My thoughts on religion…

I typically keep to myself when it comes to religion…it’s very much like politics as everyone has their own slant or view and if you don’t believe what they believe then you’re viewed as in need of help or “prayer” to guide you to the “right” answer.

Christians base their entire reasoning on a single man and his followers that existed over two thousand years ago…fine, not a problem with that. I base my reasoning that the world is round not based on actually seeing it in person but based on pictures that I’ve seen and what I’ve been told by scientists so both science and religion is largely based on the recounts and expertise of others either in person or in written word.

This is where things begin to clash a little…when science meets religion and it seems like in today’s world you have to choose one or the other, not both because each has so many polar opposite views that it is largely impossible to mesh them together. That is, unless you take the Bible for what it is which is simply a huge book of parables.

Let’s take the story of Noah’s Ark. It’s an outlandish story by all scientific accounts. In fact, it has been proven many times over that there simply isn’t enough water on Earth to cover the entire planet, even if you melted all of the ice in the polar regions. What is more believable is a regional Noah’s Ark where a community flooded. Obviously this doesn’t give the same ‘wow’ factor that the Biblical Noah’s Ark story gives though.

I think humanity gives into the notion that someone else is in control of their entire lives and the world around them. “It’s horrible that someone has cancer but it’s ok because God will heal them if we pray over them long enough.” If you truly believe in prayer then why even bother with modern medicine? If God can part the Red Sea or wipe the Earth clean with a master flood, then why wouldn’t God be able to heal a simple thing like cancer? The Church has become very good at validating things we do by interpretation, but only if it is beneficial to their cause.

Many will say that in order to be a true Christian that you must believe the Bible as literal fact or at the very least believe it as it is recounted for by the Church through interpretation. I can’t and I don’t believe that God literally created humans or animals or even the Earth magically. I don’t believe in the great flood or the parting of the red sea. I don’t believe in Adam and Eve or the crazy stories of Revelation but most of all, and this is a total shocker for most, I don’t believe in the resurrection which means I don’t believe in anything that relies on it¬†occurring.

Perhaps the craziest thing of them all…I do believe in God, maybe just not your God. I believe in a God that planned so well that everything we do is for a specific reason and was meant to happen. I believe in a God that created the Earth and the animals and people that lived on it, but also a God that was able to make all of that happen billions of years in advance. I believe in a God that allows for many Earths and possibly even parallel universes. I believe in a God that created dinosaurs after what seems like an eternity of evolution only to have the slate wiped clean by a giant space rock. I believe in a God that allowed cancer because it pushes us further in science and understanding of what was created and so that we can all be reminded that our time here is short and that we should live it to the fullest. My God created science and IS science. My God is the universe around me and you will never take my God away.

I am not a Christian, but I do believe in God. I go to church most Sundays because I enjoy the music and the applicability of some sermons to my life, but not in the context that it applies to those around me. I enjoy helping those in need but only when there is little to no pressure that by helping you’re also giving yourself up to the push of the Church to believe what they believe.

Everyone has their beliefs, even if you have no belief (that is a belief). What makes your belief more accurate than mine? You could say because your way is the right way or that Jesus said so, but in the end that is your belief. You will end up gaining folks who end up believing what you say, and that’s fine because that’s what will make them happy. But when you try to push your beliefs on those who have a strong beliefs otherwise, you push away many even though you may gain some in the process. The Church believes that this is furthering the fruits of Heaven and that is also fine, but let those of us who strongly believe differently be different.

I have absolutely no qualms with those who truly believe in their God, whoever that may be to them. Ultimately I think we all have the same God, it’s just how you see it.

It’s ok with me if you tell me that by writing this post I’m going to hell because in the end, I know that isn’t true because that isn’t what I believe. I believe it so strongly that it never crosses my mind. I’m here on this amazing planet that is our only known location for the existence of life in the entire universe and I intend to enjoy its fruits (and also take care of it) and the fruits of those who inhabit it.

Set forth and make sure that everyone has something to believe in, but don’t push your personal beliefs onto someone else unless they’re willing to let you in.

A warning for all Drobo users

I have a 2nd generation Drobo at home with approximately 1.2TB of data stored across all four drives that are installed. I’ve been using this setup for a couple of years now and it has worked out great! I have the drive connected via Firewire to my Mac Pro and while it doesn’t break any speed records for data transfer, it is sufficient for offloading storage and keeping it safe. FWIW, I also backup all of my data off-site via CrashPlan, but given that I have a 30/5 Internet connection, the speed of backing up and restoring large amounts of data is a horrible experience.

