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28 February 2009

New Series: Sex For Sale

I know it's dangerous - putting the word "sex" in the title of my post. I wonder how many people won't get it because their filters blocked it - assuming it's objectionable content.

At any rate. That's the problem with sex. On the one hand it's something God made - so it's good. But on the other hand - it's one of the things the world has corrupted big time - making it bad.

What a dilemma.

That's why our church tries to do a series on sex every few years. We talk about it because, like money, it's one of those things that impacts everyone. And it's something everyone is talking about.

Sex for Sale is going to be a great series at Granger Community Church, full of incredible arts and relevant teaching on the topic of sex.

Hope to see you there.

Like I Was Saying...

I just posted about the workshops happening at Granger Community Church through and what happens?

I get an email letting me know the new Specific & Practical magazine is finished! Also called the S&P for those in the know :)

This sweet little mag gives you the down low on all things WiredChurches. Everything from articles, to event dates and descriptions for workshops, forums, conferences, etc.

Get an electronic copy here!

And I better see you at a workshop - or at least at Innovate09. Look me up - I'd love to meet you.

26 February 2009

I Want to Be Unique Too

This makes all the sense in the world - just didn't see it coming is all.

Apparently employees at LEGO are handing out small LEGO people as business cards. Now I'm sure it's difficult to get them into the little slots and thin plastic covers made for traditional business cards but I wouldn't turn one down.

What a clever idea. Made me thing about all the things specialty companies could use as business cards.

How about you? Do you work somewhere that might have a more unique calling card?

I have to come up with something. I want to be unique too...

It's That Time of the Year Again

Every year I pinch myself to make sure I'm not sleeping. I get to work with an incredible team of people who do everything possible to take what they know and give it away.

Enter the workshops. This year they are coming to you four times with fresh new content.

Also, instead of being a one day event, we set aside two days so you can get two workshops under you belt in one trip.

If I were you I'd get in under the radar and check them out.

I'll be in the Less Clutter. Less Noise. and Untangling the Web sessions backing up my boss Kem Meyer. I can't wait - it's going to be fun year.

21 February 2009

Make Every Change Count

In technology, if you aren't improving your product or creating something new, you are destined to fail (or at least be passed up).

Because of this, companies are always working on version 2.0 - looking to one-up the competition with something new and innovative. They search out cutting edge technologies rather than using what exists.

So any time a company puts something out that seems to lack originality or fails to harness new technology, people notice.

Enter Windows Mobile 6.5...

Now to be honest, I've never touched this OS and haven't even seen it operate. But I trust my good friends over at Engadget. They've seen it all and have a pretty good handle on what works and what doesn't in the tech world.

So when they posted, Ten Reasons Why Windows Mobile 6.5 Misses the Mark, I took notice.

You can read the ten things if you want, but it was the tenth one that made me sad. Not because it's Microsoft. I'd feel this way if this was said of anyone for any reason:

10: It doesn't innovate in any way. More than anything else, however, the main reason I'm disappointed with the new Windows Mobile doesn't have to do with features, lack of features, or UI design. It has to do with what 6.5 shows of Microsoft. Instead of stepping up to the plate and trying to do anything daring, new, or even remotely innovative, the company has shrunk from taking chances and delivered a new phone OS that's not simply more of the same, but more of the same dressed up to look like something new.

In Summary
Don't ever let it be said that you are stagnant, boring or more of the same. Always be working on the next big thing. Always be thinking outside the box. Always innovate.

16 February 2009

It Has Been Mobi-licious!

The fun started today. For those of you that love gadgets (more specifically mobile gadgets) today is the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2009. If anyone wants to be a somebody in the mobile world they'll be there sharing their new stuff.

With the Palm Pre being outed at CES 2009 this year, I wasn't expecting it to be big news at MWC. But there is plenty of other cool stuff to go around. I'm currently watching the Engadget feed like a hawk as post after post comes in about the latest stuff being unveiled.

Of course I can't say that anything has interested me as much as the Palm Pre, and I am getting more and more frustrated that it isn't going to be available for a while. But while I'm waiting it's fun to see what other companies are doing with their product lines.

There are new products (hardware) and many updates to existing products.

There are new products (software) being unveiled as well.

Here are just a few of the cool cool things I've seen so far:

  1. Nokia N97 which looks like a pretty cool phone but is also connected to the new Ovi Store for Apps and other downloads.
  2. HTC Touch Phones: HTC is leading the charge for the WinMo phone market. The Touch Pro2 (with video) and the new Touch Diamond2 (with video). Both look like winners.
  3. Samsung OmniaHD: Amazing possibilities with 720p video (exhaustive inspection).
  4. Windows Mobile 6.5: Finally an upgrade that will at least keep WinMo phones viable in today's market - though that's not saying much (walk through here). They are now thinking outside the box - but is it too little too late? I have 6.1 right now and won't even be able to upgrade...
  5. Palm Pre to support Flash? Just thought I'd throw that in for free :)
That's it for now but I'm sure there will be a lot more to come...

