District Judge Loretta Preska agreed, ruling that “it is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information.” The decision is stayed pending appeal.

Microsoft, along with a slew of other companies, maintains that the Obama administration’s position in the case puts US tech companies into conflict with foreign data protection laws. And it fears that if the court decision stands, foreigners could lose more confidence in US companies’ cloud and tech offerings, especially in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

Under the new proposal by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV), the US could still reach into global servers with a US search warrant, but it would be limited to obtaining Americans’ data. If the US government wants a foreigner’s data stored on foreign servers, it would have to follow the legal process of the nation where the servers reside.

Sen. Coons said that the US government’s position in the Microsoft case “hurts our businesses’ competitiveness and costs American jobs.”


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

Android Malware – Take the Security of Your Device Seriously

Guest writer Megan Berry has some timely advice on how you can avoid avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets.

imageRule #1 of Android security: don’t download apps from websites other than Google Play for fear that you unwittingly infect your smartphone or tablet with malware. Well, not surprisingly, cybercriminals found a way to invalidate rule #1.

A security researcher at Symantec recently discovered two apps infected with malware in the app store that were quickly removed. But not before tens of thousands of users downloaded them.

This scenario is particularly troubling for companies with BYOD programs that permit Android devices to connect to their network. How do companies protect corporate assets without taking away employees’ ability to use their favorite mobile devices on the job? Especially since it seems that cybercriminals are always one step ahead of security experts.

Whether you use an Android device at home, on the job, or both, the growing threat of Android malware means it is more important than ever to take the security of your device seriously.

How to avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets

Nothing you can do will guarantee you will never be infected with malware, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk.

· Before downloading an app, do a quick web search to check up on the developer and the app itself. Look for red flags in the search results, such as negative user reviews or complaints, that indicate you need to dig deeper before tapping that “Accept & download” button. Hint: You can visit the developer’s webpage from the app listing.

· Some malicious apps try to hide behind a legitimate brand name. Make sure the name of the developer jives with the title of the app.

· Read the app’s user reviews. Red flags will show up here, too.

· Examine the permissions of the app: are they in line with the app’s intended use? For example, does a news app really need to access your contacts or send text messages?

· IT managers should insist that employees install an Android anti-virus app. Or, better yet, insist that users turn their devices over to IT before they’re allowed to connect to the network for the first time. This way IT can install anti-virus software it has evaluated, configure it properly and enforce its use.

Android anti-virus apps: worth it or not?

The effectiveness of Android anti-virus apps is debatable, though. In a recent study, only a handful of Android anti-virus apps were found to detect most types of threats. The March 2012 study by AV-Test.org rated 23 out of 41 apps effective, or 56%. Of those 23, only 10 detected greater than 90% of known malware types.

Still, the authors of the study say any of the anti-virus apps that were found to detect greater than 65% of known malware types provide adequate protection.

Unpatched system software: Your device’s Achilles’ heel

Even though you’re careful about what apps you install and you run an anti-virus program, your device may still be vulnerable because of unpatched system software.

According to security vendor Duo Security, the speed at which wireless carriers supply updates to their users varies. Therefore, it’s possible for devices to go unprotected for long periods of time. The fragmentation of the Android platform complicates the task of rolling out updates, not to mention the fact that companies have little incentive to fix existing flaws when new devices with the latest system software are already on the shelves.

This is of particular concern for companies that allow their employees to connect their personal Android devices to the company network. It should also be of concern to employees, who may be liable if their device infects their employer’s network – many corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies place the responsibility for keeping devices malware-free squarely on the shoulders of the user.

Duo Security’s new app, X-ray, scans Android devices to discover unpatched flaws in system software. If the app finds a problem, the user can go to Settings>About Phone>System Updates to download the latest version. If an official update isn’t available via System Updates, Duo Security encourages users to contact their carrier for more information, or at the very least, exercise extreme caution when downloading apps.

Individual users can download and install the app from the X-Ray for Android website. Organizations can get an enterprise-level version by emailing the company.

Lesson learned

The lesson here is that unfortunately, it’s no longer safe to assume that just because an app is available from a reputable source, it’s malware-free. And, educating yourself and your users, combined with tried-and-true anti-virus software, is still the best protection against the quickly evolving threat that Android malware presents.

