• iBooks proprietary ePub3 format

    After the announcment from Apple and its new iBooks 2 for iOS and the new iBooks Author for Mac, I just wanna give you a sneak peek inside the new textbook format and compare it to the ePub standard.

    Comparison of iBooks VS ePub

    1. File extension

    iBooks:

    First of all what you get by exporting your freshly written textbook as iBooks, is a file with the ibooks extension.

    ePub:

    The normal file extension is epub.

    2. Mimetype

    iBooks:

    The textbook format has a mimetype of application/x-ibooks+zip

    ePub:

    Here we have application/epub+zip


    3. Directory structure

    iBooks:

    Describing the contents of the book with all its files, Apple uses the OPS directory and inside the normal *.opf file outlining the structure of this book. Inside this folder there is also an extra container called assets. This is where all the “magic” is happening. You can find CSS, Javascript, SVG.

    • assets
      • CSS
      • hints
      • images
      • ncxExtensions.xml
      • search
      • svg
      • thumbs

    Only looking inside the ncxEntensions.xml file unveils a normal Apple Properties PLIST. That means, no ePub 3 standard.

    Look inside the search folder. There are files used for fast searching, not only for the written words, but also to the stem of the word. All precalculated on the powerful Mac hardware, instead the iPad itself.

    The META-INF directory is the same like in ePub.

    ePub:

    There are no SVG or search folders.

    Conclusion

    As we can see, Apple extended the ePub format and by changing not only the file extension but also the mime type, the resulting textbook is only readable by iBooks. You can try to change the ibooks extension to epub and sometime your ePub reader will open that file, but the result is not good looking.

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  • Firefox Plugin-container.exe slowing down system

    I have a Windows XP running in a virtual machine and lately I saw this machine running on 100 percent usage while browsing the web with firefox 3.6.12. I looked in the task manager and found a process named plugin-container.exe slowing down my system with nearly 65 percent system usage. Thats not nice to browse with. But I managed to get rid of it.

    This process comes from firefox and is there to prevent the browser hang up, if any plugin is crashing. So you should not deactivate it unless you have a good reason for it, like me.

    So here is, how I managed to deactivate it in firefox.

    • Open a new tab and go to about:config
    • in the filter bar type „dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.npswf32.dll“
    • double click the entry to change it from true to false
    • restart firefox and be happy
    That’s it.

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  • Thoughts on how much it cost to develop our iPhone application

    Yesterday I read the answer from Twitterific Craig Hockenberry on the question „How much does it cost to develop an iPhone application?“. This made me think of our developing costs for YellowThing Sprachtrainer.

    Here is our situation:
    We are two developers, both of us were new to Objective-C and we are developing in our free time. So we started our first run on iPhone back in February by testing all developer tools and learning the basics from Objective-C. After we got that basic understanding, we started with our real App „YellowThing Sprachtrainer“ on the end of March and got the first version finished in late July. All the time each of us worked about 30 hours a month on developing, designing and testing.
    So our final hours on the first App for the iPhone are about 60h for both through 5 and a half month. This sums up for 330 hours of work for that project. The rest of the time we were busy on founding the company and registering with the Apple developer program. So far we had no client work, so I can’t calculate with the price for that. But if I underly the price on $120 per hour as a mid practiced Objective-C developer, the bill would be 330h * $120 makes $39,600. And that does not include the cost for all the drawings and the speaker. This would be another 50 hours * $120, counting in at $6000.
    So I come to a cost for that iPhone App at about $45,600. Nothing less.

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  • Directory listing under apache

    Some servers have a very strict web server configuration, where directory listing is not allowed. If you have no access to any configuration you that does not matter, you can simply add an .htaccess file into your directory you wish to have directory listing and write the following line into it.

    Options +Indexes

    That’s it.

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  • RapidWeaver as an website editor tool

    About two month ago I bought the MacHeist Nano Bundle 2. I noticed the included RapidWeaver, but it was not the reason I bought that bundle, so I left it aside.

    Meanwhile I develop an iPhone game and wanted to setup a website for it. At this point I stumbled upon RapidWeaver and I must say, I love it. There are so much possibilities and tons of themes and plugins. And it’s so easy to create great looking sites for the web. Thats much better then hacking your code for a website in a simple editor or even eclipse.

