Weekly tech news roundup for July 25

Cake in an aerosol can
No, really – it’s an invention from a Harvard student who developed the concept as a final project for his Science & Cooking class. He said he was looking for ways to eat more cake and, after hearing a lecture by chef Joanne Chang, started wondering if you could make cake batter rise with accelerant bubbles like whip cream. As it happens, yes, you can—and the result is a cake that cooks super fast (because the batter comes out of the can already risen) and will even cook properly in the microwave. Just think of the possibilities – baking a single cupcake at a time, squirting cake batter into your mouth like you would whipped cream. It’s a world gone mad (but here’s a video so you can see just how glorious such a world would be:)

Chromecast1You could be Rickrolled via your Chromecast
A guy has built a “Rickmote Controller” that will take over a Chrome feed to play a Rick Astley video (because, you know, he’s never going to give you up). It works by hitting a Chromecast with WiFi disconnection requests, putting it in setup mode. After that, the Raspberry Pi-based Rickmote makes its own connection and starts the music rolling. The good news? To make this work someone would have to be in range of your Chromecast’s WiFi to make it work so it’ll make it easy to catch the Rickroller red handed :-).

BTW, Chromecast officially turned one yesterday. So far, Google says it has powered over 400 million casts (meaning people have run the software to displays using a Chromecast). Not too shabby for a $35 device.

Google sets their sights on new data—genetic and molecular
They’ve started a very ambitious project to collect anonymous data about the genetic and molecular make-up from 175 people (to start) and are calling the research Baseline. The goal of the study, which Google hopes to expand to include data from thousands of people, is to find patterns—otherwise known as “biomarkers”—in the information to better detect and treat disease. Right now, biomarker research tends to happen later, after someone already has a disease. By identifying markers earlier, the team hopes to help unravel the complexities of how genetics interplay with outside factors such as diet. The project is being headed up by Andrew Conrad, the molecular biologist who helped develop low-cost tests to detect HIV in blood-plasma donations. The study will definitely be long term…and one that Google, I’m sure, hopes will result in technology that helps their bottom line. The Wall Street Journal has more detail on this story.

Kickstarter of the week: Bunch O Balloons
It’s a hose attachment with 37 pre-connected water balloons. All you’ve got to do is turn the water on, fill them, and then give the hose a little shake—the balloons will automatically release and tie themselves! Tinnus Enterprises says you can make up to 100 water balloons in less than a minute with their attachment. Sure, the speed is appealing, but for me it’s the thought of not having to tie them off! For $15 you’ll get a package containing 100 balloons (or pledge $60 and get 500!).

It looks like the delivery dates for this year have all been sold out, but you can still be ready for next year.

Apple suppliers ramp up production on larger screen phones
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Apple suppliers are being told to gear up production on the new, rumored, 4.7- inch and 5.5-inch models. Evidently two factories making the 4.7-inch will be going into mass starting next month, with the factory making the 5.5-inch focusing exclusively on this model in September. These production times seemingly confirm that the 4.7-inch model will roll out to consumers first (likely closely following what is anticipated to be a mid-September release date), with the 5.5-inch model following later.

Hotel WiFi TestTraveling? Find out which hotels have good WiFi
Forbes did a story this week on a website called Hotel WiFi Speed Test—which offers just what you would expect. The site ranks hotels according to their WiFi speed, from highest to lowest. If you’re traveling to say, Chicago, you can see that the downtown Thompson, Chicago has free WiFi that offers about 40Mbps speed, for example….compared to the nearby Homewood Suites that offers, apparently, about 0.37Mbps. While the list is not very comprehensive yet, I could see this website coming in handy not only for business travelers, but also for families with kids. After a long day in the car (read: off of the Internet), sometimes a good WiFi connection is just what the kiddos need to take the edge off :-).

Yell at your kids more easily when you’re on the road
The 2015 Toyota Sienna can come with a new optional microphone called “Driver Easy Speak.” It will project the driver’s voice to the back of the minivan so you can yell at your kids without yelling at them. The good news is, it’s not an intercom—you won’t hear your kids’ voices come back at you louder than ever. As a mom of two, I’m honestly not sure this feature would really help a whole lot—but I suppose it would save your voice. Why car makers aren’t putting in limo-like dividers between mom and dad and the little passengers is beyond me.

TC Cribs: dog-friendly BarkBox HQ
If you have a dog, you probably know or have heard about BarkBox. If you don’t have a canine companion, BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that will send you treats and toys for your dog. Their headquarters is located in New York City and TechCrunch did one of their “Cribs” tours recently. While there wasn’t an indoor dog potty, it was kind of interesting to see a dog-friendly (beer-friendly) workplace.

How-Much-Time-Does-The-Average-American-Spend-on-Facebook-Every-Day-300x300_MobileMarketingWatchAmericans spend more time on Facebook then they do working out…or even relaxing
On an earnings call this week, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shared that American Facebook users spend an average of 40 minutes a day on the social media. That’s more than they spend on working out (19 minutes), and even relaxing (just 17 minutes). (For more information about how Americans spend their leisure time, check out the Bureau of Labor Statstics’ American Time Use Survey)

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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