Friday, November 21, 2008

New Zealand MP starts with new pay scales, 2008, Auckland

21, November, 2008, Auckland--I read something rather interesting regarding the politicians' annual income from the New Zealand Hearld Newspaper today. The article also showed the annual income of politicians from other countriesBelow are some abstracts:

Public sector pay rises have also been outstripping the private sector.

Others said base salary movements varied and depended on skills and competition for talent.

Official figures put public servant adjusted salary and wage rises in the year to June 30 at 3.7 per cent.

But unadjusted figures - considered the best indicator of "take-home pay" - were as high as 5.5 per cent for the public and private sectors combined.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark was paid a salary of $375,000 over the past year, and her deputy Michael Cullen got $264,500.

As both have moved out of leadership roles and on to the Opposition benches, their pay will tumble to near $130,000 even when the new rise is taken into account.

Mr Key will get the rise added to the existing Prime Minister's salary of $375,000. His salary as Leader of the Opposition was $233,000.

Mr Key is a multimillionaire after a career in the financial world and gives most of his political salary to charities.

He has said he intends to continue doing that with the bigger pay packet.

The biggest winners are the National MPs who have gone from Opposition seats to Cabinet positions.

Among them are Gerry Brownlee, Simon Power, Judith Collins, Tony Ryall, Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett.

Their salaries will go from around $130,000 to near $240,000.

Ministers outside the Cabinet - who include United Future's Peter Dunne, Act's Rodney Hide and Heather Roy and Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples - get almost $200,000.

New Labour Party leader Phil Goff gets the same money for being Leader of the Opposition as he got for being a Cabinet minister.

As well as getting more money for becoming ministers, John Key's new team get expense allowances and the use of a fleet of silver BMW limousines.


John Key
* Before the election $233,000
* Yesterday $375,000
* From today $393,000

Helen Clark
* Before the election $375,000
* Yesterday $126,000
* From today $130,000


* PM A$330,000 ($388,000)
* Cabinet ministers A$219,000 ($258,000)
* Leader of the opposition A$235,000 ($277,000)
* MP A$127,000 ($149,000)

* Prime Minister £189,000 ($514,000)
* Cabinet minister £138,000 ($375,000)
* Leader of the Opposition £131,000 ($356,000)
* MP £62,000 ($169,000)

* President US$400,000 ($728,000)
* Senate minority and majority leaders US $188,000 ($342,000)
* Senator US$169,000 ($308,000)

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How do avatars have sex? Cyber Lifestyle, Second Life, virtual sex


1. First characters need to buy genitals
2. Male characters can get aroused and have intercourse with female ones, but graphic depictions are very rudimentary
3. Intercourse is usually represented by an animated sequence

Characters interact socially

A couple have divorced after the wife saw the husband having online sex in the virtual world of Second Life. So how do avatars have sex?

Wife walks in and finds husband in a compromising position on the sofa with another woman. Wife feels betrayed. Wife files for divorce. Marriage ends.

It’s a familiar scenario in soap operas, but for one married couple it was all too real. Sort of.

Amy Taylor and David Pollard met in an online chatroom in 2003, got married and shared their interest in Second Life, a virtual world in which users create avatars to interact with each other.

But the marriage ended after Ms Taylor’s online character saw her husband’s avatar having sex on a sofa with a female prostitute.

So how do computerised characters have sex?

“First you need to buy genitals,” says technology journalist Adrian Mars, explaining the process in Second Life. “You start off with no genitals and then you buy some. These objects can do all sorts of things. You can have ones that ejaculate at the right moment.

“But there’s not much in the way of exciting mechanics. What you see on the screen is what you get and the best you can hope for is a bit of sexual humour, although some people do have intense relationships.

“Obviously the sex is not the same as in real life, but you’re still expressing yourself in a way that would, maybe reasonably, upset a partner.”

Participants can verbally communicate by voice or by typing speech that appears in a bubble above their character.

And although they can use the mouse and keyboard to move their character and pick things up, he says, the on-screen graphic depiction is very rudimentary. Undressing another character without their consent is not possible.

