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A lot of climate change-fighting strategies focus on removing air pollutants, or preventing them from reaching the atmosphere at all. While pretty much everybody these days can recognize carbon dioxide and methane as two of them, the US just joined around 130 other nations to take a big step in knocking out a third: hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs. 

Some experts are marking the move “the most significant environmental treaty that the United States has joined in at least a decade.” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer called it, alongside passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, as the “strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever taken.” But the push to get rid of the extremely potent group of greenhouse gases has a history decades in the making. 

Thinning (and fixing) the ozone layer

HFCs first came onto the scene in the 1980s and 1990s to replace chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in refrigerators and air conditioners. Those earlier substances were invented in the 1920s to make cooling and foaming agents. They had uniquely non-flammable, tasteless, and odorless properties, as well as a low boiling point close to zero degrees Celsius.

But CFCs were also a nightmare for the environment. The synthetic, which was also found in aerosolized products like hair spray, depleted the ozone layer by releasing chlorine into the atmosphere. Not to mention, the compounds produce a super-powered greenhouse gas that can warm the planet up to 10,000 times as much as carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist as long in the air).

[Related: 5 famous environmental disasters where humans and nature healed together]

By 1974, researchers has figured out how bad CFCs—but the action didn’t really kick in until the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987. This agreement phased out the super powerful ozone killer and climate warmer, with goals for developed and developing countries to fully phase them out by 2023 and 2030, respectively.

But just as society will have to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, something has to come in to substitute for CFCs. Enter HFCs, a slightly less toxic, ozone-safe option. Or so it seemed.

HFCs turn out to be a powerful greenhouse gas

The difference between HFCs and their predecessors was the fact that they lacked chlorine, the main ingredient in ozone depletion. But the newer chemicals came with their own environmental baggage. As far back as the 1990s, atmospheric scientists were also aware of the global warming impact that the compounds could have. “The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned that rapid expansion of the use of some HFCs could contribute to global warming,” National Research Council (US) Subcommittee to Review Toxicity of Alternatives to Chlorofluorocarbons wrote in a report in 1996. “Nonetheless, use of HFCs offers lower overall risk than use of CFCs, as well as a reduction in the time needed to eliminate CFC use.”

Nevertheless, HFC use grew. The ones that replaced CFCs now represent about 1 percent of total greenhouse gas warming, and can potentially warm the planet hundreds of thousands times more than than carbon dioxide, based on mass, according to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. According to the UN, HFC emissions are growing at a rate of around 8 percent every year, and annual emissions are projected to rise to 7 to 19 percent of global CO2 emissions equivalent by 2050. 

Since 1990, the Montreal parties have phased out 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances, allowing the Earth’s protective layer to recover.

Since 2009, however, members of the Montreal Protocol have been negotiating the phaseout of these global warming menaces, resulting in the 2024 signing of the Kigali Amendment. Countries from the Montreal Protocol, including big players like India, the European Union, and China, agreed to add HFCs to controlled substance lists and approve timelines to knock down usage 80 to 85 percent by 2040. Developed nations started their reductions in 2023, with developing nations to follow a few years behind. 

But notably, not the US. Donald Trump refused to sign it in 2024, even though it had bipartisan support and the backing of industry groups. Research from the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute even found that signing it would increase exports of goods with HFC alternatives by $5 billion by 2027—and net thousands of US manufacturing jobs. 

Another major step for US climate policy

Thankfully, a lot has changed in the past two years with climate policy. On September 21, 2023, the Senate quietly voted 69-27 to finally ratify Kigali and bring the US back on board with the the modern version of the Montreal Protocol. US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry called it “a profound victory ​for the climate and the American economy.” 

[Related: Scientists think we can get 90 percent clean energy by 2035]

If the Kigali Amendment follows in the footsteps of its CFC-focused predecessor, the impact could be major. Since 1990, the Montreal parties have phased out 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances, allowing the Earth’s protective layer to recover. (It’s estimated to be fully sealed up again by the 2050 or 2060s.) In the US alone, that means preventing 443 million cases of skin cancer, 2.3 million skin cancer deaths, and 63 million cases of cataracts by 2100. 

