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Friday Report: September 25, 2020

Greetings, fellow Earthlings.

This has been a fantastically busy week—we published five books, which is an extraordinary number considering that our usual volume is about three per month. Two of these were by Josh Centers (version 1.1 of Take Control of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 and version 1.4 of Take Control of Notes) and three were by Glenn Fleishman (Take Control of iOS & iPadOS Privacy and Security, Take Control of Your Apple ID, Second Edition, and version 1.2 of Take Control of Wi-Fi Networking and Security). Whew! Congratulations to Josh and Glenn. And, we hope these new and updated books help you as you transition your devices to Apple’s newest operating systems.

Next week we plan to release new versions of Jeff Carlson’s Take Control of Apple Watch and Rosemary Orchard’s Take Control of Shortcuts. And we have nearly two dozen further releases that we’re going to try to get out before the end of the year. We would, of course, love for all our books to be up to date all the time, but even though we’re all typing as fast as we can, it’s going to take a while to churn through this gigantic list. Of course, books about technology nearly always go out of date quickly, but when Apple decides to release five updated operating systems within the space of a month, that puts particular pressure on us since so many of our titles focus on Apple products.

With all this publishing activity, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that I made no progress on my Take Control to-do list, which remains at 85 items. I did, however, take a couple of hours this morning to investigate a bug that appeared seemingly out of nowhere and caused password resets to fail (with an inscrutable and unhelpful error message) for a number of customers. Although I’m still tracking down the underlying cause, I was able to put a workaround in place that will prevent that problem from recurring until I have a proper fix in place.

About the Library Page

As regular Take Control customers know, the Library page—available to anyone who has ordered a book from us and is currently logged in—shows all your past purchases and lets you download them in any format you like. A number of people have complained recently about deficiencies in this page—including, but not limited to:

  • Showing the date you originally purchased an item, not the date on which you most recently paid for an upgrade
  • Having an awkward layout on iPads, iPhones, and other devices with smaller screens
  • Not differentiating initial purchases, free updates, and paid upgrades
  • Having notices of upgrade/crossgrade offers appear beneath the associated item rather than above or next to it
  • Not being able to hide older purchases
  • Taking too many clicks to get to

I could go on, but suffice it to say: I get it. We can and will do better. Ideally, that page will be a model of clarity and helpfulness. These problems account for six of the 85 items on my to-do list, and I will absolutely, positively get to them all. I just can’t promise how soon that will happen because there are 79 other Very Important Tasks on that list, to say nothing of actually writing, editing, and publishing books. Rest assured that I am not slacking off. Slowly but surely, I’m making progress.

Don’t Forget to Log In—Unless You Can’t

I’ve mentioned this before, but it has come up several times this week, so I’ll mention it again. If you’re an existing customer and you log in before adding things to your cart, we can identify books you already own and prevent you from accidentally buying duplicate copies (this happens a lot), or show you discounted upgrades if applicable. If you add stuff to your cart without logging in, we have no way to know who you are or what you already own, so we can’t help steer you in the right direction.

That said, logging in is a concept that applies only to people who have ordered books from us before (free or paid). Despite having designed the site to make it as clear as possible and spelling it out in an FAQ, I keep getting people writing to ask how they can create an account so they can make a purchase. You can’t—but only because that would serve no purpose! Think of an account as a storage container for your books. When you place an order, you automatically get an account! And that’s where your books go. If you never ordered anything from us, an account would serve no purpose because it would have nothing to contain. SO, if you haven’t previously ordered anything from us, just add stuff to your cart and check out. Don’t worry about logging in, because you can’t (and don’t have to). Once you’ve completed your order, you’ll get information about your account by email.

If you’re an existing customer and you don’t log in, we’ll still happily fulfill your order. And, as long as you use an email address that’s already associated with your account, we’ll make sure your new book(s) appear in your Library with previous orders. It’s just that you’ll have a better experience (and possibly save money!) if you do log in first.

On to the Next

Friday nights at our home we usually get takeout food and watch a movie. Tonight: pepperoni pizza and Bill & Ted Face the Music. Catch you next week.