Archive for the ‘Computer’ Category

A satisfied customer

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

This week I received a message from someone I have exchanged many e-mails with over the years, answering questions and seeing his life change:

Greetings from Rome and thank you for the time that you’ve always spent for me. My marriage is fine and my daughter is growing cheerfully in a serene environment. Only six years ago I was very far from having a family. Then… all of a sudden a subtle desire to change my life that coincided with some “random” meetings that were fundamental for my existence. You were a decisive encounter.

Festival, fan, family

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Next Saturday there will be a festival in the quarter of Trento in which the church hall is located. We’ll be opening our doors, and putting on various activities for children in the afternoon, a concert in the evening, and following it up with an evangelistic meeting the following week. Pray for the many people that will be around on that day, that they will also come to visit us, and that we will have boldness in taking up the opportunities that come up.

Today I met one of my fans. Someone came to church, having travelled from Rome on the overnight train, just in order to meet me, since he often uses my website for reading and studying the Bible. It was a bit of a strange meeting, but I pray that the Bible will continue to transform his life.

I have not written much about the twins over the last few days, because there has not been much of a change. They are big enough to leave the hospital and have no medical problems. The only thing that is keeping them at the hospital is that they have not learnt to eat and breathe at the same time – five seconds after every time the bottle goes in, the alarm goes off and they turn a nice purple colour. Since nobody knows when they will learn the trick, nobody can say when they will be leaving the hospital. But we all can’t wait! Pinuccia is now spending about 8 hours per day at the hospital, doing the bathing, changing, and feeding in that period, whilst I go for about an hour most days.

Luca (left) and Mattia (right)

Luca (left) and Mattia (right)

Pray, Prepare, Program

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Our time at the Italian prayer days went well. Firstly as a family – Pinuccia actually felt better there then when she is at home – and secondly as a mission, with a good time of sharing each others’ joys (of which there had been quite a few lately amongst the missionaries) and burdens. The other good news was that as we were in the car, 5 minutes before arriving, Pinuccia got a phone call offering her a few different full-time jobs. We were not expecting it, as usually so gets offered a job later on, being a bit down the list. Usually Pinuccia does not want a full-time job, to leave time for the family and the church, but this year the full-time job will come in handy, as she does not intend to work and will receive a percentage of the pay of the job she accepted whilst she is on maternity leave.

With only a week and a half left of the three months of school holidays, it is time to start thinking about the restart of the church activities. This week I have two meetings to prepare the Sunday School, one with all the teachers (that Pinuccia runs – she will be on maternity leave from the Sunday School as well this year, but will continue to organise it) and one for the three teachers of my class. I will also be working on getting people to enrol in the small groups, which we will be presenting in a new way this year.

My iPhone/iPad Bible app continues to be downloadable, after the initial spurt when it was released a couple of weeks ago, at a rate of about 15-20 copies per day. A couple of days I sent out the third public version, with various improvements. It was good to think, whilst enjoying the fellowship at the prayer days, that I was continuing to distribute God’s Word to Italians, a copy every 90 minutes. And that was just for the iPhone or iPad; there are also the Windows, Mac and Android versions to add to that.

Computer milestones

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The summer is usually when I get a lot more done in my computer ministry, since the church and mission commitments are greatly reduced. In fact, in the past two weeks I have managed to finish or reached a milestone in four of my projects. It was a bit of a coincidence that I reached a significant point in all of them at almost the same time, but it was satisfying to be able to wrap them up in this way. The highlights:

1. I finished all my comments on the historical books in my “Hard Passages of the Bible” text. This started out as my answers to common questions I receive on the Bible, so that I did have to keep writing the same thing to different people, but expanded to become answers to all of the most difficult Bible passages. I only have the Pentateuch to do now, but in the mean time the 250 answers that I have written so far in 268 pages are available on-line and as a PDF at http://www.laparola.net/brani/ , and as a commentary in my Bible programs for Windows and Android.

2. Working with a publishing house, I published their translation of an almost 10,000 page commentary on the entire Bible for my Android program. This is the fourth commentary I have distributed for them. Naturally, all the money for the sales goes to the publishing house.

3. Finally, the first version of my program for iPhone and iPad is on the App Store (search for ‘laparola’). This has been very much requested, and with the help of a church in Italy that bought me a Mac Mini and another person that paid the subscription fee to Apple to put an app on the App Store. The program is still being tested, so has not been officially announced, but I’m sure many Italians will be happy when it is released. Since the version of the program for Macintosh is closely related to the iOS version (there is a lot of code in common), I also found and fixed some problems in the Macintosh program and released a new version this week – the first version of the Macintosh program on the App Store.

Kids’ Club goes public

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

The Kids’ Club, our evangelistic program for children, went public yesterday for its second event. We set up in a large park next to a lake in one of the valleys, were a lot of families go in summer to get some relief from the heat. The weather was not as good as it could have been for this period, so there were not as many people there as we expected. On the other hand, a few invited friends came along, including one who wanted us to repeat the program in her town in the mountains. One of the highlights was seeing some teenagers dancing along with us in the playground – they were too old for the activities of the program, but the music was reaching them anyway. I’m also thankful for the creativity, courage, and service of the Kids’ Club organisers. Now it is time to think about the third edition of Kids’ Club, which will probably be after the summer.

