Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unlikely Missionary By Dan King.

I received this book for free from Dan King on the promise of writing a review of the book.
In the United States we live in the richest country in the world. We have welfare programs that pay for more than the basic necessities for citizens of our country. We really don't know about poverty and hunger. We really don't know about disease as we have the most advanced medical facilities close by. We really don't know about community either, because we live in a nation that is geared toward self-centeredness. We are constantly bombarded by advertising everywhere we go as well as in our homes telling us whatever we have is not good enough - we always need more or something else to fulfill our lives and make us happy.
Dan King lives in Florida and while starting a blog online he began to investigate the issue of poverty. That led him to several organizations that exist to combat poverty in the world. That research and blog writing led him to an organization called Five Talents. Through that organization he went on a 2 week trip to Africa as their Chaplain and Teacher. This book is about his experiences and insights into the culture and people of Africa. It is a very powerful book filled with spiritual and cultural surprises and revelations. He describes how the African landscape drew him closer to God and how the people of Africa have one thing that keeps them living from day to day in the face of tremendous poverty - HOPE.
Mr. King also gives practical advise how Christians can start to change the world from where they live.
It does not take long to read this little book. It is filled with pictures from his trip and the pictures themselves are worth the price of the book.
Many churches have started organizing mission trips to places like Russia and Romania and other foreign countries. Mr. King was not on his trip through a church but through the Five Talents organization which helps people around the world with microloans to start their own businesses. These microloans allow the people to make money to pay back the loan (usually less than $100.00) and provide for their families.
As I read Mr. King's book I could not help but think about The Hole in Our Gosepel by Richard Stearns - another book about poverty that I reviewed before.
Jesus said "The poor you will have with you always." I think God puts the poor here so that we, who have much more than we need, can minister to them with our time, talents and money. I know I need to address this issue more than I have. Mr. King also points out how even though these people in Africa have practically nothing, they are always ready to help someone out in need - to do whatever they can.
The issue of child soldiers and Sex exploitation are also mentioned.
This little book will make you think. It will challenge your faith. James said, "Show me your faith without your works and I'll show you my faith by my works" Also "Faith without works is dead."
Christians are called to love all men. This book will encourage you to demonstrate your love by your actions. I highly recommend this book.
[[ASIN:B005UDPQ2O The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter (]]

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Time Dad by John Fuller with Paul Batura

C. Grant and Company graciously sent me 2 copies of this book for reading and reviewing. I'm very glad that they did! This book will not take long to read, but the truths it contains will last for a lifetime.
You, as a new or experienced Dad will find a wealth of information contained within. Studies, quotes and many examples from real life author John Fuller and his 6 children.
It is published by Moody Press and thus has a Christian perspective on life and marriage and child rearing.
No pop culture sayings will be found here.
No Psychology.
Just the pain stark naked facts of life when a child enters your life.
The sleepless nights. The constant demands for your attention and the impulse to run away from your responsibilities as a husband and as a Dad.
Mr. Fuller covers it all from the time when you are expecting your first child through the teenage years and beyond. It is a very frank picture of how your married life gets turned upside down when your bundle of Joy comes along! But this book is not just about raising a child, it is also about maturing as a man and growing as a Christian.
It covers the differences between boys and girls and at the end gives a checklist of different personality types - Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever and Beaver. Most all of us fall into one or more of these personality traits.
The one point that is constantly made throughout the book is the most important for any new or experienced Dad - TIME! Give TIME to your wife. Give TIME to your children! And yes you can even give some TIME to yourself. But most importantly give of your TIME and of YOURSELF to you child!
I heard the song "The Cats in the Cradle" when it was released and it is still true today. I've heard many men who lament the fact that they spent time fishing, hunting, playing golf or working away from their wife and children. They did it for all the right reasons , but it was all wrong. Provide for their family, gain social status. Get a sense of accomplishment. But later in life their children are grown and they never come around and they are lonely having missed the most important time of their lives, the growth of their children and the establishment of their family by just BEING THERE.
This is an excellent book. If you know of someone who is going to have a new baby soon - Father's day is June 19th. This book would be a great gift for a new dad.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The current state of Tablets.

