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The 404 1,445: Where we beat up on Bluetooth (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- The PonoPlayer ain't no ordinary MP3 player.

- A cheaper Pono alternative: FiiO's nifty $200 portable high-resolution music player is a knockout.

- Buy FLAC tracks from HDtracks.com.

- Poll: What's the worst audio format?.

- Follow Steve on Twitter.… Read more

Tesla Model S wins 'best overall' car by Consumer Reports

The story of Tesla is a bit like that of "The Little Engine That Could." It's a smaller company, which makes a product different than the rest, that's been working to stay afloat in a world of giant car companies.

Well, it appears Tesla has just made it over the mountain.

The company's all-electric Model S sedan was selected by Consumer Reports as 2014's "best overall" car.

Here's what Consumer Reports writes about the car:

Sure, you can talk about this electric luxury car's blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, compliant ride, … Read more

Apple touts better working conditions as factory audits jump

Apple is touting its success in improving working conditions across its international supply chain in a new Supplier Responsibility report. But as always, there's still work to be done.

The company on Thursday reported that it increased the number of supply chain audits to 451 last year. That's up from 298 in 2012. The 2013 audits covered nearly 1.5 million workers making Apple products. Apple also trained those workers on their rights, boosting the total number of educated workers to 3.8 million since 2007.

All in all, Apple's suppliers appear to be doing well in … Read more

Elon Musk talks Tesla Model X details, Model S upgrades, at Europe Q+A Sessions

Tesla Motors is notoriously stingy with information about its cars and future plans, to the great frustration of news-hungry Model S owners and fans.

But in a Q & A session in Norway on February 1, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the company's CTO JB Straubel revealed several intriguing tidbits about the Model S, the upcoming Model X electric SUV, and the company's planned mass-market Model E sedan.

Among the Model X highlights:

The Model X will have the same wheelbase as the Model S, and its length will be within 5 cm (about 2 inches). Width will … Read more

Tumblr lets loose its first Transparency Report

In an effort to be fully open, Tumblr unveiled a Transparency Report on Monday that detailed all government requests for user data. This report shows that in 2013, the company received 462 requests and it gave the government data 76 percent of the time. Tumblr said that from now on it will publish these Transparency Reports twice a year.

"Consistent with our core principles, we'd like to shine some light on an issue that is deeply important to both our community and the greater public: government requests for user information," Tumblr wrote in a blog post. "… Read more

Next Toyota Prius Hybrid to have more 'heart-racing' design?

For the last decade or so, Toyota's Prius hybrid has been the go-to car for buyers wanting something a little more fuel-efficient, a little greener than the norm.

While still immensely successful, today's Prius has more or less lost its unique selling point -- a host of plug-in vehicles has taken away its crown as the most efficient car on sale.

Perhaps a new and more "heart-racing" design will help the next model regain some of its shrinking green status, as that's what Toyota is planning for some of its less dramatic models.

Speaking to … Read more

Verizon Transparency Report reveals 164,000 subpoenas, 1,500 wiretaps

As expected, Verizon has released its 2013 Transparency Report, and the company's data shows the US is extremely interested in its network.

Last year, Verizon received more than 320,000 requests for customer information from US law enforcement agencies. Verizon was hit with more than 164,000 subpoenas and nearly 71,000 legal orders. Among those orders were 1,500 wiretap requests. Verizon received 37,000 warrants for information and about 50,000 "emergency requests."

Verizon has become the latest in a series of major companies to release information on government requests for its data. Google, Yahoo, … Read more

Internet ad sales climb to $10.7 billion

Advertisers spent $10.69 billion on Internet advertisements in this last quarter, breaking an all-time record on ad spending, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported Monday.

The trade group tracked a 15 percent year-over-year growth in ad dollars in the third quarter of 2013. In the third quarter of 2012, ad revenues totaled only $9.26 billion. The quarter's revenue was also a 4.2 percent rise from the second quarter of 2013.

"These figures reflect marketers' trust in interactive to deliver," Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB, said in a press release. "It is indicative of the … Read more

Google: Government takedown requests on the rise

The number of requests Google receives from governments around the world to remove content from its services continue to rise at a rapid pace.

Google received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content during the first half of 2013, a 68 percent increase over the 2,285 government removal requests the company received in the second half of 2012. Google released the updated numbers Thursday, which cover requests made from January to June 2013, as part of its Transparency Report.

Google spotlighted one trend in particular that it said has remained consistent since launching the report … Read more

The 404 1,396: Where we're one step closer to Instabook (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- News from Instagram, or, what the hell is this block of wood?

- Stress-buster: Microsoft bra battles emotional overeating.

- Sony patents "smart wig": Toupee with sensors on the way?

- Spike Away vest keeps people out of your personal space.… Read more