The 10 best Christmas songs – ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s; 19 essential traveller’s tech gadgets; Dig deeper into Android, Gmail, Chrome, and more; 2013: The year in numbers; Best gear for gamers; Mozilla updates Firefox; Cryptolocker: Menace of 2013; Govt officials at 2011 G20 baited with porn; Google Buys Boston Dynamics, Creator Of Big Dog; Battlefield 4 gets patch; All-TIME 100 Novels.
The 10 best Christmas songs of the last 40 years – Sure, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” are old-school classics, but we’ve all heard them a million times. So spruce up this year’s holiday playlist with Download.com’s picks for the best holiday tunes from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
19 essential tech gadgets for any seasoned business traveler – Whether you’re on a road trip or heading on a long-haul, transatlantic flight, you’ll need these essential gadgets to keep you connected, productive, organized, and entertained.
How to Tell the FCC: No Phone Calls on Planes – It’s time to tell the FCC to keep the ban on cell phone calls in flight. Your sanity is at stake. Here’s how to file a public comment.
What You Should Know About the 2014 Light Bulb Ban – The light bulbs you grew up with are going extinct next year. 2014 will be the next step in the phasing out of incandescent light fixtures, and 40W and 60W bulbs will no longer be brought into the U.S. Don’t panic, this doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. Here is your guide to the phase-out and what your options are now.
Google’s new Tips site helps you dig deeper into Android, Gmail, Chrome, and more – They’re handy, but beware: Google Tips’ helpful tidbits also encourage you to share even more personal information with the advertising giant.
Apple approves ‘only gay social app for ages 12 and up’ – The founders of Distinc.tt believe it’s time for a gay social app that doesn’t have sex at its core. This is an app that “you can bring home to Mom.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook Gives Remarkable Speech on Gay Rights, Racism – Tim Cook, Apple’s media-shy chief executive, made a rare public speech at the U.N. this week. Auburn University, Cook’s alma mater, posted his 13-minute talk on Saturday. Cook went on to talk of gay rights, saying, “Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law.” He also backed an immigration overhaul, adding of proposed reforms, “Do not do them because they are economically sound — although they are — do them because they are right and just.”
Tinder sparks half a billion matches – Like Hot or Not but for dating, the 15-month-old app is matching young people left and right. During peak hours, for instance, Tinder processes 50,000 requests per second. A request includes all Tinder actions like a log-in, photo upload, or swipe. Every day, there are 400 million profile ratings — aka a swipe left or right. And, on average, the company makes 4.5 million matches per day.
2013: The year in numbers – From single digits to trillions, the tech industry loves numbers, and it generated plenty of them in 2013. How much is Evan Williams worth? What percentage of YouTube traffic is mobile? It’s all right here. Here’s a look at some of the figures that stand out from the year.
The Audiophiliac’s totally awesome $100+ holiday gift guide – It’s that time of year, so the Audiophiliac rounded up some gift ideas for music lovers and audiophiles.
UK ISP BT Broadband to block porn for new customers by default – BT Broadband has revealed details of its new network-level Parental Controls, which will block access to adult content for all users by default, forcing them to opt out of the restrictions if desired.
Twitterers rally round #CensoredUK – to demand MORE PORN – Using the hashtag #CensoredUK, a rag-tag army of right-on carnal campaigners, feminists, pornographers, perverts and men in dirty macs launched a protest against Prime Minister David Cameron’s sexual censorship scheme. In the New Year, about nine in every ten British homes will have to explicitly tell their internet provider they want to access porn. The big four ISPs, TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and BT, have all agreed to enforce the “opt-in” scheme, which will aim to boot pornography off this sceptred isle.
Twitter’s ‘Nearby’ could reveal who’s tweeting, well, nearby – The microblog is apparently testing a mobile feature that would map tweets posted by Twitter users, whether you follow those users or not. But it seems to be opt in.
PC World: We pick the best gear for gamers – Console gamer, PC gamer, or something in between? There’s something shiny here for all tastes and budgets.
