Saturday, July 13th in Somerset, NJ.  @dbebawy, @mjsamaan and I will be there, will you?

We will have our first event that invites all Copts from around the world to exchange technological developments and ideas for the services of the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is opened for any person to present his/her apps, invention, IT ideas, etc. so that all may benefit from exchanging technology. Please find the details, and if your church has one of those genius persons, please let us know and we will do our best to have that person present own apps or technology. 
 
Fr. Abraham Azmy
Office of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II
Director of Database Operations and US International Media Relations

PDF with additional details

 

The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the life of King Hezekiah today (who we named our second son after).  

Below is the reading from the church Synaxarium.

On this day, the righteous King Hezekiah son of Ahaz the King, departed. He was of the seed of David, of the tribe of Judah. There was no king appointed over the children of Israel, like this righteous man, after David. The other kings worshipped the idols and built altars for them. After becoming King, Hezekiah destroyed the idols, and demolished their altars, therefore God rewarded him for more than what he had done. In the fourteenth year of his kingdom, Sennacherib, King of Persia, came and besieged Jerusalem. He was a great and very powerful king, and all the other kings in his time were afraid of him. Hezekiah also feared him, and sent him large sums of money, but Sennacherib was not satisfied with them. Instead, he threatened and intimidated Hezekiah, and he reviled, with his unclean tongue, God, the Glorious and Most High, saying, 'Do not be deceived by your God that you are depending on him saying, 'Do not deliver Jerusalem to the hands of King of Persia.'' Then Hezekiah wept, rent his garments, and he put on hair sackcloth, and went into the House of the Lord and prayed saying, 'O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands; wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone' (2 Kings 19:15-19). Then King Hezekiah sent a letter to Isaiah the Prophet to inform him about what Sennacherib had said and asked him to pray for him. Isaiah answered and told him that God would strengthen his heart and God will do to Sennacherib an action, the like of which has never been heard of in all the earth. That night, the angel of the Lord went forth, and slew one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. The rest were conquered and returned to their countries. When Sennacherib went to worship in the house of his gods, his sons slew him with the sword and killed him (2 Kings 19:35-37). Thus Hezekiah escaped his hands and glorified God.

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the Prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, 'Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'' Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD. Then it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'Return and tell Hezekiah … I will add to your days fifteen years …' Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'What is the sign that the LORD will heal me … ' Then Isaiah said, 'This is the sign to you from the LORD, … the shadow of the sun will be brought ten degrees backward …' (2 Kings 20:1-11). All the kings feared him and they brought tribute to him, because they knew that God was with him. King Hezekiah reigned for twenty-nine years and all the days of his life were fifty-four years when he departed in peace. His prayer which he uttered through the Holy Spirit when he was healed of his sickness is written in the book of Isaiah (38:10-20).

May his prayers be with us. Amen.

My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me. (Psalm 131:1 NIV)

We often forget our humanity, our limits, and our inability to change others. Considering that David was one of the more powerful people in his day, it is striking how he reminds himself in this psalm not to think more highly of himself than he ought.

The following words from an anonymous rabbi have served me well over the years to keep me focused on Christ changing me:

When I was young, I set out to change the world. When I grew a little older, I perceived this was too ambitious, so I set out to change my state. This too I realized was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man I know that I should have started by changing myself. If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state – and who knows maybe even the world.

-Hasidic Rabbi on his Deathbed

StMarkDC Daily Journal

Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil, and do not be ashamed to be yourself. For there is a shame that leads to sin, and there is a shame that is glory and favor. Do not show partiality, to your own harm, or deference, to your downfall. Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom becomes known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be ashamed of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. Do not subject yourself to a fool, or show partiality to a ruler. Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you. Do not be reckless in your speech, or sluggish and remiss in your deeds. Do not be like a lion in your home, or suspicious of your servants. Do not let your hand be stretched out to receive and closed when it is time to give. Do not rely on your wealth, or say, I have enough. Do not follow your inclination and strength in pursuing the desires of your heart.

Glory be to the Holy Trinity. Amen.

We just got new Macbook Pros at work so I am selling my personal machine…

Asking $1,250.

Original Order from July 15, 2009:

Order Details
Product Name   Product Number Unit Price Qty Subtotal
MBP 15.4/ CTO Z0GG $1,923.00 1 $1,923.00
With the following configuration:

  • Processor 065-8453 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory 065-8457 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRM-2x2GB
  • Hard Drive 065-8462 320GB Serial ATA Drive@7200rpm
  • Optical Drive 065-8466 SuperDrive 8X DL
  • Display 065-8668 MBP 15" Glossy WS Display
  • DVI Adapter 065-8467 No DVI Adapter
  • VGA Adapter 065-8472 Mini DisplayPort – VGA Adapter
  • Remote 065-8475 None
  • Apple Keyboard & User's Guide 065-8481 Keyboard/Users Guide
  • Country Kit/AEX 065-8484 Country Kit

 

 

