iPod: The Missing Manual, 11th Edition – A clear, concise keeper for your reference needs – #bookreview

iPod: The Missing Manual, 11th Edition
J.D. Biersdorfer, with David Pogue
(O’Reilly – paperback, Kindle)

I own and use a small collection of old iPods, including a Shuffle and a Classic. I play them when I exercise and when I work at my computer in a coffee shop and don’t want to listen to the piped-in music or the surgical nurse at the next table talking too loudly into her smartphone. When she starts started telling someone the gory details of a rare procedure recently performed inside a patient’s skull, I just crank up Adele and drown it all out.

The new 11th edition of iPod: The Missing Manual is a perfect reference book for me. It reminds me how to do certain tasks on my older devices. It shows me how to use features I still haven’t tried but might after the next song ends. The book also has information I could use to help a granddaughter with her brand-new iPod Touch — but somehow I doubt she’ll ever let me touch it.

Anyway, J.D. Biersdorfer has been writing a technology column for the New York Times since 1998, and this is her 11th iPod book. So she knows her stuff. And, of course, fellow New York Times writer and co-author David Pogue invented the Missing Manual series and has authored or co-written some 55 books, including 28 Missing Manuals.

Together, in this new edition, they have prepared an excellent, 331-page guide for how to get the most out of your iPod, whether it is really old, slightly old, or fresh out of the box.

For example, you may want to know how to play slideshows on your TV using your Touch or your Classic. The steps are in there. Want to know how to hook up a Touch or Nano to your car’s stereo? It’s in there. Have you ever tried using the iTunes graphic equalizer (EQ) “to improve the way your songs sound…”? Just follow five well-described steps.

Forgotten how to autofill or manually fill your Shuffle with new songs? When’s the last time you added or deleted a playlist on your Classic or Nano? Ready to edit some photos on your Touch or set it up with an iCloud account ? Don’t remember how to get to iTunesU? Just follow the book’s clear steps and color screenshots.

With several different iPods to care for and optimize, iPod: The Missing Manual, 11th Edition quickly has proven its worth for me. It definitely will be a keeper on my reference shelf.

Si Dunn

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Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Ed. – Updated to cover iOS 5, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch – #programming #bookreview

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition
By Alasdair Allan
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

Alasdair Allan’s popular iOS programming book recently has been updated to cover iOS 5. And it has a new name. (The first edition was titled Learning iPhone Programming.)

“The changes made in this second edition reflect the fact that a lot has happened since the first edition was published: the release of the iPad, a major release of Xcode, two revisions of the operating system itself, and the arrival of Apple’s iCloud,” the author notes. “This book has therefore been refreshed, renewed, and updated to reflect these fairly fundamental changes to the platform, and all of the example code was rewritten from the ground up for Xcode 4 and iOS 5 using ARC.”

Allan’s book – well-written and appropriately illustrated – is structured to provide “a rapid introduction to programming for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad,” and it assumes that you have some familiarity with C or a C-derived language, as well as a basic understanding of object-oriented programming.

And the pace is fast. By chapter 3, you are building the requisite “Hello, World” application and running it in iPhone Simulator.

In that same chapter, Allan also introduces the basic syntax of Objective-C and highlights some of the “rather strange” ways that it deals with method calls. He discusses how the Cocoa Touch framework underlying iOS applications “is based on one of the oldest design patterns, the Model-View-Controller pattern, which dates from the 1970s.” And he warns that “[a]ttempting to write iOS applications while ignoring the underlying MVC patterns is a pointless exercise in make-work.”

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition does not emphasize web-based applications. It centers, instead, on creating native applications using Apple’s SDK. “The obvious reason to use the native SDK,” Allan states, “is to do things that you can’t do using web technologies. The first generation of augmented reality applications is a case in point; these needed close integration with the iPhone’s onboard sensors (e.g., GPS, accelerometer, digital compass, and camera) and wouldn’t have been possible without that access.”

He emphasizes a financial reason, as well. “Consumers won’t buy your application on their platform just because you support other platforms; instead they want an application that looks like the rest of the applications on their platform, that follows the same interface paradigms as the rest of the applications they’re used to, and is integrated into their platform.”

He adds: “If you integrate your application into the iOS ecosphere, make use of the possibilities that the hardware offers, and make sure your user interface is optimized for the device, the user experience is going to be much improved.”

Hard to argue with that.

Learning iOS Programming, 2nd Edition provides the steps necessary to develop and market your first iOS application. Allan notes: “Until recently, the only way to obtain the iOS SDK was to become a registered iOS developer. However, you can now download the current release of Xcode and the iOS SDK directly from the Mac App Store.”

Of course, if you intend to distribute your applications “or even just deploy them onto your own device, you will also need to register with Apple as a developer and then enroll in one of the developer programs.”

You may need some system upgrades, as well. To develop apps for the iOS, you’ll need an Intel Mac running OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) or later. If you plan to create apps that use Apple’s iCloud, you’ll need OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) or later.

One other recommendation from Allan: If you’re truly serious about being an iOS developer, consider also registering with the Mac Developer Program.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.