TIME technology

Hero Builds a Genius Machine That Can Fill 100 Water Balloons in a Minute

The Kickstarter campaign to fund it has already earned more than $100,000

Some people turn to Kickstarter for dumb ideas that clearly will not help anyone. (We’re looking at you, potato salad guy.) But other people, like this father of eight from Texas, use the crowdfunding site to raise money for something that could ACTUALLY ALTER THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY.

Say hello to Bunch O Balloons, a contraption that solves a very real problem about water balloons: they’re so much fun, but they take forever to fill. No longer! This device will easily fill and tie 37 balloons in 20 seconds flat. You simply attach it to a hose and give it a gentle shake once the balloons are filled. Already tied, they’ll then drop right into a bucket below.

Creator Josh Malone set out to raise $10,000 to begin manufacturing this invention — and now, having raised more than $100,000, he’s clearly surpassed that goal.

This contraption will be especially handy if you’ve got sneaky pets who tend to pop your water balloons:

Now you’ll be all, Who cares? Give me just a minute and I’ll have 100 more where that came from!

TIME Internet

The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

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A Kickstarter for this project has already raised more than $120,000

If you’re hoping to help your fat cat slim down, consider getting him this feline hamster wheel. It’s still in its funding stages, but a Kickstarter campaign has already vastly exceeded its goal of $10,000.

In just a few weeks, supporters of this exercise wheel — called One Fast Cat — have pledged well over $120,000. But why a hamster wheel?

“It’s good for cats to get some sort of workout and changing it up to keep them interested is important,” creator Sean Farley wrote on the Kickstarter page. “There are many ways to keep your cat lively, giving them access to energetic companions, making a play session part of their day, and/or offering them tempting exercise equipment for use when you’re not at home…that’s why we came up with “One Fast Cat” cat wheel.”

Okay then! Here’s a look at how the contraption works:

After giving this some thought, we’re not really surprised that the campaign surpassed its funding goal. It’s 2014. If there’s wine for cats, why can’t there be a hamster wheel for cats too?

TIME Marriage

Don’t Blame Facebook For Your Divorce

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cpaquin—Getty Images

Understanding the flaws in a new study that says time spent on Facebook is related to the divorce rate

A new study suggests that there is a relationship between increased Facebook use and divorce. But don’t delete your Facebook account yet: the researchers themselves admit that they have found a correlation between the two, not causation.

The researchers, who published the study in the July 2014 edition of Computers in Human Behavior, first looked at the rise of Facebook use and the rate of divorce in individual states. They found that a 20% increase in the number of Facebook users in a given state is associated with a 4% increase in the divorce rate the following year. However, the researchers could not identify who exactly was creating new Facebook accounts: it could have been young teens allowed to log on to the site for the first time or older people finally catching on to the trend. The people increasing their Facebook use were not necessarily the same people who were getting divorced.

The researchers also looked at survey information from individuals across the country aged 18 to 39. They found a weak relationship between marriage quality and social media use: those who spent more time on Facebook, Twitter and other sites were more likely to be unhappy with their marriage and thinking about ending it. However, an easy explanation for this correlation absolves Facebook: rather than social media sites causing people to be unhappy with their marriages, people who are unhappy (whether with their spouse or their life in general) could be turning to Facebook and other social media as an outlet. Individuals use Facebook to talk to friends, connect with old acquaintances and browse news and information—all of which can be used as a distraction from the less pleasant realities of life.

As the researchers conclude: “The study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship because that would require longitudinal and/or experimental data.”

Sure, the Internet has made it easier to find mistresses and simpler to track a spouse’s cheating. But in the end, the individual has agency. Being exposed to exes, old friends or strangers online perhaps makes cheating more tempting, but it doesn’t encourage cheating. Similarly, a person may be inclined to monitor their partner’s activity, but that person can also choose to trust his or her significant other. In short, if a cheater is going to cheat, he doesn’t need Facebook (0r even the Internet) to accomplish that goal.

