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Robots and Education February 3, 2014

Posted by regan222 in build, Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, DIY, Educational Ranting.
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It has been a long and tiring first day.  The TCEA 2014 conference is well and truly underway.  I take here a moment to organize thoughts and ideas sparked by what I saw.

First, we need to promote the robot class within the community.  We have a good start with winning third place in the Region X contest but we need to promote the course and its students to the school board as well as the younger classes.  We need people to continue.  We need to generate interest.  We especially need to promote the technology aspects to girls.  They stabilize and moderate the class.  Plus, they travel in pairs.  Like going to the Ladies’ Room; if you can get one girl you will get two.

Next, we need to secure all the funding sources we can find, especially in the community.  We need tech. industry contacts to help with grants and sponsorships.

We need to expand out from Lego, particularly in the direction of DIY (Arduino, Parallax, STAMP,or whatever).  I need to find out what is most useful in industry and what offers the best chance for employment success for my kids and emphasize that.  We need to be relevant.

Finally I need supper and a nap.  I am pooped and over stimulated.  It’s like going to Vegas; fun for a while but soon you get that headachy muzzy feeling that comes from too many people and too many conversations going on at once.  Tomorrow we do Smart Board Content Creation.  See you then.Lego puppy

Technology Addiction and how to deal with it… December 11, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, General Ranting.
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I have just spent the evening, after grading papers for what seemed like hours, connecting every single piece of software I have to every other piece. I can now see google email, calendars, and contacts, school exchange server, email, calendar, and contacts, Hotmail calendar, email, and contacts, as well as my school website share point server in Outlook. I have also connected Microsoft Word to my blog site in order to use it to edit and post blogs entries (if I ever get to write another real one). Having spent a good deal of time and effort tying all these loose ends together I have come to a conclusion. There is NO magic cure for organization. It can’t be done. I use MS OneNote to document my daily activities in class. I faithfully post assignments, notes, and lessons to the school web site. I do everything I can to keep up with myself and I am coming to the sad realization that it is all futile. I will never be organized. I STILL forget things. All my calendars are tied to my phone, Kindle, and iPad as well as my home PC, school, PC and laptop and I STILL let things slip. This is really starting to bug me. Just needed to vent. Also I am going insane from being in the house for 4 days straight. I feel much better now. Good night all.

Relativity and Time Dilation September 17, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computer and Technology, Educational Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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Albert-Einstein-007Some days just seem slower than others. Perhaps there is a reason for this beyond a lack of patience.  During a recent physics lecture I was introduced to the idea of Time Dilation with respect to differences in velocity between two objects.  Albert Einstein, the distinguished gentleman to our left, initially described the effect in his work on special relativity.

For the better part of human history we have considered time to be invariant.  One second is one second no matter who or where you are.  In his paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies“, Albert Einstein proposed and supported the idea that time was, for the most part, based upon one’s frame of reference.  Galileo and others had suggested the idea many years before but Einstein’s work provided the math to support the observation.

An event, any occurrence that can be plotted according to time and position in space, can be observed relative to a frame of reference in Space-Time.  Einstein also defined space and time as two sides of the same coin.  Both are inextricably connected.  Thus an event may be located in reference to it’s location along the X, Y, and Z axis as well as a point along the time line.  Within it’s frame of reference, the velocity of a moving object may be accurately measured and known.

However, if the event is viewed from a different frame of reference it is possible for the coordinates to appear different to the observer.  In effect, the position, translation, and location in the time line may appear quite different.  Time is not a constant.  The new positions in space time may be calculated through a modestly complicated series of equations called the Lorentz Transformations.  Using these equations it is possible to take the X, Y, and Z coordinates and the time line position of an event in one frame of reference and determine the new position in space and time in another frame of reference.  Does anyone else need a Tylenol?

