Sunday, January 13, 2013

Do You Have Oil?


The following question wasn't in the Sabbath school lesson this past week, it came up in the conversation before I got there and we ran with it. "What does the oil represent in the parable of the 10 virgins?" For context and reference the NKJV of Matthew 25:1-13 is used:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming.

We went through a couple of the things that we had heard of, to see if they fit the description. First, we thought maybe it was faith. But then we remembered Romans 12:3 “…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” According to the parable, half of the virgins started with no oil and later went and got some; because everyone starts with a level of faith, we decided that couldn’t be it.
Then we thought maybe the oil represents the Holy Spirit. But that didn’t seem to fit either, because we receive the Holy Spirit, we cannot actively “buy” or “get” the Holy Spirit by ourselves.

Then two ideas simultaneously struck me. The whole point of the parable was stated in verse 13; “…you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” In other words, always be prepared.
The second thought was the warning of the lukewarm church as described in Revelation 3: 15, 17 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

What if the oil represents the personal relationship with Jesus? This is singularly the most important thing, above works, above anything else.

I think the lamp itself could represent works, our actions that people around us see. People can have the appearance of a personal relationship without actually having one. There are some who believe they will be saved because they do works. In Matthew 7: 21-23 it states that those who do works in the Lord’s name, but never knew him (personally) will be called “…you who practice lawlessness!”

“But how can people who claim to do good works in the Lord’s name be called transgressors of the law?” That was the main question brought up by the Sabbath school leader.
Then Matthew 22:37-40 popped into my head. 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The personal relationship with Jesus IS the greatest commandment. Those who don’t have it are breaking the law. The main point of James 2:14-26 is that faith without works is dead, but there will be people in the end times who have works without faith.

To clear up a few things, verse 3 clearly states the foolish virgins took no oil with them. I read verse 8 and thought that they did bring some oil, until I realized that the wick can burn for a little bit before needing oil. So, no, I don’t think the foolish virgins had any oil, just like verse 3 original states. Also, given the time period at the end of times, when the new Jerusalem comes down again, after a thousand years, the wicked will then understand that without faith, their works are dead. And finally, verse 9 states that the oil cannot be shared and be enough for two people. Just because one person has a relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean another person will be saved by sharing that relationship. Just with human relationships, a couple may be good friends with others, but their personal relationship with each other is not the same and cannot be shared.

Having a personal relationship with Jesus transforms us, through the Holy Spirit working in us, and once we recognize that, we will want to change.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What is success?

I was listening to the radio earlier and heard something about Louis Armstrong. Ricky Riccardi, an archivist at the Louis Armstrong House was one of the guests being interviewed. The following is my slight paraphrase of one of his favorite stories about Armstrong.

In August of 1967, Louis Armstrong and his good buddy Jack Bradley were in a motel room, not a suite, a rundown motel on the side of the road. Louis tells Jack, "You know, Jack? I've really made it.” And Jack says, “Uh, what do you mean?” And Louis says, “Anytime I’m hungry, I could walk over to the refrigerator, get an egg, and make myself something to eat. I’ve really made it.” And Jack...had tears in his eyes. Jack told him, "You know, you should have filet mignon three times a day,” and Louis just brushed him off. That was the height of his success. By this point, he had “Hello Dolly”, 35 movies, TV every week, but the fact that he can make an egg sandwich anytime he wanted, that was it. He had really made it.”

I just wanted to put this out there, going into the holiday season, and a new year. Ask yourself, what does it mean to be successful, how will you know when you have arrived, and will you be happy at your destination?

 (Original Here and Now article - http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/12/24/louis-armstrong-christmas)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Freedom Means to Me

Dictionary.com defines freedom as, "the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint." Liberty is defined (from dictionary.com as well) as, "freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control." So in effect, freedom is being able to make your own choices.

Freedom to me means that I have the ability to make choices by myself. I have the capacity to worship a God I believe in, or not believe in one at all. I have the ability to decide whether or not I agree with my country's government and the way it's run. Freedom does not mean I can avoid the consequences of my actions, it does not mean I can live thinking my actions won't affect others around me. I can never take freedom for granted. I respect those who died for the country I live in and will do my best to improve whatever country I may live in.

