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Heaven is for real. (For realz?)

Posted on : 08-13-2011 | By : Andy | In : books, news, pop culture, religion

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I had a few people angry at me for dissing on Heaven is for Real, that oh-so-popular book by a kid’s dad where he talks about his trip to Heaven. Why was I dissing it? Because I’d read the first chapter, lost all interest, and decided that the review Tim Challies had posted must be right (he calls it “not a good book.”).

I really needed to read it to assuage the offended individual, to stop being a punk who judges something he hasn’t experienced, and because I happen to be affiliated with a church where I live: in North Platte, Nebraska, where the miraculous visions took place and everyone in town knows about the book.

Again, the first chapter turned me off immediately, because Lisa and I had been reading The Lord of the Rings immediately before this, and the difference in writing quality was like stepping from the classical art of Rembrandt to the slapstick entertainment of Ingrid’s poo adventure…and I’m not saying that the book should be compared to poo. My point is that the poo video is funny, fun to watch–it’s entertaining and people are more likely to get a kick out of it than looking at a Rembrandt. Such it was with Heaven: from the minute you begin reading you realize there’s going to be a lot of flowery language and emotional fluff. It’s “heartwarming.” If you want something deep and challenging to be enriched by, look elsewhere.

I will say though, if you’re going to knock on this book, you’d better read it first. But for those of you who just want to know “should I read it?” or need to hear what a youth pastor thinks about it, here we go:

1) I have problems with his description of Jesus as a guy with blue eyes who wears a purple sash and has holes in the center of his palms. Sounds rather Americanized to me, rather like the Sunday School Jesus we’ve all seen all over the place. (Maybe that’s ‘cuz Jesus has shown himself to so many people that the got it right…or maybe Colton’s memories are suggestible [pdf link]).

2) The whole deal with people fighting with Jesus against Satan is a bit questionable. (Page 136) Revelation chapters 19-20 describe Jesus with an army, but all who are killed are killed by the sword coming out of the rider’s mouth or consumed by fire from heaven. Nowhere do we get the picture that this is even close to the type of hand-to-hand combat Colton speaks of. Let’s face it, while our fight here and now might be against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6), God is supremely sovereign, Christ has already won, and Satan doesn’t even really have a chance.

3) Perhaps my biggest gripe: Todd talks about people needing to be saved to go to heaven, and how that’s Colton’s greatest concern for those dying. But in this book there is no clear, straightforward explanation of the gospel. There’s no primer on sin, atonement, repentance, and salvation by Grace alone through faith. Heck, there’s not even the shallow “just repeat these words to be saved” prayer in the back. All you find is Colton yelling “he had to have Jesus in his heart!” (Chapter 11) To a non-Christian reading this, what does that even mean, anyways? There are blurbs in the back to explain the timeline and to tell you more about the Burpos…but nothing about knowing God.

4) Read the review by Tim Challies that I already linked to above. He says a lot more that I don’t feel the need to repeat.

Bottom line: do I think Colton is a despicable liar? No. Do I have a good way of explaining everything in this book in a completely rational way (eg. miscarried sister and “Pop”)? No. Do I think that much of what Colton experienced could have been suggestible or distorted memories? Likely. Is it good to read this book and ask yourself where you’ll end up after you die? Yes. Does that mean I think you should read this book? No.

If you want to know about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, heaven, and eternity, read your Bible or ask a Pastor, elder in your church, or someone who knows the Bible better than you do.

Of course Heaven is for Real. We’ve known that for 2 Millenia. How much of Colton’s story is for real? I guess you’ll just have to ask God someday–assuming of course, that you know Him. You don’t? You need to hear the Gospel. (Read the Romans Road if you’re not feeling the other link or need more info!)

Install Windows 7 x64 on a Mac (beat the “Select CD-ROM Boot Type” error!)

Posted on : 08-26-2009 | By : Andy | In : news, tech

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Having trouble installing Win7 x64 (Windows 7 64-bit) on your mac? Keep getting a Select CD-ROM Boot Type” message when you go to install? Boot Camp have you pulling your hair out?

Some googling reveals the answer over at Jowie.com, but it’s a little confusing to know exactly where to start. Hopefully this step-by-step tutorial makes it idiot-proof. If you need pictures, Jowie’s site has some nice screenshots.

So, without further ado, install Windows 7 (x64) on your Mac (specifically, I’ve done this for a mac mini) in 7 easy steps!

