82-Year-Old Japanese Woman Learns to code, writes popular mobile app

En español |  Looking for a new hobby? Maybe it’s time to try coding.

That’s what 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya of Japan decided to do this past year. Since learning to write code in early 2017, the retired bank clerk has gone on to author a free iOS game, Hinadan, specifically geared toward an older, Japanese audience. The app has garnered nearly 5 stars on the Apple App Store, and roughly 53,000 downloads worldwide, since its debut a year ago; Wakamiya is now busy planning future versions in English, Chinese and possibly French.

Just as Facebook and Apple see a median employee age of 29 and 31, respectively, Wakamiya is busy leaving ageist naysayers in the dust. In the months since Apple CEO Tim Cook called Wakamiya the “world’s oldest app developer” in attendance at the tech giant’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., the Tokyo native’s spotlight has only grown — no small feat in an industry where tech workers over 40 are often deemed “old.” This past year, Japan’s government appointed her to a special committee on aging; and just last month, Wakamiya was a keynote speaker at an event at the United Nations’ New York City headquarters, titled Why Are Digital Skills Critical for Older Persons?

For Wakamiya, the answer comes down to motivation. She’s unflinching in her assessment of the challenges facing Japan’s aging population (age 65 and above), which is projected to grow to 40 percent by 2055.

“Seniors tend to be depressed as they age, because they lose … family members,” said Wakamiya, in a recent interview with the millennial publication Refinery29. “By teaching them to do new things, it gives them an excitement, a motivation — I really like that feeling and being able to share that.”

After noticing a lack of mobile games for older people in her country — in the United States, AARP Games offers many options — Wakamiya asked software developers to step in. Uninterested, they suggested she make a game herself. She took them up on the suggestion. Wakamiya soon bought programming books and learned Apple’s Swift programming language through lessons with a programmer, nearly 200 miles away from her home in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, via Facebook Messenger and Skype.

This wasn’t the first time that Wakamiya took on a challenge. She’s been dabbling in the tech field since the age of 60.

Upon retiring from a 43-year career as a bank clerk (she began at age 18), Wakamiya spent long hours caregiving for her then-90-year-old mother. Feeling isolated, and seeking connection with the outside world, Wakamiya bought her first computer, then moved on to a Microsoft PC, and later a Mac and iPhones. In between learning the piano, at age 75, Wakamiya eventually joined a computer club for seniors, Mellow Club, learning to create Excel art along the way. Then, this past year came Wakamiya’s focus on creating the game Hinadan.

The app, based on the annual Japanese doll festival of Hina Matsuri, invites players to arrange 12 ornamental dolls — representing the country’s emperor, family and guests — in a specific order. The game requires in-depth memorization of various arrangements, and has become especially popular with older women, who enjoy playing it with their grandchildren, Wakamiya said.

“They found an app they can actually relate to,” Wakamiya told Refinery29.

As improbable as her story may sound, Wakamiya isn’t a total outlier on the “silver” tech front. In 2015, then-98-year-old Australian grandmother Millie Browne created a word app, “Millie’s Game.” And this past fall, the New York Times reported that roughly 1 million of the 45 million global users of the free online coding platform Codeacademy are 55 or older. Yet Wakamiya’s rise from retired bank clerk to tech celeb still surprises her.

“I didn’t expect such a huge response to my childish app,” Wakamiya recently told Channel NewsAsia. She’s now eager to develop more game apps, adding, “I have many things I want to try.”

Vaccination method that wiped out smallpox gets unleashed today on Ebola

With more than 7,500 doses of an experimental vaccine against Ebola, health officials today began a vaccination campaign to try to thwart the latest outbreak of the deadly virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the World Health Organization, the campaign will start with healthcare workers operating in areas affected by the outbreak. Then officials will focus on a “ring vaccination” strategy, which targets people who have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of Ebola, as well as people who have had contact with those contacts. (This creates rings of vaccination around each case, hence the name). These defensive social circles ensure that those most vulnerable to contracting the virus are protected while also preventing the spread of the virus from the most likely sources. The same strategy was critical during the campaign in the 1960s and ‘70s to eradicate smallpox—the only human disease that has ever been successfully wiped out.

New Ebola outbreak declared in Democratic Republic of Congo The Ebola-vaccination campaign will take place in the DRC’s northwestern Equator Province (Province de l’Équateur), where there have been 46 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases, including 26 deaths, as of May 18. Officials have already identified 600 contacts and contacts of contacts of cases. Nearly all cases and contacts have been in the remote town of Bikoro. But officials counted four confirmed cases in Mbandaka, a provincial capital with more than a million residents. This has raised concerns about the potential for the outbreak to explode.

The more than 7,500 doses of vaccine already in the DRC are enough to cover approximately 50 rings of 150 people, the WHO notes. An additional 8,000 doses are on their way to the country, arriving in the next few days.

The experimental vaccine—rVSV?G-ZEBOV—has not been approved by relevant regulatory authorities, but the WHO has given it the greenlight under an expanded access/compassionate-use protocol. The organization has reason to be optimistic that the vaccine will squash the outbreak.

