Tag Archive: import

Sep 06

Google Chrome Tip #2: Importing Firefox Portable Bookmarks

 Currently, Google Chrome will only import Bookmarks from an installed version of Firefox. I use Firefox Portable exclusively, but unfortunately, Google Chrome does not recognize it as an import source. So, if you are a Firefox Portable user, here’s a quick and dirty method of getting all of your existing Firefox bookmarks into Google Chrome….

This process assumes that you are using the “Firefox Portable” application found at http://PortableApps.com, and that you do not have Firefox “installed” on your PC. If you already have Firefox installed on your PC, doing this will probably mess up your current installation to the point that you may need to re-install Firefox and re-build all of your customizations. Be sure to back up your Firefox Portable directory because you don’t want to do anything to mess up your working version. I take no responsibility if you mess things up.

Also, the specific directories listed here refere to Windows XP directories. As I get the information for Vista, I will update this article.

First, close any instances of Firefox that you may have open.

Next, backup your Firefox Portable folder. Just copy it. It may take a few minutes. This will give you a backup should anything happen to your original folder.

Next, download and install Firefox. You can go to http://GetFirefox.com for the latest version. Launch the installer and install Firefox. You can keep all of the defaults as you will be uninstalling it later.

When the install completes, Launch the newly installed version of Firefox once to initialize itself.

Now, close Firefox.

OK, at this point, you can follow two paths depending on how much you want to import into Chrome:

Option 1. Import only Bookmarks into Google Chrome

This first method simply does an export, and import, and anoter import of your Firefox Bookmarks. If all you want to do is make your Bookmarks available in Google Chrome, this is probably the easiest method.

Close the installed version of Firefox, open Firefox Portable, and click the “Bookmarks” menu item and select “Organize Bookmarks”. In the new window, click the “Import and Backup” button on the top and select “Export HTML…”. Give it a filename, and click the Save button.

Now, close Firefox Portable and launch the newly installed version of Firefox. Click the “Bookmarks” menu item and select “Organize Bookmarks”. In the new window, click the “Import and Backup” button on the top and select “Import HTML…”.

When the Import Wizard opens, select “From an HTML file” and click the “Next” button. Select the filename you saved above, and click the “Open” button. Your bookmarks are now imported into the installed version of Firefox.

Take this moment to re-organize your bookmarks to your preferences and then close Firefox.

Finally, open Google Chrome and click on the “Customize and control Google Chrome” button (the Wrench icon in the upper right) and select “Import Bookmarks and Settings”. Select Mozilla Firefox from the dropdown and check only the “Favorites/Bookmarks” checkbox and click Import.

Your Portable Firefox bookmarks are now imported into Google Chrome!

You can now skip down to the CLEANUP section to complete things.

Option 2. Import all bookmarks, Search Engines, Saved passwords, and Browsing History into Google Chrome

This second method will let you import much more personal data into Google Chrome. It’s actually fairly easy. Just be sure you do NOT do this on a previously existing installed version of Firefox as you will mess it up if you do.

With this method, you simply copy your “profile” from your Firefox Portable folder to your installed Firefox folder, launch the installed version of Firefox, and then import into Google Chrome.

You should have a portable version of Firefox and a freshly installed version of Firefox. Close all instances of Firefox.

First, open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to the location of your Firefox Portable folder. You should see the following three folders: plugins, profile, and settings. Open the profile folder.

Now, open another Windows Explorer window and navigate to settings folder for your installed version of Firefox. It’s buried deep–you need to look here: (Note: This path is for Windows XP)

C:Documents and Settings{username}Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles

…where {username} is the user you are currently logged into.

You should see a single folder called {something}.default where the {something} is some numbers and letters. This differs from machine to machine. Open that folder.

Now, go back to your first Firefox Portable folder and do a “Select All” on all of the files and then select “Copy”.

Now, go back to the seconf Explorer window (the {something].default folder) and Paste what you copied. A “Confirm Folder Replace” popup will display. Click “Yes to All” and all of the required Firefox Portable data will be copied. This may take several minutes.

Next, launch the installed version of Firefox. Check the Bookmarks to verify that they are there and reofganize them if you want.

Close Firefox.

