Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

“The dog ate my email”

Posted by universalis on 22 October 2014

Every week or so, a user of our daily email service contacts us to say that an email has not arrived.

Very occasionally this is because they have cancelled the service by replying to one of the emails (or sometimes their email system has done it for them, for instance because they are away on holiday). If this happens to you, you can easily restart the emails – using the web site if you used the web site to set them up, or, if you set them up using an app, by using the app.

Much more often, nothing has been cancelled, and the daily emails have been sent and accepted correctly. This is what this post is about.

The post, and dogs

When you take out a subscription to a magazine, the publisher may talk about delivering the magazine to you every week or month, but this is not true. They do not. They deliver the magazine to your letter-box.

Whether this results in you receiving the magazine depends on your dog. Some dogs will treat things coming through the letter-box as a threat, and chew them to shreds.

In which case the magazine has been delivered to your address, but not to you – and there is nothing the publisher can do. They can’t control your dog.

Your emails, and dogs

We talk about sending you emails, but of course we don’t really. We send emails to your email address. We send emails to the computer which (according to the Internet) is designated as the mail server for your email address. (For example, if you have an email address @gmail.com, the computer will have a romantic and memorable name such as gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com).

The computer to which we have sent the email confirms to our mail server that our email has been (a) received and (b) accepted for delivery to you. (In the case of @gmail.com, Google’s computer says “OK 1416625904 j9ti19004277wjf.10 - gsmtp“, with every received email getting a unique code number). The postal analogy would be the postman hearing the thud as the magazine hits your doormat.

But there is still the dog.

One of the things you pay your email service provider for is not to deliver certain emails to you, often because it decides that they are spam.

If your email service provider decides to chew up an email we send you instead of letting you have it, there is nothing we can do. It is entirely between your email service provider and you. You are the boss, and if they are chewing your incoming emails and losing them, you have to tell them to stop. No one else can.

If you ask us “what happened to my emails?” we’ll happily look up our logs and quote the acknowledgement code that your email service provider gave us. It may help them to discover what they did with an email you wanted, and learn to behave better in the future.

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Deeply embarrassing

Posted by universalis on 22 October 2014

A very kind user looked a little ahead in the calendar and discovered that Universalis was wrong about the date of All Souls’ Day in England and Wales. It had, in fact, disappeared altogether.

This year, in England and Wales, All Saints’ Day is moved to Sunday 2 November (it is moved to Sunday when it falls on Saturday) and consequently All Souls’ Day is on Monday 3 November.

The web site has been corrected, the Windows and Mac downloads have been corrected and you can re-download and reinstall them. The apps for iOS, Android and Mac have had corrections submitted and will be updated automatically. On the iOS and Mac side, this means waiting for Apple to approve the update, which at the moment seems to be taking about a week.

Posted in Calendars, Downloadable Universalis | Comments Off

Android bug

Posted by universalis on 11 August 2014

Once again, the latest updates to Android on certain devices have brought with them a bug which makes all pages in the Universalis and Catholic Calendar apps blank. (The apps continue to work normally in every other respect: for instance, the calendar listing is still visible).

As before, the problem is connected with an Android system update and only affects some Android devices. Unfortunately, none of our own devices are affected despite having had the latest updates installed. This means that we cannot find out what the Android bug is, or whether there is any way for an app to work round the bug.

Last time round, the bug affected only the Kindle Fire, and it went away after about a week. Presumably that was when Amazon noticed the bug themselves, corrected it, and issued an update.

We hope a similar thing will happen this time. Meanwhile here are three things you can try, which should make no difference at all to the problem… but may do, nevertheless.

  1. Shut down the Universalis app and then restart it.
  2. Shut down the device completely and then power it up again.
  3. Remove the Universalis (or Catholic Calendar) app and re-download it or reinstall it.

In addition, one user has reported that turning wi-fi on and then off again corrected the problem. This is clearly impossible, and it serves to emphasise that the bug in Android is erratic and random.

Posted in Downloadable Universalis | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Amazon bug in Kindle Fire

Posted by universalis on 10 February 2014

Amazon have just distributed an update to Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD devices which causes the Universalis app to stop working. We do not yet know whether this is an intended effect of the update or not. We have made a support request to Amazon to try and find out.

There is no way we know of preventing your Kindle device from being updated. If it is working today, it may stop working in the next couple of days. The problem is intermittent, however.


The Universalis application works perfectly in every respect except the following:

  • All the text pages (the Hours, the Order of Mass, Readings at Mass) are completely blank.
  • In the “Font size” setting screen, the sample text is blank.


For some people, this happens all the time. Others have found that it sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t: they try, and they see blank page; they try a little later, and they see text.

