Helping Heavy Powerpoint Files Travel Light

Files sizes can quickly get out of control in Powerpoint files, especially when high-quality images and logos are included.

The file size of documents we simply present on a screen is seldom an issue; however if you plan to send, or post, heavily-branded files there is a cost with respect to email bottlenecks and memory limitations on handheld devices.

So it’s important to understand how to optimize the way your images are stored in Powerpoint, and take advantage of the built-in tools to compress the ‘heavy’ images so they travel well.

You’ll want to test several different levels of compression, to see the impact on quality (smaller file = lower-quality images). But a file intended to be shown only on a screen does not have to be built with the same resolution as a file being sent to a professional printer for magazine-quality output.

microsoftpowerpointcompressmenuSo, there are two things you need to understand about images stored in Powerpoint:

  1. When you crop an image, the ‘hidden’ parts are still stored in the file.
  2. When you resize an image, the original data that makes up that image is not changed (or reduced).

When you understand these two ideas, the two ways to making the file smaller begin to make a lot of sense. What we want to do is:

  1. Throw away the portions of images we have ‘cropped’ off; why store what we aren’t using?
  2. Store images only at the resolution they need to be at, to display at the desired quality. So, an image that was originally 300dpi, then shrunk in dimensions in Powerpoint, is likely carrying a lot more data than is necessary for your intended audience.

So, how much do we throw away? That depends on the destination of the file. Powerpoint provides several levels of compression: 96dpi, 150dpi, 220dpi, 330dpi, and a fifth option that does not alter the compression — but only throws away those cropped portions of images you didn’t want to see anyway.

Here are Microsoft’s instructions for picture compression in Powerpoint:

“Reduce the file size of a picture” (

Before you do this to all of your presentations, it is recommended that you make a backup of the original file — because once you use this feature, your images will not include cropped portions, or be at their original resolutions any more; so if you intend to make drastic edits to your design, you’ll probably want an uncompressed, full-resolution version to work from.

Kustom PA-50 or Powerwerks PW-50 Tiny, Roadworthy, Active Cabinets

pa50bothsidesnowI don’t understand why retailers don’t do a better job at explaining what these are. Yes, they are self-powered cabinets with a built-in mixer, and they are easy to transport. But there are a couple of features that make them much more useful than most other devices competing in this space.

FIRST, there is an ‘in’ and an ‘out’ (master bus) XLR connection that lets you DAISY-CHAIN a bunch of these. So, starting small, let’s say you buy one and you can plug in a laptop and two microphones. You buy a second in a few months and daisy-chain them together… now you can plug four mics in and have two 1/8″ stereo jacks for sources like laptops, MP3 players, CD players, etc. Note here that any source you plug into one of these devices is equally available on all of them… no outboard mixer needed!

So, imagining that you can get that much flexibility out of two of these devices, think what happens when, in a couple of years, you decide you want to expand — but you don’t want to start over and leave equipment unused in a closet. Just buy two more… daisy-chain all four for a mono production (or daisy-chain two on the right, two on the left) — now you’re up to 8 mic inputs, etc. (got a digital piano or a direct box for your guitar?… all in a setup that still fits in the trunk of a hatchback (no more ugly vans for musicians!). You could daisy chain 6 of these to a side, if you wanted, and cover a lot of territory in a lot of different shapes of venues.

Here’s the thing… every musician, every player, every vocalist, needs their own ‘little rig’ — this is it, because each person can buy one for themselves and when you all gather, your equipment ‘just works’ together to embiggen your sound for that dive bar, that ballet performance, that karaoke party, that high school talent show.

My daughter has one that she uses with her semi-acoustic guitar; my son uses one to watch Netflix — when everybody gets together for a party, we string XLR around the perimeter of the room(s) and flood the place with clear, even sound.

kustompa50busandsubSECOND, there is a bass output with a built-in crossover. So imagine again that you start with a smaller setup (two of these is enough for an indoor show with 100 in the audience), and want to add more bottom end for louder productions… plugging in a 1/4″ instrument cable at this port engages a built-in crossover, effectively cutting the bottom third off the sound the PA-50s emit… and sending that low-frequency sound to whatever you plug in at the other end… bass amp, subwoofer, guitar amp, etc. In many cases, just separating the bottom third from the ‘work load’ that the PA-50 carries make them operate so much more efficiently that you’ll find you’ve about doubled the level of CLEAN audio you get to fill the room.