The Declaration of Independence includes the sentence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mean are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Within that context, freedom means we are given/blessed with the divine right to life, liberty to our own choices, and the pursuit to make our lives what we want. America takes this "freedom" idea seriously, and has become one of the greatest nations in modern history. In the 20th century, through the freedom extended to the people, America became a powerful nation that led the world in science and technology.

Freedom means that we as human beings have the right to make decisions for ourselves and to improve our lives as we see fit. Freedom isn't fully appreciated if you've never lived without it and that is what we should all strive for; a world that allows us to make decisions (and to bear the repercussions of our actions), to better the world around us and for others.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ideas


Hi-Fi
What: Music store, Hi-Fi being the name. Top end headphone manufacturers sell their products in a specialized store, specifically for high-end shoppers.

Smart Traffic Controllers
Wired (or wireless) cameras hooked up to co-operate with traffic lights. Running recognition software to recognize when cars pull up to the intersection will dramatically decrease wait times, wasted fuel, and inefficiency with the current timed stop lights.
Note: works best with intersections that are not continually busy, (i.e. smaller towns and cities)

howlongismypaper.com
Using text-to-speech capabilities, people will be able to upload their papers to this website. Once scanned, the website will read back the paper at a natural conversational pace. This website will allow people to get an accurate idea of how long their paper (or speech) is, when presenting it later.

How to get rid of the penny
It costs 1.67 cents to make 1 penny. The reason we still have pennies to because of tax rates. By adjusting tax rates to round off to the nearest nickel, dime, or quarter, we will eliminate what is essentially wasteful spending.

Multi-Connect
Regular wireless mouse except it can carry two receivers, able to plug into two separate computers. When the mouse is placed within a foot of one receiver, the mouse will only work with that particular receiver.

SmartMirror
Closet doors with body length mirrors on the front, and embedded within the mirrors are projectors, enabling you to preview what particular clothes you’ll look like in before wearing them. The SmartMirror can have 3 separate modes:
            -Internet enabled, allowing you to “preview” clothes that you haven’t bought yet
            -Using your current clothes, the SmartMirror can function purely as an at-home device
            -Hybrid of Internet-enabled and at-home functions, allowing learning algorithms to suggest          what goes along with the clothes that you already own.

www.bigideas.org
Business oriented students can submit ideas to an online “locker” that their professor grades. Separately, if the professor thinks the idea is truly exceptional, he/she can submit it to another part of the website. Investors, backing the website, will further evaluate the projects. This makes the ideas easier to make it into the market, if the investor likes it enough. The website basically acts as a “sandboxed” environment, a “filter” before people waste resources trying to take an idea to market.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grinds My Gears.....


"You know what really grinds my gears?..."

People who don't take the time to educate themselves.....
I'm not talking about formal types of schooling, I"m talking about everyday conversational issues. Giving just a few minutes a day (or even a week, for that matter!) to the news, whether it's radio, newspaper, or online will keep you informed of current events. And if a person would do more than just passively listen and research and decide for themselves on an issue, we could have many more intelligent discussions than we have now.

Vague status updates on social-networking sites.....
This personally annoys me. I'll admit that I've posted a few of them myself, but I could probably count on two hands how many times something akin to, "I can't believe this is happening..." has gone up on my wall. I'm looking at certain people who have to post a vague update at least once a day, and most of them, multiple times a day. If you're not willing to give context on your issue...are you just looking for sympathy?

Know-it-all's.....
People who think they're right, are closed off to new viewpoints, and will argue until they win or are blue in the face. I'll admit it's a struggle sometimes to admit I'm wrong, or to open up to a new viewpoint, but I make a concerted effort to "walk in your shoes". I'll debate when it's something I do believe in and will not bend on certain viewpoints. On those, it's going to be "agree to disagree" with me. I can see your point and hope you can fairly see mine, but you won't be changing my mind. If there's a lot more that we have in common than in differences, can't we work off those similarities instead of constructing unbreakable walls?

