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Entries in Accordance (40)

Friday
Apr302010

First Look: Copying Greek Text from BibleReader to Pages on the iPad

From the very first day I had my iPad, I tried to find a way to copy original language biblical text from any applicable app to Pages for the iPad. I couldn't find any app on the iPad at the time that allowed me to do this, but had to resort to loading a document on my Mac with Greek text from Accordance and then transferring it to the iPad.

Therefore, I'm very thrilled to see how easy this is to do using Olive Tree's Bible Reader for the iPad (full review forthcoming). Copying text is quite easy. You touch the verse number and a dialogue box appears offering a number of options, including text copy. Selecting that allows you to specify one or more verses.

 

Then, in Pages, the text pastes perfectly just as I hoped it would:

I found that the Greek text could be moved around, but I could not compose in Greek. The text as shown above is in the Helvetica font (the default in Pages), but if someone wanted a more serifed look, it can be changed to Times New Roman with results that look similar to the text as originally displayed in BibleReader.

Unfortunately, my attempt to copy Hebrew text was unsuccessful. I could copy the text in BibleReader, but when I tried to paste in Pages, nothing came through except the verse reference. This isn't a flaw in either BibleReader or Pages, but relates to the iPad's current lack of a Hebrew keyboard.

Although I was able to transfer a document with Unicode Hebrew from my computer to the iPad when I tried a month ago, I found this text to be nearly unusable as it could not be easily manipulated. My hunch is that like on the iPhone, we may have to wait a year or two (or at least until the iPad goes on sale in Israel) before Hebrew is easy to work with in Pages.

Regardless, the ability to at least work with Greek text from BibleReader in a word processor moves the iPad one step closer to becoming a tool for serious academic work in biblical studies. I was also delighted to see that the text in BibleReader remains in the same place as it did when I switched to Pages. That means that even though there is no true multitasking on the iPad (this will change in the Fall), there is no real difficulty in going back and forth between the biblical text and a word processor.

 

Stay tuned. More to come...

Monday
Apr052010

Two Days with the iPad: 41 Reflections, Discoveries, Critiques & Tips



No, I'm not going to write a formal review of the iPad. There are a thousand of those out there, and I doubt I could add anything relevant. After having spent the last couple of days with the device, though, I've discovered a number of interesting things in my poking around that I thought I'd share. These aren't in any particular order, but I'll try to keep similar items together.


  1. Yes, as everyone else says, the iPad is heavier than what one first expects. While some have criticized this aspect, I like it. The iPad feels solid.

  2. Those who still criticize the iPad for not having a widescreen display don't get it. It would be so awkward goofy to hold it and turn sideways if it were widescreen. Watching movies would benefit from a widescreen, but few other things. This is more akin to holding a book. I don't want a widescreen book.

  3. While the screen seems just the right size at the moment, I don't know if other sizes might be appreciated, too. A full 8.5 x 11" screen might be nice to use. I've heard rumors that Apple may offer different sized screens in the future.

  4. Immediately upon turning the iPad on for the first time, you will have to connect it to a computer to set it up. This is not an independent machine at all. While I think the iPad would be great for taking notes in a classroom setting, the university that announced a few days ago that all incoming freshman would get an iPad instead of a MacBook need to rethink that strategy. The students will have to have a computer, too. This situation may change in a few years, but right now, the iPad is not an independent platform.

  5. Those who criticize the iPad for not replacing a computer, don't understand it. The iPad is clearly intended to be a secondary machine. Of course, it's also criticized over this. "Why do I need another device to carry around?" That's not getting it either. I still remember the first time I saw an entire computer dedicated for use as a cash register. I thought that this was a waste as this computer could do so much more. An entire computer wasn't needed to simply function as a cash register in my opinion. Regardless of whether you agree with that (or even if I still agree with that), the reality is that often I take my MacBook Pro into situations in which a much lesser device would better suffice. I'm not getting rid of my MacBook Pro. I still need it for "heavy lifting," but there are many contexts in which all I need is something like the iPad. I am thinking of those times such as going to a faculty meeting or a deacons meeting at church in which I basically need to take a few notes and have access to my calendar. Yesterday, I took my iPad to church and taught our Bible study using Keynote for the iPad. It was a nice change of pace to not have to lug my entire laptop bag.

  6. For both Kathy and me, the first sync was excruciatingly long. We both opted to include our photos in iPhoto on the iPad. I have over 10,000 pictures, and she has over 6,000. iTunes has to "optimize" the photos for the iPad just as it does for the iPhone. Then, it still has to copy them. This took about two hours for each of us.

  7. When connected to WiFi, the iPad continues to receive mail—even beeps—just like the iPhone when turned off (or technically in sleep mode). That may seem like an obvious feature, but my computer doesn't do that. What's really weird is having my Mac running with my iPad and iPhone in the same room. Three beeps for every one email!

  8. Like I've always done with computers and my iPhone, I turned up the brightness to full capacity. I soon found this hurting my eyes. Really, all the average person will need is the brightness set to the middle position in preferences. Really.

  9. The interface animations are extremely fluid. Pick one up and slide from the first screen to the second. You'll see what I mean.

  10. Speaking of interface, I'm very impressed with the aesthetic detail of some of the iPad apps. I can't remember such attention to visual interface details on standard computers since...well...ever. To me applications like Contacts and Calendar look gorgeous. Not all agree. Paul Thurrott wrote yesterday, "Contacts is ridiculous. Apple needs to get over its desire to ape real world interfaces. That does not work." To each his own. I think it looks great. It has an old school charm, even down to the stitching in the center of the address book. Perhaps, this is why Paul prefers Windows :-)

  11. I love reading and respond to email on the iPad. It's not just a great interface, but also a very handy and comfortable form factor. However, I dislike not having a junk mail filter. I could easily see myself using the iPad for email more than my Mac, but I don't like the junk mail that gets through.

  12. Biggest complaint against Mail app on the iPad: no integrated inbox—not even an option for this. I thought Steve promised this a couple of weeks ago in an email? Hopefully that's coming.

  13. The virtual keyboards work great. In landscape mode, the keys are the size of a regular keyboard. In portrait mode, I'd equate my typing to that on some of the smaller netbooks I've tried. I've actually got the external keyboard dock on order and it should arrive this week. But I've found that I'm actually pretty fast in landscape mode. It's easily the size of a regular keyboard sans the numeric keypad. However, I keep trying to hit an apostrophe and end up hitting the return key. Actually, one really doesn't have to enter apostrophes at all as the interface will simply add them to common contractions and even some possessives. Like the iPhone, the apostrophe key is on a second keyboard layer. Yet the exclamation mark and question mark are included on the regular comma and period keys, respectively, by using the shift key. I understand having two separate keyboard layers (really three) on the iPhone, but with the larger keys on the iPad, I believe many of them could serve for two separate characters like most keyboards. That means adding an actual number row above the character rows.

  14. The iPad offers four different slide show modes: Cube, Dissolve, Ripple, Wipe and Origami. The last is easiest the most fascinating and fun to watch. Unfortunately, when I connected the iPad to a projector yesterday to show a shuffled rotation of over 1300 photos in our Bible Study group, I could only choose from the Dissolve transition. Clearly, that's the least interesting. I don't know why it would be limited to just this one.

  15. My biggest gripe about the iPad is the lack of an accessible file system. Each application has to hold its own files and you cannot create folders. Why would this be an issue? Well, for instance, I'd like to see if I could use the iPad in the classroom. For any given course I teach, I have multiple files: syllabus, gradebook, Keynote presentations, etc. It's convenient to keep them in one folder or a grouped nest of folders. The iPad simply doesn't work that way. Each file has to be transferred to its own program.

  16. One would think that the above issue could be overcome by placing folders in my MobileMe iDisk. And while the MobileMe iDisk can be accessed on the iPad via its iPhone app, I can't simply tap on a Keynote file and have it open in Keynote on the iPad. I have to transfer a Keynote file either through iTunes on my computer or email it. Why the iWork apps don't have access to my iDisk built in is beyond me.

  17. PDF documents create an interesting issue. Yes, if someone emails me a PDF file, I can view it in the Mail app, but there's no way for me to group a batch of separate PDF files. To me there ought to be some kind of application built in just for reading emails. Fortunately, I found an excellent app for 99¢ called GoodReader. It will connect to a MobileMe disk, email account, network server, Dropbox, Google Docs and more to retrieve documents and group them in the application. It works well and has a very intuitive interface.

  18. I spent quite a bit of time in the three iWork apps: Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. Here's what's interesting. The iPad apps are not actually sharing a common file format with their counterparts on the Mac. It doesn't matter whether you have a Pages file or a MS Word file, both have to be imported to Pages on the iPad and then exported back out. I guess in the final analysis, it doesn't really matter, but I do find it very interesting.

  19. If you have iWork '08 or earlier, you're out of luck. iWork on the iPad won't read your files. You have to have iWork '09.

  20. Some things about the iWork apps are not intuitive at all. There's no menu system because the interface has been completely rethought for touch. But this can cause problems. How do you rename a file? How do you perform a "Save as" for a file. I had to go online for these answers. You have to rename a file in the "My Documents" section of your app by tapping on it. I don't think I could have figured that out on my own. If you want to do a "Save as," do it before you edit the file by choosing to duplicate the file.

  21. Interface conventions are not always consistent across the board, but some are. Double-tapping a word in programs like Safari, iBooks, and the iWork apps selects the word. The iWork apps allow you to triple-tap a word to select the entire paragraph, but this doesn't work in any of the other apps. You might want to do this in the other apps to copy text.

  22. Neither text nor graphics can be copied out of the iBooks app or the Kindle app.

  23. I bought the initial April 12, 2010 issue of Time Magazine released for the iPad. I like the interface in which each article can be read on one screen with vertical swipes while swiping horizontally to move to the next article. However, Time is extremely overpriced at $4.99 an issue. Last week, I updated our print subscription to Time for the entire year for $20. That's about 40¢ an issue. There's no way I'd choose digital over print at those prices.

