We swapped to a Spotify family plan for music a couple of years ago when I realized that for a little more than just Pam’s account we could gain access for everyone with a family plan (One of the boys had a plan too so realistically the family ended up paying less – though Pam and I started paying around $1 more per month).
ANYHOW, Tomorrow Spotify is giving away FREE Google Home Mini’s to people who subscribe to the Family Plan. All you have to do is go to THIS LINK tomorrow.
You can read more about this in this Verge article.
The Terrell family has both Amazon Echos and a Google Home Mini. The Mini produces significantly more pleasing sound quality and Google does a much better job of consistently answering our questions. Alexa can be a little dense sometimes.
Six weeks ago the church website (www.sptapestry.org) was going to have to migrate from a older server to a newer server on our website host. The church website had been on the old server for close to ten years. You may not have noticed but a few things have changed on the web in that time span. So I backed up my blog of nearly 15 years and started the migration process. I have been blogging since 2003. I haven’t always been consistent. Some times I have blogged daily and sometimes just monthly. Still it is something that has been important to me and therefore I backed up all my posts to keep from losing them.
Unfortunately I didn’t check the backup to make sure it was good.
It wasn’t good.
I found this out when I moved my blog to my own website instead of keeping it on the church site. I set up everything and imported the thought to be good backup file. Instead of suddenly seeing all my old blog posts on my new website what I found was an endless loop of my posts trying to send visitors back to the non-existent blog back on sptapestry.org. Some how my backup was corrupted in such a manner that the posts seemed to believe that they were actually stored on the old, non-existent website. This did two things: 1) it produce a lank blog page, and 2) it didn’t allow me to access the blog backend page and thus I couldn’t access any of my old posts.
I freaked out because my old blog had by now been wiped out by problems with the migration of the church website.
I tried several different methods of backing up the still functioning database of my now defunct blog. I reinstalled my blog three times and tried different versions of my backed up posts. Each time it either created the weird webpage loop or imported all my blog posts up to 2007. The 2007 posts were the first sign of hope.
Today I came up with the fourth version of my Plan B while I was running in the rain. i find that some of my best ideas pop into my head when I run during inclement weather. Plan B v4 involved installing a temporary wordpress blog on the church website to then import my blog backup. I figured that if my blog posts were continually trying to send everything back to www.sptapestry.org, then why not just set a temporary blog backup on www.sptapestry.org for the purpose of importing the posts, and then export from the temporary blog to a file that I could import to my new website.
As you can tell if you look further down the page Plan B v4 worked. From now on, when I do blog it will be here at www.raterrell.com. Woohoo. I guess this means I should start blogging more frequently now.
One of the members of the Tapestry Leadership Team has been after me for years to move the Tapestry website from being hosted on Godaddy because of the them and us not really being on the same page values-wise (Hey Adam). I actually agree with him but the problem is that while I am generally a pretty ambitious person there are some things that I am down right lazy on. One of those is moving an already established website from one hosting site to another. It is the equivalent of replacing a water heater in your house – its a lot of work and will make things better but nobody will notice that anything is new. For me infrastructure work is fun when you are starting something but it is a pain after it has been started.
Anyhow something has happened over the past week and the older servers that we are on have gone crazy. The church website and therefore the church message podcast and my personal blog have been up only hours a day for the past week. Godaddy’s support has said they know about the problem and are working on it. I’ve heard that for a week. Other people are saying that it is older server vs newer server problem and Godaddy is encouraging people to start new accounts and thereby move to a new server. According to what these online forums are saying Godaddy will gladly do that for you for $99. I haven’t heard this from Godaddy but if it is true there is no way I am paying someone to enable me to use a server that I have already paid for. So I guess if things are corrected in a day or two I will be doing infrastructure work and starting up a new server. Oh how I dread that.
I’m probably going to go ahead and move my blog over to Nearly Free Speech hosting. It is dirt cheap hosting but not the easiest to use. We’ll see.
Pam just received a new ipad from UWSP for a technology thing that they are doing and thus her old ipad has been passed down to me. It an attempt to make it a little more mine and less Pam’s I decided to not only remove all the Jane Austin wallpapers from it but to replace it with some wallpaper of my own.
So here are the three that I made today for it.
The one on the left comes from the Christmas gift that Adam made for me. It is about to be hanging in my study.
