There won’t be flying cars, but the next best thing: today at 1:00 p.m. (EST) I’ll be leading a free Accordance Webinar covering basic Greek word study and setting up Workspaces. You can sign up here to join in. See the rest of Accordance’s upcoming Webinars here.
Ever wonder how to do intermediate and advanced Greek searches and set up some high-octane Greek Workspaces in Accordance? Yesterday I led a Webinar on that very topic.
Here is the .pdf handout of what I covered, which includes some links to helpful resources. And Accordance allows you to share Workspaces with others, so if you want any of the Workspaces mentioned in the .pdf (notation is WS), just let me know in the comments or reach me here and I’ll set you up!
Logitech makes an amazingly good external keyboard, the K811, which I reviewed here. At the time I noted:
It would be nice if the keyboard came with a carrying case or simple sleeve, though–you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.
And, boy, did I figure it out! Turns out a San Francisco manufacturer named WaterField makes just such a product: the Keyboard Slip Case. Here’s their description:
Thin is in. The Keyboard Slip Case offers gentle protection in a slim ballistic nylon case with a lightly padded liner. A piping trimmed edge lets you choose to add a splash of bold color, or to stay under the radar with subdued tones. Pack it up and off you go.
I can at last not worry about whether my keyboard keys will pop off inside my messenger bag, and my neighbors and friends can now avoid the unseemly sight of my walking around with an external keyboard in my hand. (I mean, not literally just walking around with it. But going from point A to point B.)
The dimensions are 12″ x 6″ and 3 ounces, perfect for the Apple wireless keyboard and my Logitech model.
To remind you, here’s what the K811 looks like:
And now, in its case:
Pretty awesome, yeah? I know–I’m too excited about a piece of gear, but I use my K811 a lot, and am glad to protect it well.
The inside is protective yet soft:
It’s made in San Francisco, so you’re buying a made-in-the-U.S.A. product with WaterField.
There’s even a nice little piece of trim that gives it a slight pop:
Here it is next to an iPad:
The slip case is well constructed, and looks like it perfectly blends being lightweight with protecting your keyboard.
The keyboard fits snugly, so the lack of a closure is no loss. I’d initially wondered about this, but it’s not a problem. And it’s still easy to slide the keyboard in and out. (But if you’re worried, you can get this model.)
My only critique is that the nylon exterior is a little slippery. When carrying around an iPad and notebook and keyboard-in-its-case today, I felt the iPad slip against the keyboard case. So be aware of that so you don’t drop something!
Otherwise, the K811 has found its perfect match. Or as I put it in a six-word review on WaterField’s site:
Just what my external keyboard needed.
WaterField makes a lot of other really cool-looking gear, which you can learn more about here. Find the Keyboard Slip Case here.
Thanks to WaterField for the product review sample, given to me for purposes of review, but with no expectations or influence on the review’s content.
This Wednesday I am leading a brand new Accordance Bible Software webinar: Key Resources for your Accordance Library. As I say in the webinar description, the session will:
• be appropriate for all levels: from beginner to advanced
• be interactive, with opportunities to ask questions as Abram is presenting
• offer an overview of what is available in the Accordance Web store, and how it is organized
• provide a hands-on demo of some resources in Accordance
Really looking forward to this one. Sign up info is here.
I’ve made no secret of my love of Jewish Publication Society’s works. The JPS Torah Commentaries have greatly enhanced my reading of the first five books of the Bible. I have particularly appreciated the seamless blend of critical scholarship and devotional posture that series offers.
In 2013 JPS published a massive, three-volume set, Outside the Bible:Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture. The print edition has 3,302 pages. Accordance is the only Bible software program to have made the electronic edition available; it releases today.
Outside the Bible (hereafter referred to as OTB) covers an impressive array of Jewish extrabiblical texts from the 6th century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. The texts in OTB are ones that were “for various reasons, taken off the official Jewish bookshelf.”
