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Friday Report: July 3, 2020

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the U.S., and all I can say is: Oh boy, hey hey, it’s a national holiday. Our family will be celebrating in the traditional way (staying at home and watching Hamilton on Disney Plus).

This week I managed to trim my Take Control to-do list from 103 items down to 98, and I made some headway on a couple more tasks. The level of difficulty varies wildly from one item to the next, and given the complexity of what I’ve been tackling recently, I’m pleased with my progress. I also got a bit more writing done on the new edition of my iCloud book, and did some testing and writing on Big Sur, too. Meanwhile, our other authors are already buckling down on various new and updated books to cover the fall operating systems, and I’m anticipating quite a few releases in the coming months. I also recorded an episode of David Ginsburg’s In Touch with iOS podcast, discussing the challenges of using an iPad as a primary computing device.

The End (of SummerFest) Is Nigh

SummerFest 2020 is now into its final week, and the response has been really gratifying. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far! The sale runs through July 8, so you still have a few more days to save on a variety of great Mac apps, plus save 30% on all full-price Take Control books using coupon code summerfest2020.

Tips for Better Experiences on Our Site

Even though I still have many plenty of bugs to fix and features to add, our new-ish (year-old) site is, on the whole, way way better than the old one it replaced. We process thousands of orders every month, and for most customers the process is smooth and painless. Nevertheless, the feedback I receive suggests that a nontrivial number of people are getting hung up in a few common spots, so I wanted to offer some advice for having the best experience possible:

  • Avoid duplicate purchases. It never ceases to astonish me how frequently—despite our efforts to prevent this problem—people buy an ebook from us that they already purchased (days, weeks, or months previously), and after realizing their mistake, ask for a refund of the duplicate purchase. This happens, consistently, at least several times per week, and it’s frustrating for everyone. The best way to prevent this problem is to always log in when you visit our site—before you add anything to your cart—by filling in the Email and Password fields at the top of the page. Once you’re logged in, we know what books you’ve ordered in the past, and we’ll display a “You Own It!” label instead of an “Add to Cart” button for anything you already have. (Logging in also has other benefits, about which, see below.)

  • Understand your account. If you’re a returning customer, you have an account with us (whether you realize it or not), because we create it automatically when you place an order. An account lets you return to our site whenever you like and re-download previous orders, or download them in different formats. We also show you any discounted upgrades or crossgrades you’re entitled to. Go to your Library page to view and download all your books, see if any updates are available, and check for special offers. You can change your name, email address, password, or contact preference on the Account Details page.

    If you never chose a password, if you’ve lost or forgotten your password, or if the password you used on our old site no longer works, it’s easy to set (or reset) your password—just fill out this form.

    Very importantly, note that it’s both unnecessary and impossible to create an account without ordering a book. As our site is currently designed, an account would serve no purpose for someone who isn’t already a customer. So, if you’ve never ordered something from us before, just ignore those login fields! Add stuff to your cart, check out, and you’ll get an account automagically.

  • Check for updates. We treat our books like software: when we make a small update, the new version is free, and when we make a large update to a new edition, existing owners get a big discount, while people who purchased the previous edition recently (typically, within about the previous 90 days) get the new one for free. To see all available updates in one place, log in and go to your Library page. To check for updates to an individual book, click the “Ebook Extras” badge on the cover of the PDF; or, for EPUB or Mobipocket formats, go to the “About This Ebook” chapter near the end, look under the “Ebook Extras” heading, and click the “access extras related to this ebook” link.

  • Check your spam folder. When you place an order, we immediately send you one or more email messages. If you ordered anything that wasn’t free, you’ll get a receipt from FastSpring. You’ll get a second email that contains the download links for whatever you bought. And, if this is your first purchase from us, you’ll get a third message telling you about your new account. But occasionally, for whatever reason, one or more of these messages goes into a spam folder. We’ve even had customers who got the receipt just fine but then said they never got the second email with the download links, when in fact it had just been marked as junk mail. We’ve also had customers ask questions and complain that we never answered, when in fact the answer was sitting in their spam folder all along. So please…check your spam or junk mailbox before concluding that we didn’t send you an email message you were expecting! And be sure to mark the messages you receive from us as “Not Junk” (or whitelist to reduce the likelihood of future messages going astray.

  • Find answers easily. We regularly update several pages on our site with helpful information, and I recommend checking there first for any questions. There’s our general-purpose FAQ, our Device Advice page (with instructions for downloading, reading, and syncing our books on various mobile devices), and our Account Help page (with more information on the kinds of things I covered just above).

Stay Safe Out There.

That’s it for this week. Until next time, wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t play with fireworks, and be excellent to each other.