The vaccine is a live, chimeric virus capable of replicating in cells. It has the backbone of the relatively harmless vesicular stomatitis virus, which tends to infect cattle and only causes mild disease in humans. This engineered virus also carries the code for Ebola’s glycoprotein. This is a protein that hangs on the outside of Ebola viruses and allows them to invade and infect human cells. On the vaccine virus, the protein can prompt the human immune system to develop protective responses against the real Ebola.

In early work, rVSV?G-ZEBOV protected mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and non-human primates from Ebola. In 2015, an international team of researchers conducted trials of ring vaccination in Guinea and Sierra Leone, vaccinating nearly 6,000 within 117 rings. The results suggested that the vaccine was generally safe and 100-percent effective at preventing Ebola. None of those vaccinated developed Ebola virus disease, whereas there were 23 cases among contacts in the trial who were either not vaccinated or received a delayed vaccination.

Despite high hopes for the vaccine in this outbreak, the ring campaign won’t be easy to pull off in such a remote area of the DRC. “Implementing the Ebola ring vaccination is a complex procedure,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement. “The vaccines need to be stored at a temperature of minus 60 to minus 80 degrees centigrade, and so transporting them to and storing them in affected areas is a major challenge.”

So far, WHO, local health authorities, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF aka Doctors Without Borders), and other partners have established an air bridge and have used helicopters and motorbikes to get around and deliver supplies. They’ve also transported the vaccine in containers that maintain sub-zero conditions for up to a week and have set up freezers in Bikoro and Mbandaka.

As officials scramble, they hope the efforts are enough. “We need to act fast to stop the spread of Ebola by protecting people at risk of being infected with the Ebola virus, identifying and ending all transmission chains, and ensuring that all patients have rapid access to safe, high-quality care,” Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general for Emergency Preparedness and Response, added in a statement.

Mom’s heartwarming video shows older boys including shy son in basketball game

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They need to make some with bells…

Gregg Miller proves you can make a fortune with anything. Even dog balls.

Not the kind you throw around playing in the dog park.

“What I’m doing is I’m developing testicular implants for pets,” Miller tells CNBC.

The 64-year-old inventor and entrepreneur created Neuticles, silicone implants for male dogs to replace testicles after neutering, so that a dog’s appearance…down there…doesn’t change.

Do dogs care about this? “Yes, they do,” Miller says.

Certainly their owners must. Over the last 20 years, Miller claims he’s sold over 500,000 sets of Neuticles. The average pair costs $310, though some cost a lot more, like the $2,800 watermelon-sized custom set Miller made for an elephant in a zoo.

When residents learned Broomfield(CO)’s HS was a possible target for Westboro Baptist Church, 600 people showed up to counter-protest.

Messages advocating tolerance and love were seen Tuesday afternoon on people’s makeup, on clothing and on signs — some of which also proclaimed that, “Jesus had two dads.”

When Broomfield residents learned that Broomfield High School was a possible target of hate speech and protest, more than 600 counter-protesters showed up.

A “Community Hug” was created in response to a rumored visit from Westboro Baptist Church members, who said they would be in Broomfield at 2:30 p.m. They never arrived — a common tactic of the small family band based in Topeka, Kansas, that advocates hate against public schools, LGBTQ individuals, and the U.S. military.

Broomfield police showed up at 11 a.m.; community members began arriving at 12:30 p.m., but those who sparked the event never showed up.

Organizer Melodee Rodriguez, who runs a private Broomfield moms’ Facebook group, first learned about the possible visit last week.

“I thought ‘is this real?’” she said Tuesday. “Why Broomfield High School?”

She created a private Facebook group invitation Friday night targeted at Broomfield moms who wanted to build a “wall” or “community hug” around the school in case protesters showed up.

Read the full story at broomfieldenterprise.com.

Waianae High School senior will graduate Friday with perfect attendance record. And it’s not just through high school, but all the way back to kindergarten. It’s a mind boggling streak. But Eddie Keller Jr. says as a kid, he wanted to see how long he could keep it going. And he just couldn’t stop.

A Waianae High School senior will graduate on Friday with a perfect attendance record. And its not just through high school, but all the way back to kindergarten.
Its a mind boggling streak. But Eddie Keller Jr. says as a kid, he wanted to see how long he could keep it going. And he just couldnt stop.
His quest for perfection started at Leihoku Elementary School. Even at such a young age, he wanted to accomplish something many would find difficult.
I just wanted to try and see how long I can get perfect attendance, Keller said.
So every year you got it? KHON2 asked.
Yup, he said.
From kindergarten through high school, The Department of Education confirmed that Keller made it to school everyday. Perfect attendance at Leihoku, Waianae Intermediate, and Waianae High School. A streak of more than 2,000 school days.
Thats a lot, I didnt even know that was that much, Keller said.
He always told me hes not gonna miss school.He likes success to get better jobs.He likes to be dependable, buy a house, said his father Edwin Keller.
Yes, there were times when he was sick. But he didnt want to ruin his record. So he would see the school nurse and go back to class. There was a time when he broke his arm, but that didnt keep him home either.
Why didnt you want to stay home when you were sick? KHON2 asked.
Just wanted to go to school, get perfect attendance, and learn, said Eddie.
There were many challenges along the way aside from being sick. One of the biggest challenges the family had to face, they were homeless for about five months. They lived on the beach and even then Eddie Jr. never missed a day of school. He was never even late.
His parents sayEddie has always been responsible. He has four younger sisters who look up to him. And yes, they too have perfect attendance records.
Eddie will work this summer. He plans to go to the University of Hawaii and wants to continue that perfect attendance record. He eventually wants to become a firefighter.

