Graci the Yorkie 2001-2017

Graci the Yorkie has gone on ahead and is waiting for us to arrive.

AKC Emilly Grace Fancy Cake: Sept. 10, 2001 – May 2, 2017

Between September 10, 2001 and May 2, 2017, we had the honor of participating in the life of an innocent, happy and fun-loving Yorkie. Though we may still have other opportunities, Graci will always be loved and remembered.

We take comfort in the words of C.S. Lewis in his allegory The Great Divorce, describing a lady arriving in Heaven surrounded by animals:

“And how… but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat — two cats — dozens of cats. And all those dogs… why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”

“They are her beasts.”

“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”

“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”

I looked at my teacher in amazement.

“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”

We are thankful for the many blessings God has given us, and we now give Graci back to Him for safekeeping with Pepper. Onward and upward!

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I got an iPad. Welcome to 1990.

I’ve been a fan of computers for longer than I care to remember, since Majel Barrett (Roddenberry) was the voice of a talking computer on the Starship Enterprise. Before the days of MS-DOS. When the punch-card reader was still a valid input device. The first computer I owned was a TRS-80.

iPad 2 interface, circa 2011

iPad 2 interface, circa 2011

A couple of years ago I was introduced to the iPhone 3G and immediately had to have one. I’ve been using these little iOS devices ever since, my current collection includes jailbroken iPhone 4 and iPad 2. One thing that’s striking about iDevices is their ease of use. From the first touch, I was somehow already familiar with the interface, though at the time I did not realize why.

Windows 3.0 Retail Box, circa 1990

Windows 3.0 Retail Box, circa 1990

Recently while sorting the bookshelf I came across a copy of Microsoft Windows 3.0 I bought on launch day back in 1990. Then the realization hit me. If you are old enough to remember Windows 3.0 and its Program Manager, you will instantly understand why the iPhone’s interface seems familiar. It’s because twenty years later, the typical smartphone interface is roughly equivalent to Windows 3.0 running DOS-based applications. Consider these striking similarities between Windows 3.0 and iOS 4:

Windows 3.1 interface, circa 1991

Windows 3.1 interface, circa 1991

  • All the icons are found on a central screen or in folders on that central screen (iOS prior to 4.x didn’t have folders).
  • You can only really run one thing at a time comfortably because every app takes up the full screen while it’s running.
  • Some things can run in background, but with few exceptions it’s arguable whether you could call what a minimized iPhone app does “running” in any true sense.
  • Neither runs Flash.

Sure, an iPhone has better graphics, it’s portable and has a touchscreen instead of a mouse and keyboard. But the actual way you get things done is so retro as to be laughable, when you think about it. The interface Apple calls “magical” today, Microsoft did twenty years ago, and has far surpassed since then.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the newest Windows, iOS, and MacOS X on a daily basis, and absolutely find good, valid uses for all of them. The current batch of portable devices are great, but it seems there is quite a long way to go before a phone or tablet can completely replace a “real” computer. I look forward to using the portable devices of the future, when they will inevitably catch up to and surpass their bigger cousins.

Update 2016: I hardly touch the Apple devices anymore since I discovered tablets and phones that run Windows. And iOS still looks antique. And you still can’t get a Mac with a touchscreen.

Update 2019: I have an iPhone again, because Microsoft abandoned the phone platform. iOS still looks no better and Mac screens still can’t be touched. – posted from my Microsoft Surface Pro, a touchscreen tablet with detachable keyboard which runs Windows.

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LiveClock Round Theme

This theme provides round clock faces for LiveClock in black and white. Designed for iPhone and iPod Touch. If you have an iPad, use the iPad LiveClock theme instead.

Revision History

  • 1.0 – Initial release.
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Clockify Pepper Themepack (formerly “Round Clockify”)

This theme is for the Clockify app. If you don’t have Clockify, shame on you. It’s a great little program that makes the clock on the springboard show the actual time instead of just being a picture of a clock. This theme extends Clockify so that if you have a springboard theme containing non-rectangular icons (such as “MacOSX Lion”) then your clock will look better as well.

Round and partially transparent versions of the theme are included, and an Embiggen option that is recommended only for iPads (Use Embiggen plus one of the other options).

1.1b – cleaned up some spurious dots in the image.

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A new name for an old idea.

Occasionally, like a certain former President, I will invent new words. At the risk of being misunderestimated, I would like to throw one of them out there and see if it will stick. It has to do with the strategery of data storage and access.

You’ve heard of “Cloud computing,” in which all your applications and data are hosted “somewhere out there in the cloud” which in reality just means you’re paying somebody to keep it for you in their data center, wherever that may be.

What if you don’t trust a Cloud provider to keep your data private, or to not go down, or out of business? You could decide to build your own server infrastructure for email, documents, whatever in your own house. Then you could (making sure everything is securely password protected first) open up some ports in the home firewall router so that you can get to your stuff from anywhere. In effect this brings the Cloud to your home.

For example: at home I have an Exchange server, a Windows terminal server with Office and other apps, massive redundant data storage (why? because I can!) and a SlingBox. I can access my programs and documents from anywhere there’s an Internet connection using the RDP client on any Windows computer, my iPad or iPhone; get to my email with all those devices or anything with a web browser; and stream the recorded TV shows from my DVR.

Just like with a Cloud solution, none of my stuff has to be stored locally on the device I am using. Unlike Cloud this doesn’t have any subscription or setup costs other than the equipment and software; if you are a computer geek like me that’s what you do for fun anyway.

It can also be more secure than Cloud. You really don’t know who has access to anything outside of your direct control regardless of what their promises are. If somebody wants my data they are going to have to physically break in my house and get it. It won’t be as simple as just abusing the “Patriot” Act and commanding my cloud provider to hand it over.

Of course making sure everything is backed up in multiple locations, in case my house blows away, is at this point entirely my responsibility. Even with a reliable Cloud provider it would be pretty stupid to not have good backups somewhere else.

The same thing that is called a “cloud” when far away is called “fog” when it’s right in front of you at ground level. So for me and the other incorrigible geeks doing this, now we have a word for it. Businesses of course have been doing this sort of thing for years, but until now it didn’t really have a name.

Fog Computing. It’s the Cloud you can touch.

Note: I guess there’s really nothing new under the sun. Before publishing this I did a quick search, somebody else has already invented the term. (unfortunately it looks like they went out of business) But, I didn’t know that when I came up with the idea, that’s what counts. So there.

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