Book Bytes – MyMac Magazine #63

Making iMovies:
Use your digital camcorder and
iMac DV to make movies for the web
by Scott Smith
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-70489-7, 138 pages plus DVD
$39.99 US, $59.99 CN

I began making personal home and creative movies 35 years ago, in high school. They were terrible, but were less expensive than the cost of this book. DV iMacs are here to stay, as are digital camcorders. Beginners should consider a book such as this one to help them get started. Competing titles are coming soon, but this one is a gem.

Author Scott Smith understands first-time iMovie makers are thinking more about the results than the process required to get there. He gently introduces “Storytelling Tips” and “Shooting Techniques” in his opening chapters, before getting technical. All demo video, music and image files are included on the DVD-ROM disk, which is the first one Book Bytes has seen in a multimedia book. The future is here! I don’t have an iMac DV (hint: please send one immediately, publisher!), so I can’t comment on the disk.

What makes Making iMovies an exceptional book is the way it is designed. Pages burst with colorful sample images, gorgeous screen shots from the iMovie application, terrific tabbed tips (such as “How Sound Effects Can Change Intent”), and excellent instructional tutorials. A lot of thought, care, and imagination went into Smith’s presentation and delivery.

At a recent iMovie presentation at my local Tucson Mac Users Group , members Julie and Tony handled the subject with aplomb, impressing everyone at the meeting. Many members asked about importing footage, which is handled in Chapter Three in Making iMovies.

Until I have an opportunity (hint: send digital camcorder quickly, publisher!) to try everything for myself, I’ll wager a cactus pad this book will serve newcomers to digital video very well indeed. It is a pleasure to rate this title:

MacMice Rating: 4

Pocket Reference:
iMac, iBook, & G3 Troubleshooting
by Don Rittner
Osborne / McGraw-Hill
ISBN 0-07-212468-7, 343 pages
$19.99 US

The first time you put this little powerhouse volume to work, the information will more than pay for itself. With plain-English advice on how to keep your late-model Mac happily humming, author Don Rittner returns with content that is (as they say here in Arizona) “very unique.”

What’s the big deal? It’s in BIG Chapter Three, running for over 80 pages, entitled: “Easy G3 Upgrades You Can Do Yourself!” Yes, I know Book Bytes has mentioned previous titles with similar-sounding chapters, but Pocket Reference: iMac, iBook, & G3 Troubleshooting stands alone. With over a hundred detailed photos covering every model of G3 hardware, Don and technician/photographer Ken Ackley set the standard for do-it-yourself upgraders. Seeing is believing, and if you will please send me your G3/400 PowerBook, I’ll perform the upgrade myself and use your computer for a few years to make sure everything went smoothly.

The rest of the book deals with “an ounce of prevention,” including strongly-worded advice on backing up and common Mac ailments, plus a 250-page troubleshooting guide, itemized by model of G3 computer. Chapter Five contains one of the most focused listings of Mac resources on the Internet I have seen.

Book Bytes congratulates Don Rittner and his editorial team. If you are a guru or consultant, you should affix Pocket Reference: iMac, iBook, & G3 Troubleshooting to your wrist for immediate access. If you are planning to do any upgrade work on your G3, or want to make sure your “helper” is really helping you, this book is a must-buy.

MacMice Rating: 4

Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual
by David Pogue


O’Reilly / Pogue Press
ISBN 1-56592-857-1, 461 pages
$19.95 US, $29.95 CN

As the initial offering from David Pogue’s editorial collaboration with O’Reilly and Associates, OS 9 is a good topic to address “the book that should have been in the box” from our friends in Cupertino. Watch this space for future titles in the series.

The dedicated web site adds value to your affordable purchase, because David has placed links to all the shareware and freeware mentioned in the text, arranged by chapter, plus content areas and updates. Nice touch!

Book Bytes is familiar with many previous titles covering OS 9. Other hardworking authors may object to Pogue’s nervy claim that his Missing Manual book is the one to serve most users. I’ll remain neutral in any war of words, and evaluate Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual on its own terms, with the knowledge that astute readers can compare this book to its competitors by spending a few minutes in our Book Bytes archives, linked from our home page at

I like the page design. We are given tons of screen shots and tips, shaded sidebars, plus clear headers and text, with numerous bulleted lists and itemized instructions. The content is structured from very basic to rather complex topics. David’s snappy writing style (no, not as snappy as in his Dummies and Secrets books) makes the act of reading both pleasurable and informative. He is extremely knowledgeable, yet consistently treats readers with respect.

