Visit to Ammunition Hill Museum

Went with a bunch of people to Ammunition Hill museum as it was my birthday yesterday .

This museum is here to show the Six day War the was fought in 1967 against Jordan, Syria and Egypt which resulted in Israel getting back control of Jerusalem.  This site gives a good outline

War trenches

Futurliner rare bus/truck used by US Christian ministry

As I like old cars and I service equipment and resources for Christian organisations, this article today I thought was interesting, an unusual bus owned by evangelist Oral Roberts for a travelling ministry.

Far from being an extravagance which some famous TV preachers have been accused of in the past, this type of transport make sense as a mobile office and somewhere to sleep for anyone working on the road, just like actors on a remote movie set or funfair or circus operators.

This site also shows restoration of these rare beasts.   I particularly like the high up aircraft cockpit driving position, I wonder how practical it is for every driving.  I have never seen these before, I guess they are a reminder when the American automotive industry was a world away from the depressing 201xs and at its very peak during the 1950s and higher price exotic vehicles with brands like Cadillac were booming.  I am assuming these bespoke vehicles built to to the customer’s own specification.  I guess that why the Wiki article on this unusual ultra rare behemoth camper shows only 12 produced and one sold recently for a cool $4m.

In Sepia: Holyland pictures collection part 1

Part 1234 5 6 7

I sometimes pretend to be creative.   Here are some pictures I have done of various parts of the holyland, I have dressed up a bit with sepia and some extra effects.  These are you to enjoy, download them, use them as backdrop for your computer or for any private purposes.

I have listed four today.   A few more will be regularly posted every now and then, so keep this site in your browser favourites.

If you wish to have copies without the branding for private or commercial use, you may do so, please contact me, I would like to ask for a donation as I am volunteering for a charity.  Note, don’t just nab them and use them commercially or cut the edges off, if you do, I reserve the right to expose and make fun of you.   So there. 🙂

Seriously though, a financial gift of some kind would go a long way to help me here as I do volunteer IT work here in Jerusalem.   I am looking at the possibly of after coming home for Christmas, of coming back from January to April-ish.   For this I need to raise at least £500 for flights and health insurance.   Any ideas for fund raising would be greatly appreciated.

Part 1234 5 6 7

praying with a genuine heart or as a Pharisee

Read something interesting this week that asks Christians who are critical of Obama’s administration.  It may be about the Middle East conflict, the NY mosque or overhaul of the US healthcare system.

Obama has been rumoured to have Muslim background, as there is some uncertainty over his background and if he is even a US citizen or not.  To be honest I have seen all kinds of people in the media, even some of the British Royal family taking interest in Islam.

As a Christian I think this is more to do with a spiritual darkness that is blinding people from the true Messiah Jesus.

This week I read this very challenging article really drives it home if as Christians we are praying for our leaders who just wanting to be Pharisees wanting something to moan about.   The point about seeing  a wicked politician like Yasser Arafat changed really quite moved me.

In times of the bible, things happened to leaders of nations that changed their hearts, look at at Persian leader Cyrus the Great who took pity on the Jews, see Ezra 1 in the Bible.

I think our modern day leaders can easily change from good to bad or vice versa, for that reason prayer is needed for them whatever circumstances there could be.

Computer and audio video cable rip offs

Expensive computer cables are a big extra upsell point for retailers, I have known this for a while since I was in retail in 2003.

Makers of audio, video and computer accessories have taken advantage of the naivety of audiophiles and movie buffs who are sitting ducks for cables that cost ten or twenty times what they should do.   Brands like ‘Monster’ who make video cables and funny phrases like ‘oxygen free’

Today I read the worse possible example of this when a so called audio expert mentioned on his blog that replacing the SATA hard disk cables in your PC would give you better quality audio.

The blog post was removed in a hurry, but you can see a mirror of the original post here.

Here all the 1s and 0s transfer around at the same fashion in any cable, any interference in this and your computer simply won’t work further than ‘non-system disk, press any key to boot’

I worked for a well known mail order computer store who sold USB cables for #7.99 (PC World charge #14.99)  the cost price for these from the wholesalers is 39p.  Cables with gold and funny coloured insulation don’t cost that much more to manufacture.  Sorry my keyboard doesn’t have a pound sign.  Grr.

