Temptation is a Promised Lie

Woman holding a green apple and a doughnut. Courtesy of Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com.

I haven’t posted a personal thought in a long time, so I thought I would take the option to write about something I studied in a religion course I’m taking this semester. Several years ago I would write a religious post weekly, but I’ve felt less comfortable doing that for a while.

This week, one of the things I studied was the temptation of Christ after His forty-day fast. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll discuss this event using the account recorded in the gospel of Matthew. We read that being “an hungered,” as the King James Version of the Bible suggests, the tempter, Satan, approached the weakened Lord with three beguiling temptations: To turn the dry stones into nourishing bread, to demonstrate His power for all to see at the temple in Jerusalem and to worship Satan in exchange for earthly princedom.

Let’s focus on the latter, most bold temptation. The text in Matthew reads thus:

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wil fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:8-10)

Temptations are promises—perform an immoral act and receive a valuable earthly reward. In this case, the temptation was a lie, for Satan clearly had no intention of giving the Lord all the kingdoms of the world, and clearly had no power to do so anyway. Thus it is with all the little temptations that we find niggling in the back of our minds.

“You’re worthless,” a shriveled, dark thought might say from the deepest recess of your brain. “You should just give up. You’re a failure. You don’t belong, you’re an imposter. Nothing you do will ever matter.” These thoughts often arise in response to something happening to us, usually something we perceive as negative. Or perhaps a more alluring temptation is presented to us. “Fudge a little on your resume so you can land this job. Lie on these forms so you won’t have to pay as many taxes. Display your contempt to the cashier so you can feel powerful.” These temptations are, well, tempting, but the rewards they promise are hollow and dead. Getting a job because you lied on your resume will turn your life into a living hell since you won’t be qualified or knowledgeable enough to perform the work asked of you. Acting contemptuously towards a cashier won’t make you powerful, just contemptuous. Lying on your tax forms will likely bring the scrutiny of the IRS down on you, causing more trouble than your honesty would have. And giving up during a bad day won’t bring you any of the potential joy that lives in your future.

These negative thoughts are lies. I believe that it is possible for the tempter, Satan, to put these ideas in our minds, but I also think our brains are impressively capable of deceiving us all by themselves. The next time your brain promises a reward in exchange for an immoral act, ask yourself: Will I really be rewarded, or am I just being promised a tall tale?

Framework Laptop Review

With a new school year coming around, I decided that my unfortunately decrepit ThinkPad needed to be replaced. While I was researching my options (and being continuously disappointed by them), I came across Framework, an upstart company based in Palo Alto, CA, that has an axe to grind about the Right to Repair movement. Their first offering: A modular ultrabook. Just what I was looking for.

Now, this isn’t the MNT Reform or any of the various “upgradeable” laptops currently on the market. It isn’t made of LEGO bricks–it’s a very portable, thin, light ultrabook with a professional fit and finish. The real benefit is that every part is meant to be replaceable, from the power supply and battery to the monitor bezel.

Is that a… screwdriver?

Designed to be Repaired

The Framework laptop, while not a “hacker’s laptop” like the aforementioned MNT Reform, was designed from the ground up to be repaired. In fact, it comes in two flavors: DIY and Prebuilt. The DIY version can be purchased for as little as $999, allowing the user to provide their own SSD and RAM. I got the prebuilt version because it turned out to be slightly cheaper for the options I wanted.

But the SSD and RAM aren’t the only parts that are user-replaceable. The monitor, monitor bezel, keyboard, fingerprint reader, RAM, SSD, battery, motherboard, and more are all designed to be easily swapped out even by users with no laptop repair experience. The computer is even packaged with a screwdriver/spudger combo!\

Capable

My Framework laptop running Civilization VI

There were no compromises on performance with the edition of the Framework laptop that I received. With an Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 processor and 16GB of RAM, I can multitask and play light games all day long. This isn’t a gaming laptop–there are no discrete GPU options–but for an ultrabook, it packs a punch. Other options include the i5-1135G7 and i7-1185G7 processors and up to 32GB of RAM.

Expandable

Choose whatever ports you want. Or even a snack drawer.

The Framework laptop has four USB-C ports on either side, which are recessed into the frame. Expansion cards that can be purchased through Framework’s marketplace (or from third-party sellers) can give you a plethora of options that can be swapped on the go. I received my laptop with two USB-C cards and two USB-A cards.

Takeaway

If you can’t tell, I really love this laptop! I haven’t gone in-depth with my review as others have done so much better than I ever could, but my response to this computer is overwhelmingly positive. Since needing to upgrade to more powerful hardware is an eventuality, with Framework I know that I’ll be able to swap out those components myself rather than buy a whole new device, which is a huge cost-saver and more environmentally friendly than the prevailing business model in the industry.

