Word Fun with Wordle

Brandon —  December 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

Wordle: Untitled
While I was skimming the latest issue of Group Magazine, I found a great blurb by Lyle Huddlestun about a website called Wordle.net.  When you create your wordle, you can either input a bunch of text, input the url of your blog or your del.icio.us username and it generates one of these interesting images(The above image was generated by auto-scanning this blog).  The size is based on the word’s frequency, and the colors, word orientation, and font are set by you.  If you don’t like the first shot, just have it re-layout until you see one you like!  And, if you like it all, but want to delete one misspelled or embarrassing word, just click on it and remove it.

What’s even better, you don’t have to sign up to make them.  It’s totally free!  From volunteer encouragement to cool covers for the material you are writing/borrowing, this tool is worth taking a look at.

btw… I have been a bit silent lately as we just had our second child (Hannah-Claire0 and are finally getting adjusted to the chaos and lack of sleep.  (Pics)

Wow, this makes me feel a little old.  The answers the kids gave is fascinating on so many levels.  I especially like their answers to the technology questions.

The decade according to 9-year-olds from allie garcia on Vimeo.

My main computer that I use for all my day to day work is pushing 3 years old, and it’s really starting to show it’s age. I realize that 3 years doesn’t sound like that long, but it’s the longest I’ve used a computer since the 386 I built my freshmen year of college. But in these economic times I’m sure most of us aren’t able to replace our computers as often as we would like. I find myself in a constant battle in keeping mine from crashing and losing hours of work. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but is there anything we can do that can help prolong the life of our aging machines? Here are a few things that I have found that has helped:

1. Hardware Upgrades: Sometimes over time we can develop some hardware problems that are easy to tackle ourselves.  Two upgrades we can do that make a huge difference are RAM and Harddrive.  If you find your aging computer slowing down, make sure you have the maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle.  If you don’t know the maximum amount for your machine head over to Crucial.com, and run their memory scanner and they will tell you how much your computer can take.  You can also buy the upgrade from them, and their prices are some of the best around.  Another upgrade that can make a big difference is upgrading your hard drive.  Chances are your computer came with a small, slow drive that upgrading can make a huge difference.  If you drive is too full it can slow you down, also upgrading to a faster drive can make a big difference in performance.

2. Clean up the hard drive. You may not feel comfortable swapping out your harddrive, and if you have a laptop it may not be easy.  But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.  You can defrag your drive to help speed it up.  I would also clean off unneeded programs and files to free up space.

3. Clean install. This is much more drastic, but often times using the system restore disks your computer came with reinstalling everything often helps fix problems that can be difficult to find and fix another way.  Now if you feel you need to take this step make sure you have a good backup and all the install files for your software because this will result in erasing your hard drive back to the way it came from the factory.  If you are planning to upgrade your computer to the latest operating system (Windows 7 or Snow Leopard) this can be a great time to do this.

4. Find a New Use For It.  You may find that your old computer is just not worth upgrading or fixing so you do take the step to get a new one.  That doesn’t mean the old computer is now completely useless.  You may be able to turn it into a home server to keep your photos or music on so you can share them with other computers in your house.  Or maybe that old laptop will be perfect to your spouse, parent, or child.  I find often times other people in my life don’t have the same requirements that I have, and while my old computer may not be great for editing video anymore, it may be perfect to check facebook or playing webkinz.

What do you do with your old computers?  How old is too old?

Save Andy Sale!

Over at Simply, we are having a Save Andy (and us all) Sale.  He’s decided that he wants to be a Rock Star instead of Youth Ministry.  Watch this video and see how bad he his.  Help show him his future is really in Youth Ministry by helping make this sale a huge success.  And you save 30 – 70% on some of our best resources.

Visit the Sale Here!

Crowd Sourced Video Projects

Chris —  November 13, 2009 — Leave a comment

Over the last week, I’ve come across two different video projects online that are using or used the power and reach of the internet to produce them.  The first one is a group that setting out to remake Star Wars, but letting people pick their favorite scene and recreate it however they want.  The second is a music video that that was written, produced and shot by user submissions to the creators youtube channel.  He also has a bigger vision of getting this song on the UK music charts to raise money for charity.

Here are the videos:

Star Wars: Uncut Trailer from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

I just love the idea, and really enjoyed the results.  I was thinking this could be a fun youth group project.  Getting different groups of kids to shoot different parts of video and putting them all together could be a really fun activity.  I used to volunteer in a ministry that had a film festival of student made films every year and something like this would have been a great addition.  And with the availability of cameras like the Flip it could be easier than ever.  Kids love to see themselves on screen, and what a great way to involve lots of kids and let them stretch their creative muscles.

Win a Website Makeover

Chris —  November 10, 2009 — Leave a comment


Let’s face it, a lot of our church websites need help.  Most of the time they aren’t up to the design and functionality we would like.  Well, the guys over at Snapshot Web would like to help fix that.  They are giving away a year worth of hosting, plus a custom design just for you.  Just follow the link and take their quick survey to be entered.  Who knows, a new church website could be in your future.

Have you ever remembered reading something in one of your books, and maybe even remembered which book, but had no idea which of the couple hundred pages housed the beloved content?  Don’t try the index or thumbing through the pages, simply go to books.google.com.  There you can search within books to find where the content lies.

This works best when you have the book because many of the selections indexed by Google Books do not have full previews; however, the limited preview is more than enough to put you on the right page.

If your book is not available on Google Books, make sure you stop by amazon.com.  Most books that have the small “look inside” logo over the cover image will provide a similar search to help you find what you are looking for.

Just for fun.  It’s such a great look to make it look like David was just carrying around his laptop filming with his webcam.  I also loved the effect of it being sped up, but the singing regular time.  Enjoy.

YouTube – David CrowderBand – “How He Loves” OFFICIAL Music Video.

Should I Buy That Gadget?

Chris —  October 30, 2009 — Leave a comment

Have you ever asked your self that question?  I know I have.  In fact I keep asking myself about it every time I see a netbook.  Here’s a little flow chart to help with the decision:

(Click to see full size.)

Source: Scordit.com

If you are anything like me, every time you go on a camp or retreat, you come back with tons of photos (about ten of which are usually any good) and maybe even some video.  Of course you want to do something cool with them, and every once in a while, you take the time to create a video that is a mashup of your pictures, videos, and some recent Christian Music.  Most of the time, your schedule rules out doing anything of the sort.

That is where Animoto comes in.  This snazzy little web tool allows you to upload photos and video, and then creates a really slick looking video of them.

You start by uploading pictures (no larger than 5MB each) and videos (no larger than 200MB each).  You can then set what portion of the videos you uploaded you want to include.  Once you have all your files uploaded, it’s time to select your music.  You can upload your own track or select from their collection.  If you are looking for Christian music, they have 27 selections ranging from Toby Mac to Christ Tomlin (who should be on your playlist).  All that’s left at that time is to determine your speed and cover image at which point their servers take over rendering an impressive video with a cool soundtrack.

The finished video is ready for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, email, and even exporting to YouTube and Smugmug.

Sounds too good to be free right?  Well that’s where you’re wrong and right.  This is a freemium service.  You get all the photos and videos you can cram into 30 seconds for free, and if you want to make a longer video (up to the length of your song), the cost is $30 (the All-Access Pass) for all you can eat for an entire year… seems like a steal to me!  In addition to making longer videos, the All-Access Pass allows you to download the videos though they will only be 432×240 h.264 mp4s.  If you want dvd quality, you can pay $5 per video for the upgrade.

This site focuses on speed and ease of use.  Which means that you do not get a whole lot in the way of editing control.  As a matter of fact, you get NO control.  If you don’t like the transitions or timing, your only option is their “one-Click Remix” that sends it through their randomizer again to hopefully spit out something you’ll like.

However, if you want to be able to make a quick video about last week’s trip for this week’s worship service and have less than zero time, Animoto is a great choice, and an incredible value.  Check it out!