Category: Life Skills

How to Set up a Calendar with Ubuntu Touch and Nextcloud

1. Set up online account in Ubuntu Touch

You will need all your calendar info from your Nextcloud instance before beginning. Looks something like this: https://yourdomain.com/nextcloudserverlocation/remote.php/dav/calendars/username

  1. open calendar
  2. middle icon that shows grid calendar
  3. ‘add online calendar’
  4. choose NC
  5. enter credentials

2. Sync

UT calendar ‘should’ start syncing right away and you’ll see a little icon appear showing that sync started and stopped. Sometimes, however, it seems like a manual sync is required. You can do this by going to the calendar page and selecting the top right hamburger menu and then the circular arrow ‘refresh’ icon.

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How to Encrypt a Password Around and Merge Multiple PDFs in Ubuntu

For some reason, this is way harder than it should be. I thought I would be able to find a simple ‘pdf stitcher’ software in the Software Centre and just put them in there, arrange them and then export to PDF – with a password. I think this used to be possible with PDF Sam but anyway. This tutorial will hopefully be a long term and reliable way that we can do this in a pinch from any machine.

This is all terminal based so get ready to pump up your terminal skills.

1. Stick PDFs in a Dedicated Folder

Assemble into one directory all the PDFs you plan to stitch together and wrap up with a password. I think the command will only work if they are in one place so this step is important.

2. Install PDFTK

sudo apt install pdftk… I think… but you might need some other package these days… remind me in comments if this is wrong 🙂

3. Go to your PDF directory

Using the CD (change directory) command, navigate to the directory you made in step 1.

4. Run the Command for One Page Only.

This is the basic format for PDFTk showing one file being output with a new name and a password

pdftk [mydoc_old].pdf output [mydoc_new].pdf user_pw [awesomepasswd]

In this case you”ll swap out the filenames accordingly.

*Special note! do not put the square brackets in there. those are just to show you what needs to be swapped out. I actually did this and wasted a lot of time (lol)

Also, take note of this, you ‘might’ get a warning that the PDF has a user password and you can’t do these tasks because you don’t know the owner password. It seems banks do this on their bank statements, which is funny, because they don’t supply a secure way to send banking documents to them and ask me to email…

Error will look like this if you need to work around it:

filename.pdf
has set an owner password (which is not required to handle this PDF).
You did not supply this password. Please respect any copyright.

I found a nice work around to stick it to these bankers which is to use the Ubuntu ‘print’ (ie. printing to your printer) and then change from your printer to ‘print to file’. Side note: If you didn’t know about this built in and super easy PDF feature and you only need to do one PDF at a time and no encryption, this is the way to do it.

The output PDF from this method seems to strip away any of the ‘owner password’ annyoyances. Hint: this is also a good time to rename your individual pdfs to a number in the order you want them to appear in the final merged PDF. I do 001, 002, 003 during this phase making the next section way, way easier.

5. Run the Command for Merging Multiple PDFs

The process is the same as above, but now that you have your folder full of 001, 002, 003 numbered files, here is what you do:

pdftk [001].pdf [002].pdf [003.pdf] output [mydoc_new].pdf user_pw [awesomepasswd]

Once you hit ‘enter’ a new file will appear in the same directory with name ‘mydoc_new.pdf’ and will have 001, 002, 003 in it and be locked behind the password ‘awesomepasswd’.

Pretty handy especially when you have to deal with ‘owner passwords’ in the PDF.

Hope this helps!

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How to Flash OpenWRT onto a Zsun Card

Background

EDIT JAN 7, 2019
Warning! Before beginning this tutorial, note that I have **fried** two Zsun devices nearly immediately after doing these steps. My theory appears to be correct that as soon as you flash to OpenWRT the default power output is way, way too high and so it starts heating up and frying it. Within about 15 minutes of flashing both devices were dead and inaccessible – their SSID didn’t even show up. I am now testing another one where I dropped the power to low and it’s still alive after about 45 minutes. Therefore pay special attention I’m going to test another one now, but in case you find this blog today, you might want to wait a few days for my findings….

I found a lot of pages on the internet showing that it’s possible to flash OpenWRT onto a Zsun Smart Card Reader. A friend gave me a couple and I wanted to try some mesh network ideas. However, for some reason I couldn’t find everything in one spot for Ubuntu, so I’m writing this guide for anyone else who might want to try. There was also a significant bug I encountered which I overcame which might help you if you have tried and failed in the past.