As someone who has made cables for myself, my employers and to make a bit of beer money for friends, its high time the consumers realise they are being deceived by the retailers, with clever spiel with no truthful facts.

Some outrageously priced cables on Amazon here:

$2499 or $999 refurbished.  Hmm, I wouldn’t want a used one, someone’s dog hairs could of got on those delicate pin connections could cause the brass ensemble at the Vienna Concert to lose its delicate clarity.   On the other hand on this item on Amazon are pretty darned funny actually.  Maybe audio enthusiasts should have their house rewired by electricians in sterile foil suits.

Jerusalem Beer festival

Wasn’t planning to go to this initially, but saw it on my way home from church worship event on thursday night, so I thought why not. 🙂

I was going to go to the beer event last year but after queueing for an hour, the gates were locked and they wouldn’t let us in.   Something to do with a legal issue about serving alcohol which the government people were discussing with the event organisers.   We ended going a usual local instead.

This time the event was in the old Jerusalem railway station, behind the Lab bar.

Not a bad event, but I didn’t get to see any live bands as I was there about 10.30pm and I guess they had stopped playing.   There were very long waits at the bars, and even waiting at the largest one for 10 minutes, I almost got bored of waiting.  Something to do with lack of normal queueing, instead requires a bit of assertiveness and force to get the barman’s attention.

All the beers offered and promoted at this event were all European brands.   Its a shame there wasn’t Goldstar or Macabee there but I guess this was an event for local Israelis rather foreigners who wanted to try something else other than the familiar Israeli beer.  There were quite a few tshirt shops and craft stands.

Good to see none of this ‘my <low_volume_ale_with_daft_name> is better than your <mass_produced_beer_with_big_marketing_campaign>’ snobbery nonsense, there was all kinds of booze offered including some special Israeli vodka I had not seen before.

This maybe down to some good security and police outside, but compared to how an event like this would probably turn out in the UK, I think I only spotted one person you can say had ‘over done it’  a little.

I like the fact that Israelis are neither prude not excessive, and this was a good party event I think, that shows the fun side of this place and the outgoing nature of most Israelis.

Donated laptop for Hebrew/Russian user

More fun at work setting up computers as gifts to local people.

Today in between usual jobs I have to do at work as the IT systems admin of a charity here in Jerusalem, I was setting up this Compaq Presario 2100 laptop I blogged on previously on replacing the DVD drive. This same computer came into my workshop as the staff member replaced it with a newer Toshiba, and this machine is to be a gift for our cleaning lady who is originally from Russia.

This lady hasn’t got her own PC, and told us she had been praying she could get a computer given to her somehow.  So we are looking forward to surprising her later this week. 🙂

To start with I needed to take a Ghost image of this system in case any files got lost.   It turned itself off part way.  Bah.   Turned out it had overheated.   I stripped it down and found that the fan inside was clogged up with dust, there was a wall of fluff so the fan was turning but no air could escape out of the system. After pulling out the heatsink and fan assembly and blasting some canned air into it, some big balls of fluff came out of it, and once clean I put it back together.  I managed to do a full back up off everything on the hard disk.   This computer is pretty old now being a 2004 model, but it has a 2800 AMD Athlon processor, so performance is quite good actually.

Next was to install Windows.   I found a copy of Windows XP home Hebrew edition in a drawer, I made a duplicate of the CD and merged in Service Pack 3 for XP into it and burned a new copy of the CD.  I used the normal XP home licence code on the sticker on the bottom of the Compaq.

This is interesting as our cleaning lady doesn’t speak much English, she speaks Russian and Hebrew only.   For me installing XP hebrew version is a little interesting.   After formatting the hard disk etc, everything seems to be like normal Windows XP in English, once the computer does its first reboot, it will show the “35 minutes left to install” in Hebrew.  The rest of the install I can do from memory as I have installed XP enough times to know roughly which menu features do what.

