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Entries in book review (12)


Book Review: Teach Yourself Visually: iPad 2

Writing a book about the iPad 2 can be a tricky task. After all, your audience might be someone brand new to computing, someone who's spent ten years in the Apple ecosystem already, or maybe a hacker looking to make the device do a thousand things Apple never intended.

With Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPad 2, author Lonzell Watson has created a book aimed at a tightly defined portion of that potential audience. While the full-color visual style is particularly useful to new users, extended sections on email setup, and explanations of different wireless connectivity options will appeal to the user who has a grasp on basic computer concepts, but also wants to use the iPad 2 to the fullest extent.

Unfortunately part of the problem of writing a book about a something in the technology world is some information becomes outdated: Chapter five is devoted to explaining how to sync your iPad 2 to the computer, while Chapter nine goes into detail on the soon-to-be-discontinued MobileMe.

Still by breaking most iPad 2 activities down to 3-5 steps with simple visual explanations, and tons of screenshots,  Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPad 2 is a great companion for the casual, but competent iPad owner.


Book Review: Super Mario

I'm bidding on a GameBoy on eBay right now, and it's all Jeff Ryan's fault. Jeff is the author of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America a fresh, fast look at the introduction of Nintendo from scrappy upstart (in the U.S., at least) to video game powerhouse thanks to everyone's favorite plumber, Mario.

The book is a hoot to read not only for Ryan's clever wordsmithery, but also for the sheer nostalgia that will come flooding back, just at the mention of the good old Mario/Sonic feud, as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes drama: including the story of how Mario's debut arcade game, Donkey Kong, was a quick re-theming of what had been planned as a Popeye game. Makes a lot of sense once you make the connection. While it can be a little confusing to keep track of the corporate drama at Nintendo and Nintendo of America in the early days, (an organizational chart would've been helpful) it hardly matters.

You know how the story ends, and it is more about discovering those little-known stories along the way, along with re-visiting your own youth, and the influence of Mario on gaming to this day. Ever wonder how on earth the Virtual Boy ever got produced? It'll make perfect sense once you read this book, as well as the secret philosophy- focus on games and be the device people use to play games, rather than a device that does everything- that led to great success with original GameBoy and the DS, but has led the company to serious threats today from the likes of Microsoft and Apple.

I know one stereotype of gamers is that they don't sit around and read books. This one is worth a gamer's time. Now that you're all reading, I have an auction to win.



Book Review: iPad for Seniors For Dummies

Granted the name is a bit awkward, but once you get past that, iPad for Seniors for Dummies, is a straightforward instruction manual for Apple's latest sensation. Author Nancy C. Muir has written her book in a concise fashion that assumes a bit of computer literacy on the part of the reader: If you're expecting a book that talks down to seniors, or ignores the reality that most of them (especially iPad purchasers) have at least used a computer, look elsewhere.

Smartly printed in large type, with the exception of a few sections like "recommended apps for seniors" this book could easily serve as anyone's iPad guide. It might not serve as the best guide for someone completely new (for example, one section talks about getting your iTunes music onto the iPad.) to electronics, but if your hip parent/grandparent knows their way around the Mac or Windows desktop, they should find this book to be a perfect match. Even the suggested apps include mainstream titles like Flickr, which would imply some web savviness as well.



Book review: My New iPad 2

It's been a long time since Apple included a comprehensive paper manual with their iDevices. And while this adds to the perception of the device as being easy to use, it can be hinderance, especially to those who don't follow the tech world as closely as you, frequent TDL reader.

For a comprehensive overview of the iPad 2, look no further than My New iPad 2 by Wallace Wang, published by No Starch Press. Despite his other career as a standup comedian, Wang takes a no-nonsense approach to highlighting the features of the iPad 2. While not everyone will benefit from seeing in writing how to change screen brightness, for example, the book takes the time to go over these little details. While the book is best suited for those with limited tech experience, you might still find a few helpful tips for yourself. For example, while I knew it was possible to turn off push mail, and hence save some battery life, I had completely forgotten about it until it was mentioned in this book.

Cleverly, the book has been published with the same dimensions (height and width, not thickness) as the iPad, which helps to make both feel more approachable. 

Given the amount of movement (pinch, stretch, gestures, etc.) used to accomplish different tasks on the iPad, any book can have challenges describing those moves in words that make sense. while I was never confused by the descriptions in the book, I did wonder a few times whether that was only because I was already familiar with what the author was trying to say.

At any rate, if you're getting an iPad 2 for someone as a gift, and they're not the most tech savvy of users, this book will go a long way to help them get the most out of their new iPad, and just might reduce the number of tech support calls you get from them later.



Book Review: Create Great iPhone iPhotos

Yes it's great that the iPhone gives you a decent still camera in your pocket. And sure, the seemingly endless array of photo apps makes the possibilities limitless. However, humans tend to do better at tasks that are littered with limitless possibilities. Allan Hoffman's book:Create Great iPhone Photos: Apps, Tips, Tricks, and Effects "Create Great iPhone iPhotos" brings the breadth of iPhone photo options down to a manageable scale.

The first chapter reads like the manual Apple would supply for the iPhone camera if Apple still made manuals. It is a sensible, thorough overview of the camera capabilities (and limits) of the iPhone camera and the Apple-supplied Camera app.

The bulk of the book goes on to serve as sort of a series of mini-manuals for some of the most popular iPhone photo apps. Unfortunately, a few of the apps are already gone from the store. Such is life lived at app speed. These chapters serve as a great way to discover app you may not have already been familiar with, and to eliminate some of the trial and error of purchasing photo apps only to be disappointed.

There's a highly enjoyable (and unfortunately, quite short) section of interviews with some of the most successful iPhone photographers.

The focus on apps really sets this books apart, and can bring you newfound joy to using your iPhone camera, whether you're just getting started, or consider yourself an old pro.