Total Training’s Intro to System X

Reviewed by Carl Taber

Watching the club posts about the serious problems awaiting the neophyte with OS X, I had been hesitant to try upgrading from 9.2.2. Our Mac family has a flat panel G4, an older iMac and a recently acquired second hand Ti book. Only the Ti book has system X operating on it, though the flat panel has 10.3. I was the perfect guinea pig to review Total Training’s Max OS X.

My first problem was getting the darn disc to play. it would not work in 9.2.2 on either the iMac or the flat panel. I finally was able to limp through it in X but only with three restarts, not logouts because the screen froze. This occurred if you waited too long between chapters; it simply froze.

I found the content to be good overall. The chapter format started with the narrator giving a little overview and then the screen shot took you through the exercise being demonstrated. Some of the editorial start-of-chapter stuff was lame (they insisted on having one chapter start with their company mascot, Petty the elf, help the narrator; hint, I lose the elf ), but still the Chapter content was very complete.

Having been through several books on how to transition, and listening at the monthly meetings and special events by the club, I thought I knew a fair bit. However, I learned a lot about how to avoid some practical problems and how to get things done the X way.

With the improved text edit capabilities, I realized that I didn’t have to upgrade to Word right this second. I even figured out to how to rename my computer and delete the former owner’s name (Mac help, the missing manual and two other resources provided no clue). Who would have guessed that the answer was in the “Sharing” system preference? I was about to post a plea to the member list when the program went into demonstrating how to deal with sharing the computer and I realized this would work far better than reinstalling the system.

Another mission critical tidbit was learning that I could create a pdf file of just about anything by opening it under preview and then resaving it in a pdf file format. This will make my web usage more enjoyable as I transfer files and documents to and from others. Preview will also tame most odd graphic files, allowing you to open email attachments and resave them in a format your computer actually can access. This will also make my life much easier with a major client who loves sending me graphic attachments of their e-fax traffic I have had real trouble reading.

I finally now understand that there are important differences between installing a program into Applications (any user can access it) and into my Home folder (only I can access it) that will save countless hours of frustration. Interestingly, the same goes for the main and home libraries. As an easily scared user of the Mac, these big picture overviews are already making me feel more confident about not screwing up the computer.

Privileges is another area that had really scared me off X, but the Total Training DVD has also calmed me down. Unix has just provided a lot of ways to protect the material and you have to be careful of the level you are at when you decide to access-protect your document. Sounds simple enough, but with all the help posts I see on this topic alone, it is clearly something that others struggle with all the time. This program’s explanation is straightforward and helpful. While I will probably miss classify documents or files as time goes on, at least I will be able to start my investigation of why I cannot access something in the right place.

While the disk is not everything I need to know before I jump to X, it has given me much more confidence to explore this new system on my Ti book. As a basic introduction, it provides a good overview, but not too much depth, while leaving you with nuggets of important hints and surprises that await in OS X.

Total Training for Mac OS X