Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cell Phones and Cancer?

Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the prestigious University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has issued a warning against Cell Phone use.

I'm flabbergasted.

Is Big Brother Watching?

"If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find in them something to hang him."
- The Infamous Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu

The issues of privacy, particularly on the Internet are being raised by many people around the world. It was once again brought to my attention by a very thoughtful article over at Ars Technica.

No one seems to care that our every day activities are under constant surveillance not only physically by security cameras but virtually as well. Information is collected in many ways: from information freely given on Social Networking Sites, to information gleaned invisibly and compiled via Internet searches. Whether we like it or not we give away our personal information in both purposeful and unintended ways. This information is then stored for future use by everyone from advertising agencies to Governmental organizations. And it's passed around indiscriminately.

I'm all about living transparently but if I do a Google search for pornography sites to block in my firewall I'd rather not have that be a criteria which advertisers will use to pigeon hole me with in the future.

Perhaps surprisingly the most vocal advocates for privacy rights in a digital age is the
American Library Association. They ask: Is it time for a Revolution?

According to their
Privacy Concept Paper:

"Librarians feel a professional responsibility to set the standard for intellectual privacy rights in America, at a time when virtually nothing is considered confidential."
They want America to commit to information privacy, and that's not such a bad idea. The ALA addresses the very American idea of Intellectual Freedom:

“Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”—Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

As Christians, and Americans these issues are something that we should feel passionate about.

I urge everyone to dedicate a little time to become familiar with Privacy Issues and a great place to start is the American Library Association.

Other Privacy sites and advocates:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Everyone is so perfect around here... but ME!

Second in the series Practical Christianity 101

You will sometime soon have this misconception: "Everyone here in this Church is perfect but ME!"

Wrong. Everyone in your Church is a human being, and everyone in your church has problems and troubles just like the rest of us. We all live with varying degrees of transparency and just because they all 'look' together doesn't mean they 'are' together.

Every single one of them including your Pastors is a sinner. Every one of them faces temptation, feels avarice, becomes greedy, or suffers from any number of sins every single day. They are human beings just like we are, and sometimes they fail. Every single one of them needs the love and forgiveness that only Jesus can provide.

If there is any difference between them and you it's just that those who have been walking with Christ for the longest know that they MUST depend on Jesus. Then fully understand that they can not do it themselves.

That's a hard concept to wrap your head around, but it's true. They have known this fact longer so they are better at leaning on the Lord. And they also are privileged to have lived longer with the knowledge that no matter what they do Jesus will forgive them.

So no, no one in your Church is perfect except the person of the Holy Spirit, and he's come to make us all clean.

NOTE: If there are people in your Church who purport that they /are/ perfect then you are in the wrong Church. Find one where the Holy Spirit lives and you'll find a Church full of humble servants of the Lord! That's where you want to be.

Is CRAP a Swear Word?

First in the series: PRACTICAL Christianity 101

It pains me to admit that I used to curse like a truck driver. In fact I'm sure that sometimes my language would have made many a truck driver blush. And I had nothing to do with cleaning up my act in that regard. The Holy Spirit did that for me.

Is Crap a swear word? How about Poop, or Snot, or Darnit! What about Holy Toledo?

I need some other words to fill in the blanks that my salvation left in my 'colorful' language, but I do not want to blaspheme, offend, or take the Lord's name in vain.

I have often seen within my new Church friends eyes that sometimes my usage of the verbiage above has makes them feel uncomfortable. I don't want to do that! They have been kind enough to accept me as I am, and to rejoice over the positive changes in me. I don't want to startle or upset them with any raw language.

So I've been doing some research into the subject, and found some helpful websites. I was very surprised to find that many people have the exact same question as I do! And sadly they all seem to have a different answer to that question.

These were unsatisfactory. My research continued.

I found a wonderful answer on a Wiki of all things. Here is a short excerpt from that Wiki post:

"The degree to which profanity is offensive relies upon how the use of the word affects an individual. Some will consider the original meaning of a word to be offensive or a subject not fit for polite conversation (cf Ephesians 5:3-4 " is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you. Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane or vulgar.") while others will have no objection to these subject matters. Some will feel that certain words, having an established social taboo are simply offensive, regardless of any context; others will find profanities offensive mainly when used in a way deliberately intended to offend."

That is a very well worded and thoughtful definition. But practically it doesn't help one little bit.

I certainly don't have the intention to offend if I drop a computer monitor on my toe and scream "CRAP" as I dance wildly about. But some folks might still get offended.

