Tag Archives: Microsoft

Vogue magazine asks, “Should we still let children play with toy guns?”

It’s the “Classic Mother BB Gun Block.”

Pro-tip for the women cited in this article: We have THOUSANDS of strict gun laws already on the books. The problem is enforcement and those darn criminals who don’t obey them.

And if you’re interested in teaching your child about proper firearm safety instead of an irrational fear, there are LOTS of resources available. For example, see here, here, here, here, here and here.

From Yahoo (originally from Vogue): Over the weekend, on a party supplies run at Flying Tiger, the charming Danish discount store, my 4-year-old daughter’s eyes sparkled at the sight of a neon-color water gun. “Can I have that?” she asked—the same question she’d repeated at the sight of the modeling clay and princess crowns and silly straws.

I wavered for a beat. I’d come of age in the late ’80s and ’90s—the height of the backyard Super Soaker battle. And before that water gun became the hottest ticket at Toys “R” Us, my brother and I had wielded tiny green plastic water pistols filled and refilled with rudimentary plugs, sneakily shooting each other in the eyes. I remember all of this as pure, absurd fun.

“No,” I told my daughter, and briskly steered her on.

I offered no explanation in the moment—and I hadn’t really turned the question over in my head before—but my gut gave me my answer: that I didn’t want to introduce her to this or any other gun in a world that already seemed to be teeming with them in movies and video games, on TV and, most of all, on the news. Her fleeting interest in the toy gun was innocent, but, sadly, my view of it no longer was.

The water gun fights my brother and I used to have in the summer were from another era, maybe even another world—before Columbine and Parkland; Orlando and Sutherland Springs; and before these much-covered mass shootings rightfully reminded the public of the regularly occurring violence in lower socioeconomic and minority communities.

Back then, guns might have been just toys; now, it’s impossible for me not to see them as charged with the trauma of recent events.

I considered that same question again today—should we let our children play with toy guns at a time when the U.S. is grappling with the impact of gun violence?—when I saw the pictures of Prince George holding a rather realistic-looking black toy gun at an English polo match over the weekend. Part of the debate over toy guns has hinged on distinguishing them, clearly, as toys—so as never to be mistaken for the real thing. There are state laws, including one in New York, requiring toy guns be brightly colored, as opposed to black, aluminum, or silver. Perhaps for this reason, the photos stood out: to some eyes, the prince’s looked eerily like a real pistol.

“I gasped when I saw the photos,” an American friend said on Facebook.

And she has a reason to: America has a gun violence homicide rate that is 25 times higher than that of other developed countries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety; we outrank all other countries in the number of mass shootings that occur here; we own an estimated half of all civilian guns worldwide. A child wielding a toy gun in the U.K., where firearms are much harder to obtain, arouses a different sense of shock or unease than they might in America, though no less alarming—remember the brouhaha when Pippa Middleton’s friend pointed a firearm out of their convertible at a paparazzi?

There’s also the matter of who’s holding the toy gun. “The photo of Prince George juxtaposed with the story of Tamir Rice, a young black boy killed by police in Ohio because he had a toy gun in hand is an important part of the racial and white supremacy dynamics at play here,” Erika Soto Lamb, the founding and former head of communications for Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety and a mother of two sons, ages 5 and 7, told Vogue. “It’s not safe for a black child in America to play with toy guns.”

Soto Lamb is a Texas native who was raised around real guns; she grew up playing cops and robbers and revering A Christmas Story—the irreverent classic in which mischievous young Ralphie Parker dreams of his very own BB gun. But she does not allow her two sons to play with toy guns of any kind. While at Everytown and Moms Demand Action, “when my life was a daily deluge of news stories about gun violence in America, and working with mothers whose children had been killed, it was simply untenable to come home and hand my children guns to play with,” Soto Lamb said.

When I began asking other parents today about kids and toy guns, many echoed her uneasiness. “My daughter is just 3, but I don’t think a gun can be an innocent toy in this day and age,” Anna Davies, a fellow writer in Jersey City, New Jersey, told me. “It’s much easier to just not have them in our lives.”

