Tag Archives: Apple

Technological nightmares and extra work

I’ve been working on my storyboards in drips and drabs. Right now I have six in various stages of completion, and some are nearly complete.

There are two stand alone novels, the finale of the Lanternfish trilogy, and three future stories for Lizzie and the hat. I was feeling pretty good about the process. That’s when everything started failing.

The app I’ve been using is called Pinnic. It randomly erased one of my ledger cards. I tried opening and closing, even a reboot. That’s when I discovered another board had the same thing happen to it. Then it started throwing out a random index card that could not be edited or deleted. It also covered another card I would really like to read.

What happens is these developers stop updating their apps. It’s happened before. I used to use an app I really liked, but the developers stopped updating and eventually it became unusable. This one was so long ago that I don’t even remember its name. That’s when I switched to Corkulous Pro.

Corkulous Pro also went the way of the dinosaurs and I downloaded Pinnic. They haven’t had an update for a long time, but Apple has had many. You can see where this is going.

Lo and behold, a new developer bought Corkulous Pro about a year ago and resurrected it. It became a subscription based app. It’s like $1.99 per month, but half that for a year at a time. In theory, this is to allow them to keep it updated and trot out some new features on occasion.

Oddly enough, they refuse to tell you what the subscription fee will be in the App Store. I would kind of like that data prior to committing and it seems like the ethical thing to do. I even tried googling it to no avail.

Ultimately, I decided to download the free app and hoped to learn what the fee was. This worked, but I thought it might just be a blank check of some kind.

Something is lost and hopefully something is gained. I had a bunch of old storyboards on Pinnic that will be abandoned. I really don’t need them for books that have been published, but things like Yak Guy, Serang, and Grinders were in there. I see no reason to recreate them now.

I spent part of last night and all of this morning recreating the next six storyboards by hand in Corkulous. The split-screen feature in my iPad helped, but I was using two different apps with different controlling actions to accomplish that. There were many times I used action A on app B and it slowed down the process.

None of this involved a drag & drop, or a copy & paste, because they are different apps. It involved retyping everything I had.

I always got along well with Corkulous. There were features in other apps that it does not have. It has features the others don’t. Honestly, I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Give me some index cards, a few sticky notes, and I’m golden. It will allow me to attach images and I like to do that on occasion. My old images were sacrificed, but I may spend some time dropping a few into the new boards.

The downside is losing the time. I was supposed to be reading the next Lanternfish on an editing pass. I still haven’t started that task. Maybe tonight or tomorrow.

On the plus side, I have six storyboards that are pretty close to ready. I may have an app they will keep updated to the new operating systems. Does anyone else have problems like this, or am I the only one who uses apps when I create things?

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I’m so happy about this

Apple recently split out iOS, making one for phones and a slightly different one for iPads. Like a good gadget zombie, I dutifully updated everything.

This is followed by the rash of apps that need to be updated. Check that box off.

I do everything on my big iPad Pro. I bought one of the original ones, because I wanted to be able to open more than one window at a time. It works great, but it was limited to different programs.

This is why I lamented my old iPad’s inability to handle the new operating systems. I used to take redlines of my critique sections, open them on the old iPad, then edit on the iPad Pro. Worked great.

The last few rounds, I’ve been opening the redline on my phone and “getting by” that way.

However, the new updates provided something wonderful. I can now open two Apple Pages documents side-by-side. With the big screen on the Pro, it works wonderfully for my purposes.

I made this image as an example for this post. Imagine the Viral Blues side being my work in progress, the Lanternfish side being a redline markup of the latest critique I received. I’m excited, let me tell you.

Rumor is that it works on other gadgets, too. I can’t imagine trying to use this on a phone, but if that shakes your booty, apparently it works there, too.

It still works with different programs, and there are times when I use the slider in the middle to make the right side narrow, then leave a Google search open. Thesaurus.com, maps, you get the idea. The ability to have two documents is a game changer for me.

I may be the only person out there who writes on Apple Pages (with an iPad), but if you’re one of us, you might find this helpful.

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Filed under Writing

A Doubt filled weekend

Doubt

Yesterday involved a bunch of problems, sponsored by WordPress and Apple.

Apple’s iOS had a bug that hit some users, but not others. It forces a symbol replacement for a capital I when you type. I googled how to fix it, and they suggested a kind of macro that tells the computer when you type “I” what you really mean for it to do is type friggin “I”. It didn’t work.

A different website promised a repair was coming soon from Apple, so I checked. The update was already available, and fixed everything.

