Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #57

Internet Kids & Family Yellow Pages, Millennium Edition
by Jean Armour Polly
Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-212185-8, 820 pages plus CD
$34.99 U.S.

If the media center at your (or your children’s) school does not already own this new edition, please purchase and donate it to them. Every classroom and library should have this yellow pages available for teachers and students to plan and coordinate their web searches. The information is so valuable, and the presentation so appropriate, that Book Bytes is honored to have this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED title on our permanent bookshelf.

I wish I were 40 years younger so I could sit at a school iMac and impress my pals with what I found in Internet Kids & Family Yellow Pages. For personal, family, and educational use, this book can’t be beat. It contains thousands of diverse URLs, complete with snappy descriptions, plus extensive sections featuring countries of the world, guidelines for safe Internet usage, and free updates at the author’s website.

MacMice Rating: 5
Sams Teach Yourself Linux in 10 Minutes
by John Ray
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31524-6, 211 pages
$12.99 U.S., $18.95 Canada, £10.99 U.K.

Titles such as this one make me laugh. Super-smart programmers have been working on the Linux operating system for years now, so how can we mortals expect to learn it in such a short time? In 20 brief, specific lessons, readers are taken from ground zero to surprisingly sophisticated usage. The author promises to introduce you “to basic Linux commands in a way that is informative and easy to understand,” and at first glance he succeeds. If you want to immerse yourself in the fundamentals of Linux up to your ankles, Sams Teach Yourself Linux in 10 Minutes will help you decide if you want to go any deeper.

MacMice Rating: 3
The BeOS Bible
by Scot Hacker, with Henry Bortman and Chris Herborth
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35377-6, 916 pages
$34.99 U.S., $52.50 Canada

Please don’t give me a hard time about how long this book has been collecting dust in our “reviews pending” pile. Until last month I was afraid to open it, not having the slightest knowledge of BeOS. We recently had a fascinating presentation on BeOS at our Tucson Macintosh Users Group, and now my legs aren’t quite so wobbly as I carry this chubby bible to my reviewer’s sofa.

BeOS is both very powerful and quite limited, until more software is created specifically for it. If you speek geek, the contents of The BeOS Bible will arouse you from the opening pages. If your interest is marginal, you can drop by your local bookstore and look over the text to see if you want to go any farther. You certainly will enjoy reading the many interviews with people who have been involved with BeOS. If I had an extra month, I would put into practice all the material covered in the book. Until then, I can RECOMMEND this bible for everyone who wants to get past the hype of the legendary BeOS.

MacMice Rating: 3
PDF with Acrobat 4, Visual QuickStart Guide
by Ted Alspach
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35461-6, 191 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada

PDF is heavy-duty, but this book is slim. What’s the catch? I’m particularly curious, keeping in mind the 700-page book (plus CD!) on the subject reviewed last month from a competing publisher. This author appears to have distilled (get the pun?) everything necessary to go from complete newbie to proficient intermediate, including an extensive opening unit on making the most out of Acrobat Reader. The lessons, tutorials, and tips in PDF with Acrobat 4, Visual QuickStart Guide add up to a valuable package, which Book Bytes certainly RECOMMENDS. If you are new to the full version of Acrobat, this book is good value for money.

MacMice Rating: 3
Que’s Official Internet Yellow Pages,
Millennium Edition
by Marcia Layton Turner and Audrey Seybold
Que Corporation
ISBN 0-7897-2152-X,
1179 pages plus CD (Windows only)
$29.99 U.S., $44.95 Canada, £21.99 U.K.

I always look forward to new titles in the Internet Yellow Pages category. Something is missing this time around, because even though this new directory is loaded with well-presented information, a sense of vitality is missing for me. I adore books of this type, but I will probably not pick up Que’s Official Internet Yellow Pages, Millennium Edition as my first choice when looking up websites. Yes, the book is excellent value for money, but first make sure you will really be using it before you decide to purchase it. The rating is based on sheer volume of well-researched material, and the book is suitable for all libraries.

MacMice Rating: 3
User Friendly: The Comic Strip
by Illiad (J. D. Frazer)
O’Reilly & Associates
ISBN 1-56592-673-0, 122 pages
$12.95 U.S., $18.95 Canada

I’m either too old or too square, because I have never enjoyed adult comic books. I was hoping this one would shake me out of my post-Batman apathy, but no such luck. The drawings are mildly entertaining and the geeky text is somewhat interesting, so I’ll simply take a pass on this title. Hey, here’s an idea. I’ll send the book to one of our My Mac Magazine cartoon artists, for his opinion. Meanwhile, consider me underwhelmed.

MacMice Rating: 2
I Want My MP3!
(How To Download, Rip, & Play Digital Music)
by Bill Mann
ISBN 0-07-212290-0, 372 pages plus CD
$19.99 U.S.

With such a compelling title, how could this book fail to satisfy? The information is adequate, but totally ignores the Mac OS as a MP3 platform. (Hint to author/editor/publisher: that is a No-No.) Neither the software, music selections, nor book content match the Dummies series MP3 title reviewed recently, which itself was only marginally up to our Book Bytes standard, so we’re still looking for the best title on this hot subject. Please be patient, because I expect some astute author/editor/publisher will deliver a top-notch MP3 book soon.

MacMice Rating: 1
Sams Teach Yourself to
Create Web Pages in 24 Hours, 2nd Edition
by Ned Snell
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31716-8, 438 pages plus CD (Windows only)
$24.99 U.S., $37.95 Canada, £17.99 U.K.

The first-person approach of this author makes enjoyable the process of working through his 24 lessons, even though most application-specific material is derived from the “other” platform. Snell’s HTML tutorial will be appreciated primarily by savvy Macintosh users, because newcomers won’t know the Mac stuff from the Windows content. Yet since so much relating to web publishing is cross-platform or basic design information, you may consider giving this book to a Windozer, then borrowing it and gleaning a considerable amount of usable relevant knowledge.

MacMice Rating: 2

And now for something REALLY different!

Pass the Polenta —
And Other Writings from the Kitchen
by Teresa Lust
Ballantine Books / Random House
ISBN 0-345-43565-6, 272 pages
$11.95 U.S., $17.95 Canada

From the mainstream publisher of The Best of Online Shopping (by Price and Price; see Book Bytes for December, 1999) comes this very non-computer book. My wife, Barbara, calls it “easy to read and unpretentious,” and I agree.

I am nearly finished reading Pass the Polenta, and I have to force myself to slow down and savor the experience. The culinary anecdotes and essays are enjoyable and informative. The author’s wealth of first-person experience in both family and professional kitchens is exemplary.

If you like to eat, prepare, or discuss high-quality food, this book will make you long for second and third portions from Teresa Lust’s prose pantry. In sixteen helpings, with topics including “Enough Room for Strawberry Shortcake” and “On Tossing a Caesar,” the time spent reading this tasty treat of a book melts away like the buttery scones she describes in “A Secret Well Kept.”

Before I get even more carried away, if you want to elevate your culinary experience to the enjoyable level of your computing experience, please Pass the Polenta, and keep it moving! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

MacMice Rating: 4


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