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Thursday
Apr012010

The iPad Cometh

Great video review from PC Magazine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Luj263H_56A&feature=player_embedded

Wednesday
Mar312010

Is It Time to Sell My (Dead-Tree Format) Books?

I realized something in the last few days. As I've acquired digital copies of books in software like Accordance, WORDsearch, and Logos, I rarely pick up hard copy equivalents anymore if I have them on the shelf.

As these programs transition to devices such as the iPad, their functionality as replacement engines for physical books increases. Even a product like Olive Tree's Bible Reader—the clear superior product of its type on the iPhone—stands to take on whole new significance on the iPad.

Kathy and I have an entire room in our house that holds a personal library of somewhere over 2500 volumes. But I've got at least that many books on the MacBook Pro from which I'm writing this right now. Probably more. And my MacBook Pro weighs a lot less and takes up much less space!

My neglect of the physical wasn't always this way. I used to use Accordance to find an article in the Anchor Bible Dictionary and then I'd oven pull the book off the shelf to read it—especially if it was a longer article. But I just don't do that anymore. It's simply more convenient to read it in Accordance.

And as I look around, I've got a lot of significant duplication: the already mentioned six volume Anchor (Yale) Bible Dictionary, the 10 volume Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Colin Brown's four volume New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Willem VanGemeren's five volume New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 50 or so volumes of the Word Biblical Commentary as well as hundreds of other commentaries, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, scores of individual references such as BDAG and HALOT, hundreds of theological journals (yes, I even have duplicates of these) and so much more.

I don't know for certain, but I bet that I could eliminate at least a third of my physical library that duplicates electronic texts I have, allowing us perhaps to throw a pullout futon bed in there and create a guest room!

Of course, having fought (and mostly lost) the battle with being a bit of a bibliophile, such parting is no easy task. I like my (physical) books! I like the look of a room with multiple floor-to-ceiling bookcases. I can fool guests into thinking I'm much smarter than I actually am. And although I increasingly find digital books more useful, I often still more easily "bond" with physical books. True bibliophiles will understand. But maybe this is just emotional sentimentality.

The key factor in my decision rests in the fact that, as I've already mentioned, I've found I simply don't use the physical copies once I have electronic duplicates. And to hold on to things I don't use or need makes me a hoarder and a glutton of things.

There's always the risk that in 20 years, I might not be able to access my books if they are in an abandoned digital format. Physical books generally outlive the original owner. But I'm going to bet against such pessimism. There's comfort in numbers, and the fact that vast numbers of the population are moving to digital books makes me feel somewhat safe that they'll still be around in the future.

In the meantime, even selling the books at a significant discount, I think I can make a pretty decent amount of money on them. I imagine I'll probably list most of the books on Amazon, although I might sell a few combined sets like the NIDNTT & NIDOTTE on eBay. Because of shipping, Craig's List would be a good place for my entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Generally, encyclopedias don't have a great resale value, so I may have to see what kind of "best offer" I can get. Regardless, I'm not using them, and they take up a lot of space.

What about you? Have you sold large quantities of physical books because you had them duplicated on your computer? How did you sell them? What worked best? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday
Mar292010

Updated HCSB Text Now Available in Accordance

On the left: 2003 HCSB text; on the right: 2009/10 HCSB textOver the weekend, OakTree Software released two updated HCSB modules that reflect the newest revisions to the text. In addition to releasing a free update to the basic HCSB module, a new HCSB module keyed to the original Hebrew and Greek texts was released also.

Now that the HCSB is a keyed text, direct correspondence can be seen between the HCSB and the original texts from the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. The underlying original language word displays in the instant details box. Double clicking on a word in the HCSB text now launches the appropriate Greek or Hebrew dictionary. And for the user who has not studied biblical languages, searches can be made in the HCSB directly based on key numbers.

Accordance makes use of a "default" search text when launching new search windows. Even after studying Greek and Hebrew, I've always kept a keyed English translation as my default because it allowed for quick access to both Old and New Testaments which would not be possible if, for example, I made the Greek New Testament my default search text. For years the keyed NASB was my default text. Then, a couple of years ago when the NRSV was developed with key numbering, it became my default. Now the HCSB keyed text becomes my default search text—for my purposes a very welcome change.

