Currently, in North America, our credit and debit cards have the ability to do “tap pay”, which is when you old the card up next to or against a receiver device (usually a hybrid that also handles chip and swipe payments) for a brief moment until a notification sounds, and your payment is processed. This is very convenient and finally makes going cashless simpler than handing over a twenty. (I do not wish to promote the idea of a cash-free ecosystem, but this sure is a solid step in that direction.) The simplicity and speed come at a cost, however: what happens if your card gets into the wrong hands?

For the longest time, my parents, siblings, wife, and I had a group conversation in iMessage, which helped bridge the hundreds of kilometers between us. It was great. We could arrange times for video calls, share 20 pictures of a random event, brag about how one's weather was better than the other's, and other similarly family-like things that are normal to talk about. It was great because it was a simple process to set up, a platform we were already using, and was decently secure for those of us who care about that sort of thing.

But then my sister went and got a Samsung phone.

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a smart TV even if you don't care at all about the privacy worries.

People break websites so easily. A very large portion of websites, especially for small businesses and organizations, are managed by people who don't have much experience with the technology or industry standards. Thanks to modern systems like Squarespace, it’s very easy to produce something that’s good enough for most people’s standards, but that also creates the possibility of breaking things.

If you can't hire a professional to build or maintain your website in a way that keeps it top-notch and better than your competition, here are some of the things to watch out for while working on your web presence.

I’ve built a lot of websites for Christian churches of varying denominations, and I’ve noticed several trends when it comes to things that are commonly forgotten by the staff people maintaining the site.

Photo above: the tabernacle at St Joseph's Basilica, the local cathedral in our archdiocese. Copyright Brian Holdsworth and used with permission, kinda.

Three years ago, I knew almost nothing about Catholicism. I basically thought of the Catholic Church as just another denomination, and one that really liked traditional, old-fashioned practices. Sometimes, I'd hear things ranging from “Not all Catholics are Christian”, to things like “Catholics are call going to Hell because they worship Mary and the Pope”. I didn't really know what to think, but considering that the more trustworthy sources I had tended to stick with a pretty non-damning set of opinions, that's what I settled with, though I wasn't so concerned about the matter.

In 2016, I wrote about how scoring the Olympics by total medal counts, or by just the number of golds, was an inaccurate way to say which nation did best, because different nations have different abilities. Either Kenya or Tajikistan "won", by my chosen measurements.

This year, I took the same "weighted medal score" (henceforth called WMS) that I used before, and compared it to a bunch of national statistics, looking for correllations. Athelete counts of course had the strongest, because the more athletes a nation has competing, the better chance they have of winning something. I don't think this was good enough on its own, because a richer country will have more athletes.

No, it's not.

Bottle of kombucha

I love kombucha. 

Several years ago, I became interested in it, but rarely bought it, as it's in that category of pricey, cool products that are too expensive for this Dutch guy to buy. I mentioned, off-handedly, to my wife once that I wanted to try and make some myself, but never really did anything until Christmas of 2015. That year, we decided to challenge ourselves into trying to find heartfelt gifts for each other with a $10 price limit. I bought her some earthy cosmetics and loose-leaf tea, and she bought me the supplies to start making my own kombucha.

Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This was a question that I started asking early on in my research of Catholicism. I understood the basic reasons why Catholics venerate the Saints and Mary, and why they believed they could be asked for prayer. (The actual process of veneration of the Saints, which involves scientifically verifying that a miracle has occurred because of the intercession of a possible Saint, was a key point here.) Being rather skeptical by nature, I decided to research the topic from the other perspective: why can’t we pray to the Saints?