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30 May 2008

Innovate08 Site Live

Last night our team breathed a sigh of relief as the final pages were saved, all apps connected and the last button pushed to publish the Innovate08 site and make it live.

For the first time we developed a mini-site from the ground up. Not just pages in a folder on, but a fully functional site with it's own domain name, hosting, navigational structure and registration component.

The entire process began in brainstorming sessions with the arts department. At that time we picked stop motion photography as the theme that would be used throughout the conference - from print to web to media/transitions during the conference.

From there it was creating a dark web backdrop and UI that incorporated some of these images. Dump in all the necessary content and you have a website. I was lucky enough to work with a great team that put together the following elements:

This project was hammered out in less than a month and only happened because each person took their specific area of expertise and made it happen.

Great job guys! I love this stuff.

Task List
Go register for Innovate08 right now - I'll see you in September.

24 May 2008

IPDE and Web Strategy

I was living in Illinois when I was 16 so that's where I learned to drive and where I took my Driver's Ed class.

Of course the majority of the "rules" I learned I've since forgotten. But one thing that stuck was the IPDE method of driving. And while this may have been specific to Illinois, I'm sure every state has at least a similar version.

So the other day I was thinking about it (for some odd reason) and quickly saw the application to web strategy:

  • Identify: See the big picture. Think outside the box. Know your audience. Dream "down the road" rather than just reacting to the needs of today. Make educated guesses as to what people will be using, wanting or needing a few months down the road.
  • Predict: Determine what the potential outcomes of your decisions will be. What will the financial burden look like? How might these decisions enhance the mission, vision and values of the church?
  • Decide: Develop your plan/strategy. Call it a "timeline," "roadmap" or whatever works for you. Have short term and long term goals with objectives and action steps under each. Determine who is responsible for each action step and set target dates.
  • Execute: Make it happen. Secure the necessary influence, financial backing and or sign off from the leadership. Put you plan into action.
  • Assess: (I know this isn't part of the IPDE Method but I'll throw it in for free...). I'm not sure why it wasn't included. I mean every time you do something you SHOULD learn from it - regardless if it was a mistake or a success. Mistakes should suggest changing something about your method. Success should let you know that there is something about your method that really works. Regardless, look at your execution and assess the results. Then start the process over with this new piece of information.

19 May 2008

Mexican Money Management

Tammy and I ate at Cozymel's Mexican Grill while we were in Dallas. And while the food wasn't really worth blogging about, there was something that totally got me geeked about the restaurant.

Each table had a small touch screen propped up on a stand. During the meal it offered the specials and even movie times at the nearby mall. But it was what happened after the meal that really amazed me.

When you were finished, the server finalized the bill and made it available on the touch screen. You pushed the "pay" button and then slid your credit card through a slot on the side in order to pay for the meal. You're even asked how you would like the receipt. I chose to have ours emailed to us. And within 10 seconds it was showing up in the Inbox of my MotoQ9.

I love this stuff! Just think of the possibilities for personal banking in the church world. You could have these on the seat backs in the auditorium. You could have self serve kiosks in the atrium. Or let's get even more personal and make this software available on mobile phones. Imagine if you had a mobile app that allowed you to give your tithes and offerings when needed. Or if you could navigate to a mobile version of the church website and click a link that allowed online giving from a mobile phone.

Sound crazy? I'm betting it's not far off my friend :)

17 May 2008

DC08 | Day 2-3

Day two had the bulk of the content and day three was the wrap up final session. Here are some specifics:

Opening Session (Curtis Simmons): Curtis did a great job walking us through both newly released functionality and what is right around the corner. It was good to hear about the architecture restructure that will allow for increased access to data through the coming API and CMS features. Ftech is wanting to be 'all things technical' for churches and yes, that includes managing and hosting their websites. With CMS a church will be able to develop templates and pull content right out of FellowshipOne and present it on the page. We're definitely heading in the right direction.

F1 Roadmap (Curtis Harris): Much of the same stuff presented in the opening session just with more detail and timelines. - Here, Now and the Future (Terry Storch): I love sitting in on session with this guy. Terry's heart beats for 'kingdom technology' and he shared a few of the projects currently underway at Internet Campus, OnePrayer and SecondLife are three of the biggies. Looking forward to hearing more from the Team when the OnePrayer series hits.

CMS in FellowshipOne (Tim Hardy): Tim was great at walking us through the future CMS feature in F1. He not only described the idea and the way it would work, but also demonstrated by walking us through the process of editing pages and navigation. Sounds interesting for smaller churches. We currently use a CMS designed for us from the ground up. However, I look forward to the possibility of pulling in content with the RESTful API and presenting it on our pages. All sorts of applications come to mind...

