Tar Heel Shared Reader

New features when creating books

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When writing a book you’ll see a new icon in the upper left of the edit page dialog. Clicking this icon will make a copy of the page you’re currently editing. This can help when you need to say more on a page than will fit in the caption area. Simply duplicate the page and continue your thought.

The maximum image upload has been increased to 10 megabytes.

And I have fixed a bug that caused editing a draft book to fail if you rearranged the pages.

Improved search and a bug fix

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I will release a new version of the software tonight with two changes.

First, you will be able to search for phrases by enclosing your search in double quote characters. For example the search string The Rescue will find books that have the words The and Rescue anywhere while the query string "The Rescue" will only find books that have the two words one after the other.

The second change should fix a bug that has been troubling those of you who are stuck using Internet Explorer. Certain books such as Abraham Lincoln’s Contributions to America would cause an error because of the way the apostrophe in the URL is encoded. I think I have fixed that.

That second change required updating code at the very foundations of the site so, as always, be on the lookout for new bugs.

Users of old browsers rejoice!

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I believe I have fixed a bug that has been tormenting those of you using old versions of Firefox. If you’ve been depending on classic mode, try the site in its modern mode and see if it works better now. As always, report any bugs you see.

Maps are back!

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I’ve got the maps showing where your books have been read working again. They aren’t yet being updated automatically but I’ll try to keep them up to date. Check the map for the whole site and, if you are logged in, for your books at Where are the readers?

You’ll see that the count of books read has jumped up. The old system seriously undercounted books read by the many schools that appear to us as a single IP address. As of Saturday, 02 March 2013 09:22AM our books have been read 5,441,709 times in 179 countries and 52 US states and possessions.

Tar Heel Reader on the iPad, iPod, or iPhone

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To get the most out of Tar Heel Reader on your iOS device, you should run it in App mode. Simply open the site in Safari and click the Share button (box with arrow sticking out of the top) and choose Add to Home Screen. Edit the name if you like, they offer me “Tar Heel Read” so I add the “er” to the end. Click save. Now close Safari and find the button on your Home Screen. For me, it appeared on page 2. Click that and the site will open up like an App and have access to the full screen.

When reading a book you can change pages by touching the Next and Back buttons or by “swiping” left or right. Just touch the screen and move your finger left to turn to the next page.

Big Changes Lookout for Bugs

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We have made big changes to the internals of the site to make it work better on the iPad, iPod and iPhone but the changes could break anything for anyone. If you see problems today it may well be something we introduced but did not find in our testing.

Please report any bugs you see

Changes include:

  1. Better support for VoiceOver. We’re hoping to make it work well enough that children who are visually impaired will be able to use the site.
  2. If you run in App mode on the iPad/iPhone/iPod and switch away to another App (for example to download an EPUB) it will resume where you left off when you come back.
  3. We have added support for Italian and Spanish in the user interface. See the language switcher on the front page.

Photo Credits Have Moved

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I have moved the Photo Credits link from below the picture on each page to the Reading Controls page. Simply click the Settings (gear) icon and select More… The Photo Credits link will be near the bottom of the page.

I’m doing this to unclutter the page visually and audibly for screen readers.

New features and bug fixes

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I’ve made several changes this weekend.

  1. EPUB downloads now include speech if you have a voice selected before you download.
  2. You can now read your published books from the Your Books page.
  3. You can create a new version of an existing book by selecting More… from the Settings menu to get to the Reading Controls page and then selecting Create a new one like it below Change this book. If you own the book, you’ll see an Edit link there also.
  4. PowerPoint downloads should work better with PowerTalk now.
  5. Several people lost their drafts when Save Draft failed. I apologize. I think it is fixed now.

Thanks to Patrick, Heather, and Paul for the suggestions.

New Search Feature

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I’ve heard your frustration with not finding any books when you search with the default settings that show only Reviewed books that are Rated E/Everybody. I added a feature so that when your search returns no books it will offer a link that will let you search again without those restrictions.

Check it and tell me what you think.

Classic Mode for Old Computers

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I’ve had several bug reports about the new Tar Heel Reader not working on really old web browsers and computers. We worked hard to make the site functional for everyone but we can’t test on every old system. In fact, we have nothing but the newest computers so we had to use deep magic to test on the still heavily used old browsers like Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8. Unfortunately that magic won’t work for old Macintosh computers.

I hate the idea that kids are unable to read books on the terrible computers their schools provide so I whipped up “Classic Mode”. Check it out here and see if it helps those old computers work with the new design.

Report those bugs.

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I know some of you are seeing bugs but aren’t reporting them. I’ve found several by the painful process of looking through the logs. You can make the site and my life much better if you will report problems you see on the Report A Bug page.

Thanks for your help

Welcome to the New Tar Heel Reader

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Welcome to the 2013 edition of Tar Heel Reader. This update has been in continuous development since December of 2011. We have added many new features to make it accessible to a greater range of users and devices. You may:

  • Browse all the books on the site using two switches; simply use your mover (for example, right arrow) and your chooser (left arrow) to move through any list of books.
  • Find books using several criteria. For example, you can search for Reviewed books about Animals, rated E for Everybody containing the word duck. All the search controls are sticky so they keep their values throughout your session.
  • Create Collections: named, saved, and shared Favorites lists.
  • Read and create books on your phone or tablet.
  • Upload pictures directly from your phone or tablet, if supported by your device as on iOS6.
  • Use your own pictures at Flickr in books you create by entering your email address in the search box.
  • Download books in PowerPoint or EPUB format. EPUB format books may be directly imported into iBooks and other eReaders for use offline.
  • Use the site in your own language; we have English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish now with French and Hindi translations underway. If you would like to help translate Tar Heel Reader into your language, contact us.

If you have any feedback, questions or concerns about the new design, please contact us.

Logins will be disabled

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As we prepare to move to the new edition of Tar Heel Reader, we will be turning off login and registration at the old site next Wednesday 6 February. You will still be able to read books but you won’t be able to create new ones.

Hopefully the new site will come on line during the weekend of 8 through 11 February with logins enabled there on Monday 11 February.

The URL will stay the same and your current login will still work on the new system.

If you have questions or concerns please email us.

Tar Heel Reader Needs Your Help!

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Help us test the new version of Tar Heel Reader before this old one disappears. We want to make sure the new one works well before we switch. Try it at school, try it at home, try it on your iPad and on your phone. Please just try it and let us know how it works for you.

Go to http://tarheelreader3.cs.unc.edu/ and give it a try.

You can read more about the new site here and in its help pages.

If you have any comments or questions email tarheelreader@cs.unc.edu.

4 Million Books Read!

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Sometime on Tuesday October 9, 2012, the 4 millionth book was read at Tar Heel Reader only 301 days after we passed the 3 million mark on December 12, 2011.

We have 25,262 books in 20 languages that are being read in 176 “countries”.

Click to view the movie!


3 Million Books Read!

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Yesterday we passed 3 million books read at Tar Heel Reader. It’s been 305 days since we hit 2 million on 11 February.

We’re now at 170 “countries” (in quotes because these are guessed from the IP address). We’ve added Burkina Faso, Comoros, Djibouti, Dominica, Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, Greenland, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Togo, Uganda, and Vatican State.

The most read books are almost the same except “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” has rocketed up the charts to number 3. It was written in May of this year! It will take over number 2 in the next few days.

Comments closed

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Comments were split between 99% spam and 1% requests for the registration code so I’ve turned them off. You can get the access code by sending email to tarheelreader@cs.unc.edu as directed in the FAQ.