Saturday, 2 November 2013

Apologia pro screw-up sua

(And apologies for using apologia as if it meant 'apologies'. When Newman used it for Apologia pro Vita Sua it meant something more like explanation or justication or vindication – a word that reminds me of Borges' 'Biblioteca de Babél', where people search ceaselessly for the possible book that is a Vindicación of their own life. But I digress. In other news, to quote a recent tweet, bears shit in the woods.)

Loyal followers of #WVGTbook will have downloaded earlier versions. V2.0, which I released last April, is the only one that has been reviewed. When I published V3.0 (or maybe V2.1... the details aren't significant) I made it a new title, and the same for future work-in-progress releases.

But in the case of V5.0 I wanted to 'recapture' the V2.0 reviews, so I resurrected the old ASIN. Little did I...

In the first 3 days of the free promotional period there were fewer than 50 downloads (in comparsion with well over 100 for V1.0 (probably more  – I hadn't learned by then to drive Amazon's reports, and was only counting downloads from one site [120 from]). I put this down to dwindling interest (hard to credit, but not beyond the bounds of possibility).

But a message from my sister in Florida put me wise to my error. She said Amazon wouldn't let her download the new book because she had already downloaded it last April. This suggests that the 50-odd downloads so far are from new readers, and that old lags are rewarded – like many bank customers – with an official 'Available for new accounts only'.

O me miserum! (or as Steinbeck's Lenny said 'I did a wrong thing, George').

I don't know how to fix this. But in my many years in the world of software engineering (but as a dilettante, or 'technical writer') I've often been helped by engineers fixing problems I had with intractable (not to say pig-headed) computers. The fixes often involved doing things differently (or 'exercising an alternate code-path', as I learnt not to say). There's more than one way to skin a cat, and some code-paths may involve the computer forgetting V2.0; with any luck, you can exploit a hitherto undiscovered bug. (And there's a juicy digression... no).

So here's what I'd try:

  • Delete the earlier download and reboot. With any luck, Amazon's memory depends on the presence of the old download; but this may not be enough.
    This one works, so you needn't bother with ....
    In which case...
  • Use a different device. You can download to a laptop or PC (as Amazon gives you a free reader). Instructions are here
    But Amazon's memory of V2.0 may be specific to an account rather than to a device, in which case...
  • Download to a different account. If you have access to a Significant Other's account, or if you have set up distinct accounts for distinct purposes, this should be relatively easy. For those instructions I set up a new account. If all else fails...
  • Try one of these mirror sites:
    (For all I know they all map to the same database somewhere in that Great Amazon Delta in the Sky [not sure where that metaphor came from, but I suspectt rain forests and clouds came into it], but any different way of getting to the same place has the potential to fool the computer into thinking the world is different.)

Try these, and if I don't get a quick increase in downloads I'll resubmit (in which case the reviews will be lost to posterity).



Update 2013.11.02.17:15 – Added list of mirror sites [now defunct]
Update 2013.11.05.10:15 – Added first (most obvious) fix. It's too late now anyway, but just for completeness...
Update 2013.11.08.10:15 – Added PS
Update 2013.11.09.15:15 – Added PPS

PS Vindication of 5.1

'Nuff said. (Well, too much if I'm honest. All hell is about to break loose, courtesy of SSE: 'planned outage'. Which, as a friend once said, is American for outrage.)
OK, a bit of analysis for the ones that like words. The glitch I was trying to address (not being able to download) affected my sister in Florida but not my son in  Leeds. From this I reckon that downloads from the  .com site may be more significant than others.

In V5.0's 5 days there were 30 downloads from the .com server. InV5.1's 2 days there were more than 50 – more than 4 times as many, pro rata.

But, even assuming my guess about the significance of the .com server is wrong, the total figures are persuasive enough: V5.0. <60 in 5 days versus V5.1 >60 in 2 days.

 I rest my keyboard.

Update 2014.05.06.20:55 – Added STOP PRESS (to the list of possible fixes)

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 40.700 views  and nearly 5,700 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,1

00 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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