All posts by xolubi

Cats on Tuesday: Dear Henry

Snapshot_20090317_3 Dear Henry,

Last week Tuesday morning, you woke me up from sleep. It was so unlike you. I felt loved and couldn’t resist playing with you before going to the office.

You were on my mind all day at work. On my way back, I got you your favourite treat – mackerel in tomato sauce (popularly called geisha in these parts of the world). I knew you loved it. Yes, it was written all over your face.

I don’t know why I had to spoil the fun by letting that girl have you for the night. She came to me asking that she needed one of you guys to stay in her kitchen for the night to scare the shit out of the rats in there. I knew I wasn’t supposed to honour her request…but I don’t know why I still went ahead and did. I picked you. I believed you would make a good soldier.

On my way down the stairs, I saw the fear in your eyes but I chose not to acknowledge it. Stupidly. Heck, you even buried your claws deep into my flesh to let me realize what I was doing wasn’t funny. I still ignored you. Stupidly. We got to her place, I hurriedly dropped you and locked the door behind me. I knew you wanted to follow me back upstairs. I could see it. You jumped on the cabinet and looked at me through the window. I looked into your eyes, told you we’ll see in the morning. Little did I know that was the last I was going to see of you.

Early Wednesday morning, I came downstairs… only to realize you had gone. I know you wanted to come back home, but couldn’t. I shed a tear, tweeted about it, cursed myself for letting you out of my sight for the night… but all that could do nothing to bring you back home.

I can imagine how much you must have been bullied by other stray cats in the neighborhood, but I’m sure you’re ‘repping’ where you came from. Seriously, those cats have got nothing on you. I’m sure you’ll survive. And maybe one day, fate will bring us back together again.

Yours faithfully,

Dad.

 

Now playing: Kanye West – Coldest Winter

Wikinews: The unsung news source

240px-Wikinews-logo Anytime I want to look up a wikipedia article, I usually just Google it…or more recently, Bing it. Yesterday, I decided to go to Wikipedia’s home page, to see what’s new. I noticed something I was seeing for the first time – wikinews.

Wikinews? Ok from my knowledge of wikis, I should believe this “wikinews” is user-generated. I don’t know what surprised me the most. The fact that a user-generated news site exists, or the fact that users actually ‘generate’ news on this news site. I fired up TwitterFox and posted this “and how exactly does wikinews work” hoping someone would be kind enough to explain. A little over 2 hours later, the official English Twitter account for Wikinews responded and the following conversation started.

@en_wikinews: Wikinews works much like any other wiki. Collaborative journalism min this case. Plus we add an editorial review before publishing.
@xolubi: I’m surprised people actually submit news stories. And on time too.
@en_wikinews: We do have a policy about stale news. Many people contribute to Wikinews because they want to help provide Totally Free News.
@xolubi: How do you handle cases where news is submitted without the ‘actual’ source getting proper credit?
@en_wikinews: In order for news to be published on Wikinews, it must go through a 5 point independent review. Part of which is a copyvio check. (copyvio is short for copyright violation).
@xolubi: Care to share what this 5-point independent review comprises of?
@xolubi: Here’s hoping you don’t mind my questions.
@en_wikinews: Don’t mind at all, happy to explain. Wiki’s are open to all. The review process is documented in a template: http://enwn.net/9A37
@xolubi: Ok. Noticed a “post your opinion” link but no opinions posted yet. What will you say about traffic and how people see it as a news source?
@en_wikinews: There are “Opinion” pages for each article, welcoming comments from readers. Some articles get many comments http://enwn.net/cA24
@en_wikinews: As for traffic/news source: We’re not the biggest, but we’ve got a following. In July we had 5.9m page views http://enwn.net/3229
@xolubi: On a side note, look like wikinews has a URL shortener (from your tweets). Is it open to the public or for internal use only?
@en_wikinews: It is open to the public, but for WMF url’s only: http://enwn.net/bookmark.php – The instructions/interface are a work in progress. (I’m sure WMF is short for Wikimedia Foundation)

Whew! Sounds interesting to know a “user-contributed” news source exists and that it is actually active. I’m certain that as more people embrace it, the contributing community will grow and Wikinews will be inching a step closer to being a de facto news source. I may be wrong, but don’t say I didn’t say it. :)

And yes. We have yet another URL Shortner. Altho this works much like Digg’s digg.com or Stumble Upon’s su.pr in the sense that its specialized.