For my interests, I'm very excited to be able to finally do  a full comparison of changes in the updated HCSB text. This text is not being referred to as a "second edition" by Lifeway because they said the number of changes didn't warrant it (after seeing for myself, I disagree, but, hey, I'm not the publisher). Last year an electronic copy of the updated text was first released in WORDsearch although we were told print editions wouldn't see the changes until this year (2010). Based on my own hunting through the WORDsearch text, I wrote a post "HCSB 2009: A Brief Survey of Selected Changes."

Now, however, with the text(s) in Accordance, I can run a side by side comparison. I can do this because I'm opting not to update the original HCSB module just yet, and I can set it side-by-side with the new keyed HCSB module for comparison:


Back in 2007, I posted changes between the original and updated editions of the ESV text. I may do the same with the HCBS, although it would be a bigger project, and I'm so busy right now, that may have to wait until summer. I've done some preliminary comparisons and here are a handful of general items I've discovered:


  • The much-complained-about brackets are gone! Notice v. 4 in the screenshot above. These were still present, but to a lesser extent, in the WORDsearch text.

  • The Old Testament seems to contain more revision in general than the New Testament. Some books such as Genesis have received even more revision than other books.

  • Despite the fact that the handlers of the HCSB are not calling this a "second edition" or "revised" text, there does seem to be a much greater level of revision than what was seen between the 2007 ESV text and its predecessor.

  • Evidently the 2009 text seen in the WORDsearch update was not the final word on updates to the HCSB text. There are changes in the Accordance module that were not present in the WORDsearch text, and both 2009 and 2010 copyright dates are being referred to. Perhaps we can safely call this the "2010 HCSB text" even if for an informal designation.

I look forward to examining the updates in more detail, and as I have time, I'll post my discoveries in side-by-side columns here on This Lamp unless someone beats me to it (which would be fine).

Thursday
Mar252010

Six Simple Rules for Periodicals on My iPad

The forthcoming iPad is being heralded by some as the savior of the press (newspapers and magazines alike). It's no secret that print media has been hit by hard times. Newspapers have lost revenue due to online services such as Craig's List and eBay. Both newspapers and magazines have been hurt by the Internet where information is instantaneous and usually free.

By the time the local paper reaches your door early in the morning, most of the content has already been available online for hours. It can even be worse for magazines. I've subscribed off and on to news magazines such as Time over the years. Right now my subscription is lapsed while I wait for a "better" re-subscription offer to come in the mail (it always eventually does). But in the meantime, I've had no problem keeping up with articles in Time through their daily emails linking to current stories. It really begs the question of why I need a subscription in the first place.

I've noticed that many newspapers have actually shrunk their page size while keeping prices the same, thus saving a bit of money. Meanwhile, magazines I subscribe to such as Macworld and Wired are downright anaemic in thickness compared to just a few years ago. So, yes, print media is having noticeable problems.

Thus enters the iPad, followed by a host of other electronic tablets and devices. Certainly the idea of a tablet computer is not new. Nor is the iPad the first to offer subscriptions to periodicals (the Kindle's been doing this with a number of titles since its inception). However, there's never been this much excitement about periodicals on an electronic device before. There've never been so many announcements from publishers of upcoming titles as their has been in the wake of the iPad announcement.

Whether the iPad and similar devices can save print media remains to be seen, but if this happens, we may be living in a time of  significant shifts in the way we acquire and consume periodicals.

My wife and I subscribe to about half a dozen magazines at any given time as well as a few academic journals. While we still occasionally read newspapers, we usually get our copies second hand. In light of our own consumption of periodicals, I've been thinking about a few certain "givens" that ought to be in place for me to read periodicals on an iPad (if I had an iPad!).

Here they are:

1. Digital Should Be Cheaper than Print Copies

This is a must, right? I want publishers to be healthy and make profit. But at the same time, they stand to save money by reducing printing and delivery costs through electronic delivery. At least some of this savings should be passed on to readers. Plus, their's something psychological about the physical vs. the virtual. I have my doubts that publishers can as easily transition from physical pages to non-tangible electronic pages unless the electronic version is cheaper.


2. Like Print, Digital Copies Should Be Shared within a Household.

Right now, when a magazine comes in the mail, my wife and I share it. Electronic magazines should be shared within a household, too. Maybe this could be achieved by allowing one other account to have to a digital copy of a periodical. Or maybe it could be shared within an internal network.

When Entertainment Weekly comes in the mail, it's read cover to cover by my wife. I might read a little bit of it. But if I couldn't easily access it, I'd read little or none at all. This is a convenience issue, and one that ought to be considered by both publishers and especially advertisers.

