Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Samuel's Leadership

I'm still plunking away at 1 Samuel in Spanish, and wanted to record a few notes about Samuel's leadership:
  • Next-generation leadership development failure - Like his sudo-adopted dad, Eli, Samuel fails in raising his children to carry the leadership baton. We read in 8:3: "But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice." Developing leaders of one's own kids appears to be a real challenge. Maybe this is due to being blinded by love for one's own? Maybe it's due to being focused on leading others outside the home at the sacrifice of the necessary investment inside? I'm not sure as I don't have experience raising children. That said, amongst our families and friends, we do have people we can ask when that time comes. I have personally known leaders who elect their children to positions of leadership even though they hadn't proven their capacity to handle the position. I also can think of some family friends that I have the upmost respect for as they have three raised adult children who are independent and actively serving and leading in the Kingdom.
  • Integrity - As Samuel is giving his farewell, he asks the people: "Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right." The people's response: "You have not cheated or oppressed us. You have not taken anything from anyone's hand." There were no grounds to charge Samuel with un-honest gain. He was in the clear because he lived with integrity. What a great way to end.
  • Praying for the flock - Samuel understood that one of his core responsibilities as a leader was to pray for those he led. As he's stepping down, he states, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right." Praying is first base, but how quick I am to breeze by it. Samuel is a good reminder that no matter how old or experienced, this is foundational to our leadership.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fascinating posts on giving

I read an article reporting some recent findings about the poor being more generous with their money than the rich. I haven't looked at the study to see how valid the data is, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised by this, as my personal experience has revealed the same. Anyways, what's fascinating to me are the user comments that follow afterward. You really get a good cross section of people's views towards the poor, the rich, and giving. It's worth looking at if you have a few minutes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

DWR and Ext JS

For projects at work, I love using ExtJS and DWR. My most useful extension for Ext has been DwrProxy, which enables using DWR for Ext's grids and comboboxes. I previously just had this code posted in the Ext forum and would answer people's questions there. Code in a form is not very centralized, so I took the time this weekend to:
  • Move the code to GitHub (a centralized repository), so that others could easily collaborate and/or see the change history. You can check the project out at:
  • Create a fully functional example demonstrating how to populate an Ext grid with DWR. It's hosted at, but unforunately eatj shuts down the server every six-hour for free accounts. If you know of a better free alternative, please let me know.
I was amazed how much time it took to move the code from a form post to a repository with examples and documentation. It's certainly possible that no-one will care and that it will go unappreciated. If nothing else, it was a good experience to understand what's involved.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A leader without teeth

How would you like to be asked by God, "Why do you honor your sons more than me?". The priest Eli gets asked this question in 1 Samuel 2. Eli's sons are taking the favored part of sacrifices for themselves and they're making personal prostitutes out of the woman who came to serve in the temple. The people are speaking about their actions, and Eli hears about it. He asks his sons, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the LORD's people is not good" (2:23-24). He gets a +1 for talking about it, but his leadership fails when it comes to imposing consequences. The sons keep on their same course, and there's no recourse by their dad.

He's a leader without teeth, and it ends up costing him dearly. He reveals to God that he loves pleasing his kids more than pleasing God. This continued pattern enrages God, and he says, "The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of the members of your family, so that no one in it will reach old age, and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life" (2:31-33). Major ouch!

The best leader is also the best servant. As a servant, the leader serves to ensure his flock move in the right direction. It it is not a service to lead them into peril. Serving in leadership can mean making course corrections, and sometimes a course correction requires discipline.I wonder how things would have turned out for Eli if he had the balls to punish his sons.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Realizing Our Global Position

It's easy to look up the ladder at those who have more than us. This tends to be the focus. Forgetting how many have less than us is easy. A couple of great sights that help with reminding us of how much we have are:

Free live Coldplay album download

If you're a Coldplay fan and haven't heard that they've posted a live album online for free, grab yourself a copy here: We're just listening to it now. Good times!

Accessing a CTC Union ATU-R210 Router in Costa Rica

Our DSL's through Costa Rica's ICE internet provider has a CTC Union ATU-R210 router. In order to access the administration panel of the router, I had to use the following:
Why would someone want to access this?
  • Set custom DNS servers (e.g., OpenDNS servers) since that seems to be the cause of some failed page requests.
  • Set up dynamic DNS and/or port mapping so that it's easy to connect to your home machine from somewhere else.
  • Update the device's software, although I haven't tried that yet.
I found this username and password list in a comment here: The manual can be found here:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strangling Leadership

It's become apparent to me that my leadership can have the opposite of the desired effect. It can strangle verses bring freedom. I know something needs to change, but at this point, I'm not sure what.

