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Tech and Small Groups Plus Pixel XL: Theotek Podcast 083

How can technology help in your small group ministry? We examined some ways that tech can help you with a more dynamic small group discipleship ministry. This focused on three areas, content, organization and the small group meeting time.

In our discussion of using tech in small groups ministry, we got the following recommendations:

  • Consider using digital study materials since they are easier to distribute and in the case of free resources easy to share using something like an online storage or sharing tool.
  • A flipped classroom approach where the group members watch a lecture or video at home and then come together to discuss it focuses more on discussion and relationships instead of putting one person at the center of the group.
  • Shared calendars help keep everyone together for meeting times and reminders about tasks they’re asked to do before meetings or after meetings.
  • Use some sort of community builder software especially if your church small group has access to a Church Management System.
  • Facebook Groups or Slack Chat can help with communication among the group.
  • Use a service like Call Them All to get word to group members quickly, if you don’t use the previous things on this list.
  • Set up reminders in iOS or Android for daily devotions or other regular activities that group members need to do.
  • You could even use Google Hangouts to host the group online like we do with the Theotek Podcast.
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Google Pixel and Pixel XL

We also took a look at the Google Pixel XL Phone. I shared my early review after a week’s uses.

The things that set this phone apart include the following:

  • Great battery with longer than all-day life
  • A nice AMOLED screen
  • Excellent camera (see image below)
  • Fast Snapdragon 821 processor
  • Excellent build quality
  • USB Type-C charging
  • Android Nougat 7.1
google pixel xl camera sample
Notice the rich colors and great range of exposure from bright sky to dark shadows all with lots of detail.

In Our Favorite Things, we got recommendations from Antoine and LaRosa. Here’s what they offered.

OURA Smart Ring

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The OURA Smart Ring focuses on health over communication.

The OURA Smart Ring focuses on health over communication. In fact it doesn’t offer notifications. Instead the sensors in the ring track your health using things like sleep, activity, heart rate, body temp, and your movement. The companion app will give you recommendations based on what it finds.

The OURA Smart Ring isn’t cheap at $300. It comes in three styles. Antoine Wright loves his and recommends it despite the cost.

Moxiware Apple Pencil Magnet

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Notice how the Apple Pencil holds to the side of the iPad Pro thanks to the Apple Pencil Magnet from Moxiware.

LaRosa’s a recent Apple iPad Pro buyer and so he recommended something to help him hold his Apple Pencil. The Moxiware Apple Pencil Magnet is like a sleeve that slides on to the Apple Pencil and magnetically grabs hold of the iPad Pro, kind of like the Surface Pen with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book line and their new Surface Studio desktop they just announced. The Magnet’s not that expensive at only $16.95.

Internet Rumors and the Truth About Burning Galaxy Note 7: Theotek Podcast #082

Recently I recommended the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 as a favorite thing, but now Samsung’s pulling the phone after the replacement phones are now burning up. A few replacement models seemed to have burned up now in the US.

We talked about the Samsung recall for the first third of the show. Then we got to an interesting discussion about how to find the truth about Internet rumors using online truth sites. Some of the most popular sites like this include Snopes.com, Urban Legends and Truth or Fiction. For political rumors there’s Fact Check.

We record the Theotek Podcast every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.. The best way to get a notification when we go live is to subscribe to our YouTube Channel or our Twitter Feed. You can also just come to this site. Below you’ll find the audio version. The podcast link above shows where to download the audio version or how to subscribe using iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Soon we’ll be included in the Google Play Store’s Podcasting section.

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Google Machine Announces Pixel Phone and More: Theotek Podcast #081

Google announced their new hardware in an event held on October 4. During the event they announced Pixel phones, Google Home, Google Wi-Fi and a new Google Chromecast. The Theotek team talked about the new devices and shared our opinions. Are they desirable for people wanting a new phone or other gadgets? Watch the podcast below or listen to it at the end of this post. Below the podcast is a list of what they offered with a few details and links to their store to order them.

Pixel and Pixel XL Phones

These two phones will run Android 7.1 operating system. That makes them the most up-to-date Android phones on the market. They hold 5 or 5.5-inch screens powered by the newest Snapdragon 821 processor. Throw in 32GB or 128GB or storage.

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The announcement event also included the new Google Assistant, a form of their Google Now service akin to Apple’s Siri. It’s a chatbot essentially and helps people find things, control their phone with voice and look up pertinent information like movie times, directions, appointments and more. It’s pretty nifty looking.

The 12MP camera on the back got the highest rating from DXOMark, a camera rating service. The company will give users free unlimited Photo storage for the full resolution photos and 4K video the phone can shoot.

They look drool-worthy and I’ve seriously considered picking up the Google Pixel. Right now they’re backordered and buyers can’t get one till some time in November if they order directly from the company’s device store. Verizon customers might get one sooner, but they’ll also likely get a phone riddled with Verizon apps they can’t get rid of and they won’t get OS updates as soon as the unlocked versions sold the device store.

