Archive for December, 2005


December 19, 2005 1 comment

The SETI@Home project has ended… sorta.

The project is actually switching to a new system called BOINC – Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. The interesting thing about BOINC is that there are numerous projects using it. So if you were not exactly keen on donating your spare cycles to the search for ET, you can now donate your cycles to things like studying protein folding, AIDS research, and others. I’m currently contributing to, which is studying protein folding.

The beauty of this is that it doesn’t disrupt your computing, it only becomes active when you are not. It will use those CPU cycles at night while you are sleeping.

How many computers in churches out there are simply turned off at night or simply sitting there wasting energy. Imagine the supercomputing power churches could generate by contributing extra CPU cycles to one of these projects. It’s trivial to set up and will run on Windows, Mac, Linux, or Solaris.

Categories: Web/Tech

Skipping Christmas

December 14, 2005 3 comments

Link: The Appian Way: Skipping Christmas Part II.

There seems to be a big difference of opinion on whether to do church on Christmas Sunday or not. Crossroads is not doing church on Christmas Sunday for the following reasons.

First and foremost we are here in Lenawee county to reach those people who don’t know Christ. Those people will not likely come to a church service on Christmas Sunday, regardless of who invites them.

Because the primary purpose of our Sunday service is to reach people who don’t know Christ and those people are not likely to come on Christmas Sunday, there’s not much point in doing it.

Last year, Christmas Eve was the most attended service of the year – even topping Easter. We had a lot of un-churched people come through our doors.

Therefore, in an effort to reach those people, we have elected to hold our Sunday service Saturday evening (don’t talk to me about which is the correct day to worship on, I’m a former Seventh-day Adventist).

While we could also have a service on Sunday, we are a portable church and it takes a huge effort to set-up, tear-down, and mobilize all our ministry teams just to do 2 services on Sunday. This year we’re doing 3 services on Christmas Eve. There is no way we can ask all our volunteers and staff to come out for a full-scale effort on both days.

the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all
things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. – 1 Corinthians 9:22

I think those are pretty good reasons for not doing church on Christmas Sunday.

Categories: Church

Computer History Thoughts

December 14, 2005 Leave a comment

Matt Wilson just posted Matt Wilson’s Blog: Computer History Thoughts. I think this is a great way to get to know other church IT people so I’m going to follow his lead and tell a little about my computer history.

  • First computer touched – original IBM PC at my dad’s office. I used the keyboard to draw an ASCII picture
  • I also carried a rather large removable hard drive up the stairs to the Data General mainframe and nearly dropped it.
  • Our school got donated a Radio Shack MC-10 with 4k of memory when I was in 6th grade. We typed in long basic programs to play songs instead of going to recess.
  • School got an Apple IIc. We played text-based adventure games.
  • I bought a Radio Shack Color Computer II (affectionately known as the CoCo). I typed in long programs out of magazines.
  • In 9th grade my school had Commodore 64s and PETs. We even got a 128. I wrote a text based adventure game in Commodore basic for our science fair.
  • Bought a Radio Shack Color Computer III. It had a multi-tasking OS called OS9. I wrote a 2-player battleship game in Basic09 using my CoCo2 and CoCo3 connected via serial ports.
  • Tried out my dad’s MS-DOS system. Went back to OS9 – it multi-tasked and did windowing.
  • Moved to Union Springs, NY. School there had Apple IIs. I ended up working in the Music department in 12th grade where we had a Mac SE. I wrote spreadsheets for keeping track of things.
  • Learned C in college. Used Unix on AT&T 3B2s.
  • Got a job in the computer lab helping people use WordPerfect.
  • Moved over to the Computer Science Department to become a system administrator. We upgraded to Ultrix on DEC MIPs workstations. We got some Sun 3 and 4 machines donated with SunOS.
  • Wrote a B+Tree in C++
  • Worked for the Physics department writing Fortran to analyze experimental data from an experiment at Fermi.
  • Got a job writing C code for some mathematical simulation software.
  • Created my first very lame personal website.
  • Started my current job in 1996 and learned Perl and Javascript. I’m also the backup system administrator.
  • Installed Mandrake Linux at home dual boot with Windows 98. About 2 years later I wiped out the Windows partition.
  • We tried moving to Windows NT from our Digital Unix machines and lived there for about 2 years. That was nothing but pain so we gave up on that and moved to Linux.
  • Started volunteering for Crossroads in 2002. Learned a little PHP. Developed skills with graphics using Gimp. Wrote a child check-in system in Perl.

I guess that’s enough.

Categories: Web/Tech

C. S. Lewis

December 12, 2005 1 comment

I’ve been a big fan of C. S. Lewis since I was in 3rd grade. In face, the Chronicles of Narnia were the books that got me interested in reading. Up till that point I wasn’t even interested. After Lewis, I began reading with a vengeance.

I got to see the new Narnia movie last night, and I was quite happy with it. Having read the book numerous times, I knew when the movie diverged from the book, but was happy that the movie did not violate the spirit of the material. The CG was spectacular. There were a few spots where the acting could have been better, such as when Lucy and Susan were crying over Aslan. There were a few spots where the live action composited with the CG background was a little too obvious. But overall I think it was a spectacular film well worth seeing – though we decided not to let our 6 and 4 year old kids see it yet. It’s just a little too scary.

