Viva Netanya

I returned back to this city to stay in a holiday apartment I have been kindly loaned again for free for a few days.

A like the varied styles of architecture of the apartment blocks in Netanya.  The one on the left seems to be a bit Art Deco influenced with some pastel colours and geometric shapes, and others have some air of kitsch to them with these gold rims the window balconies.  There is a lot of construction work going on with blocks of flats being refurbished with the windows and balcony fronts being ripped out showing a hollow shell of the apartments inside, presumably to have a new facade put on to freshen them up to holiday makers or those seeking permenantly dwell here.  Right: I quite like this sort of foot shaped new apartment block.

The local estate agents have ads up for property listed in Russian and French for new immigrants coming in from these nations.

This city is a world apart from Jerusalem, with wide and long boulevards which are a grid fashion like an average US city, as I wrote before when I came here, the coast line with gardens and cliffs looks like UK city of Bournemouth, which funnily enough, the two cities are twinned.

This house appears to be some sort of famous historical place, but I didn’t see any signs in English of who it belonged to.

This local chap was out with his pets, there was two of these identical dogs, as well as a parrot enjoying the nice weather which is getting warmer.

Netanya’s own Shuk (outdoor market) is fairly similar to Jerusalem’s but has less English speakers, so its a little more challenging buying stuff.   I got some oats and raisins for breakfast, a kilo of bananas, some almonds.  Some huge squash fruit here.

These cliffs have some erosion, but doesn’t look like the sand thats exposed is causing any kind of threat to people’s houses.

Out on the beach, you can tell its been stormy recently.

The concrete foundations of these lifeguard’s huts have moved considerably.  There was three of these damaged, mostly the back wall sections have broken off.

Oops the Khazi would be out of action then 🙂

Jelly fish!  Maybe just half a one, after prodded the sand around it I couldn’t see any of its legs. 🙂

I really like Netanya, its only existed since 1929, so there is not a lot of historical places but it makes a good base point to stay whilst exploring the north of Israel, its much cheaper than Tel Aviv and traffic seems quite reasonable.   There is lots of shops and a good beach.

For me there was a good place to relax and read and take a break from work, and gave me time to pray and think about plans for the future for a bit.

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Can IT assist with organ transplants?

Just read today that Steve Jobs who is away from running Apple is rumoured to be in the late stages of terminal cancer.

http://apple.slashdot.org/story/11/01/17/1433213/Steve-Jobs-Taking-Medical-Leave-of-Absence

A couple of years ago he had a liver transplant, this got me thinking.

A few years ago, a work colleague called “D” who is also a Christian who lives in Southampton has had some awful health problems and has had no less than THREE organ transplants!  Turns out after liver and heart replaced by an illness that destroyed body components, to stop his body rejecting his new parts required some powerful drugs which had the side effect of messing up his kidneys.

Now when I used to meet up with my colleagues during lunch breaks for prayer, sometimes D would not be there because he was in hospital with infection, but was back the next week, for me, this man was a living miracle of suffering a complex combination of health worries.

He told me that when waiting for a heart transplant from a match from a cadaver, it took three attempts after being opened up in a theatre to get one that successfully matched.   Each time with him and the deceased donor were not the right size parts.

I was amazed this seems to be so hit and miss and there isn’t an IT solution to aid this difficult process.

I am thinking software could be designed to take away a lot of guess work of doing this surely.   I think sucessful organ transplants depend mostly on your height and build.   By using other statistics such as ethnicity/skin colour, blood group, age, location etc, as well as some critically important aspects such if the patient has ever had HIV or Hepatitis would need to be added.   Also, if its feasible to fly someone to another country, or a deceased person as a donor, as well time of flight, how much time from bureaucracy a particular country would take to get through to fly them in as well.

Health care IT and innovation are two subjects are something that is rarely seen together.  As I have worked in IT in a hospital and find it very interesting (I wanted to be doctor as a child)  a lot of the time you are supporting very old and very awkward to support apps.