Experienced Macpersons will delight in Chapter 10: “An Introduction to AppleScript”; Chapter 21: Speech Recognition and Synthesized Speech”; and much of what comes in between. Looking for something to criticize in Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual, I find myself learning new stuff on nearly every page, and wishing I had a few extra days to work through every gem in this shining volume.

Book Bytes welcomes the Missing Manual series, with hopes for more titles having the same attention to detail as this first one. At this price, it’s clear sailing to a rating of:

MacMice Rating: 4

Anything you want to add, David:

Thanks for asking! Please mention:

* We’re the only computer-book series that gives the readers actual page-number cross references instead of lazy “see Chapter 23 for more information.” This single feature has punched the hot buttons of a lot of readers, if my email is any indication!

* Please note the binding. Try laying “Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual” open, flat on your desk, and then try the same thing with a book from any other publisher–really, try it! Our books use RepKover, a binding system that makes the book lie flat without falling apart. If you study it, you’ll see that it’s the same system used in hardcover books: The spine isn’t actually fastened to the pages, as it is on other computer books–it’s free-floating. Much more expensive for us, but totally worth it.

* We add a topic tab on every single page, for ease of flipping directly to a topic.

* The index was written by hand, by me, instead of using indexing
software (which flags words by their appearance, not by their meaning; you could have 5 pages all about printing without ever seeing the actual word “printing,” which indexing software would miss).

* “Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual” is the only Mac OS 9 book with a public forum for reporting errors — and a place to see exactly what was corrected in each reprint.

* Note how (a result of my Macworld training!) captions never waste the reader’s time by restating what the body text already said. Each caption adds something new, something particular to the graphic.

* Finally, bear in mind that most people have to PAY for these books! Keeping these books inexpensive was an important topic for me. “Mac OS 9 for Dummies” is 384 pages for $20; for the same money, “Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual” gives you **100 more** pages and a LOT more text and graphics per page. (Amazon is currently discounting “M9M” to $14.)

Oh! And one more thing… you might want to suggest that your readers can visit and download the free sample chapter for any Missing Manual title. For “Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual”, the free chapter is on Sherlock 2; readers can see for themselves how they like the book, its design, and its writing.

Community Building on the Web:
Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities
by Amy Jo Kim
Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-87484-9, 360 pages
$29.99 US, $44.95 CN

Every month or two, while deciding which books to review for the next issue’s Book Bytes, I pick up a new title and start reading. And keep reading, until I find myself in the Index at the rear. Community Building on the Web is such a book.

If I had an extra few hundred hours each day, I would spend them participating in online communities. It is a struggle to be productive, knowing there are thousands of groups of people participating in real-time and time-delayed discussion, games, and plenty more. I learned years ago to avoid this potential addiction, because my offline life was rapidly becoming secondary to my online existence.

Most Internet-topic book authors get in and get out, without making a lasting impression upon their readers. Amy Jo Kim is here for the long haul. She has built, participated in, and consulted on many dynamic online communities, and her words are worth their weight in netgold.

The premise is straightforward: design your community for growth and change, maintain feedback loops, and empower your members over time. With examples from well-known Internet sites and Amy Jo’s personal experience, readers quickly learn what works, and why.

The author returns to the same website examples as her message evolves, giving Community Building on the Web a sense of familiarity consistent with her methodology. She is smart and sensitive, and makes me want to tell all community-conscious webheads to stop horsing around and pay attention.

Example: I just finished participating in my first eBay auction (eBay is one of Amy Jo’s favorites). From the beginning I felt comfortable, and would be happy to spend open-ended time there in future. Why? What’s the secret ingredient?

Perhaps one percent of you will ever need to build an online community, but most of you will join and use them. If you want to maximize the user experience, consider this a worthwhile reference book. If you have any interest or involvement in running the show or setting it up, Book Bytes RECOMMENDS you pick up Community Building on the Web.

MacMice Rating: 4

Informatica 1.0:
Access to the Best Tools for
Mastering the Information Revolution
by Peter McNaughton Black
Random House
ISBN 0-375-70637-2, 398 pages plus CD
$34.95 US, $53.00 CN

I have lost my objectivity once again. I am delighted by the content and layout of this text + CD combo. Coming from the Whole Earth Catalog generation as I do, and now being deeply enmeshed in our new technology, this book hits my magic button.

Turn to any page arbitrarily, and you will find information on:

• Centers for Disease Control (page 127)

• General Motors’ EV1 Electric Car (page 54)

• The Complete Walker III book by Colin Fletcher (page 369)

• Platypus Web Site, devoted to the cross-training of journalists in digital photography (page 215)

• The Informatica Guide to Buying Palmtops (page 32)

and more and more and more.

