New Google search feature could help you avoid lines

In Austin, a city where a “line-sitting service” is an all too real of a way for people to make money, Google’s most recent news is noteworthy.

Screenshot
Screenshot

No, we’re not talking about self-driving cars. We’re talking about the new Google search feature that will help you navigate around the busiest places in Austin.

That’s right, as of this last Tuesday, whenever you Google search places and businesses, that place’s busiest hours will appear along with the usual information (business hours, address, etc.).

According to a Google post on Google Plus Tuesday, the most popular times features is now available for “millions of places and businesses around the world” so “you can avoid the wait.”

» PHOTOS: HAVE YOU WAITED IN THIS LINE? «

How did Google gather this data?

“Much like we compute traffic data based on the anonymized aggregated movement of people on the road, we are able to determine relatively how busy a place is,” said Google.

Of course there are other apps already out there to help you avoid waiting, but if you’re already using Google search for a local business, may as well use its popular times feature.

 

 

Zayn Malik is officially taking his career in a new direction

Singers Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tominson, and Harry Styles of One Direction attend the 42nd Annual American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singers Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tominson, and Harry Styles of One Direction attend the 42nd Annual American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Zayn Malik broke teenage hearts everywhere in late March when he made the decision to leave One Direction, the wildly popular boy band that he and his four friends had formed in 2010.

In a statement released at the time, Malik said, “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.”

It looks like the former Directioner has had enough time to rest – Malik announced on Wednesday via his personal Twitter account that he is officially starting a solo singing career.

Malik has been signed to RCA Records, the same label that has signed Justin Timberlake, Usher and Britney Spears. Malik posted a photo of himself signing a contract at the record label, followed by another tweet reading, “#REALME.”

Some fans read the “real music” and “real me” mentions as digs at One Direction, but Malik retweeted a message from a fan, explaining what he really meant:

https://twitter.com/zaynhealy/status/626488911796248576

Simon Cowell, creator of the televised British music competition “The X Factor,” similar to “American Idol,” also tweeted his support of Malik. Cowell was instrumental in One Direction’s rise to fame, signing the band to his record label, Syco, after they placed third in the competition in 2010.

No word yet on when we can expect Malik’s first solo album, but the remaining members of One Direction are currently touring North America.

Potential Taylor Swift feud watchlist: the Houston Astros

Watch out, Houston Astros. If history repeats itself, a Taylor Swift-penned diss track directed toward you might hit the charts soon. After concerns that the baseball team’s potential playoff run could run into a scheduling conflict with the pop star’s world tour, the Houston Chronicle reports that a calendar kerfuffle has been avoided. And in the stare-down for a slot at Minute Maid Park, it wasn’t the Astros who blinked last Monday.

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) gets dunked by Luis Valbuena (18) and Marwin Gonzalez, right, after hitting the game-winning home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Houston. The Astros won 5-4. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve (27) gets dunked by Luis Valbuena (18) and Marwin Gonzalez, right, after hitting the game-winning home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Houston. The Astros won 5-4. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The Houston stop on Swift’s “The 1989 World Tour” will now light up the baseball stadium on Sept. 9 instead of the previously planned Oct. 13, when a potential Divisional Series game would have kept Swift from shaking it off. The Astros will be in Oakland on Swift’s new H-Town date.

“The new show date will ensure that fans of Taylor Swift will have every opportunity to see her perform at Minute Maid Park,” according to an Astros news release, “as the September 9th date does not conflict with any potential postseason baseball.”

Singer Taylor Swift performs during her "1989" world tour at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, July 11, 2015, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Singer Taylor Swift performs during her “1989” world tour at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, July 11, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

According to the Chronicle, tickets for the old Swift stop date guarantee the same seat, and refunds are available if Swifties don’t have a blank space in their datebook on Sept. 9.

As Mashable points out, the Astros foretold a conflict when Swift’s tour dates were announced last December, tweeting “Note: the date of the Taylor Swift 1989 tour show at #MMP is subject to change if it conflicts with an #Astros postseason home game.” At the time, the team had just flailed in another consecutive losing season, so the very idea was laughable to the social media hivemind.

Swift, of course, has been in the news for beefs of all sorts. The “Style” singer recently got into a widely publicized Twitter spat with rapper Nicki Minaj over this year’s MTV Video Music Award nominations. (Speaking of VMA nods, the “Bad Blood” video is widely rumored to be a dig at pop singer Katy Perry.) And don’t get us started on Swift’s potential feud with the People’s Republic of China.

Will the Houston Astros follow in the grand tradition of Perry and ex-boyfriend John Mayer and receive their own musical burn?

(No, of course not.)

The best ‘Bachelorette’ think pieces and wrap ups

The season finale of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” didn’t exactly come as a surprise to very many, thanks to a poorly timed Snapchat video, but the internet is ablaze nonetheless.

