Speeding Up a Slow Computer

Computer issues are hard enough to endure but when you live overseas and face the prospect of having to allow  technicians to change the language settings to work on the computer…and you have no idea what they are doing or if you will be able to even operate the computer after it is returned…then computer issues can be maddening (although I was once reminded by my pastor when I was helping him with his computer, that computer problems can contribute to your sanctification if you allow them too).

Recently, my husband and I fixed laptops for a couple of “family” members who had “issues” with them.  In the process, we used a tool that has a “free” version that is very helpful at cleaning up “trash”  that accumulates on a computer overtime as one uses the internet and moves around files and programs. The program also can detect known viruses. If your computer seems a little slow or you have owned it for more than a year or two, then your desktop or laptop might benefit from a “spring cleaning”. The wonderful program is called CCleaner. Listed below are instructions for downloading  and running CCleaner on your computer.Read more

DonorElf Web App Helps You Track Donors

donor-elfHow much time do you spend monitoring  donations or better yet trying to figure out what is coming in and how much you more you need to raise?  If you are not a numbers person, then these kinds of tasks eat away at your energy. They drain you of your creativity and zeal. Face it, most missionaries would rather be out with people than sitting at a desk tracking numbers. Think about what would happen if you had most of that time back to…..talk to new donors, cultivate relationships, or do other ministry.

DonorElf can help take the frustration out of knowing exactly how much monthly support you have at any given time. DonorElf keeps track of your donations and your donors.  DonorElf is not a complicated computer program for geeks – it is a website application for real people.  If you can use Facebook or Gmail, DonorElf is for you.  The application can even download donation information from your missions agency.  For $12 per month, its features include donations, pledges, progress toward goals, mailing list /contact management, reports, lost donor tracking, and more.  A small price to pay for a chunk of your time and a bit of your sanity back!

Check it out at DonorElf.com

Managed Missions Helps Manage Your Trip

If you are looking for a way to stay on top of the tasks, finances, plans, and other details for your short-term missions trip, check out ManagedMissions.  It is a website that allows you to communicate with your team members, manage expenses, track donations, track task completion, and more.  At the price of $15/trip for one trip, or $15/month for multiple trips, it is an affordable option for churches and ministries.

Frontline SMS

In many parts of the world, the mobile phone is the equivalent of the laptop computer in the West.  In Africa, Asia, and other areas many people who do not have access to computers and internet use their mobile phones to connect with each other and share information.  Unlike expensive smartphones, which often require post-paid contracts and data plans, SMS (short message service), or text messaging, is within the grasp of most mobile phone users.  A text is easy and affordable to send and requires only a basic pre-paid service.  Often it is free to receive text messages and some carriers offer email to SMS gateways.  Many missionaries find text messaging to be a simple and affordable to communicate with those they serve.

FrontlineSMS is a free software application for your computer that allows you to send and receive text messages over your computer.  You can link your mobile phone to your computer (desktop, laptop, or netbook) with a cable, or you can use a USB dongle with a SIM card.  Not only can you use your larger keyboard to compose messages, but your messages may be managed in a similar way to an email program.  You can configure distribution lists.  You can also setup a SMS server, where people can text certain keywords to subscribe themselves to a distribution list.  You can also use forms and conduct surveys via SMS and export data to Excel and other programs.

There are several ways missionaries can use FrontlineSMS.  Besides using your netbook to send and receive text messages, here are some ideas.

  • Sending SMS to your team in a distribution list
  • Sending announcements and prayer requests
  • Sending daily scripture passages or encouraging words to a large distribution list
  • Using forms for research and reporting
  • Encouraging pastors and leaders
  • Fielding counseling questions via text messages
  • Bible study accountability reminders

Visit FrontlineSMS.com or watch this video to learn more.

Support Raising Database Tool

Are you looking for a computer program to help you as you raise missionary support?  TntMPD is a free computer program designed by missionaries to help missionaries manage their list of financial partners.  It tracks the key information and giving history of your ministry partners and reminds you to contact them.  It works with Microsoft Outlook and other applications to send email.  It is available in Mac and Windows platforms.   Visit the TntWare website to learn more and download.

Learn How to Use Your Computer by Watching Videos

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Are you trying to learn a new computer program or just keep up with the technology?  Lynda.com is an online video-based training tool.  I recommend Lynda.com to missionaries regularly as they have quality videos that teach many standard applications.  While many computer programmers and graphic artists use Lynda, they also have a good selection of videos for the rest of us.  Videos cover the changes between Office 2007 and Office 2010 and advanced topics such as mail merges and Excel macros.  The cost is $25/month for unlimited classes.

Topics include:

  • Excel
  • Facebook
  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Apps
  • OpenOffice.org
  • Outlook
  • Picasa
  • PowerPoint
  • QuickBooks
  • Quicken
  • Twitter
  • Windows 7
  • Word
  • WordPerfect

Use Dropbox to Sync Your Computers and Gadgets

Do you wish you could have your important computer files on your different computers and backed up online?  Dropbox is a service that places a special folder on all your computers and synchronizes  the contents of that folder constantly so you have your files regardless of which computer you use.  You can also access your Dropbox files online as they are stored securely on Dropbox’s website.  Dropbox works on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and Apple, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices.  Another feature is the ability to easily make a file or photo album publicly viewable on the internet  for family, friends, or co-workers to view.  Your files are actually on each device and on the internet, so this works great in situations where you are offline and need access to your files and when you are away from your computer.  The free service is limited to 2GB, so you will not be able to store everything on Dropbox for free.  Premium accounts start at $99/year for 50GB.  Visit Dropbox.com to learn more and sign-up for free.  More ways to use Dropbox.

Presto Linux: Boot Your Computer Fast

PrestoDo you enjoy waiting two to three minutes for your computer to start-up and shut down?  If not, you may want to look at Presto.  Presto is a Linux distribution that boots in about 15 seconds and shuts down in about 2 seconds.  If you are not familiar with Linux, it is another operating system, like Microsoft Windows or Apple’s  Operating System.  Most Linux distributions are harder to install and use than Windows.  Not so with Presto.  You have to have Windows XP or Vista to install it and it installs like any other Windows program.  After installation, when you boot your computer, you will be asked if you want to run Windows or Presto.  After booting Presto, you will be able to run Mozilla Firefox, Skype, Pidgin Instant Messenger, and OpenOffice.org.  This is a great way to get online fast.  You can access files from the Windows “side” of your computer easily and use common office files like .doc, .xls, and such.  You will find this to be a fast way to get online, surf the web, and check your webmail.  If you don’t like it you can easily uninstall it from Windows without messing up your computer.  The cost is $19.95.  Learn more, download, and buy at PrestoMyPC.com

Google Pack

I remember when I used to compile a list of the essential freeware to install on a new computer.  Now it is much simpler thanks to Google.  Google Pack is a bundle of quality freeware that may be downloaded easily at pack.google.com.  Google Pack includes: Adobe Reader, Firefox with Google Toolbar, Google Earth, Google Desktop, Google Photos Screensaver, Google Talk, Google Toolbar for IE, Norton Security Scan, Picasa, RealPlayer, Skype and StarOffice.