April 27, 2008

DeepShift, Everything Must Change Tour - Day 2

In my previous post, I described my experience and opinions on day one of the Everything Must Change Tour that took place on Friday evening. Saturday morning, the conference began again at 7:29 am. I have to say that is really early to get postmoderns out of bed, but plenty were awake enough for good conversation. The morning started with break-outs, and we attended McLaren's session on church plants. It was essentially just a gathering of people involved in church plants, young churches, or those trying to do something new in established churches. We sat in a circle of chairs and people commiserated about the difficulty of those tasks.

My wife and I connected with trying to do something new in established churches. Most people talked about how the old guard would work against them, and in some extreme cases just kick them out of the church. McLaren led the discussion and would interject his experience where appropriate. The conversation followed natural peaks and ebbs, and everyone seemed comfortable to participate. My wife and I agreed later that this was by far the best part of the event.

We talked about what "church" meant and how that differed from traditional ideas and the difficulty in reaching the unchurched. Brian used a phrase that stuck in my mind, "Leadership By Anxiety," to describe using the natural energy around an idea to push through making a change. It reminded me of Adam Hamiton's "Decision by Nausea" concept, which he uses to discern which of many paths he should to choose. The path that God leads you down is often the most challenging, and frightening.

Over all it was good, but here is my constructive criticism: The buzzword "narrative" was used quite a bit through the discussion. I don't understand why we as people take simple things and make them complex in order to feel more enlightened. Other than that minor criticism, the only unsettling thing about the discussion was a strange quietness about what to call what they were doing. People used phrases like, "where we are", "what we are doing here," "how we were led to this." To be honest, it made me feel like I didn't really know what was going on, like I was sitting in some sort of cult-ish or secretive meeting. Kind of weird.

Other than the morning discussion we had a morning of worship. The songs were chanted, and very meditative. So much so we almost fell asleep. After we finished, we had to leave early to attend our nieces birthday party.

Overall, still just ok. Swag was good. :-/

April 25, 2008

DeepShift, Everything Must Change Tour - Day 1

This evening I attended the Everything Must Change Tour, presented (I supposed), by Deep Shift. I live-tweeted the event, if that's what you call it, which was my first attempt at using Twitter. It was very one-directional, as I did it through my cell phone and didn't have device updates on. New guy - my bad.

I registered for the event late last year after hearing of it somehow. My wife and I had heard Brian McLaren speak at one other occasion, knew he was associated with this, so we signed up. It wasn't cheap - $75+ per person at early bird price, but if you got in on the early bird deal you got a copy of Everything Must Change, one of McLaren's books. Oh, and it ended up you got a compact fluorescent after showing up. "Yeah. Check out my totally enviro-friendly bling, yo. 1200 lumens for only 20 watts dawg." So you got swag for $75. Not all bad.

I had a creepy feeling about the event from the time I registered though because of some of the language surround the event. To be perfectly blunt, it felt very bleeding-heart, tree-hugger, all we need is love ... ish. Oh well, at the very least it'll be a good experience for my wife and I. This feeling was intensified after getting to our seats and thumbing through the handouts. Let me extend this feeling to you by way of quoting some of the material:

".... Therefore we will practice 'listening one another into free speech,' 'building bridges of empathy,' 'creating safe spaces,' and other strategies of revolutionary communication."

" When I see or hear ___ I feel ___, because my need for ___ is/is not being met. Would you be willing to ___."

"When you said ___, I felt ___. Can you understand why I would feel that way?"

A short commentary: Umm - Wow. 1. Revolutionary? Really? Seriously? 2. I'm building my bridge of empathy to solitude, and I don't care where your bridge goes. 3. If I "felt" that much all the time, I'd be in therapy, or I'd be a woman. (I do not mean any offense to women, I am just a guy that's all. But if that made you feel ___ because it was ___, I would suggest ___. No ___ intended.)

During one of the discussion times, I met Al. Al asked me what I thought of this so far. (Thus far we had experienced good music, a Sierra Club video, and some speaking by Linnea Nilsen Capshaw.) I admitted I had little expectation, not doing any research about it beforehand, but felt "like it was a bunch of liberal stuff." Al gave me a concerned look, a nod, and agreed.

