Cupertino Seminar and BibleTech Conference
The training seminar was hosted by Peninsula Bible Church of Cupertino, which is about a five minute walk from Apple headquarters. We had a very large group of attendees, many of whom were experienced Accordance users who kept me on my toes with questions. While I'm always happy to answer questions and adapt what I cover accordingly, I sometimes worry that if I change things up too much I'll lose the less experienced users who need a more well-ordered presentation. Fortunately, everyone there seemed pretty technically savvy and able to follow along. Why would I expect anything less in the shadow of Apple headquarters?
During lunch, our host whisked me away to a restaurant at the corner of the Apple campus where a group of Apple employees was meeting with another speaker from the BibleTech conference. I enjoyed some gourmet pizza at Apple's expense and got to meet some great people. I have to say, though, either Apple is breaking child labor laws or I'm getting older. Half the people I saw on Infinite Loop looked like they belong in high school! ;-)
After the seminar, I attended the BibleTech conference, which is focused on "the intersection of the Bible and technology." It was a very laid-back conference with a collegial atmosphere and nearly as much emphasis on getting to know other attendees as on listening to presentations. My presentation was at the end of the first day, and was perhaps the least technical of all the sessions. I spoke about "Macsimum Sermon Impact" using ideas from my book, Macs in the Ministry. It seemed to go pretty well and I received some positive feedback. One humorous moment came when I talked about "Going for the 'Amen.'" I asked my audience how many of them came from a faith tradition where people in the congregation call out "Amen" or other forms of affirmation during the sermon. Not a single hand went up! This life-long Southerner wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Perhaps it's a regional thing.
Later that night, I had the opportunity to demo Accordance to most of the BibleTech attendees. I was given ten minutes to give the demo, but the challenge was figuring out which demo to give. If I were demoing to an audience primarily interested in basic Bible study, I could do that in ten minutes. At ETS and SBL I generally try to figure out an individual's academic specialty and then spend ten minutes focused on Greek, Hebrew, Qumran, or whatever. But the BibleTech crowd was very diverse. I decided to show English Bible study features for most people, Greek and Hebrew for the language geeks, and the Atlas because, well, it's just plain cool. So I flew through features in what was probably not the most coherent demo, and I ran over my time by about five or ten minutes. Thankfully, a few other demos took even longer than mine, so at least I wasn't the most egregious offender. :-) At any rate, the demo seemed to go well, as did the other demos that were given that night.
With my "performances" finished, I was able to relax a little more the second day and take in some excellent presentations. One of the most interesting to me was given by Dr. Chris Heard of Pepperdine University. Dr. Heard showed how he uses various computer technologies to teach his introductory Religion class. He imparts foundational knowledge through video lectures that students watch on their own, then uses class time for more interactive discussions and assignments. It was fascinating to see how embracing technology thoughtfully and comprehensively enables him to reach today's students more effectively.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in California. I met some interesting people, learned a great deal, and hopefully helped some folks get the most out of Accordance. Now I'm happy to be home in Florida, where I can enjoy my family and get back to work developing new stuff for Accordance.
Can I get an "Amen"? ;-)