Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Article on Reasonable Network Security Posted!

I just posted an article on network security. Here's the opening paragraph:
Church and ministry networks have unique security needs. Many mistakenly approach network security in our niche like they would a club or hobby, and thus don’t go far enough to protect our data and our team. Others mistakenly go so far they impede the team and increase their support call volume unnecessarily. We have worked or consulted on hundreds of networks in churches and ministries, and we have developed an approach that protects and empowers while minimizing support needs. I’ll share it with you so you can enjoy the same results.

It's available for free download from our website-- click here for the PDF!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Get Smart -- The Movie

Today while on vacation my family and I went to the movies and saw Get Smart. It was SO good! If you're a movie goer, this one's a must see. It's very funny and pretty family friendly!

The movie ties nicely to the old TV series, but not obnoxiously so... just enough to draw a good connection. It's a well done screenplay that stands on its own and may be the best movie I've seen in a couple of years! We laughed so much and so hard!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Free & Easy Posting of Excel Charts to Web

Many churches send weekly and/or monthly reports to board and committee members on a weekly basis about attendance, offerings, etc. Those reports are usually expressed as merely numbers, but could easily be turned into charts. Well, there's a new website that posts your charts on the web, does it nicely, and it's free!

I learned about this from the Mr. Excel Podcast, episode #805. It's 2 minutes well spent that may really help you get the information out in a way that communicates very well! Check it out!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Okay... So God's Still Got Work to Do in Me

Today while boarding a flight, the gate agent decided that my bag-- of all the bags in line-- needed to be put in the sizer rack to see if it was too big. There were lots of folks with larger ones, but she decided to focus on my bag. It was about an inch too long, and so had to be checked-- over my protest.

My Anger Burned!
I sat on the plane and was so angry because so many oversize bags were being stuffed into the overhead compartment! Why me? It wasn't fair!

Then I sensed God saying somewhere deep within, "Why are you so mad, Nick? Is it supposed to be fair? Are you supposed to get special treatment? Just serve me with a good spirit, and you'll be okay."

Still In Process...
Well, there you go again! Yet another time when I needed to grow! Unfortunately, I bet it won't be the last! ;~)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Article on Mac Tips & Tricks

Here's the opening paragraph from an article I just wrote:

Macs and PCs do mostly the same things, but they do them differently. Each platform has its quirks, and since I now use a Mac I’m learning some good tips and tricks that make me more productive on it. A couple of these have been in my previous Mac articles, but most haven’t. They may help other Mac users— especially those who are former PC users or who primarily support PCs— understand how to make the Mac work a little better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Congrats, Shelby Systems!

Congrats to Frank and his team at Shelby Systems on their new World Headquarters! Frank and his team just moved into their new building... how wonderful it is to see God blessing those who serve him so well!

Please, God, continue to bless and use the Shelby team as one of your sharp tools, helping many ministries in their efforts to build your kingdom! Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When Fruit Spoils

I've had an interesting ride with Apple. Working with them and their products is not quite as good and easy as the commercials would have you believe. I'm working on my 3rd replacement MacBook Pro.

I received my 2nd replacement in late March. Within two weeks I was calling Apple because the hard drive had 'unregistered' files on it that couldn't be found, but were consuming about 1/3 of the drive. Then, a few weeks later I met with the lead genius at the Apple Genius Bar because of recurring 'kernel panic attacks' (think blue screen of death... only it's black).

Even though the lead genius insisted the problem was my software, Apple eventually decided it was the logic board (Mac-speak for motherboard) and replaced the unit, which I've been using for a couple of weeks now and all is well.

I called today to transfer the extended warranty coverage (Protection Plan) to the new MacBook Pro. I was surprised they were charging me for having the old system for a couple of months while they figured out what was wrong with it! Here's what I learned:
  • If you don't buy their Protection Plan, you get 90 days of free unlimited tech support plus one year warranty coverage.
  • If you buy their Protection Plan, everything changes! Your warranty doesn't kick in until the Protection Plan runs out (2 years), then the warranty coverage begins-- but you get free unlimited tech support for all three years. That's why they only refund a portion of the Protection Plan even though the request is made within 90 days.
I found that confusing! Am I the only one?

Monday, July 7, 2008

SPAM's Hittin' Hard!

SPAM seems to be on the increase! Have you noticed it too?

We host SPAM filtering for churches and ministries for a flat rate of only $50/month per email server-- regardless of how many users are on their system. Sundays are usually slow SPAM days. But yesterday our Barracuda 600 was hit by more than 132,000 emails, of which under 1,100 were valid! More than a third were unknown users!

The SPAM servers are spitting out tons of junk! How are you protecting your team?

Why Dean's One of My Heroes

Dean Lisenby is one of my heroes. He is a terrific IT guy, and has a heart that is solidly "after God's own heart."

I sent an email to him this morning, and got an auto-response that was wonderful! It said:
I'm out of the office until July 7th attempting to recover from being an email addict. I am enjoying my family and will not respond immediately. I will only be checking email once a day at night, when possible. My 6 year old daughter has made it clear that emails and text messages are not acceptable during family time.
Way to go, Dean! Thanks for prioritizing your family time! That is something you'll never regret.

Dean doesn't take himself too seriously either. When visiting the ACS offices a few years ago, I walked into a dress-up day (was it on Halloween, Dean?). Dean and I took this picture together.

Dean is one of many whom God has graciously allowed me to get to know. I'm thankful for guys like him who lead the way and show what it means to love your God, your family, and those with/for whom you work. Thanks, Dean! And he's a snappy dresser!

Lead on, brother!

A follow-up thought: I consider all who are focused on living the way God wants to be modern-day heroes of the faith. They are those that, as Paul said, others can follow if they want to know what it means to live for Christ. And isn't that what a hero is? Someone we aspire to be like?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

First Cars

My first car was a 1966 Buick Wagon Special (like the one in the picture, but mine was midnight blue) that I bought for $150 on 1970. It was a great car that my best friend and I spent hours cleaning and fixing up.

I loved that car. In fact, I still have the license plate from it hanging in my garage!

When our daughter got her driver license last fall, a friend offered to give her a car they no longer needed! It's a light blue 1986 Volvo Wagon. Amanda loves it! She spent a bunch of time cleaning it and caring for it.

Amanda's coming home from her summer mission trip in about a week-- 8 days, 22 hours, and 58 minutes, to be exact! Unfortunately I'll be out of town at the NACBA Conference, so I wanted to do something to welcome her home. I filled her car up at the station with the drive-through car wash and had it washed and waxed too. What a riot! When the power washer went over the car, I found out that the door and window seals leak a LOT! So does the moonroof seal! I got showered!

I sat there thinking about her driving such an old-- yet safe-- car, and realized there may be some wisdom in it... though I can't take credit for it since it was our friend who gave the car to her.
  • Young drivers make mistakes sometimes, and so it's nice that her car was not a big investment. If something happens to the car, I'm okay with that.
  • I think giving her too nice of a car now might set up unreasonable expectations for her future car purchases. If she started at the top of the heap, where would she go from there? That could be tough on her husband to live up to early in their marriage.
  • Having an older car that needs to be babied a little probably helps to appreciate what it takes to be considered a good steward. The one who is faithful will be given more responsibility.
Am I just trying to justify her driving such an old car? Maybe, but I don't think so... what do you think?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Make Plans for the Fall CITRT @ Seacoast Church!

This semi-annual event has become a highlight for me. It attracts IT Directors and Network Administrators from around the U.S., and the discussion is always good. If there's any way you can make it there. do so! It'll be worth your time, effort, and money! Click here to learn more.