TweetFollow Us on Twitter

What's on Your Bookshelf?

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 9
Column Tag: Reviews

What's on Your Bookshelf?

Ten for X

by Vicki Brown

Building a Library

Macintosh users have, traditionally, prided themselves on the fact that they don't need to read manuals. While users of "those other operating systems" can't get by without "cracking the books", Mac users smile and flaunt the fact that the booklet that came in the box is still in its original shrink wrap. That's our traditional, public face.

In private, however, many Mac OS users actually do collect, read, write, and refer to books. We want to understand this operating system that we use daily. We want to know more about its intricacies and idiosyncrasies. We want to learn new tips and tricks that we can use to impress our friends. On the down side, Apple doesn't really supply a manual with Mac OS X. On the plus side, there are several publishers (and quite a few excellent writers) producing plenty of books on the subject.

Getting Started

In 2002, the first edition of Mac OS X: The Missing Manual was the number one bestselling computer book. Created by David Pogue, computer columnist for The New York Times and bestselling Macintosh author, the "Missing Manual" series lays claim to providing the books "that should have been in the box" and lives up to its claim.

At 712 pages, Mac OS X: The Missing Manual is a sturdy tome, covering the Desktop, Finder, applications, components, the Unix underpinnings, and much more. Even Mac OS X power users should consider owning a copy of this book. At the very least, you'll want to recommend it to all of your friends and relatives who are still using Mac OS 9, as a gentle introduction to the wonders of Mac OS X.

A more advanced book, Mac OS X Unleashed (John Ray and William C. Ray), is aimed directly at power users and administrators. This book also starts by covering the basics, such as the Finder and applications; then it moves into the deeper administration arcana of networking, adding users, using the Terminal application, and the Unix command line. In fact, much of the book concentrates on capabilities that can be reached from the command line, rather than the Finder, and there are more textual examples than pictures throughout the book.

If you're a power user or administrator (or seek to become one), you'll want a copy of this book. My only gripe with it is that, at 1520 pages, it's more than a little awkward to handle!

If you're already at an advanced stage, but want a handy reference book, try Mac OS X in a Nutshell (Jason McIntosh, et. al.) Part of the O'Reilly Nutshell series, this book provides a more terse reference than the two mentioned above; Nutshell books "give you what you need to know in as few words as possible". This is the book you'll want to consult when you already understand the basics of what you need to do, but cannot quite recall the specifics. It also provides a handy way to review what you know, to make sure you haven't missed anything major. And, lest you worry that "terse" equates to less information - do not fear. At 800 pages, this book has plenty of "thud factor".

*nix Under the Covers

Much has been made of the fact that Mac OS X is built on top of Darwin, a version of Unix based on BSD and the Mach microkernel. Although it is possible to use Mac OS X without ever making the acquaintance of the Darwin layer, power users, administrators, and developers (as well as Unix-users switching to Mac OS X!) will want to know more about Darwin. There are several books that provide assistance in this regard.

Two books from O'Reilly, Learning Unix for Mac OS X (Dave Taylor and Brian Jepson), and Mac OS X for Unix Geeks (Brian Jepson and Ernest E. Rothman), should certainly be on your shelf. Both are recommended by the Apple Developer Connection (ADC). Learning Unix for Mac OS X is aimed at Mac OS users who are interested in learning about Unix; Mac OS X for Unix Geeks is aimed at long-time Unix users who are "switching" to Mac OS X. Whichever group you see yourself in, I'd recommend adding both books to your shelf - if one doesn't address your questions, the other probably will.

If you want more depth than these two books provide, take another look at Mac OS X Unleashed. I was surprised at the amount of content this book provided on using the NetInfo Manager, using Terminal.app and basic Unix commands, and more. There are chapters on advanced shell concepts and commands, shell scripting, server and network administration, and much more. Consider this a heavy duty (in more ways than one :-) book for advanced Mac OS X use.

Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Admit it; one of the coolest things about being a Mac OS X power user is the ability to amaze your friends and relatives with all kinds of nifty tips, shortcuts, and "how did you know that?!" tricks. If you agree, you'll be happy to know that at least three books were written especially for you.

Mac OS X Killer Tips (Scott Kelby), deserves a place on your coffee table, if only for its look and feel. Every page is in full color, with screen shots. You'll find yourself flipping through this book simply because it's fun to do so and you'll learn new tricks at the same time.

Kelby says we're all drawn to the little "sidebar" tips in good books, because that's where the "really amazing, really fun, really useful stuff is found". So he decided to write a book that contained nothing but sidebar tips - 260 pages, 2 tips to a page. If you don't buy this book for the tips, buy it for the graphics; it's simply a fun book.

Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition (Rob Griffiths) provides 560 tips on everything from the Desktop and Finder to Unicode, to popular third party applications. For those interested in the Unix command line, the book devotes two chapters (and 100 pages) to the terminal, shell, and other Unix hints.

