Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

I’ve been using my Samsung Galaxy S5 on AT&T since Monday, and so far, while I like some things more than the iPhone 4S, there are a few simple changes I wish that I could change.

Likes

I have been a fan of Google more than Microsoft or Apple. I’ve loved GMail since I started using it, I like Picasa (though not perfect, it’s free). They have a big footprint in the open-source world, and so I love the integration that an Android has with Google products. I’m using Google Voice for my voicemail, which provides some really cool features, such as speech-to-text, which lets me get the gist without having to listen to it. It’s not 100% accurate, not even 75% accurate sometimes, but I can usually figure out what it’s about. I use Chrome everywhere, and the ability to set the default applications (for everything, not just web browser) is a plus that Apple doesn’t allow. I’ve been using Google Play Music to manage my collection, and I’m definitely a fan (but I wish they would do better at detecting duplicate uploads).

It seems to have a good camera on it, so that’s a plus. I haven’t had much need for it, but I’m sure it will work really well for my needs. The weather built-in weather widget/app looks great, and is functional.

Dislikes

The biggest problem I have with this phone is lock screen notifications. Samsung did a horrible job at designing the lock screen. They either need to allow the notification tray drop-down while locked, or show notifications from all my apps, not just Samsung. I want to use Hangouts for messages, but they don’t show up on my lock screen like Samsung’s messages application does. Emails don’t show up at all. My other option is to just take off the lock, and use the notification tray to view my messages/emails. I could root the phone, and put Google’s lock screen back on, but sounds like a risk I don’t want to take with a new $800 phone.

 

The battery doesn’t last as long as I’d like, but I’m also pulling it out more often because it’s my new toy. Maybe it won’t be bad when it’s not so new.

Overall

This is a good phone, but the lock screen is lacking majorly. Samsung, remove or improve TouchWiz, and I’ll bump this to 5/5.

Rating: 4/5 (due to lock screen)

Fix (Added 10:32 PM)

After posting, I’ve found a fix. While it’s not pretty or intuitive, it will work for me. Install NiLS Notification Lock Screen, and NiLS Floating Panel.

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A 2014 Revolution

This year, as many start their resolutions to become better people, I have some goals for Christians, including myself. My goal is not to improve the world or to better our persons in a physical sense, though those are good goals, but I want to set my eyes towards Heaven, towards eternity.

My goal is to stop preaching a gospel of morality, for a morality without Christ does no good. Only by the Gospel of Christ can we save people for eternity. Stopping gay marriage, or creating a law against abortion does not provide salvation. May we love others in their sin, so that we might show them true hope, a hope in Christ.

My goal is to learn about Christ on every page of the Bible. The Old Testament was not a series of stories that show us how to overcome, but a story pointed to Christ from the beginning, and a story that ends in victory already achieved in Revelation. Our hope is not in a God who might win for us in our battle for America, but a God who has already won, through the death of Christ.

Our victory is not in legislation for morality, and our victory is not in conquering Islam through American forces. Our hope lies in Christ, and in Christ alone. We don’t conquer by violence, we share in suffering (2 Tim 2:3).

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Nonviolence in a Violent World

The Vietnam War in picture 09I’ve been reading through a few books that talk about Christian living, and I’ve seen some recent articles popping up about Christians and the use of violence (I am using violence to refer to intentional injury or killing). It’s really made me consider some of my past views. My past perspective was for the death penalty (like any good Texan), for self-defense, and for the war on terrorism. I wrote an article on The Death of Bin Laden, which was a start of my train of thought towards violence, but I’ve recently been reconsidering nationalism, and our violent world.

I picked up a copy of Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence by Preston Sprinkle, and it has been a really good read on the topic of Violence. I recommend it to anyone wanting to dig further into the topic. Preston goes through many sections of the Bible and discusses violence in it’s various aspects. He goes through Israel’s history of war and killing. God tells them to drive out and fight against the Canaanites, but we see that when Israel tried to fight the war, they failed, but when they trusted God to fight, they won. When David tried to do a census of fighting men, God punishes David for relying on their national strength instead of God.

The book also covers the life and sayings of Christ. The greatest example is Christ and his life. When being arrested, He told Peter to put his sword up, and went willingly. When being spit upon and beaten before being crucified, He never resisted. Instead of calling down the angels to destroy those doing harm to Him, he was silent, and even prayed for forgiveness to those doing Him harm. In His teachings, he tells us to love our enemies (Matt 5:44). He tells us to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39), and when asked to go one mile, to go two miles (Matt 5:41). He says if someone sues you for your tunic, give them your cloak as well (Matt 5:40).

