Posted on

Status Update

This is a status update on our new site as of May 22, 2020.

Latest Progress

In recent weeks I’ve fixed quite a few bugs on the site, most of which (thankfully) affected only a small number of people, or involved fairly unusual situations. For example, a few customers put a certain set of books in their cart and checked out, only to find that they weren’t actually charged for one of the books. Free books are nice, but also, our authors need to eat, so I worked my way through a rather obscure logic puzzle to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Even as I cross things off my list, I add more. This time last month I had 99 items on my bug/to-do list, and now, having dealt with several of those, the number is 106! I have to squeeze in work on these in between publishing, editing, writing, marketing, and trying to keep myself and my family healthy and sane. But we’re slowly getting there.

I’d like to call your attention to two things that have recently prompted customer feedback:

  • Apple Pay: Although we’ve had thousands of successful purchases using Apple Pay, a handful of customers have found that it usually or always fails for them. After innumerable discussions with FastSpring about this over nearly a year, we still don’t have a solution, or any immediate hope for one. As best we can tell, the problem lies not with FastSpring itself but with the upstream payment processor they use for Apple Pay transactions, and that provider has been unable to track down what’s going on or even reproduce the problem. So, I’m very sorry to say that if Apple Pay doesn’t work for you, I can’t offer any hope of a fix—you’ll have to switch to a different payment method. There are additional steps we could take, but they would require weeks or months of development time, and that isn’t in the cards right now.
  • Currency: If the checkout page is not showing the currency you want to use, click the flag pop-up menu at the top of the page to choose a different location; currency is tied to geography. If you’re outside the United States but you choose United States as your location so that you can pay in U.S. dollars, you’ll be required to enter a Zip code (for the purposes of computing local/state sales tax, if any). If you don’t have a U.S. address at all, enter 92116. Also note that we have zero control or influence over exchange rates! That is entirely within FastSpring’s domain.

Please give us as much detail as you can when reporting any problem. Screenshots are great! Specific URLs are helpful. Tell us exactly what you clicked or tapped and exactly what you saw on the screen. Messages like “I can’t log in” or “your website sucks” (yes, we have received both of those) don’t tell us anything we can use to diagnose or solve a problem.

Things We’re Working On

Please note that, in addition to what’s on this list, we have many behind-the-scenes issues to deal with, so progress on the items listed here may not occur at the speed (or in the order) one might expect. Please contact us if you have a problem with an order or with accessing your purchases, or if you encounter a major issue not shown here. However, the vast majority of issues will disappear on their own as we work our way through our internal checklists.

Missing or Partially Implemented Features

Here is a partial list of things that worked correctly on our old site but (still) have not yet been fully implemented on this site:

  • Library improvements: The Library page is better than it used to be, but it’s not quite there yet. We want to do a better job of showing you exactly which free and paid updates are available to you and make it easier to figure out what you have and what you need. We now have a detailed plan in place to do that.
  • Check for updates: The Check for Updates pages (which appear when you click the Ebook Extras link in a book) don’t yet show update plans, or the option to register Take Control books purchased from other sites.
  • Customer accounts: The Account details tab lets you view the list of all email addresses associated with your account, but does not yet let you add a secondary email address, change which address is primary, or merge accounts. While we’re working on all of that, if you need to change this information, please contact us and we’ll be glad to change it manually.
  • Bundles: Bundled products (two or more books offered together at a discounted price) are not yet generally available, although there are a few exceptions.
  • Affiliate program: Previously, eSellerate handled Take Control’s affiliate program. With the closing of that service, we’ll be moving to a new affiliate platform, but it isn’t up and running yet.
  • Class copies: The Class Copies page is currently just a placeholder, and does not permit you to place orders for discounted class copies. If you need class copies immediately, please contact us for assistance.
  • Apple Employees and Apple Consultants Network programs: The automated sign-up forms for these two programs are not yet functional, but if you follow a link to one of those pages, you’ll see instructions for signing up manually.
  • Email from us: We have totally replaced our system for sending email (for example, notices of new or updated books), and some major features haven’t been implemented yet.

Known Bugs

Besides the not-fully-implemented features above, we have a number of bugs we’re working through. Here is an incomplete list:

  • Although existing user credentials work for most people, some users are unable to log in with the username and password they used on our old site. If this happens to you, first confirm that your username (email address) was entered correctly. In some cases, password managers (such as 1Password) may fail to fill that in automatically on the new site, because the field name has changed. But if you fill it in manually and submit the form, your password manager should offer to update the record for you. If, despite doing that, your password is not accepted, the quickest and easiest remedy is to use our password reset form—and it’s fine to reset your password to the same one you were using before, if you like.
  • Related to the above, we have had a couple of reports of the password reset mechanism not working as expected. If you get stuck, don’t panic—we can fix it. Please contact us for help.
  • The layout of the site (fonts, sizes, spacing, etc.) is not yet final. In particular, we’re still working to improve the layout for mobile devices with certain combinations of screen size and orientation.
  • The site has not yet been optimized for fast performance, though it’s getting better. Some pages still load more slowly than they should.

Future Features

Our intention is not merely to replicate the features of our old site on our new site, but to add useful capabilities we didn’t have before. Here are some of the things we’re working on for the future that were either impossible or impractical on our old site:

  • Library enhancements: We’ve heard that users with many books would like a way to hide older books from the Library tab of their account page. We’ll see what we can do.
  • Upgrade everything at once: If you’ve bought numerous books from us over the years and want to upgrade all of them to the latest versions, you should be able to do so in a single step.
  • Take Control Prime: Instead of waiting for a sale, wouldn’t it be nice if you could purchase our books at a huge discount any day of the year? We think so too.
  • Print books: We hope to once again offer paperback versions of some of our books in the future, but it’s a multi-step process that will take some time to implement.
  • Better gift purchases: Although you can buy an ebook and send it to a friend today, it’s not terribly convenient for either you or your friend. We’d like to make it much easier to buy our books as gifts.