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5.0 out of 5 stars Unix and Mac Hacker's Paradise
I'm a Unix guy from way back, having worked on TENEX and TOPS-10 systems in the late 70s, on SunOS and Solaris during the 80s and 90s, and having been introduced to Linux in the early 90s. I've worked on Windows PCs mainly for office work (but never on Macs), and when Mac OS X came out, I was in computer geek heaven. I bought a PowerBook G4 with Microsoft Office X, and...
Published on Feb. 5 2004 by Jeffrey V. Cook

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good book for ambitious neophytes, but...
This is a good book for people who are curious about what MacOS X and it's BSD unpinnings can do, but it is of little use to anyone who's already comfortable with the MacOS X Unix underbelly.
While the editing is better than average for an ORA book, organization is lacking- the level of subject complexity varies wildly from chapter to chapter, indexing is poor, and...
Published on June 18 2003 by I am the Torus


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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book albeit already dated, Feb. 9 2004
By 
Matthew Leingang (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
I am coming back to Mac after 8 years of unix and linux, so it's cool to have a book like this. It has a lot of good tips about using the Macintosh applications (iPhoto, iMovie, Mail) as well as ways to integrate them with the unix stuff (cron, apache, mysql,...). I also loved the information about dynamic domain name service for your broadband connection. I devoured the book in a weekend.
One caveat: the book covers OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) and we're up to 10.3 (Panther). Some of the iApps have changed since the writing. Interestingly enough, some "hacks" are now easy-to-use features. There are a few notes about this fact, but it would be nice to have a new edition for a new OS.
All in all, though, it's a book that makes me feel smart for buying a Mac, and helps me to realize its full potential.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unix and Mac Hacker's Paradise, Feb. 5 2004
By 
Jeffrey V. Cook (Venice, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
I'm a Unix guy from way back, having worked on TENEX and TOPS-10 systems in the late 70s, on SunOS and Solaris during the 80s and 90s, and having been introduced to Linux in the early 90s. I've worked on Windows PCs mainly for office work (but never on Macs), and when Mac OS X came out, I was in computer geek heaven. I bought a PowerBook G4 with Microsoft Office X, and then I had a laptop with Office, Unix, the command line, and the beautiful Mac look-and-feel and the stunning display. I thought I probably knew quite a bit about Unix and the Mac already, given my background, and I didn't really anticipate how much a book on OS X hacks would have to offer.
"Mac OS X Hacks" proved to be a great buy for me! The book has 100 hacks spread across 9 chapters, one for each major area of interest to the authors (Files, Startup, Multimedia, etc.), and almost every chapter contained a hack that was valuable to me. I skimmed the entire book and marked out many hacks for later study, some of which I intend to implement and/or play with immediately. The hacks in which I have initial interest include #8) ejecting jammed CDs, #13) getting a glimpse of the boot process, #21) built-in image conversion, #22) multiple library management for iPhoto, #23) making your own documentary, #24) how the iApps work together, #41) capturing screenshots, #45) speakable Web Services, #58) installing Unix applications with Fink, #59) mirroring files and directories with rsync (for backup), #77) using a cell phone as a Bluetooth modem, #78) using dynamic DNS services to set up an externally-accessible web server at home, #79) working with the Entourage (Outlook for Mac) database, and #88) using the built-in Apache server on the Mac.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in hacking OS X on their Mac. This book should have exciting new information for all but the most experienced hackers of Mac and OS X.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for hobbyists, Nov. 24 2003
By 
Takaaki Furukawa "Science&ConScience" (Fukuoka, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
Nowadays it's harder and harder to find Mac books /mag articles that serious
hobbyists can really enjoy... but this is absolutely one!
"Mac OS X Hacks" is not like other disappointing "tips" books which only tell
you what you already know or can easily find out yourself.
Full of nice surprises; highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for becoming a power user, July 13 2003
By 
Mark Balbes (St. Louis, MO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
I just finished going through O'Reilly's Mac OS X Hacks. This is a great book. It shows you in detail how to become a power user on the Mac. More important, it has clear, detailed instructions (with lots of screen shots) of how to set up software including networking, DNS, IMAP and POP servers, Bluetooth through iSync, and a whole lot more. There's even a section on how to setup Linux on the Mac hardware.
I stayed up last night reading it. Originally, I just wanted to figure out more about Mac Mail but I ended up reading through the whole book thinking, "Wow, I have to try that".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good book for ambitious neophytes, but..., June 18 2003
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
This is a good book for people who are curious about what MacOS X and it's BSD unpinnings can do, but it is of little use to anyone who's already comfortable with the MacOS X Unix underbelly.