Another friend said she was “uncomfortable” when her 5-year-old daughter recently received a toy water gun in a birthday party goodie bag. One mother stealthily returned a “machine-gun” toy loaded with foam pellets that her son received at his own birthday party. “It was designed to look like the real deal,” she said. “I was so horrified, I immediately stashed it away while he was busy tearing into his other gifts.”

I can hear the other side now: that parents denying their kids toy guns are overthinking this. That a toy is still just a toy. But if Barbies arguably possess the power to body shame little girls, and princesses can mess with their sense of independence, then can’t guns, even if just subliminally, sanction violence? “I believe we have a cultural problem with guns in this country, and I don’t want to normalize the use of them,” Kathy Healy Champion, a mother of three in Connecticut, said. She doesn’t allow her children to play with toy guns. “I see it as a step in the right direction.”

After Sandy Hook, Soto Lamb says she began to view A Christmas Story through a different lens: “I realized that America’s problem with gun violence goes deeper than any laws, there is a cultural shift that needs to happen,” she said. “We give them blocks to inspire them to be builders, we give them paint to inspire artistic expression . . . what are we feeding our children, in the metaphorical sense, when we hand them toy guys to play with?

It doesn’t have to be a real gun to spark debate: According to Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, even emoji guns carry a certain charge that doesn’t necessarily belong in our texts or tweets: all of those companies scrapped their original gun emojis in favor of “water guns.” The TSA—Transportation Security Administration—recommends toy guns be packed with checked baggage; it bans “squirt guns, Nerf guns, toy swords, or other items that resemble realistic firearms or weapons.”

For some parents, the question of how to handle toy guns is ongoing—some allow just water guns and only of the bright-colored variety. Others have nuanced rules—that toy guns should never be pointed at people or used to pretend-kill someone. (But, then again, that’s usually the point of a gun, whether real or fake.) Some parents say the decision isn’t easy—one mother reluctantly allows her sons to partake in paintball gunning, so as not to make them feel left out among friends. The hardest part for Soto Lamb is banning water guns. “Water guns are really so fun, but let’s be honest, Super Soakers are basically assault weapon–style water guns,” she said. “We make do with water blasters”—long tubes with no trigger—“and water balloons.”

Several parents told me their concerns about toy guns tend to get dwarfed by their worry over real gun violence. Responding to some online backlash about Prince George’s toy gun, Davies said, “I wish the outrage would continue to be directed at the NRA, not Prince George and the royal family. Maybe if we lived in a society that had strict gun laws, our toddlers could also play with pretend guns. I think it’s actually something to aspire to—let’s become a society where guns are just as fantastical as lightsabers.”

DCG

Another lecture from Bill Gates: He and other rich people should pay significantly higher taxes

bill gates and bill clinton

Hey Gates: Good luck convincing your buddy Bill that he and Hillary need to give the government more of their money!

Bill knows darn well he doesn’t need the federal government to tell him to give the government more money. He can make a donation to the US Department of Treasury any time he wants. And he can convince his super-rich buddies to do the same.

From Yahoo: Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said wealthy individuals such as himself should be made to pay substantially higher taxes.

Mr. Gates, who is worth over $90bn, said despite the fact he has “paid more taxes…than anyone else” he should be required to fork out more by the government.

Speaking to CNN in an interview on Sunday, he said: “I need to pay higher taxes. I’ve paid more taxes, over $10bn, than anyone else, but the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes.”

He criticised the Republican sweeping $1.5 trillion tax reform bill which Donald Trump signed into law at the end of last year.

The measure constitutes the most profound changes to tax laws since the 1980’s and slashes taxes for corporations while providing most Americans with only temporary relief.

Mr. Gates, the second richest man in the world after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, argued the greatest benefits of the bill would be reaped by the super rich. “It was not a progressive tax bill. It was a regressive tax bill,” he said.

He argued the biggest advantages would be felt by the wealthiest in society despite the Republicans’ assertion their first major legislative victory would help America’s working and middle classes.

“People who are wealthier tended to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poor, and so it runs counter to the general trend you’d like to see, where the safety net is getting stronger and those at the top are paying higher taxes,” he said.

