James MacDonald on the Signs of the Times

James MacDonald, of Walk in the Word, interrupted his usual preaching series to spend the past two weeks on a study of current events and the prophecies of the bible concerning the last days. With all that’s gone on this year, the Oregon community college mass shooting, Russia in Syria, ISIS torturing and executing Christians and others, the Ebola outbreak of 2014 which is still ongoing in some countries in West Africa, famine and drought in Ethiopia, earthquakes in Chile and all around the world, and wars and conflict around the world, and every tragic, sorry we hear on the nightly news–this was a very timely series to remind Christians we should not only be living in view of a a good Christian life but also in view of the time we have left.


Click to watch the video


Click to watch the video

The important thing to remember about doom’s day predictions is not that it’s supposed to happen on a given day, but that it’s going to happen any day, at any moment. Live then as if you were out of time and up for account, so that in any day, in any moment, you have encouraged yourself to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” -mjg/12

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Harper On Citizenship and The Potential Consequences for Cases like Khadr’s

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper sounded an unrepentant note Friday about his Conservative government’s failed efforts to keep former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr behind bars.

Harper not backing down on Omar Khadr: He ‘pled guilty to very grave crimes, including murder’

Harper’s desire to revoke citizenship for “convicted” terrorists appears to come from a reluctance to defend and rescue Canadians abroad like Omar Khadr, Maher Arar, and others, simply in order to avoid political snafus. This selfish, unloving, and reckless abandonment of responsibility for our own citizens is reprehensible. If Harper had his way, Khadr would have been lost with little chance of reform in the American military justice system. “Khadr, now 28, pleaded guilty in October 2010 before a widely discredited military commission to five war crimes — including murder in the death of Speer, a U.S. special forces soldier. He was 15 at the time of the incident…and human rights groups have long considered him a child soldier whose treatment violated international law.”

omarkhadr2_1280You can see what kind of person Omar Khadr is now and discover the man who has been fighting for his freedom for years in the CBC documentary “Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows“.


maher-ararAnd we should never forget Maher Arar, and others, who were tortured in foreign nations and we, in part, were the ones who sent them there.

Sim Racer Copa Petrobras de Marcas by Reiza on Steam

I just came across Reiza’s Copa Petrobas de Marcas on Steam today. It’s a full-fledged, free, Game Stock Car Extreme-based/rFactor-engine-based sim racing game simulating a championship experience, something like Sector 3 Studio’s RaceRoom’s DTM Experience. Here’s a taste from Empty Box:


Lac Témiscouata – Homage to a Lost Canadian Highway Rest Stop

This is a visual tribute to a picturesque Canadian rest stop along Autoroute 20 in Quebec Canada, overlooking Lake Témiscouata . Sadly, the rest stop was literally blown out of the hills surrounding the lake when the highway was divided around 2013 or 2014. As it has been a memorable stop on many family vacations and my own drives out east I wanted to provide a place online where others can remember the area. Enjoy the memories!

Do you have photos of the rest stop before it was taken out? Please contact me as I only have photos after the highway was divided.

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Space Efficient Mysqldump Backups Using Incremental Patches

Update 2015-08-18: Boy do I feel silly! It turns out there’s a much simpler and much more robust way of doing what I’ve done with the scripts below. It turns out that, using any revision control system (eg. cvs, git, svn) that stores revisions as deltas (and most if not all do), all you need to do is copy anything into a revision control repository and commit it. Tada! The rcs takes care of the incremental part for you by its use of revision deltas (ie. patches). As a big fan of git I was hoping there was a way for it to fill this role. I had mistakenly thought that git stores whole files without diffs/deltas for every revision. This is true until git garbage collects as I found out with my Stack Overflow question: Can git use patch/diff based storage? There’s some great reading there, check it out. Simply garbage collect after adding and committing in git and you automatically get space efficient incremental backups with the bonus of the robustness and reliability of git (or whatever rcs you choose). Bonus: You can delta anything you can store in an rcs repository meaning files, binary or text, archives, images, etc. You still get the space savings! So, quite literally, my database backup is now something like this: (1) mysql dump, (2) git add dump, (3) git commit dump, (4) git gc. Simple, powerful, elegant, beautiful. As it should be!

