Research that Hebrew word carefully before it’s permanent [I just Googled]

There’s an increasing interest in using Hebrew and other foreign languages on jewelry and tattoos. Even the Bieb and his pop have latched on to (or fomented) this trend. Whether it’s the mystique of using an ancient language or the beauty and abstraction (to non-speakers) in the script, the appeal is understandable. What is harder to fathom is how careless consumers and artisans can be in getting the translation of their work correct. There’s even a whole website devoted to such disasters.

What I Googled: sanctified in Hebrew

Why I Googled it: I saw a ring via a Pinterest pin that claimed to have the Hebrew word “Kodesh” (meaning: sanctified, set apart) on it. Knowing some Hebrew, I was curious to know if the word was rendered correctly. Translation and design mistakes frequently occur because the Hebrew alphabet and right-to-left writing are unfamiliar to the artisan and the words do not always translate easily.


What I found out: There are various spellings (in Hebrew) of the word “kodesh.” This is due to the fact that vowels are designated by various symbols below, above, and within certain Hebrew letters. Which means that without vowels, it’s difficult to determine what a word is if it’s taken out of context.


Somewhat predictably, Strong’s Concordance was one of the first search results I checked that proved helpful. I looked up the word sanctified (#6942) and found that the word קדש is often translated as the verb “holy,” “sanctified,” or “set apart.” Wikitionary also captured this definition.

The ring I had seen used the word קדוש (note the additional letter vuv). When I originally searched for קדוש, without vowels, I found it translated as “kadosh,” meaning “speciality.” After additional research with Strong’s (#6918), I found that it is more frequently translated as either the noun or adjective form of קדש. The Hebrew Wikipedia entry(after running it through Google Translate) also supported the alternate spelling of the word.

Google Translate

Sensagent and Wiktionary were additional helpful resources in figuring out this puzzle. Both interpreted the word as holy, sacred, or blessed.

This would seem to be the more accurate word choice for use on jewelry since it describes the person (or what they’re striving toward). This is the same word that is used in perhaps the most well-known of all Jewish prayers, the Shema Yisrael.

The takeaway: Based on these results, I concluded that the word used on the ring is indeed correct. And, in case you were wondering, Justin Bieber and his dad must have done their research, too, since their ink is the correct way to spell Jesus in Hebrew (which is Yeshua, more frequently Anglicized as the name Joshua).

Know your mobile carrier’s network upgrade plans before you get your next phone [I just Googled]

If you’ve been holding on to the same cell phone you’ve had for years, count yourself lucky in some respects. While you may be able to take advantage of innovations like geolocation tools (maps, finding restaurants, etc.), surfing the Internet wherever and whenever you’d like or watching Netflix movies at a moment’s notice, you have one less thing to worry about: Fourth generation – commonly called “4G” – mobile networks.

Why is 4G such a contentious topic in the tech sector? Partially because mobile carriers have promised far more than they have delivered. And partially because of the shifting (and confusing) technologies underlying 4G networks.

What I Googled: will +samsung +”galaxy s2″ +epic +4g +touch +work +Sprint +LTE

Why I Googled it: My wife and I recently upgraded our aging HTC Hero phones for the new Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G, a gorgeous Android phone with a huge display, fast dual-core processor, 8 MP camera, and, best of all, designed to run on Sprint’s 4G network. Sprint’s current 4G network is referred to as “WIMAX” (more on that in a minute) and offers much faster speeds than the older 3G network. I recently learned that Sprint has stopped expanding the WIMAX network and has instead switched to deploying a LTE 4G network nationwide. Concerned that my phone would be obsolete before I broke it in, I turned to the net to learn more.

What I found out: Third generation – 3G – networks and 4G networks are very different. While 3G is much faster than its predecessor, 4G has speeds up to 10 times faster. It’s the difference between waiting 30-60 seconds for a webpage to load on 3G and waiting 2-3 seconds on 4G. Obviously, streaming video from YouTube or Netflix is enjoyable on 4G speeds while it can be infuriating on 3G.

But every carrier employs slightly different technology as the basis of its 4G network. Sprint decided to use WIMAX a few years back and began building out that network. Unfortunately, they didn’t get very far. In the Washington, DC area, 4G is fairly reliable and has fairly consistent coverage. In other markets, it’s not as dependable or not available at all. Recently, Sprint made the decision to switch to LTE instead of WIMAX due to a variety of technical reasons I won’t go into here.

From what I can tell, as Sprint turns its attention to building out its LTE network, it will divert resources from developing the WIMAX network. However, the LTE roll-out will take quite some time and has only barely begun in just a couple of markets. Meanwhile, Sprint will continue to support the WIMAX network.

So what’s the big deal? Basically, WIMAX and LTE use two different frequencies that require a compatible radio inside a mobile phone to connect to it. The Samsung Galaxy S II has the WIMAX radio, but not the LTE radio. The newly announced Galaxy Nexus on Sprint will have LTE, but not WIMAX.

The takeaway:

Without going into too many details, here’s what all of the above means:

  • Those living in an area that was promised WIMAX likely won’t get it. Better for these folks to avoid getting a WIMAX phone since they will never be able to take advantage of the 4G speeds promised by the device manufacturer.
  • Those living in an area that already has WIMAX will be safe upgrading to a WIMAX phone now (like the one I got) since Sprint will reportedly support WIMAX at least until 2015. As long as they don’t plan to move to a location that doesn’t have WIMAX, don’t travel much, or don’t care that they won’t have 4G speeds when they travel, they should be fine. These folks will be able to use their phones for the lifetime of their contract (2 years), though they’ll be forced to upgrade at the end of their contract (something many already do) to continue using a 4G network.
  • Those who are in area that is slated to get Sprint’s new LTE 4G network should wait to upgrade until that build-out is confirmed and stable.

