This morning I read an enlightening essay on Thanksgiving Day written by Pastor Tim Boffey of the Cincinnati Church.  Rather than attempt to summarize, I have reprinted the article below with permission.

Thanksgiving Day
by Pastor Tim Boffey

On the fourth Thursday of November, America takes time off from its ordinary pursuits to observe the civic holiday of Thanksgiving Day. Or, does it? For too many Americans, ordinary pursuits of life include beer, football, overindulgence and sloth. On Thanksgiving Day, these pursuits simply shift into overdrive, unhindered by that tedious interruption called work. Thanksgiving Day seems to underscore what is truly important to our culture: pleasure. Pleasure in and of itself is not evil, but when it becomes the summum bonum of a nation, watch out! The God of nations still reigns on high and when warning Babylon of its imminent demise, said, “Therefore hear now this, thou that art GIVEN TO PLEASURES, that dwellest carelessly…” (ISA 47:8). We do well to regard that at the root of the filthy debauchery of condemned Sodom & Gomorrah was “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness” (EZE 16:49). Scripture describes perilous times as being typified (amongst other things) by the attitude, “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2TI 3:4).

Thanksgiving Day means different things to different people, but for too many it only means a long weekend, a day of which is a paid bacchanalian pleasure-orgy. For others, it marks the traditional beginning of the most critical time of year for business: weeks of frenzied consumerism climaxing in that most “noble” of “holy” days, Christmas (Roman Saturnalia in a new Christian dress). If I sound somewhat cynical here, it is only because I earnestly decry the taboo on speaking out against what any discerning person knows: that the primary reason such holidays have almost universal support is “ye know that by this craft we have our wealth” (ACT 19:25). But for many, Thanksgiving Day has rich roots in American tradition which hearken back to a simpler and more reverent era. Thankfully, the significance of such a day is not entirely lost on all Americans but perhaps some historical review, and some practical and Scriptural exhortations are in order.

We would first take notice of the fact that since the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (“thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift,” 2CO 9:15), men are no longer (and never again shall be) under the dispensation of shadows and darkness known as “the law,” with its many obligatory holy-days. These things were only temporary portents of the reality of Jesus Christ and His work of salvation, they expired with the passing away of the Old Testament order (GAL 3:19-25; GAL 4:9-10; COL 2:14-17;HEB 9:9-12). For a Christian to set aside a special time of thanksgiving is not wrong, but as a “holy-day” it is not required and is certainly not a test of righteousness or fellowship. A civil government which recommends to its people a time for earnest thanksgiving to the true and only LORD God THROUGH the Lord Jesus Christ (by Whom ONLY supplications are acceptable—see JOH 14:6; 1JO 2:23; ROM 7:25) does well, for its secular power is ordained of God (JOH 19:11; 1PE 2:13-14) and should be used to encourage the people to righteousness, which exalts a nation (PRO 14:34). By contrast, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (PSA 9:17). How important is thankfulness to righteousness? Consider the wretched excesses, sexual immorality, carnality and violence to which the nations were turned over, as described in ROM 1:22-32. That slippery slope began with “when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, NEITHER WERE THANKFUL…” (ROM 1:21).

Throughout U.S. history, various presidents have issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations: Washington, Madison and Lincoln for example. This was apparently done by men who lacked prophetic foresight of the inventive constitutional reinterpretations by modern activist federal justices who somehow found a “wall of separation between church and state” in the First Amendment, thus twisting the obvious intent of the constitution’s framers, to wit, ‘freedom OF religion’ to ‘freedom FROM religion.’ Nevertheless, federal authority continues to sanction Thanksgiving Day. Somehow, official encouragement to Americans to pause, recognize and thank God is not deemed a violation of the “separation” argument but permitting a prayer at a high-school graduation is a gross breach. One wonders whether this tolerance of Thanksgiving Day is because the atheists, humanists and other antiChrist forces have not yet devised a way of purging Thanksgiving Day without undermining the commercial value such a tradition represents. Let us be thankful that the Lord God reigns, of Whom it is written, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (PSA 76:10).

