Why Apple, why?

So iOS 12 has been released and for the most part it’s a nice improvement over the previous version. Speed improvements, expanded capabilities everywhere, a nice upgrade generally.

Unfortunately IMHO, the Control Panel for Audio is still nearly useless, requiring too many swipes/clicks to do a single action, and that is to start or pause the audio playback.

iOS 7 Control Panel design, so much cleaner.

Just for quick comparison, here’s the original control panel design from iOS 7. Intuitive, quick, easy to start/pause, control volume, and see where you are in the playback.

To start, swipe from the bottom of the iPhone to open the control panels. Several default panels appear allowing easy access to common settings. Connectivity, audio, screen lock, screen mirroring, brightness and volume, as well as some custom panels for flashlight, magnifier, and more. A handy feature that I’m sure is used by many people everyday. I know I do.

iOS 12 Control Panel design, lots of capabilities offered.

By far though, the control panel I want to access the quickest is the audio one, mostly tor start a paused podcast or song. Used to be it was a simple matter to do that, now it’s a multistep, error prone process that angers me daily. For such a simple feature it shouldn’t be this difficult.

Let’s start by talking audio panel problems as I experience them. The first is the audio panel placement in the expanded control panel. Note that the audio control is near the top of all available panels, and in an awkward/difficult position to reach in that position. Now, my hands aren’t the smallest in the world but it is not easy to reach from my standard phone grip. So I’m forced to use a finger from my other hand to press the start/pause control. Not perfect but acceptable.

Audio control panel choose output device pane.

That brings up the second issue, the area to start/pause is too darn small. No matter how careful I am in trying to only press the start/pause control the panel always expands to it’s larger size. Not only that, when it does it defaults to showing me the audio output pane where I can choose the output device for my action. This is so wrong. If the output was previously set, why is it asking me to reset it? All I want to do is restart a podcast or play music, why do I need to choose the output audio device again? Makes no sense.

iOS 12 Audio panel showing useful features.

Third issue, click on the volume icon to swap to the audio pane I really wanted and in sufficient size so I can easily press the start/pause control.

Finish by swiping down the panel to close it.

So, swipe up, click start/pause, error into choose output audio device pane, click playback icon, click enlarged start/pause control, swipe down to close.

Wearying to say the least.

All Apple needs to do is make one simple fix, don’t default to showing the choose audio device pane unless I actually, physically select it. That alone will remove over half of my frustration with this simple feature.

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Back to Work

After months of winter inaction I’m back writing. No excuse, just blatant laziness on my part. Fortunately it’s not like I need to make a living at this fiction thing, which allows me to be nonchalant. In reality I’m still way behind in covering my costs to produce a story and release it. For example, when it comes to a good cover I spend about $10 each to license the image. That doesn’t even cover my time in creating the cover (adding text, design, etc.) or hours writing the story itself.

Anyway, we’re at it again. Wish me luck.

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June Revisions Now Available

The Young Hieronymus series of short stories have been revised (June 2017) and released for your enjoyment. They include:

Storms on an Opal Sea cover

Since their release in 2013 I’d like to think I’ve learned and improved my craft in this fiction writing business and so going back to improve the originals seemed like a good idea. Updated the stories, gave them new edits, and generally had fun expanding on the originals in several minor ways. All for the good I hope.

I’ve already posted them to Smashwords and Amazon, so look for Apple’s iBooks soon. If you’ve already bought the stories then getting the updates should just require a new download. If you haven’t purchased them, now would be a good time to give them a look.

UPDATE: Work is progressing on Storms on an Opal Sea and Alexiandrölarn novella as well. I hope to kick them into shape by the fall.

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ProWritingAid is Improving My Process

I’ve been busy lately on several improvement projects.

The first project involved releasing revised versions of the Young Hieronymus series; The Huntress, A Lesson in Power, and Amaranthine Dreams. I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons, 1) Since releasing those early stories I think I’ve become a better fiction writer, and 2) I wanted to use an editing tool, specifically ProWritingAid, as part of my process to improving my manuscripts.

I’m liking the results too.

If ProWritingAid doesn’t ring a bell, it’s an online service that accepts your manuscripts and using one or more analytical tools (your choice), shows you where your writing can use some improvement. You can run one or more tools like: Style, Grammar, Diction, Repeats, Transitions, Pronouns, etc. to isolate a specific weakness, or just run Combo to use all the tools.

ProWritingAid also includes a downloadable Java version that works with several popular writing apps including Scrivener, text, html, rtf, MS Word,  markdown, and open document (odt) file formats. Using the Java app is much faster than using the online version as you don’t have to manually upload your files, run the tests, then download the results. With the app you just open the file on disk and start analyzing.

It’s not free, but $40 a year for Premium access to all these writing tools is reasonable.

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been revising the YH short stories. They’re now complete and being uploaded this week. I think they read and flow much better than the originals. Take a look and let me know what you think.

I’ve seen some nice improvements in my writing these last few weeks. I’ve noticed the number of common issues ProWritingAid pointed out are being reduced, sometimes by a significant amount. That tells me that I’ve started to resolve those errors in my writing before ProWritingAid can count them. My process is simple, write a scene to the best of my ability and then run it through ProWritingAid for revision. The result is a much stronger scene or chapter for the first draft.

The second project is Alexiandrölarn, my fantasy novella that comprises part 1 of The Forgotten Empire. I’m redoing Chapter 5 right now, finally know how it will end, and been having fun adding new twists and turns along the way.

Third project is Storms on an Opal Sea, the fourth incarnation is back on the table. Using the same process I’ve been rewriting SOS, chopping off scenes I didn’t need and hopefully writing a much better story after its long gestation. It was actually my 2nd short story idea, right after The Missing Wizard. The idea is old but now I may be able to complete it. Cross your fingers.

Also, a couple of other shorts in the process. They’re experimental and not likely to be released but who knows, I’m having fun again.

So, lots of activity, stay tuned for some new stories releases RSN.

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