My New Website


I am in the process of creating my very own website. For a while now I have been using wordpress in a limited way to blog about my life and about software. While this has been fun, I really want to create my own space not just for blogging but also for actively developing for the web. So today I would like to announce that I have created just that. If you visit samjohnduke.com you will be greeted by a lovely blue page. That’s all I have for now, You can submit you email address and I will notify you when I have new and exciting spaces for you to visit.

Here is a list of development that I am currently working on.

  • A Custom Open Source Authentication Library for CodeIgniter to power my user system.
  • A Fully collaborative code editing environment
  • A create this space page for personal discovery
  • A blogging platform
  • Social media extension platform
  • Experimental Workspaces page

And much MUCH more.

So Please, If you have a chance, Signup and you might just be amazed at the world waiting at you fingertips.

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Children on Facebook


If you’re a parent, you generally have a fairly intense concept of right and wrong, despite there being differences within your general and wider communities. I am not judging, everyone has the right to raise their children how they see fit. Despite that this will inevitably lead to a destructive discussion, I would like to raise a point about the posting of images of children on Facebook and other websites, and how this could be a potentially dangerous habit.

When a child is born, they have very little impact on society. This is important because it enables parents to steer the child away from the lessons that they themselves can teach as a parent, rather than a let the child make unnecessary failures. When a parent posts a picture of their child onto the internet they are leaving an impression of them on the world that the child has no control over. The issue is that parents who are children of a social disconnection (via social media websites with physical separation) have not learned the lessons that come with such interaction. In fact no one knows what the true lessons of the internet and how it may be used in the future. The internet is only just graduating from college (in a figurative sense) itself and entering the workforce, at a meagre 25 years old. If you think of the internet in useful terms, it is only been about 15 years since the notion of being able to do anything other than share documents.

With the internet as young as it is, and the lessons that have not yet been learned about the power and appropriate respect that is necessary when dealing with it, parents need to think twice before posting images of their child onto the internet for the world to see. Now this is solely conjecture, I don’t have an answer as to whether there are any consequences to this habit. But I understand the power of the internet and can recognise that the public exhibition of children could be potentially harmful to them later in life. The point is, we don’t know so lets be a little cautious.

To that end I would ask that parents, in all their wisdom, ask themselves whether they would like a random stranger to walk into their house, unannounced, to look at their child. Now that’s a scary proposition, but it’s the truth. If you put a picture onto the internet, no matter how ‘secure’ or how much privacy you think you have, you still must consider that it is PUBLIC and that anyone can see it. You can never know what will happen to you ‘private’ data in the future if it sits on a server in a factory somewhere in the world and could be robbed, stolen or even just sold without being securely wiped clean.

Now I am not trying to scare people or make them take any action at all. I want parents and everyone else, to take a moment and think about the possible consequences of posting pictures of their children, or children in general on a website like facebook.

This is a potentially contentious topic and I would love to know what you think about it.

Of Spirituality and Belief


I live in a world of spirituality and belief, of happiness and joy, of pain and suffering, of understanding and doubt, of faith and trust and of imagination and reality. I live in a world without god.

For many years I have grappled with the concept of god. Perhaps a better wording is ‘my’ interpretation of god. This distinction needs to be made because the nature of god is not a singular structure that exists, but that god is presented to the world as representations of religions AND the introspection of the self.

This personal struggle has lead me to cover much of the ground that surrounds god. Starting at religion, which seems to be the first instance of god that a child has, to belief and faith and onto spirituality. I have journeyed to my conclusions on spirituality and belief that I am sure I will continue to address for the rest of my life, and yet my internal answers serve as a great comfort in easing my inner duality that we all have to come to terms with.

For now the only conclusion that I would like to put forward is that I whole heartedly believe that the notion of a benevolent god, an external entity from me the self and mostly associated with a religion although not by necessity, to be non-existent. That for all common purposes I am an Atheist.

From this point forward, I would love nothing more than to delve deeper into my journey, telling tales of adventure and discussion with long nights around a table with friends and family and trips out of town to further my understanding of the world. But the truth of the matter is that much of my discovers come through quiet contemplation, through reading and watching documentaries, and that my answers are my own, and not fed to me through external sources such as revelation of mind.

Perhaps the reason for this is that this issue is as much of spirituality and belief as it is about my own identity, after all we are nothing without an identity except a body. My identity to me is me, being more than just who I am to others and myself, but the choice in the delicate path that I weave through space and through time. My identity includes my perception of me, in what and how do I see myself.

