Monday, March 24, 2014

Just a quick note here to say I recently published a post over at ChurchMag about Criticue, a site that lets you get free critiques of your website. My post covers how churches might be able to benefit from using Criticue. Read my entire post at

Let me know what you think of this post, and be sure to check out lots of other posts on church websites at my other blog at

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MicroPlace Closing Statement
I was disappointed to see today when I logged into my MicroPlace account that as of today (January 14, 2014), they’re no longer accepting new investments. Fortunately, all current investments are continuing, so I don’t lose the $800 I have in my account. Also, the site isn’t going away until all investments through them have matured, so accounts and tax information stay current for at least the next few years. Still, it’s disappointing to see that the MicroPlace wasn’t able to catch on.

Despite MicroPlace’s closing, I continue to think micro-financing has a great deal of potential for economic development and fighting poverty. Other micro-financing efforts, like the much better known Kiva, continue to do well, but their model is different.

Most other organizations are non-profit, and they are really just a different way to make a donation. The advantage of MicroPlace was that it was set up to give actual financial returns to investors. Personally, I used MicroPlace because I wanted to do something positive with my money, but as a seminary student with lots of loans, it’s a lot easier to justify using my money for something that give me a return.

Also, MicroPlace had the unique advantage (or at least what should have been a unique advantage!) of being backed by eBay and PayPal. That both gave them credibility in attracting investments from people like me and provided a way for investors/customers to get money in and out without needing to worry about transaction fees.

At least for me, micro-finance investing was possible because I got a return on my money, but the return was so small (in the neighborhood of 1 or 2%) that the usual PayPal transaction fees would have eaten up the return. I hope someone else is able to come up with a similar system!

Visit MicroPlace’s MicroPlace FAQ page for more information on why exactly they’re closing. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Five Awesome Alarm Clocks

Before diving into some awesome alarm clocks, here's a word of explanation about how this topic came up. I'm currently working at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, doing a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) internship, and we're getting towards the end of the summer. We're all getting a little tired from how busy the summer has been. Somehow at work today the topic of alarm clocks came up, and, since we're working at the hospital, somehow the hospital's helicopter got mixed in too, getting us talking about unique novelty alarm clock ideas.

Well, apparently there's such a thing as a helicopter flying alarm clock. So, without further ado, here's some other awesome alarm clocks.

Five Awesome Alarm Clocks

5. Coin Deactivated Alarm Clock

View on Amazon This is one of the more brilliant alarm clocks I've seen, and unlike the ones listed below, it's potentially profitable too! The concept of the Banclock is that you have to insert a coin to get it to stop going off. Obviously, you're not going to make much money from yourself by putting in a coin a day, but still, it's a brilliant idea. It could even be a good tool for teaching your kids to save a little money each day. Or, maybe it could work as a tax for your older child who won't get out of bed...think if it required money to press snooze!

Unfortunately, the Banbox looks really difficult to get. It's available on Amazon, but only for a lot of money and from sketchy looking sellers. Ah well. Cool concept.


4. Helicopter Flying Alarm Clock

View on AmazonThe concept here is simple. When the alarm goes off, the "helicopter" is launched into the air, and you have to find it and return it back to the base station. It's a cool idea, but it doesn't sound like it's implemented all that well. The flying part is basically a cheap plastic propeller, and I don't think (although I'm not 100% sure) that it's powered at all. It's basically like those plastic helicopter toys that you pull a string to launch into the air. This would be a much more awesome alarm clock if it was actually a powered helicopter. Still, it's quite cheap on Amazon, so check it out if you want. Like most of these, I imagine it'd make a great gift. Oh, and it also makes a fake takeoff sound, and a horrible alarm beeping noise that I'm sure would get me out of bed! Here's a video:


3. Silent Vibrating Personal Alarm Clock

View on AmazonThis vibrating wearable alarm clock concept has some advantages, but like the others, there definitely seem to be some flaws here too. My wife hates being woken up in the morning, and I hate waking her up when I have to get up first, so the idea of a silent device that could wake up just one person would be great. Of course, if it's like a phone set on vibrate, just the noise might be enough to wake up a light sleeper. Personally, I think a wearable alarm clock that delivered a small electric shock to the sleeping wearer would be great, but I can't find that. Maybe it'd be dangerous to people with pacemakers? Hmm...I can tell I'm working on a cardiac unit at the hospital!

Of course, the other flaw with this one is that it'd be really easy to turn off. You don't have to get out of bed to find it. Heck, you don't even have to roll over and reach for it! Check it out here on Amazon.