Bad Drivers.....
This is a particular pet peeve. I love driving. I dream of being able to take off on a cross country road trip, seeing lots of things, experiencing different places, etc. However, people's driving can drive a person nuts. I've seen countless people come this close to being in an accident because they're talking on they're cell phones. I admit I've also talked on the cell phone while driving, but I make a conscience effort to try and pay attention to the vehicular activity around me while doing so. My pet peeve lies in the drivers who automatically slow down to a crawl or cut others off recklessly while talking. It's like their minds have shut off completely.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too Much. Too Fast.

Technology's pace is frustrating. Flat. Out. Annoying. When I graduated from high school in May 2010, I purchased a Samsung laptop in June. The laptop's specs were a step under high-end, at the time. A year later, much more powerful Samsung laptops were available for half the price I had paid for my laptop. I still have that laptop, and it runs just fine, but that's mostly because I lean more on the geeky side than most. I know how to take care of my computer, how to keep it clean of unnecessary software, etc. A lot of people don't know how to even speed up an older system and think that when their computer starts to slow down, that it's time for a new one. More power to you if you can afford it, but a lot of people can't. Computers aren't the only area that this applies to though. Practically everything technology-centered, from laptops to smartphones, moves at breakneck speed. This can be great for early adapters but at some point it crosses the line from "innovation" every 6 months to "throw-consumers-a-bone-feature-and-let's-make-more-money."

Case in point: when a consumer wants to buy a new cell phone (let's use Verizon as the network, smartphone category, and 4G capable.) Assuming the consumer knows Verizon offers 4G service in their particular geographic area, he/she is left with the last criteria to fill, a smartphone that is 4G capable. This presents a particular problem. Seemingly every smartphone available now seems to be cramming in more and more features. Long battery life, one of the biggest concerns for new smartphone buyers, seems to be on-par"ish" with 3G phones. The expectation of a 4G capable phone's battery lasting longer than a 3G capable phone seems like a pipe-dream for now. True, there are apps to help extend battery life by turning off wireless services and lowering screen brightness but you shouldn't need those.
There's an event going on right now that illustrates my point exactly. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. There are literally hundreds of companies that are trotting out new products that in a lot of cases, aren't that revolutionary when we're hit with wave after wave of "world's thinnest," etc.

It's critical for companies to have long term plans and release products, but maybe if they stopped rushing so many similar products to market, they could focus on real upgrades every 18-24 months. I bet this would give consumers even more of an incentive to upgrade when they're equipment is 2 years old and has a lot fewer features than trying to upgrade once a year to something with intermediate features.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stepping Back

In America, there's an idea that has allowed its citizens to flourish. It's partly responsible for immigration in the early 20th century. "America, the land of opportunity." If you come here and work hard enough you can, "Make it." The idea of what and when someone has "made it" has certainly changed but the basic principle hasn't. Work hard and you have the opportunity to be content and enjoy a good life. Nowhere in the last sentence did I say you will be rich. Money doesn't bring happiness. "Ridiculous," you say, "money buys things and those things make me happy." Sure, for a short time you can be happy and enjoy things, but you'll always want bigger and better and more.

In light of the recent "Occupy" movement, I ask the following question. "What is it they really want?"
When they say they want Wall Street, the rich, and big corporations to be taxed more, I hear, "Give me some of the rich people's money so I don't have to work as hard to get money."
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually says it quite nicely -
"Bottom line is — what I've said repeatedly is — you have the right to protest. But my personal view is, why don't you get out there and try to do something about the things that you don't like? Create the jobs that we are lacking rather than just yell and scream. But if you want to yell and scream, we'll make sure you can do it, but you're not going to do it at the expense of others."
Also, when people say, hire more Americans to do jobs in America, stop outsourcing, and basically, become more isolated on the world stage, that sounds great. In reality, when they say this, they're actually saying, "raise the prices on everything I buy." How much more do you think those shoes you're wearing right now would cost if someone had to make it in the United States instead of China or Taiwan or....you catching the point yet? I'm not saying I agree with the fact that factory conditions are bad and the workers only get paid a couple dollars a day. But I'm guessing they want that job that pays a couple dollars a day instead of doing manual labor all day for a fraction of that.

Conclusion? I know that trade between countries will benefit them more so than if they had chosen not to trade in the first place. There needs to be regulations yes, but let trade flourish and in the long run, you'll bring more prosperity to countries that need it and enrich their citizens lives.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Best of my Photoshop portfolio...for now.