Three of the summer interns here at the church (And they are quite a wonder and a blessing) were happy to answer my question as to whether or not Crap was a swear word. I found their answers quite insightful and helpful, particularly since they had grown up in Christian homes, one whose parents are even Pastors.

Yes was their answer, across the board, if you are speaking in a Church, or to more traditional Christians. But if you're in the Youth Service, it's perfectly fine!

Wow . I love those guys! It was a very simple and clear cut matter to them. And their answer backed up a theory that I've had for some time: I'm terribly immature. But at least now I have a good set of rules to follow for the proper use of Church exclamatory language.

I translated it like this:
Be respectful to those who have lived a much more devout life for a longer time than you have. They are more in touch with the purity of the Holy Spirit and 'roughness' of any type may be grating to them.

That rule works for me. Then just to be certain I said a little prayer asking the Holy Spirit to help guide me in this endeavor not to startle or embarrass any of my new loving family here at the Church. That's the last thing on earth that I want to do. But if I do I know that they will forgive me, cause that's just how God made them.

PRACTICAL Christianity 101

As some of you know I'm newly saved (Within the past 2 years)

I'm a baby when it comes to all things associated with the following of our Lord Christ Jesus. Sometimes I feel like a total noob. So I decided to create a series of postings entitled Practical Christianity 101.

There are plenty of sites out there for new Christians that delve into Theology for the newly saved. I never had a problem with that. I love to read and it's all right there in the Bible.

I found that my stumbling blocks were things like understanding "Christianese", and understanding the social mores within the Church. In my ignorance faux paus became my tademark. And unhappily I've unintentionally offended lots of people along the way.

I'm sorry for that. So these posts are my attempt at sweeping the path clean for new followers of Christ so that they don't trip along their journey as often as I did. And I promise that every time I learn something new I'll share it here too!!

I did it!

I finally did it! I finally was able to witness out of the blue to someone I have known for a very short time. I was terrified inside. But they were so sad, and so lonely, and the words they used were /exactly/ the words I had used before I was saved.

They talked about how horrible humans are. They spoke of the trouble in the world and how the only thing they could count on was their dog. The words they used could have been mine 2 years ago. The loneliness that they were feeling is a wretched place to be.

I was afraid to speak about the Love of Christ because I was sure that they would laugh, that they would not want to talk to me again. But then it occurred to me that they were worth the risk. If the best I could do was manage to plant one tiny seed God could use it and make it grow. And even if they thought I was a nut or never spoke to me again, it would be worth it.

And much to my surprise they were receptive. They received the message of the love of Christ gratefully. They want to talk about it again sometime. Hallelujah! (I never used that word before, but it's the only one that fits the way I'm feeling right now!)

And I'm sorry I'm gushing! I don' t mean to be a braggart or anything! It's just that I've missed so many opportunities because of my own personal fear! And I know it wasn't me! It was the Holy Spirit!

So I'm sitting here praising God for using me! Thank you Lord for giving me courage and the words to say. Thank you for putting me in that initially uncomfortable position so that I could do your work here on earth, it's filled me with such joy. Thank you for keeping me from being so overly zealous that I frightened them. Thank you Jesus for letting me serve you in this way! I've prayed for courage and the chance to do it, and this time I didn't blow it! Thank you God for leading me down this path!

Has Remember the Milk curdled?

(Disclaimer: Highly frustrated techie about to blow off steam.)

We made the switch to Google Apps and everything was so snazzy - until Remember the Milk started acting up.

It does not always put your email into the task bar when you star it (If you have that option set) and sometimes the Task List disappears from your Gmail page altogether.

My Pastors need task lists!

Does anyone else have a mobile solution for a task list. I actually found one that while being awfully 'cute' looking did the job but it's name is Voo2do and it has a picture of a Voodoo doll at the top. O.O WOT??!?!?!

And as funny as it might be in the moment, I can't advise that we use that instead... (ahem)

So anyone else have any other suggestions or solutions? I would love it if Remember the Milk was working properly but they are having plenty of issues that they seem to be ignoring because none of it is covered on their Blog at all.

I wish Google would just up and buy RTM, and make it work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

168 Pin Dimm

I needed some. Our IT department is on a very tight budget, and I pride myself in making donated machines work.

I have a nice little machine that was given to us, nothing at all wrong with it, it is perfectly capable of running Firefox to use Google Apps, and it has an old but decent networking card for our server. Smallish hard drive but that didn't matter. Except it had 64 megs of Ram. Ouch. 168 pin SDram. Double Ouch.

