Monday, February 11, 2013


WOW it's been a long time since I wrote a blog post. So long, I see that the entire blogger interface has been revamped. It looks great! I'll have to play with it in my next post. Sometime next year maybe.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What would you do to protect the children?

At the very least, we want to protect the children. We would do anything to keep would-be predators from coming in contact with our children. We would especially keep the most reprehensible child pornographers from having access to any child, and from promulgating their wares abroad online.

What would you be willing to do to stop these villains? Surrender your name? Your home address? Your phone number? These are public bits of information anyway so what's the harm, right? What about your eighteen month web history? Maybe, what have you to hide, right?

OK, how about your credit card number? Bank account numbers?

Well, a bill recently approved by a committee in congress has been approved and is about to be offered up for a vote to become law. This bill will require ISPs (that's Internet Service Providers such as AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, Earthlink, etc) to compile a database of all of its users and record each user's name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and dynamic IP addresses. For eighteen months. As this excellent LifeHacker article points out,

"It's like handing over a year's worth of browser history plus the contents of your wallet to the police. The thing is, you're not really handing it over so much as your ISP is—without your consent."

I would encourage you to read this article as it does an excellent job of pointing out assumptions and flaws contained in the hard-to-argue-with-titled bill, "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" (PCFIPA of 2011), as well as making great suggestions on how you can circumnavigate the potential ISP tracking of your online usage.

Besides the issues and questions raised in this article, I would like to add my two cents.

  1. What happens when an administration decides to track everyday citizens' whereabouts online and upon disapproval, issue warrants without due process? (RIAA, anyone?)
  2. How comfortable are you with your ISP knowing where you do your banking, what investments you have, where you give your money, what political causes you support, what health issues you are concerned with, what careyou're considering buying?
  3. How comfortable are you knowing that not only is your ISP storing a year and a half's worth of this information, but they could turn it over to the government at any point without you knowing?
  4. Given Wikileaks, Lolsec, and Anon's ability to break into or gain access to government servers and gain information seemingly at will, how comfortable are you with your ISP's ability to secure this information about you, your friends and neighbors, and 270+ million American internet users?
  5. Your ISP has to now manage a huge data server farm and its corresponding security. How comfortable are you with all of the necessary overhead that you will now be required to pay for?

What other concerns am I (and the LifeHacker article) missing?

You can read more about the bill here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Be a Successful Worship Band

After years of working with band players in various churches, participating in numerous worhsip services in various churches, hearing worship bands at conferences, and evaluating worship leaders and worship bands, I have begun to assemble a list that aspiring worship bands may find useful in order to be successful. There are some thoughts in this list for most members of the band, though I'm sure I could have given more thought to the Dobro player.

  1. Pick keys that are too high for guys to sing, and too low for women to belt out.
  2. Show off your chops by jumping the octave at a repeated phrase. Make sure no one else can possibly match you.
  3. Shout out "Christianese" phrases between songs. They don't have to fit the context, they just have to sound good, amen?
  4. Work hard at crafting all of your vowels so that you sound British or Australian.
  5. Never sing any melody the same way twice, especially when teaching a new song to the church.
  6. The only dynamic build you can ever use is repetitive eighth notes.
  7. Make sure you rush those eighth notes.
  8. Dynamics only exist in layers. "Quiet" is achieved mainly because only the acoustic guitar is finger picking at the moment.
  9. If you're a keyboard player, try to duplicate the exact rhythms the guitar players are playing, in the exact same register.
  10. If you're an electric guitar player, be sure to use all of your pedals at least once in a set, so as to disguise as much as possible the actual sound of your instrument.
  11. Be sure that your stage volume is so hot that you cannot be effectively mixed in the house.
  12. The form is ALWAYS V, V [add band], C, V, C, C, B, C, C, C, C [drums only], C, Tag.
  13. Never change keys in the middle of a song.
Alright, I've got us off to a good start, there's more, let's add to this list!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I used to be pretty good

While rummaging through my iTunes library the other day I came across a performance of Rachmaninoff's Prelude #2 in D Major. This is a recording of Yours Truly, performing at my senior recital at Cedarville University in 1994.

It's not jazz. It will take some work to listen to. I think this is my favorite piece from my recital. There were two significant challenges in this prelude. First, both the melody and the counter melody existed in the right hand. The challenge was to play the melody clearly while letting the counter melody sing sweetly over it without overcoming it.

The other challenge was maintaining left hand eighth notes while playing the right hand triplet counter melody (about a third in). It's vintage Rachmaninoff, really. I think it's not a bad performance--probably the best one from my recital, and if you asked me, I could not play it for you today. I still enjoy listening to it though.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

How Books Were Made (1947)

It is so fascinating to me to watch this laborious process. In a comparatively short time (since the original printing press) we have eliminated the need for all of these with e-pub books. No printing, no binding, no cutting, no gluing. Everyone can be an author. This comes with its problems too of course!

Take a minute to watch this video:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to Build a Winning Baseball Team

I have to take a moment to say something about baseball. It's been a while. I enjoy the game and the team I have followed since 1994 has been the Cleveland Indians. They enjoyed their big years in the 90s, with sellout home games, and then lost many of their best players to big contract free agency (Albert Bell, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome), or to big trades (Bartolo Colon, Roberto Alomar). They went through their "rebuilding" phase (a term teams use when their players are young and mediocre and they don't really expect them to compete). Well, this season, it may finally be paying off.

As of today, the Indians own the best record in all of baseball, have a 7 game lead in the AL central, and are highest in the league with +66 runs scored versus runs allowed.

One of the ways they got to this point was through trades. Trades of big name players, especially Cy Young award-winning pitchers (two years in a row!) is particularly painful to watch. You're giving up a proven and known quantity for "prospects." (Another baseball term that means "we think they're going to be pretty good.")

So looking at key trades over the last five years, we can see how the current team has emerged. Below is a partial list of trades. Who was traded, and who was received in return. I only included players who are on the current big league 25 man roster.


Eduardo Perez

Asdrubal Cabrera

Ben Broussard

Shin-Soo Choo

CC Sabathia

Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley

Casey Blake

Carlos Santana

Franklin Guiterrez

Joe Smith

Mark DeRosa

Chris Perez

Cliff Lee/Ben Francisco

Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson,

Victor Martinez

Justin Masterson

Kelly Shoppach

Mitch Talbot

So in evaluating this chart, one of the questions we must ask ourselves is, knowing what we know now about these young players, would we make the trades in reverse today? In other words, would you exchange Justin Masterson for Victor Martinez today? Probably not.

Monday, May 09, 2011

My iPhone Tracking Data

You've probably heard all about the privacy concerns and conspiracy theories related to why Apple has been tracking your location data--or at least storing it. The news broke in recent weeks, thanks almost entirely to a couple of researchers who created a little app that interpreted the data hidden away and synchronized through iTunes to your computer.

Using the simple little app they created (read all about it here), I decided to show those who are curious how it works by giving you more than just a simple screen shot of the resulting map that you may have seen posted around the internet.

Here it is, complete with my commentary:

I should mention that there is no evidence that this was ever sent back to Apple, and further, knowledge of the existence of this file is not new information!

Fellow iPhone users, do you feel as though your privacy has been violated?