November 06, 2015

Accordance Web Browser Bookmarklets

Tired of all those scripture links on web pages opening up in biblegateway? Looking for a quick way to look up some text in your browser not in wikipedia, but in your Accordance tool?

Since Accordance has added the new URL Links (accord://) protocol, it has enabled new ways of interacting with Accordance, even while working in other applications. The URL Links are designed primarily for you to add links to Accordance modules in your own webpages and documents, handy indeed, especially now that you can even URL Link to a specific point in an Accordance module (as of 11.1). For more information on URL Links, visit the very informative help page on the topic.

However, there's an additional way of making use of URL Links: incorporating them into bookmarklets. Bookmarklets are a way to code advanced functionality into the bookmarks/favorites saved in your web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.).
This trick allows you to select text in a web page or pdf that's open in your web browser, and then select the Accordance Bookmarklet that searches based on that text. This essentially duplicates the functionality available in the Accordance Services, but they're much quicker when in your browser:

  • reading a selected verse reference in either the default text or a specified text
  • searching for a selected word or phrase in either the default text or a specified text
  • searching for a selected word in any of your Accordance tools within a stated search field
  • looking up the study topic function of either a verse list or an article from the default study tool
In the table below are a series of Accordance Bookmarklets to get you started. You can drag any of these links into the "Favorites Bar" (as it's called in Safari) or "Bookmarks Bar" (as it's called in Chrome). Then, you simply select the text in a web document and then click the Bookmarklet you wish. In Safari, you can also use the keyboard shortcut Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + 1, 2, 3, etc. to activate the corresponding bookmarklet in the bar.

Open a verse selection to read in Accordance
ReadVerses = Open the verse selection in your default text module.
Open the verse selection in a specifically named text module:
Search for a selected word or phrase in an Accordance text
SearchWords = Search for the selection in the default text module.
Search for the selection in a specifically named text module:
SearchNRSVS SearchNIV SearchESVS
Search a specific search field of a specified tool module:
SearchAnchorEntry = Search for the selected text in the Entry field of the Anchor Bible Dictionary.
SearchAnchorEnglish = Search for the selected text in the English Content field of the Anchor Bible Dictionary.
SearchNIB-NTReference = Search for the selected text in Reference field of the New Interpreter's Bible NT.
Search the Study Topic function in Accordance
StudyTopicVerses = Display a list of verses related to the selected topic.
StudyTopicArticle = Show an article on the selected topic.

You can test out your Bookmarklets.
Let's say you want to research, say:  dung
Just highlight the word and click the appropriate bookmarklet.
Same goes for looking up a text reference, such as:  John 11:35   or    Micah 6:8

You can customize a bookmarklet by right-clicking (control-clicking) on the bookmark in the bar and select "edit address". At the end of the long javascript address, you'll see where you can alter the Accordance URL Link.

Here is a video showing how to install, use and edit the bookmarklets:

May 30, 2015

One Month with the Apple Watch

I’ve now been wearing my Apple Watch every day for a month now. When I purchased it online, about 6 hours after it went on sale, it gave a shipping date of June. To my surprise and joy, it still shipped and arrived on day one, April 24.

Since I get asked about it a lot, I decided to write some things down. This is not so much a review, but rather sample and summary impressions. I wanted some perspective, so I waited a month. Here are some thoughts after a month with it.

From the start, let me cut to the chase with a summary evaluation:
I like the Apple Watch. I’m glad I bought it. I’d buy it again. It’s comfortable. It’s very handy in numerous ways. I’m a happy buyer.

When asked about the Apple Watch, I often find myself correcting the inquisitor, “It’s not like having a small smartphone on your wrist; it really fills a different niche.”
Of course, there is overlap in some functionality, but it is not a replacement for a phone altogether. This is evidenced to me by reading posts from folks saying, “It’d be great to get my bible app on the watch.” or “I can’t wait till I can get ________ app on the watch.” Actually, mostly, no. Once you’ve USED the watch for awhile, you get a sense of what it is fantastic for, and a sense of what it stinks for.
The screen is SMALL. The text is SMALL. To illustrate, just browse the app store options for calculators on the watch. (It does NOT come with one from Apple.) You’ll see the great lengths and clever approaches they go to to compensate for the fact that you can’t even straight up put a reasonable-sized basic calculator on the thing. I like the screen, the touch and the force touch and I think the scroll wheel is brilliant. But the Apple Watch is for some things, but not everything. Period.

So what have I found it good for?

It is so fantastic to quick glance & quick reply to text. At a light, in a meeting, walking down the hall. The smart-reply options are amazing at times. My wife texted me, “Are you coming home or staying at the office?” And the quick one-touch reply buttons included, “Home” and “Office”. Superb.

OMG, OMG, OMG, it is so cool to answer calls on the wrist. You completely feel like you’re in a movie. It is so much better than walking around with a BT device in your ear in case you get a call. Transferring the call to your iPhone is super seamless, just open your phone and go to the phone app.
Downside:  This is not a big deal, but it really feels like overkill that I can get a call while working at my MacBook, and three things ring at once… the watch, the phone and the computer.

I love the basic Activity functions. For me, the stand reminders are the most useful. When it tells me to stand, I do, and I’m always better for it. I get so stiff after working so long in front of the screen.
Downside: When I take the watch off, it thinks I’m not doing anything. And, I don’t think there’s any way to add “mowed the lawn” or whatever to the Activity App on your phone. So, unless I wear it ALL the time, it will be an incomplete record.

