Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #45

ClarisWorks 5.0: The Internet, New Media,
and Paperless Documents
by Jesse Feiler

AP Professional/Claris Press

ISBN 0-12-251332-0, 348 pages
$34.95 U.S., $48.96 Canada

I’m willing to bet my old mouse pad that you have never seen this book in any retail book store because I certainly have not. With the transfusion of enthusiasm for ClarisWorks/AppleWorks that the iMac has generated, today is the time to think about the powerful features of this integrated software package.

For the purpose of this review, I expect our astute readers to understand the basics of ClarisWorks. There are many excellent print and electronic resources for mastering its properties. Start thinking “paperless,” and your old pal CW suddenly opens new opportunities for expanding the repertoire of what you can do with the application.

Rather than send you deeper into CW, in parts one and two this book briefly delves into the unlimited opportunities you have to experiment and create all sorts of documents for personal use and on-line distribution, including QuickTime movies, linked documents, Web pages, and customized document solutions. Did you know you can create “client side image maps” with ClarisWorks?

The author moves into high gear in Part Three: ClarisWorks in the Real World. He explains how straightforward techniques and Claris Assistants can be combined, for:

• creating a newsletter, using style sheets, publish & subscribe, and linked text frames

• distributing the newsletter, with a mailing list database and mail merge

• posting the newsletter on the Web, including portable digital documents

• presenting the newsletter in person, with the help of CW’s slide show and image libraries.

Final sections discuss how ClarisWorks/AppleWorks can be used for operating a small office/home office (SOHO), and a few special features on ClarisWorks for Kids.

I have mixed feelings regarding ClarisWorks 5.0: The Internet, New Media, and Paperless Documents. The material is well-presented, but isn’t comprehensive enough for me, an experienced ClarisWorks user. I wonder who are the target purchasers of this title. If you are intrigued by my description, ask your local bookstore to order a copy so you can examine it yourself.
Word 98 for Macs for Dummies
by Dan Gookin and Dan Parks Sydow
Dummies Press

ISBN 0-7645-0230-1, 360 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

Like most Dummies titles, this book begins with common-sense basic info regarding the fundamentals of word processing and getting started with the application under discussion. Microsoft Word presents itself with assistants, tips, task and status bars, and the authors explain them all, concisely.

In Part One, readers learn the essentials for entering, editing, and printing text, and dealing with Word’s dialog boxes. The extensive built-in help features are discussed, followed by techniques for navigating within a document. The book is full of tips, sidebars, warnings, and itemized instructions.

I consider Word to be a rather serious piece of software, and the authors are able to convey important material in a surprisingly breezy manner. Microsoft’s spell and grammar checkers, which have received mixed reviews, are covered.

Part Two focuses on “Formatting — Making Your Prose Less Ugly,” complete with keyboard command shortcuts. It is here that Word’s amazing power is revealed, including advanced techniques such as tables, columns, and styled text.

Working with documents is handled in Part Three, along with templates and file management. Additionally, mail merge and HTML documents are covered here. Graphics and Wizards come along in Parts Four and Five, and the book ends with a large dose of tips.

Having said all that, I can’t manage much enthusiasm for Word 98 for Macs for Dummies. It may be personal, but I think the book is most useful for genuine beginners. Somehow I presume that our Book Bytes readers require a more substantial text, which is available either in Peachpit’s Visual QuickStart format, or in the IDG Bible for Office 98. Please look at all three offerings, before deciding which one is best for you.
Coffeehouse: Writings from the Web

Edited by Levi Asher

and Christian Crumlish

Manning Publications

ISBN 1-884777-38-4, 316 pages
$24.95 U.S.

This unusual book poses an important question: which is better, owning a book or having access to its contents via the Internet? Yes, this material is all available on the web, but is that how you want to read it? How about printing out selected stories yourself; is this a good or bad idea?

I am halfway through reading Coffeehouse: Writings from the Web, and I want to make sure it is reviewed in this issue of Book Bytes. Being a voracious reader, I welcomed the opportunity to have access to a large range of fiction and non-fiction that originated on the web, without having to browse, scroll, squint, or print it out.

