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Geek culture

The 404 1,448: Where rich or poor, it's nice to have money (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Jill's appearance on CBS News: Is WhatsApp really worth $19 billion?

- Financial spring cleaning: what to keep, what to shred.

- Enter our GameSpot PS4 giveaway!

- Follow Aunt Jill on Twitter and check out her radio show, Jill on Money.… Read more

Dancing with the 'Star Wars': Billy Dee Williams cha-chas as Lando

Shimmying stormtroopers. R2-D2 beeping to disco music. Lando Calrissian taking Princess Leia for a spin on the dance floor. While it sounds like one of the gaming levels in "Star Wars Kinect," this was the "Dancing with the Stars" debut of actor Billy Dee Williams and his dance partner Emma Slater.

Dressed in a costume reminiscent of his role as Lando Calrissian, Williams began the cha-cha number flanked by stormtroopers and announced by a beeping R2-D2. His dancing partner donned a costume inspired by Princess Leia's metal bikini in "Return of the Jedi," as well as her famous hair buns. … Read more

'Star Wars: Episode VII' tells tale 30 years after 'Jedi'

Some news for fans excited to find out what life is like post-Ewok battles and that metal bikini: Lucasfilm has announced a start date for shooting "Star Wars: Episode VII." Director J.J. Abrams and his team will begin shooting principal photography in May at London's historic Pinewood Studios.

Lucasfilm also announced that "Star Wars: Episode VII" will take place about 30 years after the events of "Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi," and will star "a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces." … Read more

Rejoice! SimCity's offline mode has landed

The long-awaited offline mode for Maxis' city-building game SimCity is rolling out Tuesday around the world. Maxis began the rollout at 6 a.m. PT and the developer warned players that some servers will be unavailable for the first few hours.

Of course, you'll need an Internet connection to download the offline mode, included with Update 10, but after your download is done you can play offline to your heart's content.

SimCity's offline mode is entirely optional. Access to multiplayer, SimCity World, and Online Save Games is entirely unaffected by the arrival of the offline mode. In addition, all of your previously downloaded content is available in single-player and multiplayer. … Read more

Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

For most humans, having a clean house is its own reward. Dogs, however, need some convincing. The Tidy Dog toy box on Kickstarter wants to help train your pooch to pick up its toys, a feat that many children have yet to master. The bin works on a tasty treat reward system, which is a form of currency dogs understand well.

The Tidy Dog looks simple on the surface, but it actually contains sensors that detect the weight of a toy when it is placed in the bin. In exchange, the box dispenses a treat.… Read more

The 404 1,447: Where we put on our party hats (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Seven people around the world collectively possess a set of keys that can dismantle the Web.

- Turn your Instagram pics into real photos with the Lifeprint.

- Skirmos system levels up laser tag with open-source Arduino microcomputer.

- Almost time to panic: 95 percent of the ATMs in the world run on Windows XP.… Read more

Lego robot sets new Rubik's Cube world record

Solving a Rubik's Cube is no easy feat, especially in less than 5 seconds, but that's exactly what Lego Mindstorms robot CubeStormer 3 did this week, with seconds to spare. The CubeStormer 3 impressed spectators at Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, England, with its new world record of 3.253 seconds.

Designed by inventors Mike Dobson and David Gilday, the ARM-powered CubeStormer 3 uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. The phone analyzes the cube squares using a custom app to calculate the correct number of moves to solve the puzzle. The ARM processors move the Lego Mindstorms EV3 bricks, which execute the motor sequencing. … Read more

James Bond's lethal vehicles

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to drive.... Britain's deadliest secret agent needs suitably lethal wheels fully stocked with extras, from rocket launchers to ejector seats. An exhibition opening this month in London lets you spy on 50 years of James Bond's rides, from 007's iconic 1960s Aston Martin to the miniature, one-third scale Agusta Westland helicopter used in the climax of "Skyfall".

Bond in Motion also features the BMW controlled by an Ericsson phone; the car driven by the one woman who managed to tie James Bond down; the jet pack from "Thunderball&… Read more

Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

While we're all waiting around for Superman to hook up with Batman in 2016, we'll have to get our Man of Steel fix elsewhere. So let's saunter over to YouTube and join a couple million other people in watching a low-budget Superman POV adventure cleverly filmed with a drone and a GoPro.

The video features a guy in a classic spandex Superman outfit, complete with tightie reddies, flying through a city to return a lost GoPro camera to its owner. Naturally, it's not that simple. There are bad guys with guns, a cop who is also a fan, a building on fire, and a thrilling mid-air rescue of a damsel in distress.… Read more

May the 'Star Wars' March Madness be with you!

Yoda triumphed last year as the most popular "Star Wars" character, but who will win this year's geekiest bracket tournament in the galaxy? Darth Vader, R2-D2, Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Yoda, and other fan favorites compete for fan votes in This is Madness: The Star Wars Character Tournament 2014, which started earlier this month and runs through April 7.

Upgrades to this year's online competition include real-time voting results, social-media sharing functionality, and new character divisions such as Rebels, Jedi, Scoundrels, Republic, Empire & Separatists, Sith, Bounty Hunters, and Underworld. There's also an "Attack of the Play-Ins" round, which allows four wild cards to enter the main tournament. … Read more