All posts by tbc0

Can a Christian be patriotic?

John’s 25-minute homily this past Sunday has even more to say about the tension between our faith and our patriotism. I was there. I highly recommend it. http://j.mp/2uMl3de

Billydteacher's Blog

Can a Christian be patriotic? For the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Years ago on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson pointed out how Americans used to openly embrace the Christian traditions and values that shaped our Republic. In that culture, it was easy for a Christian to be a patriot. Perhaps too easy. Vibrant, biblical faith could degenerate into a civil religion, where the country’s well-being and the expansion of God’s Kingdom were synonymous.

But today, many Americans have rejected the religious values that informed our society.

Where along this range of attitudes is true Christian patriotism?

Well, first, we mustn’t deify our country. We don’t wrap the flag around the cross. Our citizenship is in heaven, and that’s where our ultimate allegiance is.

But as Chuck said, we can’t love mankind in the abstract; we can only really love people in the particular, concrete…

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Beware customerfeedbackpanel.com

I was duped by a sophisticated scam. I’m embarrassed. But not too much. I don’t get duped by unsophisticated scams. This one was relatively harmless, which is why flags didn’t go up in my mind. Anyway, here’s my confession and story, followed by lessons learned.

Thursday I was surfing the web on my Chromebook. An official-looking window from customerfeedbackpanel.com claiming to be an Xfinity survey popped up in my browser. I’m an Xfinity / Comcast customer, and I jumped to the conclusion that Comcast was hijacking my browser, holding it hostage until I responded. Somehow I got it in my head that I had to take the survey before my internet connection would be released so I could surf. (I know, I know. Stupid. And shame on me for not giving Comcast more credit. Their customer support has gotten better year after year. After talking with Tier 2 support out of their Philadelphia security office, I won’t make that mistake again. Anyway…) I played along and stayed in my stupor because no flags went off in my head right away. I wasn’t asked for private information. I remember answering that I was male, and maybe I answered my age category. The other questions were related to Xfinity service. A flag only went off at the end of the survey. That’s when I did take screenshots (see the third lesson below.

Continue reading Beware customerfeedbackpanel.com

Summary of Changes to Apple iTunes Terms

I keep my own copies of terms, privacy policies, etc. Tonight I compared the 2013 Apple iTunes Terms of Service [1] with 2014 [2]. Here’s a summary. (Googling returned no results of anyone else talking about this.) I’m not going to waste time commenting on any of this. Here are bullet items. Look at the terms for yourself to see details, and make up your own mind about what to thing.

  • entirely new: Family Sharing
  • entirely new: App Bundles
  • auto-download of movies or TV shows no longer supported
  • added disclaimer about medical information in App Store Products and External Services
  • decoupled Genius privacy from Location Services and Popular Near Me
  • expanded tentacles to include all “Genius-enabled” devices
  • talks about “accessing” and “acquiring” content
  • replaces some talk about “purchases” with “transactions”
  • covers iTune codes
  • cleaned up URLs so all but one use https

[1] www.evernote.com/l/AAheuUn…UoVY/
[2] www.evernote.com/l/AAj5Bcm…XP_s/

IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND YOUR INTERNET ACTIVITY RELATED TO ANY SECRETS YOU WANT TO PROTECT

A very serious Internet security vulnerability was announced two days ago called Heartbleed. I haven’t seen this on the national news. Maybe I’ve had my head down too low these past two days. Anyway, you can Google that codename to bring yourself up to speed, but here is a summary for my non-technical readers here at WordPress. I hope I can count on my technical readers to make comments to improve this advice. I’m happy to answer more detailed questions, too.

I strongly recommend that you immediately suspend your Internet activity related to any secrets you want to protect (banking, investments, shopping, etc.) and look for an official response from each website with which you do business. For example, I looked into Evernote because I use it so much. I’m glad now that I never use it to write down secrets, but I did buy a premium subscription last week and gave them my credit card. They claim they are not affected [1], so that’s one off my list.

