Archive for the lifeway Category

A Gamer’s FAQ to Bible Navigator X

Posted in B&H Publishing Group, Bible Navigator X, future of the Bible, gaming, lifeway on November 12, 2009 by Aaron

On Tuesday, LifeWay announced the development of Bible Navigator X for the XBOX 360, via the Indie Games Channel and XNA.  In the next few weeks we’ll be talking more about the application on HCSB.org and BibleNavigatorX.com but, since a lot of the gaming sites have picked up the news, I wanted to be able to answer some questions specifically for you.

1) Why only the XBOX 360?

B&H is producing this via the XBOX Live Indie Games channel; the other consoles and handhelds don’t offer a similar toolset.  While we would be interested in developing for those platforms, the opportunities simply aren’t there right now for us.

2) What is the HCSB?

HCSB stands for the Holman Christian Standard Bible.  It’s one of the most modern transalations, and one of only two Bible translations (the other is the NET Bible) to have been done utilizing computers.  It’s a cross-denomination translation, with 17 denominations represented on its translation team.  You can learn more at HCSB.org.

3) What does the ‘X’ stand for?

B&H already has a product called Bible Navigator for the PC.  We wanted to keep the name of the product line and, since this is currently and XBOX-only project it seemed fairly obvious to call it Bible Navigator X.

4) Will I need a patch to read the text in SD?

Nope; we’ll let you control the font size on Day 1.  That’s a part of the nuts and bolts of our app.  😉

5) Will there be Achievements or DLC?

Sorry, but unfortunately no.  Those features aren’t available on Indie Games.

Bible Navigator X: Fulfilling a Dream

Posted in B&H Publishing Group, Bible Navigator X, future of the Bible, gaming, life of linne, lifeway on November 10, 2009 by Aaron

As cheesy as it sounds: I love my job.

There are goals that you set for yourself in life that you hope to attain, and there are goals that you put before yourself that you place there for the sheer audicity of it all, knowing that it’s not something that will ever happen.  Like flying to the moon, adopting a pet dragon, or helping to put the very words of God into a medium that it’s never been in before.

Today my team announced that we will be bringing the HCSB translation of the Bible to the Xbox via Bible Navigator X.  This has been a dream of mine for since the XBOX 360 launched and they announced that there would be downloadable games.  Way back when it first came out, in 2005, I managed to actually get someone on the phone at Microsoft to see if we could partner with them to make something happen.  At the time, there was simply no way to make it work within their ecosystem… especially since it wouldn’t be a game.

So, fast forward 4 years, and God somehow places me in the book publishing division of LifeWay, where we publish the Bible.  And, not only that, but B&H is an honest-to-goodness inovator in the digital publishing space and, even in this economy, is willing to take financial risks if it means spreading the Good News of Christ.  So, when I asked if we could explore putting the Bible on the XBOX, my coworkers and boss actually said “yes.”

So, to begin my quest of making it happen, I posted out to a game developer’s forum asking how I might connect with someone to freelance a project.  Lo and behold, I was found by Andy Dunn – a fairly well known developer in the XBOX community.  Someone whose stuff I read back in the day when I was trying to code my own XBOX wares.

Andy and I struck up a conversation, outlined what the application would look like, and we went to town.  His wisdom was, quite honestly, astounding.  I’ve learned more about the game/app development process from him than I ever expected to know.  But there was still that nervousness… is this really going to work?

If you’ve got a dream, you’ll have spent hours thinking about it in your head, hoping that some day the reality might be even a sliver of that dream.  In these past few weeks, as Andy has dropped a build to me every few days, it has almost freaked me out.  This is the very first version of Bible Navigator X, our first go at putting this most sacred content onto a video game system… and it work with the medium so perfectly.  It feels natural and nice; like the XBOX was made to host the Bible.

In short, reality suprassed what I had dreamt up in my head.

I feel almost foolish and childlike, gushing about how exciting this is for me and how much I love my job that allows me to see dreams come true.  I have a renewed interest in spreading the Gospel of Christ, now that it’s in a medium that my peers can connect with.  I have a brand new level  of respect for the scholars and wise men who translated the Greek and Hebrew into what we call the HCSB translation… and the programmers and developers who translated that into XML and code.

