My Fix for the iOS 5.0.1 Contacts Glitch

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A good number of iPhone 4S users, including myself, have come across an odd glitch with the new 5.0.1 update that causes the message and phone apps to not display contacts’ names, rather only their number.  This error seems to only affect Verizon iPhone 4S users who updated over the air (OTA) rather than through iTunes.  After a little internet searching and about five minutes of fiddling around with my phone, I was able to fix the issue.  Follow these steps and it should fix the glitch:

– Dial *22899

– Once the service update is finished, restart your iPhone

– After it boots, double-tap the Home button to open the task manager, close all apps, and restart the phone again

This SHOULD fix the problem.  Oddly enough, this doesn’t seem like a problem with Apple or the 5.0.1 update since *22899 (the 99 is iPhone specific.  Generally you would dial *228) is Verizon’s number to call when you activate or update your iPhone’s service.  I don’t know how OTA iOS updates are handled since I’m new to the iPhone, but I know Google would give each carrier or phone hardware company an update to Android and then the carrier/hardware company would be responsible for pushing the update out.  If this is the same for iOS, maybe Verizon somehow pushed out a bad update or screwed up the update before allowing it to be downloaded.

Dispelling the Myth of the Liberal University

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We all have heard claims that university students in America are being brainwashed by their super-liberal professors and any differing opinion is quickly discouraged and/or shot down.  After spending four years of my life taking classes through one of these alleged liberal universities, I can safely say this stereotype is not fact.

Sure, there are some professors who are clearly left of center and there certain departments that are very liberal, but this isn’t the political leanings of every professor or every department within the university.  Typically, the social sciences like sociology, psychology, etc. are the extremely liberal ones whereas the business and economic colleges are very conservative.  I have taken at least four different economic classes and every professor strongly believed in the trickle down theory, better known as Reaganomics.  Additionally, all were huge believers in the free market and cringed at even the slightest amount of government regulation.

As an International Relations major, I have had an even mix of liberal and conservative professors.  The majority were fairly vocal with their beliefs, but none would shut down a student if he or she had a dissenting opinion and could defend the opinion with facts and logic.  Likewise, none tried to ram their beliefs down their classes’ throats.

I will be the first to admit that I may be slightly more liberal in my social beliefs than I was prior to going to college, but I don’t think that is a result of the university system or any of its professors.  A change in one’s ideology is primarily because of either becoming more educated in a certain area or of the differing culture with which he/she was exposed to while being away from home.  Personally, I now find myself more accepting of other viewpoints and I can more easily acknowledge valid reasonings in an opinion I may ultimately disagree with.

I still hold onto my conservative economic and social values, but I am willing to accept that there may be a differing opinion out there.  I may not agree with the opinion, but I am able to better understand where that other person is coming from and not disparage said person for believing in something that I do not.

Sheriff Christopher is Asking for Too Much

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By now, everyone and their mother has heard of the feud between Sheriff Jeff Christopher and the Sussex County Council, particularly with Councilman Vance Phillips.  For those of you who haven’t, though, the Sheriff has charged the County Council with trying to undermine the Sheriff’s office and to make it an appointed position.  The Council denies those allegations.  Christopher has also proposed a budget which is 33% larger than the operating budget from the last fiscal year which, in my opinion, contradicts the conservative message he campaigned on.  Nevertheless, it has become apparent to me that he is asking for much more than simply upgraded guns and cool new uniforms for his Barney Fife’s.  He clearly wants Sussex County to have its own police department.

