Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bibloi.NET for the Web and Mobile Devices

Received the following notice today:
Silver Mountain Software is happy to announce the release of Bibloi.NET. Bibloi.NET is a web version of the Analytical Greek New Testament and the Analytical Lexicon. The program can display the AGNT as a regular text or as an interlinear text. There are several different translations and versions (Modern Hebrew NT, TR, and several other languages) which can be interleaved with either the plain or interlinear text. More alternate texts are on the way... Works great with the iPhone and other mobile devices!
Check HERE to see a sample of the text.
Many of you may remember Silver Mountain for its Silver Greek and Hebrew fonts and for its Bible Windows program--now known as Bibloi--which was at one time the premiere program for scholarly, original language work in the OT and NT. Bibloi.NET brings some of that to the web in an online and mobile format. Some things to note:
  • It provides access to the Analytical Greek New Testament (AGNT) and Fribergs' Analytical Lexicon. I don't think those are available anywhere else online.
  • As you can see in the graphic above, it provides a true interlinear with the Greek text, analysis, lemma, gloss, and translation. I don't know that there is anything exactly like that on the web.
  • For now at least, there is the drawback that the ASV is the only English translation available, and the only other versions available are Tagalog, Textus Receptus Greek NT, Modern Hebrew, and the Spanish Reina Valera.
  • It costs $49.00 which includes a one time setup fee and a one year subscription to the site.
For comparison, do note what you can do at the NET Bible site, at Biblos, and at the interesting Bible Web App site.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Biblical Art on the Web - Help?

I received an email message from Rolf Staerk who has done an incredible amount of work locating and organizing Biblical Art on the Web. It's one of the first places I recommend people check when looking for such art. He writes:

I regret to tell you that I have decided to pause my work on the Biblical Art site since, after about 10 years on the Net, I've received an email that puts into question my use of thumbnails.

I have always thought that since displaying thumbnails is ruled fair use of images in court, I am not breaking any law. Now I'm told by a copyright holder that I do. I'm not sure.

I'm seeking advice as to whether or not I may expect legal prosecution from my work, or not. IF YOU KNOW ABOUT A LEGAL EXPERT who may help me as a service in God's Kingdom (I'm not able to pay anyone), please let me know.

I've put approx. 6-8000 hours into this freely, so I feel very sad about the situation. About 1500 people use the service every day.

If I receive help on the above mentioned matter, I may be able to continue as before.

Anyway, the site will probably be up going for months yet, but there will be few updates, if any. I'm sorry.
If anyone knows more about such matters or can provide advice, it would be appreciated. Click on the Contact button on the Biblical Art on the Web home page to let Rolf know.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

glo Bible Review - Part 1

Received my copy of the glo Bible, and I will supply notes as I go about installing and using it.
The software comes attractively packaged, and the packaging itself is fairly eco-friendly. (Ie, not a large package and no plastic.)
Check out the system requirements: WinXP, Vista, of Win7 (no Mac yet, but there is a promise of a Mac version in late 2010); dual core processor; 1GB RAM (XP) or 2 GB RAM (Vista,7); video graphics card (ATI or NVIDIA w/ DirectX 9 support); Internet connection; DVD-ROM drive; and 18 GB free hard disk space. I'm all good for except for that last figure. That's a lot of space, and apparently it can't be run from the (3) DVDs. I'm going to have to clear off some pics and music... Even that won't do for my laptop with its 100Gb total. >> So, I've got an external hard drive at home for my desktop. It's almost 5 years old now (P4 3.00GHz, 3GB RAM, 256MB Nvidia graphics, WinXP SP3)...
Started installation and got an installer error message. Try again, but this time I uncheck the initial installer message that wants to prevent access. Installation first makes sure I have minimum system requirements. OK! Registration goes fine, except that it takes a couple tries to activate and register using the code. It helpfully pops commonly confused characters, but I have to erase everything to make it work. (Ie, I can't just correct the one character.) We're good... Select Install Path, and I set up a location for it on the external hard drive. It's just a USB 2.0 connection, so hopefully it won't slow things down. Now it makes sure I have the latest DirectX. That I don't, so it installs that. Then checks for latest MS SQL Server Compact. That I don't, so it installs that. Tests the Media Player. OK. Now we're ready to install, and the instructions indicate that it may take "1-3 hours (or more)." I'm supposed to close all other programs, but I'm living dangerously and keeping this Firefox window open to record my progress. As it installs, it will display a bunch of tips... Then it looks for and installs updates from the web...Back later...
Well, only 15 minutes later, and it says "Glo is ready to run." I've only inserted the first DVD, so probably more to come...
Program starts right up, and indeed I do get the option to "Explore Glo Now!" or to "Continue installing Glo media" which will take 1-3 hours. I'm going exploring!
Here's the opening screen. These are the "lenses" that provide the overall orientation: Bible, Timeline, Atlas, Topical, Media, and MyGlo.

