Friday, December 18, 2009

The Facebook plunge

Well, I did it.  I took the Facebook plunge.

Now I have a Facebook account, Twitter account, LinkedIn account and a blog.  I might as well quit my job and spend all my time updating my various accounts and feeding my information starved friends, fans, and followers. 

So, why did I do it?  First, my wife was tired of our 'sharing' her Facebook account.  Our interest online are slightly different and our friends, fans, and followers are her friends, fans, and followers for different reasons then they would be my friends, fans, and followers.  Second, there is some content on Facebook that I wanted to keep up with.  Faith Ministries, where I work, is getting more involved in social media and I want to keep up.  Third, what better way to grow my massive online audience then to connect all my online presences.  After all, if I'm going to do this I might as well go all the way.

My favorite method is Twitter.  It is short, sweet, and easy.  Facebook to me is often overwhelming with all the options for posting that it has.  We'll see how it goes.

Yours for social media and online connectivity because I have nothing else to do.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Best Twitter App for Windows Mobile 6.5

When I got my new Tilt 2 phone with Windows Mobile 6.5 on it one of the first things I had to do was get a Twitter app. A lot of folks recommended Twikini so I bought it and it didn't take me very long to realize it was lacking a few key features.

While researching I found out about TouchTwit. While Twikini and others have been around longer and seem to be more mature I have found the user interface and experience with TouchTwit to be superior. TouchTwit is only available through the Windows Marketplace for $4.99. Twikini is only $.99 however it is worth the extra cash to get the easier user experience.

I travel a lot and am often reading tweets in the car, on the plane, running between gates, and other times when I only have a single hand available. Being able to manipulate the entire program with my thumb is a huge plus. And yes, I know the dangers of walking, driving, and tweeting.

Other apps seem to still hold to the old Windows Mobile 6.1 design style where you have two menu buttons on soft keys and then need to use the stylus to access specific functions. Since I have had my Tilt 2 I have only used the stylus twice. Well designed apps won't have anything that even remotely requires you to use the stylus.

Despite all that there is still one key feature of TouchTwit that kills all other Twitter apps for Windows Mobile (at least those I have explored). TouchTwit displays the entire tweet, you don't have to click on it or tap on it to view the tweet. Twikini frustrated me because I constantly had to tap a tweet to read it all and then tab back to go back to the list of tweets. I can't figure out why - you would think it wouldn't be too much to display the entire 140 character message. TouchTwit displays the entire tweet in an easy to read fashion that has great touch feel navigational control. And did I mention it is able to show the entire tweet, all 140 characters.

So, if you want a fully developed Twitter app for Windows Mobile you will probably want to look somewhere else, at least for the time being while TouchTwit matures. However, if you are looking for a solid Twitter app that is easy to use on-the-go and can display the entire tweet in the list view then TouchTwit is a great place to start. You can try it out for 24 hours before you buy it.

Before you ask, I use TweetDeck on my PC. Until they come out with a Windows Mobile version I plan to stick with TouchTwit. If they do come out with a Windows Mobile version it will have to be as easy to navigate as TouchTwit while still bringing the TweetDeck experience to Windows Mobile.

You can follow TouchTwit on Twitter @touchtwitinfo.  If you purchase it through the Marketplace on your phone then updates are easy to install.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Faith Technology Tech Team List

If you want to follow the tech team at Faith then you are in luck!  Thanks to the new Lists feature on Twitter there is now a list of the professional geeks at Faith that you can follow.  Read our musings on many things, including a few relating to technology and technology in ministry.

Right now the list contains 4 members of the team, but may grow in the future.  Brian Nicholson, Donnie Payne and I are full time staff members at Faith.  Joe Willis, while working in IT at a local manufacturing firm, is a volunteer who helps with both IT as well as audio/visual support.  This is the best tech team in the business.

To learn more about Lists on Twitter -

What is God doing?

November is Stewardship month at Faith.  I think a great story of stewardship is on Donnie Payne's blog.  Check out his story - I know you will be encouraged that God is still in the business of helping us all grow.

All things do work out for our good and His glory.  That isn't just something trite we say, it is truth. It is the timing thing that is the hardest to understand.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fire in the pulpit - not what you think

Many have asked about some issues we had during the first service at 8am this past Sunday, Nov. 8. Here are more details then you ever wanted to know.

We have an old lift mechanism that raises and lowers our pulpit up and down. It uses a motor attached to a gear block that turns a screw that raises or lowers a platform attached to a ball nut. It was installed in 1986 and has needed more and more maintenance as of late.