One user reports that deleting and re-installing the Universalis application cures the problem (for a short while). Others report that it doesn’t.

Some people report that shutting down their device and starting it up again cures the problem (for a short while). Others report that is doesn’t.

One user reports: “I switched my wifi off and on again and I got to Vespers. Setting it up for Compline failed. Switching wifi off and then on again brought up Compline.” We would be very interested to know if other people have the same experience. But that user then wrote back and said that the next day everything was working perfectly!

Versions affected

Amazon’s name Software version
Kindle Fire HD (Previous Generation) System Version 7.4.6 user 4620220
Kindle Fire HD (Previous Generation) System Version 7.4.7 user 4730120
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ System Version 8.4.6 user 4620220
Kindle Fire System Version 10.4.6 user 4620220

No report received

Please let us know if you have any of the following Kindle Fires:

Amazon’s name Software version
Kindle Fire HD 11.3.1
Kindle Fire HDX 13.3.1
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ 14.3.1

Please help us to make these lists complete. Here are instructions for finding out the version of your Kindle system software.

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New iOS version available

Posted by universalis on 4 February 2014

The new version of the Universalis app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch has just been approved by Apple and it will be available for download within the next few hours. The new version works on iOS 6 and 7 only: if you are using an older version of iOS them you will not be offered the update and you can continue using the old version.

All the existing features are still there and some new ones have been added: notably, a night mode for people who like to read in the dark. The user interface has been made simpler and more logical. The new operating instructions are here.

BUG: If you use the United States calendar in parts of the USA where the Ascension is celebrated on a Sunday, the name of the calendar at the top of the calendar page is reported as “United States: Ascension on Thursday”. The calendar itself is correct: it is only the label that is wrong. We will correct this soon. Thanks to the alert user who reported this bug.

Posted in Downloadable Universalis | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

An English Christmas bug

Posted by universalis on 22 December 2013

Since at various times it has been necessary to point out errors in the American version of the Liturgy, particularly around Christmas, it seems only fair to say that the English translator has his moments as well.

At First Vespers for the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Magnificat antiphon is taken from the Magnificat antiphons for the days between 18 and 24 December.

At Vespers for the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Magnificat antiphon is taken from the Magnificat antiphons for the days between 18 and 24 December.

So far, so good.

But at Lauds (Morning Prayer) for the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Benedictus has antiphons of its own, a different one for each year of the three-year cycle. The English version ignores this fact. It says that the Benedictus antiphon should be ‘as provided among the antiphons for 17 to 23 December’.

This is wrong.


Posted in Calendars, Liturgy | 2 Comments »

Psalms of the day in the daytime Hours

Posted by universalis on 17 December 2013


A question has been asked on Stack Exchange about why Universalis sometimes gives a choice of psalms for the daytime Hours and sometimes not. I don’t live on Stack Exchange, but Andrew Leach, who does, pointed the question out to me and I thought that it might be worth putting the answer on the Universalis blog.

The Breviary gives a set of psalms to be used at a daytime Hour – at the daytime Hour, if you only recite one, or at a daytime Hour if you recite two or three of them in the day. The remaining daytime Hours then use what are called “complementary psalms”, one for Terce, one for Sext, one for None. So the simple rule is: pick one Hour for the psalms of the day, and use the complementary psalms at the other Hours.

Now and then, however, the Breviary sets limits on when you use the psalms of the day. For instance, on Monday of the third week of Advent, if you recite Sext, then you must use the psalms of the day at Sext and not at another hour. Only a few days are affected, and the restriction looks rather arbitrary. The Stack Exchange question asks for a reason for it, because no reason is given in the Breviary.

When I was programming Universalis I had to include the restriction, and I was also curious about the reasons. It turned out to be simple once I’d worked it out. Looking at my example of Monday of the third week of Advent, Vespers includes Psalm 70(71), and so do the complementary psalms for Sext. Thus, in the interest of not having the same psalm twice on the same day, one shouldn’t use the complementary psalms at Sext – which, turned round, becomes “If you are celebrating Sext, you must use the psalms of the day then”.

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Christmas presents from Universalis: e-books

Posted by universalis on 2 December 2013

The previous blog post explained how to give Universalis apps as presents to your friends. Now it is turn of e-books, for your friends with e-readers.

Giving the ability to make e-books

In general, you make a Universalis e-book by creating it for yourself. You buy a registration code, and either you use the Universalis program on Mac or Windows to make yourself an e-book or, for  Kindle e-books only, you can use our web site to send an e-book directly to the Kindle. In either case, you need a Universalis registration code, which costs £19.99.

