December 02, 2008

Bible Software New Releases

Accordance often makes big releases around the time of the SBL meeting and this year was no exception. I was waiting for them to post it on their web page so I could link to it. Greek NT Papyri, and Coptic texts are great additions. Some folks will like the complete BDB Hebrew Lexicon.

Another exciting moment was demo-ing the Greek and Hebrew bibles on Olive Tree's new iPhone bible reader application. I've carried a translation and a tagged GNT on my Palm device for years now. It's so handy to have them everywhere I go. The iPhone version looks absolutely awesome. It flows so incredibly (with a flick!). They don't have the tagged Greek/Hebrew texts yet, but those are coming in '09. Chris Heard tipped me off that if you already own Olive Tree texts in Palm, they'll transfer you to iPhone for free. It's looking like my iPhone transition is now immenent.

I also was looking forward to trying out Logos' new Mac software. I've not yet had a chance since they have absolutely no demo options. I can't remember the last time I encountered a piece of software that didn't have a demo version. Utterly insane. Anyhow, at first it looked like they had it for sale at their booth, but alas it was just still pre-orders for a later ship date (ie. no shrink-wrapped on hand). Their Promo Banner says it all, kinda. So, unfortunately, when I made it to their booth on the last morning to try it out, they had broken down their booth already. Everything was gone, and it was only 10 a.m. So, no luck there.

It was funny that 30 minutes later, someone came over the P.A. chastising any vendor who had already boxed up with something like, "Vendors, the exhibit hall is open until 12 p.m. Please do not break down your booths until after the hall closes." I saw at least a couple other offenders. *Shrug*

November 19, 2008

SBL Presentation: Mark without Mark

This weekend at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, I am making the first public airing of my research work for the last several years. If you are at the conference, you are most invited to attend. The section begins at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The presenter before me is a friend, and should be a suitable booking for warming up the crowd for me.

SBL23-87 Q 11/23/2008, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM Room: Meeting Room 307 - CC Joseph Verheyden, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Presiding (5 min) Ken Olson, Duke University Mistranslated Aramaic or Septuagintal Greek?: A Source-Critical Examination of Luke 11:41, 48 (25 min) Joseph A. Weaks, Brite Divinity School Mark without Mark: Problematizing Some Uses of Q as a Primary Source in Studies of Early Christianity (25 min) Discussion (20 min) Break (5 min) Jeffrey Peterson, Austin Graduate School of Theology Q 1:31 and 22:64: Jesus' Birth and Passion in the Synoptic Sayings Source (25 min) Jason BeDuhn, Northern Arizona University Marcion's Gospel and the Reconstruction of Q (25 min) Discussion (20 min)
In lieu of posting the abstract from the program booklet, I'll provide here the introductory segment of the paper. (I'm unfamiliar with protocol regarding posting the entirety of an SBL paper.)



Joseph A. Weaks

Over a century ago the Q-proposal began its journey into acceptance among NT scholarship. While the textual evidence regarding the full extent of this early Christian document has remained unchanged, our reliance upon and use of Q as a source of early Christian studies has grown to become hard and fast. Today, when used as source material in gospel studies, we assume that "the extent of the Q material is reasonably clear." And, with the arrival of the International Q Project's (IQP) "Critical Edition of Q," the working text of Q has lost its tenuous nature, becoming all but canonized. But how reliable is the text of Q that we can reconstruct? As we continue to make use of a reconstructed text of Q in fields such as historical Jesus studies or early Christian formations or redaction analysis, it becomes increasingly important that we find ways to assess just how reliable is a reconstructed text.

Typically, when utilizing a reconstructed text of Q for historical, literary or redactional inquiries, we handle the text in the same manner that we treat our critically constructed gospel texts. The designation of IQP’s tome as the “critical” edition asserts that Q has been constructed in the same manner, or at least with the same reliability, as a critical text of Mark. In Excavating Q, professor Kloppenborg compares the process that arrives at a text of Q and that of one that establishes a text of the NT. He rightfully characterizes both as a “matter of probabilities.” He goes on to claim that “this fact does not make the resultant text any less usable than the text of the NT.” The former is a process of backwards reconstructing the text of Q from two and only two sources that have made use of the text. The latter is a process of critically constructing an attested NT document from multiple actual copies of it. The source material and how it is obtained and how it relates to the goal text is very different between the two processes, to the extent that a logical argument equating the two is not easily sustained. While both processes do consist of negotiating probabilities, the nature of those probabilities may be so layered in one case that it renders the results substantially more tenuous.

Analysis of Q plays an increasing role in defining the landscape of early Christian studies. The theology of Q is constructed as a determinable feature of what is commonly recognized as one of the earliest Christian documents. The document Q is redacted between different strata, tracing the history and development of the earliest Christian communities from this hypothetical source. In conducting research on the historical Jesus, Q is said to provide source material earlier and far more reliable than the canonical gospels. The generic features of the "sayings gospel" are providing a paradigm for understanding how the earliest Christians embraced the kerygma of Jesus and the disciples. The importance of these evaluations, and the significant role that Q plays in them, suggests the importance of improving our evaluations for how Q is relied upon as a source.

