Nov 242012
 

Recently made the switch for 3 cell phones on an AT&T family plan with 550 shared minutes to Straight Talk (ST) for unlimited minutes. It was not all smooth sailing, and underneath it all, the phones will still run on the AT&T mobile network just under a different brand & billing package, with Straight Talk being a “mobile virtual network operator.” These are the quirky things we had to figure out, since explicit and clear info was hard to find, and unfortunately marketing to the masses tends to mean communicating less #YMMV (your mileage may vary) ::
att2straighttalk
First, ordered the SIM cards via straighttalksim.com for their BYOP (bring your own phone) program ($14.99/ea) – that means you can use existing phones from AT&T or T-Mobile or an unlocked GSM. (Read the fine print because not every GSM phone necessarily works.) Wait a few days for convenient home delivery. Phones using this ST BYOP program must purchase SIM cards with an unlimited service plan (starting at $45/mo) and cannot be downgraded to their $30 “all you need” plan.

After receiving the SIMs, go online to activate each one for each phone via straighttalk.com, selecting the “Activate/Reactivate” > “Transfer Number” menu item, then select “Activate my Straight Talk Service with a number from another company” to submit the request to port your number. This is so you can keep your phone number. Do this one SIM card at a time for each phone number. I found out you need to use your AT&T account number, not your phone number, not your username, when ST asks for your current AT&T login info, for the transfer request to work.

At this point, the new SIMs from ST are still in their card holders, not in the phones.

I made the transfer request in the evening, when I was not expecting phone calls, just in case. And the transfer request supposedly can take up to 2 or 4 business days, but in our case, it took less than 12 hours. I’m not sure exactly how fast it was, since we submitted the transfer request at 8:00pm Pacific Time, and the transfer had happened when I woke up the next day.

When the cell phone (with the current AT&T SIM still in them) stops working, as denoted by some kind of “no service” message, then turn off the phone. Remove the old SIM card from the phone. Carefully remove the new SIM card from its holder, and insert the new SIM card from ST into the phone. Turn on the phone.

Follow instructions from the activation card about changing the APN settings in your cell phone to use the Straight Talk network. Here where different phones require can take divergent paths.

For the iPhone 3GS, you actually do not have to jailbreak it nor unlock it. To get mobile data working, you can use this iPhone APN changer to change its network setting. Visual voicemail is a lost cause, it doesn’t work with this ST BYOP program. We have not yet changed settings to get MMS to work, but there are several ways to do that.

For my Android smartphone, an HTC Inspire 4G, I had to change my APN settings as follows (note I have more fields to fill out than what was provided on the ST instruction card):

Name: Straight Talk
APN: att.mvno
Proxy: proxy.mvno.tracfone.com
Port: 80
User name: (not set)
Password: (not set)
Server: (not set)
MMSC: http://mmsc.cingular.com
MMS proxy: 66.209.11.33
MMS port: 80
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication type: PAP or CHAP
APN type: (not set)
APN protocol: IPv4

|| [update 11/2013] go to straighttalk.com/wps/portal/home/support/apn to lookup your Straight Talk APN Settings based on Phone Number or last 15 digits of SIM card ||

Straight Talk has a web discussion forum at straighttalkwirelessforum.com with some helpful info. You do have to register for an account, and post like 3 messages, in order to activate private messaging, for their customer service to reply to specific issues in private. [update] also see discussion thread over at Fatwallet: Specific Instructions For How To Switch Your AT&T iPhone To A $45 a Month Unlimited Plan >>

The switch will save us around $400 per year, gets us unlimited minutes, no more contracts, and enables data plan for all 3 lines (up from 2). We did have to pay the ETF (early termination fee) for 2 out of 3 phones because they were still under contracts, and according to the math, we still save in the end.

What has your experience with Straight Talk been like?

For Straight Talk tech support – call 877-430-2355 or for SIM customers 855-222-2355

Nov 142012
 

Few books adeptly addresses the conundrum of work from a Christian world view. Work is such a consuming part of our lives, often unsatisfying, yet there is something good about work that both the Biblical text and even Ayn Rand (a vocal critic of Christianity) acknowledges. And it’s a common quest for people to want to find meaning to work, and the meaning of life, though often without a metaphysical or religious framework.

