Early Christian book with metal pages found in Jordan

An ancient book with metal pages, possibly an ancient artifacts of early Christianity has been found in Jordan:


Wonder if Google could document this and put in the web along with the Dead Sea Scrolls they are planning to publish this year?

Tel Aviv – robotics competition Part 4 Competition

The competition is here!

Each round is only about two and half minutes, each robot has to scoop up a variety of coloured inflatables and place them on a peg, its a bit like basketball I guess.

The specification of each robot is roughly the same so the size of the chassis, and has a vertical section with some kind of arm, the movement can be with bicycle chain, wire pulleys or hydraulics.

An unusual part of the competition, is each robot has an extra mini-robot, looking like a rollerskate, this gets launched from an extra extending arm, put onto the these poles where it has to climb up and press the top activating a switch making a green light come on, for a massive bonus in points.   As you can expect this is a very difficult task to do in a short space of time, as well as implement into the design of the robot.

My job here was simply as a marshal to gather the shapes and put them on the side in between each game.  There are teams come out after each tournament to load their robot onto a trolley and take back to the pit.  These things look like giant bagels!   The glasses are necessary in case pieces break off a robot, theres a lot of sharp metal bits in the inner workings there.

A lot of the judges have some engineering background, some of the Israelis work for famous names in IT such as Google and Hewlett Packard.  It was good to chat about humorous connections to Futurama (looks like Tel Aviv at the beginning credits of this show!) and I-Robot as well 🙂

The winners!

This was absolutely superb event to be part of, and as Christian and an IT person to participate in this event, I think its humbling that the Lord God gives some of us Christian volunteers extra ways to serve him in doing different and exciting challenges.  I hope this event continues on to help young people with curiosity for technology in a sporting team event and helps this country’s reputation as a place fertile in highly skilled engineers and problem solvers.

Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition

Windows 7 90 day trial activation FAIL

I played with some of the beta versions of Windows 7 back in 2009 when I worked in a hospital, and I also got the RC-1 version, I suppose I am late as a full on Windows 7 adopter, I am quite a satisfied user of XP and it hasn’t really showed that much sign of aging despite being around 10 years,mainly because when I am using a computer for personal use, I just want to chat to people, get news, listen to music or buy something online and not have to maintenance like at work.   I didn’t bother with Vista because of its poor performance and stability.

But this week I have decided to be daring and put Windows 7 trial version on my work PC and on my personal laptop.

This trial version is offered to IT managers to test it out for 90 days.  It requires no licence code, just install it and you are done, however you have to activate it.

So far, everything is been running, drivers were no trouble at all.   There is a bit confusion in control panel, finding things, like joining a domain, setting up file sharing and other things seem a bit alien.   The new control panel is like being in a kitchen at a party at a friend’s house, everything is not where you expect it to be, and you open 6 or 7 drawers to find a can opener or something. 🙂

Microsoft has a poor track record for the activation and anti-piracy methods on Windows, you have to jump through too many hoops in the past.   7 seems to be no exception, my relatively blissful new operating system experience has just come to halt.  So why won’t this activate properly on my 2006 model Toshiba laptop?   A brief Google search seems like a weird hardware compatibility problem with certain BIOSes on some PCs.

For instance with XP, try installing Windows Media Player 11 on a normal XP computer with no connection to internet.  I like to set up computers with as many patches and security software before I give it a live connection to the internet, so it doesn’t become a sitting duck for viruses and nasties.  In the case on WMP11 it accuses me of having an illegally licenced copy of Windows.   Its a how-the-heck-did-they-not-spot-that-one bug.   Install it again with a network cable attached you are fine.

Now as this Win7 90 day trial doesn’t have a licence key, I am assuming that I can put it in multiple computers?   Within 90 days I am planning to buy it for myself, and have a new Win7 roll out in progress at work.  So Microsoft, please, please put some proper thought into anti-piracy methods that don’t fail on legitimate users at the wrong time, you will just continuously stop people being early adopters at your software.

Otherwise Windows is stable, quick and very pleasant to use, and will be the next big success for Microsoft, probably with a life span of 10+ years like XP was.

I understand there should be copy protection systems should in place, but its should not be some maddening frustrating that the chances are the user will turn to a dark corner of the internet looking for a way to cheat the system.

Purim antics around Jerusalem

I got to celebrate Purim three times this week!  At church, work and at a friend’s house.

Lots of dressing up!

What was funny, was the number of people dressed up Hispanic or Asian kind of themed things, and some of my friends, from Jewish and regular Christian backgrounds from Peru, Mexico, Japan, China, forgot to get a costume!   I didn’t have much, just a Hawaiian shirt and some flowers round my neck, but most people had some pretty awesome outfits!

I haven’t seen Arab chap with a Tina Turner wig before!

At work, this is a kind of a Jewish equivalent to a Christmas panto.

