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The trials and tribulations of self-publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing - the paperback story

I have written a book. It took me a while, and over the past few weeks I have been negotiating Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing system to get my book to market. Amazon seemed the best place to go, given its reach in the marketplace and the maturity of the publishing framework. There is copious advice on all stages of the process, which in the case of a printed book requires a properly configured Word or PDF file. You also need a cover and back cover, for which you can choose from templates or design your own. I did the latter, using an outline template to ensure correct positioning of all the elements. Fiddly but achievable in my Photoshop Elements application.

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Echo & Alexa

I bought the Amazon Echo earlier this week on a bit of a whim. Amazon had reduced the price from £149.99 to £99.99, but that's still expensive of course. I thought that this was a permanent reduction, but checking the Amazon site today it has reverted to the higher price.

Set up was fairly painless using the app on iOS. Reviews of the said app weren't great, but this perhaps relates more to accessing content than the set up process. Having signed in with your Amazon details you first need to connect to the Echo's WiFi network, which appears in the available WiFi connections in iOS Settings. This done you need to connect to your own WiFi. At this point I did have a problem in that Echo failed to connect to my BT Hub, which was literally right next to it. The Amazon help information recommended that I switch Echo off, and then power up again. After this going through the process worked.

Amazon Echo with Alexa

Having spoken to Alexa and tried a few simple commands, next I set up the two 'Skills' needed to communicate with my recently installed HIVE system. This was painless, and I've tried asking Alexa to increase the temperature. This worked, although while the new temperature was shown on my iOS HIVE app, it didn't alter the target temperature on the physical thermostat. Time will tell how this will perform in practice, but not while the weather is still warm enough to not need the central heating.

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Synchronising 'On My Mac' mail between computers

I have a large archive of old Mail messages filed in mailboxes 'On My Mac', as distinct from those messages that remain synchronised through the active IMAP accounts. For a long while now I've been rather laboriously keeping my MacBook up to date with the 'On My Mac' archive on my iMac. In earlier versions of Mail I was able occasionally to copy the entire Mail folder from one to the other but with the latest version of Mail this fails. I have, therefore, been flagging on my iMac the messages I copy into the archive and then occasionally moving these flagged messages from the live IMAP accounts into the equivalent archive on the MacBook. There had to be a better way.

Last weekend I took the plunge and created a copy of the iMac archive on iCloud, while at the same time doing some housekeeping to remove messages that were no longer worth keeping. This took quite a few hours as I moved the messages mailbox by mailbox. My archive has quite a number of mailboxes for different categories of message, as well as child mailboxes under some of these, further categorising the content.

On My Mac & iCloud archives

Having done this I can now copy a message to the relevant archive mailbox on my iMac and then immediately move the message into the corresponding mailbox on iCloud. The added bonus is that not only can I access these messages on my MacBook from iCloud, but I can now also access them from my iPad and iPhone. It was a bit of a chore to set it up but this should save me quite a lot of time going forward and also means that when I choose to take only my iPad on a trip, I can still get to my archived messages.

CropSize - image editing app

These days I tend not to travel with my Apple MacBook and instead try to do everything on my iPad. This has limitations but I've worked around most of them. However, one thing I hadn't been able to do was resize images, as even the popular Snapseed app doesn't offer this option. I've now found CropSize, which offers resizing, cropping and effects. There were no reviews at the App Store so I took a gamble and paid my £3.99.

This app is really well presented and offers great flexibility with intuitive and novel controls. There are both preset and custom resizing and cropping options, while the effects can be selected from thumbnails with each having slide of switch controls.

It's worth a try if you need to edit images on an iPad.

CropSize - Photo Resize & Crop to Exact Image Size by Khutarshchykau A



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