Too cool for Old School – Sonrise Baptist Church Newnan, GA

I don’t care how cool your seeker-centric, Flash-based church website is, if an individual can’t find it with a typical search engine query, then all that energy in actionscript and video production is lost. Take for example a new resident seeking a place to worship with this simple query: ‘baptist church newnan georgia‘ … the result is everything but the overly-slick and entirely unsearchable church website for the Sonrise Baptist Church of Newnan, GA. With that, let’s get into our fast-five analysis:

Since there is clearly talent in this congregation, instead of five suggestion, I’m going to pose five piercing questions in hopes of a home-spun remedy:

  1. How easy is it to add and/or modify new features?
  2. Has any consideration been given to the visually impaired?
  3. How much navigation needs to be explained to new users?
  4. Has any consideration been given to a mobile version?
  5. Has any consideration been given to an alternate path for those w/out Flash, audio speakers and/or dial-up access?

hycw: enumerated image of some of the obvious issues

Here are 5 related scenarios that come to mind, in the same order as the questions above:

  1. Current church webmaster leaves – and some new ministries need to get online ASAP.
  2. A elderly retiree with limited vision moves to town – and does much better with dark text on light backgrounds.
  3. An individual wants to find the service time but doesn’t know how to look for ‘Easter Egg,’ fly-out menu navigation.
  4. A teen in the youth group wants to text their friends a cellphone-friendly link to an upcoming event.
  5. Someone at an office, a library or on a limited budget visits Google, seeking a church in nearby Newman, GA.

In short, this website packs a lot of WOW, demonstrating some capable coding – but at what price?

Put another way, what does it profit a church to have all the cool in the world if it can’t be found on Google?

Posted in Uncategorized

Don’t confuse a church website with … um … marital bliss

“Don’t confuse web design with football either. Or sex. Or anything else.” says Vincent Flanders in his article on ‘Don’t Confuse Web Design With Dining.’ I’ll add to that: don’t confuse your church website with ‘real people from the congregation.’ Here’s why: people don’t want to marry a church website as much as they would rather date it.

During the day, I’m a product management director for a suite of online software services that is consumed by close to 500,000 people during the course of any given day. So while I may not be an expert in something heady, like say dispensational eschatology, I am placed in a position where I’m compelled to know how the web is utilized and consumed on a daily basis – by a similar demographic.

Which is why I say with as much brotherhood as possible in this faceless, emotionless electronic medium:

Frank I love ya, but I gotta disagree with ya on this one.

What am I talking about? Well I’m responding to a very thought-provoking and well-put comment by Frank Johnson, the head honcho, super strategist and all around nice guy at Strategic Digital Outreach. A website whose feed you need to add to your aggregator right now … that’s okay … I’ll wait.

Done? Good, let’s dig in. Here’s what Frank wrote that got me thinking while I was practicing for Petra on the Stairmaster 7000 PT Stepmill:

I do have one comment/question. Since the home page is the most important page on a site, do we really want to use that space to present the idea that the “total of our church” is made up of the sum of “dates, times, places, personalities and purposes”? Assuming that by “personalities” you mean staff members (I know that’s a big assumption because you may not mean that at all), is this really what the church is?I’d much rather use the home page to introduce real people from the congregation, use the website to facilitate face-to-face meetings between those people and interested visitors, and then deal with dates, times, places, personalities, purposes, etc. in the context of a new face-to-face relationship.

That’s not to say that information shouldn’t be included on a church website. I just don’t think those data points are the essence of the church.

First, Frank – THANK YOU – I love thoughtful comments like this. Keep them coming!

Second, err … umm … well yes, we did assume a bit much. Trust me, I’m not into pastor worship so when I say “personalities” I mean more than just the staff members. And perhaps it is that ambiguity created in my writing that lead to your suggestion that we put dates, times, places, etc … elsewhere than on the front page.

Which is why I can easily agree with Frank’s assertion that a church website should facilitate face-to-face relationships. With that point of purpose I entirely agree.

