Sim Racing – 2014 Thrustmaster FSR World Championship

I’m really fascinated by this FSR World Championship sim racing series I just found. It’s a complete world series, complete with professional drivers and sponsorship, including call-by-call qualifying and racing. It caught be by surprise that we already have a fully virtualized, top-tier, professional sporting event that is a copy of a real word sporting event.

Is this the ultimate Christian love song?

Ever since I made a concerted effort to explore the Christian music scene, and discover the “good music” that I knew was out there, I’ve been aware of the controversy of Christian love songs. Controversy? Yes, in between the awkward attempts and lame lyrics, there were a number of good sounding attempts (for their time), but I found, like many, they played on sophomoric sleight of hand with ‘God is my girlfriend’ lyrics. There are Christian songs that appear to easily swap out “Jesus” for “girl”, and vice versa, without harming the content in anyway. And if the lyrics stand on their own, some are so ambiguous as to cast doubt on who exactly is the subject of the love. Astoundingly, for a faith that holds love as the highest ethic and motive, there are woefully few good Christian love songs. Now, however, I think I’ve found a truly exemplary one: And, if you’re reading a blog like this, I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably already love it, too.

Continue reading “Is this the ultimate Christian love song?”

New Year’s Eve 2012

Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever!
Psalms 106:1

Thank you, Lord, for this past year. I am amazed at Your goodness, your will for me, your blessings to me and opportunities to serve you.

You know I haven’t had the best of days
But I want to stop and thank you anyway

Cuz every single moment whether sleeping or awake
Is your creation
And what you’ve made is good
I don’t always thank you for the rough days and
The hard times in my life
Even though I should

It’s odd to come to this point in the year and be thinking about O.C. Supertone’s Jury Duty but that’s how I feel about this year, particularly the lyrics referring to being thankful for the “rough days and hard times.” Oddly enough, these feelings aren’t about screw ups, or what we often think of as punishment or God’s discipline, but instead it had to do with positive decisions on my part that are causing anguish for a time with the hope of long term reward. I did this knowingly, but it’s one thing to understand a thing in the mind, it’s another to execute and endure that thing in the flesh over a period of time.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalms 27:13-14

I will wait and trust in the Lord for his good plans because I know what He has planned for me exceeds my vain dreams and fantasies. I know this first hand.

One thing I have found invaluable this year is reading the scriptures. For the latter half of 2012 I started posting certain verses from my daily reading of the bible to Facebook. The reason I do this is because (1) I know God’s Word is living and active, and (2) I have always had difficulty describing just how brilliant the bible really is. So I decided to let God’s Word speak for itself since God has said it will not return empty. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of those who hear the Word and there will be results – I don’t have to dress up God’s Word.

Once again I think I’ll close with the words to Blessed Be Your Name as a reminder to myself to give thanks in all things,

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Selah.

Titanium vs Supafly

I’m not a frequent patron of clubs but apparently there’s a popular song making the rounds lately…

Titanium’s a great song, catchy, fantastic vocals, uplifting and inspiring, but I have a complaint: it’s wrong. It’s wrong in its statement and it’s wrong in its message.

It reminded me, by contrast, of a classic Thousand Foot Krutch song, Supafly…

While the former is a big club anthem hit, the latter is a small, eccentric, awkward, left field entry from a decidedly unmainstream and unhip Christian rock band – but Supafly gets it so right.

A few years ago, at one of our company’s Christmas parties, I was talking with two very pretty young ladies, who were the clubbing type, about their boyfriend woes and being unable to find a good man. I don’t know how wise I was then but I asked them a question, “Where do you find guys?” Clubs, was the answer, and I replied, “Well there’s your problem, what kind of guys are you expecting to find there?” There’s a lot of action at clubs and they’re going to attract most the type that are attracted to action for action’s sake. Somehow the conversation settled on recommendations from friends but, really, what I had in mind the whole time was this: the context of where you are defines the kind of people you’re going to meet.

I believed, and I still do, that the Christian has the foundation to truly love another person because they see them for who they really are – a soul, a spirit, God’s very own creation, His son or daughter.

But back to the songs in question. Listen to the lyrics of each. Titanium speaks of inner strength. Actually, more like an inner hardness – an unwillingness to admit personal hurt even if that’s what it actually is. Supafly, on the other hand, delves into the thoughts and actions of “dogs and cats” and, in what I consider its crowning and inspired insight, exposes the pretense,

You think ya somethin’ more ya so supafly,
To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside,
It’s hard for me to get this through to you,
To the fact ya blind, baby, blind, baby

To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside – that’s it. That’s it.

We like to think we’re strong. We like to think we’re invulnerable to the criticisms of others. We like to think a lot of things that aren’t true.

The truth is we’re weak. The truth is we’re broken and easily hurt. The truth is we try to hide the truth.

