Matt Says CrossConnector Rules

January 24th, 2007

Matt just signed up for his new CrossConnector account, and he’s pretty excited.

I’m so enthused about this app, that I stopped in the middle of using it to blog about it. If you manage projects for churches stop what you’re doing and sign up immediately. Matt Donovan

CrossConnector is a blogging/planning tool for ministries. If you collaborate with other people on ministry projects, check it out – it’s made for you!

CrossConnector – Your Ministries, Always Fresh

Two Gingabytes

January 23rd, 2007

This might not seem like a big deal to you power users out there, but I finally got my memory upgrade to 2 Gingabytes! (Yes, that’s how you say “gigabyte” when you have a cold.)

Upgrading the Mac Mini is for the adventurous, not for the faint of heart. Before you start, make sure that you have a bootable mirror of your hard drive just in case it all bites the dust. I use SuperDuper to make a nightly backup to my external LaCie mini 250GB, which also fits nicely under the Mac Mini. I also used Apple’s Disk Utility to partition the external drive into two drives – the partition I use for backing up is exactly the same size as my internal boot drive.

So, with full hard drive backup in hand I set out to crack the case of the Mini. And by “crack”, I mean, CRACK, which is the sound that the top makes coming off. It’s a scary sound when it’s coming from your primary workhorse.

I bought the memory from Applefritter to help me take it apart, and Robert Evans had some good advice.

Here’s my best advice so far: buy the Mac Mini with 2GB already installed. One GB is definitely not enough for serious work, and the upgrade process is bad enough to avoid altogether if you can.


January 17th, 2007

A few things are very satisfying to see at the end of a long day. Here’s one of my favorites…

Lorem Ipsum Never Again

January 3rd, 2007

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…. Some designers could probably recite the rest of the paragraph.

Ah, the life of the Lorems and the Ipsums. Invariably, when I used to show a client a design that represents a block of text containing the ubiquitous “Lorem Ipsum” text, their first response was

Wow! What language is that?

Followed sometimes by

That can’t stay in the design. Joe, did you send over the text for the design?

And even occasionally by

Oh good, Latin. Can we keep that? It will make people think we’re more sophisticated.

Alas, the everpresent, ultra-convenient pseudo-Latin paragraphs have been banished forever from use here at Art of Mission. It is just too distracting. Instead of focusing’ attention on the design, it detracts from the design’s subtleties by bringing up thoughts and plans of copy-writing in anyone who sees the design for the first time

The absolute best filler text for design is the actual text copy that will be in the final version, or something close to that. If the actual copy cannot be acquired, a second best (distant second, I might add) is something recognizable in plain English. I sometimes use the selected passages from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which can be gotten in its entirety at Bibliomania. Alice in Wonderland is fairly easily recognizable and is not likely to be mistaken for final text, and it’s playful enough that the reader will (hopefully) immediately understand that the text is meant to serve as representative filler text.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.

Good-bye Lorem, hello Alice.

Look to the Future

This may sound obvious or even a bit cliche, but when you’re working hard it’s easy to get fixated on the 15 feet of road in front of you. It’s important to look up frequently to take in the road ahead. If you don’t you’re likely to sail through a stop sign and get a ticket (yes, cops do ticket bike riders for this), or worse.

Changing Gears Takes Time

Stopping stinks. Especially uphill. Nothing is worse than starting out into a swift headwind at an uphill stoplight.

When you stop you have to change gears. On a bike, this means you have to shift into an easier gear before you come to a complete stop; if you stay in a hard gear then it is very difficult to get started again. You’ll end up bearing down with all your weight onto the pedal, grunting and heaving as the cars behind you start to edge up on your back tire. But if you shift into an easier gear before you stop, you’ll be in the right gear to get started again, and you can get back up to speed quickly.

BUT… all of this shifting takes time. You have to shift down, stop, and then shift up to get going again. It can take several minutes to get back up to speed again; longer if you’re already worn out.

In the workplace this is the equivalent of workplace distractions. Answering the phone, responding to pop-ups, and humoring droppers-by are all stoplights – they all create a situation where you have to stop, switch gears, and then start again.

Whenever possible, I try to take a route with as few stoplights as possible. At work, I try to carve out hours of uninterrupted focus time – time that’s just my own.


On the road, a bike rider has to let other vehicles (especially cars) know what the plans are. That is, unless you want to get run over. This means signaling your intent before you take an action.

It Hurts So Good

Exercise hurts. Practice hurts. Doing things that are difficult hurts. So do it anyway.

Nothing feels as good as realizing that you’re getting good at something. I recently got on my bike again after several years of being off it. Truly, I have never struggled so much to climb modest little hills like the ones we have here in Texas. But after a few times out I could already feel the difference. I could go faster up the hills with the same amount of effort. My muscles recover faster now. I feel better during the week. The things that I saw as obstacles when I first started out are now easy for me.

To Turn Right, Push Left

The lesson here is that not everything is as it seems, and not all processes are intuitive.

When you’re going fast, you don’t turn the handlebars in the direction that you want to go. Turn the handlebars like that at 25 miles per hour and you’ll go right over them. Instead, you lean into the handlebars on the side that you want to turn to. So if you’re going right, you lean right, but this involves pushing the handlebars slightly to the left. Motorcycle riders will know what I’m talking about. It’s counter-intuitive, but once you’ve mastered the technique your turns will be smoother and more controlled.

A Bike looks Good In Your Living Room

I’m proud of what I do. I may not be Lance Armstrong, but darn it, I’m proud that I ride my bike. I may not be the greatest programmer in the world, or the best designer, but I do it and I do it with pride.

Don’t Compare

At least, don’t compare yourself to other people. Instead, compare your current performance with previous performance.

Lance Armstrong may live in my city, but I am not him. Nor would I even attempt to stand near him with my bike. And Lance probably isn’t the only rider who could blow my cleats off. But comparing myself to others is counterproductive. It makes me feel like quitting. On the other hand, if I focus on my own performance, and my performance goals, now that is productive and makes me feel good.

Celebrate Small Victories

Getting to the top of a hill, shortening a ride time, finishing a project at work – these are all small victories to be celebrated. Even just a little victory dance will do, or a victory lap around the neighborhood. Or a victory collapse on the living room floor. As you get better, the victories can get a bigger and more significant. Shooting for a century (100-mile ride)? That deserves a steak. Finish the century before noon? Fillet mignon.

Celebrations are important. They give you something to look forward to. In fact, they are essential; if you don’t celebrate little accomplishments then the tasks of life turn into rote drudgery.

It Doesn’t Matter If You Don’t Want To

The times that I feel the least like riding my bike are the times that I most need to get out there. Sometimes I’ll dawdle around all morning, half-heartedly getting ready. When I’m off the bike I really don’t want to get on it. But invariably, these are the times when I’m feeling discouraged, or depressed, or unhappy, and taking the plunge into my bike shorts and helmet is exactly what I need. These days are the days when it feels best to be out there.

Just Push

When the going gets tough, the tough keep pedaling.

Sometimes when I’m out there it’s absolute torture to keep going. Everything in my body urges me to quit, to give up, and just stop right where I am. But you know what? When I’m out there on a bike stopping is not an option. Nobody is going to come and get me. I can’t walk back. If I stop, it doesn’t get any easier. There is no other choice. All I can do is focus on my legs, count revolutions, and keep on going.

This is one of the most vivid lessons I’ve learned from bike riding. There are very few situations in my life where I really have absolutely no choice but to take the path that I’ve chosen.