To be fair, Christopher has not outright said this is his intentions, but listening to speeches he has given and when he called in to WGMD during Angel Clark’s interview with Vance Phillips last week, one can make a fairly good assumption.  He was slick with his wording, but he constantly used straw man arguments and hypothetical situations where his deputies would need police powers.  He argues that the Delaware constitution grants county sheriff offices with police power, but does it?  Councilman Phillips, who argues that Sheriff Christopher is wanting more than he can legally and fiscally afford, has the facts on his side.  Article XV says that the sheriff departments shall be “conservators of the peace”, but no clear definition is given.  In fact, judges and chancellors are also referred to as conservators of the peace but I doubt Judge Bill Lee took this description and thought he was granted police powers.  So, one must then refer to Delaware State Code to gain a complete understanding of the proper duties of the Sussex County Sheriff’s department.  Title 10, chapter 21 reads:

“Details the duties of the Sheriff.
Employing deputies, Attendance on courts, Summoning of jurors and witnesses, Sale of property, Entry of constable sales, etc.”

Title 11 goes into more detail:

“Law-enforcement officer” includes police officers, the Attorney General and the Attorney General’s deputies, sheriffs and their regular deputies agents of the State Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, correctional officers, state fire marshals, municipal fire marshals that are graduates of a Delaware Police Academy which is accredited/authorized by the Council on Police Training, sworn members of the City of Wilmington Fire Department who have graduated from a Delaware Police Academy which is authorized/accredited by the Council on Police Training, environmental protection officers, enforcement agents of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and constables.”

Still broad, but Chapter 19 is what should be focused on:

“Police officers; statewide authority. (a) For purposes of this section “police officer” means any police officer holding current certification by the Council on Police Training as provided by Chapter 84 of this title and who is a (1) A member of the Delaware State Police; (2) A member of the New Castle County Police; (3) A member of the police department, bureau or force of any incorporated city or town; (4) A member of the Delaware River and Bay Authority Police; (5) A member of the Capitol Police(6) A member of the University of Delaware Police; (7) A law enforcement officer of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; (8) An agent of the State Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement ; (9) An officer or agent of the State Office of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs(10) A state detective or special investigator of the Department of Justice; or(11) Delaware State University Police.”

This clearly describes who in the state has police powers, and the sheriff’s office is not included.  In order for Sheriff Christopher to get what he wants, he’ll have to have state officials change the office’s job description first.

From a more practical standpoint, a county police force is not fiscally responsible.  Currently Sussex County has a contract in place with the Delaware State Police where 40 additional police officers patrol the streets of Sussex specifically for a mere $1.5 million.  New Castle County’s police department costs roughly $50 million a year.  Now, I don’t think a Sussex police force would cost that much, but with benefits, healthcare, vehicles and maintenance, etc. the price tag would be much more than $1.5 million.

Councilman Phillips, who is leading the County Council’s side of the debate on this matter, is completely right.  Sheriff Christopher is asking for too much.  The Sussex County Sheriff’s office can not and should not be transformed into a full-fledged police force.


			

Nintendo 3DS: Is It Worth It?

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As you may or may not know, politics isn’t the only hobby I have that could probably label me as a geek.  I also love video games and being a 22 year old college student, I tend to play them a lot.  Additionally, my generation is obsessed with new tech and electronic toys to which I am no exception.  When I heard Nintendo was developing a new handheld device modeled after their highly successful DS that could produce actual 3D images without the need of 3D glasses, I was obviously intrigued.  I was also skeptical.  I can say that I am skeptical no longer, as I have the long-awaited successor to the DS in my possession.  After playing with it for the past week or so, I am very impressed.

If you have ever played a DS or any of its other three iterations (DSLite, DSi, DSiXL) you pretty much know the basics.  The 3DS features two screens, the top being the one that projects 3D and the bottom being the touch screen.  It features four face buttons (XYBA), two shoulder buttons, a directional pad, and an analog pad which is essentially the same as an analog stick you would find on a Xbox 360 or PS3 controller.  To the right of the 3D screen is a sliding toggle which allows the user to adjust the level of 3D the top screen portrays, or the 3D can be turned off completely.  I found the best results were with the slider around the 50% level.  If I had the slider all that way up, my eyes began to feel strained and sore.  This is different for everyone, though.  Some can handle full 3D while others can’t use it at all.

