November 30, 2010

Thoughts on the SBL-GNT

A newly released eclectic Greek New Testament became available this month. Michael Holmes has provided expert opinion on production of the new SBL Greek New Testament. I have only spent a couple hours with the text, in addition to working through Wieland Willker's review.  I do have some initial reflections on the text that I could share.

The primary niche this text is filling is very clear. It is an eclectic Greek text from the SBL that provides a much more generous free-use policy than the Nestle text. There are situations where the usage rights from the NA27 have been limiting towards a project.

At the SBL general meeting, they were passing out hard copies to registrants. This hard copy is mostly worth what attendants paid for it. The Greek text uses the SBL Greek font, which is simply bad. It makes for awful reading, looking like perpetual italics. I was disappointed when the font was released and seeing it in this text is undesirable.

Also, the initial apparatus provided with the text is essentially useless. It serves as a descriptor for the process that Michael Holmes used to compile the text: take 4 eclectic texts (Tregelles, Westcott-Hort, Robinson-Pierpont) and compare them in order to catch all major variation units. This might be acceptable if it weren't for the fact that it doesn't make the NA text a major text to compare, only mentioning it when a variation differs from the less-scholarly-backward-transation "Greek text behind the NIV". But in the end, when I'm reading my NT, I don't care if a variant came from Westcott-Hort, but rather which manuscript it can be found in. Others have indicated the apparatus must simply be a stopgap solution. I would think so.

And finally, regarding its use. There are certainly places where the NA text needs a second thought. (See, for instance, Willker's exhaustive list.) I am eager to learn more about NA28 which is in the pipeline. But while Michael Holmes is very qualified (see, for instance, his work on the text of the Apostolic Fathers), the reader of scripture will benefit all the more from evaluation by committee. Holmes does in a way dialogue with the opinions of Tregelles and Hort, etc., but in the end they are still his evaluations.

Stephen Carlson has an excellent post on the apparatus, and keenly points out one benefit of the apparatus is that "a full two-thirds of the apparatus is listing differences with the Byzantine textform, enabl[ing] the user of the SBLGNT apparatus to get a very good sense of what the Byzantine text reads."

Further Update:
Michael Holmes graciously pointed me towards a very helpful faq blog post he has on some aspects of the SBL-GNT creation choices. You can find it here

October 14, 2010

What Books Are You Preaching From?

This week during seasonal sermon planning I did some investigation into what texts we've preached in our worship services at Raytown Christian Church in the just over five years we've been there. My partner Dawn and I are co-pastors, and we plan all the worship themes and preaching texts together, though we alternate the preaching duty each week.
After reviewing the texts from the last 266 sermons, I was at first stunned that we had only preached from 34 books. For three years we used the Revised Common Lectionary (which does not cover each book), and then for two+ years we have organized individual series, planned out months in advance. Here is a cloud representation of the books we've preached from, the relative size indicating the amount of times we've preached from it. It has been a helpful exercise, informative future sermon planning.

created at

September 21, 2010

Services and scripts for Accordance 9

Updated: As far as I know, most Accordance scripts and Services are now working again as of Accordance 9.02. Please let me know if this is not the case.

Previous: Changes in the new version of Accodance have broken some of my scripts. This is common for each major release. Notice their widget is also disabled. I'm getting lots of contacts… I am aware things are broken. I can not work on a new compatible version of my script library until after a new Accordance hits the public, so sometimes it has been a matter of weeks. In this instance, you can know I will begin a new version of the Accordance Script Library once Accordance has released a version that works with their widget once again.

September 13, 2010

More Details for Accordance on iPhone

The folks at Accordance have announced the near release of Accordance 9, as well as a longer blurb about the iOS (iPhone, iPad) app that will be released: Accordance on iPhone :: Accordance

Here are the functionality details I glean from it:
• free app
• runs Accordance modules
• search and study functionality
• offline use
• edit notes
• view multiple translations
• Greek and Hebrew search and display
• access reference tools, including dictionaries, keyed texts, lexicons, and photo guide
• can further narrow searches
• identical functionality across iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (Though iPad screen is optimized for that resolution)
• simple search commands
• grammatical searches
• instant parsing
• module syncing with Accordance 9
Given all that, it looks like it will already contain all the functionality I would use 99% of the time. I have carried a bible application in my pocket for over a decade (Palm OS until my iPhone), and all I have ever needed it for was looking up verses to read and the rare, rare, rare simple word search.