I also recommend staying fully disconnected from your home wifi while you are doing this to avoid confusion. If you have access to an ethernet cable and router this will make things a bit more simple.

What You Will Need

  1. Zsun Reader
  2. micro SD card to insert into reader – BONUS! I just discovered you only need this for the flashing process and then can remove and use again for flashing other devices (microSD not required to function as extender!)
  3. Ubuntu machine with understanding of how to open a Terminal
  4. (optional) A dedicated folder/directory on your computer where you can ‘do all your actions’. I find this reduces risks and helps you keep your files in one place. You can even download this blog to PDF and put it in the same folder.
  5. All the stuff you need in one place on local machine (because your internet will go down while flashing)

Step 1: Download to local machine the File you will need to flash onto the Zsun

I found it really hard to find the file on this page. Here is a direct link to the file and save this in a memorable location on your computer as we’ll need to access it soon.

Direct link to download

Step 2: Make sure your micro SD card is formatted to FAT32

On ubuntu you can do this by pressing the super key, typing ‘disk’and using the disk utility. Note – always unplug all external drives you do not want to accidentally kill! Also pay super-special attention you are not accidentally formatting your own computer’s hard drive (I’ve done this hard life lesson and you don’t want it)

Step 3: Insert empty and correctly formatted card into the Zsun card reader

Self explanatory

Step 4: Plug in Zsun card reader into your computer (or any powered usb slot)

Self explanatory

Step 5: Connect the Zsun to your WIFI network

This is funny because I totally missed this step and (obviously) it has to be connected to the network in order for it to show up in network and be able to access the admin page. I had an attempted connection which failed and then the second time it connected. You connect to it like any wifi network but it won’t ask for a password.

Step 6: Make Card Accessible to Admin

I ‘guess’ that this step in one of the tutorials I read preps the card to be able to access via Samba. Not sure, I could not access the files on the card until I performed this step so let’s do that now. In a browser, copy/paste this:

http://10.168.168.1:8080/goform/Setcardworkmode?workmode=0

It should spit back this:
{"status":"0"}

Note: if you get ‘connection refused’ message in the next step you may have to re-try this command a few times. Make sure you are actually connected by wifi to device. One time I had to do a full computer reboot too and then it seemed to work.

Step 7: Access the Zsun via Samba (SMB)

(reminder this is an Ubuntu tutorial so you might have to do it a different way on your machine if it isn’t the same)

The super painful part of this tutorial for me is that this easy part was subject to a weird Ubuntu bug that tracks back nearly 10 years. If you are bored you can read about it here, but probably, like me, you just want to hack this zsun and then put evertyhing back the way it was. So let’s do that:

Step 8: Overcoming the Ubuntu Samba Username password bug

  1. in a terminal enter this:
    sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
  2. Scroll down into the ‘Authentification’ section.
  3. at the very bottom in the space just above the “Domains” section, paste in (with control shift paste) this:

security = user
client use spnego = no

  1. ctrl x to get out
  2. ctrl y to agree to write the changes

Step 9: Continue with Tutorial and Accesss the Zsun via Samba

  1. Open Nautilus (called ‘Files’ on the launcher) (the file cabinet icon thing…)
  2. Go to ‘Other locations’ on the left menu at the bottom. A ‘Enter server address’ field will appear.
  3. Type in zsun address as follows: smb://10.168.168.1
  4. enter admin/admin pass/user (don’t worry about ‘workgroup’)
  5. when greeted with ‘public’ enter that directory
  6. hit ‘contrl h’ on your keyboard which will show hidden folders. If you don’t do this step you might not think the next step will work since it’s a hidden folder.
  7. You should see ‘trash~’ something. But if you don’t… whatever. Seems to work if it’s fully blank too… Here is where you create the following folder (with the dot/period in front):
    .update if it doesn’t appear after creating this folder, review step 6 above…
  8. Drag and drop the file you downloaded way above (SD100-openwrt.tar.gz) into this new .update folder. Yes, the whole tar file, don’t extract it.
  9. CRITICAL STEP! Before doing step 10, make sure you skip ahead, and deeply familiarize yourself with the steps following it because you will have a short time to do those steps before the device fries and dies. Once you have read it all (especially big step 11 below) then come back here and execute step 10.
  10. After you are sure that the file is done copying in, go to a browser and enter this:

http://10.168.168.1:8080/goform/upFirmWare

When you see this, things should be working:
{"status":2}

Here is a fair-use paste from buddy’s blog

Wait for the reboot into OpenWRT

Wait for long LED flash, then multiple fast flashes – now OpenWRT is booting for the first time.
There will be a long period of (normal slow) flashing, then one long flash, then a whole bunch of very fast flashes. The ZSun Wifi network disappears, and eventually re-appears as OpenWRT.

