America

Star Apps: 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

From "Beowulf" to "The Hobbit," men and dragons just can't seem to get along. This is certainly the case in 2010's "How to Train Your Dragon," until a young Viking dragon hunter, Hiccup, has a change of heart and eventually brings peace to warring factions. Four years later, when this amity is threatened, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera), and their entire island of Berk must go to war to preserve the peace in "How to Train Your Dragon 2." I chatted with Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera … Read more

Star Apps: Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri -- the first winner of Indian descent -- wasn't always celebrated by her peers. In middle school, the future pageant pioneer felt misunderstood by her classmates because of her heritage. That's why her candidate platform for Miss New York (and later Miss America) was "Diversity through cultural competency." On Wednesday, she spoke about the value of social diversity at Macy's in San Francisco. I spoke to Davuluri about the event, feeling misunderstood, her proudest moment in the Miss America competition, pageant queen misconceptions, and her favorite apps.

Why is this … Read more

The 404 1422: Where we quit the pick-up tip (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- No more swipe and sign credit cards starting October 2015.

- Related: Bank of America mails credit card offer to "Lisa Is a Slut McIntire."

- Agree It app: now you can be a payday lender to Facebook friends!… Read more

Extraordinary earthquake lights explained -- they're not UFOs

On an April day in 2009, bizarre four-inch flames of light were seen hovering above a stone-paved road in the historical city center of L'Aquila, Italy. Shortly after, a cataclysmic magnitude 6.3 earthquake devastated the area reportedly leaving about 300 people dead.

At the time, these light-filled flashes were thought to be a coincidental phenomenon, but now researchers believe they had a direct correlation to the earthquake.

A new study published in Seismological Research Letters says these flashes of light rarely seen before or during earthquakes are caused by naturally occurring electrical processes in certain types of rock.

L'Aquila was one of several places to see such lights before an earthquake. Other instances include the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Calif., where locals witnessed a rainbowed light beam above a street right before the temblor, and the 1988 earthquake in Quebec, Canada, where people saw a purplish glowing sphere near the St. Lawrence River 11 days before the quake, according to National Geographic.… Read more

Bank of America deems Bitcoin the next big thing

It appears not only people in the tech world believe Bitcoin is the currency of the future -- one of the US' biggest banks also sees legitimacy in the virtual currency.

Bank of America published its first research report (PDF) on Bitcoin on Thursday saying that the digital currency could become a major contender to other types of online money-transfer providers.

"We believe Bitcoin could become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers," Bank of America wrote in its report. "As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin … Read more

Waving goodbye to Winamp, paying respects to Nullsoft

If you downloaded a song in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you most likely did it with Winamp. This week, the world said goodbye to the legendary media player with plenty of nostalgia, but for me, Winamp's death means the end of a very personal era. Here are some of my memories of working at Nullsoft, the company that created it.

When I first started there in 2001, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. America Online had just bought the company, and Nullsoft employees weren't thrilled with the prospect of being told what to do by a large company with a lot of rules. Many of us were young and full of "piss off" energy.

Nullsoft's story started way before I arrived. In 1996, Winamp -- short for "Windows Amplifier" -- was created and released by computer programmer Justin Frankel. He went on to start his company Nullsoft (a parody of Microsoft's name) a year later. … Read more

Crave Ep. 145: Leave digital cookie crumbs all over with the GPS Cookie

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This week we take a first look at the GPS Cookie which records your movements onto a microSD card. Lady Gaga announces a concert in space for 2015, and we can order pizza with a push of a button. All that and more, this week on Crave. Read more

Lady Gaga to perform in space (no, really!)

To her fans, Lady Gaga is already out of this world as a performer, but now she will literally perform out of this world.

The 27-year-old pop star is set to perform the first-ever concert in space as part of Zero G Colony, a three-day music festival, in early 2015.

The "Applause" singer confirmed her appearance on Wednesday, tweeting the hashtag "GagaInSpace2015." … Read more

Apple said to unveil newfangled Brazil retail store by March

Apple is said to be opening its first retail shop in Brazil sometime in February or March -- just in time for Carnival, Rio de Janeiro's biggest party, and a couple of months ahead of the hugely popular FIFA World Cup.

According to 9to5Mac, an inside source said that Apple is planning for February or March but construction and staffing could delay the opening. Apparently, the iPhone maker is looking to temporarily bring US retail employees to Brazil to help teach Apple's retail practices to local workers. The store is said to be located in Rio de Janeiro'… Read more

Stop-motion laser cut onto 800 blocks of wood

Stop-motion animation is usually a pretty meticulous process by anyone's definition, but graphic artist Nando Costa is apparently a lot more hard core. He's created a 2-minute, 30-second stop-motion animation -- by laser cutting each frame into wood.

"As seen in the video, each frame is unique," he said. "Aside from the design of each frame itself being distinct, small variances that naturally occur in the laser-engraving process, as well as the different wood grain of each frame, naturally created subtle shifts of the position of the artwork. An effect that I was particularly interested in and that could naturally be achieved in digital assembly but that I was much more excited about re-creating with real objects." … Read more