Archive for December, 2005

WordPress 2.0

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

The best blog publishing software on the planet has just released WordPress 2.0. I plan to convert The Tech Land of Ozz to WordPress using the 2.0 code just to give it a test run. Stay tuned for updates on my experiences with a Blogger to WordPress 2.0 conversion.

MP3 – Health Hazard

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Well, the story by MSNBC is really on the earbuds, but “earbuds – Health Hazard” did not sound as good for a title. The MSNBC article says that bulky head phones might be better for your hearing than the popular low profile earbuds used by many iPod and Treo owners.

Here is a link to a headset adapter if you want to use headphones with a standard jack that are too big to fit into the standard Treo audio plug.

Coming soon will be a pile of links to reports on the new Treo 700. There are rumors that the Treo 700 will be released by Verizon Wireless next week.

Treo and iPod

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Why do Treo owners go out and buy an iPod? I heard a few people say that they asked for an iPod for Christmas even though they already have a Treo 650. I can see the need for an iPod Shuffle for jogging or working out, but other then that, why carry multiple devices? I found a pretty good comparison between the Treo and iPod Shuffle to support my logic. Much like the author of this comparison, I bought a 128MB iRiver portable MP3 player a couple of year before I got my Treo 650. Now I hardly ever use my portable MP3 player.

MegaChurch

Friday, December 30th, 2005

The term megachurch continues to gain attention. Many American Christians are fired up about megachurches. Some Christians are fired up in favor and others are fired up in opposition. Articles like the one posted on The New York times today titled “Church to Church, Teenagers Seek Faith That Fits fuels the flames of those fired up to criticize megachurches. The Times article is primarily focused on teens who attend a different church than their parents, but does bring to light to issues with churches in general.

One of the girls interviewed in the NYT article says, “It’s not hard for me at all because I feel like my needs are being fulfilled.” This girl is 15 years old and her 13 year-old brother says, “I don’t know why she has to make things inconvenient for the rest of us…” The heart of the criticism over megachurches can be found in the girl’s comment. The words me, I, and my are found in her comment but God and Jesus are absent from her reason for choosing a different church than her parents. Keeping members focused on Jesus and not on their own desires is a balancing act for pastors and staff who are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a any church. The real questions for situations like those mentioned in the NYT article are simple. Who’s the adult in this situation? Why do parents put so much effort into trying to make their kids feel good? While it is possible that this girl is talking about getting fulfilled with the Holy Spirit, does the parent know the answer to that question? The parents probably do not know what their child is really getting from these other services unless the parent attends the teen service once in a while themselves.

Some critics refer to the praise and worship that attracts many teens to a mega church as entertainment or even equate the music to a rock concert. A rock concert was how The Post and Courier reporter referred to the praise and worship leading up to a talk given by Rick Warren during his visit to Charleston, SC in November. Many of these comments come from secular sources, but once in a megachurch service you can often look around and see how many people are lifting their hands and praising God and not the band. Look and you will see some who have tears dripping down their face from being over-filled with the Holy Spirit. Not all megachurch services are filled with the Holy Spirit all of the time as with many church services, but there does seem to be a much more powerful presence of God when you get a thousand plus people joined in prayer, praise, and worship.

Seacoast Church in Mt Pleasant, SC could be classified as a mega-church, but can also be classified in another new breed of churches called multi-site. The pastor of Seacoast Church points to a critic of the megachurch movement in his posing titled You can’t please everybody… The critic takes issue with the 10 most innovative churches in America which Seacoast is one of.

When I looked at these churches, and the sermon series that they are currently preaching, or have recently preached, I found one obvious common denominator: FAMILY. These churches may feel that one of the formulas for being “relevant” today is to excessively preach on parenting, sex, and marriage. They do this in a way that’s grossly out-of-proportion to the amount that other important biblical issues are preached (or not preached). (Source)

This critic may have a point, but what he and many other critics fail to do is acknowledge the strengths of megachurches. The big thing that gets left out of most criticism of megachurches is the subject of small groups. There’s not a fancy definition for the small group. Small groups in a megachurch could be compared to small groups in small churches much like a large high school 4-A football team can be compared to the football team of a small academic magnet school. The megachurch has a much larger pool of members to draw from to build powerful teams. While smaller churches may be stocked full of spirit filled people much like the smaller 1-A school is stocked full of smart people, the smaller churches will never be able to compete with the power of the megachurch in some areas. The small churches and megachurches alike lead people to Christ just like most all schools large and small see graduates move on to college and successful careers.

