On Apple's Tribute to Steve Jobs One Year Later

Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport
Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport

I remember landing in Amsterdam on October 5, 2011 after being in the air for almost 10 hours. I turned on my iPhone and AP news alerts started pinging my phone as happens when a “world event” takes place. I read through the Fox News, CNN, Sky News alerts and articles, and read through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As we pulled up to the gate I had already received the text below from Deborah (yes I have all my text messages from years ago), a message received in my hand sitting on a runway in the Netherlands thousands of miles away from Auburn, Alabama.

Text Message From DeborahAs we pulled up to the gate I took the photo above of the Delta flight parked next to our gate, pulled it into my Camera+ app, put a boarder around it and posted it to Instagram. At this point I had already checked my email, responded to a few emails, and looked up our connecting flight information. All from a small piece of metal, glass, and plastic that didn’t exist a few years earlier.

This may sounds like a lot of poetic musings for a phone, but for some reason my mind wasn’t ready for this particular piece of news that morning, and it confused me. I was on my way to Africa, and the only reason I was going to have any personal connection with my wife halfway around the world was because Steve Jobs had decided he was going to invent and create what I was holding in my hand.

Here was a man who shared no convictions with my faith, a brilliant man who had no understanding beyond the pluralistic view of Christianity known for centuries mixed with his version of Buddhism. He just couldn’t go beyond his own understanding and even made this statement to Isaacson:

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” he told me. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.”

Yet I still felt some connection, even if a minor one, with Jobs, sitting on a runway in Europe, as if the plane full of people melted away leaving me and my connection with Jobs sitting in my hand. He shared none of my beliefs, yet he changed the world, my world, and still does on a daily basis. After I got home from Africa I read, back to back, the biography on Steve Jobs and the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Metaxas. What an amazing contrast of times and cultures, beliefs, and both had the ability to change the world. Ultimately in death, as we all will do some day, either looking to what lies ahead, one perhaps clinging to life here on earth, so did these two great men.

I boarded the plane to Africa, still thinking about Jobs’ fate and wrote this as we took off.

The biggest surprise to me so far [on this trip], was upon landing, finding out that Steve Jobs died. I was truly saddened to hear this. I know we are all temporary to this world, but this man, who for all accounts wasn’t a believer, changed the world. He forever changed the way the world communicates, how we are connected with each other, and the reason I can talk to Deborah from this plane in Europe while she is in Auburn.

He affected so many people through his innovations. How are we to greave his death? I’m saddened over his death as if he was someone I knew personally, and at the same time I really don’t know why either. Death seems so imminent for all of us, especially when you hear about Jobs dying at 59. I know why we die, the fall created this and Christ had to die for us, but it’s still so hard to understand. I didn’t even know Jobs, but I will miss him. The new iPhone announcement yesterday had people wanting to see Jobs at the event, people who never knew, other than God, that he would die the very next day. I pray for his soul.

I’m not even really sure why I write this today other than to acknowledge the gravity this one person had on our world. A person I vastly disagree with on almost all aspects of life, yet he was someone who had a positive impact on so many people.

Jobs once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which really became his whole life philosophy, and was carried on today by Tim Cook and Apple with the video on their front page and the letter below. What other for-profit company would take down their entire front page just to show a 2 minute tribute video. Simplicity and sophistication.

Apple's Tribute to Steve Jobs
Apple’s Tribute to Steve Jobs

Space Shuttle Discovery Makes Historic Landing in Washington

Space Shuttle Discovery

Days when the national news like CNN and Fox News actually cover something for more than a 3 minutes sound bite seems to be the huge exception to the rule today. That is, unless, there is actually something going on live they can’t manipulate into a proper commercial break spot. Lately I have come to loathe the repetition of information on the news and documentary-reality shows. This morning was one of those non-stop coverage points for the historic landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and an end to a space program, really the only one I have ever known in my lifetime.

Since this is really the only space program I have ever known in my life, it has been sad to me to see it being dismantled over the last 12 months, but I’m sure they know what they are doing and it’s time to move on. Being an average objective observer of the program over the last 30 plus years I certainly can’t offer any inside knowledge for anything NASA, I will just miss watching something I have known since I could was old enough to know what a rocket was. Discovery had a beautiful landing this morning on the back of that giant NASA Boeing 747SP-21 (see some pics here). Ben Cooper over on Airliners.net captured a great sunrise shot of the departing N905NA / 376 (cn 20107/86) captioned saying: “Farewell, Discovery! Shuttle Discovery departs Florida for the final time in history at sunrise, atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, bound for the Smithsonian in Washington DC.” Well said.

