Category Archives: Geekery

Okay, so I enjoy working with computers too…

Tiny Audio Player

Downloads

My tiny little wavplayer just plays an audio file and then quits. That’s it.

Since my voicemail gets emailed to me automatically, I wanted a quick way to just listen to it and have it be done without needing to open some bloated media player for one tiny WAV file.

If you want to use it, here it is…

tiny little wav audio player

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Professional Sunday Morning Video Presentations

Church Planting Front Page Geekery Lafayette Lafayette Community Church Leadership

In our new church effort in Lafayette, I set as a goal from very early on that we would attempt to do everything we could with excellence, and though we have had some hiccups with our children’s programming and with our music, we have been consistently high quality with our printed materials and with our video presentations thanks to some really great software.

On the printed front, we have been using Apple’s Pages for basic word processing and simple page design and Serif PagePlus 11 which is exponentially greater than anything else in its price range ($50 for features that easily surpass Microsoft Publisher and even rival PageMaker or Quark). However, that’s for another blog entry. On to what we do for video now and what our next steps are.

Video Presentation Hardware

  • 15″ MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / 1GB RAM
  • Draper Traveller portable projection screen with High Contrast Gray screen material.
  • DLP Projector (I don’t remember the specs right now).

Software

Description

ProPresenter is the best program we have found to display lyrics on the screen. It’s very easy to learn with only a few quirks that take getting used to. Together with the Mac, it is unbeatable in terms of visual quality of the text even with full motion high resolution video images in the background. On top of that, the programmers are very responsive to requests for improvements, and the software was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of touring worship bands like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder.

Keynote is the hands down winner in presentation software that understands the line between attention-getting and cheesy. Transitions, fades, and slide builds are unmatched in PowerPoint because Keynote does what it does with subtlety. It’s also much easier to work with once you learn a couple of its quirks.

Our current setup has us running ProPresenter and Keynote simultaneously on the MacBook Pro. ProPresenter takes over the projector screen and turns it black while waiting for us to begin. Navigation is done on the laptop screen, but lyrics and backgrounds are sent to the secondary display.

Just before my message, we hit F1 in ProPresenter to black out the projection screen, switch to Keynote without closing ProPresenter (the projection screen stays black during and after the switch), and hit “Play” on my sermon Keynote file. Keynote takes over the projection screen with my slides and also displays a “Presenter View” on the laptop screen. We turn the laptop to face me, so I can see my current slide and my next slide without ever needing to look over my shoulder.

Next Steps

Now that we are meeting in the Long Center (a larger venue), we want to make some changes to our setup so we stay on the excellent side of things.

  1. Replace our screen with a larger rear projection screen. We’re looking at the Draper Cinefold and Draper Ultimate series of screens for this.
  2. Consider upgrading our projector depending on its performance with the new screen. Most likely, we will just need to buy a new bulb.
  3. Purchase a new Mac to put in the sound booth. It needs to have dual external monitor capability, and the only Macs to have that now are Mac Pro computers or Psystar Open Computer Macintosh clones.
  4. Split the monitor signal from each monitor out to drive four displays (1). The monitor in the sound booth, (2). the projector on stage, (3) One monitor in front row pointing to stage duplicating what’s on the projector screen. (4) One monitor in front row pointing to the stage duplicating what’s on the screen in the sound booth. That way, the stage-facing monitors will show what’s on the screen and also show the “Presenter View” that Keynote can display.
  5. Use VGA cables or a VGA over CAT5e system to get video signal to the stage from the booth.

Final thoughts

If anyone is reading this post thinking that technology will save your bad presentations, think again. Websites like http://presentationzen.com are a great resource to help you rethink the how and the why of your presentations. Technology can make your presentations more effective, but it isn’t guaranteed to do so.

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Church Website Redesign

Front Page Geekery Lafayette Community Church

So I’m embarking on a redesign of our church website…

Our current website has been in shambles for a while now http://thesouthsidechurch.org and I haven’t taken the time to really fix it. However, there are a few things I want the site to accomplish:

  1. Have an attractive, fast-loading initial page that communicates friendliness and “contemporary-ness”
  2. Have an easy-access media player to watch video and listen to audio files.
  3. Have an easy-to-use podcast system for downloading media files.
  4. Provide a section for standard Church Marketing Documents.
  5. Provide for blog-style news updates.

The current plan is to implement the site with the WordPress engine. The plan is a work in progress now, but here’s the technical stuff:

  1. Create a WordPress compatible theme and overall design of the site.
  2. Use WordPress pages to host specific content.
  3. Use the blog post system for both media files and for news items. (“sermon” category with subcategories, “news” category, “articles” category, and use the built in tagging system for posts in those categories)
  4. Use the “Podcasting” plugin to provide separate audio and video podcast feeds.
  5. Modify the Email-Notification plugin to send out newsletters to our mailing list.

I plan to do this on a test site first to see how it will all work, and if you are interested in giving me ideas or suggestions, I’d love to take them. Here are a few other church websites that you can look at to give me some help.

If you have any other church website suggestions, post them in the comments!