On Sunday during our morning sound check we raised and lowered the pulpit as we normally do to ensure everything was working properly. That was around 7:30am. The service started with the pulpit down. At 8:20am we attempted to raise the pulpit for a testimony and nothing happened. About that same time we smelled something burning. We cut the power to the motor and the testimony continued using another mic on stage. The problem with cutting the power was that it also cut out several of the stage outlets used for various instruments.

Meanwhile the burning smell was getting stronger for those of us in the sound booth at the back of the room. Those on the stage and in the front rows, including our pastor, thought something was really on fire. Once we got into the next worship set, minus a few instruments, the pastor came back to ask us if we were safe. By this point we had got the sound room fire extinguisher out and had a few backstage ready to go. We assumed that cutting power would prevent a fire but due to the smell we wanted to make sure. The safety of those in the auditorium was our first priority.

We setup a temporary podium for the preaching portion and the service continued as normal. While pastor was preaching we started coordinating our plan of attack for resolving whatever we could between services. Everyone had an assignment as we only had about 10 minutes to get power restored and try to raise the lift, or go to plan B. We had staged tools and extension cords and were ready to tackle whatever problem we found in the lift pit.

Once the service ended we opened up the stage and found the motor burned up, the smell horrible, and the mechanism blocked by the pulpit which was still stuck lowered into the floor. Plan B went quickly into effect with musicians and everyone pitching in to run extension cables and get power restored. The next 2 services probably didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Later Sunday afternoon we tore the whole thing apart, go the pulpit out and found that the limit switch that is supposed to shut the motor off once the switch is tripped failed to operate so the motor was continuously running from 7:30am until we finally cut power 50 minutes later. We pulled the motor out of the pit and the paint on the housing was burned, and yes, it still stunk. We removed the power and from an appearance perspective all is back to normal on the stage at Faith. The pulpit lift is locked in the up position and plans are underway to either repair what we have or to start over from scratch, lift, pulpit, and all.

I remember thinking around 8:10am that things were going well and it was an easy morning. That’ll teach me. Who says ministry can get boring?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Daylight Shifting Time

Daylight Saving Time is one of the greatest scams of all time.  As though we are somehow able to manipulate the amount of time it takes the earth to spin on its axis to actually provide us with additional daylight. 

There are 2 books I have read in regads to the craziness that makes up Daylight Saving Time.  By the way, note that it is Daylight SAVING Time and not Daylight SAVINGS Time.  The word 'Saving' is singular and not plural although the vast majority get it wrong, as if we could somehow save time in the plural sense.

Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time and Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time are both great books explaining the history, myth and fact behind the instituation of fooling ourslves into thinking we have more daylight.

A more accurate name would be Daylight Shifting Time.  The act of 'saving' is actual an act of shifting daylight.  We shift daylight hours to be later during the summer and then we unshift them in the fall.  The reasons are vast and the books explain them all but from my perspective it is all a joke.  Why fall back at all? 

Coming soon - my political involvement and Indiana's history with DST.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding Time

I'm finding it harder and harder to find time to blog.  There is a lot of information I would like to share as I have benefited from a lot of information that others take time to blog but so far Tweeting is much easier than blogging.  Probably something to do with the 140 character limit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The value of my SIM card

This is the most obvious statement in the world but there are things in life you take for granted until you don’t have them. Like electricity, hot water, your car, internet access, and even your cell phone SIM card.

I have been doing a lot of traveling lately. I got back South Carolina on Wednesday and I leave tomorrow for Seattle. While getting ready today I noticed my phone was dropping its connection frequently. So I rebooted it and it still was losing its connection. I have a Tilt from AT&T. Yes, I’m planning to upgrade to a new Windows Mobile phone but until I can stay in one place long enough to go to the store I’m currently stuck with my Tilt. I like the phone but it is approaching 2 years of wear and tear.

After a subsequent reboot the phone told me that it could not find my SIM card. I reseated the SIM card in the slot and the problem went away – for about an hour. Then the connection dropped again and after a reboot I got the notice again.

Some internet research revealed only that the card may be loose and I needed to find a way to make it more secure against the contacts in the slot. None of my creative effort worked and now nothing I did would get the phone to work. It would reboot and say it had no SIM card and tell me I could only make emergency calls.

So, and I hate to admit this, the pain of not having my phone and data plan while traveling caused me to break down and called AT&T. They were most helpful (I have the everything plan) and said I needed a new SIM card after she tried reprogramming it over the air. Apparently mine had worn out. My wife got her SIM card at the same time and it is still working fine.

This was 8pm Saturday night. I leave Sunday afternoon. She said I could get a new card from the local AT&T store between noon and 5pm on Sunday or I could get one from Walmart tonight. Walmart to the rescue, they had a card, I bought it ($25) and called AT&T back to get it activated. AT&T also credited my account the $25 because if I had gone to the corporate store I would have been able to get the card for free.