The recognition of a day of thanksgiving precedes the founding of our present form of civil government as witness the proclamations made by the Continental Congress (1777), or the colonies in New Netherlands (1644), Connecticut (1639) and Massachusetts Bay (1630). But it seems clear that the rootstock and model of all such declarations is that of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation immediately after their first harvest in 1621. To these humble (yea, HUMBLED people, as their experience testifies) we owe much, not the least of which is a model of a free-enterprise capitalist system (they tried communism and it failed miserably) and Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims were evidently a sub-sect of the Puritans in England, who opposed the oppressive and unjust policy of the Divine Right of Kings. The Puritans played a pivotal role in the English civil war of the mid-1600′s which brought about the cancellation of the Divine Right when the treasonous King Charles’ head one day fell into a basket. In these people breathed the sweet air of liberty; not just liberty from royal indifference and injustice, but liberty of soul and conscience. Whether the Pilgrims fully identified with the political objectives of Cromwell or other Puritans is a matter of conjecture. It seems that their primary reason for seeking a new country was to escape religious bigotry, assuming great risk for the opportunity to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. Unlike the many envoys and adventurers which preceded them under the banner of the Roman Church, they did not come to exploit the New World, but to (as they prayed), “afflict ourselves before God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance” (EZRA 8:21). It has been noted that the President of Argentina once said to the statistician, Roger Babson, “I have been wondering why it is that South America with all its natural advantages, its mines of iron, copper, coal, silver and gold; its rivers and great waterfalls which rival Niagara, is so far behind North America.” After short contemplation, he answered his own question, “I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish, who came to South America in search of gold; but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers, who went there in search of God.” A fair summary, indeed. Some have postulated that the Pilgrims had aspirations of establishing a theocratic kingdom of God on earth in the New World. This may or may not be true but it is virtually above suspicion that spiritual things, not carnal, were their primary incentives.

The Pilgrims left England in 1608 for the more tolerant lands of Holland, where they labored industriously until, after trial and disappointment, they secured a patent from the Virginia Company of London. Their first vessel, the Speedwell, returned home with a belly full of water and was declared unseaworthy but the Pilgrims eventually set sail on the Mayflower. For over two months they endured the confines of the dim, dank, infested bowels of the Mayflower surviving on “food,” the description of which could make one queasy.

At last, land was sighted on November 9th: not the shores of more moderate Virginia, but the colder and less forgiving Highlands of Cape Cod. Before any disembarking, the company on the Mayflower drew up the novel Mayflower Compact, of which it has been observed that this constituted the first time in recorded history when free men had voluntarily covenanted together to formulate their own civil government. Thus was the precedent for Constitutional America set.

After a few explorations of the area which proved the natives and elements less than receptive, they removed to find good harbor at Plymouth Rock. But in the week that it took to dispatch all goods and passengers from the Mayflower as it anchored in deeper waters, future colony governor William Bradford’s wife “fell” overboard and drowned. Some have affirmed it was suicide brought on by fits of depression. In time, 99 of the original 102 went ashore, and commenced to endure the most miserable of fortunes: hunger, privations, sickness and death. Before a year passed, only half of them remained alive.

The expected threat of Indian attack strangely did not materialize though. It was later found that the fierce, ruthless Patuxet Indians who once dwelt where the Pilgrims landed had been wiped out by plague in 1617. In the middle of March of 1621, an Indian who had been watching the Pilgrims walked boldly into their camp. I suppose if there was any doubt that the Pilgrims were surely arrived in America, Samoset’s first words to them in broken English removed it. He said, “Have you got any beer?” Funny, but apparently true. Samoset was a Sagamore who previously had interaction with English vessels and learned English in the process. He told the Pilgrims that the Wampanoags were the nearest Indian nation, about forty miles distant. Their chief, Massasoit, would be very “honored to establish peaceful relations with the people of the Great White Spirit.” Soon thereafter, a somewhat apprehensive parlay was arranged with Massasoit, who came in full regalia with a company of some sixty painted warriors. With them was the last surviving Patuxet Indian, named Squanto, who spoke excellent English and served as interpreter. Fifteen years earlier, Squanto had been providentially befriended by an English explorer, Captain John Weymouth, who took him to England. Upon his return, Squanto was kidnapped and sold as a slave to the Spanish in the Caribbeans. There, a priest befriended him and helped him to Spain from where he eventually got to England, met Samoset and returned to Patuxet to find it devastated. Though he had been misused, Squanto had developed an appreciation for the English and an affection for the Lord Jesus Christ, being “baptized” in His name.

A six-point peace treaty which lasted twenty-five years was hammered out between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. Squanto then remained with the Pilgrims and taught them invaluable skills for survival in this new frontier. Fever took him in September of 1622; he died longing to see the Englishman’s God in Heaven. But in the fall of 1621, after a bountiful harvest for which Squanto’s industry was greatly responsible, Governor Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving to God. It was enjoyed by Indian and Pilgrim alike, Chief Massasoit bringing ninety of his people and also
supplying a substantial portion of the repast.

