The 404 1,294: Where we give you the evil eye (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Miracle Berry tablets make sour food taste sweet.

- Man implants magnets in his ears to use as invisible headphones.

- Crazy Ants that will destroy your electronics.

- Inside Atlantis, the new Amazon for illegal things.… Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic embraces same-sex romance

Same-gender romance will soon be in the air in Star Wars: The Old Republic, meaning your Jedi Knight or Bounty Hunter will have more opportunities to get some lovin' in the online game.

To date, characters' romance options have been limited by class and gender. But in a blog post today, Jeff Hickman, executive producer of the BioWare/EA title, revealed that that's shifting come spring -- to an extent.

The upcoming Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion pack, he said, will make it possible for players on the new planet (called Makeb) to flirt with same-gender non-player characters, created by BioWare to give quests, sell items, and otherwise move the story forward. Players will not yet, however, be able to put the moves on same-sex companion characters, the NPCs that accompany them on their intergalactic escapades as a major plotline piece. … Read more

5 ways to avoid pulling a Petraeus

The extramarital affair scandal engulfing former CIA director David Petraeus has brought massive public attention to the convoluted U.S. laws governing e-mail privacy. We've got some quick tips for keeping your electronic communiques private.

Before getting into the more technical side of things, there are some simple behavioral changes you can make.

Always log out of your e-mail when you're done using it. This goes for any online service, including social networking sites. Logging out prevents a cached password from keeping you signed in even after the browser has been restarted.

Never use your preferred personal e-mail … Read more

Surf more safely and simply with the Tor Browser Bundle

If you would have thought Onion Routing involved wooden crates and flatbed trucks or maybe a sandwich order, you might be surprised to hear it's actually an online security technology. Think of an onion's layers: in Onion Routing, layers of encryption make it impossible to trace messages back to their point of origin. Once a secret project of the U.S. Naval Research Lab, it's now the concern of the Tor Project, an open-source community devoted to developing Tor, the software implementation of second-generation Onion Routing technology, and to maintaining the Tor network.

The Firefox-based Tor Browser … Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic adds free-to-play

Well, that didn't take long. EA announced today that gamers can play the beleaguered Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG this fall for free, avoiding the usual $14.99 monthly fee. The company also announced a $14.99 price cut for the game coming in August; the cut comes packaged with a one-month subscription. … Read more

Freeware Friday: Stop tracking in its tracks

Searching on a popular search engine nowadays does not guarantee an anonymous state. When you click on a search result, your computer automatically sends information such as search terms, IP addresses, and the date and time that you landed on a site. But when this information is paired with additional account information, your odds of being uniquely identifiable increase tremendously.

For this week's Freeware Friday, check out some of our favorite tools to boost the privacy of your online experience and reduce leakage of sensitive information.

Disconnect (Firefox, Chrome) Disconnect is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari … Read more

EA strong earnings overshadowed by big 'Star Wars' loss

Electronic Arts announced solid financial results today, including fourth quarter net income gains of $400 million -- a rather sizable difference compared to $151 million in same quarter last year. The massive gaming company pegged revenue for the quarter at $1.37 billion, a figure several hundred million higher than the year before.

EA's net income for the year ending March 31 amounted to $76 million, perhaps an uplifting number in comparison to the $276 million loss in 2011. Total revenue for the 2012 fiscal year amounted to a staggering $4.1 billion, up from $3.5 billion a year prior. Revenue strictly from digital content rose to $1.2 billion, an increase of nearly 47 percent in comparison to 2011. Investors seem wary of EA's projected 2013 earnings, though, as MarketWatch points out, the assumed revenue for the future falls below expectations. … Read more

Tor Books to drop DRM on entire catalog of e-books

Science-fiction/fantasy publishing company Tor Books dropped a big bomb on the e-book world today by announcing plans to abolish DRM on its entire collection of e-books in early July.

The shift will most likely appear seamless to consumers, as an official blog post on the Tor Web site mentions that DRM-free titles will sell at the same retailers that currently sell Tor's books, and will additionally appear on DRM-free-only e-book stores. The Macmillan-owned company also publishes titles under Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen. … Read more

Feds shutter online drug market that used Tor to mask activities

Eight men have been arrested and charged with distributing more $1 million in LSD, ecstasy, and other narcotics through an online storefront that hid the identities of the service's users.

The online drug market -- known as "The Farmers Market" -- used the Tor Project to allow suppliers to anonymously sell their wares online to buyers in 35 countries, including the United States, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today in Los Angeles. The store provided buyers with order forms, forums, and customer service, and accepted various forms of payment, including PayPal and Western Union, … Read more

Star Wars: The Old Republic gets massive in April

Everything will change immensely for players of Star Wars: The Old Republic in early April.

Last week, a video emerged from BioWare describing a massive 1.2 update for the popular multiplayer online role-playing game. The content patch--named Legacy--offers several major benefits and a plethora of little changes that could make things much more enjoyable for those invested in the game.

The big-ticket items include a new warzone (Novare Coast) and operation (Explosive Conflict) located on the planet Denova. We also spotted a new flash point named The Lost Island, which you can further see in the trailer below. … Read more