Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 13, 2015

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid;  62% of the Top 50 Download.com applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs;  How to Clean Crapware From a New PC;  The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question;  10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity;  Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves;  6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights;  Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3;  Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48;  CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files;  Use free e to ensure your Android device is charging properly;  Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18;  This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer;  How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill;  7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep;  Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP;  SoftPerfect WiFi Guard (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to Clean Crapware From a New PC – A new Windows PC typically comes pre-installed with shovels full of crapware you don’t want. Here’s how to deal with it.

The easy answer to the laptop vs. desktop question: Use a docking station – You can have the power, upgrade options, and ergonomic advantages of a desktop without sacrificing the portability of a laptop.

Don’t Pull a Hillary: 6 Things to Know About Your Work Email Rights – Let us begin this discussion by first acknowledging the following: As an employee, you have entered into an agreement to rent your brain and body to a company in return for a salary. Your HR department may attempt to sugarcoat this sad fact of adulthood with free coffee in the break room or the occasional “Taco Tuesday,” but you are essentially just a replaceable tool your company uses to create a product or provide a service. It is therefore in your company’s interest to get as much out of their tools (i.e. you) as possible. And that often takes the form of monitoring of your digital behavior. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of universal hard-fast rules regarding privacy and employment.

10 Chrome extensions for streamlined, sped-up productivity – While there are plenty of web-based tools and productivity tricks to help you power through tasks in your browser, you can step up and speed up your capabilities even more by grabbing some smart Chrome extensions. These add-ons add more functionality to Chrome for Windows and Chromebook users alike, enabling you to quickly save items to Google Drive, clip articles, or keep tabs on all your social media shares.

Windows 8.1 tablets hitting new lows, MOMO7W 7″ Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $48 – The device, which comes from China (to no surprise), is right at the bottom of the low-end tablets and features a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM. 16GB, HDMI out and SD card slot, and is powered by an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor. Just like the other entry level tablets, this one comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365 which means for less than the price of a stand-alone sub, you can get a tablet too. Microsoft currently charges $99 for a one year subscription to Office 365.


Apple Watch knockoffs hit Chinese shelves – If you are unable to afford a real Apple Watch, knockoffs from China are another option — and they also claim to be more “functional” than the original ones they imitate. One lookalike that’s already for sale on Alibaba’s e-commerce website Taobao.com, the “Airwatch A8 smart wearable watch”, looks hardly any different from the Apple Watch. But its functionality is more diverse. The “latest smartwatch in 2015”, as described by the seller, runs Android OS, can take photos and shoot video, and uses a SIM card for independent voice calling. It also comes preinstalled with popular Chinese apps like WeChat and QQ. The watch, which connects to iPhones as well as other Android-based smartphones via Bluetooth, is only priced at 478 yuan ($76). The official retail price for an Apple Watch Sport (38mm) is 2,588 yuan ($413) in China; five times more than the knockoff’s price.


Apple launches public beta for iOS 8.3 – For the first time ever, Apple is inviting regular users to test out an upcoming iOS update. The company has launched a page where interested iPhone owners can sign up to trial iOS 8.3 before it’s released to all consumers later this year. Apple’s signup page, pictured above, suggests it’s gained valuable feedback by running a public beta of OS X on the desktop, and now it’s extending the program to cover iOS as well.


Use Ampere to ensure your Android device is charging properly – Ever wonder if the USB cable or the AC adapter included with an Android device is faulty? Well, now you can check.


Google releases Chrome extension that replaces blank tabs with works of art – Tired of staring at a white screen every time you open a blank tab in Chrome? Google has released a new extension that replaces Chrome’s utilitarian new tab screen with classic works of art. The extension can either be set to give you a new artwork each day or a new artwork each time you open a tab, all displayed in a way that covers the entirety of the screen.


How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill – Summary:Think you can make a bajillion dollars creating an app? David Gewirtz shows you how to get started. He doesn’t guarantee you’ll make any money, but with this step-by-step guide, at least you’ll know where to begin.


Patch Flash now: Google Project Zero, Intel and pals school Adobe on security 101 – Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday release, Adobe has published security fixes for its Flash Player browser plugin. The March 12 update for the internet’s screen door addresses 11 CVE-listed vulnerabilities. Adobe is listing the patch as a top deployment priority for Windows, OS X and Linux systems. Among the flaws are nine remote-code execution holes, which could be exploited to install malware or take control of a vulnerable system. Adobe said it has not received any reports of the flaws being targeted in the wild thus far – but we all know hackers love seizing these bugs to catch out people who haven’t updated.

Mind the PUP: Top download portals to avoid – We recently researched how many potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) come with the 50 most popular applications on Download.com. Since the results were quite disturbing, we decided to look into the habits of other popular download portals to see if they are any better, or whether it’s better to avoid download portals altogether. Most of them claim to have “clean and safe downloads” and many portals express this on their website. However, trusting any download portal at all is becoming a difficult task for most people due to the rapid growth of bundled PUPs and the software reviews on the sites that often don’t seem objective. We looked into the ten most popular download portals, downloaded their top ten most popular applications to see how many toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other PUPs come with them to see how clean and safe they really are.

62% of the Top 50 Download.com applications bundle toolbars and other PUPs – CNET’s Download.com is considered to be one of, if not, the most popular download portal(s) hosting a conglomerate of different software (free and paid). We recently discussed the top ten methods of how toolbars, adware, homepage hijackers and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) can sneak onto your computer. Potentially unwanted programs are becoming a new epidemic that users must learn face to overcome on a regular basis. In fact, a recent Panda Security study shows that potentially unwanted programs are on the rise resulting in PUPs now comprising 24.77% of total malware infections. A lot of potentially unwanted programs are delivered by installers hosted on download portals such as Download.com. But what kind of programs are frequently bundled and should you look out for? And how many of Download.com’s apps actually contain PUPs? We researched both. First, here is a list of the most commonly bundled PUPs we see through Download.com:

CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files – Crypto-based “ransomware” has become a lucrative business for cybercriminals. Since the arrival of CryptoLocker on the scene last year, a number of copycat malware packages have appeared to compete in the cyber-extortion market, encrypting victims’ photos and other personal files with a key that will be destroyed if they don’t contact the malware’s operators and pay up. Recently, a new variant has emerged that seeks to raise the stakes with a particular class of victim by specifically seeking out files related to a number of popular PC games, as well as Valve’s Steam gaming platform.


This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer – Do not ever use a random USB flash drive. There are plenty software exploits that can ruin your computer or life. And with this flash drive, it can physically destroy your computer by blasting a load of voltage to the USB controller with negative voltage. Think Wile E. Coyote and an ACME Human Cannon. BOOM!


Apple Pay potential security concerns emerge – Summary:A new report suggests that a lapse in verification between banks and Apple Pay allows identity thieves to use CVVs hacked from online stores to link stolen credit card data to an Apple Pay mobile wallet.

Company News:

Yes, Asus cheated: The FCC fined the router maker last year – In the FCC settlement, which you can read here, Asus “admits that its marketing of these intentional radiators violated the Commission’s rules.” The violations, as it turned out, weren’t limited to Asus routers. They also involved the Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101, certain wireless routers, and related wireless products, such as Wi-Fi bridge/range extenders and wireless adapters, according to the FCC Enforcement Bureau. The settlement states that these devices emit radio frequency radiation that’s out of compliance with the FCC’s technical requirements and could interfere with authorized communications.

Microsoft to introduce Skype for Business on March 18, replacing Lync – In a video posted on Facebook this week, Zig Serafin (Corporate Vice President for Skype Business Services) invited users to watch its keynote – which will be live-streamed on March 18 at 10:00h ET, and live-tweeted via @skypebusiness – in which the new Skype for Business product will be officially launched.


Docker scoops up Kitematic for smoother Mac compatibility – Docker has acquired Canadian startup Kitematic, maker of an open-source tool by the same name that makes it easier for developers to install and run Docker on Mac computers. Now a Docker product, the Kitematic tool remains open source and free, said Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kitematic’s staff of three will join Docker’s team in San Francisco.

Ericsson unplugs 2,200 more staff – Ericsson’s move to focus on software is to hit another 2,200 jobs in Sweden, the telco vendor has announced. The cuts focus on roles in R&D and supply, the company’s statement says, but admin and sales roles will also be affected, along with external consultants. The vendor says R&D remains important, but reducing the number of product lines in its key market provided the impetus for slimming down in the home territory.

Lyft gets a lift with $530 million funding round – Lyft has raised $530 million in a new round of funding led by Japan-based e-commerce giant Rakuten. The new round brings Lyft’s total venture investment since its founding in 2012 to more than $860 million. In its announcement Wednesday, Lyft didn’t say what valuation its funding round was based on, but The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported on the news, says the cash infusion came on a valuation of more than $2.5 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

Video Game Industry Enjoys Big Month – The video game industry had a terrific February with games, hardware, and accessories all enjoying sales increases for combine sales of $956 million for the month, the NPD Group reported Thursday. Growth in all three categories amounted to an 8 percent year-over-year sales increase from the same month a year ago, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.

Rovio Launches New Bubble Shooter, Angry Birds Stella POP! – Get your slingshots ready, Angry Birds fans. Your favorite pink bird Stella is back for another adventure. Rovio on Thursday launched Angry Birds Stella POP!, a new puzzle game for iOS and Android devices, which marks the flock’s first foray into the bubble shooter genre. The game takes all the feisty characters from Angry Birds Stella on a journey of strategic bubble matching and popping.


