Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Free Windows Vista Business & Office Pro 2007

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Microsoft is giving away a Windows Vista Business license and an Office Pro 2007 license if you watch three web-based seminars for each. Here's the link to the giveaway site, I am not eligible myself, but my family and friends are eligible!

Here are the requirements: you need to have a Microsoft Passport (your Hotmail email will work), and you need to watch three (3) seminars for either free offer. So, to get both of them, you need to watch a total of six (6) web seminars.

Microsoft Office Professional 2007 comes with the following:
  • Microsoft Office Word 2007
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2007
  • Microsoft Office Access 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager
Vista Business does include the coveted Aero interface. While it is true that Vista Business does not include the Media Center, I do not think most people I know will need it. However, Vista Business includes a spectacular backup / system recovery feature: built-in hard disk imaging.

Here's a rundown of the different Vista editions:
The web site is very slow, being hit by, well, everybody and their brother... so be patient, or try to logon during off hours. Offer expires 02/28/2007. Vista & Office are separate, you can run one without the other.

UPDATE: As of 12/01/2006 at 10:00 AM, they are "sold out." Hope you got one! I think Cathy's either just inside the door or barely got shut out, I'm not sure, but I know she is not getting a copy of Vista. I hope she gets the Office Pro 20007!

Monday, November 27, 2006

I should graduate next year

The light at the end of the academic tunnel is now appearing. I have one more heavy semester remaining, where I will take 4 classes totally 9 units (one class is 0 units, go figure). One of the classes has never been offered outside of the middle of the workweek, and I have been waiting to take that class literally for years. My boss has been very understanding, and is going to allow me to make arrangements to take that class.

So, tomorrow I see my academic advisor to confirm I can graduate in Fall 2007. If I can get all my classes and have my electives approved, I'll only have one Hebrew class for the Fall semester. Yeah!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Trusting God

So, last week I was thinking about trusting God. I've got a lot going on, between work, school, marriage, and remodeling, not to mention my church internship. I had felt, in the past weeks, an increasing persistent sense of dread.

That is to say, I had begun to worry.

I have thought about Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 6. You know, the "do not worry" part? And I have also been reading Larry Crabb's "Connecting" for class. I'm not sure exactly what I was reading, but at one point something connected inside me, and I began to think I was asking God for the wrong things.

The next morning, as I was struggling to pray, it finally became clear to me that I did not need to pray for more time, or more energy, or more skill, not even more wisdom. The problem for me was that I was working hard to accomplish all that is on my plate. And the more I faced, the harder I struggled to get it all done. And I had begun to worry. What I needed to pray for (it came to me suddenly) was to ask God to help me to trust Him.

I'm not saying this is what Jesus meant when He said to "seek first His kingdom and His righteouness" but I think it is the same idea. All the tasks which lay before me are still there, even now, and they must be done. But a year from now, Thanksgiving will still be around the corner and this year will have become history.

God will see me through it. And it isn't about being empowered to do it all (though I think He will do so), it is about trusting Him in the middle of all of this.

So, I prayed that morning for God to help me to trust Him. And I think God spoke to me that morning, and I heard Him. And now the problems are there, but it is somehow O.K.

So, if you've been feeling like me, perhaps you should consider praying for trust in God. :-)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Three Point Two Four (3.24) Billion

This is a first-person contemporary narrative sermon I gave during my second homiletics class. I got an "A" for this one!

I would probably preach this as "34 Million" next time instead of "3.24 Billion"... you'll see why.

Update on Cathy and Everything Else

OK, here's an update on Cathy; in short, everything fine. It turns out that she ran out of this prescription for a anti-depressant. She'd been out for three days when we went to the urgent care, and we also picked it up that night.

Apparently, you can't just "run out of" anti-depressants... they cause weird things to happen, many of which Cathy also experienced. So... she's OK now. Thank you for your prayers!

On the apartment front, I'm painting with the help of friends this weekend. Hopefully, we'll be able to rent it out before the end of the month... (please, Lord?) Financially, we're barely making it, although it feels like we're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. And, Cathy's mother is having difficulty adjusting to living in our larger place, even though she has her own room. *sigh*

On another bright note, however, I got an "A" on my last sermon. I'll probably post that later on. And, Boaz is getting very cute and cuddly... which means he's about ready for adoption.

To quote that guy with the kid from Lost, "I'll do it by doing it"... although I'll add "one day at a time" and "with the Lord's help." :-)

UNIX script to update

I'm not sure the folks at Dynamic Network Solutions (DynDNS) want you doing this, but there is an UNIX shell script I wrote to update dynamic DNS entries using the Lynx text-only Internet browser.