I hope to see a lot more of these in the wild. The Anti-Macbook has arrived!

~RP

Upgrading my Workstation

Unlike so many, I’ve had the privilege of being able to continue to work throughout the pandemic with only minor interruptions. I haven’t been spending excessive amounts of time at home, and I’ve still had to squeeze a lot out of my off-time, with the computer business, school, and my volunteer work.

That being said, since I plan to significantly increase my school work load starting in the fall, I decided that I should put my stimulus to use and make some changes to my home workstation while it’s still financially feasible for me. Here, I’ll be documenting those changes as I go.

Note that this post contains affiliate links.

First, the before picture:

My old workstation, after cleaning off the desk and before any upgrades.

My planned upgrades are high-fidelity audio and a second monitor. Productivity to the max!

The Upgrades

After several days of working with these upgrades, I can say I’m very satisfied! I spent a little too much money, I think, and bought some things that I ended up not needing. I discovered that I prefer separate headphone and speaker controls, so I didn’t use the small RCA cables I had bought to connect the Atom amplifier to the D05.

I have to say that having a second monitor in portrait mode is extremely nice. I can use it for referring to documentation or textbooks while doing my main work on the landscape monitor. I highly recommend this configuration if you’re thinking about getting a second monitor for your own workspace.

As always, be well.

~RP

My Stance on Strong Encryption

Yesterday, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, legislation that would require technology companies to help law enforcement agencies to access encrypted data.

The Senators’ assertion that “[warrant-proof] encryption adds little to the security of the communications of the ordinary user”1 is incorrect. “Warrant-proof” encryption, their name for strong encryption without backdoors, is required to prevent sensitive data from falling into the hands of malicious individuals over the Internet, as can be seen by the sheer number of zero-day exploits that are discovered being used by hackers in the wild every month.

This legislation would also deal a severe blow to the freedom of the press, who rely on strong encryption when reporting on the activities of tyrannical regimes. Banning such encryption would, in fact, place the United States government several steps closer to tyranny itself, and would inevitably result in the abridgement of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments to the Constitution.

I urge my readers to contact their Senators and express their opposition to the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act. This is a moment to take a stand for freedom.

~RP

1: Graham, Cotton, Blackburn Introduce Balanced Solution to Bolster National Security, End Use of Warrant-Proof Encryption that Shields Criminal Activity. (2020, June 23). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/rep/releases/graham-cotton-blackburn-introduce-balanced-solution-to-bolster-national-security-end-use-of-warrant-proof-encryption-that-shields-criminal-activity

Go Kit Battery Box

My latest project has been modifying a battery box for the inevitable public safety power shutoffs this summer (and potential related emcomm use).

The box features a voltmeter with an integrated USB fast charger, a power switch to prevent inadvertent draining of the battery, and a 12-volt power socket.

The battery that I’m using is a 12-volt, 35 amp-hour AGM battery. There is extra space in the box to hold an inverter and spare parts.

Future improvements will include a panel-mounted quick-disconnect port to replace the one hanging out of the lid, and a 12-volt circuit ammeter to monitor my power usage.

This project was significantly more expensive to assemble myself than it would have been to purchase pre-built online; however, I was able to customize it and use higher-quality components from Powerwerx.

Parts List

5 Reasons Why Fanfiction is Easy to Write

I don’t normally read fanfiction; I generally despise it, as most of it is the most terribly written, hackneyed, typo-ridden dreck ever conceived. Rife with wish-fulfillment and self-inserts, fanfiction attracts the worst the amateur fiction community has to offer.

However, I’ve recently returned to a fanfiction site that I haven’t touched in over three years, and I realized that this genre of amateur literature (and it can occasionally be called that) has several benefits that make for great stories and easy entry into the hobby. Here are several reasons why fanfiction is easy to write and fun to read.

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Fanfiction is Easy to Write”

What America Needs the Most

      After my mission, I didn’t take much time to stay abreast of the latest news. I would hear bits and pieces of the latest depredations of foreign countries, a lot about Donald Trump, and some mutterings about “those darn Democrats” from my parents. Without taking time to actually formulate a coherent position on any of these topics, I decided that the nations of the world should try harder to get along, that I don’t like Donald Trump, and that partisan politics isn’t for me.

      But over the past two weeks—since the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, really—I’ve noticed a common thread in the biggest headlines in the newspapers at work and in the news apps I recently added to my phone. The United States is in serious trouble: Our Union is disintegrating, whether you like it or not. And after giving it some thought, I’d like to offer what I think is the one thing our great nation, and indeed all of us as individuals, need the most.

