iPod: The Missing Manual
Posted: 30-Dec-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: O'Reilly


Reviewer: Sharon Garrison $24.95

iPod: The Missing Manual

J.D. Biersdorfer, Edited by David Pogue
1st Edition July 2003
331 pages, $24.95 US

What the Book is About
iPod, The Missing Manual (First Edition) is a very comprehensive book describing how the iPod works, the great things it can do, and where to find its secret features.

Target Audience
One of the best parts about this book is that it is designed to accommodate readers at all technical levels. Most discussions are written for advanced-beginners or intermediate Mac and Windows users. There are ìPower Usersí Clinicî sidebars, which are shown in a darkened area, scattered throughout the book.

What to Expect from the Book
The book is a ìone-stop shopî iPod reference and information for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms for all iPod models. The book guides you through all the cool musical and nonmusical things you can do with your iPod, as well as offering tips, tricks and help on troubleshooting the iPod. This Missing Manual book is for people who like to know everything that Apple thinks you don't need to know and is a great replacement for the skimpy official pamphlet. There are numerous pictures and screenshots for both the Macintosh (iTunes) and Windows (MusicMatch) users. The book is very complete, except that was written prior to release of iTunes for Windows in October 2003. The next edition of the book should cover iTunes for Windows. The four sections of the book are:
  • Part One - iPod: The Hardware
  • Part Two - iPod: The Software
  • Part Three - Beyond the Music
  • Part Four - Extreme iPodding

There are also appendixes describing both iTunes and MusicMatch Jukebox Plus, on a menu-by-menu basis.

Part One - iPod: The Hardware starts in Chapter One by familiarizing the reader with the hardware which includes pictures primarily of the 2003 iPod model but there are pictures of the 2001 and 2002 models. Chapter Two, the last part of this section, takes the reader through their first synchronization and covers both platforms.

Part Two ñ iPod: The Software begins with detailed information on Digital Audio formats (MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF), and bit rates. The author in this section includes a sidebar note on ìThe Law of the Digital Music Landî which is an easily understood one-page legal summary. The fourth chapter in the book covers iTunes for the Macintosh and mainly focuses on iTunes 4, which only works with Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later; there is information on earlier versions of iTunes. The Fifth Chapter is strictly for Windows users and covers MusicMatch Jukebox (only software available prior to iTunes for Windows release) which a later version of the book will cover. The last chapter in this section, Chapter Six, is focused on iTunes Music Store.

Part Three ñ Beyond the Music includes chapters on using the iPodís Address Book, Calendar, Games and eBooks, iSync (Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10). The information is well detailed by the author with screenshots, although PDA owners would probably skip all but the iSync chapter. The last chapter in this section, Chapter 11, iPod as Hard Drive, details for both platforms how to use the iPod for data storage. The chapter also contains information on how Macintosh users can use the iPod as a Startup Disk.

Part Four ñ Extreme iPodding contains five chapters and most readers will not want to miss Chapter 15, Troubleshooting the iPod. Other items covered in this section include: Connecting to Other Audio Systems, Hot Hacks and Cool Tools, iStuff for iPod, and iPod on the Web.

For those fairly new to the iPod, the book is very comprehensive and those already familiar with the iPod will be glad to know that it makes an excellent reference book. I originally bought the book so that I could more effectively use my iPod. However, part way through reading the book, Chapter 15: Troubleshooting, became extremely important as my iPod started freezing and skipping songs. Initially I used the pamphlet that came with my 2003 iPod but the pathetically few pages on Tips and Troubleshooting were useless. Checking the iPod Userís Guide which is included on the iPod CD did not cover the problem, nor was the information easily found on Appleís iPod support website (www.apple.com/support/ipod). The book saved the day with detailed information on how to run iPod diagnostic tests and using the built-in disk-fixing program.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
A "Must Have" for anyone owning an iPod!