So a few weeks ago, I was doing cameras at church. Or maybe it was during the 6:33, our Tuesday men's group. In either case, the subject was brought up in the sermon that after Jesus' crucifiction, Peter had denied Jesus three times, and all that, he basically got really depressed, dropped his calling and went back to fishing.

The verse that really got me in this sermon though, was Mark 16:7 - "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"

Many think this means he was saying, "Go tell my followers, oh and Peter if you want to because Peter doesn't want to be part of the inner circle anymore." However, a point was made that really struck a chord with me.

Only three times does Jesus specifically refer to Peter as "Peter." All the other times we hear "Peter" mentioned, it's by the author. However, MOST of the time, Jesus refers to him by his birth-name, Simon. "Peter" was Jesus' new name for him, and basically was a way of calling out his true destiny. You THINK you're Simon, but I see your true calling in that you're a rock!

So the thing that really struck me wasn't the fact that Jesus singled Peter out as "not part of the group" when he said, "Go tell my disciples and Peter," but more that he called Peter out by his true name. Peter had gone back to being Simon after Jesus was killed. He went back to fishing for a living. Then Jesus came back and said, "Hey, Peter. You might THINK you're not gonna do what I told you you were gonna do, and you might be going back to what you knew before, but I still believe in you."

Phil Keaggy - Maker of the Universe

So I happen to like good "cosmic" worship songs. Hymns about space and stars and stuff just kinda get to me. Last night, my dad was talking to a guy about a Phil Keaggy song that was taken from an older hymn titled "Maker of the Universe." Overhearing the lyrics just blew me away, so I asked him to send me the link to the full rendition also. Here it is:

The Maker of the universe
As Man for man was made a curse
The claims of Law which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung
He died upon a cross of wood
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o'er His head
By Him above the earth was spread
The sun that hid from Him it's face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His for everlasting years
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow.

The Maker of the universe
The Maker of the universe
The Maker of the universe.

Phil Keaggy - Maker Of The Universe Lyrics @

AR.Drone - Infrequently Asked Questions

Just recently (like, yesterday), I received my first (and hopefully long-lasting) AR.Drone 2 from Parrot in the mail!

This thing is a four-rotor remote-controlled copter operated with an app on my Android!

So far, I can say I'm fairly happy with it, save for the stock battery which, in short, is really really sad.

However, with a bit of research on the web, especially at the Parrot, I've found out quite a few things about this device which isn't covered in, say, the user manual or the quick start guide.

So I'll cover a few of what I'll call my "Infrequently Asked Questions," since there are plenty of FAQ's out there and they all say about the same things, which, for someone with at least a LITTLE programming background, should be pretty straightforward. However, there were a few things which I could not find any mention of that I found particularly interesting, or notable.

Daniel's Infrequently Asked Questions about 
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
  • What are those stickers and where do they go?
    • Those stickers are for a game that works only on iDevices. From what I gather, they're simply markers that you stick on your indoor hull (the styrofoam thing with four rings), to basically ID your drone from the others. You then fly the multiple drones around in a sort of combat flight simulator fashion.
    • The stickers come in packs of six. Two go on the front, two on the back and one on each side:

    • The stickers are sent in rectangles. The indoor hull is NOT rectangular, but tilted just a little bit. Thus, when you try to stick these stickers on in the correct positions, they might crease or bubble. If you're good enough at it, you can trim the stickers with scissors to get them to the right shape so this doesn't happen, but if you stick them on without trimming, it's easy enough to just press the creases flat enough so they're not noticeable.
  • What's that little piece of black tape on the bottom of the main body?
    • I risked it and looked underneath. There's actually a small IDE connector under there. I assume it's for "advanced" servicing, probably by Parrot technicians that have a special custom piece of test equipment just for that interface. You could probably see it better if you were to start replacing interface boards and such. It's best to leave the tape on, so dirt and grime doesn't get into the main body. JUST the transparent plastic film has to be removed.
  • How do I know the battery is charging or charged?
    • All battery chargers are different. My old NiMH charger LED turns green when charging and off when finished. The AR.Drone charger turns red when charging and green when finished. The battery is probably going to be discharged when it arrives in the mail. Mine was. I couldn't just fly it straight out of the box. But that wasn't a big deal anyway. Just an hour or so of charging.
  • Best way to put the battery in the holder?
    • Probably fairly self-explanatory, but I found that putting the battery in backward, with the wire and molex connector facing AWAY from the internal power cable was best. This way, both cables could be looped back over the battery pack and connected, which would take up the slack and keep everything nice and tidy:

  • You're still using that stupid stock battery?
    • Yeah. And it's sad. It only lasts all of four minutes. The battery is FINE with voltage. All cells seem to be good, even though the thing charges in about 40 minutes and discharges in 4. I mean, without a load, I read around 12.3VDC on the output connector and a number of various voltages acrossall the input charging pins. However, I DID updgrade to 2.1.20 right off the bat, which I read on the forums afterward is a bad firmware version, mostly due to "drifting" when the drone is hovering without any additional commands. I downgraded back to 2.1.16 using the tutorial I found on the ardrone-flyers forum and hope to try flying again this morning to see if it also at least partially fixed the battery problem.
    • Yes, I plan to find a better battery soon.
  • Can I ask another question that aren't listed in any regular FAQs?
    • Heck, sure! I'll try to answer them, or at least point somewhere where I find the answer. Just ask in the comments.
  • I don't care, but what are your profile pages on those forums at?
    • I don't care that you don't care, but since you asked, you can find me at the following:
    • Don't go thinking I'm an expert. I'm totally not. Yet. I just got this thing, this is my first flying machine, and I'm learning as I go, taking into account all the safety notes and important read-before-you-fly articles, like, seriously practice with the indoor hull before taking it off. This thing is NOT as robust as Parrot claims and building a fully-operational drone from just replacement parts actually costs $150 more than if you were to simply purchase a new one. So replacement parts are NOT a good deal, unless you find some great listing on eBay.
  • What's all this jazz about "lipo?" Does everybody who buys these things have some sort of obesity problem that requires surgery?
    • No. LiPo stands for Lithium Polymer. They're just turning the acronym "LiPo" into yet another buzz phrase, like "lol" (pronounced "lol"), and "email" (which originally stood for "electronic mail").
  • What's the difference between a geek, a nerd and a dork?
    • Geeks know they're geeks. And they're proud of it. And they work more on their image of geekery than they do on actually doing useful geekish things.
    • Nerds are similar to geeks, but don't actually know it, or don't care. They just care about knowing the right answer to a problem or question or dilemma.
    • Dorks just dress poorly.
  • You probably think you're a nerd then, huh?
    • Yeah...

Businesses on Facebook

Recently I got an email from a guy at Brinkster, a web hosting service I have used in the past.

It read:

It’s a very common story; business owners everywhere feel that they are just wasting their time on Facebook.
  • “How come no one is commenting?”
  • “Why isn’t anyone liking our page?”
  • “I feel like no one cares about our updates.”

Too often the business ends up throwing in the towel, abandoning their social media efforts entirely – or giving a half-hearted effort.

But that’s not a good idea! Actually, that’s a really BAD idea. Your Facebook page is more than a potential online megaphone; it’s the opportunity to connect your consumers to your business.

So….what ARE you supposed to do?
Many companies have successfully mastered the power of Facebook. You don’t have to be a big company to get great results.  Join our free webinar that will show you best practices used by the most successful companies in creating a great Facebook experience.

This FREE webinar is the 3rd in Brinkster’s Summer Social Media Marketing Webinar Series and will be hosted on July 25, 2012. Join us and reserve your seat by signing up today.
We know we can’t cover everything in just three sessions. So, if you need more help learning how to build your social media strategy, we encourage you to check out the newest training series from The Art of Online Marketing called: The Missing Links to Social Media Marketing. This self-paced, in-depth, and easy-to-understand course takes you step-by-step through bite-sized lessons to help you succeed with social media.  Registrations for this social media course start today.

I had to laugh. Especially at the three questions, which I will now attempt to answer in a most cynical and sarcastic manner:

1. "How come no one is commenting?" Nobody CAN comment on what you post. Nobody cares to say, "Oh that's so awesome! Here's a photo of my kid." when you simply post, "Q2 2012 profits are down 20% from Q1 2012. See this press release for more info."
2. "Why isn't anyone liking our page?" Because there ISN'T anyone who likes your page.
3. "I feel like no one cares about our updates." You're right. I sure don't care.

It also reminded me of a blog post Jon Acuff wrote a few months ago titled "Does your business need to understand social media?" It basically said, "If your business is not people oriented, or at all social in nature, then you don't even NEED Facebook. It's a waste of your time."

Agreed. I think I'll junk this email.

PLC and Hardware Control

Aha! Thank you, Dad for my new Arduino hardware controller (and the partially-outfitted Craftsman toolbox to make my life simpler when building stuff)! Easy easy to program, and easier to wire up!

There was a time a few years ago that we were playing with a Seimen's PLC at my old job, and the process to program it via their development package was more confusing than anything. I've seen Lego Mindstorms being programmed: VERY complicated. Arduino has taken these shortcomings of other PLCs and simplified -everything- to make these things easy to understand. All you REALLY need to know is basic electronics and basic programming structure (preferrably in C) and you too can program up one of these things.

The interface is amazingly simple. No frills, no complicated menus, no toolboxes or hundreds of buttons to hunt for in some confusing tree structure of some far-off galaxy of a development suite. Open the development software and you get a single window with a single text box and a base menu. Open one of the examples from this window (simply File>Examples), and you get another window with some predefined text in the textbox. Simple.

So really, the only things keeping me from creating some amazing electronic system now is 1) lack of resources, and 2) a blockage in my own mental creativity.

If I wanted to create a mobile robotic system, I would need motors and drives for them: something which I simply do not have at the moment. But I don't know if I WANT to make a mobile robotic system. Or a light fader. Or a garage door opener (actually, NO I do NOT want to make this. It's been overdone), or something else. So for now I just have to settle for IBBLs in random or pseudo-random or extremely predictable patterns. Fun stuff though! More to come, maybe!

I want ideas. Perhaps if I open a poll, or something similar, I can get your feedback (and mine as well). I have about 25 minutes, so let's see if I can get something set up in that time...

Edit: See big fat link above (or QR below).