General Learning

StumbleUpon Alternatives for Your Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar

If your a StumbleUpon addict like myself, chances are, you have gotten “You have seen all your topic here pages. Explore others…” as a result of pecking at the “Stumble!” button like a demented, tic-tac-toe playing chicken.
While reviewing more sites can add a little spark back into your stumbles, it’s a bit of a “cart and horse” problem if the main way you find interesting sites is through StumbleUpon. It seems some alternatives are in order. If you are using Firefox, drag any of the following links to your Bookmarks Toolbar:

  1. Random Wikipedia – Wikipedia provides a special link that will pick an interesting article for you to read –
  2. Random – provides a link redirecting you to one of it’s more recently added links.
  3. Random Google – If you have Google Web History turned on, this link,, will take you to a random link related to your previous surfing history. Google provides the same functionality through recent version of their Google Toolbar.

There are also StumbleUpon-like services out there, like SpinSnap and Youlicit, but I like keeping the above links around for a quick, random-link fix.

Learning linux

Dugg up – When old blog posts come back from the Dead

I am on the tail end of the effects of appearing on the front page of Digg. I hadn’t posted in a while (major new job, new church building, new home group, etc., etc.) so I was a bit off guard when I got an email from my shared hosting company, saying they had disabled my front page due to excessive CPU usage (load average of 70, mostly my fault).
Like a good programmer, my first thought was “What has changed?” quickly followed by the recollection that WordPress 2.6.3 had released a few days ago and I updated it last night.

I would now like to take a moment to ask for forgiveness from the anonymous WordPress developers who’s names I took in vain and accused of being far less talented than they actually are. I am deeply sorry and it won’t happen again. I hope…

It wasn’t until I got WP-Super-Cache installed and the site back up, that I took time to look at the stats. Over 8000 hit in a few hours and rising quickly!

Coding Learning

6 Tools for Keeping Kids Safe with Open Source

My family uses open source software almost exclusively. Everyone from the toddlers to the teen to the Mrs. have what they need to play games, chat with friends, manager emails, surf the web, keep busy schedules straight, do homeschooling, and pretty much anything they may want to do.


What I Learned using Linux over the last 10 years

I started using Linux as my primary desktop and operating system in 1998. After brief flirtations with FVWM 95 and Enlightenment, I settle on Gnome (with it’s various WMs over the years ) and Redhat/Fedora (until switching to Ubuntu last fall ).


Uhhh… the sea monkeys have my money…

The last vestiges of my childhood sense of wonder have just died. The have become road-kill on the information superhighway under the wheels of Wikipedia. Let me explain…
My daughter just received a box of Sea-Monkeys for her birthday. The world became a bit wavy as I flashed back to my childhood. Memories of waiting anxiously for 24 hrs. while the “Water Purifier” packet prepared my soon-to-be new best friends’ home. Then peering intently into the Sea-Monkeys kingdom as they instantly sprank to life from the contents of the “Instant Life Eggs” packet.

General Learning

New Years Resolutions: Life Hacking

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m not so much against the January 1st resolutions to do better, it’s the January 2nd failure to follow through that I hate. But this year has to be different. The last year has been one of contestant changes and challenges, adding a new member to the family, new responsibilities at work, at church, at home, and on line. Without a concerted effort to get organized and better manage the little details, 2008 is shaping up to be a real cluster.

To that end, I’ve started to used a number of web services that should help:

  1. Goggle Mail – I’ve been a gmail user for about two years, but just recently, I have begun to use their IMAP and POP3 services to consolidate a number of email accounts I have, including my home account. The search engine makes finding emails a breeze (what do you expect from Google?) and the ever growing list of add-on services and Firefox plugins make integrating gmail into the rest of my life easier and easier.
  2. Google Calendar – another great Google service, makes a good central hub for managing my time and keeping other up to date on what I’m doing.
  3. Remember The Milk – A very cool task list organizer with tons of options for reminders and integration with Google calendar.
  4. Jott – I just stumbled on to this web 2.0 beta – call the “866” number on my cell phone, leave a message, and it get transcribed into text and delivered to myself, a friend or even my Google calendar or RTM task lists.

