Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to both of my loyal readers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Oracle Corporation (a purveyor of wickedly expensive databases) purchased Sun Microsystems last year. Sun was the creator of the Java (a highly trademarked) programming language and environment. There were concerns voiced at the thought of Oracle Corporation (also known as the keep buying Larry more ocean-going racing yachts club) owning Java (oodles of trademarks) as they are known for being more interested in making money than running open-source projects or loving up on programmers. These thoughts were usually swiftly hushed and everyone was told that it would all be fine and that as the crown jewels of Oracle's (aforementioned large and heavily lawyered corporation) offerings were all deeply tied to Java (did I mention the trademarks?), there was no way that they would do anything stupid. After all, they said, you don't get to afford trans-Atlantic racing yachts and Gulfstream jets without number unless you know something good about business. So the geeks switched to silent waiting mode.

Lately, there have been quite a few cracks in the facade of Oracle (so big, they make Big Brother look like little sister) as benevolent curator of the Java (way more trademarks than you'll ever have) language and brand. I'll try to keep myself to the two latest examples and then deliver the pithy conclusion.

The Apache Software Foundation (these are the good guys) is a member of the Java (trademarks, trademarks, trademarks) Community Process, the overseeing body charged with guiding the ongoing development of Java (err ... trademarks). Well, they happen to have a project to re-write the Java (trademarks and then some) standard libraries in a cleanroom manner, so they can be used freely and under the business friendly Apache license. All good stuff and Sun (may it rest in peace) had an agreement with them to release the Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) under a suitable license for the Apache project to use so they could validate their implementation the for Java (trademarks, come and get 'em) standard libraries.

Unfortunately Sun (formerly great networking company) never got around to honoring this arrangement before they mis-managed themselves into the ground. Oracle (dark ominous music plays here) were previously in favor of this arrangement, but now that they own Java (and all the assorted trademarks) they have suddenly gone bi-polar on us and no longer think this is the swell idea it used to be.

This is a big deal, because while Java (marks of tradiness) is now GPL (all hail Richard Stallman) and the replacement libraries are open-source (a shout-out to ESR), there is the slight problem that nothing is allowed to be legally called Java (with or without trademarks) until it has passed the TCK. And Apache can't use the TCK because of one crazy legal clause in the whole arrangement.

Hudson is continuous integration server software. It is hosted on the facility which is now owned by Oracle (not actually evil, but they make Microsoft look cuddly) and even worse, it would seem that Oracle (who should borrow Google's don't be evil mantra) own the trademark or copyright or copymark on the name Hudson. And one of their VP's wrote a snotty email explaining that folks were welcome to fork the project, but they couldn't have the project name.

There is great principle that I normally apply in such situations: "Never ascribe to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence!" And I think it might be useful here. At this point, I am not ready to accuse Oracle (you get the picture) of trying to kill Java (mark that trade), but I am quite certain that there are no signs that they aren't!

The title of this post come of course from that classic Monty Python sketch about the incompetent inquisitors of the Spanish Inquisition.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

  • I am thankful for my savior Jesus Christ.
  • I am thankful that he did not leave me in my previous unpleasant life.
  • I am thankful for the Church, the body of Christ.
  • The Church is my family and I love all of my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
  • I am thankful for freedom, purchased for me by so many people I'll never meet, at a cost I can only imagine.
  • I am thankful for my wife and family.
  • I am thankful to be upright and breathing.
  • I am thankful to be gainfully employed and able to provide a comfortable living for my family.
  • I am thankful for the honor of being called to pastor a congregation.
  • I am thankful that as I am learning to pastor "on the job", that my first congregation is not too large.
  • I am thankful for the interesting roles I have been asked to fill in the kingdom.
  • I am thankful for the favor that the Lord has given me in my city.
  • And lastly, I'm thankful that I have no more than two readers of this blog, so when I get too busy to post for a month, nobody is demanding their money back!

