From a Blackberry Curve to a Samsung Replenish

Earlier this summer I wrote a brief defense of my Blackberry. A couple of days ago I upgraded from it to a Samsung Replenish, an Android device with a full keyboard. This post is not a full review of the device, but I will say I really like it.

The Replenish uses Android, as I mentioned above. This has opened up the application floodgate for me. My favorites so far are the Kindle app and the ones for listening to NPR and Pandora. I have a nice collection of books (all free, so far) from Amazon on my device and am able to listen to news and music on my way to work. Very nice.

As a now-former Blackberry user one of the draws to this device was its format. It looks like a slightly stretched Blackberry. It’s just as well that I prefer using a keyboard, because the virtual keyboard on this device is just a bit too small for my adult man fingers.

A more complete review may eventually be forthcoming. For now, enjoy this video review of the Replenish from cnet:

In Chains: Freeing Girls from Slavery

Extreme poverty and sex trafficking seem to walk hand-in-hand. A new documentary project aims to shine a light on this problem as it exists in Nicaragua. Take a look at the video below, and consider supporting if you are able. At the very least, pray and watch for opportunities to help the cause of modern-day abolition.


See Also:

In Chains: The Art of Freeing Girls from Sexual Slavery (The Pangea Blog)

UPDATE: The webpage indicates that this project is now funded! (9/9/2011)

The Bottom Rung of Society

It continues to shock my sense of what’s real and tolerable in our world every time I see fresh photos from a dump somewhere in the world where people are not only looking for recycling, but actually eating garbage. This began for me around Christmas 2002 when I read an article in a Brazilian newspaper about a young man who got up early in the morning to scavenge in the local dump for the day’s food for his family. Whatever he found he gave to his mother before washing up and heading to his high school. This is life at the bottom rung of society for countless people around the globe. Then, a couple of years ago, I came across a video online by reporter Nicholas Kristof. In it we see the life of people living in a Cambodian dump. Kristof’s point in the video is that even a “sweat shop” is better than scavenging for a living in a fetid dump.

A year or so later (at least, that’s when I noticed), Trey Morgan started talking about the work of Marc and Terri Tindall in with the poor in Honduras. One of their projects involved taking food to the “dump people” once a week. From that was born an annual “Jesus Banquet” at the dump, an annual fund-raiser to finance the weekly food deliveries, and regular visits from teams down to Honduras to help out. Sustainable solutions, including a farm, are in the works.
About a month or so ago I finally watched an excellent documentary about people working in a Brazilian dump. Though their situations were not as extreme as those in Honduras, Cambodia and elsewhere, it is life in a dump nonetheless. Check out the trailer:
Finally, and more recently, I came across photographer Jose Ferreira’s pictures from a dump in Mozambique. Horrific. Click the picture below to see the most complete set from the series I’ve found online.


See Also:

UPDATE:

Here’s another post I came across, describing mission work with Roma people living at the margins in the midst of an informal trash heap: Hell on Earth and the Kingdom of God.

WordPress and StumbleUpon Make News

Just a couple of weeks ago at work we were discussing the format for share links, and someone commented that the StumbleUpon button should be replaced by a Google Plus share option. We all readily agreed. Apparently, we were wrong. According to StatCounter, StumbleUpon now accounts for more than 50% of all referral traffic from the top social media sites. Yikes! Where did that come from?


In slightly less surprising news last week, WordPress now powers 14.7% of the top million websites in the world.

So I guess the two things to definitely have online these days are a WordPress-powered site with a prominent StumbleUpon button!


See Also:
StumbleUpon Drives More Than 50% of Social Media Traffic [STATS] (Mashable)
State of the Word (WordPress News)
WordPress powers 14.7 per cent of the top million web sites (The H)

What is HOPE worldwide?

What is HOPE worldwide? Every so often I mention it on this blog, but perhaps you’ve never heard of it otherwise. consider this a brief introduction

To begin, here’s what the organization’s website says about its mission and vision:

Vision
HOPE worldwide’s vision is to bring hope and change the lives of the world’s most poor, sick and suffering.

Mission
HOPE worldwide is an international charity that changes lives by harnessing the compassion and commitment of dedicated staff and volunteers to deliver sustainable, high-impact, community-based services to the poor and needy.

History
HOPE worldwide was founded in response to the Scriptures, which call us to have the heart of Jesus by serving the poor and needy throughout the world. We began in 1991 with three small local programs. Today HOPE worldwide operates on every inhabited continent, serving more than one million people annually.