After a season that was heavy on drama and light(er) on unrealistic fantasy dates, the 30th installment of the “Bachelor” franchise came to an end when 29-year-old dance instructor Kaitlyn Bristowe chose 28-year-old personal trainer Shawn Booth as the man she wanted down on one knee.

Kaitlyn Bristowe waits during the Monday night finale of 'The Bachelorette.' (Rick Rowell/ABC)
Kaitlyn Bristowe waits during the Monday night finale of ‘The Bachelorette.’ (Rick Rowell/ABC)

Monday night’s conclusion was the end of one of the craziest seasons in “Bachelorette” history, and after that three-hour finale, there is certainly a lot to dissect. Here are the most thought-provoking “Bachelorette” think pieces on the internet:

• Variety: ‘The Bachelorette’ Finale: Chris Harrison Defends Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Controversial Season

• Washington Post: Kaitlyn spoiled ‘The Bachelorette’ finale results weeks ago. Why is ABC pretending that never happened?

• Huffington Post: The Best Sport On Television Is … ‘The Bachelorette’?

• Jezebel: The Season of ‘The Bachelorette’ That Changed Everything and Nothing

• Slate: A ‘Bachelorette’ Composer Reveals How He Drums Up Drama and Romance on Reality TV

• Vulture: ‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: Unanswered Questions

• Daily Beast: ‘The Bachelorette’ Finale: Kaitlyn Bristowe Opts For Gosling-Lite Over Man Sweaters

Prepare to say goodbye to ‘Key & Peele’ with these 5 classic sketches

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 3.55.44 PMIt was a sad weekend for fans of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele”: News broke that the fifth and current season of the Emmy-nominated show will be its last.

“It was just time for us to explore other things, together and apart,” Keegan-Michael Key told TheWrap. “I compare it to Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. We might make a movie and then do our own thing for three years and then come back and do another movie.”

Avoid your natural instinct to curl up into a ball and cry (first “The Colbert Report,” then Jon Stewart, now this?!) and re-live the good times with our staff’s five favorite sketches:

Gay Wedding Advice

“Cousin Delroy’s getting married – to a man,” and his family seeks guidance on what to expect at the ceremony.

Substitute Teacher

Inner-city substitute teacher Mr. Garvey is out of his element at his latest assignment.

East/West Bowl 3

The duo’s East/West Bowls are among their most well-known sketches, but this year’s edition stood out for its cameo from former Longhorn Fozzy Whittaker. (Parts one and two are also excellent.)

Menstruation Orientation

Hilarious and educational.

Obama’s Anger Translator

Last but certainly not least: The president’s anger translator, Luther, says everything the commander in chief can’t.

BONUS: Luther stole the show at this year’s White House Correspondents’ dinner:

Did we miss any of your favorite “Key & Peele” sketches? Let us know in the comments!

United States of beer: What beers are most likely to be on menus in every state

Priceonomics’ “United States of Beer” map was inspired by the growing number of breweries across the country, which the San Francisco-based data blog believes accounts for increasing “geographic variety in the beers people drink.”

Check out the Austin360 brew guide launching online this week. Pictured: Beer flight at Pecan Street Brewing. Emma Janzen/American-Statesman
Pictured: Beer flight at Pecan Street Brewing. Emma Janzen/American-Statesman

Using data from BeerMenus.com, they set about answering a number of questions about beer culture in all fifty states.

First up, they identified the most common beers on menus. Like a dozen other states, Bud Light is the most common feature on menus in Texas, according to the data blog.

Only a few states —  like Montana where Shiner Bock is curiously the most popular menu beer — had something that deviated from the big three macro brews (Bud Light, Coors Lite and Miller Lite).

Appearing on nearly half of all bar and restaurant menus, Hill Country-brewed Real Ale Fireman’s #4 is the beer most likely to be on Austin menus.

Just for fun it seems, Priceonomics also created a “PBR Index” to rank cities by their availability of American hipsters’ favorite beer. According to their data, as little as 14 percent of bars and restaurants in Austin serve PBR.

PBR lovers are much more likely to find places where they belong up in Saint Louis, Mo. or Madison, Wis.

And by Priceonomics’ reasoning, Austin is not too snobby when it comes to beer. Their top 20 “Beer Snob Cities” are based off the percent of bars and restaurants that do not serve Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Lite.

What do you think, Austin? Do those stats appropriately represent Austin’s beer culture? Should more places serve PBR? Should less?

Head over to the Priceonomics blog to explore more of their state-by-state stats.

Whataburger wins another burger chain battle

Whataburger has won yet another battle for the best burger chain.

Courtesy of Whataburger
Courtesy of Whataburger

The Texas chain was pitted against 31 other regional and national chains in a recent bracket-style competition put on by Fast Company, a tech and lifestyle magazine.

When Fast Company first launched the competition, they focused on the east coast versus west coast rivalry, even making a video to go along with their poll in which west coast favorites rap battled with east coast favorites.

But readers quickly set the record straight, voting for Texas-born Whataburger in larger numbers than any other chain, including California favorite In-N-Out Burger and Virginia-born chain Five Guys.

