Archive for August, 2011

Web Security

Posted on 31. Aug, 2011 by .

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I’m no expert on internet security, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts about security as a resource to the readers here at CMO. The truth is that most people have lousy security for their online accounts and having something more secure can actually be pretty easy. I was prompted to write this recently as I decided that it was time to change up most of my passwords. I’d been using my primary pasword for several years and I know that you’re supposed to change your passwords on a regular basis, so I figured that it was time.

So, here’s what you might need to know. In 2009, a gaming site was hacked and thousands of accounts were compromised. A study was conducted and here is what was discovered:

  • 29,000 compromised accounts used the password 123456 (seriously)
  • Many other accounts used a string of consecutive numbers like 111111 or 333333
  • The fourth most popular password was the word… password (come on!)
  • Lastly, thousands of passwords consisted of first names or simple combinations of abd123

When you hear about hacked accounts, it’s usually because of this. When accounts are compromised, passwords like the above are usually broken within seconds (computer software submits thousands of potential passwords to hack in and these simple passwords are the first used). Having a stronger password is really, really easy.

So, every password needs to have upper case letters, lowercase letters, a number and a symbol. Never use a password again that doesn’t contain at least one of each of those. Remember, every letter you add makes your password 26 times more difficult to break (since there are 26 letters). Add numbers and the breaking difficulty is increased. Add a symbol and you’re golden. There are 1500 potential symbols to use, so just using one symbol just make your password 1500 times more secure.… Read the rest

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Desktop Accountability

Posted on 31. Aug, 2011 by .

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A few years ago I started a monthly post where I published what my desktop looked like. Mostly, it was about creatively changing things up to keep the juices flowing. I’ve fallen out of that habit with a desktop that changes more on a quarterly basis. To make things worse, my desktop always tends to get very cluttered.

So, I’m submitting to you my September desktop. I don’t know what it means, but if fit my mood today. You can get your own September dektop design here. You’ll notice a handful of icons/files on the right. I’m sorry Jonathan Cliff, but that’s the best I could do for right now. Ha!

Last night I was cleaning up and my wife asked me what I was doing? I said, “cleaning up my desktop.” She replied, “Are you cleaning up because of the comments your friends made today?” My reply…. “yes!”

So, it’s good to have people in your life that give you a hard time… not because they hate your guts, but because they love you enough to pick on you. I’m glad I have a lot of people who like to pick on me… a lot.

 

 … Read the rest

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Hacked again!

Posted on 30. Aug, 2011 by .

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On Saturday, my good friend Matt McKee helped me with a Q & A session with Jim Wideman during the first general session. We took questions via text messaging that came through my Google Voice account which is a part of my Goolge/Gmail account. Because my computer was being used elsewhere, I logged into my Google Voice account on Matt McKee’s computer.

He informed me yesterday via a public tweet that his computer was still logged into my gmail account. Perfect. I only have the last 7 years of personal email storred in that account. Good thing I trust Matt… otherwise he might know all my secrets.

It took me a few hours to recognize though that he did indeed leave record of his presence. First of all, he changed my theme profile to a cute pink and blue profile fitting for a 13 year old girl. Nice. Secondly, he changed my profile picture to his picture. I didn’t notice that right away either. Actually, my wife called me this morning and she seemed to have gotten distracted when I answered and the first question out of her mouth was “Why am I seeing a picture of Matt on my phone when I’m calling you?”

Good one Matt. I owe you.

Fortunately, I work hard not to click on unfamiliar attachments or facebook/twitter spam that might compromise my accounts. However, I need a better level of defense in protecting me from getting hacked by my friends (Last May they hacked my facebook at the Orange conference immediately after I told them about how to do it). With friends like these, who needs enemies?

 

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Why Illuminate was a Success

Posted on 29. Aug, 2011 by .

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On Saturday we knocked out our first Illuminate of the 2011-12 year. It was a huge hit! Not only was it super successful, I learned so many things about hosting a conference, especially in a city where you don’t live. One of the biggest things I learned is that starting a conference in distant location is a lot harder than you would think. The Austin event came together incredibly well with seemingly little effort, but the Birmingham event required a lot more work to get the word out. Like I said though, I learned a lot from this first event which I hope to put to work in future events.

However, this last saturday was almost 100% void of stress. I had an immense amount of peace and I remember walking around at times thinking, “should I be running around or fixing an emergency of some sort?” Let me share with you two reasons why the Birmingham event was so successful (there are several other reasons as well, but these may be the biggest).

Cathy Harwick and Corey Schwarz. Period.

Cathy Harwick and Corey Schwarz work for me at Gateway and are also good friends to me and my family. Having them in Birmingham was strategic since we’ll be putting on a nearly identical conference in Austin in a little more than two months. Most of the work that we were scrambling to get done right before the event last year is already done now that Birmingham is behind up. I’m just so grateful that they were willing to come. There is no way that I would have been able to pull off what I did without their help. Cathy took care of all the details around registration, customer service and speaker care. Corey took care of all the details around the production, audio/video recordings and technical aspects.… Read the rest

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Illuminate HashTag

Posted on 26. Aug, 2011 by .

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Some people have credited me for creating the #kidmin twitter hashtag. I don’t claim sole credit, but I was involved. However, I am announcing a hashtag that I am claiming responsibility for (actually, that’s not the total truth as I did as Matt McKee for his opinion). Ha!

So, the official hashtag for Illuminate is #illumin8.

