Church + Mindstorm + WordPress

Over the weekend, I put a few more touches on my church’s new website and unleashed it into the wild of the internets. In my personal (and semi-professional) opinion, there is still quite a bit to be finished, but I really wanted to get it released before Sunday morning so I could let folks know about it before our revival started.

It’s completely powered by WordPress, except for the photo gallery which uses Plogger. I chose a really neat theme from LivingOS called Psi in conjunction with the RS-Events plugin to power a “Coming Events” section. The theme was “Widget Ready” as well, so I threw in a RSS widget and added the Stamey’s Russia Blog headlines to the homepage as well.

I’m very impressed with Plogger. The entire package weighs in at 1.2MB – completely tiny in comparison to Gallery and Coppermine and much faster and easier to template. I found working with it on the backend a complete piece of cake and uploading photos in batches is just as easy. I may do a more in-depth review on Plogger later on.

I still have some things to work out. My big showstopper at the moment is MP3 support. When I started the project, I wanted to be able to upload sermon audio to the web and give users the option to play the file directly in their browser without having to download the file to their computer or have a Windows Media, QuickTime, or RealPlayer plugin installed. That left me with only one choice – Flash. When I had the site in my “sandbox” I had a Flash MP3 player plugin for WordPress that worked like a charm with some files and gave others what is known as the “Chipmunk effect.” I thought I had it licked, but it showed back up when I posted Sunday night sermon. Flash has problems decoding MP3s encoded at anything other than a frequency that is a multiple of 11.025Khz. I’m recoding via Audacity at 44.100Khz, so I don’t know what the problem is – maybe a broken LAME encoder. Anyhow, it’s still screwed up and I don’t really know what else to do. Can anyone suggest any better recording software or MP3 encoder? I’m actually thinking of looking at and seeing how that works out – anyone have any experience there or with a similar service?

Also on the to-do list is some theme tweaking. The “single” page/post template needs tweaking to add the date back in and my archives are pretty much non-existent at the moment. I also need to flesh out some more content, particularly on the Deacons page and Visitors.

Please feel free to poke around the site – it’s and I’d love any suggestions whether they be technical, content related, or just your personal opinions. Big thanks to Jim at Mindstorm Hosting for giving us a free couple months of top-notch hosting while we wait for our current prepaid year at some other stupid host to expire!