Web/tech

3 million customer credit cards stolen from Michaels stores...

michaels.jpgMany of the ladies at Clearnote Church like to shop at Michaels, and the crafts retailer has just announced a security breach at a number of their stores nationwide. It looks like the Bloomington store is on the list for having been breached, as are a number of Indianapolis and Toledo stores.

If you have shopped at Michaels during the specified timeframe, watch your credit card charges over the next few weeks and be sure to report anything you don’t recognize. I recommend reading this post by Brian Krebs explaining the incident. Then, I would also recommend reading his article, Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth It? It turns out that credit card monitoring services are mostly worthless. Credit card fraud and identify theft are no fun, however, and there are some pretty basic things you can do to protect yourself against them.


Shared e-mail addresses...

Our church has a policy that pastors and elders, at least, must have a personal e-mail address other church officers may use with confidence that the officer is the only one who will read e-mails received at that address. It's a necessary policy for churches, but sometimes officers balk at it and try to do church business from an e-mail address they share with their wives. This is the reason this excerpt from a recent TidBITS article on e-mail addresses struck my funny bone...


Is Google illegally discriminating against religious organizations?

Under my recent post regarding the Google Apps user agreement for non-profits, a discussion was started about how Christians should respond to terms of service like the one mentioned in the post. Here's my attempt to restate the position of one commenter:

The best way to keep the interpretation of these regulations (and terms of service, clauses, etc) from becoming established in a way that does violence to our understanding of the words used in them is to agree to said regulations and then battle it out in court if the need arises. We all see how Google and others are trying to set precedents that we disagree with, and so we shouldn't simply accept their interpretations, but should instead fight them. So, in this case, Christians should agree to Google's terms of service and then be ready to fight it out if the matter ends up in court.

I hope that I have accurately stated the position of the commenter. Here's my response:

Let's start with the word "discriminate". This commenter stated that "discrimination involves a denial of someone's civil rights." I don't think that's right, and I don't think that's how Google understands the word, either. The word "discriminate" now carries a great deal of negative baggage...


How to opt-out of the new Dropbox terms of service...

Recently, Dropbox updated its terms of service. There is a whole lot of legalese in there that few people have the stomach, or ability, to wade through and understand. Dropbox helpfully put up a blog post to explain the new terms of service here.

However, this blog post came to my attention. Here are the salient points:

No matter what they do (delete your data, privacy breach, overcharging, whatever), you don’t get to sue. Instead, THEY get to choose the arbitrator according to whatever criteria they want, and thus any dispute is decided by someone they’re paying.

Also, you can’t join a class-action suit against them. Which sounds like no big deal, but when a company takes advantage of a bunch of people all in the same small way (incorrectly assessing a service charge, for example), class action is how companies are made to clean up their act en masse, instead of waiting for thousands of people to call them up and demand their $20 back or whatever.

Yikes! If you're inclined to opt-out of the new terms of service, you have until March 24, 2014 to do so. You can opt out by clicking here (you will be required to login to your dropbox account).


Google's evil karma: user agreements...

Historically, Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana has used Google Apps for email and calendars. It's basically Gmail and Google Calendar for businesses using their own domain name.

Google also gives 501(c)3 non-profit organizations access to Google Apps for free. You just have to submit some documentation regarding your 501(c)3 status. For quite a number of years, we have been using the free edition of Google Apps here at the church.

We continue to use Google Apps to this day. Recently, I needed to reapply for non-profit status with Google Apps. I was in the process of filing the necessary "paperwork" online when I ran into a snag...


The web's underbelly...

Good piece on cybercrime forwarded by son-in-law Lucas Weeks. Be on guard.

Tags: 

Microsoft, Pepsi, Apple, and Samsung...

Two good pieces, both pointing out that leaders are rarely as bad or as good as conventional wisdom tells us. This on Microsoft's about-to-retire CEO, Steve Ballmer, and this on Apple's late CEO, Steve Jobs. Says Sculley, Jobs "learned a lot in those years in the wilderness." And if you're interested, this interview with Sculley is fascinating, although prior to Steve Jobs death and therefore not as blunt and wise.

Here's a good review of the new iPhone 5s by Anand Lal Shimpi whose site, Anandtech, is the best tech review site on the web. People have a tendency to believe Apple's hype about style...

Tags: 

76 Days a Year...

Priceonomics reports that nobody reads the fine print. We've mentioned it before, and some people have claimed that actually they do. How many do? Well, apparently in one case less than 1 in 3000. That one person won $1000, by the way. 

A study from Carnegie Mellon calculated that the average Internet user would need to spend 76 days a year to read and understand the privacy policies and license agreements of the websites and software they use. That is nearly 4 months of 8 hour workdays.

All I'm going to say is...

Tags: 

Serious money bets on church startups...

GigaOM reports from SXSW 2013:

"...if you want to snare some money from at least one venture capitalist you might want to keep human vices — like lust, gluttony and greed — in mind.

"At a SXSW Interactive panel Friday ...Mayfield Fund managing director Tim Chang said:

The way I evaluate a lot of companies now is I look at the design framework. I look at the design framework of the seven deadly sins. If an app or service does not tap into one or more of the seven deadly sins, either directly or indirectly, it will not be addicting…I always look along those dimensions.. and see what do those trigger."

