Evidence for 10 Biblical Plagues of Egypt

In Monday’s Sydney MX Newspaper (not online) there was an article about scientists discovering evidence to support the claim of the 10 biblical plagues as described in Exodus.

“The plagues are believed to have occurred at an ancient Nile Delta city of Pi-Rameses, the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses II and abandoned around 3000 years ago. Scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.

Climatologists say a dramatic climate shift created a dry period that triggered the first of the plagues, described as the Nile turning into blood.

This, the scientists say, was the toxic algae Burgundy Blood, which stains water red.

The algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and fourth plagues – frogs, lice and flies.

The frogs would have been forced from the water, allowing mosquitoes, flies and other insects to flourish, and lead to the fifth and six plagues – diseased livestock and boils, infected by the insects.

The eruption of the volcano Thera more than 640km away is thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues – hail, locusts and darkness, all caused by the effects of volcanic ash being blown into the atmosphere.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first-borns of Egypt, is believed to be a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings.”

There is a documentary on this on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday Night.

It is interesting that more than 3,000 years after the events of the exodus people are still studying what happened and developing theories for how things could have happened. If I had been in Egypt at that time and all this stuff happened as Moses had said it would I would be certainly believe that God is very real!

In the same way that science can now explain how things happened I find it still so very amazing that God can and does effect things in the world in such a way that science can show how things happen but not why they do! Only God truly knows the secrets of the universe but has given us the rules of science to help us discover them.

It is such a shame to see the church rebuke science as it does (and has done for the past few hundred years). If only the church would embrace scientific discoveries and work out how it fits into what the bible tells us – that would be a fantastic way for the church to be real and relevant to today’s society.

SUBMISSION on the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill

Submissions on the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill closed earlier today. This is the full text of my submission and why I do not support the introduction of Voluntary Students’ Association Membership.

To the Education and Science Committee

Introduction

This submission is from Bradford Heap. I am a PhD student at the School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. From 2005 – 2007 and 2009 I was a student at Massey University’s Albany Campus. During 2006 – 2008 I was on the Executive Committee of the Albany Students’ Association Inc. In 2008 I served as the President of the Association and as the internal students’ association representative on Massey University’s Council.

I do not wish to appear before the committee to speak to my submission.

I can be contacted at:

Summary

I oppose the intent of this bill because:

  • Freedom of Association is already secured through section 229A clause 5 – 7 of the current Education Act 1989. There is no need to remove compulsory automatic membership of students’ associations when there is already a working and effective mechanism for students to object to membership.
  • This bill will result in the loss of student representation on both a local and national level. Currently at a local level many students’ associations organise and run independent student representation through such mechanisms as class/paper representatives, college boards, university committees and ultimately the Council. On a national level students’ associations work together through the likes of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Inc., University Sport New Zealand Inc. and Student Job Search Inc. to provide representation and lobbying for students in a unified manner.

If compulsory membership of students’ associations is removed this unified and centralised organisation of representation will be lost. At this point there is no guarantee that the university will have an independent body of students to consult with. In lieu of this there are two outcomes:

1)                        Universities will no longer consult students. The outcomes of this would be very bad for good decision making, or

2)                        Universities will consult focus groups of students. However, there is no guarantee that these students will not be handpicked by the university to represent the views that the university wants to hear.

Most importantly there will be a loss of an independent student voice. If tertiary institutions have to start directly funding student representation groups there will be a perception of collusion over the outcomes of that representation and engagement that is not currently present.