What he didn’t add that I discovered was when everything is totally done it will be a solid light colour.

SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE (in case you missed my other 20 warnings…) immediately as quickly as possible and reduce transmission power on device! Learn how to do this in Big Step 11 below …if it’s not too late.

Step 10: Log into your new OpenWRT Mini Router!

I have another OpenWRT router going in my house so right away I’m going to log into the new little guy here and change it’s IP address to something different to make sure they don’t conflict. The default OpenWRT is 192.168.1.1 so we’ll access it there now.

You’ll get a browser warning that it’s not secure. No problem, add exception, move forward.

You’ll be greeted with a log in screen with no password set.

Log in.

Step 11: Turn Down Radio Transmission Power to Prevent Deep Fried Zsun!

IMMEDIATELY reduce the transmission power of the device. The default is set to the maximum power and it will fry/kill this device in less than 10 minutes after you flash it. I lost two devices this way so act quickly as follows:

1. Go to network

2. go to ‘wifi’

3. click ‘edit’ on the ‘OpenWRT’ entry

4. Drop transmit power to 4 (lowest)

5. ‘save and apply’ button at the bottom

This will momentarily disconnect you from the device while it makes these settings. From here, assuming my theory above is true, you can start doing other things now such as resetting your device access password:

Go to ‘system’ and ‘system administration’ and create a new user/password

Step 12: Undo whatever we did to that Samba bug above (If you want)

Remember when we fixed that Samba bug above? I’m frankly not sure if that was a secure thing to do so let’s undo it in your computer just in case by going back in the same way, deleting those lines you added, and then saving.

Step 13: Remove microSD

As mentioned above, the microSD is no longer required if you are just using device as a wifi range extender (see this tutorial). You can unplug, remove microSD and plug it in now.

Step 13: Enjoy!

The rest, my friends, is up to you. Hope this helps!

Thanks to the following resources

  1. This nice video helped me create this Ubuntu guide
  2. This great blog entry mentioned at the beginning.
  3. Of course the awesome people who hacked this thing here

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Stop Fighting Apple-Just Force this Disclosure on buyers!

I’m super bored reading these kind of stories.  I’ve been free from such software and hardware for many years so at this point it’s just boring.  However, I do have a solution instead of trying to sue them for monopolizing or overcharging: just force a really simple, plain language disclosure document before the sale of any Apple Inc device. Here is my proposed disclosure:


I understand that by purchasing this Apple Inc device I will be forced into a software environment called the “App Store” that is the equivalent of a rigid monopolist jail cell.  I understand that the only apps I will be able to install must come from this Apple ‘App Store’.  There is no other way to get an app without violating your warranties but through this monopolist app store .

Because Apple Inc will take from the software developers who develop for this device a mandatory 30% of the purchase price when you purchase an app through their system, I could either be spending money on an app that could be otherwise free, or spending 30% more than I could while software developers try to make up for their business losses from this significant commission that Apple unilaterally takes for itself. 

Furthermore, I also understand that I will risk the chance of having my device’s performance remotely throttled by Apple Inc whenever they feel it is right to do so and without first consulting me about it.  I also understand that even the hardware itself is made with proprietary connectors (i.e. chargers) that will not work with other standard industry connectors.

I also understand that there are other software systems such as Linux which has operating systems such as Ubuntu, that respect my freedom and choices, and provide free software and free delivery of software and that are capable of running on top of many different types of hardware, including mobile phones.  I understand that many of the large corporations (such as Apple, Google) run these Linux systems for their own computers and servers. 

I declare that no one is forcing me to enter into this relationship with Apple Inc, that I have do have choices, that I have been warned, and I now choose to move forward with this purchase and risk suffering all of the above pains.

________________________

Apple Inc Device Customer

 

__________________________
Date of purchase

 


 

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How to Convert YouTube Video into MP3 Audio

This is a useful tool and tutorial if you, for example, make a video on Youtube and then want to publish the audio quickly on Soundcloud (or somewhere else).

