A welcome pair of
missing manuals to help users exploit Vista and Leopard operating
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
March 25-31, 2008; issue 961
High Tech Office column
Slowly but surely, both
Microsoft and Apple are moving their user bases over to the new
operating systems each company released in 2007: Windows Vista and Mac
OS X 10.5 Leopard, respectively. Neither comes with much in the way of
printed documentation. (Remember software manuals?) That creates an
opportunity for authors and publishers of third-party volumes.
title of David Karp’s Windows Vista Annoyances (O’Reilly, $35)
shouldn’t be taken as a comment about many users’ opinion of Vista.
Karp, in fact, has run a popular Windows Annoyances website
(www.annoyances.org) for over a decade. His self-described mandate: “Do
we continue to suffer with Windows’ shortcomings or take matters into
our own hands?”
The resulting book, he suggests, “is not
documentation; you can get that anywhere.” Instead, it’s “a collection
of solutions, hacks and time-saving tips to help you get the most from
your PC.” Karp believes that users can learn to make their computers
work for them rather than twisting themselves to adjust to their
That can take some doing, though. Karp wisely
assumes his readers might not have much background in fiddling with
their computers and provides thorough explanations. Many of the
solutions he proposes are somewhat complex, and despite Karp’s care,
may overwhelm many readers. Karp’s job is complicated by the various
Windows Vista editions.
Fix-it tools included with Vista’s
Business or Ultimate editions may not be included in other versions,
and I suspect Vista users may not be clear which version they’re
running. Karp tries to keep readers informed, but it’s an uphill battle.
chapters on performance, security, and networking will make this book
worthwhile for many. The author’s advice on customizing Vista’s UAC
security nags to reduce nagging while maintaining security may be worth
$35 for many Vista users.
While Vista Annoyances was released
prior to Microsoft’s Vista Service Pack 1 (due any time now), that
release shouldn’t invalidate Karp’s content.
It remains a worthwhile volume for anyone willing to spend the time and
effort to tame an annoying Vista system.
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has generally received a warmer welcome from
users than Vista, but even with Apple’s focus on user friendliness,
Leopard is also filled with features that can benefit from explanation
and, in some cases, a bit of a tweak. That provides the raison d’Ítre
for David Pogue’s Mac OS X Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual (Pogue
As with other Pogue Missing Manuals, it
tries to appeal to a broad range of users, from new-to-Mac switchers to
Mac lifers, and does so with style and wit. New to the series is a set
of power users guides serving up more advanced information ranging from
keyboard shortcuts to tips on making use of Leopard’s underlying Unix
framework. If your eyes glaze over when he mentions these, it’s easy to
skip those sections.
Pogue includes tips for some of Leopard’s
useful but under-used features such as the Spotlight search tool or
Automator macro-creator, building upon practical examples. The tip on
enabling the secret right mouse-button on Apple’s mouse will surprise
and please many.
Despite having nearly 900 pages, Pogue had to
leave some information out. The book references a downloadable chapter
on Apple’s iLife ’08 applications, which is not formally part of
Leopard. I found that invaluable in trying to find my way around
Apple’s presumably “easier than ever” new version of iMovie.
Any Windows user new to Macs and many Mac users new to Leopard will get
their money’s worth with Pogue’s Missing Manual.
Speaking of getting one’s money’s worth: both of these volumes list
identical U.S. and Canadian prices. •