Thursday, March 25, 2010

THMMC Bullfrog Run 2010

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As spring weather rolls around, one of the joys that I have come to expect is participating in the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club's Bullfrog Run.  I say I've come to expect it since it is something that I only know about due to my MINI ownership and participating with the THMMC.  This year's run was the third annual running of this particular run for the club.  Members of the club have been running the route for several years; but in memory Rob Baker they started running the route as an annual event and dubbed it the Bullfrog Run.  I never met Rob as he had passed on before my membership started.  He was described as a great driver (who really knew what to do with his DS Justa), a great club member, and a great person.  His example also spawned the MINIs Motoring Against Cancer banner.  And for this particular run, we took up a collection that yielded a $120 donation to the American Cancer Society.

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I'm glad to say that I've been to all three of the Bullfrog Runs.  Besides the nature of the event, it is special to me now because the first Bullfrog Run was also my first ever event that I attended with the THMMC.  So even though my MINI adventure started in February, the running of the Bullfrog always feels like the "anniversary" of when I started with the THMMC.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Document Freedom Day - March 31st

Just thought I'd post up a quick entry about Document Freedom Day.  This is coming up on March 31st.  As indicated on the web site for the "event":
Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.

As any regular reader of this blog is aware (is there such a thing as a reader of this blog, much less a regular one?), I'm a big fan of OpenOffice.org for all of my "office" documents - text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.  Among the reasons I like OOo is the fact that it is free and that it uses the OpenDocument Format for saving files (and of course there is the "it is just plain better" reason).  Use of the ODF format helps others as they do not have to use specific software to open the files that I generate.  Theoretically, they do not even have to use an office productivity suite since the files are in an XML format (maybe not theoretical as I once had to go through the process of open the native XML file when I was helping someone troubleshoot some file corruption).

Those two factors in my opinion make a strong argument as to why governments and public administrations should switch to ODF.  There are plenty of applications available that can open an ODF file, many of them free (like OOo).  By using these documents, citizens are not forced to go out and buy any specific software application.  So, the government stays neutral with respect to vendors and the marketplace.  And, it does not seem to me that government should be forcing citizens to buy software just to be able to read/open a government document.

Unfortunately, even now, in my position I continue to get Excel spreadsheet files from HUD for the conduct of official business.  I've been tempted a few times to write back to them and inform them that "I do not have Excel - how am I supposed to use their document?"  I have a feeling they'd be at a loss as to how to answer.

Hope you'll think about this some.  And maybe make a switch to some other document format.  You may even have a chance to try out OpenOffice.org.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baseline mag's 40 Fast Facts on Linux

Ran across this slideshow on the Baseline magazine web site. I seem to spend a lot of my effort promoting OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Thunderbird. There are lots of other F/OSS applications I use as well. Don't want to lose sight of the fact that I'm a big fan of Linux. Still hoping I may be able to convert my employer to Linux. Change is always tough though. Anyway, the facts from the slideshow include:

  1. Linus Torvalds developed the Linux kernel while still a student at the University of Helsinki in 1991.

  2. Last year, 75% of Linux code was developed by programmers working for corporations.

  3. In December 2009, IBM announced a new mainframe system designed for Linux.

  4. IBM chose Linux for what is expected to be the world's most powerful supercomputer, Sequoia, due in 2011.

  5. Linux powers 446 of the world's top 500 supercomputers.

  6. Some 95% of the servers used by Hollywood's large animation studios are powered by Linux.

  7. The first major film produced on Linux servers was 1997's Titanic.

  8. Director James Cameron again chose Linux servers for box-office smash Avatar.

  9. Google runs its web servers on Linux.

  10. Google has contributed about 1.1% of the code in the current Linux kernel.

  11. Linux has a strong following in smartphones and other devices in the consumer electronics world.

  12. Palm's WebOS, Google's Android and Nokia's Maemo smartphone operating systems are built on top of the Linux kernel.

  13. TiVo uses a customized version of Linux for its appliances.

  14. In 2009, Linux had 33.8% revenue marketshare of servers, compared to Microsoft's 7.3%.

  15. As of January 2010, Linux still only has a 1.02% marketshare within desktops.

  16. Torvalds created Linux based on the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  17. Torvalds wouldn't have written his own operating system if GNU had had a kernel at the time.

