After Four Days on Android

Last week at work we were issued new Nexus 5s to replace our ageing iPhone 4s. So after 4 days of using and tinkering?

Caveat: I realise 4 days isn’t much time and I may change my mind as I use the phone more, but given this is for work and I have a phone for personal use, I’m not willing to spend more time tinkering.

Android has some definite pluses:

- Apart from the larger screen, I like the flashing notifications alert on the Nexus 5.
– Google voice seems more reliable and smooth, probably because it doesn’t rely on the internet.
– Obviously it’s great if you’re a Google services fan so for my job, which is Google-centric, this is a better phone.
– It is more flexible.
– I can shop from within apps at non-Apple stores (e.g. Audible, Kindle, etc.)

But there is a dark side.

Some of these aren’t negatives – I am either undecided or they just don’t work for me.
– Android is more customisable but with that comes complexity. I’ve downloaded a couple of different keyboards and launchers, and the experience is frustrating. There’s a learning curve with each one you try.
– The launchers are someone else’s vision and can be more limiting. The ones I’ve tried don’t really work for me and I simply don’t have the time and inclination to research what will bring only a marginal improvement to my life.
– So I’m not really convinced about the value of Android’s flexibility. I know this is a none issue if you’re a tinkerer (maybe even a plus), but I prefer the no-brainer simplicity of iOS. Everything is a compromise and this is the compromise I prefer.
– I don’t like the way lock screen widgets work. On iOS only new notifications are visible on the lock screen. On Android a list of recent emails (header only, but nevertheless unnecessary) and my whole calendar is visible and I have to swipe multiple screens to access them. If there’s a way to change that I haven’t been able to find it and with iOS I don’t need to.
– I find the phone app generally more cumbersome (my work phone is actually a phone).
– Hangouts just seems messy to me.
– While I’m getting used to it, I don’t like the placement of the single sleep/wake button on the Nexus 5 (I know this is hardware specific, but I don’t get a choice of phones).

Some things haven’t had time to cook yet or I’m just undecided:

- iOS Notification Centre combines Google Now and Android’s notification centre. I haven’t used Android enough for Now to learn my behaviour and while I understand it’s more predictive and useful than Today, based on the kind of apps I do and don’t use I’m not yet convinced that it will really benefit me over Today. So maybe it’s a tie between iOS and Android on this one.
– Widgets offer much but deliver less, simply because they take up so much space. Once you have to swipe to another screen to see more widgets you may as well have just launched from an app’s icon. That said, I wish Apple would come up with a widget system. Widgets *are* useful and I think Apple would do it better.
– I prefer Apple’s home button for waking the device, but I do see the benefit of only having one hardware button on the Nexus 5 (it’s the placement I don’t like). This comes down to differences between the platforms and is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, I think.
– The smaller iPhone handset is easier to use. While I prefer the larger screen over the small hardware, form factor is a plus side for iOS. I still feel a middle size would be a good compromise.

Where I feel iOS is definitely better:

- I feel Apple’s Control and Notification Centres are better implemented. (Again I know that this can probably be changed in Android, but I’m not spending any more time trying to figure it out. After four days it shouldn’t be this difficult to implement if it’s meant to work that way).
– I prefer the lock screen.
– It think the UI is more consistent.
– I prefer the way Apple does app badges. Maybe I can do that in Android but I haven’t figure it out. Not such an issue if you use widgets, but as I’ve already said, you can’t use them for everything. Apple seems more ‘at a glance’ in this case.
– Generally, I prefer the Apple aesthetic and general approach. Android just seems messier.

So which is better? Neither, I think. I prefer iPhone and I would definitely recommend it to someone who prefers simple it-works-out-of-the-box. If you want to spend the time learning and like to tinker I think Android would be the clear winner, as long as you have a premium phone. For work, Android suits us better because we’re deep into Google, but for my personal phone I’ll be sticking with iPhone for now.

3 Kinds of People Who Need Your Help

“And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

(1 Thessalonians 5:14 HCSB)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that people often don’t perform to expectation (I know because I’m one of them). Sometimes that’s because expectations are unrealistic, but in his letter to the infant church at Thessalonica in Greece, the Apostle Paul identified 3 common kinds of ‘extra care required’ people. Probably we’ve all fitted into one of these categories at one time or another, so there’s really no room for judgment, but they do need different kinds of responses.

