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gadgets

Wednnsdays tool and gadget used in children’s ministry

It is that time again where I would like to share with you a tool that I have come to find incredibly useful. That tool would be my iPad.

I will briefly list ways that i use my iPad and by no means is this an exhaustive list. I would love to hear other ways that maybe you have found to use yours. This post could also help serve as the “push” for those of you wondering is getting an iPad an idea that would be beneficial for you.

Here is my list:
1. Secondary Desktop Display. Air Display will make your iPad a second screen for your Mac.

2. Access your mac remotely. There are a ton of services out there that allow you to do this, and will also allow you to work from your iPad to your desktop. Among many choices, I like LogMeIn Ignition ($30 if you want to configure as little as possible) and iTeleport ($25), plus VNC Viewer ($10) if you want to manually set it up. You’ll first configure the PC with a server utility (or an option built into the OS) first, then you can connect anywhere.

3. Reading books. This has become my number one way to read books, e-books. Reading this way allows me to not have extra weight of the printed book, books sync to furthest place read on all my devices, and many more reasons to make the switch. You can check out a couple more of my blogs where I talk more about ebooks, here, and here, and here.

4. Print from iPad and not have to carry big MacBook Pro around. Several apps download network or online files to the iPad and can send them to a printer. Some apps even edit documents first, but many are difficult to use.

I had the best luck with PrintCentral, one of many printing tools from the same developer. (The vendor created a chart to explain all the different offerings, but it would have been most helpful to make a single, great app.) You’ll install a print server utility on a Mac or PC, and PrintCentral uses it to reach your local or network printer.

4. Looking over web content offline. Whether you have a 3G version or not, your iPad faces certain situations where it can’t be online: planes, train tunnels, and other network-not-found destinations. You can still keep up on all of your favorite Websites with Instapaper Pro ($5). This tool manages content you want to read later and caches articles for times that you’re offline.

Instead of directly browsing content you want to save, Instapaper interfaces with several computer and iPad apps. Within those tools—Safari, Google Reader, NetNewsWire, Twitterrific, Tweetie, and more—you’ll hit a Read Later button that sends details to Instapaper.

Load Instapaper once, when you have a network connection, and it downloads all of those stories. Then, you can dig deep into those articles from any location, with or without a network. This saves me a ton of time.

5. Increased Productivity. File management–get Goodreader (misnamed horribly), which allows you to support a folder/file structure, import documents from the cloud, and open documents in appropriate applications, such as pages. TaskPro or Todo Queue for task management, iThoughtsHD–a terrific mind mapping application, Evernote and so many more apps. This area keeps changing for me all the time.

6. Connecting iPad to a projector. While traveling or going across town to speak a children’s pastor network luncheon, I find it very convenient to grab the ipad and my Apple VGA cable and hook into their projector when I get there.

7. Photo editing on the iPad. Since my iPhone and all the apps that go with it to make it a better camera has become my number one go to camera, I find that editing on my iPad is now becoming my go to editing studio. Plus with my new ipad it comes with a camera as well.

There are so many more uses that I have found to prove the reason I have picked today as my tool to mention on Gadget/Tool Wednesdays. Let me know how you may use yours?

Skype a tool I use in children’s ministry

Skype is a tool that I have found several uses for in children’s ministry. I use Skype throughout the week to be more productive and a better task manager.

How I use it in children’s ministry?
My volunteers have a variety of schedules as I am sure yours do as well. Instead of asking everyone to make their way to the church or a restaurant etc. I now get to ask them to just jump on Skype from their own home even. Now people save their gas, single parents don’t need to worry about babysitters, parents who work later don’t have to try to slam down some food into their kids before they drive to the meeting. Instead everyone gets to just jump on from their own house or some use their smart phone and the Skype app and jump on from a coffee shop or any place they may be.

Talk with kids. Announce a time you are going to be on and encourage kids who can to jump on from home or their friends homes and talk with you. This opens up several opportunities for evangelism as the kids invite their unsaved friends and you get to practice friendship evangelism.

Coaching is another way. I am a National coach with Kidology and this is how I touch base every week with those who are participating in coaching.

How about you? Do you use Skype and if so how?

Happy Birthday iPhone. How you have changed the game.

The Apple iPhone turned 5 this week. In that short amount of time, the phone has made a huge impact on the world as we know it. In fact, the iPhone is probably the most influential consumer electronics product ever made. Here are some ways that I have uncovered from several sources that I believe will help me to show why I feel the iPhone has been such a game changer.