  18. The GNU Project then lacked drivers, daemons and a kernel.

  19. Under the GPL, any person or group distributing the Linux kernel must make the source code available to the recipient of the package.

  20. Said Torvalds: "Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did."

  21. Torvalds failed to register the name "Linux" when he first started his open source ventures.

  22. In 1994, William Della Croce, Jr. filed for trademark in the U.S.and asked for royalties from Linux distributors.

  23. Torvalds and his lawyers won the battle for the Linux name in 1997.

  24. There are over 300 distributions of Linux actively deployed today.

  25. Linux gained traction beyond the coder cult with 1993's Slackware distribution, which was easier for non-programmers to use.

  26. The Debian distribution was one of the first truly community-oriented Linux coding projects.

  27. Debian's code base remains the foundation for other distros such as Ubuntu, Knoppix and Xandros.

  28. Debian v. 4.0's source code containes 283 million lines of code.

  29. $7.37 billion: projected cost to produce that amount of code in a commercial environment.

  30. The first commercially-produced, live-CD distribution of Linux was Yggdrasil, released in 1992.

  31. Red Hat was one of the first commercial Linux distributions to truly cater to the enterprise.

  32. Ubuntu was the first Linux distro to be offered by a major OEM (Dell) to desktop users.

  33. The Xandros distribution helped make the netbook craze possible when it was chosen by ASUS for the first iterations of the EeePC.

  34. Linux-based Apache wasn't named for Geronimo's tribe, it was called "a patchy server" for its cobbled-together source code.

  35. In 2002, The Register claimed Microsoft spent $421 million just to fight Linux.

  36. In 2003, the SCO Group earned enmity by claiming that IBM transferred UNIX code into Linux and asking for redress.

  37. The Indian state of Kerala made it mandatory for all of its high schools to run Linux on their computers.

  38. The federal government of Brazil favors Linux operating systems over all others in its PCs.

  39. In 2009, Brazil carried out the largest thin-client deployment of Linux to date, with 350,000 nodes.

  40. IDC projects that Linux support sales will top $1 billion by 2012.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Would you be tempted?

Another post generated from a discussion with my son.  We were doing his (our?) devotion for the night.  The subject was temptation.  As we started on the activity part, we had to read Matthew 4:1-11:


The Temptation of Jesus


4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,




“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”




5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,




“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’




and




“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”




7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,




“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”




11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.


The activity was asking what were the three things Jesus was tempted with.  So the first item was the temptation of food via the challenge to turn the stones into bread.  The second item was the challenge to jump/fall from the temple and let God's angels rescue Jesus.  The third was the temptation to "own" all the kingdoms of the world.

As we discussed the passage, the first one was pretty easy to understand once we looked at it in context - Jesus was starving from being in the desert for 40 days.  Of course food would be a temptation.  The second one was a little harder for my son to grasp (and me to explain).  I'm pretty sure I could develop something around the idea of not putting the Lord to the test.  But for now, something a little more in reach was appropriate.  In the story, Jesus is challenged to jump off the temple, which would be dangerous.  So, we decided the temptation could be summed up as safety - against physical harm.  The third temptation took us back to something a little easier - the temptation of all the riches in the world.

My son seemed to understand it much better when we had it reduced down to these three things - food, safety, and riches.  And as we look around the world today, we decided that it would be pretty easy to see how people would be tempted down a path of sin if they knew their food, safety, or some riches would be provided.  No doubt lots of people have probably sold their soul or some part of it for at least one, if not two or three, of these.  I'm not so sure that perhaps most(all?) of us let our worries and concerns about one of these three cause us to think we need to do something to ensure them rather than trusting in the Lord.  But then, that's probably at least part of what makes all us of sinners.

