Online Learning Sites

One of the benefits that can be appreciated about the world wide web is that it has provided to people is the ability to access information from wherever you are. While often there isn’t a replacement for learning something in person, online learning has its benefits. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where the best place to go. A few of the sites that provide a range of excellent instructional resources are:

  • TED: videos of presentations by people on a wide range of topics exploring new ideas. i.e. Teach arts and sciences together
  • Khan Academy provides free lessons on math, arts and sciences and includes content from partnered institutions.
  • is a subscription based service that provides a wealth including computer, business and photography video based courses and also some documentaries. i.e. Photos for macOS High Sierra Essential Training
  • iTunes U on iPad: Made to be used by classrooms there are courses from schools and universities that are available to be accessed free by anyone that has the app. Apple made some changes last year where it moved from a category in iTunes into the iPad app. There is still a section in iTunes for what Apple calls “Collections” while moving the main courses to the iPad app. After the change I looked at the iPad app and found it very well made in terms of organizing the information, ability to download content and adding your own notes. It would be good to see Apple make the app available on the Mac as well. i.e. Designing Interactive Systems WS 17/18” by RWTH Aachen University

A fix for low contrast sites in Safari

Many websites still provide low contrast for text, even though it can make it difficult to read. One solution in Safari is by creating a CSS file that the browser can use in addition to the designer’s and then specify in Safari’s preferences.

  1. Create a blank file. This is best done in a plain text editor, such as BBEdit or TextWrangler. If using another program make sure the file is saved in plain text.
  2. Type the following line in the file to provide black text on a white background.
    p, ul, ol, li { background-color: #fff; color: #000; !important; }
  3. Save the file on your computer in plain text format with a name such as “override.css”.
  4. Within the “Advanced” pane of Safari’s preferences select the option “Style Sheet” and then “Other…” from the menu to locate your file.
  5. Choose “None Selected” to remove the changes at any time.

Note the stylesheet won’t change all of the text, but should affect the main content. If you know some basic CSS you can adjust it to work best for you and use when needed.

For web designers

If you are a web designer, please consider your visitors and remember that there are factors beyond just making your website look nice. Even if high profile companies like Apple have this issue doesn’t mean it should be followed.

Recently I changed the theme for this blog with the above in mind. A new theme also provided for a current and responsive theme suitable for mobile devices.

Apple releases Safari 5

In addition to the big news of iPhone 4 and iOS 4 Apple also released a new version of Safari. Added to Safari are some of the new HTML5 elements and improved performance. Another addition is an official extensions capability to Safari. One of the most interesting features that has been added to Safari is what Apple calls “Safari Reader”. When Safari finds an article in a webpage and you select “Reader” from the menu Safari will pull the main content into a window, without adds and other items that may distract from reading. This is similar to when sites create a simpler “print” view.

To see some of the HTML5 capabilities in action check the  HTML5 web pages Apple posted last week.

Windows PCs in the Ministry Book Review

Author: Steve Hewitt

Review by David Voth

Windows PCs in the Ministry is one of two books that I recently bought and read from the new Nelson’s Tech Guides series. The other book I read was Macs in the Ministry.

The book begins with a chapter with presenting the connection between using technology and ministry for discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, worship and service. The rest of the book looks at topics such as worship presentation software, websites and social media, Bible software and making use of audio and video podcasts for ministry.

The book is presented in a way that emphasizes the fact that we are living in a “personal communication age” as Steve Hewitt calls it. He also encourages the use of technology for evangelism, such as creating websites that will be inviting to people.

The book has a lot of information regarding the internet and social media and so this will be useful to people whether you have a PC or a Mac. Information and discussion regarding tools, such as using Facebook and MySpace in a safe manner are presented. There is also an extensive chapter on websites for churches, some of the purposes you might use it for and services available for creating them, both programs for churches as well as a couple free content management system options.

The book is challenging in its approach to churches that they be aware and make use of the new means of communication that people have available to them. Though sometimes I think he overemphasizes the importance of technology and its role in the church as a solution to problems.

This book will be of interest to church leaders that are needing to find out more information about what some of the possibilities are available with today’s technology and for Christians with technical skills and how they can make use of them.

Macs in the Ministry Book Review

Author: David Lang

Review by David Voth

The following is one of two books I bought and read recently. The other one is called Windows PCs in the Ministry. These books are part of the new Nelson’s Tech Guides series.

The book Macs in the Ministry is a book that discusses how to make use of Mac computers within the church as a means to support and enhance one’s ministry. The book is divided into two sections:

  • Part 1: Inspiration
  • Part 2: Perspiration

The first section covers different ways that computers can be made use of within the church, such as:

  • Bible study
  • presentation of music and sermons
  • creating websites and using other internet services
  • creating teaching guides, cards and calendars.

The second section is more practical in that it takes the first section and goes through the steps that one would go through. While some other applications are mentioned the focus is doing the steps making use of software that many people already have, namely iLife and iWork. A separate DVD is included with what you need, such as the images for creating the sample projects.
Some of the strengths of this book are

  • It maintains a focus on people and noting the importance of family and the work of the Holy Spirit within ministry.
  • It uses programs like iLife and the DVD for the projects means that anyone with a Mac can work through the projects outlined in the book and will make this book helpful to new Mac users.
  • Examples of what has been done by others are provided in the book as well as providing a list of other places to find help for Macs.

This book I would say is primarily written with pastors and Bible teachers in mind. However, I would also say that there is plenty here for any Christian that wants to make the most of their Mac in a creative way.