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Writing a Password Policy

Passwords have been around for as long as the internet has, and if you count your ATM pin codes, even longer. They were used in Roman times and were critically important in the Battle of Normandy…a battle my father fought in. Here is an interesting snippet from Wikipedia.

Passwords in military use evolved to include not just a password, but a password and a counterpassword; for example in the opening days of the Battle of Normandy, paratroopers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division used a password—flash—which was presented as a challenge, and answered with the correct response—thunder. The challenge and response were changed every three days. American paratroopers also famously used a device known as a “cricket” on D-Day in place of a password system as a temporarily unique method of identification; one metallic click given by the device in lieu of a password was to be met by two clicks in reply. (click for full article)

We use passwords for our home alarm systems, to get into our bank accounts, and to retrieve email. They secure our 401K’s, tax returns and photo libraries. They are important. And increasingly so as we personally, and as non-profit organizations are under constant attack by those who’d love to get into our stuff. But how many of us know how to write a strong password security policy? If you are responsible for your organizations security, you need to know.

Password Policy Template

I ran across an excellent blog post over the weekend that should help your thinking when crafting a good password policy for your ministry team or faculty. It was called Password Policy Template, but it offered more than just that. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Password Creation
    • A password should be unique, with meaning only to the employee who chooses it.
    • Employees must choose unique passwords for all of their company accounts, and may not use a password that they are already using for a personal account.
    • All passwords must be changed regularly, with the frequency varying based on the sensitivity of the account in question.
  • Protecting Passwords
    • Employees may never share their passwords with anyone else, period!
    • Employees must refrain from writing passwords down and keeping them at their workstations.

There were other nice tips there as well. Read the article for more.

Related resources

Complex Password Generators:
Good Articles:

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Reformation Resources Roundup

On this very special day – October 31, 2017 – WELSTech celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation with a collection of Reformation resources for use in ministry and personal settings.

Fun & Educational

Books

Multi-Media

Video

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More Favorite Productivity Tips: Cleaning Up Your Desktop

Being in the technology business for many years means I have seen a lot of computer screens and a lot of user desktops. While I have never done a scientific study, I’d guess that an easy majority of them are so full and seemingly disorganized that the user probably knows where a few key files are, but the rest…forget about it. It seems that “desktop” is a dumping ground, home base, halfway house, and miscellaneous whatever, all rolled in to one. At times I’ve been guilty of it too. My ministry productivity quotient went way up however when I finally followed these three simple tips to a healthier desktop.

Tip One: Your desktop should be reserved for documents you need to have one click access to.

Not all documents are created equal, and their relative importance can change over time. Take a look at your desktop right now and identify at least one document you haven’t opened, looked at or otherwise thought about in the last three months. Find any? If you did, it’s like trying to drive down the road and having abandoned cars just sitting there, in your way, slowing you down. Why are they there? Why aren’t they parked in someone’s garage, or towed away, or taken to the dump?

It’s your job to keep the path between you and your destinations as fast and friction free as possible. Not littered with all kinds of things that are just taking up space, making you look at them over and over again for no good reason. And then each time you look at them you think, “I should really clean this place up.” What a waste of brainpower. Knowledge workers like you need clear, distraction free paths to your work. Not an obstacle course. Clear those unneeded or unused documents away. Put them in folders. Delete them. Take a few hours. They’re digital. It won’t take long. You won’t even need to break a sweat.

Tip Two: Don’t use your desktop for applications

One of the wastes of computer desktop space is to leave or put shortcuts to application start up icons there. So you have your Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Email Client, Browser…and the list goes on. Whether you use Windows or Mac you have a Start/App Menu AND  a Task Bar/Dock. Use them for those frequently used apps. While I’ve seen some computers that do have them there, they ALSO have links to them on the desktop! Great! Two ways to get to the app. Sound more productive? Not really. You only need one. In fact, you really don’t need any icons to apps on the desktop or the taskbar/dock. Wait a minute…what? That’s right. The fastest way to open an app is to not even take your fingers off the keyboard. “Resist the mouse!” Say it with me. “Resist the mouse!”

