3 lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a fascinating character – he’s seen as one of the most influential people of the last three decades. He’s changed the way that computing and technology intersects with the liberal arts street as he so often used to put it.

I love to read good biographies and I am fascinated by people’s stories. Not even necessarily famous people or key world leaders, I just love the story of someone’s life. Walter Isaacson does a fantastic job of truly getting underneath the surface of Steve Jobs – sharing the story, the values, the highs and the lows.

A few things jumped out at me:

FOCUS

Steve Jobs consistently developed news ideas, but it seems that very few of the ideas that and the brilliant Jony Ive (his main designer) came up with made it to even board level, let alone a product for consumers.

Too often I think in the church we try to use every idea for fear of missing an opportunity – we sometimes need to be pickier about the quality of those ideas. Equally, don’t be afraid of the radical ideas – the iPhone, the iPad, Pixar and Apple Stores were all ideas that were revolutionary in their own way – pushing the edge of our normal understanding.

TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER

Jobs didn’t organize Apple into separate divisions like, for example, Sony or Philips, instead he pushed his teams to work together under the one profit and loss line. My experience of working in the church is that we’re very quick to adopt a business model of silos: children’s and youth, worship, pastoral care, teaching, work with older people all have separate teams.

Instead, we need to be clear that whilst there are experts working in their own field that people must contribute to the one profit and loss for the company – we must contribute and work together for the vision and goals of the organization. Jobs uses to use phrases such as “deep collaboration” and “concurrent engineering” to describe the process. I’m deeply passionate that we need to see more of this in the 21st century church.

HAVE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU’RE DEVELOPING

In today’s consumeristic world there’s a lot of focus on giving the customers what they want. Jobs challenged that. He took a quote from Henry Ford: “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’”. Jobs believed that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them and that’s why he didn’t place a large emphasis on market research.

Too often in youth ministry we’re tempted to swing from one iniative to the next trying to find the magic formula to get lots of young people to come to Christ and then grow in discipleship. Instead, Jobs believes that our task is to read things that are not yet on the page and that’s what youth ministry needs to be for the church – the prophetic voice that shows what the church should look like.

Leaders in business and politics have lots of to teach us, and we shouldn’t be afraid to learn from these leaders, but we also need to be clear that church isn’t an organization that can be run in the way a business or government can. Church has very different priorities, especially around values, in comparison with those organisations.

If you haven’t read Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson then do get a copy – it’s a fascinating insight into the change in technology and the arts that’s happened in the last 30 years.

The Degeneration of Facebook in 10 Statuses

Facebook's logo

Facebook started off as a true social media that focussed on keeping up-to-date with what friends are up to.  Over the last few years it’s changed dramatically, in ways summed up beautifully by The Degeneration of Facebook in 10 Statuses:

Gone are the kittens and puppies, they’ve been replaced by vomit inducing images of dogs being punched, roadkill, videos of children being punched on public transport, girls sucking on used tampons, kids stabbing their hands with knives, injuries, insults, masturbation and sexually suggestive selfies. It’s a place for generating hatred, inciting witch-hunts and scare mongering. What happened Facebook? We used to be friends.

Over the years users have also developed a distinct lack of personality. Statuses generally follow a pattern made up of ‘trendy’ words and before you know it, everyone’s coming out with the same old stuff. It’s all one big competition, it’s theHunger Games of photographs and hyperbole and the modern day equivalent of gossiping over the garden fence and keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashiwotnots. Here are a few of the statuses responsible for the degeneration Facebook.

“Click ‘Like’ if…”

…You’ve lost someone to cancer, you want to find a cure for cancer, you love your daughter, you love your kids, you enjoy breathing, you like clicking like etc. Stop clicking like and fill a bag with old clothes and take it to a charity shop, give money to cancer research, tell your kids you love them to their face. Save the tip of your index finger and do something that will actually make a real difference.

“Anyone know the number for the Doctor’s Surgery?”
“Anyone know the number for 999?”

If you can update your status, you can search for a telephone number. The above are desperate, attention seeking posts and require nothing more than the obligatory “Why what’s up hun?” or “Hope everything’s okay hunnii” or “I’m here if you need me hon” or… oh I can’t be bothered but I know you know what I mean.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish Rihanna a happy 3rd birthday. Congratulations sweetie we are so proud of you. Love from Mum, Dad, Kev, Nana, Grandpa and Carol next door x”

Can baby Rihanna read? Does she have a Facebook account? “I’d like to take this opportunity”? Have you really been so busy that this is the only chance you’ve had to wish your daughter a happy birthday is through a Facebook account she can’t read and has no access to?

See also: “Shakira, we have just been to your school open evening and your teacher said that you are the best in the whole school at absolutely everything. We are so proud of you. Love from Mum, Dad, Kev, Nana, Grandpa and Carol next door x”

Oh, stop showing off!

“Well Nana, it’s been 7 years today since you died…”

Nana didn’t use Facebook when she was alive so the chance of her being able to read this when she’s been dead for seven years are pretty slim.

