The new Apple Mac Pro is here – but can we build it better (and cheaper) PC DIY styleToday, Apple launched their new Mac Pro (aka the trashbin, bazooka tube, water boiler, etc.). And while it's impressive how Apple's "highly modded PC" is able to meet thermal and power requirements in such a tiny size, all of this normally comes at a price, which is traditionally known as the "Apple Tax". We set out to find out just how much of a "tax" there is this time around by pitting their highest spec'd machine against what we could build with industry standard, off the shelf parts, available today. Futurelooks

Shopping for spy gear: catalog advertises NSA toolbox When it comes to modern firewalls for corporate computer networks, the world's second largest network equipment manufacturer doesn't skimp on praising its own work. According to Juniper Networks' online PR copy, the company's products are "ideal" for protecting large companies and computing centers from unwanted access from outside. They claim the performance of the company's special computers is "unmatched" and their firewalls are the "best-in-class." Despite these assurances, though, there is one attacker none of these products can fend off – the United States' National Security Agency. Spiegel

Goodbye, consoles For more than a decade, an Xbox console has lived under my television. I started with the original and moved on to the 360, and I have to admit that both offered a great couch-gaming experience in their day. The Xbox One isn't in my future, though. Instead, I'm going to build myself a new home-theater PC. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Xbone or even anti-console. The latest generation of Xbox and PlayStation machines has definite appeal. But, for the first time ever, the PC is comfortable enough in the living room that I don't need a complementary console. The Tech Report

The Oculus Rift: virtual reality is no longer a joke The decade's most exciting development in computer hardware looks a little like a fat black envelope stuck to a pair of ski goggles, and I had one strapped to my face two months ago as I sat at a desk in the Earls Court Exhibition Centre preparing to fly a Spitfire under a bridge. Headphones over my ears replaced the thumping bass of the surrounding trade show with the spluttery growl of a Merlin engine. Looking down, I saw a pair of khakied knees and a gloved hand gripping a control yoke; above and to either side, the sun glittered through the cockpit canopy. Telegraph

The decade-long quest to stop "Spamford" Wallace On a warm April morning in 2007, one of the world's most notorious spammers walked through the doors of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas. Though the Federal Trade Commission was attempting to collect a $4 million judgment against him, Sanford "Spamford" Wallace showed up to his sworn deposition without a lawyer---and without any of the documents required of him. Wallace, though nominally cooperative, had been nearly impossible to reach. Ars Technica

The great x86 pivot: Intel and AMD break for new markets in 2014 2014 will be a year of tremendous change for both Intel and AMD. Both companies are responding to rapidly shifting market dynamics as the computing market continues its greatest product transition since the PC debuted nearly forty years ago. The two CPU manufacturers are attacking this shift from different directions and with different product strategies; we'll start with Intel first. ExtremeTech

The mystery of the creepiest television hack Right up until 9:14 PM on November 22nd, 1987, what appeared on Chicago's television sets was somewhat normal: entertainment, news, game shows. That night, as usual, Dan Roan, a popular local sportscaster on Channel 9's Nine O'Clock News, was narrating highlights of the Bears' victory over the Detroit Lions. And then, suddenly and without warning, the signal flickered up and out into darkness. Vice

Surge of holiday packages delays UPS shipments A high volume of holiday packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS, the company said on Wednesday, delaying the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe and sending angry consumers to social media to vent. responded with an email to affected customers offering shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate. Reuters

The year megaplatforms ruled the Internet Here's something you probably didn't read this year. Buried deep in a 179-page SEC filing by a company you probably haven't heard of is a paragraph about a Gmail change that most people may not have noticed. But this IPO filing for Zulily, a daily deals site for parents, may contain the emblematic passage of this year in tech. BuzzFeed