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App Review: Shakespeare Pro

shakespeare-pro.pngIf you’re a Shakespeare buff like I am, you probably like having all of the Bard of Stratford’s works on your iPad or iPhone. It’s great to be able to dip into a play or poem when you have some down time, or when you’re waiting for an appointment.

You can download free or paid ebooks of Shakespeare’s works, but most of them are poorly designed (even those ebooks made by the big publishers). Or, you can spend $10 on Shakespeare Pro, and get all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems in one versatile app.

To start with, this app includes all of the plays, including those which Shakespeare may have collaborated on (Sir Thomas More, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Edward III, etc.). View a play, and you see something like this:

2014-08-30 16.16.39.png

As you can see above, a number of words are underlined; tap these, as I’ve done for “hap,” and you’ll see a note. The glossary comes from David and Ben Crystal’s excellent Shakespeare’s Words, so there’s nothing that you won’t be able to define with a tap. (You can turn off the underlining if wish.)

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iCloud Documents Locked when Using Yosemite Beta

Ah, iCloud. If you had a buck for every time I had a problem with you, I’d be sitting on a nest egg.

Like a lot of people in my profession – and 1 million testers of the public beta – I installed pre-release versions of OS X 10.10 Yosemite to get a head start on it before it ships. I did this in a virtual machine, using VWware Fusion. About ten days ago, I noticed that I wasn’t able to access iCloud documents on some of my devices. I contacted Apple’s support, who escalated this to third-tier support person, who looked into it and found that my documents were “locked” on iCloud. He had never seen this.

He asked if I was running Yosemite, and I said that I was, but that I made sure to not turn on iCloud Drive, because Apple’s release notes for Yosemite say this:

Migrating to iCloud Drive will disable Documents & Data syncing for your iCloud account on OS X Mavericks and earlier Macs, as well as iOS 7 and earlier devices.

When that person called me back a second time to try some troubleshooting, we found that the documents had unlocked themselves (or someone in the support chain had done it, but he couldn’t find out if anyone had acted on my iCloud account). I went back to Yosemite a few weeks ago, and signed in with Apple ID to get email and see how Mail looked in 10.10. I expressly did not turn on iCloud Drive, nor any of the other settings in the iCloud preference pane.

Alas, my documents are again locked on iCloud. Data – contacts and calendars – syncs fine, but I cannot access documents, and if I open a document with, say, Numbers on my Mac Pro, I see this alert:


I spoke with the same Apple support person today, and he said there’s nothing he can do about it. He got an email saying that there will soon be changes to iCloud, and that, for now, they can’t touch iCloud accounts. (This suggests that we’ll see changes to iCloud’s back-end when OS X 10.9.5 is released, before Yosemite.)

So, a warning. If you’re testing Yosemite, don’t sign into iCloud. If you have to sign into iCloud, then create a new Apple ID. The same goes for iOS 8; be very careful what you do, because you may find that you can no longer access your documents on iCloud.

French Music Streaming Service Qobuz in Dire Financial Straits

Qobuz, a French digital music retailer and streaming service, has been placed in protection by the courts in France, in a procedure similar to chapter 11 protection in the US. This site, which is one of the only sites offering lossless streaming, and which is available in several countries in Europe, just launched its service in the UK, and is planning, at some point, to launch in the US.

In my last months in France, I subscribed to Qobuz, and they’re one of the best streaming sites for classical music. They offer high-quality music – if you want to pay a bit more, you can stream lossless – and liner notes. As a retailer, they have a large catalog, and use most of this catalog (those labels willing to allow streaming) for their streaming service. They even offer a classical-only streaming subscription.

Alas, Qobuz found Yves Riesel, in a statement in French, vaguely defends this decision, saying that it will help stabilize cash flow and allow the company to be reorganized. There is no mention made of either the free streaming competition, or record labels and their demands. The French business newspaper Les Echos says that they only have 25,000 subscribers, and an annual turnover of €9 million, but doesn’t say if that turnover is just for streaming, or whether it includes digital music sales as well.

In this article on the website, Yves Riesel says “Our biggest mistake seems to be being French and being crushed by the Orange-Deezer bulldozer…” Orange is a large phone company and ISP in France, who offers subscriptions to Deezer free with certain plans.

I have also been informed by sources in the classical record industry that the physical distributor Abeille Musique, created by Yves Riesel, and owned, like Qobuz, by LyraMediaGroup SA, is in the same situation.

