Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #42

Claris Em@iler Companion
by Tom Dell
AP Professional (Claris Press)
ISBN 0-12-208865-4, 293 pages
$27.95 U.S.

With this book, we welcome AP Professional to our distinguished list of computer book publishers. They have sent several additional titles, which I will be reviewing soon. I should hurry, because Em@iler, or Emailer, is now an orphan, having been cast adrift by Apple during its recent consolidation. The application is still a darn good one, and deserves a solid book of its own.

The original printed manual for Emailer is slim and concise, because the program is fairly easy to learn and use, and contains an extensive companion Help application. When I was first learning to use Emailer, though, I really could have used Claris Em@iler Companion!

If you are still stumbling through Emailer’s many built-in options and commands, do yourself a favor and take a good look at this book. Every user of Claris Emailer should be able to become fully proficient (dare I say “power-user”?) after a few months, from my personal experience.

Where are we headed? It appears that Eudora has moved into permanent first place in the Macintosh email client race, but I know of many dedicated Emailer users who value its few unique features and ease of operation.

I must mention Chapter Seven: “Customizing Claris Emailer,” in which readers can become familiar with the program’s many advanced features, from Preferences to Apple Script capabilities. The bulk of the book systematically covers each component of Emailer, from “How Email Works” and a detailed “Getting Started” chapter, through everything else the powerful application offers. The book is loaded with helpful screen shots, and is written from a friendly first-person perspective. RECOMMENDED.

Internet Bible
by Brian Underdahl and Edward Willett
IDG Books Worldwide
ISBN 0-7645-3216-2, 1046 pages
$39.99 U.S., $56.99 Canada, £36.99 U.K.

I am going to use my comments on this excellent book to let off a little steam, so please bear with me.

This Internet Bible is truly outstanding in many ways. Every current aspect of the Net is covered thoroughly and thoughtfully. The text and illustrations are right on the mark.

You name it: getting connected, all about email, browser bonanza, Web searching, creating Web pages, and much more; all are here. A 100-page Web Directory covers recommended URLs, ranging from Acting and Agriculture to Weather and Web Page Design. Are you familiar with <>? Give the URL a whirl.

What’s my gripe? Since I can’t find anything wrong with this bible, should I look for blemishes beneath the skin?

I am really getting irritated with top-quality books from my favorite publishers that DON’T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE MACINTOSH PLATFORM EXISTS! Granted that the back of the book specifies System Requirements: Windows ad nauseum; really, friends, is it too much to ask, in this increasingly cross-platform world, to give Apple a little nod once in a while?

Let’s speculate: there are somewhere around 100 million Internet users, in one form or another, throughout the world, and between 10 and 20 MILLION OF THEM use the Mac on a regular or irregular basis. In my book, that means a lot of potential customers for this book, don’t you think?

Departing from my customary impartial approach, I hereby go public:

The Mac is here to stay. Macintosh users buy books. Include us, and we will make it worth your while. Thank you.

Whew. I feel much better now.

Internet Bible is not worth $40 U.S., readers, because you can’t use the CD in your Macintosh. But, if you have a close friend, relative, or co-worker who knows which way the Windoze blows, encourage this person to buy the book and leave it laying around your desk, so you can benefit from the wisdom and experience of the authors. ‘Nuff said?

Brian Underdahl provided the following comments, for the benefit of our Book Bytes readers.


At least you acknowledge the value of the Internet Bible. The
unfortunate reality, however, is that while we would like to give full
coverage to everything, we just don’t have the room. I had enough
material that four of the chapters had to be moved to the CD-ROM, and
we had far more software than we could fit on a single disc. Yes, I
ended up having to cut some very good material—including some Mac

If you feel bad consider how Intel and Philips must feel. Intel provided
me with several thousands of dollars in engineering samples but we had
to drop that material (well, move it to the CD, really). Philips provided a
digital camera, suffered the same fate as Intel, and then dropped their
marketing plans for the unit.

I honestly feel that the CD-ROM is a nice side benefit but certainly only
a small part of the reason for buying the Internet Bible. A large
percentage of the written material applies to all platforms. Sure, you
might have to download a Mac version of some of the software, but
that’s not a real hardship anymore.

What’s more important is the care and effort that went into providing
extremely useful information about all aspects of the Internet. I’d hate to
see that aspect lost simply because we couldn’t include everything we
wanted to on the CD-ROM.

I hope you can understand that even as the author or co-author of over
50 computer-related books, I guess I’ll just have to put up with trying to
stuff 1500 pages of material into 1000 pages, and 1+ GB of software
onto a 650MB CD-ROM.

Please don’t be hard on IDG. The conditions I mentioned are
industry-wide and I think IDG does the best of any of the publishers
I’ve worked with over the years.


