March 29th, 2012
10:25 PM ET

Food coloring controversy is not so rosy

Some people are freaking out after finding out that their favorite Frappuccino is colored by bugs. The Strawberries & Crème blended beverage at Starbucks contains cochineal extract.

Image courtesy Starbucks

The coloring additive gives the drink its pretty pink hue.

A cochineal, by the way, is an insect.

And guess what... this drink is not the only place you will find it. Until 2009, companies could put it on their ingredients list as "natural coloring."

Now the FDA requires the specific labeling of cochineal extract, sometimes called carmine.

The alternative is artificial. Usually Red Dye #40. That is derived from petroleum. Yum!

So, bugs or oil? Neither sounds appetizing. Both come with their own health concerns.


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Filed under: General • Over and Out There
March 25th, 2012
10:24 PM ET

Kickstarter: Crowdsourcing cash

Behind every great product is... money. Yes, you need a good idea. But without the cash to turn it into reality, it's just an idea.

That's where Kickstarter comes in.


March 22nd, 2012
01:48 PM ET

Rovio's Next Frontier

My grandpa loves the Angry Birds. He can play it for hours. And he is not alone. The popular game has been downloaded 700 million times by people young and old.

Now Rovio is releasing Angry Birds Space. The Finnish firm has pulled out the stops to promote its latest offering.

Rovio teamed up with NASA for what it calls the first-ever game announcement from space. (For those of you still unsure why these birds are so angry, take a moment to watch astronaut Don Pettit.)


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Filed under: Games • General • Space
March 20th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

Flying robots

Technically they're called "Autonomous Agile Aerial Robots." But it's also accurate to call them Really Awesome Self-Flying Robots.

The University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab created these UAVs to be light and maneuverable. They measure about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and weigh 60-70 grams.

Professor Vijay Kumar explained how they work at a recent TED talk. There is no GPS system guiding their movements. Instead, they are equipped with a Microsoft Kinect and a Hokuyo laser scanner. They can actually be sent into a building and create a map of it on the fly.

When they're not making music, of course.

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Filed under: Over and Out There • Science • Technology • Viral Videos
March 15th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Can you take the heat?

The name does not sound menacing. But the U.S. Defense Department's "Active Denial System" will make you turn and run.

Wired.com Senior Writer, Spencer Ackerman let the military use the so-called Pain Ray on him.

Want more? You can read his piece here.

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Filed under: General • Technology
March 7th, 2012
02:23 PM ET

Did a Chinese blogger leak the next Apple tablet?


Well ahead of today's expected launch of the latest iPad, one Chinese tech blog claims to already know what it looks like.

Over the weekend, Hong Kong-based MIC Gadget released this video of what it says are authentic supplier parts of the new Apple device. The blog's 21-year-old founder Chris Chang says the components reveal a bigger camera, thicker case and more tapered edges for the next-generation tablet.

But how did a young Chinese blogger apparently scoop Apple with an early exposé of the new tablet?

Chang tells me he scored the alleged leak by working his supplier contacts in Shenzhen, China.

March 6th, 2012
02:29 PM ET

Know Your Oreo

The News Stream team is fond of sweet treats; we often have a stash of chocolate sitting by our desk. So imagine our joy when we realised it was the humble Oreo cookie's 100th birthday, and we had a valid excuse to buy some packets.

It's a fairly simple recipe – two part chocolate biscuit, one part cream filling – but the Oreo has become the world's top-selling cookie, sold in more than 100 countries.

But here's the piece Oreo trivia you really want to hear:

50% of all Oreo eaters pull apart their cookies before consuming them, and women are more likely to twist them open than men.  FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Personal musings