Friday, April 28, 2006

Loving Our Brothers and Sisters

I typically use this blogspace for things other than Christianity, as I have other places online for that. (See the cross post links at the end of the article.) But something I read this morning is important enough for other Christians to read that I'm posting it here, too.

Bill (De) over at Thinklings shared a great thought about Christians loving Christians. All too often, groups of believers will say or do something that we consider embarrasing. But, we have to remember that those who genuinely trust Jesus daily for salvation are in the same family; they are part of the same bride. It is true that the covenant family of God may act like a dysfunctional family, and that may bother us. But never forget that we are still family, even if we number in billions rather than dozens. Bill's call is not one of meaningless ecumenism. It is a call for us to love one another as Christ commands. So Christian, go love your brothers and sisters today, even the strange ones.

(UPDATE: This makes a nice companion piece to a previous Internet Monk essay: Why Do They Hate Us?)

(cross posted at Ars Gratia and Two42)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Here's to You, Larry Kisor

I just read this morning that my High School band director, Larry Kisor, will be retiring this year. For what it's worth, he is one of two people I remember from those days, the other being Fred Chadwick, who was partly responsible for my current engineering career.

Larry Kisor is not your average HS band director. He started teaching at my high school the year I started, and took the program from average to extraordinary. Under his leadership, the Jazz Ensemble regularly won, and always placed well, at state and local competitions. Under his teaching, many students have gone on to study music and make professional careers. (He came close with me, but engineering won out oh so slightly.) Not only is his teaching in jazz exceptional, his concert and marching bands regularly stood out among the local groups. I must attribute this to his love of teaching and his ability to bring out excellence from his students.

Of all the cynical things I could say about my high school experience, music, and the time I spent in that band room, was the highlight. For that, I offer my heartfelt thanks to Larry Kisor.

Mr. Kisor, your presence will be sorely missed. God bless you as you pursue new interests in life and teaching.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Is Working in Meatspace Inefficient?

As more studies are done on the effects of new technologies on the behaviors of upcoming generations, we see that they tend to multitask much more than those who came before them. Whether it is the use of multiple devices, such as TV, the computer, cellphones, music devices, etc., or the computer by itself, our younger generations tend to keep tabs on multiple streams of input at once. It is debated whether or not this is a more efficient way to work in the long run, but it is a trend nevertheless.

Compare that with a recent article about the etiquette of the business meeting, where more often you will see people checking their PDAs while not directly paying attention to the speaker in the meeting. Some look at this as yet antoher expression of multitasking in the current technological climate. Others see it as simply rude.

The questiom, then, becomes one of balance between physical interaction with people vs. our ability to accomplish multiple tasks with the aid of technology. While one can rightly argue that social interaction is important, does that mean such interaction must occur in the workplace, especially in roles that are not directly related to customer service? Or, when functioning within the internal realms of an organization, is it better to allow those who enjoy and are able to multitask to do so without the tedium of meatspace interaction slowing them down?

An aside: much is made these days about every role providing service to a customer. Customer is redefined to be anyone with whom you interact professionally. In some cases, the word is modified further to refer to polite human interaction in general. While the author agrees that good manners is important when humans get together, he believes it is a mistake to force all of these interactions into the mold of a service provider servicing a customer or consumer of said service. This ceases to teach actual manners and kindness, and becomes a means of the "customer" exploiting the service provider for as much personal gain as possible on one hand, and the service provider manipulating the customer/consumer out of their hard earned resources on the other.

What the CBS News article doesn't answer, though, is the cynical but probable reason for people performing mundane tasks during meetings. Could it be that many of the meetings we are forced to endure are a waste of time? Perhaps doing other work during dull meetings is enabling people to remain productive when otherwise sitting idle through a poorly managed or irrelevant meeting. is this rude? Yes, but maybe this is one point for those who argue that people need to be allowed to spend more of their time working instead of talking about working. (Thankfully, my company doesn't require me to sit through endless hours of beauracratic nonsense. I pity those who are in such situations.)

What does your favorite comic book character believe?

Agree or disagree with their conclusions, this is an intersging web site:

Religion of Comic Book Characters

Friday, April 21, 2006

Goodies from Slashdot

I found a couple fun items today at the venerable Slashdot.

First, a document leaked early revealing that Seagate is about to come out with a 750GB hard drive. One can never have too much disk space.

Second, it looks like we may be able to get our Trek geek on in a couple years. J.J. Abrams of Lost fame is set to direct a new Star Trek movie, set at Starfleet Academy when Kirk and Spock are students. One can hope it doesn't stink.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's About Bloody Time

It seems that Greenpeace co-foudner Patrick Moore is coming around to the idea that Nuclear Power is a good thing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Easter Bunny Hates You

Here's the proof (HT: Joel Hunter)

Ars Technica System Guide Updates

It's time again for the crew at Ars Technica to update their Ars System Guide. Before theology became my primary interest, I spent a good bit of time keeping up with the developments in the DIY PC world, and designed quite a few good systems (in my not humble enough opinion). I still build my own desktop systems, but I don't have the desire to keep up with the changes like I used to. The builders over at Ars do a fine job, though, so if you are of a mind to put together a system on your own, their recommendations are worth your consideration.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Slashdot Adds a Bookmark Feature

Slashdot added a public viewable bookmark feature. Cool.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar, Exchange Alternative?

The code slingers at Google never stop. This time, they've added Calendar services. You can choose to share or not share the calendar. Also, you can create multiple "calendars" in your account, and share only those parts you choose. A quick look at the interface also shows that you can also invite others to your appointment as scheduled attenders or as guests.

I won't go so far as to call this an Exchange killer, but this makes for a nice addition to Google Mail.

Other links: Google Products, Google Labs

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Heh Heh...

Hey, GOP members, use this video to irritate your liberal friends!

(HT: Challies)

Blog Publishing Software

Gotta love that open source software. I found a new editor for posting to the various blog sites I'm a part of: Qumana. It's easy to use, and you just can't beat free.

(HT: Tall Skinni Kiwi)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Building Supercomputers out of Junk Hardware

This article at Slashdot the other day got me thinking. I wonder what kind of multi-processing Frankenstein I could come up with at home or work with all the old hardware that's sitting about. It probably wouldn't run all that well, and it would be a power hog, but it would be fun.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How Does Bill Gates Work?

CNN Money has one of many articles out relating an interview with Bill Gates about how he works. There is almost no paper in his office, and he has quite the setup. He runs three monitors, with Outlook on the left, IE on the right, and current emails/other work in the center. With that, he has a tablet PC with MS OneNote for meetings/doodling/etc. that sync's with his desktop system. If that isn't enough, he's about to get a cool but rather expensive digital whiteboard.

The Good

I can speak from experience that multi-monitor is the way to go. I only use two, but even with that, it's hard to go back to using a computer with only one screen. While I haven't been a fan of tablet PCs in the past, this almost (but only *almost*) makes me want to consider one.

As for the digital whiteboard, that's a little over the top and pricey, but for any group creative or brainstorming work, they're hard to beat. I'm still happy to have my standard dry-erase whiteboard at home, even if I don't use it much.

The Bad

As interesting as the article is, it unfortunately sounded like a free advertisement for MS SharePoint. I'm sure they use that internally all the time in Redmond, but there are plenty of other ways to collaborate. Group blogs and email come to mind. Even Google Groups or Yahoo! Groups work nice, the latter even having a calendar for scheduling.

The Rest

In all, the article gives some good ideas for you to try if you have the means. If you do any work that requires you to be at a computer for extended periods of time, do seriously consider running more than one monitor. I assure you that you'll never work the same way again.