I've been working with Mark 4.26-29 lately, so I click Bible, and find it very easy to navigate to the book and chapter. There looks to be quite a few ways to navigate to a text with a variety of buttons, but I don't see any direct reference entry option. The text shows up like this:

Nice. Most things work via a drag and move. (If my computer had a touch screen, this would be very easy to navigate.) The scroll wheel will magnify/decrease display when appropriate. Moving the mouse over any section pops up more options: changing text size, navigation buttons, changing from mouse navigation to text selection, popout links back to main menu, page snapshot, search, bookmark the page, etc. I note that I have the NIV translation (the only other option for now is KJV) with NIV Study Notes at the bottom. Clicking on the study notes or photo brings up another page like this with articles, photos, artwork, virtual tours, maps, and interactive documents that are attached to this passage. Articles are from the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. My spot can be saved as a "session" at any time to return to it.
Right clicking on a text brings up more options:

It's another way to move around or to add notes to a verse. (There's also a journal one can write within the program.)
Looks like I will need to take the time to load up the rest of the content to do much more. So I will come back to this later.
First impressions? >>
I read a lot of mixed reports about the program on glo's Amazon page, but, other than the minor glitchy things with installation, I'm not experiencing any problems. My system certainly isn't state of the art, and I am using an external hard drive. (I can understand the desire to get fast access to media by requiring hard drive installation, but still, 18GB is a lot of space...) The text display is fast. The other graphical stuff is not 'fast,' but at a few seconds for the visuals to appear, it's certainly acceptable. While the program won't be confused with a heavy duty Bible software package for original language study, it is a diverting and entertaining way to get around. I suspect that many users will start out with a text and end up wandering around from some interesting aspect to the next. I suspect this is the kind of thing most casual readers are hoping from a Bible software package, so I am (at this point) comfortable recommending it. I'd like other options than the NIV or KJV, but I suspect that was a natural marketing decision based on what Bibles are best sellers today. The 1975 Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (which sells for $125) is not my favorite, but it's better than the public domain dictionaries floating around the web or included in other software packages. Selling for about $50, the glo Bible is not that much more than a bound study Bible. You certainly are getting a value when you consider the reference and media materials included in the package.

I'll finish my report later after loading the rest of the media and playing with it a bit more.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary... and some technological aspects of publishing

This post is not intended to endorse or denigrate the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary OT series. Rather, I'd like to note a couple 'technological' aspects of this work that reflect the evolution of publishing today.

First, as you would expect, you can buy the collection as a hardcover set. Meanwhile, it's also in development as a digital resource for the Logos/Libronix platform. (I'm not sure whether it will be available for Accordance, but they do have a working relationship with Zondervan also.)

Second, as a way of promoting the series, Zondervan has been publishing excerpts of it on Scribd. The most recent is the release of the commentary on Daniel by Ernest C. Lukas. (This is probably only available for a limited time. You can also check out Zondervan's excerpt from Kostenberger's A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters.) Scribd is an interesting presentation format that allows you either to scroll down through the pages, view it as a book where you turn the pages, or view it as a slideshow a page at a time.

Third, you will note that this background commentary is highly illustrated. And from where did many of those pictures come? (Cf. the Acknowledgments, pages vi-vii.) In addition to ones from publishing sources, some come from the usual suspects that are probably familiar to those who inhabit the web, e.g., Todd Bolen at BiblePlaces or Tim Bulkeley's eBibleTools. The first listed in the acknowledgments are those from ... Wikimedia and Flickr

So, publishing a book today may include getting quality resources like pictures (free, no less!) from the web. It is not simply a matter of getting a hardcover out the door, but it also involves promoting it by sharing digital excerpts and publishing is simultaneously in a digital edition. These things have really only become feasible within the last 10 years.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009 Review of Biblical Studies and Tech Tools

Tech stuff is moving so quickly, but it is helpful to review and get a bit of perspective on what's happened over the past year in the area of biblical studies.
I'm sure I missed something important that happened in 2009, so leave a comment!

On a more personal level, I'm still trying to figure out the future of seminary education (here and here) and, in particular, its relation to technological resources. 
I am also finding that it is very hard work trying to keep up with all the developments as well as simply keeping up with blogging. A move in August kept me from blogging that month, and a publishing commitment kept me from doing anything in December. Even compiling this year end review means I'm procrastinating on another project I need to do... No new year's resolutions in this area, but I am still committed to keeping this thing going. I'll probably have to narrow my focus a bit, but I believe that this kind of blog does provide a worthwhile contribution to the field of biblical studies.
Now, when I get some time, I hope to give some predictions about 2010!