Category Archives: CITRT

Wings

Yesterday ended pretty well. The food at Buffalo Wild Wings was great – about 25 or so folks showed up. Got to meet Dave and Ed in-person finally and I think everyone had a good time.
wings evidence
Dave, Jason, and Ed might not fare so well in the Biggest Loser Contest if last night was any indicator…

If you happen to be one of the two or three people who follow my Twitter, you know that American managed to lose my luggage somewhere in the shuffle of me getting bumped to earlier flights, but when we got back to the hotel, American had been here with my bags, so it was a great day for flying for me. American is my new favorite airline, hands down.

Just finished up breakfast with Cisco and Nancy and we’re about to head over to Northwoods to check-in for the training. More to come later, specifically, photos of the training materials. You will be shocked.

Who Needs Geeks?

I recently overheard someone say “just because you are necessary, doesn’t mean you’re important!” I think this applies so well to the field of IT and while it’s funny, it might also make some of us do a harsh reality check.

It’s a bit ironic that only days after hearing that comment, I saw Get Me the Geeks! on 60 Minutes last night. Overall, it’s probably the most interesting 13 minutes of “news” I’ve seen on any of the major, national networks in several years. I found two bits within the story particularly entertaining:

Software companies will try and convince you it’s a hardware problem and hardware companies will do the reverse. According to one survey, 29 percent of all callers swear at their customer service representative, 21 percent just scream. The rest presumably are too exhausted to do either.

I’ve experienced this first hand before (the hardware/software dance) and it’s not particularly fun, especially when a mission-critical system is involved. Luckily, as a geek myself, I know what signs to recognize in the support person’s pre-written scripts and as a result, you can typically socially engineer your way in to getting whatever it is you want from the person on the other end of the line. I’d be interested in seeing the rest of that survey and what the other response choices were, because I seriously have a hard time believing that only half of callers get to this point of anger. I have a feeling another good chunk end up just getting frustrated, hang up without a resolution, and then call their favorite neighborhood geek.

This is the other thing that struck me as just… well, I’m not sure…

Dr. Donald Norman is an uber-geek – a professor at Northwestern University and one of the preeminent engineers in the country. He helped set the technical standards for high definition television in the U.S., but he had to hire a geek to set up his own TV.

I’m sorry, but is it really that complicated or is “PhD” just another way to spell “dumb” maybe? It really is a relatively simple process, especially with the advent of HDMI! Even before HDMI and we were using component video cables, it’s pretty simple: yellow to yellow, red to red, white to white. Done.

Anyhow, if you’ve ever had a funny experience with tech support or are at all a geek, you’ll enjoy the piece I think. Check it out.

Church IT RoundTable Resources

Tony Dye has been after me this week to put together a “definitive guide to all things Church IT on the web” and it’s kind of hard to turn down such a nice guy.

A good place to start is the “official” Church IT RoundTable website – www.citrt.org. When formal plans for a RoundTable have been made, there will be information posted there. Also, the contents of this post will be mirrored there. Think of it as a portal page for Church IT.

The Church IT RoundTable world is really all about community, and that’s what all of these resources are built around.

ITDiscuss.org

There is just a wealth of information on the forum/mailing list. The two are actually linked together, so you can choose which format you’d like to use to participate. The wiki is really still in it’s infancy, but the content that is there is really quite useful.

Also on ITDiscuss.org:

Interactive Stuff:

The Podcast is the first and third Thursday of every month at 2:00 PM EST. I always look forward to Podcast Thursdays. Being a part of the live, interactive talkcast is extremely cool and no matter what your level of technical interest, I can guarantee you will learn something here.

Blogs – This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but if you’re only going to pick a few Church IT blogs to read, I’d highly recommend these four:

We also have a CITRT Planet aggregator that pulls posts from quite a few blogs, including this one. For a much more complete list of Church IT blogs, check out Clif’s blogroll in the sidebar at Appian Way.

Social Web Stuff:

Added 2008-01-10:
Church IT Survey

Church IT RoundTable IRC Chat

A little over three months ago, Jeffrey Thompson announced on ITdiscuss that he had started an IRC channel on Freenode for the Church IT RoundTable folks. I had really just began getting involved and interested in the world of Church IT and since I was already a lurker in #wordpress, I thought I might as well hop in there and chat it up a bit with the guys. It didn’t take long for the “regulars” to form a unique friendship and within just a week or two, these guys had talked me into opening up my personal wallet and traveling to Kansas City for the Fall 2007 RoundTable.

Well, here we sit, the day after Christmas, and the Church IT RoundTable IRC chat is going full-steam ahead. Most of the guys are on vacation, but yet, are still in the chat hanging out. The camaraderie that we have amongst each other is really very cool and we are always helping one another out. Here’s a quick (and by no means fully accurate and exhaustive) rundown of the regulars in the format of “Name – IRC nickname” and a link to their blog where applicable:

Tony only recently started participating after we ribbed him a good bit about it, and Jeffrey supposedly sent him some screen shots of me saying that Tony was too old for IRC, but I really don’t remember saying that – I promise Tony!

