Sunday, March 29, 2009

Braden Crawling (Video)

He started crawling about a week ago. 

To watch in HD, click play below, then choose HD at the bottom. To watch it large in HD click here (requires a fast connection).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What has changed your life?

imageYou all know that God has changed my life more than anyone or anything.  For the purposes of this post, I am speaking on a much more insignificant level.

Google Reader (or any other Reader) has changed my life.

For a an excellent simple video explanation of RSS and Google Reader, watch this video on YouTube.

So much of today’s content online is made available via RSS or ATOM.  The idea is that you can get a site’s content automatically shown in your Reader when new content is available.  News comes to you instead of you going to the news!

I have posted about this before, but I must post again because it truly has changed the way I work and play on the web.  If you don’t use it, you should.

For awhile, I avoided it because I didn’t really get it.  Now I get it, and can’t believe people avoid it.

All you have to do is either click on the RSS button of syndicated web content, or copy the URL and paste it into your reader, to subscribe.

What have I subscribed to and therefore read in one location?  Many News sources Headlines (CNN, FoxNews, NJ andLocal NewsPapers), many blogs from all walks of life, sports scores and headlines, my church announcements, photofeeds feeds (flickr, picasaweb), Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, store sales and specials, etc.  All of this on one page!   

Benefits? 

Huge time savings. One location to go to to read content from many many sources.  I don’t waste my time going to a ton of sites and waiting for them to load (with all the peripheral images, ads, links) sometimes only to find out new content has not been posted.  I can browse the content from 100 websites in a fraction of the time it would take a “non-reader” surfer.

Education and awareness.  I am almost always aware of the latest happenings in the world.  It isn’t common for someone else to be aware of something happening in the world when I haven’t at least read a little about it.  I get to read from a much wider sampling from our world than I used to.

Get Google Reader here.

Rob

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Affixa…

I just came across 2 free tools that I have immediately begun using a ton.  Maybe you will find them helpful…

Affixa…

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 25 22.15 For a Gmail or Yahoo user, this is a must.  This allows you to click on any email link and it will put an email in your Gmail or Yahoo draft folder.  You can also right click on a file in Windows Explorer and choose send to mail recipient.    It will also put an email in your draft folder with the file attached.  It basically sets your default email software as Google or Yahoo.  Pretty cool.

ScreenHunter 5.1…

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 25 22.13 There are probably many free screen grab tools, but I have found this one really easy and straight forward.  You can grab your whole screen, just an active window, or you can drag a rectangle to grab any portion of your screen.  You can instantly turn these grabs into a bmp, gif, jpg, or send it to your clipboard.  No frills, no extra fluff, it does what it says well.  Perfect!

Gotta love free stuff!

Rob

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I messed up, but don’t worry, Braden is fine…

Last night, Braden woke up around 2am.  We decided to go ahead and give him a bottle (he’s teething, and it wasn’t worth letting him cry it out).  Becky got up, changed him, and then gave him to me (her responsible husband) while she went to get a bottle.  Well, that’s when I messed up.

I thought I was awake, but apparently I wasn’t.  Next thing I knew, Braden was on the tile floor screaming.  He is not quite as stationary as he was only a few days ago!

After a few minutes of Becky and I panicking and checking him all over, and Braden crying, we determined that all was good.  I don’t know how he landed, but apparently he landed well.

I thought I had learned my lesson when Drew took a dive off the bed.  I thought I had learned my lesson when Tessa took a dive off the couch.  But, now, I have finally learned my lesson (right?!).

Wow, thank God kids are resilient!

Rob

Coach K got it right…

coach k I heard the following yesterday on “Mike and Mike” on ESPN radio…

As they talked college basketball, (which I acknowledge somewhat ashamedly that I do not follow) illustrious “Coach K” (Mike Krzyzewski) shared that he had challenged his team after they had won a run, but had yet to fulfill The dream, that he wanted to see…

“Confidence and Commitment, not Confidence and Complacency.” 