There are plenty of good things going on in large megachurches and small churches alike. More people need to realize this and make note of it if they wish to take issue with megachurches or any church for that matter. The power of the small group should not be overlooked. Some of the small groups in my megachurch could almost be considered small churches themselves. The subject of small groups is one of the largest concerns I have for teens hopping between churches. Where will they get the relationships with other Christians that encourages and feeds the growth of their personal relationships with God if they move between multiple evangelical churches regularly?

Helpful links:
Wikipedia definition for multi-site church and megachurch.

A Blogger’s Best Friend

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

PassKeeper

This little application is a blogger’s best friend. I might go as far as to name this program “Application of the Year”. This app was one of my best friends long before I started blogging. This little app is free for non-commercial use, but I would highly recommend giving the developer a tip via PayPal. By the way, I have absolutely no affiliate relationships with this guy. I just like his application.

I took a quick count of how many passwords are in my PassKeeper application this morning. The current count is at 277 entries in my copy of PassKeeper and you can see a handful of examples of those entries in the image above. That means that I have 277 different user ID and password combinations that I use for different affiliate, tool, publishing, shopping, banking, forum, email, and hosting web sites. That number also includes servers, routers, switches, firewalls, databases, ISPs, and many other devices and services that come with unique requirements for user authentication.

Do you feel my pain? Even if you are not in the technology field you are likely to have at least a dozen different user IDs and passwords for different things. I have seen people deal with this dilemma in a number of different ways. One of the most disturbing ways to deal with this problem from a security standpoint is to type all of these user IDs and passwords in clear text using a word processing application or a text editor and save it on your hard drive. An even worse practice is to carry a plain text copy around on your USB flash memory drive attached to your key ring. Or maybe you are like one buddy of mine who typed his user IDs and passwords into his email contacts list. Some people type these user IDs and passwords into a memo and then synchronize these clear text memos with their PDA. Then there is the cardinal sin. Print the sheet containing your user IDs and passwords and pin it to the bulletin board right by your computer monitor. A common variation to this is to use sticky notes on the side of the monitor to store passwords.

I have not found a hack for PassKeeper but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Even if there is a hack for it, a cracker would have to locate the folder where you have the PassKeeper files saved to break in and access your saved passwords. You can add another layer of protection for the data contained in the application. You can store it on a PGP drive that requires a PKI Certificate and password to access. This is what I do with the folder where I have PassKeeper stored. I do back up my PassKeeper data and store it in a very secure place covered with concrete and steel and guarded by a group of US Marines. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.

Then you might want to check out this application if you are having a hard time managing your passwords. You only have to remember one password to access PassKeeper and then you have access to the entire list of user IDs and passwords that you need to store along with helpful notes about each entry. Check out this blogger’s friend at http://www.passkeeper.com/

Santa in a Christian Home

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

We are surrounded by Santa no matter where we go these days. Santa is in parades, sitting in the malls, standing on the street corner, popping in at various Christmas parties, inflated standing fifteen feet tall on the neighbor’s lawn, and zooming across the weatherman’s radar screen delivering gifts on Christmas Eve.

Parents go to great lengths to explain this mysterious man to their children. Children are told to be good so that Santa will bring them lots of stuff in return for their good behaviour. They are told how Santa will come down the chimney and leave presents under the Christmas tree after the children are asleep on Christmas Eve. Then the children start to grow and learn how difficult it would be for one man to visit billions of homes in one night. The parents then become more creative in their explanation of how Santa gets things done. Some children like those who live in mobile homes start to wonder how Santa will get into their house since their home has no chimney. The parents then may hang an old skeleton key outside and tell the children that this is for Santa.