Finally, open Google Chrome and click on the “Customize and control Google Chrome” button (the Wrench icon in the upper right) and select “Import Bookmarks and Settings”. Select Mozilla Firefox from the dropdown and check the checkboxes of what you want to Import and then click “Import”.

Your Portable Firefox bookmarks, Search Engines, Saved Passwords, and browsing History are now imported into Google Chrome!

Now, just uninstall yout “installed” version of Firefox by clicking Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Select Mozilla Firefox, click the Remove button, and follow the prompts.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/google-chrome-tips/google-chrome-tip-2-importing-firefox-portable-bookmarks

Feb 26

iPod Touch Review: “January Upgrade” Applications

Apple released a firmware update (v1.1.3) providing some system tweaks and bug fixes, but it also came with a controversial upgrade that included 5 additional applications and some enhanced system functionality. What made it so controversial was that Apple charged $20 for the applications and enhanced functions. Some of the applications are simple, and some are full-featured, but they all add excellent functionality. I think they give us a great taste of what is to come. Read on to see the details of these new applications….

Here is a brief rundown and commentary on the new applications and enhancements:

iPod Touch - Mail


This is a surprisingly feature-rich and very useful POP/IMAP/Exchange multi-account email client. I use Gmail, and it auto-configures, connects, and syncs to my Gmail account very well. What's most useful is that it maintains a (user-selectable) number of messages offline, so you can read, reply to, and manage these messages while offline. All changes or sends get updated the next time you go online. Though it is not without its quirks, it is a very solid application. To me, one of the most useful feature is that the Mail app will download and let you view a number of attachment types including .PDF, Word, and Excel files in a viewer component that provides Multitouch zooming, panning and screen rotation. Can't wait for an eBook application to be developed? Just Email yourself a document, and you can read it offline.

iPod Touch - Maps


This is an amazing application. It is a standalone Google Maps application that has some offline capabilities. You can view the map, satellite, and hybrid views as well as traffic if (available.) It uses Multitouch to zoom in and out of maps, and you can search for destinations as well as define routes. And once you have a route set and downloaded, you can easily and quickly step through the route while offline. It displays the route text as well as the map surounding each route point. Though Maps only provides for one offline route, it's still a very elegant and impressive application.

iPod Touch - Notes


To me, this one application was worth the price of the cost of the upgrade (with a couple minor caveats.) Being able to quickly and easily add information into the iPod Touch on-the-go is very important to me, and is an essential PIM component. The Notes application is simple, yet very functional and fun to use. Its animation, though not necessary for function, was unexpected and is very pleaseing. Editing uses the fingertip keyboard entry, but it's very usable.

So far, I only have two complaints with the Notes application: The first one is minor–I would like to be able to control the sorting of the notes, specifically being able to sort alphabetically. Notes are sorted by last modification date which is really not a big deal, but as you get more and more notes, this could become cumbersome. My second complaint is that Notes does not sync with anything through iTunes. The files may be backed up, but they are not editable or accessible. I think this is a huge oversight on Apple's part, and I hope that Apple releases a version that will sync with Outlook or some such. (Hmmm…how about WiFi syncing with Google Notes?) I'd also like to see it optionally sync to and from .txt text files through iTunes. Being able to enter notes on a computer using a real keyboard is really essential for long text entry, and could leverage Notes as an extremely useful reference tool.

iPod Touch - Weather


This slick little weather application is simple: Define one or more locations, and when you open the application while WiFi is connected, it pulls in the current and forecasted weather conditions for the location. The weather data comes from Yahoo, and is presented in a very clean graphic format.

iPod Touch - Stocks


This little application will let you define several stocks to track, and like the Weather application, it will go out onto the Internet via WiFi and pull in the latest stock and index quotes with corresponding graphs.

Web Clips

This is an integration enhancement that lets you save a Bookmark of a Web page in Safari as an icon on your iPod Touch's Home page. This means that, for example, next to your Calculator icon, you can have a tappable link directly to the CNN home page. It works on any Web page, and makes access to your desired Web pages a snap.

