One of the Best Days of my Life...

Where to begin? So much has happened; my life has changed. I guess there's no where better to start than the beginning.

I became addicted to drugs around the age of 21, and continued to use drugs more and more all the way up to The Night. By that I mean the night I walked into a St. Catherine's in Morgan Hill, CA. It was Christmas Eve, my family was all gathered at my sister's in Gilroy for the occasion, and I was sent out to go to the store for some last minute items.

I had never really considered religion before, except to ponder and accept that my children would be Catholic, as their mother was (I had dated two different Catholic girls, one for 3 years, and one for almost 9 years, so I was pretty sure I would marry a Catholic). I had been attending various support groups for some time now (AA, NA, and the like), as well as been in and out of several rehabs, all with varying successes, and failures. I felt helpless and alone.

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.

An App for Every Diocese

I've been working on the Catholic Diocese App (for Android and iPhone) for the past year and a half, and it's my hope that every Catholic diocese or organization that wants an app can have one.

In fact, it's easy enough that even non-developers should be able to help dioceses get up and running on the app in just a few minutes, once they get the hang of the process! I've made this quick demonstration video of how you can customize the App to your diocese or organization's needs in about five minutes:

Basically, all that's involved is:

  1. Downloading the Zip archive of the Catholic Diocese App from GitHub.
  2. Replacing graphics like the App Icon, Default image, and news icon with your own.
  3. Changing a couple strings in Localizable.strings and another file.
  4. Building the app, then submitting it to the App Store.

Customizing the Android version of the app is similar, but requires Eclipse and the Android SDK instead of Xcode.

Catholic Diocese App for iOS/Android powers new Jesuit App

Ever since building Catholic STL, an iOS app for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and then generalizing the code to produce the Catholic Diocese App for iOS, I've wanted to develop a version for Android.

Jesuit App - Locations - iOS    Jesuit App - News - Android

A few months ago, the Jesuit Conference contacted me, and finally gave me the ability to do this. Not only was I able to build the Jesuit App for iOS and Android phones (Android version will be on Google Play soon!), but I was able to generalize the code from the Android version to post the Catholic Diocese App for Android.

I'll be cleaning up some documentation here and there in the coming months, and I invite any other developers interested in helping to do so—all of the source code and documentation is available on GitHub (links below), and you can follow along with the latest news on the project page: Catholic Diocese App.

Vatican Applies for Four gTLDs

Today ICANN release a list of all the generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) that have been applied for since January 12 this year. Among rather oddball names such as .lol, .boo, and .barefoot, the Vatican (yes, the one in Italy) has applied for four domains, all variations of the English word 'Catholic'. The domains are:

  • .catholic
  • .католик
  • .كاثوليك
  • .天主教

Not all of these domains will necessarily be approved, but I think there's a good chance they will be, since the Vatican's the only entity asking for them, and since they're pretty much uncontested words.

The application came with a fee of $185,000/domain—which is no small price—but the benefits of owning a top-level Domain are plenty, and I don't find it unreasonable that the universal Church would spend a half-million to stake some territory on the Internet.

The Vatican has already said the domains would only be allowed for use by actual Catholic dioceses and organizations (you won't be seeing or anything like that!), and, presumably, the Vatican already has resources in place to run its own domain registry service (probably not anything like GoDaddy, I'm sure!).

Catholic Tech Summit at CNMC 2012, Aug 29

CNMC 2012 Banner

Just wanted to post information about the Tech Summit that will be held on August 29 at the 2012 Catholic New Media Celebration. The CNMC will be held in Dallas/Fort Worth, and I'll be there along with a bunch of other Catholic web and app developers, talking about new apps and development, API integration, and the future of tech in the Church.

I'm hoping you'll come too!

All the pertinent info about the Tech Summit can be found here, and you can register for the conference today! Come and contribute to our discussions about things like the open-source Catholic Diocese app, next-generation Catholic APIs and data sharing, and how we can work together to advance the Church's use of technology, most especially on the web and on mobile devices.

Archdiocese of St. Louis' Eucharistic Congress Website

One of the last major projects I was privileged to work on (along with some other awesome colleagues) while I was working as the Director of Web Development for the Archdiocese of St. Louis (see 'A New Job' on my blog for more info) was the Eucharistic Congress website and video.

One of the major benefits of using a robust content management system like Drupal (which uses) is that you can actually build 'special sites' that highlight certain events or causes without building an entirely separate website. For example: Every organization in the Archdiocese has it's own website, with its own content managers, its own forms, news pages, articles, etc. through the use of Drupal's 'Organic Groups' module.

For the 2011 Eucharist Congress, instead of building a separate website, and then linking back to the Archdiocesan website, we built a single page template for the Congress home page (using a standard Drupal template (.tpl.php) file), and then set up all the rest of the content (a registration form, some information pages, etc.) in Drupal.

The results are pretty impressive (you have to visit the site to see the jQuery-enabled page load effects, which look great on any device—no Flash here!):

Catholic News Live - Simple iPhone App for Catholic News

About a week after completing work on the first release of the Archdiocese of St. Louis' "Catholic STL" app, I decided to spend a few nights and weekends working on a more personal project...

A few months ago, I was browsing the App Store, looking for a simple Catholic news app where I could quickly browse through the latest Catholic news from a relatively comprehensive array of sources. Seeing none, and realizing that my experimental 'Catholic News Live' website already had the data I needed to build my own app, I decided to port some of the code from Catholic STL, and write my own app—Catholic News Live, or CNL for short.

Catholic News Live App Icon

New Twitter Hashtag for Catholic Media, Social Media

#cathmedia - for catholic (social) media

There's a new Twitter hashtag around these parts, for social media use. This hashtag came about as a response to those who were wondering where to move after the bulk of the #cnmc (Catholic New Media Celebration) tweets were becoming less and less about the Celebration, and more and more about general Catholic social media practices and discussion.

Therefore, a general consensus was made that #cathmedia would be a good hashtag for Tweets having to do with Catholic media, and social media initiatives.

Some other hashtags I've used:

From the Catholic Media Conference (in LA)

It looks like @iJimCoyle is tweeting from the Catholic Media Conference in Louisiana this week. Found today on his Twitter stream:

New Media & New Evangelization: 5 Ways to Make a Difference (from Sr Rose Pacatte FSP)

  1. Become mindful media consumers by watching (doing) media together and talking about what you experience.
  2. Use (mainstream) media in your teaching.
  3. Become a media producer & encourage students & people w/ whom you share faith to "make media."
  4. Make media the subject of evangelization, preaching, and catechesis.
  5. Become proactive advocate for media productions that reflect Catholic social teaching because these are human, humane, & Gospel themes.

Sounds great... but where is the significance for 'new media?' At a time when our news media is bleeding like never before, hurting for money and looking to find a solid path for working online in the midst of the traditional web, Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook, etc., we need to be more specific in our goals for new media use in the Church, especially by Catholic publications.


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