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Mac OS X The Missing Manual Second Edition David Pogue
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
725 pages
£ 20.95
Published: 18th October 2002
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the December 2002 issue (pdf), (html)

I reviewed some others in the ``Missing Manual'' series last issue and the comments I made there apply equally to this volume. It is well produced, well written and bulging with information on everything you can think of to do with OS X 10.2, but who is the intended audience? OS X seems to me to be perfectly easy to use, straight out the box, especially if you don't want to do any UNIX type things, and if you do want to do that then, mostly, it's just the same as any other UNIX system. Yes, there are a couple of subtle differences, but I bet that most people never come across them. I have so far not really found anything that I have a burning desire to do that I cannot work out drawing on commonsense and previous experience with Mac systems (OK, add in 30 years of working with computers too).

So who buys these books? I suspect that semi-mythical beast the Power User -- the sort of person who has to configure everything that can be configured, must always have the shortest shortcuts and enables every possible option. Me, I like the quiet life with as few options as possible, the scenic route to the commands, though I do configure things, but then usually for the sake of gaining simplicity.

I will use a book like this, because once in a while something comes up and I need to find out how to do something odd, and if I have it to hand I'll look to see if there is any advice. Of course, by that time, there will probably be three new releases of the system and who knows then how fresh the information in the book is? So I'll look at the book and go off to the net to see what I can find there as well. But will I use it enough to warrant buying it? Even though it is relatively inexpensive, I just don't think I would get my money's worth from it. I also don't think that this is (to quote the cover) ``the book that should have been in the box'' - for a start it would have made the box much too big, heavy and inelegant. If the Internet didn't exist then this whole series would be an excellent idea, but the Internet does exist so they are close to being a waste of paper.

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