"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 2, No. 2: January 31, 2001. _______________________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. GEORGE W. BUSH AFTER-DINNER STORY: ANOTHER EMAIL HOAX? 2. WANTED: ALPHA-TESTERS FOR TRAVER WINDOWS NOTEPAD PROGRAM 3. BOOK REVIEW: CHRISTIAN PARENT'S GUIDE TO...THE INTERNET... 4. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________ Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. _______________________________________________________________ 1. GEORGE W. BUSH AFTER-DINNER STORY: ANOTHER EMAIL HOAX? Perhaps you received, as I did, the following email (or one similar to it) from a friend and you wondered whether it was an accurate report or simply another email hoax: ________________________________ "Benoit is a man in our church who has a friend who served on President Elect Bush's campaign in Austin. She (Jeff's friend) called him to tell this story. Last week, Gov. Bush appeared at the thank-you banquet for his campaign staff, and was going table to table to shake hands with the 1000+ campaign volunteers. He got to one lady, who by a brief comment she made, indicated she was a Christian. She was there with her 16 year old son. Gov. Bush asked him if he was a believer, too. He said he didn't think so. Gov. Bush then asked, "Do you mind if I tell you how I came to know Christ?" The boy agreed, and Gov. Bush pulled up a chair and spoke with him for about 30 minutes and even led him in prayer. Jeff's friend was so choked up, she could hardly tell the story through tears. Bravo, Mr. President." ________________________________ Well, according to the January 27, 2001 issue of World magazine this email message seems to be a hoax: "George W. Bush drew a high percentage of conservative, Christian votes, but WORLD reader Alex Vance wanted to know whether it was true that the president-elect was involved in drawing a teenage boy to Christ. Our inquiring reader questioned a widely circulated e-mail reporting that Mr. Bush recently led a 16-year-old boy to faith in Christ. According to the e-mail, Mr. Bush spent 30 minutes with the teen after a thank-you banquet for about 1,000 campaign volunteers. Alas, the story appears not to be true." http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/01-27-01/opening_4.asp Here are the details, as supplied by World magazine in a column titled "The Buzz": "The question came up at a Jan. 9 Bush-Cheney transition press briefing, and spokesmen Ari Fleischer and Dan Bartlett knew nothing of any such event. 'I don't recall any banquet with 1,000 campaign workers or volunteers,' Mr. Bartlett said. Last week, a transition official repeated to WORLD doubts about the e-mail story. Then we checked with the supposed source of the account. Dennis Lake of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, says he was wrongly cited as the source of the e-mail, and he and church staff fielded hundreds of calls. 'Somebody put my name at the top of the e-mail.'" http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/01-27-01/opening_4.asp The version of the email I received did not mention Dennis Lake as the source of the story (rather the story allegedly came from a "friend" - no name given - of someone apparently named Jeff Benoit - described as "a man in our church," even though the church was not identified), but it was indeed the same story, complete with the GOP political banquet for 1000 Bush campaign workers and the 16-year-old boy. President Bush may or may not be an evangelical Christian, but this after-dinner story appears to be bogus. If you get a copy, ignore it (other than to tell the person who sent it to you that it seems to be another email hoax). Incidentally, I searched on the Web for more on the story, and only World seemed to take time to check out the facts. The same column in World ("The Buzz") also included these interesting news stories: "Yes, claims that a full recount in Florida would have given Al Gore the presidency are far from proven. The Palm Beach Post (Jan. 14) recounted Miami-Dade County and found that it did not give Mr. Gore thousands of extra votes, as his partisans claimed it would. When the press recount - flawed, as all such counts at this point inevitably are - was done, George W. Bush had gained six more votes than had Mr. Gore. "And no, Mr. Bush did not win the popular vote nationwide. Several wishful readers requested that WORLD check out a report that he had. The report, originally published at www.originalsources.com, resulted from an error in tabulating votes from Michigan. The website corrected the error on Dec. 20, but the old report continues to circulate on the Internet. Mr. Bush lost the popular vote by 533,001 votes." http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/01-27-01/opening_4.asp The World article doesn't mention it, but even though Bush may not have won the popular vote (which was very close), he not only won the electoral college vote but also carried 60 per cent of the states. That is, 30 out of the 50 states in the United States voted for Bush, and only 20 voted for Gore. Looked at from that perspective, the presidential race may not have been as close as reported. In fact, someone on a TV political show on PBS claimed that close to 80 per cent of the counties in the U.S. voted for Bush; Gore carried far fewer counties, but the 20 per cent or so he carried included the counties representing urban, heavily populated areas, which resulted in both candidates getting approximately half of the popular vote. (On the Internet I confirmed the statistics for the states, but thus far I've been unable to find confirmation of those statistics on the percentage of counties carried by Bush and