Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit

Oct 14, 2013 by

Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit 

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, I had the privilege of presenting during the Austin and San Antonio Chapter ASTD conference entitled the Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit.

The focus was on mobile learning and the technologies that make it all work.

My presentation, after more than 20 months of use of iBooks Author and building eBooks as well, was about eBooks and Books For iPad: what one can do with them and how to make them.

A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox. If you have an iPad, you’ll need to download the file first to your computer and then load it into iTunes before syncing it to your iPad.  (And of course, you must be running at least iOS 5.1 and have iBooks 3.)

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Even I was amazed at some of the presentations and developments taking place in the world of mobile apps and technologies. It’s inspiring to see some things that we only could have dreamed about a few years ago are quickly coming to fruition and even are already behind the curve, even though they’re likely still very much ahead of most.

George Saltsman from Abilene Christian University, who helped lead us into the development of books for iPad also spoke about changes that are coming in the pedagogy of education, while Dr. Robbie Melton from the University of Tennessee’s Board Regents showed off some amazing new gadgets and apps that are changing the workforce around the world.

FROM MY PRESENTATION, you will see a discussion about many of the amazing widgets and products we’ve built for books for iPad and a healthy discussion about whether or not we should even continue to call these products “books.” Also discussed are some of the variations and differences in this emerging field of technology, like the difference between EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 and what those two things mean to someone trying to decide on an eReader or an author trying to figure out which platform they should be publishing their materials on.

After my presentation, I was flooded with requests for more information, business cards and LinkedIn requests.

If you have any questions about how to make an eBook in EPUB or an interactive book for the iPad using 3D animations, movies, interactive timelines, puzzles and more, please reach out and let me know.

 

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The Essence of File Management In A Terabyte World

May 19, 2013 by

The Essence of File Management In A Terabyte World

In a few years, I’m sure people will look back on this 2013 post and laugh–I’m struggling with file maintenance on my Mac and running out of Gigabytes and now even Terabytes. Where do we go from here? Petabytes.

The ever complex problem of file management in a digital world. From kilobyte, to megabyte, to gigabyte, to terabyte and soon, the petabyte.

The ever complex problem of file management in a digital world. From kilobyte, to megabyte, to gigabyte, to terabyte and soon, the petabyte.

While this may seem like a fairly trivial First World issue, it’s a rapidly expanding problem that computer manufacturing companies don’t seem to be addressing fast enough. Yes, Apple’s iMacs now come with a 1 TB drive, but as I’ve found in the world of HD video editing, a terabyte doesn’t last very long.  And a gigabyte? Yeah, well there are 1,000 gigabytes in a terabyte…

For those of you who don’t understand what I’m talking about, there’s a progression in the size of hard drives. Back in the late 80s, when Macs were first getting going, I remember floppy disks that had 512 kilobytes on them. That was considered a lot.  Then we progressed to megabytes. As Moore’s law was proven more and more correct and the need for more and more storage came about came the gigabyte in the late 2000s. As we’ve escalated the need to store data up to 2013 with the proliferation of HD video, expanding iTunes libraries and storage of photos in things like iPhoto and Aperture libraries, demand for space continues to grow and at a rapid rate. The thing to have now is at least a terabyte of storage.

But most computers these days aren’t coming with hard drives that have anything more than a terabyte. This MacBook Pro, bought in March of 2012, had 750 GBs on it. I’m down to about 284 GBs left and that’s freaking me out because that means I’ve used almost 500 GBs and eventually, I’m going to run out. I’ve only had this machine for 15 months!

The solution then comes with external hard drives and the Cloud.  I’ve been a user of Dropbox for some time, but when I store something in Dropbox, it also lives in the hard drive of my Mac, so if I took the 60.6 percent of the 222 GBs I have over there off my Mac, I’m only going to get back about 100 GBs. My iTunes library now is about 300 GBs. My primary Aperture photo library is almost 700 GBs.

