I heart my new web apps (part 1)

I’ve recently come across two killer apps that I absolutely LOVE. I’ll share the first one with you today and the other one tomorrow. The first one is Simplify Media. It adds great new functionality to your iTunes. Unless you have multiple computers at home running iTunes or you work in an office setting where you would be with many other users who may have iTunes running, you may have noticed that you can see other people’s iTunes library. In the preferences, you can set up music sharing for yourself and tell your iTunes to look for others as well. You can also tell iTunes what folders you are willing to share. (Unfortunately, you cannot listen to someone’s music if they bought it from iTunes, thanks to DRM. However, if they put the music on their computer by ripping it off a CD, happened to buy non-DRM music or if they have actually activated your computer to listen to their music… by entering their user name and password… then you can enjoy their music) The downside has been the iTunes only lets you share music over a local network. We use VPN all the time at Cross Timbers. I can be home and VPN connect to the office and to everyone else in the office, I appear to be in the office as well. All our campus sites are...

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Bacn – Keeping you in the know!

I religiously listen to the daily Podcast Buzz Out Loud (from CNET). It’s a fun and informative Podcast on anything technical. I’ve been listening for over a year now and it’s usually my source for new information for things on the web, market and and everything else. So, I just heard in my Podcast yesterday of a brand new term (keep in mind that I’m currently a week behind in my Podcasts, so this information is not “breaking news”) coming to the technology world and may soon infiltrate the life of everyone who has an email address. The word? Bacn. Bacn is the word being used to describe the email that fills our inboxes that isn’t spam, but also isn’t email from people. Your daily email from your favorite website, your electronic bills, your notifications from myspace or facebook, your alerts and everything that broadly fits into this category. This is Bacn. It’s better than spam. The spelling is a nod to web 2.0 influence and the name is in reference to spam. Ultimately, it may soon be a term you use on a regular basis. So, remember where you heard it first… bacn. Now I’m a little hungry. A story on bacn Ground Zero for...

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Web Tools (Part 3):

Just a quick followup on the posts I did last week titled “Web Tools (Part One and Part Two). I got some feedback to readers and I thought I would post links to a few websites of our contemporaries who are really hitting it out of the park in this respect. Some are just a really great design and layout, some have fresh (ever-changing content) and some have great tools to respond to the Children’s Ministry. Here’s a list in no particular order: Take Two Ministries Fl!p Kids Granger Fellowship Feel free to add others, these were just a few that I come across on a regular basis. I’m not even putting my church on there… we aren’t there yet (but will be soon). Adding a blog to our front page and adding an entry portal (ctkids.tv) which will make it easy for people to get to “anything kids” on any campus very...

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Web Tools (Part 2): Managing Event/Registration Information

I wrote yesterday about utilizing your website for communication purposes. It’s an incredibly effective method to communicate to visitors as well as regulars/members. If you make it simple and neat (ideal for all, especially visitors) and up to date with fresh information, you’ll have a great tool. If not, people may visit your page once, but rarely again. Today I want to focus on the idea of using your website as a tool for communication where your audience can communicate back to you… and I’m not just talking about providing a link to your email. I know some churches are using FellowshipOne software which I used to use (don’t ask). They have the weblink component which is absolutely marvelous! Whether you just want to poll people, sign up for an event, or have people pay online… you can do it through weblink. For those of us who don’t have FellowshipOne, there is still hope! As much as possible, I try to include online forms and registrations where people can respond immediately. Why have someone download an application for camp, VBS or whatever and then leave it to them to fill it out and mail it in when they could just do it right then. On the flip side, why would you want to take hand-written registrations and forms and then do the “data entry” thing for your records when...

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The Future is Now!!! Check out Surface!

This is the first I’ve heard of this! I know, many of you out there are mac heads… but you have to admit that this is pretty stinkin’ amazing. Honestly, I assumed that Apple would have come up with something like this first. Check out the last video (far right) where people are paying their bill via credit card on the table…...

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Web Tools (Part 1): Opening effective paths of communication

I know, totally boring title! However, this is a topic I’m very passionate about. I feel that if you’re not using the internet to communicate with your church… then you are behind the eight-ball (unless you live in a community that is not tech savvy at all… but those are becoming more and more rare). Nearly every church has a website. Regardless if it is pretty or not, is your content up to date, or did you write it 4 years ago when the site launched. Up until about 6 months ago, the church I worked at over 3 years ago still has a page that I wrote when I first got there in 2000. The page described activities that kids could do on Wednesday nights… activities that I had ended shortly before I left. The funny thing is that the website went through 2 re-designs, but the bad content survived. First of all I want to offer to suggestions to those who have a church/children’s minsitry website or are planning to launch one: Simple and neat is the way to go. Your website needs to make logical sense and be easy to navigate. Can a visitor find everything necessary within just a few minutes. There is nothing wrong with supplying your ministry philosophy, core values and policy manual… but just attach them on a page as pdf files...

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Do you know where your kids are?

One thing I am very passionate about is keeping track of kids who attend my church. Over 6 years ago I listened to tape of Jim Wideman talking about the importance of tracking kids. He equated tracking attendance to shepherding your flock. I immediately felt guilty. My church tracked numbers more so than it did individuals, so I ended up buying a cheap attendance program that would allow me to keep track of my kids. Because my church was not bought in to the idea of the tracking I wanted to do, it ended up being a lot more work for me and I din’t really achieve what I wanted. Several years back, I relocated to a church in Texas and was part of the process of implementing Fellowship One as our ChMS. I was thrilled as this was exactly what would help me do what I wanted to do. Within a month or so, I had some reports tweaked that cranked out the data I needed. Every Monday morning I had reports on what kids had been missing for 3, 6 and 9 weeks, kids who were first time, second time and third time visitors as well as kids who were having birthdays that week. With a few tricked-out excel macros, I could push a few buttons and within minutes I had labels that volunteers could stick on pre-printed/age...

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A High Tech To-Do List

37 Signals is a Web 2.0 company that has several really cool products on the market. As a Web 2.0 company, all their products are online applications. This one in particular is no exception. It’s called Ta-Da Lists. What does it do? Well, simply put, it’s just a to-do list. That’s it, nothing else. I know, I’ve been to the leadership and time management courses that rebel against the idea of to-do lists. Honestly, I can’t really remember what the reasoning way, something about relating to projects with vision and mission rather than tasks. I guess I can see where they’re coming from, but when I’m running to pick up some stuff at the supermarket, I’ve got a list. If I attempt to conquer my grocery store visit with mission and vision in mind, I’ll be going back later for the eggs. Here’s the skinny. You can sign up for a free account (they’re all free) and create lists. You can have a grocrey list, a honey do list, an agenda for your next staff meeting list… whatever you want. In addition, you can share your lists with others. You might share your honey-do list with your spouse, share your agenda list with your staff or your christmas list with you momma! When you share, others can then add or complete items for the lists you shared with them....

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