10 February 2009

Networking Nightmares

I have to admit I'm not very good at the hardcore IT stuff. I can muddle through but would much rather just have things work through pretty little UI's and setup wizards.

I spend far too much time troubleshooting network issues at home. To summarize:

I have a desktop running Windows XP professional. I have a work laptop (Dell Latitude D830) running Windows Vista 64bit. And my wife just got a Dell Studio15 running Windows Vista 64bit. My laptop is part of the "GCC" workgroup while the desktop and Tammy's laptop are on the "WORKGROUP" workgroup. We have a HP Laserjet that doesn't like 64bit OSs. I have a Western Digital World Book II (network connected external storage device) that shows on my Network Places sometimes but not all the time. I can't connect to my home printer. I get different results between being on my wireless network and being directly plugged into my network.
Is anyone confused yet? I'll admit it. I am...

There's part of me that thinks, "If I keep trying I'll figure it all out." But there's also part of me that wants to pay an IT dude to come over for 15 minutes and make it all play nice...

Having all these "IT" issues made me ask the following question:

Is Your Website That Confusing?
Seriously! Do the people landing on our websites feel like they are being guided seamlessly through the content? Or do they feel like a peripheral with a 32bit driver trying to play on a 64bit OS? Are they getting lost the minute they arrive or is there a sweet UI and "setup wizards" to make their lives easier?

If not, lets at least start here:
  1. Design: Make it simple. "Less is more" Less Clutter. Less Noise. People can't look at 50 things on a page without going cross-eyed. Flash banner ads, text links, graphic links, form items, polls, animated gif images, etc. Stop while you are ahead...
  2. Navigation: Have you heard the acrostic: Keep it simple stupid? If not, learn it well. Navigation can be one of the most overwhelming things about a website. If you have thousands of pages - you better figure out a good way to clump them. Make fewer options on the home page and the main navigation and let other pages fall under "landing pages" or "category pages."
  3. Content: Your visitors don't need the whole story - just give them the facts they need and they'll get the rest some other way. At the church - this means we just give people the who, what, why, when and where. If they are interested in the full story there is a contact form or a number to call.
  4. Rich Media: One of the greatest things happening on the web right now. But if you're not careful you can throw video clips all over the place with no thought to cohesiveness and consistency. Develop or purchase a media player for crying out loud. Keep all video in one place with the ability to sort and filter what you are looking for.
These were the first four things that came to mind. Maybe sometime (when I have time to get it out on paper) I'll post a more inclusive list like, The top 50 things to think about when developing a website people will return to.

Of course I am as much in need of this information as any of you. I still have to remind myself not to break rules like these when adding new stuff to the website.

Start untangling your "network nightmare" today and keep up the good work!

07 February 2009

The Conversation Prism

Click to see full image
I began seeing concepts like this a while back. I think one had to do with Web 2.0 and one tried to project what Web 3.0 would look like. But the Conversation Prism (built off work done by Robert Scoble and Darren Barefoot) seems to be a bit more helpful.

Obviously, in today's fast moving tech culture, it is very difficult to create something that is all-inclusive. And even harder to create something that will make sense for longer than six months...

But for the here and now - this does make sense. It is a snapshot of the way the Internet is being used right here-right now. It seeks to display graphically, what O'Reilly takes 5 pages to define. And while the Conversation Prism isn't meant to be an expose on Web 2.0, it can't escape the fact that the majority of the apps listed are Web 2.0 in that they foster communication, interactivity and the ability for the user to communicate and add value to the Internet.

Take some time to look through the categories and the listed online apps. If you are like me you'll find a bunch you've never heard of before, check them out and possibly add them to your toolbox.

05 February 2009

Less Clutter. Less Noise.

For many of you out there, Less Clutter. Less Noise. is nothing more than a cool new book on how to communicate successfully in today's climate. But for us (at Granger Community Church) it isn't just a book - it is our standard operating procedure.

Less Clutter. Less Noise. is the strategy we employ regarding the majority of things we do in our department - from print pieces to web sites.

So how did it start? Well, a few years ago Kem Meyer was asked to join the team at Granger to build a website. She came in, did a quick assessment and instead of building a website, set up the communication strategy that would help guide the church into a future of bigger and better things.

As Web Director at the church I am deeply in her debt. It's like getting a job as a contractor. You drive to the work site and find the foundation already poured and the materials sitting there waiting for you. Sure there is a lot to do to finish off the house, but you are light years ahead of guy still drawing up his blue prints.

I can't tell you how great it is to work inside the framework that is Less Clutter. Less Noise. There is a freedom to do the next big thing without the baggage and entanglements a traditional church website would face.

Thanks Kem for all you do for us. May your book make it to everyone that so desperately needs to hear its message.