Mobile Video with a Small TV

We went on our first long trip with the new(er) car. For the first time ever we decided to show videos to the kids during the trip. But we didn’t have a portable DVD player.

So I started shopping. We didn’t wants just a single 7″ screen. We knew that would be hard for everyone to see. But the dual screen systems were hard to find, and the ones we were willing to pay for did not get good reviews. We didn’t want to drop $200 for a portable DVD player, since we own 2 video capable iPods and an iPhone. I had ripped all my movies, and didn’t want to carry the DVDs around.

The more I thought about it the more I wanted to utilize video players I already owned. I already had the video out cables for the iPod. I just needed a screen that could take the component video signal. And not draw more power than the small power inverter I have. So, I began to shop for a small screen. After much online research I found a Supersonic 13.3″ LCD TV that only pulled 60 watts for $99.

The 13.3″ screen sports HDMI, VGA, component, S-Video and composite inputs. 1 headphone output. And built in DTv tuners, with a resolution higher enough to display true 720p. But, since it is not truly a TV for the car, how could I mount it?

I tried to use a mount that would hold it between the two headrests. That worked fine, but completely blocked all rear view, and much of the side views out the rear windows. So that would not do. I ended up strapping the screen to the back of the passenger headrest. The size, while only 13″, was too large for comfortable viewing by anyone sitting that the seat right behind it. So we put that seat down and let the 3rd row have a clear view.

We powered the TV off the inverter, and ran videos off the iPod or iPhone. I suppose we could have tried to pull in some OTA TV signals, but we settled for movies. Everything worked great.

The TV doesn’t sport the best picture ever seen. The colors are not that great, and the settings don’t allow for much individual control. Still, for $100 it’s a pretty good screen. The tuner pulls in quite a few channels over the air that my other TVs didn’t. We will probably use it in a spare room when we are not using it on the road.


Letter To God Movie Review

I was privileged to see a prescreening of the film Letters to God, from Possibility Pictures the other day. The film hits theaters April 9th.

I want to encourage you to go see it. Not because it’s the best picture ever made (It isn’t) but because it is one of the best religious films ever made for less than $3 million. It wasn’t made with money from Hollywood. David Nixon, producer who was involved with Facing the Giants and Fireproof, continues the same kind of filmmaking philosophy. Make a film, and then take the momentum and money from the film to make the next. David Nixon Productions has three films in the works, Letters to God is the first to be released. You should go see it just to help the progression of the new model of Christian movie making. In my opinion, this change in model is the best thing to happen to religious films, ever.

The bonus is that you will get to see a decent film while you are at it. From a technical perspective, Letters to God far surpasses Facing the Giants and Fireproof. That is to be expected, since the budget for this movie was six times that of Fireproof. And because of the resources they could pull from many of the actors are professional. Including Bailee Madison from Lonely Hearts and Bridge to Terabithia.

It’s a good story. Moving at times, it doesn’t shy away from real issues. If you have ever lost someone to cancer I can just about guarantee that you will be moved to tears. It’s the story of hope from a hopeless situation. It’s strength from weakness. I left impressed with the movie.

Go see it, and go see it opening weekend!

Looping Video on an iPod/iPhone

It is possible to set your video iPod or iPhone to loop video content.

It is somewhat tricky. There is not a way to simple select “repeat” on a video. But, you can load the video onto the iPod/iPhone and add it to an On-The-Go playlist that can repeat. Simply select the On-The-Go playlist (Later iOS versions don’t call it On-the-Go anymore, just a “playlist”), and then navigate to the video you want to loop. Select and hit “Done”. Then when playing the playlist, make sure it is set to repeat.

Then you can use Apple’s video out cables to drive a kiosk or display, or just keep your kids entertained with repeating videos. You can of course add more than one video to the playlist, and can even set those to shuffle during playback.

Is Facebook Killing the Church?

I stumbled across a very interesting post talking about how social media facilitates social relationships and affiliations and how that affects church attendance. Many people wonder why the “millenials” no longer feel like the need the church. Much of the arguments center around ways the church isn’t relating to people, or is being offensive or hypocritical. The article mentions the book “UnChristian” by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (Baker Books). But the author comes from a different angle.

“Is the church of 2010 much different from the church of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s? I don’t think so. So, yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn’t with the church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how has this change related to the church?”