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  • Perian – Video Codecs for the Mac

    I recently bought an iMac and as I use it I love it more and more. I learn a lot of new stuff that I also want to share with you. So I will start a new Category that is called MACHELP. Get ready for the first tip.

    I have a lot of home videos I filmed with my Digital Hi8 camcorder and after editing I encoded most videos in xVid. So I wanted to watch those videos on my new iMac. Apparently there is no out of the box playing that kind of videos on a Mac, so I had to search for something I also knew from the PC-World. I needed a codec pack for video and audio to playback.

    And I didn’t had to search long, I found one Codec Pack that fits my needs on the official Apple site. It is called Perian, it’s free and it works quite well.

    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/perian_christopherforsythe.html

    So if you have any probelms with video or audio playback try Perian. If you know another one, feel free to post a comment.

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  • Google Tasks And To-Do List Going Mobile

    A couple of months ago, Google launched Tasks in the Google Mail Lab. Unfortunately, you couldn’t take those tasks with you and check them from your mobile phone. Well, now it’s possible and Google also added something special for iPhone and Android users. Those users get the ability to add, edit and delete items from within the mobile device.

    All you need is mentioned in a requirements list.

    You have to do is enable Tasks  in Google Mail Labs. If you do, you can view tasks, add new tasks, and also check them off as all taken care of. Any changes to Tasks you make via your mobile phone are reflected in your Google Mail account.

    You can watch a little Tutorial for the iPhone from googles youtube channel.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbiMbmq3JG4

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  • Installing Adobe AIR on linux and enjoying twitter

    Today I had to work on my linux server, which runs with Ubuntu 8.04 and is also my developer machine for some stuff. The first thing I didn’t wanted to miss was twitter. And as I got used to thwirl, it was my first job to set it up on Linux.

    The first question that comes in mind is, is there an Adobe AIR for linux. Lucky me there is one at http://www.adobe.com/products/air/ . So here we go and follow the button that says “Get ADOBE AIR” and we will be prompted for the right thing. Download the binary file and open up a console window.

    In the console we go to the place where we downloaded the binary file and type in:
    $ chmod u+x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

    This changes the mode for that file, so we can execute it. Now typing
    $ ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

    and we will be prompted to enter our password for a root privileged user to install Adobe AIR on the linux box.

    Ok the first step is made to use Twitter with thwirl on linux. In the next step we install thwirl. Therefor we download the thwirl AIR application from http://www.twhirl.org/ . The rest is easy. We just have to install it after downloading with a double click.

    This one is so hot, that even thwirl.org does not know that it works on linux too. So enjoy and follow me on Twitter @mayads.

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  • Setting up a Subversion Repository

    This little tutorial for setting up a svn repository on a linux box is for all the new developers out there. It doesn’t matter if you are coding in in C++, Rails, PHP or what so ever. For other docs its also a good thing to have them versioned, so you don’t have to save several copies of your docs in ordinary folders. The differences of two Microsoft Word documents for example can be viewed in Word too.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Could the next Android phone from HTC may look like this?

    The tech blog Gizmodo got a huge views today by publishing a story that shows purported images of the next Android phone from G1 maker HTC. The possible G2  is thinner and has no QWERTY keyboard.

    The lack of new Android phones being announced, such suggestion come all way long. With barely a rumor to sate our thirst for Android exclusives, CES was a bitter disappointment. No new phones were announced during the biggest gadget trade show in North America.

    But now we have some juicy spy shots to look at. The images show a phone  that looks very similar to the HTC G1, but has major differences.

    The phone is much thinner than the G1, because the slide-out QWERTY keyboard is gone. This is definitely a good thing. It keeps the track ball below the touch display, but re-arranges the buttons a bit. The back is smooth, and shows a 3.2 megapixel camera. The image that shows a screen shot reveals a home screen that is nearly identical to that of the G1.

    The pictures look like they could be legit, but you never know. You can see the pictures four yourself.

    Maybe we can see it in about 4 month, this is the suggested arrival for this device.

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