However, what I strongly I disagree with is the implication (and now I’m the one making the big assumption) that the web can be anything but what it is, a medium for conveying thoughts, ideas and information that is consumed more like fast food than fine dining. Or as Vincent Flanders writes in the aforementioned article:

“Many [non profit organization] web designers confuse the web world with the real world experience of dining vs eating. When you dine it’s all about setting the mood — good conversation, the ambiance of a fine restaurant, great wine, and enjoyable company. That’s fine for dining, but in the world of the web there’s no need to set a mood. It’s like eating at a fast-food restaurant where you’ve got to get calories in your body because you don’t have time to dine …”

Mr. Flanders isn’t the only expert to make this argument. One need only dive into Jakob Nielsen, the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and various other individuals and organizations who’ve spent lots of time and money clinically researching how the web is consumed. Each in their own way concluding that we’re a bunch of lazy beasts, a description offered by Nielsen who follows that web users want the “maximum benefit for minimum effort” when it comes to information foraging. Including, I might add based on my own web servant experiences, foraging for a new place to visit on Sunday morning.

And it is for these reasons that while I agree with Frank Johnson entirely on the “what” …. I have to with great respect, admiration and Christian love … disagree on the “how.”

Bottom line, and with apologies to Romans 10:14-15:

How will they know whose site they have not seen? And how will they see whose site they have not found? And how will they find a site unless it has search-centric content? And how will it have index enabled content if the front page is a Flash page? As it is written, “How consumable are the feeds of those who preach the good news!”

Oh and Frank, because you posted a great point that inspired a post – you get a free lunch if you’re ever in my neck of the woods!

Great discussions like this are more than worth it!

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How to (really) embed Google Maps on your church website

I think it is safe to assume that getting people into the pews is a conversion goal most, if not all church websites share. But how are guests going to eat all the donuts and sleep through the sermons if they can’t figure out how to get there? One sure way to kill off the ‘it was hard to find’ excuse is embedding Google Maps on the directions page of your church website. Especially now as Google claims to have made embedding as easy a 1-2-3; though I personally think it takes about 10 real-world steps.

Steps 1-4 of how to embed a google map

Step 1:
Goto maps.google.com (phew, that was easy!-).
Step 2:
Login to a gmail account. Yeah, note that even though you’ve added Google aps to your church’s domain, you’ll still need a gmail account. Hopefully one that reflects the name of your church will get it done. Note to Google, how about adding maps to the aps? Please?
Step 3:
Now, enter in the address of your church and charity. An alternative is to enter the latitude and/or longitude (uber-geeks please take notem, that would be ‘38°53′55.55″N 77° 2′11.96″W’ in the case of my example).
Step 4:
Click on the “Save to My Maps” and either save to and/or create a new maps page for your organization.
Note: you’ll be entering 2 bits of info, the overall “Map Page” and the individual marker/location. You’ll want this so you can add other addresses markers as needed, like to an off-campus outing, picnics in the park, site of new super-deluxe mega-church construction project, etc …

step 5 of embedding a google map

Step 5:
Modify the description of your marker, taking advantage of the fact that you can enter hyperlinks – like to the rest of your church web site.

steps 6 and 7 of embedding a google map

Step 6:
Click on the “Link to this page” link.
Step 7:
Copy the stuff in the second form text field entitled “Paste HTML to embed in website” … don’t be afraid to resize the map by clicking on the ‘Customize and preview embedded map’ link – especially to make the map tall than wide to better accommodate your ‘step 5’ annotations.
Step 8:
Encapsulate the code in a division of your choosing for later CSS control, then either save it to an individual file that you’ll include in other pages, and/or paste it into your directions page – NOT YOUR CHURCH’s FRONT PAGE.
Remember, this is a Ajaxy-Javascript type of thing, adding this to your front page means you potentially create delays for first time visitors, and or blank boxes if/when the service gets overloaded.
Also, WordPress users, I might suggest using a plug-in as the editor breaks badly when embedding such iframes – unless you disable the visual editor via your user profile.
Step 9:
Test the map from as many different browsers as possible.
Step 10:
Collect metrics to see how effective this all is.

That’s it. And heading my advice in step 8 – you can see an example of it on my website over on a separate ‘direction example‘ page I created for this mad experiment.

Your mileage will obviously vary, so leave a comment and lemme know how it goes.

