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Friday
May222015

Theotek Podcast #25: A Germ-Infested Group of Guys

In this morning's Theotek podcast, Christian entrepreneur, Tuan Dam, joined us. He not only told us his amazing story, but he also talked about his company, Cleanint, which has some amazing products for the less-than-sanitary world in which we live. If you want to support a company run by Christians who are using their vocation to advance the Kingdom of God in innovative ways, I strongly urge you to support Cleanint. 

Here's a recording of today's podcast:
   

   
If you want to join us live each Friday at 9 AM EST, or if you want to know where you can subscribe and download episodes, head on over to the Theotek website for more information. 

Feel free to add questions, thoughts comments, or rebuttals here in my comments section or in the comments for today's episode on YouTube.

Thursday
May212015

Review: The Ancient Faith Prayer Book

The Ancient Faith Prayer Book
Vassilios Papavassiliou, ed.
2014, Ancient Faith Publishing

O Lord our God, if I have sinned in anything this day, in word, or deed, or thought, forgive me all, for You are good, and You love mankind. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep, and deliver me from the assault and attack of the evil one. Rouse me at the proper time to glorify You, for blessed are You, together with Your Only-begotten Son and Your All-holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

A Prayer for Forgiveness, p. 53.

Yes, I am still Baptist; but over the years, I have found myself in an increasing appreciation for the beauty of the teaching and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found greater joy in finding commonalities among varying expressions of Christianity as opposed to emphasizing differences. I appreciate the Orthodox Church for its commitment to ancient expressions of the Christian faith as well as offering a perspective on familiar categories that is sometimes very different from my own.

Moreover, I’ve collected a number of prayer books over the years. It may seem odd to some, but I enjoy reading them and incorporating some prayers as my own when appropriate. If you’ve never tried it, I’ve often found that reading, reflecting and praying written prayers is the best kind of devotional.

The prayers are grouped by the following categories as represented from the Table of Contents:

  • Morning Prayers
  • Afternoon Prayers
  • Prayers for Mealtimes
  • Early Evening Prayers
  • Late Evening Prayers
  • Canon for Holy Communion
  • Prayers Before Holy Communion
  • Prayers for the Departed
  • Prayers for Confession
  • Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions
  • Prayers of the Saints 

In addition to these groups of prayers, there is an introduction on to how to use the book (which include instructions from St. Theophan the Recluse) as well as a Calendar of Great Feasts and Fasts.

The prayers include many traditional Orthodox prayers, biblical psalms, prayers of the Saints, and a number of modern occasional prayers. This last kind of prayers are most interesting to me. Some of them are basic such as prayers for Before a Journey, Before and After Work, and Before Study. There’s also some very modern needs addressed by these prayers such as a prayer Before Using the Internet: 

Be the helper of my soul, O God, for I walk in the midst of many snares. Deliver me from them and save me, for You are good, and You love mankind. (p. 124)

There is another aspect to this collection of prayers that intrigued me. I’ve only attended two Orthodox services in two different churches, but in both one particular aspect of the liturgy stood out to me as unusual (as in more unusual than a lifelong Baptist experiencing an Orthodox service). Now, let me say up front that I do not mean any disrespect, I realize that I am a total outsider, and I’m willing to say that perhaps I just don’t get it. However, it struck me odd to hear so much Elizabethan, King James-ish language in the liturgy. I’m referring to use of archaic words such as Thou, Thee, and Thy and the like in reference to God.

I understand that the Orthodox Church embraces traditions and liturgies going back to the first centuries of the church—but those liturgies were not in Elizabethan English. In fact, I would guess that in the 17th century, there may not have been any Orthodox services being conducted in English (someone can correct me if I'm wrong). I understand that this type of language is often used for sake of formality and respect, but to me it’s a bit artificial. There’s a difference between traditional or even ancient and archaic. I don’t want the church (as expressed in any tradition) to come across as archaic.

