Category Archives: Life

Guns In The Classroom – Big Mistake

Before I get involved with this post, I would like to take the time to remember the kids and teachers who died last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  I feel bad for the families affected by this horrific tragedy.  Christmases, Birthdays, etc will be hard for those families that lost loved ones, both kids and adults.  

I would like to take this time to remember the first responders who were there right away and saw the awful tragedy first hand.  I seriously cannot even remotely fathom what they saw.  To me, there is nothing more scary than the face of a frightened child or seeing such a scene of a senseless massacre.  

I also want to say thank you to the heroes too, consisting of good-hearted teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency response teams, men and women who live near the school who took children in, etc.  If I missed anyone or any team, I’m truly sorry.  

I’m going to pause here a minute to reflect & pray for everyone that I just mentioned. 

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Thanks everyone.  Now I’ll dive into this post. 

TV stations, both national & local, and blogs are blasting out questions such as, “Should we have guns in the classroom?”, “Should we be arming teachers?”, etc.  

In my opinion, the answer is no.  We should not be putting guns into classrooms. I know this topic was raised after the shooting at Virginia Tech and I said it back then, we should not be putting guns in classrooms.  Let me explain myself.  

First, everyone knows that guns are weapons.  We don’t allow weapons in schools currently.  In Michigan, where I live, even if you have a Concealed Weapons Permit, you are not allowed to carry a gun on school property for any reason.  I realize that Governor Snyder is looking to pass legislation that would allow CWP holders to carry guns on school property.  And even then I’m still on the fence if allowing CWP holders to carry a weapon on school grounds is a good idea.  

Let me go on a tangent here and just say this:  I’m proud of the United States Constitution.  I exercise my rights to own guns.  I personally own about 9 guns.  My dad owns a lot more.  My dad is an NRA member and I’m thinking about joining the NRA.  I’m getting my CWP next year at some point.  I love guns.  I love weapons.  I love to go hunting and I’m glad that I have that right to be able to go out into the woods during the month of November and shoot a dear.  But I am a responsible gun owner.  I have been properly educated on the topics of gun safety, handling, maintenance, etc.  My dad taught me all that I needed to know at a very young age.  

This leads to my second point why I think guns in classrooms is a bad idea.  Like I said above, I’ve been educated in firearms safety.  Sure, the teachers and school administrators can receive very similar training, but the problem lies with intimidation.  There are a lot of people who are afraid of guns.  In my humble opinion, the main reason why people are afraid of guns is because they haven’t received the education or training at a young age.  Like learning a foreign language, it’s best to learn it at a young age.  Same goes for gun education.  It’s best to learn at a young age.  That way, when you get older, you are not afraid to hold a gun.  You can feel confident when someone hands you a gun, you know to check to make sure it is not loaded, etc.  Everyone reacts differently in an emergency situation.  If you are afraid of a gun, your first instinct probably won’t be to get the gun out of the safe.  Thus, this makes having a gun in the classroom highly ineffective in most situations.

One of my Facebook friends, who indirectly inspired this post, made a valid point.  It would be more effective to teach teachers self-defense than have a gun in the classroom.  I fully agree with this.  You can use self-defense right away versus a gun that is locked away (as it should be).   If the gunman breaks into your classroom and starts shooting, chances are very likely you’ll be dead long before you could put your own gun to use. The gunman isn’t going to sit and wait for you to unlock the gun from the safe, load it, then shoot.  He’s going to take you out at the first opportunity.  Learning self defense would be a stronger asset than a gun at that point.  If a gunman breaks in, you can throw something at them to distract them.  A coffee mug, books, staplers, papers, etc would make excellent projectile distractions if you are fast enough.  Learning self defense would increase your reaction times.  If you succeed at hitting the gunman with one of the objects mentioned above, you can then easily disarm him. 

What about having the guns on the teachers?  That is no better than having the gun in the safe.  It’s no better because say a gunman comes into your classroom first and shoots you first.  Chances are that he’ll see your down and disarm you and now you’ve just provided him with a second weapon to murder innocent people.  Another reason it is a bad idea is that it would be hard to conceal a weapon from the kids. If the kids know that there’s a gun in the classroom, one of two potential disasters could happen.  First, the students would feel intimidated if they knew / saw a gun in the classroom.  There’s a possibility that they would not feel safe inside their own classroom for multiple reasons.  What if the teacher has a meltdown at a student or group of students?  Maybe the students didn’t receive the same education about guns.  Are we going to make a law teaching our kids proper gun safety?  As good of an idea as it is, there probably won’t be any legislation passed requiring that simply because it is a choice if you want to own a gun as an individual or family, not a mandate.  There’s another factor here.  Bullying is a big problem at schools.  And it seems like bullying has become more severe in recent years.  What if a bully got access to the gun?  Or on the flip side, what if a student who was bullied had a breakdown and got access to the gun?  Either scenario is a terrible thought.  

