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Entries by R. Mansfield (221)


Theotek Podcast #027: Uncommen Men Under an Olive Tree

Yes, the spelling above is correct.

On the Theotek podcast for June 5, we were joined by two guests, Larosa Johnson of Olive Tree Bible Software and Dee Lanier of Larosa demonstrated the new features of Olive Tree's Android app. Dee told us about Uncommen, an organization for challenging and encouraging men. Be certain to check out the iOS and Android apps for Uncommen.

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.


Arcadian Books (New Orleans)

On our last day in New Orleans last week, we finally made it to Arcadian Books (714 Orleans Avenue), which was right across the street from the Bourbon Orleans Hotels where we stayed. Walking into Arcadian Books felt like stepping right into a Harry Potter movie--the place was that magical. Books were stacked high from ceiling to floor, and some spaces were so tight to maneuver through, I felt like I was traversing dangerous terrain--one wrong move could have buried me in an avalanche of books. 

We met the store owner, and I regret that I don't remember his name. He was an interesting character (the French Quarter seems to spirit interesting characters out of the ether) who told us that he is not on the internet or any social media at all (but here are the Yelp reviews for the bookstore). He even fumbled with charging my credit card, having to ring my two books up separately because of difficulties he had with the card machine. Yes, I've checked my charges online to make certain they were correct; this fellow was simply more of a book man than a technology man. He told us a detail-filled tale of coming to New Orleans and acquiring the store in the early eighties. 

Arcadian Books was such a hypnotic place that even though I've sworn off all physical media (other than "great works"), I ended up buying two books. One was a hardback copy of Faulkner's New Orleans Sketches (early Faulkner stories written during his stay in New Orleans, many of which do not appear in other anthologies). The other was a collection of 300 authentic recipes from 1929 reproduced in a paperback book titled Mandy's Favorite Recipes. I couldn't help myself--I knew by looking at the woman's picture on the cover that this book contain secret formulas for very good food. Incidentally, it seems that in 1929, they used a lot of lard.

Yes, I know I could've bought both of these books on Amazon, probably for cheaper prices, but it seemed to be more important to get them in New Orleans. It just didn't seem like the same magic would transfer if ordered online. 

If you're in the New Orleans French Quarter be certain to pay Arcadian Books a visit. 


Questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals may be left below in the Comments section.


Traveling Light: My Experiment to See If I Could Get By with Just an iPad

Supposedly, Bill Gates’ vision, when he and Paul Allen started Microsoft, was to see a computer in every home. That’s mostly a reality today at some level or another—especially if you consider that the average smart phone—iPhone or Android—is at the very least a small computer. Of course, many still believe that a “real” computer is a traditional laptop or desktop computer.

Nevertheless, ever since the iPad came out in 2010, I’ve felt that it was the perfect form factor, and all the computer that most people probably need. When I can get away with it, I use my iPad; it's my "computer" of choice. If I’m going to a meeting where I only need to take simple notes, I use my iPad. After I got an iPad with a retina screen, I even got rid of my Kindle and Nook. As much as I liked eInk, I didn’t feel it was necessary anymore with the sharpness that text rendered on high resolution screens. I know what they say about illuminated screens interfering with sleep patterns, but honestly, I really don’t have much of a problem most nights falling asleep.

And, of course, my iPad can become a laptop replacement so easily because I can use a keyboard with it. I actually have two keyboards that work nicely with my iPad Air (first generation). I have a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover as well as an iWerkz folding keyboard that fits conveniently in the side pocket of my cargo pants. 

Logitech keyboard on the left and iWerkz keyboard on the right.

So, a little over a week ago when Kathy and I decided to take a quick vacation to New Orleans, I thought I’d try a little experiment. Truthfully, I always have to take a little bit of work with me. I have responsibilities with Accordance that I didn’t want to pawn off on anyone else for the two days we were there, and I also had a few papers to grade for IWU. Our trip was a short one, and none of this was too heavy, so I downloaded the papers ahead of time on my MacBook Pro to OneDrive and opted to take only my iPad Air.

You might wonder what the big deal is in all of this, but you have to understand that I can’t even remember the last time I traveled without an actual Mac laptop of some kind. Nevertheless, since we had decided that we didn’t want to check bags, I didn’t want to lug my 15" MacBook Pro and power cord on the flights to New Orleans in addition to our carry-on luggage. Truthfully, I could’ve just carried my iPad in my hand, but since Kathy was carrying her purse in addition to her carry-on suitcase, she asked if I would take a bag over my shoulder for our iPads. I grabbed my trusty Levenger Stanley Traveler (don’t bother looking—they don’t make it anymore) and opted to take the iWerkz keyboard in a side pocket instead of the mildly added bulk of the Logitech keyboard.

