Decade of Difference

Surprisingly, my WorldTimZone personal website has been in operation for at least seventeen years. Over the past decade, various web pages on the site have been added and tweaked, but the blog has been dormant. In part that’s due to time constraints and focus elsewhere — what is a personal website all about, anyway? — but also due to technical issues.

This site began like much of the early World Wide Web as a collection of basic web pages hand-coded in HTML. In those days we simply called them “websites” and they were personal, quirky, delightful, and unique. People everywhere were creating “firsts”: these were the days where nothing was on the Web and people were creating wonderous new websites about things important and trivial.

In those early days, people tried to guide others to additions and improvements to their sites be adding “New” or “Updated” tags or special “What’s New” pages, but this felt superfluous on a Web where everything was always changing and continually being updated 1. Plus, this quickly became a maintenance burden for hand-coded pages, especially as the websites grew in scope and size.

And then came the blog (short for web-log) and turned everything upside down. I mean that almost literally: at the start, blogs primarily were about update posts linked and shown on a reverse chronological timeline page. “Newest on top”.

The other main attraction of blog software was that it took away the maintenance burden. Instead of hand-coding the HTML pages, the software would manage a database of information and dynamically build the web pages while handling all the linking and relevant updates across the website.

Like many, I was enticed by the blog and threw out my homegrown pages and incorporated blog software into my website sometime in 2001. I started with b2/cafelog and added a blog section to my site. B2 was fairly simple and was the most usable blog software that I found. I also appreciated that it was Free Software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It wasn’t until a year or so later that I realized how much this mattered.

Somewhat abruptly the creator of b2 disappeared and there was a scramble to figure out how to keep fixing and improving it. A number of groups took the b2 software and created their own versions (forks). I evaluated several and liked some of the ideas in b2evolution, but the one that most attracted me was WordPress. From the start, WordPress strongly emphasized usability. I resonated with this focus and was happy when it was the named the official successor to b2 2.

Since I’m a programmer, and because the blog software wasn’t overly complicated, I was able to mash the early version of WordPress into my site’s existing b2/cafelog software to create a wicked WordPress/b2 hybrid/variant, giving me the best of both worlds. 3 WordPress countinued development and improvements and I eventually upgraded the site to WordPress version 1.2 (more or less).

Due to transferring hosting providers, database configuration changes, and some vaguely rememebered challenge I had upgrading my WordPress variation, my blog got stuck on WordPress 1.2 and time slipped by. I’m honestly shocked that it was still working (albeit was throwing PHP warnings into the logs). The only plugin I’d been using at the time was MarkDown 1.0b4. PHP compatibility kept it mostly working and I know I rewrote some of the WordPress internals (and disabled others) to stay functional. I finallly got around to upgrading and reconfiguring the site to use the current WordPress 4.9.1. Counting all releases (regular, maintenance, and security fixes) in between, this is jump of 280 WordPress releases! If you only count the major point releases, this is 30 releases later. Either way you count it, it’s a big upgrade.


  1. In those early days websites included obligatory Under Construction notices to inform the reader that the site wasn’t “Done”. Now it is assumed. 

  2. The 60 second guide to b2/cafelog tells more about b2 and the start of WordPress. 

  3. Or so I thought. I was primarily focused on usability. I suspect that I included minor usability refinements from b2evolution as well. 

Check Your Computer for 2007 Daylight Saving Time

As you are no doubt aware, the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended daylight saving time (DST) in the U.S. by four weeks. Starting in 2007, DST begins on the second Sunday in March instead of in April and ends the first Sunday in November. Canada adopted the same rules as the U.S.

While there are a number of sites that describe how to update your computer with the revised DST rules — I used the TZEdit.exe application on some older Windows boxes as described here — I found few that tell you how to check whether or not your computer is properly updated.

Since the JavaScript date object allows access to a computer’s time zone information, it should be possible to determine whether or not a computer is properly configured just by viewing a web page. After you have updated your computer with the new DST rules, you need to restart your browser to test it.

The line below indicates whether or not your computer is set up properly:

Hellos and Goodbyes

Do we meet people by accident? Is it fate? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Certainly the people around us influence us (for good or bad, and often a bit of both). What is it that impacts us and why? Is it our choice? Or chance?

