Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is the Apha Course Asking the Wrong Question?

I have noticed this banner like this outside two churches (one in Kirkliston and one in Edinburgh). Both are advertising the Alpha Course, but they also say something about how the Church views outsiders.

The Church's view of God is very fixed and it seems to be asking people to agree or disagree with it. By asking "Does God exist?" this campaign is targeting people who already have a similar view of God to the people in the church in an attempt to get them into the church and get some bums on seats. This approach is not likely to engage with someone from a different cultural background (like Hinduism, Buddhism or new age spirituality) who has a totally different idea of divinity - or indeed anyone who is a thinker and has bigger questions.

For me the question should not be "Does god exist?" but "What is God?", and if he, she or it does exist: does it matter?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Considering Making Changes to my Blog

My blog is currently published using Blogger, but hosted on my own web hosting account.

  • Can email articles and photographs in from my Google G1 mobile phone.
  • Don't need to maintain any scripts on my hosting account as it uploads via FTP.
  • Some evidence that Google indexes Blogger pages more quickly because Google own Blogger.
  • Its published under my own domain name.
  • By hosting the pages outside the Blogger/Google network I have some protection from pages being taken down for legal reasons. Anyone complaining would have to contact my ISP, and because they are in Ireland it makes any threat of legal action slightly more difficult.
  • No ads.
  • Publishing via FTP from is getting slower and slower because it insists on uploading all the pages in the blog rather than just the ones that have changed.
  • Not hosting it on Blogger's own servers means I can't use some of the new Blogger features like "followers".
  • Means maintaining a web hosting account for it with sufficient resources and enough reliability (my hosting is actually very reliable, but Blogger hosted blogs have greater redundancy).
  • Some difficulty maintaining my custom Blog template when Blogger make changes.
  • People leaving comments have to have a Blogger account or I have to leave it entirely open (which is undesirable).

Because of these issues I am considering moving to either a Blogger hosted blog or a Wordpress blog.
This is how I have compared the different options.

Blogger hosted blog:

  • Reliable.
  • All Blogger functions will work.
  • Publishing should be faster.
  • Templates should be easier to update.
  • Will still be able to post via email.
  • Ads may appear on my blog.
  • Less security against malicious takedowns and legal threats.
  • Possible to have it under a new domain - for a fee.

Wordpress hosted blog:

  • Reliable.
  • Better templating than Blogger.
  • Ads - but only shown to people who have not logged in as Wordpress users.
  • Less functions/gadgets than a Blogger hosted blog.
  • Possible to have it under a new domain - for a fee.

Wordpress blog hosted on my own hosting account:

  • More control over malicious takedowns and legal threats than a Wordpress hosted blog.

  • Will have to maintain and update my own copy of the Wordpress scripts.
  • Server load issues of running the scripts might cause problems for my web host or increase my hosting costs.

In addition to this I need to decide what to do with my existing blog. I might just let it continue to run, but add new posts to the new blog. The new blog will (of course) have a zero page rank initially. Either way I know that the current system I am using is starting to creak heavily and I need to make a decision. Any suggestions or advice gratefully received.

Are Ad Blockers a Bad Thing?

Having used Firefox as my main browser for the past few years witht he "Ad Block Plus" plugin I gradually got used to seeing web pages with very few ads in them: nice clean pages which loaded faster, especially on a mobile connection. It therefore came as a bit of a shock to have to switch browser this week due to an ongoing fault on my PC which seems to be caused by a bug in Firefox. Now I am seeing web pages in all their ad-rich glory.
Its actually not been too bad and there have been a few advantages. For example, there was an ad on Facebook which actually took me to a useful service that I was interested in using. I have also seen ads on forums that are about the products being discussed there, so I can see how they became the subject of critical debate.  This brings me round to one of the core purposes of advertising which is to provide information to consumers. The Internet does this better than any other media, whilst being weaker at lifestyle selling than television or print media. This is why price comparison websites have done so well. Its direct information of use to the consumer. In the past I have bought a number of products which have been brought to my attention by online advertising. Even my domain name - - came from an ad that the .nu registry ran on Geocities back in 1998.
So does advertising lead to greater consumer spend or greater consumer choice. I think it could be either or both. From my point of view seeing the ads makes the web a  more interesting and informative place.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Embouchure Lip Exercises for Trumpet

I recently made a video that discusses and demonstrates embouchure lip exercises for trumpet and other brass players.