And, I’m not trying to wax philosophically here… I’m just finally able to get out words that I’ve had to keep secret for so long, I feel like a huge burden has been lifted.  It’s not every day that you get to be aware of being a part of God’s plan.  It’s not every day that you know your actions could – litearlly – impact millions.  This is one of those things that I’ll tell my children about, and I will tell their grandchildren, and so on and – hopefully – so on.

Excited.  That’s how I feel.  I hope you didn’t mind my shoutting it from the internets.

The Claude King Interview

Posted in lifeway, LifeWay Conversations with tags , on October 28, 2008 by Aaron

You can check out the previously mentioned Claude King interview here on the LifeWay Digital Media blog!

What’s Really Happening with Twitter

Posted in business, culture, life of linne, lifeway with tags , on May 8, 2008 by Aaron

in a meeting for a new project at LifeWay yesterday, we discussed the idea of using twitter during the project experience.  at first, the team thought I was joking.  they laughed about how twitter is just for people to do constant life-updates, like “i’m going to the bathroom now.”  there’s a distinct seperation between those who have not used twitter, those who use twitter, and those who embrace twitter.

twitter has become an asynchronous, world-wide chat room.

i remember when i was younger logging into AOL chat rooms and trying to find neat people to talk with.  it was a desperate attempt at entertainment and hopes of new friendships… but it was all with random strangers and now lating ties.

with twitter I’m able to, instead, engage in conversation with people I know whether they are online at that time or not.  and any of my friends get to see what i’m talking about and chime in too.  and – here’s the kicker…

I get to see the conversations and thoughts (and maybe even talk to) people that I have no business talking to.  as work and life continue to become more social and networked, things like twitter allows us to peek into the lives of people/topics/politics/companies that we want to be associated with.

twitter turns our sphere of influence into an open hall for the world to hear and for us to hear others.  one giant conversation piece.

i believe that work is becoming more and more intertwined with entertainment, with our social lives, our identities, and our dreams.  how many times have you heard “i’d love to work at…” or seen pictures or cool offices or thought about how to improve your own work place?

I know that there are many people who would love to work for LifeWay, and I am blessed to be a part of the talent that’s employed there.  I know our competitors would love to know how we work.  I know there are people who will do everything they can to find out what our VBS themes are going to be early so they can be the one to break the news.  I know that people want all the details about the next Beth Moore or Priscilla Schrier study and will follow any blog (or twitter account) that might drop some hint about it.

And that’s a good thing.  It means that people are finding people, places, jobs and products to get passionate about.  It means that we don’t have to accept the spoon-fed media of network television and ClearChannel music.  it means there are people out there talking about the alternatives… and that people are listening.

and this new/secret project I’m working on at LifeWay that will (tenatively) launch at the very end of this month?

we’re going to use twitter.

UPDATE: my personal twitter account is here.

Data Mining to Justify and Solve Mysteries (and… Clip Art?)

Posted in lifeway, LifeWay Downloads with tags , , on May 5, 2008 by Aaron

Last week I gobbled up some more responsibility here at LifeWay, and became the curator of our (forthcoming) downloads portal, LifeWay.com/downloads.  As of today, this is what it looks like:

Magical, eh?

So, of course, I have much different plans for the page than its currently set up.  However, in making such a big change, it’s only right for the page to have the rights of due diligence and make sure that the current users of the page will still have the same functions on the name page, if it is so warranted.

The current page is set up as links going to our free resources.  Is it effective?  Meh.

Because we use an awesome web stats service, Fireclick, and my job used to be gathering and reporting on the web analysis and metrics for the entire LifeWay network of sites, I’m able to get at the pertinent data pretty readily.

Turns out the number one links is to the Adult free resources (the Women’s resources is a broken link, so I can’t track that).  More surprising, however, I discovered that the number two link was the clipart page, and that the clipart page was surprisingly popular on our site in general!  Clipart?  Seriously?  So this, of course, leads to exploration about the clipart page.

