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Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and a happy St. Stephen's Day to All

I hope everyone had a blessed and merry Christmas day yesterday.

In the secular, commercial world, Christmas is over. Now is the time for all those after Christmas sales that the retailers have. It's time to clear out our Christmas stock and get ready for Valentine's Day, even though Valentine's Day is over a month and 7 weeks away.

No, Christmas is not just a day, but a (whole) season. During Advent, we have spent over 4 weeks preparing for Jesus to come into the world. When he came into the world, he humbled himself and took on our human nature, being born of a virgin, Mary, Mater Dei (the mother of God). He did this because he loves us, "For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting". [John 3:16]  Now that he has come into the world, it is our duty to spread the Christmas message that today, a savior has been born for us.

And now on to the feast day of my patron saint, Saint Stephen. St. Stephen was a deacon who was active in the church during the first century. He was the first martyr, the first of those who suffered at the hands of pagan Rome for his belief in Christianity and in Jesus Christ. Now, granted, it takes guts to stand up for one's faith, even if it means martyrdom. As Christians, we are all called to profess our faith, even if it's unpopular. The early church martyrs understood this and were willing to stand up for the faith rather than give in to the commands of the oppressor, even though it meant death for all of them.

Now, I do realize that some of you out there think that all of this martyrdom stuff is old and done with. Well, at any time in history, there have been those, connected with the State, who persecute Christians for upholding the faith. It happened with the first Christians at the hands of pagan Rome. It happened in England when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church to establish the Anglican Church. It happened in Soviet Russia to Orthodox Christians (and Eastern Catholics) at the hands of Stalin. It happened in Nazi Germany because the Catholics and other Christians stood up to Hitler. Today, it is happening in China, where those not loyal to the state Catholic Church have been forced underground.  Here in America, we have the freedom to worship as we choose to, with no interference from the government. However, the idea of separation of Church and State has 2 ends. One ends says that the government cannot establish a religion and your choice of religion cannot disqualify you from activity in the public square. Then, we have the other end, which says that the government can't interfere with your religion and how you practice it. These days, we have too many people that, while they may not agree with Christian traditions and celebrations in public, are easily "offended" by the practice of the Christian faith in public and have gone to the courts to stop them, which have ordered that these Christians NOT carry out their traditions and religious practices in public. A good example is the ever popular Nativity scene. Various judges here in the US have said that those people cannot put up the Nativity scene because it might "offend" non-Christians. A more mature and charitable approach by those people that are "offended" is to simply ignore it, but don't rain in on someone else's parade just because you don't agree with it.

In today's gospel reading, Jesus says "Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans." [Matthew 10:17-18]  While Catholics and other Christians are not physically persecuted in America today, other methods of persecution are happening today such as failure of the government to uphold legal measures such as the Defense of Marriage Act and the conscience clause of the health care law. With the health care law, there is a religious exemption which says that a religious institution can be waived. However, this is only the case if the institution only serves a majority of people which hold the same beliefs as the institution. This is a problem for the Catholic Church (and other non-Catholic institutions like them) because the Catholic Church provides care no matter who or what you are. This law means that these institutions only serve Catholics or be penalized. With the conscience clause, a health care worker does not have to do a procedure if it violates his or her morals and religious beliefs. Failure to uphold this means that the health care worker has to take part in the procedure or risk losing their job. This cannot be tolerated.

As we go in our daily lives, let us bring the joy and the message of Christmas into everything we do. In today's gospel reading, Jesus also says that "You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved." [Matthew 10:22]  May God grant us the courage to be ready to profess and defend the faith, no matter what the circumstances are. May you all have a Merry and Blessed Christmas season this year.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them in the comment box below, or you can send me an e-mail at I welcome any and all thoughts on the subject. You can also follow me on twitter as well (username is @rctechgeek).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Reminder about the Microsoft Apportunity Contest

I would just like to remind everyone that the deadline for the Microsoft Apportunity contest is steadily approaching, so get your entries into the contest in as soon as possible. Any app published between October 15 and December 31 will get you an entry (for each app you publish).

You have about 1 week left to submit all entries. Again, I would like to make it clear that this contest is open to anyone (age 18 or older), not just students.

To submit your program to the Windows Phone Marketplace, either click the picture above or go to :

and enter the code:


I wish everyone well in this contest. If you don't have the SDK already, it's a little late (but not impossible), but you can download it at: Students can get Visual Studio, needed for development, through Dreamspark.

On a side note, I hope everyone is doing well as we draw ever closer to Christmas.

To help you stay tuned for further announcements, you can subscribe to my rss feed or follow me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Even More Contest Fun from Microsoft

Introducing, the Microsoft Big App on Campus Student Competition. If the Microsoft Apportunity contest wasn't enough incentive to develop apps for Windows Phone, Microsoft is partnering with the band The Gracious Few to create an amazing experience for ten (10) students in Austin, TX at SXSW:  a private concert, backstage passes, a private dinner with the band, and being interviewed on national radio about their apps.

Now, I personally don't know much about this band, but I am sure there are those of you out there that do. Also, the fact that Microsoft secured an opportunity for you to be interviewed on national radio about your app is a pretty big feat, allowing for more people to know about your app and (hopefully) buy it or use it a lot (if it's free).

If you aren't too keen on the band part, I might mention that there are also $15,000 cash prizes (one for the top free app and another for the top paid app) for the two apps which will be named “Big App on Campus.” That's a lot of money and can enable you to pay off those pesky student loans you have faster.

BAOC is open to any US college and university student who builds apps for Windows Phone.  Each application created from August 1st, 2011 until February 14th, 2012 can be entered and students can submit multiple entries.

I would imagine it is also possible for a "double entry", that is, (if inside the same timeframe as the Apportunity contest) you can enter the same app in both the Apportunity contest and this contest as well.

Anyway, all entries have to be in by February 14, 2012. On February 15, 20 semi-finalists will be chosen from those entries. On February 23, there will be public voting to select 10 finalists from those 20. On March 1, 2012, there will be public voting to select the Big App on Campus.

For those who are wondering what Microsoft is looking for, here's the judging criteria :
  • Innovation (40%):  How innovative is the idea?  Does it do something new or does it accomplish something in a new way?
  • Experience (40%):  Does it feel seamless and like a native experience on Windows Phone?  Does the app have a polished feel?
  • Potential (20%):  Does the app have potential in the market (lots of users, making money, both) or not?
Public voting will be done via a combination of downloads of the apps + “Likes” on Facebook.

 To enter, you must first be entered into Dreamspark and from there, get an App Hub membership (both are free of charge for students) at Create a program for Windows Phone. Programs may either be free or paid (your choice). After that, Visit and complete an Official entry form, including submission of your name, email address, App Hub ISV ID, approved APP ID, contest category (free or paid), and App name.

I hope everyone has a good time with this contest. You can subscribe to my rss feed or follow me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).