Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?

Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?
Picture of Emily wearing Glass outside

Photo courtesy of Google

Google’s most interesting product right now was noticeably absent from its I/O conference this year. But we have been seeing it everywhere else. And many people have an opinion on Google Glass, the glasses that give you instant access to the internet. When Google Glass was first launched last year, I received a lot of emails of people who were doubtful to say the least. And I have to admit that I was absolutely one of them.

So, what is this Glass thing anyway and why would you want to have it? Well, Google Glass is like the rim of a pair of glasses that is supported by your nose and ears. But that is where the traditional part stops. Google Glass has a camera and a small screen that allows you to access information from the internet or share pictures.

It is easy to dismiss Google Glass as something that is intrusive and that will never be used by lots of people in real life. However, that would be short selling the technology at hand. It might just be that Google Glass is the next big thing after the invention of the mobile phone. Yes, I skipped tablets and smartphones altogether. The thing is that the impact Google Glass can have on society is much bigger than we imagine. And I am not moving towards privacy issues or being out of tune with reality. After experiencing Google Glass, the change might be in a completely different place.

Over the past years, a lot of people have been talking about augmented reality. This is where information is added from online sources to compliment the world around you. Google Glass allows you to add information from online sources as you go about your life. The good part is that, even though the person across from you might think you look strange, Google Glass will not actually be in your eye-sight. It will be slightly out to the top right of it. This allows you to look anyone straight in the eye, even though you might be getting extra information. How about using that possibility instead of fumbling with your papers at your next presentation or sermon? Or how about getting that information to help you navigate through a town without having to look at your phone and subsequently missing a step in the road.

These are just practical solutions that are in existence at the moment. But I strongly believe more will come. Wearable electronics will become bigger in the coming five years. We will also see more solutions that will add extra information to everyday life as we move around. The interesting question comes when we ask ourselves, so how can we use this?

Last week a surgeon used Google Glass in the operating room to share with others what he was doing. How can we apply this to the way in which we are church within our community? Would it help our personal lives to project scriptures at certain places in the city? Can it do more for ministers than showing their sermon notes? Or can the possibility of Google Glass give a whole new meaning to discipleship and walking together? I believe we are at the start of this new technology, but I think that in 10 years our children might find it strange that there was a time when it did not exist.

Update: A couple of hours after we published this blogpost, Google released an update for Google Glass now allowing the owners to launch a webbrowser, to access their full address book from Gmail, and to use more voice commands.

Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

buildLast Wednesday, Microsoft held its Build conference for Windows developers in California. Obivously, Microsoft has been king of the hill in desktop computing for many years. However, Apple has gained momentum with more and more people working from Apple computers. A lot of that gain has come from the days when Apple launched its iPhone, which quickly integrated into our everyday lives. The ease of use of the iPhone also got a lot of people to change over to Apple computers. And that includes many people in churches and ministries that used to be heavy Windows users before. And it has become time for Microsoft to win back the crowds.

So, did Microsoft manage to do it? Well, it has been off to a good start. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the keynote by explaining how Microsoft has been hard at work to create synergy between devices. He ran through all the different devices that are now powered by one form of Windows or another and stated that he did not know whether he should be calling them PC’s anymore. He concluded that by stating that he called them “All Windows, all of the time”. And that sums up what Microsoft is trying to achieve quite well. Obviously, we need to see how things will pan out over time, but the first steps are there. Also, Steve Ballmer introduced Microsoft’s new way of working, which is to release quicker and and more often to serve its users better.

Is it working? Well, Build 2013 was full of news, though it was more of a mix of consumer and technical information than Apple’s WWDC or Google’s I/O. But the important things are that the start button will be back for Windows on the desktop and that many tweaks and changes promise it will be nicer to work with.

One of the nicer things though, is gestures. From this update on, it will be possible to control certain things from making gestures at your computer. No special hardware is needed, the webcam in your laptop or desktop will suffice. It was nicely demonstrated by flipping the page on an online cookbook without getting dirty fingers on the screen. But imagine the freedom this can give to preachers that use powerpoint, to control their slides themselves, without holding awkward remotes all through the sermon.
Also, quick sharing between Windows devices will enable you to broadcast items from your computer to another system without delay, as demonstrated by a video that was started on a desktop, but broadcasted out to an Xbox -Microsoft’s game console- and played on a large television. Broadcasting over several devices is not new. Apple has its Airplay and Google has been working on something along similar lines as well. But the great news is that features like this, will help you to easily mix technology in with your story to make it an even more powerful experience.