Last week I had one of my drives go bad and thus received the red light on that drive’s bay and a notice on my Mac to replace the drive. I replaced it with a known good drive of equal size, but one that had previously been used in another Drobo. Immediately after I replaced the drive the Drobo started rebuilding, or at least that’s what I thought. The “rebuild” turned to all of my drive bays flashing red along with my Mac Pro no longer being able to access any data on my Drobo.

I posted this to Twitter and Drobo was kind enough to respond and asked me to submit a support ticket even though my Drobo was well outside the warranty period. After submitting the logs from my Drobo Dashboard I was told that since the replacement drive that I inserted into the failed drive bay had previously been used in another Drobo unit that I would either have to get a new drive that hadn’t been used in a Drobo before or completely wipe my Drobo unit and start over. According to Drobo support, there is no way to wipe a Drobo “pack ID” from a drive, not even by doing a complete format on the drive. Removing the new drive from the Drobo reverted the three remaining drive bays to green so the Drobo is usable again, but the 4th bay is currently useless.

This is absurd! I’m not about to wipe my Drobo and have to restore the stuff from a backup (I don’t have enough local storage on my Mac Pro to handle this since I only have a 240GB SSD in that system). I’m also not about to buy a new drive when I have one that works perfectly fine.

I’ve always been one to advocate the use of Drobo’s products under most circumstances (they’re still horrible for things like ESXi IMO) but this event will certainly change the way I recommend their product line in the future.

Going cable free

A month ago I made the decision to begin the process of dropping our services from Time Warner Cable and replace them with modern alternatives. Our overall TWC bill for phone, television and Internet was a approximately $204 each month. Yes, this is higher than most cable bills but here is what we got for that price:

  • Unlimited national phone service with extended features like voicemail to email
  • 50/5 Internet connection (50Mbit down and 5Mbit up) with no monthly cap
  • The extended digital tv service with all channels except for paid networks (e.g. HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and the special sports channels)
  • 2 DVR’s that networked together so you can record up to 4 shows simultaneously and watch them from either DVR

The package above is the Signature Home service which also comes with your own special customer service number to call with no call queue and in most cases same day in-home tech service (from my experience). Prior to having Signature Home I was paying approximately $130/month and that only included 1 DVR, 15/1 Internet connection and no home phone service. When you look at it this way, $204/month isn’t such a bad deal after all for what you receive in return. Well, it isn’t a bad deal compared to other offerings from TWC.

Total yearly costs end up being roughly $2500 for TWC services. We don’t watch the news, almost never watch live TV or have the TV on just to have it on and almost never use our home phone. 50Mbit down from the Interwebs is also particularly hard to achieve. TWC offers a 30/5 package which suited my needs a little better. We use power line ethernet in our home and end up getting an average of ~30Mbit between the switches I have setup. The extra 20Mbit down was getting lost except for devices connected directly to our router. 30Mbit down is plenty fast to stream full HD over the net so that was the obvious choice to downgrade.

TWC phone service ends up being approximately $40 when purchased independently from TWC. We were paying $40 for maybe an hour a month of phone talk time? Cell phone coverage stinks in our neighborhood and the AT&T Microcell is also a poor product and unreliable so we had to keep some sort of home line around. Hello Ooma! I bought the Ooma device for $200 and we’ll pay $120/year for Ooma Premium so we can have services like voicemail to email. I can even do things TWC couldn’t, like assign custom caller ID names to numbers, make my own telemarketer blacklist, use a community telemarketer blacklist and even have a text message sent to my phone if 911 is dialed from our home number. Ooma ends up being 25% of what TWC’s phone service is…and I get more features.

The hardest part is dropping cable TV. We don’t watch live TV, local news or sports, so this was much easier for us to accomplish than the regular Joe. I compiled all of our shows with their costs and what services we would get them from in a spreadsheet.

Here is a link to that spreadsheet: http://bit.ly/AcAGn5

Since I had a package deal with TWC, it is hard to isolate precise costs for each package, but the savings ends up being approximately $1800/year the best I can figure. This being all of the above changes. I also get the added benefit of owning the shows that I purchase from iTunes. I could save a few more bucks in some cases by opting for Amazon Video but I’m pretty committed to Apple as a provider of hardware, software and media as a package deal and don’t want to deviate from that too much.