Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Comments back on...

Blogger has now implemented "word verification" which means you have to type in a word represented by a wierd graphic to post. This should keep out the spammers. Hooray!

Monday, August 29, 2005

New Cable Modem

Just bought the DLink DCM-202... so far so good. My download speed per Cox's speed test app is 4.45Mbps on my 4Mbps connection. I have been pinging all over with no problems. Hooray!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Computer trials and tribulations.

I have several devices that connect via USB to my computer. Now, my computer has USB ports, but they are earlier version USB ports (1.1). This meant that things like scanning and working on my USB key drive were relatively slow.
So for approximately $13 total I ordered a USB 2.0 card online, which is capable of over 40x the speed of my USB 1.1 ports. Seemed to go well as I reveled in the quick speed with which I was able to access my USB key drive.
Then, it all started. I plugged in the printer/scanner. No matter what I did it wouldn't install, and so already having considered a format/reload of my OS, Windows ME, I proceeded to backup my stuff and wipe the hard drive.
The computer was also becoming very slow. I ran a number of tests on the drive in which the drive tested fine but acted verrry slow. Like trying to get a directory listing from the command line of a blank drive and waiting 2 minutes for it, all the while the drive access is lit. I knew the drive was on its way down, even if it wouldn't admit it.
So I go to a local computer store the next day to get a drive and, what the heck, I grab a copy of XP. Spending $60 on the new drive is already throwing a wrench in my budget so I figured let's do it in style. Besides, WinME is always touchy, flaky- I tried to love WinME and tweaked it incessantly but to no avail.
The drive installed and has been performing flawlessly and is very fast. XP installed nicely, recognized everything, and I began to reload all my stuff. I was having a frustrating problem with slow internet connections. So was my other computer, a Win98SE machine. Several reboots of the cable modem fixed that for my other computer but my new XP install was still lagging when accessing the internet.
The first suspected culprit was QoS. A number of websites told of WinXP reserving bandwidth for itself and throttling apps through use of the QoS Scheduler. Well I completely uninstalled the QoS network component and disabled the system service, to no avail. As it turns out, XP reserves no bandwidth, but QoS apps can reserve bandwidth, although XP will still share the bandwidth unless the app actually uses it.
Next up was general TCP/IP tweaking. No improvement here, either.
Lastly I discovered Windows XP's "feature" of limiting the number of TCP connections so as to limit internet worm attacks. By default, this limit is 10. Only by patching a system file, TCPIP.SYS, can this limit be changed. Fortunately, an app exists on the internet to do that, and I increased my limit to 150. Rebooted, now I am a happy camper!
I am confident of my ability to protect and clean my system so I am not concerned with my machine becoming a "bot" in a "worm attack." I would much prefer fast networking.

Update: No, the problem came back again. ARRRGGGHHH! So I increased the priority of DNS resolution, manually set the interface metric, turned off the AV and firewall, installed Win2k drivers for the network card, all to no avail. Then, I swapped network cards with my Win98SE system, so I put the Linksys NC100 into that system and put the NETGEAR FA310TX into my system. The Win98SE system was happy and content (as usual), but then when I inserted my USB key drive WinXP hard locked. GRRRRR... So I can't even boot WinXP into safe mode, so I started the installation CD. Wouldn't boot from that, either- it locked up at "Starting Windows". HMMM... obviously a hardware issue.
I pulled out the NETGEAR card and lo and behold, XP boots like a charm. I went into the registry and deleted the info for this device, then used a utility off the internet to reset the TCP/IP stack and the Winsock. After shutting down and putting the card back in with the USB key plugged in, everything configured.
Now to try different permutations of inserting my USB key drive. I inserted it while in Windows- OK, then removed it - OK, then shut down and inserted it and booted - OK. So it looks good.
AND.... my problem seems to GONE! My fingers are crossed, though.

