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Saturday
May022015

This Week in Accordance (2015.05.02)

A personal note: If you were around to remember the Remington shaver ads in the '80s, you might remember Victor Kiam stating, "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company!" Well, I haven't bought anything, but believing in the power and potential of Accordance Bible Software so greatly, I began regular work for the company. I say "regular" work because I now have a title (Technology Evangelist--this is homage to Guy Kawasaki's title at Apple in the '90s and one I requested based on what I'm doing for Accordance) and daily responsibilities. 

If you look at some of the big players in Bible Software--Accordance, Logos, WordSearch, BibleWorks, OliveTree--I used all but OliveTree before I ever started using Accordance in 1998. All of them are still on my various devices. But it was Accordance that changed everything for me. For me, and for reasons I won't rabbit trail here, Accordance became the Bible software I went to 99% of the time because I could do with it what I couldn't do with the other platforms. Accordance is one of those programs that simply stays open on my computer because I use it over and over throughout the day. Over time, I got to know some of the personalities behind the computer screen, and beginning around 2008, they started using me for an occasional training seminar or conference. Then, as of last year--June, 2014, to be specific--I'm finally with them as a day-in, day-out regular employee. 

So, now, as I try to bring This Lamp back from the throes of death due to neglect, I want to continue including content about Accordance even though I work for the company. But I want to point out an important difference here. If I say something about Accordance on the Accordance FaceBook page, it's an "official" statement. If I say it here, it's unofficial. If I say something through the Accordance Twitter account, I'm speaking for the company. Here, I'm not. What I write here is not part of my job; I'm not counting hours or getting paid for anything I include on This Lamp. This just goes back to my sentiment that echoes Victor Kiam. I really am all-in with this.

Having said that, one thing I thought I might do is to create a quick rundown each week of all that's new with Accordance, usually posting on the weekend. Today's post will be the first of these. 

So what's new with Accordance this week?

NIVAC Sale. As of this writing, you've still got seven days to take advantage of this. Zondervan partnered with Accordance (and a few other not-to-be-named-here platforms) to offer the NIV Application Commentary at 70% off through May 9. This is a really good deal. We've never offered these prices this low before, and the commentary is a good mid-range set that, while emphasizing contemporary relevance, also takes original context seriously. 

Three new releases from Tremper Longman. If you've read anything from Longman, you're aware that he's a topnotch scholar who knows how to communicate in a style that's very understandable to those who are not necessarily scholars. This week, we released three of his four "How to Read" books: How to Read Genesis, How to Read Exodus, and How to Read Proverbs. Introductory pricing is still available for about two more days as of this writing, so don't delay picking these up.

Accordance 11.05 was released for Windows & OS X. The update can be accessed by going to Application Update inside Accordance. The official general statement is "Improved export capabilities, updated colors, report topic corrections, and many improvements and fixes across the board," but you may be interested in the specifics as it pertains to the individual Mac and Windows platforms.

Check out the Sermon Prep webinar (recorded). We've heard numerous times the competition privately telling potential customers, "Well, Accordance is okay for original languages, but not so much for ministry tasks like preparing sermons." Baloney. Tell that to the thousands of pastors who use Accordance every week for preparing their sermons! Anyway, this webinar taught by Pastor Abram Kielsmeier-Jones is a great introduction for using Accordance to prepare sermons. For that matter, any Accordance user who has any kind of regular teaching responsibilities will find this session to be extremely practical. 

And while you're thinking about webinars, take a look at the upcoming Accordance webinar schedule. Our webinars are becoming a chief way to hone one's skills in using the Bible software. 

 

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Put them in the comments.

Friday
May012015

Review: Toshiba Encore 2 Write (Updated)

Note: I originally wrote this review on January 30, 2015 for SurfaceGeeks.net. I am taking the original review as a base and updating it a bit now that I've had the device for a few months. The original version can be read at http://surfacegeeks.net/toshiba-encore-2-write-review.html

The Problem with Windows Tablets

I’ve long felt that Windows tablets need a stylus. Touch-centric Windows Store apps are simply not robust enough to use exclusively as a platform by themselves. If they had been Windows RT would still be around. The reality is we still need to rely on some desktop apps; but unfortunately, these don’t work as well with touch alone. This issue is heightened on smaller tablets where the desktop touchpoints can be even more difficult to accurately access. Plus, many websites and Windows desktop applications use mouseover functions that simply don't work in a purely touch environment (which is also why so many websites have dedicated apps on mobile platforms).

