Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Before you download Windows Vista SP1

Thinking about installing Windows Vista SP1? I am. It doesn't offer new features or (necessarily) better performance, but it does fix stuff in a neater package. I'm going to back up my data and restore a disk image from my fresh Vista installation, then install SP1.

Anyway, Microsoft strongly recommends using Windows Update instead of the Microsoft Download Center to download and install Windows Vista SP1 on single PCs. You can get the standalone install from the Download Center, and if you are rolling out SP1 to 50 computers, it kinda makes sense.

However, for most of us, using Windows Update sounds like a good idea to me. Here's why:
  • The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x86 is 65 MB (compared to 450 MB from the Microsoft Download Center).
  • The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x64 is 125 MB (compared to 745 MB from the Microsoft Download Center).
  • Windows Update will recognize PCs with known problematic drivers and postpone downloading Windows Vista SP1 until the PC has updated drivers or other applicable updates.
Be sure to uninstall any prior versions of SP1 first.

If something quits working, try uninstalling and reinstalling the driver.

If you choose to install Windows Vista SP1 via the standalone installer, first visit Windows Update and install all optional drivers (see Knowledge Base 948187 and 948343).

And, as always, back things up (you should be doing so anyway).

My mom misses my dad

I spoke with my mom yesterday. Though I still miss my father some times, she misses him terribly every day. It is something that I had not considered before. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Translating Taiwan Postal Addresses into English

I found a wonderful tool for ensuring proper delivery of postal mail to Taiwan. The Taiwan post office has wisely provided an address transliteration/translation tool. If you have the address in Chinese, a properly formatted English address is provided for you.

Taiwan addresses are broken down by county, cities, roads, sections, alleys, lanes, number, floor, then rooms. So, an address (I made up) could look like:
8F., No.3, Alley 21, Lane 31, Chung Gang 2nd Rd. Sec. 2, Puli Township, Taoyuan County 333, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
See why this is useful? :-)

Free e-Sword Greek and Haitian modules

Back when I was taking Greek classes, we were too poor to afford anything as nice as BibleWorks (which is great for exegesis). For my daily Bible computing needs, I used e-Sword.

e-Sword is a excellent free Bible program. The modules are based on Microsoft Access so you can build your own modules if need be. Some modules with copyrighted materials can be purchased from third parties (Rick Meyers, who wrote the program, doesn't sell anything). It is donation based and I believed enough in it that I gave even during our poor seminary days; I would encourage you to donate as well if you use it.

That said, I built several e-Sword modules. For example, I owned both the NASB and NIV in other formats and converted them to e-Sword myself. Once they became available for purchase, however, I could not use them in good conscience. However, the following modules are redistributable.

I put together the Haitian Créole Bible for a missionary brother in Haiti. The install will locate your e-Sword folder and extract directly to it; just restart e-Sword to see the Haitian modules.

When I was studying Greek, I could not find a usable, free version of the Nestle-Aland text offline. So, I found the CCAT text (about NA26 text) and Nestle-Aland 26th edition module (original ZIP package). Later, I discovered that I did not use final sigmas for the text, but I was willing to live with it. A user by the name of Bruno Neuckermans
figured out what password I used and fixed them.

So, if you want the NA26 module, download my original ZIP and extract the contents to your e-Sword directory. You may want to (maybe even should) download Bruno's corrections to overwrite my module. The NA26-.BBL file will give you hints to help in translation, but won't do all the work for you.

This BBL module contains the text with diacritcal marks and punctuation, but not the critical apparatus. You may want to use this in conjunction with the e-Sword module GNT-V for basic textual criticism, but I recommend you buy a hard copy of the UBS4, with the dictionary.

P.S. Even if you re-upload the file to another site,
please link back to this post in case
there are any updates, like Bruno's. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

God provides some things through us

I can't complain about my lot in life. We have much and plenty.

On Saturday, as we left a grocery store, a man and an old woman approached our car, begging for money. He said he was trying to feed his family and his mom. We didn't have much cash to give them, so he only got $3.00 from us. As he guided his mom to another car, I started to pull away but decided to stop. We went back to the man and his mom; we offered to buy him a meal or some groceries and he took us up on it.

His name is Robert. I went into the grocery store with Robert while Cathy stayed outside and chatted with his mom. His family moved here from Philadelphia. He does auto body work and thought he could find a job here easily, like back home. Unfortunately, he can't find work and lives day-to-day. We got a modest basket of food because he does not have refrigeration; I paid and we joined Robert's mom and Cathy.

Cathy had been chatting with Robert's mom and prayed with her. Robert's mom is a Christian, and was very glad for the company and prayer. She's blind (we don't know why) and Robert is the son trying to take care of the family. She thinks her other son, who comes by and follows them around harassing them, may be demonicly influenced. They have it pretty rough.

We left Robert and his mom at the grocery store, heading home with their daily bread.

While it was good to do something for Robert and his mom, it hurt that we have such limitations. But just as we trust God for our daily needs, I have to trust that God will watch over His other children, too. It is not for me to try to do it all, but we'll try to do all that He asks of us, when He asks it.

So, if you would, ask God to watch over Robert and his mom. Thanks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Up and Down, Up and Down...

