Category Archives: Technology

On Reducing the Size of my Physical Library

I’m a book guy. I love books. But my love for books combined with an addictive personality have caused me to run out of room to shelf my books many times over the years. I always find a way to make room and get more books but I’m at the point where I just don’t want to anymore.

There’s a reason for this. The reason is that I got an 12.9″ iPad Pro and reading on it isn’t a chore. Not only is it not a chore, it’s a pleasure. Taking notes on the iPad pro is also amazing. Whether I’m using GoodNotes 5 or PDF Expert, I love the freedom to annotate the text and the various options I have in annotating.

So I’ve been making a conscious effort not to purchase a ton more physical books over the past few months. I’ve also seriously considered getting rid of all the hardcopies that I also have digital copies of. I don’t know if I’d sell them or give them away but I find myself grabbing the iPad before I grab the physical copy.

And I’d also note that I have my entire digital library in my iCloud drive, on a thumb drive, and another couple of external hard drives. The point is that I can carry it with me everywhere that I go. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d feel this way but the day has come.

A couple of months back I went on a Kindle Book binge. They’re fine, and so are the books I have in my Books app. I also like the ebooks on ScribD. But my preference is PDFs for the better annotation and proper pagination. I don’t mind other formats if I’m just looking to consume content but if I ever want to cite anything for any reason then referring to a Kindle location just wont cut it since I know everyone doesn’t have my settings saved on their reading devices.

In any event, while my library continues to grow, I think it’ll grow in a different way. And I’ll be sure to let those who still read this blog know if/when I sell any books. I already have plans on parting with most of my Greek lexicons (BDAG, Louw & Nida, Thayer). We’ll have to see what else can go.

B”H

On ScribD

I’ve had a ScribD account for years. Over the years I’ve used the service to download PDF files of books and articles and it was a pretty even exchange where I would have to upload a document in order to download a document. But then they started to get greedy and I’d have to upload multiple documents to download a single document. That’s when I decided on taking advantage of the free trial.

So I signed up for 30 days and that gave me unlimited downloads without me having to upload anything. It was pretty good. I downloaded dozens of books and articles but time eventually got away from me and I exceeded the 30 day trial. Once I was charged I considered cancelling immediately but then I figured I might as well ride the month out and cancel at the end of it.

In the process of the next 30 days I began to realize what a great service that ScribD actually provides. Aside from thousands of PDFs for download they also offer ebooks of new releases in pretty much every category you can think of. I’ve always been a hardcopy guy but since acquiring an iPad Pro I’ve been doing a lot more with digital books. I love having the PDFs because they’re properly paginated and I can mark them up but it’s nice to be able to consult newer ebooks if I’m really just interested in the content and don’t need to accurately cite something.

In addition to that they offer audiobooks as well as lectures and podcasts. And when I say lectures, I mean good lectures, like Gordon Fee on 1 Corinthians! But the audiobooks are super convenient for when I’m driving or when I want to listen to something while I’m working. I don’t listen to a ton of music these days so having a seemingly limitless supply of material to learn from is fantastic.

In all, after two months of paying for ScribD, I’m fully satisfied that it’s worth every bit of the $9.99 per month and more! I’ve been recommending it to family and friends without the slightest inhibition and those who have taken advantage haven’t regretted it a bit. So subscribe today if you haven’t already. You’ll thank me for it, I promise.

B”H

Ecosystem

I’m freshly back from a five-day trip to Atlanta, the first three of which were spent attending a conference called Capacity: Reimagine. The conference was for church and marketplace leaders with the intended goal of inspiring them to think of new and innovative ways to grow their businesses, churches, and the kingdom of God.

One of the presenters, Yu-kai Chou, spoke on gamification, which is essentially taking game elements and applying them in non-game contexts. His talk was fascinating but the bit I want to talk about here really has to do with an off-handed remark that he made. He said that Apple is so successful because they sell the vision, not the product. Their competitors are concerned with telling you the specs of their machines and relying on the fact that you’ll choose the better hardware or software. Apple on the other hand doesn’t concern itself with specs; they sell us on the possibilities of what we can become by using their products.

I thought that was an interesting point and he’s correct. He noted that the last two ad campaigns that Apple did really had nothing to with what they were actually selling (I forgot the ones he mentioned). But I began to think about another aspect of Apple’s success, namely its ecosystem. I was anti-Apple for years. But once I got in I was hooked and now I can’t get out, or at least I don’t want to. I didn’t buy into a vision though. I became frustrated with my Windows machines’ severely limited lifespans and decided to give Apple a try.