Space Efficient Mysqldump Backups Using Incremental Patches

I’m now using Duplicity for super convenient one-liner style incremental backup commands in a simple shell script (seriously, it’s like three commands long) but what I’m missing is incremental space-savings on my database dump. Right now my mysqldump produces about a 40MB file, about 10MB compressed. It’s irked me for some time that there’s no simple way to do intra-file incremental backups. I’ve also wanted to do intra-day, not just daily, backups. Duplicity’s incremental backups allow for that but full database backups add up quickly. Well, I finally went ahead and wrote a shell script to do it and a recover script that can recover to any date in the series of backups – just like duplicity. The key was interdiff for incremental patches. Here’s how I did it…

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Far Cry 4

Update 2015-09-05: I’ve been thinking about replaying Far Cry 4 lately after having finished the game a few weeks ago. The world is just so rich and beautiful that I wish I could go back in and experience it all over again, but I feel that I’ve already seen and done the vast majority of it. I googled around for replaying and came across some decent posts, like 5 Cool Things to do After Beating Far Cry 4 and Looking back: why it’s time to return to Far Cry 2. The second article is an interesting comparison against Far Cry 2 and where the author feels we’re really lacking with 3 and 4. I tend to agree. FC2 had its problems but it got some of the more important things right. By the way, I still absolutely recommend Far Cry 4 Enhanced, a great modification allows you to play the game at a much more visceral level to get the most out of the experience. If you’ve played through Far Cry 4 once without this mod you’ll have a great time playing through again with the mod.

Update 2015-09-05 (2): Added Replay section.

Far Cry 4

I’ve just finished Far Cry 4 and, I have to say, while Ubisoft has done a lot to hurt its reputation in the past few years, the Far Cry series are consistent better-than-expected entries in their portfolio. I’ll say here and now that Far Cry 2, 3, and 4 are the best exploration games you can play these days.


farcry4-2bWhile games like Skyrim or Witcher offer massive worlds, they tend to have that RPG-style, clunky, tick-tock-based combat that really brakes the fluidity of the game. It’s a pleasure to play in a massive world like Far Cry offers with all the fluidity of a real-time FPS.

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How to Track Your Workout at the Gym as an Absolute Beginner

I started working out this spring for the first time at my local Good Life and one of the first things I knew I wanted to do was to know when I could ramp up my sets and reps. I’m a big user of the Apple iPhone Reminders app so I figured I’d put it to good use recording my workout:


But why track your workout like this? Because working out is a long-term activity. Tracking your stats in a simple, easy way like this will help remind you where you’ve been, where you’ve gotten to, and provide a clear path of improvement so you’ll be on an upward workout trend and not plateaued or even going down (how would you know without tracking)? You’ll feel good about continuous improvement and more confident because you know where you’ve come from and where you’re going.  I think most people would find tracking their workout tedious on paper or they just don’t know what workout app to use, etc. So I figured I show how it can be done with an app that most people have already.

So, what you have above is a Gym tab in the Reminders app and I simply list all my exercises in the order that I do them. I also record any pertinent settings for the machine (like Level 12 and target heart rate 150 for the bicycle). Then I record the sets and reps (“10,10,10,10” – ie. 4 sets of 10 reps each). I record the workout count (“x4”) meaning how many times I’ve done it (usually indicates once per workout). I also record the weight.

See how compact and easy it is to review your current workout when you record it like that? And it’s in the Reminders app that I use for everything else so it’s easy and convenient to use.

For the record: I’m not a licensed gym trainer, physiotherapist or doctor. The ideas in this post are from my personal experience and I hope they can help some beginners as well.

