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Review My New Mac

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Author: Wallace Wang
    Format: Paperback, 480 pages
    Publisher: No Starch Press ( April 15, 2008 )
    ISBN-10: 1593271646
    ISBN-13: 978-1593271640

    Review by James Pyles
    July 4, 2008

    This book came just in time...for my daughter, that is. She's a Graphic Arts major at a university in the Northwest and for some time, I've been trying to convince her to try working on a Mac. Please keep in mind, I'm not a Mac person. I do very well on my Ubuntu PCs, both at home and on the job, but I know that Macs are more or less the standard platform for the graphic design world. Fortunately for Jamie (my daughter), one of her uncles was willing to be generous and "donate" his MacBook to the cause (he was upgrading).

    Jamie's MacBook and Wang's book arrived almost at the same time. Good thing too, because the first thing she wanted to do after firing it up, was to connect to our little WLAN and hit the Internet. If it was a Windows or Linux PC, I'd have said, "no problem", but where are things located on a Mac anyway?

    That's where Wallace Wang's book comes in...to show me how. In the true tradition of that battle cry, "RTFM", I opened the pages and dove in. Ok, now what? Do I look for "wireless" or "network"? Finding things in the book was just like finding things on the Mac. Most people don't start with Chapter 1, page 1, and struggle to locate the power switch. Most people identify an area of personal interest and start from there. Jamie could figure out where the power switch was, so powering up the MacBook wasn't the issue. If it was, Project 1 (the book is divided into 52 "projects", rather than chapters) would have been great.

    Actually, I solved the problem by playing with the various menus on the MacBook until I found what I needed. The only wireless information I could find in Wang's book was on Bluetooth, which is fine, but I don't use Bluetooth. Fortunately, my problem solving skills work just as well on a Mac as they do on Windows and Linux computers.

    Next, Jamie wanted to be able to connect to her Yahoo mail account using the MacBook's onboard email utility, rather than just going through webmail. Fortunately, there is an abundant amount of information about this topic in Project 41, so all we really needed to know was what Yahoo calls their mail servers. Jamie can read as well as I can, so as she subsequently arrived at the various tasks she wanted to perform, accessing the MacBook and Wang's book and used the combination to get what she needed done.

    I took the absence of her calling out "Dad!" as a positive sign that she was getting the hang of her new acquisition. I promised she could have the book permanently after I wrote the review, so the book on my desk is about to be transferred from me to her. The book has "magically" disappeared and reappeared in the last week or so, probably indicating that Jamie has been doing a bit of consulting.

    My take on the book (not being the actual "driver" of the Mac), is that it has more than what the average person would need to know to become familiar with their Mac acquisition. I felt somewhat better trying to tackle some of Jamie's questions, knowing I had something concrete to consult. While the GUI isn't incredibly difficult, once you get used to it (it vaguely reminded me of KDE), it's not easy when you don't know how. Wang is a person who "knows how", so I was reassured on those occasions when I need a bit of help figuring something out.

    I was a little torqued that basic networking wasn't easily located in the book. I consider that task to be one of the top five things any user will want to know how to do the first hour they have their Mac in their possession. Whatever you may think of the merits of Bluetooth, it still isn't as common in the world as WLANs, yet, the words "network" and "WLAN" appear not at all in the Index. I found myself wondering how David Pogue's Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual would have compared (no, I've never reviewed it).

    Don't get me wrong. Wang's book is a fine text, written with knowledge and wit. It's an easy read and for the most part, presents information in a very organized and linear fashion. The subtitle "52 Simple Projects to Get You Started" are 52 (more or less) common tasks the new Mac user will likely want to know how to do. That said, the writer of such a book isn't likely to be a new Mac user or a person who'll clearly remember what it was like to be a new user. As the clueless father of a new Mac user, I'd have liked it if the information I wanted was easier to find. Of course, with jillions and jillions of potential readers, how do you anticipate what each one will consider important first steps? I sympathize. As an author, I have to try to put myself into the shoes of my readers, just like any other writer. After all, the reader ultimately defines what they need out of a book, not the author or publisher.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

    nice review as always Trip. Look into scott kelby books on the mac. I've not read one but I see alot people pushing his books. They say he speaks in non-geek terms for people just wanting to use their toys.:biggrin
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS

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