Blog

Posts by Jeff Geerling about life, marriage, religion, philosophy and technology. Formerly titled 'Matthew 12:37 - Blog by a God-fearing Man'.

New St. Louis-area Catholic Blogger

There's a new blog in town: thiscatholicgirl, by friend and former co-worker @ESWesthoff in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She's witty, funny, and has good insight.

While I'm on the topic of new things, I can't forget to mention that I've been brushing up a bunch of new reviews of microphones and audio devices, and I'm hoping to start testing the iPhone 5 with as many audio gadgets as I can to supplement my article External Microphones for iPhone 5, 4S, iPad and iPod Touch Audio input. More to come!

16-bit Catholic Podcast - CNMC and politics

I was honored to appear on Dustin Faber's 16-bit Catholic podcast this week. We spoke about CNMC 2012 (see my summary post) and some recent news concerning politics and bishops. Give the episode a listen here!

Catholic New Media Conference (CNMC) 2012 - Wrap-up

CNMC 2012

This year's Catholic New Media Conference (held in Arlington, TX), came by so fast I didn't really have time to prepare any blog posts before hand, post pictures during the conference, or summarize individual sessions.

In years past (2011 and 2010), I've tried to dump pretty much everything I learned on my blog... but this year's CNMC was so much more broad-reaching that there was no way I could keep up with all the great content!

Tech Summit

Along with Matthew Warner, I helped organize a Tech Summit on the first day of this year's conference. We talked about mobile apps, the mobile web, the Catholic development community, and much more. We wanted to try to bring together individuals involved in Catholic web design and development, software programming, etc., to share stories and think about ways we can help each other and the Church to have a stronger influence in the tech world, and an improved channel of communication through the Internet.

Some highlights from the Tech Summit:

  • Josh Simmons from eCatholic spoke about what makes a good parish website—design, content, freshness, and mobile-friendliness.
  • During an 'App and Development Expo,' I presented the Catholic Diocese App, an open-source project to help every Catholic Diocese have an app for iPhone and/or Android.
  • Dane Falkner of Surgeworks talked about development processes and the reasons why (or why not) your organization should have an app. Focus and good wireframing are key to having a good and usable app.
  • Andrew Jones talked about Logos' bible software for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and some of the great features for learning sacred scripture and other texts.
  • Jeffrey Pinyan introduced his Catechism API, which allows developers to integrate the Catechism in their websites and apps, and even has a nifty feature that allows embedding snippets of the Catechism in a website with all references and info intact.
  • Flocknote introduced its new iPhone app (waiting for App Store approval).
  • Matthew Warner and I spoke about the importance of our collaboration and use of standards in Catholic development, so we can be a relevant force in the world today, and in the future, when it comes to software and websites.
  • Flocknote announced a Catechism mailing list for the Year of Faith, where you can sign up to receive daily Catechism readings courtesy of the Catechism API.

Jeff Geerling and Matthew Warner at CNMC Tech Summit

  • I spoke about Open Source Catholic and my hope that it will be a center for collaboration between Catholic web and app developers, designers, and others.

CNMC Celebration and Networking Day

Because of my involvement in the Tech Summit, I missed the other great presentations on Wednesday... but on Thursday, I was in the main CNMC conference room, with sponsor booths lined up in the back, along with many others (I hear there were something like 100 more registrants this year than last!).

Things kicked off with a great overview of the past seven years of Catholic New Media involvement by Fr. Roderick, and an eerie but poignant video highlighting the importance of bringing the soul to the Internet.

Throughout the day I built up my cnmc-attendees list on Twitter (I've been trying to include everyone I've noticed at every CNMC for the past four years!).