A word of clarification: You need to have access to an existing Windows installation in order to modify and burn your installation disk with ImgBurn. There are millions of them all over the world, go borrow one if you need to. You could possibly try to do this through a temporary VirtualBox (or parallels or vmware) windows installation, though I don’t know if the burning process would work correctly.

Step 1: Download and install ImgBurn
Step 2: Insert your Windows 7 Install DVD, OR mount your .iso file with Daemon Tools Lite.
Step 3: Extract your boot image:

  • Using ImgBurn, go to “Build” mode
  • Select the Advanced Tab
  • Under that, select the “Bootable Disc” tab
  • Select your DVD drive at the bottom and hit the disk icon. If it asks you if you want to keep those settings, tell it “yes”

Step 4: Add your disk to your new disc image

  • On the left side, click the folder icon in the “Source” section and browse to select your Windows 7 Install DVD (Just select the actual drive, no files or folders inside it)
  • Hit ok.

Step 5: Verify build settings

  • Click the options tab on the right.
  • System should say ISO9660 + UDF, Revision 1.02
  • Click the Advanced tab again
  • Click the Restrictions Tab
  • Select “Level X – 219 Characters”
  • Select ALL 4 checkboxes below
  • Click the “Bootable Disc” Tab again
  • Make sure “Make image bootable” is checked
  • Emulation Type: None (Custom)
  • Boot Image: (should already be selected if you told it to use those settings. If not, select the .ima file you saved in Step 3)
  • Sectors to Load: 8 (if you’re using Vista x64, it should be 4)

Step 6: Build your new iso

  • Enter a destination for your new ISO on the left. (Use the folder icon to the next of the dropdown, or enter a filename in manually)
  • Click the big folder pointing at a disc document at the bottom to create your new image!
  • If it asks about a Volume name, just hit “OK”

Step 7: Burn your new iso.

  • Switch to burn mode.
  • Select your NEW .iso file (don’t accidentally use your old iso!)
  • Select your destination blank DVD
  • Click the burn button.

Tada! Pop that disc into your mac mini, or imac, or macbook, or mac pro, or whatever, and you’re set! Welcome to Windows 7!





Dear US Government,

Posted on : 02-25-2009 | By : Andy | In : news

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I hear that you’re having some troubles with your finances, and I just wanted to help you out a bit with some advice. Don’t worry, it’s free advice!

  1. You can’t spend more money than you make. Really, this one’s pretty simple. It’s a matter of debits and credits, which need to be (at the very least) equal. I know that you’re a big fan of bailouts, but there is no one to bail you out. Even Bill Gates can’t swing that kind of cash, so you need to fix your own problems.
  2. Giving money to irresponsible people is, well, irresponsible. It seems that banks haven’t figured out that paying millions of dollars a year to CEOs does not guarantee them top-notch quality businessmen. The more you bail them out, the less reason they have to reform. I’d say we start by enacting some laws: if you take our money, nobody in your company makes more than $150k per year. At this rate, they can hire about 20 (or more) smart economics grads straight out of the University for the price of one crusty old CEO, creating extra jobs and virtually guaranteeing that one of those 20 will have some clue how the real world works. (If people “can’t live on that,” move the bank headquarters to rural Indiana, where they will be the richest people around)
  3. Start fighting over whose programs don’t get cut. Again, you’re in the red every year. Obama wants to halve the deficit in 4 years? WE’D STILL BE SPENDING WAY MORE THAN WE’RE MAKING!!! Rather than wasting time in congress fighting over who gets to spend more money on new programs, I propose a new perspective.
    1. Divide our deficit by total tax revenue (about 33% in 2008)
    2. Cut every single government program by that percent (33%)
    3. Make congressmen fight for scraps. If you “need” more spending for something, you have to convince everyone else to sacrifice spending on some other program: there’s no more money to spend, just like a real budget.
    4. If tax revenues fall, congress is required to cut spending.
    5. If tax revenues rise, spend the extra money on paying off our ridiculous debt.
  4. If all else fails, fire all the politicians in the next 4 years, and replace them with people in this country who have 0 credit card debt, don’t have disproportionally high house and car loans, and make less than $150k per year. Chances are, they’ll be able to take care of things.

It’s not going to be easy, but I know that somewhere in the back of your mind it makes sense that disaster looms if every year we spend more than we make. I know that you can’t honestly believe that the federal government should be bailing out every poor decision (or lazy soul) that ‘requires’ a few bucks. Sometimes, a little pain goes a long ways towards convincing people that those $5,000 shoes are a little overkill, or that $150/month on cable when you’re unemployed is unsustainable.

