Does Anyone Use the Faithlife Assistant?

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Jul 15 2021 5:12 PM

With Faithlife beginning to remove certain features from Logos (presumably to streamline the app for increased performance and ease of maintenance), I was wondering if anyone actually uses Faithlife Assistant?

I never use it since I don't think it's particularly helpful and just adds another layer of complexity to the interface. We can just go to the Factbook to answer most questions now with all the improvements that have been made to the Factbook.

Would this feature be a good candidate for removal? What do folks think?

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 5:21 PM

It has no value in my view.

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 5:23 PM

Kiyah:
Would this feature be a good candidate for removal? What do folks think?

NO! despite the fact that FL did not preload it with the most useful functions nor provide advance notice that they were dropping enhancing. But more and more, people are expecting to be able to control applications hands-free. This is an essential element for accessibility and for traffic safety for those having the mobile app reading to them while they drive. I personally think it should take over much of the help function.

Kiyah:
We can just go to the Factbook to answer most questions

While I like the new Factbook, I do not find this to be true -- especially with some sections (esp. grammatical and semantic roles) not being present in the new form. I find Factbook has additional items that it contains information on - but little change in the actual information carried ... and it still has some organizational issues ...

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 5:36 PM

MJ. Smith:
despite the fact that FL did not preload it with the most useful functions nor provide advance notice that they were dropping enhancing.

It's pretty useless in its current manifestation. And if they're not going to do anything with it why have it? You can't even initiate it with a voice command. It can't understand the most basic things I type in.

If AI is not Faithlife's core competency (it is not), should they not just focus their resources on the things that are?

Why not just build voice command capability into the Factbook itself, and integrate voice commands throughout the software? I think they need to ditch the Assistant and take a totally different approach to addressing accessibility.

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 5:42 PM

Kiyah:
And if they're not going to do anything with it why have it?

In five years, they might do something with it.

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 6:08 PM

SineNomine:

Kiyah:
And if they're not going to do anything with it why have it?

In five years, they might do something with it.

Perhaps they can add it back in five years. lol

BTW, what's significant about five years?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 6:27 PM

Kiyah, I would have preferred if the thread was simply a posting of opinions and their supporting reasons. But I certainly can provide counterpoints to your points.

Kiyah:
It's pretty useless in its current manifestation.

This is not my experience although it is weak for my most frequent use of Logos (documenting functions). Does your comment apply equally to low vision or limited motor skill users?

Kiyah:
And if they're not going to do anything with it why have it?

A  good question to which my response is on Feedbear with 5 votes  Enhance Faithlife Assistant | Faithlife 

Kiyah:
You can't even initiate it with a voice command

Then why did it just open the NRSV by my voice command?

Kiyah:
It can't understand the most basic things I type in.

As I don't have that problem, I have to assume that is because you haven't spent the time to learn to use it. Faithlife Assistant Commands (logos.com) can get you started.

Kiyah:
If AI is not Faithlife's core competency (it is not), should they not just focus their resources on the things that are?

It didn't occur to me that Faithlife wasn't using someone else's language recognition software. They would be foolish to reinvent the wheel. They do, after all, use a third party software to graph search results so wouldn't they also do so for other independent functions that are not Bible software specific? Read About Logos to get a sense of their use of 3rd party components.

Kiyah:
Why not just build voice command capability into the Factbook itself, and integrate voice commands throughout the software? I think they need to ditch the Assistant and take a totally different approach to addressing accessibility.

The first image that came to mind when I read this was being handed a socket wrench set while being asked to cook mac and cheese. Surprise Voice recognition with its response is a function that will be software components independent of data services such as Factbook. From my perspective, if you have Faithlife Assistant open and are controlling it by voice, it is accessible throughout the software. One may want to tweak getting its attention. It you are controlling it by typed input, it is more like the pesky chat boxes that float around on web pages. My suspicion is that the current implementation has a serious system limitation that is visible only in the software architecture and they stopped development rather than bite the bullet and replace the function for priority reasons. But that is simply my speculation.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1188
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 6:42 PM

MJ. Smith:
Kiyah, I would have preferred if the thread was simply a posting of opinions and their supporting reasons. But I certainly can provide counterpoints to your points.

As I am the OP of this thread, my intention was to invite both opinions and discussions of those opinions. I wasn't singling you out in any way.

MJ. Smith:

Kiyah:
You can't even initiate it with a voice command

Then why did it just open the NRSV by my voice command?

Are you on desktop or mobile? This post is referring to the desktop app. I meant that I can't initiate the Assistant itself with a voice command (unless there's something I'm missing). Logos Help says, "Open Faithlife Assistant by clicking Tools > Utilities > Faithlife Assistant, or by pressing Ctrl+Space (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+D (Windows)." So I have to click to open the tool and then click to initiate voice input (which my Norton Security blocked because apparently the feature needs to use the webcam to work.)

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DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 6:53 PM

You could argue that with any feature they remove. 

SineNomine:

Kiyah:
And if they're not going to do anything with it why have it?

In five years, they might do something with it.

Personally I habe not found any value in the tool. Partly because I forgot it it’s there. Maybe if FL made this tool as visible as the shopping cart has been made in recent versions it might get more attention from users. 

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 6:55 PM

Kiyah:
BTW, what's significant about five years?

It's a number of years that I'm confident is long enough for Faithlife to find itself doing things that it isn't planning on doing right now.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 7:15 PM

DIsciple II:
Maybe if FL made this tool as visible as the shopping cart has been made in recent versions it might get more attention from users.

Huge fan of understated humor. Big Smile

Actually, I didn't even know there was such a function. Does it fetch you a cup of Bellingham's famous free coffee?

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 8:23 PM

MJ. Smith:

Kiyah:
It can't understand the most basic things I type in.

As I don't have that problem, I have to assume that is because you haven't spent the time to learn to use it. Faithlife Assistant Commands (logos.com) can get you started.

There's a saying about "assuming" that I won't repeat here. I have seen this list.

I'll give you an example of my experience (the example that prompted this thread). I typed in the assistant, "what is the virgin birth?" It responded, "by 'virgin birth' protestants generally mean 'virginal conception'." I then typed, "what is the virginal conception?" It just repeated its previous answer verbatim. For terms that have Factbook entries, I expect it to open the Factbook. Interestingly enough, when I typed "what is the virgin conception?" it repeated the same answer but finally opened the Factbook entry on the "Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ." This is just one example. I have asked it plenty of simple "what is" or "who is" questions that it should be able to just look up but it very frequently doesn't recognize the term for things that you can run Factbook entries or Topic Guides on.

It requires too much precision, which significantly reduces its helpfulness.

EDIT: After trying "what is the virgin birth of Jesus?" with voice command, it opened the Factbook. Then I tried simply "what is the virgin birth?" through voice command and it opened the Factbook. After that, I tried typing "what is the virgin birth?" again and it opened the Factbook this time. There may be a glitch, or either it's learning. Either way, in the past as today I've had trouble using the "what is" or "who is" commands to get things to come up.

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 8:25 PM

David Paul:

DIsciple II:
Maybe if FL made this tool as visible as the shopping cart has been made in recent versions it might get more attention from users.

Huge fan of understated humor. Big Smile

Same. lol

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 9:44 PM

Kiyah:
I typed in the assistant, "what is the virgin birth?"

Eureka!! I am sufficiently jaded that I always assume that FL products are incapable of speaking any dialect except evangelicalism. Therefore, I would never expect a reasonable response to the terminology of the other 80% of Christianity. [Okay, I'm probably in trouble for stating that out loud.] It's made even worse because my native dialect is liturgical theology. I am so used to having to play hide-and-seek to find where FL hid such topics that I don't even notice anymore. You can have great fun trying to find where they hid the incarnation if you think that is the primary focus of the Feast of the Nativity ...

(Rather than editing this, I'll claim I was simply channeling my inner DMB whose posts I often love).

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 10:07 PM

MJ. Smith:

Kiyah:
I typed in the assistant, "what is the virgin birth?"

Eureka!! I am sufficiently jaded that I always assume that FL products are incapable of speaking any dialect except evangelicalism. Therefore, I would never expect a reasonable response to the terminology of the other 80% of Christianity. [Okay, I'm probably in trouble for stating that out loud.] It's made even worse because my native dialect is liturgical theology. I am so used to having to play hide-and-seek to find where FL hid such topics that I don't even notice anymore. You can have great fun trying to find where they hid the incarnation if you think that is the primary focus of the Feast of the Nativity ...

(Rather than editing this, I'll claim I was simply channeling my inner DMB whose posts I often love).

I wasn't going to even get into the fact that Google Assistant gives a much better and more helpful answer to the question, and that on the first try. The first thing I thought with Faithlife Assistant was, what if I'm not protestant, and how does this answer help me? Faithlife's answer to "what is the Immaculate Conception?" was a bit more helpful to be fair.