In case you were not aware, DynDNS offers a fantastic, free dynamic DNS service.

I couldn't find a SCO UNIX updater for, so I wrote it myself. So... here it is for the rest of the world. Just save the following as /usr/bin/
# Script to update DynDNS address at
# LJJ 11/23/2005 - original script
# LJJ 01/04/2007 - added forced updates every X days
# LJJ 01/04/2007 - changed log to /usr/adm/dyndns.log
# LJJ 03/03/2008 - added IP source of
# - added DLOG variable
# LJJ 08/20/2009 - set initial NEXT forced update

# reference URLs

# must first sign up for an account and create a host at (free)
# some firewalls will block, so use firewall dyndns client when possible

# to install, create /etc/rc2.d/S99dyndns with the following line:
# /usr/bin/ &

# do not make SLEEP less than 600 (every 10 minutes)




NOW=`date +%j`
NEXT=`expr $NOW + $FORCE`

while :
# use one or the other
# CKIP=`lynx -dump |grep "."`
CKIP=`lynx -dump | grep "Current" | awk '{ print $4}'`

NOW=`date +%j`

if [ "$DADR" != "$CKIP" ] ; then

if [ "$NOW" = "$NEXT" ] ; then

if [ $UPDT = "YES" ] ; then
DRES=`lynx --dump -auth $DUSR:$DPWD "$DHST&myip=$DADR&wildcard=OFF&mx=mail.exchanger.ext&backmx=NO&offline=NO"`
echo $0\: `date '+%D %T'` IP Update of $DHST returned $DRES >> $DLOG

NEXT=`expr $NOW + $FORCE`
if [ "$NEXT" -ge 366 ] ; then
NEXT=`expr $NEXT - 365`
sleep $SLEEP

sleep $SLEEP

UPDATE: I added a "forced update" feature that I found out I needed for dynamic IP addresses which change less often than every 30 days.
UPDATE: Minor tweaks -- makes the script force an updated on day 21 if needed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Our Urgent Care Visit

So... after our visit last night to the urgent care at Kaiser, Cathy feel a little more frustrated. Do you know that feeling you get when you're tired, you're just about to nod off, and then you jerk back awake? That "nod-off-jerk-awake" feeling is how Cathy's felt for some time now, and yesterday it got much worse. It didn't seem safe for her to drive...

Anyway, the doctor last night pushed and prodded, looked in her ears, took her blood pressure and pulse, and had Cathy do balancing acts. He kept asking if she was dizzy (which she isn't) or lightheaded (nope). Basically, my wife and the doc were not connecting.

Anyway, the doctor ordered a CT scan after asking if Cathy were pregnant. I think CT scans are less expensive than MRIs, although personally I wouldn't like the amount of radiation required for a CT scan.

So, I drove Cathy to work today. I'll probably also pick her up. With all that is going on, I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 6:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

OK, I Have Prayer Requests

So... an update on Cathy and me. We're still hopeful about the next Hep C test and that is five months away.

Well, in the mean time, Kaiser thinks that Cathy has Celiac Disease (basically, allergy to wheat). It'll take a month to get that result. The Hep C treatment appears to have messed up her thyroid, so now it is "hyper." Cathy is feeling tired (physically and mentally) and little things are frustrated to her. The frustration itself is frustrating to her because she is accustomed to being organized and stuff.

Cathys been having this senstaion of falling asleep, a sensation of falling, then waking up suddenly. She describes it as "microsleep" or nodding off, like that shock you feel waking back up. She's had this drowsy feeling... ever since the Interferon treatment.

Maybe it is a vitamin deficiency... there's also a slight scare that it may be MS. We'll get some test results from the dermatology department on the 20th, but the doctor says that if is negative, it is probably a false reading, and we'll need another "glutten challenge" where Cathy binges on wheat and takes the test again.

I'm finishing remodeling the apartment we bought. And I go to work 45 hours a week. And I am taking 12 units at seminary. And I am supposed to be an intern at church (though I feel the church is getting short changed). And I am supposed to be a supportive husband.

Not having the apartment ready, and having to do most all of it alone is wearing on me. Financially, we can't sustain a vacant apartment for another month, I think; we barely made the bills this month. *sigh*... I know things could be much worse, but we could use a some help, so I am asking for your prayers.

UPDATE @ 4PM: OK, Cathy just called and indicated she needs to go to the urgent care but cannot drive, and my mom-in-law is locked out of her car… so, I’m outta here.