The second issue came from WordPress. It seems they’ve driven away all the decent blogging apps, and I’ve been using the actual WordPress app. One of the good things about it was the way it handled pictures. That all changed.

I used to be able to size, move, and tag photos. Today that’s all limited. For instance, if I tell it to move the raven to the left, that’s no problem. However; now it will no longer allow me to type beside it. The image insists upon taking up the entire area. That’s why the photo is centered above on today’s post.

I used to have two options for tagging images, but today I only have one. I can schedule the post, then edit it inside WordPress, but it worked well two days ago.

The other thing it’s doing now is randomly changing the pitch of my type. All is well if I just keep going, but if I go back to make a correction, all the future words want to be in some kind of micro-text. I have to delete my last good letter, then retype from there to get it right.

None of the WordPress issues are major, but it worked fine a couple of days ago. They need to address this, and while they’re at it,would it be too much to ask if I wanted to actually center some text, and change the pitch of my letters inside the app? As an example, I will add a section break below this paragraph. I will have to left justify it, post it, then edit it inside the WordPress Admin function to make it look right.

***

I went to the writing cabin around nine o’clock this morning. I spent yesterday working through The Hat and some suggestions I received. It really is looking good right now.

I plucked the hat from my desk and dropped him on my head. He was configured as a grey fedora, his preferred look. I opened the window, and gestured outside to Doubt, the raven. “I don’t think we need you for this one.”

It was an odd feeling. I have doubts about all my stories, but this time I feel great about one.

The hat said, “Go catch mice or something. Craig and I got this covered.”

Doubt glared at us like we brought his daughter home late.

“Go on, buddy. We don’t need you. In fact, Craig and I are ready to publish,” the hat said.

“Well, not exactly. Lisa is still with Sean Harrington, and we need her promotional posters. We may not have those until the end of the year.”

“So, what are we supposed to work on today?”

“I received feedback on The Yak Guy Project from a dear friend. I thought we might work our way through that.”

“What’s that got to do with the old hat?”

“Nothing really. I thought you might like to read over my shoulder. Lisa isn’t here, and maybe you have some suggestions.”

“You’re probably smart to come to me. Besides, I wasn’t doin’ anything anyway.”

I turned on my computer, and sat up an iPad beside it for the redline copy of my book.

“So, that Internet has the corrections, and the other Internet has the actual book? Is that the deal?” The hat asked.

“They’re two different devices, but they work on the Internet.”

“That’s what I said.”

“It’s, well it’s like… Yeah, we can check the suggestions on one, and make any changes on the other one.”

“Sounds like a good plan.”

I scrolled down the redline to the first suggestion.

“Slow down. Still reading here,” the hat said.

“Sorry.” I pondered the first suggestion and looked across the room.

Doubt lowered his head into what I call his classic vulture pose. “Kaaaaw, ha, ha, ha.”

“Oh, shit! Why couldn’t you just leave while I felt good about The Hat”

“Kaaw.”

“Hey, Yak Guy is kind of a dork. I gotta tell you, Lizzie has her shit together a lot more than this guy,” the hat said.

“Yeah, they’re different stories. In The Hat, Lizzie is supposed to be a go-getter who needs a bit of direction–”

“Your’s truly.”

“Exactly. Yak Guy needs a major overhaul in his life. Where you are more of Lizzie’s partner, Yak Guy needs a mentor.”

“Man I feel sorry for that guy.”

“He’s a yak.”

“How can a yak be a mentor?”

“How can a hat be a partner?”

“Touché. I’ll just go with it.”

“Thank you.”

***

Between the evil glances and croaking of Doubt, and trying to explain everything to the hat, it was a long day. The book, The Hat, is nearly ready to go. I’m expecting to hear from one more reader, and need some artwork.

The Yak Guy Project keeps waffling from deleting it entirely, making it into a trunk novel, self publishing it, or submitting it to an actual publisher. I kind of need to narrow the distance between those bookends somehow. This weekend is in the books, so I don’t have to decide anything today. I need to get on with it though.

How about some covers. Everyone loves covers, right?

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Agony and Ecstasy

I'll start off with the bad stuff first. I like to close on a good note.

I haven't been around as much lately, and this is because of a WordPress/Apple problem. I'm blaming Apple, but who really knows. I'm posting this in hopes that one of the WordPress gurus will read it and offer some clarity.