The difficulty with the current state of Q as a source in gospel studies is that we have little in the way of an established method for evaluation. When a reconstructed text of Q is used as source material in gospel studies in the same way that the gospel of Matthew or even the gospel of Thomas is used, how do we know that the process of reconstruction does not render such use of the resulting text questionable? When scholars refer to the frequency or absence of identifying phrases, or when we point to a structural feature of Q, are these summary evaluations possible given the nature of a reconstructed text? To answer the question, this project reconstructs Mark and uses it as a parallel paradigm for understanding just what we have (and don't have) when we work from a reconstructed text.

The proposal is to reconstruct the gospel of Mark based upon the evidence in Matthew and Luke in triple tradition pericopes. This represents a hypothetical, historical construct, that it was Q that survived instead of Mark. So then, the task at hand is to identify all the places where Matthew and Luke share material that they did not get from Q. This resulting reconstruction of Mark can then be compared with the canonical form of Mark. Assessing what is lost in the reconstruction, what is introduced, and what is changed in relation to canonical Mark, we can see what limits may also apply to the study and use of a reconstructed Q.

November 12, 2008

Book Meme

Only God had the authority to forgive sins--not even the Messiah was ever credited with such authority in Jewish thought.
from Spirit & Gospel in Mark by M. Robert Mansfield.

Book Meme from James Tauber

  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  • Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST."

New Jerusalem Mayor Reflects City's Schism : NPR

Apparently, the New Jerusalem has arrived, and it's already chosen a mayor.
New Jerusalem Mayor Reflects City's Schism : NPR

November 11, 2008

IBM Lotus Symphony - Now with Mac OS X Support Available

Enter another big player into the Macintosh Word Processor arena. Right now, it's just in beta, and has limited language support, but let's wait and see.

IBM Lotus Symphony - Buzz: Lotus Symphony Release 1.2 with Mac OS X Support Available: "Lotus Symphony Release 1.2 with Mac OS X Support Available

Lotus Symphony release 1.2 is now available and includes Beta support for the Mac OS X platform in English. I know many of you have been waiting for this new platform and hope you will take the time to try it out and give us your feedback. We expect to have a Generally Available version for Mac in all the languages we support in 1Q09.

In addition to the Mac OS support, we have added some new enhancements to our Data Pilot support in our spreadsheet tool and have made the Ubuntu platform Generally Available. We've also made some performance improvements. For all the details on what's included in this release take a look at the release notes."

October 14, 2008

Native OpenOffice Is Finally Here

The continued progression of OpenOffice on the Mac platform is very exciting news for those who write and work on their Macs.

If you've not read previous comments on OpenOffice, it is the open source community initiative towards developing and improving an open platform software sweet that can replace the functionality of Micro$oft Office. I had been running NeoOffice, which provides a java wrapper to OpenOffice, allowing it to run well on newer Macs, but this new release of OpenOffice is in a fully Mac native version. I was excited about this when I first got the beta some time ago. Read here for some notes about the OpenOffice 3.0 Release and for download options.

OpenOffice is an excellent choice for some solutions. For instance, we have a Mac lab in our church... no need to buy Micro$oft Office for them all... we can now deploy OpenOffice at no cost. It opens many, many file formats, including the newest Office formats, so works great in an inter-office setting. You have nothing to lose in giving it a try... it's free!

October 11, 2008

Accordance Blog Search Engine

The Accordance Blog has continued with steadfastness the posting of helpful subject matter on using this powerful bible software. It represents a wealth of information. With their website redesign, one side effect of other improvements made it more difficult to peruse blog posts. Here is a custom search engine to solve that problem:

The Accordance Blog Search Engine

(If there was demand, we could also release a search widget.)

September 16, 2008

Minor Agreement of the Day: οἱ

Sometimes the smallest words catch your eye. As in the pericope of Jesus instructing the disciples to make ready for his entry into Jerusalem. Here's a verse with minor agreements in bold:

Matthew 21:6 Mark 11:4 Luke 19:32
πορευθέντες δὲ οἱ
μαθηταὶ καὶ
ποιήσαντες καθὼς
συνέταξεν αὐτοῖς
ὁ Ἰησοῦς
καὶ ἀπῆλθον καὶ

εὗρον πῶλον
δεδεμένον πρὸς θύραν
ἔξω ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδου
καὶ λύουσιν αὐτόν.
ἀπελθόντες δὲ οἱ
εὗρον καθὼς
εἶπεν αὐτοῖς.
And the disciples,

and doing just as
Jesus had directed them,
And they
went away

and found a colt
tied near a door,
outside in the street.
going away the
ones who were sent
found it just as
he had told them.
Oddly, it's οἱ that caught my eye. Luke on the whole is following Mark in this story, but the occassional dash of Lukan/Matthean agreement is interesting, particularly that both provide the substantive plural nominative article to match up with the participles in the opening structure. Am I really to believe that Luke and Matthew provided the article independently? Both have taken Mark's finite verbals and transformed them into participles. I mean Luke's first verb looks like: Mark's ἀπῆλθον + Matthew's πορευθέντες = Luke's ἀπελθόντες.

