Posts Tagged 'computers'

Blowing Out The Dust Within

The Backell family suffered a tragic, yet completely preventable loss this last week…

a very dusty computer

a very dusty computer

Our living room media server died. It was a slow, lingering, complication-filled battle that led to its demise.
Why am I bringing this up here? Because when I opened up the computer box, I discovered that it was full of dust. Such a simple, small thing… but left unchecked, it choked the life out of our computer. The fix would have been simple – take the computer outside, blow it clean with fresh air, and make sure that all its parts are well-connected.

Are you seeing the correlation between my media server and our spiritual lives yet?

All too often, we let little things, small things, pile up. We think, “oh, that’s not that important, I’ll deal with that later”… and then, before we know it, we’re getting clogged with the little things and we’re unable to breathe.

Please note – I don’t have anyone specifically in mind, but the warning is sound: if we allow little things, small sins, to accumulate in our lives, they cause more and more complications. Those little things can grow to have devastating consequences.

I was reading the Desiring God blog, when I came across this quote:

“We sin because we forget God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy. When we are not ravished by him, we forget the superior pleasures that there are in God and give ourselves to the inferior pleasures of sin. And this is why David says, “Against you God, you only have I sinned.” He goes deep with his confession because he knows repentance is the way back to fellowship with God.” (Rick Gamache, from his sermon “Whiter Than Snow”)

As we wrap up the summer of 2014, please take the time to deal with the simple things, the small things that might be accumulating in your heart. Bring them to God and ask the Spirit to blow fresh air through your life so that you’re renewed and ready for however the Lord calls you.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~ Psalm 51:10-12

Keep Following Jesus,

Pastor Ed

Taming VirtualBox – or How I Learned To Love Launching Scripts

First off, let me say that I am an avid Linux user. I converted to using Linux as my main operating system in 2000, and I’ve never looked back. In fact, I’ll admit to being pretty smug about it for a long time, and if I’ve annoyed any of my long-time friends by snidely remarking about “upgrading” their Windows machines to Linux, I apologize.

(I wasn’t *wrong*, mind you… it really is an upgrade, but I apologize for the snide way I might have come across.)


ANYWAY, one of the things I’ve always been frustrated with is the very few programs that I really appreciate using which are not available on the Linux platform. As a minister, there are a couple of Bible programs that simply do not play nice with Linux. I have had some moderate success getting older versions of Windows bible programs to run in Linux using Wine, but as for the more highly integrated-with-internet-access offerings, I’ve had to resort to another trick.


For my non-geek readers, VirtualBox is a program which allows the user to create an operating system WITHIN an operating system. If you are running Windows, and you’d like to experiment with using a Linux app, you can create a virtual machine, and run Linux inside of that. I, of course, do the opposite – I run Linux full time, but for those Windows programs I just can’t live without, I run them in a virtual machine of Windows XP.

To clarify: my Bible applications are running on Windows XP *inside* of a virtual machine, which is actually a program running on my Linux box. Clear as mud, right?

Well, here’s the nifty part, as far as I’m concerned: I’ve found a way to set up a specific shortcut which allows me to specifically launch one particular program within WinXP inside of my virtual machine from my home system. I imagine a Windows user could do the opposite process and launch Linux programs like GIMP directly from their Start menu if they wanted. Here’s how it works on my system, assuming that a Linux user already has VirtualBox installed, with a WinXP virtual machine:

1) in virtualbox, start your virtual XP machine, and install whatever program you want to access. In my case, I installed two Bible programs, WORDsearch and Logos 4. Once everything was installed, I opened ONE of these programs, and set it up to be exactly how I wanted it to be when I access it (maximized window, resources that I knew I’d use already loaded, that kind of thing).

2) Once the program is running the way you want it, CLOSE the virtual machine (not within WinXP, but within the “Machine” menu of VirtualBox, and SAVE the MACHINE STATE. This means that the next time you start the virtual machine in VirtualBox, Windows XP will fire right up with your program already started and ready to go – no login, no boot up sequence, just the program.