Brian McLaren spoke. He's a good presenter, and a good speaker, so you can't go too wrong. One thing I like about Brian is that he loves circles. Two dimensional circles. The man can explain anything he needs using circles, usually three or four ... and maybe a box. I didn't agree with everything he said, but that was ok because I wasn't supposed to. He told us that before he started, and I happened to agree with him about that, and some other things too.

We broke into another discussion time to talk about our thoughts and feelings, and Al turns around to me and states, "Yeah, I'm afraid you were right. He is off base, and just wrong about ...." Unfortunately, Al and I were on the same page. This wasn't the McLaren we knew, and to my initial concern; McLaren was veering hard left toward the target audience.

Overall, the evening was OK. The music was great, McLaren wasn't at his best, and the evening was much like a sub-standard worship service. If I didn't get books and swag, I would have been very disappointed. My wife tolerated it. That is to say she didn't go postal on me, but sternly said I owe her something in return that is better than ice cream. She and I agreed that the time progressed much like a mainline worship service. Singing, greeting, prayer, shake some hands, singing, listen to preaching, prayer, singing, benediction. There was more discussion thrown in than usual. Oh - we did miss communion, but it wasn't the first weekend of the month. ;)

It may sound like I'm vehemently against the left, but I am really not. I have some liberal views that get me chastised, and I'm fine with that. I just take the extreme left less seriously. You kind of have to, because when they state in the materials that Brian will intentionally avoiding using male pronouns when referring to God because the bible reflects God in feminine images as well as masculine; you have to call that out. At what point were all those "He" references misleading? Did I miss it when Jesus pulled out, "whoops, I meant Mother, not Father. My bad."

Regardless, we're attending tomorrow's morning session as well, and Pania (that's my wife) is even going with me when I expected her to bail. If tomorrow is blog-worthy, I'll post about my experience.

April 21, 2008

I'm giving up on iTunes and QuickTime

The continual new versions and annoying nags to upgrade took their toll.  With every upgrade I got unwanted desktop, quick launch, and tray icons that I had to delete.  The way Firefox interacted with iTunes to play MP3 files was way lame too.  Then Apple's attempt to push out Safari via the iTunes updater was the last straw.  My only use for iTunes was as a podcatcher.  It's a very good podcatcher, no argument, but I just couldn't stand the constant fooling with it.  So now I'm using Juice to download podcasts and the way cool K-Lite Codec Pack with Windows Media Player. 

All of you with iPods and iPhones, I know this doesn't apply to you.  But what about everyone else?  Are you as tired of iTunes/QuickTime as I am?

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April 20, 2008

MinistryTECH/RoundTable wrap-up and reflections

Hard to believe it's been two weeks since the end of MinistryTECH and the CITRT. I still haven't written the wrap-up post I intended to write the day I got back.  Real life stuff has intruded on my blogging time!

The Church IT RoundTable is just, simply, the coolest thing.  I always come away charged up for another season of ministry.  Why was this week so special?  Here are four main reasons:

1. The pace and variety of the week was terrific.  I enjoyed the drive down on Tuesday afternoon with Ian and Matt.  Our timing was perfect when we picked up Jason and Jeremie from the airport, followed by warm conversation over steak.  Staying at the unofficial conference hotel enhanced the experience as the geekfest continued in various rooms each evening.  We clobbered the poor WiFi, resorted to EVDO, and clobbered that too!  We had the joy of greeting old friends throughout the day on Wednesday as people arrived in OKC and joined the church tours (which I loved - thanks Terrell!).  I liked the combination of general sessions and breakouts Terrell planned for MinistryTECH on Thursday and Friday and met some new people there.  The RoundTable itself was awesome, as always (see notes below).  For dinner on Saturday we enjoyed Buffalo Wild Wings and an important strategic discussion about leading the CITRT, followed by the KU win in the NCAA tournament (sorry Justin).  Sunday morning it was worship at LifeChurch Edmond and then a safe drive home.  The totality of the experience from Tuesday through Sunday was [insert superlative here].