P.S. "of the day" does not necessarily mean every day.

August 27, 2008

Get Bookends and Mellel for $49

If you do not have the word processor Mellel and the bib software Bookends, then this deal is sweet for you. MacUpdate has included these two must-have apps for bible scholars in the latest software bundle from MacUpdate.

Get them for $49 (along with some other apps for which I have no opinion, though if MacJournal gets included, that's good news).

Introducing Ubiquity: Quicksilver for Firefox?

This inter(web)application utility now in beta called Ubiquity is a fascinating project. It's very similary to Quicksilver, in some respects, but it is a plug-in designed to work on Firefox (Mozilla browsers).

As it develops, it may present real possibilities for online research.

July 30, 2008

Audio Greek/Hebrew Flashcards for your iPod

I came across this posting, "Create smart playlists in iTunes for audio flashcards", on MacOSXHints today. It has tremendous potential for users or instructors creating a audio exercises. With some careful preparation, you can have phonetic exercises, vocabulary, etc. and they can be listened to at the computer or on the go on your iPod. When I was involved in teaching the Greek program at Brite, each semester we'd make countless cassette tapes of the audio exercises we had recorded for students. This would be a very worthwhile project for a Greek or Hebrew (or theological German/French/Spanish, any language) instructor.

Have a look at the write-up to learn more.

Question: Can't you associate an image with a song? This would allow for visual feedback as well. Just a thought.

July 25, 2008

Entering Unicode Text and Symbols

If you want to make entering Unicode text a natural part of your workflow on your Mac, whether it be Greek, Hebrew, or special symbols, it is best if you spend a couple minutes preparing your setup. You need to make the "International" preference pane and the Input Menu your friend. In OS X 10.5, you will find the "Input Menu" tab in the "International" system preference pane. Make sure you do six things in this pane:

  1. Check "Show input menu in menu bar"
  2. Check "Character Palette"
  3. Check "Keyboard Viewer"
  4. Scroll down and also enable only the few languages that you'll be using, such as "Hebrew - QWERTY" or "Greek Polytonic" or another Unicode keyboard you have installed.
  5. Also check the "Unicode Hex Input" keyboard.
  6. Finally, either simply note or even customize the two keyboard shortcuts listed that enable you to both toggle between the two most recent input keyboards and to cycle through all unicode keyboards listed in your input menu. For more information on customizing your shortcuts, have a look at this post on Juggling Keyboard Shortcuts.
All this preparation will put the Input Menu in your menu bar that will look something like this:

So, if I'm writing text where I occasionally need to switch to the Greek keyboard, all I do is select Greek from the menu the first time, and from then on out, I use my quick keyboard shortcut to toggle between the two. However, you have other options.

At any point, you can open the "Keyboard Viewer" to have a look at the keyboard layout you currently have selected. But what about the entering of some random letter or symbol in Unicode?

You can open the "Character Palette" from the input menu and search for the glyph. However, if you do a lot of this, then I'd highly recommend getting the great app Unicode Checker.

Also, if you know the Unicode hex number for the letter or symbol, you can switch to the "Unicode Hex Input" keyboard and then hold down the option (⌥) key while you press the numbers/letters for the character. If you're just typing in your default language otherwise, you can keep this specialized keyboard selected. This functionality will be familiar to Windoze users.
For instance, let's say you want to enter that symbol for option. Perhaps you're familiar with my listing of all keyboard symbols here. Then, since you know that the option symbol is hex #2325, with the "Unicode Hex Input" keyboard selected, you hold down the Option key and press "2325" and out pops the "⌥" symbol.

The final thing I'd add is if there are some special symbols you think you'll be wanting to enter with some frequency, you may want to create a text file or snippet so that you can quickly copy and paste them in. I have a text file called Unicode Dingbats Symbols where I collect all Unicode symbols of interest for quick reference. Or, you might use TextExpander or other text replacement utility to change "+command" into "⌘" and "+option" into "⌥" as you type. Or, like me, you may put some frequently used text like this string "⌘⌥⌃⇥␣⎋⇧⇪⏎⌤⌫⌦⌧⇭⏏⌽⇱⇲⇞⇟↑⇡↓⇣←⇠→⇢" on a shelf in Quicksilver that pastes into your document with a keystroke.

Just a few minutes of prep work will have you typing in Unicode with ease. Find the methods that work for you. (You know what they say about obtaining cat skins.)

July 08, 2008

Quicksilver's Back

News from 43 Folders on Quicksilver development:

"Since going open source late last year, things have seemed pretty quiet in the world of our favorite app launcher, Quicksilver. Today, our pal, Tim Gaden of Hawk Wings, posts on the availability of a bug fix release of Quicksilver that’s come out in the last few weeks. He also points to a thread on the QS Google Group that suggests Quicksilver’s auteur and flippered mystery bot, A1c0r, is currently hard at work on a substantial rewrite: "Please note that this is only a bug fix version, the creator of Quicksilver (Alcor) is working on a complete re-write of the frameworks of Quicksilver and should hopefully release it soon ;)"
And there was much rejoicing.