One other thing, what if teachers take the stance that having a gun in the classroom is a bad idea?  Are you going to fire them because they refuse to have a gun in the classroom?  I already know a few people who are teachers who have said they won’t have a gun in their classroom.  

Now, people who would be pro guns inside classrooms might read this and think that other countries do this.  Sure they do.  Israel comes to mind.  I’ve read blog posts saying that Israeli teachers have guns in their classrooms and even carry guns.  

Remember people, Israel is Israel.  We are the United States.  What works for Israel may not work for the USA.  Israel is a war zone.  They have to worry about rocket fire from 5 miles away. Outside their school walls, it is a war zone. Soldiers are running through the streets, through the neighborhoods, heavily armed.  Here in the United States, we don’t have to worry about our military launching a missile from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Holland, Michigan.  There is no war zone here near that magnitude.  Over there, it’s necessary to be armed.  It would be more harmful to have that stance here, in my opinion.  

To quickly recap, guns would be a bad idea in the classroom because both teachers and students are not uniformly educated on gun safety thus leading to intimidation.  Having guns in the classroom would not be effective near as much as having self defense training.  There are too many negative scenarios occurring if a gun gets into the wrong hands from the teacher, bullies, the bullied, or even the gunman. Lastly, we are the United States.  We don’t have battles / wars on our soil.  We need not fear missile / rocket fire from someone in our own border.  

Again, I love guns, but I think this would prove to be more harmful than good.  Guns have a bad reputation already.  Why would we want to soil guns more than they already are?  I would like to be able to continue purchasing my guns legally and continue to operate them legally in activities such as hunting.  I don’t want to lose my rights as a gun owner because some bad legislation got passed.  

What do you guys think?  Do you think having guns in the classroom is a good idea or a bad one?  Do you agree with my points?  Oppose?  I would really like to have some thoughtful discussion on this matter.  I will not tolerate comments that flame gun owners or gun owners flaming people who blindly disagree with their beliefs.  Let’s keep this clean and please, use critical thinking when posting comments.  Thank you.  

Bark At The BOB And Police Dogs

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m now working for my dad in his vet clinic.  Working at his clinic has given me many opportunities to meet some really amazing people.  Some of these people I have known prior to my employment there, but now I actually get to see them in their work environment.  

Last month, I attended a special event at The BOB (Big Old Building) located downtown Grand Rapids.  The event was called Bark At The BOB.  It’s an annual event hosted by Mackenzie’s Dog Sanctuary.  

Mackenzies is a wonderful dog shelter / organization.  They are a “no-kill” shelter; they are also one of the largest no kill dog sanctuaries in the USA.  All dogs live out their lives there unless they are adopted.  All the dogs they take in are housed in spacious runs / kennel areas.  The dogs get spacious outdoor areas to roam and play in.  They have several pools for the dogs to play in.  It’s an amazing facility.  They do have adoption days where you can go and tour the facility and go play with the dogs.  I believe you need to setup an appointment to do that.  To learn more about them, click here.  

Last night, I went to an event called the K-9 Cabaret.  It was sponsored by the Western Michigan Human Society.  (They aren’t affiliated with the national human society which I have deep routed issues with).  The event was all about the police dogs!  I’ve seen the police dogs before either in my dad’s clinic or at other events, but it was really cool hearing some of their stories.  

K-9

Petted

It was a lot of fun getting to see them and socialize with them.  It was fun meeting some very interesting people as well.  

Please support your local police dogs.  They mean a lot to their human counterparts.  They’re not just a working dog, they are also apart of the officer’s family.  

Have you seen a police dog in action?  Have you had a chance to socialize with them?  Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences.  

What I’ve Been Up To

Found via http://parenting.leehansen.com/Printables/School/welcome-back-sign.htm
http://parenting.leehansen.com/Printables/School/welcome-back-sign.htm

Good afternoon everyone!