The interview is in Arabic, my friend Sam provided me with a loose translation:

Interviewer, I:
Pope, P:

P: to the Alexandria families, your pains are my pains. these innocents came out of church to meet their lord in paradise. i send condolences to all Copts in diaspora. i rec'd Muslim clerics who send their condolences to you too. also from Palestinian and Lebanese ….
i: is this attack against only Copts or all Egyptians?
p: pretty much agreed that it is against all Egypt
i: what do you think of the protesters
p: not a Christian value and believe that "other" outsiders may have been implanted in the crowd to "egg on" the crowd and in turn get the crowd control police to respond with violence (not sure if he is saying that Muslims were implanted in the crowd or foreigners, the interviewer asked him to elaborate but it was still not clear)
i: what do you  think about those who use violent protests and their state of mind (since they're acting on their emotions)
p: emotions can make you do things not well-thought of
i: what can u say to them
p: calculate the response you will get. also lets not lose our high moral ground because of these actions (i.e. violent protests)
i: I think there is a Christian belief that you find joy in all things
p: God is everywhere, and He is in control,
i: how do we ensure we don't let this sectarian divide worsen
p: there is no problem with religion and the presence of more than one in the country, its the response we have from those who abuse it (and he alluded to the governments response – but v subtle)
i: so are you saying the rioters should stay well-behaved and not go out of their rights…so we don't get a clash
p: I don't see that we are getting or are having any clashes..on the contrary, we have Muslims and Copts protesting, so its actually acting as a unifier.
i: how do we as a unified country stop this common enemy that threatens our unity and restore calm?
p: the state has a duty to address the concerns of the Copts. when there is history of unresolved concerns/issues and a problem like this happens it makes things worse and they can get out of hand, but if the concerns are being addressed, then its more tolerable. basically, the government needs to get the "Coptic folder" dealt with – interjected by the interviewer –
i: I like to call is the "Egyptian folder"
p: call it what you like but it deals with the concerns of not all Egyptians, just the Copts (smiles in a smirk-like uncomfortable manner)
i: but it affects all Egyptians
p: ok :) and smiles again in disagreement
i: do u think we need to get to a point where the laws don't differentiate between Christian or Muslim or race etc.?
p: we all believe in the importance of law and order. but what is more important is the just laws. a condition for just laws is justice across all people regardless of their belief. other countries have laws that can change with time to reflect these freedoms that are more just – even change/amend their constitution.
i: so this change in the laws are to be approached thru combined meetings with people within the country (alluding to no outside forces/influences) is that how you think we can achieve these amendments?

p: we should join forces, but there are things that go beyond the citizens and into the ruling powers of the state. the government officials are to be careful when they do these amendments to be fair and just for all citizens.
i: the first (something) article in the constitution states that the basis of the country is citizenship
p: I think the term citizenship is a beautiful word, but what does it mean?
i: you tell us what does it mean to you?
p: the meaning of citizenship is when all citizens in Egypt enjoy all the benefits of being a citizen – not just some. however, some cannot comprehend citizenship and don't realize that equal citizenship is essential. I am speaking to you frankly
i: I am speaking to you frankly as well. I am here today to speak openly about your concerns and it concerns all Egyptians not just some.
so Egypt has chosen citizenship as a canonical principle in its constitution…don't you think that the sons of this country need to sit together in peace and discuss this even if they are running high in emotions? will this equality bring peace to the country

p: people living in this country are citizens, people in congress are citizens, people in the state are also citizens…so would a meeting of the people living in this country solve anything? we really need the decision makers to take action. we need to have our concerns addressed and also the concerns that go beyond the Coptic concerns like unemployment and inflation. these people have a duty to do so.
i: do you think that the lack of attention to the Coptic concerns is more general lack of addressing all the problems of the country or specifically just the Coptic…
p: whether its general or specific, it still is a problem that needs to be solved. the lack of attention to problems do not mean that they are not there.
i: regarding the state of national unity, in light of these last incidents will make it diverge or will it bring us all together
p: national unity is between Muslims and Copts, but also there needs to be unity in the political parties as well…we cant do it on the grassroots level only. we need to address it also on various levels of our society not just a declaration that you all must unite…we need true unity
i: Don't you think this incident has proven that there is a strong basic unity between Muslims and Copts of connection of emotions..etc. shouldn't we build on this principle?
p: yes we would love to…we don't want this to be a temporary unity
i: so how do we do that?
p: it needs the help of the media in this matter. we see oftentimes very divergent news in two newspapers in the same day…
i: how do you think media in this country has addressed sectarian issues
p: I see several media outlets rush to publish but are not accurate in their coverage…case in point i see a lot of news about me personally that have never happened…media ought to convey information and also culture…the informative aspect needs to be more accurate in their coverage…
i: when you met the great imam, what happened in that meeting…do you see this as a way to get more unified
p: they sent their condolences, and suggested more meetings between the religious heads and publicize it more
i: how will you celebrate Christmas this year
p: we will celebrate Christmas this year, because this event is extremely important to us Christians. if we didn't celebrate would mean we are not religious, and can escalate problems to a more dangerous level…also not celebrating causes friction with the state..it would send a message that we are driven by emotions and not coherent thinking…this will take time to solve the concerns of Copts, and it will take time
i: what will you tell the Copts in the US when you go for treatment
p: I am going there for medical treatment..not to speak much :)
i: he asks again the same question
p: I would tel them to have a unified political stance with the mother church
i: what would you say to your flock in Alexandria
p: I say that problems get solved in calm and not in anger…and caution against being used as an excuse for further clash with state security and then have fingers pointed back at them…the state (not just the church) also has a duty to bring calm on the streets..
i: say a word to all Egyptians to conclude
p: this is a country for us all, and when it succeeds it will benefit us all, but when there are ills it hurts us all. lets live in peace and love and not create a reason for foreign intervention.