We used a PA-50 on each side of the stage at my kids’ high school talent shows (over several years), sending the bass out to a couple of guitar amps that were laying around, and covered a room with seating for 300 people with headroom to spare. That means I was able to fit an entire stage worth of PA equipment (plus my digital piano) in the trunk of a Buick.

These two features mean SCALABILITY… start small, spend small… grow big, still spend small… interested yet?

LINK: Kustom PA PA50 Personal PA System (
LINK: Kustom PA PA50 Personal PA System (

Adulting at a Traffic Stop

This is what I was taught before I was even old enough to drive… and today I see people think that think this situation is where they prove their manhood by arguing with the cop that’s pulled them over.

Please, put away the testosterone and do something smart for the 15 minutes that you and the officer are interacting. You can amp it back up and tell your buddies how you told him what-for LATER… but for THIS 15 MINUTES, be the smart guy. Be the polite guy.

Traffic stops are not the time for pissing contests.

Too many accidents can happen; the person in uniform is having to worry about you AND not being hit by a passing car — so go OUT OF YOUR WAY to make it easier than it has to be. That’s being a adult. #NoMoreDeaths

Ham Radio Operator Licensing with Baofeng (cheap) Radios

The inexpensive analog Baofeng radios, made in China, and coming with a you-get-what-you-pay-for reputation, are at least reliable enough to justify owning one (or several), to stow in various places for emergencies (glove box, trunk, Get-Home-Bag, office desk drawer) — or to use as your daily rig until you maybe upgrade to a more expensive radio capable of digital.

I have a Baofeng UV-5RA and a smaller (without a built-in keypad) Baofeng UV-3R (which slides into a pocket, which is a good thing since the belt clip broke immediately upon unboxing).

I’ve added an extra-capacity battery for the ‘5’, and programming cables for both radios. All told, for two radios and accessories, I’ve popped for just over $100 of ham radio fun. Compare that to when I was a teenager (30 years ago), and my father spend more than $400 for one radio (‘HT’, hamspeak for ‘handy-talkie’, or what non-hams refer to as a ‘walkie-talkie’). Time is kind to technophiles; or at least to their wallets.

There is software that comes with these radios; but it isn’t very respectable compared to another application that is available as open source, which I highly recommend, called ‘CHIRP’. It can be found, with instructions, here:

The software is easy to use; the harder part will likely be getting the driver software for your programming cable (goes in your USB port). Some tips can be found here, though if you still have trouble past this you may have to rely on Googling up information about your particular cable, in conjuction with the search term ‘baofeng’:

The driver that finally worked for me (I tried several) was this one, because the chipset in my programming cable is the Prolific variety:

I used the CHIRP software to make queries against online resources that already know what repeaters are in my area (by choosing, by county, which areas I care about). So now I have a file, called ‘CentralINandPurdue.img’ that includes all the repeaters in Marion County, and all surrounding counties. And since I have someone asking me who will be going back to school at Purdue next fall, I also included Tippecanoe County (and surrounding counties).

Get the file here: CentralINandPurdue.img

If you get CHIRP installed, and the correct driver for your programming cable, you can upload the file I created to add these channels to your radio without a lot of manual labor on your radio’s keypad.

Once you import this file into your radio, you may notice a lot of noise on channels you don’t want distracting you every time it scans up the channel list. There are two ways to deal with this… one is to delete that channel in CHIRP, another is to tell your radio to ‘skip’ that channel when scanning, which is already done for you on the NOAA channels in this file — just look for the ‘S’ in those rows, and you will see where you can do the same thing for other channels that you want to pass over.

