Web links and tips for listeners to Crossfire with Len Black on Moray Firth and Nevis Radio, where Scottish Christian publisher Ian Ansdell appears each month (usually!). Please note that some older links may no longer be active. If you’ve any technical queries, or are interested in a new website for your church or Christian organisation, please email email@example.com.
Sunday 19 May 2013
• Scottish Christian has been re-designed (yet again!) since we last met.
• Gizmo of the Month: PC Pro magazine assessed the best free and paid-for anti-virus programs on the market. Best freebie was Avast Antivirus, but it nags you to upgrade. Best to go for the superior Bitdefender Total Security, which you can get for as little as £6 or £7 a year if you shop around.
• Freebie of the Month: Ever forgotten a password for a website you use regularly? Haven’t we all! You’ve a good chance of retrieving the missing link using WebBrowserPassView.
• Do you want Google to track your surfing and serve up tailored adverts? Is this intrusion, or a handy service? Find out more … and how to opt out.
• Fretting about a Powerpoint presentation? Buy a professional package for washers at PitchStock.
• Catholics urged to spread the word on Facebook.
Sunday 24 February 2012
It’s a February Gizmo Bonanza!
• Let’s start simply with CloseAll. Click the big red X and it closes all your programs.
• Outrageous conditions appear to be attached to Microsoft Office 2013 – it can only be used once on one computer:
Maybe it’s time to consider switching to LibreOffice (brought to you by the folk who developed OpenOffice)
It’s free and has equivalents of all the main Microsoft Office components except for Outlook. Documents produced by Libreoffice are compatible with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 – docx etc. And it doesn’t have the dreaded ribbon!
In place of Outlook, you can used Mozilla Thunderbird for email plus Lightning for Calendar (brought to you by the folk who make Firefox):
• Ubuntu Linux turns out to be very easy to install alongside Windows and well worth testing as an alternative to Windows. Don’t try unless you’re confident, though.
• Want Kindle books but don’t want to buy a Kindle machine? No probs … download Kindle free for your PC or phone or tablet, and synchronise between them:
PC – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000423913
Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.kindle&hl=en
Mac – http://kindle-for-mac.en.softonic.com/mac
MightyText lets you send text messages from your PC or tablet via your Android mobile phone:
Sunday 16 December 2012
• Pope Benedict is on Twitter. Who will he follow?! Here’s an interview with the Pope’s ‘social media guru’.
Now for multiple Gizmos of the Month …
• You can spruce up your computer’s performance using CCleaner. Or use the holidays to reinstall your operating system. Be sure to back everything up first!
• Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, is said to bring vast improvements in speed, reliability and startup times. But it also has a completely new interface – and the Start button’s been done away with. (Some of the needless changes can be overcome using third-party programs.) Fancy trying it out? You can download a full version for free and use it for three months – best to do it on a virtual drive or separate partition from your current operating system. If you’d like to upgrade permanently, the Pro version is available for just £25 until 31 January, 2013. It’s wise to do some research beforehand … ComputerActive magazine’s Windows 8 special edition is well worth the £5.99 cover price.
• Of course, if you’re fed up with Windows altogether, or would like to try an alternative, Linux is available for free. This could be a good option for Windows XP users when Microsoft ceases support in April 2014.
Sunday 11 November 2012
• Did you notice the great jam-jar stushie last month? Turns out that it was all a storm in a pressure-cooker. Turns out that the Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service over-egged the pudding – but they offer some interesting advice on their website anyway.
• The Religious Education Movement in Scotland has a terrific new website with great resources.
• Last month saw the merger of three bodies concerned with Scottish church buildings. Sacred Scotland, Maintain Your Church and Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust became Scotland’s Churches Trust, and it has a new website.
• Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert website is a treasure trove of sound financial advice. It has recently added a really useful page entitled Death happens – plan for it: 20+ crucial checks to minimise financial trauma.
• Gizmo of the Month: Is somebody hogging the family TV? Grab your laptop and visit TV Catchup to watch more than 50 channels … for free!