Assuming the US government fully follows through on Kigali, it could be the single largest contribution by people to keeping the planet below two degrees Celsius of warming—the threshold associated with keeping the planet livable for humans and other species. Wiping out HFC use under this agreement can help prevent more than 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which means avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100. 

Of course, there is still much to be done on climate change policy at home and abroad—but the ratification is a massive victory to climate-minded policymakers and activists. “This action will encourage other countries to join the agreement,” Dan Lashof, the US director of the World Resources Institute said in a release. “[It will] send a strong signal to the rest of the world that the nation is serious about addressing the climate crisis and investing in a cleaner, more sustainable economy.”

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How To Become A Video Game Designer: Is It A Growing Industry?

blog / Technology How to Become a Video Game Designer: Is it a Growing Industry?

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Video game designers build games that run on computers and gaming consoles. They create flowcharts and storyboards, write code, and troubleshoot bugs. Careers in video game creation appeal to computing experts with a passion for software development. In addition, because game designing is frequently a community-based endeavor, the profession is well-suited for collaborative workers. Let’s take a closer look at this profession and understand how to become a video game designer. 

Skills You Need to be a Video Game Designer

Let’s look at how to become a video game designer and the skills required.

Workplace Skills

Penchant for gaming

Communication skills

Creativity

Flexibility

Problem-solving

Willingness to collaborate as part of a team

Technical Skills

Knowledge of computer graphics

Animation abilities

Adobe Photoshop expertise

Knowledge of design theory

Understanding of software and hardware development

Jobs and Specializations for Video Game Designers

You might find out how to become a video game designer and prepare yourself accordingly, but you should also know what kind of job roles you can aim for. Here’s a list of career options you can pursue once you’ve developed your skill set.

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers produce code for software and apps in collaboration with software developers and engineers. Therefore, they must be fluent in programming languages such as C++ and Java.

Web-based Games Developer

Web-based game developers are in charge of website design and maintenance. They design game websites based on the requirements of the customer or company.

Video Game Producer

Producers of video games manage projects and hold meetings across many departments. In addition, they keep product development on track, do market research, and assist with marketing initiatives.

Technical Project Manager

Technical project managers frequently divide tasks into sections, defining milestones and goals. They address issues, prioritize activities, and help their team build projects.

Now let’s look at the qualifications needed and the potential salary each of these positions can get you.

Career Minimum Education Experience Average Salary

Computer Programmer

Bachelor’s Degree 

Freshers can apply

$93,000

Web Developer

Bachelor’s Degree 

Freshers can apply

$78,300

Video Game Producer

Bachelor’s Degree

Three-plus years of experience in the relevant field

$80,126

Technical Project Manager

Bachelor’s Degree

Three-plus years of experience in the relevant field

$97,013

ALSO READ: How to Become a Game Developer and Create Great Games

How to Become a Video Game Designer Earn a Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia Design or a closely related discipline is required to become a video game designer.

Enroll in Boot Camps

Consider attending a boot camp to improve your CV and gather more portfolio material and knowledge in a shorter time frame.

Enroll in Executive Programs

Video games are a primary developing creative form, and game design schools are becoming increasingly common. Enrolling in an executive program for video game design can help you gain better knowledge. 

Technical Skills

Technical skills are the core foundation of video game design. 

Complete an Internship

An internship can act as a stepping stone to your game designing career. 

Build a Portfolio

It is critical to developing a portfolio that is easy to access and explore for a hiring manager to see the work you have done. 

Learn New Skills

Learning new skills like an additional coding language, staying on top of technology, etc. is always beneficial as it adds another feather to your cap of existing skills. 

Workplace Skills

Workplace skills refer to the technical and hard skills at the core of video game design. 