The Levenger Stanley Traveler--they -literally- don't make 'em like this anymore!

So how did the iPad fair? How realistic is it to think that I could go a few days without needing a traditional computer? Well, I had mixed results, but ultimately, in more than one instance, I needed my MacBook Pro.

For grading papers, the iPad was fine. I was able to access the papers in MS Word for the iPad, retrieving them from OneDrive. If you haven’t used it, Word is quite the capable word processing solution for the iPad and since its release has become my preferred word processing tool over Apple’s iWork Pages that I had used since the iPad was first released. Word let me retrieve and save documents to OneDrive and let me add comments for my students in the margins of the document. Unfortunately, there’s no way I know of to upload the papers to Pearson Learning Studio, which is the online learning system IWU uses for its students. I could have emailed the graded papers to my students, but I decided to wait and upload them from my MacBook Pro once I got home.

Most of the work I had to do for Accordance I was able to do just fine from the iPad. I could send out social media alerts over the Accordance Twitter and FaceBook accounts, but I never could figure out how to do that for our Google+ page. On my MacBook Pro, a “Manage this page” button appears on the Accordance Google+ page, but I never could get that to appear on the iPad, regardless of whether I was in the Google+ app or in a web browser (I tried both Safari and Chrome for the iPad to no avail). There may very well have been something obvious there I wasn’t seeing, but I never found any way to leave a post in Google+.

I also had an issue using the iPad’s browser solutions with one particular aspect of the Accordance website’s backend, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to give details in regard to that.

In addition to the above, I also had trouble responding to a YouTube comment on Accordance’s YouTube account. This was very frustrating because whenever I went to, I was immediately switched over to the YouTube app. In the app I was never able to leave a comment.

I would say that I could do 75% of what I needed to do from the iPad. What I couldn’t do was quite specialized. Again, I believe an iPad or equivalent Windows or Android tablet is enough computer for most people—especially when paired with a keyboard. Nevertheless, I don’t believe I’ll be in any position to use an iPad exclusively any time soon.

Maybe the 12" MacBook is what I need...However, this does make the new 12" retina MacBook all that more appealing to me. It has nearly the same form factor of my iPad Air paired with my Logitech keyboard and would be easy to add to the Stanley Traveler on short trips.

And, of course, I have no doubt that in time iOS will become more and more capable of handing an expanding number of tasks. While the 12" MacBook is nearing the iPad’s space, at least as far as form factor is concerned, the rumored 12" “iPad Pro” will come from the other direction to approximate the form factor of the smaller MacBook variations.

The lines between iPad and MacBook are starting to blur, and for me, that can’t come soon enough.


Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Let me know what you think in the Comments section below.


This Week in Accordance Bible (2015.05.30)

Here's my unofficial, off-the-clock rundown of everything related to Accordance Bible Software from this past week. Here's what you may have missed if you were on vacation.
Sale on Hermeneia—A Critical & Historical Commentary on the Bible
Hermeneia is probably one of the most technical commentaries out there, and it's a bit to the left theologically from my perspective. Nevertheless, I find it to be an incredibly valuable resource at time because I have never felt I had to agree 100% with material to get benefit from it. Most amazingly we currently have Hermeneia for Accordance at only $499 for all 49 volumes. This is the lowest price we've ever offered the set. Consider that if you were to purchase these same volumes in print, you'd spend well over $3,000, and we normally run it for $829. 
As of this writing, there's only about two days left to get this deal because the sale ends at midnight Monday, June 1. 


Sale on Titles Related to the Church Fathers/Early Church
A number of titles related to perspectives from figures in the Early Church are also on sale, including the following:
Like the Hermeneia Commentaries, these titles will only be on sale for a couple more days--through midnight, Monday, June 1.

Video: How to Set a Default Lexicon in Accordance Mobile

Egyptian Updates for the Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4
Although the update (free upgrade for those who had already purchased PhotoGuide 4) was released a few days ago, we only really began promoting it on Friday. According to the blog post, the update provides a considerable amount of new content:
This new update adds over 350 new pictures and numerous articles on Egypt, the ancient land of wonder and one of the most important lands of the Bible. Some of these articles include the following entries: Alexandria, On, Memphis, the Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, Thebes, Luxor, Karnak, Hatshepsut’s Temple, the Valley of the Kings, and Syene (Aswan).
If you're not familiar with the Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide 4, you should really check it out. It's a tremendously unique photo guide to the land of the Bible with photos you won't find anywhere else as most of them were taken by people who work for Accordance. It's on sale for over 20% off beginning yesterday and going through June 8.

Upcoming Training Seminars

There are a number of upcoming free training seminars, and we've got all four hemispheres covered! Note that as of this week, the date for the Buenos Aires training seminar is now set specifically for July 23.

  • Chattanooga, TN (June 12)
  • Sydney, Australia (June 13)
  • Buenos Aires (July 23)
  • Atlanta, GA (Nov 20--between ETS & SBL meetings)

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

  • Accordance on Mobile Devices (Tues June 2, 1-2 PM, EDT)
  • Searching in Accordance (Tues June 2, 6-7 PM, EDT)
  • Beginner Basics - Part 1 (Wed June 3, 1-2 PM, EDT)
  • Topical Studies (Thurs, June 4, 1-2 PM, EDT)

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.


Theotek Podcast #26: Make Yourself Presentable

On today's Theotek podcast, we began with a quick discussion of Google Now on Tap, announced yesterday at Google I/O 2015. Then we moved on to our primary discussion about worship presentation software with our guest, Paul Clifford of Paul showed us some new features in ProPresenter 6 for the Mac
Personally, I found this to be one of the most stimulating discussions on Theotek since I've been involved. We moved well beyond the topic of worship technology as we discussed the worship experience in general, including the ongoing concern about worship as only passive entertainment vs. worship as a full multi-sensory, participatory experience. 

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.


Traveling with the Apple Watch: A Journey in Four Apps

I'm writing this (or at least the beginning of it) on Tuesday, May 26, from the Sleep Inn outside of the Atlanta Airport, where Kathy and I are spending the night because our connecting flight between New Orleans and Louisville was cancelled due to inclement weather. 

We made a quick trip to New Orleans over Memorial Day Weekend to claim a two-night stay at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter, which was part of the Grand Prize for my winning the Louisiana Peach Festival Cookery Contest last summer. It was a nice quick getaway until our flight home was cancelled at the halfway point. But this unanticipated waypoint along the way gives me a chance to write about an aspect of this trip that was different from others made in the past: the addition of the Apple Watch.

Here is our visit to the Crescent City as seen through the use of four Apple Watch apps.

Fly Delta
I had not flown Delta any time in recent memory, and in fact, I didn't even have the Fly Delta app on my iPhone. Knowing that the Apple Watch can be used as a boarding pass, I definitely wanted to try this out, but didn't actually begin setting it up until Sunday morning when we were waiting at the airport. 

I installed the Fly Delta app to my iPhone a couple of days earlier, and the corresponding Apple Watch app was immediately added to my watch. The app on my phone sent me a notification reminder the day before and even suggested I go ahead and check in. I opted not to do this because Kathy and I didn't have seats together, and I wanted to see someone at the ticket counter to make certain we were sitting next to each other on all legs of our journey. 

After getting our seats squared away, I opened the Fly Delta app on my Apple Watch to see if I could see my boarding pass QR code. No such luck--it wasn't there. In fact, the Fly Delta app on the watch is pretty limited. It will show you your flight number, gate and offer a countdown until boarding time; but that's about it. Then, I remembered from using similar apps in the past from other airlines, that the boarding pass is both accessible in the iPhone app and can be added to the Apple Passbook. So, I added it to my Passbook from the Fly Delta app on my iPhone, and voila! It was now on my Apple Watch. In fact, a Fly Delta notification appeared on my Apple Watch, allowing a shortcut to the Passbook for quick access.
My Delta boarding pass.Most use of the Apple Watch is only for a few seconds. And if you lower your arm, or move it into a position not optimal for personal viewing, whatever is on the screen usually disappears. However, once I opened the QR code for my boarding pass from the Passbook, my watch stayed on, even if I changed the position of my arm. I didn't time it to know how long it stays on, and discovered it will eventually go off, but it stayed on long enough that I could set it when there were still a half dozen or so passengers ahead of me, and it stayed on long enough for me to stick my arm under Delta's scanner when it was my turn. 