If you aren’t already running Ubuntu on your computer this will be a couple of steps more difficult for you but well worth the effort.

Step 1: Get Ubuntu on your computer

If you don’t know what this, look it up and get it done.  Apple and Microsoft are so restrictive, un-secure, and 1990….

Step 2: Open a terminal

If you don’t know what this is, go look that up too.

Step 3: Install Youtube-dl tool with Terminal

Make sure the youtube-dl app thing is installed on your machine by pasting this into your terminal.  Note, you cannot just ‘control c/control-v’ into a terminal but you need to hold down both control *and shift* before pressing V to paste…  ready?  Ok, control C this into your computers clipboard (if it runs the command upon pasting, you’ll have to type it out manually, sorry)

sudo apt install youtube-dl

Now press enter in Terminal.

This will complete the installation of the tool.  Say ‘yes’ if it asks you to do anything since it’s just hard to argue these days…

Step 4: Copy the ‘magic line’ into your clipboard

We say ‘magic’ in technology when we’re doing something that is harder than sending an email.

Copy this ‘magic line’ of whatever to your computer with control C

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3

Step 5: Paste the ‘magic line’ into your Terminal

Paste the ‘magic line’ into your terminal taking note of my notes in Step 3…  pay special attention that there is only one trailing space and no other stuff after the ‘3’ in mp3.  You are going to paste a URL here from the video in the next step so extra garbage before or after the ‘magic line’ could mess it up.

Step 6: Copy Video URL from Youtube to clipboard

Using the ‘share’ link from the Youtube video (I find this works better than the main video URL…) copy the URL to the computer clipboard.

Step 7: Paste video URL to Terminal

Paste the video URL at the end of the magic line in your terminal using again my notes from Step 3.

Step 8: Press ‘enter’ in Terminal and get some popcorn

Press ‘enter’ on your keyboard.  The thing should run and it will be dumping the mp3 audio into your ‘home’ folder on your computer.  It takes a bit of time for this step so let it go and have a coffee

Boom.  A nice MP3 of your video.

Thanks to all the folks who made the youtube-dl tool!

Thanks to all the efforts of the free software community who make all of this possible.

Extra note: If, for some reason everything looks like it was running fine and you can’t find your new MP3 file in the Home directory, it’s possible the defaults were changed by you or something else and the Terminal downloaded the video somewhere else.  Do a system wide search for your file and you’ll probably find it somewhere.  This happened to me a few times 🙁

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How to Fix Black and Decker Coffee Grinder in 10 minutes

Ever seen this coffee grinder?

 

Hopefully you weren’t unfortunate to buy it, but if you were and dropped the lid JUST ONCE, you will know that Black and Decker designed this to break.  They had to actually think long and hard in a design room to figure out a way to make sure this would break in the first few months.  Anyway, they upset me so much with this one that I actually decided to fix it so that their evil design team wouldn’t have the joy of knowing I ‘might’ buy another one…

Now, to upset them more, I’m going to share this 10 minute fix with you.

It’s so easy, I’m not even going to give instructions.  Just let the pictures do the teaching, and enjoy your totally perfectly coffee grinder.

 

STEP 1

STEP 1

 

STEP 2

STEP 3

 

 

STEP 4

 

STEP 5 – ENJOY!

 

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How to Eat a Digital Elephant One Bite at a Time

I can’t believe I didn’t blog this before but let’s put my regrets aside.

So, you have come to realize that everyone who knows how technology works was right – it’s all spying on you.  And, well, you don’t like it but – you don’t know where to start.  You feel overwhelmed.  Many people have these kind of feelings

  • I’m too busy to figure this out
  • I’m afraid to try something new in case something breaks
  • I’m used to letting ‘geniuses’ fix my tech
  • I’m too old
  • Everything is changing to fast
  • I just want it to work

Ok, these are all normal feelings but let me be crystal clear that none of them are an excuse for letting a creep spy on you.  Imagine if a peeping tom had binoculars fixed on your bedroom window. It’s as bad as that or worse so do something today, ok?

Great.  Let’s get started.

THE SOCIAL STUFF

This is the most scary stuff.  I watch my foolish friends and family amass the precious photos and history of their children (who had no choice in the matter) onto the servers of some very uncool people.  What’s most frightening is that 9 out of 10 of these people don’t even know exactly how the technology works.  If you are one of those 9, just trust me and start making the better choice for your family with the following alteratives – and bring your friends and family so that you aren’t alone.

