Categories: "computer/tech"

Ubuntu is go

Last night I added some components to my parents' old computer and installed Ubuntu Linux. The installation went pretty well, but I do have a few problems. The most severe one is that the ethernet card is not working. It won't be much of a webserver without that. The light on the back of the card flashes on briefly about once every two seconds. Then a light on the ethernet switch flashes at the same time. In Ubuntu's configuration GUI I try to activate the card and after about two seconds the checkmark next to it just disappears. I've got another card I might swap in there. But that card was working just 2 hours earlier in Windows. Frustration!

My second problem isn't as bad as that, but it's still very annoying. When I'm logged into a desktop there's some kind of lag. The best way to describe it is that when I'm moving my mouse around in circles it will be smooth for 3-4 seconds and then it will freeze for about half a second. The same thing happens when I'm typing. It's like I'm not getting a very good framerate from my video card (which is one the components I swapped out).

My third problem is that I have no sound. I'm not too surprised since I've never had sound on my Fedora box.

If anyone has any ideas, especially about the ethernet problem, then I'd love to hear them.


Sorry if you couldn't post comments for a while. We were all locked out of the directory that keeps the important interactive files for the site. It looks like everything is working again now.

Art Appreciation

The typical evangelical Christian attends church services regularly, has regular Bible reading and prayer times and serves his fellow man in some capacity. Some read books to enhance their walk with Christ; ambitious Christians even dabble in the writings of theologians. So what is missing in this picture? Perhaps it is the picture itself.

Since the age of Enlightenment, when science and reason triumphed over art and feeling, Christians have valued practical knowledge over artistic representation. Obviously there is value in scientific thinking: through scientific evidence, we are able to understand and be confident in our minds that Jesus is the Christ and that he came to earth to die for our sins and to rise again. As with anything, however, there can be too much of a good thing. But what are we missing when we eliminate art entirely? A significant portion of the Bible, for starters.

As Louis A. Markos states, “Although our faith is grounded in a book that is jam-packed with literary genres, that expresses most of its wisdom in the form of poetry, and that is narrative rather than didactic in its essential focus and scope, we still prefer to hear truth in logical, non-contradictory statements” (“Poetry Phobic”, Christianity Today, Oct 2001). Markos believes that the Incarnation, the doctrine which affirms that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, is the ultimate truth shrouded in mystery. In other words, how else can we fully appreciate this central doctrine unless we also appreciate the poetic and symbolic language appropriately used in describing the process?

Christian poet Luci Shaw discusses the arts in terms of the imagination, a gift given to humans in the image of God. “I think the imagination is God's most effective teaching tool. When you look at Scripture you realize that one-third of the Bible is poetry. The most effective way to get truth across is in the form of imagery—drawing pictures in our heads,” Shaw explained in an interview with Stephanie Kirtland (Mars Hill Review, May 1995).

She uses Isaiah 1:18 as an example. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” The word imagery provided in this verse captures a part of our minds that makes this truth hard to forget: a concrete explanation would not have the same impact.

If both art and science have their place, then where did we lose our way? Charles Colson explains the shift toward scientific thought and away from artistic thought in his book, How Now Shall We Live?.

“To understand why art has lost its high purpose, we must place it in the context of a broader worldview shift, when modern science was elevated to an idol, the sole source of knowledge. The assumption took hold that anything science cannot detect and measure must not be real, leading to an assault not only on religion but also on the realm of the imagination and intuition expressed in the arts,” Colson wrote (445).

As a result, artists and artistically-minded people were forced to the fringes of society, were forced to create their own world where art still had merit. Art became a tool for the elite, and only the elite could determine the quality (or lack thereof) in a musical piece, a poem or a work on canvas. As Colson explains, this lack of artistic standard led to art created simply to ‘shock the commoners’ and moved art into the realm of religion.

“Art became a surrogate religion, with artists hurling prophetic denunciations at ‘sinners’. But it is a religion with no power of redemption, and so in the end it has degenerated into little more than assaults on mainstream society’s beliefs and values,” Colson states (449).
In chapter three of his book, The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer explored the theme of art as religion and determined its fate. He explained that VanGogh, Gaugin, Picasso, Cezanne and the artists of the Dada movement are examples of artists who were trying to create a new reality, a new universal that would explain everything and yet say nothing. These artists created works which lacked traditional form and which cause the viewer to explore him or herself to find meaning, a tricky and often dangerous undertaking. Schaeffer believed that the logical conclusion of these artists’ alternate reality is nothingness; a reality void of meaning and understanding that leads to despair. Schaeffer said, “On the basis of modern man’s methodology, whether expressed in philosophy, art, literature or theology, there can be no other ending than this—man tumbling into the bottomless” (32).

What value does this knowledge have for the Christian? “These [works] are the expression of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness. Dare we laugh at such things? Dare we feel superior when we view their tortured expressions in their art? Christians should stop laughing and take such men seriously. Then we shall have the right to speak again to our generation. These men are dying while they live; yet where is our compassion for them? There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion,” Schaeffer said (34).
As for reclaiming art as valuable in our own lives, Colson explains, “Christianity alone has the resources to restore the arts to their proper place, for Christianity is a worldview that supports human creativity yet does so with appropriate humility” (449).

So what can we do to reclaim our imaginations, to tap into the spirit of creativity God placed in each one of us? Colson lists several ways to do just that.

