Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"If I only had..."

My dear wife, Amy, loves board and card games. To her, "game time" is the sixth love language, and her primary one.

Last night she and I were playing a few rounds of In a Pickle, a game in which she typically tends to beat me. This was, however, just not her night. I was leading the game seven sets to none. After playing another card toward our eighth set, she drew from the deck (which contains all cards on which there is written a single noun, if you don't know the game). Glancing at the new noun in her hand, she suddenly exclaimed, "Yes! I have a brain! There's so much I can do with a brain!"

Her new body part served her well, but in the end, victory was mine.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hacking on the LG CU400

I recently bought (via eBay) a USB data cable for my LG CU400 cellphone. Sadly, I did so before realizing that LG apparently doesn't provide software besides basic Windows drivers for this phone. (For those interested, I used the drivers from a package named LGUSBModemDriver_Eng_Ver_4.5.exe, found with a Google site search.) At any rate, my investment thus far (which was only about $7, truth be told) was looking like a poor one.

But tonight I tried BitPim even though my phone model is not listed as explicitly supported. To my great surprise, BitPim recognized my phone as an "Other CDMA phone". That meant I got filesystem-explorer-type access, but none of the other GUI goodies. That's okay, though -- it only took a little bit of poking around to figure out where the phone keeps my photos, videos, mp3s, and so on.

And best of all, I was able to pull off the hack described here. So now I can use the mobile versions of Google Maps and Gmail on my phone without answering a network usage permission prompt for what seemed before like every packet transmitted!

12/21/2007 Followup: I forgot to note that I was doing all this on a Windows 2000 machine. But I'm pretty sure the drivers I got were rated for Windows XP, too. No clue about Vista support for any of this stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Irony combo, super-sized, to go

Dinner time — or, the hour just before dinner time — has for a long time been a period of heightened stress in my household. Every day Amy tentatively approaches me while I'm working to ask, "What do you want to do for dinner?" Every day I dread her coming.

It's not that I don't love to have my Sweetheart visit me. It's just that I almost never have a well-formed opinion about dinner. Do we cook or do we hit a restaurant? If we cook, what do we make? If we dine out, where do we go? In Amy's defense, it's the sort of decision I'm prone to micromanage anyway, so why not ask me? In mine ... well, I don't really have a defense. And so every day she comes, and every day I herald her arrival with a jovial, "Uh-oh, here comes the what-do-you-want-for-dinner question!" And so we sit. And think. And talk about what else needs to be accomplished that evening. And, on a good day, we have a decision made within an hour's time.

Last week, however, this daily exercise finally wore it out its welcome. In truth, I don't care what or where we eat. I'd prefer to eat more meals at home and stop hemorrhaging cash towards goods that only last as long our digestive tracts retain them. I'd prefer to eat earlier than later so that our kids aren't going straight to bed after eating. But most of all, I'd prefer not to be asked about dinner at all. So I told my dear wife these things. I dubbed her the Queen of the Kitchen, and said we would do for dinner whatever she wanted us to do. She knows my preferences, she knows her preferences, she knows what our boys do and don't like to eat, and she knows what's on our calendar and TODO list better than anyone else. It just makes sense for her to take full responsibility of dinner planning.

Wonderful woman that she is, I still have a place to live after this conversation. In fact, she seems to have embraced the responsibility. She quickly planned about a week's worth of meals, bought the ingredients, and we've already had two wonderful dinners in which I played no culinary role. The arrangement doesn't leave me without responsibility, of course — my job is to keep Gavin and Aidan out of the kitchen while she works. And frankly, I need to be investing a little more time with them, anyway. It's a win-win!

Or, it was a win-win. On Sunday afternoon, our oven died.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ups and Downs

They say life is full of ups and downs. But who, exactly, are "they"? And why are they stalking me?

Gavin and I shared the neat experience yesterday afternoon of taking the training wheels off his bike. He's been adamantly opposed to this idea since Christmas, when he first got his bike, insisting that he'd go two-wheelin' "when he was as big as Daddy" — and not a moment sooner! Well, yesterday I just went ahead and took them off, which he protested until I calmly informed him that it's just a couple of nuts, and we could put the training wheels back on later if necessary. With that, he braved up and let me hold the seat of his bike while he pedaled around the back yard. He had a blast. And I had — still have — a muscle cramp in my backside as a result. He was so proud of himself, and we were so proud of him. Sure, he fell a few times (and one fall was particularly exciting because it forced me to dive-roll over him and his bike). But it certainly wasn't the falls he was telling his Nana and Paw-paw about today at church. It was the ride.

Ups and downs.

While Gavin biked, Aidan was hitting pitched whiffle balls, and loving it. He's been a confident tricycler for a few weeks now, and for the moment we're quite alright with keeping him a mere foot off the ground instead of the two feet a bike would require. Unfortunately, all he's thinking about at the moment is the nasty bit of road rash he's sporting on his left knee after a sidewalk slide heading into church tonight. He's a pitiful sight, what with his tear-streaked face and constant reminders to "don't touch it".

Ups and downs.

Speaking of church, what a roller coaster of emotions that is. Our church is full of good people with good hearts, but ultimately is still made up of people, every one of us just as flawed as the next one. The church body has been gracious enough to put me a position of some influence regarding the music, and I've been so fortunate to be able to affect some change in our church in small ways — playing guitar for the Praise Team, spinning more contemporary music before the service, yet keeping the old hymns of the faith ever-present in the lineup, too. But this stuff always meets with a gaggle of supporters and detractors. It's weird to come away from a service like today's where multiple folks are saying how much the music ministered to them that day, only to hear later indirectly that so-and-so said that CD we played before the service (Shane and Shane's Clean) was "just awful".

