Facebook is Not the Problem

Bashing Facebook seems to be a favorite pastime for many these days. From those bemoaning the visual refreshes or the privacy concerns or the supposed destruction that Facebook is wreaking on our relationships, Facebook negativity is in large supply.

The thing is, Facebook is not the problem. Facebook is a tool, and a wonderful tool at that - having such a communication platform available to everyone is a major feat.

Problems come directly from people.

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Worldly Widsom

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." So let no one boast in men.

1 Corinthians 3:18-21

As a university student, especially at a public university, I am exposed to what we would call the "wisdom of the world" on a daily basis. This comes from instructors in classes, posters all over campus, Christian and non-Christian friends and acquaintances - really from a lot of different places.

Even this past week, I was walking back from class and was approached by some monks who wanted to give me material about their unbiblical ideas of meditation as the path inner peace. I fairly quickly said that I was not interested and went on my way, but from the looks of things, those monks were very successfully catching the interest of many other students that afternoon. For me, this kind of false influence is easy to spot and refute, especially when it is as obvious as that. And even many of the more subtle wrong teaching and worldviews can be found with a little bit of thought and Bible study.

However, what Paul says in this particular passage is, "let no one deceive himself," and for me, this seems to be a bigger danger-area than the external. We can fall into thinking either that we can handle worldly wisdom by our own ideas - this is like fighting fire with fire... it just ends up with more fire. Or we can also think that we have enough of God's wisdom to apply it at our discretion - this is like fighting fire with an undirected water hose... it might sort of work sometimes, but ultimately it does not work as God intended.

Both of these are fundamentally pride, thinking that either what we know is better than God's wisdom or that we know how much of God's wisdom we actually need. We need God's wisdom to apply God's wisdom to our lives - thankfully God promises to give us that wisdom if we ask for it.

When I told my mom about the incident with the monks at school, her response was that she happy that I had the solid biblical foundation with which to counter such worldly wisdom. This is consistent with Proverbs 1:8-10, which says:

Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and forsake not your mother's teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.

This passage assumes that the teaching and instruction of the parents is consistent with biblical teaching and instruction, which I can say is true in my case. For me, it's not only a matter of knowing the truth, but also of applying it to my life as God intends. For me, I need to daily ask for God's help and wisdom in destroying the pride in my life and submitting to God.s all-wise, all-knowing, perfect plan.

One Body

I'm starting a series of posts on by morning daily Bible reading. I will most likely not be posting daily, but hope to make several posts per week. Here's the first:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you" On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to describe the workings of the Church. Just as the human body is composed of many different and varied parts, with different specialized functions, so the body of Christ has many different members with many different purposes, given to them by God. When the parts of the body all function as intended, the body is healthy and able to carry out its intended function. When any of the parts fail to operate, there are repercussions that are not isolated to that one part.

The passage says clearly, "God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." For every Christian, God has gifted him with specific functions in the body of Christ and has equipped him with every spiritual resource needed to fulfill that task.

Like the human body, the parts of the Christian body are to support each other. "... but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." This, as a side note, is a strong argument to get plugged into a Christian community - we are called to serve and support one another, and we need to be involved in each other's lives for this to happen effectively.

Finally, Paul describes some of the God-given callings - apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts, etc.

What does this mean for me? I need to always realize that when I decide to do things in my own strength, against what I know is right, this is not an isolated choice. My life should be being used to bring glory to God, not, intentionally or otherwise, be harmful to others in my life.

Additionally, every member of the body is important, despite how worldly thought might consider their calling. Those cleaning the church building to ensure a clean, safe, worshipful environment on Sunday morning is important, just like those delivering the message from God's word is important. If I see any member struggling, it is my job out of love for the Lord to come alongside that person for the glory of God and the benefit of the body.

Thoughts on Search Engine Optimization

There is a particular crowd that is very interested in optimizing their website for search engines, usually using terms like "white hat" or "black hat" to describe their methodology.

I would propose that both methods are fundamentally incorrect. Obviously so-called "black hat" SEO is bad, but in my opinion, trying to optimize a website for the sole reason of listing highly in the search engines is fundamentally flawed. Here’s my reasoning:

Since,

  • Optimizing a webpage using "black hat" methods are a temporary fix and will eventually result in being banned from search indexes – bad idea.
  • Optimizing a webpage for a particular keyword other than the true content of the page is deceptive and therefore a bad idea.
  • Optimizing for a particular keyword that will produce the biggest return on investment runs the risk for the keyword to not be the exact true content of the page – still bad idea.

Therefore,

  • Your content markup (HTML), writing style, and content organization should have one goal – providing the best experience for the end user.
  • Search engines have the stated goal of providing the best content on a particular topic to the end user.
  • In the long run, therefore, your site will perform well in search engines, not because it was search engine optimized, but because it is one of the best sites on the topic.

Another new source of marketing / visitor power is social media marketing. If you have properly optimized your site to deliver your content well, and that content has been optimized, people will want to let their friends know about your great resource.

Put simply, it’s time to stop SEOing our sites and start creating sites worth sharing.

