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Former inmates share the technological shocks they experienced after being released



Former inmates share the technological shocks they experienced after being released

‘My dad was in prison for 11 years. One of the first things he did after getting out was ruin my grandma’s microwave cooking a can of soup in it,’ shared a Reddit user.

Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anete Lusina

When we were first introduced to radio, television, a broadcast of a human stepping on the moon, a cordless mobile phone, electronic mail, a social media account and now artificial intelligence, we all were filled with anxiety and excitement. Besides, these are constant and consistent reminders of how times and technology are not going to wait for anybody to get as advanced as they can. Imagine not being introduced to any of these advancements and suddenly you are bombarded with them. The out-of-touch moment can be a baffling one. 

Similarly, these former inmates were released after a long time and found a great reminder of how fast-paced technology can get. Reddit threads by u/niknikbluhh and u/thebunnybullet show responses from former prisoners who had served many years in prison and spoke about the most significant and shocking changes they encountered after their release. 

Here are 25 shocks former inmates experienced in the outside world after being released from a long sentence:

1. A modern cellphone

“After conquering a 45-year prison term, my wife handed me an iPhone. I’d never held a modern cellphone and I didn’t understand how to use it. Carole showed me how to access a code that would unlock the phone and taught me how to place a call. While she drove, I used the phone to call my extended family. Everyone was in tears of joy, in disbelief that my time in prison had truly come to an end. ” –u/Michael Santos

2. Touchscreen 

“Buddy of mine was in 10 years. 2003 he was sentenced and just released a couple of months back. Biggest changes he noticed were cell phones and the internet. There was no Facebook at the time and the cell phones were crappy (Sony Ericsson anyone). He spent days on Facebook using a friend’s touchscreen phone. Never seen a guy so happy in my life.” –u/deadlyvirus

3. Microwave

“My dad was in prison for 11 years. One of the first things he did after getting out was ruin my grandma’s microwave cooking a can of soup in it. I’m sure he had better stories too, but that’s the only one that comes to mind.” -u/spudspotato

4. Smartphones

“My brother lived with me when he got out of prison about 4 years ago. We went to Costco (where he had not been before) and he was astonished by the low prices and quantity. I had a bright pink laptop at the time, and I helped him set up an email. Got a smartphone (eventually) and was astonished by the power he could hold in one hand.” –u/heyhihellogabi

5. Fast cars

“How fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they’re everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” –u/Iforgot_mypassword

6. Facebook everywhere 

“When I got out of prison I looked forward to logging into my myspace account SOOO bad… I was very heartbroken when I learned Facebook had taken everything over. Haha (but seriously though)
and that was only after 2 years. I couldn’t imagine 10.” –u/ReaLifEntrepreneur

7. Automatic drink dispenser 

“I recently witnessed a guy at McDonalds who had just finished an 8 year stint who was completely blown away by the automatic drink dispenser at the drive through window. From that day, I have tried to always look at things with fresh eyes, to see if there’s anything else I’ve been missing.” –u/kermi42

8. No Beeper

“For my brother it was the internet and cell phones… He came out in 2006. He wanted to get this thing called a beeper too.” –u/ares7

9. How does one ‘text’?

“My brother-in-law did six years. There were lots of time travel type weirdness, but the funniest was his new girlfriend was talking on her house phone and needed to text a friend on her cell phone, while also putting on makeup. She hands the cell to my BIL and says “text her back for me.” He stares at it for like 5 minutes before tapping her on the shoulder and says ‘um, I have no idea what I am doing.'” –u/thepropernoun

10. MP3 player

“I worked in a music store and had a guy come in who had just been released. He had no idea what an MP3 player was or even the concept of it. It was an quite interesting discussion with him, teaching him the ins and out of the internet and how to get music.” –u/Bloomburgerz

11. Stock radio 

“Worked with a guy that became obsessed with electronics in new vehicles, like he was impressed with the stock radio in my work truck. When he got a car a couple of the guys helped install a radio with on star in it.” -u/Meagermuskrat

12. Touch screen kiosks in place of soda fountains

“First day out I went to McDonald’s and they changed the soda fountains to touch screen and let you add flavors and stuff blew my mind.” –u/trapmitch

13. Too many electronics everywhere 

“I interviewed a dude who went in for murder in the early 80s. It wasn’t cell phones or the internet that threw him, he knew about that stuff pretty well. It was the cars. He was a mechanic before he was sentenced and he said cars now are so different and have so much electronics.” –u/anon

