Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #59

Upgrading & Troubleshooting Your Mac
by Gene Steinberg
Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-212327-3, 567 pages plus CD
$29.99 U.S.

Gene Steinberg’s “book of revelations” places him at the summit of Macintosh authors. This title is now mandatory on the shelves of all intermediate Macintoshers, gurus, tutors, and power users who are not yet experts up to the Steinberg standard.

Gene is a busy fellow, running a 24/7 Mac info website, serving as a high-end consultant, contributing reviews to MacHome Journal, publishing a sci-fi space opera with his talented son, plus writing and revising popular titles for another publisher on the iMac and iBook (both being reviewed here in Book Bytes; one in this month’s BONUS capsule review). Whew!

He has come a long way from his earlier excellent books on AOL, this time tackling the entire current lineup of Mac G3/G4/legacy hardware and an impressive range of software issues. With Mac Secrets 5, Sad Macs, and Mac Upgrade and Repair Bible, Steinberg’s Upgrading & Troubleshooting Your Mac is on the “must own” and “must read” list for all conscientious consultants.

In addition to the useful CD containing many essential freeware, demoware, and shareware utilities, the 23 chapters take readers through a profuse range of solutions for hardware, system software, memory upgrades, portable computing, graphics, printing, monitors, and a whole lot more. Every item is covered thoroughly, in a reassuring first person “been there, done that” approach highlighted by dozens of “Case History” problem resolutions.

I began taking notes of the strengths in Upgrading & Troubleshooting Your Mac, and soon found myself reading non-stop, muttering “Oh! Now I know why and how that #%&* thing is supposed to work, and why it was causing so many crashes!” The information is totally current to the iBook and OS9, so readers know the author and publisher made every effort to make the book valuable for years to come.

Gene has hundreds of sidebar tips and warnings, and all his explanations and itemized steps are delivered in a friendly, patient voice. Are you already an expert in:

• testing your new equipment and peripherals;

• doing clean installations;

• working with RAM and upgrade cards; or

• managing your fonts and printing?

Do you know the cure for the mysterious frozen mouse syndrome? How about adjusting and calibrating monitors? Can you explain to a mere mortal the significance of a Volume Bit Map or Extents B-Tree? Gene can, and does, in a way that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, and well-informed.

This HIGHLY RECOMMENDED title is a winner in every way, and I’ll see if I can get the attention of the Book Bytes Awards committee, to suggest Upgrading & Troubleshooting Your Mac for the December announcement of our third annual awards list.

MacMice Rating: 4

MP3 for Dummies
by Andy Rathbone
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0585-8, 296 pages plus CD
$19.99 U.S., $29.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

The first thing your friendly reviewer does when checking out a MP3 book is to slash open the seal on the disc inside the back cover and fire up a song. By chance I selected “Lancelot” by Stru Tural, with an instrumental track in the style of the infamous MC5 (Michigan, circa 1969) and vocals that remind me of (I’m not kidding) Tommy James and the Shondells, if my geezer memory is at all accurate.

There is more on the disc. The author has provided a helpful selection of software on CD, all described in his Appendix A. More impressive is the ambitious multi-platform approach, now including Linux! Watch out, Redmond. Start packing now, while there is still time to count all that $$$.

MP3 for Dummies has a long list of recommended websites and newsgroups on the inside front cover (good thinking!), indicating Rathbone’s passionate involvement in access to music via the net. He’s a Windozer, which we will forgive, because a large portion of the material in the book is appropriate for the Mac community.

As the technology evolves, more third-party MP3 hardware will be compatible with every operating system. Stick around for the ride, or revolution, depending upon your point of view.

I’m going to spend more time with this book before taking a firm stance. Even better: I’ll send it to a music fanatic who can try out Rathbone’s stuff on both Windows and Mac equipment. Next time you’re in a bookstore, thumb through MP3 for Dummies to see if it feels like a good fit. For now, I’m comfortable giving this book a rating of:

MacMice Rating: 2

Author Andy Rathbone wants to make sure we mention:

The book reviews most of the portable MP3 players on the market.

It’s also aimed at helping musicians get their music converted into MP3 format, uploaded to appropriate sites, and pressed onto CD for sales. (It even lists companies that will “package” CDs by unsigned bands, pressing hundreds of CDs with artwork, covers, etc.)

Finally, it discusses copyright issues, so MP3 users can keep from running afoul of the law.

The Mac OS 9 Guide
by Brad Miser
Hayden Books
ISBN 0-7897-2312-3, 580 pages
$29.99 U.S., $44.95 Canada, £21.99 U.K.

