What does God require this Christmas?

What does God require this Christmas? (Micah 6:8 (The Message))

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
   what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
   be compassionate and loyal in your love,

And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.

Ways to do that this Christmas season.

  • Visit Operation Buckeye to send gifts to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Check out Heifer International to send a gift that keeps on giving to a poor family.
  • To provide clean water, donate to Thirst Relief.
  • Donate to local food pantries which are being hit hard by local job losses.
  • Help children who are forced to be soldiers at InvisibleChildren.
  • Computer recyclers don't always recycle computers properly.  Learn more from this 60 Minutes report.  My consultant and I try to recycle by rebuilding and giving away the the poor in our community. 
  • Help people in Africa suffering with AIDS at Hearthecry.
  • Help people in debt in Asia, Africa, and Latin America at Jubileeusa
  • Help stop child exploitation and sex slavery. Visit Love 146 and find out more.

These are only a few ways you can help.  But you can make a difference 1 person at a time.  And you can do what is fair, just, and compassionate for your neighbor.

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Best Christmas Music 2008

I have been searching for the best and here it is.  Buy the entire CD.  Wonderful arrangements--something I can listen to over and over again!   Sarah Groves--O Holy Night

Or if you just want to download the mp3's, here's the link ( you can also preview the songs here:

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December Depression

I don't know how many others feel as I do.  So depressed that the least disappointment knocks us back a couple of notches.  So, what helps?   A  little humor.  So here goes. . .

Billy Collins reads "Litany"

Billy Collins reads "Lanyard"

And it seems like I have no joy at Christmas but would rather skip right to Easter.  Here's a short article that encourages me to aim for that Christmas joy.  Here's a quote: 

We need to hear the crescendo in heaven. We need to hear the jubilant shouts of some angels, while others remained silent, with awestruck mouths hanging open. Billions of prayers being answered. The Master of the Universe stooping to visit His creation through Yeshua, who would be called Emmanuel (God with us).

Here's what Advent to Christmas should be.  Click on the graphic and check out the Advent Conspiracy:  image

And here's one of the best 12 Days of Christmas.

And I mustn't forget the 8 Polish Foods of Christmas which you can download from Amazon here.

If you have anything that makes you laugh or more about Christmas. . . contact me!

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The Foolishness of Christmas

Foolishness seems to be surfacing a lot for me.  First, Sunday, in this message.  Then today, in this email.  And in my audio "readings" of Isaiah from:

I have just reached Chapter 10 and I heard how evil it is to trample over the individual farmers and set up megafarms and how foolish it is to listen to the culture and to buy into its rumors and conspiracy theories. . . this shortly after receiving emails about various store chains on the brink of bankruptcy (only 2 were and 1 of those was in a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy.)  So listen to the message, read the email and think about something other than consumption this Christmas.

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What are cookies?  Cookies are tiny text files that web pages leave on your computer.  They send information to a website.  They may identify your computer to a website you visit frequently.  For example, The New York Times always knows who I am and doesn't make me login every time because it keeps a cookie on my computer.  When I visit their website, they see the cookie and log me in automatically.  There are also 3rd party cookies.  If you visit a website with ads, like the New York Times, those advertisers will leave a cookie on your computer to note your visit.  Then if you visit another website the advertiser also uses, it will note the visit to that website, also.  It then sells that information.  It may also place a specific ad on that website that it believes would appeal to you. 

In the interest of complete disclosure, my website does this.  I have ads on the website for products and companies I believe in.  I put these ads in for your convenience and also to pay for my website.  Every time you purchase something after clicking on one of the ads, I receive some money (Note: it is a very small amount, often as little as 1%, and does not in any way influence my decision about what to recommend).  It never increases your price, and it sometimes will decrease your price. 

Different people have different feelings about this.  Some people don't use the little discount card at the grocery store because they don't want anyone keeping track of their purchasing habits.  I, personally, don't care.  I even appreciate not having to sift through things I would never purchase just to find the few that I would.  If you are like me, ignore cookies.  If you are paranoid, you can block 3rd party cookies. 

How much space are they using?  Very little.  Even if you have thousands of cookies they are so tiny that they use very little space.  Most people have hundreds of cookies or fewer.

So are cookies bad?  In my opinion, only if you are paranoid.  And even the most paranoid often disregard cookies.  So, block them or leave them alone at your discretion.

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New and Improved Website

Take a look at my website.  I've just had it redesigned.  When I had trouble finding things on my own website, I knew I had to turn it over to a professional.  After evaluating a couple local companies, I chose Robintek.  They did exactly what I asked them to do and did not try to talk me into anything I did not want.  I just wanted simple, only a few items per page, no flash.

Please check it out, let me know what you think and give me some more material for the Testimonials.

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Drive-By Rogue Anti-Malware

For those of you who have seen Antivirus 2009 on your computers, please contact me.  If you have seen any warnings that you have this program and need to purchase it, you are infected by this insidious program that masquerades as a helpful tool.  This has been around for years under different names, but is resurfacing and particularly aimed at Windows XP users running Internet Explorer.  It installs on your computer and in Internet Explorer after you see a warning about a virus or spyware infection that you have never seen before and appears legitimate.  You click on the warning and the software installs itself onto your computer.  It is not easily removed.  So contact, me if you see Antivirus 2009 anywhere on your computer.

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The Best Tablet PC--SOLD

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New Website

Some of you may have noticed my new website.  If you peruse it, you may notice that it is not quite complete. . . .but give me some time and it will be!  Also I'd like to know what questions you may have about computers.

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For Sale

I usually turn over my hardware every couple of years (sometimes sooner), which could be a benefit for you--I'm offering everything to you at a discount before I list it on Ebay. As many of you know I try to always buy the best and most functional. So you get only well-tested high quality. And, of course, I just have one of each, so when they are gone, they are gone. I prefer to sell them locally so no shipping is involved.