Gore, so they may not be fully accurate.) By the way, to check the archives at the World magazine Web site, you do need to register, but it doesn't cost any money to do so. My wife and I have been fans of World since the magazine began. If you like what you see on their Web site, you may want to consider subscribing. If you would like to receive World in the mail (that's U.S. Postal Service, not email) on a regular basis, simply call 1-800-951-NEWS (6397) to do so. You can start with a trial subscription (eight issues for just $5) or you can sign up for a standard subscription (one year for $49.95, six months for $24.95). And, no, this is not a paid advertisement, but rather simply a personal recommendation. We think the world of World (in a manner of speaking). It's one of our favorite magazines. _______________________________________________________________ 2. WANTED: ALPHA-TESTERS FOR TRAVER WINDOWS NOTEPAD PROGRAM Like many people, sometimes you may want to use a simple text editor rather than a more complicated word processor. For example, a text editor is good for such things as editing Web pages or writing newsletters like "CATI." In such situations (at least if you're running Windows), you may usually turn to Microsoft Notepad (for little reason other than that "it's there"). But Microsoft Notepad has many limitations, and Microsoft has made very few improvements to the program during the years that the program has been around. Yes, they did finally get around to making "Word Wrap" the default (I don't know if I have ever met anyone who used Notepad without wanting to have "Word Wrap" turned on!), but otherwise Notepad continues to have pretty much the same limitations with which it began. Well, I finally got around to writing my own "Traver Notepad" with features I wanted that were lacking in Microsoft Notepad. In fact, I am using Traver Notepad right now to write this article. If you're tired of the limitations of Microsoft's Notepad program and want to try an alternative text editor, you may be interested in my program (which is written in a computer programming language known as Visual Basic). I am looking for some people to "alpha-test" the program. You've probably heard of "beta-testing," but you may not have heard of "alpha-testing" before. I'll explain the difference, which gives me an opportunity to present some "Traver Trivia" as well as talk a bit about the Greek alphabet. For "alpha" and "beta" are the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. In fact, we get our word "alphabet" from the Greek "alpha beta...." In the phrase "Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 1:8 and related passages), the idea is essentially that God is the beginning and the end -- the "A" and the "Z," so to speak -- of all there is (since omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, just as alpha is the first). Beta-testers test what is hoped to be the "final" version of a new software program, but programmers -- being realistic -- don't refer to such testers as omega-testers. Instead, such testers are called beta-testers because they are the next step after the program has been tested by alpha-testers (that's logical, right?). So I'm looking for some people willing to be alpha-testers, since my program (although already possessing many features lacking in Microsoft Notepad) is far from finished. If you are interested in alpha-testing Traver Notepad, one benefit you will have is being able to suggest new features that you would like to see included. Also, after the program is put into final form, I'll probably release it as shareware ("try before you buy" software), but alpha-testers will be able to have a copy for frere of the final version when it is officially released. Some of the features currently in Traver Notepad I wrote for my own use. For example, with a click of the mouse you can convert an issue of "CATI" from text format to HTML format (including creating working links as well as working internal bookmarks that tie together table of contents with individual articles). (I will probably remove that particular feature from the public version or perhaps adapt it for more generic purposes.) Likewise a simple keypress of CTRL-L will insert a "CATI"-style line at the cursor. But there are lots of other things that Traver Notepad can do. As with recent versions of Microsoft Notepad, Traver Notepad will allow you to set the font (type, size, etc.). Unlike Microsoft Notepad, however, Traver Notepad allows you to set a different font for the printer than you set for the display. For example, you may want to use a larger font on the screen for better visibility but want to use a smaller font when you print the text out to save paper. Another added feature in Traver Notepad is an "MRU" ("Most Recently Used") file list on the File menu. Like many other programs (but unlike Microsoft Notepad), my Traver Notepad remembers the most recently used documents for which the program was used. (Right now my program remembers the last ten files, but I'll probably allow the user to adjust the number to what they want, within certain limits.) Another advantage of Traver Notepad is that it remembers its position and size from the last time that it was used so that you don't have to re-adjust it brand-new each time that you use it. When you first start the program, you are provided also with a "Tip of the Day" (right now I'm using Scripture verses for that purpose), but you can choose whether to turn that feature on or off. When you're working on a text file, Traver Notepad allows you to insert another text file at the beginning, at the end, or somewhere in between at the cursor. Traver Notepad also offers "Find" and "Replace" functions (you can make them "Case Sensitive" and/or "Whole Word Only"), while Microsoft Notepad does not offer a "Replace" function. Traver Notepad also has "Undo" and "Redo" functions (in case you delete a paragraph accidentally, for example, and want to bring it back). There are also some features that are more esoteric. For example, if you load in a Web page written in HTML, Traver Notepad has a choice on the menu that will extract all of the URLs ("Universal Resource Locators," which is simply a fancy term for Web addresses) from the document. Another esoteric feature I wrote for myself is a menu choice that will split up a file containing email messages (exported from Pegasus, which is the main program I use for email) into separate files (one for each email message). Another unusual item on the menu is the "Music" item, which allows you to load in an MP3 or MIDI file and listen to it while you work. (Now, I'll bet you haven't seen many other text editors with that particular feature! <grin>) Right now Traver Notepad is unfinished, as I said, so here is your opportunity to suggest features you might like to see in the program if you use a text editor from time to time. If you are interested in alpha-testing the program, you should be running at least Windows 95 or 98 (Windows ME or "Millennial Edition" is best). Anyway, let me know if you are interested in being involved in this project. Incidentally, I should mention to you that NO remuneration is involved (although you do have, as I said, an opportunity to take an active part in the shaping of this software and you will also be entitled to a free copy of the final version). (If you do decide to take part, I will let you know where and how you can download the alpha version of Traver Notepad from the Internet.) _______________________________________________________________ 3. BOOK REVIEW: CHRISTIAN PARENT'S GUIDE TO...THE INTERNET... I mentioned the book A Christian Parent's Guide to Making the Internet Family Friendly by Brian Lang and Bill Wilson (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) in two previous issues of "CATI": HAVING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW & SETTING BIBLICAL BOUNDARIES http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati44.htm#2 WHAT'S IN A NAME (AN INTERNET DOMAIN, THAT IS)? http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati41.htm#2 I told you that "in spite of a few peculiarities, this [book by Lang and Wilson] is one of the very few worthwhile books currently available for Christians about the Internet." I also told you that "More comments [were] planned for a future issue of CATI." This article is that attempt to provide a more adequate book review for you in case you are considering purchase of the book. If you can't find it in your local bookstore, you can order it from Amazon.com for $12.99 (full retail price, no discount, plus you have to pay shipping and handling <sigh>): Brian Lang & Bill Wilson, A Christian Parent's Guide to Making the Internet Family Friendly http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0785275681/travertabletalk Barnes and Noble offers it for the same price. If you do some looking around you may be able to find it for a better price. Last month, for example, I saw some copies of the book being sold for only $4.50! There's a chain called "Book Market" that specializes ordinarily in books that are remaindered or overstock. Book Market will rent a storefront temporarily for a few weeks to offer their wares. We've picked up some real bargains there, but you have to catch them when they first open to get the best bargains. Anyway, Book Market was in the area recently and they were selling the book for $4.50, so you may want to keep your eyes open. The book is fairly small (172 pages, 5" x 8"), but it is very readable and contains a lot of useful information. The book comes with a free CD-ROM containing some free software (e.g., a free Christian computer game), but I have to confess that I haven't even looked at what is on the CD. Most chapters start out with an easy-to-read incident in the life of the "Webb" family and then go on to explain a related aspect of the Internet. Most chapters end with a glossary of "Terms to Remember" and a list of "Resources" (in general, these are Web sites you can visit for additional help with the topic). Here are the individual chapters in the book, along with some short comments: 1. The Internet: Traveling the Information Superhighway A quick introduction to the Internet, the "Webb" family, and the book, which hopes to be "an insightful and useful guide for parents." 2. Chat: The CB Radio of the Internet As the authors say, "Online chat is one of the Internet's most popular features." This chapter provides some advice and cautions for the "three primary mediums of online chat.... Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Web-based chat, and chat at an online service such as...America Online...." 3. Family Boundaries Families need to take concrete steps to deal Christianly with the Internet. The following CATI article gives you a sampling of some of the important emphases of this chapter: HAVING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW & SETTING BIBLICAL BOUNDARIES http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati44.htm#2 4. Search Engines, Education, and Learning This chapter presents some ideas on how to successfully locate useful information on the Web while at the same time avoiding offensive material. 5. Online Commerce: The Interactive Toll Road This chapter tells how you can use the Internet to do things like make travel arrangements, do home shopping, and pay bills -- all online! 