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Wired lets us peer into keyhole of its Underworld

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Since Jan. 31, the Wired blog Decode has been slipping us all tips and puzzles to break the code. What code? Well, the alternate-reality game masters state that in the game’s goal to “revive a lost language” called Nü Shu, a syllabic script based on simplified Chinese characters.

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Art Project brings masterpieces in for a close-up

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Art enthusiasts can now get geeky with Google’s new art experience. Or maybe Google wants computer types to get cultured from the comfort of their own wireless networks.

The latest Google offering, Art Project, takes viewers inside 17 museums in the U.S. and Europe. They can view art from an inside-the-museum perspective or in a slideshow.

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A Google Doodle for Jules Verne

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In commemoration of Mr. Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday, Google’s logo acts as the portholes of Nautilus today. The author of 20,000 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Verne is credited as a Father of Science Fiction, along with the great H.G. Wells, whose birthday was also celebrated by Google, and Hugo Gernsback. The 1954 motion picture adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea also marked Disney’s entrance to the science fiction genre with a bang, surpassing the production costs of Gone with the Wind.

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Futurist

Industrial designers demo carnivorous robotic furniture

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Call it a twisted sense of humor or practical, self-sustaining technology, but the designers at Auger Loizeau built prototypes for five pieces of furniture that feed off of organic matter to catch household pests. These carnivorous appliances range from a coffee table that captures and digests mice to a fly-paper clock that runs off of decomposing fly corpses.

Nobody will sell these appliances in the near future, but the concept is interesting and should probably lead to robots that do digest and run off of organic matter. We should just give up now.

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Pop Cult

Community does Advanced Dungeons and Dragons right

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This past week’s Community featured the whole gang playing an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Abed is the game master and Pierce is the unthinking villain for the campaign they’re playing, “Caverns of Draconis,” which isn’t real but contains many world elements that are very DnD.

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Films

Anatomy of a cult film: Merc Force

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With Netflix, Hulu, and other endless streaming options, a world of cinematic pleasures is at our fingertips. The ability to stop and start thousands of films at our leisure allows for a certain pickiness that normally makes it all the easier to separate the proverbial cream from the figurative tripe. Some front-runners may prefer to dote on the cream—we’re looking at you, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—but, we at Handshake are more enamored with the crappiest of the crap.

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Gadgets

Crowdsourcing app tracks subway arrival

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An independent programmer has taken steps to use technology to improve services in a way city departments haven’t yet achieved. Alex Bell, a graduate student at Columbia University, has developed a free mobile app to track New York City’s subways in real-time.

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Daddy-Daughter gaming a win for self-esteem

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If you’re looking for a way to connect with your teenage daughters, try picking up your controller. Researchers from Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life found that girls that share screen time with their fathers have higher self esteem as well as lower levels of depression, anxiety, and aggressive behavior.

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TV

The conspiracy behind Rubicon’s cancellation

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Connect the dots.

The story is simple enough: Will Travers, a worker for an intelligence agency consultant API, discovers an encrypted message across crossword puzzles from several dates. The first person he tells this discovery to, his superior, dies in a mysterious train accident. After being promoted, Travers begins to probe further, running up against intense truths and characters like Kale Ingram, an almost-villain who rivals Ben from Lost.

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Films

Stephen King’s The Stand heads to the cinema

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stephen King’s The Stand is finally getting the big-screen treatment. A film adaption of the widely popular, post-apocalyptic novel has been in various stages of development for years, and the book has already been adapted as a miniseries [featured video] and a Marvel comic book.

The miniseries featured a decent cast: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Jamey Sheridan, and with a 6-hour running time it stayed fairly faithful, albeit toned-down for TV, to the sprawling, epic source material. A film adaptation will have to unfold across multiple films or be highly condensed. The project will take a strong cast, a top-notch scriptwriter, and a masterful director at the helm — maybe seasoned Stephen-King-adapter Frank Darabont will throw his hat into the ring.

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