When Audiobook Builder says, “Unable to add the audiobook to iTunes”

macOS Mojave and later will ask you for permission the first time Audiobook Builder needs to interact with iTunes in some way, like adding the iTunes selection to your new audiobook or adding your new audiobook to iTunes.  If you get a message from Audiobook Builder that it’s “Unable to add the audiobook to iTunes”, you might’ve accidentally declined that request.  Here’s how to tell your Mac it’s OK:

  1. Go to the Apple () menu at the top left corner of your screen and click the System Preferences… item to reveal the System Preferences window.
  2. Click the Security & Privacy icon.
  3. Click the Privacy button near the top right of the window.
  4. Click Automation in the list on the left side of the window.
  5. Make sure the iTunes checkbox directly below every Audiobook Builder item on the right side of the window has a checkmark.
  6. Relaunch Audiobook Builder and try building again.

That should have you off and running.  Enjoy!

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Audiobook Builder 2: Building at the speed of 64-bit!

Say hello to Audiobook Builder 2!  It’s now humming along in true 64-bit, so you get macOS compatibility going forward, but wait – there’s more!  Builds at Normal Quality are about 3x the speed of version 1.5.7, CD imports are about twice as quick, and adding files and opening documents take just a blink or two.  We threw in support for encoding in HE-AAC, dimmed the lights so fans of Mojave’s dark mode will rejoice, cut the temporary storage requirements for each build in half, at least, and goosed the speed of the user interface when building so no more sipping that coffee between mouse clicks and actual results.  You’ll find a few other tweaks, here and there, but the look and feel is almost exactly what you know and love – so you can get right down to business.  For years, we’ve said, “Find your smile in an audiobook.”   We couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to Audiobook Builder 2 – and we hope you smile a little bit wider when you build your next audiobook with it!

Audiobook Builder 2 is regularly priced at just US $4.95 ($4.99 on the Mac App Store).  We’re thanking folks who purchased Audiobook Builder 1.x from the Splasm Store with a 40% discount (send a message to customerservice@splasm.com if you haven’t received your special offer instructions), and it’s on sale for 40% off on the Mac App Store through December 29th.

Click here to learn more about Audiobook Builder.

View Audiobook Builder on the Mac App Store.

We love constructive feedback and helping our users get the most out of Audiobook Builder, so drop us a line at customerservice@splasm.com if you need anything.

Thank you, once again, dear Audiobook Builder users, for letting us help you find your smile!

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CheckBook 2.6.6 Now Available

CheckBook and CheckBook Pro 2.6.5 flew out the door this morning and, if you’ve updated, you may have already noticed things aren’t quite right:  Scheduled Entries and imported Entries may not save in existing documents and definitely won’t in new documents.  It’s on us and we apologize.  We made a minor change to the way your data is stored so we could include the new “Date Created” column – but we missed a detail and our testing didn’t catch it in time.  The issue’s been addressed in 2.6.6, now available, and we nailed a performance issue when updating documents with a relatively high number of Entries while we were at it.  Your pre-2.6.5 data has not – and will not be – harmed.  Documents created with 2.6.5 will be updated so they work properly, but there isn’t a way to rescue the Scheduled Entries and imported Entries added with 2.6.5 so they’ll need to be entered again.

Mac App Store users can update by visiting the Mac App Store and clicking the Updates button at the top of the window and Splasm Store users can get the update by opening your copy of the application, going to the CheckBook or CheckBook Pro menu at the top left of your screen, and clicking the Check For Updates… menu item.

Thank you for hanging in there, folks.  Send a message to support@splasm.com if you need anything!

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Gathering Console messages for our support folks

Deep support issues sometimes raise questions we can’t ask you to answer, so we gather details directly from your Mac’s log files, System Information reports, and, on macOS Sierra and later, Console messages.  The first two take a few steps, but Console messages are a little harder to get at.  They give us a lot of information, though, and we sometimes need that extra bit of detail to figure out what’s happening behind the scenes.

Here’s how to gather your Console messages and help us help you:

  1. Click the Finder icon on your Dock.
  2. Go to the Go menu at the top of your screen and click the Utilities menu item.
  3. Double-click the Console icon.
  4. If the icon in the Activities button, next to the Now button, is tinted blue, click the button once so the tint is removed.
  5. Go to the Action menu at the top of your screen and click the All Messages menu item.
  6. If we’ve asked you to search for a particular phrase, click the Search field at the top right of the window, type the phrase, and press the Return key on your keyboard.
  7. Leave Console open, return to our application, and follow any steps to reproduce the situation you need help with.
  8. Return to Console, click one of the console messages, then go to the Edit menu at the top of your screen and click the Select All menu item.
  9. Go to the Edit menu at the top of your screen and click the Copy menu item.
  10. Click the body of a message to us, go to the Edit menu at the top of your screen, and click the Paste menu item.
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Three CheckBook 2.6.1 fixes coming in hot!