I have high expectations of people and I see choices in a larger context. Some examples:
  • If someone doesn't get something done because something came up, it will be important for me to know why/how they put themselves in a position where something coming up could derail them.
  • If someone has historically done untidy work, I'm fine to have him or her go do it, but I will want to make sure I'm in the review process.
  • If someone has traditionally been more passive in handling situations, but this time a more proactive approach is needed, I will be frustrated if the person doesn't move as soon as they get more information. Let's say you get an email that unblocks you and enables you to move forward. It's totally understandable that you may not be able to deal with it that night and forget to mention it the next. With a passive context though, I would be concerned that the same pattern of not proactively taking care of things is occurring. I would at least like to be told, "An email came in, but I'm not going to be able to talk about it tonight. Let's talk tomorrow." At that point, I'm aware that the person is mindful of the situation, and I can then be at peace.
I think my intentions are good, but they don't empower people. Instead of enabling someone to reach new heights, I make him or her feel suffocated.

Is this a control issue? Am I trying to ensure that things are done to my standard or my way? How do you be concerned about quality and be encouraging rather than detrimental? Do you have any suggestions?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reducing iPhoto '08's size - what to do?

I have used iPhoto since it came out, and as a result, have a lot of pictures accumulated. I am currently using iPhoto '08 (version 7.1.5). iPhoto '09 is available, but it didn't look compelling enough to me to upgrade. Anyways, my iPhoto library is bigger than it needs to be for two reasons:
  1. Every time a change is made to a photo, the original is left around. This is so you can revert to the original. While the theory is nice, there are plenty of cases where this isn't necessary (e.g., rotating a photo, removing red-eye). As a result, I have a couple gigs worth of "Original" photos. I would love to be able to remove these, but iPhoto's meta-data (stored in Library6.iphoto), doesn't play nicely with this change. If you remove the original, then the current version is present, but if you every choose the "Revert To Original" option, you're hosed for that photo. If you replace the original photo with the current photo and then remove the current photo, iPhoto won't display the photo. The iPhoto meta-data would need to be updated, but it's format looks propietary, and no Google search yielded any results.
  2. We don't have a video camera, but use our digital camera's video functionality a lot. As a result, we have a lot of video in our library. The video quality is by no means HD and it isn't compressed very well, thus there is a ripe opportunity to save some space by reducing these videos. Using command line scripts, it wouldn't be hard to bulk-compress all the movies, but the trouble again comes with updating the the metadata. Since I would want to compress ".mov" or ".avi" movies to ".mp4", the filenames would change, the the metadata would need to be updated.
Issue 1 use to be easily solvable with an applicaiton called iPhoto Diet, but it doesn't support iPhoto '08. I have no other solutions online for issue 2.

This got me thinking about moving to Google's Picassa, which was released for Mac back in January. The attractive thing about Picassa is that you can store your files however you like. They don't need to be imported into some library. The issue then becomes importing pictures from iPhoto into Picassa. Unfortunately, Picassa only lets you import by event, not be album. While I like iPhoto's event concept, it doesn't meet all the needs that albums do. A photo can belong to multiple albums but only to one event. Also, since we have been using iPhoto before the event concept came around, a lot of our photos haven't been categorized to events. Albums are our gold standard.

I can export my albums manually, one album folder, but this becomes very tedious, since you have to export one album at a time. You'd also have to create the folder names. iPhoto doesn't expose a way through AppleScript to export folders. There are Perl modules for reading iPhoto's album XML (AlbumData.xml), so this may be possible. I unfortunately deleted Apple developer tools off my hard drive though to get some space back, so will need to download them again to try this out.

As you can probably tell, this has been quite the process. The whole reason I want to shrink iPhoto's library is to get space back on my hard drive. After spending all this time, and having no clear/easy solution, I took a step back, and looked for other ways to reclaim space. I remembered that I had a license for WhatSize, and quickly located the data consuming directories on my hard drive. While the iPhoto library is big, our various iMovie projects are bigger. Since I have two external hard drives now (one for personal and one for work), I was able to free up plenty of space by moving these movie projects to both the hard drives.

In the meantime, I will wait to see if:
  1. iPhoto gets better utilities for shrinking its library.
  2. Picassa gets better utilities for importing albums from iPhoto.
Here are some useful links should myself or someone else pick up this project of reducing iPhoto library size:

See Africa Differently

I haven't had a lot of time to go through this site, but wanted to pass it on: I think the goal of re-branding Africa is a good one. Yes, there are many problems with Africa. There are also many beautiful things as well. Seeing both together is important.