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By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:32 AM

Gruber quoth:

If I'm right, it's inevitable now that Microsoft will acquire Nokia.

I think he is right. It doesn't really make sense for Microsoft to target the tablet space with its own, tightly controlled product line and ignore the cell phone market. The two markets clearly feed off each other and, assuming the Surface does well, it will do well in stark contrast to the dismal sales record of Windows Phone 7. While the Zune fiasco shows that Microsoft can fail with hardware, the Xbox 360 is a good argument that Microsoft can also do quite well with its own hardware. Acquiring a company that is acting idiotically, but yet also brings major cell phone design talent with it, would be a good choice if Microsoft wants to make a massive first party splash into the mobile world.

Money Well Spent?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:46 AM

The ever interesting Larry Ellison seems to have made a most unusual purchase:

Larry Ellison has closed a deal to buy most the Hawaiian island of Lanai for an undisclosed sum.

The Oracle chief executive as agreed to purchase 98 percent of the 141-square-mile island, Hawaii's sixth-largest by acreage, according to a statement issued today by the Hawaii governor's office

That's one way to ensure you end up with good neighbors.

Happy Summer!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:06 AM

This year, with as warm as the weather has been, it is hard to believe that summer hasn't already been “in session” for several months. It'll be interesting to see what the rest of the season holds in store for us.

See Clear, SQL

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:09 AM

One thing I often enjoy doing during the summer is tinkering with my long time coding project SAFARI, the system that powers asisaid and numerous other sites I've designed. Other than pragmatic, urgent changes here and there, I rarely have time to mess with it during the academic year, and while I by no means enjoy programming enough that I would want it to be my “day job,” I do enjoy the change of pace. To that end, over the last three summers, I've been modernizing SAFARI's code base, slowly removing dead code — some of which has been non-functional for the better part of a decade — and adding little features here and there.

Today I undertook cleaning out a lot of dead code from the component that puts together the lists of posts such as you find on the front page of this blog. That particular component probably has some of the messiest code of the entire program and, worse, a few parts still depend on an otherwise retired old theming system I replaced during the summer of 2010. I have been wanting to eliminate that dependency so that I can be completely rid of the inefficient old theming system and stick to the much cleaner, object oriented one I put together two years ago. As part of that, I needed to rewrite the subroutine that lists recently commented upon posts. Previously, that subroutine required several different SQL queries to list those posts, but I wanted to get it down to just one, more efficient query.

To accomplish this, I not only had to unleash my old friend “JOIN,” but also played around with non-JOIN subqueries. The result is not beautiful, but it allows me to get the data I need using just one SQL query:

SELECT uninet_articles.*, UNIX_TIMESTAMP(uninet_articles.gmt), uninet_comments.commentcount, uninet_comments.lastposter, UNIX_TIMESTAMP(uninet_comments.maxgmt) FROM uninet_articles RIGHT JOIN (SELECT aid, (SELECT poster FROM uninet_comments AS a WHERE b.aid = a.aid ORDER BY gmt DESC LIMIT 1) as lastposter, COUNT AS commentcount, MAX AS maxgmt FROM uninet_comments AS b GROUP BY aid ORDER BY maxgmt DESC LIMIT 10) AS uninet_comments ON uninet_articles.aid = uninet_comments.aid LIMIT 10

If any of my SQL inclined friends have suggestions for making the query more efficient, they certainly would be welcomed.

FiOS Quantum

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:20 AM

This is the sort of thing that could make one wish one lived in a Verizon local telephone service area:

What's faster than FiOS internet service? FiOS Quantum evidently, as Verizon's latest high-speed internet service gets an official name and pricing. Effectively doubling every tier — except the entry-level 15/5 — each can be acquired with or without a custom bundle, double or triple play, and range in price from $65 to $175 a month — except the 300 down / 65 up which is only available by itself for $210 a month.

300Mbps down — that's incredible.

Relational Wisdom

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:24 AM

Peacemaker Ministries's founder and president, Ken Sande, has stepped down from his post at the organization. Most of you know that I am a vocal opponent of Peacemaker's program for a variety of reasons that need not be rehashed here, but I find something telling to the larger situation of the American church that I think is worth interacting with:

The transition from Peacemaker Ministries does not mean that Ken is leaving peacemaking behind. He has already begun work on a new teaching paradigm, which he is calling “Relational Wisdom,” or, simply, “RW.” […] As the transition is completed and our new CEO identified, Ken hopes to turn his attention fully to RW, writing a new book, and starting a sister ministry that focuses on relational wisdom.

This idea of moving from “paradigm” to “paradigm” hints at a problem endemic not only within the sphere of Peacemaker Ministries, but also within many of the other “ministries” that appear in American Evangelicalism today. Too many of them end up being built upon the shifting sands of marketing, buzzwords and “paradigms” (complete with a dash of “shifts”). What is “relational wisdom”? What distinguishes it from normal Biblical teachings on relationships that requires giving it a new name?

Our consumer-driven culture likes these sorts of packages, because they are easy to implement and have clear goals. When everything can be solved with a book and an organization-for-hire, we need not do the hard work of thinking through how the Gospel is to be uniquely applied to the individual situations and people we interact with each day. Programs can be good, don't misunderstand me, but in the Christian life our goal should be to study, teach and preach the whole counsel of God faithfully, not simply to pass through a smattering of programs that cover all the issues we happen to deem important.

Too often, programs that can be dropped into any church with the promise of somehow helping people live better lives end up focusing on one aspect of Scripture, boiling it into a few catchy phrases people memorize, overemphasizing it to the point that it becomes distorted and then calling it a day. Worse, given that we accept that buying “solutions” is a valid means of fixing our problems, once we have completed the program, we are inclined as a culture to assume we know all we need to know. But, as the messiness of real life plays out, these programs end up being forced upon situations they do not really fit. Much as if one memorizes some phrases of a foreign language instead of learning the language's grammar, whether we realize it or not, at some point we hit a dead end.

This is why it is so important that we study the entirety of God's Word and constantly seek to understand how the issues the Biblical figures faced parallel our own issues. When we wrestle with Scripture and see the coherent arc of the story, we can discern the Biblical approach to all sorts of matters — including dealing with conflict — in a way that is much fuller and more applicable than any program ever could hope to be. If we want to be wise in how we relate to and care for our neighbors, all we need to do is immerse ourselves in the Bible and pray for the Spirit's aid in living out the Gospel. That is real relational wisdom that will never become replaced by a paradigm shift.

Late Night Haiku XLIII

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:52 AM

CXXII. The silent word cuts
As no finely tuned phrase could.
Razor sharp, not quick.

CXXIII. A leaf, a cricket,
An empty cafe chair rusts a bit
In the summer's haze.

CXXIV. What was, was not really,
Or was it what it seemed?
An answer deferred.

Now Where Is My Giant Multi-Touch Screen?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:11 AM

CNN has a very nice, interactive electoral college map for those who want to do some election punditry.

Question Mark

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:37 AM

I put one of my favorite quotes from Karl Barth up on the dry erase board in my office at church the other week. I thought it was worth posting here again:

The Gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths. The Gospel is not the door but the hinge.


By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:06 AM


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