Feeds:
Posts
Comments

All you who labor

Do you ever feel weary? Like the weight of the world is weighing you down heavier each day?

There is a personal call to every one of us, should we care to hear it:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Keep in mind that this call is not exclusive to those who are already believers, or to those who are without sin (who could fit that criterion?). It is not a message just for churchgoers or those who seem to have it all put together. Rather, it is to those who can admit that we are struggling, that we need help. How can God help those who think they don’t need a hand with anything?

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. – Mark 2:17

Do you suppose that God will ask too much of you, should you heed his call? Do you worry that you will not agree with everything he says to you? Don’t worry, as Love is his foundation, and he will never lead you astray. He knew you when you were still in your mother’s womb, and he loved you then as much as he loves you now, even as you are! The hardest step is admitting that we need help, admitting that there is someone greater than us who can guide us.

May the Lord guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. Amen!

After getting tired of my old HP inkjet printer, which kept refusing to print due to claims of low ink, I decided to get a laser printer which was “Google Cloud Print” capable. That means it has network capabilities, plus the ability to connect directly to Google Cloud Print.

This is useful for printing from our Chromebook, or any device, really.

I ended up on the Samsung ML2835DW, which I got for under $100 including a toner cartridge worth 1200 pages. The closest competitor I considered was the Brother HL-L2340DW. These seem pretty similar in specs, but I picked the Samsung because:

  • It has an ethernet port, in additon to Wifi connectivity.
  • It has been reviewed to have slightly better image quality.
  • I did not see the same complaints about failing to print via Google Cloud Print when it falls asleep (via Wifi).
  • The Samsung has 128MB of RAM, whereas the Brother has only 32MB

After some basic testing, I can confirm that it works great on Fedora 24 Linux, and setup via Google Cloud Print was very easy. I would caution people that a lot of reviews complain about flaky wifi connectivity, but so far I have only tested ethernet.

Regarding print quality, I have the following comments:

  1. Text quality from Google Cloud Print is sub-par. Fonts are a bit fuzzy (looks basically like inkjet output), especially non-black colors.
  2. Text quality from Linux default, auto-detected drivers were similarly slightly fuzzy. Linux reports the driver as STP04393.PPD / Generic PCL 6 / PCL XL Printer.
  3. When I installed the Samsung driver (ULD – http://negativo17.org/samsung-unified-linux-driver-printers-scanners/), the print quality improved significantly to have the expected laser-printer sharpness.

There is a lot of detail regarding similar GCP quality issues with a similar Brother laser printer here:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chromebook-central/yobFHlFbFgI

In conclusion, I would say that perhaps most or all inexpensive laser printers using Google Cloud Print do not support top-quality rendering of text. As with the Brother printer, I can see that the Samsung only reports the following supported content types via GCP:

image/pwg-raster, text/plain

Apparently the printer firmware needs to support application/pdf as a GCP content type to get good text quality. While the print quality will be good enough for my purposes, and I will be able to print in better quality via my Linux desktop when needed, I wanted to point out that *none* of the professional printer reviews has picked up on this GCP quality issue. Here’s are a couple reviews:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2463837,00.asp

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/review/mono-laser-printers/samsung-xpress-m2835dw-mono-laser-printer-review-3574887/

Given the obvious print quality issues with GCP, I think it would be extremely helpful for professional reviewers to test all printers with at least a rudimentary analysis of GCP output quality. If that spotlight were shown onto this weakness, then hopefully manufacturers would address the issue with improved firmware.

Our God of Love

What is the one thing that we all seek? What fills our souls, what gives us the greatest joy and hope, out of all of God’s creation? Love! The lack of love will drive us to great lengths to fill the void. Ambition, pride, insecurity, despair, hatred; surely these are rooted in a lack of love?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

Jesus wants us to know the depth of his love for us so desperately; God the Father yearns for us just as we human parents yearn for the hearts of our children.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

If our god is not a god of love, then we are following the wrong master. If our god is comfort, convenience, entertainment, or if our god has unceasing demands but no love, we have the wrong god!

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. – 1 John 4:8-9

I recently heard an interesting voice on the radio. It was the voice of Alana Newman, who was talking about the ethical problems with donation of eggs, sperm, and human embryos.