Honestly, the best feature isn’t the 3D but rather the analog pad.  Games like Ridge Racer are much easier to control and I have read that the DS’ Mario 64 feels much more fluid.  My only complaint is that Nintendo’s developers didn’t add a second analog pad to the right side of the device.  This would be better suited for first person shooters and for left-handed gamers who have a hard time using the stylus with the touch screen.  Hopefully, they include this on their next handheld.

The battery life on the 3DS is absolutely abysmal.  With 3D and Wi-Fi on, the system only gives you about 3 hours of playtime before you have to charge the system again.  With 3D turned off, screen brightness set to low, and Wi-Fi off the system can pump out about 5 hours of playtime.  Luckily, there are some solutions out there.  A company named Thanko has produced a wrist band battery that can recharge you phone, 3DS, iPod, and other portable electronic devices.  Nyko has made a battery that replaces the one currently on the 3DS and can support up to 6-10 hours of playtime.

A feature for any video game console that is in high demand here in the U.S. is the capability to play online multiplayer.  The DS had such capabilities, but it was a pain to fully experience what the DS had to offer.  Each game had separate “friend codes” for the individual user and the system could not tell you when your friends were online unless you were playing the same game.  Well, the 3DS makes things a whole lot easier.  Nintendo took a page out of Microsoft’s playbook and implemented similar features that are found on Xbox Live.  Now, each 3DS has one friend code that can be used with any game.  Once you register a friend’s friend code, you can see whenever your friend logs on.  Additionally, you can see what game your friend is playing and voice chat is fully supported.

The 3DS comes with 6 Augmented Reality cards, one of which accesses augmented reality games and the other five portray a 3D image of the Nintendo character on each respective card.  These games are actually pretty fun and are definitely something you have to see to appreciate.  In addition to the 3DS, I purchased two games: Super Street Fighter IV and Ridge Racer.  Both have graphics that rival later PSP games and the Wii.  I think they really show off what the 3DS is capable off, but I am excited to see what developers can eventually do once they have had a sufficient amount of time working with the technology.

For $249.99, the 3DS is a bit pricier than I would have liked, but I had a ton of old games that I had beaten and able to trade in, so I got it for roughly $30.  With future games such as Mario 3D, a port of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid 3D, the 3DS has a promising future.  The launch titles were lackluster overall, but the two I bought are regarded as two of the better ones currently available.  Since the system is backwards compatible with original DS games, the 3DS is a worthy investment if you feel you can part with $250.  If that is too expensive, then I would suggest waiting until the marquee games are available or for a price drop.  With better graphics, glasses-free 3D, more control options, and an online scheme similar to Xbox Live, I am happy with the system and highly recommend the 3DS to gamers of all ages.

Islamophobia Needs to Go

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Islam.  Muslim.  The mere utterance of such words in today’s American society sends chills up the spines of many citizens.  Such fear and ignorance has now gone so far that state legislators around the country have proposed bans on Sharia Law, and those who practice it will be charged with a felony.  To the uninformed, this is a good thing.  It is widely believed that the Sharia promotes violence towards those who do not practice Islam when in fact it does no such thing.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that by banning the Sharia here in America, we are actually banning the entire religion of Islam.  The Sharia consists of the entire Qur’an and the thousands of Hadiths which were originally spoken by the Prophet Muhammad.  Since Muslims believe everything Muhammad said was by  God (Allah, in Arabic), his words are divine.  There is some discrepancy among the different sects of Islam about which Hadiths are valid because some are hard to trace back directly to him, but all agree to adhere to the 5 Pillars of Islam.  How to practice Islam is found within Sharia, for it is a law based on religion rather than what us Americans consider laws which are secular in nature.  Thus, banning Sharia is banning the practice of Islam, which is in clear violation of the 1st Amendment.

The following verse is found in the 2nd Surah or, by a more Christian definition, the second chapter in the Qur’an:

[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

There are various other verses in the Qur’an in which God instructs Muslims to respect those of other faiths and not commit acts of violence against anyone, especially those of Abrahamic religions.  There are Hadiths which specifically say suicide is not permissible during times of peace or war.  This does not seem to reinforce the notion that Islam is a religion of violence and closed-mindedness, but rather a religion of peace and acceptance.

