2012 Book

Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit

Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit 

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, I had the privilege of presenting during the Austin and San Antonio Chapter ASTD conference entitled the Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit.

The focus was on mobile learning and the technologies that make it all work.

My presentation, after more than 20 months of use of iBooks Author and building eBooks as well, was about eBooks and Books For iPad: what one can do with them and how to make them.

A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox. If you have an iPad, you’ll need to download the file first to your computer and then load it into iTunes before syncing it to your iPad.  (And of course, you must be running at least iOS 5.1 and have iBooks 3.)

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Even I was amazed at some of the presentations and developments taking place in the world of mobile apps and technologies. It’s inspiring to see some things that we only could have dreamed about a few years ago are quickly coming to fruition and even are already behind the curve, even though they’re likely still very much ahead of most.

George Saltsman from Abilene Christian University, who helped lead us into the development of books for iPad also spoke about changes that are coming in the pedagogy of education, while Dr. Robbie Melton from the University of Tennessee’s Board Regents showed off some amazing new gadgets and apps that are changing the workforce around the world.

FROM MY PRESENTATION, you will see a discussion about many of the amazing widgets and products we’ve built for books for iPad and a healthy discussion about whether or not we should even continue to call these products “books.” Also discussed are some of the variations and differences in this emerging field of technology, like the difference between EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 and what those two things mean to someone trying to decide on an eReader or an author trying to figure out which platform they should be publishing their materials on.

After my presentation, I was flooded with requests for more information, business cards and LinkedIn requests.

If you have any questions about how to make an eBook in EPUB or an interactive book for the iPad using 3D animations, movies, interactive timelines, puzzles and more, please reach out and let me know.

 

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Life Is Good When You’re The WOW! At An Apple Genius Bar

Life Is Good When You’re The WOW! At An Apple Genius Bar CC Yellow Books Circle 60 by 60 TR 1

Since I bought my first MacBook Pro on Oct. 11, 2007, I’ve had my share of opportunities to visit the Apple Genius Bar at Northpark Mall. If you don’t know, it’s one of the smallest stores in the Apple Store inventory, but also one of the busiest.  This is where I took my One-To-One training with Adopho Cantu and learned so much more than I could ever have hoped for. Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 12.13.17 PM

Today I was in attempting to do a restore of my email lost last Tuesday after applying a Rule to Mail because a spammer had sent an email from the address < @>.  We were trying to use Time Machine to restore Mail to where it was before that fated rule change. (We didn’t get it to work either.)

But as we were going through the process–I’ve also spent about an hour on the phone with Apple Care–the Genuis started asking about what I do and then I got to whip out the iPad and show her Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, Ken Plume, John Robinson and Len Peralta’s There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse, and lastly, Dr. John Ed Mathison’s When God Redefines the Possible, a work in progress.

When the Genius started manipulating the 3D image of the Rio Azul mask that’s in the book, her response was Apple Genius Cool–“SHUT UP!”  (I wasn’t saying anything.)

Before I knew it, I had three other geniuses looking at the books and doing the same thing.  Genius One kept saying, “I am showing off my customer!”

Now like I’ve said, I’ve had my share of Genius Bar visits, but this was the first time I wasn’t the one in awe of what was going on.  It was the Geniuses.

We talked about how one before in Northpark I’d showed the books to a sales rep who told me, “It’s so cool for us to see things like this, because we send stuff out of here in boxes all day long, the tools you need to do cool stuff.  It’s fascinating for us to see how it’s actually being used.”

And so this is another tribute and thank you to the Genius, sales and One-to-One training staff of the Apple Store at Northpark Mall in Dallas, Texas.  Without my One-to-One training from Adolpho, who is no longer there, there’s no telling how far behind I still would be. And what a great memory to have–SHUT UP!

 

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The Dallas Morning News Features Claxton Creative & The Maya Calendar

The Dallas Morning News Features Claxton Creative & The Maya Calendar CC Yellow Books Circle 60 by 60 TR 1

The Dallas Morning News  just featured our book for iPad on their website in a comical post where we asked all the media in our reach this morning to at least ensure that they’re using the right Maya Calendar and not the Aztec Calendar Stone.

One of thes we’ve noted here time and again is how Google brings up the Aztec Calendar Stone when one searches for the Maya Calendar instead of the Maya Calendar.  So, we sent out an email this morning just saying, “If your art department doesn’t bring you something like this today and calls it the Maya Calendar, they’ve probably got it wrong.”

What does the Maya Calendar look like?

This is the Maya Calendar. The round thing most quoted is the Aztec Calendar Stone that they Maya never even saw.....

