Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend Wedding Spectacular

I spent this weekend at Andrew Chau & Kelly Suen's wedding extravaganza. Their theme was "Better Together...," and as the celebration unfolded I saw how they not only celebrated togetherness in their new oneness. They also paid such attention to bringing friends from all different parts of their lives together into the same circle as a reflection of their own welcoming hearts.

(a shot of the bridal party from the best man's camera phone)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Whose mind is stayed on you"

I came across this verse that had been such an encouragement to me in high school and college but which I had laid by the wayside in grad school. There's no better time than now to re-remember.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

During nightly prayers I notice that my mind can wander as I try to interpret the day's events or prepare for the next day. Sometimes I anguish over what's past or worry over what's to come when ironically I am praying and should be casting my cares on God. I've found it easy to pray, but not always so easy to pray to God, to truly stay my mind on him and trust in him. But when that happens, when my mind focuses less on myself and my perceived troubles, prayer becomes less of a repetitive, fruitless counsel with my own soul and more of a conversation with a warm and wise Father.

And here's another quotation, this one from my brother:
A pastor once said that God likes to do things by process instead of instantaneously. For example, He could have made the heavens and earth in a split second, but He chose to take days or eons (depending on interpretation) to do it.

I hadn't thought of why God took so long to make this world. I guess he has, as the saying goes, all the time in the world. When he tells me to "stay" my mind on him, I suppose that doesn't mean to think about him for one prayer, or one day of fasting, or even one trial. He wants my mind to "stay" on him, for now and for days and for eons, knowing that he will be faithful and trustworthy for just as long and longer.

Sharing an external hard drive: bypassing automount

With my impending oral exams, my collaborator at lab and I need to pass back and forth multiple image files and data sets. In the past this made for numerous burnt DVDs and shuffling of USB stick drives, but we wanted a way to go green and tap into the hardwired network here.

I had Windows XP Home on my computer, which made for generally seamless computing but frustrating networking issues. After wiping out my drive and installing Fedora 7 Linux, I actually look forward to returning to my desk each morning. Linux certainly provides a more trustworthy set of networking capabilities for my needs at lab. But one thing I've learned: while Linux is more customizable and reliable, it certainly isn't easier, at least for the uninitiate.

A recent issue I ran into was how to share an external hard drive with my collaborator. The system automatically detected and mounted the drive without a hitch so that I could use it without restriction. My collaborator could log into his account remotely and read files at will, allowing me to pass 15MB papers and gigs of past imaging data. The only problem was that he couldn't write to the drive (which was his, to be exact).

The solution ended up being fairly straightforward with the aid of google, and I document it here (in case you don't have google...hahah j/k):

gnome-mount is a tool that automatically mounts drives and discs. It reads from the gconf configuration to apply a limited and restricted set of options that in my guess usually suffice for everyday usage--whoever plugs in the device can use it, but no one else can.

I needed either to add extra options to gnome-mount or to bypass it so that my collaborator could also write to the drive. I learned about an easy way to configure these options by using another tool called gconf-editor, similar to the Windows registry editor. I tried adding the uid and gid (user and group, respectively), but, alas, to no avail--the gid bit just didn't take. Multiple uid's are apparently fruitless as well.

The gnome-mount tool is fairly well-documented in its man page, which said that gnome-mount will check /etc/fstab before mounting to give it priority. In the old days drives were mounted by hand according to specifications found in /etc/fstab. My next option was to bypass gnome-mount by adding the drive to the fstab. I found a site explaining the various options for mounting such a drive and added it to fstab. I placed the relevant user accounts into the same group, added the group to the drive's gid, mounted the drive...and it worked! My collaborator and I could both read and write files from different accounts, while still preserving security.

One caveat is that gnome doesn't appear to treat the drive exactly as an equal. For example, while editing a text file, gedit tells me that it can't make a backup file. I can still save it though, and I'm glad to focus less on computing and more on collaborating here in lab.