Sunday, January 29, 2012

Location-Based Reminders for Android

Recently, I was headed to an appointment. My wife asked that I stop at the grocers on my way back. I thought to myself, “It would sure be nice if there was an app that would pop-up a reminder based on my leaving or arriving at a location.” When I got home later that day, I did a search for “location based reminder” and found three potential candidates.

The first two (GeoNote and RemindThat) are very similar. You set a location that you want, set the reminder text that you want to display, and you’re ready to go. That’s the essence of it. GeoNote has several more features as shown in the list below. (The “G” column is for GeoNote, the R column for RemindThat.)


Select either cellular network or GPS for resolving location.

1-button to disable service.
Set parameter of notification area.
Choose location by touching on map.
Choose location by manually inputting address.

Choose location by selecting option “current location.”
User-selectable sound notification.
Choose vibrate notification.
Set repeating reminder intervals.

Set off-peak hours (saves battery).
(Arrive only)
Choose to be reminded when leaving and/or arriving at location.
Delete note/location with long-press.

View map of currently set reminders.

As shown, the only feature RemindThat has that GeoNote does not is the ability to view the map of currently set reminders. However, you can merely view the list of those reminders. The review of both these products is of the free version. GeoNote has  a paid version that, according to its own notes, does nothing more than remove the ads. One final observation about RemindThat--It generated a “forced close” error while my phone (a Samsung Infuse) was in stand-by mode (sleeping).

If you find other features that you feel deserve mention, I'd be glad to revise my list. Admittedly, I only spent about an hour reviewing and "playing" with these apps. However, based on the features and performance, I would sooner recommend GeoNote over RemindThat.

Now moving onto the last app. It is a bit different in that its purpose is slightly different. The feature it offers can be done with the other two but for me it is nice to keep these types of notifications separate. The app is near2there. Its premise is that you may have a number of places you would like to visit sometime in the indefinite future. You may not have any particular plans to go there, but if you ever happen to be near that point-of-interest, you'd like to be reminded about it. For example, there is a restaurant I've been wanting to visit. Its only 30 miles away but it is a bit pricey and having been out of work for 9 months now, I'm not about to go there at this time. Nonetheless, I would like to keep it on my wish list.

That is where near2there comes in. You can set the reminder so that the next time you are in that area, it will pop-up a reminder message. You can either act on it or not.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mentoring--Lessons Learned

I am not a "professional" mentor. Just someone that authentically cares for people and tries to help where I can. My notes below are a personal reflection after having worked with a few people.

Teach by Example: The greatest lesson a mentor can provide is his own example. This is the lesson the mentee’s parents should have given. It is the lesson that all his (or her) “elders” should have given. But due to the times we are living in, sadly many today have not learned even the basics of wholesome living.

Be Patient: Sometimes the mentee does not want our help. These times may be growing periods for them. They want and need to “go it on their own.” Don’t take it personal or assume they have rejected you permanently. In time (sometimes a very l-o-n-g time), they will come around again. Always welcome them back. However, you do not have to tolerate mistreatment. Make it clear that there are rules in relationships.

Bonding: Though strong bonds can form between a mentor and his protege, it is always wise to let the mentee to take the initiative to make that bond. Coming from the mentor’s side, it can seem odd and awkward and put unnecessary strains on the mentee who needs to focus on their own growth and not another complexity.

While the bond may become close like family, it is never good for the mentor to become short tempered with his new friend, as if they really were family. What happens more often than not is that the mentee becomes hurt, taking the attitude, “You have no right to treat me that way. We aren’t really related.” Even if that sentiment is not verbalized, it could be internalized.

In most all cases, no matter how close the relationship becomes, what the mentee wants from the mentor is to continue to draw strength and insight. What will always appeal to the mentee about the mentor is their unselfish and calm direction.

Professional Distance: When the mentee makes bad choices or chooses to end relationships, the mentor needs to remember what the initial purpose was--providing help. Yes, mentors are human; yes, mentors have feelings too. But as mentor, the focus should always be the needs of the one we are helping.

