Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Review of Bible Analyzer 3.5

Published: November 22nd, 2008

I have just posted a new review of Bible Analyzer 3.5, a great freeware application for Windows and Linux users. It is a program I enjoy using, and it has great potential. I hope Tim Morton continues to improve it.

If you like it, please consider ordering the CD-ROM at the dirt-cheap price of $18 + $3 shipping.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Published: September 18th, 2008

Yes, friends, I’ll be out of town until Sunday, God willing. This means that there will be no new posts in the next few days, and that I will not be able to check my email or approve comments or new forum registrations until next week. So, please be patient. It’s not that I’ll be somewhere out in the woods or anything like that. But the whole point is to keep away from any computer during the whole weekend.

Be good and feel free to look around to your heart’s content. There is a lot of material already available. Hope you enjoy it!

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Review of BerBible

Published: September 13th, 2008

I have added a new section for reviewing freeware Bible software right here at the blog. The introduction explains what this is all about, and you just need to click on the desired tab to access the review. As you can imagine, more tabs will be added in due course as new reviews are posted.

Today’s review is BerBible, an extremely lightweight application that offers some very interesting features. It could be said that it is really a “sola Scriptura” piece of software, since it is specifically designed to look up Bible verses and search the text. That’s all there is to it. Well, not quite. Well-know modern Bible versions are also available, and there is more search power in it than meets the eye. Check it out!

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Criteria for Evaluating Software – II

Published: September 10th, 2008

In my first post on this subject we saw that there are many different ways to approach the task of reviewing Bible software. Things that are important to some are almost overlooked by others, and this is legitimate. We come from different backgrounds and have different readers in mind. There is, however, almost unanimity in the fact that reviews cannot be taken lightly, and that they do pose many challenges and give more than one headache.

Bible Software Review started as a service to the wide community of power users, students, pastors, missionaries, Bible translators, professors and scholars who are regularly involved in a rigorous and academic study of the Scriptures and related secondary literature. This is still the main focus. As I think I’ve said before, I like to think of myself as a biblioblogger who does reviews.

Over the years, however, BSR has become quite well-known and more and more people have joined the ranks of those who visit the site looking for advice on all kinds of questions related to Bible software. Most of them are general users who want to learn more and enjoy the opportunity to interact with the latest news and developments that are taking place in the ever-growing Bible software industry. Others are newbies who want to find their way in the middle of what is rapidly becoming a rather confusing and fragmented field.

While there are other websites that tend to offer reviews and info on a wide range of general purpose Bible software applications (many of them freeware or shareware) — and some do it quite well –, I have decided to include a new section here at BSR where these programs will also be covered. These are not going to be full-blown reviews, but will present each product and try to assess their relative merits and shortcomings. To distinguish them from the other packages, these sort of “First Impressions” section will be hosted here at the blog, and will be accessible via the tabs that appear at the top of the BSR banner.

You should see more tabs in the coming weeks, but for the time being I have posted a whole new section with general remarks on writing Bible software reviews and the review policy I follow. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful, and as I try to recruit other people to contribute regularly to the site, let’s hope that many more exciting features can be implemented soon. Your feedback will be appreciated.

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Oh, the Joys of a Spam Free Site!

Published: August 16th, 2008

I used to have a lot of spam coming from the older contact form on BSR, the blog and, particularly, the forums. Everyday I would face the prospect of deleting lots and lots of messages and weeding out the valid comments. It got so bad that I decided to closed the forums until I could find a solution. But this is all old hat now!

The spam filter plugin for WordPress (Akismet) takes good care of the blog, whereas the free reCAPTCHA service blocks 100% of the spam bots elsewhere (i.e., site and forums). As a result, I don’t have to waste any time at all sorting messages or activating accounts. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons we don’t have a huge amount of registered users at the BSR forums yet. Those who do register are real people with a real interest in Bible software. The other reason, of course, is that we have reopened the forums just recently, and it takes time to build a community of users who get in the habit of “hanging around” and participating in the discussions on a regular basis. So, I do invite you to take a look and register. It won’t take much effort to do it (for humans, that is), and you will have a nice opportunity to interact with other users and Bible software developers. Also, keep in mind that there are some subjects you won’t find here (or, at least, not in much detail), that are dealt at some length in the forums. See this new discussion starter thread as an example.

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HTML in Comments

Published: August 7th, 2008

Don’t underestimate the power of HTML tags when you write a comment. Now, I know that most blog comments are short and may not need any special formatting features. But for those who want to make something stand out, and know basic html syntax, there is great power and flexibility in what can be achieved.

One could use headers (<h1>, <h2> and <h3>, for example), but I do not recommend it. It is much better to simply use <font> and add some parameters (e.g., <font size=”16″ color=”red”>). Formatting styles are also available, like <strong> (or <b>), <em>, <i>, <u>, <strike>, <sup> and <sub>. Besides, it is also possible to use paragraphs (<p>), ordered (<ol>) and unordered (<ul>) lists, align text with <div align>, use tables, include citations (<blockquote>) or code (<code>), and insert images <img src=”http://domain/whatever.gif”> and URLs (<a href=”http://www.google.com/”>). BTW, If you do link to another page, please use target=”_blank” so that it opens in a new window, and remember that you have to use the corresponding closing tags for any of the above to work!