  • There will be a loss of advocacy. Not all problems faced by students are representative of all students or need to be dealt with at a university committee level. Many issues faced by students are at relatively small scale and can be resolved through speaking to a particular lecturer or head of department. Unfortunately most students do not know the correct means for raising an issue, or if any issue is raised and there is not a satisfactory response how to take the issue to a higher level. Independent advocacy services provided by students’ associations help to deal with these issues and ensure that issues are resolved as quickly and effectively as possible, student advocates both employed and volunteers are trained in problem resolution and know the processes of the university and who to deal with to resolve problems. If Voluntary Student Membership is introduced the loss of funding from a decrease in student levy income will put these vital services under threat.
  • The most important service that students’ associations provide is clubs. Student Clubs are the lifeblood of student life and culture in New Zealand. There are many established clubs within universities that have stretched back many decades. However, these clubs are under threat with the introduction of Voluntary Student Membership. The primary source of funding for the continued running of these clubs is through the allocation of club grants provided by the students’ associations. Without funding many of these clubs would become the realm of the rich who can afford high membership and equipment fees while ordinary students will be locked out of the true university experience.
  • Most importantly I oppose this bill because of the direct effects it will have on all students as already seen through the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism in Australia. It is this last point that I would like to address in detail.

The Current Australian Situation

In 2010 I have begun my PhD and have been studying on the University of New South Wales Kensington Campus in Sydney for the previous two months. During this time I have become a member of the students’ union, a number of clubs, and been elected a postgraduate student representative for Computer Science and Engineering.

I should state clearly that the sky has not fallen in through the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism in Australia. However, it is clear that there has been a dramatic loss of representation, advocacy, and services provided by the student union.

The only representation provided by the student union is through the Student Representative Council, effectively the same as the Executive Committee at most New Zealand students’ associations. This committee is democratically elected each year and each member of the committee has a portfolio role – e.g. women’s rights, environmental issues, etc. This committee liaises with the University over issues, but there is no legal or guaranteed framework for any representation or dialog.

Furthermore any representation at a college/faculty level is not organised by the students’ union. Within the School of Computer Science and Engineering, where I am studying, there is a committee of student representatives, this committee while voted for by students, is organised by the university, and operates on an ad hoc basis advocating for students by bringing issues to the attention of the school but there is no framework in place for how issues are dealt with.

On the student services side of the union there are not many services that are provided free to students. The big events held like bands, dance parties, and other student night type stuff are all user pays and run on a competitive basis against other local venues. But more importantly it is the student clubs that have suffered. All clubs charge a membership fee and in the past where a lot of funding has come from students’ associations, instead there are heavy membership fees upfront and additional funding is provided to some clubs by university faculties. Again the biggest problem with university funding of student bodies is that they are at the whim of the university for continuation of this funding from year to year and for the most part there is little in the way of set policy or openness surrounding the allocation of these funds.

Conclusion

At the end of the day the issue of voluntary verses compulsory membership of students’ associations comes down to two components, money and ideology. One ideology says that students’ associations should be entirely voluntary and user pays, the other is those who see the benefits of a compulsory system where the collective greater good is advanced. The largest problem with a user pays argument in students’ associations is what about those who get up against the wall with their finances at university and are not able to pay the bills and face the prospect of being forced out of university or their accommodation, when they go to their students’ association for financial or food help; is it expected that they be asked to pay for that help up front when they can’t afford to pay anything more?

Good Wednesday

A few weeks ago I got into an interesting discussion with a friend about the timing of when Jesus died and what it actually meant to spend three days and three nights in the tomb. I am very strongly of the belief that Jesus died on Wednesday afternoon, while my friend was absolutely certain it was Friday.

Just doing a bit of background reading on it in the lead up to Easter this weekend I came across two good articles on the subject (both backing a Wednesday death – you can find plenty of stuff supporting a Friday death too).

The Day Jesus Died

The Friday view is based on the wording of Mark 15:42, which says that Christ’s crucifixion occurred on the day of preparation, “the day before the Sabbath”. Since the Hebrew Sabbath is on Saturday, the Church traditionally held that Jesus was crucified on Friday. However, Jesus prophesied that he would be dead for three days and three nights before his resurrection: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40). There are obviously not three days and three nights between Friday evening and Sunday morning.

The problem appears easily resolved by a clarification of what Mark meant by “sabbath”. Along with the weekly Sabbath day, the Jews had other “sabbaths” throughout the year, marking high holy days. In Matthew 28:1, the Greek should be translated, “at the end of the sabbaths” – a plural word – noting that there had been more than one sabbath the previous week. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was also considered a “sabbath” (Lev. 23:6,7). This Feast is celebrated on Nisan 15, the day after the Passover (Lev. 23:5-6). Jesus was crucified on the Passover and Mark 15:42-43 notes that Joseph of Arimathea desired to take Christ’s body down from the cross before the high sabbath began.

Good Friday is a Myth; Jesus Died on a Wednesday!

One of the most common questions asked by new Christians is, “How could Jesus have been in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights if He died on a Friday afternoon and rose before sunrise on a Sunday?” Most Christians duck the question, since at most they can only come up with one day and two nights (Friday nighttime, Saturday daytime, and Saturday nighttime in our measure of days). If they add in the Friday daytime they get two periods of daytime, even though Jesus would have died in the late afternoon on a Friday. This late afternoon death is consistent with the Passover lamb being killed between the two evenings of Jewish teaching. The lamb was killed between 3 and 6 PM on the afternoon of the 14th of Abib/Nisan and prepared, because the 15th was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was an annual Sabbath observance (the first and last days of Unleavened Bread were annual Sabbaths in addition to the normal weekly Sabbaths). This search of the scriptures is important, not because it affects salvation, but because it answers the questions posed on whether Jesus kept His Word, and whether the Bible is true in this matter. A legitimate concern and question for all Christians!

Finally to really be provocative how about throwing Easter out the window and bring back the Passover celebration and in particular highlight how Jesus is revealed through the passover service.

Christian symbolism in the Passover occurs early in the Seder (the Passover dinner). Three matzahs are put together (representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The middle matzah is broken, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus. The matzah itself is designed to represent Jesus, since it is striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah,  David, and Zechariah. Following the Seder meal, the “buried” matzah is “resurrected,” which was foretold in the prophecies of David.

Speed Cameras in NSW

Living in a new country brings with it a lot of cultural changes, and while the difference in most things between NZ and Australia are mild and minor some of the laws, particularly around roads, are quite absurd from the view of a Kiwi.

Yesterday the NSW Government announced that it was reintroducing mobile speed cameras – you know those white/green/black vans always parked on the sides of the roads in NZ with the dark tinted windows.

What is absurd in NSW though is instead of the anywhere, anytime, no signage speed cameras they have in NZ, the NSW Government is going to give everyone one warning sign before a camera (currently the fixed cameras have 3!), and maintain a public list of locations.

I don’t see the rational for warning people about speed cameras (let alone 3 warnings). If you are serious about bringing the road toll down then stick cameras at the black spots, at the points where people are acting stupidly and fine them, take their cars off them, take their license off them. The only thing fixed speed cameras are is white elephants on the side of the road and those who manage to get fines from them certainly shouldn’t be driving.

By having anytime, anywhere speed cameras it means drivers are more alert to the speed they are travelling at all times not just when a road sign tells you to slow down. And don’t get me started on people calling them revenue gathering tools, they only gather revenue because you are dumb enough to break the law.

Sin

Earlier tonight I was having a conversation with a friend about some stuff that had happened more than a year ago.

The conversation brought up a particular event which at the time was a big thing but in hindsight really was more petty than serious and all that needed to prevent/solve that event was for a few people to step back and listen to what everyone else was saying.

And that is how the conversation ended.

Fast forward a few hours and I am now trying to sleep but this stuff in the past is now turning over in my head. And the head is a funny place sometimes. It is funny because in hindsight the events that happened in the past you completely regret happening the way that they did, but at the same time there are parts of them that you really enjoyed.

And this has got me thinking, thinking enough to get my laptop out typing, and typing enough to get me blogging. But I digress what I am pondering is why do we [sometimes] desire those things that are so wrong in life? Why do we desire to break rules and push boundaries? Why do we [sometimes] find sweetness in revenge?

