Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bibliographic and Research Tools - Summary

I've more thoroughly summarized some of these resources here.
Bibliographic Tools (organizing bibliographic data and exporting for use in footnotes and bibliographies)

Research Tools (especially looking for Scripture references in articles)
  • Index Theologicus at Tübingen - Biblical scholars should especially note the Scriptural Reference page. It a great help for finding articles on a specific verse.
  • Reference Search: Explicit Searches on Implicit References. This new search engine only works to search references to biblical/early Xn/rabbinic texts. (Check out the Reference List of works it is cataloging.) It will not direct to you online versions of those texts. It will find articles that mention that specific text.
Other resources to try:
  • Add Search Providers to Internet Explorer 7 or to Firefox (right click on search box)
  • Language Resources
  • Google Language Tools -Resources in 14 languages; can search pages in other languages; provides rough translations for web pages or text
  • lingro - Includes dictionaries (6 languages, and since it is open content, users can add to the dictionary and also create their own word lists for review), a web viewer, and a file viewer. Works by rendering every word on a page or document as clickable and providing a popup translation of choice.

Searching, Reading, and Downloading Online Books - Summary

For more details on some of the following listings as well as links to other resources, check this SBL article and this blog posting.

Online Library and Research Resources

I've posted before (here and here) on online library and research tools, and there are a couple new items I can add to the list.

  • lingro - This new site includes dictionaries for English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Polish (and since it is open content, users can add to the dictionary and also create their own word lists for review), a web viewer, and a file viewer (using your own .txt, .pdf, or.doc files). It works by rendering every word on a page or document as clickable and providing a popup translation of choice. (It is similar to what you can do with the Greek texts on Re:Greek=zhubert.) Google Language Tools provides other ways to deal with translation and includes 14 languages, but this lingra provides a great integration and customizability of resources. For a fuller review of lingra's advantages, check this blog review.
  • The Universal Digital Library - This is a new digital collection that includes books that are not available in either GoogleBook or Microsoft LiveBook. (E.g., Robinson's 1915 Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Grammar is only available here.) There are more than a 1.5 million books now digitized, and it reflects more of a global collection with many books in Chinese, Arabic, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc. For some perspective, there are 2608 English language books in "Religion," 687 returns for "Bible," 527 for "Greek," and 114 for "Hebrew." For books still under copyright, viewing is limited to 20%, but most books are by far older ones. Books are stored in a variety of formats: some are HTML, some are TIFF (a TIFF plugin can be installed, but on my system, QuickTime properly rendered the documents), and some are in DjVu which requires a free, downloadable plugin. For more information, read this article.
For ease of referencing/bookmarking, I will publish two summary posts which bring together the resources for online books and for doing research.

Unicode Greek: Text Critical and Little Used Characters

I had to do a bunch of typing in Greek today that included text critical symbols, and I found myself needing to keep checking a reference chart I had composed for myself. Here are some helps for you:

  • First, check Rodney Decker's NTResources Unicode page and especially note the section on Unicode Input in Word. (It is more easily read if you use the PDF version he provides.)
  • You will especially want to note that entering these characters is most easily done with the "ToggleCharacterCode" switch which involves hitting ALT+X right after entering the character code. For example, in MSWord, to get the Majority Text symbol, use the Cardo font, type 1D510 and then immediately hit ALT+X to get the Fraktur M.
  • This will pretty much only work with the Cardo Unicode font. (Logos has a LibronixApparatusFont that includes the characters, but it is not a Unicode font, and it is not free for distribution. SBLGreek will also be released someday, but in the beta version, even it does not have all the characters.)
  • I regularly use the BabelMap software he mentions.
There are a few characters that Decker does not include in his listing:
  • For the family symbol, use 0192. (You can also use an italic f in TimesNewRoman.)
  • Digamma: 03DD
  • Sampi: 03E1 or 03E0
  • Stigma: 03DB or 03DA
  • Alternate Beta: 03D0
  • Alternate Theta: 03D1
  • Alternate Capital Upsilon: 03D2
  • Koppa: 03D8
  • Aleph = Sinaiticus: 2135 (use this in left-to-right text; in Hebrew text use 05D0)
  • Broken Vertical Line: 00A6
  • Dagger: 2020
  • Dotted Cross: 205C

Hope this helps...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New library management tool

I have previously posted about library management tools, and John Kendall has just pointed me to Steffen Jenkins site where he is providing a free, java-based, apparatus builder based on the SBL Handbook of Style. It also integrates with Nota Bene's Ibidem. It is in beta for now, but it works quite well and offers excellent ways of simplifying bibliographic entry, linking to other resources, and generating footnotes and bibliographies according to the SBL guidelines. It is worth checking out.
BTW, while you are on his page, you will see that he also provides "Yet Another Vocab Tester designed to aid the learning of vocab and grammar, especially for Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek."
Both are fully Unicode compliant.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Still more web and media tools for educators