Happy Thanksgiving!
(And even if you feel like you have no possible reasons to be happy, just be glad that you aren't a turkey!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Stateless Web Not Harmfull

We've all done it. Every web developer worth their salt has complained about HTTP being a stateless protocol. And this makes web applications much more difficult to write. Waa waa waa, moan moan moan.

Stop and think for a moment. The early web was a distributed repository of information. This information didn't need state. In fact, if the HTTP protocol had included state, it would have made the early web a much more fragile infrastructure. As designed, for the purpose at the time, the web was very well designed.

Now, the advent of web applications did cause a challenge. The lack of state was a huge problem. But ... it's been solved. By using cookies, browsers and webservers layered a perfectly workable state mechanism on top of the underlying transport mechanism. I know that everyone had security concerns over cookies when they arrived. But browsers are more careful in their implementations of them and it's generally agreed that they're the only way to transparantly add state to HTTP, so everyone took deep breaths and calmed down.

And what a testament to the design of HTTP, that something unforeseen could be added ontop in such a straight-forward way. An awesome design.

So, can we all stop bemoaning that HTTP is stateless? Very clever people have figured out how to transport state over HTTP, so let's just get on with using it and making great web applications.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Star of Radio

It would seem that I find myself married to a star of radio. The lovely Sister Geek was invited to appear in a radio spot for our local conservative candidate for the state assembly. We have also appeared in his flyers and helped out a two parades. Of course, it helps that we live next door to the chairman of his campaign and they needed someone in a hurry. But still, a certain amount of bragging rights seems appropriate.

Friday, October 15, 2010

One week, one character

Tracked down a tricky error over the past week. No, I'm not that slow, but I had to get a whole new database sandbox created and populated and then fix my data source definition before I could even get to the point of investigating the problem. Once, the data was flowing into the program, I discovered that I had a broken domain object. I had had trouble getting anyone to be excited about me retro-fitting unit tests into the web application that I'm porting from WebSphere to JBoss and so I'd done a few (about three dozen) of what I thought were the main objects. Wouldn't you know that one of the ones not tested had an error in it! At my hourly billing rate, that's several thousand dollars tracking a problem that would not have existed if I had been free to unit test all of the domain objects. The fix? A single exclamation mark to reverse a wrong boolean statement.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

Our second Wednesday of each month is focused prayer. Our number one request for the rest of the year is ten new souls baptized in Jesus name and filled with the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues. For a humble congregation like ours, ten shiny new saints would be an awesome boost. I had originally suggested ten baptisms, but Bro. B, who leads up the focused prayer felt led of the Lord to upgrade the request. Go big or go home!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Went to my local Java User Group this evening and listened to a presentation about the Scala programming language. I had tinkered with this a year (or was it two?) ago and had thought that it was interesting. For some reason I can't remember, I got distracted away from it. Hmmm, perhaps it's time to dig back in and see what I can do with it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not Nimrod ... Not a Mighty Hunter

The things we do at the request of our children. We have an escaped pet rabbit in the neighborhood, white with red eyes. It has been around for over a month now and all the neighbors have seen it, but I think that I'm the only one crazy enough to try to catch it, after the geeklets informed me that they would just looooove to have a pet bunny. The critter is sneaky and has led me on several chases around the interior of our block, while various onlookers laugh and cheer me (hopefully they're cheering for me!) on in my futile endeavors. I even borrowed a fishing net, but I couldn't get close enough to use it. If the geeklets didn't want it as a pet, I'd have grabbed the .22 and made sure it would never escape me again!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pastoral Appreciation

At church today we had a pastoral appreciation lunch. Wow! I feel very appreciated today. I also feel stuffed. There's nothing like a church potluck and the Pentecostals have taken it to an art form! All the food was southern-themed today. Partly, I suspect, because one of the ladies organizing it is from Texas and partly because I like to say "y'all" and claim that because I'm from southern England, I'm allowed to do so.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Goodness, I see that it's been a while since I posted. Thankfully I don't have much of a following and am on only one blog roll that I know of, so I think that the Internet will survive. Still, I think that this would be a good outlet for me, if I can just make myself be more diligent with it.