You’ve all been wondering what I’ve been up to these several months where I’ve been absent from blogging.  The truth is…I haven’t had much time to sit down and write.  Sure, I could have started something and then saved as a draft and keep adding as time progressed.  However, if I were to do that, I would have a novel on my hands because I’d have so much to say.  It wouldn’t be broken down and I’d have no viewers.  Not many people want to sit down and read a blogger’s novel.  🙂

So here’s a semi-nutshell story of my life so far over the past 9 months.

As many of you know, I was living in South Bend, IN for a couple years while my cousin was in school. We had a lot of fun together…and we hope to live together again sometime in the future.

Back in April of 2011, I took a job at my dad’s vet clinic as the IT guy.  I thought it would be a routine job of walking around the clinic and fixing computers.  Boy was I wrong!  In June, 2011, I found out we were going to do a massive computer software upgrade and change over from one veterinary management software to another!  The jump was so big, I’d compare it to jumping from MS-DOS to Windows 7!  Yeah, it was crazy!  We began implementation in August, the same day I moved out of my apartment in South Bend (yeah that was super crazy, driving to GR from SB only to go back to SB a couple hours later to finish moving out so we won’t get fined).  I found myself getting more busy each day.  We had a lot of preparation.  I found myself taking over most of the jobs our offsite IT people were doing which brought me to the role of IT director as well as director of Marketing.  We had a private training session with the top 5 key employee on the new software system back in September.  At the end of October, we went live with everything.  Our clinic is now totally state-of-the-art with digital lab equipment, digital X-Ray computer system, digital whiteboard, etc.

Now that the dust has settled and the employees are getting accustomed to the system, I now have time to work on some other things / projects.

I’ve been going up to our cottage more frequently this year (and last fall, winter) to chill up there and relax.  Although with new systems at the clinic means that I need to be reachable for computer emergencies and spontaneous updates.  And that’s why I’m glad I have AT&T cell service.  It’s the only provider that gets decent coverage at my cottage.  And with 3G data on the way in the next month or so, in addition to a higher tower, service will greatly improve for us!

I’m getting back into writing again.  I normally write fan fictions, but I’m looking at writing an actual novel with original characters and plots.  I’m mapping it out right now.  If all goes well, I’m going to see if I can get it published.

I’m getting back into photography.  I bought a new digital camera, which I really love.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures with it and having a lot of fun with the hobby.  But I also love taking pictures with my iPhone and uploading them to Instagram.  You can see a portfolio of sorts on my DeviantArt photography folder if you’d like to see what my interests are.  
I’ve been uploading a lot of videos I take on YouTube.  You can head over to my channel and check it out as well.  

I’m getting back into website creation / design again.  MobileMe (now iCloud) is shutting down its web hosting services next month.  I have been using iWeb to create my websites.  Since I learned about the switch to iCloud about a year ago and that certain services were being discontinued, I stopped publishing / updating my website.  I almost gave up on website creation all together at that point as well.  Then a couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon RapidWeaver.  Now, I’ve used it before, but I found it intimidating and a little more difficult to use than iWeb.  But with iWeb (probably) on its way out of the iLife suite, and MobileMe hosting being shutdown, I figured it was time to make a transition.  I removed all remnants of my old website from MobileMe, I downloaded RapidWeaver, and then I began searching for hosting.  It didn’t take me too long to find good hosting.  Javabeanhosting is my host now for my new RapidWeaver website.  If anyone reading this is using RapidWeaver and wants a host that supports RapidWeaver and is compatible with most, if not all RapidWeaver plugins, check it out here.  Gregg, the founder, is very active on Twitter and Skype and makes himself readily available should you have questions.  Here’s his Twitter Page.  My new and improved website is now live for the masses.  This blog is directly tied into the website, even though it is hosted at Blogger.  You can check out my website here.  If you have any feedback on my website or would like to get in touch with me, feel free to use the Contact Form on my site to get in touch with me.  I will be making updates to the site as time progresses, so please keep coming back!