This doesn’t bode well for an upstart streaming service, but I think, in the long term, it won’t be easy for anyone to fight off Spotify, and now Apple, who should soon be embarking on a similar service. Qobuz is great for streaming classical music, but that market is so small, it may not be viable to have the infrastructure for such a service at an affordable price.

Apple Revamps iTunes Store Power Search Feature

A few months ago, I pointed out a semi-secret way to search the iTunes Store using the hidden iTunes Store power search feature. This is a useful way to search the iTunes Store, because you can choose to search specific types of content, and search in specific tags, such as Artist, Actor, Author and more.

The iTunes Store power search had a foreboding look to it back then:


Apple has changed this interface recently, and it looks more welcoming now:


They’ve also gussied up the search results. I don’t have a screen shot to show how they looked before, but I’m sure they didn’t look quite like this:


So it seems clear that the iTunes Store power search is not going away. While it’s still hard to find – there’s no direct link to it from any iTunes Store pages – it looks like Apple has been cleaning it up a bit, perhaps with the intention of making it more visible in the future.

Doug Adams has updated his iTunes power search AppleScript to allow a search by kind.

The Committed Podcast Discusses Kindle, with Scott McNulty

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I welcome writer and podcast Scott McNulty, aka Blankbaby, the man with 14 Kindles. We talk about the history of the Kindle, the way we each read ebooks (or not), and the future of ebook readers.

Listen to The Committed, Episode 47: Taco Prime.

Learn About Apple’s Useful and Little-Known Personal Support Profile Pages

You’ve got a Mac, an iPhone, maybe an iPad or two in your household, and you have a problem. Maybe one of them’s got a cracked screen, and you want to find out if it’s still under warranty (and what that warranty covers). Maybe one of them won’t start up, and you want to find out what to do. Maybe you just have a question that requires an Apple expert. Turns out you can find out all that and more in one place—a place that a lot of Apple users have never heard of.

You probably know about Apple’s standard Support website. But I’m betting you haven’t been to your own personal Support Profile page. There, you can view a list of all of your Apple products, check their warranty coverage, access troubleshooting resources, and contact Apple’s support team. Here’s how to take advantage of all that.


Read the rest of this article on Macworld.

Discover your “Hidden” Kindle Books Page

If you’re a Kindle user, you know that you can manage your Kindle library on your Amazon account page. There’s a link that says Manage Your Kindle:


This takes you to a page where you can see your content and your devices, and alter some settings related to your Kindle account page. From the Your Content section, you can choose to deliver a book to one of your devices, but you can just as easily download it from the device itself. You can also delete the book, clear the furthest page read, and more.

But there’s a secret, “hidden” Kindle page which is much more useful. Go to, sign in, and see how much more information you get.

Click Your Books, and see all your books, what your reading status is for each one (whether you’re currently reading, finished, etc.), rate books, and set whether you want your notes to be public.

One thing available from this page that you cannot access any other way is Your Highlights. This lists all the passages you’ve highlighted in all your books, and you can copy them. Since there’s no way to copy text from a Kindle book, this is a good way to get bits of text if you need them for, say, a report or article.


You can also follow people from this page, but I’ve never really felt this to be useful. Perhaps you want to follow famous authors and read their notes and highlights, or just see what your friends are reading; as long is this information is made public.

While some of the information on this page is the same as that on the Manage Your Kindle page, the main attraction here is highlights. As far as I know, this is the only way to access them in copyable form. Check out this page; you might find it useful.

Move a Dropbox Sub-Folder to an External Hard Drive

Since I now have 1 TB storage with Dropbox, I can’t use all that storage on the startup drive of my Mac Pro, which is only 256 GB. So I was looking for a way to move one of my sub-folders – a Backup folder – to another disk.

Jeff Carlson, over at TidBITS, explained how to do this in an article from last year, How to Relocate a Dropbox Subfolder to Another Disk.

I’d recommend quitting Dropbox first, then moving the folder as Jeff explains. You can do this with Terminal:

mv [folder-path] [new-enclosing-folder]

where folder-path is the current path of the sub-folder in Dropbox, and new-enclosing-folder is the folder in which you want to move it.

This freed up a Backups folder which, currently, was about 12 GB, but which will get a lot larger, as I can now back up so much more data to Dropbox. Since it’s all backups, I don’t need access to it in the Dropbox folder itself; I’ll only need to access it if I every lose any of the files locally.

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