Early on in my journey into Orthodox Christianity I heard the phrase “Intentional Orthodox Eucharisitic Community” and began to contemplate what it meant to live out those words singularly and collectively. I was prepared for this at some level by the experience of living in a dorm at Asbury College and by the incredible guys that have become my lifelong friends and family. I didn’t choose them to live on that particular floor of that specific dorm with me, but it has been my good fortune that we were thrown together. And yet… it wasn’t the mere proximity but something beyond. We made repeated choices to get to know each other, to be honest with each other, and to grow as friends.

It can be so joyous to make new friends.

Even prior to my college experience I had a yearning for a place where people shared Christian love and fellowship. In my high school years, our church experienced the loss of a wonderful pastor. At the time, it didn’t seem a big deal to me, after all I was leaving for college relatively soon, and how much did it really matter anyway? That the new pastor was relatively younger and seemed to be less attached to (or rooted in) the traditions of the church proved to be divisive and many families left the church, including, eventually, my family. It was strange to come home and see the old families at a sort of church reunion, except that the families were coming together from all over town. In a real sense, these were my family as well and they had been divided.

I’ve since heard some other good phrases from various Orthodox folk. “I don’t know what it means, but it means.” Father Stephen Freeman shared with us the idea that “those that come to us have been given to us for our salvation.”

Next week we will welcome a new priest and family and lose a priest and family and I feel a little better prepared to say Goodbye (God be with you!) and Hello.

Continuing the Journey

Look at that — a new post and a new theme. When I began work on the lamppost theme last year, I also had an idea of doing a Dawn Treader theme. It’s been frustratingly slow to develop. According to the file timestamps on my computer, it appears I first started working on it on March 31, 2006. It’s been an off-and-on process since then, mostly of five or ten minutes at a time with long gaps in between. I finally decided it was time to let it go. So, in the best “it’s good enough, but will likely be changed again soon” spirit of the web, here it is.

I enjoyed the playfulness of the animated snowflakes in the previous theme and wanted to try another animated theme. I experimented with various animations of the waves, but they all conspired to make me seasick (like Eustace) and most had prohibitively large file sizes. In the end, I’m close to the picture as it is described in the book, with just a hint that it is about to come to life—a slight ripple in the pennant at the top of the mast. I hope you enjoy it.

It was a picture of a ship—a ship sailing nearly straight towards you. Her prow was gilded and shaped like the head of a dragon with a wide open mouth. She had only one mast and one large, square sail which was a rich purple. The sides of the ship—what you could see of them where the gilded wings of the dragon ended—were green. She had just run up to the top of one glorious wave, and the nearer slope of that wave came down towards you, with streaks and bubbles on it….

“The question is,” said Edmund, “whether it doesn’t make things worse, looking at a Narnian ship when you can’t get there.”

“Even looking is better than nothing,” said Lucy. “And she is such a very Narnian ship.”

“It’s a rotten picture,” said Eustace. “Why do you like it?”

“Well, for one thing,” said Lucy, “I like it because the ship looks as if it was really moving. And the water looks as if it was really wet. And the waves look as if they were really going up and down.”

Of course Eustace knew lots of answers to this, but he didn’t say anything. The reason was that at that very moment he looked at the waves and saw that they did look very much indeed as if they were going up and down….

The things in the picture were moving… Down went the prow of the ship into the wave and up went a great shock of spray. And then up went the wave behind her, and her stern and her deck became visible for the first time, and then disappeared as the next wave came to meet her and her bows went up again…. Lucy felt all her hair whipping round her face as it does on a windy day. And this was a windy day; but the wind was blowing out of the picture towards them. And suddenly with the wind came the noises—the swishing of waves and the slap of water against the ship’s sides and the creaking and the over-all high, steady roar of air and water. But it was the smell, the wild, briny smell, which really convinced Lucy that she was not dreaming.


— from The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis.

Reading the Bible

The Come Receive the Light radio broadcast for January 7, 2006 featured Father Thomas Hopko speaking about how to include Bible reading in your day. Father Thomas is a wonderful speaker and he gave many good suggestions: read the scriptures regularly, keep the readings short so it can be done, don’t read when you’re likely to be tired. He also discussed the merits of various translations and the differences between reading and studying the word. I highly recommend you listen to the broadcast (Real) (or listen to the MP3).