Ham Radio Operator Training/Tutorial Resources (Technician Class License):
AA9PW FCC Exam Practice (
Ham Technician STUDY Playlist (

Further Reading:
Program a Baofeng Radio with CHIRP (
Tips on How to Best Configure and Use Your Baofeng UV-5R (
Guide to Using the Baofeng UV-5R (
Baofeng UV5R Menus (
Baofeng UV Squelch FAQ (
Program your VHF/UHF Transceivers for Disaster Preparedness (
How to Set Up a Ham Radio (1) (
How to Set Up a Ham Radio (2) (
2014 No-Nonsense Tech Study Guide v2.0 (

So You Have A New PC…

[I repost something like this, it seems, about every time Black Friday rolls around… hopefully it will answer some questions if this is new territory for you…  -ed]


If you’re asking what software to add to a newly-acquired computer, the first advice I would give you is not to add anything at all… until you need it.  Most users clutter up their computers with a lot of software that they never end up using; and the end result is a tangled, poorly-performing machine.  The best-practice rule is to only add those things that you need… when you need them.  That said, the following list shows software that I personally recommend for most users — and why I chose them for myself:


Google Chrome

Because the web browser that comes with Microsoft Windows is a favorite target of hackers, information thieves, and virus authors, I recommend choosing (and setting as your default) an alternate web browser.  Google’s Chrome is among the top 5 and is available for multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux).  Additionally, choosing Chrome makes several other software options (listed below) work easier…

Apple iTunes

While there are several very well-designed tools for managing media files (music, movies, etc.), iTunes is the current favorite for both MacOS and Windows users — and not just for users of Apple’s iOS devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad).  Just know that using iTunes doesn’t mean that you can only purchase music and movies through Apple iTunes Store — you can simply use it as a (free!) place to organize your files, no matter where they come from.  And, if you also happen to have an iOS device, it’s nearly a requirement for keeping your PC and portable device in sync…

AVG Antivirus Free

New PCs usually come with some brand of antivirus tool preinstalled — and with a 12-month subscription that is no longer free when that first year is over.  While there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of those first 12 months of free protection, if you don’t want to hand over your credit card when it expires, I have had good success with AVG Antivirus Free.  Just be sure to remove the older antivirus program you are replacing — having two different programs attempting to do the same job can drastically slow down your computer.

VLC Media Player

Your PC may already have a tool provided for playing movie files in several formats — but eventually, someone is going to give you a file that is in an odd format you can’t open.  The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of video players is VLC — it plays almost every format in existence.


What VLC does for video, Audacity does for audio files — and you may not have a need for something that opens dozens of different audio formats; but it also allows you to edit (crop, alter, concatenate) sounds to better fit your purposes.  I use it to create short ringtones from longer sounds I find on the internet, or in my iTunes.


Windows comes with a simple image editor that might be enough for many users — and professional use Adobe Photoshop, which is a very complex (and very expensive) image editor with hundreds of features.  Somewhere in the middle is Paint.NET, which is free, but includes the features most users need for resizing, correcting, cropping, and changing the file format of pictures.  For those who have grander aspirations, there is another free application (closing to Photoshop on the learning curve) called GIMP at .

Google Docs

Docs is not an application that you install — it is an online application you can access from any internet-connected computer (Windows, MacOS, Linux).  Included is a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, and simple drawing program — all of which can save out to common file formats (like DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF, etc.).  Documents you create in Google Docs are stored in your online account (requires a free Google account, which also comes with a free personal email address on — again, making your creations available to you from whatever computer you log in from.  NOTE that Google Docs is not as full-featured as a commercially-available office suite (like Microsoft Office); but since most users never use more than 25% of the tools available in MS Office, Google Docs likely provides all the functionality most users depend on.


There are many vendors out there who provide a way for you to store documents up on some internet server (that’s what the phrase ‘in the cloud’ means); but DropBox is a favorite of mine because it doesn’t require any extra effort to use — AND it makes sharing large files with other people easier (no more sending them through email).  With DropBox installed, there is a folder on your PC that will sync (automatically keep copies in both places) between your computer and your online account, so that if anything ever happens to your PC (breakage, theft, accidental file deletion), you still have the online version to fall back on.  Also, you can reach these files through any web browser on any other computer — so it’s ideal for checking on a document from work that you created on your home computer.  Free accounts at start at 2Gb of storage space.  [See also Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive…]


Many eBook readers are limited to just a handful of file formats (; Calibre is able to read almost all of them, and is a great place to keep all the ebooks you collect from various sources in one place.