A Tablet is a mobile computer that runs Applications like a notebook, netbook or desktop computer.
Tablets have been aroud for a long time but never really caught on until the rise of the smartphone.
Essentially a Tablet is a hybrid of smartphone and computer with either a stylus or finger touch screen. It usually has a screen anywhere from 4 to 10 inches or more.
At the present time there are alot of Tablets available. Apple started the Tablet craze with the iPad which just last week was available in its 2nd iteration - the iPad 2. Since that time Archos, View Sonic, Dell, Motorola and an army of other familiar and unfamiliar manufacturers have produced their own Tablets. Blackberry is about to release its own version of a Tablet called the PlayBook.
What is the difference between them?
The OS or Operating System is the main difference.
Apple uses iOS in various versions. When the iPad first arrived it was nothing more than a large iPhone without the phone part. It ran all the iPhone applications, and the iPhone OS. Today all Android OS tablets are running the Google Android OS - the same as all the smartphones use. Therein lies the problem. Except for the Motorola Xoom which runs Android Gingerbread, all other Android OS tablets are running a phone OS. There are only a handful of true Tablet applications available for the Motorola Xoom. It runs Android Smartphone applications but they are not specifically designed to take advantage of the Xoom's features. All the other Android OS tablets are running a version of Android (1.5 to 2.2) that is for smartphones, not for Tablets. They do the job well enough.
If you can run an Android app on your Android smartphone it will run on your Android tablet as well. Larger screen. Larger size. Same applications.
I am hoping that the Blackberry PlayBook will have a Blackberry Tablet OS and applications just for the PlayBook, and not just another large smartphone app tablet.
This is the current state of Tablets today.
Apple has worked all the kinks out and have a Tablet OS and applications since they have had the most time to develop.
Google and Motorola are playing catch up with the Xoom and Gingerbread, but not many Tablet specific apps are available , but probably will be in the next 6 months (if the Xoom sells, which is questionable at this point because of its high price).
Let me just say this - at present there is nothing that can be done on an Android OS Tablet that you don't already have on a smartphone running a version of Android OS (Froyo is the most common).
So, for app execution, ebook readers, GPS, MP3, Web and email Tablets and smartphones do it all. The main difference is the screen size and the price. But Tablets do not make or receive phone calls (they can however use Skype).
I must mention the first Android Tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab and it has sold alot of units (however there was a 15% return on it). The Tab was the first Android OS tablet (remember its just the phone OS or Froyo). with TV commercials and was available from Verizon and other cell phone carriers. Eventually I expect the Tab will get Gingerbread and be able to run true Tablet applications like the Xoom.

So there you have it - the present state of Tablets today. Go to Amazon and type TABLET in the search box and you will be presented with a vast array of different Tablets from different manufactures.

A word of caution: The Dell Streak 7 is tied to T-Mobile and must be activated through T-Mobile to be used. Hopefully they will come out with a WiFi only version but not right now. I'm not sure if the Galaxy Tab needs a cell phone carrier data plan or not, but it probably does. Many of the Tablets on Amazon are just running the Android Phone OS and use WiFi for connectivity.
Why get a Tablet? Well, you can - just like on your smartphone - run Kindle and Nook and Aldiko and KOBO ebook readers and not be tied down to one device (KOBO, or NOOK or KINDLE or Sony ebook readers). You can run games just like on your cell phone (but beware the battery life of Tablets is about equal to smartphones. 3 or 4 hours of continuous use on a charge). Web, email, MP3 anything and everything except phone features are possible on a Tablet.

Does it make sense to buy a Tablet instead of an ebook reader like Kindle of Nook? Do you want to carry around a 10 inch Tablet instead of a 3 or 4 inch smartphone? These are the questions you must ask yourself and the choices you need to make.

No matter what you decide to do I do recommend YouVersion for either your Tablet or Smartphone. Multiple reading plans and all different versions of the Bible are available in different languages. It is the BEST app for any Tablet or Smarphone available!
Take the Word with you wherever you go with YouVersion!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stand alone ebook readers.

So, you want to buy a stand alone ebook reader device.

Welcome to a minefield!

There are several choices and my best advise is to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! The 4 main devices available today are the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, the KOBO from Borders and the Sony ebook readers. There are several others, but these are the main ones found online and in retail stores. Here is a website with specifications of each of these and a few other stand alone ebook readers: . There are many other websites with comparisons and typing "compare ebook reading devices" in any websearch site should yield other tables of comparison. YouTube is a fount of infomation about the unboxing and use of each ebook reader and you should use it as a resource in your research.

The two main ebook readers that I have been looking at are the Amazon Kindle WiFi and the Barnes and Noble NOOK WiFi. Why WiFi only? Well, they are cheaper. But if you want to spend an extra 50.00 or so you can get the WiFi /3G ones. There is no cost for the 3G as its included in the price - in other words - no monthly subscription fees.
Each of the 2 ebook readers have their own sources for ebooks. The Kindle is from and the Nook is from the Barnes and Noble website as well as support and downloads available in the Barnes and Noble stores.

Now if you have a smartphone, an iPad , iTouch or iPhone or a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a Tablet then there are ebook programs available to download and use. You have the greatest amount of freedom with one or more of these devices because if you buy a stand alone ebook reader you are limited to that devices' creator. You cannot read Kindle books on a Nook or Nook books on a Kindle without going through some kind of translation program (like Calibre on a computer). But there is DRM as well to consider and it is illegal to strip the DRM from a book bought either from Amazon or Barnes and Noble to make the book available on either device. The DRM makes it somewhat like DRM protected music and movies. On my Motorola Droid I have the Kindle app and Barnes and Noble Nook and KOBO and Aldiko ebook readers. Same on my desktop computer with the addition of Calibre.

Here is a comparision of the 2 top stand alone ebook readers. The Kindle has the BEST DISPLAY. It has an awesome display. Crisp, clear, clean. I am talking about the Kindle 3. Price is 139.00 for the WiFi version. The Kindle is very thin - about the thickness of a pencil. The Kindle has real honest to god buttons. All navigation and interaction is preformed through the buttons and d-pad. No touch screen here. Personally I like to browse and buy my ebooks from Barnes and Noble. I just feel more comfortable with it than the Amazon Kindle store, but that is just my personal preference. Only the Kindle has a Text-to- speech option where you can have the book read to you in either male of female voices. The voices are like the the animated insurance commercials on TV. Very robotic sounding.

The drawbacks of the Kindle are these. There is no way to change the battery. To replace the battery entails sending the unit back to Amazon as the unit is sealed. Also there is no memory expansion via SD cards. 4 Gig of ram with 3 Gig available is all you get. When MP3 music and games and other things are added that memory gets eaten up pretty fast from what I understand. ebooks themselves don't take up that much memory, but magazines, newspapers and games and other additions do. So, memory and battery are the 2 main problems on the Kindle WiFi. Games are available on Amazon Kindle store for the Kindle.

Next, the Barnes and Noble Nook or just Nook. The display is not as sharp and crisp as the Kindle. It is slower in turning pages and booting up than the Kindle. Other than the page up and page down buttons and power, everything on the Nook is Touch Screen. The Nook has a color bar at the bottom with book covers and menu items in color, but the main screen is BW and shades of gray. However, the Nook has a compartment in the back to replace the battery and can take up to a 32 Gig SD card. The Nook is much thicker than the Kindle and weighs more. Of course it weighs less than a hardback book and is somewhat thinner.
The Nook includes 2 games - Chess and Sudoku.
Nooks are on display at Wal Mart stores so you can pick one up and try it out. Same with all Barnes and Noble stores and I've even seen them at Books A Million. Target is selling the Kindle. Best Buy has both Nook and Kindle.

A newer Nook just came out for 249.00. The Nook Color has a full color screen. Nice for looking at Magazines and Newspapers and there are some interactive children's books available as well.
If you are very adventurous and want to experiment you can root the Nook Color and make it into an Android Tablet that will run apps and access the Android Market. However there is the possiblity of bricking the Nook Color. Bricking means you have a 250.00 paperweight. So beware.

So, before settling on which you want to spend your hard earned money for, I suggest you go and check them out by holding them in your hand and operating one before you decide to buy.

I am no expert on these devices and within a year I'm sure the present crop will be obsolete as newer and better models are introduced. But, who wants to wait a year. You want an ebook reader now, you want to take it with you on trips.

The thing that bothers me about ebooks and music downloads and all things digital is the there is no PERMANENCE ! A book I can hold in my hand. Put on a shelf and barring flood or fire it exists. But an ebook or downloaded music only exists in a device and when that device malfunctions there is a sense of loss. (I see it with pictures on computers that the hard drive crashes and all the pictures that were so dear are lost and gone for good. It's heartbreaking! Please back up your digital pictures. Put them on something other than your computer because it will CRASH on you. hard drives die and take everything on them with them when they do. I plead with people all the time to back up important data before its too late!).

