Crave giveaway: $250 buying spree from Rakuten.com Shopping

Has the Consumer Electronics Show put you in a consumer mood? You're in luck.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Congrats to Peter R. of Shoreview, Minn., for winning a Boog brief laptop bag in last week’s giveaway.

All our CES 2014 coverage this week probably has you thinking about gadgets, gadgets, and more gadgets — the ones you want, the ones you don’t want, the ones you can afford, the ones you can’t afford. What better time, then, to offer a $ 250 shopping spree at a site that sells pretty much any manner of gear you could covet?

The buy-what-you want fun comes courtesy of online retailer Rakuten.com Shopping, formerly Buy.com. The site sells an endless array of products — clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, fitness equipment, tablets, televisions, laptops, printers, monitors, hard drives, routers, servers, video games, and a lot more. If you win, you’re free to buy anything, but we’re betting all those CES gizmos dancing through head will steer you right to the Electronics tab.

So what do you have to do to win this $ 250 shipping spree from Rakuten.com Shopping? There are a few rules from our official makers of rules, so please read carefully.

See the very first (surprisingly handsome) selfie… from 1839

Photographer Robert Cornelius gives his best "big Philly style" take, inventing the selfie in Philadelphia in 1839.

(Credit: Library of Congress)

Many Americans have probably just become familiar with the term “selfie” in the past year or two, thanks to the rise of services like Instagram as ideal tools for feeding our vanity and narcissism. Indeed, the word has taken on such cultural velocity in recent months that the Oxford English Dictionaries saw fit to declare the often cringe-inducing pair of syllables its “word of the year.”

It’s believed that the first use of the word can be traced back to an Australian online forum post in 2002, but the art of taking one’s own self-portrait is nearly as old as photography itself.

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Monopoly rises from the grave with ‘Walking Dead’ edition

(Credit: Hasbro)

We can’t even remember the last time we (or anyone we know) sat down for a rousing game of Monopoly. Could our interest be brought back from the dead?

Hasbro certainly has been trying, with various themed editions of the game over the last decade or two. The latest ties in to one of the most popular shows on TV: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” based on the comic by Robert Kirkman. It’s basically the same Monopoly, more or less, featuring art by Kirkman and zombie-themed chance cards — and, of course, locations from the series.

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Instead of buying houses and hotels to make your property more valuable, though, you buy walls and guard towers to fortify it against attack.

The player pieces are themed for items in the comic: Michonne’s katana (dibs!); Rick’s hat; Negan’s barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille; Dale’s 1973 D-27C Winnebago Chieftain RV; a telephone; and a bucket of limbs.

The game can be picked up for $ 39.99 from ThinkGeek and… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Crave giveaway: A 40-inch LCD HDTV from TCL

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Congratulations to Peter Y. of Honolulu for winning a Penclic Bluetooth Mouse B2 in last week’s giveaway, and to Billy D. of Cranston, R.I., for winning a copy of Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 speech recognition software the week before that. Guess what time it is. Time for another free TV!

This week, we’re giving away a 40-inch LCD HDTV from TV manufacturer TCL (The Creative Life). With a suggested retail price of $ 400, the TCL L40FHDF12TA is one of the cheapest 40-inch televisions around (most of its competitors show up in the $ 600 range). Still, it delivers a better performance than the price might suggest, says CNET reviewer Ty Pendlebury.

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Last year, in fact, it proved a best-seller among shoppers on Amazon, where it earned a reputation for its low price and “cheap and cheerful” picture.

Now, this is an old-school TV with a fluorescen… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

From spooky to sublime, these Street View pics are hard to forget

Somewhere, a Street View camera captured this bucolic outhouse.

(Credit: courtesy Jon Rafman and Zach Feuer Gallery)

If you’ve never taken a random walk through Google Street View, the experience can feel like a dream in slow motion.

Panoramas familiar or strange drift by as you click down the street, but like real-world travel, it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.

Canadian sculptor, filmmaker, and visual artist Jon Rafman has made a name for himself collecting bizarre, often unsettling views from the petabytes of data in Google Street View, and he recently discussed his work with photography enthusiasts in his hometown of Montreal.

“For me, the Google camera almost symbolizes a modern god, this god that sees everything but doesn’t take a moral stance and doesn’t act,” Rafman told attendees at a workshop of the ongoing Le Mois de la Photo festival, organized under the theme of “Drone: The Automated Image.”

