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iBook Book Review :

"The Little iBook Book"

Written by John Tollett and Robin Williams

 by Ted Bade


"Almost anyone who's used a Macintosh long enough to consider him- or herself a "Mac user" knows about Robin Williams, author of The Little Mac Book and several other well-loved guides to desktop publishing. She's always used her books to welcome newcomers to the Mac community, and here she teams up with John Tollett on The Little iBook Book. This latest addition to the Mac canon focuses on Apple's swoopy new notebook computer, its Mac OS 8.6, its applications software, and the tricks of the mobile-computing trade. Williams and Tollett don't disappoint, delivering advice well-suited for those getting into personal computing by way of an iBook.
They also give a fine overview of the accessories available for spiffing up your streamlined companion."

The little iBook Book is published by Peachpit press.
The 231 page Paperback Edition of "The Little iBook Book " is now shipping. You can order it now and Amazon will ship it to you.


If you're lucky enough to have purchased one of Apple's iBook (recently listed as the Best Selling portable computer on the American market according to PC Data), you may have many questions. The Little iBook Book fills the great canyon between the information Apple provides and what you really need to know to use your new m achine to its fullest potential. It is well written, very easy to read, and entertaining.

 The book is divided into four parts covering the use of the iBook "At home", with e-mail, "On the Road", and an "extras" section for everything else.


"At Home" is a general section providing an over view of the iBook itself as well as the software included in the package. The chapter starts with a description of where things are on the iBook, how to plug things in, and where various controls and settings are located. You'll learn to replace a battery, install RAM, and use file synchronization.
In the software chapter, John Tollett and Robin Williams
offer detailed information on how to use Appleworks, FAXstf, the Apple AudioCD player, Netscape Communicator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The chapter ends with a brief description of other software included covering QuickTime, Bugdom, Edview, Outlook Express, and other Macintosh system applications.


The chapter on the Keyboard explains special features you might not be familiar with, including the function keys, user-definable Fkeys, how to use the embedded numeric keypad, and the keyboard control panel.

Getting Online...  
Connecting to the Internet goes into great detail on how to set up the iBook to access AOL or an general Internet service provider. The description is detailed and should answer most questions an inexperienced user might have. It explains how to choose a user name, password, email address, how to access newsgroups, and more. You'll find lots of excellent information about Apple's Internet, Modem, Remote Access, TCP/IP, and Personal Web sharing control panels.

The chapter ends with file sharing; how to connect your iBook to another Macintosh. You'll find step-by-step instructions on setting up an Ethernet network using AppleTalk. The instructions not only include directions on setting up the hard ware, but also how to set up Apple's file sharing and AppleTalk control panels. The chapter include information on working with the Airport base station and installing the Airport card in your iBook. Missing from these descriptions are options for connecting to a Macintosh that doesn't have Ethernet as an option. 

The e-mail section is terrific !
I would recommend that anyone who uses e-mail on a Macintosh to read this book just for the section on e-mail.

The authors describe the "how to" of e-mail from top to bottom, answering most of the common questions new users have and include a lot of information even experienced users will find useful. This section covers the gamut from doing e-mail on your iBook at home to easily accessing it on the road.

You'll find a detailed description on using AOL, Netscape, and Outlook Express for email. You'll learn to set up the programs as well as how to create interesting email using HTML features. A brief but important section on "Email Etiquette" ends the chapter.

Since the iBook is portable, knowing how to access email when not at home is very important. The chapter on "Portable email accounts" considers options for doing just this. You'll learn everything from getting the best ISP for travel to setting up a travel only (free) email account.


The Best Section in this Book May be ...
The "On the Road" section, it not only explains how to, but includes many warnings (electronic phone systems in hotel might damage your iBook's modem), and describes a variety of equipment to test, connect to, and protect your machine, and even describes special considerations when traveling in foreign countries. This section should be required reading for any roadwarrior, whether using an iBook or a PowerBook. The information and warnings apply to both.

The Little iBook Book includes suggestions for protecting your iBook from being damaged using digital phone systems, handling non-standard telephone wiring, and use of surge protection. Included is an in depth discussion of using Apple's Location Manager control panel to easily change settings from "home" to "road" use.

In the chapter "Connecting on the Road" the authors discuss the hot to and pitfalls of connecting while away from home. You'll learn to get online through hotel switchboards, pay phones, finding AOL numbers and even connecting when on a jet plane. The next chapter discusses how to get faxes and even how to find printing services when away from home.

The section is rounded out with a chapter on Foreign countries. You'll learn what might be needed to connect to these phone systems, how to handle different types of electrical power, and dealing with many other "foreign" (meaning non-US) phone companies.

Extra Extra....
The "Extras" section talks about security when traveling, troubleshooting the operating system, and hooking up those useful USB devices to the iBook.
However as the authors mention If your looking for more detailed information on the Mac OS, (something that really deserves it's own book) the authors recommend getting a book devoted solely to that subject.

In the extra tips section you will learn about power conservation, setting up a RAM disk, troubleshooting a bad system, airport security, language translation, and car travel. However, the section on troubleshooting is very limited. The Accessories section discusses a variety of items you can plug into your iBook using its USB port.

The authors also make use of a cute rat-like animal (named Url) to help them describe the material. This worldly experienced rodent knows a lot about traveling with a portable computer. The descriptions of his experience tie the book together nicely with a friendly humorous touch.

The tips in this book would be very useful to the owner of any portable computer. The information on e-mail and traveling with a portable really applies to most machines. I own a PowerBook G3 and not an iBook, yet I learned a lot about taking my machine on the road.

Pro's and Con's...
Overall this book is excellent. It is written in a way a beginner can learn from it but still offers information valuable to experienced users (parts of it might be a little light reading for advanced users). The Little iBook Book could have used more detailed information on how to deal with iBook problems. There is nothing worse then taking a machine with you only to find it refuses to work; and saying now what do I do?

Our Rating...
We give this book five iBooks (out of five possible). It is well written and valuable to both the novice and experienced Macintosh portable owner (iBook or PowerBook). I admire the authors for writing a book that is entertaining and very informative.



Robin Williams has written more than a dozen best selling Macintosh based books, including The Little Mac Book, The Little iMac Book, The Non-Designer's Design Book, and The Mac Is Not a Typewriter. John Tolett has also worked with Robin to co-author The Non-Designer's Web Book.

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 MacHome 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 with his Macintosh G4 or PowerBook G3.

Books By Robin Williams (and co-authors):

The Little Mac Book (Little Book Series)

Beyond the Little Mac Book

The Little iMac Book

Beyond The Mac Is Not a Typewriter

The Mac Is Not a Typewriter

The Non-Designer's Design Book

The Non-Designer's Web Book

How to Boss Your Fonts Around, Second Edition

The First web site Dedicated to Apple's iBook !

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






"The Little iBook Book fills the great canyon between the information Apple provides and what you really need to know to use your new machine to its fullest potential."

"...anyone who uses
e-mail on a Macintosh, should read this book just for the section on

"The tips in this book would be very useful to the owner of any portable computer."

"We give
'The Little iBook Book'
five iBooks out of five..."