Later Learners

I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes on the challenge of learning to use a computer at an advanced age. I am of the sandwich generation (Gen X); growing up in rural Michigan, most of my peers did not have a computer at home and so were not exposed to computers until high school. When we got to high school, the “computer lab” still had a mix of typewriters and 286 IBM clones.

My family, however, owned a Commodore 64/128 (we later upgraded to an Amiga 500). The C64 was a great platform for games, but I can remember doing some word processing on it as well, using GEOS. Happily, I avoided ever having to type a paper of any significant length on a typewriter.

Having a computer at home meant that I was exposed to the technology sooner than most of my friends and so learned to use it without much effort. Just having the time to “play around with” computers meant that I could build confidence and mess around with stuff without worrying that I would break anything. That’s a skill I use to this day, “What does this do? Click it and find out!”
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Mmmmmmmm … Soup!

Cook-offs are just part of working at Logos — one of my favorite parts. We do a Curry Cook-off sometime in the spring (April) and a Chili cook-off around July 4. If it is September, it must be time for soup! I’m not sure if the folks at Logos have realized it yet, but my favorite cook-off is always the next cook-off. That means as of now, my favorite is the Soup Cook-off.

Speaking of which, the Soup Cook-off is scheduled for September 16, and my soup is already made! (Made it on Tuesday night). I don’t know if it’ll win, but I do know it’ll be good. Even better, we have 15 soups scheduled to appear, and we may end up with even more!

If you’re into soup, stay posted. We’ll surely blog more about the Soup Cook-off, and may even have photos of the event to share.

Bob, Eli and Daniel (all of whom have entered, I believe), beware!

Logos in the Local Press

Northwest Business Monthly Cover FeatureLogos Bible Software is the cover feature for the September 2005 issue of Northwest Business Monthly, a regional business magazine.

One of my favorite selections,

“There is a lot of great technology and ideas, but you build around the customer not the technology,” [Bob Pritchett] said. “I think that’s what happened with the whole dot-com phase – their failing point wasn’t their product, it was not having a customer.”

With the goal of becoming an essential source for people doing serious Bible study, Pritchett said that Logos’ market is fairly stable.

“The shifting tides of world religions doesn’t really affect us,” he said. “The Bible is the best-selling book of all time.”

“By focusing on the pastors, we’re focusing on a long-term investment—not the guy who decides if he’s going to church or not every week,” he added. “We want to build tools that improve the quality of their teaching. Nobody has time to sift through 250 books in preparation for a sermon each week.”

If you’re looking for more information about Logos, you’ll find it in the About area of Logos.com, which includes a Logos chronology, mission statement, and current job postings.

Slicing Books for Art

At a used bookstore in London I found a Bible atlas from 1900 with beautiful colored engravings. I have seen individual atlas pages in old map shops sold for more than this book cost, and it had 11 full page engravings. Few things hurt me like cutting up a book, but these clean, neat 8 x 10 inch pages simply begged to be framed and hung on the wall for everyone to appreciate.

After a quick check on the Internet to ensure that the book wasn’t too rare, we carefully cut out the pages and scanned them at high resolution before framing them. You will see them on the wall if you visit Logos in the future, and you can download this diagram of the tabernacle and the temple right now. (The file is 2.85 MB and the image is 3232 x 2464 pixels.)
The whole set of corrected images (cropped, rotated, color adjusted and scaled to 50%) are available in an 8 MB file.

If You Can’t Afford a Quarter

…then you ought to give a dime. If everybody gave then we could save the Blue Water Line.

The Kingston Trio wanted to save the home town depot and old engine number nine. I just want to make more books available to Logos Bible Software users.

Our Community Pricing Program is an attempt to let users collectively set the price of a book production project as low as possible. The more people who pre-order, the lower we can make the cost per unit and still cover our production costs.

Community Pricing is an experiment, and it is working. Together you have moved several projects into production and in each case the price per unit has been much lower than it would have been as a traditional Pre-Publication project.

