Livin’ and learnin’

Now that I’ve started breathing again I can start to think about the iBooks experience and what I’ve learnt from it.

I found out today that there are no iBooks in Singapore where I’m living and where I wrote / produced / cobbled together my first iBook. Nope, none. Something I didn’t really actually realise. I mean I’d tried to buy Dave Caleb’s excellent photography iBook and couldn’t do it here, but I didn’t twig that I couldn’t buy ANY iBook here… and you know what’s really weird? I can’t find out why anywhere. Is is because “singapore” or is it because “apple”? I notice my home country has a similar problem. Who decides? Who’s the boss.  And who would care anyway, especially for a free home-made stitched together effort? I need to know these things.  I’m sure my curiosity and sense of fairness will get me into trouble some time.


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What would I advice people coming after me? Play with it in your spare time, NOT when you have an assignment deadline. Make something simple, low barrier, low stakes and iron out all the learning and mistakes before you use it for a major assignment. Or maybe better still – get a class of 11 year olds to do it for you!

If you do use it for an assignment – be ready at least 48 hours before the due date. It takes 24 hours more or less from the time you hit the “submit” button to when it’s live, and then you get a nasty little surprise that things that may have worked in iBooks author and on your previews, suddenly don’t work so well in the published book. I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that the widgets for feeding in video, twitter etc. are handled by and I probably overloaded it with too many requests one after the other – the weird thing is both the display AND the functionality was fine in author … and then when I pressed “play” in iBooks 3 of the videos just reverted to the last loaded video… oops.  So I corrected that and then reloaded it, and it will take another 24 hours before it’s working…

Oh, and another thing with Bookry – well it seems you can publish directly there, BUT if you try and download the app on your mac it doesn’t like it one bit …

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I’m 100% sure this is not an insurmountable problem and with enough time and patience I could get it to work. But both time and patience were in rather short supply yesterday afternoon / evening.


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It also helps to ask around a lot. One of my friends when she heard I was going to use iBooks author said “oh no, I hear that’s really difficult. Our tech guy at school suggests that our kids use Book Creator for iPad instead. Unfortunately I was about 80% finished by the time she said that … although the 80:20 rule definitely applied at that point – I thought I was at 80%

And if you export it to pdf, note that the pdf can be a maximum of 10MB for this wordpress platform … mine was 20MB after the correct videos were updated, so can’t fly here … maybe I can publish it to the web (thinking aloud) …

I’d also like to say it is wonderful having a cohort of selfless fellow students around you who make encouraging noises about the things that do work publicly and kindly point out this kind of snafu to you privately. lol you know who you are!

Another lesson – never do this type of thing over a long-holiday weekend. You may think it’s a good idea, but then you can’t access all the tech guru’s in your life because, well, they’re having a life with their families and #notfair to disturb them.

1 ibooks author intro from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Of course the whole irony of this learning stuff is that we don’t do it unless we “have” to do it, and when we “have” to do it, it’s kind of high stakes if you get it wrong, so then you’d rather play safe and go with something you’re sure will work. I can see how this FOMM (fear of making mistakes) and FOF (fear of failure) can inhibit personal, academic, learning and technical progress.

What else did I want to do if I had endless time – or what I’d like to do some time? Well, really to get the whole “get started” thing going on how to implement a program.  I’d also love to write a Inklestudios book based on the stories of our students and their families and the many and varied choices and options on language, and put that into it … I’d also LOVE to have a designer and producer and team of creative people around me who can make a much better job on the design side – I mean I know something great when I see it, but just can’t seem to make it myself!  Has everyone see the Guardian’s latest interactive book on the digital language divide. Gosh they are so wonderful.  Maybe I can get a research job with them…  I’d like to interview some parents and put it on a video and add that… there is so much.

My new quote and drive on this whole language thing comes from this clickbait collection:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

2 thoughts on “Livin’ and learnin’

  1. So there are no iBooks in Singapore … what a shame. I guess you won’t be able to check my iBook on your iPad then. I’ll make one in the starter kit anyway for practice. Do you know, even though the kit’s free, I can’t open Apple’s word processing doc, Pages, as Text Edit, Microsoft Word and Acrobat Reader don’t recognise the script. I’m not paying US$25 for Apple’s word processing program. Instead, I type every chapter directly into the template, taking longer than expected. 2 steps forward and 1 backward.


  2. Not a problem, I also have a USA account so I’ll be able to access it there! I guess that’s why I didn’t really miss it before.
    I just copied and pasted from my word doc into the iBook Author template and then cleaned up the font size, spacing etc. in iBook Author, otherwise it’s really painful. I did run into problems with the colours of hypertext though – it refused to change colour so the stuff I brought in with hyperlinks from word stayed blue and the stuff I hyperlinked from within iBook Author was red ….
    Let me know when you’re done and I’ll check yours.


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