The Unauthorized Version

"The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty." -Ieuan Brydydd Hir ********************* "Biblical piety is not really pious; one must rather characterize it as well-considered, qualified worldliness." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Indispensable Lessons Learned from working Tech Support

Although I am not working telephone-based customer technical support anymore, there are a few very important lessons I learned from that time that are still important today.

1. ALWAYS be friendly and accommodating to the person you are being paid to help even if what you want to do to them is going to land you in prison for life.

2. Take time to ask lots of questions so you can get a detailed picture of the situation in your mind, especially if you are confused or unsure of what to do.

3. Offer people options when possible.

4. ALWAYS maintain full control of any situation where YOU are the one being asked for help.

5. The problem's not solved until the user verifies it is solved.

6. Never hang up/ditch/fire/ignore a user without EXPLICIT approval from management.

7. Follow-up NEEDS to be a habit.

8. The problem's not solved until you have considered every contingent situation that may affect the issue or undo your solution.

9. Escalate as soon as you realize that you cannot satisfy the user.

10. OWN the issue from birth to resolution no matter what happens unless management kicks you off the case.

11. Keep your nose clean. At the time you least expect it, a dissatisfied user is going to run their complaints all the way up the flagpole. Your manager will the next-to-last person on the recieving end of a fast-moving pile of dung. If it is found that you varied at all from company policy and procedures, BAM! you're to blame.

12. Thoroughly and accurately brief your colleagues on user issues, either in conversation or through documentation. Otherwise, your customer service may come into question on account of miscommunication.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

TWAIN_32.DLL - MESSAGE - CTwunk ::CloseServer - Why Can't We Find The Thunker Window?

This problem will manifest itself on an application level with a generic scanner failure at scan time.

The root cause of this message is a missing or incompatible TWAIN driver. If you have just installed the drivers from Windows Update, then you likely have a WIA (Windows Image Aquisition) driver. You will need to download and install the full driver package from the vendor.

You can check to see if a TWAIN driver is installed by going to C:\Windows\twain_32 and looking for a folder there. Each compatible TWAIN scanner installed on your system will create a folder here with the TWAIN file inside. If the folder exists but the problem persists, ensure you have the latest driver. If that doesn't help, add the folder path to your PATH environment variable.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Fix Google Nexus 5 flaky GPS

Go to Settings>Location and turn it off. Turn it back on and answer yes when asked to allow location reporting. Lastly, hold in the power button and choose shut down. Then turn the phone back on.
This procedure clears and refreshes the GPS data. The restart is required to kick off the loading of fresh data.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Age of Accountability Down the Toilet?