If Islamophobia continues to exist and grow, the rights of Muslims in America will continue to whittle away.  Whether fully put into practice or not, this country was founded on the grounds of equality, religious freedom and the right for an individual to go about his/her daily life however he/she sees fit without the government intruding.  Banning the practice of Sharia law, and ultimately Islam, is in clear contradiction of what the Founding Fathers envisioned the United States to be.

I feel it is time for fellow Christians and conservatives to stand up and speak out against such nonsense.  Jesus spoke of acceptance, equality, and love. The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution promotes freedom.  Isn’t it time we started listening and acted on these principals we claim to defend?

Labor Unions: More Harm Than Good

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If you thought the Arab World was the only area of unrest, then shift your attention to Wisconsin.  One would think after Green Bay won the Super Bowl, folks would be happy.  What happened?  Ran out of cheese?  Oh, something about a governor growing a pair and saying “No” to the unions.  Yeah, that never goes over well.

For those of you who are unaware of the situation in Wisconsin, here it is in a nutshell: Wisconsin needs to cut spending, so Governor Scott Walker has proposed cuts in the public working sector.  Specifically, the proposed bill takes away organized labor’s “right” to collective bargain, which is what has the teacher’s union up in arms.  They feel as if the rights of their workers are being infringed upon and have taken to the streets.  Meanwhile, the 14 Democrat state senators have basically taken a leave of absence to Illinois where the Wisconsin police cannot force them to go back to the state capitol and do business.  Without the 14 Democrats, spending bills, particularly this budget-repair bill, cannot be voted on because they need at least a 20-member quorum for approval.  As a result, the bill can’t be voted on and the teachers are barking up and down the streets rather than doing their job and instructing school students.

This situation, and ones like it involving Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey, has me questioning the validity of labor unions in today’s America.  When they were first formed back in the late 19th and early 20th century, I would agree unions were a good idea.  Working conditions were very poor, employee pay was not in line with the standard of living, and overall workers had very little rights/privileges/whatever term you want to use.  However, today is a different story.  The government has put in place numerous regulations to ensure a safe working environment and re- instituted a minimum wage (it was deemed unconstitutional in 1935, but was overturned in 1938 as a result of the Fair Labor Standards Act) which now stands at $7.25 an hour for un-tipped workers.  Additionally, employers want to have the best qualified employees for their business.  This means competitive pay will always be offered and if not, the employee can move on to a similar job with a higher pay rate if one is offered.

This is the same for public employees, particularly teachers.  A school district wants the most qualified teachers so that their students can receive a good education.  This means the teacher will be treated with respect and the district will be willing to offer a competitive salary, all without the need of a teacher’s union overseeing everything.  Without the union freaking out, the teachers in Wisconsin would (probably) still be doing their job.

Unions are also a problem in the private sector.  It can be argued that the United Auto Workers (UAW) were a large contributor to the downfall of Chrysler and General Motors due to their outrageous pay and benefits requirements.  The two car companies were essentially forced to pay large sums of money to workers they could not lay off (at least not without a frivolous lawsuit being filed on behalf of the union, which would take away even more of their funds), and as a result these two companies were being drained of income which would have come in handy once the recession hit in 2007/2008.

Now, this is not an attack on the workers who do decide to join a union.  Most, if not all, who join one do want that extra layer of protection when it comes to their respective jobs and I can’t say that I blame them.  Much of the trouble is derived from the union bosses at the top.  But, without the teacher’s union in Wisconsin, chances of a similar event happening would probably be very slim.

All in all, I agree with the idea behind a union but in practice I feel they do more harm than good, especially in today’s world.  With regulations on safety and pay already in place, unions aren’t really needed now like they were 100 years ago.  I know they will probably never go away, so complaining about it on a blog site is essentially pointless, but whatever.  It is what it is, I suppose.

