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Archive for August, 2009

Status Update – PocketBible for iPhone

Posted on: August 31st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 34 Comments

We’re at one week since submitting the app to the App Store and I want to answer a few questions that have come up in email and in the comments.

  • We will not get any feedback from Apple until/unless the app is approved. The current status is “In Review” and that’s all we’ll know until they actually either approve or decline it. If they decline it, they’ll tell us why and tell us what to do to fix it. We don’t have any reason to believe they won’t approve it, or if they find problems, that they won’t approve it eventually.
  • We appreciate your offers to give us donations to cover the cost of development. We’ve thought about formalizing that process but at the same time you can “donate” by simply not using our discount codes when you place an order for add-on books. We’re embarrassed to even suggest such a thing and are humbled by your generosity.
  • We will be having some kind of site-wide sale once the new product is approved on the App Store. We’ll send an email out to current customers and probably post something here in the blog. If you’re interested in building your library, that will be a good time to do it.
  • You will have access to all your current Bibles and reference books from inside PocketBible for iPhone. I’m not sure how to make this more clear. Take a look at the first video here. All I’m doing is logging into my existing account using my customer ID and password (you can also use your email address instead of customer ID if you don’t know it). Once I’m logged in, I see a list of everything I’ve previously purchased for any platform. I can download any of those titles to the iPhone.
  • Memorize!, DailyReader for Palm OS, and the old PrayerPartner for Palm OS are programs, not reference books, and won’t be included in the titles you can download for iPhone. We have not announced our plans for a version of Memorize! or PrayerPartner for the iPhone. The features of DailyReader are built into PocketBible and will be enhanced in future releases of PocketBible for iPhone.
  • MyBible users will probably have the biggest transition to make. As you might know, MyBible was written by an outside developer who was a Palm employee at the time. We marketed it on his behalf. At the same time, we developed PocketBible for Windows Mobile in-house. It was the original product that Jeff Wheeler and I wrote starting back in 1998 and which motivated us to leave Parsons Technology in late 1998/early 1999 together with Jim VanDuzer to start Laridian. PocketBible for iPhone is based on the Windows Mobile code base and overall philosophy of operation. The differences are subtle but you may notice them. For example, MyBible lets you highlight a single letter in a word. PocketBible highlights entire verses.
  • Remember, this is version 1.0.0. Other versions are coming. If you don’t see a favorite feature, tell us about it, then wait. We’ll be constantly working on updates for the next few months. Those of you who got involved in in the very early stages remember that we issued updates every couple of weeks for a few months as we rounded out the feature list. We’ll be doing the same thing with PocketBible for iPhone.
  • If you can find it in your hearts, give us a nice review. Early reviews are important. If you can do us the favor of complaining to us directly by email instead of through your reviews on the App Store, that would be great. We’re going to do everything we can to be responsive and make sure PocketBible for iPhone is everything you want it to be. If people express their complaints through App Store reviews instead of directly to us, the product could fail before we have the opportunity to finish it.
  • We haven’t forgotten Windows Mobile. There will be a new release of WM next year and we currently plan to revisit PocketBible for Windows Mobile sometime before then and release an update. Nothing firm yet.

That’s it for now. I just checked and there’s no change in the status of the app as of this morning. I’m sure one of you will probably spot it before I do. :-)

Free classic titles

Posted on: August 29th, 2009 by Michelle Stramel 3 Comments

If you like the classics, you’ll be glad to know we’ve made the following titles available for free:

  • Augustine’s Writings
  • Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia
  • Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  • Hitchcock Bible Names Dictionary
  • Imitation of Christ
  • Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary
  • Nave’s Topical Bible
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Scofields Reference Notes (1917)
  • Torrey’s Topical Textbook
  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

These titles are all available for iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Windows PC with the exception of Augustine’s Writings which are not currently available for Palm OS or iPhone and Pilgrim’s Progress which is not available for Palm OS. To download these books, select the items on the iPhone, Windows Mobile, Palm or Windows PC Order Forms and add them to your account. From there you can follow the instructions to download them from your account and install to your device.

PocketBible for iPhone Uploaded to App Store

Posted on: August 24th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 42 Comments

PocketBible Splash ScreenThis afternoon I uploaded PocketBible for iPhone version 1.0.0 to the App Store.

Now we wait.

Apple says it will take about two weeks. We’ll see. I know that uploading took me only 15 minutes, but that was after spending hours trying to find the right combination of options NOT to choose and titles I was NOT allowed to use for the program. So I’m not going to be surprised if approval takes longer than two weeks.

In the meantime we have a lot of work to do on the Web site to get it ready for the release. We’re going to try to make some changes to the way our e-commerce works at the same time. Hopefully we won’t break anything important.