For a practical example, imagine two space vehicles traveling past each other in opposite directions, passing close enough so that both crews have a view of the interior of each other’s craft.  As they pass each other and both crews observe, the clock in each of their respective ships would appear to be keeping correct time while the clock in the ship across the way would appear to be going slower as it passed.  It turns out that not only do the clocks appear to be going slower but they indeed are moving at different speeds with respect to each other according to the frame of reference of the observer.  The difference in time (Δt) for both frames of reference may be calculated using the Lorentz Translations.  Time is not a constant.

There are many consequences to this strange behavior of time.  One of the most interesting is the idea of “Time Dilation”.  As an object moves away from the Earth, for example, and its attendant frame of reference, time for the object remains constant but the time stream on the Earth moves much faster.  One popular example is the “Twin Paradox”  One identical twin leaves Earth on a space ship and returns, for him, a few years later only to find that his or her identical twin is now very elderly.  As the velocity with which the frames of reference separates, the difference in the two time streams increases.

2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

God is not bound by our conventions.  We are not able to observe from His frame of reference.  In a real sense He is just beginning creation and, at the same time, ending it. He moves through time just as we move through space. In a sense we really are “already over on the other side.” If you are saved you are as sure for heaven as though you were already there. We have to read the book from front to back but God can see both ends at once. There is a lesson here somewhere but I am just not smart enough to bring it out.

And Finally…Here’s something we hope you’ll really like August 24, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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This is the final edition of Regan’s Rant on Internet Safety and Security. I would like to warn you about the fastest growing crime in the world – Identity Theft Fraud. The anonymity of the Internet is its biggest appeal. You can be whomever you think you are and no one can gainsay you. This situation, however, makes fraud as simple as introducing yourself to someone. People on the Internet, even good people, are not ever who they say they are. It’s hard enough to get to know a person in person. If all you hear are their ideas and thoughts, without body language, or facial expression, or life behavior context to back them up, then you do not have an accurate picture of the person. Much research is currently being done on the Internet by bringing two or more people together, allowing them to get to “know” each other online, and then introducing them in real life and getting their opinions. They are almost universally surprised when they do finally get to know their “friends”.

Identity theft is defined as assuming the identity of, or representing yourself as, another person for some personal gain or reward. There are any number of reasons for people to do this but the most common is to defraud government benefits. Social Security, welfare, HUD Housing, or any government agency that provides support is vulnerable to this sort of attack. In a recent case in Yakima, WA a man using the identity of a deceased Texas resident was able to get welfare for YEARS before any noticed.  Recently a ring of 5 Russian nationals was indicted for conspiring to sell 160 MILLION credit card numbers.  There are only 200 million or so people in America.  And finally, from our “How Romantic is THIS” file; A couple financed their Disney Engagement trip with money scammed from Seniors online and in person.

Someone goes through your trash and gets a credit card application. They are sent out all the time. They fill it out with a bogus social security number and mail it back with a PO Box instead of the home address. Nine times out of ten they will get a credit card with YOUR name on it registered to YOUR home address. They will max the card, you’ll get the bill and then when it gets declined, find a new “patron” and start over. It is much easier than you think to get a credit card because creditors are desperate to get all the customers they can and don’t often check the applications as carefully as they should.

Social Security numbers on the Internet and the names they belong to go for about $5 apiece on black market web sites. Blue Cross policy names and numbers are more in demand. They run about $600 per number. Quite often you will never know that you are victim of identity theft until something goes wrong. You could be a resident of, and voting in, another state for years and never know it because there is no requirement for any official ID at any voting facility in any federal election. Sometimes all it takes is a library card. If a felon can only get a utility account established in a small town somewhere using your name, then they are set for life. A current utility bill is usually enough ID to establish an account with a “rent to own” facility (you should not use these) and then once they have established themselves as YOU, the sky’s the limit. You will start receiving collection calls from people and companies you have never heard of. Your utilities may be disconnected and various items may be repossessed. Your income tax refund or paycheck can be sequestered. All in all, a bad day.