Preston claims that he hasn’t arrived at a final answer, but goes into the topic of defense with violence, and military service. Defending yourself with violence, he claims, isn’t black and white. We know that there are no biblical examples of self-defense. It might be allowed while defending your family (who is your neighbor), because loving your neighbor may trump loving your enemy. Military service that involved killing was never allowed by the theological writings from before the time it was made the state religion in Rome. A position in the military that does not involve or support killing is one thing, but the early writers seemed to agree about military violence was something a Christian should not participate in.

Our allegiance is to Christ, and our kingdom is the Kingdom of God. We have no interest in furthering the kingdom of America. Romans 8:37, 39 says it well:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Is our allegiance to America? Is our trust in national security, or police protection? Where is our Faith when those things don’t exist (such as third world countries)?

If someone breaks into my home, I don’t know if I can stand by and let the intruder do as he wishes, but I think with the words of Jesus, as Christians, we have alternatives to shooting the intruder. Is my faith strong enough to submit in hopes of making a difference in the intruders life? I honestly don’t know.

We have no fear in death, because our hope is in Heaven, not in things of this world. Our hope is not in America’s military. It’s not in the security our police provide, or in the security of the security systems of our homes. We trust in God, and in life and in death, we are more than conquerors.

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A Hedge Around the Law

hedgeRecently, I’ve been reading a book called Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. I’d recommend this book to every Christian who wants to dig deeper.

Now, many years before Jesus, they had begun to pass down oral tradition, later recorded in the Talmud, which was a commentary or interpretation on the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament. It was instructions on how to follow the commands in daily life. It set up a hedge around the law, so that people would not even get close to breaking God’s instruction in the Torah. A hedge in this sense is like a wall around a wall. For example, instead of not doing work for 24 hours on the Sabbath, they made it 25 hours to guard against breaking God’s law.

There were two different classes of Pharisees. Those that leaned toward a strict following of the Talmud, following Rabbi Shammai, and others who were lenient, following Rabbi Hillel.

Even though Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, Jesus was most likely himself a Pharisee, or at least in line with their thinking. He came from inside the group, so he wasn’t standing outside calling them snakes and white-washed tombs, he was telling his own group to straighten their ways. In reality, Jesus was a Jew, as I am a Christian, but in practice, as I am Church of Christ, so Jesus was a Pharisee. As the Jews set up a hedge around the law to keep people from breaking the law, so we in the church of Christ have set up a hedge around our New Testament laws to keep from breaking the law.

The sermon on the mount was meant to tell us how we are to live beyond the law in our lives. When Jesus says “You may have heard…, but I say…”, he is going beyond the law in our own lives, and telling us to have hedges to keep us from sinning. Instead of swearing to let people know you will fulfill your promises, tell the truth always. Instead of letting your anger drive you to murder, don’t be angry with your brother in the first place. Don’t love those who love you, love everyone, for we can all receive salvation if we choose it. He gets to the heart of God, as only God himself can, and tells us how we can implement true Godliness in our lives. Going beyond what the law says is personal, it is our decision to make. If we want a life that is lived to it’s fullest, we have to leave those things behind, but others cannot make those decisions for us.

Some of you may disagree, but I believe that a Capella music is a hedge around our singing in our beliefs. It is not directly forbidden, but we do it to follow the traditions of the first century, and to follow the commandment, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” (Eph 5:19), we make sure that all can sing without being distracted by playing an instrument. We want people to sing and not just listen. In the same way, we don’t bring a praise team to the front, because if people always listen and never sing, we are not following the command to sing to the Lord. I do not plan to worship with instrumental music, but as it is never condemned by Jesus or the apostles, neither will I condemn it. I am not for the addition of instruments, just against teaching it as God’s law when it is not. We can teach it based on example, and historical context, just not as law, but let our primary focus be on biblical understanding and the heart of living a Christian life. This is just one of the many hedges we have.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees that enforced their own traditions above the law. We read in Matthew 15:1-9, about a tradition that allowed people devote their things to God, and not give to their parents because they gave to God instead. He condemns them for upholding a man-made law above the law of God to “Honor your father and mother”. He quotes from Isaiah 29:13:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

It is not wrong to have hedges around the instructions in God’s word, but when we focus on the hedges that we have, the man-made laws, and we forget about the instructions in God’s Word, and the life we are to live in Christ, our religion is in vain, and we have become blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24). When we stumble on the greater things of God’s word, but fulfill the hedges that we have set up, do you think it will mean anything on judgment day? Will we receive mercy based on the fact that we follow our own rules? I only hope you can live up to your own Judgment of others, because God will be as strict to you in the final judgment as you are to others (Luke 6:37-38).

