Sep 272010
 

Where do you get started with social media? For most people who are just getting started because someone invited you to join Facebook, what’s next? Most people aren’t veterans at this new big deal called social media or what some still call new media (academic-speak?).

With millions of articles and blog posts and and books and resources about social media, it can be daunting and paralyzing to get your hands around it. Most concisely, “Social networking is all about communication. People with common interests are able to share information with each other via a huge variety of social networking sites…

So let’s tackle how to understand social media in 4 stages, sort of a crawl, walk, run:

1. Introduction to social media. Use one or more of these to get a basic framework to understand why social media is valuable and how it works in general.

Watch this Social Media in Plain English video intro by CommonCraft :

Social Networking in Plain English

Social Networking Guide for Beginners (about.com)

How Social Networks Work (howstuffworks.com)

White Paper: A Primer in Social Media (by smashLAB)

There you go! Any questions so far? How much of social media has become a part of your weekly or daily routine, beyond email, assuming email is already a part of your daily routine?

The next 3 stages will be covered in upcoming posts of this blog series, and they are: tutorials, strategies, and news & trends.

Sep 202010
 

Pastor Bob Roberts is stepping out in faith as an evangelical church leader and hosting a Global Faith Forum this November 11-13 in Keller, Texas, near Dallas. Watch this video of my interview with Bob Roberts, and catch his heart on why he talks graciously with non-Christians, builds friendships, and how he’s hosting this multi-faith forum:

In this time of tension between faiths, this Global Faith Forum comes as such an important time, for Christians and Muslims and Jews and other faiths to be respectful of one another’s faith and yet allow one another to hold on to their faith convictions in contrast to some other inter-faith conversations where genuine differences are glossed over. While there may be misunderstandings, that’s all the more reason it is so importance to be engaging in conversation with other faiths in this day and age and this Global Faith Forum is hosting that conversation.

Bob elaborates further on why we need a Global faith forum at his blog. He also made this video with the Prince Turqi of Saudi Arabia, where they interview each other. What a great example of multi-faith dialogue! It’s this kind of conversation that’ll be happening at the Global Faith Forum this November.

Sep 192010
 

You don’t have to GoDaddy.com for your domain name or web hosting. (I confess that I do use them on certain occasions.) Whether it’s a moral scruple or horror stories (cf NoDaddy.com), here’s a list of alternative domain name registrars that have competitive pricing (under $10 per year, in no particular order):

Of course, not all domain registrars are equal. Cost shouldn’t be the only factor in choosing a registrar. Read the fine print and reviews for customer support, responsiveness, and extra features that may be included in registration (like DNS management, Whois privacy…), or discount bundles with web hosting.

Useful web services for your research and consideration: Compare domain registrars side-by-side |Domparison.com – domain name price comparison search engine |HosterStats.com – domain name statistics | InstantDomainSearch.com – check domain availability as you type.

Add a comment to list more. I know there are many more registrars; cf. official list of ICANN-accredited registrars. Just haven’t done a price check for ‘em all.

Sep 182010
 

There are still a handful or so companies that provide free website hosting with FTP, even in the aftermath of very popular early-’90s personal website hosts like Geocities / Fortunecity / Angelfire / Tripod.

It is harder to find a web host that has FTP (file transfer protocol) functionality that allows file uploading so you can develop and build your own custom web pages. Most of these web hosts also provide some kind of a web-based template fill-in-the-blank dashboard too. That’s to say, there are many more free website services that don’t support FTP and have a web-based content editor. By the way, why would you want a free website hosting with FTP? They’re great for learning how to develop a website in a working environment that’s not your local hard drive.

Not sure how they afford it, whether having FTP or not. Probably they’re hoping for an upsell, and getting a little ad space on all the rest. You could call it freemium.

There are more listed at http://www.free-webhosts.com.

Sep 172010
 

Now there are some very powerful WordPress theme frameworks that enable you to build custom layouts in various WYSIWYG visual editor fashion! This makes WordPress themes more dynamic, because now you can click and drag to create columns and/or boxes where you want them, colors, fonts, or whatever.

This new genre of WordPress theme frameworks take it up another level beyond customizable WordPress themes where you might be able to choose from a color scheme, or a set number of layouts, or add widgets, or use various functions. And, these theme frameworks have functionality to customize design without having to touch code (cf. ThematicAshfordWP FrameworkTheme HybridSandbox) and you don’t have to build and develop a child theme, plus (most have) dynamic layout! (you don’t have to be constrained to choosing from a few or even a handful options)

Each theme framwork has its own way of managing functions and features, and one may be easier to use depending on your intuitive sense. Here are the ones currently available (at time of this writing, in no particular order):