Security measures to prevent this sort of thing are simple. Invest in a cheap Office Depot cross-cut shredder and use it. Keep things like credit card offers, utility bills and receipts, old bank deposit slips, in fact ANYTHING with your name and address that could be used to do anything needs to be shredded. DO NOT JUST TOSS IT IN THE TRASH. There are fortunes to be made for persons with no morals and little hygiene. If you are willing to crawl through a little garbage at the dump then you can find all SORTS of useful things. It is VERY common for thieves to drive around in front of the garbage truck rounds and check out dumpster to find whatever documents the household may have thrown away. As most trash rounds are during the business day, you will never know they were there until you start getting bills.

Don’t post anything online that a friend of a friend might see. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Recent research has shown that a great majority of people respond to friend requests on social media almost automatically. Everyone I have asked has at least SOMEONE on their friend list that they really don’t know. “It said he was friends with a friend of mine” is the common response. Never do they realize that the goal of a fraudster is to get a friend relationship with one person and use that person’s friend list as their fishing ground. Facebook goes so far as to SUGGEST people for new members to friend. Talk about making life easy for the crooks. Be SURE you know who your friends are. The best online friends are people you already know.

Disinformation is still your best tool. Don’t give out your real birthday. Don’t put addresses in your profile. Don’t even list your home town. The less you give thieves, the harder it is for them to work. Choose an online name and make sure it is not traceable to your real name and address. TURN OFF geo-tagging in pictures that you post. Do you really WANT to tell a predator that your toddler plays at a certain park in a certain area, every Tuesday? If you are going to post a trip destination online, make sure you are already home first. Then you can tell everyone how great a time you had and not worry about someone taking that opportunity to clean out your house.

These are just some ideas. You can most likely come up with many more on your own. Research identity fraud on the Internet. Know exactly WHO your kids associate with online. Be aware that, just like anywhere else, the Internet is a place where hazards are. Now you know…an knowing is half the battle. (Does anyone remember that commercial or is it just me?)

OK So Now What Do We DO About It? August 22, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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Yesterday I began a diatribe on the dangers of the online community. I think it only fair then if I offer some advice about handling the perils of the cyber-world. There are many different strategies that can be effective. What I suggest is just a compilation of the most common and useful.

The first and foremost strategy is the universal mantra of any system of self-defense. Be Aware of your surroundings. You can’t go wrong if you pay attention. Are you on Facebook? There are certain ads or offers you need to avoid. Are you posting an image? Is it one you want your Gran’mother to see? Are you making a brilliant political observation on Twitter? Would you mind if your boss read it? Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing. You wouldn’t walk down a dark city street without looking around. Why should you do that on the Internet.

Rule Two says, “They don’t need to know everything about you.” Would you consider yourself a Facebook customer? Guess how Facebook considers you? You are INVENTORY. Just like those cheap plastic dish mats at Wal-Mart or the cheapie low budget DVD section at Hastings, YOU ARE PRODUCT. What are they selling you ask? Why, they are selling YOU. Your name, address, phone number, likes, interests, web browsing habits, shopping habits, spending habits, credit history is ALL for sale. One of the fastest growing industries today is data mining. Facebook is classified by the Federal Government as a data mining company, NOT a communications service. Every time you add a movie that you liked or enter your job or education level into your profile you are paying them. They take this information and sell it to people like Amazon or any other online marketing presence so that they know what to sell you. Have you not noticed that when you buy something on Amazon, the ads of Facebook immediately change to whatever it was you last bought. Advertising is being targeted at you based on your life. Search for something on Google and see if they don’t start targeting those items to you in the ads on Facebook or Twitter. Its a network. They are all connected and the sole purpose is to get you to spend money. As far as it goes, this is not a bad thing. However, if you are looking for a job and your prospective boss purchases information about you it can directly impact your chances. According to the Bureau of Nosy Statistics, 67% of employers have passed over a candidate THIS YEAR alone for information they obtained online without that party’s knowledge. The upside is that a like percentage of employers have hired people because they were impressed with their online presence. If you are posting pictures of your latest drunken spring break shenanigans in Mazatlan, which group do you think you will fall into?

