Review: Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible
Published by: IDG Books Worldwide
Price: $39.99 (MSRP)
Macintosh computer system (to use included utilities)
Human Brain, ability to read English
Recommended: ability to understand English
A lot of people think it’s easy to be a reviewer. For software, that’s generally so—it either works, or it doesn’t. Anything beyond that is usually dependent on how the software compares to other packages in its class.
Reviewing a book can often be a bit harder. Especially when it’s a book of such magnitude as the Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible, by Todd Stauffer. This isn’t exactly the kind of book you plop down in your easy chair with on the weekend, and find yourself halfway finished with come Monday morning.
No, this tome weighs in at a whopping 900+ pages, and covers just about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about upgrading or repairing your Macintosh, but were afraid to ask.
So who is this book for? The Macintosh consultant or technician who makes his living working on Macs? Or the hobbyist who just enjoys tinkering around, fixing up an older Mac here and there? Or the creative user, such as a writer or graphic artist, who relies on his Mac being in tip-top shape to put food on the table? Actually, as Stauffer states in his preface, it’s for all of these folks, and more.
Stauffer’s writing style is such that any Mac user can pick up this book and read it, follow the instructions, and upgrade or troubleshoot their Macintosh. Todd Stauffer’s done this before—he wrote the Small Business Office 97 for Dummies book, contributed to The Mac Report, NetProfessional, and Inside Line, and is the Mac columnist for Peak Computing. And this shows in the Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible. If you want to upgrade the RAM in your Power Mac 9500, undoubtedly one of the toughest Macs to do this in, this book will ease the pain of installation. If you want to learn about USB devices and how they work on your new iMac, this book will walk you through the techy stuff and help you figure out what will work best for you.
This isn’t a book that should be read cover to cover. The 900+ pages notwithstanding, there is simply no reason one needs to read it all the way through, unless one were just inclined to do so. This is a book that is meant to answer your questions as they arise—when one needs to add that RAM to that Power Mac 9500, or upgrade your PowerBook 1400, or to get Ethernet into an SE/30.
Though a lot has changed in recent months since this edition’s publication, the information is still up-to-date, as the author covers such topics as the G3 machines, DSL in its various flavors, FireWire (which is timely since the new blue-and-white G3s are shipping with FireWire onboard), and even cable modems.
The Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible is divided into four sections: Part 1—Getting Ready to Upgrade; Part 2—Performing the Upgrade; Part 3—Troubleshoot and Repair; and Part 4—Tweak and Recover the Mac OS.
So how to put ol’ Todd Stauffer to the test? Well, the best way is to pretend we have a system we want to do x to, and see what the Bible has to say.
I want to max out the RAM in my PowerBook 1400c/117, in addition to installing a Newer Tech G3 upgrade. So the first thing I want to do is go to the PowerBook upgrade section of the Bible, and locate the 1400. A quick trip to the P section of the Index, and I’m off to page 522 upgrading the 1400. Step-by-step instructions on getting to the 1400's innards are easy to follow. Granted, the PowerBook 1400 is likely the easiest PowerBook Apple ever made to repair or upgrade, but it is covered in detail.
So let’s try upgrading our iMac. Here is an area where the Bible falls short. The iMac only gets a few mentions, with no help whatsoever on upgrading RAM or adding peripherals beyond the mention that the iMac utilizes USB. I cannot fault the author on this point, as this is the downside of paper publishing: while I for one love a good book, one such as this becomes quickly outdated. You can be sure the iMac will be tour-de-force in the next edition.
So the Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible isn’t perfect. But then again, no paper-based Macintosh resource is going to be, as this industry changes faster than books can come off the press. However, they often make excellent starter research materials. You can build a solid foundation of knowledge, and where the book leaves off, continue your search on the Web or elsewhere.
As someone who makes his living working on Macintosh systems of all kinds daily, the Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible has earned a permanent spot on my shelf. If you get your hands inside a Mac’s guts, you need this book. Easy to read, easy to find what you need, and thorough in its amount of information, at least as much as paper publishing will allow, the Mac Upgrade & Repair Bible tops my list of Macintosh hardware books.