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Crave giveaway: Elev-8 Quadcopter Kit from Parallax

(Credit: Parallax)

Congrats to Nels S. of St. Paul, Minn., for winning a pair of HiFiMan HE-400 headphones in last week’s giveaway. If you like geek toys, this week’s prize will have you flying high.

Here’s what you’ll find inside the kit. (Click to enlarge.)

(Credit: Parallax)

We’ve got an Elev-8 Quadcopter Kit from electronics manufacturer Parallax. The kit includes a frame, mounting hardware, motors, speed controllers, propellers, and a control board for flight stabilization. You just need to provide the battery and the RC radio equipment (Parallax recommends a six-channel RC radio).

This kit’s not for beginners, as building and flying this baby requires a moderate amount of mechanical skill. Once it’s put together, the flyer measures about 3 feet by 3 feet and weighs 2.5 pounds. You can use it for land mapping and surveying, taking aerial video, or just looking cool.

Normally, an Elev-8 Quadcopter Kit would cost you $ 599, but you have the chance to get one for free. How? There are a few rules, so please read carefully. And while we’re talking Parallax, CNET’s Donald Bell and Seth Rosenblatt visited the Rocklin, Calif., electronics manufacturer earlier this year… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Ayn Rand producers beg for help from others on Kickstarter

A scene from "Atlas Shrugged" Part II.

(Credit: Atlas Shrugged/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

The works of Ayn Rand have their detractors.

In supporting the idea of Objectivism, Rand’s works purport to describe how self-reliance is the only way to the experience the joys of self-worth, self-interest, and self-ishness.

These are, of course, the forerunners of the selfie.

Rand also was very keen to insist that man “exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”

Some, therefore, have guffawed at the notion that her disciples have just started a Kickstarter campaign. They are out on the virtual streets, cap in hand.

Their goal is to raise $ 250,000 to help produce the third part of the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy of movies.

You might have missed the first two. Most people did. Which doesn’t mean they weren’t very fine movies. Perhaps they were simply made without the masses in mind.

As A.V. Club reports, the first two movies made a total of $ 8 million, a scant return on the art of self-worth.

Those with a sense of irony might wonder whether asking o… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Crave giveaway: Two tiny Wi-Fi mobile storage devices from SanDisk

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive is quite tiny considering all its components, including a battery, up to 64GB of storage, a Wi-Fi network, and a SD card slot.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

Congrats to Russell B. of Nashua, N.H., for winning a $ 250 gift certificate to Rakuten.com Shopping in last week’s giveaway. This week, we’ve got two prizes for the price of none.

SanDisk is giving away two tiny flash-based storage devices — the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive and the SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive. The new supercompact drives are the first Wi-Fi-enabled storage devices from the flash memory maker. Both have a built-in battery and a 802.11n Wi-Fi network, and support multiple Wi-Fi clients at a time.

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The Connect Wireless Flash has no internal storage, but instead comes wit… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Bad day? Hide from the world in this privacy-pod recliner

The Massaud Canopy can make it all go away.

(Credit: Screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

When everything is going pear-shaped and you want to escape to Mars, just imagine you had this quirky piece of furniture.

The Massaud Canopy is like a personal refuge in your office or living room. Just jump into the recliner, yank the hood down, and poof! The world is gone.

Recently shown off at NeoCon 2013 in Chicago, the chair seems like a mix between an old-school hooded hair dryer and this disaster escape pod from Japan.

Designed by Jean-Marie Massaud for Coalesse, the Canopy is billed as “a revolutionary step forward in communication and space utilization.” Now that is exciting.

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The h… [Read more]

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Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. – CNET

Epic Lego Helm’s Deep crafted from 150,000 bricks

This is a Lego battle for the ages.

(Credit: Goel Kim)

Whatever your fandom may be, some Lego aficionado has probably already built a massive version of it. OK, so we’ve already seen a 200,000-piece alien city and a 70,000-piece Serenity spaceship. Now feast your hungry building-block eyes on this stunning 150,000-brick Helm’s Deep from “Lord of the Rings.”

Built by Rich-K and Big J, the model is 90 percent complete. The Lego fans (under the name “Goel Kim”) uploaded the creation to MOCpages, an unofficial Lego fan site where builders share their accomplishments. And what an accomplishment this is. The creators managed to capture the regimented mayhem of the battle of Helm’s Deep in incredible detail.

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