From the award-winning author of Book Bytes’ favorite OS 8.5 title comes a lighter-weight book on a heavier-weight operating system. What’s missing, Brad, aside from the change from Que to Hayden within, the same Macmillan publishing family? I’m not keeping score, certainly, because this new Mac OS 9 Guide is bursting with valuable information. The new format is fresh and easy to follow for every level of Mac user.

Beginners will appreciate the flab-free opening chapters dealing with folders, windows, Finder, Apple Menu, and similar essential knowledge. Miser presents “Step by Step” itemized procedures whenever appropriate, which is often, plus hundreds of screen shots and dozens of concise boxed sidebar tips.

Through 24 chapters and two appendices (covering OS installation and using portable Macs), the writing is snappy and the information is top-notch. For example:

• On email attachments and file encoding: “Sometimes the files you attach will get messed up (computer geeks say the file gets “munged”) when the recipient receives them.”

• On using QuickTime 4: “While it is natural to think of QuickTime in terms of video, you should also remember that QuickTime could be used for sound, animation, and other dynamic data as well.”

• and many, many more in similar style.

The three major parts (covering: working with a Mac, using the Internet, and customizing your computer) should be required reading for everyone who expects to become a power user of OS 9. (Time out while I study Chapter 15 on advanced techniques for browsing the web.) Hey, Brad, those “Cool Sherlock Net Tricks” on page 323 are right on target.

Mac OS 9 Guide sets a new standard of accessibility for operating system books. To date, Book Bytes has received no serious full-service competitor, so it is a pleasure to HIGHLY RECOMMEND this title, with a rating of:

MacMice Rating: 4

QuickTime Pro 4 for Macintosh & Windows,
Visual QuickStart Guide
by Judith Stern and Robert Lettieri
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35469-1, 359 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada

In preparation for this review I took a deep breath and spent an entire morning installing and using freeware QuickTime 4 on my blazing fast PowerMac 7200/120, over a 28.8 kbps modem connection. It was exciting to listen to WGBH-FM radio live from Boston, but the wait for streaming video from Bloomberg TV made me wish I had taken up fishing and not computing. Was I motivated to upgrade to QuickTime 4 Pro, and need a book such as this one? Stay tuned.

I commend Peachpit Press for consistently delivering a powerful package at a pleasant price. There is a LOT of useful information provided in these plentiful pages. Thumbing through the text from back to front, I encounter appendices containing QuickTime resource listings, configuration procedures, plus mouse and keyboard shortcuts.

Heading up to the front of the volume, I learn more essential and background information on QuickTime than I ever thought existed. These authors know their subject! Excuse me, friends, while I spend a few weeks trying all the nifty tips, tricks, and techniques in the opening chapters.

QuickTime Pro 4 for Macintosh & Windows has hundreds of helpful screen shots, charts, and sidebars on every possible aspect of the software. Do you know “The Difference Between Saving RTSP and HTTP Movies”? How about the 29 “File Formats That QuickTime Player Can Open Directly”? Before even considering QuickTime VR or Pro, I realize that multimedia has a talented friend in this technology, and we all are beneficiaries.

Once the text delves into working with movies, the content quickly advances past my skill level. As this technology becomes more far-reaching, low-end-users and old-timers like me will make the effort to become proficient. Truthfully, I need much more time to give the extensive material in QuickTime Pro 4 for Macintosh & Windows, Visual QuickStart Guide an honest evaluation. I do know that this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED title has outstanding content, presentation, and price.

MacMice Rating: 4

Sams Teach Yourself Today: e-Travel
by Mark Orowoll
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31822-9, 302 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada, £12.99 U.K.

Here we have the first title from Sams Publishing’s new series. If you are confused by similar names within the Sams lineup, join the party. For now, bear in mind the word “Today” in the title and a narrower physical book width than is customary. I will try to keep you informed as new subjects are covered.

The author is a genuine expert. He tackles every aspect of online travel planning in 22 chapters plus an appendix containing dozens of useful URLs. I have plenty of experience doing travel research on the Internet, and I learned something new in each chapter.

Personal commentary saturates Orowoll’s writing, such as: “I still find air travel to be more of a nuisance than a joy,” or “I can enjoy a McDonald’s double cheeseburger with the same gusto as when I rip into a medium-rare aged sirloin at the venerable (and expensive!) Keens Chophouse in Manhattan.” He has taken his lumps and his luxuries around the world.

