Measure Map is on Googleroids

February 22nd, 2006

Ever since Google bought Measure Map, it’s been so much faster. It used to be kind of doggish – since it’s heavily Flash and XML-based, it would take a few microseconds to refresh when you click on things. Now though, wow – it’s positively zippy.

I have to say – Measure Map is my absolute favorite way to view my stats. And it’s just in alpha!

The Audacity!

February 22nd, 2006

If you’re looking for an easy way to import and convert audio on the Mac, give Audacity a try.

I needed to archive an audio transcript from a recent meeting that I had recorded on an old-fashioned digital voice recorder. I say old-fashioned because it doesn’t have bluetooth or Firewire or even USB to download the audio files directly onto my computer. The only way is to plug it into the computer’s microphone jack and record the audio input directly. I had just gotten iLife, so I figured this would be a great time to try out the new version of GarageBand, which has some neat features for producing podcasts. What the heck – a meeting is pretty much just like a podcast, right? So I fired up Garage Band, and started recording. All went well, until I realized that Garage Band requires 120% or more of my PowerBook’s processor, about ten times as much memory as I have, and a couple terabytes of hard drive space (I exaggerate, but not by much). Because of the high processor overhead, I couldn’t use my computer while it was recording. I found that if I so much as opened a Finder window, GarageBand would stop recording. Great, so I guess that means my computer is tied up for an hour and a half while it records. Ok, well it’s gotta be done. Turns out my computer was tied up for a lot longer than that. After three or four failed attempts to import the full audio, then waiting for it to export into MP3 format, I had wasted about four to five hours. All that, and my final MP3 file was truncated because I didn’t understand how to set up the timing in GarageBand correctly. Ugh.

So I found Audacity. It was just what I needed. Simple, fast, easy, and it let me keep working on my computer while it was recording. And it’s free, too. Imagine that! The one caveat is that, while it does support MP3 exporting, you have to download the LAME MP3 encoder separately. No big deal, I just downloaded the LAMELib file and saved it in the same folder where I had put the Audacity application. So I’m happy – the job is done, the audio is exported, and I got to get work done in the process.

By the way, I’ve deleted GarageBand from my hard drive – it was taking up something like 10 Gigs of space! Audacity stays though.

When I first got started programming, I had no idea that Subversion could be so helpful. I figured that version control was complicated and only useful for teams of developers. Boy was I wrong.

So how do you get started with Subversion? No worries. Naturally, there is a good book to help you. Mike Mason’s book takes you through the basics all the way up to advanced Subversion concepts.

Youth, Vitality, and Content

February 14th, 2006

Having a website is great, but nothing beats a fresh website. In fact, if the content on your church’s website gets outdated, you might as well kiss it goodbye. That’s how important it is.

Pastors always wonder why I harp on websites so much. I mean, isn’t it enough to have a web page in the first place? Well, no, it’s not. Think about it this way: The people who are going to be looking for a church in America today were toddlers when the first video games came out. These folks can’t remember the world before the web. (I know because I’m one of them.) Your church’s target audience is increasingly internet-savvy. For many of these people, your church’s website will be their first impression. And if you have a crummy-looking or out-of-date website, it may be their only impression.

Here are three practical ideas for setting up a website management system in your church.

There's more! Read the rest of this entry

Survey Results

February 4th, 2006

As promised, here are the results to my pilot survey on church websites. A disclaimer is probably in order: this survey is hardly comprehensive. It was just a pilot survey, and there are only ten results. I’ll be using the results of this survey to help me design an actual research project. I got some great feedback from my friends over at the Godbit forum, which I’ll be incorporating into my project.

Download the survey summary (88Kb PDF)

Some folks have asked if it’s possible to add pictures to their blog posts with CrossConnector. Yes! It is! We’re working on a way to make this really easy. In the mean time, here’s a video that shows you how:

Adding pictures to blog posts in CrossConnector

CrossConnector Redesign

February 1st, 2006

CrossConnector is just a few weeks away, and to get ready we’ve redesigned the CrossConnector home page!

Take a look at the new CrossConnector home page

I’ve also posted some screenshots to whet your appetite. Enjoy!