No Internet? Twitter to arrive for the unconnected

Geared toward emerging markets where access to the Internet on entry-level mobile phones is a rarity, Singapore-based startup U2opia Mobile plans to bring a text-only Twitter experience to its users without the need for a data plan, Reuters reported Thursday.

Using the USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, protocol that allows mobile phones to communicate with a service provider's computers, U2opia will be able to serve local trending topics to users who dial in a code thanks to a partnership with the social network. USSD does not allow the display of images or video.

With a service called Fonetwish, … Read more

The 2004 U2 iPod nearly didn't happen, was saved by beer

Remember the U2 iPod? It looks like a relic now, but at the time was quite the novelty -- an edgy black and red amid the sea of white, minimalist design Apple was pushing out.

Turns out it almost didn't happen. Vanity Fair has a lengthy story describing the design philosophies of Apple design head Jonathan Ive and fellow designer Marc Newson, as they get ready to showcase products especially designed for an auction next month organized by U2 frontman Bono's Product (Red) anti-H.I.V. campaign.

One of the best gems of the story describes how Ive … Read more

CIA declassifies covert details on the secretive Area 51

When U-2 spy planes first soared over Nevada in 1955, they flew higher than any other plane ever: 60,000 feet. The development and construction of the vessels were part of a top-secret CIA operative in the remote desert of Nevada known as Area 51.

When people who lived nearby saw the sleek planes -- far above, glinting in the sun -- they had no idea what they were. And naturally, it became widely believed they were UFOs carrying aliens.

Many of the details and history around Area 51 and U-2 planes were recently declassified by the CIA and revealed … Read more

The 404 1,290: Where we feel the vibrations (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- This font was created to subvert NSA surveillance.

- Famous actor upset about the "Last of Us's" Ellie likeness.

- Meet the interpreter who has signed for the Wu-Tang Clan, Killer Mike, and the Beastie Boys.

- How much Beanie Babies were predicted to be worth in 1998.

Episode 1,290


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For Improv Everywhere, pranking society is high art (Q&A)

AUSTIN, Texas--If there's one man in the world who can convince thousands of people to take off their pants in the subway, to follow the disembodied instructions of a downloaded MP3, or to high-five a stranger on an escalator, it's Charlie Todd.

The brainchild behind Improv Everywhere, a New York-based "prank collective" that has been culture jamming society since 2001, Todd knows a thing or two about how to get a group of perfect strangers involved in something very unexpected and very funny.

Over the years, Improv Everywhere has grown from Todd and a couple of … Read more

How do you like your headphone sound: Accurate or bassy?

Most of the headphones I've tested over the years weren't designed to have a neutral balance of bass, midrange, and treble frequencies. Manufacturers are well aware that most people like bass, and that buyers tend to favor one headphone over another based on how much bass it produces. I think that's obvious, but a recent study cited in Brent Butterworth's blog countered that assumption. "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality," a paper by Sean Olive and Todd Welti presented at last October's Audio Engineering Society convention found that a … Read more

The 404 1,115: Where the streets have no name (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Pitchfork's People's List polls readers for the best albums of the last 15 years.

- The new rise of a summer hit: Tweet It Maybe.

- How Murder by Death became the No. 3 most successful Kickstarter music campaign ever.

- The Internet has finally met its match: Avril Lavigne engaged to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.

- Lights turning off at Nintendo Power?

- Custom BioShock pinball machine is Rapturous.… Read more

U-2 spy plane pilot Powers honored with Silver Star

Capt. Francis Gary Powers, the Air Force pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, was posthumously honored Friday in a medal ceremony at the Pentagon.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz presented the Silver Star Medal to Capt. Powers' children, Gary Powers Jr. and Dee Powers, in the Hall of Heroes, in tribute to Powers' "heroic action and his loyalty to the United States of America during a pivotal time in our nation's history."

"My sister, myself, my wife, my son, aunts and uncles, cousins, the … Read more

Elevation seeks $1 billion with help from U2's Bono

U2 frontman Bono is embarking on a solo tour but it doesn't involve music. A private equity firm co-founded by the musician is hitting the road to search for more money, according to Reuters.

Elevation Partners, which has invested heavily in social networking, is now looking to dig up $1 billion for a second fund, reports Reuters. The company's largest investment to date has been in Facebook, to the tune of $270 million, which came in three installments and valued the social networking site at $16 billion at the time. (The company is now estimated to be worth $… Read more

The 404 998: Where we draw the ace of spades (podcast)

Aunt Jill won't be here for our 1000th episode this Friday because she only works out of the CNET office on Wednesdays, so we're popping bottles prematurely because hey, it's the 90s.

Along with a light wine tasting, Jill also gives a quick duster on the state of the Greek debt crisis and the Dow cracking 13000 after almost four years. In return, we'll tell Jill about the wonders of Instagram and Kim Dotcom's release from the New Zealand prison system.… Read more