2. That much geek power concentrated in one place is huge fun.  Ian's parrot-cam (mentioned here and here) is a great example.  I'm old now and more of a manager-geek and leader-geek and less of a geek-geek.  So being around all of the creative energy of the real geeks is reinvigorating for me.  Let's make sure that we continue to push the boundaries of technology when we get together.  It's a vital part of our culture.

3. My fellow church IT people inspire me.  I said it at the end of my talk and I'll say it again here.  Ask anyone on my team about the mood I was in when I got back to the office.  I was glowing like Moses.

4. God has been working on me for a couple of months, pushing me to take my leadership up to the next level.  The week of MinistryTECH and CITRT was a time when that next step came into clearer view.  Many factors came together to make that possible, including some one-on-one time with a close peer.  Thanks.  You know who you are.

Day 5-6 notes:

1. Many, many thanks to Michael Foster for hosting the RoundTable at Crossings.  Everything was excellent, including a spectacular fried chicken lunch and conversation with Sunny and others about the challenges of Internet Campus in the Methodist system. 

2. At Crossings I got 4424 kb/s down, 484 kb/s up, which is good, but when 50+ IT people descend with their laptops on your network, things get hairy in a hurry.  It gets even crazier when you throw video into the mix.  I am volunteering to lead a network design team for the Fall 2008 RoundTable at Seacoast Church.  It will be made up of network people from each of the churches that have hosted the RoundTable so far.  I figure we owe Trace our experience because none of us has the ability to simulate the load and test it in advance.

3. Enjoyed the Sunday 8:30 AM service at LifeChurch Edmond before driving back to KC.  Particularly awesome was the band's offering of Charlie Hall's The Solid Rock.  That will get you pumped up in the morning!

4. As promised, I finally uploaded the PowerPoint slides of my talk, "Users or Customers?"

5. Speaking of promises, did Tony Morgan ever make good on his hullabaloo promise?

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April 18, 2008

Free upgrade to Turbo

Those of you following me on Twitter know that my wife got a call at home Wednesday afternoon from Time Warner with the news that we were getting a free upgrade to Road Runner Turbo service, which is nominally 15 Mb/s down and 1 Mb/s up.  Most of you are thinking, "sweet!"  Very shortly after they called Laura, she called me to say that our Internet service was down.  My first thought was, "idiots!" 

You see, we still had our very first cable modem.  I can't remember exactly when we got it, but 10 years ago is a pretty good bet.  It's the classic 3Com "Shark Fin" modem.

IMG_1764-web IMG_1763-web

This surprise call on a Wednesday afternoon, while not entirely unwelcome, necessitated an unplanned trip to the Time Warner store to get a new modem.  They issued me this shiny Scientific Atlanta (division of Cisco) model.

IMG_1760-web

Upon installation, I was disappointed in the speed: 5,262 down/975 up - doubling the upload speed but only 20% faster down than I got on my Shark Fin pre-Turbo.  I tried a number of things that didn't have any effect.  Then it occurred to me: my equally classic, also 10 year-old, Linksys BEFSR41 router (also a division of Cisco - heh) might not be able to go any faster than 5 Mb/s. 

IMG_1768-web

Sure enough, when I plugged my laptop directly into the new cable modem, I got a smokin' 14,299 down/979 up

So what to do?  I have a very recent model D-Link DIR-655 Wi-Fi router that I've been running in access point mode because my cable modem and home network patch panel is in the basement and I wanted my access point in my office on the 2nd floor.