Customized Home Page

This system enhancement lets you move around and order the icons on the iPod Touch's Home page. It supports up to nine pages of icon groupings, so you can more logically organize your applications and Web Clips. You can also customize what icons appear on the Dock.

Bottom Line

So the bottom line is that Apple has provides some excellent applications and enhancements. Is it worth your $20? That completely depends on your needs and wants, but for me, it was well worth it.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-review-january-upgrade-applications

Feb 25

iPod Touch Review: “Jailbreaking”

Jailbroken iPod TouchI’m going to get this topic out of the way early on, as it is a topic that is taboo in many circles, but important, none the less. I am not going to explain here how to Jailbreak your iPhone/iPod Touch–a Google search can lead you where you need to go for those details. I am going to explain what Jailbreaking is, the reasons behind Jailbreaking, some cautions, why I Jailbroke my iPod Touch, and what you can do with a Jailbroken iPod Touch. So read on to see my experience with Jailbreaking my iPod Touch…

“Jailbreaking” is a method of hacking your iPhone/iPod Touch such that you can install and run third-party applications. It is typically done by taking advantage of one of several vulnerabilities in the iPod Touch’s software. These vulnerabilities, could conceivably be used to spread malicious code such as trojans and viruses, but in this case, it has one intention: install a small, yet powerfull application called Installer.app. Once installed and launched, Installer.app provides several important functions: Connect to one of many user-definable application repositories to select, download, and install those applications; manage updates; uninstall applications; and to manage the sources of those repositories. It’s currently at version 3 and is a very solid and well-developed application.

One of the original (and for many, current) intentions of Jailbreaking was to be able to unlock your iPhone so the user could use a different SIM card, thus “freeing” you from AT&T. I’m not going to address the legal ramifications of this, but suffice it to say, a huge side effect of a Jailbroken iPhone was that you could install and run other applications as well. Thus the Installer.app was born. Obviously, the iPod Touch does not have phone capabilities, so the only reason to Jailbreak an iPod Touch is to provide the ability to run additional applications. And it is proving to be a very useful feature.

As a word of caution, it is important to understand that Jailbreaking your iPhone/iPod Touch is not supported by Apple. Any applications you install are considered “unauthorized” because they are not digitally signed or distributed by Apple. It is obvious that one of Apple’s design goals is to provide a product that requires as little support as possible. By Apple controlling what gets installed, the likelihood of support issues goes way down. When you let the user install whatever applications come along, you raise the potential for support issues. In fact, there have actually been a couple instances of malware that slipped into the applications available to Jailbroken devices to which Apple promptly says, “I told you so.”

Further, some methods of Jailbreaking, if not followed precisely, can leave your iPhone/iPod Touch in a “bricked” state turning it into a sleek-looking multi-hundered dollar paperwight. And some people have either had problems with the Jailbreaking process, or simply don’t understand the process resulting in a messed up device. The bottom line here is that as an iPhone/iPod Touch owner, you really have two choices: Follow Apple’s upgrade and support path, or venture out on your own into the world of jailbreaking. (One point of note is that currently, in almost all cases, simply doing a simple “restore” through iTunes will bring your Jailbroken iPod Touch back to a “stock, non-jailbroken state.)

So once you have Jailbroken yout iPod Touch, what can you do? Well, launching the Installer.app application reveals a modest list of available applications. One of the categories is called “Sources” which, if installed, add yet more application repositories, expanding your list of available applications. And all of these applications are true, honest-to-goodness applications ranging from very simple to amazingly sophistocated. From eBook readers to games to UI enhancements, the list is vast. And yes, you can even install Apache, turning your iPod Touch into a full-blown Web server!

So why did I Jailbreak my iPod Touch? Installation of third-party applications is obvious, but it went deeper. My original goal was to try out the various applications that were being developed to get a feel for the true capabilities of the iPod Touch. Folks, the results really were amazing. Many of the applications I played around with showed off what the iPod Touch can do, and many were amazingly professional. If the skill and imagination of the authors of Jailbroken applications is any indication of what is to come once Apples releases it’s forthcoming Software Development Kit (more on tha later) we have lots of exciting times ahead of us!

