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Blue Apron: Five reasons you should cook with your family every day

Eating with your family and your kids is more important than you perhaps think. Taking them for granted is a trap we can all fall into and while we can’t necessarily eat with our kids or parents every day, trying to do it perhaps more often than we already do is something we can all strive for, whatever your age. Here are five reasons to try:

1. Cooking with the kids is fun

Life happens in the kitchen, they say. And so it should – making dinner with the family is brilliant. It’s about the best place in the house for an active family activity, apart from a game of Twister in the living room, of course. And the results from the kitchen are less likely to twinge your back muscles and more likely to be tasty and satisfying.

Sure, the kids enjoy eating your cooking, but getting them involved in helping to make it is a great way for them to value it even more. Whereas taking them to the store to help you pick ingredients may be less interesting.

This is where Blue Apron comes in, because it will deliver the exact ingredients you need for the dish you’re making, with no waste – everything is precisely measured for you. That also means there’s no anxiety that you, or Junior, has put too much or too little of anything into the mix. And if there are items like chilli or garlic in the meal, you can be grateful for that.

2. With the best ingredients and recipes, the results are great

There are more benefits to not schlepping round the supermarket with the kids in tow. Of course, there’s the time saved because Blue Apron delivers right to your door. But additionally, Blue Apron prides itself on very high-quality ingredients. These are sourced direct from the producers, so they don’t have to withstand the time and multiple journeys via wholesalers to regional warehouses on their way to the grocery stores.

With Blue Apron, everything comes direct from the producers to Blue Apron and then straight to your door, eliminating the extra costs that those middlemen include. This means they can provide the best quality ingredients at stronger value than the grocery store would offer.

That means BN Ranch grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, for instance. All the meat is chosen to be free of added hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. The seafood is sustainable (as recommended by Seafood Watch) and Blue Apron requires its suppliers to certify that their products and their ingredients are all free from GMOs. The company is looking to build on this by developing non-GMO alternatives for animal feed, too.

3. Recipe cards mean the whole family can understand

What’s more, all the ingredients – literally everything apart from salt, pepper and olive oil – are carefully delivered with detailed recipe cards full of clear step-by-step instructions so preparing dinner is easy and enjoyable.

Everything is delivered in refrigerated containers with ice packs and insulated liners to make sure it arrives fresh and stays fresh even if you’re out. And the Blue Apron Freshness Guarantee means you can be confident it’s been picked to stay fresh – though a good tip is to cook the fish and seafood in the first meal for maximum freshness. 

4. The more variety in the cooking, the more they’ll learn

Your kids are never going to get bored by cooking the same stuff over and over: Blue Apron has a policy that it never repeats the same recipes in a year. You – or your littl’uns – can give feedback through the Rate My Recipes tool and only the best-loved recipes will be repeated after a year.

Anyway, the recipes you receive are kid-friendly and designed to be served family-style, which makes things more fun when you’re eating as well as cooking. 

5. The meals – and great cookery experiences – keep coming

Each recipe serves four and you can pick from a two-recipe a week plan or four recipes. Note that if you’re not a family household, you can instead pick a two-person plan with three recipes a week delivered.

Finally, the recipes are tremendous. Don’t check the Blue Apron website if you’re hungry unless you’re prepared to see tempting things on offer. Like seared steak and fingerling potatoes or Cajun-spiced chicken or spinach and ricotta cannelloni. It all looks mouth-watering.

Each serving costs from $8.74 to $9.99 and delivery is free, and what’s more, Blue Apron are offering $30 off on your first order. 


It takes a smart city to make cars truly autonomous

Artificial intelligence is driving the autonomous car. Coupled with robust computers, automobiles of the future will be more powerful than any other device we own. But they’ll only be as powerful as their surrounding allows. If your vehicle doesn’t know about a traffic jam along its route, like its human counterparts, it’ll get stuck in gridlock. That’s where connectivity comes in. When self-driving cars hit the road, they’ll not only be computing juggernauts but also sharing data with everything all the time.