I especially enjoyed his retelling of a story from the desert fathers:

Our topic today is not so much Bible study, it’s Bible reading, what was called in the old roman church — the old early Orthodox church in the latin version — lectio divina. That’s where you just read it to read it. You spend five, ten minutes with it a day and you just read it.

There’s a story in the desert fathers, how one fellow would be listening — they weren’t reading in those days because they didn’t all have books — but he was listening every day to the reading of the Scripture in the gathering of the brothers (in the synaxis).

So he comes to the old guy one day and he says to him, “I’m leavin’. This is a waste of time.”

And the old guy says, “Why?”

He said, “Because I can’t remember anything. I go in there and I hear this and the minute I go out and I can’t remember anything.”

The old man says to him “Well I tell you, before you leave, do something, okay? Do this: Get two buckets and put them by the door of your cell. Every day at the prayer of the hours you go to the spring and you fill up one of the buckets with water and then you pour the water out. But every day the same bucket. You fill it up and you pour it out.”

So the guy says, “Okay.”

So after a year the old man comes back and he said, “Did you do what I told you?”

The guy says, “Yes.”

He said, “Well, let’s look at the buckets.” So the buckets are sitting there and he says, “What’s in them?”

He says, “Nothing. They’re both empty.”

Then the old man says, “Why is one of them very clean and very nice and the other one is just filled with spiders and cobwebs and dust and dirt?”

The young guy says, “Well obviously, father, the clean one is the one that I filled up and poured out the water every day.”

The old man said, “There’s your answer: they’re both empty.”

In other words, the word of God has to pass through us and cleanse us. But sometimes we may not retain it. And John Climacus said the same thing, he said “The remembrance of the word of God is not done by the brain, it’s done by the behavior.”

So I think we need just to read it — just expose ourselves to it. And I would even say to people if you don’t understand something, let it go. Just let it go. Cling to the part that you do understand. And of course if you’re reading gospels and not maybe letter to the Romans or some Old Testament book might be tough, but the psalms and the gospels they are pretty straight forward … and we’re familiar with them. But we just need to keep repeating and repeating.

Kodak Kills the K

Kodak has decided to break out of the box. It is eliminating the widely recognized somewhat K-shaped box that has contained the Kodak wordmark for the last 70 years. The new logo — really just the Kodak brand name set in a new custom typeface with lines above and below — continues to use the company’s red and yellow colors.

Comparison of old and new Kodak logos

It is hard to believe that Eastman Kodak would throw away its brand, as UPS did earlier, but it appears they feel it will help them get away from being known primarily for film photography. According to an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Kodak wants the new logo to provide a “contemporary look but be flexible enough to apply in new ways and new venues across Kodak’s varied businesses –everything from tiny handheld digital cameras to computer software to the letters on Kodak buildings around the world.”

It probably is unfair to compare the old logo with the new one. Kodak had already stepped away from using the old logo on packaging, opting instead to simply use the lettering from the old logo without the box. When comparing on that basis, at least the new one is moderately distinctive.

Old Kodak wordmark

In other boring logo news, Intel has decided to change theirs as well. Since the company is eliminating the Intel Inside phrase it is worth mentioning, but getting rid of the dropped E and adding a swirl sounds tired before it even gets much exposure.

Narnia: Omitted Scenes

Let’s continue looking at the differences between the book and movie versions of The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that I began earlier. In this installment, I’ll look at a number of scenes from the book that do not appear in the movie at all or are revised and shortened. Strangely, much of the physical comedy has been eliminated. I would have thought that much of it would work on screen.