If you want Sprint wireless broadband for any laptop with a PC card slot, I am selling my Sprint Sierra Wireless Aircard 595 which fits in a tablet PC or laptop PC card slot (also called PCMCIA). You can go to Sprint's website to find out where it has broadband coverage. Sprint has the best and speediest coverage of any carrier and you get better speed than dial-up and close to true broadband speeds. If you take it with you traveling, it enables you to find what you need on the road--lodging, phone numbers, whatever the internet can provide. Here's a review of the card. If you already have Sprint wireless broadband and want the best PC card manufactured for it, this is it. Only $45 and it's yours. You will probably have to go to a Sprint store to change the activation.

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Gift Certificates

What do all of us want for a gift?  Something easy to obtain andGift Certificates useful?  A few people have asked me about gift certificates in the past and I now have them available for everyone.  For a limited time, purchase 5 hours of computer services and I'll throw in a free hour!  You can use these certificates yourself or give them to a friend or relative.  And not only can you save by purchasing them now, but if prices should rise in the future, you will have saved yourself by paying the lower price now. 

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Common Problems


Ever click on a program and it never starts or you can't get it to end?  Of course, it happens to all of us from time to time.  Here's how to get it started or stopped.  Hold down the CTRL and ALT keys and hit Delete.  This will open Task Manager, (or, in Vista, you will have to click on Task Manager to open it). Then, Click on the tab for Processes.  Look for the name of your program.  If Outlook, look for multiple running Outlook's.   Find the one using the most memory.  Click on it, click on End Process, Click End Process again and Outlook should work.  If only one instance of the program is running, follow the same procedure, ignoring all warnings, then you should be able to restart the program.  If all else fails reboot your computer!

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This is very important
For Windows XP and Vista users
Microsoft has issued a critical update. You can find it here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-067.mspx You should download and install it, then reboot your computer.

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Common Computer Threats

Drive-by and dangerous downloads--these install safe-appearing, but malicious software.  They may also run spyware or viruses or may even take control of your computer.

Keylogging records every time you press a key, such as when you enter a password for a banking website or even the Ebay website, and then allows another person access to this information.

Phishing happens when an email or pop-up tries to trick you into giving confidential information (password, bank, or credit card information) by directing you to a website that looks like your bank's or some other recognizable website.

Spyware collects personal information from your computer for people who will use it without your knowledge.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Keep your computer up to date.  Install updates for Windows and updates for your other programs as they become available.
  2. Install a well-recommended internet security program.  I recommend Norton 360;
  3. Use a good web browser.  I like Firefox 3, because it warns you if a site is fraudulent. 
  4. Think, think, then think again.  A well-known and hated dictator was not wrong when he said: "The bigger the lie, the more the people will believe it."  An example of this is many of the forwarded emails we all get telling us that X will pay money for forwarded emails or that Y will destroy your computer.  If any email purports to be from a bank, ask yourself if your bank would ask for this type of information BY EMAIL.  (The answer is NO.) Then do not click on links in the email, but go to the bank's website and check it out.  Or if the email asks you to click on a link change your password for a website you recognize, do not click on the link, it will be a fraud.  
  5. Report.  If it's an Ebay fraud or a Citibank fraud, try sending the email to spoof@ebay.com or spoof@citibank.com.  Or directly contact the fraud department of that institution.  This helps everyone because it costs everyone when someone falls prey to a malicious web user.

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New Consultant--Suzanne Hixon

Suzanne Hixon has been working in the field of technical training and consulting for the last 10 years and teaches on a variety of different topics. Her background is in education although entering a flooded job market made the transition to teach computer classes an easy one. After working in the world of executives and daily training classes for 5 years Suzanne left the industry and began teaching as a private consultant. Now after 6 years as a private consultant she is still happily self-employed and continues to teach a wide spectrum of courses from Microsoft Office to graphics programs.

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Hard Drive and Memory

First some definitions.  The hard drive  is where programs and personal data iimages are stored.  The programs and data are there all the time:  when the computer is on and when it is off.  But if it fails, you may lose it all.  Hard drives do fail.  Some of the symptoms are odd noises, slow start up, and error messages at startup.  However, these symptoms may also be caused by other issues.

Memory is what is needed for the computer to use the information stored on the hard drive. Program files and your data files are placed in memory by your operating system as they are needed for various reasons, and some are removed from memory when no longer needed.  But the memory is completely emptied imagewhen the computer is turned off.  Sometimes so many programs are trying to run that there isn't enough memory left to spare for things YOU want to do.  What might have been enough memory in 2001 or 2005 or even yesterday, may not be enough today as programs (including your operating system) require more and more memory to run. Then your computer is slow and may freeze on occasion while it tries to shuffle things in and out of the existing memory to find enough memory to run the program. Too little memory can cause your computer to be slow to start, slow to run.  Does this sound like your computer?   But, as I've already noted, these symptoms may also be caused by other things.

How much do I recommend?  If you are talking about hard drive space, that depends a lot on you.  Are you storing lots of pictures and videos?  Do you have a lot of games loaded.  Then you need a lot.  How much is a lot?  If you are playing games or producing videos, I would start with 500 GB.  If you are just doing internet browsing, checking email or storing a few vacation photos, 250 GB.  If you are ordering a new computer, this should help you.  Just as a note, my last hard drive on my office computer was 80 GB and it's full.  My current one is 600GB and I'm using 170 GB.

If we are talking about memory, no less (preferably more) than 512 MB for Windows XP; 2 GB for Vista.  You can take Windows XP up to 3 GB if you want and if your computer can handle it, but more than 1 or 2 GB probably is overkill.  For Vista, 3-4 GB or sometimes even more.  What memory does your computer take?  The Crucial Memory Finder is what I use.  Why?  Crucial makes good memory at a reasonable price which works well in most computers (I use it in mine.)  I have had no problems with it except with a couple of "custom" built computers and a couple of HP's. 

I hope this answers your questions about memory and hard drives!  But it is only meant to be a general guide.  If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone 329-6671.

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Remote Support

Remote support is here!

While some of you have been supported remotely for awhile, we are now opening it up to everyone. The fastest connection to your computer will happen if we install a small program on your computer when we are actually working on it.  This will enable us to correct your problems whether or not you are able to be present with the computer.  If we have not installed this, then our remote support program of preference is a temporarily installed program that we will instruct you to run when you call.  You will be required to give us a user ID and password provided by the program before we can access your computer.  And you will be required to remain with the computer.  You may notice your screen blinking on and off--this is normal and will happen when we enable a faster connection.