With the aforementioned under consideration, the mentor also needs to look out for their own interests. There are people in this world that view those who authentically care for others as weak and something to prey on. As a mentor, I need to remember that sad fact. No matter how much I come to care for the person I am assisting, I need to watch for the signs of “being used.” Those include being asked for financial aid; being made to feel responsible for their (the mentee’s) actions; being befriended too quickly; and others.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On What Basis Can Christians Hope To Live Forever?

When I was first posed this question, for some reason it struck me odd. My knee-jerk response was to immediately say, "The Scriptures." What about you? How would you answer that question. Even if you feel it is a private matter, at the very least how would you answer it to yourself?

The reason I was not happy with my initial response was because I felt it was shallow. It implied that mere written words or some ominous bound volume impressed me. Scripture does impress me, but it is not my "hope." So then I thought deeper about it. But even my second answer seemed to miss the mark. What was it? "Christ's ransom sacrifice." After all, even Jesus himself said that he came to give his soul: "a ransom in exchange for many." So without that ransom, we wouldn't have a hope. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Cor.15:14)

But still, I felt as if I were missing the point. That is, until it hit me between the eyes....
I remembered a scripture that is over-used by many. For years you'd find it graffitied all over public areas. Yup, John 3:16. But what caught my attention was the first two words, "God loved..." Yes, God has a deep love for mankind. How deep? The verse continues "that he gave his only begotten son."

Would we, could we love people enough to sacrifice one of our children? This is truly love much greater than ours.

Indeed, God's love and commitment toward mankind--that IS something people CAN relate to-- heart-motivated love--this love is always a basis of hope. God's love explains why we have the scriptures chock full of his promises; it explains why we have the ransom that will unburden us from Adamic sin; it explains why we have this beautiful planet to live on.

But just because we are offered this hope through a loving gesture of God, does that mean it takes no obligation on our part? Still continuing in John 3:16, the verse itself answers that question, saying: "everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." (NWT, AMP, NIV) (While the NIV makes no attempt to clarify "believe on," at least the AMP helps the reader appreciate that more than some vague acknowledgement of Christ's existence and purpose is necessary. See "Note" below.)

What does "exercising faith" mean? Paul used some different words to help us understand more clearly. Writing to the those forming the "Hebrew" congregation he wrote that life or eternal salvation was offered to those that obey him. Hebrews 5:9 (AMP, NIV)

So obedience is the bottom line. Obedience is the way we exercise, demonstrate, make evident our faith. Merely believing is not obedience--the demons believe and yet, as James put it, they shudder! So then, our hope of living forever is based on God's love; administered through the ransom; contingent on our obedience & reinforced through the yet to be fulfilled promises in the scriptures.

I could think of no better conclusion than Paul’s words at (Romans 15:13) “May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.”

In the Publisher's Forward of the AMP, the following insight about the word rendered "believe" (in this example as found in Acts 16:31) is offered: "... the Greek word which twenty-two New Testament versions out of twenty-four consulted render 'believe.' They do so because there is no one English word that adequately conveys the intended meaning. Actually, the Greek word used here for believe is 'pisteuo.' It means 'to adhere to, cleave to; trust, have faith in; to rely on.' Consequently, the words, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ....' really mean to have an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior." (End quote.) Thus, the NWT's chosen rendering of "exercising faith" demonstrates the active (not passive), current-tense, continuously-demonstrated, feature of real faith.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Neti Pot, Take Two

When I wrote this post back in December 2010, I was relatively new to the Neti Pot. Now, after 1 year of experience, I am revisiting the subject.

Measuring the Salt: I now keep a salt grinder (similar to a pepper grinder) filled with rock salt. Twelve twists on the cap into a large coffee cup is the measuring I use.

Hot Purified Water: After putting in the salt, I fill the cup with hot purified water and stir until the water is clear. (The salt will cloud the water until it dissolves.) This eliminates the boiling and storage and re-heating process, thus simplifying it a great deal. (Note: originally I had written "hot tap water," however recent studies are finding that the impurities in tap water can have severe consequences including death.)

