"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 3, No. 5:  February 1, 2002.



The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
online at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati68.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."


Three little words:  "hard drive crash."  It didn't happen to
my computer (at least this time), but it did happen to my
wife's computer, so the two of us have been sharing the same
computer at home until we get a new computer (since hers is
five years old and it's at about the stage where it makes more
sense to replace than repair).  We've gotten to see just how
much each of us uses the computer.

By the way, the question is not a matter of whether your hard
drive will crash:  it is only when it will crash.  All hard
drives wear out eventually, which is why it is important that
you not trust everything to your hard drive.  Make sure you
have backups for important files!

Pennsylvania decided that it was not going to charge state
sales tax for computers (or computer accessories) purchased
between February 17th and February 24th, so that's when we'll
be getting a new one.  It was a difficult choice (we tend to
alternate between Gateway and Dell); in the end we went with
Gateway this time around, because of the new 18" flat-screen
monitor, double memory, and an Editor's Choice award in PC

In the meantime, our sharing the computer is one reason for a
delay in the appearance of this issue of CATI.  I do have some
good news, however (in addition to the fact that we'll soon
have another computer in this household again).  After having
limped along at a rate of 26.6k bps (yes, I have a 56k modem,
but the phone lines here are very bad, and I'm too far from a
central station to get DSL), I will be able to access the
Internet via cable by this coming month.

This means that I'll be able to do many things in a fraction
of the time it takes me to do them now.  At present, I spend
a lot of time waiting for Web pages to load in.  Equally to
the point, downloading larger files may take a fairly long
time, especially compared with Internet cable access or, if
it were available to me, DSL.  These two high-speed means of
Internet access (as well as satellite access) are sometimes
called "broadband."  "Broadband" access is somewhat similar
to "wide-lane" highways, where having several lanes allows
for more traffic to pass through an area quickly.

Since I publish a newsletter devoted to "Christians And The
Internet," this change in my Internet access should mean a
benefit to CATI readers.  I'll be able to do my research in
less time, allowing me to spend more time on thinking through
the best manner in which to share the results with you.

You may even get to enjoy shorter articles! <grin>  In some
ways, writing for CATI is like preparing a sermon:  It takes
twice as long to prepare a 20-minute sermon as it does to
prepare a 40-minute sermon.  (Yes, you did read that right.)
Double the length does not necessarily mean double the worth.
Often, the opposite is true.  "Multum in parvo" (Latin for
"much in little) can be the best situation for imparting
information (or entertainment, for that matter).

In short, we're looking forward to the new computer and to
faster access of the Internet.  Be reassured that I will not
assume that the majority of CATI subscribers will have the
advantage of new computers or broadband Internet access.  I
will continue to keep in mind the variety of situations that
exists for CATI readers, and my goal will continue to be to
provide material that will be useful and/or enjoyable to a
wide range of people.

     --Barry Traver, editor of "CATI"


"... Of making many books there is no end...." (Ecclesiastes
12:12), and just as there are many Web sites that are not
worth visiting, so there are many books that are not worth
reading.  Just, however, as there are Web sites which offer
rich resources for the Christian, there are treasures to be
found in the better and best books.

The 17th-century Puritan pastor Richard Baxter put it this
way:  "It is not the reading of many books which is necessary
to make a man wise or good, but the well-reading of a few,
could he be sure to have the best."

For the Christian, of course, the "Good Book" is the very best
book, beyond comparison with other books, since at best they
are humanly inspired, whereas the Bible is God-breathed and
God-spoken (see 2 Timothy 3:14-17).  Even so, we may profit
from other books as well, provided that we are discerning in
our reading and take care to include "the best books."

Back in the late 1960's W.J. Grier of the Evangelical Bookshop
in Belfast, Ireland, published a book titled The Best Books: A
Guide to Christian Literature (Banner of Truth, 1968).  It is
a book that I myself found tremendously helpful in building
my own personal library.  Unfortunately, Grier's book is now
out-of-print and (somewhat) out-of-date, and I have not seen
anything come along to adequately take its place.  (Sinclair
Ferguson's Read Any Good Books? is a helpful book, but it is
not as systematic and comprehensive as Grier's book.)