So as a once-and-for-all present to your friend, you can buy a registration code as a gift. To give a code as a gift, please buy it from us in the usual way. Forward the 9-digit code to your friend, and then, to avoid confusion in the future, send us an email to let us know that the code belongs not to you but to your friend (your friend’s name, address, and email would be helpful).

Pre-packaged e-books

For the Kindle only, in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales only, there is an alternative, because we sell two pre-packaged e-books which make perfect Christmas gifts. There is the Liturgy of the Hours 2014 (High Seasons), which gives every Hour for every day from now until Pentecost 2014, and there is Mass Readings 2014, which gives the readings at Mass for every day from now until the end of 2014. Both of them cost £6.17 and you can view them on Amazon by clicking on their titles above.

The snag is that, insanely, Amazon don’t allow you to give e-books as gifts. They do, however, offer various kinds of gift cards, so you can give one of the right value and hint to your friend what you would like to him to guy with it. You might send him the links to the e-books, to help.

Making e-books yourself

There is nothing, technically, to stop you making an e-book for (say) 2014 and giving it to your friend. But please note that you shouldn’t do this just like that, because when you bought your registration code it gave you the right to create e-books for your personal use only. It isn’t fair to us or to the copyright holders to go round the place pirating!

Here is what one of our customers has done. She has a friend who is an elderly priest, and she has set up his Kindle for him. In setting it up, she has noted the Kindle’s @kindle.com email address (every Kindle has one) and now, whenever it is time for a new e-book, she sits at home and sends the new e-book to that address by email, and Amazon deliver it wirelessly to her friend’s Kindle.

The procedure is the same as if she were creating Kindle e-books for herself (the instructions are here), but instead of saving the e-book to her Kindle she saves it to her desktop and then emails it from there. She makes one-year e-books, and sends them just before Christmas as a sort of extra Christmas card.

Being upright and decent, our customer has bought a registration code for her friend. We know about this because she asked us whether to switch registration codes from her own to her friend’s before creating his e-book and then back again to her own afterwards. I said no, no need at all: the aim was for the right number of licences to exist, corresponding to the number of users. Flipping the codes the whole time wouldn’t benefit anyone: it would just be pedantic.

Posted in e-books | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Christmas presents from Universalis: apps

Posted by universalis on 2 December 2013

Apparently this is meant to be the year when everybody gets tablets and e-readers for Christmas. Here is a list of all the systems we sell Universalis for, and how to give it as a present. The next blog post will tell you about e-books.

iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch: the Universalis app costs £9.99. Visit the App Store and click on “View in iTunes”. Next to the “Download” or “Purchase” button you will see a downward-pointing arrow. Click on it to open the menu, and select “Gift This App”.

Android from Google Play: The Universalis app costs £9.99. Google Play does not allow apps to be given as gifts. You can send your friend a Google Play Gift Card for the right amount, together with a link to the Google Play listing as a hint of what you would like your friend to receive from you.

Android from Amazon: The Universalis app costs £9.99. Amazon do not allow apps to be given as gifts. You can send your friend an Amazon Appstore Gift Card or Certificate for the right amount, together with a link to the Amazon Appstore listing as a hint of what you would like your friend to receive from you.

Mac and Windows: A Universalis registration code costs £19.99. It gives free access to the Universalis programs on the Mac and on Windows, and to all the apps listed above. It allows you to create e-books if you need them, and provides a daily email service. To give a code as a gift, please buy it from us in the usual way. Forward the 9-digit code to your friend, and then, to avoid confusion in the future, send us an email to let us know that the code belongs not to you but to your friend (your friend’s name, address, and email would be helpful).

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NEW: Kindle e-books from Amazon

Posted by universalis on 2 December 2013

The best way to get a Universalis e-book on your Kindle is to get a registration code from us and then create e-books for yourself. The registration code costs £19.99, the instructions are here, and the e-books are free, year after year after year.

But some people find £19.99 a lot of money to spend all in one lump (even though it lasts for ever) and some people find the create-it-yourself business cumbersome. So we have now created two standard Kindle e-books which can be bought directly from Amazon just like any other e-book.

The following e-books cover England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales only. To buy one of them from Amazon, click on its title.

Liturgy of the Hours 2014 (High Seasons) gives the Liturgy of the Hours for every day from Advent 2013 to Pentecost 2014. It costs £6.17.

Mass Readings 2014 gives the readings at Mass (including the prayers and antiphons) and the About Today page for every day from Advent 2013 to the end of 2014. It also costs £6.17.

We will release Liturgy of the Hours 2014 (Low Seasons), which covers Pentecost 2014 onwards, after Easter.

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