From what I could tell, Delta's scanners had no more trouble reading my watch than they would a boarding pass on the phone. Is there any really advantage? Maybe. At the very least, my phone could stay in my pocket, but I still had to have my hand free regardless. 

As is the norm right now (I can't imagine it will be for very long), the Apple Watch does create attention. The Delta employee at the Louisville gate told me that my Apple Watch was her "first." And a security agent, after seeing my unsuccessful try to scan my watch in Chattanooga (more about this in a second) when reboarding our diverted plane, told me he was going to have to confiscate my Apple Watch. He was just kidding but was very interested in hearing details from me as to my experience using it. 

About that re-board in Chattanooga: I guess paper boarding passes will remain a good backup. On our way home, our flight got rerouted to Chattanooga where we waited about two hours for the Atlanta Airport to re-open after closing due to thunderstorms on Tuesday afternoon. While we were in Chattanooga, we were allowed to disembark from the plan with the admonition from the flight crew to stay close. 

When it came time to re-board the plane so we could again attempt to make it to Atlanta, I got in line and attempted to stick my wrist under the scanner again. I quickly got fussed at by the Delta employee at the gate: "No, we're not doing it that way right now!" she scolded in a manner that gave me a flashback to getting in trouble for not following the rules in elementary school. For the reboard, they wanted to see either a Photo ID or our original paper boarding pass. I had my paper boarding pass somewhere, but I had no idea which pocket it was in. Since Kathy had already gone through with her paper boarding pass, they let me in just on the basis of my name (not the greatest level of security, mind you).
I should also point out that I used the paper boarding pass at TSA checkpoints. I figured it was best not to do anything out of the ordinary.

Kathy and I have been to New Orleans multiple times over the years--both individually and together--but I'm not there enough to remember how to get around very easily. This sometimes surprises people because I spent the first half of my life in Louisiana, but that was at the northern end of the state; and people outside Louisiana assume that the state and its most famous city are one and the same.

Although I'm not certain of the immediate benefit of it, I've kept the Map app in the Glances section of the Apple Watch. The shot to the left shows where we were staying at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in relation to our surroundings. 