I have posted previously (here and here and here) about a variety of tools I use for working with graphics and video for educational stuff. Here are some updates and great free offers!
Screen Capture:

  • I had previously recommended the FastStone Capture program. Since that posting, the latest version (5.7) has become Shareware instead of Freeware. The clever web surfer will find the last free version (5.3). It is the first tool I use.
  • TechSmith's SnagIt is an outstanding screen capture program with lots of extra features. It is able to capture scrolling windows.
Video Capture:
  • I had previously looked at a variety of lowcost screen/video capture programs. (WME, Wink, Zentation, VCASMO, etc.) It really can't get too much easier than Jing, however, and it is free. Download the program, set up a free account, and record in a variety of ways. You can even store the video online. HERE is an example of a Jing video of a BibleWorks procedure I had demonstrated in class using Parallel Windows and the Text Comparison tool.
  • TechSmith's Camtasia Studio screen recording program is another fine product. The first time I tried it, I had no problem capturing a region of the screen along with microphone audio and a webcam feed. Very impressive...
UPDATE1: Read the comments to this post, especially if you are a Logos user and need to capture views of long windows.
UPDATE2: Here is a post on "Further Investigations into Free Screencast Software." It is noted there that the latest SnagIt is greatly improved. It also provides a comparison of Jing, Camtasia, and CamStudio. Also on that blog are "Quick Tips for Improving Screencasts."
UPDATE3: "Learning to Use Camtasia" online tutorial.
UPDATE4: (2008.02.11) Yet another nice, free screencasting tool: FreeScreenCast

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Boston Biblioblogger Bash

I'm hoping to be at the SBL in Boston next year, so I'll join the refrain started by Jim West and carried on by Tim Bulkeley hoping that some "biblical studies publisher" will sponsor a bibliobloggers bash. Tim suggests that we link to Jim's initial post and include "biblical studies publisher." I also think the term "Biblioblogger Bash" is rather catchy! Pass it on...

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Christian Computing Magazine articles

The new CCM has been posted online. The whole magazine is online, but of particular interest:

  • A review of WORDsearch 8: Quite a positive review (but CCM is more often enthusiastic than critical...)
  • e-Sword Update & Serious Language Tools: Notes some new features in the latest update (7.8.5) which includes Robertson's "Gospel Harmony" (it is really a synopsis tool and not a harmonization of the Gospels) and the availability of some new modules such as a graphics module, Shepherds 1923/6 Historical Atlas. (Also online HERE) There is also a pointer to eStudysource for buying other modules. The article also includes some comments on strengths and features of Pradis and WORDsearch.
  • There is an article by Craig Rairdin whom many of you might recognize of the founder/developer of the original QuickVerse. He discusses the development of the STEP platform... and its eventual demise. (I still have a couple STEP documents, and I now use eSword which has a STEP reader. WORDsearch/BibleExplorer also is able to read STEP documents.) It is an interesting article discussing the attractiveness of a common data format, but he describes why it is not likely to happen among Bible software companies.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More font stuff: Gentium

SIL continues to work on their very nice Gentium font which does include a lovely polytonic Greek set. They have announced a new, preliminary Basic and Basic Book set, but these don't include Greek or Hebrew characters.

Logos 3: Always something more...

The Logos Blog recently posted a notice about some new training videos they have posted online. I find these to be well done and quite helpful. They also have been a good way for me to discover more of Logos' capabilities. So, after looking at some of the videos and the Top 20 New Features of Logos 3, I have some observations:

  • I had not been aware of the History (Go > History) feature. That is very helpful for tracking my work.
  • I've been working with the visual markups. I like how easy the Visual Markup Palettes are to customize. While highlighting text in a variety of ways is great, the main reason I have to use it is to work through Synoptic parallels. One would think, however, that this would work best using one of the Parallel Passages and Harmonies resources like the Aland Synopsis, but markup is not allowed in that resource. That's a problem that I hope Logos addresses.
  • The Bibliography tool (Tools > Library Management > Bibliography) is great. I also appreciate that one of the formatting options is the SBL Handbook of Style. I also really like the Remote Library Search (File > New > Remote Library Search). Yes, there are other ways to Google and find books and zotero has become a great tool for me, but this is a nice way to search a variety of national and especially theological libraries and then generate an exportable bibliography.
  • I do regularly use the Lectionary Viewer. It's a great way to pull together the texts for an upcoming liturgical day. If you know some XML, it is also very nice to be able to create one's own lectionary schedule. (There is actually a lot one can do in Logos with some XML knowledge, such as the Jackson's Synopsis Tables.) One major problem, however, one that has been lamented on the Logos newsgroup, is that the Lectionary addin does not come with the Original Language Library, and it can't even be purchased as an addin.
  • Some things that have sped up my work in Logos: The GO bar (= Quick Navigate Bar: right click on the top tool bar to enable it), the quick Find (CTRL-F in a resources), the Reference Browser (CTRL-R), and the Bible Speed Search.
Enough for now...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WORDsearch 8 released