September 08, 2010

Accordance Users Conference

I am working on some arrangements, as well as my workshop, and so am now really looking forward to the Accordance Users Conference coming up at the end of this month (Sept. 24-25) in Dallas. It will be a great time to interact with other users. It will be an opportunity it seems to get a first look at some new things they have in the pipeline (iPhone app demo I'm predicting!). It will be an opportunity to sit down with other users and the creators to talk through your own work in Accordance and brainstorm how to make it more effective.

Hope to see you there.

August 20, 2010

Cleaning up Windows in a non-Scriptable Application

Here is an example of using User Interface scripting in Applescript to move windows around in an application that is not otherwise scriptable. Through UI Scripting you can do some limited interface tasks with an app that you otherwise have no access to. For even the worst applications in terms of scriptability, UI Scripting can provide access to things like windows that are open, their size and their position.
In the script, once I have collected an array of all open windows in an app, a series of "if" boolean statements are used to detect which window I'm now working with. Some of them have a title property that can be tested for, while others have a fixed window size that can be checked.

This example uses the Accordance application. Accordance has custom window classifications that do not respond to any "clean up windows" menu command. The app is not scriptable, and due to the custom nature of its user interface, the properties that UI scripting has access to are extremely limited. Windows can get moved around when connecting/disconnecting external displays. This app rearranges the windows how you would like them.

Here is the text of the script, and you can find a link to the script on the Downloads page. (On how to integrate such a script into your own workflow, look elsewhere on this blog or google Applescript to your hearts content.)

-- Clean up Accordance windows  v.1
-- This script will move the first main search window to the top left, and then move all palettes to the edges of the main display
-- Will have to be adjusted to meet your tastes and your external display setup.

tell application "Finder"
set screenBounds to bounds of window of desktop
set screenWidth to item 3 of screenBounds
set screenHeight to item 4 of screenBounds
end tell

tell application "Accordance" to activate
delay 0.5
tell application "System Events"
tell process "Accord"
set winCount to count windows
repeat with n from 1 to winCount
set thisWindow to window n
set winSize to size of thisWindow
set sw to item 1 of winSize
set sh to item 2 of winSize
set winPosition to position of thisWindow
set pw to item 1 of winPosition
set ph to item 2 of winPosition
if description of thisWindow is "dialog" then
-- it is a main search window
-- move to top left
set position of thisWindow to {1, 22}
else if size of thisWindow is {96, 552} then
-- it is a Resource palette
-- move to top right
set position of thisWindow to {(screenWidth - sw), 22}
else if size of thisWindow is {324, 46} then
-- it is a Text palette
-- move to middle bottom
set position of thisWindow to {(screenWidth / 2), (screenHeight - sh)}
else if ((get title of thisWindow) as string) is "Highlight" then
-- it is a Highlight palette
-- move to bottom right
set position of thisWindow to {(screenWidth - sw), (screenHeight - sh)}
else if ((get title of thisWindow) as string) contains "Keyboard Characters" then
-- it is a Character palette
-- move to top middle
set position of thisWindow to {(screenWidth / 2), 22}
else if ((get subrole of thisWindow) as string) is "AXFloatingWindow" then
-- is a palette, so only option left is Instant Details palette
-- move to bottom left
set position of thisWindow to {1, (screenHeight - sh)}
-- Must be another main search window
-- Can check for title, etc. to move them.
end if
end repeat
end tell
end tell

August 03, 2010

Still No Hebrew for Word 2011

The chatter has increased day by day as the MacBU got closer to releasing detail on Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. We hear officially this morning that there is no support for right-to-left Unicode languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic). This is disappointing, and was my suspicion. Here is what they say:

With each version of Office for Mac we have to prioritize updates.  While we will be adding new language support there will not be full right-to-left support for languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. 
Office 2011 relies on the Apple Type Services for Unicode Imaging (ATSUI) as the set of services for rendering Unicode. Due to technology restraints on the text input tools, Office for Mac’s Unicode support doesn’t include languages such as Hebrew and Arabic.
We understand support for RTL languages is needed and it is something we have on our priority list. However, at this time, we don’t have any updates on timing. 

One bit of it is hogwash. It relates to the fact that they indeed did not rebuild Office using Cocoa. 
And as it stands now, there may be a silver lining. There was some previous success in pasting in, though not editing Unicode Hebrew into the last iteration of Word. From some beta testers I have spoken with, it appears that if one is working from a document created in another application that does have right-to-left Unicode that you can have more success. 
One tester responds with this tweet:

Yes I did, when I edit an Arabic file it works perfect, but it doesn't if I create a new doc!