Your local Christian bookstore as well as online Christian
booksellers are often not helpful at all, because most of
what they stock is at best frothy and ephemeral and at worst
actually harmful rather than meriting the description "the
best books."  For example, CBD (Christian Book Distributors)
often offers great discounted prices, but equally often the
discounts may be on books that represent weak or bad theology.

If the book is a good book and the price is great, go ahead
and purchase it from CBD, if you like, but recognize that
many of the books carried by CBD are not the best books for
Biblical instruction and edification.  In the past, another
bookseller of religious titles, GCB (Great Christian Books,
earlier known as Puritan-Reformed Book Discount House), did
exercise some discernment in the titles they carried, but,
unfortunately, GCB is no longer around to help in that area.

Well, there are some online booksellers today which do provide
some assistance to the person who wants to be a "discerning
reader."  Here's one which I have not previously mentioned in
this newsletter (but one with which you may find it good to
become familiar):

The Discerning Reader

If you're already familiar with The Discerning Reader, you
probably knew where this article was going as soon as you
read the title.  Since The Discerning Reader, however, is
fairly new on the scene, I expect that for most readers
this article may be your first introduction to what looks
like a very worthwhile source of Christian books.

Here is how they approach Christian bookselling:

"The Discerning Reader is focused on helping you find THE
RIGHT BOOKS. We strive to provide the very best Christian
literature: books that provide a Biblical framework for you
to discover, think, live, enjoy, and understand the truth —
A Christian Worldview. Our goal is to help you perceive all
of reality from the perspective of God's revealed truth."

The Discerning Reader is actually a discerning bookstore for
the discerning reader:

"All of our books are independently reviewed, evaluated, and
recommended — based solely on their biblical-theological
content and practical usefulness — by our editors. We then
pass on our evaluations with each book we sell. We respect
your decisions about what to read. We want to help you make
better-informed decisions. That means less marketing and hype,
more real analysis and thought."

Rather than attempting to carry everything (including the bad
and worse books carried by some "Christian" booksellers), they
choose to carry the better and best books:

"We take great care in selecting the items we offer for sale.
We generally take a more critical look at books that are
written for a more "popular" audience, or for younger readers
and new Christians. Our assumption is that these readers tend
to have less of a discerning mind — at least at this point in
their Christian experience. These readers are easily confused
and/or led astray if given a book written by a well-meaning
but seriously ill-informed author. Books that are of a highly
technical nature — that assume some undergraduate or graduate
education — are given a less critical look. Our assumption
is that those who wish to avail themselves of these types of
works are somewhat knowledgeable of their potential pitfalls.
(In some cases, we remind them!)"

When books are reviewed, they are rated using a five-star
(or five-diamond) scale:  "Poor - Please Avoid," "Fair - Not
Recommended," "Good - Recommended," "Excellent - A 'Must-
Read,'" and "Prized - A Standard."

Authors generally rated highly include John Calvin, J.C.
Ryle, Arthur Pink, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Martyn
Lloyd-Jones, C.S. Lewis, Jim Packer (that's what J.I. now
calls himself), Anthony Hoekema, John Murray, Os Guinness,
Rodney Clapp, Marva Dawn, Michael Horton, Jerry Bridges,
John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Gene Edward Veith,
James White, and Douglas  Wilson.

You may not agree with all of their assessments, but I think
you will appreciate their goal of trying to be neither too
narrow nor too broad in their offerings, but rather to offer
those books most likely to be of genuine benefit to Christian

By the way, here's a policy that may be of interest to those
who want to be good stewards of the money God has provided

"We will match the selling price of any of our competitors on
any of the items we sell. Furthermore, if you find a lower
price on the same item within 30 days of your purchase from
us, we will refund the difference.... It's that simple."

