How Big Tech is Playing a Key Role in Self Driving Cars

Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley are taking on the challenge that awaits in terms of being able to provide millions of Americans with self-driving cars in the years to come. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as well as Microsoft and Amazon are deploying huge amounts of resources to become big players in autonomous vehicles.


Google’s Efforts

Sebastian Thrun from Google started Google’s journey with autonomous cars back in 2009. Nearly a decade’s worth effort has produced dozens of key insights into autonomous vehicles and Google’s own self-driving car, called Waymo. The remarkable thing about Google’s efforts with Waymo is that the self-driving car is a complete system unto itself, including Google’s own proprietary software and sensors.


Google is now in the works with the rental car company Avis. Google plans on allowing Avis to offer autonomous cars using Google’s proprietary software and over a decade’s worth of insights to consumers across the nation. A pilot program of sorts was already undertaken in Arizona insofar as people involved in the program were allowed to use Google’s self-driving cars to get to and from work.


Apple Going Beyond iPhones

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Offer over at Apple, had to disabuse a spate of rumors that Apple had been working on an entire lineup of autonomous vehicles. The truth is that while Apple doesn’t have any near-term plans for autonomous vehicles and Apple cars (Apple mini?), Tim Cook pointed out that Apple is working feverishly on the back-end software that could one day come to power autonomous, self-driving vehicles.


It seems like every big tech company these days is getting involved in autonomous vehicles in one way or another. In the same way that Google partnered with Avis to hopefully deploy rentable autonomous vehicles, Apple has teamed up with Hertz. The plan is for Apple to offer Hertz the use of its software. Apple’s software would ultimately power the autonomous features on some of the SUVs that Hertz offers its customers.


These rumors have been confirmed by the city of San Francisco, where the Apple/Hertz pilot program is slated to be unveiled. Who knows? This might all work out in Apple’s favor in that “drivers” who are free to take their eyes off the road might be more apt to download songs, purchase exciting movies, and listen to music on their smartphones.


Microsoft Also Interested

Microsoft has taken a slightly different tack when it comes to autonomous vehicles. Instead of developing an end-to-end system like Google, Microsoft has decided to provide an open-source platform to auto makers eager to get first-mover perks in the autonomous car market. In the future, taking out a loan for a BMW, Nissan, or getting a car title loan for Toyota might also mean being able to use Microsoft’s open-source autonomous software since Microsoft has partnered with all three auto firms.


Amazon and Autonomous Transportation

Reducing transportation costs has always been a key concern at Amazon. The aim is to get products out to customers as soon as possible and to automate as much of the supply chain as possible. After all, automation of any kind cuts down on costs long term.


Still in the embryonic stages, Amazon did outline a self-driving food-delivery service in partnership with Toyota. There are reports from the Wall Street Journal and others that Amazon is highly focused on driverless delivery for its millions of products. Amazon already has a team dedicated to making deliveries more convenient for customers and less labor intensive for Amazon.


To this point, Apple is taking the early lead in its quest to corner the autonomous car market. While a few tech companies like Cisco have teamed up with automakers like Hyundai, Apple seems to be the only huge Silicon Valley firm with its own vehicle, proprietary software, and end-to-end system.


5 Great Ingredients that will Enhance Your Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Even though only one percent of Americans need to avoid gluten for medical reasons, the gluten-free diet has become a popular lifestyle choice. In a 2015 Gallup poll, one in five Americans are avoiding gluten. Although it’s gaining in popularity, this lifestyle switch can be a challenge. It may seem like you‘re required to give up all your favorite foods, and gluten is everywhere, so you always have to be careful about what you choose on the menu. However, if you learn how to use some key gluten-free ingredients, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods.



Cauliflower is not only a healthy vegetable, but it’s very versatile. If you’ve been exploring wheat-alternative recipes, you’re likely to discover cauliflower crust pizza, which most people claim tastes almost exactly like regular pizza. The same dough can also be used to make flatbread or taco shells.


Cauliflower is also great if you want to cut down on calories and starch. Many people like mashed cauliflower as much as potatoes, and there are various ways to shred cauliflower and cook it similar to hash browns or rice. Search online for cauliflower recipes and you’ll discover numerous ways to create healthier versions of your favorite dishes.



Rice in all its varieties is a staple on the gluten-free diet. Every type of cuisine on Earth has terrific rice dishes. If you’re not a fan of Asian food, you can always have Italian dishes with risotto rice or American dishes from Louisiana such as Chicken gumbo or Creole rice and beans. Also, let’s not forget about rice flour, which is an effective substitute for wheat flour in noodles, crackers and other starchy dishes.



Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed often used to create gluten-free flour. It’s a very popular ingredient among people who are health-conscious, not only because it’s gluten-free, but also because it’s one of the few sources of protein that provide all the essential amino acids. Quinoa is also high in fiber, is usually grown organically, and is high in a variety of other nutrients, which is why it has been labeled as a “superfood” among health food enthusiasts.



One of the challenges of cooking gluten free is making sauces and gravies without using wheat flour as a thickening agent. Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is derived from the root of the cassava plant and it’s very starchy, so it’s good for thickening sauces.


Almond flour

As you may guess, almond flour is made from ground almonds. It’s also gluten free and is usually available in local stores. Almond flour has several health benefits that are lacking in wheat flour. It’s a source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s high in protein, low in saturated fat, and it works particularly well in gluten-free waffle or pancake recipes.



Soy sauce is a common ingredient in Asian food, but the typical Chinese variety contains wheat, so it’s not used in gluten-free dishes. If you still want that umami flavor in your Asian dishes, you can use tamari as an alternative. This Japanese variety of soy sauce has a dark color and rich flavor. However, not all brands are wheat-free, so you should still check the label before purchasing.


Final thoughts

No matter what path you choose for healthier living, you’ll get better results if you learn how to cook. Don’t rely on pre-made foods for every meal, because they often contain refined ingredients and sugar, which makes them less healthy than the high-gluten foods they’re replacing. Try incorporating the five ingredients mentioned here, but don’t stop there. Keep exploring new ingredients and recipes, and your life without gluten will be better than it ever was before.

5 Vegan Desserts to Impress Your Guests

Having friends from dinner? You no longer need to sacrifice your love for vegan food in order to please non-vegans. Who knew that the vegan friend would end up being the Queen or King of the Kitchen?

We All Scream for Ice Cream: New Ice Cream Trends.

Fascinate your friends with two scoops of this jet black indulgence that tastes delicious and is a blast to eat. Charcoal eating is becoming as popular as eating gold dust and other minerals that are found naturally in the environment. Eaten in moderate amounts and combined with foods, these minerals pose no issue to our health. All you need to do is add powdered charcoal (available at any epicurean store) to your regular vegan ice cream recipe. That is all! Now you can make your own delicious black ice cream and sprinkle with edible glitter to make a decadent and decorative dessert worthy of the royals. Try it today and get really creative.

The Best Part of the Pie: “Just Baked” Apples

If you are into apple pie but not into the calories of the crust, or the fat involved in making a pie, just aim toward the middle and eat nothing but the best part: the inside!

This amazing recipe calls for just 5 or 6 apples, preferably green, peeled and cubed. Use coconut oil as the cooking agent, Grand Marnier, slivered almonds, sugar, and cinnamon. If you want to add a really nice kick, add half a cup of Cointreau, or any orange liqueur.

Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and place the apple chunks on a baking dish moistened with the coconut oil. Drizzle a small amount of coconut oil (or spray it using a spritzer) over the apples until well-coated. Another option is to mix the liqueur, sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil in a bag with the apple chunks. Then, toss the chunks on the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Feel Like a Kid Again: Fruity Roll Ups

This is a take on jelly candy but much more fun to eat. All you need is real frozen fruits and some orange zest. Get a small bag of frozen raspberries and frozen peaches. Let the fruit thaw to release excess wetness.

Once the fruit is thawed and dry, puree them adding the orange zest until it the texture is smooth and soft. The way to make the leather-like chew is by spreading the pureed fruit evenly on a large baking tray using a silicon pad, or Silpat.

It takes about 5 hours for the fruit to dry at 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut into pieces and serve to you friends as their favorite rollup candies! Check out the official Food Network recipe.

Do You Sorbet? Creamy Raspberry (Or Cherry) Mango Sorbet

Peel, and cut the “meat” of very ripe mangoes until you can make at least 3 cups worth. Do the same with cherries, or if you prefer raspberries, then get 1 cup of the fresh and organic kind. For the ice-cream finish, use one cup of full-fat coconut or almond milk. Use 1 cup of organic sugar, a pinch of salt, and one teaspoon of lime juice.

Blend all the ingredients using a regular blender or a hand blender. Transfer the smooth mix to your frozen bowl of choice. Cover it up and leave it to freeze and chill overnight. What you will get is an unbelievably clean finish, a fresh taste, and a soft and smooth texture that is as delicious as ice cream and yet as light as sorbet.

