Archive for the ‘Web/Tech’ Category

PrayNow — The Best Prayer App for iOS or Android — Help Spread the Word!

January 28th, 2013 Comments off


When I recently mentioned the updates and upgrades to the PrayNow App, I was surprised when a number of people said, “What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”

Silly me, thinking that just because I, or we here at CPH, mention something a few times, and promote something a bit, this means, of course, everyone will hear about it. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

So, in case you have not heard about PrayNow, let me introduce you to it. It is truly the most complete/comprehensive daily Christian prayer App available for mobile devices. Think that is a bit of a grand claim? Nope, it isn’t. There is no other App avaialble that offers you as much content, prayer suggestions, orders of daily prayer, Psalms, Bible readings, etc. etc. as PrayNow. It’s all resident and native on your device, no Internet connection required once you install it.

If you are looking for a way to enhance and richen your daily prayer life and follow the practice of the historic Church in using the classic daily prayer “offices” or “orders” … Matins, Vespers and Compline, then PrayNow is for you.

Here is the Apple version.

Here is the Android version.


PrayNow is the daily prayer app that places the Scriptures at the center of daily meditation and prayer.

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Daily prayer should be central to what we do as Christians. Yet it is so easy for the pressures and stresses of daily life to crowd out the time for meaningful prayer.

PrayNow is designed to meet the needs of the Christian who wishes to follow a disciplined order of daily prayer centered in the Scriptures and to use the rich resources of the church’s ancient daily orders of prayers with writings from the Church Fathers.

Pray Now provides you with the following:

• Complete texts for each day:
- A reading from the Psalms
- An Old Testament reading
- A New Testament reading
- A selection from a writing by a church father
- A hymn stanza
- A prayer for the day
• Complete orders for daily prayer:
- Matins
- Vespers
- Compline
- Morning
- Noon
- Early Evening
- Close of Day
• Features the feasts, festivals, and commemorations of the Christian Church Year
• The full text of the Psalms is available with, or without, chant notation
• A full collection of prayers for the days of the week and for various aspects of your life in Christ

Technical Features:
- Full texts for every day appear automatically according to the calendar
- Dynamic calendar allows you to display text for any day
- Choose between five different fonts
- Fully scalable font size
- Night reading mode
- Bookmarking capabilities
- Add, View, and Edit notes on each day’s readings
- Insert the day’s readings into any of the above orders for daily prayer
- TV/VGA Out for group settings


How Big is Google? Check this out

August 27th, 2010 Comments off

So, Google goes live with their new phone service, and in 24 hours….over one million calls! Here’s an interesting story about it.

Categories: Web/Tech

Screading vs. Reading

October 29th, 2009 13 comments

readingDr. Gene Edward Veith had a fascinating blog post today, well, fascinating to me at least. Perhaps you too? Listen, I’m a publisher and I know all about trends in e-books. They represent the fastest growing type of “books” being sold today, hands down. And by fast, I mean, triple digit growth rates in quantities sold, as opposed to negative double digit decreases in nearly every other type of genre, at least according to the most recent data released by the Association of American Publishers, which I am legally not able to share with you, but take my word for it. It’s dramatic; however [and in life, there's always a "however"], for me the experience of total “mind immersion” in a book is much greater than an e-book. A book I can hold in my hands, skin on paper, not skin on plastic. I can underline. I can write notes. I can jot stars, or exclamation points in the margins. I can instantly flip around in the book. So far, no e-reader I’ve seen remotely replicates the experience of reading a book. I don’t mind reading fiction on an e-reader, but anything serious, that I want to “inwardly digest,” must be a real book. Here is a great article that speaks to the difference between “screading” [reading on screen] as opposed to reading-reading.

from Cranach: The Blog of Veith:

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about scholarship on the difference between reading from a page and reading from a screen (termed “screading”).

[Anne] Mangen notes the growing sub-field of screen reading studies, but finds that the “intangibility and volatility of the digital text” remain under-examined. She focuses first, then, on the material nature of digital and non-digital reading experiences. “Unlike print texts,” she writes, “digital texts are ontologically intangible and detached from the physical and mechanical dimension of their material support, namely, their computer or e-book (or other devices, such as the PDA, the iPod or the mobile phone” (405).

This is important, she argues, because “materiality matters.” The reading experience includes manual activities and haptic perceptions (what the skin and muscles and joints register), and so as activities and perceptions of that kind are changed from one kind of reading experience to another because of the object, the reading experience, too, will change.

The differences between screen and paper go deeper than the physics of each. They also involve the relationship the reader has to them. For Mangen, a crucial difference lies in the nature of the immersion in screen “worlds” as being distinct from the technology that facilitates it. In other words, the mouse, head set, and so on provide the entry into the visual world, but are not constitutive parts of it. “In contrast,” she explains, “consider the sense of being immersed in a fictional world which is largely the product of our own mental, cognitive abilities to create that fictive, virtual (in the figurative sense of the word) world from the symbolic representations — the text, whether purely linguistic or multi-modal, digital or print — displayed by means of any technological platform.” Books don’t have tools to help readers make up that fictive world, and so they do it more with their own minds. . . .

One effect, Mangen maintains, is that the digital text makes us read “in a shallower, less focused way.”

There are other effects as well, but this one is far-reaching. While “shallower” reading through or on the screen serves certain purposes quite well, when it comes to reading complex texts and interpreting, analyzing, or even summarizing them, a slower and deeper habit is needed.

I’m not sure I’m convinced. It definitely seems harder to read a long, sustained work on a screen as opposed to a book. Screading (if we are to adopt the word) does seem to work better for shorter shots of language. Let me ask you owners of Kindle or similar readers. Is your reading experience qualitatively different when you read on a Kindle vs. reading ink on paper? Are you missing anything?

For more:

HT: Jackie

Categories: e-books, Web/Tech

The Book of Concord is Now Twittering

May 25th, 2009 4 comments
The title page from the first edition of the Book of Concord. Dresden, 1580. Image courtesy of Concordia Seminary Library, Saint Louis.

The title page from the first edition of the Book of Concord. Dresden, 1580. Image courtesy of Concordia Seminary Library, Saint Louis.

Yes, the good, old Book of Concord has joined the Twitterati and is pumping out daily tweets, with a link to a daily reading from the Book of Concord. Sign up for them here. And, while you are at, be sure to visit the Book of Concord’s home on the Internet, where you can choose from a variety of different options to receive daily readings from the Lutheran Confessions.

The Ten Commandments of Church Web Sites

May 22nd, 2009 11 comments

webdesignI continue to be impressed, both negatively and positively, by the many congregational web sites I visit. I just heard from a pastor friend of mine who reported that a family in his area found his congregation via his web  site. And he is in a fairly remote area. I can not underscore enough how important it is for your congregation to: (a) have a web site; (b) make it look very, very good; (c) keep it simple, clear and with good information right on the first page people see. You would be surprised how often a congregation’s web site makes it nearly impossible to find the most basic of information: where it is located; a contact e-mail; a phone number; clear directions; service times. I see web sites that bury this information on other pages, spread it out across several pages, or if they do put it on their home page, it is hard to read and see. It is much better to have a simple, clear, basic web site that looks nice, rather than one that is cluttered with poor quality design, images, colors and assorted eye-candy that adds nothing of value to the site. Keep in mind that your congregation’s home page should be designed with the non-member in mind, first and foremost. If you don’t want people to think your congregation is a private club, then don’t make the web site look that way. Here then, for your consideration, are

The Ten Commandments of Church Web Sites

I. Thou shalt communicate basic, necessary information first and foremost: directions to your church; service times; contact information.

II. Thou shalt not make it hard for the stranger in your midst to find this basic information.

III. Thou shalt be attentive to requests and inquiries thy web site receives: answer queries immediately, on the same day. Delay not when thou art contacted!