I don’t have it yet but Pam bought me a Raspberry Pi for my birthday. The Raspberry Pi is a $35 ARM GNU/Linux based computer. It primarily meant for hackers and educational use (i.e. learning to code). In other words this thing is for goofing around. It is interesting to read some of the uses that people have come up with for the Pi. I think I am going to do one of three things with it.
1. Turn it into a media streamer for our TV via xbmc.
2. Use it for some random video projection at Tapestry
- First possible option is using it as a question/announcement displayer when you are walking into the gym where we meet. I could use the screen that we used to project our lyrics onto (we now have one built into the gym) to display questions and thoughts concerning the message that night or announcements when people are walking in.
- Secondly I would like to project windows on the side walls of the gym. I know it sounds odd but I think it would be fun to project video of church windows on the walls during some of our worship gatherings. I could use the pie and my laptop to do this.
- Finally, I am considering buying one of the used LCD displays from UWSP’s salvage and setting it up on the information table at the back of the gym.
These are just the first few uses that I can think of for the Pi. I am sure others will come along once I get my hands on it.
I use Dropbox a great deal for personal and church use. I love it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to try something a little more DIY. I’ve been thinking about doing something with the Raspberry Pi for a while and I think this might be what I try with it. Making my own dropbox clone should be fun. I can do that with the Pi and with Owncloud. Here are the instructions.
i read lifehacker daily and i love it. it is amazing the things that i learn from the myriad of tips they put out. a read a few days ago they posted concerning an “auto journal.” i go through phases of journaling. in fact, i’m in one right now. i write down thoughts, what i have been reading, and things that i am being challenged by.
one thing that i have not done in the passed with journaling is keep a basic list of things i have done during the day. i’ve read a few diaries in the past that had such simple details as “i traveled to such and such today,” “bought this at this price,” and “ate this today.” these details are incredibly simple and yet i find them wonderful. so i have started adding those details to my journaling experience.
lifehacker’s post pointed out a way to do an auto journal of my basic online daily activity. using if this then that to save small details of my online activity to a journal file on evernote. obviously this is not the same as my written journal and will by no means replace it but i think it will be fun to try the auto journal. right now i have setup “recipes” for it to copy my foursquare checkins, facebook statuses, tweets, google calendar appointment, blog posts, and amazon purchases into an auto journal file. i think it might be fun to look back years from now and see this stuff.
another lifehacker project that i am considering is doing something with the raspberry pi computer. these little $25 & $35 computers look very interesting. lifehacker described making a media center computer out of one. they described making a media center computer for less than $500. i am kind of thinking of less than $60.
SIDE NOTE – i spoke with alan lusk today. he is an old friend and former co-worker. i am excited to hear that he and his family will be planting a church in prairieville, louisiana. since i’ve done ministry along side alan before i know a decent amount concerning how he ministers. he’ll do a great job and i therefore imagine that the church he plants will be pretty dang cool. there are a couple of churches in the baton rouge area that i think the world of. obviously, i kind of like parkview since it was my home for 7 years and i love the ring and its leadership because i believe they do an amazing job of following CHRIST. it is nice to know that there will be another one soon. GOD has allowed me to work with some really cool people and it is so much fun hearing what HE continues to do through them.
SIDE SIDE NOTE – the story of the senior adult who decided to “restore” one of the frescos in her church, the church of santuario de misericordia in borja, spain, is pretty funny. she was just trying to help. the whole situation reminds me from the scene from bean when he messes up and “corrects” whistler’s mother.
much of tapestry’s communication is done online. a ton of social media, online presence, website changes, email, etc. this means i regularly post LOTS of links. some of them can get kind of long, which is, of course, why in the past i have used url shortening services like tinyurl.com and tiny.cc. i decided i wanted tapestry’s name to be in the url and personally have more control over the shortened name of each url without making the address super long. so i just installed yoURLs which make the tapestry website into our own personal url shortening service. now i can shorten url’s with the sptapestry.org address.
for example, thanks to wesley (one of the leadership team members) i have begun posting youversion “scripture events” each week. these scripture events are basically a way that people can easily see each week’s scripture, the power point slides, take notes, etc. this (bible.us/e/ICL) is the link to this week’s (as yet unpublished) scripture event on youversion. it isn’t a very long url but it makes no sense and thus is hard for me to explain to someone without writing it down for them. i could run it through another url shortening service and hope that the custom name i want is available or i could install (which i did) yoURLs on the sptapestry.org domain and know that the custom name i want is available. from now on the link to the youversion scripture event will merely be that sunday’s date. here’s this week’s sptapestry.org/2122012.
come on now, you know that’s awesome.