If the iPad and similar devices truly do catch on, it's easily conceivable that every member of a household will eventually have their own tablet—even children. There's no reason why one individual should have to give up his or her use of an iPad for another individual to read content. It should be easily transferred to the other person's device.

Publishers may be tempted to greed here, thinking that more subscriptions will be sold if their content cannot be shared. But I don't think this will happen. What will happen is that fewer eyes will read the content and advertisers will reach fewer potential buyers.

I understand the desire to limit piracy and too many people reading content that's been paid for once, but there should still be limited access by a small group of individuals such as in a family unit or on one internal network.


3. It's Mine Forever.

When we first got married, Kathy discouraged any subscriptions to National Geographic because we visited a home where 30 years' worth of gold-colored spines filled the living room bookshelves. Over the years I've determined that magazines can pile up beside my nightstand to not quite a foot in height before my better half starts to grumble. If left to my own devices, forty years from now I'd be the subject of a segment about hoarders on a late night news show, but I do begrudgingly throw old magazines out at irregular intervals.

Surely digital magazines and newspapers will ease my guilt about trashing what is sometimes great content. On an environmental level, digital content should ease our culture's guilt over how much paper we throw into landfills every year.

But here's the deal: if I get a magazine or newspaper delivered wirelessly to an iPad, I ought to be able to access it forever. Barring platform and format viability, of course, my access to content for which I've paid should never simply expire. I don't want a time limit on how long I can keep the latest issue of a magazine. I should be able to access any article from any issue of my subscription any time I want—no matter how long ago it was published.


4. Fair Use of Content Should Be Allowed

Lately, I've been playing around with the Kindle app on the iPhone as well as the PC and Mac versions. I think it's super-smart for Amazon to diversify how their content can be accessed. Having said that, however, I am very disappointed that the Kindle apps I've used so far are simply dumb readers without search capabilities or even copy and paste. While I'm glad to have access to Amazon's large selection of electronic books without having to actually buy a Kindle, feature-wise, Adobe Reader stands as a better platform for electronic documents than any of the Kindle apps.

Look, I understand the concern for bootlegging content. But I ought to be able to perform a basic copy and paste from an article in a digital magazine. I may need to quote something, and since the content is already digital, I shouldn't have to retype it. Further, this is already possible with content available on a periodical's website. A magazine on an iPad should be a step forward in usability, not a step backwards.

I've not actually read anywhere that magazine publishers plan to prevent copy and paste of content, mind you, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone somewhere has thought about it or even proposed it. It would make no sense to have to leave a page in a digital subscription to go find the same content on a website just to quote it elsewhere.


5. Digital Subscriptions Should Be Distinguished from What I Can Already Get for Free.

On Tuesday, while eating lunch at my desk, I read Steven Levy's excellent article, "How the Tablet Will Change the World" at Wired.com. Then, when I got home, I pulled the newest issue of Wired Magazine out of my mailbox, only to discover that I'd already read the cover story. My first thought was "Why, again, do I pay money to subscribe to Wired?"

Surely some of the mess that periodicals have gotten themselves into is based on their own doing. If Levy's story were released on the Wired website a week later, I could understand it, but why release it before the magazine with the same content arrives in subscribers' mailboxes? This will be an even greater issue with periodicals on the iPad. Safari will only be a couple of finger taps away. If I can get the same information for free that quickly—on the same device—why should I subscribe? Really?


6. Allow for Conversion of Existing Subscriptions

I assume that there will be plenty of "free" trial issues when magazines and newspapers first hit the iPad. I'm interested myself in trying before I buy, although I assume I'll want to buy. But here's an idea: if I already subscribe to a magazine in print, can I simply call a number or send an email and have my print subscription converted to digital? Publishers should be ready to convert subscriptions right away for those of us who might want to make the immediate move to digital content.


So there they are—my "givens" for how newspapers and magazines ought to operate on the iPad. What about you? What kinds of "rules" would you add? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday
Mar232010

Review: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience
Carmine Gallo
2010 McGraw Hill

I've read quite a few books on preaching, communication, and public speaking in my time. In fact, most people don't know this, but two decades ago, I spent my freshman year in college as a speech major. I eventually changed my major after asking myself the profound question, "Exactly, what am I going to do with this degree?" but not before I completed the advanced public speaking course (with an A, thank you!) that my university offered.