While the editing is better than average for an ORA book, organization is lacking- the level of subject complexity varies wildly from chapter to chapter, indexing is poor, and the choice of topics is best described as eclectic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!, June 15 2003
By 
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
This book is a very interesting read. For folks that like their solutions quick and clean this the book for you. The book is designed to be used by reading "chunks" to accomplish your desired hack, in the vein of "How to" articles popularized by the now defunct MacUser magazine. Dornfest and Hemenway put together a slick, easy to read guide with some very useful tips and tricks for Mac OS X. The authors have impressive credentials in the Mac community and several equally qualified professionals are credited with contributions to the tome.
The book is divided into nine chapters, each with about 10 tips. The subjects include Files, Startup, Multimedia and iApps, The User Interface, UNIX and the Terminal, Networking, Email, The Web, and Databases. Each tip is one to three pages long and well laid out in easy to follow step-wise instructions. A simple "thermometer" icon is given with each tip to alert the user to the level of difficulty. Additionally, throughout the book the authors alert users to areas where they should be careful. Being new to the Unix environment, I found the tips on use of the Terminal application and several utilities that are unique to Unix to be a valuable introduction for me. After the thorough introduction to the Terminal application, Dornfest and Hemenway proceed to build on the basics by demonstrating the usefulness of the application with more advanced commands such as chmod and sudo.
Tricks covered include: Stubborn trash, stuck images and Jammed CDs; Turning your Mac into a Hard Drive; Hijacking Audio from Mac Apps; Top Screenshots Tips; Interacting with the UNIX Shell from AppleScript; Sharing an Internet Connection; Creating Mail Aliases; and Serving up a Website with the Built-in Apache Server. Each chapter includes tips and tricks for beginners and advanced users alike. Several of the hacks make reference to other areas covered in the book, but each tip is useful on its own.
Several of the tips are hacks to the system using the Terminal application and serve to show the user the underpinnings of the OS. All in all, a fascinating look at OS X from two masters of the realm.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of tips and tricks, June 10 2003
By 
A Williams "honestpuck" (Neutral Bay, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
'Mac OS X Hacks' is a good grab bag of tips and techniques for getting the most from your Mac. While the tips are not as universally appealing (even among Mac owners) as those in 'Google Hacks' most people will find some value in the selection; some may find it a little thin.
The book is split into 9 chapters; 'Files', 'Startup", 'Multimedia and the iApps', 'The User Interface', 'Unix and the Terminal', 'Networking', 'Email', 'The Web' and 'Databases'.
For my money the last chapter is a complete waste of space since it only covers installing MySQL and PostgresSQL, and if you can't figure out how to install them from the documentation then you shouldn't use them. A number of the other tips would come close to that level, I feel their only use may be to encourage people who would otherwise stay away to make some use of the terminal and similar tools.
When I first started reviewing the book I would have complained about a large number of the tips being too application specific, too general or too low in skill level. Since then I've had a friend who wanted to edit a movie and we both found the chapter on iApps useful, one with a brand new Bluetooth phone who liked the couple of tips on Bluetooth and another who found the cross platform Windows-Mac stuff useful. So I have to say that while some of the tips might seem useless now you may come to appreciate them later.
Overall the book is well written, well laid out and well cross-referenced and covers a wide range of information.
My one major beef is still that there are too many 'tips' that are well covered by other material. Since you shouldn't really get this book until you are at least Mac proficient and probably own a basic Mac book or two then perhaps a tenth of the hundred tips will be covered in most Mac books and perhaps another five to ten you will have discovered on your own.
Reading over my notes I feel split between raving about how good the book is - well written with a bunch of useful tips and tricks for any Mac user - and complaining about the useless nature of some of the tips. So I am left saying that if the book falls into your definition of 'inexpensive' then grab a copy. If the price is 'expensive' then just make sure a friend owns a copy and borrow theirs every so often.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, June 10 2003
By 
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
I guess I made the mistake of not reading the table of contents before buying. I just got my copy and started looking for performance tips and hacks. Can't find any. In fact, there aren't many "hacks" at all. Mostly tips and instructions on how to do stuff. For example, running 'dmesg' from the terminal doesn't seem to me to be a hack.
Mac OS X has a bsd subsystem and a unix-like kernel. Certainly, there are things one can do to optimize these, but this book doensn't even attemp to assist.
Joe
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, May 31 2003
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
If your a Mac lover buy this book. O'Reilly is a great source for Mac books and this olne is no exception. Lots of interesting information and fun to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Joy of Hacking OS X, May 14 2003
By 
Emma Story (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks (Paperback)
Tim O'Reilly's blurb about the Hacks series of books includes the following: "I've always wanted to publish books that capture the essence of the hacker experience. I wanted a format that made it easy to present lots of small but useful tidbits - tips, tricks, and dare I say, hacks." One of my initial impressions regarding Mac OS X Hacks was that, despite each of the arcticles being dubbed a numbered "hack," many of them weren't, exactly, hacks. However, I think Tim's description does capture the sentiment with which the book seems to have been compiled - it's all about making your Mac distinctively yours, whether it's just by an ingenious combination of standard Preferences, installing third party utilities, or writing some yourself.