Mozilla updates Firefox, adds click-to-play and patches – The browser’s latest update features reduced memory consumption designed to boost browser performance.
How to have the best videoconferences – Top tips, tricks and best practices so you can hold interesting and awesome teleconferences and meetings.
Tech threats abound beyond spam, malware during holidays – You know to beware while shopping online, but even brick-and-mortar outlets harbor technical security issues.
Online behaviors that increase the risk of identity theft – PrivacyGuard released the results of a survey aimed at observing and identifying a number of online behaviors that consumers willingly partake in that could put them at risk of fraud and identity theft.
Zeus banking malware resurfaces in 64-bit version – A 64-bit version of the notorious Zeus family of banking malware has been found, an indication that cybercriminals are preparing for the software industry’s move away from older 32-bit architectures. Kaspersky Lab discovered the 64-bit version of Zeus within a 32-bit sample.
Cryptolocker: Menace of 2013 – The scale of the Cryptolocker threat is disputable. It’s the psychology that is truly frightening.
Digital rights group: Users face choice of “privacy or security on Android, but not both” – A digital rights group has called on Google to restore app privacy controls that it removed in its latest Android update, and which Google says it ‘accidentally’ included in the OS earlier this year.
Microsoft joins FIDO Alliance that wants to replace passwords – Microsoft has joined the Board of Directors of the FIDO Alliance, which has a goal of coming up with a better form of online authentication than the old fashioned password.
Govt officials at 2011 G20 baited with porn – Attendees at the Paris summit of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors fell for an email promising nude photos of Carla Bruni, former supermodel and wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Vendor security patches lag dangerously, study suggests – Subscribers to organizations that sell exploits for flaws not yet known to software developers learn early about vulnerabilities in popular programs, a study says.
Pension fund sues IBM for torpedoing China sales with NSA spy program – A pension fund has sued IBM for $12.9 billion in revenue losses caused by the recent revelation of its partnership with the US Congress and the NSA to spy on Chinese customers. Many of China’s companies pulled out of business arrangements with IBM after it became known that IBM was using its technology to collect customer information for the NSA. The suit cites IBM’s open lobbying effort to persuade Congress to pass the bill allowing the spying program known as Prism.
Qualcomm charged with price fixing in China – The US chipmaker could face a fine as the Chinese regulator holds ‘substantial evidence’ of price fixing.
Judge refuses to dismiss Netgear’s router fraud lawsuit against Asus – Lawyer talk isn’t usually the most exciting of topics, but Netgear’s suit is chock full of more intrigue and scandal than an episode of Matlock. In August, Netgear cried shenanigans about two Asus wireless routers—the RT-N65U 802.11n and the RT-AC66U 802.11ac—claiming that Asus knowingly shipped the routers with higher wireless power settings than FCC regulations allow, giving the routers an illegal leg up over Netgear’s own R6300 802.11ac router.
Google Buys Boston Dynamics, Creator Of Big Dog – Google announced that they’ve acquired Boston Dynamics, creators of quad- and bi-pedal robots like Big Dog and PETMAN. This is Google’s eighth robotics acquisition. The company did not disclose the details of the sale.
Amazon to go physical, open wholesale store Pantry to compete with Walmart – USA Today is reporting that Amazon will launch a new wholesale chain to compete with the likes of Walmart and Costco, and perhaps to compete with the disadvantages of being solely based on the internet. The new wholesale outlet will reportedly be called Pantry, and will launch with about 2,000 items that would normally be found in a grocery store — food, cleaning supplies, and so on.
Adobe stock hits all-time high on subscription shift – Shifting from the Creative Suite license business to Creative Cloud subscriptions made plenty of customers angry, but it made plenty of investors happy.
Games and Entertainment:
Video tour: the ins and outs of the SteamOS beta release – A five minute walk-through of what Valve’s new OS looks like and how it works.
Battlefield 4 gets sorely needed patch for Xbox One – Battlefield 4, the pride of EA Games and DICE, has received a long-awaited patch for the Xbox One. The next-gen game has undergone a series of unfortunate events in the form of connectivity problems, server issues, and in-game bugs and glitches. The problems were so bad and so widespread that they dealt EA’s stock a blow in the stockmarket.
Activision wants $2 to turn your Call of Duty: Ghosts dog into a wolf – Microtransactions in games are quickly heading towards the ridiculous. Angry Birds Go! is the perfect example of this, charging $50 for new karts. But Call of Duty: Ghosts is also pushing the limits of what’s acceptable by asking players to pay $2 for a cosmetic change that sees a dog turned into a wolf.
Off Topic (Sort of):
All-TIME 100 Novels – Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME.
7 Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read – Bill Gates is a busy man, but still has time for reading. Check out his 2013 favorites.
Nine tech torments I’d like to see fixed in 2014 – For CNET’s Stephen Shankland, ’tis the season to be a grinch about problems that sully his daily use of phones, PCs, and other devices — especially those that can be fixed.
U.S remains biggest producer of e-waste followed by China – The U.S. remains as the largest e-waste producer followed closely by China. The two nations are the largest contributors to the 48.9 million metric tons of waste, which could rise by a third by 2017.
China’s robot moon landing mission sends back selfies – China’s Chang’e-3 lander and Jade Rabbit rover launched Dec. 1 and landed on the moon yesterday without incident, and now we’re getting footage of the event. The photos and videos show the moon up close and personal. We’re also seeing shots of both robots on the moon, apparently in full working order.
Sell my company’s data? Make me an offer – A new survey says that if the price is right, nearly half of employees would happily sell on their company’s information and confidential data.
Something to think about:
“Most people assume the fights are going to be the left versus the right, but it always is the reasonable versus the jerks.”
– Jimmy Wales
Today’s Free Downloads:
CDBurnerXP – CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilingual interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. (Highly recommended.)
Directory Monitor – You can use Directory Monitor for the surveillance of certain directories and it will notify you of file changes, deletions, modifications, and new files in real-time. You can optionally execute an application when a change occurs.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
The Government Really Isn’t Sure What Snowden Took – Out this morning in the New York Times is a stark tale: The United States’ intelligence apparatus has little idea what Edward Snowden took. As the full scope of what Snowden absconded with likely can’t be known, the government is forced to operate on its toes, unsure of what might be coming next. And that could be anything.
Snowden sitting on 1.5 million more documents, NSA estimates – Last month the NSA said Snowden had leaked 200,000 documents to journalists. Now we’re hearing estimates from the NSA itself that Snowden is sitting on 1.5 million additional documents — but the agency admits even that figure is more-or-less a shot-in-the-dark.
NSA alleges ‘BIOS plot to destroy PCs’: Un-named PC maker sought help to defeat un-named nation’s PC-bricking plan – Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have told US news magazine program “60 Minutes” that a foreign nation tried to infect computers with a BIOS-based virus that would have enabled them to be remotely destroyed. NSA Director General Keith Alexander and Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett both appeared on the program in an attempt to defend the many unsettling domestic espionage programs revealed by Edward Snowden.
Archaic but widely used crypto cipher allows NSA to decode most cell calls – The National Security Agency can easily defeat the world’s most widely used cellphone encryption, a capability that means the agency can decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves each day, according to published report citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
IBM hid China’s reaction to NSA spying ‘cos it cost us BILLIONS, rages angry shareholder – An IBM shareholder is suing Big Blue, accusing it of hiding the fact that its ties to the NSA spying scandal cost it business in China – and wiped billions off its market value. The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pensions and Relief Fund has filed the suit in New York, claiming that Big Blue “misrepresented and concealed” that its association with the NSA caused Chinese companies and the Chinese government to abruptly stop doing business with it, according to the shareholder’s lawyers. “When the company ultimately revealed the truth regarding the collapse of its business in China, the price of IBM stock fell almost $12 per share,” the legal team said in a statement, while inviting other shareholders to join the suit.
‘Shame on Feinstein’ group warns of tech sales impact from unchecked NSA operations – A coalition of activist groups is pressuring Senator Dianne Feinstein to reign in NSA spying because of civil rights issues and economic consequences.