Here’s what’s on the way in CheckBook 2.6.2, due later this week:

  • Scattered reports clued us in on a crash that can happen on OS X 10.10 Yosemite and macOS 10.11 El Capitan.  With a document open, try to create a new document or use Open Recent in the File menu to select another document and boom!  This crash is crushed.
  • A very helpful person sent us a screen recording demonstrating how to get the Debit button to stop working.  It came down to a tiny glitch in how our 64-bit code for creating a list of all previously entered To items.  This glitch is history.
  • Another kind soul showed us how CheckBook Pro might display Entries in a password-protected Account while waiting for a password to be entered.  Turns out we were a little too aggressive in trying to display actual data as a document first opens and missed a key step in validating our security model.  This bug is bashed.

If you need these fixes right away, send a message to support@splasm.com and we’ll get you a pre-release build.  In the meantime, tell us when you see anything out of the ordinary and we’ll pop open another can of bug spray!

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Why the Mac App Store needs a waiting period before new reviews go live

Years ago, six, in fact, I wrote a detailed analysis of how Apple could improve the Mac App Store experience between users and developers.  You can read it all at http://www.splasmata.com/?p=1612.  One of the finer points in that analysis, and, perhaps, so diplomatically put that it didn’t hit home, was a simple, one-size-fits-all app rating and review system can’t work.  If you didn’t read reviews, and especially if your livelihood didn’t rely on them so you didn’t keep track of what happens when reviews come out in public, you might think folks will write a review to praise or criticize, then move along, continuing with an app or ditching it, and no one’s hurt.  Are you nodding in agreement?  Stop because nope.

So let’s put it this way:  some reviews are based in reality, some aren’t.  Some folks think about the consequences, some don’t.

Here’s the thing:  people write reviews for a number of reasons, from a variety of experience and technical expertise levels, in a multitude of physical, spiritual, emotional, and chemical states.  You can’t anticipate all of that.  Even folks who know how everything fits together to make an application work get things wrong when they’re dragging ass on three hours of sleep.  Like me.  On top of that, people aren’t always aware of the path a review will take through every other user’s eyeballs and into their consciousness, and few realize what a single negative review can do to a tiny company’s income.  And the icing on it all is computers are complicated to the point you don’t always get a clear picture of cause and effect.  That’s how popup ads telling you your Mac is hosed if you don’t install Ultra Mac Platinum Cleaner Pro Deluxe right this minute hit the mark.  So let’s put it this way:  some reviews are based in reality, some aren’t.  Some folks think about the consequences, some don’t.  

I’m reminded of the old adage of the three tests.  Before you say or do something, is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?  If it’s not true, don’t.  If it’s true but not necessary, don’t.  If it’s true and necessary, make it as kind as possible.  There’s a time and place to ignore this advice…but what about ratings and reviews?  Do we have to tell the truth in our reviews?  Should we only write them when necessary?  Are we obligated to write them as kindly as possible?

In a cosmic sense?  Nope.

Between you and me?  Pretty please?

We’re sure ratings and reviews are necessary.  They pretty much make it practical to find a product that competently performs a required task without requiring you to become an expert on every product in a given market.  A considerably poorer expert, too, I’d say, as in most cases, there’s no try before you buy in this world of ours.  Case in point:  the Mac App Store.  But trials are another suggestion I and a bunch of other folks
made six years ago.  Let’s get back to our topic:  the rating and review system on the Mac App Store.

Here’s a real world example of how a review system, in the hands of someone who’s identified an issue but doesn’t have enough information, becomes a terrible missile, unintentionally armed and fired, harming instead of helping.


Anyone with some marketing experience or a little common sense in the room?  You wanna come up and write on the chalkboard, so everyone can see, how this review is not doing anyone any favors?

First, the review’s title is written with passionate use of exclamation marks, so you know this is very important!  Second, it’s not just a 1 star review, it leads with “one star!“, so you know this is both very important and very bad!  Third, it continues with the word “warning“, which is never good and usually very bad.  Fourth, it gives readers – our users, I’ll add – the panicked news that the software is compromised by a parasite of some kind!

That’s all before you get to the actual star rating.  A single star tells some people the review is likely extreme, and therefore questionable.  They might skip it.  For other folks, though, 1 star says, “move on quickly, this product probably isn’t worth your time.

It’s a minor miracle if anyone gets past everything in that first line without bailing, but say they do.  They’ll find the review itself is a well-written explanation of the review title.  No exclamation marks, just the facts the way the person saw them.  And no matter what the situation, who they are, what their expertise level is, or whatever, the user has a right to write a review exactly like this.  That is not and never will be in question.

So what’s the question again?  We’re getting there.  Before we do, let’s pass this review through those three tests to see how it doesn’t work in anyone’s best interest.