Those tweeting from the event will be encouraged to use the tag and if you feel the urge to tweet anything about Illuminate, feel free to add #illumin8 along with your obligatory #kidmin tag.

Thank you and happy tweeting!

 

 … Read the rest

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Plotting for the Birmingham Illuminate

Posted on 23. Aug, 2011 by .

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Check out this recent post from my new friend Dustin Nickerson from Washington state. For several weeks, he and I talked about him being the officially back-up to the back-up in case any of my speakers got sick. I didn’t realized how seriously he was taking this semi-important (not really) assignment. Click here to see his evil plan.

Pray for good health for all the speakers, staff and attendees at Illuminate Birmingham!

What Dustin doesn’t know is that 3 of my 4 speakers got food poising last year. Of all the great places to take them to eat here in Austin… I took them to the place where the view is the best… and the food is gross. :)

Dustin… I have a feeling that in the future, I’ll have you speak at Illuminate. I’d love to see your outline for the breakout on aliens!… Read the rest

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My Pirate Face is Gone!

Posted on 22. Aug, 2011 by .

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Sorry I’ve not provided an update in two weeks. Things have been really busy for me, probably the reason I got Bell’s Palsy to begin with. However, two weekends ago I had some cousins come in for a visit. Although I didn’t completely take the extended weekend off, I did almost nothing for 4 days. I watched a lot of movies, swam and did a 3 hour float down my favorite river. By the end of the weekend, everyone started noticing that the creepy smile was going away. It took about a week for it to all but disappear. It’s not 100% yet, but no one can notice. I find that I still have trouble blowing up a beach ball or something, but praise God that I’m well again.

Thank you all so much for praying for my Pirate’s Face. This little episode was very sobering. Although this was more of an inconvenience than anything, it’s just so frustrating when your body stops working the way it is supposed to. I know millions deal with this issue in some form or another, but those who don’t have problems probably don’t ever think about that.

I’m also grateful that my bout with Bell’s Palsy was only for 2-3 weeks. I was preparing myself to have to live with it for 6-9 months if that’s what was going to happen. It was a blessing to know that people all over the US and world were praying for my silly malady. Thank you all so much! Much love to each and every one of you!

 

 … Read the rest

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Donkey Designs: T-Shirts, Design, Banners and more…

Posted on 18. Aug, 2011 by .

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I have to introduce you to my new designer. His name is Don-E. Yeah, that’s a strange way to spell a name, but if that’s how he want’s to do it, that’s fine by me. He operates a design company called Donkey Designs and over the past several weeks, I’ve been keeping him really busy.

Here’s why you would want to use Donkey Design.

  1. He’s fast. Really fast. I’ll tell you more about that below.
  2. He’s affordable. Really affordable. I was quite amazed by the prices when I saw them at first.
  3. He’s a ministry guy. He’s worked in the church for many years, so he knows about budget constraints, timelines and what you’re trying to do. It can be hard working with a secular company that doesn’t get what you’re trying to go after.
  4. He’s really, really good. When I first opened his design guide… my jaw hit the floor. He’s a gifted artist.
So, if you’re not into reading my rambling text, feel free to click here and visit his site.
Now for the context. It was a week before I was sending 100 students to youth camp and taking 100 kids to kids camp. I was behind and I hadn’t yet ordered/designed a shirt of the students. On Tuesday night, I got an email from a guy who wanted information on serving in the student ministry. I didn’t really have time to connect with a potential volunteer until after camp, but I noticed his email address. I saw that he was a designer and visited his website. I emailed him back right away to set up a meeting the next morning. My hope was that he could possibly get started on the student shirts and have them for us by the time the students came back from camp.… Read the rest

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Illuminate Birmingham is less than 10 days away!!!

Posted on 18. Aug, 2011 by .

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Wow! One week from today, I’ll be flying out to Birmingham, AL to start getting everything ready for the first Illuminate of the 2011/2012 season. I’m really excited. I’ll admit it, there have been days where I thought I’d bit off more than I could chew, but God has been faithful and things have come together beautifully. I’ve got so many things to share, but I can’t until after this first event is over. Ha!

So, if you’re within driving distance of Birmingham, AL, please come on by and spend the day with us. It’s going to be amazing! It’s not too late to register. Click here for more info!

 … Read the rest

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Add Spotify to your Ministry tool chest

Posted on 03. Aug, 2011 by .

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About a month ago, Spotify became available here in the US and invitations for use were going out here and there. I think I’d gotten one, but by the time I sat down to try it, I couldn’t find it. I bit the bullet and paid $9.99 to sign up for the monthly subscription. After just five minutes I have this advice for you.

Sign up for Spotify.

Sam Luce wrote a great article about his impressions of Spotify right here. One thing he said is that having Spotify gives you an opportunity to preview music before you buy it. He was referring to the free version. I’d take that a step forward and say, if you subscribe to Spotify, you never have to buy music again (kinda).

I would say that over the past 7-10 years of ministry, I’ve probably spent more than $50 t0 $100 a year on music. Whether it was some new music to play for walk-in music, fun music for game times or even a song here or there for use in an illustration. If you’re spending money like that on music, why not just spend the $9.99 a month and have access to any song at any time. With the paid app, you can download the music to your iPod, iPad or iPhone and play all the music in your playlists without the need of internet streaming.

Also, if the money is an issue, consider splitting the subscription fees with the student ministry. Their need for new music is voracious and Spotify is a great solution for them as well. Also, with other Kidmin leaders using Spotify, you can check other people’s playlists to discover new music. It’s a great tool and you’ll be hooked once you sign up.… Read the rest

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