One of the places where a connected infrastructure is already being built is Nevada. More accurately, Las Vegas. The city known for gambling has to deal with 42 million tourists and the traffic they bring with them every year. Controlling all of that is the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The agency oversees all the city and surrounding area’s transit infrastructure and has been proactive in its embrace of vehicle communication, including working with Audi on its traffic-light countdown system that displays the time before a light turns green on the dash of the car.

Helping to navigate Nevada’s foray into vehicle-to-infrastructure communications is the Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility, which facilitates partnerships between the state and private and academic entities. Innovation Director Dan Langford told Engadget that the goal is to create a safer, smoother transportation and pedestrian experience for residents, visitors and businesses working within the state.

But the state is doing more than just looking at ways to make traffic flow smoothly and helping folks get to their destination; it’s actively implementing solutions. Agencies that traditionally deal with slow-moving transportation projects and bureaucracy are acting quickly as new sensors, applications and data become available. “The level of risk and innovation that some of the agencies are open to has increased,” Langford said.

An example of that is the recent partnership between the state and Nexar, which builds systems for automobiles to communicate with one another. Co-founder and CTO Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz likened it to air traffic control but for the ground to increase not only the capacity of the roads but also their safety.

It’s helping Nevada track vehicles and what they see while the state focuses on the infrastructure. Approximately 18 months ago the Center for Advanced Mobility pivoted from working on autonomous vehicles to focusing on the actual infrastructure that self-driving cars will need to get around while automakers figure out the in-car solution. The fragmentation in the automotive world will continue until there’s a government mandate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the industry sits down and figures out a standard. The state can’t control that aspect of the transportation. What it can do is make sure the roads are ready. Nexar and Nevada realize that if the state is to stay ahead of the curve, it needs to start working on how roads will interact with these cars now instead of waiting.

But Nevada isn’t the only state looking at the future of infrastructure. On a 35-mile stretch of US 33 in Ohio, the state in partnership with Honda, the Transportation Research Center at East Liberty and the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research will build a “smart road” by laying down highway sensors, expanding fiber optic networks and outfitting government and research vehicles with data-collecting hardware. When it’s complete the information collected can be instantaneously shared with researchers. That data will be used to understand how traffic flows in all sorts of conditions and can help in the testing of autonomous vehicles outfitted with vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.

The state won’t stop with US 33: It plans to make other smart roads. The information gathered from this pilot program will likely be watched closely by other states as more and more of our cars become rolling data centers eager to consume and share data.

Meanwhile automakers like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and GM have been outfitting their vehicles with V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) technology. It’s early days, but the benefits are already showing up in the high-end models like the upcoming Mercedes S-Class with its ability to change speeds based on road conditions.

The transportation infrastructure of tomorrow is only available in a few places, with only high-end vehicles able to access and share data. But the work is happening both at the car and street level. Even if you don’t own a car, the work will benefit public transportation and the shipping of goods.

Like self-driving cars, it’ll be years (possibly decades) before cars and roads are sharing data on a nationwide level. But those robot cars need this network if they’re going to fundamentally transform how we get around.


Facebook’s Safety Check now includes status updates and fundraisers

Facebook’s Safety Check is a useful feature, but its implementation has experienced some bumps along the way. Now, the company hope to smooth out some of those rough edges with new features it announced today.

The most practical feature is the ability to add more personal context to Safety Check. Previously, users could only declare themselves safe in Facebook. Now they can add further comments to that status, explaining their current situation and what is happening around them. Additionally, Facebook is partnering with NC4, a global crisis reporting agency, to provide more context on the crises themselves. It’s a quick way for someone logging into Facebook to inform themselves on what’s going on before declaring they are safe.

Facebook is also incorporating their fundraising features into Safety Check. Now, within the Safety Check platform on Facebook, people can easily create or donate to a fundraiser supporting that specific cause. It should be noted, though, that Facebook takes a 5 percent cut of any funds donated through the social network.