Most readers will benefit from the self-assessment in which an overall traveler profile, or type, is assigned, based on personal preference and budget. The book has a lot of information in a 3/4-size package, making it easy to bring along on the trip, if desired.

Halfway through examining Sams Teach Yourself Today: e-Travel I took a break and went swimming. While doing laps I realized my strongest reaction to this book is “bland,” meaning it lacks the dynamic graphical and textual content of its competitors in the “Dummies” and “Complete Idiots” formats. The information in Today: e-Travel is adequate and clearly written, but nothing jumps out at the reader.

Travel is expensive, but books that help travelers are inexpensive. For every hundred websites dedicated to domestic and foreign travel there are a few worthwhile guidebooks. If you need expert assistance to motivate your choice of destination and Internet research, Sams Teach Yourself Today: e-Travel is worth considering. The Book Bytes rating is based on its reasonable price:

MacMice Rating: 3

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Health and Fitness
by Joan Price
and Shannon Entin
Alpha / Que / Macmillan
ISBN 0-7897-2208-9, 294 pages

This guide opens into a brightly-colored tearout card containing the authors’ fifteen “Essential Health and Fitness” websites, plus a well-worded reminder to consider the source when looking for credible information on the Internet. The tone is set for a landmark book on the basics and fundamentals of using the net for facts and opinions on fitness and health.

Opening pages illustrate the icons for many handy tips, identified with specific graphics for:

• “Get Up!” (computer fitness breaks and stretching activities);

• “Buzzwords” (definitions of important terms);

• “Scam Alert” (warnings for avoiding fraudulent and misleading advice);

and several more. Pages are visually interesting, such as the one describing “modem push-ups,” exercises to do while your modem is dialing and logging on. Sounds funny? Not a bit!

In Part One, Shannon and Joan present two-pronged introductory material, in which both health-related information and basic Internet usage are covered. Chapter Three offers no-nonsense ways to evaluate website content for self-protection. The entire text is loaded with recommended URLs. Being a fitness swimmer, I plan to spend quite a bit of time exploring, with “so much swimming info you won’t have time to swim.”

Do you need to build some strength? Locate a personal trainer? Start pursuing yoga or martial arts? They all are here, in profusion. As an outdoors guy, I am particularly interested in the links mentioned in Chapter Nine, and the following chapter will help me buy all my supplies once I finish planning the activities.

Part Three is crucial, covering nutrition, diet, and weight loss. (I have a specific need for more hair in addition to being able to add a few pounds, so if you can spare both of them, give me a holler.) The author’s sensible nutritional advice is supplemented by a yummy chapter on healthy cooking.

Final chapters deal with obtaining reliable quack-free medical care for children and adults, including alternatives to traditional medicine, plus mental health and prescription drug recommendations. Joan and Shannon get really serious at the very end, when discussing menopause, HIV/AIDS, and cancer.

I kept looking for things to criticize in this ambitious, well-presented book, with no success. Book Bytes is pleased to give
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Health and Fitness our HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. The price is excellent, the authors really know their subject, and every reader will benefit from many of the topics. Well done, authors, publishers, and everyone involved. Keep up the fine work.

MacMice Rating: 5

The Little Palm Book:
A friendly introduction to handheld computing
by Corbin Collins
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69954-0, 265 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada

With coverage of every version of Palm hardware and operating system including models III – VII and up to Palm OS 3.3, this latest book on the mighty midget aims to be a bestseller. How is the content, and how does it compare to previous titles covering Palm handheld computers?

The “Get Acquainted” first chapter displays photos and descriptions of the different physical units, with a thorough explanation of common and model-specific hardware and software features. Setup procedure can be time-consuming and confusing, and the author walks readers through each step in Chapter Two.

Pages are well-designed for maximum tutorial efficiency, with bold screen shot graphics. Subsequent chapters plow through the basics, including the Graffiti language, onscreen keyboards, and the many personal information management components of the Palm OS.

The Little Palm Book is divided into four major parts, plus a useful Appendix. By Part Three: “Connecting With Your Computer,” halfway into the book, readers are ready for the most exceptional feature of the handy-dandy-little-giant. After a long (yaaaaaawwwwwwn) chapter on synching with Windoze systems, Chapter Ten details “Mac HotSync and Palm Desktop. This 25-page powerhouse section is my personal favorite.

The book wraps up with instructions on adding software, and on using the Palm for connecting to the Internet. In his final thoughts, Collins speaks frankly about the current and future situation regarding online opportunities for Palm users. This valuable advice is itself worth the entire price of The Little Palm Book.

