Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Cellular

The Science Is Clear: Don’t Text and Walk

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Being distracted by texting makes people walk more slowly and crookedly, and they are more likely to be hit by cars

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

January 24, 2014 at 14:29

Posted in Culture

Tagged with , , , ,

Texting and Driving: Is it a Sin?

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Dr Taylor Marshall writes:

Is texting and driving a car sinful? I am certainly guilty of it. In fact, I did it today on the way home from a Saint George campout (the campout was lots of fun by the way. 80 sons and fathers. Holy Mass. Rosaries. Divine Mercy. Photos coming soon).

While I was on the campout, I learned that one of my former students rolled his truck. He survived. He was texting and driving. I know several people who have wrecked while texting. We know its dangerous, but we do it every day. I do it.

Texting and Driving and AT&Ts New Effort

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog (one of my favorites – remember my Lizard Brain post?) and he commented on AT&Ts new commercial to prevent texting while driving.

Godin, a master of human behavior, believes that AT&Ts commercial won’t work. Here are his four reasons why:

  1. The culture of the car as a haven, a roving office, and a place where you do what you like
  2. The culture of the Marlboro man, no speed limiters in cars, ‘optional’ speed limits on roads
  3. The culture of connection and our fear of being left out
  4. The culture of technology, and our bias to permit it first and ask questions later

Godin suggests that phone makers rig mobile devices to notify the person we’re texting that we’re driving. This creates peer-pressure or self-policing. The other option is to require wireless companies to ban texting when the phone is moving more than 20 miles per hour.

But is Texting and Driving Sinful?

So here’s the big question. Does texting and driving constitute a sin? Does it anger God? Drinking and driving is unethical. Gravely sinful. Drugs and driving? Unethical. Driving fast in a school zone. Unethical. Driving fast in a construction area with men at work? Unethical.

Why are these unethical driving practices? They are wrong because you are endangering the lives of other people.

Now texting does not impair the intellect, as do alcohol and drugs. However, texting and driving does impair the sense of sight – a key necessary element of driving. So is it wrong? Should I confess it?

Defining Imprudent Acts: Speed Racer Tattoo Example

I don’t think that I need to go to confession and say, “Father, I texted about 14 times in the last week while driving.” I don’t think it’s a sin per se, but I do think it qualifies as negative behavior or more strictly as an “imprudent act.”

Students often ask me, “Is XYZ a sin.” They are usually asking about tattoos, piercings, smoking cigars, or whatever college kids want to do. I usually suggest that such activities are “imprudent acts,” and not sins properly speaking.

However, if you have a tattoo on your face or a devil on your back, you need to talk to a priest. Not good.

But if you got excited in the 1990s and have a tattoo of Speed Racer on your upper arm, that’s simply an imprudent act. You have a dated Japanese anime character ink-stained into your human flesh. Sorry bro. That was gravely imprudent. Did you incur the wrath of God? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you lacked prudence. With your Speed Racer anime inkspot, you may never find a wife. Even more, the dudes at the gym are laughing at you behind your back. Nothing says 90s dork than Speed Racer.

[Disclosure: I actually did see a dude with a Speed Racer tattoo at Lollapalooza way back in 1994.]


My opinion, not magisterial pronouncement, is that texting and driving falls under “imprudent acts.”

What I usually try to do is use the iPhone speech to text option. For example:

“Dear Joy, do you want to pick up some Popeyes?”

Unfortunately speech to text turns this into:

“Deer toy do you want me to pick epson drop byes?”

Fortunately, she’s pretty good at deciphering these kind of texts!


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 10, 2013 at 16:42

We are in a Post-Website World

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Time to get those heads out of the old dusty Churchmanship books… again.

It’s a post-website world, but you still need a website. A church website is still essential, but the primary ways your church will interact with people are through numerous streams of communication, including e-mail, texting, and social media. Some will find your church through its website, but more than likely, they’ll find it through a friend on Facebook or Twitter who recommends the church, points to a video or story on the church’s website, or some other form of word-of-mouth communication…

Rest here.

Too many Church leaders are only beginning to discover what the Internet really is, what it means, and how it is to be used in and for the cause of the Gospel.

So, for starters: Blog = Social Media.

Bishops, blog.

Priests, blog (!)

Deacons, blog.

Do not fear.

All God’s people: Go forth into the digital world and proclaim the good news!


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 18, 2013 at 15:26

An App for Archaeological Sites in Israel

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Using advanced augmented reality technology, Architip lets users visualize ancient sites in their original form.

This is fantastic! Times of Israel reports:

Visitors to Israel’s many archaeological sites are often told to come equipped with a camera, and an imagination. The camera is to take photos of themselves and their companions at these famous sites — and the imagination is supposed to help them visualize what many of the faded, ancient, and time-worn places looked like during their heyday.