Finally, Facebook is expanding its Community Help feature to the desktop platform; previously, this feature was only available on iOS and Android. It allows people within a crisis zone to give help if they can or find help if they need it. Safety Check is a useful feature, given our always-connected lifestyles, and it’s nice to see that Facebook is noticing how people are using the feature and adapting it as a result.

Source: Facebook


‘The Darwin Project’ is a ‘Hunger Games’–style battle arena

The Darwin Project came out of nowhere and snapped up the spotlight at Microsoft’s E3 press conference. It’s the first game from the 12-person development house Scavengers Studio, and it combines the best aspects of games like Don’t Starve and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in a Hunger Games–style battle arena. Imagine Katniss Everdeen running around Pochinki Hill, chopping down trees like Wilson the Gentleman Scientist.

The Darwin Project pits players against each other in a contained battlefield, starting on opposite ends of the map, with a bow and an ax — no other weapons, ammo, shelter, heat or other essential survival resources. The game operates in extremes; the debut map is a frozen tundra with rolling hills of snow, frozen lakes and abandoned shacks littered around dense woods.

In this lethal winter wonderland, the first thing players need is wood to start a fire, lest they freeze to death before the real — and most dangerous — game even begins. Players gather resources by chopping down trees, unlocking crates, and looting tents and abandoned shacks. Then the crafting begins. Create traps, arrows and other gadgets; light a fire so you don’t die, but be careful, because the enemy can see its flame. Plot your attack and start tracking your prey.

Finding objects that another player has recently messed with reveals clues about their whereabouts, and a beacon of light signaling the location of a special upgrade serves as tasty, neutral bait. As the game progresses, the map shrinks, forcing players into battle.

The Scavengers crew has been working on The Darwin Project for only about nine months, but the first map already feels polished, and the mechanics make sense. Online multiplayer arena games are all the rage, and it looks like The Darwin Project will be a welcome addition to the genre when it hits Xbox One and PC in early 2018.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!


Humble Bundle sweetens its subscription with games that don’t expire

Humble Bundle’s monthly subscription is fine if you enjoy getting a surprise mix of big-name and indie games. But what if you’d like access to a more reliable catalog, too? You’re set as of this week. The $12 per month service now includes access to the Humble Trove, an always-accessible collection of copy protection-free games. The library includes the full selection of Humble Originals as well as a range of recognizable indies like Trine and Kimmy.

The Trove probably won’t sway you all by itself — many of these games are the sort you frequently find in sales. They still add value to the subscription, though, and the absence of copy protection means that your games should work long after you stop playing. Think of this as a bonus for signing up — you’ll have plenty to play even if your membership is short-lived.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!

Via: Gamasutra

Source: Humble Trove


‘Minecraft’ looks like a completely different game in 4K

The best demonstration of the Xbox One X’s 4K capabilities comes from an unlikely, blocky source: Minecraft. Behind closed doors at E3 2017, Microsoft showed off a handful of games it upgraded to 4K just for the Xbox One X, including Gears of War 4, but Mojang’s cube-based crafting game clearly gets the most drastic upgrade. When the Super Duper Graphics Pack lands in the fall (for free), those blobs of grass will transform into blades. See for yourself:

Minecraft is getting a lot of love from Microsoft this year. The Better Together update lands in August and it’s huge — crucially, it moves the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions of Minecraft to the Bedrock Engine, which already powers the mobile, Windows 10, Amazon Fire and VR versions of the game. This means Minecraft will finally be the same experience across all of these devices, receiving the same updates and DLC, and enabling cross-platform play.

The Better Together update won’t apply to the PlayStation 4 — or PS4 Pro — version of Minecraft right away.

“It’s not for lack of wanting to or effort on our part,” senior global communications manager Aubrey Norris told Engadget. “We are in discussions with our partners right now. We want PlayStation and we invite Sony to bring PlayStation players onto Bedrock.”


And then there’s the Super Duper Graphics pack. Anyone with an Xbox One X or 4K-capable PC will have the option to play an updated version of Minecraft, complete with raised rails on tracks, highlights on the edges of blocks, rippling water, atmospheric scattering and specular highlights.