14. Google knows everything 

“The dishwasher at my old job served 26 years for murder. He was 21 when he went in, came out to a completely different world. I remember him constantly asking me questions to look up on my smart phone, and I never got why. Finally I convinced him to get one and spent hours walking him through it. Then I realized he thought my phones sole functionality was to look up info and was taken aback at how much other stuff smartphones can do. Nicest man in the world, still keep up with him to this day.” –u/Spirited_Winter

15. Tinder and Uber 

“A friends brother went away for about 10 years. His mind was blown by Tinder and Uber. He had a hard time grasping touch screens or couldn’t really see why they were better than buttons. He’s never even had a debit card and paid for everything in cash before he went in. He lost it when he saw people tapping their phones to pay for stuff. I think he really struggled applying to jobs online.” –u/PleasantSalad

16. House bot that turns lights on 

“My uncle came back from prison after 20 years. So essentially he came back from jail and he came back to our house just to see the family. And I thought I’d mess with him knowing that he wasn’t accustomed to future capabilities. I just told my house bot to turn on the lights in the living room as we walked in, I look back, and his face was like he just saw a ghost.”-u/jman857

17. Remote car starter 

“My stepdad got out after serving 25 years and was shocked the first time he saw a remote car starter. He went out to get the paper and saw my mom’s car was running without her inside it and came running in and was shocked.” –u/anon

18. Google Home talks back. So do Alexa and Siri. 

“Not me but my cousin was recently in for drug abuse I believe and a bunch of other minor charges but when he got out he was shocked that things like Google home talked back to you” –u/Echoing_Circus

19. “Dreamcast” video game 

“My uncle did 10 years, 1991-2001 roughly. It was the middle of summer I was at home playing some Madden 2K1 on the Dreamcast.  I had to really explain what a Dreamcast was and that it was a video game. That football games don’t happen in the summer. He didn’t believe me until I turned the game off and on and started another game. ” –u/endboss47

20. Pokemon Go and GPS 

“My cousin went to jail in 2010 and came out in September. He was amazed with smartphones. To be more specific, with Pokémon Go. He was blown away by the fact that a game required GPS and internet for a good experience.” –u/Cretin44

21. Music is accessible everywhere 

“How much music was just everywhere, everywhere was music playing, the outside world seemed so loud.” –u/theunbrokenviper

22. Like button on Facebook 

“Not me but an older cousin of mine was in prison for 18 years. He got out in early 2013 but went back in for a year I believe. Me, my mom and my sister went and visited him a few times and I remember us explaining to him what ‘liking something on Facebook’ meant and also what the Insanity workout was. Both times he was very amazed lol.” –u/mikeweasy

23. No more record deals 

“After serving 15 years for murder, my friend wanted to get a record deal as a rapper. He planned it all out. We’d get a karaoke machine, buy tapes with instrumentals on them, rap over them, write his pager number on the tapes and finally mail them out to record labels. It was 2005. It hurt to tell him that all of his planning was worthless now.” –u/poop_pants

24. Laser-activated water faucets 

“My brother served 3 years for robbery and he got out 10 years ago. The laser activated water faucets in the bathrooms of places like the movie theater caught him by surprise. He had never seen such a thing.” –u/uncle-woody

25. Everyone having access to technology 

“I work with a guy who was in prison for 10 years for armed robbery. He said the biggest thing that changed for him was the technology. Cell phones were still rare when he went in, but once he was out everyone had one.” –u/moparornocar

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy



Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves



CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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What went wrong with ‘the Metaverse’? An insider’s postmortem



What went wrong with 'the Metaverse'? An insider's postmortem

It’s now two years since Facebook changed its name to Meta, ushering in a brief but blazing enthusiasm over “the Metaverse”, a concept from science fiction that suddenly seemed to be the next inevitable leap in technology. For most people in tech, however, the term has since lost its luster, seemingly supplanted by any product with “artificial intelligence” attached to its description. 

But the true story of the Metaverse’s rise and fall in public awareness is much more complicated and interesting than simply being the short life cycle of a buzzword — it also reflects a collective failure of both imagination and understanding.  


The forgotten novel

Ironically, many tech reporters discounted or even ignored the profound influence of Snow Crash on actual working technologists. The founders of Roblox and Epic (creator of Fortnite) among many other developers were directly inspired by the novel. Despite that, Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk tale has often been depicted as if it were an obscure dystopian tome which merely coined the term. As opposed to what it actually did: describe the concept with a biblical specificity that thousands of developers have referenced in their virtual world projects — many of which have already become extremely popular.