All that to say, The Ancient Faith Prayer Book purposefully avoids this kind of language. There are no Elizabethan forms used, and (again, speaking as an outsider), I believe this is for the better. Thus, this volume is a collection of prayers—both ancient and modern—based on timeless truths, and written for a contemporary audience.

At 6.9 x 4.5 x 0.5 inches, this 176-page volume fits easily into the hand and is easy to carry. My copy is a paperback with a nice-looking grained green cover that sells for $14.95; however, there is also a deluxe leather edition for a fairly reasonable $39.95 directly from Ancient Faith Publishing. Physical copies have pages of a very decent quality with red ink for headings and drop cap letters. A Kindle edition sells for $9.99, and to my knowledge, the title is not offered on any Bible software platforms, although it would make a worthy addition.

I don’t believe I could, in good faith, pray every prayer in this book. Some of the prayers would not square with my own beliefs. However, for those who are like me and willing to focus on common elements of faith rather than differences, I would not have any problem in recommending this book to a wide audience beyond just Orthodox believers.

 Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Leave them below!

Monday
May182015

The Mystery of the Apple Watch's Improved Battery Life

I know that it can be chalked up to playing with the Apple Watch a bit more in the first few days I had it, but the improvement in battery life I've experienced over the last four days is downright bizarre. 

Anytime I've had a new mobile device, the battery drains pretty quickly the first day or two I have it because I'm spending time setting it up and just exploring it in general. After the initial newness wears off, I settle into more general usage and battery life becomes more reasonable. 

Of course, I'm not particular happy with battery life in general for any device. I realize you can't simply throw money at physics and instantly come up with super batteries--that such things take time for evolution and development--but I wish that Apple would make battery life a primary focus of their R&D. As I said the other day, if their devices could go days or even a week at a time without having to be recharged, the consumer world would beat a path to their door--not that they're actually hurting for business as things are. 

Anyway, on the first day I had my Apple Watch (Tuesday, last week), it was delivered around 11 AM, and it came charged at 75%. I had it in use by 11:30 AM, and by 8 PM, it was down to about 10%. Again, I chalked this up to first day above-average use. 

On the second day I had it, I put it on around 8 AM with a 100% charge, but by around 8 PM again, it was down to less than 10%. This didn't bother me for the same reason as the previous day. But then on Thursday of last week, my third day of use, the battery was down to 42% by 2 PM, and had I not put it back on its charger, I have no doubt it would have been dead by late afternoon. 

By that point, I was very frustrated. Having the watch only last for 12 hours or less was really not acceptable. In fact, I planned to write a post this week titled something like, "The Most Disappointing Aspect of the Apple Watch" and talk about its dismal battery life. I even bought an extra charging cable last Friday for use in my car. I didn't want to have to do it, but I thought that maybe I could at least charge it while I'm driving. In fact, while I was driving home Friday night, I was able to raise the charge by 20% in 30 minutes. However, I did that merely as a test because I noticed that by 4 PM on Friday, it was surprisingly only down to 57%. 

If I had written my complaint post, I was prepared to write what I had already told others, "The Apple Watch battery will certainly last for a traditional work day, but it won't last for my day." I want to be able to put the watch on in the morning and take it off at night without having to worry about charging it. I actually want that for all my devices. I don't want to have to plug them in during the day, but I have to anyway. Yet the Apple Watch is more personal. It's really of no use if it's not being worn. 

Saturday and Sunday, I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do--leave it on all day, and it maintained a healthy charge until I went to bed. The screenshot at the top of this post was taken at 1:30 AM today. Although I put on my Apple Watch this morning a bit later than normal, I really have no idea why I'm suddenly getting such good battery life. 

Again, it's easy to say that I was just using it more the first two or three days. But I've continued to use it all day long, every day since. I take calls on it if there's no one around whom I might annoy with a two-way conversation coming over my phone. I regulary reply to texts by voice dictation, check the time and weather; and of course, I've been monitoring battery life. Over the weekend on both Saturday and Sunday I was around people who wanted to see demonstrations of the watch. It got pretty heavy use over the weekend, and the Apple Watch lasted until I went to bed--late nights both--with battery to spare. 

