Tech 2.0 for Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The biggest Bitcoin exchange in China says it's no longer accepting yuan deposits, dealing another setback to the virtual currency. BTC China made the announcement in a notice on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Wednesday. The announcement comes two weeks after China's central bank said the country's banks and payments systems were barred from handling the virtual currency. The exchange said that "due to the reasons that everyone knows, BTC China has to temporarily stop its yuan account recharging functions." Account holders can still top up their accounts using Bitcoins and withdraw yuan. The price of Bitcoins tumbled after the announcement. The measures reflect growing concern by authorities about Bitcoins, which are created, distributed and authenticated independently of any bank or government.
Apple will start taking orders for its high-end Mac Pro desktop computer on Thursday. The black, cylinder-shaped machine is assembled in Austin, Texas, consistent with Apple's pledge to move manufacturing of an existing Mac line to the U.S. The Mac Pro, long considered a work horse among graphics and film professionals, is now one-eighth the volume of the previous, boxy model and is about 10 inches tall. With a starting price of $2,999, the computer can be configured with a faster processor, more memory and other attributes. Apple isn't making the Pro available for immediate pick up at a retail store. Customers must order online or at a store for delivery or store pickup. Initial orders will be shipped right away, but backups of days or weeks are possible.
You may not know his name. But if you are able to get on to the federal government's Web site and sign up for health care after all the glitches, you will have him to thank. His name is Kurt DelBene — and the former Microsoft executive is being named the head tech guy for HealthCare.gov. The health insurance Web site has been plagued with technical issues since it was rolled out. DelBene replaces White House adviser Jeffrey Zients, who was sent in by President Barack Obama to overhaul the Web site after its less-than-stellar launch in October. Zients says as he heads out the door that the site is working smoothly for most users. Dec. 23 is the deadline to enroll for coverage effective Jan. 1.
What would you say is the most photographed location on Instagram? You might think someplace like the Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal or even Times Square. But that honor doesn't go to any of those sites. It goes to a shopping mall in Bangkok. Instagram says Siam Paragon is the planet's most "Instagrammed" spot for 2013. Number two was Times Square and number three was Disneyland in California. Instagram won't say how many photos were taken at the mall. But Siam Paragon gets photographed a lot because many celebrities go there to post photos of themselves. And with many young people flocking there daily — and Thailand being one of the world's biggest users of social media — the five-story mall is a natural as the most photographed spot in the world in Instagram land.