Games and gear

The 404 1,450: Where we play by ear (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- That story of the marooned woman on a Hawaiian island getting saved thanks to Google Earth is totally fake.

- Chordify makes it easy to cover any song by transcribing sheet music from YouTube and Soundcloud links.

- Funk band games the Spotify system to fund upcoming nationwide tour.

- Virtual screaming babies squirm their way into teenage cellphones in new pregnancy campaign.… Read more

2048 is the new Flappy Bird in so many ways

Have you been feeling just a little bit too productive since Flappy Bird got pulled from the Google Play and Apple App stores?

Never fear, there's a new simple but addictive gaming sensation to fill that massive time-wasting vacuum until Flappy Bird's anticipated return.

2048, the creation of a 19-year-old Italian programmer named Gabriele Cirulli, showed up free and fully open-sourced on Github earlier this month. The game is Web-based, although a mobile site is also available, and plenty of unofficial ports for Android and other platforms have begun to pop up.

2048 could be loosely described as … Read more

The 404 1,449: Where we run for the border (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Cloak app helps you dodge awkward run-ins with frenemies.

- Taco Bell taps techies with burner phones to market new breakfast menu.

- Robots are creeping their way into newsrooms.

- A new gadget designed to sanitize your public transportation trip.… Read more

Bear Simulator: Take the world in your paw

There's a class that's seriously under-represented when it comes to video games, always the mob, never the protagonist. We are, of course, referring to the magnificent, noble bear. While the bear occasionally gets a look-in -- World of Warcraft and Enviro-Bear being two notable examples -- more often than not, the poor misunderstood bear is treated as an enemy to be punched.

Luckily, one brave game is attempting to redress the balance -- by combining it with one of our favourite genres ever, the simulation.… Read more

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

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

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

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

The 404 1,446: Where we feel a draft (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- "Naked and Afraid" is the craziest show on TV.

- The stress of being a computer programmer is literally driving many of them crazy.

- Another AirBnB horror story -- will these ever get old?… Read more

The 404 1,445: Where we beat up on Bluetooth (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- The PonoPlayer ain't no ordinary MP3 player.

- A cheaper Pono alternative: FiiO's nifty $200 portable high-resolution music player is a knockout.

- Buy FLAC tracks from HDtracks.com.

- Poll: What's the worst audio format?.

- Follow Steve on Twitter.… Read more