The editors of Outside the Bible are Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel, and Lawrence H. Schiffman. The skilled lineup of contributors includes: Harold W. Attridge, David E. Aune, John J. Collins, David A. deSilva, Michael V. Fox, Emanuel Tov, Benjamin G. Wright III, and many others.
Broadly speaking, the editors and contributors treat writings from the following groupings:
The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
Dead Sea Scrolls
OTB begins with some of the best, most succinct introductory material you can find on each corpus. Emanuel Tov, for example, gets right to the heart (using few words) of the potentially vexing concept of LXX translation technique:
When trying to analyze the Hebrew and Aramaic words, the translators could not resort to tools such as dictionaries or other sources of lexical information; they had to rely on their living knowledge of these languages and on exegetic traditions relating to words and contexts. … By the same token, the identification of difficult words was often guided by the context. Such a procedure frequently was little more than guesswork, especially in the case of rare and unique Hebrew words.
Practically speaking the reader finds explanatory comments like this one (from 1 Samuel 2) throughout OTB:
*there is none holy besides you Cf. the MT: “There is no rock like our God.” As elsewhere in the LXX, the translator avoids the description of God as a “rock,” possibly because he did not like the comparison of God to a stone, and instead stresses his holiness as in the first part of the verse.
When it comes to the texts themselves, here is how OTB is organized:
Each text in Outside the Bible is preceded by a brief introduction that gives a summary of its contents, a history of its composition and transmission, its significance for Jewish (and sometimes Christian) history and biblical interpretation, and a guide to reading that highlights specific issues for understanding the text. A short list of additional readings points the interested reader to more detailed or focused treatments of the text.
You can see the Table of Contents here, via Accordance Mobile:
Included in OTB is an entire commentary on 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, among other texts. Here is David A. deSilva, offering the reader of OTB guidance for working through 4 Maccabees:
The author gives two important cues concerning how to read his work. First, he asks us to read it as an essay that offers both argumentation and exemplary evidence for the proposition that the religiously trained mind can gain the upper hand over all the contrary forces within us and outside us that drag us away from doing what we know to be best before God. Second, he invites us to join him in admiring the outstanding achievements of nine Jewish martyrs, whose courageous and praiseworthy example rivals that of the heroes of any other culture or tradition and can encourage us to hold fast to virtue in our lesser contests.
I could multiply examples of how OTB strikes an excellent balance of brevity and substance. One could open the pages of OTB, having never heard of the Damascus Document–or any of more than 150 other texts–and walk away with a solid understanding of that writing’s legal and theological teachings.
OTB has a nice focus not only on the extrabiblical texts as such; it also addresses their import for biblical interpretation. Further, the editors and contributors are careful to point out how these non-canonical texts function as windows into the culture and beliefs of Judaism in the Second Temple period.
And the interplay OTB highlights between Judaism and Christianity is fascinating:
Philo’s writings had practically no influence on Judaism as it developed after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE and the disastrous Jewish revolt in Egypt in 115–117 CE. … On the other hand his writings were warmly embraced by early Christian thinkers, who saw in him a kindred spirit. They were attracted to his use of the Greek Bible and the allegorical method, as well as to doctrines such as the transcendence of God, the creation of the cosmos, the Logos, and providence.
Anyone wanting to further chase down what OTB has to say about Christianity can perform a search to instantaneously pull up all the instances of “Christian,” “Christianity,” or even, “Christ.” (The search to use is simply Christ* in the English Content search field in Accordance.)
…which leads to why Outside the Bible is a resource especially suited for the Accordance format.
One obvious reason a person would want to consider the Accordance module (and not just the print edition) is the portability factor. JPS books tend to be bound beautifully and constructed well, so there’s nothing to complain about in their aesthetics. But you can’t really take 3,300 pages of awesomeness to the library, coffee shop, or office with you, at least not easily. Keeping OTB on a laptop, iPad, and/or iPhone is appealing.
Another benefit to OTB on Accordance is the extensive system of tagging and hyperlinking the developers have used. For one, you can adjust the search field to search OTB in all of the following ways:
For another, where there is commentary on the texts, the Accordance module allows you to view it simply by hovering over a hyperlink. Causing my mouse to rest on an asterisk shown in the text of the Prayer of Manasseh calls up the corresponding commentary in the Instant Details at the bottom of the screen:
Hyperlinked content is, of course, just a tap away on the iPad:
You can search just certain sections of OTB for a given word. You can highlight, take notes, and even share text via the share sheets in iOS–maybe you want to send some selected wording to Evernote or Drafts as part of your research. Just a few taps get me from 11QMelch (Melchizedek) into Drafts, a primary hub for my iOS research:
Using the share sheet, one could email information to oneself or others, or even share on social media. (And what says “rewritten Bible” better than Facebook and Twitter, amirite?)
Treat yourself to a perusal of the Table of Contents and some material on Jubilees (which interacts with Genesis) by following this link to a PDF excerpt. And, by all means, do go check out this majestic resource in Accordance here. Students, professors, and pastors… Jews, Christians, and agnostics–all who can access Outside the Bible are indebted to its editors and contributors for a thorough and engaging resource.
Thanks to Accordance for the review copy of Outside the Bible in Accordance 11. See my other Accordance posts (there are many) gathered here.
The video is of professional quality. You don’t even really think about this as you watch, which is a good thing. It is just David Sparks, his OmniFocus (Mac and iOS, excellent explanations, and you.
Sparks covers all of the basics, and then some. You get in-depth tutorials on how to use Due Dates (sparingly!) or Defer Dates, navigating your way through Projects, what Contexts are and how to use them, keeping your Inbox clear, integrating OF with other workflows like email and TextExpander, and much more. From Capture to Review, the Field Guide has it covered.
There are two nice touches that I especially appreciated:
Sparks is funny. You see him working on a project called Flat Earth Manifesto in the video. But he avoids the pitfall that some tech writers get into, which is being overly cute or annoyingly glib. He uses humor perfectly.
He shows you some of his unique Custom Perspectives in OF. This alone may be worth the price of the field guide. I have already copied his settings that he shows to set up my own Perspectives like his. Even though I have been using the app for a good while now, and consider myself fairly proficient with it, my productivity with OmniFocus has definitely increased since adding these Perspectives.
As you can see in the above shot, you can navigate by chapter, and scroll through all of them to see a sort of Table of Contents of the whole Field Guide.
Here is a short clip so you can get a feel for the approach and content.
Learning OmniFocus is an investment of time. Some people will balk at spending money to learn how to use the software they already spent good money on. But for $10, with well over two hours of top-notch content, the serious OmniFocus user should get to this field guide as soon as possible. Easily 5/5 stars.
◦ Rock the House with this Powerful 15 Watt Bluetooth Speaker with 2200Ah Lithium Battery which supports up to 10 consecutive hours of playing time.
◦ Subwoofer + high-performance amplifier combine for incredible volume and high quality sound.
◦ Can also be used to charge your phone or other rechargeable USB devices with its built in Power Bank.
◦ Supports AUX, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC with Siri/S Voice Functionality. Make and receive phone calls with the built-in Mic.
◦ Includes Charger, Carrying Pouch, and a 3.5mm audio cable.
Here is what it looks like out of the box (images via SHARKK):
Sharkk Speaker: What’s Awesome
Battery percentage indicator
You can see the battery level right next to the phone battery percentage—it’s always visible from the device from which you are streaming music. There’s no real battery life indicator on the speaker itself, so being able to see it from your device is neat.
Sound decent for cost
The sound is good for the cost. Not stellar, but solid. The bass is noticeable, if not wholly sufficient, and the highs and the mids come out, though perhaps not as crisply as one might want for a speaker at $80. Still, the sound is decent.
It remembers your device
Once you connect a device to the speaker via Bluetooth, the SHARKK speaker remembers it, so you don’t have to keep setting it up each time. I really appreciated this.
The speaker fits on a towel rack in the shower room. It’s easy to hold in one hand and move around the house to follow you from room to room. Highly portable and light enough to carry around, if you want.
What’s Not Awesome
The speaker died one night
One night, for no reason that I can discern, the speaker died. I charged it overnight. It still didn’t work. I charged it a second night. Still nothing. Then on the third day (I don’t mean this to be a religious parallel), it sprang back to life and has been working fine since.
Support was responsive throughout the issue, but I never could figure out why the speaker stopped responding like that.
No remote control
Lacking is a remote way to control the speaker. You cannot do it via remote control or from your phone. I know it’s not a huge deal to get out of your chair to turn it on or off, but a speaker in this price range should support remote control.
Play/pause button flashes
The play/pause button flashes blue when the speaker is on. I noticed this one night in the middle of the night from across the room, when I had forgotten to turn the speaker off. A minor nuisance, and certainly not a deal-breaker. But an auto-off feature would be nice.
Cloth carrying case
The speaker comes with a cloth carrying case, which is handy, but doesn’t do much to protect the speaker. On a recent trip where I wanted to take the speaker (it is very portable), I just packed the speaker up in its original box, which was a much better solution.
+ and – buttons
It’s awesome that you can play and pause your iTunes or even Spotify app from the speaker itself. One tricky thing, though, is that the “+” button fast forwards the track. Only holding the button turns the volume up (the expected result from a button like that). So, too, with the “-” button. It turns the volume down, but only if you hold it. Otherwise it rewinds the track. I found this less than intuitive, and still think it’s an odd design decision, but I got used to it over time (mostly). It is nice to be able to change tracks from the speaker itself.
I can recommend the speaker, but only with the reservations above. I’m not sure it would be my first choice for a sub-$100 speaker, but it does have some nice features that make it an attractive option worth considering.
Prune is a really fun and enjoyably challenging game for iOS.
It’s got a simple, minimalist, beautiful design. David Sparks of MacSparky even used a screenshot from the game for his iPad lock screen!
You start with a screen like this:
Then you swipe up to start your tree growing.
You can pinch to zoom to get a closer look, which you will need as your tree grows in multiple directions. When it is time to prune the tree, which you do to get it to grow toward the light, just swipe your finger across the branch you wish to cut, and it will fall off.
You beat a level by pruning to create the predetermined amount of blossoms on your tree.
The graphics, music, and sound effects are all beautiful and relaxing.
You will want to avoid things like red suns, or your beloved tree burns up:
Once you spend the $3.99 on the app, there are no further in-app purchases or ads.
One might be forgiven for wondering how engaging an app with this premise can be, but it really is fun to play. Apart from its gorgeous design and responsive controls, users will quickly find they are eager to make progress through the game’s various levels. Prune came recommended, and it’s been even better than expected.
If I could have the sync of Things, the layout and tagging and look of 2Do, the simplicity of Todoist, and the power and custom perspectives of OmniFocus, I’d have my perfect task management app. And I’D BE A PRODUCTIVITY MACHINE. Well, no, I’d still have to do all the tasks. (And life is more than doing stuff, anyway.)
But the answer to the question in the header above is that each task management app I’ve tried does not quite fit all my preferences. We adjust, of course, and it’s this phenomenon that has coders writing new task management apps as we speak. Maybe I’m just picky, though I’m far from the only one.
That’s all preface to why you are reading yet another task management app review on this blog. Here I consider 2Do.
Where 2Do (IMHO) Falls Short
Allow me to get the critiques out of the way first, because I really do like this app–a lot. And it has the most aesthetically pleasing interface out of any task management app I’ve used (OmniFocus, Things, Todoist…). But there are a few things that I would hope could be improved.
1. Sync is good (via Dropbox), but not quite instantaneous.
A recent release offered some significant improvement in sync speed, i.e., push sync. (2Do syncs via Dropbox, iCloud, Toodledo, or your CalDAV server.) Tasks and changes don’t sync instantaneously across devices (like Apple’s Reminders do), but this is more due to Apple’s limitations on third-party apps than any shortfall on 2Do’s part. Still, it’s a minor hassle when using the app. Things keeps leading the way here. More on 2Do’s sync methods is here.
TL;DR: Cross-device syncing with 2Do is about as good as it gets, but not perfect.
2. You can’t really email a task in to the app, per se.
There are workarounds, but there is no easy and direct way to convert or forward emails to tasks from wherever you are. This, in my view, is a key necessity of a good task management app. Outlook, OmniFocus, Todoist, and Evernote all allow this, for example.
You can convert a Mac Mail message right to a 2Do task, however, described here, and that may be all some users need. There’s also a workaround using Toodledo that allows you to email tasks to 2Do, but non-users of Toodledo would have to create a new account and learn a new app to be able to do that. (It will be enough to learn 2Do.) For iOS email-to-task conversion, folks might consider the Dispatch app. But here’s to hoping 2Do adds support for email-to-task automation in a future release–one of the few things missing in this slick app.
That I have no additional major critiques than these is actually significant, since I’m a little picky when it comes to this kind of app. And now, on to the good stuff…
Ways in Which 2Do is Just Plain Awesome
1. Photo attachments
You can attached a photo (whether from your Camera Roll or one you take from within the 2Do app) or voice memo to a task. For many, this is just how life works–we want to take a picture of a bill and convert it to a task to remind us to pay it. Or we think of an idea and want to speak it rather than type it. 2Do allows you to make these inputs into tasks.
2. 2Do has a nice Today widget and good Share extensions in iOS.
They look like this, and give you a way to access the app from just about anywhere on an iPhone or iPad:
3. It’s easy to set up actions and tasks, recurring and otherwise.
Quickly adding multiple tasks to get things off your mind is a cinch:
What about setting recurring tasks? Easy as pie.
You can even “Pick an Action” in a task.
Selecting “Message,” I then get this option:
Want to make a shopping list, you say? 2Do has a nifty List (checklist) feature you can use:
4. There is good calendar integration.
Calendar integration–yes! It’s like Calendars 5, only far more robust than the task list in that app.
The app has even found a really elegant and easy way around the scroll wheel, for when you want to assign your task to both a due date and a due time:
So a task that’s all set up (no tags shown here) looks like this:
I’ve got a picture I took of an eye exam reminder, attached to the task, an action within the task to call (I just tap the green part and it dials), a reminder, a date and time… pretty smooth.
5. Did I mention how amazing it looks?
Here, I’ll show you:
The iPhone and iPad apps look even better:
Note how 2Do shows you your tasks and your integrated calendar all together.
6. The iOS apps are some of the best-made apps in the App Store.
The makers of 2Do have really carefully thought this app through, including subtle touches like having a project’s color appear as a faint band on top of that project’s screen. You can easily swipe around from tasks to projects to tags to lists… navigation is very easy, and pretty.
You can even pinch zoom:
7. It’s got the power of OmniFocus, but with Tags.
You can see the Tags list in the images above. This allows you to customize your workflow to your heart’s content. You can also set up and save Smart Lists, i.e., searches you want to save to come back to. This is equivalent to OmniFocus’s custom perspectives. But something about actual tags makes it feel even more flexible.
There’s much more to say about this app, but I’m already at 1,000 words. If you want to learn more, you can find further documentation here.
If you’re starting from scratch with a task management app and have some money to spend, I can think of no good reason not to invest in 2Do, even over other options. It really is enjoyable to use. It’s powerful enough to help you track and execute multiple projects at once, yet simple enough to learn and start using right away.
You can find it in the App Store here (for Mac) and here (for iOS).
Thanks so much to the makers of 2Do for giving me a download in iOS and OSX for the review. Check out the app’s site here. I know this is a few days early for Apptastic Tuesday, but I couldn’t wait.