  24. I'm astonished at the fact that Pages does not allow footnotes. Really. Or even endnotes. In fact, if you import in a document with footnotes or endnotes, it removes them—completely strips them out! There's an alert upon conversion to this regard, but frankly it's startling to me. I cannot even write a thank-you note without footnotes! I've seen text conversions between word processors on the computer in which footnotes might be converted to endnotes, but strip them out completely? If Apple wants the iPad to receive heavy use from students, let alone academics, Pages will have to include the ability to add footnotes. Either that, or another company has a chance to come along and create a much more robust word processor for the iPad.

  25. I've already noted that the iWork apps on the iPad are not truly sharing the same file format. That also means that like the footnotes that are stripped out, other things can be stripped out as well. First page headers and footers get deleted. An alert is offered if a particular font is not available. Keynote will accept some video formats in a presentation but not others. I'm not certain yet which ones work and which ones don't. As soon as you import a file, an alert is offered to tell you what will be missing. Needless to say, you need to fully check any imported files before rushing out the door to a context in which you'll need them.

  26. Some apps like the iWork and iBooks app do not reset when closed. I was initially worried about this based upon my experience with the iPhone in which many apps have to completely "restart." In iBooks, the page opens right where you left off. If you are working on a document in Pages, you can go read your email and then come back to pick up right where you left off.

  27. The most egregious missing feature in iWork for the iPad for me is presenter notes in Keynote. And it doesn't make sense because when connected to a projector, the iPad creates the equivalent of an extended desktop. It's not a plain mirror of what's on the iPad. So why not have a presenter's screen with notes like on the Mac version of Keynote? I haven't printed out notes in at least three years and to do so seems like such a step backwards and the antithesis of what the iPad is supposed to represent. I hope that a future revision will remedy a lack of presenter notes. .

  28. I've actually managed to completely crash the iPad once. I imported a particularly media-heavy Keynote file that I used on Sunday a few weeks ago, only to watch as Keynote crashed during the import process. Then the entire iPad rebooted. There's no warning if an app crashes; the iPad just goes out to the desktop. And if the iPad itself crashes, it simply reboots on its own.

  29. I was particularly interested to see how Pages (and Keynote) would handle biblical original languages texts. Since there is a Logos app on the iPad (no Accordance app yet and Olive Tree's iPad-specific BibleReader app has not made it to to the app store as of this writing), I thought I'd try copying text from the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible. After struggling a while to copy text, I realized that the Logos app doesn't allow for copying. A comment on their website forums says it's coming in a future revision. So, on my Mac I copied unicode texts of Genesis 1:1 from both the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint from Accordance into a Pages file and imported it into Pages on the iPad. Both texts showed up great, and the Hebrew text even read from right to left correctly except for bere’shit at the beginning of the Hebrew text. I could change the font size, but I could not edit text. I couldn't even place a cursor in the middle of the Hebrew text, and while I could do that in the Greek text, neither would allow me to edit in Hebrew or Greek. I have no idea how to switch to a unicode keyboard in the application for this level of editing.

  30. There is an updated WordPress app for the iPad. It's somewhat better than the iPhone version, but really with the larger screen, I don't know why one wouldn't want to simply use the WordPress admin site in Safari. I'll have to try this later and get back to you.

  31. iWork apps come with 43 fonts. From what I can tell, they're not system-wide for other apps to use, but I could be wrong.

  32. Pages and the other iWork apps don't convert straight quotation marks to "curly" quotation marks. A lack of such is so 1991. You can achieve them manually, however, by holding down the quotation mark key and selecting the symbol you want (do you have any idea how difficult it was to get that screenshot?).

  33. I would not want to do a lot of data entry in Numbers using the virtual keyboard. I updated our monthly budget for April using Numbers on the iPad based on last month's budget file. Although Numbers is smart enough to change the keyboard based upon what kind of data fill you're in, a spreadsheet is just a bit awkward. It would definitely be better with an external keyboard—one that had both a tab key and a numeric keypad, to boot.

  34. There are too many steps to change fonts and font sizes in Pages. I recognize the power of predetermined styles, but that doesn't mean I don't want to occasionally make minor changes to a selection of text that I don't need to create a style for. Right now, simply to change the font of a word (without using a predetermined style), here are the steps: (1) selection your text, (2) select the inspector, (3) scroll down past all the styles, (4) tap "Text Options," (5) tap "Font," (6) scroll through the fonts, and (7) tap the font you want. This should be easier.

  35. Ironically, iWork Pages on the iPad autosaves in spite of the fact that its Mac equivalent does not.

  36. As I mentioned,  took my iPad with me to church yesterday. It was a nice change of pace to simply carry my Bible and and the iPad in its case. It really looked and felt like I was carrying two books with me. This is again why I say that the form factor on the iPad is just right. So why did I need to carry a Bible if I have Bible apps on the iPad? I needed it because I planned to teach from Keynote on the iPad, so I needed a separate Bible. This is really not a big deal as I usually have my Bible, MacBook Pro and my laptop bag. I felt much lighter yesterday!