So I now have a new appreciation for my SIM card. I asked the lady at AT&T what I would have done if the card had died while I was waiting for my connecting flight in Houston tomorrow. She said I could have called them from a pay phone and they would have arranged for me to get a new SIM card at a store at my destination. Nice of them but terribly inconvenient. Makes me wonder if I should set an outlook task to get a new SIM card every 20 months or so, the one that died only last 22 months.

Once I was up and running the normal endless flow of text messages and voicemails flooded in making me wish the phone was still dead but I guess that is the endless cycle of life in the modern age.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What do I have in common with the city of Lexington and Twitter?

I have been doing some traveling this week and as with most “cool” people I have been doing some tweeting. Thinking I was cool on Wednesday I tweeted that I had been to the city of Lexington in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky all in one week, actually all in the first 4 days of this week. Later that day the Twitter user lexingtonva mentioned me in a tweet by saying, “@JonathanESmith That's pretty impressive that you've been to Lexington, VA, NC, and KY this week!”

Who is lexingtonva? That is the Twitter account for the city of Lexington, VA. Their bio on Twitter says, “Promoting Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County, Virginia!” So how did they find little old me?

I’m not sure who runs the Lexington, VA Twitter feed but it is pretty cool that they were watching for mentions of their town and commenting on them. It worked in driving traffic to their websites as I spent some time checking out the city and county. I may never be there again but it is a great marketing tool to watch for mentions on Twitter and then respond to them. I think these guys have it figured out.

Maybe Lafayette, IN needs such a Twitter feed? Who am I kidding?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

2009 Emmy Awards

There was a common theme in tonight’s Emmy awards, which is still being broadcast live as I write this. Numerous times thus far in the program they have mentioned the demise of broadcast television. The producers and writers are going all out to make sure you don't change the channel so they can get their message across. Oh, and so CBS can make a killing on the ratings.

So why the demise of broadcast TV? Simple, social networking and social media have started to undo the fabric of network TV. No longer do we wait for them to feed us programming on their schedule. We can now make our own anytime, anyplace. It has been said that with social media the news doesn't come to us, we make it. The same can be said for entertainment, we don't wait for it to come to us, we make it.

Try as they might the big networks are still having trouble making all this work. They promote that you can watch their shows online anytime (a big point of contention in last year's writer's strike, remember) and yet the core of their business model is the notion that we will all sit down at 9:00 on Thursday night to watch a show.  TiVo anyone?

So enjoy watching them squirm while you can. They know they are in trouble, they know folks are turning off their TV's in droves, hence all the sarcastic references and creative attempts to capture and keep our attention in tonight’s Emmy awards. Although I haven't seen a promo for any sort of official Twitter channel or hash tag - fascinating.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What can the church learn from Facebook?

Facebook passed an interesting milestone this week when they announced their 300 millionth user. That's right; there are now 300 million accounts on Facebook. According to the US Census there are 307 million Americans. Facebook is growing at a rate of 800,000 new users per day - you can do the math to see it won't be too long before Facebook is larger than the population of the United States.

Facebook also announced they are finally turning a profit - which will probably lead them to an IPO sometime in the next few years. Until they were making money there was concern that someone might buy them out to ease their financial problems but soon you and I could be shareholders in Facebook. What a concept, especially considering that 70% of Facebook users are from outside the US.

You can get more info from the link below but what is Facebook doing to draw people together that the church could learn from? What would happen if your church grew by 20% in 2 months? With as much time as church folks spend using Facebook I would hope they could learn from it on how to better reach out to those around them. Think of the Kingdom impact if your church grew by 20% in 2 months, or even 20% a year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adding to the team

We are looking to add a full time person to the technology team at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN.  For the job description and more details visit our webiste at

If you are interested or you know of someone please have them check out the website.  We run a lean IT department so it is important that in order to continue running lean that we find someone with a broad width of experience but also a great depth in knowledge.  While it would be nice to hire a separate DBA, help desk technician, system administrator, etc. it is more important that we maintain our fiscal stability while still reaching the world with the message of the gospel.  As a result our technology team has to be very well rounded so the load can be spread and the mission accomplished.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Getting Started

I am probably the last person to join the blogging bandwaggon.  I was one of the last to start tweeting so I might as well be one of the last to start blogging.  I have been reading the blogs of many folks and I am starting to see how the powerful influence they can have.  While I'm not sure where this will go or how it will end up I am willing to give it a go.  Within a few days of my first tweet I had 18 followers on Twitter.  I'm not sure yet where if anywhere I will lead them but it should be an interesting journey.