So with this in mind, my journey through spirituality and belief as well as the search and discovery of my own identity will begin, and with the recognition that I am not and can never have finished this journey, I will discuss some of the major hurdles that I have crossed in my struggles.

Does God Exist

This is THE fundamental question that we must all contemplate with discussing any issue relating to spirituality and belief because it so intimately shapes the way in which we make related decisions. If a person believes that a god exists, then the self reflection and internal dialogue will be swayed to mirror this, and they may disassociate themselves from their identity. This is reflected in the Christian (and maybe others) religious concept of being a ‘child of god’. If however, we consider a person who does not believe in god, then they will without a doubt place a different association on their internal dialogue with their identity.

The association with the identity is the key, and the existence of god, or the personal perception of god, plays a vital role. This concept does nothing to shift my point of view, nor should it make a person feel any different at all, what it should show is that people will have a different identity, based upon the answer to the question.

One of the toughest concepts of the existence of god that I have ever worked through is that of the quote by an ancient Greek scholar Epicurus

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
— Epicurus (ca. 341-270 BCE), Greek philosopher

This quote really made me think. What did I have to say about this. This scholar has come from a time and place where considerable advances where made in academia, yet too early to do anything but think and play with some rudimentary mathematics. Yet here is a man who rationally questions the notion of god.

The first thought that comes to mind is perhaps some part of his logic is misconceived or misunderstood and yet, at least to me, this is a valid argument. Of course the religious schooling in me tells me that the line ‘whence cometh evil?’ is an answerable question, in such that god ‘allows’ evil to persist for any number of reasons, most notably free will. But to me these answers are too simple and avoid the question’s true essence. That if he is willing and able, and has a capability beyond human reason, why is there evil at all. If a god is so determined to have us love him because we as humans want to, doesn’t that make him a narcissistic character on a level that could by human standards by unacceptable.

To me personally, this quote does have it’s flaws, but it also encapsulates the way that I feel. “Why call him God” is a great question to ask, for why do we need god. I can understand a need for religion, in that a set of beliefs helps society to function. But history tells us that it doesn’t help keep society at peace, and often causes far more problems than it solves and most importantly, provides it’s followers a means to stop behaving rationally. But a need for religion without a need for god suggests that we could choose to live without both and build for ourselves a world where we have the values and morals that allow us live socially and at peace.

Because of this conclusion, I can say that I don’t believe in god. I wish that I could say that god doesn’t exist. I wish that I had some evidence to prove that there was no god and that we would all be better off without his concept. What I do have is the writings of many philosophers, scientists and great thinkers, who have all weighed into this question and came to relatively the same conclusion. Because of that I am happy to be part of the society who chooses to accept in the non-existence of god, a part of the atheistic society who lives by rational and logical reasoning.

But just because I deny the existence of god, does not mean that I cannot be a spiritual person. Spirituality can be separated from god and religion such that an identity can be had from an internal perspective. However that is for the next post.

If you have an opinion about something that I have said in this post please leave a comment.

Websites I’m In Love With


I have a list of websites that I visit habitually that don’t include social media websites. This habit has at times been a problem, I can’t remember how many times I was late to class because of a new blog post on a website that I just had to read. Today I thought I would share these with you. Maybe you could suggest some that you like to visit habitually.

Revision3.com
I love revision3. Plain and simple video content that’s fresh and original AND technology related that is rare to find. There are some great independent publishes that use revision3 such as hak5 and Geekbeat.tv. Basically Revision3 is a web publishing tool for video content. Think publish as an author would publish a book (means you only get ‘good’ content and all in HD content).

Nettuts+
Net tuts is a great website which publishes blog post tutorials, web development articles and inspirational type posts. They are insightful and good reading (as well a watching). Part of the Envato family, You know that your going to get good quailty posts 2 or 3 times a week. I also like reading other tuts+ websites such as webdesign and wp (wordpress). One of the things that I really like about these websites is they often gives me ideas about completely different concepts.

hack’a’day
Quick simple posts, 5 or 6 a day, often including videos. The main point of the website is to collect together cool ‘hacks’, usually hardware related combinations of components to achieve a specific task. The website is great for inspiration.

Steve Duke Photography :: flickr
Ok, this is a little bit of a shameless plug, it is my dad’s photo stream on flickr. He is a great amateur photographer and budding professionally, and while he does not have a website yet (I’m working on it), he updates his stream quite often and it is a great source of inspiration and enjoyment.

This list is not all my favourite websites, but they are the ones that I visit the most. I would love some suggestion of websites that I should visit and of course why 😛

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