Tech Tuesday – Parallels

I’m a long time Mac user. Most of the time I prefer to work in the Apple environment. But many times I’m the only Mac user in the church I’m serving. That happens to be true in Sioux City as well. So when you are the only Mac user you often have to find ways to fit in with those poor lost souls who are running Windows. 😉

One of the biggest problems is dealing with pieces of software that only have a Windows version. This problem is much smaller than it used to be with Mac OS versions of Microsoft Office available which saves to the same file formats as the PC does. But you still have to deal with the frustration that the two office suites are not the same. If a windows user sends a Mac user Publisher file often you cannot do a thing with them.

So, when you are in a mixed OS office what is the solution? Well one of the best solutions out there is to run a system emulator such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion. (Parallels is my personal favorite.)

Parallels allows you to run Windows 10 and Windows programs at the very same time you are running Mac OS X and Mac apps. You can run the Windows in a separate window, or you can run both at the same time in what is called “coherence mode.”

In coherence mode you run windows programs and apps right on top of the Mac desktop as if they are Mac OS X programs. So what can you do with this? Well, right now I am using the PC version of MS Office which allows me to use Publisher and all the PC centric software that Microsoft intentionally make more function for PCs than Macs.

Take a look at the screen shot from my Mac. (Mac users, try not to get queazy as you look at Microsoft Edge running right on my desktop. 🙂  )

Screenshot 2016-08-23 14.29.04

By having Chrome, Windows Explorer, Edge, and Safari, etc. I am able to test our church website or my blog in multiple browsers to see how it looks.

If you need both Mac OS X and Windows, Parallels is a great solution!

 

Tech Tuesday

macbook-pro-with-bad-creditOn Tuesday’s I’m going to be sharing with you about some area of technology related to the Church.

I thought I’d start by sharing with software that I use in ministry and find useful in my daily work as a pastor. Some of these are iPhone or iPad applications and other are for Mac or Windows computing platforms.

While I’m a dedicated Mac user I have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription because MS Office has pretty much become the standard set of programs for word processing and spreadsheets. If you send someone a Word document they almost always can read it. Also, Microsoft does now have a pretty nice version of Word that I use regularly on my iPad Pro.

On my iPad or iPhone I also use the OliveTree Bible app. While a lot of the material that OliveTree sells is from a definite conservative/evangelical slant, they have Bible versions including NRSV and the new Common English Bible. They also have available the Wesley Study Bible notes that can be used with any of the translations. If you took Greek in seminary you can get the New Testament in Koine Greek as well.

For email on my iPad and iPhone I use the Microsoft Outlook app primarily because it works so very well with gmail and allows you to schedule emails to reappear at a given day or time to serve as a reminder to respond. You can have your email come back later in the day, tomorrow, next week or whenever you decide.

I use a mileage app called “Trip Cubby” to keep track of my business mileage. And I find Dropbox to be an invaluable resource for file sharing between devices and other individuals. It is the fastest syncing of the different cloud applications out there.

As far as web resources go, if you are a lectionary preacher, I’d check out umcdiscipleship.org and textweek.com for many helpful links.

 

Techie Time Saver

This blog isn’t about technlogy.  But as a middle aged techie, I realize that we use technology in church much more than we did when I started pastoring almost 25 years ago. So I am going to write some articles about using technology in ministry, how it can help, some pitfalls, and some tips.

One of those ubiquitous technologies is email.  Most everyone has email now.  In my church most meeting minutes, scheduling, committee communication, and interoffice communication is via email.

I’m one of those Americans who is tethered to my iPhone so if someone emails me I receive that email within minutes.  So what is the problem?

Most of the email I receive is either garbage (advertising, etc.) or items such as newsletters that I really don’t need to see right away and that I really don’t need to be interrupted by.  But I keep close tabs on my email so that I do get important email from church members, colleagues, and family.  So the problem is then, how do you use email effectively and not waste huge amounts of time?

One solution is message filtering.  You can do a lot of work in your email client to filter email into categories, but that takes a lot of time, and for some people is too complicated.