There is some very reasonable "not-so-fine-print" specified:

"... This offer does not apply to 'seconds' and 'closeout'
merchandise. Offer must be from a legitimate online retailer
— no auctions or sales from private parties. Offer does not
apply to used books, or personal sales at sites like half.com
or Amazon marketplace."

The Discerning Reader is owned and managed by Antithesis LLC,
a "Limited Liability Company," about which you can learn more
at this address:

Antithesis LLC

In particular, check out their statement of faith here (stated
in a contemporary fashion, but traditional in content):

Antithesis: What It Means to Be a Christian?

Antithesis: What It Means to Be Spiritual?

Antithesis: What It Means to Be a Fellowship?

In addition to sponsoring The Discerning Reader, "a virtual
bookshop offering the very best books at the lowest prices on
the Web," Antithesis LLC is responsible for a number of other
Christian Web sites, including the following two:

Christian CounterCulture
("a bi-weekly electronic newsletter serving our various Web
offerings as well as keeping people informed of 'happenings'")

Good News for Postmodern Times
("an introduction to Christianity, setting forth the Bible's
message of hope")

(Half a dozen more or so are "in development.")

Our focus at the moment, however, is on their "virtual
bookstore," The Discerning Reader, which I invite you to
explore at your leisure:

The Discerning Reader

I also recommend that you consider subscribing to their
newsletter, "The Right Books."  You can browse it online

The Right Books

And you can sign up for a free subscription here:

The Right Books: Subscription

For the final part of this article, we turn our attention
from discerning booksellers to discerning publishers (which
are also more rare than they should be).

Following is a recent "news flash" from P & R Books (which
was formerly known as Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
The Discerning Reader, promoter of thoughtful Christian books,
has named P&R the "Best Publisher for 2001."

Of the Discerning Reader's top ten books for the year, two are
from P&R: No Other God by John Frame and Whatever Happened to
the Reformation? edited by Gary Johnson and Fowler White....

The Discerning Reader credits P&R with turning out "an
amazing number of quality books in 2001--more than any other
[publisher] on our list."

... The Discerning Reader exists to encourage the publication
and distribution of "thoughtful books," a category often
overlooked in the Christian market....

For the sake of full disclosure, I should perhaps mention that
I occasionally review manuscripts for P & R, so I may not be
entirely unbiased in my commending The Discerning Reader for
their honoring of P & R.  (But then again, the reason why I
now review manuscripts for P & R is my high regard for them as
a publisher, a respect that goes back at least four decades, a
long time for such a company to maintain such consistently high
standards for publication.)

I am not at liberty to provide details of that work (usually
even the manuscript's author does not know the identity of
the reviewer, so that the review can be fully honest and
unaffected by outside pressure), but I was surprised (and
pleasantly so) to see public recognition of my work a few
years back in the "Acknowledgments" section of David G.
Hagopian's Back to Basics: Rediscovering the Richness of the
Reformed Faith (P & R Publishing, 1996):

"I also extend my thanks to the many people who reviewed the
manuscript, in whole or in part, offering their encouragement
and constructive comments along the way, including Jay Adams,
E. Calvin Beisner, James Montgomery Boice, Jerry Bridges,
Sinclair Ferguson, John Frame, D. James Kennedy, Ronald Nash,
Marvin Olasky, Barry Traver, and G.I. Williamson."

My identity was apparently given to the book's editor, since
he intended not to lynch me but to express appreciation for
my "constructive comments."  When I saw my name in that list,
I was flattered (and much humbled) to find myself in such
august Every person on the list except for me is a well-known
Reformed author who has written several books (whereas I have
yet to write my first!).