Vector artwork is imagery that can be stretched in size without losing quality… the industry standard for this in the commercial art world is Adobe Illustrator.  While Inkscape is not feature-for-feature as powerful as Illustrator, it also doesn’t cost several hundred dollars (Illustrator does).  For this reason, many high schools and universities that have art and design classes are favoring Inkscape — and it has quite a following all around the world.

Every Windows computer comes with a simple text editor called NOTEPAD.EXE, which is really handy for looking at text without formatting — or for deliberately stripping formatting that you don’t want out of a document.  But it is very limited; the search-and-replace isn’t very capable, and some larger files won’t open in it.  For user who need more control over their plain text files, I recommend Notepad++, which I use to edit web pages, instructional documents, and for projects that require a more powerful search-and-replace than is provided in even strong applications like Microsoft Word.

Browser plugins (Java Runtime), (Flash & Adobe Reader), (Silverlight), (DownloadHelper)

There are literally hundreds of plugins, toolbars, extensions and enhancements that can be added to your web browser to add to it’s functionality, but those linked here are the ones that I put on every computer I configure — some of them are required by most web sites and one (DownloadHelper) allows me to grab an offline copy of YouTube video for watching later when I am perhaps away from a good internet connection.


Of the many tools available for having voice and video communication over the internet, the most popular among consumers is Skype; and it’s well-favored among business users as well.  The free version lets you have one-to-one video chat as well as larger audio-only conversations.  As an added bonus, you can define your own screen as a ‘camera’ in a video chat — so that you can show the person you are talking to what you are doing in an application (such as PowerPoint or Google Docs).  There is a paid version that adds the ability to connect from Skype to a regular phone number, should you need the ability to make lots of outbound calls with a USB headset (I use this instead of my cell phone when I plan to spend the whole day talking on the phone from home).


The industry standard for most professional page-layout artists is Adobe’s InDesign — and in the low-end (non-professional) world is Microsoft’s Publisher.  Somewhere between those two stands Scribus, available on multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.) and used by many university, not-for-profit and small-office environments around the world.  If you want to crank out a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or a print advertisement — this may be a tool you’ll benefit from.

General PC Maintenance

I get asked all the time if I will fix people’s computers. I wish I had the time (I have a compulsion to repair things that are misbehaving); but I really don’t. And unfortunately, computers these days are not getting simpler — they are getting more complex … even though their snazzy user interfaces are getting slicker and ‘swoopier’.

1643_fix_your_computer_mugBut that does not absolve you of the responsibility to maintain your ‘ride’. If it were a car, you would either learn how to do the repairs yourself or take it to a reputable dealer. A ‘reputable dealer’, though, for repairing PCs is more difficult to find than you might think. Many people get frustrated enough to just give up and buy a new machine every once in a while rather than repair what they already own.

I’m not against the idea of buying new hardware every few years… but I’d hate to be forced into it out of ignorance or fear.

If you are one of those people who takes your car to a mechanic for everything, I’ll bet you are still capable (whether you choose do to it or not) of changing a tire, adding windshield-wiper fluid, and vacuuming out the interior. That level of know-how is analogous to basic PC maintenance, as well — you should be able to back up your data, add ink to your printer, and clear out unnecessary files that accumulate on the hard drive — causing it to slow down and perhaps even misbehave.

If your PC is causing you fits, and you’re teetering on the edge of an impromptu trip to the BuyMore — take a deep breath and count to 10 (which in binary is ’00’, ’01’, ’10’ — so it shouldn’t take very long). To start with, you’re going to need some tools. The following are all free (some also offer a ‘pro’ version for $$$):



If you pick one from each category, install it, and use it, you might easily add years to the usefulness of your PC.

Too many hot girls in your Follow list?

Every once in a while, someone that I don’t know will start following me on one of the social networks — which is fine, and knowing that I’m ‘internet famous‘, it’s bound to happen — but when it’s obviously someone trying to drum up traffic or selling something other than ideas or information, I might want to cull them from the herd.

(You know, someone might look at my Friends list and think that I endorse them and their fake picture/product/slimy character.)

Google’s Chrome browser makes it easy to get the actual address of a profile photo — just right click and choose ‘Copy image URL’. Then you can take that address to or Google Image Search and see whether there is something not quite right about that person — real or imagined — that is now your most-recent stalker.

NOTE: This trick isn’t just for exposing fake people. Since most people will re-use the same profile photo across multiple social networks, this can be a good way to locate the other places someone might hang out… especially if they have a common name that is going to result in a debilitating number of search results (“Bob Smith” is a hard man to find … there are millions of them!).

LINK: Google Image Search (


In the movies, when someone fires a gun in the air, everyone stops and pays attention

Let’s just start with the plain-and-simple: Firing a gun in the air is dangerous, and is illegal in most civilized societies … EVEN the ones that embrace firearm ownership and self-defense rights. THAT BULLET IS GOING TO COME BACK DOWN.

But, Joe Biden recommends that we step out on our collective porches, fire a 12-guage shotgun in the air, and expect that all the Evil in the world (be they varmits or ‘white-hispanics’ targeting us for our non-drug-related bag of Skittles) will run like Hell to get away from us.

He’s not just an idiot — he’s a DANGEROUS idiot.

Don't+Shoot+bigBut, since we’ve all seen firing a gun in the air done on old TV shows (and in celebrations around the second- and third-world), it just seems like making that bang-bang thing do some noisy-loud something will be just perfect to stop what needs stopping, right?

No. What it might do is rapidly change the situation — but you have no control over exactly what kind of Change that will be. (Kind of like the last couple of elections; but I digress…)

Does Gun Ownership Belong Hidden In The Shadows?

When a society deems gun ownership to be something unacceptible to common popular culture, then much of what people learn about the subject comes only from Hollywood — or worse yet… Joe Biden.

Remember, it was Leftists that have been working so hard over the last 50 years to teach your 2nd-Grader how to be sexually active ‘safely’… Without their help, children might learn ‘wrong’ information from their parents, and be exposed to ‘incorrect values’ that will ‘hinder their development’.

4th_of_July_957s_2013Remember, it was Leftists who have been beating the drum that if Abortion is outlawed, they will continue in secret and in much less ‘desirable’ conditions (what is the condition that makes murder acceptable?). ‘Doctors’ won’t be trained, licensed and certified. Locations will not be sterile. Women’s rights will not be protected. (As they are now at Planned Parenthood facilities, they profess…)

The Leftists are COMPLETELY AWARE that by making firearm ownership an ‘unacceptable’ thing, they push it back into the shadows, where firearms training is often skipped altogether (only Bad Guys, and soldiers on the battlefield, should even have access to a weapon — never mind ‘normal people’ actually *knowing how to use one*, right?). Letting your neighbors, doctors, teachers, coworkers, and friends know that you even own a firearm will darken their view of you forever…)

Then when someone does something REALLY STUPID like FIRING A GUN IN THE AIR, the Left is all too giddy about the opportunity to point out how dangerous firearms are in ‘non-professional hands’.

If you decide that a firearm is something you may be interested in looking into, then TRAINING should be as important as ownership. ASK ME (ask someone!) if you want to know about options that will fit your situation… the best is always in-person instruction with a certified NRA Instructor, followed by one-on-one instruction by someone who simply has years of experience on the subject, followed again by video training available online and on DVD. There are LEGAL implications, SOCIAL issues, ENVIRONMENTAL impacts, and TACTICAL methodologies that you will not get ‘in the box’ when you purchase a firearm.