Now I know Apple have not been backers of free software, where as Google has done, maybe Apple’s developers could write some software and release it publicly for free to enable health professionals to enable more people to have successful matches in organ transplants maybe?   As hospitals rarely have Macs or iOS devices something web based (and OS independent) that would hold a database securely in the cloud.  Maybe if a developing country has a 3G mobile GSM network, a database could be accessed by a healthcare professional on a smart phone.

I am praying for Steve and his family, and that he would find Jesus through this severe illness.

Why I like Foxytunes for listening to music at work

Not stuff life in Israel today, but just some handy little known snippets of things I use both at home and work.

I almost always listen to music whilst I am driving or working.   There is quite a lot of similarities for me between these habits.

Good old iTunes.   Lots of people like it and lots of people hate it.  I don’t own a iPhone, and I think it would be better if Apple spun off the phone controlling features into a separate application.   iTunes does a grand job of cataloguing your music, occasionally there are some funny quirks, but in general its a nice application.  I am quite a big music collector and have most of my 200 odd CDs imported and on my (now old school rotary controlled) 30gb iPod.

Various friends have recommended Spotify if you want an “all you can eat” monthly diet of music.  I have yet to try this, but I tend to use Youtube for music I don’t yet own, whether this is legal or not as i am just watching it, I don’t know, but I do know this does strongly influence what CDs I buy next.   I still prefer to buy CDs than download, its cheaper, I like having the tangible copy on a shelf with the others in my collection, some songs are best played as part of a collection as they can often tell a story together which is not so significant if you buy one song at a time.

Now you can notice Firefox has some extra buttons at the bottom.

Clicking this little button above lets you choose your preferred music player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp and many more.  If you stop iTunes and open up another tab in your browser with Youtube, I can listen to a song on here, switch back to what I am doing on the web and control the music with the buttons at the bottom, Foxytunes will shift the functionality of these controls to the appropriate music player transparently.

The controls on Youtube are horrible from a usability point of view.   Try adjusting the volume, its awkward and fiddly, even more so when the phone rings and you need to quickly silence the song in a hurry.

This method is similar to way I like the last car I had had audio controls on the steering column, I think Renault were the first to do this, with original Espace in the early 1980s.   A lot of generic car radios have scrolling messages of how many channels it has, and the buttons are small and awkward to operate, a truly hideous experience to use whilst you are trying to operate a car.  The stereo on this car was a simple one, the four directional joystick, one axis for volume the other for radio or CD track, just for the main essential features of the radio that doesn’t distract you from driving.

Now I am not currently a car owner for the time being, I still have the same tastes of making controls for things not more complicated than necessary.  Here these buttons just have which music player, backwards, play/pause, forwards, volume slider, and some other bits I haven’t used as of yet 🙂   There is a faint red line under the title of the artist and song that shows how far through the song you are.   You do have to switch to your music player to pick a different artist of course.

Anyway Foxytunes is just a very pleasant way of controlling your tunes whilst busy on the web, and can’t recommend this little app more.

There are some extra little ways it helps out, in terms of letting you play MP3 content on a web page without having to download it.  I haven’t used this enough to comment on it though.

As in 201xs more software operates via the web via browser via cloud technology, I think Foxytunes may become more and more popular to listen to music whilst using the web or browser based applications.

Recent surprise, Foxytunes is developed in Israel by a small team, and they are now owned by Yahoo.

The other good news it works on Firefox on all Windows (XP, Vista and 7) Macintosh and Linux computers with the Firefox browser 🙂

Get your Foxytunes add on for your Firefox here

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/foxytunes/

2011 Egypt and prophecy

Read something quite amazing on the blog of Walid Shoebat, an ex-Palestinian terrorist who came to Jesus.

http://www.shoebat.com/blog/archives/753

This passage from the bible specifically mentions current events in Egypt:

Isaiah 19:2-4 “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian— brother will fight against brother, neighbour against neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.  The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists.  I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.

Something not mentioned on the news at all, is the Suez Canal.  This man made water highway through Egypt is a shortcut to get goods in from Asia to Europe and North America.  That includes oil just in case it wasn’t expensive enough already.  A new Egyptian administration could chose to tax this route higher or close it altogether.   Obviously this affects everywhere meaning more inflation could be on the way.

