iPod: The Missing Manual
I recently bought a new year's present of an iPod nano for someone close to me. Within days, unfamiliarity and lack of confidence had generated two or three telephone calls.
The iPod range, particularly the nano and the now-named "Classic" have certainly changed with their new interfacing, although the basics are similar and they use iTunes integration. I was lucky to have at hand the latest Missing Manual for the iPods, by J. D. Biersdorfer (with David Pogue), which covers the new range, including the iPod touch, and their integration with iTunes, both Mac and Windows versions.
The format of the book has changed cosmetically and the new cover is close to what we saw with the Missing Manual for the iPhone (reviewed 17 October 2007). Internally there is the same high quality paper, while illustrations are even clearer now. There are Windows and Mac screen shots where needed, but also excellent equipment photographs, as well as other images.
The print is crisp and clear making it easy to read. Throughout, as well as the main thrust of the text, there are tips or suggestions, highlighted in cream-yellow panels so, like all Missing Manuals it is easy just to dip into and learn something new.
The book is structured in thirteen chapters, plus that almost-trademark index of the Missing Manuals which itself is another valuable tool. The Contents section in the first pages, sets out the subjects covered in each chapter.
The first two chapters are introductory and outline the iPods and how they are used. These chapters also cover the menu systems in detail. As the interface has been changed in the latest iPods, with their new split screens -- text menu and image preview together -- these take a little adjustment, although the screen clarity of these newest players is kind to the eyes.
Each topic in the chapters is allocated at least a page which itself has a large bold type heading. When turning the pages, it is easy to spot; or if you are flitting through the pages at random these titles catch the eye with their prominence.
Chapter Three concentrates on the iPod touch, which seems so different (size, touch-screen, wifi) that it could almost have a separate book to itself. (I have noticed in the shops in Bangkok a Thai language work that does group the iPhone and touch together which may also be useful.) Chapter 11 also focuses on the iPod touch, with its WiFi access and web use which has much in common with the ways that the iPhone operates.
Chapters Four through Six concentrate on iTunes, which is not just the music software, but also has a number of other functions for synchronisation of data -- addresses, calendars, photographs, podcasts, videos -- in a clean fashion. Those additional features which allow us to use an iPod as a basic PDA are covered in greater detail in chapters eight, nine and ten.
While Chapter Four covers the basics of using iTunes, Chapter Five goes into more detail. Chapter Six shows how the iTunes Playlist function can be used as a way of organising music and to make burning of CDs more effective.
Podcasts are covered briefly in Chapter Seven, which examines the iTunes Music Store, something which we in Thailand are unable to make purchases from, unless we have credit facilities in the 22 countries that Apple's agreements with the music organisations allow.
External devices are examined in Chapter Twelve, which is useful for those who want to use their iPods either in a car or to link the device to speakers in the home. Also in this chapter are several pointers to outside sources, such as Griffin and Belkin, who produce a large range of devices for the iPod range.
The final chapter, Thirteen, is for trouble-shooting and this identified my friend's problem as related to the battery: the iPod doesn't work if the battery is depleted and this is something an enthusiastic new owner may experience. The information here starts at the basic and works up to the "reset" and "restore" (in iTunes).
J. D. Biersdorfer also gives readers a link (www.ilounge.com), where there are a number of programs that will help transfer music from the iPod to the computer. As you can copy music in iTunes to a CD, this may be a feature that those with certain music downloads feel they need. It is not possible with iTunes, but not impossible with either a Mac or a PC.
In keeping with the way that I always learn something new from the books in this series, in this section (and forgive me for I am not a Windows user) I found that iTunes for Windows has a diagnostics menu, partly because of the way that PC hardware is not standardised.
A useful book for sure if you want the most out of the iPod.
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