"Outstanding Gallardo"


"Faded Oakley's"




"Crowded Loneliness"

"Be Brighter"

"Powerful Attraction"


"Live Oakleys"

"Organized Chaos"

.
"Musical Studies"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

AAW

All Around the World: People are sleeping, eating, working...
All Around the World: People are busy, bored, restless...
All Around the World: People are rushing, waiting, apathetic...

All Around the World, people are living their lives going about their business.
Some want to be re-incarnated into a better life, so they try and live good, purposeful lives now to avoid being bitten in the rear end in the next life.
Some want to go to heaven right after they die, so they also live lives filled with "good deeds" to make up for all their bad actions.

Me? I believe that we all have a simple choice. And even if the non-believers are right and nothing happens to us after we die and the world will end by human/natural causes, at least I have the hope of something better. If nothing happens after I die, I won't ever be aware of it. And living a moral life with good deeds can't hurt anyways.

All Around the World: People are living. Are you living to imitate others? Or are you living to make yourself unique and stand out in a way that will prompt others to ask, "What is so different about that person?"
What will you choose?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Google Cr-48 Experience

Well, I received my Cr-48 awhile ago now and have had time to thoroughly use it. Keep in mind that this is a prototype and the physical system I have will never actually be sold in stores.

The hardware itself is made of sturdy rubber coated plastic. The rubber gives it a nice anti-slip feel and overall, I prefer the all matte black look to some of the flashier laptops available. The matte screen is also good, considering some people want to be able to see their computer screens, should they prefer to work outside. I wish there had been at least two USB ports, instead of a lone one by the power plug.

The keys that replaced normal function keys you'd see on a Windows based laptop are actually quite useful once you get used to them. The hard key for switching tabs is very handy, if you're the type who likes to keep separate windows open for differing sets of tabs. Once I used this on the Cr-48, it became difficult for me to remember I didn't have that key on my R580. The other key that became very useful fast, is the "New Tab" key, which replaces the Caps Lock key. If you really want, you can put the default setting back to Caps Lock.  This key is much more useful than even hitting ctrl+T.

The large touchpad is also really good. It takes some getting used to, having to press with two fingers simultaneously for a right-click function, but it becomes second nature after enough time. Alternatively, you can press alt + one click. Multi-touch features are limited to scrolling with two fingers, but thats all you should need. If you're manipulating photos in any way, you'll be better off plugging in a mouse.

So the software is the Chrome browser. Plain and simple. There are few options in the browser that you won't find in the OS version. Google continually pushes updates, which is just fine with me, because I don't have to worry about security issues. Also, with every update, the differences between the browser and the OS, at least on the surface become less and less.

In regards to the software and USB ports together: there needs to be multiple USB ports, at a minimum 2. One for a mouse, one for a flash drive, or a printer. Even though Google has Google Cloud Print, it kills the whole point of having this as a potential primary computer, if you have to go to a conventional computer hooked up to a printer. Google could work in a print manager on the local device, instead of requiring an internet connection every time you want to print. Conceivably, there could be a database of printer drives that could be downloaded to your Chrome OS device and that could work with any printer you have.

In my opinion, when the retail versions of Chrome OS hit, they have to retain and add the following to make them as good, if not better than the Cr-48:

  1. Good style; I love the simple look and feel of the all-black, rubber coated Cr-48.
  2. Long battery life: This is a must, especially if Google is planning on promoting the "All-web, all the time" angle. 
  3. Matte screen: not much to say there.
  4. More USB ports: Please, who uses just 1 USB port at any one time? I find times when I've had a mouse plugged in, and yet I still need to print something (see above for the printer argument).
  5. SD slot/webcam/microphone: Keep all these components, they're practically requirements for laptops now.
  6. Fast boot up/wake time: Google Chrome OS can't grow like other programs have (iTunes, I'm looking at you), effectively ruining a major selling point. 
To anyone that argues that Google is too powerful, asking us to trust them with all our data and not having any control over any outages that may take place, remember, you don't have to use their services in the first place There are Windows/Mac based solutions that work for lots of people already. Frankly, if you're worried about Google, your probably not the type of customer they're looking for.
-On that note, Google could use Google Gears to allow accessible offline storage of e-mails on Google Chrome OS.

