Google and Uber to Become Ride-sharing Rivals?

It appears that Uber may have some stiff competition in the near future, as word has spread of a competitor app that would use self-driving cars.

You might say that Uber, an app-based transportation network based in San Francisco, has enemies on all sides. Following bad press generated by numerous articles describing shady business tactics and the mistreatment of employees, Uber has begun to face stiff competition—competition which now includes the technology giant Google, whom used to be a faithful investor in Uber.

Apparently, Google is preparing to roll out its own ride-hailing service. Given the money Google has pumped into research and development of their self-driving cars, it is easy to assume that the service offered by the app would be driven (bad pun intended) by self-driving vehicles. All of this comes from an unnamed source, which has allegedly seen screenshots of the app that is said to currently be in use by Google employees.

To make matters worse, if Uber lost Google as a business partner (and investing in competing ride-sharing apps seems to suggest this may happen), then Uber may be left in the dust when it comes to self-driving car technology. Currently, Uber has access to this technology because of their partnership with Google. However, should that tie be severed, then they would have to get their hands on that technology in some other way—likely through a partnership with another company with the same technology, or investing money in research and development to invent the technology themselves.

Regardless, things aren’t looking good for Uber. If Google isn’t the company to overtake Uber, then another company will rise to the challenge.

What do you think of a potential Google app that could offer rides from self-driving cars? Would you use this app if you could?

A Guide to Appropriately Socializing with Coworkers

Socializing with coworkers

Not all of us work in a Mad Men environment where drinking at work is no big deal. You know, the kind of work environment where you drink due to celebration, failure, boredom or anything in between. Nowadays, in-office imbibing isn’t completely taboo, but drinking with your coworkers, boss, or direct supervisor is still murky territory. Overall, it seems pretty obvious how to handle this situation – don’t drink too much or embarrass yourself. Still, there is more to mastering the art of after-work cocktails with coworkers.

Encourage yourself to socialize. After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go to a work function and talk to coworkers about more work-related things. However, these events are where real lasting bonds are formed. While you are at home eating takeout and watching reality television, your colleagues will be bonding over beers. Once you pass on several of these outings, you fall way behind in forming personal relationships. So suck it up and go get a drink – even if you aren’t in the mood to go out you’ll feel better knowing you took part in a social gathering with colleagues.

Don’t just order your favorite drink. When you order your go-to spicy margarita, chances are you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll suck it down, which could lead to debaucherous decision making later on. Instead, choose a mixed drink that you aren’t completely in love with so you don’t overindulge, and sip rather than gulp. This way, you’ll be able to pace yourself and avoid risking your pristine reputation by having too much fun while out with coworkers.

Resist the urge to gossip. When you drink together, it can form a false sense of camaraderie. After some social lubrication, you may feel like it’s time to really tell everyone what you think about your boss. Or you may lead into the conversation of how incompetent so-and-so is. At the time, it feels intimate and exciting, but the next morning when everyone knows all your loves and hates, you may regret it.

How to Leave Work at the Office

Work Stress

Sometimes, it’s hard to leave for the day and head home without a work worry on your mind. We all think about tomorrow’s calendar and all the things we have to do; we check our work email well after the workday is done. It’s not healthy to feel constantly overloaded, which is due in part to always bringing work home with you. We all need a life outside of work. Below are a few ways to overcome the common habit of not being able to leave work at the office.

“Should I have said that?” It’s a question that eats away at many of us. You made it home to your couch but you’re still second-guessing decisions from the day and can’t get your mind off it. Try washing your hands when you walk in the door. It’s a simple but powerful way to achieve a “clean slate,” and it helps us mentally wipe away doubts.

“How will I get it all done??” This kind of panic-inducing anxiety is something we’ve all felt in the middle of the night. You wake up and feel instantly attacked by all the stress from your seemingly endless tasks. Try to focus on your to-do list; analyze what you have to do in relation to how you will actually do those things. At the end of the day, review the list and write down the steps you’ll take to finish everything by the end of the week.

You check your email 24/7 and never allow your mind to rest. Checking your email incessantly puts your heart rate on constant high alert. Try, if you can, to log out of your office email when you leave work. If that seems impossible try to only check it once every hour and don’t make it the first thing you check when you wake up in the morning. Remember, the first step to leaving work at the office is to actually, physically leave it there when possible.

Up Your 9-to-5 Attire

Living in a 9-to-5 world, or for most of us a 9-to-9, it can be challenging to juggle everything. There are thousands of emails to be answered, commutes to be traveled and meetings to attend. Sometimes you even must endure this without a cup of coffee.

business_attireYour wardrobe can influence how you carry yourself throughout all of this during the day. When you wear outfits that you feel great in versus the ones you are so-so about, you know and those around you likely do too. Getting an extra confidence boost before you walk out of your bedroom is the optimal way to start the day, especially since they are usually longer than you think.

