3) What Makes for a Great Landing Page (on a Website)?

If you were asked that question (you just were), how would you answer? This came up recently with the Communications Team at the org I (Doug) lead. They studied long and hard how to configure a landing page. Only you (the viewer) can tell the truth. What do *you* want to see? How do you want to be directed? What are some of your pet peeves about landing pages for mission organizations and churches? You can see the route our Communications Team took at…




But we’re still curious — what’s *your* opinion on what works and what doesn’t? (Please — if you have a moment … click comment and give your best advice to all the communications people who might be reading this item.)


14) The Last Bit: Could You Use the LightStream?

Last week, while traveling in West Africa, we came across a device called the Lightstream Pocket. I had been hearing about these for some time. But as far as I had understood, they were still kind of cludgy. This version seemed so cool. In short, it’s a dedicated Wi-Fi radio (source) designed to serve up files to people in your immediate proximity (say, 50 feet?). You can get them preloaded with languages or blank. Consider the file storage (for now) around 64 gigs. But the device doubles as an SD Card burner in the field. This thing is affordable and innovative. Imagine walking into a café in a sensitive land and being able to serve up copies of the Bible in a place where such a thing isn’t available. Learn more (including seeing the affordable price) at…




By the way, have you used the Lightstream? If you have, would you please click “Comment” and give us a hands-on review?

4) Learning about Privacy Laws and Data Stewardship

Justin Schluessler (Data Protection Office for Compassion International) will be presenting on Data Stewardship at the ICCM-Americas conference June 26 -29 in Hannibal, Missouri. He will also be presenting breakout sessions on GDPR and current/anticipated US laws on data protection. Registration for the Americas Conference is still open at the reduced early-bird rate until March 31. Visit


americas.iccm.org for more information.


or email

iccmamericasatlightsysdotorg  (iccmamericasatlightsysdotorg)  

7) International Conference on Computing and Mission Conference

ICCM-Americas meets in Hannibal, MO, June 26-29, 2019. The gathering brings together both leaders and technical practitioners in Information Technology/Information Security from multiple organizations with common interests in collaborative technology, learning from the strengths of others, cross-cultural mission, and fulfilling the Great Commission. Included are times of worship, prayer, panel discussion, plenary sessions, technical sessions, and networking opportunities.

Registration is currently open,








for conferences on other continents. Discounted early-bird registration will likely end March 31, so better act fast. We’ve participated in these previously and they’re ALWAYS helpful.

14) The Last Bit: We Don’t Say Thanks Often Enough to Our I.T. Helpers

We’re convinced that we don’t say thanks often enough to our I.T. helpers around the world. We sometimes expect mongo-large output from them for teeny-tiny-micro-budgets. It doesn’t help that we sometimes ignore them during planning phases, then expect them to leap tall buildings (and budgets) in a single bound. This week, join me in saying a prayer of thanks for all the I.T. helpers (and those who try to help us even if they don’t know information technology). Let’s celebrate by taking a 3-minute pause to watch this laughable skit in their honor. We especially appreciate the part in which the executive asks them to put a video in the print-out. : )





12) Appreciate WhatsApp’s Security? Enjoy it While You Can

Turns out WhatsApp might have sold its soul to the devil. Imagine a day that you write someone on WhatsApp, only to discover that the recipient is reading it on a Facebook Messenger site. It might not be that far into the dismal future. Note that, for now, WhatsApp does have end-to-end encryption. But as this article points out, Instagram does not — nor does it seem to be in the cards. And with Facebook, the user would have to activate (turn on a switch) for privacy. What percentage will remember to do that? Either way, if you ask us, WhatsApp was good while it lasted.




It’s time to take stock of WhatsApp.

8) Help Brigada Figure Out Why its “Jump to” Links Don’t Work on iPhone

If you’re a smart programmer person, we’d sure love to hear from you. Would you email us or click comment (following the web or app version of this item) if you can help us figure out how to fix the fact that our “Jump to…” item links, though they work fine on laptop email clients like Outlook and gmail, just don’t work on certain smartphone email clients and browsers. It’s sadness for sure. (We know. First world problems. But still. Global South readers want to know too.) Check it out. On your laptop, at the website, our links bounce you directly to the item from our Table of Contents. On your smart device, when you receive the email, although we believe the links/anchors are properly formatted, there’s no joy. What in the world are we doing wrong? (And thanks, Matt, for raising the question.)

4) What’s Your Best Guess On The Future Of The "Palm" OS?

