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February 7, 2004

Launching New Site and New Blog!

Today is the day!

I finally got around to setting up a prototype of the new Bible Software Review website. Welcome everybody!

The tricky thing about html and building web sites is that you tend to forget how to do it (unless you practice on a regular basis, that is). So if you ever find yourself in that position, I can recommend W3 Schools. Lots of interesting reading there about building web sites (and quite useful too for writing blogs!).

Talking about weblogs, after a period of trial and error I've finally managed to start this one. You know what they say nowadays, don't you? "I blog, therefore I am." It is not enough to have a website, you just have to have a blog ;-) If you want to find out more about blogging, this page makes really fascinating reading. I now read a few hand-picked blogs everyday. It is better than reading the newspaper. Give it a try!

And while I continue updating Bible Software Review, this link from my homepage will give you a good, fairly good, faint idea of what will be forthcoming... (sorry folks, I couldn't resist trying the strike through tag... :-))

Oh yeah, one final thing. Feel free to use the commenting system. Despite some unexpected delays, over which I have had no control whatsoever, it is now working. You just have to click on Comment, and comment away! I've added one myself as an example. Please let me hear from you!

February 9, 2004

Concerning Reviews and Other Matters

Torrey Seland has also posted a link to this weblog on his own blog on Philo of Alexandria. I appreciate it. He also left me a comment which opens up an interesting discussion about what we understand by the term "Bible software." It surely means different things to different people, but I, for one, will be using it in a rather flexible way. So, yes, we'll be reviewing some tools that are being used successfully by general users, students, teachers, scholars and what have you, to learn/teach Biblical languages, write thesis and academic papers, etc. But, in order to do that, I will be needing your help. I am actively looking for people who are both qualified and interested in helping review some of these and other products. If you feel so inclined, please drop me a line, a comment, or whatever.

Remember, Bible Software Review can only get better and become really useful with contributions from others. I am certainly not going to do everything on my own. I have gone past the "one-man band" stage a long time ago...

By the comments and emails received in such a short time (Thank you!), I am once again reminded of something I already knew, at least theoretically. Blogs can be a tremendous source for sharing knowledge and information. So, let's "keep the candle burning"!

The Word is Spreading...

I appreciate Jim Davila's mention of my web and blog. Note that his excellent PaleoJudaica weblog is included in my list of recommended blogs.

Incidentally, these referals just come to show how visited and respected Mark Godacre's NT Gateway and related weblog are. It is a real gem in the overwhelming - and all too often mediocre - universe of cyperspace!

Using New Technology for Webs and Blogs

It may be pure coincidence, but the fact is that I was getting ready to blog about Stephen C. Carlson's most interesting topic on In-line Glossary Technique, when I noticed that he refers to the launching of this little weblog of mine. Much obliged, Stephen!

Now, regarding the technique he introduces to "mark up Greek words for glossing", it just dawn on me that it could be equally used as a means to replace footnotes, and most certainly to present brief definitions for some of those cryptic words scholars are so fond of using every now and again ;-). I don't have the time to test it right now, but maybe others have used this method and could enlighten us a bit...

February 19, 2004

Review with Sidenotes

I have posted a review* of a previous version of Accordance Bible Software. A full review of the latest version will be forthcoming. I am making this review available for the following reasons:

1. To whet your appetite ;-)
2. To allow you to compare it with the newer review (coming soon...)
3. To test the sidenotes as recently discussed by Stephen C. Carlson of Hypotyposeis.

Let me know what you think about this annotation technique.

* [Ed.] This link pointed to the previous version available at BSR. The new link, of course, uses a completely different system for displaying notes.

More on Interviews

I have heard back from a few of the people whom I emailed the survey. Some of them will be sending theirs in at a later date. Some others I haven't heard from yet. Whatever the case, it is impossible to hear from everybody. So I've decided to share some links that may be of interest to those who like to put "faces to names", even though sometimes there might not be any photos available! Here goes the first one:

You can find out more about Roy Brown, President of OakTree Software, by reading an online interview by Terri Lackey here, or by dowloading the PDF version (article found on pages 10-11).