Just a side note, an FYI, I used to run this blog over on WordPress.com under the old URL littlepoopmachine.wordpress.com.  I have deleted that blog and migrated everything over to Blogger.  The reason behind leaving WordPress is that it would have been extremely difficult to move a blog to my website and keeping it inline with my website theme using WordPress.  Plus, I wanted to synchronize my WordPress blog with my website.  Well that’s not possible with WordPress and RapidWeaver currently.  That’s why I moved to Blogger.  RapidWeaver has an awesome 3rd party plugin called RapidBlog, which allows me to blog from my website directly in RapidWeaver, plus synchronize the content / posts directly from blogger to RapidWeaver and my website and vice versa!  Very handy tool!  It (not the RapidWeaver plugin, but Blogger) also allows me to blog from my iPad and iPhone as well, which will come in handy at times when I travel without my computer.  I know you can do mobile blogging with WordPress, but again, I wanted blog synchronization on my blogsite and well as my website.

Well I think that just about sums up what I’ve been up to these past several months.  Feel free to check out these links and feel free to leave a comment as well!  It feels good to be back in the blogging community again. 🙂

Farewell Steve Jobs – My Thoughts on Apple & Steve Jobs

As many of you have heard by now probably, Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple Inc. Here is his resignation letter:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

(Courtesy of Mashable)

Across the internet, emotions are mix as people reflect on the man and on Apple as a company. Comments located on various news sites and blogs range from, “Good luck Mr. Jobs” and “God Bless Steve Jobs” to “Steve Jobs resigned? YES!”

I was, and yet wasn’t, shocked by the news of his resignation. I knew this day would come. Steve had been fighting various health issues including liver cancer and complications from surgeries. Bloomberg reported not too long ago that he had been house-ridden for the last several weeks, but was able to work and attend today’s board meeting (yesterday as of this posting).

Apple’s stock dropped 5-6 percent in after hours trading last night, but recovered and was only down by tenths of a percent after the news hit investors in the morning.  Investors have been told by analysts, and I agree with them, that there is no need to panic.  Apple can and will still function just fine with Tim Cook, former COO now CEO.  Plus, Steve Jobs isn’t saying goodbye to Apple.  He is merely taking a new role as chairman of the board of directors.  Also, just a FYI, he is not leaving his post at Disney either.

Many of us in the blogging / news industry knew that Steve’s health has been deteriorating since he had his liver transplant.  It was only a matter of time when we would hear that Steve resigned, but again, I don’t think there’s no need to panic.  Tim Cook shares the same Apple values as Steve.  Time does not want Apple to change.  Tim just sent an email to Apple executives & staff.

Team:

I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that-it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.

I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.

Tim

(Courtesy of TUAW)

Personally, I’m glad to hear that Apple won’t be changing.  I think Apple, as it stands, is a great company.  They will continue to be innovative in the technological industry, continue surprising its customers and fans all over the world, and keep making awesome products with awesome customer support backing said products.  It also helps that Apple employees not just know that they’re selling good products, but believe they are selling good products.  Most Apple employees were very happy with the Steve Jobs era.  iDownloadBlog recently posted an article saying that out of 1,000 employees, only 3 percent say that Steve Jobs could have done a better job. I can understand why!  As a former Apple employee myself, I definitely saw Steve’s hand at work inside the retail store I was employed at.  Even the employees down at the bottom of the totem pole felt apart of the Apple Culture.

If you would like to learn more about Apple Culture, I recommend these books: The Cult of Mac and The Cult of iPod

I know many employees and Apple fans are sad that Steve is no longer CEO.  I am saddened by the news as well, but I also know that Apple will continue to continue what they do best…make the most innovative products the world has ever seen.  As steve said in his resignation letter, “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.”  And I think he’s right.  Since Steve is staying on the board, I know he’ll keep informed on the latest and greatest Apple gadgets.  I’m sure we’ll continue to see Steve’s hand in all future products until he completely resigns from Apple.

Steve saved Apple back in 1997.  Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy when Steve took over the dying business.  But Steve surrounded himself with the brightest people in the tech industry and turned the company  around to become the largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization.  Not bad for a company that started in a garage in Silicon Valley in the 1970’s.  I’m glad that Apple is doing well currently, but I do hope they continue to flourish and thrive as an industry.  There’s a lot of talent at Apple and I know we’ll see good things from them in the future.

Steve showed the world that it doesn’t matter if your product sounds crazy and it won’t do well.  If you believe in your product, it will succeed.  He taught people that the American dream is very real.  He and his friend, Steve Wozniak, showed us that you can make a strong company out of very little.  And, later on, you can turn the same company over from bankruptcy to profitable.

Thank you Steve for all that you’ve done with Apple.  I’m honored I had the privilege to work for you in the past and I will continue to do business with you in the future.  I hope your health improves so you can enjoy the rest of your life.

