That’s it, folks. Dig out the noisemakers, throw on some sequins and pop the champagne because 2014 is coming to an end.
But before the ball drops, there are a few things one must do to properly prepare for the new year—create a list of resolutions (i.e. “go to the gym”), watch the latest United States of Pop video and catch up on the tech news of the passing year, to name a few. With the latter in mind, we’ve created a guide to Betabeat’s biggest breaking news of 2014.
Yes, Facebook manipulated your emotions, curved TVs drove us wild and a “potato salad guy” achieved Internet celebrity status. We’re sure Twitter told you all this, so rather than summing up what made the tech blogosphere rounds this year, we’re offering a collection of the biggest and most interesting stories brought to you by yours truly, Betabeat.
Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite
It may sound like a bad Sci-Fi movie or one of the more interesting suggestions on r/writingprompts, but this actually happened. In Mountain View, California, an independent crew turned a cheeseburger-serving playground into a NASA control center. Using old radio parts from eBay, a salvaged TV screen and some crowdfunding money, the team took control of an offline satellite inside an abandoned McDonald’s. Read the full story here.
University Bans Social Media, Political Content and Wikipedia Pages on Dorm Wifi
Students and staff of Northern Illinois University were in for a surprise when they arrived on campus this fall. Enforcement of a vague “Acceptable Use Policy” put some serious restrictions on what Internet activities were permitted on the school’s network. The restrictions applied to both school-owned computers in libraries and students’ laptops in their dorm rooms and came to our attention when, upon trying to access the Westburo Baptist Church Wikipedia page, a student was redirected to a filter message deeming it “illegal or unethical.” Read the full story here.
Crowdfunded Electronic Blow Job Machine Is Now Available for Pre-Order
Betabeat was your source for exclusive coverage of the Autoblow 2— the crowdfunded sex toy that went viral this year, surpassing it’s $45,000 Indiegogo goal to raise $280,247 in one month. This high-tech blow job machine was so wildly popular that horny customers actually crashed the product’s website during its pre-sale period. We can’t say we’re surprised. Read the full story here.
Google’s New Computer With Human-Like Learning Abilities Will Program Itself
Is that you, SkyNet? DeepMind Technologies developed the Neural Turing Machine, a computer that combines the way ordinary computers work with the way the human brain learns, enabling it to actually program itself. In tests, the computer has already shown it can do more than it’s programmed to do while eliminating error. Next, the founder of the little-known startup gone Google, Demis Hassabis, hopes to create “AI Scientists.” Read the full story here.
Mysterious Social Network ‘Ello’ Explodes In Popularity For People Fleeing Facebook
We broke the news on the new social network Ello in March. It saw little success at first, but when Facebook enacted their “real name” policy, artists and members of the LGBTQ community flocked to the new site, which promised to remain ad-free, porn-friendly and never sell users’ data. Suddenly, the site was pulling in 31,000 join requests per hour. The traffic spike almost crashed the network, and eBay quickly became a black market for Ello invites. Betabeat had the exclusive coverage from the spike to the VC funding and all the controversy in between. Read the full story here.
This Bluetooth-Enabled Vibrator Might Bring Us Closer to Computer-Engineered Orgasms
Out at Babeland’s SoHo boutique, we tested out blueMotion, a $129 Bluetooth-enabled wearable vibrator that one’s partner can control from afar through an app. With this latest creation by ohMiBod, a partner can tap a pattern or speak a sentence into the app; the high-tech sex toy will then vibrate to the pattern of speech or the rhythm of the tapping. For the full review and breakdown of teledildonics, read the full story here.
Facebook Suspends Woman’s Account Because of Home Birth Photos
When a new mother used social media to live blog her home birth—posting photos of her experiencing labor pains, preparing for the birth in a tub after her water broke, and resting while breastfeeding—she found her account suspended. Despite the fact that not even a nipple was shown, after a few users reported the photos as “pornography,” Facebook deemed her account inappropriate. Read the full story here.
Storming the Gates of Amazon’s Alleged Brick-and-Mortar Store in NYC
When the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was opening a brick-and-mortar store at 7 W. 34th Street in NYC, Betabeat got in touch with Amazon and went down to the alleged location to do some investigating, and what we found wasn’t all that convincing. Read the full story here.
Tinder Is The Night: High-Speed Digital Dating Gets You More Ass Than the L Train
It’s about to be 2015, which means everyone should be pretty well-versed in Tinder by now. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial to read in between taglines, here’s a comprehensive look at the app’s success, how it’s shaken up dating and users’ Tinder tales of love and woe. Read the full story here.
Ex-Googlers Help Build ‘Boodigo,’ a New Search Engine Just for Porn
Google “blow job,” and you’ll have to sort through Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary entries along with dozens of tip-bearing articles before you get to anything sexy. Even Tumblr has made it more difficult to search for porn, leaving a porn director and producer no choice but to create an entirely new search engine, specifically for looking for porn. Read the full story here.