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Players-Shakespeare.com’s Newsletter No. 4

In this issue:

Using our Edition on Android and Amazon Fire Tablets / Phones:
Playreading activity on Players-Shakespeare.com
Canada has discovered Players-Shakespeare.com

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Using our Edition on Android and Amazon Fire Tablets / Phones:

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We received a report of an issue recently regarding access to our web-site from Facebook using an Android smartphone. The user received an error message along the lines of ‘Attachment missing’ which is strange because there was no attachment, but a link to a web-site page.

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Anyway, as a result of this, we started exploring access to Players-Shakespeare.com using Android and Amazon Fire hardware. We hope to support three main technology platforms: Apple IoS; Android; and Amazon Fire.  Internally, we use Apple IoS technology to access the web-site, because we believe it provides the best experience, but we do hope that people who prefer Android or Amazon Fire can use the web-site.

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The Issues:

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We discovered a few issues which seem to apply to both Android and Amazon Fire platforms. (It’s not surprising that both platforms seem to have the same problems, because the Amazon Fire  OS is derived from Android, the main difference for the user being that you can’t access the Google App store, but have to use the Amazon App store). Anyway the differences we’ve found so far, are the following:

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First, on Android / Amazon Fire, you don’t seem to be able to access pop-up menu items. Our web-site has a menu bar near the top of the screen, and when you access a menu item, a pop-up menu opens with further options (e.g. if you click on ‘The Plays’ menu option, a pop-up window opens with a list of all the plays we’ve published, and if you click on one of the plays, the page changes to show you that play). At least it should – but it doesn’t on Andfroid / Amazon Fire. This is a fairly serious issue.

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Secondly, the web browser on both platforms (Chrome and Silk)seems to be much slower than the Apple browser (Safari). This slows significantly the move from scene to scene when play-reading. On Android, it’s fairly easy to reduce this problem by using an alternative browser. We found both Opera-mini and Firefox (both available from the Google Play Store) much faster. On Amazon Fire we haven’t yet found a browser which significantly improves on the performance of Silk.

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Thirdly, multi-tasking (running more than one app on the same machine at the same time) seems to be much less effective on Android / Amazon Fire, than on Apple IoS. Performance seems to slow down a lot if you have many apps running at the same time.

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Luckily, this problem is relatively simple to minimise.  If you click on the ‘square’ icon at the bottom of the screen, you are shown a list of all the apps running, and you can close those apps that you don’t need and improve the performance of the web browser used to access Players-Shakespeare.com.

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Of course, the performance of your Android / Amazon Fire platform depends on the power of the processor and the amount of memory  installed. Make sure that you purchase a platform which meets your needs from a performance point-of-view.

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What we plan to do about these issues:

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Sub-menu item access:

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We’ve already partially solved this problem. You can use the Google Custom Search to get to a sub-menu item. If you search for the Sub-menu item name, you will  normally get a search return link to that sub-menu item.

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In our view, this approach is acceptable as a work-round, but in the long-term, we plan to provide a more elegant solution. In the future, when you click on a top-menu item, a page will open, providing links to all the sub-menu items, and those links will work on all three platforms (Apple, Androide, Amazon Silk). It will take a bit of time to implement, but watch this space.

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Performance:

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Web access performance is an issue on all three platforms.  It’s a complex issue including: the Players-Shakespeare.com server; Internet speed; wi-fi speed; and platform performance.

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In our own experience, we have been able to provide acceptable performance on MS-Windows 7 & 10 and on Apple Ios on iPhones and iPads. If you want to maximize the chance of getting acceptable performance, we recommend that, at the moment, you use those platforms.

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If you want to use Android / Amazon Fire hardware, there’s a few things you can do to improve performance:

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Close all opens apps that you don’t need to get the best performance from your web brower.
Use Opera-mini or Firefox as your web-broser.

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We’re working on a long-term solution to the performance issue which will also offer some other advantages. We’re planning to allow you to download our e-books to your platform, customize it (choose parts-cuse or highlight text; select a Player-No from a cast list, etc), and read it in an e-book viewer. We’re already doing this in prototype, using iBooks on Apple; and eLibrary Manager on Android / Amazon Fire.

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We find the experience and performance vastly improved on all three platforms.

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Before we leave this issue, we’d love to know of other issues that you find using our web-site on any of the three platforms we aim to support (Apple IoS; Android; and Amazon Fire). So if you are aware of something which doesn’t work, leave a comment after this post, or join our Support for Playreading and Production FB page and leave a comment there.

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By the way, we still haven’t been able to identify the Android FB issue with following a link from a FB page to our web-site, so if you are aware of that problem, please let us know about it.

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Playreading activity on Players-Shakespeare.com

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We’re pleased to find that use of the web-site for play-reading continues to establish itself. In September, use of the web-site for play-reading seems to have been deeper but less often than in August, with a wider selection of plays being read.

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What we found particularly interesting was a high-level analysis of play-reading activity by country with the following results:

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Canada: As You Like It; Hamlet
UK:         A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Comedy of Errors; King Lear
USA:       A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Romeo and Juliet
Other:     A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Romeo and Juliet; Twelfth Night

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It’s worth noting that across the world, the focus seems to be on comedies, with no histories and only two tragedies being play-read: Hamlet and King Lear.

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Canada his discovered Players-Shakespeare.com

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We’re pleased that Canada seems to have discovered our web-site.

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In July, web-site sessions from Canada represented 1% of activity on the web-site.
In August, this shot up to 5.3% of sessions, and in September, we’re up to 6.5%.
This during a period where the web-site is growing month on month.

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Canadians have been seriously exploring As You Like It and Hamlet through play-reading.

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We’re aware of a community group establishing a play-reading group in Ontario, but the activity in September covers 9 Canadian provinces, with particularly strong activity in: Ontario, British Columbia; Quebec; and Alberta.

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That’s it for this Newsletter.

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Please let us know of any issues you find with the web-site, and do keep play-reading – and reading our reviews. The most popular page on our web-site in September was our review of The Globe’s production of Twelfth Night, with Mark Rylance as Olivia. It got  20% of page-hits in the month (29th Aug – 28th Sep).

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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?

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If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

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