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Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles, sitting at second right, attends a press conference at the Justice Ministry in Tokyo Friday night, Feb. 28, 2014. The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection, acknowledging that a significant amount of the virtual currency had gone missing. Karpeles appeared before Japanese TV news cameras Friday, bowing deeply for several minutes. He said a weakness in the exchange's systems was behind the massive loss of the virtual currency. (Kyodo News/File/AP )

Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy: what to keep in mind when using Bitcoin (+video)

By Angela ColleyGuest blogger / 02.28.14

The largest Bitcoin exchange in the world appears to have gone belly-up after apparently losing hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoins after a long-term hacker attack. The fallout has resulted in an increased scrutiny of Bitcoin safety — leading more people to consider pulling their Bitcoins offline — and raises questions about how far this nascent unregulated financial market will go.

According to Wired, an exploit in Mt. Gox's website allowed hackers to siphon off millions of Bitcoins over a two year period. The crumbling of Mt. Gox, which lost around $350 million in Bitcoins, has prompted some Bitcoin investors to start storing their digital currency offline, according to MarketWatch.

Going Back to Paper for Digital Currency

And yes, you can store Bitcoins offline: each Bitcoin has a key, like a serial number, which allows the Bitcoin to be spent. Without the key, there's no Bitcoin. So some users have taken to printing out the key on paper, or storing the data on a device not connected to the Internet, or a 'cold' device. While some customers want security in lieu of this disaster, they are still operating within a completely unregulated market.

No Real Banks Means Little Safety

Printing out Bitcoins or keeping them offline isn't like pulling money out of a bank and storing it under a mattress because Bitcoin 'banks' aren't recognized as banks. A recent article by MarketWatch mentions one company that stores Bitcoins offline in a bank vault for a 2% annual fee. And while it's insured against theft, it's not a real bank. Another company, FlexCoin, claims it is the "world's first Bitcoin bank" but also states "technically we're not a licensed bank. We're a Bitcoin bank." A thumb drive can be lost, a hard drive fried, or a Bitcoin key trashed. Once a Bitcoin is gone, it's gone; there's no Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covering your loss. ( Continue… )

Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro is displayed at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Calif., in 2009. There's a great deal on MacBook Pro laptops this week. (Paul Sakuma/AP/File)

Need a laptop? Check out these almost-Black Friday deals

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 02.27.14

This week's best laptop deals include a healthy mix of powerful Haswell-based machines alongside previous-generation laptops like the Apple Ivy Bridge-based MacBook Pro Retina laptop. We've also found an all-time low on the 11.6" ASUS VivoBook X200CA and a Haswell-based desktop replacement that's just $20 over its Black Friday mention.

  1. Apple MacBook Pro Core i7 2.8GHz 15.4" Laptop with Retina Display
    Store: MacMall
    Price: $2,299.99 via $50 mail-in rebate with free shipping
    Lowest By: $749

    Is It Worth It?: It may not be the current Haswell MacBook Pro, but this Ivy Bridge-based machine still packs a powerful punch. It's been fitted with 16GB of RAM, a 768GB SSD, and a 2.8GHz quad-core Ivy Bridge CPU. It also packs the stunning 15.4" 2880x1800 Retina display along with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1GB video card and 802.11a/n WiFi.

  2. HP ENVY 15t-j100 Quad Edition Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 15.6" 1080p LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: HP Home & Home Office
    Price: $759.99 via coupon code "WANT175" with free shipping
    Lowest By: $55
    Expires: March 1

    Is It Worth It?: Although it's $159 pricier than last week's mention, this 5.6-lb. HP ENVY 15t-j100 packs significantly better specs, starting with a 15.6" 1080p display (last week's model topped out at 1366x768) and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M 2GB graphics card. Add to that a Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive and you've got a killer system in the making. Even better, coupon code "WANT175" takes $55 off. ( Continue… )

According to a recent survey by Fixya, some of the most common problems that appear in cars include trouble with the transmission, gas pedal and brakes. (Lara Signorelli/The Christian Science Monitor/File)

Determining the cost of car maintenance

By Lou CarlozoGuest blogger / 02.26.14

Even before you work diligently to get your car reach 200,000 miles, it's important to know which makes and models have the better shot of reaching that milestone without a bevy of mechanical issues. Publications such as Consumer Reports do a great job of testing products that are new to the market. But it’s another matter entirely to collect data on cars that are already on the road. That’s what makes Fixya’s newest “Test of Time“ report on sedans so special.

