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So, now I come to the part where I make my plea: no new tools, please. If you are interested in improving how people work, you should devise methods for work, manners of behavior, and methods of decision making. Document your ideology and apply it with existing tools, so nearly anyone can follow along. Why don’t you use our best tool? Language. Increasingly, I feel documentation beats an app if you’re trying to shepherd an idea along. This approach seems to have worked pretty well for David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Josh Clark’s Couch to 5K. Of course there are innumerable apps supporting each method, but the ideas are bigger than an app, so you don’t need to download anything. Buy a notebook or put on your running shoes. Commit to the plan. They are not leaky buckets.

Consider making a program for people, not a program for a computer. I don’t want a new app to help me do work; I want different ways to think about work so I can get more done. It’s a nuanced difference, but I think it is an important one.

Frank Chimero, “No New Tools”

I came across this article by Frank Chimero on a day in which I spent my working hours migrating digital notes into another software tool. And what’s more, many of the notes are about new tools, for the computer as well as the mission field. The article quickly became a favorite. No new tools, please. We have what we need to do good work.

“Nepali in Context” Flash Cards /

I made a flash card deck for Anki software to accompany the book Nepali in Context (3rd ed.) by Daniel Watters and Narendra Rajbhandary. Nepali in Context is published by Ekta and found with audio CD in Nepal bookstores.

Contained in the deck are each chapter’s “Vocabulary” and “Useful Phrases” with audio, sample sentences from “Complex Verbs” and “Grammar,” and difficult sentences from “Text.” The deck includes both sides of the cards: comprehension (listening) and production (speaking).

Cards have Devanagari script and Roman (English) transcription. Unicode fonts are embedded. Script was typed according to Nepali conventions but some systems display consonant clusters according to Hindi conventions.

Alternatives in notes are my own additions after study and use. They often reflect dialect differences. Notably, Nepali in the Terai and Darjeeling regions has mixed with Hindi.

Chapters can be filtered by tag for study.

Note: The deck includes Nepali in Context chapters 1–22 and the Domestic and Religious appendices.


Choose to download the shared deck with or without audio.


Anki is a flash card program that uses spaced repetition. It’s a powerful and intelligent way to study. The software is free (for most devices) and open source. There’s also a free synchronization service to keep your flash cards in sync across devices or study online.

To use a shared deck, first download Anki and install it. Then download one of the Nepali in Context decks and open the download. It will automatically import into Anki.

If you’ve already imported one of the decks and are updating it, you can do so safely. It will not remove your cards or overwrite your scheduling information.

Ways I’ve Studied the Biblical Languages on the Field /

I studied Greek and Hebrew at seminary. If you’re curious about how I’ve continued to study the biblical languages while on the field, here are some things I’ve used:

  • Anki software for vocabulary review
  • Daily Dose of Greek videos by Dr. Rob Plummer (a gifted teacher and former missionary)
  • Accordance software for in-depth study of biblical languages
  • Logos software, along with Translator’s Workplace, for biblical commentaries and other resources
  • A good book: David Alan Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek
  • I haven’t kept up with Hebrew… (my great Hebrew teacher must be watching; I came across his textbooks in the small bookshop of our small Himalayan town)

The internet is good enough to depend on for videos and large software packages (sometimes letting it run overnight). It wasn’t that way when I came to the field.

I prefer digital materials for research but not reading. My use of biblical languages is for research. Besides, books are heavy and costly to transport overseas. I can carry a digital library with me as a I travel.

See How I’ve Used the Biblical Languages on the Field.

Converting Audio Files on macOS for Renew Papyrus /
Renew Papyrus Solar-Powered Audio Player
Renew Papyrus Solar-Powered Audio Player

The Renew Papyrus is a solar-powered audio player for outreach ministry among oral cultures. It has internal memory preloaded with an audio Bible and can only be changed with a special USB kit. It also plays audio from SD cards, but the audio must be in Windows Media Audio 9 format (WMA9).

I’ve had two of these audio players around for a while. They were donated for ministry, but I’ve been unable to load them with WMA audio from my macOS computer and put them to good use. Nowadays, most people here use their mobile phones and MP3 audio files on micro SD cards.

A situation had me try to get the Papyrus audio players up and running. There are new Christians in an impoverished tea plantation asking for the Bible. One man in particular, kaka (“uncle”), is eager to learn more, but is illiterate and without a mobile phone to listen to recordings on his own. That was all the motivation I needed to learn how to make work what I had available.

WMA9 is backwards compatible with previous WMA formats (like WMA2), which is helpful because it is difficult to find WMA encoding software these days for macOS. The free and open-source software Audacity can export to WMA2. To do so it needs the optional FFmpeg library (details in the Audacity manual). Audacity is the easiest way to convert audio formats. It has been handy software for me to edit audio also. It can apply a “chain” of commands to multiple files, but unfortunately, there is no command available for chains to export to WMA.