In the meantime, some additional bloggery on the topic:

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Why Christians Should Have Nothing To Do With Snowmobiles

7 reasons why snowmobiles are sinful, or a comic-serious example of foolish arguments often used to “prove” that certain things are “worldly” by Norman Street of Diaphero.org – reprinted with written permission:

Before I became a Christian I went snowmobiling most winter weekends and thoroughly enjoyed it. But now I see the pastime in a different light. True, the church I attend is against snowmobiles and to teach a Sunday School class I had to sign a consecration pledge stating that I do not own a snowmobile and will never ride one. I think that I would have come to this conclusion anyway, because anyone ought to be able to see (if he really thinks about it) that the whole sport of snowmobiling is “out of bounds” and Christians need to think twice before they do anything “just for fun.”

the devil's work in hot green

Perhaps it will help others to avoid this form of worldliness if I present some facts and arguments.

  1. Snowmobiles are sinful.
  2. Snowmobiling is a waste of time. Christians are always pleading that they haven’t got time for Bible study. They are too busy to help in the youth work at the church, etc., but they have time to go snowmobiling. Anything which takes up time better spent in spiritual things is wrong for a Christian.
  3. Snowmobiles are harmful to those who ride them. Not only are they in danger of harming themselves, but they may do great harm to others. The finger of suspicion points straight at snowmobiles as the likely cause of increased incidences of ruptured discs necessitating spinal fusions and many other physical ills caused by being jostled and slammed up and down in a vehicle with scarcely any springs or shock absorbers.

    Those who ride them like to invite their friends to join them in the sport. Some of these not so experienced as the owners have suffered serious injuries in accidents such as broken arms and legs. We have heard of people travelling at high speed being decapitated by wire fences. Surely it is wrong for any Christian to endanger his life in a snowmobile.

  4. Snowmobilers have a bad influence. People who own snowmobiles and spend a lot of time with them influence others to get as glued to the sport as they are and Christians should not have such obsessions except in spiritual things things related to the Lord’s work.
  5. Snowmobiling Leads to Worse Things. In spite of all I have said you may not be convinced that snowmobiles are a great evil, but you cannot deny this: they could be the thin edge of the wedge of worldliness creeping in and we must guard against small beginnings.The thing may not be so bad in itself but if it leads to sin then what are we to say? In some places it seems that all trails lead to the tavern where you will see dozens of snowmobiles parked outside.Others go in for racing and of course bets are placed, so the sport brings the Christian into the company of people who gamble and drink. Some of the worst people drive snowmobiles. What part can a Christian have in this business?
  6. The Matter of Christian TestimonySnowmobiles are an annoyance to many people.  They roar up and down polluting the air with exhaust fumes and at night their lights distract motorists and flash into people’s houses. Farmers are afraid to go out at night on their own property for fear they would be struck down. Snowmobilers have no respect for other people’s property or privacy.

    Any Christian wearing a snowmobile suit is therefore a poor testimony. He is bound to be a stumbling block to others. People will say “If that’s what Christians do, count me out. I’ll have nothing to do with Christianity.”

  7. Snowmobiles are an invention of the devil. When the automobile, “the horseless carriage” was invented, preachers warned that it was an invention of the devil and they were laughed at. But no one can deny that the automobile brought on a weekend pleasure craze which kept thousands of people away from the churches.

    How many parents regret that they ever bought an automobile or ever taught their own children to drive? Parents, knowing the dangers were always careful about how and when they used their automobiles, but their young people were reckless. Some drove too fast, killing themselves and injuring their friends. Others parked the automobile down some lovers’ lane . . .The same will be true of snowmobiles. Mark my word. So now you can understand why I will never own a snowmobile. (The fact that I cannot afford one has nothing to do with it.) Nothing could be more worldly than riding snowmobiles and a Christian is plainly told “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”.

    Furthermore, I will not have fellowship or associate with snowmobilers or with those who do not own snowmobiles but are friendly toward those who do.

Snowmobilers all sinnin' together

We would like to meet with others who feel as we do with a view to stamping out snowmobiles. If we could get enough Christians to take a strong stand on this we could form a lobby and work to get legislation enacted prohibiting the manufacture and sale of these terrible machines. We could go from there to tackling other things which take people away from the church every weekend, such as camper and larger pleasure vehicles and private airplanes.