Just tap the Windows key (on a PC) or the Command Key plus Spacebar (on a Mac) and type the first couple letters of the app you want to open and hit enter. More than likely those first couple letters will net you the app you are looking for. Your computer is smart. Let it do the work for you. Give it a try. I almost never use the mouse to open an app. Opening Microsoft Word is as easy as Windows Key -> “wo” -> Enter Key. Opening the Chrome browser is Windows Key -> “ch” -> Enter Key. Sweet!

Tip Three: Change the default location of your desktop to a cloud service.

I saved the coolest tip for last. Perhaps the geekiest too. Unfortunately I think this tip is only for you Windows users. Did you know you can change where your desktop files are stored? Basically that means that whenever you “think” you are throwing something on your desktop, you are “really” storing it in a location of your choosing. My recommendation, if you are OK with the security side of it, is pick a cloud service. I use OneDrive for instance, and have it sync to my computer. Then I change the desktop location to it, and presto, I have anything that is sitting on my desktop also synced to the cloud. This makes it easy to get at my most active files from almost anywhere and any computer…or mobile device.

It’s actually very easy to do. Here is a quick tutorial on it. Another option is to use Google Backup and Sync to make sure your desktop data is stored in the cloud. One of the most frequent “oh no” moments I’ve observed in helping co-workers is when they realize they were saving stuff else where, to the cloud, etc. But neglected to consider the stuff on their desktop. Important stuff!

So just take care to use the desktop wisely. It is a great surface on which to work. Quick. Easy. Efficient. You can now make it even better.

Additional Resources

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Reformation Fun

Celebrate the Reformation with this free downloadable group puzzle experience, A Day in the Life of Tölpel, The Luthers’ Dog.

Players will travel around Wittenberg with Martin Luther’s dog, Tölpel, as their tour guide, learning about the city of the Lutheran Reformation. The 28-page download contains everything you need to host a fun puzzle event!

Martin Luther loved his dog, Tölpel, and he mentioned Tölpel throughout his writings. (Really, I didn’t make that part up!) This puzzle is an “historical fiction” narrative in which Tölpel will explore Wittenberg in search of challenges. He’ll discover a challenge at each new destination he visits. Each time he solves a challenge, he’ll earn a puzzle piece. Earn all six puzzle pieces, and Tölpel will be able to solve the puzzle and become a wiser and happier dog.

This game was developed by Kevin & Sallie Draper as part of the ReformationFun.com site. We want to share it freely so WELSTech-ers can enjoy it during this special season of Reformation 500!

Application/audience

The puzzle game can be enjoyed with any group including classroom, catechism class, Sunday school, youth group, family game night, etc.

Typical time to complete​: 30 to 45 minutes

Ages​: 8-108

  • Younger children can play as well, but each group should have at least one strong reader who can read the clues to the others in the group.

Optimal group size​: 4-8

  • Multiple groups can work through the puzzle at the same time. Simply print multiple sets of clues. It would also be a good idea to have the groups play in separate designated areas, for instance, the four corners of a classroom.

Puzzle resources

Download the game resources in PDF format using the links below. Start by reading the instructions. You will then need to print the puzzle resources and either the color or black & white version of the Lutheran Rose.

IMPORTANT​: These documents should only be read by the Puzzlemaster! The Puzzlemaster will prepare and oversee the puzzle for the players. Reading this document will spoil the puzzle for anyone who wants to participate in solving the puzzle

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My Favorite Productivity Tip!