“You can touch and jiggle about a bit and you can emote and gesture in a way the other person would see. And you can have intercourse.”

Users can make their avatars sit, lie or stand for sex, says Kieron Gillen of, but the intercourse is usually an animated sequence triggered by a click of the mouse on an interactive “node”, although it depends how they are programmed.

“People customize their avatars with animations and enormous e-phalluses which you can buy. It’s a player-generated economy and people exchange things they have created - someone builds it, someone buys it and someone puts it into action.”

For people participating in this, he adds, the sexual chat is more important than the avatar having sex, which acts more like a prop to get their imagination going.

And you can forget any notion of sensual touch. As crude, pixelated representations of humans, avatars can’t flex individual muscles, says Gabby Kent, a lecturer in computer games at the University of Teesside.

It would just resemble two clunky-looking characters rubbing their bodies against each other.

These kinds of online worlds are navigated fairly intuitively, she says, so just by clicking on a door could make your avatar walk through it, without the need to move your hand to find the handle.

In a similar way, some games could just have a special sequence cutting in to represent sexual intercourse. But even those offering the characters more control are unlikely to look very real. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s harmless fun.

“In Second Life, all the characters are real people somewhere in the world and that’s why there’s always such betrayal felt,” says Ms Kent.


One blogger writing about his experience in Second Life describes the range of male genitalia on offer to buy, including skin colour control, sound, animations, ejaculation, urine and some that are touchable by other players to lead to arousal.

He visited virtual sex shops and sex clubs where he saw people having sex in a number of different ways.

It is only to be expected in a world where players pick every detail of how their avatars will look, says Mr Mars.

“You can design any object. You can buy your own antlers, for instance. Sex has become a big thing [in Second Life] but I suspect it’s full of teenagers, so that’s no shock.”

Some Second Lifers have been known to misbehave - a US journalist was attacked by flying penises when conducting an interview in his virtual office.

And infidelity is not the only thorny ethical issue thrown up by virtual sexuality - some players have had sex with animals.

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Freakish Fatalities: Strange But True!

Claim: A damaged cactus falls onto the man who had harmed it, killing him.

Status: True.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]

In southern arizona they have the sorts of cacti that have great arms like you see on old westerns, called saguaros. they're quite protected by various laws and live to be hundreds of years old.

The story goes that some guy was out with his shotgun shooting signs and such. Well, he decided to blast some cacti too. As he stood within a few feet, perhaps 10, of a giant old cactus, he blasted a few holes in its giant trunk. It gave way and fell right on top of him, crushing and impaling him with nail-like spikes. He died, being alone and unable to crawl away.

Origins: People do stupid, unthinking things. Most of the time, they get away with them . . . .

In 1982, roommates David Grundman and James Joseph Suchochi decided pack up the guns and go wandering in the desert two miles north of Arizona 74, just west of Lake Pleasant. One or both of them was struck with the brilliant notion of taking pot shots at saguaro they found growing there. Maybe it was the Devil in them. Maybe it had to do with the eerily manlike shapes these monstrous plants can grow into.

Grundman shot a small saguaro in the trunk so many times that it thudded to the ground. "The first one was easy!" he cried, according to Suchochi. He next chose a specimen which stood 26 feet high and was estimated to be a hundred years old. Before the ringing in his ears had stopped, a four-foot spiny arm, severed by the blast, fell on Grundman, crushing him.

Grundman's demise is chronicled in "Saguaro," a song by the Texas rock band, the Austin Lounge


There are other stories in urban lore about Nature's children taking revenge on their human tormentors (the dynamite dog and Gucci kangaroo, for instance), but this is the only one where a plant strikes back. Then again, the saguaro is one very special plant.

Saguaros are tall cactuses that can reach heights of 60 feet and grow only in the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. For the first 75 years of their lives, they have only huge central trunks; their distinctive outstretched and upwards-bent arms develop later, if at all. Their usual lifespan is 150 to 200 years, though some have lived to be 300.

Oh, one other fact about saguaros; they can weigh up to 8 tons. As Grundman found out.

