Saturday, January 31, 2009

Research on the go (or Photocopiers are so 20th century)

Most of you have probably already figured this out, but I find I need to remind my students occasionally about some research tools we now have that were not readily available even five years ago. So, let's say you are in the library or a bookstore and you find something you want to remember. The 20th century way would be to get out paper and writing utensil or, if you were in the library, bring the book to a copy machine and make some paper reproductions. What does the true 21st century researcher do? [Check Tommy Keene's (TK) comment to this post.]
If it's short enough:

  • I use my PDA and add it as a note.
  • Send a text message to myself on my cell phone.
If it's a bit longer:
  • Use my PDA and make a voice recording.
  • Send a voice message to myself on my cell phone.
  • Send a voice message to your box. (Thanks, TK! I've been using for files, but I was unaware that you can also drop voice mails as well. [ is free, but you do have standard phone charges.])
  • I had really liked using Jott (I'd blogged about it here) because it did voice to text conversion and sent them as text messages or emails. (I really hate trying to type out text messages on my phone...) Jott is dropping their free, basic plan, however. A standard plan will now cost $3.95/month which is not bad at all, but I wasn't using it quite enough to justify it. Do check out Jott Links, though. Using your phone, you could use the voice to text to set appointments for your Google Calendar, add items to your Remember the Milk list, update Twitter or FaceBook, or name some item/book and come home to find a link to that item on Amazon.
If it's a chunk of text or a visual:
  • In our seminary library, we now have a copier that saves files as PDFs and delivers them to my network folder. That's sweet...
  • No PDF copier? Use your cell phone camera or (if, like me, your cell phone is one of those ancient ones that only is a phone) take a digital camera picture. (Now, how do you get the pic from your phone to your PC? Good advice HERE.)
But what if it's really the text and not just a picture of it you want? Open your picture in optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.
  • I have an inexpensive scanner that comes with some basic OCR software. I can open JPG, PNG, TIFF... and it does a pretty good job of getting everything into text. Note that this also works well if you want to convert PDFs which are 'images' and not text. Use a screen capture utility (suggestions here) to take a pic of the PDF, then feed it through the OCR.
  • Don't have a scanner or OCR software. Check the Wikipedia OCR entry, and note the list of software (some of which is free/open source) available.
  • Don't want to bother with dedicated OCR? Want to try full-featured note-taking software? Then remember that Evernote (there is a free version--my review here and another here) and OneNote ($59 for Microsoft OneNote Home and Student 2007 or $80 as part of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007) have a built-in tool that can identify and extract text from pics.
For biblical studies sorts, however, there is a problem... None of the OCR software (unless you buy very expensive professional stuff) knows how to deal with Greek or Hebrew text. (I do know of HOCR which is free OCR software for Hebrew, but I have not tried it.)

Do you have any research tools suggestions for the 21st century? Help save some paper and share them here!

BTW, as TK points out in the comment, did you see the Zotero icon up in the address bar of this (and any other) blog post? Click on that folder icon to see the Zotero options for saving info.

Popling: New Vocabulary Learning Tool

Popling describes itself as "a website + desktop app for people who want to learn, but lack motivation." What it does is popup on your computer (at whatever frequency you choose, e.g., once every 5 minutes) with a vocabulary word. If you click on it, you can get the answer/meaning to the question/word. (Or you can choose to ignore it, and it will go away.) Check out their video:

Popling Screencast from rob rhyne on Vimeo.
It is FREE to install and use Popling with registration, but the free version will have ads, and you can only subscribe to one database at a time. For $20/year you get no ads and multiple databases.

