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Category: Life Skills

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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Working with PDFs in Ubuntu

Ubuntu is by far the best operating system in existence.  One of the things that hasn’t been broadcast around much is how Ubuntu is also awesome for business.

If you run a business (or work in one) you will know that PDF files are one of the most standard documents that you work with, or would like to work with.  Here is a bullet proof list of things that I’m always dealing with and that Ubuntu solves:

  • people sending .jpg or .tiff or .png files instead of PDFs (unprofessional but a reality)
  • PDF files being way too big which is unfair to bandwidth, especially if someone will be downloading on a mobile (good percentage chance)
  • I need to split a bunch of pages, do something, and then glue them back together again and I don’t want to print it all and scan it
  • I need to watermark or stamp a PDF with something
  • I need to create a PDF from a word processing document or spreadsheet

These are just some of my regular issues, but great news!  All of them will be solved for you in this post, once and for all, and for free.

How to Compress a Big PDF File Without Killing the Quality

This one took me a while, but all you have to do is:

  1. open a terminal (if you don’t know how, click here)
  2. Navigate with the terminal to where your over-sized PDF file is (If you don’t know how, go to the section on “File & Directory Commands” on this page.)
  3. In the gobbly-gook that is sitting in step #4 below, change the ‘OUTPUTFILENAME’ to the name you want the resulting file to be named and the INPUTFILENAME to the name of the file that is too big and is sitting in the directory you just navigated to.
  4. copy this gobbly gook into your computer clipboard AFTER doing step #3 to it.  I would recommend pasting it to a separate text editor (like body of an email) first, do your changes, and then re-pasting it to the terminal) :  gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/default     -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -dDetectDuplicateImages     -dCompressFonts=true -r150 -sOutputFile=OUTPUTFILENAME.pdf INPUTFILENAME.pdf
  5. Copy your updated version of the gobbly-gook to the computer’s clipboard
  6. Paste it to the terminal with this *different* version of control V.  If you use the normal paste, it won’t work.  Do this: control + Shift (same time) then press ‘v’ and it will paste to the terminal.
  7. press the enter key and the process will run

You should now have a smaller PDF file that didn’t lose too much quality.  There are other versions of this command above which I found killed the quality too much. This one was great for me.

How to Convert a .jpg or a .tiff or a .png File to a PDF File

  1. Open a terminal (if you don’t know how, click here)
  2. Navigate with your terminal to where your .jpg or a .tiff or a .png files are (If you don’t know how, go to the section on “File & Directory Commands” on this page.)
  3. type ‘convert’ and then start typing the name of the file you want to convert.  *TIP: after you start typing the file name, you can press ‘tab’ and it will auto fill.  If it doesn’t completely auto fill it means there is another file name there similar so you have to type a few more letters and then ‘tab’ again.  This saves much time and errors.
  4. start typing the name of the file you want the newly created PDF to be named.  Likely it will be the same as the photo name which is great and convenient because you can use the same TIP above with the tab button and it will auto-fill it quickly.  Caution: if you use auto-fill make sure you change the last three letters to ‘.pdf’ so that it will actually open as a pdf!
  5.  Here is what an example command will look like before you press enter: convert photo_document.png photo_document.pdf
  6. Press enter

If you know how to do basic terminal navigation, this is truly a lightening fast process and super useful.  That said, there is probably a light conversion app out there that does this on Ubuntu and I’d like not to use the terminal if possible so please share

How to Take a Multi-Page PDF File and Split Them into Individual Files

  1. go to the Ubuntu software center search and get “PDF Sam” pdf_sam
  2. Use the ‘split’ feature
  3. Mess around with all the options (I don’t have time to do a full tutorial here)
  4. Enjoy!

How to Take a Multi-Page PDF File and Split Them at a Certain Point in the File

 

  • go to the Ubuntu software center search and get “PDF Sam” pdf_sam
  • Use the ‘split’ feature
  • Make sure you choose the ‘split after these pages’ and the file will ‘cut’ right there.  I haven’t tried it but I bet you could put a comma in there after each page number you want to split at and split a whole series of pages….
  • Enjoy!

 

How to Watermark or Stamp or Batch Adjust Multiple Pages on a PDF in 10 Easy Steps

Tutorial about how to stamp.

Tutorial about how to watermark.

How to Rotate All Pages in a Multi Page PDF File

I wrote this tutorial earlier for this one here.

