Archive for March, 2008

7 reasons why we use (Ubuntu) Linux

Monday 31 March 2008

For the past 2 and a half years, I (and now we) have been using the Linux Operating System on our laptop. For the last year and a half we’ve been using Ubuntu – probably the easiest version of Linux for people like us who have been used to Windows.

Why do we use Linux and not Windows? Here are 7 reasons:

  1. No viruses / spyware / malware. The security on Linux is a lot better than on Windows. On a new Windows computer, the first thing you have to do is install anti-virus software and a firewall. On Linux, it is very difficult for a virus (or any other program) to run itself without you asking it to, so your machine is much more secure (and as a bonus it tends to do a lot less annoying things that you haven’t asked it to do).
  2. It’s faster. Obviously different programs are different sizes, and some can make your machine go slow. But at least with no anti-virus and no additional firewall software constantly running, Linux has a big headstart over Windows.
  3. It’s free (in terms of cost). No Windows licenses. No paying for updates for programs. I hate paying for things when there’s a free equivalent (especially if it’s better).
  4. It’s free (in terms of the licensing). Linux is open source, meaning that it’s not only free in terms of cost, but that you’re free to do whatever you want with it – copy it, change it or whatever. OK, most people don’t want to go fiddling around with the inner workings of their computer, but if there’s something that you would like to change, chances are someone else has already done it and written up about it online.
  5. It does what you ask it to. No more, no less. One of the annoying things that I find about Windows is that when a program crashes, I invariably have to open Task Manager, click on End Task about 10 times, and then wait several minutes before the program actually stops, the taskbar disappears and reappears, and eventually I can continue working. Even then the computer often keeps doing funny things until I decide to reboot. In Linux, if I stop a crashed program, it stops, no arguing or answering back (or asking me if I want to send a report to Microsoft).
  6. It’s completely customiseable. I can easily reorder the windows in the taskbar, have multiple virtual desktops and add “applets” showing the weather and any number of other things. If I want to do more than the (extensive) desktop options allow, it’s just a matter of searching on the internet to find someone who’s already done it, and following their instructions!
  7. It’s the way forward for Bible Translators in developing countries. All of the above (particularly 1, 3 and 4) mean that it is very well suited to developing countries, especially given the fact that most people in the developing world aren’t used to using Windows. I’m not sure that the One Laptop Per Child project is necessarily a good use of resources, but I’m convinced that where computers are needed in the developing world, Linux is the solution. One of the reasons I started using Linux was because I thought it had great potential for mother-tongue Bible Translators, and so I wanted to be familiar with it.

OK, it’s not all plain sailing on Linux. Sometimes there are issues with hardware (parts of the computer) not being easily compatible (almost always because they’re designed for Windows). For example our wireless card was difficult to get to work for a while, but it’s worked fine with the last two Ubuntu releases (April and October 07). And we have some issues with the graphics driver – mostly when I connect it to a data projector to do a presentation, in which case it only works at 800×600 resolution.

But, especially with Ubuntu, Linux is now easier to use (and try out) than ever.



An out of context visit

Saturday 29 March 2008

Source: WikipediaYesterday, Mark and I were very happy to have some American friends passing through who we know from Tanzania. It was great to see them in England and it really reminded us of Tanzania… Hot weather, Swahili, other friends from the Uganda-Tanzania SIL Branch. It makes us miss many things about Africa. This morning we woke up thinking about Tanzania and I had Mark teach me a few more words in Swahili.. Mti (tree)… Mguu (leg)… Mkono (arm)… Mji (town)… Mlango (door)… Mfereji (trench)… And if you add m- + refu after any of these, you have a ‘long/tall’ nown. Like Mti mrefu = ‘tall tree.’ It did my heart good to connect with Africa this morning, even if through saying simply ‘Mifereji mitano mirefu’ – ‘five long trenches.’

Unlocking the scriptures

Wednesday 26 March 2008

I was working in Tanzania with Wycliffe from 2004-2006, doing something called Language Survey. On one of our survey trips we went to Mara Region in the north of Tanzania, to see what languages were spoken there and what the need was for Bible translation.

One of the languages, Kuria, already had a New Testament translated by the Bible Society, so we looked into whether additional translations were needed for the various dialects of Kuria, and decided that the one translation should suffice. However, the translation wasn’t being used by the people – most of the copies were sitting in a storehouse.