IV. Thou shalt design thy site with the non-member in mind, first and foremost.

V. Thou shalt place member-only information on separate pages, easily found for your members, but keep the sojourner and alien’s need in mind first on your home page.

VI. Thou shalt inform viewers what your church stands for and believes. Hide not thy public confession, lest you deceive visitors.

VII. Thou shalt not clutter thy church web site with ugly graphics, too many colors and 1990s era web design. If thou can not provide an excellent web site,  thou shalt keep it simple.

VIII. Thou shalt keep thy site neat and clean. Just because thou canst add widgets, graphics and flash graphics, does not mean that thou shouldst add them.

IX. Thou shalt not force visitors to listen to dreadful MIDI organ music; therefore, turn off all auto-play audio and video files. Force not music and videos on thy visitors.

X. Thou shalt not post embarrassing, poorly produced or prepared images of thy pastor and thy congregation’s staff. Better no pictures, than ugly ones.

Categories: Web/Tech

PrintFriendly — Impressive New Plugin

May 19th, 2009 Comments off

logo-printnicerCheck out PrintFriendly, an impressive new plugin/widget/gadget that makes printing things from blog sites and web sites easy. Their web site has a nice video explanation of how it works. They offer a way for you to install this into your browser to make printing any web page you are on easier, it will also generate a PDF file for you, and you can install a little widget gizmo thing on every blog post to let your readers print your posts out in a printer-friendly format. Pretty cool. I’m not sure how using paper helps save the environment, but….it’s still pretty cool.

Categories: Web/Tech, Weblogs

Cyberbrethren is Now Available on the Kindle

May 18th, 2009 2 comments

So, Amazon has opened their blog distribution network to, well, anyone with a blog. Cyberbrethren is now available via monthly subscription to all Kindle owners and readers. It will be interesting to see what happens. I’m having a hard time figuring out why anyone would actually use a Kindle as their blog reader, and pay to view blogs, when they are available for free over the Webernet. Here is a screen shot of Cyberbrethren’s Amazon Kindle location:


Book of Concord Web Site: Update

May 16th, 2009 3 comments

It’s been some time since I’ve said anything about my other web site: With the help of my friend Norm Fisher, who is the technical mastermind behind the web site, we’ve added the Preface to the Book of Concord, and changed the opening page’s introductory wording to help people jump right into the site, whether they know a lot, or only very little, about the Book of Concord. We also added Luther’s 1529 Exhortation to Confession, to the supplemental historical/contextual documents on the site. We will continue, slowly, to add things, as possible, to the site, but for now I’m pretty pleased with the collection of resources that are provided on I hope you are too. I welcome your thoughts and observations.Here is a screen shot of the home page:


E-Books Will Never Catch On

May 1st, 2009 8 comments

feat-libr-300px_v251249390_Oh, really? Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, has a provocative blog post challenging something all publishers hear whenever they talk about e-books. I’ve experienced it too. Whenever I put up a post on e-books, or talk about my Kindle 2, or how Concordia Publishing House is moving into e-books, sure enough, I receive a flurry of flustered comments from book-lovers who recite all the reasons they know, they just know, e-books will never really catch on and why books are better. Are books better? It depends. Do I love books? Huh? Is the Pope Catholic? Am I enjoying e-books? Yes, very much. I own and use a Kindle 2. I have downloaded to my iTouch iPod three of the “big players” in e-book readers, including: Stanza, eReader and the Kindle app for the iPhone/iTouch. I like each of them. Read Michael’s post and then tell me what you think. He has several related links to other articles he has written about e-books as well for you to check out. My thesis is this: if you enjoy reading, you will enjoy e-books. And, with all due respect to e-book detractors, I have yet to meet a vociferous anti-e-book person who actually has spent much time at all with an e-book reader, a modern one, not some clunky thing from the late 1990s.