While Mr. Trump has drawn attention to the magnitude of the tax cuts and branded the legislation “a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs”, Democrats have labeled the measure a “monumental con job” that will benefit the rich at the expense of America’s poorest.

The bill slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.

It also raises the threshold for the estate tax, a levy that applies to property passed down when a family member dies which only affects a few thousand ultra-rich families each year. This change predominantly benefits the upper echelons of earners, including Mr. Trump himself.

Asked about his view on “rising inequality” in the US, Mr. Gates said: “All advanced democracies have to think about that.”

He added: “You still have about a sixth of the population living in conditions that should be very disappointing to us, and government policies need to really think, ‘Why aren’t we doing a better job for those people?’”

Mr. Gates has donated more than $40bn of his personal wealth to charitable causes. He founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the US, with his wife in 2000. The organisation aims to improve healthcare, cut extreme poverty and expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.

See also:

DCG

Overwhelming number of people speak in favor of Seattle income tax

thatcher

I’m so glad I moved away from that proggie-infested area.

From MyNorthwest.com: An overwhelming number of people spoke in support of a citywide income tax in Seattle on Wednesday at City Hall.

People in support of taxing the richest residents cited everything from “simple justice,” to the untapped pool of money that could be used to deal with pressing problems like homelessness and drug abuse.

The proposed tax would be 1.5 percent on adjusted gross income over $250,000 per year. Councilmember Lisa Herbold says there are still many undecided details, chiefly how that income level would be calculated.

The legal basis for such a selective tax is shaky and whatever the final form, legal analysts and the city attorney’s office believe there would be a legal fight to make the tax stick. But that isn’t quieting support for such a tax.

 “They stole from the workers, so rise up and tax the rich, please,” one public speaker said. The Seattle Democratic Socialists of America, the Seattle Transit Riders Union, and other groups encouraged people to pack City Hall.

Stewart with Trump Proof Seattle told a packed house that by taxing the rich, Seattle “truly” has a chance to be a sanctuary city. “So you know the saying, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Well in Seattle, this is not just a truism, but an acute reality,” another speaker said.

According to KIRO 7, citing a report, Seattle has the most regressive state and local tax system in the country.

Regressive tax means the rate goes down as personal incomes go higher–lower income earners pay higher tax rates than the highest earners. The proposal would reverse that and create a progressive tax where the wealthiest pay the highest tax rate.

Proponents say it would create a more even playing field in a city that’s becoming too expensive for low to middle-income taxpayers to afford. However, others say the majority of the wealthiest taxpayers in the city are small business owners, managers, and professionals with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Some, including former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has warned of an income tax and what it could do to business in the city. “In Seattle’s case, it is a beautiful place to live,” he said. “It is a place, now, that is a center of talent in the tech industry, and success and talent will breed startups and more of that sort of thing. What are the things that can undo it? Unfavorable business climate.”

An income tax would be included in that “unfavorable business climate.”

DCG

Facebook Gives Staff Green Light to Join May 1 Political Protests

From Bloomberg: Facebook Inc. said it won’t punish employees who take time off to join pro-immigrant protests on May 1. And, in a nod to security staff, janitors, shuttle-bus drivers and others who work for Facebook contractors on campus, the company also said it will investigate if any of its vendors illegally crack down on their employees’ protest rights.

“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesman wrote in an emailed statement. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”

Facebook notified employees of its policy in a posting on an internal forum April 14. A spokesman said it applies regardless of whether workers notify the company ahead of time. The Menlo Park, California, company also said it would re-evaluate its ties to any vendor if it breaks the law that protects workers’ rights to organize and protect themselves.

“It’s important not just to the engineers and H-1B holders that are traditionally thought of as the immigrants in tech but also to folks who are subcontracted but work side-by-side on those campuses,” said Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising, a union-backed coalition. “Immigrants play a critical role in the tech sector — both as engineers and coders but also in keeping tech campuses running smoothly.”

