Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gadget Goodies

If you’ve been to our main site, you’re well aware that our focus is joyful Christianity and Leadership.  For awhile, we intermingled a few posts about tech things that assisted in those two areas.  That’s changed.  All the tech posts, along with anything else that doesn’t fit in Musings will be here.

It’s been awhile since we did much about resources to enhance our walk with God.  I was prodded in that direction by Ryan Bitters, who wrote a blog post about his top five Bible online resources.  I’m not going to duplicate his list.  You can read it at your convenience, here: http://bit.ly/WeeXKO.  There are some excellent sites.  But I responded to Ryan that I did very little Bible reading or searching online.  Today, I’ll explain why and share a few of my resources.

I have to admit that, over the years, I’ve become a geek.  If I need to look up a Bible verse or correlate a few passages, you’re likely to see that happen on my smartphone, a tablet or a laptop.  I’ve found some really good ways to do that.  All of them are on the device I’m using rather than online.  There are a few reasons why.
  1. All the online resources are easily accessible…until there’s no connection.  All it takes is a network disruption or an issue on the web to make the online resource unusable, just when you need it.  Or I may be someplace where connectivity isn’t what I’d like.
  2. Most online Bible resources are limited in how much they do and how it can be done.
  3. There’s plain old habit.  While I believe that my local software does more and does it more easily, I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot of shortcuts and tricks that give my installed software an edge, too.  And, maybe a subpoint, just knowing the basics of something will make it easier than something you don’t use that often.

Having said all that, we’re going to take a look at some of what’s available on multiple platforms, first.

My favorite is The Bible Study App from Olivetree Software.  There are computer versions for PC and Mac, Android phone and tablet versions (including Kindle Fire and Nook), iPad and iPhone.  Although it is only available through Blackberry World or one of the Android app repackagers, there’s also a port of the Android version for the Blackberry Playbook and BB10.  If there’s  still a copy of version 4 for Blackberry, that works on OS6 and OS7, although with fewer features.  So, what do I like about it, besides the extensive cross-platform usability?

The Bible Study app has a really good selection of free resources, from Bibles and Commentaries to classic Christian books.  There’s an even larger library of paid modules, that include some of my favorite Bibles and study tools.  And that’s where Olivetree really shines. 
  1. The app and one of the basic Bibles is free. 
  2. The free resources, of course, are readily downloadable.
  3. Olivetree’s paid resources aren’t necessarily always inexpensive, but they have frequent sales that often include some hefty discounts.
  4. The purchased modules go into your library list at Olivetree and all of them are usable on any and all of your devices that are compatible with their software.  You can load up your PC, Android tablet, and iPhone without having to repurchase the modules!
  5. There is a built in note taking function that can sync with your account at Olivetree.  So, you could start some notes on your tablet during church service, sync to Olivetree, open the app on your PC and sync the PC version, open that same note and expand the contents with some clarifications.  And there’s more.  Resync your PC so the updated version goes to the server.  Then, let’s say you go to a Bible study.  You can sync your smartphone app and be able to pull up that very same set of notes while you’re at the Bible study.
All of that puts the Bible Study App at the head of my list.  If you want more info or want to download one of the computer versions, you can go here: http://olivetree.com/.  The tablet and smartphone versions can be downloaded from the various app stores.

The oldest PC Bible software I know of is called Online Bible.  I’ve been using versions of it since the ‘80s.  Online Bible has its own set of benefits, many of which are based on its huge user base.  Besides a great set of Bibles and other resources, there are additional modules that various sources have added to the library without requiring a fee. 

One of the great things about Online Bible is that you can have multiple resources open at the same time and arrange then in whatever way works best for you.  You can make it your own.

While the free stuff is very extensive, you may want to buy the DVD.  The DVD isn’t cheap, but it’s not overly expensive, either.  There are several benefits to using the DVD.
  • It includes the modules that require unlock codes.  Those codes can be purchased separately.
  • The DVD includes modules not available for download.
  • And, probably most important, the DVD will allow installation on Mac OSX 10.6 or higher and on Ubuntu linux.
Depending on which modules you use, the Online Bible DVD plus codes can either be reasonably affordable or it can get pricey, but that’s up to the buyer.  There are some things that I haven’t seen available in most other Bible software.  And to have those resources available for linux, too, just might make Online Bible a “must have” piece of software.  You can get more information and pricing by going to http://onlinebible.net/.  It’s worth checking out.

We’ve been very detailed, so we didn’t get to cover as many possibilities as we would have liked.  We’ll get to more, next week.

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