What will this cost?

  We will charge our regular rates, however you will pay only in 15-minute increments from the start of the call.  This will save you money if it is just a quick fix.  It will also enable us to work on your computer (if the full program is installed) while you are at work or busy with something else.  When you pay us, it will be done through a secure Paypal site or you can make other arrangements, if you like. 

How did I choose the remote support solutions we use?

I used several criteria to choose.  First, it must work with Windows versions from 98 to Vista.  Second, it must work with various security systems and firewalls.  Third, it must allow us to do the work we need to do on your computer.  Finally, and most importantly, it must be secure.  There were various remote access solutions that met these criteria, but the two I am using had high marks in all categories.

What cannot be done remotely.

  Obviously, we cannot work on your computer remotely if you have no internet connection or if you just have a dial-up connection.  We cannot remotely plug anything into your computer; nor can we remove or replace any hardware.  We can schedule various tests to run, but you may have to tell us the outcome of the tests.  But that's about it.  Anything else we normally do, we can do remotely.  So, give it a try and call us at 614-329-6671. 

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Google Chrome--latest entry in the browser wars

I have been using Google latest browser "Chrome" as well as Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8.  Chrome and 8 are both in beta--almost ready for release and use by everyone.  What's different in IE8--not much.  What's different about Chrome--everything.  For 1 thing, it's fast.  Very fast rendering web pages even on a slower connection.  And did I mention, it's fast!  Wow!  I'd be using it just because it's fast.  Okay, enough with fast.  It's sleek, it imported all my Firefox bookmarks and Passwords very well.  When I tried it on a different computer where IE7 was the browser, it was importing all of those settings, also.  What I don't like about it:  it's so new, there are no add-ons.  So, no ad blocking.  But, did I mention, it's fast!  I thought Firefox 3 was fast when compared to Internet Explorer but Chrome is so very obviously fast that it leaves both of them standing in the starting gate.  I have had no problems with any web pages, from stock pages, to the NY times, to my own page, to various others.  There may be more later as I use it more. 

And as I've used it more, it's still fast.  Just one little glitch for me that no one else has noted.  I can't close it.  If I click the red X, nothing happens.  I can maximize and minimize and that's all.  But, it's probably just my system.  I can close it by right-clicking  in the upper L corner and choosing close or doing the same thing in the task bar, but it's just a tiny bit annoying!  OH, but it is so fast!

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Labor Day musing (or Vacation musing)

Here's a quote I recently read. 

Something about being here in the wilderness settles my soul.  I can see why people yearn to retire somewhere remote, just live their lives in peace without their own expectations or someone else's weighing them down. . .

If I could rationalize it as a way Jesus would have lived, I'd do it.  He may have gone off to refresh Himself, but He always came back around.  At least in His man-skin He did.  I sure wish He'd come back around right now.

I read this book over the weekend.  The paragraphs above do not define it.  It has very little to do with the wilderness!  It's a novel about a woman with a wonderful husband and son, and wonderful friends, living in a great house on a lake in an urban (possibly suburban) community.  She realizes that her life is just not right but can't put her finger on what is wrong and what to do about it.  This book is the story of how different people and events change her.  Well, not really that.  This book is how she changes as she tries to right a childhood wrong.  Well, that's not quite right either.  It's a progression from how she realizes in bit and pieces that something is wrong, then finds ways to change what is wrong.  It's difficult to describe this book because her life is not linear, things are happening in every direction and if the author had not been forced to place word after word, this would be a mess!  Just like her life.  There are so many very visual descriptions, that this would make a good movie.  So read Quaker Summer.  It is worth reading even if you aren't married, have no children or friends or feel completely comfortable with your life.

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Daniel's 70 weeks nicely explained

I found this discussion online and thought it well reasoned.  I generally stay away from numbers of any sort and eschatology of any sort, but it came up recently so here is something I can follow. . . .somewhat! The following is a question and answer from the web so the "I" does not refer to me.

“What is the most logical method of interpreting the final 3 1/2 days of Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks.  I see the messianic fulfillment and how the one who confirms a covenant is Christ, not an anti-Christ figure, but still have difficulty with the last 3 1/2 `days.’ While the previous 69.5 weeks can reasonably interpreted as years, it seems like most interpretations end up extending the time period indefinitely or imposing a gap between the first and second halves of the `week.’”

This is a question that troubled me for some time as I was working my way from premillennialism toward amillennialism.  When I read Meredith Kline’s essay (“The Covenant of the Seventy Weeks”--  Click here: Covenant_70th_Week) all of a sudden the answer hit me--and it had been right in front of me the whole time.  In the ninth chapter of Daniel's prophecy, not only was Daniel talking about the Messiah and not an Antichrist (based upon the glorious things that are to be accomplished by the Messiah before end of the 70 weeks–see Daniel 9:24), but in the Book of Revelation, John actually tells us what happens during the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week!  It is a time of tribulation for the people of God.
In Revelation 12:14, John speaks of a “time, and times, and half a time.”  The same time reference also appears in Revelation 11:1-2 and 13:5-6 (forty-two months).  Obviously, this is figurative language depicting the fulfillment of that eschatological time of tribulation predicted by Daniel and left open-ended in Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks.  Kline argues that this is the period of time of the church in the wilderness (“The Covenant of the Seventy Weeks,” 469).  Likewise, Beale holds that these references are based upon the eschatological period of tribulation foretold by Daniel not only in Daniel 9:27, but throughout his entire prophecy (Beale, The Book of Revelation, 565). 

In Revelation 11, the forty-two months are connected to Elijah’s ministry of judgment, and to Israel’s time in the wilderness (which included forty-two campsites), and which may have entailed forty-two years in the wilderness-- if Israel came under God’s judgment after spending an initial two years in the wilderness before coming under curse.