Attend concerts
Don’t limit yourself to music you are familiar with; experiment with different styles to find what best captures your imagination.

Read classic literature
Many established authors did not write overtly about God, but exhibited Christian themes of morality and truth within their work. Try Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Robert Louis Stevenson or Charlotte Bronte.

Visit art museums
When you see something that catches your eye, write down its title and creator. Research the artist’s background and his or her reason for creating the work.

Get to know composers, writers and painters inspired by the Christian faith

Enjoy the arts as media that speaks to us spiritually
Embrace the less rational part of yourself; it too is a gift from God.

Let artists take a role in church services
Musicians should write and play music, poets and writers create drama, artists design murals.

Hold arts festivals at your church

Designate a room or hallway of your church as an art gallery

Make your home a place where art and culture are nurtured
Play classical music, hang reproductions of art on your walls, read literature that inspires children’s ‘moral imagination’.
(Colson, 451-2)

Finally, attempt to create art of your own. As heirs of God, we are, in fact, heirs of the arts, meaning we have a right to acknowledge, understand and appreciate the awesome gift that is the imagination. We are well-versed in promoting unity in the church; we should also be promoting unity in ourselves. As Shaw said, “We need both the left brain and the right brain. We need the rational, the linear thought, otherwise we could go out of control completely. But we also need that leap of the imagination that connects two images together. And we need, as Christians, to be ‘whole brained people,’ who don't despise either the left brain or the right brain and allow the two to work together.”

(Originally written for Adrian Christian Church.)

My parents' new computer

After work on Saturday I went over to work on my parents' computer. It's 3-4 years old and it's been having some problems. Dad tried to repair windows with the install cd and it wasn't booting. We fixed that, but since it runs very slow and the video card appears to be dying, he decided that he still wanted a new one. When my dad makes a decision, he gets it done pretty fast, so we got on and picked one out. Then we went to the Best Buy in Lee's Summit and bought it. Here are the specs:

Gateway 503GR
160 GB SATA hard drive
Dual layer DVD+/-RW
3.0 GHz P4 processor
17" LCD
Total price: $979

That is the most awesome computer of anyone I know. And the price was very good. I haven't seen the 503GR on Gateway's site at all, and you can't find it at Best Buy anymore. It must have bee a holiday special. Dad also found a $79 UPS (battery back-up) that was on sale and had Best Buy and manufacturer's rebates so that the final cost was $6. Dang. They had 256 MB flash drives for $49, but a guy comes up and says that they're on sale for $30, with a $15 mail-in rebate. So he got one of those ($15!) and a 512 MB for $30 after rebate.

We got it home and I uninstalled some of the crap that comes on it (read: AOL) and then I added Firefox, AVG and OpenOffice (it came with Works). We hooked it into their new DSL and set up user accounts so everyone keeps their settings separate. We used the flash drive to move all of their files from the old computer to the new. I also tricked out Firefox with several useful extensions (Gmail Notifier, Adblock, Weatherfox, Bloglines toolkit).

They're giving me the old computer. Even though it's old, it is much better than the box I'm currently using for my webserver, so I think I'll migrate everything over. I've already downloaded and burned a cd for Ubuntu Linux. Once again, if you've read this whole post you may be a geek.


Last night I made my second php script. I'm calling it ls2rss. It reads the contents of a directory on a webserver and publishes it as an rss feed. If you want to look it over or use it on your site, then download the zip file and give it a try. I'd love to hear suggestions, problems or ways you find to use this. I know it's a simple script, but I was pretty proud of myself when I got it to work. I was even more excited that it served the purpose I made it for.

LAN party

The LAN party is still going after 10 hours. It's been fun, we've had 9 different players. I'll post some pictures later.

Countdown to w00t!

The countdown has begun. The chips are bought, the geeks are invited, the networking supplies are ready to go. Now all that's left to do is watch the countdown at the top of this page. I just hope I'm on Grant's team when we play Counterstrike so he doesn't frag me.


The LAN party is on. This Saturday from noon until bedtime we'll hook our computers together and play Counterstrike, Age of Empires 2, StarCraft, and whatever else we feel like. I'm expecting over 10 people. I only wish Brendan, Gringo and Smiles could be there, too. There are some things that might end up in short supply, so if you have them, bring them along:

  • Ethernet patch cables
  • Extension cords
  • Power strips
  • Mountain Dew

The Story Enmakeulator v. 0.1

I'm finally making a serious effort at learning a programming language. I thought PHP would be the natural choice, since I've been using a CMS that is written in PHP. I found a good tutorial and went through the 11 lessons. I had gotten that far before, but I never had an idea for anything to make. Unless you have something to practice on, you'll never learn the language (or at least I haven't). So I made up an objective for myself and spent several hours tonight making it into a PHP program.

So, it is my pleasure to present to you, The Story Enmakeulator (version 0.1). The idea is, you read the story, then add on your own paragraph. I know there are some problems with it, and if you have answers, please let me know. If you want to look at the source code, you can grab it here.

Firefox + Bloglines

Bloglines | Firefox Center Firefox and Bloglines may be my two favorite internet applications. And now they're playing together more nicely than ever. This site is where I found the Livelines extension. I'm not sure if I like it better than the Mozilla Bloglines Toolkit, though. If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about then get Firefox, get a Bloglines account (both are free) and find out.

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