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. . . learning from each other
W-E-B Issue 161 ~ July 08
Monthly ISSN 471-0323

News this time...


"There are things of deadly earnest that can only be safely mentioned under cover of a joke" - J. J. Proctor

"I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird." - Sir Paul McCartney


Jeremy Wagstaff is a writer on tech stuff for non-tech people to read. His blog is now included in our page of best communication and ministry blogs and newsletters:

He also writes syndicated columns for newspapers. In a recent column, he thinks back to the French Minitel system (an innovative precursor to the Web):

"Why do I tell this story? Because, of course, the Minitel was the precursor to the World Wide Web. Not just because it was a network. Not just in the fact that it hooked people up, but that it showed how bad engineers, government planners, think tanks and companies were at understanding what people wanted technology for. They all thought Minitel was an information delivery system.

But its users wanted to use it as a system to reach other people - a social network. These are lessons that we, through Web 2.0, have only just started to learn. Minitel showed us exactly how the Internet would turn out, if only we'd been listening. The Web is about self-expression. About connecting. About sharing.

And, I guess, a bit about love."


"I FEEL..." If you want to get a pulse for how the world feels today; where life's issues can make us feel happy, sad, angry, look at a tool that visually represents and aggregates by gender, age, weather, location and date what people are feeling. This project has great potential for research and ministry:

I WASN'T READY TO BE A GRANDMA - says Joan Giesbrecht:

OLDEST BLOGGER. World's oldest blogger dies. At 108, Olive Riley was the oldest blogger. A friend introduced her to blogging in 2007 and she was hooked:

PODCAST ON OUTREACH IN ASIA. A travelling mission strategist has set up a regular podcast about remarkable stories of outreach in Asia. He has no organization to plug, no other agenda than offering you encouraging sketches of people finding Jesus. These MP3s would be great to use in a church service mission spot or smaller meeting:

INDIAN CONTEXTUALIZED EASY-ENGLISH BIBLE: The New Community Bible is part of an attempt by the Vatican to attract more converts in the world's second-most populous country as congregations decline in Europe and North America:

BEFORE YOU BUY - look up some online reviews. Among the many sources is:

CONVERT ANYTHING - ALMOST. Here's one to bookmark - a site that will convert currency, timezones, measurements, and much else:


MOBILE ACCESS. Should your church website be accessible to mobile users? Or some parts of it. Mobile Ministry Magazine explains the issues:

WEBSITES: "Why You Don't Want Michelangelo Working on Your Website", comments Mark Silver:

THE WALLED GARDEN. "Take Your Church Outside the 'Walled Garden'," says Tony Steward on the Digital @ Leadership Network blog. He proposes three ways to change this mindset:

BEHIND THE MIXER is a comprehensive site of advice, help, forums, and much more, relating to church sound systems:

VIDEO - where are the best places to upload church videos? Here is a comprehensive review:

WHAT POSITION IS YOUR CHURCH SITE IN? - on a search for 'church city', asks Kevin McCord:

PLEASE HELP A RESEARCH PROJECT: Bible college student Ceri needs your help for a short anonymous questionnaire for anyone involved in church website development:

PLEASE LINK NOW: we now have a small graphic button you can use to link to the church website design tool:


ITALICS. When should you use italics online? Just because whole blocks of italic script are hard to read does not mean you should not use them appropriately to give added instant understanding to your writing:

PREACHING. The best metaphor for preaching is bridge-building. Your job as a preacher is to build a bridge between the ancient text and the contemporary audience. On one side of the bridge is then. On the other side is now.

NEXT GENERATION. Whether you're a pastor, elder, campus ministry leader, small group leader, or volunteer, here are five best practices when it comes to reaching the next generation:

CONTEXTUALIZATION. A very clear and simple explanation of what 'being all things to all men' means:

WRITERS - you may find EasyBit useful, the automatic bibliography composer:


- non-techies look away now

REDIRECTS: Can a simple URL redirect really lower your search engine rankings? However, you can safeguard your website now!

SITEPRO articles archive - help on many areas:

TILED BACKGROUNDS: although we will thankfully never return to the wierd tiled backgrounds of the Web c.1996, there are places where a subtle tiling effect may be desirable. Make your own here:

EMAIL OBFUSCATION - one of many methods:

FIREFOX ADD-ONS: Church 2.0 has been blogging about some of the incredible add-ons that you can integrate into your Firefox. There are some quite amazing options, including one that allows you to open any file online, if you do not have the software on your own computer to do so:

SOFTWARE: different licensed software for free everyday:

SECOND LIFE SOFTWARE. Daden Ltd produce applications to integrate with Second Life. Their latest is a Second Life collaborative multi-user browser that can be viewed within Second Life:

SPEED UP FIREFOX - with a few settings changes:

ICONS - 700 16 x 16 icons - the Silk Icons are a great download:

PROPER PUNCTUATION - escape the keyboard restrictions and use 'real' quote marks, dashes rather than hyphens, and ellipses:

BLOG COMMENTS - who owns them?