July 05, 2008

Danny Zacharias does IT support for his school. He posts what they've set up as the ideal classroom setup on When I did this thinking at the seminary, and as I do it now in the Mac lab at my church, the desktop setup was equally important as well. I'd encourage more of these posts from other IT folks, and screen shots as well as discussion about log-in setups, etc.

July 02, 2008

Introducing ISO 32000-1, er PDF's

This is a welcome development on the standardization of the .pdf document format. PDFs have been the proprietary format of Adobe but a year ago Adobe finally released PDF's for international open access and standardization. The format has just been formalized as such. Let Adobe's process be a shining example over against the Mob-like manner in which Microsoft got its new OOXML format accepted into ISO.

I have previously touted the great capabilities has for working with PDF's, and these tools will only improve with the PDF format becoming open.

One other PDF note is that Adobe has just released version 9 which I still can't imagine using in place of It does have the added feature of displaying embedded Flash which would be as useful to me as shoving bamboo shoots under my fingernails.

May 29, 2008

QuarkXPress 8 Supports OpenType/Unicode

The support for Unicode and OpenType in QuarkXPress 8 represents a vast improvement in typography, and I'm hoping represents one more step towards publishers embracing Unicode standards for language font/glyph requirements.

May 26, 2008

Accordance 8.0 Is Here With More Powerful Searches

Accordance 8.0 is here. It looks like our old Accordance in most ways, but there have been many changes under the hood. I'm most thrilled to now have a Universal Binary that runs with less system resource on Intel Macs. Other fantastic features are:

  • the [ANY]  tag, letting you search for, say, case across adjectives, nouns, participles, etc.
  • the [FUZZY] search, which will help me find those verses where I kinda know how it goes.
  • the new [INFER] command which opens many doors for searching inter-textuality.
  • the new text customizations, including spacing, text color and background color.
  • draggable panes (though I don't care for the look of the new horizontal text panes).
  • and perhaps my favorite new feature... greater Unicode compatibility! You can paste Unicode text into a search box and it automagically gets converted to the Accordance font schemes. This renders my own Unicode to Helena converters needless, unless you're still wanting to do bible/user tool creation based on Unicode texts.
All in all, there's much here to make many happy. Do yourself a favor and check out the video demoing the new search capabilities.

Way to go, Accordance!

May 23, 2008

Accordance 8.0 Release Soon

The Accordance Blog today revealed (see "Soon, Very Soon") that they plan to release the newly rebuilt version of Accordance Bible Software in less than a month. The major feature made public is that the underpinnings of Accordance have been rewritten to run as a Universal Binary. Hallelujah! With this kind of rewrite, and with a new "point oh" release from Oak Tree, we have historical reasons to expect some serious new features.

Let's call "less than a month" less than 29 days (they're a conservative bunch). Why don't we throw up a timer then.

Update: Accordance 8.0 has been released:

May 13, 2008

VBA Coming to Microsoft Office 2012

According the the Mac Business Unit at Micro$oft, they have seen the error of their ways and determined to reintegrate Visual Basic for Applications scripting back into the next major release of Office. If only they would've consulted me to start with... VBA was a cross platform feature that allowed for advanced forms, and also tremendous customization. It was sacrificed in Office 2008 to speed up the release date.

So, you can add VBA to my predictions for Microsoft Word 2012 (or thereabouts).

Although, it's always possible that by then we'll all be using OpenOffice and not buying.

May 12, 2008

b-b-beta fever

I bought VMWare Fusion last December to load on my office computer (since our church management software is Windoze only). I've only just gotten around to installing, prompted by WMWare's release of the new beta 2.0. I installed via Bootcamp first, and the first time I saw that "Windows XP" load screen on my beautiful MacBook, I confess I had a little gag reflex. Still, everything worked perfectly... I booted into Windows, played one round of solitaire (which is all I ever see people using Windows for), and then installed Fusion. This application allows me to run Windows apps I must have right alongside my Mac apps.

As I looked down at my dock, I notice that half of my apps are in beta (I can't confirm some, hehe). Here's a screenshot of me running the new beta of Firefox and OpenOffice in Windows on a virtual machine in the new Fusion Beta. (None of which is necessary since both of them run native on OS X now.) 3.0 Beta Goes Aqua

I have been recommending to others for some time that they consider NeoOffice as a free/open-source replacement for Micro$oft Office. NeoOffice is a port of OpenOffice, which needed the Unix X11 interface wrapper to run on OS X. (Translation: it ran slow and didn't look Mac-like and was complicated to run since it relied on the Unix under-pinnings of your Mac.)