Wrapping up, I look forward to the retail versions of any and all Chrome OS laptop that comes along. I only hope the companies involved don't mess it too badly. 

Jury's Out

Jury duty is an important part of our justice system. Whether or not you think our system works, democracy is the best practical form of government. In all cases, the accused is innocent until proven, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty. In the last few weeks I've been introduced to new shades of gray and the subtle differences between how a law is written and how it should be interpreted. This makes it even harder to unanimously decide on a verdict.

In the case I was involved in, a doctor was charged with 4 counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree. The doctor was accused of inappropriately touching some of his female staff when (in the words of the prosecuting attorney), "they were alone." Just because he was charged and it came to trial, so far, does not mean he is guilty. 3 of the charges were alleged by one woman and the 4th was alleged by another woman. The alleged incidents specifically being charged happened years ago now and the women no longer work for this doctor. As a jury, we all agreed that the 4th count, brought by the single woman was a not guilty plea. There was simply too much "reasonable doubt," that we couldn't lead to a guilty verdict on.

The work relationship between the woman with the most charges and the doctor was extremely unprofessional in his actions and words on the sound recording of a normal work day. While the jury didn't favor either the defense or the prosecution (we couldn't let that be a determining factor anyways), we had the most trouble in deliberation with the definition of criminal intent.

Basically, as it related to this particular case, criminal intent comprises of 3 sub-definitions of the use of force. Also, the use of force had to involve touching the genitals, or the areas close to the genitals, or even the clothing covering those areas.
 Paraphrasing here:
1. It is enough force if the accused overcame the accuser through physical force.
2. It is enough force if the accused, through the threat of force, committed a criminal act towards the accuser.
3. It is enough force if the accused, through the use of concealment or the element of surprise, committed a criminal act towards the accuser.

"The element of surprise." I LOATHE that phrase now. The entire timeline of events, the behavior of all the parties involved and the questionable evidence lead 10/12 of us having enough "reasonable doubt" that lead to a not guilty verdict. The other two, and I'm not bashing them, I respect their points of views, were under the belief that the accuser was surprised, when in the time of day it happened, even though she had shown a tolerance to this type of behavior. The rest of the jury believed that she was "startled" when it happened, much like the way you might pass by a dog that runs out and barks at you. The first few times, you may be surprised, but when you go by enough times, the time of day it happens only startles you. Or, if your car backfires a lot. You're startled when it happens, because in some ways, you expect it to happen. We were teetering on the belief that the accuser had in fact, grown to expect it.

To wrap up, most of the details have been left out, but this is the overall run-down of the case. We, as the jury, believed that the doctor had indeed, at multiple times, inappropriately touched some of his female employees. However, as per the judge's orders, we had to consider all the testimony, give weight to what/who we believed, evaluate each charge individually as well, and be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor was guilty of the charges. There simply wasn't enough evidence to do that. While I honestly hope that doctor never again makes a vulgar comment, or even tries to touch a female employee inappropriately, I know, based on all the evidence that was presented, that he most likely will. As so many of the jurors pointed out, "Sooner or later, you get what's coming."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mashup

Why the laptop (and devices like it) won't die

Mavis Becon. Raise your hands if you learned to type starting with this program, or something similar. My hand's raised. Most likely you learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard and your typing speeds only increased.  With the introduction of the iPad and the "tablet craze," a lot of tech organizations including Wired, PC Magazine, Engadget, CNET, etc. have claimed that laptops and to an extent, desktops, are on the way out. Their findings seem to reflect their rationale. Sales of desktops and laptops are declining while cell phones and tablets are increasing. However, full sized keyboards are NOT going the way of the dodo. Apart from the obvious reasons that laptops and desktops have more power and are overall, more useful productivity devices, I propose a different reason why these particular machines (laptops and desktops) will stick around. Keyboarding classes. (Most) people can type faster and easier on a full-size keyboard than on a cell phone, no matter how well designed. Until we start teaching kids to type on cell phone keyboards in schools we will not have to worry about the disappearance of full-sized keyboards. Yea, you can buy a keyboard for you iPad, but that defeats the purpose of having a portable device that's easy to travel with, plus it only adds to the price.


