Tag Archives: web2.0

Gospel Software, LLC

11 Feb

Almost a year ago, I formed Gospel Software, LLC with two friends from my church.

It’s been a joy to work with Jordan and Scott over the last year and we’re now to the point of beginning to heavily promote our three web applications to churches. These are two brothers I can learn a lot from – both technically and spiritually. I would be hard pressed to find two better business partners.

I just released a new version of the Gospel Software Directory a few minutes ago. I had wanted a nice online photo directory for our church for quite a while. I finally wrote a simple bare bones version a few years ago and ended up using it all the time, so I thought there might be a market for the product. Over the last year, I wrote a completely new version, and it’s now available for churches to try out and purchase.

This new version is just the beginning. I have a long list of enhancements I’ll begin rolling out over the next few months. The other two products are fantastic.

I had thought about developing a program to manage worship songs back in the mid-eighties, but I was never motivated enough to do anything about it. When Jordan showed me his SongBook application, I was blown away – it did everything I had thought of and much more. And of course it was web based since the internet had been invented since I began thinking of a similar program 🙂

Scott’s GuestView program is something I use regularly as I follow up with visitors to our church. It’s so handy and easy to use. I get an email when I need to call a visitor, then I can enter notes about our conversation, and if they’d like information from another leader in the church, I can notify the appropriate people.

I’m excited about seeing what will be happening with Gospel Software, LLC this coming year.

We do have an affiliate program that rewards both the affiliate and any church they refer. Contact me for details if you’re interested.

Amazon MP3 Downloads

20 Feb

This may be old news to many, but I discovered Amazon MP3 downloads and it’s been a nice alternative to itunes. MP3 files are so much easier to deal with than the DRM ridden itunes format.

del.icio.us Tag Bundling

3 Nov

I’ve written about del.icio.us several times before (use the search box to find the articles). I’ve been using the service for quite a while and still consider it to be one of the most valuable web services I use.

I just discovered the tag bundling feature from this article and tried it out. Tag bundling, as you might expect, allows you to group your tags. For example, my first bundle was “people”, so now I can see all my people tags in one group. I’ll be adding more bundles soon.

If you’re not using del.icio.us, you should really check it out. And if you, are and don’t know about tag bundling, give it a shot.

del.icio.us makes it easy to share tags – for example, here’s a link for my bookmarks on the Ruby programming language. I haven’t discovered a similar way for sharing bundles, so if you know, please leave a comment.

Social Bookmarking

7 Aug

Here’s a video that explains why using a site such as del.icio.us can be useful. I think they may have failed to mention that you can mark bookmarks as private on del.icio.us, so it’s not necessary to expose your bookmarks to the world. However, in my case, I only mark a small fraction as private.

I’ve been using del.icio.us for quite some time. After I had been using it for a while, I realized that it had been a long time since I bookmarked something in my browser because I had developed a habit of bookmarking in del.icio.us. Most browsers force you into placing a bookmark into a hierarchical, or directory, structure, but on del.icio.us you can assign as many “tags” as you like to a particular bookmark so you can search for things more easily. del.icio.us also allows you to export your bookmarks so you aren’t at the mercy of a proprietary service.

Another thing that is handy is to subscribe to the del.icio.us feeds of your friends to be automatically notified when they bookmark something that may be of interest.

Google Reader

30 Jul

I hate to promote Google given their trajectory to take over the world, but I just switched over to Google Reader for reading RSS feeds. I had accumulated over 60 RSS feeds, and it was becoming difficult for me to determine which feeds I should keep and which I should delete.

I was hoping for an automated tool that would keep track of which feeds are beneficial and Google Reader has exactly what I was looking for!

The trends feature will keep track of which articles I read from each feed and report on the total number and the percent. So, over time, I’ll be able to easily delete the feeds that have a low number and/or low percentage of read articles. If you decide to use Google Reader, you should be aware of some idiosyncrasies. When viewing in “Expanded view”, the default is to mark articles as read when you scroll past them which totally defeats the trends feature. You can turn that off in the settings.

settings | preferences | scroll tracking

I like using the “list view” instead which allows me to quickly view the titles. After I’ve read the articles I want to from a feed, I click “mark all as read” and Google Reader is smart enough to not count those in the “read” statistics.

If you’re already using a different RSS reader, you can easily import all your feeds via an opml file. I was using Liferea and had folders of feeds, and I had also renamed the feeds – the import to Google Reader kept track of all of that – nice.

Google Reader has a lot of other nice features such as keyboard shortcuts, tags, folders, etc., but once I discovered the trends feature, that was all I needed to see 🙂

I suppose the trends feature can be “unfair” though. Consider the following scenario:

  1. You have two feeds A and B
  2. Each day each feed publishes 10 articles
  3. The feeds overlap on 5 articles that are worth reading
  4. Feed A has 1 unique article that you read
  5. Feed B has 3 unique articles that you read

If the feeds are read in alphabetical order, then you’ll read the 5 overlapped articles from Feed A along with the 1 unique article -> total = 6, or 60%. Then you’ll read the 3 unique articles from Feed B -> total = 3, or 30%. The stats will show Feed A as being twice as valuable when clearly Feed B is more valuable. I suppose to get good stats, I should read the feeds in random order, but that seems difficult to manage.