While I’ve been a faithful Sprint customer for years, I increasingly find it difficult to recommend it to others looking to switch from AT&T or Verizon. I realize the choice to invest in a network technology cannot be easy, but I would have hoped Sprint would stand behind their commitment to WIMAX instead of confusing their customers and, for some, cheating them out of promised 4G network speeds.

See life (and learning) like a musical piece

A powerful insight into life, education, and careers. In only two minutes, British philosopher Alan Watts cautions against one of the most troubling outcomes of the modern education system and focus on career: realizing that you’ve missed most of what life has to offer. It’s no wonder that schools are pumping out generic clones that dutifully meet the “standards” to which they are taught.

After watching this, hopefully you’ll be inspired to “stop and smell the roses.” If you are, tell me what “rose” you stopped for in the comments.

Via Michael Wesch’s blog.


Free services alert you when your website goes down [I just Googled]

What I Googled: free website outage alert system

Why I Googled it: I tried to visit my website (this one) to write a new post when I realized I couldn’t access the site (admin or otherwise). I then checked the other two domains I host, both of which were also unavailable. I checked downforeveryoneorjustme to confirm that it was truly down (which it was).

After I submitted a ticket to my web host, I realized that as a responsible website admin, I should have a way to know if the site is experiencing issues before my visitors find out.

What I found out: There are several services that will monitor a domain for free and alert you if the site becomes unavailable. I found the following:

  • Basic State ( Free account includes 10 “credits” for domain monitoring. Each domain you set up uses 2 credits for 15-minute incremental monitoring with email alerts. Other features, like SMS and more frequent check intervals, also require credits.
  • Pingability ( Free account includes monitoring for a single domain for a total of 750 checks (quick math: 24 hourly checks for 31 days equals 744 checks). Email alerts only.
  • Pingdom (
  • Site Down Alert ( Free account includes monitoring for a single domain every 30 or 60 minutes with email alerts.

The takeaway: I decided to try Basic State first since the service offers the most flexibility for free.

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to use a domain monitoring service: be sure to use an email that isn’t tied to your website. When I first configured my services, I used the email address associated with my website. Which means, in the event the site goes down, no mail will get through either. Whoops. I quickly realized my mistake and changed the alerting email address to my Gmail account.

The new “Scale of the Universe” interactive animation – the best way to get perspective on life

If you need to gain some perspective on life, check out the Scale of the Universe 2, an updated interactive animation first published in 2010. The new version includes information on many of the featured elements. Starting at a common reference point – the size of an average human being – the slider lets you zoom waaaay out to see, for example, the largest galaxies photographed by Hubble and waaaay in to see, for instance, the smallest particles known (or hypothesized) by theoretical physicists.

Lest you think that this amazing animation is a big-budget product from some science-loving organization, think again. According to ABC News:

“Scale of the Universe 2″ was created by Cary Huang, a 14-year-old ninth grader from Moraga, Calif., with technical help from his twin brother Michael…”My seventh grade science teacher showed us a size comparison video on cells, and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to make my own interactive version that included a much larger range of sizes,” said Cary in an email forwarded by his mother. “It was not a school project — just for fun. However, my science teacher loved it so much she showed [it] to the class! My brother, Michael, helped me put it on the internet.”…Cary said he worked on the project, on and off, for a year and a half, getting information from Wikipedia and astronomy books.

Nice job, guys!

Click the image to start exploring the universe!

I Just Googled: “Android App Builder”

I use Google. A lot. Like dozens of times a day. For lots of stuff. Random, crazy stuff. Stuff that I’m curious about. Stuff that the kids are curious about. I Google from my laptop, the desktop, the tablet, and my phone. I figured it would be an interesting experiment if, every time I Googled something that resulted in a noteworthy answer, that I’d blog about it. Heck, maybe it’ll get me back into blogging about anything. So here goes.

What I Googled: “android app builder”

Why I Googled it: This morning, a conversation between my wife and I resulted in a great idea for an Android app (not sharing the particulars in case I actually want to follow through with it). After several searches in both the Apple market and the Android app store as well as multiple Google searches on the web, I am relatively convinced such an app doesn’t exist. I’ve always been curious about what it takes to build an Android app and I thought this would be a good excuse to gain new skills in that area. While  I have some familiarity with programming languages, it’s not very deep, so programming an app from scratch isn’t really an option at this point.

What I found out: I remembered hearing awhile back about an app builder that Google itself released. So I was hoping that my search would help me find that. It did…and yet didn’t. Apparently, the Google App Inventor (as it was actually named) is no longer supported by Google, but is instead being supported by MIT. But unfortunately, they are revamping the app – still named App Inventor and haven’t yet released a public version. If you’d like to learn more about that project, read the website.

I also found other sites – free and paid – that offer similar services. The most promising of these seem to be Andromo and appsbar. That is, both websites are written in clear English and with a nice aesthetic. I have no idea if they can actually deliver on their promises. 😉 Apps Maker for Android offers some handy templates, but none fit the idea I have, so I’m not going to try that one.

The takeaway: I’m curious to see if either of the alternate services I found can actually help me create a working Android app. I’m also keeping tabs on the MIT App Inventor since I’d like to try that one, too. If you’ve had experience with these or any other app builders, please let me know in the comments. If you have suggestions for better ways of diving into Android app development, I’d like to hear that, too.