I have mixed feelings regarding this title. It certainly accomplishes its goal, but I’m concerned that as users quickly become more proficient, they might find it lacking in depth. Fair enough, because by then Collins’ well-presented material will have served the readers very well.

MacMice Rating: 3

Easy iBook
by Lisa Lee
Que / Macmillan
ISBN 0-7897-2272-0, 269 pages
$19.99 U.S., $29.95 Canada, £14.50 U.K.

Most people don’t sit for hours reading computer books for enjoyment, but I do. Last week I was sitting in the sunshine waiting for a friend, thumbing through this iBook volume. My friend was late, but I didn’t mind, because Lisa Lee’s colorful images and text were so enjoyable.

Speaking of color, each of the eleven chapters (or “parts”) has its own color scheme, enabling readers to find desired content at a glance. Within the chapters, tutorial material is divided into itemized tasks, which are titled in bold at the top of every page. The attention to high-quality design is evident throughout.

Pages are split into large inner sections and more narrow outer columns. The inner areas contain numbered instructions and gorgeous graphics; tips and additional text fill the outside regions. Typical tasks are:

• Connecting Your Palm Device (Part 3, Task 7);

• Finding Files and Folders with Sherlock 2 (Part 5, Task 6); or

• Restoring Your iBook’s Software (Part 10, Task 8).

From these examples experienced Mac people realize that Easy iBook is not all “what is the Finder?” or similar newbie stuff.

Beginners will immediately feel comfortable with the author’s method and style of gentle, enumerated instruction. Working with a new computer and operating system can be intimidating, and Lisa Lee is an easygoing, if persistent coach. From “Saving a Document” to “Adding Memory” to “Editing a QuickTime Movie Using QuickTime Player,” an extensive range of iBook and Mac OS procedures are covered.

The short-and-sweet approach means readers will need to go deeper for their continuing education. A full range of help is available built into every iBook, and many detailed titles are being published. For total beginners and people who learn best from visual examples, Book Bytes is proud to give Easy iBook a glowing recommendation.

On her personal web page, Lisa explains:

I rewrote Easy iMac for the iBook; the iMac to go. Mac OS 9 is also covered, including Sherlock 2, Multiple Users, Location Manager, File Synchronization and Keychain Access control panels. I don’t know what it is about writing about Macs for the Easy series, but I enjoyed writing Easy iBook as much as I did writing Easy iMac.

MacMice Rating: 4


And now, for something different:

Video Movie Guide 2000
by Mick Martin and Marsha Porter
Ballantine Books
ISBN 0-345-42094-2, 1582 pages
$18.95 U.S., $28.95 Canada

Something unusual happened on the way to the movies. Our friends at Ballantine/Random House provided this bestselling movie guide to help our Book Bytes readers decide how to waste even more time than you are currently doing.

Two years ago I was given a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, and despaired because every book I wanted to own cost quite a bit more, including the predecessor of Video Movie Guide 2000. And there it was, a junior-sized version, with identical content, for only $8.95 U.S. plus sales tax. Barbara and I spent hours planning our video viewing, and we usually agree with the authors’ rankings.

If you like to have expert guidance when planning a trip to your local Blockbuster, take this red brick volume with you. Even better: leave it in your car. Start with the 5-star movies, then work your way down (good luck!). I have looked through all the competition, and this Video Movie Guide 2000 is RECOMMENDED as the best of the bunch, at any price.

MacMice Rating: 4


In a special BONUS capsule-comments section this issue, Book Bytes is pleased to offer eight new “updaters” or revised editions of titles previously covered in earlier reviews. Each one is priced under $25 U.S., and most of them cost less than $20! Readers are encouraged to visit the Book Bytes archives at, where we have longer reviews of preceding versions of many of the following books:

HTML4 for the World Wide Web, 4th Edition,
Visual QuickStart Guide
by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35493-4, 384 pages
$19.99 U.S., $29.95 Canada

I liked this title very much in its previous edition, and now it is better. On page 20, the author lists several URLs devoted to additional resource material for users of book, and that sets the tone for one of the best ever Visual QuickStart Guides. Beginning and intermediate webheads who are not already using Castro’s latest HTML manual should dash down to the bookstore to pick up this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED tutorial. With tremendous value for money and mountains of expertise between the covers, Book Bytes considers this 4th edition a must-have for everyone serious about learning and using HTML.

MacMice Rating: 4

Mac Answers, 2nd Edition
by Bob LeVitus
and Shelly Brisbin
Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-212399-0, 462 pages
$24.99 U.S.

