Stolen Smartphones, Black Friday Bargains, TIME For Miley [Tech News Digest]

Today in Tech News Digest, a database of stolen smartphones is completed, Apple wins another lawsuit, Microsoft narrows its CEO search down to two people, the best Black Friday bargains are revealed, Miley Cyrus tops TIME poll, App Ops opens up Android, and the hunt for a hard drive containing $7.5 million worth of Bitcoins gets underway.

Stolen Smartphone Database Complete

The CTIA has completed its database of stolen smartphones. This allows carriers to block handsets that have been stolen, which is an increasingly common problem. This effort was started in 2012 but has only now been completed. All four major providers in the U.S. — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon — have backed the scheme, which covers LTE and 3G devices.

The U.S. database has also been integrated with international databases. In a press release, CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent, said, “As more countries and more carriers around the world participate in the 3G and 4G/LTE databases, criminals will have fewer outlets since these stolen phones would be blacklisted and could not be reactivated.” This is an important step in helping to deter theft, as many stolen smartphones are being shipped overseas.

While this should help prevent stolen smartphones from being used by those who obtained them illegally, it won’t do anything to help the victims of such crimes. My advice? Don’t buy a smartphone in the first place… no one wants to steal dumbphones.

Apple Wins Another Lawsuit

Apple has won another lawsuit, this time brought by its own customers. A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit brought by four plaintiffs upset over Apple’s alleged violation of its privacy policy. Apple stood accused of designing iOS to allow third parties to collect and analyze personal information about users.

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U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh dismissed the case, stating, “Plaintiffs must be able to provide some evidence that they saw one or more of Apple’s alleged misrepresentations, that they actually relied on those misrepresentations, and that they were harmed thereby.

Join us next week for another lawsuit involving Apple that will probably end in victory for Cupertino.

Microsoft CEO Search Narrows To Two

The search for Microsoft’s new CEO, set to replace Steve Ballmer in the next 12 months, continues, but it’s claimed the search has narrowed to just two candidates. The usual “people familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg that it’s between Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group Satya Nadella. Whoever is chosen, I doubt they’ll be quite an entertaining as Ballmer proved to be over the years.

Black Friday Bargains

It’s Black Friday, at least in the U.S., which means there are tech deals galore to be had if you know where to look. The Wirecutter has an exhaustive list of great deals on technology including smartphones, headphones, laptops, tablets, and televisions. Our own Matthew Hughes also found 10 tech bargains for Black Friday 2013.

Meanwhile, further proving Bitcoin’s growing mainstream acceptance, a website called Bitcoin Black Friday has deals on products from 400 retailers, all of which are available to buy using Bitcoin. MakeUseOf’s in-house podcast Technophilia recently had Jon Holmquist, the guy behind Bitcoin Black Friday, on as a guest, and the episode can be downloaded for your listening pleasure here.

Miley Tops TIME Poll

TIME, as it does every year, is currently trying to decide who its Person Of The Year is going to be. Names on the shortlist include Edward Snowden, Malala Yousafzai, and Pope Francis, but they are all currently being beaten in the reader poll by one Miley Cyrus, she of Wrecking Ball fame. How is this possible?

Because, quite simply, the poll is being rigged by trollish Internet users. The Daily Dot has a nice write-up of how this is happening, and, more to the point, how it’s proving so successful that Miley is on course to win the poll. However, the results have no bearing on the final decision, with the editors of TIME reserving the right to choose whoever they damn well like. Regardless, Miley Cyrus is our true Person Of The Year… the Internet has decreed it.

App Ops Opens Android

A new app called App Ops is available to download on Google Play. App Ops allows “anyone running Android 4.3 or 4.4 to access Android’s hidden permissions controls for specific apps.” The free version offers some features, but the paid-for version offers a lot more. It’s just a shame Google won’t open up these permission controls to everyone without the need for an additional app.

The $7.5 Million Hard Drive

And finally, a British man is severely regretting his decision to throw out an old hard drive, as it contains 7,500 Bitcoins. James Howell, from Newport in Wales, bought the Bitcoins in 2009 when the virtual currency was almost worthless. After spilling a drink on his computer he dismantled the damaged machine a few years ago, and stored the hard drive in a drawer before eventually throwing it out a few weeks ago.

It was only when Bitcoin started becoming mainstream news that Howell realized he’d trashed his only means of cashing in the virtual currency, which, after a huge surge in value, is now worth around $7.5 million. Howell has now begun to search the landfill site his hard drive ended up buried in, but the chances of locating and recovering the hard drive are extremely small.

This demonstrates how you can go from virtual millionaire to broke klutz in the space of one day.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks

Image Credits: CeBIT Australia, Blake Patterson

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