Actively Participate in the Field

Develop your interest in this profession by attending networking events. Networking can be a great source of support throughout your video game designing journey. 

Create Your Own Games

Creating your games is a quick way to learn and get hands-on experience in video game design. 

Enlist in Online Courses

Enlisting in online courses is the best way to learn about video game design. They offer you the flexibility of time and pace at which you want to study since video game design can be a complex course to learn. Having that flexibility will help you tremendously cope with new learnings.

ALSO READ: Game Design: Step Into a Fun, Exciting Career for the Future

Career Path Overview Salary and Career Prospects of a Video Game Designer 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, video game creators are classified as software developers, and employment for software engineers will grow 25% between 2023 and 2031. As of March 2023, video game designers earned an average yearly income of $67,300, according to Payscale. Having said that, though, education, geography, industry, and experience are all factors that determine pay potential.

How to Find an Internship?

The best way to practically apply your learnings of how to become a video game designer is through an internship. Use the following steps to find the one best suited to you:

Find Companies Where You Want to Work

Check out the websites of the game studios you wish to work for while looking for a video game internship. When you’ve decided where to apply, find out what you can about the company. It is always beneficial to do so before your interview.

Participate in Networking Events

Check to see if your community has career fairs or networking events where you can meet representatives from various game studios. This is your time to create a solid first impression and connect with someone in person. 

Send Well-Written Applications

When writing your CV and cover letter for an internship, customize it for the job you seek. First, read the internship description carefully and pay attention to any abilities the company desires. Then, consider how you can include these abilities in your CV and cover letter. 

Get Ready for Your Interview

When you receive an interview invitation, be prompt with your response. Just before your interview, brush up on the information you have about the firm and read over the job description. You can even conduct a practice interview with a friend to rehearse your answers. Here are some anticipated questions:

What is your motivation for working in the video game industry?

What contribution can you make to our team?

What are your thoughts about our studio?

What are your strongest and weakest points?

What are you hoping to gain from this internship?

Expect Knowledge and Competence Tests

Employers can use specific exams to determine if you have the necessary knowledge and abilities for this position. Therefore, before your interview, refresh your math, coding, and reasoning abilities. By anticipating a test, you can be ready when your employer starts the timer.

How Hard is it to Become a Game Designer?

While it may be fun and exciting, a career in video gaming isn’t easy. There will be multiple challenges along the way, like:

Long working hours

Stressful situations

Competitiveness in the field

If you enjoy narrative and incorporating characters and themes into interactive gaming, video game design can be the profession for you. You can use your imagination to create new video games for consumers and educators. You can discover technology courses on Emeritus to help you design your own games and take your first steps into the profession.

By Siddhesh Shinde

Write to us at [email protected]

The Climate Crisis: Breaking The Fossil Fuel Habit

The Climate Crisis: Breaking the Fossil Fuel Habit The promise, and challenge, of shifting to alternative energy

Think of it as worldwide addiction. At least 80 percent of the energy people use to drive, heat their homes, and power gadgets comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and the consumption of all of the above contributes to global warming.

Cleveland’s convictions come not only from his own research, but also from a series of eight seminars that brought environmental experts from universities in the United States and Europe to BU throughout the 2010–2011 academic year. The John E. Sawyer Seminars on Energy and Society were sponsored by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“We will have to engineer the transition,” says Cleveland. “And we’ve never really done that in the history of humanity.”

Some countries, however, have done better than others. In 2011, China invested $51 billion in alternative energy technologies and led the world in renewable power capacity with 70 total gigawatts, according to the international nonprofit Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. That same year, the United States put $48 billion in such technologies and achieved total generation of 68 gigawatts. Germany, the third greatest investor in alternatives, spent $31 billion and reached total capacity of 61 gigawatts. Most other countries lagged far behind. No country has sworn off fossil fuels.

