Web Design: Part 2

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Knowing that my newfound knowledge needed a testing bed, I bought a domain/server space and created PixelatedProgress.

At this point in time, I decided to start playing around with WordPress templates. The templates offered a prebuilt design chassis that was easy to manipulate. As one of my first projects, I took it upon myself to redo my church’s web site.

Step 1: Ask someone at the church if this was okay.

Step 2: Create a prototype to present to the church.

Read Web Design: Part 1

Web Design: Part 1

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Back in mid-2011, I decided that I wanted to go into the field of web design. I was unsure exactly what this looked like but I knew that I wanted to move towards web design as a career. Forward motion equaled setting some goals. So I set up two lists: 1)filled with basics that I needed to know; 2)filled with advanced knowledge that would eventually be needed.

Basics:

  • XHTML
  • CSS
  • Photoshop (needed to brush up on my skills)

Advanced:

  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • MYSQL Databases

A friend of mine, that does web design for a living, pointed me to W3Schools. I quickly found myself consuming their XHTML tutorials. This went on for awhile until I eventually ran out of steam. Turns out that while I was learning great stuff, I really didn’t have a good place to apply it. I needed to build an actual web site.

Living Life Grounded

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If you wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch you go

If you got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away

Need you to steal my show, can’t wait to watch you go

So take it away – Steal My Show, Toby Mac

I drove to Bible study alone last night. My wife needed rest and my son hasn’t been feeling the best. As the two of them set to recuperate for the evening, I headed out to church to lead the Bible study I teach every Wednesday night.

With Lecrae’s “Gravity” album thumping in the background, I prayed that my teaching the study wouldn’t be all about me. I started to think about personal branding. How we are all out to promote ourselves in some way. Just look at social media and the constant noise some of us project. All of our social noise an effort to be heard above the rest, to be known in some shallow way.

As much as I want to carve my own personal story into this world, I ultimately want my life to be grounded upon God first. I want to serve Him and further His kingdom, no matter what that looks like (so I say now). If that means that I am to be a garbage collector or a serve as President of the United States, I want to be able to do so for His glory, not mine. I want God to be in control. This is not me forfeiting my own personal will but instead me submitting to a Holy and living God who is sovereign.

The seemingly random experiences that make up my life have taught me that God only wants the best for me. In the darkest places of my life God has always called me out to something better. He has always shown me a clear path to walk upon, no matter how much my heart craved that which was murky and dark. God’s will, as much as we fight it, is perfect. I want to live in that will; I want to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

The Rewarded Life – Gamification

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Right down the street from my house is a series of paved walking trails. They interweave beneath cool leafy canopies; They provide a great place to relax and exercise.

My friend Jon and I meet there once a week. We walk and talk about the lives we are living. The small hills and smooth curves, of the walking trails, serve as a fantastic physical representation of how we can be doing well one week and veering off into the unknown the next. Around each corner we never know what we are going to run into. One week we saw a man sitting without a shirt in a grassy field. He looked like he was meditating or somehow communing with nature. I’m not into that. At least not out in public. Another week we saw a herd of deer. One of the most memorable times we had was when we were caught out in a thunderstorm. As marble sized hail dented our bodies, we seriously wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Unless you’ve used a tree as shelter from a hail storm, you’d know that the tree is absolutely worthless. All the tree does is become a natural pinball machine for the frozen orbs. Enough about the hail though.

Gamification is the use of game design elements,game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.

Helping users lose weight since 2011.

My sister and my parents bought me a Nintendo 3DS for my birthday back in July. The 3DS has a built-in pedometer. After recording about a 1000 steps, the system rewards the user with 10 gold coins. These coins can be spent on two built-in games. Now what does this have to do with walking? Well, after discovering this simple feature, I started walking with the 3DS in my pocket. I wanted to earn more gold coins. Walking had turned into a game I wanted to win.

I wonder why other companies haven’t caught on to this phenomena. The concept seems so simple, integrate game-like elements into our everyday lives. I commend Nintendo for their almost sneaky approach to making users want to exercise more. My only wish is that the coins earned could be applied to e-shop purchases. In the meantime, avoid hail my friends.

Snow White Lives at Panera Bread

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Note: I realize that this post is random. One of those I wrote because I could.

I think I talked to Snow White this morning on the phone. She was soft spoken, thought every request I had was “perfect”, and was overall very helpful. Oh yeah, she works at Panera Bread.

One of my many jobs, as an administrative assistant, is to coordinate lunches for the office. Today we are hosting a lunch hour webinar related to client contact. In order to feed and water the staff, the decision was made to order from the newly opened Panera Bread in Longview. That is how I happened to talk to Snow White today.

Panera Snow White reminded me of a woman my Mom and I met a long time ago. Back then, we were both taking a sign language class through the local junior college. One of the women in the class was named Misty, she worked as a bouncer at the local honky tonk. Now of course, Misty’s voice was much deeper. No where near as melodic as Panera Snow White’s voice. I don’t know why Panera Snow White reminded me of Misty, but she did. Makes me wonder if Misty is still working as a bouncer, using her sign language skills to toss the riffraff out of The Stampede.

Comfort & Control

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Yesterday (9/10), I started reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I am now on page 100 out of 250 pages. I don’t know what it is, regardless of my political differences with Miller, he somehow always manages to rope me in with his writing. I often feel like him and I are sitting down having a conversation, man to man. This morning (9/11) I woke up and continued reading. In reading, I came across this:

Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn’t all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better. – p. 100, Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

This got me thinking about my penchant for comfort. Even if the roof is caving in all around me, as long as I have perceived “control” I’m not leaving. This is what happens when I decide that I can do things in my own power; when I tell God that He is not enough.

