ScriptureNotes

A Powerful Research Tool

February 7, 2020

There is a new kid on the block in the scripture study genre. ScriptureNotes is a research and note-taking web-based tool for use with the scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; this includes the King James Version of the Old and New Testaments along with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

The developer Oak Norton has spent over sixteen years developing and using this web-based application and invites you to come and “Study the Scriptures the Way Your Brain Works.”

As mentioned, this is web-based so that it will work on all platforms. Norton suggests that for the best browser compatibility, you should use Chrome or Firefox.

The strength of the app is in three areas:

  1. Side-by-side comparison of scripture chapters
  2. Search capability and,
  3. Collection notes

The scripture chapters open in panels, and you can have as many panels open as you want. In each panel, you can mark text using bold, Italics, underline, and color or highlight using one of six colors. Also, you can create a personal footnote.

The search capability is powerful because it uses advanced Boolean searches. Since most people are not aware of how to use the Boolean search functions, Norton provides in the FAQ section a Cheat Sheet.

Once you have completed a search and refined it, you can create a Collection Note. As the name implies it is a note for the search results.

The formatting options in the Collection Note is very generous and perhaps has gone overboard. There is the regular bold, italics, colors, etc., but also font selection, format blocking, and specials characters and much more, such as a file, photo, and video inserts. While this wide selection is welcome, I think for most people, it may be overwhelming.

If you use the application the Gospel Library provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you may wonder what is the difference between the Library and ScriptureNotes. In the FAQ section on the Home Page, there is an extensive comparison. I found the chart is well done, but it contained a few areas in which I did not agree.

For example, the comparison shows that tagging and categorizing a collection of verses are not available in the Gospel Library. However, the Gospel Library makes extensive use of tagging, and about categorizing, the Library uses Notebooks to categorize and create a personal Topical Guide.

But this should not distract from the overall comparison, which is extensive, and clearly shows the strengths and purpose of ScriptureNotes in comparing, searching, and notating.

Also, Norton makes it clear that he is not trying to replace the Gospel Library. At the end of the comparison, he states, “ScriptureNotes is not intended to replace the Gospel Library from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is meant to be a primary platform for superior studying and searching the scriptures, with many enhancements. As we grow, new features will be available that showcase this difference even more…”

The main objective of the site is to invite one to study the scriptures and not merely read them; this is a big plus.

There is nothing wrong with reading the scriptures, but in my opinion, the real value of the scriptures is being able to drink deeply by searching and pondering to arrive at a greater understanding of the Gospel; to change our hearts; to become a better person. I believe Norton’s site does just that.

The maintaining of the website and continuing development comes with a cost. There is a free option available that allows you to do comparisons and basic and advanced searches, but to make use of all the features, you need to subscribe to the Pro service.

The Pro version is $59.95/year. However, there is currently a “grand opening sale,” which brings the price down to $49.95/year. There is also a monthly payment option of $4.95.

I have been teaching how to study the scriptures for several years and have talked to thousands of people about studying the scriptures, and I have learned one lesson – scripture study is very personal and unique.

While ScriptureNotes is a powerful tool in studying the scriptures, experience has shown me it will not appeal to everyone, just as the Gospel Library does not have universal appeal.

While ScriptureNotes is an excellent tool, at this point, I do not know how much I will make use of it; It will take much more time using it to see how it will work into my scripture study and how I can correlate it with the Gospel Library.

In full disclosure, I am the author on the book on how to use the Gospel Library. The Gospel Library is my main app for studying the scriptures though not my only app. I use other resources such as the Citation Index, Logos Bible, Blue Letter Bible, etc. So I am, at this point, looking at ScriptureNotes as another arrow in my spiritual study quiver.

If there is a downside to ScriptureNotes it is that it is web-based and, with its expanding panels, requires a large screen, or better yet, multiple monitors. Using a smartphone or small tablet, while possible, is not preferable. I do most of my studying using my iPad Pro, and I found ScriptureNotes challenging to use with a smaller screen.

I addressed this concern with the developer, and he said that he is working on an app. Web-based services such as ScriptureNotes are becoming popular, but that does not, or perhaps should not, preclude having an actual app. Airtable is an excellent example of a web-based service that also offers an excellent app.
I look forward to seeing what kind of app Norton develops and hope that he will find a way to acquire the API for the Gospel Library so the two apps can work together.

I believe that ScriptureNotes does an excellent job in the three areas pointed-out above. I can see that Norton has put a lot of time and effort into making this a great service, and I look forward to seeing what he adds to the mix.

I strongly suggest you take some time with ScriptureNotes and see how it can fit into your scripture study.