 

It seems, however, that very few Windows tablets emphasize or even support some kind of digital or active stylus. For instance, the Dell Venue 8 Pro (which I used to own) is a very capable tablet, but the stylus seems like an afterthought. Sold separately, it took three versions for Dell to get the stylus right. And even then—in my experience—the stylus seems awkward to use with the tablet.

Many of us were hopeful that the much-rumored Microsoft Surface Mini would be the mini tablet we were hoping for. But for whatever reason (and I have my theories), Microsoft pulled it at the last minute, leaving the Surface Mini to remain the stuff of fables and legends.

In recent months, new Windows tablets of 8" or smaller seem to appear every few weeks. I could not pass up the HP Stream 7 for only $99 when I saw one in person at the local Microsoft Store popup this past December. The Stream 7 is an amazing device, but it’s difficult to use, confirming my conviction even more that a Windows tablet needs a stylus.

Enter the Encore 2 Write

When the Toshiba Encore 2 Write was announced at CES, I immediately thought that perhaps this would be the tablet I had been hoping for. There are a number of things the Encore 2 Write has going for it, but two immediate qualities stood out to me. First, this tablet comes standard with 64 GB of drive space. I’m sorry, but 32 GB on a Windows device of any kind is not enough because the operating system simply takes up too much space from the beginning. A microSD slot helps, but apps run fastest on the primary internal drive.

Second, the Encore 2 Write includes an active stylus that does not seem to be an afterthought. The stylus does not need to be ordered separately; it comes with the tablet. The stylus and the digitizer built into the screen are the first to use Wacom’s new “Active ES” pen technology (see Reuters story here.) The addition of three new apps from Toshiba for note taking indicates that this is a primary purpose for which this tablet was designed.

The Encore 2 Write actually comes in two models: the 8" version ($349), which I purchased, and a 10" model ($399) as well. Besides the screen size, there are two interesting differences between the two models. Otherwise, everything else I describe here essentially applies to both.

While both Include a 1.2MP font-facing camera, the smaller 8" tablet has a rear 8MP camera; while the larger 10" tablet only has a 5MP camera. Why the larger tablet would have the lesser camera, I have no idea. Toshiba includes an app called TruCapture, which according to their promotional copy, is designed “to capture notes from textbooks, blackboards, whiteboards and chalkboards and automatically straighten and sharpen the text for greater readability.” And, of course, I often use tablets to take quick scans of documents, so the higher the megapixel the better.

The other difference between the two tablets has to do with the larger tablet including a microHDMI port for presentations. It’s a shame that this extra output feature is missing from the smaller tablet, and you really have to pay close attention to the promo copy to realize it’s not there. Nevertheless, users of the 10" Encore 2 Write will have an easier time connecting the tablet to an HDMI-equipped projector or TV. Fortunately, for those with the smaller tablet, I have confirmed in my own use that USB to VGA adapters do work for presentations or using an external monitor.

On a related note to the above, Toshiba sells a Connect and Charge Micro-USB Cable as an accessory to both tablets, which means that it is possible to use the micro USB port for peripherals and to charge the device at the same time. Although I’ve not seen anyone test it yet, I assume that the Encore 2 Write will work with one of the Pluggable docking stations to make this device convert to a full desktop solution if someone were so inclined.

Software Included for Notes & Meetings

My Encore 2 Write is the Signature Edition from the online Microsoft Store, so it came free from some of the usually-unnecessary software that you might find if purchasing directly from Toshiba. However, three apps specific to this device remain: TruNote, TruCapture (mentioned earlier), and TruRecorder.

TruNote is what you would expect—it’s a note taking app and a good one at that. It’s very customizable and handles note taking quite well. Although it does not OCR handwritten notes, you can search for your handwritten text because it will search for similar shapes if you write a word into the search field. I’m not certain how much I would use TruNote, however, because I’m already invested in other note-taking apps such as Evernote, and to a lesser extent, OneNote. Although Evernote does not read handwritten text, the Microsoft pen input keyboard available to use with any app does, and does so quite well. In fact, I wrote a large portion of this review strictly using Evernote and the Encore 2 Write stylus. The other advantage Evernote and OneNote have is their ubiquity. I can create a note on one device and open it on any other device. Nevertheless, notes can be exported out of TruNote, so it’s possible that if I found it more capable for basic stylus input note taking, I could use it and then import my notes into another app such as Evernote.

Taking a note (pun intended) from the Surface Pro 3, the Encore 2 Write will also let you write on the screen without completely logging in first. Holding down the lower button on the stylus while touching the lockscreen will immediately launch a virtual blank sheet of paper for taking down a quick note. Once you log onto the tablet, your note will be waiting for you in TruNote.

I haven’t had a chance to fully test TruRecorder yet, but it seems like an intriguing app. The Encore 2 Write comes with two microphones, which allows TruRecorder to better distinguish among individual voices. So, if the software works as advertised, you can record a meeting and TruRecorder will break down individual voices into their own tracks that can be listened to individually at a later time. I haven’t had a chance to really test this out yet, but I often have opportunity to record  meetings, so I will try it soon.

The Hardware

In addition to the hardware specs already mentioned, both versions of the Encore 2 Write come with an Intel Atom Z3735F Processor and 2 GB of RAM. They both run Windows 8.1 with Bing. Although I’d prefer more RAM, I haven’t had any real issues yet. Of course, I won’t be editing video or running CAD software on this device either. Plus, if I had to choose between RAM and drive space, I’m actually much more appreciative of the standard 64 GB of the latter.

The Wacom technology built into the screen and the accompanying TruPen work together quite well. Supposedly, together, there are 2048 degrees of sensitivity. This will result in darker lines when pushing the pen harder against the screen, but I’m not artist enough to really test this feature out. All I can say is that the pen feels quite natural—again, much better than the stylus with my Dell Venue 8 Pro. In fact, having owned three previous Windows machines with stylus input—the original Surface Pro, the Dell Venue 8 Pro, and the Acer R7-572—I believe that I can fairly say that the Encore 2 Write has the most natural writing experience of any of the devices I’ve used.

The original Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 came with Wacom technology before switching to N-trig for the Surface Pro 3. Unlike the plastic pens that came with the first two iterations of the Surface Pro, the Encore 2 Write “TruPen” is made of metal (presumably aluminum) and uses a AAAA battery. There is a cap for the pen, and the user manual says the battery will last longer if the cap is kept on the pen when not in use. This must be the modern equivalent of the ink drying out if you leave the cap off a marker. I’m actually more concerned about losing that cap (although it attaches to the top of the stylus) or worse, bending it by grabbing it too hard to pull it off the pen.

Toshiba promises 11+ hours of battery life. I haven’t formally tested this, but I can say the battery is lasting all day with moderate to heavy use. That’s good news since I don’t care to carry cords if I don’t have to. And it’s much better than the HP Stream 7 I recently bought that has the worst battery life I’ve seen since the old NiCad days.

The Nitpicks

I have two minor quibbles with the Encore 2 Write beyond wishing the microHDMI port had been added to the 8" model.

First, I have a hunch that Toshiba may have rushed the Encore 2 Write out the door so that it could be released during CES a couple of weeks ago. I say that because there are no specific accessories made to go with this tablet. I have searched everywhere for a folio case/cover that would work with the Encore 2 Write, but they don’t (yet) exist. Toshiba will sell you a cover for the regular Encore 2, but all of the Encore 2 cases cover the pen clip slot on the bottom right side of the screen. The second microphone also gets covered up by the existing cases available.

To get around this, I ordered a third party cover for the regular Encore 2, and I cut off the right edge that would block the ability to dock the pen. The second microphone is still covered, but I can live with this for right now.

I should also note that as of this writing, it’s impossible to order a replacement stylus [update: they're now available here]. I have always bought an extra stylus or two to keep handy for when my original pen inevitably gets lost. Right now, if that were to happen, I’d simply be out of luck unless Wacom is selling their own stylus with the new “Active ES” technology.

My second quibble is extremely minor. To keep from losing the pen, which I’ve already stated I fear doing, the Encore 2 Write comes with a handy strap that’s supposed to secure the pen to the tablet. On the right side of the tablet, the same side where the TruPen can be docked, there’s a strap hook. Okay, I can understand how to attach the strap to the hook—easy enough—but I see no way to attach it to the pen. Sure, it can be looped around the pocket clip, but that’s not going to keep it from getting lost. Granted, I’m not the most mechanically-minded person out there, but I really believe this is an oversight. I contacted Toshiba’s tech support with this question, and they didn’t have a clue either. Go figure. [Update: a user on one of the forums where I posted this question demonstrated a way to connect the strap to the stylus. It works, but it's not overly secure.]

The Best 8" Tablet? 

In spite of the minor issues, the Toshiba Encore 2 Write turns out to be the exact 8" tablet I have been wanting. It seems made for the stylus instead of the stylus being an afterthought, and there is enough drive space—and more with an added microSD card—to make the tablet truly useful as a mobile computing experience. I specifically wanted the 8" size, but for only $49 more at $399, the full 10" tablet is a bargain. I highly recommend it—especially since the Surface mini continues to be a no-show!