How to Turn Anything You Can Print into a PDF Document (ie. Emails, web pages, etc)

I wrote this tutorial earlier for this one here.

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How to Back up and Move from One Email Server to Another

My goal:  Move my email safely from one email service provider to another (IMAP).

I was surprised that it wasn’t that easy to find a simple step by step tutorial out there to do this.  I hope this tutorial will help someone.  If your email account is old, this process may take quite a bit of time, so please allow a few hours or have a second computer to work on while the process is happening.

Pre-Migration Suggestions

-make sure no other inboxes on other machines are being used at this time (ie. mobiles, other computers)

-assumptions are that you have already using Thunderbird email client on your computer

-tutorials always work better if Ubuntu is your operating system

-if you have created local folders in Thunderbird (folders that reside on the computer itself and don’t sync with the email IMAP syncs) then note that these will not be affected but you should consider them in your back up procedures because they also will not be backed up

1. Create your new email service with new provider
This is pretty obvious, but just make sure it’s all set up and that it is an IMAP setup.  We will assume IMAP moving forward.  Make sure your user name and password are handy

2. Create a new email account in Thunderbird, name it ‘new email server’ (or something to distinguish it as new provider), and plug in the credentials as you set it up

Most good email service providers will have a dedicated tutorial about how to set up an email account with their company using Thunderbird.  If they don’t consider ditching them as a company because they are weird and probably useless and a recipe for future pain. If you can’t track it down, this one should get you going from the folks at Mozilla

HOW TO MANUALLY SET UP EMAIL ACCOUNT IN THUNDERBIRD

3. Make sure you subscribe to all IMAP folders on *both* old and new servers

QUICK TUTORIAL ABOUT HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO IMAP FOLDERS IN THUNDERBIRD

4. Click through each IMAP folder (inbox, sent, drafts, etc) and make sure all items are downloaded to target machine in Thunderbird

If you use multiple machines with your email, you should do this to make sure that this machine is up to date with email sync (ie. make sure that all your email machines have connected to the internet and synced up email).  Once you click through each email folder you’ll see the status bar showing progress of items downloading if any.  You may choose not to transfer your trash over (it is trash after all) but it works same way as any other folder.  Once you’ve clicked through each IMAP folder on *old/current* email provider and activity is over, proceed to the next step.  Please note the updates may take time if this machine has not been updated recently or at all.

5.  Select all items in folder

Starting with the inbox IMAP folder, press ‘control A’ which will select all the email messages in the inbox folder.  They will be highlighted so you  know they are selected.

6. Right click and ‘move to’ all the items to new server

You will see the new, nicely named server and it’s inbox when you right click.  You won’t, however, see the sub directories  like spam, drafts, etc.  Once you touch it with your mouse, however, they will appear.  Drop the inbox items into the inbox IMAP directory of new server. Please note, again, this will take time because the new email server is uploading the emails.  In my case it was about 15 minutes to do about 5000 emails.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 for the rest of the IMAP directories

8. Turn off old email, Turn on new

Once all the transfers are done, what I did was just change the Thunderbird password settings in my account settings to something incorrect so that my old email could no longer connect to the email server.  Then I simply started using the new email inbox as per normal.  I just wanted to make sure everything was transferred correctly before I go back and wipe everything associated with the old email inbox/account.

And that’s it. You should now have the old email server on your computer which is essentially disabled and useless and the new email server properly working.  You’ll also need to copy over your email signatures and all that stuff to the new server as a reminder.

Also note that when you are sending emails, if you don’t delete the old email server, there is a possibility that Thunderbird will default sending from the old one and receiving so you’ll have emails not working and you’ll think it’s broken.  That’s why naming the account something obvious is important because you can update those on the fly through the dropdown ‘reply-to’ field (from).  It will give you your old server and new server in the option list.

I think that covers it.  Enjoy!

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Cardboard Electronics by NewFoldr Most Exciting thing in Hardware for a While

Check this out.  Just so cool.  The hipsters should be all over this,  I’m thinking.  I like the idea of being able to add your own creativity to something electronic.  This is the missing ingredient for our generation.  We need to go back to the days when there was a ‘radio shack’ and dad and kid worked together on something instead of just consuming and tossing.  Nice and nice.  And it seems like there is open source licensing here, perhaps, albeit I haven’t researched the deets:

CARDBOARD ELECTRONICS BY NEWFOLDR – VERY COOL

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Are You a Victim of Abusive and Addictive Technology?