So, right now, yes, in spite of my first three days experience, I'm getting at least the promised 18-hour day, if not more. I don't have brightness turned down, and I essentially have the same features turned on that I had at the end of my first day with the Apple Watch. I have no idea why my battery life has improved so much, but I'd be interested to hear if others have had the same experience. If you have, please let me know in the comments.

Sunday
May172015

My Preferred Apple Watch Face (At Least for Now)

Granted, it may not be as cool as expanding flowers and flapping butterfly wings, and it's certainly not as fun as Mickey tapping his foot to keep track of passing seconds, but I've found that for me, the watch face called "Modular" is the best suited for my uses. 

You can see the image to the left. Let me take you through its functions. Obviously, on the top row, you have date and time. Below that is the next event on my calendar. Tapping on either the date in the top left or on the calendar event will take me to the Calendar app on the watch where I can get more details about an individual event or my entire day.

On the bottom row at the far left is the current temperature. This automatically updates to my location. So no more asking of Siri, "What's the temperature outside?" on my iPhone." Funny, she's never been able to tell me what the temperature is inside. Tapping on the icon brings up the Weather app.

In the middle of the bottom row is an icon for the Fitness Tracker (move, exercise, and stand). Tapping on the icon launches the app on the watch where I can get more details. I'm actually paying attention to this, and hopefully that will result in better health. Don't judge me on so little progress so far for the day--it's early!

And then finally, on the far right is a work-related time zone of which it's helpful for me to keep track. Tapping on that icon brings up the World Clock app. 

I like the Modular face because it is extremely functional. Yes, it's not as cool or fun as other faces, but that's okay. And there are also some very nice faces that emulate moving hour, minute and second hands, but let's be honest--why do we really need hour and minute hands on a digital watch? I suppose some people will like them for the same reason they put old fashioned phone rings on their iPhones--it harkens back to those older interfaces--but to me emulating a traditional watch face is the ultimate in skeuomorphism. Hour and minute hands on a watch that has actual gears turning inside makes sense, but I don't really need it for a smartwatch. Even if it only takes milliseconds, the brain has to process the meaning of the minute and seconds hands, and this is not as efficient as simply looking at the time represented in numbers for hours and minutes. 

Nevertheless, there are choices here, so we don't all have to agree--and that's a good thing. What about you? If you have an Apple Watch, what's your favorite face to use as your primary display? Do you use other ones at other times of the day? Let me know in the comments. 

Saturday
May162015

This Week in Accordance (2015.05.16)

Here's a rundown of all things Accordance from the previous week!

 

Everyone needs good dictionaries, right? The link above will take you to the blog post and descriptions of each item on sale. These prices are good through Monday, May 18, Midnight EDT.

Here's a quick list of what's included:


Video: Creating a Combined Resource in Accordance

 

Learn how to create a combined resource to scroll in parallel with a biblical text. We recommend watching this video fullscreen.


Upcoming Training Seminars

 

There are two upcoming free training seminars, and we've got both northern and southern hemispheres covered! 

  • Chattanooga, TN (June 12)
  • Sydney, Australia (June 13)

Go to our Training Seminars page to get more information and sign up for these seminars and others.


Upcoming Free Webinars for the Coming Week

We have LOTS of free webinars on schedule for the coming week. The webinars use GoToMeeting and allow participants to directly interact with the instructor. 

  • Beginner Basics - Part 2 (Mon May 18, 4-5 PM, EDT)
  • Preparing Expository Sermons with Accordance (Tues May 19, 1-2 PM, EDT)
  • Creating an Accordance Slideshow (Tues May 19, 6-7 PM EDT)
  • Beginner Basics - Part 3 (Wed May 20, 2015, 1-2 PM EDT)
  • Sermon Preparation in Action (Thurs May 21, 12-1:15 PM EDT)
  • Using the Research Tool (Thurs May 21, 4-5 PM EDT)
  • Beginning Basics - Part 4 (Fri May 22, 1-2 PM)

Sign up for these or other sessions at our Webinars page. Also check out recordings of past webinars on our Webinar Archives page

 

If you have questions about anything above, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Friday
May152015

Theotek Podcast #24: BibleWorks 10 Update

In this morning's podcast, I gave a brief report about my experience with the Apple Watch, but the main attraction was a demonstration of the newly-released BibleWorks 10 by Dan Phillips of the Pyromaniacs website.