There are loads of aids to help prompt those imaginations, from guidebooks to audio recordings to professional guides. But Architip, a new app created by a team of image and archaeology professionals, takes a decidedly high-tech approach to the issue. Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the app lets users see what sites actually looked like long ago, bringing to virtual life a view of the ancient world.

Augmented reality is a technology that uses mathematics, models, location services, camera technology, and advanced algorithms to impose a virtual image that melds into a real-life one. “For example, you might look at an ancient mosaic on the floor of a synagogue or church, and barely see the decorations on it because of the fading,” said Yaron Benevisti, CEO of Architip, which is located in Jerusalem and has been operating for about six months. “With Architip, you would see the mosaic in full color, with all its drawings intact.”

Because each site needs to be mapped and augmented separately, Architip is being marketed as a “white label” engine, which will be used at specific sites. As a pilot, the Architip R&D team, led by Israeli AR and computer vision pioneer Sagiv Philipp, has mapped and “virtualized” the Tel Lachish archaeological site in central Israel. Tel Lachish was a fortified city surrounded by towers, and had many stately buildings, but looking at the site today, it’s hard to visualize the city as it was. With Architip, users can see the site in all its ancient glory just by holding up their smartphone’s camera at the location and looking at the screen.

“With Architip, you can see Tel Lachish as it was,” Benevisti said, “walking through its streets and seeing the reconstruction through your device.” All a user has to do is point their device at a specific point, and Archtip’s technology does the rest.

AR technology, of course, has a million and one uses, and the engine developed by the team does as well. But Benevisti has a soft spot for archaeology — one of the reasons he convinced the team to gear their first commercial application to it. “Archaeology is my passion,” said Benevisti. “We wanted to help bridge the ‘imagination gap,’ between what you see and what’s behind the plain view. People want to experience more, and our technology is perfect for that.”

Archaeology — applied to sites that attract tourists — is also the basis of Architip’s business model. “Sites will want to use our technology to enhance the visitor experience. They can offer the download for a few dollars, or make it a part of the admission package, and give every visitor the experience of having a personal guide.” Adding voice to the app would also be possible, he said, so the Architip app could be used as a substitute for real-life tour guides.

Philipp has been working in the AR area for a decade, and on Architip’s technology, but the company started marketing the app only late last year. The company, so far self-funded, recently got its first customer, a tourist site in Jerusalem —  Benevisti declined to identify the site – and the app will be available in the summer…



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

June 15, 2013 at 21:38

Toilet Technology – Two Thirds Take Gadgets to the Bathroom

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Two thirds of bathroom-breaks are now being accompanied by technology, research has revealed. A study of 2,000 adults has revealed that over a third will bring their phone with them to the toilet, playing games, texting friends or pinging e-mails to co-workers.

In fact, a surprising one in eight of all those surveyed will regularly have a tablet to hand when using the restroom- probably how 10% keep up with sports (watching or listening live) and 4% regularly watch films each time they grace the porcelain throne…

There’s more here.

HTeChurch Blog.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 15, 2012 at 15:10

iPhone 5

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I think I’ll stick to my BlackBerry…


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 22, 2012 at 07:59

Gravestones Embedded with QR Codes

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iol reports on QR codes (Quick Response Codes) that are now being inscribed on some gravestones.

The next time you stop by the cemetery, you may learn a lot more about your dearly departed than a few ceremonial words.

A few companies are now marketing quick response (QR) codes for gravestones, which allow visitors to connect their smartphones to a website containing information on a deceased person, including photos, videos and testimonials from family and friends.

UK-based Chester Pearce Associates manager Stephen Nimmo said: “When you lose somebody… talking about them is very important, keeping their memory going is very important and this is just an add-on to that.”

QR codes have become commonplace on advertising campaigns, allowing a smartphone owner to scan the barcode on an ad to obtain more data about the product or campaign online.

Customers can also get their own QR code gravestones. US-based Quiring Monuments has a video for the firm’s version of the product. Of course, making data public after a person’s death raises issues of privacy and taste.

“It’s a new technology… there will be people who like it [and] people who don’t,” Nimmo said.

Chester Pearce charges customers $500 (R4 090) for the QR code service, which can be placed on memorial benches or plaques in addition to the grave sites.

Gill Tuttiet purchased one of the QR codes for her late husband, Timothy, and says he would have appreciated the forward-thinking gesture. – Reuters

Technology at work.


BTW. this blog has a QR Code, and for your convenience (see that’s what it’s all about), here it is:

See, technology is great? [Although I’m not so sure about the gravestone embedding.] And if you have no idea what I’m on about, take your Smartphone and scan the above pic. QR’s similar to the barcodes used by retailers but can be used (scanned) by your BlackBerry (my choice), iPhone, Android based or other camera enabled Smartphone to link to just about anything – and in my case, the blog. I have one for BlackBerry messaging too.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 12, 2012 at 13:24


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