Maybe he's on to something? The PCA's RUF has gotten some big capitalist to venture a bunch of his millions for one church startup in each of the Big Ten Conference cities. The startup capital is around $750K per church and these startups market themselves to students and academics. I think Tim Chang would approve; in the Big Ten, you don't need to settle for only one or two of the seven deadlies...


Uh...

The big news for iPhone users is Google Maps now lives on the iPhone, with turn-by-turn directions. The bad news is Google Maps tells me Abel Nursery is actually Bloomington's Sportsplex.

Tags: 

Apple and Samsung...

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee says, "Five years ago, we were all worried about patent trolls… Five years later, who are they? Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, maybe even Apple."

Maybe even? Especially.

Tags: 

Announcing ClearnoteSongbook.com...

Clearnote SongbookTo reform the Church is to reform her worship.

Everything about our worship indicates our reverence, zeal, and love toward the Triune God; or alternately, our flippancy and indifference. Hearts aflame for God cry out for men to preach the Word, read Scripture, pray, and sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with zeal. Sadly, though, worship today is aimed at the mind or the heart. It's intellect or passion--never both. When there is zeal, it's rarely "in accordance with knowledge." And those claiming knowledge make a principle out of their absence of zeal.

Five hundred years ago, John Calvin worked to reform every part of the Church's worship. We must give ourselves to this same work today.

That's why I'm very thankful to announce ClearnoteSongbook.com. The men behind the Songbook--Jody Killingsworth, Philip Moyer, and the Good Shepherd Band, along with Ben Crum, Joseph Bayly, and Lucas Weeks--have put together a site that is a call to reform our worship. The Clearnote Songbook is jam-packed with goodies to help in that work...


Apple Maps, Google, and cars on auto-pilot...

Last night at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, Google's Eric Schmidt said some interesting things, one of which faulted Apple for not sticking with Google Maps in iOS 6. He points to the hundreds of millions Google has spent developing Google Maps and says doing mapping well is very difficult. True.

Thing is, since Google refused to permit turn-by-turn on the iOS in order to give Android a leg-up, Apple had no choice but to move on. Mapping software on a smartphone without turn-by-turn is about as useful as an ejection seat on a helicopter. I don't fault Google for withholding this from the iOS. This sort of move is Apple's specialty. But Schmidt's faulting Apple over cutting the cord is dumb bordering on deceptive.

More interesting is the hint of the future in Schmidt's eyes lighting up when someone asked about Google's auto-pilot car. I've followed the work on auto-piloted cars for a few years and I'm quite excited about what's coming. Apparently, Schmidt is also.

No one wants to give up the wheel of his F150, M6, or WRX, but it's inevitable. Once a bunch of us have embraced auto-piloted cars, the danger posed by the romantic individualist will require him to cede control of his machine.

Think about it. Commercial jets are on auto-pilot the vast majority of time...

Tags: 

Go Daddy's taken down...

Can I say this gently? If your site is down right now, it serves you right for living with Bob Parsons' Go Daddy. We made that mistake for a while but our consciences got the better of us and we switched. I'm thankful. Everyone should switch. (And yes, I know Parsons sold the company recently.) Still.

Tags: 

The Reformers were pamphleteers...

Again and again within the PCA, men sound the trumpet against the approaching enemy and immediately are shouted down by other men who say the blowing of the trumpet violated proper "process." Their claim is that sounding the alarm is not to trust the courts of the church where schismatics and heretics ought properly (and only) to be dealt with. They shush the buglers and their clear note.

This is to punish men for the very act of courageous obedience by which they serve our Lord and His Bride, and it's the same sort of punishment and condemnation Calvin, Luther, and Knox suffered. So buck up, men! You have a great patrimony! Calvin, Luther, and Knox blew their bugles, also, sounding the alarm house to house, city to city, day and night with tears.

Now to the details. When the Lord commanded Ezekiel to be faithful in his calling as a prophet, he called him a "watchman." Pastors today are watchmen, also, as indicated by...


A technical introduction to the new BaylyBlog

In my previous post, I introduced BaylyBlog readers to a few of the new features of the site. In this post, I will introduce a few of the technical details:

  • We are using a slightly modified LAMP stack. Instead of Apache, we're using Ngnix as our server to improve overall performance of our sites. The rest is pretty standard: Ubuntu Linux, MySQL, and PHP.
  • Joseph got a head start on me on this one, but I'll add it here also: we are running Apache Solr on a separate VPS to handle all the indexing and retrieval of content.

Welcome to the new BaylyBlog!

Joseph, Ben and I are very happy to present the new BaylyBlog! We hope you like what we've done to the place. Please take some time to look around. And while you check out the new design—I think Ben did a bang-up job, myself—you can also take advantage of a few of the new features:


Coming up Wednesday...

This Wednesday Baylyblog's new design will go live. To help with the transfer we'll be shutting down comments for a day or so, likely starting Tuesday evening. So if you run into problems commenting Tuesday night or Wednesday, please be patient.

The work that's gone into the new design has been heavy since we're not simply switching from one blogging software to another--TypePad to WordPress, for instance. Baylyblog is being transformed into a site running on the open source content management platform, Drupal.

There are a number of features this will allow, but search is the big winner...