So different than a bunch of lists or a traditional Internet directory, Informatica 1.0 is an “experimental prototype” of what is best in our latest millennium, focusing on healthy and creative trends both in technology and in society at large. In five sections, hardware, sources, software, plasticware, and paperware are covered. Each listing has a web site to help you learn more on the topic. There are many sidebars, charts, mini-essays, critical commentaries, and other words of wisdom.

The author and his collaborators have done their homework, and will inspire intrepid readers to keep their standards high. Do you know the philosophy of Project Gutenberg? Would you like to know why Tupperware is a fine example of “re-tooling”? How about the best metasite for genealogy resources on the Internet?

Peter Black promises downloadable updates to the text, and solicits reader suggestions for future editions. Book Bytes encourages him to extend his reach, and to let us know when to look for subsequent publications.

With the outside temperature cruising above 100° every day here in southern Arizona, being indoors is welcome relief. I’m going to see if Random House’s Reference and Information Publishing division has any more gems in the inventory. For a version 1.0 prototype release, Informatica 1.0 is a keeper.

MacMice Rating: 4

Sams Teach Yourself Today e-Job Hunting
by Eric Schlesinger and Susan Musich
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31817-2, 353 pages
$17.99 US, $26.95 CN, £12.99 UK

I am secure in my current job (I hope), but what would I do if I needed to find new employment? The Internet is full of sites to help the job hunter, who should also be spending time with a guidebook during the process.

Thumbing through Sams Teach Yourself Today e-Job Hunting from back to front, I encounter a 35-page web directory of URLs, itemized chapter by chapter, with brief descriptions of site content. These Internet resources will serve as starting points for many impatient click-hungry job seekers, I expect.

In sixteen chapters, the authors take readers from “E-Career Mapping and Job Search Planning” and additional introductory material, through “Finding the Perfect Job on the Net,” to “Continuing Education and Training.” Helpful itemized steps are used whenever appropriate, as are role playing conversations to make the applicant feel prepared and confident.

Chapter Eight, “Writing Letters for the Information Age,” is probably worth the entire cost of Sams Teach Yourself Today e-Job Hunting. The sample letters and writing tips are more than simple boilerplate, and are very focused on the evolving stages of the job search process.

Page design takes advantage of boxed sidebars, outside column nuggets of information, and a decent quantity of web site screen shots. Looking for work can be a real pain, and the authors care about their readers’ prospects and opportunities.

With surprisingly few competing titles, Sams Teach Yourself Today e-Job Hunting is a clear Book Bytes RECOMMENDATION to readers who are prepared to take the process seriously. Don’t flounder, friends. Invest in your future, and take the advice offered by these experts.

MacMice Rating: 3

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business
by Frank Fiore
Alpha / Que / Macmillan USA
ISBN 0-7897-2193-7, 345 pages
$18.95 US, $28.95 CN, £17.50 UK

I know there is limited space on the cover for a title, but this one should have been something like “The Really, REALLY Smart Way To Determine If You Have The Resources And Motivation To Conduct An Online Business, Plus Just About Everything You Will Have To Do To Get Started And Stick With It, You Ambitious Person!”

For under twenty bucks ($ US), author Frank Fiore imparts thousands of dollars of experience, plus hundreds of recommended URLs and real world examples of what to do and what not to do. As with many of the newer books in this Complete Idiot’s series, the complete idiot is the person who, for whatever reason, neglects such a beginners book.

Before addressing your crucial business plan, and long before thinking about marketing, there are foundations to build within yourself. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business is divided into five strategic units, which should be studied in sequence. I have no personal interest in participating in an Internet business, but if I did I would first spend many months digesting Fiore’s text and tips, and spending hours digging into every link he mentions.

He shoots from the hip when necessary, such as chapters entitled “10 Ways to Drive Customers Away from Your Site” and “The Seven Cardinal Sins of eCommerce.” Most of the time he is nurturing and supportive, such as with “Creating a Unique Selling Position” or “Speaking the Language of Net Advertising.”

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business should be given to every person who remotely considers taking the plunge, including (hint hint) you potential webmasters out there. Book Bytes has seen more “serious” attempts at conveying no-nonsense guidelines for net commerce newbies, but this one is the best one yet. Exceptional value for money.