What Cars Make the Grade?

To compile their "grades," Fixya collected data from more than 30 million users and tracked troubleshooting requests of five top-selling sedans: the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus. What emerges is a two-digit decimal score (.15 for the Camry, for example) that indicates how reliable the car will be. ( Continue… )

Two people lounge with with a view of the Gulf of Mexico from Pass-a-Grille in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Spring break deals can be hard to come by, but you can maximize your savings by booking air travel at the right time. ( Lara Cerri/The Tampa Bay Times/AP/File)

Spring break deals: How to save the most on travel

By Marcy BonebrightGuest blogger / 02.25.14

The time to finalize your spring break plans is drawing nigh, but this popular travel season can put you in the red faster than a student loan if you're not careful. Hopper, a travel website, recently studied the prices of February to April travel to popular spring break destinations. The site's data revealed that choosing the right time to book and the right time to travel are the key components of scoring awesome spring break deals.

Buying your ticket at the right time can save you a ton of money. "Book your ticket at least 15 days in advance," the site advises. A "4 to 14 day advance purchase will increase your ticket price by 29% and a last minute purchase (0-3 days) will increase the price by 62%." Importantly, opting for the convenience of a non-stop flight won't save you a lot of money over a multi-stop flight. Because spring break destinations are so popular during this time of year, the site found that "including a Saturday night stay, which often has a large impact on price, did not offer additional savings."

When you travel can also have a huge impact on the price of your ticket, especially if you're traveling in mid-March. According to Hopper, the weeks of March 16 and March 23 will see a 34% and 33% jump in airfare rates, respectively. No matter when you travel, try to avoid peak days: "A Thursday departure, on average, will add 12% to your ticket price. A Friday departure will add 22% and a Saturday departure will add 18%." ( Continue… )

Local San Francisco holiday shoppers check out the new HP ENVY Leap Motion SE and HP Chromebook 14 during an HP Joy Caravan event in San Francisco this past November. The HP Envy 15 is one of this week's best laptop deals. (Tony Avelar/AP Images for HP/File)

Laptop deals: Save $450 on multimedia-friendly computers

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 02.24.14

Coupons rule this week's best laptop deals with codes that slash up to $480 off a variety of machines with the latest Intel processor, starting with the Editors' Choice HP ENVY 15, which packs a quad-core CPU and 8GB of RAM. Hybrid fans can also take $200 off Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro while Dell's $550 desktop replacement sports the latest hardware without the sticker shock.

  1. HP ENVY 15t-j100 Quad Edition Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: HP Home & Home Office
    Price: $599.99 via coupon code "50PDS599" with free shipping
    Lowest By: $264
    Expires: February 22

    Is It Worth It?: In addition to being $250 cheaper than last week's mention, this HP ENVY 15t-j100 also packs significantly better specs, starting with a Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor. (Which tops last week's dual-core CPU.) The 5.6-lb. Editors' Choice laptop also includes 8GB of RAM, a 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit LCD, and a 1TB hard drive. Sure, you lose the touch-screen capabilities found in last week's configuration, but you save $250, get a faster processor, and snag free shipping too.

  2. Lenovo IdeaPad Z510 Intel Haswell Core i5 2.5GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: Lenovo
    Price: $579 via coupon code "USPZ5197213" with free shipping
    Lowest By: $20
    Expires: February 20

    Is It Worth It?: Part of Lenovo's entertainment series of laptops, the Z510 is built for media, whether you're consuming or creating it. The 4.9-lb. laptop even packs a 15.6" 1366x768 anti-glare LED-backlit LCD. Also onboard you'll find an Intel Haswell Core i5 2.5GHz dual-core processor, a generous 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. Though we saw it $30 less in November, it's still among the cheapest Z510s we've seen with 8GB of RAM.