This is the Maya Calendar. The round thing most quoted is the Aztec Calendar Stone that they Maya never even saw…..

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What Apple Didn’t Say About Changes From iBooks Author Version 1 Series

What Apple Didn’t Tell Us About Changes From iBooks Author Version 1 Series

We published our book for iPad 21012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya by Dr. Mark Van Stone on Aug. 23, 2012 using the 1.0 version series of iBooks Author. The book cleared through Apple’s approval process in a day or two and was up on the iBookstore without us even realizing it.

The book has been selling well; not as well as we hoped, but it’s been selling. As we get closer to Dec. 21, 2012, interest has been picking up and we’ did a TV interview here in Dallas Tuesday that’s slated to run soon.

But there’s been a problem we didn’t know about until after the October 23, 2012 update to iOS 6, iBooks 3, iBooks Author 2.0 and iTunes Producer 2.8. At least three customers have bought our book and reported not being able to actually open it once it’s on their iPad. While that number is small, in our opinion, that’s three too many.

What is more troubling is that we received no notification from Apple, iTunes Support, iBookstore Support, meaning the problem could have been with the individual users. We just don’t know. When we asked iTunes Store Support why they gave refunds instead of letting us know about the problem, their answer was that they simply don’t discuss why they issue refunds.  Not helpful.

Trying To Get To The Problems Caused By iBooks Author 2.0

So as we publish this piece, all we know is that three customers said once they downloaded version 1.0 of our book for iPad, they couldn’t open it. The bar across the icon of the book was black, which tends to indicate there’s a problem.

When we opened our .iba file made from the version 1.0 series (It was last opened on Aug. 23, 2012)  in version 2.0 on Nov. 24, 2012, we immediately got a flag warning from the software saying that the image on page 156 was too large. Thumbing through the book also showed that iBooks Author 2.0 had messed up multiple widgets we’d laid out perfectly in version 1.0.  They were compressed into a tiny size and were sitting at the left sides of pages. Several of them we’d laid out to encompass an entire page. Version 2.0 messed all that up and required us to repaginate several places in the book.

The first flagged warning is pictured below:

Warning Screen in iBooks Author 2.0

Warning Screen in iBooks Author 2.0

It never occurred to us that we might need to open up an old version of the book made with an earlier version of the software to ensure that the new version didn’t mess it up. That’s not how software updates are supposed to work! And certainly, one wouldn’t expect that something that had passed muster in an earlier version suddenly was being flagged as a problem. But that’s what happened.

So up popped that first screen warning asking if we wanted to see the problems it’d found.

So, I clicked yes and got this next screen:

Issues with Photo on Page 156

Issues with Photo on Page 156. This dialogue box appeared and said an image that worked fine up until Oct. 23, 2012, was no longer any good in our book for iPad.

To fix the photo problem meant taking the original, running it through Photoshop, shrinking it, and then reloading the page. Nothing difficult there, but if there is anything causing a problem with people downloading the book and it opening now in iOS 6, it’d seem this was it.

But wait. Version 2.0 caused even more disruptions inside the original product.

Widgets All Messed Up

Things got even wonkier after that. There were multiple widgets in the book that got totally screwed up by iBooks Author version 2.0. As you can see, some of them got zapped in size and then moved to the top left portion of a page, completely affecting the pagination within a chapter.

Widgets From iBooks Author 1.0 Are All Messed Up In Version 2.0

Widgets From iBooks Author 1.0 Are All Messed Up In Version 2.0

 

To fix everything back required going through all 179 pages of the book and ensuring that the pagination wasn’t messed up.

There were numerous cases where it was.

Pagination From iBooks Author Version 1.0 All Messed Up in Version 2.0

Pagination From iBooks Author Version 1.0 All Messed Up in Version 2.0

Last Saturday night a week ago, we tried to save these changes so that we could quickly upload the book back to the Apple servers and have the issue resolved.

Then came about the whole issue of the destination drive was full that was written about last week.

Software Updates On Our Mac

It is important to note here that we keep our MacBook Pro’s software up-t0-date. We updated to Mountain Lion the day it came out. We updated iBooks Author as soon as Apple released it on Oct. 23, 2012.  We updated to iBooks 3 on an iPad 3 on Oct. 23. We updated to iTunes Producer, which is used to send books for iPad to Apple’s servers as soon as we saw it was available. So you can imagine how we felt when we started getting responses from the truly good people we’ve been working with for three months off and on now at iBookstore Support suggesting that our uploading problems might be coming because we HAD NOT updated the software. No, our problems were happening because we HAD.

iBookstore Support

So after the problem with the destination drive, we reported the problem to the iBookstore Support team.

We kept also trying to get our book to upload once we got past the destination drive issue.  And we soon had more problems, which will be discussed in the next post.

For now, the book has been uploaded to Apple and it has been approved. But to say this hasn’t been quite upsetting and frustrating would be a great untruth.

Suggestion To Publishers

We strongly recommend that if you have a book on the iBookstore right now that was made in version 1.0 of iBooks Author that you open it up in version 2.0 and see what kinds of bugs might pop up.  Then we also suggest you do an upload of a new version to the iBookstore. You can imagine the pain in our hearts the past week and a half trying to get our book reloaded to the iBookstore when it’s about the 2012 Maya prophecy and we’re down to 17 days away. This could not have come at a worse time for us. But thankfully, we did get some great one-on-one support from our many friends at Apple to help get this resolved. It was just a real nail bitter there for a spell…..

 

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iBooks Author Issues–Verify your destination disk isn’t full

iBooks Author Issues For Uploading A Book for iPad–Verify Your Destination Disk Isn’t Full

It has been a struggle the past few hours to address several iBooks Author issues while trying to upload a new version of a book made in the pre-Oct. 23, 2012 versions of the software.

The problems began with two reports from customers who bought Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya on the iBookstore. They say they downloaded the book and it won’t open.  Having a copy from the 1.0-series of iBooks Author, knowing it is working fine on my iPad, and knowing how Apple works out the bugs in software before releasing an update, I was puzzled by this and begun to investigate.  As a result, a fresh copy has been uploaded to Apple, but it has been a multi-hour process and since it’s a weekend, iBooks Support is closed.

What I Had To Do

When I opened our book, which I’d not had the .iba file open since Oct. 8, 15 days before the release of version 2.0, it first alerted me that there was a photo on page 156 that was too big. It had worked from in version series 1.0-etc.  Nonetheless, it was now being flagged as a problem, and so I loaded the photo into Photoshop, resized it, saved it and then loaded it into the.iba file, while also extracting the older, bigger conflicting photo.

I also fixed two typos we’ve found and then began to save the book for exporting and reloading to the iBookstore via iTunes Producer. I then saved the file and exported it a couple of times as a .iBooks file.  No problem. I then began the process of “Publishing” the file to send it to Apple.  Here’s where the troubles began.

This Became A Major Drama

First of all, apparently via the iBooks Author autosave function on my Mac, (loaded on a hard drive that has some 300-plus Gig of memory left on it), began to display the following message:

Verify your destination disk isn't full and that you have permission to write to it

“Verify your destination disk isn’t full and that you have permission to write to it” while loading a book for iPad to Apple.

“Verify your destination disk isn’t full and that you have permission to write to it”  kept displaying. I took those exact terms and did a search and there is pretty much NOTHING in Google about this.  NOTHING.  Great. It was 11 p.m. at night on a Saturday and I was stressing to get this done and off to bed.

After a little more digging I learned that if you go to the “Title Bar” of an open file on a Mac, a little triangular box will appear and you can do a drop down.  That produced this box:

Title Bar Dropdown Menu in iBooks Author for Versions and Autosave

This is the Title Bar Dropdown Menu in iBooks Author for Versions and Autosave. After getting the dialogue box above, I then proceeded to “Browse All Versions…”

From there, I chose the “Browse All Versions …” link that then took me to this amazing looking screen. The problem was, none of the earlier versions on my machine were ones that I could open. I don’t know if they’d been purged or if there is still some other issue remaining.

 

Browse All Versions ... Screen on MacBook Pro Using iBooks Author

Browse All Versions … Screen on MacBook Pro Using iBooks Author

 

The next thing I tried, since I couldn’t pull up an earlier version, was the “Move To…” option, which allowed me to move the autosaving and to actually SAVE the .iba file again.

Move To ... Screen in iBooks Author

Move To … Screen in iBooks Author

Now that that hurdle had been overcome, I thought I was ready to load the book once again to the iBookstore. It’s been on sale on the iBookstore since Aug. 23. We’ve had a good run of sales.  It’s an established product.  But when I chose to “Publish” this newer version, Lord have mercy…. Over I went to iTunes Producer 2.8 and that’s another story to tell….

More about that in the next post.

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Maya Myth Moment–The Aztec Calendar Stone Is Not The Maya Calendar

Over on our special project site, The Wonders Expedition, we’ve begun the series–Maya Myth Moment–that we’ve developed in conjunction with our author, Dr. Mark Van Stone, one of the most renowned Maya Scholars in the world, to do a daily debunking of Maya Myth from Nov. 21 thru Dec. 21, 2012.

