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iBook Book Review:

"The Ultimate iBook iBook "

by Dan Parks Sydow

 Review by Ted Bade

Dan Parks Sydow- When the iMac came out, I wanted to write a book that would help beginner and intermediate Mac users alike get the most out of their new, innovative machine -- so I wrote "The Ultimate iMac Book." Now, for iBook users, I've written the follow-up title "The Ultimate iBook Book." For all those people who e-mail me questions about connecting to the Internet, connecting your iBook to other Macs, transferring files without a floppy drive, and more -- this book is for you!

The Ultimate iBook Book suggested retail price is $24.95 and is published by Mac Central Press. The 408 page Paperback Edition of " The Ultimate iBook Book" is now shipping.

You can Order it Now From Amazon.com for $19.99 !
 

The Ultimate iBook Book offers detailed information presented in a manner easily understood by the computer novice. It covers a variety of topics ranging from the basic desktop to adding peripherals and troubleshooting. While it is yet another ported iMac book, repackaged, and sold as specific for the iBook, it is well written and would be useful to an iBook owner new to the Macintosh.

There are many ways to present the material of a "technology" book. Many authors opt to make the book a reference, intending that their readers scan sections of interest now, and return later with questions. Another method is to design the book to educate the reader. Mr. Sydow presents the materials in The Ultimate iBook Book in the latter fashion. If you read this book as presented, you will learn a lot about using your iBook and Macintoshes in general.

There are occasions in this book when the topic of a section is one thing, but the text of the section begins with a description of something loosely related, although not exactly on topic; often these items are not related to the iBook.For instance, his dissertation on various types of RAM seem superfluous, although educational. That the fact that this book is perhaps just a "port" of the Ultimate iMac book shows here as well. Explanations of upgrades that cannot be done on an iBook (upgrading VRAM), while educational aren't applicable. There is nothing wrong with doing this; just that it is not related.

Let's look at what's in this book!

The book begins with the expected basic introduction to the iBook, the MacOS, and Macintosh software. I like the fact that more technical information is set aside with a section stating "Warning, this is technical".

This first section acquaints the user with the iBook, explains using the keyboard, trackpad and button, use of the hard drive, and the various ports and connections to the iBook. The software section briefly describes MacOS 8.6 (which came on the original Rev. A iBooks), and offers a paragraph on the software included with the iBook. I was a bit disappointed with his description of the Palm Desktop organizer, since he implies you need a Palm PDA to use it. I know several people who feel this program is very useful without owning a PDA.

In the style of a true educational book, after introducing the MacOS briefly, the next chapters describe it in more detail. The material here is an excellent beginners guide to the MacOS. Mr. Sydow does a great job of including information many new Mac owners find confusing. For instance, opening a file versus an application, switching between running applications (and the fact that the Finder is an application), what control panels are, how to change item icons, and how to adjust the Finder preferences. If every new Mac owner would read these chapters, there would be a lot less questions!!!

In the chapter on Macintosh software, he explains the how and why of "electronic documentation" and online help, and offers a pretty good discussion on different file types one might run into and how to deal with them. The book's explanation of the difference between commercial, shareware, and beta software is one of the best I have read in a book. I know shareware authors will appreciate the comments on the importance of paying their fee.

The "i" in iBook or iMac is for Internet. The Ultimate iBook Book describes how to connect to the Internet and what to do once connected. There are two basic areas covered, connecting via America Online or through an Internet Service provider. The information is arranged so that one need read only one section. Although reading both sections can be very educational.

The chapter on setting up and using America Online is very useful. It can be used to walk a new iBook user through the process of setting up AOL and then using it.

In brief this section covers how to install the software, setting up a new account (with a screen by screen explanation) or an existing account, how to deal with AOL link (and what it is for), connecting to AOL through an ISP, and how to access email, the Web, using non-AOL Internet software when connected to AOL, and newsgroups. The chapter is loaded with screen shots showing what one should see when doing many of the steps discussed. Heck, I even learned a thing or two in this chapter!! My only concern was he didn't discuss increasing RAM usage of the AOL package (or other web browsers later).

The next chapter walks the user through setting up Internet access using an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and is equally thorough. There are many more variables to doing this, because each ISP is different. The book describes using the ISP provided with the iBook (EarthLink) and discusses other ISPs in general. This chapter gets a bit more technical about how the Internet works.

The following chapter describe e-mail. Again more detail is provided here. Not only how to use it, but explains concepts like POP address, SMTP Servers, and email addresses. For his examples he uses Outlook Express, software that is included with the iBook. Features explained include contact lists, sending and receiving mail, and even dealing with attachments. The section on dealing with attachments is more technical, but then dealing with attachments can be a chore, so the more knowledge the better. The chapter provides follow along examples which can help a new user quickly and easily learn to handle email.