If you let people bleed a little bit when they do stupid things, they just might learn not to do those stupid things again.

Sincerely,
Andy

The Tales of Beedle the Bard: Harry Potter’s Back

Posted on : 07-31-2008 | By : Andy | In : books, news, pop culture

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OK, Harry Potter may not be in this book, but with the December release of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, JK Rowling is set to make a few more dollars off the Harry Potter universe. This book was referred to (and played somewhat of a big role) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so if you want to read these actual purported fairy tales for wizards, you can pre-order today!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard should be an interesting read by my estimation, but it won’t be quite as long as the Harry Potter books. Nevertheless, this isn’t stopping Amazon from offering the volume in an Amazon-exclusive The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector’s Edition for a mind-boggling $100! (The Standard Edition can be pre-ordered for $7.79)

At any rate, either one is a steal if you consider the fact that Rowling published a mere seven copies of this book back in 2007, and Amazon bought one of those copies at an auction last December for nearly $4 million. Well then…what are you waiting for? Go preorder yours today!

OS X on not-a-mac. Open computer!

Posted on : 04-15-2008 | By : Andy | In : news, random, tech

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So, Apple currently doesn’t offer an (easily) upgradable PC (as in “personal computer”, not “Windows Computer”) that’s affordable to the mainstream. To upgrade a Mac Mini requires a few putty knives, a lot of determination, acute care, and nerves of steel. To upgrade anything else they make (Besides the $2800+ Mac Pro) is pretty much impossible.

Some people don’t like this: after all, why should I have to buy a whole new computer every time I want to add another Hard Drive, or get a faster graphics card? And speaking of graphics cards…why should I have to buy a computer with a built-in monitor (iMac) or shell out nearly $3000 (Mac Pro) if I want to play a 3D shooter or two? Select any $800 windows box, spend $140 on a GFX card, and you’re rocking some decent fun!

Yet, because the EULA on OSX does not allow for installation on hardware that isn’t “Apple-labeled” (whatever that means), no one else can sell computers to install OSX on. And yes, OSX is worth installing.

All of that is (possibly) about to change.

Actually, it most probably will not change, but Psystar is going to try to sell non-Apple computers with OSX Preinstalled. Wait for it, wait for it…

Lawsuit.

Personally, I think this is awesome. Allow other people to enjoy the goodness of OSX without being constrained to a chioce between 5 or 6 different computer models. Let competition do its thing. But, alas, Apple will probably throw a ton of money at the justice system and just out-litigate Psystar. <sigh> As usual, the whole situation can be aptly summed up by Dumb and Dumber:

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me…ending up together?

Mary: Not good.

Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?

Mary: I’d say more like one out of a million.

Lloyd: So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!

Economic Stimulus what? Free Money?! Sign me up!

Posted on : 03-26-2008 | By : Andy | In : fun, news, random

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So if you haven’t gotten a letter yet, you will. You’re getting some free money from the Government if you pay your taxes this year. That’s right, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. I read some guy’s blog who claimed that this was similiar to 2001, when people got their next years’ tax refunds a year in advance (and were thus pretty mad), so I did some looking, and found the IRS Webpage ESP FAQs.

Q. Will the payment I receive in 2008 reduce my 2008 refund or increase the amount I owe for 2008?

A. No, the stimulus payment will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return.

Rock on! So Lisa and I should be getting a check for $1,200 back of that $2,400 we paid extra to Uncle Sam this spring. As a good boy, I intend to blow it all per the Government’s instructions! (well, OK, maybe I’ll only blow some of my half, because I’m too much of a tightwad to blow $600.) Let’s see, I can get…

  • BDAG Greek Lexicon ($120)
  • 171 Gallons of Gas (at $3.50/gal)
  • 0.97 credit hours of tuition at Trinity ($615/hr)
  • 20 days’ rent
  • Nintendo Wii ($250) (impossible to find…)
  • Some more Ibex clothes ($ ? – this is actually possible…)
  • A new Graphics card for my computer ($100?)
  • An HDTV tuner for my mac, so I can record Lost in HD ($150)

How about you? Are you going to be a good citizen and try to revive our economy with your extra cash? Just make sure it has a Made in USA sticker on it! (Sorry, shameless plug.)

Oh, yeah, and you better enjoy having cash, because rumor has it that the Government may just raise taxes by 4 times as much as they dole out in rebates. I hope those rich suckers are the ones that have to pick up the extra tab, ‘cuz I can’t afford more taxes!