For long-term mac users, this may seem ridiculous. For those converts from the PC universe, be prepared to have your world rocked.  Spotlight is Apple’s search feature built into OSX, and if you’ve converted from a PC throw all ideas about how search on large file systems works out of the window.

Without going into mega-geeky details, the way that the Mac formats hard disks allows for incredibly quick search (instantaneous in comparison to the PC).  Just click your little magnifying glass at the top right of your screen, type what you’re looking for an voila; (in 1-2 seconds) it’s there!  Emails, applications, text files, images… everything!

And here’s the best part: it searches the contents of files as well as filenames!  There are lots of other tools that seek to improve on spotlight.  I’ve tried them, but keep coming back to spotlight because it is so solid, and it’s on every mac at which I sit down.

Star Wars Fun

admin —  May 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

I realize I missed posting on Star Wars Day this year (May the 4th be with you.) But I still thought these were fun even if I’m a day late.

The star wars saga told in Legos in less that 2 and a half minutes:

and if that’s not enough, visit JibJab to put your self in the saga!

May the 4th be with You!

There’s no denying the fact the you see and hear about environmental issues every where these days. In fact we’ve even set aside a day to remind us (just so happens today is the day).

I don’t really hear much from Christians on the subject, and even fewer teaching resources to show our students a Biblical perspective. If it’s some a topic you’ve ever thought abut tackling, here’s a great resource:
Save the Planet
Save the Planet

Green is in. Recycling, driving hybrid cars, and conserving energy gas, and water have become just a few of the ways that we’re able to care for the environment. But what does the Bible have to say about caring for the environment? This 3-week series by Josh Griffin, high school pastor at Saddleback Church, is designed to help students get a glimpse of how to care for the environment through a biblical perspective. And with everything you need to teach them included inside, it’s easy enough for you to dive in and use tonight. Lessons include: Creation Speaks about what God is Like 5 Little Ways Make a Big Difference Perfection. Sin. Hope.

Save the Planet

Peter Krough has written an excellent article on backup in which he suggests the 321 system.  It says that you should have three copies (one primary and two backups) on two different media with one off-site.  Not only is this incredibly easy to remember, it really helps me sift through the myriad of backup solutions to get what I need and not a lot more.

For my on-site backup, I have mentioned before that I like to use Chronosync to automatically backup selected files whenever I mount a specific hard disc or thumb drive though Apple’s Backup (free with Mobile Me) or Time Machine will meet most mac user’s needs.  On the PC side of things, I have heard good things about Paragon Drive Backup and NovaBackup.

For offsite backup, I use and am really satisfied with Carbonite while Chris has written a bit about his preferred offsite backup service: Mozy.  Both are great and both support Mac and Windows.  The point is that you need to have your mission critical files and irreplaceable memories (photos, videos) stored somewhere that fire or flood will not cause you to lose money or memories.

I think Peter Krough said it best in his article, “There are two types of people, those who have experienced hard drive failure and those who will.”  Do yourself a favor and get your 321 system in place today.

It was a perfect storm:  1. I realized I could save well over $200 a year on seminary text books purchasing them on the kindle store.  2. I found $100 off deal when you subscribe to Audible 3. I made the decision to wait until the next revision to buy the iPad.  It culminated in the purchase of a kindle.  The first question I had was, how do I get news and free books onto it without having to manually copy and paste, and transcode into the Amazon format blah blah blah.

That is the problem for which Calibre is the solution.  Calibre is an ebook management program that allows you to automate all the tedium of dealing with ebooks.  After doing some basic setup, all you do is import files and then click the “send to device” button and voila!  It appears on your reader.

But it does more than convert and upload ebooks; it will also manage fetching your favorite news and blogs.  It comes preconfigured with a myriad of news sources in 25 languages complete with a place for login information if that service has a paywall.  Once you select the  news source, you tell Calibre how often you want it to be retrieved, and it will download the news and automatically send it after it is obtained.

Want to keep up with your favorite blogs that are not listed already in Calibre?  No problem!  Just click on the triangle next to the “fetch news” icon and you can choose to add a custom news source (think rss) and it will then appear in your list.

The only problem I could find is that the user interface is not totally transparent.  For example, you should be able to click and hold the icons that have the dropdown options.  Add to that several other oddly located things and you see where the future improvements will need to be focused.

That being said, it is the best implementation I could find of these features.  And it’s free!

I find that most of my youth ministry friends are using their phones for organization; in fact I have not used a paper organizer for years (from my monochrome Visor Palm device in 2000 to currently my Motorola Droid). That said I do prefer a pen and paper when it comes to brainstorming ideas, I mostly use a homemade journal or a Moleskine for creative space.  Other than blank paper here are a couple of sites that I think do a good job of offering several templates for you to use in sparking ideas or if you are just looking for free day planner inserts instead of giving Franklin Covey $50 bucks.

