All over the country, churches big and small have taken full advantage of the technological advancements that can transform the church service into a take-it-home experience. In some ministries, cassette tapes are still the standard for recording and archiving the service. Others have long ago moved on into the digital era, recording services using CD or DVD technology. But even churches with the most modern of technologies can use a refresher course from time to time, whether that means upgrading to the latest and greatest devices, or just considering some new ideas or learning from other churches. Here are ten ideas where you may find a way to give your media ministry a new edge.
1. Disc Printing: Less Effort Than You May Think
Many ministries recording services with CDs stop after the recording stage. A flashy label on your disc may seem like a lot of effort at a hefty cost, but the truth is, the process can cost a lot less than you may think. With various disc printers, you can liven up your discs with vibrant, full-color images that print in sixty seconds, and at costs of less than 20 cents per disc. Labels make your discs stand out, and give your ministry a professional look.
2. A New Look: Redesigning Your Label
So your church doesn’t have an in-house graphic artist? Not a problem. Designing a great disc label can often come down to nothing more than finding an enticing photo or an interesting font. If you’re new to the design game, try taking a few pictures of your church, or scan some old photos. Using free label designing software like SureThing, it’s a cinch to drag and drop images and edit text on the disc template. If you really feel up to the challenge, try creating a label using a more advanced program like Photoshop to create collage effects by overlapping photos and applying gradients. (And if all else fails, there’s probably a fresh-faced artist in the congregation who would love to take a stab at it!)
3. New Media: Water Resistant, Scratch Resistant, and a Glossy Finish—on an Inkjet Printer!
If you’ve been printing on regular white or silver inkjet discs, you probably know by now that they don’t always stand the test of time. Just like anything printed on an inkjet printer, a drop of water can smear and ruin a beautiful disc cover. Last year, several well-known disc manufacturers, including Japan-based Taiyo Yuden, created an inkjet disc that would stand the tests of time. These special discs are resistant to water and scratches thanks to a special glossy coat that absorbs the ink. The result also leaves your disc with a superior glossy finish. Even carrying your disc through the pouring rain won’t smear the printable surface.
4. Utilizing Your Publisher for Move-Ins and Shut-Ins
There are other intriguing ways to reach out to your community using your disc printers, copiers, or publishers. Consider the move-ins—the new members of your community. What better way to greet them to the neighborhood than with a CD or DVD inviting them to attend your church? Contact your post office to collect a list of newcomers and mail them a friendly welcome-to-town disc. In addition to the existing church members who are able to attend services each week, there are likely dozens of locals who would gladly be at service—if they were able. Delivering a copy of the weekly service to the sector of the church unable to attend in person is a great way to spread the good word! And don’t forget about the “move-outs,” the congregation members who have had to leave the community. Keep them in the loop and let them know they’re not forgotten!
5. Authoring: Adding Functionality and Menus to the DVD without Getting an Engineering Degree
I have a degree in Multimedia/Web Development, and even I get a little hesitant when thinking about having to create DVD menus and chapters. Luckily, someone else found an easy way to do it. A number of products on the market, such as the Pioneer LX-1, allow users to record video from any source onto a DVD in real time, then follow simple on-screen steps to author convenient menus and other interactive features.
6. The Next Wave: Increasing DVD Duplication Throughput
Perhaps your congregation has grown in recent years, and you’re struggling to produce the number of discs needed in the time allotted. Either an upgrade to your disc duplicator or adding more duplicators are solutions to the problem. Many manufacturers offer tower DVD/CD copiers ranging from 1-to-1 all the way to 1-to-16, all burning at top speeds of 48X CD and 16X DVD. Maybe instead of upgrading from your 7-drive copier to a 10-drive system, add two or three 7-drive units. Should one of the towers go down at the last moment, you’ll have two more standing.
7. Boxed Sets and Ministry Series: Using Your Disc Publisher to Offer a Bigger Product
Some ministries have been utilizing their disc publishers to the fullest and offer collections of discs, often bundling themed sets together for sale. When a guest pastor is in town to read the sermon for a four-week stint in August, he can leave the church-goers with his words of wisdom with a four-disc box set. Or maybe your church wants to take the seven Sundays of services leading up to Easter and bundle them together in a single, convenient package. Or compile a “best of” audio series from the special music throughout the past year.
