Tool for blogging with a hurt hand

I hurt my wrist a few weeks ago, making typing difficult. It also makes blogging difficult. So I have started using a tool called Voice Note, available for the Chrome browser as a plugin. It transcribes what I read into a microphone and all it takes a little light editing for me to compose what you are reading now.

Boy in the Bands approved.

Learning Gmail

If you use Gmail for your church or nonprofit business, just go ahead and review these tips from Google. There’s even a ready-to-print version. (Thanks L. N. for the head’s up)

Google Apps for nonprofits

I now have several weeks’ experience with Google Apps — the suite of Google mail, documents and other tools using your own domain — in a nonprofit organization setting. Put mildly, I’m sold on it. (Though as a nonprofit, with an “educational” account, it is free of charge.) Email admin is easier and sharing documents was an unanticipated bonus.

Detailed praise would be a drain on my now-limited blogging time but if you are interested in Google Apps feel free to contact me or leave a comment.

Google Docs support templates: handy for admin

Google today made another step towards having your (church) office online. Let me back up.

It’s pretty clear the fine folk at Google have their sights on Microsoft, or really any operating system. Why have anything as pedestrian as software on your own computer if you can have access to software on a Google server? The future, they they say (or hope) is “in the cloud.”

They’ve moved long past searching. You can manage your email, maps, news feeds, weather information, maps, social networks, mailing lists, web sites, library, videos and other forms of information. They also support free and open source software development. It’s really amazing. (Perhaps a bit too much; I’m already planning for a post-Google life and more about non-Google options later.)

Through Google Docs, you can use a word processor and spreadsheet online, and work collaboratively. (I can’t think of an easier way for a national committee to draft a document, say.) But it isn’t really a replacement for a proper office productivity suite. (As you know, I promote if you need one.)

Now, Google Docs users can add one of hundreds of templates to make business cards, letter head, calendars, newsletters, workflow tools and slide presentations (“Powerpoints”). And you can tailor them to fit. I’m excited to try.

For details and other new features, see what’s new.

New Harmony (Windsor) Universalist Church on Google Street View

I caught a rumor that there was a Google Maps Street View camera vehicle in D.C. If anyone knows if that’s true, please leave a comment.

It’s about time. I’m a little miffed that some very out of the way places have been filmed but not Washington, D.C. Case in point? I found New Harmony Universalist Church, in the Windsor settlement near Loganville, Georgia on Google Maps Street View. A charming now-dormant church that comes to life — if nothing’s changed — on the fourth Sunday in September for homecoming. Metro Atlantans should make a note — but take good food, since the shared dinner is among the best you’ll ever have.

At least now you won’t have a hard time finding it, or knowing what the building looks like. Oh, and “go before you go” — New Harmony (Windsor) had nothing but an outhouse the last time I was there.

Google's double tithe

I was looking up a BBC story about Google’s outreach to its US and UK Gmail users to test new features; that’s new.

Lots of us love Google because they’re fresh, innovative and productive. The Gmail story points out one of their cultural norms:

As well as being shown the new service ahead of release, we were also walked through the offices where engineers take 20% of their time to come up with ideas and work on them. The 20% time is part of Google’s core ethos.

Give talented people time and support to follow their own ideas and they come up with really great stuff.

I can only imagine what good might come if churches worked the same way with respect to their members and staff members. Of course, it’s a youngish company and has unimaginable resources. But I think there are a munch of churches out there that have untapped resources, or would if they could put aside unproductive legacy programs.

Oh, and another thing. Trusting the power of individuals and networks and toning down the drumbeat of community, community, community. Just a thought.

When you Google "unitarian"

You get these first three entries in this order. Interesting. And what does that say about branding?

Unitarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the liberal religious movement with the same name, see Unitarian Universalism for the … This is because over time, some Unitarians and many Unitarian … – 79k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this

Unitarian Universalism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the largest association of Unitarian Universalists in North America, see Unitarian Universalist Association. For the beliefs from which the religion … – 112k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this
More results from ยป

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalism, a liberal religious tradition, encourages us to keep open minds, believing that personal experience, conscience, and reason should … – 13k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this

Embed a Google document as form in site or blog

Thanks to J.W. for pointing out a Google Docs new tool that allows forms to be embedded in sites. Comments at the official Google Docs blog suggest not all is well, but it should be useful for adding — at the very least — a straw poll capacity to blogs or an initial level of interactivity on church sites.

I wrote about a prior development, using Google Docs as a form, in February and right now I think that’s the more useful technology for churches.