Anyway, Back to Basics is an excellent book (in spite of my
being mentioned in it).  I strongly recommend it to you, the
discerning reader!  And here are some other (more important)
people who also recommend the book:

'An excellent, concise presentation of the essence of Reformed
faith....  a much needed wake-up call to the church."
    --R.C. Sproul

"Newcomers to Reformed thinking will be introduced to the
wonderful majesty and unity of the great doctrines of the
faith. Long-time members ... will be able to fill in gaps in
their understanding."
    --Marvin Olasky

"Magnificent....  Great stuff."
    --Jay E. Adams

"[The book's] organization ... its clarity, and its fidelity
to the basics of the Reformed faith are excellent, and I can
readily imagine its becoming a standard text."
    --E. Calvin Beisner

"... to the point ... useful and intriguing ... well suited to
reach out to people in our age."
    --James Montgomery Boice

"... indeed impressive....  would seem to have a place in the
catechetical programs of Reformed churches....  an excellent
source-book for pastoral study and for refreshment in the
    --D. James Kennedy

"The writing is splendid, and the format (topic selection,
organization, study questions, bibliography) seems excellent
....  I would recommend it."
    --John M. Frame

"…an outstanding presentation of the main doctrines of the
Reformed faith."
    --Jerry Bridges

"... addresses many of the urgent needs of our churches
    --G.I. Williamson

"If you are looking for a very good and comprehensive overview
of the Reformed faith, this is it."
    --Steve Brown

And, finally, here is what The Discerning Reader has to say
about the book:

"Hailed for its scope, insight, and clarity, this enlightening
introduction to Reformed theology calls us to rediscover the
richness of reformed faith in four crucial areas: conversion,
covenant, the church, and the Christian life. But this book is
more than a comprehensive overview of Reformed faith; it also
addresses many of the urgent needs of our churches today."

In short, they see it to be "The best overall introduction to
Reformed Theology in print" and "An excellent foundation for
building a sound theological vision in postmodern times. Must

At another time I may say more about choosing good books, but
I did want the discerning reader of CATI to be aware of these
two great resources for good books.  Here is the address for
P & R Publishing as well as (once again) the address for The
Discerning Reader:

P & R Publishing

The Discerning Reader


Before you read this part in the series on the subject, you
should read these articles:

Updated: Download, Unzip, & Install Files from the Web (#1)

New: Download, Unzip, & Install Files from the Web (#2)

In fact, some of what is said here is dependent upon your
having done so.

In the first article, I gave instructions on how to download
and install a program called Freezip, a free and easy-to-use
program for unpacking files that have been packed in a "zip"

In the second article, I gave instructions on how to download
and unzip two MIDI archives from the Internet.  One of them --
which was a "self-extracting zip file" -- included all of the
more than 700 hymns in the old Trinity Hymnal.  The other
(which covered only one letter of the alphabet, the letter
"A," leaving two dozen or so more hymn archives available for
you to download from that site) was a traditional zip file.

If you tried out the suggested exercises step-by-step, you saw
how easy it is to download zip archives from the Internet and
how easy it is to unzip them using Freezip.  In this third
article, you will be invited to download, unzip, and install
a program to play the MIDI files you were invited to download
in the previous article.

The program is called Traver Mini MIDI Player (although it
also plays MP3 files).  It has a couple of advantages to such
programs as Microsoft Media Player, MusicMatch Jukebox, and
Winamp:  (1) it doesn't take up much space on the screen, and
(2) it's easy-to-use.

It looks more like a detached menu than a program (it's small
enough that I often place it over an unused portion of my
Microsoft Word toolbar area), and it has an "always on top"
option which means that it will always be visible, even if you
are actively using some other program (like Word).

After you "Open" a music file, with just a single click of the
mouse you can "Play," "Pause," "Resume," or "Stop" the music.
You can create, use, save, and reload a Playlist of songs, if
you like.  You are also given options for "AutoNext" (if you
want the program automatically to go on to the next song on
the Playlist when a song is finished) and for "AutoRepeat" (if
you want automatically to repeat the playing of a song when it
is finished).  If you choose both "AutoNext" and "AutoRepeat,"
the program will go entirely through the Playlist and will
automatically repeat the Playlist when it is finished.

