New Bill Endorses Vaccinating Children

Parents who do not want to vaccinate their children for schools will now have extra requirements in order to be excused. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill last monday that will require parents to have a certificate stating their religious beliefs that stop them from vaccinating their children. The parents must also present a not from their child’s physician stating that the physician has spoken with the family about the dangers of skipping vaccinations.

The bill, which will not take effect until October 16th of next year, is meant to curb the number of children who are not vaccinated. According to the Washington Post, many parents have spoken up against the bill stating that it creates pressure for them to forgo their religious beliefs. Others have pointed to the Measles outbreak that took place in Disneyland earlier this year that made its way from Central California to 14 other states.

Parents who still wish to skip the vaccination process for their child will have to apply for a certificate stating their beliefs and reasoning, and meet with the physician, although many physicians have stated that they drop children as patients who refuse to be vaccinated due to health reasons. Another aspect of the bill requires parents to claim their beliefs the summer before their kindergarten, 6th grade and 9th grade years.

The Amazon Echo

One part Bluetooth speaker and one part personal voice assistant, the Echo by Amazon, also known as “Alexa,” is the latest futuristic gadget experiment.  The Echo was released in November 2014 and has some very impressive characteristics along with a promising future.

The Echo is controlled by voice command using the trigger words, “Alexa,” or “Amazon,” to begin.  It is black and cylindrical and contains a ring of lights at the top which illuminate blue, orange, or red whenever it hears its name.  These colors help the user determine whether Alexa is listening, processing, responding, or sitting idle.  Once it comprehends the command, it talks back in crystal clear sound.

It has seven microphones and can hear up to 20 feet away.  There are times, though, when this can become an issue, as Alexa does require an outlet to be used, so moving it around the house can be cumbersome.

The Echo comes with a free Alexa app that lets you set alarms and timers, manage music, and do voice training.  It also has a running list of your interactions with Alexa.  Every query is stored in a “card,” on the app.  These cards show you what Alexa heard and her response.

Through these cards, Amazon was able to generate some facts about the Echo.  For example, a half a million people have said, “I love you,” to Alexa and “Uptown Funk,” is Alexa’s most-requested song to play.

Essentially, the Echo is a piece of home décor that you can talk to.  Alexa is artificial intelligence and the more it is used, the more it will learn.  Google, Apple, and other large tech and telecommunications companies have been working on ways for people and businesses to control their physical lives through digital platforms.

Amazon wants to get developers on board to create devices that can connect and work with Alexa.  The proper developer support could help Alexa flourish into a serious smart hub for the home in the future.

Joliet prepares for holiday season

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, Joliet businesses are preparing for the holiday season in different ways. Locally owned stores, retail chains, and the Louis Joliet Mall are all taking part in the holiday spirit and are preparing for a rush of shoppers this weekend.

Louis Joliet Mall plans to offer different promotions including a “Text to Win” contest, which gives shoppers a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree, as well as providing protein bars and refreshments at the mall to keep the customers shopping. “It gives them the energy to keep them going,” explains mall General Manager Eric Loula. The mall also features Santa Clause, who is available to take pictures with. A tree dedicated to the Salvation Army has been added and allows shoppers to donate to families less fortunate.

Downtown Joliet is joining in on the holiday spirit as well. They plan to bring in the holiday season with a parade and other festivities. “Light Up the Holidays Parade and Festival” will be this Friday, which is presented by the University of St. Francis. The festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. and will last all day. The tree lighting begins at 5:15 p.m. followed by the parade shortly after at 5:30 p.m. Restaurants such as Tin Roof and Gji’s Sweet Shoppe plan to offer cookie decorating and Jitters Coffee Shop will have a photographer to take pictures with Santa Clause for $5. For more information about the “Light Up the Holidays Parade and Festival,” visit the website for downtown Joliet.