But Christian answers have too often come up short, like these (excerpted from page 22 in the print edition) — the way to serve God at work is…:

  • to further social justice in the world
  • to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues
  • to just do skillful, excellent work
  • to create beauty
  • to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end
  • to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs
  • to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion
  • to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can

By contrast, this new book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Dr. Tim Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf released this week and ably presents a robust understanding of work– the desire, the difficulty, and the satisfaction of work. (ed.note: I substituted my own words here for the book’s 3 sections; and I do wonder why the book wasn’t named “The Meaning of Work”)

Read more about this book in this interview with Tim Keller and Listen to God’s Work and Ours – interview with Tim Keller

And courtesy of Dutton, Penguin Group (USA), I’m giving away a free hardcover copy of Every Good Endeavor here at djchuang.com (which is host to the first Tim Keller web page on the internet.) Win a copy of the book by doing at least 1 of these 4 tasks – add a comment, tweet this contest, like the facebook.com/DuttonPenguin page, and/or follow @DuttonBooks on twitter. 4 chances to win! Contest ends on 11/15 12:00am midnight Eastern Time.

Enter the contest and win Tim Keller’s new book on work – Every Good Endeavor

Up your odds by entering other contests at servantsofgrace and godhungry, or just buy the book now in hardcover or as a Kindle ebook.

[disclosure: I received a review copy of this book]

Nov 132012
 

What are the Facebook pages for churches and ministries with the most likes, aka fans? As we’ve entered the post-billion era of Facebook (the social network that surpassed 1 billion monthly active users on October 4th, 2012),  it’s time to update my previously manually-compiled list of top churches on Facebook back in February 2011. Recently found a handy web service called SocialBakers.com that makes it much easier to find the most liked Facebook pages by category, including one for Church / Religious Organization.

This is the current list (at the time of this posting) of the top 20 churches and ministries on Facebook –

Church / Ministry Facebook Page URL Likes (fans)
Joel Osteen Ministries  http://www.facebook.com/JoelOsteen  2.5m
T.D. Jakes Ministries  http://www.facebook.com/tdjministries  1.2m
TB Joshua Ministries  http://www.facebook.com/pages/TB-Joshua-Ministries/103470916440360  478k
Online Church (of Community Bible Church)  http://www.facebook.com/CBConline  237k
International House of Prayer  http://www.facebook.com/ihopkc  166k
Hillsong Church  http://www.facebook.com/hillsongchurch  137k
John Hagee Ministries  http://www.facebook.com/JohnHageeMinistries  129k
Hillsong Church London  http://www.facebook.com/hillsongchurchlondon  128k
 LifeChurch.TV  http://www.facebook.com/lifechurchtv  104k
 Kenneth Copeland Ministries http://www.facebook.com/CopelandNetwork  86k
 Bethel Church, Redding http://www.facebook.com/bethel.church.redding  81k
 Grace to You (John MacArthur)  http://www.facebook.com/GracetoYou  68k
Mars Hill Church (Seattle)  http://www.facebook.com/marshillchurch  46k
 Saddleback Church  http://www.facebook.com/saddlebackchurch  25k
NewSpring Church http://www.facebook.com/newspring  24k
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale http://www.facebook.com/CalvaryFTL  21k
Crossroads http://www.facebook.com/crdschurch  18k
Church of the Highlands http://www.facebook.com/highlands  17k
New Creation Church, Singapore http://www.facebook.com/nccsg  16k
Christ’s Commission Fellowship http://www.facebook.com/CCFmain  16k

powered by Easy Table Creator from PolyVision Interactive Whiteboards

And there are very popular Facebook pages about Christianity and Jesus (with million+ more likes than organized churches and ministries), like Jesus Daily (14.3m likes), Digital Bible (8.5m likes), GodVine (3.0m likes), and ChristiaNet (1.5m likes).

And there are some well-liked denominations and networks of churches on Facebook pages too:

Time to make this participatory, too. What observations do you notice about these Facebook pages? What kind of content and how often are they posting? What are the principles you can infer from how they’re encouraging social engagement (cf. “talking about this”) so people will like, comment, and/or share a page update?

