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16 December 2008

Simply Simple Solutions

I recently upgraded to Adobe Web Premium CS4 and I must say it was like going from match to flame thrower.

I've been using Adobe (Macromedia) products since their inception and have see them come a long way. But the changes they make between versions today are consistent and methodical in two areas:

  1. New technology: Of course they need to come out with new stuff. Push the envelope. Stretch the imagination. Use the latest technology to make it happen.
  2. Ease of use: But maybe more important for me are the upgrades to the work flow. Changes that make regular, mundane processes move fast and efficient.
You need a healthy dose of each in a new version of software. But the same goes for just about anything - including your website.
Don't roll something big out on your site unless it has something new to offer and makes the user experience more streamlined (that was free...).
What I'm Geeked About
I currently use Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash and the Flash Media Encoder. And while there are numerous enhancements to these programs, I only have time to go over a few.
  • Dreamweaver (view top new features here): Amazing new interface that allows you to view a live HTML page inside the design window rather than opening a browser every time. Included content is now connected visually so you can easily get to code pages (CSS, js, SSI's etc.) from the HTML page itself.
  • Fireworks (view top new features here): Adobe AIR authoring, improved CSS export and robust PDF export for comps.
  • Flash (view top new features here): New object-based animation, inverse kinematics with the bones tool, 3D transformation (sweet), and the Media Encoder now has H.264 support with more options and control over the video encoding process.
I'm thinking I'm in love...

15 December 2008

We've Officially Gone Green

Growing up I remember my church being fairly neutral on environmental issues. It stemmed from the belief that the world would get worse and worse before Jesus returned, so why try to fix somethings inevitable demise?

That was fine with me for a while, but over time it started thinking about it and realized that was a bit non-committal. It was also an easy excuse not to do anything helpful and to inadvertently support behavior that is downright damaging to the earth.

Because of this, I was forced to draw the line in my life and develop a belief as to how "green" a Christian should be. Here's what I came up with:

A Christian should do nothing to damage the earth. If there are simple things you can do to keep damage from happening you should do those things. If there are things being done that are causing damage to the earth there is nothing wrong with lending support to the legal process so that it stops. However, all these things should be done in ways that don't suggest we're worshiping the creation over the Creator. And all should be done with an understanding that what we are doing will not keep the inevitable from happening.
A better illustration might be the way we take care of ourselves. The typical Christian would probably tell you they are "supposed to" take care of the body they were given. We exercise (at least we're supposed to), eat well (at least we're supposed to) and educate ourselves (at least we should). And we do all this knowing that we will eventually die. This is very similar to the way I view the environment now.

BUT! One thing I get more than frustrated about is when Hollywood forces it down our throats as if they have been called to police the earth.

Here are just three examples of movies that push the topic:

Fern Gully: Probably one of the most in-your-face environmental movies out there. Designed specifically for kids, it lays it out there and "scares" kids into living green.

Wall-E: Another kids movie designed to show how humans kill the planet and yet get another chance to fix what they did wrong.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: First off, don't see this movie. You'll regret spending the money. Same green agenda: Humans are idiots that are destroying the planet. All humans must die.

I'm sure there are many more examples out there. I just picked the first three that came to mind.

12 December 2008

A Boy Can Dream Can't He?

My last post was a bit harsh. But I was simply trying to help Microsoft see the error of their ways. I mean, they read my blog religiously and will immediately head back to the drawing board the minute they see that people have questions about the functionality of WiMo enabled phones...

Back to Reality
To be fair - I'm not hopping on the iPhone bandwagon just yet (even though its a great phone). There are still some amazing phones out there that don't run on fructose...

One such phone is the HTC Touch HD which is currently in release in other parts of the world - unfortunately not the parts of the world I inhabit.

The Skinny Rundown:

  • 3.8-inch wide, WVGA (480 X 800 pixel) display offering a cinema experience on the go.
  • Vibrant TouchFLO 3D user interface, responding perfectly to your finger gestures when scrolling through contacts, browsing the web and launching media.
  • Surf and download at broadband speed with HSDPA internet connectivity (probably not in this country...)
  • Google Maps enhanced by the wide screen viewing platform.
  • 5 megapixel camera for quality stills and video.
  • 3.5 mm audio jack makes the Touch HDTM compatible with the majority of audio equipment available.
Basically there would need to be a celestial anomaly in order for me to get this phone. Pluto would have to become a planet again and we'd have to discover new rings around Saturn...

First, the Touch HD is not available in this country yet. And second, Sprint would have to pick up the phone in order for me to have access to it.

But a boy can dream can't he?

08 December 2008

Tell Me Why WinMo!

I currently run Windows Mobile 6.1 on my Sprint Motorola Q9c and while it has served me well in basic functionality I have to admit I'm getting a bit frustrated with it.

Again - not because it can't do things - in fact the Q9c WinMo enabled phone can do just about everything. The problem is no one cares about that anymore. People are less interested in what something can do and more into how it does it.

Enter the iPhone. Even with some limitations in functionality compared to WinMo phones (fully integrated exchange functionality and laptop tether capability for example) it is still one of the most popular phones out there. Why?

Because it's flippin' cool - that's why! And people want things that are cool. I assume this is why thousands of people develop applications for the iPhone and a much smaller number develop for WinMo phones. That, and it is much easier to develop for the iPhone...

If only there were people at Microsoft willing to admit that form AND function are important. What could WinMo become if that were true?

Take HTC for example. Probably the most innovative UI built on the WinMo platform and it still pales in comparison to the iPhone. Not because HTC lacks the ability, but because they are forced to develop on an inferior platform.

My contract with Sprint is up for renewal in February. At this point I love what we have going with Sprint (in terms of service) but when I look at the available phones out there I grimace at the thought of having to pick one and live with it for another two years...

02 December 2008

Do You Know Your Whopper Virgins?

I was watching my current favorite show last night (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) when I saw the new advertising campaign called "Whopper Virgins." Apparently Burger King is taking Whoppers and Big Macs to small rural areas in Thailand, Romania and Greenland. Once there they will conduct taste tests with people who have never had these sandwiches before. In fact, they don't even have a word for "burger" in their languages.

So it got me thinking...

First, why would you introduce fast food to cultures that haven't already been infected with such unhealthy food choices (just joking...please don't sue me...I'm not wealthy like Oprah.)

Secondly (and more seriously), it made me think about my job, the communications department and how our message is being received by the unchurched - or better said:

How are we being perceived by ministry virgins?
When the unchurched visit our church, our website or receive print pieces in the mail, are we actively working to ensure the message being received is:
  • Accessible? Are we presenting content that is easy to find, precise and as straight forward as possible?
  • Understandable? People may not understand words like "justified" and "sanctified." Are we using verbiage that people can understand and connect with?
  • Relevant? Are we talking to people where they find themselves? In other words, are we too busy talking about what heaven will be like and not offering hope in a failing economy? Are we busy debating the hottest theological topics or helping people on the brink of divorce?
The first step in having kingdom impact just might be knowing your whopper virgins...