Tesla Files Lawsuit Against Michigan’s Top Officials

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Electric car manufacturer Tesla is filing a lawsuit against the state of Michigan for refusing to allow the company to sell directly to consumers. The automotive maker named Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in its official court proceedings. The lawsuit comes after Secretary of State Ruth Johnson denied Tesla’s application for dealership and service provisions in Grand Rapids.

“Tesla Motors brings this lawsuit to vindicate its rights under the United States Constitution to sell and service its critically-acclaimed, all-electric vehicles at Tesla owned facilities in the State of Michigan,” the car company stated.

Tesla’s recent litigation comes after years of legal battles between the car manufacturer and the state of Michigan. In 2014, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that banned the automotive company from selling without a dealership network.

A spokesperson for Governor Rick Snyder declined to comment on the current charges brought forth. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette said they are currently reviewing the case. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson published a press release, stating that, “The license was denied because state law explicitly requires a dealer to have a bona fide contract with an auto manufacturer to sell its vehicles.”

For Tesla, the stakes couldn’t be higher, with their much-anticipated Tesla Model 3 scheduled for production late next year. The Model 3 is set to be Tesla’s most affordable vehicle yet, set at $35,000 before tax incentives. The company has already received about 400,000 deposits of $1,000 each from buyers who want to purchase their vehicles in advance.

Tesla currently owns 100 stores in 23 states. For Michigan residents, the closest stores are in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. Tesla argues that using a dealership would corrupt their business model. The automotive manufacturer strongly opposes commission-based salaries, and doesn’t want consumers to feel pressured into buying a vehicle.

Yahoo Confirms 500 Million Accounts Have Been Stolen

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Search engine company Yahoo has confirmed that there has been a data breach in which information from 500 million accounts has been stolen. Yahoo believes it was a “state-sponsored actor” who was behind the breach. A “state-sponsored actor” is someone who is working on behalf of a governmental agency.

Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Bob Lord released the following statement:

“We have confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what we believe is a state-sponsored actor. The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.”

Lord’s press release also stated that the company is working closely alongside law enforcement to find the perpetrators. In the mean time, the company is notifying users who may have been affected. Lord assured users that Yahoo is doing everything they can to protect against future threats.

“An increasingly connected world has come with increasingly sophisticated threats. Industry, government and users are constantly in the crosshairs of adversaries. Through strategic proactive detection initiatives and active response to unauthorized access of accounts, Yahoo will continue to strive to stay ahead of these ever-evolving online threats and to keep our users and our platforms secure.”

For security purposes, Yahoo is advising affected users to change their passwords immediately. The company also recommends adopting another form of account verification, such as Yahoo Account Key. Yahoo Account Key links to the user’s cell phone. Whenever a login attempt is made, access can either be granted or denied with the click of a button.

As an added layer of precaution, the company has invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers, making them ineffective for account logins. Users should be wary of any messages coming from unfamiliar sources. Above all, users should never click on any suspicious links or attachments.

Workaholics Aren’t More Successful, New Study Finds

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The image of the employee who lives for work and lets it totally dominate their life is going out of style. There are definitely still employers who feel that people should be more concerned with their work, but just like workaholics, these employers are going out of style. The prevailing image has been that people who put their lives ahead of their jobs are less successful, but according to a new study by Swiss researchers, that simply isn’t true.

The study found that people who have “strong non-work orientations” (that is to say they take time for their families, hobbies, or other aspects of their personal life) do not have lower salaries or less success than workaholics. In fact, people with strong non-work orientations report higher satisfaction within their career and their life. More satisfied employees are less likely to quit, which is good for employers.

The study didn’t find any real significant differences between men and women with strong non-work orientations, other than the fact that women tend to plan their careers with things outside of work in mind from the start, which men are less likely to do. Workers with families tended to have greater levels of satisfaction, but that isn’t to say that those without families weren’t happy. Not everybody wants a traditional family, after all.

The key takeaway is that employers are better off letting workers have their own personal lives. That can mean a lot of things ranging from more vacation time to decreased work hours. With the rapid development of social media, it has become increasingly common for employers to look potential employees up on Facebook or Twitter and to keep an eye on them after they’re hired. But this latest study suggests that maybe potential job candidates and current employees shouldn’t be judged on the activities they engage in on their own personal time. Perhaps taking on a more human-approach to employment will make for a healthier, happier workplace for all involved.

