Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 20 November 2013

Three US Senators denounce unnecessary NSA phone surveillance – A trio of Democrat Senators sitting on the US Select Committee on Intelligence has expressed its disapproval of the NSA’s bulk surveillance of US citizens’ phone calls. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Martin Heinrich from New Mexico all agree — having reviewed confidential information that their Committee status grants them access to — that the mass invasion of privacy is not justified by the intel gained from it. In their own words, they “have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records … is uniquely necessary to the national security of the United States.”

Three US Senators denounce unnecessary NSA phone surveillance

 

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Microsoft Store Black Friday 2013 deals – Microsoft’s physical retail presence is still growing, but thankfully the company’s web store should make taking advantage of its Black Friday specials a bit easier. The sale kicks off at midnight EST November 28th, and Microsoft is discounting a number of PCs, video games, and its own Surface tablets. We’ve collected some of the highlights below, and Microsoft says that all orders include free shipping.

Microsoft Store Black Friday 2013 deals

 

‘League of Legends’ eSports finals watched by 32 million people – Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of LegendsSeason 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach.

The figures show a tremendous leap inLeague of Legends viewers in the past year: 2012’s Season 2 LoL World Championship — the previous record holder for most watched eSports event — was seen by a total of 8.2 million people, with 1.1 million streaming the event at the same time.

‘League of Legends’ eSports finals watched by 32 million people

Percentage of traffic to restaurant websites that is mobile, 2009-2013.

LetsEat.at

Percentage of traffic to restaurant websites that is mobile, 2009-2013.

Small business websites might as well go 100% mobile in 2014 – Mobile devices are approaching half the traffic coming to restaurant websites — a sign that small businesses need to get smart about mobile website design. According to Goro Harumi, the founder of LetsEat, a website builder for restaurants, the average percentage of traffic to restaurant sites has risen from 3 percent fours years ago to 43 percent today. On weekends, the number approaches 50%.

“2014 could be the first year many business owners opt to skip desktop website designs and go 100% mobile,” Harumi said.

Small business websites might as well go 100% mobile in 2014

 

The spaceship is cleared for landing, Cupertino approves new Apple HQ – A little over two years since Steve Jobs presented his case for it and after the occasional setback, the Cupertino City Council has finally given Apple full approval to go ahead with its futuristic campus.

In exchange, Apple has agreed to fork over more money to the city in the form of a reduced sales tax rebate – going forward, Cupertino will only give back 35 percent sales tax instead of the 50 percent it had previously. Indeed, as soon as Apple gets its final permits some time today, it can begin demolishing the former HP headquarters and start building its own.

The spaceship is cleared for landing, Cupertino approves new Apple HQ

 

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Here’s an amazing Rube Goldberg contraption — for making girl engineers – There aren’t nearly enough toys that encourage girls to use their brains, solve problems, build things, and — maybe — eventually become engineers. So GoldieBlox is tackling that problem by creating clever toys for aspiring young makers — the kinds of makers who just happen to be girls. Its latest promotional video is a great illustration of why that’s such an awesome idea. Three little girls stare, stupefied, as a TV screen blares an obnoxious commercial for girls who want to be princesses, or cover girls, or something else stereotypically useless.

But then they kick off a new song: A version of the Beastie Boys’ classic “Girls” but with updated, girl-friendlier lyrics. And as the song plays, an amazing Rube Goldberg contraption unwinds through the house. Built in part with GoldieBlox toys, the contraption flips switches, rolls ping-pong balls, turns on a faucet, opens a garage door, shoots a ball, and … well, you’ll just have to watch it.

Here’s an amazing Rube Goldberg contraption — for making girl engineers

 

Watch LG’s new flexible phone heal itself after a knife scratch – When LG announced its curved smartphone the G Flex, it boasted that the handset was coated with a “self-healing” material and even compared it to Wolverine from X-Men. LG later released a promotional video showing off the tech in action, but it’s only now that someone has put the company’s claims to the test. In YouTube personality / video producer Marques Brownlee’s hands-on with the device, he checks out the self-healing coating with a number of tests.

First up is a set of keys, which Brownlee creates some light scratches with. As you’ll see in the video, the LG G Flex essentially “heals” the scratches made. It doesn’t completely remove them, but apparently makes the marks almost invisible to the naked eye. He then carves out a deeper scratch using a knife, which “half heals,” appearing far less visible than it would on a regular phone.

Watch LG’s new flexible phone heal itself after a knife scratch

 

Street View update maps North America’s biggest parks and monuments – Google’s Street View may have already taken us on a virtual tour of some US national parks, but its total number of natural sites now sits at an impressive 44 US and Canadian locations.

With permission from the US National Park Service and Parks Canada, the search giant’s cars, trikes and backpack-worn Trekker units have mapped some of most picturesque and historical sites in North America, providing us with new 360-degree views of Mount Rushmore, the Alamo Mission in Texas and the crystal-clear lakes of Banff National Park, to name but a few.

Street View update maps North America’s biggest parks and monuments

 

Amazon selling Verizon Moto X for a penny, but no Moto Maker customization – Amazon is offering the best deal yet on the Moto X, selling its black and white Verizon models for just a penny each when on a two-year contract. While you can get the phone directly from Verizon in all its customizable glory, it’ll run a full $99.99 now that its half-off promotion is over, making Amazon’s offer a much more appealing option.

As it’s on Verizon, it’ll be immediately eligible for an upgrade to KitKat too, an update that Motorola released just yesterday.

Amazon selling Verizon Moto X for a penny, but no Moto Maker customization

 

Mercedes-Benz builds a stunning concept supercar for Gran Turismo anniversary – Gran Turismo, the elder statesman of driving games, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year in grand style. Its developer, Polyphony Digital, has asked the world’s leading car manufacturers to produce real-life concepts that look into the future of sports car design. Mercedes-Benz is first to take part in this Vision Gran Turismo project, introducing the audaciously styled concept supercar you see before you. Carrying the company’s AMG designation, it’s designed to evoke the sense of a predator poised to strike — and its aggressive combination of a low, streamlined body with oversized wheel arches and LED-illuminated grille certainly gets that point across. It’s basically what Michael Keaton’s Batmobile would look like if it were dropped into the Tron universe.

Mercedes-Benz builds a stunning concept supercar for Gran Turismo anniversary

 

Buy movies to own forever and watch anywhere with Comcast’s new Xfinity On Demand store – Comcast has launched a new store that enables US Xfinity TV customers to buy movies and TV shows. Titles purchased through the new Xfinity On Demand store belong to a user, and can be streamed as many times as they wish on their TV, their computer, or on a mobile device using the Xfinity On Demand Purchases app for iOS or Android.

Users can also download movies and TV shows to their computer or mobile device to watch without the need for a stable internet connection. Comcast’s existing TV Go app allows Xfinity subscribers to stream live TV.

Buy movies to own forever and watch anywhere with Comcast’s new Xfinity On Demand store
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Thanks for reading,
Tom Peters.



Author: Tom Peters

Journalist. Digital enthusiast. Asking questions about media business models and writing for DailyTechWhip.com

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