One of the neat things about Fireclick is you can easily pull up all kinds of stats on a webpage.  My curiosity was this: if the LifeWay.com/downloads page was responsible for only 1.6% of the clipart page… how were people getting there?

It turns out that 94% of the hits on the clipart page are actually the FIRST page people hit on the LifeWay.com website.  In other words, they’re coming to the page from OUTSIDE of other LifeWay.com pages.  This is where data-mining and webstats gets to be fun; I was trying to find out what to do with one page and stumble upon a silly mystery of how on Earth are people getting to a page that we haven’t updated in years.

Again, Fireclick comes to the rescue as I can put the webpage into a report that tells me what the referring domains (and/or actual URLs) are to bring people directly to the clipart page.

Here’s where it gets crazy; 65% of the visits to the page are from people doing directly to the page… as in, typing it in or they have it book marked.  The next biggest bracket are Google searches from Canada, and then Google searches from the UK.

So, of course, I get even more curious and mine a bit further…

We’ve got people hitting up our clipart page from EVERYWHERE.  The US, Canada, the UK, the Philipines, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Mexico, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates… everywhere.  This is just bizzare to me.

The key to data mining, however, is making some sense of the data.  If you’ve got nothing applicable from the exercise, then it’s just a waste of time.  So, some resolution points from my little stroll down the Fireclick stats lane:

 

  1. The page can be modified however we see fit.  There is too little traffic to the lifeway.com/downloads page to impact our business in a negative capacity.  Any improvements should/could result in an improvement in page views, usage of free downloads, and traffic/awareness of our purchasable downloads.
  2. The free download pages need to be reworked as well.  They aren’t heavily trafficked either and need some attention.  There’s good content out there, but no one knows we give so much away free!
  3. Clip Art for MayClipart could be a micromarket for us.  The question is: do we position clipart as a free loss-leader for traffic/something we can just give away to help church add some flair to their bulletins, or do we find a way to commission new, high-quality clip art and sell sets of it to recoup the expenditure?  Unfortunately, I’m not really in a position to make any kind of decision (or really a suggestion) on such a topic, but I find it an interesting dilemma none-the-less.
  4. Clipart.  Still popular.  I never, ever would have guessed.  This is a very humbling reminder about how expansive our customer base is, with some people desiring HD downloads and others checking our clipart page, anxiously awaiting a new line  drawing to drop into their bulletin.

 

(My) Article on Social Networks

Posted in lifeway with tags , on May 1, 2008 by Aaron

The article I wrote for Deacon Magazine on Social Networks has found its way to the LifeWay website before the magazine’s publication.  The article was written with the church leader in mind, so the voice and style is a bit different than my usual work.

Click through to check it out!

One of the Great Things LifeWay is Doing: Free “Share Jesus Without Fear” Downloadable

Posted in lifeway, LifeWay Downloads with tags , on April 10, 2008 by Aaron

Recently made available on the LifeWay Catalog is a series of free downloadable PDFs for the “Share Jesus Without Fear” material.  This is the first release of products under our multi-ethnic initiative led by Phil Adams, and it has been awesome to get to touch on it, just a little bit.

It’s not often that we’re able to give things of this nature away for free, let alone things that are entirely new products.  These pieces were translated specifically for this purpose: to make them available for free.  I’ve gotten to talk with Phil several times about the initiative, and there really isn’t an ulterior motive here; Phil believes that there is a need for these languages that often don’t get much attention to have materials available to them in their native tongue.

The fact of the matter is, LifeWay is incurring a cost to make these available.  We pay the cost of hosting the files and of delivering them (just because we’re a non-profit doesn’t mean that we get free internet bandwidth).  LifeWay pays the cost for meetings when we discuss plans for the products.  LifeWay pays for the time to create the PDF, to organize the process, etc etc.

It’s a pleasure being able to see us take on a financial burden to ourselves in order to better equip fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and doing so in a way  that is comfortable to them, in their own language.  While we would never be able to do this for all of our products (we do need revenue in order to pay for product, authors fees, employee salaries, electricity and the like), it’s great to see us be able to utilize digital delivery to do something like this.

Physical books in the various languages are also available at the discounted rate of $4.90.