And while the federal government has not established benchmarks for wind and solar production, many states have. Here in Massachusetts, the legislature passed the Green Communities Act in 2008, requiring that 15 percent of the commonwealth’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2023. Massachusetts plans to generate 2,000 megawatts of wind energy within the next seven years and 250 megawatts of solar power by 2023. While far from reaching its wind energy goal, the commonwealth reports that it’s 90 percent of the way to accomplishing its solar goal. The commitments have helped Massachusetts tie with Texas for fifth place nationally in a 2012 Ernst & Young report on promising renewable energy markets.

Nuclear power, another low-carbon energy source, currently provides 3 percent of the world’s energy, Cleveland says, but its hazardous waste disposal and safety risks make it less desirable than wind and solar. “Nuclear energy has a higher life-cycle cost than wind and fossil fuel, because it’s very capital-intensive,” he says. “A routinely operated nuclear plant is benign, compared to a coal plant, but it does have this small possibility of going Fukushima on you.”

The United States has 65 operating nuclear power plants, most of them concentrated along the East Coast and in the Midwest and all of them built more than 30 years ago. Cleveland says that makes planning a new one relatively unknown territory, because there are no current price comparisons. It’s also politically risky, as most communities don’t want one in their backyard and are hesitant to adopt a technology that produces radioactive waste with a half-life of thousands of years.

Biomass—such as switchgrass, corn, or sugar cane converted to biofuel—is another alternative source of energy, but Cleveland is discouraged by the carbon exchange of the biomass process. “It involves removing vegetation from the Earth’s surface,” he says, “and humanity has a very poor track record of causing lots of other environmental problems when you start monkeying with changing land cover.” As a source, he prefers energy-rich sugar cane to corn-based ethanol, because corn is grown industrially with large inputs of oil, which increases carbon emissions.

“When you compare the energy in the ethanol and all the energy it took” to plant, cultivate, transport, and process it, “it’s only a very modest win,” he says. “It’s certainly way less than the energy gain you get from just producing oil directly from crude.”

What does Cleveland’s research tell him about the best way to break the fossil fuel habit? The first step, he says, should be using fossil fuels to build a sustainable energy infrastructure. “You need to shift away from coal and oil to natural gas in the short run, and probably leave a lot of coal in the Earth’s crust,” he says. “And you need to use fossil fuel to radically ramp up renewables and/or nuclear.”

That means “sticks and carrots, a lot of them,” he says. “If you want the transition to happen faster than it otherwise would, you’re going to have to alter incentives. And you’re going to have to change the price of carbon.”

Gas tax hikes, like the one Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently proposed, or divestment from fossil fuels are moves in the right direction. Cleveland thinks federal legislation taxing carbon or an international cap-and-trade system would put a bigger dent in emissions.

Finally, he says, politicians have to address the “third rail of U.S. energy policy”—demand. People need to know that their choices can have a negative impact on the environment. “Working 30 miles from home and driving a Hummer to work alone in the morning is probably one of the most absurd, extravagant behaviors,” he says. “We’ll look back and say, ‘Oh my God!’ The excesses of the Romans will look like Romper Room.” Commuters can do that only because “energy is dirt cheap. People are going to in the long run live closer to where they work and play.”

And perhaps more people should start thinking like Howard T. Odum, Cleveland says. The ecologist and author of A Prosperous Way Down argues that to survive, the human species must learn how to decline prosperously.

“No one wants to think that way, because we connect happiness and well-being with increases in the physical consumption of goods and services,” Cleveland says. “It’s a conversation that should be had, but good luck getting elected on that platform.”

Explore Related Topics:

The Climate Crisis: Measuring Boston’S Carbon Metabolism

The Climate Crisis: Measuring Boston’s Metabolism CAS researchers track the city’s carbon digestion

In the video above, Lucy Hutyra, a CAS assistant professor, and Nathan Phillips, a CAS professor, discuss how their Boston ULTRA-Ex (Urban Long-Term Research Area Exploratory) project tracks the city’s carbon digestion.

