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Archive for the ‘Company Insights’ Category

Laridian Website – Planned Outage

Posted on: July 31st, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 2 Comments

We are making some changes to our internet presence that will cause certain website and PocketBible services to be briefly unavailable on Tuesday, August 4. There will be a significant outage for about 3-4 hours on Tuesday morning, followed by diminished performance for a period of time after that before full service is restored, hopefully as soon as Wednesday.

Affected Services

All commerce, product registration, and account updates at the Laridian site (and at our in-app stores) will be disabled during this outage.

PocketBible will be unable to connect to the server during this time and won’t be able to sync your user data. Your data won’t be lost; it just won’t get sync’ed to the Laridian Cloud. As soon as Cloud services are back online, any changes you made during the downtime will be uploaded.

You may not be able to download books during this time. If we can keep this part of our internet functionality available, we will.

You will be able to make purchases through the Apple App Store but you won’t be able to download those products until after the maintenance outage is over.

Cause

Laridian operates services on a variety of servers located at more than one hosting company. From time to time we move these services to new locations either to enhance their capability or to save money or both. We are generally able to do this in a way that minimizes or eliminates downtime. In this case, we are moving our database server, which stores almost everything of importance at Laridian including your customer account, transaction history, user-created data (notes, highlights, and bookmarks), and all our books.

It isn’t possible in this case to make this transition without actually stopping all updates to the database, copying the data to the new server, and restarting it at its new location. During this brief time, we can’t do any operations that cause the database to change, or we risk losing those changes (i.e. they get written to the “old” location after the database has been moved to the “new” location).

We have already tested this process and are confident that it will run smoothly.

Interim Effects

There will be a brief period of time after the database move where the communication between our website and the database server will be suboptimal. During that time, performance of the website, sync server, book server, etc. will be affected. We will be restoring those services to full speed in the hours immediately after the move.

Benefits

Once this whole process is complete, we expect enhanced performance of the website and all the aforementioned services. Security of all of these services will be increased. And despite the more powerful hardware on which this will all be running, our costs will be lower. This will allow us to continue to produce Bibles and reference materials at prices at or below what you’ll find elsewhere.

We appreciate your patience with us during this move.

As we have updates, we will post them here.

What’s in the Pipeline?

Posted on: July 27th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 56 Comments

We often get asked about what we are working on. While you can be sure we are always working, and that our work probably involves some version of PocketBible, we understand you may be interested in a more detailed explanation of what is going on behind the scenes. It is in that spirit that we are going to try something new with an occasional post on what’s in the pipeline for apps and books.

You’ll notice we don’t talk about release dates. We’ve been in this business for a long time and have learned that our best-laid plans often go awry. In fact, in the software business, that’s the rule rather than the exception. So we don’t spit into that wind nor tilt at those windmills. We’re pursuing the goals you see below at our best pace and will release new books and updates to our apps as soon as they’re ready.

Apps

  • PocketBible for Android – Version 1.4.4 is current. Includes support for upcoming BookBuilder improvements with respect to user-created Bibles.
  • PocketBible for iOS – Version 3.2.3 was released on June 1, 2015. We are currently working on some enhancements to the user interface and changing the way we do text-to-speech to make it easier to manage and less expensive.
  • PocketBible for Mac OS X – Version 1.1.5 with support for some upcoming BookBuilder improvements and minor new features was released on April 9, 2015.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • BookBuilder for Mac OS X – Version 1.0.0 was released on 3/6/15. Currently working on some in-house features and better support for user-created Bibles.
  • BookBuilder for Windows Desktop - We’re about done refreshing the Windows version to improve the user interface, improve the integration between the various tools that make up the Professional Edition, and bring it into feature parity with the Mac version.

Books

Here’s what our editorial team has in the queue for you (not in any particular order):

  • Additional volumes of the Ancient Christian Commentary Series (IVP)
  • The Applied New Testament and Old Testament Commentary (Cook)
  • Wesley Study Bible (Abingdon)
  • NASB Bible text Updates
  • Tree of Life Version (TLV)
  • More non-English Bibles (?)

Miscellaneous

In addition to the above we’re currently migrating our entire internet presence to a new hosting company. This takes a significant amount of effort and will cause some brief periods of time when the site will be either slow or entirely shut down as we migrate massive amounts of data from the old servers to the new ones. The benefit to you when we’re done will be additional security and speed. It will also cut our monthly internet service bill in half, which will help us keep our prices the lowest in the industry.


