2 Nov 2016

Pin to taskbar from SD card on Windows 10

You will most likely need to use a micro SD card for additional storage if you purchase a low end Windows 10 netbook like the Asus E200HA, Lenovo Ideapad 100S, Acer Cloudbook or HP stream. Apart from the fact that an SD card will be slower than the internal MMC netbook drive, there is another caveat that you should be aware of...

Windows 10 won't let you pin anything that's saved on removable storage (ie. your SD card) to the taskbar! This means that by default you will not be able to create taskbar shortcuts to any programs that you install to the SD card.

The good news is that there is a work around! What you need to do is mount your SD card in a directory on drive C instead of it having its own removable drive letter assignment (as drive D or anything else).

Here's how you do this:

  1. Backup all data that is currently on your SD card
  2. Create a new, empty folder at C:\sdcard (or similar on drive C)
  3. Open control Panel
  4. Open Administrative Tools
  5. Open Computer Management
  6. Select Disk Management
  7. Right click your removable SD card drive and select 'Change Drive Letter and Paths'
  8. Remove any drive letter assignment for your SD card
  9. Select 'Add' and then choose 'Mount in the following empty NTFS folder'
  10. Browse to your C:\sdcard directory, select OK and then the only path to your SD card should be C:\sdcard as shown in the dialog below ...

Now if you install to and open programs from your SD card at the C:\sdcard path, you should be able to  'Pin to 'taskbar'.

19 Jun 2016

In defense of Science and Christianity

[10 minute read]

Science is the study of the natural world, using a self correcting process known as the scientific method to guide us towards truth, through repeated experiment and observation.

Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was sent to earth, died a sinless death and rose again to pay the price for the sins of humanity, so that all who believe in Him would be saved.

By definition, science and Christianity are not at odds with each other. So why should we have to choose between them? Perhaps because of conflicting views on creation, evolution or the age of the earth?

The current scientific view is that the universe began 14 billion years ago in an event known as the big bang. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Life on earth has been evolving for 4 billion years and modern humans have been around for the last 200 thousand years or so.

The Christian view, according to the Bible, is that God created the universe, the earth and all life, each producing offspring of its same kind. God created humans in His own image - He gave them a spirit and granted them authority over, and responsibility for, the earth. The Bible does not say how long ago any of this happened, though it does describe the creation process as taking place over six ‘days’ in Genesis 1 and then in a single ‘day’ in Genesis 2.

These views sound different, but I find myself defending both the scientific view when talking to Christians and the Christian view, when talking to people who are not Christians.

I defend the Christian view because the God of the Bible is real to me and I believe that He is the creator of the universe and everything in it. God created all forms and characteristics of life and He specially created humans in His image with a plan set apart from the animals. I am not concerned with dates because the Bible does not give specifics in this regard. Biblical creation is described once over six ‘days’ and again over a single ‘day’ in the very next chapter, so that these time periods are clearly not referring to literal days. The important message in the Biblical creation account is that God is the creator and humans have a special place in His creation.

I defend the scientific view because there is accessible and convincing evidence, that there was a big bang 14 billion years ago, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, life on earth has been around for 4 billion years and has been subject to changes and adaptations (evolution) during this time.

I defend both the Christian and scientific viewpoints because God could have created the universe 14 billion years ago through the process of the big bang. He could have made the earth 4.5 billion years ago and He could have created the first single celled life. God could have used single cells, with the built in ability to adapt and change, as the building blocks of life to create adaptable, multi-cellular life forms like animals and humans. God could have taken the exact amount of time and used any process He chose (including evolution) to create everything. If science ever truly uncovers all the specifics of how it happened, then we'll properly understand how God did it. As the creator of the universe, God is behind all that we study and discover in the natural world. Science is not a threat to Christianity because true Christian faith is based on Jesus Christ and on the Cross. It’s not about the details of the big bang, evolution, or the age of the earth. Science and Christianity are not at odds with each other.

The elephant in the room is the atheist view, which is the lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. This view has a tendency to present itself as scientific and claims to hold the intellectual high ground over any God based belief. But science is limited to the study of the natural world, which means it’s an inadequate tool for exploring the existence of God or other supernatural beings. If you were unimpressed when I mixed scientific and Christian views, you should be equally unimpressed by science mixed with atheism. Science mixed with something else is no longer science and the argument really comes down to Christian faith versus atheist lack of faith - neither can be scientifically justified. You may have heard someone say, “I'm a man of science, I don't believe in God". However, this statement misrepresents men (and women) of science and it would be more correctly phrased as either, “I'm a man of science, I can not test the existence of any supernatural being”, or, “I'm an atheist, I don’t believe in God".

If supernatural belief could indeed be explained away by simply applying the scientific method, then no scientist (or any other smart person) would be a Christian believer. But there are many scientists who have made substantial contributions to both science and the Christian faith (not to be confused with ‘Christian Science’ or ‘Scientology’). You might recognise the names of Blaise Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonhard Euler, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel or Lord Kelvin and there are many more examples of scientists who are Christian, including numerous Nobel prize winners across various scientific disciplines. In spite of what many atheists would like you to believe, science and atheism do not necessarily go together and there are good reasons to consider Christianity.

In terms of the number and accuracy of copies, the Christian Bible is the best preserved manuscript in history. Archeological evidence has unearthed people and places that are described in the Bible. In addition, more than 300 Biblical prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled through the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is a coherent story of God’s plan to save humanity that flows through the pages of the Bible, written by many authors over 1500 years - I think these points build a genuine argument for the supernatural inspiration of the Bible and I hope it would make you curious enough to at least read the gospel of John.

Most of Jesus’ disciples were martyred and none of them chose to save their lives by denying their faith in the Messiah, whom they had seen die on the Cross, appear again in His resurrected body and ascend to heaven - Surely none of them would have been prepared to be tortured, or die for a story that wasn’t true. The resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 people other than His disciples. The man who became the apostle Paul was heading up the execution of Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and he was dramatically converted - Paul became the instigator of spreading Christianity, instead of wiping it out in its infancy.

Christianity is the largest religious group in the world today, so perhaps you know some Christians and I hope that you have experienced the fruit of Christianity through their lives, but odds are they aren’t perfect. The matter of perfection is where Christianity is especially different from other religions - Thanks to God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, who paid the ultimate price by dying for your sins, you do not need to be perfect to approach the God of the Bible. If you sincerely look for Him, He promises that you will find Him and He will take you as you are.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.                 
Revelation 3:20

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."                   
 John 3:16

Further Reading

27 Mar 2016

Chances of winning Vodacom Millionaires

To win on Vodacom Millionaires, you need to get at least a 6 letter match on a string that you SMS through to 32082 to enter the weekly draw.

This means that your chances of getting a prize winning match are as follows:

6 letter match: 1 in 30,078,114
7 letter match: 1 in 1,142,968,332
8 letter match: 1 in 65,720,679,090
9 letter match: 1 in 7,623,598,774,440
(Odds calculated using http://www.csgnetwork.com/oddscalc.html)

In other words, there is a 1 in 7.6 million million chance of actually winning the million! Though you can of course improve your chances ever so slightly by entering more than once (the first 2 entries are free, additional entries cost R1 each).

The draw has been running for more than 10 years now and I have been collecting the winning letters for the last 6 years or so. I've grouped the winning letters by single appearances and double appearances over this 6 year period to highlight patterns and frequencies and I try to update this with the latest letters each week:

View the grouped Vodacom Millionaires winning letter data by clicking here

Statistically speaking, previous winning letters should have no bearing on the winning letters that are drawn for a week but we don't know the exact methods that Vodacom uses to choose the winning letters. Perhaps this data can inspire the next 9 letters you pick, but I think the patterns are interesting if nothing else.

6 Feb 2016

Check your Vodacom voicemail from a land line (or Skype out)

I recently traveled abroad and switched my Vodacom number over to SMS roaming (by texting 'roamon' to 123 before I left SA). SMS roaming is a handy way to maintain some contact with South Africa without the risks of roaming charges (though it does still cost R2.75 per SMS you send). So you can receive and send SMS, but it means that when anyone phones your SA number they inevitably don't get through to you and leave a voice message, which you get notified about by SMS.

Vodacom repeatedly let me know by promotional SMS that all I needed to do was phone  +27 82 121 0000 from a land line and then follow the prompts to retrieve my voicemail. However, I found that this number does not work at all, from either a UK land line or using Skype out... Fail.

I contacted Vodacom customer care via email who were very helpful and talked me through the first option, but they also let me have another number that I could try: +27 82 14 (followed by the last 9 digits of your cell phone number). But, alas, this number didn't work from a UK land line or using Skype out either (I mention both because strangely, I had different results on Skype versus the landline?!). Fail.

I abandoned those ideas, played about a bit and discovered that there is actually a way to get your Vodacom voicemail while you are overseas (or from any phone that is not your own cellular phone).

Here's how to do it...

1. Dial your own Vodacom Number (including country code) from any phone that can make international calls ie. +27 82 XXXXXXX
2. Press 1 while your voicemail 'leave a message after the beep' greeting is playing
3. Enter your 4 digit voicemail password (1111 by default or as set by you)
4. Listen to and manage all your voicemail messages as usual

You are welcome!