Imagine looking at Boston and its people as one living, breathing organism. The city consumes energy in the form of resources and services, processes them into gross domestic product, and produces waste. Some of that waste, the carbon dioxide spewed from industrial smokestacks, vehicle exhaust systems, buildings, and even people, contributes to global warming.

Now imagine tracing that carbon through space and time. That’s what Lucy Hutyra, Nathan Phillips, and a team of researchers plan to do, in an effort to understand the origin of Boston’s carbon emissions, how carbon is stored, and what the net balance of these activities means for the future of the city—and the planet.

Carbon is “like the life blood that’s flowing through the system,” says Phillips, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of earth and environment. “Understanding cities and their overall carbon emissions is absolutely crucial to understanding the global carbon cycle and global climate change.”

“If we are going to have a prayer of actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting commitments, and creating these international treaties,” says Hutyra, a CAS assistant professor of earth and environment, “we need to know where carbon dioxide is coming from within cities.”

Hutyra says nearly 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from cities, which cover only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface but are home to more than half of the world population. That would seem to make cities the obvious place for ecologists to study global warming, but until recently, few scientists were studying urban areas as unique ecosystems.

In 2009, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service announced a two-year grant that would support research in what they call an Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA). Hutyra and Phillips applied as co–principal investigators and were among a select group of scientists who landed a $300,000 exploratory grant for Boston. Their project, aptly called the ULTRA-Ex: Metabolism of Boston, has since expanded to include more than 50 scientists from BU, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and UMass. Funders now include NSF, NASA, the Environmental Defense Fund, and IBM Smarter Cities.

ULTRA collaborators measure such things as carbon emissions, carbon storage, land cover change, and how growing seasons are extended by urban heat islands—metropolitan areas that are warmer than their surroundings because of human activities—all of which should yield a picture of how the city consumes, digests, and spits out carbon. While conclusions are still far away, the team has already had a variety of aha moments.

One of the first involves Phillips’ measurement of atmospheric carbon. He and other researchers established six observation towers in and around Boston—at BU, the Prudential building, UMass-Boston, Nahant, Worcester, and the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass.—and rigged each with a Picarro instrument, which records carbon dioxide levels multiple times a day.

Phillips found that the levels reflect human activity and the seasons, registering higher during rush hour traffic and peak winter heating months and lower during weekends and summer vacation times. Not surprisingly, readings in rural sites like Harvard Forest are consistently lower than those at urban sites like BU. “We’re coupled in this kind of dance with carbon,” he says. “What becomes clear is that you can’t think of the human side of emissions and the natural systems in isolation from each other.”

Atmospheric carbon levels can easily be measured, but their sources are harder to identify. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that nearly 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from vehicles. Yet Hutyra says there is no reliable method for accurately pinpointing these emissions over space and time—information that’s crucial if governments hope to monitor and control emissions at the level of cities, states, or nations over confined periods. As noted in a paper written by one of Hutyra’s graduate students, Conor Gately (GRS’14), and published in January in Environmental Science & Technology, accepted models used to estimate emissions vary by up to 30 percent.

“Understanding cities and their overall carbon emissions is absolutely crucial to understanding the global carbon cycle and global climate change.”

Gately wanted a better model. As the project manager of the IBM Smarter Cities challenge in Boston, he worked with IBM engineers and city officials from the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) to funnel the city’s existing traffic and congestion data through a public website, to be unveiled this summer. He hopes the new database will spark innovation, inform public policy, and support research that improves emissions estimates—and soon, given that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) has set a goal of reducing the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2023.

Hutyra’s contribution to ULTRA overlaps with her study, funded by an NSF CAREER Award, of how differently plants behave in urban and rural environments. Boston is a relatively green city, with about 28 percent canopy cover, she says. That’s important in terms of global warming because trees remove carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis and provide shade, which reduces the urban heat island effect and air conditioning’s energy demand.