This is all on top of the year’s existing updates, including the Community Marketplace that landed in June, giving players the power to sell and buy their own worlds, texture packs and skins.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!


‘Shadow of the Colossus’ was rebuilt from the ground up for PS4

When Sony unveiled a remake Shadow of the Colossus for the PS4, it raised one big question: is it just a glorified remaster, or a true revamp? Thankfully, it’s more than just a quick-and-dirty upgrade. Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida tells Famitsu that every asset has been remade — about the only thing left is the core gameplay. There will be an option for a modernized control scheme, but that’s about as far as the functional changes go.

The asset re-do isn’t completely surprising. The developer, Bluepoint, had already produced a more straightforward remaster for the PS3. Also, there’s the simple matter of age: a 2005-era PS2 game just isn’t going to look great on your 4K TV without an overhaul. While it’s easy to feel burned out by wave after wave of game remasters, this is fresh enough that it could be worth a look even if you can still play an original copy.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!

Via: Siliconera, Polygon

Source: Famitsu


Facebook made a bot that can lie for better bargains

Chatbots can help you order pizza, accept payments and be super racist, but their usefulness has been pretty limited. However, Facebook announced today that it has created a much more capable bot by giving it the ability to negotiate, strategize, and plan ahead in a conversation.

Getting computers to understand conversation at a human level has been a pretty unsuccessful venture thus far. It requires not only a large amount of knowledge but rapid and accurate adaptability as well. But researchers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) have developed a new technique that lets bots successfully navigate a very human type of dialogue — negotiations.

To do this, FAIR researchers sourced actual negotiation conversations between two people. They were presented with a set of objects — like books, balls and hats — and each person was given different sets of values for each of those items. Next, the individuals negotiated how to divide the objects between them. A recurrent neural network was then trained to negotiate by teaching it to imitate the actions of real people involved in negotiation.

FAIR researchers then went a step further. Rather than just programming imitation, they also had the system learn how to achieve negotiation goals, reinforcing good outcomes when they happened. The bots were also tested on real people, most of whom, according to Facebook, didn’t realize they were talking to a bot, which speaks to the level of conversation they could hold.

To gain that sort of language command, researchers used what they’re calling “dialogue rollouts” to allow for long-term dialogue planning. Essentially, the bot thinks through a potential conversation, simulating how it will go all the way to the end. This lets the bot avoid confusing, frustrating or uninformative exchanges and instead engage in conversations that will help achieve its negotiation goals.

These dialogue rollouts led to bots that negotiated harder and proposed the final deal more often than their counterparts. The bots were also able to produce novel sentences rather than just relying on sentences encountered through training data. And remarkably, the bots engaged in some sly strategizing. There were instances when the bot feigned interest in an item that had no value to them and then pretended to compromise later by conceding it in exchange for something it actually wanted. In a statement, Facebook said, “This behavior was not programmed by the researchers but was discovered by the bot as a method for trying to achieve its goals.”

This is a pretty major step in bot development and AI research. And Facebook says it’s progress in the development of a personalized digital assistant. The company is publishing their research on this work as well as releasing open-sourced code today.


Essential’s exclusivity deal with Sprint might not be so bad

Few Android phones have generated the enthusiasm that Essential’s PH-1 has. If you haven’t been keeping up, it’s a very pretty, surprisingly clever premium smartphone cooked up by Andy Rubin, one of the men responsible for unleashing Android upon the world.

On the flip side, few US wireless carriers have fared as poorly as Sprint. In terms of subscribers, it’s in last place out of the Big 4. So, it was a surprise for these two companies come together to cook up an exclusivity deal of sorts: Sprint gets to be the exclusive US carrier for the PH-1, leaving Essential to sell unlocked models to everyone else.

This seemed, in a word, dumb. In an interview with USA Today, Essential President Niccolo de Masi said the company took the leap with Sprint because it likes to “bet where the market is going as opposed to where the market was.” He went on to add that Sprint is the “network of the future,” which is probably the nicest thing anyone under contractual obligation has ever said about the carrier. At this point, it’s a little difficult to imagine the pendulum of fortune swinging back in Sprint’s direction, but that doesn’t matter. The thing to remember is that while this isn’t a perfect deal, it’s still a deal. That’s more than most of Essential’s premium, unlocked competition have. Even better, Essential gets to have its cake and eat it too.

