Tuesday, November 18, 2008

iPhone Apps

This year I finally broke down and bought an iPhone. Of all the technology devices I've ever owned, this has to be the most useful overall in a day to day capacity. Things I like:

(1) The Camera isn't great, but it's good. And that's far better than any other cellphone camera I've ever had. I use it constantly to take photos that I want to capture where I don't have a real camera with me. I also use it to snap photos of prices and item information when I'm comparison shopping for goods... But the real reason I use it so much is that I can quickly email the photos to people, allowing me to share the moment with friends. I _love_ that feature.

(2) Weather. It isn't perfect (is any weather forecast?) but it provides the fastest way for me to get weather information for where I am and where I'm planning to go. I also keep Buffalo on there, so that no matter how bad the weather is where I am, I can see that someone else is more miserable :-)

(3) Maps - I cannot overstate how cool it is having google maps on a phone. No need for a nav system anymore. Google something, find an address, look it up in google maps, have the phone tell me how to get there from where I am right now. If you don't think you would use this, you are wrong. This is the second best feature of the phone after having the internet with you at all times.

(4) Safari - Having the real internet with you at all times is amazing. Want to find the best restaurant in the middle of connecticut while you are on vacation? No problem. Want to find what subway train to take in the middle of New York City to get to the restaurant for dinner? No problem. Want to know what something costs online before you buy it in a store? No problem. Want to remember who the lead singer was of that obscure band you are hearing on the radio? That's easy. The mobile internet rocks.

Those are just the built-in apps. Now the fun stuff:

(5) Facebook - Say what you want about social networking, having a dedicated client on your phone makes it way, way better.

(6) Ebay - Sniping is no longer a problem when you can bid anytime, anywhere. Set an alarm to remind you if it's critical, then place your bid.

(7) AirSharing - The last trip we took, I printed out every receipt, every reservation screen etc. as pdf's and put them on my phone via AirSharing, making it quick and easy to find what I needed. Great way to have documents with you when you travel.

(8) Units - How many ounces are in a gallon? How fast is 240 KM in MPH? If I buy a 60 kilo bag of coffee, how many pounds am i getting? Units makes it quick and easy to find the answers to these kinds of questions.

(9) AroundMe - What is the closest coffee shop to me? This uses your location to tell you... It covers more than just coffee, gas, banks, grocery stores etc. But all I care about is coffee ;-)

(10) SportsTap - How much is USC winning by right now? Quick access to that answer and other less important sports results all in one place.

(11) YouVersion - Bible software from lifechurch.tv, this completely rocks. Search or just browse, a daily reading plan, and almost any translation you could possibly want available when you are online, all for free. There are also some downloadable translations, but not as many. The best!

On the whole, I _love_ the iPhone. It has been a great tool and is by far the best phone I've ever owned. It also plays a few pretty good games...


Monday, November 10, 2008

ChMS - The Kickoff

Today we had our first official meeting with Arena as clients. We walked through the schedule, which is quite aggressive considering the holidays. Thankfully, the IT staff here has worked hard to get a head start on things. Our hardware in installed, and we have Windows Server 2003 SP2 up and running, and had installed SQL Server 2005. The Arena guys made some suggestions for improving our 2005 install, so we pulled it and did it again in order to insure that everything was set properly. We also uploaded our data from our prior database to them during the meeting, so things are moving on the data conversion front. We then talked with one of the IT guys and verified that we are totally ready for the install. We have scheduled it for Wednesday morning.

My IT staff is hard at work on the technical side of things, and Judy is pulling together the secretarial staff to work on mapping our groups and keywords to Arena's groups and tags etc. The mapping is based on what functionality we want with those items, and how to best maximize the power that Arena offers us.

Taking good advice given to us by other Arena churches, we are not trying to do the entire product all at once. We are going live with the functionality we need to enter contributions by January 1 and use Arena as our only database. From there we are scheduling a plan to go live with additional functionality weekly. We haven't scheduled it all out, but we will try to be done with everything except check-in by the end of February, and deploy check-in during the month of March. Our implementation visit and initial training will be in December, and we have reserved some of the training for the later roll outs, particularly check-in.

The important thing for us is that we don't want Arena waiting on our team. We are moving as quickly as possible to get our tasks done, in order to get this whole conversion done with as quickly as possible. The Asterisk conversion went beautifully this year, we hope the Arena one goes as well or better.