And that is the great news that has come out of the three big developer conferences. Integrating technology in everyday life is going to be easier still. Obviously, this leaves us the challenge of finding the best ways to integrate it into telling our story to the world.

(And for those of you feeling adventurous, you can download the Windows 8.1 Preview already. Just remember it is for testing only, not for your daily work yet.)

Instagram launches video for Instagram – 15 seconds to touch people

Instagram launches video for Instagram – 15 seconds to touch people

Instagram-workflow-videoOn Thursday the 20th, Instagram launched video as their latest addition to their services. It is a very powerful system that allows you to post little videos of what you are seeing with the push of a button. It is almost like a tiny ‘broadcasting made easy’ package that will allow you to share beautiful sights and sounds with your friends.

If you are not familiar with Instagram, let me do a quick introduction for you. Basically, Instagram allows you to take pictures with your mobile phone and share them with your friends within Instagram and across social networks. Instagram had two unique features that allowed it to quickly grow to become the biggest photo sharing service online. The first advantage was the well executed timeline. The timeline makes it very easy to see what others are sharing and to comment on their pictures. The second advantage were the great filters that Instagram allows its users to use on their photos. That way you can easily give your pictures a change in colors, borders and general feel.

Facebook saw the impact Instagram was having and bought the service. However, with the rise of Vine on Twitter, Instagram must have known it would be bad to just sit still. Vine allowed Twitter users to easily share 6 second video clips of whatever they experience. And now Instagram has gotten into that same field, but has improved on the concept.

Instagram video allows you to share videos of between 6 and 15 seconds. All videos will be shot in a square format, so there is no reason to tilt your phone to get a landscape view. Recording a video is as easy as holding down the record button on the phone and the slider will move as the seconds pass. After your recording, you can edit the video and apply colorful filters. Instagram will immediately show you the results that the filters have on your recording, so you can browse through the filters to find the one that suits you best. You then get to pick the cover photo, which will be the image people see before they start your video. And lastly you can add a title and the services you want to post the video to and click the share button. Instagram then takes care of the rest.

This is all great, but how can you use this? Well, Instagram is an awesome app to share experiences with people. Whether it is a great picture of a band, or the sun flowing through a stain glass window. And now they have added video, which allows you to have people experience a great moment with your youth group. It allows you to share a great time with friends, the joy around baptism or any other great moment. It is also a great tool to just stay in touch with people around you. To show them what you value. What makes you laugh, what makes you cry and even the ‘mundane’ things such as having a great meal together.

There is a saying that tells us that the eyes are the windows to our soul. I strongly want to encourage you to not only see that as the eyes showing what is going on within our souls. But also to realize that the eyes are one of the best ways to reach and touch the soul of someone who is able to share that precious moment with you.

Apple launches new iOS7, what is in it for you?

Apple launches new iOS7, what is in it for you?

iOS7Yesterday, at their WWDC conference, Apple introduced their new iOS7 operating system for the iPhone and iPad. Obviously there are many new features that are an improvement from iOS6. However, the big question with any upgrade of your phone is what the changes mean to you.

At the bottom of this article, you will find an overview of a number of new features that are introduced to iOS7 and that will hit iPhones somewhere in the fall. The good news is that a lot of phones will actually get to benefit of the new iOS7 features. But the feature that might be the best one to have, will only be released to the iPhone 5, the iPad 4, the iPad mini and the iPod touch 5th generation. That feature is called Airdrop and it will help you to share with the people around you.

Sharing amongst phones and tablets is not new. But Apple’s Airdrop does make it easy. It searches for other compatible devices that are close to you, and then you can choose what document you share with whom. Which makes it very easy to share the latest information that is needed for your meeting. Or to share your bible study with the group you were meeting with. Without having to physically connect to the various devices that people carry. Unfortunately Airdrop will only be released to newer Apple devices. This will narrow down your options for sharing, but if you are up to change the phones for your whole team, this might be a great reason to make sure everyone will run iOS7.

What are the other new features in iOS7?
The new Control Centre allows you easy access to Airplane Mode, wi-fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness, your music and other things. You can find Control Centre by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen.

iOS7 comes with a revamped Notification Centre. It is now also accessible from the lock screen to give you an easy overview of all your alerts. New is the Today feature, that shows you an overview of what is ahead for that day.

We have seen filters that change the colors of the pictures you have taken in popular apps like Instagram and Snapseed. Apple has now integrated filters into the iOS7 camera app. The new camera app also makes it easier to switch between the different camera modes the iPhone offers.

A new Moments feature has been added to the Photo app. Here you can find media based on where you are and what time it is. It also allows people to share streams with friends and family through iCloud, so it is even easier to keep everyone up to date.

