Aug
11
2012
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Text messages, and why I hate them.

Actually, “hate” might not be strong enough. Despise? Deplore?

Not all text messages are bad, mind you.

I like texts from my wife. I like texts that are of the “FYI” variety.

It worked! — that’s a good text. It’s nice to know that you got it figured out, and I can feel happy with you and then forget about it without having to remember to do anything later.

Found it! — yep, I can handle that. I might even text you back, “great!

Bob dropped off a check for the website — this is a fine use of the SMS protocol.

What, then, are bad texts? (more…)

Written by in: Business,Technology |
May
13
2012
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Miss Omanson

Linda Omanson might seem very ordinary if you were to meet her in person. She’s good at making it seem that way—as if she were a very ordinary person doing ordinary things. But that’s just part of her persona, part of what makes her so remarkable.

Miss Omanson, born in 1943, grew up on a farm in Osceola, IL. Osceola never was what you’d call a thriving metropolis—not quite two dozen houses, a Baptist church, and a volunteer fire station. Except for a few grass fires, the old fire truck mostly collected dust.

The church was too small to support a pastor, so he split his time between Osceola and nearby Buda. During Sunday school at one church, Rev. Shobe would be preaching his sermon at the other. (more…)

Written by in: Family & Friends,Personal |
Feb
17
2012
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Targeted Advertising

Some people freak out about targeted advertising, but I’m usually not one of those people. I think it’s funny when I get little recipes for spam casserole every time I empty my spam folder in Gmail.

Recently I experienced excessive targeted advertising after I spent 5 minutes browsing dresses on Mod Cloth. For the next several weeks, every place on the internet showed me the exact same advertisement. It showed a peach dress and a yellow dress from Mod Cloth and said something like, “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” After seeing it once I thought, “Those are cute dresses. Why didn’t I see them when I was at Mod Cloth the other day?” I almost clicked, but I was in a hurry.

After my 5th or 6th time seeing the ad, I realized. “Oh, I’m seeing this ad because I visited Mod Cloth the other day.”

After my hundredth time seeing the ad, I was annoyed. I refused to click on the ad or visit Mod Cloth because I didn’t want to teach the system that showing me something a hundred times works.

If you want to learn more about targeted advertising, and the disturbing amount of effort Target has spent trying to figure out how to manipulate pregnant women, check out this article from Charles Duhigg. It’s fascinating. And disturbing.

Why does targeted advertising bother me more when it’s targeted at pregnant women? I think I feel like they’re preying on our vulnerabilities. Maybe that’s because they are.

Aug
12
2011
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On time passing

I felt a bit of regret as I looked through some mission team pictures tonight. I never finished editing the pictures and writing little blog posts for each stop. I don’t think that will happen now.

It seemed strangely appropriate that I was drawn to these two pictures of clocks. Has it really been two years since we visited Vicenza and so many other places with the Musical Mission Team? More importantly, has it really been 6 years since Tim and I got married?

Vicenza clock tower
Vicenza clock tower


Written by in: Shameless Academic | Tags:
May
06
2011
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Do Macs get viruses?

About 25% of our business involves IT–server administration, help desk stuff, malware removal, etc.  I field dozens of computer questions every week. One that I’m getting a lot lately is, “I’m thinking about getting a Mac. What do you think about them?” That is almost always followed by, “I’ve heard that you don’t need to worry about viruses on a Mac. Are they really that much safer?”

In an article called, “Why Malware for Macs is on its way,” Ed Bott makes the same arguments I’ve been making for years: Macs are less likely to become infected not due to superior technology, but because of economic reasons. If you are going to produce a virus or some other form of malware, you want to impact the maximum possible number of machines. Since Windows  has way more market share, Windows is a much larger target.

Quoted in the article:

But most security experts agree that malicious software these days is driven by financial incentives, and it’s far more profitable to target the dominant platform. […] At some point, assuming Apple continues to make appealing products, we Mac users will become bigger targets and face a higher level of risk.

More malware is likely on the way for Apple, but for now at least, your risk of infection with a Mac is pretty low. Then again, the premium you pay for Mac hardware could pay for quite a few copies of Norton Anitvirus.

Mar
05
2011
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Great sermon: “I act the miracle”

I listened to a very helpful sermon this morning while exercising. Maybe it will help you too.

