Welcome to the 20th Century

Google has decided to phase out support for IE 6. Yay! Here’s their blog post “Modern browsers for modern applications“:

The web has evolved in the last ten years, from simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice. Unfortunately, very old browsers cannot run many of these new features effectively. So to help ensure your business can use the latest, most advanced web apps, we encourage you to update your browsers as soon as possible. There are many choices:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0+

Mozilla Firefox 3.0+

Google Chrome 4.0+

Safari 3.0+

Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers. We’re also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites. As a result you may find that from March 1 key functionality within these products — as well as new Docs and Sites features — won’t work properly in older browsers.

2010 is going to be a great year for Google Apps and we want to ensure that everyone can make the most of what we are developing. Please take the time to switch your organization to the most up-to-date browsers available.

Here’s an email they sent out to Google Apps admins:

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology.  This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5.  As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010.  After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.

Starting this week, users on these older browsers will see a message in Google Docs and the Google Sites editor explaining this change and asking them to upgrade their browser.  We will also alert you again closer to March 1 to remind you of this change.

In 2009, the Google Apps team delivered more than 100 improvements to enhance your product experience.  We are aiming to beat that in 2010 and continue to deliver the best and most innovative collaboration products for businesses.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sincerely,

The Google Apps team

Help! My computer won’t work!

I’m helping people with their computers almost constantly. It’s anything from really simple (turn it on) to really complex (hundreds of thousands of files infected with multiple viruses). This has inspired me to write up some preventative measures one can take. First, let’s define terms. These definitions are from Wikipedia.

  • Virus – A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without the permission or knowledge of the owner. The term “virus” is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of malware, adware, and spyware programs that do not have the reproductive ability. A true virus can only spread from one computer to another (in some form of executable code) when its host is taken to the target computer; for instance because a user sent it over a network or the Internet, or carried it on a removable medium such as a floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB drive. Viruses can increase their chances of spreading to other computers by infecting files on a network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer.
  • Adware – Adware or advertising-supported software is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used. Some types of adware are also spyware and can be classified as privacy-invasive software.
  • Spyware – Spyware is a type of malware that is installed on computers and that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user. Typically, spyware is secretly installed on the user’s personal computer. Sometimes, however, spywares such as keyloggers are installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer on purpose in order to secretly monitor other users.

So, a virus is a malicious computer program meant to harm your computer – there are so many of these and you’ve probably never heard of any of them. Adware is software that automatically advertises – common ones include WeatherBug, AOL Instant Messenger, Kazaa, Limewire, and Windows Live Messenger. These aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re really annoying. Spyware is software that grabs information from your computer – Kazaa, Morpheus, AOL Instant Messenger, and Weatherbug are some of the popular ones.
While many of these programs people use, they are intrusive and shouldn’t be used. Most people’s problems come with lesser known ones that install through the browser or email.

  1. Don’t use a PC. – Often this can’t be helped. However, I’ve never had to work on Linux and rarely had to work on Mac OS X for viruses, spyware, or adware.
  2. Don’t use Internet Explorer – Often this can’t be helped either. (Of course, that’s only if you use websites that don’t follow W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards published at http://www.w3.org/ – that’s a tangent, though). Instead, use Firefox, Opera, or Safari. If you must use Internet Explorer, please use the newest version (8) with all patches installed (Never, ever, ever use IE6!). Speaking of patches…
  3. Don’t use Outlook Express – This program really is trash. It tends to execute code within emails and show all pictures. I don’t think Outlook does this, but Outlook Express does. For email, use Thunderbird or webmail – check with your email provider for this. Also, please just use Gmail for your personal email. It will block 99% of your spam for you.
  4. Keep your computer up to date – If on Windows, use Windows Update (or Microsoft Update) and keep everything updated. If on Mac OS X, use Software Update and do the same. If on Linux, you probably already know what to do and you’re probably reading this to help those who don’t use Linux.
  5. Use up-to-date anti-virus software – Often when I’m fixing someone’s 3 year old Dell (or Compaq, Toshiba, or whatever), they think that they can’t have viruses, because Norton is running. A simple double-click on the icon in the taskbar shows me the definitions haven’t been updated in 2.5 years and the subscription ran out 2 years ago. New viruses are created all the time. Therefore, you must update at least weekly. Also, don’t feel like you have to pay for anti-virus. AVG Free works just fine. Schedule a weekly definitions update and a weekly scan. If your computer’s off at the time, either run them manually or make sure it runs later.
  6. Use up-to-date spyware scanning software – Install either Spybot Search & Destroy or Ad-aware Free. Keep them update and run them just like you do your anti-virus software. Period.