– – – – – –

You are not serious? Of course not! But I want you to think. These are the kinds of arguments Christians use to prove that certain things practices, or pastimes are worldly. All we do is prove that we are not very smart and we succeed admirably in looking ridiculous. Many things dogmatically stated here as fact are not even true. Fallacious arguments disgust thinking people. By such arguments as I have used you could strip yourself of everything even your body as the ascetics did. No matter how tired you may be, don’t ever lie on a bed. Wicked people do that. Don’t ever print anything. There’s a lot of bad stuff in print. So, of course, we would never print Bibles.

Misguided Christians have carried this kind of twisted, illogical thinking to the point where any kind of game or sport or pastime became a sin. Piety was measured by the number of pleasures prohibited; to young and old alike, they had one answer. “You should find all the pleasure anyone needs in work. Enjoy your work. You must not indulge in the world’s foolishness. If you were the Christian you should be you would use leisure hours for Bible study and prayer. You would not be trying to fill the hours with empty pleasures.”

If I should ask you what is worldliness, how would you reply? With a list of things to be regarded as worldly? Would that be your first answer? Would that be your full answer? I have been a Christian for 50 years and a Pastor for 40. I have learned that Christians whose definition of separation is in avoiding certain things, are likely to be blind to other forms of worldliness. In the sight of God these may be far more damaging to their souls and the souls of others than some of the taboos commonly held by certain groups.

What do I mean? The spirit of Esau, who would not wait is the worldly spirit of many Christians. What they want, they want now and they get it now. This instant satisfying of every desire, this covetous, materialistic spirit makes Christians appear to be well-off. In reality they are painfully strapped with debt, very unhappy, and unable to give generously to the Lord’s work. That spirit of Esau is surely not of the Father, but of the world.

Many Christians cannot be content with anything; car, house, furniture, clothing that is not either brand new or in “mint” condition. They knock themselves out trying to keep everything up to an impossible level of perfection. And what are all these things they are so “careful and troubled” about (Luke 12:15)? Temporal things that soon must pass away. Things of this world. That obsession with things and their perfection is worldliness.

I have seen Christians totally worldly in these and other areas yet so completely unaware of the fact, that they felt themselves to be in a position to judge other Christians because they broke one of the separation taboos. Lest there be a misunderstanding at this point, we need to remember that there are some things which evangelical Christians have always felt should be avoided for the sake of one’s Christian testimony. We may not always agree on each debatable subject but we must respect oneanother’s conscience in these matters.

Sometimes the list of things prohibited becomes very long because some items are clearly worldly and sinful while others are only considered to be, although it would be difficult to show biblical proof. Such things, in that case, are nothing more than the traditions of the scribes and pharisees in “Christian” guise.

Happy are those who know the difference between truth and tradition! And happy is he who heeds our Saviour’s Word about removing the beam from his own eye before criticizing or refusing to fellowship with a brother who has only a mote in his eye.

That thing in our hearts which causes us to set our brother at naught (Rom. 14) and judge him as not qualified to serve in this or that office because he does not agree with us in debatable matters; that spirit is infinitely worse than whatever the “unseparated” brother is doing. Nor will that attitude ever help anyone to deeper consecration, because it is not the spirit of Christ.

“Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” If only that could be our prayer each day. If it is not our heart’s desire to please Him, then what? Nothing else will really work. We can make up our consecration pledges for workers to sign, we can set down lists of things to be avoided by our members, but legal requirements are not God’s way of holiness. Church history clearly shows that those who will conform to legalistic standards inevitably become pharisees.

True godliness, true consecration, true separation from worldliness and sin springs from only one motive: love for Christ in response to Calvary.

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

That Christian who is constrained by such love, and no other, is free. Free to enjoy innocent fun; Free in testimony. Free in prayer. Free in witness. Free from fear. Free from bondage. Free indeed!

note: this article was reprinted with written permission from Diaphero.org … thanks for letting us enjoy this here!

Posted in Uncategorized

Is wireless networking too complex for most churches?

Ever wonder why your church hasn’t gone WIFI yet? Flummoxed with the fact that you can’t get to your Google aps from a committee meeting? Still exchanging documents with the church office via sneaker-net? Perhaps the answer isn’t one of cheapness, but rather complexity – as explained in this recent Ars Technica report entitled ‘Home networking still too complex for most users.’