Cold Water When Stuffed Up: When your sinuses are swollen ("stuffed up") no amount of hot water is going to unplug it. In fact, hot water will just make the situation worse. What I just discovered is that when your sinuses are swollen, use cold water. This will reduce the swelling and the water will run through.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reaching Out

Its easy, when you've been unemployed for a long period of time, to take a negative viewpoint on many things. People become soured about the controlling political power not providing jobs, become soured over their inability to buy, become soured over the news reports that seem to indicate that the economy is improving when, in fact, nobody they know sees it.

I can’t say I’m jumping for joy that I’ve been out of work for more than 8 months now. I can’t say that I’m elated that out of the uncountable attempts to find work, it hasn’t even resulted in one interview. Note, I didn't say a positive interview or a negative interview.  Just an interview, period!

When I first lost my job, I did a meet-n-greet with one particular agency that gave me the impression they’d have me working in less than two weeks. Now I can’t even get them to return my calls. I was told by the agent that my skills were very refined and there was not much competition in the market. My knowledge of MS-Excel is so extensive that I’m probably in the upper 10-percentile meaning that few can match my knowledge. I know that while I was employed at AT&T, no one in my team of over 400 had the knowledge I did. I was called on to fix even VBA routines that others had written and was “broken.” At one point, my boss was so impressed that she had people from other organizations within AT&T contacting me to assist them with problems. I really felt valued. So it has been a bit of a shock that I haven’t found work yet.

I've joked about becoming a greeter at Wal-Mart. But then I’m probably too young (at 60). (Yes, that was my weak attempt at finding humor in a sad situation.)

My age is one thing. It seems no one wants a person in my age bracket. Employers can hire much younger individuals for much less money and intimidate them into producing the output they want. Folks my age and with my experience-level don’t tolerate that treatment. But then, from what I am seeing of the present economy, there is no particular age group that is immune from being members of the unemployed ranks.

However, in my case, my age is not the only thing. I have CLL (the least aggressive form of leukemia). When I was first diagnosed in October of 2010, I was told they discovered the disease in the very early stages and that even without treatment, I’d still have another dozen or so years of life. More than year later, after bi-monthly blood tests, the condition is worsening ever-so-slightly. There are days when I have such bad dizzy spells that I need to lay down and rest. There are mornings that I wake up completely soaked from profuse night-sweats (both are symptoms of the condition). Still, the oncologist feels I am only at the very beginning of the condition and says he plans no treatments of any sort nor has he prescribed any meds for the condition.

Given my symptoms, I sense that it is unlikely I could hold down another typical Monday thru Friday, 8-hours-a-day job. I know I need to try. I’ve tried earnestly to find something that would allow me to work from home—all to no avail. There is one possible opportunity, but even if it works out, the potential for earning a living will be a very slow-growth situation. I know a CPA whose customers are mostly small businesses that use Excel but not as proficiently as they could. After learning of my skills, this CPA felt we could work together to develop a mutually beneficial partnership. It sounds like it is exactly what I need. But even after a couple months of working together, I’ve barely generated enough for a dinner-for-two at a moderately priced restaurant. It’s nobody’s fault. He’s just very busy with his CPA work.

So what’s the bottom line, after all this reflection? As I started out saying, people can become very negative. I've found that feeling sorry for myself, feeling anger about being laid off, feeling frustration over not finding work is counterproductive and self destructive. I’ve realized that focusing inward is not the solution. I’ve kept myself busy reaching people with the Bible’s message. I find in my outreach efforts, that there are plenty of people that are much worse off than I am—mostly because of all the things that are and are not going right in their lives, the one thing that is really damaging them is their lack of understanding from a spiritual perspective. In contrast, my faith in Jehovah, the God of the Bible, and his son Jesus Christ is unwavering. Even though the situations with my unemployment and my health are discouraging, I at least have a well-anchored belief that I can intelligently converse over. This alone I feel has kept me grounded with a positive frame of mind.

But even those without faith might be able to glean something from my ramblings—try community work of some sort. It can be rewarding and restore a degree of self-worth.

Why do I share these reflections? I hope that by doing so it may touch someone, anyone, that is looking to make some sense of the times we are living in.