Following I’ve included some personal thoughts, recommendations and anecdotes about my experience at the gym since I’ve started. I hope it helps someone out there get started as well!

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Silver Chair

Silver Chair,
how I hate you!
You’re always there, lurking,
at the end of every good thing!
(Stealing away every pleasure!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your lies!
You tell me all this wasn’t,
while all the while I know it was! It was!
(You took it away!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lured and trapped,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
how I hate your words!
You speak to me of dos and donts,
but I know of your weels and your wonts!
(Cast it to the ground!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your angles!
You make meaningless my pleasure
and you show me my measure!
(Burn bright to the ground!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lurid and tainted,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
trouble me no more!
You’re gone within minutes,
why should I care.
(Why do you care?)

Silver Chair,
how I hate what you show!
You show me what’s ugly…
you show me myself.
(Don’t show me myself.)

Temptation, come my way.
Bruised and broken,
sheep to the shear.

Silver Chair,
don’t leave me here!
You’re already gone,
you’ve left me alone.
(Don’t leave me alone.)

Silver Chair,
why did you go?
I want what you do.
Clarity. You do clarity.
(Clearly. You show me clearly.)

Temptation, go away.
Broken and beaten,
crushed underfoot.

Silver Chair,
you bring me clarity.
You put everything in its place.
All weights are set correct.
(Gravity sets all a’right.)

Silver Chair!
Reflector of my heart!
Don’t go!
You’re gone.
(I want to go with you.)

Temptation, get behind me!
Beaten and lost,
crushed under your foot!

Silver Chair,
you were never the thing were you?
You cleared the air, brought sanity to madness,
so I could find myself clearly.
(Clearly. So I could find You clearly.)

have mercy on me,
a sinner!


Duplicity – Pleasure and Simplicity in Your Backups

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a long time, in many different configurations, trying to come up with a simple yet flexible, easy to use yet space efficient backup solution for a long, long time. Well, I think I’ve finally jumped ship from shell scripts and tarballs to duplicity: bandwidth-efficient backup using the rsync algorithm. Although duplicity talks up encryption, and it’s great and makes it easy, it’s not required and I don’t use it. Here’s some tips and tricks to get you started…

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SimXperience AccuForce Pro Steering System

Update 2015-09-25 – 6: My latest SimCommander settings for R3E:

sc-r3e-2 sc-r3e



And for R3E in-game:

RRRE 2015-09-25 23-49-00-52 RRRE 2015-09-25 22-57-04-73 RRRE 2015-09-25 22-57-08-21



Update 2015-09-25 – 6: A note on dialing in range settings. I’ve mentioned it before but I think I’ll mention it again. When I come up with settings within a range (ex. Smoothing 5% where the range is 0% to 100%) I do a binary search by hand. Put simply, a binary search is starting at one extreme, adding or subtracting half the range, and then adding or subtracting half again, based on preference, and repeating this process until you find an optimal value. For example, with Damping I went from 0% to 100% to try the extremes, then 50% because it was too high, then 25%, then 12%, then 6%, all based on preference. So, put in the setting, run a lap and, if it feels too much lower the value or if it doesn’t feel enough raise the value.

Update 2015-09-25 – 5: I’ve been playing around with Smoothing (5%), Damper (6%) and Friction (6%). Smoothing was at 25% before and it was taking a little bit of definition out of the ffb so I put in just 5%. Damper was at 0% before and it tends to simply dampen all forces (sort of make them slower) and I found more dampening helped me catch sliding backends. Friction was at 0% before and it applies a resistance to the strength you put into turning the wheel. I found in slides or losing grip that something felt off, it was too easy to swing the wheel back and that caused me to misjudge how I correct a slide. Turning up friction to 6% (after trying a binary search) helped me just a little better about how to correct my steering in those scenarios.

