Archives For Gadgets

Apple Event Sept 2016

Chris —  September 7, 2016 — 1 Comment

I know many youth workers out there love their Apple toys, and I’m one of them. Apple held their iPhone event today in San Fransico and they put out a great video summarizing what they announced.

I found a few items that may be of note for youth workers who might be thinking of picking up the new phone or watch.

  1. Water Resistance: this was mentioned for both devices. Now you don’t have to worry as much when you walk by the pool and someone tries to push you in.
  2. No More Headphone Jack: this could be a big deal to you if you plug your phone into the sound system in the youth room to play music through it. Luckily they included an adaptor in the box. A second adapter is only $9, so you may want to order a second one to keep in your sound booth. You may also want to consider getting a Bluetooth dongle to setup in your booth.
  3. Better Camera: The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is so true. Nothing tells the story of your ministry better than pictures and videos of your students. Now the iPhone 7 will give you one of the best phone cameras there has even been. Especially if you go for the plus and it’s dual lens setup for increased zoom and depth of field shots.
  4. Cheaper Apple Watch: since most of us have to be budget conscious, you can now get a supped up version of the original Apple Watch for $269.  I know the watch isn’t for everyone but I love getting notifications and the fitness tracking. Plus, you’ll be able to play Pokemon Go from it later this year.

What stood out to you?

A few weeks back I was visiting my friends at Download Youth Ministry and Doug asked if I would film an episode of 5-Minute Youth Ministry with him about my favorite apps.  I decided to go with the tried and true because I’m constantly surprised how many people still haven’t heard of them.  Enjoy the show:

Links to what we talk about:

What are your favorite apps right now?

The adjustable mics, four-track recording and extended battery life of the TASCAM DR-40 give you the flexibility you need to record tracks anywhere.

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I have heard about these little guys for a while now, and I must admit, the novelty of the device is enticing. Here are a few ideas I had for usage, and a few concerns I have about the quality of the device:


  • Staff Meetings
  • Small Groups
  • Mission Trips
  • Netflix in bed with the wife


  • LED quality (I’ve seen pretty sad small LED setups)
  • Sound (how effective/moving would videos be if the screen is large, but sound is small?)
  • One more gadget to carry/keep charged

What are some further applications, concerns you would have about this piece of tech? Is it worth $99?

I’ve blogged before about a great prize wheel for your computer (Spin That Wheel), but I just found one that just as good (and cheaper) to use on the iPad.  It’s called iPrizeWheel and it’s great fun.  It’s a customizable prize wheel that you can setup and run right from your iPad.  And using the mirroring function in iOS you can send it right to your TV for a larger screen experience.  The basic version gives you the choice of 16 or 24 spots on the wheel that you can put type in your own prizes.  It only costs $4.99 and you can upgrade in app to a premium version that gives you even more options. Learn more and see screen shots on iTunes.

Here’s video that shows how it works:

Here’s the contest part, the folks over at iPrizeWheel have given me 3 copies to give away to the YouthMinistryGeeks out there.  If you’d like to win a copy, in the comments tell us an idea to use the app in your ministry. On Wed April 11th, 2012 we’ll pick 3 to win copies of the basic version of iPrizeWheel plus we’ll post all the ideas for using it in your ministry.

Get iPrizeWheel on iTunes now:

iPrizeWheel HD - NRT Media, Inc.

Google maps has finally caught on. User want faster loading maps with more basic yet vibrant colors! Google newest app currently available online (coming soon to the widest used video can console) it brilliant even down to street view. Watch the promo video, and preorder your today.

Trial Version HERE. 

Google Maps is now available for 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES). Availability in Google Store is TBD but you can try it on your browser by going to and clicking “Quest” in the upper right hand corner of the map.

Apple is suppose to announce the newest version of their iPad this Wednesday in a special event.  The biggest question I is are you planning on getting one?

Canon 60D Review

Jon —  February 22, 2012 — 1 Comment

Back in January, Chris Davis and I were at YS! Palooza together, and we were talking about shooting video. Chris was lugging around a giant HD camcorder and tripod that he used to shoot this video. We began having a chat about the video function on most new DSLR cameras. Now, my wife is a professional photographer who shoots with a very expensive Nikon D700 (Here is a shameless plug for her business). But, there are plenty of entry level and semi-pro DSLRs available that shoot tremendous video! After that chat with Chris Davis I was sold. Our student ministry has a handful of Flip cameras, but we have been ready to push through that barrier for a while. This past week I broke down and bought the Canon 60D with the 18-135mm kit lens. I have a friend who manages a big box retail store who sold me the camera (regularly $1300) for $1000 flat. Here is my initial observation of the camera. I will follow this up later with a more detailed review and video samples.

Things I love:

1. Articulated Screen– Up until the past year or so most DSLRs had stationary screens for reviewing pictures. Now with the advent of HD video capable cameras the need for articulating screens is very real.