Frozen 2 announced by Disney – It’s officially time to start preparing for Frozen 2. While Elsa hasn’t confirmed her return to the role, Olaf and Anna have – Disney has confirmed that development is really, actually underway. This comes after denial from directors / writers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck suggesting that there’s no sequel – none so far – now Disney has confirmed the inevitable. This bit of information came in the same Disney shareholders call that gave us information about Star Wars VIII and Star Wars Rogue One, two more full-powered Star Wars movies on the way.


Titanfall’s sequel won’t be a Microsoft exclusive – With its giant robots and fast, approachable gameplay, the original Titanfall was a refreshing take on the multiplayer first-person shooter. But it wasn’t available to everyone, launching exclusively on Microsoft platforms including the Xbox One, 360, and PC. That’s about to change: IGN reports that the sequel will be coming to the PS4 in addition to the PC and Xbox One. “It’ll be multiplatform,” Respawn CEO Vince Zampella said.


Netflix Tops Amazon as U.S. Streaming Favorite – Let’s face it, there are a lot of ways to watch video at home: TV, cable, on-demand, rentals, and of course, streaming. According to the latest stats from Nielsen, Netflix is the most popular way to stream your favorite shows and movies, with about 36 percent of U.S. households subscribing. Quite a bit behind that is Amazon Prime Instant Video at 13 percent, with Hulu Plus pulling in at just 6.5 percent.

SteamOS Hits Major Milestone – Steam now boasts more than 1,000 gaming titles for Linux, and therefore, SteamOS. Everything from indie games to AAA titles are available from the service. Best yet, even more titles are regularly popping up, with 14 games launching this week alone. Steam launched its Linux efforts in early 2013 with just 50 games and took a year to hit 500 titles. Now the game count is at 1004 and climbs to 1835 if downloadable content like DLCs and expansion packs are included.

Off Topic (Sort of):

7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep – There might be a hidden reason you’re so grouchy. In our seemingly always-on society, there’s great temptation to shortchange sleep. But sleep is a vital driver of every physiological system in the human body, and when we’re deprived of shuteye, health and wellbeing can suffer in myriad ways. Here, 7 signs it’s time to start heading to bed a little earlier.

BBC will give every Year 7 student in the UK a free Micro Bit computer – The BBC launched a flagship initiative today that aims to get a new generation excited about technology. The Make It Digital campaign will provide students in Year 7 (that’s around 11 years old) with a small microcomputer that will allow them to learn the basics of coding. The microcomputer, nicknamed the Micro Bit, will be a standalone, entry-level coding device with an LED display that students can plug into any computer. It will be able to communicate with more advanced devices like the Arduino, Galileo, Kano, and Raspberry Pi, as well as other Micro Bits. The initiative is a response to what the BBC is calling a “significant skills shortage” in the UK’s digital fields.



New Macbook parody video cuts through Apple’s reality distortion field – Apple’s reveal of the new, thinnest and lightest ever MacBook earlier this week was met with the usual “ooohs and aaahs” by the media and fans of Apple products. But it also managed to raise a few eyebrows, and quietly a lot of people must be thinking “$1,299 for that?” Then this parody video appeared, and it cuts right through the marketing and hits home exactly what the new MacBook is, while adding a healthy dose of humor along the way. You may want to turn the sound down a little before clicking play, though.


Texas Is About to Let College Students Carry Guns on Campus – The Texas state legislature is moving forward on a bill that would reverse the strict ban on concealed weapons at state universities, allowing gun owners with concealed-carry permits to carry their firearms around campus. The legislation is expected to clear the state Senate next week, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has promised to expedite its passage. “Regarding the Second Amendment, our first priority is to pass campus carry this session,” he wrote in a recent Facebook post. “I am an avid gun owner, was endorsed by the NRA with an ‘A rating,’ and have a 100% voting record on second amendment issues for over 8 years.”

Non-invasive ultrasound restores memory in Alzheimer’s mice – A team of researchers at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research have successfully restored memory function in mice using the drug-free, non-invasive technology to break down the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that cause memory loss and loss of cognitive function. “We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” said CJCADR director Professor Jürgen Götz. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often mis-used, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”

Watch President Obama Read Mean Tweets About Himself on Jimmy Kimmel – With his approval rating hovering below 50%, there’s no shortage of Americans who take issue with President Barack Obama. The Commander in Chief faced the music on Thursday night when he appeared on the famed #MeanTweets segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live to read some of the more comical musings about his performance as President and his decision to wear “THOSE jeans.”


Here’s How to Scientifically Train Your Mind to Be Happy – Training your mind to look for errors and problems (as happens in careers like accounting and law) can lead you toward a pervasive pessimism that carries over into your personal life. Why are lawyers 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression and more likely to end up divorced? They have trained their minds to seek out the bad in life because pessimists excel at law. Is there a way to get your mind out of these negative loops? Yes. You must train your brain to seek out the good things in life:

Something to think about:

“Before me were the CEO, the CIO, the CFO, the CTO and the vice presidents of sales, marketing, support and operations. I told them that I had been working in security long enough to know what sorts of things work. There’s the rule of least privilege, which enforces access controls based on granting only those privileges that any individual needs. There’s security awareness and the idea that changing employees’ behavior is one of the most crucial ingredients of strong security. There’s the acknowledgment that we’re only as strong as our weakest link. There’s the all-important realization that security is a process, not a point solution.”

–      Mathias Thurman

Today’s Free Downloads:

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.


Screenshot from a personal system

Prey – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

How it works – Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it. Next


100% geolocation aware

Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect

If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather

Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy

Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements

Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe

Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access

Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware

Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Full auto updater

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cory Doctorow: Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens –  Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between the NSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

Spying, especially domestic spying, is an aspect of what the Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles calls guard labour: work that is done to stabilise property relationships, especially the property belonging to the rich.

The amount a state needs to expend on guard labour is a function of how much legitimacy the state holds in its population’s reckoning. A state whose population mainly views the system as fair needs to do less coercion to attain stability. People who believe that they are well-served by the status quo will not work to upset it. States whose populations view the system as illegitimate need to spend more on guard labour.

How Easy It Is To Spy These Days, In One Graphic – Ashkan Soltani, a privacy and security researcher who has been working with the Washington Post on the Snowden files, has published a graphic that illustrates how technology has greatly reduced the barriers to performing surveillance.

Soltani included the graph in a paper published in the Yale Law Journal that explores how this situation erodes Americans’ privacy protections under the Fourth Amendment and what can be done to protect them.

The cost comparison involves the several location surveillance techniques of physical pursuit by foot and in vehicles, location tracking using a radio beeper, a GPS device, or a cell phone.

A few examples for understanding the chart:

Tracking a suspect using a GPS device is 28 times cheaper than assigning officers to follow him.

Tracking a suspect using cell phone data is 53 times cheaper than physical covert pursuit.

Tracking a cell phone is twice as cheap as using a GPS device.


U.K. Parliamentary Inquiry Calls For New Legal Framework To Govern Spy Agencies – In a report published today, the U.K. parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has called for a new single act of Parliament to govern how domestic spy agencies operate with the aim of improving transparency and public trust. It dubs its report “an important first step towards greater transparency”.

The 149-page report is the cumulation of a year long inquiry by the committee, set against the backdrop of ongoing revelations derived from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (some of which have specifically pertained to the U.K. GCHQ spy agency), with the aim of examining the operations of the UK intelligence and security agencies — looking specifically at (in the committee’s own words):

the range of intrusive capabilities currently available to the Agencies;

how those capabilities are used, and the scale of that use;

the extent to which the capabilities intrude on privacy; and

most importantly, the legal authorities and safeguards that regulate their use

The committee claims to have found no evidence of U.K. government agencies seeking to circumvent the law, but does flag up what it says is a “lack of clarity in the existing legislation” — pointing to this as having “fuelled suspicion” about agencies’ activities.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 20, 2015

iPhone users: How your government spies on you;  The essential guide to buying a HomePlug Ethernet adapter;  You Asked: What Is Bluetooth?  How to set Windows desktop items as public or private;  Five handy apps for booking a ride;  9 moviemaking apps;  Evernote apps: Hands-on with its handiest homegrown tools;  Fedora 21 review: Linux’s sprawliest distro finds a new focus;  Has The Antivirus Industry Gone Mad?!  Here’s How To Go Completely Paperless This Year;  Adventure Time Game Wizard: DIY game building;  Obama backs Cameron’s fight against encryption;  Security problems need to be made public: Linus Torvalds.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

People are increasingly worried about privacy and lax legal protections – In 11 of the 12 countries surveyed as part of a report published by Microsoft on Monday, respondents said that technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative. Most concerned were people in Japan and France, where 68 percent of the respondents thought technology has had a mostly negative impact on privacy. A majority want better legal protections and say the rights of Internet users should be governed by local laws irrespective of where companies are based.

iPhone users: How your government spies on you – The iPhone is by far the most secure device around. But please don’t be complacent, as criminals, governments and criminal governments work really hard to subvert device security, no back door required. Now Der Spiegel has revealed additional techniques in its latest leak from Edward Snowden, a GCHQ document called “iPhone target analysis and exploitation with unique device identifiers.” This shows agencies have been using device UDID numbers to help them keep track of individuals who may have hit their surveillance lists. These surveillance lists seem rather extensive: In 2012, activist hackers from AntiSec published 1,000,001 UDIDs, saying these were extracted from a list of 12 million UDID numbers they had stolen from the FBI.

You Asked: What Is Bluetooth? – Bluetooth is a radio signal engineered to jump around between 42 different channels, hundreds of times per second, making it less likely it would interfere with Wi-Fi networks or cordless phones. In addition, that frequency-hopping also helps to make Bluetooth connections very secure. On top of that, the technology has government-grade encryption baked into it, making it nearly impossible to hack.