Game changer 1: When Apple shipped the iPhone in 2007, its radical design and incredible popularity caused not a ripple, but a tidal wave of change throughout the mobile phone industry. The iPhone prompted cellular makers to abandon physical keyboards in favor of all-screen input and make thinner phones with better screens capable of multi-touch input.

Game changer 2: Changed the world of software distribution. Before the iPhone, installing phone apps was relatively complicated and filled with problems. You had to find a good store online, download the app to a desktop computer and follow the unique and often complicated directions for installation to the phone, which happened through the sync process. Each app maker had to be paid using PayPal or credit card. Uninstalling apps was rarely straightforward.

The iPhone radically improved the processing for discovering, installing, paying for and uninstalling software. The process was so seamless and easy that it forced Apple-style App Stores on smart phone competitors and even desktop-software makers like Microsoft.

Game changer 3: Made the world safe for software keyboards.
Before the iPhone, the idea of using an on-screen keyboard on a phone or tablet seemed unimaginable. The biggest first complaint with the iPhone itself was about the screen-based keyboard. Rather than giving users what they were screaming for, which was an add-on, peripheral or third-party range of physical keyboards, Apple deliberately made sure they were unavailable.

Apple dragged the user community kicking and screaming into the future of keyboards. After a couple of years, everybody got used to the idea.

Game changer 4: Killed the stylus as a mainstream input device
It’s hard to imagine now, but before the iPhone, most smart phones had little pens for writing and pushing on-screen buttons. They were clunky, and easy to lose. They may still exist but they serve more as a sign of a dinosaur than as a tool for efficiency.

Game changer 5: Opened the door for PC-to-Mac Switchers.
The majority of iPhone users were Windows users. This device gradually introduce PC users to Apple’s way of doing things. They get people into Apple stores. The constant iTunes updates bring people to the Apple web site. Eventually, PC users make the switch, but not after being softened by one of Apple’s mobile devices.

Game changer 6: The iPhone changed everything. By introducing the idea of the app and an all-screen multi-touch interface, it changed the future of smartphones forever.

The introduction of the App Store in the second generation iPhone 3G changes things again, and created a platform for third-party developers to reach their target customers.

All it required was an iTunes account and credit card and all you needed to do to install a new app on your phone was to press Install. Simple.

Google quickly followed suit with the Android Market (now Google Play) and Microsoft has the Windows Marketplace.

Game changer 7: Apple created a device that was part iPod, part phone, part portable games console, part internet portal and combined it in a beautifully designed unit which was easy to use. And, despite five years of trying, no other manufacturer has quite managed to match this combination.

I will stop with these 7 ways that the iPhone has been a game changer. The Apple iPhone may be the most influential consumer gadget ever, changing the way phones work, changing the way people see the world and changing human culture. Not bad for just five years.

Happy birthday iPhone and thanks for how you have assisted and at times dragged some into a much better way of things.

My Kidmin tools – simply put

Over the years I have observed many people that others might call “successful” in their area of work or life and have learned that: The better one becomes at their area of expertise, the more simple and steady the tools one uses becomes.

What does this mean to you or what does it really look like when fleshed out? It could mean that you need to take a look at the simplicity or complexity of the tools you are using. More is not always better. I truly believe there is a direct relationship between the quantity of tools that you use and the quality of your productivity. Less is more.

Here are just a few places within my blog where you can watch this journey of mine through the different stages of learning about the importance of simplifying. Check them out. To read even more on this topic or to walk through this journey with me, go ahead and put the word “Productivity” in my search field and further your learning journey.

Fewer Gathering Places. The importance of not just simplifying your tools but the places of storage or collecting papers etc. throughout the day. Learn this process for quicker and more efficient productivity.

Not as much about the tool as it is about you. Through this simplifying journey of mine I have read great posts of wonderful tools, and many I re-tweet or re-post as well. For those who advertise all the great tools they are using to simplify their life, months later I read of their life out of control. Read on and learn what I pick up from these lessons.

Lessons on focus. Here is one that is not about tools at all but your focus. Simplifying your focus with fewer tools will make you more effective with those tools. Simplifying your focus into the top 20% of what only you can do and delegate out the rest will help you become more effective as well.

I will end this post with this thought: Have you become too complex with the tools you use that were supposed to make life more simpler? Have you become too overburdened by all the task and projects that you take on? How can you simplify and become more productive by having and doing less for the purpose of having and doing more, better?

