Internet Directory for Kids and Parents:
A Cool Reference for the Whole Family
by Barbara Moran
ISBN 0-7645-0218-2, 407 pages,
Includes CD-ROM disk
$24.99 U.S., $34.99 Canada, £23.99 U.K.
Regular readers of Book Bytes know that Web site directories are one of my favorite categories of Internet books. This new directory is a “smartie” book from Dummies Press, and is well written and designed.
The author places “micons” (small icons) throughout the book, so readers “can tell at a glance something important about a site.” The eleven micons denote Web pages that indicate, for example: Ask the Experts, Homework Helper, Loads of Links, Plug-In Required, or Teen Territory. Under the URL for each site are the appropriate micons, such as: The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia
Web page screen shots are plentiful, averaging one per two-page spread. The listings average four per page in two spacious columns, and utilize very clear typography. This book is easy to read or skim, for most members of the family. The text is both informative and snappy. Every section concludes with Other Stuff to Check Out, which is a useful list of additional URLs, newsgroups, and search-engine keywords to supplement the featured Web sites. Nice bonus!
The Internet Directory for Kids and Parents is divided into seven major sections, by subject, such as Sports, Toys, Clubs, and Games, or Mother Earth, Father Sky, with several subject headings within each section (like Ecology Begins at Home, or Ten Great Sites for Parents). The Appendices cover Internet basics, how to use the CD, and a Family-Friendly Guide to Surfing Safety.
I like this book very much. Page after page motivated me to put the book down and fire up my Web browser. Additionally, in spite of its family-friendly title, this extensive directory will appeal to a very broad audience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
… and …
Great American Websites:
An Online Discovery of a Hidden America
by Edward J. Renehan, Jr.
ISBN 0-07-882304-8, 470 pages
$24.99 U.S., $34.99 Canada
Dear non-USA readers: please understand that this book’s use of “America” applies exclusively to the United States. I *know* that America refers to two large continents, so kindly excuse the publisher’s narrow definition of the name. That being said, the author is a fascinating fellow. He has written books on U.S. history and “several popular volumes on the mystical secrets of the Internet.”
The Contents section first provides chapter headings for the 21 major topic areas (such as The Great Outdoors, or Maps and Other Things Geographical), then lists every URL in numbered page order, from American Sports to Visual Arts in America (20 pages each). The Index has every site in alphabetical order, from Ansel Adams to Korczak Ziolkowski, “a self-taught sculptor who worked on Mount Rushmore.”
Edward Renehan *thinks Web* in each of his fine introductory essays, by placing URLs in boldface immediately following any given reference. This brilliant technique effectively establishes a mental link from the informative printed page to the World Wide Web in the reader’s head. Renehan’s choice of sites is long on U.S. history, which is his passion. He manages to sneak in some really peculiar items, as in “a poem inspired by and celebrating that blandest of all American food-stuffs: Wonder Bread,” at
The text is structured with two to five listings per page, and one site screen shot per two-page spread. The writing is quirky and personal, giving this unusual book a sense of an ongoing conversation with the author. If you always wanted to know how to roast pumpkin seeds, the entire process is described on page 68. The Appendix, entitled Searching the Web, is an exceedingly good explanation and tutorial covering AltaVista and Yahoo!
On a personal note, I am impressed with the music section, especially the jazz links and specific sites for Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I judge a Web site directory volume by the quantity and quality of information I will use on a regular basis. Do I RECOMMEND Great American Websites? Yes, if the United States, Americana, and U.S. history are of interest to you. Will I use it myself? Not much. Just the same, this book is very well done.
Netscape Communicator for Macintosh,
Visual QuickStart Guide
by Elizabeth Castro
ISBN 0-204-68886-7, 360 pages
$17.95 U.S., $24.95 Canada
Here is a very practical book covering some very powerful software. Netscape is a perfect subject for the Visual QuickStart format, in which excellent illustrations, screen shots, and Web pages are printed in inside columns, with text (and plenty of Tips) on the outside.
The Table of Contents utilizes a one-page-per-topic outline method, so readers can turn to a precise item, such as “Viewing a page’s HTML code.” A concise Introduction describes the components of Netscape Communicator 4 (NC4), explaining what is new and different from Netscape Navigator 3.
NC4 is broken into five parts: Netscape Communicator; The World Wide Web; Mail, Discussion Groups, and Conferences; Creating Web Pages; and (hold your breath) Preferences. Yes, an entire chapter on prefs: Appearance, Navigator, Mail and Groups, Composer, Offline, and Advanced Preferences.
Each major section systematically plows through the features of NC4, using a blend of explanation, tutorial, and targeted graphics. This book actually made me *want* to crank up Netscape and work my way through its hundreds of built-in features. I specially commend the author and publisher for printing Web pages as continuous, page-long vertical columns, rather than one-screen-at-a-time chunks.
This book is nicely structured and organized, with a logical order to each section. Additionally, the author offers personal comments, when appropriate, such as, “I’m not so sure this is an improvement; frankly, I find it a bit confusing,” which softens the rather intense presentation of information.
