Inside .Mac Making the Most of Your .Mac Membership
by Chuck Toporek

O’Reilly Media

ISBN 0-596-00501-6, 360 pages
$19.95 US, $28.95 CN

Here we have one of the best-researched and most well written books ever reviewed by MyMac.com’s Book Bytes. Author Chuck Toporek immersed himself in this topic so we readers and subscribers can take advantage of his endless energy and expertise. If I attempted to create a book such as this one, working every waking moment for over six months, I could not approach the breadth and depth of coverage Chuck provides. By now you probably realize that Book Bytes considers Inside .Mac – Making the Most of Your .Mac Membership to be is as good as it gets. Congratulations and thanks to Chuck and O’Reilly Media.

If you or someone you know has an active .Mac membership, please give us your thoughts on the service in our Article Discussion area below. This review deals with a book, not an account, and we value your personal comments.

I spent a long afternoon reading this volume cover to cover, and I was surprised and impressed with all the .Mac features offered by Apple. Most users take advantage of one or two of the components within .Mac, notably email and Backup or iDisk, and people are missing out on several others that add value to the annual fee.

Inside .Mac takes readers slowly and patiently from “Setting Up Your .Mac Account” on a comprehensive, detailed journey all the way through “Using Virex” and “Using iSync with .Mac” to “Blogging with iBlog” and “.Mac’s Keyboard Shortcuts.” Have you encountered the “Common iDisk Error Codes,” or have a need to install the iDisk utility for Windows XP? Now’s your chance, with Chuck as your time-tested tutor.

Turning to pages at random, we encounter:

• IMAP Versus POP – Which Is Best for Me? (discussing hidden ways to access your .Mac email)

• Blogging with iBlog (a third-party application Chuck recommends for integrating your account with a user-friendly blog)

• From GIF to JPEG in a Jiffy (explaining why JPEG is the only type of picture compatible with .Mac’s slide publishing software, and how easily you can create JPEGs)

• Virus Scanning from the Terminal (if this appeals to you, I applaud your geek factor)

and dozens greater and lesser techniques and tips.

Screen shots are plentiful, all in ‘. At $20 US, the price of Inside .Mac is so loaded with reference and tutorial info that author and his publication team must have done this book as a labor of love, because I don’t think the title is a bestseller. I hope I’m wrong, and I’ll be using it on my daily rounds as a private computer tutor, urging my clients to find Chuck instead of Nemo when they need help with any aspect of .Mac.

The text is divided into four major parts, with the first dedicated to .Mac service particulars, email accounts, and iDisk; the second addresses Virex and Backup utilities; the third (now for some fun!) covers “Building a .Mac HomePage,” the aforementioned iBlog, plus iSync, Slide Shows, and iCards; and, finally, an appendix containing .Mac’s keyboard shortcuts and the error codes and Windows material mentioned above. Writing is clean and personal, like a long conversation with the most intelligent, articulate person you’ve ever met.

How else is an intrepid .Mac subscriber able to acquire the necessary instructions to do everything possible with the membership and its features? Not possible, says Nemo, wishing I had an extra couple of hours each day to dig deeper into Apple’s .Mac service. Inside .Mac: Making the Most of Your .Mac Membership is such outstanding value and so high in useful content that it’s at the top of our highest Book Bytes rating, 5 out of 5. If you are a .Mac member or plan to become one, run don’t walk to your favorite independent or online bookseller to purchase this title.

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