And I demonstrated that, yes, I can be courteous to reprepresentatives of other Bible software ;-)

Actually, I have all major Bible software platforms represented on my MacBook Pro.

So, here's this morning's podcast in all its YouTube glory:

If you want to join us live each Friday at 9 AM EST, or if you want to know where you can subscribe and download episodes, head on over to the Theotek webiste for more information. 

Feel free to add questions, thoughts comments, or rebuttals here in my comments section or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/WuxJNEh-HZA.

Thursday
May142015

Do You Use Evernote?

Note: this post is an expansion of an earlier comment I left in the Accordance forums last year. 

Do you use Evernote

Last night I ran by Best Buy to get some printer ink. I own two different printers and for the life of me, I can never remember the arcane model number assigned to either printer. And the even more arcane numbers on the printer ink boxes don't help. 

Fortunately, I knew I had the information I needed in Evernote. I pulled out my iPhone, tapped on the Evernote icon and then opened the note I had conveniently labeled "My Printers." This simple note I had created the last time I couldn't remember my printer model listed the names of both printers I own. After I located the particular ink for the printer that was out, I snapped a photo of the printer ink box and saved that in the same note. This will save me even more time the next time I go to get ink. 

Evernote helped me "remember" what printer I had, but it's also partly the reason I can never remember my particular printer. I hardly ever print anything these days because I simply save everything to Evernote instead. So it's rare that I actually have to get printer ink in the first place. 

Evernote works so well for me because it is ubiquitous. There's an Evernote app for just about every computer and mobile platform, but I can also access my content from a web browser simply by logging into the Evernote site. I have the ability to access my information pretty much wherever I am--on my own devices or even on someone else's.

So what kind of stuff do I keep in Evernote? 

  1. MiscellanyEvernote is a repository of all the miscellaneous information that I might need access to: account numbers, login and password info, the name of my printer when I go to buy ink cartridges, my wife's favorite food orders if I'm picking up dinner, gift idea lists, a snapshot of my license plate for when I'm checking into a hotel so that I don't have to run back and look at it, prescriptions. You get the idea. It doesn't matter what device I'm using--I have access to all this stuff all the time. Good organization and keyword tagging are key, of course. 
  2. ResearchEvernote is wonderful for research notes for the same reasons described above. Little snippets of information can be clipped from just about anywhere. I can organize content and have it with me at all times. 
  3. Composition. I often start writing on one device and finish on another. Or sometimes inspiration hits, and I need to write something down immediately. Maybe I only have my iPhone with me at the time;but I can add my thoughts on it, and later I can pull up the same note on my laptop. Often I have jumped back and forth between two or three devices in writing something, easily grabbing whatever is closest to me. Evernote is not necessarily the final application for what I'm working on, but it's nearly always where I start.
  4. PDFs and clipped articles. Originally, I used DevonTHINK Pro for collecting PDFs, but as mobile access became more important to me, I abandoned DTP because I was not satisfied with their mobile solutions. I moved thousands of PDF files--mostly articles--into Evernote. Now I have access to them anywhere and anytime. I also clip articles straight from my web browser that I want to save directly to Evernote through the "Clip to Evernote" plug-in. 
  5. Meeting Notes. Usually in a meeting I will take notes in Evernote. But occasionally, I write out notes on a notepad with a pen. In the latter case, the iPhone version of Evernote has a great built-in document scanner that allows me to save my handwritten notes directly into Evernote. And there's even some kind of Evernote voodoo built in that allows me to search through handwritten notes--when I have taken the time to write halfway legibly.
  6. Read later content. I have a "*To Be Read" folder in Evernote that contains a lot of the web-clipped articles that I want to read later but may or may not save after I read them. I put the asterisk (*) in the title of this folder so that it will show up at the top of my notebook list, right under "*Inbox."
  7. Blog & newsletter subscriptions. Evernote will give you a specific email account tied to Evernote. This is not a regular email account--you can't reply to an email, for instance. But anything I send to Internet will automatically show up in my Evernote Inbox in the app. I use this to subscribe to blogs or online newsletters. After I read the content, I can delete it or file it elsewhere in Evernote. 
  8. On-the-fly webpages. The share feature in Evernote lets me instantly create a webpage with a unique evernote.com URL. I often do this if I need to share information quickly--perhaps something I need others to proofread or a PDF too large to email. Related to this there are also collaboration tools in Evernote that allow multiple people to access the same note from within the application. 
  9. Grocery lists. This is a pretty simple thing, but I often use Evernote to create a grocery list complete with checkboxes that I can check off as I shop. This also makes for great To-Do lists. 

