Some books are not what they seem.
Mac OS X Headaches How to fix common (and not so common) problems in a hurry is really a how-to book that purports to be a trouble-shooting book.
That’s too bad, because Mac OS X Headaches (MOSXH) would be an adequate novice or intermediate level how-to book. Unfortunately, MOSXH comes across as a weak trouble-shooting book.
Here’s MOSXH‘s schtick: Take a common newbie issue, such as the difference between active and inactive windows, and present it as a “MAC OS X Headache.” “A window seems grayed out: I can’t use it” is how you’ll see this common question in the book. Simmons then presents the “Painkiller” remedy of clicking in the grayed-out window to activate it.
Call me old-fashioned, call me a spoilsport, but this approach sets me more than a bit on edge. In page after page, Simmons presents perfectly normal OS X behavior as a “headache.” I kept expecting to see a “headache” like “My Macintosh won’t turn on,” and then seeing a Painkiller of “Unfortunately, your Mac won’t turn itself on, you have to push the Power button.”
While there ARE numerous legitimate and useful trouble-shooting suggestions, they’re in the minority. Even conceding the fact that it’s not an expert-level book, MOSXH can’t hold a candle to Ted Landau’s Mac OS X Disaster Relief.
My opinion of MOSXH would be far less critical if the author had couched his answers in terms of “how do I?” rather than setting up straw man problems. Unfortunately, that would’ve plunked his book smack in the middle of a very crowded market of OS X help books, whereas the OS X troubleshooting market is currently occupied solely by Ted Landau. Well, Curt Simmons went up against the wrong guy. He should’ve taken his chances with the other OS X help books.
MOSXH‘s production values are good. A well-chosen typeface and crisp screenshots make this an easy read. Simmons’ writing style is easy for the novice to digest.
Conclusion. There are better help books, and better trouble-shooting books. Move on down the aisle past this one.
MacMice Rating: 2.5 out of 5