1. The Irresponsible. Paul tells us to warn those who are irresponsible. Fact is, in life and in  church, some people just need a slap around the head. They know better but they remain undisciplined, selfish, wilfully immature or rebellious in spite of wise and loving counsel from others. Like unruly children they make life difficult for the community. Sometimes we molly coddle people or tolerate them because we don’t want to judge, but such behaviour is destructive to the person and those around them and we need to warn them out of love. The goal is not to punish but to see them become mature and responsible adults.

2. The Discouraged. Nearly everyone gets discouraged at some point. These are good people who reach breaking point. It might be ongoing health or relationship trouble in the family; conflict or stress at work; financial pressure; burnout; disappointment with life and with God. Maybe it’s a case of ‘hope deferred making the heart grow sick.’ Some people just need encouragement and emotional or practical support while they work through the current crisis. When our resilience is low, we can start to behave badly, but this isn’t like the first category, the irresponsible, this is a drowning person flailing around in panic, trying to stay afloat. If we don’t see the warning signs early and give them the support and help they need, the danger is they will drop out of community altogether or fall into serious sin. The goal is to help them cope with the crisis and get strong again.

3. The Weak. In some ways, this group is the most challenging, especially for less compassionate and more capable people. Paul’s language in all these categories is quite non-specific and open, but the idea may be people who don’t have the resources to cope with life. There limitations may be physical, intellectual or emotional and, consequently, material (poverty). Some people experience trauma early or later in life that permanently scars them. Some are born with physical or intellectual limitations. Some struggle with ongoing temptations that ‘the strong’ may grow impatient with. It’s not a case of encouraging them through a difficult patch or giving them a kick in the posterior, they just don’t have the resources within themselves. They need ongoing love, support and generous helpings of patience, and always will. They teach those of us who may have less patience or tolerance that they are not the issue, we are! In a hard world these are the people who get left behind, but in a loving church they discover a family, and a God, who love them unconditionally. The goal is… love.

Who in your church or circles do you identify? Is there someone you need to warn, comfort or help? It takes discernment to know the difference, but do it in love and you’re half way there.

Why We Control Small Group Curriculum

At ECC the leadership decides what our Connect (small) Groups will study for the coming term. Church Consultant Thom Rainer explains why this is necessary:

  1. Because preaching is held to a higher standard, the perception becomes that the small group teaching is just not that important.
  2. The vision of the church could be distracted or derailed.
  3. It opens the door for heretical teaching.
  4. It takes away from the unity of the church.
  5. It does not allow for strategic teaching.

So it’s not because we’re a bunch of control freaks! And, of course, we’re open to suggestions. You can read the whole article at the link below.

Five Dangers of Unaligned Small Groups.

Openness, Closed-ness and Blogging

Open Sky and Sea

I’ve done very little blogging over the last few months. Part of that has been busyness, part because I haven’t felt like I have a lot to say (so I told myself) but, I’ve come to realise, a large part is fear.

On the one hand I have online privacy concerns – everything from Facebook privacy scandals to Prism. So I’ve been on a constant, and largely futile, pursuit to secure my online life. As a result, like the American government, I’ve become quite suspicious and opaque in my online dealings. Care must be taken of course, there are too many tales of identity theft and fraud. But ‘closed’ is not who I am or who I want to be. (That said, I have found a few useful tools along the way!)

On the other hand, some of my views on matters of faith and life have shifted from the ‘the right’ to ‘the centre’. I still believe in the foundations, but with so many fundies and cranks on the web it’s easy to become a target, or at least paranoid. Better not to rock the boat. The problem is, as a pastor, lecturer and disciple of Jesus, it’s not healthy, honest or helpful.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to get over it, and part of getting over it, I think, will be blogging. So you’ll probably see more of me here… or I may just run out of things to say. But consider this a first step.

Disagreement Between Eye-Witnesses Proves the Titanic Didn’t Sink

I had to post this from Scot McKnight:

Christianity is based on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, not whether or not its chroniclers messed up on a detail or two. All biographers and writers of history err, but this does not mean that we discount their value or discredit their entire testimony. The classic illustration of this is the sinking of the Titanic. When we look to the historical records, we find that the eyewitnesses who survived that night were divided as to how the Titanic went down. Half said it broke in two and went down, while the other half said it went down intact. Someone is wrong. However, no historian would say that the Titanic must not have gone down at all simply because there is a discrepancy in the details.

Rest of the post is here. Update: Oops, here’s the original article McKnight was quoting.

For the record, I believe in the inerrency of Scripture and that most of the ‘contradictions’ and ‘inaccuracies’ can be reconciled. I think McKnight is mounting an apology for the resurrection here, not arguing against Scripture.