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Archive for May, 2011

Running Linux on the home computer

Posted by Chance on May 30, 2011

So, I’ve been running Linux Mint 10 on my home computer.  I’ve been pretty happy with it.  Other than games, Linux will do about 95% of the stuff a Windows machine will do, and it does it much better in my opinion.

My wife and I actually do not use the PC too much any more, with most of our computer tasks being performed on her iPhone or my Android phone.  So we pretty much use our PC as a photo repository, for my blogging, and for our occasional word processing.  Linux cannot run Word, but it can run LibreOffice (formerly OpenOffice), and of course, there is always Google Docs.

I haven’t gone completely to Linux for a long period of time due to the lack of an internet accountability program like Covenant Eyes, which operates on Windows.  There is an open source program for Linux, however, called Net Responsibility.  It doesn’t have the advanced reporting capability of Covenant Eyes, but it still provides the essential component of internet monitoring and log emails.

The primary motivation of moving from Windows to Linux is that a computer running Linux is as fast today as it was 2 years ago.  Windows computers deal with an ever-bloating registry and they simply slow down over time.   Also, newer Windows versions have higher demand on hardware.  I have a new version of Linux Mint that I’m running on a Dell Optiplex GX270 – a five year old computer that I bought from eBay for about $85.  I couldn’t do that with Windows 7.

But everyone has different needs.  For PC gamers a Linux box simply wouldn’t be suitable.  I’m not one.  And for those who still need Windows to do a few things, they may want to consider a dual boot or holding onto an old Windows computer.  I have an old Dell laptop from which I run Windows.  Basically I use it to sideload library eBooks to our Nook and if we need to update the OS on the iPhone.


Posted in Computers, Technology | 4 Comments »

Why I don’t follow the zero inbox policy

Posted by Chance on May 24, 2011

The zero inbox policy refers to essentially keeping your inbox  0 emails by the end of the day.  For a while I had followed this, but because I’m somewhat lazy in this manner and unorganized I didn’t keep it up.  But not only that, I simply didn’t know it was worth it.  There are a few reasons for this.

First of all, a caveat

I’m a programmer.  I’m not a manager, and I don’t interface much with people outside of my company.  So, email is not the primary means by which I get things done.  This is just a system that works for me.  Also, I’m a sloppy and disorganized person so the costs of organization and the way I arrange things means this system works for me.

Electronic clutter doesn’t take up space

Many people espousing a zero inbox policy usually use analogies of clutter in one’s garage or desk, but the reality is it simply isn’t the same.  Physical clutter takes up physical space.  Emails take up hard drive space.  I have an 80 GB drive, small by today’s standards but still plenty of room.

I can instantly get to what I need to

I use Thunderbird for my work email and Gmail for my personal email.  Both have a quick and efficient search feature in which I can retrieve the messages I want easily.

I sometimes need those emails

There have been several instances where I have heard a facebook friend post “I’m glad I keep all my emails” or “I’m glad I had that email”.  One instance had to do with difficulties someone was having with their ISP doing something against the original agreement.  I myself, when trying to delete multiple emails, have ended up deleting something I needed later.  I suppose someone who is good at organization can judge what emails they will need later, and again, different things may work for different people.   But for me, there have been instances where an email I thought I would never need I ended up needing based on some audits by another group.  When sorting through emails and going on a delete binge, I get lazy and err on the side of deleting too many emails.

I lose more productivity in deleting emails than I do sorting through them 

Again, with Thunderbird and Gmail I can retrieve email I want instantly.  Perhaps if I went through my inbox every day, the task would not take as long as waiting till it piles up, but I still don’t feel like getting to the emails I need takes a long time.

That being said, I still delete some.  

Some emails I obviously will not need again, such as automated messages from our software tracking system in which I can get the same data online.  I also delete my monthly airline miles notifications, timecard reminders, people simply responding “ok”, and the like.

Other – I use tagging instead of folders

Sometimes the search function isn’t enough.  For those cases I use labels/tags instead of folders.  I have found that when I use folders, I often don’t remember if I copied a message to a  folder, or what folder I copied it to (Admittedly, this would be less of an issue if recursive searches were easier in email programs).  However, tags provide the organization advantages of folders, and I can still search from the main folder.  I can also apply multiple tags to the same message without creating duplicate messages.

So, in summary, I feel that a great search function and large hard drives make a zero inbox policy unnecessary, at least for me.  For someone else, such as those who do a large amount of their work via email communication, a zero inbox policy may be needed.

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I’m not going to mourn

Posted by Chance on May 2, 2011

So, Bin Laden is dead. In the era of Facebook, I get to see people’s various reactions. The one I wanted to focus on was the Christian response – not to rejoice even when the wicked perish, and that we should never be happy when someone is suffering in hell, even if that person was evil incarnate.

Nine and a half years ago, I wanted Osama to pay. He killed thousands of people and I wanted him to suffer. Death was too good for him; I wanted him tortured. Over time, my anger has faded. When I heard the news last night, I felt a sense of excitement. But I don’t think this excitement was out of revenge or vindication. I thought we would never catch the guy, despite all our efforts for the past decade (and probably beyond that). Catching him was a huge victory, even if it was largely symbolic. I believe I would have been just as happy if he was captured, although I’m not sure by what court he would be tried and if he would have received the death penalty. So, my excitement was not due to Osama’s suffering, but just the enormity of the news.

That being said, the reaction of “not rejoicing” is still technically correct. We shouldn’t rejoice that someone rejected God and is now suffering in hell. For a great perspective, visit Mornings with Brant (ironically the picture posted in the blog is what Brant is reacting against).  We are all deserving of hell, so we shouldn’t really rejoice when someone gets what they deserve.  The Bible lumps murderers together with people who disobey their parents.

While I’m not rejoicing at Osama’s fate, I’m not mourning either.  Maybe some of this has to do with my desensitization.  People die across the world, tragically.  Unfortunately, there is so much death in the world that it is hard to be moved by tragic news, unless it’s on a large scale like 9/11 or natural disasters.  So, when I hear of one person dying, and that person happens to be an infamous terrorist, I won’t rejoice at their fate, but I won’t mourn either.  I’m not saying that’s necessarily the right attitude, so it’s something about which I have to pray to God so that I would have the right attitude.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | 1 Comment »