Registration for October LDSTech Conference is Now Open!
By GC Duerden
The LDSTech Conference registration site is now open for the conference this October 16-17. If you will be joining us in person, you are invited to sign up at tech.lds.org/conf. If you are unable to attend, you can watch streaming videos of many sessions online after the event.
Several BYU Information Technology students, under the direction of Associate Professor Derek Hansen, recently wrote test scripts for software used for mission finances and administration.
“They roll out a new version of the software regularly,” Hansen explained. “Each new version needs to be checked for code-breaks. Students helped by writing test scripts to simulate using the software to make sure everything works properly.”
Four students worked for almost two years writing scripts which run as part of the automated testing process. The problems, if they show up, can then be debugged. Several such problems were identified by the students.
“It was a great experience for the students, who were able to develop new skills and interact with professionals in a real world work experience. It was like a short internship, but with an important emphasis on
An article in the Mormon Newsroom recently noted changes in missionary work as digital media becomes more common throughout the world.
After going through a pilot program of 30 missions and 6500 missionaries – primarily in the US and Japan – the mobile device program will be expanded to 162 missions (and 35,000 missionaries by the end of 2015) all using iPad minis, cell phones, and online chat in their work.
The article highlights a video by Elder David F. Evans and an announcement about missionary technology from the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
Many members dream of someday serving a full-time mission after they retire. Many members don't know, however, that there is a new opportunity to serve as full-time technology missionaries. We currently have these opportunities for Spanish-speakers.
Area technology specialists (ATS) are needed in various locations around the world, but especially in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. These Spanish-speaking ATS missionaries will be providing training and technical support to stake technology specialists (STS) in the areas. Applicants need to be fluent in both Spanish and English.
Husbands and wives can serve together as area technology specialists, or one spouse can serve as an ATS and the other can have another assignment based in the same location and/or area office.
ATS assignments may include supporting area leadership, facilities management groups, or missions with help for their technology needs. ATSs serve under the direction of the Area ICS (Information and Communication Services) Manager.
Required experience is not excessively technical but does include "skills with computers, printers, copiers, scanners, wired and wireless networks, the Internet, and audiovisual equipment" as the stated on the opportunities website (http://tech.lds.org/mission).
If you or someone you know has interest in this missionary service, please contact our ATS coordinators, Elder Gary and Sister Marilyn Peterson at
, or at (801) 240-6226. For more information about open positions, go to http://tech.lds.org/mission.
LDSTech announces the 2014 Gospel App & Game Development Contest, held as part of the 2014 LDSTech Conference.
The Contest begins immediately. Everyone is invited to develop a gospel-centered iOS, Android, or Windows game or app that will help flood the marketplace with quality entertainment alternatives for our families.
Harness your creative and programming skills to create something worthy. Pass this along to your family, friends, and neighbors to get them involved. Visit Gospel App & Game Development Contest for rules, starter ideas, and more information.
Final submissions are due October 10, 2014 – a week before final judging at the LDSTech Conference. Get started now!
For the past few years, it seems job applicants have been lining up around the block to fill vacant positions.
While this may have allowed for an overall static human resources budget, recent studies have shown that hidden costs of turnover equal a substantial percentage of a new hire’s wages. While sometimes hard to measure, these costs include recruitment, training, building trust, and loss of productivity.
Recruitment and training of Church service missionaries (CSMs) are provided by fulltime Church employees, and lost productivity hurts the entire organization. Multiply that in a program that depends on personnel that work in six, twelve, and eighteen month increments, and the problem becomes significant.
Sister Brenda Frandsen, LDSTechCSM in Mesa, Arizona, has been able to help resolve that issue. Sister Frandsen and her husband have served three full time missions: as office missionaries in the Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission from 2008 -2009; as public affairs missionaries in Taiwan from 2010-2011; and as media missionaries in Hong Kong from 2012-2013.
During her Hong Kong mission, Sister Frandsen implemented SharePoint throughout the area and developed a high level of skill while also building trust with her peers. As the time for the Frandsens to depart Hong Kong neared, the concern grew as to how to fill the space Sister Frandsen would leave behind. It would not be a simple matter because of her unique programming and language skills.
The solution was found in technology. Sister Frandsen continues her media mission and support of the SharePoint software as an LDSTechCSM from her home in Mesa, Arizona. She meets with her peers by WebEx on a weekly basis and remotely accesses individual computers when necessary to troubleshoot, help, and support those still in the mission field.