2. LP-E6 Battery– The 60D uses the same large battery that Canon employs in their professional cameras like the 7D and 5D. This battery lasts close to twice as long as the battery in the cheaper T3i. And since batteries cost around $100 apiece, I felt this was a huge plus for the 60D.

3. 1080p at 30, 25, and 24fps– Unlike the Nikon D7000, the 60D supports 1080p at the 3 most popular frame rates. (Not to mention that the D7000 does not have an articulated screen)

4. Body Size– The Canon 60D has a larger, and larger aluminum frame than the cheaper T3i (steel), and this is one case where I believe that heavier is better. The weight and size allow you to grip the camera with confidence, whereas the T3i feels more like a toy. To boot, the 60D is weatherized better.

5. Manual Controls- If you want to produce the highest quality video, you have to control your exposure manually. The exposure controls on the 60D are easy to operate and accessible without going through menus. The white balance can be controlled easily enough without going through tiers of menus.

All in all I feel that the 60D is the way to go for getting into DSLR video. The price point is right for the features you get. If you want some more info on DSLR video here are a few sites I recommend highly:

DSLR Video Shooter– Caleb Pike runs one of the cleanest and most helpful DSLR Video sites around. Great info in his newsletter.

Philip Bloom– Philip is one of the top DSLR videographers around. He actually shot parts of the latest George Lucas film Red Tails. Philip’s site has an interactive community and he regularly reviews DSLR gear.



I saw this post over on, and thought it was a great reminder of little things we can do to help connect better with our families.  The thing that struck me was that they were almost technology based. These tools that are suppose to make our lives easier also break down the relationships that should be the most important.

Try these 5 actions for a week and see if the temperature in your home doesn’t change a little. Plus, even if your relational temperature is “fine,” these ideas may make it even better.

1. Leave the phone in the car:when you come home from work it’s too simple to get lost in texting, checking, and reading from the phone. You won’t be distracted when the phone left in the car. More time to focus on real people.

2. Shut the laptop: It’s too easy to come home and “get lost” in the computer that’s always on and calling your attention (blogs, email, Quicken, etc…). Turn it off and see if you can turn on some dialogue and/or focus on others.

3. Show up on time: If you tell your spouse that you’ll be home by 6pm… get home. Not 6:30…not even 6:05. If you make a commitment to a loved one, honor it. It’s amazing what simple actions will communicate about love and respect.

4. Turn it off ½ the time: I’m not asking you to become Amish and ditch all TV, I’m suggesting you cut your viewing time in half. Instead of the easy default of turning on the TV, cut it in half and spend that extra time engaged with others.

5. Leave a short note: Emphasis on “short”… I’m not suggesting 2 pages, typed out, double-spaced. What if you left your spouse and/or child a short note every day for a week? Short words of affection and encouragement can be powerful. And, if it’s not a regular practice, these notes will become treasures.

What are some of the other little things could we tweak that would make a big impact on our families and marriages?

Read Doug’s entire post HERE.

10 Favorites from 2011

Chris —  January 1, 2012 — 2 Comments

Here are some of my favorites from 2011:

1. MacBook Air – I love this little computer.  Great for travel, and super fast.

2. Sticky Faith – These books have really made me think a lot about youth ministry and being a parent.  I highly recommend them. Plus check out for more insights in their articles and blog.

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – I found this book to be a difficult read.  He could be so harsh with people.  It really made me think about leadership, success, and family from someone who did great things, but failed at so much too.

4. iPad 2  – This continues to be a device that changes the way I interact with content.  I love it.

5. Kindle Fire – You probably didn’t expect to see this after I listed the iPad, but it’s a different device for me.  It’s a great reader that also does some tablet functions.  Plus, I love that there’s someone pushing the iPad to be better.

6. YSnetwork – This one is personal, but we launched it this fall at YS (where I work).  It’s a great way to connect with other youth workers, join a network or build your own.  It’s free to join, and if you sign up join the Youth Ministry Geek network to stay connected.

7. Flipboard – This is probably the app I use the most, and with the addition of the iPhone version a month ago, I just use it even more.  It’s by far my favorite news reader.

Flipboard - Flipboard Inc.

8. GoPro – I got one of these cameras to take on our vacation to Hawaii this year, and it’s so much fun.  We use it under water, on water slides, in the pool, the beach, on the trampoline.  It’s a great camera to take when you don’t want to risk you full size, expensive one.  Sure it has it’s limitations, but you get an amazing picture that can go anywhere.  It’s my Flip Camera replacement.

9.Timbuk2 Control Laptop Case – After about 7 years, my old shoulder bag finally wore out. This was my replacement.  Things I love about it: separate sleeves for laptop and ipad, TSA compliant so I don’t have to take my laptop out, not too big, but big enough.

10. Tech News Today –  I love podcasts and increasingly over the last year, this has been my #1 to go to.  It’s about 45 minutes every week day covering the lastest in the world of technology.  Entertaining and informative, perfect for this geek.

What were you’re favorites from the last year?