Computer Media Reviews | December 15, 2005

By Rachel Singer Gordon

Engst, Adam & others. Take Control of Tiger. Peachpit. 2005. 344p. ISBN 0-321-33017-X. pap. $29.99.
Kelby, Scott. Mac OS X Tiger Killer Tips. New Riders. 2005. 367p. ISBN 0-321-29054-2. pap. $29.99.
Knaster, Scott. Hacking Mac OS X Tiger: Serious Hacks, Mods and Customizations. Wiley. 2005. 378p. ISBN 0-7645-8345-X. pap. $24.99.
Laporte, Leo & Todd Stauffer. Leo Laporte’s Guide to Mac OS X Tiger. QUE. 2005. 395p. ISBN 0-7897-3393-5. pap. $24.99.

Mac OS X Support Essentials: A Guide to Supporting Amber Jewelry, Tea Sets, Sleeping Bags, Wholesale Tea Sets and Troubleshooting Mac OS X 10.4. 2d ed. Peachpit. (Apple Training). 2005. 547p. ed. by Owen Linzmayer. ISBN 0-321-33547-3. pap. $49.99.

Maran, Ruth & Kelleigh Johnson. Maran Illustrated Mac OS X v.10.4 Tiger. Thomson. 2005. 311p. ISBN 1-59200-878-X. pap. $24.99.
Stauffer, Todd & Kirk McElhearn. Mastering Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger. 4th ed. Sybex. 2005. 879p. ISBN 0-7821-4401-2. pap. $39.99.

As the halo effect from Apple’s iPod continues, slowly increasing the popularity of Macs, libraries should stock sufficient guides to Mac OS X Tiger (see also Computer Media, LJ 9/1/05). This set of guides contains something for everyone. Beginners and those switching from Windows will appreciate Maran Illustrated, with its full-color labeled screen shots; step-by-step instructions; straightforward, minimal verbiage; and extra tips. It outlines every basic activity, from Mac OS X basics and customization to applications and web browsing. Recommended for all libraries. On the other end of the spectrum, the self-study guide Mac OS X Support Essentials is based on Apple’s official training course for help desk personnel, technicians, and system administrators who support and troubleshoot Macs running OS X; it will also help those working toward Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist (ACHDS) certification. Beginning with installation and moving through topics like the command-line interface, networking, and troubleshooting, Support Essentials will help anyone providing support in a Mac environment. For larger libraries.

Targeting beginning to intermediate users, Leo Laporte’s Guide includes more background and depth and less step-by-step instruction than Maran. He details why and how to use various features while notes, tips, cautions, and sidebars add info. A final section on utilities, troubleshooting, and security is particularly useful in this thorough guide to OS X use for all libraries. Take Control of Tiger combines four previous ebooks (on upgrading, customizing, users and accounts, and file sharing) in one print title; free updates are available online. Heavy on bulleted lists and step-by-step instructions, the four self-contained sections are concise and easy to follow, but those seeking information on one of these topics may not need the others. A supplemental purchase for medium and larger libraries. Hacking targets those willing to tinker to customize and optimize their OS X Tiger machines in three gradually more complicated sections: tips, mods, and hacks. Sample code is available online, and readers will welcome its enthusiastic tone and useful tips (though the last section will be most useful to those with a programming background). For larger libraries.

Billing itself as "the ultimate collection of Mac OS X sidebar tips (without the sidebars)," Killer Tips offers brief how-tos on "cool stuff" for intermediate users. Full-color screen shots illustrate each; sections range from window tips to iLife tips. A chapter on "cheap tricks" includes pranks to pull on unsuspecting OS X users, including creating fake dialog boxes and rotating the screen image upside-down or sideways. A fun supplementary purchase for medium and larger libraries. A thorough reference for all levels, Mastering will be especially useful to upgraders and basic-level users wanting to enhance their knowledge. Coverage of new features and troubleshooting information are especially useful, while appendixes include installation and setup, a classic Mac user’s migration guide, and an applications guide. Appropriate for all libraries.

Maran, Ruth & Kelleigh Johnson. Maran Illustrated Computers. Thomson. 2005. 295p. ISBN 1-59200-874-7. pap. $24.99.
Maran, Ruth & Kelleigh Johnson. Maran Illustrated Computers Guided Tour. Thomson. 2005. 233p. ISBN 1-59200-880-1. pap. $24.99.
Miller, Michael. Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Computer Basics. 3d ed. QUE. 2005. 386p. ISBN 0-7897-3430-3. pap. $19.99.
Miller, Michael. Easy Computer Basics: See It Done. Do It Yourself. QUE. 2005. 246p. ISBN 0-7897-3420-6. pap. $19.99.

Public libraries especially have ongoing demand for basic PC guides; any of these gentle introductions is a suitable update for older titles. Absolute Beginner’s Guide targets new PC buyers, walking them through everything from setting up a new system to instant messaging and managing digital photos. This nice reference shows the range of things one can do with a computer and answers many common questions. Instructions are straightforward and illustrations plentiful, but the overall result may overwhelm absolute newbies. For medium and larger libraries. For absolute beginners, the full-color, heavily illustrated Easy nicely shows the basics, from the parts and how they hook up to connecting to the Internet and protecting a PC; unobtrusive tips and notes add info. Step-by-step instructions and minimal verbiage make this a nonthreatening guide for all libraries.

Also for absolute beginners, Maran Illustrated Computers and Maran Illustrated Computers Guided Tour contain almost entirely the same text. Guided Tour, however, uses the Maran cartoonish floppy disk character as a "tour guide" and is slightly larger in format (with larger fonts), while Maran Illustrated Computers contains a concluding chapter on "multimedia and handheld devices" and an illustrated glossary that Guided Tour lacks. In each, topics about how computers work and what you can use them for are organized into two-page, full-color, heavily illustrated spreads. Each also includes basic, if limited, coverage of multiple PC operating systems and of Macs, making them more inclusive than Easy or Absolute Beginner’s, which cover only Windows PCs. Either is appropriate for all public libraries, but don’t buy both unless you’re looking for duplication.

Science & Technology

Rachel Singer Gordon is Consulting Editor, Information Today Books; webmaster,; and author of The Accidental Library Manager (ITI, 2005)