Reading for Understanding

20120901-115108.jpg
When some read, their goal is to understand, while others want to invalidate that what they are reading is worth their time.

I get it, I do that with junk mail. Perhaps I would read through what i saw as junk mail, if there was a passionate person who really cared about it enough to discuss how it really changed their life in some way. I could be convinced they were worth listening to because they respect my opinion and my time. Respect is the great adaptor for challenging ideas and sharing knowledge. Without respect, ideas cannot pass effectively. The greatest respect is shown through a willingness to also have an interest and listen to my ideas or beliefs. So far, it seems junk mail is only a low cost way to mass market products and services for businesses. The motive seems pretty plain and simple.

There have, however, been passionate people who have come to my door and I do hear them out, and I let them keep coming to talk more and discuss their ideas. Eventually, their passions and motives are made plain and we have a sort of mutual respect for one another, even without agreeing about everything we believe. I am not threatened by hearing or reading about different beliefs and ideas, and I love being around others who have a similar confidence or curiosity about what others think and believe, and what their reasoning is to come to such a hope or certainty in their view.

I only hope to come across this way to those I write to online as well, because there is a sort of coldness to digital communication that many times is taken as disrespect or condescension. I aim to both love and to understand.

Votestarter

I am really impressed at how a small startup can grow and encourage the best ideas to come to fruition. The Internet is a great place to throw ideas out and see what has traction and connect the ideas to people who have means to make stuff happen.

I am less optimistic about the world of politics so far. Nobody in a democracy can agree about how goals are to be met, but everyone has an opinion about how best to get there. And none of the largest ideas can be completed without a majority of people contributing their taxes towards the goal.

But what if our democracy did not consist of people without skin in the game pontificating about how to spend other people’s money, or future money? What if we all voted with our tax dollars as a percentage of our work, time and effort, and not one dime was spent until the goal was virtually funded on paper? I get bombarded by ads and automated phone calls asking me to support or not support this measure or that measure, to generate funds by taxing some evil industry and set up a committee to manage the funds, etc.

What I would prefer would be a secure website where I could choose initiatives to build better transportation infrastructure or hire teachers or establish departments of whatever, and be shown what my total estimated tax bill would be in the following year. All of the priorities and interests of voters would be distilled into only support the programs that have enough support to be actually completed, and the great ideas that were too expensive would not come to pass, and the programs that are knowingly abused would cease to be supported by the general populous. A fourth branch of checks and balances would be set up for the people as individuals, also encouraging active participation in voting. This would not give people with more money more power necessarily in a democracy, but would prevent big expensive programs from starting without the actual means to be funded.

Kickstarter would never work if people could vote with fake money. Neither will our government.

Artistic Ministry

Would we recognize God’s speaking through people today in this way, or just dismiss it because it is not what we expect from Him?

“at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. [3] Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, [4] so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.”
-Isaiah 20:2-4 (NIV)

Get uncomfortable with this and then consider what the original creative mind of God would come up with to get your attention. What customs and traditions are you relying on for your comfort, but others use to dismiss your actions as false piety? We are made in the image of God, not the image of a parrot. Listen to Him and be creative, because He created first.

Ezra’s iPad App Overview

A friend of mine, Brennan McCurdy recently asked what must have apps I would recommend, since he just got an iPad 2 as a gift. My first thought was to update my profile on iusethis.com for those apps that I actually have installed and use. Sadly, iusethis.com does not have an easy way to scan and add iPad apps to my profile. They don’t even have an iPad section at all. So I opened iTunes and took a few screen shots of the apps I and my family have installed to date. I will start with universal apps, since they are the most convenient.

Universal* Apps

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/universal-iPad-apps-1-of-4.png

These are roughly in alphabetical order. You may notice many apps are free games installed by my wife for the kids that use her older iPad which has become a greasy child-fingerprinted game console, an educational tool and a cartoon-watching powerhouse. I will talk mostly about the ones I have installed on my iPad.

  • Adobe Ideas

This is free and is useful for creating color swatches from photos taken from the iPad camera or from your photo library for design projects and doodling in a vector based exportable format.

  • Amazon Mobile

Great to search for items to buy from Amazon.com and for general pricing research.

  • ATT’s Mark The Spot

If you have an ATT 3G iPad, you can use this app to report weak signal areas and make your neighborhood a priority for future service upgrades.

  • Boxcar

This app is a helper app that enables push notifications for other apps.

  • Dragon Dictation

A fun alternate way to enter text with your voice to be used to start an email, tweet, Facebook post or text message.

  • Find My iPhone

Essential way to track down a misplaced or stolen iOS device like an iPhone or iPad. Also useful to monitor the travel progress of other family members.

  • FTP on the Go Pro

Great tool for web developers to edit and upload files on an FTP server. I have published some basic web sites entirely from my iPad. See my basic site.

  • iMovie

Fun way to record video, edit it and publish immediately while on the go. Works great for making slideshows too from still in your photo library with audio from iTunes.