Hopefully this has been helpful. Any questions?

How to Switch from POP3 to IMAP in Google Apps

At Journey, we use an email solution called Google Apps. This is basically Gmail but branded for an organization – using their domain and usable as web-based groupware (word processing, spreadsheets, and calendars – all collaborative). A major benefit of Google Apps is that it allows over 7 GB of storage – over 100 times more than most Exchange setups. Most people are used to storing their email on their computer, but with IMAP, the best place to store email is on the server. This also makes it easier to access elsewhere. So, to get to the practical part, here’s how to switch to IMAP.

First, enable IMAP within Google Apps. For Journey, go to mail.takeajourney.org and sign in (don’t include @takeajourney.org but just the part that proceeds it). Then click on Settings in the top right. Then Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Finally, Enable IMAP and Save.

This enables IMAP for your Apps account.

The next step isn’t as simple – enabling IMAP in your mail client. Most staff at Journey use Outlook or Apple Mail. First, familiarize yourself with the Google Apps Help for Users. The link there for email just goes to the Gmail Help page, which will give you tons of info. Getting more specific, check out Troubleshooting IMAP. Finally, here are the links for the clients I’ve seen in common usage.

The Cloud

So I don’t get it. Why do companies still use Exchange and give users 10-50 MB size limits on their mailbox? Especially schools and non-profits? (Check out Google Apps for free solution for your domain.) I’m just going to write some lists:

Pros/Cons of Exchange:

  • Pro – Stored on site for security
  • Con – Less people monitoring uptime
  • Pro or Con – runs with Windows well (pro for those using it, major con for anyone wanting a better OS)
  • Con – Major limited storage capacity
  • Con – Only as fast as your internet connection

And now for a pet peeve/rant. Use IMAP! If you are using POP3, stop it. You won’t be able to organize your email from more than one device. Since most people want to be able to check from their home desktop, work desktop, laptop, phone, and via the web when somewhere else, steer clear of POP3. With this comes a change in the storage location of your email. It will now be on the server instead of your PC/device. I think I’ll write a blog post about this switch with more details soon. For now, /rant.

More on Multi-Site

I recently got a copy of the eJournal by 9 Marks (named from the book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church). It is the official “multi-site” issue. (Check it out in it’s entirety here.) The blog post I reposted here by J.D. Greear is in the issue, as are others for an against multi-site. You should most definitely read it in its entirety. I will when I get a sec. However, I’ve been skimming the cons to multi-site and noticed something interesting. First, here’s a list of the articles against multi-site:

  • “Nine Reasons I Don’t Like Multi-site Churches, from a Guy Who Should” By Thomas White – A young, tech-savvy seminary professor explains why he’s not getting on board the multi-site revolution.
  • “Exegetical Critique of Multi-Site: Disassembling the Church?” By Grant Gaines – A pastor-scholar weighs the exegetical arguments in favor of the multi-site church and finds them wanting.
  • “Theological Critique of Multi-Site: Leadership Is the Church” By Jonathan Leeman – The local church on earth is constituted by a gathering of Christians, which means the multi-site and multi-service “church” is not a church, but an association of churches.
  • “Historical Critique of Multi-Site: Not Over My Dead Body” By Bobby Jamieson – Regardless of the fact that multi-site churches haven’t existed for most of the past four hundred years, historic Congregationalists and Baptists have a lot to say against them.
  • “The Alternative to Multi-Site: Why Don’t We Plant?” By Jonathan Leeman – The multi-site church phenomenon looks like a capitulation to consumeristic culture. We should plant instead.

Now, I’m not going to address everything brought up in them, but the first article is really short and digestable, so I’m going to tackle the nine points addressed in it. Here goes:

1. A Contradiction In Terms

Here Thomas White argues that the Greek word ecclesia (the word we translate “church”) means “gathering.” He then says “The oft heard mantra “one church many locations” is a contradiction in terms.” Since that’s what Journey is, I want to speak to that. The church is the assembled people – the gathered people. When Journey gathers at NE, it’s a gathering of Journey. Same at NW. It’s not all of the gathering, as not all members of Journey gather every week. Other churches generally have four times more people on “membership” roles than those that actually attend. Journey is about the exact inverse of that, I believe. Maybe those other churches should be looking for where the rest of their church went before they start asking if what we’re doing is biblical. I’m just saying.

