Monday, July 28, 2014

Stuck in Beta?

I just recently made the jump and installed the Developer Preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 (WP8.1) on my Lumia Icon phone.

(For those of you "non-tech-geeks" still reading this, don't worry - this isn't necessarily a "tech article", so you can keep reading.)

One of my co-workers was installing it on his phone and, through a chat, I decided to do the same thing. Only took about two hours in total (if that). There were multiple downloads and reboots that took place. Again, this is the Developer Preview version. When the "official" version gets rolled out via the cell phone carriers (I'm a Verizon customer), it should be the "complete" version (including updates and patches) and consist of only one download.

One of the neat features that came with WP8.1 is Cortana - a Siri / Google Now type interface. Previously, when you touched the search button on the phone, Bing search would launch and you would type your search (or, select the microphone icon and speak your search). Bing always provided textual results - like searching with Google on your desktop. Cortana replaces Bing (Bing is incorporated into Cortana), so Cortana launches when you click the search button. You can either type or speak your search. If you type, you get a textual result like before. If you speak, Cortana will respond verbally (and/or give you textual results if warranted.)

I noticed in the top right corner of the screen when Cortana is "running" the word "Beta". This is one of those terms that floats around that belong to the inner world of geeks and techies. I looked up a Wikipedia article on the Software Release Cycle that has a simple graph showing the testing and development periods of software. They are as follows:

Pre-alpha (a.k.a. development releases nightly builds)
Release Candidate (a.k.a. Gamma Delta)
RTM (Release to Manufacturing) (a.k.a. Release to Marketing)
GA (General Availability)
Production or Live Release (a.k.a. Gold)

WP8.1 is either in RTM, GA, or Production - being that it is in the hands of carriers. As of this writing, AT&T has started rolling out 8.1, whereas Verizon still shows as "under testing". There is a firmware (software that directly affects the hardware - like drivers and such) update called "Cyan" that is due to be available at the same time as WP8.1, which was not available to download with the Developer Preview. When Verizon releases 8.1, it will include Cyan. But back to the Beta of Cortana.

One of the reasons I've read for how long Cortana will remain in Beta concerned the ever-evolving nature of the software. As more people use it, and it's database grows (and the software is tweaked with more features), Cortana will continue to become "more". At what point will Cortana leave the Beta stage is difficult to determine, mainly because of this type of growth.

Like I said in the second sentence of this article, the focus here is not "tech".

My question to you is, are you still in Beta? And if so, for how long?

Like Cortana, are you ever evolving? Are you constantly growing? Do you look for new experiences (and people) to facilitate this growth?

The bible makes reference to three basic salvations (being born again, born anew, or born from above - Greek shtuff). It says you've been saved (Ephesians 2:8), you are being saved (2 Corinthians 2:15), and you will be saved (Acts 15:11). It says you are saved by faith (or acceptance of…), not of works (you can't please your way to God - salvation is a gift, freely given, from God alone) (Ephesians 2:9). It also tells us to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12). Of course, this kind of "confusion" helps provide one of the reasons for all of the different denominations in Christianity. And yet, I don't think this is what the 5,000 foot view meant. And how does this connect with Beta? Continue!!

The bible considers that we are triune beings, made of Spirit (the part that is "like God"), the Soul (your will, intellect, emotions), and the Body (the physical part of you). When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, his Spirit is saved - or made new. That is the "been saved" (since the above references are from the letters written to Christians). When the rapture occurs (rapture is a word not in the bible - it is referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) the person receives a new body like the kind the risen Jesus has). This is the "will be saved". What about the "being saved"? This is where we get the "work out your own salvation" part. This is your Beta state. This is where you develop your Soul (your character, your intellect, your emotions, etc.).

You see, the Spirit part of you is pure - like God. You become "separated" from God by an act of your will (known as the age of "understanding"). When you are too young to understand the gospel (good news), your Spirit is still "connected" to God. Have you ever heard someone speaking in tongues? Sounds just like baby talk. Ever wonder why?

The Soul part is the part that communicates between the Spirit and the Body. We really see the connection with the Body. When any of the three parts is out of balance, there are problems. Mental illness, for the most part, is both a problem of the Soul AND the Body (issues with the brain that are often "adjusted" via medication).

This is why you and I are still in Beta - and will be for the rest of our lives. The only other way to get out of Beta is to stop updating. But, would you really like to consider yourself "perfect" at this point and stop experiencing new things in life?

I wouldn't.

© Emittravel 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing?

"Everything in moderation" is a piece of wisdom we've all heard many times. If you haven't, welcome to the wisdom club. Too much of anything is bad for you. Too little as well. Take oxygen for example: too much and you get cell damage, problems with the lungs, and seizures ( Too little and … well … you die.

Most commonly that piece of wisdom focuses on not having "too much" of something. Don't believe that too much of something is hazardous? Outside of the oxygen reference above, have too much prune juice and see what happens. Or, have too much cheese and see what doesn't!

