Monday, September 12, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
For those of you that are Fellowship One customers you might be interested in this. We have been working to find a shared printer solution for our checkin machines to allow multiple checkin terminals to print to one printer to cut down on the cost of these pricy little printers. We think we have finally figured out a couple of solutions.
The first is a $250 hardware device from Blackbox that allows up to 4 computers to share the same checkin printer. The second one basically redirects all printer port traffic to another machine across the network. To do this we modified our checkin interface to allow the setup of the network printer that we want to re-direct to. So far so good, but we will continue to do more testing before we release this into production.A big thanks to Mo for all his efforts in figuring this out.
Added printer options to interface
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I can’t believe that I have gotten away with not posting about this sooner, but for those of you with a question mark above your head every time you see “The Trogdor Nation” and wonder what in the world does that mean, here ya go.
Let me introduce you to the greatness of Homestar Runner. Homestar Runner is a cartoon series which is distributed as Macromedia Flash animations available from HomestarRunner.com. It mixes an absurdist sense of humor similar to that found in H.R. Puff ’n’ stuff with copious (good word choice) references to video games from the 1980s and 1990s. Enough is enough, just check it out and prepare to be entertained.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Recently we purchased a new plotter to replace our HP Plotter used for a lot of the large format printing used in the children’s area for stage sets and signage. We decided on a Swiss product from a company called Zund. The leap in technology is incredible from where we were and it has really taken us up a notch. This thing can print on just about anything! It can print on canvas, metal, wood, plastic, Styrofoam, glass or tile. And the ink is UV rated so it won’t fade which is really great for outdoor signage and has really helped with the reprinting of outdoor signage.
New Zund Plotter
Friday, July 22, 2005
First impressions are everything. It is important to make a great first impression for any visitor to your campus, and there is so much we can do that can help determine if someone is to return and what their first experience is like.
From the time someone enters the parking lot, you want to guide them all the way into their final destination without any confusion or questions.
Think of the thousand and thousands of people they move thru airports. Signage, strategically placed personnel, and key areas for information are so important. Their goal is to get you thru to your destination gate or exit with ease.
Below is just an off the cuff list of ideas to accomplish this experience:
- Parking signage to guide people to the correct parking areas
- People directing traffic and welcoming attendees
- Signage to guide people to the appropriate entrance
- Greeters and signage inside entrance to guide to registration or destination areas
- A central area that is easy to get to get information or questions answered
The goal is to provide a virtual guide, using signage and strategically placed people, guiding people thru the facility and to their final destination with ease. Being in a new place for the first time is already such a stressful event and I think if we make a small effort in these areas it can help ease some of this and help provide a good first impression.
If you have any other items that you think should be added to this off the cuff list, I would love to hear them.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Adventure month has started! Our annual vacation bible school has started and this year we are expecting around 4,500 kids this year. This week began the first week at the Grapevine campus and we will have a total of 3 weeks here at Grapevine. It was our first year to have Adventure Week at our new
Hope this is a little more challenging. I am very surprised by some of your skills and a little disappointed in others. Not to call anyone out or anything, but Storch, I thought you were the king of this!
Her: "Give me my radio!"
Him: "You gonna talk to me?"
Her: "Give me my radio!"
Sunday, July 17, 2005
I recently started reading Tom Peters Essentials – Leadership. It really has a lot of great leadership tips and thoughts and how to stretch and re-think your leadership.
Tom is a great writer but I could do without all the profanity in his books. Come on Tom, I know you read my post :) , you’re a great writer and could convey your points just as well without all the profanity.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
A question that I often get asked from other churches, is what we are doing in regards to HA (high availability) and what technologies are we using to accomplish this and what applications or services in running in high availability.
And the answer really is none. Our church management system is an ASP and other than that I am not convinced that anything else is that business critical to invest the money it takes to pull this off. Now of course we have built in redundancy and disaster recovery into just about everything we have and do, but not 99.999 uptime.
That said, I would really like to know if there are those of you doing this and what your organization requires to be HA. I would love to hear what you are doing and how you are doing it.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Quote #1: "A flute with no holes is not a flute. And, a doughnut with no hole is a Danish."
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
If you are not ready for it and want to block the automatic download Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Microsoft Corp. yesterday released a tool kit that temporarily blocks the delivery of it through its updating services.
The new blocking tool disables the delivery of SP1 to subscribers of Automatic Updates, Windows Update and Microsoft Update, according to information on Microsoft's Web site. It is available as a free download.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Our new IDS (Intrusion Detection System) is up and running! We are really excited about the new solution that Steven our Network Engineer, and Adam from Viyu put together.
From 50,000 feet, we are running Windows 2003 server with VMWare which allows us to run all probes and collectors from one machine. Each probe is collecting using Snort on OpenBSD and dumping all collection data into a MySQL database. And lastly we are using BASE for the front-end interface.
