Five-deal Friday: Desktops, drones, downloads, and more!

Happy Friday! Nothing kicks off a weekend like a wheelbarrow-full of deals, and today I couldn't settle on just one. In fact, I'm pretty bad at math; there may actually be more than five here. Can't bother counting; I'm too busy buying stuff!

Droning on and on I've always wanted one of these, but couldn't (wouldn't!) pay the $299 list price. Now I'm sorely tempted.

Today only, and while supplies last, Woot has the refurbished Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Wi-Fi quadricopter for $169.99, plus $5 for shipping. Controlled by your … Read more

Google paves the way for more wearable apps

CNET Update finds these drones stunning:

In this episode of Update:

- Get ready for more Android apps that work on smartwatches. Google is launching a software development kit for Android on wearable gadgets.

- Update to iOS 7.1, now that Apple added new features and bug fixes to its mobile operating system.

- Spoil the official reveal of HTC's new flagship phone with new leaked photos popping up online.

- Listen to what Edward Snowden said at SXSW. It was his first time speaking to a public audience since he left the country for exposing classified documents … Read more

Useful! The drone with an 80,000-volt stun gun

In the midst of the youthful fireside embrace of the future that is South by Southwest, it's refreshing that someone is thinking of the real future.

This is a future where books, shoes, and vacuum cleaners will be flying toward your house, courtesy of Amazon drones.

It's also a future in which a machine might tell you that you've been a bad boy and punish you on the spot.

An invention exhibited by a design and development company called Chaotic Moon (Motto 1: We Are Smarter Than You) offered an example of a potential weapon for good (or not so good).… Read more

Drones allowed to fly the US skies, for now

Drone enthusiasts should get flying while they can. All commercial use of small drones became legal in the US on Thursday -- but it's unclear how long it will last.

National Transportation Safety Board Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration's six-year ban on drone flying isn't actually legally binding, according to Motherboard. This means people are now allowed to fly small unmanned aerial devices.

The ruling centers on a case in which the FAA fined drone-maker and Team BlackSheep founder Raphael Pirker $10,000 for filming the University of Virginia campus with a … Read more

RC helicopters appear to take off with woman in tow

We've seen quite a few unusual uses for drones in the past year, including everything from pizza drops to Amazon deliveries. But what if you could deliver a whole person? It might not be that much of a stretch if a video showing two RC helicopters lifting a woman off the ground is real.

German group HeliGraphix specializes in using RC helicopters for filming and stunts. The group's HULC (Heavy Ultra-Lifter Crane) project took two Gaui X7 helicopters and upgraded the equipment to handle more weight, enough to lift a person. Lady Gaga required a massive flying contraption to achieve the same effect the two relatively small copters recently pulled off.… Read more

Netflix takes a jab at Amazon with 'Drone 2 Home' spoof video

What would be the fastest way to get DVD rentals to materialize in users' hands the moment they added them to their queue? The US Postal Service? No. Bike messenger? No. Delivery drones? Just maybe...

With a tongue-in-cheek YouTube video, Netflix takes a friendly jab at its competitor Amazon and its announcement last year that it was working on delivery drones. The parody video broadcasts the roll out of a "groundbreaking" new feature called "Drone 2 Home."

"Now we are getting back to our creative roots with our groundbreaking, same-day, home delivery subscription service: Drone … Read more

Rolls Royce said to be developing drone cargo ships

Who needs maritime crews to run cargo ships?

That seems to be the question Rolls-Royce is trying to ask, as it works to develop what amounts to drone freighters, ships that could one day radically disrupt the massive global shipping industry.

According to Bloomberg, Rolls-Royce's Blue Ocean development team has been working on the drone freighters in a bid to make shipping cheaper, cleaner, and safer. The organization is running a virtual-reality prototype at an office in Norway that mimics a 360-degree view from the ship's bridge. Bloomberg reported that the ships could be deployed in regions like … Read more

The 404 1,431: Where we hide our philtrum (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- The future of sports photography is drones!

- Moviefone hangs up forever.

- Facial recognition can now diagnose you.

- Seth Rogen to write/direct film about '90s console wars.… Read more

Drones help prevent rhino, elephant poaching

Drones might soon save the lives of rhinos and elephants in Africa, a new report says.

Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism, along with the World Wildlife Fund, have partnered to invest in drones that can track rhino and elephant herds, the organizations told New Scientist for a story published Friday. Google helped fund the drone research, which was conducted in November. Through the use of the drones, the researchers were able to follow herds and alert law enforcement in the event the animals were being targeted by poachers.

The tests went well, according to the WWF, and will … Read more

DARPA's hot for futuristic helicopter-like delivery drones

In hard-to-reach war zones, it can be near impossible to get supplies to ground soldiers or conduct rescue missions without coming under enemy fire or landing in minefields.

Spurred by these logistical issues, the US Department of Defense in its DARPA division is pushing to develop unmanned helicopter-like aircraft -- aka drones -- for supply runs, airborne reconnaissance missions, and casualty evacuations.

Not your ordinary drones, these futuristic machines will be designed to carry up to 3,000 pounds, have their own power system, fuel, digital flight controls, and remote command-and-control interfaces. As envisioned by DARPA, troops will be able … Read more