In researching for this essay, I came across information which is shedding new “light” on Thanksgiving Day for public schoolchildren. The spin doctors are doing a marvelous job of revising this history to make it more politically correct. To sum it up, the real protagonists during the Colonial Period were the native Indians. The Indians were generally peaceful, harmless, flower-loving natives who lived in harmony with nature and one another. The antagonists were the profiteering Europeans (especially the English) whose ambitions were to pillage, plunder and exploit the New World and to tolerate the Indians only until they had the upper hand, deceiving them at every turn. It cannot be denied that there were mistakes, abuses, broken treaties and other shameful things that blackened Colonial and Constitutional relations with Indians. Such injustices are not acceptable. But to paint all settlers with the same brush is equally wrong. One of the most unacceptable things the Pilgrims did, according to one revised public school Thanksgiving Story was “The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong.” Apparently, changing men’s corrupt thinking by sound doctrine and reason is deemed in our enlightened age of tolerance as intolerable. The article closes, “But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.” Excuse me, but a Biblical worldview has always deemed people and nature to be important—just not so important that either should be worshipped practically or in principle.

Noble reader, there may be some things that European Christians did that were not beneficial for the Indians but converting them was not one of them. The “peaceful, harmonious, harmless” New World Indians could also be bloodthirsty savages at war with other tribes. Their religions were hardly harmless when you consider the human sacrifice that was demanded by the thousands every year by the Aztecs or Incas for example. The Mound-Builders of Alabama ritually sacrificed children to appease their “harmless” nature spirits. One should read the account of the first contact made with the Tsimshian Indians of the Pacific Northwest, when Mcdougall watched tribal members chase down one of their own women, carve her up while still alive and ingest her hot flesh while she screamed. And, these are not simply isolated exceptions. For many of the New World Indians, even an errant form of Christianity would have been a step in the right direction away from this devilish horror.

To the highly evolved intelligentsia of today, a truly great evil was the fact that Europeans moved in and took away the historic homeland of the natives who dwelt here. But is this not basically what has happened to the Palestinians in the Middle East for Israel’s sake and is almost universally lauded by the same intelligentsia? Emerson quipped, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds…” to which I retort, “A blatant inconsistency exposes the goblins of subtle minds.”

Returning to the Pilgrims’ experience, consider the heart of these people who had only recently seen the stormy clouds of trouble roll back from their lives. This first Thanksgiving Day was close on the heels of some of the most bitter times that try mens’ souls, and yet they fretted not against God. Their attitude was “What, shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” (JOB 2:10)? Thanksgiving is not meant only for times of ease and prosperity. “In EVERYTHING give thanks…” (1TH 5:18). How easy it is to bless and thank God when “the Lord gave,” but can we do the same when “the Lord hath taken away” (JOB 1:21)? For every person who is sure he has Christ there is always something to be thankful for even if all creature comforts dissolve: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (HAB 3:17-18). The Pilgrims’ attitude sets in sharp relief that of the modern American who on Thanksgiving Day curses God because his cable company is not delivering a decent broadcast of the big game. How far as a nation have we deteriorated, allowing our success to undo us. To make a turn on Cotton Mather’s observation, “Humility and thankfulness begat liberty and prosperity; And the children have devoured the parents.” Sadly, the first Pilgrim Church eventually became a Unitarian-Universalist Church which embraces everything from syrup to sodomy. See:

First Parish Church

I hope those Pilgrims were buried face down.

Be thankful, brethren, that a merciful God has seen fit to preserve faith in the earth and, though it be in short supply at His coming, He shall certainly avenge it (LUK 18:7-8). Be thankful for having a part in it. Be thankful for the innumerable blessings that God has given, both spiritually and materially. Be thankful that it is as well with you as it is. Though it be a test of your faith, be thankful always, brethren, even for your civil government which is becoming the enemy of true religion, for so are we commanded (1TI 2:1-3). Give thanks also that God overrules all governments, saying to the proud waves of the wicked, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further…” (JOB 38:11). Above all, “thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2CO 9:15), Whose saving grace is a cause for rejoicing “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1PE 1:8).

John McCain Pro Life? What A Joke!
By Chuck Baldwin
August 22, 2008

This column is archived at

http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2008/cbarchive_20080822.html

Once again, “pro-life” Christians are doing back flips to try and justify
their compromise of the life issue by trying to convince everyone (including
themselves) that John McCain is truly pro-life. However, these same people
know in their hearts that John McCain shares no fidelity to the life issue
in any significant or meaningful way. Like many in the Republican Party,
McCain’s commitment to life is about as deep as a mud puddle.

Dare I remind everyone that the “pro-life” GOP controlled the entire federal
government from 2000 to 2006 and nothing was done to overturn Roe v. Wade or
end legal abortion-on-demand? When George W. Bush took the oath of office in
January of 2001, over one million innocent unborn babies were being murdered
in the wombs of their mothers every year via legal abortions in this
country. And when George W. Bush leaves office in January of 2009, over one
million innocent unborn babies would still be murdered in the wombs of their
mothers every year via legal abortions in this country. Eight years of a
“pro-life” President and six years of the “pro-life” GOP in charge of the
entire federal government and not one unborn baby’s life has been saved. Roe
v. Wade is still the law of the land, and abortion-on-demand is still legal
in America.