Update #2. With the NETGEAR adapter in my system, internet performance was what it ought to be, although I felt that tweaking some of the TCP/IP settings would give it a little bit more of an edge. After making the tweaks things slowed down. O-K.... so I undo the tweaks and no improvement. GRRRRRR..... So I delete ALL of the TCP/IP info in the registry incorrectly assuming XP will rebuild it. WRONG. Now TCP/IP is all hosed and even resetting the stack via netsh doesn't work. So-o, I export a copy of the key from my XP Pro system at work and email it to myself. Just now I imported it, reset the TCP/IP stack, and reinstalled the NIC so it would rebind with TCP/IP, and life is good again. _Hopefully_ this is the LAST installment of this saga. I think I am going to leave things alone now, as far as networking goes!

Update #3. Now three days later since the beginning of this ordeal, I am coming to realize it is not my computer. My mom, who uses the Win98SE box, finally told me she had been having slowdowns, still. So, I run my system directly into the cable modem and... the problem persists. Having moved the cable modem into my room and connecting it to my APC UPS, the problem has lessened, and my connection is OK, but definately not what it should be. So I'm thinking maybe I need a new cable modem right? As I shop online and review Cox's approved modem list I find, guess what? My cable modem, which WAS on their list, has dropped off. Other DOCSIS 1.1 modems are on the list, so it must be something with my model (SMC8002) that doesn't work right with their systems anymore. I sure wish they had told me, they have my modem model registered in their system. I would be interested to see the technical details but I'll never get through to anyone high enough and technical enough to get those.
So now it's NEW CABLE MODEM time. Another $60-odd bucks. GRRRRR..... It will have to wait. I can't spend another dime right now. Looking at the D-Link DCM-202, BTW. Nice price and good reviews and on Cox's list.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bibliocentrism, Part I

I had quoted another web site a few entries back:
"Scripture’s silence is not an invitation for us to dispute with each other, nor is it a license for us each to go our own way. It is a divine invitation for us to draw close to the heart of God, hear his intimate whispers, and joyfully honor him in holy submission to his greatness, delighting in his right to rule every aspect of our lives."

Back in 2001 when I switched from being KJV only I hardly knew where it would lead. The journey from God's-total-word-as-expressed-in-one-Bible-version-only has become a gradual removal of every artificial construct that presents itself as truth and holiness and the right way to live. I hardly would say that I am at the end of that path but I will say now, that the only right way for the Christian to live is under the constant influence of God through His Spirit. This is a standard of righteousness that transcends our laws and codes.
I also will not say that I have learned to perfectly live under the influence of the Spirit. In that, I am just beginning and will probably never attain full proficiency. Nonetheless the goal is clear, to conform and wrap my being around God Himself so that I may become exactly what He wants me to be.
The present question I will address, is the relevance of the written Scripture to the Christian in the face of this goal. Suffice it to say that Scripture alone is not enough for our complete transformation into Christ-likeness. This statement will cause you great difficulty if you are a strict fundamentalist or a KJVOist. It is obvious however, that God has a unique plan for each of us and for this reason it is impossible for Scripture alone in the written form to provide us with all we need to conform to Him.
A short while after reading the above quote (among others like it), I ran across a statement which reminded me of the plain fact that for at least 1000 years in the Middle Ages (1400 it is claimed), common people did not have access to Scripture. It is often claimed that this is because of the Catholic Church but it should be obvious that this is not a complete explanation if even true. Books were costly and expensive to produce and this meant that for those communities that actually had a Bible, they were under lock and key at the church. Pick whatever Christian sect during the Middle Ages that you believe represented true Christianity and it is doubtful they "read their Bibles" daily. Not only for the reason above but also due to a high illiteracy rate. At best they might have memorized portions of Scripture.
Imagine... a Christian without a Bible. It was reality in those times. Two connected things, the oral teaching of faithful men who had occasional access to a copy of the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit Himself, were able to sustain the church in these times.
Now I have to point out that I believe the Bible is true. On the one hand, it is never right to teach as absolute truth what the Scriptures are silent or unclear on. On the other hand, it is not right to justify carnal activities by saying that Scripture doesn't have a black-and-white command against it.
Aha, the strict fundamentalist will say. I, who read new versions and listen to modern music am now guilty of hypocrisy. Yet if I am guilty of hypocrisy, they are more, in that they hold Scripture SO high as to twist from Scripture what they call "principles" to condemn my activity, thus falling into the opposite error. If the strict fundamentalist would not do this, I think he would find Scripture more favorable to that which he opposes, although there would still be room for argument.
(As a matter of fact, the hardcore "Bibliocentrism" of strict fundamentalists leaves them no alternative but to force the Scripture to speak on topics that Scripture simply does not address definitively. This often involves taking Scripture out of its cultural context.)
The point I am making is that Scripture functions as a set of training wheels. The truth of Scripture defines some thou shalts and some thou shalt nots. The power to ride uprightly is given by the Spirit, and the Scriptures guide us and are especially helpful early on.
A few years ago I remember telling my pastor at the time that I had a difficult time sticking to a daily Bible reading schedule. To my suprise, he responded that perhaps I didn't need to read the Scripture every day- this from a fundamentalist pastor. More recently, I had some success with the One Year Bible.
What I began to realize however, is that I focused on my written Bible to guide me, more than the Spirit. My "Bibliocentrism" was limiting my walk to the elementals, the thou shalts and thou shalt nots. Yes, the Scripture speaks of liberty and grace, but instead of finding these I continued to wobble down the street bouncing left and right from one training wheel to the next. Many others do the same.
To continue with the analogy, it is never right to fall off the bike. This leads me to my final point- that every Christian comes to a point where it is right and proper to "take of the training wheels" and focus on the Spirit. This works because we are talking about a committed, experienced Christian who should have some level of humility and more than likely teaching the Scripture to others in some way.
The Bible itself says in II Tim 3:15-17:
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
He doesn't say "thou hast read daily," he says "thou hast known". It is a general knowledge of the Scripture that causes us to be "furnished".