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Creating and Monetizing Communities

Front Page Geekery Leadership Stuff I Find

The title of this post comes from a video posted on Guy Kawasaki’s blog about a Chicago company called Threadless that has users create designs for T-Shirts and then sells the finished product. I thought it was an interesting way to talk about there business, and I haven’t finished watching the video yet, so I’m posting the link here for my own future reference. You might like it too.

If you have the time to watch it, post a comment about what you think about “creating and monetizing” a community.

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sharemytestimony.org

Church Planting Evangelism Front Page Geekery

A new website has recently been created by Justin Carboneau called sharemytestimony.org with the primary purpose of giving people a place to share their personal testimonies online. It’s an interesting concept, and his web design isn’t half bad, but I’m personally unsure of the value such a site might have. From the website:

This site was started to encourage people to share their testimony about how they came to have faith in Christ. It is also meant to inspire people to grow in their relationship with God, by seeing how God has worked in the lives of people across the world. My hope is that every Christian who visits this site will share their testimony, because everyone who accepts Christ as their savior has an incredible story to share with the world.

What do you think?

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How to be a wise blogging pastor?

Church Planting Front Page Geekery Leadership Tough Questions VIP

Colossians 4:5 says this:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

As a pastor who’s got a blog, I’ve been thinking about how this verse relates to blogging. I’ve been blogging for over a year, and I don’t yet have a “manifesto” like this guy on what my blogging policy should be. However, I’ve been prompted this week by some friends to consider it, so I’m thinking through the issues.

As I see it, there are three ways for a pastor (or anyone for that matter) to do a blog.

  1. Use the blog as a personal journal where you “get naked” (according to a book on blogging by Robert Scoble the guy I linked to above.) in front of your virtual audience and basically share anything and everything. Of course, there is some room for discretion, but in general, it’s your personal journal viewable by the world.
  2. Use the blog as a “content management system” which basically means you maintain your own online magazine with articles essays and whatnot and use a blog mechanism to manage your content and people’s comments on your content. One example of that is The Resurgence.
  3. Use the blog as a hodge-podge mix of the two—blogging about whatever seems to come to mind. (I’m not sure it fits, but I’ll link to it anyway.) See Tim Challies’ blog for an example of a blog that attempts to be personal & academic though it weighs more toward the academic side.

As I’ve been around the net a while, it seems to me that the majority of “Gen X” church planters who blog opt for version 3 with a heavy leaning on option 1.

I’ve been using this site as mostly #3 so far. As you can see from my categories on the sidebar, I’ve got sermons, Bible studies, personal journal entries, exposing my own spiritual life, computer issues, and even some posts on internet fraud. You can see it is all over the map like a Christmas tree with every kind of ornament ever invented showing up on it.

In fact, it seems that my posts on self examination and internet fraud are my most popular. Are people even reading my blog to grow spiritually?

So the question I’m asking myself now is this: What kind of web presence should I have? If you have any comments on this, I’d like to read them. Or you can give me a call on my cell at 765-404-0807 to tell me what you think personally. If you want to think this through with me, check out the links I placed above or my links in the sidebar of my .

What kind of blog helps people grow spiritually?
X
transparent academic

Where would the X fall for you?

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Palm Pilots and Web-based Calendars / Contact Database

Church Planting Geekery Leadership

Prompted by an article on pastorhacks.net

I’ve been a Palm Pilot PDA user since my mom bought me one when I graduated from seminary. (Palm Vx, and awesome tool!)

The best feature of the Palm is the ability to have my contacts and calendar on my computer at home and also on a device in my pocket. Being able to sync to the Palm Desktop has always been a valuable tool for me.

But my contacts are not my own anymore—neither is my calendar. As a church planter, I’m facing a need to have my personal contacts synchronized with our church contacts and having my personal calendar sync with my church calendar. But there is just nothing out there to do both of those and sync with my Palm. I need a centralized database that is…

  • Contacts & Calendars
  • Updatable by members of our congregation
  • Shareable with permission-based access control.
  • Web-accessible
  • pilot-sync-able

I’ve been looking for this for a long time and have had no luck. Actually, the only viable option I can find is to have an Exchange server paired with Outlook. Of course, that’s a hefty Microsoft tax that I don’t want to pay, and I don’t think it can be updated by users.

Here are some options I’m considering.

  • ical exchange — allows for publishing public and private calendars from any ical capable calendar for others to subscribe to or view them online through a browser.

Any ideas?

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Popple Rocks

Downloads Front Page Lafayette Podcasts

It’s late at night and my wife is asleep on the couch, but I just have to post this before I go to bed. Tonight at the Skylight Coffeehouse in Lafayette, I went to the open mic night as I usually do on Thursdays. Tonight, however, I was actually hosting, and I performed a little bit myself, but we were graced at the end with an act that was just so cool.

The band is called POPPLE, and you have to visit their websites:

You need to watch some of those videos and then come back here to leave a comment.

(Oh, and they are actually doing their music as a Christian Ministry.)

I hope they don’t mind my posting of this rip. (The live version was better.)

Contra by Popple

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