A more technical set of tricks can be found in Mac OS X Hacks by Rael Dornfest and Kevin Hemenway. David Pogue, in the book's Foreword, writes:

    This book might occasionally be over the head of many Mac fans. (If you want more general, less technical, everyday operating tips, try Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition.)

But some people get as much a kick out of putting a computer through its paces as they do from everyday issues like productivity. Part of the spirit of hacking is doing things that the product's developer didn't quite imagine, finding the new and creative uses that are only possible to those who are willing to leave the beaten path. For the hackers among us, it's all about the thrill of discovery.

If that describes you, you'll want this book on your shelf.

Uh oh...

Sometimes, despite all your precautions or learning, things go wrong. Ouch. Or, better, you may want to find ways to prevent things from going wrong. For those times, here are two more books you may want to have on hand.

Mac OS X Disaster Relief (Ted Landau) is the book you hope you'll never need. Landau is the founder of the MacFixit Web site (www.macfixit.com), the "primary first-aid station for Mac users in trouble". In this book, he makes his trouble-shooting knowledge available to Mac OS X users, covering freezes and crashes (both prevention and recovery), third-party troubleshooting utilities, installing (and reinstalling) Mac OS X, printing problems, and more. If you have never had a problem with Mac OS X, consider yourself blessed. However, you might still want a copy of this book on your shelf, as a good luck charm.

Mac OS X Maximum Security (John Ray and William C. Ray) provides "a hacker's guide to protecting your Mac OS X workstation and server". (Note: The media notwithstanding, hackers are the good guys; crackers are the bad guys.)

The original Mac OS (long before Apple called it "Mac OS") didn't need much security. As this book's authors put it, from a security standpoint, the early Macs might as well have been toaster ovens. They couldn't be compromised because, like toaster ovens, there was nothing to compromise. In recent years, however, the Mac OS has matured; the good news is that users have more and better features; the bad news is that security, once a no-brainer, has become an issue to consider.

Security is all about knowledge, risk assessment, and trust. The authors provide an introduction to the concepts and philosophy of computer security, including physical access, use policies, people, and limitations. The first nine chapters will give you a firm grounding in the theory and concepts of security (and how security can be compromised). Chapters 10 through 16 discuss specific Mac OS X resources and how to secure them, providing tips, tricks, and recipes. Chapters 17 through 20 concentrate on prevention, detection and reaction to attacks. If you're a system administrator, or you're hooking your Macintosh to the Internet, you may want to read this book... before you need it.

References

Learning Unix for Mac OS X, 2e (Taylor & Jepson; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00470-2)

Mac OS X: Maximum Security (Ray & Ray; Sams; 2003; ISBN 0-672-32381-8)

Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, 2e (Pogue; O'Reilly; 2002; ISBN 0-596-00450-8)

Mac OS X Disaster Relief (Landau; Peachpit; 2002; ISBN 0-201-78869-1)

Mac OS X for Unix Geeks (Jepson & Rothman; O'Reilly; 2002; ISBN 0-596-00356-0)

Mac OS X Hacks (Dornfest & Hemenway; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00460-5)

Mac OS X Hints: Jaguar Edition (Griffiths & Pogue; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-004510-6)

Mac OS X in a Nutshell (McIntosh, et al; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00370-6)

Mac OS X Killer Tips (Kelby; New Riders; 2003; ISBN 0-7357-1317-0)

Mac OS X Unleashed, 2e (Ray & Ray; Sams; 2003; ISBN 0-672-32465-2)


Vicki Brown

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Baseball Battle Review
Baseball Battle Review By Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE HITTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple and cute, Baseball Battle is a fairly fun baseball game for those looking for something... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Labor Day Weekend MacBook Pro sale; 15-inch m...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Labor Day Weekend iPad mini sale; $50 to $100...
Best Buy has the iPad mini with Retina Display (WiFi models) on sale for $50 off MSRP on their online store for Labor Day Weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
It’s Official: Apple Issues Invitations To Se...
Apple has issued one of its characteristically cryptic press invitations for a special event to be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in hometown Cupertino on Sept. 9, 2014 at 10:00 am... Read more
Tablet Shipments To See First On-year Decline...
TrendForce analyst Caroline Chen notes that when the iPad launched in 2010, it was an instant hit and spurred a tablet PC revolution, with tablets so popular that that notebook PC sales stagnated and... Read more
SOBERLINK Releases Apple iOS Compatible Handh...
Cypress, California based SOBERLINK, Inc., creator of the first handheld Breathalyzer designed to improve recovery outcomes, continues to show prominence in the mobile alcohol monitoring space with... Read more
New 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale again for $999, s...
Best Buy has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-... Read more
Smartphone Outlook Remains Strong for 2014, U...
According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014,... Read more
Save up to $60 with Apple refurbished iPod to...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
12-Inch MacBook Air Coming in 4Q14 or 2015 –...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to Taiwan-based upstream supply chain insiders, Apple plans to launch a thinner MacBook model either at year end 2014 or in 2015, and that... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.