Once installed, up comes the familiar desktop with the grassy hill background, but with the Start button on the right.   Everything is back to front as Hebrew is a right to left language.   I am doing everything else from memory here,  I put on all the Windows updates which took about an hour.   All the drivers go on after this.

Laptop pimpin’

This particular type work I do is quite fun as I get to use creativity in setting up the equipment for user so they can work with no hassle.

If you remember the TV show ‘pimp my ride’ where car modification specialists adapt and improve and tired and shabby vehicle of a viewer of the show, they write in complaining their car is old and jaded and would like to be considered to be the subject of the show.  Usually around $30,000 is spent on a car worth virtually nothing to start with. Part of the charm of the show is the outlandish over the top extras done such as 8 TV screens set into the interior.  Of course this particular business that has the team of vehicle technicians do actually have customers in posh parts of California with vast amounts of disposable income purely for aesthetic make overs for their cars.

Here in my workshop I enjoy pimping out  old computers, generally tune and tweak things for performance and usability.   I also try and reuse second hand parts where possible, usually I prefer to buy new parts such as cooling fans and batteries as used versions of these components are never any good, so everything can be done as cost effective as possible.  I always use a lot of open source software which is free and doesn’t have unreasonable and complex licence agreements.

This particular system I have worked on is based around this lady’s background, and as Russian is her mother tongue, I put on the Hebrew version of Firefox, and also installed a Russian version of ‘portable’ Firefox.   This particular version of this popular browser (70+ languages are supported) is meant to be installed on a USB stick.   This means two versions can be put on together.  There is also two versions of OpenOffice, using a standard version and portable version.

Hebrew Firefox with Lion of tribe of Judah theme!!!

Russian Firefox with Tetris type church theme 🙂

Sadly it doesn’t seem both apps can be run at the same time, but don’t think this is too much of an issue.

As well as a simple Compaq wallpaper from the internet, I set the Firefox background themes to fit in nicely for each version of the browser 🙂

Software installed:- Windows XP home with Service Pack 3, Internet Explorer 8 (as not a great browser its just on for security updates) Media Player 11, VLC player 1.12, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 Hebrew version, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 Portable Russian version, Open Office 3.2 Hebrew version, Open Office 3.2 Portable Russian version, Adobe Acrobat 9.3, Google Earth, Free AVG 9.0, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and lastly Infrarecorder CD/DVD burning app which has support for Hebrew language.

Of course all the security is tightened up with Internet Explorer icons removed, all Windows updates on, AVG 9 does the job nicely and Malwarebytes is good for scanning for more complex threats – albeit has the to be run manually once in a while.

All software installed is legally licenced and has cost the grand total of zero. 🙂

Only slight negative points of this computer is the silver paint on the palm rest is a little scratched, the battery doesn’t work for more than 5 minutes and there is no onboard wireless card.   I think I will go with a cheap USB wireless stick if she needs this access.

Now just need to give this computer a clean and could benefit from some Hebrew/Russian keyboard stickers for its new owner.

Kidnapped Gilad Shalit – 4 years on

Last Sunday I had a relaxing morning, went out to the old city, I wanted to visit the recently built big synagogue built on the site of a famous one destroyed in wars from long ago, but it was shut so this is for another day.  King of Kings Church was really good, great teaching as usual from Wayne Hilsden and some great worship music too.

After church, I went with my Arab believer friend as he said there was some special event happening at the Gilad Shalit tent.   There is a tent usually manned by two people with various pictures and news stories about the young soldier currently being held captive somewhere in the Gaza strip.   These days this street corner has got bigger as news last year confirmed that Gilad is still alive, verified by a videotape of him with a recent newspaper last year.

This sunday evening was extra special, there was a TV interview being held with Gilad’s parents and brother and a famous basketball player (I didn’t get his name) who came to show his support.   The tent is positioned close to some government buildings.

Anyway I am not sure exactly what is said as there was no English posters or spoken announcements.  But it is quite sobering to see something to see events shown on worldwide television and being actually there.