If you're using a Playlist, clicking on "Next" will start the
next song on the list (the one right after the one currently
playing).  Double-clicking on a song in the Playlist is all
you need to do to start that song playing.

I mentioned a moment ago having the program running while I'm
working in Microsoft Word.  Another feature of the Traver Mini
MIDI Player is that if you're working in a program and then
click on a Traver Mini MIDI Player command (such as "Next" or
"Stop"), the focus is immediately returned to the program you
were just working with (e.g., Word), with the cursor blinking
just where it had been moments before, so that you can return
right away to what you were doing.

You can create and/or edit a Playlist from within the program
itself.  There are two ways you can add files:  (1) you can
choose "Open" to choose the file(s) using the usual Common
Dialog Box or (2) you can use "Drag and Drop" to add it (or
them) to the Playlist.  (Just pick up such files from, say,
"Windows Explorer" or "My Computer" and drop them anywhere on
the Traver Mini MIDI program.)

You can also select a file on the Playlist and move it up
on the list (using ctrl-up arrow), move it down on the list
(using ctrl-down arrow), or remove it altogether (using
ctrl-Delete).  When the Playlist is exactly the way you want
it, you can "Save Playlist" to disk.  Later, at a different
session with the computer, you can use "Load Playlist" to
bring in that list from disk.  (I suggest your storing your
Playlists right in the Traver Mini MIDI directory on your
hard drive so that they're easy to find.)

Except for the option to "Set Tempo" for a MIDI file, that is
about all there is to it (e.g., there are no fancy graphics
that move with the music, etc.), but it includes everything
that most people want to do most of the time.  It is simple to
use, is immediately available, and (did I mention?) is free
to CATI subscribers!

Even though it's not a condition you must meet after having
been allowed to download and install the program, I hope that
you will seriously consider sending me a short email message
containing a comment or two about the program.  Constructive
criticism is all right.  (Or if you want to send a question,
that's fine also.)  I would really like to hear from you.

Did I mention that the program also remembers its settings
from session to session?  For a miniature program, it does
include a useful feature or two you may not see in fancier
programs.  It may not be perfect (it's the first release
of this program, which, by the way, I wrote using the
professional edition of Visual Basic 6), but you may be able
to help me perfect it by your comments and suggestions.

So at this point, you should have lots of Christian songs you
can play.  Let's download, unzip, and install the Traver Mini
MIDI Player to play them with!  (You can use the same method
to download, unzip, and install Traver Jigsaw, if you have not
already done so, but within another week I expect to upload a
new version with many new features, such as the incorporation
of sliding-tile puzzles, including a Scripture verse with a
separate word on each tile.)

Go to the following location on the Web:

CATI: Downloads

Click on the "MiniMIDI.zip" (which is underlined).

All right.  Here are the steps to follow after clicking on
"MiniMIDI.zip" on that Web page when you're ready to download:

(1) Choose "Save this program to disk."

(2) Click on "OK."

(3) At the next display, keep clicking on the icon at the top
right with the arrow in the yellow box until it says "Desktop"
to the left.  (The yellow box at this point probably turned

(4) Double-click on "My Downloads."  (If you deleted or never
created such a folder, you can create one at this time or
cancel the download to do the download at a later time.)

(5) Now we'll create a folder in which to put the download.
So at this point click on the box icon to the right of the
icon you just clicked with an arrow in it.  (The icon to the
right that you're clicking now is there so that you can will
be able to "Create New Folder.")  Instead of "New Folder,"
type in, say, "Minnie," to replace the highlighted text, and
then press Enter.  (If you don't like the name, don't worry
-- we'll be getting rid of it by the end of this article.  I
just thought it was appropriate for our "Mini" program, and
it also is appropriate for the computer "mouse" you've been
using.  I promise not to slip you a "Mickey" <grin>.)

(6) Now double-click on the "Minnie" folder, and then click
on "Save."