I like that.

With a little success, we get too big for our britches.  Our posture may be a laissez faire pride in our achievement, when it should rather be a commitment to a properly aligned humility in advance of our future.  Pride in self does not acknowledge the true reason for success.  Therefore, one’s future victory is uncertain and out of reach due to a misplaced confidence.  Trust in self, and we will fail every time. Pride breeds failure, but humility breeds success.

I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded, that he is able…
2 Tim 1:12

Rob

Monday, March 23, 2009

God’s antithetical design for relationship turn our rules for social engagement upside down.

globe-africa-countriesWe dispense the dispensible.

We honor the honorable.

We present the presentable.

We praise the praiseworthy.

We accept the acceptable.

We love the lovely.

We give to the worthy.

We avoid the unlovely.

We popularize the popular.

We widow the widows.

We orphan the orphans.

We hate our enemies.

We break the broken.

We reward the accomplished.

We tolerate the tolerable.

I think God would do things differently.  Will we?

1 Cor 12:21-26, Psalm 34:18, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 25:31-46

Rob

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Have you tried Wickles Pickles?

wickles_pickles_200x340 Wickles slogan… “A Wickedly Delicious Pickle.”  I agree.  If you haven’t given them a try, you must.

All I can say is, bam!, pow, woohoo, an explosion of taste.  What a pickle!

Wondering about the volume of my Social Chatter?

rss I think Jesus has a love/hate relationship with Web 2.0.

Facebooking, blogging, tweeting via Blogger, Facebook, Live Writer, Tweetdeck, Twitterfeed, Twitter, Reader, Twitterfon, Vlingo, and …  wow, I have been posting a ton.  My devoted (or not so much) Facebook Friends, Twitter Tweaters, and/or Blogger Buddies must be annoyed with my constant feeds.

Or not?

I truly don’t think it is simply that I like to talk about myself (although ashamedly I probably I do).  I think my volume of social chatter is more about the yearning for social interaction, my desire to walk through life with others, my desire to connect with others.  Jesus created us as social beings.  He is writing my story within the context of others.  He made us to thrive in community.  We become better as we stick together (1 Cor 12). 

Too voluminous?  I look at other well respected bloggers and tweaters (example Mark Batterson), and I see exponentially more posts.  Then again, their constant posts usually mean something…

hmmmm…

Rob

Stayed Home sick from Church, but…

…I am currently watching our church service live online.  Not the same.  I missed the blessing of corporate worship, I missed our class, but it is nice to be able to watch…

I couldn’t watch our alternative venue that we attend, “Worship in the Hall”, but nonetheless, it’s great to have this ability to watch.

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 22 11.03

Hello Google, Microsoft Outlook RIP… Experiment…

So, in our web-based world, I decided about a month ago to experiment with a fully web-based alternative for all of my Outlook type stuff (email, contacts, calendaring, tasks).

Here is the history…

google_apps2 About a year ago, I switched all of RMI’s users away from exchange running on our internal server, to the totally free and external Google Apps for Non-Profits.  This gave me/us so much relief from so many email problems!!!  It was also free! I can’t tell you how nice it has been.  To be fair, Google Apps has had some minor snags, but using exchange was a constant headache for me.  Also to be fair, if I was more knowledgeable in servers, user management, DNS, IP management, spam protection, etc etc etc, maybe our own internal hosted exchange would still be an option.

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 22 10.18 So, for about a year, most of our users, including myself, have been using Outlook on our laptops, and setting up email accounts via IMAP and POP.  There are certainly good arguments and bennies for using Outlook (or some other desktop based PIM for that matter) but, I wanted to try getting away from Outlook entirely.  I was finding that Outlook was constantly freezing, so slow, taking up massive computer resources, etc.  Maybe someday we will get away entirely from Microsoft Office?  Maybe to save precious donated funds we will move to the totally free and very capable OpenOffice.org?  Hmmm…

I have not opened Outlook in a month!  I am loving it!  There remain some lagging desires to return to my beloved Outlook, and I don’t know what will happen in the long term, but for now and for the foreseeable future, I will be avoiding Outlook.  I have been using Google Apps (very similar to gmail, but only for our domain).  It hasn’t all been rosy, there are some limitations, but to be honest, it is no contest at this point.    I have set up my Google Apps mail page to include tasks, contacts, calendar, tags, google chat.