Two Additional Thoughts

When I originally wrote this post for SurfaceGeeks, it didn't seem appropriate to discuss performance on Accordance, but I will mention it briefly here. Note that a Windows tablet allows use of the full blown desktop Accordance instead of the powerful, but less feature-rich iOS version. Unlike Logos, which is unbearable (and unusable) on any PC or tablet with an Atom processor, Accordance will run on any computer that you can buy off the shelf as well as just about any computer currently in use today. I've actually enjoyed using Accordance on the Encore 2 Write. It's handy for taking to church. They stylus is required, of course, for crossover highlighting of English and original language biblical texts as well as the minimize, maximize and close buttons in Accordance zones. I highly recommend it for this kind of use. Moreover, use of a tablet like the Encore 2 Write allows use of Accordance in portrait mode, which brings about a completely different perspective on how to use the software, especially for reading monograph titles. See the screenshot below of Accordance on the Encore 2 Write to see an example of this. 

I should also point out that when I wrote the original review, the idea of a Surface Mini was still fresh in a lot of people's minds. There was hope that perhaps this device, which was rumored to have already been in production before Microsoft cancelled it, might still show up at some point. Since that time, Microsoft has announced the Surface 3, a less-expensive and smaller Surface tablet running a full version of Windows (as opposed to the now-discontinued Windows RT) on a slightly more powerful Atom processor (Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700). I was offered the opportunity to order a 128 GB Surface 3 with keyboard and pen for half the regular price. That was too good of a deal to pass up, but I have no justification for keeping both the Encore 2 Write and the Surface 3. Presumably, if I like the Surface 3, I will probably put the Encore 2 Write up for sale on eBay. 

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Leave them in the comments.

Tuesday
Sep302014

Review: iPhone 6 Plus Case with Kickstand from i-Blason

 

 

Although I bought the leather Apple case for the iPhone 6 Plus, I was concerned that it would prevent scratches but not hard drops. Therefore, I bought the i-Blason case to have as well. The case is better quality than what I thought it would be for the price. It's very sturdy and solid. If you're afraid that you might bend your iPhone 6 Plus (and I'm not), this may be the case for you.

The i-Blason case fits the iPhone 6 Plus perfectly, although the camera hole is slightly off vertically. This is not a big deal as there is plenty of room around the camera so the lens is not obstructed. If anything, it's remarkable how accurate the case is considering it shipped the same day the phones were available, so there's no way the company could have had them in hand when creating these cases.

One reason I chose this case had to do with the ability to have the kickstand to prop the phone on its side. This works quite well, although it's slightly awkward to snap the stand into place. There's no equivalent issue with folding it back in place, though.

The power button and volume button overlays feel like they make a better connection than Apple's own case. When I press them it feel like I'm pressing a button rather than something on top of a button. 

I'm not interested in using the belt clip (that's a bit too 1999 Palm Pilot for me), but that's a separate piece so the case does not require the clip for use.

Note that shipment comes from i-Blason not Amazon and shipped via DHL. My shipment was scheduled to be delivered between a Wednesday and a Friday, but it didn't come until Tuesday of the next week. Even DHL indicated that it would arrive by the earlier Friday, so I have no idea why it was so late. I'm not sure if it was the fault of the DHL or i-Blason.

 

Feel free to add your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals in the comments.

 

Monday
Mar312014

Happy 20th Birthday, Accordance!

Accordance is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, having released version 1.0 in 1994. I didn't begin using it until 1998, when it was around version 3, I believe. Accordance played a significant role in my move from using Windows to the Macintosh in 1998. As I was considering the transition, Bible software was my last and most important holdup. I wanted to make certain that I could still access original language texts like I could do with the software I was using at the time in Windows. Someone told me about Accordance, and I began researching the program. After reading a handful of 3rd party reviews, I was blown away. I can't remember the details now, but I remember realizing that I couldn't do what I was reading about Accordance in any program that I knew of running on Windows.

Of course, today Accordance runs on Windows as well as the Mac--and iOS. I use Accordance every day and have done so for years. I have four Bible software programs installed on my MacBook Pro, but 95% of what I need Bible software for I do in Accordance. It's my go-to program. Accordance is not only fast, but it also does all my exegetical "heavy lifting." 

Through April 9, Accordance is running a 20% off everthing sale. That's everthing--even the larger collections of software. To take advantage of the sale, use the code "Anni20."

 

Your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome in the comments section.

Wednesday
Feb122014

My Latest Words on Books of Words...

Yes, I am still alive.