3) Once complete, shut down the VM, return to the main VirtualBox window, and click the Snapshots tab. Highlight the Current State, then click the Take Snapshot icon and give it a name and description, e.g. “WORDSearch″.

4) Now, start your virtual machine from your saved snapshot (which will put you right back to where you left), and set up your NEXT program you want to use. Close the first one (I closed WORDsearch), and then start your next program (Logos 4, in my case), and get IT set up just how you want it. Once set up, then within the “Machine” menu of VirtualBox, and take a different snapshot. Give it a different name (in my case, Logos). You should now have two different snapshots, each with a different saved instance of Windows running the specific program you like.

5) The cool bit: you can directly from the command line access specific snapshots. It takes two commands:
> vboxmanage snapshot “YourVirtualMachineName” restore “YourSnaphotName”
> vboxmanage startvm “YourVirtualMachineName”

The first command tells VirtualBox to select the specific snapshot that you’ve named. In my case, it’s either WORDSearch or Logos. The second command tells VirtualBox to start using that specific snapshot. When you combine these two commands in one shell script (or batch file, for you Windows people), you can directly launch your virtual machine with your saved state with your preferred program already running. Here’s the script that I’m using:

#launcher for virtualbox logos4
vboxmanage snapshot "XtraPainfulToo" restore "Logos"
vboxmanage startvm "XtraPainfulToo"

I’ve saved this script, make it executable, and put in with all my other scripts.

6) Create a launcher which calls your script. Some of you might use a desktop icon launcher, or a .desktop file, or a keyboard shortcut. The end result is that you’ll need some way to launch this script. In the background, your computer will run the script, and the only thing you’ll see is your Windows program popping up on your Linux screen.

I hope that’s clear enough for you to start using this process. I have found it very helpful in my day-to-day use of WinXP programs inside of Linux, for those programs that I just can’t work without. Clarification for this process was found in articles at and

My Personal Geek Metaphor (from archive)

(DATE: March 26, 2008 )

This is for a class I’m taking right now; the assignment was to write a metaphor which describes my personal formation. I read it to Jami, and she insisted that I post it in my blog, so here you go:

I’m a computer. I’m a complex collection of processing ability, memory, storage, and operating system. The processor I’ve been given is a fairly decent one – it works, and it’s able to handle large amounts of data throughput. However, when it overheats, it works at a much reduced rate of efficiency; it garbles the data, and doesn’t always correctly route the data to its needed recipients. I do have some significant issues:

My memory is faulty. Memory is designed to allow the operating system to function at its best; when sufficient memory is present, programs are able to access the processor at full speed and carry out their instructions. However, there are large gaps in my memory, which probably stem from some trauma early in my operating cycle (sometimes called “childhood”). These memory gaps occur at the most inopportune times, and confound my efforts to process information; sometimes, I simply don’t have sufficient interpretive memory to understand current demands on my processing ability. This would be analogous to an “emotional” state: sometimes I am unable to access needed data to help me carry out programming instructions, specifically input/output issues (“relating to others”).

My storage capacity is low; my physical capacity to store data seems to be decreasing (“my body is running down”), and while programs have been initiated to slow this trend (“I’ve started an exercise regime”), they are but temporary fixes for a permanent problem: my hardware will eventually cease to function. I understand that entropy must occur, but it is still difficult to face one’s own obsolescence.

However, the bright point is my operating system; I’ve had it replaced, and the new system works so much more efficiently than the old one. My old OS was riddled with viruses, malware, and junk programming (“sin”). The new system I’m currently running (“grace”) is virtually virus proof, and malware is much harder to install. The programs available to run with this new OS are all Free and Open; the Author lets me have access to the source code (“Scripture”) for any program I have installed. Also, I have the ability to give away my OS to anyone who is interested in replacing their old software; in fact, I am encouraged to do so, to all who seek freedom from their old operating system.

Pastor Ed Backell

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