The problem has not been a lack of things to say or interesting occurrences to report on. Those have been many and varied. Rather, the silence here has been because of a lack of consistent direction in how I want to take this blog. Initially, I thought that a mostly anonymous blog (how many ex-athiest, formerly British, apostolic pastors can there be in the mid-west?) would allow me to capture some of my adventures. Then I started thinking about blogging under my name, but then I got to thinking that would reduce what I felt comfortable writing about. So, I think it's safe to say that I have come full circle and will just stick with being (mostly) anonymous.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Perfect Storm

I have perfect storms at home and work. This leaves nowhere to hide. Work finds me trying to combine my three least favorite technologies at once, specifically security X.509 certificates, XML and SOAP web services. These technologies are all harder than they should be and when you combine them, they approach evil. And I say that as one who has started being used in the area of spiritual warfare ... I'll go toe to toe with a demon (which I have done) before I'd volunteer to work with those three.

At home, it feels like a metric ton of things have decided to break or wear out at the same time. My leather shoes have started splitting after only about six months. I fell in the shower yesterday and while I wasn't hurt, I managed to bend the tub spout, so we need a plumber to look at that. Our Internet connection at home is playing up and we are to the point where we have almost no Internet availability, but I also have no time to chase any of that right now, because we are hosting the sectional conference this weekend and having the bishop speak on the Sunday as he was in town anyway. The dimmer switch in the kitchen dining area is falling apart and we need someone to put a new switch in for us as I have no mechanical aptitude at all. And Sis. Geek is trying to arrange for some of this stuff to be fixed and is not getting the best support from some of the companies she's talking to. Our ISP asked if we'd run a speed check and Sis. Geek didn't realize that the correct answer was that we have trouble getting a connection at all, and we'll gladly worry about the speed when we get that problem solved.

I mention all this not for sympathy, but to let you know that even pastors have life happen to them at times.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I See A Pattern Here

We baptized an ex-Wiccan two weeks ago. We can call her Sis. M. now. In the last two and a half years, that brought the total to two wiccans and a Satanist. This morning Sis. M introduced me to her fiance and explained that he had been further into Wicca than she was. By the end of the service he requested that we baptize him, so I will be meeting with him later this week to teach him a bible study about repentance and baptism so that he understands what he's getting into. I'm seeing the start of a pattern here!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Quiet Week Except For When It Wasn't

Thankfully. Sis. Geek and the geeklets had a quiet night in on Tuesday, although I was late home from work. Because my lesson for the midweek service was already done last week, I spent the evening getting some basic household needs caught up. I went to the hardware store for a new neon tube for the bathroom light and then Farm and Barn for salt for the water softener. I installed those and then started a load of laundry. While the laundry went through, I sorted a large stack of mail that we hadn't touched in a week. In the end, I got to bed a little before 11pm.

Midweek service went well, but everyone was in a talkative mood so we didn't end up closing up until nearly 9pm. Home and straight to bed.

Then, Thursday night, the busyness got to us and we were all tucked up and lights out by 8:30pm. (This is why you shouldn't call your pastor in the evening unless it's an emergency ... he might be trying to catch up on his sleep.)

Friday was date night. One of the families in the church offered to watch the geeklets while I took the lovely Sis. Geek out for dinner. This was our Valentines dinner that we couldn't take on the 14th as Sundays are busy and then ours was more busy than usual as we prepared for Sis. P's funeral the next day.

This morning we slept in a little. Then it was off in a couple of different directions. I took my car for an oil change and Sis. Geek headed off to the church to meet Sis. M to clean. After the oil change I stopped by to help Bro. M move some stuff up to the attic. And now I'm working on my sermon for tomorrow.