    CNN is reporting a study performed by Yale University that shows that infants as young as 3 months of age know right from wrong.
    A three month old can't accept the Christian gospel. So then if a 3 month old infant dies, he dies as one who has never heard the gospel.
    According to fundagelicals, this infant is headed for hell, because he knows right from wrong and is therefore accountable, but has never accepted Christ.
    This actually comports pretty well with some Christian fundamentalist teachings that urge parents to spank their newborns... if they have an innate sense of morality then they deserve to be punished for infractions because they obviously know what they are doing. In this way of thinking, babies really are little bundles of sin and they need it exorcised from their little bodies through rigorous discipline. This is all Biblical literalism 101.
    Ah but as you might of guessed, there is an entirely different way of looking at this. Consider that the way the Yale researchers proved that young infants know right from wrong is by giving them a choice between a puppet who behaved badly and a puppet who was kind, and the infants overwhelmingly chose the kind puppet. In other words, the average infant appears to be attracted to goodness, not meanness. This seems to invalidate the "little bundle of sin" hypothesis of literalist fundamentalism. Essentially, consciousness of something does not imply affinity with something. The knowledge of good and evil does not, in itself, guarantee an affinity with either good or evil. This basic truth can be seen in the average person who generally behaves well but sometimes lies or acts meanly when the right opportunity presents itself.
    Child training, then, is not about beating the sin out of the child (sorry King Solomon) but nurturing a tendency toward goodness. Surely there are punishments to be given for sustained or blatant offenses, but this is second-string parenting at best. First-line parenting is shepherding children toward right actions, thoughts, and tendencies. This is the prime directive and it involves first and foremost modeling right behavior, and then teaching right behavior. It also involves countering negative influences on behavior.
    Okay--back to salvation. We'll assume the fundagelical position that good works cannot bring salvation. Given that a child has next to no possibility of mentally understanding and assenting to gospel propositions until age 5-7 (and even at those ages it is dubious as to whether they can truly grasp the concepts they are being taught), the emphasis on strict infant and toddler discipline within fundamentalist circles is curious, if not inconsistent. The best answer given by proponents of these methods is that strict infant and toddler discipline prepares them to accept that they are worthless without God, and breaking their will so that they are prepared to submit to gospel at such a time as they are able to receive it. As a matter of fact, this is the only possibly consistent answer since even the best behaved 1, 2, or 3 year old, not having accepted Christ, is on their way to hell, according to fundagelicals.
    However, the concept that it is worthwhile to make your children feel their worthlessness in preparing for receiving the gospel is not only tragic and devastating to the psychological well-being of the child, but it is absolutely contrary to the gospel of Christ. For people who otherwise take the Bible so literally, they miss where Christ said that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin and righteousness and judgement. Only the Holy Spirit can fully prepare one's heart to receive Christ.
    Meanwhile, these parents who break their child's will and try to make them feel worthless on their own are psychologically abusing their children. Ironically, these children may accept Christ and follow the leadership of their parents and pastor but how do you stand up against the principalities and powers with a broken will? There's no will left for Christ to transform. These are follower Christians who will work well within the system but will likely have a hard time standing outside of it.
With no time left before the age of accountability (except possibly the first three months of life) it is almost more loving for the fundagelical to believe in a works salvation. At least then if you can get your little child to behave well then they have a chance...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sitting in church this morning...

We haven't participated in worship since we left the fundamentalist church. We were both raised on traditional worship with hymns, a piano, and possibly an organ. So for all of the fundamentalists that say people just go to contemporary churches to be entertained, that is bunk. It isn't that we think the worship is bad, but we just don't "get" with it. We deal with it because the only places you can find traditional worship anymore are fundamentalist and mainline churches. Neither of us want to go back to fundamentalism and my wife won't go to mainline.
Evangelicalism and fundamentalism are starting to meet in the middle these days however, so I don't know how long it will be until we start seeing some of the same tendencies crop up. The emerging American church of the second decade of the 21st century is not leftist but a coalition of moderate fundies and rightward evangelicals into what could best be described as a conservative evangelicalism (CE). The fundies are being decimated demographically and have no other option. The evangelical Christian Right is becoming ever more right-wing, tracking with the right-ward drift of the Republican party. (This is what happens when you join church and politics.) Perhaps there is also a little residual reaction to the late "emergent" movement but that would be a secondary influence.
Ultimately the polarization of America is being reflected in the polarization of the church. I wish the government would revoke the 501(c)(3) status of every church tomorrow. Let the evangelicals, at least the conservative majority) bellow the Republican, Tea-Party, Obama is an alien Muslim nonsense straight into oblivion. They already do it but they hide behind the neutral facade they are required by the IRS to put up.
Michael Spencer wrote an article some time back about the demise of evangelicalism, pointing out that what remains of evangelicalism will be charismatic in nature. The conservative evangelicals are committed to cessationism, leaving no room for evangelicals such as the Assembly of God or Pentecostals, who will be left to occupy the spectrum that used to be known as solidly evangelical, at least in cultural terms.
The church we have been attending uses the NIV2011 in services which has been roundly condemned by conservative evangelicals for gender inclusivity (although it is tame in comparison to other inclusive versions). So the church seems at least for now still in the classic mainstream of evangelicalism. At least until I chat with the assistant pastor afterwards and see the ESV tucked under his arm, a translation whose whole purpose for existance was to strike back at the little-known, gender inclusive NIVI (1997) with a text that was intentionally non-inclusive and deliberately conservative. *facepalm* The ESV does not just represent a non-gender-inclusive translation philosophy, it represents an anti-gender-inclusive translation philosophy, having a dangerous polarizing effect.
Well I suppose there is no point into reading too much into any single thing. Don't count your chickens till they hatch. I just keep finding eggs...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Problems with Line Drying Clothes

