Book Bytes
MyMac Magazine #31

On November 1, 1997, in Book Review, by John Nemerovski

The year 1997 has been a gold mine for readers who require well- written, informative books covering a huge range of aspects of the Internet’s World Wide Web (WWW or Web). The following books cover the spectrum from general to specific, and each one is geared to a target audience.

 

Your objective My Mac book reviewer attempts not to play favorites, but I admit that most of my Web searches begin with What’s on the Web.
 
What’s on the Web
Edited by Eric Gagnon
Internet Media, http://www.jumpcity.com
ISBN 1-884640-21-4, 542 pages,
includes dedicated Web site
$23.95 U.S., $30.95 Canada

This book is a companion to What’s on the Internet, which we reviewed in the July, 1997 issue of My Mac -
( http://www.mymac.com/reviews/book_bytes/bytes_w.htm )

Why do I like Eric Gagnon’s “What’s on…” books so much? The answer is as much “design” as “substance.” Photos are abundant, beginning with the Contents section. The illustrations and graphics are consistently informative and visually stimulating. I particularly appreciate the two-page spreads, “Anatomy of a Web Site” and “Take a Trip Along the Web.”

The JumpCity site, http://www.jumpcity.com, is a masterful way to link the book’s listings to the Web:

 

Covering 450 pages in twelve chapters with 4 – 6 illustrated reviews per page are sites ranging from “Entertainment and the Media” to “Consumer, Business, & Self-Help” to “Off the Wall.” Each item includes the name of the site, the URL (Internet address, such as http://www.spacenews.com/), the four-digit Jump code (such as 6745), a suggested Usenet or ClariNet news group link, a graphic from the site’s home page, and a review in peppy prose.

The 53-page Web Index/Finder, in 3 columns, lists every site and subject mentioned in the book, along with its page number and Jump code. I usually start here, in the back of the book, to get a flying start for either the JumpCity site or a specific topic in the book.

Here at My Mac, we encourage readers to form their own opinions of our reviewed books and applications, so I’ll state simply that What’s on the Web is my constant companion. RECOMMENDED HIGHLY for everyone who uses the World Wide Web.

 

Girls are here to stay, especially on the Internet, and Tech Girl’s Internet Adventures, aims to keep ‘em coming.

 
Tech Girl’s Internet Adventures
by Girl Tech
IDG Books, http://www.idgbooks.com
ISBN 0-7645-3046-1, 178 pages,
includes CD-ROM disk
$19.99 U.S., $27.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

Current estimates for female Internet participation are 50% by the year 2000, with most of the growth coming in the age 10 – 19 range. The creators of the Club Girl Tech Web site, http://www.girltech.com, have put together a book-CD combination aimed directly at this age group. The book is “girl-made, girl-approved, girl-safe.”

 

The book is attractive, with colorful graphics on every page. The “tour guide” is Tech Girl, a Superhero of the Internet. Readers are invited to participate in Girl Tech Clubs on the Net, with full instructions. The authors encourage girls to use mentors: “Children need to learn how to participate on the Internet safely.”

Girls are taken through the entire process of going online. Specific lessons, such as “Send me an e-mail” and “Download a File” are scattered throughout the text. Each chapter includes a “Club Girl Tech Activity.” Personal tips are abundant, featuring everyone from Gloria Steinem (writer, journalist, feminist) to Holly (age 11), each with a photo.

The majority of the book is a well-selected listing of over 100 “girl-friendly Web sites that promise safe, fun, interactive learning — online and offline!” Among the most intriguing are:

Art Crimes: The Writing on the Wall

Encyclopedia of Women’s History
and an entire section on young female authors and writers.

There is a two-page spread on how to “Talk in a Chat Room,” and another three page listing of individual “Girls’ Home Pages.” A “My Home Page” template is pre-configured on the CD, with instructions how to upload it to the Web.

If my daughter was fifteen years younger, instead of age 25, I’d cheerfully spend the $20 U.S. and encourage her to explore this book and the accompanying CD. RECOMMENDED for girls and their parents.

 

As I approach my 50th birthday next August, my thoughts naturally turn to my second half-century. Therefore, it is now appropriate to go to the other end of the age spectrum, with Senior Net.
 
Senior Net http://www.seniornet.org
Official Guide to the Web: The Complete
Cyberguide to the Web for People Over 55
by Eugenia Johnson and Kathleen McFadden
Lycos Press, http://www.lycospress.com
ISBN 0-7897-1069-2, 426 pages, includes
CD-ROM disk
$29.99 U.S., $42.95 Canada, £27.99 Net U.K.