This past Sunday, the new pastor of my church preached on Nahum 1:7 (NASB).

The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

This got me thinking about whether I truly believe that God is good. I don’t think that this is something that I ever question. What I do question is whether He is enough. Is God big enough to handle whatever situation I am going through? Time and time again, God reveals himself in the Bible showing that he is more than capable of anything. Heck, he created the world! Somehow though I delude myself, in the delight of my comfort, that I have more than enough strength to get myself through this life. This is exactly what satan wants me to believe, that somehow I am better than God. All I have to do is un-tighten my hands, open them up, and let God take what I’ve been trying to control. Surrendering myself, submitting myself to God and his authority are actions I must take on a daily basis. I don’t want to be comfortable, I want God to be in control.

LeTourneau University Alumni Association Directory project

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In the Fall of 2004 I left my native state of California, Tetris-style packed my car, and made the 2 day trek to Longview, Texas. There I spent the next two and half years pursuing higher education and ultimately meeting my now wife. My time at LeTourneau University was amazing due to the awesome group of guys I became friends with (kick butt CLUB!) and the personal growth I experienced through student leadership.

Almost six years later, I find myself gainfully employed and slowly paying back my student debt. Over the past few months, I have been receiving emails/mailers from a company LeTourneau has contracted to update their alumni directory. I do not wish to participate in this update. Instead of offering me a chance to opt out, I have been bombarded with emails and mailers warning me of being “past due” and the dreaded “4th notice”. This collections agency language and behavior is not befitting of the memories I have of the university. I really think that LeTourneau is capable of holding itself to a higher standard.

What is funny about this is that no one else I know, who has attended LETU, has been contacted over this. Seems like a scam.

Rewind Wednesday: Haggai

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Imagine your nation being plundered/ destroyed and you are taken captive. All that you have ever known is now gone, quite literally. You soon find yourself immersed in a new culture. A culture that is foreign and very unlike what you are accustomed to. At this point you can chose to blend in with the new culture, adopt some of it’s customs; or you can chose remain an island, a remnant of your own culture.

Many years pass, the king of this foreign land allows you to return home. He gives you a green light to rebuild the temple that had been a central part of your life, your existence. Some around you chose to stay immersed in their new lives; others around you chose to return home. The table scraps, what is left of your nation/cities/ and towns, is the new reality that awaits you. The comforts of “home” have long disappeared.

Charged with the task of rebuilding the temple, you quickly become discouraged. Opposition from outlying neighbors and the overall futility of restoring the temple to its former glory is overwhelming. So you give up. You focus on yourself. Soon you have a roof over your head and crops planted. Everything you do though somehow doesn’t seem blessed. You are constantly in want. You are distracted by your own needs and ignoring what God has called you to do. This goes on for years.

After some time, the prophet Haggai speaks. He tells you that the reason your endeavors don’t succeed is due to the fact that you are ignoring God. In denying God by not building the temple, you are denying God worship and thus his blessings. You, and the remnant of people around you, quickly put two and two together. The reason for the failed crops and hail. God. He has been trying to get your attention. So you decide to obey. To do what God has called you to do. To complete his temple. God assures you that he is with you. You know that everything is going to be okay because God is sovereign.

As Christians, it is very easy to get distracted by the things around us. We often lose focus of what God is calling us to do and instead focus on ourselves. In doing so, we are not allowing God to fully bless us. I know that I want that blessing. Do you?

The Colossus of Patience

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I do not consider myself a patient man. I do not like the journey. I would much rather instantly arrive at the destination fully equipped to do what needs to be done. Perhaps this is part of my nature being a first born child? I can tell you though, that life is all about patience; life is all about the journey and waiting.

Recently, I’ve been playing through Shadow of the Colossus on the PS3. The game is about taking down monolithic giants in order to save the girl you love. Each of the giant’s deaths brings you closer to the day when she will awaken…or does it?

In defeating these in-game giants, I am slowly being taught patience. The game demands that you study your enemy. That you know how the colossi move, where their weaknesses are, etc. In learning about each colossi, the player eventually learns how to climb and annihilate each of them. Climbing is no easy task when you are climbing up a moving skyscraper. This is where the aforementioned patience comes into play. As the colossi moves, the player has the potential to lose grip and fall. If you get greedy, your greed will be rewarded with having to re-climb the colossi again. Sometimes climbing these creatures is easy; othertimes the experience is the worst thing in the world.

I never thought I’d have a video game teach me about patience. So far though, Shadow of the Colossus has done just that.

The Walking Dead: Episode 3 Impressions

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This past week, I downloaded and beat Episode 3 of The Walking Dead. Episode 3 reminded me once again that the series is often a hard pill to swallow. Excellent character development and story is stirred in with harsh language and gruesome violence. While I love finding out what is going on with different characters, I hate having to sit through the rancid profanity that often feels completely out of place.

As a kid, I remember Halloween being a time of having lots of fun and racking up insane amounts of candy. At the end of the night, my parents would sift through my candy, checking to make sure everything was “safe”. Apparently during this time there had been a scare due to someone placing razor blades within the Halloween candy itself. This random childhood memory is exactly what The Walking Dead series of games has turned out to be: An amazing sugar-coated outside filled with a potentially deadly center.

As a Christian, I go back and forth with myself over the things that I consume. I know from experience that what I take in eventually finds its way out. I have always evaluated what I consume by the following 1 Corinthians 6:12:

“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

How about you? Even if you aren’t a Christian, do you evaluate what you consume media-wise?