20 awe-inspiring views of Earth from space in 2013

For the past few years, DigitalGlobe has been snapping high-resolution shots of Earth from its constellation of satellites, picking the most interesting ones, and asking the public to help select its image of the year.

This year the company gave CNET access to the 20 nominees, which show our planet at its most awesome, weird, and wacky.… Read more

Bank of America deems Bitcoin the next big thing

It appears not only people in the tech world believe Bitcoin is the currency of the future -- one of the US' biggest banks also sees legitimacy in the virtual currency.

Bank of America published its first research report (PDF) on Bitcoin on Thursday saying that the digital currency could become a major contender to other types of online money-transfer providers.

"We believe Bitcoin could become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers," Bank of America wrote in its report. "As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin … Read more

Chinese government to banks: No way on the Bitcoin

Bitcoin, the increasingly popular encrypted digital currency, will not be traded at Chinese banks.

The Chinese government sent down the order on Thursday, saying that while trading in the digital currency is allowed for Chinese citizens, they cannot head to banks and attempt to exchange them for real currency. The government claims that Bitcoins pose a potential risk to the financial system. A posting on the People's Bank of China said the effort is tied to the government's desire to limit money laundering.

Bitcoin's popularity has prompted governments around the world to take a hard look at … Read more

More than a chipmaker? Intel's blown opportunities

Craig Barrett, when he was CEO of Intel, once compared the semiconductor company to a creosote bush. The tall, desert plant literally oozes poison, snuffing out all vegetation around it. The same could be said for Intel's core PC chip business, Barrett believed.

Microprocessors, he said in an article published more than a decade ago, "are a dream business, with wonderful margins and a wonderful market position. How could anything else compete here for resources and profitability?"

Barrett might have been talking about Intel of 2000 when he made those comments, but the statement still rings pretty … Read more

Spotify: We've paid out $1 billion in royalties since launch

Spotify has launched a new Web site in an effort to make its business model more transparent to artists and other music professionals. Along the way, the company also announced interesting details on just how much cash it doles out.

According to Spotify, its new site is designed to provide additional insight into its operation through the use of data and business analysis. As part of that, Spotify said on Monday that it has issued $1 billion in royalties since its inception in 2009. At this time last year, its total royalty payout was at $500 million, meaning during 2013 … Read more

Mall of the future? eBay's new storefronts can gather your data

SAN FRANCISCO -- Uri Minkoff, CEO of fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, climbed through an opening in a wall leading to an empty retail space inside the Westfield Shopping Centre in downtown San Francisco. It was an unexpected sight: The stylish Minkoff, sporting a slim-fitted blazer and designer jeans, checking out the dark room, construction material strewn about.

But Minkoff doesn't care about the room itself; he cares about the entrance, where there is a computer setup that, he hopes, will boost his sales this holiday season. That's where potential shoppers will touch a piece of glass, iPad style, … Read more

Black Friday deal week: The big day

Happy National Consumerism Day, everyone! By which I mean, of course, Black Friday. Feel like maybe it's lost its mojo? Like you couldn't possibly discover any deals better than what you see all year long? Think again. I come to you bearing not only some surprisingly excellent bargains, but also a smattering of Cheapskate exclusives. Starting with this one:

Talk to the hand You know how it's winter? And you know what a hassle it is to hold your phone up to your ear when it's freezing cold out? Forget that -- just hold your gloved … Read more

Eat your Instagrams in marshmallow form

Some Instagrams look good enough to eat, especially when they're glorious food photos. You could just pop them in your mouth. With a little assist from Boomf, your Instagram-eating dreams could come true.

You start by connecting your Instagram account with Boomf. The service takes your chosen Instagram images and prints them out on edible marshmallows. Imagine the possibilities. You could go meta and eat marshmallows printed with pictures of marshmallows. You could snack on adorable photos of your cats. You could roast your buddies over a campfire.

Each package consists of nine marshmallows with your choice of images and costs about $20 with free shipping in the UK. Boomf recommends avoiding images with large dark areas because the details get washed out.… Read more

Tongue electrode lets you taste flavor that isn't there

What if you could play, say, the game Cooking Mama and virtually taste the dishes you make? Or watch "Iron Chef" (still the best cooking competition ever on TV) and taste the dishes alongside the judges?

Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore have built what they call the Digital Taste Simulator, an electrode that sits on the tip of the user's tongue and re-creates flavors.

It works by sending tiny alternating currents and slight temperature changes into the tongue that fool it into "tasting" four flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. "We have found noninvasive electrical and thermal stimulation of the tip of the tongue successfully generates the primary taste sensations," Ranasinghe said. … Read more

American Express is Switzerland in mobile payment war

American Express, unlike seemingly everyone else with a stake in the financial world, isn't interested in creating its own digital wallet for mobile payments.

Instead, it is dipping its foot into different facets of the mobile payment world, going for a more neutral stance.

"We want our card members to use their cards in whatever form or technology they choose," said David Yoo, senior vice president of mobile products and services for American Express.

Rather than get involved in the brewing mobile payment wars, which includes rivals such as Visa and MasterCard, but also Google, the wireless … Read more