I have two external hard drives I use regularly on my Mac now. One stores the Aperture library, the other iTunes.  I have desktop hard drives that store video, do Time Machine back ups and then a smaller drive I use for archiving.

And while the day after I just bought that new 2 TB external drive to attach to this Mac, I have only about 3.5 TBs of available space right now before I need to buy another external unit.  As funny as it may sound, that makes me squirm because I know it’s not going to last long.  Combined, I have enough storage space for about 7.75 GBs. That means I’ve used about 60 percent of available space.

Yesterday, a fellow dad blogger recommended a new Cloud storage site called Bitcasa. For either $10 a month or $99 per year, they’re offering unlimited lifetime storage space. What I am not sure about yet is if I have things here on my laptop like I do with Dropbox, am I going to be taking up disc space in both places? Meaning, if I loaded 100 GBs of space to Bitcasa and I can see access to it on my Mac, am I going to be down another 100 GBs here on the Mac, too.  And that’s where my problem lies. If I could put all 4.5 GBs of stuff I have out on Bitcasa and it not try to replicate or drain space here on the Mac, that’d be swell.

Otherwise, it’ll be time to get something more than a 2 TB hard drive before too much longer.

Next, the Petabyte — or 1,000 Terabytes. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to take very long to get there…..

 

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Congratulations Apple on iTunes U 1 billion downloads

Feb 28, 2013 by

Congratulations Apple on iTunes U 1 billion downloads!iTunesU

At Claxton Creative, we’ve been working to generate content for iTunes U for our clients and studying ways to enhance this ever-expanding form of e-Learning.

Classes on iTunes U are free. That drives some learned professors mad as they don’t understand the revenue model shift. Usually, people pay the school for a seat in a class and class numbers are limited and then there is the sale of recommended books and all.

With iTunes U, that model is changing and let’s just be fair to say there are some in academia who have resisted the shift to this revenue model. That’s probably putting it mildly.

How does a professor make money doing an iTunes U course?  They have an interactive book, preferably one we’ve helped them make for iPad and they use it as the resource for the class. To take the class, a student needs the book for iPad, which can be bought seamlessly through the Apple iBookstore. The more people who take the class, the more who need the book for iPad. Simple formula.  No standing in long lines to register for a class. No meeting with your counselor.  Easy.

It’s also this form of delivery that’s changing the overall method of teaching, and we’ve talked about that before much here on ClaxtonCreative.com. For teachers who do not yet understand, the traditional stand and deliver model of teaching is fast becoming a thing of the past. Self-paced learning, user-centered-learning, are new terms that are catching on in use and meaning.

At Claxton Creative, we are a part of this move to change the educational system for the better and for the future. This is the learning of tomorrow already happening today.

Are you a professor with a tome you need converted to a book for iPad, complete with video, interactive maps, charts and graphs? What if you could have your students using your book and not being able to advance to the next chapter sequence until they have demonstrated mastery?  Yeah, that’s what we can help you make a reality.  And who benefits from that? Your students, and ultimately, your wallet.

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What Apple Didn’t Say About Changes From iBooks Author Version 1 Series

Dec 5, 2012 by

What Apple Didn’t Tell Us About Changes From iBooks Author Version 1 Series

We published our book for iPad 21012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya by Dr. Mark Van Stone on Aug. 23, 2012 using the 1.0 version series of iBooks Author. The book cleared through Apple’s approval process in a day or two and was up on the iBookstore without us even realizing it.

The book has been selling well; not as well as we hoped, but it’s been selling. As we get closer to Dec. 21, 2012, interest has been picking up and we’ did a TV interview here in Dallas Tuesday that’s slated to run soon.

But there’s been a problem we didn’t know about until after the October 23, 2012 update to iOS 6, iBooks 3, iBooks Author 2.0 and iTunes Producer 2.8. At least three customers have bought our book and reported not being able to actually open it once it’s on their iPad. While that number is small, in our opinion, that’s three too many.