Therefore,  Daniel is predicting a time of tribulation for the people of God after the Messiah comes, but before the last Jubilee (since the seventy-sevens of Daniel’s prophecy are ten Jubilee eras–see Kline’s essay, where he argue for this point).  As we see in Revelation 12:5-6, John tells us that this three and a half “years” of tribulation are inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and will be consummated at his second coming (Beale, Revelation, 567).  When we notice that Christ’s own public ministry lasted three and one-half years, the image should be pretty clear--it applies to the entire church age.  

While dispensationalists have a fit with this "non-literal" interpretation, it is John himself who tells us that the final 3 ½ years of Daniel’s prophecy anticipates the entire period of time between Christ’s first advent (his death and resurrection) and his second advent (in which the final trumpet announces that the earth is redeemed and all of God’s people are forever freed from the guilt and power of sin).
The way we interpret this 3 1/2 weeks is a great example of the hermeneutical difference between Reformed amillennialism and dispensationalism.  As Reformed amillennarians see it, the New Testament (especially in a vision given by John in which he proclaims to the church the contents of the scroll which Daniel was told to seal  until the time of the end), ultimately interprets for us what Daniel was prophesying.  In other words, the New Testament interprets the Old Testament.  The bottom line is that in Revelation 11-13, John tells us what those remaining three and a half years of Daniel's prophecy really mean.  Thus, we are not left in the dark about what this means, and we have in Daniel 9:24-27 a glorious messianic prophecy centering upon the active and passive obedience of Christ (v. 24).

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Gathering and Preparing

When you are anticipating something, how do you gather or prepare?  For vacations, I find myself gathering the hiking stuff, gathering the reading materials, and gathering the food.  All in discrete piles where I frequently stumble over them!  It increases the anticipation, the excitement builds for the time when I will actually use these things. 

How do we prepare and gather for other events?  With little piles or some other way.  How do we prepare for the biggest event, that plunge into life everlasting?  Am I preparing in the same way?  What piles do I stumble over?  What increases my excitement and anticipation?  I don't have answers for these questions, but I do have some thoughts.  Two are below.  More may follow.

Jesus has been the only person to take that plunge and return.  How did he prepare?  What would I call those piles in my life? 

  • We know he spent time with the Father.  So my time with the Father pile is scattered throughout my day.  Sometimes I trip over it in the morning, but more often it's after I'm truly awake.  My friend, Anne, has recommended a book which will help me build those piles in a discrete place.  I will start reading it in a couple of weeks.  This is the book: 


  • We know he spent time with his friends.  I was reading this morning how he left the crowds and went up on a hillside with his friends.  This is the hard thing for me.  Life is so full, it's difficult to fit in with the also full lives of friends.  For some it's a one-a-month meal, or a once in awhile meal.  And we have friends that stay with us when we vacation so we can have a longer time with them.  But making the time is hard for me because I like solitude but too much of that tends to lead to inertia.  So, if you're my friend and I'm not scheduling you in, please let me know.  The best "friends" book I ever read was A Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends this is my model for friendship: 

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                  Website Redesign

                  Keep looking for an easier to use website redesign.  My website started out simple, but soon became cluttered with all the useful things we need for our computers.  The new design will be uncluttered.  I realized the clutter problem long ago, but am just finding the right professional webdesigner to execute the simple design.  I'll let you know when the change is coming, but for now, it's in the works.  And the webdesigner I actually use will be the one I recommend to the rest of you.  Here are some of my favorite simple web designs. 




                  I like these 2 very much:



                  Those of you who have an eye for design, take a look and let me know what you think.   And if you want to see some beautiful web designs, click here:  http://bestwebgallery.com/

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                  August Newsletter

                  Which Security System is Right For You?
                  There are many security systems and I have seen many of their successes and failures.  Recently I have seen both Computer Associates Internet Security and Trend Micro Pc-Cillin miss obvious viruses and spyware.  That is why I do NOT recommend these and others.  The best that I have found are Norton 360 and Zone Alarm Security Suite.

                  Why am I Recommending Two?
                  No, never two at once, just one or the other.  No security product is perfect.  Norton comes the closest with its wonderful virus and spyware detection and removal, it's easy on the system and easy on the user and it will backup your data online or to an external source.  Zone Alarm comes in second for requiring more user input and no backup.

                  Backup, Backup, Backup
                  How would it hurt you if you lost personal pictures, addresses, documents that you have on your computer?  Most of us would lose things that were very important to us.  Hard drives fail all the time.  You need a backup copy of your data.  For ease of use, use Norton 360 and a backup hard drive or their online backup.  For a more robust backup, use Acronis.

                  That's all for now.  Be sure to let me know if you would like any topics discussed or terms explained.  Sometimes, there is just too much geek speak!

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                  Persians and Greeks

                  I've just finished the book:

                  It ends, of course, with the Greeks stopping the Westward advance of the Persian Empire.  But what really struck me was that for the people living in Greece, it didn't seem to matter much whether they paid taxes to Sparta, Athens, or the Persians.  The Persians even charged lower taxes than the Greeks.  So, for the common person, it may not matter much what government you have--the Iraqi's may prefer a king or dictator, we may prefer a representative democracy, but what we really all prefer is for our lifestyle not to change and our taxes not to be too high.

                  Another book I have been reading challenges some of these same issues:

                  Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals

                  ISBN: 0310278422
                  ISBN-13: 9780310278429

                  If a Christian, where is our allegiance and how does that work in our society, how does our culture influence us and where do our loyalties lie.  What does Jesus have to say about kingdom, war, community, money, possessions, holidays, etc. 

                  It also struck me how the U.S. looks like any other empire.  We have holdings (military bases) all over the known world. We seek to impose democracy on every other civilization we encounter.  We respond to violence (eg. 9/11) with greater violence to bring the perpetrators (and perhaps their whole civilization) under our control.  Note:  More than 100 times as many civilians have been killed in our war against Iraq than were killed on 9/11, no matter whose report you believe.

                  You might not agree with everything in this book, nor should you agree with everything his sources believe, but it's still a good book to get you thinking about the kind of kingdom we live in.

                  And all of this fits in well with the study I'm doing: 

                  Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy

                  ISBN: 1415825882
                  ISBN-13: 9781415825884

                  Note: videos from the study can be viewed here:  Daniel video

                  Daniel, too, had to fit into a civilization that violated his allegiance to God.  Check out the videos and if you like it, find a group or just get the workbook and do it on your own.

