Washington Apple Pi

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Old Fart's Guideā„¢ to the Macintosh

Book Review by Stuart Bonwit

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Author Aaron Rosenzweig has produced a well written, well organized, and, most importantly, clear book on the use of the Macintosh. The book cover tells us (Fig. 1), this is "A book for those who recognize the word 'Computer' but do not know exactly what they do." The Preface starts, "This unique book caters to the person who has never used a computer...or can never get [one] to work right...or just feels that computers are the world's biggest mystery." One should not be fooled. While the book starts off expecting that the reader is as just described, it ends with subjects that are quite advanced.

This reviewer has found only one item to complain about: the lack of an index. A good Glossary with term definitions is provided but with no reference to page numbers. The Table of Contents is very comprehensive but, while most items could probably be found through its use, an index would make a search much easier.

The title of this book gave the reviewer some pause. Should "that" word appear in a review in the Washington Apple Pi Journal? A quick check with the powers-to-be assured me that it would be OK. Here's how the author explains it. "I was a strange boy for two reason: 1) I was obsessed with why computers work and 2) I was more likely to go to the movies with my classmates parents than I was to go with my classmates -- many nicknames [were] given to me, most of them good, but [one] stuck out... 'Old Fart.'"

Cover page

The physical layout of the pages is well designed. A typical page (Fig. 2) shows several features. Every page has a sidebar in which the chapter title is displayed in the lower corner with the page number. Notes highlighting the important points of a paragraph are printed adjacent to that paragraph. And images are included alongside the paragraphs describing them. Even though some people "think it is messy," the author encourages writing notes in the sidebars rather than in notebooks or on paper scraps that will get lost.

Chapter headings listed in the Table of Contents give some idea of the topic coverage:

What is a Computer?
What is an Operating System?
The Macintosh for You
The Importance of Passwords
Turning Your Mac On and Off
Understanding Your Mac's Desktop
What is the Internet? (the largest chapter with 63 pages)
Typing Letters and Organizing Info in AppleWorks (2 chapters)
How Do I Print?
Where Does Information Go?
Common Software Categories
Digit Hub (stills, movies, and music)
Macintosh User Groups
Computer Problems
Magic Key Combinations
Advanced Topics for the Curious (including UNIX, programming, graphics, book writing, and writing, playing, and recording music)
Useful Web Sites

The writing style is very easy and clear. There is no techno-babble and, when specific computer terms are introduced, they are clearly explained. The book is comprehensive and up-to-date. It shows the 17-inch iMac and gets into Mac OS X but doesn't mention Mac OS X 10.2.

The book is published by Trafford Publishing, Victoria BC Canada with a list price of $25.00 USD or $39.50 CAD plus $2.00 shipping and handling. It may be ordered from Cocoa Nuts or Trafford Publishing at


I would strongly recommend this book for any Mac beginner and I think any Mac user would benefit from it.

[Typical page from the book]

Typical page