Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pradis Discontinued

Zondervan announced in an email I received today:

Zondervan is discontinuing its Pradis® line of software. Technical support will continue until June 1, 2010 . Zondervan content can be found on multiple platforms and across many devices from e-book readers such as the Kindle and Sony Reader, to mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry. In 2010, new software titles will become available for use with Logos Bible Software.
Here's the full news release. (BTW, as part of this deal, if you have $1999.95 sitting around, you can buy 87 Zondervan books on Logos pre-pub. Accordance notes that they have had Zondervan resources already available for some time.)
Can't say that I am surprised that Pradis is closing shop... Pradis sort of occupied a middle ground between the high end products like Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos and the more popular programs like QuickVerse or WORDsearch/BibleExplorer. (QuickVerse appears to continue to develop the product, but I'm wondering how much longer they will survive too.) The only other Bible software programs designed for non-mobile systems that I think will hang on are the free ones like e-Sword, LaParola, The Sword Project, or OnlineBible. (The latter is something of a misnomer, since you do need to download the program.) Laridian appears to be carving out a specific niche by offering software that runs on all sorts of mobile devices as well as a Windows-based PCs, and it allows you to sync up between your various devices. I have to imagine that it is a struggle for companies delivering software for mobile devices (like Laridian and OliveTree) to keep ahead of the changes and support the variety of platforms, but they are delivering products for an expanding market. Unless we all move to the cloud and do all our Bible computing on the web...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Laridian PocketBible for iPhone reviewed on ZDNet and some free titles

Nice to see a biblically-oriented app being reviewed on a secular site like ZDNet. Basically a positive review with 25 images!
And while I'm mentioning Laridian, note that they have 11 "classic titles" that they are now offering for free for a variety of the platforms they support. (Palm, WinMo, WinPC, iPhone)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google acquires reCAPTCHA to help digitize books

This is good! Google just acquired reCaptcha and will be using it to help improve its book digitization project.

reCaptcha is:

a free CAPTCHA service that helps to digitize books, newspapers and old time radio shows. Check out our paper in Science about it (or read more below).

A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer. You've probably seen them — colorful images with distorted text at the bottom of Web registration forms. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs usually written to generate spam. No computer program can read distorted text as well as humans can, so bots cannot navigate sites protected by CAPTCHAs.

About 200 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent. Individually, that's not a lot of time, but in aggregate these little puzzles consume more than 150,000 hours of work each day. What if we could make positive use of this human effort? reCAPTCHA does exactly that by channeling the effort spent solving CAPTCHAs online into "reading" books.

Well now you should feel a bit better about the time you spend filling in those little boxes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WebCite - Citing web sites for the long run...

Passing along a good reminder by Tim Bulkeley who learned it from Suzanne McCarthy:
We've all probably faced at some time the problem of web pages that have simply disappeared or have been relocated. So what to do if you cited that page and now it's gone? Here is where WebCite is valuable. They state:

WebCite®, a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, is an on-demand archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites, or other kinds of Internet-accessible digital objects), which can be used by authors, editors, and publishers of scholarly papers and books, to ensure that cited webmaterial will remain available to readers in the future. If cited webreferences in journal articles, books etc. are not archived, future readers may encounter a "404 File Not Found" error when clicking on a cited URL. Try it! Archive a URL here. It's free and takes only 30 seconds.

A WebCite®-enhanced reference is a reference which contains - in addition to the original live URL (which can and probably will disappear in the future, or its content may change) - a link to an archived copy of the material, exactly as the citing author saw it when he accessed the cited material.

Click HERE to create a WebCite reference to your own material. Just making the web a better place...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Syriac Tools and Resources Updated

I've updated my page of Syriac Tools and Resources. Look for the NEW links. Especially note the Syriac flashcards and all the online repositories of digitized books.