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                  Opera 9.5 Mobile (beta) for Windows Mobile

                  I have just tried this and it works far better than the Opera Mini version I was running.  Faster and cleaner.  So for phones not running Windows Mobile 5 or 6, stick with Opera Mini.  Otherwise Opera Mobile is the best.

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                  Cellphones and Internet
                  What can you do with a cellphone?
                  If you are using a "smart phone" (this is a phone that offers some computer-like applications), you may be able to use it to connect to the Internet using your laptop. So in a place without wifi, you can connect your phone using Bluetooth or with a USB cable to your laptop and surf the Internet if you have a data plan with you cell phone carrier and if you phone and laptop support the technologies. On your phone you would look for Internet Connection Sharing. If using Bluetooth, you would look for the Bluetooth PAN. This works best if the laptop is running Vista and, of course, you phone would need to be able to make and Edge or GPRS connection. Is this all Greek to you? Just do a web search for the terms along with your operating system on your laptop and your brand and model of cell phone. You should be able to find useful advice.

                  More Cell phone uses
                  Email and Weather
                  If you have webmail, the best way to check it on a cell phone (if it's compatible) is to use Opera Mini or Opera Mobile. Opera Mini is for cell phones with a data plan and Opera Mobile is for Smart Phones running Windows Mobile. (Although I'm running Opera Mini on my ATT Tilt Smartphone). It is a Java application, which means your phone must support Java. The best weather site if you want to see the radar is Accuweather.com mobile. And if you can do that you can certainly check your webmail, also. Gmail works very well. Opera Mini has a zoom function which shows you the entire page and then lets you zoom so you can actually read it. Give these a try.

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                  Introducing Jeff Lutz, Computer Consultant

                  jeff Jeff is joining me in helping to service your computer needs.  How did I find Jeff?  I interviewed 1 person I thought I knew and was ready to sign him when he stopped answering my emails and phone calls.  Someone contacted me, and I was getting ready to sign her, when she rejected my business model.  I was referred to someone else, but he decided that he was too busy.  However, he referred me to Jeff.  Jeff worked for Lucent Technologies for some years.  He enjoys working with computers and solving problems, and has done computer-related volunteer work.  He is married and has 2 grandchildren.  Be sure to ask him about the reason for his season ticket to Cedar Point! 

                  Is Jeff my partner or my employee?  No.  He is an independent consultant like me who I have under contract.  He will make the decision, just as I do, as to whether he can handle your problem and how he will do it.  If you want Jeff, rather than me, just ask.  If you want me, rather than Jeff, just say so.  What does this mean for you? 

                  • Quicker response time.  Need help now?  Well you might actually be able to receive help now, rather than on another day. 
                  • Better service.  When I don't know the answer, perhaps Jeff will.  And you know the adage, Two Heads are Better Than One.
                  • Fresher service.  With someone else to take calls, I don't have to squeeze so much into a day.  I can rest once in awhile and do other things I enjoy (Yes, I do have a life outside of technology!)  This should give you the benefit of not having someone check out your computer in an exhausted mental state.

                  So better service for you, some rest for me, and another person who is also a technology "geek" to take care of your technology problems.

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                  Easy, Fun History

                  This series of history DVD's is useful if you are not a history lover.  However, even if you love history as I do you will enjoy them.  Featuring a guide with a sense of humor, and approximately 30-minute segments, anyone would enjoy this!  This was originally broadcast on History Channel but now is available from the producer. . . (Our public library has it, too.)  I have watched just 2 segments. . . I might order the series to watch them all!

                  Drive Thru History - Rome if you want to...
                  Price: $19.95

                  • Episode 1:  Lost in Rome, the Forum & Palatine Hill, the Emperors during the time of Christ, the Arch of Titus and the destruction of Jerusalem
                    Approximate Running Time: 34 Minutes
                  • Episode 2:  The Circus Maximus, chariot racing, the great fire of Rome, Nero's persecution of Christians and the Roman Pantheon.
                    Approximate Running Time: 31 Minutes
                  • Episode 3:  Hannibal invades Rome, the Colosseum, the Gladiators and the early Christian influence.
                    Approximate Running Time: 30 Minutes

                  Drive Thru History - Greece and the Word
                  Price: $19.95

                  • Episode 1:  The Greeks, the Oracle at Delphi, the Olympics, Paul and Alexander the Great.
                    Approximate Running Time: 35 Minutes
                  • Episode 2:  Lost in Athens, Acropolis & Parthenon, the Philosophers, the life of Paul, Mars Hill, missionary journeys.
                    Approximate Running Time: 37 Minutes
                  • Episode 3:  Paul in Corinth, Corinthian decadence, Corinth Canal and New Testament evidence.
                    Approximate Running Time: 32 Minutes

                  Drive Thru History - Turkish Delight
                  Price: $19.95

                  • Episode 1: Churches of Revelation, Dave's sweet ride, Ancient Sardis & Smyrna, Darius' Royal Road, Martyrdom of Polycarp.
                    Approximate Running Time: 34 Minutes
                  • Episode 2:  Hot Springs of Hieropolis, Camel bite, Christians in Laodicea, Ancient Colossae, Paul's Letter to Philemon and the Colossians.
                    Approximate Running Time: 31 Minutes
                  • Episode 3:  Ancient Ephesus and the Apostle Paul, Letter to the Ephesiands, Roman Ruins, Library of Celsus, Artemis Temple, Ephesus riot of Acts 19.
                    Approximate Running Time: 30 Minutes

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                  What occupies me during July

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                  The Persians

                  OK, I've progressed from the Babylonians to the Persians, and from Cyrus tthrough the lesser kings to Darius.  I'm working my way toward Xerxes so I can have some good background on Esther.  This is the book I'm reading:

                  What are the differences so far between the Babylonians and the Persians?  The Persians let all the conquered peoples stay in their own areas, keep their own language, culture, gods.  To some of those they conquered, this strategy made them look weak, so there were always uprisings.  In addition, the Persian language never became the lingua franca of the areas they conquered:  From Turkey to India and Northern Africa to Ethiopia. 