Reading this part and making my own conclusions:

Daniel 11:43 He (the AntiChrist) will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission.

This also has great significance, as I read today (16th February 2011) not only has historical items been looted from a museum in Cairo in recent weeks.

Libya is on the news today here.

Cush refers to a nation in north east Africa, possibly Ethiopia, or, in this case today on the news there has been the birth of a new nation, South Sudan which breaks away from the main part of Sudan, this is a place where Christians have suffered one of the highest rates of persecution in the world.  South Sudan will become autonomous in July 2011.

I do pray that Egypt gets a better leader and a government, but I am not optimistic.  A likely side effect of all the trouble in many middle east nations at the moment as this scripture says is lots of Arab people come to Christ as they get disenchanted with Islam and their government.

Mount Hermon snow trip: Part 5 Badgers Rock!

1/ Go forth north!2/ Snow patrol3/ Sloping off4/ Nimrod’s Fortress5/ Badgers Rock

I have mentioned this little creatures when I went to Ein Gedi, next to the dead Sea.   Lots of them live around the rocks, they are pretty active and move fast.

These are Hyrax (also known as Rock Badgers)

They look like giant Guinea Pigs.   I wondered if people ever ate them, after all they are a bit bigger than a rabbit.  I checked the bible.  Leviticus 11 : 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you.”

Ah.  They are not Kosher. Oh well 🙂  The bible mentions them quite a bit actually.

Arabic inscription on some stone up here.

Some amazing views from up here.

Lastly, just before we went home we stopped off at a friendly Arab restaurant on the north part of the Galilee just close to Tiberias.

1/ Go forth north!2/ Snow patrol3/ Sloping off4/ Nimrod’s Fortress5/ Badgers Rock

Soon: visit to Yad Vashem holocaust museum.

LCD picture frames for promoting web sites and business marketing

Something I saw when i was just about to leave the UK to do my volunteering work, a couple of small businesses have some of those cheap LCD picture frames in the window of their premises.

I really like this idea, often a normal PC is used for this job, and using an LCD picture frame for simple slideshow of a companies products and services, doing it this way rather than a PC, means no messing about with Windows updates and patches, antivirus updates, a bulky box that has got to sit somewhere, etc.  Most of these just require a low cost SD card (2Gb is about £5.99 from play.com) to load on pictures as a slide show.

A high street bank here in Jerusalem has a clunky old 19″ CRT monitor for customer notices outside, but seems to be off.  This pharmacy store has a LCD picture frame on a counter.

I am thinking about these LCD picture frames could be good for the charity I work for.   The food bank which helps poor Israelis is likely to have people walking past when it is shut and does not have much information on the front of building.    Images on the screen could promote our organisation, and have information in English, Hebrew and Russian (which 15% of Israelis speak)   These devices are cheap and don’t consume much power.   I don’t know if they are reliable enough for 24 hour operation.   Staff could easily compile content onto SD cards from their own PCs without needing much help from IT administrators.

My good friend Ed Ross promotes a podcast called Geeks & God that provides discussion for churches looking to improve their web sites and use of IT.  I would be quite curious to know if anyone has deployed these in the windows of their charity, church, youth centre or retail shop to promote themselves.

For web designers I think these are also of interest.   A web design or marketing agency could resell these picture frames to their clients with content shared from the web site to get a web site noticed by people walking past a shop.  A bright and creative theme for a web site could have some of the pictures played back on the picture frames, and could help to point potential clients to a web site, if say, people walk past a business outside of business hours on the way to the pub, takeaway or whatever.  Realistically you are only going to get 10-30 seconds of notice from the public, but some people may walk past these places every day often perhaps.

Here in Israel, I have seen some of these picture frames but seems to be specifically aimed for on a shop counter, this one is from a pharmacy I was at the other day.   There are some (with 10 or 12″ screen I think) in all the branches of Aroma coffee shops I see here in Israel, but the normal picture frames in retail electronics stores like BUG, Kravitz etc, only sell 7 or 8 inch screens.