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fuzzy Organization

Imagine if you will a chart that shows the value of different products. One axis represents quality, the other represents price. Our products are represented by dots, and so we have dots scattered throughout the graph.
In one corner is represented the ultimate value- lowest price, highest quality. In another corner is represented the worst value- highest price, lowest quality. The key to reading this type of chart is not to look for the dot farthest along either axis. If you do that, you'll either get the cheapest or the highest quality, but it may be a very bad value for your money. What you want to look for is the dot that is closest to corner that represents ultimate value, regardless of where that dot falls along either axis.

When it comes our lives, time is money, and we have to search out what ways we can spend our time that produce the most value for the time spent. For example, if 5 minutes spent doing one activity were to insure that my family would stay healthy for many years, that would be high value. However, if I spent 5 minutes trying to get the doormat outside positioned juuuust right, that would be very bad value. I would only do that if I had time to kill. More than likely an out of place doormat would get about 6 seconds of foot shoving tops regardless of how successful my foot shoving had been.

It is helpful to mentally recast our to-do lists in terms of value charts. Obviously, we can't perfectly plot our tasks this way, thus my title; it is more of a generalization that goes on. But as we focus on different tasks thinking like this, the value level becomes clear. As we begin to do those things which we know have the most value for our time, nearby tasks of close value will draw us to give attention to them. Our mind is built to work in a relational manner like this.

Sometimes we have a task, which is intrinsically low value, but very urgent. Such as, paying bills on time. These are the kind of things that should be scheduled. Or, if you prefer, they recieve increased value as the deadline draws near, on account of their urgency.

This is the way I work. Yes everything needs to be done, but it doesn't all have to be done today. And, as per my last post, many of my tasks do not require a high level of attention to detail, making them lesser beasts than they might seem at first. So in my mind, all of my tasks automatically assume positions relative to the others, in terms of value and need for attention to detail. Urgency is factored into the value dimension.

Because deadlines are the last thing on my mind I stop every couple of days and review my deadlines and up the value of certain tasks accordingly.

Sometimes kicking back and relaxing is the most valuble thing I can do, given my mental/emotional condition.

Relative Quality

And now... for something different, from the usual Biblical stuff.