And another stated this way:
About Arabic support in MS office 2011 Beta 5 for Mac: 1-Word:YES if you open an Arabic doc 2-Excel:NO AT ALL 3-Power Point:YES PERFECT
The big disappointment is that Hebrew is not supported. However, we will begin to get more information on just what is possible. Microsoft's troubles will only increase as they continue to neglect this problem.

July 22, 2010

Accordance on the iPhone

Today the folks at OakTree Software, makers of Accordance Bible Software, released a screenshot of the current Accordance iOS (iPhone) app due out this Fall. The impending release will be cause for great excitement from many users, myself included. I have been using OliveTree Bible Software on my mobile device for nearly a decade, and it is rocking good on the iPhone. I have a basic set of Greek tools on it, so it will be interesting to see how Accordance's app stacks up once it hits the app store and we get a chance to see it.

I recall at last year's SBL, following the "bible software smackdown," that folks were impressed just what was possible with a mobile app when Olive Tree's Bible Reader had a go at the challenge. What it could do was impressive because the presumed limitations had expectations quite low. This will be a new context. Accordance is bible software whose sophistication and capabilities is unrivaled. This creates a difficult situation where the inevitably limited functionality of a first release will be easy to find disappointing. For this reason, it is lamentable that the Accordance hat won't land in the ring until relatively late in the game.

That said, despite whatever capabilities Olive Tree's Bible Reader has possessed over the years on my portable device, I rarely use it for anything but reading the bible, and rarely a simple search. This is precisely the basic functionality Accordance has told us to expect. I suspect many, many current Accordance users are thrilled to soon be able to simply read their Accordance modules on their iPhones. Fun times ahead.

June 08, 2010

Office for Mac 2011 Not All Cocoa

On the Office for Mac Team Blog, it was confirmed today that they are behind in writing all the components of Microsoft Office for Mac in Cocoa. For the Office 2011 release, the new Ribbon and Outlook will be written in Cocoa, but the remainder of the apps will not. This does not bode well for Word, and its compatibilities for things such as OSX Services. Still no word on Unicode R-t-L Hebrew either.

June 02, 2010

SBL Annual Meeting Presentation

The preliminary program book is online for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta. I will be presenting some of my dissertation findings in a synoptics section:

Synoptic Gospels
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Theme: Revisiting Classic Interpretations

Robert Derrenbacker, Thorneloe University, Presiding

Peter Wick, Ruhr-University of Bochum
The Unspeakable Mysterion in Mark and the Unveiled Mysteria in Matthew and Luke (30 min)
Jason Robert Combs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jewish 'Fools' and their Gentile Foil: Reading Comedy in Mark 15:34-39 (30 min)
Rebekah Eklund, Duke University
The Identity of the Crowds in the Passion Narrative (30 min)
Elizabeth E. Shively, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
A Tale of Two Households: Mark 3:22-30 and 13:32-37 (30 min)
Joseph Weaks, Brite Divinity School
Reconstructing Mark: Problems With Getting Behind the Text (30 min)

Here's the abstract:
Reconstructing Mark: Problems With Getting Behind the Text
In Synoptic Studies, often the examination of a pericope includes our attempts to get behind the text. We rely upon standard criteria for reconstructing source texts. However, we need to improve our capability to assess the reliability of a text that has been reconstructed from potentially independent witnesses that used it as a source. For example, how well could we reconstruct Mark based upon its use in Matthew and Luke? This paper will survey the findings of a dissertation which established a complete reconstruction of Mark from the evidence in Matthew and Luke. The results come from structural analysis and a comparative stylographic statistical comparison between the fully reconstructed Mark and the canonical text of Mark. Assessing what is lost in the reconstruction, what is introduced, and what is changed in relation to canonical Mark helps us understand the limitations of source analysis within the Synoptic gospels. Among the findings is the recognition that a reconstructed text will not reflect many of the dominant features of its predecessor, and likewise, a reconstructed text will bear features unique to its form that have no relevance to the original text it approximates. These findings point to strong implications for how we assess the primitivity of one tradition against another, the presumptions made regarding an underlying textual form of a given pericoope, as well as the reliability of the text of a reconstructed Q source as it is used in other historical inquiry into early Christianity.

