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LOST, Henri Nouwen and Anchors

From Henri Nouwen’s classic, The Wounded Healer:

A man can keep his sanity and stay alive as long as there is at least one person who is waiting for him. The mind of a man can indeed rule his body even there is little health left. A dying mother can stay alive to see her son before she gives up the struggle, a soldier can prevent his mental and physical disintegration when he knows that his wife and children are waiting for him. But when “nothing and nobody” is waiting, there is no chance to survive in the struggle for life.

On the morning of the “LOST” season premiere, Henri Nouwen brings our attention to the “anchor.” Desmond had Penny as his anchor as he tumbled through space and time. It kept him sane and alive.

I think one of the most important questions we must answer as human beings is, “Who is my anchor?“ (And please, let us answer this question with the assumption that Christ, first and foremost, is our anchor. This is a given. In other words, it’s okay to have a real, flesh-and-blood person as your anchor.)

Anchors keep us sane. And alive. Both are beneficial for the optimal living experience.

A Quick Way to Get Started With Google

I’m in the process of tracking down (and attempting to secure) all of the “JustinWise” user names across the interwebs. I’ve already landed the ones that matter most:

But a few important ones have eluded me. Namely, my Google account and subsequent Gmail address.

Back in 2006 when I set things up, “JustinWise@gmail.com” was already taken, so I had to settle for “Justin.M.Wise” instead. Not a big deal, but frustrating to my need for consistency. (Fun Fact: The “dot” in your Gmail address is optional. “Justin.M.Wise” and “JustinMWise” both go to the same place: My inbox.)

Every now and again I’ll check to see if “JustinWise” has opened up, but never could find an easy way to check Google without having to go through the registration process.

Enter this wondrous link: https://www.google.com/accounts/CheckAvailability?Email=YourUserName

It bypasses the whole registration process. It tells you, plan and simple, if the name you want is available. All you have to do is replace “YourUserName” with the one you want and it checks for you.

Bam.
Done.

So if you don’t have a Gmail or Google account, or if you want to see if your desired name is open, check out the link and hop on board.

WordPress 2.9 is Mighty Fine!

If you’re running WordPress (like this blog is), chances are you’ve noticed that there’s an update out. WordPress 2.9 is now available for download.

Here’s a quick video running down the features. If you’re at all interested in WordPress, it’s worth the watch.

Main Feature Updates (from WordPress.org)

  1. Global undo/”trash” feature, which means that if you accidentally delete a post or comment you can bring it back from the grave (i.e., the Trash). This also eliminates those annoying “are you sure” messages we used to have on every delete.
  2. Built-in image editor allows you to crop, edit, rotate, flip, and scale your images to show them who’s boss. This is the first wave of our many planned media-handling improvements.
  3. Batch plugin update and compatibility checking, which means you can update 10 plugins at once, versus having to do multiple clicks for each one, and we’re using the new compatibility data from the plugins directory to give you a better idea of whether your plugins are compatible with new releases of WordPress. This should take the fear and hassle out of upgrading.
  4. Easier video embeds that allow you to just paste a URL on its own line and have it magically turn it into the proper embed code, with Oembed support for YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy, and WordPress.tv (and more in the next release).

All in all this a great update. The batch plugin update feature alone is worth updating.

Download and enjoy!

Why I Can’t Stand Microsoft

Steve Ballmer said, “9 out of 10 PC users are running Windows.” This may be true, but is that something to brag about when you blatantly rip off a competitor’s marketing strategy like this?

Lone, iconic logo above the door.
T-shirted staff with lanyards.
Glass windows from top to bottom.
Wide open store layout with minimal product placement.

All identical to an Apple Store. Lame.

Microsoft doesn’t necessarily have a bad product in Windows. What they have is an identity problem as a company. Maybe Steve Balmer should enlist different “developers” the next time Microsoft designs a retail store.

HT: Carlos Whitaker

WWDC 2009 Live on BeDeviant.com

Live coverage provided by Twubs.com:

Pause in the action? Check out Twubs for yourself!

What’s Your Digital Workspace Look Like?

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These are the programs I have running constantly:

1. Quicksilver: Do yourself a favor and get this Mac app. Leaves Spotlight in the dust!

2. Seesmic Desktop: In my opinion, the best Twitter app out there.

3. iTunes: Duh.

4. iCal: I schedule my days by the half hour, so this standard app keeps me going.

5. Things: In the words of Dave Ramsey, “When you get lost in the craziness of the day, go back to the to-do list. It’s all about the to-do list.” I agree.