You know we are meant to seek after the healthy things in life and find fruit and goodness in the light. But, sometimes the darkness can also bring (albeit temporary) satisfaction and enjoyment, sometimes even more so than doing the right thing.

And in all of this all I can keep playing over in my mind is The Prayer of St Patrick (The Breastplate – Lorica – of Saint Patrick, 5th Century):

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today
all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison,
against burning,
Against drowning,
against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Amen!

I’m in a cynical mood, just saying

So anyway after my crazy long blog post this afternoon I suddenly decide at 5.40pm to go and visit a church in the middle of the city, I pretty much picked up my keys, walked down the road, jumped on a train, off at the next stop, and then walked my way two blocks to find the church.

Outside the church the doors were closed, and while they were glass faced so you could see in there appeared to be no one in the foyer welcoming people or anything, this was 5 minutes before the service was due to start, and no people coming or going from the building. Thinking this was odd I walked past and quickly thought of my next plan of action for something to do. It was at this moment that I heard very loud crowd sounds coming from the nearby Hide Park.

I then wandered up to the park where as part of the St Patricks Day Celebrations a U2 Cover’s band was playing. And this is where things get weird. There were probably 20,000 people at this park listening to the band, possibly more. And you know what the songs of the lyrics were talking about everything that is wrong with the world, and people were singing along, they had their hands raised and were jumping up and down as well. It was at this moment cynically I thought to myself that this was a lot like church. Only the people weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit they were filled with too much Alcoholic Spirits. And later there were people who appeared to be overcome by the spirit but it was the spirit of alcohol that had caused them to collapse.

And the cynic in me goes why do we have magnificent church buildings where the doors are closed and you are just expected to somehow know how to get in, when you can get a much larger crowd by setting up a stage in a park, that is open and exposed to the world. What are we missing? I am sure the alcohol component has something to do with it, but if people are able to have a fun time on alcohol and desire it so much, then why isn’t it the same which church? Sure you have some people who are completely on fire for God but what about the rest. What are we missing?

And reading over this the cynic inside the cynic tells me that it is because there is too much arguing amongst church denominations and the like. Sure that is partly true. But that can’t be that much different than the difference between hip hop, classical, and alternative rock can it? I mean all of those genres all attract massive crowds and people long to attend live music gigs, but there is something about Sunday and church that just puts people off including myself. Just saying.

A theological dilemma

A few days ago I blogged on the struggle I was having finding a church that I fitted into (see Rebuilding Conservatism through Modern Churchanity).

Over the last few days I have continued to look at churches and there are two things that are really bugging me about modern churches: prosperity theology and social justice.

Now social justice is something I really believe in and have a real passion for, not just feeding and housing the homeless but also having an impact in the wider community amongst work mates, schools, social clubs etc. For me social justice is about Christians being out in the world as lighthouses amongst the darkness. John 13:35 (NIV) says “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

However, I am finding many churches who are so insular and cater for their own membership and do little for the wider community – or when they do it is through the indoctrination of specific religious beliefs upon people – and this is always bound to end up in massive controversy. Something that I always wonder is why can’t we just go out into the world and serve people first, show them the love of Christ rather than ram church down their throats and then “rescue them”?

Jesus didn’t go out into the world and say in order to be healed you have to first believe this and that and something else and attend church every Sunday, and the special program for people like you on every Tuesday night. No, instead he spoke to people and they were healed in fact sometimes he didn’t even speak to them he just told them to get up and walk. Sure after this they most likely believed but it seems the opposite of what a lot of churches are preaching whereby in order to be healed you must first believe. Surely God can heal those who don’t believe and through that healing they will believe?

Anyway I am already sidetracked; my main gripe/dilemma/issue rests with prosperity theology.

So what is prosperity theology? A really interesting article in Christianity Today puts it this way:

The teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.

There are a number of verses that are often used to back up this belief, in particular Malachi 3:10-12 (NIV):

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Now I certainly have no issue with giving to the church, however, the modern church is so focussed on a money tithe. It was not like that in the past, the reason why the verse says storehouse and not bank is because in the past the tithe was giving of what you actually produced – not just material wealth but also giving of time, and goods, etc.

