Why the Democrats lost the White House

Obamacare !

Now with an election that was so insanely close …
We’re talking tens of thousands of votes in an election of 120 million votes, so less than 1/10 of 1%. In other words, if 40,000 of the right people had voted for Hillary rather than Trump, she would have been president.
… there could be any number of reasons why Trump ended up winning rather than Hillary. But, most of them have been named by the media and those are obviously fairly well known. I am talking about a problem that has been continuing to this day.

The media obviously had a huge impact in this, and really any election since the invention of the newspaper. And the media obviously is also the reason Trump got past the very first primary in the first place. The media gave Trump an estimated $1.8 Billion in free coverage. More than three times what any other candidate received. It could even be argued than Bernie would now be president had he received the same kind of coverage.

It seems completely off-topic in this discussion, but a lot of people are making fun of the guys who voted for Trump, welcome the repeal of Obamacare and dread losing the Affordable Care Act.

And here is where all that comes together. The media, on several issues, is adopting the GOP’s wording of things. On the left it’s likely because Obamacare is an object of pride, an object of accomplishment. On the right the name Obama obviously doesn’t receive the same kind of reaction, and Obamacare is used to degrade the law. In the center, though, where it probably matters the most “Obamacare” is just more catchy than “Affordable Care Act”. And that’s where my problem is today.

If the media, even if we exclude the right wing, had called the law by the right and proper name, considering the insanely close election, and considering that some people didn’t know that there’s no difference, could have probably made a difference.

The media as a whole never really got around to explaining that Obamacare and the ACA are the exact same thing. Most people just assumed that the voter is reasonably educated on the choices that they’re making. Historically that is not the case. The right explains what their intentions are, the left explains what the right’s intentions are, but neither of them actually explain the implications, beyond a few buzz-words and numbers anyway. Yes they said that millions of people would lose their insurance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those people are worse off. Which they are.

So even today you hear about the Obamacare repeal on all sides. And Obamacare is not a popular law. The ACA is hugely popular, though, and (just to make the point again) is Obamacare.

So please, if you’re covering the Obamacare repeal, or all the attempts on it that have been made, and are continuing to be made, call it the Affordable Care Act. It might make a difference. It might shift the public view in favor of keeping it. It might educate at least some voters on what the republicans are trying to do. And for the record, they’re trying to get rid of it mostly because of the name. The law, as it was passed, was over 90% similar to a plan proposed by republicans. The GOP wrote Obamacare. Now they want to replace it with their own plan.

Trump’s Travel Ban

and why it’s bullshit

I know I shouldn’t call it Trump’s travel ban, because it’s not a ban it’s obviously Bannon’s idea. And I do feel bad for people protesting Trump when he obviously doesn’t make many of the decisions.

As most of you know (sadly not many of the GOP supporters do) people can’t just decide to book a flight to the US and expect to be let into the country. There’s a visa waiver program, which itself was severely limited in the past years. So if you are a citizen of a small number of countries, and you let the US border patrol know at least 2 days in advance, you don’t need to apply for a visa to enter the US. Even then the border patrol can just decide to just send you back for any and no reason at all without letting you enter the country.

For the people in the countries affected by the ban, however, there is no visa waiver program.  To even get a visa they have to go through a visa application, they have to go to a consulate or embassy, they have to get their bio-metric data taken. To apply for a visa you have to always pay a visa application fee, which is non-refundable. To get any non-immigrant visa approved the applicant needs to provide sufficient proof that they will leave the country before the visa expires.

For student visas the process also includes having to pay tuition to the school that they’re going to attend. So the people that just had their visas revoked already had to make significant financial contributions which at least partly will not be returned. They already had to go through background checks and some scrutiny.

The green card holders that were initially included in the ban likely went through a process of more than a year. With some serious review of their applications.

In short: All of the people that were included in the ban came through a very rigorous process and were deemed to be safe to come to the US.

There was no risk coming from those people entering the US.

It was a ban born from hatred of Muslims, not from a desire to make America safer.

The Bathroom debate

I can honestly not believe we’re having this discussion in the 21st century.

So as you may have not been able to escape heard about the debate on which bathrooms people should use…. here’s the deal: Republican state legislators in quite a few states are passing bills that would restrict the bathrooms to people matching the gender on their birth certificates. Have we had an issue before that would have been solved by these laws ? of course not.