An article was forwarded to me this week by someone I know who believes strongly in the importance of ethical technology.  He is heavily involved in the Ubuntu project and we all share a desire to see a paradigm shift in the role of technology in our lives from that of a harmful consumable to a helpful benefit.

If you have looked down at your phone already since starting to read this blog you are a victim in the most serious way.  You can’t even focus for 30 seconds without running to the call of your taskmaster.

Before reading the article, I felt it would be beneficial to share some of the discussion that we had.  One friend suggested that people perhaps simply “don’t care”.  When that suggestion came I responded with this:

This issue is one of truth, in my opinion.

Everyone knows their phones own them. No secret. They know it whether they are in denial or not. So the issue is one of truth.

It seems that the same people who “don’t care”, also don’t seek out truth.  Seriously.  You have to be open-minded enough to realize that you could be the victim of someone with an agenda.

Most of the world hates truth.

“your phone owns you.”

possible response 1: yes it does. But what can you? (hears truth but rejects it by inaction)

possible response 2: no it doesnt. I’m in control. (liar)

possible response 3: yes it does. And I’m trying hard to get out of jail. (highly uncommon… like needle in haystack uncommon)

Compare this with:

“you shouldn’t eat sugar because it’s it’s bad for you”

possible response 1: Yes it is. but what can you do? It’s in everything?

possible response 2: I don’t eat that much. I’m not worried

possible response 3: yes, I know and I’m gradually reducing it from everything I eat/drink

Truth.

If someone loves truth it will be followed by action. Otherwise, you will see either denial/lying or submissive acceptance.

Now here is the article!

GREAT ARTICLE ABOUT ABUSIVE TECHNOLOGY AND HOW GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, LINKED IN AND OTHER COMPANIES MESS WITH YOUR MINDS AND LIVES.

 

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Healthy Biblical Position on Privacy and Security

Second revision: March 17, 2016

The other day I indicated to a Bible-believer friend that I would prefer to only communicate with this person (and everyone else) by means of Telegram or secured email, rather than SMS messaging or totally unsecured email.  To my surprise, this person replied back that they were ‘unsure of their biblical position on privacy’.

Being quite surprised, and being who I am, I replied back in a simple email that “this is not a topic of discussion because it’s so simple” and I blasted out my points.  I am not sorry for hitting this person hard with my opinion, but I am sorry, perhaps about making it sound like the dialogue was one way, and for not dedicating further explanation to my strong opinion.  People like me need to remember that technology for most people is like some kind of ‘magic’.  It just kind of works.  And when it doesn’t work they hate it.  It makes their life more convenient (so they think) and they do *not* want to change what works for them today.  That’s why you will see old people emailing forwarded attachment for young people to waste their time trying to open and then regret wasting their time opening…

But as a first step, I tried to imagine what they must be thinking about in terms of a position and brought it up with another believer and he came up with these things they must be considering:

  • God knows all, and my privacy exists not. If I’m not hiding from God, then why do I need to hide from people/man?
  • God’s will will be done, somewhat independently of my technological choices (Though He will choose to work through man).

I now can see how thoughts like these might actually put someone in a position of inaction or even a kind of technological paralysis, if you will.  Again, I understand more than anyone how making a big technological change takes time and thinking and often gets dropped down the list.

But if you claim to to believe and follow the teachings of the Bible, then you have a much different position to take and to me, this is a very simple position which I established with the following series of questions which needed to be answered:

  • Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?
  • Did God warn us about end times events?
  • If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

And so, this conversation, to me, is very similar to the conversation of “Why should I be worried about the environment if Jesus is coming tomorrow and the whole earth will be destroyed anyway?”  The reason someone would take this shallow perspective about God’s wonderful creation is because the creation scriptures were either missed, or God hasn’t yet opened their eyes.  But it’s certainly *not* the right way to treat the world while you are here.   People who have not yet gotten serious about their privacy and security with their technology are much like those who haven’t spent the time or energy to be concerned about the environment.  Yes, Jesus is coming tomorrow, but before that He has called us to be wise stewards of things while here and respect His creation.  Yes, Satan is having a heyday by spying on you but there are wonderful solutions out there that are not difficult to implement.  But, back to the unanswered questions above:

Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?

It’s wordly. It’s part of the world’s system.  Although it’s not in the Bible I feel confident there is no internet connection or GPS needed in heaven.  Furthermore, I feel that God has given us creative minds to help protect us against evildoers and the enemy’s work against us and our families while we bring the Good News to a dying world.  Another analogy I thought of was the smoke alarm.  Can God save you supernaturally from the perils of fire in your home? Certainly.  But he has also given us a simple device and a 9 volt battery which allows us to focus on sleeping instead of wondering if the house is on fire….  I really like that peace, but feel free to remove your smoke alarm, cowboy…

Did God warn us about end times events.

Yes.  There will be a mark of the beast which will prevent you from buying, selling, and essentially living normally in this earth’s system.  If you do not believe this will be facilitated by technology, you need not read further – you are out to lunch and seriously need a cold glass of water splashed in your sleepy face. It’s in the book of Revelation.  I think chapter 13.  Go ahead, read your Bible.  You clearly have missed your quiet time…

If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

Now, if you thought I was being hard on you up till now, put on your seat belt.  I have a strange feeling you will agree that the prophetic mark of the beast will be a technological device/system/chip/etc.  The Bible also says that we will be ‘hated by all nations for the name of Jesus.” (Jesus said that somewhere).  So I don’t foresee any other future for the Bible believers other than bleak in this world.  That’s also why Jesus said to ‘take up our cross daily’ and why Paul said somewhere “I die daily”.  This world ain’t our home sheepsters.  And so eventually all of us will be persecuted and killed.  Jesus promised it.  It’s a guarantee.  Sure, the rapture might happen before, during or after, but we can be sure that before then the enemy will be gathering digital data on who the believers are for simple one-stop destroying.  If there were no options at all to prevent, slow down, hinder, make more difficult, aggravate, challenge, etc this process, I’d say lie down in a ball and do nothing  because it’s over.  But there are lots of easy, fun, and excellent solutions to make the process much more difficult.  So, do we just go the way of the world in the treatment of our privacy and the privacy of our family, or do we take wise, active steps towards protecting this precious gift called privacy?  Do you let your children change into their pyjamas in front of an open window at night time because ‘you have nothing to hide’, or do you close the blinds as a preventative measure to prevent evil behaviour towards you?  Maybe you want to change naked in front of the window, but please, for the sake of your children, who rely on your wise leadership, close the blinds for them. And do the same with your digital life if not for you, for your children.  God did not put these prophecies in His word *only* as a warning.  A smoke alarm does not sound just to let you know the building is on fire, but to motivate you to get up and *do something*!

Jesus instructed us to be alert and to have our lamps full of oil for we know not when He is coming.  This ‘being alert’ is accomplished through the intellect as well as the spirit.  Jesus also said “Wow.  You guys fully trust your weather network meteorologists but you can’t even see the signs of my coming!”  So, Jesus gives us helpful hints along the way.

Jesus also said that your body is the temple.  I believe that means that we are to do as much as possible to respect that life and preserve it for life is a gift and the life is in the blood.  If you foolishly hand yourself over to be persecuted when a handy-dandy preventative tool was available, that’s just a dog gone waste, in my humble opinionatedness.

Since we are absolutely certain that persecution is coming, we must also be aware that there is a Judas in every group, unless you think that you are less susceptible than Jesus to a Judas.  The Word of God also talks about how our enemies will be those people of our own families for the name of Jesus.  Why do I mention this?  Because it’s critical that everyone be on board with privacy-protecting technology or the weakest link will collapse the group.  Especially if you are meeting in homes and looking less ‘churchy’ than the mainstreamers.

The JW’s like to look at persecution as a blessing but that’s not the blessing God is talking about.  Let’s work with this quick example.

Scenario 1: You are standing beside a railroad track.  You hear a train coming.  You jump on the track and say “God will save me!”  SPLAT!  Ooops.

Scenario 2: You are standing *on* the rail road track.  You hear a train coming.  You stand still and take no action and say “God will save me!” SPLAT!  Oops.

In both cases, you have committed sin.  The first was a sin of action and the second a sin of inaction.

In my increasingly opinionated humility, I believe by not protecting the privacy of yourself and your family and putting yourself in harms way knowing now that there are ways to prevent harm – that you are not pleasing the Lord.

Conclusion

How about this: Let’s forget your personal pain, suffering and inconvenience related to improving your technological habits.  Let’s say you just don’t care about you and that ‘God is coming soon anyway, so whatever.”  By not doing your part you are definitely hurting someone else who values privacy right now, because the seeds of loosely transmitted data are always felt in a crop down the road.  You are also assisting their enemies in all of their dirty work.  You are *not* “assisting terrorists” as the popular media would like to deceive you into believing.  No matter what way you look at this, giving freely *your* data only assists them with the task of hurting you and those around you – perhaps not today but one day. I also don’t mind a little bit of self-inflicted, but I shudder to think that lack of care about myself (ie. an unencrypted email about Jesus to my friend) might wind *them* up in jail or worse.  In this case sharing is *not* caring.

Perhaps you are thinking that by handing over all your data freely that you are helping the world catch bad guys. Ok, let’s roll with that idea.  Then, since you are not bad, you are actually wasting the time and computer resources of these good cops and their spy work because they are using unnecessary resources to spy on you – a good guy.  If you just encrypted, they would have passed over you and moved on to the foolish criminal who didn’t encrypt and caught him quicker.

Ultra Conclusion

The root cause of this ‘position problem’ is not a biblical one but an earthly one.  It’s one that needs to be dealt with in the earthly, soulical, intellectual way with the reasoning faculties that God gave you.  The problem is also rooted in your priority set.  Are you watching TV for an hour a day?  You could have spent that “technology time” learning about privacy solutions instead of having the boob tube pump fear into your heart with unfounded comments like ‘assisting terrorists’.  The other root cause of the problem is habits.  Bad habits die really hard.  The first step to stop smoking is to hear about the possibility that it might be bad for your health.  This blog has now been that to you for technology.  You know now.  You cannot claim ignorance.  The second step is to learn more to find out if it’s true.  This blog is only partly that.  You must now go and learn for yourself to see if what I’m saying is hogwash or beefdirt (just made that up).  The third step is to take action.  Do something.  Don’t just hand everything over to everyone on a silver platter – it’s really unwise – and it’s not nice to people who are trying to maintain *their* right to privacy.

Final note

I know this isn’t easy.  That’s why I’m writing hard to you.  It takes a bit of a kick in the hindquarters to start down a new road.  But here is the great news – each day gets easier.  With the right people around you and with enough time dedicated, you’ll be making great choices for you and your family in no time.  I hope this will spare many of you brothers and sisters a lot of future pain.  I’ll do my best to blog more practical solutions here as I find time but don’t sit around and wait for me.  The answers are easy to find.

And please – don’t be offended someone cuts off communication with you using technology if you refuse to remain unwilling to become proactive; You can’t expect them to put themselves or their family at risk for you when there are solutions available.

Milestones to Start (some are instant, some quick, some perhaps less quick)

Things You Can do Today to Improve

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. If using chatting IM apps, use Telegram. Telegram has encryption. Ditch the others ASAP. Bring your friends to Telegram when you ditch.
  3. Replace SMS with Telegram app wherever possible. SMS is brutally spied on.
  4. For email set up PGP encryption.
  5. Convert all your current computers to Ubuntu operating system
  6. Get immediately off: Facebook and Linked in and any other compromised ‘social media’.
  7. Ask all of your friends and family to respect you and your privacy by not asking you to participate in anything that violates your privacy (ie. unsecure email, SMS, etc)

Things you can do Today and Tomorrow (money may not permit today, but should be in plans)

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. When you buy your next mobile device, make sure it’s Ubuntu
  3. Disconnect from everything Google. And I mean *everything* (yes, it’s possible)
  4. Wipe the hard drives 100 times and sell or discard anything Apple/Mac
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Life Hack: Using Clips to Improve Your Life

I don’t usually find a lot of videos that have a wide appeal, but this bad-boy is really good.  Except for his use of unsafe technology (apple) in his demo and their nasty proprietary adaptors, this is a very inspiring and useful video.

USEFUL VIDEO TO USE CLIPS EVERY DAY

I had some challenges replicating his ear-bud trick because my ear buds have a rigid mute button section but I’m sure there is a way to make it work with that, too.

I’m definitely going to go and buy myself a bag of clips and I bet the clip industry just got a nice boost in annual revenue thanks to this dude.

I also found this article to build further on your already-excellent repertoire.

Hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

 

 

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