Friday, April 18, 2014

It is finished

John Bloom writes:

It is Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. It is the darkest day in human history, though most humans have no clue of this. In Rome, Tiberius attends to the demanding business of the empire. Throughout the inhabited world, babies are born, people eat and drink, marry and are given in marriage, barter in marketplaces, sail merchant ships, and fight battles. Children play, old women gossip, young men lust, and people die.

But today one death, one brutal, gruesome death, the worst and best of all human deaths will leave upon the canvas of human history the darkest brushstroke. In Jerusalem, God the Son, the Creator of all that is (John 1:3), will be executed.

The Garden

The Jewish day dawns with night, and never has it been more fitting, since today the hour has come and the power of darkness (Luke 22:53). Jesus is in Gethsemane, where he has prayed with loud cries and tears, being heard by his Father (Hebrews 5:7) whose will will be done. Jesus hears noises and looks up. Torches and hushed voices signal the arrest party’s arrival.

Jesus wakes his sleepy friends who are jarred alert at the sight of their brother, Judas, betraying his Rabbi with a kiss. Soldiers and servants encircle Jesus. Peter, flushed with anger, pulls out his sword and lunges at those nearest Jesus. Malchus flinches, but not enough. Blinding pain and blood surge where his ear had been. Voices speak, but Malchus only hears the screaming wound, which he’s grabbed with both hands. He feels a hand touch his hands and the pain vanishes. Under his hands is an ear. Stunned, he looks at Jesus, already being led away. Disciples are scattering. Malchus looks down at his bloody hands.

The Sanhedrin

Jesus is led brusquely into to the house of Annas, a former High Priest, who questions him about his teaching. Jesus knows this informal interrogation is meant to catch him disoriented and unguarded. He is neither, and gives this manipulative leader nothing. Rather, he refers Annas to his hearers and is struck with irony by a Jewish officer for showing disrespect. Frustrated, Annas sends Jesus on to his son-in-law Caiaphas, the current High Priest.

At Caiaphas’s house the trial gets underway quickly. Morning will come fast. The Council needs a damning verdict by daybreak. The examination proceeds as bleary-eyed Sanhedrin members continue to file in.

The trial has been assembled hastily and witnesses haven’t been screened well. Testimonies don’t line up. Council members look disconcerted. Jesus is silent as a lamb. Irritated and impatient, Caiaphas cuts to the quick: “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63).

The hour has come. Charged in the name of his Father to answer, Jesus speaks the words that seal the doom for which he had come to endure (John 12:27): “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64).

In a moment of law-breaking (Leviticus 21:10) politically religious theater, Caiaphas tears his robes in feigned outrage and thinly concealed relief over Jesus’s blasphemy. He declares the trial’s end with, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves form his own lips” (Luke 22:71).

As the sun breaks over Jerusalem’s eastern ridge, Judas swings from his own belt, Peter writhes in the grief of his failure and Jesus’s face is streaked with dried blood and saliva from the pre-dawn sport of the temple police. The Council’s verdict: guilty of blasphemy. Their sentence: death. But it’s a sentence they cannot carry out. Rome refuses to delegate capital punishment.

The Governor

Pilate’s mood, already sour over the Sanhedrin’s sudden insistent intrusion so early in the morning, worsens as he grasps the situation. They want him to execute a Galilean “prophet.” His seasoned instincts tell him something isn’t right. He questions Jesus and then tells the Council, “I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4).

A game of political chess ensues between Pilate and the Sanhedrin, neither realizing that they are pawns, not kings.

Pilate makes a move. As a Galilean, Jesus falls under Herod Antipas’s jurisdiction. Let Herod judge. Herod initially receives Jesus happily, hoping to see a miracle. But Jesus refuses to entertain or even respond. Antipas, disappointed, blocks the move by returning Jesus to Pilate.

Pilate makes another move. He offers to release Jesus as this year’s annual Passover pardoned prisoner. The Council blocks the move. “Not this man, but Barabbas!” they cry (John 18:40). Pilate is astounded. The Sanhedrin prefers a thief and murderer to this peasant prophet?

Pilate tries another move. He has Jesus severely flogged and humiliated, hoping to curb the Council’s blood thirst. Again the move is blocked when the Council insists that Jesus must be crucified because “he has made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7). Check. Pilate’s fear grows. Jesus’s divine claim could threaten Rome. Worse, it could be true. Roman deities supposedly could take on human form. His further questioning of Jesus unnerves him.

One last move. Pilate tries to persuade the Sanhedrin to release Jesus. One last block and trap. “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12). The Council has Pilate where they want him: cornered. Checkmate.

And the triune God has the Council, Pilate, and Satan where he wants them. They would have no authority over the Son at all unless it had been given them from above (John 19:11). Fallen Jews, Gentiles and spiritual powers unwittingly collaborate in executing the only innocent death that could possibly grant the guilty life. Checkmate.

The Cross

Morning wanes as Jesus stumbles out of the Praetorium, horribly beaten and bleeding profusely. The Roman soldiers had been brutal in their creative cruelty. Thorns have ripped Jesus’s scalp and his back is one grotesque, oozing wound. Golgotha is barely a third of a mile through the Garden Gate, but Jesus has no strength to manage the forty-pound crossbar. Simon of Cyrene is drafted from the crowd.

Twenty-five minutes later, Jesus is hanging in sheer agony on one of the cruelest instruments of torture ever devised. Nails have been driven through his wrists (which we only know about because of the doubt Thomas will express in a couple days (John 20:25)). A sign above Jesus declares in Greek, Latin, and Aramaic who he is: the King of the Jews.

The King is flanked on either side by thieves and around him are gawkers and mockers. “Let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” some yell (Luke 23:35). One dying thief even joins in the derision. They do not understand that if the King saves himself, their only hope for salvation is lost. Jesus asks his Father to forgive them. The other crucified thief sees a Messiah in the mutilated man beside him, and he asks the Messiah to remember him. Jesus’s prayer is beginning to be answered. Hundreds of millions will follow.

It is mid-afternoon now and the eerie darkness that has fallen has everyone on edge. But for Jesus, the darkness is a horror he has never known. This, more than the nails and thorns and lashings, is what made him sweat blood in the garden. The Father’s wrath is hitting him in full force. He is in that moment no longer the Blessed, but the Cursed (Galatians 3:13). He has become sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). In terrifying isolation, cut off from his Father and all humans he screams, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1). No greater love (John 15:13), humility (Philippians 2:8), or obedience (Hebrews 5:8) has ever or will ever be displayed.

Shortly after 3 PM, Jesus whispers hoarsely for a drink. In love, he has drained the cup of his Father’s wrath to the dregs. He has born our full curse. There is no debt left to pay and he has nothing left to give. The wine moistens his mouth just enough to say one final word: “It is finished” (John 19:30). And God the Son dies.

It is the worst and best of all human deaths. For on this tree he bears our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24), “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). And now it is finished.

The Tomb

A bright irony on this darkest of days is that the men who step forward to claim the corpse of the Christ for burial are not family members or disciples. They are members of the Sanhedrin: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. It is one more unexpected thread of grace woven into this tapestry of redemption. They quickly wrap Jesus’s body in a sheet and lay it in a nearby tomb. Evening is falling and they don’t have time to fully dress it with spices.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses accompany them, careful to note the tomb’s location. They plan to return with more spices after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, to make sure that it is finished.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Skala Color

iMore reports: [edited]

Skala, Bjango's next generation interface design tool for Mac, is still under development but a component of it, Skala Color, has just launched — and it's free for everyone.

Skala Color is a compact and feature-rich OS X color picker that works with a huge variety of formats, covering everything you're likely to need for web, iOS, Android and OS X development — Hex, CSS RGBA, CSS HSLA, UIColor, NSColor and more. It also automatically recognises colours copied to the clipboard, presenting them as a swatch that can be applied with a single click.

Video explanation below:


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Free Font - Saylor

Fun, legible 'scribbly' typeface by Bettina Johnson. From DaFont

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fuji X-T1

Digital Photography Review has published a full review of Fuji's fully-loaded mirrorless camera.

Snippets from the conclusion follow.

"The huge high-resolution electronic viewfinder is a joy to use, offering an excellent preview of how your images will turn out. Autofocus is impressively quick, and the X-T1 is one of the first mirrorless cameras that can properly track focus on subjects moving towards or away from the camera."

"Image quality is excellent; we've long been fans of Fujifilm's JPEG colour rendition, and the X-T1 doesn't disappoint. Colours are natural-looking, with consistently well-judged white balance, and skin tones in particular are nicely rendered. High ISO noise is well-controlled."

"We think it offers potentially better image quality than the Olympus OM-D E-M1."

"84% - Gold Award"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why do we eat?

The New Yorker has published an interesting article on the psychological reasons for hunger.

If this is a subject that interests you, read the whole article. But to whet your, erm, appetite, I've pasted some snippets below:

"Here are a few of the things that can make you hungry: seeing, smelling, reading, or even thinking about food. Recent studies show that our physical level of hunger does not correlate strongly with how much hunger we say that we feel or how much food we go on to consume."

"Traditionally, hunger has been seen as largely physiological: our body becomes depleted and, to maintain homeostasis — the body’s status quo — hormones are released into our bloodstream and stomach to signal to our brain that it’s time to replenish its resources."

"Food deprivation, however, is generally not a problem in modern, developed societies. While our ancestors had to struggle to consume enough calories, we can just go to the fridge or the supermarket. From an early age, we learn to depend increasingly on external, socially, and culturally based cues."

"Foremost among those factors is the time of day at which you learn to be hungry. Your scheduled lunch break at work or your usual family dinnertime can reliably set your stomach growling. Even if you’ve had an unusually late or large breakfast, your body is used to its lunch slot and will begin to release certain chemicals, such as insulin in your blood and ghrelin in your stomach, in anticipation of your typical habits, whether or not you’re actually calorie-depleted."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

London-Nottingham-London, 12-04-14

London to Nottingham
You're Moving Out Today - Carole Bayer Sager
Purple Toupee - They Might Be Giants
Bloodsports - Drenge
Young Folks (Featuring Victoria Bergsman) - Peter, Bjorn and John & Victoria Bergsman
What Is Love - Haddaway
Is That How You Get Off? - Big Yoga Muffin
Undercover Martyn - Two Door Cinema Club
I Won't Change You - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Hurricane - Bob Dylan
She's So High - Tal Bachman
Leave This Island - Maxïmo Park
S.O.S. In Bel Air - Phoenix
Mesmerise - Temples
Team - Lorde
When Can I See You Again? - Owl City
My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found - The Fiery Furnaces
Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar) - Jean Shepard
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett
Rubberband Girl - Kate Bush
Talking Backwards - Real Estate
Sunshine, Lollipops, Rainbows - Lesley Gore
Stoned and Starving - Parquet Courts
Loves Me Like A Rock - Paul Simon
United States Of Whatever - Liam Lynch
Holy City - Joan As Police Woman
California Love - 2Pac (feat. Dr. Dre)
Rock 'n' Roll Star - Oasis
Dancing On A Saturday Night - Barry Blue
Star Trekkin' - The Firm
Radiation Vibe - Fountains Of Wayne
Dance with Me - Orleans

Nottingham to London
Think (alt) - Aretha Franklin
Games - Claire
Fancy Footwork - Chromeo
All kinds of everything - Dana
Make an Ugly Woman Your Wife - Percy Sledge
You Really Got Me - The Kinks
Rip Her To Shreds - Blondie
Stop! In The Name Of Love - Diana Ross & the Supremes
Hippy With a Banjo - Those Darn Accordions
Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Bonnie Tyler
Snack Attack - Godley & Creme
Girls Lie Too - Terri Clark
Lose My Breath - Yuck
The Distance - Cake
Maybe I Know - Lesley Gore & Claus Ogerman
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - Billy Joel
Somewhere All the Time - Samantha Crain
The Cat Crept In - Mud
I heard a rumour - Bananarama
Take the Skinheads Bowling - Camper Van Beethoven
(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear - Blondie
Return to Yesterday - The Lilac Time
Big in Japan (Original) - Alphaville
Mean Streets - Tennis
She Don't Love Me - Trent Willmon
Witchdoctor - Cartoons
The Laughing Gnome - David Bowie
Digital Witness - St. Vincent
These Days - Nico
There Goes My First Love - Drifters
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies
Shake It - Metro Station
White Wedding - Billy Idol
There's A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought Of It Yet - Panic! At The Disco
Itchycoo Park - M People
Blinded By The Light - Manfred Mann

Friday, April 11, 2014

Faraday Porteur Electric Bicycle

Faraday Bikes reports: [edited]

Our flagship product is the Faraday Porteur – the bike that was dubbed 'the ultimate modern utility bike' by the Oregon Manifest bicycle design competition.

The Faraday Porteur will surprise your friends when you tell them it’s electric, and it will surprise you when you realise just how much is possible on a bicycle with a little 'boost'. Everything you need to ride safely and comfortably has been considered, from integrated front and rear lights to a sturdy, frame-mounted front rack, wood fenders, accessory bag, and 8-speed internal hub.

The Faraday Porteur. It’s for doing more than you ever thought possible – for keeping up with your friends, or leaving them in the dust. It’s your daily ride. It’s crazy fun.

Price: $3500.00

Thursday, April 10, 2014

MediaFire offering free 50GB of online storage

Computerworld reports: [edited]

MediaFire today went live with its Desktop cloud storage service, offering users up to 1TB of capacity for just $2.50 a month for newcomers. The service normally charges $5 for 1TB of online capacity, but chopped that price in half for a limited time as part of its initial launch.

MediaFire offers up to 50GB of free space before requiring payment for the full 1TB of capacity, compared with 2GB offered by other popular services.

MediaFire Desktop, a free application for OS X and Windows, allows users to upload, store and share content in the cloud, directly from their desktop and mobile devices. The service synchronizes data to a customer's OS X and Windows computers that are also connected via the application.

As with other file-sharing services, MediaFire allows multiple users to collaborate on projects by sharing folders and files and offering controls on who can edit and who can view content. Users can invite others to connect through the service by sending a link through Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger or email. There is also embedded-link sharing for online blogging platforms.

The application also has an "Activity Feed" that keeps track of a user's activity on MediaFire, including updates to files made by other users, new files received and system status messages.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Free Font - Comic Neue reports: [edited]

Comic Sans wasn’t designed to be the world’s most ubiquitous casual typeface. Comic Neue aspires to be the casual script of choice for everyone including the typographically savvy.

The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of Comic Sans have been beaten into shape while maintaining the honesty that made Comic Sans so popular.

There are two variants: Comic Neue and Comic Neue Angular, which features angular terminals rather than round. Both include light, regular, and bold weights, with oblique equivalents.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Phantom Vision 2+

DIY Photography reports: [edited]

DJI Phantom quadcopters are drones that take videos and photos from up in the air, like any basic helicopter shot you’ll see in movies. They’re effective, durable, and stay where they need to stay even if the wind is against them. And now the company is announcing their newest addition to the line: the Phantom Vision 2+.

Like the previous DJI Phantom 2, this drone will feature a 14 megapixel camera that can film 1080p at 30 fps. Where the Phantom Vision 2+ really improves is in how well it works: it’s claimed to be able to keep its position in the air at wind speeds of up to 25mph. Along with the stabilisation it gets from that department, it’ll also have integrated in it a 3 axis stabiliser.

The Phantom Vision 2+ comes with an app on both iOS and Android that enables you to shoot and watch at the same time, and you can do that with the drone up to as much as 2,300 feet away from you. The battery will give you 25 minutes of flying time on a full charge.

So what about when it’s that far away and the battery’s dying? Or what if you lose signal with it? You’re covered. The Phantom automatically enables a “Return to Home” feature where it returns to the home GPS spot that you establish for it beforehand.

Price: $1299


Monday, April 07, 2014

Extending your iPhone's battery life

Buzzfeed has published a helpful article explaining a number of ways to reduce the drain on your iPhone's battery.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Nest Thermostat - Now Available in the UK

TNW reports: [edited]

The Nest Thermostat has been available in the US since back in 2012, but due to differences in the way heating systems work it has taken a year-long, 100-household trial to work out the best way to deliver it to UK consumers. Nest says the Thermostat is compatible with “almost all central heating systems” in the UK.

The Nest Thermostat 'learns' the temperature you like in your home at different times and adjusts accordingly. The result, according to Nest, are potential savings of somewhere in the region of 4 percent to 20 percent off your annual heating bill. According to its research, the average UK home spends around £1,300 per year on heating, and could save between £9 and £353 per year, depending on conditions, existing schedule and a few other variables.

As well as learning your schedule over the first week or so (it doesn’t stop after this point, but those first few days will be the most instructive), it also has features like ‘Auto-Away’, which uses sensors in the device to recognise when there is no one around and therefore not to bother switching the heating on. Users can also review their energy usage history to see when they’ve been using the most, and see if there are any savings to be had at specific times.

It’ll also encourage you to turn your heating down by rewarding you with a leaf symbol each time you are below your normal temperature. There’s a gamification element at work here too as your leaf count is tallied and your ‘performance’ reflected in your monthly energy report comparing you to other Nest Thermostat users.

Handily, if you own a Nest Protect smoke alarm, the two devices can communicate with each other. So, say for example that the Protect detects carbon monoxide, it will instruct the Thermostat to switch the boiler off.

The UK version comes with the Thermostat control itself plus a ‘Nest Heat Link’ that connects directly to the boiler. Users then have the choice of either wiring in the Nest Thermostat where the old one was, or if the old one is in an inappropriate place, using it without wiring it in.

Nest is recommending that the Thermostat is purchased alongside professional installation for a total of £249, but it’s also available to buy as a standalone product for £179 from Nest’s website. It’ll also be available to buy from Amazon, B&Q, John Lewis and Apple.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Olympus Stylus SH-1

Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

The Olympus Stylus SH-1 may look like a PEN mirrorless camera, but it's actually a compact travel zoom.

It has inherited a feature from the PEN: 5-axis image stabilization. Other features of note include a 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor, 25-600mm equiv. F3.0-6.9 lens, touchscreen 3" LCD, limited manual control, 1080/60p video, and built-in Wi-Fi. It will be available in May in black, white, and silver for under $400.