A Biblical Lesson in Communication about Climate Change

Cliff Mass Weather Blog on using Biblical terms for climate predictions:

A week ago I was on a state legislative panel about the regional implications of global climate change and some climate policy folks on the panel described a range of unpleasant local effects of increasing greenhouse gases: coastal inundation from rising sea level, droughts, an increase in severe storms, serious flooding on local rivers, extreme precipitation, insect infestations killing forests, heat waves, and ocean acidification killing local shellfish, among others.

The list was biblical in length and severity. All that was missing were the frogs and boils.

And I noticed something else: the audience's eyes glazed over as the endless list of disasters were described. And the climate policy advocates provided extraordinarily specific predictions--such as the snow pack being reduced by 35% by a certain year. Such extreme precision regarding events later in the century caused such substantial rolling of some eyeballs that I worried that some might fall out their sockets.

Well if biblical-style prophetic warnings are in vogue today, is there anything we can learn from the bible on their effectiveness? Let's explore this.

Objective-C's 30 Year Birthday

Graham Lee discussing the early days of Objective-C message sending:

Reading the OOPC paper, you can tell that this is the start of what became known as Objective-C. It has a special syntax for sending Smalltalk-style messages to objects identified by pointers to structures, though not the syntax you’ll be used to:

someObject = {|Object, "new"|};

{|myArray, "addObject:", someObject|};

The infix notation [myArray addObject:someObject]; came later, but by 1986 Cox had published the first edition of Object-Oriented Programming: An Evolutionary Approach and co-founded Productivity Products International (later Stepstone) to capitalise on the Objective-C language.

Objective-C has really changed a lot over its thirty year existence. I am glad that I get to use it in its current form.

(via Jonathan Penn at Cocoa Manifest)

Han Solo and Hoth

Since Disney announced that J.J. Abrams would be directing Star Wars VII, Wired has been going crazy posting Star Wars articles.

My favorite of the series explained how Han Solo could have made the Kessel Run in 12 parsacs [1] and what the implications of that are. It combines physics and the best character in the Star Wars universe.

The other standout peice took a hard look at the Imperial invasion of Hoth at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. It gives a full breakdown of why this invasion was a completle taticle failure on the part of the Empire.

Both are very nerdy and go way to deep overanalyzing the details of a fictional movie, but thats what makes them a fun read.

  1. For those unfamilier, a parsac is a unit of distance, not time.  ↩

The Apple iWatch

The idea of a smart watch to mean always seemed like one of those things that made a great concept but would never really be a practical thing to have in everyday life. Products like the Lunatik looked cool but had major drawbacks like no wireless communication, not waterproof, poor battery life (compared to a traditional watch), and you had to press a button actually see the time.

Newer projects like the Pebble are interesting for nerds, but are still more like a proof-of-concept than an actual product. It is a cool idea that no one will actually want to integrate into their everyday lives.

This piece Bruce Tognazzini marks the first time I have ever really been excited about the idea of a smart watch. He outlines lots of things that will be useful for individual uses (my favorite being eliminating passwords), be he also presents some ideas on crowd sourcing data provided by millions of people wearing these watches could benefit the general population. Examples include improving mapping and providing data for numerical weather prediction.

It is a long article, but it is very interesting. I recommend checking it out.

What Would Jesus Do?

As a Christian, I've certainly seen it and felt it in the Christian community, expressed often in a sense that the more you love Jesus, the more inhospitable you'll be toward other faiths. "Don't let them build mosques or temples on our turf," some say. "Don't let them express their difference in dress or ritual," others suggest. "Require them to conform to our holidays and cultural codes," others demand.

The best example to look toward on how Christians are supposed to interact with people of other religious beliefs is Christ himself. While Christians today vilify and discriminate people, Jesus loved and ultimately died for these people. While he was hanging on the cross, he even forgave the people who put him there.

The type of thinking that makes Christians hate people who do not know Jesus was not taught by Christ.

» Gravity by Lecrae

Owen Strachan writing for The Gospel Coalition

These brief remarks aside, Gravity accomplishes what it sets out to do. It's a superbly crafted album that will appeal to Christians because of its content and to non-Christians because of its quality (and, I'm sure, vice versa). With many others, I'm stunned to see how far Christian hip-hop has come and how much God is blessing it in our day. From the forgotten child to the heir of evangelical musical influence in the broader culture---such is Christian hip-hop's journey these last few decades.

Owen's review of Lecrae's new album is pretty spot on. I definitely agree about it being the most important Christian rap album of all time.

I bought Gravity on release night and have had it on repeat ever since. If you pick it up, go for the deluxe version. It comes with two songs that are some of my favorites on the album. It also includes 'No Regrets', which was my favorite song on his last mix-tape Church Clothes.