Probably about 90% of Evernote's features are free to use. I've had the premium members (my debit card is charged $5/month) since 2010. Evernote recently updated their tiers, so I now have unlimited uploads of content each month--especially helpful when adding a lot of PDFs. If you're interested in trying out Premium and would be so kind, send me your email (which you can find on the About page of this website), and I'll send you a special Premium invite which will earn me Evernote "points."

By the way, I know that there are other services similar to Evernote out there. Microsoft's OneNote is the biggest competitor. I'm not interested in starting a platform war (and these tools really are platforms all of their own). My choice to use Evernote is not meant as a slam to OneNote. I began using Evernote around 5 years ago because it was on every device I had, and OneNote was not. I'm sure OneNote is fine, but I now have over 800 notes in Evernote, so I'm not going anywhere else. Plus, I'm perfectly satisfied with Evernote (except for the fact that the recently-updated Mac interface is now devoid of all Evernote-green accents--boo!).

What about you? Do you use Evernote? If so, how? Let me know if the comments section. 

Wednesday
May132015

Apple Watch: One Day In

My Apple Watch arrived yesterday (42mm space gray Sport). There are plenty of reviews out there, repeating much of the same information. I'm not going to offer another one of those, but I will offer you a bulleted list of thoughts and reflections after wearing it (except when sleeping and showering--although, evidently, the latter is okay) for almost a full day.

If you do want to read a "good" review of the Apple Watch, I recommend Walt Mossberg's post at Re/code, "A Month With the Apple Watch: Does It Pass the Test of Time?" because he's actually been using it every day for an entire month, which is something very few reviewers can claim. And I also recommend all the Apple Watch coverage at iMore. There you will find not only reviews, but also "how to" articles written by people who are enthusiastically using the Apple Watch in a variety of contexts.

One friend asked if I was going to do an unboxing video. I was not interested in doing that because there are undoubtedly thousands of those out there, and I didn't know what I could possibly add. I did take a few photos while unboxing the Apple Watch, mainly for myself and interested family members, but if you are interested, too, you can find those photos here.

Here are my thoughts and reflections, one day in:

  • My order was in within 10 minutes after midnight PST on April 10, but it did not make the April 24 ship date. Evidently, the 42mm space gray Sport was the most popular Apple Watch ordered--the "nerd gear of choice," as some have suggested. Mine was promised to be delivered between May 13 and 27; it actually arrived on May 12.

  • UPS tracking stated that the Apple Watch would arrive between 2:30 and 6:30 PM. It arrived at 11 AM. Since it required a signature, I did not have to sit at the house all day, but what if I had been aiming to come back at 2:30?