In addition to the regulars, we also have occasional appearances from some other Church IT rockstars like Jason Lee (no not that one) and Dean Lisenby. Among this list, there is a vast amount of knowledge that has been gathered through our past experiences. From VMware Server and ESX, storage and backups, networking, programming, web development, Windows stuff, Linux gurus, even a guy who used to do Novell! I can guarantee you that if you have an IT related question, we can help.

In addition to that great group of guys, we also have our own bot. Any IRC’er worth their salt knows a channel can’t be considered legitimate until they have a bot, and Jeffrey has provided us with rtbot (RoundTable BOT). rtbot is funny, witty, insulting, and even helpful from time to time. He provides us with Chuck-isms, weather reports and forecasts, whois information, Google search results, Digg headlines, insults, excuses, and larts. All in all, rtbot is a perfectly good, self-contained reason to be in the channel. He can really help you do your job!

I know by now you’re all just dying to know “How can I get in on all this fun?” – so here’s how. All you need is an internet connection (guess what – if you’re reading this – you probably have that part taken care of already) and an IRC client to connect to irc.freenode.net and join the #citrt channel. I prefer Xchat under Linux, but there is a non-free Windows version if you have $20 to spare. I really do think it’s the best! However, there are loads of others available as well.  Jeffrey listed some other clients for other platforms in that initial post to ITdiscuss and just recently created a really cool screencast that shows you how to download and install Chatzilla for Firefox and get connected to the channel.

I’ll follow up this post sometime soon with some more specific things about what to do once you’re in the channel, such as how to change your nickname and get it registered with freenode so that no one can highjack it and some of the cool things you can do with and to rtbot.

I look forward to seeing you in #citrt!

New Thinkpad

Well, after much consideration, I’ve pulled the trigger on a new Thinkpad T61.

  • Model 6459-CT
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 (2.0 Ghz with 4MB L2 cache)
  • 1GB RAM (4GB on the way from NewEgg!)Thinkpad T61
  • 15.4″ Widescreen
  • 128 MB nVidia discreet graphics
  • 80GB HD
  • CD-RW/DVD-ROM
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Vista Business

To say that I’m pumped, is an understatement. I kinda had my hand forced into upgrading thanks to the Sharepoint Training that I’m going to in a few weeks. My Thinkpad R51 has served me well for a little over two years now, but it’s a bit underpowered to run the virtual machine that we’ll be using at the training. Just the additional DDR RAM for my old R51 would’ve ran close to $200 since it’s no longer the de-facto RAM standard, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to drop that cash on a two-year old machine.

I ran across a coupon code (USPDECEMBER) that took an additional ~13% off the order total which brought the price down from $1,203 to only $1,042. They are also running a promotion with Paypal where they put $100 cash back in your Paypal account two weeks after the order is shipped – total cost is now $942 – not bad for a $1,200+ laptop!

With Christmas monies and pre-paid gift cards (thanks AT&T!), I’ll only be chipping in right around $600, and that includes the 4GB RAM upgrade from NewEgg. A Thinkpad T61 for 50% off – Merry Christmas to me!

I’ve already started thinking about names and I think it will either be Tank or Dozer to stay with my Matrix theme.

As an added bonus, Bonnie will inherit Neo, and I think it will continue be a fine laptop for her needs. Me – I’m looking forward to the jump to the T-series and the nicer finish on the exterior of the chassis.

Moscow 2008

I guess now is as good a time as any to let everyone know that Bonnie and I are planning to return to Moscow on another mission trip in the spring of 2008 if everything works out well. The current itinerary has our date of departure as March 20 and we’ll be home on March 31. That means we’re leaving less than five months from today.

We definitely have our work cut out for us as far as fund-raising is concerned. As of this moment, we have 11 confirmed team members, and at least five more are still considering it. One of those five is my dad! I really hope that he feels led to go, because I think it would be awesome to get to work alongside him. Our team leader currently has our goal set at $25,000, but that could easily go up beyond $30,000 if all the others decide to go.

I have no doubt it will happen – but it’s hard to see that far in to the future right now, especially with the holidays fast approaching. We have two events planned already: a yard/bake sale on Saturday, November 3 and our usual Poor Man’s Supper and Auction on Saturday, November 17.

Now, I know I have readers all over the United States, Canada, and probably other parts fo the world as well, so this is where you come in. I know you can’t attend our in-person fund-raising events, but you can still help in a couple of ways. First and foremost – pray. Pray for myself, Bonnie, and our entire team. We know that God has called us to this work and we want to be sure to stay in His will. The second thing you can do is give.[1] The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We don’t want you to donate anything that belongs in your church, but if God has blessed you, please do consider going over and above your tithe and support the work that God is doing in Moscow. If you’d rather give offline, just leave me a note and I’ll get in touch with you. Finally, talk it up! Help me spread the word! The more people we have praying, the better. Also, I’ve setup a Moscow Mission 2008 page on the Crestview website to take online donations. I know a lot of you have blogs, so post a quick note linking back to this page so folks can find this information.

I really hope that most of all, you will be in prayer for us. From our previous two trips, we can tell you that it does make a difference. I’ll be sure to continue posting updates as our plans solidify and as we get closer to departure time.

P.S. – Oh yeah, I selfishly tagged it with CITRT so it would end up in the Planet feed. :-D

[1] All contributions are fully tax-deductible.