“So what happened? Why didn’t Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?

The difference between Generations X and Y isn’t in their views of the church. It’s about those cellphones. It’s about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X’ers didn’t have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to truly take off.

So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans (“Let’s get together for dinner this week!”). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of “third places” in America.”

So, I’m still processing this. But let’s say this is all true, how does the church combat the attrition?

First, the Church isn’t supposed to just be about social relationships.

Not primarily. If that is/was what was driving the continued attendance of the congregation, there are some serious issues in the Church. There is a relational aspect to the Church, of course, but we don’t exist to provide friendships alone.

Second, one way to combat this is to stop trying to force the “Church” into the mold we have, and go out to the people.

Much of the traditions of the modern church are not proscribed in scripture. They just have come about over time. I’m not saying we must leave church history and tradition behind, but if some want to… and they have success reaching people, we should support them. Don’t want to do traditional Sunday School? OK. Don’t want worship the same way? Don’t need to own a building? As long as the practices don’t violate scripture, if it’s effective we should use the resources of the traditional church to support ministries and newer style churches that can reach generations we are missing.

Third, We should fix the public image problem the church has.

If books like “UnChristian” and others are right, and the Church has been sidetracked by issues that are not specific to it’s ministry we should fix that. the article’s author doesn’t say that’s not why people are leaving, his premise is that social media has removed the reason they might stay in spite of the issues.

Stop focusing on the things that are not central to the faith. I believe that politics matter and affect society, but the church should wake up to the fact that the only way to truly change a deeply held belief is to change a heart. We don’t have the power to change people’ hearts. Only God can do that. We should focus on making disciples. Helping people meet Jesus and then teaching them the Bible, which should translate to a biblical worldview, and spill over into their politics.

Abortions wouldn’t happen if everyone believed they were wrong. Sexual behavior wouldn’t be an issue if we all thought that the way the Bible tells us to live is the way we should live. Legal solutions for moral issues may help society keep from imploding, but coercion (like through legislation) doesn’t persuade people, it just makes us fall in line until the law changes. My son keeps his shirt tucked in at school; not because he wants to but because he is required to. It comes untucked as soon as he hits the car.

I can lament the loss of a “Christian” nation as much as I want, but no legal or legislative measures will restore that status. Only changed hearts will change the world. The Church should focus on that. We should focus on making disciples, on all the aspects of disciple making.

iPad Goes on Pre-Order, and Apple Releases New Details

Today the iPad was available for pre-order. I saw a tweet from @Macworld talking about some new information Apple has posted on their iPad pages. Most are general information about how the 3G service works, and the iBook store (including the ability to read free ePub titles) But a couple are more technical in nature.

Macworld reports that there is a screen orientation lock switch. handy if you try to read or watch movies in bed. You can sum the audio to mono, helping those who have trouble hearing out of one ear.

The other news is a it bigger, to me anyway. The iPad will support AVI and 720p HD video. From Apple’s site:

TV and video
Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable

H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

This means the iPad supports 720p HD like the Apple TV, and more file formats than any other Apple device. Very nice surprise.

“Tweetup” & NRB

So, at a convention that is primarily about traditional media, I attended my very first “Tweetup”. Conference goers who were using the hashtag #nrb2010 while posting about the convention were invited to a suite rented by one of the exhibitors for a gathering, complete with food. With some amount of trepidation I approached, not knowing what to expect. I am a geek, but even I have limits. This had the potential to be the “geekiest” thing I’d ever done.

Turns out it was just other media professionals hanging out. I met some very nice people, from all kinds of companies and backgrounds. I spoke in person with people I had communicated with via twitter earlier in the day.

The convention has had a lot of conversation about social media, and how traditional media entities can/should be using it to reach the world with the Gospel. So much so that even on twitter someone posted, asking why people were focusing on social media so much at a broadcasting convention. But people are realizing that this highly interactive new media has huge possibilities. As facebook grows, with over 350 million members, it is the 4th largest country in the world. Who is reach those people?

One presenter, Matt Heerema from Desiring God, said that social media is a reality check. We cannot be focused on the medium we use, that it’s isn’t the point. The point of what we do is the message. We must use any and every means available. That is a reality check for people who have devoted their lives to one traditional media. We must branch out, and move beyond traditional media.