6. The Family-Friendly Internet Important to this chapter is the list of "Internet resources available to Christian families." 7. The Virtual Office, E-Mail, and Netiquette Email is a great feature of the Internet, but it can present a challenge to parents. Here's a sample of some helpful advice from the authors: "As in other areas of the Net, parents need to set certain rules for E-mail use. Rule number one is to make sure your children ask you before giving out their E-mail address. Rule number two is parents should regularly monitor the E-mail software their kids use.... Dozens of ... E-mail clients are available at no charge on the Internet, and parents should never assume that their children have just one E-mail address.... [For example, there is an] abundance of free E-mail accounts that can be acquired on the World Wide Web" (pages 67-68). 8. UseNet: Danger on the Highway Parents should exercise serious caution when it comes to UseNet newsgroups. Here is the authors' judgment on the situation: "UseNet is not a place where your children should dwell. If they do, and they are doing it without close supervision, they are taking a genuine walk on the wild side. Usenet is like a public bulletin board system that contains a voluminous collection of discussion topics. Anyone can 'post' their thoughts, opinions, advice, photographs, and even software in the discussion groups.... UseNet can be a wonderful asset for those who use it the way it was intended. However, because of the way it is organized, it poses a parental challenge" (page 77). 9. The "Red-Light" District of the Internet This chapter offers advice on how you can protect your family from sexually explicit sites on the Web. 10. It's Not Free Speech, It's Breaking the Law This chapter provides more advice on how to protect your children from online pornography. 11. Online Ministry The chapter title here may be a bit misleading, because only one type of "online ministry" is really discussed (i.e., the use of online chats to minister to others one-on-one). 12. The Interactive Revolution The Internet offers challenges and opportunities. In this chapter, the authors discuss how Christians can take advantage of the "Interactive Revolution": "One consistent theme permeates the Internet: Netizens are seeking. Not unlike the physical world, Internet citizens are seeking information, control, respect, relationships, and to understand themselves and others. And like the physical world, Netizens are seeking spiritual food. To make a positive contribution to the Internet culture, Christians and the church must identify the needs of the audience and invite opportunities for further dialog and communication.... The caring, concern, and support church members show one another can be very evident online through Web publishing, discussion threads, and real-time chat" (page 123). 13. Recognizing and Overcoming Internet Addiction Like many other activities, Internet activity can run the risk of becoming addictive. This chapter gives advice on dealing with that problem. 14. Logging Off, Looking Ahead This chapter contains some concluding comments: "By digesting Making the Internet Family Friendly, you now should be relatively informed to use the Internet (instead of being used by it). Let's embrace the Internet and make it our own. Our children's future will increasingly be found online. Let's make that future something with which we are familiar" (page 147). 15. Signature File Here we have some background information about the authors, Brian Lang and Bill Wilson. They never explicitly provide a statement of faith, but they appear to be "ecumenical evangelicals," i.e., conservative Christians working within the context of mainline denominations. In general the Christian sites that are recommended (e.g., Focus on the Family) are evangelical, but suggested denominational sites are for broader denominations (like the Episcopal Church). There is one strange situation related to the book, which I mentioned in a previous CATI article: Web addresses given for the authors don't work! The book's back cover says, "Please visit the companion World Wide Web site to this book at http://www.parentsguide.net" (the same URL is mentioned a number of times in the book, including twice on page 171), but when you try to access the site, you're taken to a Web page that says this: "...This Domain Name is FOR SALE.... Purchase Your Piece of Cyber Real Estate Today!!" In addition, when you try to access Brian Lang's site at http://www.familyinternet.org or Bill Wilson's site at http://christiancharacter.org (both of which are mentioned on page 171 of the book), your browser tells you "Cannot find server or DNS error" or something similar. I've asked Thomas Nelson Publishers about this strange situation, but I have not yet received a response. The book by Lang and Wilson in many respects is an excellent book, but I'm not sure what to say about the inaccessible and/or nonexistent Web sites to which customers of the book are referred. It is somewhat of a strange situation. Nevertheless, the book is a worthwhile one, in spite of a few eccentricities and idosyncrasies. Check it out! _______________________________________________________________ 4. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER This is the forty-seventh issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). To subscribe, write to email@example.com, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. Past issues: you'll find archives of past issues of CATI available online at http://traver.org/cati/. ("It's not a pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.) ________________________________________________________________ Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.