April 23, 2010

iPad Case Quest

We've had the iPad to use since the release date, and I have concluded that the iPad begs for a case. The question is whether one wants a sleeve to keep it in for transporting, or a flip case that it stays in all the time. I find holding the iPad itself a bit of a chore. I'm too 'careful' with it. And, it really works best if it's propped up. Holding it and looking down at it for too long hurts my neck. Hence, we want a flip case for it.
The iPad fits well on my elliptical for viewing during a workout. The typing in landscape is as good as could be hoped for, really. It is quite fitting for sitting on the couch and doing email and web reading. It makes a great reader. My wife loves taking it places to read with it.
I have been watching as many iPad case releases as I can. MacWorld has done three round-ups now. I have concluded that Apple's own iPad case is tops for our needs. A chief criteria is a flip case that has a sturdy low angle propping up option which is ideal for typing, and, it must be able to work well on your lap. Every other case I've seen (including inCase's Convertible Book Jacket) either is too wobbly for good typing or props the iPad up with a little stand which wouldn't work across your lap, unlike the full bottom laying flat as in Apple's case. I've been holding out a few weeks, using a simple foam slip-case, to see what options arise before purchasing, but it's looking more like Apple's will be the one.

In the interim, I gave the classic book-conversion case a try tonight. I found just the right size book in the bottom of a bookshelf in the basement. I am very impressed with the results. I was careful with the measurements and the cutting, so the fit is quite snug. I would totally use this case for transporting the iPad, even reading from it. Here are some quick pics:


This will be fun to use for a bit until we make a purchase.

Update: The case is still getting a lot of use, and had held up amazingly well and proven itself to be surprisingly functional. Someone asked for more details on the process, so here are the basic steps I used:

1. Lay the iPad face down on card stock and trace the face of it.
2. Cut it out.
3. Find the right size book, height, length, and thickness. I got lucky and had a perfect one… you'll want at least a half inch of paper to border the iPad. (A hard-cover book that opens, lays flat, where the front cover can flip open but doesn't pull the pages and bottom cover with it, so that it can still lay flat with the front cover open is ideal.) This is the book I used:
4. Open the cover and on the very first sheet, lay the template and and trace with pencil.
5. Using an exacto knife (though I actually used a less-desirable carpenter's knife), cut the outline, cutting 2 to 6 pages deep.
6. You know longer use the template, but rather, use the cut-out pages as the guide to scribe further down into the paper. You eventually be "opening" some pages, pulling them back, always leaving a couple "cut-out" pages as the guide for further scribing.
7. Repeat ad nauseum. As you get deeper, to a check with the template and/or the actual iPad to make sure your hole is still true. Keep it snug, though. You can always trim away bulging sections and corners to enlarged the hole. Make tweaks to adjust. Took me an hour or so total.
8. As you get close to the back cover, place hard surface under the pages so you don't cut into the back cover.
9. With all the pages cut, pull away the loose bits. Try fitting the iPad. Carve out bulging places. Ideal is a fit where the iPad slides in with just a teeny bit of effort. Even better is if one side is a little narrower at the top than down into the paper, so you have to angle it in and then it hold a little in place. Mine turned out this way on its own.
10. Hold all the pages open, against the front cover using a clothes pin or something, then free the last sheet, and with a glue stick, glue it down to the back cover.
*Important is to make sure the bottom cover is lying flat and the the binding is lying flat at the 90% angle so that the paper is glued as far onto the back cover as it cant.
11. Repeat with the next sheet, next, and next, again, ad nauseum. Make sure the cut-out lines up with what's below it each time.
12. One you've finished. After confirming the fit, and letting it dry, the next day, some pages will pull apart. Reglue those with regular elmer's glue and once those seem go, go ahead and spread glue on the 3 edges of the stack of paper to give it added hardness and stability. You may have to reglue a couple pages for the next few days of use.

April 22, 2010

Brite's Jewish Studies appointment

Glad that Brite Divinity School's new Jewish Studies chair appointment is getting wider press, thanks in part to Jim at It is a rather unique position for a seminary of Brite's posturing. It offers great potential for seminarians, and even more so for a Qumran scholar, over against a Midrash scholars, as was the previous position-holder. There remains a NT position open at Brite. Interested to see what transpires there.

April 01, 2010

Multi-direction Language Support in Upcoming Word 2011

Screenshots of the anticipated Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 began to surface on the web in the last couple days. It's hard to know whether "leaked" screenshots like this are planned out or not, but conversation on the Twitterverse confirms their authenticity. One such conversation on Twitter references this screenshot where Word's new language direction capabilities are on display.