Update 2015-09-25 – 4: Even though R3E doesn’t officially support the wheel yet I find I’m finally getting to like the AccuForce FFB results after a lot tweaking (see the updates below from the last few days). The only thing really bugging me right now is the boat-like swaying motion on straights (“floaty” steering feel near center) and also the awkward steering feel when your backend flies out and you need to counter-steering. Something’s still not right there. But, hey, things are feeling pretty enjoyable.

Update 2015-09-25 – 3: I experimented in R3E with Steering Rack FFB. I was used to 0% (ie. all forces from tires as opposed to steering rack) so I flipped it 100% (ie. all forces from steering rack as opposed to tires) and I noticed a more “gradual” or “analog” rise and fall as I mounted and dismounted kerbs. I quite like the extra information so I’ve currently settled on Steering Rack 50% (ie. half of all forces from tires and half of all forces from steering rack).

Update 2015-09-25: Tweaked R3E Steering Force Intensity and Understeer as I put in more seat time and learn what I like.

Update 2015-09-17: Added force feedback settings for RaceRoom Racing Experience. Basically I reset the SimCommander Profile and then set Steering Force Intensity 70% 50% and Understeer 25% 20%. That’s all I’ve done so far.

Update 2015-09-15: Having problems with Sim Commander crashing after launching games or the in-game overlay not showing in some games like RaceRoom Racing Experience? Power cycle your AccuForce and it should come back. I knew this trick since I ran into a bug when I first got the wheel where the computer wouldn’t even boot with the AccuForce on. Since then I must have gotten into the habit of turning the AccuForce on shortly after booting and that was causing problems. If I only power on the AccuForce after logging in then RaceRoom appears to work flawlessly and I don’t need to power cycle.

Update 2015-07-30: Check this very helpful and informative post on tuning the Accuforce Pro: AccuForce Settings For Dummies.

Update 2015-06-03: Added RaceRoom Racing Experience after 2015-06-02 Update section.

Update 2015-06-01: Added Auto-Tuning with SimCommander Software section. Recommended read for AccuForce owners: AccuForce Tuning Feedback Test. This is a thread Berney of SimXperience created after the Sim Racing Garage head-to-head video, mentioned below, attempting to provide collect some user experiences and determine what kind of changes could be made to the wheel to improve feel for sim racers (who may have different force feedback tastes than real-life race drivers).

Update 2015-06-01: Barry, from Sim Racing Garage, has release a head-to-head comparison of the Accuforce Pro, Bodnar, and OSW wheels. It has highlighted some nagging concerns I’ve had ever since I’ve been playing with the wheel. Before we go any further, don’t think for a moment I’m saying the Accuforce is not a good wheel. It’s a professional, supported, warrantied, complete package, direct-drive, very strong wheel, with good force feedback and excellent tuning options. It’s a great wheel and at a competitive price. What I will say though is that the forces are not coming through as much as I’d like. For example, one reviewer in the video mentioned how it was difficult to tell the different between a slide through grass and the moment it hit the pavement during the slide. The AF wasn’t communicating that well. Other examples include strong cornering forces washing out road feel, or banking or kerb forces not feeling as defined as the other wheels. On the SimXperience forums, Berney (of SimX), has said he’ll be thinking about pushing out wheel updates to work on the comments the reviewers had in the videos. I look forward to trying those updates.

Update 2015-05-21: Added iRacing Settings, RaceRoom Racing Experience Settings

Update 2015-05-19: Added Setup, First Impressions, First Driving Experience, G27 Thoughts, Resources

accuforce2I’ve recently received my SimXperience AccuForce Pro and have been enjoying it for the past week. I’ve only owned one other force feedback wheel, a Logitech G27, and this is, of course, leaps and bounds beyond a G27. There is ample power and tuning options to provide the flexibility sim racers really want to ensure the best and most realistic experience while driving.

I’ll be posting my initial thoughts, my driving and tuning experiences, and providing tips and tricks for various facets of the wheel, it’s tuning software, and for the various sim titles I play.

I’ll be writing this post in parts and updating new sections as I have time and learn new things about the wheel!


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