“#Bored.com”

For starters, why do people use hashtag on Facebook? It’s completely superfluous and then there is nothing more boring than someone who is bored and nothing more criminal than sticking a .com after a word to describe your feelings.

“Rate me”

This is the dangerous one. Mainly because it encourages users to post pictures of themselves in their new clothes or hardly any clothes and then asks friends to rate the pictures and their figures. The problem here is users are appealing to their “friends” if you look awful they’re not going to tell you because they’re your friend and they don’t want to upset you. So no matter how hideous you look, people will click “LIKE” and they will comment with things like “Beautiful Hunniiiiii”.

Blatant vanity and a desperate appeal for compliments seems to carry absolutely no shame whatsoever and adding “I hate this picture” to the posted image won’t fool anyone. If you genuinely hated it, you would press delete. Well done Facebook, you’ve created a monster, and a bloody ugly one to boot!

Check out the article for the other four statuses that have made Facebook a worse place to be

Downton Abbey series 5 promo picture mistake

downton_abbey_series_5_launch_06

There’s something not quite right about this new Downton Abbey picture.

The show is set to return to our screens later this year with its fifth series, set in 1924.  ITV have revealed some promotional snaps featuring characters from the drama, including this one of Robert Crawley and Lady Edith.

Everything seems very 20s on first glance…but hang on, what’s that on the mantelpiece?

Someone has left a plastic bottle in between the vases on the right-hand side.

downton_abbey_series_5_launch_06 - detail

Plastic was not created until the mid-20th century because making the material was so expensive, so there’s little chance the Crawleys would have been able to get their hands on any.  Still, this doesn’t lessen my excitement at Downton Abbey coming back.

Funny headlines from around the world

news - schoolswork

Some of the more random headlines from the BBC News website over the last week or so:

Slavery in the New Forest

Little Testwood Farm - slavery

I was shocked and saddened to read this headline: “Eight men rescued from suspected slavery Little Testwood Farm in Calmore“:

POLICE have rescued eight men from a site in Totton following an investigation into potential slavery and servitude.

Officers from Hampshire Constabulary, supported by the National Crime Agency, executed a warrant around 6am today at Little Testwood Farm on Salisbury Road, Calmore.  The men are aged between 21 and 46 and are a mix of Romanian, Latvian and Polish nationalities.  Police also recovered industrial equipment that is believed to have been stolen.

A 27-year-old man from Luton was arrested on suspicion of knowingly holding another person in slavery or servitude and remains in custody.

The men have been taken to a survivor reception centre where they are receiving emotional and practical support. The centre is run by officers from Amberstone, Hampshire Constabulary’s specialist interview support team, with assistance from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Hampshire County Council and the NHS.

Detective Inspector Phil Scrase from Southampton CID said:

“As this morning’s action shows, we’ll take swift action against anyone suspected of exploiting vulnerable members of society for their own gain.  We know that people are being trafficked, exploited and enslaved across the country including here in Hampshire.  I’d urge anyone with concerns, suspicions or information that could help our enquiries to contact us in confidence.  For example, if you’re being offered cheap labour that’s too good to be true for the amount it costs, ask yourself: who’s really paying?”

Anyone with information about slavery, servitude, exploitation or trafficking can call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.  If you don’t want to speak to the police directly, you can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the national slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700

A’ Level Results – how to help your child

Exam results

Here are some top tips on dealing with disappointing results:

For parents:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the results, either before or after.
  • Don’t shy away from the disappointment your child is feeling. Encourage him or her to talk about it.
  • Keep talking about the many possible future paths available.
  • Emphasise how hard they’ve tried and the work they’ve put in – and why this shows they have qualities that can take them far.
  • Explain – preferably with real examples – that many successful people have taken “a zig-zag route” to reach their goals.

For students:

  • If you’re worried, don’t wait till the last minute. Ring up and ask for an appointment with your tutor or careers adviser to look at options in case you drop a grade, so you have a real plan B. Find out too if there’s someone you can talk to at school or college in the days and weeks after results.
  • Be aware of the hype around A-levels day – TV images of ecstatic students, for example – which can inflate the importance of the results beyond the reality.
  • Develop a broader perspective on your future – talk to your friends, your family and especially your teachers or tutors, who may be well placed to help you think about alternative but equally rewarding ways forward.
  • Plan to do something positive on results day, whatever your grades. And stay in touch with people, to remind yourself that there is more to life than A-levels.

Clearing 2014 – A step-by-step guide

Ucas

Around 300,000 students will receive their A-level results on Thursday, and like every year, thousands of students will suddenly find themselves thrown into the Clearing system.

If you are among them, remember – ending up in Clearing is no reason to panic. University Clearing is there for anyone who has applied through Ucas but is without a place after receiving their results, whatever the reason.  Last year almost 52,000 people obtained a university place this way, so there is a good chance you will too, provided you are flexible and get your research right.

Here is a simple, step-by-step guide to Clearing should you need to get involved on results day:

1. Check Track

On the morning of results day, log in to Track on the Ucas website to see if you are eligible for Clearing. It’s a myth that Track is updated at midnight on results day. Only the Clearing 2014 Vacancy Search goes live at midnight; Track opens at around 8am.

2. Browse courses

You can browse Clearing 2014 vacancies at any time on results day, but you can’t make a formal choice until around 5.00pm when, if you’re eligible, an “add Clearing choice” button appears on your Track “choices” screen. However, you should call universities or colleges much earlier in the day to secure a provisional offer. Discuss your options with those who know your academic background and have been advising you up to this point. You might also find it helpful to talk to careers advisers on the Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000).

3. Be ready to act fast

Vacancies can be filled extremely quickly, and if you’re not around at the start of Clearing places on your chosen courses may have gone by the time you call the universities or colleges. Admissions staff will want to speak to you, not your parents or advisers.

4. Prepare to contact admissions staff

When you have found a course you like, call the university’s admissions office to confirm that places are still available and discuss the course demands. You should prepare for that phone call as seriously as for a job interview. Be ready to ask tutors intelligent questions about the course requirements, and make sure you are a good fit for them. You might want to ask how the course is taught, what assessment model is used, what materials you’ll need to supply, and about the accommodation arrangements. Admissions staff will ask for your personal ID and Clearing number to confirm they can consider you in Clearing (you’ll find these on the “welcome” and “choices” pages in Track). They can then view your complete application immediately on Ucas’s secure online system.

5. Add a Clearing choice in Track

If an admissions tutor offers you a provisional place, you’ll probably be given a deadline for making a formal commitment to the course by adding a Clearing choice on Track. You can only make one choice at a time. Before accepting an offer, research the course requirements and university carefully. You are committing to years of study and should feel confident that you’re doing the right thing.

6. Confirm or pick another course

Ucas tells the institution that you have entered its details on Track. If you are successful, you will see the acceptance in the “choices” section and Ucas will send you a letter confirming your place and giving further guidance. If you aren’t successful the “add Clearing choice” button will be reactivated so you can add another choice, and still more if necessary up until October 22. Vacancies in Clearing are a shifting landscape as people turn down offers and places are filled, so keep looking at the lists.

7. Consider applying again next year

If you can’t find a course in Clearing that matches your aspirations you can always apply again for next year. Courses for 2014 are already available to browse on the Ucas website. You can start work on your new application right now, although you won’t be able to submit it until mid-September.

John Orchard a friend who is the Education Outreach Officer at the University of Essex, wrote some comments from his perspective as someone who works at a university and will be answering clearing phone calls this week:

  • It is SO important to read up on courses and universities BEFORE making any phone calls. We don’t mind answering specific questions but it’s really important that students have a good idea of what they’re applying for before they ring.
  • If you’re applying to a university through clearing find out if they have a clearing open day or tours running and make it a priority to go if at all possible.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can Sometimes taking time out to reflect and re-applying the following year is the best thing. Rushed decisions are more likely to be wrong decisions.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can”

LFC: Reina joins Bayern Munich

Pepe Reina

Liverpool have confirmed Pepe Reina has completed a transfer to Bayern Munich.

The goalkeeper has signed a permanent deal with the German club, bringing his eight-year spell at Anfield to an end.

Reina moved to Merseyside from Villarreal in the summer of 2005 and made an immediate impact, helping the Reds achieve a club record 11 successive clean sheets in all competitions.

Indeed, his maiden season would end in glory as Liverpool defeated West Ham United on penalties in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, with the Spaniard saving three of the Hammers’ four spot kicks in the shoot-out.

In April 2007, Reina’s shut-out against Blackburn Rovers meant he’d kept 28 clean sheets in his first 50 league games – setting another club record.

His penalty-saving prowess was evident once again one month later as he helped the Reds edge out Chelsea in a dramatic Champions League semi-final victory at Anfield.

In 2008, Reina claimed the Barclays Golden Glove award for a third successive campaign, while in 2009-10 he was voted as Liverpool’s Player of the Season by supporters.

The 31-year-old added one further accolade to his collection, picking up a winners’ medal as the Reds beat Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final in February 2012.

In total, Reina made 394 appearances for the club before spending the 2013-14 season on loan at Italian side Napoli.

Everyone at Liverpool FC would like to wish Pepe all the best for the future.

Praying with loom bands

Loom-bands_article_image

Loved the article on Praying with Loom Bands over at Childrenswork Magazine, especially this idea:

Praying for the world

Choose three colours of band – one colour to represent you, one to represent your country and one to represent the world.

Using the single-linked method to make a band with alternating colours or with a block of each colour (as shown above). Add the link to make a bracelet and use it as a prayer bracelet – praying for each person or group as you move from colour to colour around the bracelet, or block of colour to block of colour.

Go check out the full article for more suggestions.

Bishops call for Iraqi Christians to be given asylum in Britain

Aid distributed to Christians in Iraw

The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.

“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…