LINK: “Gun safety” (
LINK: “Va. mom charged after firing gun into air to scare off daughter’s attackers” (
LINK: “Mom Fires Gun, Follows Biden’s Advice” (
LINK: “Man accused of illegally firing shotgun cites Biden’s advice” (
LINK: “WA Man Wants Apology from Joe Biden After Being Arrested for Following the Vice President’s Advice on Shotguns” (

So, I used to have this 300Gb external hard drive…

That’s “used to have”, as in, it’s still taking up space in our house — but now it only makes a feeble ‘click-click-click’ sound when I try turning it on.

I haven’t plugged it in for years; but was looking to pull copies of the pictures I took when our house was being built… I got to capture what the walls looked like before the builders closed them all up with drywall — and specifically, where the wires, pipes, and ductwork are (so that I didn’t accidentally cut into one of them during renovations and repairs).

But, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to provide those pictures to the new owner (we’re still shopping for one, as well as a new home for ourselves). The drive is dead, and it was the only copy of everything that was on it.

But I was just telling the woman that promised to Love, Honor, and Share My Broadband that it’s been so many years since I’ve backed up files to it that I don’t know what I’m missing. That’s a good thing, at least in that I don’t know what to mourn — I have little idea what I no longer have access to. But this was my backup drive for all the machines I’ve used up until about four years ago.

After that, I started using cloud storage more and burning things to DVD-R discs… not out of a deliberate plan to change my methods but because my backup drive was completely full.

Full of data that I have now lost.

At least I know the NSA can no longer read my files, either.

LINK: “Maxtor OneTouch III FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 Data Sheet” (

Oops… what happens if you crack your iPad glass?

Apple’s iPad line — and in fact, most of the tablets out there on the market — are a lot sturdier than they look. However, (to paraphrase the Ohio State motto), doo-doo happens. Today a fellow techie (who has the chops and tools to refurb any laptop, any style) shot me a note about repairing an iPad 2 that has a visible (and distracting) crack.

The cheapest route might be to do it yourself (tutorial vid and parts list below); however it’s not for the faint-of-heart. The tolerances inside are so close that it’s more like repairing a watch than cracking open a laptop. Getting it to look pristine when you are done (with no dust inside, etc.) can be tough — even with a controlled, clean workspace.

But Apple sometimes cuts people a break on the repair at the Genius Bar; so it’s worth a visit to the Keystone Apple Store to find out. Worst-case, I’m seeing that Apple *can* charge $300 for the repair — which hardly seems worth it since you can get a new iPad Mini in the same price range.

LINK: “Replacement Parts For iPad 2” (
LINK: “Cracked the ipad screen, got a free replacement from the apple store” (

Those Stock Photo Clearinghouses Don’t Stock Themselves

When I started constructing web sites for other people, I could no longer rely on a ‘free’ stream of graphics and photos (either from my own library or ‘borrowed’ from Googleland). If more people are going to see your page than your three best friends in high school and your own mom, then you need to respect copyright law and make sure you only use graphics and images that you have a legal right to share with the world.

So, I did some quick searches and found some fantastic photos that were a perfect fit for each site — and I never did have to ask for anything custom-made because there are just so many out there to choose from. For instance, for a site that provided access, recommendations, and advice for people buying hold music and voiceovers for their business phone system, I found and edited the photo used in the background of this banner graphic:


…which I now have a legal right to use as many times as I want, because I bought with it a ‘royalty-free’ usage license. What this means is that I don’t have to make an accounting of how often it is used, how many people see it, or how many times I need to cut a check to the seller — I paid a one-time fee and the photographer has (through a vendor that manages the transaction for a small fee) made a one-time sale.

So this week, we’re talking to a friend who has the equipment and the chops to crank out beautiful images, but thus far hasn’t shopped them around to potential buyers.

Below are a few articles with favorite lists and descriptions, from the perspective of content providers (photographers) — but I think more important is the more general advice some of these articles include regarding ownership, payments, sole-use licenses, ease-of-use, and how professionally your photos might be presented. It’s also important to note that most of these vendors do not charge for the privilege of selling your photos — but some do, so be aware that this is NOT a necessary or expected expense for most photographers.