All of these things are done in fun. Parents and children alike enjoy these times. Then one day a child comes home with that question, “Is Santa Claus real? Susie told me that Santa’s not real.” Some parents come clean at that point while others find a way to extend the fun for just one or two more years by further exaggerating the story.

What’s wrong with having a little fun with your children at Christmas time by pretending there is a Santa? It’s just innocent fun, right? My wife and I felt that it was okay for the first two years that we celebrated Christmas as parents. Then my wife came home one night about a month ago from her book club meeting and said, “I am not sure how you feel about this, but I would like for us to reconsider how we celebrate Christmas.” We went on to discuss a scenario similar to the one mentioned in the email that we received from a Christian friend this morning:

“It was a decision my husband and I made after hearing what happened to a friend of ours. She sat and was having “that talk” with her son. Not the talk you’re thinking- but the Christmas talk. She was about to tell him there was no Santa. At 8 years old she and her husband felt it was time. She told me how he looked up at her with tears in his eyes and replied, “Mommy, does that mean you lied to me about Jesus too?” Heartbroken, she tried to explain to her son why she and his daddy had purposely lied to him all through the years. Of course the child eventually got over it as he is now a fully functioning adult- but why do we put up such charades for our children? We work hard building bonds with them so they trust us. Santa Clause, I guess, is considered a “white lie.” One that isn’t so bad? Is there such a thing?

So, our struggle begins. Coming from a family steeped in tradition, how on earth was I going to lovingly convey to my oh so loving- if not a bit overbearing- family not to make such a big deal about the “white- bearded man?” We obviously can’t ignore the secularism of the season. Where do we draw the line? We decided our goal was to teach our children “to be in the world but not of it” as Paul describes.

Before you think I’m trying to rain on your parade- those of you who don’t share my convictions- let me say we have no stones to throw. We don’t care what you teach your children. BUT, I have been shown this web site that may help keep the focus in a practical way. I hope you can take time to read it- especially you with younger children. Now is the time.

We love you all and hope you have an awesome CHRISTmas!”

http://www.deerlakemail.com/teach/

My wife and I have come to a similar conclusion. We have asked our family members not to make such a big deal over Santa. We are still faced with the situations like the one Riley and I faced yesterday. A lady in the checkout line of a store asked Riley, “are you ready for Santa?” Then there was the question he got asked a few weeks ago while he was wait for his turn to get a haircut, “what’s Santa going to bring you?”

There’s no way to avoid these types of situations, but what you have planted in your child’s heart will shine through. My oldest son at a tender age of three is already responding frequently with, “we celebrate Jesus’ birthday for Christmas at our house.” You would be absolutely amazed at the smiles that response brings to so many adults. You see, we are to teaching our children that Santa is not real, but rather we are teaching our children that Christmas is a day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We give gifts to others to show our love for them.

I want to share a couple of resources to help you celebrate Christmas in a Christian home. I hope these resources will help you have fun and avoid telling lies that you will later have to explain. There will be more to come in the future. My wife has worked hard to find books for our family that help us share some true stories related to Christmas traditions.

The Adventure of Christmas : Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions (Hardcover)

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend (Board book)

Ordinary Baby, Extraordinary Gift (Hardcover)

The Crippled Lamb (Audio CD)

The Story of Christmas (Hardcover) – Special order and may be hard to get.

Oddly enough I found some of the most relative information concerning this story on the Atheism section of About.com. The article is titled Santa Claus: Should Parents Perpetuate the Santa Claus Myth? and it is packed full of great explanations on why, in my opinion, the “little white lie” is not a healthy practice.

Merry Christmas to you and The Uncooperative Blogger who so graciously linked to this post!!!

Modern Day MLK

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

La Shawn Barber may just be the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the 21st Century. Her post today titled Do You Hate Black People? is solid proof that she loves black people. She leaves little room for excuses for blacks who are not willing to first look at themselves before trying to pass blame for shortfalls in their lives. I know many blacks who demonstrate a similar attitude, but they choose not to openly speak out like La Shawn Barber.