I’m currently running firmware v1.1.3, and I purchased the “January Update” applications (more on that later.) After jailbreaking, I have installed a nice suite of applications, utilities, and tools that have transformed my iPod Touch from an advanced media player to a powerful entertainment and information resource. Here is an example of what I have installed and use regularly:

advanced calculator
eBook reader with the full text of the KJV Bible, many of the U.S. Founding documents, several works of Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe, the five books of the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, and a number of other eBooks
Dictionary containing one of Miriam Webster’s dictionaries
Sketch Pad to jot hand-drawn notes
Wiki2Touch, an amazing offline Wikipedia application providing the entire text content of Wikipedia–offline
And a few games

Here are some screenshots of several of the applications:
Books - eBook Reader Wiki2Touch - Offline Wikipedia Reader

Sketches - Freehand drawn notes PDFViewer - View PDF files

iSolitaire - Beautiful card game Term-vt100 - Internal Terminal window

MACalc - Advanced Calculator

And all this leaves me well over 4GB of space to load up my favorite photos, songs, and a few videos.

I have high hopes for Apple’s direction in releasing their SDK, and I hope that even a small portion of what I’ve seen on my Jailbroken iPod Touch is “officially” made available. But until then, I’m enjoying the vast resources in my pocket.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/ipod-touch-tips/ipod-touch-review-jailbreaking

Oct 08

I Think I “Get It”

Obviously I still have a lot to learn about Freemasonry having only recently been passed to the second degree. So until I progress further, I can really only comment on my current knowledge and exposure to Freemasonry as a Fellow Craft. But of what I do understand now, I think I “get it” concerning just what Freemasonry is all about, and in many ways more importantly, what it is not.

I was driving home the other evening from some first degree work at another lodge, and I was thinking about the work. It got me thinking about all of the anti-masonic stuff I’ve read on the ‘Net. It got me thinking about what it’s all about…just what are the basics…the simple explanation. As I see it, once you pare it all down to its core, it all just seems so simple:

I see an organization comprised of men who have each taken the initiative to learn how to join the organization; who are ultimately granted membership through initiation; who obligate themselves to commit to the ideals of the organization and to not disclose its secrets; who commit to learn the material required to advance in the two remaining degrees; and who ultimately commit themselves to abide by a code of good conduct to improve their character, to embrace the pursuit of knowledge, and to help their fellow man. I believe that in knowing a man to be a Mason, you can be assured that he has experienced all of what I just described, and that he should be trusted to be held to what he has experienced. How that man conducts himself is ultimately his personal responsibility, so being a Mason is, by no means, a guarantee that he will improve himself, but he is provided with the tools to conduct himself in a manner that is very atypical, especially today. And so far, my impression of the men who I know to be Masons is much higher than I ever thought.

So that’s about it! Is there more to Freemasonry? Of course! But at its basic level, it just seems so simple. It’s unfortunate that so many seem to really complicate it.

This is my fourteenth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/i-think-i-get-it-2

Sep 25

Passed to the Second Degree!

Tonight, I had the honor of being passed to the second degree of Fellow Craft. It was a bit unnerving at first because my coaches have had very, busy work schedules, so I didn’t have as much time to work with them as I would have liked. But in the end, I actually did quite well. Originally, we had three candidates scheduled, but unfortunately, one had a work commitment that he could not get out of, so it was two of us receiving our second degree. Hopefully, he will be able to have his second degree in the next week or so. The examination part actually went quite smoothly with only a couple minor glitches. Though we had not practiced together, it probably was hard to tell as we each knew our stuff.

The second degree lecture, like the first, was impressive, but went much deeper, and it was given so well. The man giving it had not done it in over seven months, and he was asked just the night before if he would like to give it. With very minimal prompting, he gave it almost flawlessly. And was it an interesting lecture! The night ended in some good fellowship, and lots of congratulations.

As I was driving home, I had to call my dad and let him know that I had gotten my second degree. Being a Master Mason, he was proud. Kinda fun following in at least some of my father’s footsteps! Depending on the timing of things, he will be visiting in the Fall, so he might be able to visit while I receive my third degree. We’ll see.