And last, but not least, apart from the fact that you can copy and paste Unicode Greek or Hebrew, it is also possible to write directly in those languages too. If you run Windows, you may install the Greek or Hebrew keyboards from Logos and they will allow you to type in those characters anywhere by simply using a keyboard shortcut of your choice.

Needeless to say that you can also use all the features I’ve mentioned in the BSR forums, with the added advantage that there you have a neat editor where you can compose your posts, rather than having to do it manually.

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Please Help Track Some Weird Problem

Published: August 2nd, 2008

A reader reports that he is having problems entering the site’s URL manually (i.e., http://www.bsreview.org) or any of its subdomains (/blog, /forum, and so on). Internet Explorer 7 (under Windows XP) displays the banner image and some text, but then an error message pops up (“IE cannot open the Internet site http://www.bsreview.org. Operation aborted.”), and the page cannot be displayed. Also, with Firefox 3 (under Fedora) he is unable to see the New Topic button when he logs into the forums.  And this is all happening from a Comcast connection.

Now, I cannot reproduce any of these problems. The site, the blog and the forums have been extensively tested under IE (versions 6 and 7), Firefox (versions 2 and 3), and Safari, and found to work just fine, as far as I can tell. Since I have not received any other reports from visitors about display problems, or any other problem for that matter, would you mind reporting back to me what your experience browsing the site is like? If you do, it would be helpful to know your OS and browser, and you can either leave a comment here or contact me directly. I will update this entry as I receive your feedback. Thanks a lot!

Update (August 11): The issue is fixed now. Some obscure configuration setting related to the custom style I am using for the forums was the culprit. Everything else seems to be working as it should. Let me know if you come across any further glitches.

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New Design and Improvements

Published: July 27th, 2008

As you can see, the site and the blog have undergone a major redesign. You may or may not like it, but I think they look much better than before. But don’t get fooled by the appearance. The real improvements are to be found in the code. You can’t see it, but it will make my life a lot easier, and you will be able to profit from some streamlined features.

I will not bore you with all the details, but I do want to mention a few of the improvements:

  • A number of system-wide anti-spam features have been implemented. This means that the website, the blog and the forums (soon to be reopened), will be easier to manage. It also means that the time saved in running them can be devoted to creating new contents.
  • The calculations used to assign an overall rating to the products reviewed have been changed, so that even if a certain area is not applicable, the merits of the available features is what counts towards the final score (see a real example of the kinds of problems I run into in the past.)
  • The new layout is more readable, and leaves plenty of room for the use of audiovisual media.
  • As far as possible, links have been thoroughly updated. As for incoming links, please notice that any links pointing to the old blog URL (“domain/weblog/post.html“) or the first incarnation of BSR (with static htm files) will not be redirected anymore. There has been plenty of time to update those links, and the server structure was getting very confusing trying to keep this sort of “backwards compatibility.” I’m sorry for any inconvenience, but it is something that had to be done.
  • Most changes have improved the “team-friendliness” of the site, so that it will be easier to have others involved in writing, blogging, participating in the forums, etc.

Last, but not least, I am greatly indebted to my son Andrés, without whose help these changes would have not been possible.

Finally, I want to encourage you to keep supporting this project by emailing me news, links or any other information that you think might be useful to the many readers of BSR. Okay, enough for now. Have a nice day and see you around!

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Updating Blog Feeds

Published: July 21st, 2008

Please update your BSR blog feeds. Thanks!

All those who have subscribed to the previous feeds http://www.bsreview.org/blog/index.xml or http://www.bsreview.org/blog/atom.xml (by far the most popular) should update to http://www.bsreview.org/blog/feed. At least that’s what I’ve had to do in order to make it work again via Bloglines, which is my feed reader of choice. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Under Social Network (lower right hand column) you will find some easy, one-click methods to subscribe. Besides, most modern browsers will allow you to do the same by clicking the RSS button.

On a related note, I’ve noticed that there are still quite a few blogs that link to the outdated URL (http://www.bsreview.org/weblog/blogger.html). Do please update all those links (both to the main page and to the entries’ permalinks). I’m sorry about the hassle, but it is necessary to streamline the blog. If it’s any consolation to you, I have to go through the same process for other people’s blogs on a rather regular basis ;-)

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Blog Software Change

Published: July 15th, 2008

As the most perceptive among you may have noticed, I have now migrated to WordPress. To be honest, Movable Type was a pain in the neck, and I had all sorts of technical problems trying to update it.

Changes will be introduced gradually. For one thing, the website and blog are going to undergo a facelift, but that is not quite ready yet. For the time being, as far as the blog is concerned, I am still working on getting the permalinks and archive files properly formatted, so please do not link to any of the current pages until I get that sorted out. You may, however, comment to your hearts content. :-)

Update (July 17): I think I’ve got it right now. You may link to any post or comment as usual. Thanks!

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