Speaking of predictions, the baby boomers comprise a healthy segment of the Internet population, and the numbers are rising daily. The mission of SeniorNet, who produced this book, is “to provide older adults education for and access to digital technology to enhance their lives and enable them to share their knowledge and wisdom.” Sound familiar? It’s a similar purpose to the Girl Tech organization, with a different designated age group in mind. Almost every state in the U.S. has a SeniorNet Learning Center, and America Online (AOL) hosts the popular SeniorNet Forum (Keyword: SeniorNet).

Eugenia “Tin Lizzie” Johnson, a computer-savvy grandma, is active as a columnist on the site. She is a congenial companion throughout the book, with dozens of “Lizzie’s Tips” sidebars, offering both computer advice and common sense wisdom:

 

The reader is taken from the daunting obstacle of acquiring a computer, going online, obtaining supplementary software and hardware, and getting good written advice from computer magazine and book publishers. Beginners are eased into explanations of Usenet, the Web, browser options, and shareware downloads.

Senior power is on the rise, and “Simply Senior Web Sites” range from Elderhostel and Senior.Com to Seniors Online Job Bank .

The bulk of the text consists of recommended Web sites, in chapters such as: Bankrolls and Bucks, You’re Never Too Old to Learn, Goofing Off (or Just Plain Having Fun), To Your Health!, and Shop ‘Til You Drop. The “new generation” of older adults will be pleased to visit the sites offered in: Citizenry and Community, Issues and Affairs; Rambling, Touring, Trekking, or Up Close and Personal, which is the final section.

Overall, this is a worthwhile book, especially for relative newcomers to the Internet. I expect that bookstores will soon be bursting with similar book-CD duos. Here is the first one. RECOMMENDED for older adults who need guidance, and who value the potential available in the online community.

 

The City Guide USA Web Directory from Lycos press makes a valiant effort at supplying comprehensive information on every major city (and state) within the U.S. I have to hand it to Lycos. They are the reigning champs of specialized Internet guide books, with more and better offerings published every month.

 
City Guide USA Web Directory
by Bryan Hiquet and Katharine English
Lycos Press, http://www.lycospress.com
ISBN 0-7897-1056-0, 467 pages,
includes CD-ROM disk
$29.99 U.S., $42.95 Canada, £27.95 Net U.K.

The core of this 326 page book is the “State-by-State City Guide,” listed
alphabetically within each state, from Alabama to Wyoming. The design is text-heavy, with only a few Web page screen shots or graphics. Occasional “Roadside Attractions” spice up the blocks of descriptions, such as, in Texas:

 

Let’s visit our My Mac publisher’s home state of Michigan. The section begins with a brief description of the state, then plunges into Ann Arbor, with:
Dining and Entertainment; General Services; Museums, Galleries, and
Historical Sites; Newspapers and Magazines; then Television and Radio.
Detroit has the same categories, plus Sports, Parks, and Recreation. Each
state’s chapter concludes with State-Wide Resources, itemized in a similar
way to the city sections.

In Iowa, the home of Mike Wallinga of “Wall Writings” fame, the book
includes:
(Iowa City) Iowa Sailing Club
(Cedar Rapids) Cedar Rapids Area Home Page-
and statewide, Iowa State Fair .

For travelers, the book’s Part 3, “Travel Resources on the Net” is essential: Booking a Trip Online, Reserving Lodgings Online, Renting a Car and Other Ground Transportation, Buying Travel Products Online, and my favorite, Travel-Related ‘Zines, Newsgroups, and Mailing Lists, including: e.Traveler .

The City Guide USA Web Directory is a fine reference book, and it is worth owning if you want to have handy printed and CD resources for the U.S. Otherwise, if you are experienced at using Web directories or search engines, such as Yahoo, AltaVista, or Lycos, you can locate the same information via your Web browser. RECOMMENDED for frequent multi-state travelers.

 

Investors are a special breed of Web personalities, deserving of their own
Internet books. Invest-O-Rama Investor’s Web Guide is a full-service offering, again from Lycos, which will go straight to the heart of every financial Web traveler.

 
Invest-O-Rama Investor’s Web Guide:
Tools and Strategies for Building
Your Portfolio
by Douglas Gerlach
Lycos Press, http://www.lycospress.com
ISBN 0-7897-1187-7, 425 pages,
includes CD-ROM disk
$39.99 U.S., $56.95 Canada, £37.49 Net U.K.