MacMice Rating: 5


AppleWorks 6: The Missing Manual
By Jim Elferdink
and David Reynolds
O’Reilly / Pogue Press
$19.95 US, $29.95 CN

After reading the introduction in this second offering from the new Missing Manual series, I realize I’m in no hurry to upgrade from AppleWorks 5 to version 6. In “What’s New in AppleWorks 6,” the authors explain the many improvements in AW 6, several of which could change dramatically the way I use Apple’s powerful integrated software package.

My gut feeling reminds me of the “improved” Microsoft Word 6.x, which was such a fiasco, millions of users stuck with stable version 5.1x for years, until Word 98 became available. If I’m being unfair, the Macintosh community will let me know, but not until version 6.x of AppleWorks has been tested within the new Mac OS X (or “ten”).

As for the title under consideration, it’s quite good, and is also the first one Book Bytes has seen on AW 6. If I had a second computer and an extra week or two, I could evaluate version 6 alongside the text, but that will have to wait.

I am probably in the upper one percentile of Macpersons running AppleWorks. I use the word processing, spreadsheet, and database modules all day, every day, and occasionally dabble with other three components. Regardless of version and upgrade number, AW is the single most important application in my computing life. End of testimonial.

AppleWorks 6: The Missing Manual has the same well-constructed presentation as in Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual, also being reviewed this month. As in previous titles on AppleWorks and ClarisWorks, this latest volume explains the AW 6 modules one at a time, starting with word processing. Experienced users will feel at home with the application, and will want to experiment with new features. New users should prepare themselves for a modest learning curve that is worth the effort.

Old timers and power users will appreciate the later chapters, covering:

• frames, tables, and other ways of combining the modules

• customization, preferences, and creating macros

• using the new Internet features of AppleWorks

and quite a bit more.

Nobody writes like David Pogue, but the editor has chosen his designated hitters well. Compared to David’s sparkling style, AppleWorks 6: The Missing Manual feels a bit dry, but I can live with it in a “missing” software manual. Given the skimpy printed material accompanying AppleWorks 6, for such a modest sum this book clearly deserves:

MacMice Rating: 4


Author Rebuttal

Sams Teach Yourself Today: e-Parenting
by Evelyn Petersen and Karin Petersen
Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-31818-0, 310 pages
$17.99 US, $26.95 CN, £12.99 UK

Evelyn Peterson feels strongly about my review of her book last month, and offers the following response:

Even though we appreciate your witty words recommending our book, “Sams Teach Yourself e-Parenting Today,” some of your assumptions and remarks may have caused readers to misunderstand the goals and contents of our book. Thanks for letting us provide additional input on “e-Parenting.”

Yes, we wrote it as a mother daughter team, (ages 33 and 63) not particularly to “help all generations of parents and grandparents,” but because it was the ONLY realistic way to write a really good parenting book today. I am a parenting specialist, columnist and author, and my daughter is a graphic designer and webmaster. By brainstorming together on every detail of this book, we were able to write a book that provides solid parenting guidance that is specifically appropriate to today’s e-World families.

* No other parenting book integrates the perspectives of today’s tech oriented parents with solid, sensible parenting practices that have stood the test of time.

* No other parenting book shows specific ways to use PC and Net activities as additional tools to enhance parenting, to forge effective relationships between parents and children, and to set patterns that will help children practice critical thinking to evaluate information and make wise choices..a vital skill in the e-World they inherit.

* No other parenting book shows how to blend both virtual and real world activities to teach children life skills such as self esteem, people skills, critical thinking, creative problem solving, self discipline, and responsibility. (Chapters 3 to 6)

* No other parenting book helps today’s parents come to terms with the importance of family traditions and values, and the need to save real time for some of them as we reinvent and enhance others with virtual world techniques. (Ch. 10)

* No other parenting book provides within its covers a 40 page appendix which presents developmental profiles of children from 2 to 18, and shares with parents what to expect from their kids as they grow, intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially.

Above all, this book is NOT a directory of “hundreds of URLs” which parents are expected to “spend loads of time” exploring. The focus is on parenting, not web sites. Most of the URLs mentioned are sites which help parents do real and virtual world activities WITH THEIR KIDS that will nurture specific life skills and family values. Parents can enjoy their children, interact, converse, share their values and teach skills at the same time. (i.e., multitasking, or making the most impact with limited time)

The appendix which lists web sites chapter by chapter is included as a convenience for parents. URLs are sites that were either discussed in the chapters about life skills or in chapters giving parents specific information on education, parenting and online safety. (Ch. 7-9) For more information about this book and other resources for parents and teachers see


Evelyn Petersen.


Websites mentioned:


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