I still remember the prof in that advanced course making the comment that the average audience no longer had an attention span of more than about twenty minutes. This was the eighties, mind you, and if this comment were true, it would undoubtedly be even less today. Of course, when I mentioned this twenty minute attention span to my pastor of the time (whose sermons averaged 45 minutes), he was quick to say, "Well, I certainly don't agree with that." Interestingly, Gallo points out in the book that

"Speeches written for John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama were scripted to last no longer than twenty minutes."

By the time I was working on my M.Div in the early nineties, I was (sadly) a bit of a public speaking snob. Unimpressed with the two preaching professors at my seminary at that time, I found a loophole in my required coursework and substituted a communications course and a Christian journalism course at another institution. Looking back, that was my loss as I was too arrogant to think that I could actually learn something from these two men.

These days, I'm regularly in front of an audience for one reason or another (usually in either a church or classroom setting), and I'm even fortunate enough to have taught a college-level public speaking class five times in recent years.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo interested me for a couple of reasons. I suppose someone has "arrived" as a presenter when they joins the ranks of Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill as the subject of books written about their public speaking styles. Most would agree—even the detractors—that Steve Jobs is a master presenter. Having seen most of Jobs' keynotes over the last decade or so, I was very interested to see them put under the microscope with the intent of finding a few core principles for speaking success.

Also, this was the first communications book I'd seen that thoroughly integrated the use of presentation graphic software with the content. Most communication books that I've come across treat this as a separate subject, reserved for a chapter on its own. I've followed the same principle in the communications classes I've taught, reserving a separate section of the class for discussion of presentation software. While Gallo says the principles in the book apply whether one uses PowerPoint or Keynote, my connection to Jobs lies in the fact that we both use the latter. And everyone I've ever met who has used Keynote finds it much superior to PowerPoint.

As one might expect, the book is interspersed with transcripted excerpts from Jobs' presentations over the past decade or so. I could imagine that this would make of an exceptional electronic book if the transcripts could be replaced with actual video clips. Of course while all of these video clips can be found on YouTube, the fact remains that this is not an authorized/endorsed treatment of Jobs' presentation style, so no doubt there would be copyright issues involved.

The book's 18 chapters each deal with one aspect of Jobs' presentations principles, although not all these principles are unique to Jobs. The old stereotypical three-point sermon outline has some merit to it evidently. People remember things in threes easier than much longer lists. Gallo demonstrates that Jobs takes advantage of this rule of three as well. The chapter "Answer the One Question that Matters Most" deals with narrowing your topic, your thesis (to use a label I refer to in my classes) to a single idea. The value of rehearsal is emphasized throughout the book, and one that I've tried to hammer over and over to my students. When I have a student taking 12 minutes to deliver a speech intended to fit into a three to five minute time limit, I know there's been no rehearsal involved. According to Gallo's sources, Jobs practices hours and hours before a presentation, sometimes starting weeks in advance. No wonder he makes it look so effortless.

The value of the book for me lies in its interrelation with technology. Gallo has one chapter titled "Create Twitter-Like Headlines" referring to soundbites that can be reproduced in 140 characters or less. These are short statements that stick in people's minds and summarize the content of the presentation. Examples are given such as


MacBook Air: the world's thinnest notebook
(2008)


Today Apple Reinvents the Phone
(iPhone announcement, 2007)


The Excitement of the Internet, the Simplicity of the Macintosh
(iMac announcement, 1997)


One Thousand Songs in Your Pocket
(iPod Announcement, 2001)


As already mentioned, I was keenly interested in principles surrounding Jobs' use of presentation software, particularly Keynote. In light of such things as "Death by PowerPoint" in which this kind of software can become "a convenient prop for poor speakers," I've often internally struggled with the right use of software during a presentation. Clearly PowerPoint or Keynote can be abused, misused and overused. I've seen it used in some contexts where it really wasn't necessary at all. When I used to teach high school from 2000 to 2005, I often used PowerPoint on a television screen to keep my teenage students facing forward (turn on a television in the conterxt of any group, even with the sound off, and watch how people will continually move their gaze to the screen).

In the classroom, I use Keynote for some things, but not everything. I'm well past feeling the need to have a screen present at all times to keep attention. Of course, I teach college students now, which might make some difference. But I also use Keynote most Sundays in a Bible study class I teach at my church. We usually have around 40 in attendance on any Sunday morning, and it can be very helpful—especially for things such as large scale maps, photos of the holy land, and emphasizing points in a biblical passage.