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to present calculated disinformation to the machine. Make up a birthday, for example. A prospective employer finds your profile at MadamSpanksalotsFreakyFetish.com but because he can’t recognize you behind that rubber gas mask and the birthday is different from what is on your application they can not use that against you. Don’t fill out ANYTHING with your correct name, birthday, place of employment, religious affiliation, or other things that can impact a person’s opinion of you unless you are comfortable with the consequences. This is ESPECIALLY important for children and teens. Predators of all kinds search social media constantly for personal information that they can use to get an inside track on your children. People who know you in person will already know what your birthday is and will likely not send you a card anyhow. Internet people don’t NEED to know. They are not going to send you a card either. People you have been chatting with for three months are NOT your friends. Don’t tell them that you are “at the movies” or any other status like that. What you are really posting is “my house is empty, please come and steal my stuff.” This is especially bad if you have your address or home town posted as well. Would you take out an ad in the local paper saying “We are on vacation and won’t be back for a while? Why would you do that online where people actually READ the stuff?

Rule Three is KNOW HOW TO USE WHAT YOU HAVE. This is VITAL for parents of teens with smart phones. You need to be able to pick up your kid’s phone and know immediately who they have been texting, calling, or posting to. You need to know EXACTLY what pictures they have posted and to what services, and you need to know what web sites and chat rooms they visit. Learn the lingo. If you are looking at your children’s text history and you see someone sending GNOC to your daughter, and her reply of CD9, you have a problem. He just asked her to get naked on camera and she, rather than screaming and throwing the phone in disgust, told him that her parents were in the room. This is not a good sign. This link will take you to a dictionary of common texting terms. It would not hurt to look.  According, once again, to the Federal Agency responsible for keeping up with stuff like that, 70% of ALL teens are involved in sexting.  (If you don’t know what that is, ask your teenager.  I promise that they will.)  51% of high school girls have sent a sexually explicit photo to a boy in their class.  It happens daily.  It happens in big cities and little country towns.  It happens in California and in the Bible belt.  The WORST thing you can do is think that your kid is not involved.  In many areas it is a rite of passage in MIDDLE SCHOOL for girls to send topless pictures to boys they have a crush on.  Other GIRLS pressure them into it.

Rule Four; if you choose to purchase online, buy from a reputable dealer.  If you buy from an individual, use a certified and reliable “go-between” like eBay.  I know that 1000 Megawatt laser on Wild Weasel’s Laser Emporium looked cool but if they ask you for a credit card and don’t send you to a secure site (https: and not http:) then you need to give it a miss.

Next, DON’T store password in your device, especially a phone.  They get lost all the time.  If someone finds it and browses to your amazon account, your stored password in a golden ticket to max out your credit card.  Don’t take online marketing sites up on their friendly offer to establish an “account” to make purchases easier.  You enter your payment information once and then you can “one click” purchase items.  This is a recipe for disaster.

You really don’t need me to tell you these things.  All you have to do is pause and think for just a moment before you post, blog, or buy anything in the virtual world.  Make sure your children a emotionally and mentally mature enough to handle the responsibility and temptation of Social Media before you send them out the door with a smart phone and unlimited data plan.  Remember that ANYTHING you put into a digital format of any kind and post anywhere is suddenly public domain.  There is no such thing as privacy.  By posting it you agree to whatever terms and conditions the website owner can dream up.  There are no rules.  It can be fun or dangerous depending on you taking responsibility for yourself and your family.  Tomorrow night we will discuss identity theft and geotracking in photos.  See you then.