The Tyranny of the Urgent: An Effort at Breaking Bad Habits

April 19th, 2009 3 comments

computer+addict+1.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the fact that I do not do enough thinking. I do too much reacting, too much responding, but not enough thinking. Why? Because of the tyranny of the urgent, and I’ve come to realize a major culprit in my slavish attention to the urgent is: e-mail and the computer in general. I’m going to try to break some bad habits and form some good habits. Here are some excellent things I’ve read that I’m going to be putting into place over the next two weeks. I’ll give this a whirl and let you know how it is going, in two weeks. And, yes, this applies to Twitter Tweets and Facebook messages and blog reading and writing, as well. Here are some tips I’ve picked up, starting with a blog post by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson:

“I am reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. He’s only twenty-nine-years old, but wise beyond his years. This is probably the best book I have read on productivity since Getting Things Done by David Allen. Tim says, “… limit e-mail consumption and production. This is the greatest single interruption in the modern world.” He’s right. It is amazing how distracting e-mail can be. Does this sound familiar? You are working on an important project and you get a notice that you have received an e-mail message. What do you do? You stop what you are doing to read the message, despite the fact that this can totally derail you from your current task. The worst part is that people go through their entire day like this. No sooner are they engaged in doing something important and meaningful and—da-ding!—they get a notice that they have received a new e-mail. They stop what they are doing, switch to their inbox, and read some inane e-mail that contributes nothing to their current priorities or the project at hand. What makes us do this? This is border-line neurotic behavior. I should know. I suffer from the disease myself. If you keep doing this long enough—let’s be honest here—it makes you A.D.D. You stay busy all day long and have virtually nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Can we agree to stop the madness? Based on Tim’s advice, I have resolved to check e-mail only twice a day. It is already having an enormous impact. Here’s what I suggest:

“1. Work on your computer in “offline” mode. You don’t need to be notified when you receive a new e-mail. People can wait. Yes, even your boss. Instead, let messages accumulate in your inbox and then batch process a whole bunch of messages at once. For example, I’m on a plane now. I downloaded my messages just before we boarded in Dallas. I have processed 68 messages in 45 minutes, and generated 21 replies. I am now writing this post. It took 30 minutes. If I had dealt with these in real-time, as they landed in my inbox, it would have likely taken two to three times as long. Why? Because my attention would be divided between my e-mail and all the other things yapping for attention on my desk.

“2. Only check e-mail twice a day. I mean really … isn’t this sufficient?

“3. Don’t check e-mail first thing in the morning. This has been the most difficult part of my experiment. I am used to checking my e-mail first thing in the morning and last thing at night (and a hundred times in between). Instead, I am now focused on getting my two most important daily priorities done first. Before, I would often go days without making any real progress. At best, I was reacting and just trying to stay caught up. Now, I am proacting and making substantial progress on my goals and to-do list items.”

And here’s another set of tips.

1. Shut off auto-check – Either turn off automatic checking completely, or set it to something reasonable, like every 20 minutes or so. If you’re doing anything with new email more than every few minutes, you might want to rethink your approach. I’m sure that some of you working in North Korean missile silos need real-time email updates, but I encourage the rest of you to consider ganging your email activity into focused (maybe even timed) activity every hour or three. Process, tag, respond to the urgent ones, then get the hell back to work. (See also, NYT: You There, at the Computer: Pay Attention)

2. Pick off easy ones – If you can retire an email with a 1-2 line response (< 2 minutes; pref. 30 seconds), do it now. Remember: this is about action, not about cogitating and filing. Get it off your plate, and get back to work. On the other hand, don’t permit yourself to get caught up in composing an unnecessary 45-minute epistle (see next item).