  37. While sitting in church as our pastor gave his message, I decided to use my iPad instead of my printed Bible to follow along. Lately they've been turning the lights too low during the message to actually see a Bible anyway. Although my pastor was teaching from the NLT, I decided to use Crossway's dedicated ESV iPad app. It opened to Genesis, and it took me a moment to figure out how to get to John 21 which was the text of the day. After I figured it out, I was delighted to see what a nice app for the iPad that the Crossway ESV app is. Certainly, it doesn't have all the frills of a larger suite of software like the offerings from Logos or Olive Tree, but it doesn't have the distractions either. At one point, I accidentally double-tapped some of the text only to see a window pop up showing the single verse, cross references, and a place to add my own notes. As an added bonus, text can be copied out of the ESV iPad app and pasted into other apps such as iWork Pages. I was very impressed by this app as having more depth and features that I originally realized. I know that some of you reading this are heavy ESV users, and I think that you would probably want to check out this app if you have an iPad.

  38. Also, toward the end of my pastor's message, I had an idea for an extra slide in my Keynote presentation which I was going to use in our Bible study that was to follow the service. It was so easy with my iPad already opened to simply add a new slide and the text I needed. Previously, opening my entire MacBook Pro would have seemed just a bit too conspicuous.

  39. Speaking of my Keynote presentation, I created the entire file with nine slides on the iPad. While it's very nice to be able to do that, and especially nice to do quick updates unnoticed, I imagine I will normally want to create them on my Mac. Like my mention of spreadsheets above, I believe that some things are still going to be easier and faster to do on a regular computer as opposed to a touch interface.

  40. On Saturday, when I tried logging into the Logos app (you have to log in to access the books that you own in the desktop software), I was initially confused by the process. There was a place for my user name and password and two buttons: one that read "Skip" and one that read "Sign Up." Well, I didn't want to do either. But I went ahead and entered my information and checked "Sign Up." That took me to a screen to create an account which is not what I wanted to do. After going back to the first login screen, I noted that the virtual keyboard had a "Go" button instead of the normal "Return." I've discovered that the iPad will often change types of keyboards based on what type of task the screen requires. So this time, I hit the Go button and—voila!—I was logged in. Although I tend to use Accordance primarily and Logos secondarily on my Mac, I can see very real potential for reading some of my Logos books from beginning to end on the iPad because of both the book-like form factor and the higher resolution screen that will be easier on the eyes. Although I have thousands of books on my Mac, I use them more for reference than straight reading because I find it difficult to read for long periods of time on the computer.

  41. Speaking of reading books, I tried out both the iBooks app and the Kindle iPad app. The Kindle app downloaded my four previously acquired Kindle books with no difficulty. Both are very straight forward, although the iBooks app has animated page turning. I don't know if this will get annoying or ignored in reading, say, a 300 page book. There should probably be a preference to keep the animation from occurring. Regardless, it seems to impress those to whom I've shown my iPad.

All in all, despite having some "version 1" gotchas, I'm very pleased with my iPad. Again, it's not made to replace anything, but can be a very nice secondary alternative. It has that "curl up on the couch" feel that a laptop or even a netbook does not have. I plan to carry it with me instead of my laptop to those places that don't require the extra computing power that a laptop or desktop computer offers. The iPad is my way to go "lite" and realistically, this may be for half or more of my normal computing needs.

When I bought my MacBook Pro in 2008, I purposefully spent extra money and bought a high end model that could be upgraded and would last me for a while. I even said at the time that this was my main computer and I wouldn't replace it for at least five years. I still plan to hold to that time frame, but in 2013 when I go to buy a new Mac, maybe I won't need a laptop after all. Maybe I can go to a less expensive iMac desktop Mac, knowing that the iPad of 2013 may very well be all I need for portable purposes.

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).

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.

Thursday
Jan282010

Reflections upon Electronic Books & Why in Spite of the iPad, I Probably Still Want a Kindle

First, let me say that with Accordance, Logos & Wordsearch all installed on my MacBook Pro, I literally carry with me thousands of books everyday. Thus, you can't say that I haven't embraced electronic texts. I've done that probably more than a lot of people.

And yet, I still have a soft spot for a good old fashioned, physical book. I can curl up on the couch with a good book, but not so easily with my laptop. I always joke that you can't read an electronic book in the bathtub--or at least you shouldn't (however, it's probably been over a decade since I read a book in a bathtub anyway). I still like to use a physical Bible when teaching or preaching in front of others. For that matter, I still enjoy the exercise of writing actual notes in the margins of my Bible as part of my preparation--even though I often do the same thing electronically in Accordance (certainly much more than I use to). There's something that I get experientially from physical books that I don't yet get from technology. But keep in mind that having said that, I still own thousands of electronic books--so I'm not being a Luddite here.

Regardless, I believe that while physical books will never completely go away, the electronic book is going to be an increasing presence. Supposedly, Amazon sold more books for its Kindle over the holidays than physical books for the first time ever. If true, I'm not surprised. And the new iPad may be an example of what Apple often does best--taking an already existing technology and moving it into the mainstream.

I was never interested in an electronic e-reader beyond my own MacBook Pro until about 3 or 4 months ago when I held a Kindle in my hand. Before that, I had rejected the Kindle as yet another gadget that probably most of us didn’t need. As already mentioned, I carry thousands of books, mostly biblical reference works, on my laptop, so why would a Kindle be necessary anyway?

But I ran into this guy—a pastor of a church—at a Starbucks, and we struck up a conversation about the Kindle. He had one and told me that it made buying books so easy and was so portable, he’d read well over 50 books last year. That’s much more than I read.