TagMyDoc a great tool for conferences and more

I have been using TagMyDoc while it has been in beta and I have come to truly love it. Check out this video.

TagMyDoc is a free service that allows you to add a tag to any document so that you can instantly share it with anyone that scans it with a mobile device.

TagMyDoc allows you to add a tag to any document that you have on your computer or device so that when you print it, anyone can scan the tag on the document with their mobile device to download the digital version. It just works in one click with most file formats. It even works with digital documents! I am able to walk up to any computer and scan and go.

So now next time you head off to attend a children’s ministry conference, local children’s pastors network, or do some of your weekly networking, make sure you have loaded on your iPhone this incredibly fast QR reader and you have signed up for the free account.

This is just another great tool that allows me to stay mobile. Check out the other tools as well here and here.

My daily tools used to stay mobile prt 2

In case you have not read my first post on this topic start here first.

Now that you have read the first part here are some more daily tools that I use to stay mobile.

JotNot Pro.
Here is a great app that I can snap a photo of all my receipts and then email them or save them in Evernote or Dropbox and share with my secretary so she can then file them or get me reimbursed. But no longer do i have to go into an office to get this done.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smartr-contacts-for-iphone/id492744572?ls=1&mt=8
This free app automatically creates rich profiles for all your contacts, including communication history and updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Note: A Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Xobni for Outlook account is required. me.com or iCloud mail support is coming soon!

Here are some ways you can use Smartr Contacts for your personal and professional life:
– Keep track of all the people you’ve ever communicated with – automatically
– Always know who you’re communicating with photos and recent communication history
– See what’s up with your top contents in the home screen’s social carousel
– Call, email or SMS someone with a single tap
– Stay up to date with updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
– See who you have in common with everyone
– Bring all your contacts together into one place
– Protect your contacts in the cloud, so should you lose your phone, all your contacts are safe and secure

Lynda
Here is an app that keeps me in the know through video training on numerous subjects. I also provide this for my team as well. So when I am sitting waiting for an appointment I can log into my account and learn the newest photoshop skills, or final cut, or Keynote presentation tips or more. I am constantly being a great steward of my churches time.

TeleNav GPS
3D maps with live traffic flow, turn-by-turn directions with manual rerouting, local search, cheap gas price finder and more. Now with Facebook integration & enhanced map discovery. This keeps me on the road and in the know of where I am going and how to get there.

iAttendance
Do you find yourself searching for paper and pencil to keep track of attendance for your social group? Do you help out with a Bible club and need to track participation? Or, the person every Sunday who tries to keep track of attendance at Sunday School? This app allows me to be away from my church data base and still keep track of who is coming.

There is part 2. Hang in there for part 3 coming your way soon.

3 Tools that helped me keep my sanity

This past week or two has been one of those where I felt the whole time I was just running from one thing to another. But now as I sit here this morning looking over the past couple weeks evaluating them I have come to a realization, there were 3 tools that I used over and over that helped me keep my sanity. I would like to just quickly highlight them today in my first post since the crazy season took place for me. It just seems appropriate. Let’s start.

Dropbox is tool number one. Here is a tool that I have come to love and enjoy and is a daily tool for me. I use it in my coaching as my way between my student and myself to work on stuff and get real time updates of when items are changed or added from those I share folders with. I enjoy that it also has an iPhone and iPad app as well. It is very easy to use.

Evernote tool number two. Evernote has become my all in all file system. I no longer keep paper files but scan or send everything to Evernote. I love the search feature and how it can even identify text in pictures as well. I have it set up with my twitter account to store great items that are posted in twitter as well. In my coaching I go over this tool in great depth with all the ways to use it.

SugarSync is the last of the three but no means the “last” in importance. Here is a tool that syncs all my devices that I choose to sync. It keeps my iPad, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro all updated with one another without me having to think about syncing. I have my desktops synced, documents, music and on some devices I have photos etc all done as well.

With all 3 of these tools the common denominator is I can be productive regardless of what device I am using. I have access to all my devices from any one of my devices. I do not need to take more storage up on some devices that I do not have as much storage on while using these tools, but still can get to any of the items I needs regardless of if it is a video, document, slide presentation etc.

So these past couple weeks I contribute my sanity in large part to these 3 tools.