So, now you know what pastors do outside of that hour on Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Mississipi Squirrel Revival

Some days (and especially the last few) even a pastor needs a good chuckle. Bro. F. at church pointed me at this amazingly funny video.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Funerals Are A Full Day's Work

The funeral for Sis. P took place today. I was at the funeral home for 9am and didn't leave until 5pm. Between the viewing and then the service and then the graveside, it was quite an amount of work. I'm ready for an early night.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My life as a roller-coaster

This week I experienced the death of a member of my congregation, Sis. P. Then Saturday was my youngest's birthday and we celebrated life. Then today the Lord directed me to preach on mercy and now tomorrow I conduct the funeral for Sis. P.

I'm normally a fairly level kind of guy emotionally, so I'm feeling a little like I'm on a roller-coaster right now. Hopefully everything will calm down this coming week and I can get my bearings again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Shock!

I have spent twenty one years earning my living as a computer programmer in corporations. One of the givens that I have encountered is that the annual performance review will be a travesty of documentation that bares no resemblance to what you actually did. Generally, they are a way for the manager to let off steam and blame you for anything that they think makes them look bad.

I had my annual performance review today and I'm in shock. My manager (actually a Director, but who's counting) wrote a magnificent review that was an accurate representation of my years activities. She even remembered some things that I had forgotten I'd done. She thanked me for all my hard work this past year and expressed her belief that I would do well this year in my new role as a Team Lead for my area.

It was a good job I was sitting down!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Worst Part of the Job

After two and a half years of pastoring, the day I haven't been looking forward to arrived and I lost a member of my congregation. Sis. P was involved in an automobile accident yesterday and went to be with the Lord this afternoon.

Much as I love pastoring, it hurts and I don't ever want to get used to that feeling.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pro-Choice Except For When They Aren't

Is it just me? There seems to be a super-sized storm going over the advertisment that Focus On The Family wants to run during the soon coming Superbowl. My understanding is that no one has actually seen the ad yet, but that the basic outline is available and is the mother of a football player speaking about problems during her pregnancy and her choice to continue with that pregnancy. After all the dancing monkeys, beer commercials with scantily clad women and even wardrobe malfunctions, this seems pretty uncontentious.

Enter NOW, the National Organization of Women, a pretty much washed up group who have a 100% record of siding with anyone other than conservative women. They are now (no pun intended) proclaiming that they are deeply offended by the mere idea of this advertisement. And yet after reading the entry on the FOTF blog, it appears what they are actually upset about is that this mother made a choice. They say they're for choice, but their actions tell us that they only like choices in favor of dead babies. The live ones seem to give them conniptions.

Can we start calling them "pro-death"? They have now forfeit the pro-choice label by being so upset over a mother who actually made one.

And Sarah Palin had some excellent words on the matter too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Race or tribes?

So, over the weekend, I read about how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized for previous comments about President Obama's skin color. Here's Fox News report.

I suppose I could go on a rant about liberal hypocracy. But I'm sure that bloggers with more time to spare than I have, are already doing that.

Instead, I found myself thinking about one of Bill Whittle's classic essays by the name Tribes. Now, to be sure, Tribes is a little strongly worded, an unusual thing for Bill to do, but it was written as a response to a very strongly worded comment by a liberal. Tribes explores the fact that color has absolutely nothing to do with anything except the genetics of your parents and how much sunlight you personally reflect. And that's exactly it. A much bigger deal should be made of the direction that each of us choose and the people we choose to associate ourselves with. Our choice of tribe shouts a message to the world, while the color of our skin whispers at best. Go and read it carefully. It's one of Bill's most powerful essays.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I received my National Rifle Association Life Membership pack in the mail today. It's quite a nice set. A set of bylaws, a gold-plated certificate and several badges, decals and even a suit pin. Thankfully, I now no longer need to remember whether I've paid my dues yet each year ... they're paid for ever!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Good Day For Customer Service

I hate calling anywhere for customer service. Even when I keep my expectations low, I usually find myself deeply disappointed. So, imagine my trepidation at needing to make two such phone calls! I needed to call Starbucks and the NRA Store.