3. Write less – Stop imagining that all your emails need to be epic literature; get better at just keeping the conversation moving by responding quickly and with short actions in the reply. Ask for more information, pose a question, or just say “I don’t know.” Stop trying to be Victor Hugo Marcel Proust, and just smack it over the net—especially if fear of writing a long reply is what slows your response time. N.B.: This does not mean that you should write elliptically or bypass standard grammar, capitalization, and punctuation (unless you want to look 12 years old); just that your well-written message can and should be as concise as possible. That saves everyone time.

4. Cheat – Use something like MailTemplate to help manage answers to frequent email subjects. Templates let you create and use boilerplate responses to the questions and requests to which you usually find yourself drafting identical replies over and over from scratch. At least use a template as a basis for your response, and then customize it for that person or situation. Don’t worry—you can still let your sparkling prose and winning wit shine through, just without having to invent the wheel 10 times each day.

5. Be honest – If you know in your heart that you’re never going to respond to an email, get it out of sight, archive it, or just delete it. Guilt will not make you more responsive two months from now, otherwise, you’d just do it now, right? Trust your instincts, listen to them, and stop trying to be perfect.

Categories: Web/Tech

I was wrong. Twitter is terrific. Here’s why.

April 6th, 2009 33 comments

twitter-bird-wallpaperSome months ago I declared Twitter to be a total, complete waste of bandwidth. I was wrong. Twitter can be a bane, or a blessing, depending on how you use it. The trick to it, as I’ve discovered, is managing and using it efficiently. Here are my two favorite tools: TweetDeck and You will find this beginner’s guide to Twitter helpful. This is from Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson, a leader in the general Christian community when it comes to Tweeting, Twittering, etc.

With TweetDeck I’m able to sort, slice and dice all my incoming Tweets, and organize whom I following into logical groupings. If you do not do this you will go insane trying to read Tweets, and since some people like to tell you what they are doing every fifteen minutes, if you pick up even a few dozen twitter feeds, yes, you will go nuts. is a wonderful way to update as many social network sites as you want, all at once. So, enjoy.

Pastors: we have to be where the folks are. And, they are on Twitter, and Facebook, and the Internet, and blogging, and so forth, and so on. A mantra I picked up from a co-worker recently is true: Communication is key and the Internet is free. Need I say more?

Oh, yes, you can Tweet this blog post, or send it on to Just click the links below.

Kindle 2 Review

March 7th, 2009 4 comments

I've had the new Kindle2 for a couple weeks now and wanted to try it out before saying anything. OK, so, I've tried it out. Here is my short reaction: everything I could not stand [hated] about Kindle 1 has been addressed and fixed in Kindle 2. Kindle 1 was a design disaster. Kindle 2 gets it right. Kindle 2 gets it so right you say to yourself, "What was Amazon thinking when they did Kindle 1?" And for those smugly thinking to themselves, "Glad I waited and did not buy Kindle 1." Yup, you were right!

Here is a picture of Kindle 1:

Kindle 1

Here is a picture of Kindle 2:


Kindle 1 buttons were terrible. They were huge, they "clicked" because they were engaged to "click" by pressing the outside edge, down. The Kindle 2 uses much smaller buttons and you can only click them if you mean to, by clicking down on the inside edge. Thanks to Ryan Markel for explaining why it is that I like the new Kindle 2 buttons so much! Has something to do with toggle/pivot direction.

Kindle 1 felt like a cheap piece of junk. Kindle 2 feels like you have yourself a substantial device in your hands. I know this is entirely a perception thing, but …it is a huge satisfying difference.

Kindle 1 was like holding a weird block-like/brick-like thing in your hands, and you could never find a comfortable position to hold it without fear that you would press a button and either advance a page, go back a page, or worse yet, kick yourself out of what you were reading. Kindle 2 is easy to hold and use without fear of pressing a button.

Kindle 1 was thick and bulky. Kindle 2 is sleek and trim.

Kindle 1's keyboard was just plain weirdly spaced out. Kindle 1 designers obviously thought, "Let's make all the buttons on this thing as large as possible." Kindle 2 designers said, "Wow, that was a mistake. Let's make the buttons smaller so readers can use them more easily."

