ePub Publishing with Audio

I am recording my thoughts about this process here because I will forget someday. Perhaps this information will help someone else.

The last two years my son’s school was offering books with a disconnected book interface. That is to say the website they were using to host to page turning books had a separate site to host audio. In the end it was very hard to for the kids and parents to use. This year they started using a new service that basically combines the two as a video. So my books aren’t being made any longer.

I took the PDF and .mp3 files they uploaded and (through a cumbersome process) I combined them into an ePub book. Each page had a separate audio player control at the bottom of the page. This was great because it made it much easier for kids to back up the audio so they could hear something again. The other huge benefit of this method is ePub files are portable, so many parents loaded their homework books up on their iPads and had them review on the ride to school!

I discovered that ePub files are an archive compressed in the ZIP format, and by changing the file extension from .epub to .zip I could view into the structure of a book. Download one of the last books from here for an example. I didn’t use any fancy software to create the books, I used a couple of AppleScript droplet scripts to speed my process (PDF2PNG, ePub_Zip, ePub_UnZip), but I hand edited the HTML and split the large audio file page by page in Audacity.

The process I used is very similar to this one by John Carroll University.

Here is an awesome video for Pages users.

My Path to iPad Devlopment

Waiting for an excuse to learn

I have been wanting to learn to develop for mobile devices since I got my first Windows Mobile phone six years ago. At the time my attention was occupied with the impending birth of my first son, and the traumatic transition from working life1 to becoming a stay-at-home parent.

I want an iPhone… never mind, I want a Droid!

Two years ago my wife and I were wanting to treat ourselves to iPhones… then Verizon launched the Motorola Droid.2 By this time our second son was 1-year-old and I was too busy raising two young boys.

The path to an iPad (and to an iPhone for the wife).

This summer, Google launched the “Honeycomb” version of Android meant for Tablet devices.3 Although I had trouble justifying why I needed one, I bought an Android tablet. I found it quite handy and my 5-year-old, my wife, and I all got addicted to playing Plants vs Zombies. It was clear we needed a second tablet. To justify buying an iPad we did some research and found a bunch of nice educational apps/games for our boys to play and learn at the same time… oh and PvZ was available on the iPad as well. My wife enjoyed the iPad enough that she traded her Droid for an iPhone 4S.

An opportunity appears.

Continue reading “My Path to iPad Devlopment”