Our rights!

ATLANTA — Despite the NFL’s approval of a revised policy that requires players on the field to stand during the national anthem, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson told Newsday on Wednesday that his players are free to take a knee or perform some other protest without fear of repercussion from the team.

League owners unanimously adopted a policy that allows players who don’t want to participate in the anthem to remain in the locker room. Players who do appear on the field for the anthem must stand; if they don’t, their respective club faces a league-issued fine and teams can levy additional fines.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

Johnson has been highly critical of the possibility that owners would require players to stand. During the owners meetings in Orlando in March, Johnson told reporters he didn’t feel a change in protocol was necessary. “I know there’s some discussion of keeping players off the field until after the anthem. I think that’s a particularly bad idea . . . I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.”

No Jets players took a knee last season. Instead, the players, coaches and Johnson locked arms during the playing of the anthem. Johnson also has worked closely with several Jets players, as well as former linebacker Demario Davis, who now plays with the Saints, to promote social justice and criminal reform issues. He wants that work to continue and will speak with players and coaches in the coming days to make sure the new workplace guidelines don’t interfere with that mission.

“I seriously struggled with this,” he said of the anthem modifications approved by the owners. “You know my position on the anthem, and you have to understand that the plan we ended up with, due to some serious work in the [meeting] room, was vastly less onerous than the one that was presented to me late last week. In the end, I felt I had to support it from a membership standpoint.”

The fact that Johnson will pay any fines out of his own pocket and not sanction any players who may want to demonstrate during the anthem made it more palatable that he join his fellow owners in approving the anthem protocol.

“Even without those fines, this is going to be tough on the players, and I want a chance to speak with the coaches and other players to get feedback on this policy and to build on the good work and momentum that we have built up on these issues of social justice, on legislation, and all the things that we can do,” he said. “I don’t think that this policy will interfere with that at all.

“I have a really good relationship with the players, and I hope we can keep that going and I trust that we will. I’m so proud of our players and their efforts to date. I think that is the most important thing to get across. I could not be more proud of the guys.”

How a group of teenagers convinced the Utah legislature to recognize climate change

(CNN) Piper Christian has yet to vote in her first election, but she’s already changing the political landscape in her state.

The 18-year-old from Utah spent two years spearheading a resolution for the state legislature to acknowledge climate change.

After a long journey through the House and Senate, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert officially signed the resolution in March and held a ceremonial signing with the students last week.

The resolution is not a law, but a statement “emphasizing that protection of our environment and investment in our community are not mutually exclusive,” in Christian’s own words.

The Logan High School senior says she and other students from her school started organizing in 2016 when they learned of an earlier state resolution urging the Environmental Protection Agency to stop regulating carbon emissions.

“Our little high school environmental club got wind of this, and we were really inspired to be more involved politically,” she told CNN, referring to the Logan Environmental Action Force.

When the teenagers attempted to introduce their bill to the Senate in 2017, they were denied a hearing by the Natural Resources Committee.

But they didn’t give up. The students organized their own unofficial hearing and invited legislators and students of all ages to attend.

“We completely packed one of the biggest conference rooms in the (state) Capitol. It was standing room only,” Christian said. “Students from all over the state were able to testify about why climate change is important.”

Mishka Banuri, a junior at West High School, was one such student. She was inspired to see the diversity in backgrounds and beliefs of the young people who spoke, and explained to lawmakers why environmental conservation is important to her.

Republican Rep. Becky Edwards also attended. Edwards was so impressed with the students’ analysis of the issue that she decided to sponsor their bill.

Although it did not pass that year, she continued working with the teenagers to draft a bipartisan resolution that could pull through in the 2018 session.

“We were not interested in fighting the battle of ‘do you believe in climate change?” Edwards told CNN. “That was less important to us than getting to the point of ‘can we all agree that changes are happening?”

Christian and Banuri, along with dozens of their peers, focused on breaking down the issue into how rising temperatures, snowfall and air quality affect Utah residents every day.

They listened to lawmakers who were initially opposed to the bill and added language to represent the concerns of their constituents.

This year, the committee that had rejected the first hearing unanimously passed the resolution.

“I’m hoping that other conservative states, people and students especially see that it is possible to work towards a healthy future and not lose hope,” said Banuri.

She believes that if they could find bipartisan solutions in a state like Utah — which has 86 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the legislature, according to their online rosters — then similar measures can be taken in other places.

Both Banuri and Christian will continue advocating for environmental progress in their state and around the country.

“What was critical was that we got the conversation started,” said Christian. “I would like to see further legislation, and I would love for young people to be a part of the conversation.”