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Bible Software Review to go offline soon

After more than twelve years online, Bible Software Review is closing shop. I have reached a point where I can no longer afford the time, energy and money that needs to be put into it. I will continue to be involved in Bible software, but will not be maintaining the site anymore. Maybe somebody else will do it, in which case the reviews, interviews and so on would continue to be available. If anyone is interested in the domain “bsreview.org” and/or its contents, please contact me.

It’s been a great ride, and I want to thank everyone that has made BSR possible, particularly its faithful readers and contributors. It is time for me to move on to other things. There is always a 2.0 version awaiting somewhere.

Thank you all!

Rubén Gómez

New Website

Here’s a shameless plug for a new website I just put out recently. It is called venaisrael.com, and it is devoted to the tours to Israel I will be hosting from this year onwards. I would very much appreciate it if you would check it out and share it on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social network you happen to be on. The tours are in Spanish and may seem unrelated to Bible software, but they are not. I hope to share with you in due course how I use Bible software tools as an essential part of the preparation for these tours. So, in short, it won’t cost you much at all to do me this little favor and it will help in making the website more visible. Thanks much!

 

To Review or not to Review, that is the Question

I often have to remind myself that indeed “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). Postmoderns call it a déjà vu. The entry I wrote back in 2008 on Just How Much Influence do Bloggers Have? could just as well be my post for today. Nothing much has changed. We’re in a loop of sorts.

I’ve mentioned before that I never anticipated I would be writing Bible software reviews. Yes, I know I haven’t done so lately. It is true that I am too busy with other things, but there is a more fundamental reason: for the most part, and with rare exceptions, it is not fun anymore. History repeats itself. If you write a positive review, people might think you’ve been bribed one way or another. On the other hand, if you raise criticisms, then surely you must have some axe to grind. Reviewers will always be accused of having some vested interests, no matter what. No wonder reviewers are so difficult to find! You can very easily become a VIP or a persona non-grata in no time!

What actually prompted me to revisit this whole thing was the article Five Reasons Not to Buy Logos. Admittedly, I would never use a controversial title like that, but the review itself is balanced and well-written. One may partially agree or disagree, but he certainly makes some valid points. However, I can’t help feeling some sort of empathy with this unnamed missionary. Opening certain boxes can be unpleasant. You never know if it will end up being Pandora’s.

So, what should we do? I know that generalizations are unfair, but still, it appears that some companies are more interested in hype and ads than they are in reviews. A review is neither an ad nor a rehash of the info provided by the corresponding Public Relations department. You want publicity? Pay for it. You want a second opinion from a fallible but even-handed blogger? Get your product reviewed. Incidentally, I find a bit disturbing some of the current uses of social networks too. Personally, I refuse to blog, retweet or comment on every single sale, offer or product available. It’s nothing personal. It’s the way I see things. For me this is not a business, it’s a service. I reserve the right to mention or not mention whatever I want. You are free to read or not what I say, and so am I to review only what I really enjoy and find useful.

Let me make this clear: I will never, ever, again directly request to review any product. I don’t care how good you think your app is. If I don’t find it personally interesting, challenging and useful, I won’t bother with it. So don’t ask me how many readers I have, or how many monthly visits, or how influential the site and blog are (influence is a highly overrated notion anyway). Simply ask yourself if you really want to know my opinion (or somebody else’s) on the perceived value of your program. You don’t? Fair enough. You do? Le me decide if I’m interested in reviewing it. Why? Because I’m worth it 😉

Having said that, the question still remains: is it really worth the effort to take on the task of reviewing Bible software? More often than not I would answer in the negative. As of late, only occasionally do I find any joy in doing it. It is clear to me that Bible software has become too much “the business of Bible software” and has lost the essence and impetus of the pioneers in the field. Sad but true.

 

Dear visitors…

Thank you all for your continued support of BSR. Had it not been for your visits, I would have given up any hope of keeping it alive. I know you haven’t heard from me for a rather long time, and I apologize for that. There’s a lot going on in the world of Bible software, but I simply can’t keep up. Let me remind you, however, that I do update my twitter account.

I have been (and still am) very busy with professional projects. I have also recently finished tagging a classic Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera 1909) with Strong’s numbers. This is a public domain text, and so I’ve felt free to work on it on and off to ensure that everybody will have access to this Bible and the original languages that underlie it. The text should be available soon, as I am currently offering it to different Bible software developers for use with their software. I hope it proves useful.

Thanks again for visiting! I hope you find something helpful and interesting among the many sections of this blog and website. As always, make yourself at home.

iPad? Definitely Yes!