Recently I read this story from colleagues in Tanzania, which is an encouragement that the scriptures are now just starting to be used! Pray that these men and thousands of others like them would learn to read and love the Kuria scriptures, and that God would use them to draw people into a closer relationship with him.

verb – to twig

Sunday 23 March 2008

My vocabulary has been enlarged today as Mark’s dad asked whether someone had twigged who we were. At which point, Mark’s mum wondered where the root of that word might lie… What a fun easter morning.

twig·ging. British

–verb (used with object)

1. to look at; observe: Now, twig the man climbing there, will you?
2. to see; perceive: Do you twig the difference in colors?
3. to understand.

–verb (used without object)

4. to understand.

[Origin: 1755–65; < Ir tuigim I understand, with E w reflecting the offglide before i of the velarized Ir t typical of southern Ireland; cf. dig2] Unabridged (v 1.1)

A Weekend of Sport

Saturday 22 March 2008

We’re at my parents’ this weekend for Easter which is fun, especially as my brother and sister are visiting too. An added (unplanned) bonus is that it’s a bumper weekend of sport on TV…!

Cricket every night (although England started pretty badly last night), the mighty Spurs against Portsmouth this lunchtime, the top four playing each other tomorrow (Man Utd v Liverpool and Chelsea v Arsenal) and then if we’re not all sported out, the Malaysian Grand Prix in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

I’m trying to educate Laura about the joys of various sports, and to get her to understand how important it is… but it’s not always easy. She occasionally watches rugby, but every time we start watching a football match she gets distracted and does something like crochet. I don’t think she’s even attempted cricket yet… I’ll keep working on her!

mustard seed: the dilemma of growth

Friday 21 March 2008


Photo by mrjoro

This? This…is the glorious mustard seed? Not the magnificent and beautiful tree one imagines. Its a weed…!

Thanks to our Pastor at Calvary Petaluma, this isn’t as shocking to me as it could have been. The parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13 is a little more rough around the edges than I’d ever given it credit for before.

He gave them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32, the NET Bible.

Perhaps Jesus didn’t mean for the parable to only refer to the beautiful growth of the Kingdom of Heaven – which is still a facet of this image – but hoped to warn against false growth, as well. Isn’t it true that growth can allow things to go unnoticed and hidden from obvious view? In the two parables, the yeast and the mustard seed, something considered unwanted from the lens of the biblical culture – yeast (evil) and birds (enemy) – come to hide or lodge in the surroundings.

If this is true, what are the implications on the Kingdom of Heaven as we see it? What is true growth in the Kingdom of Heaven? What are the implications of physical growth in the church on this Earth?


Wednesday 19 March 2008

4 oz Rice Four
4 oz Desiccated Coconut
4 oz Raw sugar
4 egg whites

  1. Beat egg whites in large bowl with hand mixer until stiff.
  2. Fold in other ingredients with metal spoon.
  3. Drop tablespoons of mixture onto lightly greased baking trays.
  4. Bake at 350F/Gas 4 until lightly browned on top and firm to touch (approx. 15 minutes).

As promised, I have written down the Macaroon recipe that I can’t get enough of…!

If you feel that your Macaroon recipe is superior…then leave your recipe in the comments section and I promise to reward your bravery at challenging my taste by trying it…!

Rules: If you are going to compete with me at a fair standard, the final product cannot contain any milk or wheat in any form, as neither me nor the person for which this post is intended consume items with these ingredients…

Enjoy! : )

Palm Sunday!

Sunday 16 March 2008

Yeah – today is Palm Sunday and it was my first encounter with the Anglican traditions linked with the occasion as somehow we missed it last year…!

At our church, St. Peter and St. Paul’s in Stokenchurch, we had a special reading that incorporated a lot of the congregation. The week before we were asked to sign up for parts in a dramatic reading of the Passion account in Luke. Being as adventurous as we are…we chose the smallest portions in the reading: the two thieves on either side of Jesus at the crucifixion. I was the unbelieving thief and Mark was the believing (mine was a smaller part…). It made the reading very alive and allowed many people to participate in and feel a part of the service.

Our Crosses

Another delightful highlight were the small palm crosses that were distributed to the congregation during the second hymn. I could tell by the way Mark reacted amusedly to my surprise that this was another tradition carried out by the Anglican church. It was quite a novelty holding a cross constructed from a palm leaf on this day.

Welcome to Under the Baobab Tree!

Sunday 16 March 2008

Under the Baobab tree is an accompanying blog to our website, The purpose of this blog is for us to share our thoughts from our everyday lives, which may or may not be connected to our work in Bible Translation!

We’ll still be maintaining the other site, but it will be more focussed on the work we’re doing rather than the random other stuff going on in our lives.

We’re looking forward to hearing more from you in the comments sections!