Over the past three months since my initiation, I had the opportunity to attend five other first degrees–three at my lodge, and two at other local lodges. That really helped clarify and reinforce some of the material. Of note was some first degree work done in Townville, SC where the local Sherrif’s department conducted the initiation. It was very impressive seeing uniformed police officers doing all of the work to initiate one of their fellow officers. The the work was very well done. It’s great to see community leaders dedicated to Godly work of integrity. I have always had great respect for people in law enforcement, but this really raised the bar. Oh, and at some first degree work at my local lodge, they asked me if I wanted to sit as a Junior Deacon! That was lots of fun and it let me be right in the middle of things. Again, it helped me in preparing for my second degree. I hope to be able to participate like that again soon.

I have decided not to coast too long after getting my second degree. I’m kind of on a roll, so why not maintain the momentum? I need to wait at least 28 days before I can go for my third degree, so I could conceivably get it at the end of October, but I’m not going to rush it unnecessarily. I want to try to do better with the third degree than I did with the second, so if it does take longer, so be it.

So, my journey continues, and as I learn more and more about Freemasonry, I am coming to understand more of what it is, and more importantly, what it is not. I’ve had some excellent discussions with fellow Christians, non-Christians, Masons, and non-Masons, and I am very comfortable in my decision to pursue Masonry. I’ll keep you updated as I continue onward.

This is my twelfth article on my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/passed-to-the-second-degree

May 11

Moving Forward

A couple days ago, I received a letter from the Lodge secretary officially informing me that the Lodge had voted on and accepted my petition, an investigating committee was formed, and that they would contact me soon. The letter also said that the results of the committee would be presented and voted on at the June 5 meeting.

I called the secretary to let him know that I received the letter, and he was great to talk with! Unlike the letter, he was very informal. He was friendly, and gave me some additional information about what to expect from the investigating committee. Again, it was all very informal. I’m anxious to meet with the Lodge members (so far, I’ve only met just a couple.) If the balance of the membership is anything like the several Masons I have recently met, I think I’ll be in good company!

One point of note is that I was very intrigued by one aspect of the letter, just as I was by the petition: the wording, the embossed Lodge seal, the formality. But it wasn’t just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo. It had an air of historical relevance or rootedness. It had a formality about it that is very unusual for this time. It’s difficult to articulate, but these points are things that paint a picture of seriousness and importance. On one hand, I see informal Masons, and yet I see seriousness in the administration that I don’t see anywhere else.

So, I continue to wait while the process moves forward, but the waiting has been very fruitful. As I stated in earlier posts, I’ve been reading and reading and reading. I’m so fascinated by the history and the symbolism, and can’t wait to go deeper to learn more.

Oh, and the Blogs. Wow! I have found a number of Masonic blogs that I frequent, and have read lots of great (and not so great) articles spanning the spectrum of Masonic blogging. Some of the articles are a bit over my head, simply because haven’t been exposed to some of the discussed content, but overall, I’m enjoying some great reads. And I am especially enjoying the blogs by prospective and new Masons. It’s interesting and encouraging to read the stories and personal experiences of others around the world. Hopefully, someone out there will find my musings interesting!

Finally, one visitor here asked me where I’m from, inquiring that maybe I live near him. Well, I’m currently living in Anderson, South Carolina in the good ol’ U.S.A, having moved a few years ago from the Chicago area. Anderson is in the beautiful Upstate of South Carolina where my wife and I are enjoying the open spaces, friendly people, a deep Faith, and solid morals of most of the people we have met. No, it’s not Eden, but it’s a fresh change from the big city life of Chicago.

Oh, and I also found out that there are three Lodges in my area. Maybe that’s not unusual for a dense, metropolitan area, but for a town of 27,000 in a county of about 175,000, it seems like a lot. And the consensus among the Masons I spoke with is that all are fine Lodges.

More later as things progress….

This is my seventh article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/moving-forward

Apr 16

A Time of Waiting and Patience

I told my Mason friend from church that I was reading the book “Freemasons For Dummies”. Though he had not heard of it, he was pleased to see that I was taking the initiative to learn and study Freemasonry. I told him that I was getting anxious about waiting for the process to unfold, and he said that this is “a time of waiting and patience”. In some Lodges, things can move forward very quickly. In others, things can take a while. For me, it seems to be the later. I want things to move forward, and I know they are (apparantly a lot happens behind the scenes) it’s just that sometimes I don’t like waiting. But you know, it’s a good lesson in patience that I’m grateful for.