What is more troubling is that we received no notification from Apple, iTunes Support, iBookstore Support, meaning the problem could have been with the individual users. We just don’t know. When we asked iTunes Store Support why they gave refunds instead of letting us know about the problem, their answer was that they simply don’t discuss why they issue refunds.  Not helpful.

Trying To Get To The Problems Caused By iBooks Author 2.0

So as we publish this piece, all we know is that three customers said once they downloaded version 1.0 of our book for iPad, they couldn’t open it. The bar across the icon of the book was black, which tends to indicate there’s a problem.

When we opened our .iba file made from the version 1.0 series (It was last opened on Aug. 23, 2012)  in version 2.0 on Nov. 24, 2012, we immediately got a flag warning from the software saying that the image on page 156 was too large. Thumbing through the book also showed that iBooks Author 2.0 had messed up multiple widgets we’d laid out perfectly in version 1.0.  They were compressed into a tiny size and were sitting at the left sides of pages. Several of them we’d laid out to encompass an entire page. Version 2.0 messed all that up and required us to repaginate several places in the book.

The first flagged warning is pictured below:

Warning Screen in iBooks Author 2.0

Warning Screen in iBooks Author 2.0

It never occurred to us that we might need to open up an old version of the book made with an earlier version of the software to ensure that the new version didn’t mess it up. That’s not how software updates are supposed to work! And certainly, one wouldn’t expect that something that had passed muster in an earlier version suddenly was being flagged as a problem. But that’s what happened.

So up popped that first screen warning asking if we wanted to see the problems it’d found.

So, I clicked yes and got this next screen:

Issues with Photo on Page 156

Issues with Photo on Page 156. This dialogue box appeared and said an image that worked fine up until Oct. 23, 2012, was no longer any good in our book for iPad.

To fix the photo problem meant taking the original, running it through Photoshop, shrinking it, and then reloading the page. Nothing difficult there, but if there is anything causing a problem with people downloading the book and it opening now in iOS 6, it’d seem this was it.

But wait. Version 2.0 caused even more disruptions inside the original product.

Widgets All Messed Up

Things got even wonkier after that. There were multiple widgets in the book that got totally screwed up by iBooks Author version 2.0. As you can see, some of them got zapped in size and then moved to the top left portion of a page, completely affecting the pagination within a chapter.

Widgets From iBooks Author 1.0 Are All Messed Up In Version 2.0

Widgets From iBooks Author 1.0 Are All Messed Up In Version 2.0

 

To fix everything back required going through all 179 pages of the book and ensuring that the pagination wasn’t messed up.

There were numerous cases where it was.

Pagination From iBooks Author Version 1.0 All Messed Up in Version 2.0

Pagination From iBooks Author Version 1.0 All Messed Up in Version 2.0

Last Saturday night a week ago, we tried to save these changes so that we could quickly upload the book back to the Apple servers and have the issue resolved.

Then came about the whole issue of the destination drive was full that was written about last week.

Software Updates On Our Mac

It is important to note here that we keep our MacBook Pro’s software up-t0-date. We updated to Mountain Lion the day it came out. We updated iBooks Author as soon as Apple released it on Oct. 23, 2012.  We updated to iBooks 3 on an iPad 3 on Oct. 23. We updated to iTunes Producer, which is used to send books for iPad to Apple’s servers as soon as we saw it was available. So you can imagine how we felt when we started getting responses from the truly good people we’ve been working with for three months off and on now at iBookstore Support suggesting that our uploading problems might be coming because we HAD NOT updated the software. No, our problems were happening because we HAD.

iBookstore Support

So after the problem with the destination drive, we reported the problem to the iBookstore Support team.

We kept also trying to get our book to upload once we got past the destination drive issue.  And we soon had more problems, which will be discussed in the next post.

For now, the book has been uploaded to Apple and it has been approved. But to say this hasn’t been quite upsetting and frustrating would be a great untruth.

