Book Bytes
MyMac Magazine #33

On January 1, 1998, in Book Review, by John Nemerovski

Macworld Mac OS 8 Bible
by Lon Poole
IDG Books Worldwide,

http://www.idgbooks.com

ISBN 0-7645-4036-X, 871 pages
$34.99 U.S., $48.99 Canada, £33.99 U.K.
Teach Yourself Macintosh in 24 Hours
by Howard Baldwin and Anita Epler
Hayden Books,

http://www.hayden.com

ISBN 1-56830-408-0, 392 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.95 Canada, £17.95 U.K.
Mac OS 8 For Dummies
by Bob LeVitus
IDG Dummies Press,

http://www.dummies.com

ISBN 0-7645-0271-9, 407 pages
$19.99 U.S., $26.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.
Mac OS 8 For Dummies, Quick Reference
by Dan Parks Sydow
IDG Dummies Press,

http://www.dummies.com

ISBN 0-7645-0312-X, 210 pages
$12.99 U.S., $17.99 Canada, £11.99 U.K.

 

Compare the amount of pages, and the prices, of these four books on OS 8, and you immediately realize that the entire spectrum of Macintosh readership is being targeted. Why struggle through the nuances of OS 8, when so many experienced authors have worked so hard to make the process easier? Let’s see what each book offers to our astute My Mac audience.

Lon Poole’s massive Mac OS 8 Bible claims to have “complete coverage of OS 8 PLUS System 7.5 and OS 7.6.” I admire Lon’s books and Macworld magazine articles very much, and this latest OS book is no exception. Throughout the book, Poole’s text presentation is clear and direct. He has plenty of charts, screen shots, tips, and helpful sidebars.

He begins with what’s special, what’s hot, and what’s cool about the Mac, and its latest operating system, or OS. In brief, OS 8 looks different than its predecessors, and it also works differently. The chapters on installing OS 8 (and OS 7.6 and 7.6.1, if necessary) are near the rear of the book, and are meticulous.

Part Two, “Getting Started,” covers the Desktop, Finder, Applications, Documents, System Folder, Control Panels, and accessory programs (formerly called Desk Accessories). In Part Three, he deals with Aliases, Fonts, Printing, Memory, Networks, and File Sharing. Over 400 pages are allocated to these two major parts of the book. The author aims to cover every aspect of using the Mac, and his attention to detail is impressive.

Part Four, “Beyond the Basics,” is where the fun begins. Multimedia, Internet, speech, scripting, and compound documents each has its own chapter. Adventurous Mac users will dive right into Part Five, with chapters for utility software, tips, and secrets galore.

The Macworld Mac OS 8 Bible is a serious book for serious Mac users. If you are serious about being the best possible Macintosher, buy this book and learn from Lon. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 

Teach Yourself Macintosh in 24 Hours was the the first book I read covering OS 8, and it’s also a winner. The authors have devised 24 “easy” lessons to instruct readers. Don’t worry: you can tackle each chapter on its own, within your personal timetable, and certainly not all in the same 24-hour day!

The first nine chapters comprise Part One, “Learning the Basics,” including the Desktop, Menus, Dialog Boxes, Finder, disks and drives, Apple Menu, System Folder, “your filing system,” and “Help.” Now, why should anyone need help? Isn’t this supposed to be easy?

The chapters in Part Two, “Improving Your Expertise,” covers Fonts, Applications, Networking, Printing, File Sharing, and Internet Connections.

The final section, Part Three, “Customizing Your Macintosh,” discusses software and hardware customization, multimedia, security and safety, DOS/Windows compatibility, networking, and automation.

Overall, Teach Yourself Macintosh in 24 Hours uses a very different approach from Macworld Mac OS 8 Bible. For readers who prefer a step-by-step method of acquiring new knowledge, the “hourly” system may be preferred. This second book is visually attractive, and well-designed. I consider it good value for money, full of immediately-useful information, and pleasant to read. RECOMMENDED.

 

Please excuse my lack of objectivity, but I am a huge fan of Bob LeVitus and his Mac OS For Dummies series. Does the latest edition fulfill my expectations?

