Microsoft stops cash funding for GOP Republican Convention

Microsoft has said it will not provide cash support for the 2016 Republican National Convention a decision it says was made long before being pressured by advocacy groups began pressuring it to withdraw. Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s Head of Government Affairs, said the “software giant” will be providing technical support for the GOP convention and says they will not be changing any of their planned activities at the convention. However, Microsoft says the National Democratic Convention will have the same access to its products, but that it also plans to sponsor it.

The advocacy group Color of Change has been advocating that Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and other large corporations to withdraw sponsorship of the GOP Convention led by Donald Trump, “arguing that it equates to endorsing the candidate’s charged rhetoric.”

Color of Change is also petitioning Google to “Dump Trump,” however Google still says it will still live stream the convention. Color says this is a huge step toward improvement since the 2012 convention when Microsoft donated about $1.5 million which came from direct donations. Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson says it is asking companies such as Microsoft and others to stop advertising their products during the live-stream and also commercials at the convention.

The convention is said to take place in Cleveland on July 18 of this year.

Source: http://recode.net/2016/04/29/microsoft-says-it-will-not-provide-cash-support-to-the-republican-national-convention/

The “Bathroom Bill” is Backfiring

According to Mashable.com, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas are the latest two artists to cancel their shows in North Carolina due to the bill saying that transgender people must use the restroom according to their gender on their birth certificate.

Demi quoted, “North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law is extremely disappointing, and it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections.But we will not allow this to stop us from continuing to make progress for equality and acceptance. We know the cancelation of these shows is disappointing to our fans, but we trust that you will stand united with us against this hateful law.”

Jonas and Lovato are not the only artists to recently cancel shows in North Carolina due to the passing of the bill. Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam cancelled their tour dates to North Carolina as well. However, Father John Misty decided to go ahead and perform in the state but have all of the proceeds of the concert go towards repealing the bill.

It is nice to see that more and more artists are becoming aware of the discrimination in North Carolina and finding ways to combat it in their own ways. In my personal opinion, I do not believe this bill is helping the United States because it casts a bad image on the South and how much we can go against basic human rights and discriminate again people for doing something so simple as using the restroom. Not all Southerns are discriminatory, there are good ones out there, but the majority of us are being drowned out by those who would rather deny people their human rights than leave the issue alone as we did before.

Source: http://mashable.com/2016/04/25/demi-lovato-nick-jonas-north-carolina-cancelled/#46dATCTmokq3

Has Technology Gone Too Far?

Have you ever suspected a partner or spouse may be cheating on you? Worried that your pet may be jumping on your bed without you knowing?

Well, hello Durmet Smarttress! This Spanish-made mattress that can send a ping to your smartphone whenever your mattress is “in use.”

The Internet met this mattress with a lot of skepticism as to if it was even real, but the company spokesperson Antonio Muiño said Durmet Smarttress is, indeed, a real business and has been making sleep-related items since 2012. You may be asking yourself who is wanting to buy this type of mattress? Apparently multiple buyers according to the company, but they declined to say how many in total.

Although Spain is not the top European country when it comes to infidelity, Durmet is making a wise but bold movie by selling this type of technology. The question is, has technology gone too far when it comes to invading people’s homes, or does this just go to show how much, even couples and partners, cannot ever truly trust each other?

The app can send you information about your mattress’s happenings such as its speed, and intensity and impact per minute, and can also show pressure points. This can show if your dog, or potentially a cheater could be in your bed.

As Durmet concludes it includes their ad statement,”“If your partner isn’t faithful, at least your mattress is.”

Source: http://recode.net/2016/04/17/smart-mattress-bed-sex-cheat/

 

Chapter 11-3; Question 1

I was posed this question after reading an article by Lawrence Lessig where he claims that “digital tools” are “dramatically changing the horizon of opportunity for those who could create something new.” His question is: Are we restricting future creators by copy writing everything they can make money off of, or should we move towards a more free future?

As Lessig describes we are currently, due to the introduction of the WWB (World Wide Web), more things are becoming more readily available to us, legally or illegally, as far as content goes. He determines although we have no idea what the future of the internet holds, even the creators don’t know, we can still see glimpses of the future just ahead. “Yet there are elements of this future that we can fairly imagine. They are the consequences of falling costs, and hence falling barriers to creativity. The most dramatic are the changes in the costs of distribution but just as important are the changes in the cost of production. Both are the consequences of going digital: digital technologies create and replicate reality much more efficiently than nondigital technology does. This will mean a world of change.”

This being said: do we as a society have too many copyrights and restrictions on new creators to where they feel they cannot express what they want without being fined, or told that someone else already had that idea? Are we limiting ourselves as well as future creators by claiming more things than necessary?

And if so, what can we do to open up more doors to others and allow them to express themselves as well? Lessig says the answer is more free. “This is not a new question, though we’ve been well trained to ignore it. Free resources have always been central to innovation, creativity, and democracy.” Lessig is suggesting that we make companies and artists  allow more of their material to be free and easily accessible to the public’s use and further happiness.

 

 

How Far Would You Go To Erase Something?

University of North Carolina Davis had to ask this question recently, and discovered the hard truth behind one of their greatest shames: the 2011 UC Davis Pepper-spray incident. The Sacramento Bee reported that UC Davis went to great lengths to delete videos and images and came face to face with the phrase “internet is forever” on a personal level.

This incident occurred when police pepper-sprayed peaceful, Occupy Wall Street student protesters sitting, at very short range. The backlash that came from this event was shown in photos and videos taken by students at the time of the event and even turned into a viral meme featuring John Pike the most prominent officer of the situation. UC Davis tossed up a lot of money to hire two separate counseling  services to erase all of the its bad reputation and to erase the memory of the whole event. “UC Davis paid $90,000 to one consulting firm, Nevins & Associates, for a “proactive online brand and reputation enhancement campaign.” The firm promised to create positive content, place positive news stories with strategic media outlets, and strategically filter negative search results” (Romano 1).

Even after these two different firms were told to clean up UC Davis’s reputation, they both failed miserably in that the second thing to pop up in Google’s search engine when you type in “uc davis” is “uc davis pepper spray.”

” If an entity of its size and stature, which has the ability to fling hundreds of thousands of dollars at a problem, can’t erase negative search results from the web, how can any of the rest of us” (Romano)?  As much as we as a society don’t like to admit it, everything we say, do, or type on the internet is stored somewhere in a database, and we will never be able to get it back. It’s there forever, whether you find that to be a good thing or a bad thing, the choice is up to you.

Video of “UC Davis Pepper-spray incident:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmJmmnMkuEM

Source of article: http://www.vox.com/2016/4/15/11430462/uc-davis-pepper-spray-internet-history-revenge-porn

 

 

WARNING: Incoming Encryption Law

A bill has been raging though the courts and media, and already Silicon Valley is completely against it.

This bill “would require companies — from makers of “communications” devices like iPhones to secure messaging tools like WhatApp — to turn over information in response to a judge’s order.” This potential law was brought about after the recent starting of the San Bernardino FBI v. Apple case. This bill is essentially the Big Brother looking over communication apps shoulders and telling them they can either do it the government’s companies way, or the highway.

This law has a certain amount of lacking of technological solutions because it says that companies must simply hand over their information, or provide the government with technical assistance. It has the “no person is above the law” kind of tone.

But as Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says, “While companies should comply with lawful requests, it is simply not possible for a company to do so when a customer controls the only keys used to encrypt data.” So it becomes abundantly clear that this case, just like the Apple case, that the government thinks they can bully companies into helping them in a court case. But in reality, what they don’t realize, is that most of these apps or phones now a days used, are to some extent password protected or encrypted already. This means that, according to Daniel Castro, this bill is setting itself up to further cause confusion like in the FBI v. Apple case and will ultimately cause more harm that good.

As Gaurav Laroia, general counsel for the Free Press says, “If this dangerous bill passes, it would outlaw not just end-to-end encrypted communications but also the tools that protect our information from criminals, hackers and foreign governments working to undermine the security of millions of people and businesses. Our right to privacy should extend beyond in-person conversations to include communications made via the Internet and wireless networks. Encryption is the tool that makes this possible.”

So the question still remains, how far would we go to protect our privacy, and how willing is the government to know everything about us from our texts, emails, browser searchs, telephone calls? The answer is? They are getting greedy, now they want EVERYTHING.

Source: http://recode.net/2016/04/08/senate-draft-encryption-bill-dangerous/

Digital Divide

In our most recent reading of Chapter 10-1, our question asks us, “Beyond simply providing access to computer hardware and software, how should educators and policy makers concerned with closing the digital divide proceed?”

Jennifer S. Light says that, “For instance, some researchers approach the digital divide as a purely racial issue, while others combine race and socioeconomic status in their analysis.” She also says that especially in the United States, we don’t pause before assume that the digital divide will shrink if we just make it more readily available to people; that we think that educationally, socially, and economic inequalities will be eliminated. She also brings forth statistics that show that back in the 1970s and 1980s when handheld calculators were brought into the classroom. People thought that if would greatly increase performance  on standardized testing among all students. The results were quite the opposite. “Inequalities in outcomes for students, what really matters, did not substantially change, despite access to calculators.”

The question to be asked then is, even if we continue to increase access to computers and to technology as a whole, will that do anything to help close the digital divide, or is it simply that some people just don’t want to deal with technology?

My conclusion is that you cannot force people to go and learn new things about technology if they don’t want to. However, allowing more teachers and students to use media in the classroom setting ,instead of telling them not to, is a step in the right direction.

As Light says, “Historically, powerful political and commercial interests have shaped the ultimate form uses of technology. This profit orientation helps to explain why cable and other media have not realized their potential as broadly educational tools, particularly for self-improvement beyond the classroom…Without more prominent contributions from the education community, there is little reason to believe that the trend will be reversed.”

Autism Helped Through Apps

Autism is a disease that affects 1 in 68 children in the world according to the CDC. For most autistic children, speaking is a struggle. Today, more than 13 apps are now available in the App Store on Apple products from the iPad to an iPod touch that can allow these children to communicate better using apps to better enable their communications with others.

One of the more common apps used to help people with autism is called Proloquo2Go made by AssistiveWare: this app “can be customized to best fit the needs of individual users.” People can customize phrases put into different columns and select which phrase they would like to play such as “please”, “thank you”, or even “Mom.” This app was used in the UK by a child named Ruby. In her case it has helped significantly. Her teacher, Pauline Hoy Green, says in the video that Ruby would hit her up to 30 times each day, but since having the iPad, her behavior has improved 95% and she had not been hit all day. Ruby’s mother says that this technology enables Ruby to have a voice and describe through the words and pictures what she wants to communicate.

With all these apps becoming available to more and more people with the technology of Apple, more people with autism will be able to communicate better with everyone and won’t make them as afraid of not being able to be heard. For adults with autism as well, these apps can help with communicate if they go to a cafe for example, they can communicate with their waitress and tell them what they would like to order. This technology isn’t only better for people with autism personally, but their families and friends around them. Normally we think of technology as now a days becoming a bad thing, but we must remember that all the technology we currently have can change at anytime and can continue to grow!

Ruby’s Case: https://youtu.be/nBIcGXCEaTw

Source: http://mashable.com/2016/04/02/autism-apps/#NoqeOUOli8qQ