The Year in News: What Happened Next (Stories From March-April 2014)


As we continue our look back on the stories we covered in 2014 — and the subsequent developments — we reach March. A group of more than a million players joined forces to beat Pokemon Red/Blue through a project that translated chat room comments into commands on a game broadcast over Twitch. That inspired similar projects later in the year with fish movements in bowls turning into controls, first to play solo Pokemon and later to battle at Street Fighter.

A Houston man scuffling with his girlfriend’s estranged husband stabbed his enemy with the nearest weapon to hand: a replica master sword from Legend of Zelda. There doesn’t appear to be any public reports of charges being filed after the incident, which also involved a flowerpot assault.

13-year-old Brit Jamie Richards became the youngest person to build a working nuclear reactor, albeit on a small scale and with fusion rather than fission. He went on to appear on David Letterman’s show and is now working on what he calls a miniature hadron collider.

A cheeky take-off of AirBnB allowed householders and businesses to make their bathroom facilities available to the public for a fee during big outdoor events. Airpnp has since had several updates including an iPhone app and the ability for toilet owners to rate users rather than just the other way round.

In April newly-promoted Mozilla boss Brendan Eich quit his post after several board members resigned, citing his previous financial support for a campaign against legalising same-sex marriage. It sparked a heated debate about tolerance and free speech.

“Darth Vader” was barred from running as the Internet Party candidate for President of Ukraine after officials noted that while some of his filing documents referred to him as Vader, other suggested he was actually an electrician named Viktor Shevchenko. Undeterred, Vader stood for parliament October. It was to be a triple disappointment: he failed to win his district, the party fell well short of the five percent threshold to gain seats under the proportional “top-up” system, and officials refused to let Vader cast a vote himself after he declined to remove his helmet at the polling station.

Cellphone carriers and manufacturers reached a deal for all US smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to include a feature allowing remote deactivation in the event of loss or theft, known colloquially as a kill switch. However, the voluntary deal means companies only have to make the feature available and don’t need to have it installed or switched on by default. That wasn’t enough to satisfy California politicians who passed a law — also to take effect next July — requiring all phones in the state to have the feature enabled when they ship. While politicians and law enforcement argue such a move would reduce incentives to steal phones, many GaS readers were uneasy about the prospect of officials potentially abusing the technology.

Google revealed that its attempts to automate the recognition of house numbers in its Street View images had proven so successful that it had unintentionally developed the ability to crack its own character-based CAPTCHA challenges. It’s since developed a replacement system that looks for human inconsistencies in moving and clicking a mouse, something that may be harder to replicate automatically.

A long-standing rumor that thousands of unsold copies of the notoriously bad ET game for the Atari were buried in a New Mexico desert was proven to be true when documentary makers commissioned an excavation. The resulting documentary was released last month free of charge through the Xbox video platform.

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