Registration Open For The Interactive Church Conference

Registration is open for the next Geeks and God Conference called the Interactive Church Conference. After the success of the previous Geeks and God conference we decided to continue having these conferences. The Interactive Church Conference is going to focus on web based technologies and their uses in the local church.

The Interactive Church Conference is different than your average church conference. This conference is designed for your average non-technology centered church leader and for your web savvy church tech worker or volunteer. For the non-tech church leadership there will be sessions led by Bob Christenson, of Mustardseed Media, and myself. These sessions will walk through Internet usage in our culture and how the church can be a presence in that form of communication. For the web savvy attenders (geeks) there will be an unconference where the attenders submit sessions and will lead the different talks. If you think this is unconventional you would be wrong. Many of the top technology conferences follow and unconference format.

Our goal is to bring together the technology savvy church members and church leadership. To help with that, if a leader and a geek sign up together the geek ticket is FREE. That's right, I said FREE.

As a bonus, if you sign up before February 1 you'll get a free Mustardseed Media t-shirt.

The conference will be happening February 27-28 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Tickets are only $149.

For more details or to sign up for the conference head over to


Free Mission Websites

Last week the Geeks and God Community launched a new endeavor to directly help missionaries. The project is called Free Mission Websites and does exactly what the name implies. The goal is to connect members of the Geeks and God community with Missionaries to build them free websites to help meet their goals.

This project is the brain child of Bob Christenson (a.k.a. Rob Feature) and Micah Webner (a G&G Moderator and active member of the community). They will be leading up this effort to directly use the skills of the church to help the church at large.

If you are interested in giving a helping hand to the effort or you are a missionary who needs a website head over to and get involved.

New Look Geeks and

The new look is here. After several weeks of redesign and dealing with design debt, that was built up from drupal 4.7, the new site is live and running drupal 6.

The image below is what the screen would look like for a logged in user. There are 4 blocks at the bottom giving a snapshot of what's going on in the community. Anonymous users see a slightly different look where the podcast is front and center and the blocks at the bottom are replaced with information about the site.

Some of the new features include reviews, tutorials, JavaScript goodness, and we imported thousands of forum posts and hundreds of users from

At this point I won't dive into the details of how we built the site. The next podcast episode is going to dive into the technicalities.


The new G&G website was created by Innovating Tomorrow and Mustardseed Media.

Rebuilding The Geeks and God Website

If you visit the Geeks and God website this image is what you will see rather than the thriving community.

Last month we took a break from recording podcast episodes to put some much needed work into the website. We have now hit the point where we needed to take the website offline to get much of the real work done. This isn't typical of websites we build and it's not typical of drupal websites.

Design Debt

The Geeks and God website was initially build on drupal 4.7. The podcast episodes were page nodes and we used a program to generate our feeds. Eventually we moved to feedburner to replace our desktop app. A short time after that we moved to the audio module for new episodes.

This is just a small picture of the design debt we have going on. There is a lot of cleanup work and that's the stage we are at now. To do the cleanup we have left we needed to take the site offline.

New Design

Along with cleaning up the mess we created over the years we have a new design. The wire frames are in good shape, the functionality is layed out, and the design is moving along.

For anyone wondering, this means we are actually using this break to update the site in a way to make it more useful for geeks and non-geeks.

In our first episode back we'll cover the ins and outs of the new design and the new features. Stay tuned for more details.


Today is Blog Action Day and this years topic is Poverty. Poverty is a problem that affects millions of people in the United States and billions of people world wide. That's right, billions. If you have never started in the face of someone in poverty or herd some in poverty's story it can be an easy thing to dismiss. Especially for those who like in U.S. middle class suburbia where the issue is usually out of sight and out of mind. But, there is something each and every one of us can do to help people in poverty. As a Christian I see this not as something I can do but as something I'm called to do. Let's take a look at a few simple things we can do.

World Relief Organizations

There are more than a few world relief organizations, like Lutheran World Relief. Organizations like this offer opportunities to by fair trade products (like coffee) to put more money in the hands of people who do the work while we still get out products. Or, they offer opportunities to use our skills to make things for people in need (like blankets). And, they offer opportunities to give money to help in aid.

Play Online Games

Bet you didn't see this one coming. An example of this is the Free Rice Game. While you play this game advertisements are displayed. The proceeds from the advertising money is used to buy rice for hungry people around the world.

Adopt A Kid

There are a number of places like Compassion International where you can sponsor a child and help them for less than most smokers spend in a week. It's a simple way to help someone less fortunate than us Internet junkies.

