Ignore the call of the soldering irons

Mac Manual
February 6, 2004

Haynes Publishing is best known for producing detailed and well-illustrated car manuals. Now they have brought this expertise to the world of Apple Macintosh computers with the Mac Manual , subtitled The Step-by-Step Guide to Upgrading, Repairing and Maintaining a Mac .

Apple computers, known internationally as Macs, come in a wide range of models, first introduced in 1984. The latest is the G5 but, apart from an uncaptioned picture towards the end of the book, it does not feature at all. Keith Martin, the author and MacUser magazine's technical editor, has been writing reviews of Macintosh hardware and software for years - and it shows in the clear text and superb illustrations throughout.

He has been using Macs since 1984 and has a background in everything from graphic design and print to multimedia.

Wisely, Martin states in his introduction that "a computer is for using, not an investment". He also makes the point that Macs will usually last for years, long after they have been outdated by later models. Although this means that you do not have to discard your Mac each time a new model appears on the market, it is sometimes a good idea to upgrade, and this is where the Mac Manual comes into its own. Every possible type of upgrade is dealt with - from hardware components such as screens, hard disks and Ram (Random Access Memory) to peripherals and system software.

Martin says that "this book is for normal people trying to get more out of their computers". I would be a little more circumspect, stressing that only those with experience should be encouraged to delve into the hardware - mistakes can be expensive. Fortunately, he does make it clear that one should never take a soldering iron to a Mac.

Although Macs have been around for 20 years, this book covers only those made from about 1997, starting with the Beige G3s and finishing with the iMac flat-screen G4s and the various G4 desktop models. Attention to detail is the keynote of the Mac Manual and if you follow the instructions carefully, you will never go wrong. And this dictum applies to the sections on software as well. Martin's overview of software repairs is extremely good, but I would recommend the use of three different software test disks as opposed to the two he proposes.

Among the many sections that go beyond what one would expect from a book about Mac upgrading and repairs, there is one titled "Software explained".

Covering all the main categories from business to web browsing, via music, graphics and so on, Martin thoughtfully provides website addresses for most of the major companies in the software business worldwide. Without question, the Mac Manual should be on every Mac user's bookshelf.

Frank J. Pycroft is sole proprietor, FCD, which services Apple Mac computers.

Mac Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide to Upgrading, Repairing and Maintaining a Mac

Author - Keith Martin
Publisher - Haynes
Pages - 192
Price - £19.99
ISBN - 1 85960 889 2

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