Crave stories you were crazy for in 2012 (pictures)
Insanely Lego-ed spaceships, sexy yachts for psycho-villains, anime-obsessed (and surgically altered) ingenues -- it's all here in Crave's look back at the colorful year that was.
It was another fabulous year for CNET's Crave, which stands at the intersection of technology and culture and thumbs a ride with creativity, brilliance, and just plain weirdness. Whether you're a regular reader or a new recruit, enjoy this scroll down memory lane featuring some of our greatest hits of 2012 as measured by traffic, reader comments, and overall awesomeness.
One of our most-viewed photo galleries of the year focused on a larger-than-life Lego spaceship. CNET blogger Christopher MacManus followed Adrian Drake -- a mechanical engineer who designs projects for the International Space Station -- and his creation of a 70,000-piece replica of the Serenity spaceship from the sci-fi TV show "Firefly."
CNET editor and Crave contributor Edward Moyer brought us aboard the $15 million Adastra, a custom-built superyacht "worthy of Bruce Wayne or a Bondian supervillain." And readers couldn't get enough of the lavish craft's jaw-dropping curves and features.
Designed for a shipping magnate in Hong Kong who owns and cruises to a couple of islands near Indonesia, the boat is based on the design of speedy, record-breaking, and Batboat-conjuring "power trimaran" vessels like the Earthrace and the Cable and Wireless Adventurer.
Take an obsession and multiply it by 100 and you might get something nearing 19-year-old Anastasiya Shpagina. "Shpagina is obsessed with anime," wrote Crave writer Amanda Kooser. "She's so obsessed, she turns herself into a real-life anime character."
Readers couldn't stop staring into Shpagina's giant eyes and pondering her enormous batting eyelashes; a story on the young Ukrainian woman emerged as one of Crave's most read this year.
The day before the official iPhone 5 reveal on September 12, Crave contributor Eric Mack identified five iPhone features -- including 4G LTE and removable storage -- that might get him to ditch Android for iOS. In the resulting 238 comments, readers got into the tried-but-true Android vs. iPhone debate -- big time.
"A piece of silicone less than 2 inches wide keeps my sister alive," Crave Senior Editor Leslie Katz wrote of her sister, Rachel, earlier this year. Readers responded with kindness and well wishes to the story of Rachel's most recent brain surgery to replace an apparatus that drains excess cerebrospinal fluid that would otherwise over-accumulate inside her skull owing to a congenital condition.
"An article like this reminds me that, at the heart of things, technology is about controlling things that not-so-long-ago couldn't be controlled," wrote reader gefitz. "It gives us the idea that thinking of the future, no matter how much we wring our hands in fear, can be a very hopeful experience!"
Happily, Rachel continues to do well almost eight months post-op.
When you live in a scenic area like rural New Mexico, it isn't always easy to acquire techy amenities such as high-speed Internet access. In a weeklong series called "Bringing broadband to the boonies," Crave writer Eric Mack chronicled his struggle "to drag just basic broadband from the digital First World to my more... digitally underdeveloped home."
Many readers identified with Eric's story. "This is exactly why I laugh when people say that streaming video will replace DVDs/Blu Rays in the near future," Ewsachse said. "This will never happen when a good portion of America does not have access to high-speed broadband."
When Eric Mack wasn't fighting broadband battles in rural New Mexico, the globe-trotting Craver was standing at middle earth (not Middle-earth), trying to figure out what went wrong with the effort to mark exactly where the equator traverses Ecuador.
Future generations might have a chance to experience Earth's orbit by simply taking an elevator ride. When Tim Hornyak wrote of one Japanese company's plans to create a space lift as early as 2050, readers responded en masse with excitement -- and some skepticism.
"Can't we just try to figure out something simple like how to make a truly self-cleaning litter box or a window that never gets dirty? Those of you with cats will understand about the litter box." CNET commenter Elliottdp wrote.
Speaking of space, Crave author Amanda Kooser excavated a shipload of "Star Trek" props and memorabilia while spring cleaning this year. The finds led her to muse on how the iconic sci-fi television show influenced the geek girl she is today.
"I first became fascinated with 'Star Trek' through watching reruns in the afternoons when I was in fourth grade," Amanda wrote. "I was a shy, quiet child, but suddenly I wanted to become either an astronaut or an actor, whatever would get me closest to the Enterprise the fastest."
Amanda Kooser also traversed her home state of New Mexico taking an extended look at its techy and oddball haunts for a series called "Nerdy New Mexico." Amanda's travels brought her to some fascinating locations, including an out-of-this-world surplus store full of ancient military hardware.
"I got sucked into a black hole and lived to tell the tale," Amanda wrote. "Fortunately for me, the black hole is the Black Hole here in Los Alamos, a sprawling store full of old surplus equipment from Los Alamos National Laboratory."
This year saw the introduction of Low Latency, Crave's popular weekly comic written by CNET editor and 404 podcast co-host Jeff Bakalar and illustrated by Blake Stevenson. And readers loved it.
The comic pictured reacts to the Google Glass augmented-reality eyeglasses project. "The plan for Project Glass is to create a real-life head-up display for your face, allowing people to interact with the real world through the pervasive Google ecosystem," Jeff wrote. "But it also got us thinking -- if we're so preoccupied with our texting, mapping, and other augmented reality antics, who's gonna make sure we're watching where we're going?"
Decades ago, George Lucas shot the original "Star Wars" desert scenes in Tunisia and inadvertently created the promised land for sci-fi geeks everywhere. But what happens when you visit the original structures used in the films and find them in a state of disrepair?
"Six stewards of the sands recently embarked on a weeklong journey to Tunisia -- the majestic landscape featured in various "Star Wars" movies as the fictional planet Tatooine -- to repair Luke Skywalker's home, also known in the movies as the Lars family homestead," Crave writer Christopher MacManus reported in a feature looking at this very conundrum.
The lightsaber easily stands as one of the most dazzling effects from the "Star Wars" saga, and it also served as the conversation starter (and ender) for many pivotal scenes in the movies. Crave readers lit up over Christopher MacManus' story of Brad Lewis, a video game visual-effects artist who embarked on quest to re-create the perfect replica of Obi-Wan Kenobi's blue-bladed lightsaber as seen in "Star Wars: A New Hope."
The first Landsat satellite went into orbit 40 years ago this year, and to mark the occasion, Eric Mack put together a stunning gallery of images from the longest-running eye in the sky. Need to see things from a different perspective? Just take a look at the Earth from high above.
With zombies and the pending apocalypse on the minds of many this year, it was no surprise a gallery on a concrete safe house grabbed reader attention and wouldn't let go.
"Polish architecture firm KWK Promes built the boxy Safe House outside Warsaw in 2009, with little thought to the idea that it could serve as a refuge from zombies. Crave author Tim Hornyak wrote. "With creepy cannibalistic attacks in the news, however, it seems a perfect hideaway because it can transform into a near-impregnable fortress."
CNET reader RobertinOhio responded to Tim's piece with this question: "So who will be the first group to end up zombies? Android or iPhone users?"