So why would we make these laws now ? Fairly obviously to discriminate against transsexuals. Here’s why: As noted in the previous paragraph the laws go by the birth certificate. So even if you have legally changed your gender and are considered a woman you’re forced into the men’s bathroom. Why would that make sense to anyone ? No one is taking their birth certificate anywhere, so the law is extremely hard to enforce. Unless you want to just arrest people on suspicion of not being the gender they claim to be. So then you would have to arrest about 25 people for every one case where you’ll find someone whose gender doesn’t match their birth certificate. Obviously there isn’t one look that all transgender people share.

So with all these laws that are obviously well thought through…. They’re forcing people who went through all the therapy and possibly surgery to change their gender into the wrong bathroom. They’re making people with a beard, with a very male physique, with a penis go into the women’s bathroom. They’re making people with boobs, long hair, wearing dresses, with a vagina use the men’s bathroom.

Does that make sense ?

Why do we have a problem with a person in a dress going to the women’s bathroom ?

How many people have put on a dress, gone into a women’s bathroom, and raped someone ? Raped a minor ? Please tell me, because I haven’t heard of a single case.

So with all these issues that we haven’t had, we’re creating a law with a sole purpose of discriminating against people.

Should we discriminate ? Should we judge people ?

Now I’m a guy, with a beard and short hair, I have a 6 year old daughter. Can I take her to the bathroom ? Clearly now I’m violating the law if I go to the women’s bathroom with her. Clearly she’s violating the law if she goes into the men’s room with me. What really is the accepted behavior here ?

My next big Adventure

As you may know (I have an about me page that you’ve certainly devoured….) I’m married, have 2 children, and am German (2 of those aren’t actually on said page….).

Now I have finally received permission to reenter the United States of America. A process that was started in 2013, which in the grand scheme of things and considering all the hurdles, wasn’t actually too long. I might write more about that whole process later, since it’s all fairly interesting and a lot of people (cough) conservatives (cough) clearly have no idea how any of it works. (No you can’t just decide to come to america. No they don’t let people with Ebola just walk across the border).

So now (or …. soon) comes the time to actually move to America (yes I’ll call it that regardless of it annoying people who know that America is actually a continent). Which means that besides the horrible difficulties of moving, the horrible difficulties of being poor (and broke) and the horrible difficulties of airlines now thinking 2 ounces is too much luggage for a family of four…. We somehow have to carefully decide what stuff is precious enough to take and then somehow try to move via airplane.

Obviously the children are thrilled to go (one hasn’t seen her biological father in years, both haven’t seen their mother’s side of the family in years), neither is thrilled about leaving essentially all of their stuff behind. They have a shitload of toys from 4 Christmas’s (what’s the plural of Christmas anyway ?) and birthdays and all the stuff in between. And the great majority of them is going to see the inside of a trash can. And we have no money to replace them…. It’s going great so far !

Obviously we’ll be taking most of the clothes we have…. also a good time to sort them and throw away a whole lot…. and maybe some electronic devices that are easier to take than to replace.

Unfortunately the medical problems of my wife make it near impossible for me to find work since it makes a lot of things far worse if I leave and she has to deal with everything by herself. She is on disability, but the american social security system really doesn’t have a lot of room for things past the basic necessities. Which is something that way too many Americans are way too comfortable with, but I digress.

So with both of our families never even making it into the middle class neither is really able to help any, we are struggling to even get enough money together to pay for the plane tickets, much less being able to send some stuff by mail rather than having to replace it at an unspecified later time.

We’re planning on making the trip in late April or early May. Currently we’re waiting on two documents that still need to be sent to the US consulate and I will be receiving my visa shortly after that. Probably around the middle of April, hopefully slightly sooner.

In case you’d like to help me, I have started a gofundme campaign.

Thank you for reading all this.

Gratis Mentalität

Heise hat gerade eine Newsmeldung veröffentlicht unter dem Titel Mit Sky, Netflix und Co. weg von der Gratismentalität, in dem aus den vorliegenden Daten völlig verkerte schlüsse gezogen werden. Eigentlich ist offensichtlich was passiert, aber man muss trotzdem alles negativ verkaufen.

