Nov 13 2003
Written by Leo Laporte
with Megan Morrone
and presented in daily bites of information, this volume, Leo
Laporte’s 2004 Technology Almanac, offers a year’s worth of tech tips
in almost every aspect of modern life in which technology has infiltrated. Each
page serves as one day’s lesson and contains an article written by one or more
of the 60 or so contributing writers from TechTV
(past and present). Most days also include bonus hints, tips, stats or trivia
related to that day’s essay.
With 366 day to cover (yes, 2004 is a leap year), there is a lot of information
to be found in this volume. But for Mac-heads like us — Mac users who
have gotten used to being disappointed when books on "technology"
ended up being books on Windows — what we really want to know is, "What’s
in it for us?"
Well, I’ve flipped through the book from cover to cover and I’ve done a little
digging for you. Here’s what I’ve found: of the years worth of material covered
in the book, only about 5% of it is totally Mac-only. Are you surprised? 5%
is generally considered Mac’s share of the computer market. Frankly, I was a
bit surprised that any day would be totally devoted to the Mac when such a large
part of the TechTV audience has no Mac experience.
Before you label LL2K4TA yet another Windows How-To book, lets factor in how
many essays are PC-only … 36%. Okay, that’s a lot when you consider that,
all totaled, accounts for 4 months worth of entries. That’s about 131 days where
you might regret paying the cover price for this book. Try not to fret on those
days. Instead look on the bright side: most of the PC-only days are tips on
how get the PC to do what the Mac already does or doesn’t need to do while the
19 or so Mac-only tips are almost all "feel-good" essays that will
make you glad you went Mac.
But wait, there’s more. Nearly 60% of the book is platform independent or universal,
covering topics common to all computer use, web sites open to anyone with an
internet connection, technologies that enhance parts of everyday life away from
the computer screen — MP3 players, cell phones, PDA’s, game consoles …and
much, much more. I mean, come on, it’s from TechTV, so naturally it’s chock
full of technology. And, think about it, when was the last time, as a Mac user,
you picked up a geek book with wide reaching topics and found that only 35%
of the information therein was exclusive to PC users — not very often
if ever. I can think of a few Mac books I’ve purchased that had gave
less return on my investment. Also consider that my calculations do not take
into account the bonus tips that are included on almost every page. A lot of
them will take a PC-only day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.
The book is also available in 2 flavors: Standard ($24.99
at Barnes and Noble) and DVD ($29.99 — also
less at Barnes and Noble). For any Screen
Savers addict with a DVD player, Leo Laporte’s 2004 Technology Almanac DVD
Edition is a must. It features classic segments from the show like the
time Yoshi got shot by a taser and the day Kevin
Mitnick was released upon the internet for the first time after three years
of court-enforced abstinence. That’s good TV, people.
The second question you might ask is, "Sure, some of the book is useless
to Mac users, but how much of what’s left is actually useful information?"
Good question. Almost all of the contributing writers on LL2K4TA are deeply
connected to technology and tech journalism (only one seems to have come completely
the writing is top notch and the topics are current. The problem comes when
you factor in how quickly technology advances. Already, many of the Mac references
are outdated by the releases of the PowerMac
G5 and Mac OS X
10.3 Panther. And while a lot of the book deals with issues that have been part
of tech life for years and will likely stay that way for years to come, the
technical generation gap that is bound to affect some information in the almanac
is only going to become wider as one takes the book’s contents in daily doses.
My advice: skim the topics as soon as you get it home and glean all you can
from it while the information is still up to date. There will be plenty of exciting
tech truth to ponder for 2004.
Is Leo Laporte’s 2004 Technology Almanac a good buy for a Mac guy? If
you’re looking for a great Mac book that delves deep into the inner reaches
of the latest Mac OS — No. If you’re a TechTV junkie looking for a good
all ’round technology book that covers a wide assortment of geek issues and
dabbles in Mac topics every so often — Get this book!