Remember: The PH-1 looks a lot like a love letter to Android’s power users. (I affectionately refer to them as the OnePlus crowd.) They like insane performance, thoughtful design and straight talk; they abhor compromise. OnePlus is a great example of a company that has been chasing this flagship dream for years and done well. Essential is ready to compete in this very specific market. For all the people who prefer to skip middlemen and get their devices straight from the source, Essential has you covered. Just buy it unlocked, pop a SIM in there, and have a great time.



The deal with Sprint just opens extra doors. If nothing else, Essential gets access to marketing money that it may have been unwilling to shell out itself. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Sprint is actually trying really hard to get back into people’s good graces. I’m not talking about those obnoxious “post-Verizon glasses guy” ads either (though some people seem inordinately fond of them).

Look at their most recent ploy: Customers who are willing to switch from their current carriers basically get an extended, one-year trial run of Sprint service for basically nothing. (You pay for a SIM and cover a small administrative fee each month.) Sprint has admitted that this won’t actually make it much money — instead, it’s a pretty naked grab for subscribers that could help liven up its next earnings release. It’s a clear sign that Sprint will do what it has to to stay in the fight. If it thinks it has a handle on the next big thing — which it might — we may see Essential ads on TV. Your Top-40-FM binge may break into a polished, 30-second Essential spot. Most important, you may be able to walk into a store and see what an Essential phone is like, and talk to a staff that’s been trained on it. By settling on a deal, Essential gets a whole new front in its war for success.

That Essential couldn’t close this kind of deal with a bigger carrier like Verizon or AT&T is telling. There’s very little detail available on Essential’s approach to software. We know that PH-1 will run Android, and that Essential founder Rubin was trying very hard to keep carrier apps off the device at launch. I suspect that was a big sticking point for other carriers. Whether you like Sprint or not, it isn’t nearly as bad as its rivals.

I mean, have you seen all the crap that comes on a Verizon phone? This junk software falls into two major categories: apps that have been pre-installed because of some lucrative partnership, or shortcuts that point to app listings in the Play Store (presumably because those companies didn’t want to pay as much). Verizon cut a deal with Google to sell its high-end Pixels to its customers, but come on — it was Google. Of course Verizon was going to figure something out. Essential obviously doesn’t have that kind of clout or leverage (yet).

AT&T is no saint in all this either. It generally adds less trash in favor of cross-promotional DirecTV nonsense that’s difficult for normal users to get rid of. And let’s not forget how many times AT&T has been burned by taking a chance on an exclusive phone deal over the years. Let’s see: there was the big stuff, like Amazon’s Fire Phone, Facebook and HTC’s First, the Padfone X … the list goes on. AT&T gets points for gumption, but the last time it really got an exclusivity deal right was with the iPhone 10 years ago.

If Sprint pledged some marketing muscle and promised not to screw about with Essential software, it’s hard to see how Essential could’ve refused. Andy Rubin’s new brainchild has little to lose and everything to gain from this tie-up. As for Sprint, it’s been batted around by the market for awhile, anyway — if it could survive that, it’ll survive a potentially misguided exclusivity play. Like I said, this isn’t a perfect deal, but a having a deal at all is better than nothing.


AirPods In Stock Today at Best Buy With Free 2-Day Shipping

Apple’s AirPods are in stock today on Best Buy’s website, with a free 2-day shipping option placing the wireless headphones to arrive later this week for customers in the United States. Faster one-day alternatives are available for around $20.

Users who purchase on Best Buy’s website will also get free in-store setup and advice from Geek Squad.

AirPods have had a six-week shipping estimate on since the launch last December, and Apple has yet to give any indication when the headphones might be available sooner for customers.

Disclaimer: is an affiliate partner with Best Buy and may get paid if you click one of the above links and make a purchase.

Tag: AirPods
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