The essential guide to buying a HomePlug Ethernet adapter (including 6 hands-on reviews) – Wi-Fi may be the most popular networking technology, but sometimes even the fastest wireless connection just doesn’t hack it. Perhaps the signal can’t get to the farthest reaches of your home or office, or maybe there are so many wireless networks competing for limited bandwidth that the Netflix movie you’re streaming keeps freezing or stuttering. Ethernet is still the gold standard for wired networks, but few people have the cabling built into their walls, and even fewer are willing to tear up their walls to install it. Fortunately, you probably already have all the infrastructure you need to set up a wired network: The electrical circuitry in most homes and small offices can do the job. All you need to set up a power-line network are small adapters that plug into any wall outlet and connect via a cable to the Ethernet port of a network device.


Five handy apps for booking a ride – You don’t have to unleash an earsplitting whistle to hail a cab. These smartphone apps offer a simple (and quieter) way to arrange a ride. Before we get started, I want to pass along one bit of advice: It’s a good idea to check the geographic service area prior to downloading an app. Many of the apps that are available work only in specific countries or specific cities.

How to set Windows desktop items as public or private – Desktop sharing and privacy is actually pretty simple, but it’s not well known. Unless you know the trick, you can’t control which items will appear only on your desktop, and which will appear on everyone’s desktop. The shortcuts and other files that show up on the desktop do so because they’re in a Desktop folder. (And yes, shortcuts are files—small files that point to other files.) But your PC has more than one Desktop folder, and therein lies the trick of creating public and private desktop shortcuts.

How dating app Grindr makes it easy to stalk 5 million gay men – Mobile dating apps have revolutionized the pursuit of love and sex by allowing people not only to find like-minded mates but to identify those who are literally right next door, or even in the same bar, at any given time. That convenience is a double-edge sword, warn researchers. To prove their point, they exploited weaknesses in Grindr, a dating app with more than five million monthly users, to identify users and construct detailed histories of their movements. As a result, geographic locations of Grindr users in the US and most other places can be tracked down to the very park bench where they happen to be having lunch or bar where they’re drinking and monitored almost continuously, according to research scheduled to be presented Saturday at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington, DC. Grindr officials declined to comment for this post beyond what they said in posts here and here published more than four months ago.

Evernote apps: Hands-on with its handiest homegrown tools – Evernote is a note taker, a Web clipper, and most recently, a collaboration tool. Evernote also offers a handful of apps that tack extra talents onto the cloud service. We’ll delve into the raft of third-party Evernote apps in future columns, but for now, let’s look at the home-grown offerings, starting with one that’s just for photos.

The pplkpr App Wants To Tell You Which Friends Are Better To Hang With – Don’t know how you feel about someone in your life? By pairing a heart rate monitor with the pplkpr iOS app, you could soon find out. The app pairs up with any Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor to track your physical response around certain people in your life. Biofeedback from those devices log reactions such as joy, anger, sadness, and then uploads what it determines to be those emotional reactions to the app. pplkpr then decides if certain people stress you out or help calm you down and suggests un-friending, avoiding or blocking negative people. It can also delete contacts it determines to be bad for you.


9 moviemaking apps – Do you picture yourself as an iPhone filmmaker, an Android auteur? In awards season, we sit back and critique other people’s films, and if those Golden Globes and Oscar nominees have inspired or irritated you — or if you simply want to level up from shooting home videos — take a shot at making your own movie. We’ve scouted nine affordable, time-saving, feature-rich apps to help you script, storyboard, shoot, and edit.

Fedora 21 review: Linux’s sprawliest distro finds a new focus – Like most Linux distros, Fedora is a massive, sprawling project. Frankly, it’s sprawl-y to the point that it has felt unfocused and a bit lost at times. Just what is Fedora? The distro has served as a kind of showcase for GNOME 3 ever since GNOME 3 hit the beta stage. So Fedora in theory is meant to target everyday users, but at the same time the project pours tremendous energy into building developer tools like DevAssistant. Does that make Fedora a developer distro? A newbie-friendly GNOME showcase? A server distro? An obscure robotics distro? Today, the answer to all the above questions is “yes.” And the way to make sense of it all is what Fedora calls Fedora.Next.


GNOME’s Software app in Fedora 21.

How to teach contact names and relationships to Siri and Google Now – Help Google Now and Siri sift through your contacts faster by by assigning special names and relationships to your most important or frequent contacts.


Facebook to add voice transcription to Messenger – Facebook has announced that it is trying out its voice to text product in Messenger with selected users before rolling it out across the platform.

Here’s How To Go Completely Paperless This Year – The first month of 2015 is quickly coming to a close, but if you’ve already tossed aside your New Year’s resolution of cutting back on paper, it’s not to late to grab it before it flies away. In fact, the time has never been better: your first bills of the year are starting to trickle in, and tax time is just about to begin. These five tech-fueled tips can help you to organize your statements, wrangle your receipts, and electronically file your personal documents, so you can cut paper out of your daily routine, now and forever.


Oracle E-Business suite wide open to database attack – Clear some time in you diary and drink an extra coffee, sysadmins: a top hacker has warned that Oracle will tomorrow patch a horror bug that needs urgent attention. Datacom TSS hacker David Litchfield told The Reg he has reported to Oracle that versions of its E-Business suite contain a “major” misconfiguration flaw that allowed anyone to fully compromise the database server. Litchfield told The Reg that the hole is a “real doozy” that could not be explained by Oracle. “The technical details are that the PUBLIC role has been granted the INDEX privilege on the DUAL table owned by SYS,” Litchfield told Vulture South.

Has The Antivirus Industry Gone Mad?! – We have seen a concerning trend that is about to spiral out of control: Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) are further on the rise. What’s even more concerning is how they are spreading. After big vendors as Oracle (Java) and Microsoft (Bing and Skype) started bundling, now antivirus vendors have joined the game. We did research on some of the most popular PUP practices among the freeware antivirus vendors, and the results are quite disturbing. PUPs want to get on your computer to make money off of you First, lets quickly recap what PUPs are and why they’re spreading like wildfire.


Two big bugs in VLC media player’s core library – A Turkish hacker has revealed two zero-day vulnerabilities in library code used by the popular VLC media player and others. The data execution prevention (CVE-2014-9597) and write access (CVE-2014-9598) violation vulnerabilities could lead to arbitrary code execution, researcher Veysel Hatas said in a post. “VLC Media Player contains a flaw that is triggered as user-supplied input is not properly sanitised when handling a specially crafted FLV” or M2V file, Hatas said. “This may allow a context-dependent attacker to corrupt memory and potentially execute arbitrary code.” He said both were high severity holes. Version 2.2.0-rc2, available to testers, is not vulnerable, according to the VLC project’s bug tracker.

Microsoft Outlook Hacked In China, New Report Finds – Only a few weeks after Google’s Gmail service was blocked in China, a new report from online censorship monitoring organization GreatFire.org released this morning states that Microsoft’s email system Outlook was recently subjected to a “man-in-the-middle” attack in China. This is a form of eavesdropping where the attacker inserts himself in between the victims’ connections, relaying messages between them while the victims’ continue believe they have a secure, private connection. Meanwhile, the attacker is able to read all the content they’re sharing. The attack continued for a about a day, and has since stopped, the report states.

U.S. Hacked North Korea Before North Korea Hacked U.S. – Ever wonder why President Obama so quickly and sure-footedly accused North Korea of hacking into Sony servers? Turns out, the United States had actually hacked into North Korean computer networks back in 2010, giving the government more confidence in their determination of the situation. This begs the question: why wasn’t the NSA able to prevent the Sony hack altogether?

NSA: We’re in YOUR BOTNET – The NSA quietly commandeered a botnet targeting US Defence agencies to attack other victims including Chinese and Vietnamese dissidents, Snowden documents reveal. The “Boxingrumble” botnet was detected targeting the Defence Department’s Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network prompting NSA bods to redirect the attack to a server operated by the Tailored Access Operations unit. A DNS spoofing attack tricked the botnet into treating the spies as trusted command and control agents. The NSA then used the bot’s hooks into other victims to foist its own custom malware.

Company News:

How much does Microsoft make from PC makers with Windows 8.1? – Microsoft is making Windows 8.1 available to its PC partners for anywhere from ‘zero dollars’ to $15 per copy, according to recently disclosed OEM licensing information.


Amazon is going to produce its own movies and release them in theaters – On Monday Amazon said it would begin to produce and acquire feature films for theatrical release that it would then stream on Amazon Prime four to eight weeks after the theatrical debut. Amazon said its goal was to cut down the 39 to 52 weeks it usually takes for theatrical releases to make it to streaming services. Amazon, for its own part, said it planned to produce 12 movies a year. The new model will challenge not only the entertainment industry, whose customers have grown to expect long windows between a movie’s release and its availability on other mediums, but also its own competitors in the content streaming space. Netflix is the most well-known streaming service that also produces its own original content.

Google said close to $1bn SpaceX investment – Google is reportedly near to splashing a considerable amount of cash on SpaceX, Elon Musk’s ambitious space exploration company, as part of a funding round that would value the company at more than $10bn. SpaceX has already begun running unmanned resupply missions to the International Space Station, and is currently testing reusable rocket technology that could potentially slash the cost of putting people, satellites, and other cargo into orbit, or even further beyond, such as a manned mission to Mars that Musk continues to promise. According to insiders, with Google’s own space plans stumbling, the next best thing is a slice of SpaceX.