What surprises me, though, is how many orders come in after a project covers its costs in the Community Pricing Program and before we ship it. When a title covers its costs in Community Pricing we move it to the Pre-Publication program and raise the cost. We have been getting as many as 20% more orders after moving a title.

That’s fine with us. The costs are covered, so those orders represent profit for us. But if those orders had been placed in Community Pricing, instead of Pre-Pub, the cost would have been lower for everybody. If you are at all interested in a title in the Community Pricing Program, place a bid now. (Some titles allow bids as low as $2!) If you placed a bid on a title that is hovering around 60%, a small increase by all the bidders can move the book into production right away.

Photos from a Logos Fan

Not only do our users send us random shipments of hot sauce from time to time, but sometimes we get photos like these sent from Logos user Michael Sinclair. Click either photo to see a larger version.

Michael is running Logos on Windows XP on this dual-boot Shuttle XPC (a compact PC). Notice the Logos wallpaper layered onto the front of the machine.

The shuttle coexists peacefully alongside a dual processor Mac G4–Michael says he plans to install Logos Bible Software for the Mac on that in December.

Thanks for the pics, Michael! You’ve got a cool setup there…

Story Time!

Speaking of all this Quick Navigate stuff reminds me of a story.

A few years back, when the Libronix DLS was still in its infancy, Rick Brannan decided that he was going to do the Quick Nav bar one better: He downloaded Microsoft’s speech recognition development kit and hacked together a little addin that worked just like the Quick Navigate bar, only it responded to spoken commands. This was never a serious development effort; in those days we spent time now and again just exploring the new LDLS technology, trying to figure out what it could and couldn’t do.

Anyway, Rick could say “Open: New King James,” into his computer microphone and Libronix would comply. It required a multi-megabyte download from Microsoft, and I’m sure Rick wouldn’t want anyone to look at the code, but all things considered, it worked pretty well. You could be typing along in silence and every now and then, you’d hear Rick ordering his computer around.

Now, in those days, all of the text development department worked together in a single open room. (They still do, come to think of it.)

As you might have guessed, Rick’s innovation didn’t last very long: When any of the rest of us noticed Libronix running on his machine, we would yell out across the room: “Open: The Message,” or “Open: N-I-V” just to annoy him. If we were in a particularly impish mood, we would glance over to find out the title of the book he was working on and yell out “Close …”

One million pages later…

APT Book Scanner from Kirtas TechnologiesLast year we took delivery of a robotic book scanner and set it to work in a seminary library. Today we have scanned more than one million pages from more than 3,000 titles.

Ultimately we would like to make all of these books available in the Libronix DLS format, but that represents a lot of keyboarding and tagging. (Automated optical character recognition can help, but is not accurate enough.)

So we are preparing a way to present the scanned page images. We are also putting some of them to use as source documents for the Community Pricing Program. The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul and the J. A. Broadus Preaching Collection are both being prepared from scans, and many other candidates are awaiting your bid.

It’s coming…


(more details at www.MacBibleSoftware.com)

The Logos Seal of Approval

Soon after we posted the TNIV to our prepublication program I received a personal email from a user who was troubled and disappointed that we would digitize this (admittedly controversial) Bible version.

I appreciate that this user took the time to write and am grateful that he expressed himself in a loving manner. Two lines from his email really stood out to me and seem worthy of broader discussion. He concluded his email, “I had thought Logos far more worthy of our confidence than this last example. If you continue to make offerings like this, you will soon lose your reputation for being a leader in producing first class materials.”

This is not the first time I’ve heard statements along these lines and it seems to point up a disconnect between what we see ourselves as doing and what at least some of our users see us as doing.

Statements like these suggest to me the presence of an idea or expectation that Logos serves as a content filter for the material we digitize. It approaches an implicit assumption that the books we publish somehow bear the “Logos Seal of Approval.”
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