I previously posted several videos of PocketBible in action. So if you’re curious, take a look at those.

One of the last things to come together was the program icon. We went through three major themes before finding a last-minute idea with promise. Our first idea was to lift the Bible icon from our Windows Mobile app. But when we looked at the 60 or more Bible apps on the iPhone, it seems over half of them had the same idea. So we were afraid we’d get lost.

So then we went with a version of our company logo. That had some fans, but suffered from being not very scalable as we release new programs (i.e. we only have one company logo but we expect to have more than one iPhone app). Plus it was boring.

While this was going on we had an artist work on a “Bible in a pocket” icon. The beta testers weren’t crazy about that one.

One of our testers is a fellow developer. He turned us on to his icon designer, who had the idea to used stained glass as a theme. We weren’t crazy about this at first but then I found a stained glass artist in Minnesota who had done some very contemporary looking work for a Lutheran church that seemed like it might work. We contacted the artist (Nicholas Markell) and he was willing to work with us. There were some interesting copyright issues, but Nick was a very reasonable guy and was pretty knowledgeable on the topic and we were able to work through those very painlessly.

So the program icon and splash screen (shown here) are based on a stained glass window entitled “Baptism of Jesus”. While the baptism of Jesus has little to do with our program, a little creative reinterpretation makes it work well. The Holy Spirit, represented here as a dove, illuminates the Scriptures for the believer. The water represents the “living water” (John 4) of the Word of God that gives eternal life through the cross, which is in the background of the image. Across the surface of the water runs the “scarlet thread of redemption” that ties the Bible together from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation.

In addition to the obvious symbolic significance of this particular work of art, there’s the bigger symbolism of stained glass in a Christian context. Beyond its obvious beauty, stained glass windows served a valuable purpose in churches: They taught the stories of the Bible to a largely illiterate population. For many people in medieval times, church windows were their Bibles.

We like the meta symbolism of the medium of stained glass representing the Bible, and the specific symbolism of this piece as it relates to studying the Bible with our program. And besides, it looks really nice on the iPhone.

It’s unlikely we’ll hear any good news until the program is approved. We’ll pass along any bad news we receive just to keep you informed. Until then we have plenty to do to get ready. We appreciate all your kind words and prayers.

Laridian Logo Apparel Available at our Lands’ End Store

Posted on: August 21st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

Laridian LogoOne of our PocketBible beta testers spotted a picture of Jeff in a Laridian pullover with me in a Laridian polo and asked if he could purchase Laridian apparel anywhere.

We have a long-standing relationship with Lands’ End going back to our days at Parsons Technology. I have a picture on my wall of the entire Church Software Division staff at Parsons in our purple Parsons polos from 1995, and for a couple of years I gave out Lands’ End gift certificates to them as Christmas gifts.

Lands’ End normally password-protects logos so that they won’t be used without permission. So I went fishing for a way that you can use our logos on your purchases there. Turns out they have a way for us to create our own store. We don’t get a commission, which is dumb, but you get to use our logos.

So here’s a link to Laridian at Lands’ End. There are two versions of the Laridian logo. One is the one you see here. The other has LARIDIAN in large type with a very small version of the flying book logo below it. That version is in black and looks good on most colors.

Note that you don’t automatically get the Laridian logo on everything you buy. You have to add it. Once you select your item, there’s an option to choose a logo and a location on the item to put the logo.

Like I said we don’t make a dime from these sales, but the quality is very good and customer service is excellent. We hope you’ll enjoy your Laridian apparel from Lands’ End!

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 5 / Release Candidate 1

Posted on: August 18th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 23 Comments

Just a quick note to let you know we released Beta 5 to the testers tonight. We consider this a true release candidate. In other words, if the testers don’t find anything wrong, there’s nothing left to do before it goes to Apple. (Nothing, that is, other than changing the version number and putting the official program icon into the program, which hasn’t been finished yet.)

We expect the beta testers will find some things that need to be fixed. :-)

Apple is reporting that most apps are approved within two weeks based on the current volume of submissions. Since this is our first submission, we expect it to come back with things we need to fix before it can be accepted.

We appreciate your patience more than you know. We also want to remind you that once this version is released we will be following it with several updates in rapid succession to round out the feature list. So stick with us through 1.0.0 and your favorite features from our other programs will show up fairly quickly.

Book Review: Bible Knowledge Commentary

Posted on: August 12th, 2009 by Michelle Stramel 6 Comments

As you spend quiet time with God, studying His Word, do you ever wish for a better understanding? Seek to really KNOW what God is saying in the passage, and how you can better apply it to your life? I do. I am often not satisfied with merely reading, but need to truly understand what is being said. This can mean not only finding out the original Greek or Hebrew of the text, but also understanding in what context it was originally written, who it was originally written to, and in what circumstance the receivers were in that they needed those particular words at that particular moment in time. Incorporating the Bible Knowledge Commentary into my study times; gives answers into the background information of a book or passage and insight into the original text.