Supafly’s lyrics contain a reference to Psalms 34 that talks about our condition,

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalms 34:1-7, 15-20

We know that refuge is not found within ourselves. We might not know yet where help is, but God, who created Heaven and Earth, and knit you together in the womb, He’s calling to you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

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

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year! May your heart warm again to hope by the very sunshine shone forth only from the trust put in Jesus Christ, Saviour of your soul, God, Who knows the good plans He has for you!

Allow me to open 2012 with an old stand by, for the “old school Sanctus Real fans…”

Things were better last year. Things will be better this year.

Thank you, God, for blessing me, thank you for helping me be a blessing, thank you for changing me. You have shown your faithfulness in spite of my unfaithfulness. You have answered my prayers, you have carried me through, you have lead me and guided me according to your Will for me, revealing to me day by day your plans to bless me so incredibly. I am amazed that you care for the things that I care about. Forgive me for having such little faith. I believe, help my unbelief! Thank you for the sacrifice of Your Son on the cross for me, a sinner. May I ever more and ever better be Your servant.

Lord, you know my heart’s desire. Please bless me with opportunities to be a blessing, please bless me with courage and confidence to seize those opportunities, please bless me with Your creativity to create opportunities! I believe your best for me is yet in my future. This I know because I have seen Your great hand at work! I will wait on You, I will trust in You.

The Lord, God, He is Good. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Selah.

Beautiful Vistas Gone Bad in Lord of the Rings Online

Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) is a massively multiplayer online game based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. I started playing sometime in 2009 and was happy with the decent graphics but delighted by the beautiful artistry put into the game. The vast landscapes, in beautiful shades, crafted with majestic features, was pure enjoyment in itself. But something changed…

I can tell you exactly what changed down to the specific graphics options in the game and it’s very simple: Object Draw Distance and Landscape Draw Distance were nerfed.

I have a system that can push the game 50fps on maximum graphics settings.

For those familiar with LOTRO, I have two versions of each video, starting with Distant Imposters Off and the other version will be Distant Imposter On. Distant Imposters is a hack in the game to prevent having to render 3D object models after a certain distance away. You might expect if Distant Imposters were off that you would get 3D objects to your maximum view distance. This is not the case. Instead, what you get is no 3D objects after a certain distance. You get a barren wasteland of ugly.

In the video above, note how the forest below the player pops in bit by bit. It should already be loaded in from the top of the hill. Additionally, there’s a rocky hill on the right of the player, at the foot of the hill, in full-screen you can notice the muddy texture that should be hi-res. Yes, a hi-res texture does pop in – far too late.

Here’s the same video with Distant Imposters On. An improvement, but the pop-in is still completely jarring.

In this video, note the forest popping in out of nowhere as the player runs down into the little valley and then comes up on the side.

The same video with Distant Imposters On.

Watch the textures of the cliffs in the far background. They are horribly muddy. Watch as one section pops in to a new hi-res texture while the rest of the cliff, very nearby, still has lo-res textures. Brutal.

The same video with Distant Imposters On.

The problems shown in these videos are standard throughout Lord of the Rings Online.

My real issue with these graphics problems is that Lord of the Rings Online is such a beautiful game that it really takes you out of the immersion of the game. A large part of the enjoyment of the game is the beautiful vistas which have been ruined by these graphics changes. I thought I would get over it but every time I play I notice the problems.

So, dear Turbine, please reconsider what you’re doing to the graphics engine.

If you’re interested in more examples of these issues, see my youtube videos.

A Religious Experience

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; \ Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: \ For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; \ His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, \ On earth is not his equal.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a serious faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross but they know also that I haven’t regularly gone to church in a number of years. I don’t have anything against church. I’m sure my absence is due to a few psychological issues and not finding a church that “clicked.” Well, this past Sunday I attended Bayfair in Pickering for the second time in as many weeks. The praise and worship was good. The pastor turned out to be quite biblically sound and much deeper than I thought he was before. But what happened in the closing hymn was something that I have rarely felt.

The (very) young worship team leader introduced the hymn as a very old one, 500 years old “but still good”. That hymn was A Mighty Fortress is our God (lyrics; youtube). Surprisingly, the young worship team sang through all of the verses and delivered excellently. The result was two hundred or so believers singing powerful doctrine together in unity. You could sense something special was occurring right then and there.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Selah.

Acer Liquid E Review

For about 5 years now I’ve been using an old school Motorola V551 flip-phone. It worked as a phone, took a surprising amount of abuse, and didn’t do much else and didn’t do anything with any kind of style. So, I upgraded to the Acer Liquid E and I’ve been playing around with it for about a week now.

For about 5 years now I’ve been using an old school Motorola V551 flip-phone. It worked as a phone, took a surprising amount of abuse, and didn’t do much else and didn’t do anything with any kind of style. So, I upgraded to the Acer Liquid E and I’ve been playing around with it for about a week now.