My goal is to provide as trouble free as possible service to our people wherever they are with slow or fast internet connections.  Interestingly, we have one missionary in Haiti, that has also found great success only using the web-based Google interface.

The obvious questions are…

google gears What about when the internet is down?  Google Gears is Google’s answer to this.  I have had some headaches, but Google offers offline access, so you can still work on your Google stuff if you don’t have a connection. 

What are the limitations?  You are dependent on Google being “up”.  Well, there have been unique situations, but the reality is they are “up” 99%+ of the time.

What about Spam?  Not really an issue.  Some sneak through, but Google does a great job.

What about providing tech support to our missionaries?  Well, because it is Google, there are many online helps and forums for users to find a solution to their own problems.

What am I still frustrated with?  Google is constantly upgrading their tools, but there are some issues. 

  • True contact sharing among users isn’t available.  This is a no brainer.  To be honest, Google Contacts needs some work.  There are some inherent limitations that are annoying.
  • Google Gears offline access sometimes “hiccups”.  I am trying to get a handle on it. 
  • Google tagging vs. folders.  Google’s tagging is probably superior, but it takes some getting used to.
  • Tasks.  I am a huge tasks list user.  I would be lost without it.  Google Tasks is very new, so it lacks some bells and whistles, but I am finding it quite capable.  But, it needs some more work.
  • No “Push” email for mobile devices.  I can get around this, but I really want “push”.
  • With all due respect… It is not easy to teach other Old Dogs New Tricks…
  • POP Accounts in Google mail are slow to download.  You can tell it to go check, but they only check according to some internal algorithm that analyzes how often that POP account typically gets mail.

What do I like about it?

  • All of my information (tasks, contacts, email, calendar) is available to me via any computer and any internet connection in the world.
  • Threaded discussions.  Email’s that are related to one another (fwd and replies) are all threaded together.  They stay together.  Hard to explain if you haven’t seen it, but nice.
  • ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 22 10.18 Sharing.  Google is all about sharing.  Sharing on Google calendar is awesome.  Internally and Externally.  There are many many 3rd parties that integrate with Google.
  • Users.  Online user management is so easy for me, the domain manager.  I can add/delete users, add aliases, and many other things very easy.
  • No 3rd party syncing tools necessary.
  • Push over-the-air syncing with mobile devices.  No email yet (argh), but for contacts and calendar, if I add/change/delete a contact or calendar event on my phone, the contact/calendar event is instantly updated in Google.  Very cool indeed.
  • IMAP email available if necessary.
  • Domain Management.  I have set up the system for all of our users to use the following urls…  By adjusting the CNAME records with our web host, I have set up start.rminet.org, calendar.rminet.org, docs.rminet.org, mail.rminet.org.  See a pattern?  For a meticulously particular person like me, this is nice.
  • Docs.  Again, there are some limitations, but utilizing and sharing Google Docs within our domain/users is great for sharing and collaborating.  More than once a missionary and I have in real time been editing documents at the same time.  I also especially love the ability to create web based forms to embed anywhere online to collect data.  I have integrated these forms in the RMI website.
  • POP accounts in Google Mail.  I have created an easy system for Google Apps email to also manage and filter my other POP email accounts.  Works really well (except for delayed checking as stated above).
  • Tasks.  I can easily create a task from an email.
  • Labs.  Constantly Google is offering new functionality.  Love it!
  • No Outlook.  Again, Outlook was a memory hog.  I don’t have the headache anymore.