But the real benefit was using turn-by-turn directions on my wrist instead of having my face in my phone as we walked. I found it amazing how many people were walking around the French Quarter with their noses stuck into their phones, oblivious to their surroundings. You see this kind of practice everywhere these days, but it's dangerous on many counts, and I would suggest even more dangerous in the French Quarter. 
On most days, Kathy and I would select our location ahead of time--restaurants such as Tujagues, The Original Pierre Maspero's, Mother's Restaurant, to name a few we visited--and I would run the search for it on my iPhone. For what it's worth, this can be done straight from the Apple Watch with voice commands. However, I preferred to see the entire route first on the larger screen of my iPhone 6 Plus.
Once the route was started, I let the Apple Watch takeover. This allowed us to simply walk down the streets and enjoy the sites on our way. When I approached a corner where I needed to turn, the Apple Watch alerted me with the sound of a turn signal from what sounded like an older model car, and a series of taps on my wrist. By lifting my wrist, I could see directions telling me which way to turn.
My only complaint in this procedure has to do with my own impatience. After I made a turn, I wanted to know immediately which turn would be next. I don't know if the Apple Watch doesn't update that fast by design or if it's just a bit slow in this process, but it usually took getting about a quarter up the block before I could see the next direction on my wrist.
Once we arrived at our destination, the Apple Watch alerted me that we had arrived--I suppose in case we couldn't see that for ourselves.
Again, the great advantage to this is the primary benefit of the Apple Watch itself: I can be free from the drudgery of having my face in my phone all the time. Not only is this safer (no YouTube videos of me falling into a fountain, thank you), but it also allows me to enjoy the world around me while I walk.
I would not have thought of Dark Sky as a travel app, but it came in very handy on our trip. If you're not familiar with Dark Sky, it is a wonderful weather app that has the uncanny ability to tell you when it's about to start raining within a very accurate specified number of minutes. And in my experience, it's nearly always right.
The timing for our trip to New Orleans was either perfect or no-so-perfect according to how one looks at it. New Orleans can be miserably hot and muggy at certain times of the year, but during our stay this week, we experienced regular rain showers. Fortunately, these weren't the all-day rains I remember as a child growing up in Louisiana; instead, it would rain for short periods of time, followed by mostly cloudy skies. So, although we had to work around rain, it was not a constant hindrance; and we kept fairly cool most of our time there. 
This is the only screenshot on this page not from my Apple Watch. I borrowed this one from the Dark Sky iTunes page.Dark Sky came in quite handy because of this. Again, I had not thought about depending on Dark Sky while we were in New Orleans, but with the constant on again/off again rain, we were regularly kept up to date about whether we needed to be under cover or if it was safe to walk out in the open. Dark Sky would tell us that rain was beginning in x number of minutes, so we knew how much time we had to get to our next destination. Or for Sunday morning's swim in the Bourbon Orleans' saltwater pool, we knew we had about 50 minutes before rain would temporarily spoil our fun. 
Dark Sky also really helped us out on Monday afternoon when we visited St. Louis Cemetery #3 (more about that in a moment). Dark Sky told us exactly how much time we had to look for Aunt Gertrude's grave (yes, I had a real Aunt Gertrude, though I never met her). Thanks to Dark Sky, we knew we had about an hour to search for Gertrude's final resting spot before the rain hit. And Dark Sky gave me a gentle reminder on my watch when the rain was getting close. That allowed me to contact Uber, and our ride appeared right before the rain came down in buckets.
As anyone who has tried it out knows, Uber is an excellent service for those travel spots where you don't have a vehicle of your own, and it is usually less expensive than a taxi cab ride. Due to regulations in New Orleans, a taxi cab was cheaper from the airport to our hotel, but once we were checked in, Uber became our go-to service for a couple of trips we needed to make that were a bit beyond walking distance.
The Uber app on my Apple Watch allowed me to request a ride directly from my wrist, but I preferred to make the initial request from my iPhone. This allowed me to get an estimate for the fare ahead of time (the two rides we made were both around $11 each). Once I had made my request through the Uber app, though, I could let the Apple Watch take over. 
With the Apple Watch I could monitor the amount of time left before the driver reached us. This has the same advantage as using the watch for turn-by-turn directions: it keeps my face out of a phone and keeps me aware of my surroundings. The app on my watch would give me a snippet of a map displaying my location as well as an approximated time for our driver's arrival. 
My great grandfather, William Porter Mansfield, had a brother, Thomas Mansfield. This great grand uncle of mine fell in love with the New Orleans culture and moved his family there in the 1930s. I know that he died in 1940 (from complications of diabetes--I have his death certificate), but I don't know for certain where he was buried. His wife, Ursula Gertrude Woodward Mansfield, died in 1962; and according to her obituary, she was buried in St. Louis Cemetery #3.
I wanted to find her grave, and ultimately I hoped to discover that old Uncle Thomas was buried with her.
I figured that once we were in New Orleans, I would check in with the office that held the cemetery records, and they could tell me where in St. Louis Cemetery Aunt Gertrude was buried. Unfortunately, I forgot that Monday was Memorial Day--our only real day to look--and the office was closed for the holiday. Kathy and I decided to go out to St. Louis Cemetery #3 anyway, even though it was the metaphorical needle in a haystack. 
St. Louis Cemetery #3 is quite large. We looked around for 45 minutes to an hour and never even saw one Mansfield on a tombstone. There were, of course, lots of French names. Okay, technically, there weren’t the traditional tombstones either. New Orleans cemeteries are above ground because of the high water table. We don’t want Aunt Gertrude to float away after all. 
A family (not mine!) entombment at St. Louis Cemetery #3
While at the cemetery, I don’t believe I pulled my phone out of my pocket even once because of my Apple Watch. At one point, Kathy and I went in two different directions to try to cover more ground at the same time. She and I would text back and forth every now and then, but I strictly used my Apple Watch for text, dictating my messages to her through the watch. 
After a while, Dark Sky warned us of impending rain, so I called our Uber ride to pick us up. The first time I tried to find an Uber car in the area, none were to be found, but I waited a couple of minutes, tried again, and one was available.
A few incidentals and final thoughts. 
On Tuesday morning, after going through security at the New Orleans Airport, my Apple Watch alerted me to the fact that it had only 10% battery left. It had not been down that low since my 72 hours of use. Evidently, I did not have the charger, which only connects via a magnet, properly in place the previous night. As soon as we got to our gate, I found an empty outlet and plugged it in. In about an hour’s time, it charged to 60% which was more than good for the rest of the day. But this was a good reminder that it might be best not to depend on the watch as the sole solution for one’s boarding pass. I did have a paper copy inside my vest. 
While en route to Atlanta, storms closed the airport, and our flight was temporarily rerouted to Chattanooga. By the time we finally got back to Atlanta, our flight had been cancelled, and we had to spend the night in a nearby hotel. For dinner, the Yelp app came in quite handy. We did not use this app in New Orleans because we essentially knew what restaurants we wanted to visit while there. However, I’ve discovered that the simple interface for Yelp on the Apple Watch is fantastic. Tapping on Restaurants brings up a list of available dining establishments in proximity order from those within a certain number of feet (really) to miles. Tapping on the restaurant will bring up more details including a map, which will give you turn-by-turn directions. 
When we were waiting in line to board our rescheduled flight Wednesday morning, the Delta agent began going over directions for scanning boarding passes. Paper boarding passes were obviously assumed for most travelers, but the agent also mentioned boarding passes on phones and gave instructions to hold the phone a couple of inches above the scanner as opposed to laying them down on it. No mention was made of proper procedure for the Apple Watch. I try to be nonchalant when using my Apple Watch in situations like this, but I admit my inner geek is performing cartwheels inside. As I turned over my wrist and passed my watch over the scanner, the Delta Agent said in a quieted tone, “Now that’s what I’m talking about."
I readily admit that using the watch for some of the situations described above is pretty geeky, and I simply like such things. However, it should not be missed that the Apple Watch gets my face out of my phone’s screen. Look around you in a a crowded setting. It’s nose to glass everywhere you look. This is not only dangerous; it’s also a bit…well, antisocial is stronger than I mean as it communicates intent. At the very least, so much public phone gazing is less than social. The Apple Watch, which is designed for quick glances, helps me be safe and more plugged into what’s going on around me. That’s not too bad. 
Questions, thoughts, comments, rebuttals? Leave them in the comments section below!



This Week in Accordance (2015.05.23)

Another busy week in the world of Bible software, and here's my "unofficial/off-the-clock" rundown of what's new with Accordance. 
Commentators' Bible (Michael Carasik, ed.)

Released this past Monday for the Accordance Library, The Commentators' Bible is in the rabbinic tradition of Miqra'ot Gedolot/מקראות גדולות, AKA "Great Scriptures," or "Rabbinic Bible." This involves surrounding the biblical text with comments from various medieval rabbinic sources. Each section starts with questions raised about the passage, followed by answers from the likes of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nahmanides, Rashbam, and other medieval commentators. 
As of this writing, there are about two and a half days left to get introductory pricing on volumes for Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and an even greater cut for all four together. The obvious question is "What about Genesis?" Carasik is still working on that one, and it's slated for around 2018.

The Bible's Many Voices (Michael Carasik)

Also from Carasik this week is his book The Bible's Many Voices, which is a literary analysis of sorts focusing on the diversity of the human element involved in the origins of the Bible. Carasik writes from a Jewish perspective, but there is a good bit of interaction with the Christian New Testament as well. 
Here is part of the publisher's description:
The most common English translations of the Bible often sound like a single, somewhat archaic voice. In fact, the Bible is made up of many separate books composed by multiple writers in a wide range of styles and perspectives. It is, as Michael Carasik demonstrates, not a remote text reserved for churches and synagogues but rather a human document full of history, poetry, politics, theology, and spirituality.

"Jewish Perspective" Sale
We placed a number of titles on sale that look at the Bible from a Jewish perspective. 

Again, as with the other titles from Carasik, there are about two and a half days left for this sale before these titles go back up to regular pricing.

Two Endorsement Videos Released

Brandon Crowe, Associate Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia:

Anthony Abell, Provost of Clearwater Christian College:


Lighting the Lamp Video Podcast #123: Change Focus and Tie/Untie Panes

This six-minute video shows off two new features of Accordance 11.0.6 for Macintosh and Windows.


Upcoming Training Seminars


There are a number of upcoming free training seminars, and we've got all four hemispheres covered! 

  • Chattanooga, TN (June 12)
  • Sydney, Australia (June 13)
  • Buenos Aires (July 20-24)
  • Atlanta, GA (Nov 20--between ETS & SBL meetings)

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

  • Learning Greek (Tues May 26, 1-2 PM, EDT)
  • User Tools & Notes (Tues May 26, 6-7 PM, EDT)
  • Beginners Basics, Part 5: Linking (Wed May 27, 1-2 PM EDT)

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.


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.


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!


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.