If you made it this far thru the post you are obviously a techie. And to answer the question that is in your head, yes even in a church, there is a need for an IDS :)
Friday, June 17, 2005
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I have witnessed greatness! Yesterday I attended the ITEC technology conference in
I registered online for the event and received an email instructing me to print out and bring the bar-coded registration with me. Upon entering the building they had many terminals setup with bar-code readers that you just walked up to and scanned your registration. Just a quick scan and you keep moving toward the entrance. Just before you reach the entrance there were several people pulling printed ID cards much like the ones from SAMS, off of card printers that were initiated by the scanning of your registration form upon arrival. These people just simply picked them up and began calling your name, you grab your card slip it in your badge holder and off you go. No lines, no wait, you didn’t even have to stop walking to get thru the process! The conference was able to process about 3,000 people without blinking an eye and without any wait.
Oh and it gets better. Upon entering the conference, the vendor booths were setup with card readers that can read the info off of your card. So if you want a vendor to contact you if you were interested in their product, just swipe your card at the terminal at their booth. The vendors leave with a contact list of everyone that swiped their card. These machines also print out paper receipts so that a sales guy can write any notes about your conversation and associate it to you. It doesn’t get much cooler!
I had to find out how they were doing it. After talking to the registration people, I found out that they outsourced the whole thing with a company that specializes in conference registrations. The company is called ExGenex, and from what I saw is greatness!
Monday, June 13, 2005
For those of you using iSCSI initiators, Microsoft released a new version of the software yesterday.
This weekend we launched barcode checkin and things could not have gone better. No issues reported and everyone involved was really excited about the new technology.
A big thanks to Lisa Martinez and her team for the great planning and communication that made all of this happen.
I hope to have barcode checkin to all campuses and events in the next couple of months.
Friday, June 10, 2005
I have come to the point where I just have to say something. I’ve reached my tipping point. Enough already with the “seeker church” stuff! It seems as though every time I turn around the term is thrown out labeling one church or another, mine included. I am not sure where it started and for whatever reason it is something that has really starting becoming popular to label churches doing church differently than the traditional method, a “seeker church”.
It has got me thinking though. What does the bible have to say about what a church should look like and how should it reach people? What did Christ model? What was the New Testament church like and what should a church look like today?
Shouldn’t the church be a place that draws people to it, not push people away? Christ came and removed the darkness of sin from our lives and gave us the light of eternal life through salvation. If we hold up our end of the deal, the unsaved and un-churched should look at us and the church and see this light and be drawn to it just as those who followed Christ were drawn to Him. I have to believe that it is the way God intended it. I contest that all churches should be seeker churches. Sinners should be drawn to the gift of light that God has given to each of us that are Christians.
I know that one thing I have heard is that these “scary seeker churches” are more worried about “felt needs” than proclaiming the gospel. The fact is simple, very simple. People are lost and going to hell, what are we and the church doing about it. Where are we putting our focus? Are we spending eight weeks series on the historicity of a book of the Bible and the direct translation verse by verse from the Hebrew? Don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place and it is important to learn, study and disciple. But we are in the business of reaching people, and to the unsaved the literal translation of the Hebrew word hell or baptism doesn’t quite throw out the life ring to the lost, drowning and going to hell.
I have to ask myself, what did Christ model when reaching people? When he met the Samaritan women at the well did he grab his Bible (King James of courseJ) and wave it all around and yell and stomp around and call her out for being a whore how she was going to burn in hell! Did he ask her what the Greek word for “help” or “repent” was? Did he say you tell me a word, and I will show you how the root of the word comes from the Greek? (Just kidding, Big Fat Greek Wedding reference) No, He met her where she was, in her sin, and started from there. Not approving nor condoning her past, her lifestyle, or sin in any way, but met her where she was in life and extended His gift. Am I really to believe that we and our churches should be structured and led any differently? The truth is that they are being led differently. Many churches are only reaching the “already convinced”, and if you don’t meet their mold or criteria you are not welcome and there is no effort to reach people with open arms where they are.
I think this “seeker church” stuff started because of change. Mark had a great post about change and the conflict that comes from it. I think the resistance to creativity and change in the church relative to the changes in culture is the root of this labeling of the seeker church. The change and movement away from the traditional church. The change in how to “do” church, in how to reach people, in how churches are structured and led, and how worship is done. It has nothing to do with watered down teaching or anything of the sort, but just change, and people don’t like it. If you are doing what you have always done, then you will be where you have always been. My opinion is that the way it has been done sucks and I get frustrated when thinking about how many more people might have been reached if church leaders were more open to change and creativity and creating environments to reach people.
