Crazy Christians on the Move

I’ve moved all of my “Church Talk” content to a new blog. I’ve consolidated all of my ranting and raving to Crazy Christians. There are a couple other new blogs for which I’ll be writing, but I don’t feel like explicitly announcing them yet. If you look closely, you can find the big blaring links to them on this site.

Entitled to Salvation

Although it is biblical, I’m thinking the whole “Free gift from God thing” isn’t really working as an evangelism strategy these days. Let me tell you why before you chop my head off.

Just take a look at the society around us. Everything is supposed to be free in our culture of entitlement. Another day, I’ll write about how we’ve done away with terms such as privilege, right, etc, but for now, let’s focus on entitlement.

From birth to death, the common theme people are learning these days is one of entitlement. There is a push to penalize the rich for their wealth. So what if they earned it? There are days I wish I wasn’t a white male, just so I could score a few extra points in whatever game I’m trying to win (but instead I have to get the League of Legends 2017 worlds skins look out), be it a lucrative job, financial aid for education, politics, you name it. But this isn’t about affirmative action. It’s about life and death.

You see, there used to be a great argument that we could work our way into Heaven. I still hear it, but what does it even mean? If we don’t have to earn our own living and can subsist on our parents’ generosity, our minority-ness, welfare or whatever. then where does the principal of work even come from?

So if there is no concept of work, no concept of earning anything, much less a surefire way to Heaven, then how can a free gift be of any value? It isn’t to those that need it.

Custom Shoes by REAL Shoes Experts

I just wanted to offer a quick plug for a recently completed project, REAL Shoes Experts. Ioan Chereji is a fellow church member and is a master shoe designer and maker. He truly is a master. I had several of his custom made shoes for a couple weeks while shooting some product shots for his website. They recently opened a new store where they not only sell custom shoes, but several well-known brands as well. So, if you’re in need of custom shoes due to foot problems or just want some beautiful shoes, check out these custom made shoes by REAL Shoes Experts.

Sharing the love

There’s a stigma that goes with having a job that even remotely relates to technology – you immediately become the “computer guy.” Anyone with a question automatically assumes you’ll have the answer. Being a web developer, I have become the resident computer guy on more than one occasion, answering questions and fixing problems.

Having to answer questions isn’t the only perk of being the computer guy, though. You also have to talk shop. Maybe not surprisingly, I hate talking tech outside of 9-5. I don’t like to talk about what languages I program in and why, what I think about Web 2.0, or the evil that is Myspace. I should probably be better about this, but the worst is when I get stuck in a casual conversation with someone who “knows enough to be dangerous” and begins to opine on some topics that are frankly, way out of their league.

Why say all this? Because I have been talking the ear off of a good friend of mine lately regarding my latest expensive hobby, digital photography. I’ve always loved photography, but never took it seriously. When Asher was born, my amazing wife allowed me the luxury of purchasing my first digital SLR. I’ve since taken nearly 2500 photos (that’s in about 5 months since we got it a few days after he was born).

You see, this good friend is a professional wedding photographer. Now, I know that your uncle or brother’s friend or your second grade teacher’s grandson’s neighbor knows a guy who does wedding photography, but this dude is the real deal. He’s a master of lighting, a guru of photojournalism and frankly, a creative genius. I guarantee you he doesn’t need me sharing my thoughts on the latest gear, bugging him with questions or
asking favors to borrow gear.

So to pay him back for the time I spend talking his ear off, I thought I’d give him a plug and link him up here. So, if you have a wedding coming up and are looking for a photographer, stop searching. Stephen Seward is your man. Check out his wedding photography portfolio and his blog for info.

And if your needs aren’t wedding related, but say portraits or children, you can still call Stephen. Or, you can call Tarah Craft. Tarah does weddings too, but after you see her baby, children and family portrait work, you’ll want to have children just so she can take pictures of them. The third photo of her son in this post on her blog CRACKS. ME. THE. HECK. UP!

Get naked!

You’re probably a bit thrown off at such a title from a guy who talks a lot about church. However, for those of you not reading this via an RSS Reader, you’ll probably get the point. I’ve removed the prettiness from this site for a day in honor of CSS Naked Day. In the founder’s words:

The idea behind this event is to promote Web Standards. Plain and simple. This includes proper use of (x)html, semantic markup, a good hierarchy structure, and of course, a good ‘ol play on words. It’s time to show off your <body>.

Being Multilingual is Hard

Sure, most of the latest stuff I’ve written here has either been church-related or personal stuff that no one really cares about. What about the meaningless stuff I do from 9-5 called work?

As a web developer, I try to keep a fairly flexible toolbox. It’s extremely important to stay current on available technologies, but at the same time, equally as important to pay attention to what works.

In the same way that an international businessman (or man of mystery) might wish to be semi-fluent in multiple languages, the same holds true for those of us in technology. Each client or project requires its own unique set of tools. In the web world, these tools consist of server hardware, operating systems, web servers, database servers, server-side development languages, client-side development languages, web services, a variety of markup and transformational languages, CSS, graphic design, and a ginormous number of plugins, APIs and libraries. Add to that things like usability, accessibility, standards and the like, and you can see the difficulty.

Usually, a developer or a team may specialize in a set of tools. Additionally, that team may consist of a project manager, a handful of backend developers, a database administrator, a user interface designer, and a usability specialist. Granted, that team may be a little robust for a simple content-managed marketing site and better suited for a large-scale web-based application. The point is there is a great deal more that goes into this business than buying a template online, creating a Microsoft Word document & saving it as HTML or even using Dreamweaver.

Since the days of Geocities, Tripod, and other free website providers, there has been a perception that web design is easy. The market became (and remains) saturated with brothers, cousins, uncles, stay-at-home-moms, and friends-of-friends that can use Frontpage and download scripts to make a website functional. Then there are professional software engineers who have lived in the desktop world, but the market has demanded that they come to the dark side of web development. This usually involves using similar tools, but comes with those developers not understanding the differences between the web and the desktop. Then we have extremely talented designers who come from the world of advertising and try to use print philosophies on the web, only to then complain that the web is boring and not flexible enough to meet their needs.

I say this all because I just wrapped up a stretch where I was involved in three projects simultaneously, each using a completely different tool set. My head still hasn’t stopped spinning. One is based completely on Microsoft technologies. Another I’m implementing using an open source content-management system using PHP & Mysql. And the third is a custom application developed using Ruby on Rails. Don’t worry if you don’t understand or care about any of those names or acronyms because I don’t either. Two of those three were custom designed by me, with the third having a second phase that will include a custom design.

Being self-employed has allowed me the luxury of being able to use several skills to execute projects. The ability to blend the creative and the technical keeps my overhead pretty low. However, I also know my limits. There are definitely things I can’t do. And, having been in this industry for a decade, I understand the constraints of the medium — what works and what doesn’t.

The moral of this story is simply that whatever business you’re in, there are certain barriers of entry. My business happens to have very low barriers, creating a ridiculously cutthroat environment. Choose your culture carefully. Understand the medium in which you work. Fill your toolbox with the right tools. These may not be the easiest or even the best, but as long as they’re the right tools, you’re making your job that much more successful. Know and understand the limits of that medium, but most importantly, know and understand your own limits. Having a passion for what you do helps as well. It keeps you interested in continually learning more and not relying on prefab techniques, but exploring new ways to accomplish old tasks.