The Maya Myth Moment

The Maya Myth Moment from TheWondersExpedition.com is a daily update from Nov. 21 – Dec. 21, 2012 designed to debunk much of the nonsense circulating about the ancient Maya.

Dr. Van Stone has worked with us throughout the year 2012 to produce his first book for iPad2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya.

We invite you to wormhole on over to The Wonders Expedition and check out our first video on the Aztec Calendar Stone. While you’re there, also sign up to receive the daily updates we’re going to send out for the Maya Myth Moment.

It’s going to be a good and educational series, and was designed to help knock down some of the major nonsense that’s going to get stirred up in the 30 days remaining before Dec. 21, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

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Scholar To Release Daily Debunk Of Mayan Calendar Ending Predictions

Scholar To Release Daily Facts To Debunk Mayan Calendar Doomsday Predictions

SAN FRANCISCO—Maya Scholar Dr. Mark Van Stone Thursday announced that beginning Nov. 21 and running until Dec. 21, daily emails, texts and web postings will be available to highlight and debunk the many myths that have been perpetuated about the upcoming end of the Maya calendarin 36 days.

Fill out our Maya Myth Debunk Sign Up and begin receiving daily factual updates on Nov. 21, 2012 that debunk wild doomsday or bliss out predictions cast upon the ancient Maya..

Available through the publisher of his book for iPad, 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, Dr. Van Stone said each daily update will feature one of the more common “predictions” that have been wrongly projected onto the Maya, and answered with helpful resources to debunk them.

“There are dozens of misconceptions, myths and just plain wrong pseudo-scientific claims that have been cast upon the innocent Maya and now that we’re under 40 days before the end of their calendar, I expect them to grow in number,” Dr. Van Stone said.  “To counter the non-sense, we have assembled a list of 30 myths and we’re going to focus on educating the public on how wrong they are.”

Among the chief misconceptions Van Stone said he will address are:

  • The frequent misuse of the Aztec Calendar Stone to represent the Maya calendar
  • The galactic alignment will cause the earth to be sucked into the heart of the universe
  • Massive pole shifts will cause major magnetic disruptions around the world
  • There will be massive earthquakes
  • We will enter a new era of blissful human consciousness

To subscribe to the daily messages, parents, teachers, and children who are hearing about the predictions and are concerned, can visit ClaxtonCreative.com and register to receive daily emails, texts, or can log on to read more.

“We want to get the word out to the public. Already we’re hearing daily from parents who say their son or daughter heard something at school and are very scared about what’s going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012,” Dr. Van Stone said. “As a scholar, but even more importantly, as a father myself, I feel there’s a duty to ensure as many people get the right information about this as is possible. There is so much bad information out there. In many ways it’s become sickening.”

Van Stone is recognized internationally and in the field of Maya studies as one of four Maya scholars who have written a book about the 2012 phenomena that should be taken seriously.

In August, he released his first book for iPad, which is 179 pages long, has 53 videos of 14 additional Maya scholars, four 3D animations, and hundreds of interactive multi-touch images.

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Books for iPad Now Have Puzzles!

It made me smile when I saw for the first time that books for iPad now can have puzzles.

In Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, we used the iBook-Widgets.com app to build one of Tortuguero Monument 6, one of the most important elements in all of Maya prophecy.  In the book we’re wrapping up, There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse, we’re including one of the book’s cover.  In What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books for iPad, we also included one of the cover.

They’re very easy to make and they’re even more fun to try to solve.

The good thing about them, is that they add interactivity to your book.  They’re also challenging, as you have to figure out the right pattern and movements to make the things all come back together.

And that’s part of what Apple likes most about them. They fit the requirement for what these books are all about–interactivity.

Want to see how one works?  Easy.  Just download What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad–it’s free here on ClaxtonCreative.com. Also check out the other cool aspects we’ve been featuring and highlighting here on the site.

Do you have a book you’re ready to submit? We invite you to fill out the submission form and let us take a look.

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Books for iPad–interactive images for iBooks Author

Books for iPad–interactive images for iBooks Author

Some call them “timelines” or “interactive images for iBooks Author.”  We say “scrubbers” or “sliders.” Apple says they’re “multi-touch images” for iPad.

How about we just call them cool graphics that tell a story you can’t tell in a traditional book?

What am I talking about? With books for iPad and widgets made for iBooks Author, you can now display multi-layered images, link them together in a squential form, and most importantly, require interactive particpation by the reader.

Typically these images feature a progressive series of photographs, drawings, images and illustrations that one rubs their finger on from left to right and that changes the image from one frame to the next.