  • Instapaper

A great way to read articles sent to your Instapaper account from cluttered sites that would be too time consuming to read online. Synch online, read offline.

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/universal-iPad-apps-2-of-4.png

  • Box.net

I installed this because a client used it, but found the notification of when files were accessed useful in dealing with Design clients.

  • DropBox

An essential service for storing and keeping files up to date between devices. The app allows some offline access to synched favorite files also.

  • Emoji Free!

Installed only to unlock emoji icons, a texting feature added by Apple to add feature parity with popular Japanese cell phones. Many iOS users add this to make tweets festive, even though invisible to computers and other mobile devices.

  • GV Connect

An app interface for Google Voice, optimized for the iPad’s large display. Very useful to comfortably text two handed with others. Requires Boxcar for quick notifications while the app is closed.

  • iBooks

Apple’s own Reader for ePub documents and PDf files, which includes a book store.

  • iTeleport

One of my favorite tools to access and control my home computer remotely. Useful even while at home. Acts like a remote control if you use your mac as a media console for movies and music too.

  • Keynote

Build presentations with sophisticated animations and present on site with the iPad to VGA connector.

  • Kindle

Read and download purchased books from Amazon’s kindle store, a much larger repository of eBooks than Apple’s iBookstore.

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/universal-iPad-apps-3-of-4.png

  • MobileMe Gallery

View and share images published to your MobileMe Gallery and access shared galleries from friends that use MobileMe.

  • NewsRack

My RSS reader until I purchase Reeder, which I hear is highly recommended.

  • NIV Bible HD

My favorite app for searching, reading and sharing text from the NIV Bible. I bought the iPhone version, then the iPad version, and then they updated both versions to be universal, which annoyed me, but it is still a great value, especially if you don’t want to read a slow-loading online Bible.

  • Numbers

Great for editing and creating spreadsheets and importing and exporting Excel files sent by mail.

  • Pages

Create professional documents and send them as PDFs complete with text styles and image layout. I make invoices with it, mostly.

  • ProPresenter Remote

Useful to control a computer running Pro Presenter 4, maybe earlier versions too. sometimes I would hand it to my son to advance live song slides while I made last-minute edits to other presentation slides.

  • Remote

Control iTunes on your home network. Adjust volume and playback on music and movies.

  • Square

Accept Debit and Credit Card payments from customers with the free Square Reader headphone attachment.

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/universal-iPad-apps-4-of-4.png

  • MobileMe iDisk

Access files on your iDisk, assuming you have a paid MobileMe account.

  • Pandora

Stream music that Pandora thinks you will like. And listen to occasional short ads.

  • PlainText

A clean well designed text editor for plain-text files. Synchs with a folder on your DropBox account too. Better than the notes app.

  • PowerOne Financial Calculator

An iPad sized calculator with powerful free downloadable functions to calculate fancy things like mortgage payments and interest rates on loans.

  • Sign-N-Send Free

A free app that lets me take an emailed PDF form and fill it out, add my signature to it, then email it back.

  • Sound Hound

Listens to music playing, then tells you about the artist and title of the song, along with a few links to buy the track.

  • Twitter

A solid app to tweet and read your friend’s timelines with.

  • Weather+ Free

Find the weather forecast for one city at a time.

iPad Only Apps

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/iPad-only-apps-1-of-4.png

  • AIM For iPad

Send and receive instant messages with anyone still using this. Supports push notifications too. Very quick and responsive.

  • Clock Pro HD Free

A great big clock, nice looking too.

  • Craigslist Pro

Search craigslist.org and list items with photos right from your iPad. Way better than the regular site, optimized for the touch screen.

  • Flipboard

Browse News and Articles by topic. Unique interface.

  • Friendly for Facebook

Almost as reliable as the Facebook site. Free. Allows you to upload photos too.

  • Garage Band

Create eight track audio and play with smart instruments. send audio files by email or send them to a Mac for further editing.

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/iPad-only-apps-2-of-4.png

  • Brushes – iPad Edition

The most responsive painting app for digital artists.

  • Dictionary.com

Look up definitions. Whee!

  • Discover – Wikipedia

Great interface to the encyclopedic amount information on wikipedia.

  • eBay for iPad

Browse eBay listed items, and list your own stuff too.

  • GoodReader for iPad

The swiss army knife of file management. Also uncompresses zip files.

  • Inkpad

The best vector illustration app available for the iPad, from Steve Sprang, the creator of Brushes.

  • Omnifocus for iPad

The most powerful project and context based task manager. Great if you like David Allen’s popular book “Getting Things Done”

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/iPad-only-apps-3-of-4.png

  • Photogene for iPad

The best iPad Photo editor I have found. When you don’t want to publish your photo as it is. Essential for the relatively low quality iPad camera (especially in low light)

  • Writing Kit

Plain text and markdown editor that supports uploading images, researching and previewing written documents, as well as html export for stunning email, blogposts, and the web.

http://www.ezraengle.com/Images/iPad-only-apps-4-of-4.png

  • Scrabble

A game that is fun for people who like words.

