Its been a long, long time. I usually like to post during my lunch breaks at work. In that time I do all the little things that I really WANT to accomplish without detracting any time or focus away from the things I NEED to get done. Well, I’ve been so busy lately and it seems so incredibly easy to be busy and so very hard to not be busy. So, to explain myself and my lack of attention to this blog, here is what has been going on in the interim.
1. Computers. Lots of computers. I run a little project called The Eastside Vineyard Computer Pantry. The focus of this project is to collect donated computers, refurbish them to great working condition, then give them away. I have decided to turn my office at work into a computer lab, and so, I have been diagnosing and repairing computers on most of my lunch breaks. I have also been repairing computers for family and friends.
2. Tutoring. Yes, I know it is summer. I have a niece who is nearly complete with a summer algebra class and I have been her tutor. I have been diligently creating comprehensive notes for her to use on the final exam.
3. Planning an anniversary trip. 7 years of marriage to my wonderful wife. In previous years we have gone to some great places; Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, Chicago and so on. Every trip has been great. This year we decided to stay in Michigan and go do something a bit more fast-paced. I grew up participating in powersports so this year we are going to Silver Lake Sand Dunes. We are renting a dune buggy and I finally get to show my wife what I used to do on a regular basis. I’m also trying to convince her that taking my 4×4 pickup out on the dunes will be fun too! The trip is all planned and booked now!
4. Laying the groundwork for another project. I do this to myself all the time. I get a great idea and never really get it finished. I have too many great ideas and I get so excited for all of them. So, to combat this, I share my ideas with family and friends and do my best to write every aspect of the idea down. That way, I never lose the idea and can receive encouragement to finish the job. Most of these ideas I’ve had lately are intertwined so I definitely want to finish them!
So, for tomorrow…
I think I may switch the radio in my truck. Or…
Way back when Windows XP was released, I had this optimism that computers were going to be so much better. They were actually going to do what I wanted them to do, instead of me having to deal with their limitations. I was wrong but progress had been made. I had this nagging frustration with computers. There were all these missing features that should have been there all along. Why can’t I have all of my contacts saved in one, central location that is accessible to any program that needs it? Why are there so many different versions of Office? Why isn’t a good word processor just standard? If my computer doesn’t automatically come with the software to make it useful, why did it cost so much money? Why do software updates render my computer useless? I had tricks and workarounds to nearly every frustration my computer caused, but I wanted it to just simply work the way it should.
Technology was heading in the right direction. It just wasn’t where I wanted it to be. As I switched from Windows to Mac, I found out that Mac OSX was much more in line with what I wanted out of a computing experience. No amount of upgrades or Windows-based software had ever given me the results I desired. Some of the built in software and features I always wanted actually existed! I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought a simpler user experience made sense. With my Mac, I became jaded by the dazzle of high-end hardware and expensive software. My budget doesn’t allow for too much of that. Because I couldn’t afford things like Photoshop, I tried using cheaper alternatives until I broke down and bought the real thing. It’s great. I love it but now the computing world is moving in the direction I really want. Cloud computing.
As soon as I heard the term, cloud computing, I jumped on the bandwagon. I know there are so many security issues with the cloud, but I don’t care. I don’t need to buy a new Mac when my current model becomes outdated. I have my eye on something else. The Chromebook. Google’s services have got me hooked on the cloud. I use Google Drive to fill out and record inspection reports. Google calendar runs my weekly schedule. With my Google account and a Chrome extension, my computer lets me know when I have an incoming call and I get my text messages without touching my phone. I still love my purchased apps like Pages and Lightroom, but web-based alternatives are getting really good. Ever hear of Canva? Google it. Join it. Use it. I love creating with it and it works on my tablet too. You don’t need to spend big bucks on Photoshop if you don’t absolutely need every feature it offers.
Most people use their computers just for the internet. I began using computers for graphic design, mechanical design, and programming. I learned computers inside and out and had super specific reasons for using them. Now, people use them for casual things instead of professional. Do you really need a $1,500 laptop to check Facebook? No. Get a Chromebook. Put Linux on an old laptop. I did. I use it just as much as my Mac. Check out the free, web-based tools out there and compute smarter. I use the pro stuff and I absolutely love these new web-based alternatives.
I’m so thankful for the great music made in the 90’s.
As things start to pick up and progress is being made, there is one very important factor that stays at the forefront of The Eastside Vineyard Computer Pantry; God. As much as I want to see people progress, this isn’t just about computers. It’s not just about equipping people with basic technology. It isn’t just about helping a student learn computer skills or enhance their homework. This is about blessing others in the name of Jesus Christ.
The point is to bless people the way we feel blessed by the Lord. In turn, it’s also a blessing to see the joy of those we bless. We had a late start in 2013, but I am very excited to see where things go in 2014. So far, we have given out 3 computers, donated computers are trickling in and plenty of people are interested in volunteering to help out. As the word spreads, I don’t doubt that many people will be blessed by TEVC Computer Pantry. The God factor doesn’t stop there.
It’s also about what we do with technology. I hope to inspire people to use technology responsibly. I want to encourage others to use their resources to further God’s kingdom. A computer is not only an access point to social media. It is not just a way to view celebrity gossip. It is a tool. The God factor is not just about blessing people with technology, but also about how to use it as a blessing. As this project grows, I want to educate people about proper computer use. Many computer users don’t use (or even realize) the full potential of the equipment they are using.
I have to end it there. I could write so much more about this, but then I would be giving away too many details about future plans for the Pantry. Please pray for this project and all who are involved.
These posts are intended for people who claim they are “too busy” to pursue things that we think should be done in our spare time. Spare time just doesn’t fall in your lap. You have to make time. These posts will focus on things that can be done in the little time set aside for lunch.
