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

admin —  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

admin —  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 umyouthpastor.com 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: www.squarespace.com.  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 umyouthpastor.com and tell me how it could be better!

Another Mac Bundle Box

admin —  August 3, 2009 — Leave a comment

Mac Bundle Box released another incredible bundle deal.  This time they are selling 12 apps that, if purchased separately, would cost $458.59 for $49.

The no-brainer of the group for me is the Keynote Themes.  I use keynote almost every week, and get tired of the stock themes. These themes by Jumsoft are beautiful.  From there I only need one more program to make it worth my while, but to be honest, I didn’t find it.  I already have programs that do the video compression, web design, and disk management offered by some of the other programs.  It is definately worth looking at, but be careful not to buy it just because it’s a deal.

Alright Apple fans, Snow Leopard is now available for pre-order over on Amazon.  For only $29 it’s the best price for an operating system upgrade to come along.  It’s suppose to ship sometime in September.  I got mine ordered this morning.


Last week I spent 4 days at San Diego Comic-Con, and thought I would share a few thoughts I had about my experience at Geek Mecca.

  • Geeks come in all shapes and sizes, but even though there were 130,000 people I never saw anyone disgruntled, except for maybe the security people that were trying to control the lines.  There didn’t seem to be any us against them or rivalries going on, old or young, big or small, twilight or potter, Star Wars or Star Trek, everyone was excepted for who they were.  If only our youth groups were as open.
  • Anyone who works with teenager girls should know Bella, Edward and Jacob are.  Twilight is huge.  Watch for it to land in your youth group this fall.  There were girls that got in line 18 hours before the Twilight Panel to make sure they got in to see the stars of the film.
  • James Cameron’s Avatar is going to be huge…or the biggest flop in years.
  • Most of the stars get it and realize that these fans can make or break their project.  It’s cool seeing them embrace the geek culture.  My brush with the stars included using the urinal next to Lou Ferrigno.
  • Gear that I noticed: Camera of choice: Cannon DSLR, Phone of choice: Studio Workers: Blackberry, Everyone else: iPhone.  I also saw a few G1s and Palm Pre’s.
  • If you put the word Exclusive in title people will line up for hours and spend an incredible amount of money on it (Toys, Statues, Posters, Bags, it doesn’t matter).  You can even pick up some of those “exclusives” on ebay without waiting in line.  (I might be a little guilty of this.)
  • I love the panels.  I really enjoyed listening to people who make so many of the great shows and movies I like talk about what’s it’s like producing them.  My favorite this year (that I made it too) was the Big Bang Theory. Next year I hope to make it to more of them.  It just makes me love these films and shows even more.
  • The 1980′s are alive and well.  Everywhere I looked was a memory from my childhood: Transformers, GI Joe, Star Wars, Tron, even V is making a comeback.  It’s great introducing my kids to them.

This was my 3rd year going, and I had an absolute blast.  Maybe next year we can have a YouthMinistryGeek Comic-Con meet up.  I’m already registered, so I’ll see you there.

Organizing My Life

admin —  July 30, 2009 — Leave a comment

I have a confession to make. My life is out of control. OK, that may be a little dramatic, but over the last 6 months I’ve allowed myself to become more and more disorganized. A lot of it has to do with the number of projects and things I’ve needed to get done have increased, and my organizational system hasn’t scaled to the new amount of tasks.

There are those that tell me I need to start using a GTD system, but to be honest those systems seem like they would be too much work to keep going. I see the need for something more than just keeping a list in my moleskin notebook. I’ve looked at a number of different software packages and web tools, but this is what I’ve narrowed my search down to:

1. Entourage
Entourage is what I use for email. It has a task list that can be tied to me email and calendar.  It’s already in my work flow and I’m very familiar with it.  It’s not perfect, but ramp up time would be small.

  • Pro: tied to my work email and calendar, everything in one place, little setup time
  • Con: doesn’t sync to my phone, have to be at my computer to update the list or check things off, can’t share it

2. Backpack from 39signals
Backpack is an online tool for creating simple pages that can include to do lists, comments, and such. It’s super easy to use and the free version is pretty functional.

  • Pro: online-I can use it where ever I am, shareable – I can allow others on my team to ad items or comments to help prioritize, can set reminders that will be texted to me
  • Con: may outgrow free version, todos and reminds don’t tie together, iPhone apps not free

3. Evernote
I’ve been using Evernote for awhile as a place to capture notes and thoughts for projects and blog post ideas, and recently I read an article about how to use it as GTD system (but one that seems doable).  The article itself was confusing at first pass, but there were some great basic ideas that I easily implement.

  • Pro: online – access it anywhere, free version will be adequate for quite some time, shareable, more than just to do system, research and info system as well, can include photos / voice notes, can email items to it
  • Con: will take the most amount of time to setup, a little bit of a hack to do what I want, no reminders or calendar ties

What are your thoughts on these? Anything that works for you?