The browsing experience on iOS7 has been greatly improved with the addition of full screen browsing to Safari. You can now also store all your passwords and credit card details on iCloud, if you would want to. This allows you to use that data across all your devices that you use the new Safari on. A welcome addition to Safari are the parental controls, which allow you to block access to adult material amongst other things.

If you like to ask your phone questions, you will be pleased to know that Siri has received new female and male voices. Siri also connects to Twitter, which allows you to hear Siri read to you what people are posting there. Siri now also integrates Bing and Wikipedia.

Following the examples of other music services, Apple has updated the Music app with iTunes Radio. It streams audio online and already features over 200 different radio stations you can listen to. Alternatively, you can build your own station with the music you like. This is not only available on iOS7, but it iwll also come to the Mac, PC and Apple TV.

On the technical side, Apple has improved the way multitasking is working, so your apps will switch faster and will also use less power to keep on running in the background.

That is an overview of the changes for iOS7. Apple also announced a new operating system called OS X Mavericks, a new line up of four new Macbook Air models, and a glimpse of the new Mac Pro.

Evernote adds reminders to Android

Evernote adds reminders to Android

android_checkoffI have had times where my desk was buried under to-do lists and memos about things I needed to remember. However, as more and more piled up, I lost the overview and things were forgotten. I am sure you are not like that, but if you want to structure your notes and to-do lists in a better way, Evernote is a great option.

Evernote is a service which basically helps you remember everything and helps you get things done. They have a website, but they also have mobile applications for phones, tablets and web browsers. And now they have brought their reminders to their application for Android phones.

But what can this do for you? Essentially, this can help you work together with your team a lot better. Especially in churches and organizations that rely on many volunteers to make it all happen, this could be a wonderful tool. As more and more people carry their smartphone around, it is easy for them to be in touch with the team more actively. It also makes it easier for teams to split tasks and share notes or ideas.

I would like to challenge you, to try out Evernote with one of your teams. Pick a team which makes notes of its meetings and that has tasks that people need to carry out before certain times. Convince them to use Evernote for a while. As time passes, it is going to be interesting to see whether it made it easier for them to share their thoughts and ideas over time. Or whether it became easier to make sure everything was ready before a set date.

You can just set an alarm time for Evernote reminders. They will then just pop up on the screen of your mobile to tell you what needs to happen and when. Check out Evernote for more information on the application or to download it for your computer, phone or tablet.

Google’s new channel format

Google’s new channel format

youtube-one-channelYouTube has just upgraded all their YouTube channels to their new one channel approach. This means that if you have a YouTube account, your channel will look very different. And if you are thinking about sharing video online, your content will be shown within this new channel format.

The change to the one channel format is step forward, both in looks as well as in interaction with your users. Finally the channel will not only have the same look on a phone, a tablet and a computer, but it will also include that look when you use YouTube on your television.

The new channels allow you to make give your channel much more of the feel that people would have when they enter your church. The YouTube channel now allows you to use much bigger images that will enhance the feel of your channel. You can have it reflect the experience that people have when they visit your services, small groups or the vibe that exists in your church community. You can also add gadgets to your YouTube channel, so you can increase interaction with people that are viewing your videos. This can allow you to reach out to one-time but also regular viewers that you would have no contact with otherwise. Obviously this is not limited to churches. You can do this with any organization. It just allows you to bring the experience of being somewhere into your YouTube channel.

If you want to read about the technical details, they did a great writeup at YouTube. If you are thinking about whether or not you ought to share video, please stay tuned as I want to write about that soon.

IF you want to get a feel for one channel, watch the video below.

The price of storage: get 20Gb free, or 1Tb if you like pictures

The price of storage: get 20Gb free, or 1Tb if you like pictures

copyThe past week has seen a rise of storage opportunities. Last Thursday I tweeted about Copy. It is a new dropbox competitor that has decided to show off that storage has become cheaper and cheaper. Where Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive only start you off with a measly 5Gb, Copy jumps in and gives you 15Gb to start with. If you use a referral link from someone, you can get an extra 5Gb which brings you up to 20 free gigabytes. A good start. And whenever anyone uses your personal link to register, Copy gives you an extra 5Gb of storage. Without a limit. With three people using my link, I am now up to 30Gb. But Chris Pirillo got his bonus storage up to 10Tb. Now that sheds a whole new light on free storage. I do not even have 10Tb worth of harddisk space in my house…