February 23, 2004

Changes in HTML Coding

Good news for all those who have requested more compatibility with lower screen resolutions! I have changed the html code so that the tables are now "liquid" (see Carlson's comment). This means that the website should now be viewable by almost anyone (although it still looks better at 1024 x 768 or above). I have only uploaded the home page so far. Other pages will follow soon. However, I am still experimenting and will gladly receive your feedback on the new look. I learned HTML the old-fashioned way, and I am now trying to decide whether to stick to it (albeit with more flexibility) or step right into Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

February 24, 2004

Back to Real Business

After a major rewrite of the html code for my Bible Software Review website, I think I can finally say that everything in it should be easily accesible to almost anybody from now on - no matter what screen resolution is used. I could be wrong, of course, since I cannot possibly test it on every single browser, but hey you can always leave a comment if something doesn't work quite right for you! ;-) So here's to you viewing pleasure... I appreciate the helpful insights and encouragement received. And in case you wonder, the site uses "liquid" tables rather than "tableless" CSS. I know CSS is the way to go, but I simply cannot afford to spend more time on that. If any of you web-geeks out there want to help with the design, that's okay. Meanwhile, I'll stick to the content...

Article and Interview Posted

...But this time it's not about others, it's about us!

David Lang has just posted an article/interview about Bible Software Review. You have all the details here: Christian Mac User Launches Bible Software Review Site. Funny thing is that I haven't even been able to put up the About Us section for the website yet. Now I guess I'll have to ask CMUG permission to use their article here ;-)) No, seriously, it includes quite a bit of information (even personal info) that you might find interesting. Hope you like it.

February 25, 2004

Web Traffic

One week ago I added a free counter and statistics tracker from Site Meter. It is now set up so that visitors cannot access any of the site reports and charts, but I can assure you that it offers some interesting data. Let me say, right from the start, that I am very pleased by the number of people who drop by. We are not too far from 500 visits in just one week! And that's not counting the first few days after the web was launched, when I received lots of emails but the counter had not been implemented yet. Besides, I have only placed the tracker in two of the pages so far (home page and weblog). So I'm pretty sure that that figure is in fact a rather conservative estimate. Needless to say how thankful I am to all of you for making this possible. It only comes to show that there really was a need for this kind of endeavor.

Looking at the OS chart I found the following (presumably from today's traffic):

OS chart.gif

As you can see, most operating systems are represented. However, I am a bit intrigued by the "Unknown 1%". What system could that be? Would you please stand up? (just kidding, of course).

Well, I want to thank my fellow bloggers (bless them) for kindly placing a few links that point to this weblog and its associated website, and also Google, for the fact that you can type "Bible software review" and the very first hits you will get are, guess what, our website and weblog!

February 26, 2004

Menu Placeholders

I have received a number of emails to the effect that the main menu at the top of the home page doesn't seem to work properly. Let me make clear that it IS working as expected, and that there is nothing wrong with your browser if you happen to click on a menu item and nothing happens. Some items are not "clickable" yet. They are just placeholders, and will become active hyperlinks once the page or section they point to becomes available. It is not "vapor-web"; what you see there - more or less - is going to be posted at some point in time, God willing. I hope it will be sooner than later, but people are busy (and that includes me ;-)) and it will take some time for things to settle a bit. Thanks again for your patience and interest.

[Ed.] Naturally, you won't see any placeholders now, since the site has been completely revamped.

March 22, 2004

Help with Linux

I could certainly do with some help in the area of Bible software for the different Linux distros. Is there anybody out there who's actually using any Bible package developed specifically for Linux systems? I would love to hear from you! I openly confess that my experience with Linux is rather limited, although I do like what I've used.

April 22, 2004

Top Ten Bible News Sites

Theology.me.uk features a chart with the "Top Ten Bible News Sites". Bible Software Review is ranked number 8 in the Biblical Studies section. According to the site, they "have searched the Internet to find the Top Ten News, Feeds and Web Logs". I just have two comments to make: "Thank you!" and "The best is yet to come!".

