31 December 2015

The Bible of Many Colors


William McDermot

Two versions in the Google Play Store:
* Gratis, with advertising.
* US$1.99, no advertising.

Rating: 1/10 (Unmodified score: 1.525/100)

In a blog post that has long since migrated to /dev/null, Kevin Purcell divided biblical software into three groups:
* Bible Reading programs;
* Public Domain programs;
* Bible Study programs;

This program falls solidly in the Bible Reading program class.

The app does two things:
* Download PDF files, which are then read by the PDF reader on one’s device;
* Deliver advertisements to the user;

In 2014, the mobile apps industry generated US$35,000,000 in revenue,(^1) of which US$3,500,000 was from in-app advertising. The median developer receives US$400 per year, from all revenue sources in the mobile app industry(^2).

The developer frankly states that the point of in-app advertising, is to generate revenue, to cover the cost of developing this Bible version. I suspect more revenue would be generated by offering it on Kindle Select, for US$2.99. Or, if one wants to stay in the realm of Biblical software, peddle it to FaithLife, Laridian, Olive Tree, and the other organizations that sell resources for their Biblical software.

Back around 2004, in The e-Sword Utility Program FAQ, I mused about a Bible translation that colourized every word in the Bible that was spoken by somebody, or something. Jim Albright wrote the first version of Dramatizer in 2001, and last updated it in 2010. (Source code is at http://code.google.com/p/dramatizer/ until Google shuts down Google Code, which is scheduled for sometime in 2016.) Dramatizer doesn’t colourize words for one, but it does generate a worksheet that can be fed into a python script, that will colourize the Biblical text. (Dramatizer is Windows only. Dramatizer won’t run under WINE. After spending about ten minutes looking at the code, I concluded that it would be easier to rewrite the program in Python, than try to figure out what to change, so it would run under WINE.)

In the explanation of how the Bible of Many Colors came about, William McDermott claims it took him nine years to generate this Bible. In essence, the text is underlined in the colour of the individual that is speaking, and highlighted in the colour of the individual being referred to.
As such, this version would be a useful item, if it was a resource in one’s Biblical software.

As a stand alone app, all it does, is make it easier for malware to infect one’s device, through the advertising that it displays. (The only delivery mode of malware that has higher ROI than Internet advertising, is targeted phishing.)

^1: The Comprehensive App Economic Blog 2014. http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/

^2: http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/.a/6a00e0097e337c883301b7c7ffda55970b-pi.

25 May 2015

Who Done It?

This method of Bible study ignores what is said. Instead, one asks a series of questions about the circumstances of the communication.
  • Who is speaking?
  • Who are they speaking to?
  • Who are they speaking about?

  • Who is present?
  • Who is not present, but whose presence would be expected?
  • Who is present, whose presence is unexpected?

  • What type of building are they speaking in?
  • What hamlet, village, city are they speaking in?
  • What country are they speaking in?

  • What time of day are they speaking?
  • What time of the week are they speaking?
  • What time of the month are they speaking?
  • What time of the year are they speaking?

  • When are they speaking?
  • Who is the primary audience of this passage?
  • Who is the secondary audience of this passage?

The Examination

Somebody sent me an email, asking for a copy of the sequence of questions I term The Examination. This is something that might be useful for other people.

This was constructed over the course of around thirty years. As I encountered questions that I thought would be useful additions, I added them, but not their source. Some of them are from reading material such as Tim LaHayes' How To Study The Bible For Yourself.  Other questions are from studying the Bible with active non-Christians.

The Examination

This covers the following questions, and points:

What is the Context

  • Immediate Context:
    • What precedes the word(s)? 
    • What follows the word(s)?
  • Remote Context: 
    • What is the main theme of the chapter?
    • What is the main theme of the book?
  • Total Context:
    • What does the Bible as a whole, say? 
    • What does the rest of the Testament say?

