Bitcoin hits $1,000 for the first time – The virtual currency Bitcoin, a decentralized form of money that approximates cash on the internet, has never been worth more. The price of a single bitcoin has soared above $1,000 on Mt. Gox, one of the main exchanges where the currency is bought and sold. As of this writing, the price is $1,020 on Mt. Gox but is averaging closer to $945 on other exchanges. This means the total market is worth around $11.4 billion.
Bitcoin has seen several massive price hikes before which were all followed by crashes to varying degrees, but this is the most extreme yet. The valuation comes as several major events have boosted confidence in Bitcoin’s viability as a universal currency. Those include the closure of Silk Road, the illegal drug bazaar that initially gave the currency a bad name; the currency’s first Congressional hearing; and its rising popularity in China.
Toy company pulls Beastie Boys ‘Girls’ parody video, says it wants to respect band’s wishes – Girls’ toy company GoldieBlox has removed a parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” after complaints from the band. Roughly a week ago, the company posted a YouTube promotion with a re-recorded, rewritten version of the song sung by a trio of girls as they set a complex Rube Goldberg machine into motion.
But the band itself soon reached out to GoldieBlox, saying that the song was an infringement of their copyright, and GoldieBlox preemptively asked a court to declare it legal fair use. What happened next was a public relations firefight from which neither side escaped entirely unscathed, but a few days later, the case seems to have blown over: GoldieBlox has removed the song and said it will drop its court case at the behest of the Beastie Boys.
NSA spied on porn habits of Muslim ‘radicalizers’ in effort to discredit them – The US National Security Agency reportedly spied on the online sexual activity of Muslim “radicalizers” as part of a plot to undermine their reputation and authority. The Huffington Postsays that the internet proclivities of six individuals were monitored in order to find “personal vulnerabilities” such as the viewing of pornographic material that could be exploited to “shape the perception of the messenger as well as that of his followers.”
The information comes from NSA documents provided by whisteblower Edward Snowden. The documents were sent to officials in the NSA, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Departments of Justice and Commerce. They include a cheat sheet-style appendix in which the arguments, authority, and vulnerabilities of the unnamed targets are detailed.
Nokia Lumia 525 unveiled as successor to the most popular Windows Phone – Nokia’s Lumia 525 Windows Phone has long been rumored, and the Finnish smartphone manufacturer is making it official today with little fanfare. Designed as a successor to the popular Lumia 520, Nokia’s Lumia 525 looks almost identical. Inside there’s not many changes either. It has the same 5-megapixel camera without flash and no front-facing addition, and Nokia has opted for 8GB of storage with a 4-inch WVGA display and a dual-core 1GHz processor.
The main difference is the amount of system memory. Nokia’s Lumia 520 shipped with just 512MB of RAM, which was a slight problem early on for some apps and games that required 1GB of RAM. The latest Lumia 525 resolves that with 1GB of RAM onboard. With little changed on the inside and out, Nokia’s Lumia 525 looks like a minor revision on the world’s most popular Windows Phone. It will ship in black, white, orange, and yellow colors with the option to swap colors thanks to a removable shell.
Aether aims to be a Reddit for the privacy-conscious – Anonymity on the web was once a natural and easily secured condition for its browsers, but recent trends have tended to undermine it. From Google demanding a G+ account to comment on YouTube videos to the NSA snooping on everything and everyone, keeping oneself to oneself has grown increasingly arduous.
Aether is a new app that wants to help restore some privacy to your online activities. Available for Mac and Windows, it’s an anonymized, encrypted network that lets people share content without worrying about who might be watching over their digital shoulder. Usernames are not unique, nobody is to be trusted or in any other way distinguished from the rest, and moderation is done purely by users voting stories up and down.
Julian Assange likely won’t face US charges for publishing leaks, reports Washington Post – The Justice Department will likely choose not to bring charges against Julian Assange for publishing the troves of classified documents leaked to him by Chelsea Manning, reportsThe Washington Post. Anonymous US officials tell the Post that the decision isn’t final, but that it’s looking unlikely that charges will be made unless Assange were implicated in some additional crime.
“If you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange,” Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, tells the Post.
Bad news for Barnes and Noble: Nook revenue drops 32% – On Christmas morning children will unwrap their gifts to find a shiny new tablets and e-readers, but this year the Nook is not likely to be one of them.
Revenues for Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader division went down 32 percent to $109 million, according to its most recent earnings report. That’s not good for a business that it competing against both Amazon’s Kindle and the general tablet market.
Barnes and Noble only sold $51 million worth of the e-readers, which in itself represents a fall of 41 percent year over year.
Boomf makes your Instagram photos edible – Instagram took over the world by recreating the slow, analog process of instant photography in convenient, retro-filtered digital form. But a cottage industry of startups that turn Instagram photos physical has since sprung up — there have been mini photobooks, canvas prints, and even Polaroid-branded cameras — and the idea has perhaps reached its logical conclusion with the launch of a new service that lets you print your pictures onto marshmallows.
Boomf, a UK-based company, charges £12 (about $19) for a box of nine marshmallows, each emblazoned with an image that you select from your own Instagram library using a simple web app. The company warns that the resolution “isn’t Retina display” and that dark photos might not turn out too well, but the results look pretty good, and The Next Web confirms that the marshmallows do taste “exactly like marshmallows.”
Acer’s new touchscreen C720P Chromebook undercuts the Pixel at $299 – Google’s $1,299 Chromebook Pixel has long been the platform’s only laptop featuring a touchscreen, but today consumers are finally getting another, far more affordable choice. Acer has announced the C720P Touchscreen Chromebook, which is priced at $299 and scheduled to go on sale in early December at Amazon, Best Buy and the company’s own online store. Aside from a new multi-touch display, the C720P largely resembles the Chromebook model that it’s named after. And that’s a good thing, as you’ll get the same quick startup (7 seconds) and lengthy battery life (7.5 hours) that comes with the Haswell-based Intel Celeron processor found inside.
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