Flashes of Hope!

Keith Cooley, my old roommate and good friend from college, is involved with a really neat non-profit organization called Flashes of Hope.

Flashes of Hope’s is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The portraits, taken by award-winning photographers, help children feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it. For families of terminally ill children, it’s especially important to have a portrait that preserves forever the beauty, grace and dignity of their child.

Keith was featured on two local TV stations in  Indianapolis this week.  Here are the current links (no promises on how long they will work, so watch them now! ha!)


There is more information about Flashes of Hope as well as a donation link on their web site at www.flashesofhope.org.

Wisdom, Got Any?

It has been a while since I’ve read and journalized my thoughts, when I set up my blog a while back, it was with intention of making myself write on a more regular basis, something I did in college and enjoyed.  What better book to journalize than the Bible?

But where to start reading?  How about Proverbs?  It is full of wise and cleaver phrases.

What translation?  NIV? New American Standard? The Living Bible? The King James?  How about a newer paraphrased translation, like The Message? (with a mix of NIV and maybe a few others, but sticking mainly with The Message).

Chapter 1’s thoughts.

Proverbs was written by King David (yes David and Goliath, that David’s son Solomon).  Solomon was told by God, if I remember correctly, that he could ask for anything that his heart desired.  He ask for wisdom.

I’m reminded in the first 6 verses, no matter how old I am, I should always be open to learning something new.  In the computer field that changes daily, this can get really tiring.  It is much easier to “rest” on current technology instead of reading about upcoming technologies.

In the next verses 7 to 19, I’m reminded to put God first.  I believe we are to submit to God, he should be number one in our life.  Submit is such a “bad” term in today’s society.  It sounds like weakness.  I believe it is just the opposite, when done in the proper context. It shows strength, in the ability to tame unbridled passions that tend to usually get us in trouble.  I’m also reminded of the important lessons that I learned growing up, how to treat people, how to work, how to be responsible, how to have fun, all of which I learned from my parents.

I hadn’t read “The Message’s” translation of this passage yet, and found the rest of the verbiage in this section rather funny.  The point is pretty clear, if our close friends are dragging us down, if they aren’t encouraging us for the good, then we don’t need to be around them.

The next set of verses, 20-33 warn against rejecting wisdom.  What person, in their right mind would reject wisdom?  Easily said, but pride, stubbornness, selfishness, can and have cause me and others that I know to rejected advice throughout my life.  Advice, that I know is wise advice, advice that has come from someone that has experienced life, learned from their mistakes, and become wiser from what they’ve learned, and is trying to prevent me from making the same mistakes as them. Yet I chose to not listen.

In the NIV translation, Simpletons (The Message’s word) is called “simple ones.”The Hebrew word rendered simple in Proverbs generally denotes one without moral direction and inclined to evil.  I would like to think that is not me, or most of the people that I know that reject wisdom.  But are we just as “ignorant” as someone that has no moral direction, for not listening?  Interesting question?

33, is a reminder what wisdom can bring

but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33 (NIV)

Proverbs 1 (The Message)
Wise Sayings of Solomon
A Manual for Living

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king—Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

Start with God

7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

8-19 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers. Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you,
don’t go along with them. If they say—”Let’s go out and raise some hell.

Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
Let’s pick them clean and get them ready for their funerals.
We’ll load up on top-quality loot.
We’ll haul it home by the truckload.

Join us for the time of your life!
With us, it’s share and share alike!”— Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look; don’t listen to them for a minute.
They’re racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.
Nobody robs a bank with everyone watching, Yet that’s what these people are doing—they’re doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are.

Lady Wisdom

20-21 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech.
In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:

22-24 “Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism?
Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?

About face! I can revise your life. Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you; I’m ready to tell you all I know.
As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear; I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me.

25-28 “Since you laugh at my counsel and make a joke of my advice, How can I take you seriously?
I’ll turn the tables and joke about your troubles!
What if the roof falls in, and your whole life goes to pieces?
What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes?
You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect an answer.
No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me.

29-33 “Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God,
Because you wouldn’t take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you,
Well, you’ve made your bed—now lie in it; you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it?
Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”

Blogs, E-mail, and BBQ

I recently attended a user conference for a software package my office uses to run our web site. It was a really good conference so I thought I would include a couple of blog entries (I have at least one more entry “planned”) about some of the knowledge I gained while at this conference.

Blogging Tips:

  • Limit each blog post to 600-700 words. Anything longer will lose readers.
  • Update frequently. People won’t visit the blog if new entries are never posted.
  • Links to relative information.
  • Be authentic. Blogs are definable by the way they are written. In other words, they should not be written like a press release. Our English teachers always told us we have our own writing style.
  • Comments: to allow/disallow. By allowing users to comment, a dialog can develop between the blogger and the readers. It is easier to just turn comments off if the blogger doesn’t want to deal with spam, criticism, etc. A good compromise is to allow comments for a short time, then close the comments. Troublesome users can always be banned from
  • Images. I believe having some images in or throughout a blog post can break up the longer posts and keep the reader’s attention.