Indulgently Humane: PETA’s Two-Ingredient Cookies

Get ready for a party of flavors. Get 2 very ripe medium-sized bananas and 1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats. Include ¼ cup of dark chocolate chips, nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and other spices. The sky is the limit!

Mash the bananas until smooth, add the rolled oats, and incorporate fully. Add your other toppings and make the mix very even.

Now, all you have to do is preheat your oven at 350F and set a baking sheet with parchment paper to remove all moisture from the cookies. Just add spoonfuls of the batter on the baking sheet, and bake for 13-15 minutes. Let them cool (although you will not want to wait) and then serve them. Be careful, as you may not stop eating!

Important Functions Your Growing Business Needs

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, as the name would suggest, is designed to support the growth of the business while allowing for the maintenance and nurturing of existing client or customer relationships.

Despite it’s straightforward origins, CRM software has evolved from a simple record-keeping, contact management tool into a powerful platform that lets companies organize marketing efforts, manage sales, extract valuable data, and keep employees informed and connected.

CRM software can streamline customer acquisition and contact but it can also devolve into a confusing and unruly monster if companies try to get every bit of value in the form of features out of the software. Although any business can benefit from CRM software, not every feature or function is a perfect fit.

Here are the most important functions CRM’s offer to grow a business.


Simple Integration and Ease of Use

Having to train users, maintain documentation, and navigate unnecessary system barriers can make any software solution inefficient and costly to maintain. Flexibility, ease of use, simple integration, and adaptive components are the hallmarks of any successful software – not just a CRM. Businesses want sales and support professionals to be free to concentrate on service and sales as opposed to learning complicated software. Customer data should also be readily accessible so that representatives appear informed and efficient. Good impressions are invaluable when building a brand.


A good CRM should also allow third-party integration and be easy to use. CRM software typically works with a variety of third-party solutions so that data meets the needs of all the parts of a business. Having to manually export or import data can be time-consuming and also open it up to error or omissions. A good CRM needs to be compatible with a variety of apps and software.


Integrated Analytics

Knowing how long leads have been in the pipeline or what marketing campaigns are the most effective enables businesses to target their marketing efforts, reduce ineffective expenditures, and proactively manage customers and leads regardless of where they are in the sales process. Analytics not only inform marketing efforts, but they also allow for strategic insight into performance.


List, Campaign, and Data Management

Most CRM software platforms will support any and all marketing tools and plugins. Whether managing lists for drip email marketing campaigns or customer data for outbound sales calls, a CRM should offer integration, ease of access and the ability to filter and sort data as needed. This is all essential for sales and growth.


Mobile and Remote Access

Today’s workforce is on the go and CRM software needs to be readily accessible from a variety of devices. Whether a team uses mobile devices to access (or enter) CRM data, or they are a distributed team outside of a traditional office, mobility and remote access become a necessity for any software, not just CRM.



Considering CRM software will house the core customer, vendor and marketing data, it’s imperative that all that data be locked down. In order to prevent data breaches, cyber attacks, and critical loss of data, CRM software should be secure, redundant and accessible in the event of an outage or attack. Compromised data can be devastating for companies both large and small.



While CRM’s offer a wide range of features and functionality, none may be as important as the ability for companies to customize CRM solutions for their specific needs. A flexible, modifiable product is an invaluable tool in today’s ever-changing, fast-moving sales environments.


Selecting the best CRM software features and functionality should be no more difficult than selecting any other software. The core features often provide the greatest value while simultaneously providing the best chance of acquiring customers and growing a business. As sales and relationship building are the lifeblood of any business, a CRM with strong functionality and support will propel that business forward.

What to look for in a great software engineer for your company.

In any company, building the best team is one of the best ways of being successful. Software engineering is a career that is in very high demand nowadays. Big companies are looking 

for qualified software engineers every day. All software engineers are not the same w

ay; some will be more talented than others thus helping your organization grow. The problem with people who recruit software engineers is that they are not technical. They have no idea the traits a good engineer should have. If you are looking for software engineers, here are some of the things you need to look for:

The engineer needs to be passionate.

To practice programming, you have to love it and be interested. For you to be successful in any field in life, you have to be passionate about what you do. Soldiers go to war and emerge victoriously, teams win matches due to passion. The same applies to the field of software engineering. Get to know how passionate someone is before you decide to employ them. A passionate engineer will push your organization a very long distance.

The engineer should be open-minded.

A good software engineer is one who is ready to change his or her opinion upon discovering new from the colleagues or friends. Nobody in this world is omniscient, and everyone has a right to share their views. Therefore, if you are looking for an engineer, make sure you get someone who is open-minded. You cannot form a prominent organization alone; people have to work together as a team with a bid of generating money for the company. A good engineer is one who is diverse and is willing

to learn other branches of I.T like web development and networking.

