Prey

No that is not a typo in the title!

Just thought that you may be interested in a short story of recent events.

On Monday 11 June I drove to Kings Park and went off for my training run at about 6:15am. When I returned to the Corolla at about 7:00am the passenger window was broken and my work bag (containing my personal 15 ” MacBook Pro and other assorted gear including wallet) and my gym bag (containing work clothes etc) had been taken and the car rifled through. Subsequently we found out that we were not insured for this loss. :-(

On the laptop I had installed Find my iPhone/Mac (an Apple product) and Prey an open-source tracking program, which would activate the next time the laptop connected to the internet. For nearly 2 weeks the laptop was silent and we considered that someone knowledgeable had replaced the hard-drive or similar and that the laptop was lost.

Early on Monday 25 June as I was getting ready to run I started to receive emails on my phone from Prey that my laptop was on-line. I started communicating with the WA Police, however the original receiver of the call took info, but didn’t seem to grasp the data that I was giving her. As soon as I could I got into work where I could better access the internet and probe the data that I had. Surprisingly Prey had located the street address at which the WiFi signal which the laptop was connected to emanated from. (it even helpfully have me the maps and Google street-view image). Additionally it had fired up the webcam and taken pictures of the person using it and collected a wide range of forensic computer data.

I passed this information along to the Police and I was called back by an officer who seemed to know what was going on and I communicated with him and a Police Officer from Gosnells (near where the laptop was) a few times as they followed things up.
At 11am I received the following email from him

 Hi Darren

Just a quick email to let you know my colleagues at Gosnells have retrieved your laptop and arrested the Person of Interest. 1/C xxx xxxx will be in touch with you shortly. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the other property that was stolen was recovered but I dare say he will be able to advise you officially.

A good start to the week for a change!

Kind regards

 I subsequently spoke to the Gosnells officer and he said they went to the address I provided them with and asked the person who opened the door if this person (held up the photo Prey had captured) was there. He came to the door and they arrested him and retrieved my MacBook Pro! :-)

On the way home from work I stopped at Gosnells Police station and collected my laptop.

From receiving my first email from Prey to being advised of the successful outcome, 5 hours! Amazing. :-)

I pass this story along as if you have portable electronics, then the free, open source Prey software is very cheap (free) insurance, which in my case, proved successful!

(Of interest is that the Find my Mac/iPhone software did not activate at all during this time, so based on this evidence I would not rely on it for this sort of service.)
It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux and Ubuntu and whilst there are services for which you can pay, I was using the free version.

 

Black Friday for the Church techy

On Thursday in the US this week they celebrate Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally marked the beginning of the Christmas buying season and significant specials.

This has become known as Black Friday, because retailers return to the black in accounting terms!

But even on the other side of the Pacific Ocean we can benefit from these sales. Here is my quick summary of the special that I know of already:

I’ll keep updating as I become aware of other savings that may be of interest!

I’m a Guru

[tentblogger-vimeo 30082983?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"]

 

 

Rabbits and the gospel

I live in the hills east of Perth, where we have had our first ‘close to average’ winter rainfall in a number of years. As I head out for my morning run I have seen Rabbitlots of rabbits compared to previous years. The increased rainfall and consequent good feed growth has seen an explosion of rabbit population. I also haven’t seen any foxes lately (the rabbits major predator, and another introduced species to Australia), which will also have had a positive impact on Rabbit numbers.

As I was running along it got my mind thinking about how we as Christians blossom and prosper under certain conditions. In some places and times people have accepted the gospel when things are really good, but when the feed dries up and the foxes return, they are no where to be found. Others come to faith when life is extremely difficult and when there are no foxes and feed is plentiful, they return to their burrows.

We need to have faith for all seasons of life, good and bad, hard and easy. Faith that withstands the trials of life and serves as a witness to our companions on the journey of life.