Thank the Female Fandom for the Success of Star Trek

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Star Trek, arguably one of the most important science fiction franchises in the world, just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary. The original show debuted in 1966, but it wasn’t as immediately successful as one might assume based on its subsequent successes. All those movies, TV shows, novels, comics, video games, and tons of merchandise never would have happened if it weren’t for some very dedicated fans. Those fans organized letter-writing campaigns, organized conventions, and wrote fan fiction to keep the franchise alive, especially between 1970 and 1979 when there weren’t any new episodes being aired. Those fans not only kept Star Trek alive, they laid the foundation of modern day fandom, and those fans were women.

Today, producers love fans because they ensure a constant influx of money. The websites Tumblr and DeviantArt basically exist so that people can easily share fanart and get into arguments about which fictional characters they think should be in relationships with other fictional characters. Massive conventions like Comic-Con, PAX, or Dragoncon wouldn’t exist without fandom, and everything from Star Wars to Stranger Things probably wouldn’t even exist if the Internet hadn’t come along to turn fandom into the giant money making machine that it is.

But those initial Star Trek conventions, and fanzines, and fan fiction, and fanart, were most made, organized, and shared by women who loved the show. Back then, it was a labor of love; there weren’t magazines or easily available stills to reference for your drawing of Spock or your homemade Starfleet uniform. Fanzines were hand-typed or hand-written and copied via mimeograph (here’s a link if you’re too young to know what that is).

Everybody from J.J. Abrams to William Shatner to the kids sharing their Steven Universe fanart on Tumblr owe it to the women who gave us Star Trek fandom.

How Banking Culture Has Changed since the 90’s

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“Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves,” said Warren Buffet.

Culture shapes the way people act (and don’t act) on a daily basis and it can be influenced by people inside and outside an organization.

A workplace environment shouldn’t be something that people dread every day; employees should look forward to going to their jobs. In fact, employees should have a hard time leaving because they enjoy their team, the challenges they’re faced with, and the atmosphere. Work may be difficult at times; however, the culture should not add to the stress of the work. Instead, company culture should alleviate the work related to stress.

Culture encourages employee enthusiasm. At Montgomery Securities, an investment bank founded by Thom Weisel, it is believed that companies should have an entrepreneurial culture that “encourages stars and yet still work as a team.”

Back in the 1990’s, banks were places of trust. Inside the big marble interiors and solid pillars sat tellers, loan officers, and other executives dressed in suits and ties. Sound was muted and people spoke in quiet voices. Money was serious business and it was a time when “protecting a bank’s reputation was like protecting a woman’s honor,” said a former senior banker at JP Morgan. They were a prestigious industry with good principles.

Retired bankers say that the ‘short-term’ mindset became evident due to the disappearance of teamwork and a sense of loyalty towards the profession. Organizational spirit was present in the old days where people had to collaborate with others in order to support a bank’s long-term reputation. If you joined a certain company, you were expected to stay there all your life. Now, people often hop around from bank to bank without question. Because loyalty was so important back then, many banks were reluctant to fire employees.

“How people are fired and how they are hired says so much about banking culture. People may be gone in five minutes not just because they were fired but because they were hired elsewhere,” says banking blogger Joris Luyendijk. Most people today switch jobs after being somewhere for between 18 months and three years.

So how can culture change?

Many banks are trying to clean up their image and win back public confidence by hiring new resources. Company culture doesn’t change overnight, as it will take time to adapt to new leadership and structure.

“Cultural change can come from multiple strategies – there’s no one way to catalyze change. But even having a space for people to talk is important – because talk can lead to action. If you are all having the same issues you may catalyze that into change. It’s important to have spaces that are created outside the formal structure,” says Melissa Fisher, author of Wall Street Women, a book that highlights the history of women in finance.

New “Bradio” System Greatly Extends Battery Life on Small Devices

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Mobile devices have transformed our lives in a lot of ways over the last decade. Given time, wearable devices might be able to do the same, and are certainly more in line with the kind of futurism made popular by science fiction. But, while wearable devices like smartwatches or fitness trackers are gaining popularity, there is one common complaint about them that we need to resolve: battery life.