Google Home

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Next up we talked about Google Home ($129). This Amazon Echo or Amazon Alexa replacement works like a voice activated search appliance and speaker. I wrote a post comparing the Amazon Alexa and the Home over at GottaBeMobile.

The Google Home connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi and listens for the user to say “Ok Google” like they would on their Android phone or with the Chrome browser on a computer. Search for things like weather, news, local sports scores, nearby movie times, restaurants and more. Also interact with your their services like your Calendar or To Do list. Play music or send videos to your Chromecast connected to a TV.

The speaker on the Google Home looks nice and the mic that listens for your voice should work really well. There’s a mute button to turn off the listening anytime you want.

Google Wi-Fi

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Our host Wes Allen got excited about Google Wi-Fi because it’s a Wi-Fi router that hooks up to your Internet router and then sends the signal throughout your house or office. Get one for $129 or three for $300. If you get three you can set them up as a mesh network which helps offer a strong Wi-Fi connection in larger homes or buildings. That’s why Wes got interested. He’s been looking for a good Mesh network.

Google Chromecast Ultra

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The Google Chromecast was one of the most popular “set-top” streaming devices when it showed up a few years ago. I think it had more to do with the $35 price than the functionality. However, taking advantage of that popularity, they’re testing the market by upping the price to $69 on their new Chromecast Ultra while adding 4K and HDR support. It still plugs in to and HDMI port. Get’s power from the USB port on a TV or you can plug it in via an AC adapter. This time around they added an Ethernet port to help with the 4K and HDR streaming bandwidth.

Daydream View

Google Cardboard started almost as a joke or more likely an experiment. However, it took off and helped kick off the VR craze today. The search company announced a competitor to the Samsung VR for $20 less. The Daydream View ($79) holds your Google Pixel phone, the only one that works with it for now, and lets the user enjoy VR content like 360-degree videos or images and games. The device comes with a motion sensing remote to help with gaming controls and video controls.

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This kind of device offers some interesting possibilities for believers. Imagine 360-degree views of the temple or Jerusalem. A church could give a 360-degree tour of their facilities or stream their worship in 360-degree video so viewers can not only see what’s going on up on the platform, but also see the audience.

 

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The Value of Free Stuff: Theotek Podcast #080

Sometimes churches or believers can’t afford the high-end or expensive option in many categories like Bible software or web services, so we’ve got some of the best free stuff or free alternatives for you. We shared our favorite freebies that churches, pastors, and believers can use to help build the kingdom of God in their context without wrecking their wallet or bank account balance.

Below the video you’ll see the list of freebies starting with the Bible Software free stuff and then a simple list of the other free stuff we talked about in this episode of the Theotek Podcast.

Bible Study Free Stuff

e-Sword is the best free Bible study app available. They make both PC version and a Mac version, that’s not free but really inexpensive.

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Sticking with Bible study Rick Mansfield showed off the free Accordance Mobile app, which people can download on their iPhone or iPad and get a ton of free content, especially if you sign up for a free user account with Accordance. Rick showed off the great ESV interlinear Bible available in the app.

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Antoine showed us his favorite Bible app called Verse3. We had the developer of Verse3 on show #044. It’s not free, but only costs $5.

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Olive Tree offers a free version of their Bible app for almost every platform you could want. Download the app on your computer or mobile device, get some free content and then, if you prefer, add some premium content later as needed.

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Olive Tree Bible app

I showed off some free online Bible study sites that I wrote about a while ago in a two-part series. Here’s part two.

Finally, LaRosa also reminded us that WORDsearch, his former employer, offers what used to be called Bible Explorer. It’s now called WORDsearch Basic and it’s now their free option.

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The Other Free Stuff

Here’s our list of other Free Stuff to help you do your work for free or almost free.

  • WordPress website management system also called a content management system or CMS. You can set up a free website and even buy a domain from a company like Hover that will forward that domain to your free WordPress site.‘
  • YouTube for video hosting and for playing videos. Find tons of content from entertainment to music to educational content all on YouTube. Of course we use it to stream our Theotek Podcast.
  • Microsoft Sway is a great presentation app that lets users share images and pictures. Think of it as a PowerPoint or Keynote alternative for online presentations.
  • Facebook Live lets you record and host live video which people can then find later in recorded form on your Facebook wall.
  • Libre Office offers a full free office suite with alternatives for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.
  • Google gives away tons of free tools, including free office software like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.

iPhone 7

We ended the show discussing the new iPhone 7, which Rick and I both had our hands on. I did an unboxing of the wrong phone. Watch me get totally disappointed because T-Mobile screwed up and sent me an iPhone 7 instead of the iPhone 7 Plus I actually ordered. Watch the above video to hear what Rick thinks of his iPhone 7 Plus.