Sunday 23 September 2012
• What happens to your digital data when you’re gone? Keeping all your passwords etc in one accessible place can save your loved ones a lot of trouble and heart-ache. The same goes for details of church websites and online accounts.
• Checking updates on a website is usually easy nowadays thanks to RSS feeds. But if the site you’re tracking doesn’t have RSS, Watch That Page is just the job, sending you an email whenever the page changes.
• You’re sure to have heard about Martha Payne the Argyll food-blogging pupil who’s raised more than £100,000 for Mary’s Meals. But do you know just how easy it is to set up a fund-raising page at JustGiving?
• Still on fund-raising … you can raise money on unwanted CDs or DVDs through Music Magpie. Ideal for jumble sale left-overs, or perhaps a special appeal.
• Gizmo of the Month: Prey anti-theft software will help track down a stolen mobile phone, tablet or computer. It might even take a photo of the thief!
Sunday 22 July 2012
• I decline to use the ‘O’ word, but am delighted to recommend free Chariots of Fire resources!
• Website news: the Free Church has beefed up the news coverage on its site, and SCIAF has a new site.
• How do we find stories for the Scottish Christian News Monitor? Mostly through Google Alerts.
• Have you STILL not got to grips with Twitter?! Mashable has an excellent guide for beginners.
• While we’re in instructional mode, here’s a handy Beginner’s Guide to HTML and CSS.
• Gizmo of the Month: Last time I recommended Start Menu 7 for users of Windows Vista and 7. Silly me; Classic Shell does more, and it’s FREE.
Sunday 22 April 2012
• After Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has rocketed from nowhere to become the third most popular social network. And up to 97 per cent of its users are women. Here are 11 ways your church could use Pinterest.
• Blockbuster movie The Hunger Games has potential for ‘engaging teens & twenties with spiritual parallels‘.
• April 29 is Internet Evangelism Day. Stacks of resources here.
• Gizmo of the Month: Replace the horrid start menu in Windows Vista/7 with an old-school flyout menu … Start Menu 7.
• MegaGizmo of the Month: Loads of free programs from Serif – but don’t use WebPlus!
• Tip of the Month: If you’re using drag’n'drop to copy a file from your computer to a memory stick, make sure the actual file has copied, and not just a shortcut!
• Oh well, here’s a bonus tip: If text on a website is too small to read, hold down the Ctrl button on your keyboard and either hit the +/- keys on the board or move the wheel on your mouse. Also handy for seeing small pictures in greater detail. To return to normal size, go to View then Zoom on your browser menu.
Sunday 11 March 2012
• Scottish Christian is back online following a four-month break!
• News coverage on the front page is now drawn automatically through RSS from major church and other websites.
• RSS – Really Simple Syndication – makes the output of news-based sites available for off-site use.
• Individuals can view the content without having to visit the original website, using online tools like Google Reader or (free!) desktop programs like Feedreader or RSSOwl …
• … and other people’s news can be presented on your own website. This site for St Mungo’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria carries Daily Prayer plus diocesan and provincial news in its right-hand sidebar, all updated automatically by RSS.
• A similar system is used for our new Twitter Roundup.
• Phew! Now relax while we talk about the latest trend in websites … responsive web design. Increasing numbers of people don’t access websites on PCs or laptops. Instead, they use smartphones or tablets like the iPad. Many websites look awful or are unusable on these new gizmos. Hence responsive web design … a design which responds to the device the user views it on. See examples at DesignModo and TheNextWeb. See how they work by calling one up in your browser then making the browser window smaller. (Scottish Christian was in early … we used ElmaStudio’s Ari theme last year, but dropped it for other technical reasons.)
• Gizmo of the Month is Google Docs Embedding, which enables you to display any document, such as a PDF, in a web page. You can get the code from Google or use a plugin if your site’s built on WordPress. There’s an example of it in action at the bottom of this page from St Ninian’s, Troon.