To give it a try, I set up a few databases of Greek and Hebrew. So, register at Popling and then download/install the program (which also includes installing Adobe Air). The installation was less than a minute for the whole process. You then subscribe to one of the many databases available. I created one for the Hebrew vocab in the first chapter of Weingreen's Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (look for it under Languages > Hebrew) and two for Greek vocabulary of words occuring more than 500 times in the NT. (Look for it under Languages > Other > Greek. The databases can only have a max of 100 words, so I had to split up the 170 into two groups alphabetically.) It is a web-based tool, so it is able to display Unicode. It works beautifully for the Greek. The Hebrew is not as well-rendered, and you will note that some vowels do not properly situate under the consonants.
BTW, to create these lists, I had to use Logos' Vocabulary Lists. (I couldn't use BibleWorks' FlashCard module, because I needed to get the text plus glosses into MS Word. The FlashCard module can export to PDF, but it uses the BW TrueType--not Unicode--font, and I would have had to do a bunch of work getting the glosses attached to the word.) In Logos, I was able to open the word lists and export them to HTML. Then copied it to Word where it imported as a table, then copied the table, did a bunch of search replace to set up the required syntax for Popling batch question construction, and then copied it all in to Popling's creator.
If you are looking to create a Popling list of your own, remember that Logos has a good selection of such lists already made (check this post) or to create them based on word frequency, check this post.
HT: makeuseof

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Predicting (and preparing for) the death of your hard drive

A bit off-topic, but you really don't want to be surprised by the failure of your hard drive. My home / primary computer is now almost 4 years old, and one of the first parts most likely to go, along with all my data, is the hard drive. HERE is an excellent post from makeuseof that provides links to some free diagnostic programs you can use to evaluate the health of your hard drive. I tried a few of the programs, and I ended up keeping the CrystalDiskInfo one as providing the clearest info most quickly. (Note that it is basically a download/unzip/run type of program. Ie, it does not require a whole installation process.) As you can see on the graphic, my hard drive has been powered on 1925 times and has been running for 11014 hours. That's a lot, but it appears that it is holding up well and is in "Good" health. The help file with the program will point you to the S.M.A.R.T. info on Wikipedia which will help explain some of the numbers.
Even though the hard drive looks good, you should have some kind of backup plan. Remember, you are not only protecting against hard drive failure, you are also protecting against theft, fire, etc. Here are some steps I have taken.

  • I have burned a bunch of CDs and DVDs worth of data (especially the space-hogging pics and music). I keep these stored in a different location than home with this computer.
  • I have a bunch of data that I store on my Google account online. This is nice, because I can access it from anywhere if need be. I also use services like SkyDrive (25Gb), Dropbox and to store / access / share files online. (Also check this Christ-Tech post for info on making it much easier to copy files to SkyDrive.)
  • I keep data synched between this home computer and my laptop using a service like LiveSync (formerly FolderShare) or using my USB drive and ViceVersa FREE.
  • I bought an external hard drive and copied over all my data.
Okay, you can thank me later...
UPDATE: 1) Be sure to read the comments. 2) The latest CCMag just came out today and features a long article about backup plans, software, and recommendations. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stupid Greek Tricks

Rod Decker has posted some fun Greek trivia, and it provides excuse for me to share a few stupid Greek tricks I use in my class.

Principal parts: I go (ερχομαι - present) to an ηλθον (aorist: ie, an ale-thon! Thanks, Brian!). While I am there, I πινω (present of "drink" and usually associated with a pina colada) and afterwards, in the future, I have to πιω!

The preposition δια with the accusative indicates motion through. It can be used as a verbal prefix, e.g., with the verb ῥεω which means flow, stream, gush. Put them together, and you have
δια-ῥεω = to flow through!

You've probably heard this one, but I have a postscript to it:
In the fourth century, the Roman philosopher Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius reports in his Saturnalia (Book 2.4.11):

When Augustus heard that Herod king of the Jews had ordered all the boys in Syria under the age of two years to be put to death and that the king’s son was among those killed, he said, “I’d rather be Herod’s sow than Herod’s son.” ― Macrobius, The Saturnalia, trans. Percival Davies (New York 1969), 171. [Latin: Cum audisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Iudaeorum intra bimatum iussit interfici filium quoque eius occisum, ait: Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium.]
It was doubtless a pun in Greek where hus /ὑς means pig and huios / υἱος means son. The joke is that, by Jewish observance, Herod wouldn't kill a pig, but he had no such scruples about his sons.