In this article, Jeremy Reimer writes:

Home networking is “pretty dismal for the average consumer,” and complexity and DRM issues are limiting the growth of the market …

… Gartner Research VP Van L. Baker believes that most consumers are unwilling to deal with the complexities of setting the SSID or enabling WPA encryption on their wireless router. He says that most consumers have a basic idea of what they would like to do with their home network, which includes sharing music and movies among various computers and devices. Baker calls the complexity of setting up a home network to share files, music and videos “the elephant in the room that no-one wants to talk about.”

Emphasis mine for a point well made. After all, when was the last time you talked WIFI with your pastor? In fact, why would you even talk the benefits of WPA versus WEP with your pastor? Sure he leads the bunch, but isn’t his expertise in other arenas?

Especially when such technologies are so poorly documented! Case in point, I’ll quote myself from an article I posted earlier this week entitled ‘Dean recommends the Netgear WGPS606 Wireless Print Server:’

… my work laptop can now print to both even from the back porch … but not without first re-writing the installation steps …

… It all works great, now if Netgear would only improve the installation instructions – as a documentation-induced failure in installing the first print server nearly had me returning the unit!

That was until I re-wrote the install process as follows …

Nearly returned the unit, moi, a guy with 25 years of experience in the field that includes some rather hairy networking and development. Once can only imagine what a church secretary and/or summer staff member goes up against! Or as Mr. Reimer reports:

“Technical complexities are typically problems that can be overcome with better software, …”

And I would add to better software:

  • better documentation,
  • better service,
  • better blogs,
  • better online FAQs,
  • better WIKI s;
  • and better BBS forums.

Such complexities also lead me to think that this is why there is also still such a great could of witlessness out there with church websites, church blogs and church email.

You’re mileage and experiences may vary – be sure to document them here in the form of a comment!

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5 to ways permanently redirect an old church domain name to a new domain name

It is no sin for a church to change their domain name. However, it is an unspeakable Internet offense if you do not provide visitors – and search engines – with a quick, simple and painless redirect from the old domain to the new. Unfortunately not all church webmasters know even 1 way to avoid said sin, let alone 5; that is until now:

While I was surfing about for candidates on another topic, I came across the home page for the Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church of Birmingham, AL … or at least what I thought was the home page.

Actually, I’m thinking it was the old home page, or a home page whose sole purpose is to redirect visitors from vhumc.org to vestaviahillsumc.org – but does so in a way that gets in the way of seekers and search engines alike.

To that end, I’ve taken the time to demonstrate five different methods of implementing a search engine friendly, permanent redirect from the old domain name to the new – and in most cases, passing along any query string that may be the result of an old bookmark:

1. mod_rewrite (via .htaccess)
# The most preferred, but also at time the most difficult of approaches
# requiring you modify your .htaccess file as follows:
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?vhumc.org$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://vestaviahillsumc.org/$1 [R=301,L]
2. Perl:
#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# some might argue that this is the most difficult method, and
# I might tend to agree as a n00b might find out that they should NOT
# delete the blank spaces and line feeds in between the quote {} tags.
#
use strict;
my $q = ($ENV{'QUERY_STRING'}) ? "?".$ENV{'QUERY_STRING'} : "";
print qq{Status: 301 Moved Permanantly
Location: http://www.vestaviahillsumc.org/$q\n\n};
exit;
3. ASP classic
' # yes, I know we live in the age of .NET, but if you note, today's subject
' # is redirecting to an .asp kinda host, so it could be the same for their
' # old domain.
< %@ Language=VBScript %>
< %
qs = ""
if(Request.QueryString.Count > 0) qs = "?" & Request.QueryString
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently"
Response.AddHeader "Location", "http://vestaviahillsumc.org/" & qs
Response.End
%>
4. PHP
< ?php
// # perhaps the easiest and most reliable solution for most of you out there
// get querystring - if it exists
$q = empty($_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']) ? "" : "?".$_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'];
// Permanent redirection
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
header("Location: http://vestaviahillsumc.org/".$q);
exit();
?>
5. JavaScript
<script type="text/javascript">
/*
# I don't prefer this method as most search engines won't get it, still
# it is sometimes the only solution a limited webmaster can muster on
# a limited budget and hosting situation.
#
# Also note we don't merely assign a value to href, there is a good reason
# for this explained here:
# http://andylangton.co.uk/articles/javascript/javascript-redirect-scripts/
*/
var qs = window.top.location.search.substring(1);
qs= (isEmpty(qs) ? "" : "?" + qs);/* capture query string */
location.replace('http://www.vestaviahillsumc.org/' + qs);
</script>