Panel Discussion: Egypt, Tunisia, and Beyond

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By now, everyone knows that the Arab World is a hot mess, ranging from protests in Libya to an all out government overthrowing in Egypt.  Like any credible university during times of worldwide turmoil, the University of Delaware held a panel discussion to assess the matter and, like any credible political nerd, I attended.

There were five panelists who partook in this event, all of which are professors here at UD.  The first three gave their opinions and outlooks regarding the events and the final two told of their experiences while overseeing their respective study abroad courses in the region when the protests sparked up.

The first speaker, Professor Rudi Matthee, claimed to be “cautiously optimistic”, although he sounded extremely pessimistic with the message he portrayed.  There were multiple points throughout his speech where he did not think much would really come of the situation rather than more turmoil.  After each negative thought, he gave a general “but I hope I am wrong” rebuttal.  He did feel that the media here in the United States is severely over blowing the fear of the Muslim Brotherhood gaining control of the Egyptian government since the protests seemed to be secular rather than religiously motivated.  He also said the fear being emitted from Israel about Hosni Mubarak being thrown out is quite an overreaction as well.

Next was Dr. Muqtedar Khan.  I have taken three courses with Dr. Khan throughout my two years here at UD, so I was not surprised when he began exclaiming extreme optimism to what was going on.  He feels that democracy will take root in the Middle East and that the new government in Cairo will support this form of governing.  He expects more uprisings around the Middle East since, as he has said multiple times in the courses I have taken with him, Egypt is well respected throughout the Arab World.  What they do typically creates a domino effect.  (It’s worth noting that this panel discussion was on Tuesday the 15th.  I think it is fair to say that Dr. Khan was right seeing as Bahrain, Libya, and other countries in the Middle East have began protesting their own governments and calling for an end to dictatorship over the past couple of days.)  He did seemingly scale back with his optimism and said he is not sure if the new Egyptian government will be successful at first, but if it isn’t then they will regroup and try again, much like the U.S. did with the Articles of Confederation and then scrapping that for a federalist system with a new constitution.

The third panelist was Professor Ikram Masmoudi.  She claimed to be somewhere in the middle of Matthee’s pessimism and Khan’s optimism, although I would say she was more positive than negative.  She spoke primarily about Tunisia and said that “rights and dignity” were the driving forces behind the protests.  She spoke about how social media played a large role in organizing the revolts, which is true, especially with Egypt.  A group of students simply created an event on Facebook, sent out invites to their friends who then invited their friends who invited their friends, etc.  Twitter helped advertise the events and before anyone was aware of what was going on, hundreds of thousands of young people turned out in their respective country’s capital and called for democratic revolutions.

The final two speakers were Professors Yasser Payne and Audrey Helfman.  Both gave similar accounts about their study abroad classes in Egypt.  Payne said that after speaking to many of the protesters on the streets, no one really expected Mubarak to step down but, rather, they simply wanted to make their voices heard in the hopes that he would.  He also said the reports from the U.S. media were slightly different than what people there were actually saying.  Citizens claimed the situation was safe as opposed to U.S. media coverage saying the the exact opposite.  He felt it was somewhere in the middle and it really depended on where one was.  Helfman read two letters from Egyptian students who helped out with her course in the time there.  The first student reported that the police were the ones instigating the violence rather than the protesters who she says were calm and peaceful.  However, the second letter painted a different picture.  The other student explained how prisoners had escaped, how protesters were looting stores and museums, and how the situation was not peaceful at all.

All in all, it was an extremely interesting discussion.  I share many of the sentiments of Dr. Khan.  I feel the protests and calls for reform can only be a good thing for the Arab World since democracy is finally starting to take root in the Middle East.  Seeing as the Muslim Brotherhood only has around 10%-15% of support in Egypt, the fear being espoused by some in our media that some form of radical Islamic government will take over is quite naive.  Within the next ten to twenty years, I think capitalist democracies will be the norm in the Arab World, which can only be a good thing for them and the rest of the world.

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