Thursday, May 18, 2006

Book Review: iPod & iTunes -- The Missing Manual, 4th ed

I’ve got an “old fashioned” 4th generation iPod with no video.  Poor me, I can only fit 10,000 or 15,000 songs on my rig and can’t watch movie clips.  Still, I manage to suffer through.

J.D. Biersdorfer’s iPod & iTunes -- The Missing Manual, 4th ed is a great companion for my iPod, even though a fair chunk of the book is geared to folks with the newer gadgets.  There is a good overview section on the different hardware models (the Shuffle gets its own chapter) to get you familiar with the players themselves, plus there’s a great discussion of the different audio formats.  I found that particularly useful since I wasn’t clear on impacts of moving away from iTunes’ native AAC format. 

Who It's For

Beginners and intermediate users will find plenty of good stuff in this book.  The basics are clear and concise, so you’ll quickly learn how to set up and manage your iPod and your iTunes library.  You’ll learn the ins and outs of connecting your iPod to everything from your home stereo to the AirPort Express home broadcasting system.

Who It's Not For

Folks who already know how to rip apart their iPods and replace the batteries.  Folks who already use AppleScripting to customize their iPod’s update process or control home lighting.

Good Stuff

The chapter on iTunes is pretty extensive and covers all the functionality from importing CDs to working wth playlists and the Music Store.  There’s a nice chapter on using the iPod as an external drive, a nice trick if you’re looking for an extra place to back up that presentation you’re travelling somewhere distant to make.  I also liked the chapter on Hacks and Cool Tools with its good list of extra software you can find to help you do things like better manage your library and iPod, change the volume of your iPod due to idiotic government mandated volume controls for European devices (sorry, libertarian rant there), or creating your own podcasts.

I’m particularly happy to read all the various websites with resources for iPods.  It’s handy to know where to look for information about battery issues, or find online communities of iPod users.

Bad Stuff

It would have been nice if the author covered the JHymn package which lets you back up your purchased music, but I can understand the hesitancy due to legality questions — but it’s my music that I bought and paid for, damnit!

The author might also have given a quick nod to covering running presentations from your iPod, but that’s a serious edge case.

Bottom Line

This really is a nice book if you’re at all interested in doing more with your iPod.

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