This is changing with version 3 of OpenOffice... they are porting it to Aqua which means it runs like and looks like other Mac apps. Here is a first look at the 3.0 Beta just released this week and things look promising. When it goes to full release, I expect I will be deploying it and recommending it.

On a side note, Recently in the comments, a NeoOffice aficionado mentioned that the NeoOffice team may continue development past OO 3.0. This concerns me. I know alot of work has gone into the excellent NeoOffice but if it gets deprecated, it gets deprecated. I recently sent money to NeoOffice project and don't regret it for a second, even if its need is shortlived. I will be interested to see a public statement from the NeoOffice team on intentions when the time comes. It is too soon to expect that from them at this time. Much will depend on the shape and sustainability of the final OO 3.0 release.

The big news is that this is all great for the state of open source productivity apps on the Mac.

May 11, 2008

Text Critic Sound Bites

The Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum was host to to text critics addressing questions around whether or not the text of the New Testament was reliable. The brief coverage articles are a great example of sound-bite-quotey, so I thought I might take some of the quotes even further out of context:

If [the number of variants] were the only piece of data we had it would discourage anyone from attempting to recover the wording of the original, but there is more to the story. The reason we have a lot of variants is that we have a lot of manuscripts. To speak about the number of variants without also speaking about the number of manuscripts is simply an appeal to sensationalism. -- Daniel Wallace
And if the violence in Iraq is down, it is because the enemy is being defeated because the troop surge is working; and if the violence in Iraq is up, it is because the enemy in their last throes because the troop surge is working.
There are more differences in our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. Well, that's a lot. -- Bart Ehrman
Well, it is alot.
In short, the elemental tenacity in the New Testament textual tradition not only permits but demands that we proceed on the premise that, in every instance of textual variation, it is possible to determine the form of the original text. -- Michael Holmes
But if we acknowledge we will never reach certainty, is proceeding as if it were so a flawed approach?
Scripture will not, in and of itself, lead us to destruction. -- Dale Martin
True. You must add capitalism into the mix.
Would the author of Matthew’s Gospel, if he came along and looked over their shoulder, have... said ‘Look’s good enough to me’? -- David Parker
He may also say, "Do you mind?"
It’s an exciting field. There’s a lot happening. Maybe it’s time for you to think about jumping on in, because the water’s pretty great these days in New Testament textual criticism. -- William Warren

May 10, 2008

Twitter Tweets Screensaver

I have used Twitter only briefly. It logged progress on one aspect of my dissertation... the progress through a text reconstruction. I am not a regular Twitter user, though I like the idea of scholars doing brief work updates on Twitter.

If you're tired of pictures of your kids, you can follow your Twitter Tweet subscriptions in a screen saver that may already be loaded on your computer.

May 07, 2008

Unicode Now Most Common Text Format

Unicode is now the most common text encoding for pages found on the web. (Google made the report recently on their blog.) Let many note that this evidences that the writing is now on the wall, perhaps in a room that's already been remodeled without you're realizing it:

  • If you are a scholar whose writing includes reference to Greek or Hebrew or another language and do not know how to use unicode in your documents, it is not a fad that is going away.
  • If you are a publisher and are still considering when you should shift to unicode standards for your manuscript submissions, stop considering.
  • If you are a software developer and you have no unicode implementation or only partial/patchwork unicode implementation, the train is pulling away from the station.
  • If you haven't a clue what unicode is, you would benefit from this quick read.

April 26, 2008

The Search for the Right Mac Setup in the Office

I'll be moving into a new office this summer, and it already has me thinking about the new desk and how I want to setup my MacBook on the desk. Using a laptop as your main desktop as well complicates matters.
Things I know:

  • The MacBook will be the computer
  • I'll place an external display as well (19" probably)
  • I want an external keyboard and mouse involved in ergonomic locations
  • My phone cradle is a must
  • I want to minimize plugins, so I'll have a USB hub cable, an ethernet cable, a power cable all in place.
A first question is whether I want the MacBook display below and in front of the external, or do I want it lifted up on an elevator.

I find it helpful to look at Mac desk setups for ideas. A printer-cartridge company pointed me to their recent photo gallery of Mac setups: 25 of the Best Home & Office Mac Setups.

A great way to get ideas is to scan some of the many Flickr photo pools.

April 23, 2008

The Impact of the Printing Press on Biblical Theology

I do hope in time to publish some of my formulated work on the issue of how human technological advance has (arbitrarily) altered the church's biblical theology. The invention of the codex (bound book) allowed for an eventual new approach to how one understands the canon as a single book.

I cherish the time I've spent researching in Wolfenbüttel where I spent significant time with the 1516 Erasmus text--the first ever printed Greek New Testament. Until the invention of the printing press, there had never been in existence two copies of a biblical book that were identical. The invention was a catalyst for a theological approach to the nature of biblical inspiration that could not exist previously.

The occasion of these reflections is the enjoying of Stephen Fry's documentary on the Gutenberg Press, now fully available online. You may enjoy it.