Yes, It Is All About Me! Listen to The Latest Cedar Fort Podcast

January 13, 2020

A few weeks ago, Cedar Fort Publishing interviewed me about my book. The podcast is now available on your favorite podcast app. If you do not have a podcast app, try Overcast or Castro. Do not want to download an app but want to listen to the podcast? Go to Cedar Fort directly and listen.

I think you will find it interesting how my book Digital Scripture Study for The Busy Latter-day Saint came to be.

Media in Gospel Library Brings the Scriptures to Life

December 27, 2019

The Gospel Library (available as a mobile app and online) has been upgraded to include three types of multimedia that you can access right alongside the scriptures. You can access images and watch videos right in the “Related Content” sidebar.

[https://lds365.com/2019/12/27/media-in-gospel-library-brings-the-scriptures-to-life/]

Coming This Week – Update

I was able to start curating sooner than expected, so starting today, October 7, 2019, there is a new page.

I will be curating pertinent technology news. The curations will cover Apple, Android, tablets, Macs, PCs, software, and more.

Each day as I read technologies latest news, if I see something that will be of help to you, I will add it to the News page.

Preserving General Conference Notes

General Conference is always an exciting time for me. In preparation, a few weeks before the conference, I set up a Study Plan in the Gospel Library and listen to all of the previous conference talks. I also start to pray to ask that my mind and heart will be open for revelation. With the start of the conference, I am ready to listen and start taking notes. I think the above scenario is common for most of you.

My question to you is, “What do you do with your notes once the conference is over?” This is an important decision. Notes are of little value unless there is a method to retrieve them, and how you store them will impact the ease to which you can retrieve the information.

The primary purpose of this article is to help those that take hand-written notes, but I am going to start by briefly mentioning other methods.

There are two ways in which notes can be taken.

Digitally Using a Keyboard

The digital method requires you to use a laptop (computer), tablet, or smartphone. The app you use to type your notes varies and comes to personal preference. A word processor, a note app, or even the Gospel Library are some of the options.

Regardless of the medium used, the retrieval of the information is accessible. Simply open the search function and enter what you are looking for.

Hand-written Notes

Using paper and pen is a powerful note-taking technique. Studies have shown information is easier to recall when we engage our hands in the note-taking process. The problem is finding specific information at a later date.

I am sure you have had the same experience that I have had in finding specific information that is stored in your hand-written notes. Pulling down from the shelf one notebook after another in search of what you are looking for is a frustrating experience.

There is an effortless way to making retrieving of information a snap, and that is to use a scanner.

I am not referring to the scanner feature in your printer. The scanning process is slow, and sending it to your computer can result in frustration at the highest level.

I am suggesting using a dedicated scanner such as the ones made by Fujitsu, or better yet, a scanning app on your smartphone or tablet.

An excellent dedicated scanner can run $150 and up. While a scanning app starts at free and is rarely over $10.

On the free side is Scannable made by Evernote and will send your scanned note directly to Evernote. For this, to work, you obviously need to have Evernote, which has a free version. Scannable can be used with Android and Apple devices.

Genius Scan is another excellent app for Apple and Android. It will create a PDF version of your hand-written notes and then send the files to a service of your choice, such as Evernote, Dropbox and etc.

There is also Scanner Pro for Apple. It will scan your notes, and like Genius Scan, send the file to a place of your choice.

Whenever I discuss using scanning apps on a smartphone, I am asked, “Why not just take a picture of the notes since you are using the camera on the phone anyway?”

Scanning apps are programmed to take great photos of documents only. Rather than taking a picture of the surface, the note is lying on and the note. Scanning apps will automatically zero-in on only the document, then proceed to add filters automatically, so the scanned document looks like it was run through a copying machine. Another benefit is the app can save the document as a PDF, JPEG, or other formats. Also, the app can make the document searchable, and that is the key benefit of using the app.

Another Hand-writing Method

There is another medium for taking hand-written notes – a tablet. A tablet, stylus, and an app for taking notes are all you need to facilitate the retrieval of information quick and easy. These apps can index your hand-writing, or if you prefer, convert your hand-written notes to text. Another benefit is sharing your notes with someone else is a simple matter of copying and pasting.

Goodnotes and Notability are two excellent apps for Apple devices. For Android, Lecture Notes, and INKredible come highly recommended. In full disclosure, I do not have an Android tablet, and so I have not been able to test the apps.

Best Practice for Pen and Paper

After the conference, using your smartphone, scan the notes, then transfer the scanned copies to Evernote as a JPEG (or PDF). Evernote will make then make the scanned copy searchable. Tag the notes “GC” for general conference. In addition, Evernote can create a link to the document which can then be pasted into the Gospel Library.

You may want to paste the link in a note linked to a scripture in the Gospel Library because the speaker made a powerful statement about that verse.

In the end, your notes will be searchable, and instead of taking hours to find a note, it will take a few seconds.