Book Review: Page (1) of 1 - 01/28/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Take Control of Panther

Learn the most effective way to install, customize, control and file share By Adam Bell
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Take Control of Panther
Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissel, Kirk McElhearn, Matt Neuberg
262 Pages
$29.99 US/$42.99 CAN
Peachpit Press
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When I first started to read this book, the first thing I noticed was the very first paragraph of the very first page. A reference was made to a very popular movie from the early 1980s with the late John Belushi and the not-so-late Dan Akyroyd about a pair of musicians who hit Chicago and the rest of the Midwest on a mission from God to teach people how to operate these things called "computers" while dancing and playing old blues music. 

The only problem is that the authors called the movie the "Blue Brothers."

Hmmmm ... maybe it's a merger between the jazz duo and those Blue Man Group guys in Vegas, but I doubt it.

So a typo right in the first paragraph is not a good sign to start a book. Fortunately, Akyroyd and Belushi are definitely not Jobs and Woz, and this book really is designed to teach you about a computer's OS and not how to dance badly to old blues music.

Take Control is actually a series of e-books that have been available for download for some time--since the very day Panther was released. So why the hardcopy book, then? Well, for starters, e-books just haven't taken off. Most people, myself included, prefer reading their books in bed with chapter printed on paper--and not from my Epson Stylus Printer. Most people still prefer the old-fashioned way of reading, so I don't see e-books taking over Borders or anytime soon.

So this is the reason this soft-bound book is in existence. Take Control combines four of the online titles into one printed piece. In this book you'll learn the most effective way to install Panther, the best ways to customize it, the ability to effectively controls users and accounts in OSX and also the best ways to do file sharing using Panther. 

Admittedly, since I am a single user on my two Macs, the chapter on Users and Accounts did not really interest me. However, one thing I did learn was even though I am a single user, I should still set up additional accounts on OSX in the case that if something goes wrong with my main account in OS X. That way, I could restart in another account with a more limited version of OS X and attempt to troubleshoot the problem. Not a bad idea at all.

Of the four chapters in this book, the one I think will be of the most interest will be the one on how to customize Panther properly. In this chapter you'll learn how to customize the Finder windows: how to use and optimize Exposť (the application that allows you to view all your open windows at once), how to use Font Book effectively to manage your fonts, how to customize Safari and even how to customize Terminal. This was the best "e-books" of the four in this book.

The chapter on file sharing offers a virtual buffet of items on how to share files from your Mac to either another account on the same machine or via FTP, Appleshare, NFS. WebDav or Samba. For most people, only one of these options will be necessary, but I'd rather see all options presented on the table instead of sticking to just one you'll never use.

One advantage to having e-books is that when you purchase this book, any updates to any of these four titles will be available to download from at no extra charge provided you already own the soft-bound book (or you bought an e-book instead). That is a nice touch, especially considering how many times Apple has updated Panther since this book was completed and released.

While this marriage of the traditional manuscript and the new era of the electronic book titles makes for a very interesting relationship, I just don't see how most people will even download the updates to these titles since most people don't want to lay down in bed and start reading passages from a Powerbook. Maybe what the authors should consider, if they haven't done so already, is creating versions of these books specifically to be hot-synched into iPods. They obviously relate very well to Apple's computers, and iPods are light and easy to hold in your hand. I could see attempting to fix a G5 while holding the instructions right in your iPod or PDA for that matter. That would be cool.

Overall, I found a number of the tips in the book to be of use to most Panther users. However, I would've preferred to see more illustrations to explain how these tips really work for me. Maybe even an instructional CD-ROM with Flash animations showing how to incorporate these tips in my daily Mac life. As always, I prefer learn by doing, and that's not what this is. At $29.99, it is certainly an affordable book to add to your Mac bookshelf but not as your first or only choice.

Now I think I'll head out to Vegas to some Chicago-themed Casino to watch two old geezers dance to old blues music while throwing paint around their bodies. Cool.

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Adam Bell is the Design Director, CEO, Videographer and sometimes janitor with [email protected] ( amazingly not getting plastered in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA.
Related Keywords:Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissel, Kirk McElhearn, Matt Neuberg, Take Control of Panther, Apple, OS X, Peachpit Press


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