Macworld Mac OS X Bible
By Lon Poole and Dennis R. Cohen
John W. Wiley Publishers
$34.99 US $52.99 CA
Lon Poole has been writing computer books for quite a long time. A quick search on Amazon shows 33 titles with his name on the cover, with some titles dating back to the Apple II and Atari 400 (!) days. Dennis Cohen, while not quite as prolific as Poole, has a substantial amount of computer writing experience. He also has spent time as a professional Macintosh programmer.
The Macworld Mac OS X Bible clearly shows the years of writing experience at work here. It is a solid, well-crafted, and readable manual that covers Macintosh OS X 10.1. Be forewarned that it is not the be-all and end-all reference manual for aspiring Unix geeks. That market is better served by Mac OS X Unleashed.
The Macworld Mac OS X Bible (hereafter referred to as Mac OS X Bible) is targeted at those who are upgrading to OS X, as well as those new to the Mac OS. Poole and Cohen present the material with a logical flow, discussing Mac OS X concepts, features, and tips. Most of the OS X material is followed with a compare-and-contrast with OS 9, so upgraders will be able to see how OS X differs from OS 9. I found this approach useful, as my mind works better by knowing how the new is different from the old, rather than just being told what’s new.
Poole and Cohen cover the expected material; OS X basics, the Aqua user interface, Internet setup, how to use the included OS X applications, etc. This is familiar ground that every OS X book covers (or should cover). The author duo presents this information in a steady, workmanlike fashion. I did not learn anything new that other OS X titles had not covered. There is only so much one can write about Sherlock, and every book says much the same things. But the writing style is clear and easy to follow.
Part III: Beyond the Basics is the best part of this 779 page tome. The authors strike a good balance between too-simple and too-complex in their presentation of more advanced OS X concepts. Again, it is important to note that the target readership is beginner to intermediate level Macintosh users. Mac OS X Bible is not going to tell you much about using the included Apache web server to administer your personal web site. Nor is there a down and dirty how-to for advanced Terminal use.
But that’s not the point. Most readers of this book want end-user information, not Unix administrator information. And that’s what they get. The authors do a good job of covering User accounts and privileges, local area networks, and the various methods of sharing files (Web sharing, FTP, and remote login). It’s the right mix of detail for the home or small-business Mac user who wants to do something, but who does not need the amount of detail that a professional administrator does.
Apple released OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) last month. Is this book (and review) obsolete? Not at all. It will take several months before the Jaguar books hit the shelves. Even then, the fundamentals of Max OS X will not have changed. Macworld Mac OS X Bible is still very useful, even if you are using 10.2.
Macworld Mac OS X Bible is a worthwhile competitor in the fight to be the best all-around OS X manual
MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5