Computer time

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

A few days ago, I finished preparing the Bible studies for the church this year. This means that until May, when I will start preparing the studies for after the summer, I have a bit more time for other projects. Which is principally the computer work, of which I have quite a few ideas which I would like to implement. What is different now is that I have a virtual team helping me: people that I do not know, but who have offered to help me with their time and abilities, and that I give direction to and incorporate in the whole LaParola vision. So in the next few months the main computer projects I will be working on are:

New graphics for the site – after 12 years essentially the same, it is getting a bit dated. But I am no good on graphics, so someone is working on a new site design into which I will slot the contents of the site.

Bible quiz – someone has sent me over 1200 questions on the Bible, for which it was easy to create a web interface (it should go live this week), and I will put into my Windows program and create an independent Android app.

Windows program – I’m working on this by myself still, because it is a mature program with little work needed. But last week I finally added an often requested feature, to project the Bible text onto a second screen. So once I have added the quiz I will publish a new version of the program.

Android app – I wrote the core part of this program, and someone else the interface. There is not much else to do in the core, but I give advice to the other person as he adds new features to the program in the interface, calling the parts of the core that are already written.

iPhone/iPad app – I have two volunteers to work on the interface of this new program. First I have to modify the core of the Macintosh program to create a new core for an iOS program – they are similar, but not identical.

Hard Passages of the Bible – answers to common questions on the Bible that I am writing. I am continuing this by myself, both to keep it consistent and to keep me studying the Bible whilst I am not preparing Bible studies.

Finishing and starting projects

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

On Wednesday we will be going to Sicily for a few weeks – two days of travelling, including a couple of hours at Pompeii, since Stefania is interested in Roman history at the moment. Pray for the trip, and also for our time with Pinuccia’s family (and mine now too!).

I did make fairly good progress on the projects I was working on in the last couple of weeks, when there were less commitments at church, but more time doing things with the family. I have made a start preparing the Bible studies for next year – there is still a lot to do, but I am getting a good idea of how the studies will go. I also released two new versions of my Bible computer program, an update to the Android version and the first ever Macintosh version. Having done a lot of the “core” work for Macintosh, it will be a lot easier to create a version for iPad/iPhone, which is a lot more requested. I will basically just have to work on the interface, which will be my main computer project when I return from Sicily.

I was interested to read during the week that a commercial program had created a fund raising program for $28,500, to create a Macintosh version of their program, based on their existing iPad/iPhone version, so they too would just have to work on the different interface. And they will get revenue selling books for Macintosh. Whereas I will be doing almost the same thing for free. Actually, I don’t do it for free: I get paid by my financial supporters to do what the fund raising program and sales do for the commercial program. But it does put in perspective the value of my financial supporters, and makes me thankful for all the help I receive from those who freely donate, without receiving anything back (unlike those who give to the fund raising program, who do receive something), so that I can freely give in Italian what English speakers already have. So thanks to all me readers who financially support me as well!

This week there is an important event in the church to pray for (and that I will miss most of) – a week of evangelism with a team of 5 Dutch young people from Athletes in Action. They will be using sport to make contact with the youth at Trento. It will be important not only for the evangelism that will be done, but for the help given to our church. We hope it will be the beginning a new ministry in the church, that we can continue without the help of an outside team. Once again it is the young adults in our church who are the “engine”, going out in mission and doing things to help the whole church.

End of an era

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

With the end of June, the pre-school year has come to an end as well, and for us the end of a small era – five years of trips to the Lavis pre-school. Stefania and Daniele will both be at the infants’ school from September. Pinuccia hopes that it will not be last time at the Lavis pre-school for her, because there is always the chance each year that she will be offered a job there rather than somewhere a bit further away. We’ll have to wait a couple of months now to find out for the next school year.

I spent most of the past week closing up the work for the children’s camp. Now I have a two weeks with few church commitments, in which I hope to finish off and release the first version of my Bible program for Macintosh computers, and also a new version for Android. It will be touch and go whether I can do it all in time. It is also time for me to start preparing the Bible studies in church for September onwards. I will be preparing notes for most of the groups to use, so it will require a bit more work beforehand for me.

Sign of the Times

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

For today’s Sunday School lesson (for 11 and 12 year olds), I pulled out my phone so as to read. (I rarely bring my printed Bible since the letters in it keep getting smaller and smaller.) Then one of the children pulled out her phone, and then another. So three out of four of us were reading the Bible from our phones. While this is getting fairly common in Bible study groups now, I had not experienced it before at Sunday School. Naturally, all three of us were using the program that I had written to read the Bible in Italian, so my work to distribute the Bible has now been extended even towards pre-teenagers.

End of year

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

We have arrived at the end of year rush already, with Stefania’s gymnastic recital last night. For the next month there will be the usual round of extra activities for the three schools (of Pinuccia and the children) and church. Pinuccia and I will be particularly busy finishing up the Sunday School, helping to organise the end of year presentation and the camp in June. There is a lot to do still for both.

In the meantime, I have finished preparing the Bible studies I have to give until the summer break. This will give me a bit more time, at least for the next couple of weeks, after which I will know the autumn program and will be able to start preparing for it. Apart from working for the Sunday School, it means I hope to get more computer programming done than usual, especially on the new Macintosh and iOS programs. Last week I finally got to the stage of being able to display any Bible passage. So there will be “just” some cleaning up to do – with just in inverted commas, because often fixing up the small details take up more time than the general functioning of the program. But in any case, I hope some time this month to be ready to release the first versions of these programs.