Customizing Weblink with CSS (Tara Coulson): Simple and to the point, so why haven't I got in there and messed with it? It's called laziness. I just need to put it on the list and make it happen. FellowshipOne still uses an archaic css stylesheet to style their popup windows. So it will take a little work to find the right selectors, make the changes and then make sure that it hasn't completely destroyed the look of another popup using the same selector. Shouldn't be too bad though.

Evenings Activities (Friday): P.F. Chang's and a quick stop at IKEA.

Closing Address on Saturday (Randy Draper):
Excellent choice. Randy has heart, humor and passion for church work. He encouraged us to NOT be the negative, angry tech person sitting behind the scenes. But to find the passion we need to laugh, love people, serve and find purpose in everything we do. Sobering and encouraging.

Saturday's Activities: Spend the next couple days with my beautiful wife (who decided to come on the trip with me). No solid plans, but I'm sure we'll find something to do in the big State of Texas.

16 May 2008

DC08 | Day 1

Day one has come and gone in Dallas. Yesterday we did the following:

Presenters Meeting: Quick and to the point. Thanks for coming. This is where the computer will be. This is the clicker for your powerpoint. Now go and do a great job.

Opening Address (Jeff Hook, CEO): Jeff opened the conference with another summary on Fellowship Technologies history, place in the market and commitment to the vision of the church. He gave a short overview of what's coming in the life of FellowshipOne and offered a new (modified) version of the graph depicting the operating needs/processes of the church.

Data Integrity (Marie Armitage): Marie offered many best practices on how to maintain data integrity and elicited similar tips from attendees. Good to hear that we're on the right track.

Super Team (Granger Team): We presented on the development of our Super Team and how it has helped us with the use of F1 in our environment. The team outperforms the individual every time...

Weblink Integration (Curtis Simmons): I returned to this presentation in part because we have semi-integrated weblink on Last year it was considered a waste of time to attempt such a thing. This year it was discussed as being the preferred method because of the control it allows over the user experience. Exactly why we put the time and energy into doing it in the first place :)

Evenings Activities: Cheesecake Factory and IronMan.

11 May 2008

Getting Dynamic This Week

Dynamic Church 08This week a group of us will be making the trip to Texas for the annual Dynamic Church Conference.

Six of us went last year and quickly found that your FellowshipOne (church management solution) knowledge can go from 0 to 100 in two days.

This year we've been asked to present on what we call the 'Super Team' - a select group of people that help to keep FellowshipOne running smoothly at our church. If you want to hear more about the team concept, meet us on Thursday and we'll try to fill in all the blanks.

It should be a good time. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the recently added features and what is on the roadmap for future enhancements.

See everyone there.

03 May 2008


For those of you dedicated to all things tech at your churches or places of employment, I have the perfect event for you. is offering the Technical Arts Forum again this May 30th.

Led by my good friend Adam Callender, the forum is a round-table event with discussion topics guided by attendees. Discuss how to effectively use audio, video, lighting and auditorium technology in services or presentations. Conversations also touch on needs, components, systems and how to find and train volunteers.

If you get geeked by tech you really need to check this out.

We're Finally X-Platform

Until recently the communications department at granger has been 100% PC (Dell desktops and laptops for the most part). But we recently purchased a MacBook Pro. It isn't for one individual (though it sits on Jeanna's desk). Instead it serves the entire department as a media workhorse.

We had budget set aside for expensive software programs (required on a PC in order to edit and encode our video). But when we looked into it further, we realized iMovie could do it all as a stock program on the MacBook Pro. This, along with the ability to do fun Mac stuff (PhotoBooth) and open files from our printer in Mac-only formats made the decision a no-brainer.

With iMovie we can quickly pull in a clip we cropped out of the service with QuickTime Pro, add fades to beginning and end, add text titles if needed and then export for our media player. We can also upload to our YouTube Channel with one click (after setting it up right the first time).

Now I have to admit, I lean toward the PC just because of its range, the solid Outlook/exchange server functionality and the fact that much of it just makes more sense. But I love the fact that for pictures, video and other design needs the MacBook Pro fills the gap incredibly.

Because of this you should probably call me a 'cross-platform guy.' I don't get that passionate about either one because they both have their problems and they both do some things well.

However, if you are an evangelist for a specific side be prepared for an argument. I just don't get that mentality and can defend both as well as the next guy...

At some point I'll fill you in on how easy it is to use iMovie to import, edit and play AVCHD files off my Sony HDR-SR11 camcorder...