My Buddy Just Launched His New Real Estate Website

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you may remember me mentioning my friend Brad Roberts.  Brad has volunteered a ton of time at Faith Promise Church, and together we’ve built our church website and the Internet Campus.  Brad is an amazing website developer and a fantastic friend.

You might not know it, but he’s a part owner of a company called AgentBlaze, and he builds websites for real estate agents.

I did a little bit of contract work for Brad for several months last year – helping as a consultant and project manager as Brad built out the new version of his product, and it’s amazing.  Really.  I’ve seen some terrible real estate websites (both the design and usability), and AgentBlaze is making huge headway to revolutionize the real estate industry – starting in Knoxville and Nashville.

They just released their new product, and if you’re a real estate professional in the Knoxville or Nashville area, do your customers a favor, and check it out.  The best part: you can try it out free for 30 days to see what you think.

Check it out here

Disclaimer: I’m not currently doing contract work for AgentBlaze, and I’m not being paid for this post (in fact, Brad doesn’t even know I’m writing this).  I just believe this product will be a breath of fresh air for many in real estate industry who are looking for something new.

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Impressions of iPhone 4

I’ve owned the iPhone 4 for about a week now, and just in case you’re not sick of hearing all the hype (both positive and negative), here’s my take on things:

1) Screen Resolution

The high-res screen really is amazing.  The images below are screen captures from the iPhone, so you’ll have to imagine these images being squashed down to 1/4th of the size they are on the screen here.

It’s a little bit difficult to explain why this is such a big deal except to show you the clarity of text both when you’re zoomed in close or looking at the full site (I had to crop the image down just to get it to fit on the blog here).

2) Facetime

I realize that video chat is already readily available via webcam and Skype, but by making this available on the phone and matching it up with phone calls, brings a whole new level of usability.  It’s something that even my four year old can easily understand, and it works amazingly well.  Even the audio quality over the speaker phone is crisp and clear.

3) New Design

Even though the flat back of the phone makes it feel thicker, it’s actually significantly thinner than the previous iPhones, and it fits in my pocket much more comfortably.

I do kind of wonder if the hard angles of the phone are going to wear into people’s jeans and leave marks kind of like dip or snuff cans do in people’s back pockets.

4) Battery Life

For me, the verdict is still out on the battery life.  Sometimes I think I’m getting just the same amount of life as my previous iPhone, but sometimes I think it’s much better.  Time will tell.

5) Speed

My old 3G was a turtle compared to this thing.


Apple has once again rolled new features into their new phone without compromising in usability.  From this one device I can call, email, text, check the web, run a ton of great apps, shoot video, take photos, and read books.  Batman never had it this good.

UPDATE 6/30/10:

Today, I took a look at the Places feature of the Photo App.  Amazing to see all of my photos taken on the phone located on a world map with links back to the photos.  Here’s a close up of what I’m talking about:

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iPhone 4

I have to admit that I’m a little bit excited about iPhone 4 being released this Thursday.  From everything I’ve seen, it’s going to be an amazing phone.

There’s no doubt that it has a great set of features and awesome specs, but our hearts so easily forget that it’s just a phone.  Without even trying, we can be duped into thinking that this phone will quench some longing in our souls.

If that happens to describe you, and you happened to stumble across this post, I want to let you know that a greater joy is available.

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Rolling Out a New Internet Campus Design

We’re planning to relaunch our Internet Campus this weekend.  We worked with a fantastic design company to improve our interface and arrange things so that people will have an easier time finding their way around the features.  Like normal, my good friend, Brad Roberts built out the site, and we’ve both been amazed to see the project come together.

Some of the new features include:

  • Greater emphasis on the chat room, built from scratch so that it will include all the features we’ve wanted for a while.  Most importantly, it no longer requires the Java plugin to work.
  • A map that shows all the connections.
  • Easier access to the sharing/invite buttons.
  • And some really cool transitions – opening and closing the chat window as well as “turning down the lights”.

Our biggest hope is that these changes will help more people discover the truth of Jesus and connect to the growing community of Faith Promise Church.

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Google Chrome

If you haven’t used Google Chrome, Google’s internet browser, you really need to check it out.  It’s very simple and fast, and it’s the primary browser I use at home and the secondary browser I use at work.

The behind the scenes video below is pretty interesting.  It shows the team making some videos to demonstrate the speed of the browser, and it includes a potato gun.  Very nice!