Since 2010, Hutyra, postdoctoral associate Steve Raciti, and graduate assistants have gone into the urban forest (which could mean two elms along the side of a building) to measure tree circumferences and take soil samples to determine their chemical composition. They published their findings last year in the journal Ecological Applications, writing that carbon concentrations in urban vegetation and soil were higher in a city’s forested regions than in residential and other developed land areas. Hutyra thinks urban trees are adapting—and possibly growing faster—in this carbon dioxide–rich environment.

Soil covered by pavement or concrete doesn’t fare as well. Raciti, Hutyra, and Adrien Finzi, a CAS professor of biology, wrote last year in Environmental Pollution that soil under impervious surfaces in New York City contained 66 percent less carbon and 95 percent less nitrogen than that found in exposed soil. Perhaps most disturbing, says Hutyra, is that “we don’t know where it went. The soil was also for many purposes dead. There was no microbial activity remaining.”

Knowing how much carbon is stored in trees and the soil will help determine the amount released into the atmosphere through land development or deforestation. That’s where remote sensing, the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites, comes in handy. ULTRA collaborators Mark Friedl, a CAS professor of earth and environment, and Curtis Woodcock, a CAS professor and chair of earth and environment, are using satellite imagery to reconstruct how land cover has changed around Boston since the 1980s. Development alters the Earth’s surface so that pavement, sidewalks, and buildings replace existing vegetation. Satellite imagery reflects such changes, and once stitched together, can provide a time-lapse map of Boston and the metropolitan area.

Deforestation results in “a net release of carbon to the atmosphere,” Friedl says. “Depending on the age and size of trees in a forest, it could be substantial.” The reverse is true as forests flourish in previously developed spaces.

Friedl also uses remote sensing to track seasonal change. As spring arrives earlier and fall later, plants have a longer growing season and absorb more carbon dioxide. This change is visible through satellite imagery, which Friedl double-checks through a system of cameras that take daily pictures of places like Storrow Drive and Boston Common. In 2010, he was stunned to see how big an effect the urban heat island, and resulting longer growing season, had on city trees. Those in Boston Common leafed out nearly three weeks before those in Harvard Forest—just 70 miles west.

BU’s ULTRA research is complex and diverse, but “if you put this all together, you can start to get the metabolism” of Boston, says Hutyra.

“This would be an ivory tower exercise,” Phillips says, “if it didn’t have an applied goal. And that applied goal is to increase sustainability in Boston and in other cities as well.”

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Is There Some Secret Imac Assembly Plant In The Us?

iFixit

From iFixit’s ritual iMac dismemberment yesterday, we learn that the particular 21.5-inch iMac they bought says it was “Assembled in USA”. The moniker isn’t new—we’ve seen it since at least a few iMac models back on the packaging. But as far as we can tell, “Assembled in USA” wasn’t etched in the actual machine’s aluminum, leading people to believe that the iMacs that were shipped were “refurbished in the USA”. However, this forum shows that some were actually assembled and sold new with the “Assembled in USA” label (below—27-inch iMac, previous gen).

Regardless of previous endeavors, Apple is shipping new iMacs “Assembled in USA”.  PED at Fortune found one. Jay Yarrow at BI found one, too. This isn’t an isolated incident. We also heard that other new iMacs say “Assembled in China”, as you’d expect.

Still, it makes for an interesting question:  Is Apple building some of its iMacs in the United States? Is that percentage growing since it seems much of the first line of iMacs are coming with USA labels?

The “Assembled in USA” label doesn’t just mean that foreign parts screwed together in the U.S. either. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission assumes that a “substantial transformation” must happen in the U.S. for the label to be used.

Specifically, the FTC states that the label “Assembled in the USA” should be the following:

A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA” without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why a “screwdriver” assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled in USA” claim.

