A banner advertising 'The Interview' goes down

Apparently, the US is willing to recruit any ally it can get in its digital battles -- including countries that are frequently its adversaries. Sources for both the Associated Press and the New York Times claim that American officials have asked China to implement a block that would "cripple" North Korea's ability to launch cyberattacks like the one that hobbled Sony Pictures. Unfortunately, this request may be more than a little optimistic. China reportedly agrees that the attacks aren't cool, but it hasn't promised help. It doesn't exactly have much of an incentive to lend a hand when it's frequently engaged in cyberwarfare with the US.

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Google's no stranger to tweaking your photos automagically, and now it's extending that expertise to video. By using Google+ and its auto-backup system for your media, Mountain View says it can adjust the lighting, color, stability and, soon enough, speech in any video you shoot. Just be sure to have Auto Enhance activated on your device and, well, that's the only thing you have to worry about actually. It's a bit different than what the search giant did with Auto Awesome videos, actually, and if you want to see an admittedly low quality sample, pop beyond the break.

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Evernote's bringing Context, one of its more interesting announcements during its fourth conference in October, to Android and Windows. This feature, which was first made available to iOS and Mac users in November, pulls content (based on what you're typing, hence its name) from various sources and displays them on screen. By "various sources," we mean your old notes, your co-workers' notes and a handful of websites, which includes The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and TechCrunch -- just click on an entry inside the Context panel to read it.

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Most of us will never be astronauts -- sorry to break it to ya -- but we can at least pretend to be aboard the Orion capsule with this video (below the fold), courtesy of NASA. Orion's camera captured 10 minutes of footage from the time it started blazing through Earth's atmosphere until it deployed its parachutes to slow down its descent into the ocean. You'll even see the plasma (created by friction between the atmosphere and the heat shield) change colors as the capsule speeds up and temperature increases. NASA launched a test flight of the Lockheed-made spacecraft in early December to test its components, especially its heat shield.

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Google is ready to up the level of Chromebook voice control, judging by a new, experimental release. According to François Beaufort, you can now say "OK, Google" to activate voice search on your Chrome OS notebook anytime the screen is on and unlocked. That always-on functionality has been available for a while now on Android phones and tablets, but until now, Chromebook users had to first open the app launcher or a new tab in Chrome. As it's still in the experimental stages, you must be running on the dev channel and enable the relevant flags, as shown in the source. Following a short voice training session, you'll be ready to start barking commands.

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Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

President Obama Tapes An Interview For The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert
by Will Leitch, Bloomberg

Thursday night's episode marked the end of a nine-year run for the The Colbert Report. Don't worry though, the show's namesake is taking over for David Letterman in 2015, but until then, take a look back at what made Stephen Colbert's overly conservative hijinks so darn compelling. As Bloomberg's Will Leitch puts it, "The politics were (sometimes, though less and less as the show aged) the canvas, but the comedy was always the paint."

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Tech Activists Protest SOPA And PIPA Bills

Remember that post Google put up this week that accused the MPAA of trying to resurrect the spirit of SOPA with the help of state prosecutors (that included evidence based on some of Sony Pictures' leaked emails)? It just turned into a lawsuit -- and it's already having an affect. The search giant has updated the page to explain that it's asking federal courts to dismiss a subpoena Attorney General Jim Hood sent to Google back in October. That 72-page document asserted that he believed that Google has violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act, and had failed to take actions to prevent crimes committed by using its services. Now that Google is suing, Hood made a statement via the New York Times, calling for a "time out" and saying he will call the company to "negotiate a peaceful resolution of the issues affecting consumers."

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You know what will go perfectly with those futuristic rocket-powered, heartrate-monitoring bikes? This smart helmet that Volvo wants to create. It's a two-way system that works by uploading both cyclists' and drivers' locations to Volvo's cloud. While a connected car's in-dash system makes that possible, the helmet needs to be linked to a bike app like Strava to do so. Bicyclists can then be warned that there's a car coming their way or crossing their path by warning lights built into the helmet.

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North Korea has ratcheted the absurdity level of the Sony hack up a notch by pleading its innocence again and even offering to help find the real perpetrators. The FBI recently blamed North Korea for the attack that forced Sony Pictures Entertainment to cancel The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. The nation is so anxious to "help" that it warned the US of "grave consequences" if it doesn't undertake a joint probe. While still denying culpability, North Korea's propaganda arm KCNA nevertheless went on in great detail about how the Interview "defamed its dignity," and said it would retaliate if the US refuses to work with it (judging by the rough translation).

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After helping push the entire automotive industry forward when it comes to autonomous driving, it appears Google is ready for some help with its own driverless cars. As the leader of the project told The Wall Street Journal, the folks in Mountain View aren't looking to replicate what Detroit-based and international automakers do best (build vehicles from the ground up). It's looking for an established player to help shoulder the load and bring the Google rides to market in the next five years. Until that happens, Chris Urmson says his team is partnering with automotive suppliers to move three generations beyond the cartoony-looking prototypes (pictured above) it has now. What's more, the search giant plans to on-road test this "beta one" fleet early next year. For California's sake, let's hope they're just as adept at sensing cyclists as their predecessors.

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