iBooks Author Update 2.0

Oct 23, 2012 by

WOW!

We had hoped for the option to do something with additional fonts in an upgrade to iBooks Author and Apple has delivered in version 2.0, which just was downloaded.  In our book project, There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse, our client wanted a specific font for their book, one which up until now, wasn’t available in iBooks Author.  That meant we built the book in Photoshop and then moved the .png files into iBooks Author.  Now, by switching back to straight text, we’re going to be able to make the file size of the document even smaller.

Next thing to check out, adding audio in the new update.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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Awaiting The iPad Mini

Oct 23, 2012 by

Here are some things we hope happen with the iPad“Mini” announcement today and why we think this is so important:

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Apple also will release a new version of iBooks Author to help make more books for the iPad and the smaller version, though we suspect that the resolution matter will be more of a one-size fits all aspect, updates to iBooks Author, to add new bells and whistles, new layout options and the ability to add social components to these books, would be a great addition.

We think that the release of the iPad “Mini” (we don’t know yet what Apple is going to call it) will help significantly advance the potential for schools to purchase the units and get the advanced form of books that we’re making at Claxton Creative into the hands of more students of all ages.  With a lower price point, the threshold for financially strapped public school districts across the world to introduce these units to their classrooms, and then buy electronic textbooks will save lots of money in the long run.

Those two aspects alone make the potential for today’s announcement very, very exciting.

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The Benghazi Attack–Will we ever know the truth?

Oct 19, 2012 by

I just read a CNN piece about the latest information about what’s going on with the Benghazi Attack investigation and it paints a pretty simple picture–if it’s known, no one is really telling the full story, and after having seen Argo today, we likely never will know the full story.

Seal of the C.I.A. - Central Intelligence Agen...

Seal of the C.I.A. – Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the Extras tracks in The Sum Of All Fears from 2002, one gets to hear Tom Clancy, the very well-respected spy novelist speculate at a point in the movie that our intelligence forces just aren’t capable of doing something that was suggested in the movie.  Either the technology doesn’t exist or it’s just that darned hard to find out what happened in a foreign country where you really can’t tell from looking at someone if they’re friend or foe.

Go back a few Clancy movies to The Hunt For Red October when one of the admirals tells Jack Ryan that things in a cubicle at Langley can seem fairly simple, but “out here, they can get a little dicey.”

I’m not making excuses or offering cover here.  I’d like to know why, for God’s sake, that someone didn’t think it was a good idea to have forces beefed up on the anniversary of 9/11.  That should be a standing order in the military and Foreign Services Offices from now until the Second Coming. On 9/11, we suit up. Just like it makes sense to be on guard here in the states on 9/11 and 4/20.  Crazy things happen on those days and nutjobs look forward to them. They plan on doing something rowdy.  And likewise, we should no longer be caught off guard, especially on those days.

But there also could just as likely be something going on here that we may never know about. If you will recall, Osama Bin Laden once was on our side and he turned into a modern day, real-life Darth Vader. The CIA, et al, may not be saying exactly what happened there because of something of the sort, or because they’ll give away something else that’s looming larger that will be jeopardized because of a leak.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that we probably won’t ever really know what’s going on with this.  Or maybe we will 30-40 years from now when someone makes a movie.

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Argo See This Movie!

Oct 19, 2012 by

No spoilers here, but you need to go see the movie Argo starring and directed by Ben Affleck.  Like at the next showing. It’s that good.

It was so cool to watch Ben Affleck walking into CIA headquarters at Langley again after his days there in the 2002 The Sum of All Fears.  This time, not as Jack Ryan, a fictitious field operative, but as Tony Mendez, the real deal.

A scene from the movie Argo.

The movie isn’t too long, nor too short. The characters, as you will see at the end of the film, really looked like the real-life people who endured the drama of being six Americans who were in Tehran when the Embassy was taken over and the Iranians didn’t know about.  Those were hard days we all endured at the end of the anemic days of the Carter Administration when there were yellow ribbons tied around everything.

Essentially, there were six people who got out that the Iranians didn’t find out about until it was almost too late. Where they hid out, if they made it out, and how, all are worth you going to explore on your own.

Some people got up and walked out during the credits. Don’t do that. That’s when you’ll see how good a job was done in casting. Of course, you’ll also notice, as the two African American ladies did behind me when they said, Mendez was Hispanic, that Ben Affleck, isn’t.  Supposedly he’s been criticized for that, but hey, this is Hollywood.

From the start of the movie, it FEELS like the late 1970s.  The clothing, even the incredibly ugly green wallpaper in the Canadian Ambassador’s home all feel like life did back in the day.

I predict this movie is going to win some good awards in Hollywood, but more importantly, it’s going to make you feel proud you’re an American again, because you’re going to see a story that likely would never have been told had it not been declassified during the Clinton years. But in a time when we all felt that America had been knocked down during the Carter years, it was good to see that we were able to still do something right.

I did find myself sneering a little bit as at the very end, former President Carter comes in during a voice over and talks about how we were able to peacefully get all of the other US hostages home safely.

As I recall the day that happened, Ronald Reagan got sworn in as president and the Iranians knew they’d better not mess with him and so the hostages came home.

And so, as someone who has seen the movie, I see the word Argo now, and I hear two other words along with it.  For now, I’ll just say, Argo see this movie….

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Apple iPad Mini Big Deal For Educational Publishers

Oct 18, 2012 by

As a publisher of multi-touch books for the iPad, the prospective release next week of the Apple iPad Mini is a big deal; particularly for those of us who see the potential for this incredible technology having a positive impact on education in America and around the world.  The iPad Mini, as it’s being unofficially called until it’s supposed announcement by Apple on Oct. 23, has the potential to expand the market reach into the educational arena.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And while some pundits are seeing this as a move by Apple to take on Amazon and it’s line of Kindles, such a viewpoint is really missing the bigger picture.

Essentially, this is a very strategic move to change how students of all ages learn around the world by making the platform to do it much more affordable. And while this may give Amazon a run, what it’s really going to do is make it easier to bring this technology to classrooms, which is where it trumps all the capabilities of the Kindle, Nook, Surface and  traditional textbook, and so much more.

The iPad Mini–The MacBook of iPads

Making the iPad Mini is much akin to Apple’s strategy for it’s laptop computers. There’s the MacBook and then there’s the newer, sleaker, faster, MacBook Pro, which constantly is updated, has the top of the line features and is the thing that everyone wants. The MacBook Pro has the retina screen. It has the fastest processors. It’s the newest technology packed into a laptop made by Apple and is supported by a HUGE R&D budget.

The MacBook is basically the technology of a few years ago wrapped in what used to be a white case. It’s not pushed for the latest developments. In a way, you could say it’s technology that’s already been amortized. In other words, it doesn’t cost a lot to produce this version of the product. All the R&D already has been spent on it (when it was in a MacBook Pro a few years before) and because there is no need to spend lots of resources keeping it up-to-date, it’s cheaper to produce and then sell at an ever increasing margin because it costs less and less by the day to manufacture and support it.

Without having seen an iPad Mini, it is assumed this is the same strategy that will be used to develop an iPad Mini. Already rumors abound that support this premise. The rumor mill has clearly been saying that the iPad Mini isn’t going to have a retina screen like the version 3 iPads that came out earlier this year. The screen will be smaller. The processors likely are going to be iPad 2ish in speed because that’s probably what’s going to make up the guts of the unit.

And because of all this, Apple is going to be able to sell them for a price point that starts lower than the iPad generation 3.  In other words, it is believed, and makes perfect sense, that the iPad Mini is about to become the MacBook of iPads.

HOW THIS HELPS PUBLIC EDUCATION

This is what is going to cause a boom in the field of educational technology. An old boss of mine and I were talking in June about what it would take to supply the 4 million public school students grades 3-12 in Texas with an iPad. At the $499 price point in a time of budget woes and the refusal to raise taxes of any form in Texas, that made the price tag almost seem ominous. And for the installation of an iPad into a public school classroom, a school district also has had to consider almost as much in costs for the infrastructure necessary to help them all talk to the Internet. That’s a steep price tag.

But what if the price of the units all of a sudden were significantly less and instead of running iPad 3 technology, there was a smaller unit available using a “MacBook” level of technology?

What if there was the iPad Mini?

This is how Apple makes it easier to expand the number of books, like the ones Claxton Creative, LLC makes with iBooks Author, into classrooms worldwide and do so at a much more cost-efficient rate for strapped school districts, while at the same time, making technology that isn’t available on the Kindle, Nook and one assumes, Microsoft Surface, available for broader use.

This means students will be able to use books that have 3-D images, muti-touch drawings and photos, hours of video files of real-life instructors teaching, in-chapter quizzes, etc., in short, things the competitive products CANNOT do, and they will be able to do it on a unit that doesn’t cost as much to produce, and doesn’t cost as much for school districts and parents to buy.

This means the opportunity exists to change how students learn because books made for the iPad also have the ability to ensure that a student has demonstrated proficiency in an area before being allowed to advance to a new area.  In a traditional school today, the idea is that a student’s knowledge base expands throughout the year and they learn a core competency and then move on to the next one. But what if that core isn’t really learned and understood by every student in the class? Does a teacher wait for those lagging behind to catch up and not keep advancing?

With the technology of the iPad, a student can be compelled to demonstrate their competency and understanding of a concept before being allowed to advance, thereby ensuring that learning has taken place. This can be done at a student’s own pace.  Remember, they can’t go on to the next thing until they’ve shown the iPad, and the teacher, they’re ready.  Now which system would you rather have your children learning with?

PUNDITS

So when you hear the pundits write/talk the next week or so about how this is a move to take on Amazon, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble in the sale of units, it’s only part of the picture.  Apple is after the education market where its competitors simply cannot play, and to us, that’s the most exciting thing about the iPad Mini.

 

 

 

 

 

MacBook v MacBook Pro

iBooks

Reduced Cost to Increase Role in Education

 

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Freedom from Conflict: Surrendering Reality

Oct 11, 2012 by

Our client, Preston Place Counseling, of North Dallas, continues its series today with what happens universally in children–they surrender their realities to the adults around them and accept things that are not the truth as truth, because their authorities have told them to do so. 

We encourage you to check out this important series of videos.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself.

 

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The Motel 6 Maya Calendar Commercial–Funny

Oct 8, 2012 by

The Motel 6 Maya calendar commercial presently running on radio across America is the latest mention of the ancient Maya calendar, and we have to admit, it’s pretty funny. If you’ve not heard it, here’s a transcript.  The YouTube video of it is below.

“Hi, Tom Bodett trying to make sense of this Mayan calendar. It seems to end Dec. 21st, 2012. That’s, unsettling. Oh well. Still plenty of time this year to stay at Motel Six and get a clean comfortable room for the lowest price of any national chain.  And we’re still taking reservations for after Dec. 21.  All due respect to the Mayans.  Sorry, King K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb. Nothing but love for ya.  I’m Tom Bodett for Motel 6 and we’ll leave the light on for ya.”

Of course, the Maya don’t predict the end of the world.  They made some predictions, but certainly not along the lines of what the Doom & Gloom crowd are sharing.  Kudos to Motel 6 for making light of it.  Now if they’d just leave an iPad with Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya exclusive book for the iPad next to the Gideon Bible we think they might have something!

 

 

 

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