Twitter Confirms Acquisition Of India’s Missed Call Marketing Platform ZipDial – Last week TechCrunch reported Twitter was in final talks to acquire ZipDial for between $30 million and $40 million, and today the company announced the deal has closed. ZipDial allows people to call a special phone number for a business, hang up before they incur a charge, and then receive a phone call or SMS with information about the business. This “missed call” marketing platform allows people to access content for free, which is especially useful in the developing world where many can’t afford data plans.

Uber woos European cities with the promise of 50,000 new jobs in 2015 – Uber Technologies has promised 50,000 new jobs in Europe from its service in 2015 alone, in an overture to get more cities on the continent to approve its ride-hailing service. “We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with EU cities,” Uber CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick said at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in Munich on Sunday. Kalanick said his company could take 400,000 cars off the road this year, and reduce congestion and emissions in Europe, by expanding its ride-sharing service, UberPool, and by efficient routing of cars.

Chinese LTE boosts ZTE to nearly double yearly profit – Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE has increased its total profit by 98 percent while only bumping up its revenue by 8 percent.

Games and Entertainment:

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell gameplay first impressions – Review time is nearly upon us, but we got the game a bit later than expected. Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a game we’re going to give a little bit more time to than the less-than-a-day we’ve had with it thus far – but for now, here’s some gameplay to skewer your eyeballs with. This game takes what we knew about the game it jumps off from: Saints Row IV, and drops it all into a pit of despair. You had super powers in Saints Row IV, now you’ve got what amounts to magic. This game is decidedly more metal.


Hatred gets Adults Only rating, making console, Steam release unlikely – The rating was disclosed by one of the game’s developers on its official forum, which expressed surprise that the title did not get the more lenient Mature (M) rating, writing “Well, I’m not quite convinced why Hatred got AO rating while it lacks any sexual content, but it’s still some kind of achievement to have the second game in history getting AO rating for violence and harsh language only.” Hatred is in fact the third game to receive an AO rating for violence alone, with both Thrill Kill and Manhunt 2 also receiving that evaluation. Thrill Kill, however, had its release cancelled after Electronic Arts bought its publisher and objected to its content. The rating is similarly problematic for games that see boxed retail sales; major retailers like Walmart, Gamestop, and Target refuse to stock AO games.

Face-Stabbing and Cop-Killing: Inside 2015’s Most Controversial Video Game – Destructive Creations’ Hatred has drawn plenty of criticism for the fact that its main character, a big hairy man, seems intent on killing innocent civilians for no particular reason.


PS4 Remote Play Shines On The Xperia Z3 With The DualShock 4 Game Control Mount – The PlayStation 4 is a platform that keeps giving, thanks to frequent software updates from Sony. Remote Play for Xperia mobile devices is one such gift, and it works very well on the Xperia Z3, Sony’s latest flagship smartphone. The Remote Play app is available now via the Google Play Store for compatible Xperia devices, and anyone who as both one of those and a PS4 at home should grab it.


Adventure Time Game Wizard: DIY game building made super simple – This week the folks at Cartoon Network are bringing some heat to the mobile gaming worlds of both iOS and Android. They’re bringing a game by the name of Adventure Time Game Wizard – working with the Adventure Time cartoon series as a theme and the old-school side-scrolling skeleton of the original Mario Bros as innards. Here we’re finding just about the easiest-to-work-with platform for creating game levels we’ve ever seen. With the added bonus of Adventure Time, of course – that only makes things more slap-happy!


AI Mario listens and learns from voice commands – A team of German researchers built a brain for Mario, allowing him to feel happiness, fear, curiosity, and hunger.


Rockstar offers free game with GTA V pre-order on PC – For GTA V, we were expecting it to arrive for PC on January 27, but last week Rockstar pushed the release date back to March 24. With the wait to play now extended by several weeks, Rockstar is keen to grab as many pre-orders as possible, so it is offering a deal if you order the game direct this month. If you visit the Rockstar Warehouse online store and pre-order the game (at full RRP I should add) by February 1st, Rockstar will throw in $1.3 million of in-game credit split between GTA V ($500,000) and GTA Online ($800,000). On top of that you’ll get to select a free digital download game from a selection of 11 titles.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Security problems need to be made public: Linus Torvalds – Summary:The creator of the Linux kernel and Git has said that security issues should be publicly disclosed, not swept under the rug where vendors can leave them unsolved for years.

Courts Ill-Equipped To Police Cyber Threats And Cyberbullying In The Anonymous Age – Hardly a week goes by without another story of cyber threats against our public institutions or cyberbullying against our youth, often with significant costs to businesses, public service providers or innocent young victims. The surprising fact is that the majority of cyber threats are perpetrated by adolescent boys, while cyberbullying is perpetrated by groups of two or more adolescent or pre-adolescent girls. While the more extreme cyber threats and cyberbully stories make the headlines, the costs to businesses, public facilities and youth often go unaccounted for. These stories demonstrate the need for more informed and remedial measures by our legislatures and judicial system.

The Chinese have 3-D printed an entire mansion, and it looks awesome – While 3-D printing buildings is not exactly new, the Chinese at Winsun have taken it to a whole new level by making two large constructions that are almost entirely 3-D printed.


Psychiatric illnesses have more in common than we thought — which could be good news for treatment – Schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder have more in common than previously thought. Not only are they linked through shared genes, the genetic mutations associated with them also work together to govern immunity, brain signaling, and genome function later in life, according to a Nature Neuroscience study. The new finding may mean that only one drug will be required to treat all these disorders in the future. This is the first study to show the genetic overlap between psychiatric disorders leads to meaningful paths for treatment, says Peter Holmans, a biostatistician at King’s College London and a co-author the study. Essentially, it translates the genetic information into a roadmap for drug discovery.

Selfie photobomb causes international incident at Miss Universe – Technically Incorrect: The contestants are gathered in Miami for Miss Universe. Israel and Lebanon are still at war. This is not the time for modern diplomacy. Can a selfie cause an international incident? Yes, it can.


The offending image, as posted to Instagram by Miss Israel. Doron Matalon/Instagram screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

10 good reasons why working remotely makes sense – Remote work, flextime, career sabbaticals, and zero-hours contracts are all types of flexible work. But it’s remote work that’s disrupting the traditional tech industry 9-to-5 grind. Here’s why.

Something to think about:

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

–    Martin Luther King Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

ChrisPC Win Experience Index – ChrisPC Win Experience Index is the free tool that lets you rate your computer and check again the Windows Experience Index on your Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 installation, giving you the possibility to view the CPU, RAM, HDD scores or re-run the Windows benchmark tests.

You wonder what gaming or graphical processing power unleashes your PC/Laptop hardware? Just get the Windows indexing scores calculated by Windows using ChrisPC Win Experience Index.

Get back Windows Experience Index on your Windows 8.1 installation!

You want to have the latest Windows version 8.1 and also to be able to check your Windows Experience Index ?

From now on is quite simple, just install ChrisPC Win Experience Index software and you will get back the Windows interface that you are already familiar from Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Totally convenient, ChrisPC Win Experience Index runs on any Windows version on 32 or 64 bits, but aims to be used mainly for Windows 8.1.

ChrisPC Win Experience Index has many key features like:

– Brings back the Windows Experience Index to Windows 8.1.

– Rate your computer on Windows 8.1 with 1 click.

– Fast access to Windows Experience Index scores on Windows 7, 8, 8.1.

– See your computer ratings for CPU, Memory, Storage Disk, Graphics, Gaming.

– Re-run assessments with a single click on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

– Simple and intuitive interface.

The Windows Experience Index measures the capability of your computer’s hardware and software configuration and expresses this measurement as a number called a base score. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.

When you’re shopping for a new PC, the Windows Experience Index can help you find the model that suits your needs. Scoring a PC you already own can help pinpoint slower components worth upgrading.


Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) – FEBE allows you to quickly and easily backup your Firefox extensions. In fact, it goes beyond just backing up — It will actually rebuild your extensions individually into installable .xpi files. Now you can easily synchronize your office and home browsers.

FEBE backs up and restores your extensions, themes, and (optionally) your bookmarks, preferences, cookies. and much more.

Backup as little or as much of your Firefox environment as you wish. Perform backups on demand or schedule daily, weekly, or monthly unattended runs. Sequential backups can be stored in timestamped directories so you can restore back as far as you like.

You may specify “User-defined” items to have FEBE backup Thunderbird, Greasemonkey scripts, or virtually any data on your computer – Firefox related or not.


NirLauncher – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years.


NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without need of any installation.

NirLauncher and all the utilities in the package are completely freeware, without any Spyware/Adware/Malware.

NirLauncher package includes variety of tools that you may need for your daily computer use, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When using it from USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically run the x64 version of the utility, when there is a separated x64 version.

NirLauncher also allows to add more software packages in additional to the main NirSoft package.


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New radar lets law enforcement peek into homes – Privacy is a growing concern for many as technology — and the snooping it enables — continues to grow. It’s no surprise, then, that concerns have been raised about a new radar technology that provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to “see” through the walls of one’s home from the outside — something sensitive enough to pick up breathing and motion, and to identify the approximate location of anyone inside. Police have been silently acquiring and utilizing the technology for more than two years, spurring complaints. The use of the technology entered public awareness last month when a legal case in Denver included the revelation that law enforcement had employed the technology sans a search warrant.

Obama backs Cameron’s fight against encryption – Flip-flopping somewhat on his earlier stance against putting backdoors in software, US President Barack Obama took UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s side in telling tech companies to give government agencies access to encrypted devices and communication. Of course, all in the aid of the fight against terrorism and in the interests of national security. The calls from the world’s top government leaders came after two recent incidents that are directly related or being linked to encryption: the hacking of Sony computers last year and the shooting at newspaper Charlie Hebdo this month.

Pointing up    Are you one of the countless shepple who are satisfied with the  2+2=5 political dogma, pushed out by these two perpetual war advocates – a political dogma that has replaced common sense in their shadow world?

The two most dangerous men in the world collaborate, yet again, on their ever expanding schemes to deprive the masses of their few remaining privacy rights, and you sit there –right there – on your arse!

Satisfied, are you, in handing over what little is left of your democracy to your children and grandchildren?

You should be ashamed that you don’t take a forceful and active role in protecting the rights, freedoms and obligations, your forebearers sacrificed to establish, expand, and preserve.

Get off your arse and advocate for change!! What the hell is wrong with you?

Ex-CIA Officer John Kiriakou Speaks – John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee to go to prison in connection with the agency’s torture program. Not because he tortured anyone, but because he revealed information on torture to a reporter.

Kiriakou is the Central Intelligence Agency officer who told ABC News in 2007 that the CIA waterboarded suspected al-Qaeda prisoners after the September 11 attacks, namely Abu Zubaydah, thought to be a key al Qaeda official. Although he felt at the time that waterboarding probably saved lives, Kiriakou nevertheless came to view the practice as torture and later claimed he unwittingly understated how many times Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding.

In January 2012, Kiriakou was charged by the Justice Department for allegedly and repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists. The Justice Department accused Kiriakou of disclosing the identity of a CIA officer involved in Zubaydah’s capture to a freelance reporter. The reporter did not publicly reveal the official’s name, but his name did appear on a website in October 2012. Kiriakou also allegedly provided New York Times reporter Scott Shane information on CIA employee Deuce Martinez, who was involved in Zubaydah’s capture and interrogation.

After agreeing to a plea deal in October 2012, Kiriakou was sentenced in January 2013 to 30 months in prison. That sentence made him the second CIA employee ever to be locked up under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which bars the release of the name of a covert agent; the first was Sharon Scranage, who in 1985 pled guilty to disclosing the identities of intelligence agents in Ghana after giving classified information to a Ghanaian, reportedly her lover.

Kiriakou is is scheduled for early transfer out of federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania on February 3. In a wide-ranging phone interview with The Intercept, Kiriakou, 50, shared his thoughts on the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation techniques, on his incarceration, and on his future after prison.

Feds operated yet another secret metadata database until 2013 – In a new court filing, the Department of Justice revealed that it kept a secret database of telephone metadata—with one party in the United States and another abroad—that ended in 2013.

The three-page partially-redacted affidavit from a top Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, which was filed Thursday, explained that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use “administrative subpoenas” to obtain business records and other “tangible things.” The affidavit does not specify which countries records were included, but specifically does mention Iran.

This database program appears to be wholly separate from the National Security Agency’s metadata program revealed by Edward Snowden, but it targets similar materials and is collected by a different agency. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Friday that this newly-revealed program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013.

How the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Apparatus Is Being Turned on Protesters – Activists organizing protests against police brutality in New York are marking Martin Luther King Day with a march beginning in Harlem. Some attendees might be surprised along the way to encounter officers in blue jackets with the words “NYPD Counter Terrorism” emblazoned on the back. But Linda Sarsour, a prominent Muslim-American activist and member of the anti-police brutality group Justice League NYC, one of the sponsors of the march, is almost used to it by now.

As head of the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour has been a leader in the fight against police misconduct. Much of her energy has gone into speaking out against the NYPD’s expansive spying program that since 9/11 has targeted Muslims and activists. She’s part of a broad coalition trying to change policies ranging from surveillance to ” broken windows” policing, the philosophy that going after minor offenses will deter serious crime.

“When I see counterterrorism folks amongst protesters, it sends me a message that I’m the enemy, and that they are trying to keep other New Yorkers safe from those protesting for their civil rights,” said Sarsour. “It vilifies the people who are being peaceful and asking for something they should already have, asking for things like ending of police brutality.”


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 11, 2014

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster;  9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying;  Five data recovery tools that could save the day;  Google publishes free Android Lollipop how-to guide;  When your Ethernet won’t connect;  You can finally fix Instagram caption goofs;  How to Curb an Online Porn Addiction;  Acer is giving away one month of free international Skype calls;  5 quick tips – Google Calendar app;  All US Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers;  The Top Four Android Threats;  Dragon Age Inquisition Review: This Is the One You’ve Been Waiting For;  Target Tips Black Friday Deals;  President Obama Calls For A Free And Open Internet;  Germany tops table of Facebook data requests.

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster – Fortunately, there are a slew of ways to breathe new life into an older PC that’s starting to feel a little pokey. Even better: Most are outright free, a couple of (still low-cost) hardware upgrades aside. Sure, these tweaks and tips aren’t as thrilling as booting up a brand new PC for the first time—but they’ll let you continue to get the job done with the gear you already have.

Five data recovery tools that could save the day – There are a lot of ways to lose critical data — like hardware failure, an OS crash, a user error, or a malicious attack. If it happens to you, one of these tools may help you get that data back.

9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying – Facebook is giving users more control over what kind of posts show up in the News Feed, which is controlled by a secret Facebook algorithm and shows a small fraction of all available posts each day. Spending just a few minutes navigating the social network’s settings menus can make Facebook a less chaotic experience and ensure that your data remains more private. After trawling through Facebook’s hundreds of settings options, TIME compiled this list of tips to help you get the most out of your time on the world’s largest social network:

When your Ethernet won’t connect – A wired connection should be simple plug-and-play, but all too often that’s not the case. Here’s what to do if your ethernet connection seems dead.

Google publishes free Android Lollipop how-to guide in Play Store – The Android Quick Start Guide is a free download on Google Play Books that outlines basic Android Lollipop features, such as connecting your Google account, setting up a security screen, and how to track down a missing device with Android Device Manager. It also details the new Messenger app that now handles SMS and MMS (which still work with Hangouts if that’s your preference). The book also gives cursory mention of Android Auto and Android TV.

Microsoft’s Black Friday deals start today, $99 HP Stream 7 with Windows 8.1 – Microsoft has released their Black Friday deals and the savings start today with an HP Stream 7 that is on-sale for only $99; it’s also a ‘Signature Edition’ too, which means no bloatware.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Target Tips Black Friday Deals on iPad, Xbox One, GoPro – This Black Friday, Target is running deals on some of the hottest gadgets of the season, including the Apple iPad, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and GoPro Hero 3+. The deals will be available on Target.com on Thanksgiving morning for those who want to shop early. Target will officially open its doors to Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m.

‘Snail Mail My Email’ converts your digital message into a letter and mails it for free – For one week only, ‘Snail Mail My Email’ is converting your digital message into a handwritten letter and send it out anywhere in the world for free; the project will end on November 16, 2014.


You can finally fix Instagram caption goofs – Instagram has always been about sharing the moment, but the inability to edit captions once posted has also made it a frustrating way to share typos, too. Happily an update today is addressing that, with caption editing now supported on both iOS and Android so that any goofs, last-minute hashtag addition, or other essential tweaks can be made without having to delete the whole photo and post it again from scratch. Meanwhile, Instagram is also making it easier to find new people, by building out the Explore page.


Acer is giving away one month of free international Skype calls – Have friends living across the border? Have family that are currently traveling? Read this to learn how to get your voucher for one month’s free unlimited international Skype calls, courtesy of Acer.

Facebook racks up 500 million Messenger users after making people use Messenger – Facebook’s move to spin off messages into a separate app was an unpopular one, but a success nonetheless. Facebook Messenger now has 500 million monthly active users, more than doubling the size of its base in the last six months. During that time, Facebook cut off access to in-app chat and began requiring users to install Messenger to send, receive, and read messages, which explains the sudden spike.

Microsoft’s $199 Work & Play Bundle combines many subscriptions into one – For anyone that wishes to buy into Microsoft’s ecosystem and save a little money, there’s good news for you. Microsoft announced the “Work & Play Bundle”, a Microsoft subscription-based services consolidation that includes yearly memberships to Xbox Live, Office, Skype and Xbox Music for $199. The bundle is available through January 4, 2015 through physical Microsoft Store locations, which currently only exist in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Developer edition and privacy are Firefox’s 10th birthday present for the world – The main feature of the new Firefox release, 33.1, is a “Forget” button on the toolbar that can instantly wipe the last five minutes, two hours, or one day of browsing history, cookies, and tabs. This isn’t a new capability itself—the Privacy panel of the options dialog has long offered this ability—but in Firefox 33.1, it’s now instantly accessible.


Mooltipass Is A PIN-Locked USB Box That Stores All Your Passwords Offline – Meet Mooltipass, a device taking aim at the password problem — the problem being we desperately need better passwords to secure our digital stuff but our feeble human minds have trouble remembering enough complex strings to maintain robust security across a range of services. Mooltipass’ makers reckon the solution to this problem is to AES-256 encrypt and store all your passwords in an offline device, taking the strain out of remembering multiple complex passwords while also promising better security than using password manager software (they claim) — being as the USB hardware device sandboxes your encrypted credentials offline. Ergo they are harder for a hacker to nab.


$20 “Model A+” is the cheapest Raspberry Pi ever – After releasing a revised version of the Raspberry Pi Model B (dubbed “B+”) in July 2014, the low-cost computer project has produced its cheapest model yet, which will retail for just $20—$5 less than the previous Model A. On Monday, Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton announced the Model A+, “which uses the BCM2835 application processor and has 256MB RAM, but it is significantly smaller (65mm in length, versus 86mm for the Model A) [and] consumes less power.”


Boop Lets You Send Self-Destructing Animated Messages – Today sees the launch of Boop, a fun take on the self-destructing messaging idea. Namely, messages received via the iOS and Android app are displayed in animation form, one word at a time, plus emoji — a feature that emphasises their ephemeral nature but also makes messages harder to screen capture.


5 quick tips for getting started with the new Google Calendar app for Android – The newly designed Google Calendar is live in the Google Play Store. Here’s a few tips for getting started.

Six clicks: Time-saving iOS, Android apps for business users – Summary: What Android and iOS apps are out there to save business executives time when on the road?


All US Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers – All United States Postal Service (USPS) employees’ personal data—including names, addresses, social security numbers—has been exposed as the result of a hack believed to have originated from China. According to its own tally, USPS employs over 600,000 people. The USPS does not believe that in-store customer data was exposed, but customers who contacted the agency via e-mail or phone between January 1 and August 16, 2014 may have been.

Website spies on thousands of people to shed light on security flaw – Insecam, which says it wants “to show the importance of the security settings,” is broadcasting live feeds of thousands of people who didn’t reset their security camera’s pre-programmed password.


Verizon ‘supercookies’ could be a boon to advertisers, hackers – It’s bad enough that Verizon and AT&T have unleashed a new breed of “supercookie” that can track your every online move, even as you switch between your smartphone, tablet and TV. Far worse is the possibility of abuse by advertisers, governments and hackers, privacy experts warn.

The Top Four Android Threats – In this weekly feature, we like to examine a single Android threat and try to figure out what it means for regular users like you (dear reader). But this week, we’re going to look at the four categories of apps security company Lookout recently named as the most “relentless.” What does relentless mean? According to the folks at Lookout, it’s a mix of ubiquity and danger.

New ‘Masque Attack’ iOS phishing vulnerability sideloads apps – On the heels of WireLurker, a new iOS threat has been discovered. This one, called Masque attack, could be a lot more problematic, too. While the previously discovered WireLurker vulnerability required users to be tethered to a Mac before anything nefarious could happen, Masque Attack is one that occurs in-app. Discovered by security research firm FireEye, Masque Attack could pose a much bigger risk to anyone using apps that didn’t come pre-loaded on their iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Law enforcement seized Tor nodes and may have run some of its own – In a blog post written on November 9, Tor Project director Andrew Lewman went over the possible ways that over 400 hidden services on dozens of servers were located by law enforcement during Operation Onymous. While some of the servers were related to criminal activity (such as Silk Road 2.0), at least some of the servers were not—including several that were acting as infrastructure for Tor’s anonymizing network. And the only answer Lewman could currently offer as to how the sites were exposed was “We don’t know.”

Cyberespionage group targets traveling execs through hotel networks – For the past four years a group of sophisticated hackers has compromised the networks of luxury hotels to launch malware attacks against corporate executives and entrepreneurs traveling on business in the Asia-Pacific region. The cyberespionage group, which researchers from Kaspersky Lab dubbed Darkhotel, operates by injecting malicious code into the Web portals used by hotel guests to log in to the local network and access the Internet, typically by inputting their last name and room number.

Company News:

eBay accused of perpetuating counterfeit product sales, silencing industry whistle blower – It looks like eBay is under fire for perpetuating the sale of known counterfeit goods. A new investigative report shows that eBay assists merchants selling counterfeit goods by manipulating feedback.

BlackBerry CEO: ‘We will survive as a company’ – The company made it through the toughest phase of its turnaround plan and now hopes to actually grow again, says John Chen, who is marking his one-year anniversary at the helm.

AT&T backs out of in-flight wireless game – Challenging GoGo in-flight wireless was going to be no small feat, but AT&T was poised to offer LTE service while we coasted above the clouds. A new report suggests AT&T is no longer interested in air travel and LTE service, and will be re-focussing tier efforts on the terrestrial front. Their recent purchase of Mexican carrier lusacell is evidence of that, according to a statement provided by AT&T. Seems the promise of AT&T flying the friendly skies is no more.

Google to Match Donations Made to Fight Ebola – The Web giant on Monday announced that for every dollar you give to the fight against Ebola, it will donate two. Google is also donating $10 million right away to support nonprofits such as InSTEDD, International Rescue Committee, Medecins Sans Frontieres, NetHope, Partners in Health, Save the Children and U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Head over to Google’s donation page to make a contribution ranging from $10 to $1,000.


Samsung eyes $3B for Vietnam smartphone factory, report says – After investing $2 billion in a smartphone factory in Vietnam earlier this year, Samsung looks to open another facility.

Games and Entertainment:

Dragon Age Inquisition Review: This Is the One You’ve Been Waiting For – BioWare’s latest RPG is a grand romp through a breath-taking fantasy setting. And it features some of the most interesting characters we’ve yet seen in a Dragon Age title.


How Call of Duty beat Titanfall, Destiny, and Wolfenstein combined – As what may very well be a sign of things to come for Activision’s latest Call of Duty title, Advanced Warfare has out-sold Ghosts in its first week of sales in the UK. Additionally, according to GfK Chart Track numbers, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare also beat out the three biggest week-1 titles of the year: Titanfall, Destiny, and Wolfenstein. Not only did Call of Duty beat all three of these titles in the UK in week 1 of sales, it beat all three combined “by almost 14%.”


Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Review – Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is an expensive LED Backlit keyboard with so many options for colours. Its well built, great at customisability and comes with an optional palm rest.


‘Iron Sky 2’: Nazis, lizard people and Hitler on a T.rex – The sequel to the instant cult classic about Nazis on the moon returns is the only logical way possible: With conspiracy theories and a whole passel o’ dinos.


‘Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask’ Coming Spring 2015 – The 3D remake will be more than just a graphically modified port, according to series producer Eiji Aonuma. The new title will hit shelves next spring. It’s available to pre-order now, and while the Amazon page says Dec. 15, that is probably not the release date. “Those are placeholder dates and don’t represent that actual release dates, which Nintendo hasn’t pinned down yet,” PCMag’s sister site, IGN, pointed out. A special edition will also be available in Europe.


Off Topic (Sort of):

President Obama Calls For A Free And Open Internet, Wants It Reclassified As A Utility – President Barack Obama has come out in favor of net neutrality in a special website and video announcement wherein he lays out his plan for protecting the freedom and openness of the Internet. In a video and letter, he lays out in no uncertain terms that he believes no cable company or access provider should be able to put limits on access to the Internet. He says that he’s suggesting that the FCC recognizes access to the Internet as a basic utility, and something that Americans have a basic right to. This means no blocking, no throttling, more transparency and no paid prioritization, Obama writes in his letter, which is quoted in full below.

The FCC Fires Back At the President’s Net Neutrality Plan – This morning President Barack Obama presented a net neutrality plan, advocating for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify broadband under Title II of the  Telecommunications Act. That solution has long been the favorite of the most ardent net neutrality advocates. The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler quickly replied, noting just how far along the comment, and fact-finding work for deciding how to approach net neutrality is at the current date.

An open letter to students of the present and future – Summary: Advice from teacher to student on technology, privacy, and why turning off that smartphone is a good idea.

Pointing up    Good advice for all of us.

Chinese Programmer Sticks Windows 95 On An iPhone 6 Plus – Today in “putting stuff onto things on which they don’t belong,” we present a user, xyq058775, and his exciting admission that he installed Windows 95 on a brand new iPhone. He used a tool called iDos, an open source DOSBox-like app to install the OS. He found that most of it worked fine but he was unable to upgrade to Windows XP. And we can assume he was also able to play Doom.


Parklife! Russell Brand releases parody after being mocked on the internet – The inevitable has happened: after it emerged people on social media were shouting ‘Parklife’ at Russell Brand, the man himself has made a parody video.


Stunning video of Earth from space made from 80GB of images – Considering we live on it, and haven’t traveled too far from it in the scheme of the universe, we have a lot of imagery of Earth as a planet floating in the void of space. Some of the best footage the world has seen is captured from the International Space Station, and depicts Earth throughout its orbital routine — days, nights, manmade and Northern lights. Though we’ve seen the Earth from the ISS before, it rarely becomes less exciting or beautiful.


Watch man trounce a Ferrari on his 207 mph rocket bike – That’s right. Swiss François Gissy put a rocket on his bicycle, got up to an insane speed and left a Ferrari in the dust. And you can watch.


Kids react to old cameras: “Such hard work” – It’s time for another adorable “Kids React” video in which the younger generation reacts to now-obsolete gadgets and other old tech, simultaneously making us laugh and reminding us that we’re getting old. In this newest video, kids are reacting to an average point-and-shoot film camera, trying to figure out how to operate it and, their most troublesome issue, how to put the film in place. They all prove successful in the end, but not before pleas for help and comments like “There’s no photo fluid in this thing!” are made.


How to Curb an Online Porn Addiction ..or stop yourself from online gambling, excessive Internet shopping, and other distracting, unwanted behavior – Here, I’ll explain some options. The first few are heavyweight ways for those with a serious problem. The second batch of options are of midrange strength, enough to curb your behavior, but not iron-clad by any stretch. Finally, I’ll point to a few lightweight options that give you some restrictions, but more importantly cause you to think twice before doing something you wish you’ll hadn’t.

Something to think about:

“I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians that took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.”

–       Harry Patch  –  Last surviving soldier of World War One

Today’s Free Downloads:

SpaceSniffer – SpaceSniffer is a freeWare (or, better, donationWare) and portable tool application that gives you an idea of how folders and files are structured on your disks. By using a Treemap visualization layout, you have immediate perception of where big folders and files are situated on your devices. Treemap concept was invented by Prof. Ben Shneiderman, who kindly permitted the use of his concept into this tool.