Now Playing: Linkin Park – Bleed it out

Jesus or Paul? It’s time to make a choice.

I wonder what those who choose to follow Paul would call themselves. Since apparently, they aren’t ‘Christians’ by definition. Maybe Paulines. LOL. The following article was lifted from 234next.com. I just couldn’t resist re-posting it here to see what my readers have to say about it. Let’s go!

Every Christian must decide whether s/he is a follower of Jesus or a follower of Paul. Don’t make the mistake of many in assuming the two are the same. For starters, take a look at the following discrepancies.

Inconsistencies

Jesus says children of God are born (Jn 3:3); but Paul says they are adopted (Rm 8:23).

Jesus says God must be the only father of believers (Mt 23:9); but Paul says he (Paul) is the father of some believers (Phile 1:10; 1 Cor 4:15).

Jesus says he is the only pastor and the only teacher (Jn 10:16; Mt 23:8); but Paul says there are many pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 2:7).

Jesus says we should pray in private (Mt 6:5-6); but Paul says we should pray everywhere (1 Tim 2:8).

Jesus says we should not eat food sacrificed to idols (Rev 2:14); but Paul says it does not matter if we do (Rm 14:14).

Jesus himself was circumcised (Lk 2:21); but Paul says if we are circumcised we would be estranged from Christ (Gal 5:2-4).

Jesus says we should not receive payment for preaching the gospel (Mt 10:8); but Paul says we should (1 Cor 9:11).

Jesus asks us to baptise as we preach the gospel (Mt 28:19); but Paul dismisses the importance of baptism (1 Cor 1:17).

Jesus says lying is of the devil (Jn 8:44); but Paul says God’s truth increased through the lies he told (Rm 3:7).

Jesus says the word of God is truth (Jn 7:17); but Paul says the gospel can be preached with falsehood (Php 1:18).

Jesus is against the use of deception (Jn 1:47); but Paul boasts of using deception (2 Cor 12:16).

Jesus says we should love one another (Jn 13:34); but Paul wished some people would be castrated (Gal 5:12).

Jesus says we should love our enemy in order to be like God (Mt 5:44-45); but Paul says we should love our enemy in order to pour coals of fire on his head (Rm 12:20).

Jesus says we should not swear or curse (Mt 5:34-37; Lk 6:28); but Paul swears and curses (2 Cor 1:23; Gal 1:9).

Jesus says God’s children don’t bear arms and don’t fight (Mt 26:52; Jn 18:36); but Paul says God’s ministers bear arms and use them (Rm 13:3-4).

Jesus says we should disregard public opinion (Lk 6:26; Jn 15:18-19); but Paul actively courts public opinion (1 Cor 10:33; 1 Cor 9:20-22).

Jesus says he who is acceptable to God will be hated by men (Jn 15:18-19; Lk 16:15); but Paul says he will be approved by men (Rm 14:18).

Jesus says we should seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt 6:33); but Paul says we should seek glory, honour and immortality (Rm 2:7).

Jesus says the kingdom of God has been taken away from Israel (Mt 21:43); but Paul says all Israel will be saved (Rm 11:26).

Jesus says only a few of those called will be chosen (Mt 22:14); but Paul says all those called will be chosen (Rm 11:29).

Jesus says salvation is by works (Mt 7:21; Mt 21:28-31); but Paul says it is by grace (Eph 2:8-9).

Jesus says he completed his God-given assignment (Jn 17:4; Jn 19:30); but Paul says he completed what Jesus failed to complete (Col 1:24).

