|Regulating 3D-Printed Guns Won’t Solve Any Problems Jun 14th 2013, 22:30
New York has unveiled legislation meant to regulate the 3D printing of guns. Here’s why it’s not going to do anything.
This week Brooklyn democrats introduced legislation that would make it illegal for any New Yorker who’s not a registered gunsmith to make a 3D-printed gun.
“If left unregulated, these would be weapons without histories–potentially no identifying marks or sales histories,” City Councilman Lew Fidler told the New York Daily News. “We wouldn’t even know these weapons exist, until they were fired.”
We’ve debated the ethics of 3D-printing guns before, so this isn’t really a new subject, especially for the “maker” community, which has generally addressed the gun-printing issue by distancing itself as much as possible from the hardcore, gun-printing evangelists like DEFCAD. Makerbot, for instance, which makes one of the more popular 3D printers, removed all gun designs listed on its site late last year.
But do we really need to create legislation for this? The idea of lunatics printing AK-47’s in their basement is terrifying, sure, but to my mind it’s pretty divorced from reality.
First, consider that to make a “Liberator” pistol, one of the more popular gun designs, you’d first need to invest between $1,500 and $8,000 in a 3D printer. Then, you’d have to make sure the plastic thing doesn’t fall apart. And lastly, you’d need to figure out a way for the gun to shoot more than one bullet–because the current design only allows for one shot.
Speculative media articles like , which have existed since the 1950s.
Even cops are skeptical that legislation like this could curb any sort of real, menacing threat.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a problem, people making their own guns,” one former detective told The Epoch Times. “Why would you use a cheap gun when you can get a regular one on a black market?”
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|Fix Your Mobile Site–or Face a Google Demotion Jun 14th 2013, 21:58
Long load times, blank screens, and customer headaches are a recipe for demotion in Google’s search rankings, warn two engineers. Here’s how to fix it.
Small business owners, beware: If your site isn’t mobile friendly or creates a headache for smartphone users, Google will punish you.
Yoshikiyo Kato, a software engineer, and Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced Tuesday Google will start demoting websites who don’t fix their problems. Google also made a jab at Adobe Flash, reminding site developers that neither iPhone nor Android–with version 4.1 or higher–host its content. Matt Cutts, head of search spam, said Google is in the process of readying a speed ranking factor for mobile.
Fortunately, Google pointed out two areas where you might be going wrong: faulty redirects–i.e., when a page redirects users to the same mobile site–and mobile-only errors, which are often blank screens.
The hope is to make the mobile web a better place, which is what Google wanted all along.
These days, mobile is where every company wants to be, with users accounting for one-fifth of all web traffic. In fact, a Google-Nielsen study found 73 percent of mobile searches “trigger follow-up actions, whether it be further research, a store visit, a phone call, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing.”
Because 45 percent of all mobile searches are goal-oriented, having an efficient website encourages users to explore, which could result in a sale or registration.
Will you update your mobile site this weekend? Let us know in the comments.
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|The Perks of Being an Intern in Tech Jun 14th 2013, 19:50
Interns at Google receive eye-popping salaries, but some tech start-ups offer much more. Check out some of their awesome perks.
A glittering resume no longer cuts it. If you want a job, or even a graduate degree, you’ve got to put in time as an intern.
Some internships evolve into full-time positions. Others offer little beyond busywork. But in tech land (a.k.a. Silicon Valley and New York City) some start-ups are Wonderlands, where interns can get real responsibilities and cool perks.
We’ve rounded up the best perks out there for interns working in tech today:
Fresh faces–i.e., Nooglers–get a real taste of the Silicon Valley experience, as depicted in the movie The Internship. Software engineers receive a hefty $6,763 salary, plus access to microkitchens, cafes, and gyms. They also work on real production code and get to meet with possible mentors.
Microsoft’s interns have flexible schedules, and like Nooglers, they too have access to gyms and cafes, and solid compensation ($6,004 per month).
Interns working at the question and answer site are basically treated like real engineers. They get to attend panels, design APIs, and work on homepage feeds.
An internship at Twitter offers catered meals (for those in San Francisco), dry cleaning, and weekly in-office yoga and pilates classes. One intern got to meet Russian president Dmitry Medvedev when he was still in office and Kanye West.
Interns enjoy weekly events ranging from bowling to movies, Q&A sessions with 10gen’s CEO, and events with Union Square Ventures’ portfolio companies. Interns also get to meet bigwigs like software engineer Joel Spolsky.
These interns feast on chef-crafted meals, play in media rooms, and go outside for a pickup game of Frisbee. Inside, they have access to a small gym offering yoga classes, a chiropractor, a doctor, and … massages. Evenings feature weekly wine and cheese tastings.
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|50 Shades of Scandal (and How to Deal With It) Jun 14th 2013, 18:58
Chances are someone will uncover the skeleton in your closet–even if it’s tiny and insignificant. Take a page from America’s new No. 2 spy on how to deal.
President Obama broke a barrier at the CIA recently by appointing the first woman, White House lawyer Avril D. Haines, to be the agency’s deputy director. Search for Haines in Google, however, and news of her appointment competes with what Washington really seems to think is most important:
From The Daily Beast:
Two decades ago, when she was in her 20s, Haines occasionally hosted erotica readings at an indie bookstore she owned in Baltimore.
And The Washington Post:
It’s a quirkier resume than you generally find among Beltway super-achievers of her generation, who often went straight from college to Capitol Hill or Wall Street or Harvard Law. Haines, 43, instead had a stint as an urban entrepreneur, running Adrian’s Book Café … [T]here were the times that Adrian’s welcomed patrons for the occasional readings of high-toned erotica …
That’s it; that’s what passes for scandal these days and rises to the top of Google results–reading from books like the bestselling 50 Shades of Grey, in public.
Nobody suggests the news should have any bearing on whether Obama should have picked her for the CIA job, but that doesn’t matter. We live in a world now where gotcha politics, social media, and an Internet that never forgets, combine to mean that just about anything any of us ever does can come back to haunt us. That’s true whether your aspirations are in politics or business.
Undeniably, sexism plays a role in the sexy stories about Haines’s bookish past. Sex and tawdriness sell and lead to clicks, of course. (Exhibit A: the suggested features on the Daily Beast article page include — and I could not make this up–Bea Arthur’s Boobs–and What It Says About Art on Facebook.)
Regardless, I think there are good lessons to be learned–not just for government officials but for anyone who aspires to positions of leadership.
Nearly everyone has something in his or her past that they wish wasn’t there, at least that others can twist into something at least quasi-controversial. So, taking a play from Haines’s book, here’s how to handle it:
1. Think Before Acting.
Back in 1995, Haines clearly wrestled with the question of whether to host these kinds of readings at her bookstore. She wanted to balance what her customers seemed to want with what it meant for her store and her reputation. She said at the time that she had originally “balked” at hosting the readings back in 1995, but relented after thinking it through.
2. Revel in Your Decisions
Haines hasn’t made any public comment on the whole erotica-reading-tempest, but it’s worth noting that once she made the decision to hold the readings back in the 1990s, she embraced the choice. She not only advertised it–she invited a reporter from The Baltimore Sun to interview her and write about them. There’s something disarming when a person takes tempered pride, even as critics snicker and snipe.
3. Grow Thick Skin
Haines is young by Washington standards, and her appointment marks a meteoritic rise. I would never be so naive as to think that jealously doesn’t play a role in what stories make their way into print. The only way to deal with that kind of ankle-biting is to learn not to care.
Besides, it’s lonely at the top. If you really want a friend in Washington, get a dog.
(Like this post? Check out Bill’s weekly email.)
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|The Dalai Lama: Women Are More Compassionate Leaders Jun 14th 2013, 18:19
Whether you think his comments were sexist or not, his Holiness Tenzin Gyatso says the next Dalai Lama could be female. Here’s why he thinks the fairer sex was born to lead.
The Dalai Lama wants women to lead the world so much, he thinks his successor could even be female.
“If the circumstances are such that a female Dalai Lama is more useful, then automatically a female Dalai Lama will come,” he said in a recent press conference held in Australia.
The suggestion, which His Holiness has made previously, followed his reference to the gender debate that is taking Australia by storm. Prime minister Julia Gillard recently accused the Liberal Party of being “grossly sexist and offensive” after she attended a fundraising dinner in which her body parts were listed as dinner items on the menu.
In the Dalai Lama’s mind, a world that is suffering a “moral crisis” of inequality needs those who can truly empathize with a person in need and offer meaningful ways to help.
“In that respect, biologically, females have more potential,” he said. “Females have more sensitivity about others’ well-being. In my own case, my father, very short temper. On a few occasions I also got some beatings. But my mother was so wonderfully compassionate.”
Whether you agree with the statement or not, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso is certainly onto something. As we’ve written before, many character traits traditionally associated with women tend to be very effective at work.
Among them are humility–seeking to serve others and sharing credit–vulnerability–owning up to one’s limitations and asking for help–and (you guessed it), empathy–being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.
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|Would You Give Customer Data to the Government? Jun 14th 2013, 18:04
The nine Internet companies implicated in the PRISM leak aren’t the only companies handing over customer data. Apparently, thousands of companies do this. Would you?
Yesterday, I wrote about the shady role of a few start-ups in the government’s bid to gather more and more intelligence about people and businesses around the globe. It appears I underestimated just how many companies are involved.
Bloomberg’s Michael Riley reports this morning:
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.
It’s unclear what, exactly, “classifed intelligence” means here, or what type of data these companies are providing to the national security agencies. But Riley’s main point is that it’s not just the “Big 9” colluding with the NSA–the government’s reach among private enterprise is far deeper. And it may involve many of the companies average consumers transact with on a daily basis.
Which, of course, brings up some important questions–both ethical and strategic–for business owners. If faced with a decision to work with the NSA, or some subsidiary security agency operating under the NSA’s claws, what would you do?
The lure of access to “classified intelligence” might sway you to comply, or perhaps even a prospect of helping protect the U.S. against threats–and offering information about customers’ online activities might seem harmless at first. But what if you’re “caught”?
Since Google was implicated in last week’s NSA scandal, people began looking for search alternatives. VentureBeat reports that DuckDuckGo, a search engine that says it does not track its users’ searches, saw its biggest boost in traffic ever this week.
“I believe the surveillance story is paramount right now, and people are talking about it,” the site’s founder told VentureBeat. “DuckDuckGo users are telling their friends and family about the private alternatives.”
In other words: customers are willing to shift their usage patterns if they feel their privacy is at stake.
If Riley is right, and businesses do indeed “receive benefits” from the government in exchange for pawning off information about their customers, this may be the time for those businesses to reconsider whether this transaction is worth the potential PR nightmare and loss of trust if the relationship is ever exposed.
Of course, it’s also an opportunity. Plenty of business owners routinely work with security agencies–like the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services in the Department of Homeland Security, for instance–when the government needs special assistance in tracking down people suspected of terrorist activities. And perhaps they should.
The point is that businesses need to be more transparent and come clean with customers about how their data is used–and who it’s getting handed off to.
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