The Acer Liquid E is a modern smart phone running the Google Android 2.1 mobile operating system. It has an underclocked CPU compared to other Android phones (1ghz reference specification compared to the E’s 768mhz) but, trust me, you’ll barely notice. And with Android 2.2 hopefully coming to the E (you better be listening Acer), it will increase performance even more. Even with the out of the box experience, this unit is very usable and enjoyable.

The Liquid E is an underrated phone, in my opinion, maybe because its predecessor wasn’t as polished and maybe because of the Acer name which isn’t a triple-A brand but, after researching a lot, I took the dive and I’m having a very pleasant time at a very affordable price (free when entering a contract).

Check out the Rogers Acer Liquid E unboxing video on YouTube.

The package comes with the phone itself, a little cloth pouch for the phone, a hands-free pair of headphones, a 2gb MicroSD card (nice throw in!), a standard USB cable (on both ends, I like that!), and manuals. Big thumbs up to Acer for using a cable with standard connectors on both ends! That’s one of my pet peeves about eletronic device these days. If they’re not standard and you need another cable for any reason, you’re screwed over and have to pay a hefty fee if you can even find it still.

The Android UI is slick. It also feels like the right operating system for a smart, intensively used mobile operating system. Multi-tasking, settings, flexible customization, etc, it’s usually all in there if you explore the menus enough.

Wifi usage is a breeze. When you see a network, that you can jump on, set it up the first time and whenever you’re back in that area, the unit will prefer that wifi network over the cellular network, saving your data plan. I have wifis saved for home, Home Depot, my dad’s house, and soon my work, and I’m sure I’ll have one at each family member’s house, church, and anywhere else I frequent. I like the operation of wifi usage on Android, it works very well.

Let me just say at this point that I really appreciate Acer not messing with Android too much. They have some apps but it doesn’t look like they strayed too far from the reference specification – this is a good thing. Thank you, Acer! It means you can go to other phones without it feeling like a completely different operating system.

Another bonus about Android phones is the transparent USB storage mode. Plug the standard USB cable into your computer and the Android phone pops up as a USB storage device. Brilliant. I can now manage the music on my phone like I want to and not tied down to any brutal software like iTunes.

Your stock applications are probably sufficient for most people but the Android Market is there any time. Installing and running apps from the Android Market is a breeze, very enjoyable and painless. The only downside is finding high quality apps. You’ll have to check ratings (you should probably only install 4 star ratings and above) and you should google around for the best apps.

Stock apps include YouTube, Gmail, a music player, camera, camcorder, messaging, and a whole slew of other apps. Rogers throws some of their own in and their My Rogers Account is actually not bad – although it requires you to be on the cellular network rather than wifi, but data is free for that app, so it’s okay.

Browsing the web is very usable and some of the features are really nice. The one feature I like is intelligent zooming of paragraphs. The browser doesn’t have to have a specially crafted page to be readable, just use the zoom icons and it will try to zoom in, usually successfully, on the actual content of a page, ensuring that menus, ads, and any other components are off screen so you can actually read quite well.

The E can handle a MicroSD card up to 32GB. That’s sweet and more than most people need. I’m one of those people that uses a lot of it for music so I picked up a 16GB and I’m doing fine. Speed of the microsd slot is quite good, no complaints.

As for apps, I’ve installed:

  • AcroBible Lite
  • Android System Info
  • Bible
  • StopWatch & Timer
  • Google Maps
  • My Rogers Acccount
  • OSMonitor
  • Shazam
  • TaskManager
  • Top application

One complaint I have about a lot of the free apps is the proliferation of ads. They take up a small portion of your screen. If an app is pittily and it’s available for free, let’s just leave it that way. The ads are a little annoying. But the apps are fully usable otherwise and the ads aren’t a problem. I just wish authors wouldn’t worry so much about it.

Battery life is good. Yesterday, my father and I were traipsing all over the city trying to get his Acer Liquid E and we were using my E the whole time with Google Maps. Just at the end of the day when I was nodding off to sleep, the battery started showing the orange caution highlight. Pretty good going for a whole day of pretty intense on/off usage.

Customizability is a big plus on this unit, as well. There are lots of settings to make it the way you want it. There are live backgrounds which are unique to Android (animated backgrounds, very impressive).

And, yes, talking on the E just for phone usage works fine. No complaints. Good voice quality, typical cellular delay (50ms-100ms? nothing unique about the E), operation is decent.

The Acer Liquid E is a great phone and it’s definitely underrated. I wouldn’t call it a top of the line phone but it’s not a low-end phone either, not by any means. I would actually say it’s upper-middle quality. This is a great phone, I’d recommend it to anyone.