What is the outline of the Passage?
  • What is the outline of the chapter?
  • Pay attention to the connectives
Study parallel passages
  • Passages in canonical works;
  • Passages in non-canonical works;
What is the background of the passage?
  • Internal sources:
    • Study all of the Books in the entire Canon;
    • Take copious notes;
  • External sources:
    • Study the commentaries;
    • Study Greek, Hebrew, English, and Aramaic Dictionaries;
Understand the words
  • Recognize the literary style book:
    • Prose narrative; 
    • Poetry; 
    • Parabolic literature; 
    • Apocalyptic literature;
    • Discourses;
  • Observe the context:
    • The same word usually means the same thing in the same passage, but in a different passage may have a different meaning;
  • Study the specific words:
    • Get all the meanings of the word; 
    • Look at the root of the word; 
    • Look at other words with the same gematria value; 
    • Look at how it is used in other passages.;
  • Study the figures of speech:
  • Pay attention to the underlying language: 
    • Aramaic;
    • Hebrew;
    • Greek; 
    • Latin;
Make Observations about The Actions in the Passage:
  • Who is being discussed:
    • Who was present when it was written; 
    • Who else was around at the time;
    • Who wrote the passage; 
  • Who is involved in the passage:

  • What is the passage about: 
    • What else is the passage about
  • When was it written:
    • What was the time; 
    • What was the date; 
    • What was the season; 
    • What was the astronomical configuration;
  • When do the events in the passage take place:
    • What stage in life; 
    • What time in physical terms; 
    • What astronomical configuration;
  • Where do the events in the passage take place:

  • Where was the author when the passage was written:

  • Why was it written:

  • How was it written:
Make observations about thoughts
  • Literary form: 
    • Prose; 
    • Poetry; 
    • Dialogue;
    • Monologue;
  • Words and phrases:
    • Key words; 
    • Key phrases; 
    • Recurring phrases; 
    • Unfamiliar words; 
    • Gematria connections;
  • Expression:
    • Idiomatic expression; 
    • Figures of Speech;
  • Grammar: 
    • Verb; 
    • Noun; 
    • Pronoun; 
    • Conjunction; 
    • Command; 
    • Question; 
    • Gerund;
  • Structure of paragraphs:
    • How do they relate to the others in the same verse; 
    • How do they relate to others in the same chapter; 
    • How do they relate to others in the same book;
  • Composition:
    • Repetition; 
    • Comparison; 
    • Contrast; 
    • Progression; 
    • Digression; 
    • Cause and Effect; 
    • Questions and Answers;
  • Literary Style:
    • Mood of the passage; 
    • Mood of the word; 
    • Tense of the passage; 
    • Tense of the word; 
    • Atmosphere; 
    • Illustrations; 
    • Idiomatic Expression; 
    • Puns; 
    • Figures of Speech; 
    • Quotes; 
    • Anagrams; 
    • Palindromes;
Answer the following:
  • What principles are explicitly stated?
  • What principles are implicitly stated?
  • How does it apply to me?
  • How do I apply in my life?
  • What do I need to change to live by those principles?
Make up your own questions about the passage:
  • Definitive --- pertaining to meaning;
  • Rational --- pertaining to reason;
  • Structural --- pertaining to relationship;
  • Implicational --- pertaining to things implied;
  • Theological --- pertaining to doctrine;
  • Historical --- background information;
  • Cultural --- background information;
  • Speculative --what else could be meant;
  • Application --- what is the personal application;
  • What is the personal challenge;
  • Interpretation --- the meaning of the author;
  • Open doors to new insight;
  • Information --- observe significant facts;
Formulating good questions:
  • Is the question clear and easy to understand
  • Does it give enough information to guide the thinking
  • Does it have a definite answer
  • Will it lead to speculation
  • Does it stimulate the thought process
  • Does it make a point worth discussing at this tome by this group
  • Does the question reveal the answer
What is the meaning:
  • Figurative meaning;
  • Literal meaning;
  • Qua Postmodernism;
  • Qua Objectivism;
  • Qua Marxism;
  • Qua Maoism;
  • Qua Existentialism;
  • Qua Reform Jewish theology;
  • Qua Conservative Jewish theology;
  • Qua Karaite theology;
  • Qua Orthodox Jewish theology;
  • Qua Sh’ite theology;
  • Qua Suni theology;
  • Qua Daoist theology;
  • Qua Tibetan Buddhist theology;
  • Qua Zen Buddhist theology;
  • As transpersonal psychology;
  • As metaphor;
    • As annihilation metaphor;
    • As sexual metaphor;
  • As Pentecostal theology;
  • As Baptist theology;
  • As Orthodox Christian theology;
  • As Catholic Christian theology;
  • As Calvinist theology;
  • As Lutheran theology;
  • As a tool of social control;
  • As a tool of political control;
Some Guiding principles:
  • What is the relevancy of the passage?
  • What is the universal practice?
  • What is the local practice?
  • Change your life to accord with the principle;
  • Keep a record of how you apply the principle;
Study preparation
  • Look for the relation of the passage to the context;
  • Seek to understand the passage in its original setting;
  • Try to visualize the scene and the event;
  • Find the structure of the passage;
  • Observe the significant facts of the passage;
  • Study the meanings of the words or phrases;
  • Look up the references or parallel passages;
  • Interpret the thoughts of the passage;
  • Make comparisons with corresponding views or customs of the present days;
  • Find illustrations from one's own experiences;
  • Paraphrase the passage in contemporary language;
  • Summarize the central teaching of the passage;
  • Make an outline;
  • Draw principles or implications suggested in the text;
  • Consider personal applications;