I’m really enjoying reading and learning the history of Freemasonry. I’m almost done with the “Freemasons For Dummies” book, and I continue to be fascinated by what it presents. For example, I never knew that the Boy Scounts and its honor organization the “Order Of The Arrow” (OA) had some roots in Freemasonry. While they are not Masonic organizations, many of their founders were Masons, and Masonic influence is very evident in ceremonies and moral teachings. This really hit home for me because I received the Eagle Scout award while I was a Scout, and I was elected by my troop to receive the Ordeal honor in OA (Ordeal being the the first “level” of OA) and I later took the Brotherhood honor. In college, I pledged the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, which is an offshoot of the Boy Scouts. It did have its social elements, but its main goal was brotherhood and service.

So I do have some familiarity with involvement in fraternal organizations, and I have had the honor of achieving goals of moral and fraternal importance. As an adult, I am no longer active in these organizations, but interestingly, the Scout Oath and Law, and the OA Obligation do cross my mind frequently. I guess the lessons I learned as a child form those organizations have stuck with me.

So, as I continue to wait and be patient, I also continue to read my book, and explore online. Despite the proliferation of anti-Masonic articles, there are many informative and interesting articles and blogs to explore. It’s very interesting to read the history of Freemasonry, how it has influenced society, and, more importantly, what other Masons went through and how they perceive Freemasonry.

This is my fifth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/a-time-of-waiting-and-patience

Apr 10

Some Patience and More Research

Patience. It’s a virtue, and it’s seems to be required of becoming a mason. It can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding. In this day and age, we are so compelled to the here and now, to the immediacy, to the urgency of everything. The mere thought of having to wait days, weeks, or possibly even months to find out if I can join can be very frustrating. But during this time of waiting, I see two important points coming to the surface: perspective and time.

First, the waiting helps me put things into perspective. I’ve discovered that Freemasonry is not just a club to join, or an event to go to. It will hopefully be a life-long experience. Jumping into something for the wrong reasons is never good, so having the opportunity to try to better understand just what it’s all about will hopefully let me make a clear decision instead of a hasty one.

Second, I decided to use this waiting period to learn more about Freemasonry–to do some more research. I found a number of informative blogs written by people who have recently become Masons, detailing their personal experiences. Many contain personal accounts of the steps they followed, the processes, the experiences, and how it impacted them. It’s been interesting reading!

Of note is the “Horseshoes and Handgernades” blog. For me, this site brought all the “heady” historical and impersonal facts down to a personal level as it recounts one man’s journey through the degrees of Freemasonry. And the more I read, the more I wanted to know the outcome! But that’s for some time in the future, because he’s still progressing. What a great read!

That site and others, recommend the book “Freemasons for Dummies” by Christopher Hodapp. I usually avoid “Dummies” books, but this one comes highly recommended (and it was at my local bookstore!) So I purchased it and I’m currently reading it. It’s rich with lots of easy-to-understand history and information, and even covers some of the more “secretive” elements of the ritual ceremonies. But fear not. It makes some excellent notations about the “secret” information: First, it doesn’t reveal any “true secrets” of the Craft, so anything that it does reveal doesn’t compromise the integrity or the experience of Freemasonry. And second, there is a recommendation at the beginning of the “Ceremonies” chapter that clearly states that the chapter does contain some information that, though not secret, may “spoil” the experience for you if you are considering joining. Fortunately, there’s so much more in the book that avoiding that one chapter until later should not be a problem. I chose to not read that chapter.

I’ve learned a lot about what Freemasonry is (and isn’t), its history, its involvement in history, and its beliefs. And I’ve only scratched the surface. So, I continue to wait, and continue to learn more about the history of Freemasonry, and I continue to read about some of the personal experiences on other sites. I’m finding it fascinating, informative, and exciting, and I’m eager to see how things unfold.

