In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from this week. Everything from the biggest Black Friday deals to lab-engineered shrimp — it’s all here.
Calling Black Friday the Super Bowl of commerce would be an understatement on the level of saying the sun is hot. Even with last year’s Black Friday weekend experiencing an 11-percent decline, the holiday weekend still attracted over $50 billion in sales. This year, retailers are slashing so many prices, the pre-Black Friday deals could warrant the weeks prior to being its own holiday. But, do not narrow your choices to the $5 Skylanders Friends 3D Backpack or that 1 cent stack of paper because you were overwhelmed by the savings. Let Digital Trends’ annual Black Friday help you sift through the vast array of deals and discover the best ones.
Selfie sticks can be awkward to use, and have even been banned in some areas. For those who feel the need to post and share their face with the world, there’s a new product in development. Smart Ltd. announced its plans to take its prototype Selfie Mirror to the open crowdfunding market in an effort to release what it is proclaiming to be the world’s first smart mirror; one designed specifically with hands-free selfies in mind.
Apple has changed its mind about the popular screen brightness management tool F.lux. Apparently, the company claims F.lux’s developers weren’t allowed to use Xcode or the iOS standard developer kit to sideload the app. For those who don’t know, F.lux’s app limits the brightness of devices and cuts down on blue light. Scientists state that limiting exposure to blue light before sleep is key to a good night’s rest. Some sources suggest that Apple may have banned the app for selfish reasons. The iPhone maker may be working on a similar feature for its next iOS devices.
With its tiny footprint and even tinier engine, the Mitsubishi Mirage may seem like a throwback to the bad old days of tinny econoboxes. But the Mirage has been something of a sales surprise for Mitsubishi, so much so that the Japanese carmaker is investing in a noteworthy update that includes fresh styling, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
In what is surely the single most insidious case of excellent customer service, a new report from NBC News revealed the existence of a 24/7 Jihadi Help Desk, meant to spread ISIS’ extremist propaganda via the Internet worldwide. The terror organization, which has already become alarmingly adept in terms of its social media targeting and advertising tactics, is so intent on spreading its message of hate that it has even established this all-hours online service, which is operated by six senior members of the organization. The “express purpose” of the Jihadi Help Desk is reportedly aiding “would-be jihadists use encryption and other secure communications in order to evade detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.”
Next page: 5 more tech stories you might have missed this week
Sorry bad guys, terrorists, and other enemies of the state: your metal barriers and locks are no match for American ingenuity. A collaborative effort between the U.S. Air Force and defense contractor Energetic Materials and Products has resulted in a new tool that can cut through metal in a matter of seconds. They’re calling it the TEC Torch, but its name doesn’t do it justice. The torch shoots out a mix of vaporized metal and particulate matter at temperatures exceeding 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is twice the temperature required to melt steel, and sufficient to melt just about any other metal for that matter either.
It’s hard to get kids to code. Up until very recently, it was largely inaccessible, with little curricula in place and few teachers qualified to teach it. And even today, with all the progress we’ve made, it’s still complicated — I mean, come on, it’s literally a new language. But if coding could be as easy as playing a 3D game, maybe the children of the 21st century would have a whole new incentive to pick up a skill that is only becoming increasingly important. So here to save the day is Code Warriors, described as “a new 3D coding game designed with special analytics tracking for students and teachers to learn coding in and outside of the classroom.”
Sprint is offering to halve your phone bill again, but this time it’s throwing T-Mobile into the list of accepted carriers. If you have a $50 phone bill from T-Mobile, Sprint will only charge you $25 for the same amount of data, calls, and texts. T-Mobile CEO John Legere, of course, is none too pleased about it. He also pointed out on Twitter that a number of the Uncarrier’s features aren’t available on Sprint, including free international data and texts, unlimited free music streaming over data, and free video streaming in 480p over data.
The 3 Series is the car that made BMW great. With over 14 million built and sold over the last 40 years, the 3 Series accounts for more than 25 percent of all BMWs made each year. So it’s fair to say that the new 3 Series coming for 2016 is a make-or-break car for BMW. Overall, the history of the 3 Series is a story of greatness with a just few dull moments. The high points include the first M3 back in the 1980s, the advent of the turbocharged 335i in 2007, and now the new 340i is poised to replace the 335 and begin the next chapter.
With 44 million followers on Instagram and more than 2,000 posts sharing various images and videos, it’s easy to understand why Justin Bieber might be one of the social network’s most popular “grammers.” However, besides breaking the hearts of tween and teenaged Beliebers, the pop star has recently been revealed as the cause of a broken Instagram. The app’s servers just couldn’t handle all those fans’ likes all at one time. The fix, fortunately, occurred last summer, when parent company Facebook moved the Instagram platform to its own computer data centers.
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