The Appendix, Composer vs. HTML, is very clever, demonstrating “how Composer converts the page’s elements and formatting into HTML.” In six pages of charts and text, Castro cracks open Netscape Composer’s Document Properties, Character and Paragraph Styles, Links, Images, Lines, and Tables. Very impressive, Liz.
My notes are full of comments such as “excellent” and “!!!!,” so by now you know that I think that Netscape Communicator for Macintosh is a winner. You could learn everything in the book from lots of error-and-trial, but this very visual and quick guide makes the process efficient and easy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
… and …
Teach Yourself Netscape Navigator 4 Visually:
Complete Coverage of Communicator
ISBN 0-7645-6028-X, 307 pages
$29.99 U.S., £28.99 U.K.
The maranGraphics teamwork approach succeeds once again, with Netscape Communicator 4 as the subject this time around. Using straightforward text and vivid pictures for every step-by-graphical-step on the journey, readers are escorted through the intricate maze of Netscape’s features quickly and colorfully (is that a word?).
Speaking of color, maranGraphics (mG) has chosen visually exciting commercial Web sites to use as the prototypes for the lessons and tutorials, such as
How do *you* learn? Do you realize that Netscape 4 is a complex application, worthy of multiple approaches to its constituent parts? Personally, I will gather more facts from Peachpit’s detailed Visual QuickStart Guide, reviewed above, but I immediately embrace concepts as presented in mG’s Teach Yourself Netscape Navigator 4 Visually. For “visual learners,” the latter book is great, and it is sequenced logically in its presentation.
The book begins by acquainting readers with the Navigator browser, then digs deeper, explaining more advanced features and plug-ins. An entire chapter is dedicated to managing Bookmarks. Next comes a long (80 pages) set of chapters covering email, with real examples, in lucid tutorial format. Each page is visually interesting, having generalized text and graphics on the upper half, and detailed targeted screen shots on the bottom.
Concise chapters on Netcaster and Conference follow the extensive Newsgroups and Composer chapters. The book concludes with home page shots from 32 vivid “cool sites.” I am intrigued by the Conference component for talking, chatting, and browsing simultaneously with other users. The book’s examples are from the Windoze world, which is no big deal, but have any of you actually used this Conference feature? How does it work?
Teach Yourself Netscape Navigator 4 Visually was created with newcomers to Communicator’s concept and operation in mind. Please, all readers, do yourselves a favor and look at this book next time you are in your local independent or chain bookstore. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Official America Online Internet Guide,
by David Peal and Kevin Savetz
Osborne McGraw Hill
ISBN 0-07-882345-5, 508 pages
Includes AOL software CD-ROM disk
$24.99 U.S., $34.99 Canada
Let’s start at the back. Appendix B, Indispensable Terms, contains 24 pages of clearly-defined Glossary lingo, with mention of more extensive glossaries available on the Internet. Appendix A, Your AOL Connection, patiently walks readers through the somewhat baffling experience of logging into AOL the first time, in 15 pages.
Chapter 11, The AOL 300 Directory, directs members to “the best Internet resources you’ll find on AOL,” with 15 well-written Web and Newsgroup descriptions for each of America Online’s 19 channels. This final chapter covers over 120 pages, averaging five listings and one screen shot per two-page spread.
The Official America Online Internet Guide is essentially a top-notch beginner’s guide to AOL, including using the network as an Internet provider for complete Web and Net access. Basic info is explained thoroughly in the first 100 pages, with important newbie topics such as “What is an email address?” and “Your Key(word) to the Internet.”
Speaking of Keywords, the authors delve extensively into the linked usage of versatile KWs to launch popular Web sites. I have not previously taken advantage of this capability, and plan to give it a whirl soon. Tips are plentiful throughout the text, with special “Only On AOL” boxes highlighting special features, including “Parental Controls on Mailing Lists.”
The instructional chapters are comprehensive and useful, on Newsgroups, Mailing Lists, and the World Wide Web, including searching. Readers can learn how to create personal AOL Web pages. My favorite article is “Creating the One-Minute Web Page (Give or Take),” which is very tempting.
Overall, The Official America Online Internet Guide receives an OK rating from me on the Web sites selected, with a definite RECOMMENDATION for its presentation of AOL and the Internet. In conjunction with Internet Directory for Kids and Parents, this AOL book will make a dandy one-two punch for newcomers. I was away from my Mac while reading the book, and it definitely made me want to get back on AOL and the WWW, right then!
… and …
The Official America Online Yellow Pages,
For Windows and Macintosh Users
by John Kaufeld and Jennifer Kaufeld
ISBN 0-07-882416-8, 502 pages
For starters, this AOL Yellow Pages is current to version 4.0 of AOL software, which is soon to be available. In presentation and style, the book is similar to Harley Hahn’s Internet and Web Yellow Pages, which I reviewed last month. Both books are published by Osborne, and contain bold slogans (“Bored? Give keyword RANDOM a spin.”), easy-to-read large type, and plenty of sidebar boxed tips:
Special sections present Getting Around on AOL, and Countries of the World, both of which add value to this book. The detailed Topic Index and Keyword Index list everything in the book in both appropriate alphabetical orders, which is a valuable resource. A more extensive, or 100 percent complete, AOL Keyword list would be even better.
