Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Got a Paper Accepted

Good news this week. I got a paper accepted for the PST 2006 conference (PST = Privacy, Security and Trust), which will be Markham, Ontario (not far from Toronto) on October 30 until November 1.

We have some modfications to make to the paper in question, as they accepted us as a 'short paper' of only four pages... also known as an introduction, previous work, and conclusion... grrr.
Its funny how we are asked to make a shorter paper with more references! :)

We'll see who will be presenting the paper. Pray that it is me!!!
Still, I prayed (and asked for prayers) for acceptance to this conference and another one, and it was answered. Yay!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Great Weekend in Toronto

Friday was a holiday at the university, since the saturday was the Saint-Jean Baptiste.
And my office was relocated on Monday... leaving me with a long weekend, which I enjoyed in Toronto.

So I take the 11:30 bus and arrive in Toronto somewhere close to 18:30. On my way, I do some reading in Mere Christianity, from C.S. Lewis.
Then, I grab some Japanese food and I head off to meet the singles and campusians for their Friday devotional. We read a few psalms and prayed together. There is one prayer (for Canada) that freaked me out... it started as a fine thing, asking for safety and godly leadership, and turned into something really political (don't let us complain...). I should've talked to the brother about it... oh well.
I get to the place of the brother hosting me for the weekend and we chat a bit. I don't have a good night, being awoken in the middle by the guy who spoke in his sleep... we took some time to pray to let go of our worries and then things were better.
Comes in Saturday. I had to wake up very early to go to the HOPE Walkathon. I was ready by 7AM (not quite yay). I committed to participate with 2 sisters... and one was doing the run, the other was doing the walk. What is a man to do? The answer is: both.
So, I run 10 Km to encourage that first sister (litterally doing some dragging), and then did the 5 Km walk with the other (and a few other folks that were with us, mostly a Mexican sister telling us about her life over there).
So that got me tired. We drove to Scarborough to drop one sister to do some shopping, and I had a bite with another in a Thai restaurant. I had a very yummy soup (large noodles with crab and shrimp), and then went on to crash on my bed. I had to cancel a hang out with a friend.
After resting, I did some groceries with a brother and I went to deep-down-far-away-Scarborough to hang out with two sisters. I could say that they are the closest female friends I have in Toronto. I let them cook an improv meal based on what I brought while I tried improving the speed of one of the sister's laptop (please notice the gender segregation here. I'm fully expected to be hung to a high tree for such an evil treatment of women... I live in Québec, after all :P ).
She didn't want me to liberate her computer with Linux :( I guess it'll take more suffering on her part before she makes the switch.
The meal was GREAT! We had omelets as the main course. One had a mozarella + mushroom sauce and the other had a mango+tomato sauce. There were some pasta too. We were so full we didn't get to dessert. And I had brought maple syrup just for that! Snif :'(
We all had a good time, talked lots. One showed some of her travel pictures, and I showed some of mine (those on my European blog). I took the bus to get back home... and that's when things started going wrong. I did a mistake on the way there and couldn't find the place. I did not have the piece of paper with the address or the brothers' phone numbers.
I called one sister who would know... no answer (1 AM). I call the one who had me at her place, and she's not sure. I walk around the place trying to backtrack my steps from the grocery store. She calls a few folks of the church trying to get the information, and even finds me another place to stay (1:30 AM). With some more searching and finally reaching the first sister, I get to the place. My ankle started hurting in the process, as I was wearing my fancy shoes (that's what women do to men! see why women are evil :P ) and I've been limping a bit since then. Anyway, at 2 AM I was in my bed, feeling thankful for a merciful God and a really loving sister going the extra mile (if not two, or a thousand).
On Sunday, it is time to get to a house church service. We had a message about God's gentle whisper in 2 Kings 5. That is something I did not notice before in this passage. We had a BBQ afterwards and I joined my dear sisters at Pacific Mall (think of it as Scarborough's quasi-chinatown... I might have been the only white guy there). We chatted a bit. I found out that I was not a white guy, but 'beige' :P :) That means too white to be yellow, too yellow to be white. That's quite accurate. I am sorry to disapoint, but I am not gonna fake being a cowboy or something just to be more 'white'. There are many things I like about asia, mostly due to my martial arts background, and so be it!
Anyway, we went to help a couple who is getting maried to get their condo together. While the sisters were washing the floors, the brothers were assembling the doors of the cabinetery and a TV stand.
I'm so good at gender segregation! On a more serious note, I enjoyed doing something with my hands. I don't do that a lot.
In the evening, I had a meal with the brothers hosting me, and we saw Hitch, in which a brother played a scene (or at least someone looking like him). It was very typical... not gonna go farther.
On Monday, I go spend time with a brother who's building a web site for networking disciples and using affiliates to generate easy revenue for the churches. I can forward your his email if you are interested. The project is interesting and has a lot of potential. Many pitfalls too, like anything worth doing.
I took the bus and did 3 studies out of Proverbs that shook me to the core: relying on God, advising, and generosity. I read more of CS Lewis and I am surprised to see that he's buying some of modern churchianity without thinking. He's writing a lot of good stuff, but then talks about Christians going to war and the immortality of the soul and I'm frowning. The immortality of the sould is a Greek idea and there is a case against that concept to be made from the Bible. Also, as I read by Bercot, the doctrine of righteous war was drafted by Augustine, quite not in accordance of early Christian beliefs. Anyway.
I also watched a troubling/touching movie, Blind Spot. Hitler's Secretary. She tells the story of how it was to work for Hitler... its crazy how it was a real ivory tower. The anecdotes have a certain interest, but its her continual shame and unforgiveness that is the most suprising.
Back home I spent time with some brothers and then I got to bed. I think that everyone will know by tomorrow that I really really really enjoyed my time in TO.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Da Vinci Code Presentation Online