This wisdom is found across cultures, countries, and even religions. The bible makes reference to moderation in many areas. Actually, most things considered "sin" in the bible are just taking things to an unhealthy extreme. What is lust? Natural attraction on steroids.

There is one area I want to focus on in this article: alcohol. It is a topic of much discussion in the church, and there are people on both sides of it. In America, there is a serious problem with alcoholism. When it comes to discussions concerning legalizing marijuana, the harmful effects are often compared with the harmful effects of alcohol.

What are some of the things the bible says about alcohol?

"The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard …" (Isaiah 24:20a NKJV)

"Thus says the Lord God: 'You shall drink of your sister's cup. The deep and wide one; You shall be laughed to scorn and held in derision; it contains much. You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of horror and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. You shall drink and drain it, you shall break its shards, and tear at your own breasts; for I have spoken,' says the Lord God." (Ezekiel 23:33,34 NKJV)

"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly." (Luke 21:34 NKJV)

"Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness …" (Romans 13:13a NKJV)

"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard …" (1 Corinthians 5:11a NKJV)

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit," (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV)

"For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, …" (1 Thessalonians 5:7,8a NKJV)

"For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles - when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries." (1 Peter 4:3 NKJV)

Apparently, quite a lot. It is such verses as the above, and the affects of alcoholism on families and individuals touted in the media, that the church uses to condemn ANY drinking whatsoever. But is the condemnation of alcohol biblical?

I have a great pastor. One of the great things about him is that he puts up with the likes of me! As I've mentioned previously, I like to poke a stick at things. One time he was mentioning in part of a sermon that, according to science, we all had a little bit of Neanderthal in us. I texted him after that sermon asking him, "Does that mean Adam and Eve were Neanderthals?" (He never responded.) He is a fastidious teacher/preacher. He has often said that you must look at scripture in the context in which it was written, and to not add meaning that the writer did not intend. He is also not afraid to condemn alcohol from the pulpit based on the destructive qualities it has on families (his family in particular). I say those two ideas are in conflict with each other.

Alcoholism is a destructive thing in our society to be sure. But you can't use the bible to condemn it. The bible does not condemn drinking: it condemns drunkenness. And what is drunkenness? Drinking that is not in "moderation". Excessive.

"And put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite." (Proverbs 23,2 NKJV)

"Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags." (Proverbs 23:20,21 NKJV)

"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness …" (Ezekiel 16:49a NKJV)

"The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" (Luke 7:34 NKJV)

As is shown in the above verses, gluttony, or overeating, is also a sin. In fact, in the bible it is on the same footing as drunkenness. Yet I've never seen a church who shunned pot luck dinners.

Once, at a men's advance (or "retreat"), a group of us went out to dinner at a local steakhouse. We had a rather long table with guys on both sides. I sat at the end. As the waiter went down one side of the table taking drink orders, he was told, "Coke", "Coke", "Diet Coke", "Pepsi. No Pepsi? Okay, Coke", "Iced tea", "water", "water", etc. He got to the guy across from me who ordered in a similar manner. He then started up the side I was on with me. I said, "I'll have a 'Corona'." The guy across from me asked me, "You're ordering a beer?!?" I said, "Yes. Beer and steak go well together." He turned to the waiter and said, "Can I change my order?"

Culture has a major impact on how the church handles itself. In places where the water isn't the greatest, wine and beer are preferred due to the sterilization that occurs during processing. We in America don't have that concern. But the church shouldn't add to scripture what wasn't intended. You can preach against alcohol in light of drunkenness, but don't condemn.

Like I like to say, if you consider one beer drunkenness, than you have to consider that small order of fries gluttony.

Moderation is the key to everything.

© Emittravel 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stuff My Brain Says #71

In the course of three short conversation topics I found a common theme.

In one topic, the person I was speaking with mentioned only relaxing (in reference to vacations) during time at a pool or a massage. I told the person I can't relax in a massage, because I'm afraid that if I do I might pee myself (and now so will you!).

In the next topic, I mentioned I don't like going to movie theaters, because you can't pause the movie to go to the bathroom (we even pause TV shows on Netflix or DVD at least once - not necessarily to pee; sometimes we are putting in, not putting out ... ).

In the third topic, I told of riding my motorcycle home from work. I wear chaps when I'm not wearing jeans, so most rides to and from work I wear chaps over the dress pants. One day I'm riding and a large storm cloud comes across in front of me. I'm thinking, "Holy crap, I'm going to get soaked." Just as the storm cloud passes, and I breathe a sigh of relief for missing it, the rain comes down and I get soaked. Okay, not necessarily soaked: I'm wearing chaps. Now, chaps cover your legs well, but they do not cover your butt, nor the area that is not considered your butt (front). So, when I get home and take off my chaps, my legs are dry; my butt is dry; my crotch looks like I pissed me a river.

Maybe it's the fact that as we get older, we tend to focus on life's "basic functions". Maybe, and maybe not. Either way I've come to the conclusion that I may not be only mentally incompetent, but I'm also mentally incontinent.

© Emittravel 2014