Some things you probably shouldn’t tweet

There are some things that would be better left un-twittered.

I recently saw a tweet extolling the virtues of the tweeters current boss. Something like this: “So refreshing to work under wise Godly leadership.”

My first thought was: “That’s true. It’s great to work in a life giving environment.” I knew the pastor he was currently working for. The assessment was right on.

My second thought was: “I wonder how this is landing with his former employer?” I knew him too. Great guy. Wise and Godly also. Apparently not so much – at least not in the eyes of the tweeter. His experience working for my friend had apparently left him somewhat less “refreshed“. In less than 140 characters he had dissed him to the world (at least to the twitter followers who knew of his work history). Maybe he didn’t mean too, but that’s the sum result.

My current Top Ten favorite iPad photography apps

Since photography is my hobby and all things tech (especially Apple) are my vice, I’d thought I’d make a list of my current favorite photography apps for the iPad:

  1. Filterstorm Pro – Just released in April of 2011, this is almost the app that I’ve been waiting for. (Actually I’m waiting for Adobe to come up with a REAL app for the iPad.) Filterstorm does all the things you would expect a photo app to do (crops, straightening, curves, hue, sharpening, vignetting, etc.) plus it allows you to save your photos as collections. You can apply each effect as a mask, so it allows you to do some pretty sophisticated adjustments. Since I’d much rather use my finger than a mouse, this app is one step closer to saying good bye to the laptop when it comes to photography.
  2. Diptic – This app allows you to put multiple photos into a kind of collage. (It’s what I used for the picture for this post.) It’s great for telling story’s in a hurry. I like to use it with the next app…
  3. Instagram – Actually this app is just iPad friendly, it’s really made for the iPhone. After capturing a photo with my iPhone (or my Nikon D7000), processing it with Filterstorm Pro, then sometimes composing it in Diptic, I like to upload it to Instagram.  IG is a social friendly place to post pictures and see what your friends are posting. You can apply about a dozen pretty cool filters, if you’d like, then send links to Twitter, Facebook, Email, Flickr, Tumblr, and others. (Here’s a link to the above picture in my Instagram account: )
  4. Instagallery – Until Instagram makes an iPad specific app, Instagallery is a much more pleasing way to view your photostream.
  5. Web Albums – I still post some of my pictures on Picasa (as well as Flickr and Instagram), so Web Albums is the best app I’ve found to do the Google thing.  I wish more apps (like Instagram, Diptic and  Filterstorm Pro, for example) had easy ways to get your photos to Picasa. There are work arounds, but they are messy.
  6. FlickrStackr – This app let’s you view and manipulate photos in your Flickr account.  Not great, but it gets the job done.
  7. PhotoSync – This app allows you to sync your photos between your iPad, iPhone and computer without using the iTunes sync. (The first day I don’t have to use iTunes sync for anything will be a wonderful day.) The syncing goes both ways, so it’s great for getting photos in and out of Lightroom on my iPad.
  8. Photogene – This is another app like Filterstorm Pro, but not as powerful.  It was my go to app for processing pics before April.
  9. SketchMee – This app allows you to make your photos look like watercolors or pencil sketches.  It’s pretty cool for something different occasionally.
  10. Noir – I just started using this one, so I really don’t know much about it, but I needed ten in the list.  I’ve seen some creative pics done with it, though.  It basically turns your photo to black and white with a choice of about four tints, and allows you to readjust the focus of light.

What about you?  Do you agree/disagree with my list?

What are you using?

A day in the life – The weekend

I thought you might be interested in what a weekend looks like from my perspective. These pictures (taken with my iPhone and processed with Instagram) represent 24 hours – from 3:00pm Saturday until 3:00pm Sunday. It was a good weekend, even though we got an hour less to sleep…

[slickr-flickr tag=”sccditl1″ type=”slideshow” size=”large” sort=”date” direction=”ascending”]
So, what was your weekend like?

The tools I use to create a message

Several people have asked lately what software and processes I use currently for creating a message. In this post I will not go into the “spiritual” aspects of study, prayer, etc. This is just about the tools.

First, the hardware: I use an 11″ MacBook Air to create the message and an iPad to present the message. When I bought the iPad, I wanted it to do it all, but it doesn’t…at least not well. It’s just easier to create on a Mac. I use the AIR rather than a MacBook Pro because it’s lighter and I don’t need the extra horsepower. I prefer the 11″ over the 13″ because it fits in tight spaces (think airplanes, such as when the person in front of you is leaning back rocking some serious Z’s).

The software: I use Pages for word processing, Quickverse for the Bible, Dropbox to store everything, and Goodreader on the iPad to present.

So here is the process:

1. On my MacAir I open Dropbox and click on a Pages “Sermon Template” file. I’ve created this so I don’t have to start from scratch every week. It is stored on Dropbox so I can access it from any computer I happen to be working on.