And Now for Something Completely Different August 21, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, News and politics, Religion, Science and Technology.
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My hovercraft project is on hold for the moment. I would like to rant about something else near and dear to my heart. I spent the day having information thrust upon me in the form of Teacher In-Service Training. Every teacher in Texas gets a certain amount of it each year before school starts and usually it is viewed as an interruption to the all-important job of getting the room ready for the new year. This day and this particular training were the exception.  We, the faculty and staff, were addressed by a fellow named Mark Seguin from TBG Solutions.  He is a risk management consultant who specializes in Internet and Social Media.  To say the least I was impressed.

Ordinarily I feel pretty comfortable with Social Media and my involvement in it.  I am aware of the risks more than most people because of my interest in and affinity for all things technical.  I have been in the computer business for 15 years and the software development trade for 5 years.  I do my best to stay abreast of new developments simply because I enjoy technology and electronics.  When I say I am aware of the risks it is because I have conducted similar classes myself for various and sundry groups.  I am not sure if it was his presentation style or some bits of new information presented in a way that really made me think but this, I feel, was NOT the usual waste of time that I ordinarily view corporate training sessions as.  Having said that, I would like to share a bit of what he presented for the benefit of my readers.

If you are reading this then it is likely you are at least moderately familiar with technology in general and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, Linkd-In, et al.) and its use.  Firstly, know that I am a fan and advocate of Social Media and I believe that like all technology, it is neither good nor bad, but merely a tool to be used or abused.  Social Media can bring worlds together or it can tear worlds apart and all with the click of a mouse.  If you choose to involve yourself then you should know how to protect yourself and your family from the people who would abuse it.

As Americans we have an often misplaced faith in the world around us.  For a country so determined to leave religion behind we take a great many things for granted.  We believe that bad things won’t happen to us.  After every hurricane we see people in Florida on the news programs who are amazed that their homes were just destroyed by a storm.  It happens every year and yet people are still surprised.  People in Southern California can’t believe it when an earthquake or mudslide devastates their town.  Meanwhile people still keep building houses on Florida beaches and California hill-sides.  We have built a huge and very fragile web of interconnected pieces that can come crashing down with the slightest ill wind and yet we are still surprised when it happens.

The Internet and cyberspace are no exceptions.  Everywhere we go, in the cyber-world or the real world, there are people who are willing and able to exploit some aspect of our lives for their own gain.  Be it money, sexual gratification, or just some twisted sense of superiority, some people will try anything to take advantage of others.  The anonymity of cyberspace makes it a particularly tempting target.  You can be whomever or whatever you want.  Wanna be a werewolf or an elf or your favorite anime cat-girl, there are places to do that online.  If you are ordinarily a shy and withdrawn person, the Internet is a place where you can be wild in the extreme.  Cyberspace is the last frontier and possibly the last bastion of freedom in America.  You can be a preacher, a teacher, or a writer using nothing but a network connection and your own ability to share information.  However, you can also be a racist, a pervert, or a thug and it is very difficult if not impossible for the consequences of those actions to come home to roost.

The Internet is often compared to the Old West in American History.  Civilization was a long time in coming to the western half of the country and people were obliged to fend for and defend for themselves.  Some thrive in this environment and become more than the sum of their parts.  Others see this as an opportunity to exert power over the people around them.  Everyone was expected to carry a gun and if you carried one you best know how to use it.  There were often no police or public services to depend on.  If you had no food you starved.  I will not be drawn into a discussion of survival of the fittest but suffice it to say that people were expected to be responsible for their own lives.

In our real world today, personal responsibility is a dirty word.  We trip over our own feet and fall down in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Do we brush ourselves off, laugh at our own clumsiness and get on with life or do we sue everyone from the owner of the parking lot to the construction company who paved it to the street light vendor who made their lights too bright?  Pedophiles, alcoholics, rapists, drug addicts…no one is too blame for their condition.  It is society, the school, the church, the police, the government,  SOMEBODY ELSE!  We are pampered and policed and politely herded through life like sheep until we go online.

