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iPad 2: The Missing Manual -’Book Mystique Review

iPad 2: The Missing Manual -’Book Mystique Review

David Pogue/O’Reilly’s “The Missing Manuals” series are my all-time favorite computer books, and I’ve been reviewing them since the very first volume on the series,”Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual” back in 2000. The TMM lineup has expanded over the past 11 years to include a vast array of titles covering many subjects, but my favorites remain the books covering various Apple products, especially the Mac OS and the iDevices.

The subject of this latest TMM review, iPad 2: The Missing Manual marks a milestone, as it’s the first TMM for which the review edition I received from O’Reilly is in electronic, rather than hard copy format. Rather appropriate to the subject, n’est ce pas?

Electronic (in this instance PDF, although Mobi and ePub versions are available) or ink on paper, it’s still as great a concept as it was back in 2000.

Crummy, inadequate user manuals with IT hardware and software have been a longstanding bête noire of mine, especially considering how much this stuff usually costs. In the good ol’ days — that is, the early ’90s, when you bought a new piece of software you could depend upon getting a real, printed, bound, user manual — often several manuals. I remember unpacking my brand new copy of Microsoft Word 5.1, along with its seven or eight bundled print manuals, including a 1,000 plus page main tome that soon became dog-eared with use.

I also fondly remember the library of great manuals that came with my old Mac Plus, including an excellent one for the bundled HyperCard application and another for the operating system. By comparison, what you usually get these days is a pathetic little pamphlet or quick start guide, containing mostly pictures for the literacy-challenged.Instead we’re expected to use various Web-based or internal Help systems like Balloon Help, Apple Guide, and Mac Help), which I find far less helpful than a real book.

Developers now expect you to be able to learn complex software using online help screens. You can’t underline it, or bookmark it. Often it’s difficult follow the instructions because the Help window covers up the software you’re trying to use.

“The missing manual idea wasn’t actually mine,” Pogue commented when he launched the Missing Manuals series. “It came from a guy on a trade-show bus. Something about me must have screamed ‘Free therapy’ because the guy started to vent. He was furious that most software companies had stopped producing printed manuals. (Or, as he put it ‘Like they can’t afford another 50 cents a box?’).”

“Instead,” Pogue continued, they — Netscape, Intuit, Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, everyone — expect you to learn complex software using online help screens. You can’t underline it, bookmark it, or read it in the bathroom. You couldn’t follow the steps even if you wanted to because its own window covers up the software you’re trying to use. And worst of all, online help is usually terribly written.”

Then there’s the seemingly obvious point that the reason you need a manual may well be that you’re experiencing an issue that prevents you accessing online resources.

Less serious but still annoying, online help inhibits “serendipity”– the “things I discovered while looking up something else” dynamic. I enjoy settling down in a comfy chair with a cup of green tea to browse computer or software manuals even if I’m not at the time looking for help with something specific. I never do this online Help, which I avoid unless I really need it. There’s nothing like being able to sit down with a real printed BOOK and either sleuth out a particular problem, or just browse.

Back on the bus with David Pogue in 1990, the epiphany hit him that while everyone complains about the disappearance of software manuals (or at least they did back then), nobody does anything about it! “By gum, I wasn’t going to waste my life hunting through online help,” he vowed. “I would create — the Missing Manual series.”

Hard copy ink-on-paper remains my preferred medium for reading user manuals, but stuff has happened over the intervening 11 years, not least the arrival of the iPad and major improvements in e-reader formats. Nowadays, electronic editions do have their virtues as well, especially if you have software that allows you to annotate PDF files, such as the AnyBizSoft PDF Editor for Mac I reviewed here a few weeks ago. It also helps that many of us now have more than one machine we can read an electronic edition on on. Whichever format, the TMM series still really are “the books that should have been in the box.” That is if you still get a box, with the trend toward electronic delivery of software.

iPad 2:The Missing Manual is an especially important addition to the series for the many users who are coming to the iPad directly from the Mac or Windows, without first having cut their iOS teeth on an iPhone or iPod touch, and find themselves in touchscreen terra incognita.

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/1116 Author J.D. Biersdorfer is an old hand at writing Missing Manuals, and is responsible for Best iPad Apps and iPad: The Missing Manual (First Edition), as well as co-writing iPod: The Missing Manual and iPhoto: The Missing Manual, and is the author of Netbooks: The Missing Manual, Google: The Missing Manual, and The iPod Shuffle Fan Book. She has also authored a weekly technology column for the The New York Times since 1998, all of which equips her well to write the iPad 2 Missing Manual edition (which also covers the original iPad).