I mourn the loss of permanence in digital things today. Some people think that when Jesus returns to the earth all electricity will be cut off. Try to imagine a world without electricity. There was no electricity or devices that ran on electricity in Jesus' day. Imagine the world plunged back into darkness without all the motors and wires and all things today that run on electricity. Something to think about.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

eBooks and eBook readers and the death of the PC

I have a smartphone - Motorola A855 (Droid). On my smartphone I have several ebook readers. Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Nobel Nook, Kobo, and Aldiko. On my computer I have all these ebook readers and Calibre (an ebook manager and converter) and Adobe Digital Editions. Like everyone else I've thought of buying a dedicated ebook reader. Most of my ebooks that I have bought are in my Nook reader. A few are on the Kindle reader and one is on Kobo and one on the Adobe Digital Editions reader. Now, if I were to buy an ebook reader, which one would it be? Nook? Kindle? Sony? I'm not sure. Are eBooks and ebook readers any good? I've looked at the reviews and videos of both the Nook and Kindle. Each has specific features. I can see buying an ebook of something that I want to read once, but for reference books I can't see the benefit of the book being in an ebook format (except for search of course). I know the arguments about saving the trees. But to spend 140.00 - 384.00 for a reader then also having to buy the books - does that make economic sense? I know that both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel have many free books and book previews that can be downloaded, and I have previewed a few books then bought the ebook or even the paper book because of the preview. I also know that ebooks are somewhat less expensive than paper books. I am currently reading an ebook that cost 2.99 but the paper book is 19.95. Quite a difference in price. I enjoy going into a bookstore and looking around. I don't really enjoy going to a website and looking at ebooks as much. The browsing experience is quite different. Clicking on a book to read the synopsis then loosing my place in the listing of books is a unnerving experience. I once welcomed the computer age. I have had a computer since the 1980's. I enjoy the diversity that the computer embodies. Once I thought it was ridiculous to watch a movie on a computer. I have a DVD player and TV for that, but now I watch Hulu and catch up on TV show episodes. I enjoy watching TV and Movies on the computer. Some Smartphones have Kickstands so that you can lay the phone on its side and watch a movie on the phone, but in reality battery technology has lagged behind the other components in smartphones, so its not practical to watch a movie on a smartphone unless it is plugged into a charger the whole time. Technical writers are saying the the PC is dead. That people will be using their smartphones for functions that once were the specific realm of the computer, but I don't believe it! My computer as well as my smartphone search the internet, but its a royal pain to use the hyperlinks on a webpage on the phone even with a slide out keyboard. It's much easier to navigate webpages and hyperlinks using my computer. Yes the smartphone runs applications, but its does not have the power or storage capacity of my computer. My smartphone can not play Crysis! And Plants Vs Zombies looks great on my 19 inch monitor - on a small iPhone or DS or PSP screen - not so much! My computer powers my phone through USB. It transfers music and videos to my smartphone and PSP. It converts video formats. There is so much that my computer does that a smartphone or a Tablet cannot do. I think the "death of the PC" quote is hogwash! Sure there are game consoles like XBOX 360 and PS3, but the computer still continues to be the game machine of choice for all lovers of the Keyboard and Mouse. Tablets - like the iPad. What are they? Just larger iTouches and Smartphones. So, back to dedicated ebook readers. Do they have a place or not? For people who are on the go; yes they can be very beneficial. The Kindle has a Text to Speech function where the book can be read to you through earphones which the Nook lacks. America has always been about choice. Yes, we have choices in Smartphones and Tablets and computers. Time will tell which technology will rule out the others. Remember Betamax and VHS? Remember HD DVD and BluRay? Someday we will be talking about iPad and something else with one coming out the Victor. Same with Kindle and Nook and all the other ebook readers. What do you think? Are ebooks a valid replacement for paper books? Are ebook readers worth the expense? Do you think the PC will be DEAD in 2 or 3 years? Technology does move fast. 3D TV's , BluRay players, Smartphones and Tablets give us choices today , but what will tomorrow bring? I like the Best Buy commercial where all the new tech devices are obsolete as soon as they are bought. 3D TV being brought into a house and COMING SOON 4D on the deliver truck. My smartphone has a 500 Mhz CPU. Soon after I bought it the new smartphones had 1 Gig CPU. Now they are producing phones with dual core CPU's, but battery technology is still lagging behind.
I am not down on new technology. I just wish that people would discover the cure for hatred, wars, crime, man's inhumanity to man, neglect and indifference. Technology cannot solve the most basic human need - a new heart. Only Jesus Christ can change the human heart. And in an ever changing world with its fast paced technology and exploding knowledge base its good to know that Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today and Forever!