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Electric Avenue: A True Story

Claim: A tourist was electrocuted while crossing a street in Las Vegas.

Status: True.

Origins: Las Vegas, Nevada, is a desert town, hot and dry. Daytime temperatures in July and August are in the hundreds, sometimes climbing to the hundred-and-teens. Rain, when it does come, often arrives in torrents that quickly build to flash-flood proportions.

On Saturday, 16 August 2003, a 39-year-old mother of four met the Grim Reaper while doing nothing more remarkable than crossing Las Vegas Boulevard, the famed "Las Vegas Strip" of the travelogues. Yet it was not a car that brought about Rebecca "Becky" Longhoffer's demise — she was

electrocuted in mid-stride when she stepped on a cast iron plate on a traffic island. The plate, which covered electrical wiring feeding traffic signals, had been soaked by a heavy downpour and was obscured by a puddle several inches deep, residue of a recent unexpected storm which swept the area.

Officials suspect that a combination of frayed wiring, dampness from the sudden storm, and open-toed shoes worn by the victim combined to deliver the electric shock that snatched a life without warning. The box that delivered the fatal charge had not been inspected since it was installed in late 1995 or early 1996; over the years thousands of pedestrians have walked across that wiring box, and the tread of many shoes on the plate may have worn down the insulation of the wires concealed therein to the point of dangerous exposure.

Clark County officials estimate Las Vegas has about 16,000 of the same type of traffic signal boxes. They announced they would begin inspecting the other boxes on the Las Vegas Strip within the next few weeks.

Ms. Longhoffer was making her first trip to Las Vegas, accompanying her fiancé who was participating in a billiards tournament. Moments before she died, she had been talking to her brother on her cell phone. She left behind four children, ages 22, 15, 12, and 13 months.

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Doctor decapitated by Elevator: Internet Hoax or True Story?

Claim: A Houston doctor was decapitated by an elevator.
Status: True.

Origins: All manners of sudden fatality are horrendous no matter where or when or how they occur, but we seem to assign decapitations to a special category populated by modes of death we find particularly disturbing. This form of expiration is especially gruesome because the mind is cut off from the body, ending a life, and it all takes place in a flash. A person who moments before was a living, thinking being is now just a headless trunk, spurting blood like a ghoulish prop in a bad horror film. Though all forms of demise lead to the same place, this one is sickly fascinating thanks to its elevated gore quotient and the speed with which it drives home the finality of death.

We'd like to think beheadings happen only in campfire tales and low-budget thrillers, but they take place in real life too, as was the case in the death of Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh. On 16 August 2003, this 35-year-old surgical resident was decapitated in a freakish elevator accident at Christus St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas.

The accident itself is hard now to imagine — the ill-fated physician was trapped between the doors of the cable-propelled elevator, then decapitated as the carriage ascended.

According to the Harris County Medical Examiner's office, Nikaidoh died from multiple blunt force injuries to the head and body. His corpse was retrieved from the bottom of the elevator shaft along with two pagers, a cell phone, and an electronic organizer police believed belonged to him. The upper portion of his head, which was severed just above the lower jaw, was found in the car of the elevator. His colleague, physician's

assistant Karin Steinau, who was in the car at the time, witnessed the whole thing.

Ms. Steinau told police the elevator had been out of service for a few days prior to to the tragedy, but at the time of the accident the "Out of service" sign had been removed. She had rung for the elevator (with the intent of going to the sixth floor) and had already stepped into it and pushed the button for her floor when Nikaidoh tried to get into the car as the door was closing. As soon as she saw he was trapped by the doors, Steinau tried to hit the emergency stop button but was unable to do so before the rising elevator had partially decapitated Dr. Nikaidoh. The elevator continued upwards, finally stopping between the fourth and fifth floors. Steinau was trapped in the car along with Nikaidoh's cranial remains until she was rescued by firefighters. She was treated in the hospital's emergency room for shock.

The cause of the deadly accident remains a mystery. Elevator doors should not shut when there is something between them, thanks to sensors mounted in the doors. Also, a set of contacts in the door should keep the elevator from moving if the doors are not closed. Yet both these things reportedly happened. A state investigative committee later reported that faulty wiring was to blame:

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation report was done by Chief Elevator Inspector Ron Steele.