The book is especially useful in that each hack is written as a short, standalone article, so you don't have to have read #1-26 to be able to follow #27. If one article assumes or benefits from something covered in another, it's explicitly referenced in the text, as are other sources to turn to for more information, on the web and in print. It also provides the benefit of long-time Mac experience from a number of different authors - you can find out what Derrick Story has learned the hard way from years of backing up his own laptop on the road, for example.
The authors do a good job of pointing out many little freeware and shareware utilities and workarounds for specific tasks - the sort of thing you'd usually have to spend half an hour digging through forum postings to find. Of course, this means that many of the tricks and techniques (like removing the brushed metal from Cocoa applications) can be found on the web for the price of some patient Googling, but the pleasure in having a book like this is that someone - or many someones, in this case - has already done the necessary dredging and written a slick little nugget of an article condensing everything you need to know. The authors are, for the most part, excellent writers and vastly knowledgable about their subject matter. I've selected a couple of my favorite chapters to talk about (I couldn't include them all for space reasons).
Chapter Two: Startup
This is one of the sections - and there are several - where Mac OS X Hacks reminds me very much of Unix Power Tools. I particularly remember the Logging In and Logging Out chapters of UPT, which were a revelation to me years ago when I first started playing with a Linux box and had never heard of such a thing as a .profile. The Startup chapter in this book deals with (among other things) verbose booting (#13), using open firmware for added password protection (#16), and how to get OS X running on an older, unsupported Mac (#17).
Chapter Three: Multimedia and the iApps
I admit I haven't spent all that much time with this chapter, because I prefer other options for most of the functionality provided by the iApps. I think Audion does a better job as an MP3 player than iTunes, and Adium a better job for instant messaging than iChat, and iCal fascinated me for about a week before I went back to a pen-and-paper planner, of all things. However, I'm intrigued by some of the different ways these applications can be combined and scripted. #28 (Controlling iTunes with Perl) is definitely worth a read.
Chapter Four: The User Interface
Mac users have always been fond of customization, especially as far as the GUI is concerned, so it's not surprising that the chapter in which I feel this book really shines is this one. Many of my favorite (and now dog-eared) articles live here. #40 (Extending Your Screen Real Estate with Virtual Desktops) was a treat; I've always liked using multiple desktops with other window managers and had wondered if it could be done under OS X. The article points out a couple of options - one shareware, one freeware. #43 (Screensaver as Desktop) was fun as well - Running the Cosmos screensaver in the background beneath a slew of transparent terminal windows is a striking effect, and not as CPU intensive as you might think. Other gems in this chapter include #45 (Speakable Web Services) and #47 (Prying the Chrome Off Cocoa Applications). There's also a discussion of various alternatives or additions to the Dock, although noticeably absent is my personal favorite, DragThing.
Chapter Five: Unix and the Terminal
More Unix basics that many people will already know, but also some interesting discussion of material specific to Mac OS. There's the requisite information about changing the appearance of Terminal windows (mmm, transparent) and an introduction to Apple's Developer Tools, featuring Project Builder and Interface Builder. #56 (Top 10 Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks) collects some of the differences *nix users will encounter between OS X and other operating systems. #65 (Running Linux on an iBook) is fun, too.
Chapter Eight: The Web
The web chapter is a lot of fun. #85 (Searching the Internet from your Desktop) explores a couple of ways to use Google outside a browser - this seems like the kind of thing there might be more of in the Google Hacks book - as well as other search methods, including Sherlock. Other favorites from this chapter include #87 (Reading Syndicated Online Content), and the articles dealing with the Apache installation that comes with OS X. These are #88 (Serving Up a Web Site with the Built-In Apache Server), #89 (Editing the Apache Web Server's Configuration), and #90 (Build Your Own Apache Server with mod_perl).
Summing Up
There's a lot in this book that smart users could figure out by themselves and that experienced users would already know, but that's not why you'd buy it. Mac OS X Hacks picks up where Mac OS X: The Missing Manual leaves off, assuming a reasonable level of competence in day-to-day functions, but guiding you through the wealth of capabilities contained within OS X that you might be vaguely aware of but haven't really played around with. You probably could find out a lot of this information on your own, but would you?
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Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks
Mac OS X Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tricks by Morbus Iff (Paperback - March 30 2003)
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