LDSTech missions offer an opportunity for highly skilled full time missionaries to continue their work even after they return home. If you are a mission leader and have lost a highly skilled missionary but would like to retain their expertise through an LDSTech Church Service Mission, contact Elder Allen Bottorff or Sister Cheryl Bottorff at (801) 842- 4771, or email them at
The Church has updated its flagship site, LDS.org, many times since it was first created in 1996. From a basic domain-claiming site in the early days of the Web to today’s robust, information-rich experience, the Church has offered more and more content to members and to the world.
Part 1 of this article reviewed the development of the Church’s public face via technology, from the early days of radio to the earliest developments of an Internet presence.)
The year 2000 also saw major redesigns and content added to the website. The Church’s message called “The Living Christ” was posted on January 1, 2000, followed by the first Internet version of the scriptures in May of the same year.
The conversion of the scriptures from a print version to an online version proved to be very beneficial. Errors were revealed such as wrong references and typos. The Church was able to clean up the scriptures by posting them online.
At the turn of the millennium, the website shifted focus a bit. Designers allowed it to be more dynamic, allowing users to customize content. Ideas for features such as a youth site, a portal, feedback, calendar, news were planned. Some of these ideas are only now being launched.
The goal was to release the new site on June 30, 2000. Using a content management system put out by Vignette, and a language called Tcl, the site was created. It presented huge challenges to the Church and developers. The site required major hardware upgrades. With less than a week to go before launch, the website was still not functional.
One problem was so difficult that Vignette experts were called in for support, but the result was many of hours of work with no success. Ultimately, the consultants gave up and went back to their hotel, at which point the remaining team members made it a matter of prayer. Within a half an hour, ideas came in and the problem was solved.
On June 30, Elder L. Tom Perry pushed a button that launched the website publically.
By July 2000, the website had over 20,000 users per day. Later that year, the Church launched additional language capability for Newsroom and the LDS Catalog.
The Meetinghouse Locator not only provided support to the members but also made the Church realize that many of the addresses were out of date and wrong.
In July, the stake and ward websites were first piloted and released to the general membership.
In October 2001, in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Church launched www.mormon.org, designed specifically for those who are not members of the Church. It was previously called “Sharing the Gospel.”
The Young Women’s general presidency helped design email pass-along cards to invite people to learn about the gospel. Elder Dallin H. Oaks announced these cards and the new website in general conference.
Within one minute of his announcement, the servers became overloaded. The IT team realized that the outage had been caused by the number of cards being sent out by individuals who were supposed to be listening to the rest of Elder Oaks’ talk.
In December 2001, the “Places to Visit” section on LDS.org was added. (Interestingly, today the “Places to Visit” section is used mostly by mobile devices.)
Country Websites were added in 2002, which allowed countries to use templates to create language-specific websites.
The Perpetual Education Fund content was also added, along with temple open house reservation systems in 2002, starting first with the Nauvoo temple.
Also in 2002, LDS.org went down for three days due to some tables that were deleted in a database. During the outage, backups failed and a new program was created to ensure that major outages would never happen again.
Another redesign was in the making in 2003. The current website was getting too crowded, and the Church developed fly-out menus and trained all developers to use Java.
In 2007, LDS.org 2.0 website was launched.
The redesign changes from the original site to version 2.0 resulted in a lot of usability questions. With this in mind, the LDS.org 2.0 website was left up when the LDS.org 3.0 was released in November 2010. As a result, the transition to 3.0 went relatively smoothly.
The newest version of LDS.org uses an XML database with XQuery for accessing data. LDS.org 3.0 has much more advanced technology and now includes Calendar, Directory, Maps, and other tools, all of which use the internal Java stack.
The history of LDS.org has been full of prayerful and inspiration-driven experiences. The site has evolved along with the Web, often solving problems in innovative and award-winning ways. LDS.org has become a key method of spreading the gospel using modern tools, blessing the lives of members and non-members throughout the world.
Many advances in technology have been embraced by the Church to help the gospel fill the earth. This two-part series of articles tells the story of LDS.org, the Church’s flagship website.