I have a friend, who spends inordinate amounts of time getting stuff just right. Very picky, he is. Now me, I come from the other side of things. I look for the easy way.

Most of what we do is for others- work, church, school, etc. Of course part of these efforts are for us, but these are mainly outward- to please the boss, to minister to people, to make the professor happy so we can get a good grade. Most of us try to do a fairly good job at what we do, whether it is writing a paper or paying our bills on time.

There are two ways to fail- to do an incomplete job, or to be inefficient. Between these two lies the type of job we want to do- efficient and effective balanced with thoroughness.

So how do we tell exactly how much effort to put into a job? The first thing to realize is that not every job we have to do is of the same importance, and that the less important something is, the less perfection is required. Everything requires normal responsible diligence, but few things require complete perfection.

This concept I call "relative quality." Whereas some burn their time away insisting on absolute quality in everything, I say that the quality level is determined by the nature of the task.

There is another reason why striving for absolute quality in everything is pointless-

A man's perception of something is only partially dependant on how that thing really is.

If this were not the truth, there would be no deception, and no error. Everyone would know the absolute factual truth and we would live in a perfect world because of it. This is why perfection is impossible, because we naturally allow irrelevant factors to influence our perception of reality.

It is like the stock market. A stock's price is only PARTLY related to how well the company is doing. This is why a company that is doing well can have its stock lose value. I suppose the best investments are made, not only in sound companies, but in sound companies that aren't going to displease Wall Street anytime soon or become victims of market panic related to that particular industry.

Because perception and reality are different, you can do a job that you perceive as absolutely perfect and someone will find a fault with it. If it seems like I am advocating a "good enough" attitude that's because I am. There may be a few select people you must please but even there quality improvement is only part of the task, you must mainly manage perception.

Will you still argue with me? You know as well as I do that you can't please all of the people all of the time, and only some of the people can you please, and then only some of the time.

Disabled comments due to comment spam

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Women and Leadership

The Bible seems to be clear, to me, that women can't be pastors. Also, the Bible says that women should keep silent in the church. I am not going to exposit the Scriptures but rather make a few observations on how it is possible that a more literal view of Scriptures on this topic makes sense.
(I ought to point out that whatever facts we present in support of the Scriptures do not constitute a basis of authority for the Scriptures. What has been truly spoken by God stands on its own, and not on our reasons. The Scriptures are authoritative because of who their Author is, not because we can or can't prove it.)
The common logical reason given, as to why women may not be pastors, is that they are too emotional to make sound decisions in a crisis moment. To the extent that this is true, it is a very good reason.
I say "to the extent" because many women in secular leadership can keep emotions out of the picture. If not I would personally think that there wouldn't be as many women in both secular and religious leadership today as there are. In any case I have seen these women and that leads me to the second logical reason which is that...
...Many women who are able to keep emotions out of the picture are, for lack of a better word, b----es. In the process of attempting to be efficient and make logical decisions and reach goals without emotional interference they over-compensate for their natural tendency (be it genetics or culture) and become jerks who often deal harshly, not only with others but themselves. This I have observed in the workplace.
The big challenge for female leadership is to not let emotion get in the way, while retaining enough of a heart to be understanding and caring about other colleagues who might seem to be in the way.
There is a third logical reason which I have observed among the defacto female leadership in IFB churches. (Oh, the stories I could tell!) While holding to a strict literal interpretation of Scripture, women in IFB churches often end up in leadership roles, especially in music or ladies' ministries. The influence of these women are typically constrained to other women by general direction of the pastoral staff. These women are totally "feminine" by nature of their religious conviction. However, they get "catty" with each other. That's about the best word for it. When a woman directs her displeasure toward a man, she's a b----. When she directs her displeasure toward another woman, she's catty. The catty women at church are no better than the b----y women at work. It's the same underlying spirit and attitude.
To sum up, woman are emotional. When they try to be efficient and unemotional it turns leadership into a cutthroat business, resulting her becoming b----y and/or catty. I imagine only a few women truly find the balance to become really good leaders.