Have you ever gotten an email from someone purporting to be an African banker, British Solicitor, or French Lottery Official?  They want you to contact them about an inordinately large sum of money that you have received.  They only need a bank account and routing number to deposit untold riches in your name.  You have received those emails.  I have received them.  Everyone you know, with an email address, has received them.  Guess what???  If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t keep sending them.  Has anyone ever created a Facebook or Twitter account in your name and then said mean and hurtful things to your friends while disguised as you?  It happens thousands of times a day, every day.  Girls from 9 to 90 (well maybe not that old but you get the idea) are being persuaded to post incriminating pictures of themselves to online suitors who promise faithfully that NO ONE will EVER see it but them.  Yeah Right!  And then they are amazed when those pictures show up at school or at their work place.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here??

I am not an advocate for Internet censorship but I DO promote responsibility for your own actions.  If it sounds too good to be true, it IS!!  If you are not 100% sure of something DON’T DO IT!  That is the first rule of the Internet.  What’s online is just that….public…online…out of your control.  If you absolutely MUST post naked pictures of yourself then expect them to be seen by everyone you know and many more people you don’t know.  If someone promises to send you a million dollars by electronic transfer to your account, don’t be surprised when your debit card is declined the next time you pull up to an ATM because there is no money in your account.  You wouldn’t give that information to some stranger on the street but you were more than happy to email it to someone from Nigeria just because they PROMISED they were on the level.  P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute.”  I am beginning to think he underestimated. <to be continued tomorrow>

 

DIY Hovercraft Day 2: Do you have the Guts?? August 13, 2013

Posted by regan222 in build, Computer and Technology, DIY, General Ranting, hobby, hovercraft, Science and Technology, Sculpt.
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Why yes, thanks for asking, I DO have the guts. I salvaged an old toy class RC car and now I have a drive motor for the directional fan as well as a servo to swing that fan from side to side. They are already hooked up to a 27 MHz radio receiver and I also have a radio transmitter that talks to them. I have all the pieces in place to build my hovercraft. Now I just need to figure out exactly how to mount the servo, directional fan/motor, and batteries onto the chassis. Tomorrow I will work out those details and then take a moment to paint before I hook everything up.

Before

Yeah…I know it seems kind of a shame to take apart such a classic example of American er Japanese know-how.  But it only cost $9.00

 

after

And after some minor surgery we have a 7 volt motor, a servo, and a 27 MHz receiver along with various gears and bits to mount onto the hovercraft.

 

Remember to feel free to comment (constructively) as the project moves along.

DIY Remote Control Hovercraft August 12, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, DIY, hovercraft, Science and Technology.
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I became interesting in building a remote control vehicle when I purchased a remote control robot as an example tool for my high school robotics class.  (I teach Robotics and Automation among other things.)  I have a Netduino board available to use a control feature but I decided this time to salvage a few radio control toys to get the servos and receivers and remotes already built.  Radio Shack had a clearance on remote control cars and so I spent $20 and got four of them.

Step I: Design and Planning:  This is NOT my favorite phase.  I looked around the Internet for ideas to steal…er I mean…inspire me and came up with the following:
a.  The chassis should be constructed of Styrofoam.  It is relatively easy to work with (yeah right) and light-weight so it should not require a huge amount of power to achieve lift.  The chassis should be basically vehicle shaped.  I am not saying exactly WHAT vehicle it is shaped like but hey…its the first thing I ever sculpted so give me a break.  I glued 4 large pieces of Styrofoam (about 18″ x 24″) into a block and then used a combination of hot wire and serrated knife to sculpt the general shape.  I used an ordinary power sander to smooth things up a bit.  It could look better I know but I suspect this will work.

b. The lift motor should be a 5″ computer fan that I had laying around.  It is 6 volts and 380 mA and runs at about 2000 rpm.  I think it will provide enough lift to get the vehicle up and floating.

c. The skirt will be made of green garbage bags cut and hot glued into a relatively air holding skirt.  I have not begun this phase of construction yet and so it is open to debate.  (Anyone have any suggestions?)

d. The directional control will be provided by one or possibly two 7v DC hobby motors mounted on the steering servos of my salvaged remote control cars.  The DC motors provide the push and the servos listen to the remote and rotate the motors to provide steering.  The motors are not heavy and neither are the servos.  I should have plenty of power in the lift fan to support the chassis, motors, servos, receivers, skirt, and assorted wiring.  If not I can always find a bigger fan or motor to lift with.

