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Take Control News/14-Nov-05

"Take Control of Digital TV" Released — Although many of us know a fair amount about Macintosh hardware, delving into the world of digital television is a humbling experience – it involves a baffling array of buzzwords and acronyms, and that’s before you get into deciding between direct view and projection TVs and trying to tease out the relevant differences between LCD, plasma, DLP, and CRT-based sets. If, like us, you’re considering purchasing a digital TV this holiday season, or if you already own a digital TV but worry that it might not be positioned or adjusted properly for optimal viewing, you can find friendly guidance in our latest ebook, "Take Control of Digital TV."

In this ebook, Seattle journalist and TV maven Clark Humphrey explains the jargon, compares all the different display technologies, and helps you find the right digital TV for your budget, living space, and media viewing habits. You’ll also learn how to position a large-screen TV for optimal viewing, arrange and connect external speakers, adjust the display for the best possible image quality, and add extras such as a digital video recorder or video game console. Clark rounds out his advice with suggestions of where to find digital programming, a hand-picked list of Web resources, and an extensive glossary you can use to decipher otherwise-impenetrable spec sheets.

Tonya and I are due to buy a new TV sometime soon – we’re still watching a 20-inch set that we bought when we got married in 1991. Armed with the knowledge we’ve picked up from reading this ebook, I’m sure we’ll be able to buy the right TV more quickly and for less money. Do note that this ebook covers digital TV from the North American perspective; standards and formats differ in other parts of the world.

You can read more about Clark’s ebook, download a free 23-page excerpt, and place an order at:

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Oodles of Suggestions Open for Voting — Frankly, I’m overwhelmed. I never expected our readers to suggest so many interesting topics for us to consider covering in Take Control ebooks, and the suggestions continue to roll in. We received so many, in fact, that I had to break up the main suggestions page so voters weren’t faced with a huge list all at once. My categories are intentionally imprecise – they’re designed merely to slice the initial list into four roughly equivalent chunks.

Now that we’re past the early rush, please come and vote on the titles you would buy today if they existed so we can make sure to work on the topics that garner the most interest. Don’t worry if you voted when the list was much smaller and can’t remember your votes; our system automatically ignores duplicates. That said, if there are titles you’d particularly like to see, feel free to lobby discussion groups and mailing lists to vote as well; as long as the votes are sincere, there’s nothing wrong with stuffing the ballot box.


A Slew of Reviews — Reviews of Take Control ebooks have been rolling in hot and heavy of late, so here’s a quick roundup. I apologize in advance if I’m tooting our own horn a bit here, but it’s so nice to see others understand what we’re trying to achieve with Take Control. Thanks for all the kind words, folks, and if anyone is interested in reviewing a Take Control ebook, let us know which book you’d like to review and for what site or publication.

My favorite review of late comes from Barry Campbell, posted on and enrevanche. I can’t help but feel kindly toward someone who describes me and Glenn as "two guys with enormous geek credibility," and compliments our writing with quotes like, "The book is a marvel of excellent technical writing for a general audience, and I say this as a technical writer of some 20 years experience".

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Barry isn’t alone in saying nice things, though, and Seth at MacMove published another morale-boosting article that does a wonderful job of articulating our goals with Take Control.

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Kudos to Steve Sande for the positive review his "Take Control of Your iPod: Beyond the Music" received from MacNN’s Ilene Hoffman, who calls it "an amazing buy." We were particularly happy to hear her comment that she’s not normally a fan of reading books on screen, "but this one was definitely painless and didn’t tire out my eyes." That’s what 14 point Georgia will do for you, and since it’s a PDF, you can increase the effective font size even more if you like.


Another good review – again of "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" – came from David Weeks of, who notes that if you use a Wi-Fi equipped laptop or run a Wi-Fi network at home, "you absolutely need to read this book," and if you run a business Wi-Fi network, "you absolutely POSITIVELY need to read this book." (He used the caps, not us.) We also appreciated comments like "the TidBITS folks have evolved a near-perfect format for their publications… the user interface adheres to Take Control guidelines, the layout is always logical, and you can navigate easily from section to section."


Back in September, David published an even-more-glowing review of Kirk McElhearn’s "Take Control of Customizing Microsoft Office," which he rated a 5 out of 5. Accurately calling it a "tightly focused explanation of one of Microsoft Office’s most powerful, yet most obscure features: how to customize your work environment," David goes on to say that Kirk’s ebook is "the best coverage I’ve seen on this narrow subject, period." He also appreciates how we released a 1.0.1 update within 10 days of initial publication – free updates are a boon for everyone, since we all benefit from ebooks having the most accurate information.


Last, but by no means least, Mark Sealey included our "Take Control of Tiger" collection and "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups" in his "Tiger By the Book: A Mac OS X Book Review" for Think Secret. About Joe Kissell’s "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups" (which has a significant update coming soon, by the way), Mark writes, "This is an inexpensive, attractive, and exhaustive resource, kept up-to-date by virtue of its electronic format and made accessible to everyone. And everyone should buy it and act on it, unless their data is entirely dispensable. Highly recommended." We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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