Though it is not yet posted on their own site, is promoting the new version 8 of WORDsearch. You can check out the list of enhancements. It's not really designed for academic/scholarly use (Greek/Hebrew only have limited resources). It is no doubt helpful, especially with its combination of translations and linked resources, but I continue to wonder just how much real good a lot of these software packages actually provide when they bundle so many old, public domain resources. I suspect that because these resources are basically free for them to include, it is attractive to beef up the library with this stuff.
Easton's Bible Dictionary is from 1897, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) was first published in 1915, and the ubiquitous Matthew Henry's Commentary was written in 1708-1710.
No doubt Matthew Henry was state of the art in the early 18th century, but I wonder if many readers who find that text online or in these software packages realize how old and outdated it is. Sure, there are still some valid observations that can be learned from these texts, but they really need to be checked against the new discoveries of the last 300 years!

More on Greek fonts

Okay, so I'm fascinated with fonts... Via a comment by Rick Brannan on a posting about fonts by Phil Gons, I just discovered the Greek Font Society site. There a quite a few Greek fonts (TrueType and OpenType, also some MacOS) organized by century, and they are free to download and use. I particularly like the GFS Elpis and the GFS Neohellenic fonts in the 20th/21st century group. They are both full polytonic Greek sets with matching latin sets. Still, despite having all these beautiful Greek fonts, I find myself sticking to Cardo for my Greek and Hebrew, because:

  • it's free
  • it works well for print and display
  • I require my students to download it, so I know they have it and there won't be font glitches
  • it includes both Greek and Hebrew (as well as a complete latin set), so it's one less font to mess around with.
BTW, need some heiroglyphs (Egyptian, Cretan or Anatolian) or Phoenician or Akkadian cunieform? Be sure to check out Unicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

OliveTree updates for PDAs

I have a Dell Axim x51v (now a discontinued product, sad to say...), and I have it well equipped with a number of biblical study resources. I've used OliveTree Bible Software products on my first Palm Pilot (and they provided for me to upgrade the software and texts for my Axim for free) when they were about the only ones that offered the NRSV on a PDA platform. I also have used their BibleReader for my Hebrew MT and my Gramcord Greek NT with UBS dictionary. As with a number of other such PDA products, the BibleReader is free along with quite a long list of free downloads. Most of them are public domain texts, but there are numerous Bibles (including the NET Bible with some notes, the Vulgate, and some early Greek texts) and other books. They do have occasional posts on their blog, and some recent entries indicate that they are moving to Unicode for the Hebrew MT. Also of note, Josephus and Philo in English are now available as free downloads.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Qumran / DSS Biblical Mss in Accordance and Logos

Logos has the "Qumran Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls Database" as a pre-publication offering.

The Logos Qumran Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls Database is the first database of the Qumran biblical scrolls. Features include:
  • Morphological tagging and English glosses for each word.
  • Fresh transcriptions of every biblical Dead Sea Scroll, including Greek fragments. The Logos transcriptions are substantially the same as those found in the DJD volumes, but are the result of a fresh, expert analysis that takes into account scholarly work done on the scrolls since the DJD volumes were published.
  • Parallel visualization schemes with other manuscripts.
Pre-pub pricing is $79.95. Sounds great, but it is still under development, and I'm not sure it will be the first...
Accordance just announced the release of the "Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Manuscripts" which will be available at the SBL meeting in November 2007. (I was alerted to this by the notice on PaleoJudaica.) Manuscripts are presented in both canonical and manuscript order. Price is $150.
Both the Logos and Accordance versions are based on The Discoveries in the Judean Desert transcriptions with updates, so I'm thinking they are pretty much the same.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My Yahoo! "Bible Study"

I've used My Yahoo! as my home page for a couple years now. It's worked well with lots of customizable features. This week, a banner on my page encouraged me to try out the new My Yahoo! Beta. Well, I tried it, and I don't like it. (Less customizable, ugly color choices, obtrusive ads...)
BUT, as I was trying it out, I found I could add a new module called "Bible Study." It creates a new page that looks like this:
This is the automatic content that appears, and the various sub-modules are not customizable. (You can only select to show, adjust update frequency, or delete.) It is an 'interesting' collection, to say the least. If you click/enlarge the graphic, you will see that you get:

  • ESV: The One Year Bible
  • Daily Bible Readings (KJV)
  • Bible Study Reflections (Various content from 3-5 months old)
  • Pastor Jon's Blog (A little searching discovers that he describes himself thus: "I am the Pastor and church planter of a Bible teaching church in New England [Springfield Calvary Fellowship in MA]. I am also a entrepreneur engaged in a computer based business.")
  • Christian Links: Bible (Some more 'interesting' choices...)
  • (Links to their podcasts: this one actually does look interesting to me)
  • Christian Blogs (Including links to Joel Osteen' church, "Follow Old Or New Testament," "Was Paul a False Apostle," "Why Are Christians Fat")
Okay, maybe this says more about me, but I'm really puzzled who decided to select these 'interesting' pieces. BTW, I decided not to keep this new module and reverted to My Yahoo! alpha.