Many tech companies have been vocal in their opposition to aspects of Trump’s agenda. Facebook has criticized Trump’s immigration moves. At a rally in January at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin spoke against Trump’s executive order that closed U.S. borders to people from several majority-Muslim nations. Both companies, along with Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., are among more than 120 firms that signed a February court filing opposing the travel ban.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

How to prevent Windows 10 from sending Microsoft every keystroke you type

Do you use Windows 10?

If so, you should know that, as reported by Mary-Ann Russon reports for IB Times, March 22, 2017:

Windows has been quietly logging every single keystroke users make on their keyboards from the beginning. Even better, that data is being constantly sent to Microsoft’s servers on a regular basis.

We’re not sure why on earth Microsoft would want users’ keystrokes, as this data is only really useful to cybercriminals seeking to crack passwords to steal sensitive data….

So what can you do about this truly awful security breach?

Here’s IBTimes‘ advice:

(1) If you plan to but haven’t yet installed Windows 10

  • When you install Windows 10, select “custom install”.
  • Read all the options on the installation window carefully, and make sure you always select ‘no’ for all options relating to sending data to Microsoft. It is also safe if you simply choose to just say ‘no’ to all options – it will not affect your usability on Windows 10.

(2) If you already have Windows 10

  • Go to “Start“.
  • Scroll down the “Start” menu.
  • Select “Settings” -> “Privacy” -> “Change Privacy Options“.
  • Turn off the option that reads, “Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future“.
  • To be safe, restart your computer after selecting this option.
  • Make sure you periodically revisit Start, Settings, Privacy, and the “Send Microsoft info” option because Microsoft can turn on that option during its monthly Patch Tuesday through the automatic Windows Updates function.

IB Times has other suggestions on how to select which Windows Updates you want, and how to disable Windows Update completely, which is not advisable because you could risk missing critical patches from Microsoft. Click here.

~Eowyn

Amazon, Microsoft, other titans team up for transgenders to use restrooms of their choice

Bullies trying to force their choices on the rest of society regardless of accepted standards of privacy. As if I needed another reason to despise Microsoft.

transgender bathroom

Via Seattle Times: A coalition of corporate heavyweights Friday evening planned to announce its opposition to the initiative campaign seeking to restrict access to bathrooms and locker rooms for transgender people.

The endorsement list for Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate features a host of local, regional and national players, including Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Adobe, Airbnb, Microsoft, Vulcan and Google. A news release says the number of businesses tops 150.

The formal announcement will come Friday night at the Amazon Event Center, with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Vicci Martinez, a finalist in the TV show “The Voice,” leading the event. The coalition adds to a number of political and community members opposed to proposed Initiative 1515.

The I-1515 campaign, Just Want Privacy, will need to turn in about 246,000 valid signatures by July 8 to get the initiative on the ballot. Joseph Backholm, one of the campaign’s leaders, acknowledged Friday that his group may not get enough signatures.

I-1515 would amend state anti-discrimination law so access to “private facilities” could be limited to those who are “biologically” male or female regardless of their gender identity, according to a summary of the ballot measure.

It also calls for restricting state and local regulations regarding gender-identity discrimination and permitting lawsuits against schools that allow access to facilities based on gender identity.

The businesses gathering Friday “are really standing up against discrimination,” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for Washington Won’t Discriminate.

Businesses also oppose the initiative because, she said, “they are not able to compete unless they are able to attract the best employees, some of whom are transgender men and women,” Weiner said. (Oh please….at least be honest and just admit you are pushing a progressive policy. Out of 100 people, two might be transgender. And what are the odds that those two people are going to be the best employees that fit their needs in their specific field? Pretty slim, IMO.)

Laws similar to I-1515 in other states, such as North Carolina, have sparked economic boycotts by businesses and entertainers.

I-1515 comes after a state regulation by the Human Rights Commission took effect in December, guaranteeing access to locker rooms, restrooms and similar facilities according to an individual’s gender identity. It affects public and private buildings, including schools, restaurants, stores and most places of employment. The commission has said the rule just clarifies a 2006 state law.

But it ignited a backlash among some conservatives and others who said they worry such access could let sexual predators more easily enter private spaces and potentially harm women or children.

Just Want Privacy has gathered about 25,000 signatures, according to its website. The group hasn’t drawn the large contributions often necessary to organize a statewide ballot campaign. Public records show it has raised about $126,000, with $7,500 spent on paid signature gatherers.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Backholm, who is also executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.  Backholm said he was unaware of the Friday event by Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate.

DCG

Just How Bad Is ObamaCare Website? Well Let Me Tell You. It’s Unfixable According To Some Experts.

Why? Because it is a big fat bloated pig with 500 Million Lines of code.

Ok I’m no techno weenie so just how big is 500 million lines of code? Keep reading and you will find out. 

Opp's there goes another one.

Opp’s there goes another one.

(Hey Boss I need to requisition a new laptop. Umm, my dog ate it.)  

OK, the dog did not eat it.

OK, the dog did not eat it.

——————————————————————————————

NEW YORK (CNNMoney    First Published: October 23, 2013: 7:04 AM ET

Experts say the major problems with the Obamacare website can’t reasonably be solved before the end of 2013, and the best fix would be to start over from scratch.

Yeah, what he said. Uh Huh!

Yeah, what he said. Uh Huh!

After assessing the website, Dave Kennedy, the CEO of information-security companyTrusted Sec, estimates that about 20% of Healthcare.gov needs to be rewritten. With a whopping 500 million lines of code, according to a recent New York Times report, Kennedy believes fixing the site would probably take six months to a year.

But would-be Obamacare enrollees only have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage starting at the beginning of 2014. Nish Bhalla, CEO of information-security firm Security Compass, said it “does not sound realistic at all” that Healthcare.gov will be fully operational before that point.

“We don’t even know where all of the problems lie, so how can we solve them?” Bhalla said. “It’s like a drive-by shooting: You’re going fast and you might hit it, you might miss it. But you can’t fix what you can’t identify.”

Several computer engineers said it would likely be easier to rebuild Healthcare.gov than to fix the issues in the current system. But it’s unlikely that the government would toss out more than $300 million worth of work.

The sheer size of Healthcare.gov is indicative of a major rush job. Rolling the site out too quickly likely increased the number of errors, and that makes the fixes more difficult to implement.

“Projects that are done rapidly

( May I ask didn’t they have like 3 years to build this?)

usually have a lot of [repetitive] code,” said Arron Kallenberg, a software engineer and tech entrepreneur. “So when you have a problem, instead of debugging something in a single location, you’re tracking it down all through the code base.”

To put 500 million lines of code into perspective, it took just 500,000 lines of code to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. Microsoft’s

(MSFTFortune 500)

 Windows 8 operating system reportedly has about 80 million lines of code.

And an online banking system might feature between 75 million and 100 million lines.

A “more normal range” for a project like Healthcare.gov is about 25 million to 50 million lines of code, Kennedy said.

“The [500 million lines of code] says right off the bat that something is egregiously wrong,” said Kennedy. “I jumped back when I read that figure. It’s just so excessive.”

Applicants might be able to at least register for Obamacare sooner than that, even if the site isn’t 100% perfect. The New York Times report said five million lines of code need to be replaced just so the site can run properly.

But the Obamacare website has bigger problems than simply getting people registered for health care. The code is also riddled with security holes, according to Kennedy, who outlined his cybersecurity concerns on Trusted Sec’s company blog.

“If someone can’t register, that’s obviously bad –– but if the information gets hacked, you’re talking about one of the biggest breaches in American history,” Kennedy said. “I think security is an afterthought at this point.”

( The security and hacking is a story unto itself. It is very bad. I’ll do a follow up tomorrow)

That might not be a major issue now, as people are still having trouble logging onto the site. But once it’s up and running, that code had better be made more secure.

“At this point, the car isn’t even moving,” Bhalla said. “But once we’re speeding down the road, you’re going to want that seatbelt to work.” To top of page

Here is a graph to help you understand how much code is in things. The more code, the more things go wrong. KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

1276_lines_of_code5500 million

~Steve~

http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/23/technology/obamacare-website-fix/