Voting on Machines

Here are my electronic voting after-action thoughts...

powered by ODEO

Most electronic voting machines in use today are manufactured by either Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic or Sequoia Voting Systems.

For access security, machines require the voter validate the voting process, either by inserting a card or device given to you by an electrion official, or with an access code you receive from an official.

Direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines record your choices when you touch the screen, so they are touch screen DREs. On other voting machines you make your choices with a scroll wheel, like those on an Apple iPod.

My city used the Hart InterCivic eSlate, which utilizes the scroll wheel and buttons. Let's see... here's voting instructions for the eSlate.

Here's a picture of the button pad on the eSlate.

You move you the screen's focus (the highlighted part) with the wheel and press ENTER when the focus is on your choice, which marks the choice. The confusing part is the that the highlight also stops on titles and descriptions, and (at least at my booth) the wheel took several clicks to advance between choices. I can see people thinking, "ok, I want the next choice.... CLICK ENTER... Oh crud, it didn't go forward!"

Thankfully, there was a long and uninspired ballot summary screen to let you confirm your choices. This is useless without your sample ballot, and they don't have those just lying around. With traditional paper ballots you can look at your choices and review the description of the ballot or office at the same time. *sigh*

I was gratified to see the "secured" printer next to the voting machine. Instead of just telling me my ballot was cast, it printed each page as I confirmed it, which fed into the ballot box. This seemd like a suitable "split the difference" approach to recording my vote, since I see the paper ballot deposited, just like I used to deposit my ballot into a box.

One last confusing thing, though... the "cast ballot button." All this time I have been "wheeeeel, ENTER" and now they want me to "wheeeeel, CAST BALLOT". Well, the instructions were on the screen, at least.

Other thought hit me afterwards... how on earth would you do a write-in candidate? That would be tedious, at best. Not that it affected me, but wouldn't different age groups and cultures be somewhat encumbered by digital voting? It wasn't even intuitive for me, and I like computers.

Overall, I don't mind electronic voting machines; I just don't trust them. Also, I saw too many stations marked "broken", and it took way too long for people to vote. We've used scantrons in school for ages, if we're going to go electronic, just switch to having a scanning machine for the scantrons at a polling location. With some tweaking, hanging chads and errors in voting could be eliminated right there as you exited your polling station, and you would know you cast your vote. There you have it, my electronic voting after-action report!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Thoughts

I haven't been to my polling place yet, but I think I'll be wishing I had gone this morning rather than after work.

To follow up on my earlier post regarding electronic voting, not only do you have to worry about hackers during the election, but you also must secure the voting machines before and after the election, just like you would lock up paper ballots. Ed Felton found some voting machines, unattended, days before the election. And he wasn't looking for them. *sigh*

From TechDirt:
One of the issues concerning e-voting machines, and Diebold in particular, is how they've responded to all the criticism and vulnerabilities -- with the company often being accused of covering up, ignoring or denying the problems... back in 2003, Maryland commissioned a study on the Diebold machines... Diebold demanded two very broad concessions: no source code access, and they reserve the right to redact out any proprietary information... The final "redacted" report came out weighing in at a lightweight 38 pages... Someone high up has leaked the original documents which weighs in at 200 pages meaning that someone (most likely Diebold) was able to knock out 162 pages of info on vulnerabilities... how many of the many, many vulnerabilities discussed in the report were actually dealt with before the 2004 election and how many were dealt with before today's election(?)...

In the meantime, if you're looking to feel confident about e-voting companies and their tech ability, Chief Elf writes in to let us know that he went to check out the company, Advanced Voting Systems, that built the e-voting system he used this morning, and found a nice big error message right on their home page. I just checked and it was still there, but in case they fix it, here's a screenshot. It's tough to trust these companies to build competent voting machines when they can't even correct database/PHP errors on their own website on election day.
From Slashdot:
Neovanglist writes "CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are reporting that voting machines in three states (Ohio, Indiana, and Florida) have already been showing issues, both in the machines themselves and in the training of poll attendants, causing many districts to switch to paper ballots."

So... time to get out and vote. Hopefully, the future will not mirror the satirical sites such as Fix-A-Vote. I'm signing up for absentee ballots.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Keeping Up with Boaz

Here's a quick update on Boaz. He is now very playful and is filled with boundless energy. It wasn't easy to snap these photos! On the left, we have Boaz showing off his little claws, and on the right a very nice close-up of his adorable expression!

Here's a quick video of Boaz playing with the camera strap.