Droid X2: The Missing Manual – #droid #bookreview

Droid X2: The Missing Manual
By Preston Gralla
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $19.99; Kindle edition, list price $9.99)

Got, getting or giving a Droid X2 smartphone?

Consider adding this useful how-to manual to the mix. Droid X2: The Missing Manual bills itself as “The book that should have been in the box.” But it’s likely much bigger than the phone’s box.

The 399-page manual, written by veteran technology writer Preston Gralla, is nicely structured, well-illustrated and chock full of information on using the Droid X2’s many features. The book is organized into six parts.

 Part 1 covers “Android Basics.” It gives a guided tour of features and shows how to make calls, do text messages, manage contacts, use Caller ID, make conference calls, and handle other tasks.

Part 2 focuses on “Camera, Pix, Music, and Video” and how you can use a Droid X2 to take photographs, play and manage music, and record, edit and view videos.

Part 3, “Maps, Apps, and Calendar,” shows “how to navigate using a GPS, to find any location in the world with maps, to find your own location on a map, to get weather and news, to use a great calendar app, and to synchronize that calendar with your Google calendar, or even an Outlook calendar,” Gralla writes.

Part 4, “Android Online,” discusses “everything you need to know about the Droid X2’s remarkable online talents.” This includes getting online over Verizon’s network or a wi-fi hotspot, using your Droid X2 as a portable G3 hotspot, checking email, surfing the Internet and downloading and using apps.

Part 5 covers “Advanced Topics,” including syncing and transferring files between a Droid X2 and a Mac or a PC, using your voice to control your Droid, and using your Droid at your workplace. Part 5 also includes a nice listing of Droid X2 settings.

Part 6, “Appendixes,” has three “reference chapters” showing how to activate a Droid X2, which accessories are available, and how to troubleshoot various issues.

This “Missing Manual” includes a link to a website where you can keep up with updates and changes to the Droid X2, plus corrections to the book.

Meanwhile, a “Missing CD” web page link provided in the book gives clickable links to the websites that are mentioned in the text.

Many new users of the Droid X2 likely will find this book helpful. So will experienced users who have mostly focused on voice calls and text messages and now want to master some of their smartphone’s other features. 

Si Dunn

Microsoft OneNote 2010 Plain & Simple – #bookreview #training

Microsoft OneNote® 2010 Plain & Simple
By Peter Weverka
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $24.99 ;  Kindle  $9.99)

Employee training is one of the first things cut during an economic downturn. And in today’s long-depressed employment market, you are expected to learn many different software packages on your own, at your own expense, before you apply for a job.

The Microsoft Plain & Simple book series represents a good and affordable way to learn how to use Windows 7, Microsoft Office and several individual Office products, including PowerPoint, Word and Excel.

This new addition to the series, Microsoft OneNote® 2010 Plain & Simple, helps you jump right into using OneNote 2010 with little explanation and virtually no “computerese.”

Unfortunately, if you’ve never seen or used OneNote, you aren’t given a clear, concise statement of exactly what the program does, until page 16: “The purpose of OneNote is to make it easier for you to record, store, organize, and find notes.”

A feature called “the ribbon” also is mentioned several times before it finally is specifically defined on page 6: “The ribbon is the assortment of tabs, buttons, and commands that appear along the top of the OneNote screen.”

These minor flaws aside, Microsoft OneNote® 2010 Plain & Simple does a fine job of showing new users how to dive right into using the program and mastering its features. The book is richly illustrated with screens, clearly numbered steps, and tips boxes, plus “Try This!” exercises, “Caution!” statements and “See Also” suggestions.

Peter Weverka’s writing generally is clear and concise, and the book is divided into 20 chapters featuring small chunks of specific how-to information. The 241-page book also has a nicely detailed 15-page index.

OneNote 2010 has some screen changes and several new features that users of older versions may wish to learn, and this book can help.