Had John McCain and his fellow Republicans truly wanted to end legal
abortion, they could have passed Congressman Ron Paul’s Sanctity of Life
Act. Year after year, Dr. Paul introduced this bill, and year after year, it
sat and collected dust in the document room on Capitol Hill.

What would Congressman Paul’s bill do? It would do two things: 1) It would
define life as beginning at conception and, thus, declare the personhood of
every pre-born child. 2) Under Article. III. Section. 2. of the U.S.
Constitution, it would remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Court.
In practical terms, Dr. Paul’s bill would overturn Roe v. Wade and end legal
abortion-on-demand. So, where was John McCain? Why did he not support Ron
Paul’s bill and introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate?

How can John McCain, and his fellow Republicans in Washington, D.C., look
pro-life Christians and conservatives in the eye in 2008 and expect that we
take them seriously when they say that they are “pro-life”? If the GOP had
truly wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade and end legal abortion-on-demand, they
could have already done it. They controlled the White House, the U.S.
Senate, and the House of Representatives for six long years, for goodness
sake. The reason they did not do it is because they did not want to do it.
They merely want to use “pro-life” rhetoric as a campaign tool to dupe
gullible Christian voters every election year. And the disgusting thing
about it is–it works.

The vast majority of notable “pro-life” leaders in the country are now
trumpeting the candidacy of John McCain. And the best challenge they can
come up with is “McCain better not pick a ‘pro-choice’ Vice President.” Oh,
shut up (to quote Jay Leno)!

John McCain openly embraces embryonic stem cell research. In 2000, he boldly
said he did not favor the overturn of Roe v. Wade. John McCain was a member
of the infamous “Gang of 14″ senators from both parties whose purpose was to
oppose pro-life, strict constructionist judges.

Speaking of judges, John McCain voted for the pro-abortion justice, Stephen
Breyer, and the radical, pro-abortion, ACLU attorney, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
So much for the argument that we need John McCain for the sake of appointing
conservative justices to the Supreme Court. For that matter, Republican
appointments dominated the Court that gave us Roe v. Wade and the one that
later gave us Doe v. Bolton. Proving, once again, that the Republican Party,
as a whole, has no real commitment to the life issue.

John McCain also gave us McCain-Feingold. This is the law that keeps
pro-life or pro-Second Amendment organizations from broadcasting ads that
mention a candidate by name 30 days before a primary election or 60 days
before a general election. This proves that John McCain believes neither in
the right to life nor the right to keep and bear arms. (This is one reason
why the Gun Owners of America gives McCain a grade of F.)

In a debate with George W. Bush in May of 2000, John McCain attacked Bush’s
support for the pro-life plank in the Republican Party. Still today, John
McCain believes that babies who are conceived via rape or incest should be
murdered. I remind readers, however, that there are no “exceptions” in the
womb, only babies.

If all of the above is not enough, as a senator, John McCain has repeatedly
voted to fund pro-abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood with federal
tax dollars. In fact, McCain has voted to use federal tax dollars to support
abortion providers at home and overseas. Yes, this “pro-life” senator (along
with “pro-life” President, George W. Bush) has significantly increased
federal spending for abortion providers to levels eclipsing even the
appropriations authorized by President Bill Clinton and his fellow
Democrats.

John McCain also supports the United Nations, which not only works to strip
the United States of its independence and sovereignty, and banish our right
to keep and bear arms, but is also the most radical, pro-abortion
organization in the entire world. More babies have been aborted around the
world under the auspices of the U.N. than any other single entity.

Tell me again, Mr. Christian Leader, how “pro-life” John McCain is. What a
joke!

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It’s obviously been a while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to provide an updated. I’ve been inured with too many things that have distracted me from my Rails project for a time, though I hope to return to it soon as I hope it will be profitable for me in more ways than one. I’ve lately been playing with Grails, the need arising at work for a quick and simple blog-like tool to provide status updates via RSS to an existing Java web application.

This exercise has been interesting and helped me see the great similarities between Grails and Rails, as well as some differences. Truthfully I haven’t spent much time with Grails, so I don’t have much to report yet, except that Groovy is and since it compiles to Java bytecode that makes it a lot easier to use at existing Java shops than Rails. On the other hand, for side projects that will live on the Internet on commodity hardware, be it shared or private, Rails is a great framework.

One thing I will make note of in the hope that it will be useful to someone else, is that if you are working with Grails and wanting to deploy a WAR to some servlet container that only implements Servlet Specification 2.3 you can do the following:

grails -Dservlet.version=2.3 war

This requires, I think, at least version 1.0.1 of Grails. I did it with version 1.0.1 and 1.0.3. Of equal or more importance, though, is to set the app.servlet.version property in the application.properties file to 2.3, since that is the value that will actually be used when generating the web.xml for your application (where it really matters).

Unfortunately I ran into other problems (NoSuchMethodError on org.apache.tools.ant.ProjectHelper.getImportStack()) which I have yet to get around. I was deploying to WebLogic 8.1.6 and, so far as I know, the only version of ant in the classpath is the version deployed with the WAR, which is 1.7.0.

I hope to play around with Grails more, preferably on a real project that might start small and grow into something valuable to someone. And I somehow have to find time to get back to my Rails side project.

Rails by default uses a system-generated primary key called “id” for all persisted objects. I personally like this (for the very reasons Dave Thomas outlines in the Rails book on pp. 286-287), but if you don’t, you can change it. Like Dave, I don’t recommend it, but here’s how if you must.

class Friend < ActiveRecord::Base
self.primary_key = "email"
end

Now the primary key of the Friend class is “email” and you must set this value before you can save the object. This is one caveat of being able to change the primary_key from the convention (but don’t complain, at least you can do it).

I chose this example to point out why I like using system-generated, non-model-related primary keys. Email address seems at first like a reasonable field to use for the primary key because they must be unique between people* and they don’t change (often). But they do change (for example if someone use’s their ISP for email and they change their ISP). If you use it as the primary key and your best friend moves from Boston to Idaho and gets a new email address, you have to update all of the places that it’s used as a foreign key (and in the case of your best friend, this may be quite a few places).

Stick to the default system-generated ID and you’ll be better off. But at least you can change the default if you must.

Composite Keys

Rails doesn’t support composite keys natively, but there are plugins available that accommodate this, such as Nic Williams CompositeKeys.
* In the case of a married couple who shares the same email address, you would not be able to include both the man and the woman (who might both be your friends) in your contact list.

Dean Foods Co. of Dallas is responding to consumers and customers who do not want milk and other dairy products from cloned animals, saying they will not use cloned animals.  Smaller companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Organic Valley have already taken this stand.

There’s some question about whether offspring of cloned animals will be used.  In the AP story, there’s also an interesting admission.

“Cloning companies say the purpose of cloning is not to put many cloned livestock into the food supply. Instead, the goal is to make a genetic copy of a superior animal and then put its offspring into the food supply.”

I certainly understand the desire to have dairy from superior animals, but cloning to me is not the right answer.  Breeding the superior animals and feeding them a proper diet (which doesn’t include bubble-gum in the wrapper and other scraps that are barely edible for a rat) and giving them a pasture to roam is a much better solution.  Of course this requires big pastures and people who actually care about the animals rather than large confinement dairies on relatively small plots of land and people who are more concerned about their paycheck than the welfare of the animals or the humans who’ll be consuming their products.

After a few days off due to other priorities I’m back at the TiVo restoration again. Since last time the computer I was using would simply not boot the InstantCake CD I thought perhaps it was the computer itself (as I tried booting various other bootable CDs to no avail). This time I’ve taken my primary family desktop computer, unleashed it from all of it’s cables, disconnected the two HDDs in it and the secondary CD-RW drive and hooked up the TiVo drive as the Primary Master and the CD-ROM drive as the secondary master.

Powered it up, set the BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM, restarted, inserted the CD-ROM and waited…. and it booted from the CD after about 20-30 seconds of delay post-BIOS.

I read back through the mess of stuff that is displayed by the Linux kernel when I finally got to the InstantCake Prompt (waiting for me to press enter) by hitting SHIFT-PAGE UP to scroll back through the text. I noted that it detected the Maxtor TiVo drive as hda as well as the CD-ROM drive.

hd1: C/H/S=0/0/0 from BIOS ignored

hda: Maxtor 6E040L0, ATA Disk Drive

hdc: _NEC DV-5800A, ATAPI CD/DVD-ROM drive

ide0 at 0x1f0-0x1f7, 0x3f6 on irq 14

ide1 at 0×170-0×177,0×376 on irq 15

hda: 80293248 sectors (41110 MB) w/2048KiB Cache, CHS=4998/255/63, UDMA(100)

Being pleased with this information (which basically just confirms that the two drives I have connected are being properly detected by the InstantCake software), I proceeded. But first I took note of another bit if info it provided about the hda (Maxtor TiVo drive I’m attempting to fix).

Partition check:

hda: [mac] hda1 hda2 hda3 hda4 hda5 hda6 hda7 hda8 hda9 hda10 hda11 hda12 hda13

That just says that there are 13 logical partitions on the disk (which I find surprising, but not problematic). Onward we go, then. I hit SHIFT-PAGE DOWN to get back to the InstantCake prompt and it said hit enter to bake my InstantCake, so I did.

I came to the InstantCake novice mode screen where it said that it expected my drives to be configured as follows

CDROM drive ——————————- primary slave
New Drive #1 for TiVo ———————- secondary master
New Drive #2 for TiVo ———————- secondary slave

Since this doesn’t match my configuration I decided to enter advanced mode which would allow me to reconfigure the drives in the software (i.e. I can tell the software the actual hardware configuration of my drives rather than reconfiguring the hardware itself). To do this I hit ‘a’ and ‘enter.’

The next screen was the advanced mode screen wherein it stated that I should be confident as to how my drives are configured and later the software would ask me to tell it the configuration. I hit ‘enter’ to continue.

The next screen asked how many TiVo drives are in my setup (one or two). I said one.

The next screen says, “How is your new TiVo A drive currently connected?” It is the Primary Master, so I typed hda according to its directions.

The next screen says, and I quote fully

We are now going to build a single-drive system using the drive you installed on /dev/hda.

This process will erase everything on the drive you connected.

Are you ready to continue? [y, n]?

I typed ‘y’ hit ‘enter’ and away it said “This distribution contains the following InstantCake image: TiVo Series2 TCD540 Models Version 7.2.0-oth-01-2-540 Standard Release” and then told me to ensure I’m installing the proper TiVo software for my particular model. Iam, so I continued.

The next screen said, “Your cake is in the oven! Please do not interrupt this process, it may take awhile…” The uncompressed backup size it reported was 754 megabytes. It proceeded to display a progress indicator which lasted for less than a minute until it said the restore was done. The output of the screen when it was all said and done was

Starting restore
Uncompressed backup size: 754 megabytes
Restoring 754 of 754 megabytes (100.00%) (83.30% compression)
Cleaning up restore. Please wait a moment.
Restore done!
Adding pair /dev/hda12-/dev/hda13
New estimated standalone size: 40 hours (39 more)

Please hit to continue…[]?

I hit enter and it told me to verify the success of the installation by checking the recording capacity under Message & Setup -> System Information and then run guided setup by going to Messages & Setup -> Restart or Reset System and then selecting ‘Repeat Guided Setup’ and follow the prompts. And it said now I should power down my PC and move the drive to the TiVo. So I did.

After connecting the drive to the TiVo, ensuring all connections were in place properly, I powered it on and watched what happened.  It went through the typical process of “Welcome! Powering up…” to “Almost there.  Just a few minutes more…” and then to “Preparing the service update.  This may take up to an hour, possibly more.”

This looks promising.  We’ll see what happens.

When I checked it today the green screen was still there so I eventually shut it off (well after 12 hours had lapsed). After waiting a few minutes I powered it back on and this time sent it into the Panic mode and gave it the 52 sequence to perform a complete reinstall of the system.

It went to the green screen again shortly after than and then shortly after that it rebooted.

Then it went through the sequence, “Welcome! Powering Up…” to “Almost there. Just a few minutes more…” and then back to the green screen.

I let it sit the three hours and nothing happened so I yanked the plug, popped open the case, pulled the drive out and hooked it into another computer configured to boot from CD-ROM. I found this article about fixing a blown TiVo using InstantCake so I decided to blow the $20 to get an ISO image of it to burn to CD-ROM. I used the free ISO Recorder to burn the image to CD.

For reference I’m going to quote the InstantCake README.

InstantCake README

Please Read This Document in its Entirety Before Downloading

Please note that the download product you have ordered can be between 50MB and 500MB. If you are not using a high-speed connection (ie. DSL, cable, etc) consider doing so before attempting your download. Additionally, if you are using a wireless network, please ensure your connection is stable and not subject to signal loss. You will be given 3 attempts to successfully download your software product, and if you are unsuccessful, your download link will expire. If you experience problems with your download, and all of of your attempts expire, you can contact us with your order information and we will regenerate your download links. Please note that if all of your attempts expire, and you need to contact us, it will take us some time to verify your order and regenerate the links – so please be patient and careful when attempting to redownload after a failed attempt. Ensure you have enough space on your computer, as well as a good network connection before attempting any large file download.

DO NOT USE A DOWNLOAD MANAGER WHEN DOWNLOADING THESE PRODUCTS; IF YOU ARE USING ONE, DISABLE IT BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO DOWNLOAD

We are not responsible for ensuring you can successfully download your product, or problems caused by faulty network equipment or problems with your ISP. Additionally, some ISP’s limit the sizes of your downloads (HughesNet, for example). Once you have completed your download, please ensure you make BACKUP copies of your software; this is your responsibility.

