Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cool things I've fell on researching stuff

As I am building a big reference of useful blogs, websites, publications, etc. in my field, I have to sort through a LOT of stuff that is not directly related. Some can be very useful though.

Sidenote: I'm actually happy with the strike at the CBC for very selfish reasons: CBC Radio 2 has non-stop classical music, except for the news at every hour. I like non-stop classical music. Non-stop classical music is good! :D
The only thing is that you have no clue of what just played... :(

If you want to learn about phishing , here is a no-brainer video.
Now, about why it is a BAD thing to run as an admin in Windows
And if you actually are a limited user but need to be admin for a while.
Funny is also the Devil's Infosec Dictionnary.

Stupid Canoe

I saw a contest to win an MP3 player.
To register I need to open a Canoe Passport account.
To do so, I need to give all my personal information without SSL/TLS protection.

If you are tempted to register, please don't! If someone can't figure out how to turn SSL on their web server, I doubt that they have a clue how to defend themselves against cross-site scripting and other attacks like that.
Besides, I don't wanna risk packet sniffing of my personal information.

The form is here:
http://passeport.canoe.com/cgi-bin/inscription.cgi

I wrote to support about it. We'll see their reaction. I hope we'll see repentance.

And yes, I believe that not caring about the security of senstitive data is stupidity. There is noone in the web development world who hasn't heard of it, all techies are aware of it, and all IT managers should be at this point too. So, I can't see ignorance here, only stupidity.

I'm so graduating!

I checked my grades yesterday, and I passed my last class.

I got my graduate student ID done that very morning, and I got a welcome email from the dean :)

I'm very happy with this. I'm just waiting for the letter of invitation to the Convocation Ceremony.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Portland Vacation

Very short summary of my time in Portland

Monday: chilled out with Campus, played Frisbee and Ultimate Frisbee. Wen to a Chemical Recovery meeting and got real close with two brothers there. I am thinking of adapting some of the contents for Montreal, but for something else than tobacco, alcool and drugs. Won't say more on this blog.
Tuesday: more chilling out with Campus, had a "cooking date" and cooked for the Bible Talk, attended the Bible talk. A lot of the folks on Campus don't know how to cook and eat at Subways or fast food places all the time (shocking!).
Wednesday: Some "me time" with lots of reading. Met a sister for a date, then attended men's midweek. The midweek was about sharing what we got from the Conference, mostly.
Thursday: Had a walk around Bearverton, read some of the Coran in a little park (part of a commitment to a muslim friend, long story. But worry not, I am very much christian still ). Had a meal with a the brother hosting me. He showed me his portfolio, and he cooked me sourthern-style food. It was fried livers and gizers (not sure of the spelling) with "sweet tea". I liked it very much, even though I would not eat that very day, because of my waistline.
Friday: Went to Powell's City of Books, a HUGE store, with both used and new books. I bought for about 30$ (USD) and they were ALL a steal! I enjoyed being in the rare book section, with the classical music and some very old stuff. After coming back, I spent more time with a sister and got to know her better. Afterwards, went to a prayer walk with two brothers, got a few email addresses, and I was in the transit to get to the airport!
I arrived at NewArk at 5:30ish AM and saw the sun rising. Ate an horrible breakfast at Miami Subs (or something like that). Don't EVER eat there. I took the plane to Burlingto and spent time with a couple of the church there, talking about what is going on in our respective churches, about computer hardware, etc. It was a fun time.
I took the bus back to Montreal and talked for most of the way with a very nice and knowledgeable Chinese woman. She had lots of questions about Christianity, and was comparing my answers a lot from what she learnt from a Catholic friend.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Bible Jubilee was ... woah

In short: great teaching, great surprises. A brother was apointed evangelist (and wasn't told in advance), and I stopped counting the number of baptisms that happened. A missionary team was presented too. It was so great.

There were a few preaches, and I attended two lessons. The first was about full-time ministry, and the other was about building efficient Bible talks.

