technology

5 *More* Tech Tools for Pastors and Other Busy Professionals

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As you may have gathered from the first and second posts just like this… I like tech tools that make life easier. I’m not a naturally organized person, so I have to fight to find tools that help. Here are some of the latest tools I’ve been using in ministry. Hope there’s something here that you find something here that’s interesting to you!

Right Inbox for Gmail – This is a gmail extension that allows you to send emails in advance or at a later time. I use it if I want to respond to an email right away but want the recipient to receive it the next day, or if I want to send a reminder, either to myself or someone else. I don’t use it very often, but when I do need to use it, it’s so helpful. The free version allows you to send 10 such “send later” emails per month.

Another email reminder service is Send Recurring, the free version allows you to send 100 emails. This is the service that we’ll be using to send the email reminders for communion servers (we plan to schedule them a year in advance, but then remind them the week before, in case plans change… a few minutes on Send Recurring and a year’s worth of reminders is done.)

The next three tech tools are for pastors to figure out how to podcast their sermons. It’s not hard (though I admit I’m trying to work out all of the kinks and make this system fluid.) For a great intro about how to do this, see this guide from MaryAnn McKibben Dana¬†

iRecorder Pro– An inexpensive, but really handy tool to record sermons on your iPhone. My favorite feature of this is how easy it is to get the recordings from the phone to the computer (via IP address)

Media Human Audio Converter – Converts audio files painlessly. Free and simple.

Sermon Drop – This is the service that hosts the sermons. I recommend this one with caution. It’s simple and easy to use, but the support is not good, and I’ve run into a hiccup or two. I’d be curious to know if there are alternatives that are better…

There you have it! Yay techie tech…

For volume one of this series, see HERE

volume two is HERE

 

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5 MORE Techie Tools for Pastors (and everyone!)

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After seeing how much everyone enjoyed the last post of tech tools, I thought I’d offer up five more tools that I use on a regular basis. We’ll keep the series going until folks get sick of it, or I run out of tools, whichever comes first!

Zamzar is a file conversion tool. It works with audio, video, photo, document and music files. I use it most often to convert various document files into JPGs. When I was on a PC instead of a Mac, I used it regularly to convert files to PDFs. If you’re wondering “Can I convert this to a ______” file, check zamzar, and you probably can. Here’s how it works: You upload your file to zamzar, enter your email address, and when the file is converted, you are emailed a link to download the file. Because of the system, I don’t consider it to be super secure, but since I’m not converting state secrets or anything, I don’t worry about it. I’ve never had a problem with spam or any other issues. Zamzar is free for small files and costs for larger files (such as videos).

Tweetymail – Tweetymail is a service that allows you use email to post your tweets. I use this to solve the problem of having to sign into and out of twitter accounts to post status updates. Since my church twitter account is connected to tweetymail, all I have to do is email the status update and the church’s status is changed. Easy! A nice feature is that it will email you and refuse to post if you go over the required # of characters for twitter.

Mailchimp – A lot of people know about mailchimp, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents for anyone who was on the fence between Mailchimp and Constant Contact, because I’ve used both. Both Mailchimp (MC) and Constant Contact (CC) are programs used for email newsletters. In my view mailchimp is far superior, and for “light” users like small or medium sized churches (less than 2,000 subscribers) it’s free. Constant Contact is $20 a month after the initial period. Not only is Mail Chimp cheaper, it’s better. CC limits the number of images that can be used at one time (without an additional fee) MC does not. MC’s templates are better looking, the emails are easier to edit, and the support is better. I’m not aware of anyone who has used both that believes CC is better. Anyone?

Blockposters – This is a fun one that churches and schools might find a great deal of use for. Take a JPEG, upload it to blockposters, and it converts it into a multi page PDF that can be taped together to make a giant image. Though it’s a little time consuming (and can be difficult to line up, depending on the image) it’s cheaper than paying to have a poster made, and the result looks fine.

Swift Publisher – This is a final “bonus” for Mac users. Swift Publisher is a desktop publisher for fliers, newsletters, posters, brochures, etc. I make a ton of fliers and manage the church newsletter, and Swift Publisher is the best program I’ve found. I downloaded at least 4 others before SP, so I know! It’s intuitive, forgiving, and has a lot of flexibility.

Like these? See the first installment: 4 Techie Productivity Tools for Pastors (And anyone who has a lot of different, unconnected things to organize.) 

4 Techie Productivity Tools for Pastors (and anyone who has a lot of different unconnected things to organize)

1592-businessOne of the things that pastors have to do (which I’m sure is not unique to a ministry job) is organize a whole lot of different things at the same time… sermon materials, lots and lots of meetings, little tasks, big tasks, on it goes. Everyone has their own system, but here are some tools that have really been helpful for me recently. I thought I’d share the love. None of these are “sponsoring” this material nor have they asked me to promote them… just my own experience and love of these products. Enjoy!

TeuxDeux – TeuxDeux’s byline is “a simple, designy to-do app” and it describes them perfectly. It’s an app that allows you to create multiple to do lists and sync them with your smartphone. On the top is the to do for the day (and anything you don’t do automatically shifts over to the next day) and on the bottom you can create other lists (I have someday, projects, groceries, mealplan, & blogpost ideas as other lists). It’s very, very simple, and in its simplicity, it’s very effective. I’ve used a variety of online list making tools and this is the best, and the only one that works for me.

Pocket – Pocket is a browser extension that allows users to save material to read later. What makes it different than other bookmarking tools? 1. One click. Unlike Pinterest, Delicious, and other bookmarkers I’ve used in the past, pocket requires just one click, and you don’t have to enter another site to create the bookmark, just grab it with the pocket button and it’s done. I use it to “clip” articles I want to read later or articles I’ve read that I know I want to reference in a sermon sometime… not right now. Easy. Done.

Followupthen – I think of “followupthen” as a snooze button for email. If I receive something that needs to be followed up with and I’m worried it’s going to drop down to the bottom of the ever expanding email inbox, I forward it to follow up then. Follow ups can be short “2hours@followupthen.com” or long “friday@followupthen.com” The service then emails me the follow up when I have told it to. The big hassle for gmail priority inbox users (me!) is that followups don’t end up in the priority box, but filters can be set up to workaround that problem (I don’t usually need to do that because I check all of the inboxes with some regularity).

Coffitivity – Ok, so this one is wacky, but it works for me. Coffitivity streams background noise sounds (like a coffee shop) through your computer so you can focus. I love it. For me, hearing streams of indistinct noise helps me to focus where playing music or silence can be productivity killers. It’s free to stream on both Mac and PC or a one time 99 cent purchase to add as a desktop app (mac only).