I had a folder of Bible stories in MP3 format and a much larger folder of New Testament MP3 audio from Faith Comes By Hearing. The total number of files was about 300, too many to convert in Audacity one at a time. I had to work with FFmpeg directly.

The FFmpeg library can be used on the command-line (like in the Terminal application on macOS) to export multiple files or customize the export options beyond Audacity’s capabilities. Don’t be intimidated if the command-line is new territory! It can be done in just two or three lines.

Converting to WMA

I put all of the audio files into a temporary folder for simplicity, which I called “Audio to Convert” on my Desktop. I downloaded the static build of FFmpeg for macOS and put it in the same folder (there are more FFmpeg download options). I opened the Terminal app on macOS (look for it in “Applications” → “Utilities”). I then typed the following line to change the directory (cd) to this temporary folder (you’ll need to change the path to your folder, beginning with ~ for your home folder):

cd ~/Desktop/Audio\ to\ Convert/

Then I ran the following command to convert all MP3 files to WMA at the default export options (128kpbs) with metadata preserved. You will need to change ./ffmpeg to the path of the FFmpeg download if it is not in the same folder as the audio files as I had done:

for file in *.mp3; do ./ffmpeg -i "${file}"  "${file/.mp3/.wma}"; done

Now let it run. On my computer, to convert 300 files each of about 5 minutes in length, the process took about 5 minutes.

Look at the FFmpeg documentation for custom export options. For example, you can convert from other audio formats besides MP3, or change the bit rate from 128kbps down to something like 64kbps if the kind of audio is simple like speech and small file size is important.

Copying and Ordering the Files

The Renew Papyrus will only play audio files on SD cards that are within folders. It plays audio files in the order in which they were created, which is the order in which they are copied to the SD card. This is a problem if you copy all of the files at once. The files will not copy in order but smaller files will finish copying ahead of larger files. The play order will seem to be random.

You could copy the files one at a time (all 300 of them!), pausing between each one. You have to make sure the files copy in order, otherwise you’ll need to begin copying again from the point it went wrong.

Or use the following command in Terminal do it for you. Be sure you are still in the same folder as the audio files with the cd command above. And change what follows /Volumes/... to the name of the SD card and destination folder. It will copy a file every second (sleep 1), so this will also take 5 minutes for 300 files.

for file in *.wma; do cp "${file}" "/Volumes/SD/NT/"; sleep 1; done

When the files are copied, open the destination folder in Finder, sort by creation date, and double-check the order.

I can now play the converted WMA Bible stories and New Testament on the Renew Papyrus.

There is at least one person, an “uncle” in a nearby tea plantation, who will be happy to hear.

Jan 26, 2018
Added “Copying and Ordering the Files” section

Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” The Atlantic (Jul 1945)

Calibre icon for macOS
Calibre icon inspired by macOS and library bindings
My Calibre Icon for macOS /

I made a macOS iconset for Calibre, the ebook management software.

Download Calibre.icns

The iconset includes icons for retina resolution, up to 512px. The design was inspired by the icon and the cloth cover of library bindings. The font used is Pfeffer Simpelgotisch Semibold.

The simplest way to use the icon is to drag and drop the linked icns file onto the default icon in the “Get Info” window: find in the “Applications” folder; open “Get Info” on it with ⌘I (or find it in the “right-click” context and “File” menus); and drag and drop (or copy and paste) the preview icon in the top left with the new icns file. To revert to the default icon, select the preview icon and “delete.” Relaunch Calibre to effect changes. You’ll need to apply the icon each time the application is updated.

Update: It’s no longer possible to change the Calibre app icon in this way.

Check out Twine, an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.

LibraryBox: Portable Private Digital Distribution /

LibraryBox is an open source, portable digital file distribution tool based on inexpensive hardware that enables delivery of educational, healthcare, and other vital information to individuals off the grid.

[Look for v2.1 which brings localization (language) support. —C.M.H.]

My Evernote Icon for macOS /
Evernote icon inspired by macOS icon + Moleskine + elephant skin
Evernote icon inspired by macOS icon + Moleskine + elephant skin

Here is my Evernote iconset for macOS

The design was inspired by the icon, Moleskine, and elephant skin. It includes 2x retina resolution, up to 512px.

The simplest way to use the icon is to drag and drop the linked icns file onto the default icon in the “Get Info” window: find in the “Applications” folder; open “Get Info” on it with ⌘I (or find it in the “right-click” context and “File” menus); and drag and drop (or copy and paste) the preview icon in the top left with the new icns file. To revert to the default icon, select the preview icon and “delete.” Relaunch Evernote to effect changes. You’ll need to apply the icon each time the application is updated.

Installing Nepal Bible Society’s E-Bible on macOS and iOS /

The Nepal Bible Society (NBS) provides a digital version of their Nepali New Revised Version Bible (पवित्र बाइबल) (NRV) and Simple Nepali Bible (सरल नेपाली) (SN). NBS puts these together on a CD or USB flash drive called “E-Bible.” It’s available at their office in Kathmandu or at Christian bookstores like Ekta in Nepal and the Darjeeling District of India. The files could also be requested from NBS by email. Each Bible file is serial numbered, locked and licensed for individual use.

Other Nepali materials from NBS are also published in electronic form on the disk: New Testament Commentary (नयाँ करारको टिप्पनी), Bible Dictionary (बाइबल शब्दकोश) and Theological Topics: OT and NT Articles (शस्त्रका विषयहरू: पुरानो करार र नयाँ करारको लेखहरू). These files are not locked.

The software that NBS provides on the disk is made for Windows (BPBible) and some cell phones (GoBible). However, the actual files of the Nepali Bible resources are in a standard open format, SWORD, that can be opened in other software made for other operating systems, including macOS and iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). The SWORD project is maintained by CrossWire Bible Society; they also maintain a list of compatible applications.

If you’re having trouble viewing Nepali (Devanagari) on macOS, see the fonts section in Nepali (Devanagari) Unicode Input for macOS.

NBS E-Bible Files

The Bibles and other materials come as archives (zip files) on the disk from NBS. The NRV and SN Bible files are in the “Bible Society Bibles” folder. The Commentary, Dictionary, OT Articles and NT Articles are archived together as one file in the “Nepali Commentary” folder. There are a few additional resources in the “Other Free English Resources” folder.

Installing on macOS

The recommended application for macOS is Eloquent (formerly MacSword). Download the latest release on GitHub. Move the app to your macOS Applications folder (/Applications).

The NBS E-Bible files will need to go into the folder /Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Sword. The <username> is the name of your Home folder. The Library folder is your Home folder and hidden by default in recent versions of macOS. You can find Library while in Finder by clicking the “Go” menu and holding the “Alt” key. You can also go to the Sword folder directly by clicking the “Go” menu in Finder, then “Go to Folder…” and enter the path as above. If the Sword folder does not exist, enter the path above without “/Sword”. Then make the folder by going to the “File” menu (or right-clicking), selecting “New Folder” and naming it “Sword”.

Unzip each archive from the NBS disk that you want to add (double-click an archived file to open its contents). The files in each archive are in an order that needs to preserved. Take care to preserve the folder structure. There are two folders in each archive: mods.d and modules. Create these folders in the Sword folder if necessary. For each archive, drag its mods.d contents to the Sword mods.d folder, and likewise for modules.

Open the Eloquent application and you should see the modules listed. The Nepali New Revised Version and Simple Nepali Bibles are listed under “Biblical Texts” as “NRV” and “SN” respectively. Each will need to be unlocked before viewing. Right click each module and select “Unlock Module”, then enter the digital key that came with the Bible files.

Eloquent can download other modules (Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Books) through their automatic installer. See more information about using Eloquent.

Installing on iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch)

To install the Nepali Bibles on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device, you will need to have both the device and a computer with the Bible files from Nepal Bible Society (see NBS E-Bible Files above) connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Download the free iOS app from iTunes, PocketSword.

Open the PocketSword app on the device, click “More” and then “Preferences.” Turn on “Module Maintainer Mode.” Return to “More” then select “Downloads.” Click the small folder button in the top right to manage sources, then select “Module Maintainer Mode”. Note either the Bonjour or IP address.

On the computer, open a web browser and enter either the Bonjour or IP address as found in PocketSword’s “Module Maintainer Mode.” A page appears with a list of the installed modules and buttons to upload and install a module. Click the “Choose File” button. Select one of the zip files as it came from NBS and then “Submit.” You will need to upload and submit each zip file separately. Verify that the modules appear on the “Installed Modules” list at the top of the page.

In the PocketSword app, select “Bibles” and select the Nepali New Revised Version (NRV) and Simple Nepali (SN) Bibles in order to unlock them. A prompt will appear; select “Yes” and enter the digital key that came from NBS with the Bible files.

For other Nepali Bible digital resources, see Nepali Bibles Online.

Update 2019

Updated links.

Update 2017

The NBS Bibles — Nepali New Revised Version and Simple Nepali — are available on the mobile app YouVersion and it’s companion website, The versions are called NNRV and सरल नेपाली, respectively. The YouVersion app allows downloading the texts for offline reading. The app is available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and others.