SIDE NOTE – we’ve actually determined that while youversion events are great, they are also actually not quite in step with our level of participation. youversion events allow individuals to slightly participate with the scripture of the message but they do not allow the church to participate with each other as we go through the scripture during the message. so drew is looking into developing an app for tapestry that will take the good we like of youversion scripture events and add a ton of interactivity for use during our worship gatherings. for example, drew is going to set things up where the scripture event becomes a conversation that you can comment on and then someone else can respond to your comment. youversion allows you to take notes and send me questions but doesn’t really allow for the threads to respond to each other’s responses and bounce reflections off of other people’s thoughts. this is going to be awesome. when he is done people who might not feel comfortable speaking up verbally during our worship gatherings will have yet another way to respond.
again, come on, you know this is awesome.
i have mentioned this before but i am amazed at how bad some powerpoint presentations are. it is even sadder to me when these presentations are done by preachers. the reason for this is two fold: 1) i believe preachers are proclaiming the most important message in the world which makes a bad presentation all the worse because it is about something important and 2) preachers are one of the few groups of people who usually have actual training/education in how to effectively communicate. actually i need to change that last statement a little. i believe that seminary students are trained well in how to develop a sermon but not so much in how to deliver a sermon. if you are presently going to seminary i would love to hear how you are being taught to present your message.
i think most of the threads would describe me as an adequate preacher. i’m not the world greatest (though pam would say differently since she has to) but i am also not the world’s worst. regardless of my preaching skills i know that most of the threads remember the presentation slides i use. i know this because it is one of the things that my friends who make up tapestry comment on the most.
there are tons of excellent resources on the web concerning how to make an effective presentation. these sources have influenced me greatly. i thought today i would post how how i handle powerpoint.
- put very little on your slides – presentation slides are supposed to be visual aids and yet so many preachers use their slides as the text of their sermon. if you have all your information on your powerpoint slide why do i need to listen to you? i can read faster than you can speak. just give me the slide show and don’t waste my time. well at least that is my thoughts on the matter. instead i place on my slides only the info that i believe will help someone to remember the point i was talking about. usually this is an image or a single word. the image to the right is an actual slide from one of the lectures for one of my d.min seminars at nobts. this is way too much information for one slide. extra slides don’t cost you anything so i tend to use lots of them with little information rather than few with lots of info on them.
- develop your own template – i generally hate stock templates. they very rarely look good. they are made for the lowest common denominator and it shows. that doesn’t mean that i don’t use a template. instead i developed my own and i stick to it. i use the same colors, fonts, slide format, etc. a tapestry slide looks like a tapestry slide. it has its own feel and the tone. it is simple. it almost always have the same font on it – centaur is the tapestry font. it is recognizable.
- don’t use bulletin points – i understand the irony of saying this in a bullet point and i am enjoying that irony. busy pages are impossible to read. instead of using bullet points use a simple slide with one word. this is more visual and since your presentation slides are supposed to be “visual aids” they should be very visual. actually i use bullet points on a few occasions but their use is rare, always limited to a small number, and never look like bullet points.
- don’t use clip art - the cheesy clip art makes your slide look awful and doesn’t help people to remember your sermon. visual aids really do help people to connect with, remember, and apply sermons but your visual aids need to be something that they will remember. the slide to the right is an example i found on the web of a guy trying to show preachers how to use powerpoint. this is supposed to be a good example according to him. i would not describe it as a good example but the opposite. if a picture speaks a thousand words then most of the words comgin from your clipart are communicating to your congregation that you don’t actually have anything of value to say.
- use tons of images – i know i just said don’t use clipart but that doesn’t mean don’t use imagery. presentation software is on its hoe territory when it is used as a way to convey imagery. please use some of the wonderful sources for photos on the web and get compelling images that convey your points and cover the entire screen. using a good image to illustrate the point you are making is a great way to help people remember what you are saying.
there are tons of resources on the web that teach how to use powerpoint slides effectively but these are the rules that direct me. just to be fair here is an example of one of the powerpoint presentations i use while preaching. you can judge for yourself from this slide show whether you should value my thoughts or not.
SIDE NOTE – i just re-read my previous post on bad powerpoint presentation and realized that all i did in this post was expand on what i had already said there. this probably says a great deal about how much this bothers me. i think i may start collecting images of bad sermon powerpoint slides. if you have any please send them to me.