My Worth is Inherent and Intrinsic

Eight months ago, I failed a midterm examination worth 50% of my grade. While I did better on the final examination, I did not pass the class. As a result, my plans for graduation were postponed by one semester so that I could retake the course. Thankfully, I earned a ‘B’ on the second pass. Today I took the midterm of another course from the same instructor. Based on my performance during the exam, there is a substantial possibility that I failed this exam.

The possibility of retaking a second course from the same instructor and delaying graduation yet another four months is terrifying. It strikes not only at my finances and future plans, but also at my sense of self-worth. When I was a child, I derived much of my worth from the approbation of others–especially my school teachers–and my academic success. Today I know that my worth is inherent and intrinsic, and that it comes from God. My hope of salvation depends on my faithfulness and obedience, not on any worldly success.

Further, as I was reminded yesterday by a trusted mentor, “It’s not about me.” I’m here to learn and to prepare to serve my patients and provide for my family. It’s not about me.

Finally, I am glad that, during this trial, I was able to control my emotions and avoid transference of the stress to others.

If you are struggling with feelings of worthlessness, I encourage you to pray and ask God, “Lovest Thou me?” I know that He will answer your sincere prayer. He has answered my prayer, and since He is no respecter of persons, and since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I know that He will treat you with the same kindness and concern. You are His child. Great is your worth, incredible is your potential.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Communicate, Coordinate, Collaborate

Yesterday I taught a class at the Naperville Family History Conference.  I was one of about a dozen presenters.  It was thrilling to talk with local genealogy experts.  The conference held four sessions of four simultaneous tracks, or sixteen (16) classes in total.  It was organized by the Naperville Illinois Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Christine Bell did a great job as principle coordinator.

The outline of my class is publicly available online:

The conference class materials and presenter biographies are also available:
Cheers,
JF

You have a friend in the banking business

I found a bank with better rates: Ally Bank.

From Reuters:

Nineteen large banks underwent government “stress tests,” and of the 10 told to raise capital, GMAC had by far the biggest shortfall relative to its size.

Many analysts believe GMAC will need another bailout. Gupta declined to discuss specifics about efforts to raise capital. (Source: GMAC renames bank unit Ally Bank, drops own name, reuters.com)

From WSJ:

What happens if Ally falls short? “A brilliant marketing strategy with a great name like this will blow up in their face. People will be like ‘Is this what they claim of being an ally?’” Barrera said. (Source: Bye Bye, GMAC: Will ‘Ally Bank’ Work or Not? WSJ.com)

From Ally Bank’s FAQ:

Maximize your FDIC insurance

Deposits at Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured institutions are now insured up to at least $250,000 per depositor through December 31, 2013.
Get more out of FDIC insurance with a few tips from us

Know the facts. You could be covered for more than $250,000. Here’s a simple example of how one couple could be insured up to $1,500,000:
Ally Bank Account 1: John Doe, $250,000
Ally Bank Account 2: Mary Doe, $250,000
Ally Bank Account 3: Joint Account, John and Mary Doe, $500,000
Ally Bank Account 4: John Doe, In Trust For (ITF) Mary Doe, $250,000
Ally Bank Account 5: Mary Doe, In Trust For (ITF) John Doe, $250,000
Total: $1,500,000
Have a family of 3? See how you could have coverage up to $1.75 million.

Family of 4? See how you could be covered up to $2.55 million.

(Source: FDIC insurance, ally.com)

I feel like GMAC is leaning heavily on FDIC.  In fact, I feel like the entire American banking institution is leaning on FDIC.  So, am I banking with Ally, GMAC, or the Incorporated States of America?

External Links

Suggestions for Internet Safety

The Internets are wonderful tools to learn, create, and connect with those we love.  However, we must use extreme caution when using the Internets, just as we use extreme caution in where we go at certain times of the day.  Some websites are informational; others are a waste of time; some website are even dangerous.  Here are some of the things I do to avoid pornography online.  I hope they will be helpful to you.

I always use two Firefox extensions to add a few layers of protective armor to my browser, at home, work, and school:

Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus, or ABP, removes the vast majority of advertisements online, many of which use inappropriate images. If any slip through, you can simply right-click the image and block all ads in that space using regular expression rules.

If you use Adblock Plus, will you also want to use Adblock Filterset.G Updater.  This extension automatically updates the latest version of the filter list of your choice (I use EasyList).

WOT, Web of Trust

While ABP will protect you from some of the border-line inappropriate images while loading a site, WOT, or Web of Trust, will help you to avoid entire websites that might be untrustworthy or down-right dangerous.

WOT works because thousands of individual users rate websites in four areas:

  1. Trustworthyness
  2. Vender Reliability
  3. Privacy
  4. Child Safety

WOT adds a friendly colored circle next to each hyperlink.  If the cicle is green, then other users have rated the site as safe and trustworthy; if the circle is yellow, proceed with caution.  Red circles indicate dangerous websites.

I strongly recommend these add-ons for anyone who uses the Internet.  Cheers!

Family Business

Some of you were aware that we were applying for a job as live-in managers of a storage unit rental facility in Payson.  Well, we got the job!

They were looking for someone with computer skills, people skills, and who wouldn’t mind being home all day Tuesday-Saturday, to answer the door and the phone.  Also, they wanted a spouse who would be willing and able to fix stuff and do basic maintenance around the property.  We got the job based on a resume, a phone interview, and an in-person behavioral interview.

As compensation, we will be living in a very nice, 3-bedroom manufactured home, plus benefits.  We are very excited about the job and our upcoming move.

Cheers,
jFc + eac

Amoral Google: “Do no[t stand up to] evil”

I am disgusted with the frequency and indecency of the content in the Google Apps Content Directory.  My father purchased a domain name for the family.  We use the name and accompanying Google Apps website to host our (private) family blog, calendar, wiki, docs, and more.  It’s great.  But there’s one problem:  it’s unsafe for children.  From the Start Page, there is an attractive link on the right: “Add Stuff.”  One click away, and the child, or user, is viewing pornography.

The disclaimer for the iGoogle “add stuff” page reads:

Most of the content in this directory was developed by Google users. Google makes no representations about its performance, quality, or content. Google doesn’t charge for inclusion in this directory or accept payment for better placement.

Source: Add Gadgets to your Homepage, google.com/ig

For a Google Apps site, it reads:

Much of the content in this directory was developed by other companies or by Google’s users, not by Google. Google makes no promises or representations about its performance, quality, or content. Google doesn’t charge for inclusion in this directory or accept payment for better placement.

Source: Google Apps, “Homepage Content Directory”, URL unavailable

While mostly harmless on the surface, this is unacceptable for a family website.  While Google claims to be amoral and “does no evil,” they must not and cannot continue to peddle such filth and make it easily accessible to children.  As a domain administrator, I need the ability to control the items in the Content Directory.  Or, at very least, apply the same “Strict Filtering” algorithm used in normal web searches to the Content Directory.

Basically, I am asking Google to remove pornography from the Start Page of my neices and nephews, all 20 of whom are less than 15 years of age, including pre-teens and young teenagers who are ripe to be lulled down a dark alley on the Internet through an attractive link.  Two weeks ago, Facebook and MySpace were infected with a virus which injected malicious links into the profiles of users.  (If you have an account with them, you might want to check your profile.)

It’s not that I don’t trust the children; I don’t trust myself.  Just today I noticed two comments in my Akshmi spambox.  I happily read and approved both of them, grateful that Akshmi has stopped over 1,000 pieces of comment spam on this website.  One of the comments disagreed me; the other simply stated, “I agreed with you.”  The link posted as the “website” for the visitor included a rape video and dozens of links to similarly evil webpages.  I marked the comment as spam and then validated the links for all the other comments.

What should Google do?  Should they continue to sell advertising space to those who publish, sell, and promote pornography?  Should they continue their somewhat amoral stance?  Obviously, they cannot embrace pornography, because most people recognize it as evil.

What should I do about it?  Should I boycott the search giant’s products and services?  I have used BackRub for years, and I am a loyal advocate, praising them to family and friends.  But if they refuse to filter the pornography in the Content Directory, then we will have to remove our family website from their servers and find a better hosting solution.  It will be hard, and we would have to give up a great deal, but I would far rather sacrifice a few Web2.0 features than see the children of my siblings suffer from clicking a seemingly-innocent link.