 

Disclaimers: All this is subject to change in priority, feasibility, copyright licensing, etc. That means we reserve the right to never release these features or books. We are sharing with you the current plan which is written in sand, not stone. Also, just because something is not on this list doesn’t mean we are not considering it. Finally, we are open to your requests, suggestions and comments!

King James Version: Red Letters and Paragraphs

Posted on: July 23rd, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

Title_PageBack in October, 2014 we updated our King James Version text. We had taken some criticism for publishing a low-quality edition of the text which couldn’t seem to be traced back to any known edition of the KJV.

Red Letters

When we published that version, we intentionally left out the “words of Christ in red” feature, because the whole goal was to get to a pedigreed version of the text and red letters were not a part of the KJV text until relatively recently.

This didn’t go over well with folks who rely on red ink to know when Jesus is speaking. So we did more research to see if we could come up with an “authoritative” red-letter edition of the KJV on which to base our editorial decisions. To our surprise, we found one.

In 1899, Louis Klopsch (1852-1910), editor of The Christian Herald, was writing an editorial for his magazine when he read Luke 22:20: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” It struck him that a New Testament with Christ’s words written in “blood” would be both useful and highly symbolic. He approached his mentor, Rev. T DeWitt Talmage with the idea, and the men agreed, “It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good.”

Klopsch Red Letter BibleRight away they discovered that the KJV contains no quotation marks to delineate those words spoken by Jesus and separate them from those of the narrator or other characters in the story. It also occurred to them that there are instances in the Old Testament where it is believed that Jesus appeared to the Old Testament saints and spoke to them. Should those words be in red? What about the words of Jesus when spoken by others in the book of Acts or the epistles?

Klopsch had to make a few choices (such as in John 3:16ff) about where Jesus’ words end and the narrator’s begin. He opted to omit Old Testament christophanies, but to include New Testament quotes in red. The first red-letter New Testament was published in 1899, and an entire Bible, containing the red-letter New Testament, was published in 1901.

Laridian was able to obtain a 1903 New Testament and a 1913 whole Bible, each with Klopsch’s original red-letter text. The New Testament claims an 1899 copyright and the whole Bible, 1901. From these well-used pages we manually marked up our electronic text to indicate the words of Christ.

Paragraphs

Soon after publishing our updated KJV last year we realized that the text we had worked from did not contain paragraph indicators of any kind. With a little effort we were able to find a source of that information that is consistent with the age and quality of the text itself, and have integrated that information into our text.

The King James Version has historically been printed with each verse starting on a new line, and a pilcrow (¶) marking the start of a new paragraph. We have followed that tradition, which means that in versions of PocketBible that allow you to display the text in paragraph form or one verse per line, you will always see the KJV text presented with each verse starting on a new line.

While some might argue that this format is jarring to the modern reader, we would point out that that KJV itself is “jarring” to the modern reader. We think there is great value in upholding the publishing traditions that add to the unique character of the King James Version of the Bible, and are very happy with the results of this effort to update our version of the text.

Most PocketBible users will see a note on the “Add/Remove Books”, “Cloud Library”, or “Download Books” screen in PocketBible to the effect that the KJV and KJV with Strong’s Numbers texts have been updated. Select the updated product to download it to PocketBible. Windows Desktop users will have to download the setup program for the KJV or KJVEC from the Downloads area of our website.

PocketBible for iOS is Back in the App Store

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 25 Comments

PocketBible iOS IconIt appears this story is old news now. 3.2.3 is available on the App Store. A few of you are still upgrading, so I’ll keep the article here for a while.

On May 18 we submitted PocketBible 3.2.0 to Apple for approval. On Thursday, May 28 they approved it and by Friday night it was being downloaded by our users.

When I saw it was available for me to download to my iPad, I updated my personal copy. I got the message I expected, that my data needed to be updated. I went to Manage My Data as instructed but there was no response from the program. I quickly hooked my iPad up to my laptop and ran the program in the debugger. It turned out the Manage My Data screen was being built, but as soon as it was displayed, it was being dismissed by iOS so the user never saw it.

I tried deleting and re-installing to no avail.

During this process, Facebook notified me of some messages from a couple people who I know to be active PocketBible customers. When I visited Facebook I found there were several users having the same experience I was.

I posted a status update to our Facebook followers instructing them not to download the update to their iPads (the program was working fine on my iPhone). After a few more minutes of testing I realized there was no way to work around this and that I was going to have to stop it from being distributed. Unfortunately, Apple does not offer an immediate “off” switch. I pulled the app from the App Store but it would take 24 hours to fully take effect.

I posted a message on the home page of www.laridian.com and wrote a blog article to explain what I knew about the problem. I set up a response on our tech support ticket system that pointed affected users to the blog article for more information. I pulled the update announcement I had made on Thursday from Facebook and our blog. I posted a status update on Facebook pointing to the blog.

