Digital Eagle

October 31, 2007

Computers: Ministering with OLPC

Filed under: Computers — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 11:57 am

InfoWorld asked the question, Low-cost laptops are great, but who will pay? Can I suggest an answer?

I think the Church should pay some of the cost and should take part in the distribution of the laptops. It makes perfect sense for two reasons:

  1. The Bible instructs us to take care of the poor — doesn’t only mean giving money.
  2. The Bible instructs us to spread the gospel — the laptop can be used as a tool to do so.

Think of the story about the lame man asking alms of Peter. Peter says that he has no money to give, but he does have the healing power of Jesus. With that, the lame man was healed, which was better for him than money or food. This allowed the man to work for himself and earn his own keep. (Acts 3:1-8)

One aspect of spreading the gospel is education. How can you read the Bible for yourself if you can’t read? With a laptop geared toward education, the laptop would aid the people in learning about God for themselves.

Finally, the Church already has some means of distribution. Most churches support missionaries in other countries. They already send “support” to them to allow them to spread the gospel. Many missionaries have secular ministries that help them reach the people such as schools and medical clinics. Churches could simply send laptops with the desks and other classroom supplies to those missionaries who have the schools.


October 30, 2007

My Response to Google Gears

Filed under: Computers — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 9:56 pm

I just read an article from InfoWorld about Google Gears.  I have sat on this post for quite a while without publishing, and then, I saw a video called “Gears and the Mashup Problem“.  After that, I had to go back through and kind of re-work the post.

What is Google Gears?

Basically, Google Gears allows you to use a web application off line. For example, Google Reader is one of those applications that uses Google Gears. Reader allows you to track web sites with RSS feeds. I think of it as an inbox for web pages/content. Without Google Gears, you have to be connected to the Internet to view any new or old items from the feeds. With Google Gears, you can connect to the Internet at the airport while waiting for a plane and allow the Google Reader web application save the feed information to your computer. Then, when you get on the airplane, you could read any new items without the Internet.

I should point you to Wikipedia for more information and probably a better explanation.  I have to admit that I am no expert since I have not ever developed an application for Gears or much less installed it at this point.

Comparison to Flash

Flash has been around since 1996 as an addin to the web browser to allow the browser to display animation and fancy user interfaces. In my opinion, Flash extends the capability of the browser and fills a functionality hole the same way that Google Gears does, even though they do very different things.

Now, look at the recent news in Flash arena: Sun and Microsoft don’t think that Adobe should be the only one in the market. Microsoft is working on Silverlight (for more information look on the Wikipedia). Sun is working on JavaFX (for more information look on the Wikipedia or the Planet JFX FAQ or Sun’s FAQ).

If Google Gears is successful, eventually, other companies like Microsoft and Sun are going to create their own version of the extension. Then, everyone is going to have to install all of these extensions to their browser just for normal use of the Internet.

Creating a Standard

In my opinion, an organization such as the World Wide Web Consortium should create a standard storage API that could be built into the browser. That standard should describe methods that javascript can use to save and retrieve information from the user’s computer rather than the Internet. Browers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox should be responsible for implementing these functions and giving the user security options to determine which websites can and cannot store data on his computer. Then, the user would be able to visit any web site, whether it be Microsoft, Google, or other vendor, and use the web application as long as he has a standards-compliant browser.

After watching the video, this idea of a standard has become more important to me.  One of the big issues the video brought out was security.  I would rather have an open standard approved by every one than trust my security to a particular company or two.  It would be great if we could have an open compliance-testing tool that could be run in a browser or other product to validate that it meets the standard’s security requirements.

Comparison to Cookies

Websites have had the capability to store information on browser’s computers for a long time. They do it now with cookies. If you set a preference for a website, the web page can create a cookie on your machine to remember that preference. Some sites use the cookies as tracking devices by writing a unique ID cookie on your machine. That uniquely identifies your machine from then on.

In my opinion, Google Gears is just cookies on steroids. Rather than storing just preferences or identifying information, the browser would allow the web site to store application data from the Internet and give the user access to it when the Internet is not available. I think the key difference would be that the browser would have to allow an offline version of the web application access the information stored on the hard drive.

Fun Fact: Cows Power Laptops

Filed under: Computers,Fun Fact — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 1:52 am

According to InfoWorld, the one-laptop-per-child is looking to cows for energy to power their laptop in developing countries. From the looks of it, they are attaching the cows to a generator that will produce the power the laptop needs.

OLPC experiments with cow-powered laptops … seriously

October 24, 2007

Family Update: Can you identify this friend?

Filed under: Family Update — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 2:21 am

We have been seeing this bird around the house every once in a while. I still haven’t seen him close enough to figure out what kind of hawk it is. Here are the best pictures that I have so far:



October 6, 2007

Kent Update: Catching up on Pictures

Filed under: Family Update,Kent Update — Stephen aka DigitalEagle @ 3:01 am

Sorry, it has been a while since I have posted any updated pictures of Kent.  So, here is a batch:

 We have a new swing in the backyard.

Maybe a serious look, but hey, he was busy!


Kent got some new hand-me-down pajamas — really his first pair of pajamas



Daddy needs to work on his feeding skills!



Kent enjoys rolling on the floor and waiting to be tickled.



Kent looks like he is brushing his teeth — he still needs help, but he knows where the toothbrush goes.



Maybe Kent is a little blury still very cute.






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