Your skills vs. New Gadgets

I am such an early adopter of new technology, gadgets, etc. This has it’s pro’s and cons but one thing I see happen all the time as I go places and speak is when I share about this new toy tool there is a look that overcomes many in the room. It is this look of, “If I was to just buy that thing that he is talking about it would solve all my problems. This look I have seen overcome people from the times I speak about cloud technology to software to phones and more.

Seriously I have seen people so convinced that they would save so much time by getting things like a new computer, PDA (remember those things) or smartphone. Many people go through life thinking and believing this dream of how each new piece of technology is that solve all soulution that will finally put an end to all their problems–completely oblivious to the amount of time they will need to invest in switching from one device or one piece of software to the next. Their fundamental problem isn’t their tools. Their problem is their skill set.

In reality improving your skill set may not be any harder than trying to learn to use a new tool, but the difficulty of learning a new gadget or software is often hidden in the “new toy syndrome.” Something can seem exciting and fresh simply because it is different and it provides that rush of a feeling that you have conquered your issue (whatever that may be). It is enforced more by the feeling you get as you try to convince everyone that you are important enough or at least as important as so and so who introduced you to the new tool to warrant a $400 investment in the latest phone (this is one I am currently struggling with as Verizon has come out with their iPhone).
This feeling makes it easy to overlook just how much time you will be investing in something new. This feeling makes it seem like you are investing less time that you would have in increasing your skill to get the same level of benefit. Not always!! Snap out of it!! Come back before it is too late and you are driven into this delusion and it becomes too late and your check book shows it.

Here you have a guy lets call him Matt. Matt has this iPad that he loves and really does a ton from it. He is sharing with one of his buddies about how he loves this tool and could become more efficient in writting kids curriculum if he could learn to type on it quicker. So his buddy mentions to him that their is a great external key board he could pick up for only $99.00. But this would give him the ability to type faster. Matt goes to buy it and while he is in his online shopping cart he notices a great bag to hold the keyboard in. The bag is only another $30.00. He is worth this price, I mean he doesn’t want to lose the keyboard or drop it. But then there it is, he finds another great tool to help with typing up curriculum and it is some voice software where he could hook it up and speak and it would type for him. So he throws this in the online shopping cart.

Back at church he talks the financial person into buying a $250 microphone. Matt works on training the software and starts trying to use it in place of typing but when he needs to type he has in this great bag and wonderful external keyboard.

After a while Matt is going to realize that talking into the iPad doesn’t really make him as fast as he had hoped. He will either continue using the speech recognition software because it is marginally better than typing for him, or he will decide he dislikes voice transcription even more than he hates typing and go back to the slow and awkward tablet typing for himself.

This is where “Skills or New Tools” are really called on for a proper decision.

Matt could have spent the same amount time and less money in working on his tablet typing (by buying maybe a .99 app) and had become more proficient. Instead of buying the external keyboard, bag, and voice software. Bottom line that I try to get people to think through is watch becoming distracted by all the great tools out there and avoid not improving your current skills.

(I am in no way saying not get new gadgets, because as stated already I love technology and gadgets. I am just suggesting challenge yourself as to the reason why you want the new toy? Will this new gadget help improve your skills dramatically or can your skills improve without this gadget? ) Good questions to ask as the economy gets tighter for those of us in children’s ministry.

Evernote and Gift ideas

I was touching base with one of my Kidology Coaching Protegees yesterday, when he was sharing how he loves one of the tools that I take everyone through – Evernote.

I have 26 tabs set up for each of the 12 units I cover as part of my material I cover with my Coaching Protegees with each tab as one of the letters of the alphabet. With tab “W” it stands for “Whatchamacallit“. This is the tab I introduce different types of technologies that would be useful in helping you in Children’s Ministry. One of those tools I teach them is called: Evernote. This was the tool that I am referring to that one of my great protegees has really grabbed ahold of using to become more productive. Here is basically what he shared with me on how he currently used it.

There is a person in his church who is an influential person in his community and church. While this person was talking and sharing what everyone else felt was not note worthy, this protegee caught the significance of what was taking place and posted in his Evernote account books that this influential person was mentioning they wanted to get some day. Now when my protegee friend is at a book store they have a way to retrieve the list of books this person is desiring and can purchase one now as gift to give away.

Great job my young Jedi Kidology Protegee. The force is definitely strong with you. The great news is that this tool is available for everyone to use for free or paid determining how much you will create and store in it. If you choose to start using it or are already using it feel free to post ways that you use it.

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