So I did some checking, and an alternative spelling for ὑς was συς. It struck me that the vocative form of this would be: συε. At least in the Midwest United States, as my grandfather who was a farmer could have told you, if you want to call a pig, you yell, "Sooey." (Sooey is in the dictionary.) My grandfather didn't know Greek, but I have to believe that is exactly what he was saying!

Getting (free) royalty-free music you can use

Sure there is a ton of free music on the web, but what if you want some music you can use as part of a presentation that you are sharing? You either need to compose and perform your own music or come up with some royalty-free music. A Google search for such music will return quite a few sites, but most of them have an up-front fee.
For free, royalty-free music (though sometimes there is a one-time fee or donation suggested and sometimes it is only free for educational or non-profit, and in most cases attribution is still required), may I recommend:

Want to create your own music even though you are not a musician? Try MS Music Producer (downloadable from the link, but follow directions). This is an old Microsoft orphaned program I played around with back in the 90s, but it's not bad. You pick your own style, personality, instruments (and you can move the instruments for separation and prominence), set tempo and key, pick the 'shape,' indicate if you want an intro/ending or if it should be looping, and set the length of the piece. Hit compose, and it creates a song on the spot. Don't like it? Just hit compose again or change instruments or personality. You save your creations as MIDI files.It won't be confused with professional music, but here's a 30-second example I made. If you just want some background music, it'll do.

For more info, check this fuller listing of resources I have.

Now, how did I get off on this subject? I was looking for some music by Vector (long disbanded but still worth listening) which featured the guitarist Jimmy Abegg. What I stumbled upon was some music by Marty and Bob Abegg. For biblical studies sorts, does one of those names ring a bell? Yes, this is the same Martin G. Abegg who is one of the authors ofthe Dead Sea Scrolls Bible and of The Dead Sea Scrolls - A New Translation. See, biblical studies can be cool after all!

Finding Flickr photos you can use

I have run across a couple helpful tools you can use as you are looking for photos you can legally use. The first is a Flickr CC Search Toy pictured above. The CC is for Creative Commons which is a great way to define rights for sharing and using a picture (or any other work). Just because a picture is on Flickr, it doesn't mean you can legally use it. (By default, when you upload a picture to Flickr, all rights are reserved. I.e., no one can use it.) E.g., a search for "Capernaum" returns over 4100 results. Using this Flickr CC Search Toy, I only get 271 results, but I can see quickly and clearly what rights I have for using them. When you enter your search term, it returns thumbnail results.

Click on the thumbnail to see a small image and get the code to embed the photo with attribution on your blog. When you see the code you can toggle left/ right alignment and small/medium size. If you are allowed to you can edit a large size in picnik, you will need to handle the attribution for this yourself.
For my search for Capernaum, here is one of the results. Note that I was able simply to copy and paste the code provided.

Capernaum Synagogue by jcwrenn
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

The other tool is called Behold, and it holds promise but is limited for now.
As you can see, it allows you to search Flickr and specify images that are free to use (and modify) (and use commercially). That is great, and even better, once you get your results, it uses a screening technology to help sort by content. I.e., it can discern whether the pictures features faces or buildings or landscapes... So all this is good, but the limit is that Behold has already filtered out any pictures it determines are not "high quality." Instead of searching through the bazillion pics on Flickr, it's only looking through a little more than one million. For Capernaum, no results are returned at all.
[HT: CoolCatTeacher]
UPDATE (2008.01.28)
Thanks to the comment by Stephen Barkley, I did a bit more checking. I don't have a CC search that appears by default in my Firefox search. (Maybe Stephen will say more...?) I did check on Flickr, and note on the graphic above, if you click on the Explore menu option, the dropdown allows you to choose Creative Commons that results in the page shown. From here, you can choose the "See more" option based on any of the CC licenses, and then search for the image you want. Works great.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Syriac for OS X

I have been trying to keep a running list of Syriac resources HERE. This just showed up on the hugoye-list. (HT: Gareth Hughes):

XenoType Technologies have developed a language kit for OS X which extends Syriac language capabilities. The kit includes three fonts designed for AAT typesetting on OS X. Western vowels are not yet supported, but they will be. The fonts can be used with a Mellel keyboard and mixed with the Meltho fonts. The kit costs 59 USD, and a fourth typeface, western vowels and additional diacritics will be given to existing users for free when they're available.
More info and ordering HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BibleWorks New User Modules: Book of Concord, Strauss on ESV, Tacitus, Sophocles

I'm still learning the enhanced features of the new BibleWorks8, but if you are upgrading from BW7, there is really no additional learning curve to use the program. It's mainly providing enhancements, more tools, and more resources.
But in the meantime, the indefatigable Michael Hanel has updated and improved some user-created databases.