Further Reading: Matthew 23, Luke 18:9-14

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Wait For Me

In our culture, we rush around, and we want immediate results. When we want an answer we immediately go to the Internet and do a search for our topic. We want that $300,000 home, and that $50,000 SUV right now, even though we can’t pay for it. Having things immediate is not always wrong, unless we have more debt than we can manage, but our sense of immediacy will not do us any good.

God wants us to wait for His timing. He wants us to seek him and to find him, but not to expect overnight results. When we receive Christ in baptism, we don’t have full understanding of all things Christians. We have to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7). And then we have to be patient.

When Abraham was seventy-five years old when God told him to go to Canaan (Genesis 12). He left his home on Faith, but he was childless. A few years later, we see that God promises Abraham a child of his own (Genesis 15). But Abraham and Sarah choose to intervene on God’s behalf, instead of waiting for him. Abraham has a child with Sarah’s servant, Hagar (Genesis 16). Because he did not wait for The LORD, Abraham had years of strife between Hagar and Sarah, and even had to send Hagar into the dessert with her son. God fulfills his promise through Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old. God told Abraham to “wait for me,” and God fulfilled his promise.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lam 3:25). “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a).

For those who are unmarried, wait for God. I did not meet my wife until I was 26, which seemed like an eternity at the time, and waiting was not my choice, but he has blessed me so much in finding the perfect spouse. For those who are trying to have children, be patient with God. That’s not to say that adoption isn’t a good choice, but it just takes time.

Wherever you are in life, seek God, Be in the Word, Pray. Wait for God.

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Dragging Others to Hell May Cause Burns

3_in_the_fire.83182856_stdNebuchadnezzar was a very powerful, and very bad man. He captured many nations, and was responsible for the death of many as he conquered the people of the middle east. I would compare his acts to those of Hitler or Stalin to the people of his day.

However, Nebuchadnezzar was an instrument used by God, and God even call him, “my servant” (Jeremiah 27:6).

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar had a golden image set up, and all of the nations were commanded to bow down and worship the idol. This idea was against what the Jews were commanded, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to this image. Nebuchadnezzar became so angry that he ordered the furnace to be heated to seven times it’s normal temperature, and he had them thrown in. The fire was so hot, that those that threw them in were killed due to the extreme heat. God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Today, we have those in the brotherhood who would choose to drag down and point out others, instead of focusing on our own shortcomings, improving our own walk, and on building up the body. When we are so caught up in dragging others to hell, whether it be individuals or as a group, we are only right outside the gates. Just like the Babylonian guards, we too will be burned up if we are not careful. It is not our place in the body of Christ to study about how others are doing it wrong. We can study the truth in God’s word, without pointing fingers that degrades others.

Jesus tells us, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). We all have sin (Romans 3:23), so what gives us the right to put others down when we are imperfect ourselves?

Paul, Peter, and Christ all call out those who do wrong, but in all circumstances that I have researched, it is directly affecting that specific group that is being addressed. Sitting in our building and pointing out the theological problems of the Christians down the street neither builds up nor calls those people to repentance.

Paul states that God gave our leaders to “equip the saints for the work of ministry,” and “for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). Did he give us leaders to cut others down, or so that the community knows that we are the only ones going to Heaven? (This is how many view the church of Christ). God is the one true judge. Go and study the Bible with those people, but we should be just as willing to discover the Truth as we expect them to be.

Our attitude also should be in humility and love. Telling others bluntly that they are wrong will not bring others to the knowledge of the truth. Only with prayer (1 Tim 2:1-4), gentleness, patience (2 Tim 2:25), and love (Eph 4:15) can we reach the lost.

Our aim and goal in life is to strive to be like Christ (1 John 2:6, 1 Pet 2:21, Eph 5:1-2,
John 13:13-17). Let us strive to build up, and not cut down. Let us teach the truth from the Word of God.

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Spicy Chicken Burrito

What is about to be revealed is a secret combination of ingredients that will allow you to create a burrito in under 3 minutes. It has only been revealed to a select few, and I am about to reveal it to you.

Ingredients:

To create the burrito, follow these steps:

  1. Place the tortilla on something that is safe for the Microwave.
  2. Put cheese on the tortilla in about 1″ from edges and in between.
  3. Place half of the chicken in the container in a straight line on the tortilla.
  4. (Optional) Put a little more cheese on top of the chicken.
  5. Place the tortilla in the Microwave for about 30-60 seconds, until most of the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the Microwave.
  7. Add ranch dressing.
  8. Eat and enjoy.
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Oracle VM Review

I’ve been tasked with the job of setting up a VM system at work, and Oracle VM was selected because it had the features we needed for free. I started a few weeks ago, trying to get it installed and configured, and I’ve finally got a working system using Oracle 3.0.2.

