Over the past two days, I've had the privilege of demonstrating Accordance at two seminaries.
On Tuesday, I did a remote demo to a Greek class at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Professor Mark Vitalis Hoffman projected my computer screen, which I was sharing via the internet, to his class. In this way, I was able to demonstrate Accordance to students in Pennsylvania from the comfort of my home in Florida.
While just being able to do this is extremely cool, we did run into a few challenges along the way. First was the challenge of making sure everything would work right ahead of time. Professor Hoffman and I set up a couple of dry runs, and eventually were able to get the screen sharing and audio to work. During the demo itself, there were two challenges. First, there's a bit of a time delay between the moment when I do something on my machine and the time when the audience actually sees it. Second, there's a slightly shorter delay between the moment when I speak and the moment when they hear me, so it's easy for my running commentary to get ahead of the actions they see on the screen.
The most disorienting thing to me was that I could hear my voice on the other end about a second after I spoke, so I found myself pausing frequently in order to avoid talking over myself. After I finished the demo, I realized that while I was hearing myself twice, they were only hearing me once, so my frequent pauses must have sounded kind of silly. It also occurred to me after the demo was over that I could have alleviated the problem of hearing myself simply by turning down the volume on my computer. But Professor Hoffman reassured me that my pauses actually made it possible for the screen movements to catch up to my commentary, so it all turned out better than I thought.
On Wednesday, I did a live demo during the lunch hour at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Here I was a little more in my element, since I didn't have to deal with an echo and I could see the faces of the people to whom I was speaking. In about forty minutes, I was able to give the students an overview of the Accordance interface, explain the basics of searching, working with Key Numbers, amplifying to tools and other resources, and doing more in depth Greek and Hebrew searches. I really only scratched the surface, but the feedback we got was extremely positive, especially from those who already have Macs. My favorite quote from a student was that Accordance is "ridiculously cool."
Another student commented on how all the searches I had done were nearly instantaneous, and wondered if this was because I was using a fast machine, or if he could expect Accordance to run that well on an older machine. I assured him that Accordance would run well on just about any Mac, and mentioned how one of our users had gotten Accordance to run on a Powerbook 170 from 1991 (I think I mistakenly said it was a PowerBook 540!). The thing I should have mentioned, but didn't think about at the time, was that I was actually doing this demo on a four-year-old PowerBook G4, rather than the newer MacBook Pro I had recently sent in for repairs! Thus, the very machine he suspected of being a souped up demo machine was actually older and slower than anything most of those students probably own!
At times, I'm afraid I get so consumed with the work of developing Accordance that I forget how remarkable it can be to those who have never seen it in action. Our lead programmer accuses me of being "jaded." Whether I am or not, it's always good to be able to demonstrate Accordance to a live audience, so that I can be reminded of how "ridiculously cool" they find it to be.