This book contains eight thematic divisions, each with an editorial introduction followed by a bunch of entries of varying length. The pieces are contemporary, meaning they deal with “alternative” subjects and language typical to the Internet community. Most of the writing communicates clearly, and the book is very well-edited. The two Appendices address “finding good writing on the web” and “how to write for the web.”

The text includes both prose and poetry, plus some “new Net media” hypertext pieces and artwork. Design elements are subtle, yet effective, including the use of Courier font for all URLs and email quotations.

An engaging sense of spirit and vitality permeates the entire project. I applaud the publisher for encouraging this bold, daring venture, and urge you to support Manning Publications. I am still digesting what I have been reading, but I consider Coffeehouse: Writings from the Web worthy of my RECOMMENDATION only if you sample it first on the web.

Photoshop 5 Artistry: A Master Class for Photographers, Artists, and Production Artists
by Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler
New Riders Publishing

ISBN 1-56205-895-9, 357 pages plus CD
$55.00 U.S., $78.95 Canada, £51.49 U.K.

This book should be really good, judging from its promo material:

• “For serious professional photographers and digital artists who need to create expert imagery”

• “… you find out quickly that you cannot live without it.”

Once inside the pages, the first thing noticed is that the type is very small, so be prepared, and that most pages contain exquisite color illustrations or screenshots. Perhaps what we have here is a 600+ page book in condensed format. The CD contains all the book’s images, so each one can be manipulated while performing the authors’ projects.

Crumpler and Haynes are wife and husband, and this book is a confessed labor of love. They have been teaching how-to workshops for many years, and that spirit permeates their writing. Basic Photoshop theory and operation are handled in the early chapters, in a way that all levels of users will appreciate. Keyboard shortcut commands are provided whenever appropriate.

Five major sections divide the 43 chapters. Serious Photoshoppers will be satisfied by the extensive use of advanced techniques, such as the two-page spread, “Poor Scans and Their Problem Histograms,” then the corrected photos and good histograms. The many hands-on sessions begin in Chapter 19, starting with color-correcting a rather flat-looking photo of the Grand Canyon. Subsequent projects involve Adjustment Layers, duotones, and then tweaks of the original exercises before proceeding into more advanced hands-on sessions:

• color matching and correcting

• layering, graduated masks, blending, multiplying, and much more

• images for the Web and multimedia

I am at a loss to attempt to convey the quality of the instructional material and gorgeous illustrations in Photoshop 5 Artistry. If you use Photoshop for pro-quality projects, get off your ergonomic chair and examine this book today.

Production quality is superb, as indicated by the thick, hefty paper stock and exceptionally vivid illustrations. I have one regret, wishing that my artistic skill was up to the level of this terrific book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Barry Haynes reminds me that: You might mention that there is also a Photoshop 4 Artistry (of similar quality) for people who have decided not to upgrade to Photoshop 5.
Stopping Spam
by Alan Schwartz and Simson Garfinkel
O’Reilly and Associates

ISBN 1-56592-338-X, 191 pages
$19.95 U.S., $29.95 Canada

Don’t get me started on spam, which refers to unsolicited “junk” email and newsgroup postings. My flash point is just under the surface. Dealing with spam has consumed many hours of my personal and professional on-line time, and has drastically changed the way I conduct myself on the Internet.

This book hit me right between the eyes. It is direct, sensible, and has a great cover: a huge pig, with an inscrutable expression. The authors have done their homework, and communicate effectively.

The first part is the most interesting reading. In forty pages, the history and effects of spam are discussed, with many real-world examples. Next comes an explanation of “Internet basics,” and how spam works, from a mildly technical perspective. The final sections cover users’ guides to email and Usenet spam, then “Spam Stopping for Administrators and ISPs” and “Community Action.” A brief appendix offers “Tools and Information” for people who want to become more involved in the fight against the spam epidemic.

This book delivers an exceptionally valuable message to everyone who participates in Internet communication. Book Bytes thanks Alan, Simson, and O’Reilly for producing this RECOMMENDED title.