Overall, the interviewer is trying to get the Pope to talk about (a) the protests/riots and condemn them, and (b) make sure that the diaspora Copts do not make a big fuss at their respective governments; and the Pope is basically, using this opportunity of a long interview to voice the concerns of the Copts and challenge this interviewer by not giving in to his stream of thinking. The Pope is actually saying that the Coptic concerns need to be addressed and stop telling us what we can or cant say.

Feel free to comment with corrections and/or feedback.

Additional reading:

via Bishop Suriel

iStock_000010784876XSmallRecently I have had a few friends who have expressed interest in getting more into building web sites.  They aren’t sure exactly where to start or where they want to end up, so I put together a list of things to do and tutorials to follow so that they could get a better understanding of all the various pieces of the web ecosystem – hosting, development, design, user interface, content, etc.  I am big fan of learning by doing, so have at it…

What else would you recommend to someone starting off in the world of web work?

1 Corinthians 13

The Greatest Gift

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whetherthere is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Guest post by John Youssef.

Recently, Ustream has changed the way they do advertisements. We were blessed enough to be able to use them for the amount of time we did, but this new changed prompted us to look for a more reliable and professional streaming provider. When considering a new provider we had several criteria in mind:

  • Affordability
  • Flash Streaming
  • iPhone Streaming
  • Simplicity
  • Reliability
  • Quality of service

After considering several options, it was an easy decision to agree on Mediaserve as our new streaming provider. They offered several options that many other streaming providers do not offer, and they do it at an extremely affordable price. Their biggest advantage is that their streaming service is built on Wowza Media Server. This allows us to run a flash stream, and an iPhone stream simultaneously, as wowza automatically encodes into iPhone format in real time. Wowza also has the ability to encode using Microsoft Silverlight technology, but it is not something we are currently implementing at the moment.

 

At the time of registration, we were required to register a domain with Mediaserve, to use as our streaming hostname. We decided to go with the .net version of our current domain name for simplicity’s sake. The registration process was very simple and straightforward. Within a couple hours of registration they had everything setup for us, and had emailed us very detailed step by step instructions to get everything setup and running.

 

Everything is done through Adobe’s Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE). Once you download it and install, you simply need to follow the instructions emailed to you to get it properly configured. With Mediaserve’s setup, streaming is as fast as clicking start in FMLE. No more pesky browser windows to open like in Ustream’s setup.  In order to get the iPhone streaming working properly, you need to purchase a third-party plugin to encode the sound in AAC format. We purchased ours from Mainconcept for a one-time fee of $249.

 

To setup the embedded stream window on your website, you need to download Flowplayer from Mediaserve’s download page. The free version of flowplayer has a small watermark in the top right hand corner and does not have any functionality in terms of customizing how the player window looks. Since we were changing everything around, we decided to purchase a commercial license for a one-time fee of $95. This allows you to remove the watermark, add one of your own, and completely customize how the player window looks and feels.

 

The iPhone streaming is done through your Ipod’s/iPhone’s built in video player. The only thing needed is to setup a piece of embedded code using the instructions Mediaserve provides in order to get it working properly.

 

I have to say, Mediaserve’s support was amazing through the whole setup process. They respond in an extremely timely manner, even on weekends, and their responses were always very polite and helpful. They made the setup process a breeze, and answered any questions I threw their way.

 

Now I know the last thing you all want to know is the price. They offer two payment options. You can choose to pay a monthly fee of $39.95, or if you pay annually, the monthly fee is reduced to $30.95 a month. We decided to go the annual route since it was a savings of over $100 annually. This price includes 30gb of storage space, and 300gb of monthly bandwidth. This price also comes standard with 100 simultaneous connections. You do have the option to upgrade the number of connections on a per-need basis, but the only time we feel that we would need to do that would be during Holy Week when our number of viewers more than doubles. Other than that 100 is more than sufficient for our needs (for now anyway!) All in all, for the amount of features they include, and their price, and level of service, I would highly recommend checking out what they have to offer. We’ve gotten nothing but compliments since we made the switch.

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