In the early '90s, four odd-looking arcade games appeared at a rented-out store in my local mall. For about seven dollars, anyone could stop in and play three minutes of a new virtual reality game called Dactyl Nightmare. I paid up, put on the massive helmet... and then the game was over before I'd even figured out what I was doing in the blocky, chessboard-like environment. The whole experience left a lot to be desired and I never went back. It certainly wasn't the first VR experience (or the most advanced) made available for public consumption, but it sums up how many felt about the ill-fated, first wave of consumer-facing VR projects: all hype and not enough substance. The times and technology have changed, though, and it's finally time for round two. VR systems are being developed and promoted at a rate that outstrips the previous era, with better graphics and games (and far less queasiness) than ever before. VR, it seems, is just about ready for prime time. So to commemorate its second coming, let's take a look at virtual reality's bumpy road to mainstream recognition.

[Image: AP Photo/Mark Cowan]

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Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson is a collaboration between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Once a week, as part of an ongoing series, we'll be preparing one recipe from the book until we've made all of them. Wish us luck.

Sometimes, the ingredient lists for these Watson recipes read like a Chopped contestant's worst nightmare.

Inside the basket you will find: tart shells, gruyere, sour cream and salmon filets.

Almost any time you mix cheese and fish, you know you're in trouble. (Update: I acknowledge that both tuna melts, and bagels with cream cheese and lox are rare exceptions to this rule.) But, if anyone is capable of taming the culinary cruelty of Watson it would be the brilliant minds at the Institute of Culinary Education, like Florian Pinel and Michael Laiskonis. So, even though the idea of a Scandinavian salmon quiche is a little off-putting, I put my faith in the human interpreters to steer me and my captive taste testers in the right direction.

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This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article at TheSweethome.com

It took 100 hours of research and testing conducted by an airborne particle physicist and former NOAA scientist using $100,000+ of equipment to find the best air purifier for most people: The $250 Coway AP-1512HH Mighty. It's as effective at removing particulate contaminants (such as pollen, spores, smoke, and dust) as machines over twice its size and costing twice as much. But the best air purifier for you personally depends on your specific needs, which is why we have other recommendations.

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Samsung's new wireless headphones are a worthy contender

Last summer, I spent some time getting to know the first four entries in Samsung's "Level" audio line. There's a new item this year, though: a wireless version of the original Level On headphones. In case you missed the first roundup, this model is an on-ear option, and it ended up being my favorite of the bunch. But with the bulk of the features being the same, is the extra $80 worth it to go wireless?

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The best accessories to upgrade your action camera

"Have action cam, will travel." That's probably what was going through your mind as you pecked your credit card details in when buying your first GoPro, Drift, Sony or what have you. We promise, it won't be long before you're looking to kit it out with some accessories. In fact, more than any other gadget, the humble action cam craves to be accessorized and adapted for a seemingly unlimited number of applications. It's lucky then, that there's a truckload to choose from. If you're thinking it's all just poles and helmet mounts, you're in for a surprise (though that's definitely a good place to start). We've rounded up a bunch of the best that should cover everyone from the weekend warrior to pro film crews. This is your action camera, upgraded. (Psst: Check the galleries for more info on each product).

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The hockey game on the flat-screen behind the bar had served as a pleasant background visual as I ate dinner. But with my plate cleared, the action on-screen drew my full attention. I took a sip of beer as players converged on the puck, white jerseys sliding into red and sticks slapping intently over a small, swift black dot. More furious movement and some of the athletes fell back as others rushed forward chasing their objective: Control the puck. I took another sip. Two men, one from each team, flew toward the black dot as it slid across the bottom wall of the rink and the rest of the players settled into position behind them, constantly moving, pushing for dominance of their immediate areas. Each person on the ice clearly had a specific role. And then halfway through my second beer, it clicked. "It's like they're playing League of Legends in real-life," I thought, frozen in mid-sip. "Holy shit. I think I understand hockey now."

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The top 12 tablets you can buy right now

It's true, we don't review quite as many tablets around here as we used to, but that doesn't mean slates have gone the way of the dodo. Microsoft's new Surface 3 is as much a budget PC as it is an iPad competitor, while Dell's sleek Venue 8 7000 reminds us that there's still a place for high-end tablets. Whether you're looking to update your own slate or pass one on to someone behind the curve, you'll find a summary of our top picks in the gallery below or you can head to our complete buyers guide for a full rundown.

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Spend enough time on social media and you're bound to make a mistake that'll piss a few people off. It's pretty much inevitable. That's what the free indie "game" #notifications is all about. It begins the way many of us start our day: lying in bed, checking Twitter ("Twiddler" in this case) on a smartphone. There's a single eponymous notification for you at this point: a favorite on a tweet from the night before reading, "Tomorrow's going to be good, I can feel it!" That was incredibly short-lived.

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All kinds of personal-sized, eco-minded rides have been popping up on the market ready to propel us through the streets. Whether it's for a quick commute or a casual cruise, these electric rideables help save time and fossil fuels. Not only do they get you from point A to point B quickly, but they're also fun to ride... and you won't sweat up a storm along the way. But which one is right for you? Below, we take a look at all the bikes, scooters, skateboards and everything else in between to serve up some useful personal transport suggestions. You never know, there might be a pair of RocketSkates in your future.

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Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson is a collaboration between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Once a week, as part of an ongoing series, we'll be preparing one recipe from the book until we've made all of them. Wish us luck.

Before taking the helm at Vogue, where she laid the groundwork for the Devil to wear Prada, Diana Vreeland wrote a series of columns for Harper's Bazaar called "Why Don't You?" In a sort of goop for the 20th century, she would goad the super rich into ridiculous feats of capitalism.

"Why don't you rinse your blond child's hair in dead champagne to keep it gold, as they do in France?" she'd ask. Or, "Have your bed made in China -- the most beautiful bed imaginable, the head board and spread of yellow satin embroidered in butterflies, alighting and flying, in every size and in exquisite colors?"

Watson seemed to be channeling Ms. Vreeland in Cognitive Cooking, a collaboration between IBM's supercomputer and a group of humans at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). "Why don't you make an old-fashioned with a splash of chicken broth and a slice of grilled chicken for garnish?" it inquired. And in the spirit of excess we did just that.

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