What really got me was the screen on the Kindle. Yes, I have thousands of books on my laptop, but I essentially use them all as reference. I never read one from beginning to end because my laptop screen is too hard on my eyes after extended periods of time. Not so with the Kindle from what I saw in my brief enounter. The Kindle had a screen that was very relaxing to the eyes. I really could see myself actually reading whole books on this thing.

Since the Kindle reads PDF files, I could also see myself converting some of my books on my laptop to PDF format and carrying them with me on a Kindle. In fact, I imagine that would be my main use for a Kindle. I definitely wanted one after I saw one first hand. But I'll come back to that.

There are other ramifications for the electronic texts and readers. Yesterday, the New York Times was given prominent treatment during the iPad announcement. The New York Times has already been experimenting with newspaper subscriptions that only show up on the Kindle. You wake up in the morning, turn on your Kindle and the NY Times is already downloaded on it. They are actually pushing a lot of subscribers to go this route because it removes the cost of delivery and actually is cheaper in the long run (even factoring in the cost of the device) for subscribers. Not to mention saving the wasteful cost of printing something on paper everyday. Electronic delivery could very well save the newspaper industry if they could get enough people to subscribe. And of course a device like Apple's iPad offers the benefit of multimedia that the Kindle doesn't currently offer. Suddenly even we muggles now have moving pictures in our newspapers.

Think also about textbooks. When I was in college, I kept a few of the books that were in my major area of study—I still have some of them—but like most students, I didn’t keep the majority of my books. I sold them back. What if the price of textbooks could be significantly decreased—perhaps even cut in half—by allowing them to be downloaded to a Kindle or an iPad or other similar device? The publishers should like the idea because it eliminates the reselling of textbooks which brings in no money back to them. Students would like it because electronic books should be much cheaper. I could even see a scenario in which a student registers for her classes and by the time she gets back to her dorm room, all of her textbooks for the quarter were already downloaded to her Kindle or iPad. I could imagine a similar situation in high schools, too. There's an incredible amount of potential for electronic texts in education

For me electronic texts on my personal computer have been a boon. I really appreciate not having to carry a stack of books with me to work on a project. I use the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary as a prime example of the benefits of an electronic edition. I've got both the physical set of the AYBD and a copy in Accordance. The physical set is six thick volumes. The electronic set is simply virtual. Further, the physical set does not have an index. You might wonder why an index would be needed with a dictionary, but you'd be surprised. Without an index, I have to search for a subject second guessing the way the editors would have arranged it. Plus, sometimes an subject is covered in more than one article. The physical set makes further treatment difficult to find, but an electronic copy that is searchable makes it much easier. Also, note in the graphic on the right that in the Accordance version of the AYBD, I can search specifically for certain fields. Besides the benefit of searching for the content of the dictionary, I can also zero in specifically on the way the dictionary treats biblical references, or search for all articles written by a certain author and more.

A concern I often hear in regard to electronic texts is whether or not they will be accessible twenty years from now. Think about it--I have a copy of Huckleberry Finn that was printed in the first half of the 20th century. It was given to me by my great aunt. As long as I take care of it, I should still be able to read it when I'm an old man. But how do I know that I will still be able to read an electronic text in 30 years that I've invested in now? That's a legitimate question, but one that the eventual creation of standard formats will answer.

I'm not worried about my investments in my biblical software. This is a field that is essentially all these companies do, and they've been doing it for quite some time. In a worse case scenario, if Company X were to get into financial trouble, I would think it would be worth another company's effort to acquire them and their customer base. Although certain variations of this scenario would be more frightening than others, I'm not worried about my current investment in this area.

For electronic texts seen in devices like the Kindle or iPad, however, it's important that standards can emerge. In an earlier experiment with electronic texts a few years ago, Amazon sold PDF versions of certain books. These texts had digital rights management built in to keep a purchaser from copying it willy nilly for his friends. I bought one of these PDF versions and have it to this day on my laptop. Unfortunately, I cannot open it. It was tied to the computer on which I purchased it. Amazon can't help me because they no longer sell the book. This is the kind of nightmare scenario that one fears if a significant investment is made into electronic texts. My decades old copy of Huck Finn on my shelf simply isn't affected by that kind of problem.

There's the other issue of ownership. Electronic books are virtual, made up of bytes of information on a storage device of some kind. Last year, Amazon made quite a stink when after discovering they'd sold electronic copies of George Orwell's 1984 for which they didn't have permission, they simply yanked them from Kindle owners who had bought the book via the Kindle's wireless connection. Not surprisingly, a store credit was not satisfactory to their customers. You know, if I buy an accidentally unauthorized printing of 1984, the manager of Barnes & Noble can't come into my home and take it off my bookshelf. Due to the outcry, Amazon has promised not to do this again, but the very idea that they could, is still a bit unnerving.

Yesterday, as you know unless you were hiding in a cave, Steve Jobs formally introduced the iPad. The worst kept secret in the computer industry, this "portable media device" promises to be something more than an iPhone/iPod Touch, but less than a full laptop computer. It's been called a "Kindle killer," but I hope this isn't so. I hope there's still room for both devices, but I also hope that the price of the Kindle comes down a bit in case I decide to eventually get one.