Tigerdirect had it Centron 168-pin 256MB PC133 SDRAM for 30 bucks. Plus shipping. I wasn't ready to spend that much, for a donated machine.

So I checked Ebay. I was reluctant, because you are never certain about what you're getting until you get it, and I was spending the Churches money.

I found MostMoe - the man with the memory, and he's got a Computer Memory Market online too.

I got 512 Megs of SCRAM for 25 bucks and free shipping. I paid via PayPal, and I had the ram in 2 days.

If you are in need of older ram you might wanna give his store a look!

A House Divided

There is reference to a story about Tod Bentley's Florida's Lakeland Revival on a blog I read frequently. The story is entitled “Florida event causes rift in charismatic community”. And being a person who considers herself well grounded in science and technology I will admit that I have wondered about the goings on down there in the sunshine state.

In the blogsphere and elsewhere there are plenty of people who are coming out vehemently for and against this revival. Just do a Google search, you'll see what I mean!! And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But the amount of overt bashing that I see going on between devout followers of Jesus is starting to break my heart.

We are exchanging blow for blow in the name of God and we are drawing blood. How ironic that our wish to defend the truth about our Lord ends up being a tremendous victory for darkness. The same people who struggle to see others through the eyes of grace are quick to take pot shots at people who should be considered allies.

Now please understand that I don't know much. I've only been saved for two years. And I fully admit that before I was saved I was one of those people who bashed Christians with great glee every chance I got. I often loudly accused the very Church that I now call home of being full of uneducated, obsessive, zealots. I referred to them as 'snake handlers'. And I could not have been more wrong.

I now realize that I behaved so badly towards those that follow Christ because somewhere deep within my heart I knew that they were right. And I will forever praise the God that forgave me for those grievous wrongs.

So when I see infighting between those of us who follow Christ it breaks my heart. Though I often fall short of the mark I honestly believe that every time we don't deal with things with love and the grace that God shows us that we're working for the wrong side.

I don't know much but there is one thing I do know beyond any doubt: Our God is big enough to take anything at all and turn it into gold. I'm going to trust that the Lord knows what he's doing, now and forever! Thanks Heavens!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spicing up APC!

I have been setting up Spiceworks, and just sat through their intro webinar and...


We currently have no real network monitoring, or help desk tools. I do it all in my head, and by walking around from machine to machine.

I am praising God like crazy for Spiceworks!

Now I just have to learn to use it...


Monday, July 7, 2008

Creating a Life Plan

Pastor Jeff always has yearly goals that he is brave enough to put in his blog. But he mentioned way back near January that a fellow Pastor had put his LIFE goals on his blog. That blew my mind!

But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Just because you write down a Goal does not mean it can't morph and change into something entirely different as your life goes along. There was only one problem. I'm 48 years old, I figured that my life is most assuredly at least half over. Why bother now.

Well I decided to give the life's goal thing another look when I found this article by a Corporate CEO Michael S Hyatt who decided to live his life on purpose.

Since I found Jesus (Or he found me) living my life on purpose has become very important.

I'm going to work on some Life Goals, because my life isn't half over, I've still got half to live!!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Jott and Remember the Milk

Oh how I love these two programs. I can sent voice messages via Jott to my Remember the Milk task list that's integrated with my Google Apps Email. I'm in heaven!

Did I mention that they are both free???

Jott alone is fantastic. And the best part is...

(Gratuitous self promotion alert)

I did research for the beginnings of that voice recognition software WAY back when at Carnegie Mellon University. It was called the Sphinx Project.

It's nice to see that it actually works, and very well too!

Below is a public service announcement for those products. Do yourself a favor and check them out.


Remember the Milk is a handy task list that goes together with GMail and Google Calandar. You will need to sign up to use Remember the Milk separately from your Google Account. It's fine to use the same user name and password if you wish. You can sign up for Remember the Milk here.

Firefox Plug In for Remember the Milk and Google Apps Email

This plug-in is a Firefox extension that allows you to manage your tasks in Gmail (complete, postpone, and edit tasks), add new tasks and connect them with your emails, contacts, and Google Calendar events, automatically add tasks for starred messages or specific labels, and much more!

You will need to install this for Firefox.

Video: Remember the Milk Plug-in in use

There is no sound, just follow along with the arrow mouse cursor.


Jott is a voice to text service, and it's free. It's like your own personal assistant. Find out more about Jott's many uses here.

At this link you can learn how to use your Phone to add things to Google Calendar.

You can also have your Gmail read to you by phone.

Or you can use Jott to add to your Remember the Milk Task list. There are two good articles here and here.