Sophocles in Greek and Tacitus in Latin and English: These were already available and the previous versions worked fine in BW7. Because of some naming changes, these are updates for BW8, and you should also grab the names file on the page as well.

Book of Concord: There was a previous version, but this is a major jump up from 1.3 to 3.8 Mb of data. This module works in both BW7 and BW8, and there are links from the module to Scripture and from Scripture to the module. (Cf. graphic below.) As Michael notes, it includes:

  1. German text of the entire Book of Concord
  2. An alternate English translation of the Augsburg Confession
  3. Materials considered “source and context” text, things like the 95 Theses, Heidelberg Disputation, the Saxon Visitation articles, etc.
  4. Text from Bente’s Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions and more.
Improving the ESV: Why the English Standard Version (ESV) Should not become the Standard English Version” a paper by Mark Strauss read at ETS: Richard Sugg took this paper and created a BW module which is now hosted on the BibleWorks blog. This paper generated a fair amount of discussion on the blogosphere. [BWBlog: For more on Strauss’s paper see his blog post at Koinonia as well as Bill Mounce’s response. See also Strauss’s paper as posted on the Better Bibles Blog (and the comments thereon).] Like the Book of Concord module above, what's so helpful about this module is that it is able to link the many Scripture references in the paper to the texts in BW so that they are just a mouse hover or click away. It also works in reverse, so that if you are reading a biblical text that is mentioned in the paper, a link to it will show in the Resource Summary List.

Thanks to both Michael Hanel and Richard Sugg for sharing these resources.

Virtual Walking Tour of Al-Haram Al-Sharif = Temple Mount

The January/February 2009 issue of Saudi Aramco [yes, the oil company] World magazine (v60 #1) features a virtual walking tour of Al-Haram Al-Sharif (i.e., The Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. [HT: G.M. Grena on biblicalist] It really is an excellent tour. HERE IS THE LINK to start the tour. You will find an easy to navigate site with full 360 views along with zooming. You can either let the tour run automatically or wander off on your own. The photography--by Michael and Barry Gross who also worked on the "Rome Reborn" project--is outstanding, providing a number views most tourists will never get. You can move around the views while listening to the audio guide or simply read the narration written by Oleg Grabar, Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of The Dome of the Rock (2006, Harvard) and The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem (1996, Princeton). There are 32 quality views in all, including both exteriors of the the mount as well as interiors of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa.
Though written primarily from the perspective of Islamic history, the narrative does make reference to the Solomonic and Herodian Temples that once stood on the Mount. The full tour takes about 30 minutes to see/hear everything. Highly recommended.
(Note that from the link above, you can also access similar tours of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More web search alternatives

I have been keeping a running list of search engine possibilities. MyGodSearch is a somewhat newer one that claims to search over 2000 web sites. It's basically a Google custom search that "searches religious and web 2.0 sites, for educational and ministry work." It also has a Delicious Tag Cloud search that has plenty of helpful categories.
Here's my running collection of search engines that I find useful.

SearchmeView in searchme: full | lite

For some other specialized search engines, here is a list of 13 sites for finding such things as music, videos, recipes, quotes, and more.

Web design stuff...

I've previously talked about some resources for creating one's own web site. Here are a few other resources you might want to check.

  • Roxer - "With Roxer you can create web pages without the hassle of HTM. It is a WYSIWYG website builder that lets you create extensive web pages." [HT: makeuseof] I tried it, and it is pretty much a matter of dragging things around on the active web page. Very simple to use.
  • Design guidance - Links to 5 sites that provide suggestions about design, typography, art, logos, etc.
  • Free Fonts - Links to 5 sites that are helpful in getting text fonts.