  • Evidently, I had not watched any unboxing videos because I didn't realize what kind of packaging the Apple Watch would arrive in. I don't know about the stainless steel or gold Apple Watches, but the aluminum Sport comes in a 3 lb. box that is 15" long (see my photos). I had already noticed on UPS tracking how heavy the package was--2.2 lbs stated there. And this was for a watch? Gold is heavier than the aluminum; did they send the wrong one? Did they send me multiple watches by mistake? The box is as long as it is because the watch is laid out flat rather than wrapped in a circle like watches I've purchased in the past. Granted, the package also carried the charger, but it's actually the packaging itself that is so heavy. I kept the box, and as I put it on top of a bookshelf last night, I noticed how heavy it was even without the watch and charger inside. The Apple Watch packaging may not win any of the earth-friendly praise that Apple has received lately.

  • Minor issue, but there was no Apple sticker in the watch packaging. I would have thought there would have at least been a quarter (as in 25¢)-sized Apple logo, but no.

  • The Apple Watch came with a 75% charge on the battery. I started using it soon after 11 AM, and by 8 PM, the battery was down to 10%, so I put it on the charger. I'll chalk this up to heavier than normal use having it the first day. At least that's what I hope. [side note: I wish Apple would invest a few of their extra billions of dollars into battery technology. If they could make devices that would stay charged for days or even weeks at a time, the world would beat a path to their door.]

  • In normal wear, the Apple Watch screen is black for the purpose of saving battery. It kinda reminds me of the original digital watches from the 70s that stayed dark, requiring the wearer to press a button to see the time. The face of the Apple Watch is activated by wrist action, but it seems very similar--at least for telling the time (this is a watch, right?) to where we were four decades ago. Again, if Apple will do something about battery life, maybe the screen could remain lit up all the time.

  • Speaking of battery, while there's been lot of talk about having to charge the Apple Watch daily, I discovered that the battery on my iPhone ran down faster than usual, no doubt because of a continuous Bluetooth connection between the phone and the watch all day. I keep a vehicle charger in my truck and another on my desk, but users should be prepared for not just worrying about the watch's battery life.

  • When I initially set up the Apple Watch, I was asked if I wanted to install all the apps on my iPhone that also had Apple Watch components. I said yes which resulted in way too many apps for what I need. Later, I pulled most of these off. I can see the possible use of Skype, but I do I really need a OneDrive app on my Apple Watch? Do I need the Fandango app? It's cool that these are possible, but just not so necessary for my purposes. Once I removed most of the Apple Watch apps (you can't remove the native Apple apps, of course), it was much easier to navigate the app icons.

  • On a related note, I have also turned off most notifications, with a few exceptions, from the Apple Watch. In 2013, I had a Pebble Watch for about four weeks. I was intrigued by the technology, but the constant vibration as the watch mirrored every notification on my iPhone drove me crazy. Honestly, in regard to both apps and notifications, I think it's probably a good idea to start with everything--the entire firehose--and then determine what you really need and remove the rest.

  • Initially as I pared down what I actually wanted to have on the watch, I left text messages and email in place. By last night, I had removed email notifications. For me, email notifications don't serve much purpose. You can't actually reply to them. The email app itself remains, so you can check email manually if you want.

  • Evidently, I sit too much because the Apple Watch tells me to stand every now and then--I'm guessing about once an hour, but I haven't timed it. Our pastor is on a sabbatical, but I told the fellow who is filling in next Sunday that if he sees me standing up in the middle of his sermon, he's gone too long.

  • As others have said, it's the fitness aspects of the Apple Watch that may be one of its greatest benefits. There's no doubt that I'm not active enough, but the watch sets realistic individualized goals for each day in regard to movement and exercise. There's a desire to try to meet these goals--at least for me. And supposedly, if I start meeting my goals on a regular basis, the Apple Watch will raise the bar of expectation. Nice.

