Archive for December, 2008

Jesus Pwns AKA Christianity is for Rebels, not Losers

Nope, this post isn’t at all about tech, however it needs to be posted, as the person who relayed it to me doesn’t have a blog and the dirt is just that good…

Now you’ve probably heard of “turn the other cheeK” and thought it was a total wuss thing.Real men fight back, right?

Not if they can make the offending party look like complete fools/idiots/animals. A strong man fights back. A stronger man sits there, taking the heat and deflecting it back in the face of the attacker.It’s a martial arts principle; why use one’s own weight in fighting when you can use your opponent’s?

Granted, deflection means you’re still getting a full frontal assault, but doesn’t it feel so much better when the person who’s trying to hurt you makes a fool of themselves? The gamer community has a few words for that: Epic Win for you, Epic Fail for your opponent, p0wnage (and spelling variations thereof) for the amazing irony that is the act itself.

So how does this tie into Christianity? First, let’s examine “turn the other cheek”. From here on out, I’m paraphrasing a paraphrase, so while the content may be profound, it certainly isn’t original…

So someone strikes you on the right cheek, with their right band, basically performing a back hand aka pimp slap on you. It’s a demeaning gesture, and you shouldn’t stand for it, right? Correct. Turn the other cheek. Now before you pass me off as a doormat, let’s look at the mechanics of the next blow, should the attacker take it. Either he uses his left hand for a backhand, or he executes a punch with his right. Going back to the Middle East in pre-modern times, you used your left hand for bathroom duties, so a blow from that hand would be considered unthinkable, something absolutely below the belt. The alternative, a right-handed punch, isn’t dishonorable; it acknowledges the attacker and attacked are equals, not a master/slave situation. So the attacker, when faced with the turned cheek, is basically given a taunt of “come on,make my day”; the choices are to bring you up to this level, bring himself down to an extremely low level, or walk away looking like an idiot. Pwnd.

The second example of basically flipping the bird at your oppressor in an oh-so-Christian way: cloak and tunics.

A tunic is an undergarmant of sorts. A cloak is an outer garmant. Those were the sole garmants of that period for the average Schmoe. Say someone sues you and the verdict is that your tunic be taken. Pretty dishonorable, right? Losing your shirt typa thing. So you offer your cloak as he takes your tunic. If he accepts, he dehumanizes himself, as he’s leaving you stark naked…very bad PR move there. If he refuses, he looks like an absolute idiot, see example one. Pwnage parte deux.

Part three? Walking the mile…

So you’re a Roman soldier. You can pick any person off the street in your empire, except another Roman citizen of course, and make them carry your gear for a mile, a thousand paces or two thousand steps to be exact. Beyond that, it’s illegal to make people go farther, as in major punishment illegal. The logical “back atcha” move here, though it involves carrying the burden for awhile longer…and that burden sure is oppressive when forced on you…is to try and walk another mile. Fearing reprecussions, the soldier has to run after you, demanding his gear be returned him. Again, oppressor Bob looks like an idiot, and you win. Pwnage grand finale.

The common thread here is that the actions of a foe are turned on themselves, leaving the attacker sad panda style, or at least rather embarrased. At each juncture, the oppressor has oppressed, and you’re taking a risk when you make the next move that the loser who made you walk a mile might be callous enough to make you walk another, however at that juncture you’re put in control of your own destiny, with the ability t throw the attacker completely off-balance. That’s gotta feel so good.

Heck, Jesus did some Eppic Wins Himself. In the Garden of Gethsemene, when the Roman equivalent of the junta bodyguard came to take him away, they had to ask which dude was the one they were to capture. When the person to answer was the person to capture, they were taken aback. Here was a man obviously willing to take risks and be incontrol of the stituation, even if that involved making bluffs that would undoubtedly be called, leading to a rather painful end.

Even when subjected to the preferred execution method of the day (you know, crucifixion?), Jesus was in control. His remark that he could dwarf theRoman army (all of it) with angels of his own at a word wasn’t an idle phrase; when you’re the son part of a triune Deity that created the earth the Romans walked on and the atoms from which the soldiers, their swords and their shields were made of, there’s no problem in calling up a few divisions of the heavenly military to clean things up. So yes, Christ was in control. You could say it was defeat, but built into that defeat was irony so strong as to be called…wait for it…victory.

So next time you see a doormat loser with a cross around their neck, rest assured you’re not seeing an accurate representation of the deliciously rebellious faith that is Christianity. Granted, it rests on trust that God will take you through the time in the arena with the lions, but with that trust you can say “I’m not gonna fight, I’ll sit here and pray and make the people who put me here look like jerks\dogs\inhuman\idiots”. And mean it.

Of course, I’d at the same time argue that deathly irony isn’t always a solution (righteous indignation turned a profit center back into the front grounds for a worship center if I recall), and that in another sense Christians are all losers (we’re lost without Him) but you definitely don’t have to be blown in the wind to be moved by the Spirit…

Sorry if you came here expecting to see a tech blog, all tech all the time. To tell you the truth, faith (with a little moderno-retro-techno philosophy on the side) are as integral parts of my life…scatch that, more integral…as the plethora of gadgets that are nicely tucked away or randomly amassed around my aparment and back home in Texas.

One last thing: if you’re on Facebook, I did one of those random posts today about various attributes of mine, or something like that. You know, the questionaires that you take when you’re really bored? Not saying I was bored, but if you know me well enough to be my Facebook friend, and you want a deeper look into the enigma that is moi, click on over to my profile. The note in question is near the top of my feed at the moment.

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What Microsoft Needs To Do With Windows

Yes, it’s a ThePirateBay link. If you feel bad about downloading it, don’t do it unless you already have a valid Windows XP install on the computer on which you’re downloading this for. Tortured sentence structure I know, but it’s 3 a.m.

What Microsoft should do is take this torrent, tweak the ISO just slightly to improve usability (very, very small things like bringing back the SendTo menu and having the option in the context menu to open a command prompt at whatever location), then package it up and sell it to end users via download for $30-$50.

If users want more applications or features, Microsoft should bring back the “Add Features” control panel option, a la Windows 98. This time, however, features will be downloadable online rather than from CD. It’s a 21st century thing. If they want drivers, Microsoft has Windows Update…just get more manufacturer support so all the drivers are in one place. Speaking of which, control panels should be separate from basic drivers; a computer should have full capability to work with no third-party icons in the system tray. None whatsoever.

With a few optimizations, such an OS could run full-fledged in under 1GB of disk space. Well under, even. On top of this platform OEMs can slipstream drivers (required) and crapware (optional, just like the extraneous Windows features) as needed. At any time, aside from required drivers, consumers should be able to distill Windows down to bare-metal elegance.

If you want to complain about user choice and such, the easy way out is to allow for feature installation during Windows setup, which will otherwise be a very short process in such a small installation (five minutes in a virtual machine…more on that later). A la the usual in regular software setups, have “Standard” (regular WinXP if you must), Minimal (Performance edition) or Custom as installation size options on regular install discs, with OEM products built into the standard and available in the Custom profiles. For the $30-$50 version, standard becomes a non-option and custom doesn’t have as many options. Something akin to “Windows Anytime Upgrade” can be used later on if Microsoft wants to charge users to upgrade to a fuller experience.

In case you’re wondering, WinXP Performance Edition runs wonderfully in a virtual machine with 768 MB of memory…it’s fast enough that all but the most graphics-intensive activities feel like you’re using them bare-metal on a system that’s two-thirds the price of whatever you’re actually using. That is to say, absolutely usable, even speedy. This is on VirtualBox, Sun’s free virtual machine product. I have VMWare Fusion on my Mac and stopped using it…VirtualBox plus XP Performance Edition is significantly faster than either Parallels or VMWare running even XP.

The bottom line is this: I don’t thik I’m alone in wanting an operating system that just works. I do’t need bells and whistles, and the OS can look like Windows 98 for all I care (preferably Windows XP in Classic mode with search in the Start menu, however…P PE, but for the search box, does nicely). I just want something that will run any Windows app I throw at it, and that will run that app quickly and efficiently. If I need extra features, I’d like to be able to get them, but they don’t need to come standard. I want a cheap operating system that I can get legally. I want something that will fit on, and run perfectly from, a $10 USB drive.

XP PE pretty much is what I’m looking for, with one problem: it’s on the torrents rather than on Microsoft’s onlinestore page. I do use it anyway, but I’d love to pay for something even slightly more refined.

In conslusion, Windows 7 promises to be to Windows Vista what XP PE is to XP. It delivers on this promise, however that’s like saying your new product is much more enjoyable than a swift kick to the balls…you’ve got a low standard to rise above. Windows 7 is not as light as Windows XP, though it does run better than standard XP in a virtual machine, at least that’s what it seems like from here. In short, Win7 is a big step in the right direction after Vista (which isn’t bad, it just isn’t good enough to go out and upgrade to if you have XP in 99.99% of situations), no doubt. However Microsoft would do well to slim down Windows 7 until it has the same system requirements as Windows XP, or release WIndows 7 alongside “Windows LE”, aka a legit, low-cost, supported version of Windows XP Performance Edition.

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Bitter at C++ for the moment

Why am I up when I have this to study for tomorrow? ‘cuz I’m a bit bitter…

I turned in my C++ final project (an ISP traffic analysis tool basically) two and a half hours late. The reasons were severalfold:

1. Due to waiting on people to edit and (correctly) upload code. Hate to say it but I could have done the edits they did in much less time than they took…

2. Due to ofstream data types being unavailable as members of a class. Due to the requirement to pass them referentially when used. I could have switched the implementation of that whole part of the program to a struct, but we didn’t study about those, so I wouldn’t really know where to start. As it stood, I got very confused, and am now rather angry, at C++. In the end, I just integrated the ofstream in question into the main body of the program, generating maybe 1KB of code that would’ve been unecessary if the language had been just a tad smarter.

Maybe I have an over-inflated ego, but one of the two other people working with me on the project (I apologize to these people if they read this…I’m venting here) couldn’t figure out the solution to the problem, even when looking at it for an hour or two, solid. I looked at it for the same period, but I got an answer.

I have to give credit where credit is due: the other coding partner did a great job of debugging my code. It was a disgusting mess of bugs, I’m sure, when he started, and it was a workable program at the end of the process. From there, he worked on some additional debugging and fine-tuning as his main contributios to the project. Which helped. The other guy did similar, but to a lesser extent. I found myself rewriting a lot of his code so I could understand and expand on it. He’s used to Java…but C++ is my first non-BASIC language, and it looks like I’m picking it up rater well.

All in all, I feel like I spent more time on the project than the other two guys, combined. Granted, this probably has to count the idea/planning stage, in which they didn’t partiipate. I probably made our project the hardest out of everyone else’s. Hopefully it’ll be scored accordingly.

On the other hand, my participation in antoher class, in which I’ll get an A grade, could be contested. In that class I could probably be ranked “average”. Then again, I worked at that class more than I did in a much larger class, worth the same number of credit hours, and in which I’ve earned just as much of an A as everyone else.

In closing, it feels lonely at the top. At least, I feel lonely, therefore I have a sense of being at the top. I’m getting positive feedback on this feeling. And I’m disgusted with the inflexibility of C++ about including output file streams as class member variables. Then again, if I know how to program in C++, I’m able to create light, fast apps, which is what I want to do…

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