Technology Archives

Friday…er, Tuesday Link Wrap-up

I’ve been on something of a sabbatical with regards to blogging and news-reading in general. I have, however, saved some links during that time, so here’s a bunch of them.

If even the Dutch have fallen out of love with windmills (by which I mean, they can’t afford to keep subsidizing them), you gotta’ wonder.

Right after Alabama’s illegal immigration law kicked in, unemployment dropped in a big way. Yeah, those jobs you keep saying Americans won’t do? Turns out they just might.

Spain has apparently had enough with the failed policies of socialists. They voted them in to appease terrorists back in 2004 following the Madrid bombings. But since then, Spain has been tanking economically along with the rest of Europe, and what seemed like a good idea at the time has now been revealed to be a huge mistake. This past weekend, conservatives won a landslide victory.

Iranian Christian pastor update: "Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani’s denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity. "

"Who would Jesus protest?" According to Jimmie Bise, working from the New Testament, He wouldn’t be protesting government. He’d be changing hearts, one individual at a time.

Iran with nuclear weapons capability. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m certain many on the Left will be shocked, unfortunately.

And finally, the oldest social network is new again. (Click for a larger version.)

Friday Link Wrap-up

Kenyans have been winning marathons all over the world. The Dutch have decided to try and keep them out by only giving 1% of the prize money to any foreigners who win the Utrech Marathon. I don’t think that’s racism, but I do believe it’s wrong anyway.

Don’t bet your life on outrageous claims by proponents of embryonic stem cell research. Someone  has, though.

Civility Watch: The Left has been sending death threats to the eeevil Koch brothers. The wrong Koch brothers.

Civility Watch 2: Who said, "Civility is the last refuge of scoundrels" and "Let’s not be civil"? (And said it in the same paper that blamed the Giffords shooting on incivility from Republicans.)

Civility Watch 3: If a Republican had said this, he would have been called "racist" or "Islamophobic". But a member of the Obama administration said it, so no outcry.

Do iPads cause unemployment? Does Jesse Jackson, Jr. think we should have banned cars to keep the buggy builders in business?

Hanging a small cross inside your company van is a firing offense in the UK, apparently.

A death panel in Canada pronounced their sentence on a baby in Ontario by saying that life support should be removed, against the parents’ wishes. Instead, they brought him to a country that, so far, does not have a fully socialized system (that would be America), and the child did so well that he was weaned off the ventilator and is now back home.  It’s still touch and go, I imagine, but critics said he’d never get off mechanical breathing. Way to go, baby Joseph! (Which begs the question; if the US goes fully socialized, where will Canadians go for good health care?)

And finally, the same old song. (Click for a larger image.)

The Old Fuddy-Duddy

I’ve been a bit of a techie for quite some time (I’m in the biz, so it comes with the territory). I’ve had e-mail in one form or another since the late 80s (using dial-up Unix machines). I keep up with what’s going on, even if I don’t buy the vast majority of it. I like what’s happening in the tech world, generally.

But there’s one thing I’ve not figured out. I’ve always preferred CDs that I can buy and hold. I can play them on a CD player or in my car. Anytime, anywhere. Sure, I’ve had MP3 players for a long time , but I’ve always pulled the audio from the CD first and then copied it to my player; first an old RIO player, then a Sansa, and these days an iPod Touch. Never an issue.

But for some reason, huge music publishers are trying to figure out a way to do exactly that; the same thing I’ve been doing for a decade.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is in talks with record companies to give iTunes music buyers easier access to their songs on multiple devices, three people with knowledge of the plans said.

Apple is negotiating with music companies, including Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) and EMI Group Ltd., said the people, who asked for anonymity because the talks are private. An agreement may be announced by midyear, two of the people said.

The arrangement would give users more flexibility in how they access purchased music. Apple and the record labels are eager to maintain demand for digital downloading amid rising popularity for Internet services such as Pandora Media Inc., which don’t sell tracks and instead let users stream songs from the Web, whatever the device.

Talk of streaming music providers aside (and I love Pandora), I already have access to my music on multiple devices. This is because I have the physical media and can do with it what I want. Today, not 4 months from now. It’s for this reason I don’t even intend to buy any music from the iTunes store.

I like the concept of buying just single songs that you like rather than a whole album that you might not like the rest of, but if it requires Apple and at least 5 other music publishing houses to figure out how to get the music you buy onto multiple platforms, did you really buy it in the first place?

Friday Link Wrap-up

Photonic computers, that use light rather than electrical signals to do the work, may actually be on the horizon.  This will be huge.  While it’s still a few years down the road, the number of years is in the single digits at this point.

Let’s be more like Europe!  "The UK’s tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer."  Even a little socialism can be a dangerous thing.  Exhibit A.

Obama supporters are "exhausted of defending" him.  If this turns into an exhaustion of voting for Democrats, House and Senate seats polling close now may yet be a big win for Republicans.  Obama only has himself to blame; supporters are not exhausted of defending "the mess" he inherited, they’re tired of defending his "accomplishments".  If you’ve lost Jon Stewart, you’ve lost a lot of folks who think he’s a news anchor.  (Which is, unfortunately, quite a lot of people.)

No, ACORN isn’t really dead, it’s just changed its name.  And it’s still breaking the law, so says federal investigators who are urging that the funding moratorium be made permanent.

Obama says the stimulus kept the recession from falling into a depression.  But economists are now saying that, technically, we came out of the recession in June, 2009.  That’s before the stimulus really kicked in.  We spent $800 billion on measures to save the economy from something it had recovered from on its own.  Under that guise, we got record- and precedent-setting debt. 

Which is why the Tea Party influence in the Republican party is so needed now, even if the GOP goes kicking and screaming.  (Click for a larger image.)

Chuck Asay cartoon

The Church Online

We got a tip at SCO about an article by Mike Rosen-Molina dealing with how churches can use and are using Social Media to get the Word out.  While churches have had web sites for quite some time, the emergence of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter change the dynamic.

So while static webpages might be good for drawing in people already curious about a religion’s tenants, actually getting the attention of someone who wasn’t… that was a little more tricky without coming across as spam. That is, until the advent of social media, and its accompanying ability to build relationships online.

"Creating a web site is perhaps the most basic way to use the Internet for evangelism," agreed Rev. Michael White, a United Methodist pastor and author of Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too!. He noted that newer social networking sites offered more opportunities for outreach because they could better enable conversation than a static page.

"People of faith can use such social media as Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc. to reach out both to ‘seekers’ (those looking for more information about religious faith) and believers alike to share the tenets of their faith, encourage deepening one’s religious faith, answering questions of doubt, and much more," he said.

With social media, more of a relationship can be built, which is a better foundation for sharing the gospel.  Now, I would imagine that these online relationships themselves typically aren’t enough, but they are a much better launching point than even a blog.  I have a blog (of course) and a Facebook account, and frankly unsaved friends of mine are much more likely to read my Facebook posts, notes and status updates than would read the blog.

The article also touches on specifically religious social media, like Christian sites for video sharing and Twitter-like communication.

While they may be good for uniting the faithful, some are skeptical of services that allow believers to segregate themselves from the wider world. Saddington said that both secular and religious services had their uses, but that people should keep in mind that they were unlikely to spread their faith if they confined themselves to online communities that consisted only of fellow believers.

"There’s no outreach when you’re talking to the already converted," agreed Coppedge. He said that religious social media might be useful for parents worried about their children being exposed to inappropriate content on MySpace or Facebook, but saw little use for them otherwise.

"The focus should always be on building community," he said, "If you limit yourself to only Christian communities, that’s not wise. Some people are afraid of using this technology, but you have to remember that technology is not inherently good or evil. It’s all in how you use it."

It’s the "in the word but not of it" philosophy.  The article is a good read and I think a balanced look at the issues.

So Long, Geocities

Yahoo! bought the Geocities free web hosting services back in 1999, when it was a really big thing.  Lately, traffic has been consistently dropping and so later this year, Yahoo! will close it down.

My first homepage was on Geocities.  It still exists here, with old news, outdated e-mail addresses, and a pointer to the URL where the next incarnation would be (which, itself, was long ago removed as the ISP went away). 

Anyway, just saying good-bye to an old friend.

25 Random Things About Me

This is a meme that blazing through Facebook; you write 25 random things about you and tag 25 other people to do it themselves.  Usually these are short, 1-sentence items, but, hey, I blog; I can’t just do a quick list.

For your information, here’s what I wrote:

Personal note: This is probably longer than the usual response to this meme. I’m like that (and it’s one of the 25 items below).

I’m a Christian, I love Jesus, and I don’t apologize for it. I won’t beat you over the head with it, but I certainly won’t hide it, either. If you ask, I’ll answer.

The way I met my wife Susan is one of those small-world stories. While working at a summer camp after my senior year of high school, I met her sister, Joy, who was also a counselor. She was going to be a senior at the same college I would be a freshman at; Asbury College. So I got to know her to find out more about Asbury. Then, my senior year, as I was bringing my sister to the school (her freshman year) I saw Susan and though, “I either know her, or someone related to her.” They looked very much alike. Separately, I got to know a guy named Kevin who was also a freshman and was taking computer classes (as was I). Turned out that Susan and he went to the same missionary boarding school in Malaysia (Dalat International School).

My first car was a 1976 Dodge Coronet Crestwood station wagon, which was already rather old by the time I purchased it in 1983 from Zikakus Chevrolet (Ithaca, NY). It was so big, I named it the Battlestar Galactica. Its size came in handy, from carting a carload for camp staff breaks, to hauling all the luggage back to school after a van accident at an Asbury College SASF retreat, to hauling everything I owned in the world to my first job in Atlanta, GA. Sometimes, in order to start it, I had to take the air filter cover off, put something in the “butterfly” flap to keep it open (like a stick), and then it would crank up. Susan and I went on our honeymoon in it because the Ford Escort I had purchased in Atlanta was stolen shortly before the wedding. More and more started going out on it (power steering pump, radiator) that, in 1987, I finally gave it to the auto mechanic who’d worked on it for so long so he could scrap it for parts.

