Not to Shill, But… (Last Day of Logos Bible Software Discount)

Logos 6 Gold

 

I have mixed feelings about Logos marketing–some criticisms expressed here–but I still do, at least for now, participate in an affiliate program of theirs. This helps, among other things, to pay for some of this blog’s minimal expenses and has even in the past funded seminary coursework.

I have no intention to shill, but I do want to share for interested readers that the rate of 15% off any base package in Logos is changing as of tomorrow (12:00 a.m. PST) to 10% off. So if you’re thinking of upgrading, you can do it for cheaper today than tomorrow. If you don’t have money to do it, don’t sweat, pour yourself a cup of tea, and read this post instead. If you do purchase, Logos feeds a percentage of the purchase back to me. If you’re interested, you just order a base package (new or upgrade) through this Logos landing page.

Or use the promo code ABRAMKJ6 when you check out with a base package in your Logos cart. My review of Logos 6 is here.

Alto’s Adventure, Reviewed (and Currently $0.99)

I don’t know what your New Year’s Resolutions are, but if one of them is to play more video games (uh…), you should start with Alto’s Adventure.

Four traits especially stand out that make the game enjoyable:

    1. The graphics are gorgeous.
    2. The music is excellent–it evokes the old Final Fantasy scores, but sounds more like 2015.
    3. Playing it is really relaxing.
    4. Being a flipping snowboarder (especially if you can’t do it in real life) is fun.

It’s what reviewers call an “endless runner” game, which means you could go a gazillion meters on your run with Alto, which of course you never will, since you’ll hit a rock or get knocked down by an elder or fall into a ravine or ____ first.

But that won’t keep you from tapping “Play Again” multiple times.

The main stat to go for is “distance travelled.” But you can boost your trick store through a series of bunting grinds, flips, and the like. There are coins to collect (with magnets to help!), llamas to chase, and chasms to jump.

Here’s the score screen (for all images in this post, click to enlarge):

 

Score Screen

 

And a couple looks at the game:

 

Paz Daytime

 

The background changes from sunny and clear to dark and rainy, which adds a level of challenge (and fun) to the gameplay:

 

Raining at Night

 

In the Air

 

In the Air 2

 

If you accomplish three goals (smash three rocks, land two triple flips in one run, and so on), you move up a level. Move up enough levels and you unlock new characters:

 

New Player Paz

 

You can use your coins to buy workshop items:

 

Workshop Items

 

The gameplay is smooth and responsive. (Though flying with the wingsuit is tricky.) You only have to tap to jump, so the controls are easy enough to learn, but staying up for a long run is no easy feat.

Alto’s Adventure is currently $0.99 (on sale) at the App Store. It’s easily one of the best games for iOS.

 


 

Thanks to the makers of Alto’s Adventure for the review copy of the app, given to me for this review but with no expectation as to its content.

1Writer: The Best Text Editor (and Blogging App!) for iOS

1Writer Icon

 

1Writer has been living in both my iPhone and iPad docks for a number of months now. It’s high time I wrote a proper review! It’s easily my favorite text editing app for iOS.

 

About 1Writer

 

Here’s a paragraph description of the app from the 1Writer site:

1Writer provides a distraction free writing environment. You can create and edit plain text or Markdown files. It does have many features including inline Markdown preview, word count, dark theme, TextExpander support, insert photo, an extra keyboard row, and many more. The extra keyboard row is a convenient row of buttons for navigation, formatting, special characters and actions. See the formatted results with inline Markdown preview while you write and a full, rich-text preview when you’re done.

My favorite feature is its ability to insert images right from an iOS device, making it the first iOS app I’ve found that is actually suitable for blogging.

 

1Writer: The Pros

 

Sync

Whether you want to use Dropbox or iCloud, 1Writer has excellent syncing capabilities. I have a couple Dropbox folders I sync to 1Writer, which is now where I keep blog post drafts. I can update a document from iPhone or iPad–or even use a Mac to update a draft with an OS X Markdown app.

 

Images!!!