Yeah men have problems too but that's for another day. :)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Scripture's Silence

All of the following was written by Grantley Morris at http://www.net-burst.net . It is an excellent look at how the Bible doesn't, in fact, give us all the answers, for a reason- to draw us closer to God. His website is chock-full of other really good stuff as well.

1.

"Scripture’s silences are frustrating, but much of our frustration is because we often come to the Bible as if God has died and left a book of instructions. In reality, the Lord is our ever-present teacher and personal tutor. He has thoughtfully handed us a text book - a written summary of his teaching - but he is constantly with us to guide our reading of it and to help us with our questions.

"The Bible is all that God wishes to reveal to humanity as a whole, but there are additional, personal things he wishes to whisper in the ears of individuals. Personal guidance is a glaring example. We sometimes think we need to know when we don’t, but when your need to know is genuine, God will reveal it to you as you seek him. Don’t, however, expect what he tells you to necessarily be identical to what he tells others, any more than you would expect the Lord to tell every Christian to go to Africa as a missionary.

"Life would become oppressive and evangelism severely curtailed if we were to shun everything not specifically approved by Scripture.

"For example, the Bible gives no divine approval for the use of microphones - or even electricity or glass windows - in churches, nor for reading Scripture in any form other than hand-written scrolls, nor for using anything faster than animals or sailing ships for international communication and missionary endeavor.

"Scripture’s silence is not an invitation for us to dispute with each other, nor is it a license for us each to go our own way. It is a divine invitation for us to draw close to the heart of God, hear his intimate whispers, and joyfully honor him in holy submission to his greatness, delighting in his right to rule every aspect of our lives."

2.

"If, however, the Bible is God’s perfect Word, it is perfect not only in what is says, but in what it does not say. God’s choice of what not to set out in black and white is as much a manifestation of his love and wisdom as any part of his Holy Word.

"A most beautiful consequence of God not specifically saying "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not" is that it drives us to seek not ink and paper but the very heart of God himself. We desperately need the written Word to keep us from deception and to set our general course, but God has ordained that for us to make necessary fine course adjustments requires the height of intimacy with our Lord. Above everything, the Lord longs for our fellowship and, whilst he does not want us to be anxious, if these uncertainties cause us to seek him more, he’s delighted!

"In our frustration, we are tempted to want a human to do what God has chosen not to do - reveal the heart of God without us passionately seeking the Lord. I dare not go beyond the Bible in giving moral pronouncements because that is dangerously encroaching on the sole right of God. It would be like a child I don’t know e-mailing me about what is the proper time for her go to bed each night. I might have strong views, but for me to nominate a time would be to violate her parents’ rights and risk their anger by either implying they are too strict or too lenient.

"Beside the insult it is to God for anyone to go beyond God’s Word in making moral pronouncements for others, the obvious problem is who could we trust to make correct judgments? Any fool can make moral pronouncements, but the truth is that we have one Judge and one Law Maker and it is to him that you should look. And if someone were capable of being God’s personal spokesperson to you, he or she would be robbing you of a divinely-initiated motivation to get so close to God that you hear his gentlest whisper and to involve him in the most intimate part of your life."

3.

"...even under the Law, the only way to truly know right from wrong was through fellowship with God. Devout Jews, however, typically poured enormous effort into knowing the Book of God, but little into knowing the God of the Book. They ended up knowing Scripture so well and understanding it so little that they could ‘prove’ emphatically that the Son of God was guilty of blasphemy and that it was their holy duty to murder their Messiah.

"How vital it is to pray with the psalmist that God reveal to us his understanding of his Word (Psalm 119:18)! The frightening thing is that most of us imagine we could never make the same mistake as the clean-living, Bible-revering, Christ-killing First Century theologians. Tragically, those devout people were equally certain they would never make the same mistake of their forefathers who murdered the prophets.

"Everyday we walk though a spiritual minefield, foolishly unaware that at any moment just one false step could be disastrous. The entire Christian life must be lived in total dependence upon our Lord. We either cling to Christ, trusting him alone - not our intellect, knowledge and experience - or the consequences are unthinkable."