This is my fourth article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/some-patience-and-more-research

Apr 10

My Journey Begins

It seems that the topic of Freemasonry can pop up just about anywhere. I was having breakfast with a friend from church when the subject of Freemasonry came up. My friend is not a mason, but he told me that a number of our church members are. I had seen a lapel pin here and there on several of them, but I never gave it much thought. But after hearing a brief list of some church members who were Masons, I was intrigued. My first thought was, “How can these blatantly Godly men be Satan worshipers?” Obviously, I had some pre-conceptions of Freemasonry, so I decided to do some research to see just what it was all about. So began my journey.

Being an Internet geek, I started at the obvious places: Google and Wikipedia. As with most topics on the Internet, I was overwhelmed by the volume of information. It was also a bit discouraging because it seemed that for all the positive and informative Masonic sites I found, there were just as many if not more negative and anti-Masonic sites. On one hand, I read information on pro-Masonic sites that sounded above board and legitimate, and on the other hand, I read the conspiracy theories and claims about Freemasonry’s supposed “true” origins, involvements, and agendas. Some of these sites are quite convincing, and they do have some excellent information, but after a while, I became skeptical of many of the claims of the anti-Masonic view. I was reading one  anti-Masonic blog that appeared to have some excellent and interesting information…up to the point where it referenced the “Moon Landing Hoax”! That’s when the alarm bells went off, and I realized that my perusal of Masonic information had simply confirmed what I have always known: The Internet continues to be filled with lots of crackpots and paranoid people sporting tin-foil hats.

Are some of the anti-Masonic sites worth reading? In fairness, I have to say yes. After all, I believe that it’s important to understand all sides of an issue. Just try to be discerning about what both sides have to say. It was at this point that I stumbled upon the site MasonicInfo.com. At first, I thought it was yet another anti-Masonic site. But it turns out that it is a very pro-Masonic site that includes lots of interesting anti-Masonic information with responses, rebuttals, and explanations from a Masonic perspective. I found it to be very informative, and I was impressed that it presented both sides of the story. I especially liked the “Masonic Primer” section which contains lots of interesting historical and practical information about the “who”, “what”, and “why” of Freemasonry. For anyone interested in Freemasonry, I suggest you check this site out. It is rich with information, and well worth the read.

One interesting consistency I found with many pro-Masonic sites is that they tend to provide just enough information to get you interested in what Freemasonry is, but they don’t reveal everything about it. Many Masons will tell you that there are many things about Freemasonry that simply need to be experienced. In contrast, many of the anti-Masonic sites tend to want to reveal everything to the visitor. Again, this makes sense, as the apparent goal of many anti-Masonic sites is to “expose” Freemasonry. If you want to read the details of the rituals, and learn all of Freemasonry’s “secrets”, there are numerous sources, and they are available. But if you are at all interested in joining, then I’d recommend that it’s probably best to avoid those sources and just experience things as they come. I’ve chosen not to dig too deep, for should I decide to join, I don’t want to “spoil” anything.

Do take the time to research and learn. There are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings about what Freemasonry is and isn’t. Heck, if nothing else, you are in for some interesting reading!

This is my first article about my experience in Freemasonry.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/masonic-tips/my-journey-begins

Jan 03

SageTV Tip #6: STV Import Modules

The second type of SageTV customization is the STV Import Module, or "STVi". These plugins get imported into the default STV to provide additional features and functions. By simply installing a couple of these plugins, you can really improve upon SageTV’s already amazing core features. Read on to learn about some of the best SageTV STVi’s available….

For me, this is where SageTV really shines. By letting third-party developers create innovative plugins, SageTV has enabled the user to tailor his SageTV experience in ways that SageTV probably never dreamed of.

Below is the current list of Plugins. The descriptions should be pretty self-explanatory, but I did provide links for you to see the details if you want. Note that the STVi’s marked with an "*" are the ones that I have installed on my SageTV system. I find these to be the best mix for my needs.

Some of these STVi’s are very simple, and some are ambitiously sophisticated. Ii all cases, they provide you, the viewer, with enhanced functions that you can tailor to your needs.

The best place to learn about these STVi’s and other SageTV customizations is to visit "SageTV Customizations" forum, and notably, the "List of available customizations" page in that forum.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/sagetv-tips/sagetv-tip-6-stv-import-modules

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