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Snow Crash.

You can see this lack of clarity in many of the mass tech headlines attempting to describe the Metaverse in the wake of Facebook’s name change: 

In a widely shared “obituary” to the Metaverse, Business Insider’s Ed Zitron even compounded the confusion still further by inexplicably misattributing the concept to TRON, the original Disney movie from the 80s.

Had the media referenced Snow Crash far more accurately when the buzz began, they’d come away with a much better understanding of why so many technologists are excited by the Metaverse concept — and realize its early incarnation is already gaining strong user traction.  

Because in the book, the Metaverse is a vast, immersive virtual world that’s simultaneously accessible by millions of people through highly customizable avatars and powerful experience creation tools that are integrated with the offline world through its virtual economy and external technology. In other words, it’s more or less like Roblox and Fortnite — platforms with many tens of millions of active users. 

But then again, the tech media can’t be fully blamed for following Mark Zuckerberg’s lead.

Rather than create a vision for its Metaverse iterating on already successful platforms — Roblox’s 2020 IPO filing even describes itself as the metaverse — Meta’s executive leadership cobbled together a mishmash of disparate products. Most of which, such as remotely working in VR headsets, remain far from proven. According to an internal Blind survey, a majority of Zuckerberg’s own employees say he has not adequately explained what he means by the Metaverse even to them.

Grievous of all, Zuckerberg and his CTO Andrew Bosworth promoted a conception of the Metaverse in which the Quest headset was central. To do so, they had to overlook compelling evidence — raised by senior Microsoft researcher danah boyd at the time of the company acquiring Oculus in 2014 — that females have a high propensity to get nauseous using VR.

Meta Quest 3 comes out on October 10 for $500.
Meta Quest 3.

Contacted in late 2022 while writing Making a Metaverse That Matters, danah told me no one at Oculus or Meta followed up with her about the research questions she raised. Over the years, I have asked several senior Meta staffers (past and present) about this and have yet to receive an adequate reply. Unsurprisingly, Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset has an estimated install base of only about 20 million units, significantly smaller than the customer count of leading video game consoles. A product that tends to make half the population puke is not exactly destined for the mass market — let alone a reliable base for building the Metaverse. 

Ironically, Neal Stephenson himself has frequently insisted that virtual reality is absolutely not a prerequisite for the Metaverse, since flat screens display immersive virtual worlds just fine. But here again, the tech media instead ratified Meta’s flawed VR-centric vision by constantly illustrating articles about the Metaverse with photos of people happily donning headsets to access it — inadvertently setting up a straw man destined to soon go ablaze.

Duct-taped to yet another buzzword

Further sealing the Metaverse hype wave’s fate, it crested around the same time that Web3 and crypto were still enjoying their own euphoria period. This inevitably spawned the “cryptoverse” with platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. When the crypto crash came, it was easy to assume the Metaverse was also part of that fall.

But the cryptoverse platforms failed in the same way that other crypto schemes have gone awry: By offering a virtual world as a speculative opportunity, it primarily attracted crypto speculators, not virtual world enthusiasts. By October of 2022, Decentraland was only tracking 7,000 daily active users, game industry analyst Lars Doucet informed me

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” as Lars put it. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

All this occurred as the rise of generative AI birthed another, shinier buzzword — one that people not well-versed in immersive virtual worlds could better understand.

But as “the Metaverse” receded as a hype totem, a hilarious thing happened: Actual metaverse platforms continued growing. Roblox now counts over 300 million monthly active users, making its population nearly the size of the entire United States; Fortnite had its best usage day in 6 years. Meta continues plodding along but seems to finally be learning from its mistakes — for instance, launching a mobile version of its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.  

Roblox leads the rise of user-generated content.

Into this mix, a new wave of metaverse platforms is preparing to launch, refreshingly led by seasoned, successful game developers: Raph Koster with Playable Worlds, Jenova Chen with his early, successful forays into metaverse experiences, and Everywhere, a metaverse platform lead developed by a veteran of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

At some point, everyone in tech who co-signed the “death” of the Metaverse may notice this sustained growth. By then however, the term may no longer require much usage, just as the term “information superhighway” fell away as broadband Internet went mainstream.  

Wagner James Au is author of Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For 

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