Kindle 1 used a goofy track wheel kind of thing and a weird "silver" progress bar system on the side. So, you had to scroll and click. Kindle 2 completely changed the interface to a little "joystick" which I did not think I'd like at first, but it is a breeze to use and gives you more functionality, more quickly. Big improvement, and no more goofy silvery stuff on the progress bar. No progress bar.

Kindle 1 did not come with a USB cable, but did come with an external charger thing. Kindle 2 comes with a USB cable and charger put together in a nice combination. You pop the electrical plug off and, voila, you have the Kindle-to-computer USB port, pop the electrical plug back on and you can power it up from any wall socket, and there is only cable. The other end of the USB cable is a small connection, so you can't use the more standard USB cables that you use with most other cameras, and digital device.

Kindle 1's design was just plain weird. It was kind of a rectangle from the front but a kind of wedge from the side. It was Picasso-esque in design and feel. The Kindle 2 reminds me of something Apple computer would do, design, present, package, and document. 'nuff said.

Kindle 1 had its on/off and wireless buttons on the back of the device. Which would be fine assuming you didn't use a cover. But since most people want to have something protecting their $400 device, this meant you would invariably manage to detach the cover from the Kindle 1, or literally the back cover of the Kindle 1 would come off. Horrible design flaws. Kindle 2 however has only one on/off button that you simply slide over for a few seconds, and power on. Slide over quickly to wake it up. Slide it over and hold it for four seconds to power down.

Kindle 1's cover. Disaster. Total and complete, disaster. It hooked into a plastic cover on the back and the cover would fall out at the slightest bump. So your cover would never stay on or attached while you were reading it. Kindle 2 has a wonderful locking cover system where you attach the cover (optional) into a locking clip. The cover does not come off, period.

Kindle 1's battery life was not the greatest. Wifi on Kindle 1 was find. Kindle 2 has better battery life, particularly after you a few good full charges, and it's wireless is much better, taking advantage of 3G speeds where available.

Frankly, for me, the jury is still out a bit on whether I enjoy reading more with the Kindle than with traditional books, but I do know this: I'm reading more now then I have previously. Why? Because the Kindle makes it easy to have, literally at your fingertips, hundreds and hundreds of options. For instance, during my trip yesterday I had a two hour flight to where I went, and a two hour flight back. Four hours. Plus waiting time at the airport. A total of around seven hours. All spent reading. I read a manuscript an author-friend of mine sent me for an endorsement, I read from the New Yorker magazine, I read from the Bible, the Book of Concord, Treasure Island, and several other papers and such that I have on the Kindle.

I give the Kindle 2 a 8.5 out of 10 stars. I'm reserving 1.5 stars for future improvement. I find the Kindle reading experience to be extremely comfortable. No eye strain. You are not looking at a back lit screen. It is very much like reading a book, and that's the nicest thing I can say about it.

Oh, one more thing. I'm sorry PC-friends, but the differences between Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 can be best summarized by saying this. "Kindle 1 felt like it was designed by Microsoft. Kindle 2? Apple." 'nuff said.

Categories: Web/Tech

You Can Never Have Too Much Memory

January 7th, 2009 3 comments

I've never seen memory prices this low…and I've been into this stuff for a long, long time. Word to the wise: You'll never go wrong maxing out your computer's memory capacity! Here is the site I use.

Three things that are never true:

I have too much bookshelf space.
I have too much memory.
I have too much hard drive capacity.

Categories: Web/Tech

New CPH Web Site

July 26th, 2007 7 comments

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve done a major overhaul to our web site at Concordia Publishing House. Check it out.


Categories: Web/Tech

Test Your Geek Chic Results

March 31st, 2006 2 comments

NEWSWEEK, this week, has a full page "Geek" test. I scored 64. What does this mean? The key on the page indicates: "60+: Seriously nerdy" — and there you have it. You can take the quiz yourself.

Categories: Web/Tech