My Treo cell phone recently bit the dust. When I went to swap it in for something new, I took into consideration that the word on the street was that Palm was putting out to pasture its venerable “Palm OS” operating system. Confession: I didn’t want to give up on Palm. It’s just plain *fast*… and *simple*. But I figured it was inevitable. Besides, I’ve been having more and more trouble keeping the Palm conduit “up” and running with Outlook. I don’t think I have *too* many contacts. (Is 3000 a lot?) But for whatever reason, it was *constantly* failing. So I swallowed hard and said “Windows Mobile.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt like a traitor. But I did it. And you know what the crazy thing is? Perish the thought that I’m starting to like it! How ’bout you? What’s your latest ‘take’ on the PALM OS? Have you made a switch? How’s it working out for the kind of mission work you do? To ‘talk back’ to Brigada, just click “Comment” below this particular item on the web. Thanks for any “fellow struggler” reports.

4) Headed To A Sensitive Place? Check For Security Vulnerabilities

One of the best spots for checking your computer for vulnerabilities is Steve Gibson’s “Gibson Research Corporation.” It’s even better, in my opinion, than the designers of anti-virus/firewall software… because it’s totally unbiased and not self-serving. Start at:


Follow the prompts to “ShieldsUp!”. (Note: You can look up in the upper left at the landing page there… hover over “Services”, then click on “ShieldsUp!” Read, then click “Proceed.” At the ShieldsUp page, click on “Filesharing.” The outcome you want is, ” All attempts to get any information from your computer have FAILED.” That’s the answer you want to see. Anything less is unacceptable.

Next, start the whole process over (you won’t be able to click “Back”. This time click on “Common Ports.” The answer you want this time is, “Your system has achieved a perfect ‘TruStealth’ rating.” Anything less is unacceptable. If you don’t see these two messages, go shop for a better firewall.

Next click on “All Service Ports.” The answer you want here is ” Your system has achieved a perfect ‘TruStealth” rating.'”

Hats off to Steve Gibson for giving us these kinds of tools.

6) Still Using Windows? Me Too. Join Me At This Site

I know, I know. Many of your friends have fled to MAC’s… and you constantly wonder if you should join them. But you can’t quite help but notice that lots of people are still left on Windows too. Sure — MAC users have multiplied by a factor of 4 times over just in the past 18 months, all of which means that now, there are 9.1% using MAC’s, instead of 2.1% like before.

So that means there are a lot of people (9 out of 10) that are still like you and me: they’re using Windows. Are there unhappy days for us? Sure. But is there hope? Of course! Just look at:


It’s an entire website dedicated to helping you fix those little things that get under your skin! :-) Take a look at the list of fixes at:


Those “sigh” sounds you hear are the exhales of relief from your friends, finding out how to tie up that nagging loose end! :-) Try it. We just might learn to like it. :-) (Confession: I can’t really understand all the whining about Vista. I’m a happy Vista camper.)

By the way, for you MAC users — there’s hope for you too. O’Reilly has released a whole book of fixes for you, entitled, fittingly, “‘Mac Annoyances’: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Mac.” See it at
or on Amazon by searching for the title.

Got a nagging annoyance on your particular operating system? Jot a note about it by clicking “Comment” just below this item on the web. Consider it “debriefing” or “missionary care” or something like that. :-)

6) Gmail: You Can Get It Offline

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars lately, you probably know that Google’s “Gmail” web app is the hottest webmail portal this side of the Andromeda Galaxy. With over 7 gigs of online storage space for free over an “https” secure socket, what’s not to like about it? (Sign up at any time by navigating to


Follow the instructions to “Sign up for Gmail.”)

But did you know that, somewhat silently, they’ve recently added the capability to work on your gmail offline? Read more at


You have to install a plug-in in your browser. If you’re an avid Gmail user, this is your ticket to “catching up” during that next long flight.

7) Gotta Send A Big Prayer Letter File Home To Supporters?

Did you ever wish you could send a huge database or spreadsheet to an email recipient, but you felt guilty because you would be bombing out his/her email account with a mongo file? And maybe you don’t have an FTP site (or maybe you don’t even care to learn what one is?). Well there’s an answer, you know. Just kick in a free two-week trial at YouSendIt…


Granted, if you keep the service after two weeks, you’ll have to pay *something*, but at least for two weeks, you’ll be able to get through that big deadline in one piece, right? :-)

12) The Backpage: Trouble In Vpn-City

I just returned tonight from a trip to the Middle East, primarily in a country that filters Internet access through a national proxy. None of the hotel rooms (that I stayed in) had in-room Internet… so it was Internet cafes for me in each stop. You’ve heard us say before on Brigada — the only way to safely access POP3 email at an Internet café is to shield your communication in a secure software tunnel referred to as a virtual private network (VPN). There *are* solutions for encrypted email (like Hushmail), but none of them allow you to use a simple POP3 box with a client like Outlook. For example, I *was* able to access my Hushmail account, but … it’s just not as quick and easy. Plus, it’s not very dependable off-line (I’ve had annoying glitches keeping the Outlook IMAP3 plug-in to stay in the running with Hushmail.) So… for convenient POP3 email *and* for secure web-browsing to the site of your choice, you really need a VPN in any country which would misunderstand your good intentions… or anytime you’re exchanging information about sensitive finances.