IMG_1765-web

Last night I decided, despite it not being optimal to have my Wi-Fi AP in the basement, to replace the classic Linksys with the new D-Link.  Sure enough, it handled Turbo speed, no problem: 14,423 down/982 up - hard wired, that is.  When wireless, even with the laptop right next to the router, I got 5-10 Mb/s down.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Though I'm grateful for the faster speed at no extra charge, an interruption like this can take you off down a rabbit trail.
  • Unintended consequences: Time Warner changes their service bundling and decides to upgrade me at no extra charge (good), taking my service down (bad), resulting in a trip to the cable store (bad), installation and troubleshooting (bad), network reconfiguration (bad), and ultimately a 3-4 times faster download speed and 2 times faster upload speed for all users at my house (good).
  • I've upgraded my computers 3-4 times in the last 10 years, while my basic Internet connection infrastructure stayed the same.  No more.  With the advent of these very high speed circuits to homes and businesses, your router and/or wireless connection can now be the limiting factor in download speed.
  • At least for download, WAN speed is now approaching LAN speed in many common applications.  We've already seen the leading edge of the disruption this will cause.

April 17, 2008

Apple II nostalgia

Justin Moore writes:

Clif,

Wasn't it you in one night at a restaurant in Kansas City last fall telling those at your table about how you used to create graphics in assembly on old Apple's? For some reason I'm thinking it was, so I immediately thought of you when I saw this video.

Even if that wasn't you, I think you'll appreciate the geekiness of the clip...

Yes, Justin, that was me.  Here's the story.

The Apple II did nothing out of the box except flash that lonely cursor.  It was 1979 and we had one computer in a high school of 1,800 students (Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines, IA).  There wasn't a single teacher who knew anything about it so it represented a great challenge and opportunity for discovery.  There was one other guy, Mark, geeky enough to stay after school every day with me and play with the computer until the teacher kicked us out of the room so he could lock up and go home. 

Our first idea for something to do with the graphics mode was to draw our school logo.  That took some doing because the pixels were not mapped into memory sequentially from top left to bottom right.  Steve Wozniak had simplified his graphics chip design by laying out the memory to follow the interlace scheme of NTSC video.  Steve was famous for building ingenious, brilliantly simple hardware that made the software more complex.  So, with a lot of trial and error and many re-reads of the Apple manual, we eventually were able to turn on the right pixels to form the ALHS logo.

Our next idea was to print the logo.  We had a 4-pin dot-matrix printer.  Consulting the printer manual, we wrote a BASIC program that would print whatever was on the screen, with each pixel on the screen becoming a dot on the page.  Again this was tricky because we had to convert from the video interlace pattern in memory to four vertical dots for each pass of the print head.  We eventually got it work but it took more than 30 minutes to print one screen because it would print a pass and then think a long time before printing the next pass, doing just four rows of pixels on each pass.  

To speed it up, Mark and I taught ourselves 6502 machine language.  With nothing more than a 6502 programming card, paper, pencil, and a well-used eraser, we wrote a program that would print the screen and then we hand assembled it into a series of 8-bit codes like the program you saw loading at the start of the video.  (We didn't even have an assembler, for crying out loud!)  That program would print the screen as fast as the printer would go, finishing a page in under a minute. 

Looking back, it's hard to believe how creative, resourceful, and self-motivated we were to do things like that as high school students with no one there to teach us.  Good times.  Thanks for taking me back, Justin.

April 14, 2008

Arena end user training

We began end user training on Arena today as we hurtle towards go live on May 6.  Since we need to train 130 people and our class size is limited to 8 students, we'll be training all day Monday through Friday for the next thee weeks.  Jeremy and Leo are sharing the teaching load.  Here are some pictures from the 2nd class of the day today.  That's Leo in the front, just as he's wrapping up the class.

Arena Basic class Arena Basic class

Leo and Jeremy are trying to build excitement about Arena and have some fun with the end of Shelby V5.  To that end, Leo made the following (awful) trophy that's sitting on a table in the training room.  Note the Arena gorilla choking the Shelby chicken and the slogan at the bottom: "Chicken chokin' fast!!"

Leo's Arena trophy

Not sure what that means.  Maybe Leo can explain it?

April 10, 2008

Adam Hamilton: Hero


I knew Adam was special but it wasn't until I read one of the chapters in his new book that I realized he had been truly heroic. During the 2000 General Conference debate over homosexuality a woman Jumped up onto the balcony of the arena and started crying and shouting at the delegates. A friend of mine was down in the Texas Delegation as one of the people who were trying to figure out how to catch her if she Jumped, Up Top people kind of looked at each other and finally some people took action and went and pulled her down before she jumped or fell. I was probably two sections over from where she stood and all of us were just stunned. Turns out Adam was one of the few people who actually took action rather than just looking around dumbfounded. Here is a picture of Adam in action. Its weird to know I was in the same place as Adam long before I even knew of the Church of the Resurrection or Adam's ministry.