E-mail marketing:

  • The first 33/44 characters of the e-mail is what is included in the e-mail preview.example:
  • Friendly “From” — People instead of organizations is recommended.
  • Opt in newsletters should include links to examples of newsletters that are on-line. These examples should be current or not more than a few months or a year old.
  • Opt in newsletters should also include a link to the Privacy Policy close the submit and close to the “opt in” link in the e-mail itself.
  • The width of an e-mail should be a maximum of 600 pixels wide. Even with bigger monitors, the preview is determined by the e-mail client, and most default to around this width.
  • The first 420 vertical pixels take up the first part of the preview pain in an e-mail client, so they are the most important.
  • Absolute URL’s (including the http://www.whatever.com/images.jpg) and including text in the ALT/Title tags is very important. If the absolute path is not included, the images will not show up in the client’s e-mail. Even if the image is linked correctly, the default for many clients has the images turned off. The ALT or Title tags will display the text in place of the graphic. So a ALT tag that says, “Newsletter Header Graphic” will give the user and idea of what graphic should really be appearing in that space.
  • Message size: 40k is good size, 100k is getting too large.
  • Mobile Messages: 60% of decision makers in business use mobile e-mail
    • link above banner to on-line version
    • 18% use mobile device —  to clean out box (just something to remember)

BBQ (the important stuff):

The conference was in Kansas City, MO. — Yes I ate good BBQ the whole time I was there, including Author Bryant’s and Gates BBQ.–  This was my second trip to the KC area, so I had already eaten Author Bryant’s once and Jack Stacks once. Jack Stacks is a higher end BBQ place, and while good, it was not my favorite. I  having eaten Author Bryant’s and Gates twice, I would say,  I am leaning towards Gates as being the better BBQ along with their service.

When I got home I was not only filled up with web tips and way to many PowerPoints (which is for a different post), but also lots of BBQ.

Mac Attack

I thought I should share…

About 2 weeks ago I received a new Mac I had purchased. Before you ask me what is wrong with me, you though I was a PC guy, let me clear up a few misconceptions about myself.

1) I’ve always liked Macs.

My art teacher in High School, Dane Penny, who was as much a good friend as a teacher, bought a Mac my senior year. This was in 1988 and it was over Christmas break. He called me at my home and told me to come over and show him how to use it. I told him I had a date and he said he didn’t care, to get my tail over there now, ha! It was about noon, so I had time to goof off with him and still make my date.

This Mac was one of the Macs that was all built into one, screen, hard drive (oh wait, no hard drive, just one floppy and an external floppy), etc, much like the iMacs of today. I thought it was an amazing, EXPENSIVE machine.

2) Price has always been the problem.

I never felt like I could justify spending the extra money for a Mac. What has changed? Intel. About 3 years ago (in June of 2005, if I remember correctly), Apple announced they were going to an Intel processor. The prices of Macs have come down over the last 3 years, making them more affordable, if you price them out compared with a PC with the same specs, they are very close

3) I already owned a Mac.

You may already know that I have owned a Mac Mini for almost 3 years. It is an Intel Mac Mini, and I bought it with minimum ram, only 512mb. I’m about to upgrade it to 2 Gigs, (which cost me $60). You can stop laughing now, I do know that is a ridiculous amount of RAM for such a little computer. The mini is actually Jennifer’s computer, and it is an amazing little powerhouse, even with 512 mb of ram. It is our Answering machine, an intranet (web server for our home network), and she uses it for her business.

4) What about PC software

I have certain applications that ONLY run on a PC. I also don’t believe in stealing software, so I own legal copies of Adobe’s Photoshop and GoLive. Yes, they are expensive and the version I have are only for the PC. So my new Mac came with VMware’s Fusion. You may have heard of Bootcamp or Parallels, it is similar, but got better reviews on a few web sites like lifehacker.com. It is AMAZING. I can run my Windows applications seamlessly with my Mac OS, I even forget that the computer is running Windows.

I do plan to eventually upgrade to the Mac versions of Adobe’s stuff, but not any time soon.

I’ve already converted my sister, brother, and mom to the Mac fan club, they all own, or use a Mac. Will you be next? ha! ha!

33 Miles

33 Miles, a Christian trio with Jason Barton (a Tech Alumni) has a new project that will be released this summer.  They will be in Shreveport, LA on July 17 at Summer Grove Baptist Church (complete tour schedule).

There currently is a free downloadable track (from their first project) available at www.freeccm.com (site registration is required to access the free download).

I knew Jason in college and he was unbelievable talented then and has only gotten better.  He also roomed with one of my good friends Jay Simmons. Jason and his wife, Jennifer (what a great name for a wife!) were featured in the June issue of Redbook which made its way to the front page of MSN.com

Their Freshman release, 33 Miles, can be purchased at Amazon for about $13 or through their web site.

If you haven’t heard 33 Miles, they are worth a listen to.  You can listen on-line at their web site at: www.33milesonline.com