Subtitled “Tech Support at Your Fingertips,” Bob and Shelly’s latest edition is precisely what is required when answers to specific troubleshooting questions are needed. With hundreds of Q&A solutions covering hardware, software, connectivity, and much more, this title should be close at hand for every Macintosher who is on the receiving end of those ever-loving “HELP!” phone calls and email messages. Potential power users should have the contents of this RECOMMENDED book memorized.

MacMice Rating: 4

Sams Teach Yourself the iMac in 24 Hours, 2nd Edition
by Gene Steinberg
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31837-7, 412 pages
$19.99 U.S., $29.99 Canada, £14.50 U.K.

Steinberg is a favorite author, the “in 24 Hours” series is one of the best for newcomers, and the iMac is exceptional. Sounds like a winning combination, and it is. If you learn best in a series of tutorial lessons and are unacquainted with your iMac, consider this book a serious contender. In his second edition, the author delivers concise chapters covering the latest iMac hardware, system software, and iMac applications, with many helpful graphics and screen shots. I wish I were a new user once again, in order to take full advantage of this RECOMMENDED title.

MacMice Rating: 4

JavaScript for the World Wide Web,
3rd Edition, Visual QuickStart Guide
by Tom Negrino


and Dori Smith
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-35463-2, 292 pages
$17.99 U.S., $26.95 Canada

I claim no experience whatsoever with this important topic, but if I were going to begin studying it, you would find my nose buried in these pages. With its companion website, tutorial examples of script, and effective graphics, this book is the one to have. What you do with your JavaScript is your business, but I urge you to make a beeline for the bookstore if you need to learn how to do it on the web.

MacMice Rating: 3

Quicken 2000 for Macintosh, Visual QuickStart Guide
by Tom Negrino


Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-69964-8, 194 pages
$16.99 U.S., $23.50 Canada

With Quicken’s powerful built-in Help feature, why would a user need this slim third-party manual? The answer is: it depends on how you learn. The Visual QuickStart approach is a good one for learning a procedural application, such as Quicken. Both the software and this book are priced very low, so cost is not a consideration. The major factors are time and efficiency. With only one other competitive title, Book Bytes urges you to have a helpful author looking over your shoulder, to make the Quicken experience as straightforward as possible.

MacMice Rating: 3

The Internet for Macs for Dummies, 3rd Edition
by Charles Seiter
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0364-2, 355 pages
$19.99 U.S., $28.99 Canada, £18.99 U.K.

Beginners to Macintosh and the net are the target audience for this title. Most of you Book Bytes readers are more advanced, but you certainly know people who will benefit from the content. The book will make an excellent companion to a school computer lab, especially one loaded with iMacs and iBooks. There are many fine competing introductory titles, so select one that best fits your learning and reference style.

MacMice Rating: 3

Internet Directory for Dummies, 3rd Edition
by Brad Hill
Dummies Press
ISBN 0-7645-0588-2, 377 pages plus CD
$24.99 U.S., $27.99 Canada, £23.99 U.K.

Oh, great! It’s another Net directory. The pages are white, but this title compares favorably to many Internet yellow pages. Containing eight major parts and dozens of no-nonsense category headings, the book has hundreds of useful web site listings, each with an extensive review. The CD has application and utility software, plus live browser links to every URL mentioned. If you appreciate well-researched educational, commercial, and recreational Internet destination recommendations, this book will more than repay your investment.

MacMice Rating: 3

The Internet for Busy People, Millennium Edition
by Christian Crumlish
Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-212116-5, 264 pages
$19.99 U.S.

This “for busy people” series from Osborne is well-designed, with colorful graphics and screen shots to enhance the helpful text sections. With both beginner and expert advice, including many recommended URLs, this title is a delight to read or use for reference purposes. Crumlish has distilled what readers need to make the most of the Internet experience. If the book wasn’t geared to the Windows platform it, would have a higher rating.

Christian Crumlish explains, via email:

I’ve tried to sprinkle in Mac examples, but I realize the visual feel of the book is geared to PC users. More importantly though, I think the book works well as a text for Macintosh users and even WebTV users, since it focuses on understanding Internet applications in general and not the keystrokes for one specific program or platform.


MacMice Rating: 3

All these books have now left the “pending” Book Bytes shelf, which means we’re ready for a large shipment of new arrivals during the spring and summer months. Stick with Book Bytes, friends, and keep reading our recommended titles.


Websites Mentioned


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