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All personal blog posts that are my own opinion.

New Look for Emmaus

Recently, we launched a new look for emmausband.com. The complete online redesign is not 100% finished, but the majority has gone live.

The most fun part of this redesign was the photography. Emmaus was in Austin at the beginning of the summer to perform for a praise and worship night, and I took the opportunity of doing a fast photo shoot with the band. Photography in a mid day sun can be very tricky, but I took the only opportunity that I had. I am fairly happy with the outcome of the photos, and hope it captures their character. Check out their site for new photos soon, and be sure to check out their music.

One of the reasons this was one of my favorite recent projects is because I really believe in them. Emmaus represents the voice of a new generation of worship leaders. Their performances are as familiar as Matt Maher’s music, and have the power to move souls like Hillsong’s worship. Their music needs to be heard by the restless souls of our generation. May God bless them on their journey.

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5 Years of Life as a Conversation

facebook

I am always surprised when I run into other people in my generation that express a fear towards social media. Some see it as an invasion of their privacy, while others call themselves recovering addicts. I’ve heard these and many other reasons as to why they do not use certain tools like Facebook or any other similar technology and services. I don’t understand that mentality. When used as the tools were intended, they only help to facilitate communication in our lives, much like the telephone, radio, and television have done for us. Except, it now gives everyone a personal form of broadcasting our lives to our selected audience.

I am very grateful for the blessing of social media in my life. It documents my life in such a way that cannot be matched by any other current methods. It is close to my fifth anniversary of my relationship with Facebook. I remember the day my university was allowed to enter the network, it was a really big deal to us. The network started as exclusive to universities, and each campus network was added one at a time. St Mary’s was a small school, so we had to wait a while for our network to be added. We had often been jealous of our friends in larger schools that had been using the social network for the past year it was up.

Some might think it strange, but I refer to it as a relationship because of its strong and personal presence in my life. It was there when I met new people and made new friends. It shared my experiences from my different locations and travels. It was there in breakups, new relationships statuses, and even the wedding. Most importantly, Facebook helped me share to my family and friends while they shared with me. Friends’ perspectives are included with everything we do, working as a constant reminder that this life is not all about us.

My favorite updates on Facebook.

Social networks remind me of an imperfect example of the communion of saints. We are all in this life together, and with Facebook, we can share the important and the mundane together. Different people can communicate and reach each other whenever and wherever we are at. While it works great to organize the the people I know, it also has given everyone in the network a more tangible relationship with me. Many couples and friends always complain first of missing the small talk when separate, but social media can really fill the gaps through the distance.

Social media makes life a constant, flowing conversation.

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Hablo Español, but I also speak English

Like many Hispanics and Latinos, I have a very mixed linage from the past centuries. It’s led to an interesting blend of  physical features.  Although, there have been many situations where it has come in handy. Depending on what country I was in or which language I was speaking, strangers would feel like they could relate with me. This is great thing when you are somewhere foreign. On the other side, when I lived in Denver, I had never been asked so many times in my life whether or not I speak English. While yes, some assumed I was a Spanish speaker, some were unsure. I found this almost as offensive as I found it entertaining.

I tweeted this a while back, and I believe more than ever that it is true.

It is possible to be compassionate, but it is hard to relate if it was never a personal experience. The problem with the situation in Arizona is that it reduces the dignity of particular groups of people. Many people are often offended by far less, but when those making the decisions have not experienced it themselves, it is legalized and then labeled a security measure.

There is a lot of current discussions  on immigration and the place of Latinos in the United Sates. The obvious is that the system is broken, but like most of us, I don’t know what would be the best solution. I’m not really here to propose any solutions. I am here to remind those I can that we are not only dealing with an issue but we are dealing with real people that always deserve respect and dignity. All dialogue should never be removed of this.

I pray for our country and its leaders.

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Truly Pro-Life Part I

The facts and figures of abortion are very sad. It is a horrible crime against innocent children in the womb, but I believe we need to go beyond it to fight the problem. Truly being pro-life means much more than being anti-abortion.

It begins with our understanding of the dignity of each person and with the importance of love. People seem so surprised that children result from sex and relationships, as if something went wrong. It is more than just acts for pleasure, but an act that requires a complete giving of self and welcoming God.

From Conception

The biggest challenge to being pro-life comes in our society’s perspective of contraception. A few weeks ago, people were celebrating the 50 years of the pill, as if it were man’s greatest cure, but fertility is not an illness. Many people that claim to be pro-life will use some form of artificial birth control. While many of the statistical numbers are skewed by perspective from pro-choice groups, this is still a sad reality. When people began to believe that there were no consequences to their actions, they acted as if there were none. When contraception fails, the couple’s openness to life is often still missing. This lack of openness to life will continue to lead to more demand for abortions.

Both men and women must understand our collective role in fertility. Each role is necessary and plays an important role physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even in marriage, the current popular mentality denies the God given roles to each person. In a later post, I will write more about how natural family planning is not only effective, but serves a better role in helping reconcile these problems.

Protect the gift of our planet

We must do all that we can to protect and preserve the environment. This is an interesting point because there are often many environmental efforts that promote all types of birth control to prevent over population. What good is saving the world if we are only going to kill its people? Our irresponsibility and selfishness will have consequences for generations to come. There are many that even claim that environmental mentalities are driven by political motives. While there may be certain groups that hide political motives in the issues, we cannot deny the consequences of our glutenous American lifestyles. It is not living in good stewardship of our planet that God entrusted to us. Visit this site for more info.

