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Interview : with Gene Steinberg

Author, of

"Sams Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours"

by Tom Trial


"Sams Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours" by Gene Steinberg is a hands-on, step-by-step guide that will lead you through the most frequently asked real-world questions about the iBook. Gene will show you how to set up your iBook, the basics of the Macintosh operating system, how to use the iBook's wireless Airport networking, and getting on the Internet. Gene also covers the basics about hard drives, Mac directories and files, as well as the fundamentals of backups and other smart safety tips. This book also instructs you on email and the Internet, faxing as well as many software basics.

The 400 page Paperback Edition of "Sams Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours" is scheduled to be published on December 17, 1999. You can order it now and Amazon will ship it to you when it arrives.




Gene, Welcome to iBook-User. Tell us, How did you get started in the field of writing. Do you remember your first paid article ?

I began writing as a teenager, and I first got paid for it in the mid-1960s, when I became managing editor of a small special interest magazine.


How did you get into covering Apple's computers ?

It's not something you generally do deliberately. I sort of fell into it, as others have done. I was the Mac support person at a graphic design studio. And, of course, I was a writer. I eventually got involved in helping folks on AOL with their Mac-related problems, and the reviews editor of a Mac magazine, Macworld, saw what I was doing and asked if I'd write for them. I said yes, and that's how it started.


For those who may not be familiar with the "Sam's Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours" series, Why don't you give them a Brief overview !

Macmillan's "Sams Teach Yourself" series is designed primarily for beginning users, or those who wish to brush up on their basics. These books consist of lessons, rather than chapters. Each lesson builds upon the previous one, and there's lots of hands-on instruction. By the end of the book, the reader has become quite skilled at a particular set of tasks. The books are designed more as a teaching tool than the regular computer book, and, I think, the technique works better.

These are the things that will serve them well as they grow in their computing experience !


Obviously the format is the same, but In what ways did the writing of Sam's Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours, differ from when you wrote "Teach Yourself the iMac in 24 hrs " ? and how was it similar ?

A lot of the Mac basics are the same, but with the iBook, we literally had to scramble to get the information. For one thing, when I wrote the book, the iBook wasn't officially shipping. We had to look at prototypes. We also had to make special arrangements with Apple Computer to photograph an iBook, to show its layout and describe the RAM installation process. That was difficult, because Apple isn't as cooperative as the used to be in this respect.

In the end, the iBook finally arrived at the stores just days before the book had to be finished in production, so I had to spend a few long days fine-tuning the material to make sure it was accurate and to make sure Apple didn't pull any surprises on us.


After the MacWorld Expo showcasing the iBook and Airport, shipping dates were repeatedly pushed back, How did this affect you and the production of the book?

As you can imagine, it drove us crazy. I had to find inventive ways to get the information as accurately as possible before the products came out. Also, it made us push back release date of the book about a month.


What was the most challenging part to writing this book ?

Writing about a product that wasn't for sale in the stores. I had to work around it, concentrating on basic Mac OS information that would be accurate regardless of hardware, then postpone the iBook-specific stuff to the last possible moment.


In doing your research on the iBook what did you find most interesting about the iBook overall ?

Actually a subjective impression, subjective enough not to make it into the book. I love the iBook's keyboard. It's better than the one on the regular PowerBooks. As I said, subjective, because other folks may disagree. But I've never been a fan of laptop keyboards, and this is the closest I've seen to a regular desktop computer keyboard in terms of feel and keyboard action.


Was there any omissions or things that you would have expected Apple to include in either the iBook or Airport ?

The iBook needs more RAM; 32 MB isn't enough. The hard drive is small, especially if you're into heavy-duty gaming. And the lack of an audio input seems silly, in light of the fact that Mac OS 9's voice verification feature requires a mike. Yes, you can buy a USB mike, but why?


Many Apple fans wonder what kind of support and connections (Who or what Dept. you had the most contact with) to Apple, do writers like yourself get.

Do you get to meet Steve Jobs ? Separate the Myth from reality for us !

Not the level of access we used to get.

In the old days, Apple would let journalists see pre-release products, so long as you agreed not to publish the story until the product was actually available. Now, unless the product is displayed at a show, such as Macworld Expo, the door is usually shut. We had only limited access for this book.

I think they (Apple) are wrong, they are just overreacting to the Web sites that publish information about unreleased product. But it hurts everyone, as the process of getting accurate information out about something new is delayed.


Overall what's your impression of the iBook, any any quick comparisions to the iMac ?

I was quite impressed with it. Yes, it has a somewhat toy-like appearance, but I think for their target audience, the consumer and education market, Apple's design wizards have given it the sort of flair and style that makes it stand out from the pack.


 What computer do you use ?

It's always in flux. I have a G3/400 now, my son uses an iMac. But we both plan to upgrade early in 2000, assuming Apple can deliver higher powered G4 models by then.


Will you be getting an iBook ?

I'm seriously thinking about it.

Gene, I think alot of iBook-User's will find Your book heplful and get it. We look forward to Reviewing it !Thank You and Good Luck in the New Year !


Thanks Peace,

Gene Steinberg

Gene Steinberg first used a Mac in 1984 and never looked back. He is a fact and science fiction writer, and computer software and systems consultant. Gene is the author of nearly 20 books on computers and online services, including "Sams Teach Yourself the iBook in 24 Hours," and "Sams Teach Yourself the iMac in 24 Hours" for Macmillan, and the forthcoming "Upgrading and Troubleshooting Your Mac" for Osborne/McGraw-Hill. Gene's commentaries and product reviews appear in MacHome magazine and his "Mac Reality Check" column for the Arizona Republic's Arizona Central Computing page. In his spare time, Gene and his son, Grayson, are developing a new science ficton adventure series, "Attack of the Rockoids" and His Personal site "Mac-Night Owl".


 The First web site Dedicated to Apple's iBook !

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

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The Book Steve Jobs Doesn't want you to read !

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