Many Pies

Many Pies

Friday, February 27, 2009

IT World of Wycliffe

The task of Bible Translation needs a whole lot of different specialist skills, such as teachers and pilots. Where we need a lot of people with a particular area of skill we often have some people in the organisation dedicated to handling enquiries for that area. One such area is IT.

I've just found out that our IT recruitment people have a website just for those who are thinking of working for us called The IT World of Wycliffe with lots of information explaining how we use IT in Wycliffe and what sorts of skills are needed. In fact it was mentioned on the Wycliffe UK blog, but I didn't notice. Reading your own organisation's blog is a good idea!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Publishing the Bible online

Another snippet from the Check IT Out day we held last Saturday:

You might think that Wycliffe would already be putting the Bibles it translates online. However there are reasons why that is trickier than you might think. One of these is the issue of ownership. I don't know all the ins and outs of this, let alone explain them, but its roughly to do with the fact that the translated Bible isn't owned by us, but by the organisations we work in partnership with.

There are also technical challenges with the original text. It may be in some old desktop publishing format. Even if we have the text, we may have incomplete information about the fonts used. Only recent work is in Unicode. Some translations aren't electronic at all (yet).

Then there's the presentation side, you can't just put a load of ascii text on a web page, it needs to be presented in a useful way. Actually none of this was said on Saturday, I'm just setting this scene! The presentation was about a project which is overcoming these hurdles.

One of the big things in getting the Bible into peoples' hands is the mobile phone. There are more mobiles than PCs and an increasing number can handle text, audio and video. So a lot of the presentation was what's happening around the world with mobiles. One thing I hadn't heard of is the company O3B Networks. O3B is Other 3 Billion. They are putting up a new network of satellites to offer cheaper and faster satellite internet connection. The same connection can also be used for mobile traffic.

The project's in private beta at the moment, so you can't see it yet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sign Languages conference

I've blogged about sign languages before and I've just found out that we're hosting a sign languages conference here at Wycliffe UK this weekend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bible Translation mentioned in the Westminster Confession

I took part in the Check IT Out day we held last Saturday. I'll blog about some other things on it later, but I thought I'd just share this thought from one of the other speakers.

The Westminster Confession from 1646 mentions the need for Bible Translation in Chapter 1 (emphasis mine):

VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right to, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the language of every people to which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.
Text from

I don't suppose many church leaders, or leadership groups get together and say "In planning the next year or so, shall we have a quick look at the Westminster Confession to see if there's anything that we should be concentrating on, but which we've forgotten about?". If they did though, well...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Designing for 97% of people

According to Google Analytics 97% of the people visting have a screen resolution greater than 800x600, so I'm going to redesign one of our other sites to be nearer 1000 pixels wide. The ideal would be some sort of flexible layout, but I'm inheriting someone else's fixed layout, so I'm just going to tweak the width initially.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Entry on the Wycliffe UK blog

I've just done an entry on the Wycliffe UK blog about Easy Bibles. I've had the ability to add entries, but people with better information than me and able to write gooder than what I can have been putting stuff on there. However there was something that interested me, so I wrote an entry.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Overview of NetCommunity email

I couldn't find something as concise as this in the Blackbaud documentation, so I've written it myself.

There are four types of emails from BBNC:
  • Acknowledgements - these get sent when the user does something, like give a gift, or register as a user.
  • "Messages" - these are emails sent on an ad hoc basis to a list of people. The list can be based on emails in RE, or from an imported list, or all people registered on BBNC. (At the moment the only people registered are those who are using the BBNC backend.) When people get these and click on the "email preferences" link they get the option to opt in and out of newsletters (see below) or out of all communications, so these shouldn't be used for anything regular, instead...
  • Newsletters - these are designed to be sent regularly. People opt in to get these specifically on the website. They can also opt out.
  • Campaigns - these are a series of appeals, each of which consists of a message sent to a number of lists. It allows A/B testing, test messages before the real thing goes, and other marketing goodies.

Behind the scenes there are also templates

A template does as you'd expect, lets you define the general look of your emails, whilst changing the content for each message that goes out.

The template can be based on a given list, or if you select "constituent" for who the template goes to, you can specify the list of people it is sent to when you create the message based on the template.

How emails are handled in Blackbaud NetCommunity

I have done some investigation as regards how emails are handled for non-logged-in users in Blackbaud NetCommunity (BBNC).

Whether the email address comes from RE originally or some other method (imported list, filled in form on website), the emails are stored in the BBNC database. I have worked out how some of the tables fit together if you want to know more.

When someone gets a "message" (I put it in quotes because that's a technical term used by the BBNC user interface) or a newsletter with a link to an email preferences page (i.e. it contains an email preferences part) then BBNC knows who you are by the URL.
For example, here's the URL / NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=196&srcid=132&srctid=1&erid=117
196 is the page id, as used all over the place.
132 is the id of the message (one message for multiple recipients)
117 is the id of the receipient, i.e. the unique number in the database associated with the recipient's email address

That page has a list of our newsletters, a checkbox saying "Check this box to indicate that you do not wish to receive future email communications from us" and a box to fill in your email address.
If the person is subscribed to newsletters then they are ticked. I don't know why it asks you for your email even though it knows your address from the id in the URL.

Looking at the database things change when the newsletter subscriptions are ticked and unticked. If a user has been sent an email because they are a constituent then the "no more email" tickbox I mention results in a profile change through the RE plugin, and when you process it, ticks the "requests no email" box on their constituent record.

If you email to someone who isn't a constituent, and they unsubscribe from all mailings then it stores this information in the database.

Sometimes, and I haven't worked out when, the user email preferences page doesn't have a newsletter list, but just the checkbox and email address box.

If you have problems with people unsubscribing there are a couple of knowledge base articles, BB470402, BB432116, but they just say "create a case". With all these email addresses flying around I'm not surprised things can get messy, particularly if you have the same email address in BBNC multiple times.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New member of staff

This week we have a new member of staff - Phil Prior has joined us as Head of Marketing. (If the term "marketing" makes you cringe I suggest you read his post Marketing Wycliffe.)

He has posted some pictures of how the Wycliffe Centre looks on his blog.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Designing a safe environment for young people on the web

I've just watched a video on how to keep young people safe on the web, particlarly with social media applications.
It's on the Oxford Geek Nights website under "The web and adolescents" microslot. The video is only 6 minutes long.

Interesting dialog from Facebook

If you click on the "Are you sure you wish to cancel the upload" button it resumes.