8. Packaging Your Media
In many cases, packaging is what sells the media. If you’re using a clear jewel case or a paper envelope with window, your disc label and design can sell the product. Otherwise, your packaging will have to carry the weight. For those listening to the CDs in their cars, cases are often tossed aside, but others archive their collections and rely on packaging to preserve the discs, as well as distinguish between one another. Try distributing discs in different manners to accommodate different people. It’s easier to create artwork for DVD cases (video tall boxes) than CD cases. Inserting one sheet of 10 ¾” x 8” sheet of paper into the plastic case lining is easier than prying apart the CD case.
9. Down the Road: Planning for Blu-ray and HD-DVD
CDs and DVDs will probably be around for a very long time to come, but the next wave is already making its splash onto the scene. While Blu-ray and HD-DVD are becoming popular in some industries, like video gaming, it will likely be a few years before the public begins switching over to these high-capacity discs. But even now, with one recordable Blu-ray disc, a church could archive a year’s worth of services with a few gigabytes to spare.
10. Archival: Keeping Your Content Safe for the Future
The key to archiving anything is simple: backup. And if you’re on top of your media ministry, you’re likely producing backup copies of all content already. However, there’s a lot more to archival than just backup. CDs and DVDs typically are guaranteed for 100 years; but once your church has 100 years worth of archived discs boxed up in the basement, you may be in for a rude awakening. Organization is crucial. Set aside room to neatly arrange discs by date, so any time a particular disc is needed, you won’t have to waste valuable time searching. If you’re printing disc labels, make sure to add the date to the label. Archiving is often based on personal preference. Do what works for you. You put a lot of work into making certain that each service goes off without a hitch; make it last for years to come!
Nvidia has announced at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) that its upcoming Tegra 6 chip will be a 64-bit chip that will use Finfet transistors.
Nvidia has only just released Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i, which sports a software defined radio. Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of Nvidia said Tegra 6, which is codenamed Parker, will be a 64-bit processor and use Finfet 3D transistors.
Huang said the Parker system on chip (SoC) will feature a Maxwell GPU that will support the firm’s CUDA GPGPU programming lanuage. However it was Huang’s statement that the chip will make use of Finfet transistors that strongly suggested that TSMC, the firm’s favoured fab partner, is getting close to sampling Finfet 3D chips.
Huang also said that Parker will be the firm’s first 64-bit ARM processor, meaning it could also herald the firm’s entry in the burgeoning ARM server market. Given Nvidia’s strong showing in the GPU accelerator market, the Parker chip could be used as a controller to send data to Maxwell GPUs.
Nvidia’s Tegra 6 Parker chip will be based on the Denver CPU architecture, which will make its entrance in the Tegra 5 chip cycle. Huang did not say when Parker will appear, but given that Tegra product cycles seem to be around a year, the tail end of 2014 would be a safe bet and jibe with the slew of 64-bit ARM chips that are expected to flood the market in 2014.
Though unconfirmed it seems that Microsoft is planning to release the next major version of Windows in November 2014. The product will not really be called Windows 9, but Windows Blue instead. Windows 8 will receive an update later this year alongside a first beta version of Windows 9 in January 2014. Details on what Windows 9 will have to offer are vague, but it will likely have improved touchscreen support.
Here’s Neowin on the topic:
According to Win8China, who have provided a number of Windows leaks in the past, Microsoft are likely preparing Windows 9 for a tentative November 2014 product launch, with a beta to be available in January 2014. Now of course this is just a rumor at this stage, however a release scheduled for late 2014 does fit with what we’ve heard in regards to a yearly OS update cycle for Windows. Windows Blue will be an upgrade to Windows 8 that will be launched this year, while a full version upgrade will come the following year, and naturally November is the perfect time ahead of the holiday season.