Chuck

April 05, 2008

CITRT: Internet Campus - Terry Storch

Terry Storch, LifeChurch.tv

Volunteers: Vols are involved in every aspect of Internet Campus: technology, greeting, communications, counseling, missions, etc.

Giving:  They have a way to permit people to donate without having an online account.  Done via PayPal.  They're working on better UIs for online giving.  Difficult to design a system that works equally well for physical campuses and online campuses.  Made a change that increased physical campus giving 20% but decreased online giving 60%.  That was a bad day for Terry.

Sacraments: They taught on sacraments in a sermon series and lead IC congregants through the process of communion.

CITRT: Laptops, laptops, everwhere!

The Church IT RoundTable Spring 2008 is underway.  One of the really cool things at every RoundTable is the sea of laptops.  Thanks to Michael Foster of Crossings for hosting and providing the power and bandwidth.  We know we KILL the WAN link when we get together.

RoundTable Spring 2008 001

RoundTable Spring 2008 002

RoundTable Spring 2008 003

 RoundTable Spring 2008 004

MinistryTECH/RoundTable Day 4

Quick notes:

1. Tony's session this afternoon raised the bar.  He was funny and engaging.  My mind was too cluttered to live blog it, so I just listened.  Good talk.  IT does present a lot of paradoxes.  Tony thinks success involves holding a lot of things together that seem to be opposite or contradictory.  Sounds a bit like Seeing Gray.

2. Paul Braoudakis: God chose a craftsman.  Ex. 31:1-5.  We're the craftspeople of our era.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  - Apple "Think Different" ad

MinistryTECH: Users or Customers?

I presented a break out session at MinistryTECH this afternoon.  Jim blogged it.  So did Jason.

Ian started playing around with his webcam and realized he could live stream my talk through Ustream.  Cool!  Brian back at the office got in on the act.

Why do we need advance planning and real-world testing when we can just make this crap up on the fly?  Actually, if you watch the video below you'll notice a problem with this attitude.  The mic in the webcam went wonky, resulting in continuous, loud white noise for a bit.  Ian realized it was happening and switched to the laptop's internal mic, but there's a definite disruption in the viewer experience around the 7:30 mark.  You'll need to skip ahead to where the counter reads approximately 22:00.

If you haven't seen any of the Nick Burns sketches, here's one on CNet.

I'll put up the PPT slides when I get home.

April 04, 2008

Let The Debating Begin (And the Communion Cups Fly)

The Legislation Tracking System just went live on the www.umc.org website. This online database tracks all of the legislation submitted to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church through committee, to final resolution on the floor. Find the ones you love or hate and watch the streaming video during the second week as the fists fly (Not literally - though I did witness a communion cup flung across the room and shattered in protest last time around).

You Can Not Stop Nerds


Ok, I had to do it. Our fearless leader Clif is at MinistryTECH in Oklahoma City as I type this blog post. My cohort in this was Ian, who is there with Clif. Ian was able to set up a webcam in short order and stream Clif to U-Stream:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ministrytech

To the upper right is a shot from my camera phone. This is a projected image on a wall in our training room back in Leawood, KS. Clif is larger than life!






So to sum up - yeah I posted on Clif's presentation in Oklahoma City before he was even finished, watching from Leawood, KS. :)

Given even simple technology - you can't stop nerds from getting creative and participating, even if we don't get to be there in person.

MinistryTECH: Be an Idiot

Presenter: Terry Storch, Digerati Pastor at LifeChurch.tv here in Oklahoma City.

Are we idiots for making the transition from secular work to low-paying church work?  He was labeled an idiot in 1991 when he became the preschool pastor at Fellowship Church (at that time Fellowship of Las Colinas).  Jesus was (and is) looking for idiots.

Jeff Hook is an idiot.