“Unlike its predecessors, OneNote 2010 offer a Styles gallery for quickly formatting text and gives you the ability to create links between [OneNote] notebooks, sections, and pages so you can jump from place to place quickly,” the author notes.

“You can also dock OneNote to the side of the screen, which makes it easier to take notes from a Word document or web page.”

A new Page Versions command lets you summon older versions of a OneNote page. And the “Mini Translator” feature can translate a foreign word or phrase into English, and vice versa.

The Translation Options box displays all of the available To and From language pairs. If the language you need is not listed, a “Try This!” tip guides you to OneNote’s Research Task Pane, where you can find and add other languages.

“OneNote,” the author adds, works hand in glove with two other Microsoft Office 2010 applications: Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Outlook 2010.”

For example, you can use Word 2010 to open a OneNote 2010 page, and “[a]ll formats except styles transfer to the Word page.” The OneNote page also can be saved as a Word document.

Meanwhile, you can create Outlook 2010 tasks in OneNote without having to open Outlook. “And you can get information about a meeting directly from Outlook as well,” Weverka points out.

“Outlook offers the OneNote button for copying data from Outlook to OneNote. After you select an email message, meeting, contact, or task in Outlook, you can click the OneNote button to copy the item to OneNote.” In the process, you also get “a link that you can click to return to Outlook when you need to.”

Small starting glitches aside, this new addition to the “Plain & Simple” series solidly lives up to its billing as an “easy, colorful, SEE-HOW guide to OneNote,” a software tool you may need to learn for your next job or your present job or for boosting your productivity in your self-employment.

Si Dunn

Effective Time Management, Using Microsoft Outlook – #bookreview

Effective Time Management: Using Microsoft Outlook to Organize Your
Work and Personal Life
By Lothar Seiwert and Holger Woeltje
(Microsoft Press, list price $29.99, paperback; digital list price $23.99, Kindle)

To be honest, I never have liked Microsoft Outlook.

My first frustrating and confusing experiences with Outlook several years ago left me convinced that I had absolutely no reason to quit using paper desktop calendars and separate email programs.

But after reading Effective Time Management: Using Microsoft Outlook to Organize Your Work and Personal Life, I have decided to put Outlook back on my PC. I am now giving it another chance to help me exert some semblance of control over the events, meetings and messages in my days and nights.

The book’s authors, Lothar Seiwert and Holger Woeltje, are “two highly experienced time management experts from Germany, the largest national economy in Europe.”

Effective Time Management is nicely organized and well written. It also has an adequate number of screen shots, tips and step-by-step lists to help you get a handle on Outlook, even if you are, like me, a newcomer to its latest version.

Their 248-page book is divided into seven chapters. And, while the focus is on using Outlook 2010 to help you improve your time management skills, the authors helpfully include how-to steps for Outlook 2003 and 2007, as well.

The chapters are:

  1. How Not to Drown in the Email Flood
  2. How to Work More Effectively with Tasks and Priorities
  3. How to Gain More Time for What’s Essential with an Effective Week Planner
  4. How to Make Your Daily Planning Work in Real Life
  5. How to Schedule Meetings So They Are Convenient, Effective, and Fun
  6. How to use OneNote for Writing Goals, Jotting Down Ideas, and Keeping Notes
  7. How to Truly Benefit from This Book

The book’s one appendix is a list of recommended readings that deal with time management and keeping your productivity energy level high. And the 14-page index is well-detailed.

Seiwert and Woeltje recommend that you use Outlook to “plan your professional life and private life together…so that you avoid conflicting appointments…unless private planning is prohibited on your office computer or you don’t have access to it on the weekend or in the evening.”

They also recommend that you follow “the Kiesel Principle” so you can “gain more time for what matters most each week,” in your work life and your personal life.  “Take about 30 minutes to plan your week,” they explain. “Initially, it might take you longer, but after a few weeks, you will get used to it and it will become routine.”

It’s all about achieving a healthy balance in life – and using Microsoft Outlook to help you get there and stay there.

Si Dunn