To save money but mostly because we still needed to run a 240v electric circuit or a gas line to our laundry room for a dryer, we line dried our clothes for a while. I was very excited at first to be doing something so green!
We still don't have a dryer, although the 240v circuit is in (along with a vent) and we will be buying later this week. But we haven't line dried our clothes in months for many good reasons which I will lay out in this post. I schlep three large hampers to the laundromat once a week. I don't take issue with those who line dry, but I would take issue with those who make it a cause.
First major problem: the STIFFNESS of the clothes after line drying. Regardless of how much water is spun out of the clothes, water remains in the clothes after washing, and that is why clothes must be dried. This remaining water contains minerals from the water supply, plus any soap that did not rinse out. When clothes are hung out to dry, there is nothing to prevent the minerals and soap residue from drying in place, acting like starch.
We tried to solve the problem by reducing the amount of soap that went into the laundry, to no avail. We have hard water in our area, which only contributed to the problem. Ultimately, the only thing that worked (partially) was using cleaning strength (6%) white vinegar and filling the washer's softener compartment to the max line with it, but the clothes still came out fairly stiff.
Second major problem: the above mentioned stiffness led to an increase in PILLING. Pilling occurs when fabrics experience friction, and over time this friction results in the fabric piling up and creating little balls or tags all over the garment. Line dried clothes cause much more friction because of their stiffness, and this occurs as fabrics rub against each other while being worn, but mostly when you shove all of your stiff clothes back in the washer to be agitated or tumbled together.
I blamed our washer at first. However, the rapid pilling problem persisted even when used the delicate cycle with low spin speed and took care not to over load the washer.
Third major problem: over time, parts of our clothes experienced FADING. The hot California sun was unforgiving even when we limited the amount of time our clothes stayed on the line.
We tried putting a tablecloth or blanket over the clothes to block the sun, but that would often blow off or just cause our clothes to take too long to dry. Indoor line dry was not an option because the increased indoor humidity that would have resulted would have created conditions for mold, which leads to my next major problem.
Fourth major problem: line drying aggravated my wife's sensitive ALLERGIES. All of the allergens in the surrounding air permeated our clothes and were thus brought into our house, which was otherwise kept pretty allergen-free. It was really bad with the sheets and blankets because now she was breathing in these allergens every night, all night.
All four of these problems went away completely when we went back to using dryers. How do tumble dryers solve the stiffness and pilling problems, you may ask? The tumble action combined with the rapidly moving air breaks up and pulls away deposits left behind in the water, along with other debris on the clothes, and deposits it in the lint filter. The result is that there are little to no deposits left on your clothes to act as starch and make them stiff. This lack of stiffness, in turn, reduces the friction that causes pilling. I also theorize that this removal of deposits plus the tossing of the clothes in the dryer gives the fabric a chance to settle into proper lay and shape as it dries, helping to maintain the condition of fabric. Indeed, after a few times of drying the clothes in a dryer, the condition of the fabric was visibly improved.
One problem a regular dryer can cause is static, but we easily solve this with some unscented dryer sheets.
I wanted to write this post because there are tons of websites that will advise you to line dry to save energy and go green without indicating any of the serious downsides to it. Modern technology exists for a good reason.
We still use vinegar as a softener though. It works great, making the clothes just a little bit softer than they would be otherwise, without all of the chemicals.