LINK: “5 Sites Where You Can Sell Your Photos” (
LINK: “The Top 8 Websites To Sell Your Stock Pictures” (
LINK: “Places to Sell Your Photography” (
LINK: “How To Sell Stock Photos – Part 1”, “Part 2” (

Facebook Graph Search: *NOW* is the PERFECT TIME TO PANIC!

Do. Not. Panic. Sadly, the AOLstyle panic-attacks are still alive and well; they just focus on Facebook now, since even your grandma has abandoned AOL. BUT, there is still plenty of unfounded fear to go around — so if you haven’t bothered to check the viral status message that is going around with something like yet, here is the non-hoaxy low-down:


Only content that is publicly available to view is available in Facebook’s Search Graph; in other words, if a user has set their settings to be private, than their information will not show up and their content will not be indexed in the internal search (read more on making your Facebook settings private in How to Block Searches Of Your Facebook Profile).


If you take the recommended steps, all you really do is remove your friend’s updates, Likes and Comments from YOUR view. You are not protecting yourself, or them. You simply won’t see their updates when you use Facebook. Why would you do that? Why remove your friends’ updates from YOUR view? Isn’t that why you are friends in the first place, so you can see what they are up to? There are 3 recommendations I make to better protect your information, and they will quickly get progressively more draconian. …

Contrary to what’s claimed, Graph Search won’t make any of your Facebook content or other activities visible to strangers unless they’re already visible to the general public per your own privacy settings. It simply gives other members another way to find your stuff. For example, if your current privacy settings only allow friends to view photos and status updates, Graph Search won’t change that — only friends will be able to see your content in search results. However, if your current settings allow your content to be viewed by everyone, then everyone, friends and non-friends alike, will be able to see it in Graph Search results. That’s pretty straightforward.


I repeat: Do. Not. Panic.



A few years ago, I noticed that on the gymnasium wall at my daughter’s school, there were laminated procedures for ‘Tornado/Severe Weather Emergencies’, ‘Fire Emergencies’, and now ‘Human-Caused Emergencies’. That last one is new, since I was in elementary school; the world — or at least this corner of it — has changed.

Today, I found this (pretty well-done) instructional video that does a pretty good job at explaining what tactics are most appropriate for non-combatants (people who are not police, not security personnel, not trained, not equipped) in an instance of workplace violence.

There are various opinions about whether these are the right techniques, or whether this is the right way to teach them — but regardless, whoever is responsible for the safety of you and your coworkers should go over this or a similar set of instructions and then DRILL — just like you had tornado/fire/earthquake drills as a child in elementary school.

If you have a larger office environment, there is likely a person at your local police department who is willing to take some time to discuss a plan and help determine whether there is anything about the layout of your office space that would help a bad buy, or hinder law enforcement’s attempts to apprehend one.


Thanks to for passing this along!
LINK: CheaperThanDirt (
LINK: “Standing on the Wall” (

Standing on the Wall

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. –‘The Patton Prayer’

A church’s doctrinal teachings and your own personal beliefs may affect how you process the following information — and that’s as it should be. My goal here isn’t to convince you to change your mind about the ethos involved in physical security; but to consider appropriate measures and preparedness that best suits your school and/or church’s needs in a way that still meshes with your organization’s core values, principles, and abilities.

For instance, do you feel that any, all, or none of the following items should be available to your teachers, administrators, pastors and laypeople:

  • Lockable external doors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First Aid kit
  • Publicly-accessible phone
  • Interior rooms that can be locked from the inside without a key (for refuge in an emergency)
  • Background checks on staff who care for children or may be alone with children at any time
  • Regular training for staff and volunteers that covers emergency preparedness

Few people can argue about whether anything in the above list is appropriate where the safety of others is one of your concerns and responsibilities.

Next, there are some things that may or may not fit everyone ideologically; but nonetheless are worth discussing — for instance, if you disagree with a tool or tactic on principle, be ready to discuss your backup or secondary plan to fill that need.