Here’s a link for Steve Jobs Biography, which will be available for order in November.

Here are some of Steve’s memorable moments on video:

Stanford Commencement Address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc

Steve Introduces Original iPhone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftf4riVJyqw

Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B-XwPjn9YY

Are We Becoming A Culture of Rudeness?

Good afternoon everyone.  Before I start this post, I would first like to apologize for becoming philosophical so early in the afternoon, but I would really like to hear your thoughts and feelings on this matter to which I’m about to bring up.

This morning, I went to Bethel College’s first chapel of the semester.  When I walked into the ER (not Emergency Room), I was expecting the usual Bethel routine: sing a couple songs, hear a mini sermon, and then be dismissed.  Boy, was I wrong today.

After the usual announcements and a reflection about a professor who passed away earlier this week, the Vice President of Bethel stood up on stage and, with a stern voice, pretty much told everyone to behave in chapel.

He made references to people being on their computers during chapel and how he could see their faces being lit up from the computer screens while on stage.  He also pointed out that people whistled during chapel while guest speakers were giving their testimonials.  He also brought up people texting, tweeting, and facebooking during the speeches.

After providing the examples, he brought up what caught my attention the most.  He said, “People tell me that this is the new culture.”  (Meaning that it is acceptable to be on your computer, texting, talking to the people next to you, etc during speeches, meetings, etc).  And this is what really grabbed me….he then said, “It is a culture of rudeness.”

Before I go into this any further, let me just point out that I am very much so connected to the world via my iPhone.  My life is on my iPhone.  I use my iPhone a lot even during church because my iPhone has a large print Bible that I can see clearly.  But I have self control and I don’t need to check Facebook or Twitter during church or send a text message unless is was a big emergency.  So I understand if people are using their phones to access Bible apps or a Bible on the web during chapels or church.  I am not quick to judge people and don’t immediately assume that someone is on their phone texting or tweeting.  I assume they’re looking at a Bible.  “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” – Matthew 7:1.  And if they’re not looking at a Bible app or web Bible, then that is an honesty issue between that person and God.

Having said all that, let me say this.  I’ve been into some nice sit down restaurants like Red Lobster, Red Robin, and a slew of others and I see people texting while at the dinner table with very little to no conversation taking place.  Are we really moving away from normal conventions of conversation?

But what I take great offense to is that if I want your undivided attention, I should be able to get it without you being on your phone texting or playing a game.  It really is annoying because then I have to fight to get your attention.  So please, just put your phone down for a few minutes and listen.

In a chapel/meeting setting, it really is distracting when someone is next to you during a time which does not belong to you in the first place.  That time belongs to the speaker and God.  Don’t become a stumbling block to others.  If you don’t want to be there, then don’t be there.  Don’t drag other people down who really want to be there.

I have been worried about this kind of behavior for a while now and it sounds like to me that the administration at Bethel…well at least from one person’s perspective…has had it with this kind of behavior and will now kick people out of chapel for texting, tweeting, being on their computer, etc.

To Bethel: If you want to kick people out for displaying that kind of behavior, that’s your policy and by all means, enforce it as you see fit.  But please, make sure that the person is texting and not looking up the Bible or using a Bible app to follow along with the chapel speakers.

I am just as connected, if not more so, than a lot of teenagers and people in their early 20’s but please, exercise good judgement and use some common sense.  Don’t be rude.  After all, I’m sure if you wanted someone’s attention, you would want them to pay attention to you and no their phone.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Feel free to leave a comment.  I will only approve insightful, intelligent comments.  No hate or bashing of any kind will be tolerated.

***REPOST***

What Deer Hunting Is Really About

Good evening everyone!  Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful fall we have.

I have many traditions I like to do in the fall such as Thanksgiving with the family, going to apple orchards, drinking lots and lots of apple cider, eating lots of pumpkin & apple pies, and, of course, deer hunting.

Yeah, I know, I’m probably going to get spammed with comments like, “you’re evil for hunting,” etc, etc.  I’ve heard it all before so don’t waste your broadband bandwidth telling me those things.

I’m going to try my best to explain deer hunting and what it really means to me.

Yes, it is about spotting that perfect buck and killing it for it’s meat.  Venison is a fantastic meat and it cooks really nicely.  It’s a lean meat too, so it’s better for you than that from cows.  We usually have it made into Summer Sausage, steak, or even jerky!

