the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seem's Like Old Times... Update

I have recently bought two laptops running Windows Vista. One laptop is for my wife, Sandra. The other one is mine. That leaves us with two old desktops running Windows XP Home. My old computer is at least 10 years old. It has an intel celeron processor with a clock speed of 1.1 GHz and 136 MB of memory (I have a freebie flash drive with 250 MB of memory.) I had earlier installed an 80 GB harddrive and an internal ethernet card. It has a CD read only drive. Under Windows XP old and slow are the most remarkable characteristics.

My wife's old desktop computer is a little better. It has an intel celeron processor with a clock speed of 206 GHz and 256 MB of memory. It came with a 80 GB harddrive and an internal ethernet card. It also came with a read only DVD drive and a RW CD drive. Here's how old it is: It has a floppy drive. Old and slow are the major performance criteria for this machine too, running under Windows.

On my desktop, I wiped out the Windows installation and installed Debian, a Linux operating system, on the hard drive. To install this operating system, I downloaded a seed file in iso format and burned the image on a CD. I did this with my laptop. Then I booted the computer with the CD and it installed the basic system and automatically downloaded the remainder of the package from the internet. What fun. Seriously, this machine screams with speed and power under Linux. Who'da thought? I can do most everything with Debian that I can with Windows XP. It even comes with Open Office, a MS Office Clone from Sun Microsystems. The Open Office package contains everything that MS Office does and more. The standard browser is IceWeasel, Debian's name for the FireFox browser by Mozilla. A Firewall and virus protection comes built in the operating system and it is updated as often as windows based add on's. One thing I haven't learned to do yet is to install an updated flash player so I can view videos that requre adobe flash player. Too bad Tripp, but I can still see your video bloggs with my laptop.

On my wife's old machine I decided to keep the windows installation just the way it is. On this machine I run Knoppix. Knoppix is a Linux based operating system that runs on a DVD. Knoppix boots from the DVD and can be run on any machine without touching the OS on the hard drive. Like Debian, I downloaded Knoppix from the internet and burned the image onto a DVD-r disk. In this case, however, the entire system downloaded to the DVD drive. The 4GB of code on the DVD are in compressed mode and Knoppix decompresses on the fly. Personalized configurations can be saved to a floppy disk or a flash drive. I have saved my configuration on the freebie flash drive mentioned above. Every time I make a change in the configuration it automatically updates the flash drive. When I boot up the DVD Knoppix reads the flash drive and I get my personalized configurations included automatically. Knoppix has less overhead than Debian which has much less overhead than Windows. So you can imagine the performance I get with Knoppix. The downside of using Knoppix is that I have no permanent storage. I could use the hard drive for storage if I had free space to create a Linux partition. But I also use that computer as a file server for my home network and backup my other machines to that hard drive, so I don't want to mess with the Windows configuration.

It's like having a new toy, which at my age is a rare thing. More commonly my old toys have worn out or become oblsolete like my body.

Oh, did I mention that Debian, Knoppix and all the software that goes with it are FREE? In fact, all Linux sofware is free, not only in price but the source code comes with the software, so anyone with the skill and knowledge can customize, modify or fix bugs in the system. Move over Microsoft.

Happy computing.

Year A - Proper 17

Liturgy of the Word:
Jeremiah 15:15-21
Psalm 26:1-8
Romans 12:9-21
Matthew 16:21-28

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Year A - Proper 16

Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 51:1-6
Psalm 138
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Seems like old times...

This post is being created from a newly installed Linux platform.

Back in the day... I was fascinated with computers. My first taste of a computer was when the company I worked for purchased a brand new IBM PC. The one with no hard drive and two 5 1/4" floppy drives. The thing had 64k memory. I was not permitted to use the computer during work hours but could use it on a first come first serve basis after hours. I decided to go into the office on a Saturday morning when no one else would be there. I had that baby all to myself. You may not have been around in 1982 to remember this machine. The CPU laid flat on what would be it's side by today's architecture. The monitor sat on top of the CPU. The on/off switch was way in the back on the right side hidden in a depression in the box. I spent the first hour just trying to turn the thing on. When I finally did get it on, the thing booted up and there was the screen, black, and down at the bottom was the cryptic A:> and a flashing cursor all in green. I spent the next hour looking at the blinking thing and nothing happened. I went home disappointed. But a fire had been lit in me that has lasted to this day.

A friend had an old Timex 2000 computer that he loaned me then finally said I could have it. Wow! My very own computer. OK, it wasn't much of a computer. Cell phones and cars have more powerful computers in them now days. But it was mine. It was about 8"x6"x1". There was no monitor, you hooked it up to your TV. The keyboard was built in and had chicklet style keys. It had no storage system, you had to hook up a tape recorder to save anything. The operating system consisted of a BIOS which performed a self test when you turned it on. If you wanted it to do something you had to program it. The processor was a Zilog 80 chip which was a major competitor for Intell's 8080 chip. I found a small paper back book that provided some instructions on how to program it with some basic programs all written in assembly language. The machine did not understand assembly language however. So I bought a Z-80 manual which gave the actual binary code for the assembly code. I became a programmer, writing out my programs in assembly and translating them into binary, then entering the binary code one byte at a time into the computer before I could run the program. Debugging was by trial and error, mostly error. But I was hooked.

One day I decided that my little computer was way to childish. I needed a professional looking computer. But, alas, I had very little money. I bought a metal box from Radio Shack. Then I took the mother board out of the Timex and installed it in the metal box with jacks and connectors to hook up the TV and the tape recorder. I found an old surplus Unix keyboard and modified it to match the design of the chicklet keyboard and connected it to the mother board with a ribbon cable. My very own professional(?) looking computer. A programmer was born.

Finally I advanced at work to the point where I could afford an IBM PC Junior. I learned command language. I learned basic. I learned Turbo Pascal. I created an assembler in Lotus 123, imagine that. I was a whiz with the IBM DOS command terminal.

Then came windows. I hated it. All the fun was gone from my world. Windows did everything for you. No longer did you have to think, much less think in hexadecimal or binary. My hobby went by the wayside.

Now, 20 years later, I have discovered Linux. How the heck to you make this thing do something? The old juices are beginning to flow again.

Happy computing :-).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Year A - Proper 15

Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Psalm 67
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:10-28

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Year A - Proper 14

Liturgy of the Word:
1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33