Oracle forums went down 3 days ago, and has not come back up. This is a computer company that has important server software that should be known for it’s reliability, and they can’t even keep their websites reliable.

System

I currently only have 2 physical servers that are the VM hosts, and we’re running the manager on a VMWare server (seems ironic, doesn’t it). The hosts both have 2 Intel Xeon Quad-Core 2.4Ghz processors, with 32 GB of memory. We don’t have external storage as of yet, but will probably be moving to that in the future.

Installation

The installation was fairly easy, when following the instructions, but was not well explained in the installation interface. I downloaded the ISO’s for the VM hosts and the VM Manager. I downloaded 3.0.1 at first, which would not discover local file systems, though it was available in the interface. After a few days, 3.0.2 was available, so I downloaded it and it worked with local file systems.

I have had to reinstall a few times to make some changes, such as using VLAN’s for bond0 (otherwise, eth0 is limited to that network, without VLAN support). I will talk about networking issues later though.

Storage

This is where things started getting frustrating. When I installed 3.0.1, I set up NFS on the VM hosts machines, but when I would start to partition a drive on one of the guests, both of the machines would reboot without telling me why. I was told in the forums, before they went down, that it’s because the storage transfer was interfering with the heartbeats to keep the servers alive.

Using 3.0.2, I was able to use local storage. It works better, but I don’t think I can transfer VM’s, as each host can only see the local storage on itself, not the other hosts.

Networking

My system’s have 2 NICs on them currently.

The first problem I had was that I installed the system with bond0 having my management address. When I wanted to add a VLAN, it wouldn’t let me without tying it to a physical port on one of the servers (why it needs a physical port, I’m not sure). So I reinstalled the system with a tagged VLAN.

The default mode for bond0 is “Active Backup”. I would like to change it to “Dynamic Aggregation”, but it says I can’t change bonding mode on a management interface.

I also can’t create a bond with only one interface. This is a restriction set on by the management, but in Linux, it is perfectly acceptable to have a bond with a single interface.

Server Management

Creating a pool and adding servers is not too bad. It was as simple as following the instructions.

Removing a server pool is a little more difficult though. The interface would throw random errors at me when I would attempt to remove the master server from the pool. The worst problem with the interface is decoding the error messages, and figuring out the exact steps to get something as simple as deleting a Server Pool. I finally got it to work once by removing all VM guests, removing all repository content, and then the repositories themselves, removing the VM hosts, and then finally removing the server pool. I think I was not removing the repository originally.

Console

Without reading the document, you don’t realize that they require that you install tightvnc on the server, or set up the local path. It errors out saying “cannot connect”. It also requires me to download, and open the file every time, which may be Google Chrome’s fault, but there should be an easier way to do this. An embedded Java applet would work, since they are using Java to begin with.

Conclusion

Overall, the system has some good things about it, but a major problem is the interface. Instead of having an interface that is intuitive, I have to read a 250 page document to figure out simple tasks. I can’t change the management interface, which could be done by adding a console program to Oracle VM operating system, but instead, I’m limited to doing what they allow me to do.

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From Ubuntu to Fedora

I’ve had a Linux machine (sometimes 2 or 3), for the past 7 years. I used Mandriva, but then moved to Redhat, which later became Fedora. I used Fedora for 3 or 4 years, but then went with Ubuntu because of it’s willingness to include the ability to have non-open-source drivers and libraries (mp3) without a hassle.

During the most recent update, I tried to use Ubuntu Unity, but it is just not what I want for my environment. I have always liked Gnome, and I approve of what the developers have done with Gnome 3. I tried installing Gnome 3 in Ubuntu 11.04, which had weird problems with the widgets on the toolbar and the Windows had old looking windows. I then updated to 11.10 alpha, only to find the operating system very unstable in both Unity and Gnome3.

So I’m moving back to Fedora. I have not had much time to sit down with it yet, but it is polished, and works perfectly with the Gnome3 desktop environment.

I will try to post some instructions for myself, and others, on installing some proprietary drivers and libraries, and my other modifications.

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Games Redesign

I have updated B7 Games with a new design, and a few new features. The new blue colors are a little easier on the eyes than just white and green. I’ve also added rounded corners to make it less jagged. I have made use of CSS3 in the new design.

Pileon now has a feature that allows you to hover over a card, and see all of the other cards of the same number. It was easy to miss the card when scanning through to find matching cards, so I found this to be an easy way to fix it.

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