Time

Days drag on, but the years fly by. This is so true it's ridiculous. Example: When I first started going to Battle Creek Academy, i started roughly half-way through the 5th grade. I recall many, many times how I couldn't wait until I was in high school. I saw being older as "cool" and for awhile, it seemed the older I got, the "cooler" I would be. But then when I finally got into high school, I mentally looked forward and thought, "4 very long years until I can finally graduate!" Then those 4 years flew by and in the space of one summer, I felt very separated and far away time-wise, from the school where I spend 7 and a half years.

"Regret for wasted time is more wasted time" - Mason Cooley, O Magazine, April 2004

"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them" - Dion Boucicault

Take time to slow down, appreciate life and the people around you. Watching those older than me age makes me realize that in the grand scheme of Earth's history, 80 years (the average lifespan in the United States) is  nothing but a drop of water in what amounts to the Mississippi River. Life goes on, and people adjust to losses. What are YOU doing that people will remember you for?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Take Time

Take time to think
   It is the source of power
Take time to play
   It is the secret of perpetual youth
Take time to read
   It is the fountain of wisdom
Take time to pray
   It is the greatest power on earth
Take time to love and be loved
   It is a God-given privilege
Take time to be friendly
   It is the road to happiness
Take time to laugh
   It is the music of the soul
Take time to give
   It is too short a day to be selfish
Take time to work
   It is the price of success

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Study: Young kids better with tech than 'life skills'


So basically, we're going too far now with technology. How are we allowing more than twice the percentage of kids that know how to make an emergency phone call to know the operations of a computer? It's not like you can call 911 on Skype or anything. Stop giving 8 year olds cell phones and get back to the basics of teaching kids what now amounts to survival skills. They'll have the rest of their lives to be around technology, that's a promise.
__________________________________________________________________________________
survey of online mothers found that more small children can play a computer game than ride a bike. The Digital Diaries study from Internet security firm AVG said that 58 percent of children aged two to five know how to play a "basic computer game" compared with 52 percent who know how to ride a bike. Sixty-three percent can turn a computer on and off, and 69 percent can use a mouse. By contrast, only 20 percent can "swim unaided," 11 percent can tie their shoelaces without help, and 20 percent know how to make an emergency phone call.
The study polled of 2,200 online mothers of children between two and five years old in the U.S., Canada, the EU5 (U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain), Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, according to AVG.
Other interesting findings are that 25 percent know how to use a browser, 16 percent can navigate between Web sites, 15 percent know at least one Web address, and 19 percent know how to operate a smartphone or a tablet. On the analog side of life, 39 percent know their home address, 27 percent can make their own breakfast, and 37 percent can write their first and last name.
The study also found that mothers older than 35 are "marginally better at teaching their children life skills," which the survey defines as non-tech skills like making breakfast or riding a bike. The study also concluded that "there is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls. As many boys [58 percent] as girls [59 percent] can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call [28 percent boys, 29 percent girls]."
While I guess it's great that kids are so tech-savvy, the study points out that they may not be getting the "life skills" they need in other areas of their lives. In an interview, AVG's Tony Anscombe said "Because we (adults) are so connected, maybe what we don't understand is what we're actually doing is connecting our children the same way, and it's becoming normal for them and maybe we're ignoring some of those life skills as well."
Anscombe added, "as parents there is a digital responsibility to be had. We need to look at making sure that we give our children a balanced life and a mix of both life skills and technical skills."
What we don't know from this data is how children might have done with life skills in the pre-computer age. I did come across a document (PDF) from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that suggests that ages four and five are when it's appropriate for kids to "ride small bicycles."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Film Critics

What is the point of being a film critic? Or, for that matter, any job where you get paid for your opinion? Media, especially films, are extremely subjective to people's own points of view and experiences. Just because the film critic has their own idea of what makes a film good, that doesn't mean readers will share that particular view as well. How many movies have you seen in theaters that you heard were bad, but you ended up liking a lot?

Example: I've heard reviews from different critics about the same movie and one may like it for the "entertainment value," while another may appreciate the "good acting," and someone else will pan the movie excepting, "mindless entertainment."