                  Why are the Medes and Persians tied together?  The story goes (there is historical support for this story) that the King of the Medes married his daughters off to the Persian King.  But he had been told my his wise men that a grandson would murder him.  So he had his chief lieutenant steal the child and kill it.  However, the chief lieutenant decided to hide the child, instead, and then inform the Persians where it could be found.  This child was Cyrus.  The lieutenant remained a double agent and when Cyrus became king, he assisted Cyrus in killing Cyrus' grandfather and uniting the Medes and the Persians.  He became Cyrus' lieutenant and the famous Medean cavalry joined the Persian armies and navy, and together the Medes and Persians became a world power.

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                  Derek Webb--The Ringing Bell

                  This is one of my favorite artists. I buy anything he does. Listen for yourself.

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                  Just Read

                  I just finished this book: 

                  It's not my usual kind of read. It's an easy book to read--just the thing before I go to sleep. The subtitle has "opportunity" as a theme, but from my frame of reference it should be "disaster" or
                  "distress."  However, it really doesn't matter what you call it, the book reads the same.  What do we do, how do we act, when we see a lion ahead or end up in a pit with a lion in on a snowy day?  I am still recovering from my burn-out period last year and this was just the book I needed to give me new hope and propel me forward.  I was reminded last weekend of the need just to stay the course--to not be left out of the story.  As Sam said to Frodo, it's the ones who keep going and don't turn back when they encounter difficult times.  Those are the ones who make a difference. 

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                  Daniel's Mesopotamian Background

                  I have started studying the book of Daniel.  That has led me to a review of the history of the region.  I like to know the details in order to understand the big picture.  I like to know the big picture to put it all in context.  And in this case, all I wanted to know was when Daniel arrived in Babylon!



                  We cannot minimize Babylon's importance.  This region is known as the cradle of civilization.  The Tower of Babel was here.  And similar towers have been unearthed by archeologists.  Abraham was a resident of Babylon (Ur) until he was called out by God.  Babylon's earliest greatest ruler was Hamurrabi 1792-1750 BC)who everyone knows from his legal code and alphabet.  Babylon was a great culture whose dialect became the lingua franca.  I'm going to skip a lot of history just to keep things brief!  Around 1300 BC, everything changed and for hundreds of years there was turmoil.  Babylon was no longer on top.  Over time, things changed again and a second dynasty of Babylonians became great.  The second and greatest king in this dynasty was Nebuchadnezzer II also known as Nebuchadnezzer the Great.

                    Two of the historical people mentioned at the beginning of Daniel are Kings Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon and Jehoiakim of Judah.  Nebuchadnezzer was considered the Babylonian King who brought peace to Mesopotamia.  Fighting by both the Chaldeans and the Medes subdued the Assyrians (this was when Ninevah was leveled) and an agreement was made to divide the Assyrian holdings between the Medes and the Babylonians or Chaldeans.  (Note: The Chaldeans were a distinct people group from the southern part of Babylon.)

                  Dynasty XI of Babylon (Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean)

                  Nebuchadnezzer was known for uniting Mesopotamia and for his building projects.  After he had settled things by fighting.  He settled in Babylon and began building projects such as massive gates, walls, boulevards and, of course the famous hanging gardens.  Here are two photos of the Ishtar gate (a reconstruction in Modern Day Iraq) and a detail.


                  To capture the beauty of the city, here is a description of the Ishtar gate. 

                  The famed Ishtar Gate played an important religious role in the life of the city and is fortunately the best preserved.  The surface of the entrance was covered with blue enameled bricks, which served as background for alternating red-and-white dragons (symbolic of Marduk) and bulls (symbolic of Adad).  The gate was approached by means of an impressive processional street, sixty-five feet wide in places and paved with white limestone and red breccia.  Bordering the street were walls that were found still standing as high as forty feet.  They were decorated with lions six feet in length (symbolic of Ishtar) with red or yellow manes on a blue ceramic background.  It was along this street that the king would accompany the statue of Marduk in grand procession each spring during the New Year festival.

                  This is red breccia (I didn't know what it was either.)  Mined in Egypt.


                  The source for the quote came from this book:

                  Jehoiakim of Judah

                  Background:  After the death of Solomon (around 1500 BC?), civil war broke out and Israel became a divided country.  The northern kingdom was Israel, its capitol was Samaria and the southern Kingdom was Judah, its capitol, Jerusalem.  There continued to be fighting, invasions, and the like. The whole region was in turmoil for hundreds of years starting around 1300 BC. 

                  Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 BC.  Descendants of David continued to rule the southern kingdom, Judah.   Judah ended up making an alliance with Egypt.  What this means is that Egypt "owned" Judah and Judah paid tribute for Egypt's protection. 

                  Jehoiakim (Hebrew name Eliakim) was the eldest son of King Josiah of Judah.  After Josiah died, the people named Jehoahaz (Shallum) King, but he was deposed by Pharaoh Necho II after 3 months and appointed in his place was Jehoiakim who reigned 11 years.  When Babylon defeated Egypt in 605 he was required to pay tribute to Babylon.  However, against the counsel of the Prophet Jeremiah (in 2 Kings 24:1), he revolted against Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzer took him and some of the vessels from the Temple back to Babylon.  It may be that Daniel was taken at this time. 

                  Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim's son, was eight years old when he began to reign.  His reign was three months and ten days.  He was succeeded by Mattaniah (one of Josiah's sons) whose name was changed to Zedekiah.  Zedekiah ruled 11 years. This would make it about 594 BC.  During this time Zedekiah conspired with Egypt to revolt against Babylon.

                  Nebuchadnezzer sent troops to besiege Jerusalem in January 587 and it fell in July 586, the following year.  It was an 18-month siege.  He successfully conquered the city, destroyed the Temple and removed some of the nobility to Babylon. 

