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Before We Begin…

Let me start by saying that I've written over forty computer books since 1992 and this is the first one I felt needed a Foreword. Why? Well, I felt a need to share a few thoughts with readers.

Hooray for Mac OS X 10.1

First of all, I want to let everyone know how excited I am about Mac OS X 10.1.

I was one of the people in the audience (via Webcast) when Steve Jobs showed off Mac OS X at Macworld Expo in January 2001. Oohs and ahs came from my office as I remained glued to my screen, wishing my Internet connection was faster than 128kbps ISDN. I was just as excited about Mac OS X as I was with the release of System 7, Mac OS 8, and Mac OS 9. (Yes, I do go back a few years as a Mac user.)

But when I finally got the software into my hot little hands to write the prequel to this book, Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide, I was somewhat disappointed. Although Mac OS X did everything Apple claimed it would, and it was just as beautiful in real life as it was at the Apple booth at Macworld Expo, it just didn't feel right to me. As I worked with and wrote about its features, I decided that I wouldn't upgrade. It would change the way I worked, making it impossible to take advantage of some of the productivity features in Mac OS 9 that I've come to depend on. And with very little "Built for Mac OS" software out there, I knew I'd be spending more time in the Classic Environment than in Aqua.

I'm sure I wasn't the only person who was disappointed. And I'm sure many of the others were a lot more vocal about it than I was. But Apple listened to its critics. And months later, it delivered the software that this book was based on: Mac OS X version 10.1.

What a difference a decimal makes! At first glance, it may not seem very different, but there are definite improvements in performance and the feature set. It's more customizable, making it easier to set up your computer with the kinds of features that increase your productivity.

And a few months made a difference in third-party software, too. Developers are flocking to Mac OS X, rewriting most of my favorite software so it's built for Mac OS X. Intuit's Quicken 2002 was among the first; Microsoft Office v. X for the Mac will be available when this book goes to print. (I start work on Microsoft Word X: Visual QuickStart Guide tomorrow.)

With the release of Mac OS X 10.1, the idea of upgrading suddenly feels right. Am I ready to upgrade? You bet I am!

Start or Pro?

Although I've written literally dozens of Visual QuickStart Guides since 1995, this is the first Visual QuickPro Guide I've written. It certainly was a challenge.

It all started when Cliff (my editor at Peachipit Press) and I realized that the Mac OS Visual QuickStart Guides I'd been writing (since the release of Mac OS 8) had been getting fatter and fatter. As Mac OS became more complex, many of the topics the books covered also became complex. We decided that some of the topics—such as networking and AppleScript—were beyond the needs of the average Visual QuickStart Guide reader. At the same time, we realized that with the release of Mac OS X, even more complex topics—such as Unix and the intricacies of a true multiple-user system — would need to be discussed. It seemed that the time was right to split the book into two: a slightly pared down Visual QuickStart Guide and a brand new Visual QuickPro Guide.

The first challenge was deciding what material should appear in each book. We decided that Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide should cover the basics: what every new Mac OS user needs to know. Mac OS X: Visual QuickPro Guide would cover any material cut from previous Visual QuickStart Guides, as well as the new, more advanced concepts and features introduced in Mac OS X.

Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide was released just after Mac OS X—in fact, it was the first Mac OS X book out there. The book has gotten great reviews and has won numerous awards, which make me extremely happy and proud.

But within a month, I started getting e-mail from readers looking for the more advanced material promised in Mac OS X: Visual QuickPro Guide. I started work just as Apple was fine-tuning Mac OS X 10.1.

No computer book author is an island

I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about Unix. In fact, nearly everything I learned about Unix I learned while editing the chapters written by Ron Hipschman. Ron's Unix chapters are an important part of this book because—let's face the awful truth—Mac OS X can't exist without Unix.

Although the average Mac OS X user doesn't need to know a thing about Unix (which is why it wasn't covered in Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide), anyone who wants to poke around in the inner workings of Mac OS X does. And since this book is for that type of user, we called in Ron to fill in the holes of my "Swiss cheese" knowledge.

We also called in Ethan Wilde, author of AppleScript for Applications: Visual QuickStart Guide, to write a chapter about using AppleScript with Mac OS X 10.1. Although I'd touched upon AppleScript in previous Mac OS Visual QuickStart Guides, I couldn't begin to provide the depth of coverage that Ethan can. His chapter helps round out this book.

I'm feeling better

For a while, I was losing my Mac enthusiasm. It may have started when Apple Computer was struggling for its survival (I was loyal enough to buy stock back then) or when the Newton was put to rest (want to buy one cheap?) or when I realized that my QuickTake camera took pretty bad pictures (at least I unloaded that on eBay). For whatever reason, I was not nearly as happy with Apple or Mac OS as someone who earns a living writing about it should be.

But the magic is coming back. I just bought a G4 with a SuperDrive and am excited about creating my first DVD movie. Although I'm finally getting used to the keyboard on my iBook, I'm starting to think about a real Power-Book again. And I'm getting ready to upgrade all of my computers to Mac OS X 10.1.

I've come a long way with Apple since System 6.0.3 running on a Mac IIcx with 1 MB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive. And I'm just as excited about the future of the Macintosh operating system now as I was in 1989.

I hope you are, too.

— Maria Langer, Wickenburg, AZ
November 2001

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