April 16, 2008

On the Subjunctive…

It is definitely the case that the world needs more blog posts that focus on one mood. Greek/Hebrew instructor ought to enjoy this posting... and it makes for good information for any of you with Greek students needing clarity about their English subjunctive use.

Were I to seek examples of the subjunctive…

HT: Daring Fireball

April 11, 2008

Convert Unicode Greek to Helena Font

I am making available a Unicode to Legacy Font conversion routine I wrote last year.

This utility culls through characters of text on the clipboard and then converts any Unicode characters that fall within the Helena font characters into their Helena font equivalencies.

This has at least two uses.

1. If you use Helena in your text document, you can easily include Greek that you are pulling from another source, even if it is in Unicode characters.

2. If you encounter some Unicode Greek text, such as on a web page, you can copy it to the clipboard and then convert it to Helena encoding, suitable for pasting into the search box of Accordance Bible software.

You can download the font conversion utility here.

I want to captures my notes/todos everywhere: Evernote Possibly?

There have been several note taking/capture applications in the last couple years that work towards complete sync between portable device, desktop application, web interface. This is what I want. And, I applaud the continued trend towards thinking this way. I want to be able to increasingly thing in terms of my capture and sorting of info/todos/etc in my notes, and then I can access those notes in whatever context I'm in. Evernote is another addition and advancement in this direction.

April 09, 2008

Instant warm, fuzziness from NeoOffice

If you have not purchased Word 08 for Mac, do yourself a huge favor and have a look at NeoOffice, now in version 2.2.3. We are now buying Macs at our church with no worries about extra expenses for Office products. I'm simply deploying NeoOffice. It moved me to make a donation today, and not only did I feel good about supporting the project, but received such a sweet autoreply:

Thank you for your donation to NeoOffice. As a result of generous contributions from people like yourself, we are able to fund many of the operating expenses that are required to keep the NeoOffice project running. Your contributions will be used to help us to continue providing valuable services to the NeoOffice community such as free downloads, frequent releases, bug fixing, and support and testing forums.
Have I mentioned that I think NeoOffice is a very good solution? The toolbar icons are a little clunky for me, but the functionality here is just great, will get greater.

April 02, 2008

Annotate PDF's and More with Preview

So, your student or colleague has sent you a paper in PDF form and wants your comments. This used to be a pain, for you couldn't write/scribble/cross out on the file, but passed notes back in another form (unless you had invested in 3rd party options, some very expensive). Well, with Leopard, the has become supercharged, allowing you to work wonders with pdfs, including adding pages, highlights, notes, and markings, that you can then send back to someone else who can view the comments, even if they're using Acrobat Reader on Windows. Have a look at this recent survey of fantastic new features of Preview in Mac OSX 10.5. Complete list of new and helpful features:

  1. Annotage PDFs
  2. Delete & Rearrange Pages
  3. Merge PDFs
  4. Crop & Resize Images
  5. Mask (delete background) Images
  6. Adjust Image Color
  7. Print Multiple Images per Page
  8. Add Keywords to Images & PDFs

April 01, 2008

Apple Releases King David Garage Band Loops from the Psalms




Free download only available today: Here's the link

March 31, 2008

Best Web Browser for your Online Work

I have been using Safari for quite awhile. I have Firefox installed for those web pages that seem to require it. I am interested in the little cottage industry of web browsers still out there, some of them very powerful. I'm not sure any are a clear choice for pastors/scholars... Firefox has so many plug-in options, there is great potential there. Macworld just released a very good survey of the Mac browser landscape called "The Browser Bunch". It includes sections on: Comparison charts

Interface summaries

Rendering Engines

Web standards compliance




and suggestions on finding the right browser for you (pay or free)

It's a very well done article. It does conclude that for most folks, Safari is the best choice, with Firefox also with merits. (It seems I had gotten it right even before reading the article.)

Update: Or you can go old school.

March 23, 2008

B-Greek Search Bookmarklet

I previously made available a Dashboard Widget to facilitate searching the rich archives of the Biblical Greek Email Listserv. For the sake of my PC-using fellow Hellenes, here is what I think could be an even better way of searching the archives--a bookmarklet.

By dragging the bookmarklet into the bookmark bar of your browser, you can click on it to quickly jump to a custom B-Greek search page. However, it includes the additional features:

  • If you first highlight a search string in the current browser window, it will search for that string in the B-Greek archives.
  • It returns results from the newer and older archives (pre- and post-1998)
To use the bookmarklet, just drag this link into the bookmark bar on your browser:

B-Greek Search

Have a look at a results page: You can see the "B-Greek Search" item on the bookmark bar. See how, for instance, I could be viewing the results of my previous search shown in the image above, and becoming interested in TON KOSMON--well, I can then highlight the term and click the bookmarklet to search once more.

As for Bookmarklets: This little project has got me thinking what other web resources we use in scholarly/biblical work would be handy to be able to search by highlighting text in a web browser window followed by a single click. Perhaps someone may have suggestions.

Οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν ταῖς γυναιξίν· μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς, οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον ζητεῖτε· 6 οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, ἠγέρθη γὰρ καθὼς εἶπεν.