May 5, 2004

Looking for PDA and PocketPC Reviewers

If any of you out there would like to review some of the Bible software programs available for PDA or PocketPC, please drop me a line. This is a growing market, and we hope to open a section on it soon at Bible Software Review. Thanks!

May 14, 2004

Things are Moving Ahead... Slowly but Steadily

Sometimes it's difficult to find the right time and the right place to blog. My workload is pretty heavy, and the world of Bible software is becoming very complex. There are so many programs, so many platforms, so many... Anyway, the good news is that more reviews are under way. I think I should be able to post some new material in the next week or so. So, stay tuned! And keep sending your comments and suggestions. I really appreciate them.

July 24, 2004

New Domain for BSR

Bible Software Review and its weblog will be moving to a new server and domain over the next couple of days or so (maybe less!). Your support since we first started, back in February, and the exciting stuff that's coming, have led me to make this decision. The new server will be more reliable, and BSR will have its own domain.

Please update your bookmarks and links! The current site and blog will NOT be updated after this post, and will eventually be unreachable in a matter of days. Feel free to publicize these changes by whatever means you deem appropriate. Thank you!

New website: www.bsreview.org

New weblog: www.bsreview.org/blog/

Email address for matters related to the site: webmaster[at]bsreview[dot]org

Hope to see you all there!

Welcome Back!

The move to the new server and domain is almost finished. I'm sorry for the inconveniences this may cause, but in the long run it will be better for all of us. Meanwhile, I would appreciate it if you could update your links, your aggregator subscription or whatever.

July 26, 2004

Why .org?

I could have chosen a .com domain, but preferred to use .org instead. I wanted to make sure everybody understands that this is not a commercial site. I am not sponsored by publicity or supported by any Bible software company. And while it is true that I am part of the industry, due to my involvement in different projects, BSR is a truly independent site. I pay for all the expenses (quite a few, actually!), and make no profit whatsoever from this activity. Remember, then, that all the opinions expressed here belong to the different authors who voice them, and should never be taken as official statements from any company in particular. This is the way I started off, and that's how it's going to stay for the foreseeable future. I truly believe this is in the best interests of everybody.

February 9, 2005

BSR Turns One!

I just realized that this site and weblog were launched on February 7, 2004. If you follow this link, you will find the first blog entry.

Looking back, I can only be thankful for your support. With your help, Bible Software Review will continue to improve and serve a growing number of Bible software users around the world. So a big THANK YOU to all our readers.

February 2, 2006

The Future of BSR

When I first started Bible Software Review and this weblog, back in February 2004, I really had no idea whatsoever about how it was going to turn out. I honestly thought it could fill a void in the Bible software scene, and time has shown this to be the case. So I can only thank you enough for dropping by so frequently, for your encouragement, your constructive criticism, and for letting me feel and know that you appreciate what is being done here. I am very thankful both to Bible software developers and general users for the positive feedback. It is YOU who have helped make BSR what it is today. But he have only begun to scratch the surface...

I've learned a lot in these couple of years, and I think it's time to add some of the features I have always had in mind, but never managed to implement. Now that there is a steady flow of well over a thousand visitors every week (and figures continue to grow), I need to make some decisions about the future. Up until now I have considered BSR more as a hobby of mine and a service to the general and academic community of Bible software users than anything else. However, as the workload has increased, so has the amount of time and money I have invested. So much so, that I cannot afford to enter into our third year of existence without making some changes.

First things first. I am committed to this project and do not contemplate the idea of quitting. However, having said that, we are facing a croosroads. Is BSR going to keep a "low profile", taking care of only the basics, updating stuff and posting new articles and reviews as (limited) time permits? Or is it going to introduce many new features, post lots of hot information and keep up with the "latest and greatest"?

I am all for the second option, but it will only be possible if we introduce some paradigm changes. Perhaps the most obvious one would be to start accepting paid ads from Bible software vendors. This would not necessarily affect the independent style of general articles and detailed reviews, but it would certainly help pay a number of expenses (more server space, broadband, etc.). I could have done so a long time ago, but thought it would be better to have an ad-free website for as long as I could afford it.

