Despite being agonizingly hard to play, Flappy Bird was the most popular Android and iOS game until its developer pulled it from app stores earlier this month because he said it was too addictive. These alternatives are for those suffering from empty nest syndrome after Flappy flew the coop.
City Bird -- Flappy Flyer
After Flappy Bird was pulled from app stores, this clone became the second most downloaded free app on iTunes last week. Instead of the pipes Flappy Bird tries to avoid hitting, Flappy Flyer navigates through small openings in city skyscrapers to get seeds. The developer diplomatically notes his app was "inspired by Flappy Bird."
(iOS, Android; Free)
An underwater adaptation of the highflying Flappy Bird, Splashy Fish became the No. 1 game on iTunes app store last week. But beware: If Splashy Fish is a knockoff of Flappy Bird, there are numerous knockoffs of the knockoff using variations on the name Splashy Fish. This Splashy Fish app, from developer Massimo Guareschi, has the highest ratings and most downloads on iTunes and Google Play. And in case you don't get the idea this is a Flappy Bird wannabe, the app is subtitled "The Adventure of a Flappy Tiny Bird Fish."
(iOS, Android; free)
Ironpants is neither fish nor fowl -- he's a caped superhero. Like Flappy Bird and Splashy Fish, the heavily pixilated graphics look like something from pre-century Atari days. The largely unachievable goal is to get through small openings in columns of obstacles, just like Flappy Bird and Splashy Fish. The app became one of the most downloaded games at the Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores soon after Flappy Bird disappeared.
Super Ball Juggling
This app from Dong Nguyen -- the developer who also created Flappy Bird -- may be even more exasperating to play than Flappy Bird. Super Ball Juggling entails keeping a soccer ball aloft with continual tappings on the screen. When the ball hits the ground, it's "game over." Nguyen warns, "This game is difficult." He's not kidding. Our game testers played more than 100 times, and none of the games lasted more than a few seconds.
Obama No. 1 leader on Twitter
Nearly 80 percent of world leaders had Twitter accounts as 2013 ended, a gain of 8 percent over 2012, according to the Digital Policy Council. President Barack Obama had the most followers, at more than 41 million. Rounding out the top five in terms of followers were President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, Queen Rania of Jordan and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Rise of the machines
Internet connections to cars, smartwatches, thermostats and home-security products will grow to 250 million this year, up 28 percent from 2013, according to a wireless industry survey. Machine-to-machine connections are a major growth area for wireless carriers and companies that make Internet-controlled products. Google, for example, last month paid $3.2 billion to buy Nest Labs, a maker of thermostats and smoke alarms that can be programmed online.
Microsoft: We need your help
Are you tech savvy? Microsoft wants you to perform an intervention on family and friends who aren't. In a blog post "Help your friends and family get off Windows XP," Microsoft says it needs your help spreading the word that security updates to Windows XP end April 8. Computers running the operating system, introduced in 2001, will be at high risk for malware attacks. -- Peter King