Suggestion To Publishers

We strongly recommend that if you have a book on the iBookstore right now that was made in version 1.0 of iBooks Author that you open it up in version 2.0 and see what kinds of bugs might pop up.  Then we also suggest you do an upload of a new version to the iBookstore. You can imagine the pain in our hearts the past week and a half trying to get our book reloaded to the iBookstore when it’s about the 2012 Maya prophecy and we’re down to 17 days away. This could not have come at a worse time for us. But thankfully, we did get some great one-on-one support from our many friends at Apple to help get this resolved. It was just a real nail bitter there for a spell…..

 

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iBooks Author Issues–Verify your destination disk isn’t full

Nov 25, 2012 by

iBooks Author Issues For Uploading A Book for iPad–Verify Your Destination Disk Isn’t Full

It has been a struggle the past few hours to address several iBooks Author issues while trying to upload a new version of a book made in the pre-Oct. 23, 2012 versions of the software.

The problems began with two reports from customers who bought Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya on the iBookstore. They say they downloaded the book and it won’t open.  Having a copy from the 1.0-series of iBooks Author, knowing it is working fine on my iPad, and knowing how Apple works out the bugs in software before releasing an update, I was puzzled by this and begun to investigate.  As a result, a fresh copy has been uploaded to Apple, but it has been a multi-hour process and since it’s a weekend, iBooks Support is closed.

What I Had To Do

When I opened our book, which I’d not had the .iba file open since Oct. 8, 15 days before the release of version 2.0, it first alerted me that there was a photo on page 156 that was too big. It had worked from in version series 1.0-etc.  Nonetheless, it was now being flagged as a problem, and so I loaded the photo into Photoshop, resized it, saved it and then loaded it into the.iba file, while also extracting the older, bigger conflicting photo.

I also fixed two typos we’ve found and then began to save the book for exporting and reloading to the iBookstore via iTunes Producer. I then saved the file and exported it a couple of times as a .iBooks file.  No problem. I then began the process of “Publishing” the file to send it to Apple.  Here’s where the troubles began.

This Became A Major Drama

First of all, apparently via the iBooks Author autosave function on my Mac, (loaded on a hard drive that has some 300-plus Gig of memory left on it), began to display the following message:

Verify your destination disk isn't full and that you have permission to write to it

“Verify your destination disk isn’t full and that you have permission to write to it” while loading a book for iPad to Apple.

“Verify your destination disk isn’t full and that you have permission to write to it”  kept displaying. I took those exact terms and did a search and there is pretty much NOTHING in Google about this.  NOTHING.  Great. It was 11 p.m. at night on a Saturday and I was stressing to get this done and off to bed.

After a little more digging I learned that if you go to the “Title Bar” of an open file on a Mac, a little triangular box will appear and you can do a drop down.  That produced this box:

Title Bar Dropdown Menu in iBooks Author for Versions and Autosave

This is the Title Bar Dropdown Menu in iBooks Author for Versions and Autosave. After getting the dialogue box above, I then proceeded to “Browse All Versions…”

From there, I chose the “Browse All Versions …” link that then took me to this amazing looking screen. The problem was, none of the earlier versions on my machine were ones that I could open. I don’t know if they’d been purged or if there is still some other issue remaining.

 

Browse All Versions ... Screen on MacBook Pro Using iBooks Author

Browse All Versions … Screen on MacBook Pro Using iBooks Author

 

The next thing I tried, since I couldn’t pull up an earlier version, was the “Move To…” option, which allowed me to move the autosaving and to actually SAVE the .iba file again.

Move To ... Screen in iBooks Author

Move To … Screen in iBooks Author

Now that that hurdle had been overcome, I thought I was ready to load the book once again to the iBookstore. It’s been on sale on the iBookstore since Aug. 23. We’ve had a good run of sales.  It’s an established product.  But when I chose to “Publish” this newer version, Lord have mercy…. Over I went to iTunes Producer 2.8 and that’s another story to tell….

More about that in the next post.

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