Recipe for Innovation – ZipList Mixed Lightly with Pinterest

I have an odd affection for Pinterest. While I tend to ignore other social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare for regular surfing, I can’t help but love the concept, design and user involvement of the site, and it always feels like every time I visit, I’m really finding something that catches my interest, even if it is just for a moment.

Of the various topic boards on Pinterest, the most continually interesting one has to be the food board. There’s a term out there called “food porn,” and it’s used when there is food that looks so good, and is so appealing to the eyes, that it causes a rush of endorphins that is the equivalent to looking at pornography. Well, the Pinterest food board is basically a hardcore food porn website, as pinners use it to find and share the best looking food on the web. If you’re smart, you’ll also learn to take advantage of the ability to click on the tantalizing food photos and get the recipe from the source site.

And now, thanks to the handy recipe-saving program ZipList’s new Pinterest-friendly features, you have even fewer reasons not to go recipe cruising on Pinterest. It’s as simple as this: You download the ZipList program and drag the “clip it” feature button to your bookmark toolbar. Then, you just find a tantalizing food image on Pinterest like this:

And you click the clip it button to bring up a screen that turns the image into an ingredient list like this:

From there, you can use the site’s mobile app to bring up your saved ingredient list while you’re at the store, so you can shop for exactly what you need to make the recipe. There’s even a notes feature, in case you want to write down the full step by step recipe for future reference.

The word from Pinterest is that 70% of users say that recipes are their most pinned topic. It’s no surprise, either, as the food industry is booming to the point that it’s being compared in some circles to the rock and roll revolution of the ’60s. So now is a great time to turn your solo food porn adventures into some hot, sweaty kitchen action as you use this program to help you take the bold step into the world of cooking for yourself.

  

Amazon Looking to Rekindle the Tablet Wars with the Kindle Fire 2

It’s looking more and more like the launch of the Google Nexus 7 tablet is just the start of a firestorm about to hit the affordable tablet market. Appropriately then, Amazon is looking to jump back into the fray by fighting that fire with one of their own.

According to rumors first started by a report in the China Times, Amazon is looking to start production early on the Kindle Fire 2, possibly aiming for a release as soon as this summer. While details are sparse on the upgraded Fire, the word is that Amazon’s Taiwan partner Quanta has received the go ahead to start production on what could possibly be a few different models of the Fire. While all of the models are currently being predicted to retain the original Fire’s 7-inch screen (with the base model retaining the $199 price point), most likely the different units will feature increasingly larger storage capacities and work off an increasing pricing structure similar to the  Nexus 7. There’s even word going around that the most expensive unit of the three will include a built-in camera and 4G capabilities. It’s also hard to imagine that even the base model of the new Fire won’t include a faster processor, better screen resolution, and a longer battery life if it looks to keep up with the standard Nexus 7.

I know a few people that own the original Kindle Fire, and the general consensus that you get from them is that “it does what I need it to do,” That’s a far cry from the original mission statement of the Fire when it was still marketing itself as a rival to the iPad at a much cheaper price. Since then, the smaller, cheaper tablet has established a market of its own with the Kindle Fire being seen as the fore bearer, and even the front-runner, of the new line. Considering, though, that Apple, the company whose iPad helped kick off this new war, is allegedly looking to release their own smaller tablet, the big question is if Amazon would do better holding off and seeing what the industry’s giant is going to bring to the table first before jumping the gun with this 2nd generation Fire. Otherwise, the novelty and name power they launched the Fire with in the first place may not hold up if a rushed product that is only meant to compete with the newest kid on the block eventually turns them into another face in the crowd.

  

The Nest… Cooler Than You

Growing up in Texas, I can tell you that many of the conceptions about the Lone Star state range from the completely false (everyone rides horses and owns guns…err…maybe just rides horses), to the begrudgingly true (for PR sake, let’s go with everyone drives pickup trucks). The one aspect of the great state of Texas that is undeniable, however, is the intense, blinding heat that they get in the summer. Anywhere from 100 to 110 is considered pretty standard, and you’re pretty much forced to deal with it as complaining about the heat is a surefire way to get a “Hot enough for ya?” out of even the most scholarly of natives.

However, from stocking up on Walmart shorts (what a deal!) to raiding the local HEB for some good ole Blue Bell Ice Cream (sorry, getting nostalgic here), every Texan still desperately looks for ways to try to beat the heat. The most popular answer to this question has long been a good central AC unit, because as they said in “Dogma”:

Yet since my time back home, the one innovation in this field I seemed to miss out on is The Nest. Developed by the ex-senior vice president in charge of the iPod group, Tony Fadell, and former iPod software engineer Matt Rogers, the Nest is a smart thermometer that is capable of learning your heating and cooling needs while providing input on when you are able to save on energy costs via a handy leaf icon that lets you know when you are at an optimal setting. You can also use your smartphone or computer to change the temperature setting while you’re away to adjust for inclimate weather, and also view a readout of your energy settings to learn how your settings effects your energy bill and how you can modify it accordingly to save in the future. And of course, since it was developed by former Apple employees, it’s incredibly sleek. Its look is straight out of a sci-fi movie and has the appearance of the kind of invention a James Bond villain would use to cool down his volcano lair.