  • Security team/trained ushers on foot and patrolling hallways, aisle, doorways, parking lots
  • Alarm/surveillance system with video at entrances
  • Land-line (not cellular) phones in every room
  • Published policy (published to your members) on legal concealed-carry (this may or may not include your requirement or suggestion of formal training before being allowed on your private property; or it may clarify your zero-tolerance policy)
  • Protect & Serve Ministry (enlisting professional police, paramedic, and fire personnel who are members of your organization to provide time, attention, and visible presence to your campus in their off-work hours)

I’m hoping that some of these ideas spur discussion among church and school planners everywhere. And I’d like to close with a thought on training and mindset. Some organizations get a handful of eager volunteers who enjoy a day at the firing range, and who are legally able to carry concealed in their state — and then these people are deployed with as much care as possible in strategic locations around the facility. Or maybe some groups are happy to simply have a number of trusted individuals interspersed among the congregation (like plainclothes ‘Air Marshals’ on an airplane). But if every one of those individuals is not properly trained to react properly in an intense situation, your organization — and worse, the individuals under its roof — may be in double jeopardy when Bad Things Happen.

  • Make the effort to find people who have the right experience to assist you with your security plan, as well as individuals qualified to carry out that plan.
  • Know the legal ramifications of your plan, and the impact of actions or inaction you advise for your staff.
  • The very idea of an emergency indicates that something unexpected is occuring. Have discussions with your staff and membership about what they CAN expect or rely on being true when things can, do, and must happen in rapid fashion.

Like any good team, having good Leadership, Planning, Teamwork and Practice can make your environment a safer one so that people who visit can concentrate on your organization’s Message, and help them abandon their other worries at the door. Addressing security concerns quietly and effectively should mean that your Core Mission is the focus for those you serve — not the roof under which the service takes place.

LINK: “9 Lessons Learned from the Oikos College Shooting” (
LINK: church security manual (search on
LINK: “New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness” (
LINK: “Armed Vigilantes and Church Security” (
LINK: “Joined my Church’s Safety & Security team this week…” (
LINK: “The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence” (
LINK: “Security Guard: ‘God Guided Me And Protected Me'” (
LINK: “Sunday horror: Church shootings in Colorado; gunman killed by armed female church security staffer” (
LINK: “The Heroine Of The Colorado Springs Church Shooting” (
LINK: “Mika on Church Shootings: ‘Inane’ To Think Armed Citizen Can Make a Difference” (

Good Cookie / Bad Cookie / Truly Evil Cookies

How a Well-Mannered Cookie Behaves:

1) You visit a web site (say, ) to shop for a car, and while there you click on links for 4-door sedans and then another to see what a particular model looks like in a nice deep dark blue.

a) While you are on their web site, they dropped a cookie in the temporary items folder of your browser, that stored some brief notes about what you looked at during your visit.

2) The following week, you go back to the home page – and, lo and behold! – the exact car you ‘custom-built’ is what is on the huge banner graphic across the top of the screen… Wow!

a) When you revisited the site, their home page provided the code for several different versions of that banner graphic – and your browser noticed that their cookie was already present, so used information combined from both the live site and instructions built into the cookie to decide which version to present to your eyes. At no time was the cookie sent ‘up’ to the web site.

How an Ill-Mannered Cookie Behaves:

1) You visit a web site (say, ) to shop for a car, and while there you click on links for 4-door sedans and then another to see what a particular model looks like in a nice deep dark blue.

a) While you are on their web site, they dropped a cookie in the temporary items folder of your browser, that had some brief notes about what you looked at during your visit.

2) The following week, you go back to the home page – and, lo and behold! – the exact car you ‘custom-built’ is what is on the huge banner graphic across the top of the screen… Wow!

a) When you revisited the site, your browser noticed that their cookie was already present, and when requested, sent that cookie ‘up’ to the web site.

b) Their web server collects and analyzes the cookie and makes a decision about what to present to you on the web page. They also keep a running log of information collected to be sold to unscrupulous data-mining vendors. That can include any passwords you saved on their web site and any of the technical information listed at these sites:

A less-simplified discussion/reference on cookies that are not oatmeal-raisin: