Newsletter: December 2009

Merry Christmas

We want to extend our holiday greetings and thank you for participating in the ever-growing LDSTech community.

Over the last year we have seen a tremendous growth in activity on the LDSTech Web site. Here are some exciting statistics representing our growth.

  • Forum registrations have increased by 63% this year.
  • Over 15,000 new posts since the beginning of the year.
  • The LDSTech Wiki continues to grow with over 1384 pages and files.
  • LDSTech community projects have expanded to include10 new mobile applications in development.

We have a lot planned for 2010 and expect our growth to continue. We thank you for being a part of this exciting community.


Meetinghouse Webcast Software Beta Begins

Meetinghouse Webcast is the official solution for local units of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to broadcast meetings over the Internet to other locations. Webcast technology provides an alternative to travel for stake conferences, regional conferences, firesides, and training meetings.

In February 2009, the Church released the Meetinghouse Webcast Communicator. The Communicator includes the hardware and software needed to encode and send a webcast stream. To meet the needs of those with custom hardware configurations, the Church is now beta testing a software-only solution for use on Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7.

To learn more, please visit the Webcast Software Beta page.


From the Archives

The Next Generation of LDS Maps
by Jonathan Fowlke

In the summer of 2008, the Church released a new version of the Meetinghouse Locator known as LDS Maps. Whereas the previous version of Meetinghouse Locator required users to drill-down through multiple static pages, LDS Maps has a single dynamic, interactive world map. Now, after more than two million visitors to LDS Maps and thousands of suggestions, we are preparing for the nearby release of LDS Maps 2.0. The pre-release beta can be accessed by going to https://beta-maps.lds.org. Note: this is a pre-release version, the final version will be released sometime next year. Any comments or feedback should be submitted electronically through the "Feedback" link in the upper right corner of the application.

The new version takes the best of the original release and adds an abundance of feature enhancements. One of the new features is the ability for Church members to login with their LDS Account and see their own ward membership and ward boundaries. This makes it easier to find directions to any member in the ward. Members can download a file containing the coordinates of all their ward members and import them into most GPS devices.

Read full article.


Community Projects Status

We have a lot of projects being developed with the help of the community. Some of the more active ones are:

  • Local Unit Web Site Project: A community project to replace the existing local unit Web site.
  • Mormon Channel Project: With the successful launch of the Mormon Channel iPhone application, people have been requesting a similar service for many other devices.
  • Church Historical Timeline Project: The Church Historical Timeline Application is intended to present personal, church, and world history in a visual chronology and enable the user to scroll through time and click on individual events to get more information, links to scriptures and wiki pages to learn more about a given historical event.
  • We have a new wiki page that lists many of the community projects. This page acts as a summary to the many community projects that we can use help on. Visit the wiki and search for Community Projects.

If you have a desire to collaborate with the Church on technology solutions, your help is needed and appreciated. Visit our Current Needs wiki page to see a list of projects we are seeking help with. If you would like to help on any projects, please follow the instructions found on our Getting Involved with Projects wiki page.


Community Spotlight

JD Lessley (username: jdlessley) has been a valued community member in the LDSTech forums for over a year. We are excited to spotlight him for the month of December.

LDSTech: What is your technical background?

jdlessley: My introduction to computers was in 1972 on a Burroughs 5500 using punch cards and the Fortran programming language while attending the United States Air Force Academy. In 1982 my military duties required me to learn DOS 1.0, an early spread sheet program, and a basic word processing program on a Cromemco desktop computer. Ever since then I have been immersed in keeping up with the technologies of personal computing. Following my retirement from the Air Force in 1994 I supplemented my income in financial services by building and repairing personal computers and small local networks. My experiences in programming over the past fifteen years has been learning—for personal projects—Basic, Visual Basic, C and C++.

LDSTech: How did you find LDSTech?

jdlessley: I had been a stake technology specialist and stake Web site administrator for over a year when I received an e-mail from Tom Welch in February 2008 announcing the LDSTech forums. I had not been aware that LDSTech even existed before then. Once that doorway was opened I was pleased to see the amazing growth of not only LDSTech but all Church Web sites over the past few years.

LDSTech: What do you enjoy most about LDSTech?

jdlessley: I enjoy the community. It is a community with a great deal of experience, talent, ideas, and openness; as well as a collaborative approach to problem solving. The world of technology is rapidly growing and changing. Using technology in accomplishing the work of the Lord can be difficult yet greatly rewarding because the doctrine and principles of the Gospel are constant and unchanging while the tools of technology we use in furthering the work is in a constant state of change. LDSTech promotes communication and the development and use of technology as a tool.

LDSTech: What potential do you think LDSTech has? Do you have any ideas for the site?

jdlessley: Communication and collaboration in working issues and developing ideas are essential to bring together such a vast and varied family across the world. Technology not only provides the tools necessary to accomplish this but also contributes to the need. LDSTech is a resource for communication and collaboration. From my tiny spot on the earth it gives me a portal to the rest of the world in finding answers but also an outlet for service to others. I am sure it is the same for others. As I have witnessed the growth in the purpose and scope of LDSTech it is evident that it is rapidly becoming an indispensable resource for many engaged in the Lord's work.

The LDSTech Forums and Wiki provide the essential parts of near real-time communication and information sharing. I really like the idea that if an issue arises in my calling or any other's calling dealing with technology the answer is either available or there is someone on the "other end" that can help. Tapping the many talents of a large, vastly diverse volunteer membership to expand the core of Church employees for Church-sponsored technology projects in a collaborative community is an inspired concept that allows the Church to expand well beyond the limitations of commercial enterprises and their personnel budgets. The fruit of such projects now permit and will yet permit the Church to provide tools to help leaders and members in ministering and administering in ways never before possible in such a large organization.

Before my experience with LDSTech I was not really aware of the issues or programs needed to bring the programs and work of the Church to other countries with different cultures, laws, languages, and economic conditions. It is through LDSTech and the collaboration of a community of volunteers and professionals that these issues and programs can be worked through and developed. The foremost concern I have for LDSTech is accessibility and exposure to more of the Church membership. Unless someone stumbles across the site or is told by someone else of the site most members will remain unaware. The link to the site from lds.org is buried in a menu path on the home page that keeps certain groups from discovering the site. Sisters and Aaronic Priesthood holders are less likely to look in the Serving in the Church > Melchizedek Priesthood > Clerk and Technology Support. Even some brethren are hesitant to explore Clerk and Technology Support if their calling is in another area. Expanding the exposure to membership outside just clerks has the potential to increase the benefits of use and contribution by a larger body of members. While I don't have a proposed solution or insight into use by membership outside the United States and Canada it is apparent that if worldwide participation were to increase then the benefits to the Church as well as the membership would also increase. Keeping language barriers in mind it might even be beneficial to have similar sites in other languages. I would also like to see continued improvement from the Church in providing official responses to questions and issues addressed in the forums and all Church Web sites' feedback feature. There has been a growing improvement ever since the issue was raised from members in the forums but there is still considerable need for communication. This will take time but the payoff and peace of mind will be great.

 

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