One of the best things we found about “scrubber/slider” images was the amount of real-estate we saved on the pages of a “book.”  With maps of where Mesoamericans lived, Dr. Mark Van Stone’s print edition of 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya showed only four frames and took up two, entire printed pages to display his maps.  With the widget we created for his book for iPad, we included close to 20 different frames and it took up only one screen/page in the book.  Nearly five times as much material was presented in half the amount of space.

Earlier this year we began working with the founder of iBooks-Widgets.com from Belgium. He has a great widget-maker for these kinds of interactive images.  Another option is classwidgets.com, now being rebranded as bookry.com.

What is required to make these images is a graphics package that allows you to add levels to an image and turn them on and off accordingly, while also keeping the same registration for the image so as one scrubs from one image to the next, the image does not seem to “bounce” from frame to frame. The best thing we’ve used for this is the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite version of CS6’s Photoshop.

The great thing about “scrubbers” or “sliders” is that they require participation from the reader to change. They’re not going to loop or change on their own, which means a reader is going to interact, and hopefully, take a closer look at the evolving imagery unfolding before them.

And word of caution for those of you out there thinking about creating a book for iPad made with iBooks Author.

We’ve seen comments about Apple rejecting or sending books for iPad back to authors who aren’t adding this kind of thing into their work. The idea of a book for iPad, after all, is that it has interactivity.

If you don’t add anything that requires your reader to interact and thereby learn from it, you might as well still be making a book for Kindle or Nook.

See our point?!

Ready To Submit Your Work?

We’re a Dallas-based publishing company of books for iPad and would enjoy the opportunity to evaluate your next book and create a book for iPad. Just fill out of the form above on this site and we’ll be back in touch with you immediately to talk about the process of moving forward.

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Books for iPad and iBooks Author Video

Books for Ipad Now Can Include Video

Another one of the most amazing aspect of books for iPad s the capability brought about by the iBooks Author Video widget.

In our opinion, it’s really hard to decide if 3D animations or videos are the most compelling interactive feature of this new form of book.  Really, at this point, you don’t want to publish a book for iPad without them both.  On one hand you could say leaving out one of these ingredients would be like not putting icing on a cake, but really, it’d be more like trying to make a cake and not using flour or even sugar.

From The Opening Of A Book For Ipad You Know This Is Different

In iBooks Author, a publisher has the option to open a book with a video. The video is actually embedded in the opening trigger mechanism of the book and starts immediately. For Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, we even added TA-DA music for when the video cues up just to add to the surprise of someone not expecting it.

To play on iPad, videos within the book are specially formatted. In our 2012 book, that allowed for us to add as much as two hours worth of clips from 15 Maya scholars all adding to the value of the book in ways that words and pictures are not able.

Because of the Retina Screen, videos can be HD, but we found saving them at a lower bit rate makes the file size smaller and even on a Retina Screen, you really can’t tell the difference.

iBooks 3 Update

With the iBooks 3 update from October 2012, in the iBooks 3 app, controls have been added for video navigation for the opening video clip. This was a good update as the only way to get back to the beginning of the opening clip before was to either let it finish playing and start over, or exit the book in iBooks 2, then reopen it.  It was a pain and we heard complaints.

Having video in books for iPad shows that Apple has recognized that in our ever-increasingly visually oriented world, video in books is not only logical but also necessary and preferred.

Done right, readers can get more out of their books if they have video references to use.

Thinking Different

The inclusion of videos in a book for iPad requires a different thinking process in writing a digital book.

Before books for iPad, an author would have to focus on telling their story or providing all their information within the text of a book. Now, it’s necessary to understand a little about video production, visual locations, backdrops, ambient noise, lighting and more. And while an author can do these things on their own, this is why a publishing/production company like ours can save time and money, and ensure the product looks as professional as possible.

Ready To Submit Your Manuscript?

We are a publisher of books for iPad in Dallas, Texas, USA. But we can make these books for anyone in any country on the planet. If you’re ready to submit a manuscript for production, please go to the form link above and submit your book today. Yes, you can try to do this yourself, but we look at it like this.  With changes in software, most people now can get access to software like Photoshop, too, but you know what?  That doesn’t mean what’s going to get produced is going to be expert quality.

That’s what we provide at Claxton Creative.  We’ve done several of these books for iPad now, and we’ve worked with the traditional book publishing world.  Add to that our experience in video and audio production, graphics and now 3D animation.

Working with us frees up the opportunity for you as the author to concentrate on telling your story in a new way, and we work on the nitty gritty details and technical aspects.  Trust us, that’s a lot to figure out.

 

 

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