After having used my iPad for almost a month now, I think it’s time to answer my own post, and see whether or not my expectations have been met.

As much as many people would have loved to see Apple fail miserably, the launch of the iPad has been a huge success. I have no vested interest in the company and, quite frankly, dislike the way it does certain things, but you’ve gotta love what it does. The iPad, dubbed by some, somewhat scornfully, as an oversized iPhone/iPod Touch, is an entirely different animal. Not only that, it is probably bound to change the way people interact with print and visual media in the long run.

Among the cons I would not mention the lack of a camera, multitasking or Flash support (the first two will be coming sooner or later –multitasking is announced for this coming Fall), but more mundane things, like no earphones or a ridiculously short power adapter cable. Color me nit-picky, but this is being cheap.

As a “portable solution,” I think the iPad is just right for me. Neither too heavy nor too small. I can carry a full library of books, a number of Bible software programs, lots of apps, and the weight remains the same! I can even change font type and size for the most part, which is a real treat. The screen is fantastic, and easy on the eyes in my experience.

As a “multimedia hub,” I can also say I’m very pleased with it. Reading, watching photos or streaming videos is a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I recommend.

In sum, my general expectations have certainly been met, but where they have been certainly exceeded is in the area of Bible software. I will not give any names just yet, but let me assure you that the general quality of current Bible apps is quite high, and it can only get better with future enhancements (multitasking –which I am already using on my iPod Touch– being one of them). I am very impressed so far, and I think that, once more, the future is now.

iPad: What For?

People buy gadgets for all kinds of different reasons. Indeed, there are as many reasons as users. Here are my excuses reasons for getting an iPad (which I do not have yet).

1. I want a really portable solution for carrying around Bibles and books. “Around” means, basically, around the house, as well as the church or classroom settings. I’ve used notebooks and iPods, but they are either too large or too small. I thought the iPod touch would be a great deal, and it is in many ways, but I personally find it a bit unworkable for my purposes, due to its rather limited screen real estate.

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing my Bible reading off a study Bible that weighs around 1.4 Kg (nothing unusual for study Bibles). I k

eep it in the sitting room and also take it to church, and as much as I like the feel of a book in my hands, my wrists start to hurt after a short while, the font size appears to be increasingly smaller as time goes by, and I have to keep moving around in search of a better lighting angle. Besides, I need a ball pen and a notepad to jot things down (I know, I know…). I’m hoping the iPad, which is less than half that weight, allows font typeface and size changes, has its own light and (as far as Bible programs go) is capable of attaching notes to the text, will greatly enhance my current experience. All of it with the form factor of a study Bible and the added bonus of having dozens and dozens of other Bibles and reference books readily accessible without increasing its weight one bit!

2. I want to spend more time in the house’s common area, with the rest of my family.  The iPad looks eminently suited for this. The idea of sitting comfortably on a couch while doing what I need to do, rather than spending more hours in my study is quite appealing. Even if I have to occasionally wear earbuds, it is much better to be together. And more fun!

3. I’m tired of using a mouse. Again, I relish the thought of doing things with my fingers and taking breaks from clicking away. There is something about interacting with a device with my hands that I find more relaxing and natural than other methods.

4. Since the iPad seems to be a true entertainment hub, it should become an alternative way to listen to music and podcasts, and watch films, streaming videos and photos.

I guess what I’m looking for is something of a balance between productivity, study and relaxation. Will the iPad fit the bill? Well, I’ll soon find out. Will I discover new excuses, er… reasons I did not anticipate? Probably. Monday is the day…

BSR News Update

I apologize for the rather long blogging hiatus. My professional work load is such right now that I do not foresee any noticeable changes in the coming months. I’m simply too busy and have to meet various deadlines. As I’m sure you will understand, that takes priority over any other activities on the side (including BSR). So, don’t count on any new major review anytime soon, although I may be able to blog occasionally. I’ll also try to tweet about what’s new as time permits.

Fortunately, there are some fine people whom you can turn to for news and updates on Bible software programs. Mark’s blog is always worth checking, and Kevin Purcell keeps abreast of the latest developments.

These are exciting times for Bible software, despite the current economic crisis. The recent launch of the iPad has opened up yet another study platform that looks very promising. I plan on getting one myself (it’s not available yet here in Europe), and hope to share my experience with you in due course. Perhaps I will even end up posting some mini-reviews or videos. Who knows?

I’m sorry I haven’t got better news for you at this point. My efforts to have other people join BSR and share the amount of work a site like this entails have not been successful. I’m not giving up just yet, but expect to see me more off than on, at least during what’s left of 2010.

Take care!