UPDATE: I looked at the My Yahoo Bible Study again, and found that there are a few sub-modules that can be edited. There is an integrated RSS reader, and one can choose what subscriptions appear, so that's good. Some of the other automatic links (Christian links and reflections sections) are not editable and reflect those 'interesting' choices.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bible Commentary Series

Logos has announced the pre-pub pricing for the Reading the New Testament Commentary series. (Pre-pub pricing means that you can buy it before it is published at a reduced cost.)
This is one of the better commentary series, but I've not been much of one to buy a whole series. Yes, they look nice on one's bookshelves, but, in addition to the considerable cost of buying a whole set, there is oftentimes so much variety of quality within a series. I do prefer buying the electronic versions of such works (so much for looking good on the bookshelf...), but I am inclined to buy individual volumes. To get a sense of the approaches of various commentary series, I recommend checking out Logos' "Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries." For suggestions on individual volumes, I have posted some lists, including ones compiled by myself and my colleagues here at LTSG.

And now for something completely different...

Here is something entirely silly... ( This is a Word DOC file.)
I use Croy's grammar for teaching Greek, and in Lesson 27 he covers interrogative, indefinite, relative, and indefinite relative pronouns and adjectives. Just for fun, I composed a short dialogue to introduce these forms in the spirit of the old Abbot and Costello "Who's on first..." routine. Anyone (an indefinite pronoun!) is free to use and adapt it as they see fit!

Friday, November 2, 2007

New BibleWorks Classroom Tip 1.8 > Taking Notes in BW7 and Logos

An exceedingly helpful new Classroom Tip entry on the use of the User Notes, Editor, and Report Generator has been posted by the BibleWorks folks.
I have not yet really done much with the note taking features of either BW7 or Logos. From the little I know:
BW7 is helpful in allowing for notes connected either to a chapter or to a verse in addition to a general editor for working on thematic entries. I do like that it has plenty of editing options allowing for customization of formatting and linking to texts and other resources and that all the notes are saved as standard RTF files. (RTF=Rich Text Format is a standard document format that virtually any word processor can handle.) What I don't like is that the polytonic Greek keyboard I use (the Logos one - for more on keyboards, cf. this entry) does not work well. (It doesn't like accent and breathing mark entries. Logos and BW7 not getting along? No, it's a matter of how precomposed and combined characters are handled.) I can work around that issue with cut/paste, but what most bothers me is that there is hardly any visual reminder that I ever made notes on a chapter or verse. Since the editing windows are tabs in the right column, and since I usually am using the Word Analysis or Resource Summary tab, I never notice whether I have taken notes or not. The little "c" or "v" (for chapter or verse) that appears on the tab just is not sufficient for me.
I have used the notetaking feature in Logos even less. It appears to be rather versatile, but maybe with that complexity comes confusion that has generated many requests for improvement on the Logos newsgroup. Without having spent enough time to figure it out and due to my don't-read-the-manual-unless-I-have-to approach, I'm a bit confused about the difference between a "general note" and a "notefile" note, though it appears to be similar to the distinction between the Editor and User Notes in BW7. It is nice to attach the note to all biblical texts or only to one specific one. (I.e., one can choose to have a note show up attached to every version of a biblical text or only to a single one. You select the General or the Notefile attachment and then choose to add to an "Article.") Though opening the note window seems to take a while to be ready for actually typing in notes, I do like that the note is clearly visible as an attachment icon to the text. (But when I changed the name of the default NoteFile1 to something more intelligible to me, then all the attachments disappeared. UPDATE: exiting and restarting the program fixed it.) I like the way that one can organize notes within a note file (sort of like creating an outline structure for the notes), and I also find highlighting of text to be much easier in Logos than BW7. For me, however, a significant problem is that the Logos notes contain enough (XML?) coding so that they cannot be easily edited in standard word processing programs.
BW7 has a built-in way to search all of one's notes to find anything. I cannot find anything like it in Logos, but one could search the Annotations subdirectory or install the user-created Dominotez program which works well.
I have an upcoming project due of providing study and commentary notes to the Gospel of Mark. At this point, I plan to write my notes in BW7 primarily because I can use the RTF files more easily in MSWord.
Anyone have more experience in taking notes in either program, please leave a comment!