Fast and easy to use

Supports drag and drop

Export module lets you produce customizable textual reports

Intuitive structure layout, multiple views for different media

Zoomable elements, navigate like a web browser

The Windows folders and file popup menu is accessible by right mouse click

It’s possible to restrict the view content by typing simple yet powerful filtering criteria

Lets you temporary tag files with four different colors and perform filtering on them

Different views of the same media can show differently filtered elements

Customizable in geometry, colors, behaviors

You can navigate even during the scan

Smart cached scanning engine, multiple views, single scan

You can refine a zoomed area by a secondary scan process, even with main scan active

Reacts to file system events, keeps always in synch, warns you by blinking elements

Can scan NTFS Alternate Data Streams

It doesn’t clutter your registry, only a plain XML configuration file

It’s portable, no installation required, just put the executable somewhere and let’s go

It’s freeWare (donations are welcome)


Game Fire – Game Fire is a FREE open source PC games accelerator utility that enables you to enjoy your favorite modern PC games by transforming your personal computer into a powerful gaming machine with a touch of button.

Game Fire is suitable for beginners as it does not require any technical knowledge at all, as it provides easy to understand options like A,B,C.

Touch & Play:

Transform your computer into a powerful gaming machine with a touch of button, thanks to Gaming Profile that customizes the way Game Fire optimizes your system without getting involved in Windows functions details.

Initiative user interface:

Game Fire is an easy to use utility, thanks to it’s initiative interface that makes it suitable for beginners. You can customize how Game Fire optimizes your system with easy to understand options.

FREE As In Freedom:

This means that you are FREE to get the source code, FREE to modify it and FREE to share it with the world, and this also means the Game Fire is FREE of spyware and other malware.

System Safety:

Game Fire is a very safe utility, as all changes made to your system by Game Fire is temporary, you can restore the previous system state by simply turning off Gaming Mode.

CPU and RAM at your service:

Game Fire puts your CPU and system memory at your service, by reducing stresses on CPU through closing unneeded processes and functions and by defraging RAM to free up unneeded consumed resources. This is done in a smart way without affecting system performance.

Extra functions for Extra speed:

Game Fire has extra features that you can use to make your computer a flying PC, You can speed up loading and running of your games and programs by defraging game files and folders. Game Fire also could turn off unneeded scheduled tasks to squeeze out extra performance.

Limitations: 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:

German spy agency seeks millions to monitor social networks outside Germany – Germany’s foreign intelligence agency reportedly wants to spend €300 million (about US$375 million) in the next five years on technology that would let it spy in real time on social networks outside of Germany, and decrypt and monitor encrypted Internet traffic.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) wants the funds for a program called “Strategische Initiative Technik” (SIT, Strategic Technology Initiative), according to a report by German daily the Süddeutsche Zeitung and television stations NDR and WDR.

The report is based on a confidential document in which the BND asked the Confidential Committee of the Bundestag’s Budget Committee to approve a sum of €28 million for the program in 2015.

A German government spokesman confirmed the existence of the SIT program on Monday and said that its main goal is to build an early warning system for cyber attacks. He declined however to give further details about either the program or its budget.

It is a remarkable move given the German uproar over the NSA affair and the alleged U.S. spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, which led the German government to demand a “no-spy” agreement from the U.S. Such a deal is unlikely to be made by U.S. president Barack Obama.

Spyware exports will need a licence under new EU rules – Companies which make spyware will have to apply for permission to export the software once new EU regulations come into effect in late December.

Officially referred to as “intrusion software”, the software will now be included on the EU’s list of “dual use” items, defined as “goods, software and technology normally used for civilian purposes but which might have military applications or contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The restriction means that companies will have to apply for a licence to export spyware, although it doesn’t affect the sale of the software within the UK. Inclusion on the dual-use list places the technology alongside nuclear reactors, ultra-high-resolution cameras, and rocket fuel.

While the regulation is implemented by the European commission, the British government supports the restriction of spyware. “The UK has made it clear over the last two years that we believe that while these kind of technologies do have legitimate uses, they also pose threats to national security and to human rights and should be subject to export controls,” said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Germany tops table of Facebook data requests – New figures from Facebook show that the German government makes more requests for user data, relative to the size of its Facebook userbase, than any other.

Despite the nation’s reputation for protecting internet freedom, bolstered in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations and the German government’s response, Facebook’s latest transparency report reveals that Germany made 2,537 requests for user data in the first half of 2014.

With the country’s Facebook population estimated at 22 million by eMarketer, that means the government made 115 requests for data for every million users. Those requests referenced 3,078 user accounts, but just a third of them led to some data being produced.

Italy, America and France are the next three biggest sources of government requests, each producing around 100 requests per million users. Britain comes fifth of the 20 countries the Guardian studied, with 70 requests for data per million users.

But requests from Britain and America are significantly more likely to be granted than those from mainland Europe; 71% and 80% of requests are granted, a success rate twice as high as that of Germany or France (where just 30% of requests lead to data being handed over).


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 13, 2014

My favorite Windows desktop utilities;  UK to draft revenge porn law;  New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor;  Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures);  How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings;  Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots;  Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips;  Kmart latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked;  100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked;  Fable Legends beta goes live October 16;  Tech Stocks Show Weakness;  The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch;  Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter;  FotoSketcher (free);  Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow travellers in the  Great White North.


My favorite Windows desktop utilities – Who says the Windows desktop is dead? These are the six essential utilities Ed Bott installs on every new Windows PC, and they work with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or even the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

UK to draft revenge porn law – People who post explicit images of former partners online could soon face prison time as ministers from the UK are working on a law to counter the increasing threat of “revenge porn.” In the UK alone, there have been 149 registered cases of revenge porn which also include offenders as young as 11 years of age. However, there has been no law to treat these offenses. The government has now shown concern, and with the help of a few ministers, will be drafting a law to send offenders to a maximum prison sentence of two years.

A Marketing Firm Could Be Looking at Your Selfies – That picture you posted on Instagram from the beach last week might have more useful data in it than you think. Where are you? What do you have in your hand? Do you look happy or sad? What are you wearing? These are all questions that can help advertisers target their marketing to consumers, so a crop of new digital marketing companies has begun analyzing photos posted on Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to look for these trends and insights.

Smartphone camera shootout: iPhone 6 Plus takes on six top challengers (pictures) – Smartphones are often the only camera most people have with them — and most of these smartphones will give you good results. See for yourself.

New Google Trial Hooks You Up with a Doctor When Symptom-Searching – The trial is currently free for users, so feel free to chat up a doctor if Google gives you the option to do so when you’re searching about your symptoms.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phablet vs. mini-tablet: The big choice between two smallish devices – As phones grow and tablets shrink, they’re merging in form, but not always in function. We size up the key specs and differences you should care about.

Get Google Now reminders for multiple calendars – Want to get reminders for events that aren’t on your primary Google calendar? Check out these tips for troubleshooting which events appear in Google Now on Android.

How to access Hyperlapse’s hidden settings – A large part of Hyperlapse’s charm is its simplicity that lets you create a time-lapse video with a few taps of your finger. Should you want more control of your output, the app has a hidden Labs feature where you can adjust a number of settings, including resolution, frame rate, and various sound levels.

Need help with Windows 10? There’s a forum for that – With Windows 10 technical preview now out, we know that many of you have questions that are specific to your install and to help answer these questions, we have a forum available.

Photo-sharing app protects your pics from screenshots – A new photo-sharing app uses a common optical illusion to make your sent snaps a lot harder for the receiver to screenshot.


Google: One in ten ‘Right to be forgotten’ requests originate from the UK – Google has released figures in which show that one in ten requests to be removed from search results under the European “right to be forgotten” laws have originated from the UK. Google claims they have evaluated 498,737 links for removal since May of this year, including 63,616 pages originating from requests by UK citizens. In total, 18,403 requests were submitted which is the third highest in the EU; Google honoured just 35% of those requests, resulting in the removal of 18,459 links.

It might be time to kiss the iPod goodbye – Apple’s latest event is happening next week, and we’re all fairly certain what we’re getting. New iPads are likely on the horizon, and we’re expecting something in the way of Mac and iMac to come as well. Though we’re not expecting apple to unleash that massive iPad Pro we’ve been hearing about just yet, there’s good reason to think another of their products is falling by the wayside yet again. If we’re being totally honest, there might be good reason for it to slip quietly away, too.

What the SketchFactor app can tell us about the ethics of data use and crowdsourcing – The SketchFactor app identifies neighborhoods’ “sketchiness” through publicly available data, as well as user updates that other users can vote on. The crowdsourcing aspect has led to controversy.


A screenshot of the SketchFactor app.


Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google – According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

Kmart is the latest retailer to have its payment systems hacked – Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and PF Changs have all had their payment systems hacked in recent months — now you can add Kmart to that list. According to a recent SEC filing and confirmed in a statement from the company, the Sears-owned department store chain discovered on October 9th that its “payment data systems had been breached” by hackers, and the company believes that “certain debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.” Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet how extensive this attack was, but the company does note that it believes it was vulnerable from early September through yesterday, when it removed the malware responsible for the attack.

Fallout from the JPMorgan Chase breach – Most articles about the 76 million or so names and addresses that were stolen from JP Morgan Chase bank focus on the danger of phishing emails. But email is not the only way bad guys can abuse stolen data. They may also try to scam victims on the telephone. I ran across a couple articles on the Chase breach that mentioned telephone abuse, but each omitted an important point – you can’t trust caller ID.

100,000 Snapchat photos get leaked, but Snapchat isn’t to blame – A third-party web app for Snapchat saved snapped photos to its server, allowing hackers to get at them.