When the download is finished, you may need to click on
"Close" to close that box or window.

Congratulations!  You're one-third of the way there.  You've
downloaded the program.  Now all you need to do is unzip it
and install it.  (Before you do that, however, you will
probably want to disconnect from the Internet.)

With FreeZip, it's easy to unzip the file.  Here's all that
you need to do at this point:

(1) Double-click on "MiniMIDI.zip."

You're done!  That's all there was to unzipping the file.  In
addition to the MiniMIDI.zip file you now have in that folder
three files that were unpacked from the zip file:  SETUP.LST,
setup.exe, and MiniMIDI.CAB ("CAB" is Microsoft's own version
of a packed file:  this is the file that gets unpacked when
the program is installed.)  So you're now two-thirds of the
way there.  You've downloaded and unzipped the program.  Now
all you need to do is install it!

Installing the program is also not difficult:

(1) Double-click on "setup.exe," and accept the defaults as
you go through the installation process.

(If you're running Windows XP, you may be told that you have
a newer version of one of the files already on your computer.
Yes, you do want to keep the newer version.)

You're not done yet, however.  Yes, you have downloaded,
unzipped, and installed the program on your computer, but
you have some "housecleaning" to do.  If you don't get rid
of what you no longer need, your computer can get rather
"cluttered."  The four files in "Minnie" are no longer
needed, so you can delete them and the directory which they
are in.  (If, however, you want to store them somewhere
for backup, feel free.)

If you're in the "Minnie" folder, click on that icon with
the up arrow on it to go "Up" one level.  Then right-click
on the "Minnie" folder, and choose "Delete."  If you don't
do house-cleaning like this on a regular basis, your "My
Downloads" folder can get very messy.

Important:  To do things in an orderly way, we made a special
folder for our download ("Minnie" for the Mini MIDI Player),
and when we no longer needed it, we deleted it.  (The actual
working program was put someplace else on your system, most
likely C:\Program Files\MiniMIDI\.)  It's good to "unclutter"
your hard drive (and your life!).

Although Traver Mini MIDI Player was also placed on your
Start menu, the easiest way to get it running is to look for
the appropriate icon on your Windows desktop (it will have
a "smiley" face on it) and double-click on it.  There is no
documentation at this time for the program, but it's pretty
straight-forward, and the description earlier in this article
should answer most of your questions.  (If you have additional
questions, feel free to send me an email.  I may perhaps have
some more comments for you in the next issue of CATI.)

Whether or not you like my Mini MIDI Player program, if you
have worked through these three articles you should now know
what you need to know in order to download, unzip, and install
other programs from the Internet.  Enjoy!


Like to know what this is?  This is the sixty-eighth 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").

Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter?  Just send an
email to subscribe@cati.org (but be sure to include your name
in the note).

Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search
CATI for a particular subject)?  Go to http://cati.org and
you'll find an archive of past issues (arranged in reverse
chronological order), a partial index of articles (arranged
alphabetically by topic), and a search engine specifically
for use with CATI.

Like to pass along this issue to others?  You may.  Permission
is hereby granted to pass along any issue of CATI to someone
else, provided that it is passed along in its entirety with no
changes made.  (For now, I prefer that you send the complete
issue, although I may in the near future provide guidelines
for passing along individual articles.)

Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page
or in a publication)?  For permission to do that, send a note
to cati@traver.org (explaining what you'd like to use and for
what purpose).  Reasonable requests are usually granted.

Like to unsubscribe?  That's also easy.  Just send an email to
unsubscribe@cati.org (but if you decide to unsubscribe, you'll
be missed, so any thoughts about the newsletter that you would
be willing to share at that time would be much appreciated).

Like to tell your friends about CATI?  That is not only much
encouraged, but also an encouragement to the editor!  CATI is
a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free
newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial
income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is
knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive,
and enjoyable.  (Comments from readers are always welcome, so
let me hear from you!)

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.