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Created a new App for my kids

On May 3, 2013, myself and three others, launched a new app into the world of iOS. We have been working on this app for what seems like forever. This app crosses over into my personal life, as well as business.

Two years ago, my wife and I were trying to teach our kids a little more about the rich history the church has with Saints. Some of the more famous ones come to mind: St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. Christopher, things from my childhood, typical Catholic Saints. Together we couldn't remember much. Since both of us are practicing Catholics, we wanted to share this with our kids. The trouble was, there just wasn't much out there that we found useful for our 3-7 year olds, that wasn't too graphic, too long, or very 'modern'. It was also spread out all over the place, and wasn't easy to keep coming back to. We wanted something handy, something that our kids could play with.

I started out by trying to learn xcode, but by the time I learned enough to get about half way into the design of the app, the OS was updated. I wasn't familiar with Objective C at all, so it was a bit of stretch. After three frustrating attempts, I decided I wanted the App to come out before, phones went away, and we were all wearing watches or glass. 

I turned to hire a developer to help me out, and things finally started to move forward. A long story short we had launched this past Friday. The next project I am aiming is to pick up the code for the Diocese App of opensourcecatholic and bring it into a couple of my web projects.

#ThanksPontifex - a Twitter Storm to Thank the Pope

I wanted to thank the Pope as he retired but I didn't know how. I happen to work with youth ministry, so I also wanted a way for teens to get involved. Then this idea came to me, why don't we create a Twitter storm of thank-you messages. If we got enough, our tag would appear on "Trending" for all users on twitter even non-Catholics.

I mentioned it to a few who have more followers than I on twitter and got a positive response. So now I would like to invite you to participate with the tag #ThanksPontifex.

We want to have messages being posted all day on the 27th and 28th to trend. Then at the moment the Pope retires (7:45-8:15pm Rome time on the 28th) we want to try and occupy multiple of the top 10 trending worldwide spots. Once #ThanksPontifex tops the list, we can add in #PontifexThanks, #PontifexThanks, #TYBenedictXVI, and #ThanksBenedictXVI in that order.

Many tweets are good with @Pontifex at the beginning. I think it is best if everyone personalizes it a bit after adding the one tag - then I think the tag will trend better. (Nobody knows the secret formula to determine trending on Twitter.)

I have a bunch of model tweets and programs to schedule tweets at a more in depth post on my own blog.

I'll add you to the list if you tweet to me @22Catholic.

2013 World Communications Day: Social Networks

Pope Benedict XVI released his message for this year's World Communications Day (which will be May 12th), with the theme Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization.

...At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own....

Read the whole thing here: Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 47th World Communications Day.

Hat tip to Whispers in the Loggia.

The Pope's first tweet (@pontifex)

As seen on Whispers...

A couple interesting notes:

  • The Pope seems to have not actually triggered the tweet, as he pushed up on the screen, registering a scroll rather than a tweet. Oh well.
  • The Pope is using TweetDeck, but used Twitter for iPad for the first tweet.
  • The iPad nearly tumbled when the assistants confusedly picked it up and popped the smart cover off!
  • It didn't seem the entire event (the placement of the iPad, the actual tweeting, and the arrangement of people around the Pope) was that well rehearsed, but it did elicit some cheers from the crowd.

The takeaway is that the Pope is on Twitter now. We'll see how well the Vatican's social media gurus handle the @pontifex account. It could be a really good channel for connecting with many in society who spend more time communicating online than in the flesh!

The Pope, on Twitter

Apparently, on December 3, the Holy See Press Office will hold a press conference announcing the Pope's official entry into the Twitterverse. From the Vatican Information Service:

Vatican City, 29 November 2012 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will be present on Twitter. All related information will be reported on Monday 3 December at a press conference to be held in the Holy See Press Office, with the participation of Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the same dicastery, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, Professor Gian Maria Vian, editor of “L'Osservatore Romano”, and Greg Burke, Media Advisor to the Secretariat of State.

The Pope has already used the 140 character “tweet” format when, in June 2011, he launched the Vatican information portal www.news.va., with the words: “Dear friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI”.

2013 World Communications Day Theme: Social Networks

The theme for the 2013 World Communications Day has been announced: Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization.

In particular, we need to be attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of the social networks, which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships.

Read the press release here: World Communications Day 2013 [pccs.va].

(The Pope will release his message for World Communications Day on January 24, the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales).

Hat tip to Whispers in the Loggia.

A Faster Drupal—a Faster Web

I just sent a new note to the Flocknote Development list about making Flocknote speedier. Flocknote is a very complex web application, and at the beginning of this summer, I noticed that some pages were taking more than a second to generate on our server (that's before the page would be sent to the end user!).

Investigating the performance problems using MySQL's EXPLAIN, the PHP profiler XHProf, and Drupal's Devel module, I found the culprits to be some inefficient and memory-hungry caches and some inefficient database queries. Applying a couple patches that are in development for Drupal, and adding a couple indexes on different tables more than halved average page load time.

I also am actively trying to get these patches accepted into Drupal core and the Views module. Once the patches are incorporated, millions of other Drupal websites and applications will be able to conserve memory and clock cycles as well. You could easily substitute 'Wordpress', 'Joomla', 'DotNetNuke', or any other CMS or platform for 'Drupal' here.

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