If you read the tech press at all, there's a surprising number of people disappointed with the new iPad. Paul Thurrott, for instance, has already written two posts about his disappointment with the iPad (see here and here). In his first post, he writes, "The thing I don't get here is... So far, nothing new. This has all been done before elsewhere. I'm astonished this isn't nicer looking or more interesting." But as much as I respect Paul, I think he misses the point. Yes, the iPad is less powerful than even a netbook, but for many people the iPad will be all the computer they need.

I know of no certain figures, but I would guess that there are a large percentage of computer users who do little more than read email, surf the web, and occasionally use a word processor. They don't need everything a full-fledged computer offers (whether laptop, desktop or even netbook). And while netbooks are nice (I even have an Acer Aspire One D250), they have many compromises that make them difficult to use as a main computer. But for the folks who don't need a full computer, the iPad may be ideal.

For education especially, the iPad will be beneficial. Not only do I imagine a scenario as I described above where one device could hold all of a student's textbooks, but with word processing capabilities as demonstrated yesterday with iWork Pages, it becomes a complete device for many users. And if you don't like iWork, don't worry. There will be plenty of other word processors available within a couple of years. If the iPad is successful--and I think it will be--I wouldn't even be surprised to see Microsoft release a version of Office for it. And I wonder what Google Docs would be like on the iPad right now?

The iPad will also be a very good option for people who need a smaller, less-capable, secondary computer. That's why I bought my Acer netbook to begin with. There are times when I don't need to take a full computer with me. Church is a good example. I teach on Sunday mornings from Keynote, but I wanted something less than my 15" MacBook Pro to carry with me. I had dreams of buying a netbook and making it into a Hackintosh and running Keynote from it. But that hasn't worked as well as I wanted and I'm back to using my MacBook Pro. So, of course, I'm very intrigued by the fact that the iPad has its own version of Keynote. I could also picture myself sitting in a church service taking notes on an iPad, something that I simply feel too conspicuous doing on a regular laptop.

There are also many times when I wished that my iPhone had a keyboard of its own. On an occasional weekend getaway, I don't necessarily want to take a whole computer, but I would like to keep up with email. The iPad would be perfect for this kind of use.

However, I want to see how Keynote really works on an iPad before I'd ever commit to one. When I teach with Keynote, I make extensive use of my notes in Keynote which show up on the presenter's screen but not on the projector. I have my doubts that the iPad will make use of extended desktops--at least in its initial version.

[Side note: Having read rumors that the iPad would have it's own version of the iWork suite, I was secretly hoping that Apple would release a Windows version of iWork. You might laugh, but that's not without precident since Apple's previous office suite, Claris/AppleWorks had a Windows version. This would have solved a main problem with the use of the Netbook. Currently I have Windows 7 installed on it for lack of a better solution, and a Windows version of Keynote would allow me to use it on Sunday mornings again.]

Thus, I really do think that in spite of the naysayers, the iPad is a significant offering. Yes, there have been tablet computers and e-readers and all the rest. But they've never been mainstream. The iPad may be the just right mix of everything that many people will realize that they don't need something more powerful. But time will tell.

I also hope that the iPad is not a "Kindle killer." I hope that there is room for both devices. Many people may just need a Kindle for reading without all the features of the iPad. Regardless, I think Amazon will be fine either way. They already have a Kindle reader for the iPhone which will presumably run just fine on the iPad. Even if they were to eventually quit manufacturing the Kindle device, Amazon could still sell books for their reader that would work on the iPad.

If Apple is successful with the iPad, I may want one eventually, but not the first generation. I had the first generation iPhone, but this time I think I'll sit back and let some of the rest of you work out the first generation bugs. The second generation iPhone was much better than the initial iPhone, and I imagine it will be the same for the iPad.

In the meantime, I'd still like to convert a number of my electronic texts to PDFs and read them on a Kindle. I have a hunch that four hours of straight reading on a Kindle is easier on the eyes than what it would be on an iPad. So, I'll be watching to see if the prices come down. Or if you want to yours, maybe you can make me an offer I can't refuse.

Wednesday
Dec092009

Accordance Atlas Now Links to Google Maps

Yesterday, Oak Tree Software updated Accordance from version 8.4 to 8.4.1. Normally a numerical distinction that insignificant would lead me to assume that the update was just a fix for some minor bugs. And it's true that part of the update did take care of some minor issue. However, the update also added a major (in my opinion) feature to the Accordance Atlas—integration with Google Maps.

Watch the video below for a demonstration.



A higher resolution version can be found at my personal gallery (click on LARGE).


See also: "Accordance 8.4.1 Adds Google Maps Integration" (Accordance Blog)

For more features of the Accordance Atlas, check out the Training Videos: "Using the Accordance Atlas" and "Customizing the Accordance Atlas."

Sunday
Nov222009

SBL: Software Bible Shootout

softwareI had the opportunity on Saturday to sit in on the "Bible Software Shootout" at SBL. This event was described in the program in the following manner:

Invited software vendors will showcase their products by demonstrating how their software solves five real-world problems in back-to-back comparisons. Each vendor will have 30 minutes, with the exception of SESB which will have 15 minutes.

Keith H. Reeves, Azusa Pacific University, Presiding

Logos Systems
Michael S. Heiser, Logos Systems, Respondent [replaced by Bob Pritchett]


Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible
Oliver Glanz, Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible, Respondent


BibleWorks
Jim Barr, Bible Works, Respondent
Glen Weaver, Bible Works, Respondent
Mark Cannon, Bible Works, Respondent


Accordance
Roy B. Brown, Accordance, Respondent
Rex A. Koivisto, Accordance, Respondent


Olive Tree
Stephen Johnson, Olive Tree Bible Software, Respondent
Drayton Benner, University of Chicago, Respondent


Each presenter was challenged to use their respective software packages to solve the following tasks:


  1. Give the parsing of a word and its meaning from a standard source.

  2. Show all the occurrences of a word in the NT and LXX and show the Hebrew word which corresponds withe the Greek in the LXX (if there is a correspondence).

  3. Find all the occurrences of οἰ δὲ in Matthew's gospel followed by a finite verb within the clause.

  4. I want to study a part of speech, e. g., demonstrative pronouns or interjections. How do I get all of the lemmas for that part of speech, get all the occurrences of those lemmas, and the results organized in such a way that I could write an article/monograph on that part of speech from the data?

  5. I want to study the inflections of the Hebrew middle weak verb, and I want to see what the range of possible variations are for each of the conjugations (perfect, imperative, etc.) person, number, gender, stem. This means I need to find all the middle weak verbs, find all their occurrences, and organize them in such a way that the variation of their inflections are immediately apparent. The goal of the data organization would be to allow me to write an article about the variations of the Hebrew middle weak verb.


I do not know if the session was video recorded, but it should have been. The Accordance team was the only one to provide a paper presenting the steps in putting together the solutions to the problems above. If the Accordance folks decide to post their paper, I'll create a link to it here.

Now, let me say up front that I'm biased towards Accordance. I won't try to hide that fact. I'm so biased, in fact, that I've agreed to work the booth with them here at SBL. But I should also point out that my bias is neither random nor based on anything but my own experience with Bible software.

I've been using Accordance for over 11 years. I own the Scholar's Unlock All, Library Premier, and scores of other modules I've added over the years. But you should know that I also own Logos 4 Gold Level (and other resources bought separately) and have it installed both in Windows (via Bootcamp & Parallels) and in Mac OS X (although the Mac version currently is an alpha version that is of minimal use). I have a very old version of BibleWorks (v. 3.5) which I had from my Windows days before I switched to the Mac in 1998. All of the above, I have paid for with my own funds. I also have a copy of Olive Tree's Bible software on the iPhone, some of which I bought and some of which was given to me by Olive Tree.

Here are a few reflections:

I still don't understand why Oliver Glanz was demonstrating the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible, since it runs on the Logos platform.

My familiarity with Accordance vs. my lesser familiarity with Logos and my almost nil experience with the current version of BibleWorks made it difficult for me to follow some aspects of the latter two's presentation.

Logos 4 continues to be extremely impressive visually, but I have to wonder how much all the many charts and graphs would be of significant help if I was needing it to solve the problems that were part of the challenge. A good way to describe Logos 4 is "visually overwhelming." And while I don't mean that in a totally negative manner, it's not completely positive either. There simply seemed to be too much thrown at the problems during the presentation, and it wasn't clear how helpful some of the supposed solutions would actually be.

Although Olive Tree could not perform every aspect of the last two challenges, what they could do was very impressive, indeed. The representatives from Olive Tree showed that their "pocket" software can be used for very serious work if someone is so inclined to do so. It's been over a year since I wrote my initial review of the iPhone app, and it's probably time to post an update.

Of all the presenters, only Roy Brown of Accordance provided a handout describing his solutions to the problems. In fact, his handout was 12 pages long! This meant that anyone with access to the software could easily go home and duplicate his solutions, step-by-step. That would really be impossible with the other software unless the attendee was keeping extremely meticulous notes.

Roy is undoubtedly the "father" of Mac Bible software. The maturity and straightforwardness of his presentation, combined with his knowledge of the software as an engineer as well as his insight into the biblical language gave his presentation a certain level of gravitas that the other presentations could not match.

There was an ongoing query during the Q&A sessions regarding the availability of critical apparatuses. Accordance fared best here having a total of eight combined for the LXX, Hebrew Bible, and Greek New Testament, including the near exhaustive CNTTS. Olive Tree does not currently have any. BibleWorks only had one, but an older one of less value (Tischendorf). I don't remember how many Logos had, but I know that have at least one for the NT and one for the OT.

Finally, after the competition was over (no winner was actually announced), I spoke briefly with a former classmate of mine who is now a professor in a prestigious seminary. He told me that in watching the different presentations, he thought Accordance had the most logical and straightforward solutions to the problems. While he said that he did not know how to use Accordance yet, he felt confident that it was something that could be easily learned as a valuable tool for biblical studies.

Let me be clear: no one gave a bad presentation. But if I had to pick a winner, biased or not, I would pick Accordance because of its simple, straightforward and logical approach. The methods employed were both useful (and often multiple in number to achieve the same results) as well as direct and to the point, avoiding the temptation to "wow" an audience with impressive features that do not necessarily or directly address the issues at hand.

Friday
Nov132009

Logos vs. Accordance, Part 3: Bibliographic Citations

This is the third in a series of video comparisons between Libronix/Logos and Accordance Bible Software. This particular comparison focuses on both programs' ability to produce bibliographic citations in word processing documents. Logos has had this ability for a while, and Accordance added it a couple of days ago with the release of v. 8.4.

Due to the time length constraints of YouTube, I had to split the video in the middle; however, as an alternative you can see a high definition version on my personal gallery in its entirety.

Segment A:



Segment B:



Points of Clarification:

  1. In the first example which looks at commentary citations, I'm not suggesting that it's incorrect for Logos or Accordance to provide information that designates the source as an electronic one. Actually, it's very correct, but I find it very interesting that the two programs do this quite differently. And in part of my "corrections," I am merely demonstrating how one might remove this information if turning a paper into someone who might be biased against electronic sources. Believe me, these folks still exist!

  2. In one example, I paste a sentence from the TDNT in Logos 4/Windows into Word 2008/Mac. I comment that the transliterated word érōs was capitalized in the process to Érōs. I have confirmed that this does not occur when pasting from Logos 4/Windows to Word 2007/Windows. Therefore, Mac users pasting in a native word processor will want to watch for these kinds of alterations. Once Logos 4/Mac is more fully developed, I assume this won't be an issue.

 


Previous installments:

Libronix/Mac vs. Accordance, Part 1: "Speed" Search

Libronix/Mac vs. Accordance, Part 1.1: Speed Search Revisited

Libronix/Mac vs. Accordance, Part 2: Printing


Wednesday
Oct212009

Create Your Own Audio Books

If I hit traffic at the wrong time, I can be in the car up to an hour each day traveling from home to my office and back. Sure, I like music, but just not that much. It seems a bit mindless after awhile. Talk radio? Even more mindless.

So I listen to a lot of audiobooks, podcasts, lectures from iTunesU and other sources—you get the idea. I import them into iTunes and then I transfer them to my iPhone.

You've heard the old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Well, for me this afternoon, it was the mother of discovery. See, I'm teaching a six-week Wednesday night class at my Baptist church on understanding and dialoguing with Jehovah's Witnesses. Just as I do with my Sunday morning Bible study, I like to over-prepare. Certainly, I don't mind saying, "I don't know the answer to that; I'll get back to you," but I'd prefer not to if I don't have to.

So this afternoon, as I was packing up to drive home, I thought to myself, I wish I had an audio book about Jehovah's Witnesses to listen to on my commute home. I wondered if there was something cheap at christianaudio.com. There wasn't. I also looked at a couple of other places.

Then, from the far recesses of my mind, I had this vague memory of reading about Mac OS X Snow Leopard's ability to convert text to iTunes spoken audio. See, I knew I had content because I knew I had Zondervan's Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult in Accordance. The question was how to convert it to audio.

First I found the article in Accordance. After highlighting all the text, I right-clicked on it. Nothing in the contextual menu. Accordance has been able to "read" text verbally for a long time. Most Mac applications can, but that wasn't what I was after. I wanted to make an automatic recording. Then, I remembered—it was part of Mac OS X's Services menu. But looking there, I saw nothing related to converting speech to text. However, I did see Services Preferences. Clicking that, I got this dialogue box:

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 4.19.04 PMNoticing the fourth option in the right pane above (it was technically under the "Text" section), "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track," all I had to do was check the box.

 

Going back to Accordance with my text selected, I went to the Services menu and chose that option. A little gear showed up in my menu bar and began turning. Then iTunes came to the front and displayed a message that it was converting the text into audio. Then, it was through. Of course, I had no idea where it was. I finally found it under Music with the title "Text to Speech." I looked at the length. I had an a 1 hour and 17 minute audio track! I changed the name to "Jehovah's Witnesses."

 

How long did it take to create it? I went back and created it again, this time using the timer on my iPhone to keep track of how long the process took. It took approximately two minutes! To gain some perspective, I copied the text of the article from Accordance to my clipboard and then pasted it into Word. That produced a 30 page, single-spaced document (with a space between each paragraph).

 

So think about this—a thirty page document converts to an hour and 17 minute audio track, and it only took two minutes to create!

 

Of course, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Yeah, but you have to listen to that mechanized computer voice. You're right, but so what? I've got my speech voice in Mac OS X set to "Alex," and while professional audiobook readers have nothing to worry about, the voice itself has very much improved over the years. Plus, I've spent countless hours of my life listening to people drone on in academic settings using lesser-sounding voices (that's meant as humor).

 

Regardless, the possibilities here are endless. This opens up whole new doors. In Accordance alone, I have more material than I could probably ever read in my life anyway: books, theological journals, reference works, Bibles and more. Further, the ability to convert any text to an iTunes audio track works with any text on my computer, regardless of the source. So, if it's an article from the internet, PDF, word processing document—they can all be converted to audio tracks which can be transferred to my iPhone.

 

What great technology! I also assume that with time, the speech synthesis quality will improve, too. In the meantime, Alex will have to do.

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