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

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Splash Cars guide - How to paint the tow...
Splash Cars is an arcade driving game that feels like a hybrid between Dawn of the Plow and Splatoon. In it, you'll need to drive a car around to repaint areas of a town that have lost all of their color. Check out these tips to help you perform... | Read more »
The best video player on mobile
We all know the stock video player on iOS is not particularly convenient, primarily because it asks us to hook a device up to iTunes to sync video in a world that has things like Netflix. [Read more] | Read more »
Four apps to help improve your Super Bow...
Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and whether you’re a Panthers or a Broncos fan you’re no doubt gearing up for it. [Read more] | Read more »
LooperSonic (Music)
LooperSonic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: LooperSonic is a multi-track audio looper and recorder that will take your loops to the next level. Use it like a loop pedal to... | Read more »
Space Grunts guide - How to survive
Space Grunts is a fast-paced roguelike from popular iOS developer, Orange Pixel. While it taps into many of the typical roguelike sensibilities, you might still find yourself caught out by a few things. We delved further to find you some helpful... | Read more »
Dreii guide - How to play well with othe...
Dreii is a rather stylish and wonderful puzzle game that’s reminiscent of cooperative games like Journey. If that sounds immensely appealing, then you should immediately get cracking and give it a whirl. We can offer you some tips and tricks on... | Read more »
Kill the Plumber World guide - How to ou...
You already know how to hop around like Mario, but do you know how to defeat him? Those are your marching orders in Kill the Plumber, and it's not always as easy as it looks. Here are some tips to get you started. This is not a seasoned platform... | Read more »
Planar Conquest (Games)
Planar Conquest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $12.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: IMPORTANT: Planar Conquest is compatible only with iPad 3 & newer devices, iPhone 5 & newer. It’s NOT compatible with... | Read more »
We talk to Cheetah Mobile about its plan...
Piano Tiles 2 is a fast-paced rhythm action high score chaser out now on iOS and Android. You have to tap a series of black tiles that appear on the screen in time to the music, being careful not to accidentally hit anywhere else. Do that and it's... | Read more »
Ultimate Briefcase guide - How to dodge...
Ultimate Briefcase is a simple but tricky game that’s highly dependent on how fast you can react. We can still offer you a few tips and tricks on how to survive though. Guess what? That’s exactly what we’re going to do now. Take it easy [Read more... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch 1.2GHz Silver Retina MacBook on sale...
B&H Photo has the 12″ 1.2GHz Silver Retina MacBook on sale for $1399 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from... Read more
iPads on sale at Target: $100 off iPad Air 2,...
Target has WiFi iPad Air 2s and iPad mini 4s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for... Read more
Target offers Apple Watch for $100 off MSRP
Target has Apple Watches on sale for $100 for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - Apple... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
Macs available for up to $300 off MSRP, $20 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Watch Super Bowl 50 Live On Your iPad For Fre...
Watch Super Bowl 50 LIVE on the CBS Sports app for iPad and Apple TV. Get the app and then tune in Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM ET to catch every moment of the big game. The CBS Sports app is... Read more
Two-thirds Of All Smart Watches Shipped In 20...
Apple dominated the smart watch market in 2015, accounting for over 12 million units and two-thirds of all shipments according to Canalys market research analysts’ estimates. Samsung returned to... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H Photo has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $180 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Gray Retina MacBook: $1499 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.2GHz Silver... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model... Read more
Apple now offering full line of Certified Ref...
Apple now has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Subject Matter Expert - Experis (Uni...
This position is for an Apple Subject Matter Expert to assist in developing the architecture, support and services for integration of Apple devices into the domain. Read more
*Apple* Macintosh OSX - Net2Source Inc. (Uni...
…: * Work Authorization : * Contact Number(Best time to reach you) : Skills : Apple Macintosh OSX Location : New York, New York. Duartion : 6+ Months The associate would Read more
Computer Operations Technician ll - *Apple*...
# Web Announcement** Apple Technical Liaison**The George Mason University, Information Technology Services (ITS), Technology Support Services, Desktop Support Read more
Restaurant Manager - Apple Gilroy Inc./Apple...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.