Lots of modern churches have this focus on giving 10% of your financial income to the church. I whole heartedly disagree with this (and could spend a whole another blog post on this). I believe you should give to God and the church what God has placed on your heart to give. I may not agree with most of what the church I have been attending over the last few weeks but having said that when I got paid I gave what God placed on my heart to give. In addition to this I give to God through serving in other areas both within church and in the wider community (although not much at the moment until I find a new church and get settled).

Opps, I am off on a sidetrack again. Coming back to the idea of Prosperity Theology I fundamentally for a few key reasons:

First the lives of the apostles in the book of Acts certainly do not seem to agree with prosperity theology, in the healing of the crippled beggar in Acts 3:6 (NIV) Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” That verse has always spoken to me we don’t need material possessions to follow God, to heal people, or to do God’s work all we need is ourselves.

Jesus actually spoke in many places about the greed associated with building up massive amounts of wealth. And I could go on for many paragraphs about the love of money being the root of all evil and/or how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven. And I am certainly not saying that you can’t be rich or God can’t bless you, if your heart is in the right place then it is awesome that you have such a blessed life. But there is something that just seems so wrong about preaching that if you give more and more and more to God that you will get more and more and more back. If you don’t get more back does that mean you’re doing something wrong, or your faith is not strong enough?

Second, the book of Job is all about God letting terrible things happening to someone but their faith remaining strong the entire way through. Job didn’t give up just because he gave his whole to God and God didn’t bless him with abundant wealth instead he knew that the reward in heaven was so much more than what we can ever have on earth. (And I know this is a massive over simplification of the entire book).

In a more modern context I find Prosperity Theology not holding true in the whole situation with the poor starving kids in Africa. I say “poor starving kids” a little cynically not because that isn’t the situation but rather the constant pressure in advertising to give money and the problem with go away, that is not the case, sure money is needed to fund things, but more important is people on the ground giving their time and love.

But again coming back onto topic a lot of Christians in areas of the third world have a stronger faith than many Christians do in the restful west. If prosperity theology was so true then why don’t these people just have faith in God and through some miracle everything works out right for them? Africa remains one of those situations where I fail to understand why they get such a rough ride when in the west we get it so good yet we are quite often far worse sinners. And I know there are not degrees of sin, all sin is bad, but yeah it is something I have never quite understood form a spiritual point of view.

So coming back to the hunt for a church to call home, maybe I am being really picky, maybe I am being too religious, maybe I am too focused on doctrine then on God. But the real issue for me is I don’t want religion where God is effectively dead and ritual replaces any chance for the Holy Spirit to move. However, I really seek a place which is alive in passion and worship for God. I love loud modern church music and preaching that is relevant to today.

At the same time this often goes way to far where the music becomes more of a show than worship to God and the preaching crosses over from talking about God and the stories in the bible to instead using modern motivational speaking tricks to keep the audience interested and incorporates so much modern secular business style teaching that somewhere along the way it just becomes Church Inc. I really want something in between, something that is bible based, not steeped in tradition but has respect for it, and has a real passion for both social justice and community.

So far I have not found that in between anywhere near my new house. The question I am really pondering is do I continue to attend a church that I disagree with a core preaching and style of for the purpose of attending church until I either find a church near me that I agree with, or I find an effective way to get to the outer suburbs to attend churches that I do agree with and have a passion to attend? Do I continue to attend a church that I disagree with because the people and community is awesome and being in a new city friends are what I need most?

Is a suitable modern substitute for church: podcasts, worship music, bible reading and commentary, and small group discussions at university? How long can one grow with God and not lose faith with the absence of church, at the same time what if that church is destroying your faith? Can a church destroy faith?  These are all (and there are many more) questions that I am really struggling with at the moment.