23 May 2015

MinistryUSE OS2 Xfce "Covenant"

Towards the end of April, I tried installing MinistryUSE, and then ChristOS on my laptop.  Neither of them would install. One of them decided that despite having both an open, active ethernet connection, and open, active, wireless connection to the Internet, my laptop was not connected to the Internet. The other one didn't just plain didn't like my hardware.

I hate updates to GRUB. I despise them.  Anything else in a distro can be updated, but GRUB.  I have never seen a GRUB update, that has not required me to do a clean install of the OS.  Within ten days of installing Xubuntu 14.4, there was an update to GRUB.  And, as expected, it trashed my setup.

That is when I started the test of the 8 May 2015 release of MinistryUSE OS2 Xfce (http://ministryuseos.weebly.com/).

If it didn't take me 40+ hours to configure Thunderbird, I'd update to the final version, which was released on 17 May 2015.

Unlike previous versions, this re-spin is based upon Makulu Linux, rather than OpenSuse.  You can explore the Makulu Linux home site at http://makululinux.com/home/ , or read a more objective description at http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=makulu.

This is the default MinistryUSE wallpaper. 

Other than shipping with e-Sword installed, and Christian orientated wallpaper, there isn't much difference between MinistryOS, and Makulu, and stock Xubuntu.

Changing wallpaper is as simple as a right click anywhere on the desktop, then sliding the mouse to "Desktop Settings", and selecting the new wallpaper.

I changed the wallpaper on my desktop to this:

Biblical Software

The first time I successfully installed MinistryOS, e-Sword was not properly installed, and my attempts to re-install it failed.  The second time I installed MinistryOS, e-Sword installed correctly, as part of the distro.

I successfully installed a couple of programs for Windows, without having to configure WINE, WineTricks, or PlayOnLinux. Not having to change anything in WINE, for things to install successfully, is a real pleasure.
(This means that there is at least one Bible Study Program that meets the criteria of The 2009 SBL Bible Software Shootout, that successfully runs on this distro.)

For licensing reasons, TheWord is no longer included in MinistryOS.

The first two or three releases of Ubuntu Christian Edition (UCE) included e-Sword. It had to be removed, for licensing reasons. The solution UCE came up with, was script that downloads, and automatically installs e-Sword. Maybe MinistryOS uses the same thing. Worst case scenario is that MinistryOS includes a script that installs TheWord.

I ended up installing Wide Margin, KJV Bible, and Bible Edit GTK. I'm working on translating the Bible, and use Bible Edit for that.  (I'd rather use BibleStudy 2009, but it doesn't run under WINE.)

