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The news this morning was sickening and horrible.  At current count 50 people have been killed and 53 injured at a night club in Orlando, FLA.  This is the worst mass shooting in U.S. History.  I can’t imagine the pain that the families of the victims are feeling right now.

It appears that the shooter was a well-prepared 29-year old with an AR-15 Assault weapon, who was not from the Orlando area.  It also appears that his parents were immigrants from Afghanistan.

As I watch the news reports of this horribly tragic events unfold – one terribly disturbing thought keeps occurring to me.  We are potentially seeing the beginning of ISIS’s electoral strategy.

To be clear: At the time of my writing this, no clear link has been established between ISIS and the shooter (who will remain unnamed in this opinion based article).  UPDATE: The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS.

What is ISIS’s global strategy?  It has to do with moving Muslims around the world out of the “grey zone”.  The VAST MAJORITY of Muslims want nothing to do with ISIS, radical jihad, terrorism, etc.  Most Muslims are content to live in peace with the rest of humanity.  ISIS’s goal is to constantly force Muslims to choose between their religious identity and living peacefully in the western world.  Their goal is to make moderate Muslims feel unsafe as a result of prejudice.  Whenever these attacks occur, fear of Muslims goes up, as do prejudicial actions such as threats, vandalism, and even violence.

Right now there is a presidential candidate campaigning on promises of banning Muslims from  the United States and increasing the use of torture and even killing terrorists’ families.  What could be better for hate-based extremists such as ISIS, than to have a hate based extremist elected to lead the Western world?  I’m not even sure that they need Trump to win, a close election might do enough damage.

The logic goes: if you make more Americans afraid of Muslims, then they will vote for the Demagogue strong-man.  Thus making it harder for moderate Muslims to coexist with the West and increasing the recruits available to extremist groups like ISIS.

Lastly, the gunman was not from the Orlando area, that means he chose his target for some reason.  It might simply be because the guy is homophobic and the club was a establishment that catered to homosexuals.  However, I cannot help but think that Orlando is along Florida’s I-4 corridor, which contains the eight swing counties in a swing state. (Seriously, click on the link and look at the graphic.)

After this attack there will inevitably be polling in the state of Florida regarding voters Clinton vs Trump preferences.  In doing so, I think that may provide extremists with the data they need to see if this strategy will work.

Our best defense therefore is this:  Don’t let hate motivate our political views.  Don’t judge any group by their worst fringe members.  Don’t let events like this overcome the better parts of our nature, if we do – then the bad guys win.

Some quick responses to some obvious objections to this post and my theory.

Why would you write this?  Isn’t it providing extremists with a road-map for Electing Trump and thus encouraging more violence?

That is a fair critique.  However terrorist organizations often do their own in-house analysis.  The absolutely excellent and insightful 2005 PBS Documentary “Al-Qaeda’s New Front” pointed out that after the Madrid train bombing it was discovered that Al-Qaeda had been doing sophisticated political analysis. (Link to You Tube Video – the part I am referring to starts at approximately 4:45).  This analysis was used to select terror targets (in this case to weaken the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war.)  I have no doubt that groups like ISIS have figured out the benefits of increased Trump support to their cause.  Indeed, parts of this theory are already being articulated (unfortunately, by Trump supporters).  My hope by throwing this out there (for the two or three people who might actually read this on my blog) is that people understand why hatred against Muslims makes us less safe, and add depth to the understanding of why Trump and his kind of thinking is so incredibly dangerous.

Earlier in your blog you blamed the NRA for every mass shooting, is this different?

Nope.  The shooter would not have been very effective if armed with a spoon.  He had an AR-15.  Why on earth should anyone be able to obtain such a powerful weapon?  The NRA should own their culpability in aiding terrorists by guaranteeing their access to weapons.  UPDATE:  The shooter had been investigated twice by the FBI for potential links to terrorism, yet still obtained an assault weapon.

Update: It appears Donald Trump is following the script ISIS is writing for him.

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MICROSOFT HAS JUST SCREWED OVER SOME OF ITS CUSTOMERS!

I’ve had a rough draft of a review for the Xbox One’s digital tuner sitting in my drafts folder for over a year now.  I just never got around to finishing the article, and at a certain point it seemed logical to just wait and review both the tuner and the DVR when the promised DVR features are enabled in 2016 (presumably after E3 next week.)  Well today it was announced that Microsoft is abandoning their plans for the XBOX  ONE to have a DVR.  And I am pretty frickin’ angry at them over it.

For fans of Windows Media Center, things have been a bit grim for a while.  WMC has been ignored, become buggy, and finally the word came down from Redmond that Windows Media Center would be no more.  Regular readers also know that I was TERRIBLY DISSAPOINTED by the multimedia features of the Xbox One when it came out in 2013.  Of course, that assumes that this site has anything resembling a ‘regular reader’.

For a while, it looked like Microsoft had a few plans that will restore to the Xbox One some of the features of the Xbox360 when used with Media Center.  Streaming my music library (after it has been uploaded to OneDrive) and supposedly supporting FLAC after Windows 10’s release looked like promising improvements – but never lived up to their potential in my own testing .  Dolby Digital has been added to Blu-Ray playback and now there is the ability to watch live television – so gee-whiz the XB1 finally does the job of $65 blu-ray player and a $15 HDTV antenna.  Not bad for my initial $499 investment on day one.  Then in 2015 Microsoft promised us that the Xbox One will get DVR functionality within the next year.  Even a die hard WMC fan such as myself would have had to admit that having DVR right on the console would have been a big plus over the old server-client design that was used with WMC and the Xbox360.

As soon as the promised DVR was announced I went out and purchased the TV Tuner.  It is a usb tuner from Hauppauge that retails for roughly $60.  (Yes, it was stupid of me to buy something in anticipation of a future functionality.  I know – but I was excited.

Gee - it's been a while since we had live TV...is Lassie still on the air?

Gee – it’s been a while since we had live TV…is Lassie still on the air?

Nonetheless, I picked one up and decided to give it a test run.  My enthusiasm for the tuner stemmed from the promise that if the XB1 added DVR, then it would become the only streaming device that can do live TV, Amazon Prime, HBO, HULU and Netflix.  (For a meager $300 more than it’s closest rivals – the Apple TV and the Roku.)  Fortunately, I didn’t spend the extra $99 for another external hard drive which Microsoft specified would be necessary to enable the DVR features.

The tuner sets up easily and does deliver a good live picture.  I’ve used it twice, to watch the Superbowl.  Other than that – without a DVR –  it is a paperweight.

I have been a Microsoft fanboy for years, but this may be the last straw for me.  The Xbox One is a descent gaming machine, but is only as good for home theater use as a $40 Roku streaming stick.  Quite frankly, I’m not even super impressed with the games anymore and have been spending more time on Steam than Xbox Live.  I think that a Steam Link may be in my future and Microsoft will have to work pretty damn hard to get my loyalty back.

Microsoft – the hardware is there, the tuner is there, the OTA programming guides are there – why won’t you finish the job??  This was a promised feature and some of us spent money on the tuner.  Personally, I feel they ought to initiate a refund program to allow people to get some kind of credit for their old tuners (or their new paperweights – either way you want to look at it).

So in the final analysis – the Xbox One digital tuner is a DON’T BUY item.  Without the DVR features, it is no better than a cheap HDTV antenna.