I have a suggestion for the publisher. Approximately ten percent of the material in Stopping Spam should be offered to the public, free of charge, for unlimited general distribution. This generosity would, hopefully, stimulate purchase of the physical book. The complimentary section could explain a little bit of history, and offer the authors’ basic information for restricting personal email spam.

My other suggestion concerns the price. Considering all the production and distribution costs of a modest title such as this one, in the case of Stopping Spam I wonder if making the book half as expensive would lead to more than twice as many sales.
Harley Hahn’s Internet & Web Yellow Pages, 1999 Edition
by Harley Hahn


ISBN 0-07-211887-3, 907 pages plus CD
$34.99 U.S.

Harley’s latest Internet directory is his best ever. In his FAQ section, Hahn mentions that “This book is my personal guide to the best resources on the Net,” and he means personal!

The inside front cover itemizes the 166 categories covered in the book, which are expanded in the 20-page, three-column Table of Contents. There is “Harley Hahn’s List of 25 Things to Do When You Should Be Working” with pages referenced to entice readers. He provides a concise primer on Usenet and mailing lists.

The pages are visually varied, and each page is designed to be both informative and entertaining. There are eye-grabbing fake ads, plus ample boxed sidebars and catchy bold quotes. Hundreds of unusual, fascinating items, primarily from Usenet, are given special attention in “Look What I Found on the Net.”

This new edition of Harley Hahn’s Internet & Web Yellow Pages appears to be easier to read and use, with large type throughout, and subject headings and Internet addresses in bold. The author’s successful approach is to keep the text lively, and he is quite good at it.

The site descriptions are loaded with good, practical information, with the perfect blend of serious and lighthearted details. Hahn’s many alphabetical subject categories place unexpected neighbors in juxtaposition. Between BIOLOGY and BOATS AND SAILING comes BIZARRE, with such gems as Air Sickness Bag Museum, Squashed Bug Zoo, and Tasteless Topics, each with its own URL and/or newsgroup; there are often multiple URLs, Usenet newsgroup and mailing lists in a single item.

The writing is very first person, and we learn a lot about Harley in the process: he grew up in Canada, practices yoga, likes popsicles, has a vegetable garden, is a fan of Perry Mason, has been both a mathematics and a medical student, was born on December 21, and is the sponsor of the Zhing MUD (no kidding). The physical book has high production values, and will be useful for many years. I have not tested the CD, but I expect it is also well-produced.

At my suggestion, Hahn increased and improved his coverage of the Macintosh, including a bit of humor at the expense of the site :

When the original Macintosh was introduced in 1984, it cost $2,500. Today it is worth about $15. If you had spent that $2,500 on Apple stock instead of a computer, you would have seen it increase to a high of $3,147,743 in the glory days of the Mac. Today, that same stock would be worth about $15.

Thanks, Harley, for including our My Mac Magazine site, and many others worth visiting.

Time permitting, I suggest you turn daily to any random page whatsoever in Harley Hahn’s Internet & Web Yellow Pages, and follow his site links. You will be pleasantly surprised each time, and will be coming back for more as soon as you can. I find this book to be irresistible, and its author to be amazingly astute. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Mac OS 8.5 Visual QuickStart Guide
by Maria Langer

Peachpit Press

ISBN 0-201-35357-1, 308 pages
$17.95 U.S., $26.95 Canada

I have to hand it to the team of Langer and Peachpit. This book shot off the press at the same time as OS 8.5 made its debut in mid-October, and should be available everywhere books are sold by the time you read my comments. Knowing Maria Langer, you can expect she will prepare updated comments on her website, to keep pace with Apple’s revisions of the operating system.

New features and components of 8.5 kick off the text, followed by step-by-step installation and setup instructions. Experienced users will probably plow along regardless, but everyone should proceed as advised by the author. What Maria has done is presume that the reader of Mac OS 8.5 Visual QuickStart Guide has no prior experience in dealing with an OS, as she literally guides us into the workings of the Mac, starting with the Finder and File Management.