Jesus says our trespasses will be forgiven if we forgive others (Mt 6:14-15); but Paul says they have already been forgiven (Eph 1:7).

Jesus says we will be justified by our own words (Mt 12:37); but Paul says we are justified by faith (Rm 3:28).

Jesus says eternal life is very costly (Mt 19:29; Lk 14:28-33); but Paul says it is a free gift (Rm 6:23).

Jesus says God is not the God of the dead (Lk 20:38); but Paul says he is (Rm 14:9).

Jesus says the commandments give life (Mt 19:17); but Paul says they bring death (Rm 7:10).

Jesus says all the commandments are summed up in two commandments (Mt 22:37-40); but Paul says they are summed up in one commandment (Rm 13:9; Gal 5:14).

Jesus says we should beware of anyone who says the day is at hand (Lk 21:8); but Paul says the day is at hand (Rm 13:12).

Jesus says Abel, Adam’s direct son, was righteous (Mt 23:35); but Paul says all Adam’s descendants are unrighteous (Rm 5:12/19; Rm 3:10).

Jesus says none of the Pharisees kept the law (Jn 7:19); but Paul says he kept all the laws of Moses as a Pharisee (Php 3:5-6).

Jesus says we should be like God (Mt 5:48); but Paul says we should be like him (Gal 4:12; Php 3:17).

Whose report do you believe?

I only believe the report of Jesus Christ.

OK, that ‘I’ up there is not mine. It’s Femi Aribisala’s. The original author of the article. I’m yet to pick a side. :)

Now Playing: Kid Rock – Rock N Roll Jesus

God Exists!

Was going through my Facebook notes this evening and came across this interesting piece i wrote back in February. I thought it would be a nice idea to republish it here for those who are not on my Facebook friends list. It was basically a rough rant and the comments that followed helped build a more solid opinion. Just in case, here’s the url to the original note and its 58 essay-like comments. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=67464546139&comments=

No, I am not talking about the God of Abraham, the one who knocked up a nice Jewish girl, then abandoned both mother and child to fend for themselves (as told in the King James version of the NT).

Actually, I think that Christians would be much better off if they would simply eliminated the OT from their bible entirely, then edit most everything except the sermon on the mount from the NT, and start all over again.

After all, who can argue with love and kindness?

But, I digress. Back to the subject at hand, the existence of gods.

God is a construct of the human mind. God exists between the ears of humans, just like every other concept, notion, or thought. The only requirement for God to exist is for the concept to be between the ears of a believer.

The God of Abraham is just as real as other gods, such as Zeus, Apollo, Odin, Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, etc. (sorry if I omitted your favorite God, there are so many, you know).

One of the most interesting things about religion, whether the Judeo / Christian / Islamic / Mormon tradition, or the religions of the Orient such as Hinduism is that all of them seem to assume the existence of supernatural beings (gods) as a starting point, then develop the rationale to support this assumption.

Gods are as real as any other thought generated in the human brain, so to say, as many atheists do, that gods do not exist is, strictly speaking, not true.

For me, the important question is: where did the idea of gods come from in the first place?

No one knows.

I think it fitting that explanation of where gods came from is found in fiction.

Be that as it may, when we look around us at the magnificence of nature, just like prehistoric humans did, we see a natural hierarchy of creatures; insects, arachnids, all sorts of creepy-crawly things. Then there are the higher animals; birds, rodents, predators of several kinds, etc. There seems to be some sort of progression in complexity, particularly in intelligence and other abilities. It would also have seemed obvious to early humans that our place in this hierarchy was at or near the “top”.

Also obvious to early humans would have been the fact that there are phenomena that are completely out of their control, such as the weather, earthquakes, etc. It seems to be an easy leap for the early humans to imagine some “higher” beings having control of these awesome phenomena. And, thus, gods were born in the minds of our distant ancestors.

Another leap would bring early humans to try pleasing these higher beings by offering them food or other precious commodities in an attempt to win their favor, and thus prevent or lesson bad things from happening. Whether or not this is precisely how gods and religions came about, some similar path must have been followed and expanded over the centuries until writing was invented, and the rest is history, even though the early history is incomplete at best, and no doubt has many errors and omissions.

For better or for worse, gods are here to stay, so we might as well learn to live peacefully with (and, in some cases protect ourselves from) the people who believe in them.

Namaste!

The power of a name change

 bing

Microsoft, the laughing-stock of the browser/open source software community, finally came out with a new search engine. To those who follow tech news and trends, this isn’t exactly surprising as the story has been on for a while now – as far back as November 2008.

When Techcrunch covered the story about the rebrand (and the project codename: Kumo), readers scoffed at what seemingly looked like Microsoft trying to beat a dead horse. A few examples:

Changing name is an interesting idea but does NOTHING to solve their fundamental problem, the lack of vision in Search to begin with. Google has its flaws, paying people to search and other marketing ploys do nothing to help get users using your platform over the long run. This is nothing but a stunt that will lead them to loose even more market share (even if they do buy Yahoo).

Jon

Most of Microsoft’s users are the 35+ year-old that sit in cubicles and freaked out when Hotmail changed its interface. These people fear change, forcing them into something new is just begging them to try something else.

– John

Changing its name so that people switch to Microsoft services (search) from google is ridiculous.

The answer lies in the search results shown by either Live/Kumo or google. If Microsoft would really like people to use its services

And having a name like “Kumo” (which doesn’t make sense until i google it) doesn’t help either

Aman

Why exactly am I reposting these comments? Because these commenters predicted the complete opposite of what is happened yesterday. The responses on Techcrunch’s post yesterday showed that not only did people find the results a bit more relevant than Google’s results, but that many of TC’s readers will now use Bing as their primary search engine. Yes, Bing is Kumo in a live form. ;)

This brings me to the very reason behind this article. It’s a pity live.com now redirects to bing.com. I actually wanted to prove how similar Bing’s results are to Live’s. My point is the fact that people are all over Bing’s search results relevance means they never actually tried out Live. The single reason for them trying out Bing is because Microsoft was smart enough to give Live.com a new name and a new face.

Sure, they threw in a slew of new features such as Bing-411, better image & video search, etc. Everyone would agree that no one would bother about those new features if not for the name change.

Search & highlight text in a RichTextBox control

screenshot

A while ago, I needed the ability to search for text in a RichTextBox control and have all occurrences of the query highlighted simultaneously. I thought this was going to be an easy task but soon discovered I was terribly wrong.

Ok, maybe its just me but I wonder why some basic functionalities weren’t just built into these controls from factory by default. Why cant I just call a method such as rtbSample.HighlightInstances(“query”); and have all instances of “query” highlighted?!

Long story short, I modified this example into what I needed and thought to share with everyone. Feel free to also modify it for your projects. And maybe I’ll come up with my custom rich text box control that has this functionality built in someday :). Hmm, before I forget, its in .NET.

Download: RichTextSearch.zip

Now Playing: The Corrs – Runaway

What would Jesus do?

The article you are about to read simply voices my opinion and not that of any existing religious group or movement (not even Deeperlife’s). Any similarities to existing groups is purely coincidental.

Last Wednesday, I did an introductory blog post on these series. The post generated a bit of controversy particularly about my reasons for not being a Christian. Initially, I wanted to go the Noktah Hitam route but I realised that would only help the already bad opinion stronger. While I’ll refrain from trying to justify my statements further, I hope this and further posts would help shed more light on my opinion.

When I was much younger, Mum got me a copy of Charles M. Sheldon’s ‘In His Steps: What would Jesus do’. The two-hundred-and-fifty-something-page book took me a while to read and turned out to be one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever read. It talked about a group of people who vowed to always ask themselves if what Jesus would do if he were in their position and not do otherwise. What these individuals did not realize early enough was that this was a life-altering decision with un-planned results awaiting them. The underlying message was clear though: Living in Christ’s steps.

Origin The idea behind ‘WWJD’ has always existed for centuries as a form of imitatio dei, the imitation of God. It got a much greater following after Sheldon’s book and inspired a youth group from some North American church to actually take vows to practice it. Subsequently, they wore cloth bracelets as a tangible reminder. As their popularity grew, the bracelets were mass-marketed, causing the retail revolution that we see today.

Importance When Jesus told his disciples in Luke 13:24 that many would seek to enter in the strait gate but would not be able to do so, he sure wasn’t kidding. It’s not easy to truly forsake worldly pleasures and stick to living in Christ’s steps.

Let’s take the “proposition 8” for example. Voters against gay marriages won by a measly 4%. Why? Where was everyone? If all the true believers in the US stood up for what God calls marriage, there would be no debate whatsoever. Funny enough, many ‘christians’ decided to stay out of the whole issue because they felt it was better to stick to the church and leave politics alone. But even Jesus didn’t refrain from voicing out on political matters during his time. In fact, many churches have now affirmed homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. Would Jesus do that?

According to allaboutfollowingjesus.org, the answer to the question ‘What would Jesus do’ depends on whether we truly know Jesus enough to determine what he would do if in our exact situation. Knowing Jesus begins with reading about His life and teachings in the Bible. However, reading the Bible as literature alone only helps us to learn about Jesus. To truly know Him requires a personal, spiritual relationship with Him. That isn’t tough either. It just takes opening up your heart to him. Rev 3:20.

Now playing: Eminem – Crack A Bottle Feat Dr. Dre & 50 Cent

Cats on Tuesday: Was she pregnant at all?

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Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes in March, early March to be specific; I noticed a ‘growth’ around Michelle’s abdomen. Based on the knowledge that she was on heat a few weeks earlier, I concluded she must be pregnant, thanks to Henry :)

I started reading articles on how best to care for a pregnant cat. Michelle seemed to be exhibiting all of the ‘pregnant cat’ symptoms I read about, including occasional morning sickness. She was already seeking out quiet/hidden spots at my place to relax which is normal for a pregnant cat – They love to raise their litter with little or no disturbance. Cats gestate for 9 weeks as against humans’ 9 months so I already assumed I should be getting ready to welcome new kittens into the family by late April or early May.

Approximately 5 weeks after I noticed the ‘growth’, It got real firm and I felt re-assured that my cat was truly pregnant. I couldn’t help telling everyone who has ever come to my place about it. I was so excited. Looking back now, I think I was more excited than a man would have been if his wife was ready to put to bed. “btw, Michelle is pregnant” became a standard closing line to all my text messages. :grin:

Then came the blow. Sometimes last week, I woke up and the ‘growth’ seemed to be gone. Was it just me? I looked in the spot where she normally hid, nothing! Still-birth? I remember we walked in on my first cat when I was much younger eating her babies because they were dead at birth. Fuck no! I couldn’t imagine Michelle had to go through that same trauma.

The spot where the growth feels flabby now, a reminder that something was once there. I really do feel sorry for Michelle (that is, if she really went through the still-birth thingy), and I hope she gets over it quickly and go get herself pregnant, again. After all, Henry is ever ready. ;-)

Now playing: Fat Joe – Make way ft. Lil’ Wayne & Birdman

Make your Firefox look like IE7/8

ff-vista

Kudos to Lifehacker’s article here, I found a quick way to bring Aero transparency to Firefox. You would have to install the following to achieve the effect in the image above.

1. Glasser. The recent versions of this extension are not compatible with Firefox 3.0.x so you would have to install version 1.0.16.

2. Vista-aero. This theme adds the visuals of IE7/8 including IE8’s colored tabs.

That’s it. Enjoy your Firefox. ;-)

Update: I forgot to add, you will need to install the Hide Menubar extension as well.

Now playing: D12 – Purple Pills

Firefox extensions I use (and cant do without)

Mozilla Firefox

Image via Wikipedia

Of course I can do without them. Life on the web may not just be as interesting and informative as it is now. The list is quite exhaustive so its best to start without further ado.

1. Firefox Environment Backup Extension
A complete Firefox profile data backup utility. It makes it possible to move your Firefox settings, addons, themes, etc. from one installation to another, or between your work and home PC. It supports scheduled backups which could come in handy incase your computer crashes. It can automatically backup your data to the cloud if you have a box.net account.

2. Firebug
This is a must have extension for frontend web developers. JavaScript debugging has never been better. My only problem with this extension is that it doesn’t retain its errors after a page refresh. I usually have to test my code on the ‘onclick’ event of a form’s submit button rather than the ‘onsubmit’ event of the form itself. The version I currently use is a nightly build which can be found here.

3. Flagfox
Isn’t it a nice idea to have the flag of the country in which the web server of the site you are currently viewing displayed somewhere on your screen? Whew! That was a pretty long sentence. I suck, but you get the message anyways.

4. Ghostery
This is a nice little extension that displays what analytics service the website you are currently viewing uses. It’s not surprising that most sites (the ones I visit :) ) rely on Google Analytics.

5. Gmail Notifier
A ‘notifier’ for Gmail accounts. Need I say more?

6. Google Preview
This cute little add-on grabs and displays a thumbnail of the page linked to in a search result entry.

7. Greasemonkey
This is one plug-in that works wonders. Its a plug-in that allows users to make changes on the fly to most web pages using special scripts. Changes can be such as adding new functionality to a page (like the Endless Tweets scripts for Twitter), combining data from multiple web pages (I have my twitter search integrated with Google search), and numerous other purposes. Greasemonkey scripts can be found at http://userscripts.org

8. Personas
Plug-in that makes you change the look and feel of your browser without requiring a restart.

9. Right-Click-Link
This extension lets you select text and open as a URL in an separate browser tab. Useful for cases where the text is a valid URL but not hyperlinked.

10. Stylish
Stylish is best defined as Greasemonkey for CSS. Users can download or create their own styles to customize the look and feel of specific websites. Custom styles can be found at http://userstyles.org

11. Tab Mix Plus
I love this extension’s session management feature. The progress bar it places on individual tabs isn’t a bad idea either.

12. TabRenamizer
Ever found yourself in a situation where you are on a page you really shouldn’t be looking at for various reasons? Switching tabs isn’t enough. Your wife could still stay behind you and figure out that one of your tabs’ title says something about sex toys (or perhaps, your boss could figure out you’ve been facebooking all day). What do you do? Install this extension and happily hit ‘F2’ to rename the tab and even change it’s favicon anytime someone walks in through that door.

13. Twitterfox
A complete twitter client that runs within Firefox. Probably the best Firefox-based Twitter client out there.

14. Twitterbar
This extension lets you post to Twitter from your address bar. I used this before I discovered Twitterfox. Haven’t uninstalled / disabled it tho.

15. Web developer
This extension comes as a toolbar. I rarely find myself using it although it has features that should be interesting to a web developer.

16. Xmarks
Formerly known as Foxmarks, this plug-in backs up your bookmarks to an online service and allows you share them across multiple computers and multiple browsers including Internet Explorer. Cool.

17. Yahoo Mail Notifier
This extension sits in my status bar and reminds me of how much junk I have in my Yahoo mailbox. I barely pay attention to it.

18. Zemanta
I just installed this today. It helps improve the way you blog by displaying links, excerpts, and images relevant to your blog post. It support over 10 popular blogging platforms and is also integrated with Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

19. Download Statusbar
I cant believe I almost forgot this one. This extension helps you keep track of your downloads in an unobtrusive status bar.

Do you know of other extensions myself and other readers could benefit from, sound off in the comments.

Now playing: Celine Dion – Skies Of L.A.