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Ten Questions with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Visual QuickStart Guide Author Maria Langer

Maria Langer gives us the scoop on her new book Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Visual QuickStart Guide in this interview. Find out what makes the Visual QuickStart Guide the premier book for getting started with Tiger.
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1. What's your favorite new feature in Tiger?

Improved synching features. I know it isn't a glamorous or glitzy feature, but it's something I really need. I have a Mac I use daily at my office and a PowerBook I keep at home and take on the road. Although I've been able to sync Address Book and iCal data via .Mac since Panther's release, being able to sync Mail data is extremely useful for me. Now both computers have the same mail "database" (so to speak) so I can check and reply to e-mail from either computer without having to worry about which computer the mail lives on.

I also like Dashboard's widgets. At first they seemed kind of like a throwback to the old Desk Accessories days of System 6 and I didn't think they'd be much use. But now I find myself using Dashboard's Calculator, Dictionary, and Weather features all the time. They're set up so that all I do is press F12 and there they are. When I'm done, F12 again and they're gone. It's a lot faster than firing up the Calculator app, Word (which I used for its dictionary feature), or the Weather Channel's Wickenburg weather Web page.

Automator has a lot of potential, but I think developers need to come up with a lot more actions for it. Not everyone is an AppleScript expert—I'm certainly not!

And I still can't believe how quickly Spotlight can find things on my hard disk!

2. What's Tiger missing?

The version of Mail that comes with Tiger is still a bit weak when compared to Entourage. (I wish I could mash the two software packages together and pick out just the features I need.) I'd like more rules. That's not really a Tiger omission as much as a Mail omission.

3. Are you a cat person or a dog person?


4. How does Tiger compare to my favorite animal, the Liger?

It must be cooler, because I needed a Google search to find out what a liger was. (When you live in a small town, you miss things. I heard a rumor that the Red Socks won the World Series. Is that true?)

5. Should Mac users rush to upgrade? Why or why not?

Mac users interested in productivity should definitely upgrade immediately. There are a lot of features that will help them work better on their Macs. And for those who like to fiddle around with automation, Automator will give them lots to fiddle with. So far, I'm extremely pleased with the way Tiger works with all my applications, including Word, Excel, InDesign, Photoshop, iBlog, and even an old version of Dreamweaver. As I worked with early releases of Tiger while writing my book, I found myself getting more and more excited. I couldn't wait to upgrade on my production Mac and PowerBook.

6. What does your Tiger book do that the rest don't?

Pictures. Need I say more? My book is 720 pages long with well over 2,000 screen shots. They don't call it a Visual QuickStart Guide for nothing! Everything you see on screen is illustrated in the book, making the step-by-step instructions extremely easy to follow. And unlike other books that waste a lot of words with corny jokes and useless trivia, mine is jam-packed with information. Open it to the page with the info you need, read the instructions, look at the screen shots, and get back to work. Oh, there are a few jokes and bits of trivia in there, too, but they're not in your face.

7. Apple claims Tiger will change the way you use a computer. Has it? If so, how?

Yes. There are so many features that just help me work more efficiently. Let's face it: I use my computers to get work done. I don't play games and don't do much Web surfing. Tiger has made my Mac an even better tool for getting work done. That means I can get more work done in a day or, better yet, get finished quicker so I can go out and play.

8. What's your favorite widget?

Weather. I like the way the graphic changes depending on the current conditions. I also LOVE the new Dictionary widget (and application) because it helps me find the right word, no matter what application I'm in.

9. Explain what's cool about Spotlight.

Speed. The way it sorts items found by the type of item. The way it can be customized to show only certain types of files. The ease at which you can specify exactly where it should search. And Smart Folders!

10. What's your top tip for taming this Tiger?

Take some time to experiment with the new features and learn how they work. Then decide which ones will benefit you the most and make a point of using them. Soon it'll become second nature and you'll wonder how you lived without them.

And I know just the book to help you....

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