insert obligatory apology here

Obligatory Apology
(thanks to Matt, btw, for the update post format I’ve borrowed)
Wow, I’ve become fantastically awful at blogging regularly. I hear that the less you blog, the more likely your friends will remove you from their blogrolls and feedreaders. Hey, at least we’ve seen some pic postings from Jenny at various big events that happened in the last few months!

*———-=====-

Grr, sorry about that, Lili decided that my keyboard was the best place to get my attention (and she’s actually right – cats are too smart).

Decorating is for the SWEDISH and their IKEA oddities
In case you’re interested, Jenny and I are doing well. Jenny’s house decorating progress is 3/7 (office, bedroom, living room) and she’s planning to tackle the bathroom next. I try to stay out of the way; I have an opinion about everything, which is decidedly less helpful than a simple “looks great!” Besides, I’ve determined that my “home improvement” efforts are better spent outside the house. The rafters and a few walls could use a repaint/reseal and that’s something that actually bothers me. That’s not to say that painting a house would be in my top 10 list of fun things to do while bored, though.

World of Warcraft
We’ve adjusted our TV time in the evenings to playing World of Warcraft instead. Jenny’s Blood Elf hunter Jenivya finally hit level 70 (alongside my second level 70, Avastus the plays-with-fire mage). We both play a decent amount but I suppose you could consider us casual players, as neither of us are really into the end-game raiding content. We did join Resurgence, a raiding guild, just for fun. Jimmy, Christy, Tristan and Katie are to blame for that. Okay, enough about WoW. Hopefully it’s not as controversial as politics or as mind-numbing as Linux.

*pauses briefly to smack Lili off the keys again*

I Control All You See and Hear
My role at work got shifted around a bit. To make room for a full-time pastor for Pantano’s “elements” service, I left the team and took up the Audio/Visual Ministry full time. I’m now responsible for pretty much all technical equipment owned by Pantano, with the exception of the theatrical/intelligent lighting system. I supposedly manage a team of sound volunteers, but we’ll see how that goes as I’m actually better at communicating with machines than people. I also took on an expanded role as Chief Web Ninja, aka the Website Lead Engineer, aka the guy who does all the coding. Here’s my shameless plug for the recent (Jan ’08) overhaul/update of pccwired.org. And yes, if you find it, I’m using a Simpsons Avatar on my church staff profile page. The perks of being a Web Ninja.

Speaking of web updates, InspiredMumblings is due (like two years ago) for a design update. I think I have some time in the next few weeks to work on it. I’ve been picturing some sort of circular layout, done completely in CSS. It’s probably never been done before (which is the real appeal). I’ll definitely head back to the garden for creative inspiration.

Church Management Software
Does anybody know of a really good church management software solution? Pantano uses ACS, Fellowship One is way out of our budget, and we’re eyeballing another system (which I won’t name since we’re still considering it). My compulsive, interface perfectionist side is whispering things to me about the usability of this system. You don’t need training to use Google Docs or Google Groups or Facebook. Why can’t someone just design a small group manager as bonehead easy-to-use as Facebook Groups? IT’S NOT THAT HARD FOLKS and I’d do it myself if I had time. Honestly, it’s surprising to see how many web-based software companies are still living in the Internet stone age.

Yes, we want anyone to have the power to create new groups. Yes, people should be able to join groups without moderation or intervention. And no, privacy is not an issue, except for with those paranoid tin-foil-hatters. So please, ChMS designers, give us more social networking options. Where’s the Web 2.0 in ChMS? Maybe tucked away somewhere between the extended training sessions and the “consulting” fees…

All your church are belong to us. /endrant

DISCLAIMER: Although I have seen and used the interfaces of many ChMS systems, I haven’t ever had the chance to play with Fellowship One. So if you or your church is considering a move to Fellowship One, try not to take my criticism out of context. You’ll note that the above rant is specifically directed towards the “unnamed” system we’re considering (not Fellowship One). Of the systems I have had the chance to use and see, I firmly believe they don’t have a grasp on what software usability means. Of course, who am I but a lowly self-appointed software critic?

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Philip Cain

Ninja Master of the Series of Tubes, musician, audio engineer and geek. More about Philip...

3 thoughts on “insert obligatory apology here”

  1. Hi Philip,
    I appreciate your desire to find a ChMS provider that will make the user experience so easy that it takes no training….like Google Groups. The problem we have found is that once a system goes from a point solution to a complex enterprise system it becomes more difficult use without training. Most ChMS providers are building solutions that can manage your entire church. We’re collapsing a bunch of functionality and data in a manner which is integrated and provides a reporting engine that can give you meaningful information. I don’t think there are many, if any, enterprise solutions out there that require no training.

    We have a tremendous passion for helping churches care for people and we are delivering the tools that our partners are asking for (check out https://experience.fellowshipone.com and check out the collaboration site we have created for our community). I would love to get your feedback and thoughts as to how we could improve our user’s experience and help us get out of the “Internet Stone Age”.

    I would also like to spend some time with you and your church staff to discuss the Total Cost of Ownership of your current system and how that compares to Fellowship One. I personally feel that our value proposition is so great that we will reduce the operating cost of your church. In doing so; we become the low cost solution, not the high price solution.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Thanks Steve, I just sent you a followup email. I’m also going to update my post to reflect that I haven’t seen Fellowship One’s interface and wasn’t specifically criticizing it. I feel that is important, since Fellowship One is one of the most substantive offerings and it may very well be living in an age more recent than the “Stone Age.” Price was my main concern with that system, but I see you’ve offered to address that.

    =)

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