Integrating these together, I can voice dial Jott, send a task to RTM, get reminders via my jabber account or SMS and view my calendar, a number of shared calendars, and my tasks all together on my Google calendar.
Of course, January 2nd hasn’t come yet, but 2008 is looking a little less chaotic from here…

IXOYE Learning

Divorce is Predictable: Do the Math

While this is a WebMD article, Math May Tell Which Marriages Last, about a book, The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models, written in 2002, the message is timeless: marriage is about the connection of two people being made one. According to the research, success or failure of a marriage can be predicted with a 94% accuracy based on the scoring of negative and positive cues displayed during an argument. Rolling your eyes or being dismissive gets negative points, using humor or a supportive nod results in positive points. Couples with a score of 5 positive to 1 negative points have a stable, lasting relationship, while a ratio of 1 to 1 or less is a fast track to divorce court.
The mathematics put concrete face on something most know intuitively; a marriage full of negative comments, self-interest and disrespect is an unhappy one. God’s Word is pretty clear:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33

IXOYE Learning

Hearing God’s Voice – From the Beginning

Our cell group has begun the ten week series from Mark Virkler and Communion with God Ministries, How to Hear God’s Voice!
It’s based on four, simple principles or keys:

  1. Still yourself down,
  2. Fix your eyes on Jesus,
  3. tune to spontaneity,
  4. and write.

I couldn’t help be reminded of the Kim Hill song, Be Still and Know, based on first part of Psalms 46:10:
Be still, and know that I am God . . .

I have been hearing it pretty regularly when things get crazy or frustrating, I feel the need to remind myself that “God is in charge”, not me, and to take a moment to let Him know that I had forgotten that fact for a while, but I remember now . . .

And I hear that phrase like a little voice, like a tune had just played on the radio, but still lingers:

Be still and know that He is God, be still and know.

It seems a bit strange to consider that the Creator of Everything would speak to my heart in a small, still voice. Maybe a big. booming voice, or better yet, as a message passed on through someone more qualified to speak to the All Mighty. But, then again, His word says that, by my faith, I am in Christ Jesus, and that His Holy Spirit is in me, so I am surround, inside and out by two-thirds of the what is God.

I remember seeing, someplace, how shepherds, when a lamb died, would skin it and wrap a lamb that had been rejected or orphaned in the skin. That way, the mother of the dead lamb would see the orphan as it’s own and allow it to nurse. When the camouflaged lamb had fed for a while, the mother’s milk would have altered it’s smell enough for the mother to accept it as it own, and the skin wouldn’t be needed any longer.

I think God’s relationship with us is something like that: It is only by accepting the atoning death of His Son, by being in Christ, that God can allow us in His presence and it is by the Holy Spirit in us, that we can hear His responses back to us. Perhaps the metaphor breaks down a bit at the casting off of the old lamb skin, for we want to continually abide in Him, in Christ, but I think I get it.

Coding Learning Playing

The Expanding Web

I’ve realized I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut when it comes to web surfing lately. I could probably count on my fingers and toes the number of sites I regularly visit to keep up on events, technology, coding, linux… Luckily, one of those places I check off and on is to keep up with firefox. I recently decided to give the 1.5 beta of Firefox a spin, and while attempting to updated some of my favorite extensions, I ran across one for StumbleUpon a collaborative site review and grouping system that includes a button to randomly pick a site based on your preferences and sites you’ve recommended. Unlike other “random” link systems, this one tends to take you to a quality site you will actually be interested in.
Well, I was hooked, so I installed it at work and at home, but while my bookmarks lists grew in both places, I felt it might be more useful put my bookmarks online so I can share them – enter another website and cool extension and Foxylicious, an extension that make it easy to add and maintain my social bookmarks. makes keeping and sharing bookmarks easy, but it also ranks and list new links and most popular links, as well as popular tags. I can see another time sink-hole opening…

General Learning


I gave my 91Courtstreet WebGUI template tinker-itis so I’m taking it as a sign that I can play with some other tools. We needed an industrial strength wiki at work, so I gave WikiMedia a test drive. I liked it so much I bought… I mean I recommended it for work and left it as the front page to replace my broken WebGUI template. I’ve always liked wikis – especially the cognitive dissonance they encourage amoung leadership-types when told that the relinguishing of control over the quality of information can result in something other than anarchy.