As you can see, there’s more than one way to skin the old redirect cat. Of course there is also more than one way to foul this all up, which is why I’m providing you with a list of additional reading references just in case you find you’ve caused irreparable harm to your website and reputation the above examples as is (note, you’ve just been warned with my disclaimer):

That said, if you’re still pondering which method to employ, here are my rules of thumb regarding which redirect method to use in which order:

  1. If you have shell access and the know-how:
    .htaccess (mod_rewrite)
  2. If you can’t do it .htaccess
    php
  3. if you can’t do it PHP
    Perl
  4. if you can’t do it Perl
    javascript
  5. if you can’t do it Javascript
    meta tag
  6. if you can’t do the meta tag
    hire some help

Oh and for those of you who note that I didn’t include a “how to redirect using the refresh meta tag” – it’s because one of the objectives in this exercise is to redirect to preserve search engine visibility and ranking. The unfortunate abuse by spammers of the taggery means potentially hiding your lamp beneath a basket due to no fault of your own.

For more information on how to modify the .htaccess file to redirect domains can be found here:

Still interested in reading more on the topic of redirecting from old domains to new domains? Want to see where I got and/or vetted some of my solutions?

Posted in Uncategorized

Splashing about Ocean State Baptist Church, RI

Imagine visiting a new church where entry to the chapel is blocked by a welcoming committee who insists they first ‘inspire’ you with a 10 minute interpretive dance based on their church name and slogan? How fast would you turn around for some more normalized fellowship at the local IHOP ? That’s pretty much what is happening with the Ocean State Baptist Church of Smithfield, RI website … here’s why:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

In the same way Jesus explains the generosity of the Father to the disciples in Luke 11:11-12, web masters need to do likewise with the content on their church website with the following question in mind:

What webmaster among you, if a seeker asks for the date and time of your services, will instead give him a Flash presentation of the church name and slogan; or if he asks for directions, will give him a mission statement?

Look folks, Jakob Nielsen, Vincent Flanders and host of other usability experts all say the same thing in their books and articles – the home page is the most important page of your site.

This is where users are either made to feel invited or are compelled to evade the rest of the content on your site. Meaning, if you:

  • force them to spell words, phrases and concepts they already know;
  • drag them into a vertigo inducing assault of churchy-sounding slogans;
  • make them listen to the latest creation of your hip-cool-really-swinging-praise-band; and/or
  • inflict upon them sin the above all sins – greet them with your mission statement;

then potential parishioners are going to become one-time website visitors whose bouncerate equals 100 %.

Why? because in offering such online obstacles, you show more ‘Flashination’ with cool church web-ware than giving the guest what they actually want: information about the dates, times, places, personalities and purposes whose sum presents the total of your church or charitable organization.

Anything else is merely an insulting annoyance that not only steals a visitor’s time and bandwidth, but also hides your church’s lamp under a basket.

Especially if you’ve been doing it knowingly for at least 5 years now.

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Dean recommends the Netgear WGPS606 Wireless Print Server

Weekend projects included: finalize kitchen tile job, mulch garden beds, and set-up a second Netgear WGPS606 Wireless Print Server connecting the upstairs printers with the downstairs computers, and visa versa. Moreover my work laptop can now print to both even from the back porch … but not without first re-writing the installation steps. Here’s why and how I did it …

Netgear WGPS606 Wireless PrintServerI don’t really do hardware reviews that often, but after waiting a year for both prices, reviews and features to improve on wireless print servers, I finally jumped at the Netgear WGPS606 54 Mbps Wireless Print Server w/ 4-port Switch when it was generously discounted at the local Staples this past July.

So-much-so that after successfully installing printer server numero uno, I went back for a second helping before their said bargain evaporated. The end result is that not only can all my computers see all my printers from any location on my property – but that my computers also benefit a bit from a of a boost in broadband throughput as I opted to leverage the 4-port switch feature – network wiring the PCs directly to the WPGPS606’s as the computers’ connection to the Netgear WGT624 Wireless Firewall Router; which in turn broadcasts the house’s cable modem services.