(zitat) “Die Zahlungsbereitschaft bei den Zuschauern wird sogar noch größer werden, weil jetzt die Angebote da sind”, vermutete Medienforscher Klaus Goldhammer. (zitat ende)

Die Zahlungsbereitschaft war immer da. Die Angebote nicht. Ich hatte sogar schon mal darüber geschrieben…. Wenn uns jemand ende der 90er Jahre gesagt hätte “Du kannst Musik haben so viel du willst, für 10€ im Monat”, wir hätten alle gesagt “Ja bitte”. Nicht nur das, wir hätten nicht napster heruntergeladen um Musik kostenlos zu haben. Kazaa hätte es gar nicht gegeben, genause wie limewire und alle anderen.

Die Bereitschaft der Produzenten die Musik für den Preis anzubieten wir einfach nicht da. Die Bereitschaft ist teilweise immer noch nicht da. Wenn Taylor Swift ihre Musik nicht bei Spotify anbieten will (obwohl sie jedes Jahr millionen bekommt), dann liegt das nicht an der Gratismentalität.

Ja, die Mentalität ändert sich, langsam. Aber nicht bei den Konsumenten. Wir konnten uns CDs kaufen, aber nicht sehr lange. Die längste Zeit waren “CDs” auf dem Markt die sich eigentlich so nicht nennen durften, weil der Kopierschutz nicht standardkonform war. Also konnte man die “CDs” auch nicht überall abspielen.

Das muss man sich in der heutigen Zeit mal vorstellen. Man kauft sich eine CD, nicht nur weil man die Musik mag, nicht nur weil man von der Werbung eingeschüchtert wird das Raubkopierer in den Knast kommen, sondern weil man die Musiker unterstützen will. Und dann kann man die Musik nicht hören wegen dem Kopierschutz. Wenn man ne mp3 herunterläd kann man die fast überall hören. Aber wenn man bezahlt bekommt man etwas was, vom komfort her, deutlich schlechter ist.

Man stellt sich vor man will ein Regal bauen. Am Straßenrand findet man das perfekte Regalbrett. Aber man geht lieber 5km weiter in den Baumarkt und lässt sich eins zuschneiden. Und dann bezahlt man im Baumarkt für ein Regalbrett das völlig Krumm ist und für das Regal nur die hälfte nutzbar ist.

Die Mentalität war schon immer die gleiche. Wir hätten gerne auch damals für das gezahlt was wir jetzt angeboten bekommen. Auch den gleichen Preis den wir jetzt bezahlen. Es hat nur keiner angeboten.

Und jetzt….

Wir sehen noch immer eine Werbung dafür wie schlimm raubkopieren ist. Fast alle Filme die wir kaufen haben so etwas. Fast alle Filme die wir kaufen haben Intros oder Vorschauen die man nicht überspringen kann…. Raubkopierte Filme nicht.

Aber hier ist wenigstens Netflix zur Stelle. Raubkopieren ist mitlerweile (wenig….. sehr wenig) schwieriger als für Filme zu bezahlen. Allerdings sollten sich die Produzenten auch hier mal gedanken machen ob man nicht alles für alle lizensiert, also nicht einiges bei netflix sehen kann, anderes nur bei Amazon, anderes nur bei Watchever…. Weil es wird sich keiner finden der Abos für alle bezahlt. Es werden sich aber sehr viele Leute finden die ein Netflix Abo haben und sehr sauer sind, dass sie nicht alles sehen können was sie wollen.

Also !

Hört auf über die Gratismentalität zu meckern. So wie Ihr das dastellt ist es nie gewesen. Es war nur einfacher etwas gratis zu bekommen als dafür zu bezahlen. Und das sollte euch zu denken geben.

Zero day exploits in Windows

And why Microsoft isn’t happy with Google.

So far this year Google has released information for 3 (fairly) major security holes in windows that could be exploited for a variety reasons. Obviously mostly trojans wanting banking information and the likes.

Microsoft isn’t happy because they were working on a patch for the last 2, with one of the patches being released only 2 days after Google released the exploit, the other one (released today) had a patch pushed from January to the February patch day because they weren’t happy with the patch.

So one would think that Microsoft is right and Google is wrong.

I happen to disagree.