  • The tail of Tumnus (Not a scene, but a minor detail. Still sad to lose.)
  • The children chase the robin and get lost — there’s no going back (This is important in myth. Would avoid all the “sending you home” stuff.)
  • Fishing with Mr. Beaver, and the meal (perhaps fun to watch, but easily cut)
  • The stone lion and dwarf (arguably there, but different.)
  • The thaw — spring arrives (This is hinted at in the movie, but I would have liked to see more of the snow melting and flowers. The ice break scene added to the movie conveys the opposite effect: the children should enjoy the thaw, not fear it.)
  • Witch prepares to kill Edmund (This shows her cruelty and how evil wants to destroy us.)
  • Witch and dwarf become invisible (The book includes an important line from Aslan about evil only being able to deceive.)
  • Beruna fording and march (This could have been an impressive journey, but may have just been slow.)
  • The romp after Aslan’s resurrection (Shows he is full of life and the joy of living.)
  • The giant Rumblebuffin and Lucy’s handkerchee (Fun physical comedy, but may have been cliche)
  • Hunting for Mr. Tumnus in stone (I can see that given the lack of the lion and dwarf scene, there needs to be someone to care about. Still, it seems there was very little of the emptying of “hell’s depths”.)
  • The giant breaks down the gates of the witch’s castle (breaking down hell’s gates)
  • Us Lions (Which leads to a potential problem with how lions would be treated in Narnia. Perhaps better off left out. This might be revisited if they ever make a film version of The Last Battle.)

Note: I found this post in my drafts folder. Not sure how it never got published, so publishing it a dozen years late (December 30, 2017). Thanks for your patience.

Narnia: An Expanded Beginning

I’ll now continue looking at the differences between the book and movie versions of The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that I began with the introduction. In this installment, I’ll look at how the movie expands the beginning of the book.

The movie opens with the German Luftwaffe bombing London and eventually shows the evacuation of the children into the country. This seems a reasonable change—it takes the single sentence from the book “This is a story about something that happened to [the four children] when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids” and gives it a vivid setting that previous generations may not have needed. It also allows the introduction of the four children. From the beginning of the movie we see squabbling between the children and feel that they are motivated by a sense of loss—despite the bombs falling nearby, Edmund refuses to take cover in the bomb shelter until he has rushed back into the house for a picture of, we assume, their father. There is also a heart breaking scene as the children say goodbye to their mother at the train station prior to going into the country.

The train ride from London into the country seems one of the more joyful moments of the film, perhaps because of the music and colorful shots of the train—or perhaps just because there’s something wonderful about watching a beautiful brightly colored steam engine. We get to see other children being dropped off at a station and like the four children the audience wonders where they will end up. The wondering is underscored in the next scene as we see the four waiting at an otherwise empty station for someone to pick them up. There is a bit of humor as they scramble for their bags when they hear a car approaching and are then disappointed as it drives by.

They are picked up at the railway station by Mrs. Macready in a horse-drawn cart. Unlike the book, they do not meet the professor at the door of the house. Mrs. Macready in giving instructions to the children emphasizes that there is to be “no disturbin’ of the professor.” In the book, it is Mrs. Macready herself who does not want to be disturbed when she is showing people over the house.

The first scene of the children talking together in the house fits the general feel of the book, but the dialog has been changed—as in many other places in the film—to sound more like what children would say. Lucy’s complaint that the sheets of her bed were scratchy felt a bit out of character for her—she does not complain—but honestly she seems the most true to the book of any of the characters in the film. I found the changes in the children’s dialog to be an improvement in most cases. Instead of saying that Susan is always “trying to talk like Mother” as in the book, Edmund sarcastically retorts “Yes, mum.”

While this new expanded beginning to the story flows reasonably and the children come across as realistic, it starts the story off on the wrong foot. We are introduced to the story through a fearful evacuation and bickering between the children. This makes it more depressing and frightening than enjoyable. In contrast, the story in the book is significantly more playful:

They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the heart of the country …. He himself was a very old man with shaggy white hair, which grew over most of his face as well as on his head, and they liked him almost at once ; but on the first evening when he came out to meet them at the front door he was so odd-looking that Lucy (who was the youngest) was a little afraid of him, and Edmund (who was the next youngest) wanted to laugh and had to keep on pretending he was blowing his nose to hide it.

As soon as they had said good night to the Professor and gone upstairs on the first night, the boys came into the girls’ room and they all talked it over.

“We’ve fallen on our feet and no mistake,” said Peter. “This is going to be perfectly splendid. That old chap will let us do anything we like.”

“I think he’s an old dear,” said Susan.