A healthy church should be a place with cocaine snorting, skirt chasing, hell raising non-believers and seekers (Ed reference), as well as new and mature Christians. We should see growth in all of these areas all of the time if we are to remain a healthy church. Non-believers becoming new Christians, and new Christians becoming mature believers, and so is the healthy life-cycle of the church. To move people through this cycle there must be discipleship and teaching, which is a big part of maturing.
I believe that all churches should be a “seeker church.” We are the light to share the awesome gift of salvation. Hopefully, we never forget the great commission! For those who are “Mature Christians” and believe that seeker churches are shallow I challenge you to look within yourselves and your church and question are we being successful? Are we reaching people with the way we are doing things? Do we need to change?
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Today I spent some time with a good friend of mine Patrick at Prestonwood Baptist Church in
We spent some time just strategizing and talking about where both of our organizations are and where we are heading for the future. It is really great to have someone so close to bounce ideas off of and learn from.
I don’t do it as much as I should, but I think it is important to always be learning and asking questions of other ministries to make us more successful. We are all working on the same team after all. Some of us run plays a little differently than others, but we are all just trying to get the ball in the end zone and reach people for Christ.It’s important for us not to only focus on ministries that might be where you are as a church (size, type etc.) but to talk to others where you were, where you are, and where you are going to be in the future to be most effective.
It’s finally here, this weekend we will be officially launching barcode based checkin. Those participating will be issued a bar-coded keychain tag, much like the ones you get a grocery store, and that will be associated with the persons record in Fellowship One and upon scanning will automatically check them in for the event or activity. This functionality has been long awaited and is going to speed up checkin processing a lot. I cant wait, and I will post how it goes next week.
Mobile Checkins with Scanners
Key Chain Tag
Thursday, June 02, 2005
I had a great meeting with Avaya discussing their VOIP telephony solutions. We are currently using NEC as our telephony vendor, but want to keep our options open for what we are doing for the future as we expand as well as we continue to have more and more mobile staff.
They really seem to on the cutting edge of telephony along with Cisco. Some of the cool stuff that we discussed was we could plop in one of their gateway appliances that could service a satellite location and be a full PBX and provide all kinds of added functionality to those users that we do no have today. Integration with Outlook, and the ability to make calls directly from outlook or the web was one of them. You can just right click on a number and click call and it would dial out your desk phone. You of course can also use their soft phone application and make calls directly from your laptop without a desk phone at all. You can control settings like call forwarding, voicemail, etc all from your desktop without having to touch the phone itself.
One of the other cool things that we discussed is the use of our wireless infrastructure to have cell phones use the corporate wireless if they are in the building without having to use minutes on their cell phones. And when they are out of range of our wireless network, it would just work like a regular cell phone. We have looked at this before but the technology has always been proprietary and we would have had to buy all new wireless to make it happen. We would not have to with their solution.All in all it was a very exciting meeting to see some of the possibilities of where the future might take us.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
One thing that we have run into lately with our Fellowship One checkin systems is that by design the checkin application times out and closes after a long period of inactivity. Well, even though we are locking these machines down pretty tightly with group policy, we don’t want to expose the desktop to everyone. So what we did was wrote a small application that auto starts on login of the machines and always sits on the desktops not allowing access to the desktop and any ability to close the application out. It also allows us a little more functionality by adding some hidden function buttons to do things like reboot, logoff, close the app, shutdown, OS and IP info, and even an admin tools section for managing and deploying items dealing with these machines.
Since I posted about the POS System that we use in our bookstore, Microsoft has come out with a new version you might be interested in. This new version, called Microsoft POS, is targeted more towards a single store environment and integrates with Quickbooks accounting software. Where the one we use is called Microsoft RMS and is a mult-store environment and integrates with more enterprise accounting packages like Great Plains.
Still, its cheaper and with the non-profit pricing that Microsoft gives, it would be a good package for those churches with just a single bookstore or resource center.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I had a great call today with Northway Fellowship church in
We should expect God to bless our ministries and plan and strategize that way. We discussed planning processes for the church as well as technology as they were a staff of 60 and a church of 10,000 and to keep reaching up for God’s direction for the church and the ministries and expect that he will bless them and plan accordingly.
Monday, May 16, 2005
I just want to give big props to my entire staff. They consistently are achieving excellence in everything they do, say, touch and feel. We have gone thru a lot of changes in the past year and I could not be happier with the team that God has put together here. I am nothing without them and am reminded of how much of an impact they have on enabling ministry here anytime one of them is gone.
You may be the one who because of your position gets the first round of applause or praise for a job well done. But be quick to thank the others who deserve it. Public statements of thanks are nice, but going out of your way to say thanks in private lets people know you really mean it.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Bad News Good news
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The Church can often be the worst at expecting more of us than God has called us to shoulder. No is an acceptable answer. If you are in a leadership role at your church or in the corporate world, it will always push you beyond your own limits, but just be careful that it doesn’t push you over the edge.