Today I shaped the chassis and carved a place for the motor.  Pictures below are of what I have so far.  Please feel free to comment constructively (Telling me what a terrible sculptor I am is NOT constructive) and offer suggestions.

bottom view front view side

 

 

The Great Social Network Debate…or “Excuse Me but your hash tag is all over my twitter feed” August 11, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Religion, Science and Technology.
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I would like to change gears tonight. A debate is raging across the ecumenical landscape of America today. It has to do with the appropriateness of Social Media as a witness tool. The old-line traditionalist says “Twitter is of the Devil and has no place in church work. Anyone who uses it is doomed to spend eternity tweeting weather conditions from the pit of Archon.” On the other hand, the post-modern wire-head believes that Facebook is the only way to contact the lost and that most likely Jesus would have had a better reception for his Sermon on the Mount if James and John had run a live commentary podcast while it was being delivered. Who is right???
The Bible tells us that salvation comes by grace through faith but begs the question…
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
Without a contact of some kind there is small chance that someone would believe. Cognitive thought is based upon the framework of language. One may be emotionally lifted by a moving melody, or inspired by a beautiful landscape but in order to believe, we must have a template to hang our faith on. I would go so far as to say that without some frame of reference to hang the abstract construct of belief on, there could be no belief. Language provides the framework.

Christians have been using Social Media for many years and likely most did not realize it. Have you ever handed out a tract? A short presentation of the Gospel in some format that people can read and understand. How is this different from a Facebook post or tweet or blog entry? The only difference I can see is that a paper tract reaches only a few people at a time and most likely ends up taking up space in a landfill. A Facebook post or blog entry may reach thousands if it is shared and it requires no effort at all to create. Social Media does indeed have a place in evangelism.

However, and you knew there was a however, right…The impersonal nature of social media and its isolating factor can be a huge hindrance to the work of the Lord. We post spiritual missives and trite platitudes and never consider the human condition of our audience. Part of the power of the message we preach comes from relating our own personal experience. That’s why they call it witnessing. We are telling others what happened to us, what we saw or felt or experienced. This is the most powerful message we can bring. It is hard to be truly passionate about something second-hand. Social Media can take away the personal touch and passion that helps others know that what they are hearing is the truth. When we believe others can hear it in our voice and see it in our eyes. It gives the message credibility.

In short we must reach a balance when dealing with Social Media as a witness tool. It can spread the Gospel to many people at a time and it can inspire and uplift but it can never project the sincerity of a believer sharing his experience with the Lord. Every tool in a toolbox has a task. We must make sure we are using the right tool for the job and we should not judge others on their choice of tools. We are known by our fruit. The Lord’s word will never return void or empty. A word spoken for the defense of the faith is never wasted but neither should we cut ourselves off from the world. Jesus was the friend of publicans and sinners. His message was always delivered in person. We can’t afford to let that aspect of ministry slip or we will be less than what we could be.

They’re Coming to Get You Barbara July 5, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computer and Technology, General Ranting, Generate Wealth, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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Let me begin by making it clear that this is not a sermon in any way.  It is merely a question.  I have heard, all my life, various and sundry ideas or theories about vague shadowy secret organizations, who, in one form or another, were controlling the course of the world and its great mass of sheep-like people for their own greedy ends.  Like most moderately intelligent folks I dismissed these ideas on the grounds that the logistics of managing a secret world government and keeping it secret, would at the very least, stretch the bonds of human ability to the breaking point.  There are just too many moving parts necessary for it to be possible…or so I had always thought.