Posts 1188
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 11:08 PM

More examples of the Faithlife Assistant not being helpful. You're supposed to be able to use it to start your sermon prep using commands like 'prepare a sermon about debt' (preaching theme) or 'prepare a sermon on John 1' (biblical reference). These commands open a Sermon Starter Guide when they work. Here's how that worked out for me:

1. "prepare a sermon about the virgin birth"; Response: "I didn't understand that."

2. "prepare a sermon about the virgin birth of jesus"; Response: "I didn't understand that."

3. "prepare a sermon about jesus' birth"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (I figured out that I should use a preaching theme, so I looked up the closest relevant preaching theme. Jesus' Birth is literally a preaching theme but it still didn't understand that.)

4. "prepare a sermon about the birth of jesus"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (I thought I'd try more natural language for the same thing.)

5. "prepare a sermon about debt"; Response: "Opening Sermon Starter Guide for Debt" (I was just checking to see if the thing was working at all.)

6. "prepare a sermon on lk 1.26-38"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (It doesn't recognize the same biblical reference inputs that work for the rest of Logos.)

7. "prepare a sermon on Luke 1:26-38"; Response: "Opening Sermon Starter Guide for Luke 1:26-38" (That worked at least.)

8. "prepare a sermon about the annunciation"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (It doesn't recognize pericope titles, even though the Sermon Starter Guide does.)

9. "prepare a sermon about Jesus' Birth"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (I thought I'd try some capitalization for the preaching theme. Alas, nothing.)

10. "prepare a sermon about the nativity"; Response: "I didn't understand that." (I tried that one in desperation. Again, no luck, even though typing 'nativity' in the Sermon Starter Guide brings up "The Nativity of the Messiah" Matthew 1:18-25)

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jul 15 2021 11:38 PM

My first try

If I try and get a failure, I prefer to figure out why rather than beating my head against a cement wall. In this particular case I note that I automatically went for "on" rather than "about" ... I suspect the Faithlife Assistant has not been taught that some people say "on", others say "about" .... that is simply a reason to ask for further development.

But rather than the posts in this thread, I would prefer that these posts made today be addressed:

BUG: Missing data in Bible Outline Browser Read View - Faithlife Forums (logos.com)

SUGGESTION: Expand/contract in Parallel Passages Guide section - Faithlife Forums (logos.com)

BUG: Library type across languages ... a flumfloxing discovery - Faithlife Forums (logos.com)

SUGGESTION: Upgrade the Textual Variants Guide section - Faithlife Forums (logos.com)

BUG: Resource missing in Ancient Versions of Textual Variants guide section - Faithlife Forums (logos.com)

I think that's a few too many issues to be raised while documenting one of the simplest passage guide sections.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 1188
Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 16 2021 12:02 AM

MJ. Smith:
I suspect the Faithlife Assistant has not been taught that some people say "on", others say "about" .... that is simply a reason to ask for further development.

I specifically used 'about' for the preaching theme because that was the command used in the wiki list of commands (the link you provide above).

You're supposed to be able to use both 'about' or 'on'. I used 'on' once above for biblical reference (the Luke passage) and it worked since that's what they did on the wiki with commands. I used 'about' for Debt (the example from the wiki) and it worked. It just didn't work for the topic/theme I actually want to study, even when I typed in an actual preaching theme from the list of preaching themes in the Sermon Starter Guide documentation.

This is not a syntax issue. This seems to be a data issue. The Assistant is not recognizing all of the data items that the rest of the software recognizes. If I can type in a particular preaching theme or pericope title or verse reference (in all its forms) in the Factbook or Guides, the Assistant should recognize the same inputs, but it frequently doesn't. If Jesus' Birth is a preaching theme, the Assistant should have opened a sermon starter guide for that theme.

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 16 2021 12:12 AM

MJ. Smith:
But rather than the posts in this thread, I would prefer that these posts made today be addressed:

Just to keep us on topic, this particular thread is about what people think about the Faithlife Assistant. Do they use it, is it helpful to them, is this a good candidate for removal or should it be kept and improved, etc.? If people see value in it conceptually but don't currently use it, what improvements would they like to see for it to actually be useful to them? Is it worth the effort or should Faithlife ditch it?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 16 2021 12:38 AM

Kiyah:
Just to keep us on topic, this particular thread

I am deliberately off-topic, trying to explain to you why I feel I've spent more than enough time showing that it does function and has a definite usefulness whether or not it is a feature of any use to you specifically. Nor do I feel any obligation spending time defending the accuracy of the user developed documentation (wiki) or the bug-level in the implementation. Why do I feel that way? Because of the series of non-functional issues I've run into in a single evening that are, to me, a far better use of FL developer's time to repair than to have them wasting time removing an incomplete feature that they will simply have to reimplement in the near future.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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