Apple Commits $2.5 Billion to Combat California Housing Crisis



Apple announced a comprehensive $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California. The funding commitment to California is expected to take approximately two years to be fully utilized depending on the availability of projects.

California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted: “The cost of housing in California is the defining concern for millions of families. It can only be fixed by building more housing. This partnership with the state of California will do just that – thank you Apple for stepping up.”

The $2.5 Billion Apple Commitment includes
:

$1 billion affordable housing investment fund: The $1 billion commitment to the state of California is a first-of-its-kind affordable housing fund that will provide the state and others with an open line of credit to develop and build additional new, very low-to moderate-income housing faster and at a lower cost.

$1 billion first time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund: Working with the state, this first-time homebuyer fund will provide aspiring homebuyers with financing and down payment assistance. Apple and the state will explore strategies to increase access to first-time homeownership opportunities for essential service personnel, school employees, and veterans.

$300 million Apple-owned land will be available for affordable housing: Apple intends to make available land it owns in San Jose worth approximately $300 million for the development of new affordable housing.

$150 million Bay Area housing fund: In a public-private partnership, Apple is launching a new $150 affordable housing fund with partners including Housing Trust Silicon Valley to support new affordable housing projects. The fund will consist of long-term forgivable loans and grants.

$50 million to support vulnerable populations: Apple will donate $50 million to support Destination: Home’s efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley. Apple will focus its contribution on driving systemic change across the many factors affecting homelessness. Apple will also be identifying similar efforts in Northern and Southern California focusing on strategies that both end and prevent homelessness.

When my husband and I moved to California years ago, we learned how difficult it was to find affordable housing. It is clear that California has a huge problem with this issue, and I suspect the cost of housing is one factor that leads to homelessness. My hope is that Apple’s commitment will improve the lives of people who are struggling.


The Internet Archive is Making Wikipedia More Credible



The Internet Archive announced that is has transformed 130,000 references to books in Wikipedia into live links for 50,000 digitized Internet Archive books in several Wikipedia language editions (including English, Greek, and Arabic). The result of this ongoing work could make Wikipedia more credible because users will be able to source material in a single click.

Students are often instructed not to use Wikipedia as a source in their research papers. One reason for that is likely because some of the claims on a typical Wikipedia page lack links to the source material. Sentences on Wikipedia that lack sources are given a “citation needed” label that instantly helps users know that the sentence may not be accurate. Some teachers allow students to start with Wikipedia – but do not allow Wikipedia itself to be used as a source.

The Internet Archive provided an example of how they are improving Wikipedia.

For example, the Wikipedia article on Martin Luther King Jr. cites the book To Redeem the Soul of America, by Adam Fairclough. That citation now links directly to page 299 inside the digital version of the book provided by the Internet Archive. There are 66 cited and linked books on that article alone.

Anyone reading Wikipedia who wants to see more information on a source can click on the link provided. They can see a couple of pages to preview that book. Those who want to read more (such as students who are writing a research paper) can borrow the digital copy of that book using Controlled Digital Lending. The Internet Archive says Controlled Digital Lending is “analogous to how they borrow physical books from their local library.”

Wired reported that The Internet Archive was in a unique position to improve Wikipedia. Their Wayback Machine service has archived 387 billion webpages since 2001. It has also been digitizing books and other analog media, and has scanned 3.8 million books. The project is ongoing and The Internet Archive is seeking people who want to help with it.


Facebook will not Fact-Check Political Ads



Those who use Facebook should view the political ads they see on the social media platform with a healthy dose of skepticism. CNN reported that Facebook will not fact-check political ads.

That means individual people will need to do their own research on whatever content those type of ads contain. Sadly, I don’t think that most people will bother to do their own fact-checking, especially for political ads that spread misinformation that matches the person’s political leanings.

Facebook released its decision to not fact-check political speech in September of 2019. Facebook stated that it does not believe it is appropriate for them “to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public scrutiny.”

That’s why Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party fact-checking program. We have had this policy on the books for over a year now, posted publicly on our site under eligibility guidelines. This means we will not send organic content or ads from politicians to our third-party fact-checking partners for review. However, when a politician shares previously debunked content including links, videos and photos, we plan to demote that content, display related information from fact-checkers, and reject its inclusion in advertisements.

That said, Facebook doesn’t appear to be adhering to the part about demoting ads that contain previously debunked content. The New York Times reported in October 2019 that a 30-second ad released by the Trump campaign provided misinformation about Joe Biden, and the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

According to The New York Times, the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down that ad. Facebook responded to the Biden campaign by saying the ad had been viewed five million times on the site, and declaring that the ad did not violate company policies.

Facebook’s decision to opt-out of fact-checking political ads extends to the UK. According to CNN, Facebook will not fact-check ads run by British political parties or the thousands of candidates running for election to the House of Commons. This comes as the UK is preparing for a historic December election regarding Brexit.


Fitbit to be Acquired by Google



Fitbit announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Google LLC for $7.35 per share in cash, valuing the company at a fully diluted equity value of approximately $2.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close in 2020, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Fitbit’s stockholders.

“More than 12 years ago, we set an audacious company vision – to make everyone in the world healthier. Today, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved towards reaching that goal.We have built a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users around the globe who rely on our products to live a healthier, more active, life,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why. The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used on Google ads.

Google posted on The Keyword about their definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit. The focus in this announcement is about wearables, and how Fitbit’s team of experts “can help spur innovation in wearables and build products to benefit even more people around the world.” Google also mentioned privacy.

But to get this right, privacy and security are paramount. When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data. Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit Health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.

I’m willing to believe that those who use Fitbit’s products trust the company not to do nefarious things with their health data. But, I’m not certain that those customers also trust Google.


Halloween Geek Creed #1402



I kick off the show giving a round of applause to the most awesome Halloween costume. Some parent earned some serious greek creed. Anyway back in the Michigan studio for the next couple of weeks. Moving into the loft could start as early as tomorrow so I have my fingers crossed that will be able to happen. Time to spread my wings and at the same time I am going to have to get busy in buying some furniture. I will likely document the move on facebook.

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Fenix LD30 Outdoor Flashlight



Big things come in a small package. The Fenix LD30 Outdoor flashlight has one of the most innovative designs I have seen in a while. When ordered with the ARB-L-18-3500u 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery you unlock some very cool features. First of all the battery is recharged directly by plugging into the battery I have never seen anything like it. This allows the flashlight to be 100% waterproof. Providing 1600 Lumens of lumination and a multi-selection switch to change intensity. The onboard sensor even indicates battery charge life.

Priced at $79.95 with the battery included this is an incredible flashlight packed in a small package.


MyCharge Product Reviews



MyCharge Product Reviews, I look at two products from MyCharge.com The UnPlugged 10k Wireless portable charging station priced at $69.99 with a battery capacity of 10,000mAh with two additional USB-A ports and the RazorExtreme PD 26,800mah battery capable of charging a compatible device at 45W with 2 USB-A ports, and 1 USB-C port priced at $99.99 designed for Small Laptops, Tablets & Smartphones.