UPDATE: ah, never mind. Simply view the folder that contains A & B and you’ll see the union of their articles in chronological order – whoever gets the overlapped story first wins 🙂

LibraryThing.com

19 Apr

About five years ago, in an effort to organize my library and be able to share titles of interest with other people, I created a simple XML file to catalog my books. Using an XML file allowed me to easily transform the data to be displayed on a web page, but it was time consuming since I had to type everything in by hand, and over the years it stagnated and I stopped updating it. I recently thought I’d update the file, but before I got around to doing it, a friend of mine (Chip H.), mentioned LibraryThing.com, so I checked it out.

It was incredibly easy to use – just type in the ISBN (or other info such as title), and LibraryThing will grab the rest of the data from Amazon or the Library of Congress. Alternatively, you can buy an inexpensive bar code scanner and scan the bar code on a book to save a little typing. The price is free for 200 books or less, but I found it so useful, I signed up for a lifetime membership for $19. They say the lifetime membership is $25, but when you go to pay you’re given a choice of amounts, so I naturally picked the lowest one.

You can see a partial tag cloud of my books below. I haven’t spent much time tagging, but it will give you somewhat of an idea of the type of books I have. Click on one of the tags to see a list of my books with that tag:

The full tag cloud is: here

You can also rate & review books. I found it fascinating to see which of my books were most/least in common with other people on the site. They have over 170,000 users and 11 million books in the system, so you can get some pretty good statistics. I have 48 titles that no one else on the site has (or possibly wants 🙂 ).

They provide an export capability so you can obtain a tab-delimited text file or csv file, and there are a lot of other features that I haven’t tried out, but just the ability to import book data by typing an ISBN number was enough to get me hooked.

UPDATE: the site is listed as ‘beta’, but I haven’t experienced any issues until today. Andrea just gave me a list of 130 ISBN numbers, so I used the import facility to import them all. It worked fine, and Andrea was able to tag most of the imported books, but I just discovered that the public can’t view any of the imported books. I emailed LT; I’ll be interested in seeing how long it takes them to fix this bug.

As I was typing this update, I was notified of an email response from Tim (the owner) who stated he’d take a look at it tomorrow 🙂

UPDATE: Tim has fixed the problem I had with imported books not being visible. Now there is a minor problem with tags containing & characters. I expect that will be fixed shortly.

del.icio.us

10 Apr

In my opinion, del.icio.us is one of the more useful Web 2.0 applications. In a nutshell, del.icio.us allows you to do the following:

  1. Easily create a bookmark/favorite for a web site that’s stored on a remote server
  2. Add tags and notes to your bookmarks
  3. Export your bookmarks from del.icio.us
  4. Provide an rss feed for your bookmarks
  5. Provide an rss feed for your tags
  6. Search del.icio.us for web sites that have been bookmarked by others
  7. Use blogging utilities

Let’s consider some of the implications of the above.

1. Remote bookmarks

By storing your bookmarks on a remote server instead of in your browser, you gain three significant benefits. First, if you use more than one computer (or upgrade to a new one), you’ll never have to synchronize bookmarks between computers or suffer from having an important bookmark on a computer other than the one you’re using. Second, by storing your bookmarks on a remote computer that is professionally managed, you’ll have a backup of a very important set of information. Third, you can easily share your bookmarks with others. del.icio.us allows you to mark bookmarks as private, so you can pick and choose which bookmarks you’d like to share, and which you don’t.

2.Tags!

Web 2.0 is all about the tags 🙂 Seriously, hierarchies can be useful, but for bookmarks, I feel that assigning a set of tags to a bookmark is much more useful than trying to place a bookmark in a particular spot in a hierarchy of bookmarks. del.icio.us allows you to edit your tags, rename them, etc., if you don’t get it right the first time. This is particularly powerful in conjunction with searching other peoples’ bookmarks – just think of how awkward it would be to search through each person’s peculiar hierarchy.

3. Export your data

This feature was absolutely essential for me to use del.icio.us. I wasn’t about to add all my bookmarks to a remote server only to be held captive by del.icio.us. Fortunately del.icio.us allows you to export your data, so you can take your bookmarks and go home whenever you want.

4. RSS feed for bookmarks

This feature is quite useful. It allows you to add an RSS feed of your friend’s bookmarks to an RSS reader, so you can be notified of new bookmarks your friend has recently added. Usefulness depends on the person whose bookmarking you’re following 🙂

5. RSS feed for tags

Same as 4, but for following new tags instead of bookmarks.

6. Search

del.icio.us has some great searching facilities. Since del.icio.us knows about a ton of sites that have been bookmarked by people, it can provide intelligent search capabilities that can exceed a purely mathematical approach such as Google in some cases.

7. Blogging utilities

Link rolls, tag rolls and badges, oh my. del.icio.us allows you to place a tag roll on your web site (note my tag roll does not reflect my priorities 🙂 ).

It also allows you to display your latest bookmarks:

my del.icio.us

Get Started

Sign up for a free account on del.icio.us. They make it easy to import your current bookmarks/favorites. If you’d like to share your bookmarks, let me know your account name when it’s setup.

You can see my del.icio.us bookmarks here

And my bookmark RSS feed is here

If any of you existing del.icio.us users would like to share your bookmarks, either post a comment with your account, or email me privately.