Steele said an inspection of the elevator's electrical wiring diagrams found that one controller stud had two wires connected to it, although the diagram indicated it should only have one. The controller stud on which the extra wire should have been placed was empty.

[Attorney Howard] Nations said the mistake bypassed safety systems that would have kept the door from closing and the elevator from ascending.

"In the course of testing and retesting the elevator [the maintenance company] had changed wiring and when they rewired it back to its original position they forgot to put this wire back where it goes," Nations said.

The maintenance company, Kone, Inc., had been working on the elevator for four days before the incident. This month, the hospital dismissed Kone from doing its elevator maintenance.

Mike Lubben, vice president of Kone, said the company still was reviewing the state report but an internal investigation concluded that a wire in an electrical panel was incorrectly connected.

"This contributed to a malfunction in the elevator doors," Lubben said. "Kone is deeply saddened by this incident. We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Nikaidoh."
Although elevator fatalities are not common they do occur from time to time, and they are not always of the "victim steps into an open elevator shaft" ilk. On 21 July 2003, 76-year-old L.A. Brown was killed at the Kenner Regional Medical Center in Kenner, Lousiana, when the gurney on which he was being transported to surgery in became trapped against the roof of an elevator when the car suddenly dropped several feet just as the gurney was being pulled out of it. On 7 May 1999, 56-year-old Mary Margaret Nowosielski died in similar fashion at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Michigan when the car her gurney was being rolled into suddenly went up, dragging her to the fourth floor and back down to the first floor between the car and the shaft wall.

Even elevator decapitations are not new. On 6 January 1995, a runaway elevator in a Bronx office building decapitated 55-year-old James Chenault as he tried to help fellow passengers out of a malfunctioning car. The car had stopped slightly above the second floor and the doors opened. While Chenault was holding the doors open with his back and helping a woman whose foot had become trapped, the car lurched suddenly upward, beheading him. The victim's body fell to the bottom of the shaft, but the head remained in the car along with the remaining passengers as it shot up to the ninth floor.

More than 30 people die in elevator-related accidents each year in the United States.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dutch Tourists and "Aphrodisiac" samosas in India

A Dutch couple on a visit to India were charged 10,000 rupees ($365) for four "aphrodisiac" samosas. When challenged over the bill, the stall holder told them his "special" samosas cost more because they were made of herbs and had aphrodisiac qualities, the Hindustan Times reported. The couple were roaming around a cattle fair in Bihar when they got hungry and ordered the four snacks from the hawker. After an argument, the couple paid the shopkeeper. However, not convinced that the high price of the snack was justified, the couple approached the police. Officers forced the shopkeeper to return the change - 9990 rupees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Would you have investedin Microsoft in 1978? Urban Legend

Claim: Photograph shows eleven staff members of Microsoft in 1978.

Status: True.

Bill Gates, 1978

Origins: One of the lessons of the personal computer revolution that began in the 1970s was that tremendous business success was no longer entirely the province of staid, (Click on the picture for a larger view)

conservatively-dressed, mature adult males with expensive business school educations. As Microsoft, Apple Computer, and hundreds of other technology-driven companies demonstrated, plenty of young, sartorially-questionable, self-taught young people of both sexes could achieve business success on a par with some of the world's oldest and biggest corporations.

The June 2006 announcement by Bill Gates that he was planning to disengage himself from the day-to-day operations of Microsoft has spurred renewed interest in the photograph reproduced above, which has been circulating via e-mail for several years in messages bearing titles such as "Would you have invested?" It reflects the notion that, back in 1978, not many people might have predicted that a small group of casually-dressed, long-haired youngsters was creating a corporation that would, three decades later, reach an estimated market value of $279 billion, themselves becoming millionaires (and a few even billionaires) in the process.