Idiots are comfortably uncomfortable.  Processes sometimes drive toward designs intended to make us more comfortable, stable, etc. rather than more effective.  Make my life easier.  Don't worship the process.

Now Discover Your Strengths.  Your strength is your weakness.

Life balance - seems like a myth.  Has failed over and over.  Gives Jesus, family, work all 100%.  What are your boundaries?

Accountability.  Lived the lie of accountability.  The last 10% of our stuff is the hardest to share because it's the stuff that will seriously jack you up.

Idiots are changing the world.

We are at a unique time in history.  Technology is influencing our culture.  Over 1 billion people connected to the net out of 6 billion in the world.

What faith risk are you avoiding because you're scared?

April 03, 2008

MinistryTECH/RoundTable Day 3

Quick notes:

1. This is the first time I've ever connected to an access point at N speed.  I've had this laptop for two months and supposedly have N access points at home and the office, but I've never actually connected at N speed.  Too many other things on my plate to try to troubleshoot why.  Intel PROSet reports a data rate of 144 Mb/s.  I just now got 4868 kb/s down and 3629 kb/s up.  Cool!  I'm stylin'.

2. Matt says I wasn't merely to use the word "hullabaloo" but I was to find some way to use it creatively.  Just linking to the dictionary.com entry hardly qualifies.  The problem with this assignment is that it assumes I am gifted in such creativity.  Turns out I'm not.  ;-)  I can only appeal to Tony's theological understanding of mercy and grace.

3. Met Barry Thomason, VP of Business Development for Daxko at lunch.  He's exploring the ChMS marketplace.  I hope I didn't scare him too much!

4. Jeff Hook: "Brand" is your promise to deliver.  IT should avoid brand confusion - don't promise one experience and deliver another.  He said lots of other interesting stuff too.  Check out his full presentation here.

MinistryTECH: The I in IT

Presenter: Jon Edmiston, Director of IT and Communications at Christ's Church of the Valley.

  • More time on solutions, less on infrastructure.
  • Unlike corporate IT, we can focus just on the customer (congregants).  Few mission-critical applications.
  • Membership system is the core application.
  • Member data must drive the website.
  • Single platforms trump disparate but integrated solutions (best in class)
  • Your membership system is only as good as the data quality
  • Skills you should have: reporting, scripting, statistics, graphical design
  • Key technologies: geographical information systems, data analysis tools, data visualization tools, unified messaging, social networking, mobile technologies
  • Strategic prioritization: plan ahead, start with solutions not infrastructure
  • Don't seek staff approval - it limits our impact to the ministry.  Staff service is critical but not at the expense of impacting the congregation through technology.
  • Infrastructure should be simple.  Don't overkill the reliability.  Stay away from the bleeding edge of infrastructure unless it directly provides the solution (e.g. Asterisk).  New technologies that save $ rarely do.
  • Be aware of opportunity cost.
  • Let big ideas stew.  (This is Jon's variation of my "discernment stew" idea.  Can't believe I've never posted on that.)
  • MapPoint is incredible. 

Books mentioned:

My counterpoint:

  • Integrating multiple, best-in-class systems vs. a single, integrated solution is a classic IT tradeoff that's been around for at least 15 years.  I didn't see any special insight in Jon's view on that.
  • Of course, our default answer is "yes".  Enough said.

MinistryTECH: 10 reasons techies scare me

EVDO is 704 kb/s down, 197 kb/s up.  Ian says the WiFi is 8 Mb/s down and 4 Mb/s up.  That actually might be enough for all these laptop-bearing nerds!  CORRECTION: Ian says it's starting to suck wind.  We know about that from the Fall 2007 RoundTable!

Presenter is Tony Morgan, Chief Strategic Officer from New Spring Church, and formerly Jason Powell's boss at Granger.  The secret code word for bloggers and tweeters is "hullabaloo."  Tony said to check dictionary.com for the spelling.  Heh.