The design of The Nest isn’t just for eye candy, but rather is meant to alert you to the fact that while other lesser thermostats may have similar features, the Nest really is the complete package. Texas-based energy company Reliant Energy has apparently realized this also as they recently announced their plans to stock the Nest thermostat and offer it to anyone who signs up for the Reliant Learn and Conserve Two-Year Plan.

While The Nest is available at Lowes, Home Depot, Apple stores and Amazon, there’s no denying the major boost that a direct partnership with one of the nation’s leading energy companies can have for the company, especially one that’s based in one of the most prime markets for central air units.

Also, the fact is that the more you see of The Nest, the more you realize you need one. Sure, it’s another accessory that’s bringing us closer to the Cyberdyne world of machines running everything, but with glowing reviews from publications like The Wall Street Journal (“Suddenly, I can’t imagine my home without a Nest”), to CNET (“The thermostat of the future can restart an industry”), I’ll accept my fate at the hands of technological overlords as long as my last days are spent at an intelligent (and cost-cutting) level of temperate comfort.

  

The World of Technology is Really Scaring Me Today….

Are you like me and would love to wake up even earlier in the morning just to go nearly kill yourself by running a few miles, and have to come back in a hurry so you can spend the rest of the day at work, but just can’t find a good jogging partner?Well if that’s your excuse (and believe me, it is a great one) then I’ve got bad news. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is working on a flying  robot that can be programmed to keep pace with you and become your morning jog companion.

The Joggobot (those wacky Australians…) can be programmed via a smartphone app for pace and height settings, and then uses a built in camera to follow a marker worn by the jogger in order to constantly stay ahead of you. The device is meant to be a motivator to runners, and give them something to chase after and run with.

Is anyone else frightened by this invention? It reminds me of that villian’s machine from “The Incredibles” that could learn from all the heroes it defeated in order to become stronger for the next wave. Not to mention its basic design is essentially a machine that you are supposed to run from. I was convinced this would be the scariest bit of robotic propeller jet technology I would find today, but I was dead wrong.

Yes that’s a flying cat. Depending on the type of person you are, that image either causes you to laugh or shriek in horror at the danger that device poses to the poor kitten. But if you knew the full story, you’d understand that the only option is to scream in terror and run far away from your computer. Because that isn’t just a flying cat. It’s a flying dead cat.

It’s called the Orvillecopter and was created by a Dutch artist named Bart Jansen. When his beloved cat Orville died, Bart was so stricken with grief that he attached propellers to each of the cats paws and made it into a copter so that it would stand as a tribute to the person it was named after, flight pioneer Orville Wright.

Maybe we should just be thankful we didn’t get to see the invention Bart would have come up with if it was named after snack pioneer, Orville Redenbacher.

So yes, I admit that between training robots to match, map, and surpass human athleticism, and people turning their once loved pets into aeronautic exhibitions, today’s tech news is starting to scare me a bit. In fact, the whole ordeal of today’s news makes me yearn for a simple classic evening. You know, one where I can just retire to my quaint zombie proof home.

And of course eventually find myself tucked away into my comfy, classic, self making bed.

You know, the simple things.

  

Can Facebook’s Buffy “Stake” Its Claim In The Smartphone Market?

I swear, that’s my last bad “Buffy” pun.

Various news outlets from The New York Times to the BBC are reporting that Facebook is reconsidering an entry into the smartphone market.

For some time now, the social media giant has teased the idea of launching a phone of their own. However, early reports indicated that the project started and stopped several times until it was ultimately determined that the actual complete process of making a phone from concept to manufacturing was harder than anticipated, and the idea was scrapped.

Now though the project seems to be back in earnest. Codenamed “Buffy” (which is odd considering Buffy was a TV character that slayed things that were better off left dead), the smartphone’s hardware is reportedly going to be worked on by HTC Corp, while Facebook will internally handle the software development, which could include an independent operating system. To help get the phone out by its alleged 2013 target date, reports are that Facebook is looking for former Apple and other high end smartphone developers to add to the team, of which they may have already hired almost half a dozen.

Everything revealed so far has suggested that Facebook is taking this project very seriously. The word around the company is that Mark Zuckerberg is worried that if Facebook doesn’t make a play to start its own phone service, that it will become just another mobile app and get lost in the shuffle of the new world order of smartphone superiority. Not to mention that Facebook could lose out on advertising revenue if it starts being accessed primarily through a third party device.

Facebook still carries a lot of name value, and its internal app market could potentially be very popular if kept exclusive to its new phone, but I still think this sound like a case of overreaching. If the initial conclusion was that smartphone development was going to be too complex just a year ago, I don’t know what could have changed their minds in the meantime. Well, besides that slightly embarrassing public offering fiasco of course.  But if this is all an effort to extend Facebook’s reach enough for them to wipe some egg off of their face, things could turn ugly.