Is True Christianity Represented on CNN, Discovery, and History Channel?

CNN Belief Blog

Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today? The answer of course, is an emphatic yes, of course we can, but the answer always seems to change depending on who you ask. Our culture is filled with blogs and news articles like the CNN “Belief Blog” and the Washington Post “On Faith” section, which constantly adjust the meaning of Christianity to suit their own needs, mostly to be politically correct. Make no mistake, these are secular institutions, writing for a single collective purpose and goal in mind, to make a monetary profit. These are businesses, and in business to make money (nothing wrong with that).

These news blogs ask good theological questions like Are Mormons Christians?, because they are hot-button topics, but they often give politically correct answers, ones rarely correct to true Christianity. The Mormon question is a great example, where the press wants to find some way for Christianity to accept Mormons as Christians. If they knew the differences between Christianity and what the Mormon’s say they believe, they would understand why this is just never going to happen (see a good article A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine). To a learned Christian, Mormons will never be considered “Christians,” even if the Mormon’s say they are, and that is just one small hot topic today of thousands.

I love the Discovery Channel series “Who is Jesus,” and the History Channel’s The Shroud of Turin, but taking serious Christian spiritual or doctrinal advise from these places would be like determining the true meaning of Christianity via the Discovery Channel and History Channel. Sadly, I’m guessing this is where many people in our culture today decide what true Christianity is and isn’t.

The truth of Christianity of course is only found from Scripture, period. If that’s so can a true biblical view also be presented to our culture by means of a secular for-profit company? I think Charles Schultz was one of the first to try and answer that question in our current day when he had Linus read from the book of Luke. After reading another blog post this morning asking “Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today?”, it made me think… how quickly could you/we/me answer the question? Would the answer come from our deep seeded bias’ we all carry, or would it be a Biblical answer?

There are almost countless ways to answer that question in truth, but here are two quick ways to explain the true and real meaning of Christianity. It’s simple… we make it complex.

  • John 13:35 Jesus says :: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (something also expanded on by Paul in Romans 12:9-21)
  • Romans 10:9-10 Paul says: That is the outpouring of our decision for Christ… “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”

Those are just two quick ways to answer that question, there are many more.

Does Freedom Mean Allowing Idiots to Burn the Quran?

I am truly amazed at how much press Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida is receiving for it’s planned burning of the Quran, or as they put it “International Burn a Koran Day” planned for this Saturday, September 11th. It truly shows how a message, any message good or bad, can spread in our world today. This is a 50 member “church” in a small town. Fifty members. How many millions of dollars will other churches (with far better messages) spend to get their message out, and much of the time with little effect. Our church, and many others like it, are helping to change lives locally, and all the way over in Africa, but that isn’t news of course.

Sometimes it is the “shock-and-awe” that makes a message go viral, and their message, Terry Jones’ message, has reached every corner of the earth at this point thanks to Hilary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus, Attorney General Eric Holder, CNN, Fox News (Orlando), and every high profile person who mentions the Quran burning. Even the Vatican (multiple times) and the White House has weighed in, all giving semi-credibility to this tiny little “outreach center” and their “look at us burning” party.

Other churches have tried this, like the one in North Carolina who created a sign that said “The Koran Needs to be Flushed” and was later forced to leave the SBC. If you dig into “Dove World Outreach” you will see they are a “church” who is mainly focused on the “shock-and-awe” of Islam, not on teachings of Christ and Christianity.

What I haven’t read in any of these reports however is that no matter how much stupidity they claim as their own, the lack of any true sensical Christian message they offer, and the Adolph-Hitler-Natzi-like event this seems to be, this country has fought to allow these freedoms, even if we don’t like them. We don’t fight for only those freedoms we like, but for all freedoms within the law. What would dilute their message today is to heavily vet “Dove World”, Terry Jones, and their other fifty members. Their Facebook page alone is enough to discredit them, and their “about” information for their church shows no focus on any doctrinal beliefs of Christ, yet, today, shock-and-awe wins out.

I do not use the term “idiot” lightly. The dictionary definition says this is “someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way”, and this is exactly what this group of 50 are doing, in many different aspects, but, in this country, they have the freedom to act like idiots, and others in turn have the freedom to condemn their actions as idiotic.

