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  News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Monday, February 25, 2008  

Shortcuts and Timesavers, Part 1

Whenever I do a training seminar, it's always interesting to me how excited people get over basic shortcuts and timesavers. Few people will use the construct window to create complex grammatical searches, but everyone likes to save time and streamline their workflow. Here are the first in a series of tips that should help you do just that.

Launch Accordance Faster. Whenever you launch Accordance, you're presented with a splash screen containing the program's lamp logo and copyright information. This stays on the screen for a second or two to give you time to read it. But let's face it, once you've seen it once you don't need to see it again. You can do two things to dismiss this splash screen more quickly so that you can get busy studying the Bible. First, you can simply click on the splash screen to dismiss it as soon as it appears and move straight on to your default startup. Even better, you can turn the splash screen off altogether. To do this, simply go to Preferences, select the General settings, and check the box which reads "Suppress opening splash screen." The next time you launch Accordance, you'll go straight to your default startup and shave a couple seconds off the launch time.

Open new modules faster. Whenever you open a new text or tool in Accordance, a window appears showing the copyright information for that text. Again, you are given a second or two so that you actually have time to read it. This copyright info only appears once per session, so if you open Easton's Bible Dictionary ten times during a session, the copyright info will only appear the first time. Still, if you ask me, that's one time too many. So turn it off by going to the General Preferences and checking the box labeled "Suppress opening text information."

Close windows faster. Whenever you close a window in Accordance, Accordance asks you if you would like to save the contents of that window. If you always decline to save your windows, why be bothered with that annoying alert? Again, you can go to the General Preferences and check "Suppress save warning for all windows."

If you haven't taken advantage of these options, I'd encourage you to do so. I'll cover more timesavers and shortcuts in upcoming posts.

Thursday, February 07, 2008  

Buried Comments on Blogs

In contrast to the inflammatory exchanges on some of the news sites which I frequent, the comments on our blog posts are usually pretty tame (for which I am thankful). However, I am surprised when people comment on really old blog posts (yesterday it was an 18 months old post) as if anyone is likely to see or care about the comment. This is OK on the Forum, but not a good idea on the Blog.

Here's the difference: on the Forum when you add a reply to a topic, that topic jumps to the top of the list in that forum, as well as appearing in Today's Posts and New Posts. Thus anyone browsing the Forums is likely at least to scan the title and be aware of your reply.

The Blog, in contrast, is strictly linear. While you can search it for keywords, you cannot look for new comments. Only David and I are notified of each comment posted (and we do try to reply where necessary). Thus the comments to older posts are essentially buried, and there is not a lot of point in adding to them, or continuing a discussion on any post over a month old.

The other advantage to the Forum is that any member can start a new topic, whereas this Blog is more personal, and mainly written by David (when he has time). ;-)

I hope this helps to explain the difference between these sections of our website. Your comments are welcome on both....

Tuesday, February 05, 2008  

The "Pastoral" Epistle of James

Over the past several weeks, I've been team-teaching an inductive study of the book of James at my church. Basically, our pastor will introduce the passage, then divide the class into groups. Each group will examine a different sub-section of the passage, and then the pastor will close the study by synthesizing and summarizing the various observations which have been made. My role is to help lead one of the groups.

As we've been working through the epistle, we've repeatedly observed James' pastoral perspective. Although this epistle was written to be circulated among a variety of churches (as opposed to one in particular), James exudes pastoral concern for the recipients of his letter. James' epistle is no stale ethical treatise, but a passionate and compassionate written sermon.

All this talk of James' pastoral emphasis reminded me of an interesting pattern I sometimes show when demonstrating Accordance's various graphing tools. I'll search the tagged Greek New Testament (GNT-T) for every imperative verb in the book of James. Then I'll click the Details button and select Analysis Graph from the Graph pop-up menu. I'll choose Person from the pop-up menu at the bottom right, and get a graph comparing James' use of second person imperatives and third person imperatives:

Okay, what's so great about that? Well, you need to understand that second person imperatives are direct commands like "Go!" Third-person imperatives are indirect commands, they tend to be more subtle and roundabout ways of telling someone to do something. We usually would translate a third-person imperative as something like "Let him go." Knowing that, we can look at this chart again and see that James begins and ends his epistle with a higher frequency of third person imperatives, while in the middle he relies on more direct second person imperatives. This gives us a sense of James' pastoral style: start out subtly, end on a good note, and drive your message hard in the middle. The ability to visualize patterns like this is what that innocuous-looking Details button on your search window is all about.