In December 1978, Microsoft had just completed its first million-dollar sales year, and the decision was made to decamp from the company's Albuquerque, New Mexico, headquarters and relocate to bigger and better digs in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington. The formal studio photograph displayed above was taken on 7 December 1978, shortly before that move, and captured all but a couple of the current Microsoft staff:
To suitably immortalize the Albuquerque years, Bob Greenberg cut a deal with a photo studio for a group portrait on December 7. Pearl Harbor Day in Albuquerque featured a snowstorm, but only Miriam Lubow, who was stranded at home with her kids, and Ric Weiland [Microsoft's second employee], out of town on business, failed to make the sitting. All eleven of the employees in the Albuquerque picture, along with Weiland, were about to make the trip to Seattle. Only Miriam Lubow would stay behind — reluctantly. Gates offered to pay for her and her family's move to Seattle, but Miriam's husband demurred: "He said, 'Why are we going to follow this kid to Seattle? It always rains in Seattle.'" On a Concorde flight to Europe, Gates wrote her a thank-you note for her service to Microsoft. As it turned out, she was merely postponing the inevitable. Three years later Miriam would move to the Seattle area and work again for Microsoft, this time focusing more narrowly on a skill she had developed in Albuquerque: getting customers to pay up.
(Technically, Microsoft wasn't yet "Microsoft Corporation" at the time this photograph was taken — the company was founded as a partnership and officially became a Washington State corporation on 1 July 1981.)

As for the identities of the persons pictured, and their lives after Microsoft:

* Bill Gates (front row, left): William Gates III, the Harvard drop-out who at 18 co-founded (and later served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of) Microsoft, the world's largest software company, hardly needs any introduction. He is regularly ranked as the one of the richest individuals in the world (with an estimated net worth in 2006 of $50 billion); in June 2006 he announced his intentions to withdraw from Microsoft's day-to-day operations within two years to focus his attention on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which combats diseases such as polio, malaria, and AIDS.
* Andrea Lewis (front row, second from left): Andrea Lewis was a former MITS technical writer and Computer Notes editor hired in 1978 to produce documentation for Microsoft products as the company's first technical writer. She left her day-to-day job at Microsoft in 1983, has since worked as a freelance journalist and fiction writer, and helped create the Richard Hugo House, a literary center in Seattle. She now lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.
* Marla Wood (front row, second from right): Marla Wood (wife of Steve Wood, also pictured above) worked as a bookkeeper and administrative assistant at Microsoft until 1980, when she and her husband left the company (becoming the first of the eleven staff members in the photograph to depart Microsoft), in large part due to a dispute regarding payment of overtime wages:

Bill's letter confirming [a $50,000 offer to Steve Ballmer to become his assistant] became a personnel disaster when some disgruntled soul copied it and tacked it on the office bulletin board. Along with his salary, high for Microsoft, Ballmer was to get a 5 to 10 percent cut of the company based on a formula involving the year's revenue growth. It sorely rankled loyalists who had been slaving for the company since the Albuquerque days without so much as a profit-sharing plan to show for it. When it came to clerical help, Gates had been tightfisted beyond the bounds of the law. Overtime had always been paid on a straight-time basis, and though the rules affecting programmers might be debatable, the rules affecting clerical workers were not. Marla Wood and other office staffers had checked into the labor regulations and discovered that they deserved time and a half for overtime — currently and retroactively. When Steve Wood approached Gates about it, he agreed to start paying time and a half but insisted that back pay was out of the question. If the secretaries wanted to file a complaint, well, let 'em.

They did. When the state notified Gates that the back pay was due, it wasn't long before Marla Wood got the news:
Bill comes storming into my office saying he just had a phone call from these people, just livid. This was the one time I was really on the receiving end of one of his rages — I mean, just screaming about this and how it was going to ruin his reputation ... This would be on his reports forever and ever ...

I was saved by an overseas phone call which he proceeded to take at my desk, whereupon I ran out, went down to Steve's office and said, "I'm quitting. I can't stand it here any more." And he said, "That's all right; I'm seeing a headhunter tomorrow anyway."

But before she and her husband departed Microsoft, Marla saw to it that the issue was settled. Although it amounted to only $100 or so for her and as little as $20 for the others, "It was just a matter of principle."