Ed Young, our pastor, is a phenomenal leader, and one thing that he challenges leadership with often is, "don't tell me what you are doing, but tell me what you are not doing". He says this to remind us that sometimes you have to cut some things or say NO to grow and be a healthy leader, organization and church.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
Being in technology we are usually the first to try out all the cool new tools and toys and man there is nothing better. It is sometimes like Christmas to us whenever a new software or hardware product comes out and we get to get it and play with it. Ahh the chills that run up and down the spine when you complete the first install or get the new hardware in the rack, there is nothing like it. If you are not a techie, you just can’t understand what its like.
Well, this month is the beginning of “the season” for us. We start working with one of our partners Tectura partnering in the Microsoft TAP program, taking a closer look at the upcoming new Windows client operating System, codenamed “Longhorn”.
For those of you not familiar with the program, it is the granddaddy of Microsoft's beta programs; the difference is it is mainly centered on a core group of key customers and partners who are early adopters of key Microsoft technologies. It is not a replacement for their public and private beta tests, but more of a private showing or back-stage pass if you will to upcoming technology.
One of the great things about the program is that all the time and support associated with the program is free. From planning, deployment and support Microsoft pays for all of it. You can’t beat free!
TAP currently applies to Windows client, server, Office, Systems Management Server and a handful of other products.
I can’t wait to get started and to play with all the cool new tools. I know, I know, I’m a tech dork.
Friday, April 01, 2005
1. What Point of Sale system are you using?
Response: We are using the Microsoft Retail Management System for both our retail and food service stores that we have. We recently upgraded and purchased the Headquarters module which allows us to manage multiple stores from one interface.
2. Do you have multiple retail outlets, or is everything consolidated in one physical store?
Response: We currently have 3 retail stores and one food service store.
3. Do you have a single POS/inventory system for all retail sales including foodservice, merchandise, and ticket sales? Or are these separate systems?
Response: We have the one system to handle all sales of all types including ticket sales. However the system is not designed to facilitate seat assignments or ticket creation. I know that some churches like to have functionality to sell assigned seat tickets to Christmas programs and things of that nature, but we do not have that requirement.
4. How do your retail systems tie to your G/L?
Response: There is direct integration from RMS to the financial system we are using which is Great Plains. This provides PO and GL integration only. There are third party integration products available on the market that provides more extensive integration such as.
· Accounts Receivables transactions move from RMS to Great Plains
· Multiple Stores – Multiple Great Plains companies mapping
· Sales Order processing transaction integration
· Purchase Order Processing POs and Receipts integration
· Automatic new customer move from RMS to GP
· Automatic new vendor import
5. How do your retail systems tie to your web presence?
Response: RMS does have the capability to tie into your web site as well for ecommerce. We have not pursued this as of yet.
6. Do you use a touch-screen interface for any registers?
Response: Yes. For our Café we do have touch screen monitors and are using a special touch screen menu interface. RMS does provide such functionality to interact with touch screens but we needed something a little more specific to our needs so we developed a custom interface that integrates with RMS.
Overall we have been very happy with the product and it has really taken us to the next level from where we came from with the old solution we were using.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
If you did not already know, our core network infrastructure is all Extreme equipment. We have recently been looking at upgrading some of our infrastructure and discovered this new switch from Extreme called the Summit 400-48t. It has a very high port density with 48 gig ports in just a 1U footprint, and a very large packet throughput. Looks like a great little switch and I hope to have my hands on one soon. Here are some of the other features:
· Industry’s highest density Gigabit Ethernet for easy scalability and efficient use of rack space
· Highest performance switch fabric (160 Gbps) and throughput (101Mpps) so current and future applications have the bandwidth required
· Two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports to avoid the common uplink bottleneck
· Modular 10 Gigabit Ethernet design that can be quickly upgraded in the field so you only pay for the bandwidth you need, when you need it Advanced Layer 3 intelligence to roll out new
· Advanced Layer 3 intelligence to roll out new services quickly and easily;
· Comprehensive security services to protect your network where it's being attacked–at the edge
· 8 queues of QoS on every port to optimize application performance in a converged network
· Redundant hardware and special availability software ensure the highest level of network availability
Friday, March 18, 2005
Has the fear of God completely escaped our culture? My conscience, Christian or not, would never allow me to take advantage of a church this way. Just the fear of the wrath of God from trying to take advantage or manipulate a church for my gain would make my knees shake.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to paying top dollar for good technology if it is something we need. And I of course want the company to be successful and to be able to make a profit. Just don’t flippin’ come in here with sucker on your mind and treat the deal differently just for the fact that we are a church.
Man I need some chapstick, my lips hurt real bad!