Rarely do productivity tips have such an impact on my life as one I picked up years ago from reading David Allen’s excellent book “Getting Things Done.” And rarely do tips I implement stick with me this long. But the tip I call “waiting for” is one I think so highly of, that today I elevate to a ministry resource. It is one of the handiest time stewardship tools I have, and I have found it invaluable in getting projects unstuck, helping co-workers/volunteers and me stay “on task”, and in general one of the only tips I’ve ever found that improves my mental health. It’s easy. Here is how it works…

Every time you ask somebody to do something (answer a question, complete a task, provide feedback, you name it), note in some kind of capture system (electronic or analog):

  1. what you asked/expect,
  2. of whom you asked it, and
  3. when you made the request.

So for instance, I ask one of my staff to email me their budget request for next year. I note the who, the what and the when of that encounter. Then at the end of each week, or more often as I have time, I review this “waiting for” list to clean up those “delegations” that have been completed, or take the opportunity to remind somebody of something I’m still waiting for.

My brain doesn’t have to try and remember the who, what and when. It just has to know I’ve captured it and will be able to review those things to circle back if necessary. One of my biggest sources of stress was always trying to remember not only when I made such a request, but even IF I had. I can’t tell you how many projects have become “unstuck” because I simply was able to return to a key moment that a request was made and others are in a holding pattern until something gets done. That “something” is now concrete, not just a fading memory that my brain churns and worries over unnecessarily.

The question I bet your asking, and perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tip, at least for me anyway is, where do you capture this stuff? Where is this magical “waiting for” list? Well that depends. For me, I’d say 90% of all the items on my list are captured within email. I like to use email because it is “in writing.” Perhaps more for my own sanity than anything else. I have to be clear, can use bulleted text, and can ultimately search it if necessary. What I’m “waiting for” isn’t always a return email, but that’s OK. I do have a record of the request at the very least, which, guess what…has the recipient, the time sent and the request itself in the body of the email. Perfect.

The mechanics of doing this in email is the point of my quick screencast below. But to whet your appetite, it’s super easy. By simply cc’ing yourself you can automate the tucking away of said email for future reference without you having to do anything more than hit send. See the video below for how to set this up in either Outlook or Gmail. It can easily be done in other email clients as well.

If it’s not an email, perhaps a verbal conversation (of all things!), a voicemail left, a post it note left on a desk, an instant message or text message, there are a myriad of options. If it’s digital at all, I use OneNote. I simply have a Notebook with a tab called “Waiting For”. I can take pictures with my phone, copy and paste text, even drag a voice mail. I can also jot down the relevant info with my finger on the phone app version. Sometimes I just leave a voice memo for myself right in OneNote. It is a super tool for this kind of stuff. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of OneNote, but any tool like this would serve you well (Apple Notes, Evernote, Google Keep, etc.). The key is to have as few “inboxes” as possible. For me I have my “waiting for” list in one email folder and one OneNote section. Anything beyond that would get a little complicated.

That is not to say that you couldn’t do this with pen and paper either. The trick is that it needs to be easy and always with you. For years, before I transitioned to the smartphone/OneNote approach, I used a wallet from David Allen called the TriFold Notetaker. Unfortunately it isn’t made anymore. However, for guys, any wallet with a small pad of paper and pen will do. Ladies, same thing. Just find a small notebook as your “capture” device. Then once you have those notes (remember who, what, when), you need a place to store those and then go through the contents each week to review all the week’s “waiting for” items. A file folder would work, but make sure it’s in plain site.

If you’d like to learn more about this “waiting for” list concept, just do a quick Google search on “getting things done waiting for list” and you’ll get hundreds of approaches as examples. You’ll find what works best for you. The important part of this “ministry resource” is to start capturing those “waiting for” items, keep stuff moving forward and comfort your brain that you’ve got things “under control!”

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Getting Started with YouTube Live

Disclaimer: This is one of those Ministry Resources posts where we are going to learn together!

I’ve seen the option and heard of some who are using the live streaming feature on YouTube, but I had never tried it myself. This brought me to the logical (??) decision to give it a test run as a WELSTech Ministry Resource. If you are interested in kicking the tires a bit, my plan was for this post to give enough information to get started. You’ll have to let me know if I succeeded!

A bit of background regarding my live streaming experience to date … For our weekly WELSTech recordings we use Google Hangouts, also integrated into the YouTube live streaming arsenal. They are managed on the YouTube Live Streaming Events page at https://www.youtube.com/my_live_events. I am familiar with it and little has changed since the days when it was part of Google Plus. And I know enough to understand the two-way conversational Hangout experience is very different than traditional one-way live streaming.

As for live streaming, I’ve used the FinalWeb live streaming tool in the past. From that I had learned that live streaming isn’t handled in the browser alone. There is “encoder” software which is installed on the local computer to capture the video and send it to the streaming provider in the appropriate format. YouTube supplies live stream users with a list of potential encoding software solutions. For my test run, I chose to install Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), and had a great experience with it. Check out the video below to see me set up and stream with OBS for the first time.

After doing that one-time installation and setup of encoder software, live streaming on YouTube is super simple. Just visit the live streaming page at https://www.youtube.com/live_dashboard, name your live stream and set security options, and start streaming in your encoder software. When you are done, you’ll stop your stream in the encoder software as well. Then YouTube will automatically add the recording of your stream to your YouTube videos listing at https://www.youtube.com/my_videos.

Boom! Just like that, you’re officially a live streamer!!

Application/audience

There are many possibilities for live streaming in church and school settings. Consider event streaming, including worship, Bible class, school sports and drama, meetings, etc. Live streaming is also a good way to share prepared lessons of any type – daily devotions, special speakers, etc.

Related resources

Of course, the world of live streaming offers many more options than those covered in this getting started overview. Check out these YouTube Help resources to learn about all the possibilities.

And finally, there’s my Getting Started with YouTube Live Streaming video where I demo the setup of my first live stream.

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OneNote for Meeting Management

Meeting management is a blend of art and science. You need mad “people skills” to bring polar opposites together sometimes. Soft touches. Tough love. And a whole host of other soft skills are an important part of making meetings go. Fortunately the “science” side of meetings is a picture that gets brighter and brighter as technology finds it’s groove in this space. For me an important technical resource for keeping things straight and everybody engaged in a meeting is a tool called OneNote. It’s been around a long time and has just recently been getting the credit it deserves. This Microsoft product comes as a free app on all Windows 10 installations now. I think that has helped. But it is available in a fuller version with Office 365 subscriptions (both pc and mac). It has an online web version, which is pretty good. Microsoft has even created iOS and Android mobile app versions.

Because you can not only create local copies of your OneNote Notebooks, but also store them in a free OneDrive cloud account, it’s utility is somewhat endless. In the screencast at the bottom of the page I walk through an example of using the free OneNote version along with OneDrive to build a nice meeting management solution for collecting and sharing meeting content like agendas, action items and meeting assets.

Application/audience

For those who attend or management meetings for ministry purposes, a digital meeting management tool is a welcome addition to your tool belt. I can see many uses for this approach in situations where staff and volunteers come together to plan, report and just get stuff done. Church councils, boards, school faculties are all groups that meet and could benefit from an online, full featured tool like OneNote. I’d probably even go as far as saying even a better tool than Google’s Docs and other G-Suite products. For church/school leadership teams one of the best features might be OneNote’s ability to embed assets like images, audio files and documents. You can craft one page that could include every imaginable resource that would just be there whenever anybody opens the page. No confusing subfolder names, permissioning issues, or broken links. Literally a one-stop-shop for all your meeting stuff. Super easy!

 

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5 Ways To Let Your Light Shine Online

The appeal of social media in the 21st century is undeniable. The various platforms for sharing, from Facebook to Instagram to WeChat to Pinterest to {insert your favorite here}, offer connection to those we care about, and a channel for self-publication. But do we consciously consider how our social media use fits with our Christian walk?

I recently read the new Churchm.ag eBook The Social Christian. It served as a good reminder of why we do everything we do in this world – to share the Gospel message of the redemptive work of Jesus with everyone. With the reach of social media, many doors are now open to us which didn’t exist a decade ago. Rather than hide the saving Gospel, we can share it via social media in all we do and say.

As you consider how best to use social media, consider these five guidelines for how and what you share:

  1. Be in the Word – If only we had an instruction book for letting our light shine in the digital world. But wait … we do! God’s holy, inerrant Word found on the pages of the Bible is our all-encompassing instruction book. If we struggle with what to say or whether to say anything on social media, we can find the answer in prayerful study of his Word. With the Word nurtured in our hearts, our words and actions – both face-to-face and online – will reflect the joy of salvation we have received freely from Jesus Christ. Consider the amount of time you spend in the Word compared to using social media. Would your postings have a different flavor (perhaps including more “salt” ~ Colossians 4:6) if those times were reversed?

    “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
    ~ Colossians 3:16-17 CSB

  2. Decrease self/Increase God – Often I consider whether my posts on social media are narcissistic or self-absorbed or vain. It’s an easy trap to fall into when my own personal pedestal awaits on my favorite social media platform. Look what I did … Look how adorable my kids are … Look at how lovely my home is …To avoid that trap, consider that most people predominantly post the “highs” of their life on social media. Do we normally see posts about their failures, the times they have to discipline their children, their messy house? Those aren’t the norm. I’ve found it best to just be real. And reality for me is I’m a sinner who needs a savior. My normal is definitely not pedestal worthy. Instead I can elevate Christ alone in the good and bad of my normal life. He is my sure hope in times of sorrow and of blessing.

    “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
    ~ 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

  3. Lift up others – Make it your mission to share your joy in Jesus with your social media contacts. Where there is sorrow, share compassion and strength. Pray for those in need. Share a special verse or song (like the I Will Rise video shared below) that offers comfort. Let them know you care and, more importantly, that your savior Jesus cares.

    “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
    ~ Ephesians 4:2

  4. Share wisely – Perhaps you enjoy sharing things via social media. This tip is here to encourage you to be careful of what you share. Many links today can lead others who may not have faith or whose faith isn’t deeply rooted to explore associated content that isn’t God-pleasing. Satan would like nothing better than to use a Christian to lead someone away from salvation.

    “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
    ~ 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

  5. Give God the glory – I’ll say it again … In all things (including social media posts) give God glory!  One of my favorite ways to do this is through the popular practice of hashtaging posts. Oddly, this running together of words to convey what you are thinking has added another creative layer to our communication. Everyone enjoys coming up with and reading clever hashtags. When I close my post with what I’ve termed #hashtags4Him, I have turned not only my eyes and heart toward Jesus, but also those who read my posts. #salvationthroughJesusiswhatmattersmost

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
    ~ 1 Peter 1:3 NIV

Martin Luther College – I Will Rise.

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Called Worker Compensation Bible Study

If you are a called worker or church leader responsible for called worker compensation, you’ve probably heard about the newly released Called Worker Compensation Calculator. In fact, last month I wrote a brief ministry resource blog post on the topic. What maybe wasn’t clear are the great resources that have been created around the whole topic of compensating those who have dedicated their lives to full time ministry. The most recent offering is a brief video Bible study that can be used by calling bodies to think properly and biblically about the entire process of support called workers. The video is embedded at the bottom of this post.

A summary of the Bible study reads:

This brief Bible study on called worker compensation focuses on a few key passages, reminding calling bodies of God’s grace in providing public ministers of the gospel and their God-given responsibilities toward those who minister to and with them. The study offers guidance to congregations and schools regarding a process to follow and tools available to assist them in a careful, prayerful, and thoughtful approach to compensation.

The PowerPoint slides that Professor Treptow shared with the study is also available. Used together the video and PowerPoint slides would be a great tool for a church council and/or school board to work through before the budgeting season begins. What a great way to prayerfully approach the important work of called worker care.

Related resources

 

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