2. I save my new sermon document on Dropbox in a folder with the current series. Since it’s stored in the “cloud”, I can work on it thru out the week on whatever computer I happen to be close too, as long as it is a Mac with Pages installed. (You could do the same thing with Word, I just happen to prefer Pages.)

3. When I finish the message I make sure that I have saved it, then I save a PDF copy of it on Dropbox in the same folder. (To save a PDF, you have to access the PRINT menu, then Save as PDF.)

4. Next I open Goodreader on my iPad and tap on the Dropbox icon in the “Connect to Server” column. I then find the PDF copy of the message I have saved. This imports a copy into my iPad and links it to the Dropbox copy so any changes I make will show up both places.

5. I then use the “Markup” capabilities of Goodreader thru out the weekend to add the “good stuff” to the outline margins. Because it is linked to the Dropbox file, I will have all my spontanious notes to refer to in the future.

That’s about it for me. Just add some Red Bull, a little Mt. Dew, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and you’ve got yourself a message.

Is your process similar?
Share your good ideas in the comment section.

The weekend message process at Seacoast

After my previous post, I received several requests for a copy of the template that I use to format my weekly messages.  It’s actually quite simple and you can download a PDF here.

Here’s a brief explanation of how we approach the weekend message:

First, we teach thru books of the Bible

We have been teaching chapter by chapter thru books of the Bible for about three years.  In order to bring variety and make it somewhat thematic, we break the books up into series.  For example, the most recent series titles in our ACTS series have been: Compelled (Acts 12-16); Proclaimed (Acts 17-20); Arrested (Acts 21-24).

Second, we utilize teaching teams

We have a team of 5-6 weekend teachers who meet each Monday to help form the message for whoever is up to bat that week.  I do about 50% of the weekend teaching for the year.

Third, we use a modified version of Andy Stanley’s model

We identify a central theme for the passage and then break it down into five basic parts:

  1. Welcome
  2. You/Me hook – Usually a real life question (“Have you ever felt like…”)
  3. God – What does God say about the issue
  4. Practical take aways – We aim at three lessons.  I’ve tried to limit it to one, but that doesn’t work for me.  Two is too few, four is too many.  Three seems to be a good balance.
  5. Response – We are driving toward a personal response time that occupies about 12-15 minutes toward the end of the service.  Response stations include crosses, candles, communion, prayer, and offering boxes.

Our approach is heavy on participation and light on programming.  Not necessarily the right way, but definitely fits who God created us to be.

Hope that helps.

How does your experience differ from ours?

    Why I’m not in love with my iPad…yet.

    Okay, I’ll admit it. I ordered an iPad the first day you could. I gave my reasons HERE.

    I’ve had it almost two weeks so I thought I’d give my impressions.

    What I noticed first:

    • The screen. It’s very cool. You’ve got to see pictures to really get it.
    • The size. For me and my uses, it’s perfect. I don’t really like the rounded back, but I use it in a case most of the time so I guess it doesn’t matter
    • The cool factor. Apple did it again. They know cool.

    What I liked best:

    • You can preach with it. That’s the main reason I wanted it, to replace my black 7X9 notebook and paper notes. The idea of being able to continuously update my message as a thought hits me is the killer app for me. I’ve tried using laptops, but it ties me too close to the computer and I get distracted by remote controls. The ability to carry it around while I talk and have it look like a small legal pad works for me. I’ve already used it twice. Love it.
    • You can read on it. I’ve already become a Kindle lover to the point of refusing to buy and carry around “real” books. (Hint, hint…if publishers want me to read and promote books, send them to me in epub format. Otherwise, I just give them away.) Reading on the iPad takes it to a whole nutha level! I love how my Bibles look (youversion, ESV online study Bible).
    • You can share vision with it. A big part of my job is communicating vision. With the Keynote app I can sit down with someone and give visual emphasis to what I’m thinking about. That’s pretty cool…something I want to get good at.
    • It doesn’t look like you are lugging around a computer. It’s great for jotting a few notes in a meeting (or watching the CUBS on MLB if the meeting lacks interest :-). Since it looks like a “real” notepad, you can easily carry it anywhere.
    • You don’t have to sit by the power outlet. It seems that the battery lasts a LOT longer than my laptop (Macbook Air) or my iPhone.
    • You can attach a keyboard to it. While I’ve gotten used to one handed “thumbing” on my iphone, you are not going to want to type a very long email or article on the virtual keyboard on the iPad. There is something about resting your fingers on a live keyboard that can’t be done on the screen. I still find myself resorting to my thumbs and an occasional index finger. It’s nice to have the option of hooking up to a bluetooth keyboard.
    • You can think with it. I’ve been using programs like Carbonfin Outliner, Evernote, and the native Notes App to capture my thoughts with my iPhone, but the extra screen real estate is even more inviting for a good solo brainstorm.

