variety of thai food in fresh market, Asia, Thailand

The authenticity of native eats can vary from generation to generation, or country to country if you're eating in a place different than where a dish was originally created. But that's not to say there aren't cases in which things are cooked and made the right way. Thailand, as you're likely aware, is home to some delicious food, and the government now wants to make sure that its most popular dishes are being represented well. To do so, "e-Delicious," a robot capable of tasting food and making sure it meets various quality standards, was built. The idea came from Thailand's Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as she became interested in fighting against bad Thai food in Thailand and elsewhere across the world.

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Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series? So is the University of Canterbury's Richard Vale: he's created a statistical model based on the series' previous tomes to predict what might be in the next book. Don't worry though, it's mostly spoiler free. Vale's analysis of Game of Thrones doesn't account for plot or foreshadowing -- it's strictly a numbers game.

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okTurtles

The encryption that protects your email and social updates is far from flawless -- it's relatively easy for spies to intercept your data using spoofs and hacked servers. If Greg Slepak has his way, though, there will soon be a safer way to send your info. His okTurtles project uses blockchains (the transaction databases you see in virtual currencies like Bitcoin) to let you communicate over the web without the risk of a man-in-the-middle attack. Rather than rely on website security certificates that could easily be compromised, it gives individual users public keys that unlock data within blockchains. There's no centralized authority, and you can even run one of the necessary servers yourself if you don't trust others. When complete, okTurtles will have a browser add-on that lets you use this authentication on virtually any site. You could talk to a fellow okTurtles user through Gmail without worrying that someone besides your recipient could easily read the message, for example.

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Social media and civil unrest have long gone hand-in-hand, from coordinating revolution during the Arab Spring to repressing corruption in Turkey. Amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, locals have taken to the location-based messaging app FireChat to communicate with each other. 100,000 local users signed into the off-the-grid messaging app for the first time last weekend after a student activist recommended the app for communication should authorities switch off cellular networks. The app creates a mesh network between nearby users using WiFi, cellular data, or Bluetooth, allowing them to communicate with people even when strict firewalls are in place. For now, it looks as though we're a long way away from the heavy-handed tactics of other governments, but FireChat's sudden popularity shows locals are keen to stay one step ahead when it comes to communication.

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For better or worse, much has been made about the distinct shape of BlackBerry's new smartphone, the Passport. And, according to Ron Louks, president of the company's Devices division, we can expect BlackBerry to start pushing more out-of-the-ordinary hardware, like its latest, in the years to come. During an interview with Reuters, Louks said BlackBerry can afford to take risks after sorting out its financial situation, adding that the goal is to introduce "at least one unconventional device" every year. "When it comes to design and being a little bit disruptive, we want that 'wow' factor," he said. Louks also stated that BlackBerry is already working on yet another unusual device, and while there were no details revealed on what it is exactly, he did say carriers have had some positive feedback toward it. Whatever it may be, you can definitely color us intrigued.

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Advertisers aren't always a fan of investing in mobile. Part of that reason is that the ads you see on phones and tablets don't command the same amount of attention that ads do on desktops. Google is working on new ad units though that could lure in the big brands, though users might find them somewhat infuriating. Of the four new designs, three are fullscreen ads and some are interstitial ads that would take over the screen at a "logical break point" while you're using an app. These ads could even include video or interactive elements, which pretty much turns them into in-app commercials. So, between levels three and four of the next Angry Birds licensing debacle title you could be watching a 20 second ad for Perdue chicken breasts. Or, you could just be blindly skipping by the ads that hijack your screen to sell paper towels, skin cream, or anything else.

Update: And lest you think Google is about to single-handedly destroy the mobile app landscape, this is pretty similar to an initiative launched by Apple recently.

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If you've been eyeing a Chromebook to replace that Windows or Mac machine, Google's OS is about to get a massive boost in productivity. Starting today, Photoshop is headed to the machines thanks to a partnership with Adobe -- if you meet certain criteria. A cloud-based streaming version of the creative software will be available for Adobe Creative Cloud education customers in beta form, and for now, there's no word on when regular folk will be able to opt in. This version of Photoshop is designed to run on Chromebooks straight from the cloud and packs in Google Drive integration for easy file management. The rest of Creative Cloud is said to follow, however this trial run only includes the popular photo-editing app. As is usually the case with testing phases, there's no clear indication as to when this version of Photoshop will see its widespread release.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II

If you felt that Call of Duty: Black Ops II presented an eerily plausible vision of war in the years ahead, you're not alone. The Atlantic Council, a political think tank, has asked Black Ops II director Dave Anthony to contribute to an "Art of Future Warfare" project that looks at fiction as a possible insight into next-generation conflicts. As he explains, the next big threat to the US probably doesn't fit into conventional definitions of war -- a game developer can imagine fantastic scenarios that might just come true, such as Black Ops II's drone assault on a G20 meeting. This isn't the same as directly guiding US policy, so Anthony's effect will likely be limited. However, it won't be surprising if the country is eventually better prepared for high-tech terrorists and other dangers that it otherwise wouldn't have anticipated.

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Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars

For decades, the NFL blackout rules have been in place to encourage fans to attend games rather than watch from the comforts of home. According to Recode though, that could change this week. The FCC will reportedly axe the long-standing policy that keeps pay-TV outfits like cable and satellite companies from broadcasting local events that don't sell out. As the report points out, NFL fans are usually the most vocal about blackouts due to weekly showings on over-the-air networks (CBS, FOX, and NBC) and the 72-hour window required for a sellout ahead of kickoff. However, even after the rules are nixed, local stations will still be unable to show games that don't fill all of the seats. While the NFL's policies are tied to attendance, other leagues like MLB and NHL have rules in place to protect contracts with broadcasters. As you may recall, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has already spoken out about the NFL blackouts, saying that the league "not longer needs the government's help to remain viable."

[Photo credit: Rob Foldy/Getty Images]

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If you've been following the protracted war between Amazon and Hachette, you know that Amazon's been stymieing sales of certain books by making it impossible to pre-order them, and pushing back delivery of others all over a e-book contract dispute. The situation isn't really even about Hachette any more -- the New York Times notes that few of the hundreds of signers of a recent open letter to Amazon's board of directors are even published by the French firm. It's about something more fundamental. Those authors (or at least a decent chunk of them) now plan to call on the Department of Justice to formally investigate Amazon for monopolistic activity.

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