As you journey this week, consider your faith, consider your life and look at how they are travelling.

iPhone apps for the church soundie

The smart phone revolution has enabled a lot of previously expensive tools to be recreated in software and made very affordable. As a member of the sound team at church there are a few apps which have become invaluable to me as I attempt to create a great sound on a Sunday.

SPL Meter iPhone app from Studio Six Digital

SPL Meter iPhone app from Studio Six Digital

Fortunately a number of them come from one company Studio Six Digital.

The first app that I will review is their SPL meter. SPL stands for Sound Pressure Level and is a way of measuring how loud you have the system running. This is particularly handy when people are saying that the music is too loud/too quiet, because you have an objective way of analyzing it and comparing it to a benchmark.

The SPL Meter iPhone app does this extremely well and even when compared to our expensive stand alone meter, the results are very comparable.

As you can see from the picture it resembles a traditional SPL meter with the added benefit of a small digital display as well. It is easy to use and like most iPhone apps, it just works.

So harness the power of your phone and pick up the SPL meter in the iTunes store.

YouVersion

Many people have been comparing Steve Jobs to Gutenberg and how his invention of the printing press changed how we access information. Jeff Jarvis was the first person who I heard say this and he presents some very valid points. However I was reading the YouVersion blog today and was caused to be deeply reflective on the impact that iOS

YouVersion on a range of mobile devices

YouVersion has made bible reading more accessable

devices have had on the core of my own Christian walk. Having YouVersion on my iPhone has been a revelation, having access to the bible at all times, add in the reading plans and I am in a better spiritual place than I have probably ever been.

Check out the full YouVersion blog post and let me know what you think in the comments.

 

The Death of a Titan

There is a scene early in the original Iron Man movie where they set the scene of who Tony Stark is. There is a line in there where the voice-over says (in reference to Howard Stark, Tony’s Father) “…then the death of a titan”.

It is this phrase that has resounded in my head since hearing the news yesterday of Steve Jobs death.

Steve Jobs on the front page of Apple.com

Apple.com remembers Steve Jobs

 

It is only recently that I have dipped my toes into the Apple universe, being brought up in a PC world, but my iPhone is my tool of choice for just about everything!

Steve will have a lasting impact on the tech and communications world.

He truly was a titan.

 

 

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls

First discovered over 60 years ago, five of  the Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online for your enjoyment.

image of the dead sea scrollsIn making these available now everyone has the opportunity to examine the oldest existing copies of some very important texts.

Five have so far been made available which include:

Great Isaiah Scroll
Temple Scroll
War Scroll
Community Rule Scroll
Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll

So why is this release so important, because unless you read Hebrew fluently (or at all really) then it’s interesting, but basically an uninterpretable artifact. It is important because it democratizes the original document. Given its fragile nature and significance it has only been available to a handful of scholars, but now, you and I can have a crack at it. The information in it is available and therefore no one can doubt its existence nor its content.
Now I just have to learn Hebrew……

 

How does this help the local church? 
By having the oldest existing copies of important biblical documents available for everyone to read, it assists people to be able to verify things for themselves. All our current versions/translations of the Bible, are just that, translations into English/modern languages. The Dead Sea Scrolls were copies as well, however they are the oldest original ones that we have available and therefore it allows people to check that what they are reading is true to the oldest versions that we have available.

Google+ your way to tech team meetings

If your volunteer tech team is anything close to average then getting them together for a catch-up is close to impossible.Google plus logo Enter Google+  and their hangout feature. A Google+ hangout is a multiple user video chat which simply works.

With Google+ coming out of field trial and now open to all users, most of your tech teach should have an account and if not it will only take a few moments for them to sign-up. Launch a hang out and up to 10 of your team can be in a meeting, easy as pie.

How does this help the local church?

Meetings and catch-ups are an important part of any team environment, and if it is really hard to catch up, then this may be an answer. A number of high-profile teams (YouVersion for example) use Google+ Hangouts heavily with their geographically distributed teams. You may find it useful for a range of other purposes as well.

Do you already use Google+ for team meetings, let us know how it is going in the comments below.