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Today in Tech News Digest, Bitcoin enjoys its biggest day yet, Google and Microsoft team up to combat child porn, vBulletin is hacked, Sony issues a fix for your bricked PlayStation 4, Pocket 5.0 is released, Venice is added to Google
Canal Street View, and YouTube goes down for around half an hour, causing the Web to lose its collective s**t.
Bitcoin’s Big Day
Bitcoin, the virtual currency that has entered into mainstream conversation in 2013, had quite the day on Monday (Nov. 18). First up, its value hit a new all-time high (at the time of writing) of US$900, but in a devastating demonstration of its volatility, it dropped back to $650 soon afterwards. This is why trading in Bitcoin isn’t for the faint of heart.
"I'm looking for a currency that fluctuates by about 50-95% per day, what would you recommend?" – how most people discover Bitcoin
— Aaron Levie (@levie) November 19, 2013
In other news a U.S. Senate committee hearing heard from the Department of Justice that Bitcoin can be a “legal means of exchange,” with the further admission that “virtual currencies, in and of themselves, are not illegal.” Even Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, chimed in on the debate, stating that the federal Reserve isn’t planning on trying to regulate the currency.
The problem the authorities have so far had accepting Bitcoin as a legitimate currency is the range of illegal or illicit activities it is used to pay for. While the original Silk Road was shut down, a successor has already sprung up in its place. Meanwhile, Forbes has an intriguing, though rather scary, write-up about the ‘Assassination Market’, an attempt to crowdfund political assassinations. All supported by Bitcoin, naturally. The aforementioned Bernanke, incidentally, is on the list of targets, alongside President Obama and NSA director Keith Alexander.
If you want to learn all about this fascinating virtual currency be sure to read our guide to Bitcoin. It’s free, so no Bitcoins are required to read it.
Google & Microsoft Combat Child Porn
Google and Microsoft have both introduced new search algorithms designed to combat child pornography. In response to pleas from British Prime Minister David Cameron to make it harder for potential pedophiles to find content online, both companies have added 100,000 search terms to those which will return no results likely to lead to illegal material.
Initially being rolled out in English, these changes will soon affect results in more than 150 languages. Unfortunately it won’t do anything to combat the sharing of such material through peer-to-peer networks or on the Dark Web. Still, making a start is better than ignoring the problem altogether in the hopes it will simply go away.
vBulletin Gets Hacked
Popular forum software maker vBulletin has, for the last few days, been suffering from “sophisticated attacks” on its network. User information was exposed during the hacks, including “customer IDs and encrypted passwords.” All users have therefore had their passwords reset.
This led to speculation that a critical vulnerability exists in the vBulletin software, but the company has denied these claims, insisting that the “best defense against potential compromises is to keep your system running on the very latest patch release of the software.”
How To Fix Your PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 was released in some territories on Friday (Nov. 15) and reports immediately emerged of faulty consoles for the so-called ‘Blinking Blue Light of Death” (BBLoD) which essentially turns this state of the art games console into a shiny black brick. Sony isn’t ignoring the problem, however, posting a detailed series of potential fixes for your borked PS4 in a thread on its support forums, as spotted by Joystiq. Which is nice of them. Though not as nice as releasing hardware that actually works in the first place.
Pocket 5.0 Arrives
Pocket, the app that lets you save Web content for viewing later, has released a new update. Pocket 5.0 introduces several new features, including Highlights — which places your saved content into specific categories — and Preferences — which automatically personalizes content recommendations from new apps and adapts to your preferred sites and interests. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.
Venice Comes To Google Street View
Oh my God, best natural antidepressant came out today: Google Street View of Venice (go full screen mode) http://t.co/I8vxIZOLTx
— Diane Jeantet (@dianejeantet) November 14, 2013
Venice is the latest city to have been added to Google Street View, though this particular offering is more like Google Canal View due to the lack of many actual streets. An astonishing 265 miles were covered on foot (through the narrow cobbled walkways) and 114 miles were covered by boat (via the famous gondolas) to capture the images needed to make this a reality.
YouTube Was Down For Half An Hour
And finally, YouTube went down for around half an hour, before being restored with no loss of life. That’s all that happened, but this lack of any real incident didn’t stop multiple tech sites from acting as though the sky was falling in. See CNET, Gizmodo, The Verge, GigaOM, Mashable, Slashgear, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. No cat videos for a full 30 minutes, how will we cope?!