Post Conference Observations

Over the last few months I have been using an app called Life Cycle to track where I go using my phone’s GPS. It gives me an idea of my home-work balance. Last week was a little off as we were getting ready for and running our marriage conference. This is not a bad thing. I’m not complaining, it is part of the ministry life that I have chosen. By the way I had these same weeks when I was in corporate life also. I can say that this is not a regular occurrence.

Over the last three months my average work hours have been at least 20 hours less than this and today I’m writing this post from home on a rest day. I will work less than 40 hours this week. I don’t think a work balance means 40 hours a week every week, you will have long weeks, just make sure you get some short ones also.

Find something that you can monitor your time and keep an eye on it. Life Cycle is not perfect because I do work at home from time to time, but it gives me a good picture and even surprises me occasionally when I thought I was at work more than I actually was.


Desolving the Work Idol

If you know me, then you know that I work a lot; some would say too much.  I don’t know if I agree, but that could be a long post by itself.  There is nothing wrong with working hard or long hours assuming you have found a balance and it works with your family. I think the issue comes in when your work becomes your identity. I can say that I have reached that point many times in my life and I seem to fall into it easily.

It would be easy to blame the job, even more when you have a ministry job.  In my case, it has always been my personal drive. Always trying to do the best I can leads me to getting lost in my work, then my work becomes an idol.

I have to remind myself every day that my identity is in Christ.  My work is to serve Jesus.

Video of Our Apollo Right Arm Test

Test of an Apollo Right Arm from Rick Russell on Vimeo.

I was in the process of testing this moving yoke fixture and I decided to shoot a video from the lift. This is hung on our house center truss with a 14 degree ETC Source 4 ellipsoidal. This was shot on my iPhone 4 from the bucket of a lift about 30 feet in the air.

I would say that overall I like the fixture, other then the speed. About half way though the video I have the fixture pan its limits and it takes about 5 seconds to move 200 degrees. We also found it a bit tricky to balance the fixture on the yoke. If you are in an installed setup you shouldn’t be moving the yoke too much and then this is not be a big issue. This fixture also includes a four pin connector that can be used for powering and controlling accessories such as a scroller or an iris.


In recent months we have been adding a few computers to the audio booth. The latest being the multitrack recording computer. I don’t have enough room to have more than one keyboard and mouse on the desk and really don’t want the confusion of more the one of each. Most of the time you would look for a KVM switcher that will allow you to switch between each machine with one keyboard, mouse and monitor. Not in this case we wanted to be able to have both monitors running all the time.

Synergy is an open source project for Mac, Windows and Linux that allows you to share a mouse and keyboard from one machine with another over the network. In our case we have a PC and a Mac. I made the decision to use the PC keyboard, so that becomes the “server” for Synergy. The setup on Windows is easy, all done through a GUI including setting it to autostart. On the mac you have to do everything from a terminal. It is a little time consuming, but not to difficult to get it working and the documentation on the site was good.

Most of the setup is done on the PC to build what Synergy calls links. The link is a definition of where the mac machine was in relation to the PC. In our case the mac monitor is to the right of the PC monitor. Make sure when you set it up you define the screens using the proper network name of the computers. We decided to name the PC Oscar and the mac Felix, but Oscar saw the name of Felix as it’s full name of Felix.local. After getting that figured out we got everything working.

So far in our testing everything seems to be working. I have tested the option and command keys as well as all the function keys and everything seems to be working. Check out Synergy at

iPhone 3.0

Today Apple gave a sneak peak into the next release of the iPhone software, version 3.0. I have been watching all of the blogs to see what the new features would bring to my favorite portable device. Cut and paste was a nice addition and push notifications will also bring some good new features to applications like Facebook and IM applications.

The iPhone is a great device for some one like me, who spends the majority of my time away from my desk. I might not be traveling around doing sales, but most of my work during the week is preparing for Sunday or repairing equipment in one of the many A/V equipped rooms. Much of the work that I do is driven by requests that I receive over email.

The one feature that nobody seemed to talk about was tasks and task syncing. Not really that surprising being that Apple just added a task support to mail in Leopard. I guess that we have two more releases before we can expect to see it on the iPhone. Thanks to the app store, we have many applications on the iPhone that handle task management, but to my knowledge none of them allow you to create a task from a mail message.

I can’t tell you how many things slip through the cracks because I read an email on my iPhone and I don’t create a task because it is not easy. I say “I will create that task when I get back to my desk.” When I am back at my desk the message is lost in the shuffle. So does 3.0 help me? Only time will tell. Apple did release 1000 new APIs and I can only hope that one of them will enable the application developers to access the emails and let us create action items from emails easily on the iPhone.

Wall Projection

friendslist Recently we have been using a projector and putting images on the baptistery wall. During worship we use it as more as a lighting effect to add some visual effects to the stage. If you do video like we do you know it can be hard to have enough color on the stage after you light every thing with enough light for video.

We also though it would be a good place to show the sermon branding. So here are two short animations I made from the sermon graphics for the wall. This is a great way to keep A.D.D people like me reminded of the sermon series.

Is there such a thing as right place, right time?

Today I got a call from one of the volunteers in the tech ministry. I love hearing from the team and I really like it when I can be of service to them. Most of the time it works the other way with them serving the tech ministry. In case you don’t know, I live in the Houston, TX area and we had a not so fun visit from hurricane Ike last week. This volunteer and her husband operate a school that was hit pretty hard by the storm and they have been working very hard to get it opened back up. The phone rang just as I was sitting down to dinner so I ate quickly and gave her a call back and was very surprised at her request.

I have learned over that past year of working with the volunteers, that there are parts of ministry that I’m not great at and I’m having to step up and do my best and learn from my mistakes. After listening to her voice mail I was assuming that this was gonna be another one of those times. When I called, we chatted for a few and then she asked if I knew anyone that could help her with some networking and phone issues that the school was having. Do I know anybody? I think so, being that was my job up until the beginning of ’08. Was I in the right place at the right time? Yes I was, but is that due to chance? I don’t think so. God put me in right where I need to be to help and He provided a ministry opportunity that was right up my alley. Glad to have the opportunity to serve.

Gutiar Priase

My friend and co-worker Brandon who for some reason likes killing baby seals (strange) posted about a new game coming out in a few weeks called Guitar Praise. Here is a link to Brandon’s post. While I think this is a great idea and I have no problem with christians picking up on a great idea and including God honoring music, they missed the mark as usual for a majority of the gaming market. Unlike Doom, Unreal Tournament, or World of Warcraft, this game is social as much as it is fun to play and would have much great adoption if it was console based and could be used in the living room. I had the same comment about DDR when it came out on PC with christian music. Who wants to play DDR in front of a 17 inch monitor? Usually the home computer is not in the living room with the family like a gaming console is. Sure I can hook my laptop to my TV in the living room, but what a pain when my Xbox is right there.

The price on the game is $99.95 which also seems a little high. I can get Guitar Hero III for the WII with on wireless controller for $69.95 on Amazon. We need games like this, but they have to be competitive with the market to have an impact. Is the creator doing it to make money from the christian community or to honor God and have an positive impact on society like the music they have included intended? Great idea, very poor planning and implementation. If you are thinking of creating a game like this please think about it’s use and go to the extra trouble and license/code it for the consoles so that it can really have a positive impact.

Why do I like Safari so much?

To be honest I don’t have a clue.  Safari is fast, easy to use and well integrated into OS X.  Is it because I’m an Apple fan boy that it continue to use it?  When I first switched to a Mac I was a die hard FireFox user and it was not until Safari 3.1 came out that I got hooked.  But sometimes I just want to kill the thing.  Today, I was doing a little web development and trying to track down an issue that just turned out to be Safari page caching.  What a waist of time!  I jump over to FireFox and didn’t have any issues with page changes.

Safari has one major advantage, spell checking.  I can’t spell rikc (sorry Rick), so spell checking is a must.  Now on FireFox, I used to use the plug-in Spellbound, but it seems to be unmaintained and who wants to install Aspell and a plug-in to get spell checking.  It already comes with Safari and uses the integrated dictionary.  As someone who does some web development, Firebug or something like it is a must.  So having Web Inspector in Safari lead me to thinking I had the perfect browser.  Being that I own an iPhone, I have enjoyed the bookmark syncing as well.

At Sugar Creek we started using a new event management system that only works in FireFox or Internet Exploder (not a spelling error).  Now I’m having to run both browsers.  Not an Apple issue (come on ServiceU get your act together so I can use this in Safari and my iPhone), but just another reason that leaves me on the browser fence.  Safari is so close, just a little more and I will be a committed Safari user. Until then I’ll have to keep dancing between the two browsers.

Stange Thing

I was driving through Austin yesterday and there appears to be a sign on top of the stop lights that face up. To thin to be a solar panel.  Are they for airplanes to see what road they can land on?  Just found it interesting.  If anyone has any insight let me know.