What is a Trader?

I’ve watched this YouTube video a number of times, and it still makes me think every time I watch it.  I even used it in one of my lessons for our adult Sunday School class earlier this summer.

Are you a trader?

Textured Touchscreen?

The other week we finally gave in and bought an iPad2. I don’t know how Fry’s can sell them for so much less than everyone else – but hey, savings for us! We got it primarily for the number of educational apps available for kids and toddlers (though that didn’t stop me from immediately loading it up with some of my favorite free apps). Wow, it wasn’t too many years ago that no one would have thought that such technology would be appropriate for toddlers.

Well, I downloaded a handful of free and cheap apps for toddlers and introduced them to MeiMei (younger sister) while JieJie (older sister) wanted to play her apps/games as well as MM’s too. [I haven’t finalized what pseudonyms I’ll be using for the two daughters on this blog yet, so these names might change.]

Well, although MM still has occasional confusion when she needs to just touch something vs. dragging an object, she has quickly gotten the hang of a number of activities on the “I Patch”, as she calls it, and has been wanting to play on it every day. She’s doing well at colors and shapes. She’s figured out how to methodically get through the counting and memory matching portions, even though she’s not actually counting or doing memory matching yet. The app wants her to touch the number of objects that is requested. She just rapidly touches all of them until the game says “good job!”. For memory matching, she methodically touches the first card, then the next card, then the first card again and the following card down the row until a match is made. She figured that out all on her own.

Unfortunately, something else that she tends to do everyday is stick her fingers in her nose (and pulling out numerous discoveries). To be funny, she’ll stick an index finger in each nostril at the same time, and giggle. When her fingers go directly from her nose to the screen of the iPad before I can stop her…. ew.

Thus the title of this post. And my having to wipe down the screen when she’s done playing on the iPad. And I haven’t told JJ about MM’s boogers on the iPad yet. Because you know JJ will yell out, “Oh GROSS!”

Technology In Remote Places

Back in June, there was a CNN story describing how the tiny island nation of Tokelau received the Web, along with having a huge web presence: The Tiny Island with a Huge Web Presence

This reminded me of what many of our field workers face to reach the people groups, long and challenging journeys to get to and from the villages. That, plus the concerns of using and maintaining technology in these remote locations.

Here’s several examples of what we can do with technology in remote locations!

Continue reading “Technology In Remote Places”

The Lectern

Since I praised the quality of work that our volunteer carpenters do, let me share another of their creations.

Two and a half years ago, as we were doing more and more multimedia/PowerPoint presentations, we realized that the tiny lectern we were using no longer met our needs. People were either trying to balance their laptop on its small surface, or putting the laptop on a small typewriter cart next to the lectern.  Then they’d have to lean or hunch over to advance their slides.

A church that started to rent our facilities for their Sunday services offered to bring in their old lectern – a giant and incredibly heavy thing. We quickly realized that it would over-dominate our small (movable) platform and be nearly immovable once put in place. We had to decline their offer.

I had searched online to see what kinds of lecterns were available for purchase. After getting “sticker-shock”, I pulled out an old idea I had started to sketch of what I was looking for in a lectern for our needs.  Continue reading “The Lectern”

Confidence Monitors

Theaters, auditoriums, and churches often have video screens which are above or behind the person doing the presentation on the stage. That means the presenter has to turn around (facing his/her back to the audience) to verify or see what’s on the screen. That awkwardness has led to “confidence monitors” or screens on the back wall of the room for the presenter to see. This set up is also helpful for churches with worship singers – being able to read the lyrics without having to turn their backs to the congregation to verify what verse is being displayed (or if they have forgotten the lyrics!). In this manner, the people on stage can focus on what they’re supposed to be doing, and not on what the technology is doing.

Our multipurpose large group meeting room configuration does not lend itself to an easy way of displaying a confidence monitor in the back of the room without it being ugly or intrusive. When large group meetings and conferences intersect with the desire to support video conferencing and multimedia, sometimes the solution just takes a bit of brainstorming to give them confidence monitors and a way of interacting with remote presenters over video conferencing. Continue reading “Confidence Monitors”

What Kind of Projector?

Last week, I decided to take a little break from my database work to clean up a few things in my office.  A number of years ago, a local church had donated their old slide projectors and accessories to us.  Those projectors just sat and sat, gathering dust.  I finally dug up a couple of slides so that I could test the things.  Ah good, they still work.  But now what do I do with ’em?

Knowing that as soon as we toss something that’s obsolete, someone comes walking into our department asking for help and has a need for that very thing we just tossed out… I decide to keep one, just in case.  But what to do with rest of the gear?  I emailed the Archives department to see whether they could have a need for a slide projector.  I get a reply that they could eventually use one.  Okay, so I clean off some of the dust and put together some accessories, then go to lunch. Continue reading “What Kind of Projector?”

Missionaries and Microphones

After many years of running sound systems in churches and at work for meetings, conferences and special events, I’ve seen a great variety of microphone usage and misuse.  Often it was just a matter of the person not being aware of or not having been shown proper microphone technique.

Several years ago, I finally wrote a document, titled “Missionaries and Microphones”, to help missionaries (really, any person that will do public speaking) use microphones properly and effectively; thus the file name and subtitle, “Proper Microphone Technique”.

I share this 2 page PDF document in hopes that others will benefit from this information: Proper Microphone Technique.

Econo Video Conferencing

One of the things I do at work is manage our organization’s video conferencing systems. Being a non-profit, we often go for ‘what works’ since the budget often isn’t much.

One of our program directors was an early adopter of video conferencing, but couldn’t justify buying a dedicated Lifesize video conferencing unit like the one we have in the Executive Director’s conference room.

So, last year, using a wall-mounted 42″ HDTV that has a PC (VGA) input, we connected an obsolete (but still decent) laptop computer sitting on a small surplus end table. I got the metal side panel from an old Dell desktop PC case, flattened it, folded it over for additional strength, drilled holes to match the mounting points where the original TV stand would mount, spray painted it basic black and bolted the new “shelf” to the TV. Continue reading “Econo Video Conferencing”