The two highest grossing movies,  "Avatar" and "Titanic," respectively, are both directed by James Cameron. They both were expected to do poorly before they were released. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(2009_film)#Commercial_analysis) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_(1997_film)#Commercial_analysis). Given that film critics were wrong about the top two films of all time, I try not to totally can a movie before I've even seen it. Don't get me wrong, a movie may just not appeal to me and I won't be drawn to it either. I"m not talking about that. I'm saying before I see a film, I'll try to not bash it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How is Internet Piracy going to be stopped?

I thought I had posted this after I wrote this awhile ago, but as it turns out, I didn't.

Internet Piracy, including the illegal downloading of movies, music, games, etc., will only be stopped when the makers of said items stop trying to sell solely for profit. The "Big Four" record companies control about 70% of the worldwide music industry and an astounding 80% of the United States market (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_companies). The movie studios are similar, with the "Big Six" and the "Mini-Major" companies controlling vast amounts of media that people consume (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_film_studio).

When a record label or movie studio pays its biggest stars millions of dollars, not to mention the royalties and percentages of profits from music sales and films, respectively, the people who consume this media have little problem with downloading from torrents, various website, and programs such as The Pirate Bay, Kazaa, etc. Especially in this economy, people have less money to spend.

The solution to these problems is simpler than the record companies, film studios, etc. want us to think. Various "reports" out of the RIAA claim that billions of dollars and "thousands of jobs" are lost every year due to piracy. Exactly what kind of long-term jobs are lost due to piracy?

To battle this, music studios need to recognize that CD's are going the way of the dodo bird, and few people buy entire albums, especially when iTunes offers the one hit song from a popular album for 99 cents. Music labels need to set up their own stores, undercut Apple's pricing, and watch the profits roll in. Movie studios need to set up their own online stores as well, sell their movies for half what the DVD cost (because there is no physical disks and physical transportation costs to pay for), and watch their profits come in as well. And when a user has downloaded a song or movie, that's it. It's in a high quality, non-DRM format, and the user can do whatever they want with it. Meanwhile, the companies, if they wanted, could include a tiny file that connects a downloader to a particular file. If that file ever makes its way onto LimeWire, torrent sites and the like, the user would be responsible for a REASONABLE price to pay the companies in so called "lost revenue." The price paid however, needs to high enough for the downloader to not do it again, but not enough to bankrupt them.

These solutions could work, if the companies would be willing to even try it. The short term profits might take a hit, but the long-term benefits would include having loyal, legal consumers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why the TSA is ineffective (and what we can do)

The TSA is really nothing more than "Security Theater." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_theater). Terrorists increasingly devise newer methods and the TSA will forever be playing catch-up. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/11/22/131517640/tsa-is-far-behind-the-curve-on-security-lawmaker-says. When the failed underwear bomber failed, terrorists didn't insist on trying that method until a plane was brought down, they moved on to other methods. When United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it, when the "Underwear bomber" failed, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it, and when the recently discovered UPS and FedEx packages were discovered before they blew up cargo planes, again, it wasn't the TSA that prevented it. These are just a few examples of how the TSA hasn't been involved in preventing catastrophe.

Many people are opposed to the new body scanners that practically strip search them at airports. Even when people opt-out of the scanners, the TSA has done what amounts to body cavity searches. When the TSA does perform the "enhanced" searches, they have little regard for people's dignity, privacy, or common sense. http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/tsas-greatest-hits-4-notorious-pat-downs/19728507

If you listen to this (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131520780), basically, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has described in detail, in an all-English article how they planned the failed cargo plane bombings in 3 months and how it cost them less than $5000. NPR's guest basically states that AQAP believes in "death by a thousand cuts." http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/22/tsa-is-a-joke-to-al-qaeda-too/ By allowing our fear to best us, by allowing the TSA to strip-search us, by allowing ourselves to trade freedom for security that is ineffective we are allowing the enemy to win. 

So, what to do? How do we fix this problem? While I don't have all the answers, let's start with the obvious. Use common sense. Observe people's behavior, stop using such invasive search techniques, stop using the body scanners. Use more bomb sniffing dogs, which by the way, are way better at detecting chemical signatures than machines. Trust the passengers to do the right thing, for they are truly the last line of defense against any passenger-based attack. Divert the resources used in putting the body scanners in airports to better the kind of intelligence that tracked the UPS and FedEx packages. We can keep the conventional metal detectors, and emptying of pockets at the airport, but please, keep it to that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Publicity

Publicity as defined by Wikipedia: Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject. The subjects of publicity include people (for example, politicians and performing artists), goods and services, organizations of all kinds, and works of art or entertainment.

