REVIEW: "Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual", David Pogue
- BKMXSLMM.RVW 20110202
"Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual", David Pogue, 2009,
%A David Pogue david@...
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%G 978-0-596-15328-1 0-596-15328-7
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$34.99/C$43.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience i+ Tech 3 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 885 p.
%T "Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual"
The introduction to the book states that it is intended for all levels
of users, although it is primarily directed at those with an
intermediate level of familiarity with previous Mac versions.
Part one introduces the Desktop, and general interface functions.
Chapter one is about folders and windows. It definitely provides the
information necessary to begin to operate the computer, but it also
gives the lie to the statement that the Mac is easy to use. There are
a huge number of options for different functions, so many that it is
impossible to remember them all. The material is generally organized
by topic, but there are notes, tips, and mentions buried in the text,
and it is almost impossible to find these again, when you go back to
look for them. (Given the size of the book, I hesitate to suggest an
expansion, but a page or two, at the end of each chapter, listing the
points made, would probably be quite helpful. And the "delete" key
definitely needs to be listed in either the index or the key shortcuts
appendix.) The descriptions of operations are also incomplete in some
cases. There is mention of an indicator under Dock items which have
open windows, but not that processes with no open windows may still
show this indicator.
Chapter two proceeds in much the same way, dealing with the
filesystem, and a great deal of trivia related to the associated
windows. The search function, referred to as Spotlight, is very, very
detailed in chapter three. The Dock and Desktop, further aspects of
the operating interface, are described in chapter four. The review of
the functions is sometimes annoying in terms of the jargon used: does
"go straight to the corresponding window" mean that the window becomes
active, or comes to the foreground? Does it open a window if it
doesn't exist? Does it relate to programs, or just folders? You need
to work through the material with the book in one hand, and the Mac
under the other. (This process is not aided by inconsistencies in the
operation of the Mac itself. As I was working through this content I
tried to create a new document from within the TextEdit program, and
found that I did not have any options to create a file in any of the
new folders I had established previously. Later in the chapter there
was mention of dragging folders to the Dock, and so I tried that to
see whether it would allow me to use that folder. Lo and behold, now
I could create files in any of the new folders I had made, not just
the one I dragged to the Dock. Handy for my purposes, but not very
informative in terms of why it worked that way.)
Part two deals with applications and utilities that ship with the Mac.
Chapter five outlines programs in general, along with documents (in
terms of association with specific programs) and spaces (virtual,
multiple, or external screens). (More inconsistency: hiding the
Finder behaves differently from hiding other applications. And hiding
used with Expose can give you some very ... interesting effects. The
book warns you about neither.) There is also an overview of the
Dashboard and "widgets." Various aspects of data (entering, checking
and moving it) are addressed in chapter six. At this point in the
book, items and tips start to repeat in the content, which possibly
addresses the shortcomings in organization and the index. Scripting
(AppleScript) and mechanization (Automator) of common operations are
dealt with in chapter seven, along with a set of somewhat related
functions known as services. As could be expected with an activity of
the complexity of programming, the description of the associated
applications is unclear, but there are some examples that take the
reader in lock step through the process, and this exploration should
provide a better understanding. Chapter eight discusses the
installation of the Microsoft Windows operating system on a Mac. The
review of Boot Camp (multi-boot installation) is detailed, but the
outline of the virtualization options is limited to a mention of
Part three is entitled "The Components of Mac OS X," which sounds odd
in view of the pieces that have already been covered. Chapter nine
addresses System Preferences, which are fundamental and significant
settings and operations. The programs generally provided along with a
new Mac are described (in varying levels of detail) in chapter ten.
Removable storage, such as CDs and DVDs, are outlined in chapter
eleven, which also notes the iTunes system.
Part four is entitled the technologies of Mac OS X (which sounds a bit
odd given that the whole book would be about said technologies).
Chapter twelve deals with account aspects and functions. Given the
importance of access control, it is a bit disappointing to see
security factors dispersed throughout, and not presented clearly.
Networks and sharing are discussed in chapter thirteen, with an odd
gap in terms of sharing a wired Internet connection. Printing, in
fourteen, misses out on the sharing of printers in a mixed
environment. Chapter fifteen lists some aspects of multimedia, but is
strangely reticent about video capture. Some commands from the
default UNIX bash shell are described in chapter sixteen. Chapter
seventeen notes a few customizations, mostly dealt with via outside
Part five stresses the Mac OS online. Chapter eighteen examines the
setup of an Internet connection (and the discussion of sharing it is
still limited and confusing). Setup and operation of the Mail program
is covered in chapter nineteen. The Safari Web browser is dealt with
in chapter twenty, and, as usual, there are a number of little tricks
which would probably take you years to find out (by accident) on the
"intuitive" Mac. Chapter twenty-one explains iChat, the networks you
need to make it run, and an enormous number of tweaks for such a
simple function. Some Internet server programs are listed in chapter
twenty-two. They are given the level of detail that any average
computer user would need--except that the average computer user would
have no idea of the network connections needed to set up a server on
Part six is a set of appendices. The dialogues for basic installation
are listed in the first, but I was sorry not to see anything about
installation on non-Apple hardware. Appendix B has handy tips and
suggestions for troubleshooting the most common types of problems.
One of the appendices is a Windows-to-Mac dictionary, which can be
quite handy for those who are used to Microsoft systems. It could use
work in many areas: the entry for "Copy, Cut, Paste" says they work
"exactly" as they do in Windows, but does not give the key equivalent
of "Command" (the "clover" symbol) -C rather than Ctrl-C. You also
need to know that what the book, and most Apple keyboards, describes
as the "option" key is portrayed, in Mac menus, with a kind of bashed
"T." Appendix D has URLs for a number of resources. A set of
keyboard shortcuts is given in the last. This can be handy, but I
found, in trying to rediscover keystroke combinations that I vaguely
recalled from somewhere in the book, that I could not find many of
them in the appendix.
There is a style issue in the written material of the book: the
constant assertions that the Mac is better than everything, for
anything. The first sentence of chapter one says "When you first turn
on a Mac running OS X 10.6, an Apple logo greets you, soon followed by
an animated, rotating `Please wait' gear cursor--and then you're in.
No progress bar, no red tape." Well, if the gear cursor isn't an
analogue of a progress bar, I don't know what it's supposed to be.
(While we're at it, I'm not sure what the difference is between the
"gear cursor" and the "spinning beachball of death/SBOD.") Also, this
statement is false: when you first turn on a Snow Leopard Mac, you
have to go through some red tape and questions. This is only one
example of many. This style may have some validity. After all,
anyone who does not use a Mac comes across the same attitude in any
Mac fanatic, and, even without the system chauvinism, a positive
approach to teaching about the computer system is likely helpful to
the novice user. However, the style should not get in the way of
For those using the Mac, this book is enormously helpful, and contains
a wealth of information. It's not limited to the novice, or even the
intermediate user: I found items in the work that none of my Mac
support contacts knew. With some minor quibbles I can definitely say
that it is a worthwhile purchase.
copyright, Robert M. Slade 2011 BKMXSLMM.RVW 20110202
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