  • Genesis by StudioPress. $59.95. “… built on a simple, vanilla blog-type parent theme, and can be extended with the use of child themes… the first commercially developed theme to include automatic updates… BuddyPress compatible…”
  • Headway by Headway Themes. $87 or $164. “… ease of the drag and drop layout editor and the vast amount of options. Besides having superb design options, developers will be able to style everything with their own CSS and custom hooks. …” [reviews: wptavern]
  • Thesis by DIYthemes. $87 or $164. “… remarkably efficient HTML + CSS + PHP framework and easy-to-use controls that you can use to fine-tune each and every page of your site with a tactical precision…”
  • iTheme Builder ” $297 to $497. iThemes Builder is a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use WordPress theme designed to allow you to quickly build websites and blogs with WordPress. With Builder’s innovative Layout Engine, you can build almost any layout you’d like within minutes. Then bling out your site with graphics and styling.
  • We created Builder for ourselves … so we could rapidly build customized client sites. We think it’s the premiere tool for web designers who don’t want to mess with code … so you can focus on design and content…” [reviews:wptavern]
  • Carrington Build by Crowd Favorite. $149 to $499. “… Developers love the reduced reliance on custom code and the resulting ease of site maintenance and upkeep. Designers love being able to apply different visual treatments to different areas or the site and specific pieces of site content without having to write any PHP code.”
  • Elemental by Pro Theme Design. $59.99 or $149.99. “… packed with options to make your life easier, including customizable layouts, typography settings, navigation, widgets, custom page templates and everything else you need to make the theme your own.”
  • Canvas by Woo Themes. $70 or $150. “…Every element of Canvas is highly customizable through our options panel, so you can make the design, layout and typography exactly like you want.”

More commentary about WordPress theme frameworks at sixrevisions,  CMScriticmostinspiredWordPress Codexbloggersbasetechnosailor.

I don’t have the money or time to try each of these theme frameworks thoroughly. A comparison chart of the various features and usability of these would certainly be most helpful.

Sep 172010
 

I have no idea who all might visit this website, so thought I’d put it out there to see how it can reach the right person(s) who could respond to this incredible opportunity to support Kingdom work in an upcoming event that “the Lausanne Movement” is having in South Africa called Cape Town 2010 this October 16-25, that’ll gather 4,000+ Christian leaders from around the world to address global issues on behalf of the Church.

I received this email today from a reliable source (not named just in case that’d be a sensitive matter) about the Cape Town 2010 financial need & fundraising effort as it pertains to Asian Americans :

In the last couple of weeks, an Indian American businessman and a Korean American businessman both pledged $1 million each to Lausanne World Congress to further the work of world evangelization.  The mainland Chinese house church leaders under pressure and attacks from the government have just sent in their final total amount of $350,000 to Lausanne to support 100 neighboring participants from developing countries in South Asia and Africa yesterday.  An Overseas Chinese church in the US has pledged $7,000 USD.

Lausanne World Congress Contribution Pledges: (last 2 weeks)

Korean American =      $1,000,000

Indian American =       $1,000,000

Mainland China =      $350,000

Chinese Am =        $7,000

The Apostle Paul in (II Cor 8:1-15) encourages the Corinthian church to “excel in this grace of giving” by showing how the Macedonian churches who “under the most severe trial and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity”.   With less than a month to go and another $2 million yet to raise, I want to ask the Chinese American church.

“With Lausanne III congress being possibly the most significant event for World Evangelization and Missions and especially the church in China in the next decade, where are the Chinese American and Overseas Chinese American Christians?”

…  With only 3 week left, time is running out.

… due to time urgency, please feel free to pass this message along to any Chinese American or Overseas Chinese Christian who has a heart for missions and the gift of giving

While I realize that when it comes to major donor gifts and donations, it almost always requires a personal relationship to make that connection, my hope in posting this in the open is that it’d raise awareness of the need and even a topic of conversation about giving and generosity in an Asian American context. If you know of someone who’d want to financially support Lausanne, whether Chinese American or not, please contact me and I’ll promptly put in you touch with the right person.

Sep 152010
 

I’m still around. Living an active lifestyle. And with the new school year, there’s been some new activities.

One of them is a web design class at Biola University. That one is eating my lunch, actually, dinner, since it’s an evening class once a week. It’s taking a lot more prep than I first anticipated. And I’m quite ambitious for the students in the class, with hopes that several will emerge as great web designers that could build premium WordPress themes and the like. Yes, going from zero to sixty-five in less than 15 weeks.

One is facilitating a pastors’ cohort group of next gen Asian American pastors. Leadership development is an on-going effort, and the textbooks and classes only take it so far. There’s are also aspects of coaching and conversational discussions and being in community with a tribe in a similar stage and place in life.

One is a countdown to the upcoming Multi-ethnic Church Conference in San Diego, this November 2-3, just 47 days away. Looking for more people to get registered and prep’d for being a part of making history together for diversifying the American church, and churches around the world for that matter.

“Research shows that Congregations emphasizing racial reconciliation programs will be more diverse than congregations without such intentional programs.” [Dougherty, Kevin D., Kimberly R. Huyser. Racially Diverse Congregations: Organizational Identity and the Accommodation of Differences. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2008) 47(1):23–43; via Art Lucero]

This conference is so important because we have to be intentional to diversify the church, not as a goal in and of itself, but as an overflow of how the Gospel does indeed break down the walls.