One solution on the iPhone are programs like Mailbox.app, a mail program that basically allows you to triage your email and have important email return to your inbox at predetermined times.  Boxer.app also does similar kinds of sorting of email. I am currently using Boxer on my iPhone and iPad for email. I wish it had a Mac client.

Currently I’m testing an email service that really has reduced the amount of junk in my inbox.  It is called Sanebox. Sanebox scans through all of your email and works really well if you have a gmail account.  It checks your email for addresses you have previous replied to.  Any address you have previously replied to goes to your inbox.  By default all other email is sorted into another folder for your to check on later.

If there is an email that you want in your inbox you drag it to your inbox and sanebox will remember next time to put that email addresses mail in your inbox.

I have been amazed how much this has reduced the trash I have to wade through in my email.  Now I only see email I really need to see.  Then, when I am not busy, I check the Sanebox folder for anything I might have missed.  After using it for a few days, little to nothing that is in the Sanebox folder is really anything I need to see, or at least not right away.

Just a warning here, Sanebox is not free.  If you decide to give it a try, there is a three week trial period and then, if you like it, you have to pay a fee.

Also, if you are an iPhone user, the Boxer email app has built in Sanebox integration.

It is great when we can really make technology work for us rather than add to our work load!

Tech Detox or Generation Gap?

The August 8, 2011 of the Christian Century had an article about young people, church camp, and technology called “Tech Detox.”  The article largely bemoaned teenager hyperconnectivity and expounded on the importance of praying cell phones and gadgets out of the hands of young people while at camp so that they can meet God.

I’ve read several articles in recent months which seem to complain or give advice about the need to disconnect in order to experience God, reconnect spiritually, etc.  The more of these articles I read the less I believe that this is really about toxic technology and the more I am convinced that this is actually about a generation gap.

We all know what a generation gap is.  As each new generation is born, grows up, and comes into adulthood there are generational differences that due to changing culture, technology, life experience, and circumstances that cause misunderstanding and mischaracterization of younger generations by older generations and older generations by the younger.   One of the areas it seems to me that is misunderstood is in the area of technology.

Because people are living longer we find that we have not just one or two generations living together in our society but as many as five generation.  My Grandfather was a rural mail carrier who began his work with a horse and buggy and retired delivering mail in a jeep.  Baby Boomers and Tweeners like myself and many Millenials remember times with much less technology before email, before the internet, and yes before VCRs, and DVDs.

Changing technology is a facet of the larger subject of “change.”  Different people adapt to change at different rates, some are slow to change, and some out right oppose any change to the lifestyle they are comfortable with.  So when it comes to the use of technology by our teens there are some things we have to recognize and adapt to:

1. Change is inevitable.  The way people live today is a far different than it was in my Grandfather’s day and also different than the society my parents grew up in.  So why should we expect that our children would live and interact the way we do?

2. The purpose of church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  It isn’t to make young people experience church, camp, or life they way we do or did.

3. If we insist that young people experience God the way we did following our own culturally bound ways of doing things we are just as likely not to reach them at all, and not to make disciples of them.

So what does this mean?  Does it mean we never tell young people not to use their cell phone in a church venue.  No I don’t believe it does.  But I do believe at all costs we must stop treating and talking about changing technology and change in general as if change is “toxic.”

When it comes to camp I don’t care if young people are making wood carvings and shooting arrows or sitting in a room playing video games.  What I do care about is that we give them a contextually relevant message about the love and grace of Jesus  Christ and God’s love for each of us.  When we go onto the mission field we seek to meet people where they are with their own culture, their own language, and in their own context.  We don’t expect them to dress like we do, talk like we do, or have a culture like ours.  We better be doing the same thing with those around us here in the US as well if we ever hope to share the gospel message with them.

How can we speak about the transforming power of Jesus Christ if we are sharing the not so subtle message that change is bad?  My reading of the gospels gives me the impression that Jesus was never about us staying the same.  In fact Jesus was about radical change, radical hospitality, radical commitment, and transformative life changing world shaking grace and love.  If anything is toxic it is stagnation.

So lets stop singing that old song “What’s the Matter with Kids Today” and instead let younger people share with us the changing technology they love and we can share with them the transforming and changing gospel that we can all love together!