Over the next five or six hours I tracked down two related problems in the Apple code. I was able to fix one of them fairly easily because the 15 places in the code that were affected were all in the same file (or, for you programmers, the same class).

Other problems were related to UIAlertView (messages that pop up in the middle of the screen, usually with an “OK” and a “Cancel” button) and UIActionSheet (windows that pop up from the bottom of the screen and contain a simple caption and a column of buttons). I found these to be used in 294 places in the code. Each of these instances had to be reviewed to see how to best work around the problem. In some cases, I changed the implementation to use an alternative method of doing the same thing. But in most cases there was no better alternative.

After doing some research on the Web (programmers use a site called stackoverflow.com to confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with their fellow wizards) I found a good work-around that required only a simple change to the code in about a dozen places.

By Saturday afternoon I was ready to put the program in the hands of some beta testers. I posted a call for testers on the blog and on Facebook. I knew this would be tough going into Sunday morning, but I got a small number of testers from around the world to run the program through its paces. (I apologize to my fellow church members for taking a few minutes during the announcements to pull out my laptop, add three new beta testers to the provisioning profile, re-sign the program and upload it to the website.)

Interestingly, the only problems they found were bugs that have probably been in PocketBible since version 2.0 or maybe earlier. I made some effort to fix those but under the circumstances didn’t want to take more time than necessary to get the program back up on the App Store.

By Sunday evening, about 48 hours after discovering these debilitating bugs, I was ready to upload the program to the App Store. At the same time, I filed a request for expedited review with Apple. It took them 10 days to review the last version; they’ve taken as little as 2-3 days in the past. I was hoping they’d agree to expedite it, because even after it was approved it would take 24 hours to propagate to all of Apple’s servers. Apple approved the expedited review on Monday morning and an hour later the app itself was approved.

By Tuesday morning everyone was seeing the update (version 3.2.3) and reporting that it was working.

I apologize for the inconvenience. Here are a few FAQs:

What are the symptoms? “Manage My Data”, “Shop for Bibles and Books” and many other menu items don’t do anything. This is especially problematic, since the program tells you that you need to go to “Manage My Data” to update your data due to the program itself being updated. But Manage My Data doesn’t work. Other selections, such as “Copy Passage” and “Register Now” cause the program to crash.

Version 3.2.0 seems to be working on my iPhone. Should I be worried? The problem seems to be limited to the iPad.

Should I remove the program from my iPad? No. When you download the fixed version (3.2.3), it will overwrite the bad version and everything will still be there (books and user data). It is OK to leave it installed and even run it. It’s just that certain functions are disabled. You might also have it crash if you interact with any pop-up choice boxes like the registration prompt. Just leave it installed for now.

Why does PocketBible require you to go to Manage My Data anyway? Previous versions of PocketBible tried to maintain the integrity of your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) by detecting when you have logged into a different account, then asking you to say how you wanted to handle your existing data with respect to the new account (i.e. replace your local data with the data on the server or merge your local data with the data on the server). Unfortunately, it assumed that simply changing your password meant you were logging into a new account. This new version of PocketBible uses the same technique as PocketBible for OS X, which records the customer ID you use when you sync your data, then compares that customer ID to the one you are logged into. That way you can change your password or even log out and log back in, and PocketBible won’t get confused. Since the old version did not keep track of your customer ID, and since you may have logged in with your email address instead of your customer ID, PocketBible has to log into your account and ask the server for your customer ID. This is quick and painless — unless you can’t get to Manage My Data to do it!

I’m a programmer. What’s really going on? Apple changed the way that UIPopoverController, UIAlertView, and UIActionSheet dismiss their views. In each case, we previously could assume that after dismissing those views we could display another modal view or otherwise act as if the view was gone (whether it was actually gone from the display at this point is irrelevant — I know that takes another cycle through the run loop). But some recent update to the SDK made it so that dismissing UIPopoverController resulted in any modal view displayed after that to be dismissed along with the requested UIPopoverController.

UIPopoverController does not notify its delegate when it is programmatically dismissed, only when it is dismissed by a tap outside its view. So we have no way of knowing when it is done. There are various techniques to discover whether or not the view has been dismissed. I chose a very simple polling technique that doesn’t make assumptions about whether or not it takes only one pass through the run loop, as other solutions do. For UIAlertView and UIActionSheet, I changed the delegate method I use to act on a button press from the “button pressed” delegate method to the “dismissed with button press” delegate method. This assures that the view has been dismissed before we continue.

