The Barnes & Noble Review
Mac OS X: It shipped, it works, and while there are still some rough edges, Steve Jobs's brainchild is taking the Macintosh experience to a whole new level. Whether your new Macintosh has Mac OS X preinstalled or you're upgrading a box you already have, this ain't your Dad's Mac OS.
Mac OS X doesn't just look mah-velous, dressed to kill in its splendid Aqua interface. It's looking a lot more reliable, too, thanks to those Unix roots. Of course, if you do need to go under the hood, there are some very non-Mac-like sharp edges down there. Thank those Unix roots again.
Right now, the reality is that most Mac OS X users are running two operating systems: OS X and "Classic," the cleaned-up Mac OS 9.1 that provides compatibility with their bread-and-butter software. Over the months and years, many will gradually spend less time with "Classic" and more time swimming in Aqua. Here's a book that'll help them where they are, and where they're headed: The Mac OS X Book, by Mark R. Bell.
You may own one of the many excellent Mac OS guides Bell has written over the years. Like Mac OS X itself, this book is new through-and-through. Bell starts with a guided tour of Mac OS X: its structure, its components, why it's so much more robust, and the interface stuff you need to know right away: navigation and file management. Bell introduces the new Column View of file organization; the much-commented and highly customizable Dock; and a few other goodies (Clippings, Stickies, and so forth).
Then, it's on to Classic: configuring it, working with it, updating it, and so forth. Some of this material may be familiar to Mac OS 9.x users, but not everything works exactly the same in Classic as it did on a "real" old-fashioned Mac, so it's important to have this material handy. For example, there's a new Classic pane in System Preferences that lets you configure when and how you run Classic; and not every Mac OS 9.1 Control Panel is functional (Control Strip and Location Manager functions are handled by Mac OS X even when you're running in Classic.)
Once you're comfortable that you can go scurrying back to Classic whenever you need to, Bell dives into the fun stuff. You'll find detailed coverage of working with the new Finder and Desktop; and of customizing Mac OS X (not just with the built-in tools but also with the growing number of third-party utilities. There's a full chapter on Mac OS X for notebooks, followed by a thorough review of running Mac OS X applications -- including a look at compatibility issues and coverage of Mac OS X's true, smooth, preemptive multitasking (finally!)
Bell then turns to the needs of creative professionals (and amateurs doing creative things). You'll find detailed coverage of Mac OS X font management and third-party utilities, a brief review of ColorSync and color matching in OS X; and a full chapter on multimedia -- QuickTime, speech, and iMovie.
With a new, supercharged OS, we hope more Mac professionals will take a look at AppleScripting as a great opportunity to improve their productivity. Bell offers a jumpstart on AppleScripting, covering the basics, reviewing what's new in AppleScript, and offering some helpful example scripts. There's also a chapter on running Java on the Mac. Formerly the stepchild of the Java world, Mac OS X jumps to the head of the class with an excellent implementation of J2SE 1.3 -- they've even "Aquafied" the Swing user interface classes. To the average Mac user, that's all jargon: the point is that contemporary Java apps ought to run a whole lot better than they ever did before.
The book concludes with a 30-page overview of Mac OS X troubleshooting, and a comprehensive section on networking and Internet connectivity. From file sharing to web sharing, security to Internet system preferences, Bell covers it clearly and well.
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.