Looking back over the last year or so, our lives have been crazy, with lots of ups and downs. Through it all, God has been unchangingly good. Thank God!
  • Cathy had Hep-C, but she was healed!
  • Then Cathy lost her job, and we found out Cathy's dad had cancer.
  • We almost lost Boaz because he swallowed a glass bead. But he recovered nicely!
  • Then we got tricked on our refinance into a really high interest rate.
  • But, hey, I graduated from seminary (finally)!
  • Then we had a slab leak, but the plumber gave us six-month terms.
  • And the Cathy's dad was healed! And Cathy got a job!
  • Then my father got sick and died. But I went to Taiwan and was reconciled with my mom.
  • My dad didn't leave a will, so I've got a small hill of paperwork to fill out to try to get support for my mom. But some fellow Christians (who remain anonymous to me) covered the cost of the trip!
  • Now we have to sell our apartment for less than it is worth. We will have terrible credit because we have to do a short sale (where you settle with the mortgage company to pay less than you owe). These days, landlords check credit when you rent, so we'd have a hard time renting. But we were able to buy a RV to live in and plan to use the money savings to pay off debt.
So... an update is LONG overdue.

My Mom: My mom is doing OK. She finally received that 'bereavement package' from the DoD HR department. Dad's bank account has to go through a kind of probate, so mom's not getting that money any time soon.

I've got two forms for her to sign, but it takes so long to mail them back and forth that I was hoping to send them to her as PDF files and cut half the journy. However, nobody there seems to own a printer! Everybody has email and IM (Yahoo! is very popular there) but nobody can print the PDF files. In fact, I had to explain what a PDF file is to several people. Anyway, it is slow going, but it is going.

Cathy: Cathy's job is going quite well, and her boss likes her. That is a blessing. Her health is good.

I'm doing OK. The kitties are cute and the doggy is dogged. All is well, considering!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Selling the Apartment Building

So... we're trying to sell the apartment now. If I had only listened to my wife in 2006 and sold then... *sigh*. But, I wouldn't have met my nice neighbors and I may not have as involved at our wonderful church, and we may not have gotten Boaz and Bubba. Anyway...

So, why? Last year we started refinancing with Purpose Funding. The guy we were working with, Jason, did four refinances in a row with us. In September we started a refinance and he told us to hold off on paying the mortgage as the refinance would take care of it. However, he was slow getting the loan to us and it was almost late by the time he showed up with the paperwork. The rate was much higher than we arranged over the phone, but he promised to refinance it to a lower rate in November and we were stupid/desperate, so we signed. Jason disappeared after that, and when we called Purpose Funding we found out that Jason didn't work there any more and nobody could get in touch with him. So, our mortgage shot up by $2000 and we were in deep trouble. I guess he made a lot of commission or something, but I have a hard time not thinking bad thoughts about him.

We tried to refinance elsewhere, but very few people are able to refinance apartments. Besides, mortgage companies started getting scared about that time. I had called our mortgage company several times since November in order to restructure the loan. So far, no joy. (I didn't realize this, but I must have picked up the phrase from my father.)

The last few time I called, the mortgage company said they just could not restructure the loan. I told the loan company that we are having a hard time paying that much more and we won't be able to make the whole payment; we've used up our savings and even paid a couple mortgages on credit. If it weren't for the extra side jobs I get from time to time, we'd be in really serious trouble. Still, they say they cannot change the loan as it was originated by Fannie Mae and they won't allow a restructure.

So, we have the apartment up for sale with a note indicating it is a short sale. We post what we would like, but the "short sale" note tells potential buyers that we'll take much lower offers. Once the bank approves an offer, we sell and move. If the short sale does not happen, we'll be unable to keep up and we'd face foreclosure. *sigh*

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pronounced Hay-Soos

I don't know why, but this is very funny to me.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pet Pocket: I want one

Zechariah and Boaz would both love this Pet Pocket.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Oops, it is a Leap Year

I spoke with my mom this past Sunday and promised to send her some money. As it turns out, we were broke after paying bills, so the next time we would have money was my paycheck at the end of the month. Figuring it's February, I'd get paid Thursday.

It's a Leap Year. I got paid Friday, which is not in time to wire mom money for this week. Nothing seems to go according to my plans. *sigh*

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mom: she's staying in Taiwa and we're getting along again

For the record, my mom is staying in Taiwan. She's got a coffee shop that gives her enough income for now. It's only subsistence-level, so she'll chew through her savings (such as it is) at a very fast clip. She only needs $600 a month but she makes about $450. She'll need to have it supplemented, but that's where I come in. I am hoping that my dad's retirement pay will be payable to her; she appears to be elligible for about $600, so that would be just enough. It will take months, though, to wade through the paperwork if these forms are any indication of what's ahead.

One reason to stay is that I cannot afford to support her fully. There's not just room and board, but also medical. Another reason is that she would have no social life here. She's only 57 and she is surrounded by what she knows and loves; now is not the time to move her. I have to prepare for that eventual day, though. Besides, we're only recently reconciled.

If the occasion was more cheery, I would have enjoyed my trip. As it were, my biggest fear was my time with mom. As you may already know, my mother and I have not been on speaking terms for 10 years now. It boils down to my failure to be the son she needed; the details are murky and (at this juncture) not important.

That weekend which we visited grandma was another turning point. I watched a painful exchange between my grandmother and my mom. Grandma berated mom for an event from her youth, humiliating her in front of me, her son. I recognized the pattern in our the dysfunctional exchanges my mom and I have had at times. It pained me, but I understand now why we have the problems we do. The sins of the father really are visited upon the children.

On the bus ride home from grandma's, my mother told me she is proud of me; I was there for her in her time of need. For the first time for a long time, I fulfilled a son's duties in her mind just by doing what I knew to be right. In taking care of my father's business, I was finally able to honor my father and my mother in a way we both understood. I take the command "honor your father and your mother" very seriously. It is good to finally be able to do so in a way my mother recognizes.

It is the beginning of something better. I have much to do in the weeks and months ahead, trying to get my father's benefits applied to mom. Ultimately, however, we will be a family again. And that's a blessing.