  3. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro Intel Haswell Core i7 1.8GHz 13.3" Touchscreen Laptop
    Store: Lenovo
    Price: $1,199 via coupon code "YOGA2PRODEAL" with free shipping
    Lowest By: $380

    Is It Worth It?: "The Yoga 2 Pro is the most versatile Windows convertible we know of," says Engadget. More importantly, it addresses many of the flaws of the original Yoga while simultaneously being lighter, thinner, and faster. Indeed, one of the Yoga 2 Pro's biggest upgrades is its 13.3" QHD+ 3200x1800 screen. This configuration also includes a Core i7 Haswell dual-core 1.8GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. At 3.1 lbs., the folks at PC Mag believe it's too heavy for prolonged use as a tablet, but call it an otherwise attractive gift for early adopters and graphics arts mavens.

  4. Dell Inspiron 17 Intel Haswell Core i5 1.6GHz 17.3" LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: Dell Home
    Price: $549.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $200

    Is It Worth It?: Although it's the heaviest laptop in our roundup this week, the 7.3-lb. Dell Inspiron 17 doesn't lack anything in the specs department. Housing a Core i5 1.6GHz dual-core Haswell CPU, the laptop features a 17.3" 1600x900 LED-backlit LCD, 6GB RAM, and a 750GB hard drive. Sure, we've seen cheaper configurations of this laptop, but this model packs better-than-average specs.

  5. Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p Intel Haswell Core i7 2.4GHz 14" LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: Lenovo
    Price: $819 via coupon code "PRESIDENTS" with free shipping
    Lowest By: $480
    Expires: February 19

    Is It Worth It?: With its alluring red accents and backlit keyboard, there's no mistaking the Y410p's gaming DNA. This 5.5-lb. machine sports Intel's latest Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz Haswell quad-core processor, a 1600x900 LED-backlit LCD, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive with 24GB SSD, and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M 2GB video card.

  6. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Haswell Core i5 1.6GHz 15.6" LED-Backlit Laptop
    Store: Dell Home
    Price: $599.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $290
    Expires: March 20

    Is It Worth It?: Powered by a dual-core Core i5 Haswell 1.6GHz processor, the Inspiron 15R makes for an excellent everyday laptop. It includes a 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit LCD, 8GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive. Even better, it's currently $290 off through March 20.

– Louis Ramirez is a senior features writer for, where this article first appeared.

An employee stocks products along one of the many miles of aisles at an Fulfillment Center in Phoenix. The company is increasing the price of its Prime membership from $79 to $99 per year. (Ross D. Franklin/AP/File )

Amazon raises price of Prime service in Europe

By Jeff SomogyiGuest blogger / 02.23.14

As we've previously reported, Amazon has been contemplating raising the cost of its popular Prime shipping service by as much as $40. However, when we polled our readers, that news didn't go over so well. In a DealNews survey, 65% of respondents said that they would definitely not pay more for the service.

That said, Amazon's latest move might have many of you warming up your fingers, getting ready to do some cancellation-clicking, because we've learned that the mega-retailer has just hiked the price of Prime in Europe. ( Continue… )

Three styles of Sperry top sider boat shoes are displayed. Need a pair of no fuss men's shoes? Check out these deals on Toms, Reeboks, and more. (Macy's/AP/File)

No fuss men's footwear

By Marcy BonebrightGuest blogger / 02.22.14

Sometimes a guy just wants a simple, sporty pair of shoes that won't let him down. We feel that, so today we're highlighting the best no muss, no fuss men's shoe deals of the week. Save $16 on a pair of Guess sneakers, score a pair of Reeboks for $20, or grab some Toms slip-ons at 40% off.

  1. Guess Men's Trippy3 Shoes
    Store: 6pm
    Price: $39.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $16

    Is It Worth It?: Decidedly un-boring with their snake-print fabric and metal accents, the Guess Trippy3 sneakers in Black or White may seem like an odd choice for a list of casual shoes. But once you look past their flash, you'll see these high-tops have a ton of practical features like flexible soles, super-padded collars, and over-sized eyelets for easy lace-ups. Plus, you'll save $16 on these Editors' Choice sneakers. They're available in sizes 8 to 13, although not in all size/color combinations.

