Matt’s Favorites: Bye-Bye Until 2014, A $9,600 Apple, And More
Adios, adieu, auf Wiedersehen, sayonara, etc., to 2013. I will see you back here Jan. 6, 2014. Some changes in your favorite tech newsletter are afoot — you’ll get the official word soon. Meanwhile, thanks for another great year of tech news and your enthusiastic support as we watch the ongoing transformation of Michigan’s economy from brute force to brainiacs. Your support, especially, means a lot. And now on to the news…
* Okay, Apple fans, justify this… I know it’s a great computer, but really, $9,600 for a desktop?!
* Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. said their curved TVs will get bigger and sport the sharpness four times the regular HD television sets. The world’s two largest TV makers will display ultra-HD TVs with curved screens that measure 105 inches diagonally at International CES in Las Vegas next month, they said in separate statements Thursday. Here’s the story.
* Yikes, that was one heck of a security breach at Target. 40 million accounts. Check your statements carefully if you used a card at a Target between Black Friday and Dec. 15.
* Imagine going about your daily life and then one day receiving photos of yourself from inside your home. Sound spooky? Well, this really happened to a woman named Cassidy Wolf, according to the Washington Post. And, to make matters worse, she was nude in the photos. How did this happen? Apparently, there’s a way for hackers to spy on people via their iSight Webcams in older Apple MacBooks. Get out the duct tape.
* Bill Gates as Santa Claus? That’s the role he played to one woman on Reddit. Excited and shocked when she learned the source behind her generous gift giving, a Redditor named Rachel detailed the exchange in a Redditgifts post Wednesday night. Served up by the folks at Reddit, Redditgifts is an online gift exchange where people become Secret Santas by exchanging presents with friends and strangers around the world. Rachel unwrapped the gifts from her Secret Santa to discover a stuffed animal that she added to her teddy bear collection and a National Geographic coffee table book entitled “Journeys of a Lifetime.” Also in the package was a donation to Heifer International made on Rachel’s behalf, a gift that she said nailed it since the organization tries to offer an education and other benefits to people in need.
* When Yahoo overhauled its Mail product in October, many people howled at the redesign, and particularly missed a tabs feature that allowed users to multitask while writing and reading e-mails. On Thursday, the company reintroduced the feature with three small, excited words: “Tabs are back!”
* The number of requests Google receives from governments around the world to remove content from its services continue to rise at a rapid pace. Google received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content during the first half of 2013, a 68 percent increase over the 2,285 government removal requests the company received in the second half of 2012. Google released the updated numbers Thursday, which cover requests made from January to June 2013, as part of its Transparency Report.
* A Missouri mom is charged with child endangerment after one of her daughters snaps a picture of her other daughter (age 14) topless in the family hot tub. And posts it on Snapchat. So… Snapchat pictures don’t actually disappear? It’s a bit of a mystery.
* Foursquare said Thursday that it has raised $35 million in Series D financing. The news comes just weeks after the places-centric social network completed the iPhone rollout of its most ambitious — or obnoxious, depending on your preferences — feature to date: real-time recommendations.
* Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, illegally smuggled and sold 30 full rhinoceros horns for about $17,500 per pound. He also traded objects made from rhino horns and ivory elephant tusks to factories in China, where the horns are used to create fake antiques and powders for supposed medicinal remedies. (Never understood this. Isn’t the stuff in animal horns and antlers a slightly harder version of your toenails? Ew.)
* The diversity of the Internet is on full display with Pinterest’s top trending pins from the past year. Beer-candied bacon, anyone?
* The European Space Agency launched its star-surveying satellite Gaia into space Thursday, hoping to produce the most accurate three-dimensional map of the Milky Way and to better understand the evolution of our galaxy.