  • Let me say a word about wristwatches in general: I've lost almost every wristwatch I've owned (I need an Apple Pocket Watch that will stay tethered to me). Here's what happens: I get uncomfortable with this foreign thing on my wrist, so I take it off--usually without even consciously knowing what I'm doing. I've left watches in restaurants, classrooms, churches, parks, and all kinds of places. Therefore, other than pocket watches--again these would be tethered to me, I've tried to buy inexpensive watches the last few years knowing there was a possibility they would disappear. What makes matters worse is that although I usually wear watches fairly loosely on my wrist, the Apple Watch requires a more snug presence so that the sensors fully work. I really try not to think about it! Therefore, Kathy has forbidden me on threat worse than death to take off my Apple Watch. I admit, even now as I type this, I have a great desire to take it off and set it beside me. However, I'm trying to tough it out. It only takes something three weeks to become a habit, right? In the meantime, I'm afraid the palm rest of my MacBook Pro is going to get scuffed because I don't keep my hands raised like Mrs. Smith taught me in my high school typing class.

  • In Mossberg's report that I linked to at the top of this post, he complained that the speaker is not good enough for phone calls on the watch. No offence to Mr. Mossberg, but his older ears probably aren't as good as they used to be. I have taken two calls so far on the Apple Watch, and I thought the experience was not only good enough, but also darn convenient. I don't have to stop what I'm doing and hold onto my phone. The speaker is not the same quality as the phone, but I could hear fine. And when I talked to Kathy over the Apple Watch last night, she didn't even know I was doing anything differently until I told her that I was talking to her over the watch. Then she expressed disappointment that she was not the first person I talked to over the watch (the first call I engaged in over the Apple Watch was with Time Warner Cable when they called me; I figured that if the quality wasn't good, they deserved what they got).

  • I have a hunch that the interface of the watch will be completely different in two years. It's not that it's bad now (but there is room for improvement), but widespread use will bring refinement and change.

  • With all the "fashion" talk surrounding the Apple Watch, I don't look at my space gray aluminum Apple Watch Sport and think of it with any connection to fashion. Maybe if you had the gold Edition, but I don't know. It still seems a bit thick, though not as thick as I first feared. Again, two years will make a big difference, and I would predict (as many others have before me) that later versions of the Apple Watch will be much thinner. They may be more like fashion accessories then. If you're holding out for the time being, I'd say wait for the thinner version that is surely to come. And then spring for at least the stainless steel version with the assumption that it will be supported for years to come.

  • Which brings up another thing--there's has been lots of talk about the difference between a gold Apple Watch Edition, costing $10,000 or more and a traditionally expensive timepiece such as something from Rolex or Tag Hauer. These traditional time pieces are designed to last long term and can be passed down from generation to generation. Obviously, a device with an operating system at its center is probably not going to be passed down across generations. I would predict this, however: although the operating system on the watch will continue to be improved, I believe Apple will continue to support each iteration of the Apple Watch long term. There will be a way for the watch to still function years from now. Really, I believe they have to plan for that if they want to be successful as a watch maker.

  • While I don't think of the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, it definitely looks nicer than the Pebble Watch I briefly used a couple of years ago and the Android Wear watches that I have not used. This is probably the best of class in its field, but there's still a lot of room to grow by all smartwatch designers.

  • The black "fluoroelastomer" (a fancy kind of rubber, evidently) band is of a nicer quality than what I anticipated. However, I still want to find a cheap, 3rd party knockoff of the red band that Apple sells only with the 18-karat Edition. 3rd party bands will be the new thing and will no doubt explode onto the Apple Watch accessory scene, which will also unfortunately bring things like the hideous Apple Watch cases I've already seen. In regard to inexpensive 3rd party bands, consider my wife, Kathy. She loves watches and accessorizes the color of watches with what she's wearing. She has not jumped onto the idea of an Apple Watch yet because she would not want to be tied down to one accessory. However, if she could easily change out bands (and Apple has made the ability to switch them quite simple to do), then she might be interested.

  • There's been discussion that there's no "killer app" yet for the Apple Watch. This is true, but Mossberg dismisses this as a non-issue. Nevertheless, now that millions of people are using the device, I believe we will discover some extremely beneficial use case that hasn't even been realized yet. The health aspects alone may be the killer app. The idea of the quantified self is interesting to me (although it also seems narcissistic at some level) as long as I don't have to go to great effort to record my own data. So, for instance, I have no desire to figure out how many calories I'm burning through in a day, but if a device will keep up with that for me, great.