However, the best songs are 'Tell The World' and 'Lucky Ones'.

» Fully Devoted

“Who would be committed to going and seeing God’s people set free from bondage?” [followed by a huge cheer]

“Who would give up everything to go right into the darkness and bring these victims out into the light?!” [an even bigger cheer and applause]

“Who will answer the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the marginalized!?!” [standing ovation; he’s now speaking above the waves of claps]

“Who will give up the next one whole year to go and be a part of God’s movement in Cambodia to put an end to sex trafficking?!?!?” [And by now, the audience had lost it. He had to wait for the applause to die. And he waited for a while.]

When it grew silent, he spoke very soberly: “I bet at least a hundred of you would get on the plane with me right this second and never think twice, never look back.” [a murmur of laughter, and a few loud ‘woohoos’ throughout the arena]

Be sure to catch the end. It isn't what you think.

» Mountain Lion’s New File System

The folder system paradigm is a geeky concept. Geeks built it because geeks need it. Geeks organize files all day long. Geeks don’t know and don’t really care how much their systems suck for other people. Geeks do not realize that for most people organizing documents within an operating system next to System files and applications feels like a complicated and maybe even dangerous business.

I was not a fan of the one-level folder restriction for iCloud documents, but Oliver makes a pretty good case that they will work just fine when used with Spotlight (which is the main way that I access my documents anyway).

Still not crazy about files being locked down to one app, but I can get used to that too. Overall, the convince of iCloud makes the change worth it.

» So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings. But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

An chilling account from a survivor of the shooting in Colorado and how it affected her relationship with Christ.

» A One, Two Punch for Yahoo!

Ben makes a great case that Yahoo should acquire both 500px and DuckDuckGo. I agree with him on both accounts.

The best thing about DuckDuckGo (besides improving that horrible name) is that it would provide a nice alternative to Google that could be used on the iPhone.

I'm really pulling for Marissa Mayer to turn Yahoo around, and I think that making these acquisitions would be a great way for them to start.

As a side note, I would like to recommend that you think about becoming a member of Ben Brook's site. He recently made a change to his site to be completely reader supported. He did this by removing every ad from his site.

I always liked his writing before, but I think it is even better now that it was before. Only $4 a month.

» Sparrow Aquired by Google

Not sure how I feel about this. I really like Sparrow (on both platforms), but have found myself using Mail.app in the last few weeks.

For gmail users however, I'm sure this will turn out to be really good.

The Sparrow icon made in Google colors does look pretty cool though.

Update: Sparrow just announced that there will not be any new features for any of their apps. Guess I'm done with it then.

Modbook Pro

Andreas Haas to Ars Technica.com :

"I'm looking at all these tablets out there, like the iPad, and seeing the seeds of a future Modbook Pro user," Haas said. "Almost everyone has an iPad or iPhone. I wouldn't want to live without it. But as a company, we are looking at a very distinct niche. The creative industry does not have a product that meets their need to draw on a real computer's screen and have it be portable. It's just not out there."

Like most, I quit paying attention to the Modbook on the day that Apple announced the iPad. However, I still find it interesting because it can still do one thing that the iPad cannot do that well: handwritten input.

When I was in school, I really wanted to be able to use my iPad to replace pen and paper for notetaking. It would allow me to only have to carry one thing with me to class and I would always have access to any of my notes. I used apps like Penultimate for years, but in my last semester I turned back to pen and paper.

The iPad works great for taking notes in classes where you can type things out; For my science and math based courses, this was never an option. I need to write out math equations and draw figures.

What I was really wanting for this task is a tablet option that would let me do two things:

  1. Write on the screen with close to the same precision as writing on paper (without having to resort to hacks like zooming or large input boxes that shrink your writing).
  2. Palm recognition so I could rest my hand on the screen like I would a piece of paper.

The first is not possible using the large-tipped capacitive touch styli that are available for the iPad now and the second is not possible to do with 100% reliability using Apple's public APIs.

The ModBook Pro looks as if it can do these things. I don't have a need for something like this now that I am out of school, but this type of technology is still interesting to me. I really hope this type of input becomes easier to actually do on iOS devices in the future.

» Replying to App Store Reviews

Matt Gemmell:

The problem with responding publicly is that it’s soul-destroying. If you’re able to respond to reviews, you’ll be checking them obsessively, and you will respond. Worse, you’ll inevitably do so in a snitty, defensive way that pleads the value of your time, or the extremely modest investment the user has made, or your need to support your family, or the triumph of rational thinking. Don’t be that guy. Nobody cares, least of all some idiot sixteen-year-old, or Mr. I’m-An-Important-Lawyer. You’ll only lower and tarnish yourself. You’re screaming at the wind.

Another good piece about the App Store review process. Matt presents great argument for why public responses are not the answer.

» Future of third party Twitter apps

Were I a Twitter client developer, I would get in touch with other client developers and start talking about a way to do what Twitter does but that doesn’t require Twitter itself (or any specific company or service).

Once we came to a consensus, then we’d add support for whatever-it-is to our apps. We wouldn’t drop Twitter support — we’d just add the new thing. Do both.

And then we’d promote the new thing, encourage people to use it, help it grow. Then drop Twitter some day — or wait till Twitter cuts off our apps. Whatever. And not care, because we’ve got the new thing.

I'm not a fan of the direction that Twitter is going with it's API restrictions. If I am not able to use third party apps like Tweetbot, then Twitter becomes a much less interesting service to me.

Brent has an interesting idea about to make Twitter clients work without actually using Twitter, but it would only really work for nerds. Normal people would just use the standard Twitter app (which is what they want).

Contradictions: Mark 1:1-3

One of my favorite subjects to read about and discuss is apparent contradictions in the Bible. Some are as easily explained as texts being taken out of context, while others take more work.

I am going to start a series that addresses these alleged contradictions in order to show that they are actually not. If you have any suggestions, send them in and I will write about them (or link to an article that does).

This question was addressed to The Gospel Coalition:

The Gospel of Mark begins, "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.'" Only problem: that quote is from Malachi, not Isaiah. Did Mark just fumble the ball here? How do we make sense of this apparent error in Scripture?

The apparent contradiction is found in Mark 1:1-3. As the question states, it appears that Mark is citing Isaiah on a piece of scripture that was actually written by Malachi.

Rikk E. Watts goes a great job of explaining why this is not a contradiction and how it was a literary technique that Mark used over and over in his Gospel. It is a good article and well worth a read.

Google Chrome coming to iOS today

Over at Google IO, Google has announced that the their popular web browser Chrome is heading to the App Store later on today. I am not a Chrome user myself, but this is exciting because it is the first major third party desktop browser to make the jump to iOS [1]. It is also interesting because it points to two major limitations to the App Store ecosystem [2].

The first limitation will probably gain the most attention because it is a customer facing problem. There is no way for users to set a default browser on iOS. So if a user opens a link from Mail or any other app, the link will only open in Safari. This makes it hard for any other browser to get any real traction.

The second problem is more of a developer issue, but it interests me more. The Chrome that iOS users get is not really Chrome. On Android, Mac, and Windows; Chrome uses a custom forked version of Webkit and a custom Javascript engine. These will not be allowed on the iOS versions because Apple does not allow apps that can run other outside code. So the Chrome that iOS users get is a custom wrapper on top of an Apple supplied UIWebView. This means that the performance of web browsing on Chrome for iOS will be noticeably worse than in Safari, and there is noting that Google can do about it.

The first problem can only be fixed with a major change to the OS. The second is just a policy change. I hope that, with time, both of these issues will be addressed. It would go to make the App Store and iOS platform better for both consumers and developers.

  1. Sorry, Opera doesn’t count. Firefox also does not get any points for announcing without actually releasing.  ↩

  2. Neither of which look to be fixed in iOS 6.  ↩

iTunes Overhaul this year?


Apple Inc. plans an overhaul of iTunes that would mark one of the largest changes to the world’s biggest music store since its 2003 debut, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

I really hope this is true. iTunes frustrates me more than any other app on my Mac (except perhaps Xcode). However, I hope Apple takes this further than the article says.

In Mountain Lion, Apple broke features out of apps and put them in their own separate app. Reminders were taken out of iCal and Notes were taken out of Mail. This was done so that the experience on the Mac would match the experience on iOS.

I really want them to do a similar thing with iTunes. It should be broken up into multiple apps. The App Store could be moved over to the Mac App Store. Music, Videos, and Podcasts could be broken into multiple apps the way they are on iOS with each one having a portal to buy content. But music from the Music app, TV shows and movies from the Videos app, and so on.

iTunes has becomes increasingly bloated and is in need of a complete overhaul. I hope they take the opportunity to actually overhaul it and not just add more feature-bloat.

Simplifiing Life

Last night at church, out college pastor Adam Barnett talked about ways to simplify your life in our overly complex, digitally centered world. I thought the list was thoughtful and well done, so I figured I would post it here for you all to see.

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Avoid anything that is producing addiction in you.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse getting the newest gadget.
  5. Enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for Creation.
  7. Don't buy now to own later.
  8. Use honest speech.
  9. Reject anything that causes the oppression of others.
  10. Rid you life of anything preventing your from seeking The Lord first.