The chapter on Web browsers discusses both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, introduces the concept of bookmarks, plug-ins, and changing some preferences. Where to go on the web offers a list and description of a good many Internet sites, discusses finding addresses and maps, and even using Internet sites to backup data from your hard drive.

The chapters on peripherals discusses USB and how to expand and connect devices, as well as providing a description of several useful devices, everything from keyboards to cameras. The section on printers includes information on connecting non-USB printers. Also provided is information on ADB, Serial, and SCSI converters. Sadly lacking was any warnings about these often troublesome adapters.

The concept of wireless networking was introduced along with the iBook. This books offers considerable detail on networking you iBook. After explaining networking, the book goes into some detail on how to install the hardware and software needed to network. The chapter on the Airport shows how to install and setup the Airport card using a Rev A. iBook, then how to make up a network using either an Airport hub or simply connecting two machines with Airport cards together.

Setting up Ethernet covers conventional cable based networks and includes some detail on using adapters to connect the iBook to older serial based AppleTalk devices. Again he covers setting up a network using a hub and several machines as well as connecting two machines together via a crossover cable.

Following all this information on various hardware configurations there is a nicely detailed section describing how to set up the MacOS software to do this. Again I must remark how much I liked the excellent screen shots of this well written step-by-step approach. 

After a while every computer owner needs to resolve problems with the machine. The Ultimate iBook Book provides some basic information on troubleshooting and recovering a confused machine. The basics are covered including information on repair software, resetting PRAM, the restore disk, and viruses. Other sources of information are explained such as software updates and web sites that offer help. Upgrading the iBook is also included in this section.

The last two chapters describe things one may want to use the iBook for, playing computer games and building a web site. The chapter on games introduces a number of games, game related web sites and peripherals.

The 40 page long chapter, Building a web page, attempts to introduce, with much detail, building a web page. I had mixed feelings on this chapter. Personally, I think the information is out of place, but in a way logical. It will either confuse a new user with too much detail or whet one's appetite for more. This depends on the reader. Dan also favors hand coding over using products like BBEdit, AOL Press or PageMill. Once a iBook user gets proficient, they will want to do other things and creating web pages is one of them.

While reading 'The Ultimate iBook Book" you will have to deal with a number of sometimes confusing and often annoying editing errors. These type of errors have little to do with the writing and a lot to do with the production of the book. But don't let that stop you from reading the book.

Also it would have been nice if this book had a better index. Doing a quick check I found some holes. The "Airport" area didn't list the pages at the end of the book on installing the Airport card, and there was no entry for "Printers" nor for "MacOS". But this isn't a reference book; just read it!

Conclusion - The Bottom Line...

Overall, I liked the tutorial approach of the Ultimate iBook Book. Sure, it's just a rewritten copy of another book, but once a beginner has read it they will know a lot more about the machine.

And "The Ultimate iBook Book" offers some excellent chapters and nicely detailed (and illustrated) how-to sections. Despite some flaws, this book is an excellent choice for a new user who will read this book from start to finish to learn more.

Ease of Use :

2.5

Content Quality :

4.5

Over All Score :

3.5

If you are interested in buying this book on-line, or want more information, you can either click on, The Ultimate iBook Book to go directly to Amazon.com or visit our iBook Book Store. 

Happy Reading!

Ted Bade



Dan Parks Sydow is a software engineer, Macintosh programmer, Contributing Editor and Columnist for MacCentral, Columnist for MacTech Magazine, and since 1993 Dan has written almost twenty Macintosh books.

You can find several of Dan's titles, such as "The Ultimate iBook Book", "The Ultimate iMac Book", and "Macintosh Programming Techniques", at The Mac Book Source.

Dan also has his own web site at http://www.sydow.com.



About the Reviewer:

Ted Bade has been using Apple computers since 1982 and Macs since 1985. Dedicated to the Macintosh, he has been a member and leader of a Computer user group since 1983. He has a degree in electrical engineering and loves to write. To date he has published a number of articles in Mac Home Journal magazine, writes for iBook-User and writes regularly for H.U.G.E. a computer user group newsletter, and freelances whenever he can find the time and need. While he's not playing Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament on his Macintosh G4 or PowerBook G3.

The First web site Dedicated to Apple's iBook !

 iBook-User © is a Publication of P1 Publishing LLC 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...it is well written and would be useful to an iBook owner new to the
Macintosh !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Explanations of upgrades that cannot be done on an iBook (upgrading VRAM), while educational aren't applicable"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"offers a pretty good discussion on different file types one might run into and how to deal with them" 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"the explanation of the difference between commercial, shareware, and beta software is one of the best I have read"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I liked the excellent screen shots of this well written step-by-step approach"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"iBook-User gives
'The Ultimate iBook Book'
3.5 iBooks out
of five..."