Saturday, November 05, 2005

Last Post for a while.

To my readers:

I have been convicted of Crystal's blogs recently in which she says that there is more to her life than blogging. I have priorities, and blogging is not necessarily high on the list. So I'm going on a hiatus for a while. No more blogs, no more comments on others' blogs, though the temptation might be strong. I have to focus on my research for now, and this is getting in the way. But I will not dismantle it. I've said many of the things I wanted to say.

In Christ.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Microsoft "Works"

I've always thought of Microsoft Works as a contradiction in terms.

Seriously, for all you out there who are disillusioned with Microsoft, and that may be a fair number, there are lots of alternatives. When it comes to operating systems, I would recommend the latest version of SuSE Linux as a very user-friendly open-source operating system. That means a number of things: it's completely free, has an enormous user support system, is easy to install, and does most of the things you would want. Certainly it does email, browsing, word processing, image processing (indeed, the Gimp, which is the image processor for Linux, is something Windows people can only drool at, or pay a bunch of bucks to get Adobe Photoshop or whatever Adobe program you need for that.)

Linux does some things very much better than Windows. An example: I am historian for the Virginia Tech Tae Kwon Do Club. That means, among other things, that I get lots and lots of pictures that I have to resize and post on the Club's webpage. We're talking hundreds of pictures. I could manually resize them all myself. Or, in Linux, I could use a Bash shell script, already written by one of the previous historians, which just processes all the pictures one by one and does the job in about a minute. And then, I have to upload them to the host machine. I could do that manually in any operating system. Or I could use Cadaver (I don't know what kind of program you'd call this), and upload them all in another minute. This cannot be done in Windows, to my knowledge. It's quite easy in Linux. The moral of the story: any time you want to do some chore on a bunch of files, the Linux Bash shell with the added power of scripting, is much more powerful than Windows.

I will say this for Windows: the only Windows operating system worth getting is XP Professional. You see, for a long time Microsoft has had two lines of operating systems: the home line and the business line. The business line has always been better. NT was better than 95, 2000 was better than 98, and XP is better than ME. One of the boys I live with nicknamed ME as Windows Many Errors. XP is the very best operating system in the world for wireless Internet. In addition, if you want to play movies, you pretty much have to go with either Windows or Macintosh. Linux simply doesn't make this cut because the movie makers have not released the codecs, thus making it impossible for open-source software to get into that niche. So if you want wireless, or you want movies, you'll probably end up with Windows XP, and I'd definitely recommend Professional. Really, if a Windows program doesn't say Professional on it somewhere, it's not worth getting.

Now for the subject of this post. We've dealt with the operating system. Suppose you've installed SuSE Linux on your desktop as a dual-boot with Windows. What about an office suite? Nothing easier: go with OpenOffice, available from the OpenOffice webpage, but more likely than not, already included with your SuSE distribution (make sure you install it when you install SuSE). This office suite is not on a par with Microsoft Works. This is a good thing, as Works is one of the most pitiful "office suites" ever. Microsoft Office Professional, whatever version is most recent, is a decent office suite. OpenOffice, which is free, is completely on a par with Microsoft Office Professional. It even has the equivalent of the Solver routine in Excel. I was impressed with this office suite, and it being free doesn't hurt, either. You get a spreadsheet, word processor, database, presentation software (similar to PowerPoint), and maybe one or two other things like a drawing program for diagrams (similar to Visio). So if you're tired of paying an enormous amount of money for proprietary software, that you'll just have to upgrade later anyway for a similar amount of money, why not go for free stuff?

What about browsers? No problem. You can get Netscape for Linux, and even better, you can get Mozilla Firefox for Linux. The latter, in my opinion, is the very best browser available in any operating system.

What about email? You can get Thunderbird for Linux as well, which is a full-featured email program.

Being something of a musician and composer myself, I would definitely ask about music notation software. Well, there is always Lilypond, a free music notation program. It's got a bit of a learning curve, as anything associated with LaTeX will, but it'll do quite a bit, including complicated polyphony (indeed, polyphony is what it was designed for).

My advice? Get Windows XP Professional with WinDVD and wireless if that's what you need. Then partition your hard drive, and put SuSE Linux on the other partition(s). You won't be sorry.

In Christ.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The War in Iraq

Whatever side of the Iraq war you're on, one thing is absolutely clear: the media doesn't have a clue what is really going on over there. Or, if they do, they are deliberately misleading the American public. Come on, let's face it. Practicaly the only thing we ever hear about Iraq from the media is someone dying. Have you heard much else? O, yes, and the supposed failure of the new republic to have regular elections.

Well, I personally know someone who spent nigh on a year over there. His report? Very different. He would have said something like, "Yeah, there's danger over there. But you should have seen it during the Hussein days. That was really bad. This is peanuts compared to that." But is that the impression you would get from the media? I think not.

There's another thing that puzzles me. I always thought gas prices went up when the Middle East was unstable. But they're going down. Someone needs to tell these gas stations to up their prices! After all, according to the media, the only thing happening over there is death and failed government!

In Christ.

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On Courtship

There are so many aspects to courtship, it seems almost misleading to call this post, "On Courtship," because I propose to deal with precisely one and only one aspect of courtship: keeping unsuitable people away. And here's the big question: should friendships be based on light, fluffy stuff like, "What's your favorite movie?" Or should it be based on more important things like theology and education? I am much more inclined to believe the latter. And so, I have dreamed up a list of questions guaranteed to scare away unsuitable people. And yes, this is partly tongue-in-cheek.

0. Which eschatology are you: pre-mil, a-mil, post-mil, pan-mil, or wind-mill?

1. So, isn't the difference between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism fascinating? What do you think about Hodge's position?

2. Which side of the Clark-Van Til debate are you on?

3. I'm definitely of the opinion that the Federal Vision people are off their rockers. How about you?

4. In the Trivium model, where do you think classical music fits in? I've always thought the Poll-Parrot stage the most likely to be successful, but so few schools seem to be doing that.

5. Have you read All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes, or The Closing of the American Mind, or Amusing Ourselves to Death? Isn't it funny how they all seem to reference one another?

6. In the debate over infant baptism, how effective do you think the argument from silence is in promoting the paedobaptist view?

And now, on to some more personal questions.

7. When a man asks a woman, "Is there something wrong?", and the woman replies, "Nothing," but she really means there's so many things wrong she doesn't know where to begin, how close to lying do you think she is? And how much of an insensitive jerk are you prepared to call the man if he takes her words at face value?

8. How reasonable do you think it is for a woman to expect a man to read her emotions when men are naturally born to be about as sensitive as a Sherman tank? In addition, do you think women should play an active role in helping men to be more sensitive?

9. Do you think the difference between having twelve and thirteen children is so great as to be prohibitive, or do you generally view it as "just one more to the heap?"

And finally, since it is now my strong tendency to believe that people should not even enter courtship unless they are ready to marry, here's the grand finale.

10. Are you ready to get married tomorrow?

Yep, I really think I've got it here. However, a natural disclaimer: use these at your own risk. I will not be held accountable for others using these questions to perform a most needful task.

In Christ.

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