Wide Margin and KJV Bible are basic Bible programs. Their only virtue is that opening them, displays the KJV. Something that is useful, when following the reasoning in essays such as that describing Simon Magus in the Petrine and Pauline Epistles.

One caveat. Under no circumstances remove the e-Sword icon, on the vertical toolbar.  e-Sword will not start from the command line, nor from clicking open with WINE, when in your file manager.

Office Suite

The default office suite for Makulu Linux is WPS Office. This office suite does not support ISO/IEC 26300:2006/AMD 1:2012 file formats.  It claims to support MSO File Formats. Whilst it could open both Excel spreadsheets I have, (^1) it could not perform any of the calculations on those spreadsheets.  I don't have any MS Word documents, so I don't know how well it handles that file format.

Fortunately, installing Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and EuroOffice is a breeze.  I grabbed the DEBs from the developers' website, threw them all in the same directory, including moving the files in desktop_integration into that directory, and then ran sudo dpkg -i *.deb. It took me around forty minutes to download, and install all three office suites. 


To install Makulu Linux, one needs to know the correct password.
Then, during the installation process, it asks for the password of MinistryOS.  This is a different password. 

Secondly, MinistryOS creates an administrator account called MinistryOS.  I deleted the account. Had "Guest" status been available, I would have switched it to that, and changed the password.  (I wonder how many people do not realize that there is a MinistryOS administrator account, and proceed to neither delete it, nor change the password.  To me, this is a huge security flaw. Almost as big as the one at a company I worked at, where the password for root, was "root".  (I wish I could say I was joking, but in all the time I worked at that company, the password was not changed.)

Thirdly, SystemD is used. Inasmuch as all flavours of Ubuntu have switched to that, it can be expected. My issue with SystemD is that it gets into too many things, so that when the Zero Day Exploits are widely distributed in the wild, fixing the flaws means switching to one of the BSD variants.

Fourthly, software designed for the Windows operating system, will not, when installed under WINE, create icons on either the desktop, or menu bar. 

  • e-Sword will only start from the icon on the toolbar;
  • Other programs that require WINE, will only start by clicking on "Open With WINE Program" when opened in your file manager;
  • Still other programs that require WINE, will only open from the command line "wine -some -commands program.exe -some -commands";

I've never seen, or even heard of this behavior before.

Replacing Ubuntu Christian Edition

For those whose checklist for an acceptable distro, includes built-in filtering,  MinistryOS won't make the grade. For everybody else looking to replace Ubuntu Christian Edition, it will make the grade.

For filtering, the only viable option, is to run your own DNS server, which returns either or for "undesirable" web hosts, as part of your physically independent hardware firewall and router, which plugs into the third-party pwned equipment that is provided by your ISP.

^1: Both of these spreadsheets are commercially distributed, with an MSRP in the low three digits.

22 March 2015

Long time a'coming

Been a long time a'coming, but now it has arrived.

e-Sword For Mac on the iTunes Store. 
Released on 20 March 2015.

Cost is US$9.99. 

http://www.e-sword.net/mac/ is the URL, if you want to read about it on the official webpage.

I don't have a Mac, so all I can say about it is what I've gleaned from reading descriptions written by other people.

User Interface is Spanish or English.  (That seems strange to me.  Wonder why Rick couldn't use the same strings as e-Sword for Windows?)

From Rick's description, I think it has slightly more functionality/capability than e-Sword.

It uses the same file format as e-Sword for the iPhone & iPad.
(SQLite database engine & HTML markup language.)  I'm going to call this e-Sword4iOS format.

My guess is that somebody over at BibleSupport.com is going to be working long hours, converting the existing e-Sword modules to e-Sword4iOS format.

Two more platforms to go:
  • Linux;
  • Android;
Which leads to interesting question. Which works better on Linux:
  • e-Sword X;
  • e-Sword;
Unfortunately, I do not know of a way to purchase and install Mac software from the iTunes store, on my Linux box. I can install Mac software from sources other than the iTunes store, on my Linux box.