This is a new revelation. Not only does it seem that the version due out in December will be able to support Right to Left Unicode, it looks like the new text engine handles even more advanced vertical language. And isn't that boustrophedon (like an ox plows) heiroglyphs at the end? I remember from studying at the museum in Cairo that you can tell the direction of the line by the way the bird is facing. This is surprising since I would think it only useful for artistic and minute scholarly reasons.
The official Mac Office blog has not yet touched on language capabilities in the teaser reports, but this updated text engine is a huge step forward, so it's hard to imagine why these plans haven't emerged prior to April.

March 25, 2010

Central States Regional SBL Report

The Central States Regional SBL meeting was enjoyable. It was my first time at this particular regional event which has been in St. Louis each year since I've been in Missouri.

I understand it has been in Kansas City in the past (and I'd be happy to see it repeat).

This event is smaller than the other regional meetings I have experience with in the Southwest, but there were still sufficient slots for the just-over 100 attendees to present and hear papers. The book exhibit is about as small as you could imagine. About 5 presses must have sent in a box of sample books, though Abingdon was present with an actual rep and larger display.

The other five presses each had a collection of the size similar to this one from Chalice Press.
It appears that Central States basically has three sections—HB, NT, and ASOR—though they were also trying to maintain a mini-section on Pedagogy. The presentations I attended were the expected wide range of rich diversity, including moments of understandable inexperience, occasions of insightful brilliance, along with the occasional "Huh?". These regional meetings are indeed a great place for folks to cut their teeth on an academic venue, and the "old guard" who seem to run the meetings do have a good priority for encouraging student participation, even undergraduate. Some of the actual presentations were refreshing and/or notable.
David May of Central Baptist Theological Seminary surveyed "Restoration Coins" from the Roman empire that offer a good reminder to move beyond textual evidence (such as numismatics) when seeking social context for a culturally bound book like Revelation. Mark Nanos, whom I met for the first time and who lives about 15 minutes away from me as it turns out, made a strong argument that the interpretation of πώρωσις in Romans 11:25 is inappropriately influenced by the πώρωσις τῆς καρδίας found in later texts in Mark and Ephesians. The plenary address from Dr. Jodi Magness, the Early Judaism professor at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill surveyed the issues surrounding the James Ossuary and the Talpiyot tomb. She is very articulate and presented the state of the affair well. One business session facilitated discussions about an issue facing all SBL regional clusters. Due to IRS regulations, the regions are going to have to become separate legal entities. Without a doubt, if these new structures do not find a way to have some sort of "Sponsored by the Society of Biblical Literature" branding somewhere, they will decline in interest.
The most enjoyable aspect of the time was the occasion to get [better] acquainted with scholars in Missouri and nearby. In addition to David May and Mark Nanos, I further enjoyed getting to know Daryl Jefferies of Central Methodist University and Mark Givens of Missouri State University. In some instances, it was an exercise in learning about regional institutions that I had been ignorant of their existence previously.  I will look forward to next year.

March 21, 2010

Regional SBL Central States

I just arrived at the Central States regional meeting in St. Louis. I have attended regional SBL's, but this is my first time at this regional meeting. (My prior experience is in the Southwest.) I don't know many of my local colleagues, so welcome this opportunity to get to know folks, especially from Kansas City. (I have seen the bible folk from William Jewell with whom I've shared a flight from national SBL, and I think I see David May of CBTS having lunch.)

I've not any specific reason for being here other than making such connections in general. I am looking forward to Jodi Magness' plenary address on the Talpiyot tomb. I think I shall be attending all the NT sections.

March 09, 2010

What MacBook Should I Buy (If I Switch From a PC?)

I frequently get asked for advice on computer purchase decisions. The first and most important answer is that everyone's needs and interests are different so there's no one size fits all. However, I've not been shy about sharing what my thoughts have been, for my own decisions. I've purchased 5 MacBooks and 12 Macs over the last 15 years (including ones I've purchased for a use at the church I worked at). Right now, I feel pretty clear in my preferences and reasons regarding my MacBook needs especially. A friend recently asked me for my opinions with a series of what I deemed to be good and thoughtful questions. So, I thought I would post my answers publicly as well.

