Archives for category: tech

… we salute you!

These days, USB drives are offered with ever-larger capacities at lower & lower prices.  So, other than competing with rock bottom pricing, how can a tech company differentiate itself from the rest of the field?  Gang signs and devil horns, of course!

See the images below for the Hand USB sticks a company called Sirtified will be releasing in February [h/t: Engadget]:

When the USB sticks are plugged in, they remind me a little bit of the Wicked Witch of the East getting crushed by Dorothy’s house.

I guess nothing says, “I might look like a working stiff transporting my data from a regional quarterly sales meeting in Dayton, Ohio but, deep down, I roll on the westsiiiiieeeede” like this blue model.

For adventure seekers who are not afraid of being decapitated by their own recreational device, the good people of Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana have just the product for you — your very own personal rocket-powered helicopter backpack! [h/t: Engadget] Perhaps this helicopter backpack will revolutionize personal transportation the way the Segway was supposed to (never get stuck in rush hour again! almost lose your noggin every time!) — although it might be harder to customize your copter-pack, like this Segway with spinners.

And, if you ever have the cash to show Bill Gates who’s boss, then you might consider purchasing this $2 billion home [h/t: Gizmodo]. Does a person really need a 22-story home with 400,000 square feet of interior space? I guess there’s a certain madness that sets in when a person’s net worth hits ten or eleven digits. But, if each floor of this home were equally divided in worth, then just giving up one floor would be the equivalent of sponsoring almost 3 million World Vision kids for a year.

Being in town meant that I would not be missing our Sunday at church. While there is a definite downside to not getting away for the weekend, I could sense how God was using the words spoken through Francis Chan and Doug Fields to enlarge my heart further for my students. Maybe it was nothing revolutionary for them — I’m sure I still managed to lull them to sleep during the sermon today — but I’m praying that, by the grace of God, my love and prayers for them would ever increase.

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After a full day at church, I hustled over to the Town & Country and caught the Q+A part of Shane Hipps’ first seminar. I chatted briefly with him and wandered with him over to his next seminar (which turned out to be a good thing, because I never would have found the seminar room on my own. I’m really bad with maps and have managed to get lost several times this weekend) which expanded on several of the ideas in his book The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, which I highly recommend.

One of the most important things Shane discussed was the oft-referenced idea, “The methods change but the Message stays the same.” This speaks to our efforts to adapt new ways of bringing the timeless, eternal Truth of the Gospel to different peoples and cultures. Unfortunately, though the sentiment is sincere and well-intentioned, it is also false.

As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” Shane did a fantastic presentation of McLuhan’s life, thoughts on media and the future and how this impacts us as followers of Christ. We must be clear-eyed about the ways in which the media we use — and not only Media Shout or MySpace — fundamentally alters the message we are trying to convey. I saw this illustrated at every general session — although I was often sitting only several yards from the speaker, I found myself (and saw most of those around me) watching the giant screens rather than the actual person in front of us. Shane gave a great quote about this: The screen always wins — it’s almost a creepy, bizarro take on “Love Wins” but it’s so true.

Although this seminar was very much about our current media culture, Shane was really addressing worldviews. And, even to take a step back further from that, Shane was addressing the forces at work that shape our worldview. Another McLuhan quote is helpful here: “We become what we behold.”

The printing press ushered in an age of linear, sequential, uniform, repeatable thinking as normative. And, in the modern world, we find this repeated in unexpected places — from the assembly line of cars and cookies, to the orderly, linear pews in our churches, to reducing the entirety of the Gospel into a sequential formula (e.g., Repentance of sins + Acceptance of Christ = Salvation to heaven).

However, the world in which we live changed long before the advent of the internet. Shane argues that the invention of the telegraph, photograph and radio began a dramatic shift in how we see the world. The telegraph, or “Victorian Internet,” broke the relationship between transportation and communication. The photograph recalls the stained glass of the Middle Ages — consider the difference between seeing the printed words, “The boy is sad” versus this photograph of a sad boy. The words are rational, linear and left-brained; the photo is intuitive, non-linear, right-brained — qualities that describe the shift toward postmodernism.

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I will interact more in the future with some of these thoughts. Shane’s seminar today triggered quite a few thoughts that I’d like to work through — especially regarding the built-in fluidity and ability of Asian Americans to navigate between and through different cultures. He was extremely gracious in fielding all manner of questions, and taking time out to chat with me a bit before leaving to catch his flight. It was interesting to listen to the line of questions that people raised afterward — questions about doctrine, defending our faith and jumping straight to the “take-home” revealed their linear, sequential, rationalistic mindset.

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I’m getting packed up just in case we need to clear out of here because of the wildfires raging around here. Please keep us in prayer.

According to this article, the vending industry earns around $30 billion annually. While most of this money comes in fifty cent increments on items like Doritos and Diet Coke, there is a growing segment of hi-tech, upscale gadget vending machines. I ran across the iPod vending machine pictured above at DFW.

Stores like Bed Bath and Beyond often put impulse purchase items near the checkout so that consumers leave the store not only with the spatula or towel they originally intended to purchase, but also with a three pound jug of Swedish Fish and a four-pack of Stick Up Bulbs. Marketers have long-realized that by placing the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs at eye-level for most seven year old children in the cereal aisle of grocery stores, they can initiate more emotional meltdowns (“But I neeeed it!”) and, thus, increase sales.

At first, I was strangely amused by the iPod vending machine. Does it come charged? Where would a person purchase songs for it, if the intent is to listen to it during an impending flight? Upon further reflection, there is something troubling about how easy it would be to drop $300 onto your credit card with one quick swipe. Of course, many travelers probably can afford to make such a large impulse purchase, and it is not the responsibility of vending machine companies to ensure that consumers spend their money in a responsible manner. But, still, do we need to feed our instant-gratification mindset anymore than we already do?

The process of spiritual formation is inherently, often frustratingly, slow. As much as we would like it to be true, we cannot simply swipe a couple of prayers through a spiritual card-reader and expect abundant life to be delivered via some mechanical arm into our outstretched hands. To paraphrase something I read once, we should not be surprised when people in our churches are self-centered and selfish when we advertise that we exist to meet all their needs. I certainly believe that people should find friendship, community, comfort, healing and love in church. But it is in that strange paradox of living by dying, gaining by giving, that we find what we truly need.

I am only a wannabe tech-nerd, and a relatively recent Mac convert, but man — the iPhone looks pretty amazing!  When I heard the original announcement about the iPhone I thought, Big deal — a wireless phone that plays songs.  Isn’t that the deal with most cell phones these days?  And the price — sheesh!  If I could find any in stock, I could buy two Wii systems for this five hundred dollar price tag.  But then I watched this video introducing all of the features of the iPhone — all twenty minutes of it (I think I just broke through to a new level of nerditude).  And now I’m mad at Apple because it feels like this cursed iPhone is now an indispensable part of a happy future for me.

I realize that I will never need, or use, most of the features included on this phone (I have no stocks to check on, no need for merging someone from call waiting into my current conversation, etc.) but that will not stop me from obsessing over this blasted device.  Think of all the YouTube videos I could forward, and with such ease!  I can zoom in on my photo collection just by spreading out two fingers over the image?  Sign me up!  It’s even better than Conan imagined…