I’ve read many of Lewis’s other books including his space trilogy and the requisite Mere Christianity. However, recently I listened (using Audio-To-Go) to the book Miracles. Miracles gave me a deep new respect for Lewis. Though I have not read all his books, I have a suspicion that Miracles is his most important work. It delves into the problems that underlie the thinking of modern historical critics such as the infamous Jesus Seminar. These critics found much of their arguments on the basic assumption that miracles do not happen. Miracles is a very convincing philosophical work arguing that miracles can and do happen.

I’m going to add the rest of his books to my Audio-to-Go queue. Hopefully this movie will interest others in reading more of Lewis as well.

Categories: Christianity

SVG T-Shirt

December 9, 2005 2 comments

Shari asked me to help her with a new t-shirt design. I, not really thinking about it mocked something up quickly in the Gimp. Unfortunately the t-shirt company was not happy with a raster image and asked to have a vector image. I tried tracing the image with potrace in Inkscape, but while the results were actually quite remarkable, the lines were not quite accurate enough for me. So I set to redoing the graphic entirely in Inkscape.

Inkscape's native format is SVG. What is good about this is that Adobe Illustrator nicely handles SVG files and this is the software the t-shirt company uses. Adobe has actually been one of the biggest corporate supporters of SVG.

The side benefit to all this is that Firefox 1.5 now also natively supports viewing SVG files. So I can simply upload my SVG t-shirt and all you Firefox 1.5 users can view it. Note, there are two shirt colors, red or yellow. the white background in the SVG will be transparent and allow the shirt color to show through.

Categories: Web/Tech

When Adblock Backfires

December 8, 2005 Leave a comment

I’m a big fan of the Firefox Adblock extension. It makes pages load faster and they are not all cluttered with advertisements. However, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Crossroads advertises on our local newspaper’s website. I had our contact at the newspaper update our ad and went to check it out and make sure everything was working correctly, but none of the ads showed up. I had to disable adblock in order to see them. Thankfully our ad was working well.

Yes, I’ll continue using Adblock, but I also realize that if everyone uses it, much of the funding for what goes on on the Internet will go away and a lot of the cool free services we all know and love will disappear. It does make you think twice about stuff like Adblock.

Categories: Web/Tech


December 6, 2005 Leave a comment

What is hierarchy?

Hierarchy is similar to (if not the same as) structure. A computer is full of hierarchy. There are numerous components that all work together in a layered approach. When the OS running on top of the microprocessor requests a chunk of memory from the system memory, the memory controller obeys and makes it available. The computer would not work without hierarchy.

I’ve talked about Yin and Yang before. This is more of the same. Hierarchy or structure is the yin of the computer. Without it the computer would simply not exist. The signals that move around the computer are they Yang. Without the hierarchy, the signals would have no origin and no place to go. Likewise, without the signals, the hierarchy of the computer would be dead. Both are absolutely necessary.

In the same way, all natural phenomena are hierarchical. The human body has hierarchy. Even the church is hierarchical. It is in no way a democracy. At the top is Christ. There are apostles, pastors, elders, and deacons (or their modern equivalent terms). The authority in the church comes from the top down.

Two primary problems can arise in the interplay between Yin and Yang. One, Yang can become inadequate and thus the Yin becomes rigid and stagnant. It approaches death. The other problem is that Yang can become too exuberant and rebellious. In this case the Yang rebels against the hierarchy and structure that gives it its existence. It approaches annihilation.

China is considered by many to be a very conservative country. That is to say, most people think its a little heavy on the Yin. That all depends on your perspective. If you are heavy on the Yang then a country with near perfect balance will appear to be Yin-heavy. however, I fear that it is we who are Yang-heavy. The basic culture and structure of China has remained relatively stable for millennia. Contrast that with the US, which has been in existence for mere centuries. We are the adolescent who thinks we know it all, though the village elder is far wiser.

I fear that China is the tortoise and we are the hare. We have been winning the race thus far, but the slow and steady will win the race.

There is a force alive in in this country that seeks to tear down hierarchy. It seeks for things such as fairness and equality. Such concerns remind me of the arguments my kids have over whether one’s piece of cake is as big as the other’s. The proponents of this force hold the hierarchical structure of jello in higher esteem than that of a corporation.

This force seeks to tear down things like corporations because they represent hierarchy. It seeks to eliminate varying wage scales because after all isn’t it more fair if everyone gets payed the same – even if they don’t do the same work? It seeks to tear down families because it doesn’t see the value in them. It seeks to tear down the military because it doesn’t understand the international dance that has been going on for millennia. It seeks to destroy Christianity because it doesn’t understand its purpose.

We need to realize that the structures that exist are rooted in the wisdom of our elders and stop trying to tear everything apart. Will we live through our adolescence?

If we are to keep from going up in a puff of smoke, more fine Democrats like Joe Lieberman will need to stand up to their self-destructive brethren.

Categories: Brain Fart

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