Photo stuff...

Cave 4 - Qumran
I enjoy digital photography as a hobby, and I have been trying to accumulate my own collection of biblically related pictures as well as noting other online sites. A few things I've come across of late...
The pics in this post have been processed using a technique called "tilt-shift." "Tilt-shift miniature style photos are pictures of real-life scenes that are manipulated to look like model photographs." Usually it takes a bunch of photoediting work to create such illusions (or else building your minatures!), but now TiltShift Maker makes it easy. I used it to create the pics you see. After uploading your pics, you make some adjustments, and it creates small but functional 640x480 pics. Play around with it to see how some pics work better than others (usually you want a decent depth of field), but I even tried this tilt-shift effect on the minature model of Jerusalem at the Shrine of the Book. [HT: makeuseof]
Scythopolis = Beit Shean: I was able to use some of my pics from this site to get some decent effects, but Paleojudaica notes that there is now multi-sensory multimedia project at the site providing tourists the experience the city more realistically.
  • Not relating to the Bible but still featuring some beautiful pictures, check out this choice of ten "stunning photo blogs" from makeuseof. I've been doing a 'photo each day' diary that I'll start posting some day... If I had known about it at the beginning of the year, I would have used Blipfoto. For other ways to work with your digital photos, check these sites. If you are using Flickr, here's a quick guide to creating a slideshow.
  • Picupine - Quick image sharing app that provides you with an easy way to share a bunch of images online. There is no registration process, simply select the images from your hard drive and click on the “Submit” button. [from makeuseof] Pictures remain available for a week and then automatically expire. Very handy.
  • Still need a free and handy print screen, capture tool? Try Gadwin PrintScreen 4.4. "Gadwin PrintScreen captures the contents of the screen with a single keystroke. The captured screen can then be sent to the printer, or saved to disk as a file in 6 different graphics file formats. Gadwin PrintScreen can capture the entire Windows screen, the active window, or a specified area, when the hot key is pressed. The hot key defaults to the PrintScreen key, but users may also define other keys to initiate a capture. Gadwin PrintScreen allows you to e-mail the captured images to recipients of your choice."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Logos Sermon File Add-in - Free 2009 Preaching Calendar Folder

I've slowly been organizing my sermons using the Sermon File Add-in in Logos. I have over 14 years worth, so it will take a while... In the meantime, if you are planning ahead, the 2009 Preaching Calendar Folders from Morris Proctor may help you and save some time. It's a free download that provides a folder for each Sunday of the upcoming year, so you can start adding notes and ideas as you go. There is also a brief video on the site telling you how to get started. Thanks to Morris Proctor Seminars for sharing.

I'm in a tradition that uses the Revised Common Lectionary, so I would prefer folders that are organized by Sunday in the designated Church year. Anyone done this already and want to share? I'd be happy to host it and give you credit.

Biblical Art, Photos, and Graphics

I just updated my page collecting resources for Art, Pictures, Music, and Video, particularly ones that are Bible- or Christian- related. What you may find particularly helpful is that I've been playing around with Google Custom Search, and I now have created a search engine that I think is the fastest way to find biblical art, photos, and graphics on the web. For a description of the sites it searches, you can go to the Art, Pictures, Music, and Video page and use the search engine from there, or you can test it out here:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Review of Biblical Literature adds blog

The Review of Biblical Literature (RBL) has been a great site for checking for reviews to get a quick sense of a book. You can search for books in the biblical field by title, author, subject, etc. RBL just announced that they now have their own RBL blog. The main function of the blog is that it will allow people to comment on the books and respond to the reviews. Bookmark 'em, Danno!

All things Google...

Just a bunch of Google-related stuff...
Back up your Blogger blog!
About a year ago, I had lamented the difficulty of backing up a Blogger blog in comparison to a Wordpress one. As reported on the Blogger blog, this problem has now been solved. They have also added more capabilities for moving, merging, and cross-publishing blogs. Back up your blog today!

