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Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Can Blossom's MIT-Enhanced Brew Win Over Skeptical Baristas?
by Danielle Sacks, Fast Company

The quest for the perfect cup o' joe has led to some rather amazing new brewers over the last few years, and the same goes for this MIT engineer's creation. The Blossom One Limited is a brewing unit that gives the barista complete control over all aspects of the process, except for the actual roasting of the beans. Water temperature, coffee dosage, grind, immersion time and more can be tweaked during the search for the best combination. Creator Jeremy Kuempel notes how coffee is more complex than wine on a genetic level, so he sought to make a unit that could showcase the unique properties of different varieties. Oh yeah, the ability to calculate perfection will cost your coffee shop $4,950.

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Microsoft might very well be gearing up to launch a Google Chromecast rival. While the tech giant hasn't announced anything official yet, one of its latest FCC filings details a device codenamed HD-10, which features WiFi, HDMI support and a USB connection. Those three will sound familiar if you know what the Chromecast is, but what really demystifies the device's nature is a separate document on the WiFi Alliance website. That filing, unearthed by Nokia Power User, called the HD-10 a "Miracast Dongle." Miracast, as you might know, is Microsoft's screen-sharing technology available on Windows 8.1, Windows RT and, most recently, Windows Phone 8.1, though it's also built into Android 4.2 (and later) and BlackBerry 10.2.1.

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Reno Weathers Economic Downturn

When it works, cloud streaming video games can feel like a magical experience. Think about it: some remote server is pushing high-quality gameplay directly to your TV -- through the internet! It's a crazy, impressive achievement, but it's still not ready for primetime. Cloud streamed games face latency and control delay issues far too often, and the easy solutions (moving servers nearby or increasing bandwidth) can be expensive. Microsoft proposes another fix: a system that predicts what the player is going to do before they do it. It's called DeLorean, and well, it's ambitious.

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pipeline

Gas leaks are huge trouble. Leaky pipes are not only prone to exploding (which is already terrible, of course), they also spew out methane -- a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. The bad news is, nobody's been monitoring gas leaks closely, so Google Earth Outreach and the Environmental Defense Fund teamed up to do the job back in July. Now, the results for the project's pilot tests are out, and they confirm what everyone suspects: old gas pipes do leak a lot more than new ones. In order to effectively survey large areas, the pair attached methane-detecting sensors to Google's famous roving vehicles: Street View cars. They then sent these dual-purpose vehicles to Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island, whose results you can see in the images after the break.

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Close-up studio shot of woman applying nail polish

An experimental nail polish line called Undercover Colors can do more than color your nails to match those shoes: it can tell if your drink's been spiked by a dubious date. Just pretend to stir the drink with your finger, and the polish will change color the moment it detects GHB, Rohypnol or Xanax (aka date rape drugs or roofies) in the liquid. Pretty cool, right? And certainly useful, seeing as 1.) date rape drugs are typically odorless and tasteless, and 2.) a recent Washington Post report has revealed that sexual assault cases on college campuses continue to grow from year to year.

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Google regularly rolls out Chromecast updates that plug up previous root-friendly exploits, but there's a new method you can use if you want complete control over your streaming device. A group of hardware hackers (fail0verflow, Team Eureka and GTVHacker) have not only discovered a vulnerability in the latest Chromecast software, but also developed a way to exploit it and give you root access. This lets you tinker with the HDMI dongle, enable and disable stuff like software auto-updates and change any setting you wish, among other things. The team's calling it "HubCap," and it works on both newly updated and brand new, fresh-out-the-box Chromecasts. You'll need extra hardware to make it happen (a USB development board called Teensy used to root PS3s back in the day), but if you're dead set on rooting your Chromecast, head over to XDA Developers for the full set of instructions.

[Thanks, CJ]

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As great as running is for your health, it can also cause you some pain if not done properly -- like a lot of things in life, overdoing it could turn out unwanted results (hello, shin splints). Thankfully, there's a new Kickstarter project which is looking to alleviate some of these issues. Meet runScribe, a tiny sensor that attaches to your shoes and can measure a total of 13 different data points from how you run. These detailed kinematic metrics are then used to provide runners with specific info about their stride, including pace, stride rate, stride length and what part of the foot is being used the most upon touching ground. Moreover, runScribe plans to use crowdsourced data to, hopefully, help prevent any future injuries for people who run avidly, as it'll be able to narrow down some of the causing factors thanks to the data collected by the wearable -- such as high impact forces, excessive pronation, running surface and, yes, bad shoes. Without a doubt, runScribe certainly has potential, let's just hope it doesn't disappoint like some of the once-promising Kickstarters.

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Leica M-P

Digital rangefinder cameras may look like retro fashion items, but they're genuinely handy for pros -- they're good for moments when you need quality without carrying a big, conspicuous DSLR. To that end, Leica has just launched the M-P, a new addition to the M series that's more about serious work than style. You're still getting a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor in a relatively small body, but the buffer memory has doubled to a hefty 2GB; the camera should almost always keep up with your rapid-fire photography. There's also a new selection lever that shows you framing for common focal lengths in the viewfinder, and an anti-reflective coating on the scratch-resistant sapphire LCD will help you review your snaps in bright sunlight.

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For Uber, its rise to the top hasn't always gone smoothly. From facing legal challenges across different parts of the world, to battling it out verbally with competitors, the ridesharing company has had to fight hard to make a name for itself. And now things have apparently taken a turn for the worse, at least for some of its drivers. According to PandoDaily, a number of Uber drivers in Los Angeles say they have been suffering from serious attacks, such as robberies at gunpoint, in recent months. The report, which cites three drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity, claims that people with bad intentions are using the Uber app to locate drivers on a map in order to rob them. While, in most cases, these criminals are looking to steal the Uber-provided phones carried by operators, PandoDaily was told someone was, at one point, the victim of a carjacking situation. Either way, the main concern here shouldn't be the iPhones or vehicles at stake, but rather every driver's safety. We've reached out to Uber for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

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