Some great names in Catholic new media introduced some awesome ideas and spoke about a diverse array of topics:

  • Elizabeth Scalia of The Anchoress told us about her story, her methods for dealing with less-than-kind commenters, and her writing process. She mentioned that email from her readers really helped her keep going sometimes; as long as we let the Holy Spirit work through us, we're letting God work through us and affect people's lives.
  • Rob Kaczmark from Spirit Juice Studios gave a ton of great advice to those creating video content on YouTube (and elsewhere). Professional production costs money (so don't cheap out!), other Churches and organizations are putting out tons of high quality and modern content—Catholics, not as much. Makeup and hair are important for good video—even for 80-year-old priests! (btw, my YouTube channel is here: geerlingguy).
  • Brandon Vogt talked about how other groups (Mohrmans, Atheists, etc.) are killing it online, while Catholics are lagging behind. SEO (making our stuff show up in Google and YouTube searches) is really important. Having good site navigation and structure that is user-centered, and using language that's not 'Churchy' and incomprehensible to non-Catholics... these are virtues of good Catholic presences online.
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop in Indianapolis, brought a little Augustine into the discussion. We need to be 'conciliating the hostile' online. We should always take the high road. We should preach Christ, then His Church. Content is king, but quality is queen. Talk more about what you're for, not what you'reagainst. Step out of a conversation if it becomes ad hominem.

Collin Raye CMN Trade Show Dinner

  • Aletia, a new website set up by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was announced at a Catholic Marketing Network dinner (see more here). (Collin Raye also played a few songs and shared a story from his own life during the dinner).

Catholic Bloggers' Summit

Because of a meeting taking place most of the middle of the day, I was only able to attend the first and last parts of the Catholic Bloggers' Summit on Friday... but it was still a great experience.

Jennifer Fulwiler, of Conversion Diary, reminded us of the importance of proper use of time online in her keynote. She said, "How many minutes of your day do you spend online? How many in prayer? What's your ratio?" The world won't stop if you are away from your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's true! Your blog is not about you. People read blogs more for the stories than for the argument. Be ready to step away from the blog if the Holy Spirit calls you to do so.

Some breakout sessions were held by a variety of bloggers, and from what I've read on Twitter, they were equally enlightening. I'll try to summarize them when I can, but for now, just head over to the #cnmc12 hashtag on Twitter and read through midday tweets on August 30, 2012.

At the end of it all, I and others talked a bit longer, said our farewells, and headed either to a bed to get some much-needed sleep, or a bar to continue the 'IRL' conversations later into the evening.

Flocknote Meeting

The CNMC was the first time all the Flocknote staff met in person since we hired our new Happiness Engineer, Kaitlyn Rawley. We had a great all-hands-on-deck meeting during part of the last day of CNMC, and during the meeting, we snapped some new staff photos. We'll be updating things here and there accordingly, but here are a few headshots to give some idea of how crazy (and crazy-awesome) the Flocknote team is:

Matthew Warner - Flocknote     Kaitlyn Rawley     Jeff Geerling - Flocknote

We're working on some awesome new things at Flocknote, and it's really the best communications tool for parishes and other Catholic organizations that have a variety of ministries and groups! Check out how Flocknote can help your organization.

Odds and Ends

The conference was awesome. This was by far the best CNMC to date, especially with regard to the diversity of the attendees. I met people working in social media, software development, communications, blogging, marketing, and other fields, and I think everyone was able to take away something great.

The WiFi and Internet connection at the conference was very reliable and fast (here's basically how it was set up: WiFi for small conferences), and kudos to Steve Nelson, Fr. Roderick, Maria Johnson, Inge Loots, and all those from SQPN who helped make this such a wonderful event!

Lake at CNMC with Sports Arenas
Lake and sports stadiums in Arlington, TX; conference center out of frame to right.

I'm looking forward to #cnmc13, are you?

More resources and other summary posts:

Tweet your Keynote Presentation - While you're presenting

I recently became aware (thanks, @ppadley!) of a pretty awesome little AppleScript that pulls tweets out of your Keynote presentation's Presenters Notes and posts them to your Twitter timeline. Unfortunately, though, the simple way it used to work was broken when Twitter switched to using oAuth instead of 'basic' (username and password) authentication for using its API.