                  Scholars indicate that Jewish people were deported from Judah to Babylon in 597, 586, and 582.  This does not rule out other deportations which were not recorded.  It was common practice for the conquering country to leave officials in the conquered city to make sure that tribute was paid and revolts were put down.  There would have been communications and supplies transported between Jerusalem and Babylon on some regular basis.  At these times, people could have been deported also.  I believe, however, that since Daniel was deported during or prior to Jehoiakim's 3rd year of ruling, it was probably early, around 597.

                  For more information, I recommend this book. 


                  Other sources include The Bible, any translation.  2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, and of course, Daniel.  I am reading mainly from the New International Version

                  but also from The Message:



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                  Customer Support--the good and the bad

                  There are often 2 sides to every customer support story, maybe even 3!  Some companies will appear in both lists.  Here are some of my experiences:  (NOTE: You should know that I usually try to fix problems myself before turning to customer support.) Do you have any good or bad customer support items that you would like to post?  Click below to leave a comment.

                  Any links to software, companies, anything I post on my website has been evaluated not only for how it works, but also for how easy it is to work with customer service.

                  The good:

                  ATT Uverse and DSL: My email wasn't working after the DSL was installed.  I had to call and tell AT&T to open port 25.  They did so right away.  Second experience:  my DVR and other boxes weren't working.  I called and was very quickly shifted to a high level of support.  The person I spoke with found the error to be with their system in the region, told me that there was, at that time, no time he could give me when it would be fixed, but said he would personally call me when it was.   An hour or 2 later, he called and had me check the DVR and the other box to make sure both were working.  Wonderful support

                  Newegg: Whenever I have had any problem, they have fixed it beyond my satisfaction.  A true customer service based company.

                  Dell:  I have always ended up with a good result from Dell customer support, but see below for the bad.

                  Lowes: Again, their support people have gone beyond what I expected.

                  Microsoft Business Critical Support: I once spent 9 productive hours on the phone with their tech support moving sensitive files for Exchange Server.  their tech support was wonderful.  I could pretty much turn off my brain and just do as I was told with no worries.

                  Crucial:(note: this links to the crucial memory finder.)  Crucial never has a problem with returns.  They are easy to communicate with.

                  The bad:

                  Clintonville Electric: You can read about my experience on my blog archive:  here http://dhrknss.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html

                  Affordable Custom Floors: Neither affordable, nor custom.  Completely messed up our hardwood floors which we had to have redone by another company.  I should have known that they did not know what they were doing when they started considering my suggestions.  Showed no sympathy for our pain; turned us over to a collection agency.  They continue to send us flyers.

                  HP:  This is why I do not recommend HP personal computers.  Their business computers have a very good reputation.  On the personal computer side, however, one client had a bad keyboard on a 2-week old computer.  After about 45 minutes on the phone trying to convince them to replace it, I told the client to just buy a new keyboard.  A keyboard costs HP about $1.  How hard would it be for them just to send a new one.  This was just petty.

                  Gateway:  One client had a bad modem.  This is probably about $1 for gateway.  They sent her a new one in the mail, expected her to remove the old one, install the new one and mail the old one back.  This is too much to expect for a cheap but difficult to install part on a home computer!  Also petty.

                  Another client had a bad DVD drive.  She just got the runaround from Gateway support.  She finally contacted the president of the company and did get a new (refurbished) laptop from Gateway after that.

                  Dell: Like Gateway, Dell has often expected home clients to install everything from motherboards to video cards to hard drives.  This is ridiculous!  I sometimes have to argue with them if the computer is under warranty to send out a tech to do it.  And, if it's not under warranty, I do it.  Note: this never happens with Dell business support which is why I recommend clients, home and business, buy Dell's business line of desktops, the Vostro.

                  Westinghouse:  I bought a Westinghouse HDTV for the bedroom because they come well-rated and are cheaper.  I bought one for us and one for my mom when I saw how well ours worked.  However, when I needed tech support, it was bad.  I needed it after we had used the TV for less than a month.  I had to send the TV to the west coast ($40).  They have now had it since April 16 (over a month and a half) with no communication.  I called last week and they said they were going to ship it out and would call me Wednesday with a tracking number. I said, "Why not email it, you have our email address."  He said "We don't do that."   No call Wed or Thursday.  I call Friday and am told that it is in the final step of the process and might be shipped on Monday, Tues, or Wed,  and they would email me that tracking number.  We'll see.

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                  Narrative is how stories are told.  There is a place, there are characters, there is action.  And sometimes less is more.  For example, I am currently reading 2 Chronicles from The Message.  This is the story of Israel in the time of the Kings, when it was a divided kingdom and frequently subjected to external and internal forces.  More precisely, it is the story of those kings and how what they did affected the country.  There are not a lot of descriptive phrases containing adjectives and adverbs, but it isn't difficult to read between the lines.  Good narrative leads you along in the story and gives you time to think about the characters without describing everything in detail.  It leaves room for the imagination.

                  Anyway, back to 2 Chronicles.  In chapters 22-23, an unusual thing happens (at least unusual in a patriarchal society like that).  The king dies, and instead of being succeeded by a son, his mother, Athaliah, takes the throne and massacres all of the dead king's sons and takes the throne herself.  She rules by terror and supports the evil god Baal.  All would be lost except for one young son of the dead king, who was secreted away by his aunt (aren't aunts wonderful!) and kept hidden along with his nanny for 6 years.  The aunt was also married to one of the priests, Johoida--the priests were the educators of the day.  So, the nanny, the aunt and the priest educated the boy, until he was 7 years old when the priest went to some of the military leaders who spread out over the countryside and gathered other people for a secret meeting in the Temple.  Here the priest presented the young prince and presented his strategy for a coup and a public transfer of power.  His idea was to use 3 battalions to closely guard the Temple, the Palace, and the prince.  And then make the power transfer.  Here's how it happened.

