Windows iMac

Contributed by guest blogger Ken Ristau

Tyler Williams at Codex Blogspot points out an article on MacWorld’s successful project to dual boot on the new Intel Mac. Obviously, this is a very significant development for Bible Software. Will PC Bible Software companies decide not to pursue Mac versions if Windows runs on a Mac? Will more PC users switch to the Mac knowing they can still run their favourite Windows programs on the same computer? There is clearly a ways to go before the dual boot will be common place but it does add a new dynamic into the mix.

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More Logos-related News

Logos Bible Software has been named a Best Christian Place to Work by a nationwide survey published in Christianity Today. You can find the details here.

On the other hand, The Mercury News (San Jose, CA) includes a short interview with Scott Lindsey, ministry relations director for Logos, as part of their coverage of Techvangelism ’06, a cool event coming up this weekend in Silicon Valley, CA.

And this is all happening when Logos 3.0 has just turned into RC1 (Release Candidate 1)…

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Logos 3.0 On The Road

Logos just announced that they are doing a road trip across the United States “to focus attention on technology for Bible study and to introduce Logos Bible Software 3.”

Daniel Foster emails the details:

We’ll be putting 13,000 miles on the Bible Road Trip Bus, a 37-foot RV that’s been “wrapped” to become a moving billboard. We’ll visit 60 cities in 31 different states over a four-month period; each weekday evening there will be an event at 7pm at a host church or school in that metropolitan area.

This will be a great chance for people interested in computer-aided Bible study to come see what it’s all about.

You can get all the details here.

Well, what can I say? I’m really wowed!

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Learning Curve vs. Complexity

David Lang has an interesting piece where he tries to draw a clear distinction between what some people term “a steep learning curve” and the fact that specialized Bible programs require quite a bit of learning if one wants to make the most out of them. He suggests that the “steep learning curve” should be applied only when performing even the most basic features of a program becomes hard, while the obvious complexity involved in becoming a power user is just an indication that there is still a lot to be learned, but should not be taken, in and by itself, as a disadvantage or an insurmountable difficulty.

Reading his post I was reminded of my own experience with what I sometimes call “the triple crown” (Accordance, BibleWorks and Logos). I have been a user of these three excellent programs for quite a while. I’ve seen them grow and become standards in different areas, but the one thing they all share in common is that they have become very complex packages. Any given user who is familiar with one of these will most likely think that the other two have a “steep learning curve” if/when they are exposed to them. As a matter of fact, they do things differently, and we may think one is more intuitive than the others. True. However, the problem seems to be, to a very large degree, that these are very complex programs, with hundreds of different features, options and set ups. No wonder there will be some sort of learning curve to face at the beginning. This is inevitable. What really matters, as David rightly points out, is that simple, basic things should be easy to figure out.

This year has seen the release of BibleWorks 7, while Accordance 7 and Libronix Digital Library System 3.0 will also hit the streets in the coming months. You will find full reviews here at Bible Software Review in due course, but I can assure you that these programs have grown to be so large, that a single review cannot do justice to the tremendous amount of features found in each one of them. I’ll probably try to write a series covering different aspects/areas/uses, so that you can begin to appreciate how powerful and complex these packages really are. So we’ll have to revisit the whole issue of “learning curves,” but the fact remains that the balance between complexity and power on the one hand, and ease of use and intuitiveness on the other, is very very hard to achieve. We can (and should!) expect fairly common and simple tasks to be easily done, but be ready to read some manuals or watch some video tutorials if you really want to master these “beasts.” There are no shortcuts to becoming an expert user. It’ll take some time and effort. That’s for sure.

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Upcoming Changes

My post on the future of BSR elicited quite a few favorable comments, which I really appreciate very much. Your feedback and support seems to back up most of what I am hoping to accomplish in the months to come.

I have a lot of reviews on my plate (and I mean a lot). Some really terrific programs will be reviewed here during 2006. These are indeed exciting days for Bible software! There is such a plethora of applications that programmers are constantly improving upon earlier versions and features. This does not only apply to commercial packages, but to shareware and freeware programs too. I can only agree wholeheartedly with H. Van Dyke Parunak when he asserts, “Bible software has come a long, long way (…) In comparison with the state of the field 25 years ago, there are no bad decisions today. We would have given our eye teeth for any of the offerings now available.” (“Windows Software for Bible Study,” JETS 46/3 – Sept. 2003, p. 465). We simply cannot afford to approach the Scriptures without some degree of familiarity with the electronic tools available today. To quote Parunak again, “Bible study software has reached the stage of maturity where every student of the Bible should become acquainted with it.” (ibid., p. 495)

Concerning the technical side of BSR, I think the planned improvements will make navigating and searching the site a lot easier. I am not sure when we’ll be ready to implement all of the proposed changes. They are already underway, but I rely heavily on my older son’s PHP and CSS skills, and he is extremely busy at the moment. He has already started the project, but we’ll have to sit down and plan things carefully over the next few weeks. To put it in laymen’s terms, Bible Software Review will turn into a huge collection of interconnected databases, where everything is properly categorized (text, graphics, video, etc.) and indexed. This way, contents will be more flexible, dynamic and customizable, both for me and for you, the visitors. Once all the databases are in place, my son’s programming skills should allow for some on-the-fly graphics, queries, and other cool things we’ve talked about. Expect a few changes in the look and feel of the website too :-)

So, thank you all for your patience. We’ll get there, God willing.

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