Mar
05
2011
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On strawberries, and God’s goodness

Strawberries are on sale at Aldi this week for 99¢. I HAD to have some.

I went grocery shopping last weekend, before this sale started, so I couldn’t justify another trip to Aldi.

Fortunately, I had an appointment on Wade Hampton yesterday, close enough to the Aldi that I could justify stopping in for the 99¢ strawberries. And the $1.49 pineapples. And the $1.69 bags of grapefruit. After the appointment, I headed over to Aldi in eager anticipation.

I’ve never seen the Aldi parking lot so full. I had to park in the third row of parking spaces, far away from the door and the cart-return area.

“This isn’t going to be pretty,” I thought.

It wasn’t.

You know how Aldi is set up so that everyone has to go down that first row? I think it took me 10 minutes to get down that row. I kept getting stuck behind people who couldn’t decide which cereal to buy, and seemed totally oblivious to the fact that they were causing a massive traffic jam on aisle 1.

It was gridlock.

I don’t know why I was so impatient about getting to the produce section, because  I knew they would be out of strawberries.

They were. They were out of grapefruit, too.

The worst part is that I had seen a truck parked at their loading dock. I knew they were getting a shipment. There was probably a whole pallet of yummy strawberries sitting on that truck or even in the stock room at this very moment. I briefly considered staging a sit-in by the produce section until they brought out my fruit. Then I called my husband (who was at an appointment in Simpsonville), and asked him to look for an Aldi out there.

Then I went to check-out. I figured I should get out of the madhouse before someone took my pineapple.

Since there were more people in the Aldi than I’ve ever seen before, the lines were long. Aldi cashiers are something akin to Olympic athletes, but even they were having trouble keeping up. When I finally got my turn, I discovered that my wallet was missing.

Really? The shopping-cart gridlock and no strawberries wasn’t enough. I had to lose my wallet, too?

The kind cashier pulled my card aside and started helping the next customer while I trudged out to the car to search for my wallet. I was pretty sure that I would find it, because I’d had it just 10 minutes ago. And I remembered hearing a small thud while I was driving. My wallet probably fell out of my purse.

I found my wallet. On my way back through the store, I grabbed a couple of other things that I had forgotten earlier in my frustration with the shopping cart gridlock. That took a while because I had to wait for approximately 3 minutes behind a lady at the yogurt case who apparently couldn’t find the flavor she wanted. Then I grabbed my yogurt and power-walked back up to the front.

And waited in an even longer line.

I tried to distract myself by chatting with the nice lady in front of me (who offered to let me go first because she saw that I was only holding 2 things). Instead I explained what had happened with my wallet, and tried to make myself feel thankful about the fact that my wallet wasn’t lost.

We waited, waited, and finally it was my turn again.

Just as the cashier started my transaction the second time, I turned around, and saw that the person behind me had strawberries. The stocker had just put them out.

Something inside me hit the “despair” button as I envisioned standing in line again (because obviously I had to go back and get some).

The cashier heard me asking the other customer about the berries. “Oh, do you want some? I can add them to your bill and you can just walk back and get them.”

So I did. I walked back and got three beautiful containers of strawberries. I love that cashier.

And I love the God who took the time to remind me that He is in control of everything and has a plan for everything. As I pushed my cart out to my car and back to the cart return, I thanked Him for letting my wallet fall out of my purse so that I would stay at Aldi long enough to get my strawberries.

I’m writing this, because I want to publicly thank God for His loving patience and generous provision for me. God isn’t obligated to show me why things happen, but hopefully this little incident will help me remember to trust Him all of the time.

Feb
12
2011
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Getting things done at 6am

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I’m not a morning person. For as long as I can remember, I’ve done my best work between 10pm and 2am. Nobody calls you, few people e-mail you — you can just focus and get a whole day’s work done in a few hours.

Mornings? Not so much. I’m pretty much useless before 8 o’clock, and whenever possible, I prefer sleeping ’till 9.

So it may come as a surprise when I tell you that I’ve been up at 6 every day this year.* (more…)

Written by in: Business |
Jan
15
2011
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New year, new lessons

New Year’s Resolutions always tempt me. I love making goals and fresh starts. I could easily be one of those people who draws up a long list of detailed and impossible goals for each area of my life.

Ok, sometimes I succumb. But most of the time, I remember that there’s no way I’ll remember a resolution for a whole year, much less keep it.

This year, I made a January resolution. I’m calling it that because it only applies to January. February 1, it’s off (unless I decide to convert it into a February resolution). The January resolution is: get up at 6 am every morning. So far, so good. It helps that Tim is doing it with me, and that we bought a sunrise alarm clock.

A new year is a great time for new lessons, and I want to share a sermon that God is using to teach me more about living for Him. John Dodd preached “Who Lives the Christian Life?” from Romans 6 at Hampton Park on January 2, 2011. I’m still trying to understand Romans 6, but remembering that I am dead to sin and alive in Christ has been very helpful these first two weeks of January.

Jan
11
2011
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Snowy day project–bathroom wall art

Sunday night Greenville received 5+ inches of snow, more than we’ve had in years. Today we enjoyed snow day #2, and I finally tackled my bathroom wall art project.

washcloths and frames

the supplies cost approximately $4

I bought these dishcloths at Target after Christmas 09 (or was it 08?) and a three pack of the white frames from the Target dollar section. Ever since, I’ve been dreaming of cutting out the trees and putting them in the frames. Not a hard project, but I procrastinated.

Actually, I thought I would want to sew around the edges after I cut out the trees, and that’s the reason I tackled it today. My sewing machine was still out (from making rice “socks” and Christmas garlands). I wanted to put it away, so I decided that I should take care of this project first.

After we measured and cut, I decided that hemming the edges wasn’t necessary. The pieces are stuck tight in the frames, and won’t have much opportunity to unravel, I hope.

I chickened out when it came time to cut. I loved those little dishcloths (way too much to use them for their intended purpose), and I didn’t know what I would do if I messed them up and then couldn’t use them in the frames. So I got Tim to cut them. Tim also hung them on the wall. Before you get the idea that Tim really did this project, please remember that I’m the one who found the adorable dishcloths and had the vision for putting them on the wall. I also traced around the glass and made the cutting marks. And took pictures. Anyway, here they are on my wall. Aren’t they cute?

bathroom wall art

here are the trees on my bathroom wall!

bathroom wall art close up

here's a close up of the trees on the wall

Aug
30
2010
2

Blue Screen of Death

You’ve heard of Blue Screens of Death, right? Some people call them BSoDs. They tend to be scary, frustrating, and confusing all at the same time.

You’ve been working on a paper or project (or maybe just playing a game) for hours, and suddenly your computer freezes and up comes this huge blue screen with a completely useless error message on it like “Windows has encountered a critical error and will be shut down.” A few seconds later, the whole system grinds to a halt and blinks off.

Ever wonder why the screen is blue? It’s just text, right? No graphics. Kind of like DOS. But DOS was a black screen with white text.

Why aren’t these error messages black and white, too?

I found out today. This is great. Are you ready for this?

It turns out that, long ago, the folks at Microsoft studied psychology and found out that blue is a calming color. Get it? Ever since that day, those “critical errors” have been calming experiences.

I imagine that future versions will come with a computerized voice:

“Hello. This is just a friendly announcement that you’ve lost the last 4 hours of your work. Hopefully your computer hasn’t suffered permenant damage, but if so, computers are on sale this week for $499 at Wal-Mart. Or, Geek Squad can try to repair it for $129/hour. Please be calm. Don’t worry; be happy….”

See what I mean? It’s the blue that makes all the difference.

Written by in: Business,Humor,Technology |
Aug
26
2010
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AT&T CEO Fail

Wow. I’m really in trouble.

Turns out AT&T’s basic customer service people are better than the CEO. Why? At least they’re friendly.

The CEO won’t help you, and he’ll threaten you with legal action.

That’s right. The story is all over the internet. (How did I miss it?) It happened about the time I first started having trouble with my phone dropping calls (almost 3 months ago!).

So: Juan, Adrianna, Jeremy, and all of the rest of my AT&T friends, I apologize for being upset because you couldn’t fix my problem. At least you were nice. That’s more than we can say about your CEO, Randall Stephenson.

For the full AT&T fiasco history, click below. Or don’t. It’s long.

Part 1

Part 2

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