Here a few buys and ideas to help you climb that corporate ladder in style:

  • Try a long-sleeve dress with a nice silhouette. They are easy to throw on and if it has a pattern, it can be an attention grabber.
  • Invest in some brightly colored heels. These are fun to wear and a high-fashion twist on a classic. Just don’t go tacky-bright.
  • Wide leg trousers look great on women and add some curves. Get them in a nice fall hue like mahogany or olive.
  • Step up your jacket game with a floor-length coat. Houndstooth patterns are a good twist on traditional black and are more fashion forward.
  • A colored t-shirt dress paired with a nice pair of loafers or pumps can be a fun but classic outfit for the office. Layer a casual cotton blazer over top for an even more defined look.
  • Adding a colored suit to your repertoire can make a unique statement and will help you to stand out from your peers.
  • Pick up a nice tote for yourself rather than coming into work with the same old laptop bag you’ve had since high school.

Investing in a few of these garments will help you dress for success at work.

TIME Person of the Year: Meet the Top Ten

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus. IMG: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

The shortlist for Person of the Year at TIME Magazine has been released with only a day left before the winner is announced. The prestigious recognition is awarded to one individual who vastly influenced the news–for better or worse. President Barack Obama snagged the title in 2008 and 2012. Obama could very well be on the way to claiming the title a third time (as he is the only name from last year’s list to be on the current list), which would be the second time an individual has been named TIME Person of the Year–Franklin D. Roosevelt is currently the only person to have been named to the magazine’s title three times.

Edie Windsor

Edie Windsor. IMG: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Let’s take a look at the list.

  • Bashar Assad, President of Syria
  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
  • Ted Cruz, Texas Senator
  • Miley Cyrus, Singer
  • Pope Francis, Leader of the Catholic Church
  • Barack Obama, President of the United States
  • Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
  • Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Edward Snowden, N.S.A. Leaker
  • Edith Windsor, Gay rights activist

 

Surprising names on the list? Miley Cyrus and Pope Francis. Miley is perhaps most surprising, but still understandable given her influence in the news due to her performance choices (that’s putting it lightly) this past year at the VMA and chart topping singles like “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball.” ThinkProgress recently posted an article about why Miley should win the title, citing her ability to create incredibly inspired and important conversations about the state of our culture, most of which were extremely complex and revolved around racial insensitivity and “slut-shaming.” In essense, Miley shoved a mirror into the American public’s hand and forced us to take a good, long look at ourselves.

Who do you think should be TIME Person of the Year?

Cell Phones Are Involved in 1 in 4 Crashes

Texting and Driving

IMG: via Shutterstock

When cell phones first came out, no one thought much of the negative impact on driving. I remember using them all the time as a teen, and not thinking twice. While I generally would put it on speaker, there would be times I would hold it up against my ear. In states where it is illegal to use a hand held device, Bluetooth are allowed, proving that it is more the holding of the phone that distracts people than the actual talking.

However, drivers aren’t just holding their phones while talking, they are texting and looking up information. Glancing down at your GPS on your phone is one thing (which is allowed as long as you aren’t operating it will driving), but sending out full text messages is just plain stupid.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC):

  • The NSC model estimates 21 percent of crashes or 1.1 million crashes in 2011 involve talking on a handheld and hands-free cell phones.
  • The model estimates an additional 4 percent or more crashes or a minimum of 213,000 of crashes in 2011 involve text messages.
  • Thus a total of a minimum of 25% of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones.

However, that doesn’t mean that talking on the phone was the reason that all of these people got in a crash, the numbers are an estimate. This is especially in regards to a hands-free cell phone, because chatting hands-free is just as distracting as talking to another person in a car, which of course is not illegal anywhere.

Check out this graph below to see what states are doing to stop crashes caused by cell phones. While making it illegal of course doesn’t stop people from using their phones, it is hopefully cutting it down as more and more people get in accidents.

States Against Texting and Driving

IMG: via The Huffington Post

 

Last Members of San Antonio 4 Freed From Prison

Last members of San Antonio 4 freed from prison

IMG: via Shutterstock

The last three members of the “San Antonio 4” have been released from prison this past Monday nearly 15 years after being convicted of sexual assault. Review of the evidence used to convict the women is now being called “junk science” with extreme homophobia used to explain the behavior of the gay women. Kristie Mayhugh, Elizabeth Ramírez and Cassandra Rivera were all released on bail–Anna Vasquez had been released last year.

The charges brought against the women included accounts of successive assaults against Ramírez’s nieces. The two girls were 7 and 9 at the time of the alleged incidents in 1994 and were instrumental in providing testimony that ultimately served to put the women behind bars.

The testimonies brought to the court by the prosecution were extremely concerning. One witness, a pediatrician named Nancy Kellogg, testified that the girls were likely the subject of a satanic ritual which is known to be widespread among the lesbian community. The injuries sustained by the girls and this “satanic” argument were the main components through which the prosecution formed itself case.

Discrimination

IMG: via Shutterstock

One of the nieces recently recanted her statements, and Kellogg has been denying interviews left and right as the medical community has since reviewed and discredited her findings on the matter, which is now being called total “junk science”.

The next step for the San Antonio 4 will be pursuing exoneration, which will allow the state to fully recognize them as innocent and begin paying the women for being imprisoned and wrongfully charged with the assault crimes. The four women are currently being represented by attorneys associated with the Innocence Project of Texas and the National Center for Reason and Justice who filed petitions on their behalf.

Apple Reportedly Buys 3D Technology Company PrimeSense for $345 Million

Apple LogoAccording to Reuters, Apple has acquired PrimeSense, the company responsible for the Xbox Kinect 3D-sensor technology. The company was acquired for $345 million, according to Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist.

It was first reported in July that Apple was in talks with PrimeSense for an acquisition.

“We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and natural interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interactive living room and mobile devices,” a spokeswoman for PrimeSense said. “We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors.”

This would be the second Israeli company Apple acquired, with the flash storage chip maker Anobit bought in January 2012.

This is a great company for Apple to acquire. Who knows, maybe Apple is working on creating some kind of sensor technology or a touch-screen computer?

Barnes and Nobles Shows Off the Super-Light Nook Simple Touch Glowlight E-Reader

Barnes and Noble New Simpletouch Glowlight E-Reader

Barnes and Noble – Nook Simple Touch Glowlight
IMG: via Mashable

While many people tend to by Kindle E-readers, Barnes and Nobles is creating some equally top-notch e-readers as well. The problem, not a lot of people know about it. On Wednesday, the company unveiled a redesigned Nook GlowLight e-reader. The E-ink e-reader is very light and arrived a couple of weeks after the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader.

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are continuing to make their e-readers better and better with new, innovative ideas. The new GlowLight e-reader has a 6-inch E-ink display with 62% more pixels, which makes the text even clearer. The new e-reader also has a improved LED-based light source. According to a Mashable’s editor and chief, Lance Ulanoff, “Overall, I’d say the GlowLight screen looks quite good; the contrast and lighting is comparable to what you’d find on a [Amazon] Paperwhite.”

The best change? The GlowLight weighs only 6.2 ounces, which is a little over an ounce lighter than the Paperwhite. Storage space for the nook has also gone from 2GB to 4GB.

Both the Barnes and Noble and Amazon products cost $119 (but Amazon’s has just 2GB). The Glowlight will hold about 2,000 books, while the Paperwhite holds about 1,100 books.

While Barnes and Noble has been struggling a bit in the recession, some change up in corporate has helped. The company is still profitable, according to Doug Carlson, Barnes & Noble’s executive vice-president of digital content and marketing. “We’re definitely committed to the device business, and you’ll see us continue to innovate on all platforms over time. There will be more devices.”

Largest Student Loan Provider, Sallie Mae Under Fire

Student Loans

IMG: via Shutterstock

Sallie Mae is the nation’s largest student loan company. On Monday, the company disclosed new federal probes which are going after possible violations of consumer protection laws. This most likely means that Washington is looking into the company more than before.

In their most recent quarterly report, the company explained that that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched an investigation into the ways the company processes borrowers’ payments on student loans. The FDIC told the company it will be publicly accusing the company of violating several federal laws.

Sallie Mae expects that it will pay penalties to the affected customers as well as the government. The Education Department has been accused of not having enough supervision.

The CFPB’s top student loan official, Rohit Chopra, said in an recent report that the agency found several problems in how student loan servicers process borrowers’ monthly payments. He also suggested that while his report focused on the private student loan market (at $165 billion), the same problems will probably affect the borrowers of federal student loans ($1 trillion).

“The department is aware of Sallie Mae’s discussions with federal agencies and will await the outcome of those conversations,” said Stephen Spector, Education Department spokesman.

Ever since Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned the Education Department’s supervision of companies it pays to collect payment on federal student loans, the Education Department has been on close watch.

When John Remondi, Sallie Mae chief executive was asked if the company felt comfortable with it’s practices since the CFPB report, he responded with, “We do, absolutely. I think it’s fair to say that our customers are not experiencing the problems that are hinted at or implied in that report.”

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