So, I uploaded it on Google Video. You can watch it here:




Sports :) and :(

First of all: Go Schweiz! Haha! They are lined up to move ahead in the tournament.

Second, snif @ hockey... we can't seem to get that Stanley Cup on Canadian soil. Oh well.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Its raining ... cash?

I received an email today from one of the administrative staff telling me that I received a Hydro Quebec Graduate Award.

My mood went up! That was unexpected (although I applied for it, I wasn't really caring about getting it). Its not 1 million dollars, for sure, but it'll help my cash-strapped finances this year :)
I feel like God is blessing me, but I don't want to speak on His behalf, since He hasn't told me.
So far, I'm good at fighting the feeling of deserveness.

Resume updated, you can be sure of that.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What Was Christianity?

I presented a conference yesterday at Concordia titled "What was Christianity? Did the Da Vinci Code Expose True Christianity?"

The presentation was a very small subset of the contents of this document I wrote and that I'm publishing on TheoThoughts.

Go get it!

It is the fruit of many many hours of reading and redaction. I got the last bus more than once this week in the process of finalizing it.
The presentation went smoothly. Too smoothly even... things were going out of my mouth with so much ease it was scary. However, I was told by a brother that I did sound arrogant. I guess that the sudden eloquence did not come alone... still, where did that thing come from? Was it God blessing me? Was it an expression of pride that doesn't show up under normal circumstances? Both?

Anyway, I had the chance to put in practice some of the gifts I was given. This is also a prayer answered, as "a public lecture" was on the list I made in January!
Its possible that we'll redo it on another campus. We'll see. :)

There won't be much more to say about my week... I more or less breathed for that thing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What Was Christianity?

Did the Da Vinci Code Expose True Christianity?

This is a document I wrote as an extension of a lecture I'll be making tonight at Concordia.

What Was Christianity? Did the Da Vinci Code Expose True Christianity? (PDF)
What Was Christianity? Did the Da Vinci Code Expose True Christianity? (Zipped Word)

[edit]
Here is a video of the presentation that I made:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Using Remote Desktop with SSH Port Forwarding

I helped a buddy yesterday to connect to his machine at home while the Concordia network didn't allow the remote connection. Here's the short howto he wrote for me to publish.

Please note that the solution assumes that Cygwin is installed with the X server.

I was trying to connect to my computer at home from office. The strange thing
about our office is that we have a secure lab, therefore not so many things are
possible here. However, this gets us to do intresting things which are far
better than those that are done outside the lab.
do we know about Remote Desktop Connection?? Of course we do. the crappiest
desktop connection there is. Since it is crappy, we were not able to connect
from our secure lab to the desktop. Why?? Because when we bound the ports of
the the machine at home to the ports of the machine in the lab by(3389 and 80
are the posrts that Remote Desktop connection listens to):
ssh -L 3389:localhost:3389 -L 80:localhost:80 (doctored to remove the remote IP of the remote host)
We ran into a problem. The remote desktop Connection does not allow you to
connect to yourself. BUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!
What did we do??
We came up with the solution on the website www.rdesktop.org. Basically, the
same as Remote desktop connection but better. The difference in that you can
connect to yourself. The graphic is bad. Since you are on X-server. But what
the heck!!
And...We are using SSH.. which is secure. Not your everyday remote Desktop
connection which is "who knows what"!!!
Sia
Long live the opensource.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gah!

I'm feeling overwhelmed.

The conference on the Da Vinci Code that I'm presenting is next Friday. I had quite a bit of stress related to getting the room, mostly because of a slow communication link (email) with my sponsor for the room. Now, it is booked, but there is an issue outstanding.

Other than that...

