JAN 2014 EDIT: These links will still work for some of you, but to resolve many of the issues people were having with downloading these, I have uploaded them to Google Drive. See the new links HERE.

Years ago I saw one of the BYU Rountable Discussions on the Book of Mormon while I was flipping through the channels and landed on BYUTV. It was actually quite interesting, so I went to the website to see what the program was all about. There was a series for every set of the standard works! It was like having a BYU religion class in your living room! Great! Except I didn’t have time to watch several hundred episodes right then.

I saw that they offered an audio download option for all of the episodes and I downloaded the MP3s in hopes of beginning to listen to them, but I never did. Then I forgot about them, then my hard drive crashed, and I figured I could just download them again sometime if I wanted to. Several years have passed, and now I’m living in Idaho with 45 minutes of commute each day and I’m looking for something to listen to as I go to work. I had already finished the Sped-Up Book of Mormon in a few months, and remembered these old MP3s!  I went to the BYUTV site and could see the videos available for streaming, but couldn’t find the MP3s.  I searched the web, but nothing.  I searched torrents, no luck.  They were gone.

So I hopelessly wrote to BYUTV and asked where I could find them.  The response amazed me. A super nice shout out to Stephanie and Kaylee who sent me this email:

Dear Brad,

Thank you for your email. We are happy to hear that you have benefited from the Scripture Roundtable Discussions. As you correctly noted, these are no longer available in the audio format that you have been accessing. You’d be surprised to know that the cost to make these available was relatively high and since we didn’t have many users accessing the audio format, we decided to utilize our resources to support other services that are accessed by a wider audience.

However, if you would like to reply to this email with your address, we would be happy to send you the audio format of these discussions in the mail. If you have any other comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at 866-662-9888.

Have a great day!

Awesome!  Not sure how hosting the MP3s was really that expensive, but the fact that they were going to send me a copy for free boggled my mind.  I offered to pay, they refused.  Go BYU! A few days later in the mail, I received a DVD with 137 HOURS of audio!  Holy cow!  I burned the Pearl of Great Price series and Doctrine and Covenants series to an MP3 CD and began listening the next morning.

After having listened to these for about a month now, back and forth, I have to say that they are really amazing.  It has helped me to have more positive thoughts, understand the gospel better, understand church history better, and gain a greater testimony of the scriptures.  These are seriously a really great thing if you’re needing something to listen to on a commute.  So though you can write to BYUTV and have them mail you a copy of the program, I figured I’d upload it here.  If you’d like to download the entire set, all 4.1GB of it, click on the link and then be prepared to wait quite a while for it to download.  It’s in a .RAR format, so you’ll need something like WinZip, 7-Zip, or WinRAR to unpack it. But it’s worth it, I promise.

AllBYUDiscussions.rar

I will issue one caveat.  In the Pearl of Great Price Discussions – which are great – Joseph Fielding McConkie drives me insane.  By the end I was getting ready to pull my hair out every time he paused before the last word in a sentence.  “Joseph Smith’s greatest revelation was obviously about the………………………Abrahamic Covenant.”  Just a heads up.  Enjoy.

Pace is everything. Whether I’m sitting in Sacrament Meeting or Young Men’s or Primary, when the speaker gets too slow, the audience fades away.  If the speaker maintains an upbeat tempo, it’s much easier to pay attention (except when Elder Lynn G. Robbins gave the “To Be or Not To Be” talk in April of 2011 – it was so deep, I could barely keep up! But I digress…)

So when I decided to start listening to the Book of Mormon on my commute to work, I was completely and utterly bummed out when I started listening to the Church’s production on MP3.  It needs a warning from the Surgeon General about causing drowsiness, or at least it should advise you not to listen to it while driving or operating heavy machinery.  It is impossible to get through.  I almost decided to abandon the effort, but then I devised a plan.

I went home and ran all the files through some software to speed them up by 45%.  Any faster and it becomes “Alvin and the Chipmunks Read the Book of Mormon.” Any slower and you’ll still fall asleep.  45% was the sweet spot, and it worked for me.

Speeding up the pace of the reading accomplished two things.  This took the total length of time to listen to the entire collection from 26 hours down to 18 hours – not too shabby.  But much more importantly, it brought the rate of speech up to the pace of an excited conversation, one that you’d want to pay attention to.

With the newer, faster version, I had to pay attention a lot more, and do more active listening, because it’s moving along with or without you.  The slightly higher pitch feels a little more aggressive and interesting.  The story progresses and you feel like you’re getting somewhere.  You can finish two or three chapters on a 20 minute drive, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something.  Honestly, it still takes a while to get through it.  Jacob 5 is still 15 minutes long, but at least it’s not 22 minutes like in the original!

Anyway, once I mentioned the fact that I had a sped-up version to some of my friends, I had several requests for copies.  And since this has become a place to host all my little LDS-hacks over the past few years, I guess I’ll share them with you. All the sped-up MP3s are in a nice little zip file, only 243MB – small enough for any smart phone, MP3 CD, or Ipod.

To download, right click on the following link, and then unzip them on your computer:

Fast_BOM.zip

Maybe they’ll work for you, maybe they’re not at the right speed, maybe you prefer to sit down and read everyday; but hopefully for someone somewhere, these might just be able to get some of us back into the scriptures again. It did the trick for me.

(Direct download link for the original, slower MP3s here: Official Book of Mormon MP3s)

P.S. I know some people get really worried about copyright, but I’m not so concerned.  If a Church representative would like me to take these down, that’s fine, but I think they would realize the intent is to increase exposure to the scriptures for free, and who is going to get mad about that? So go ahead and download guilt-free.  I’ll take the fall for you if someone gets cranky.

So you’ve seen how awesome it is to upload old family stuff to Archive.org and you want to do the same thing? You’re in luck, it’s really easier than it sounds.  In three easy steps, you’ll have your family history, scrapbook, memories, interviews, or great-great-aunt Melba Johnson’s famous recipe book online and available to cousins and relatives the world over.  Let’s get started:

1. Make or Choose your Document. First make sure the document you’re uploading isn’t already online, if it is, there’s no reason to upload another copy. Next, if you know how to a PDF out of the file you have, that’s the best way to do it, but it will work just fine if all you have is a Microsoft Word document.  Just make a Word Document with your history or special photos displayed in a way that looks good to you.  Make sure it doesn’t contain any information on living people that they would not want you to share. Include important information at the beginning such as the source of the material, the author, your information, a title, etc. (Archive.org will take a variety of file formats, including .txt, .doc, .docx, .pdf, .mp3, .wav, .mpg2 and many more, so you could upload audio interviews, video interviews, plain text, and much more, but we’re keeping it simple by just talking about documents in this post).

2. Register with Archive.org.  Go to https://archive.org/account/login.createaccount.php to create an account.  It’s easy, you just need an email address, pick a username and password, and you’re done.  They’ll send a verification to your email, you click on it, and then go back to the site and login.

3. Upload your Document. Click on the “upload” button in the upper right hand corner and it will take you to an intermediate page.  You’ll then click “share” in the upper right hand corner of that page.  Clicking on “share” will open a box that allows you to browse your computer for the file you want to upload.  Pick the document, and upload it.

click this…

…then this

Then they will ask you for a variety of information that will help you to identify the document.  Fill out the title, description, keywords, author, and then pick from a few of the copyright license options (it really doesn’t matter what you pick here, I’m not too concerned about someone making copies of my family biographies.  The reason you’re uploading it is to share it, right? If you are concerned about what people do with the information, read the copyright options carefully and choose the best one that suits your situation) :

Click “Share my file,” wait a couple minutes, and the file will automatically be scanned, converted into a variety of formats, and given its own home page.  After a few days the data should show up on search engines across the world. Then anyone searching Google for your great-great-aunt “Melba Madeline Johnson” will find your book about her life, including her famous spice cake recipe, or whatever you chose to upload.  It’s really as simple as that, and it’s so incredibly helpful to the whole genealogical community at large that it really is worth your time.

So go dig through your family history files, find something special to upload, and put it on the web today.  You may not directly see the blessings you will be bringing to countless others, but you’ll know you did the right thing by putting it out there for everyone to see. Then, go google your own ancestors and see what others might have shared that you’ve never known existed!

A long time ago, probably 90 years ago or so, the old Jackman house burned down when the family tried to hook up the first electric line to the house. In the ashes were photos, journals, letters, and keepsakes from the early Jackman pioneers and many generations of my grandparents. Those things are gone forever, and I’ll never be able to read some of the fascinating stories that must have existed in those documents.

As a genealogist and history aficionado, I want to preserve everything about my family, and have a morbid fear of losing unique information like the things that were lost in the Jackman house fire so many years ago. But just as sad as the fire is, there are documents and photos that are sitting in my own boxes that rarely get looked at, except for once every 5-10 years or so. I have some amazing documents that I have inherited that shouldn’t be locked up in a box in the garage, where some inevitable act of God or man will eventually destroy them.

As a product of the Internet generation, I also want to share all my fascinating family information with the world. But where to post the information? If I post it on some site I host myself, they will likely be lost when I forget to pay the hosting bill, or when the company inevitably changes policies or rules or ownership in the next few decades. I need a place that will give my documents the widest exposure, with the best chance of survival for decades and even centuries to come. The solution I’ve found is Archive.org.

An Internet library and repository supported by a variety of charities and organizations, Archive.org is one of the best places to store this kind of family data. It has free storage, universal access, redundant data protection, multiple storage sites, and a commitment to make as much information available to everyone for as long as humanly possible. In short, I trust them way more than I trust my garage.

Grandpa C.W. Allbee, whose only written history is a short smallpox diary found last year.

So I’ve begun uploading family documents to Archive.org as soon as I find them. A year or so ago I found a handwritten account of a time when my great-great-grandfather contracted smallpox while working for the railroad in Colorado and was quarantined for weeks to an abandoned home with an old prospector as his guard and guardian.  It was full of wit and charm, and portrayed this man in a light I had never seen him in. Nobody alive had ever heard the story! So I scanned it in and typed up the story, and created a PDF that contained both the transcription and the original images. The I uploaded it to Archive.org as the Claudius Wilbur Allbee Smallpox Diary.

The main page gives a short introduction that I wrote, and some statistics. To the left side, you can view the book in a variety of ways. You can download it, read it online, get a version for the kindle or eReaders, or a variety of other formats. All I had to do was upload the document and Archive.org did the rest. Simply amazing. And as of this post, 27 people have downloaded this document to their computer, while likely many more have had the chance to browse the pages online. Way better than sitting in my garage!

To date, I have published the following documents on Archive.org that are not available online anywhere else (click on the title to go to the Archive.org page):

  • Brooks Field Photographs – Early photographs of Brooks Army Airfield the first Army airfield ever created, from my great-grandfather’s time there in WWI. I haven’t found any photos online that display the operations and construction of the airfield as these do.
  • Photo Album and Family Bible of the Janney Family – A photo album and family bible that somehow got into my family’s possessions, though they are not relatives of mine. I suspect that they were obtained by a great-great-aunt who never had any children or family of her own, but had several close friends who she cared for at looked after. After posting this, a descendant of the people in the photos contacted me and I was able to send him the album and bible. Amazing connection!
  • 1969 Picture History of Everett Milton Allbee and Katie Cranage Allbee – This book was obtained by my great-grandmother who was trying to see if this family were close relatives of her Allbee line, which they weren’t. She kept the book anyway, and now I’ve been able to post the book online, 43 years later.
  • Cordell Records – A Virginia Family – Another small booklet of genealogy obtained by my great-grandmother, though not related to our family. Over 600 downloads so far.
  • Wade Family History – A very short set of typewritten pages that give biographies and genealogical information on the Wade family.
  • 1924 Alamosa High School Yearbook, Printed Edition – My great-grandmother’s yearbook from Alamosa Colorado.
  • 1924 Alamosa High School Yearbook, Scrapbook Edition – Another version of the yearbook with more pictures, and other items from the city and the school.
  • Holdrege Duster Student Newspaper 1925-1926 – What a find! Copies of these early student newspaper from Holdrege High School were in my grandfather’s belongings, but were kept by his aunt. A souce of interest for the little town of Holdrege, Nebraska, and the high school students there, I’m sure, as there have been almost 80 downloads of the issues so far.
  • Stella Smith Reed’s Scrapbook – This is more personal than the rest, but it includes local newsclippings, and notes on who visited the home, how many potatoes they harvested each year, and family history information. Who knows what someone might find in there that will help them find ancestors or enrich their understanding of local history?
  • Album Views – The Isle of Man – A tourist photobook I found, passed down from my ancestors who moved to America from the Isle of Man. Back when the emigrated, this was probably the only way to keep good photos of their homeland and native country. I haven’t found the book mentioned anywhere else online, so it’s possible this is the only one left in existence.
  • Mothers Day Booklet 1933 Alamosa Colorado LDS Branch – Decades before this line of my family joined the Mormon Church, they lived in Alamosa Colorado, which had a heavily LDS population. Somehow my great-great-grandmother received this mother’s day booklet from the Mormons. An interesting look into Church outreach at the time, and an interesting parallel for those of us who eventually joined the Mormon Church.
  • Mrs. Nebraska 1956 Pagent Program – My grandmother participated in this pagent, and the program offers a fun view of the time period, along with advertisements. As an aside, the woman who beat my grandmother went on to win the national competition, and the event was recently reported on by an investigative journalist.

See how cool all this stuff is? Old newspapers, historically significant photographs, family biographies, old family stories – these are treasures to me, and should be shared with others. The fact that these documents have been downloaded over 1000 times (and viewed online many more times) in the short time they’ve been uploaded just proves to me how important it is to get this stuff out there!

Okay, have I convinced you that this is important yet? Good. Next time we’ll go over how can you upload your family stories, history, photos, etc. It’s easier than you think!

This is my old copy, with lots of markings and thoughts in the margins and text.

****UPDATE: A new edition created from the 2013 revised edition of the scriptures is available here. Also, all four standard works are now available! Check it out!****

At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link for a PDF copy of the Wide Margin Edition of the Book of Mormon, a perfect gift for a student, missionary, or family member!

The Story Behind the Project:

As a missionary in Minnesota, my mission president encouraged us to take 10 days and study the Book of Mormon deeply and intensely, and write down every thought in the margins.  We spent one day on each of the first ten pages of the Book of Mormon.  It was awesome: looking up every reference, thinking about the meaning of words, considering parallel ideas and themes. I continued this for the rest of my mission, at a slightly quicker pace, and spent 8 months going through it a couple hours a day.  This old copy is one of my most prized posessions. The only problem? Not enough margin space.  I looked into getting the super-huge print edition, but there were still tiny margins to write in.  What I dreamed of was a copy with HUGE margins.  But alas, none existed.

A few years after my mission, I started thinking about how I could do this.  On my first attempt I took a copy of the BoM meant for day planners, and photocopied each page onto a full 8.5×11 page.  It took way too long, and was not easily reproducable.  A few years later, I found the official PDF version put out by the Church and wondered, could I use Acrobat to modify the PDF and make a HUGE margin edition that I could share and reprint when needed? Oh yeah.

My WIDE margin edition, with a few notes, and LOTS more room for future study!

So I increased the text size a little, and added huge margins, then printed out a bunch of copies for myself, my family, and several missionaries that I knew out in the field.  I loved it, and then I began wondering how I could get this out to the general public.  And could I make some money for producing these? It only costs $5 to bind and put covers on it at the UPS store, but the printing costs would probably be so much that I couldn’t make a profit off of it.  So I scapped the idea. Then I thought, “Well, I have that old website, why don’t I post it on there for everyone?”

So here it is.  A PDF copy of the Wide Margin Edition of the Book of Mormon.  Print the PDF, double-sided, on a laser printer, or take it to a copy and print shop and have them print it for you.  Spiral bound it so it lays flat. Then mark it up to your heart’s desire.  It becomes more personal and deep than any other scripture study method that I’ve ever tried.  I hope it works for you, and if it does, please leave a comment and tell me how you’ve enjoyed it.

The PDF File:

Download the Book of Mormon – Wide Margin Edition by right-clicking on this link, then selecting “Save Target As…”  Or you can just click on it normally and use Acrobat Reader to save a copy to your computer.  Enjoy!

Well, in this era of electronic anonymity and identity theft, you might wonder why I have a blog at BradJackman.com. Well, many years ago I bought the domain and hosted a resume here.  Now, as my career is getting more and more settled, I have no more use to host a resume.  But then what do I do with this domain?  Should I let it go defunct, and let cybersquatters set up some lame ad page with the URL that contains MY name?  So on behalf of me and all the other Brad Jackmans out there, I decided to preserve this domain from the cyber squatting forces out there and set up this blog.

Now shouldn’t I be afraid of letting my real identity out there?  Maybe.  What about revealing my thoughts to the world under my true name?  Nobody should be surprised that I’m opinionated, or a faithful mormon, or a family man.  Nothing to hide there. (As an aside, I previously published a very opinionated family history blog under an anonymous account, and the powers that be figured out who I was anyway.) So maybe it’s not the smartest idea, but I’ve done stupider things.

So then what do I put here?  Well, I guess, whatever I want.  I’m inspired by Truman Madsen’s opening to the series on the Prophet Joseph Smith, where he says, and I’m paraphrasing, “I have all this material and I want to unload it.  I don’t care if anybody shows up, just give me a room and a microphone, and it will be fine.” I’ve got several LDS hacks, genealogy posts, and various projects I’d just like to get out there.  There’s no dedicated reader base, and I’m not making any money off this, but if one person can google “Wide Margin Book of Mormon” and download a copy, then it will be a success in my book.

So this is my room and my microphone, my place to unload.  Or, as a Book of Mormon Prophet named Nephi once had, a garden tower where he could pour out the thoughts of his heart. The garden just happened to back up to the highway though, and everyone could hear him.  And so it is with this blog: my personal place to share my thoughts with the world.