That’s me.

What does your digital workspace look like? What’s a “Must-Have-Runnin'” app for you? What did I miss?.

CNN.com Switches to Comic Sans Font

It’s true. You read it here first. CNN.com has officially changed their site font to the black sheep of typography, Comic Sans.

Don’t believe me? Look for yourself:

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Fooled you! Ha!

Actually, this little tweak was made possible by Firefox plug in, Firebug. If you’re a website designer, programmer, or wannabe hacker, Firebug is a must. You can learn how to code, at least in a “duct-tape-and-toothpick” kind of way, using Firebug. Essentially, it gives you access to the building blocks of a website t change and manipulate as you see fit, all without causing any permanent changes to the site itself.

Let’s say you find an element on a website you really like–say some PHP code on a blog. You want to know how to do the same thing for your website. This is where Firebug comes through huge. You simply navigate to Firebug console at the bottom of Firefox:

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Pull up the Firebug console and click “inspect”:

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And start, well, inspecting! You can change elements on existing website (see CNN.com example from above!) or change elements on your own site before making the changes permanently in the code. It’s one of the main development tools I use for this site and do not know what I would do without it!

Firebug takes the mystery (somewhat) out of web design and makes it less scary. Warning: It is a bit intimidating at first and you do need a basic understanding of how website coding works. Once you have that, Firebug does a really good job of showing you how web language works.

Want some more fun examples of the power of Firebug? Here’s Twitter Search with a “justify-right” text-align:

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And here’s mighty Google with a giant logo:

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Like I said, these are some silly changes but you can really harness Firebug to increase your website building capabilities:

  • Want to know how something is done on a website you like? Firebug it!
  • Want to preview changes to your own site before you pull the trigger for realz? Firebug it!
  • Want to amuse yourself for hours making useless yet humorous changes to other people’s sites? Yes… Firebug it!

What Firefox tools, plug ins, or add ons do you find helpful?.

Technology You Can’t Live Without

What are some of the websites/tech devices/apps that you can’t live without?

Here’s a few of mine:

  • WordPress: Easily the best blogging/website plaform out there. If you’re self-hosted, head to WordPress.org and start downloading. If you don’t know what that means or just want to start a blog up for yourself, head to WordPress.com and get started in minutes.
  • iPhone: The hype is almost 100% backed-up by this beauty of a device. It’s all that and a bag of chips.
  • Seesmic Desktop: This app takes Twitter to a whole ‘notha level.
  • Things: I’ve raved about this before, but the sync with iCal and my iPhone keeps my day in check. Worth it.
  • YouVersion.com: A great piece of web-based, Bible-reading goodness from the team at LifeChurch.tv

Those are just a few of mine. What are yours? Dazzle the world with your technological brilliance–how does technology make your life easier?.

Creating Instant Messenger Hyperlinks

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In a recent effort to make myself more available online to anyone who would want to come by for a chat, I came across the need for a “point-and-click” solution to starting online chats.

I use the following clients the most:

But I wanted a way people could just click a hyperlink of their choice and *BLAM!* a chat screen would pop up with my screen name loaded up and ready to go. Enter: solution via the good people at MakeUseOf.com. Below are the HTML hyperlinks for popular chat clients. Use as you see fit:

    Windows Live Messenger : <a href=”msnim:chat?contact=USERNAME”>Send me a message</a> (the username in this case being the Hotmail address)

    Yahoo Messenger : <a href=”ymsgr:sendim?USERNAME”>Send me a message</a>

    AIM : <a href=”aim:goim?screenname=USERNAME”>Send me a message</a>

    Google Talk : <a href=”gtalk:chat?jid=USERNAME”>Send me a message</a> (the username in this case being the Gmail address)

    Skype : <a href=”skype:USERNAME?chat”>Send me a message</a>

Obviously you would need to swap out “USERNAME” for your specific screen name, but other than that these are tested and ready to go. Knock yo’self out!.

The Joys of Technology

A co-worker stopped me in the hall yesterday. “You owe me $7.50,” she said. She was correct, I owed her for a birthday gift we had bought for a colleague.

I fumbled through my wallet looking for some cash. No $7.50 to be found.

Then I pulled out my iPhone, tapped the “PayPal” app, asked my co-worker for her email address, plugged it in and promptly sent her $8 (to cover PayPal’s transaction fee.) Done in 30 seconds. From right there in the palm of my hand.

A group of us sat around in awe at the technological feat that had just taken place. Maybe we’re too easily amused..

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