TIME Internet

Today’s Google Doodle Is a Beautiful Tribute to Nelson Mandela

On what would have been his 96th birthday

Seven months after Nelson Mandela’s death, Google is paying tribute to the iconic leader with an interactive illustration. It traces Mandela’s legacy through six of his most memorable and influential quotes paired with corresponding drawings.

“Something that stood out to me about Nelson Mandela was his eloquent way with words,” the doodle’s designer, Katy Wu, writes in a blog post. “I thought his words gave a great insight into the kind of man he was, so I wanted to focus the creative direction of the doodle on his quotes against a backdrop of the history of South Africa.”

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Be sure to check out the rest of the doodle on Google’s homepage today.

MORE: The Indispensable Man: Nelson Mandela (1918–2013)

MORE: A Final Farewell to Madiba

PHOTOS: Mourning Madiba: South Africans Say Goodbye to Nelson Mandela

TIME Internet

A 13-Year-Old Built His Own Google Glass and It’s Pretty Impressive

Take that, glassholes.

+ READ ARTICLE

Who needs to shell out $1500 for a pair of Google Glass when you can just make your own? Clay Haight, 13, created his own (quasi-functional) pair as a part of a DIY project.

According to Make:

Clay’s DIY “Google Glass” uses the sensors on the Arduino Esplora along with the Arduino LCD screen and a 3D printed frame. He can use voice commands to bring up a calendar with his schedule, local maps, and temperature and weather info. A headband on the back keeps it from tilting to one side.

(h/t: Daily Dot)

TIME Internet

Here’s The First Instagram Photo Ever

Today in Internet history

Four years ago today on July 16, 2010, Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom uploaded the first photo to the app, which was called Codename at the time. This picture of a golden retriever was taken at a taco stand called “Tacos Chilakos”, and the foot belongs to Systrom’s girlfriend, according to a spokesperson for Instagram. The name of the dog and its owner are unknown.

It may come as no surprise that the first image was a photo of a dog. After all, Instagram has become the kind of site where dogs can become celebrities, as a Shiba Inu and a persistently smiley dog named Tuna boast more than 890,000 followers and 870,000 followers respectively.

 

TIME Food & Drink

You Can Finally Start That Shrine to Yourself With This Selfie Toaster

Vermont Novelty Toaster

Eat Instagram for breakfast

For further evidence that selfie culture is turning from a form of self-expression into pure kitsch, we offer up the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation’s new selfie toaster. For only $75, you, too, can put your face on a piece of bread and then eat it for breakfast in the morning. It only takes a week to deliver!

“Yes, you don’t have to be famous or Jesus to have your face on toast,” company president Galen Dively says in the device’s press release. But you do have to pretty narcissistic to buy a toaster for the sole purpose of making your face appear more places!

It’s one thing to take a photo of yourself and Snapchat it to a friend in an earnest attempt at communicating something; it’s entirely another to stamp that face all over the world around you, turning your kitchen into a nightmarish temple to yourself.

With the help of CNC technology, making a custom-design toaster is cheaper than ever, so you can buy a toaster that prints just about anything, according to the company. They even take Bitcoins. Duh.

TIME Sports

Local TV Station Outrages World Cup Fans by Interrupting the Final Game With a Weather Report

No one cares about thunderstorms right now, you dummies!

+ READ ARTICLE

With six minutes to go in the final game of the World Cup, viewers in southern New York and parts of northern Pennsylvania got really angry. No, not because their team of choice missed a great opportunity to score or because their favorite player got hurt, but because a local TV station interrupted the game to provide a weather report.

The weather coverage from ABC affiliated WENY lasted for the remaining minutes of the game, Deadspin reports.

Naturally, fans were, uh, less than pleased. Many took to Twitter to express their unhappiness and even sling threats at the station.

(h/t Deadspin)

TIME Tech

The Future Internet World Order

Pay attention to the "swing states" that will determine the future of Internet governance, which depends on a reshuffling of the prevailing world order.