2. Shootable Alarm Clock Target

View on Amazon How could you not want an alarm clock you could shoot? That's pretty much how I feel about my alarm clock every time it goes off! The idea here of course is that you put the clock across the room and have to hit it with your "gun shot" to silence it, and by the time you are able to aim well enough to hit it, you'll be awake. Of course, if I was disciplined enough to put my alarm clock across the room, the mere act of getting up and walking over to turn it off would be enough to wake me up. But then, what fun is that? I want to shoot my appliances! Check out the gun and target alarm clock here. Unfortunately, from glancing through the Amazon reviews, it doesn't look like this clock is all that durable, which decreases its awesomeness somewhat. Someone else suggested setting up a series of mirrors to make shooting the target with your laser gun more difficult. Either way, it's still an awesome concept for an alarm clock!


1. Clocky Rolling Alarm Clock

View on AmazonFinally, of course, there's the Clocky Rolling Alarm Clock. This one I'd heard of before today, and I think it's the original of the awesome alarm clocks. Unlike all the others, this one actually seems somewhat durable and practical. It rolls away beeping when it's time to get up, and it's advertised as being capable of jumping/falling off of a three foot high dresser and surviving to go hide from you. This one combines being both fun and practical, since you do have to get up out of bed to turn it off. Obviously, since it rolls around, it's battery powered, which isn't really my favorite thing, but still, this seems like a great alarm clock! Too bad it doesn't have a radio.


My Alarm Clock

View on Amazon Of course, I don't actually own any of these. Here's the alarm clock I actually own and use. It's about as boringly common as you can get, but it wakes me up, and I trust it more than I trust my frequently malfunctioning cell phone. So, you know, if anyone wants to buy me a more interesting alarm clock, feel free!

Have other awesome alarm clocks? Share in the comments!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Candidacy Essay

Just a quick note to say that I've posted my ELCA candidacy entrance essay online over at my website. Head over there if you're interested in reading it!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Keyboard Shortcut for Add Comment in Word for Mac

I use Microsoft Word's comment feature (Insert menu → Comment) frequently, both when I'm revising other people's work and when I'm working on something of my own and want to come back to it later. Annoyingly, in Word 2008 (the version I'm using) and presumably in Office 2011 as well, there's no keyboard shortcut listed. I finally did some research, and there is indeed a Mac shortcut for inserting a comment!

In Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, the keyboard shortcut to insert a comment is: Command-Option-A (⌘-⌥-A). Why? I have no idea. On Windows, the insert comment shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+M, which makes just as little sense. Hope that helps!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Seminary J-Term Project: Effective Church Websites

Wartburg Seminary in the Snow
An update on what I've been up to recently: Just in case you missed it, I'm now a Master of Divinity student at Wartburg Theological Seminary, located in beautiful and hilly Dubuque, Iowa. The school is basically a castle, as you can see in this picture. I've finished my fall semester, and I'm now a week into January term. For J-Term, I'm doing an independent study on effective church websites.

Since moving to Dubuque, Christin and I have been looking for a church, and as part of that, we looked at a bunch of different church websites. Disappointingly, although perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of really bad church websites out there. Many churches don't even have a website, and some that do don't have what I think should be basic information on them, like what time the services are, how to contact the church, or even what city the church is located in! Of course, many churches do have good, effective websites, and frequently, those are the ones that are growing. So, with my interest in technology and ministry (remember, my Luther College degree is in computer science and religion), I'm working on a J-Term project to study what makes church websites effective.

So far, I've visited every church website in Dubuque (approximately 72!), read several books on the topic, and started a website about my project with a blog and tips for church websites. We'll see where this goes!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fundraising Campaign for He Who Never's New EP

My good friend and ex-roommate, Aaron Rosell, aka He Who Never, is working on a new recording project. The EP, titled "Timing," will be released January, 2013. As he says,

"Since the very beginning, my music has only been possible because of the unbelievable friend base I've had backing me. Because of them, I have entirely avoided the expenses that come with studio time, engineers, producers, equipment, and studio musicians. Here's the kicker: I've never paid them. I've never been able to. And they've never minded."

Now he's looking to raise some money to pay for the project, so check out the EP fundraising campaign here and give him some love!

Update: The fundraising campaign was successful, and the Timing EP is officially out today!

If you haven't heard any of his music before, check it out for free at He Who Never's Bandcamp page.

He Who Never - Timing EP Campaign from He Who Never on Vimeo.