There is no other way to know if you have been personally affected until it is too late and your accounts are compromised, your money is stolen electronically, identity is stolen, etc. As reported, Heartbleed was an innocent coding mistake that propagated onto the Internet March 14th, 2012. It is not known if it has been exploited and it is not known if any secrets have been stolen.

Therefore, the safest (reasonable) course of action is to share your secrets only with websites that confirm they are not (or are no longer) affected by this vulnerability. If you quit the Internet over this I wouldn’t blame you, but I’m not ready to go to that extreme.

I can’t find anything with Google that convinces me WordPress is NOT vulnerable. If your WordPress account password is the same as any other website you care about, I would take the day off from work to change that password if I were you. It’s that serious. Now I’m going back to work.

[1] discussion.evernote.com/topic/56287-heartbleed/

 

How I Blog

Wow. What a difference eight years makes on the Web! That’s how long it’s been since I last wrote about how I blog [1]. I’m still a happy (though less frequent) user of StumbleUpon [2], but I’ve abandoned Kuro5hin and MetaFilter. Enough about the past. This, of course, is my WordPress blog. I’ve been writing here for a year, and my first impression [3] was spot on. Granted, I’ve only written two “real” posts so far, but I’m a proponent of quality over quantity.

The biggest change in my blogging habits in the past eight years has been my use of the microblogging site Twitter [4]. My first tweet went out April 13, 2008. In the intervening years I’ve developed an enjoyment for the challenge of expressing a thought in 140 characters or less. I like to share links, which challenges me to promote them in 118 or less. I like to create twooshes (a tweet of exactly 140 characters). If my tweet is 131 characters, I add a space and #htwoosh. I like Twitter’s archiving feature, which allows me to preserve my own copy of all my tweets [5]. I’ve posted, on average, 3 or 4 times a day, including re-tweets.

When I want to write less formally I use Google+ [6].

I have been on Facebook since it was thefacebook.com. It’s a walled garden, so I don’t recommend it. I wouldn’t use it if all my friends were on Google+, but they’re not. But I hate Facebook. I remain engaged to be a subversive from within. I am riding the wave of its popularity so I have, not the full experience (I don’t play games and I am reluctant to click that oppressive thumbs-up button or engage with commercial pages), but at least some experience. This is what I hate most about Facebook: It has co-opted the words “friend” and “like.” It’s an inferior blog, but a blog nonetheless because, although a walled garden that requires one to log in before discovering content, I can link to “public” posts, e.g. [7]. That is no great consolation. I hate Facebook.

I write a little on Quora [8] (even a couple brief blog posts [9]) but it’s a quirky quommunity.

Many more social media sites have popped up in the past eight years. I try to maintain the list of the ones I’m most active on at [10]. I was maintaining a social media index, but a few links are broken [11].

I maintain a few QuickTopics — the “instant discussion space.” I’m still a fan. It’s preposterously easy to use.

Finally, after all these years it’s still worth pointing out that I maintain my account at Wikipedia. I joined the community the year it came online. It’s not much of a blogging tool anymore, but it’s still an ideal tool for following developments to things that can be defined as encyclopedia entries. Blogging wasn’t popular the day the Twin Towers were hit. I followed the 9/11 story at Wikipedia as it developed minute by minute (and created the first draft of the Osama bin Laden article). I have made many contributions there. I occasionally use it for that. Note that you can comment on articles (where opinion is not discouraged) — just click on the “discussion” link at the top of every Wikipedia article.

[1] purl.org/net/tbc/blog/19891.html
[2] tbc.stumbleupon.com
[3] tbc0.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/first-impressions-of-wordpress-and-how-i-use-it
[4] twitter.com/tbc0
[5] purl.org/net/tbc/tweets
[6] plus.google.com/+TimChambersUSA/posts
[7] www.facebook.com/timchambersusa/posts/10100251136746748
[8] www.quora.com/Tim-Chambers
[9] www.quora.com/Tim-Chambers/Posts
[10] about.me/tbc0
[11] timchambersusa.com/SoMe_index.html

Edited to talk a little more about WordPress and to add hyperlinks.