My Starbucks Gold Card (colored black to confuse people) is coming to it's end and I needed to register it so that my account balance could transfer over to the new card (actually colored gold this time). Only the numbers on the card were all but worn off. It took both myself and the lovely (and younger) Sis. Geek wearing reading glasses to be able to read the main number, but neither of us could read the security code numbers which were smaller to start with. Thus, I called customer care after reading the FAQ on their website carefully. The customer service representative that answered was amazingly helpful and while he couldn't read the numbers himself over the phone line, he went one better and registered me for the new card anyway and pre-started me at Gold level memebership. That's excellent customer service and one more reason for me to continue enjoying Starbucks coffee.

Next, I needed to call the NRA Store. I had a gift-certificate from my in-laws (have I mentioned that I have the greatest in-laws?) for the NRA Store. Unfortunately, their website does not accept their own paper gift certificates. It happens, so I called in my order. The very nice lady I spoke to then promptly had difficulty getting their in-house system to accept the gift-certificate either. This is why I normally try to do everything by the web these days. After being put on hold, she worked with a supervisor and about five minutes later came back and had everything sorted. Most excellent! (As Bill and Ted would say) So, I can now look forward to my new NRA life-member hat that I *had* to order after upgrading my membership as my year end present to myself.

That's two helpings of excellent customer service in one day. I must be dreaming!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Project 2:38?

I'm re-reading a book by Donald Knuth. Nothing unusual about that, I actually have several of his books. But this one has likely not been read by too many of my fellow geeks. The book is called "Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About" and is a collection of six presentations he gave on religion. It's an interesting book with quite a few interesting ideas in it. I just finished chapter 2, in which he was explaining his 3:16 project. 3:16 was a personal project where he took the 3:16 of books of the bible and studied that verse in depth, eventually giving rise to a book. He chose 3:16 because he wanted to include John 3:16. This got me thinking that perhaps a 2:38 project could be fun.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just Tell Me What You Are

In these wishy-washy days, people don't seem to be keen to be defined by what they are, but prefer to be known for what they aren't. I got to thinking about this on the way home from the in-laws today as I drove past a large'ish Seventh Day Adventist church building. Now, I'm sure they have things they stand for, but mostly they're known as the folks who think that we're wrong for having church on Sundays and that we should celebrate on Saturdays like they do. Hmmm.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Colossians 2:16 [KJV]
The Seventh Day Adventists are not wrong for having church on Saturdays, but nor are we for choosing Sundays.

And for those who like a little more politics in their reading material, we can make similar observations about President Obama and especially so of his advocates. A large part of the campaign approach of then candidate Obama centered around the point that he wasn't Hilary Clinton and then even more emphatically that he wasn't George W. Bush. And pretty much that was it. Oh sure, he made promises and expressed opinions, but all politicians do that. It just strikes me that being the un-Bush is a pretty weak platform to run on. (It did get him the Nobel Peace Prize, for what that's worth these days!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm an old codger! I was tucked up and snoring by about 9:30 last night. It's been a few years now since I tried to stay up until midnight to welcome in the New Year. The way I see it, the year lasts 365 days, so I'll have plenty of time to enjoy it. Why rush? I'm over visiting the in-laws and they aren't late night folks either, so we all tucked up early.

For those wondering why we didn't have a watch-night service, the answer is that they annoy me, err wait, I don't think I'm supposed to admit that. The other reason is that in a small congregation, the holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving etc etc) are times of shrinkage. Bigger churches gain bodies with extra visitors during holidays. Sadly, the bodies they gain are usually from the smaller congregations when folks go to see family and visit their big fancy church for a treat. I've considered getting mad about it, but it's just the way life is, so I accept it. It all balances out in the end because our town is close to a popular state park and we get quite a few visitors from other churches each summer when they come to our area to camp.