I long ago took control of notifications on my iPhone, intentionally only getting push notifications for select activity. My email is not even on push. I don’t get told about unimportant things like Facebook activity. So, the switch to the watch was pleasant. You can have the apps you choose mimic the phone settings, or specify for the watch.
So, no, I’m not suddenly getting annoyed and interrupted a lot by the watch. Some may have to actually pay attention and go to the Notifications option and choose what to include.
Downside: It’s one more device you have to remember to mute when in a worship service or meeting to what have you. I wish there was a setting to have the watch sync with the mute status of the phone.

Face info
The different watch faces and the customizations you can add are wonderful. Love love love having a quick glance of your next upcoming calendar event. As expected, some of the watch faces seem like just crazy eye candy. But, they all show the time, too, which is nice. And, you can choose calendar, alarms, etc of info to put on there as well. I’m happy with the options.
This is the new alternative to texting that works only between Apple Watch owners. You can scribble and send taps. I only have one good friend with an Apple Watch, so he’s been my guinea pig for testing the touch features. It is so very personal, especially when they tap their watch face and it taps your wrist. It really feels like they’re just gently tapping your wrist. Amazing. I immediately wanted my spouse to have a watch, so I could just tap her wrist during the day, Winnie the Pooh style (“I was just being sure of you”).

So cool, the map turn by turn directions. It uses different tap patterns to notify left turn or right turn coming up. So clever.

I was already in the habit during POS situations to always look for opportunities to use my iPhone to pay. What's great is that this includes my local grocery store, so I do this quite often. However, it is hardly more convenient to pull out my annoyingly large 6Plus than it is to pull out my wallet and credit card. This has all changed with Apple Watch. It is way more convenient, and easy, and handy, and quick. It has never even failed. Like Siri, ApplePay worked great on the phone, but it seems 'made' for the watch. I use it several times a week.

Siri is so good now, and it was made for the Apple Watch. The watch has no keyboard. You can not type anything into it. Dictating is the way to go. It has been so accurate. Initiating directions. Setting a reminder. Setting a timer. Etc.
Downside: Being limited to dictation stinks if you’re in a noisy environment, or one with the radio or a live person talking, to ruin your command to Siri.

I’ve been a big user of Reminders and Timers on my iPhone for a long time. Siri made that golden. Siri on your Apple Watch has made it platinum. It is so much more easy now with the watch. I’ve been timing routes as well, to note the best ones.

Finally, just a few hardware notes.

On the Sports strap:
I can only repeat what official reviews are saying. It is an amazing innovation. The Sports strap is very comfortable. I purchased a silver aluminum and wanted a black band, so ordered that separate. In another month or so, I plan to get a leather strap from a 3rd party.

On the Battery:
Simple answer: an absolute non-issue. I am almost always above 50% still at bedtime. And, I soon moved to the routine of not even charging it over night… I just “plug it in” when I wake up in the morning, and its fully charged an hour or so later when I leave the house. I’m certain you could download third party apps and use the watch for things that are unnatural to it like playing a game or whatever and you’d be out of juice in a matter of hours. Today, I never actually charged it this morning, and now at early-evening it’s at 23% (as seen in screenshot above). That’s thirty-three hours since charging up yesterday morning.
I may be on the low end of regular use. I don't jog for an hour a day. And, I'm sure in 6 months, the battery will lose some staying power. But for me, power is a not issue.

On durability:
I went with the cheapest model ($400 for a larger size Sport), because it’s already such a high price. And, I can imagine that after a couple updates, I’m going to want to sell this and replace it with the new and improved. The downside is that Aluminum and Glass are not as sturdy as stainless steel and quartz. And it shows, after just one month.
On my second day of having the watch, it dropped less than a foot onto a brick bench, and the edge of the aluminum scuffed, ever-so-slightly.
And, a few days ago, I noticed a scratch in the middle of the glass face. You can only see it with bright light reflecting just at a certain angle, and only when the watch is off. But, you can feel the scratch with your finger nail. Don’t know how it happened.
Neither dings affect the use of the watch at all. You can not see the scratch when the screen is on. I can only imagine what this thing will look like after a couple years.
Doing it over again, I would think hard about whether the stainless option was worth the price, but probably would not. Unfortunately, I can’t say more about that for a couple years.

April 01, 2015

Finding and Killing Jesus Documentary

I just learned about yet another Christian documentary this Easter season. MTV has announced a 2 1/2 part series debuting three days after Easter. Following the success of the offerings from CNN (“Finding Jesus”), National Geographic (“Killing Jesus”) and The History Channel (“Siege of Masada”), MTV’s documentary will air:
“Finding and Killing Jesus: Not far from Masada”.

Jane Elbib of says,
In the days leading up to Easter, networks seem to be doing what they do best—see one thing work for the competition and rush their own copycat version to market. Last year’s “The Bible” from the History channel did well, and so here we are.
Personally, I’m a bit interested just because of their unique approach. The production notes say that the show will do what MTV does best, pushing the envelope, by covering topics such as:
-how much lumber could one lord lug if one lord could lug lumber,
-how could Jesus' family tomb end up under a Roman ramp, as well as
-what kind of candy a guy like Jesus would’ve preferred.
Academic consultants for the project include:
I first heard of the show when a friend retweeted Susanne Daniels, MTV’s head of programming, who tweeted: “It was either this or running music videos.”