* Paul Allen (front row, right): Paul Allen, a childhood friend of Bill Gates, co-founded Microsoft with Gates in 1975 and resigned his day-to-day position in 1983 after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease (for which he was successfully treated), although he remained on Microsoft's board of directors until 2000. A variety of post-Microsoft investments, in technology companies and other areas of business (including ownership of the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team) have helped bring him an estimated net worth of $20 billion, ranking him as the 6th richest person in the world. Like Bill Gates, he engages in philanthropic efforts through his chairmanship of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

* Bob O'Rear (second row, left): In 1978 programmer Bob O'Rear was, at age 35, the oldest of the Microsoft staff members pictured above, and, as a native Texan, one of only two staffers who did not come from the Pacific Northwest area. He was also one of the best-educated employees, a NASA engineer who held degrees in mathematics and physics. He left the company in 1993 and now runs a cattle ranch in Texas in addition to serving on the boards of a variety of high-tech firms.

* Bob Greenberg (second row, second from left): Bob Greenberg, who arranged the deal for the studio photograph displayed above, was a programmer Bill Gates knew from his Harvard days, hired in 1977 to help Microsoft create a new version of the BASIC programming language for a new Texas Instruments computer. Greenberg proved invaluable for more than just his technical expertise, lending the fledgling company $7,000 during a financial crunch in mid-1977; although he left Microsoft in 1981, he went from one business juggernaut to another, helping the family business, Coleco, launch the Cabbage Patch Kids marketing craze of the 1980s. He now reportedly develops software for golf courses.

* Marc McDonald (second row, second from right): Marc McDonald is generally identified as Microsoft's (then "Micro-Soft") first employee, hired in 1976 to adapt BASIC for the new NCR 7200 machine. (Although a couple of other people had worked for Microsoft on a contract basis, McDonald was the first hiree to draw a regular salary.) Marc left Microsoft in 1984, reportedly disenchanted with the changes wrought by the company's burgeoning growth, and went to work for fellow ex-Microsoft staffer Paul Allen's new company, Asymetrix. In an amusing coincidence, McDonald eventually ended up back at Microsoft when it acquired Design Intelligence, the Seattle-based software company for which he was then working.

* Gordon Letwin (second row, right): The initial 1978 meeting between Gordon Letwin and his future employer, Bill Gates, was somewhat contentious, according to the biography Gates:
Befitting its role as a haven for soldering-iron types, Heath[kit] was now marketing its own computers, including a Z-80 machine with a homegrown edition of BASIC instead of the Microsoft version.

As Bill Gates was attempting to correct this egregious error, he was introduced to a black-haired gnome by the name of Gordon Letwin, who proceeded to chew him out in front of a group of about fifteen people. Letwin, the author of Heath's BASIC, felt his turf was being violated — and by the purveyor of an inferior product to boot. Bill Gates nonetheless prevailed, selling Heath his BASIC and FORTRAN for H-DOS, a proprietary operating system Letwin had developed for Heath. But Letwin had instinctively understood how to win the favor of William Henry Gates: Stand up to the guy. By the end of the year Gordon Letwin would come to work for Microsoft and begin work on a BASIC compiler.

Among other projects, Gordon served as Microsoft's chief architect for the development of the infamous OS/2 operating system and stayed with the company longer than any of the other staffers pictured above (with the exception of Bill Gates himself), finally leaving in 1993 to escape the day-to-day tech bustle and enjoy life. He has reportedly contributed a substantial portion of the money he acquired during his tenure at Microsoft to various environmental causes.

* Steve Wood (top row, left): Steve Wood was Microsoft's first married employee, a Stanford graduate with a master's degree who was hired in 1976 to help create a Microsoft version of FORTRAN. Later, when Steve was serving as Microsoft's office manager, his wife Marla joined the company as a clerical worker, eventually taking over all of Microsoft's bookkeeping chores after Miriam Lubow stayed behind when the firm relocated from New Mexico to Washington. Steve and Marla both left Microsoft in 1980 (as detailed above); in 1996, Steve Wood founded Wireless Services Corp., a company that produces communications software for wireless carriers.