I quote from the Introduction:

 

Special-mention items are indicated by sidebar-icons: The Swami speaks
(browser and Internet help), Upticks (suggestions), Downticks (warnings), and Ask Doug (FAQ-style answers, plus interesting detours). The book has ample Glossaries, which provide straightforward definitions for investment terminology, like “balance sheet” or “return on equity.”

Part One, “A Directory of Investor’s Resources on the Web,” is certainly
hearty, with 272 pages describing 4 to 7 Web sites per page, including many screen shots. The nine well-organized chapters take in free and subscription URLs for stocks, mutual funds, bonds, tools for investors, personal finance, and much more. A few examples:

U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Vanguard Mutual Funds
Closing Bell from Mercury Mail (now InfoBeat) .

Part Two, “An Investor’s Guide to Building a Portfolio,” is the main event, in my opinion. The nine chapters here are: How to Study a Stock, Building a Portfolio, Tracking Your Investments, and six more of equal importance. The chapters are organized with pages of clearly-written tutorial material interspersed with appropriate tables, charts, and Web addresses as well as home page screen captures.

I like this book. Don’t expect to be able to turn your bowling money into a million bucks from a hot tip or secret Web site. Instead, just like the best investments, Invest-O-Rama Investor’s Web Guide can, slowly and patiently, assist you in learning how to invest smarter.

Again, most of the material covered can be located by cruising through a few Web directories and search engines, or camping out in your public library, but here you have a sensible source packaged in a book and CD. RECOMMENDED for beginner and intermediate investors.

 

I am holding, one in each hand, two of the most remarkable Internet “newbie” books I have ever had the privilege to review:

 
Internet and World Wide Web Simplified,
2nd Edition
by Maran Graphics, http://www.maran.com
IDG Books, http://www.idgbooks.com
ISBN 0-7645-6029-8, 222 pages,
fully illustrated.
$24.99 U.S., £23.99 U.K.

 
Teach Yourself the Internet and
World Wide Web Visually
by Maran Graphics, http://www.maran.com
IDG Books, http://www.idgbooks.com
ISBN 0-7645-6020-4, 303 pages,
fully illustrated
$29.99 U.S., £28.99 U.K.

For coherence, we’ll call the first one Internet Simplified, and the second one Internet Visually. Both unusual books come from Maran Graphics in Canada. As Internet books go, these two are the most visually engaging and attractive ever, with no competitors even in distant second place. Readers, you must see the beautiful drawings and graphics in the Maran guides. If ever Internet books were works of visual art, these are the ones.

With such similar titles, why did Maran and IDG publish both books at the same time? I asked Frank Ferreira, from Maran Graphics, and he explained:

 

Well, Frank, I have been spending quite a bit of time recently with both
books, and they are in many respect more similar than different. The major dissimilarities are that Internet Simplified is a gorgeous, but very basic overview of the Net and the Web, including 71 colorfully illustrated pages of recommended Web sites, while Internet Visually has twice as many pages of comprehensive instructional material, and no Web listings.

Each book covers all the essentials, including everything from Web browsers and search programs to mailing lists, newsgroups, chat and multi-player games. Every page is bursting with color and clearly-written instructions.

My buying advice is a bit tricky, so pay attention. First, use Teach Yourself the Internet and World Wide Web Visually to help newcomers to the Internet become comfortable with the terms and scope of the Net and Web. I suggest that teachers and tutors have this book handy for students and their parents. The book is a complete winner. I prefer it to Internet and World Wide Web Simplified, 2nd Edition.

Next, learn how to use Yahoo (or any of the many search engines and Web directories) for WWW site recommendations. Finally, get help in any way manageable in order to have someone hold your hand with Internet-related set-up procedures.

Therefore I heartily RECOMMEND Teach Yourself the Internet and World Wide Web Visually for beginners.

Thank you very much for reading this series of reviews, and thanks also to the publishers and authors for making the seven books available to My Mac. See you next month.

 

 
John Nemerovski (johnemer@tmug.com)

URLs
http://www.jumpcity.com
http://www.mymac.com/reviews/book_bytes
http://www.idgbooks.com
http://www.seniornet.org
http://www.lycospress.com
http://www.maran.com
http://www.spacenews.com/
http://www.girltech.com
http://artcrimes.gatech.edu/
http://www.teleport.com/~megaines/women.html
http://www.elderhostel.org
http://www.seniorsnet.com/jobbank.htm
http://cityguide.lycos.com
http://panda.uiowa.edu/sail/
http://www.fyiowa.com/iowa
http://www.iowastatefair.com/
http://www.empg.com/etraveller/index.html
http://www.sec.gov
http://www.vanguard.com

http://www.infobeat.com

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