Thank you, Brian and IDG. We appreciate your candor and professionalism here at Book Bytes.

Photoshop for the Web
by Mikkel Aaland O’Reilly & Associates
ISBN 1-56592-350-2, 197 pages
$29.95 U.S.

The author is a knowledgeable photographer, and brings a fresh perspective to the deep waters of Photoshop books. His tips and techniques are focused (excuse the pun) and functional. For instance, have you encountered the “dreaded halo syndrome”? Quite possibly. Aaland deserves a halo for his treatment of this annoying “unwanted, hard-edged effect,” and much more. He knows Photoshop inside out, and how to maximize it for Web creation.

I enjoyed following his personal examples from start to finish, such as: “For my web site, Val Stambaugh turned a color photograph to grayscale as a background. Since she gave me the task of preparing the photograph, I followed these steps …. Although the background turns blotchy when viewed on an 8-bit monitor, I am very happy with the results.”

His writing style is clear and relaxed, which will assist readers in following the exact step-by-step instructions and procedures for creating with Photoshop. The pages in Photoshop for the Web vary in design, which adds to the visual interest of the book. In format, many of the margins contain illustrations or sidebars, and others are wide and blank. Is he thinking that “creative types” might want to doodle and sketch? That’s reasonable.

I was starting to become irritated that this book has so few color illustrations, all bunched together in the center, but then I noticed the URL for color versions of every graphic. This dedicated Web site is speedy and colorful, and I applaud the author and publisher.

Mikkel Aaland knows Macintosh, and uses the Mac as his primary platform, with appropriate references to Windows when needed. He utilizes the participation of over 20 outstanding contributors, and references the email address, or URL, for each of them.

I am learning that $40.00 U.S. is the magic number for books covering computer graphics and design topics. At a 25 percent savings, Photoshop for the Web is good value. I RECOMMEND this book for anyone wanting to make the most out of the “photo” aspect in Photoshop.

Elements of Web Design:
The Designer’s Guide to a New Medium,
Second Edition
by Darcy Dinucci <>
with Maria Giudice <>
& Lynne Stiles <>
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69698-3, 238 pages
$39.95 U.S., $55.95 Canada

Every few months, a book appears in my Book Bytes in-basket that stops me in my tracks. Elements of Web Design: The Designer’s Guide to a New Medium is such a book. This wonderful new edition of a fine earlier book was so stimulating that it inspired me to establish an annual Best of Book Bytes award program, which is discussed in my Nemo Memo column this month.

Let’s get the corrective-criticism over with:

1. The sans-serif type is too small for aging eyes.

2. It would be nice to have a “Sources” section, providing fax/voice/email/URL info for the many credited designers.

Shall we move on to the praise?

A. Design is this book’s hallmark, on every attractive, informative page.

B. Glossary items are defined, page by page, when pertinent to the topic under discussion. The Glossary itself is top-notch.

C. This book is *very* Mac-centric, and handles cross-platform concerns effortlessly.

D. The illustrations and examples are of the highest quality, and are printed beautifully.

E. Appendix page references are used ideally, linking the HTML code and browser version information to the pages in the book where they are applied.

F. The overall approach appeals both to younger and more mature minds. I don’t know how the authors pulled this off, but they did.

G. The physical pages are large, and horizontal, allowing for a loose columnar structure in which text, illustrations, headings, tips, URLs, and quite a bit more all fit comfortably.

H. The many quotes from respected designers are worth pasting on the wall of your office, in 72 point type, such as: “When I first started designing for the Web, I had to totally change my attitude about the work. I was used to print, where I would get this moment of relief when I had the final product in my hands. But on the Web you’re never done.” (Sabine Messner, HotWired)

On a personal note, I consider Elements of Web Design: The Designer’s Guide to a New Medium to contain sufficient varied material to inspire and keep me busy for an entire year. The authors’ approach is a free-flowing interactive, creative time line, which the readers can work through at their own paces.

I’m going out on a limb with all this praise. Elements of Web Design is equal to Peachpit’s Wow! series, which I have previously reviewed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Darcy Dinucci adds, via email:

I’d love it if you’d mention that the book is meant to be an introduction to
Web design, providing an beginning to every aspect of the craft. We
wrote it for people who think they want to do Web design but don’t
know exactly what doing Web design entails.

By the time readers finish this book, we hope they feel confident
throwing around words like “plug-in,” “JavaScript,” and “Dynamic HTML”
— and know what all those things are for. And we hope, too, that they’re
inspired to do some Web design of their own.

P.S. You’re right: We’re Mac people. I guess the Mac-centrism just
sneaks in — though I had a PC person do a tech read to keep me

P.P.S. I just checked out your My Mac Magazine site, and now it’s a
new bookmark.

