Peachpit Press recently released the sixth edition of the Macintosh Bible (ISBN 0-201-88636-7), and this version continue's the book's ten-year tradition of providing a friendly guide to the Macintosh universe. Edited by Jeremy Judson along with a distinguished crew of Macintosh writers, the new edition adds a thoughtful chapter about setting up a Macintosh-based home office as well as a chapter about the Internet, including general pointers for how to get online, bare bones instructions for creating a Web page, and excellent suggestions for client applications to use as you venture online.
The fifth edition, which I reviewed in TidBITS-269, was a disappointment. The layout seemed dull, the text slightly fluffy, and the content decidedly lacking in Internet-related topics. The layout in this new version isn't much different in terms of elements and design decisions, but a few critical changes - primarily a new font and a new hot tip icon - add more visual excitement. More important, the text of the sixth edition no longer feels lightweight, and it has more personality. Additional personal touches include signatures at the end of each editors' biography, and occasional highlighted sections that showcase editors' answers to questions like, "What are your favorite games?" and "What makes a Mac a Mac?"
The Macintosh Bible continues to convey information with a slightly irreverent tone. For instance, the section about WordPerfect relates that, "WordPerfect is subtle techno-jazz to Microsoft Word's in-your-face baroque." Another section reads, "Let me be blunt. There's not a good grammar checker available anywhere yet."
The Macintosh Bible, as always, acts as an excellent general reference, and strikes me as particularly useful for three types of people:
Novice Macintosh users who aren't intimidated by thousand-page books.
Those who require specifications for older Macintosh hardware, or who desire a high degree of familiarity with which bits of Apple software could potentially end up in the System Folder (and what to do about them).
Macintosh enthusiasts who need a good overview of what to expect and seek out from different software and hardware categories, such as word processors, contact managers, input devices, and monitors.
I predict that the sixth edition of the Macintosh Bible will be another best seller, not just because of its reputation, but also because of its merit. The sixth edition lists for $29.95 U.S.
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