Mac OS X Panther Hands-on Training

by Garrick Chow with Lynda Weinman. 939 pp. plus CD-ROM. Press, 2004. $35.

Years of Macintosh consulting have taught me that people have different learning styles. One Mac user wants to hear a process described, another prefers to read about it, and a third may need to watch a video to make the information stick.

If you’re someone who likes to learn by doing, Mac OS X Panther Hands-On Training by Garrick Chow will be right up your alley. The book and CD set, part of Lynda Weinmann’s Hands-On Training (H.O.T.) series, gives beginner to intermediate Mac users the chance to jump in and experience OS X 10.3 first-hand (pun intended). The book guides readers through the Panther interface, the various facets of working online, the iLife applications and networking by completing numbered exercises. These exercises start with very basic tasks like using scroll bars and changing folder views, then move to more involved undertakings like editing and arranging iMovie clips and configuring a wireless connection.

Some of the exercises start with a process (like opening a series of browser windows in Safari) and then show a quicker or more efficient way of doing the same task - in this case, by opening new windows in tabs. Tabbed browsing can be a hard concept to grasp. Trying out the two approaches through a guided exercise is a terrific way learn first-hand why and when tabbed browsing makes sense.

The book’s grey-scale screen shots clearly label the relevant aspects of a particular exercise’s windows and dialog boxes. The CD adds printed instructions, exercise files - particularly for the iLife application chapters - and a dozen QuickTime movies showing Finder and application features. My one complaint is the sans serif typeface used for the book’s body text. It is distinctive looking but is hard to read, especially in larger doses. Aside from that quibble, it’s a fine choice for learning Panther. If you like to learn by doing, this book is a winner.

– Elsa Travisano
Copyright ©2004 by Elsa Travisano . This review appeared in the April 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.