Book Review

How to Fix the Most ANNOYING Things About Your Mac
John Rizzo

Publisher: O’Reilly
ISBN- 0-596-00723-x
US $24.95
CA $36.95

Author John Rizzo’s Mac Annoyances is a slim book that straddles the line between a “let’s learn the basics” newbie book, and a comprehensive reference book.

Rizzo has written about Macintosh things that annoy him the most. I can relate! While we all love our Macs, every Mac user has experienced bothersome things about the Mac user interface. We all work with applications that have “features” that are frustratingly less-than-intuitive. We’ve gotten used to them, but have never accepted them.

In 157 pages (including index) Rizzo has compiled his “Most Annoying” list, and written a fine little book about how to deal with them.

Annoyances are grouped by category:

Mac OS X Annoyances
Email Annoyances
Internet Annoyances
Microsoft Office Annoyances
iLife 04 Annoyances
iPod Annoyances
Hardware Annoyances

Mac OS X Annoyances is a fine collections of hints and tips to get around the rough edges of OS X. My favorite tips addressed easier methods of naming file when in the Save dialog box, how to switch applications like you used to in the good old OS 9 days, and figuring out how to get Key Caps back.

Also quite handy was the collection of tips on sharing and mounting Windows file servers. With Panther, Apple finally fixed some of the “de-improvements” they created with 10.2.x, working with Windows servers still has to be one of the more maddening parts of OS X. Rizzo spells out the best ways to deal with Windows servers. You’ll learn when to mount them using the Browse command, and when to mount them using the Connect to Server command.

Email Annoyances

In this section, Rizzo made my day with his tip to use iChat (or other instant messaging clients) to send files too large for regular email mailboxes. I frequently have to send large attachments, and I tire of asking recipients to make sure they’ve emptied their mailboxes so my attachment won’t bounce. Even then, most email accounts can’t handle attachments larger than 10 megabytes. The only drawback to using a chat application is that the recipient has to be on-line with his chat client for this to work.

Microsoft Office Annoyances

This section should be a book (a LARGE book) of its own. How Rizzo managed to prune the list of eligible annoyances as much as he did is amazing. Office has more features buried under layer upon layer of option-laden dialog boxes than I’ll ever be able to remember. Even when I find the one I’m looking for, it has some frustrating quirk.

Rizzo lays out 24 Word annoyances and their solutions. I’m not going to list them all, but I, a self-proclaimed word-processor junkie who thought he knew Word, found much good info I’d not heard before.

The book’s production values are good. I do wonder what the art director was thinking when he/she picked a violently vivid neon green for the cover art background. The page layout is easy on the eyes, with the right amount of white space around screen shots and illustrations to promote easy reading.

When I first cracked open Mac Annoyances, I thought it would be not much more than a collection of shopworn hints that only newbies would appreciate. I was quite wrong. While the power-user won’t find as many nuggets as the rank beginner, there are plenty of tasty tidbits to enjoy. rating: 4 out of 5

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