  • Once I got the hang of it, texting over the watch is pretty easy, and Siri's ability to dictate my voice is much improved. But in the first attempt, I accidentally sent an audio version of my message, complete with my instructions for punctuation. Embarrassing.

  • One more very important issue: distracted driving. I thought that having the Apple Watch on my wrist, up on the steering wheel at eye level, would be a convenient way to respond to a text that would not be a distraction. Not true. If anything, trying to look at anything more than time on my watch is an even greater distraction than interacting with a phone because of the smaller focus space and less-familiar interface. As always, keep your eyes on the road and take care of texts, emails, and whatever else after you have parked.

So there's my initial rundown. Maybe I'll come back and update my thoughts after the first month or so. What has your experience been like? Be certain to add your questions, thoughts, comments, or rebuttals in the Comments Section.

 

 

Monday
May112015

Dig

No, this is not an advertisement for summer archaeology opportunities. 

Essenes, Warren's Shaft, the Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, the Foundation Stone, Well of Souls, and a red heifer. This is not the normal stuff of network television. Last week, the television show, Dig, ended its first season run of 10 episodes on the USA Network. When the show was first advertised, I was under the impression that it was going to be a miniseries, but evidently, it's going to be an anthology show--changing characters and contexts each season. 

The show centers around Peter Connelly (Jason Isaacs), an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem after facing a recent family tragedy. While investigating a murder, Connelly stumbles across a conspiracy by an extremist group composed of both Christians and Jews whose common agenda could have literal apocalyptic ramifications if successful.

Now, if the above description sounds too sensationalistic, what I really appreciated about the show was that it really did not resort to sensationalism to entertain. Think of it as a DaVinci Code without the preposterous conspiratorial history and animosity toward organized religion. Most of the the series was filmed on location in Israel, and most importantly, archaeology was treated seriously. And if you want to brush up on your Hebrew, biblical or modern, there's lots of it--some with subtitles, some without.

I don't want to give away too many details, but I do recommend watching the first season. You can find most or possibly all episodes on USA's Dig website, and it is also available on iTunes. I have no doubt it will eventually be available on Netflix. There is some adult content that is not central to the storyline, so unfortunately, I cannot recommend it for the whole family.

See also the review from Biblical Archaeology Society, "TV Series 'Dig' Delivers Drama."

 

Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Leave them in the comments section. 

 

Sunday
May102015

Chronology in Haggai

Russian icon of Haggai, 18th century (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia). Source: Wikipedia.Our Bible study today at church is taken from the Book of Haggai, one of the Minor Prophets. I admit that it's been a while since I have studied Haggai, and one aspect that really intrigued me about the book is all the very specific references to dates. Consider these examples from the HCSB:

“In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:” (Hag 1:1)

“They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.” (Hag 1:14–15)

“On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through Haggai the prophet:” (Hag 2:1)

“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet:” (Hag 2:10)

“Consider carefully from this day forward; from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid; consider it carefully.” (Hag 2:18)

“The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month:” (Hag 2:20)

There are similar references to dates elsewhere in the Bible, but I can't think of any other biblical writing that has so many chronological markers in such a short amount of space--two chapters in modern versified editions. This is wonderful for the reader because a very exact chronology of events is fairly easy to trace through the writing. I found a number of commentaries and Bible dictionaries that offered chronologies of Haggai, often including his contemporary, Zechariah, another prophet known for detail in dating events. Here is a representative example:

Screen capture above from Accordance
(E. Ray Clendenen, “Haggai, Book Of.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003, p. 701.). 

Although there's some room for error in regard to the years offered above, such attention to detail seems to be more of a modern practice than an ancient one, with most biblical dating references usually focusing on distance from certain events as opposed to the specificity of month and date as offered by Haggai and Zechariah. It's too bad we don't have chronological markers this specific for other portions of the Bible, especially the events in the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and the events of the early monarchy. If the biblical writers had offered a calendar to go along with their narratives, a great number of ongoing debates would be over before they began!

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Put them in the comments section!