"What MacBook model do you suggest?"
I think the 13" base MacBook Pro is the best portable computer value ever, absolutely ever. I do like large screens (my iMac at home is a large screen), but I think the size disadvantage of the 15" or larger portable is simply not worth it. I wrote my dissertation mainly on my 13" MacBook, and its has multiple wide columned tables. Basically, it still accommodated my needs; with two-finger scrolling, screen accessibility is just so natural. I'm certain there are some niche uses where they need a larger screen, but for someone who takes the computer from home to the office every day, there's no question about it. The unibody design is absolutely fantastic, a huge step over the white plastic case MacBook still selling. The way I encourage anyone to figure out which MacBook meets their needs is to consider the different base configuration using this table and then ask themselves, what am I gaining for the price increase and do I need/want that? As far as configuration, the first add-on I spend for would be faster processor speed. Hard-drive can be upgraded later and unless you're doing video editing or loading tons of [legally?] downloaded movies and music, you're not going to need more. RAM can be added later, and more cheaply via third party.
Computers get a speed bump in their specs every year or two. It is always a good idea to not buy if you can wait a month if a new release is pending in the next month or so, but short of that, I'd say buy when you want/need/can afford it. You can look this site to gauge if a new update is coming soon, or ask your Mac friends about it.

"Is getting the Air with its portability worth the high cost?"
The MacBook Air is super fun to handle. Consider the gains and losses though in going with it. If you move from the base 13" MacBook Pro to the Air, what do you gain? It is a little thinner and 1 pound less. What do you lose? $300, a much slower processor, less memory upgradeability, 40 Gigs of hard drive, battery life, one of the two USB ports, the only FireWire port, and Ethernet port, an SD card slot, and a built-in CD/DVD drive. That is a LOT of computer to lose for the sake of a little thinner and a pound less. Any one of those losses could be a deal breaker for you. None of them would be for me. I don't use my FireWire often, I could get a USB hub for my desk, I could carry a little SD card reader in my bag, I could stop plugging my MacBook into the net and just use the wireless, and I never use my CD/DVD drive when I'm not at my desk. But, it's just too much computer to give up in my estimation. If you've handled the 13" alum unibody of the MacBook Pro, it still feels slim and lean and mean and quite durable and fun. But, if you don't need/use any of those things, $300 is definitely worth it for the smaller profile machine.

"How fast does the hardware go obsolete?"
Not very. Apple just completed a transition from the system software moving completely to the new Intel machines, so, that change won't come again anytime soon. The Unibodies represent the greatest physical durability to date, so the wear and tear on the case is vastly improved. I think you're foolish if you plan on using a new MacBook less than three years; I think you're naive if you think you'll want to use a new computer for 7 years.

"How is compatibility these days in general?"
It is fantastic. Essentially, for individual files and file types (word documents, graphics, web protocols, etc.), compatibility is essentially complete. For instance, your word documents between PC and Mac are just as compatible as they are between two versions of Word on the same platform. You will still find some computer software categories where options are more limited on a Mac (though 99% of those are games). And, there are some web sites that use poor standards that choke on my Mac, though that has become VERY rare, and most often moving from the default Safari web browser to Firefox fixes the problem.

"Are there compatibility issues with AV support for doing presentations?"
Nope. You will need to carry in your bag the Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter or a Mini DisplayPort to VGA or to Composite/S-Video (or all three).

"Are there software/peripherals you consider must-haves?"
I really like a MacBook sleeve that I then carry in a larger backpack of my choosing when needed. I love this Brenthaven Trek sleeve, since it is suitable as a carrying case or can be used inside a large backpack. One of the two I've bought for two different MacBooks is 4 years old, gets hauled everyday and is still in great shape.
Accordance Bible software is one of the best Mac apps I know of. It runs so natively and intuitively it is a joy to use and can offer just the resources and tools a scholar or pastor would want to have at their fingertips.
If you will be taking the computer between home and your office everyday, pony up and buy a second power cord and power brick to keep you from having to fuss with it everyday. You can then just unplug, slip it in the case and go.
Always carry an SD card and a USB flash drive in your bag.

"How is Word on the Mac?"
If you are familiar with Microsoft Word on the PC, you're still going to be familiar with it on the Mac. Most things are very similar. The approach to document creation is pretty much identical. Microsoft Word was originally written for the Mac platform. There was Mac Word before there was ever PC Word, and Microsoft Word is still the most feature complete word processor on the Mac. It has some junk I wish it didn't that I'll never use. (I'm looking at you, equations editor). The only caveat, and it could be big for you, is that the Mac version does not allow editing of right-to-left unicode languages, including Hebrew. The next version of Word set to release at the end of this year may change that. I would highly recommend that before buying Microsoft Office, you first install OpenOffice and live with it for a bit and see if this open source free software doesn't fit the bill. I would also almost recommend holding out for the next version of Word. If I was confident it would ship this year, I would for sure recommend that. There are other great and inexpensive word processor alternatives that are wonderful on the Mac, including Pages and Mellel.