Jerusalem Assembly

The weekend before last I went to a different church with a friend, this time to Jerusalem Assembly congregation in Talpiyot.

I ended up not going to my normal church (King of Kings) due to needing to stay in the house as my room mate was coming back and he would not have any keys to get in.

This service was great as Jerusalem Assembly, the service has two speakers, one in Hebrew and repeated in English.  Like some Hebrew only services in other churches you can rent these small radio receiver units, to get a translation, but at this church translations are offered in French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Russian!!

I thought this was quite amazing given the amount of work involved to do this, after the service there was soup and pastries and cake offered and a good chance to meet and chat with different people.   I got see some Israeli believers I work with, as well as other Jewish, Arab and foreign Christians working or volunteering in the land from different congregations.  The word and the worship was really good here.

www.jerusalemassembly.com

Chinese made MG cars for sale in Israel?

Back in 2005 I worked for a vehicle leasing company, the same year the British car manufacturer MG / Rover went bankrupt, and a famous name associated with motor manufacturing in the West Midlands disappeared.

Before I went off to a bible study group, I sat in a coffee shop and there were no English newspapers there, so I flipped through a Hebrew paper there and this ad caught my eye.  There had been rumours of a rebirth of this brand, albeit with the cars made in China to start with the intention of kick starting the factory in Longbridge, Birmingham after that.   This seems enormously challenging given that the car industry has suffered the most during the recession.

This car built by SAIC Motors, China and this appears to be an entirely new model.  It would seem enourmously difficult to convince the public to buy new cars when a recession is on, and also how do you convince the previous dealerships to stock these model cars again?  The other problem is people don’t always associate Chinese manufacturing with quality, it may be hard to shake off this stigma.

Cars are way more expensive in Israel than they are in the UK or Europe.   I think a basic model 1.4 Peugeot 207 costs about £8000, where as in Israel I saw this car listed at the equivalent of £15,000.

Most of the cars I see here are very bland Mazda, Toyota or Hyundai models.  I rarely see any MG or Rover cars from before 2005 here, so this is most unusual seeing this ad here.  I hope MG has great success.  Check out www.mg-israel.co.il

Mount Hermon snow trip: Part 4 Nimrod’s Fortress

1/ Go forth north!2/ Snow patrol3/ Sloping off4/ Nimrod’s Fortress5/ Badgers Rock

Back past this Arab town on a steep hill we saw earlier, Rachel tells us this town is called Majdel Shams which is one of the largest Arab Druze communities in the Golan.

Driving out of Mount Hermon, we travelled south only a little bit to see another place, on the way down from the hill there are some small sheds with people selling fruit and vegetables by the side of the road.   Reminds me of some similar stands I saw on some highways in Jordan in 2009.

The stretch of road leading up to the fortress has some slightly scary sights, I can see a glimpse of three wrecked cars at the below the side of the steep hill, yikes!

Nimrod’s castle is interesting, there is a mention of this in the book of Micah:

Micah 5 : 5-6 And he (Jesus) will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.  We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders.

Like the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon, this section of the top of Israel, was owned by Syria and claimed back by Israel in 1967 Six day war, this prophecy is spot on!

These stairs lead into underground rooms in the fortress, but you can walk around the sides to see all kinds of history.

The fortress was built by Al-Aziz Uthman in 1229 who was a Sultan of Egypt and stands 800 metres above sea level.  Nimrod himself dates back from Genesis.

Genesis 10 : 8-9 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”

An earthquake damage the fortress in the 18th century.   I was looking today on the new version (6 beta) of Google Earth to find if earthquake faults are documented, but shows the Galilee marked with a zone marked ‘Dead Sea’  oops, (epic geography FAIL!)  Maybe another time I will be able to to research this.   I do know earthquakes do happen in this country, not that I have seen but there was at least two small ones in the north a few years ago.

In my last story of this trip I will show you some mysterious biblical animals that roam around the top Hermon….

1/ Go forth north!2/ Snow patrol3/ Sloping off4/ Nimrod’s Fortress5/ Badgers Rock