A select handful of Galaxy series smartphones are rumored to see the Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie update.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 are on a short list of devices rumored to see an Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie update, according to SamMobile.
A select few members of the Samsung Galaxy smartphones are expected to see an update to the next version of Android, presumed to be OS version 5.0, known as Key Lime Pie.
A “prelist” of updates apparently obtained by the mobile blog suggests that the soon-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy S4 will be joined by four other models to receive the forthcoming Android 5.0 OS, including various versions of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, and the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet. The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 8.0 have yet to launch.
The prelist does spell out a number of Samsung models that may not see any updates beyond Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Devices found on this particular list include the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Galaxy Note, and a variety of other models with limited market availability.
Other handsets which could be left behind are the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy S3 Mini, Galaxy Young, and Galaxy Premier. Most of these devices are not exactly powerhouses, but one might think that least the newer ones, like the Galaxy Grand Duos and Galaxy X Cover 2 might be eligible. However, since they’re lower-end models, Android 5.0 could pass them by.
It is worth noting that this prelist has not been confirmed, and that things of this nature are subject to change. Google is expected to announce the next build of Android at Google I/O 2013, which takes place in May.
On the heels of a Galaxy S4 release that was solid but not mind-blowing, word is that Apple is planning a killer software feature for the next iPhone.
Not wowed by the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4? One analyst says never fear — Apple is preparing a killer feature for the iPhone 5S that will crush the notion that smartphones are becoming a commodity product like so many soybeans traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (or smartypants similes on gadget blogs).
If you’ve been paying attention to the almost monthly march of big-time smartphone releases for the past year and a half, you may have noticed a pattern. Each new iPhone, Android flagship, and even the Lumia and BlackBerry, is faster, more powerful, and prettier than the last with a few gimmicky features that raise eyebrows for a few weeks, but no game-changing innovation.
For a few great glory years there, Apple was the company to count on for a great new killer feature in the form of Steve Jobs’ infamous “one more thing.” In fact, arguably the last time we were all abuzz with a groundbreaking new phone feature was when the iPhone 4S was introduced with Siri about a year and a half ago. And even Siri didn’t end up quite catching fire and creating a nation of silly people talking to their phones all day.
But Katy Huberty — who covers enterprise systems and PC hardware for Morgan Stanley and is a frequent Apple watcher — says the smartphone renaissance isn’t over just yet. Speaking on CNBC today, she said that while Apple (specifically its stock price) is in a bit of a funk, she predicts a comeback powered by some hot new software features on the next new iPhone:
You saw the Samsung Galaxy S4 come out last week, that shows you the innovation cards are up for grabs. What is lacking in (the S4) is a killer feature. We think that’s where Apple will surprise this year. This (iPhone) 5S cycle this year will be about a killer feature that drives consumers increasingly to the platform…
OK, sounds good, but a quick reality check. If you’re Apple and you’re in a bit of a quiet period with a slumping stock price and your chief competitor has been bathing in headlines over its latest release for several days, it’s pretty easy to simply put out the word that you’re planning something non-specifically cool.
But it’s also interesting that we seem to be talking about a software-based feature. Perhaps smartphone hardware is becoming more like those ubiquitous soybeans, carrying the same amount of diversity and excitement as a chunk of tofu.
Regardless, now the pressure is on Apple to dig deep and come up with something sweet. I’m rooting for some wicked smartphone karaoke software. What killer feature would you like to see in the next iPhone?
Smart Scroll and Smart Pause track eye and facial movement to make video watching and scrolling better
Samsung on Thursday highlighted many new features in its latest Galaxy S 4 smartphone during a Broadway-style presentation, but was surprisingly quiet about the technology that tracks facial and eye movement, which could enhance the video and browsing experience on the device.
The world’s largest smartphone maker introduced its flagship Galaxy S 4 product with a 5-inch screen at an event in New York City. Among the gaggle of new features in the LTE smartphone is a function called Smart Display, in which a front-facing camera recognizes eye and face movement to pause a video or scroll down a browser without touching the screen.
The Smart Pause feature can pause a video if a user’s face and eye moves away from the screen.