I liked the hardware. I liked the software. What’s more is that I liked how they worked together. Sure, I could have gotten an equally or better spec’ed™ Windows machine for less money but it wouldn’t have worked as well. But it wasn’t just the way that my MacBook Pro’s hardware and software worked together that impressed me. It was the way that my MacBook Pro worked with my iPad, and then eventually my iPhone, and then eventually my Apple Watch, and then eventually my Apple TV, and then eventually my Air Pods that kept me.

Apple’s ecosystem is amazing and it’s what keeps me purchasing and using the products. Having everything synced through my iCloud account is incredibly convenient. Being able to load movies in iTunes (or now the TV app) and stream them to any Apple TV in the house is incredibly convenient. Being able to use iMessage on my computer, tablet, or phone is incredibly convenient. The Apple ecosystem is one of convenience.

I’m not out here evangelizing for Apple. If Windows machines and Android phones/tablets work for you then by all means, work with what you got. I’m simply pointing out that there’s something much more substantial than a vision that sold me and kept/keeps me on Apple.

B”H

Just Ordered, In the Mail, and Other Miscellany

So first off, my big CBD order that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is pretty much all here. I’m just waiting on Scott Hahn’s The Fourth Cup to arrive but that should be either today or tomorrow. I got 20 books and they were sent in various shipments. Hahn’s commentary on Romans in the CCSS series arrived damaged and the fine folks at CBD were good enough to replace it without requiring me to send them back the damaged copy.

In addition to those 20 books I also received the 4 used copies of various Hahn books that I ordered from different Amazon sellers. They’re all in good shape, thank God! And the free book that Hahn was giving away through the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology arrived as well.

My old friend Bryan L. made note of this year’s Fortress Press/Givingtons sale on Twitter and I took full advantage. Some might remember the trouble I went through last year with the sale when trying to acquire David Congdon’s big book on Bultmann. I went ahead and ordered a dozen books, namely:

The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century by Michael J. Kok

Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology by Oliver Crisp

Paul and the Stories of Israel: Grand Thematic Narratives in Galatians by A. Andrew Das

The Gospel of John and Christian Origins by John Ashton

Johannes Bugenhagen: Selected Writings, Volume I and Volume II

Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy edited by Paul Foster & Sarah Parvis

Persons in Relation: An Essay on the Trinity and Ontology by Najib George Awad

The Holy One in Our Midst: An Essay on the Flesh of Christ by James R. Gordon

Election of the Lesser Son: Paul’s Lament-Midrash in Romans 9-11 by David B. Wallace

The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul: Transformation and Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life, Second Revised Edition by Volker Rabens

What Is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture edited by Matthew Baker & Mark Mourachian

The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans edited by Rafael Rodríguez & and Matthew Thiessen

Chris Tilling raved about Rabens’ book so I’m sure it’s good since Chris would never lie. I’ve had my eye on Gordon’s book since it was published but it was always too pricey. I meant to get the 2 volume set by Bugenhagen last year after my brother from another mother Esteban Vázquez mentioned it but the whole fiasco caused me to be a bit gun-shy with ordering more than the two books I got. Hopefully I won’t have any issues with this order!

In other ordering news, I’ve had my eye on the ESV Scripture Journal New Testament set for a few weeks now. It was finally released yesterday and I proceeded to promptly order a copy from WTS Books. You can see a nice little promo video for the set on CBD’s website.

In addition to these items I got a copy of Gordon Fee’s Jesus the Lord According to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction, which is a distillation of his larger Pauline Christology. Aside from my love for all things Fee, I ordered this volume in order to get free same day shipping on a book stand (pictured below) and some 005 Pigma Micron pens. I had originally gotten 01 Pigma Microns for marking up my Bible but I found them to be slightly thicker than I wanted. So I went a size down. I much prefer the 005.

And that just about does it.

B”H

Got My Keyboard Back

I don’t believe that I mentioned this but the keyboard I got a couple months back to make music with broke after having it for only a month. I came home from work one day, turned it on, and was met with a non-functioning piece of hardware. I couldn’t return it to B&H whom I bought it from because it broke on day 32. They have a 30 day return policy. So I had to go through the manufacturer warranty process.

I contacted Akai once with no answer. I contacted them again with no answer. After a week or so I got two emails from different representatives. One contained instructions on what to do to see if I could get the keyboard working. It didn’t help. So I contacted that rep and told him it didn’t work. No answer, for like two weeks. So I contacted the other one and explained what happened. He responded promptly with instructions on how to get the whole thing going.

So I printed out the address label provided and spent $30 of my own money to ship the thing to one of their repair centers. The other day I got the paperwork on what was wrong (it was something on the circuit board) and what was done to fix it. They promptly shipped it back and now it’s in my possession. I’ll be plugging it in shortly to make sure everything is working properly and then I can get back to my burgeoning career as a music producer.