But it goes beyond that.  There are other aspects to deer hunting that I really enjoy the most.  First off, there’s good male bonding time.

When I go hunting, I go with my dad.  He’s an expert when it comes to the wildlife around and knows how to find it.  But there is something about sitting in the woods, just watching the woods, waiting for that buck to cross your line of fire, listening to the wildlife around you, and just enjoying being around someone else who also enjoys the same things you do.

My dad told me that we might not see any deer this year (due to the, I presume, poor deer control management up on the island), but that’s ok.  Just heading out into the the woods at 6 AM is something in itself to enjoy.  Then we’ll watch the woods light up as the sun rises and listen to the woods calm down after the morning breeze.  Then we’ll head on out around 9 or 10 AM and catch up on sleep.  Then we’ll head out again later in the day and see what comes our way.

My dad and I will be sitting out there, in our deer blinds, in silence, listening for the deer to head our way.  While we wait, we’ll probably have some quiet small talk or we’ll be messing around with our iPhone 4’s (Thank you Apple for bluetooth multiplayer gaming capabilities).

If you like hunting or you really enjoy nature, I encourage all of you to try deer hunting.  Or, if that’s not your thing, get (or borrow) a deer blind and just go out and sit in the woods.  You don’t need a gun to enjoy nature and everything around you.

If you do go out and hunt, be safe and responsible.

Enjoy the season everyone!

Back To School Essentials: Please RT

Good afternoon everyone.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful day.  🙂

I haven’t done a blog entry like this before, so I’m going to give it my best shot.

Having gone through college, I have gained some knowledge and experiences on things that students might need.  I’m not talking about 3-ring binders, staplers, hole punchers, or paper here, but rather, I’m talking about electronics and accessories to accompany the electronics.

First, and foremost, are computers.  A computer is essential for any college undergrad or graduate student.  You’ll be using it to write those late night papers that are due in a couple hours ;), check your email to see if professors have cancelled a class or see if someone wants a homework party session, and browse the web for help finding a good research topic for that British Lit course.  All kidding aside, your computer will be a significant part of your life as you journey through college.

When you’re buying a computer, think for the long term.  Consider the computer the best asset of your college experience.  Ask yourself the following questions: What do I need my computer to do?  Do I only need the computer to run Microsoft Office, email, and web?  Do I/Will I need to run more than just office or send/receive email?  Second, What do you wish your computer to do?  Would you like to be able to play the latest and greatest games during the weekends or procrastination nights?  Do you see yourself using your computer for a personal summer business venture?  These are important questions you must ask yourself.  I wish I would have asked myself these questions when I was starting my freshmen year of college.

When I started my freshmen year, I bought a Dell Inspiron.  After seeing a friend’s Dell and what it was able to do, I had to have it.  I tricked it out to the max (August 2003).  512MB RAM, 80 GB HD, P4 processor, DVD Player/Writer, second battery, special docking station, and many other things went into this laptop purchase.  The computer only lasted me two years.  I got involved with designing websites.  The computer could barely handle it without overheating or shutting down randomly.  Finally, the death toll rang as I watched the hard drive disintegrate just before I was leaving for a 1 month study abroad program.  Long story short, I had it with Dell and that computer.  Dell wasn’t very nice to me and in the summer of 2005, I got my first Mac, a PowerBook G4 17″.  (Side note: That computer still runs perfectly to this day with no problems)

With all that happened with my Dell, I learned a lot of things along the way.  I lost lots of music, movies, games, and old papers.  When you’re buying a computer, consider buying some protection for yourself such as a USB Flash Drive/Thumb Drive to backup your papers and other homework assignments.  I wish I would have done that my freshmen year.  Buy an external hard drive to backup your music that your dorm friends/house mates give you, your pictures that you have taken on your study abroad programs or sporting events, your movies that you acquired from friends, and, of course, older homework assignments/papers from the previous years (Seriously, keeping those papers around will really help you, trust me).  Plus, having a backup ensures that if your computer is stolen or breaks down, you won’t have to re-write that 10 page paper due in 2 days.

If you a bit more adventurous, own a Mac, and wish to have online storage/access to your files from anywhere and any computer in the world, grab a MobileMe subscription.  It’s $99 or $69 with a purchase of a new Mac.  If you own an iPhone, you can even access and view your files right on your phone.  Speaking of iPhones, let me recommend a few good apps.