Thank you, Darcy.

HTML Artistry: More than Code
by Ardith Ibañez and Natalie Zee
Macmillan/Hayden/New Riders
ISBN 1-56830-454-4, 286 pages
$40.00 U.S., $57.95 Canada, £36.99 U.K.

The keywords here are “artistry” and “code.” This unusual book is aimed toward experienced, creative, imaginative website designers; “no plug-ins or fancy CGI scripts” are used.

Real world examples are used extensively, both from Web-based designs and non-Internet media. Interviews and profiles of top-notch creative artists add plenty of flavor and insight to the text. The authors’ own professional work is utilized for demonstration purposes, and they really know their stuff.

Where to begin? How about with the essentials of type, which are well-explained in Chapter Three. Readers receive detailed explanations of which fonts work where and when, on both platforms and on all browsers. Color theory, which can be really tricky, is handled in a separate, excellent chapter.

The first part covers classic HTML, and the second part digs deeply into Dynamic HTML, or DHTML, including profuse info on:

• layers

• cascading style sheets

• animation.

HTML Artistry: More than Code is thoughtfully-designed, with taupe Tips and blue Notes scattered throughout the text and illustrations. URLs are listed at end of each chapter for the sites mentioned. The authors who co-created the book included tasteful color and graphics. HTML code is presented in blue, for easy reading and transcribing. The three appendices cover HTML, cross-browser DHTML, and style sheet reference lists.

Is this colorful and attractive book worth $40.00 (or more, if purchased outside the U.S.)? The answer is yes, but only if readers are prepared to do their homework, and apply the lessons in HTML Artistry: More than Code on a continuing basis. If you fit this profile, locate the book and see for yourself. RECOMMENDED.

How to BOSS your Fonts Around, 2nd Edition
by Robin Williams
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69640-1, 188 pages
$16.95 U.S., $23.95 Canada

This is a little book containing a ton of practical information. Robin begins How to BOSS your Fonts Around with “If you actually read this book I guarantee you will be in total control” of your power struggle with fonts, and she means business. The early chapters are filled with essential information most people never learn, and should be required reading for all serious Macintoshers.

Her many examples are terrific, and truly enhance the informative text. If you ever were confused regarding PostScript, QuickDraw, Bitmapped, TrueType, or ATM fonts, you will soon have a firm grip on these topics, in sensible detail. For me, the first section, “Font Technology,” is more of a dynamic reference book: read, remember, review.

When necessary, she offers firm, gentle imperatives, such as “There is one important rule to remember: do not keep two typefaces with the same name in your computer; that is, do not store TrueType Times and PostScript Times in your computer or you are asking for trouble.”

Chapter Eleven, “How to Organize Your Fonts,” is worth the entire cost of the book, for readers who follow the author’s advice. The next chapters detail font management software and utilities, again with screen shots and graphics galore. The book concludes with a troubleshooting guide and a list of font vendors. The Glossary is worth memorizing, covering, in 33 pages, every imaginable font topic. Do you know what a “virgule” is? Ha! Turn to page 176.

Robin Williams’ writing sparkles. Gee, I wish I could write as well as she does! The book is well-designed, with selective use of bold italics for emphasis.

How much is there to know on the subject of fonts and font-management? Plenty! Unless you are already an expert, you will become one after reading and using How to BOSS your Fonts Around. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh,
Visual QuickStart Guide
by Dan Henderson
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35351-2, 283 pages
$18.95 U.S., $26.95 Canada

Is there an echo around here, or some sort of deja vu? Why am I thinking about IDG’s Office 98 Bible (reviewed recently here in Book Bytes) while perusing Peachpit’s similar title? I have been through a similar process several times, with predictable results. Keep reading.

The Visual QuickStart Guide’s task-based approach is very useful for newcomers to Office 98. In fact, the author presumes that his readers can begin with no knowledge whatsoever and still make the most out of Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh. Experienced users will find the book helpful for expanding their range of skills. In fact, I wish all software came with manuals such as this book. Fat chance!

Let’s face it: Office 98 is a behemoth, which is why I am somewhat suspicious of this slim volume. Just the same, Henderson has ably identified the many features and functions in “O-98.” As in other books in this excellent Visual QuickStart series, inner columns are dedicated to illustrations and screen shots, with text and tips in the outer columns. I found the graphics particularly helpful when charts were being covered.

Office 98 is broken into its components, with step-by-step indexed sections. Very nice touch. The Word application receives more pages than do the other apps, which is sensible. I was surprised that after introducing the generic basics of O-98, Henderson began his tour of Office with a brief chapter on “Office and the Internet,” touching on the Web and email, but that’s no criticism.

Speaking of the beginning, the first two chapters are like Genesis, entitled: “Basic Macintosh Procedures” and “Essential Office Techniques.” Good thinking, Dan.

Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh is well-suited to its audience of beginner and intermediate level users, and I hope it sells like wild. My suggestions to improve this book are to fill all that white space with more tips, tricks, techniques, and helpful graphics. The pressures of deadlines are substantial, but half-blank pages are wasted opportunities.

This Microsoft Office 98 for Macintosh book is very good value, and provides an opportunity for non-power users to become familiar with Office in a convenient, task-based manner. As to unfair comparisons the IDG Bible, forget ‘em. This book stands on its own, and I RECOMMEND it for the appropriate readers.

Real World Scanning and Halftones, 2nd Edition
by David Blatner, Glenn Fleishman, and Steve Roth
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69683-5, 388 pages
$29.95 U.S., $41.95 Canada

This book is one-of-a-kind, from my experience. It aims to be “the definitive guide to scanning and halftones for the desktop.” The writers claim: “We have no doubt that with all this information under your belt, in no time you’ll be roaring through the desktop-publishing jungles, scanner in one hand, imagesetter in the other — a true DTP professional.” That would be exciting!

When you have a moment, visit the dedicated website for the book, <>, to get a glimpse of the commitment the authors have for their readers. At this URL you can find the latest links and chapter resources, plus quite a bit more.

Real World Scanning and Halftones is divided into three parts: scanned images, halftones, and applications. Let’s take the final four chapters first, which briefly cover the major apps for image creation, illustration, page layout, and scanning, including: Photoshop, DeBabelizer, Illustrator, Freehand, PageMaker, QuarkXPress, and several more. Every chapter contains witty, insightful personal commentary from the team, such as: “The applications we still find most baffling are the programs that ship with scanners.”

Part One addresses the basics of scanning, from simple to sophisticated, including:

• bitmapped graphics and file formats

• image resolution and sharpness

• compression and images for the Web.

My favorite chapters in the scanner section are on color output, OCR, and Photo CD. We are advised: “How does the color get out of the monitor onto paper or film? The answer: very carefully.” Also: “Why is OCR so difficult? Can’t the computer just see the words? The answer, in a word, is No.”

Part Two, on halftones, is technical on an as-needed basis, when discussing:

• photographic versus digital publication

• more than you ever knew existed on the topic of “spots”

• stochastic screening (sounds scary, but it isn’t).

In addition, attractive color examples of every major concept are tucked into this part of the book, about the time I was getting really frustrated looking at black-and-white approximations. Other chapter titles include: Rosettes & Moirés, When Grids Collide, and Who Does the Halftone?

I came to Real World Scanning and Halftones with limited knowledge of either topic, and now I am starting to feel somewhat comfortable. The chapters are short and specific, and are referenced to one another. The chatty, friendly writing style enables new concepts to be handled in a warm-and-fuzzy manner.

This bi-platform book is useful, especially for beginning and intermediate users, and I certainly RECOMMEND it. For the price, I suggest many more color pages in the next edition, to be located appropriately among the corresponding topics.


Five More Basic Internet Books!!

After spending so much time reading and thinking about the Internet Bible, which receives a complete review this month in Book Bytes, I realized that there are many new books claiming to cover the entire Internet. As a bonus, here are five of them, with my capsule comments.

Using the Internet, Fourth Edition
by Barbara Kasser
Que Publications
ISBN 0-7897-1584-8, 521 pages
$29.99 U.S., $42.95 Canada, £27.49 U.K.

Thorough and comprehensive, but a bit too heavy on Microsoft and Windows for my taste.

Internet in a Nutshell
by Valeria Quercia
O’Reilly & Associates
ISBN 1-56592-323-5, 430 pages
$19.95 U.S., $28.95 Canada

A bit “techie,” which I like, but insufficient graphics for readers unfamiliar with the look and feel of the Net.

Internet for Dummies, Fifth Edition
by John R. Levine, Carol Baroudi,
and Margaret Levine Young
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0354-5, 376 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

For beginners, excellent in every way. This topic is perfectly suited to the Dummies approach.

More Internet for Dummies, Fourth Edition
by John Levine and Margaret Levine Young
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0369-3, 384 pages
$22.99 U.S., $33.99 Canada, £21.99 U.K.

If you are prepared to spend the money to buy both books in this Internet for Dummies series, you should probably purchase a better intermediate-advanced title, such as IDG’s Internet Bible, reviewed in Book Bytes this month.

Sams’ Teach Yourself the Internet in 24 Hours, Starter Kit
by Ned Snell
Sams Publishing
ISBN 1-57521-402-4, 405 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $35.95 Canada, £23.50 U.K.

Sensible book for beginners and intermediates. The 24-lesson concept is effective.

•John Nemerovski• <>


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