Mac OS 8 For Dummies continues Bob’s inviting and amusing successful formula, geared to make readers feel comfortable with the OS from page one. I tip my hat to a book that begins with “What is System Software?,” and “What does it do?” Inexperienced Mac users will be glad to “Meet the Desktop” in Chapter Two.

One at a time, we learn about Menus, Dialog Boxes, the Apple Menu, files, printing, and RAM, followed by tips and “advanced techniques for beginners.” Bravo. He makes installing OS 8, and troubleshooting a Mac, sound like fun. Are we having fun yet? I certainly hope so. Control Panels, Internet software, and scripting receive valuable coverage.

Throughout the book, the lively text is peppered with tips, warnings, ample graphics, and Mac-friendly cartoons by Rich Tennant. I’ll get right to the point: beginners should have this book. Whenever I am feeling frustrated and stuck, I haul out a Dummies book, and often solve the problem with a chuckle. Nice job on Mac OS 8 For Dummies. Keep up the good work, Bob. RECOMMENDED.

 

What is Mac OS 8 For Dummies, Quick Reference? According to the author, the book “gives you quick answers for your questions about using Mac OS 8 … efficiently and, perhaps, have more than just a little fun. Because this book serves as a handy reference to keep next to your Mac, … the instructions for carrying out these tasks are short, crisp, and concise.” Oh, I get it now.

The book is physically smaller than a normal computer book. Pages consist primarily of text, using graphics sparingly to conserve space. New OS 8 features are indicated with a special icon, to help the reader.

Mac OS 8 For Dummies, Quick Reference ends with “The Mac Command Reference,” an efficient 50-page concentrated reference section covering the major commands on the Desktop.

Overall, this book is certainly well-conceived, and is loaded with practical information, but I’m afraid it may miss the target audience. It is a supplement to Bob LeVitus’ book, not a replacement. Together, the two books pack a powerful punch, but are not as substantial as Lon Poole’s book.

I’ll need some time to get used to the Quick Reference concept (“Fun, fast, and cheap!”). Until then, I give this book a mild RECOMMENDATION. The price is right, and the author knows his way around the Macintosh. I welcome your comments.

 

 
Search Engines for the World Wide Web,
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner
Peachpit Press,

http://www.peachpit.com

ISBN 0-201-69642-8, 228 pages
$16.95 U.S., $23.95 Canada
The Little Web Book
by Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner
Peachpit Press,

http://www.peachpit.com

ISBN 0-201-88367-8
$14.95 U.S., $21.00 Canada
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Internet,
Fourth Edition
by Peter Kent
Que Corporation, http://www.quecorp.com
ISBN 0-7897-1404-3
$19.99 U.S., $28.95 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

In Search Engines for the World Wide Web, Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner bring a systematic, logical approach to the use of Web search engines. The Visual Quickstart Guide format is well-suited to this topic, which is much more informational than descriptive.

The organization and design of this book are splendid, using a two-column approach for both text and graphics on the same page. The reader quickly learns how search engines work, and the importance of keywords. Useful tips are plentiful. The brief chapter on Basic Search Tools is helpful enough to have you slam your fist into your keyboard and exclaim: “Why didn’t someone tell me this stuff in the first place?” Ditto for the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Web Searchers, such as: “Consider the source. Just because it’s on the Net does not mean the information is either accurate or true.”

Over 100 pages are devoted to Using the Leading Search Engines: AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo! Because I currently begin most of my Web searches with AltaVista, I immediately became a 300% more efficient searcher after reading the AltaVista chapter. I had never previously understood how to use the Advanced Search actions, and now I’m a whiz.

I am systematically learning and using the other primary search engines, and this fine book patiently helps at every step. In addition, the authors present nearly 50 pages on Using Specialized Search Engines, including Deja News, Liszt, Argus Clearinghouse, Four11, and Zip2, plus “Searching for Everything from Authors to ZIP Codes.”

Perhaps my favorite part of Search Engines for the World Wide Web is Appendix A, the Quick Reference pages, where all the important search commands are presented in alphabetical order by search engine name.