  • Assume everyone thinks like a techie.
  • Don't bend on standardization.
  • Hire the best geek rather than the best leader.
  • Always want more staff.
  • Always want more stuff.
  • Don't document processes.
  • Implement technology without considering strategy.
  • Don't communicate their solutions with the team.
  • Focus on implementation without creating systems for training and support.
  • Let technology drive the ministry rather than vice versa.

Tony says we need to get three things right: technology, people, and strategy.  True, but he got it in the wrong order.  If you have the right people, they will determine the right strategy, buy the right technology, communicate with all the stakeholders, and get everything else right in the above list.

Aside: Jason Lee said we should give an award to the first person here who jumps up to go handle a tech support emergency.  Great idea.  I seriously wonder how many of the people here have already this morning faced a technical issue they need to resolve back home.  Even sitting here listening to Tony, some of us are getting e-mails, pages, or other alarms.  Ian just now got alarmed on a wireless access point going down.  Of course it's the one serving our senior pastor's office. 

MinistryTECH/RoundTable Day 2

Quick notes:

1. Jason Lee posted a bunch of pictures from the church tours today.  I'm featured prominently in a few.  ;-)

2. Jim Walton put up a Picasa set.  This image features Ian gesturing expansively.

3. Driving from Henderson Hills to lunch we were in the van for around 15 minutes.  During that time Jeremie, Matt, and Ian were on the WiFi from their laptops.  Jason Lee was on his cell phone.  They were answering tech support issues, getting e-mail, etc.  These guys are so nerdy, they make me seem almost normal by comparison.  The RoundTable is a serious geek-in.  Also, it begs the question: Are we too connected? 

4. Great to reconnect with Terry Storch today.

5. Equally great to meet Brad Coats, IT Director of LifeChurch.tv, Michael Foster, IT Director of Crossings Community Church, and Heather DeShazo of Church of the Servant.

6. There is something very special about the CITRT.  I've been involved in secular trade organizations where people come together to network with their peers.  Of course the CITRT is similar to countless trade associations, yet it is much more.  We aren't ignorant of the differences in our histories, traditions, styles, and even theologies, yet we choose to overlook those differences to see the essential unity of the Body of Christ and the commonality of our mission.  I believe God is bringing us together.  We truly are on the same team.  This group lives that out in a way that is unique in my experience.

7. Ian and Matt agreed with me that the trip down here would have been worth it just for what we experienced today.  It's awesome that we have four more days ahead.  Bring it on!

April 02, 2008

MinistryTECH/RoundTable Day 1

Quick notes:

1. Good drive down.  Great weather in Oklahoma - clear skies, temps in the low 60s.

2. Ian's cell phone as a mobile WiFi hotspot was a fun, nerdy experiment.  Turns out, when doing EVDO and WiFi, the phone consumes more power than can be supplied by Ian's car charger.  After two hours of more-or-less continuous connectivity, the battery died despite being plugged in to the charger the entire time.

3. The WiFi in the Crown Plaza is bad.  B-mode only.  I got 184 kb/s down and 122 kb/s up.  Jason Lee had the same experience.  EVDO is 1229 down and 274 up.  How sick is it when EVDO is WAY faster than WiFi?

4. Although we are 15 miles from Henderson Hills in Edmond, this hotel will be a mini conference-central.  A bunch of us are staying here.

5. I'm rebuilding my Vista laptop.  Long story, but when the hard drive failed (yes, it was less than a month old when it started acting up) and there was no good way to recover and move to the new hard drive, I had no choice but to rebuild.  It's an XP laptop now.  Heavy sigh.

6. I still need to put the finishing touches on my presentation.

April 01, 2008

Losers in my future

ministryTECH 2 image

I'm expecting to see a bunch of losers in Oklahoma City this week at MinistryTECH and the RoundTable!  (Click the link if you don't get the reference.)  Ian, Matt, and I are getting in the van and making the short, five-hour drive this afternoon.  We're picking up Jason Lee's crew at the OKC airport, whereupon some as yet unplanned mischief will ensue.  It should hardly be surprising that Ian has rigged a rolling hotspot for the drive.  If anyone needs us, you can catch him on the CITRT IRC channel or call my cell, 913-642-1875.  I'm SOOOO jazzed!