It is not perfect, but for now, for me, a web-based system with Google Apps is clearly the way to go.  I will let you know if I change my mind.

Rob

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Drew Likes to Jump…

For more pics from Drew’s 4th’s Pool/Pirate Birthday Party, click here.  Videos will come when I get time…

From Drew's Birthday Party March 2009

I am sick…no fun…

sore throat My sore throat feels like it is swollen to the size of a watermelon.  I worked all day yesterday because I had to (poor me), but today I am staying home from Drew’s Soccer game (poor me) to “rest” and not spread my germs to the world.

I am thinking of all kinds of spiritual metaphors for being sick and staying home, but I will leave that for another day…

Rob

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Drew!

Drew for email

It’s hard to believe he was this tiny once!

IMG_4673 

Drew at his 1st Birthday party—it’s amazing how much they grow in one year!

IMG_7957 

Drew got a tricycle for his 2nd birthday and was riding it like a speed demon in just a few weeks!  Still a little baby-face, but growing fast!

 IMG_4123 

By his 3rd birthday, most of the baby face is gone, and he’s proud to be a big boy.

IMG_9165

It’s hard to believe Drew is 4 years old already.  He is now all boy-- no baby left to him.  He grew taller this past year!

We are so blessed to be Drew’s parents!  We love you Drew!

~Becky

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spirit Airlines Offensive Advertising…

Warning, below I sound like a grumpy old man.  There, I warned you…

Here is what I just submitted to Spirit Airlines to complain again about their inappropriate and offensive advertising.

“Your current sale verbage in your "threesome" ads are inappropriate! Threesome? Please please please refrain from such sexual innuendo.  It may sell tickets, but it will surely also send others away. 

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 19 14.56I can't believe you have "Offended by Promotional Ad" as one of the drop down items to choose from in the topic drop down in the form above.  Therefore, you are quite aware and acknowledge that you are offending people, yet you do it anyway.

This can't be the image you are wanting to portray for your company.  Please?”

Previously, they responded to the same type of complaint with the following response…  (I underlined the words for emphasis)

“(Karla Romero) - 07/11/2008 10:50 AM
Dear Mr. Thompson,
Thank you for writing in and letting us know your feelings and thoughts about one of our new marketing campaigns World Travelers Fares (WTF). I apologize that you find this campaign of concern. There are a lot of edgier campaigns out in the marketplace and in popular culture today. We've received a lot of positive feedback and people are taking advantage of our low fares for our many destinations.
Thank you again for taking the time to write us and we look forward to serving you on a future flight.
Sincerely,
Karla Romero
Corporate Customer Relations
Spirit Airlines”

A reference to the “F” word is hardly less edgier than other campaigns in the Marketplace.

Rob

IE8 officially now available.

ScreenHunter_04 Mar. 19 13.15 You may use Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome… but I am still living in my Microsoft World and use Internet Explorer.  Finally IE8 is out of beta and available today.  I have been using IE7 because Google maps was broken with IE8 beta.  But, now it looks great!

Don’t you feel better now that you know this?

Rob

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

theSlice March 2009 posted…

slice We have posted the latest version of "theSlice" here.  Take a look!

Rob and Becky

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We watched the Shuttle Launch…

So, we always try and watch the shuttle on Nasa TV online.  The kids love it, and so do I!  Tonight was especially cool because it was dark.  The best part was that I stepped out back to see if we could see it, and sure enough there it was.  I was quite surprised actually!  So, the whole family went back there and squealed with glee as we saw it continue up.  It was like a bright orange dot of fire followed by the smoke trail.  Here is a pic, although it didn’t really capture what we saw.IMG_9318

Rob

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandmom!