It is nicer to start the story off on a positive note. Although the evacuation of the children from London is historically interesting and provides a context for their journey, I’m not sure how important it is to the story. What is relevant is that they were sent together into the country. Indeed, I know I didn’t think about the historical motivations for their visit to the Professor’s house until I read some early information about how the movie would begin. Instead I had always viewed it through the eyes of the children, much like a trip to visit my grandma—as an adventure!

Most troubling is that we are introduced to the characters and their motivations through scenes and dialog that were not created by C.S. Lewis. I was shocked to hear Peter condemning his brother “Why can’t you just do as you’re told?!” and see Edmund cowering with his beloved picture. From the beginning the movie goes out of its way to try to create excuses for Edmund’s choices (I’ll return to this in a later installment.)

The movie also changes the characters—in the book, Peter is the leader, a role he grows into completely as High King. In the movie we see more doubts. In the train station, Peter watches a soldier and we get a sense that he is almost old enough to go to war. This was not a motivating factor in the book but is significant in the movie—they leave one war only to be drawn into another. Another noticeable change is that in the book Peter, the leader, is the one who suggests that they explore the house. “And that was how the adventures began.” Instead, after a dull scene with “the worst game ever invented” the movie has Lucy suggest that they play hide and seek.

All of this worked out to make me uncomfortable with the movie from the beginning. While I recognized all of the characters and they somehow fit with those from the book, I wanted them to be more kind and pure. The changes just didn’t seem necessary. Perhaps verses from Philippians were echoing in my head:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Differences between the book and the movie

Having now watched the new movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe twice in the same number of days, I decided it would be worthwhile to write down the changes I noticed. A more thorough analysis will be possible after the movie is released on video, but I hope this will be helpful in the meantime. I should say up front that I enjoyed the movie, but as a fan of the book, I was disappointed by many of the additions, omissions, and changes.

Warning: the following contains numerous spoilers. If you have read the book, but want to be surprised by the film adaptation, read no further until you have seen the movie. If you have not read the book, what are you waiting for? Go read it now, especially if you intend to see the movie.

What I love about the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (TLWW) book is its truly beautiful and enchanting story containing a Christian allegory. The movie falters in those moments where it robs the story of its purity and truth. As a child reading the story—or having it read to you—you are taken from an ordinary world into an extraordinary one. As Lewis wrote in his essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” the reader of a story like TLWW “does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.”

I felt like the movie struggled to make the characters more real, more believable, and more like children of our world. This seems a fundamental flaw of the film. In his dedication, Lewis makes clear that TLWW is a fairy tale. I feel the movie almost tries to eliminate the magic of it.

In an interview, the movie’s director Andrew Adamson says “I want it to feel real and for kids today to actually relate to the children. So I’ve really tried to make the story about a family which is disenfranchised and disempowered in World War II, that on entering Narnia, through their unity as a family become empowered at the end of the story.” As admirable as it is to elevate family harmony in a world of broken and hurting families, this is not the main theme of the book. While repentance leads to improved relationships, perhaps most obviously in our families, the film seems more focused on the relationships than on repentance and redemption.

For those that had hoped for a movie more precisely like the book, another interview with Adamson is more revealing: “I actually set out really not to make the book so much as my memory of the book because I realized in reading the book as an adult that it was kind of like the house that you grew up in, much smaller than I remembered. And I wanted to catch the more epic story that I remembered which I think was expanded by my experiences over 30 years, by the fact that I had read all seven books, and that the world had actually expanded C.S. Lewis in writing all seven books.” The option was there for Adamson to hook into the allegory and expand in harmony with it instead of expanding the story to make it more like his memory.

Despite the differences, the movie clearly follows the scenes and plot of the book. I’m saddened that the differences could have made it a more powerful and deeper film, but instead the changes generally do little to advance the plot or enhance the characters, but mainly try to make the film more exciting. Even with the changes, the movie is true to the book and for that I am thankful. I hope that it is very successful and increases interest in all of the Chronicles of Narnia.

In future installments I will talk about the specific changes made between the book and the movie. I expect I will discuss the following (not necessarily in order):

  • Expanded Beginning
  • The Children
  • Edmund’s Journey
  • Aslan
  • Characters and dialog
  • New scenes
  • Omitted scenes