I read blogs using the WordPress Reader and the Safari browser. I have options, and thank God for that. My preferred gadget is my iPad Pro. I also kept my old iPad, and it works normally. Yesterday, most of WordPress stopped working for iPads.

I can still log in, and read my own blog. I still get comments, and interaction. The link to look at stats produces a white screen, and the link to Reader does the same. This could be an iOS problem.

When I try my iPhone I don't have any problems. This also works on iOS. What the hell does that mean? I cleared the caches on both iPads and rebooted them – no help.

I tried the WordPress app (which I hate) and can read posts and comment from there. This is also an iOS product.

I tried the Mac, and everything is perfect there.

Using an iPad, I can still get to my WP Admin and upload images. Somewhere in this post I'll see if that works or not. I write my posts with an app called Blogsy, because it's easier. It seems to work, but I have something pre-scheduled tomorrow and am nervous about it loading now. Hell, I'm nervous about this post loading too.

These things drive me crazy, and surfing for answers doesn't help. I get top choices from questions asked six years ago. This is a today thing Google!!! Moving on…

I pulled on my editing jacket and managed to work through two short stories today. This is only the first pass, and I have several others to make.

I'm tempted to leave the jacket on as I fight with iOS and WordPress.

My number one goal was to finish reading Wings of Mayhem, by Sue Coletta. This I accomplished, but it worked kind of like this.

Open my Kindle app. Let Otto, the puppy outside.

Make coffee, let Otto inside.

Read a chapter, rescue the dirty laundry from Otto.

Microwave my cold coffee, let Otto outside.

Read a chapter, let Otto inside.

Read a chapter, rescue my foot from Otto's jaws.

Read a chapter, find Otto in my closet eating my shoes.

Read a chapter, walk the dog, repeat until the end.

I really enjoyed Sue's first book, Marred, but Wings of Mayhem is the best book I've read this year (so far). I gave her a five star review, and wished there was an extra star to award.

This never has been a book review blog so I'll stop here. Check out Wings of Mayhem yourselves.

I also sent off a list of desires for the cover of The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. I paid in advance and ordered four more pinup pieces. Some are for book promotion, and some are for other purposes. Fans of Lisa can watch this space, or host me when I'm ready to tour the new Notebook around and you can share the artwork on your own blogs. These will be pieces loosely related to one of the stories in the book.

I'm still toying with the idea of paying someone else to format this one. I could do it, but it seems like a reasonable thing to farm out. I scoped out Jo Robinson's services and they seem pretty reasonable. I have to finish editing and get some beta feedback before I decide. It should be finished before I send it out.

So ending on a high note; I did a small amount of editing, I have new cover art on the way, and I finished reading a great book.

Now that I have a few minutes to pay attention, Otto is sound asleep. I posted a video to the Facebook page of him in his new wading pool if you are interested.

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Filed under Writing

It’s here! Kind of

I'm writing this on Veteran's day, but scheduling it for Thursday. I still have a fairly active post about my promotional efforts and want to leave it on top over night.

My parents promised me an iPad Pro for my birthday. My birthday didn't exactly coincide with Apple's release plans, but they finally came through.

I watched the rumor mill for weeks. Apple vaguely said, “November.” The first rumor was for November 3rd, followed by the 6th. A fresh rumor said the 11th, then the 13th. Then it could be ordered on the 11th, but delivered on the 13th.

These posts were followed by a rash of comments that embarrassed all of humanity. All the commenters bashed iPad Pro as if they'd already used one. Everyone said it was a Microsoft Surface clone, or a Surface for posers. Some asked how Microsoft dared to call it a Pro, because it wouldn't run programs designed for a PC.

A few brave souls suggested that Pro might include other occupations than the narrow scope of the first commenter.

This thing has peripherals that include a keyboard case. This keyboard links directly to the Pro, and doesn't require Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a huge battery sucker, and I like the idea. It also has an optional Pencil device. This is a stylus that looks absolutely wonderful. It comes with a bunch of options like Highlighter and various other tools. It works inside various apps.

As far as the Pro designation goes, I can see a football coach drawing Xs and Os for plays right on the sidelines. I can also see the value to an author. Maybe it isn't suitable for AutoCad, but there are some folks who are really going to enjoy it.

I may never produce my own cover art, but I like to play around. Maybe I could send a rough sketch to a real cover artist to illustrate what I want. I can see an electronic Highlighter being handy too. It might even be useful for critiques. I'm sure more apps will be along soon with Pencil support.

I marched my butt down to the Apple Store today to place my order. I wanted to pick it up from them and have them transfer all my data.

To my surprise, it wasn't available for pre-order, it was available right now. I checked out the colors, and chose one in Space Grey. They got me out the door in about one hour. My novels took a lot of time to download.

Sadly, the peripherals aren't there today. I downloaded the Apple Store app and ordered them when I got home. I don't need anyone to help set up the peripherals. I've been fiddling with it ever since I got home.

I like the updated internal keyboard. It's nice to have numbers available without having to shift. I can see using the physical keyboard more, but today it's nice. I'm writing this post with it.

The visuals and audio are awesome. This bugger is fast too. It is surprisingly light being nearly twice as big as my other iPad. It's a bit slippery without a cover, but that will change soon.

I like the split screen option too. I can write in one window, and Google in another. I could make notes in a different app while writing. (Even by hand when the Pencil arrives.) The split is either 50/50 or something like 70/30. I like the 70/30 option. When I drag it completely away, I can drag it right back without losing my place.

I wrote about a bit of micro-fiction that came to me recently. This one involved magpies. I created this screenshot to show you what I'm talking about.

The writing window is on the left, and Bing is on the right.

I'd love to have the Pencil right now. Maybe I'd mark up some of those telling sentences and update the draft.

Im pretty excited about my new tool. Thanks Mom & Dad!

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A day, in which I don’t like things

If you aren’t into tantrums, here’s your opportunity to skip this post. We will still be friends.

I am not a patient guy, but I try. One of the things I do is give things time before making a judgment. I still have to force myself, but I’m improving.

After much deliberation, and a reasonable amount of time, I don’t like the new and improved WordPress.

I still think it’s the best blogging platform out there, but they’ve certainly made it less user friendly for those who blog. Here are my examples:

  • I can’t stand the new and improved stats display. It looks like bad chibi anime to me. I vote every single time I check stats, but apparently it was to placate serious users with no real value behind it. I’ve been clicking to display the old stats page, but now they forced me to swipe through all the new displays to the bottom before I can see any stats that make sense. It has the feeling of a close out sale. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”
  • I am pretty disappointed that I can no longer open a page of my comments, likes, and follows. I am getting a lot of action these days, and the scroll thingie doesn’t work all that well. I would be mortified if I couldn’t acknowledge someone’s comment, and am afraid I might have missed one or two.
  • None of the changes work well with iOS. I’m sure there aren’t many Apple fans out there, so why bother. (Rolls eyes.) When I try to respond to a comment, the display actually jerks around, and I wind up hitting the wrong button half the time. The send button isn’t reliable when I do manage to hit it.
  • I know it’s old now, but I don’t like the new post “beep beep boop” version either. I always click through to the older one, but wonder how long that will remain. Even it doesn’t like iOS very well. I write most of my posts in Pages these days, and paste them into the new post.
  • I want the link option to work every single time. Two thirds of the time, when I highlight a section, the link option greys out. I have to choose a different word to highlight until the link option is available. ( Three or four times, minimum.) Only then can I make the link I originally wanted.
  • I want the ability to include a picture when using my iPhone. I usually write these on my iPad, but sometimes it isn’t available. The entire iPhone version is frustrating.

I feel like a hacker whenever I use WordPress these days. Nearly everything is becoming a work around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going anywhere, but I feel like WordPress developers ought to actually use the software on various platforms before they release it to the masses.

I loved BlogPad Pro, but they decided not to update it when iOS 8 came out. It has a bug now that allows me to type faster than it can think. I’m not a fast typist.

Do any of you know of a reliable app that does WordPress better than WordPress?

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Filed under Blogging

iOS H8te

Yeah, I wrote the title that way on purpose. It’s supposed to be clever.

Today’s post is intended to provide a place for iOS users to commiserate about the new operating system, and possibly offer some hints if you have any. Let’s hear them, God knows we need them.

I spent most of two nights ago watching my iPad and iPhone fail at getting the latest operating system. I wound up checking the internet for a solution. I had to hook up to the Mac (which also needed an update) and go through the iTunes store.

I finally got everything up and running, but my initial opinion is this iSucks. My photos are scattered from Hell to breakfast now, with no obvious way to change things around. They are organized by date, or location. Then there’s an option of seeing them pinned onto a map based on where the photo was taken or downloaded. That’s about as handy as a chapped ass. What if I want to organize by topic; cover art, sourdough photos, etc.?

Someone online suggested making folders and organizing things the way I like them. Great idea.

I grab artwork off the internet. Some of it gets pinned to my outlines, some of it becomes wallpaper on my phone that I change every day, then I delete it never to be used again. It varies from science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal, to quite a few pinups. (the painted kind, not the photo kind.) I made an artwork folder on my iPad and dragged everything into it. Everything is duplicated not moved. Delete one = delete both.

The sales pitch was that iCloud syncs everything up really well now. This morning I tried to change my phone background. No artwork folder, it’s only on the iPad. Looks like iCloud isn’t delivering on its promise.

I went to my RSS reader, Feeddler Pro. Every page I open crashes the app. I finally read a couple archaeology articles and two comics by telling it to open the pages in my Safari browser. I decided to look for an update to Feeddler. This was app of the year or something last year. The app store says it no longer exists – at all.

The app store found a little used app and said it has an upgrade available. What the iHell? I told it to upgrade. It said we can no longer find this app in the iTunes store. This is the same system that told me to upgrade the stupid thing. I tried it a day later and it upgraded. Color me iConfused.

The new iOS says I can send an audio text now. All I have to do is hold down the microphone icon and speak. I tried it out on my wife. I entered her contact information, and the microphone icon disappeared. Not an option. (We both have iPhones and upgraded software.) I tried the microphone icon on the keyboard. It produced a wonderful speech to text, but no audio text.

Worst of all is WordPress in the Safari Browser. I use the Reader to read all of your blogs. Keep in mind that I am frequently away from my computer, and I sleep sometimes too. When I wake up, I may have eight to ten hours of blogs to catch up on. Bedtime for me could be breakfast time for some of the blogs I read. (Ali in Ireland, Jo in South Africa, etc.) We aren’t all on Mountain Daylight time here.

When I open a post it always does so in a new page, and I like that. When I close that page now, my WordPress Reader is a sheet of grey. I have to hit refresh to get it back. That means I start at the top and read southward all over again. I have a temporary work around, in that if I’m really quick, I can open a post and immediately return to reader. I can’t read the post until later, so I open a few dozen posts and finish with Reader. I can read each post after that and close the page when I’m finished. Then I only have to croak and restart Reader once.

This gives me an idea. Sorry for the aside. Reader ought to have a filtering option. I could scroll through it and tag all the posts I want to read. Filter everything down and let me read the entire post in filtered view. Sorry, back to my tantrum…

I use Blogpad Pro for my posts. I really like it, but they posted two days ago that it has glitches with iOS 8. They expected an upgrade soon. I give them credit for warning me, and am certain they’ll do just what they said.

Apple always has an update out relatively soon after release. I really hope they address some of these issues. It sounds like the app store has some problems going on too.

On the plus side, if I connect my phone to power, I can say “Hey Siri” and ask her some useless question. Might be cool in the car, but it has to be connected to power. Yay, that works just as advertised. (worthless, but it works.)

How about you guys? Are any of you Apple users having any problems? Call them out in the comments, and offer solutions if you have any.

Update: I sent an email off to Feeddler. They have a Feeddler Pro 2 under consideration in the app store right now. This one should work with iOS 8. Nice folks, quick answer back for a $4 consumer.

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Filed under Blogging, Uncategorized

Learning about formats

When I made the decision to self publish my books, I knew I’d have to go here someday. I went to Amazon, and they provide several free books, but none of them go where I need to go.

It seems I made the mistake of buying a Mac, and using the Pages program to write my stories. Don’t get me wrong, I like all my Apple products, but the rest of the world seems to have a problem with them. Most of the books are based around Microsoft Word.

I found a book called, “How to Format a Kindle Book on a Mac with iWork Pages.” I’m not finished with it yet, but it’s been pretty helpful.

I’m going to work my way through this, one novel at a time. I made several amateur mistakes, and I’ll have to pay for those one line at a time. I’m willing to do this, because I really like these stories. So far, doing things like turning off the page numbers has been easy.

It’s also good to read some of my work from prior years. I need to do more editing to make them worthy of readers. I am, again, willing to do the work.

I just learned of a November editing workshop in my home town. I signed up, and assume this will make my work even stronger.

I really want to start outlining another story, but putting this work off isn’t going to get me anywhere. You can bet I’ll change the format I write in for the next story. I can copy chunks for my critique group and change the spacing for them with ease.

Tomorrow is a holiday in the US. I expect to get some serious writerly work accomplished.

I know some of you have already walked this path, I see your tracks in the mud. What bits of advice can you give a newbie at formatting works for Amazon? I’ll tackle other platforms later.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing