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Drone laws are changing – know the rules of the sky

Drone laws are changing nationally and locally – know before you throw (that drone in the sky).

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Drone laws are not finalized, and they’re changing

If you’ve been following recent developments in the drone movement, you’re probably aware of just how awesome the currently available models are. High-definition recording, extended battery life, autonomous movement, unprecedented range, and Go-Pro compatibility are only a few of the appealing aspects of your average competing specimen.

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As cool (and useful) as this technology is, however, it’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding UAV use—rules and regulations that, for the first time since modern-day drones’ inception, are drastically changing.

Note: none of this should be considered as legal advice, and because the rules are changing, we recommend chatting with your lawyer before putting a drone in the air.

Personal drone use is rapidly becoming commonplace, as some models are approaching an insanely low price of $300. Projected figures show that, by 2019, as many as 8,000 civilian drones may be up and running.

Keep in mind how high you fly

As it sits, current laws reflect the lack of need for regulation until now: as long as you keep your drone below 400 feet, stay away from airports and other obvious security risks, and generally mind your own business, you’re good to go.

Due to recent infractions, however – the most notable of which involve near-collisions with police helicopters or flying too close to the White House – the FAA has proposed some new guidelines that, purportedly, should come into play between now and 2017.

Although said guidelines are largely based in common sense, it won’t hurt to have everyone on the same page.

How heavy is your drone?

Starting soon, all UAVs will have to weigh in at less than 55 pounds to comply with FAA standards. An unencumbered Lily drone weighs a little under three pounds, and since other popular models follow suit for the most part, this shouldn’t be an issue.

More importantly, the FAA will also mandate that the drone must stay in your line of sight at all times; furthermore, barring corrective lenses, you won’t be able to utilize cameras, optics, or any fancy gadgets to meet this requirement.

There’s a speed limit in the skies

A maximum airspeed of 100 miles per hour will be required as well, though the maximum altitude will see an increase to 500 feet.

Operating over people not involved in your usage, other aircraft—manned or unmanned—or restricted sites will be strictly prohibited. This is a huge step for general privacy, but may strongly limit your recreational use.

A right-of-way for other aircraft will be implemented; again, even though this may not become an official rule until 2017, if you’d like to avoid a felony, please use common sense when choosing a flight location.

Don’t fly your drone at night

Finally, the FAA will require you to operate only during daytime, with a minimum of three miles’ visibility.

As an operator, you will have some federally mandated responsibilities as well. Flying a drone while in an unstable mental state (i.e., tired, inebriated, medicated), flying two or more drones at once, and running “careless or reckless operations” will land you in serious legal trouble.

States and feds are settling on final laws

In 2014 alone, nine U.S. states passed drone legislature, while 43 states have proposed over 150 bills regarding drone use. It’s easy to see how one might be confused with all the variants of laws floating around; this FAA ruling should clear up most of that disorientation.

There are too many specific state regulations to list here, but this graphic should give you a basic idea of what to look for in your home town.

Some notable examples include a ban on weaponizing your drone, which came as a huge shock (Connecticut, Wisconsin), using a drone to aid in hunting (Colorado), taking a picture in a way that invades one’s reasonable privacy (California), and general surveillance of non-consenting individuals or their property (Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Montana).

Drones are, from a utilitarian point of view, incredibly useful—and, from a recreational point of view, super cool. It’s great that the civilian market is expanding to accommodate enthusiasts from all sides of the budget. That being said, pay attention to UAV laws—present and future—because they are bound to change quickly and drastically, and the penalty for violation won’t be a simple slap on the wrist.

#Drones

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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Tech News

Airbnb addresses issues in accessibility by adding new filters and photos

(TECHNOLOGY) Finding accessibility-friendly Airbnbs lodging has not been the easiest process, but the company just unveiled new features to help.

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airbnb accessibility features unveiled

In a commendable step forward for the platform, Airbnb has updated its filtering features and added additional location photo screening to make its platform more user-friendly for those with disabilities. This is the first big overhaul since 2019. Studies have demonstrated that guests with disabilities are more likely to face discrimination on the platform and the platform is making moves to address this issue. In a tweet on November 9th, the CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, posted: “We’re reviewing every accessibility feature on Airbnb for accuracy. To date, our agents have double-checked photos of features in more than 25,000 homes.” The tweet features an 18-second video showcasing the accessibility features interface, which looks promising at a first glance.

