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507 – Three Steps to Safety

WELSTech’s summer ministry resource focus continues, this week with a discussion of tech safety practices which churches, schools, and individuals would be wise to adopt. Other chatter covers ideas for working with volunteers, coffee-table ready photo books, and a Pinterest posting suggestion which has Martin dumbfounded. All this with a side of mustard!

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The discussion:

Don’t sing the blues – Martin shares important tech safety practices which organizations and individuals should adopt in Let’s Be Safe Out There…In Three Easy Steps.

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Featured video:

Get a behind-the-scenes Finalweb 2 Introduction, the newest addition to the WELSTech Product Demo playlist on YouTube.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 508 – Martin and Sallie are broadcasting from WELS’ 64th Biennial Synod Convention in at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, WI. Release date: Wednesday, August 2.

Get involved:

Let’s Be Safe Out There…In Three Easy Steps

Back in the 80’s the crime drama Hill Street Blues popularized the phrase “Let’s Be Safe Out There.” As is common in most police departments, the officers of Hill Street attended a squad meeting prior to starting the next shift. The show regularly began at this briefing where their gruff, no-nonsense Sergeant, Phil Esterhaus, would give them their daily instruction. It ended with “Let’s be safe out there.” That’s a fitting title for this Ministry Resource post as each and every day in this internet age you embark on a “shift” that could see untold disasters — computer viruses, data corruption, ransomware, identity theft. You need to be ever vigilant. Fortunately it isn’t that hard to “stay safe out there.” I’ve condensed it down to three easy steps to protect yourself and your ministry activities.

Step One: Use a cloud backup service.

The absolute best way to protect yourself from many of the data disasters that can strike your computer is by having an up-to-the-minute backup of all your data. A couple of weeks ago I talked about cloud services like Google Drive and OneDrive that can sync your data between a local copy on your computer and one in the cloud. This is a great productivity approach, but it is not protection against data loss or corruption. You need a bonafide backup solution.

One of the hardest things about backups is remembering to do them. That is why I prefer cloud backup solutions that just work in the background and normally don’t need any intervention by you. They just hum along waiting for files to be changed or added, then they copy them up to the cloud server. They automatically will keep different versions of those files, so you can go back in time to grab an older copy, or even the contents of your entire disk.

The service I almost always recommend is Backblaze. It just works. It is relatively inexpensive, about $60/year. And it is one of the only ones that will backup everything on your hard drive AND all connected drives like external hard drives or even flash drives.

Step Two: Encrypt your data.

While step one will allow you to restore your data should it become corrupt, your hard drive fails, or someone is holding your data hostage for a ransom fee (it happens more than you think), what if somebody steals the data on your disk, or your entire computer for that matter? In that data could be passwords, social security numbers, tax returns, etc. All information that could be sold and used for identity theft or other illegal activities that would be hard to recover from.

The best way to keep that data safe wherever it may go is to encrypt it. While that sounds hard and techy, today’s operating systems like Windows 10 and Mac OS make it surprisingly easy. Encryption is the conversion of electronic data into another form which cannot be easily understood by anyone except authorized parties with the encryption password or key. Normally the process requires you to provide a master password, then the operating system takes that password and creates “encoded” content, that only a system with your key or password can decode. If you want to learn more read the article “What is Encryption, and Why Are People Afraid of It.”

The best way to encrypt the contents of your hard drive is to use the built in encryption tools. For Windows it is called “Bitlocker.” On the Mac it is “FileVault.” Once you start the process, it should busy itself in the background for a while. It may take a while depending on how many files you have. When done you will probably never notice it unless you need to do some kind of recovery process. Don’t forget the key/password you set.

Step Three: Use a password manager.

We’ve discussed how to secure the data that is on your physical device. By the way most phones and tablets these days are already encrypted, so no worries on that front. But what about all those cloud services you use — your banking website, credit cards, your church or school information systems? That is stuff you don’t want to have any unauthorized access to. But if your username and password are stolen, the door is wide open.

To truly protect your online activities you should have a different password for every cloud-based service you use. That becomes very impractical very fast as almost everything is now online. That still does not justify having the same password for any two sites. Fortunately there are tools to help. In my opinion LastPass stands at the top of the heap. It is easy to use, cross platform (PC, Mac, Android, iOS), and has some great features like strong password generation, password sharing, local copy availability, and two factor authentication. To get the mobile version, which you should, will cost $12/year. If you want to have everybody in your organization use it, you might want to investigate the enterprise version, which costs about $17/person/year for non-profits (at least the last time we renewed our licenses). A worthy investment.

These kind of tools are easy to operate. They usually just sit as an extension or add on to your browser, and when you are creating new online accounts that require passwords, they spring into action and ask if you’d like to auto-generate a strong password. Say yes! Also, when you then visit a site that you have previously stored in LastPass, for instance, it will pre populate your username and password, and you’re in! Like the encryption password, you MUST remember your LastPass password. However, it’s a lot easier to remember one password than hundreds.

So for less than $100 per year you can experience all the benefits of the tools mentioned and have a higher level of confidence that your data will be safe and available. After all, you have better things to think about and do than spend more time fighting to keep your information safe. Let technology work for you. You go ahead and work for the Lord. And, oh yeah, let’s be safe out there!

Related resources

I gave you recommendations above for each of the three steps, however there are other equally capable tools in each category. If you’d like to comparison shop:

Cloud Backup Solutions: Carbonite, MozyHome, Google Backup & Sync

Encryption: There really is no reason to stray from encryption built into your computer, however older PC hardware may not have a TPM chip in it. You can still use BitLocker however, it’s just not as foolproof as those systems that do have this hardware encryption chip. You will be notified if you do or don’t during the BitLocker installation process. There are alternatives however. Last year I would have recommended TrueCrypt, but that is no longer supported. Here is a good article on similar free products.

Password Managers: 1Password, Keeper, Sticky Password

Google Backup and Sync is a relatively new service that holds promise. I’ve included a YouTube video that was recorded by VerySlowPC.com that shows the differences between this new solution and the old Google Drive.

See All Ministry Resources

495 – Friends & Family Tech Support

Join this week’s WELSTech for a lively discussion almost all of us “techies” can relate to…providing tech support for friends and family. We walk through several tips and best practices that will make your next “support call” a pleasant one for all involved. Additional discussion includes a discussion of upcoming concerts, graduation, and assignment events at synod schools, multi-media options for your entertainment and a church copyright ministry resource.

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The discussion:

Dedicated to WELSTech Moms – Martin and Sallie explore various hardware and software support tactics which are helpful for supporting family and friends, especially from a distance. Secret weapons include using cell phones or tablets to snap a photo of the problem and keeping solutions simple!

Countdown to episode 500:

Revisit year 5 (2012) of WELSTech, episodes 217 to 268. The top picks of the year included long-standing favorites Raspberry Pi, MathCounts, PicMonkey, Camtasia Studio, Google 2-Step Verification, and Google Hangouts.

News in tech:

Amazon’s new Echo Look has a built-in camera for style selfies

WELS now:

Synod Schools wrap up the school year with graduation and assignment events. Visit their sites for live streaming links:

  • Martin Luther College
    • Commencement Concerts – Friday, May 12 – 4:00 & 7:30 pm
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 13 – 10:00 am
    • Assignments – Saturday, May 13 – 2:30 pm
  • Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
    • Vicar Assignment – Tuesday, May 16 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduate Assignment – Thursday, May 18 – 10:00 am
    • Commencement Concert – Thursday, May 18 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduation – Friday, May 19 – 10:00 am
  • Luther Preparatory School
    • Commencement Concert – Friday, May 19 – 7:00 pm
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 20 – 10:00 am
  • Michigan Lutheran Seminary
    • Commencement Concert – Friday, May 26
    • Graduation – Saturday, May 27

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Church Copyright

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Product Demos YouTube playlist is LastPass 101: Meet the Browser Extension.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 496 – Next week we wrap up the Social Media for Ministry series with a look at some social media superstars and an interview with Pastor James Aderman. Release date: Wednesday, May 10.

Get involved:

481 – All In On Texting

WELSTech this week is a walk through an awesome variety of feedback from our listeners including great tips, websites, and many other ministry resources. Martin and Sallie share their own favorites as well as spend some time talking about texting for ministry.

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The discussion:

Exploring – The monthly WELSTech community feedback episode is overflowing with new tech-in-ministry ideas to explore.

WELS now:

Interactive Faith Bible Study

  • Rev. Randy Hunter leads “Mysterious Marriage”
  • February 1 – 22 – Wednesdays at 6 and 8 pm Central

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Learn more about church copyright from the Christian Copyright Solutions webinar, Understanding the Copyright Complexities of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, the newest addition on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching playlist on YouTube.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 482 – Edtech week rolls around again next week, and we’ll be discussing wearable technology with Jason Schmidt. Release date: Wednesday, February 1.

Get involved:

455 – Security Policies

This week on WELSTech we complete our month-long look at security with a discussion of security policies – not the most exciting topic…until you wish you had them! We take a quick look at some of the ones most churches and schools should have. Sallie shows off a cool new forms tool, while Martin gives a thumbs up to the Apple Watch.

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The discussion:

Security PoliciesSecurity Policies – Clearly communicating and enforcing technology behavior expectations to those who work, volunteer and attend your church and school is the topic du jour.

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 456 – Two things you won’t want to miss on next week’s show – an ISTE round table recap from several who attended this summers’ conference and the announcement of three WELSTech Photo Challenge prize winners. Release date: Wednesday, August 3

Get involved:

452 – Password Please

WELSTech kicks off the second of our summer series this week. During the month of July, the discussions will be all about security. For starters, we share tips and tools for securely managing your growing list of passwords including the use of password managers, taking the extra step of authentication and how to provide access to your accounts when you are gone.

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The discussion:

KeysPasswords – There aren’t many who don’t have a love/hate relationship with their passwords, and most lean heavily to the side of hate. Let Martin and Sallie motivate you to use good password hygiene and supply you with tools to make managing your passwords easy and secure.

Picks of the week:

WELSTech Photo Challenge:

This month’s WELSTech Photo Challenge is summer, outreach and Isaiah 52:7. Visit the challenge album!

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 453 – There’s no better time than now to setup a backup system for your important files. Tune in as Martin and Sallie tell you how. Release date: Wednesday, July 13

Get involved:

338 – The Dark Side of the Internet

This week on WELSTech we get serious about a variety of tech-driven security risks that have the potential to harm churches and schools. In addition, we share ministry resources, concert announcements and a helpful infographic about creating passwords.


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The interview and discussion:

Dark SideImagine the worst, and take steps to prevent it – Silicon Valley WELSTech-ers and members of Apostles in San Jose, CA, Mike Klebig and Jas Lonnquist, talk with Martin and Sallie about some of the potential dangers for churches and schools that come along with the use of technology. Who would think a copy machine could be a security risk or stored documents were in danger of being lost? Listen for recommendations in these areas and more.

Ministry resources:

Tech tips:

Picks of the week:

Of interest:

  • This Sunday, April 27 – Watch the live stream of the WELS Handbell Festival Concert on MLC Streams – 2 p.m. Central
  • June 3 – Join Martin and Sallie  at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School for the “Tech and Teach” teacher in-service event – Learn more and register
  • July 29 to August 1 – Registration is officially open for summer FinalWeb training with Martin and Sallie at the Center for Mission and Ministry. Learn more and sign up at bit.ly/fwtraininginfo.

Community feedback:

Music download:

This week enjoy a free Easter music download from WELS artist Michael Schroeder (www.michaelschroeder.com and on Facebook) – Jesus Christ is Risen Today (right-click to save MP3) or download the music video

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 339 – Next week promises to be lively as we host a round table discussion with several school tech directors on the topic of infrastructure for 1:1 implementation. An added bonus will be an overview of the upcoming KML Tech and Teach event with James Carlovsky. (Broadcast date – 04/29/14)

Get involved:

252 – 7 Best Password Tools and Tips

We’re counting down the 7 best password management tools and tips this week on WELSTech.  We also return to our school year show format as we share ministry resources, details about an upcoming tech-in-missions conference and much more!

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The discussion:

Secure passwords – Along with all of the digital tools which we use daily to enhance our personal and public ministries, comes a mountain of password requirements to manage. In this month’s 7 Best countdown Martin and Sallie share password management tips and tools.

  1. Use a “Pass Phrase” – Password mnemonic generator
  2. 2-Step Verification – Google
  3. 1 Password for Mac
  4. Don’t use the same password on multiple sites
  5. KeePass
  6. Make passwords at least 8 to 10 characters
  7. LastPass

Coming up in October … 7 Best Member, Prospect & Student Management Tools

Ministry resources:

(23:00) Proclaim cloud-based church presentation software now supports multiple monitors

Picks of the week:

WELS.net feature:

(34:07) Check out the WELS.net home page redesign

Of interest:

(34:55) Media in World Missions Conference

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

(51:28) Episode 253 – Next week begins the latest WELSTech book discussion of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Listeners are invited to read along and tune in as Martin and Sallie cover a section of the book each month. (Release date – 09/11/12)

The featured artist:

(53:21) We  close the podcast with the music of Dawn Michelle Williams (www.dawnmichellewilliams.com | Twitter | Facebook | My Space) – Mine For The Taking

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192 – WELS Hacker: Labels and Passwords

This week the WELSTech Podcast summer WELS Hacker series topics include a Web 2.0 label solution and secure passwords.

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The discussion:

Pulling from the tech tool belt – In today’s WELS Hacker discussion, Martin Spriggs and Sallie Draper share shortcuts for cloud-based label creation and wise password management.

WELS Hacker - July 13, 2011

Community feedback:

The featured artist:

(32:08) We close the podcast with the music of The Branches Band (www.branchesband.com |Facebook) – The Mountain from their “Light Eternal” CD

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Episode 001 – Jan 9 2008

In this inagural episode of the WELSTech Podcast Martin and Sallie discuss “why a podcast”? They also interview the co-founder of FinalWeb, the synod’s web-hosting partner.

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The discussion:

  • Why WELSTech? Martin and Sallie discuss the thinking behind putting on a weekly show about technology and ministry.

The interview:

FinalWeb

The tidbits:

The featured artist:

Get involved: