Oi App Developers, not everyone has good eyesight!

The BBC has an article in their technology section talking about a new app which should be available in the future on iOS and Android devices. I’m all for Apps to make my life easier which is why I originally wrote A Simpler Guide to the best free Android Apps (my attempt at keeping track of the useful ones!)

The app on the BBC website is primarily designed for blind people so that they can type on touchscreen phones but the article mentions the designers hope that people with full sight will use it for when they want to type but are busy watching something at the same time. …teenagers in their maths lessons? Sorry cynicism kicking n.

Regular readers of my blog will know of my despair with app developers who assume everyone has 20/20 vision when designing their apps. Although the worst offenders, (Google+ app for example) have no way to increase the text size on their apps there are others who would get ‘could do better’ on their school reports. These are the developers who limit their text size options.

An example of a ‘could do better’ app is Docs to Go. I love this app, it is very useful, but it also has its problems. The designers in their infinite (*lack of) wisdom have decided to limit the text enlargement to 200%. I’m sorry, but that is just not good enough. I need bigger. If you have bothered to put the ability to enlarge text you should allow your customer to know what their vision needs are. There are so many types of sight problems and vision levels that you should design your apps so that they can be enlarged to an extent where one word fits the screen. There is probably a lot of people out there where even this extreme size would help.

My point for this article is that people with sight problems are customers too. There are a lot of people ageing out there and a lot of them with cash burning a hole in their pocket. By making your app difficult to use you are alienating a demographic with money to spend. I’m not a businessman but to me that just sounds silly.

Developers, pretty please, make your apps accessible…?

Republishing with KDP – Customers don’t automatically get changes.

I’ve had a few problems moving from one edition of my Gmail book to another. I didn’t want to delete the other one as it sold well and was highly ranked. I would have to start from scratch. I tried putting a message in the original book to people who already bought it offering them the new one. I was expecting them to refund the book and get the new one. Turns out they weren’t getting the changes!

The reason I didn’t want to keep the old edition because the name was wrong (my maiden name instead of married name) on the customer facing details. It was fine on the KDP admin side and I had contacted Amazon a few times, it seememd sorted but would revert after a while.

Anyway, turns out if you have made changes and republish your ebook, you need to send an email to Amazon asking them to send the new file to your customers.

Here’s an extract from the Amazon website explaining further. Customers can also request a later version of the same book to be sent to them.

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3-16 Do I have to re-buy or re-upload my book to get the updated copy I re-published? If you’ve already purchased your book and subsequently revise the content and re-publish the updated version, you don’t need to re-purchase the book to get a copy. At this time, it’s not possible for publishers to receive the updated file without contacting KDP Support for help. We’re working to automate this feature and appreciate your understanding with our existing solution to manually send the updated content to your device.

We request your explicit permission, and will do the same for any customers who contact us to receive the updated content, prior to sending the revised file because the new version will not have previously saved Highlights, Last Page Read, Bookmarks, and the location of notes may not match. If this is acceptable, please email [email protected] confirming your permission and which title/s you’d like to have re-sent. Thank you.

Note: Customers who purchased the old content can also contact our Customer Service department to have the new file delivered.
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I hope this helps.

Ceri

Why i love Android and can’t use iOS

image

I have to be honest every now and again I am influenced by the Apple advertising. I see shiny and new and like a magpie, I want.

The problem is I can’t use it. As frequent readers of my blog know, I cannot see very well. In fact I am partially sighted. I love writing and I bought my Galaxy Tab to write while I am travelling, during lunch breaks and after work. Every now and again we pass the Apple store and I am lured in, but playing with the device after only a minute reminds me why I cannot use an iPad. Sure there is the three finger tap but it’s basically a magnifying glass. I don’t want to move around the screen to read a page, that’s making do with second best. I want to have bigger icons natively. I want bigger menus and I want bigger fonts to the size I want them not what some designer has deemed big enough. My eyesight doesn’t change on the whim of a designer, the interface should be designed to allow choice. Text flow is an amazing but achievable thing!

I am not saying Android is perfect, far from it. I am constantly frustrated with Google’s own spps. They appear to believe that everyone has eagle eyesight. However there are third party suppliers that can take advantage of the openess to make it easier on us souls with poorer sight.

ADW is such an app. I couldn’t use android without it. As you can see from the photo, I have large icons, widgets and folders.

It is very customisable. You csn enlarge icons text size, the behaviour of the application drawer snd home screens. In fact of all the launchers I have tried it is the best – no contest.

Along with Spare Parts this app makes Android usable. I recommend these apps for anyone who is visually challenged like me.

Samsung Galaxy Tab for Writing

I’ve recently bought the Galaxy Tab 10.1. I primarily bought this as a reading device but I wanted something that wasn’t too heavy but which I could write on.

Hardware:

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (running Android with ADW)
    Samsung bluetooth keyboard case (the official one)

I can’t praise the tablet enough. I wanted something that was flexible, with a good battery life and which was light enough to carry oround. I usually charge the tablet every couple of days and I am an intensive user!

The tablet is light and if don’t want to use the keyboard for any reason I can hold it one-handed for a loooooonnnng time. 😉

The keyboard is also just what I need. It isn’t noisy and while it is heavier than a rubberised bluetooth keyboard it is nicer to use. It feels like a quality product and has all the features I need.

Software

The tablet comes with Polaris Office. This is amazing. I am using it to write the second book in the Elerian Chronicles (Elementi).

I save it as an Office document format and back it up to my Skydrive using Sorami. I know with Docs to Go I can back it up to Google (I also have this)  but I rather use Skydrive for my writing. I do find it frustratng that you can only back up files to Box.net with Polaris but I hope this will improve with time. May be they will do some sort of sync option?

For those who are short sighted like me, you can increase the font on Polaris to 200%! Simply reflow the text and you can edit in comfort.

Of course the question now is do I really need a laptop now my Samsung is so good?

Time will tell…

Ways to read ebooks on your computer (PC or Mac) – for when you don’t have a Kindle or iPad

Having recently done a Member Giveaway of  my ebook, Children of the Elementi, I sent emails with the book attached in the Kindle and epub formats. I was surprised that not everyone knew about Kindle for PC or Mac, so I thought I would do a brief post about the various ways to read an ebook on your computer.

Kindle Apps

The best software for reading Mobi files is always going to be using the Kindle software but there are several different versions.

Go to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (whichever is appropriate) and click on Kindle on the left navigation bar. Choose Free Kindle Reading Apps. A page will load which will give you the option to download the app for your PC or Mac. Download and enjoy.

The advantage of using the Kindle Apps is that if you read books on your phone using Kindle but then read a little on your computer, if you bought the book from Amazon then it will synchronise how for you’ve got. This means you don’t have to mess with bookmarks, the software just opens at the point where you stopped reading previously. Brilliant.

You can read Mobis and PDFs using this.

Calibre

Calibre ebook software is not just a way to manage your ebooks, it also contain an ereader. You can pretty much read all file formats using this software. Its multipurpose.

Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Digital Editions

With Acrobat you can read PDFs and with Adobe Digital Editions  you can read Epubs and PDFs.

You CAN have the benefits of ebooks without ereader devices!

Please note: There are other ebook readers but these are the best in my opinion. This is not an exhaustive list. If you would like to find out more type ereaders into Google. 🙂

EVE ONLINE – Micro-transactions, how they could work

Jita Protests

Jita Protests
Jita protests yesterday at the new Incarna implementation
We all know the recent EVE Online controversy is not just about microtransactions. It’s not only the feeling that the players are already paying €15 a month, so paying more is a bit much, but the attitude revealed in leaked internal emails that the players will act up whatever CCP will do has enraged the lifeblood of the game – the people who cough up monthly. They’ve got people to buy into EVE Online on one principle and are changing the very philosophy of the way it works without consultation.

So after my last post I began to think about the problem. Yes, the micropayments are more macro than micro but they could take a leaf out of other ‘games’ endeavours.

Take Second Life for example and I know that one is free. There is a thriving market of people designing clothes and in some cases people are charging top dollar for these items. The difference is that it’s the ‘players’ who are making profits as well as the ‘game’. Second Life take a cut and everyone is happy. The value of having thousands of people designing means that the environment is enriched with far more creativitiy than the game makers could get with employees.

Of course this would only work with items which couldn’t affect gameplay. Allowing people to create guns and ships would of course not work. At the moment CCP just looks greedy. Opening up so that the players benefit along with CCP would benefit both sides.

I think that could work – what do you think?

EVE Online Controversy – the peasants are revolting

Jita Protests

Jita Protests
Jita protests at new Incarna
I have a confession to make. I have a character in EVE. a couple in fact. Yes, I am officially a geek. So it was with horror (and a pint of cider in me) that I found out about the controversy.

For those not familiar with the now infamous EVE, it is a massively multiplayer online game. There is a subscription which means I play sporadically. The fee is a not insubstantial €15 a month.

In the game I am Squeaka, a proud Amarr warrior, slash miner, slash engineer. Ok I’m a bit career schizophrenic I couldn’t work out what job I wanted to concentrate on, (sounds a bit like real life unfortunately). The career decision I mean not the miner/warrior obviously.

So to the controversy. EVE has decided to open a shop which currently sells clothing for the avatars. Now I know what you are thinking what is all the fuss about a monocle or a sexy pair of jeans or two? Well the micropayment for the monocle is around $70, which is not micro by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, if you are like me you don’t really care what your character looks like, I’d settle for a dustbin outfit as long as she is just a little bit pretty. Well it is the principle of the thing that has got people all hot under the collar. Well that and the rude internal email that was leaked.

Basically people are worried that more than just clothes will be offered for sale, that ships and weapons will be next on the list. Curently to earn enough to buy such items means hours of gameplay and dedication, I am ashamed to say, I have a couple of battleships, one Amarr and one Gallente, work out my overall sadness rating from that.

These take months to earn, doing mission after mission, mining, researching, murder mayhem, that sort of thing. If you can simply buy one of these ships from the store then it throws the ecosystem out of the window. It suddenly comes down to how much money you have not how much effort you put into the game and that just isn’t fair.

So what is happening? Well, people are unsubscribing in their droves but what is more interesting and quite funny is that there are subversive freedom fighters in the game who are sticking it out and protesting for their characters right to slave away in the mines. Yes, they are rioting. Login and pop into Jita and you will find hundreds of people attacking monuments. If they could do graffiti they would. On 12:08am on 26 June 2011. at the time of writing, there were 1480 rioters.
“tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!” …Braveheart

OK rant over.

Happy gaming everybody!