#361 May 12, 2014 – Hacking Food

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This week’s headline story: Hacking Food

eggTechnology has disrupted many, many industries including photography, music, movies, books and education. Will the food industry be next? Silicon Valley investors are beginning to fund projects working to improve our food. Consider Hampton Creek Foods a Silicon Valley start-up developing what it believes will be a key ingredient in food 2.0: an animal-free replacement for the chicken egg. The company is ignoring shell, yolk and white, and focusing on synthesizing a healthful food ingredient that has the same culinary properties as eggs: emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelling, and others. Hampton Creek Foods will sell its egg-substitute to businesses that make mayo, salad dressing, cakes and pies, and other manufactured food. Hampton Creek Foods believes its product is healthier and less expensive than natural eggs, uses less natural resources and energy, and frees chickens from inhumane living conditions. If successful, corporate giants such as ConAgra, General Mills, and Kraft will be on the losing end of the proposition.

Hampton Creek isn’t alone in its efforts towards food 2.0. Rob Rhinehart, a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur, decided he was fed up with paying so much for food. He took a break from hacking software and focused his hacker talents on food. He studied textbooks on nutritional biochemistry and the Web sites of the F.D.A., the U.S.D.A., and the Institute of Medicine. Eventually, Rhinehart compiled a list of thirty-five nutrients required for survival, bought them and blended them up into a drink he calls Soylent. After 30 days of ingesting only his nutritious cocktail, he blogged that his food costs had dropped from four hundred and seventy dollars a month to fifty. “I feel like the six million dollar man. My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker and my dandruff gone.” He concluded, “I haven’t eaten a bite of food in thirty days, and it’s changed my life.”

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Advice to Today’s Graduates: No Selfies [NewsFactor]It’s graduation time at many Universities, and some schools are concerned about “selfies” dragging down graduation ceremonies. Graduates at the University of South Florida and Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., have been told to refrain from taking self-portraits while receiving their diplomas or risk having diplomas withheld.
  • IU computer scientists develop tool for uncovering bot-controlled Twitter accounts [IU News]It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of Twitter Tweets are generated by automatic systems called bots. While many of these bots are designed to spread Spam, some are designed to spread misinformation. Researchers at Indiana University in Bloomington have developed a tool that can determine which tweets are likely to have been generated by bots. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to counter technology-based misinformation and deception campaigns by foreign governments.
  • First prosthetic arm wired to muscles approved by the FDA [ars technica]The Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale and marketing of a prosthetic arm called the DEKA Arm System, which uses electronic signals from the wearer’s muscles to induce up to 10 different movements in the prosthetic. The arm was created by DEKA Research and Development, a Boston, MA company founded by Dean Kamen, who is most famous for creating the Segway. DEKA was funded by a $40 million grant from DARPA and is the first prosthetic arm wired to muscles that has been approved by the FDA.
  • Sony tape smashes storage record [BBC]Sony has created a cassette tape capable of holding 185 terabytes. That’s roughly five times more capacity than previous top-level tapes. This is huge news for companies like Facebook and Google that use tape drives in their data centers. These companies will be able to utilize Sony’s technology to store many times more data in the same amount of space they currently use.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Target CEO Resigns in Wake of Massive Data Breach [NewsFactor]The huge data breach at Target that put 40 million customer credit cards at risk, has led to the resignation of the companies two top executives. CIO, Beth Jacob, resigned in March, and last week Target CEO, President and Chairman Gregg Steinhafel announced that he too is resigning.
  • Researcher: iOS 7 Bug Leaves E-Mails Vulnerable [NewsFactor]Andreas Kurt, a security researcher, says that Apple’s email app in the latest version of its iPhone and iPad software is not securing files that are attached to emails with encryption. This makes the files readily available to anyone with the proper software. This calls into question Apple’s reputation for having secure software. It also seems to contradict an Apple Web page that explains the security of its iOS software.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Some ISPs Intentionally Throttling Internet, Level 3 Says [NewsFactor]One of America’s largest Internet backbone providers, Level 3 Communications, claims that five U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs) and one European ISP are intentionally slowing down the Internet. Level 3 claims the companies are doing this in order to force the creation of more expensive peering agreements with content providers and Tier 1 service providers. Meanwhile the Federal Communications Commission is in the process of determining what sort of regulation should be applied to the telecommunications industry.

and finally…

  • PayPal Executive Loses Job Over Twitter Rant [NewsFactor]PayPal’s new Director of Strategy Rakesh “Rocky” Agrawal has been fired after he fired off a series of insulting, obscenity-laced, and incoherent tweets aimed at his coworkers. The trouble occurred while Rocky was attending the New Orleans Jazz Festival and apparently felt the need to trash-tweet his co-executives at PayPal. After less than two months at the company, Agrawal is out the door.

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