You can blog from 1Writer. It has been surprisingly difficult to find an iOS app that can do this well, including WordPress’s native blogging app. One downside is that you can’t resize the images once you insert them into the post, so it’s still not as flexible as blogging with images through the WordPress Web interface on OS X. The fastidious among us may want to double-check layout in WordPress itself before posting anyway, so this is not a deal-breaker, if not ideal.

 

Works Great with an External Keyboard

You can type CMD-B for bold and CMD-I for italics, and it both inserts the markdown markup and shows you the inline preview. Not even Editorial can do this. You can also insert links with a keyboard shortcut.

 

Built-in Web Browser

Because 1Writer has a built in Web browser, you can search for images without even leaving the app, and then insert them into your document. There is also a really nice hyperlinking functionality, and you don’t have to leave 1Writer to find a link you want to include in a document or Web post. One especially nice touch is once you’ve got a link copied, the hyperlink button gives you the pop-up option of just pasting the clipboard contents (your link), so you can save a tap there.

 

Built-in Web Browser

 

Great-Looking Interface

The interface is easy to look at for a long time when writing:

 

1Writer Text

 

Tagging System

1Writer has a built-in tagging system, so you can even more easily organize your documents.

 

Tags 1

 

Tags 2

 

Actions

Like Drafts 4, 1Writer has a number of actions you can perform on your text. Whether you want to use a pre-installed action to export your document as plain text or PDF, or install something from the 1Writer action directory, there’s not much missing here.

 

Actions

 

My personal favorite action is “Jump to Section,” which allows you to navigate by headings. This is especially useful for long documents where you quickly want to go between sections. The interface of this feature is not quite as smooth as Editorial’s similar function, but it still gets the job done.

 

iOS9-Ready

Speaking of Editorial… that’s a fine app, but it’s still not iOS9-ready. 1Writer is, so you can utilize Slide Over and Split View functions.

 

Customizable Keyboard Row

There’s an extra, customizable keyboard row–including the ability to assign a character or even action to a button.

 

Top-Notch Developer

The developer is amazingly responsive. He totally knows what he’s doing, and has built an excellent app already. Insofar as there are small, desired improvements, he takes feedback seriously.

 

1Writer: Just a Few Minor Drawbacks

 

The built-in Web browser does not allow for multi-tabbed browsing. I found this to be a limitation, though since iOS9, when I want to search the Web, I tend to do it via Safari in Split View with 1Writer open separately anyway.

Another drawback: you can’t sync actions between devices. You have to manually set this up in any iOS device you use. Documents themselves sync perfectly, of course, just not these custom actions.

 

Concluding Evaluation

 

There are people who swear by Drafts (I am one!) and Editorial (there’s a lot to like about that app). But 1Writer is exceedingly underrated. (Though that may change now that Viticci reviewed it!) If you’re a blogger, especially, this is the app that will finally allow you to blog from your iOS device.

It’s (no question) the best thing on iOS for bloggers. And maybe even the best note-taking app, too.

You can find it in the App Store here. And, yes, I did write much of this post in 1Writer, exported the Markdown to HTML (from 1Writer), and then published.

 


 

Thanks to 1Writer for the review copy of the app, given to me for this review but with no expectation as to its content.

IVP’s 5-Volume Ancient Christian Doctrine in Accordance

Ancient Christian DoctrineI just finished two systematic theology courses this semester. Phew! One resource that was really helpful to be able to reach for was Intervarsity Press’s 5-Volume Ancient Christian Doctrine.

It’s similar to the 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture set–like ACCSAncient Christian Doctrine compiles primary sources from early church theologians as a running commentary. ACD, however, is a full-blown compendium of commentary on the Nicene Creed.

It was an excellent resource, too, for helping me think through this last week’s sermon in my church’s Advent preaching series: “Who is This Jesus We Are Waiting For?”

I skipped ahead in my research to the Creed’s final phrase, “…the life of the world to come.” Here’s what you see at the beginning of the section in the Accordance edition I’ve been using:

 

Ancient Christian Doctrine in Accordance
Click to enlarge image

 

You get the Creed in Greek, Latin, and English. Then, as you can see in the sidebar Table of Contents at the left, there is the commentary on that phrase–categorized helpfully in the volumes into sections like, “Two Advents” and, “The Intermediate State of Souls.”

Here was a powerful piece from Tertullian from that section:

We affirm that, as there are two conditions demonstrated by the prophets to belong to Christ, so these two conditions presignified the same number of advents. One of the advents, and that being the first, was to be in lowliness when he had to be led as a sheep to be slain as a victim and to be as a lamb dumb before the shearer, not opening his mouth, and not fair to look on. For, says the prophet, we have announced concerning him, “He is like a tender plant, like a root out of a thirsty ground; he has no form nor comeliness; and we beheld him, and he was without beauty: his form was disfigured,” “marred more than the sons of men; a man stricken with sorrows, and knowing how to bear our infirmity,” “placed by the Father as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,” “made by him a little lower than the angels,” declaring himself to be “a worm and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Now these signs of degradation suit his first coming quite well, just as the tokens of his majesty do his second advent when he will no longer remain “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” but after his rejection become “the chief cornerstone,” accepted and elevated to the top place of the temple, even his church, being that very stone in Daniel, cut out of the mountain that was to strike and crush the image of the secular kingdom. Of this advent the same prophet says, “Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they brought him before him, and dominion and glory were given to him as well as a kingdom so that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and his kingdom is that which will not be destroyed.”

I’ve gotten this resource in Accordance so I can preview it at some of my upcoming Accordance Webinars, the schedule for which is soon to be posted. And I’ve also found it quite helpful in writing pieces of theology and sermon preparation.

This week it’s on sale through Accordance (here).

Let me leave you with this inspiration from Hilary of Poitiers:

He is born as man, while remaining God: this is in contradiction of our natural understanding. That he should remain God, though born as man, does not contradict our natural hope. For the birth of a higher nature into a lower state gives us confidence that a lower nature can be born into a higher condition.

 


 

See my other Accordance posts (there are many) gathered here.

Task Management via The Hit List

Viticci put it well: “There’s only one thing I like more than switching todo apps: writing about it.” My 2Do review is much shorter than his, but I resonate with his sentiment.

That might explain why today I give you a review of another worthy task management app: The Hit List.

 

What I Like About The Hit List

 

THL for iPhone icon 512@2xThe Hit List is much more robust than Apple’s native Reminders app. Its proprietary Sync Service is fast, and keeps your tasks and lists updated across Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Watch (depending on what you have).

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature is the extensive system of one-stroke keyboard shortcuts on the Mac app. You can do just about anything without having to move your hand to the mouse. And The Hit List (hereafter THL) comes with a nice built-in tutorial to get you going:

 

Learn THL
(click image to enlarge)

 

The Mac layout doesn’t totally match the rest of El Capitan, but I don’t mind that at all. I especially like that you can have multiple lists open at once–in one window–as various tabs. This mirrors how we browse the Web, yet out of all the task management apps I’ve tried, THL is the only one to incorporate it.

 

Mac_Multiple tabs
Tabbed task management! (click to enlarge)

 

It’s a really nice touch, especially if you are actually working on a few projects at once and want to be able to close tabs as you go. Or if you want to toggle between your time-sensitive “Today” tasks and other projects.

The tagging system on all platforms is neat. By typing “task /tag” you automatically can tag a task. It then shows up in a different color on the task entry line and puts itself into the right tag.

You can give sub-tasks to tasks, which is often what happens in real life! Our tasks turn into a series of sub-tasks, too. Of course you could just separate a multi-task task into its own project, but the ability to rapidly enter sub-tasks is great.

Probably my favorite part about THL is its task timing integration. Yes, you read that right. You can both assign estimated time to tasks, as well as track it! It’s not as robust as a dedicated time tracking software–you can’t get to-the-minute readouts of your day. But it’s a pretty sweet feature on the Mac app.

 

Time Estimates

 

Counting Clock

 

The iPad app just came out, and it’s got Slide Over and Split Screen support right out of the box. It’s very cool to finally see THL on a bigger screen. (The iPad app is lacking in any external keyboard shortcuts however; future updates should add these in.)

 

What I Found Lacking in THL

 

1. No Save+.

 

Rapid-fire brain dumping is tricky in THL. Well, it’s not impossible, but on iOS there’s no Save+ button so you can just add a bunch of tasks at once without multiple taps. Keyboard shortcuts make it quick on the Mac app, though.

 

2. You can’t email a task to the app.

 

It continues to perplex me that this is not standard issue in a task management app. I don’t know… maybe it’s just hard to implement. In THL there is no way to convert or forward emails to tasks from wherever you are. Evernote and OmniFocus allow this, as will 2Do soon. This functionality is essential to me in a task management app.

 

3. The iOS app isn’t as configurable as one might like.

 

The criticism that you have to understand the app on its own terms often gets leveled toward OmniFocus, but I experienced some confusion in THL with the “Today” list. Support was outstanding in helping me to understand it (which I do now), but the Today list shows all your tasks that start today. You can’t adjust it to show just your tasks that are due today, which feels to me a more natural way to use it. You can’t even really trick Today into doing what you want, since a task with no start date that is due tomorrow still pops up in Today.

On the iOS app, there are few settings you can configure:

 

iOS Settings

 

THL also sort of forces you (if you’re going to use the app) into its Inbox–Today–Upcoming logic. (These three “hit lists” give the app its name.) This could be a limitation for some. That way of setting up things, to which you can add your own lists, appeals to me, so it’s fine. On Mac you could create a “Due Today” smart list, so there is flexibility in that regard.

 

Three Lists

 

4. You can’t attach anything to tasks in iOS.

 

There is no way (whether in iOS or OS X) to attach photos or files to an item. It’s hard to envision a week where there isn’t at least one time when I want to take a picture of something as a reminder or attach a .pdf I need to complete a task. You can link to actual files on a desktop with the THL Mac app, but that’s not the same as attaching the file to the task, so the file doesn’t show up on iOS (just an error message). There’s a notes field, so you can leave additional text, but attachments aren’t really a working feature in THL.

 

Concluding Thoughts and How to Get THL

 

There’s more to say, of course. The Today widget and Share extension features in iOS work nicely. The layout and interface of the apps is executed well on all platforms. It runs really smoothly, and looks great in its new iPad incarnation. Smart lists can help you customize your experience. Recurring tasks are easy to set up. You can quickly swipe a task on iOS to change the due date or move it to a different list and folder.

This is a little thing, but I think my favorite thing about the app is the sound effect that goes off when you complete a task. I wish every app had that option! It’s like a little “congratulations!” every time you get something done. Very satisfying to hear that tone.

Their support is excellent, too. THL even made a feature addition that I had requested–the ability to drag handles to reorder task lists on iOS.

Okay, okay, one more nice little touch: the icon for note detail attached to a task is excellent. Just by looking at a task, you can tell if there’s an associated note. Similarly, a number icon shows you how many sub-tasks are connected to a task. Thoughtful design, for sure.

To sum up: the sound effects on iOS, tabbed list views on OS X, and integrated time tracking set THL apart from other apps, so if those appeal to you, this might be your app of choice. Lack of email integration makes it hard for me to think about switching to THL as my go-to task management app, but perhaps future updates will add that feature. Overall, THL is at least on par with Things and certainly an option one could consider alongside 2Do and OmniFocus.

You can find the app here (OS X) and here (iOS).

 


 

Thanks so much to the makers of The Hit List for giving me a download in iOS and OS X for the review. Check out the Karelia Software site here.

15% Off All Logos 6 Base Packages

Logos 6 Gold

 

I haven’t posted about this in a while, but you can get 15% off any base package in Logos 6 through Words on the Word. If you order a base package through this Logos landing page, Logos feeds a percentage back to me, which I use to support the work of Words on the Word. So if you’re going to buy a base package anyway…

…check it out here, or just use the promo code ABRAMKJ6 when you check out with a base package in your Logos cart. My review of Logos 6 is here.