Are you being tempted by the promise of food, safety, or riches?

Shifting gears somewhat, my son told me tonight that he had finished reading the entire book of Matthew!  He doesn't know it, but I have both of us on a path to reading the entire New Testament.  Having gotten through that one book probably puts him into a somewhat select group.  I'm proud of him for completing that first stage.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Look! Do you hear something?

One of my favorite lines in the movie Ghostbusters (which frankly, imo, is chock full of little bits of comedic genius) is when Ray says:
Listen...do you smell something?

It is funny because of the mixture of senses within the single sentence and in the movie, it appears that he is not even aware that he is mixing things around like that.  I thought of the line after our Sunday School class (ok, maybe it was actually during it) today.  One of our members was commenting about how God seems to have been so explicitly involved in the world of the OT.  From burning bushes to parting seas, creating floods, keeping believers from burning in a hot furnace, and other examples, God seems to be very present and active in the world.  This kind of culminates with the arrival of Jesus Christ as God actually walks in this world.  And of course, in the process of doing that, many miracles are performed.

But since then, it does not seem like God is actively involved in the world.  Yes, there are reports of miracles occurring.  But for some reason, it does not not strike us as being the same kind of involvement.

Sometimes I've wondered if part of the problem is that we Christians are looking too hard.  We become so focused on looking for signs of God that we fail to still ourselves and just listen.  Maybe it's the same idea we tell those looking for love - it is only when you stop trying so hard to find a boyfriend or girlfriend and instead just live your life, that is when you will find love.  Or at least increase your odds.  Similarly, if we stop looking so hard for God, we may discover that he is at work in the world just as much as always - we just fail to perceive Him.

All of this finally brings me to the point of this post.  Which I've been wanting to write for a couple days now - luckily I had not so I was able to make this connection with what happened in Sunday School.  About ten days ago we (that is, me and my wife) had an incident with our son.  He did something at school, not wrong, but troubling.  We talked with him about it and planned to make some changes.  Unfortunately, he then proceeded to engage in some disobedience with our directions, which of course only served to compound the problems. This resulted in him getting grounded.

It also made me do some searching for new ways to deal with him.  To that end, I invested in a couple books from Family Christian Bookstore to see if I'd get some parenting ideas.  One of them is Have A New Kid By Friday, which I am currently reading.  The first one I read was Raising A Modern Day Knight.  Hopefully I can put together a review of that in the next few days.  I will say one thing I really liked about it was the focus on connecting the concepts and ideas to the Bible.

So I am now in the process of implementing some of the ideas in the book.  One of the first steps was asking my son to come up with a definition of what a man is.  He is struggling a little bit but seems to be warming up to the conversations we've been having.  Another part of implementing the framework in the Modern Day Knight involved a couple gifts I gave my son.  This past Thursday was his birthday and I gave him a Bible and a journal to use for his journey to manhood that I have him now traveling.

On Thursday night, just before starting our "manhood" discussion and giving him his gifts, we were working on his nightly devotion.  In the middle of the story for that night, we came across this passage:
Strong is about being a man. And being a man means keeping promises.  Taking care of your family.  Walking away from a fight whenever you can. Respecting people, especially women. Honoring the Lord.

So after several days of working on a definition of what it means to be a man, and on the cusp of revealing this manhood journey to my son, right here in the middle of the devotion is a definition of what it means to be man.

Some will write this off to coincidence I'm sure.  But I think if one relaxes a bit and doesn't try quite so hard, one will perceive that this was God at work in my life and my son's life.  At just the right time and in just the right way, he revealed something to us that, at least in my case, was part of an answer to my prayers for guidance in dealing with my son.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

New Twitter test

Just testing a new WP plugin for generating Tweets since my last one mysteriously died.