As a side note a few years ago The Chaser did quite a funny satire piece on one particular modern church. Now before I get ravaged by people who attend this church note a few things: a) It is comedy, b) You should be able to laugh at yourself, c) If this is how the world really sees you then maybe it is time to consider ways to change that perspective, d) You can only be offended by something if you chose to be offended by it, e) I certainly do not agree with most of it.

Getting ATI Radeon HD Drivers to work in Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1

These instructions will hopefully help those who are testing the Beta over the next few days to get full hardware acceleration from their graphics cards.

These instructions are based off Ubuntu’s guide here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonHD and I can only comment on my set up, I cannot guarantee that they will work for anyone else.

Firstly make sure that you graphics card is not already working properly, in a terminal type:

glxinfo | grep “renderer string”

If you see “software rasterizing” as the output then the drivers are NOT working right, if you see something else then they most likely are.

First prepare your system for installing the new drivers, do this by removing the old drivers and making sure you have the right libraries installed:

sudo sh /usr/share/ati/fglrx-uninstall.sh

If the file cannot be found then it is good, just means the driver was never installed in the first place.

sudo apt-get purge xorg-driver-fglrx fglrx-amdcccle fglrx-kernel-source xorg-driver-fglrx-dev

Package not found errors here are also really good.

sudo apt-get --reinstall install libgl1-mesa-glx xserver-xorg-core

Make sure that the reinstall of these two packages completes properly. (Note: the reinstall flag has two – before it not one, some web browsers render the double dash as a single long dash).

Next you need to install a new Kernel, Ubuntu 10.04 will ship with 2.6.32 but at a minimum (at the moment) you need 2.6.33, this is simple to do though:

cd ~/

mkdir kerneldebs

cd kerneldebs/

wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v2.6.33/linux-headers-2.6.33-020633-generic_2.6.33-020633_amd64.deb http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v2.6.33/linux-headers-2.6.33-020633_2.6.33-020633_all.deb http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v2.6.33/linux-image-2.6.33-020633-generic_2.6.33-020633_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux*

Now reboot and make sure that you boot into the new kernel and not the old one.

Add the following address to your systems software sources:

ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa

Reload the sources list when prompted, then go to update manager, check for new updates, install all the new updates that are listed. Once installed reboot your system.

Now try “glxinfo | grep “renderer string” again and hopefully it will no longer display software raster and instead something a lot more promising.

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx First Impressions

Sometime in the next 24 hours Beta 1 of Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx will be released to the world. This version of Ubuntu is different from the previous few versions for two key reasons the first is that it is a long term support release and as such will be [hopefully] more stable and more complete than other versions over the past year. The second change is in the user interface with a step away from the established brown “human” theme to a new theme that looks very Mac OS like.

For the last two days I have been running the daily build of the AMD64 release candidate for 10.04 Beta 1. So far I am very impressed with it. For the past year I have been running 9.04 as the 9.10 release in October of last year broke support for my laptop’s wireless drivers and would cause frequent lock ups. I am pleased to report that those crashes are a thing of the past in 10.04.

The Good:

  • Fast boot. 9.04 was a massive improvement in boot time over 8.10 and I am surprised to see even more of an improvement in 10.04, from BIOS to logged in would be around 20 seconds.
  • Stable. Sometimes Beta and Test Releases of software are so buggy that they are not even able to be fully tested. So far I have hit a few minor problems but by far I am very impressed.
  • Smooth. The x64 version is very smooth at booting, opening and closing windows, applications, etc. The entire operating system runs quietly and quickly.

The Bad:

  • Crash errors that are almost as cryptic as Windows BSOD and illegal operations. I have had two programs crash and both times the crash errors are just strings of numbers or error codes with no meanings or descriptions. It is very hard to even supply information on a bug report when you have no idea what went wrong, one minute it was working the next it isn’t.

