Archive for 'Technology'

A new check-in comes to town

Posted on 09. Apr, 2014 by .

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Last night someone sent me a link to the video posted below. I had no idea this was coming, but I’m very excited about it. Planning Center Online, the creators of the absolute best service planning software has just launched check-in software. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this but I think that this could be a game changer.

I found Planning Center Online shortly after it came out. I personally didn’t have a need for it as I wasn’t planning services in a way that the software would help me. However, I was intrigued by how it scheduled volunteers. I exchanged emails with one of the developers making suggestions on how this software could be modified to help manage volunteers in a Children’s Ministry context. At that point, it assumed that the same set of volunteers would serve for multiple services on a weekend. Since then they have modified their software to allow you to schedule volunteers for multiple services with an “evite” type feel.

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App of the Week: If This Then That

Posted on 23. Feb, 2014 by .

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You might have heard of IFTTT, it’s not really that new. Someone told me about this crazy new app/website nearly two years ago and I started using it a little over a year ago for simple things and I’m simply just amazed by what it can do. It’s only limited by your imagination and creativity. I recently came across a few new formulas that have saved me time, so I thought I’d share these with you.

If This Then That was first a website, but also comes as a very functional app. It’s slogan is “putting the internet to work for you. Essentially, the website/app contains dozens of channels like gmail, dropbox, facebook, twitter, Instagram and many other apps/services you know and don’t know. With these channels, you create formulas. Trust me, it’s way easier than it sounds. Actually, you can browse hundreds of other people’s formulas and simply copy or modify them to fit your own needs. Here are a couple of the formulas I’ve been using for a while.

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Password Hack: Recover Passwords on your Mac

Posted on 21. Feb, 2014 by .

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Tell me if you’ve ever had this happen. You’re at a family member’s house and their internet is locked down with a wifi password. You have access on your computer but someone else needs it and the person who knows the password isn’t there. It’s not like this happens all the time, but it’s happened often enough for me to be frustrated. Just a few weeks ago I was at a church for a conference. I had access on my computer from the previous year. I was trying to take care of email on my phone, but cell service in the part of the building I was in was non-existent. I needed access to the wifi on my phone, but no one was around who knew it. Good thing I’d learned how to recover a previously entered password on my computer. Here’s how:

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Using audio to enhance environments

Posted on 03. Oct, 2013 by .

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Earlier this week I wrote about using TV’s in lobby spaces to communicate and to create a better environment… because environments matter. I got a couple of good ideas to run with, I’m still seeking some more solutions though.

However, I need to move on to the next topic. Audio in your environment. We do have a CD player in our main lobby that we use to play music of speakers in the ceiling which is great. However, it’s old tech. When the CD ends, the music stops and someone has to remember to start it over or change disks. How long have mp3 players been out? Trust me, I know it wouldn’t be hard or cost much to swap out the CD player with an mp3 player, but I’m thinking bigger than that. Here’s what I mean.

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Video displays in lobby space

Posted on 01. Oct, 2013 by .

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Environments matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise… probably has a crappy environment. Ha! I couldn’t resist.

I’m actually doing what I can to improve our current environments. Last year we were hoping to do a 1-1.5 million dollar remodel, but things didn’t play out the way we wanted to. I had a little extra money I didn’t use on some staff positions, so I’m doing some work on our environments because they are in need of attention. Our building is 8 years old and it’s starting to look a little tired. I’ll write more about some of the things we’ve done later, but I had to throw a question out to the audience. I’m in need of some help from those who have some experience in this area.

I had a good friend come visit last may and I asked him for an honest evaluation. Standing in the middle of my ministry lobby he spread his arms around indicating his surroundings and said, “You live in a high tech digital city, yet you’re doing ministry in an analog building.” Wow, so true. So many at our church work at Dell, Apple, Google and about every other tech start-up you can imagine. It seems that if that is a part of our audience, a somewhat digital environment would appeal to this part of our community.

So, I’m 5-6 months out from this project, but I’m trying to do the research now.