Updated: Here’s the finished video:

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I Heart Domain Names

I can remember when I purchased my first domain name.  It felt a little foolish at the time (and still does, to be completely honest), but it was still neat to purchase  I’ve used it in different ways over the years, but I’ve always been glad I made the purchase when I did.

For several months lately, I’ve considered purchasing a particular available domain name.  I’m happy to say the pondering is over.  I’m now the proud owner of

My plan for now is to use it as a shortcut url to this blog, but I’ve also installed YOURLS on this domain so I can use is as my own url shortener (like for posts on Twitter and Facebook.

PS – There’s no significance to the .fm extension other than I thought it was the coolest sounding option available. :)

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New Internet Campus Service

For a few months now, we’ve had three three worship service times each weekend on our Internet Campus. Starting in May, we’re changing a time and adding a new service to our Sunday lineup:

  • 9:00 am
  • 10:20 am
  • 11:45 am
  • 9:00 pm

Father, please use our church and Internet Campus to bring glory to yourself. All our efforts are for you – that more may know and worship you.

Service times are changing at our Pellissippi Campus too. You can read more about the changes here.

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One Year Later

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since we first launched our Internet Campus at Faith Promise Church. Since then, we’ve seen God work in a powerful way, and we’ve heard many stories of lives being impacted as a result. Although I haven’t included the numbers for the snow weekend where our church met only online (about 750 connections during peak times for each service), this graph does show the increase in people attending online over the past year.

This coming weekend we will have seven performances of Sacred Storm: Final Exam on our physical campus and six broadcasts online. I pray that over this weekend we will break new ground and see record numbers of people attend online and make important spiritual next step decisions.

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Doing Church Online

The other day I happened to have a phone conversation with the pastor and author Douglas Estes. When I got off the phone, I knew that I needed to check out his book, titled SimChurch. I finished the book last night, and I have to say that it took me by surprise.

Honestly, when I first came across the book, I thought it was just another debate about whether or not the church can really meet online. I was very wrong.

This book has challenged me in a huge way. He brings up so many important concerns and ideas that hadn’t crossed my mind before.

Here’s one of many quotes that really made a bit impact on me:

…a recent survey of virtual-world citizens found that 50 percent of people surveyed don’t even believe the virtual world has sin in it. Why? Because it’s not real. Here the church is poised to fail big-time – to drop a ball of monumental proportions. Here’s how it will play out. As tens of millions of people flock to virtual worlds, traditional Christians who fear change in the church at large will see alarmist headlines about the virtual world and will dismiss the virtual world as one big sinful fantasy, as being not real. They will turn the virtual world over to its own devices, and tens of millions of people – with no true ethical compass – will embrace greater free agency and then write their own rules on what is right and what is wrong. Before long, sin in the virtual world will start to redefine [people’s perception of] sin in the real world; what’s permissible in the virtual world will start to seem less wrong in the real world. After a generation passes, new church leaders will ask, “How did we get into this mess?”

It’s a well-written book, and it has bolstered my passion for the Faith Promise Internet Campus. I’m very grateful for Douglas Estes’ thoughtful observations, and I’d highly recommend it to any pastoral staff who are interested in making a greater impact online.

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Worshipping Together, Despite the Snow

Less than a year ago, Faith Promise took a new step of faith and started an Internet Campus. This weekend, because of ice and snow, we were forced to cancel our services on our Pellissippi Campus, and all of our weekend services happened exclusively online.

Here’s how it all played out: On Thursday, the weather report predicted massive amounts of ice and snow for the area, and since Pastor Chris already had the message ready to go, we set up cameras in the Worship Center, and he preached to four cameras and an empty room.

After he was done, our video guy, Matt James, edited the video to include the weekend announcements as well as several songs from a recent Wednesday night worship service. All of this was done before the weather got bad – just in case the weather forecast was right.

When the ice made our hill-top campus inaccessible, and we canceled all Pellissippi Campus services, Brad Roberts helped me rewire the iCampus for six worship services.

The services online went very well, and Pastor Chris got to experience the iCampus for the first time. It was really great to see he and his wife take an active role in the chat room over the weekend.

Online numbers are difficult to judge since each video connection likely represents multiple people – especially when people are snowed in at home. From what I can tell, I’d guess that at least one third of our congregation (and possibly over half) connected online over the weekend.

Crazy stuff! Who would have ever guessed that a whole congregation would be worshiping together online?

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