Ups and downs.

But the ups and downs aren't always in the present and past. We can look forward to them in the future, too. Looking forward to the ups is, of course, quite easy. We've got a North Myrtle Beach trip coming up soon, Plaza's Homecoming (with Geoffrey Janes as a guest speaker, and Josh and Tasha Via joining us for the musical stuff) is in two weeks, and immediate after the Homecoming dinner-on-the-grounds, I get to hop on a plane and go to Germany to speak at a Subversion Conference. Fun, exciting, stuff worth looking forward to.

But what about the downs? What's to look forward to there? Opportunities. Opportunities to learn more about myself and God's purpose for me here on Earth. To see how, when the bum stuff comes, there's always hope on the other side of it. To see if I can pass the pre-test (a given trial) put before me, and then afterwards pass the real test (giving glory to God for allowing me to survive that trial). And if that fails, we can celebrate the downs simply because they help to make the ups so much sweeter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Make Me a Witness

I've been in a bit of a songwriting slump for a while. Like, most of my life, if I'm honest about it. But I'm leading the Praise & Worship team at my church these days, though, so at least I'm musically active.

The other day I was trying to decide which tunes the P&W team should lead at the following Sunday's worship service, when suddenly a whole different line of thought entered my head. My church is located in a really arts-focused area of Charlotte. The demographics here are a weird mix — like someone pouring a pitcher of young-hip-and-liberal-minded into a jug of impoverished-minority-down-and-out. Physically, socially, emotionally, educationally and financially, this is like mixing oil and water. But spiritually, they all — we all — need the same thing. That fact, as well as my own struggle with being a useful catalyst for spiritual change in others, resulted an hour or so later in the following:

Make Me a Witness
by: C. Michael Pilato

At a sidewalk cafe sits a modern-day, American man. / A triumph of evolution going nowhere as fast as he can. / Now there's surely a place, to lay out a case of my own. / Could it be right here between iced cappuccino and scones? / Who is my brother? Is he just the one like me? / Who is my neighbor? Are they just the ones I see? / And is the last chance they'll have to meet Jesus?

God grant them all a place in my heart / Next to Your Spirit, there in the deepest part. / Make me a witness, a model of Jesus, / And teach me to point this world to You.

There's a girl on the corner, a stone's throw away from our pews. / She knows of a Saviour, but He's of no practical use. / And like Mary of long ago, she's bound by an evil inside. / But oh, Magdalena, would your story bring hope to this child? / Who is my sister? Is she just the one like me? / Who is my neighbor? Are they just the ones I see? / And is the last chance they'll have to meet Jesus?

Somebody's wishing that they could have peace, love, and joy in their soul. / Somebody listen, 'cause I don't know when I'll be feeling so bold.

God grant them all a place in my heart / You know their value, you've made them a work of art. / Drive me to witness, to model my Jesus, / And teach me to point this world to You.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Version Control Provides Medical Breakthrough?

For years, the developers of the Subversion open-source version control system (of which I am one) have been touting Subversion as "a compelling replacement for CVS". All this time, I thought we were talking about the Concurrent Versions System. But a recent Google search for "cvs logo" provided this link. I guess you can file that under unfortunately identical acronyms.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Happy 3rd birthday, Subversion

Three years ago, on February 23, 2004, the Subversion developers released version 1.0 of their new-at-the-time version control system. Quite unlike human offspring (if you can pardon the anthropomorphism in which I'm about to engage), Subversion hit the proverbial ground running. Not only could it walk and talk just as well as its much older cousin, CVS—in many cases, it could do so better. It remembered the finer details of things better, which is pretty important as a version control system exists for no reason at all if not to remember things. With support for directory versioning, atomic commits, binary differencing, offline operations, and user-defined versioned metadata, and with a modular design built from the start with WAN-readiness in mind, Subversion was by no means the squirming, near-sighted, helpless offspring that, say, my two sons were at birth.

Back then, folks were telling us to release 1.0 even earlier than we did. But the Subversion development community consists of incredibly bright and friendly hackers dedicated to excellence. We had a clear picture of what Subversion 1.0 was to be—basically, a compelling replacement for CVS—and we had well-formed ideas of what that meant in terms of features and stability.

In the three years since the 1.0 release of Subversion, there have been another four large release milestones. With Subversion 1.4.3 as the most recent release, and Subversion 1.5 currently under development, it's clear that there is a vision for the software that exceeds just making a better CVS. Constant attention has been given to ways of expanding the feature set, expanding the interoperability with other systems, and expanding the user base by demonstrating version control done right.

Subversion's adoption rate and availability on high-volume project hosting service websites are testimonies of its maturity level and affirmations of its viability as a contender in the version control arena. Today, you can use Subversion to hold your software project's precious source code at Tigris.org, SourceForge.net, Google's project hosting service, and no small number of other hosting sites. Where solid statistics exist for such things, it's clear that the number of Subversion installations continues to grow at a better-than-constant rate. And industry analysts and journalists agree—Subversion is an exception to the trend of failed open-source software projects.

So, having been fortunate enough to be associated with this software for just over six years now, I say "Happy Birthday" to Subversion and its development community. We'll close our eyes and collectively blow out the candles; it's the users whose wishes come true.