Publicity as defined by dictionary.com: extensive mention in the news media or by word of mouth orother means of communication.


If someone had really gotten a copy of a real screener test DVD, one would think that the entire film would be leaked. But 36 minutes? Come on, who in their right mind believes that someone managed to get a screener quality copy of the film, and cut out roughly three-quarters (based on average running time of all the other Harry Potter films) just to leak it online?

Nothing's better than publicity you don't pay for. And by not leaking the entire film, people have more interest to see the entire thing. And no, I'm not planning on seeing this at all, let alone, paying for it in theaters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why the Verizon iPhone came too late

If this report is accurate, Apple will begin selling CDMA compatible iPhones next year. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703735804575536191649347572.html?mod=googlenews_wsj) However, by then, it will be too late. Because of Apple's unbelievable control over everything it touches, and the exclusive contract that it had with AT&T for so many years, the timing will be good for the few that just HAVE to have the iPhone on a different network.

But for the rest of us, Android will be the answer. According to this report, Android has surpassed iOS devices (and iOS devices include the ipod touch, so the actual iPhone market is even smaller) for the first time and looks like it will continue to rise. (http://www.dailytech.com/Study+Android+is+Terminating+RIM+Apples+Marketshare/article19808.htm)

Perhaps if Apple's exclusive contract had been shorter, and had released this new version it's planning sooner, it would still dominate the market. However, because of the very phone it introduced, Apple now has competitors bypassing the standards set by Apple itself. Simply put, there are too many good alternatives to the iPhone now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Believe

Origin of Humans

I believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, that God did indeed create the earth in 6 literal, 24-hour time periods. I do believe that the universe itself may be older. In the Bible, it's stated that God created the “heavens and earth.” Since I don't understand what heavens could mean, to me, it's possible that the heavens could mean the entire universe as observable by humans, or in a sense, it could just as well mean the atmosphere, or solar system, or our galaxy alone.


Spirituality and Freewill

I believe that there is a God who created this world and is actively involved in His creation. There is a Trinity consisting of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Father's Son, and the Holy Spirit. Miracles happen, as shown to us in the Bible and other “supernatural, or unexplainable” events. There is a battle between Satan and Jesus for humanity.


Humans have the freedom to chose between God and Satan. We all are born with basic moral principles hardwired in our brains. As we become older we are more aware of this choice by how we're raised. If we are raised in a religious background, we are taught in church. If we have a secular upbringing, we are made aware of a “higher power” through nature or other people and where human curiosity takes over and we pursue what we've heard.


Government and it's role

Government should be there to provide for it's citizens. A democracy is the best form of government, even though in theory, it may be communism. Since all power in a democracy originates from the people, the people and their voted representatives need to find a more effective way of communication. Obama may be hated by many, but I still think that he inherited a huge, huge mess from Bush and the Recession started before Obama became president too. Obama managed to become a Democratic president, after this country had been controlled by Republicans for the last 8 years. Bad timing doesn't help anyone. However, he's not making all the right choices or being as politically “changing” as he promised.


Abortion (randomly thrown in here)

Plain and simple I believe abortion in any case is flat out wrong. You can try and look at it from different angles, but you cannot escape the fact that you are killing a human life. That's my stand.


Closing

Some might say I am a traditional, conservative Seventh Day Adventist. As aforementioned, I believe that we have the freedom to choose who we follow. In my opinion, we sleep in death until Jesus returns and ghosts are not truly people coming back to see us and tell us how the afterlife is. Even if you don't “subscribe” to an organized religion, why wouldn't you want to believe in something better. I've been researching into the size of the universe. Go look up on Wikipedia the following: Observable Universe, Pale Blue Dot, and Hubble Ultra Deep Field. If this doesn't make you feel insignificant, I don't know what does. At least I have a belief in something better to come, which is my point.

p.s. There are more things I believe in, obviously, and the points covered here are NOT in depth, but these are just a few major points.