In a curious decision, the number of accessibility filters has been lowered from 21 to 13, in what is described as an attempt to streamline searches.  While there is room for skepticism on that notion, better screening and search optimization for the remaining accessibility features is a welcome improvement. Perhaps we’ll see some of the nixed search filters, such as handheld showerheads, make a return in future updates.

The standards and burden of evidence for listing accessibility options have become more stringent.  Each feature now must be clearly documented with photo or video evidence, which are reviewed by designated trained staff. With standards now clearly defined for hosts to use to determine accessibility compliance of their spaces, the process should be smoother for all parties involved.  Examples of clarified guidelines include defining a ‘wide entrance to bedroom’ to be at least a 32-inch doorway, with photos of the measurement to confirm, as well as similar additional documentation being required for accessible parking spaces.  Where previously hosts just had to show a space clearly marked as accessible, images or video now need to also show how far from the primary entrance the space is, as well as prove that the space is clearly labeled with official signage or has a private driveway a minimum of 11 feet wide.

As a disabled person myself, and with a partner who has two defective knees– I can say there are a few filters I will miss. However, the more reliable accuracy of the labels for postings is a large step forward. I look forward to not getting any more third-story apartments showing up in searches for wheelchair-accessible properties. Planning my next vacation will likely be much less frustrating, if only we could agree on somewhere to go.

Update (December 07, 2021 at 12:58pmCST): Liz DeBold Fusco, Communications Lead for North America at Airbnb tells us, “To better serve our guests, and with input from our community and partners, we have updated the filters to make it easier for guests to find homes which suit their needs. One of those updates is simplifying to focus on essential and most used filters.”

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Business Finance

Can you afford missing a paycheck? Finance tips for freelancers

(FINANCE) Freelancers who are not always promised a regular paycheck could benefit from staying on top of their finances. Here’s our tips!

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Most Americans don’t have a regular savings account and could not handle a $1,000 emergency, let alone miss practically a month of pay. We all could benefit from some careful reflection about the precarious nature of our personal finances.

Particularly those of us who don’t receive a regular paycheck.

Entrepreneurs and those invested in the gig economy have volatile incomes, and literally no promise of a paycheck ever – that can impact your personal finances in a number of ways.

Variable incomes are normal for this group and can impact entrepreneurs in ways as simple as handling debt.

If this is you – here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you deal with the volatility of living on a variable income and handling your personal finances.  

  • Set up an emergency fund. Start with 500 if you have to, and remember this is an emergency fund for your personal expenses, not your business. If you have an emergency fund, make sure you identify what an emergency is and also be prepared to put money back when it comes out. If you have a hard time not spending money in front of you, put your money in a local bank or CU that you don’t have immediate access too.
  • Stick to a budget. when you can’t forecast your income appropriately, controlling expenses is so critical it’s the few things that are in your control.
  • Don’t mix business with personal. While you may be pouring your personal energy and time into your start-up or gig, be careful about mixing expenses for two reasons: First, it messes up your budget. You need to have separate budgets for personal and business. Second, there could be tax challenges – consult a tax professional for more information. Here’s a little primer to get you started.
  • Save for retirement. There are tax benefits and come on, don’t wait till you can’t work anymore. Also, an IRA IS NOT AN EMERGENCY FUND.
  • Practice good financial behaviors. Automate bill pay. Online statements. Digital receipt tracking. The more you can automate your life, the better you are. You already have so many demands on your time, reduce that so you can spend more time doing what you love and what matters.
  • Consider diversifying your income. Either ensure you have multiple strings or a backup gig (even if it’s just uber driving) or be prepared to do temporary or contract labor during your slow seasons.

The path to entrepreneurship is rough. If the government can be unstable, those of you who work in the world of startups, gigs, and entrepreneurship, need to be even more on your toes. The “normal recommendation” for saving is 10% of your income, but normal may not be enough for you. Be prepared and save (more) of your paycheck.

Disclaimer: I am neither a tax nor investment professional. This is personal financial advice and I encourage you to visit a professional if you need more specific plans of action.

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Tech News

iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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