The Launch


Over the past few weeks, my business partner at Five Espressos and I have launched a new service called ymLaunch.  ymLaunch is a WordPress multisite that is built to help youth ministries have their own website.  I was a youth pastor for 12 years or so, and I always wanted my own web site.  I never had the time or the know-how to pull it off.  When it was time for me to be done as a full time youth pastor, I started learning and working as a WordPress developer.  About a year into that, I realized that the perfect service for me to build would be one that was for youth ministries.  So we built it.

So far, this has been a much larger undertaking than I ever imagined.  Don’t think for a moment, that just because a large percentage of sites today are being built on WordPress… it is easy work.  To do things right, it takes time, patience, development skill, amazing people that are willing to help (quite possibly the biggest upside of WordPress), and the willingness to dig deep and learn.

This is all extremely exciting, and a little scary all at the same time.  The product is not quite where I want it to be just yet, but we focused on getting the basics set for Launch.  We will be continuing to make it better, prettier, and easier to use for youth pastors.

ymLaunch is definitely a niche within a niche.  There are plenty of services out there for church websites.  What I found in my years as a youth pastor, though… is that it is really more ideal for youth ministries to have their own site.  They will certainly still want a page on the church site, with basic info and a link to the youth ministry site.  On their own site, though, they can have (and edit) their own calendar, downloads, pictures, and content.  This should make life easier, as there can be ONE place to keep all the content and info people need with regards to the youth ministry.  There are some other major benefits as well, but I’ll save those for another time.   Ultimately, I want to make this as easy as possible (and reasonably inexpensive) for youth pastors, so that they can continue to focus on what is really important:  ministering to students.

Site Refresh

I had some fun today with a site re-design.  I had to dig into PHP more than I ever have before.  I was not only happy with the results, but I learned a ton in the process.  embrace / refrain has always had a clean and minimal look, but it was still feeling a little cluttered to me.  Moving the menu to the right, toning down the font sizes, and making a new logo all combined to create a much cleaner look.  I like what adding just a little color does to the overall effect.

I also added a new archives page.  I have never liked typical WordPress archives, which is why I didn’t have any (at least in the menu, anyway).  What I really wanted was just a listing of posts by date. That way, someone who wants to find a particular post can do so quickly.  This morning, I spent some time looking around other blogs to see how they do archives.  I found a few that I liked, and then set out to make my own.  I still have a few tweaks that I would like to make, but overall I like it and it is very functional.

Summer… flying by.

Wow, summer has flown by.   I have basically forgot about blogging and the embrace / refrain project over the last month.  I did jump in with hustlemonth for the last couple of weeks of July, and as a result, I did some great work on a a couple of projects that had been stagnant.  August started with a quick trip to South Carolina to visit family, and I never really got anything going.  So be it.  I took a month off.  I’m looking forward to September to get back into the swing of things and finish up the year.

At this point, I don’t know if I’m on an embrace or refrain project, but it really doesn’t matter.  For the last 4 months, I’ll just choose each month based on whatever idea seems most helpful.  For September, I plan on learning basic PHP.  I have been learning WordPress development over the last 9 months, and my lack of ability with PHP has been the most limiting factor in moving forward.  I obviously don’t expect to be an expert in just a month, but I do hope to get to a basic level that will be helpful in WordPress development.  Over the last days of August, I’ll be checking out resources so I can hit the ground running in September.

Free Time…

Today… I got the first real free time I can remember in awhile. A friend of the family took my two kids who were not at school out for some fun.  And just like that, I had time to do whatever I wanted. If you don’t have kids, this may not seem noteworthy.  If you do then you probably understand how precious this time can be.  And so… What did I do with it my time?

I had some ambitions of taking a nap or going mountian biking, but intsead, I sat down to intall MAMP so that I could do some experimenting with WordPress.  For those of you that don’t know what MAMP is, it is basically a way of installing WordPress locally on your computer instead of on a server that hosts a web site.  There you can experiment offline, and have some fun playing with the PHP, CSS, and whatever else you feel like tinkering with.  This was MUCH easier than I thought it would be.  I was up and running in about 15 minutes.   I got my first chance to play around with a theme framework, and with my new (offline) confidence, I was trying all sorts of things.

What is funny to me, is that a year ago I had no idea what MAMP was, why you might use it, or how to intall and work with WordPress.  It is amazing to me how much fun it is to learn new things, and how much life can change in less than a year.  I was missing out on so much fun…


You can’t take it with you… unless it’s a laptop.

The title is courtesy of my friend over there in the rain….

I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new MacBook Air, probably this summer after Apple refreshes thier computer product line. I have an iMac at home, but as I have been learning and working on web design and web development, I have often wanted to do some work at the coffee shop.  Our iMac sits right in the great room, where it should be, but it can be hard to focus with a family of 5 running around you.  When I escape to the coffee shop, my mobile computer is an iPad.  It’s a fantastic device, but I definitely run into limitations when working on web sites.  Thus the idea of a MacBook Air.

As an alternative to getting the Air (they aren’t cheap)… I have been wondering about using my iPad to log into my iMac from the coffee shop.  Theoretically, I can then do anything that my iMac can do remotely on my iPad.  There are quite a few programs that allow you to do this:  some expensive, some not too bad, some are even free… but even the most expensive is quite a bit cheaper than getting a new computer.

I like the idea, but I have a feeling that it would be slow and buggy and I would end up getting the Air anyway.  Any thoughts?  Do you  have any experience logging into your computer remotely on an iPad?  If so, how does it work?