Support Adoption

If we are going to ask mothers with unwanted pregnancies to not have an abortion, we must find alternatives for them. One of the more common alternatives is adoption. Preventing abortions is not only about preventing death, it is about restoring dignity and respect for each individual life. We need to foster loving environments for these children and provide homes and communities that will show them God’s love and care. This is a tough subject because it forces Christians to consider living less luxurious or even comfortable lives. We have to determine how much we can extend ourselves and trust in God to provide what we need to take in these children. For some families, being a foster parent is better suited, but it is a large task in itself. Children need a family home to grow.

Love of Life

Let us pray that we live in a way that encourages an environment and society that loves and respect each individual soul.

Mother Mary, pray for us.

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Latino Media Today

For the past month, the World Cup captivated so many people’s attention and had us rooting for our teams. It was very inspirational to country pride, and also to see South Africa rise and proudly represent their continent on the world’s stage. I was also happy to see that interest for soccer grew so much during the world cup. As proof of this, the Argentina/Mexico and the final game broke many records on viewership for soccer in the USA. I found it interesting that even those that did not like soccer found it important to refer to the World Cup and explain why they weren’t interested.

To get the most out of watching all of the games, my preference was always Univison over ESPN. I even Tweeted this:

ESPN finds a way to make the game boring. Univision has definitely been the best way to watch the #WorldCup
less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

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SoulPainter.com Redesign

Site Redesign

This week I launched the latest version of soulpainter.com and this blog.

New Features

  • Cross browser compatibility and flash is no longer necessary
  • 1 main page presenting all valuable information
  • Expanded services
  • Featured projects recently completed
  • Prominent location for social media profiles
  • Live content feed from facebook page and twitter
  • Widget to help visitors call me from my site
  • Mobile version of blog and galleries

Until now, my new blog was not publicly linked or posted anywhere. I’m very excited that it can now be more easily accessed. Originally, I was very hesitant to link my profiles and blog to my website, but then I realized that it’s not worth trying to hide on the internet anyways. I am who I am. My main employer and clients understand that my personal views do no interfere with my professionalism. I am excited for this next step as a creative that can fully embrace who I am.

Check it out, tell people you know and leave me feedback. I’ld love to hear what you think of the redesign and the new direction.

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A Days Work

On select days, I’ve been trying this application that tracks all of my mouse movements and clicks. This is from the mac laptop I use at my main job. The main monitor is a 27″ widescreen and my 17″ Macbook Pro to the right of it. Tracking all of this data does not really provide any value or insight that is really important to me, but it is amazing that working on other projects creates a work of art on its own.

When I design information graphics, I spend a lot of time analyzing the data that needs to be communicated. The data collected here is only visual and can be analyzed while collected. It also just looks neat.

This image is from only 1 8 hour day designing and doing my regular work. My main applications are Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, Acrobat, Firefox, TweetDeck and Entourage. I will post a gallery of the best ones soon.

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Sociality

I have spent a large portion of my life using social media. Around 12 years ago, I started using AOL instant messenger, and then I later started my first blog on Xanga in 2002. That my was my social media beginnings.

Most of my daily  life is now facilitated by some form of social media. Once I’m ready in the morning, I check my twitter feed. My personal list helps me make sure that I don’t loose any of my friends and loved ones tweets among the hundreds of updates. TweetDeck on my desktop helps me to see updates from Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace (even if I don’t really use it anymore).

Currently this is what I use.

  • Facebook  – shares all that I want so share with my family and friends.
  • Twitter –  shares thoughts and updates and some go on to update my facebook status and Tumblr
  • TwitPic  – This shares photos to my twitter account.
  • Tumblr – I micro blog thoughts too big for twitter but too short for a blog entry.
  • Stumble Upon – keeps track of the links I like and don’t like. I go through hundreds of pages a week
  • EverNote – keeps track of everything else that I want to remember on my phone or computers
  • Pandora – customizes my music listening based on what I like and what friends suggest
  • Hollrr – shares the products and or businesses that I support to twitter and facebook
  • Gowalla and Foursquare – updates my location, I can leave tips for other people,  and I know when friends are nearby
  • Vimeo and YouTube – keep track of my favorite videos and channels

I am very grateful for all of these services. They make up the majority of my internet usage and also facilitate in staying connected while sharing my life with those I care about. It will be interesting to see which ones I stop using as others expand or are created to make it more efficient and secure.

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It’s All About Location

Location

Working so much for the web, it’s really important for me to stay informed and understand the latest technologies and services. Geo-Aware services like Gowalla and Foursquare are the newest trends in social media. Social media has historically grown faster than any other media before it. I believe that it is our human nature that seeks communion, but I will write more about that later in a future entry.

Location based services are following this same trend of rapid growth. What is different about these services is that they have a more limited audience because it only works on devices that have GPS services on them. Still, it’s growing. Now what we are looking into is how to get people used to using it and still use it to generate brand trust and profit. I think small business especially has the great potential to use it for growth and customer loyalty. Now the challenge is how we can educate them about the opportunities. Stay tuned.

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