InstantCake download files are distributed as either ISO files, or .BZ2 or .ZIP files which can be uncompressed as ISO files. The .BZ2 or .ZIP file can be uncompressed using a standard unzipping utility such as WinZip, or WinRAR in Windows environments, or bzcat or unzip in Unix/Linux environments. Once you have uncompressed your ISO file, you can record it to CD by using the “Burn Image” feature of many standard CD burning utilities. There are many guides to doing this which are easy to find using Google.

Please ensure you read and follow ALL instructions. When you boot your InstantCake CD you will be given the opportunity to read additional information before proceeding with your upgrade, please read it.

As a reminder, InstantCake and our other utilities are inexpensive DIY products and are offered without support or warranty. If you have a problem using these products, or a questions about their use, chances are that the question has already been asked or answered on DVRplayground or TiVoCommunity. Please proceed there with your questions, and if you can’t find the answer, please do join and post. We do monitor the forums, and your question is likely to be answered, as long as it hasn’t already been asked and answered many times over!

Requirements for using InstantCake

You will need an x86-based Personal Computer (PC) with two IDE interfaces which can be accessed as the PRIMARY and SECONDARY devices, and a CD-ROM which you can use to boot our CD. You do not need to be running Windows XP or any specialized software, in fact, we recommend you disconnect your hard disk drive(s) to ensure their protection, as well as disable any SATA devices supported on your motherboard. The InstantCake software boots and runs from a CD we supply you or can be burned if you’ve downloaded it as an ISO. You will need one or two blank hard drives which will be formatted for use in your TiVo. We do not recommend you use your existing TiVo disk drive for InstantCake installations, in fact, in many cases it will not work: the target drive is expected to be larger than the original – please keep your TiVo drive in a safe place as a backup; at least until you’ve used InstantCake successfully at least once.

Directions for using InstantCake

  • Step 1: Configure your PC such that your CD-ROM drive is connected as the primary slave device. You may need to adjust a jumper on the rear of the CD-ROM; many CD-ROM drives have the jumper set for cable-select (CS) and you can simply move the jumper to the slave position (SL) to ensure it is configured properly. To ensure the CD-ROM is connected as the primary IDE device, use the IDE cable connected to your PC’s C drive; this is typically connected to the primary IDE interface in your PC. If you hvae more than one CD/DVD device in your system, please disconnect all but one of them. We recommend you disconnect your PC’s primary hard drive (and any other hard drives that are installed in your PC) to ensure they are not accidentally overwritten by the InstantCake software.
  • Step 2: Configure your PC’s system BIOS so that you can boot from CD-ROM, and ensure your CD-ROM is installed as the primary slave on your PC.
  • Step 3: Configure and connect one or two new drives destined for your TiVo on the PC’s secondary IDE interface. You will need to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for master and slave settings for your hard drives’ jumpers. Do not use the cable-select jumper settings for your new drive(s); it is important to know which drive is the master and which drive (if you are building a dual-drive kit for your TiVo) is the slave to ensure they are properly installed in your TiVo.
  • Step 4: Apply power, and boot the InstantCake CD. The CD will auto-boot and prompt you with a few questions before building your kit.
  • Step 5: Please take note of all messages, warnings and instructions which may be displayed when the InstantCake program is done running. Knowing these important details may make a difference, especially if you need additional support.
  • Step 6: Install your new drives in your TiVo; you can use our hardware installation instructions as a reference.

Release Notes and Additional Support Resources

Please refer to the official release notes and instructions for your specific version for more details. Support discussions for InstantCake and other DIY software products are hosted at DVRplayground.

My TiVo HDD was configured as Cable Select, and according to the InstantCake directions it should be set as the Master when running the InstantCake software against it. So I did that.

After setting things up according to the instructions (including BIOS settings) I had my CDROM drive as the Primary Slave (i.e. attached as the Slave device on the first IDE controller) and the TiVo drive as the Secondary Master (i.e. attached as the Master device on the second IDE controller).  The only other device attached was the Floppy drive.  All other drives were unattached and disconnected from the power supply.

I booted up with the InstantCake CD in the CDROM but it didn’t find it — couldn’t boot from it.  I slipped a bootable Linux Floppy in the drive and it booted from that (only after first attempting to boot from the CDROM).  So I decided to grab the mfs2floppy.zip file from WeaKnees.com and create a bootable floppy disk to at least see if I could get booted to something.  My first attempt failed with some spurious errors (wanted to root floppy after spitting out what looked like normal Linux boot-time stuff).  So I grabbed another floppy, formatted it and ran the MakeDisk.bat command from the mfs2floppy.zip file again.  This time it booted from the floppy.

But I didn’t know what to do then.  Tried mounting the CDROM but /dev/cdrom was not in the fstab.