I'll put work aside... its been special this week.
On Monday, besides work, I go spend time with the elderly in that retirement hospital (best translation I could guess). We had fun. We were in the outside garden this time around. The guy playing the piano had his hat land on the roof that covers the meeting place of the garden... and I'm the one who had to go get it. Oh, and I also tripped over the power cord of his keyboard. DOH! Anyway, the evening went smoothly.
Once that was done, I helped my brand new sister (she was baptized the sunday just before! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!) with her French and her knowledge of Canadian history. After that, I had to update my finances tracking so that we could settle the accounts between roomates. My bed welcomed me.
Tuesday was the same as usual. I helped my roomate with his computer problems. That was a shock surgery. We took his case from his old computer and that's pretty much it! We replaced the motherboard and the power supply. The difficult thing was to get the two CD and DVD players connected because of their master/slave configuration (fun cable twisting). I had to spend quite a bit of time debugging the hardware, but it is (mostly) done. Windows is not booting (not a surprise... you move from a Pentium 4 board to an AMD Athlon XP board... there's probably just the bytecode that is compatible with what was before). I had the chance to test quickly the Helix Forensic CD and I enjoyed it. Its fast and it has just the right tools to do imaging and detection.
In parallel of all that, I finished reading Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, 3rd edition, which I loved tremendously! Granted, the author has a view of the early chuch father that is a bit high. Still, its been doing good to my soul. The interesting thing is that it comes from an evangelical author. He gave the the taste to read the texts of the early christians myself.
On Thursday, I helped a sister move to her new apartment.
Friday, we had a time watching movies with the campus group at church. We had the pleasure of watching Mr. Deeds, followed by Motorcycle Diaries. The first one whas a typical funny adam sandler movie, full of fully expectable plot twists and american ending. The second one was a jewel. We see the young Che Guevara who decides to put aside his last semester in med school to travel from Argentina to Venezuela with a biochemist friend. Their motorcycle ends up breaking down and they finish the trip by foot. In their journey, they meet a lot of misery, especially form the natives of South America who were expelled from their land. The contrast between the two characters (at least at first) is impressive: the young che is an example of faithfulness to his beloved and of honesty, and Alberto Granado is the example of lying and lusting. They spend time in a Leprosy camp too. A truly inspiring journey.
On Saturday, I finished fixing my bike. I had to change the tires, take care of some rust, get myself a new lock for it, etc. Now it is fully done and ready to be used. Now that it stopped raining, I should be able to go to school on Monday using it.
In the evening, I had a date with my brand-new sister and a dating couple of the church. They treated us with wonderful fish and potatoes, followed by some games that made us laugh a bit. Then, we watched Batman Begins. I liked the character development, which is much more developped that in many American movies I see. I relate to the young Bruce Wayne, who can't feel his shame because of his anger... I know that I have still much work to do to understand my emotions after years of repressive habits BUT! I promise that I won't be inhaling an opiate with some ninjas to help me deal with that! :)
This Sunday, I delivered a message on the communion at church. I was talking that the communion/eucharist/Lord's supper brings us closer to God by the dual combination of the product and the process. I'll try posting my message notes on TheoThoughts. I had a study with a guy who decided to be baptized next Sunday. I'm excited. This is a prayer answered! I also worked (and will be working) on my Da Vinci Code document today.
Here's a quote from one of our brothers, Ignatius, considered to be a disciple of John:
"My lust hath been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only water living +and speaking+ in me, saying within me, Come to the Father.
I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Christ who was of the seed of David; and for a draught I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible."
(Ignatius to the Romans 7:2-3. I got it from www.earlychristianwritings.com)

Ubuntu 6.06 is out!

Oooooooooooooooh yeah!

The best and brightest of Linux distributions got better.

Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution that is aimed at the average joe. From my experience, I would guess that it can be used without a shell for the average desktop. Laptop is another story, especially because that WPA is not well supported just yet.

I upgraded my laptop and I have to work out a few issues regarding the wireless connection. I tested the Live CD on my roomate's computer and it was doing an OK job (except for the sound that was not detected. Is it a missing driver in the LiveCD?). I have yet to test the installation procedure.

One thing I can comment, besides the improved software, is that the whole thing looks sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. A lot of the typical open-source uglyness is gone.

They still have the policy of frozen software versions, which is annoying to me (but I'm not a typical user... I could be fit for the debian testing or unstable, really). This means that they freeze a functional version of the software in their repository and will release update only on major issues (typically security fixes). There is a lot of wisdom in it ("if it ain't broke, don't fix it"), but that's not my 'cutting edge' style.

Anyway. Get yourself the Desktop livecd by Bittorrent and try it!

Monday, June 5, 2006

Reading and Writing Week

So, I finished my reading of the Da Vinci Code. I started reading Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up with great convicting joy.

Now, I have to pull together my references and write the contents of my upcoming presentation. The editorial cut will be very tight because there's just too much material.

I submitted two papers for an IBM conference near Toronto. Lets just pray for their acceptance. There has been quite a last minute rush over those.

This Saturday, I spent some time with a brother from Québec City and it was good to update on each other's life. In the evening, it was a friend's birthday party that we celebrated in an Ethiopian restaurant. Its nice to eat with your hands every now and then!
On Sunday, we had the baptism of a brand new sister! I was so joyful. I prayed for her for months and months and months. I had the chance to build a relationship and to make a few contributions on her path (as mr know-it-all :P ) and I rushed out of kid's class (I was excused, don't worry) to see the baptism. And yes, I hugged her very very very much. :)