This is my short list of easy ways we can start to help people in poverty. Any suggestions for other easy ways to help people?

Web Design Shirts

webdesignshirts-nun.jpgLooking for a fun web development shirt? How about a shirt only your CSS and jQuery reading friends will understand? If so, check out the new shirts site This site came about because Bob Christenson discovered the domain wasn't taken and thought the domain was too good of a name to pass up. Two days later a site had been launched and 16 different designs were up.

Drupal fans will see there are more drupal shirts than any other type and the site was built with drupal.

Content You Don't Want To Be Popular

resurgence-page-not-foundResurgence, a ministry of Mars Hill Church built on drupal, had a bad piece of content in their popular content for the day. That would be their Page Not Found page. The landing page you hit when you went to a page on the site that doesn't exist. This page is by no means popular. In fact, this page may be the most unpopular and annoying page on the site. But, it shows us a great opportunity to look at a design flaw.

Note: While I don't know what algorithm they use to calculate the popularity of a page I'm going to assume it's based on page views. This is a common approach to calculating popularity, it's easy to implement, and it best explains how an error page became popular content.

The Algorithm

In reality there are at least 2 design flaws that are involved in an error page becoming popular. First, there is the algorithm that calculates popularity. How should that be counted? A simple assessment is the number of page views. But, this does not make content popular. It means it was viewed many times. One or a few people could have viewed it many times and tipped the scales. This is most likely the cause on the Resurgence website. I imagine a spam bot came through looking for a bunch of pages that don't exist triggering the Page Not Found page to become popular.

A better way to calculate popularity of content would be to take a number of characteristics (e.g., page views, unique visitors, some rating, number of comments, number of unique commenters) and use them to calculate the popularity. Also, remove your error pages from the available popularity options.

How Did It Get There?

The second, and less noticeable, design flaw is that in the sites architecture a person or robot was going to pages that don't exist. Where they pages that used to exist but are now gone? If so, a Page Not Found error is not what they should have seen. Especially one with no description like this one has. Instead an error message letting them know content is gone or moved and some information to help them find what they are looking for.


Free Drupal Theming Workshop

Want to learn how to build a drupal 6 theme start to finish from scratch in one day? That's the goal of a free drupal theming workshop coming up on October 11th being held just outside of Detroit, Michigan, USA at St. Matthew Lutheran Church. The workshop is being led by Bob Christenson of Mustardseed Media Inc and the Mustardseed Media Video Podcast, a videocast covering drupal development.

Click here for workshop specifics or to sign up for the workshop.

Mustardseed Media Video Podcast

mustardseed_media_videopodcasticon.jpgMustardseed Media, a company Innovating Tomorrow regularly partners with, recently launched a video podcast about web development focusing in on drupal development. This video podcast is unique compared to the ones I typically see in that it comes out regularly and offers low res and 720p HD resolution videos of each videocast. Plus, it has what might be the best introduction to any of the drupal videocasts I've seen so far.

These episodes don't focus on advanced development. Instead they cover the basic concepts and how tos new developers are asking and looking for.

Some of the recent episodes have focused on Imagefield and Imagecache, the Views Rotator module, module theming, podcasting With drupal 6, and Photoshop reflections.

If you're looking for some short and sweet drupal tutorial videos check out the Mustartseed Media Video Podcast.

Why To Implement Design for Accessibility

web-accessibility.jpgHave you ever wondered who benefits from creating an accessible design? One that meets the needs of people who have impairments like the vision impaired. When I think of people in this situation I usually envision someone who is blind and can't think of many blind people. This can give way to the feeling that there aren't that many people with impairments and on the basis of this it's easy to make designing an accessible site a low priority.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are up to 60 million Americans with disabilities that are trying to use a computer to learn and interact on the web. If you do that math that's roughly 20% of the U.S. population. Yet, awareness of this issue seems to be fairly low and many designers are building sites and web applications that aren't usable to this 20%.

Are you still having trouble envisioning who this 20% is? Let's look at one large group. Consider everyone with color blindness. In the U.S. about 7% of men are color blind. In Australia the number is 8% of men. These men, not only have trouble picking out matching clothes but, have trouble reading parts of the screen where different colors point out different things. Take for example a set of links in a blog post. Color them a different color from the rest of the text and remove the underlining (a commonly used technique). Someone without any vision issues can see them fine. Someone with color blindness is likely to miss the link denoted by a different coloring. And there you have an inaccessible design.

So, next time you create a new design or update an existing design consider making it an accessible design. There are a lot more people out there with accessibility issues that you might think.