* Bob Wallace (top row, center): Bob Wallace joined Microsoft in 1978 after responding to a photocopied ad that Paul Allen had left in the Seattle computer store where he worked. He served as a production manager and software designer until 1983, when he became (like Marc McDonald would the following year) disenchanted with the changes in the company's culture brought about by Microsoft's success and growth:
[Paul] Allen's illness and departure coalesced uneasiness within the ranks of the remaining Albuquerquians — the core group that had helped establish Microsoft early, had followed their leader to Bellevue, had stuck with the company through some tumultuous years, and now found themselves being middle-managed into oblivion. In March 1983 Bob Wallace, in the best Microsoft tradition, got into a heated dispute with his supervisor over a technical point. The supervisor told him, "there's nothing you can do about it, and you can't talk to Bill about it ... I'm the only one who can talk to Bill."

For Wallace, being barred from talking with Bill was not just a shock but an insult. He told his supervisor as much, half expecting Gates to intercede. When it didn't happen, he resigned.
In 1983 Bob Wallace started his own company, Quicksoft, which marketed the text-processing program PC-Write, generally touted as being the first (widely-used) shareware program. He sold Quicksoft in 1991, moved to northern California a few years later, and — long interested in psychedelic drugs — started Mind Books (a bookstore offering literature about psychoactive plants and compounds) and the Promind Foundation (an organization dedicated to supporting scientific research and public education about psychedelics). In 2002, Bob Wallace became the first (and so far the only) one of the eleven Microsoft staffers pictured above to pass away, succumbing to pneumonia at age 53.

* Jim Lane (top row, right): Jim Lane, who got his start with microcomputers at the Denver-based Digital Group, was hired by Microsoft in late 1978 (shortly before this picture was taken). As a Microsoft project manager, he was a key figure in forging the partnership between Microsoft software and Intel's microprocessors (a relationship symbolized by the development of the term "Wintel"). He left Microsoft in 1985 (reportedly stating that the company had "beat the enthusiasm out of me") to run his own software/consultancy business.

Nearly thirty years later, just before Bill Gates stepped down from being involved in the day-to-day operations of Microsoft, the eleven staffers pictured above reunited for another photograph, with office manager Miriam Lubow (who missed the original sitting) taking the place of Bob Wallace (who died in 2002):

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Brian Peppers - A Registered Sex Offender from Ohio, USA.

A photo of an alleged sex offender named "Brian Peppers" surfaced in my office today. The picture was obtained from the ohio sex offender website.

The picture looks too gruesome to be real.

Origins: The above-displayed photograph, which accompanies an entry in Ohio's Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification (eSORN) system, is for real. The picture depicts a 37-year-old man named Brian Peppers, registered due to a conviction for Gross Sexual Imposition in Lucas County, Ohio, in 1998.

Although many viewers were of the opinion that the image was fake (possibly a picture of some type of mannequin or a digitally manipulated photograph), and that the entry in eSORN was an erroneous one (possible a mistake, an inside joke, or a hacking prank), we verified both the photo and the entry in several ways:

* We contacted the Ohio Attorney General's office, who told us: "This is an accurate photo of this offender."
* The same Brian Peppers appears on a list of registered sex offenders in Lucas County.
* A record exists for court proceedings related to cases involving a person named Brian J. Peppers, charged with two counts of Gross Sexual Imposition.
* We heard from several people who live in or near Lucas County and said they'd encountered Brian Peppers. One of them told us he had a relative who attended school with Brian Peppers and forwarded us some high school yearbook photos to document it:

Brian Peppers' unusual physical appearance might be due to a condition such as Apert's Syndrome or Crouzon's Syndrome. He appears unusually short in the eSORN mug shot because he is wheelchair-bound. zzzzz
The address in his eSORN entry indicates he is (or was) a resident of a nursing home. His court docket indicates he was sentenced in 1998 to 30 days in jail with another 5 years probation for Gross Sexual Imposition, which is defined in Ohio as "unwilling sexual contact with one who is not one's spouse."

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