Black Friday is almost upon us. To be completely honest, I am sick of hearing bout Black Friday sales and deals. The fanaticism in this country is too much. But, Christmas is coming up and people need to get their shopping done. This Lunch Hour Revolution post should help you get some clarity for navigating the holiday shopping rush.
1) Make lists. If you haven’t done so already, make a list of all the people you absolutely need to buy for. Also, make a list of the people you may or may not want to buy for. For the first list, try to get an idea of what those people are asking for or need. With the second list, narrow down who you really will buy for and remove the people who never return the favor or have been repeatedly ungrateful in the past.
2) Do your research. Check online for prices. Many stores already have their Black Friday deals available for the world to see. *Be sure to read the fine print. Many retailers will have limited quantities and many of those Black Friday deals will actually run throughout the entire holiday season. Some products are actually special run just for Black Friday and lack many key features to get their price down. Some of those good deals really are too good to be true.
3) If you can buy something online and avoid the Black Friday madness, do it. In my experience, many of the prices on deals in-store are also available online. Like I said above, read the fine print. Retailers will let you know if their deals are available in-store only.
I strongly suggest avoiding the madness all together, but your shopping needs to get done somehow. Over the course of a couple lunch breaks, you can come up with an excellent game plan to get the most out of your time and money.
I am currently working on a new Lunch Hour Revolution post, a new Adventures In Charity post, working on content to update TEVC Computer Pantry website, diagnosing computers and sorting through parts, and actively pursuing some partnerships. I still find time to be a husband, father and work my regular job. Be on the look out for the updates!
I began this adventure by accident. I thought I could do something nice for one person but had my eyes wrenched open and could now see a larger problem that really isn’t so evident. Who doesn’t own a computer? Senior citizens? That isn’t even so true anymore. My grandparents have a desktop, laptop and a tablet. Nobody shows up to work and talks to their coworkers about not having a computer. People don’t typically share when they are lacking something and technology has become so engrained in our daily lives, it’s hard to imagine other people without it. I have a hard time remembering what it was like not to have a computer myself.
At some point during my grade school career, teachers stopped accepting hand-written papers and required all final copies of our work be typed. I got very familiar with typewriters. Computers were very unaffordable when I was a kid. At this point in time, having a computer meant that you had a job that required you to have a computer. If not, you were spending a lot of money on another object to collect dust in your home. Having a computer also meant that you knew how to get a lot out of your computer, unlike today where many computer owners use less than 10% of their computer’s potential. Computers are just as much a life tool as they are a professional tool.
So, why am I offering to collect, fix, and distribute unwanted computers?
Times have changed. In my lifetime, computer usage has gone from super-specific tasks and training to a widely utilized form of getting things done. Most jobs involve computers. I know only a handful of businesses that don’t use computers in any way and sadly, that practice will die along with the people who do business that way. Computers are utilized from the highest all the way down to even the lowest positions at most companies in this country. Sooner or later everyone will have to know basic computer skills to get a job. Educators realize this and schools are starting to heavily integrate technology in the teaching process.
Technology is no longer limited to the school computer lab. iPads are beginning to replace textbooks. If your child misbehaves in the classroom, an email is sent to you immediately. Your child missed a day of class? The lessons and homework are available online. If you want to have a school’s schedule of events, you can simply subscribe to their calendar and all school events are imported into your personal, digital calendar. Sure, your child probably knows how to operate your phone better than you, but what kind of practical exposure to technology does your child get outside of school?
I am doing this because I don’t believe people should be left behind. My first computer opened a new world of possibilities for me. I learned how to use a computer in school but I never truly experienced computers until I actually owned one. Having a home computer can keep parents up-to-date on their child’s progress at school. It can give their child access to reources for school assignments. Computers can bring the classroom home for people who want an education but don’t have the time. Computers may not be a high priority for a struggling family, but it may provide the edge they need to start thriving. That is why I choose to do this. Many programs just like this exist all around the United States because it is worthwhile. Many intelligent people don’t live up to their potential just because they were never given a chance to grow. I want to give people that chance.
A few years ago, I helped a coworker do some computer work. I will admit it is something I did not want to do. At this point in my life I was very unhappy with my job, unhappy that I lost a good job, and so unhappy with the people I had to work with. I felt sorry for the guy, so I agreed to help him. He didn’t have anyway to pay for the work I did, which was fine. I didn’t want to be paid. Instead, he gave me all the extra computer parts he had. I played around with some of the parts and managed to make a working computer. It was fairly outdated and I had no use or room for an extra computer so I offered it up for free online. Within 12 hours I had over 100 people asking for that single computer.
More than 100 people, part of one, small online community in Macomb County, Michigan. I couldn’t believe it. Computers seem so commonplace. Who doesn’t have a computer? Apparently, many people. The reasons for needing a computer were mostly the same for the group seeking my solitary machine; education. People who are homeschooling, the jobless looking to become employable, parents who want their kids to keep up with their peers, and one grandparent taking care of a special needs child. It was difficult to just pick one person. Who am I to decide who is more deserving? I finally settled on a couple who uprooted their life in Georgia to come pastor a new Church in Marine City. I didn’t believe they were more deserving. I simply believed that one computer could make a larger impact that way.
Ever since that posting, I have had a project on my mind. A charitable effort to help people gain access to everyday technology. It has finally launched, in the form of a ministry. Partnering with The Eastside Vineyard Church, my home church, we are spreading the word and working to make an impact mainly for the sake of education.
To be continued…
For more information about The Eastside Vineyard Church, click here.
To know more about TEVC Computer Pantry, from The Eastside Vineyard website, click on “what we do” and then click on “computer pantry” or click here.