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How Apple Screwed Up Audiobooks on iOS 8.4

When I got my first iOS device, an iPad 2, the audiobook support was great. Recognized chapters in the Audio Books showing chapter names, really good. Then an update came, and no more chapters, audiobooks hidden away Music App. Every change seemed to hide it a bit more, but you could modify the tab bar and put audiobooks there where it was easily acceptable.

Then shipped 8.4 which completely and utterly fucked it all up.

Understand, I'm not much of a music listener. Oh, I've got a music library, mostly folk and classic rock, plus some humor bits. I'll sometimes use the iTunes Genius Mix if I'm in the mood. But I'm not in the mood very often, I far prefer audiobooks. I've got audiobooks playing pretty much non-stop. (My audiobook library is the reason I got a 64 GB iPhone and wish I'd gotten 128B.) So Apple Music holds no interest to me. Fine, fine, not every Apple customer is like me, I'm probably in a fairly small minority. Still no excuse in ruining Audiobook playback under 8.4

First, audiobooks were moved to iBooks. On my iPhone, I usually have iBooks hidden in a folder. But launching Music did bring up an alert saying it had been moved so I could get there in one click the first time. Half point for the alert.

Entering it, it listed all my eBooks (a few PDFs I'd downloaded to it for easy viewing), all my books I've bought on my iPad (and should you happen to click on the right side of a line for one, it downloads them it), plus the audiobooks. AAAARRGGH. This SUCKS! This is going to be so annoying! Minus 10 out of 10 points for this.

After some poking around, I did see that there's something called collections available in a popdown menu. I've never used collections in iBooks on my iPad or my iPhone, but it segregates my library into lists. One of them is Audiobooks. I choose that, and we're back to my list of audiobooks I've wanted. Yippee! I'll give them back 8 of those points. Some sort of tutorial or notice (Music knew I played audiobooks so told me to go to iBooks, iBooks could have seen all those audiobooks and warned me) would give back another point. But a tab bar is so much better than a popdown menu. So much more visible. No tab bar, losing at least one point.

So I have my audiobook, start one playing. Looks like it does recognize chapter breaks - but not chapter titles, apparently. Half point for that.

Then I click back to the list of audiobooks - and playback STOPS. Stops dead. And no indication of which audiobook I was in the middle of listening to. WTF?

This is completely unacceptable. Not even a little bit acceptable. There's no warning that the itsy bitsy back arrow (which should be larger, but on the list of problems in this disaster, insignificant) that it stops playback. This means that you can't look to see what other audiobooks you have in the series, can't listen while reading, and particularly I can't look at one of my PDFs without stopping playback.

This makes audiobook playing on iOS 8.4 a 0 out of 10. 0 stars, Steaming piece of crap.

How to solve this? An audiobook player as a separte app. If you want to put it in the app store and have iBooks handle it if the separate app is not installed, that's cool. 

Posted on June 30, 2015, 10:02 am

Donald Brown

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I support the ACA. But the SCOTUS got it wrong

I like the ACA. I wish it went farther to actually be a single payer plan.

But the SCOTUS was wrong.

The text in the ACA was clear. Income-based subsidies were to be provided to citizens using exchanges established by the states. I'm guessing they expected every state would create its own exchange, but only 16 states did. If the writers of the law realized that most states wouldn't establish their own exchange, would they have changed that language? Probably. The intent was to provide subsidies to all who needed them. But that's not the wording.

Roberts called the phrase at issue "ambiguous". It's not. It's very clear. He says himself, the "most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase" would only give subsidies to those using state establed exchanges. It's only ambiguous if you believe the only acceptable outcome is to keep the ACA going and so you have to work backwards from there.

Judges are to rule based on the text of the laws, only go to intent if the text is unclear or contradictory. This set a precedent that allows judges to rewrite legislation to "fix" it. And that's a VERY dangerous precedent.

I'm glad the ACA lives. I think we're going to regret this decision in the future.

Posted on June 25, 2015, 8:56 am

Donald Brown

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SDCC is only a couple weeks to go.

I'm both excited and more than a little scared. I'm hopeful that my enjoyment of a celebration of geekiness will overcome my fear of crowds.

I've got most of the things I need for it. A few last minute things - sun screen, water bottles, etc.

Posted on June 23, 2015, 1:33 am

Donald Brown

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What I'd do with Twitter

Everyone's putting in their two cents on what they'd do if they were chosen as CEO for Twitter. Well, the first thing I'd do is decline (I'm not CEO material) but here are the changes I'd make.

First the "Do this immediately" list:

  • Double maximum tweet length to 280. Yes, that number is just as arbitrary as 140, but it's a first easy step to loose the bounds without changing the nature of Twitter.
  • Change the video landing page. If you get a link from third party software or something to a video uploaded to Twitter, you get a very stark page, no text, no links, just the video. Make that page part of the Twitter experience.

Longer term:

  • Allow third party clients again. Set requirements for how tweets are to be displayed, require them to also display sponsored tweets. But allow mixing with other services. Don't be the one left out.
  • Have a way to add "long-form" text to a tweet, the way pictures are attached to a tweet.
  • Make links attributes to the link, rather than part of the link (and so part of the 280 characters)
  • Have a way to "follow" hashtags or search terms so they automatically appear in the timeline.

Posted on June 19, 2015, 9:15 pm

Donald Brown

Going to SDCC, getting ready

Going to San Diego Comic Con for the first time this year. Looking forward to it, but with some trepedation - not a big fan of crowds or lines and I know I'm going to encounter both. But should be interesting.

Been gearing up for the convention, first general convention I've been to in a long time (have attended Strategicon, want to again in the future).

Had to get some batteries to recharge the iPhone and iPad, got a nice big bag for both my necessities and the swag I'll pick up along the way. Gonna get a folding stool for some of the longer waits.

Was considering going in costume, but decided against it. I just can't do anything that would be anything but embarassing compared to what others are making.

Posted on May 16, 2015, 7:43 pm

Donald Brown

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