Google closing down six apps
As reported on various Google blogs, Google is terminating or otherwise ceasing to support Google Video, Google Catalog Search, Google Notebook, Dodgeball, Google Mashup Editor, and Jaiku. (There are also rumors that Grand Central and Knol may be next.) So, does this matter to you? I suspect it doesn't matter much since closing these apps indicates that they don't much matter to anyone. If you read this article, you will see that there are alternatives for just about everything. Personally, I have been using and appreciating Google Notebook. It's been one of the places I've stored random stuff I've wanted to save on the net. (If you click that link, you will see the web page Notebook was able to generate. It contains an eclectic bunch of stuff that I want to use for class or blog about. There. I just blogged about all of it, and they are off my list of things to do...) Another tool I use regularly for quickly saving pages on the web is the Taboo plugin for Firefox. I have a couple Taboo buttons in my toolbar, and I simply click to remember the web page, and Taboo builds a page of thumbnails for me. It's quick and easy. Another tool I use regularly is ShareThis. Another button on the toolbar, but it's very easy to save and share items either sending them as email to social networks or posting to a blog. (I have a private blog that I send a bunch of stuff to.) If I were a bit more disciplined to use it, I also like SimplyBox since it allows me to save selections on a web page and to organize into 'boxes' the stuff I'm saving.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Biblical Art... in Google Earth!?

A new layer in Google Earth now lets you visit ultra-high resolution pictures inside museums. As reported on the Google Earth blog, a new layer in their Geographic Web collection provides a view of 14 pictures from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain. As you might expect, a number of them depict biblical scenes. Perhaps the most famous is this Fra Angelico one of the Annunciation. I've provided some idea of the kind of resolution available.

BibleWorks8 Installation Observations

Here are some observations as I installed BW8 for the first time yesterday.

The only things in the box are a Quick-Start Guide and the DVD. Having used the six pack of CDs in the past, the DVD is a huge improvement. I will run through the steps I took, but the Quick-Start Guide is helpful. It is short enough that someone will probably be tempted to read it! In addition to the installation instructions, it gives a quick orientation to the program that one really should read if you have not used the program before. You will see that if you have been using BW7, most things work as you expect in BW8. There was a major interface change from BW6 to BW7, but this worthwhile upgrade mainly features enhancements and new databases and tools.

The whole installation process took me less than 30 minutes, but a big chunk of that time was taken by the two reboots.

Before starting the installation, just to be safe, I backed up the following BW7 subdirectories: ase, databases, downloads, init, notes, userdb.

You need to uninstall BW7 use Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs. After running this process, I checked, and it appears that most of my BW7 installation and files is still there, including all the subdirectories I had backed up. (See this BW Forum entry by Mark Eddy for which files are removed.)
I went ahead and rebooted, installed the DVD, and proceeded following onscreen cues.
When it came to activating modules, I entered the code that is on the front of the Quick-Start Guide.
I had previously received via email the new codes for modules I had purchased. (BDAG, HALOT, CROY) By copying those codes in the email and then simply returning to the code activation menu, the codes were automatically pasted in. Very nice.

Do note that a number of databases have been removed in BW8 compared to earlier versions due to licensing matters. From the BW8 Help file, ch. 4:

The following list of databases contains items included in the base package of BibleWorks 7 which are no longer available from BibleWorks and which will not be included in the BibleWorks 8 package.

1. Word Pictures, A. T. Robertson
2. Basic Hebrew for Bible Study, Mark Futato
3. German Lutherbibel 1984

The following list of databases contains items included in the BibleWorks 7 base package which are no longer available in the BibleWorks 8 base package, but which may be purchased separately.

4. A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, Barclay M. Newman, Jr.
5. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger.
6. Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie.

If you are a registered user and are upgrading from BibleWorks 7 to BibleWorks 8, you will be sent free of charge a set of activation codes for items 5 and 6, and registered users upgrading from BibleWorks 7 or previous versions will be sent free of charge a set of activation codes for items 3 and 4.
Things seem to be working out, but according to reports on the BW Forum, some people are getting the previously purchased modules codes first, some are getting the BW7 module codes first, some are still waiting. Be patient for now...