In the old days, a VPN might have raised your profile; not so any more. Every business man that passes financial information uses (or ought to use) a VPN. You usually wouldn’t have to carry around a hardware device to run a VPN. Many “software” versions are available, usually by running a “client-side” application on your laptop — which, in turn, talks to a VPN “server-side” mother-ship application, either on your own server back in your homeland, or, alternatively, via a server maintained by the company from which you buy or rent the VPN service. Some companies will offer a VPN for free (usually with other, more powerful services sold for pay), while other charge a nominal fee per month.

One thing I noticed was that it seemed there was no consistent result with the VPN that we hand out to our workers going to sensitive fields. We use Cisco and we oversee the “dashboard” for this VPN ourselves, so it’s really easy to maintain. But, not in this particular land. For example, at the first Internet café I visited on the opening day of this trip, every time I logged on to the VPN, the connectivity to the Internet would vanish. (Have you encountered something similar to that in other instances? If so, please click on “comment” below this item and give your testimony — completely anonymously if you desire.) That night, I tried Wytopia, HotSpotVPN, PublicVPN, and a handful of other VPN suppliers. *Hushmail* worked (without the VPN), but, as for my POP3 mail, I left empty-handed that night. I wasn’t willing to download it into the open. Now later in the week, I went back to that same café and tried again — and this time it worked! (Have you experienced that too?) I wondered later… if I had rebooted, would it have reset some routine that allowed it to connect? Either way, let’s start a list below of our favorite vendors for VPNs, along with anything to beat the problems. Here are the issues we seem to be battling, in the “real-world testing” department:

*** Some internet cafes seem to have blocked the port that the VPN uses?
*** It seems inconsistent; it’ll work sometimes and not work other times.
*** The VPN would sometimes just drop… like… if the wireless radio in the coffee shop had a hiccup, the secure-conduit would drop. (Sometimes when I’d try to launch it again, it wouldn’t have exited cleanly, so I’d have to reboot first. Hassle. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind all the hassles in the world, if they help us do this stuff securely. I’m just wondering if there’s a better way out there.)

Maybe we’ll find an obvious lay-down best VPN in the world? :-) Or maybe a satellite solution has leap-frogged the old technology and now we don’t even need internet cafes anymore?

ICCM-Asia Conference

Registrations are open for the second ICCM-Asia conference. This conference is for those involved in Information Technology and cross-cultural work in Asia, both nationals and expatriates. It will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, October 27-30, 2008. The keynote speaker has experience in online pastor training, internet cafes and IE in Asia. As well as technical topics there will be discussions around BAM. The Early Bird Discount finishes on September 8, 2008. So visit

or email

for more information.

Why Do We Use Ascii Text For Brigada’s Emailed Edition?

When we tried the switch (to HTML formatted email), the outcry was pronounced. And no wonder. Of the 1,173,109,925 Internet subscribers at the end of 2007, only 349,980,000 were said to connect via broadband. That means that the vast majority of the world is still looking at the Internet through a small pipe (dial-up).
(this last source will wrap; please reassemble it in your browser’s “To:” box.)

What’s more, many of these dial-up users have HTML disabled by default, which means — when they receive emails laced with http: links within them, the http: links complicate and confuse normal text like nobody’s business. Beyond that, many of the world’s broadband users have “download pictures in email” turned off by default, as well. (They’ve been taught to do so because of virus- and trojan-laced emails.)

What’s more, in an in-depth survey by Jupiter Research in 2006, some 1166 users asserted that they were more likely to open and read/respond to an email if it contained a) products or features that were interesting to them (54%), or b) written copy that attracted them (40%), or a subject line that caught their eye (35%) or a compelling offer (33%). Less than one-fourth even paid any attention to pictures.
(The source for these stats was:
http://www.emaillabs.com/tools/email-marketing-statistics.html )

But what about using hot links to skip down to the individual items from the table of contents in the top-line summary? Wouldn’t that save time for all readers? Well if they have HTML functionality turned on, yes – probably. (I for one don’t; by default, I look at mail in ASCII text mode.) But why wouldn’t those users be able to click over to the web, then, and just use the corresponding web version to leap from link to link to their heart’s content? In this way, if they’ve decided to look at text-only email, they’ll like Brigada. Otherwise, they can always click to the web version for pictures, links, special features and lots more.

So our conclusion, after lots of consideration, was to preserve Brigada’s original ascii formatting by email, but continue to focus on sprucing it up some for those who are able to use the web. That’s all we have to say about that.

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