Feed My Starving Children

This week, my wife Debby caught a whopper of a cold.  As a result, she asked me if I would cover her volunteer assignment at church taking middle school kids on a service project.  I was happy to help her out, but I would be lying if I said I would have rather been doing my own thing.  Visions of watching the Twins game in my recliner were more my speed after a long week at work.  My attitude wasn’t great, but being the good soldier I drove the kids to the packing site of Feed My Starving Children in Eagan, MN.

Feed My Starving Children
Feed My Starving Children

When I arrived, I started to understand what was really going on.  This was a site that was creating nutritionally balanced meals for children who are beyond hungry — they are starving and will die in large numbers.  My attitude changed immediately.

So, the team went to work for a 90 minute shift of packing these meals.  Soy, rice, chicken and veggies are put into a pouch.  It was a high energy experience that went very quickly.  We got into a rhythm (because of the load, upbeat music) and my table managed to pack 10 boxes during our time.  My job was to seal the packages with this machine that heated and pressed tight the end of the bag.

I think the part of the evening I liked the most was at the end when the supervisor announced the tally of the large team effort.  Overall, 52 boxes were filled, which translated to the feeding of 31 children in Guatamala for one year.  Wow.  I am looking forward to my next trip, which I hope will be soon.  I would think this would be an excellent team-building event.  Note to my team:  this may be coming soon!

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iPad: My First Week

Apple iPad

I was one of the 50,000 who got in on the first pre-order from Apple for my iPad.  I bought the 64 GB model.  I was very excited when it arrived, so I immediately opened it and started playing with it.  I found it very easy to setup and run, but that’s not a surprise after I don’t know how many iPods I have bought and setup for myself and my family.

Let’s get the criticism out of the way at this point.  Here are the key things I see as deficiencies with the current version of the iPad, in no particular order:

  • No camera
  • No USB port
  • Screen gets dirty very easily (easy solution:  3M Electronics Cleaning Cloth — works great!)
  • Glare in bright rooms has been problematic
  • Ability to multi-task applications
  • Limited number of applications in the early days — was surprised that some key apps did not have an iPad version (e.g. Facebook)
  • Maybe a little heavy for its size?
  • I know the 3G version is coming, but do I really need to pay for internet access (data plan) a third time?

There’s a bunch of reasons to love this device, however.  The 1 gHz processor is plenty snappy, especially compared with my 1st generation iPhone.  The applications optimized for iPad, such as iBooks and YouTube, really work well.  I also am enjoying the USA Today on the iPad.  It feels almost like I am reading the paper.  The best use I came up with so far is to share YouTube videos with a colleague during an impromptu meeting.  No searching for the cord to connect to a projector or using crappy laptop sound.  Using my clever protective case (from Apple) and the speakers in the iPad, I quickly started and ran a video with no disruption to the flow of the meeting.  This is very good.

My next steps are to continue to walk around and use this as a productivity tool.  I intend to buy at least some of the iWork tools offered.  Inside the corporate firewall, we may have a printing and file sharing solution.  More on that later.  I am also awaiting a VGA adaptor, which will allow me to connect to a projector.  That will make for some interesting demonstrations, to be sure.

All in all, I would characterize myself as one who likes this technology, however, I am not a raging fan.  This is a very solid first release, true to Apple’s form.  If I were going to buy this myself for personal use, I can’t say with absolute certainty that I would make the investment.  I think it’s too early to tell how this tablet computing market will play out.  But while we wait, I will enjoy downloading more applications to my iPad and get as much out of it as I can.

There’s An App For That: Easter

Happy Easter!  At our church, it was announced on Good Friday that the congregation should bring bells to Easter worship.  When “Alleluia!” was spoken or sung, the congregation was to ring these bells to celebrate the Resurrection. 

Hand Bell Application from iTunes
Hand Bell Application from iTunes

Being the techo-geek that I am, the first thing that went through my head was, “there’s got to be an app for that!”  So, my wife Debby took my phone when we got to the car and sure enough we found one.  In fact, we found several.  We went with the “Hand Bell” application, and I am proud to say my 8-year old son used it proudly on every “Alleluia” this morning!  It was fun!

More proof that there is an app for everything.  Bring on the iPad!