As for short-term enhancements, I am planning a complete revamp of BSR. We'll definitely use CSS and PHP before too long. This will mean a new UI, but also a much greater flexibility in content management. I would also like to open new sections (e.g., video tutorials and/or video reviews), a forum, a donwload area, and many more goodies. All this, coupled with more frequent updates and reviews, would hopefully increase the usefulness of the site and the number of visitors.

But before I move on, in one direction or another, I'd like to know your opinion. Readers are welcome to leave their comments here. Software developers are invited to email me their proposals on paid adversiting and related matters. Once I gather all that information and think some more on the matter I'll let you all know what road we're going to follow from now on.

Thank you!

February 7, 2006

Bible Software Review Turns Two!

February 7, 2004 marked the beginning of this wonderful online venture. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope you have too!

Let's raise our cups in a toast to Bible Software Review: Happy 2nd anniversary! Don't worry, the drinks are on me ;-)

March 6, 2006

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 customizeable, 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.

April 18, 2006

Light Blogging

I'm sorry about not being able to do much blogging lately. This will all change when the new website and weblog are in place. You may not notice much difference at first (well, you will if you are a frequent visitor), but most changes are going to affect the nuts and bolts of the site.

I think I'll adopt a minimalist (no theological pun intended ;-)) approach to the outward design, and focus on making the whole thing more user-friendly and efficient. As usual, I'm having lots of problems trying to make different browsers behave the way they should -- my goodness! haven't they heard about standards? --, but I think we'll get there in a few more weeks.

In the meantime, thanks again for your patience.

June 1, 2006

Update on New Website and Weblog

Well, friends, the all-new BSR website is just a few days away from making its debut :-) I hope you'll enjoy it.

As for the blog, I have decided to drop Blogger and use Movable Type instead. I have given a lot of thought to these changes, and I believe it's the best way to go. The downside is that I will probably lose the comments (not sure yet) and my co-blogger (Ken Ristau), but even so there is much to gain.

Movable Type is a very professional publishing platform that includes, among other things, two key feature (to me at least!): the ability to assign each entry to one or more categories, and a very powerful management system.

June 24, 2006

Welcome Again

Today we are launching our new website, with its associated blog and forums. I hope you enjoy it. It's been a lot of work, but this is only the first phase. I should now be able to offer not only more features, but also -- and most important of all -- more content.

Please feel free to use the contact form to report any dead links or features that may not be working as expected, as well as to submit your suggestions. Your feedback is more than welcome, and definitely helps a lot.

I would also like to encourage all of you to register to our forums and to participate as much as you can. I'd love to see us build a true community of worldwide Bible software users. The tools are there. It's now up to you to make use of them.

As always, thank you very much for your understanding and support.

June 26, 2006

Printing Articles and Reviews

One of the enhancements we have recently implemented is the ability to print any article or review available. If you click on "Printable version," a pop-up window will appear and you will be able to print it. Should there be any notes, they will display as end notes.

For best results, please choose A4 paper size. Otherwise, you may find that graphics and tables appear truncated. This is a very international site, so we have to try to accomodate to standard formats as much as possible.

June 28, 2006

Please Update your Bookmarks

I know it is a little bit of a pain, but well worth the effort in the long run. So, if you happen to have this blog in your blogroll, aggregator, browser bookmarks, etc., please take a minute or two to update your links. For the time being, all links pointing to the older website will be redirected, while the previous blog will stay online for a while. But this situation won't last forever ;-). Thank you!

July 10, 2006

Ratings in Reviews

One of the improvements recently introduced consists in rating different aspects of the programs under review (see this one, for example -- which I happened to update this morning).

Reviewers are asked to evaluate key areas, following a simple scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). These, in turn, are automatically translated into an overall mark (this time on a scale of 1-10)

These are some of the questions one has to keep in mind while assessing the software:

  • User Interface - How does it look like? Does it follow the standars we have come to expect for the platform it is designed for?
  • Ease of Use - Is it intuitive? Does it have a steep learning curve?
  • Help & Support - How good are the documentation and tech support offered? Are there user groups?
  • Customization - Can it be customized according to the needs and tastes of different users?
  • Speed - Is it fast? How does it compare to other similar programs when performing the same tasks?
  • Searching - How flexible and powerful are the searches that can be run?
  • Features - Does it include a good number of features? Are there any outstanding or unique features?
  • Modules - Are there enough modules? How good is the content offered?
  • Original Languages - How well is it suited for those needing to do intensive original-language work and exegesis?
  • Price - What is the value-money ratio like?

