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Sign and Image Generators

Chris —  August 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

I saw this post over on Mashable, 13 Fantastic and Fun Image Generators, and quickly thought of many youth ministry applications.  The post lists a number of different online sign and image generators.  You put in your message, photo, and depending on the site you get a sign back.  Here were some of my favorites (with some youth ministry appropriate samples I created):

Warning Labels and Signs


Advising people to the dangers of the situation has never been so easy. Simply pick a label style, a warning icon, and enter your desired text into a simple web form and voila, you’ve got a standup warning label.

For a vertical sign-style warning image, check out the companion site Warning Sign Generator.

De-Motivational Posters

Annoyed by those superficial and unflaggingly insipid motivational posters we’re subjected to in dentists’ and corporate offices everywhere? Why not take a stance against mass-produced pseudo-solutions to important problems?

With the Demotivators tool you can easily generate a realistic illustration of the trials and tribulations of Real Life. Just choose an image from your desktop to create a motivational parody from, customize your image settings, add a title and de-motivational text and you too can contribute to the better psychological health of us all.

Movie Posters

movie-posterAnother project from Big Huge Labs, the movie poster tool is a web form that helps you design a film-style poster from your own images. Choose an alignment for the photo, a poster style, text and accent colors, title fonts and colors, and enter your own custom text for the film title, taglines, credits and MPAA rating.

They also have them for X-box achievements, magazine covers, street signs, 13 different ones in all.  Just think of the fun for signs around the youth room, promotional fliers and posters, visuals in your message slides or just for fun.  It seems like this is one set of sites that every youth worker should remember.

Check-out the entire list HERE.

Hebrews Meets Star Wars

Chris —  August 25, 2009 — Leave a comment

I saw this and thought it was great.  Someone took the beginning of the book of Hebrews and made it into an opening scroll from a Star Wars movie.  So great.  Could be a great intro next time you speak from Hebrews.

Snow Leopard Ships Aug 28

Chris —  August 24, 2009 — Leave a comment


Apple announce this morning that Snow Leopard will begin shipping Aug 28th.  If you don’t want to wait in line at your local apple store, you can order it here: Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard at $29 this upgrade is a no-brainer for me. It’s just sad to know that my old G4 powerbook is officially outdated and can’t use the new OS.  All my windows friends will need to wait a little longer for Windows 7 later this fall (Oct 22) to upgrade.

Ever have a long document and wish you could simply turn your macbook on its side and use it like a kindle to read the book/document? All you need is to download the Display Rotation Menu from Mage Software.  It adds a menu bar item that allows you to rotate your Mac Laptop and use it as if it were an ebook reader only without the several hundred dollars to Amazon or Sony.  It doesn’t work on all mac laptops because of graphics card limitations, but they have the short list of which somewhat current models are omitted.

I don’t know what my problem is, but I have WAY too many e-mail addresses to deal with. Many of them I have forwarded to/checked by gmail, but that still doesnt solve the problem fully because, for one reason or another, I still have multiple gmail accounts. I have used plugins for firefox over the years, but am irritated at having to constantly have a browser open sucking up resources I’d rather have being used somewhere else.

Finally, an easy app has been released to help monitoring multiple gmail accounts easy.  The app is called Notify, and is produced by a company called Vibealicious.  They describe it best when they say it’s “like a menu bar app, but better.”  Like a menubar app, it lives in the menu bar and changes slightly by adding color and a number when new messages arrive, but once you click, TADA!  It pops open a tabbed window showing your accounts with new messages and previews.

It is not without its issues like the fact that it opens some odd google error page when you double click on a message, and it doesn’t automatically log you into the appropriate account when opening up gmail, but it is 1.0.  The developers have already slated a .1 release for mid September to include support for google apps and possibly imap which shows a thriving development.  It boils down to this: Notify is an amazing tool that seems to be a pretty good answer to my (and your?) multi-account email dilemma.

Great Deal on Nooma Videos

Chris —  August 18, 2009 — Leave a comment

I don’t know if you ever used any of the Nooma videos in your ministry, but here’s a great deal on them.  You can pick any 6 for $60 or all 24 for $216.  Individual videos are $11.  It included the 2 brand new ones:
023 Corner
and 024 Whirlwind.

I have found them to be engaging and great for launching discussion into deep and difficult issues.  I highly recommend them.

College: Nooma Pick 6

LINK: Nooma Pick 6

I recently bought a new computer on which I did not install the normal pro apps I use.  That meant that I did not have quicktime pro, and I quickly realized what an incredible deal it is!  For a whole lot of common tasks, you do not need to buy or open up a huge, expensive program.  If you need to trim a bit of the beginning, rearrange the order of events in a clip, or quickly change a file’s size or format to upload to the web, all you need is the $29 upgrade to quicktime pro (on the mac).

My favorite feature has nothing to do with editing video files.  One of the handiest little preferences that shows up is the ability to play a movie on your secondary monitor or projector.  Instead of having to do some wonky dragging of the window to the other screen (which doesn’t work in many players), or use a presentation program like keynote or pro presenter, you can simply plug in your laptop, switch the display preference over to the secondary monitor, and voila!  Like I said, the $29 is totally worth it.  Click here for a link to it in the apple store.

UPDATE: Thanks to Luke for the comment about Quicktime X.  Apparently, with the release of Snow Leopard, many of the pro features will be included.  Which means it’s time to preorder Snow Leopard for $29 instead!

TomTom GPS for iPhone

Chris —  August 16, 2009 — Leave a comment

I love my TomTom GPS unit.  I’ve had it for 3 or 4 years now and it’s been great, the software is easy to use and the directions easy to follow.  For someone who seems to have trouble navigating from point A to point B this has been a lifesaver.  One problem.  We only have one TomTom and my wife and I often want to use it when we are off to different places.  That’s why I was so excited to hear that TomTom was working on an iPhone App during the WWDC keynote this year, and tonight it hit the streets.


The TomTom App is now available in the app store.  One thing you must know is, it’s a little more spendy than most Apps, at $99 it’s the most expensive app that I’ve ever contemplated, but when you think of the cost of an entire GPS unit, $99 is a steal.  Considering that AT & T is trying to sell you a service at $10 a month, a 1 time $99 charge doesn’t sound that bad.  It also looks like it’s the software is just as easy to use as my TomTom 1, plus I can pull addresses from my contact list and have TomTom direct me there.

If you’ve never had a GPS and own an iPhone this is one app that you will use everyday.  Even when I’m going places I know how to get there it gives me estimated arrival times which makes answering the question “Are we there yet?” so much easier.  This is the perfect companion for a youth ministry road trip to find restaurants, gas stations, rest stops and other points of interest along the way.  Never get lost in that church shuttle again.

tom2TomTom U.S. & Canada

So I finally did it, I got a Kindle.  A used one mind you, but that doesn’t bother me.  I’ve only had it a few hours now, so I’m sure that I will still learn lots of little things about it.  But the first big hurdle I came to was getting documents I already have on to it.  Sure it’s super easy to download new books, or even try out sample chapters.  I’ve even collected a few free ones that I’ve found in the links to over the last few months that I’ve been reading on the iPhone app, but what about other documents I have that I would like to take with me.

I’ve been a ebook fan for a long time going back to the small library I have from my Microsoft Reader days on my old iPaq. Now I would love to be able to read some of these again on the Kindle.  I know I could email them to my Kindle, but don’t really want to pay amazon for the conversion, and I was happy to find there’s a really easy way.

There’s a free piece of software called Stanza (both Windows and Mac versions available), and it will open almost any text document you have (including the old .lit files from my iPaq) and convert them to a number of different ebook formats, including Kindle.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Plug in your Kindle to your computer via USB and let the computer mount it as a drive
  2. Open stanza and select the file you wish to convert for your Kindle
  3. From the file menu select export as and choose Kindle as the output.  Choose the document folder on the kindle as the save location
  4. Disconnect the Kindle and now the document shows up as a library item.

You may be thinking this is a great way to get ebooks and other documents on your iPhone into the Kindle App as well, but you can’t access the kindle library the same way on the iPhone.  Never fear, Stanza has a free iPhone App as well that you can share books between your computer and phone or ipod.  It’s a great way to transfer documents to your phone for reference, or maybe even your teaching notes for Youth Group. This app is so great, it really deserves it’s own post, but I’ve got some reading to do.

Earlier I posted about what was at the time my favorite site creation tool for ministry.  And that remained my favorite until I tried Squarespace.  It is quite simply the next generation in web design and management tools.  The highlight of the platform for me is the interface.  Instead of having to navigate away from a page to edit, post, or change the color of the menubar items, every action brings up a simply HUD (heads up display) that hovers over, just translucent enough to be pretty, and allows you to edit instantly.

By instantly I mean just that.  If you are editing the background color, they change immediately without having to click update and return to the page.  Want a column wider?  Move a slider and BAM!  Done!  This site is so amazing it makes the little Emeril inside me come out.

I have been waiting for a while to develop a site where a group youth pastors from my denomination could post resources available for download for free, and within a couple hours of my free trial was born.  Depending on the level of service you purchase (ranging from $8 to $50 per month) you can go from a basic site with one editor to a full ecommerce mogul.  There’s incredible server scaling in case you get dugg, social network intergration, and the list goes on an on.

There is far too much to detail it all here, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their incredible support.  There have been many 1am support tickets filed by yours truly that have been answered before 1:30, and that is above and beyond.  Like I said, amazing.  Check it out:  If you want to see what a non-programmer can accomplish in a couple of hours with the tool, and with content from a bunch of talented youth pastors, check out and tell me how it could be better!