Pocket Mod:
Disposable organizer on one sheet of paper with multiple uses. There are dozens of options to choose. (My mother-in-law said she would use this concept as a kindergarten teacher for making little booklets).  Here are similar sites that do the same thing ( and

DIY Planner:
You can Google and find several calendar tools but this site has it all. Browse through all their “templates” and find downloads for several types of time management tools.  From 3×5 card size to full sheets. Sift through all their FREE resources.

I, like many in our field, have ADD. That makes assigning, completing and following up on tasks an adventure with our team. It is common for us to be in a car on the way to Starbucks or walking down the hall when we remember an essential task we need to do, or we need someone else to do.   Until now, we have had no solution outside of everyone carrying a pad of paper around with us at all times to remedy this situation.

Fortunately, we found Remember the Milk and production is up something eight percent.  Remember the Milk is basically a todo list system that is stored online.  What caught our eye was its ability to create lists that are shared with each other.  Once shared, we can each put tasks on everyone’s list.

It does all the standard stuff like priorities, due dates, and notes, but it also has fields for an estimate on the time it should take, location for the task, and tags.

However, none of these are the reasons we went with this over another service.  The reason we chose Remember the Milk is because of the sheer volume of ways in which you can access the information.  It has an iPhone app (like everyone else), but it also has an Android app and a way to sync it with your Blackberry or Windows Mobile device.  Want it to appear in Gmail?  They have a gadget.  Want to access it offline?  They have gears integration.  It also interfaces with Jott, twitter and a ton of stuff I’ve never heard of .

Its interface is not always transparent, but is easy to navigate after a couple of minutes fooling around with it.  For us it’s a great solution. It’s free for the basic account and $25 for the pro account which adds a couple of features and the ability to download the phone apps.  Worth every penny.

Wow you could be the king of the geeks with this new “Hands-Free” calling device.  Maybe it would have saved me from that ticket I got last month for talking on my phone in the car.

Cell-Mate headset provides hands-free calling, removes dignity.

YouTube Again

admin —  March 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

The number one tech question I am asked is still, “How do you download a youtube clip?”  Well I have a new favorite and a Vimeo video grabber that has been great!  The youtube grabber is simple and sweet!  Just remove the “http://www.” and replace it with the word “kick” and you will be redirected to a new site where you can choose your format and download.  Here is the countdown clock I used at SYMC, click the link and try the “kick” and download it.

The Vimeo grabber I have been using is called Clip Nabber…Check it out


My Evernote Ideas…

admin —  March 16, 2010 — Leave a comment

If you are not familiar with Evernote, it is a clean and easy note taking software (Learn  More). It is a great way to capture and organize ideas, web pages, audio, and more.  It is a web app, desktop app (syncs beautifully), it is available for Mac and PC and most handheld devices.  But this is not a commercial for Evernote (which is FREE).  I wanted to share a few of the way I am using it that might spark ideas for you in your ministry context.

In Evernote you can create different “notebooks” to work from and store things in.  I have “notebooks” with ideas, links to youtube clips I might want to use in a lesson, series ideas.  I find this to be much better than having several documents on my computer (which are not synced with an online source) or a bunch of scattered documents in Google Docs.  It is one location to do a mind dump, and that helps me sleep at night.  (Another place to do a great mind dump is “OmniFocus” but that is a different post for another time).

One of my folders is called “CODES.” I use have tons of serial numbers for software and did not know how to keep track of them. Now they are all in one place.  I guess I could use a word doc but Evernote is searchable so I can search the word “Burning Monkey Solitaire” and the note with that serial I entered will pop up.  I cannot lock it so I guess I am a little exposed but no one uses my computer but me and to access it online you need my user name and password.

This is my favorite use for Evernote.  Back in the day my youth ministry professor challenged us to take time and write out stories from our lives.  Write down what ever we could remember…the funny, dramatic, edgy, capturing stories that have happened in our lives.  So I wrote.  I took a word document and started writing bullet points and then went back to fill in details.  I would carve out time in my schedule to remember and write. If I would be reminded of a personal story throughout the day or while others were teaching I would jot it down and add it to this list.  This Word doc with dozens of stories was hard to sift through but I would go through this list as I planned messages.  Then came Evernote! Evernote allows you to “tag” notes within notebooks.  So I created a notebook called “Stories” and I added each story as a note and then tagged the note according to topics that would fit in different messages. So I have one notebook with dozens of notes that are easily searchable by topic (through tags) and searchable by content (meaning words in the story).

For example, if I were teaching on dating, I click on my notebook and search “date” or “girls” or “purity” and all stories that I tagged with those words pop up. This has been a great asset for my teaching and planning.

Are you using Evernote differently?  Post a comment and share any of your ideas

LINK: Evernote