UnsafeSafer AlternativeWhere to get itQuick Notes
Facebook*Diasporahttps://diasporafoundation.org/Choose a pod. Sign up. Bring your friends and family. Never go back to facebook. Totally decentralized. Totally your data. You can even import and export all your data!
TwitterMastodonhttps://mastodon.socialFun and extremely awesome and powerful. Totally decentralized. Totally your data.
InstagramTBAlet me know!

THE PERIPHERAL STUFF

The first step is to start switching from unsafe ‘peripherals’ to safer ones.  These will immediately start helping you relax about change because your operating system will be familiar.  It’s kind of like renovating an ensuite washroom before tackling the kitchen.  It kind of eases you into this new and safer life. But before we move on to this easy and simple step, please keep in mind that your ultimate goal *must* be to remove all unsafe operating systems from your life.  This includes Apple, Microsoft and Android.

But for now, let’s start with taking one bite of the elephant.

Unsafe Safer AlternativeWhere to get itQuick Notes
Microsoft Office SuiteLibre Officehttp://www.libreoffice.org/Wipes out Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and more while leaving you with *more* power and features and a great experience.
WhatsAppTelegram Messengerhttps://telegram.org/Not only open source but feature loaded and works on literally any device as well as even on a web browser.
Kakao TalkTelegram Messengerhttps://telegram.org/See notes above
Skypehublhttps://hubl.in/Browser based. Just allow it to use your mic/camera. Use it on almost any device. Once finished with link, never use it again, or link stays active and you can use it again and again. Multiple people at the same time is also awesome. No file sharing yet but Telegram can do this while on a chat.
Skypejitsihttps://meet.jit.si/Have heard good reports that jitsi works well on self-hosting (even safer)
Google ChromeFirefox
Internet Explorer (or whatever dumb new name they give to the same garbage)Firefoxhttps://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/Most people use this anyways, but just in case you are really lost... Also, the plugins you can add to this make browsing so much more awesome.
Outlook ExpressThunderbirdhttps://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/Just awesome and then you just plug in Enigmail plugin for total email encryption.
icloudNextcloudhttps://nextcloud.com/You can either buy their box or install it on an old computer as a server... or put it on shared hosting. Pure sweetness in cloud file stuff.
Adobe PhotoshopGIMPhttps://www.gimp.org/Unbelievably robust and easy to use. Edit photos like a pro or as a pro and never turn back.
Missed any?? Let me know!

EMAIL

So now we have the stuff out of the way, we need to deal with email by itself.

Most people, sadly, use some of the most compromising and horrific spying machines around.  Some of these might look familiar:

  • hotmail
  • gmail
  • yahoo
  • live
  • outlook
  • etc

First of all, putting technology aside, your email address actually speaks volumes about who you are as a person.  For more on this, read my post here about that.  But, on top of that, it’s not secure having your email on someone’s computer.  For just a second ask yourself this concerning question: Why would a company pay to give you free email?  Answer: to market to you or worse. So in order to market to you they must have all your data.  Haven’t you ever wondered why advertisements start to look very, very similar to what you are doing in your life?  Yeah.  That’s because of that (and other things)

For email, if you are technologically savvy enough you ‘could’ run your own email server which would be the safest possible solution.  However, it’s not that easy.  Maybe your friend could set it up, but if you don’t have such a friend, what is best is to stop supporting these companies who prey on people like this and move to something cooler.  It’s really *not* that expensive to pay for email.  Here is what you do:

  1. buy a domain like ‘your name’
  2. choose something cool that goes before it like ‘me’ or ‘name’
  3. call a company that sells domains and email (preferably in a country like Canada) and force their tech support to set it up.

Then you would have an email like this:

me@yourname.ca

If it’s not available there are countless Top Level Domains (TLDs) that you can choose from and certainly one of these will be waiting for you.  And it’s fun!