Nov 092012
 

2 gigantic Christian conferences are scheduled this Winter break 2012-2013, ramping up for tens of thousands of college students converging from everywhere. 1 is called Urbana 12. 1 is called Passion 2013. Here’s the data on these 2 Christian mega-conferences, a side-by-side comparison to sort things out (or scroll down for the #infographic) ::


Urbana 12

Passion 2013
dates December 27-31, 2012 January 1-4, 2013
location America’s Center Convention Complex @ St. Louis, Missouri Georgia Dome @ Atlanta, Georgia
cost $449 students 17-29 years old /
$549 non-students
($50 off before 11/12)
$219 students 18-25 years old
($20 off before 12/1)
size 18,000 71,000
speakers Calisto Odede
Geri Rodman
Ziel Machado
Chai Ling
David Platt
Daniel Bourdanné
Ram Sridharan
Sandra Van Opstal
Terry LeBlanc
Tom Lin
Louie Giglio
Chris Tomlin
Francis Chan
Kristian Stanfill
Beth Moore
Matt Redman
Lecrae
John Piper
Christy Nockels
Crowder
Charlie Hall
seminars 150+ with 66+ speakers, covering topics like evangelism, missions, global issues, poverty and justice, healthcare, world religions n/a
exhibitors 250+ 0
organizers InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, and Groupes Bilbiques Universitaires et Collégiaux du Canada Passion Conferences / Choice Ministries, Inc. / 268 Generation / sixstepsrecords
started in 1946 1997
purpose Urbana 12’s mission is to compel this generation to give their whole lives for God’s global mission. Passion exists to glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation
distinctives Over 250 missions agencies, working in over 150 countries will exhibit… choose from over 200 seminars… Urbana is geared for college students and anyone age 17-29, though anyone over 17 is welcome to attend…” “exposure to global issues and realities; multicultural worship, dance and drama; specialized tracks on issues such as leadership, poverty and justice, and international ministry Attendees at Passion 2012 participated in a campaign, 72 Days For Freedom, raising more than $3.5 Million to fight modern day slavery and human trafficking

And here’s an Urbana 12 vs. Passion 2013 infographic (courtesy of Ben Sorber) –

Both Urbana and Passion have changed thousands of lives throughout their respective big events. Both Urbana 12 and Passion 2013 will undoubtedly be powerful experiences that will spiritually inspire its eager attendees, the next generation seeking to discern God’s will in their lives.

Decision-making is never easy. You could opt-out, and miss out. Which will you choose? Let us know on this poll and add a comment about how you decided

Nov 082012
 

I’m meeting up with a group of church planters in downtown Long Beach, California, and talking about social media in 17 minutes. That’s 1 minute short of an iconic TED talk. And the schedule has room for 17 minutes of Q&A to follow my color commentary about social media and church planting.With this being a less-structured more-stream-of-conscious talk, my game plan is to do a show-and-tell of these links below, and they’ll serve as conversation starters and real-time learning.

As I walk-through these links, I’ll aim to get the audio/video recorded and post-produced for the next episode of Social Media Church, so all the world can benefit from this valuable conversation about why church planters must use social media. And a word of thanks to Vision 360 Long Beach for hosting this gathering and inviting me to be a part of one!

Listen to raw audio recording (mp3) below

Nov 052012
 

November 6th, 2012, is Election Day for the United States of America! With the Asian American (aka Asians and Pacific Islanders) population exceeding 18 million, another campaign has been running for several months now called 18 Million Rising to mobilize the voter registration and turnout of this racial grouping.

Thanks to HapaMama.com, I’m sporting this t-shirt to advocate for you to vote too! Whether you’re Asian or not, as long as you’re American and registered to vote! It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in a swing state, it matters that you vote! Go vote! I’m DJ Chuang and I endorse this message.

And, there’s no lines to vote at the poll for the Urbana 12 pastors track, where 3 pastors and church leaders will win a free pass (worth $549 each) to attend Urbana 12! Your vote definitely matters here, no matter where you live!