2. Spiritual Colonization

The argument here is “mini-dioceses” that rule the campuses from a central location. Well, at Journey we don’t have a “central location” besides that of Raleigh (currently). Our goal is to reach Raleigh for Christ and there’s not a specific area of Raleigh that we’re based out of. While we spend more time during the week at NE, that’s just because we can’t get into NW during the week – it meets in a theater. Campus locations will grow as we launch new ones and such, but our location is Raleigh. Not a “central location.”

3. Encouraging Consumerism

He argues that the more locations, the more variety you get and people can shop around. I think consumerism is way more likely in a church with one location. Case in point: mega-churches. When we launch a campus, we need a ton of people to get involved to volunteer there or fill the places at the current campus that were emptied by the launch team. At Journey, we have hundreds more volunteers than single-site churches.

4. Cannibalizing the Body of Christ

He points out a multi-site that “partnered” with a smaller church, then replaced it’s staff and sold it’s stuff. A agree with his point that this is a bad thing. However, I’ve never seen this happen and I suspect it’s not a common occurrence.

5. Shepherds Who Don’t Know the Sheep

This point addresses Hebrews 13:17 where ministers of the gospel will be held accountable for their sheep and how can a video minister do that with sheep he doesn’t even know? Well, first of all, a pastor that rightly divides the Word of God can be certain that the Word will not return void. Also, that’s what campus pastors are for. At Journey, either campus will find a number of pastors (Jimmy Carroll, Paul Crouthamel, Rob Wetzel, Smooth Via, and Paul Callaghan) weekly with whom they can speak and pray. Also, they can set up meetings with them throughout the week. It’s called “doing life together.”

6. Understanding Planting and Preacher Training

He may have a slight point here. We do need to focus on planting churches as well as campuses. That’s why Journey gives to multiple church planting agencies. Who knows, maybe we’ll even plant one ourselves. Partnerships are especially helpful at church planting – shared resources are great. Acts 29 is a great organization that does this well.

7. No Scriptural Support!!!

Ah, I most definitely disagree here. While the church that was formed out of Peter’s sermon might have fit within Solomon’s Portico at first, remember that “the Lord was adding to their number daily” and they “were going house to house.” Does White really think that they organized meetings indefinitely at Solomon’s Portico? Also, could thousands of people really hear? Did they have to all meet together weekly to be called a church? Bi-weekly? Monthly?

8. Unanswered Questions

Since he gives questions, I guess I’ll give answers.

  1. What happens when this generation’s gifted communicators leave?
    • One of the other pastors at that church will take over. This is more biblical that “hiring out” a pastor like many churches do. If the people go there just to hear that communicator, they shouldn’t be there anyway.
  2. When they retire or pass to heaven, will these franchised churches of today lead to the disenfranchised religious of tomorrow?
    • Some could, but the ones who grounded their people in the Word of God will stand firm because Christ is their cornerstone.
  3. Will these locations stand vacant symbolizing a failed religious experiment?
    • The one’s who worshiped the communicator and not Christ probably will. And that will be a good thing.
  4. What if one location wants to call its own live preacher? Will that be allowed or does the founding assembly own the property and make the decisions?
    • If a church starts fighting over ownership, then they need to repent and turn from that. The body is just that, a body. They should function as one. They should also submit to the one (or ones – plurality of elders, anyone?) called to be their leader(s). If that many people have an issue with the elder(s)’ decision, then maybe that part of the body should meet with them as fellow brothers in Christ.
  5. Could a remote location choose to begin piping in a new rising star with no connection to the current branches?
    • That would be a decision for the church as a whole to make. A campus is not separate from the church – it is a part. This does make it easier to have someone fill the pulpit who can actually preach when the pastor is out of town. Or even better, our pastor was in Uganda recently and Smooth uploaded part of a message from him to the internet. I then downloaded and Jimmy preached for about 10 minutes from Uganda to both of our campuses. Then we played the rest of his pre-recorded message. He was able to preach while being halfway around the world! Most single-site churches would never even think of that, much less have the technology for it.
  6. Why not just plant churches?
    • We plan on doing this as well. The multi-site model helps us be wiser with our resources.

Wow. That was fun. Next?

9. Priorities

This is an important thing to keep in mind. Let us not strive after numbers and instead strive after reaching Raleigh, and North Carolina, and the world for Christ. It’s always good to keep the Gospel as the main thing – we’re called to use our talents and God-given abilities spread the Gospel (Good News) of Christ. And remember, God doesn’t always call the equipped – He also equips the called (a.k.a. all believers)!