  2. New Balance Men's MT610V2 Running Shoes
    Store: 6pm
    Price: $30.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $14

    Is It Worth It?: If you're looking for a pair of trail-running shoes that won't weigh you down with a lot of unnecessary fluff, then you're looking for the New Balance MT610V2 in Grey/Orange. Featuring a breathable upper with synthetic overlays, this shoe is designed to take the punishment of off-road running without sacrificing flexibility. A $14 savings, these trainers come in medium, wide, and extra wide widths in sizes 7 to 15, although not in all size/width combos. ( Continue… )

'House of Cards' stars Kevin Spacey (l.) and Robin Wright (r.). (Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix/AP)

Binge-watching Netflix may cost you extra

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 02.20.14

The much-anticipated second season of House of Cards arrived last Friday and if you binge-watched the entire season in one weekend, your cable provider may want a word with you.

Though many aren't aware, your ISP monitors data usage. Go over your cap and you may be throttled, billed extra, or have your account suspended. Comcast recently made a bid to merge with Time Warner Cable, and while the latter imposes no data caps on its customers, Comcast has in the past and continues to do so. It's still too early to predict whether or not Time Warner Cable customers will be slapped with data caps should the merger go through, but as more people turn to Netflix and Amazon as their main source of TV entertainment, it's a question we need to address now. ( Continue… )

Billboards for the Note 3 hang at a showroom of Samsung Electronics in Seoul, South Korea. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is rumored to be announced soon, and you can get one of the best smartphone deals around by trading in your old Galaxy before the announcement is made official. (Lee Jin-man/AP/File)

Smartphone deals: How to get the Samsung Galaxy S5 (kind of) for free

By Louis RamirezGuest blogger / 02.20.14

Samsung is on the verge of unveiling its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5. And while the latest Galaxy S5 rumors have us excited about the prospects of a larger screen, built-in iris scanner, and 2K resolution display, now is also the best time to think about getting a smartphone deal by cashing in your current phone.

In fact, if you want to maximize your earnings to help offset the cost of the new Galaxy S5, you should sell now. While people in the business of buying used electronics are certainly aware of the impending announcement, the resale value of a device will typically drop further once the next generation is made official. So if you sell now, and the new S5 is priced like previous models at $199.99 (with carrier subsidy), you could wind up paying close to nothing if you play your cards right.

However, keep in mind that next week's announcement might not signal a time to buy just yet. Thus, selling now will only really work if you have a back up phone to use until the Galaxy S5 officially ships. Alternatively, some sites like Gazelle offer up to a 30-day holding period wherein you can secure a buying rate and continue using your old phone until your new one arrives.

Sell Now and Get Up to $200 for Your Dated Galaxy S III

If you have an out-of-contract 16GB Galaxy S III in White that's in close-to-mint condition, you could pocket up to $200 (after applicable fees), according to Glyde, a trade-in service that sells devices on your behalf; each carrier fetches a different rate, with AT&T boasting the highest value and Verizon the lowest at $160. By comparison, selling an AT&T-branded Galaxy S III on Amazon Trade-In nets you $125 in Amazon credits, whereas selling on Gazelle gets you $115. According to Glyde, even a Galaxy S2 could score you up to $90. ( Continue… )

The Samsung 750GB 840 EVO solid-state drive. This week, has pulled together discounts on products from Samsung, Western Digital and Corsair. (Samsung)

Get discounts on Samsung SSD, Corsair USB drive

By Marcy BonebrightGuest blogger / 02.19.14

If you've got a hard drive that's started clicking like an ornery chinchilla, then it's time to find a new storage solution before you face a full-on failure. Luckily for you, we've rounded up the weeks' best storage deals. Save $21 on a Samsung 750GB SSD, get a Western Digital 1TB portable HDD for the same price we saw on Black Friday, or score a Corsair 128GB USB 3.0 flash drive for $45. ( Continue… )

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