What happened to alpha.reltech.org?

alpha.reltech.org was a great site for tons of old documents. (E.g., the Ceriani edition of Codex Ambrosiano of the Syriac Peshitta OT) It seems to have disappeared from the web, and I can't even resurrect it on any of the archiving sites (Internet Archive, Google, Gigablast, etc.)
Anyone know what happened to it? Did it move somewhere else?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorting Unicode Greek in MSWord

I was admiring the wealth of resources at Mark Goodacre's rejuvenated NTGateway, and I came across a nifty Word macro for sorting Unicode Greek on the Computer Software page. The link didn't work, but there was info on contacting its creator, Steven Craig Miller, and he quickly sent me the ZIP file with the macro text and instructions. He also gave me permission to share the file here. He wrote the routine back in 2006, but this is one of those little tools that I seem to need every once in a while, so it's worth highlighting again. (I can also now confirm that the macro runs fine MSWord 2007.)
The problem is that sorting Unicode Greek in MSWord will not return the desired results since it doesn't know how to properly order Greek words with accents and breathing marks. (I'm guessing there must be a correct sorting option in a Greek version of MSWord?) Steven's trick involves using a table with the words to be sorted, duplicating the column, running the macro which strips accents and breathing marks and turns everything into capitals in one column, then running the sort on that column, and finally, deleting the capitalized sorting column. Works great!
Fuller directions are included in a PDF in the ZIP file. The biggest problem, is probably getting the macro set up in MSWord 2007 and then finding that Sort button... (That button shown at the top of this blog entry is on the Home ribbon in the paragraph section. If you have the cursor clicked in the table somewhere, then you can also find it in the Layout tab ribbon.)
Thanks to Steven Craig Miller for sharing this helpful macro! HERE is the file.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My spiffy new Bibliobloggers / SBL Affiliate badge

Check out the Biblioblogger / SBL Affiliate badge in the column on the right. It's a bit of validation that biblioblogging is a worthwhile scholarly endeavor. Thanks to Kent Harold Richards of SBL and Jim West for working this out. As noted on the SBL site:

This partnership will make possible the fostering of biblical scholarship and communication among members of both groups. The affiliation will enable Bibliobloggers to meet and hold sessions in conjunction with the SBL meetings.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

... The quality of Google's book search will be measured by how well it supports the familiar activity that we have come to think of as "googling," in tribute to the company's specialty: entering in a string of keywords in an effort to locate specific information, like the dates of the Franco-Prussian War. For those purposes, we don't really care about metadata—the whos, whats, wheres, and whens provided by a library catalog. It's enough just to find a chunk of a book that answers our needs and barrel into it sideways.

But we're sometimes interested in finding a book for reasons that have nothing to do with the information it contains, and for those purposes googling is not a very efficient way to search...
The article is worth reading. It highlights some of the pitfalls and errors, especially in terms of dating and categorizing resources, that Google Books is embedding in its metadata while digitizing books. I totally agree... but I also figure that a lot of that stuff would be totally unavailable to me without Google Books. Moral of the story: The thorough scholar will continue to need to be diligent.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Software to decipher ancient documents

BTW, for those of you who may have this blog in your RSS list and have given up hope on seeing any post from here again... Since my last post on July 23, I have sold a house (cleaned, fixed, packed, moved), bought a house (moved in and still unpacking... got the Internet and wireless up right away!), brought our eldest to start college (more packing, moving, etc.), taught a 2+ week-long intensive Greek class, and am struggling to finish up some reports and a publishing project. I've got a whole bunch of stuff backed up, but here was a quick and easy link just to show I still exist. (>>> I blog, therefore I am?)

Excerpts from a Reuters account (and HERE is the full article):

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) – Researchers in Israel say they have developed a computer program that can decipher previously unreadable ancient texts and possibly lead the way to a Google-like search engine for historical documents.

The program uses a pattern recognition algorithm similar to those law enforcement agencies have adopted to identify and compare fingerprints.

But in this case, the program identifies letters, words and even handwriting styles, saving historians and liturgists hours of sitting and studying each manuscript.

By recognizing such patterns, the computer can recreate with high accuracy portions of texts that faded over time or even those written over by later scribes...
It concludes with this interesting observation:

Uri Ehrlich, an expert in ancient prayer texts who works with Bar-Yosef's team of computer scientists, said that with the help of the program, years of research could be done within a matter of minutes.

"When enough texts have been digitized, it will manage to combine fragments of books that have been scattered all over the world," Ehrlich said.