    What could be improved:

    • You can’t work on one document from multiple locations very easily. My standard work flow goes something like this: I open a “Sermon Template” document to start my message prep every week. I save it to Evernote immediately so I can access and edit the same file from any computer. At the end of the week I distribute copies to the proper people from the Evernote file. You can’t do that with the iPad. I suspect it has to do with Apple’s “walled garden” philosophy. I have figured out a work around using, but it doesn’t need to be this hard. Honestly, the iPad Pages App is good for touching up what you’ve already created somewhere else, but it’s difficult to do very much moderately serious word processing. (I had to type this blog on my laptop.)
    • You can’t print from the iPad. Why not? Good question.
    • You can’t do much on a big screen. I purchased the VGA adaptor hoping to be able to project on a big screen. I was disappoint to find that the only thing that projects are Keynote slide shows (somewhat poorly) and a few youtube videos. I would love to project my Pages notes, web surfing, and other things for our weekly message planning meetings. Not so much…
    • You have to take it out of it’s case to put it on a keyboard stand. The case fit’s like a glove, so that is always a bit of a wrestling match. I’m tempted to buy a third party case that will support the iPad on a horizontal slant (Quirky), and use an unattached bluetooth keyboard.
    • You can’t do video conferencing with it. No front facing camera. That’s just dumb…
    • You can’t multi-task. What does that mean? Normal stuff is twice as hard. Fortunately this one is being addressed this fall.

    The verdict:

    Do I like it? Yeah, a lot.

    Do I love it? Nope, not yet.

    My advice? If you can’t wait, go ahead and get one.  It does some pretty cool things.  But if you’ve got the patience, you might want to see if someone (Google? HP? Generic Android?) comes up with a comparable product that let’s you leave your laptop at home.  Now that would be really cool.

    Check back with me in a couple of months. I may have changed my mind.

    What do you think?

    Video iPod

    Did you see the release of the new video iPodiTunes also got an upgrade to handle video downloads.  This excites me…the age of video podcasts is here.  Can you imagine the possibilities?  Can you say "the times they are a changing"? 

    I can’t get very excited about podcasting…other than free distribution of weekend services (I know there are other uses…I just can’t get my head around them yet…I’d rather read a blog).

    But this?  This is another level…let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!

    This and that…

    Random thoughts on a Saturday afternoon:

    1. Anthony Coppedge has a post on the financial costs of doing multi-sites.  He interviews Dennis Choy, the technical director from North Coast.  They outline 3 basic options that churches can use when considering video venues/campuses.  It’s really good stuff…very practical…I think there may be at least 4 options…I’ll be talking about it at the conference in Chicago this month.
    2. Terry Storch posts about the new Google reader.  My comment…it’s definitely not dummy proof…at least not for this dummy.  I’m having problems transferring Bloglines subscriptions.
    3. Speaking of dummy proof…I just wiped out this entire post by accidentally clicking the backspace button while in Typepad…not cool.
    4. Got to spend some time with Dino Rizzo this week at a Mission of Mercy pastors board that we both serve on.  (Kevin Donaldson has an inspiring vision for under served kids.)  Dino always stretches me…I’m glad he’s my friend!  He had an opportunity to "get my back" when a waiter spilled several drinks down my shirt.  The guy is quick with a towel…probably the key to the success of Healing Place.  I look forward to sharing the speaking with him and some other friends at the ARC conference next month in Charleston.  It is turning into a great place to gather and get inspired…and it’s free.
    5. I’m learning that blogging really does help create community.  I’ve met some great people since I started this habit in August.  Made a connection the other day with Perry Noble…looking forward to spending time together. 
    6. 1st Wednesday and 1st Thursday this week were pretty incredible.  The Long Point worship team (with help from Summerville, Downtown, and Family Life) really ushered us into God’s presence.  Those two nights will be the foundation for a new worship CD…hopefully available in December.  Way to go gang!
    7. I read a good book last week…"The Radical Reformission:  Reaching out without selling out" by Mark Driscoll.  I met Mark a couple of weeks ago in Dallas…he pastors Mars Hill in Seattle.  The book challenges me to think through what I believe and also addresses some issues in the "emerging church" movement that I have had questions about.  I first read a review at ChalliesDotCom and then picked up the book.
    8. Sometimes I wish I could think of some of the things that my brother thinks of…before he does!  What a wonderful mind and quick wit.  Nepotism has paid off in amazing ways at Seacoast.  Thanks mom and dad…(Chris and Dee aren’t bad either!)

    That’s enough for now…

    Blogging Church podcast

    Terry Storch at Blogging Church had me as a guest on his podcast.  If you want to hear it, just click here.  I apologize for the quality of audio…it was my fault…bluetoothe problems…but it gets better the further you go into the program.

    The jist of the interview focused around our use of blogs in the church.  I told him that I thought there were at least 3 benefits for me:

    1. It helps me communicate
    2. It helps me learn
    3. It levels the playing field

    I would be interested in your vision of the future of blogging and podcasting in the church.  What will it look like?  How can we use these technology tools to further our mission?  Give me some practical scenarios.  Are there examples of companies or churches pushing the envelope in these areas now?