I hope this will help you appreciate what we are looking at when we review Bible software here at BSR.

July 14, 2006

Donations and Publicity

As indicated in the FAQ section, Bible Software Review is now accepting donations and paid advertisements.

It was suggested to me that this would be a nice feature to have. So, If you want to show your appreciation for the service BSR is trying to offer, there is a new PayPal Donate button on the main page. This is my first experience with PayPal, so I hope everything works okay. Let me know if you find any problems with it -- even if you don't donate ;-) I have also decided to provide space for Bible software companies to publicize their products and/or services. If you want to advertise with us, please fill this contact form.

Finally, you may have noticed some affiliate program banners. This is another way you can help BSR at no extra cost. If you click on any of the banners and decide you want to buy a given product, the company in question will pay us a small commission based on the amount of your purchase.

As you can see, there are a number of practical things you can do to support the site now. Future enhacements to the website, new content, more regular updates, and a few other things are dependent on this kind of financial support. So please help as you are able. Thank you very much indeed!

July 18, 2006

Chances are...it's in the FAQs!

Every now and again I am asked about things which are clearly answered in the FAQs of BSR. This seems to suggest that most visitors don't read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) -- just as most users don't read manuals. But is there anything one can do about this situation? I'm not sure. I guess we must keep reminding people that the FAQ section is there. Besides that, there is another useful and quite often underused feature, you should familiarize yourself with, i.e., the Search box. If you can't find something in the FAQs, give the web's Search feature a go. You'll be surprised to see that even the most minute details are indexed for you. And if you cannot find an answer to your question after all, I'll make sure it is added to the FAQs for the benefit of future users.

September 2, 2006

Spam in Forums and Blog Comments

Forum spam and blog spam are on the rise. Ideally, we would all like to keep spammers out of our virtual life, but absolute protection is impossible if you want to have some degree of feedback from your readers and interact with them. For instance, it would be very easy to put all comments on moderation, or force everyone to register and get approved before posting a comment or participating in a forum thread, but since I don't want to do that at this point (at least not right now), I have to spend some time every single day cleaning up the forum and some blog comments, which is quite unfortunate.

Receiving lots of spam emails every day is a real pain, but getting spam in forums and blog comments si simply nauseating. I really hate it, and since I don't read any of those messages - be it emails, forum threads and/or registrations, or blog comments -, please be sure to use a real name and a meaningful subject line, or else your post will be immediately and unmercifully trashed.

September 21, 2006

General Announcements

I just want to remind everybody that the General Announcements section of the Bible Software Review Forum continues to offer press releases for the latest products and developments in the Bible software industry.

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

New stuff will be posted soon. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas!

May 11, 2007

Paid Ads

I just want to let you all know that from now on, and until further notice, Bible Software Review will only be accepting paid ads and PayPal donations, rather than engaging in various sorts of affiliate programs.

This move is necessary in order to help cover the increasing costs involved in running the site. So, if you really want to help but are unable to send a donation (there is a Donation button on the left side of the main page), you can always click on the banners. It will not cost you, and you will be directed to reputable websites with interesting offers on Bible software.

Thanks for your understanding and continued support!

May 17, 2007

Short Fact List

I happened to look at BSR statistics for the first time in months, and based on the previous seven days, I see that 54% of the visits come from the United States (but I find 60% from North America under Continent Share). 83% run Win XP, 35% have IE 6.x as their browser, and 52% use a 1024 x 768 screen resolution. Last, but not least, the most common referring page is Google (what a surprise!).

Does all this show any interesting trends? Maybe not, at least nothing that I didn't know already ;-), but it was fun to see all those nice graphics displayed by sitemeter.

About Website

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Bible Software Review Weblog in the Website category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Personal is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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