To watch in HD, click play below, then choose HD at the bottom. To watch it large in HD click here (requires a fast connection).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Our RMI Missionaries…

I really appreciate the time that I had to spend with our RMI Missionaries.  Billy and Debbie and their 2 girls Savana and McKenna, and Gary and Marilyn, are working hard down there serving the Lord.  I respect their sacrifice.  I respect their ministry.  It was neat to listen and learn.  I learned a lot about them and a lot about their daily routines.  I shared a little as well.  They have vey unique-to-Haiti struggles and joys, unlike what most of you my readers experience.  Yet, they are no different than us.

Their care and encouragement to me was so appreciated.  I was well taken care of.  Thank you Debbie, you are responsible for most of the meals and making me comfortable at the RMI Guest House.

I didn’t lose weight while I was here.  I ate and I ate and I ate.  I learned that I love avocado with some Italian dressing on it.  I learned that I really like Tampico (a store bought Haitian made fruit juice).  I learned the recipe for an amazing fruit juice made with Papaya and Banana… yum!  The Fried Chicken, pancakes, eggs, bacon, wings and Tacos were a nice touch of home.

We had a great time and accomplished much.  More on what we accomplished later.

Rob

Motorcycle ride into the country…

As is often the case, when in Haiti, I get to ride a dirt bike.  Pretty cool for someone who never rides in the US (what I mean is that a certain someone wouldn’t allow me to ride in the US!).

This time, I had opportunity to go out once again into the valley behind the mission center for a quick ride with Gary McLaughlin (one of RMI’s missionaries).  Don’t worry Billy, if you are nice, next time we will invite you along…

It was a fun ride.  We did it while the sun was going down, so it was neat to see the landscape of Haitian life as reflected in their fields and farming, rivers and roads, homes, hills, mountains, valleys, cattle and people, against the back drop of a colorful sun-setting sky. 

Every kid along the way that saw us, realizing we were white, wanted us to stop and help them.  Pretty typical.

We rode out to a church that is in the Cance District (Cance is one of our RMI Sister Churches).  This was one of Cance’s satellite churches.  When we got there, we had the opportunity to greet a group of ladies in the church as well as the pastor.  I tried out my Creole on them.  I failed.  They laughed.  But they appreciated it… I think.

On the way back, Gary let me ride his motorcycle.  I was riding a 200, but his is a 400.  It was fun to get some more power and size underneath of me.  Fun!

Rob

I have a new cell phone # and phone…

No, I did not get rid of my iPhone.  My new cell phone is for use only in Haiti.  My # is an 11 digit number.  Kind of strange…  509-3805-XXXX.  I am not giving out the number because of international rates, but isn’t that weird to have a 4 digit exchange (3805)?

Next time I go back, I will be able to make and receive calls.  Very cool.  I may not be able to use it to update Facebook, Twitter, check my email, post to my blog or surf the web, but it will be nice to be able to “reach out and touch someone” while I am in Haiti next time.

Communication is everything, right?

Rob

At the Les Cayes airport going home.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Confronted by realities…

As I look around me, I am awed at the breadth of opportunity for being the hands and feet of Jesus here.  I am confronted with the realities of wealth, and the realities of poverty.  Traveling from the financially richest economy in the world to one of the poorest, is never easy, and is always perspective altering.  People loved by God, yet broken, lost and confused, within of these realities, need the love of the body of Christ.  I want my desire to be as Paul’s, “I no longer view anyone from a worldly perspective”.  I want to see people as Jesus sees them.

My soul is singing along with Matt Redman’s Fearfully and Wonderfully made…

“Reminded…
You gave me this breath…
and you gave me this strength…
and every day I live to obey you…
with all of my heart…
with all of my soul…
Let every breath I breathe in this place…God
So what am I gonna do in this life…
So what am I gonna do in these days you ordained
So what am I gonna do in this life……God”

Oh God, show us how to confront and minister as you would.  May our hands and feet be worn and calloused as we seek, save, heal, love and serve the broken…  Matthew 25:37-45.

From Haiti,

Rob

On the road to Haiti...

Becky was awake with Braden...and SHE has a fever! Pray for her.