The Ugly:

  • Video Drivers. I am running an ATI Raedon HD Video card and there are no free or propriety video card drivers at the moment. This means that any 2d or 3d video rendering is done through MESA software rendering and is very ugly. I hope this will be sorted out in the final release (and the current bug where if you try to install the old fglrx library aptitude will try to remove ubuntu desktop).
  • Software Install. If you want to install Ubuntu (and community) released software this is a breeze through the Ubuntu Software Manager but the instant you want to install any other piece of software you will need to go through the whole process of getting the source code, resolving dependences, compiling through the terminal sorting out linking errors and a whole lot of other nasty mess.
  • User Experience. Despite the new version of Ubuntu looking very pretty and running very fast it still fails badly in terms of user experience for your average user. Ubuntu is meant to be linux for human beings but I am still finding it linux for those people who want linux to work and have some computing knowledge for how to fix things when they go wrong and also have a linux geek to really fix things when they completely corrupt. Until vendors start releasing fully stable and supported drivers for Linux and there is a software install process for third party applications that works nicely through a simple GUI and not old fashion command windows Ubuntu and Linux in general will continue to only attract nerds, geeks and people who like to break things. I like Ubuntu for its speed and ease of use in a office/development environment. But when I am at home on the weekend I live in Windows. Things just work in Windows – fonts render correctly, most software now plugs and plays correctly, most music and dvds will just play, software is simple to install etc. Now I do not want to start a paid vs free software argument but just because it is free should not mean you need a whole lot of computing knowledge to get your email every morning.

Rebuilding Conservatism through Modern Churchanity

Since moving to Sydney I have been struggling to find a home church that I fit into. I have spent countless hours looking at many church websites and reading their doctrines, lining them up to what I believe. Maybe I am doing this wrong but in the past I have had major falling outs with churches where I fundamentally disagree with something that is believed, taught, preached or made a rule of membership. So far the few churches that I would love to visit have been at least 20km to the west or north of the city and without a car I can’t make it to them.

Over the last five weeks I have been attending, with a group of friends, a very large and “modern” Pentecostal church. If I were five years younger I would probably have loved to attend the church but now I seem to be seeking something more “real”.

I use the term “real” with caution, but even in a modern church that has done away with all the church tradition there seems to be something very religious about following a perfectly timed script every Sunday that goes something along the lines of this:

  • A few minutes before the service dim the lights, add lots of artificial fog into the room, play a five minute video and light show to build the mood.
  • Start into worship with a roar and two songs that are so loud you can’t hear the lyrics, and can’t get over the “rock concert” like experience that is happening at the front of the church.
  • Do another two songs that are a lot slower and quieter (although they are still on the loud side).
  • Have a leader get up and welcome people to church, do prayer requests, show a video testimony, do the offering, show the church news.
  • Do preaching for about 30 minutes
  • Do a call for salvation
  • Final song

Sure most churches use a variation of that formula every week, but that is something I am grappling with. Why do we have to use that formula every single week?

I am not trying to say there is anything wrong with loud music, people jumping up and down, or any of the other stuff. Heck, at Parachute Festival I will be up the front in the middle of the moshpit even during the Sunday night worship.

And maybe I have just grown up so churched that now I am seeking something more. The church I was attending in Auckland for the last six years was something different. They were doing things differently. Sure there was plenty of Sundays were they followed the formula I have outlined above, but just as many would be different, say a Sunday where there is nothing but an piano, acoustic guitar and bongo hand drums on stage. Or a day where instead of doing “church” they would have a big meal as a church community or instead of preaching they would have a group of people sharing testimonies. It was church, but it was different church.

And that brings me to community, a church is a community of believers, but also a church should work in the community. I am finding a lot of churches are very inner focussed they will help those who are in “their” community but seem to be doing little in the wider community.

Throughout the last few weeks as I have questioned what I really believe and where I fit in I have also felt my conservatism rebuilding. It is interesting how attending a church with little in the way of church tradition has left me seeking church tradition. I don’t believe in religion, but I do believe in church heritage and it would be nice to have a mention of it currently being the season of lent and how that applies to our lives today (and I have to admit I am not doing anything for lent), or to do a communion one day. It seems to me that the “modern” church has done so much to attract those who got sick of church religion and as a result have nothing to do with the traditional church. Surely there is a balance somewhere in between?