To start, the entire reason for the review is false.  Our application has nothing to do with Advanced Mac Cleaner.  Nothing.  And it never will.  Maybe the user saw Advanced Mac Cleaner while using our application and associated the two.  Who knows?  It’s simply not true.  The user would know that if they asked us before posting the review.  But they didn’t, so we received the pointy end of their missile without any warning or opportunity to provide the truth.

You know, there’s a really important point here and we’re going to come back to it:  in this user’s defense, how could they know what they were writing wasn’t true?  It looked true to them.  Can’t get any truer than that, unless someone helps you out with truthier truth.  So let’s say they got past truth and moved on to necessity.  How’s this kind of review necessary?  Well, wouldn’t anyone with some conscience and empathy want to warn other folks away from a potential calamity?  I would.  That about covers necessity.

And what about kindness?  Again, I feel the need to, kindly, defend our users here.  Most of them aren’t technical.  They’re good at what they do and we’re good at what we do.  They wouldn’t expect us to get what they do right all the time, and we’d never expect them to get what we do right all the time.  At a guess, most have never visited the About page on our website, so they don’t realize we’re a tiny, three-person company.  They don’t know we’re Mac-only, so the Mac App Store is our largest distribution channel.  They don’t have the stats over the last six or seven years to show that a single negative review in front of thousands of users on the Mac App Store will cost us hundreds or thousands of dollars, putting our payroll in peril.  The web has transmogrified from a crazy universe of slightly hard to remember addresses and organized bookmarks to a few search engines and a plethora of single-serving apps, the Mac App Store among them, so many don’t know how to get in touch with us directly, don’t notice the support link on the Mac App Store.  For them, our Mac App Store product page is all there is, and posting a review there is all they can do.  It’s not a kind act, to say the least, but it’s just about impossible for a user to realize they’re acting unkindly.  They just don’t know any better.

Starting to feel like there are a lot of variables out there, isn’t it?  Long sigh.  There are.  And that’s part of the point.

Hold a developer’s feet to the fire if they’ve really messed up.  Heck of a shame if you’re barking up the wrong tree, though.

So, what’s the real question?

Folks are entitled to write what they will.  Apple lets them.  But those same people depend on accurate, factual ratings and reviews on the Mac App store to give them a clear picture of what a product can do and how a company stands behind it.  Likewise, developers depend on the Mac App Store as their largest distribution channel and need accurate, factual reviews to attract the audience they’re looking for.  If Apple wants happy users and happy developers, then, they need to figure out how to keep it real, so to speak.  In an ideal world, they’d even hold folks to all three tests:  truth, necessity, and kindness.  Let’s not go bananas, though, so we’ll stick to truth, for now.

There’s a disconnect between the user’s perception of the facts and the facts themselves, so in some, perhaps not many, but in some cases the test of truth is failed almost out of the gate.  So the real question is, how can Apple build into the Mac App Store a way to handle the user’s perception of the truth versus the truth itself?  How can Apple let users express themselves and provide value to other users while making sure reviews are based in fact before they’re released to the public and allowed to damage the developer?  And, lest I be perceived as biased, you bet I believe developers should be held accountable in the court of public opinion.  Hold a developer’s feet to the fire if they’ve really messed up.  Heck of a shame if you’re barking up the wrong tree, though.  Like, kids not getting Christmas or families not making mortgage payments kinda heck of a shame.  And that kinda shame is, very bluntly, bull.  Very personally, twins are coming into my life in January and daddy wants them taken care of.  Allan has a mortgage and kinda likes that house.  Randy’s practically a full-time dad, feeding eager minds with homeschooling every day.  We don’t charge an arm and a leg for our product because we want to be fair.  We’re just looking to keep it fair all around.

Now, what’re we to do?

If Apple wants to help prevent a single user’s perception of the truth from devaluing the review system, hurting other users and developers at the same time, how about allowing developers a chance to look over new reviews before they go live?  We called this a quarantine in my original post six years ago.  You read that right.  I suggested this six years ago.  Sent my suggestions to Apple and everything.  Six long years.  No movement.  But here’s how it works:  the reviews come in, the developer has 24 or 48 hours to respond to the reviewer through an anonymous communication system on the Mac App Store, and the reviewer must at least acknowledge the developer response before the review can go live.  How the developer and reviewer handle the dialogue in the meantime is completely up to them.  At the end of the quarantine period, the user may have done nothing, or changed their review, or even removed it.  If they received service and changed the review or removed it, they’re happy.  If they haven’t removed the review, it goes live and they’re happy.  There’s a much better chance the reviews that stay are accurate.  Users win all around.  The developer may grumble a bit if their effort failed to convey to the user the review is unmerited, either with facts or real service, but they always have the option of asking Apple to remove the review if it’s truly false.  Nothing is lost over the current system.  Much is gained.  Everyone’s happy.

So there you have it.  We’re raising the idea of a quarantine once more, in the hope that users will see our perspective and, if we’re lucky, someone at Apple will take notice.  Thanks for reading!

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