Thursday, 8 September 2011

Frank Viola's Blog

Beyond evangelical

Was Jesus a Jew?

It would seem that this is a question with a fairly obvious answer. What is interesting is the reasons for people denying the Jewishness of Jesus as well as the probability of negative consequences to such a view.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Favorite Linux Applications: What is yours?

A List of my favorite Linux applications by category. What is yours?

0. Distro specifics (simply because some of the tools are not
available or useful on all distros)
0.1 Current favorite distro (and reason - what do you want in a distro?)
Mepis (KDE-based, Debian based, User-friendly, Fast install, good
balance between stability and up-to-date applications, familiar to me
:-) )
0.2. Favorite Desktop Environment
0.2.1. Heavy (If you have the Graphics)
KDE (Don't ask me why... just personal taste - eye candy?)
0.2.2. Light (Older computers etc.)
Fluxbox (Fast)
LXDE (Only discovered it recently - so far I'm impressed)
[I also get tired of one specific Desktop Environment easily, so tend
to install more than one and switch between them or even run more than
one simultaneously - one for work and one for play]

1. Daily must-haves: Tools / utilities that you use everyday.
Indispensable on your computer and one of the first applications you
would install on a new computer if it was not already there as part of
your base distro:
1.1 CLI tools:
Aptitude (package manager)
mc (Midnight Commander)
gpm (console mouse daemon)
fbi (Frame-buffer image viewer)
screen (Console Screen Manager)
1.2. GUI tools:
Yakuake (Teminal emulator: hide/show with shortcut key)
SciTE (Text Editor)
GIMP (Graphics Program)

2. Indispensible tools / utilities that you only use once in a while,
but still consider as a must-have:
2.1 CLI:
cfdisk (CLI disk partition)
elinks (Web Browser)
2.2 GUI:
gparted (GUI Disk partition tool)
wine (Windows "emulator")
VM Virtualbox / VMWare Player (Virtual Machines)
k3b (Burn DVD's & CD's)
VLC (Multimedia player)

3. Office applications (Indispensible office-type applications)
3.1 CLI:
3.2 GUI:
LyX (Document Processor)
Gnumeric (Spreadsheet - faster than LibreOffice/Open Office)
Abiword (Word Processor - faster than LibreOffice/Open Office)
LibreOffice / Open Office (Only way to read some Miscrosoft formats)

4. Specialist Tools / Applications that you use regularly and consider
as a personal must-have, but that will only be useful for users with
specific interests or jobs
4.1 CLI
GRASS (GIS - also with GUI)
weex ("Automatic" ftp website updater - CLI)
nmap (Network scanner)
4.2 GUI
Quantum GIS (GIS)
Lazarus (Free Pascal IDE & GUI builder)
Boa Constructor (Python GUI IDE)
Eclipse (Java IDE)
KDevelop (C++ IDE)
Bluefish Editor (Web Editor)
BibleTime (Bible Study tool - uses e-sword document format)
MuseScore & NoteEdit (Music Score Editors)
Audacity (Sound Editor)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Faith: one of 3 possible sources of knowledge

Thinking about it, there can be just 3 sources of knowledge (and possibly truth) for any human being:
  1. Reason = Inherent "knowledge" / common sense / intelligence. This would include things like the laws of logic, which we simply cannot prove, but take for granted since it is somehow hardwired in human beings and forms the basis of intelligence itself. Here we can distinguish between "hardwired" (genetic?) "assumptions" and assumptions which we share because of culture. The last mentioned is commonly included as "common sense", but is not necessarily shared by all people in all cultures and times. Some aspects of mathematics (or at least the assumption that basic mathematics is universal (i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 everywhere and always)) might possibly be included here. Some assumptions are taken for convenience, but again are without proof, although they somehow feel more probable than the alternative (e.g. the principle of Occam's Razor: the simplest solutions are most likely to be true)
  2. Direct Observation / Experience. This is a major part of the empirical sciences where experiments can be designed to see the results of different controlled factors. But everyday observations and experiences is also a major factor in all knowledge.
  3. Faith. We all trust (believe / have faith in) people to some degree to speak the truth (to some degree). Even scientists must believe that the results published in the scientific literature is reliable, because we simply don't have the time to repeat each and every experiment (or research project) ever done in order to do our own observations. If others repeated previous experiments, we still have to trust them to give reliable reports of their results. Of course, in science, because it is likely that somebody may repeat an experiment and scientists' careers are build on being reputable and accurate, the results of scientific research are generally much more reliable than a newspaper report, for example. Part of the scientific method is that results should be testable and repeatable. Faith is therefore not blind. It should be the reasonable result of measuring the reliability of our source of knowledge. In this, direct observation of past events and logic should play a major role. Ultimately, even our trust in our own logic and the reliability of personal observation and experience, is based on faith; a well-placed faith in my opinion, but faith nonetheless.