Another reboot; everything set, so I start the program... First appears the splash screen, and it turns out that there are at least 6 different ones. (Still looking for those tater tots!) The Getting Started screen appears, and if you are new to BW, then looking at the short videos surveying the program are really worthwhile.

First impressions: the program looks nearly identical to BW7, and that's a good thing. I've appreciated the workflow concept, and it has been an efficient layout, in my opinion. The most obvious differences are:
  • the command line is a bit longer with the options now in a bar just below it
  • the results list has check boxes in front of the hits
  • the Analysis pane on the right where there are quite a few more tabs
  • there's a new, bluish button on the button bar that is the new ERMIE feature.
I ran a few simple tasks, and everything runs as expected and as fast as ever.

I'll post this for now, but in the next one, I will describe all the steps ones needs to take to migrate from BW7 to BW8, especially if you had customized BW7.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sites for Art, Pictures, Music, and Video related to the Bible / Christianity

I seem to have been asked enough about online resources for art, music, and videos related to the Bible, especially from a Christian perspective for use in churches. I collected some of the better sites with which I am familiar and have posted them online:

Sites for Art, Pictures, Music, and Video related to the Bible / Christianity

Leave comments if I'm missing some good stuff...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Database of Midrashic Units in the Mishnah

This is a case of a resource that has been on the web for some time (and noted by Jim Darlack way back in 2005), but the URL was changed, and I am only now discovering it.
Alex Samely of Manchester University wrote a book, Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah, but he also has an online database that accompanies it. Regarding
the online Database, he states:

This is where my Database of Midrashic Units in the Mishnah is published. The Database translates and explains all explicit biblical interpretations found in the Mishnah except for those in tractate Avot.

This database accompanies my book Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-827031-3). In the book I give a detailed modern description of c. 140 rabbinic techniques of interpretation. It is a systematic account which uses more than 100 Mishnaic passages for illustration.

The Database, on the other hand, is my full commentary on every single passage of biblical interpretation found in the Mishnah, in the order of occurrence. The principles of description and terminology used in this Database are those introduced in the book rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah.
Note that there are a number of ways to search the database. If you are looking for a specific biblical reference, you do need to use the exact abbreviation including the period. (E.g., Gen., Ex., etc.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

More Flashcards

I've previously posted about flashcard resources, especially for Greek and Hebrew, and Danny Zacharias at deinde has compiled the best list. I did just find another resource called FlashcardExchange which claims to be the world's largest flashcard library with over 16 million flashcards. You can study any of the sets already created and posted online (regular flipcard and also "memory" matching game), and with a free registration, you can create your own set of cards. With a one-time fee of USD $19.95, you can also print flashcards in multiple formats, export flashcards to Word or Excel, use advance study with Leitner card files, and create image or audio flashcards. Do note that the site is Unicode compliant, so full Greek and Hebrew functionality is possible.

  • There are quite a few Greek card sets, but only one that I found for biblical Koine using Greek Vocabulary from Baugh's A New Testament Greek Primer.
  • There are a ton of Hebrew card sets, however, connected with quite a few different grammars (Bartelt, Davidson, Van Pelt, Mitchell, Ethelyn and Stahl, etc.)
  • Also check the tags for Bible and Religion for addtional card sets for memorizing Scripture passages, studying the catechism, Bible, etc.
[HT: makeuseof]

Cairo Geniza Digitization Project

I'm simply trying to catch up with Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica who had noted the start of Cairo Geniza Digitization Project back in 2006. This latest post was prompted by an article in the London Times. As the article states:

The fragments are known collectively as the Cairo Genizah (or Geniza) from the Hebrew for a document-store. Nearly a third of the materials are scattered around the world in universities and research institutes; the remaining two thirds are in Cambridge.

Now, documents in all locations are being scanned and catalogued and within five years should be available to the world via the web, thanks to an initiative launched in 1999 by the Friedberg Geniza Project, an international foundation. The main player in the project is the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit (widely called the Geniza Unit), set up in the mid-1970s to manage the Cambridge collection.