There are several very very long posters signed in a mixture of Hebrew and English there.

There were people opposed to event.  I am not sure what was said but someone stopped outside in a small Hyundai hatchback and yelled something probably abusive.   Across the road was another protest which someone told me was to stop the government making a deal to let out I think something like 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for this one solider.

Its crazy the rest of the world doesn’t have the courage to speak out why there is something seriously wrong with why one soldier should be a traded for a couple of hundred known terrorists responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians in past tragedies

In the past, criminals have been traded for the bodies of dead Israelis who fell in foreign ground.   This is not a new thing, when you consider when King Saul, Jonathan and his two brothers Ishvi and Malki-Shua (funny these names aren’t as popular as Jonathan today 🙂 ) were killed by the Philistines, and much later their remains were found and brought home, check out 2 Samuel 21

If you are reading this, doesn’t matter if you are Jewish, Christian or whatever, please consider praying that this young soldier gets released without any negotiations to release terrorists. By not negotiating with these kind of deals this halts the incentive for future possible kidnappings.

In the past some people like Terry Waite, a British Christian author and humanitarian was free after over four years in jail in Lebanon, and a similar thing also happened John Macarthy so I think there is hope.

Christians praying for Arabs during Ramadan

This week its Ramadan, an important fast for Moslems.   Looking out of my kitchen window I see across our big Arab neighbourhood, and there are animated Christmas style flashing lights in the distance, the house nearest to me has a bright blue star and crescent.

My friend Aaron sent me this, so I thought it deserves a mention in the blogosphere.


As most of you know, the Moslem feast of Ramadan began last night. During this month long festival, according to Wikipedia;

“Moslems refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Moslems about patience, humility, and spirituality. It is a time for Moslems to fast for the sake of Allah and to offer more prayer than usual.

During Ramadan, Moslems ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

Moslems believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.”

All well and good.

What this wikipedia article does not talk about and what I wouldn’t expect it to talk about is that this month is widely loathed by Moslems who see it as a tremendous hassle.

The rate of car accidents, work accidents, and other problems related to people fainting or having trouble staying awake skyrockets in the Moslem world during this month, especially in places where there is great heat, as there is this summer.

Ramadan is also a traditional time when terrorist activity against Israel, the US and other “infidel” countries increases, because traditionally it was a time when Moslems felt they would have great strength to attack their enemies and/or the enemies of Allah.

So we need to be praying for two things.

One, we need to be praying for the Moslems themselves, for their physical safety and well being during this time when they are observing a religious festival most of them don’t know the source of, and that God, who loves them and sent His Son to die for them, will have mercy on them and grace for their physical health and safety.

Two, we need to be praying that God will protect all us “infidels” from the terrorist intentions of those Moslems who take it upon themselves to show their devotion to Allah by attempting to slaughter Allah’s enemies (which is, by the Qu’ran’s own definition, anyone who is not a Moslem.)

But there is a third thing we should also be praying for, and that is this.

A little known fact about Ramadan is that during this time of fasting and (in many cases sincerely) seeking God, many Moslems come to faith in Jesus Christ. It happens every year, and it is a fast growing phenomenon. Often times it happens through them having a spontaneous vision of Jesus, or even in a dream.

So that’s something to be praying for as well, especially if you have Moslem neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.

Below is a link to a very interesting editorial in today’s Toronto Sun newspaper. It is written by a Moslem about the Palestinian Moslems, and is a very educational couple of pages. I encourage you all to read it and pass this link on to your friends.

God Bless you all.

Widow’s mite coins for sale

This shop sells coins based in Luke 21:2-4 about the story of the Widow’s copper coins she gave to the temple treasury.

I was on the way to church coming back from the Kotel, so I didn’t get to properly see this shop, but I imagine these coins offered could be genuine as there is an abundance of history under the ground that has been discovered all over Israel.

These sorts of antiquities stores are pretty unusual as they sell jewelery made from pieces of Roman glass found in archelogical sites.  Some of these stores actually fashion pieces of glass that are cut and filed to shape and set in broaches, necklaces etc.