Got to watch a movie at church about the story of Esther, sadly the DVD seem to have a scratch on it, as it glitched and eventually froze before the end of the film 😦

Ironically as Purim celebrates Jewish people escaping death from the hands of a King of Persia, today the Jewish people face the same old story all over again, with the current leader of Persia (we call today Iran) and Ahmedinjad who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and is a top wholesale supplier of weapons to Hamas and Hezbullah.   Some things just don’t change.  Nowadays of course, Israel is threatened by hostile neighbours and the media rather condemns it for taking land that it had sovereign rights for it already, and recent events like rocket attacks, some with 40km radius reaching Ashdod and Beer Sheva, a family murdered in Judea, and a bomb in Jerusalem are only briefly mentioned. 😦

After church I went with some people out on the town as it was Purim and the streets are busy with people in costume.   We headed to this restaurant I have not seen before in Jaffa Street.  I forget the name now, its a soup kitchen with a mostly student and young adult clientele.   Its one of these places with odd pieces of bric-a-brac, ie: a Hebrew typewriter in the window, odd pieces of furniture that made it feel like an old school canteen.   All the cups used to serve coffee, tea or water are all different types seemingly acquired from a jumble sale.

Chandeleir made of spoons!  You can get Shushkar or soup with some nice crusty bread and a beer!

An interesting twist on “time at the bar please!” when the restaurant staff hinted that it was time (about 11pm) to shut, they just put away some of the chairs, and put on some loud techno music on and danced in the middle of the room!  I would like to find out how easy it is to write reviews for travel books as this place ought to be listed in Rough Guides or Lonely Planet books.

As a gentile Christian, I would like to say I like to join in with the Jewish festivals here, but at the same time I still celebrate Christmas and Easter, as maybe the timing may or may not be correct and they have been heavily exploited commercially, but all these events are good to spend time away from work, be with family, friends and personally seek the Lord and having a party and letting you hair down as well is always good.

Jerusalem marathon and dealing with security threats

Whats the best way of getting over a terrorist attack?   Wearing cute rubber wrist bands, twee looking ribbons to put on your jacket, being a Twitter drama queen?   No, none of this nonsense!

As friday was Jerusalem Marathon day, it is a case of just get on with life, no need to cancel anything needlessly.   This meant it was a bit difficult to get to work as the bus services were going to be hugely different with roads blocked off.The day before I saw barriers being put up and large palette loads of bottles of water.

I went to my church for a worship event, the main hall is in the basement of Clal centre in between Agrippas Street and Jaffa Street, but the meeting is on the 14th floor right at the very top, known as the prayer tower, I could open this huge sliding window and get some air and see an amazing view that you can see a large portion of the city, including the new King David harp bridge.   Here I can see right over Jaffa Street in the distance where the bombing was.

Bad luck to anti-Zionist losers 🙂 the event was sponsored by Adidas and the boycotters of Israel who complained the sporting  brand didn’t succeed in ruining the event for anyone! 🙂

As per every event like this, there are police and security to keep the event safe, although it did rain a little (which is a good thing, its is still really needed!)  this was a nice day.   I was at work as normal but I got some things done in our food bank again.   Actually I thank the Lord I was in this place that day due a power cut due to a fault in our building, which I meant I had to manually shut some servers down, there was some equiment damaged by this but is all under control.

This race shows the determination and character of the Jewish people well I think.

Jerusalem bus station terrorist attack

Lunch time two days ago I learned with horror about a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, which has left one dead and 39 injured.

Here, in Jerusalem, a lot Christians and Messianic Jews I know here all know each other, partly down to Facebook I guess, but also as I know numerous different Christian organisations here, and today I hear stories from people who were nearby just a short time before it happened.

Jerusalem’s large central bus station has been targeted before by deadly attacks but not in a long time.  When I have visited it requires turning out your pockets of metal things before going through a metal detector, as well as having your bag put through an X-ray, but not only that, when I have waited to meet a friend outside there, if you are stood still directly outside, then a security guard will challenge you are ask you what you are doing loitering,  I attempted to lock my bike on some railings about 10 metres away from the bus station only to be shouted at that this wasn’t allowed.

Whilst working in IT before I came here I had the chance to see IT solutions, processes and other things that Israel has invented and sold to police, military and government agencies around the world to help other nations fight against terrorist threats.

For me and many of the people I work with, we still haven’t got over the huge tragedy in Japan especially as I have worked several Japanese people, their families were not harmed, but seeing their home countries under danger from a worryingly unstable nuclear power plant and images of massive destruction has to be heartbreaking.  I enjoying working with the Japanese staff, I suppose you don’t see that many Japanese people come to the UK to visit, but I admire that they are so hardworking, resilient, and pleasant to be with.

For me that day, I was at the other end of Jerusalem, in Talpiyot at Bridges for Peace’s Outreach centre, a warehouse building that supplies food to the needy, either directly to people or put on palettes that go out to third party organisations that distribute it, so I didn’t know anything about this until a colleague got a phone call.  Our main building is about 2 miles from where the bomb happened.

I have lived in Portsmouth’s Somerstown district which has a high crime rate, often walked past Guildhall walk, a strip of bars and clubs in the same city so popular for fights and trouble, and ambulance team hovers over this area most weekend nights ready.   I have also been to ghetto parts of Los Angeles (just after 9/11) and Las Vegas which really made me uncomfortable, especially LA’s bus station, especially when you feel like you are being followed.   These things are all relative.   My cousin lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and he has had to deal with the devastating earthquake there, that has happened twice now.

Some people that visit Israel are surprised at how much security is here when you go through the airport and how metal detector doorways are in shopping malls and restaurants, its not a big inconvenience when go out and about town.

I do feel normally very safe here.   I would urge anyone who is thinking of visiting the holyland not to be deterred by current events as long as you are sensible and stick to known areas.

Don’t scrap the UK TV licence

Every now and then on the media, like Facebook, there is a campaign for people to abolish the UK television licence.

I wonder if people really think this is possible.  Is it possible for Auntie Beeb to operate with money out of thin air?  Especially as the government are making cuts on hospitals and the police at the moment.

Think about it, each TV company’s business model is as follows:-

BBC – annual subscription (required by law even if you dont watch this channel) but no commercials.

ITV/C4/C5 – commercials between shows, no subscription fee needed.

But then the channels on satellite and cable, ie: MTV have both.  This is why I don’t have cable or satellite, as I think it offers poor value for money. I don’t understand why I have seen some people plonk down upto £40 a month sometimes for terrible stuff.

I have had a freeview box but the software design of these devices is atrocious and the two different units I had would constant freeze and break down.   I will get another one but I need to look for some careful reviews first.  I think a lot of foreign people are quite jealous of British telly.

I don’t mind advertising, it should be non-intrusive, not to nag and be honest.   In all honesty, channels like MTV have double the number of adverts of ITV, and require a subscription.   The adverts are twice as frequent, and trashy often for annoying ring tones and premium rate telephone lines, sometimes adult stuff when its not even late.

I think MTV and music channels will disappear with music subscription services like all-you-can-eat internet music like Spotify will divulge into music videos at some point, or a similar competitor will, in the same way Google has made the Yellow pages book now only good for removing insects and fixing tables with short legs.

Maybe Youtube could evolve to show music videos continuously in such a way based on a predetermined set of music tastes that could also promote new bands as well as current favourites.

British TV licence is about £130, that £11 a month, which a large takeaway pizza and a big bottle of coke or curry at the medium scale of things.   I think that’s quite reasonable myself.

Lets keep the television licence but ensure that the fees are spent wisely.


Spammers offer to help companies fight bloggers

Bloggers often turn to their keyboards to write about bad service they encounter as well politics and general annoyances they want to rant about.

Someone once described blogging as “civilian journalism”  a way for people to make themselves heard, often without bias that might be seen in newspaper columnists.

What do you do, if you are a company and you want to fight against bad reviews of your company or service?    Personally I am not sure, but heres something that offers the wrong way.

I found this in my spam folder of comments of my blog, trying to sell this shady offering:-

A company that makes pretend good reviews and doctors your Google search results accordingly.   Interesting, but I suspect this would be laughably obvious if you hired out these people.

For one thing the links in this message go nowhere, seems that they are already out of business, or got more people accessing their site than they can handle.

I personally am against slander or bad mouthing people both online and in printed media or TV, but I can see a situation where some shady politician or dodgy company will pay these people to fix their PR problems after complaints, only to be found out that its all rigged and look really silly.

Please comment if you know other services that are there to try to reverse a bad reputation online, I am curious.   Please – nothing libelous and abusive please.

Tel Aviv – robotics competition Part 3 Extreme engineering

Left: There are a few mascots just like a big sports event, this fella (or lady, I couldn’t tell) in the orange costume can’t really see so needs someone to take him around 🙂 Right: Robots get brought in loaded in crates along with computers, tools and spare parts.

Left: These players reject conventional control methods with a handheld radio control with big springy aerials, instead moving around is done with a laptop.   This is part of a dedicated control panel, with the laptop fastened onto a wooden board with two or three conventional game joysticks for movement.  Each robot has a conventional wireless router which gets instructions from the operator.   When it is time for the team to play, they carry the control panel out with them.  There is a PC in the pit as well, some of them are showing CAD software with 3D models of robots and individual sub-assemblies.  Right: Oops, server error!

Batteries! think these are fairly common ones for wheelchairs.  These wheels are amazing!  They don’t look a common type of part, as each has a roller type piece set at 45 degrees, I am guessing they are designed to give enough traction over sand or gravel.

Top left: Lots of complicated stuff here, seem there are several discrete control systems that manage motors, pulleys and other bits.  Right: Each ‘pit’ is a domain for each robot team to test and service their robot, hold collection of parts and tools, have lunch, do male team bonding (actually there are girl engineers too) and also as a kind of geek’s dressing room.

I think the scissor type elevating robot is my favourite 🙂

It was great talking to the different teams, judges and mentors (mostly contestants from previous competitions)   Its phenomenal seeing the amount of creative talent that is here, especially as all the contestants here are very young (college age)

Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition

Children’s toys invade Jerusalem!!

I saw these kids toys in a window of a shop about a year ago…

The very popular Playmobil toys, didn’t know there was an Egyptian set! 🙂

On this poster for by some DJs at a nightclub!!   Maybe they are taking over!!

Some mischievous person stencil-grafittied this trash bin to match the head of this evil organisation!