The importance to Jewish studies research of this online archive is expected to be revolutionary. The Geniza is “the greatest single hoard of primary sources for the study of Judaism and Jewish history ever uncovered,” says the University of Manchester professor Philip Alexander.
Like the Sinaiticus digitization project, this is going to be a great resource. For myself, I became interested in it as I was working on my dissertation on Psalm 22 (LXX 21) and the Crucifixion of Jesus, because a palimpsest fragment of Origen's Hexapla of this psalm was among the documents found. [Taylor, Charles: Hebrew-Greek Cairo Genizah palimpsests from the Taylor-Schechter collection including a fragment of the twenty-second Psalm according to Origen's Hexapla (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1900)]

If you want more information, here are some links to follow:

Just some interesting stuff to check...

This is a catch-up posting of a bunch of stuff...

SEARCH ENGINES: Note that I have an earlier post where I have organized and commented upon a selection of the better search engines. I have now included Spific and Yahoo Glue I describe below.

SearchmeView in searchme: full | lite
Spific: This looks to be a very nice search engine utilizing Google Custom search. You can start by your own keywords or by suggested topics. You can also limit your search to various categories or timeframes. Once you run your search, you can further refine it by limiting to blogs, videos, forums, stores, etc. The Spific homepage has a short video to demonstrate how it works. [HT: Jane's]
Yahoo Glue Beta: It's basically Yahoo search with some helpful organization. I did a search for "Koine Greek," and it produced a page grouped into: a Wikipedia entry, Images, Yahoo Answers, YouTube videos, and, of course, a Sponsored Links box. There are some search queries it does not understand, in which case it will offer to search on regular Yahoo. I tried another search for "Bible software" and it produced a page with: a news box (that was not relevant), a Google Blog search (with two of four links to Logos blog posts), more irrelevant results from, and, of course, a Sponsored Links box. VERDICT: possibly helpful [HT: Jane's]

Gmail tricks: Now this might be useful. If you have a gmail account, and your address is, e.g.,, it turns out that you can add periods anywhere in your name, and the email will still get to you. ( or or etc.) You can also use the plus sign after your name and add any text you want as well, and it will still get to you. ( Use this trick to help organize mail you send to yourself or when you subscribe to sites. Read more about about this trick and how to use it HERE.

LectureFox: Some time ago I noted that a number of universities are posting lectures online for free. LectureFox has accumulated these lectures into a searchable database. Search for "testament" to get the Yale OT lecture or "religion" to get philosophy of religion lectures from Edingburgh and Vanderbilt. [HT: makeuseof and while you here, check out some of the other sites he lists. Teachers should be aware of the use of "fake files" and the plagiarism stuff. The site does also offer--after a free subscription--a collection of useful shortcut sheets for Firefox, Windows, Google, IE, etc.]

Wordle: Review of 2008
Top Tools for 2009 from Jane's: Jane Hart always has interesting stuff, and here is her list of promising tools for 2009. I can confirm that I like Cooliris and Sliderocket. I'll have to check out some of the others. Also check out her review of 2008, part 1 and part 2.

Logos Related Stuff: Logos has been promoting a free Kutless MP3 download (the song is decent enough to be worth taking up space on your harddrive) as a way to generate publicity for and interest in their Bible Study Magazine. Check it out. Also worth visiting is their ThePastor' which I found out about in one of their emailings. It is indeed directed to pastors to help them work with their congregations in developing a library. It is, as is to be expected, a promotional tool for Logos software, but there are some interesting findings in its Survey, some helps for pastors in working with their congregations in Budgeting Resources, comments on Library Development, the value of Bible Software, and some Recommendations including links to some good Resources.

ESV Study Bible for OliveTree BibleReader: It is now available and if you hurry (by 2009.01.04), there is a 15% discount.

Marking with Voice Tools: I've tried this in the past, namely, grading papers by adding voice annotations to digitally submitted docs. This blog post has some helpful hints and check the comments as well. [HT: Steve's]

Enough for now. More to come...