What a champ.

Previous Whataburger coverage:

· Whataburger restores normal, egg-laden breakfast hours

· The best apologetic Whataburger responses to their scaled-back breakfast hours

· Whataburger by the numbers

Man takes beautiful engagement photos…with a burrito

A man and his burrito. San Francisco journalist  David Sikorski poses with his betrothed.  Photo by Kristina Bakrevski.
A man and his burrito. San Francisco journalist
David Sikorski poses with his betrothed. Photo by Kristina Bakrevski.

Growing up can bring you down. That was the case with 28-year-old San Francisco-based writer David Sikorski.

Not happy with the mature shift his friends’ social media pages had taken, Sikorski decided to do something about it.

“I’ve reached the age where my Facebook is now filled with engagement and baby photos; back in 05/06, it was filled with incriminating photos of my friends’ weekend escapades,” Sikorski told the Huffington Post.

In an effort to poke fun at the wedded bliss of his friends, Sikorski called in a professional – his friend, and professional photographer, Kristina Bakrevski. The two set out on a mission to photograph Sikorski with the special someone (or something, to be exact) in his life: a burrito from the San Francisco restaurant Taqueria La Cumbrea.

Bakrevski captured the love between man and burrito through a series of “engagement” photos taken in and around some of San Francisco’s most iconic locations.

Afterward, Sikorski did what any devoted couple would do – he posted the photos to social media for all his friends and family to see.

The photos have since gone viral, and Sikorski has been fielding questions about his special day with his beloved burrito, including what song the couple will dance to at their wedding. They seem to have chosen wisely:

“Some people are going out and getting married and others are fine just enjoying a good burrito,” Sikorski said to the Huffington Post.

Sounds like he’s got his priorities in order.

Think you can top Sikorski’s burrito photos? Send us your own pictures from your Very Austin Wedding here.

Taylor Swift’s latest case of ‘Bad Blood’ could be with China

Singer Taylor Swift performs during her "1989" world tour at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, July 11, 2015, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Singer Taylor Swift performs during her “1989” world tour at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, July 11, 2015, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Taylor Swift might have bigger problems than a beef with Nicki Minaj.

In response to unauthorized T-Swift merchandise being sold around China, Swift recently opened up shops through Chinese online retailers Alibaba and JD.com. She is set to begin selling a line of T-shirts, sweaters and dresses to promote her “1989” world tour, according to The Guardian.

But 1989, and Swift’s initials, TS, could strike a particularly sensitive chord with China, as they recall the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. On June 4 of that year, Chinese troops killed hundreds of pro-Democracy protesters who were gathered in the Beijing square, and the Chinese government has been protective of all information regarding the event ever since, blacklisting combinations of the numbers 6, 4, and 89.

This minimalist black hoodie is currently available on Taylor Swift's U.S. web store.
This minimalist black hoodie is currently available on Taylor Swift’s U.S. web store.

Swift’s U.S. online store currently sells a variety of shirts, bracelets and other merchandise simply emblazoned with “T.S. 1989,” but it is not clear if those items will be made available to Chinese consumers. In a video posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo, Swift introduced pieces from the new line, none of which looked as minimalist as the items for sale on Swift’s U.S. site.

Swift has managed to avoid confrontation with the Chinese government so far – her latest album, “1989,” is currently available on JD.com.

Introducing your new favorite minor league baseball team, the ‘Tacos’

“Tacos, tacos, tacos!” 

Credit: Fresno Grizzlies' Facebook
Credit: Fresno Grizzlies’ Facebook

Have you ever felt the need to cheer for tacos but not had an occasion?

Well friends, there’s hope: All you have to do is become a fan of Minor League Baseball and be able to feign an affinity for Fresno, Calif.

Behold: The Fresno Tacos.

364 days of the year, the Triple A affiliate team of the Houston Astros plays under the name the Fresno Grizzlies, but for one special game night in August they will take on a tastier name and don taco hats and taco jerseys instead.

The temporary re-branding was planned around the fifth annual Taco Truck Throwdown, which last year saw 27,000 tacos consumed, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Mike Oz, a Yahoo sports writer who also helped found the first-ever Taco Truck Throwdown and played a part in the team re-branding, explained the taco bonanza in a post on Big League Stew:

“We created Taco Truck Throwdown to shine light on the original food trucks, to take these mobile taquerias that often operate on the outskirts, on dusty roads or in industrial areas, and put them in front of thousands of people, so they can see (and taste) the ultimate mom-and-pop businesses… The tacos jerseys and caps were handcrafted in-house by the Grizzlies’ Dorian Castro and Andy Inman. They’re a tribute to one of the things that makes our home great. People say mean things about Fresno a lot, but you can’t say anything bad about our tacos.”

In other words, the Fresno Tacos is more than just pandering to what Oz calls “taco-obsessed Internet people,” which — having just pulled out a debit card to purchase our very own taco hat — we will admit we are.

[h/t Mashable]