PocketBible for iPhone Video Demos

Posted on: August 10th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 10 Comments

I put a link to these videos in my last post but some of you may have missed it since I edited an existing blog article.

I’ve posted some videos of PocketBible for the iPhone in action on our YouTube channel. You can view those videos here.

These videos were created while running the program in the iPhone Simulator on the Mac. It makes for a nice video but the program runs faster on a Mac than it does on the actual device.

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 4 Released

Posted on: August 8th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

I told you a few weeks ago I’d let you know when Beta 3 of PocketBible for iPhone went to the testers, but I forgot to do that. I’m here this evening to let you know that Beta 4 went out the door a few minutes ago.

Click here for a few videos showing PocketBible for iPhone in action.

I think the program is coming together well and we’re down to tasks like writing the documentation. One of the cool things about the iPhone app is that the documentation is “just another book” inside the program. So as we revise the User Guide, our testers just go to the “Add/Remove Books” function of the program and grab the latest version from our server. It is downloaded directly into the program.

Back in January we asked our Alpha testers, “Would you rather that we release the program as soon as possible but perhaps missing a few features, or wait until we’re completely done before releasing it?” They were very vocal in their opinion that we should get something out ASAP. So we’re going to be asking that you bear with us just a bit through the first 3-4 updates of the program once we release it to the App Store. Version 1.0.0 will be missing a few features that we fully intend to have in the program. In fact, by the time Apple approves 1.0.0 we’ll probably already have 1.0.1 ready to upload to the App Store with the additional features. I anticipate doing this very regularly for 3-4 versions until the program gets its full set of features.

This is not to say that the first release won’t be a useful program. It will support all our Bibles and reference books but will be missing a few things like note taking and tracking your devotional reading progress. Those features will come quickly after the initial version is released.

Thanks for your patience and prayers. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s looking less and less like an oncoming train.

On Christian Economics

Posted on: August 8th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 26 Comments

From time to time we’re approached by (or we approach) a publisher with a Bible or reference title they’d like to distribute through Laridian at no charge. That’s fine with us, of course, especially if they do all the work to create the title with BookBuilder. But some of these folks have second thoughts when they find out that we charge for our reader software. They feel uncomfortable having their work supporting a for-profit company. (Of course if they knew how little profit was in it, perhaps they’d change their minds.) :-)

I used to use a biblical argument to support the idea that the “laborer is worthy of his wages”. Paul asks “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?” (1 Cor 9) However, I found that people couldn’t follow this argument. It wasn’t that they thought it didn’t apply in our situation, but rather they just didn’t understand what the passage was even talking about.

So now I take a different tact: It’s OK for people to go to Best Buy and pay $1000 for a computer or $300 for a mobile phone on which to run Bible software. And it’s OK that $50-$100 of that purchase goes to Microsoft or Apple or some other company to pay for the operating system on that computer or phone. When they get the computer home, it’s OK to pay Qwest for high-speed internet access for the computer on which you’re going to do Bible study. Computers require electricity, so it’s OK to pay the local utility company for power to keep the computer running while you do your Bible study. Assuming we’re talking about a home user, and realizing that most people have a mortgage, it’s OK to pay interest to J.P. Morgan Chase or some other big bank for the privilege of having a roof over your computer.

Everyone agrees there’s nothing unbiblical about paying for your computer, operating system, internet access, electricity, and mortgage interest. However, next you want to install Bible software. But God forbid that we should pay the fellow believers who dedicate their lives to creating software to help people study the Bible! Sure, we’ll pay Best Buy, Microsoft, Apple, Qwest, the power company, and the bank — we all know how selflessly dedicated these companies are to advancing the goals of the Kingdom of God — but we’re certainly not going to pay fellow believers to create our Bible study software! That would violate our deeply held Christian principles!

I know that 99% of you reading this blog agree with my argument. It’s great that there are brothers and sisters who donate their time to advancing the Kingdom. But there are some of us who have no other means of support other than what we do to help others understand and apply the scriptures. If we “donate” our time, our kids go hungry. We all think this is obvious, but not everyone does. I thought you might find it interesting that there really are Christians out there who have no trouble supporting secular programmers but balk at supporting their brothers and sisters.

And if you’re in the “Bible software should be free” camp I hope you’ll take a minute to think about who you willingly give your money to (your grocer, mortgage holder, utility company, doctor, plumber, paper boy, internet service provider, mechanic, movie theater, dentist, garbage man, and others) and who you think should go without (your brothers and sisters in Christ) so that you can have cool stuff.

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