jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Did Anyone Notice Google Reader's New Feature Today?

In technology on May 5, 2008 at 8:59 pm

notesGoogle announced a new feature for their Reader today, they’re calling it Notes. It gives you the ability to share whatever tidbits you find on the web almost instantaneously, you can even add your own commentary to the shared note while you’re at it. Simply copy the stuff you’d like others to see and click on the “Note in Reader” button on your toolbar, a small window pops up allowing you to add commentary if you’d like, otherwise you’re done.

This sharing feature is interesting, for instance, I use the shared feature in Google Reader to share articles with folks that aren’t interested in reading a lot of blogs but would like to read some of the “headline” type posts. I have an aggregator picking up that feed and displaying it for them so they don’t have to learn how to use Google Reader (not that that is very hard, just look at Abraham Piper’s post to learn). The only issue I see with this sharing feature is that you have to befriend folks to really use it, kind of like Facebook. So for instance, if folks subscribe to my blog feed, they would have to also subscribe to my Google-shared feed to get these additional Notes. Not a big deal, but I’m not sure how useful this is yet. Folks always get creative with these things so I’ll be interested to see how this new feature gets used.

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Clicks Are Important

In personal, technology on March 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm

The other day after Sunday School, a friend stopped me and handed me a newspaper clipping of a Dilbert comic. The comic reminded him of me and he made it a point to cut it out and give it to me next time he saw me.

Before the internet, this was how we hyperlinked things.

Now, I’m a technology nut and I think there are many benefits to what technology allows us to do that we couldn’t do before. But, had he emailed me a link to this comic, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much of it. The fact that it was cut out and hand delivered was a little more meaningful, just like we all still enjoy receiving regular mail. Receiving it by hand was much more valuable to me than receiving it by a mouse click.

Then I got to thinking how important my clicks are to me. I read through a lot of news/blogs/articles everyday on the web. Each thing I read through is found with a single click on a hyperlink somewhere during my daily reading. So when I read through something that isn’t very meaningful or doesn’t cause me to stop and think, I honestly feel like I’ve wasted a click.

This isn’t good. I haven’t timed how long it takes me to click a mouse button but I suspect I’d need something better than a second hand to accurately measure it.

I was reading another biography on Jonathan Edwards the other day and found out that his study habits often found him behind his books for 13 hours a day. Now, this 13 hours included his pastoral duties, but it still offers a glimpse into how much time Jonathan spent studying the Word and those who wrote about the Word. But, the biography continued, he never seemed to be in a hurry to do anything. He never seemed as if he had somewhere better to be or something more important to be doing than whatever he was currently engaged in. How many people can we honestly say are like this?

This seems alien to me. Here I am worried about every click of the mouse and whether or not it is a good use of my time and I’m only spending a fraction of my day in the way that I would like to be. It’s difficult not to become so concerned with my time that I make others around me feel like I am unapproachable because I’m too busy.

We read in Ephesians 5:16 that we should make the best use of the time because the days are evil. Paul is referencing an avoidance of a depraved lifestyle in the passage but certainly we can apply this to this situation if I’m living like the world around me. Maybe this is a good time to clean out my feed reader of some unedifying blogs…

How a Christian Can Benefit From Blogs

In reference on February 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I wanted to post some reference material for those who may be new to this whole “blogging” thing. If you have a blog yourself, you probably won’t benefit much from this. But, if you only go to a few websites a week and are interested in learning a bit more about what this is all about, then continue on.

What is a blog?

Blogs started off as a type of diary on the web. People called it a log of your life and so the name web-log came about and was soon shortened to blog. People soon took advantage of this technology and made it personal. They began to update their webpages daily with all types of things. If you had a weird computer problem that you fixed you could post the solution on your blog to let others take advantage of the lessons you learned. If you went on vacation and took a lot of pictures you could post the pictures along with some of the details about your vacation for others to see. If your pastor preached an interesting sermon on Sunday morning, you could post your thoughts on it along with a link to the recording so that others could listen as well. There are plenty of possibilities and the technology is simple enough that anyone who knows how to send an email can setup a blog.

How can Christians benefit?

Continuing on from the last example, we can see how Christians might benefit from blogging. There are thousands of blogs that have a Christian theme to them, and many of these can be a great reference source. Some write about their thoughts on passages in the Scriptures, some write about what it means to have a Christian worldview through day-to-day events, some write about current events in the news from a Christian perspective, some focus on theology, worship, devotions, prayer, and some are an extension to a ministry already in place. Writers can be anyone from pastors, elders, church leaders, lay-people, and seminary professors. The key here is the ease of use, difficult technology should not keep you from starting up a blog.

Starting a blog

  1. Go to WordPress.com
  2. Click “Sign Up Now” (it’s all free of course)
  3. Fill out the information (don’t worry about a lot of the details, everything you fill out can be modified later on)
  4. Start blogging! Here is a good resource to help you with some rules on how to write.

Reading blogs

I’m listing two ways to read blogs (ok, one is a joke), I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on the best way to do it, but I’m going to write about what works for me. There really is no good way to explain this, you just have to jump in and try it out for yourself, so follow the instructions below and feel free to ask questions or comment if something needs further explanation below.

Option 1

  1. Find all the blogs you like, here’s a list to get you started.
  2. Visit them every day and read what they say, if you have 20 blogs you like, this could take a few hours!

Option2

  1. Take advantage of “feeds” and have all the websites come to you!
  2. Download this file to your computer (right click and say Save Target As or Save Link As), it is a good “starter list” of some blogs I have found useful for Christian news and references. Don’t do anything with the file yet, just save it somewhere on your computer and remember where you put it
  3. Go to Google Reader
  4. Sign in with your gmail account or click “Create An Account” to get started (it’s all free of course)
  5. Fill out the information and you’re all set
  6. Once you have an account, sign into Google Reader, now you want to start adding blog feeds to read
  7. Click on settings in the upper right hand corner
  8. Now click on Import/Export
  9. Click “browse” and then find the file you downloaded in step #2
  10. Click “upload” and you’re all set
  11. Now if you click “Back to Google Reader” you will see all of your subscriptions and their current feeds
  12. Play around with Google Reader to get the settings the way you want them. If you’re really up for a challenge, have a look at the keyboard shortcuts to really speed up your reading
  13. Most of these blogs are updated at least once a week if not everyday. As they are updated, your Google Reader unread items will increase just like your email inbox so don’t be afraid of the “Mark All As Read” button if you every have hundreds of unread posts (don’t worry, you can’t delete them like emails, they will always be there)
  14. Now, as you find other blogs or websites that have feeds (look for this symbol on the webpage or in the address bar that you type the website’s address into) click on the feed and choose to add it to Google Reader and you will have those posts show up in your Google Reader account.

This is a really brief intro to blogs and reading blogs. Please comment and ask questions in the comment area below. Enjoy!