About the Author: Senior writer for IT Manager Daily, Megan covers the latest technology news and trends impacting business.


Filed under Android, Anti-Malware Tools, Guest Writers, Malware Protection

Time For Tor? – An Open Source Anonymous Surfing Application

imageOver the years, I’ve posted more than a few articles on anonymous surfing and the applications, generally free, which makes that possible.

I’ve noted, over that time, that the majority of readers of these article have a Middle East IP – particularly Iran. Little wonder, when one considers the human rights violations committed by this regime. Remaining anonymous online in Iran, could literally be the difference between life and death.

A typical email from an Iranian reader:

Dear Bill

I live in Iran – I need to know news about my hometown, but in Iran we are faced with filtering…very hard filtering. It makes me depressed, but one of my friends introduced your website to me and told me you can help me.

If you think that the crazies who rule Iran, and Syria – just 2 of these Middle East dysfunctional societies), where Internet usage is scrutinized on an individual basis – are the only unhinged and delusional nutters Internet users have to deal with – you’re wrong.

The erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to surf the Internet without government oversight, seems to be happening at an ever increasing pace – everywhere.

In a previous article on anonymous Internet surfing tools (October, 2010), I wrote – “Thankfully, I live in a part of the world where Government censorship of my Internet activities is a non-issue; the Canadian government does not restrict my access to any part of the Internet.

I wish I could go on to say, that I live in a part of the world where the Government has NO interest in my Internet activities, But that, unfortunately, would be like wishing on a star – and, equally as effective.

While I have no faith whatsoever, that those in power will continue to use the gathered information in a restricted, and appropriate fashion – it’s not something that I dwell on. After all, there is nothing I can do about it – so, I’m forced to slot it into my comfort zone.

In the past week however, I’ve been ripped out of my comfort zone, as have most other Canadians, who have revolted against legislation proposed by the quasi-fascist Conservative Party of Canada – the current political party in power (a government elected by only 26% of eligible Canadian voters) – led by Stephen Harper, a fundamentalist Christian, and his minion Vic Toews – another fundamentalist Christian .

In 2008, Toews was divorced by his wife of 30 years, after it was discovered that he had fathered a child with a younger woman – who may have been his child’s babysitter. Just one more example of the “moral right” practicing its favorite pastime – hypocrisy.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews faced a fierce online backlash over Bill C-30, which would require internet service providers to turn over client information to law enforcement agencies without a warrant.<br />
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews faced a fierce online backlash over Bill C-30, which would require internet service providers to turn over client information to law enforcement agencies without a warrant. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The proposed legislation would create  a mandatory surveillance regime. Simply put – unfettered government surveillance directed at Canadian Internet users.

The backlash against this perverted legislation was both immediate, and overwhelming. Canadians have made it clear – they will not allow themselves to be figuratively handcuffed. Frankly, I’ve never seen a political backlash remotely like it. The typically mild mannered and polite Canadian is angry, disgusted, and hell-bent on ensuring this abomination of a legislative bill – never sees the light of day.

Still, until Harper and his gang of throwbacks to the Cro-Magnon era, are thrown out on their asses in the next general election, you might consider adding an anonymous surfing application to your toolbox.

The use of anonymous surfing applications is not restricted to breaking through obstructive Internet barriers of course. There are more obvious reasons, you may have for anonymous surfing, including – surfing in internet cafes, public terminals in libraries, or hotel business centers.

In fact, you may want to surf anonymously on any PC where you don’t want to leave traces of your private surfing activities to ensure protection from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, rogue police services, or curious family members.

One of the most popular anonymous surfing applications  (with good reason), is TOR – a VPN (a virtual private network) that encrypts via an SSH tunnel, in order to safeguard your Internet connection and, protect your anonymity properly.

In this post I won’t review Tor, since I’ve done so a number of times previously. Instead I’ll direct you to the following.

From the site:

What is Tor?

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

Tor works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the TCP protocol.


Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.

Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization.

Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members’ online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers.

Tor is suitable for installation on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, Unix, and Android.

For more information and download, visit the Tor Home Page.


Filed under Anonymous Surfing, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Personal Perspective, Surveillance