Luckily, the project, Keynote Tweet, was updated and posted to GitHub, and works in tandem with twurl, a simple Ruby-based command-line Twitter client. Here's how you can get these things working for your own presentations:

Set up a Twitter App for API Access

Twitter - Create Application

Before you can post to Twitter from your computer (or anywhere besides an existing Twitter app/client, really), you need to create a Twitter App so Twitter will let you interact with the Twitter API.

Go to https://dev.twitter.com/apps/new, and fill out the form. Edit the app's settings and set your app to 'Read + Write' access, and then save the settings. Copy your consumer key and consumer secret and save these for later.

Install and configure twurl

On Mac OS X, since you already have ruby installed, you just need to install the twurl gem (which will also install the oauth dependency). In Terminal, enter the following command (without the $):


$ sudo gem i twurl --source http://rubygems.org

Wait for the install to finish, and when it's all done (and you're back to the terminal prompt), you need to authorize twurl with your consumer-key and consumer-secret (from the earlier step). Enter the following command in the terminal, substituting the all-caps keywords with your key and secret:


$ twurl authorize --consumer-key KEY --consumer-secret SECRET

After you press enter, twurl will return a URL and some instructions. Copy just the URL and paste it in your browser window. Then click on 'Authorize App', copy the key code from Twitter, and paste it back in the Terminal, then press enter again to save the key. Twurl should report that everything is good to go!

Add Tweets to your Presentation

In your Keynote presentation, add tweets by adding text inside [twitter][/twitter] in individual slides' presenters notes. Then launch the Keynote Tweet app (if you get a 'this app is unsigned' notice, right or control-click the app and select Open to open it), and enter in a hashtag if you'd like one to be added to all your tweets. Click okay, and then start your presentation (while the Keynote Tweet app is running). Your tweets should be posted to Twitter when you go to slides with the tweets in the presenters notes.

iPhone - A Powerful Tool for the New Evangelization

Elizabeth Westhoff, the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Director of Marketing, wrote an excellent article summarizing the many ways she and others in St. Louis are using iPhones and a shoestring budget to promote the faith through video, pictures, social media, etc.

I love this section:

The production of each of these videos is something unseen in most other archdioceses across the country and for those of us who have been involved in their production; it has been a complete labor of love with an understanding that it is yet another way of getting out the messages of Christ.

One of the most amazing things we have been able to do is to use our iPhones as recording equipment.

When one or two of us go out on these “simple” video shoots, I’m always afraid the people on the other side of the “camera” are thinking we’re not prepared, or professionals, or something else along those lines. We show up with a tripod, lights from Home Depot, a battery-operated microphone, an iPhone and nothing else. We have everything we need, really.

The most important part of any creative endeavor is creativity, something which is not lacking in St. Louis! Using an iPhone as a substitute for a professional video camera or audio capture device is not only possible—it's happening every day! The most popular article I've ever written on this site is my guide to external microphones and input adapters for audio recording on the iPhone and iPad.

GuitarJack Model 2 with Lavaliere Microphone

Use the tools you have to make the best media you can. And heck, the tiny camera and headset jack on my iPhone 4s provides a better picture and cleaner sound than even the most expensive shoulder video camera from ten years ago!

Read the article: e-Vangelization in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

(This article was cross-posted with Open Source Catholic.)

Manage your Passwords Wisely

This is somewhat of a PSA: There have been many high-profile hacking cases lately where millions of user account passwords have been exposed. If you're anything like the majority of the population, and you're using one password for more than one website, you should stop doing that as soon as possible and switch to a more secure password strategy.

I've outlined what I do on Midwestern Mac's website: My Password Management Strategy.

You can't blame me for one of your accounts being accessed by a hacker! Also, if you're a web developer or application programmer, and you're not salting, stretching, and hashing all user passwords with something like SHA-2, you need to do that yesterday.

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