Example: A lawn mower, composed of all domestic parts except for the cable sheathing, flywheel, wheel rims and air filter (15 to 20 percent foreign content) is assembled in the U.S. An “Assembled in USA” claim is appropriate.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. The FTC gives the specific example of a computer manufacture:

Example: All the major components of a computer, including the motherboard and hard drive, are imported. The computer’s components then are put together in a simple “screwdriver” operation in the U.S., are not substantially transformed under the Customs Standard, and must be marked with a foreign country of origin. An “Assembled in U.S.” claim without further qualification is deceptive.

That means one of two things: Either Apple or its contractors have some sort of significant manufacturing operations in the U.S., or it is being deceptive in its marketing (something that sadly, isn’t out of character)…

Apple, up until 2004, manufactured some of its Macs in its Elk Grove plant, and then current CEO Tim Cook moved all operations to China (with some in-house work being done in Cork, Ireland). Interestingly, Elk Grove has seen a hiring spike over the last year, with its headcount increasing by over 50 percent. However, none of the job positions we found were in manufacturing—at least those officially listed as being for Apple, Inc.

.

Apple also ramped up its Austin campus, near where Samsung manufactures its A5/6/X processors, but it is unlikely that it has begun manufacturing there.

As of September 29, 2012, the Company owned a manufacturing facility in Cork, Ireland that also housed a customer support call center and facilities in Elk Grove, California that included warehousing and distribution operations and a customer support call center. The Company also owned land in Austin, Texas where it will build office space and a customer support call center. In addition, the Company owned facilities for research and development and corporate functions in Cupertino, California, including land for the future development of the Company’s second corporate campus. The Company also owned data centers in Newark, California; Maiden, North Carolina; and Prineville, Oregon. Outside the U.S., the Company owned additional facilities for various purposes.

Perhaps Apple is still outsourcing the manufacture to Foxconn and others, but it is actually assembling the products in a U.S. plant? To the surprise of some, Foxconn has a few locations in the U.S., but it isn’t known if they are actually making anything here.

Another theory: Perhaps Apple makes a limited run of iMacs in the U.S. (maybe even in Cupertino) to get the manufacturing kinks worked out before it ramps up full production in China? If that were the case, it would be surprising to see those products go into the retail sales channel and labeled as ‘new’.

Updated: A French reader sent us his iMac that is labeled “Assembled in Ireland”.

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Google Warns Of 6 Reasons They’ll Ban A Web Story

Google Web Stories is a feature that can bring more traffic to a web site. Google shared six reasons why they will disqualify a web story and block the it from appearing in the search results.

Google Web Stories

Web stories is a new kind of content, a new format. The web story format is meant for users who are on the go or killing time. It’s described by Google as snackable content. A typical user might be someone who is waiting for an appointment or on a subway on their way to work.

Google is showing web stories across all the different kinds of search, including news and Google Discover.

Creating a Web Story doesn’t guarantee that Google will show it and send traffic.

The following are six reasons that Google said will cause a web story to be blocked from being shown.

1. Copyrighted Content

Google stated that content that infringes a copyright is prohibited from participating in web stories.

Google says that they “may” remove infringing content and then links to their web page for reporting infringing content.

So it seems like Google is relying on publishers to alert Google when someone infringes on their content.

This is what Google says:

“…we may block it from appearing.”

2. Too Many Words or Too Much Video Content

Google’s guidelines for web stories is that web story pages are limited to 180 words. Google also encourages publishers to use video content that is less than 60 seconds in length.

This is how Google describes it:

“Web Stories may not be eligible if the majority of pages have more than 180 words of text.”

3. Low Quality Images and Video 4. Lack of Narrative

Google explains it like this:

“We don’t allow Web Stories that are missing a binding theme or narrative structure from page to page.”

5. Incomplete Stories

This is the exact requirement:

6. Overly Commercial Web Story

Related: Google Discover Updated With Web Stories Carousel

New Format – New Web Stories Guidelines

Similarly, Google is creating rules to ensure that the user experience matches what Google had in mind when they created web stories.

Knowing what’s disallowed is useful as it will help prevent being in a situation where Google blocks the web story from appearing.

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