Next come “Advanced Finder Techniques” and how to use applications. The book is thorough, and the pages are full of practical screen shots and tips. Then we have, systematically, “Apple Menu Items,” and my favorite chapter, “Using Mac OS Utilities.”

Working with dreaded PC files gets its own chapter, as does printing, networking and telecommunications, and “Connecting to the Internet” with 8.5. I am tempted to mention a few of the outstanding tips which intrepid users can immediately put to use, but I’ll leave them out, as a teaser.

Many of us can benefit from “Customizing Mac OS 8.5,” in the lengthy Chapter Twelve, and we all will need to learn about “Getting Help,” in lucky Chapter Thirteen. The three appendices cover menus and keyboard commands, PowerBook considerations, and then the mighty iMac.

This one is a clear call. I am not personally going to plunge into OS 8.5 for a little while, but when I do I will have Mac OS 8.5 Visual QuickStart Guide at very close range: essential information and excellent value. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Macintosh Bible, Seventh Edition
by Sharon Zardetto Aker

Peachpit Press

ISBN 0-201-87483-0, 1024 pages
$34.99 U.S., $52.50 Canada

Oooh, baby! We ALL have been waiting for this seventh edition of the famous Mac Bible. Sharon Aker has worked around the clock to finish it, and what a testament it is to her and the dozens of “tipster” collaborators.

I have read Bible-7 from cover to cover, and it is remarkable. The information is current to preview material on both the iMac and a beta version of OS 8.5. Aker specifies many recommendations for both software and hardware, in appropriate chapters, such as mice and trackballs, monitors, or scanners.

The content is heavy on text, using screenshots and diagrams as needed to illustrate specific points. Sharon’s witty writing style utilizes personal examples and anecdotes in a conversational manner, and there are tons of puns, such as the section headings:

• “My friend flicker” in More About Monitors, or

• “More ports in the SCSI storm” in The SCSI Chain: Cabling.

Margins contain URLs for websites of products discussed in adjacent paragraphs, plus references to kindred material in other chapters.

Macintosh Bible, Seventh Edition is strongest on essential facts, such as Mac OS tips, installation hints, an excellent chapter on fonts, and sections covering all the most common Macintosh applications. Chapters are divided among nine huge major sections, including: Productivity Software, Creativity Software, and The Operating System.

The author has created a special website for readers, and she is dedicated to keeping this new URL full of valuable details.

Sharon Aker adds the following comments to readers of Book Bytes, sent via email:

If you’re an experienced Mac user, perhaps even verging on being a “power user,” you’ll still find a lot of interesting stuff in the Bible (even power users don’t know all the desktop shortcuts, and don’t usually have time to discover them on their own). For readers looking to take that final step into poweruserhood, check out Chapter 10, “Other System Stuff”: you can start dabbling in AppleScript and ResEdit, but the real power is hidden in macros (treat yourself to QuicKeys or OneClick).

Let me invite you to my website, . It was originally set up to collect tips for the Bible, but the last one is finished and the next too far away. So, it offers a “tip of the week,” a newsletter (reviews, tips, issues), shareware info, links to useful sites, Bible corrections and updated info, and a place for questions and feedback that will be “recycled” back onto a page for everyone to see. It’s a work-in-progress (and probably will always be); in addition to each section developing further, the next major section will be a place for system and application tips that can be shared (why wait for the next Bible?). Please come on by.

Thank you, Sharon.

I could spend a week offering specific examples, and praising this book. The punch line: own it. Tell everyone you know about it. For the price of a decent dinner for two, sink your teeth into Bible-7. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
New Riders’ Official World Wide Web
Yellow Pages, Abridged Version
by Marcia Layton
New Riders Publishing

ISBN 0-7357-0005-2, 502 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.95 Canada, £18.49 U.K.

This book is a pip-squeak version of the full-size yellow pages I have reviewed favorably year after year. Do yourself a favor, and get the big edition, or one of its weighty competitors. I cannot recommend this junior publication.

Back to the Book Bytes library, friends. More coming your way in the next issue. Thanks for reading.

•John Nemerovski•

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