Feel free to ask me about any of these apps. There are a few essential iPhone apps that I use in my iPad, and wish the developers would make an iPad version or universal version of, because it is not my preference to tap on the iPhone optimized keyboard, but it will have to do for now. One example of this is the app, Moneywell for iPhone, which has a great mac companion app it synchs with. I use it to manage budgets and all of the financial details of my business and family.

View all of the Universal apps* in one image

View all of the iPad specific apps in one image

* A Universal app is one that is designed to work on both the iPhone and iPad.

Note: The stuff below this line is an ad. My post actually ends here.

Unfinished Business

Original Drawing by Ezra Engle

This really bothers me. A guy that I knew asked me to draw something for him for a project he was working on. I told him I would do it for 2/3 of my normal rate, because he was a buddy of mine. Then, after a few revisions, when he was satisfied with the result, I invoiced him for the money, he said that he was going to pay me after his client paid him. Now, I didn’t sign up to be a partner in his business. I just was going to do something for him for a price that we agreed on and he’s been promising, then flaking on me for almost two years now. I don’t know what to do anymore. His client never payed him so he changed the terms on his own. I guess it was a lesson in life that some people won’t do what they say when things don’t work out for them. They pass on someone else’s flakiness and pretend like it doesn’t have anything to do with them. I think that if I were to want to have some sort of partnership where I shared in the risk with somebody else that was helping me out then I should also share the reward and not be saying here’s a flat rate for what you’re doing rather than a percentage of profits and explain the risk before hand. I don’t want this to happen again, because it turned a mutually respectful acquaintance into something like tense silence. I like to think that my relationships are worth more than that, and it is sad to see one sold so undervalued. I may need to request that a lawyer draw up some concise contracts for me to use in the future, because one day I may really need a paycheck to pay my bills and live on, and have contracts with higher stakes that I can’t afford to lose.

Back it Up

A Public Service Announcement:
There seems to be a lot of people I know who don’t understand how an iPod is supposed to work. Music is on your computer and a copy is on your iPod to playback. When your computer goes up in smoke and you have no backup, your music is gone. Reinstalling iTunes does not make your music reappear on a new computer. If you don’t have an external drive, get one. Copy your important photos and music to it. You will be glad you did when your system drive fails. They always do within five years. If your computer is three years old, you are on borrowed time.

Go Well

Please don’t ask the question, “What shall I watch next?”


When we are not inspired, challenged, driven or surprised, we seek diversion.
Many people seem to have a great desire to be entertained.
Entertainment is diversion without challenge.
Challenge is not encouraged often in television, because true challenge makes us turn off the television.
Entertainment has an element of surprise at times: in drama, comedy, horror, action, and almost every other genre.
Those who spend a lot of time engrossed in entertainment lose the experience of surprise and seek that experience with a continued, greater investment.
The entertainment industry capitalizes on this drive by offering more sets of channels to subscribe to and billed monthly for this ‘privilege’.
Entertainment is an imposter, attempting to compete with that which would satisfy our actual desires.
The most effective way to be inspired is through a mentoring relationship with a successful person who has accomplished an admirable feat or reached a worthy goal.
A great way to be challenged is to commit to a relationship that involves accountability to another who is stronger than us in an area of our own weakness.
One method to acquire drive is by learning to keep one’s commitments in an atmosphere of success and assured a future reward without immediate personal benefits.
Surprise occurs when we attempt things that we thought were not possible and achieve them or we witness a peer achieve them and can celebrate that in our community or group.
Without challenge to our habits or changes to our environment, surprise is unlikely.
Comfort is the enemy of satisfaction, and the friend of atrophy.
Rest is necessary, but should be earned with a continuing effort.
With wisdom, we must choose worthy endeavors and battles.
Assuming the battle is worth fighting, it is better to die in the heat of battle than to rest in the complacent coolness of peace.
Do not ask the question, “What shall I watch next?”, rather answer the question,
“Where should I go?” and wherever you do go; go well.

James Session Two

Had a great time tonight reading with Ben Parker, @kle & @Cat_Roberts and trying to plan for how to apply this verse:*

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
-James 1:27 (NIV)

I also learned that Ben’s mom, Kathy has started physically accepting the bone marrow transplant and working like we had hoped.

*This post is here because it started out as a tweet, but was impossible to do in 140 characters.

Deactivated

I called AT&T and switched off my iPhone 3G and put the sim card into my $12.99 Nokia phone the other day. I will be temporarily saving $30 per month on data this way. My iPhone will still be useful on Wifi until I get my stuff in order to sell it on eBay later this week. After using my wife’s iPad, I would rather pay $30 per month for the iPad than for data on my iPhone. The only iPhone complaints my wife and I have had were about the “Phone” functionality, no problems really with the “i” part of the product. I look forward to an iPad of my own later this year possibly, but my laptop could suffice pending some power solutions I have planned.
-Ezra