 

Does It Matter Where Your Bible App Comes From?

Posted on: February 5th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 12 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 12.08.58 PMTrevor McKendrick is an atheist who wrote one of the top-selling Bible apps for iOS. A former Mormon, McKendrick saw an unserved niche market on the App Store and created a Spanish audio Bible to fill it. Now he’s banking over $100,000 per year selling the app. He compares the Bible to Harry Potter and describes Christians as people who learn the spells in the book and try to use them to heal their children. He compares them to people who teach The Lord of the Rings as real history.

Does it make any difference whether or not the people who create the products you use for Bible study agree with the materials they publish?

When I started writing Bible software in 1988 there were very few other products on the market. I purchased the King James Bible from Public Brand Software, a distributor of freeware and shareware programs for MS-DOS. While browsing their catalog (paper catalog — this was before the Web) I saw a Bible program called WordWorker and picked up a copy of that, too.

WordWorker was pretty impressive compared to other programs available at the time. My problem with it was that the programmer who wrote it was associated with The Way International, which denies key teachings of historic Christianity and adds a few of their own. They encourage severing ties with family and friends and living with other “believers” instead, which many argue qualifies them as a “cult”.

Coincidentally I had been unsuccessfully recruited by a member of The Way while in college. Noticing a strange-looking guy observing me playing pinball at the student union, I struck up a conversation and bought him a couple games (he had never played pinball). He invited me to join his “twig fellowship”. As a brand new Christian with very little foundation in the Bible, I struggled with figuring out if this was God’s direction or not. Fortunately I dodged that bullet, and got involved with a local church that had a strong emphasis on the Bible and Bible study, which is what eventually led me into developing Bible software.

It was difficult to get excited about using WordWorker because I felt like I was supporting a cult. Even if it coincidentally met my needs, it was hard to recommend to others or even use enthusiastically because I knew where it came from. One benefit of using Bible software that comes from a person with whom you share a common faith is that you don’t have to feel guilty about supporting something with which you disagree. You and I may not agree on every fine point of doctrine, and we may not share a common worship style preference, but I bet we’re closer to agreeing with each other on the fundamentals of the faith than you would be with an atheist.

I originally wrote my Bible study software as a tool for myself to use. Its features were designed to meet my needs, which I obviously knew well. I didn’t have to do any research to figure out what people who read the Bible wanted; I wrote what I wanted.

I took my Bible program (QuickVerse) to Parsons Technology in 1988, where, over the next ten years, I employed a couple dozen different programmers. Not all of them were practicing Christians, but they were good programmers. Jeff Wheeler (who would later leave Parsons with me to start Laridian) and I led the development of the program. Both of us were Bible-believing Christians who were not just developers, but users of the program.

Having real Christians write your Bible study app guarantees that it is designed to meet the needs of someone who really studies the Bible.

Parsons Technology was not a “Christian company”. It was a plain-old software company that happened to have a Church Software Division that published church management and Bible study software. Parsons was eventually purchased by Intuit (1994), which sold us to Broderbund (1997), which was purchased by The Learning Company (1998), which was purchased by Mattel (1999), which sold the Church Software Division to a dormant company that was rumored to have previously been a booking agency for Las Vegas acts (2000). During those years we were faced with a number of demands from our pagan overlords that compromised the quality of QuickVerse. They saw “unserved niches” on store shelves and wanted us to create products that were just old versions of QuickVerse with a new cover. They weren’t interested in meeting needs, but in making money.

This was the final straw for me. When it got to where creating Bible software was about duping people into buying old versions of our program at a cheap price because BestBuy or Costco was looking for 25-cent CD-ROMs to fill an end-cap, I bailed out and started Laridian in 1998.

Our goal has always been to focus on our customers and our product, not on creating a company to sell to the highest bidder. The features and reference materials you see in PocketBible come from customer feedback (and from our own needs as our product’s first customers). We bristle at doing things like renaming our product “@Bible” so that it pops up first in alphabetic search results on the App Store, or calling our program “Bible App” to cause it to come up first when you do a generic search for a Bible app, or seeding the store with identical products, all with different names, so it appears more often in your search results. This is what marketeers do to trick people into buying shoddy products. We aim for letting the quality and usability of our apps speak for themselves.

So another benefit of having real Christians write your Bible study app is that they’re not just seeing you as a rube who will spend their hard-earned money on a quickly thrown-together, shallow product, but rather they are committed to creating not just one download but an ecosystem of products that will meet your Bible study needs not only today, but for years to come.

