Friday, May 30, 2008

iTunes is a program I love (to hate)

From my past blog you will know that my computer has recently been born again. I managed to get everything running without much problem. I had everything meticulously backed up. This included programs, my documents, my pictures (200 gigabytes) and my iTunes database (250 gigabytes – movies take a lot of space).

I have been using iTunes for years, I have 3 iPods - I know what I’m doing when it comes to iTunes. I know it is a major pain in one’s nether regions when it comes to moving the iTunes library. People have told me this pain is caused by Digital Rights Management (DRM). I reject this notion. DRM could easily be accommodated and a user should still be able to move their library wherever they wanted. To find out how to do this I would suggest Apple contract Microsoft and ask them how they do it in Windows Media Player (WMP). In WMP it’s easy to move libraries from one computer to another. Frankly, I think the programmers at Apple are idiots.

So here’s what I did:

(I’m doing this from memory – I don’t have my iTunes in front of me)

  1. Install iTunes
  2. Opened iTunes
  3. Went to Preferences
  4. Set the library directory to d:\iTunes
  5. Checked the option Keep iTunes Music folder organized
  6. Checked the option Copy files to iTunes folder when adding to library
  7. Clicked on OK
  8. File to Add Folder to Library
  9. Find the folder where my backed up iTunes library was (p:\iTunesBack\iTunes)
  10. Clicked on Add

At this point iTunes proceed to copy data. “Wow,” I said to myself. “These Apple guys got it going on. I want to buy a Mac because their FLAGSHIP program is the bomb. iTunes is a user's dream. Thank you Steve. Thank you Woz. I’m not worthy... I’m not worthy...”

2 hours later the process was complete. I was happy.

I was happy until I noticed only about two thirds of my music copied over. None of my playlists copied. None of my ratings copied. I could tell you more about losing an authorization (you only get 5) but I will spare you.

I can do without the Ratings and the Playlists. There was no rhyme or reason as to what was copied and what wasn’t. Ozzy made it. Rascal Flatts didn’t. All my movies made it. All my podcasts didn’t. Mela’s Christmas music unfortunately made it. Little Big Town didn’t. There was absolutely no pattern.

As entertaining as those I’m a PC, I’m a Mac commercials are the world runs on Windows. 90% of iTunes users run iTunes on Windows. You’d think Apple would want to make a good program to show off their grace and skill...

Many times I have said to myself “I want to buy a Mac. They are realty cool. Steve Jobs will make everything okay... All of my hopes and dreams will come true...” Then I use iTunes and I am reminded Apple is just as fallible and unresponsive to user needs as the US Government is to its citizens.

I could write much much more about iTunes... I will spare you... I buy all my music from AmazonMP3 anyway (DRM free is the bomb).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My computer was born again...

My computer was starting to irritate me. It was locking up and becoming unresponsive after it would come out of sleep. I tried everything I could think of with out any luck. I think the main problem was I installed SP1 for Vista myself. I should have waited for Windows update to install it naturally - I got inpatient and downloaded the full SP1 myself. This was apparently bad...

Here’s a general best practice I preach on a regular basis: my computer gets born again about once a year. Basically I back everything up, I delete the logical partitions on my main drives, reformat my drives and reinstall everything. You will be amazed at how fast your computer will be and how many problems are solved when you just nuke everything and reinstall.

I preach this but I don’t like doing this. The whole “born again” process is a religious experience most computer users avoid because no matter how you go about it the pain in the butt factor is high.

Considering my computer was being born again I decided to try something different. I tried to RAID 0 my two hard drives. I have two 500gb Western Digital drives (Western Digital drives are the best by the way). If I did a RAID 0 configuration on these drives, I would effectively have two drives become one. I would have a 1000gb drive (that's 1 terabyte baby). My motherboard supported it and I had the RAID controller enabled, but 3 hours later I couldn’t get the Windows install to see it. I finally gave up. I know I’m a computer whimp for not searching out Google for answers or even reading the documentation... It just occurred to me that I was wasting my life and I finally just formatted the drives independently.

The process of installing Vista was surprisingly easy. It took about a half an hour and all my drivers loaded, video was working properly, audio was working, my DVD drives where all alive and functioning. This would not have been the case with XP. I’m sure I will find stuff that didn’t install right and I will deal with that as it comes up.

Now comes the fun of installing all my applications.

This time I'm going to image my drive so I don't have to do this again!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Part 3: Our Technology...

My first computer was an IBM 286 running some version of DOS. It had WordPerfect 5.1 and Lotus 123. It didn’t have a mouse or even a hard drive.

Some time later we got Macintosh Classic computers with 20 megabyte hard drives (that’s megabytes not gigabytes). We thought we had died and gone to heaven. The Mac back in 1990 had MS Word and Excel. It was the bomb!! Today, I have an original Mac Classic in my office at home. It still boots. I’m tempted to sell it on e-bay or turn it into a fish tank – I can’t decide...

Today, I have a top of the line (at least it was when I bought it last summer) Dell XPS system. I have 1.75 terabytes of hard drive storage that I use for pictures, music, ripped DVDs, spreadsheets, lesson plans, financial records back to 1994, scanned stuff (I scan everything – I hate paper) and even the occasional word document. I have a Wi-Fi network that runs my wife’s laptop, my Linux machine (I really like Linux – watch out Microsoft & Apple), a laser printer, and my photo printer. We have three iPods, two digital cameras, a scanner, several external hard drives, three DVD burners and a network attached storage drive to back everything up. My internet is the fastest available in my area. I can download a 2 gigabyte movie from iTunes in less than 15 minutes. I’m getting exited just talking about it!!

You may ask why I choose to write about our technology in relation to Our World and Our Worth. For me to answer this I need to refer back to scripture.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus gave his disciples two commandments in these verses. The first was for them to teach all nations the gospel and the second was to teach them to keep his commandments. The members of the church back then had two missions:

  • Proclaim the gospel (aka. teach all nations)
  • Perfect the saints (aka. keep his commandments)

Jesus was talking to 11 guys who had no special abilities or talents. These 11 guys had no idea how to teach everyone in the world. How would you accomplish this?

Back then there was no way to really do this. Paul would get a letter from Corinth that took months to deliver; he would write a letter back, that letter would take months to deliver. The early members of the church didn’t have scriptures as we know them today. There was no bible as we know it. A member in Corinth would have been lucky to have a hand-me-down copy of the book of Mark (Mark is considered the first written gospel). Ultimately, Mormons believe the early church was lost to the world and we were left to the dark ages. Why this falling away occurred is the subject of another blog...

In the early 1800s Joseph Smith was given another commandment in addition to the other two I mentioned before – he was commanded to redeem the dead. Now we have three commandments:

  • Proclaim the gospel
  • Prefect the saints
  • Redeem the dead

Mormons are responsible for teaching everyone who’s living right now, perfecting themselves, and now they have redeem everyone who has ever lived. I won’t get into the process of redeeming the dead other than it occurs in our temples. Back then there was literally no way to accomplish this.

Today, this can be done. We have computers that can track generations of genealogy. We can communicate instantly with anyone in the world. I can download all of conference and listen to it on my iPod from The scriptures have been indexed electronically to teachings of modern prophets. I can check my own ward’s calendar so I know when the next Cub Scout meeting is. It’s amazing.

Today, computers and databases can keep track of billions of records. In fact, most modern home computers could... Today, we can keep the whole church together with If someone in Africa wants to find out about the church they could google Mormons and they would get everything they need.

All of this wonderful technology was inspired and created for the express purpose of us fulfilling the commandments of the Lord to proclaim the gospel, perfect the saints and redeem the dead.

I think it’s just amazing!

I think it’s important to put our technology in its proper place. We have the internet and powerful computers to further the work of the Lord. iTunes is just a nice offshoot of this.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Part 2: Our Worth...

It is often asked what is the worth of a soul is to God. We don’t obey His will all the time. We sin. We are messy and carnal. So, why does God care so much? Why would God love us so much that he would send His son to save us?

First, let me preface my answer to these questions with a few things in mind. I am writing this blog for people who are not Mormon. I am trying to write to people who are Christians who have an open understanding of the nature of God and His relationship with us. We Mormon’s already have a clear understanding of our worth to our Father in Heaven. We are God’s children, we are God’s greatest creation and we have the potential to become like God. God’s job is to exalt us.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

For my non-Mormon friends, let me talk about the worth of our souls to God in three ways.

First, we are eternal just as God is eternal. The earth will someday be just a memory to us. Our solar system, galaxy and even our universe will someday be just a memory to each of us. One soul is more important to Our Father in Heaven than all the gold and diamonds in the whole earth. One soul is worth more than the entire world to God. We are eternal, everything else isn’t. Christ gave his life to bring souls back to God so we could dwell eternally with Him. Hopefully we take advantage of Christ sacrifice. Christ wants every soul to dwell with Him and his Father eternally.

Let me try to quote C.S. Lewis – ”you have never met a mere mortal”.

Second, we are created in His image. Not only are we eternal just like God is eternal we also can be an image of Him in everyway. If we let Him, we can be polished to reflect God’s light perfectly. A diamond can only shine so much. We can shine with a light beyond the sun if we allow Christ to change us into beings like Him.

Third, we are agents unto ourselves. When Adam and Eve fell we became like God in another way:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil...

This may sound strange God knows the difference between good and evil and He could choose evil. God always chooses the good. When Jesus was on the earth he was tempted but he never yielded. God has a choice and he always chooses good.

We are just like God in this way also. We are faced with good and evil choices everyday God wants us to choose the good but often we choose evil. We call this Sin. God will never take away our right to choose between good and evil. God made us agents unto ourselves. We are free to act. We may not like the consequences of our actions but we always have the right to act.

This agency or knowledge of good and evil sets us humans apart from all of God’s other creatures. A bird, as fish or a dog doesn’t know any thing about being good or being evil. Therefore, all other creatures created by God are less than humans because they have no agency. You can have a well trained dog or a tame cat but the animal itself is neither good nor evil.

We are just like God these three ways: we are eternal, we are in His image and we have agency. Because we are like God and God is like us we are of great worth to God. God loves us because we have the potential to have all of God’s attributes. This is our worth to God. This should be our worth to each other.

Another topic for a future blog: What the deal with agency? Why are we free to choose? Why does God let us choose evil?