Happy Easter!

March 17, 2008

German Dictionary Plugins

Here are some German Dictionary Plugins to add German words to in OS X 10.5 or later.

See this blog post for more.

March 07, 2008

Welcome to the Church of Mac!

Mac genius Tony Edwards has taken his speaking enterprise and general Mac evangelism to a Stephen Colbertish place by creating the persona of a charismatic leader of the Church of Mac. I'm left trying to decide whether this is cute, funny, clever and/or sacrilegious.

I think I'm leaning towards sacrilegious. :)

March 06, 2008

Mac Apps for Getting Your Work Done

I am still an agnostic with reference to my office productivity methods. I switch back and forth, at times meandering lost in the wilderness. I move from post-its to notebooks to on screen solutions including iGTD, iCal and/or plain text files (though a constant there is that Quicksilver always plays some role). One could waste alot of time figuring out how they'd like to manage their time.

I did find helpful this article on 5 Amazing Mac Apps for Getting Things Done (from Zen Habits).

"The ideal for anyone interested in Getting Things Done (more on GTD, and more)– or just being productive and organized, for that matter — is to be able to quickly add things to your to-do lists without interrupting your work; to be able to see what you need to do right now, without worrying about everything else; to be able to organize stuff without too much work."
Do share in the comments any tips, methods, utilities you use. The choices really are legion.

March 05, 2008

B-Greek Search Widget

Carl Conrad mentioned to me the ongoing woes of searching the B-Greek archives. For those who don't know, the Biblical Greek email listserv has been active for years. It has been a place to discuss matters regarding learning, teaching and exploring Biblical Greek. The archives contain a treasure in and of themselves, but the listserv doesn't provide easy searching capability. So, I wrote this little Dashboard Widget for Mac users (10.4 and up) to have easy access to searching the web archives. You may download the B-Greek Search Widget here.

Additional info: Carl Conrad has offered this helpful tip on searching the archives:

I simply put the BG transliteration ARKETON into the search box and immediately my browser went to the relevant posts in the current archives...
I would note that, although you can search for scripture citations (e.g. Matthew 6:34), there's such variety of citation modes (Mt 6:34, Mt. 6:34, Mt 6.34, Mt. 6.34, Matt. 6:34, ..., Matthew 6:34 ...) that no particular mode chosen is likely to hit on every item in the archives that deals with the text in question. I have found that a search that uses the standard B-Greek transliteration of a key word or phrase in the passage you're looking for makes a more serviceable search term for getting most of what's useful in the archives.
See another search option in this later post.

February 25, 2008

File sharing in Leopard

This Macworld article on File sharing in Leopard is very helpful in explaining the new possibilities with OS X 10.5 Leopard regarding having a folder on your mac that you'd like colleagues to have access to. Apple has dramatically improved the tools you use to share all kinds of resources from your Mac across local networks and the Internet. And some of the biggest—and handiest—of these improvements are in the ways Leopard lets you share files, folders, and volumes.

February 12, 2008

Apple Data Detectors Are So Useful

When hearing about the new features that Leopard OS X 10.5 were bringing, I was thrilled to see Apple Data Detectors on the list. Back in the OS 8.5 days, these were system-wide and you could customize your own data detection schemes. I wrote a set of ADD's that recognized scripture citations that would then look them up in Accordance. I can only hope that the possibility to add custom data detectors will be forthcoming. To date, you can only use Apple Data Detectors for calendar and contact information and they only work in and iChat. Hopefully, that, too, will change soon.

Let me demonstrate to you how smart and how useful this technology is. I get lots of emails from my university and from church manifestations announcing info for meetings and events. Consider this email from my church regional office regarding a Men's retreat: If I hover of the date information with the pointer, it is highlighted with an outline to show that the technology is detecting an event description. If I click on the little drop down menu, I see an option for adding this event to iCal: After selecting it, the event is added to iCal, and look how smartly it deciphered the data. It even picked up on the fact that the following church name and address was the location for the event and added it as well: How quick was that? Notice the event event includes a link back to the original email for later reference. Wow. Thank you. Amen.

Update: If you won't ever be using ADD as they are and find the auto text highlighting annoying, you can disable the Data Detectors. In Terminal, us the command:
defaults write DisableDataDetectors YES

February 10, 2008

Tauber's Graded Greek Reader Ideas

This just shows one example of why I've appreciated James' mind for some time now. He has put together a presentation on his thoughts regarding a new kind of Graded Reader that have interested me for some time--one created programmatically based upon the students current vocabulary/grammar progress.

I am no longer teaching Greek, but have long thought that whenever I'm at it again, I will start with inductive reading from the start, but still move through paradigms from the beginning as well. The major shift though, will be that the inductive work through a graded reader is primary, and the paradigm work is secondary. I might vary from James' proposition in that I would not encourage waiting until very long before a critical mass of forms are encountered before abstracting that paradigm, though they can be introduced strategically.