First up is a wonderful little app called iStudiez Pro ($2.99).  This app allows you to keep track of your homework.  You can add your course informations such as the course number, professor, section, room info, etc.  You can add your professor’s office hours and contact info into the app.  You can put in your exam schedule, lists of holidays/the times you have off during the semester, and even your assignments.  The app will even alert you when an assignment due date is approaching even if the app isn’t open!  Same goes for exams too.  Oh, you can also keep track of your grades for each class too.  For $2.99, it’s worth the price.  I wish I had this app when I was in college.

Second, Skype for iPhone (FREE).  If you have a Skype account, which is free, you can talk to your friends who also have Skype.  For you international students, this is a great alternative to pre-paid phone cards or expensive phone bills.  Best part is, you can have Skype on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or even an iPad.  So if you want to talk to your mom and tell her how your doing and if she has Skype, you can talk to her for free.  FYI, for the moment at least, you can make/receive Skype calls over 3G on AT&T’s network.

Beejive IM ($9.99) is my next pick.  If you’re still an active AIM, Yahoo, or MSN user, you’ll appreciate this app (other IM protocols are supported as well).  You can run multiple accounts at once, which is great if you have six AIM accounts and 3 MSN accounts.  You’ll get notifications of new IMs even if the app is closed.  Also, there are regular updates to this app as new iPhone operating systems are released.

Also, most major colleges/universities have their own iPhone apps related to your school.  Check the app store to see if your school as such an app.  If so, I highly recommend downloading it.  It may offer information such as sporting events, ordering tickets, campus maps, and even campus information ie campus closures.

I think I covered some of the big ones.  I’ll have a more thorough list of apps in my next blog entry sometime next week.  Stay tuned for that.

I hope you find this very helpful as you’re preparing to face yet another grueling academic year.  Feel free to leave a comment if you want to share your back to school electronics experiences, good or bad.  Also, if you wish to promote an app you love, give me the app name and I might add it to my list to blog about next week.  (Please keep it limited to the following categories: Educational or school related, or Social media.)

DISCLAIMER:  I have not been solicited into reviewing any of the apps mentioned.  These reviews are solely of my experiences.

General Ranting; Life and Religion

Hello everyone.  I hope you all had a better week than I did.  I know some of my readers had just the same amount of bitterness this week as I have had.

A lot of random things have been happening in my life that haven’t been so pleasant this week.

First off, a best friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now.  One of her friends was raped and practically beaten.  She is really messed up at the moment right now.  I don’t know how many of you are religious, but if you are, regardless of your faith background, please offer up prayers for her – that my friend will have sound advice for her friend and that her friend can get immediate help.

As my friend was telling me this, I couldn’t help but think what has happened to the world lately.  It just seems that people are becoming more sinister and more evil than ever before.  What causes this?  What is causing people to want to do harm to other people?

My cousin and I were talking a couple nights ago about faith and what it means to be a Christian and leading with a Christian example.  I can’t help but wonder how many self proclaimed Christians claim to be Christian but act completely different.  The girl that raped my friend’s friend was a Christian at one time.  What happened?  What do her actions say for the rest of us?  It’s very very hard to have a faith based conversation with people who don’t know about Christianity.

There is a song by DC Talk called What if I Stumble. At the beginning of the song, there is a spoken word section that reads as follows,

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

How can Christians go out and minister if we have our own people committing the very things we know are wrong?  That girl who raped my friend’s friend is an example.  She once said she was a Christian and then goes and does something this distasteful and has been doing other degrading things to other people.

I beg people out there, who are religious, to be honest with others, be true to your beliefs and don’t stray.

I beg people, who are not religious, out there to not judge all of us just because we have a handful of people who go and do terrible things.

Those are my pleas.  That’s what’s been on my mind for the last couple days.  I don’t want to step on any toes of people who have different beliefs than I do.  All I want is people to be tolerant of others and others’ beliefs.  I don’t know what the right faith is for everyone, but I know what faith is right for me.  As long as peoples’ faiths are a peaceful, loving, and tolerant of others beliefs, then more power to you and I hope it works for you.

What is your take on faith?  Do you feel that Christians have set bad examples?  Have Christians hurt you in your past?  Feel free to leave a comment, so long as it is tolerant of others’ faiths and beliefs.  I will not accept any religion bashing of any kind in the comments.