I don’t have a doctrinal test for people with whom I do business, but I expect my Bible study materials to come from people who are as firmly committed to the Bible as I am. It’s not that they’re the only ones who I can trust to create useful products, but it is at least more likely that they’re doing a better job.

Choosing a Commentary for the way you study

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 10 Comments

Stack of booksFrom the early church fathers to Matthew Henry and beyond, Bible scholars and teachers continue to find different approaches for explaining the meaning of the Bible text to us. While we all appreciate their efforts, it can be difficult to choose from so many options. Here is a guide to help you easily navigate the commentary choices for use with PocketBible.

Concise Commentary

Brief but comprehensive is how the dictionary defines “concise.” You may see adjectives such as “overview,” “passage-by-passage” or “chapter-by-chapter” in the description for a concise commentary. Study Bibles generally fall into this category. As do Bible Handbooks which, among other features, offer brief commentary on the Bible text. The benefit of these types of commentaries is that they are brief and to the point. They either focus on the main or most important points of a verse or passage or provide overviews of Scripture in sections.

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Last Minute Gift Idea: PocketBible Books

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

gift ideasNo shipping required. No wrapping needed. A PocketBible book is the perfect gift for the last minute Christmas rush or any time of the year!

The only requirement to giving the gift of PocketBible is that your recipient have a compatible smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac where they can use the free PocketBible app. We offer versions of PocketBible that are compatible with iPhones, iPads, Macs, Android OS smartphones and tablets, all Kindle Fire devices, Windows Phones and PCs. You can simply purchase any PocketBible Bible, book or library using your current Laridian account. Check the gift option when you check out and we’ll send you instructions on how to communicate your gift to the recipient. If they aren’t already a PocketBible user, they will need to first download the free PocketBible app for their device and register it, to create their own account with us, before they can accept the gift from you. You can find complete details here.

No cost gift idea! While we mention this in our Gift FAQ, it bears repeating here. You can give any of your past purchased books away as well. For example, if you have a devotional that you’ve already read through and don’t plan on using again, you could gift this to someone else. While you may have paid for this item previously, it won’t cost you anything today because you will be giving an item you purchased in the past.

New to PocketBible! If your recipient is new to PocketBible, here are some gift suggestions to consider:

  • 2015 PocketBible Libraries – these collections of Bibles and books are deeply discounted (over “sold separate” price) and are ideal for jump-starting Bible study.
  • Under $25 – Bible translation + study Bible Note set. Bible translation + devotional. Both are good starter combinations that will normally keep your purchase under $25. Some suggested titles:
  • Over $40 and Save 15% – if you choose a combination of 2 or more PocketBible books that totals over $40, you can use our BUNDLEOFFER code at checkout to save 15%. (Excludes PocketBible Libraries and the NIV Bible)

Updated King James Version for PocketBible

Posted on: October 9th, 2014 by Craig Rairdin 22 Comments

Title_PageWe’ve just updated the text of the King James Version we use in PocketBible. Whether you’re a devoted reader of the KJV or only have it installed because it came bundled with your copy of PocketBible, you should welcome this move to a more pedigreed version of the text.

Laridian has long been criticized for the perceived lack of attention we’ve paid to our KJV text by those for whom the accuracy of this text is a major issue. The previous version of our text was from an unknown source and contained American spellings and modern replacements for many archaic words. In some cases, these aspects of the text went unnoticed but in others they were very apparent and called into question the quality of the rest of the text.

The most commonly cited problem was our use of the word thoroughly in 2 Timothy 3:17, where the original 1611 KJV uses the archaic word throughly. While it is the case that the word throughly is defined as “thoroughly; completely”, there are some who feel the original word conveys some additional meaning that is lost by the change to thoroughly. This, despite the fact that Vine’s Expository Dictionary says “For THROUGHLY see THOROUGHLY” and even Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary says “For this, thoroughly is now used”.  This is just one example, though arguably the most significant, of about 100 spelling changes between our previous edition of the KJV and our newest release.

A Little History

The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible was the result of a project to revise the text of the Bishops’ Bible, which was the Bible of the Church of England at the turn of the 17th century. In 1604, a committee of fifty-four men were appointed to undertake the revision. Work was delayed until 1607, by which time only forty-seven of the original appointees were available to work on the project. The instructions given to the translators were to alter the text of the Bishops’ Bible as little as possible and to use the text of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Whitchurch, or Geneva when those translations agree more closely with the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The editors worked in several teams, each tackling a portion of the books of the Bible. When the work was complete, representatives of each group oversaw a final editorial pass through the text and two men worked closely with the printer to supervise the first printing in 1611.

A number of factors made it impossible for any two early print runs of the KJV to be identical. First, the printing technology at the time required that a single page be created by laying out individual pieces of type (each representing one letter, punctuation mark, or space) to create a form. Once the entire print run for that page was completed, the type was reclaimed to create the next page. By necessity, then, the second and subsequent printings of the Bible had to be re-set from scratch using the original documents or the previous printing as a guide. While errors in the previous printings could be corrected at this time, the resetting of every page made it possibile for new errors to be introduced. In 1725, printers at Cambridge University came up with the idea of making a plaster mould of an entire form, then using this to cast a metal stereotype or cliché from which identical subsequent prints could be made. This helped reduce the errors from constant resetting of the text.

A second source of variation in the text was the lack of a standard English orthography (spelling). Most people in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced reading vicariously — the actors in Shakespeare’s plays repeated his words on stage, and the clergy read the Bible aloud to the congregation. As long as the words could be pronounced in a way the hearer could understand, the spelling of the word on the page was irrelevant. It would be another 150 years before the idea of “standard” spelling and even the concept of a dictionary of the English language would come about. In the meantime, there might be two or more different spellings of the same word within one printing of the Bible (or any book for that matter).

To complicate this further, and because correct spelling simply wasn’t an issue, typesetters would add or remove letters from words to make them fit better on a line of type. This introduced another opportunity for variation.

Even after stereotyping made it possible for one publisher to maintain consistency between printings of the same book, each publisher created their own forms and thereby introduced their own changes into the text. Publishers also felt free to add or remove footnotes, change punctuation, and revise the spelling or word usage for their particular audience.

The result of all of this is that we have literally hundreds of different versions of the King James Version text on bookshelves around the world, created over a period of more than 400 years by dozens of publishers using a variety of printing techniques. Each of these is labelled “King James Version” and none come with a list of how they differ from the printing before them, let alone the original 1611 text.

The Age of Electronic Publishing

In the late 20th century it became possible for anyone with a high-speed scanner and optical character recognition software to create an electronic copy of the King James Version text — and they did. Our previous King James Version text was the product of one such person’s efforts. We don’t know which of hundreds of available versions of the KJV text they used, but we know it had Americanized spellings (honorable for honourablerazor for rasorcounseller for counsellor, etc) and modern proper names (Jeremiah instead of Jeremy or JeremiasNoah instead of NoeIsaiah instead of Esaias, etc.). It also used a number of modern words in place of their archaic counterparts (the previously cited thoroughly in place of throughlyprivately in place of privilyfood in place of meattwo in place of twain, etc.).

Laridian’s Historic Position

Because the KJV has been around for 400 years; because it lived through every significant improvement in publishing since moveable type; and because we could find no two KJV Bibles (especially from different publishers) which agreed with each other, we took the position that there was no “best” KJV text. In every case cited by a customer, we could find an example of a KJV Bible from a major publisher that agreed with our version and another that agreed with them.

Lacking an obvious answer to the question “Which KJV is the KJV?” short of the 1611 text (which nobody reads since it uses “u” for “v”, “j” for “i”, and something like “f” for “long s”, rendering it virtually unreadable), we turned to two authoritative sources. First was Cambridge University, which is the steward of the Crown’s copyright on the King James Version in the United Kingdom. During a conversation over a meal, I asked if they had electronic files for the “official” King James Version — assuming there was such a thing, perhaps in a vault buried deep under London. Had I not been paying for their dinner, I would’ve been laughed out of the room. They repeated much of what I’ve stated above, and added the fact that every publisher over the years has made their own “corrections” and changes to the text, including Cambridge itself. They could offer me no advice other than to use one of their more recent printings (for which they had no electronic files). Since that would carry no more weight of being “the” KJV than the one we already had, that seemed like a waste of time.

I next turned to Dr. Peter Ruckman, perhaps the most well-known authority on the “KJV Only” position. Dr. Ruckman argues not only that the KJV is the only accurate English Bible in existence, but that it supersedes the original Hebrew and Greek texts in any question over interpretation of the Word of God. According to Dr. Ruckman, translations of the Bible should be made from it, not from Hebrew and Greek. I wrote Dr. Ruckman a letter asking for his recommendations for an “official” text of the King James Version that would satisfy the requirements of his most vocal followers for an accurate text. Dr. Ruckman scrawled “IDIOT” over my letter and sent it back to me, with the comment “any Gideon Bible”. I pulled my Gideon Bible off the shelf and found it to be a modern English version, not the KJV at all. Of course, I don’t believe Ruckman was making the case that the Gideons were the Keepers of the Authoritative King James Version Bible Text, but rather that I could literally grab any KJV Bible off the shelf, even the free Gideon Bible I found in a hotel, and use it in our software.

When the appeal to authority failed, we simply settled into distributing the KJV that we had and left it at that.

The Pure/Standard Cambridge Edition

Once or twice a year we are contacted by PocketBible users who have a serious problem with our KJV (usually citing the use of thoroughly in 2 Tim 3:17) and encouraging us to publish “the” KJV (and threatening us if we don’t). None of these users have ever been able to point to a definitive, authoritative source for this text, but recently we were directed to two sources: The Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) at www.bibleprotector.com and Brandon Staggs’ Common Cambridge Edition at av1611.com. Both of these sites claim to have done extensive research to produce an electronic edition of the text that matches that in use by Cambridge University Press around 1900-1910, down to the last punctuation mark, capital letter, and use of italics.

We downloaded these texts and compared them to each other. They differ in about a dozen places, none of which are anywhere near as significant as the use of thoroughly for throughly in 2 Tim 3:17. After looking at some other similar sources, we settled on a version of the text that draws mostly from the Pure Cambridge Edition except in a couple places where we felt the Common Cambridge Edition was better. (In particular, we hyphenate Elelohe-Israel and Meribah-Kadesh instead of creating the “camel-case” spellings EleloheIsrael and MeribahKadesh used in the PCE, and we chose to leave out the footers THE END OF THE PROPHETS after Malachi 4:6 and THE END after Revelation 22:21.)

It was fairly trivial to convert this text to PocketBible format. The hard part was merging Strong’s numbers into it, but we’ve done that to create an updated version of our King James Version With Strong’s Numbers product as well. This has the additional benefit of bringing these two texts into agreement with each other, as even our own KJV and KJV/Strong’s texts had disagreed in a number of places.

Lessons Learned

We’ve gained a new appreciation not just for the King James Version in this process, but also for the history of the English language and printing technology. The myriad variations on the KJV text had led us to “give up” and settle for what was easy. However, this project created the desire to produce something of historical validity and significance, even if it can’t be said to be “the” KJV.

While we don’t agree with those who argue that the KJV is the only English Bible we should be reading, we do agree that it has historical significance and that we should provide a version of it that meets with the approval of those who put it on a taller pedestal than we do. We believe this edition of the KJV for PocketBible meets that standard.

We’re considering publishing some earlier editions of the KJV just for their historical value. While we don’t find reading the 1611 text to be particularly edifying, we do find it interesting. For example:

“And as Moses lifted vp the serpent in the wildernesse : euen so must the Sonne of man be lifted vp : That whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue eternall life. For God so loued yͤ world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne : that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”

I’m particularly intrigued by the shorthand rendition of the word “the” in “God so loued yͤ world”. This comes from the Early Middle English spelling of “the”, which was þe (the archaic letter thorn followed by e). When printed in the common black letter or gothic font, thorn looked very similar to y, and printers (especially in France where thorn did not exist in their alphabet) would substitute the letter y. When needed to make the words better fit on a line, the e would be placed above the y as you see here. (Another example is the word thou which was often shortened to yͧ.) It’s easy to imagine how yͤ became “ye” in “Ye Olde Book Shoppe”, and why “Ye” in this context should be pronounced with a “th” sound like “the”.

Anyway, I digress….

You can simply download the KJV from within PocketBible if you’re running PocketBible on a platform that supports that feature, or, if you have PocketBible for Windows Desktop, go to your download account at our site to download a new installation program for the KJV or KJVEC (KJV with Strong’s Numbers).

 

A Couple Security-Related Issues

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

HeartbleedJust a couple brief comments  on two unrelated security issues. You’ve probably heard about the Heartbleed vulnerability that affected many websites this week. For some reason, the media didn’t mention that the affected servers are running Linux. (There are issues with certain programs running on other servers, but the primary impact was for those sites running Linux-based servers.) They’re quick to jump on Microsoft when it comes to security flaws in Windows, but I guess Linux doesn’t get the same treatment. Weird.

Anyway, we run Windows servers here and don’t appear to be affected by Heartbleed. This blog is on a Linux box, but there’s nothing valuable here except for my rambling a on various topics, and those are only mildly worth stealing.

Coincidentally, we were working on another security-related issue when we heard about Heartbleed. A few of you have given us grief in the past for sending password reminders in email. While your Laridian password doesn’t expose any personal information of import, except perhaps your mailing address — which is widely available elsewhere — it was still disconcerting to see your password show up in clear text.

