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Churches try new ways to connect with members using technology.

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Geraint Harries, a technology specialist, for St John the Evangelist in Lancashire, admits that when his parish first started using social media, it didn’t get it quite right.

“At first we didn’t really know what social media meant for the church and fell into the trap of simply chasing the number of likes and followers on our Facebook page,” he says.

But when a parishioner credited the Facebook page for her decision to return to the church, then he felt the strategy had started to work.

Weekly posts on the social media page of the church which simply asked “How can we pray for you today?” resonated with the woman going through a divorce last Christmas.

“Sometimes it can be daunting to turn up in person to a service so connecting online, more anonymously, can make it easier to take that first step into the building which happened here,” he adds.

Getting more people through the door is a challenge for the Church of England. Its own figures show that attendance at services has gradually fallen by between 10% and 20% from 2007 and 2017.

However, while physical attendance has been in decline, digital efforts appear to be gaining traction.

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Telegram can now import your WhatsApp chat history on iOS

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Telegram has added the ability to import your chat history from WhatsApp, meaning you won’t loose past conversations if you want to switch messaging services. On iOS the feature arrived with version 7.4, released yesterday and spotted by 9to5Mac, but the update doesn’t appear to be live yet on Android. Alongside WhatsApp, chat histories from Line and KakaoTalk can also be imported, according to Telegram’s changelog. We’ve verified that you can import chats from WhatsApp into the latest version (7.4.1) of Telegram and continue the conversation, so long as each WhatsApp user has a Telegram account.

The addition of the feature comes as Telegram is reporting huge increases in user numbers, with the service now boasting over 500 million active users worldwide. The cause appears to be WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which prompted privacy concerns about the Facebook-owned messaging app (WhatsApp later delayed the introduction of the new policy, and insists it won’t affect the security of consumer chats or profile data). For users jumping ship from WhatsApp to Telegram, being able to take their chat histories with them means one fewer barrier to switching.

The import process works on a chat-by-chat basis, but appears to work for both individual and group conversations, at least with WhatsApp. To import a chat from Facebook’s messaging service, open the relevant conversation, and tap the group or contact name from the top of the chat to open its info screen. From there, the “Export Chat” option opens the iOS Share Sheet, where you’ll see the option to select Telegram. Then, just pick a Telegram chat to import the messages into.

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A wristband that tells your boss if you are unhappy

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At first glance the silicone wristband could be mistaken for one that tracks your heart rate when you are doing exercise.

However, the wearable technology, called a Moodbeam, isn’t here to monitor your physical health. Instead it allows your employer to track your emotional state.

The gadget, which links to a mobile phone app and web interface, has two buttons, one yellow and one blue. The idea is that you press the yellow one if you are feeling happy, and the blue one if you are sad.

Aimed at companies who wish to monitor the wellbeing of staff who are working from home, the idea is that employees are encouraged to wear the wristband (they can say no), and press the relevant button as they see fit throughout the working week.

Managers can then view an online dashboard to see how workers are feeling and coping. With bosses no longer able to check in physically with their team, Moodbeam hopes to bridge the gap.

“Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home. Here they can ask 500 members: ‘You ok?’ without picking up the phone,” says Moodbeam co-founder Christina Colmer McHugh.

She originally came up with the idea for the product after she discovered that her daughter was struggling at school, and she wanted a way for her child to let her know how she was feeling. The wristband was launched commercially in 2016.

With many children, especially teenagers, likely to balk at the idea of having to press a button on a wristband to let their parents know how they are doing, how probable is it that employees would be willing to do the same for their boss?

Ms Colmer McHugh, whose firm is based in Hull, says that many are indeed happy to do so. “We moved away from anonymous to identifiable data after trials found that people do want to be identified,” she says.

One organisation now using Moodbeam is UK charity Brave Mind.

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Signal messaging platform stops working as downloads surge

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Messaging platform Signal said on Friday it was experiencing “technical difficulties” as it worked to accommodate millions of new users.

Some users reported messages failing to send on both the mobile and desktop apps for several hours.

The company has seen a huge uptick in interest since its rival WhatsApp unveiled new privacy terms last week.

On Twitter, Signal said it had added servers “at a record pace” and was working to restore service.

“Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters,” it said in a tweet.

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wished to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe – but the notification was sent to everyone.

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wished to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe – but the notification was sent to everyone.

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