MacBook Air, oh Fabjoy!

My needs are simple. I surf the web, read email, run this website, write and edit my stories, play some games. Nothing strenuous for most Macs or PCs running today. Still, more speed is never ignored and in constant demand. Today’s modern computers are running dozens, nay, hundreds of background tasks all the time, each taking up some small portion of efficiency away from the current working application. Large files require seconds or minutes to translate and save to disk while users wait for it to end in order to continue working.

Well, no more.

The new low-end MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro laptops with the first Apple Silicon (M1) have made a hardware generational leap into making those issues irrelevant. These low-end laptops and desktop machines are faster than every other Macintosh released in the last year excepting only the top of the line iMac Pro and Mac Pro models. Their battery life nearly double that of the previous releases; 17 hours video vs 10, 15 hours surfing vs 8. Getting through a complete 8-10 hour workday has now become a reality.

My MacBook Air showed up on Tuesday, two days before the committed delivery date. Haven’t done much with it so far except migrate the data from my MacBook Pro and test a few applications for usage but so far it works like dream. Snappier response to everything. Apps launch with barely one bounce of their icon, unported apps seem to run fine in Rosetta 2 and are even faster than when the ran on Intel. Amazing!

Anyway, just a shoutout to let everyone know I’m still hanging around. Hope everything is fine for you and your loved ones. Continue to take care and be mindful that we have yet to see the worst of this pandemic yet. With winter setting in, the environment is prime for a major surge in infections. Wear your masks, follow the guidelines when out and about to minimize your risk. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Long Pandemic Hiatus

It’s been a few months since I’ve updated the site and thought it might be time to remind folks its still here. Here’s some updates on my current projects:

Festival of Murder is still under construction. Chapter 12 has been a bear of a chapter to write as some events happen that will effect characters in both this book and the third. Am finding emotional beats are fracking hard to deal with right now, both due to the overriding world situation and my own narrow emotional canvas. But I keep chipping away at it.

Ditto for An Empire Forgotten: Choy as it too has my main characters meet for the first time and defining their emotional and intellectual relationship was critical to how the rest of the story plays out. It’s taken a long time but I finally have something I’m proud of that defines the emotional tones I want between the characters. Should make for a fun story going forward. Will be submitting it for critique RSN.

Prince of Mules cover
Prince of Mules

Finally, since nothing else was moving forward I decided to submit Prince of Mules for critiquing so I could do a major revision. Having been written and released almost 5 years ago I took advantage of not working on my other projects to get some feedback. Posted it in three parts and part one got more than twice as many critiques as any of my work ever has, which was both encouraging and overwhelming. Maybe they were just bored sitting at home? But I appreciate all the comments and it will definitely enhance the story once all three parts of commented on.

As for myself, I’m doing fine during this world crisis. I live in a small town that has only seen a trickle of infections, don’t go out except for food gathering, and actually enjoy the isolation and quiet. I have my daily routine of writing, gaming, reading, and eating, watching movies and shows in the evening and generally living quite the pastoral, non-eventful life right now. Not much different than what I did before the crisis, although I really miss hopping in the car and going to a local restaurant for a great non-home cooked meal. It’s not the cooking that annoys me, it’s the cleanup afterward.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Be safe out there, try to make the most of your free time as best you can, and be patient. There are a lot of triggered fools out there trying to push their agenda against a viral enemy that can only be conquered by time and discipline. Don’t be one of those idiots.

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Alexiandrölarn: An Empire Forgotten Released

Alexiandrolarn
Alexiandrölarn: An Empire Forgotten

It took longer than I wanted but it’s finally here, the release of my latest novella, Alexiadrölarn: An Empire Forgotten to the Amazon KDP list. For those that don’t know, KDP is Amazon’s monthly reading program. You pay $10 a month and can read any of the thousands of books in the program as desired. I’m hoping that some people will give this one a chance and come looking for more.

Normally I release my stories to Amazon, Apple Books, and Smashwords to achieve the widest distribution possible. To date this has been a dismal failure. Sales trickle in like water drops from a leaky faucet. The release of Built for Murder got the best response I ever had and even that amount wouldn’t pay for a dinner. To say I’m disappointed at my sales so far is too dramatic.

I’ve always hoped for more sales and thought going to longer stories would help, yet so far they’ve sunk without comment. I needed approximately 150 sales to recover my direct costs for BfM (cover design) yet I’ve only had a handful so far. Not hard to see the reason when there are literally thousands of books released everyday on all of the above distribution platforms and my marketing has been minimal.

Anyway, I keep plugging away in hopes that they’ll take off someday. So here’s even more chum in the water to attract readers.

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Why I Hate the Apple TV App

So, with the release of Apple TV and the Apple TV+ shows I’ve been using the TV app quite a bit lately. I’m really starting to be annoyed by what I consider not so little user interface (UI) behaviors that any first alpha tester should have pointed it out to the developers.

Having spent years in the tech industry, specifically 5+ years of it in software testing I think I’ve got a leg to stand on here.

Apple TV app front page

Horizontal Scrolling

The abomination of sideways scrolling goes against all previous list presentation conventions that we’re used to on paper forms and on our smartphones. We won’t even mention how difficult it is to accomplish using the Apple TV Siri Remote to make it happen. It feels unnatural, limits the number of items you can see at one time, and seriously restricts you from finding a specific show in a season. The Netflex UI isn’t perfect here but it’s UI is closer to ideal than Apples at this time.

I suspect it’s to appease those Window’s users who’ve been indoctrinated since Win95 when Microsoft first released their hastily and ill-design UI for that OS. Where Apple had done studies and made tweaks to improve the user experience (UX), Win95 was a hack job that failed to understand how everything should work together to the benefit of the user. Mac OS had vertical scrolling so they went horizontal. Its a bad UX all around and yet it prevails and spreads like the cancer it always was.

Apple TV Siri Remote
Apple TV Siri Remote

Note that the Apple TV Siri Remote won’t help here either. It’s as difficult to control in either direction. Did I mention what a POS it is? And this is after using one since the device was released.

List Organization

Lets examine a show’s list of a season. Listed vertically from top to bottom in numerical order with no way to reverse or custom sort the order. God-forbid you want to watch a show in the latest season. It’s at the bottom of the season list. That’s right, it’s sorted numerically. I just purchased Season 4 of Rick & Morty and finding the latest episode is a disaster every time I attempt to watch the show. I have to find each show manually every damn time. Again, yet more bad UX to suffer through.

Note it doesn’t show up in my Watch Next list as you might think it should, nor do any of Apple’s shows. Which brings up the next issue of contention…

TV App Alzheimers

The app has no memory that I can tell. If I watch episode 5 of For All Mankind you would think the TV app would remember that and show it or episode 6 on the title screen within the Watch Next list, or take me directly to it or the next episode in sequence. After all, its Apple’s own show, it only has one season with six episodes now. How hard can it be? Impossible from what I’ve experienced so far.

Conclusion

As much as I’m loving the shows Apple has released so far, the UI to find and view them is a badly designed UI and UX hack that should never have left the building.

Suggestions for improvement:
• Swap the horizontal scrolling for vertical
• Provide some means of sorting seasons. I pity those with 29 years of Simpson’s episodes.
• Fix whatever is causing the memory issues
• (Off-topic) Give us a replacement for the Siri Remote, I beg you!

My only hope is that with the leaving of Jony Ives more common sense will prevail in the design department of Apple and the next release of devices and apps will be superior to what is in the wild now. We’ve already seen that in the MacBook Pro 2019, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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