Just make sure that when you buy your domain and email that you have enough memory.  Most of them have some kind of unlimited plan for memory so go with that.  Also, make sure that it has IMAP support – I would be shocked if they didn’t but this is the email service you want.  You should budget about $15/year for the domain and another $?? for email and storage.  I have been really happy with Canadian Web Hosting for service and pricing if I can make a quick plug.  For about $5.00/month to have safe email per person is pretty reasonable.  If you have another reason to have a website, you could simply get unlimited email through your website hosting plan as well.  This requires a little more skill but it’s not that hard.  A friend who runs their own website should be happy to set it up for you once you purchase.  I would do this for my friends…

Now you’ve got your email and your other ‘stuff’ more secure, the last discussion is the big one.

THE OPERATING SYSTEM

You need to start planning to get rid of your current operating system which is probably either Apple/mac or Microsoft Windows.  These companies have compromised many things at your expense of both dollars and privacy.  They do not deserve your business nor are there endless reasons to stay with them.  For 99% of people they could switch 100% to a safer option and be completely happy.  There are a very small number of people in niche markets like print and design and perhaps medicine where the entire industry has forced everyone to communicate with these corrupted systems.  In these cases you may need to keep one computer for ‘work only’ and your ‘personal life’ should be immediately moved to a safer option.

I recommend that everyone immediately switch their desktop and laptops to Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the safest, fastest, most supported and most loved free and open source operating system in the world.  Switching to Ubuntu operating system is not that difficult but it does require enough comfort and skill.  It’s easy enough to learn, but if you do have access to an ubuntu community near you, you should join that community or start one yourself.

Soon Ubuntu will be ready to go for mobile devices too.  This is another reason why it would be wise to consider Ubuntu.

UBUNTU WEBSITE

 

A NEW AND SAFER INTERNET

Another important thing that we will all need to work on quickly is to create a new and community-owned internet.  This is a bigger picture discussion but please also start preparing your mind for ‘mesh networks‘.  I will post more here as I learn and this will be my new focus for 2017 and 2018 because what good is all this safe stuff if we are using them on unsafe platforms owned by people who have agendas that we cannot control?

I hope this has helped someone break the chains.

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Wayne’s Random Vegan Lowish Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan. Low(ish) sugar

+++ Wayne's Random Dairy-Free Somewhat Low-Sugar Oatmeal Cookie Things +++



 ** In a small/medium mixing bowl, stick a strainer thing on top and add:

-->1 cup of whole wheat flour

-->1 teaspoon (or more?) cinnamon

-->1 pinch of nutmeg

-->1 teaspoon of baking soda

**In another bigger bowl add:

-->1/4 cup brown sugar

-->1/4 cup white sugar (note that some have reduced this further with satisfaction)

-->1/2 cup of oil (I use whatever kind of oil is there, ha)

**Cream that bad boy up with your whipper machine thing that beats (note that some use a manual whisk...)

**Add to this liquidy oily mess:

-->1 teaspoon (maybe?) of vanilla extract fake stuff

-->2 breakfast cereal spoons of almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or I
guess milk-milk if you like drinking cow milk

**blend it again.

**Dump in the flour mix.

**blend it again

Fold in:

-->3/4 cup of oats and then

-->1/4 cup of raisins (or more... or less..depends on how much you love raisins?)

make cookie balls

flatten them on a cookie tray (or don't) and then bake those bad boys
for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees (F? C?)

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Sinners Sin: Dealing With Disappointment in Myself and Others

“What do you expect? Sinners sin.” – Unnamed Pastor, 2001

Struggling with disappointment in others and in myself seems to be a never-ending theme in my life. Deep in my heart and in my mind has always been the very keen awareness that there does exist somewhere perfection.

The concept of perfection is set deep in all of our consciousness. We all know things were supposed to be perfect but they aren’t. Some people seem to be able to cope better in this imperfect world whereas people like myself take imperfection very personally (and sometimes hard).

In myself, I have a strong desire to live in a very perfect and systematized world where I go to the cupboard, open it, and find exactly what I need and instantly because it’s perfectly organized. When I leave the cupboard, it should close by itself because why would a cupboard that doesn’t close itself even exist in a perfect world? It simply wouldn’t. I desire also that the food items in the fridge would be in a perfect rotation (like what you would have in a retail environment) so that old food moves to the front so that food wastage is reduced to zero. My alarm would always work perfectly and I would always be up before 4am so that I could maximize the day – reading my Bible and spending time in prayer so that I would then have the strength to go to my wife and kids, and love them with all that I have – encouraging them and being a great inspiration to them.

I would then start my day and I would call people, leave them a message of value, and they would call me back when they got my message. The suppliers that I work with would supply everything on time and the communication would always be predictable. Inside the company, everyone would be on the same page and things would never have to be repeated twice because even children don’t require that kind of babysitting usually. One email sent would conclude the matter and I could move on. Balls would not get dropped because everyone else also wants a perfect world, surely. Surely it’s not just me who wants a perfect world and a world without fights and tension.

In all facets of life, when something is communicated transparently and clearly such as ‘this is very important to me’ then no person would throw that aside and do exactly what would upset or hurt me because I have clearly explained to them how to not upset or hurt me.  I made it impossible for them to hurt me…

Yet everything and everyone is broken.

Broken, broken, broken.

Imperfect, screwed up and lost.

Everything.

Everyone.

Including me.

Yes. Including me – as much as I despise the thought of being ‘one of them’.

How can I possibly live like this?

How can I go on?

How can I not quit and get into despair and depression?

Everything is so, so broken.

Thankfully, there is hope and with this hope, I write the rest of this really to encourage myself. I hope that as I write this next part that someone else also benefits from what I believe will be deep revelation.

You can (and should) read about how there was a time when humans walked in the earth in perfection. They didn’t fight, they walked in the cool of the day with God and they had dominion over nature. Things were perfect.

But all men are sinners, thanks to Adam/Eve making a poor life choice.  Here is exactly how bad it is.  Read it.  Soak it in.  Really get a grasp on this reality:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10-18, 23)

And so we have a pre-programmed hunger for that Garden of Eden perfection, yet we live in broken vessels full of wickedness. Here is how we live now:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)

We *know* God is out there.  And we *know* He is perfect.  His creation all around it *proves* it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Even our own minds have gone dark:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:21)

And so this life remains a balance between grace and longing. We long to be with our Creator in perfect perfection forever, yet we need His grace to get there. Once we have this grace we can then possibly have the grace required to deal with others around us. Once we realize this incredible brokenness and weakness we are living in, it’s very difficult to expect others to be perfect. In fact, you would be downright surprised when they get anything right, or do anything good.

I’ll never forget this one time when I approached a pastor to vent my incredible disappointment towards someone. He asked me “Is he a believer?” I replied “No.” He then said the most simple thing that has helped me ever since when he replied back “Sinners sin. That’s what they do.”

He was perfectly right.  Our very nature is full to the brim of sin. Our only desire is wickedness and selfishness and our programming code is so messed up that all we know to do is wickedness.

Lately, I have decided to make this whole thing much more simple for myself. When dealing with myself and all the disappointments I have in myself, I’m going to remind myself that I’m not perfect, and that although it’s ok to long for perfection, it’s not ok to expect it on earth. I’m also going to spend more time asking God to totally change my nature. I know that it is a biblical promise for this change, and I need it real bad. The more that God changes my nature to be like him, the more grace I will have towards myself and others.  Here is the promise onto which I firmly grasp:

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Until then, I’m going to simply one step further. I’m going to look at every person, no matter who they are and their background or current status in the world and say:

“Look at this poor, broken vessel. How much God loves this person and how much God wants to start the work of transformation him/her! But this person is broken and unable to do even the things they want to do. They, like me, fail themselves daily and others. When they fail you or disappoint you, never forget they are broken. God, help me to love them just as they are and help me, a broken vessel, deal with them the best I can with your strength.”

A to the MEN!

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How to Sync a Calendar Between Owncloud/Nextcloud and Thunderbird Lightning

For some reason this is not that intuitive the first time and there don’t seem to be many/any specific tutorials out there.  I kept getting a ‘modification fail’ error message or other errors. So, here you go:

In Nextcloud/Owncloud

1. Log in to your browser-based owncloud/nextcloud page

2. Go to the top left and click the down arrow to access the calendar app

Note: this *must* be enabled first by your admin, if you happen also to be your own admin

01_nextcloud_lightning

3. Grab the caldav link from the … share icon drop down

02_nextcloud_lightning

4. Select the content of the link and copy it to your clipboard (control A/Control C)

03_nextcloud_lightning

Back in Thunderbird Lightning

Note: You must first have the Lightning add-on installed in Thunderbird if yours does not already have it.  It should come default but I recall in the past it did not…

Now skip past step #10 in this tutorial, and start at the ‘Back in Thunderbird Lightning’ steps

The key point is that it is ‘caldav’ that you select, *not* ical.

 

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