So we’ve made some changes now so that we don’t send out passwords but instead send a link to a page where you can reset your password.  This should provide a little more security, especially if you’re in the habit of using the same password everywhere. :-)

Serendipitous Programming

Posted on: July 27th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

Today I’ve been working on a new feature for PocketBible for iOS and one thing led to another, and, well, I ended up implementing a feature I didn’t know I was working on, and didn’t realize how much of it was already sitting there, waiting to be exposed to the user.

So the new feature I thought I was working on is the ability to “rename” your highlight colors. That is, you’ll be able to assign a topic to each color. Then when you highlight a verse, instead of seeing a list containing “Khaki”, “Cornflower Blue” and “Hot Pink”, you’ll see “Salvation”, “God’s Love” and “Prophecy”. We’ve been wanting to implement this for a long time. While we were upgrading our cloud synchronization protocol over the last few months, I added the ability to sync highlight color names with the server and we took advantage of that in PocketBible for Windows Phone and Windows Store. The plan has always been to roll that into other platforms as we have the opportunity.

While looking through the code that shows you your list of highlight colors (which I’ll have to modify to show you your user-defined names for those colors) I stumbled into a bit of code that Jeff wrote years ago but then “commented out”. (If we have code that we’d like to retain for reference purposes but don’t want to actually have the computer execute, we turn the code into a “comment” so it will be ignored by the compiler but still be there if we want to see it.)

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that Jeff was my programming partner for 27 years before his death from cancer in May 2012. It’s been a bittersweet year as I’ve had to deal with his passing while surrounded and immersed every day in code that he wrote. I keep running into little things that remind me of him, make me want to give him a call to talk about a problem, or give me a chuckle. So it’s always interesting when I run into a piece of code like this.

What this particular piece of code did was add three additional highlighting styles to the list of colors you can highlight with. These are “underline”, “strikeout”, and “underline+strikeout”. Those look like this, this, and this, respectively.

Now, why would you ever want to strike out a verse? That’s a good question and takes me back fifteen years to the days of the Palm operating system when cameras were cameras, phones were phones, and “portable digital assistants” were all the rage. In those days, color displays were luxuries that cost money, size, weight, and battery life. So most of those devices had monochromatic screens.

On color screens, we could highlight a verse with a background color. But what could we do on these black and white screens? Since our text was coded in HTML, and since HTML offered simple styles like bold, italics, underline, and strikeout, we decided to use those. We ended up not using bold and italics because they could cause the text to re-wrap when they were applied, and in those days of wimpy processors, it just took too long and was disturbing to see. That left us with underline and strikeout, so that’s what we used.

As time has gone on, we’ve gotten to where we don’t even include these underline and strikeout highlighting styles in our programs. They’re not in PocketBible for iOS, and we weren’t planning on implementing them in PocketBible for Android. Unfortunately, some of you who were around back then and have sync’ed your highlights from your Palm PDA to PocketBible for Windows to our server and to PocketBible for iPhone expect to see those underlines. So we have to at least be able to display them if they exist, but we don’t let you create them (because we don’t want to proliferate a bad idea).

What I discovered today was Jeff’s original code for being able to create underline, strikeout, and underline+strikeout highlights in PocketBible for iOS. His comment said he had taken them out because the display engine (my code) didn’t support them. Sometime between then and now I implemented those highlight styles but we just never went back into Jeff’s code and turned those choices on.

On a whim, I enabled those lines of code and what do you know — they worked! That put me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether or not to leave them in. I never liked the idea of striking verses from the Bible, and even once you get over that, it makes the text hard to read.

About then it was time for dinner and I set the laptop aside to meet my wife and get something to eat. On the way there it occurred to me that we now have some better styling options that we had back in 1998. New versions of HTML with CSS support dotted and dashed underlines.

When I got home I spent about 30 minutes and implemented the styles you see here. These new styles replace the old styles rather than adding to them. So where you had strikeouts, you’ll have dotted underlines. And where you had strikeout+underline, you’ll have dashed underlines. I think this is a nice way of making your legacy data from your Palm days more usable and it gives you three more highlighting styles to use in PocketBible for iOS. (If you’re having trouble making out the dots and dashes, click on the screen shot to see the original size image.)

One of the cool things about this is that the underlying data storage and cloud synchronization already supports it. We’re not changing the data we save, but rather the interpretation of the data. So nothing changes in any of the other platforms nor on the server.

What I think is special about this — even though it’s not a life-changing feature — is that Jeff left it behind and it only took a little extra work to make it useful. And I like that all the infrastructure both for storing the new highlight styles and displaying them was already there.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to work on naming your highlight colors. But this was a nice little one or two hour detour to give us an unexpected new feature in PocketBible.

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