"What are the concerns for viruses/malware on Macs?"
None. I've never had "virus protection" software on my Mac and I've never seen a Mac that had it. Ok, slight exaggeration there, but basically, short of you downloading illegal games and applications from torrent sites online, it's a non-issue still this year.

"Thoughts about music/video/games?"
There are plenty of games to run on the Mac, if that is an interest. There are not as many as on PC. The couple PC games I've wanted to play, I simply rebooted my Mac into Windows XP and ran it natively. Music and video editing is pure joy on the Mac. The iMovie video editing software that it comes with is phenomenal. And as for music, there's some nice integration between my Mac and my iPod and my iPhone. :)

"Any other advice you have for a longtime PC user?"
If you do buy a Mac, I'd suggest keeping active on one blog or web site or newsfeed so you can learn a little as you go. A great option would be

March 05, 2010

Accordance Users Conference

The newly announced Accordance Users Conference looks like a great idea that can offer a lot of different things for different groups of people. And, it looks like a lot of fun. If the date can work out I'm going to try and make it down. If so, I should certainly try to offer a workshop (if it would get accepted). I'm thinking of something like this. Tell me what you think or let me know if you have a better suggestion:

Automating Accordance Integration: A Glimpse at the Possibilities

Technologies already on your Mac, as well as features of your word processors and other applications can allow you to put the power of Accordance and the convenience of repetitive tasks at your finger tips. Get quick access to scripture as you write. Enable scholarly inquiry never before possible. Some examples will demonstrate amazing practicality and some will be for the sure fun of it. We'll catch a glimpse of what's possible in automating your favorite application.

March 04, 2010

The Making Of a Slogan

Since the inception of The Macintosh Biblioblog, it has kept a Hellenized version of the slogan that Apple used at the time, "Think different." I have enjoyed the email discussions that others have initiated with me over the years about how best to render the phrase in Greek. Some have raised various possibilities, argued for grammatical changes, or defended what was there at the time. Setting aside lexical changes, the chief candidates have included:

  • φρονεῖς ἕτερος
  • φρονεῖς ἑτέρως
  • φρόνει ἕτερος
  • φρόνει ἑτέρως

I have used more than one at different times. Among the ponderances and outright debates were whether the command should be an imperative form or rather simply indicative of the reader, as well as whether the "different" should be adverbial or somewhat substantive. Many have taken some of the above versions to more explicitly read something like: φρόνει: "ἕτερος". Most contacts regarding the issue have enjoyed the intentionality I had put into it, as well. Frankly, there are different ways to interpret "Think different."

It really is amusing the regular emails raising questions and making suggestions. Somewhere in the comments is a discussion between a few B-Greek folks including the venerable Carl Conrad.
I digress.
In the midst of all those discussions, no one has succeeded in pointing out what has recently occurred to me, namely, that the slogan is out of date! And so it is now changed:
εἰμι μακ

(Let the new debates begin.)

February 24, 2010

Create a Custom Paste Command in Word 2008

In Microsoft Word 2008, you can create custom Applescripts and the place them into a special folder giving them unique keyboard combo assignments. In this way, you can, create custom functions or combinations of functions that initiate with just one keystroke. For instance, let's say you wanted a simple paste command in Word, but one that first took care of some formatting changes for you. By way of example, let's say that you often copy scripture text from Accordance but before you paste it into your Word document, you want to remove the formatting and also remove the pilcrow symbols (¶) and the space following them from the text. A simple script can accomplish both tasks automatically for you.

1. Open Applescript Editor inside your Applications/Utilities folder (In OS X 10.5 this app is called Script Editor and found at Applications/Applescript)

2. Paste the following 7 lines into a new document window:

set theText to the clipboard
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to "¶ "
set theText to text items of theText
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ""
set theText to theText as string
set the clipboard to theText
tell application "Microsoft Word" to paste special (text object of selection) data type paste text
(The last line of that script is kind of long, so make sure you do have it all on one line.)

3. Save the AppleScript as a script in ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Word Script Menu Items
(which is Word's user info inside the Documents folder of your Home folder). 