One day, I would really like to get back to regular blogging. I miss it, and I miss the interaction. At its high point this blog got about 750 hits a day. Now, it's about 200 with me doing very little. But I'll be back to regular posts eventually. Hopefully, this year. 

In the meantime, I did write a post for the Accordance Blog. See "The Latest Word on Lexicons (Pun Intended)."

 

 

Thursday
Oct172013

My DNA Results Are No Longer Boring!

Last year, I wrote a post titled "Are My DNA Results Boring?" This question was a response to my results from Ancestry.com's autosomal DNA test, which they are still currently promoting. I felt my DNA results were boring because they revealed very little diversity in my ancestral lineage--in fact, less diversity than my own family tree research would suggest.

Here are my original Ancestry.com results:

But now Ancestry.com has rejiggered their results. Suddenly my DNA results are much more diverse:

Suddenly my DNA heritage feels much more exciting! These results, by the way, are more in line with the testing that I also had done last year with FamilyTreeDNA.com:

 I like the new results much better. I just have to wonder what they'll look like next year.

 

Questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome in the comments.

Friday
Oct112013

Accordance for Windows on a Surface Pro

Last week, Accordance for Windows dropped its "beta" status and was released to the world. I've been running Accordance for Windows since very early builds on my Surface Pro, and I've watched as each release improved stability and added in features already present in the Mac version. 

For those who don't know, Accordance has been a premium Bible software application on the Macintosh since 1994. It was the first Bible application on the Mac to bring original biblical languages to users, and it has continued to maintain its reputation as being the application for serious study of biblical Greek and Hebrew (and now a number of other related languages).

Accordance has always had the reputation of being extremely fast, able to perform complex searches, often in a literal blink of the eye. Fortunately, the newly released Windows version maintains that same speed and flexibility. 

As I mentioned, I've been running Accordance on a Microsoft Surface Pro (128 GB model, running Windows 8.1 Preview). I've put together a video that lasts roughly 12 and a half minutes featuring Accordance on my Surface Pro. Normally, if I were demonstrating software, I'd use screen recording software, but in this instance, I've used a hand-held Canon video camera so that I can demonstrate the use of a digital pen. 

Here's my video on YouTube. I recommend watching it full screen at 720p or 1080p.

Or if you like, here's the original and more shaky version on Vimeo.

Want to run Accordance on your own Surface Pro? Oak Tree Software has just announced that they are giving away a brand new Surface Pro 2 to a lucky winner. Enter here.

For more on Accordance for Windows:

 

As always, your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome in the comments.


Friday
Jun212013

Hot Shoe Burnin' Down the Avenue (Panama!)*

Kathy and I will be leaving early Saturday morning (June 22) for a week's vacation in Panama that she won while on Wheel of Fortune last year. The prize package was put together by Caravan Tours, and it looks like we're going to have a very full week ahead of us. If you're interested, you can see our full itinerary HERE.

We will be staying at three different resorts during the week that all promise to include WiFi. Our goal is to post some daily (graphical) journals using iPhoto for iPad. I will attempt to edit this post all week and add the links to the journals as they are available. If we're connected on FaceBook, I will also post links there.

Bookmark this post and come back during the week to see updates to our trip.

Day 1: https://www.icloud.com/journal/#1;CAEQARoQUXEZFi8IwAfcotF5uYJi8w;C4FD9267-B2B6-4647-8FE9-3DE4AF9177E4

(I'll come back and fix the URLs to proper links later.)

*According to Wikipedia, evidently the Van Halen song "Panama" has nothing to do with the country of Panama. Oh well.

Friday
Jun212013

New -Jobs- Trailer: Does It Look Any Better Now?

Released today: new trailer for -Jobs- with Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. The clip released a few months back looked terrible. This first official trailer looks a bit better.

Thought? Opinions? Go!

Friday
Jun142013

Proofreading Apple

I got this email from Apple yesterday:

Granted, Apple is made up of fallible people just like any other company, and I'm the first to admit I make enough errors of my own. Nevertheless, I was still surprised to see the two sentences that I have highlighted above. 

The first sentence should probably read, "We are contacting you regarding the iOS Developer Program." The second sentence contains a comma splice (two independent clauses joined by a comma instead of a period or semicolon). 

When I first read the email, I honestly thought it was perhaps a phishing scam and not from Apple at all. I later determined the email really was from Apple, and this surprised me because I expect a level of professionalism from the company greater than this based on my years of experience with them.

Again, this is a good reminder to me that companies are made up of real people who make mistakes--just like I do. However, it should also be a reminder to all of us to proofread what we send out!

 

Your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome below.