One of the reasons that Google (and other people who publish exploits) have such a tight schedule is that security holes, even after the people responsible were notified, had a tendency of staying unpatched for a very long time. Microsoft’s internet explorer in particular had a reputation for being vulnerable to exploits that Microsoft had known about for over a year. These days Microsoft is doing a much better job. But Microsoft isn’t doing a much better job because they feel the need to make their products more secure (although much has changed and they actually do), but because they now know that the exploits will be released after 90 days.

Many companies have proven that it’s possible to fix vulnerabilities within 90 days. Even Microsoft isn’t doing so bad usually. One has to consider, though, that Windows contains millions of lines of code. So some hidden bugs could be fairly hard to track down. They also do have some of the best programmers working on it, though, so this really shouldn’t be an issue.

If Google is being consistent and doesn’t, for example, give RIM extra time to work on a patch, I think this is a good thing. I think 90 days is enough time. I think Microsoft is capable of providing patches for their products in time, with no problems. I just don’t think that they’re making this a priority. Or they need to streamline their project management and have the right people working on stuff in time.

I really don’t think Microsoft needs 60 days to work on a patch, so I think that they just started late. Start early, have the right people working on it and none of this will be a problem.

Party line vote attack ads

or X has voted with Obama Y% of the time.

In a fairly interesting development there are now attack ads on candidates that solely focus on how much they voted with Obama. Interestingly enough though Obama used the same tactic when it was Obama vs McCain for president.

Why does that bother me ? It does not. The implications do bother me, though.

So we live in a world where most of the voting happens along party lines. That much is obvious to pretty much anyone. But now the republicans are implying that the gridlock that is now part of D.C. is the fault of the democrats that keep voting with Obama. Obviously this also rallies the republican base.

If the democrats now made attack ads about how much the republicans vote along party lines, or against any democratic bill, nothing the ad says would be news to anyone, and it wouldn’t get anyone to vote, or even change the way they would have been voting. We have actually come to a point where republicans can freely admit and advertise that they vote against any bill of the democrats and it won’t cost them a whole lot of votes. It might even actually get them some votes. But they can “attack” the democrats on doing the exact same thing. Hypocrisy now knows another level.

Now here is what actually bothers me about the whole thing: All the ads are focusing on is how much the democrats vote with the president. Nothing at all is said about what bills they voted on, if they approve or deny certain bills. The content of the bills they vote on is completely irrelevant. It could be a bill preventing people from clubbing baby seals and all the democrats vote for it… doesn’t matter, voted with the president.

Jobs bill, ending government shutdown, obamacare, you’d bet the democrats voted with Obama. Why is that ? All of them are insanely popular with broad support among any demographic (except for that last one in the conservative rich white demographic, maybe).

So now we have attack ads that attack the democrats for passing bills that enjoy the support of far over 60% of the voters and the worst thing is: it works.

The republicans shutdown the government over obamacare, vote to repeal obamacare over 40 times, when it’s such a huge step into the right direction that no one in the general public really questions anything about it anymore, except for the personal mandate. Discrimination against preexisting conditions, no one wants that. Preventive care is paid for, everyone wants that. Medicare expansion allowing less fortunate people to get emergency help, everyone wants that.

But none of that matters, because what individual bills you vote on doesn’t factor into the ads anymore. The simple fact that you vote with the president is enough to rally people to vote republican.

Please people, focus on the issues. This almost seems like a foreign concept these days, but look at what the candidates have voted on and how they have voted. Don’t focus on statistics.

Obamacare has such broad support and republicans still run on the platform of repeal obamacare.

Background checks for all gun sales has 90%+ support of the general public. And yet almost all republicans vote against that bill.

Republicans shut down the government over obamacare in a last ditch effort to stop it from taking effect. And somehow they get reelected. Please don’t let that happen. Don’t let them waste hundreds of millions of dollars on posturing and circumventing democracy.

Whichever way you decide to vote, make it about the issues and not the person. Vote for the person who is more likely to improve your situation or the situation of the nation as a whole. Don’t vote for someone who wants to give tax breaks to the top 10%. Don’t vote for someone who creates or extends tax loopholes or even subsidies for companies who make billions of dollars every year. Don’t vote for someone who wants to cut social security for the people who already are hit hardest by the recession. None of this helps you, or the country.

Epson Workforce 2540 Review

I have recently bought the Epson Workforce 2540 (Amazon.com, Amazon.de), after my other Epson printer died. Luckily it was fairly shortly after buying that one, and I’m assuming just a random occurrence.

I went for Epson because they have recently (a few years ago) abandoned their Laser Printer department and focused completely on Inkjet technology. They now make printers who print faster and cheaper than most laser printers. And that while cutting power and not putting out toner dust or ozone. I don’t really print enough for a laser printer to make sense, and I don’t print so infrequently that the inkjet will dry out. So I decided to go for the Inkjet.

I decided to go for that specific model because I really wanted to have an automatic document feeder, it also has Ethernet and WiFi. Setup was reasonably easy (would probably have been flawless had I not had the drivers for the other Epson still on the machine).

The printer is amazingly fast. As fast as, or faster than, a laser printer. Definitely gets the first page out a lot sooner, even if it’s just getting turned on for printing. Quality also doesn’t lack anything, cost of one page is reasonable. There’s XL cartridges available in case you print a lot.

The scanner also doesn’t leave anything to be desired, Quality is good, speed is a bit slow, but manageable. The Software that has to be installed is pretty good. I really like that it can just scan multipage PDFs and even rearrange pages or delete pages and scan them again.

The Automatic document feeder, which again was the reason I went with this model, is pretty bad. It’s pretty slow and doesn’t always pull the pages in straight. It does work quite nicely besides that, though. If you do want to scan a lot of pages I would definitely advise getting a standalone scanner (either in addition to this printer, or getting a cheaper printer with it).

Overall I’m very happy with this printer. Haven’t used the document feeder as much as I had intended to, however.

Your stuff will break !

This isn’t really a prediction so much as a general point, both to consumers and to companies.

Ever since the end of life of windows XP we get a lot of people coming into the store to either replace their computer or upgrade to a new operating system. We currently charge 105€ for the license and 79€ for the Install. There actually are people thinking about doing it. Laptops with Windows XP preinstalled are usually over 5 years old. Windows 7 came out in 2009 and replaced windows XP fairly quickly on new computers.

Now here’s the point I’m trying to make: After 5 years you should consider your computer to be dead. You should not spend money on anything that you can’t move to a new computer. The license you can obviously use for all other computers you’ll ever buy (one at a time :p), but 79€ for installation (about $100) of an operating system for a computer that may very well break the very next day ? That seems like a fairly bad deal.

People keep thinking that the stuff they buy will just stick around forever. People think you buy a computer and that’s it. You now have a computer. When in reality it’s more of a continuing cost that they now have to pay. You buy a computer you really need to budget a new computer every 5 years, because that’s about how long you can count on it lasting on average. It’s even worse for a company. You get a new employee you need a new computer. When in reality you should be looking at it like a continuing cost. You need a computer every 3 years (sooner if you need it for programming, CAD, etc), you need a new monitor (or 2) every 5 years, hell you should probably replace the chairs at least every 10 years. Now with some numbers (computer $1k, monitors $500, chair $1k) you get a yearly cost of $500 for the computer, $100 for the monitor(s) and $100 for the chair. Or in a month you can budget $45, $10 and $10. Which means it’s less than $100 per month on all that stuff. Not really a big overhead at all. Even the up front cost of hiring someone isn’t actually that significant. A new employee probably costs you around $3k at least, you pay the same amount again and don’t have to worry about anything for 2 years.

Luckily computers these days aren’t really big ticket items anymore (unless you’re a serious gamer and want to have amazing graphics that you can ignore while actually playing (in most games you don’t have time to appreciate the graphics while playing)). It’s worse with other, more expensive items. People buy a car and don’t save up for a new one until it’s so worn down that you know it’s going to break soon. People don’t actually budget money for maintenance and repairs half the time. Some people don’t even budget stuff like gas, oil and insurance. So obviously your car breaks down at the worst possible time, you just bought a new TV, moved to a new apartment. Now you have to spend money to repair the car you really should have planned on getting replaced next year.

Disney Fastplay

I’m sorry if the Headline mislead you into coming here (I’m not), I really am (I’m really not). This has literally nothing to do with Disney.

I just appreciate Fastplay so much. And not just because the children lose their remote every 3 minutes. I’m just wondering why years after Disney made fastplay I still have to press play on the movies I watch.

Seriously, who in the world puts a movie into a dvd player that he’s not going to watch ? He’s going to want it to play I guarantee it.