My Recommended WordPress Themes and Plugins

After having used WordPress for a number of years, I’ve really started to get into more plugins that help me present and share my content the way I want. I’ve also gone through some themes and picked one I like, including versions for desktop and mobile. Here’s my recommendations for WordPress themes and plugins…

Themes

Twenty Eleven

twentyeleven2Twenty Eleven is still my WordPress theme of choice. It’s feature-full, clean, elegant, and problem free from my experience.

Please note it’s not actively updated so you may need to Google around for fixes. For example, I wrote a post on how to fix the featured image that is buggy in the default Twenty Eleven theme.

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We have to go back

I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*

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Logitech G27 900 Degrees Steering Across Racing Games

Update 2015-03-22: Mind blowing update here for G27 owners! I’ve just come across a thread, via a question I posed on the iRacing forums, about how to reset the G27 wheel when it glitches in a session and feels like it goes back to the default 200deg rotation. A friendly iRacing member provided the link and…well you just have to go there yourself right now! Here’s what it boils down to: There are undocumented codes for the buttons on the shifter for setting degrees of rotation and one of them is the 900deg setting which you’ll need to reset to if the wheel happens to glitch. Here’s a pic from that thread to help explain:

G27_UDG_miniYou press 1+2 and then one of the T,S,O,X buttons. Here’s my take on what each does: 1+2+T=240deg, 1+2+S=450deg, 1+2+O=630deg, 1+2+X=900deg.I think what they were trying to accomplish is shortcuts for cars with different steering ratios like 240deg for open wheel cars, 450deg for GT cars, 630deg for drift cars, and 900deg for street cars.

Update 2014-08-03: Okay, while I’m not at the point where I want to research every car’s steering ratio, I might be okay with researching types of cars. :) Here’s what I want: I want to use 540 degree wheel rotation (ie. setup in Logitech Profiler) but I want to make it feel like sort of realistic in-game via the use of steering lock settings. For example, F1 steering (540 degrees-ish with 13:1 steering ratio) should feel dramatically more twitchy than a road sports car such as a Porsche(900 degrees-ish with 15:1 steering ratio). So, here’s the list of car types, their wheel rotation, steering ratio, and steering lock: Family: 1080deg wheel rotation, 20:1 ratio, 27 lock; Sports: 900deg wheel rotation, 15:1, 30 lock; Drift/Rally: 720deg wheel rotation, 15:1, 24 lock; GT/Touring: 540deg wheel rotation, 15:1 ratio, 18 lock; F1/Formula: 540deg wheel rotation, 13:1 ratio, 21 lock. For the 540s you have what you need but for the rest we’d need to calculate it: Check this chart (backup link) out instead, from a Live For Speed Forums thread, that lays them all out nicely.

Update 2014-07-26 – 3: Handy online tool for calculating steering locks from wheel rotation and steering ratios. Also, some good reading on wheel rotation/steering ratio/steering locks.

Update 2014-07-26 – 2: I prefer realism in sim racing when I can get it, but I’m also not yet at the point where I want to research every car’s wheel rotation and steering ratio just to set that up in game to get a realistic feel. So I’ve settled on a GT-style 540degree wheel rotation and 18degree steering lock for 15:1 steering ratio. iRacing appears to be the only game I have so far that automatically applies a 900degree setup to real-world wheel rotation and steering ratio in each car they have. For all other games you have to set it manually and often that means every time you get into a car you have to load your custom setup file. After googling a lot, I find most people are happy with a middle-ground GT-style 540degree wheel rotation with 15:1 steering ratio which needs an 18degree steering lock setup. This is a generalization, not all GT cars use those numbers, but what you get in the end is one wheel setup for all racing sims where you get a consistent car turn feel across different car types.

Update 2014-07-26: Understanding SimBin Steering Sensitivity: The following applies to RaceRoom Racing Experience, Race 07, GTR 2, and I assume all SimBin racing games. I finally understand what they’ve done with steering sensitivity. 50 is linear, but either side of 50 is not linear-but-different-ratio as I expected. I finally got it when I was really looking at the steering meter. If I turn the wheel 90deg three times it goes from nothing to full. At 50 each 90deg takes up the same amount of space – so each 90deg physical wheel turn actually represents 90deg virtual wheel turning (broken animations aside). But, at 100 the first 90deg takes up the most, the second 90deg takes up less, and the third 90deg takes up even less – so each 90deg physical wheel turn may not actually represent 90deg car turning. At 0 it’s the other way around. So I choose 50 for steering sensitivity in SimBin titles to ensure that all degree ranges on my wheel rotation act and feel the same way.