It is very hard for me to still not desire to combine this clause approach with a simplified pseudo-scripture corpus at the beginning--allowing for greater control of when students encounter certain forms/vocabulary.

Don't miss James Tauber's further explanation in the comments section. And if you are ever interested in teaching Greek and still haven't watched the video presentation, remedy that now.

January 25, 2008

Unicode Hebrew Coming to Word 2012!

Microsoft has shipped another version of Word for Mac that does not handle right-to-left unicode Hebrew. It really is sad, and makes it clear for the biblical scholarship community that we're finished with Microsoft Word.

Their support sight has a list of known issues with Word 2008.

It includes a note regarding: "Citations within footnotes do not update automatically," where static text gets use. This can't be helpful, though I'd expect this to be fixed in a future update.

But notice that r-t-l unicode is not on the known issues list. I think we can clearly expect that this will not be addressed in any update to 2008. The issues are with the text rendering engine itself and a conflict with how it would interact with objects... something beyond the scope of an update.

So, the final word on Word for Hebrew, it seems to me, is that the best we can hope for is that the next version of Word for Mac will have a new rendering engine.

Let's see... Word 2008 - Word 2004 = 4 years... hence, we very well may see r-t-l unicode in Microsoft Word 2012 for Mac. Isn't that reassuring?

January 22, 2008

Running Mac OS X Leopard in a Windows Office

I just upgraded my work MacBook to Leopard and are handling the few settings needed to get it to work swell in the windows network in my office. For me, I had bookmarks for the two shared servers that I need access to, and those were still available to me. But, many have had problems mounting Windows servers on Leopard, when it worked for them in 10.4. I think is a great site for such issues, and they have a Special Report on Mac OS X Leopard Cross-Platform Issues summarizing the various solutions that have (and have not) worked for folks.

Now, I'm still working on getting the printers to work. It added the LaserJet easy enough, but when the printer receives the item to print, I'm getting a blinky orange light and that's all. *shrug*

January 21, 2008

Talpiot Tomb Clearly Not Related to Jesus of Nazareth

It seems that despite the fact that essentiially all Talpiot Tomb claims from the pseudo-documentary last year have been examined and found null and void, some media's voice is too wide spread to silence the silliness. Mark Goodacre passes along a letter from a group at a Princeton Theological Seminary Symposium on the subject: Talpiot Tomb Controversy.

Through all this discussion, I almost find it shameful for a scholar to parse words as we've seen in this discussion over the last year--words like "It is possible that this tomb..." This is the kind of string that Dr. Tabor still dangles on, and I simply find it non-sustainable in a scholarly argument.

In this light, it is also possible that the piece of wood a guy sold me in Jerusalem came from Jesus' cross. You'll have to prove it's impossible before I relent from saying it's possible.

See also: Jim Davila's quotes of Geza Vermes.

Here S. Jacobovici responds in what seems to to me a somewhat inappropriate "quit attacking me and the widow" tone. Questioning a scholar's competency with a linguistic skill is not an ad hominem attack that ignores the substance of the debate. The complete denigration of this subject is a clear indication that the way this all was resurrected, through this sensationalized film, is a poor way to do scholarship.

January 09, 2008

First Months with Leopard

It's been two months since I upgraded to OS X 10.5 Leopard, and thought a brief report was in order.

A key, opening question for many is whether or not to use an upgrade install or a clean wipe of your drive (after backup!) and then do a new install. With each OS upgrade, I have always advocated a Clean Install for a few reasons.

  1. It forces you to get your file system organized for that important backup.
  2. While the Apple techs worked very hard at devising the save & restore routines, they've never tested it on my machine. I guarantee they didn't have Accordance. They didn't run my combination of Quicksilver and other 3rd party freeware...
  3. A fresh start is exactly that, and can be a good thing for those of us who clutter up their systems.
  4. The time spent reinstalling your applications is the equivalent of spring cleaning in your closet. "Have I really worn that (used that) in the last year?

Install of the OS and my applications went great. Nothing I use regularly was rendered inoperable, at least not after a short upgrade. I intentionally have not yet upgraded my work MacBook for the purpose of seeing how working different went on that machine and my one at home. Some features I have missed when I'm on my older machine.

  1. Spotlight's improvements have made it much more handy.
  2. Quicklook -- I was amazed how much I use this feature. It was indespensible when I decided to go through my files and delete obsolete stuff... never has it been this easy to just browse and see a page of each document to discern whether it could be trashed.
  3. I've found all the complaints about the fancy Dock and the translucent menu bar to be folly. I keep my Dock on auto-hide and it's just fine when go to use it. And if you have a background picture that looks odd with the translucent menu bar, I'd suggest you grow up, pick a solid background, and get back to work. (Sharp tone in jest)
  4. Finally, the enhancement that helped me the most was additions to Applescript.

For bible scholars, I have not uncovered any issues with lost application functionality. I also found no compulsory features that necessitate upgrading now.
All in all, I think it's a great OS. It enables several things that only a common user will benefit from indirectly in the new apps they have available (such as a shared iCal calendar).