I try to keep our study discussion oriented, so I usually project my questions on the screen as well. At one point, I'd decided to stop doing this because I thought it was a bit superfluous. I'd even considered dropping any use of presentation software on Sunday morning at all. I don't want to use technology simply for the sake of technology. However, we have on some Sundays up to four nationalities in our study. Three of these four hold English as a second language. At about the time I'd decided that I might ditch using software altogether for our study, a Korean member of our class mentioned to me how much he appreciated my projecting the questions on the screen. Hearing me ask the question and being able to read it at the same time really helped him understand what I was asking.

Okay, so if I'm going to use presentation software like Keynote, I want to do it well. I don't want to have something on the screen merely for the sake of having it there. In reading The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I discovered a number of principles that have already made a change in the way I use Keynote.

Did you know that Steve Jobs never uses bullet points? I'd never thought about it, but it's true. As a teacher, my slides are filled with bullets—at least until I read Gallo's book. I mentioned this to a friend a couple of days ago. "What's the big deal about bullets?" he asked. According to Gallo, bullets send an unspoken message to the audience member to take notes. It defers the attention from the speaker and what's being said. If we follow Jobs' example and Gallo's advice, we want to limit one idea per slide. We want to keep things simple, to channel their inner zen, to use the theme of ch. 8. Gallo points out that Jobs generally only uses only as much text as necessary—think of those 140-character Twitter-like statements—and an image. I've always told my students that the software should not be the presentation. They are the ones giving the presentation and the software should simply reinforce what they're saying. Well, this idea of a limited number of words with an image on a slide helps keep the focus on what the presenter is saying while giving a visual cue to help the listener remember the content.

Gallo includes numerous charts in the book that demonstrate what Jobs actually said compared to the brief amount of content on his Keynote slides.

I'm scheduled to teach a philosophy class in May and June. I've taught the class before, and although I work hard to keep my "lectures" discussion based, my Keynote slides for this course are made up of one slide of bullets after another. I'm definitely going to have to rethink what I present visually during our discussions.

Gallo even includes a chapter on what to wear during a presentation. Steve Jobs can wear sneakers, blue jeans, and a St. Croix mock turtleneck (my father works for St. Croix incidentally), but Gallo tells us that we probably can't get away with that. It might even get us fired! Rather, Gallo suggests that if we want to succeed in our presentations and in our careers in general, we ought to dress slightly better than our co-workers. These days that doesn't take too much effort.

My context for speaking in front of audiences is often church-related. Although this book is not directed at the church, and in spite of the myriad of books on preaching, I believe there's a lot that ministers could learn from this book. I remember reading a decade and a half ago that studies have shown that one of the most boring things viewers see on television is the talking head. And yet for churches that televise their services, this is mostly what is offered. But the same can be true even in a live setting. Honestly, have you ever sat in a church service, listening to a sermon, and found yourself to be bored out of your mind? Has your mind ever wandered? These are rhetorical questions.

Remember what my college prof said in the eighties about folks only having 20 minute attention spans? It may be worse now. Gallo writes that

"Your audience checks out after ten minutes. Not in eleven minutes, but ten. We know this valuable fact thanks to new research into cognitive functioning. Simply put, the brain gets bored."

So now, we're down to ten minutes! Obviously Steve Jobs speaks for more than ten minutes (his presentations are about an hour and a half on average). I also know for a fact that only first sermons are ten minutes long! Most are 30 minutes are more. So what can you do? Gallo says to do what Steve does: don't let the brains of your audience get bored. Add variety. That may be a video clip or an onstage interview. Maybe it's simply to stop the technical exposition of a Bible passage and offer a relatable story. Don't worry—Jesus did that last one a lot. They're called parables.

Keeping brains alert is not necessarily the same as entertainment. I realize that the goal of the Sunday sermon is not to entertain. But the average sermon is still based upon methods geared toward strictly passive oral learning of a pre-modern age. People have different learning styles and effective communicators use this to their advantage. The message can remain the same, the message can still have depth, but I don't think we have to be boxed in regarding how it's communicated.

One more thing...

I love the title of the book's second chapter: "Develop a Messianic Sense of Purpose." Gallo points out that when Steve Jobs speaks, he's not simply trying to sell you an iPod, or a Mac, or an iPhone. He sells the experience. He describes how your life will be enriched through these devices. Going all the way back to Apple's beginnings in the seventies, it wasn't about simply selling personal computers to Jobs. He had a vision to change the world.

If you teach or preach the Bible, how's your vision? I said my questions above about getting bored in church were rhetorical. But I will tell you that I've sat through many sermons in my life (my present church excluded, of course!) in which I had absolutely no indication that the speaker had any vision for changing the world based simply upon his boring presentation and overall lack of enthusiasm. If we don't believe in what we preach, it shows. We offer the Good News of Jesus Christ, a peace that outlasts the latest gadget. Messianic sense of purpose, indeed.





If you want to see the principles Carmine Gallo outlines in The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs applied to the iPad announcement, see Gallo's article "The Secrets of Steve Jobs' iPad Presentation" at Cult of Mac.

Tuesday
Mar232010

The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway

Visit www.facebook.com/NewLivingTranslation and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”

Fill out a simple form, take a quick Bible clarity survey, invite your friends to join and you’ll be entered to win one of our exciting prizes.

With each fan number milestone a new prize will be given away.

Grand Prize

Apple iPad 64G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fifth milestone
Retail Value: $829.00


2nd Prize  - Already awarded

32G iPod Touch and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fourth milestone
Retail Value: $300.00


3rd Prize – Will be awarded when fan count hits: 3500

Kindle DX and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the third milestone
Retail Value: $489.00


4th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone
Retail Value: $499.00


5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone
Retail Value: $599.00


Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries

Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India.  In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company.

Sweepstakes Starts

March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)


Sweepstakes Ends

April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)


Wait, there’s more!

Visit http://biblecontest.newlivingtranslation.com/index.php for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii!

Here are the details:

Choose one of six passages of Scripture from the New Living Translation and consider:
How do these verses encourage you to know God better?
What is God teaching you in this passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?

Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.

Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.

Every day, one person will win the best-selling Life Application Study Bible!

The grand prize: One person will win a fantastic trip for two to the crystal clear waters of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in beautiful Hawaii.


Saturday
Mar202010

OakTree Announces Upcoming Accordance Modules for Spring/Summer 2010

OakTree Software has been producing biblically related software for the Mac since 1994 in Accordance. Up until the last couple of years, the company was fairly tightlipped in regard to upcoming product announcements, but fortunately for users of the program, this has changed. Today, OakTree announced or updated the release status of a number of new Accordance modules:

Göttingen Septuagint (Genesis - Deuteronomy, Ruth to be released Spring, 2010)

Holman NT and OT Commentaries (Summer 2010)

Journal of Biblical Literature [1981 - 2006] (Spring, 2010)

Liddell and Scott [AKA "Big Liddell" or "Great Scott"] (Summer, 2010)

NLT Study Bible (Spring, 2010)

Zondervan New Series including the following titles:

NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC) (8 OT and 20 NT volumes)
Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (ZEB) (5 volumes)
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBC) (5 OT and 4 NT volumes)
Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times
Halley's Bible Handbook
1001 Illustrations that Connect
1001 Quotations that Connect
Archaeology Study Bible

The announcement also included a listing of some of the more recent releases for Accordance:

Rabbinic CD-ROM featuring in addition to the previously released Mishna and Talmud modules:

Tosefta
Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmael
Sifra
Sifrei Bemidbar (Numbers)
Sifrei Debarim (Deuteronomy)
Talmud Bavli

Tyndale Commentaries

Spanish CD-ROM including

Reina Valera 1960 with Strong's Numbers
Reina Valera 1995 Study Bible
Traduccion en Lenguaje Actual
Dios Habla Hoy Study Bible
Descubre la Biblia 3 volume set: La Biblia es literatura, Su formación, sus contextos y su interpretación, La Biblia, aquí y ahora.

Svenska Folkbibeln (The Swedish People's Bible)

 


A few personal thoughts: I really appreciate OakTree making these announcements. I do have other Bible software on my Mac (WORDsearch & Logos), but my preference when buying is always for Accordance when the same title is on more than one platform. In my experience Accordance offers a greater flexibility in the way these resources can be accessed and used with other Accordance modules.

I'm especially looking forward to a number of these items. I've been waiting for the JBL a long time to add to the growing list of journals I have in Accordance. It's amazing to be able to look through hundreds (thousands?) of journals over decades of time when researching a biblical topic.