And as we are on terabytes of storage, Flickr has released its all new and revamped service yesterday. Where the old service limited people to just 200 photos and seconds of video, the new service is like a self-help, free for all, storage bonanza. Now they offer 1Tb of storage for your photos for free. And all the annoyance you get is some ads on the pages. I have been a long standing Flickr Pro member and I love their new look. The photos are presented better, there is a much improved timeline and I finally enjoy going to the Flickr homepage to see what my friends are doing, instead of looking at their activity in my Facebook or Twitter timeline. However, as a Pro member, I do feel left out in the cold a bit. I have my subscription until October 2014 and all that gives me is unlimited space, no ads and detailed stats. I am certain I will not be touching that 1 Tb limit this year, I seldom look at the stats and I haven’t got a clue how many ads they show, so that could not be too bad. So, if you are a free member of Flickr, or if you are just starting out, just don’t pay for anything. I am sure that by the time you have filled up your 1Tb (that would allow for 500,000 very high resolution pictures) they will come out with a free 10Tb upgrade.

Storage has become cheap. So, go and create, take up space and claim it. After all, it is free and easy.

And if you want to get 20Gb of online storage for free, click this link: (and give me some 5Gb extra in the process, thanks!)

How HMV’s twitter account went to the dogs – and how to prevent it

How HMV’s twitter account went to the dogs – and how to prevent it

hmv-dog-marketingHMV was hot news on Twitter today when staff took over the retailers twitter channel. I am not going to dive into the whole deal about financial troubles and layoffs. It is a tough time for retailers in the business HMV is in and with their new owners it might take them some time to get back on top. In the meantime it has been interesting to see how new technology has been completely passed upon in the first steps of restructuring.

I will try to set the scene based on the -now deleted- tweets by HMV staff this afternoon. Apparently HMV had an intern make the HMV Tweets account on Twitter. Nothing special. Even big companies choose to let interns rule their interpersonal communication with their fans. A good idea? Not at all, and I can give you lots of  reasons why. However, that is not the purpose of this post, so I will leave them out.

So, HMV had a twitter account and they have mainly used it to communicate new releases, congratulating the stars on their own label and congratulating followers with winning their own competition. They did do a single personal retweet of someone calling everyone to purchase from HMV to support the high street. So, nothing too personal and relational on there. But as people love their stores, they still have thousands of followers. There are two sides to that story. Yes, you can dump your messages to almost 70 thousand people as a corporate. But the people holding the keys to that account can also reach some of your most loyal 70 thousand customers with one simple click.

hmvtweetsAnd that is what happened. The person(s) who tweeted this have been seeing the demise of HMV as something they could have been able to turn around. It might have been someone who has really wanted to put in more than their share to make HMV work again. Or so the tweet seems to suggest when he or she says: “However, when the company you dearly love is being ruined and those hard working individuals, who wanted to make hmv great again, have mostly been fired”. So they broke the silence they were bound to by their contracts and came out with what was happening at the offices. The bad news spread quickly over twitter and it did not take long before the news picked up on it and articles started appearing on the BBC and ITV website.

Will this affect the retailer in the long run? Possibly. After all, the tweets first reached their 70 thousand most loyal followers. So what should have been done? It is hard to say, but it does start with control over the social media channels of your organization. And that is a lesson that we can all apply to what we are doing. Very often, the management of the social media channels for our churches or Christian organizations is done by the volunteer that knows a bit about the internet. You might be the exception, but many of the organizations that I have talked to in the past years have assigned their Twitter and Facebook accounts over to youth from the church, or other slightly more tech savvy individuals. And this is where a lot can go wrong. You need to consider the fact that within your organization or church, things can happen that might make people less enthusiastic about you. And that is why you need to make sure the basic account is under the control of your management team. It might just be for that first hour after whatever bad news hits, perhaps for longer, but you need to make sure there is some kind of control. After all, these are channels that are now seen as at least as important for your communications as your official website and printed channels.

Quick tips?

  1. If you are a large organisation, use something like Hootsuite or another client that will allow you to grant access to teams of coworkers to your social media channels. You might never need to, but the ease of -temporarily- denying someone access can come in handy one day.
  2. If you are in a position where media silence needs to be obeyed, make sure social media is on that list of media channels that you have created a strategy for.
  3. Have a quick press release available when someone has been able to gain access to the account after all your trouble. Don’t let it spin out of control. Take over the channel again and communicate with your audience.
  4. Do not go around and delete all the tweets thinking that that will be the end of it. Screenshots happen. And they are around for a lot longer. You need to deal with what has been said and talk to your audience.
  5. Know your way around your social media channels. The HMV marketing manager that asked how to shut down Twitter is an example of how quickly your organization can look bad.

Dirt Championship

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Clean Air

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