Today I watched the video that I have embedded into this post.  It is a fairly long movie but the general premise is that a shadowy group of power brokers and elitist businessmen are secretly controlling every aspect of American, and indeed World, government.  It would be wise now to pause and spend the next hour or so viewing the video to be able to give this post a fair hearing.  You should probably view the movie quickly in case there is something to this theory. They (the all-powerful and invisible they) will probably not let the video remain online once it is discovered. According to the film, a consortium called the Bilderberg Group is forming, or has already formed a shadow government dedicated to destroying civil liberty, national sovereignty, and the basic rights that we as Americans have come to enjoy (and take so much for granted).  These world political and business leaders are using their positions as bankers and policy makers to initiate a vast plan of government and economic manipulation designed to bring the common people of the world into slavery (or at least serfdom) under a single world government.  Through the principles of Eugenics they are even conspiring to breed the common man (and woman) into a docile population of pliant worker drones.

The existence of the Bilderberg Group is not a myth.  The link I have provided is to a Wiki that lists the members and where they may be found.  The page should open in a new tab or window so you can check it out and then keep reading here.  The purpose, after all, is to provide me with an answer to my question.  You will recognize many of the names and positions.  The group holds meetings every four years.  With each member, the years which they have attended are also listed.  The meetings have reportedly been held since 1954 and are conducted under the utmost secrecy and security.  Even the American Secret Service is supposed to be involved in securing the sites.1 The buildings where the meetings are held are simply thick with ex military types in sunglasses and ear phones, each carrying more firepower than an entire platoon of infantry.

The group is, according to the film, an offshoot of the old Rothschild/Rockefeller conspiracy. Its manipulations are traced all the way back to feudal Europe and it is blamed for starting or at least encouraging every major war since Napoleon met Wellington. I have heard many different variations of this same story over the years, and , once again, had dismissed them all. The Rockefeller and the Rothschild families were in cahoots with everyone from the UN to the Illuminati. Every single influential person on Earth was considered a member or had been co-opted by the vast wealth at play here. Groups like the Masons and possibly even the Mooses are their tools and leg-men, and they have predetermined the results of every major election in every country in the world since Greece. These guys could give statecraft and treachery lessons to Machiavelli and are so stealthy that the combined might of the world’s intelligence agencies can not even find of whiff of their nefarious machinations. The video puts them behind every major event in our culture from World War I to the instigation of the Trans-Texas Corridor and NAFTA. Anyhow, you get the idea. These guys are good at being bad.

Now to my question. As stated, I had dismissed the very idea of something this involved and complex as being beyond human capability. I acknowledge the existence, or at least the possibility of an antichrist figure in the world who will bring everyone under a single rule but I believe his rule will not be the result of a long-term conspiracy coming to fruition. It will be, rather, as the result of foolish people being fooled by what they see. Satan himself might be able to pull this off but, as often as not, his servants get in each other’s way and do harm to their own cause. (“Oft evil will shall evil mar” – Théoden King of Rohan) And yet, as I look around me I can begin to see why people could think that some great evil is responsible for the World’s ills. Too many things are synergistically working against us. Bizarre and wacky political decisions are the norm. We allow ourselves to be anesthetized by celebrity gossip and “reality” TV while real issues go unresolved and often, unreported. I suppose then, my question is…Is it real? Do the theories and ideas I have so long laughed off and ignored, have merit? IS SOMETHING GOING ON WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT??? What do you think? This one time I would like to see comments (well thought out opinions only please and be ready to cite sources (or at least sites) to back up your ideas. Is the IRS about to become the new Gestapo? Is the UN in charge of the New World Order? Somebody introduce me to the new Boss. Is he the same as the old Boss?? By the way, if you are a member of this secret society and are reading this, please don’t have me executed. I just wanna know who to salute.