                  Then the priest armed the officers with spears and the large and small shields originally belonging to King David that were stored in The Temple of God.  Well-armed, the guards took up their assigned positions for protecting the king, from one end of The Temple to the other.  Then the priest brought the prince into view, crowned him, handed him the scroll of God's covenant and made him king.  As Johoida and his sons anointed him they shouted, "Long live the king!"  Athaliah, hearing all the commotion, the people running around and praising the king, came to The Temple to see what was going on.  Astonished, she saw the young king standing at the entrance flanked by the captains and heralds, and everybody beside themselves with joy, trumpets blaring, the choir and orchestra leading the praise.  Athaliah ripped her robes in dismay and shouted, "Treason! Treason!"  Jehoida the priest ordered the military officers, "Drag her outside--and kill anyone who tries to follow her."  (The priest had said, "Don't kill her inside the Temple of God.")  So they dragged her out to the palace's horse corral and there they killed her. . . The people  poured into the temple of Baal and tore it down, smashing altar and images to smithereens.  They killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altar. 

                  Jehoida turned the care of God's Temple over to the priests and Levites, the way David had directed originally. . . He also assigned security guards at the gates of God's Temple so that no one who was unprepared could enter.  Then he got everyone together--officers, nobles, governors, and the people themselves--and escorted the king down from The Temple of God, through the Upper Gate, and placed him on the royal throne.  Everybody celebrated the event.  And the city was safe and undisturbed--Athaliah had been killed, no more Athaliah terror.

                  You can read more about King Joash and his reign, here. . .

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                  Current Reading: The Shack

                  I just finished reading The Shack.  It was highly recommended by a friend.  I found it difficult to read the first few chapters because the author was trying so hard to use descriptive adjectives that it felt forced.  It is a type of literature that I normally prefer to read--fiction with something more than a plot.  This novelist created a fiction situation in which we start with a flawed protagonist who has a perfect wife, (Something I could not relate to!), and normal children.  When the family suffers a trauma, the protagonist cannot deal with it.  When a mysterious note appears, he sets out on a journey and everything is resolved in the end. 

                  What I liked:  I liked the conversation with God.  It was thought-provoking and reminded me of times when I've wrestled with God and stories others have told me about their God-encounters in remote places.  I like nature and the author did a good job describing its beauty.  I want to visit that area but I do want to avoid the place where the tragedy happened.


                  What I did not like: 

                  1. The characters were undeveloped.  I could not identify with them because they remained undeveloped.  If you would like to read an author who has dealt with similar situations with better character development--people you can identify with, like or dislike, here are books I would recommend.


                  • There did not seem to be much of a plot.  There was crisis, interlude, resolution.  Just too neat and easy. I prefer books that are heavily plot-driven, especially if there is little character development.  One author I like with excellent plot lines is Ted Dekker.  Here is his most similar series for adults.  Reading this will leave you with mental pictures of God's love and sacrifice.  This is action-fantasy so people who do not like that genre might want to read some of his psychological thrillers. 
                  1. There are other "emergent church" books that are fictional, thought-provoking, challenging, and really make you want to like the characters (or author, in the case of non-fiction.) 

                  For "emergent fiction" with dialogue (like The Shack):  This is a fictional relationship between two men, one in a crisis of faith, both exploring what it means to follow Jesus.

                  For non-fiction on some of the themes found in The Shack: 

                  I am currently reading this.  The author uses examples of persecution he suffered to discuss forgiveness and how we do it well.  I am only on the 2nd chapter.

                  A book I have not read but come recommended by others: 

                  A book I found helpful about 10 years ago?

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                  One of my favorite authors. . . and his new book for the summer

                  Mark Steele's first book, Flashbang, was the funniest book of true stories I'd read in a long time.  Quick, short stories about life which will make you laugh or cry--and you'll be glad some of the situations are happening to someone else.

                  Now, he has a second book out and I'm betting it's as good as the first!  Actually, I know it is because he had a chapter on his blog site that I read this morning and it made me laugh, then cry.  So, I'm buying the book to read later.

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                  Summer Reading for Teenagers-Part 1

                  For teenagers (or adults who don't want to think too much and don't mind fiction where the protagonists are all teenagers.)  This author writes action novels and will keep anyone turning the pages to follow the twists and turns.  He, unlike some other authors, does a good job of portraying both men and women.

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                  Firefox Extensions

                  Yes, I have been using Firefox for years as my primary web browser and as web designers have become more consistent in designing sites that meet web standards, there is very little you cannot do in Firefox.  Get Firefox here.

                  What do I like best?  Firefox works with just about any operating system.  It saves passwords in an easy to view file.  It stops pop-ups.  It warns of phishing sites.  It is not generally affected by hijackers.  But most other features that you would notice are in the extensions.

                  Extensions:  these are little add-ons that make life easier.  Here are some of my favorites.

                  • Google browser sync--lets you sync bookmarks (favorites), cookies, passwords, etc.  between different computers.  And since I regularly use 2, it's important to me.
                  • Adblock Plus--blocks most web ads and lets you easily switch between blocking and not blocking.
                  • PDF download--lets you choose whether to download a PDF file to your computer and save it, or just view it in your browser.  Often I just want to download it and look at it later.

                  If you are using Firefox, you can find extensions by clicking on Tools, Add-Ons, then clicking on Get Extensions on the lower left of the window that opens.

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                  I'm Back. . .

                  Yes, it's been since February that I've blogged.  Life was just too complicated to try to sort it out online.  Now, things may be coming together.  Part of that has been a more or less 9-month search for another computer consultant who can assist me  (and you!).  The search was long because it was important to find the right person and as you may know, my first choice of anything is usually wrong.  I'll introduce Jeff in a later blog.

                  Here's a quote from an acquaintance who's in Tanzania for 5 years:  (Maybe, you'll laugh, too!

                  May 15, 2008 6pm – Visiting Mama Jackie’s house (next door neighbor) Sitting chatting while she cuts greens for boiling. Conversation in Swahili….read on!
                  Mama Jackie: Last night I heard music coming from your house, when you had guests…?
                  Me: Oh yes, every Wednesday night we are doing a group to study the Bible and steal together. We like to worship God by stealing.
                  Mama Jackie: (laugher)
                  Me: (laughter as I realize my mistake) We like to SING to worship God together! SING!
                  Decoder: Swahili verb for ‘to sing’: IMBA. Swahili word for ‘to steal’: IBA. Forgot to pronounce the “m”…you know, just a minor difference in meaning...um, yeah.

                  Read more on her blog:  Grace in Tanzania

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