Read the rest of this entry

Good For You(Tube)!

In a blog post, the YouTube crew has set up some new rules for "mature content".  They’re not banning it, but they are taking steps to ensure that folks don’t stumble into what they don’t want.

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t.

I just have to give the YouTube folks a big "’atta boy" for this.  Taking common sense steps to keep, not just porn (which they don’t accept anyway) but even "suggestive content" out of the limelight ought to be cheered when it happens.  If you really want to find it, you can, but if you don’t, you don’t have to sift through it.  This is especially true for kids; YouTube is a nice resource to have for many purposes, but it can be a minefield.

More like this please. 

Google Decides to Support Free Speech

Used to be that Google would allow pro-abortion groups to advertise with them, but not anti-abortion ones.  The threat of legal action in the UK has shown them the error of their ways.

Christian and other religious groups opposed to abortion were allowed to advertise on Google for the first time from today, after the search engine capitulated in the face of a legal challenge.

Google had banned pro-life religious groups from buying adverts against search terms such as “abortion” and “abortion help” but was forced to abandon its policy after it was accused of breaching equalities legislation.

The challenge was brought by the Christian Institute, a cross-denominational pressure group, who said that Google’s change of heart was an acknowledgement of the rights of everybody to hold an opinion on the subject.

Mike Judge from the Christian Institute said: “Google were taking adverts from pro-abortion groups, and our view is that was a free speech issue. What we want to do is set out the acts in a pretty factual and pretty sensible way”.

Google had been taken to court by the Christian Institute earlier in the year, arguing that its policy was in breach of the Equalities Act of 2006. Initially, Google said it would fight in the courts, but changed its mind over the summer. Its new policy applies globally.

Acknowledging that the issue of abortion was “an emotive subject”, Google said that it reconsidered its policy following the Christian Institute’s challenge, and said it would be “creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way”.

I Just Don’t Get "Twitter"

The following is something I wrote in a forum for a podcast network that I frequent (GSPN).  There was a post from one member who was getting off of Twitter because it was sucking up his time, as many things on the Internet can.  It prompted me to write something on the forum that I’d been thinking about for a while, and cross-post it here. 

(FYI, the status update to which I comment "Guess who this is?" is the update of the guy who runs GSPN, Cliff Ravenscraft, announcing the availability of new episodes of some of his podcasts.)

Personally, I never really "got" Twitter.  Seemed to me a nifty new technology looking for an application.  The elevating of the mundane ("I’m going to work", "I’m at work", "I’m leaving for home", "Going to see movie X") didn’t seem like it would be sustaining.  You can only read mundane messages for so long before it’s just, well, mundane.  The technology is snazzy, no doubt, but the application didn’t seem to click with me.

I’m on Facebook, and their status updates, Twitter-like as they are, don’t excite me much either.  I’m much more interested in two-way communication, so the messages you can send back and forth, or even the blog-like notes you can write, are much more interesting to me than "Going to lunch with my Senator".  OK, that’s cool and all, but write it up later on; *that* would be interesting (me being a political junkie). 

I do see applications for this, and in that space I can see how it can be useful.  Cliff posts Facebook (and I assume Twitter) updates when he releases new shows, and for those waiting on those shows that can be helpful.  (But it is any more helpful or timely than just checking new posts to the GSPN website via an RSS feed?  I mean, if you have to hear the next episode just as soon as humanly possible, all well and good, but most of us can wait until our podcatcher picks it up on its next run.)

I’ve heard of software development teams using it to keep their widely-scattered team up-to-date on what they’re working on.  Sounds great, and a blog would be overkill for something like this. 

But here’s my most recent Facebook status updates as an example.

(so-and-so) is preparing to really do some writing tomorrow after faffing about today and just reading.  [Nice, but writing about what, and what have you been reading.  Expounding on that is too much for a status update.]

(so-and-so) is getting ready for tomorrow and Saturday.  [Mundane]

(so-and-so) Released Almost Daily Devotional #70 & My Crazy Life #276. I very thankfully added our 142nd Plus Member. Looking forward to 143rd!  [Guess who’s this is?   ;)  See above.]

(so-and-so) will never "assume" again.  [Meaning?  This guy needs a blog.]

(so-and-so) is Reading a book called River of Mercy w/ Spiritual Journal.  [Informative, and invites those who have also read it to write to her.  Again, a blog would give this person a way to communicate to anyone who’s read it (and those who haven’t) all at once with their thoughts.]

And the next one down says it all:

(so-and-so) should be doing something other than facebook:-).

Heh heh.

Blogging is still a rather geeky thing, but I think Facebook can make this simpler for folks.  They don’t need to create a new account with Blogger or, they have a built-in audience of people they know, you write it once instead of a bunch of different e-mails/messages, and it’s far more interesting to read than one-liners that either don’t say anything or make the reader beg for details.

OK, off my soapbox.   (…and onto my blog; I think this qualifies for a post on it)  ;D 


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