I give The Official America Online Yellow Pages a lukewarm RECOMMENDATION. The book is well-done, but is not comprehensive. For newcomers to AOL who are fond of visiting sites by Keyword, this book would be worthwhile.
Using the Internet Special Edition,
by Jerry Honeycutt (and eight other authors)
ISBN 0-7897-1403-5, 726 pages
$39.99 U.S., $56.95 Canada, £37.49 U.K.
This book is a heavyweight, but is it a contender? For openers, both the Table of Contents and the Index are exhaustive and detailed, which indicates great care by the authors and publisher. The lead author, Jerry Honeycutt, is a prolific writer on Internet topics, as are many of his well-known colleagues on the authorial team. The Fourth Edition claims to be “all new, with no updates or revisions,” and also is supposed to cover Mac/Win/UNIX.
A thorough background on the Internet kicks off the proceedings, delivering ample charts and graphics, plus more detail than any retentive Internut needs. My opinion, Jerry: put this stuff at the *back* of the book.
Chapters Three and Four discuss setting up online service and ISP accounts, with browser basics for both Microsoft Explorer 4 and Netscape Communicator 4. An intriguing chart compares the features of the two browsers, but I could only find configuration instructions for Windoze applications. The book’s advice is “Regardless of which browser you like best, install both.” Then, in Chapter Nine, readers receive detailed instructions for each browser, including basic operation and use of the new channel technology.
Search engines are covered in Chapter 14, with a “Picking the Right Search Tool” chart to facilitate the selection process. Did you know about the AltaVista Topic Map, or InfoSeek’s piped-query feature? I certainly did not. Thanks, Jerry, et al. Email is attacked from both the browser-app and independent-app front (Eudora). Web-page creation tools and HTML get sufficient treatment, as does security on the Net.
Honeycutt explains Registering and Implementing Your Own Domain in a special Appendix, which I applaud. Tips and Troubleshooting advice are liberally sprinkled throughout the text, as are screen shots, charts, tables, and special Notes.
Who are the optimum purchasers and readers of Using the Internet Special Edition, Fourth Edition? Your humble reviewer RECOMMENDS this book for Windows folks who want solid details and thorough Internet source material. Yes, it’s a darn good book, but I consider it too expensive for Mac-value-for-money. Talk a good friend (a Win, probably) into purchasing it, then borrow it for a week.
Thank you, Jerry. We get the picture.
Macworld ClarisWorks Office Bible
by Steven A. Schwartz
ISBN 0-7645-4016-5, 685 pages
$34.99 U.S., $48.99 Canada, 33.99 U.K.
Whoa, now, Mr. Schwartz. What is ClarisWorks OFFICE, please? You explain, “ClarisWorks Office and ClarisWorks 5.0 are the same program. The only difference between ClarisWorks Office and ClarisWorks 5.0 is the former includes several add-on programs — including Claris Home page Lite, Netscape Navigator, and a series of business templates.” Thanks. Now I understand. You do mean Navigator 3.x, correct? Good. Oh, we have NN2.x also? How interesting. Having cleared up the OFFICE confusion …
This book is terrific. I have been glued to its predecessors since CW3, and I claim no objectivity with the latest version. With all the current changes occurring in the Claris camp, one fact remains. ClarisWorks is still a fabulous integrated software package, and Steve Schwartz still writes excellent books.
Continuing the Office/CW 5 discussion, I quote from page 51:
… which explains why my upgraded CW is version 5.0, which was released prior to CW Office. Are you totally confused yet? Of course not; you read My Mac Magazine.
Following his detailed Table of Contents, Schwartz’ ClarisWorks Office Bible is structured into Parts, Chapters, and Sections, and is loaded with Tips and Notes, including trumpet-icon “New in Version 5” alert messages. The book was written with Mac OS 7.x and 8.x users in mind, which I commend, and is loaded with large, clear CW screenshots, tables, and sidebars, many with targeted or bulleted tutorial-style graphics. Go, Steve, go.
Individual chapters are devoted to ClarisWorks’ modules: word processing, spreadsheet, data base, draw and paint, and communications. Mail merge receives special treatment, as do tables, stationery, preferences, macros, frames, and much more, in Part IV: Mastering ClarisWorks. Step-by-step lessons guide readers through specific procedures and actions.
Entirely new are Chapters 22 and 23, covering Creating Web Pages for the Internet, and The ClarisWorks Office Add-Ons, including the 64 JIAN Business Templates. These chapters alone are worth the entire cost of the book. The Appendices bring down the house, with a star-studded cast of Keyboard Shortcuts plus Spreadsheet and Database Function Definitions. This bible is substantial and comprehensive cover to cover.
There you have it: the premier book on the best Mac application. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I think I’ll order CW Office, so I can use Steve Schwartz’ new Macworld ClarisWorks Office Bible for maximum benefit. What’s next, Steve?
Thank you, Steve.
Speaking of next, in May, Book Bytes gets back on course with, hold on to your mouse pad, more browser-book wars. Thanks for reading.