Install APC on Ubuntu

Installation of APC as of Ubuntu 10.04 is much simpler than in past releases of Ubuntu and only requires two terminal commands:

sudo apt-get install php-apc
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

That’s it! Much simpler, isn’t it?

Usability and Silverware

I have an interest in usability. The downside, of course, with an interest in usability is frustration when using products that are not as usable as possible.

For example, at the UT Dallas dining hall, there are three holders for silverware on a table after you exit the food area and enter the dining area. Each holder is circular and has two levels of three “cups” each that hold silverware… they can rotate as well. So, if that doesn’t make sense, it’s like if you took six cups and attached them together in sets of threes and attached the two sets to a rod that rotated.

Anyway, they have it set up where for each level, there is a cup for each type of silverware – forks, spoons, and knives. The cups have a little sticker on them that is supposed to say what they contain, but is often incorrect. So each holder has a total of two cups of each type of silverware, then there are three holders. The individual levels can rotate, so you never know what type of silverware will be at a certain position.

A text representation would be something like this:

F-S-K    S-K-F    K-F-S
  |        |        |
S-K-F    K-F-S    F-S-K
  |        |        |
 / \      / \      / \
-----    -----    -----

So, each time you go to get silverware, you have to hunt through the holders to find all your required silverware. As you can imagine, if more than two people try to get the silverware at the same time, it usually causes a "silverware-jam."

So, I’ve seriously considered submitting a comment card suggesting that the silverware be allocated one type to one holder and large signs be placed in front of them indicating the type of silverware they hold:

F-F-F    S-S-S    K-K-K
  |        |        |
F-F-F    S-S-S    K-K-K
  |        |        |
 / \      / \      / \
-----    -----    -----
Forks    Spoons   Knives

That would eliminate the "hunting" part of the silverware-gathering experience as you could just grab one item from each holder rather than having to look through each one.

There’s a suggestion box in the dining hall. But... should I really submit a comment card about silverware usability? Interesting… But three times each day, I have the privilege of thinking about the usability (or lack thereof) of UTD’s system.

Hope that makes some sense! I’m really a nerd (or usability geek or something), I guess... Perhaps sometime I’ll write a post about the design of the dining hall walkways – not exactly ideal either.

Yacov

Yacov is Jacob as the Russians say.
Yacov is webmaster so you better pay...
...Attention cus Yacov is comin this way.
Yacov is known for his photoshop,
He'll turn your hair into a crazy mop.
I know Yacov is the man,
Cus I'm team Yacov and his biggest fan
~ Ryan Thomas

I purchased a new MacBook Pro this past week, so to test my image editing skills, I photoshopped an afro onto an image of two of my friends, Blake Shook and Mark Thomas. Ryan Thomas, Mark's brother and another of my good friends, wrote this poem about me (Mark visited the Ukraine lately and thus has taken to calling me Yacov).

Be sure to check out some of Ryan's other (more serious) poems. :)

Resize andLinux Disk

If you've ever wanted your andLinux disk to be bigger than 2GB (the space runs out pretty quickly), here's how to do it. First, download TopoResize. This will allow you to create a new disk file. Unzip and run toporesize.bat. You will be greeted by the following screen:

Choose "create new." A file browser window will open. Navigate to the Drives folder located at the andLinux install location. By default, that location will be:

C:\Program Files\andLinux\Drives\

Give your new disk a name and click save. I chose root.vdi as my new disk name. Next, drag the slider in the main TopoResize window to choose a disk size. The value is in MB, so I tried to get as close to 10GB as possible (10240). You won't be able to get it exactly, but a rough estimate will do. Your screen will look something like this:

Click "Create file," choose ext3 for the drive format, and wait for it to finish. Next, be sure that andLinux is not running. The easy way to do this is to navigate to the andLinux directory (which, again, is C:\Program Files\andLinux\) and double-click srvstop.bat. In the same directory, open settings.txt. It will look like this:

Create a new line under the cobd1=... line and add the following:

cobd2=Drives\[your_new_image_name]

So, for me, that would be:

cobd2=Drives\root.vdi

That will cause andLinux to mount your newly created disk file as a secondary disk. Save the file, then run srvstart.bat to boot up the andLinux service. Run colinux-console-fltk.exe and login once you get to the prompt. Next, we will issue the following terminal commands to copy the entirety of the original disk to the new one. Here they are:

mkdir /mnt/tmp
mount /dev/cobd2 /mnt/tmp
cp -axv / /mnt/tmp
umount /mnt/tmp
sudo reboot now
sudo resize2fs /dev/cobd2

This will copy all of the files and will be verbose and print out all the filenames so that you have an indication of progress and will then unmount and shutdown. Open up the settings.txt file again. This time, remove your newly added cobd2 line and change cobd0 to be your new disk image file. You can run the df command to verify your disk size. Run srvstart.bat. You now have an expanded disk!

Restore GNOME Panel in Ubuntu

It's fairly easy (if you need terminal access, press ALT-F3 and enter gnome-terminal).

You can then copy and paste the following into the terminal (without the numbers):

gconftool-2 --shutdown
gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/panel
rm -rf ~/.gconf/apps/panel
pkill gnome-panel

You should have now reset your GNOME panel configuration (both top and bottom panels).