Blackphone is working on a secure tablet – The world has turned its attention towards the issue of privacy in the digital age, particularly one where the government is known to spy on data through all sorts of insidious and legally dubious means. That reality has prompted many different products tailored towards keeping private data away from prying eyes: encrypted messaging platforms, locked down email services, and, of course, the Blackphone. The folks behind the latter device have revealed to CNBC that a tablet is now in the works.

Company News:

Tech Stocks Show Weakness Amid Uncertain Global Economy – The carnage was widespread, with giants taking a stumble — Microsoft, -3.97%; Google, 2.92%; Facebook, -3.95%; LinkedIn, -3.84%; Yahoo, -3.65%; and Alibaba, -3.28% — and newcomers joining in the general mayhem. MobileIron fell 6.92%. ZenDesk was off 8.06%. GoPro dropped 4.63%, Twitter fell 8.84%, And Arista Networks shed 8.96%. (Data: Google Finance.) If you were holding tech stocks on Friday morning, and didn’t sell, you were far less wealthy by the end of the day. As BusinessInsider noted earlier today, the NASDAQ lost over 4% last week, a sharp contraction.

A thousand Foxconn employees walk out in protest – It seems Foxconn is once again in the public’s eye thanks to the way they treat their workers. Employees are protesting for higher wages and better conditions at one of the company’s plants.

Google releases “Right to be Forgotten” transparency report – When Google was made to start accepting and acknowledging URL takedown requests in Europe — the famed “Right to be Forgotten” issue — they were almost immediately inundated with more than they could handle. In the first day alone, Google received over 12,000 requests from netizens, and it doesn’t look to have slowed down much. Yesterday, Google released info about those takedown requests, and the metrics are staggering. In the short time it’s been available, Google has seen over half a million takedown submissions.

Former Infosys recruiter says he was told not to hire U.S. workers – The case, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, is from four IT workers around the country who are suing the company for “ongoing national origin and race discrimination.” An amended complaint was posted online by one of the attorneys representing the workers, and filed with the court last week. It includes an account by Samuel Marrero, who worked as a recruiter in Infosys’s talent acquisition unit from 2011 until May 2013. In weekly conference calls held by company officials, the lawsuit says, recruiters were encouraged to focus their efforts on Indian candidates and “stick to the talent we’re used to.”

Uber gets an F from the Better Business Bureau – Customers call in a slew of complaints about the ride-sharing service — ranging from allegedly being overcharged by hundreds of dollars to having troubles with customer service.

Games and Entertainment:

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is all about the journey, and the journey here is spectacular both visually and narratively. This game is something special.


Fable Legends beta goes live October 16, apply for access – Lionhead Studios just updated its main webpage with the announcement of a multiplayer beta for the upcoming Fable Legends video game. Scheduled to go live on October 16, 2014, Lionhead is now accepting applications for gamers to take part in a multiplayer beta prior to the final game launch. As far as we know, Fable Legends is tailored to be a 4v1 multiplayer game based in the fictional world of Albion. Unlike previous Fable titles, Fable Legends looks to take a Titanfall approach by tailoring the majority of the game to a multiplayer experience instead of the solo story focus that the franchise is known for.


The beginner’s guide to game streaming with Twitch – Used to be, there was pretty much one way to interact with a video game: You sat down and played it. Maybe you spent a while watching an older friend or sibling play, but gaming was never what you’d call a “spectator sport.” That’s all changed in the last couple of years, with the advent of YouTube gaming celebrities and the booming popularity of online streaming service Twitch. Firing up a stream and watching someone else play a thousand miles away is now a perfectly legitimate way to enjoy a game. Best of all, anyone is free to participate on either side of the stream—and if you want to be the one gaming in front of a live audience, you can start doing it today, for free. Here’s how.

Never Ending Tower for iOS: A Tetris-Jenga Hybrid – Not every game on your iPhone or iPad needs to have console-quality 3D graphics rendered at a zillion frames per second. Sometimes a simple physics-based arcade game is a better use of your downtime. Never Ending Tower is a new title for iPhone and iPad that encourages you to build a tower as tall as possible without losing a brick. It’s half Tetris and half Jenga.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Select seven to hold ‘Internet reboot’ keys – Seven people across the world will hold a keycard, which, when put together will reboot the key part of the World Wide Web. It sounds like something out of a spy thriller movie or an episode of South Park, but this safeguarding measure is to ensure the Internet can be restarted in the event of natural or man-made disaster.


Flight attendants take FAA to court to reinstate ban on electronics use – Remember how pleased frequent travelers were late last year when the Federal Aviation Administration finally started allowing airline passengers to use their personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing? Well, it turns out there’s one group of people who aren’t very happy with the change, and are now trying to get the ban on smartphones and tablets put back in place. Flight attendants have taken the FAA to the U.S. Court of Appeals with their main concern being the issue of safety.

Watch a hawk defend its turf against a quadcopter in the only way it knows – Not since James Cameron’s 2009’s masterpiece Avatar has there been such a struggle over the use of resources, and machine versus animal. That is one way you could describe this 39-second clip of a hawk defending its turf against a quadcopter drone flown by a puny earthbound human. Luckily a camera captured the whole thing, so we know who the real aggressor was.


Slow credit card verification lands Florida man in jail – Last week a man was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, FL when his two credit cards were declined after he spent $600 on bottle service at a nightclub. The story wouldn’t be all that interesting were it not for the fact that the man, Don Marcani, had not reached his credit limit that night. In fact, he was able to pay his $1,000 bail the next morning using one of the credit cards that was declined earlier.

Enough with the non-existent wearables already – What’s wrong with wearables? Not enough of them are real products, and many may never be. And if there’s one thing a new market doesn’t need, it’s vaporware.

Obama: I want the FCC to ban paid Internet fast lanes: President is “unequivocally committed to net neutrality.” – President Barack Obama yesterday said he is still “unequivocally committed to net neutrality” and that he wants the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules that prevent Internet service providers from creating paid fast lanes. Obama pointed out that the FCC is “an independent agency” but said he wants the commission to prevent paid prioritization.

Barcelona Comedy Club Has Patrons Paying Per Laugh – This one sounds like a joke in itself—and we half suspect it is—but here goes. According to reports from the BBC, among other sources, a comedy club in Barcelona has switched over to a new, somewhat ingenious scheme for charging patrons for the funnies. Literally, they’re doing just that. Facial recognition software built into tablet computers attached to the back of each chair at Barcelona’s Teatreneu club notes when a person has been laughing during the show. Each laugh costs a total of 0.3 euros (roughly 38 cents), and patrons can be billed up to 24 euros in total (around $30) for their evening.


Something to think about:

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

–     Hubert H. Humphrey

Today’s Free Downloads:

Manager Desktop Edition – Manager is free accounting software for small business. Windows, Mac and Linux.


Money In: Every time you receive money, it should be recorded in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you put money into bank account, cash register or into your own pocket. Every time you receive money

Money Out: Every time you spend money, it will appear in this module. It doesn’t matter whether you take money from your bank account or from your own pocket. Every time you spend money

Sales Invoices: This module contains all invoices that you have issued to your customers and other debtors. It provides useful reports such as Aged receivables which will assist you analyze your debtors further

Purchase Invoices: This module will show all the bills that you have received from your suppliers and other creditors. It provides useful reports such as Aged payables which will assist you analyze your creditors further

Contact Directory: Do you need to view history or contact details on person or organisation you’ve been dealing with? Then Contact Directory is the module that will provide you with all information you require

Chart of Accounts: This module shows all accounts that are used in your accounting system. Accounts are being created automatically so if you are not familiar with Chart of accounts, you don’t need to worry about this module

Journal Entries: Usually only skilled accountants and bookkeepers are using this module to set opening balances or adjust account balances on financial statements. If you are not familiar with journal entries, you don’t need them

Reports: Many reports available such as Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, Tax Summary, General Ledger Summary, Aged Receivables, Aged Payables and more depending on your country and other settings


FotoSketcher – FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.

Thanks to FotoSketcher you can create stunning images to make original gifts for your friends or relatives. Create birthday cards, season’s greetings stationary or simply print your work of art and hang it on the wall.

Different styles are available: pencil sketch, pen and ink drawing, various painting renderings. You can also improve your original photo with simple tools (enhance contrast, sharpen, simplify image, increase luminosity, color saturation etc…).

FotoSketcher is completely free and does not contain any adware, spyware or virus. It runs on any version of Microsoft Windows (sorry, no Mac version available).


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CORE SECRETS: NSA SABOTEURS IN CHINA AND GERMANY – The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms.


Snowden Attacks “Anything Goes” Privacy Intrusions Of British Spy Agencies – In what amounts to a wake up call directed at a British public generally considered apathetic on privacy issues, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that U.K. spy agencies are using digital technology to conduct mass population surveillance without any checks and balances at all — overreaching and encroaching on privacy rights in a way that he characterized as even worse than the U.S. National Security Agency’s inroads into citizens’ rights.

Why Privacy Matters: A TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald – “Mass surveillance suppresses our own freedom in all sorts of ways, rendering off-limits choices without our knowing it’s even happened.”


Former NSA director had thousands personally invested in obscure tech firms – New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: “Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist.”

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at “greater risk” from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

NSA refuses to reveal what it has leaked – A lot of information has been leaked about the government and its various agencies, not the least of which being the NSA. Of course, not all leaks are unauthorized — the government itself will leak its own information at times, the reasons for which are varied and, despite requests otherwise, still secret. A recent Freedom of Information Act request for information about what leaks the government has made was denied due to claims of posing a potential threat to national security.


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