A few months ago, I was working with Philo's writings in Accordance and I came across a word that I could neither translate off the top of my head nor find in any of my Greek lexicons in Accordance. For ancient Greek literature outside the Bible, the Liddell & Scott lexicon is the standard work, and the intermediate abridged Liddell & Scott is available for Accordance. Unfortunately, the word I was looking at wasn't covered in the abridged version I had in Accordance. I realized how spoiled I've become using this software when I actually had to go track down the full Liddell & Scott lexicon in the library. This book is a monster, but is essentially the most exhaustive source available for ancient Greek literature. I can't wait to have it in Accordance on my Mac.

The NLT Study Bible is another module I'm looking forward to. I've never been too big on study Bible notes, but as I mentioned in my original review, I was impressed with the content found in the NLT Study Bible. Logos had a version of the NLT Study Bible available at the product's launch, and even though I wrote a review of the NLTSB for Logos' Bible Study Magazine, I've been waiting patiently for the Accordance release.

Finally, I'm very glad to see the upcoming titles coming from Zondervan. When Zondervan folded their own Pradis software, many misinterpreted their announcement to mean that they had struck an exclusive deal with Logos (see here and here). Obviously not so. As for the Zondervan offerings in the pipeline, I have both the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible as well as the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (both testaments) in hardback, and I cannot wait to have access to them in Accordance. Accordance makes it very easy to use photographs in resources like these with other programs by allowing the user to simply drag them from Accordance into, for instance, a Keynote slide. Someday soon, I'll be able to stop simply wishing I could use some of these charts and photos when I teach and actually have access to them on my Mac in Accordance.

Saturday
Mar062010

Official Word: No NET Bible 2nd Edition in 2010

I've known this since November of last year, but have been waiting for official word from those at Bible.org to say anything on This Lamp. But as of yesterday, it's official: there will not be a second edition of the NET Bible in 2010.

Why was this a question to begin with? The preface of the first edition made these statement:

“The NET BIBLE text (notes excluded) has now been frozen for at least 5 years.

The next set of upgrades and improvements is planned for release in 2010. "


However, it was "determined that we did not have sufficient major revisions and changes to the text to justify a 2nd edition. In addition a 2nd edition would generate a lot of turmoil with print providers and software publishers who use the NET Bible."

A set of seven goals has been laid out for ongoing revision of the NET Bible which you can read in full at their website in the post "Will there be a NET Bible update in 2010?"

Personally, I believe this is a good decision. The NET Bible as it stands, while not perfect, is much more mature than the average first edition translation, undoubtedly due to the collaborative nature of its beginnings.

For those of you holding out on buying one, thinking a new edition was to be released this year, now you know there's no reason to wait. You should really order your copy today. As I said in my earlier review of the NET Bible, this is a Bible every believer ought to have a copy of, regardless of whether it's used as your primary translation or not.

Tuesday
Mar022010

Adding a Check Number Field to the Quicken Essentials for Mac Registry [Updated]

I've noticed that a number of people have found my site via Google looking for a way to add the check numbers field in the Quicken Essentials for Mac registry. I was initially befuddled by this issue, too, when I didn't see any place for check numbers. And yet, I could select a past transaction that had a check number and the inspector told me the number was there. Despite Quicken's parent company name (Intuit), I found that adding a check number field was not very intuitive at all. Nevertheless, I found it.

If you want to add the check number field, go to your rightmost column, which is probably unnamed. Right click on the blank title space to reveal a list of columns that can be included in the visible registry. Choose Number and your check numbers will now display in your registry.

Note also that the columns can be rearranged in any order you want simply by dragging their title field at the top. This is certainly a nice improvement over the previous version.


UPDATE MARCH 20, 2010: This week, Intuit released an update, Quicken Essentials version 1.3f4519, which adds a Columns command to the View menu, bringing the program better in alignment with standard Mac interface standards.

Tuesday
Mar022010

In Spite of What I Said a Month Ago, I Think I Now Want an iPad

I know you'll think I'm wishy washy, but after declaring last month that I wanted a Kindle in spite of the iPad, I've changed my mind. Maybe this was the genius of Apple. Rather than letting anyone order an iPad right away, we all had to wait and think about it for a bit. Perhaps others like me who were not completely sold have become so in the intervening weeks.

Last week over breakfast, I told a friend of mine that I thought I might want an iPad after all.

"Of course you do," he said, not surprised at all.

But wait, you people who think you know me so well—let me explain.

First, as you remember, I was not one of those folks who dissed the iPad. From the very beginning I've thought this would be a significant device. I think it's going to be huge for education. I also think it's going to be all the computer a lot of folks would need at all.