Battery life is a thorn in the side of mobile devices in general, because the size of a battery and the power it provides are directly correlated. The smaller the battery, the less the power provided. But devices like smartwatches have high-energy demands. You can either have a short battery life with a smaller, more compact device, or a larger battery with a bulkier device.

But scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have been working on a new system that they have dubbed “Bradio.” Bradio allows devices that are connected with one another to share the energy load. So a smartwatch, which works through its connection with a smartphone, can make use of that phone’s larger battery in order to get attain more battery life. It works kind of like the cloud: the larger device provides more energy that the smaller device can tap into in order to extend it’s own battery life. Plus, the cloud allows you to access a much bigger storage space than you could conveniently keep on hand.

So far, tests have shown that they can get about 400 times the battery life of a Bluetooth system, which operates on a somewhat similar principle. The device sending the signal to the Bluetooth headset does most of the work in the relationship, and the same is true of Bradio. Although it’s in the beginning stages of development, Bradio, or a system like it, could revolutionize wearable technology.

Job Seekers: Don’t Get Duped by Scam Companies

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Being out of a job is one of the most stressful situations a person can be in. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, especially if you’re fresh out of college. But heed this warning now: where there are vulnerable people, there are predators just waiting to take advantage of them. So before you get too excited about a potential job prospect, take note of these warning signs.

Job Title Euphemisms

Scam companies are notorious for using fancy job titles to lure in unsuspecting victims. How will you know the difference between a scam and a legitimate job posting? The qualifications say it all.

Take, for example, the all-too-familiar “marketing” euphemism. “Marketing” is a term that scam companies often used as a code word for “sales.” Here’s the thing: if the company in question doesn’t at least require a four-year degree or a few years of experience for a marketing position, then it’s most likely a scam. What the company is really looking for is someone who will take a low-paying sales job. This leads nicely into the next point.

The Pay is High… Almost Too High

It’s like the old saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.” This is where you need to get real honest with yourself. If a job posting is advertised as paying $60k a year and you don’t have a degree or any relevant work experience, then it’s a scam. What will happen is that the company will invite you to come into an interview, only to reveal during the interview that the position is commission-based. Wyndham Worldwide is known for doing this. Their Seattle “Community Marketing Agent” position is advertised as paying between 50k-80k. In reality, the position only pays $12.50 an hour plus commission (for selling timeshares).

They Call You Back Almost Immediately

The hiring process is incredibly lengthy, both for employers and job seekers. It normally takes 1-2 weeks after the closing of a position for a recruiter to follow-up with an applicant. For larger companies, it can take even longer. That’s why you should always look at employers who call you back almost immediately with an eye of suspicion.

Speedy Advancement

Ah, the ever-so-common “entry-level management” position. The term itself is a paradox; legitimate companies don’t hire inexperienced people for management positions. And if the company is offering “training,” you should know that 6-12 months is not enough experience to be a manager.

Modern Marketing Tactics are Key to Running a Successful Business

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Too many CEOs, advertisers, and sales teams are woefully unaware that their marketing tactics are completely out of date. As a result, profits are dropping and investors are losing interest. Take a look at some of the most common business blunders and how upgrading to modern marketing tactics can fix them.

Keyword Stuffing

 Once upon a time, digital marketers thought that “keyword stuffing” was the key to optimizing content. The mistake operates on the misconceived notion that goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to make your business show up on the first page of a Google search. Here’s why that’s wrong. The goal of SEO isn’t to show up on the first page of Google; the goal of SEO is to close a sale, whether that’s products or services. Increasing awareness of your products or services is merely a means of getting more sales, but it doesn’t seal the deal alone.

For example, let’s say that you’re running a business called “Dale’s Bakery” in Las Vegas. Some keywords you may want to rank for include: Las Vegas, cakes, pies, doughnuts, and fresh-baked bread. On your website, in your “About Us” section, you use the keywords “Dale’s Bakery,” “Las Vegas,” and “cakes” 15 times in your 600-word article. So even if a consumer comes across your website on the first page of a Google search, once they click on your website, they’re likely to go elsewhere once they realize how unprofessional and spam-like your content is.

The solution? Keep your keyword density between 1-3%.

Overuse of Push Marketing

While push marketing tactics are extremely important for start-ups, the overuse of them can really irritate consumers. Instead, opt for more pull marketing strategies. Examples of this include launching a social media campaign, creating a website blog, and generating word-of-mouth referrals.

A quick note: both push and pull marketing strategies are needed in order to run a successful business. But there are certain push strategies that are almost completely ineffective for new companies and they include: e-mail advertisements, unsolicited phone calls, and door-to-door sales.

Business-Hours Marketing

If you think marketing is a 9-5 job, you’re wrong. Well, sort of. Most technological platforms allow users to schedule content to be released at a certain time/date. Why is this important? Because your target audience may not be online during normal business hours. Research has shown that the majority of social media users are online during the hours of 12pm-1:30pm (lunch hour) and 6pm-9pm (after work hours). Marketing outside of normal business hours doesn’t mean that you need to work outside of normal business hours, it just means that you need to schedule content for the time that your consumers are most active.

Remembering GeoCities and How It Helped Shape the Internet

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Long before the existence of Facebook (even before MySpace, iPods, and Y2K) and before the first dotcom bubble burst, there was the Internet. Unlike newer technologies, the Internet had no single “inventor.”

However, there was GeoCities, which helped shape the Internet.

Once the Internet’s third most-visited domain, GeoCities was responsible for the development of millions of websites. Years after the free web-hosting service was launched in 1994, Thom Weisel’s wealth management firm advised Yahoo! to acquire GeoCities for $3.5 billion.

The company’s goal was to give everyone who had Internet access a free place on the web. Although there were just a few million people online during that time, the idea of owning an online space was a strange (and exciting) new medium. Other free web-hosting services such as Tripod and Angelfire also launched around the same time, but these platforms proved to be far less popular than GeoCities.

”We are not an in-and-out service like a search engine. It’s a place for people to meet. We allow for self-expression through self-publishing. We’re it, in terms of being a major content-entertainment site whose editorial strategy is solely based on the members creating the content themselves,” said GeoCities co-founder David Bohnett.

In its original form, GeoCities users selected a “city” in which to launch their web pages. GeoCities wasn’t sure how to handle the whole idea of an online community and decided to divide the content up into “cities” or “neighborhoods” where you and your neighbors should ideally have the same core interest. The “cities” were named after actual cities or regions according to their content. For example, many computer-related websites were placed under “SilliconValley” and those in the entertainment industry were assigned to “Hollywood.”

Eventually, however, the “home page” fad was overshadowed by blogs and social-networking websites. In 2009, approximately ten years after the merge with Yahoo!, GeoCities announced that it would shut down its 38 million free user-built pages in the United States.

Although many people thought the platform inspired a lot of terrible web design, GeoCities was the first big venture built on what is now considered the Web 2.0 boom of user-generated content. It gave people tools to do amazing things on their websites, including adding animation, music, graphics, and other HTML wizardry.

Imagine yourself back in 1996. You’ve created your free GeoCities account, and you’ve been given a blank page with 15 megabytes to tell the world about yourself. What would be on your page?

X Shaped Structure at the Center of the Milky Way

A photo of The Milky Way taken at night.

The Milky Way.
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If you’ve ever seen depictions of the Milky Way Galaxy (the one we live in) you’re probably familiar with the idea of it being a round disc. It’s a little more complicated than that, though. It is pretty much a round disc, but it also has two spiral arms that make up part of that disc, as well as a bar that runs through the middle of it with a bulge in the center. All of these shapes are made up of star systems, gas, and dust, for the record.

Two astronomers from the University of Toronto and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg are convinced that there is an X shaped structure of stars within that central bulge, and they’ve written a paper to support it. The idea of the X structure has been around for a bit, but evidence of it has been kind of thin. What the X tells us, among other things, is that since our galaxy formed it hasn’t crashed into other galaxies, because that would have broken the X shape at the center.

If it helps, you can think of a galaxy (in our case 100,000 light years in diameter and comprised of billions of stars) like our own star system. All of those stars represent Earth and the other planets orbiting around the center of the galaxy (or the Sun, in this metaphor). Solar systems orbit around the center of the galaxy, and as they move through space at various times throughout their lifespans, they may collide with another system. Galaxies do the same thing, and there are others out there that look like they’ve collided with each other. But ours most likely isn’t one of them.

Astronomers are great at gathering tons of details from relatively little information, and that’s the goal with the X structure as well. The more they study it, the more we’re likely to learn about how our galaxy was formed.

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