The level of determination should be high

Developing and monitoring software is not an easy job. Coming up with an algorithm, or a database may take quite some time. In other instances, software develops a complicated bug that is difficult to find and remove. A competent engineer needs to be determined enough to deal with these tasks efficiently. When you are hiring a software engineer, you have to test the person’s determination first. The kind of software engineer you should recruit will try to finish a job no matter how involving it is.

The software engineer has to be a team player.

When it comes to the software industry, one-man shows are impossible. Most professionals work as a team. Before you hire an engineer, you can test him or her by adding them to a group of other engineers. A good team player is one who tries to blend and learn from the teammates. In coding, teamwork is vital.

Confidence is necessary.

To succeed in the software industry, you have to be confident in what you do and say. When hiring, you are looking for someone who is confident while working and expressing themselves. As a software engineer, the moment you display confidence in your work, your boss, and your clients also get confidence in you and whatever you are dev


An engineer should know clients and business in general.

As a software engineer, you develop a product mainly for the final user. It is the job of an engineer to understand all the nee

ds of the users and give them exactly what they need. You want your business to make money, and the only way that is possible is by providing clients what they want. The software engineer you select to work for your company should be able to do research and find out what kind of clients you deal with and how to impress them.


The traits discussed above define an excellent software engineer. For your company to be the best in the market, you need to have the best workforce. Therefore, do not settle for less, get the best.

Fashion: A Way of Life

Fashion is an odd entity. It’s written off as frivolous by people who aren’t interested in it, yet it completely defines countries and historical eras. When you cast your mind back to another period in time, one of the first things you envision is the clothes that the people wore back then. It shouldn’t be hard to believe that many people who enjoy fashion come to view it as a legitimate hobby. Here are some reasons why I consider myself to be one of these people.


A Walking Work of Art

Fashion is more than mere clothing. At its height, fashion is the culmination of months of design drafts, fabric testing and sewed samples. There are true artists behind every trend and piece of clothing you see on the street. You can even take the art philosophy in another direction by using clothing to express something about yourself. Choosing the day’s outfit doesn’t have to be a purely utilitarian effort. You can pick the pieces that embody how you feel in the moment or project how you wish you could feel.


Subculture Membership

Every subculture has its own identifiable way of dressing. An obvious example is the San Francisco hippies of the late 1960s. There’s no mistaking their baggy garments, long hair and love beads. Punks are another good example. They expressed their disillusionment by looking bad on purpose. Of course, many of them looked good anyway, and many punk-era folk have gone on to become true fashion powerhouses. Vivienne Westwood got her start as a punk in torn jeans and is now the woman behind the showstopping wedding gown in the first Sex and the City film. Fashion is always looking for the next edgy thing, and punk is a constant well of inspiration.


Music Fandom

One would think that television and film, as visual media, would inspire the most fashion trends, but music arguably has them both beat. Television characters exist in manufactured settings, while musicians go about their real lives in their wild outfits. It helps that these musicians do not have to worry about dressing appropriately for school or a conventional job, but this doesn’t stop people from emulating them. The most showman-like musicians show us just how important fashion can be. When you look at a famous rock star’s outfit, you can tell a whole lot about him and his music before you’ve listened to any of his songs. It makes sense that people who relate to the music would want to make those exact same statements with their clothes. That way, other people will know something about them just by looking at them.


Minimalism as a Statement

There is value in minimalism as well. When curated properly, a minimalist wardrobe makes its own deliberate statement. Minimalism doesn’t mean that the wearer dislikes fashion. On the contrary, some of the most fashionable people in the world are minimalists. There’s something very chic about someone who can wear simple, monochromatic clothing and still look impossibly chic. Fashion editors and supermodels have been known to dress this way. Minimalist fashion is all about the charisma of the person wearing it. Not everyone can pull off this look; it is very advanced work in fashion terms. You have to be able to carry and present yourself in an elegant, gently aloof way in order to make minimalism work as a fashion statement. Otherwise, it will just look like you’re wearing plain clothing. Minimalism provides a way for people with subdued tastes to be fashionable. You don’t have to opt for eye-catching colors and over the top designs to be trendy. Minimalism gives you that choice.


These are just a few reasons why the world of fashion is about so much more than putting on clothes in the morning. When you begin to explore fashion as a hobby or even a potential career, you will start to view it is just one component of your overall lifestyle. Sometimes you reach for you comfy LuLaRoe, and other times you reach for your Marc Jacobs!