As for me, as I told you, I've been wanting an e-reader—specifically a Kindle—ever since I held one in my hand last year. And if this were just an issue of a Kindle vs. the iPad as an e-reader, I'd go with the Kindle. I still think the Kindle's e-ink is going to be easier on the eyes than the screen of an iPad if you actually use the thing for reading for hours at a time.

But that's not the issue. For me, the iPad has a killer app: Keynote.

It's the idea of Keynote on the iPad that's been working away at me for the past four weeks. I watched Steve Jobs' presentation of the iPad with interest, but not expecting to actually want one anytime soon. I felt the second generation device would be better to wait for.

But then it happened. Keynote and the rest of the iWork applications were a total surprise. They were an unexpected development.

I teach from Keynote every week. I use it at church, and I use it in the classroom at IWU. Now, hold that thought just for a second.

I love my 15" MacBook Pro. It's hands down the best Mac I've ever owned (and I've owned a few of them!). I have it with me nearly everywhere I go. And that is part of the problem. I know we're spoiled compared to the computers we used two decades ago (most of which were not portable at all). Yet, often my MacBook Pro is more computer than what I actually need. Often I wish for something smaller. Kathy has a MacBook air, the lightest and most portable Mac that Apple makes. But I didn't want to spend that much on a secondary computer.

So last November, after receiving a bit more birthday money from family than I expected (it doesn't hurt that I'm both an only child and an only son-in-law), I bought a netbook.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, "Wait a minute, Apple doesn't make a netbook." Yes, you're right. For the first time since I bought that Dell Pentium Pro in 1996, I bought a Windows machine. I bought an Acer Aspire One which came with Windows XP Home. But the flavor of Windows didn't matter. I didn't plan to keep it. I planned to Hackintosh it.

I wanted a Hackintoshed netbook for two reasons: (1) to teach using Keynote, and (2) for those times when I don't need a full computer such as if I need to go to a meeting to take a few notes.

Acer Aspire One Hackintosh running Accordance, a Mac-only program

And I did. After a number of trial and error attempts, I managed to get Mac OS X Leopard running on that Acer. I installed iWork including Keynote and I was ready to go. It was really slick, working better than I thought. Because of MobileMe, my calendar, contacts, and email were synced perfectly between the Acer Hackintosh and my MacBook Pro. Accordance worked no different than it would on a Mac. I even put an Apple sticker on the back of the Acer which looked pretty funny.

I used it at church a couple of times teaching and everything was great. Great, that is until it all fell apart in early January. If karma was a Christian concept, I'd be tempted to believe that I was getting what I deserved for trying to teach the Bible from a computer with an OS installed in clear violation of the end user license agreement. You see, Apple does not allow it's operating system to be installed on non-Apple hardware. Evidently the sticker wasn't enough.

On one fateful morning, I plugged the Acer Hackintosh into a projector that was already receiving a video feed from another source. The screen on the Acer went white and I never could get it back to normal. In researching the issue, I discovered that there was a problem with the specific video driver being used in the Hackintoshed version of OS X. It didn't play well with projectors.

At that point I gave up on the Hackintosh idea. Having to reinstall wasn't the issue. I needed my computer to work when I needed it. I couldn't afford unreliable equipment. Heck, that was what made me a Mac user to begin with!

So I installed Windows 7 on the Acer thinking I could still use it for occasional note taking. Well, it just sat there. I have been using Macs too long and a Windows machine simply doesn't do much for me. And I even tried using OneNote which so many Windows users rave about. It just wasn't enough.

So my Acer netbook sat unused. And the iPad with Keynote kept weighing on me. So I made the decision and sold my Acer on eBay. Now I have more than half the cash for an iPad.

I can envision teaching from Keynote both at church and in the classroom using nothing but the iPad. Last night, I went to a deacons meeting in which we had about half a dozen different reports that had been emailed out before the meeting. Although I took my laptop to the meeting (I usually do this rather than printing out reports I would only throw away later), I thought to myself sitting there that really, I could do all of that on an iPad and carry much less around. And I think of all those times that I wish I could sit in church and take notes on a laptop, but I never do because somehow it feels overly conspicuous. I can't imagine that I'd have the same reservation with an iPad.

An iPad couldn't replace everything I do on my MacBook Pro, but I bet it could do more than half of it. So many times a computer is more than what I need.

So now I wait for the iPad. I mentioned this to a different friend of mine yesterday. "Why on earth would you want an iPad?" he asked with great incredulity. I simply replied "For all those times that I could do so much more with less."