News Fuse for December 18, 2013

Apple

Here are today's top 10 stories from Tech News Today for December 18, 2013:

  1. Apple confirmed the new Mac Pro goes on sale tomorrow December 19th, starting at $3,000. The base model comes with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon CPU ("with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz"), 12GB DRAM, two AMD FirePro D300 GPUs, and a 256GB SSD. You'll be able to order online, through resellers and at Apple's retail stores. Read more at engadget.com.

  2. Ruh roh, China's largest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China, has stopped taking orders in Chinese currency because of regulatory pressure from the government, which has ordered businesses to stop accepting the virtual currency. Bitcoin recently topped $1,000, helped by demand from China. The move by BTC China sliced price of the virtual currency in half. however, BTC China will continue taking deposits in other currencies, the company announced on Weibo. Read more at theverge.com.

  3. MS board member John Thompson says Microsoft should pick a new CEO early next year. Thompson is leading the CEO search for Microsoft and in a blog post says the company has "identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals..." Microsoft's current CEO Steve Ballmer announced he was leaving the company back in August. Read more at allthingsd.com.

  4. Amazon announced it will bring its Amazon Web Services products to China. The service will include all your enterprise cloud favorites like EC2, S3, SQS, and all the other acronyms.Amazon has been providing service to Chinese companies like Xiaomi, but using local infrastructure will help improve its offering, as well as challenge Chinese company Alibaba for the title of Amazon of China. A limited preview will begin in early 2014. You can apply for early access at www.amazonaws.cn. Read more at techcrunch.com.

  5. U.S. President Obama is meeting with a panel he appointed to review government surveillance program privacy issues today, just days after the group submitted a report and recommendations on their findings. Obama said earlier this month in a television interview that he would be "proposing some self-restraint on the NSA" in reforms that the White House is prepared to announced in January. A federal judge ruled on Monday that the U.S. government's gathering of Americans' phone records is likely unlawful. Read more at reuters.com.

  6. Google Glass got an update. First up is the ability to take pictures by winking. Google says it expects the winking action to go beyond pictures to allow other functions like paying a cab. Recorded videos are also easier to upload to YouTube with the command "OK Glass, share with YouTube." Glass also gets full Hangouts support and a new way to lock your Glass with a set of taps and swipes. Read more at mashable.com.

  7. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has ordered Apple to make modifications to its refund policy in order to comply with consumer protection legislation. Apple will need to provide adequate compensation to customers with faulty devices in future, as well as re-examine any possible violations front he past two years and make restitution. Read more at smh.com.

  8. Chromebook is coming to desktops at CES! LG has announced the Chromebase, a 21.5-inch all-in-one computer that runs Chrome OS, with an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB of solid state storage within the monitor's 1080p IPS display. Want to use Chrome OS as a quick-booting operating system for simple tasks? This might be an excellent solution. Read more at theverge.com.

  9. Tired of scraping around for the right charger for your laptop? The International Electrotechnical Commission brings you hope with the announcement of Technical Specification 62700, which defines a standard for universal laptop chargers. The IEC standard for mobile phone chargers is making progress, so the next frontier is the laptop charger. IEC’s general secretary Frans Vreeswijk said A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering e-waste and its impact on our planet.” The new specification for notebooks will be published in early 2014. Read more at arstechnica.com.

  10. Delta's CEO Richard Anderson (not to be confused with Richard Dean Anderson of MacGuyver and Stargate SG-1 fame) sent a company-wide memo saying Delta will not allow cellular or VoIP calls on any Delta flights. Anderson says Delta will "move quickly to enable customers to use text, email, and other silent data transmission gate to gate." Ah, fly the quiet skies. Read more at techcrunch.com.

For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for December 18, 2013.