Geek culture

Flame-breathing RC dragon flies for only $60,000

Lately, with the number of us who are obsessed with "Game of Thrones" and Dragon Age: Inquisition, I can comfortably say that dragons are once again "on fire" without having to worry that I'll be fired for making such a geektastic pun. I think it's safe to say that even Madonna would approve.

So it makes sense, then, that this would a good moment in history for Hammacher Schlemmer to begin a selling an actual flying, propane-flame-breathing, remote-controlled dragon for a mere $60,000 per beast.… Read more

Food-gnashing compost container tops Grommet awards

The Ecotonix Green Cycler is a compost container for a new age. It doesn't just sit around in your kitchen, silently holding your vegetable scraps. It takes those scraps and eats them up, grinding them into little bits for faster, more convenient composting in your compost bin. The Green Cycler was just honored as a winner of product-launch platform The Grommet's product-pitch showdown, taking top honors in the ready-for-market category.

The $99 Green Cycler first launched in 2012 and has gone through some updates since then. It features a crank-powered set of shredder blades that grind food waste down into a size that composts much more quickly than big chunks.… Read more

Not so fast: Environmental concerns halt Atari 'E.T.' cartridge dig

New Mexico environmental regulators have put the kibosh on the excavation of millions of Atari "E.T." game cartridges from a garbage dump there.

According to The Guardian, the New Mexico Environment Department has said that filmmakers planning a documentary about the burial of the cartridges in 1983 owing to catastrophic sales must first acquire a waste excavation plan.

At South by Southwest earlier this month, filmmakers from Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment said they were almost ready to start digging into the garbage dump in Alamogordo, N.M., to look for the cartridges. Their research had led them … Read more

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

Salvador Dali's elephants get the steampunk Lego treatment

Korean Lego artist Jin Kei looked at Salvador Dali's surrealist masterpiece "The Elephants" and imagined it in plastic brick form. Then, he went even further, and translated it through the lens of steampunk. The result is an embodiment of the toothpick-legged elephant from the painting, except it is full of complex gears and mechanical joints that capture both aesthetics perfectly.

The most prominent feature of Dali's work is the elephants' impossibly tiny legs that look more like an insect's than a pachyderm's. The Lego version re-creates these, but with what look like hydraulic joints. The fun really starts when you dive into the details of the build, from the hatch wheel on the elephant's side to the oil-derrick-like top piece.… Read more

'Say hello to my e-go': 10 funny first tweets we love

Twitter is the open mic at The Improv of the Internet, so unless you're a funny person who wants to be heckled, you might want to make your first tweet chuckle-worthy. To celebrate turning 8, Twitter on Thursday opened its archive, making it easy to look up anyone's first tweets. Yeah, we confess; we fell down the first-tweets rabbit hole fast. But at least you get to share in the adventure with a sample of our favorites funnies. See any we missed? Let us know in the comments.

I hope the 17 fans on my Geocities page follow … Read more

New XPrize: Can an AI project get a standing ovation at TED?

Can an artificial intelligence system get a standing ovation at the TED conference?

That's the challenge for the brand-new A.I. XPrize, announced Thursday at TED in Vancouver by XPrize Foundation head Peter Diamandis.

Unlike most XPrizes, which have clear rules and goals, this one is a bit more free-form. Described as "a modern-day Turing test, [it will] be awarded to the first A.I. to walk or roll out on stage and present a TED talk so compelling that it commands a standing ovation from you, the audience."

And TED and the XPrize Foundation is turning … Read more

Christian Bale is top choice to play Steve Jobs, says report

Move over, Aston Kutcher, there may soon be a new Steve Jobs in town. An as-yet-untitled movie for Sony Pictures centering around the Apple co-founder has a script by Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network"), but it doesn't yet have a star attached. Director David Fincher ("Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") is said to be the likeliest person to helm the production. According to a report from TheWrap, Fincher said he would only do the film if Christian Bale signs on as the lead.

The source is a classic unnamed "individual familiar with the project." Whether that person is a Sony exec or a coffee fetcher, we don't know. Fincher and Sorkin teamed up previously for "The Social Network," a geek-flavored film about the rise of Facebook. It would seem natural to turn them loose together on the Steve Jobs story.… 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