Tried booting various other Linux CDs — no dice.  I’m beginning to think this machine won’t boot from CDROM despite the fact that it is configured that way.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll try with another machine.

I’m up way too late and have to work in the morning.

I did some further reading on the TiVoCommunity.com forum thread I mentioned in my last post and found a post that indicated that the problem (for this fella) was the IDE drive cable.  So I decided to check out the cable installed in the replacement unit TiVo sent me.  It’s a 40-wire cable.  I checked the model number of the HDD (Maxtor 6E040L0, 40G) and then looked up the Quick Specs for this drive on Maxtor’s site which indicate that the drive requires an 80-pin cable.  So I replaced the cable to see what would happen…

Got to the green screen that says

The DVR has detected a serious problem and is now attempting to fix it.

This will take about three hours.

PLEASE DO NOT UNPLUG OR RESTART THE DVR!

If you have a plasma TV or are concerned about screen burn-in, you should turn off your TV for the next three hours.

If, after three hours, the DVR does not restart, please call Customer Support.

So I guess I’ll let it go and see what happens.  I wanted to get it working tonight, but as it’s already late I’ll let it go overnight and check it tomorrow, Lord willing.

My TiVo died recently — a couple weeks ago. It was working fine until one day I flipped on the TV and saw nothing but a black screen. I figured it was a fluke, turned it off and went to bed. Turned it on the next day and it was still black. So I decided to unplug it, wait a minute, then plug it back in. I thought for sure that would fix it…

Nope. It took over an hour on the second screen that comes up which says, “Almost there. Just a few minutes more…” Clearly it was more than a few minutes and it had never taken than long before so I decided to unplug it and try again. This time after a while of sitting at the “Almost there” screen it pulled up a green screen that said it detected a serious problem and would try to correct itself and that I should not turn it off for at least three hours. I waited overnight and nothing was happening.

I called TiVo Customer Support, went through their automated help line until it couldn’t help me. Then I got a person on the line and she decided that the hard drive had basically died and I needed a new one. She’d happily process an exchange for $150. “Nothing doing,” I said, “so I guess I’ll cancel the serice.” She transferred me to the cancellation department, I waited ten minutes, got disconnected and had to call back (directly to the cancellation department this time).

Dallas was the name of the CSR that helped me and it was in virtually no time flat that he said he’d be pleased to process a no-cost exchange since I’ve been a good TiVo customer for over two years and he’d hate to see me cancel now just because the unit broke.

So I said, great, let’s do that. I had to fill out a form and send it in with my old unit and then a few days later I received the replacement unit (refurbished, but looking just about as good as it would if it were brand new).

I was looking forward to getting it hooked up and being back in business.

But when I hooked it up I didn’t get past the second “Almost there” screen. Very disappointed after a few hours, I turned it off and went out of town.

When I got back I turned it back on and let it go for 24 hours. Never left the “Almost there” screen. This didn’t leave me feeling that it was almost there.

So I got online and searched to see if others were having the same problem. I found this thread over at tivocommunity.com where many people were having similiar issues, supposedly due to a bad hard drive.

After reading through a few pages of that thread I found a link to a TiVo Diagnostics page which contained some panic codes that you could enter from the remote at startup to tell the TiVo to perform various diagnostics on itself.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Rebooted and waited for the green light to turn yellow, then hit the Pause button on the remote.
  2. Keyed in 57 to do the mfs check
  3. Waited… it went to the “Almost there” screen and then rebooted.
  4. When the green light changed to yellow this time I hit Pause and then keyed in 58.
  5. Waited…it went to the “Almost there” screen and then changed to a screen that indicated it was installing an update, then it rebooted.
  6. I waited to see what would happen on this reboot … it went to a green screen indicating that it detected a serious problem and would try to correct itself … wait three hours, don’t turn it off, etc.
  7. I pulled the plug — had enough — seen this before, not waiting three hours, taking matters into my own hands.
  8. Now I’m going to yank the drive, hook it up to my other PC following some directions I found, and try to get a fresh image on there (after verifying the drive is good).
  9. If the drive is bad, I’ll probably just go get a new (and bigger) one (this is the 540040 model, so just a 40G drive).
  10. If the drive is not bad, I’ll throw a fresh image on it and try again.

Stay tuned….

Two days ago I wrote about multinational corporations lobbying the government to influence laws and policy. I stated that we know there are billions of dollars spent lobbying the government every year. Today I will provide evidence of that statement.

The Lobbying Spending Database contains statistics on the dollars spent yearly lobbying Congress and goverment agencies. In 1998, $1.43B was spent by companies, labor unions and other organizations. In 2005 (the last full year reported) that amount increased to $2.28B.

Among the list of Top Spenders in the time period from 1998 to 2005, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is third (behind the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association), having spent $133,156,515. (more…)

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