How much time do you currently spend on the Web, poking around and searching inefficiently? Would you like to improve your searching methods? Get my drift? RECOMMENDATION: This book is essential for everyone who spends more than two minutes per month on the Web, with practical information at an affordable price.

 

I have tremendous respect for Emily and Alfred Glossbrenner. Their book Internet Slick Tricks was one of the first books on the subject of the Net which I read, and it really motivated me.

 

The Little Web Book does not equal either of their books that I admire. This book, geared for beginners, is not comprehensive enough for my taste. It is somewhat out-of-date, using examples from Netscape Navigator 2. I would describe this book as “a little bit of everything, clearly written, which quickly leads the reader to further questions.”

Therefore, I cannot recommend it. Instead, spend more and get more, such as Adam Engst’s Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, Fourth Edition, reviewed in the August, 1997 issue of My Mac or the following title.

 

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Internet, Fourth Edition
is the successor to the Third Edition, which was also reviewed in our August, 1997 issue. As in the earlier version, the text and style are lively and informative. The publisher considers this book suitable for “New and Casual” users of the Net, and I agree. Peter Kent ends each chapter with The Least You Need to Know on each topic, which is a very useful approach for newcomers. This book is current, and I RECOMMEND it as an introductory volume on the Internet.

 

 
America Online for Macintosh,
Visual Quickstart Guide
by Maria Langer
Peachpit Press,

http://www.peachpit.com

ISBN 0-201-68807-7, 294 pages
$16.95 U.S., $23.00 Canada
How to Use America Online,
Third Edition, in Full Color
by Elaine Madison
Que Corporation,

http://www.quecorp.com

ISBN 1-56276-432-2, 224 pages
$24.99 U.S., $35.95 Canada, £23.49 U.K.

I am a regular user of AOL, of Peachpit’s Visual Quickstart Guide series, and of books by Maria Langer. Consequently, America Online for Macintosh, Visual Quickstart Guide is excellent, in your humble reviewer’s opinion.

America Online, version 3 (with version 4 coming any day, supposedly) is somewhat easy to learn, starting from scratch. This book, step-by-step, walks users of AOL through every area of the network. Newcomers to AOL are guided through the setup procedure, and soon are sending e-mail and cruising through AOL’s Channels. Experienced users can learn how to personalize AOL to maximize their online experience, and make the most out of America Online’s special features and Internet access.

The Chapter headings are: Getting Started, America Online Basics, Navigating America Online, Exchanging E-Mail, Using Message Boards, Exchanging Files, Participating in Live Chats, Keeping Track of Online Friends, Accessing the Internet, Working Offline, Customizing AOL, and Channel Surfing on AOL. This book is thorough!

Many AOL-3 users are not aware of the power of Preferences, located under the Members menu. In “Customizing AOL,” Langer covers every Preference, with detailed explanations.

One of the most valuable parts of this book is Appendix D, the 40-page Area and Keyword List. Keywords are the bookmarks to every content area within AOL. Having all these important keywords in handy printed form helps tremendously. Thanks, Maria.

This book is outstanding value-for-money, is loaded with information, and is written by a Mac expert for Mac users. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 

How to Use America Online, Third Edition, in Full Color takes an entirely different approach to AOL, aside from the emphasis on the Windows version of AOL-3. Each of the 25 chapters is illustrated with attractive graphics and screen shots on two-page spreads. The text is well-integrated with the pictures, and includes one instructive Tip Sheet per chapter.

The author takes the reader, one step at a time, into each feature of AOL, using “Try It!” guided lessons derived from real-world examples. The approach appears to be rather basic, but is actually well-conceived, and is surprisingly sophisticated. This inviting technique allows the user to learn what is necessary. Missing is the theory behind the procedure, but many users are not especially interested in acquiring background information.

For AOL members who learn visually, in project form, this book will reside near the computer, and will receive plenty of usage. The material is short, sweet, and specific.

I’m sending this book to my sister-in-law, who wants to use AOL on a “need to know” basis. For myself, I’ll be using Maria Langer’s America Online for Macintosh, Visual Quickstart Guide. Whichever book you choose, I wish you all the best with your America Online experience.

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