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Emerging tech: Chromecast

Posted on 26. Aug, 2013 by .

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It’s been a crazy busy month, I totally missed the Chromecast announcement. Earlier this month, Google announced a new product called Chromecast. It’s less than revolutionary, but there are several compelling reasons to keep your eye… or even purchase this little device.

Let’s be clear though, the Chromcast is no Apple TV. In it’s current state, it will not replace your Apple TV. However, you might want one of these things for other reasons. Let’s take a look at what it does.

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Barcode App Recomendations

Posted on 23. Aug, 2013 by .

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Okay, in the next week or so, I’m going to write a little bit about moving to self check-in. For the past 4 years, I have been wanting to upgrade to self check-in at Gateway, but we’ve not had the resources to do it all at once. So, I’ve been working on it all summer and we’re launching self check-in a week.

We went the barcode route and started distributing them last week. Here’s my big question though.

Do any of you recommend a good barcode app for your smartphone? We spent a little extra money to get the nice barcode readers, like the ones they have at Starbucks and airports. It was important to me that we had another option for people who forgot to bring their barcode.

The only app I know is the keyring app. It’s a great app with lots of options, but a little more complicated than I’d like. I want to make it super simple for parents to create a digital copy of their assigned barcode. Keyring makes you walk through 2-3 steps I’d prefer to avoid for simplicity. So, does anyone know of a simple app that stores your barcodes for future scanning?

Your help would be much appreciated!

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App of the week: Pocket

Posted on 15. Jul, 2013 by .

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My friend Jonathan Cliff introduced me to this little app and I must say, it’s beyond fantastic.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a tab addict. At any given time, I could have as many as 20-30 tabs open in my browser. Currently I have 13 open, but that’s only because I restarted my computer yesterday and lost the tabs that were open. Oops. Good thing I have a browser plugin that saves my tabs (I’m telling you, I have a serious problem).

On a daily basis, I’ll have a dozen tabs that I’m actively working out of, tabs with multiple email accounts, google drive account and document, my calendar, facebook, twitter an many more. However, things used to get far more complicated when I’d come across a page or article that I wanted to read but just didn’t have the time at the moment. In the past, I’d simply leave the tab open with plans to come back and read it when I had time. Yes, sometimes that tab would remain open for weeks.

I know, some people suggested bookmarks… but I’m just not the bookmark kind of guy. They take more time to organize or clean up than they’re worth messing with. Plus, many of these tabs are just pages I want to glance at, nothing more.

Well, then came pocket. 

Pocket solved my little problem and provided several additional solutions.

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App of the Week: Mailbox

Posted on 12. May, 2013 by .

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About a month ago, I started seeing tweets and facebook updates about people waiting in virtual lines for the new Mailbox App for iPhone. I was intrigued, so I jumped in line. It took almost 2 weeks before I got access. Within minutes I was saying, “Wow, this is a pretty cool app.” However, or the past several weeks, I’ve simply been “playing” with Mailbox. I use it as my primary email client, but I didn’t really use it the way it is intended to be used.

You see, the creators of Mailbox realized that mobile email is kind of broken. People read their emails and often mark them as unread or flag/star so they can do stuff with it later instead of really working their inbox from the phone. Mailbox was designed to push your toward inbox zero. Inbox zero is pretty much the goal of getting rid of every email in your inbox on a daily basis. It’s the idea of working a system so that every email is either answered quickly, deleted, archived (searchable for later), delegated to someone else, pushed back for later or put on a list to be done. If you can apply this system quickly to every email that comes in, there isn’t any reason why you can’t get to inbox zero every day. Then when you have some extra time (on your determined time), you can work on the emails on your to do list.

I saw I’ve been playing with Mailbox because I have four emails connected to Mailbox and for the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve had a little over 3000 unprocessed, read or starred emails in the combined inbox. Then today, something happened.

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Tagging in Instagram

Posted on 03. May, 2013 by .

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I love instagram… and it just got better. Now you can tag people and places for better organizing photos that you took and photos that people took of you. Check out the video below or read more in this WIRED article.

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