MAKING GRAPHIC BARS IN PHP: Sometimes you have data that would be better expressed with graphical bars, a visual presentation. PHP can do this automatically:

WINDOWS VISTA - useful tweaks (not needing registry changes):

PRODUCT KEY - The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is a freeware open source utility that retrieves your Product Key (cd key) used to install Windows from your registry. It also has a community-updated configuration file that retrieves product keys for many other applications. Another feature is the ability to retrieve product keys from unbootable Windows installations:

GOOGLE ADWORDS - If you have a budget for promotion, and have not yet tried (or had problems with) Google AdWords, this article will help you:

CLIENT WINDOW SIZE BY JAVACRIPT - rather than finding their screen resolution size, this script will pick up the actual browser window size they are using:

POPUPS WITHOUT POPUPS: coming next time - how to offer a once-only subscription message without popups by PHP and CSS.


JAPAN: The newly released Apple iPhone is making a hit all over Asia. But in Japan where the mobile phone has just been introduced, selling out the first day a special feature is being stressed. Among its many capabilities, the iPhone can display popular Japanese 'manga' comics:

I-PHONE BIBLE: The YouVersion iPhone Bible is gaining in Popularity, just in time for the new i-phone release:

MOBILE MINISTRY BLOG. If you want to keep in touch with how mobile devices can be used in evangelism and ministry, do sign up for the Tracking Mobile Ministry Blog:

CHINA - There are now 600 million mobile users in China:

NETWORKING using mobile devices gets easier:

WEBSITES ACCESSIBLE ON MOBILES: Want to see if your website is ready to be viewed on a mobile device (without having to have a bunch of devices to check it with)? Check it at:

And if you score badly, Dev.Mobi will help you improve your users experience:<

GABRIEL COMMUNICATOR: a device that can send Bible texts to mobile phones has won an award at the annual Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in Surrey UK. The device, called the Gabriel Communicator, can be used to send evangelistic text messages to passers-by, by means of Bluetooth technology:

MOBILE USAGE IN UK - The Mobile Data Association (MDA), a non profit UK association for vendors and users of mobile data and their advisors, has just announced its latest quarterly data report on mobile phone usage across the UK:


AGE DIFFERENCES: Jakob Nielsen's latest Alertbox says, "Between the ages of 25 and 60, people's ability to use websites declines by 0.8% per year - mostly because they spend more time per page, but also because of navigation difficulties:"

USABLE TEXT: Design agency 'Message' has launched a survey online which aims to answer some fundamental questions about usability on the web. "Many designers have their own ideas about what constitutes 'readable' text, but much of this wisdom seems to be based on tried-and-tested rules from the world of print. While researching articles on the subject they often seemed to restate concepts I first heard twenty years ago!" says Jamie Freeman, Director of Message and author of "500 Simple Website Hints, Tips and Techniques".

Message found there to be a distinct lack of hard facts on the subject. So rather than rely on anecdotal evidence and received wisdom from the book publishing world, they've launched TextPrefs.

"We have created an easy-to-use web application which allows users to adjust an on-screen display until they find the text that is easiest to read. They can adjust the font, size, line height and column width - the major contributing factors in legibility," adds Jamie.

Once the user is happy with the display, they submit their text preferences to the Message database, which will start to build up a large and detailed statistical picture.

"Our goal is to publish a report that provides hard facts about what constitutes 'readable' text on the web," continues Jamie. "We see this report being of value not just to our clients and their customers but to web users at large."

Playing with this tool confirms to me, at least, that you can get excellent online readability with Verdana font using increased line-spacing of about 150%. Try it:

PET: PERSUASION, EMOTION AND TRUST: Human Factors International (HFI), has just announced the preview of a new training programme, and ultimately a consulting practice, created to advance traditional web usability to encompass the broader elements of customer experience and engagement. "How to Design for Persuasion, Emotion and Trust (PET)":


The recent release of Chris Anderson's significant book as a paperback, is a good time to look at this insightful analysis. The concept of the Long Tail is explained here:

However, its significance goes far beyond the original retail marketing concepts, because it relates closely to modern society and Web 2.0. For instance, in online evangelism, we can simultaneously target very small niche affinity-groups, special needs or concerns. This would be impossible with other media such as books or vidoes. An outreach website might have 100 pages each written for a specific small group or interest. Although page accesses to any one page might be small, the combined effect of all the pages will be to reach significant numbers of people and draw them into the rest of the site.

Do you see any other applications for this concept?


Many sites neglect to do some very easy things that will push any webpage up the rankings in Google:


- a Christian bridge strategy site had been made using an idea like this:

Keep tabs on when your car needs servicing:


'Zoo Trip'
Little Johnny wanted to go to the zoo and pestered his parents for days. Finally his mother talked his reluctant father into taking him to see some animals.

"So how was it?" his mother asked when they returned home.

"Great," Little Johnny replied.

"Did you and your father have a good time?" asked his mother.

"Yeah, Daddy especially liked it," exclaimed Little Johnny excitedly, "especially when one of the animals came home at 30 to 1!"

Thanks to Pastor Tim for this joke:

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