I have been waiting for a black person with an audience like La Shawn Barber to say, “I hate “affirmative action” because it’s immoral, unconstitutional, embarrassingly unfair, and undignified.” There are very few white people who dare make a statement like that in a public forum, but La Shawn Barber holds nothing back.

I was impressed to see others post positive comments on other blogs as a result the above mentioned posting over at LBC. Lorie Byrd over at the PoliPundit.com drove some fresh traffic into LBC where one reader the Postmodern Pundit said, “That was a fantastic post. I hadn’t visited La Shawn Barber’s blog before, but now I’ve got it bookmarked.”

One part of La Shawn Barber’s post had to do with an interview she did for The Baltimore Sun. Her comments did not make it into the news story. Mark Tapscott give explains the interaction between a reporter and editor to show how a story gets a slant like the one The Baltimore Sun did this week.

Survivor Alaska?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

I have been waiting on a season of Survivor where they film it in a very cold and dangerous environment. I would love to see a Survivor Alaska. Heck, I might even audition for that one. It looks like I should not hold my breath according to MSNBC. Even though Survivor is a CBS show, Andy Dehnart over at MSNBC seems to think that we will never see an extreme cold-weather survivor “Because the cast can’t get half-naked. Seriously, what makes for better TV.” Well, I can think of a few things that would make for “better TV” and movies for that matter, but my opinions seem to be a little out of the mainstream in Hollyweird these days. So I will forego any Survivor auditions anytime soon because I assure you that the CBS ratings would drop off the charts if I were shown half-naked.

Blogging News

Monday, December 19th, 2005

I have been reading more and more of La Shawn Barber lately. Her post today on Blog Irony makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I like her attitude.

I am still evolving as a blogger. My traffic is slowly increasing. I believe that this is in part due to my new attitude towards blogging. My new attitude has been evolving for a while but came to fruition after a conversation with my wife this weekend.

Why? Because I can. There are a couple of other reasons, but that statement covers the largest portion of my explanation as to why I blog. “Because I can,” is one of my favorite phrases. Blogging is sort of therapeutic for me. I can talk as long as I want about what ever I want as long as I am willing to suffer the consequences of having people not return. Yes, I would love to have a few hundred thousand visitors per day and have half of them buying products through links on my site. I might then be able to spend more of my time serving God in new ways as well as spending more quality time with my family. I do try to provide content that people like, but the things that I spend the majority of my time on happens to be the least popular things. I only have a few hundred readers per day across my blogs, but that is slowly growing. I get the occasional linkage from a Higher Being or Mortal Human blogger, but I’m not writing good enough on the right subjects to get that kind of linkage very frequently. Maybe I will improve on that soon. Maybe not.

I have tried to transition The Land of Ozz into a more positive experience in recent months. I now try to focus a little more of what I am for rather than what I am against. If I am hard against something then I will strive to make my objections towards the ideas and not against individuals. I am trying to avoid responding to comments. I say what I want to say in the post and then I let people have their say in the comments, within reason that is. I will not tolerate bashing of me or other visitors who comment. I also will not comments or trackbacks to what I deem to be offensive material.

In general, I don’t care what people think. I only care that they do think and come back to read more stuff to make them think. That is the root of what keeps my traffic numbers from growing any faster. It is a tap dance for me. I don’t want to be forced to write what people want to read. I want to write what I want to write about. The dance step I need to perfect is how to write that I want in a way that makes people want to read it. Ah! Now that is the the secret to a successful blog if you do not already have a fan following for some other reason.

Open Trackback Alliance

This is an OTA open trackback post for Monday 12-19-2005.

Please link to this posting using the following URL:
http://www.hoei.com/blog/archive/2005/12/19/147/

Please send trackbacks to the following uri:
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Other stories to check out at: Don Surber, The Florida Masochist, Third World County, The Real Ugly American, Freedom Folks, and The Business of America is Business