I also had lots of fun

A brother is very kind and took me in. Its at the outskirts of town, but its a comfy bed!
But let us go chronological
Thursday, 10PM, we leave for the bus station. Take the bus of 11:30. The border crossing goes smoothly. We arrive in Burlington 2:15ish, I don't remember.
We then proceed to walk 4 miles east towards the airport. We take a stop at at gas station to get some breverages, then to fetch bagels. We arrive at the airport past 3 AM. We sleep a bit, and at 4:30, its time to check in our luggage. The departure is at 5:30. The airplane was tiny, and one of the travellers (a tall fellow) did have to stretch his neck to fit in :(
We arrive at Cincinnati, and have one hour before the next flight, so take some time to have a "good" breakfast, even though its all fast-foodish places. We take our 9:10 flight to Portland and arrive about 11:00ish local time (14:00 EST). We take the MAX (light rail) and arrive easily at the convention center. We meet the sisters welcoming us and, since there was nothing better to do, we help moving books for the book table, then cutting name tags.
We then head out to a popular mexican restaurant called Chipotle. The burrito I ordered was actually HEAVY. Not jut for the stomach, but for the arms as well. Must've been a few pounds... not as light as I'm used to for my food!
We then go for a Syracuse-Montreal meeting and spend time with the people of the church there. Toronto and Ottawa meet us.
In the evening, the jubilee began. We had a funny video of Kip and Helena McKean evangelizing the moon, and on the first mission to spread the Gospel to Mars. We had a good laugh. Kip's preaching afterwards on the problems the church went through in the last few years left us with a sense of solving. It was behind us, there has been repentance, let us move forward again.
A brother took me in to sleep at his place, and thus we went to his home, and I was straight to bed.
Saturday morning did not leave us much room to build frienship, because we did not wake up much in advance, really. So we got at the conference center quick.
We had an introduction of the new website for the churches: upsidedown21. We also had a report from HOPE. Afterwards, we had a preach titled "Love Your Enemy", which talked a lot about forgiveness.
Then, I attended a presentation "Is the full-time ministry for me?", which left me with more resolution, but also more questions to ask myself, and more prayers. Basically, if this is not really for you, don't force yourself to keep doing it, because you can end up burnt out and bitter... woah!
My initial course of action remains: I do my Master first. That leaves me 2 years to figure it out. In general, however, I am making it my dream and asking God to make it happen if that is His will for me, or to make it plain clear if it is not. I am in no hurry to have an answer anyway ;)
Another lesson was about Bible Talks. I left with a few good ideas, and a conviction that I was not leading mine in a spiritual way at all. This was THE big thing for me in this conference.
I hung out with some Campus folks during lunch time, and spent time with some sisters during the afternoon break. We were supposed to go to the falls, but that didn't happen. We had a good time though.
During the evening, we had one more preach ("Faith But No Deeds"... you can guess the content!), followed by the band. They had real good music, and it was lots of fun for everyone.
On Sunday, we had the service early. We had a "missions report", which should be titled "news from the congregations present here". The preaching was about the relationship with God, with different aspects to it, and a major challenge to be living it as a husband-wife (in LOVE!) relationship.
After exchanging a few emails, I went on a group date with folks from the Eugene church and ate at a mexican restaurant. I had a good time, and the folks with us were great.
In the afternoon, we had a double date with some Campus sisters and they brought us to the Rose Garden and the waterfront (the big park next to the river). The Rose Garden is very pretty. They do weddings there every now and then, and its no wonder why! I don't love flowers as badly as my mom does, but I do appreciate their beauty, especially as a "photographer". I do love the sense of peace that nature gives me.
So, that's a quick summary of the conference for me. The fellowship was lots of fun, and the spiritual example was stimulating!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Working on my laptop

So, I decided I would finally reinstall Windows on my laptop. It was due, both technically and contractually.

The first step was to resize my Windows Partition, because I'm planning to gradually start using Linux a lot more than in the past, especially since I don't have to work with windows-only tools anymore.
I used Knoppix 3.8 to do so, with qtparted, but there were an error... grrr. After a reboot and some thinking, I tried using ntfsresize, and it only worked partly (it moved the data on the disk, but did not proceed to resize because I was resizing down too much). So I rebooted under Ubuntu, downloaded the latest qtparted and then suceeded where Knoppix failed. Yay!
I've just reclaimed 4.5 Gb that will be used as file storage between Linux and Windows.
I then took the ordeal of reinstalling Windows from Dell's CD. Obviously, the drivers were aside, so I had to waste a lot of time to set the drivers, download the new ones, etc.
I then went on a securing phase (beyond the firewall and antivirus): removed the administrator password, disabling the LM hash, disabling sharing, removing NetBIOS, etc.
Here are some useful links to secure your Windows XP:
http://www.markusjansson.net/exp.html
http://www.its.caltech.edu/its/security/users/hardenxp.pdf
I still have to reinstall Ubuntu now. I doubt I'll do that before coming back from vacation.
Edit:
I wanted to do a ghost image of this Windows partition in case that anything crashed... it was so long to configure that I better do a good job at backing it up :D So, using Knoppix 3.8, I launched a partimage job before leaving for work. It will make a raw copy, like Norton Ghost, and save it on my Linux partition. Afterwards, I'll have to use same Knoppix CD to re-configure LILO or Grub to be able to boot from Linux once more, burn the file, etc. That's geek fun!
Maybe I'll have the time tonight.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

First shot at servantship

So, I started today my new assignment at the book table.
It was an easy start, but I saw how badly there were things that needed some process optimization. Its too natural for me not to do it.

What of the rest of my week?
Even though I did work, there is not much to say about it.
My studying went good. I forgot everything about circuit's step response, and managed to climb out of that hole I was in. I'm feeling midly confident about my exam tomorrow (monday) morning.
On Friday, I reserved myself a special meal, buying some food (including dessert) just for the occasion. I spent it... watching a bit of Jesus of Nazareth, which I bought earlier that day. I was soooooooo looking forward to this! I wanted to purchase this for a few months, and I finally received my paycheck!
That's how I love myself :$
On Saturday, we had a review class all morning that did last too long. What happened is that the booking office made a mistake, so security asked us to leave the classroom, and then sent us somewhere else to finish the lecture... but there was an exam happening there. So they sent us to another room, which was free.
My B. Eng. started with logistic issues, and it looks like it will be finishing the same way. Isn't Concordia wonderful?
I had a d-time with some brothers, then got back to studying, and did so for most afternoon and a bit of the evening.
Then I got to a brother's birthday party at a too-expensive-for-my-taste buffet. I had OK conversation, stuffed myself too much, and left feeling cheated by the bill. Then, to worsen things, someone calls me by mistake on my cellphone. When I call back, he starts insulting me, calls again, etc.
God granted me a victory of surrender with this.
As for this sunday, we had a leaders' meeting at 9, then I got to the booktable to receive my training, and we had the service. The message was inspiring, and I want to do some reading trying to see how this is how Jesus is thinking. I advised a brother afterwards, then got home.
The landlady came and we discussed about some nonimportant matters. I looked at China pictures from one of the Bible students, etc. My afternoon dissolved in meaninglessness, until I got myself a nap. Now I'm typing this, and I'm resolved in giving myself a good special time with God right after.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My place is looking much better

Since there was a mid-week service coming, I put some studying aside and got some household things done

So is the story of my Tuesday evening:
I went to Canadian Tire and Future Shop. I got myself a new bike tire (mine was really at its limit), a bike pump, a light fixture, a few energy-efficient lightbulbs (27W equivalent to 100W, yay!), a 3-2 electric plug adapter and a wireless card for my roomate.
I set the 3-2 adapter at a sister's place, so she can now work on her computer. That made her happy :D
Afterwards, I put the fixture in place, but had to redo it twice (the first time was the metal plate upside down, the second time was because I used the wrong screws to attach the metal plate... grrr), which gave me a good shoulder ache.
Then, it was the time to set the wireless card for my roomate. Linksys' control program is just REALLY BAD, and the one on the CD is badly outdated. In short, it froze all the time, did not have WPA on, etc. Linksys did not help at all, because the drivers and instructions were for versions 1.0,2.0,3.0 and 4.0 of the product. Version 1.2 (our case) was just not mentionned. I had to take a chance and assume it was the same thing as 1.0 (I could have messed up the system doing that... but I also know how to remedy it, so it was a calculated risk).
I had to update the driver and disable the Linksys program from starting up, so that the Windows XP manager can take over. Once we had that in place, things were working more or less fine.
On Wednesday morning, a brother decided he wanted to serve me! I was not about to say no to that! He thus took care of the bike's tire, set a few frames on the wall for me, and even sorted and folded my laundry. That's a lot of love!
I was really glad of his help, and glad to have a decent place to show the people of my house church.
Don't worry, my friends, you'll see pictures of my room once I put in place the postcards of my different travels, encouragement cards, etc.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Planning that dissolves by the circumstances

So, I was planning a salsa night on Friday. I was planning good studying on Saturday. I was planning on doing a deep Bible study on Sunday, and put some decorations in my room.

Looks like God had other plans...

So, everybody cancels out on Friday, and I adapt by doing a movie night with a sister and her roomate. We saw A House of Sand and Fog, which is a lovely piece. We are talking about a movie built around character development and storytelling. I felt the characters having true psychology.
I had a talk also with a friend about the nomination of the new Governor General, which is haitian-born and couldn't figure out the big deal about it. I just see the Governor General as the Medal-Giver of the Government of Canada and Law-Stamping Official of Canada and don't care much about what she does and doesn't do. I don't see what else but tradition keeps this job going and what role this office should do for Canada. End of political commentary.
On Saturday, I helped my roomate shop for a wireless card online, coordinated with the Campus leader, then got for a discipling time with some brothers. I then studied some bit, but was feeling out of energy, and slept a bit. Leaving the building to go to the library (a more fitting place than where I was), I meet an old friend of mine and we take a cofee together. I invited him to church, and the fact that I'm not given a big "NO" is a great encouragement to me.
I met with a brother who lead a Bible talk recently and gave him some feedback, and then answered a few questions about the Old Testament. Summarizing the whole OT is not a fun thing to do, trust me!
We went to a goodbye party afterwards. A sister is leaving for South Africa to support Hope programs for AIDS patients there. She is encouraging and stimulating.
As of Sunday,
going at the service, I spent time with one sister who's partly responsible for the book table and she asked me if I wanted to serve at the book table, review books, etc. I accepted. I am blessed with a personality that can relate to the more scientific as well as to the more emotional. My interests cover a lot of stuff, including self-growth, ancient and ecclesial history, science, etc. I'll have fun advising my brothers and sisters :D
We had an evangelist from the US coming to teach us. He gave us great news from his church, where the zeal has come back. It was good news indeed. He exhorted us to never give up on God, never give up on one another and never give us on dreaming.
Afterwards, with lots of brotherly communion, we went to a restaurant, then to the Old Port.
Back home near 4, a roomate and I set the living room. Finally! It really looks like a home now.
My roomate told me "We are going to play at 'think fast'". He told me to pick a parable in Luke, prepare for one minute, and deliver a 15-minute teaching from it. After about 5 minutes, he told me to stop, and said "you proved that you have enough Bible knowledge to make a Bible talk without freaking out planning it." (or something close). I can't help but being a perfectionist, especially for something like a moment of teaching.
Yes, I am too perfectionist. But I do want to write down good Bible talk and share it with my brothers and sisters, especially of the missionary team in Québec City. Basically, this is one piece of perfectionism I don't want to let go.
In a sense, maybe I'm not surrendering fully to God, but I don't feel I'd be respectful to the Word and to my ministry by leading a Bible talk unprepared. The last time I was underprepared resulted in having no guests, so I feel that God will only bless my ministry if I am prepared.
Afterwards, a brother from Ottawa came over and we spent time together in the evening as well. He told us about the state of the Turkish churches too, that was really cool.,
And now, I am typing my blog, before going to indulge in my perfectionism :)

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Engineering Pains

My professor gave back the results of the test, and I scored a good grade. I was happy with that.

But it was not a time to sit on my laurels, as the real, important, exam is coming on the 15th. Prayers encouraged.

The labs are draining a LOT of time. I am not attending the tutorials anymore so that I can work on the lab report and do some real studying.


I realized that attending the tutorial did not help me remember the problem-solving methods. I am planning to finish my lab today, and then move on to do some real studying and have questions ready for the next tutorial sessions, after doing all the exercices myself.
Today's lab was very painful. We got started when half of the group left already, because we had so many equipment problems. Our setup kept on not working, so it was checking the fuses and replacing them, and trying to isolate the faulty parts. We changed the transformer, it did not work, changed wattmeters, did not work. In the end, it was clear that our power supply was damaged.
So we changed station and redid the whole thing again... to find out that the transformer was also not working correctly, redo the wiring, etc.
I think I learnt more about quickly replacing parts than anything else in the whole ordeal.
The rest went smoothly. The procedure was simple, we had almost nothing to record.
This was a major test of patience. My time with God was too short this morning, and it showed a lot. After the lab was done, I was able to pull out, read some Proverbs (a real goldmine of wisdom) and prayed myself back to a more normal state.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Uplifting weekend

So, another big step of my moving was happening, as my parents were in town to help me move the stuff that was in a locker to our new place (and, I should add, the extra stuff to their place). This occupied some of Friday and Saturday.

Afterwards was a wonderful wedding, its reception, and a huge lot of fellowshipping on sunday...

Friday:
I finished work at 3 to get back to my place. My parents were there, the landlady showed them around. We got to the locker and took 3/4 of the stuff out and moved it in the apartment. My parents got to meet my roomates, and the language barrier was not too much of a problem. (quick note: one of my roomates is anglophone, and it really shows when he speaks French, and my dad speaks almost no English...)
Saturday:
We emptied the locker, got the bikes back, we were rolling :)
Got to a brother's wedding, chatted a lot, and was invited to the reception in the end! I was not invited at first (tight budgets do that), and this was a nice reversal of situation. I had to cancel the time with my parents that we were supped to be having... I'll make it up to them next time.
Once I got there, one of the bridesmaid asks me who's my date (I had none, obviously) and kind of proposed herself... I got propelled to the table of honour... and that reminded me of a parable Jesus brought up about humility. With the dance starting, I felt my old life's pattern kicking in. I had to pull out for prayer for a while, and felt ready to go back in there in a brotherly way.
I had lots of fun. I still don't know why I don't dance and stuff more often... I guess its and old habit of mine.
I am a boring, performance-driven, hermit after all ;)
Sunday:
We gathered for the service on Mount Royal, as we did for most of the month. The people of the missionary team in Québec City were there and lead us for new (translated) songs. Our Bible Talk Leaders meeting afterwards talked about the need to have broken hearts (the exact opposite of strong, prideful, etc.) that rely on God and His Grace. Something that is not obvious to me.
I had a good meal with brothers and sisters, chat with a visiting couple from California and so on.
What was really cool is that I gave some hints for a younger brother on preparing his first ever Bible Talk. It was good :)
I got to lay down in the grass and chill out! That is really unlike me! And I enjoyed it tremendously :D
We then got to a BBQ at a brother's place, walked quite a long way. There, while things were cooking, I watched Enemy at the Gates. This is the story of a snipers' duel in Stalingrad during WW2. The russian sniper was doing such a good job that he was singlehandedly demoralizing the Nazi forces. So Hitler sends in his best sniper... and the whole movie is about this cat-and-mouse game, with betrayals, double-crossings, etc. I reccomend.
Monday:
The good news continue :D
After checking my transcript for the transfer of Credits (it did happen, yay!), I went for the graduation assessment. It went smoothly and confirmed that I was one exam away from graduation!