“It understands that you are looking at the phone, and when it sees you looking away, it will pause,” said Drew Blackard, director of product planning at Samsung, during an interview at the Galaxy S 4 launch event.
In a demonstration, a video paused when Blackard’s eyes moved away from the screen and his face moved slightly toward the left. The video resumed when his face was looking at the screen.
The Smart Pause feature is only available for videos watched in the Samsung Video Player application, which includes titles from Samsung’s Media Hub, which is an application that allows users to watch videos and TV shows. The Smart Pause feature can be activated or deactivated, Blackard said.
The Smart Pause feature won’t work with video applications like YouTube, but the company is always evaluating opportunities and working with partners to bring new features, Blackard said.
Another related technology called Smart Scroll can scroll up or down a web page depending on a user’s facial movement. A green indicator signals that the smartphone knows that the face is looking at the screen. Combined with the tilt of the smartphone, the browser windows will automatically scroll up or down.
Combined with facial recognition technology, tilting a browser is easier than moving the head up and down to scroll a web page, Blackard said, who demonstrated the feature.
“The reason why it’s not my head up and down, it’s because we’ve looked at that in the past and it’s a jarring experience. Looking straight at the screen… is more natural,” Blackard said.
The Smart Scroll also works to scroll emails, but not yet with applications like Polaris, which is an office productivity application for mobile devices.
The new technologies are part of a raft of new features introduced by Samsung so the smartphone could be used without touching the screen. The company has enabled gesture recognition technologies in which a hand can be hovered over the screen to preview news, email, files in a folder and information in calendars. Gestures can also be used to scroll in browser windows, switch between browser tabs, or even accept phone calls.
“We’ve done a lot of work in terms of discoverability and usability of these features,” Blackard said.
The Galaxy S 4 will be available from 327 operators in 155 countries starting at the end of April, though no specifics on its price or shipping were provided. The smartphone has a super AMOLED display with density of 441 pixels-per-inch, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. It weighs 130 grams, is 7.9 millimeters thick and depending on the market, may come with a 1.9GHz quad-core processor or 1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 5 eight-core processor. Other features include up to 64GB of storage and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Google offers four options for patent cross-licensing between companies
Google has created a new website describing four types of patent cross-licensing agreements and is inviting other companies to vote on which one it should adopt.
“We think companies should cooperate to reduce patent litigation — what’s been compared to nuclear arms control for the patent world,” wrote Google’s legal director, Eric Schulman, on the company’s public policy blog Tuesday.
To accomplish this, Google launched a website where it outlines four types of royalty-free patent licensing agreements, based on recent legislative proposals and some current approaches, that “increase companies’ freedom to operate while reducing patent assertions, especially by trolls,” said Schulman.
Patent trolls, also known as “non-practicing entities” (NPEs), are individuals and firms that own patents but do not directly use their patented technology to produce goods or services and instead assert their patent rights against companies that do. In 2011, patent litigation caused by NPEs cost U.S. software and hardware companies US$29 billion, a study from the Boston University School of Law found in June last year.
The problem of lawsuits caused by patent trolls is huge and getting worse, Schulman said. “Additionally, in a growing trend, companies are selling patents to trolls that then use those patents to attack other companies. In some cases, those companies arrange to get a cut of revenue generated from the trolls’ suits,” he added. Companies need to protect themselves against those practices, he said.
To do that, Google for instance proposes a License on Transfer (LOT) Agreement in which participating companies agree that when a patent is transferred, the transferred patent automatically becomes licensed to other participating companies, Schulman said. Google also proposed three other approaches:
–The Sticky Defensive Patent License (DPL), a nonexclusive, perpetual license that is irrevocable unless a licensee stops licensing its own portfolio under the DPL, or the licensee sues a DPL user offensively.
–The Non-Sticky Defensive Patent License, which automatically terminates both inbound and outbound licenses at the time a participant withdraws from the agreement. If a participant joins under outlined cross-licensing conditions and then regrets doing so, that participant can withdraw, terminating the DPL licenses at the end of the withdrawal notice period, Google noted.
–A Field-of-Use Agreement similar to the Open Invention Network (OIN) cross-license approach, under which patents are licensed royalty free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. The OIN license is a community-wide license; the major difference between OIN and the non-sticky DPL is that it has a certain scope. In OIN’s case that is the Linux System, whereas the non-sticky DPL is a portfolio-wide license, Google said. A Field-of-Use Agreement similar to OIN could be useful and be applied to other areas of technology as well, Google said.
Google is conducting a survey to determine which of the approaches is of greatest interest to operating companies. Interested companies have until April 19 to let Google know if they are interested, and once the survey is complete, Google plans to reach out to those companies to discuss potential next steps.
“This straw poll seems to seek ideas aimed at reducing patent litigation. The motivations are noble; reducing litigation should be a global goal, since top technology companies are now spending more on patent acquisition and litigation than they are spending on research & development (R&D),” said James Waterworth, vice president, Europe for the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an organization that represents a wide range of companies in the computer, Internet, information technology and telecommunications industries, in an email on Wednesday. The CCIA advises members and policy makers on issues including intellectual property, international trade and Internet regulation.
“Reducing patent assertions and improving companies’ freedom to bring innovative products to market is a useful goal; whether this particular effort achieves that remains to be seen,” Waterworth added.
The practice could make it harder for photographers to claim ownership of their work
Photographers turning to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote their work may be losing the legal rights to their photos because the sites are deleting the images’ metadata.
Those sites, in addition to Flickr, are among some of the largest social networks that delete the identifying data at various stages of the image upload and download process, according to the results of a survey released Tuesday by the International Press Telecommunications Council, a worldwide consortium of news agencies based in London.
The deletion of such data is a problem for professional photographers because the metadata often includes key information such as who owns the image’s copyright, the photographer’s name, captions and other descriptive data.
If these data disappear, the floodgates are open for unauthorized use of photographers’ photos, IPTC claims.
“A social networking site is only as good as the information its members choose to share,” said Michael Steidl, IPTC managing director, in a statement. “If users provide rights data and descriptions within their images, these data shouldn’t be removed without their knowledge,” he said.
Some sites, for instance, may have policies in place requiring that they remove the information to speed up the download time for viewing the images, which “may make sense for the service, but not for users of their service who are interested in protecting their intellectual property,” said a post on Controlledvocabulary.com, an image rights group that assisted in conducting the survey.
On both Facebook and Flickr, survey testers found that while the metadata was more or less retained upon upload, it disappeared when images are either saved locally or downloaded into other photo management software.
Image metadata was also deleted when saving a photograph locally after posting it on Twitter, the study showed.
Google+ and Tumblr, on the other hand, performed better on the test. The metadata for images hosted on Google+ remained intact for every test that was performed.
Image metadata has legal implications too in light of proposed “orphan works” legislation, which would make it easier for other people to use and profit from photographs that don’t have certain identifying information, such as contact information or copyrights, attached to them.
The orphan works proposal, which is being deliberated by Congress as part of U.S. copyright law, “shows just how dangerous this can be when it comes to copyright because it essentially creates immediately ‘orphaned’ images that can then be used for free because it’s no longer possible to contact the photographer and get the proper permission,” said Grover Sanschagrin, co-founder of PhotoShelter, an online image archive and distribution system for serious and professional photographers.
Still, the notion that social networks may be abusing image metadata is not altogether new, and photographers should know what they’re getting into when they use free sites like Facebook to post their photos, some say.
“Professional photographers know that when you use free social media you’re at their mercy, so to rely solely on Facebook or Twitter for something like a portfolio when you use nothing else and then complain about it kind of makes you look foolish,” said Megan McGory, a freelance news photographer based in Lisbon, Connecticut.
Deleting metadata could be an issue, on the other hand, if someone is trying to track cases of copyright infringement or even stolen cameras, McGory added. “The camera’s serial number is in the metadata and you can find sites using images taken with your camera that way,” she said.
Facebook, Twitter and Flickr did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.
Social network adds bigger photos, a space for local reviews and edit tools
Social network Google+ is launching some tweaks and updates to users’ profile pages, as well as enabling local reviews.
“We spend lots of time listening to your feedback, and today we’re launching some profile and page updates that you’ve been asking for,” wrote Sara McKinley, a Google+ product manager, in a post on Google+ today. “Everything’s rolling out gradually, so check back soon if you don’t see it yet.”
Google+ is also adding bigger cover photos to users’ profile pages, McKinley said.
“Cover photos are much larger than before (up to 2120px by 1192px), and they display in 16×9 [aspect ratio] when fully expanded,” she wrote. “This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine.”
Google+ is also making it easier for users to edit their information.
The site’s “About” tab now offers separate cards, such as Story, Places and Links. Each card has its own edit link. “As always: you can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them just for you,” McKinley noted.
Social networks, like Google+ and Facebook, have been focusing on a local interests, such as finding great local restaurants, a bike shop or a new hiking trail. Google+ is working that local angle with its round of updates.
A new tab has been added for local reviews, McKinley noted. The tab adds a place for users’ to amass all of their local reviews. “Highlight your favorite restaurants, or hide the tab completely via settings — it’s completely up to you,” she added.
Google+ has gotten a lot of attention in the past month because of some high-profile Google+ hangouts.
On Feb. 22, astronauts onboard the International Space Station hosted a hangout, taking questions on a recent communications outage, tweeting from space and what inspires them.
The week before that, President Obama also appeared at a hangout, answering questions about math and science and computer programming, along with minimum wage and gun violence. The president’s hangout drew more than 36,000 viewers at its peak.
For retailers, it means orders paid with bitcoin are automatically sent to Amazon for shipping
Amazon.com and bitcoin now have an interesting link: A popular e-commerce shopping cart for merchants can now accept bitcoin payments and move orders to Amazon for shipping.
BitPay, which develops software and payment services for merchants around bitcoin, said it has developed a special module for WooCommerce, a widely used e-commerce platform and shopping cart for WordPress.
The module is designed for merchants who are using WooCommerce with Fulfillment by Amazon, which stores and ships merchandise for retailers to 65 countries, said Tony Gallippi, co-founder and CEO of BitPay. BitPay plans to eventually add Fulfillment by Amazon modules to other payment platforms.
Many retailers who have their own web storefronts use Amazon’s fulfillment service to tap the company’s expertise in areas such as logistics and customs regulations, Gallippi said.
Once a bitcoin payment has been processed, the WooCommerce module sends Amazon the information it needs to ship a package using Amazon’s API (application programming interface), such as the purchaser’s address and the item’s identification number.
BitPay is ahead of PayPal with the new module, Gallippi said. Merchants who take a PayPal payment with WooCommerce must then manually enter the information needed by Amazon to ship the product, he said.
BitPay, based in Atlanta, had some technical conversations with Amazon about how to implement the fulfillment API, but no commercial discussions, Gallippi said.
BitPay’s development is an interesting one for bitcoin, the virtual currency that is gaining traction as an alternative payment platform. Retailers are generally skittish about international transactions, since they face a risk that a credit card or PayPal payment may be fraudulent and reversed.
Bitcoin’s system allows people to send money over a peer-to-peer system that cryptographically verifies transactions. Due to the way the system is architected, it’s not possible to fraudulently spend bitcoins held by another person.
That offers a great advantage for retailers, who may see interest from customers in other countries but are afraid to take payments. It also opens an avenue for merchants to take bitcoin payments from people who, for example, can’t get a PayPal account or a credit card.
“With bitcoin, suddenly the whole world is opening to you,” Gallippi said. “You can accept a payment from Nigeria.”
Bitcoin, launched in 2009, is a very young platform but one that has been gaining favor. The domain-name registrar and hosting company Namecheap said earlier this week it would begin accepting bitcoins, following Reddit, the file-sharing service Mega and WordPress.
In November, WordPress announced it would accept bitcoins in order to accept payments from users in countries not supported by PayPal or credit card companies.