I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor. Psalm 140:12 NRSV

For a little history, check out this video:

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?                          Isaiah 58:6-7 NSRV

HOPE worldwide holds an annual “summit,” and this year marked the 20th anniversary. Have a look at the following video for more on that.

They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor,  which was actually what I was eager to do. Galatians 2:10 NRSV

Finally, here’s a copy of the most recent annual report from HOPE worldwide.

Looking for a Single-family Home to Rent in East Brunswick, NJ

What good is a blog if the blogger can’t use it for personal benefit…or at least make the attempt? As you can see in the title of this blog post, I’m looking for a good single-family home to rent in East Brunswick, NJ (or very nearby!).

Needed:

  • $1200 – $1400 range
  • 3 bedroom
  • Must be okay with pets (we have a cat)

If you or someone you know has a house to rent matching this general description, please let me know through the contact page as soon as possible.

Book Review: The Street Children of Brazil

Sarah de Carvalho’s book about rescuing children from the streets in Brazilian cities is one I wanted to like but struggled to read. Brazil is near and dear to my heart, as it’s where I served briefly as a missionary and is my wife and children’s home country. It is also a nation to which I have long sensed a strong calling to serve in the name of Christ, and to which I hope to return in not too many years. With that said, here are my two main difficulties with this book.

First, it’s a question of style. I really think Sarah was trying to say too much in this book. She told how she came to believe in Christ and then went to Brazil after a period of time, explained how Happy Child International got started and skimmed through the development of this organization and many of the struggles they faced. So far, so good. What was already a swift retelling of events became even more difficult to grip when the author began giving background on not one or two of the children, but on several of them. As a reader I found it incredibly challenging to keep track of who was who. It may have made more sense for her to have created a composite story of the “typical” street kid (telling us that this was what she was doing), and then have provided brief real-life vignettes of young people she encountered and helped.

Second, the theological viewpoint of the author is very clearly neo-Pentecostal, and this shows up not only in brief asides but as a key component in the story. Of course, Sarah is simply recounting her experiences and what she believed moved events forward, so she’s only being honest. At the same time, for those of us who don’t share her exact beliefs, what she has to say can at times seem quaint and seemingly breathless to downright annoying. In general, it’s distracting. This is a hard point for me to convey, as I in no way want to take away from the good work she and her organization continue to do.

Despite my criticisms of the style and theological perspective of this book, I would still recommend it to anyone with an interest in Brazil and poverty issues there. It should not be at the top of your reading list, but certainly deserves 5th or 6th place. At only 242 pages you certainly won’t lose any considerable amount of time reading it, and will come away from it better informed.

Online Resources for Learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript

Ever since I first took an interest in programming, web development and system administration (yes, I know, very distinct fields) I’ve been amazed at the wealth of good, free information available online to learn the skills necessary for these areas. Given the wealth of resources it can be difficult to sort through it all and narrow down a list of a few good ones to follow. The list I provide here is by no means exhaustive or presented as “the best,” but it will definitely get you started.

First, if you know nothing or next-to-nothing about web development, take a look at W3Schools. They have HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and other tutorials that take you step-by-step through the basics, even providing a “try it yourself” feature to test out what you’re learning in real time. (another great resource for “live” practice is the Real-time HTML Editor.

Second, if you’re ready to update to HTML5, check out Dive Into HTML5 by Mark Pilgrim.

Third, for JavaScript learning (outside of what W3Schools offers), Marijn Haverbeke created a website that is now also available as a book in print form, called Eloquent JavaScript. While you’re at it, you should take a look at Douglas Crockford’s talks on JavaScript from early 2010.

Like I said, there’s likely much more I should and could mention, but this will help you get going down the web development path. Most of all, be patient and persistent.

Recommended Podcast: Talk 2 Brazil

A couple of years ago I went looking online for podcasts dealing with Brazil. English or Portuguese, either one was fine. There was painfully little to be found, and the one podcast that seemed promising spent an entire episode complaining about the little annoyances in Brazil. As I recall, the big gripe in that one was not finding American-style cheddar cheese! Fortunately, there’s a better option available now: Talk 2 Brazil.

Talk to Brazil bills itself as “the World’s First and Only English Language RadioTalk Show on Business in Brazil.” Featured live on LA Talk Radio, this program is fortunately also available for download. The host, Tom Reaoch, is a consultant and speaker with many years of experience in business in Brazil, where he still lives.

If you are looking for interesting podcasts dealing with business and tech in Brazil, Talk 2 Brazil is a good place to start. It’s the best (and only!) I’ve found of the genre so far.