Saturday, 11 February 2012

My iBook is Published!

Yesterday when I logged into my account in iTunes Connect, I discovered that my iBook had been released in 32 countries. This is my first iBook and I have written it in my second language, Indonesian, with the help of my two children Taruli and John.

You can download your copy of the book via iTunes. Here is the link to the Australian store

My iBook is called 'Lomba Kapal' which means Boat Race. It is a story about my children racing origami paper boats in the river near my house. I took the photos and videos with my iPhone on the morning that the iBooks Author app was released. I then spent the next two days working on the story and the layout. I was determined to keep the overall size as low as possible.

In Indonesia I have a very slow Internet connection at my house. I am well aware that accessibility is the most important factor in technology. I wanted to make my iBook easy to download so that others like me with a slow connection can still get it in a reasonable amount of time.

This iBook is just under 18MB and has 15 pages including interactive elements and multimedia.

Here is a screen shot inside the iTunes Store of my iBook and the preview pages.

I think that it is really sad that my book has been released to 32 countries such as US, UK, Australia, Ireland, Czech Repulic, Estonia and others but it is not available in the Indonesian iBookstore.

I asked some of my contacts on Twitter about this. I found out that the iBookstores in Asia do not have any locally produced content in them. I am wondering why this is the case? What has to happen for the iBookstore in each country to be open for locally produced content?

What can I do to open the Indonesian iBookstore for locally produced iBooks?
I have a group of national Indonesian teachers ready to create children's stories.
We need access to the Indonesian iBookstore.

In the meantime, my iBook is for free and I encourage you to download it. It includes interactive pictures, galleries and videos. I have been writing children's stories over the years but this is the first time that I have properly published one. I am hoping to write a whole series about the things that we do as a family.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Waiting ... for my iBook to be Approved

I have blogged about my first attempts to create a storybook using iBooks Author. I was able to create a book of 15 pages over a couple of days. The software is easy to use and feels like a combination between the Mac software Pages and Keynote.

My next task after I had completed the book and had it proof-read was to upload it to iTunes Connect. Itunes Connect requires you to download the software iTunes Producer which enables you to upload your iBook and fill out all the necessary information for publishing.

My first issue was that one of my interactive picture widgets in my book was not working properly. I didn't realize that the word tags in the picture must always stay within the frame. I was able to fix this fairly quickly but I then needed to wait for iTunes Connect to view my book again.

After a few days I sent a message to iTunes Connect to ask what was happening with my iBook. I got an answer within a day. I was told that my book was in the review process and needed to be cleared.

Just yesterday I noticed that my book in iTunes Connect was no longer labelled as 'pending' but was now needing a different review process. This review is for quality. I don't know why my book has been singled out for this review. I am wondering perhaps it is because it is in Indonesian and there might not be anyone in iTunes Connect that can check the language?

I wait patiently for my book to be cleared ....

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Accessibility in iOS - Getting your iPad to Speak

I recently presented a mini workshop about Accessibility in iOS in Bangkok. This is new learning for me. I have had my current iPad 2 for several months and I can't believe that I only just learned that it can read the screen in 36 different built-in languages!

This feature works best with iBooks. This means that you can get your iPad to read your iBook to you. I have my own iBook that I wrote in Indonesian so I decided to test it.

To enable VoiceOver I prefer to use the Triple-click Home method in the Accessibility settings on the iPad. This gives the user greater control to turn the VoiceOver on or off as necessary.

To adjust the speaking rate in the VoiceOver section of the settings slide the setting towards to turtle to make the speech slower.

Before you try using the VoiceOver you will also need to select the languages you wish to make available in the Language Rotor. You can select any languages that you will use. You need to select VoiceOver and then inside that tab you select Language Rotor.

Next open iBooks and open a book that you would like to have read to you. Open the book to the page that you want read. Enable VoiceOver by tapping quickly three times on the home button.

To activate the rotor, tap and hold the screen with two fingers and rotate your fingers. It's a little like turning a dial with two fingers. You will see a dial pop up. You can select the 'language' setting on the dial.

To change between languages you tap the screen as if you are making a check mark. You will hear your iPad call out each language. When you get to the one that you want, tap on the text to hear your iPad read the text aloud.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Accessibility on OSX - making your Macbook Spell

I recently presented a mini workshop about Accessibility on OSX. This is something that I previously didn't have much experience with and I am very grateful to Jane Harris for giving me the following suggestions.

Jane taught me about reverse spelling. A traditional spelling test is when the teacher reads out a list of words for the students to spell. Jane's idea is to reverse this, to get your Macbook to spell out each word. In Lion, the Macbook has a built in feature for speech.

To enable this in Pages you simply highlight the text you want spoken, right click it and select speak.

For spelling, just put a space in between each letter - s p e l l . Your macbook will spell the word.
You can teach your students to create personal spelling lists and then they can get the Macbook to spell out each word whilst they write it down.

You can adjust the speaking speed in the System Preferences settings in the Speech section.

To adjust the speed of the speech you can slide the speaking speed to 'slow'.

Another idea is to create slideshows of vocabulary words in iPhoto. In iPhoto make a folder of images (an Event) and rename each image with the word of the object. You can also add a description which is a sentence that includes the vocabulary word.

Hold down the shift button to select all images and create a new Slideshow.

In the settings make sure that you select 'Show Captions' with Title and Descriptions selected.

You could encourage your students by playing a couple of their visual spelling slideshows each day