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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Apple’s television shows have exhibited great potential. They cover a variety of topics, settings, and environments. My personal favorites include:
For All Mankind — an alternate universe story that starts with the Russians beating NASA to the moon and the subsequent race to get ahead of them with future missions. I’ve always been a sucker for stories about journeying into space and this really satisfies that itch. The accuracy of the recreations is phenomenal, the issues feel authenticate, with interesting characters and plots that I’m looking forward to following. It does, however, shoehorn in some sensitive topics, like racism and women in the space program that sometimes feels heavy. I put this down to growing pains and expect improvements to happen as the show gets rolling. Highly recommended.
See — Set in the future where all of mankind has become blind and the culture has adapted to deal with the differences. But when a pair of children are born that can see again, all hell breaks loose. The scenery is gorgeous, the depiction of blindness strikes the right pitch of authenticity, and the story has potential. It may not be your cup of tea but give it a look anyway, you might be surprised.
Apple was pillared in the press for seemingly forbidding certain topics from being addressed within their shows. That is not what I’ve seen at all, especially with See. When a major character is shown masturbating to experience a religious experience, one has to wonder what else the naysayers missed of importance.
The Morning Show — I saved this one for last as it wasn’t my first choice and I hesitated because of the bad critiques given to the show. I finally figured out I needed to see it for myself and so far have been entirely satisfied. Of the three shows here this is the one really trying to push several agendas at once, from women’s rights in the modern workplace to men who philandered around and are accused of being a sexual predator. It has a lot to say and it’s a dialogue that I’ve not seen anywhere else nor addressed in a responsible and mature manner. After three episodes I must say I’m hooked into seeing how this one plays out as well.
I tried several other shows but none of them were on topics I was interested in. Having cut the cable years ago, I’ve not really missed the trite, formulaic, vapid shows that many people find popular these days.
I’m using my Apple TV 4K to watch these shows on a 42″ LCD Samsung television and listen to them through an external sound bar and sometimes my 1st gen AirPods. I watch in full screen using my couch or reclining chair.
Let me vent for a second about the remote for Apple TV. That slippery little devil delights in jumping from my hand onto my hardwood floor at every opportunity. I’m already on my second remote and that annoys me as well. I’d like to ask the designer what they were thinking to make it out of glass, then kick him/her in the crotch. Yeah, I hate it.
Second, to the UI designer who thinks scrolling lists should flow left and right instead of up and down like normal lists, fuck you! My thumb aches from trying to find the sweet spot on the edges of the remote to scroll in the direction I want it to. And whoops, if I miss then it just does whatever the hell it wants to and I end up farther away from my intended destination than one could imagine. So frustrating!
Not enough shows yet. More are on the way and I’ll give them a try as they interest me. Right now I think they’ve made a great start and look forward to many years of excellent, thought provoking shows.
Apple TV+ itself is young and has some rough edges, but every starting service does. The chosen stories are interesting, the variety growing, with excellent production and writing that reminds me of several beloved HBO series.
If you haven’t given it a try, I recommend you take a look. You might be surprised.
It’s the start of October and time to begin with the final edit of An Empire Forgotten: Alexiandrölarn. All the feedback is here and it’s now just a matter of working through the problems and doing a final clean-up on the manuscript. If everything works out it should be ready for publication before the end of the month.
Another project (almost) completed! Yeah!
Working through the second Ramble’s mystery Festival of Murder as well with chapter nine in the works as I type this. Still need to organize some of the final chapters so events line up as necessary but don’t yet see any problems there.
And finally, started work on AEF: Choy as well. Some of the comments for Alexiandrölarn mention that the appendix chapter, meant to kick off events in the second novella was too busy. I’ll look at it again and if I’m unhappy I simply make it the start of Choy instead.
Time to get back to work.
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