Update 2014-07-19: I finally got 900 degrees in Race 07. It is, in fact, the same method as RaceRoom Racing Experience (Set it in the Logitech Profiler and then set the Steering Lock in the Car Setup) but apparently the steering wheel animation won’t be correct if you do that. That would have been okay except there’s no default steering lock like RaceRoom Racing Experience has so you have to set it on every car. I guess that’s technically correct but more hassle than I wanted so I went back to Logitech Profiler default degrees for Race 07. I wish these games would just do the ‘auto-magic’ thing like iRacing does.

Update 2014-07-08: I finally got 900degrees in RaceRoom Racing Experience: (1) Set it in the Profiler, (2) set it in R3E under Vehicle Settings > Wheel Animation (remember this is only animation it has no effect on how it feels), (3) go in to Control > Advanced Settings and set Steering Lock between 28 and 32. You need to google about steering lock and the ratio between that and the rotational degrees of your steering device. I just found the 28-32 metric after reading some discussions. For 540 degrees I’ve seen recommendations of 18-22. I believe the same steering lock applies for Race 07 but I haven’t tried it yet.

Logitech G27 900 Degrees Steering Across Racing Games

race07-3I loved the way iRacing was so easy to setup for the 900 degree turning ability of the Logitech G27 so I tried RaceRoom Racing Experience and Race 07 and was very disappointed there was no way to get that linear steering working when the G27 was setup for 900 degrees. Well, it’s not a real fix, but it’s here’s a decent work-around…

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Nim’s Vintersaga (Nim’s Winter Tale)

Lower the lights this Christmas Eve, sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the magical world of Nim in his Winter Tale, Ola Schubert’s loving creation, complemented by an equally mesmerizing soundtrack.

My Mornings

Having just come back from PEI, I enjoyed waking up with Micah, my brother, and Lindsey and Arden, his wife and daughter, to sit out on the front porch, fresh roasted coffee in hand, overlooking his yard stretching down to a small bridge crossing a small river. While I was there, the bridge was under construction, making lots of noise, and, in spite of this, we would actually sit in the sun, watching and talking, for close to an hour each day.

My mornings here, in Ontario, on the other hand, are hectic, uncomfortable, and stressful. I usually wake up resentfully clinging to a few more moments rest. Then, I struggle dozily out of bed and down the stairs to the computer where I check email for about 10 minutes. I don’t have coffee or breakfast here. I save that to eat at work (usually just a bagel, anyway). I then start daily personal hygiene, like shaving my head and showering. Then, I head back up stairs to my room where I read my Bible for about 20 minutes, alternating Old and New Testament and either Psalms or Proverbs. Then, it’s off to work in Toronto traffic on the 401.

I’ve always said I enjoy the first few moments of the day at work when I just plop down in my seat and nothing’s begging to be done yet. Maybe that’s because it’s my least stressful part of the day…

Would I change things up to achieve mornings like those I had in PEI? Should I? I’m sure it’s not half as great as it seems as I didn’t have work on the horizon of my morning to bother me as I relaxed on the porch. I certainly couldn’t find the same job out there and I don’t think I’d be as satisfied with the work, itself. And what’s a morning, anyway, without people to spend it with? As surely I presently have no one to spend it with anyway.

I guess I will just keep doing my thing. I do have something in mind. I don’t intend to live without attempting to get to a better place. But, for now, I just need to trust God to walk me through.

Nim’s Vintersaga (Nim’s Winter Tale)

Continuing my yearly Christmas tradition, I present Ola Schubert’s hand-crafted, beautifully scored vignette, Nim’s Winter Tale. Gather family around this Christmas Eve, lower the lights, and enjoy a brief, magical glimpse of Nim’s wintry world.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre

Focus on the Family may be many things but I will always be impressed by the quality, competence and passion poured into the Radio Theatre presentations of each of the seven books in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

When the first movie came out, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, I felt quite let down as someone who cherishes the books. When I found the complete “audio book” set (ISBN 1-58997-299-6), around the same time, I was delighted to find out I was getting much more than I bargained for. These things are the next best things to the books and, in some ways, they surpass the books. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t just readings of the book: They’re full blown professionally narrated, professionally acted, theatrically scored “full cast dramas.” They are exceptional.

If you were wishing a little more magic from the books after all the years, you won’t be disappointed hearing Lucy, once again, delighted as only a child could be at discovering the magic on the other side of the wardrobe.

New Year’s Eve 2010

Goodbye, 2010, we hardly knew ye! Twenty-Ten has been a watershed year for me though I never really considered it like that before writing this. Many personally significant things have happened this year for me and I feel, perhaps, as if I am riding the crest of a wave, one which I’m both exhilarated to be on and also frightened I’ll either slip down the back side of or be let down as it fades. The one thing I will grab hold of is God and His promises and, by these, will I pray that, to face the future, I might become a Cannonball.

My mother passed on early this year. My dad’s mourning has turned to happiness and he will be getting married early 2011.¬† My brother had his first baby, the beautiful baby Arden. My sister’s family continues to grow and each of my nephews and nieces makes me proud.

My father moved out of his house and into a new place for him and his fiance. I moved out of my apartment, of two years, into his old place and, I must say, it’s nice to live in a house again!

Most strikingly, though, for me personally, I feel like I’ve finally emerged out of a three or four year “stop.” A “stop” is what I call it: A period of time where I just “stopped,” and tried to separate myself from pretty much everything, friends, family and, in some ways, my faith. These past few years have been a hard time. Both laborious and emotional.

During this time, I stopped reading my bible, started mixing secular music with my Christian collection, questioned a lot of things in the bible, and experimented somewhat with the world. None of it satisfied, of course, but count yourself lucky if you don’t go, in spite of all wisdom to the contrary, and try to see for yourself what all the non-hoopla is about.

Many years ago, being passionate in my faith, I started collecting Christian music. My friend, Jamie, and I found some amazing stuff. I even got some tunes I remember my brother and sister playing as kids and found out they were still pretty cool. You probably won’t understand it but I actually set out to “find the good music” and prove the Christian music scene had acts just as good as the mainstream. What I found was beyond any of the mainstream. It made the mainstream pale in comparison. I know and remember well it brought joy, delight and happiness cruising around with Jamie, in particular, cranking the “good music.”

You’ll better understand the next part now that I’ve told you about the music I used to love so much. Over time I started mixing Christian muic with secular. I love some of the mainstream stuff. Still do. I listen to music a lot, though, at work, in the car to and from work, to and from hockey and visits with friends up north. The problem with mainstream music is it’s about you and I, all the time, no breaks, ever. It became bitter to me. Very naturally, and without much fanfare, one day I just split up my collection into two folders, “christian” and “secular”, and my playlist has been “christian” ever since. That was a few months ago.

For some reason, that started a change. It made me want to get back into my faith. I can’t remember when but, I got a smart phone around August, and, suddenly, I saw a new and intriguing way to read the bible. I started reading.

I moved into my dad’s old place a few months ago which means I now have a 40 minute drive to/from work. Lots of people think that’s a drag. Turns out it’s brilliant for me. I listen to James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word on my way into work and Ravi Zacharias on the way home. Being under the Word each and every day is an amazing thing.

I need to recognize Creation.com, my passion for creation a gift from my late mother, I suppose. I have had an interest in Creation for a long time even before this year and I think I owe it to Creation Ministries International¬† (Creation.com) to recognize their contribution in effecting my life over the years. You see, Creation isn’t just about creation vs evolution: It’s about the very foundation of Christianity. God’s Word speaks to all the issues relevant in any given age and it is its first book that gives it the authority it needs to speak on those issues. The “young earth creationism” movement is about so much more than just saying the earth was created by God in six days. It’s the seabed foundation of the Christian faith and, without which, the entire faith breaks down into pointlessness. It is because of my reading of young earth creationism that I have an incredible trust in the reliability, authority and historicity of my bible. Do not dismiss creationism. Equip yourself and your friends and family with all that you need to know to be certain of your faith. Confidence in your God, His Word and your faith is there, you just need to go and get it.

I will also mention The Light, a Galaxie radio channel on my Rogers cable tv. They actually do tend to play a number of decent Christian artists and not just fluffy pop. Since moving into my dad’s old house The Light is usually on in the background and is always on when I go for a run on my treadmill.

As I write this, dc Talk’s My Will just started playing on The Light as I finished the last paragraph. Told ya they also play good stuff.

Twenty-Ten is fast closing and I can only thank God for his grace and mercy to me, a sinner, and His sacrifice of His Son on the cross for me. I thank Him for this year and for literally changing me. I pray continually that He will keep changing me still.

Thank you, God, for changing me. Thank you for this year. You already know my hope for next year. Please, may my hope be within your will.

Most people believe what they hear most

Readers will know I talk about creation and evolution quite a bit. I also read Slashdot.org, which is populated by large numbers of well educated individuals from which, it appears, most do not have a Christian faith or up-bringing. I’ve come to realize something in my back-and-forths on slashdot about creation and evolution: People believe what they hear most.

Readers will know I talk about creation and evolution quite a bit. I also read Slashdot, which is populated by large numbers of well educated individuals from which, it appears, most do not have a Christian faith or up-bringing. I’ve come to realize something in my back-and-forths on slashdot about creation and evolution: People believe what they hear most.

Evolution gets a huge amount of media coverage. It’s what everybody has been hearing about in classrooms, books, television, radio, music and movies for decades. Consider that one hundred to two hundred years ago, children were being brought up on the Genesis account of creation. They heard it at home. They heard it in school. They heard it in books. They heard it in church. You get the picture.¬† Atheists have long claimed Christians are unthinking believers – believing only what they have heard. And, you know, they’re probably right in a lot of cases, but, as it turns out, the shoe is on the other foot and what do we see? We see the exact same behaviour.

For the past hundred years or so, Christian families and up-bringings have been less and less the norm, evolution has been taught in our schools, it is taught in our books, movies, music, television, radio and in a myriad of other content. And look what has come of this? Most people doubt, at the very least, the Genesis creation account and, more than likely, just simply believe evolution.

The circle has come full turn and this is the final analysis: People believe what they hear most.

Don’t be one of those people. Read contrarian content. That’s right, read about evolution, read about scientology, read about Buddha, read the Qur’an.

God’s Word is not brittle, it will not fail you at the first mention of controversy. God made us after his own image, intelligent, made to reason and to comprehend. God is not scared that you will find the truth if you read Richard Dawkins or some evolution book. Christianity and its apologetics are stronger and more secure than they’ve ever been, and their information is quicker to access than ever before.

Remember your Christian guides, however, because you are a fallible, insecure human, just like all of us. Remember to pray, read your bible, maintain strong Christian friends, and remember resources like Creation.com.

Go forth, then, in the light and in the strength of the solid foundation of God’s Word and believe not what you hear most but believe instead what is true.

Morning for Mom

It’s been a week since mom left us. In a blur of hurry we made arrangements for visitation, reception and funeral. Two visitations on Sunday went by quicker than I thought they would. Monday’s service took a long time to approach but the day passed on in a rush. It is now a few days after the funeral. I’ll be going back to work Monday. My brother and sister have begun heading back into their lives. Dad will begin the time when it feels like there should be someone standing beside you, but you reach out and there is only empty air. I miss you mom.

It’s been a week since mom left us. In a blur of hurry we made arrangements for visitation, reception and funeral. Two visitations on Sunday went by quicker than I thought they would. Monday’s service took a long time to approach but the day passed on in a rush. It is now a few days after the funeral. I’ll be going back to work Monday. My brother and sister have begun heading back into their lives. Dad will begin the time when it feels like there should be someone standing beside you, but you reach out and there is only empty air. I miss you mom.

I don’t know how death and being lifted up to heaven works but I bet it probably works like sleeping. It doesn’t feel like any time has past. Mom will think she hasn’t lost any time at all and she’ll open her eyes and she’ll be greeted by the splendourous unknown.

Thus, our mourning is turned into morning for mom. And from that we who remain have reason to hold onto hope.