“The original iPad was great, but the iPad 2 is even better. All that thinner, lighter, faster stuff Apple was touting is true, and I’m finding even more apps that let me get stuff done during the day–and leave the laptop at home,” writes Biersdorfer. “I can do word-processing, edit photos, stitch together a quick Web movie, read a book and catch up with the latest episode of ’30 Rock,’ all on the same lightweight device.”

And, adds Biersdorfer: “I love using FaceTime on the iPad 2. All you do is prop up the tablet, tap a contact name to make a call, and sit back to chat. It’s sort of like having a live picture frame with two-way communication.”

Readers familiar with the Missing Manuals format will find themselves right at home in either the print or electronic editions, which retain the green and black cover theme and the standard internal formatting. Typical of Missing Manuals, this book will be a valuable resource for iPad newbies and veterans ( if one can say veteran with a straight face for a product that’s been out barely more than a year), or perhaps better put — for both tech naive and tech savvy iPad users, although the latter will probably want to skip or skim lightly the first three or four chapters which mostly address the basics of operation.

One major advantage of using the electronic edition is that references to websites that offer additional resources scattered throughout the book are clickable, as is the book’s Missing CD page at:

http://missingmanuals.com/cds/ipad2mm/

The Missing CD page also offers corrections and updates to the book that you can bring up by, clicking the View Errata link. Readers are invited to submit corrections and updates by clicking “Submit your own errata” on the same page.

As typical with TMM books,there are lots of screenshot illustrations amplifying the textual instructions, and boxes containing Notes and Tips focusing on particular points and short topics.

The book’s first two chapters cover getting to know and setting up your iPad, from the very basic stuff for complete newbies through using on-screen gestures, keyboard shortcuts, Cut/Copy/Paste (different from on a Mac), Spotlight searches, connecting external keyboards, and printing from the iPad.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to getting online, including a discussion of the relative merits of going WiFi or opting for 3G capability, online security issues, using mobile hotspots,and AT&T vs. Verizon. Once you;reports: on the Net, Chapter 4 explains the finer points of surfing with an iPad (there are many, and again, it’s different from using a Mac or PC).

By Chapters 5 and 6 (of 16, plus two appendices), we get into meatier fare. Chapter 5 zooms in on using the iPad’s Mail email Program, while Chapter 6 is on using the Calendar app., iPad Notes, making video calls with FaceTime, taking pictures with PhotoBooth, navigating with Maps and GPS, viewing photos, watching videos, using the iPad as an iPod, while Chapter 7 brings you up to speed on using the iTunes App Store, and Chapter 8 is on using your ipad as an e-reader device, the iBooks app., shopping for reading material at the iBookstore, finding free iBooks, using the Dictionary and creating bookmarks and margin notes, newspaper and magazine apps. If you’re a gaming fan, you’ll want to check out Chapter 9, which covers playing games on the iPad.

Chapter 10 gets serious again to focus on using the iWork suite of productivity apps. and tools on the iPad, and Chapter 11 is about organizing and syncing content with iTunes, while Chapter 12 discusses more advanced iTunes topics, and Chapter 13 covers playing music and audio books and making music with GarageBand. Chapter 14 takes you into the world of iPad video watching and editing — Chapter 15 likewise for still images, and Chapter 16 is a short tutorial on using Apple’s MobileMe service.

There are two appendices: iPad Settings, and iPad Troubleshooting, and an Index.

In summary, if you have an iPad, iPad 2: The Missing Manual contains a wealth of important stuff you need to know that you won’t find in Apple’s quickstart guide, such as:

- Undocumented tips and tricks — the lowdown on cool iPad secrets
- Info. on how to build and play your media library, and up your iPad with music, movies, TV shows, eBooks, photos, music videos, audiobooks, and podcasts
- How to get online, connecting through Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+3G — on both GSM and CDMA networks
- Tips on state-of-the-art e-reading; buying and reading books and magazines in full color
- How to consolidate your email accounts., and to read email from your personal and work accounts
- How to shop iTunes and the App Store, navigate Apple’s media emporiums, and learn how to get free music, video, books, and apps

As an iPad user, you want this book. I recommend it without reservation.

For more information about the book, including table of contents, author bios, and cover graphic, see:
http://bit.ly/hgZwQD

iPad 2: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
By J.D. Biersdorfer
Print ISBN: 9781449301736
Pages: 336
Print Price: $24.99
Ebook Price: $19.99
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000

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