4. Give the script a descriptive name such as "Paste Scripture" but also add "\cV" (without the quotation marks) to the end of the name. This sets the keyboard combination to Control-v.  (for more info on adding keyboard shortcuts, have a look here.)

5. From now on, in Word, you can hit Control-v to run the script which will remove the Pilcrows ¶ and paste unformatted text into your document.

February 21, 2010

Pages Citation Paster Gets Served

Folks seem to continue benefitting from the Accordance to Pages Citation Paster which provides a function whereby the Citation Footnote in Accordance tools can still be used in Pages (which has a bug that ignores rich-text footnotes). You can get a fuller description of the utility here.

I have updated the download package to include a version that works as a Service in Snow Leopard. It allows you to assign a global keyboard shortcut. You can go to the Downloads section to grab it.

February 11, 2010

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

The Macworld event going on right now always brings with it announcements on upcoming software. Microsoft today gave a review of the upcoming Office for Mac 2011, due to be release in time for the 2010 holiday season (yeah right). Questions of interest are always the status of right-to-left unicode Hebrew. I do not think it's hopeful on that front, but I'll keep looking. They are reintegrating VBA support. The removal of VBA support is the reason I wrote my dissertation in Word for Mac 2004 instead of 2008. Here are more details on what was revealed.

February 10, 2010

Creating a Service to Select a Menu Item in your Application

In Snow Leopard, using Snow Leopard and Applescript/Automator, you can create a global keyboard shortcut to do just about anything you can imagine. As an example, this is how you would create a Service to select a specific menu item inside of an application such as Accordance. This will allow you to assign a global keyboard command to it via the Keyboard panel of the System Preferences:

1. Open up Automator

2. Choose a template: Service

3. At the top of the right panel, change the popup menu from "Service receives selected text" to "Service receives no input"

4. Leave "Replaces selected text" unchecked.

5. In the "Actions" panes to the left, find "Run Applescript" and drag it over to your workflow.

6. Replace the line that says (* Your script goes here *) with the following 6 lines:

tell application "Accordance" to activate

tell application "System Events"

tell process "Accord"

click menu item 1 of menu 1 of menu item "Favorites" of menu 1 of menu bar item "Amplify" of menu bar 1

end tell

end tell

7. Save it via menu File/Save and name it something like "Accordance Amplify Favorite"

8. Quit Automator

9. Go to Keyboard pane of the System Preferences and assign it a global keyboard combo.

10. Test

This Service will bring Accordance to the front, and then select the first item under the Favorites submenu under the Amplify menu.

Note: The part in the Applescript line that reads click menu item 1 is telling it to select the first Favorited item in the list. You can reorder the Favorites in the Library Window in Accordance. (Look for the submenu at the bottom of the module list.) You can also specify a Favorite by name... just change click menu item 1 to something like: click menu item "MyFavoriteWorkspace" replacing the 1 with the name of the workspace inside of quotes.

February 06, 2010

Accordance Services Collection Released

Do you find Accordance Bible Software useful? Would you like to have quicker access to your Accordance material from within other applications? The Accordance Services Collection gives you that capability. Using the new Services functions in Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.6, you can look up scripture or text in Accordance or even quickly add scripture texts into a document you're working on. For an overview of what the Accordance Services Collection can do for you, have a look at the video tutorial below.

The Accordance Services Collections can be found on the Downloads page. The install includes a ReadMe file that explains the simple drag & drop installation process.

February 04, 2010

No USB syncing for iPhones... but my PDFs!

The state of personal devices is in flux once more with Apple's announcement of the coming iPad. As a appliance device, it does not interest me specifically, but its presence has affected the treatment of the iPhone OS already. Apple is now enforcing that apps not use the private API's which allowed them USB syncing. I have used Stanza as my PDF reader of choice brilliantly for quite some time. The new crackdown is discussed well in this blog post:
Bye Bye USB Syncing: Is the iPad Bad for iPhone OS?
Apple's upcoming iBooks will mean less leniency for competitive products. I do hope that the rumored swap folder API for the iPad will also make its way onto the iPhone. It will be interesting to see the software differentiation in the future between the two devices. The iPad is the topic of the day, but even well after launch, there will always be scads more iPhones out in the wild than iPads.
I hope the state of pushing your own PDFs to the iPhone (and iPad) aren't unsettled long.

January 27, 2010

It's Dr. MacBiblioblogger Now

Last week I successfully defended my dissertation. Postings on the Macintosh Biblioblog will become more regular once more.