The Church had always made extensive use of the telegraph to send and receive messages, but the first foray into a public arena was on May 6, 1922 when President Heber J. Grant delivered the first Church broadcast message over the first radio station in Utah, KZN (now KSL). This message was given for the formal dedication of the station.
In October 1924, general conferences began to be broadcast, by radio. Early the next year, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began performing, via radio, with rehearsals on Thursday evenings. Their weekly broadcasts started July 15, 1929. The program, known as Music and the Spoken Word, is now the oldest continuous broadcast in American radio.
In April, 1941 the 111th General Conference was broadcast for the first time by radio and TV stations outside of Utah. Prior to that, KSL TV and Radio had undertaken to broadcast conference within Utah.
It wasn’t until April 1952 that the priesthood session of general conference was carried by telephone to stake centers and other buildings outside of Temple Square. (In 2013 the Priesthood Session was broadcast on KBYU-TV and streamed over the internet as well as through the Church Satellite System.) In 1963, languages other than English and Spanish were broadcast (German and Portuguese) as WRUL broadcast the 133rd Annual General Conference.
In 1979 the broadcasts of general conference was taken into space as the first satellite broadcasts were used. But it wasn’t until 1997 when the Church really established its first official website, LDS.org, with real content.
A Church employee bought the domain name “LDS.org” before the Church considered an online presence. The first official site rolled out in December 1996, consisting of just two pages (one was a media guide from the Public Affairs Department of the Church, and the other was a page where users were directed to call a toll free number to get a free copy of the Book of Mormon).
The Church’s first official LDS.org website.
By April of 1997 content was added to celebrate the pioneer sesquicentennial, including an interactive map. Until it was taken down in 2012, this was the oldest content on the website.
Interactive map celebrating the pioneer story. Up until sometime after 2012, this was the oldest content on LDS.org.
December 1996 version of LDS.org. The first real LDS.org website with content.
Later in 1997, the Church added content about Joseph Smith and published general conference talks (from the 167th General Conference). General conference addresses were first made available (in English) on LDS.org in late 1997. Other languages followed in 1998.
General conference addresses first published on LDS.org in 1997
In 1999, the Church started making plans to deliver a live broadcast of general conference over the Internet. The Church developed a spinoff company, MSTAR.net, to develop the site and worked with Real Networks to broadcast general conference. It was the biggest event ever for Real Networks, and the second largest Internet broadcast at the time.
The first session of that 1999 October General Conference surpassed all of Real Networks’ expected traffic and overloaded the whole network. Thankfully, the IT staff added more servers and fixed the issues by the second session. Feedback was tremendous and came from all over the world. Many people wrote about the great joy and privilege of being able to listen to the prophet live for the very first time.
Also in 1999, LDS.org was redesigned. A splash screen was added, and the content reflected the missions of the Church.
At this point, all website content had to be approved by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, a process that limited the Church’s ability to publish material. An Internet task group was organized to provide leadership and direction to the future of the Church’s websites.
This is the end of part one covering the development of the Church’s public face via technology, from the radio to the LDS.org website (1996 to 1999). Part two picks up at the turn of the 21st century and brings us up to date.
Are you interested in the latest techniques used by the Church to spread the gospel message? The Church uses sophisticated and media-savvy marketing methods to contact as many people as possible, no matter the type of media they prefer.
Michael Colemere, managing director of Communication Services for the Church, spoke about the four elements of a successful communications strategy the Church is using at the latest LDSTech broadcast, which was live streamed and recorded on May 2, 2014. This insightful presentation revealed many aspects of the Church’s digital messaging plan.
At the broadcast, Brother Colemere gave details of direction he received from General Authorities of the Church as well as the four elements his department has developed for the Church’s communication strategy: 1) Who we are trying to reach (the audience); 2) What we want to communicate (the message); 3) Where our audiences consume information (the channel); and 4) How we can best format the messages (the packaging).
Each broadcast is recorded, so if you missed this one, or any other, you can re-watch the recording at any time. In fact, if you tuned in late to the broadcast, you could rewind and play it from the beginning. See this broadcast, or any other, in LDSTech’sBroadcast Archive. Here are a few recent ones:
Presenter & Topic
Michael Colemere - Four Elements of Successful Communications Strategies
Mel Broberg - Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL)
Clayton Christensen, considered the world’s leading management thinker, discussed ‘Disruptive Technology’ at an LDSTech broadcast that included the Church’s IT department on April 5, 2013. He pointed out how LDSTech has taken this concept to heart.
Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth. His ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world.
He is also the best-selling author of nine books, including one of his most recent books, The Power of Everyday Missionaries. One, The Innovator’s Dilemma, received the Global Business Book Award as the best business book of the year in 1997 and was named by The Economist, in 2011, as one of the six most important books about business ever written.
“Companies make two levels of technology,” Christensen said. The first level “makes sustaining technologies that make good products better.” He illustrated by telling the history of PC processors, which back in the 1980s “couldn’t keep up with most typists’ fingers,” but now processor speeds have increased tremendously and can handle so much more than the Intel 286 chip, once considered so powerful.
The next level of company technology is one that uses what he called disruptive innovations or disruptive technologies. These are innovations that that make something so much more affordable and simple that larger and broader populations of customers can have access to it.
An example he used was Digital Equipment, a very successful company in the 1970s and into 1980s that had a brilliant management team. They were successful until 1988, when they “dropped off the cliff” in the business sense and dramatically failed, because of the decisions of that same management team.
But Digital wasn’t the only one in that time period that failed. The companies that made mini-computers “all failed at the same time.” These were well known and respected companies, like Prime, Data General, Hewlett-Packard, Wang, Honeywell, and more.
“Here’s what happened,” said Christensen: “When management looked out the window they saw everyone was buying personal computers. Remember,” he said, “this was a time when personal computers were crummy.”
This gave Digital’s management a hard choice:
Make better products, to sell for better profits to their best customers.
Make what they see as ‘worse’ products.
“It is just a very difficult thing for smart people to do what doesn’t really make sense at the time,” Christensen said.
Restoration of Questions
Christensen brought up the Restoration of the Gospel as an example of the Lord’s disruptive technology. The idea that we could do remarkable things was the basis of the Restoration, he stated.
Until a 14 year-old boy asked which church he should join, religion had stopped asking questions of heaven. Joseph Smith asked a simple question and he got a simple answer. When Joseph prayed again, he asked a question and Moroni was sent several times (repetition is a basic gospel principle). “Step by step, question by question he got answers. The Restoration was Restoration of Questions!”
Brother Christensen gave the large audience a historical quiz, asking who invented Sunday School or Primary in the LDS Church, who gave us Family Home Evenings, Institutes, Missionary Lessons, etc. HE explained that Sunday School came from Brother Valentine in 1859 doing it in his home on 2nd West and 2nd South in Salt Lake City until Brigham Young heard about it and standardized it for the whole Church.
Sister Rogers in Farmington started Primary when she wanted to create boys worthy to marry her daughters and, again, Brigham Young adopted it for the Church.
Family Home Evening was the idea of a Stake President in Richfield in 1912.
Institutes came from a professor at the University of Idaho (Br. Sessions) until President Heber J. Grant developed it into the LDS Institutes of Religion.
Missionary Lessons came from a BYU professor. When he was a zone leader in the Northwestern States Mission, he wrote six lessons that became known as the ‘Anderson Plan.’
“Do you see a pattern here? Almost all programs and institutions of the Church come from the members like you and me,” he said. “That’s the way it works in the Church. People in the peripheries develop the solutions to the problems. When it is solved the Church gives it a place to stick. Doctrine and Covenants 58 tells us we need to be actively engaged in solving problems. I’m worried about those who don’t solve problems.” And then he complimented the people in his audience by saying, “You are solving problems every day, right here. And you get the most important insights as you solve problems at the core.” Christensen closed his discussion with his testimony.
To see all he said, check out the LDSTech Broadcast Archive to watch the April 2013 Broadcast.
LDSTech, as Christensen said above, is already performing disruptive technology. There are opportunities to serve in the LDSTech community right from your home. Those interested in part-time or full-time Church Service Mission (CSM) opportunities can contact the CSM Coordinators at (801) 842-4771, or e-mail them at
. You could also fill out the LDSTech Missionary Form.
If you have language skills and are interested in becoming Area Technology Specialists in countries outside of the U.S. (Korea, Dominican Republic, Central and South America, etc.) contact the ATS Coordinators at 801-240-6226 or email them at
You can check out the current CSM Opportunities on lds.org/callings/missionary/churchservice or servicemission.ldschurch.org/csm-public/home.jsf.