      Friendship. That’s right, everyone! The United States needs more friendships, within and without.

      I’m not talking about merely being more civil with each other, or ending the destructive tribalism that currently wracks the land. Yes, it’d be great to solve those problems, but I fear we’re not being courageous and bold enough to halt the disaster that is looming over the world when we focus on these issues. We need to start going out of our way to make new friends, to nurture those relationships, and to serve them with true care and concern.

      How many friends do you have? No, I don’t mean on Facebook, I mean actual friends, the kind of people that you share honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, and loyalty with. The kind of relationships where you feel comfortable bearing your soul, and listening to them bear their souls in return.

      What’s that you say? You don’t even have a relationship like that with your spouse?! Dear reader, I beg of you, make whatever changes are necessary in your life to start developing that kind of relationship with every person you meet. Don’t concern yourself if someone isn’t interested in being true friends with you, but open yourself to being true friends in the case that they are interested. And do whatever you can to pursue that friendship in every sector of your life—at home, at work, and everywhere between.

      I believe that only by turning our country into a nation of friends can we conquer the overwhelming challenges of our day. While we squabble together and focus on fighting the other, we lose the opportunity to become, individually, emblematic of the American Ideal: E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One. We need to be unified, yes, but we can do even better. We can care for each other, love each other, desire the best for one another, and be friends with each other.

      My challenge to you is to start by strengthening your relationships with your close family, then your extended family. Build strong bonds with your spouse, your children, and your parents. Then start to reach out, and seek opportunities to express care for your coworkers and others you interact with regularly. You needn’t be intrusive, but you can show them that you’ll be there when they need a shoulder to cry on.

      Without friendship among Americans, the United States is doomed.

~RP

Starting my Homelab

Because my career interests lie in the world of information technology (servers, computers, and the tech that connects them), I’ve been listening to a lot of related podcasts for the past several months. I recently started studying in earnest for the CompTIA A+ certification, which has been a fascinating review of things I know well, and additionally a lot of information that I didn’t know before. It’s a lot of fun!

That being said, I realized that there’s a long way for me to go in order to achieve the level of competency that I want, so I followed the advice of the people at r/ITCareerQuestions on Reddit and started to build my own home server experimentation lab, affectionately called a “Homelab” by the denizens of r/homelab.

I’ve completed the first step, which was to acquire a platform to start on. I’ll be adding a 4TB disk drive and a nice Noctua fan next week. Here it is!

It’s not much to look at yet, but this is the humble beginning of my homelab. It’s a refurbished Dell Optiplex 7010 with 24GB of RAM, Windows 10 Pro, and 1TB HDD. At the back you can see my 2TB single-drive Direct Access Storage (DAS) drive, which will supplement the 4TB datacenter drive that I ordered on Newegg.

My plan is to image the system drive so I can retain that copy of Win10 Pro, and then install it in a virtual machine on whatever hypervisor I decide to replace it with, alongside other services. I have a lot to learn, but this is what I’ll be learning with for now; I fully intend to upgrade this server with more storage space, more modern hardware (such as swapping the i7 and DDR3 for a Xeon and ECC DDR4), and eventually, enterprise-level equipment. It’s going to be fun!

~RP

Time to Leave Windows 7 Behind

Operating system vulnerabilities allow people with evil intent to do a variety of nefarious activities on your computer. They could install cryptocurrency miners, botnets, keyloggers, or other malicious software. They can also steal your data or hold it hostage through a ransomware attack. Since these are exploits of weaknesses in the operating system itself, there isn’t a lot that your antivirus software can do to stop them—only regular updates provided by Microsoft can patch these holes in your system security. And when those updates stop coming, you will be utterly defenseless. Is the convenience of putting off your upgrade worth the risk?

Continue reading “Time to Leave Windows 7 Behind”

I’m Still Reading

Dearest readers, whomever you are, I thank you for continuing to bear with me during the last couple months. Real life has prevented me from writing as often as I desire, but my passion for the art hasn’t waned. I wanted to share something from On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner that I read just now.

Finally, the true novelist is the one who doesn’t quit. Novel-writing is not so much a profession as a yoga, or “way,” an alternative to ordinary life-in-the-world. Its benefits are quasi-religious—a changed quality of mind and heart, satisfactions no non-novelist can understand—and its rigors generally bring no profit except to the spirit. For those who are authentically called to the profession, spiritual profits are enough.


Gardner, J. (1985). On Becoming a Novelist. New York: Harper & Row, p.145.

I’m still on track for reading 35 books this year, but I haven’t been able to maintain my goal of writing one short story per week. As long as I’m writing something I still feel that I’m making progress, however.

Be Well!

~RP