The Start of the Tea Party in America

Today all across the country people came out to protest the taxes and spending our government started months ago and has continued into present day. After flipping through the mainstream media outlets, even CNN, I have determined that they just don’t get it. They portray this to be a GOP or Republican thing and they are so far from understanding that people are fed up with our government overspending, growing larger and larger, and more importantly today, ever-increasing the taxation (in various forms) its citizens.

Protesters for Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn Photos

Today all across the country people came out to protest the taxes and spending our government started months ago and has continued into present day.  After flipping through the mainstream media outlets, even CNN, I have determined that they just don’t get it.  They portray this to be a GOP or Republican thing and they are so far from understanding that people are fed up with our government overspending, growing larger and larger, and more importantly today, ever-increasing the taxation (in various forms) its citizens.

The media downplayed the Tax Day Tea Parties as insignificant and just noise that only a few loons from the far right would attend but in city after city thousands of people have gathered to say enough is enough.  Even the Texas governor this morning said he was personally going to three different Tea Parties in the state of Texas, and as governors go, Texas holds a mighty powerful position in the Union.

It started out with large cities like Boston and Atlanta but soon enough there were small rural towns, and yes, even Auburn University, who played host to a local Tea Party.  Below are just a few of the images from the Tea Party in Auburn today out in front of the University library.  Sadly, even the signs were censored as you will see below.  One of the guys holds up the sign that says “Stop Over Spending” was told he could not hold up his sign, which originally said “Stop Obama Spending”.  He was made to cross out the Obama reference and told he couldn’t say that?

I guess Bush did do a bit of spending before he left office but come on, this guy should be able to hold up a sign that has the word Obama on it?  Like no one ever made a sign that had BUSH on it with far more hateful things than that.  Oh well, such is life in 2009.

Here are some of the photos from today’s protest (thanks Deb).

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

Tax Day Tea Party in Auburn

The 5 Most Useful Twitter Apps and Clients

We are just about to launch a new website (details coming closer to the end of the week) and Twitter is highly integrated into the framework of the website, so I thought I would highlight some of the better applications you can use with Twitter for Free (mostly).

People often ask me, “what is twitter”.  I should just write a post about that, but this is assuming you already know about Twitter, at least a little bit.  Some of you Twitterholics will recognize most of the top 5, but be sure to check out the ones at the bottom which I consider up and coming.

What Is Twitter?

If not, I have determined there is no one answer to “what is Twitter“, but for me, it is a free flowing exchange of ideas and thoughts with people who may have never been able to meet or contact in any other way.  I have talked to musicians, politicians, and a lot of other ians that I would never have access to before Twitter.  It is a two way street of course, but Twitter is far more than just “what am I doing”.

Because Twitter has made their service somewhat open (meaning they provide an API for their systems) there have been many people and companies that have developed great applications and services for twitter.  On a side note, I would argue (slightly) that Twitter is at risk of becoming the next AOL without making themselves a true open source project, but that is also for another post.

So if you are looking for some great things to do with Twitter, here is my short list.

1. The Ultimate Desktop Application, TweetDeck

TweetDeck for Twitter

If you read no farther than this first item, you have hit the best right off the top.  Tweetdeck is THE desktop application that pulls out the potential that is Twitter.  Tweetdeck really deserves a post all its own so I will make this recap brief.  Once you get to the point where you are following more than about 25 people on Twitter it is time to install Tweetdeck.

It allows you to add twitter groups to filter out different users (I have a group just for news where all Twitter news feeds like CNN, AP, etc, go so I can see them independently of all my other tweets.  You can view Twitscoup which is a live running tag cloud of converstions on Twitter, and of course you can send out new tweets with a shorten URL field for posting links.

2a. Mobile iPhone Apps :: Twitterific

Twitterific for Twitter

If you have an iPhone (or Blackberry), that will really unlock the potential of Twitter (a Blackberry will do but honestly, the apps really don’t compare to the iPhone, but they do have corresponding Blackberry apps too).  Twitterific is the place to start.  This free iPhone app is one of the best ways to follow a larger number of people with basic @reply, direct, and tweet functions.  You can also see user info and tag favorites within the iPhone app.

Some of the features I like about Twitterific is you can click through to links and photos and they open in a twitterific type browser on your iPhone that allow you to open and close without having to launch Safari.  What I have found that you can’t do, is see a list of your favorites, which is something I would like to do, but that is minor for what this app does.

2b. Mobile iPhone Apps :: Tweetie

iPhone App Tweetie

If you can ignore the name, Tweetie is probably hands down the best iPhone Twitter app available.  It costs $3.00 through your iTunes account but is well worth the price.  It has far more functionality than Twitterific (the free version) but I don’t find it quite as fast to use.  What you can do with this iPhone app that I have not found with any other desktop or mobile app is manage multiple accounts.

If managing multiple accounts is important to you, this is about the only way I know to do it without having to log out and log back into the other account.  For that I would have paid $10 for this mobile app.  Some of the other things you can do with Tweetie is view @replies on one page.  For those who complain that they are overwhelmed by the people following them and replying to them, Tweetie is built just for these popular Twitter divas (I love you. I really do€¦but€¦) who are just so popular on Twitter it is impossible to keep up with effectively on anything else.  I am going to pick on Anne Jackson just because I love her blog and her work in general (sorry Anne).

Tweetie is one application that will allow you to still follow the conversation with anyone and everyone that wants to send you an @reply without actually following them.  Just tap the button at the bottom for @replies and see all those replies coming in from people you don’t follow.  Tweetie also has several unique functions under the “more” section.  One that is really wild is the “nearby” link.  This will allow you to see who is close to your location by using the GPS on the phone.  I used this last time Deb and I went to Gulf Shores and it worked great.

3. Tweet Grader

Twitter Grader

Do you love stats.  Then Tweet Grader is for you.  Find out how you are doing amongst all the other Twitter users, find local people using Twitter, and see a host of different stats about your own usage.  This and the next one may be the vain uses of Twitter but I find them very very useful to help improve everything about how I use Twitter.

Tweet Grader, if you notice, is a user entered stat grade, and you can check anyone, not just your own Twitter ID (like mine here, still sitting at #6 in Twitter Auburn behind some great people).  This has several uses as well but all in all a great stat tool for Twitter.

4. Mr Tweet, the Networking Assistant

Mr Tweet for Twitter

This is the most recent addition to my Twitter life.  Mr Tweet is quickly becoming the most useful tool that I have found for Twitter.  Tag lined as “Your Personal Networking Assistant for Twitter”, it allows you to do three things. (a) find new people based on my recent activities, (b) find recent followers I am not following, and (c) check my own profile and usage stats.

What this does is pull data that you can probably not find by just surfing around.  It gives you useful information like how likely the person is to reply to your tweets, how many tweet per day they average, and what their network of followers looks like.  You have to follow Mr Tweet on twitter before they will start calculating your information, and it is updated every two weeks.

5. TwitPic

Twitpic on Twitter

Being a photographer (even one on Twitter), this is my favorite of all Twitter uses.  Twitpic has become an incredible source of information.  That actually posted one of the first photos of the US Air flight that crashed in Hudson river here http://twitpic.com/135xa.  It ended up almost crashing the Twitpic servers but it showed how useful Twitter is as a journalistic tool for everyday people.  This photo was one of the first to circulate the Internet after the crash.  It wasn’t by CNN or Foxnews, or MSNBC, it was by a Twitter users using Twitpic.

Twitpic is one of the easiest Twitter tools to use.  All you do is sign into Twitpic and they give you an email address that uploads to your twitter account.  You can take a photo with your cell phone (for those who have cell phone cameras) and upload it to twitter on the fly, right then and there on the spot.  Facebook has done this with their iPhone app so it works in a similar way if you are familiar with how that works.  If you don’t have a cell phone with a camera, just use the desktop uploader and start sharing your pics.

Are You Ready for Twitter Now?

So if that isn’t enough for you to ponder on Twitter, there are a few other cool tools of note.  With Twitter allowing the use of its API data there are almost endless applications available, but the great ones find a need and build upon that to make something we will find value in using.

  • Twhirl (desktop app)
  • Hashtags – a great search tool – http://hashtags.org/
  • Eventbox – combines all kinds of social sites
  • Summize – Twitter search, Summize before Twitter bought them, great job on this one
  • Twingly (http://www.twingly.com/) – something I am pretty hip on using right now
  • FriendFeed (another combining tool)
  • Dial2Do – very interesting tool that might prove very useful

So take the plunge and get started with Twitter.  Just don’t tell me no one cares what in the world I am doing.  It is far far more than just that.  It is a free network to exchange ideas and thoughts with the world.  Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter, here you go http://www.twitter.com/scottfillmer or @scottfillmer on Twitter.