Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Security Tip: Patching

A few weeks ago I mentioned how anti-virus software isn't the end-all of computer security.  One of the most important parts of computer security is keeping all you programs up-to-date.  Windows does an all right job if you have automatic updates installed (and you install them right away).  But most other programs will only tell you when you run them again.  So if you have an application that hasn't been patched in a while, you could be vulnerable to some malware attacks.

I found an app called Secunia Personal Software Inspector that, like an antivirus program, will run scans on your computer on a predefined schedule.  It looks for any program that is not up-to-date and give you a link to the program's update page.  Their download page claims that 98 out of 100 computers have insecure programs on them.  If you don't think you need this, just make sure that you don't postpone any software updates.  If you're worried about the new fixes messing up the current configuration of the program, get a test computer and test out the new updates.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Statement of My LDS/Christian/Mormon Beliefs


I thought this might be an appropriate place to share a little bit more of my beliefs, a small effort at building the internet's storage of positive information on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jesus Christ is the creator of this earth, he is our Savior, and will be our judge at the last day.  It is only through him that we have any hope of salvation.  There is nothing we can do of our own accord that will ensure us a place in Heaven.  Christ took upon him all the sins of those who have been on this earth and ever will be on this earth and only requires of us that we follow his counsel.

The Lord speaks to his people through prophets.  This has always been the case.  From Genesis to the present time the Lord uses special people on earth to warn, guide, and direct us amidst all the confusion and destruction in the world.  After a time of much darkness, known as the middle or dark ages, the Lord called another prophet to lead us in the last and greatest dispensation.  Joseph Smith, through the guidance of Jesus Christ, restored the fulness of the gospel to the earth and organized a church that consists of the same organization that existed in the primitive church.  After his death, the Lord chose another prophet and so on throughout the years until today.  Thomas S. Monson is our current prophet and continues to provide us with the direction the Lord wishes us to follow.

The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.  The Book of Mormon is a second witness of the divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ.  It was written and compiled by ancient prophets who lived on the continents of North and South America.  Jesus Christ visited this people after his resurrection and taught them the same things that had been taught at Jerusalem.

Talking with different people I've seen that it isn't very common for children raised in one religion to stick with that religion when they become adults.  Everyone has to come to a point where they question whether what they're being taught is true or is just some fanciful tale made to keep people from reality.   I was taught (see James 1:5) that if I wanted to know what the truth was, I simply needed to ask.  I've asked, but didn't get an audible yes.  I've realized that the answer has come through small, yet noticeable feelings.  These feelings are not the same you get after watching an emotionally moving movie (though the Spirit of Christ can certainly touch your heart if what you've learned is true and should be applied to your life), or an energized sermon, etc.  They're feelings of peace and surety, knowing that what has transpired could only come from above; and that's how I know that what I believe is true.

God does not want us to believe that everything divine is a mystery or so complex that we can't approach him.  If you've never read the Book of Mormon or chatted with any of the young men in white shirts riding bikes (LDS missionaries), check them out and ask God if what they teach isn't true.

Monday, December 15, 2008

BitPim: Easily Manage Any Cellphone


I have a Motorola Razr and find it extremely annoying to enter in contacts, calendar appointments, or do anything but call people on it.  I have no real need for a blackberry or other type of smartphone; I'd rather not be that attached to work.

The other day I came across what could be a dream come true.  There's an application called BitPim that allows you to sync your phone's data (contacts, calendar, photos, music, text messages, etc.) to your computer, edit it there and then re-sync it.  So ideally you could manage your calendar from your computer, or import a list of contacts from a .csv file and virtually anything else that makes your non-smart phone that much more useful. 

I did have some initial problems getting setup, but this website helped me get the necessary drivers I needed to get my computer to recognize my phone.  There are some other quirky things with it, it doesn't seem to be super reliable; but I have been able to successfully download my contacts and pictures so far, and was able to upload a new set of contacts (I downloaded my ward directory from lds.org in a .csv file and loaded it into my phone in a snap!)

I'll keep playing around with it and follow up with any new finds.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Sound of Music

Though my "CD collection looks shiny and costly" it is not quite as extensive as some I've seen. I consider myself to have a very broad taste for music, and I'm always ready to try something new. I thought I'd share a few things that have helped my love for music grow.

Internet Radio

I've tried last.fm, Pandora.com, iTunes, and a few others. I am overwhelmingly pleased with Pandora. Though it doesn't always guess the music that you like and sometimes plays the same songs over and over it's my favorite. As long has you have a station for every style of music you like (you have to have a broad taste for this to work) you will be endlessly supplied with music you like as well as music worth investigating further.

Buying Music

I used to buy CD's until very recently. I signed up with yourmusic.com which ships you a new CD every month for only $7.50, a pretty good deal, if you don't mind purchasing the entire album. I found that there are very few artists for whom I will spend more than $10 on their new album. So I've switched to buying music digitally, and I avoid iTunes and Walmart like the plague. I hate digital rights managment (DRM), it's a nightmare for anyone who like to have their music in more places than just their computer or who don't own an iPod. Amazon.com and lala.com are two places where you can buy DRM-free music, which means there is no security software keeping you from transfering your files to a backup drive and allow you to play it when you restore those files on a new computer.

Buying digitally allows you to only get the songs that you like. Some musicians feel that this is wrong because it depletes their earnings. To me, it says, "make every track on your CD worth buying, or let me buy the only one or two good songs on it separately."

Lala.com is a new website that I really, really like. It allows you to listen to any song once before you buy it! It also give you the option of buying a "web only" version of the song for $.10 or less so you can listen to music you don't feel like paying $.99 for. Lala gives you 50 free web songs when you sign up, and even more if you get others to sign up (so let me know if you're interested :) . It's also a bit of a social networking site and allows you to follow other friends' listening patterns. As I mentioned earlier, the music here is DRM-free and the prices are comparable and sometimes better than amazon.com.

Sheet Music


I've had a heckuva time finding piano sheet music online. Musicnotes.com seems to have a really good library, but there should be more sites than that. They are a little over priced than what you could get at a music store, but it does save you the trip of driving and waiting for the order to come in.

Ever since Olga.net disappeared, I've lost the drive to look for new guitar tabs online, any suggestions here?

What technology has fostered your love for music?