Just thought I’d share.

B”H

Closed Windows

As I’ve become more and more accustomed to OS X I’ve required Windows less and less. The truth is that I really never used it much on my Macs. I was running Windows in Parallels in order to use a couple of programs, namely Microsoft Word, Audacity, PowerChurch Plus, and BibleWorks 9.

Now I had Word for Mac and it was terrible. I think it was the 2010 or 2011 version but I honestly can’t remember. All I know is that it looked terrible and the functionality sucked. It was nothing like the Word I knew and loved from Windows. So I used my Windows version in Parallels with no issue. But the new version of Word for Mac is a genuine pleasure to use. It looks great and the integration with OneDrive is unbelievably convenient as I use Word on multiple computers and platforms (i.e., OS X and iOS). So Word in Windows was no longer necessary.

For about a year my personal MacBook Pro was also my church’s main computer. I was running all of our A/V stuff on my machine as well as keeping track of the church’s finances. I used Audacity to record sermons and PowerChurch Plus to keep record of everyone’s giving. Audacity was available for Mac but for whatever reason I had a buggy copy. It would crash every time I opened it so I decided to just download it for Windows and run it in Parallels. Well, I decided after quite some time to give it another try and I ended up with a stable version so I no longer needed it in Windows. PowerChurch Plus is still just for Windows (at least the copy we have) but the church now has its own MacBook Pro so there’s no need for me to use it on my personal computer.

And finally, there’s BibleWorks 9. This was the one program that led me to get Parallels and put Windows on my computer in the first place. I love BibleWorks, I really do. I used to use it daily in my studies and I used it for years with great profit. But when I got the Mac Accordance sent me a copy for review and over time I’ve come to use Accordance regularly and BibleWorks only occasionally. It grew to the point where I wasn’t using BibleWorks at all. Sad but true.

So in the end, I don’t need Windows these days. At least not on any of my Macs. I still have my old Toshiba running (I use it to download items and scan them for viruses). And for this reason I decided to remove it from my MacBook Pro. It was taking up nearly 60GB of space that I could be using for other applications and storage. So I guess the saying is true, when one Windows closes another door opens… or something like that.

B”H

WordPress Desktop App

I can’t remember if I saw Jim West mention this on Twitter or Feedly, but there is a desktop app for WordPress that allows you to blog without your web browser. I’m using it right now. So far, so good. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

Screenshot 2016-01-28 12.26.34

I’ll need to figure out how to justify text but I’m sure it won’t be too difficult.

B”H

In the Mail (and other goodies)

My copy of Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Last Supper arrived yesterday. I’m really excited about this. I remember reading about its existence nearly 5 years ago (right before reading Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist)! It’s great to finally have it in hand!

Skimming through the book tells me that it has much in common with his earlier popular level work. He has obviously fleshed out that work in much more detail. Michael Barber told me that there’s plenty more to this volume as well and that the stuff on the Historical Jesus is worth the price of the book alone. I’ll find out soon enough!

In addition to this book I got the Apple TV and Magic Trackpad 2 I ordered. The verdict is still out on the trackpad. It works well enough but it’s quite different from my Magic Trackpad 1. I like it but it’s going to take some getting used to. Brian Renshaw put me on to Better Touch Tool, which is an app that allows users to assign custom gesture configurations to their mouse or trackpads. I’ll have to put some serious thought into exactly what I want to do with it. So far I’ve set a top left corner click as the means to switch between keyboard languages.

The Apple TV on the other hand is an instant winner. It’s nice to be able to watch all the content on my TV that I was heretofore watching on my iPad. Granted, I already had a smart TV, but the apps were clunky and a pain in the neck to navigate. This thing is smooth as glass and allows for streaming media from my computers, iPad, or iPhone. I mentioned on Twitter that I’m still not a fanboy but I do like Apple products and live in its ecosystem.

And finally, I wanted to procure a pair of bluetooth headphones after seeing a review of a pair of Photive BTH3‘s on Unbox Therapy (a great YouTube tech channel). The only issue was that the reviewer noted that they were being sold for $40 and when I went to check on them they were being sold for $50. That irked me. Also, I began to read reviews and there were many people who complained that the charging port broke quickly. So I gave up on those.

Then a few weeks back I was in BJs and saw a pair of SkullCandy Hesh 2‘s for $70. That was a bit steep but they sounded great. I didn’t pull the trigger that day but I went back a few days later to discover they had sold out. So I gave up on those. Until today. I was getting something at BJs and I saw the same headphones marked down to $50 so I quickly snatched up a pair. I’m listening to them as I type and they sound fantastic!

B”H