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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-03-20

Bitcoin getting a boost from euro crisis

Today on the net, digital currency Bitcoin is soaring amid the euro crisis. Online uproar over plans to shut down Google Reader. And a Holocaust survivor is tracking down his long lost twin brother via social media.

Bitcoin getting a boost from euro crisis

The announcement that Cyprus would impose a tax on bank accounts as part of the country’s bailout plan has raised strong concerns among a lot of Europeans who are now looking to place their savings elsewhere. And whilst some will be opting to hide their money under the mattress, others are considering converting their cash into digital currency. In Spain for example, several Bitcoin related apps have started spiking on the national smartphone market.

Introduced in 2009, bitcoin is a digital currency used by web users to carry out decentralized, anonymous and free online transactions. The bitcoin money supply is determined by an algorithm, so there is no bank involved and it cannot be controlled by any government. So whilst this offers all sorts of money laundering opportunities, it is winning over a growing number of savers who have lost confidence in the traditional banking system.

Bitcoins can be converted into dollars or euros via virtual currency exchange offices like the site Mt Gox. And European demand appears to have soared in recent months. The bitcoin value plummeted in 2011 after a security breach at the leading exchange, but it’s now stronger than ever, one bitcoin would have got you 13 dollars back in January, it’s now worth over 53 dollars.

More and more sites are now accepting the bitcoin payment method, and with this recent surge on the stock market it is now becoming a new safe-haven currency for Europeans in these times of economic downturn.

 

Uproar about Google Reader shutdown

Google is doing a spot of spring cleaning: the search engine has announced it will be shutting down some services it feels have become outdated. And so as of July, Google Reader, an aggregator of content served by web feeds which informs web users of any updates to websites they subscribe to, will no longer be in service.

A surprising move given that this is the first time the Californian giant has decided to get rid of a tool that is still used by a large number of web users. In the past only failing products, like Google Wave, have been eliminated in this way.

The Mountain View firm says the service, which was launched back in 2005, is losing its popularity. To the great annoyance of loyal subscribers: the impending death of Google Reader has fast become one of the most popular trending topics on Twitter.

There are even several e-petitions doing the rounds online, pleading with Google to change its mind, drawing over 130,000 signatures so far. Other fans of the service have set up this site, displaying an animated image depicting how subscribers feel about the closure of their favourite tool.

Whether all this campaigning will prompt the American giant to backtrack, remains to be seen. In the meantime however the announcement has had a positive impact on other feed reader applications like Feedly for example, which has announced in a blog post the arrival of hundreds of thousands of new members, former Google reader devotees. And countless web users have also taken to Twitter looking for alternatives if indeed Google Reader does disappear on July 1.

 

Now trending on social networks

Menachem Bodner was just four years old when he was separated from his twin brother after they were liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp. 68 years later the Holocaust survivor, who now lives in Israel, is hoping to track down his brother Jeno who he believes is still alive, but may have changed names after being adopted. The only tangible clue Menachem Bodner has is that in Auschwitz his brother’s arm was tattooed with the number A7734, which is the name of the campaign launched on social networks aiming to reunite the brothers as soon as possible.

 

Floor plans of popular TV show apartments

The floor plans of apartments from popular TV shows: this is what’s on offer on this Tumblr blog belonging to artist Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde, better known under the online pseudonym Nikneuk. The drawings boast extraordinary attention to detail, taking you to the Simpsons living room for example, or the apartments occupied by the characters from Friends, there’s also the home of the most famous small screen serial killer of all time, Dexter.

 

Video of the day

Are you aged 18 or over, in perfect health and have a taste for adventure? If the answer is yes, the pay close attention to this video which explains how the “Mars One” project hopes to establish human settlement on the Red Planet by 2023. And to finance the project, the private space venture company has teamed up with the creators of the “Big Brother” TV show: the aim is to create a reality TV program, broadcasting the adventures of the astronauts during their 8 month journey into space followed by their life on Mars...

By Electron Libre

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