This is not a topic we hear discussed very frequently. Is it unethical to conceive a child and bring her into a family with one or two unknown biological parents? Is it really possible to decouple parenthood from genetics?

She speaks with clarity and conviction, and she is convincing. Her website talks about the harm that befalls the children, who invariably seek out their biological parents. And, unlike adoption, these births are deliberately planned in advance.

Eugenics is a very real and dangerous mechanism is this activity.
http://reproductivetrafficking.org/

I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me. – 2 Corinthians 6:18

The Host: Movie Review

By now I can recognize that my taste in movies will vary year by year; every once in awhile I will experience something which impresses me strongly enough to declare a new favorite. In a culture which cherishes a diversity of intensely personal ideologies, one in which we can shop for someone’s opinion which matches our own for validation, it is difficult to promote one piece of art above the rest.

Nonetheless, my favorite movie of the day is now the 2013 movie, The Host. Not being abreast of pop culture, I was not aware that the original author also wrote the Twilight novels, placing this in the Young Adult category.

I suppose this proves that I am a bit of a sap when it comes to stories. I enjoyed reading Jane Austen, and am currently re-reading Wuthering Heights. Stories of love, honor, and sacrifice always grab my attention. If you want a change of scenery from the everyday blandness of violence, bigotry, deceit, wrath, and disillusionment which pervades our TV shows and movies, then you might enjoy it too.

Fundamentally, this is a love story with a scifi wrapper. Sometimes science fiction stories simply explore technology and the transcendance of the human condition; this, on the other hand, uses scifi as a foil to reflect the common decency and truth which surely underpins all of God’s creation. I would argue that the capability for the purest love truly resides in all of our souls; that this love is proof of the divine ancestry of our humanity.

Perusing a few reviews of this movie, I see that many people find this movie to be slow and underdeveloped in the romance category. However, it is more about the question, “What would you do for someone you love,” than about attempting to describe why or how two people come to love each other. Perhaps people are more entertained by the details of attraction and seduction than about considering the significance of true “agape” love, and the consequences.

In conclusion, this story stands out because of its depiction of unblinking honesty in its characters. Can you tell a story where people are not constantly lying to each other for selfish gain?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

I have read a number of articles on the topic of “net neutrality” over the last few months, such as this one. One of the reasons I’ve taken more of an interest is that I’ve given up cable and switched to Netflix for my TV viewing. The Net Neutrality proponents make the following claims:

  • Large ISPs like Comcast are shaking down content providers like Netflix for big bucks, because Netflix is their competition.
  • Future startup companies will not be able to pay off the big ISPs in order to get sufficient bandwidth, so they will fail.
  • ISPs are creating “fast lanes” for content providers who pay more, but slow lanes for everyone else.
  • Too many consumers do not have a choice in high speed internet providers, thus locking them in to the likes of Comcast and Verizon.

Yet there are a lot of people skeptical of too much government intervention, people who are worried that the government’s erfforts to make things more “fair” will backfire:

  • Netflix accounts for over 30% of Internet traffic in the US during peak times.
  • Netflix is imposing additional costs on ISPs like Comcast, but wants *all* internet users to pick up the tab.
  • Net neutrality is akin to subsidizing high traffic sites across everyone.
  • The free market will allow customers to choose ISPs with better support for their content providers.

On the balance, I am inclined to consider that, much like economics, the Internet itself is not a zero-sum game. The goal should be to improve the system as a whole, so that everybody can win.  The reality is that innovative services like Netflix can seriously increase network demand, which comes at a cost.

Forcing this cost to be shared by all internet participants would increase the cost of an internet connection, just because a lot of people are watching video online. On the other hand, forcing Netflix to pay the ISPs pushes the new costs onto the content provider. I have to say that the latter seems more fair. If it costs $8 or $9 a month to buy the service, that should include the costs of additional network switches and bandwidth.

Self reliance and surrender

I have to admit that I consider self reliance to be a most essential trait. This was critical to the formation of America, and remains a key ingredient to the preservation of freedom. There is a lot of biblical advice about the wisdom of hard work:

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty. – Proverbs 14:23

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

However, we are not meant to put all our faith in our work or possessions:

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” – Luke 12:15

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

Self reliance may help us pay the bills, but ultimately it cannot calm our souls or fulfill our hearts. Only God can provide that sense of purpose and completeness; He is the way to the life everlasting!