In the future, who – or what – will govern the Internet? The answer to that question could also shed light on one of the biggest foreign policy questions of the decade: As power is shifting among states and diffusing, what is the future of the world order?

That first question was in the spotlight in 2012, right around the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the topic of Internet governance attracted major international media attention. The conference provided a snapshot of the status quo: It ended in a diplomatic éclat with 89 states, including Russia and China, signing a new telecommunications treaty and 55 countries, including the United States, the vast majority of OECD members and several others such as Mongolia, India and Peru, publicly opposing it. The conference became the latest showdown of the ongoing struggle over the future of the Internet, with some countries led by Russia and China seeking greater governmental control and others supporting an Internet governance model driven by civil society, the private sector and governments.

Caught in the middle are the “swing states”– countries that have not decided which vision for the future of the Internet they will support. Yet, the outcome of this debate ultimately depends on these states – the ones that have not yet firmly staked out a position and who represent a significant share of the world’s population and economy.

The future of the world order, too, depends on a set of “swing states.” In 2011, G. John Ikenberry, an international relations theorist at Princeton, published his influential article “The Future of the Liberal World Order,” in Foreign Affairs arguing that though the composition of world power is changing, the liberal international order and its liberal and democratic norms are alive and well. The events in Ukraine reignited this debate, as some point to the ongoing conflict as an evidence of the demise of this same world order. They say that these norms are eroding and increasingly contested. So which is it? Again – the answer will come from the swing states. Writing in the Washington Quarterly in Winter 2013, Richard Fontaine and Daniel M. Kliman note that the direction these countries go “may, together, decisively influence the trajectory of the current international order.”

In a new study, we scrutinize the role of swing states in the wake of the discord at WCIT in 2012. Our report Tipping the Scale moves beyond previous analyses that have focused on predefined groups of countries such as the “IBSA,” “BRICS” or “MINTs” by applying a more systematic approach using the voting record at the WCIT as a baseline. We examined the 193 UN member states using a range of indicators to identify a core group of 30 swing states that we believe will be the global game-changers. Our findings will hopefully serve as a checklist to compare current efforts and to inform future strategic planning.

While it is not surprising to find India, Brazil and South Africa among the key 30 swing states, some of our findings raise interesting questions. For example, why did Belarus, “Europe’s last dictatorship,” as some have called it, vote against the Internet regulations from that Dubai conference while most of the other authoritarian regimes voted for them? Why did Brazil vote for them in spite of a vibrant civil society supporting multistakeholderism? And what about Turkey, Mexico and South Korea, the only OECD members voting for the regulations in spite of having endorsed the OECD’s Principles for Internet Policy-Making, which explicitly reference multistakeholder cooperation? And, critically, what do these voting records tell us about other political realities in each country?

Ultimately, this Internet governance debate is embedded in the larger systemic shift – the reshuffling of the world order. Take Brazil and India, two of the countries that have attracted greater attention during this debate, not only with regard to the future of the Internet but the future of the international order. Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Ghana and Malaysia also are on our list and deserve more attention. Their behavior shapes what norms and institutions will govern our lives in the future, including finance, post-2015 development goals, international security – and the future of the Internet.

Tim Maurer is a research fellow at New America, the focuses on cyberspace and international affairs at New America. Robert Morgus is a research associate at the Open Technology Institute, where he provides research and writing support on cyber space and international affairs. This piece originally appeared at The Weekly Wonk.

TIME Internet

This Twitter Bot Will Create Your Very Accurate Portrait Out of Emojis

An excuse for deep self-reflection

A new Twitter bot called @emojidoll will create personalized portraits of those who tweet “me” at it. The randomized generator was programmed by former Flickr and bitly head of product Matthew Rothenberg and creates 15.6 million possible combinations of faces, shoes, hats, torsos, hands made out of handguns, balloons, and bananas. There is a distinct underutilization of the eggplant, though. For better or worse.

At best, you’re tipsy, sensei Santa with a butcher knife:

Twitter

At worst, you have poop for a face:

Twitter

(h/t: Daily Dot)

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