It all works great, now if Netgear would only improve the installation instructions – as a documentation-induced failure in installing the first print server nearly had me returning the unit!

That was until I re-wrote the install process as follows:

  1. Step 1 was to install the various print drivers for the various printers I own on each machine – without assigning them a port;
  2. Step 2 was enable my built-in Ethernet adapter (temporarily), disable my wireless adapter (temporarily);
  3. Step 3 was to hardwire the CAT5 network cable from your PC’s built in Ethernet adapter to port 1 on the the WGPS606;
  4. Step 4 was to make sure I had my router’s WEP key handy (Netgear WGT624)
  5. Step 5 is was then running the Netgear CD to configure everything;
  6. Step 6 was to understand that the prompt “Set up a printer” means/includes setting up the print server the first time around. Personally I would have offered that as an additional/optional step on the main menu;
  7. Step 7 was to understand that I didn’t need to generate a passphrase for the print server if I already had a WEP key established for my router (see step 4);
  8. Step 8 was to realize that “Set up this PC” should occur after the driver has been installed (see step 1) – and that I should say NO to the print driver’s installer/prompt to print a test page, waiting for Netgear’s prompt of the same;
  9. Step 9 was to make sure I had an IP address range in mind that wouldn’t conflict with the automatic IP assignment (DHCP) of my computers – then manually enter that range on the 2nd print server install when it couldn’t automatically recommend an IP address;
  10. Step 10 was to either go back to a wireless configuration for my PC (see step 2) or leave the network setup as-is;
  11. Last step was to tell my neighbors that they really need to WEP protect their router as the range of the WGPS606 is impressive.

Yeah, I know, it is a bit of a hurdle – but no more so than the installation issues I’ve read with other print servers. Moreover – I like how this print server works because as far as I can tell, as it appears to me, that just about any computer that can be addresses via a USB 2.0 port can be addressed via this server. I could be wrong on this last point – so proceed with caution.

Oh on point #11 – yeah, when I saw the neighbor’s router 3/10th’s of a mile away up the hill via the WGPS606 – I knew step 10 meant leaving the PC’s physically connected to the print server as their connection to the router and leaving their wireless card/services off.

Your installation mileage may vary – but at least I don’t need a color printer for each floor, nor do I need to locate all my PCs on the same foor!-)

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Bad Church Website Design Poster #0002 – Kitsch Art

Kitsch /kɪtʃ/ is a term of German/Yiddish origin that has been used to categorize art that is considered an inferior copy of an existing style. The term is also used more loosely in referring to any art that is pretentious to the point of being in bad taste, and also commercially produced items that are considered trite or crass1.

bad church web design poster #0002 - kitch artKitsch is the term that comes to mind whenever I see cheap, cheesy clip-art gratuitously grafted into a church website.

Sorry folks, but nothing conveys the antithesis of a rich worship experience than to see a website cluttered with Christian cruft in the form of spinning crosses, low-res icons and cliches art.

As always, you can click on the small image to see the big image.

As always, please no hot-linking w/out providing a link back here (to the article, not just the picture :-).

And as always, I welcome comments, in love, if you have an idea, suggestion and/or … um … comment.

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Bad Church Website Design Poster #0001 – Christian Bling

A new category for a new teaching toy – er, I mean tool: Bad Church Web Design Posters. Today’s entry:

“Christian Bling” – or – “Nothing says ‘welcome to our church’ like a ‘pimped-up’ splash page.”

thumbnail of bad church web design poster #00001

Click on the small image to see the big image.

With this poster’s release, don’t let me catch any of you with rhinestone crosses spinning on a splash page – then again, if you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that you shouldn’t even have a splash page, or as Vincent Flanders aptly put it in a January 2001 ibizInterview:

Wal-Mart doesn’t block the entrance to its stores by making you watch a movie or make you listen to someone who explains the history of the company. That’s what a splash page does. It blocks your visitor from getting to the meat of your site. Also, certain search engines give a higher ranking to the contents of your root page (where the splash page is located) and splash pages rarely have any information. A splash page can hurt your rankings with a search engine.

Oh, and please, no hot-linking w/out providing a link back here (to the article, not just the picture :-).

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