My Favorite Android Apps

Here are some of my favorite Android apps for various purposes (I’m omitting very popular web services like Gmail, Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter).


  • DoggCatcher (Podcast software, Paid) -> Fantastic. I love this product and have never looked back. I use it heavily.
  • Feedly (RSS feed reader) -> Pretty good in a post-google reader world.
  • Chrome (web browser) -> Great browsing experience.
  • Pocket (–place to put stuff to read with text-to-speech for audio) -> Fantastic, now how do I get time to read / listen to everything I put on there?
  • FBReader (read ebooks, also has text 2 speech module) -> Very useful at times
  • VLC (video player) -> Fantastic, versatile, and much better than what the phones/tablets come with
  • Audible (audio book service) -> Good, if you have an audible account
  • ESV Bible -> Descent, simple Bible app, not many bells and whistles
  • GoodReads (reading social network) -> Excellent, with barcode reading for indexing a library.


  • Todoist (todos) -> Superb todo tool. I would improve some things, but overall it is quite good.
  • HabitBull (setting habit goals) -> Just started with this one, seems a great way to record progress on various habits


  • eBird (bird sighting reporting app) -> I like it, but don’t use it as much as I like.
  • iNaturalist (general wildlife reporting app) -> Not as good as the website, but still handy and fun since it automatically does the location data and date for you.


  • Flashlight -> Great to have
  • JuiceSSH (ssh client) -> delightfully powerful and simple
  • SSH Server (ssh server) -> Not a huge fan of the program, but having an SSH server on my phone is useful


  • Dropbox -> Use it a ton
  • Google Drive -> Use it a ton


  • The Weather Channel -> Essential for a nature buff
  • Flickr -> Great way to browse flickr galleries, uploading photos?… not so much.
  • Starbucks -> Well, you know!
  • Duolingo (language learning) -> I’ve fallen away from using this one to learn German, but I still regard it as fantastic

Books Finished in February 2016

(3 paper books, 1 ebook, 4 audio books)

Building an Enhanced Macro Setup

Starting off with my new (to me–it’s actually about 12 years old) Nikon D70S and a Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro lens, I decided to try out extension tubes. I bought a set of three Fotodiox extension tubes for $15. The set includes 7mm, 14mm, and 28mm, stacking together for a total 48mm. Basically, the extension tubes sit between the camera and the lens.

Here is a photo of the camera with the lens and the full stack of extension tubes:

tubesThe initial problem with this setup is that you (a) lose tons and tons of light, (b) lose the ability to autofocus, and (c) lose the ability to tweak your aperture.

My strategy for overcoming this had to be simple: reduce movement and increase light!

First, I rested the camera on a disk. Then I turned off the autofocus on both the camera and the lens. Then I zoomed the lens all the way in and positioned the object I’m photographing so that it is just under a inch away from the subject. Then I turned off the flash and figured out an external light source. Sometimes I used an overhead lamp. Sometimes I used the flashlight app on my phone. Sometimes I used both. I experimented pointing my phone light at different angles for different results and different shadow configurations. Then I manually focused and shot away!

I’m very happy with the result. I estimate that I get almost twice as much magnification with the $15 tubes! Objects that are in reality 1 cm appear in my images well over 20cm long. What I lose is photo quality and I have to with external lighting and obsessively remove movement.

I look forward to warmer weather and a chance to try this setup out on invertebrates. For various reasons, this setup is not very practical for field work. However, I’m hopeful that it will be very helpful in getting better macro photos of invertebrates.

Here are some links to some of my tests on Flickr:

Spiders and God’s Providence

“Coelius Secundus Curio wrote a book of eighty-eight pages which was published in Basle in 1544. The name of his book, secundi, shows that it was in effect a sermon, Curio took his facts, both true and false, from the writings of Pliny and interpreted the life and work of spiders as evidence of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator.” – Theodore H. Savory in Spiders, Men, and Scorpions: Being the History of Arachnology, 30 (University of London Press, 1961).

The treatise mentioned by Savory, which was the first work ever exclusively devoted to spiders, begins on page 52 of this document. Curio (1503-1569) was an Protestant Italian living in exile in Switzerland. According to Robert Baird in Sketches of Protestantism in Italy, Curio was “the most regretted loss” of those who left Italy for the sake of Protestantism.

February 12, 2016 | Posted in: Wildlife Comments Closed

Books Finished in 2015

In 2015, I’ve finished the following 93 books:

Paper Books

  1.  Van Til, Defender of the Faith: An Authorized Biography by William White
  2. The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality by Michael Haykin
  3. Hiding In Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah
  4. They Call Me Sparky by Sparky Anderson and Dan Ewald
  5. The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World by David Murray
  6. Common Grace and the Gospel by Cornelius Van Til
  7. The Indian Tribes of Canada by Eileen Jenness
  8. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller
  9. A Discussion of the Seventeenth Century Particular Baptist Confession of Faith by Richard Belcher and Anthony Mattia
  10. Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja by John Resig and Bear Bibeault
  11. Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr
  12. Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis by John Piper
  13. The Stricken Deer: Or, the Life of Cowper by David Cecil
  14. How to Study History by Norman Cantor and Richard Schneider
  15. Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemisms ed. by D. J. Enright
  16. In Search of a Heart by Henrietta O’Neil
  17. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
  18. A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England by David D. Hall
  19. William Cowper by Hugh l’Anson Fausset
  20. Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle by Slavoj Zizek
  21. Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch
  22. Give Me Back My Dad! by Robert Munsch
  23. William Cowper: The Man of God’s Stamp: A Bicentenary Evaluation, Vindication, and Appreciation by George M. Ella
  24. Pyjama Day! by Robert Munsch
  25. The Gospel in Genesis: From Fig Leaves to Faith by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  26. Searching for the Sound: My Life With The Grateful Dead by Phil Lesh
  27. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  28. Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray
  29. Orthodox, Puritan, Baptist: Hercules Collins (1647-1702) and Particular Baptist Identity in Early Modern England by G. Stephen Weaver
  30. The Ethics of Jesus: The Believer as Salt and Light ed. by Daniel G. Lundy
  31. Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era ed. by  Allan Briesmaster and Steven Michael Berzensky
  32. The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent
  33. John Owen: The Man and His Theology ed. by Robert W. Oliver
  34. Praying Always by Frans Bakker
  35. Point Pelee: Canada’s Deep South by Darryl Stewart

Electronic Books

  1. If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life by  Alister McGrath
  2. Java 8 in Action: Lambdas, Streams, and functional-style programming by Raoul-Gabriel Urma, Mario Fusco, and Alan Mycroft
  3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
  4. Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism (Reformed Historical-Theological Studies) by Willem J. Van Asselt
  5. Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life: From the Cross, for the World by Stephen J. Nichols
  6. Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom by Carl R. Trueman
  7. National symptoms. A discourse preached in the First Baptist church, New Haven, on the day of the annual state fast, April 18, 1862 by S. Dryden Phelps
  8. Holy Land: With Glimpses of Europe and Egypt by S. Dryden Phelps
  9. Rest days in a journey to Bible lands and other journeys abroad; sermons preached in the four quarters of the globe by S. Dryden Phelps
  10. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson
  11. A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein by Roger Scruton
  12. Memoir of the Rev. James H. Linsley by Sophia Emilia Lyon Linsley Phelps
  13. Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ by Tony Reinke
  14. Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit by Sam Storms
  15. The River: A Memoir of Life in the Border Cities by Paul Vasey
  16. Writers to Read: Nine Names That Belong on Your Bookshelf by Douglas Wilson
  17. Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement by Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin

Audio Books

  1. A Family of Noblemen by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin
  2. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
  3. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  5. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
  6. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz
  7. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
  8. Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!) by Caitlin Friedman
  9. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz
  10. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
  11. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
  12. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
  13. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
  14. The Man With Two Left Feet by P. G. Wodehouse
  15. The Day of Sir Wilfred Laurier: A Chronicle of Our Own Times by Oscar D. Skelton
  16. Paperweight by Stephen Fry
  17. The Negro Problem ed. by Booker T. Washington
  18. Being a Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur
  19. The Growth of Love by Robert Bridges
  20. A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons  by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
  21. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman
  22. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  23. Jonah by Aldous Huxley
  24. Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  25. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  26. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
  27. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  28. Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande
  29. Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects by Amy Stewart
  30. BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey
  31. The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner
  32. One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
  33. Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead by Bill Kreutzmann
  34. Frozen Assets by P. G. Wodehouse
  35. Money for Nothing by P. G. Wodehouse
  36. The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner
  37. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White
  38. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  39. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
  40. A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
  41. This Is All A Dream We Dreamed by David Gans and Blair Jackson
January 1, 2016 | Posted in: Books Comments Closed

Books Finished in December 2015

(3 paper books, 1 ebook, 5 audio books)


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