Troubleshooting OSX: Online book release

By Graham K. Rogers

One of the most valuable help sources for anyone with a Mac is the Apple forums. When I first switched to OSX, I found these a major way in to understanding the operating system and its underlying technologies. At that time, it was clear that there were several regular posters there, known as Helpers then. These independents knew their way round and willingly gave assistance to the lost souls who would ask for guidance.

One of the more prolific of these former helpers (the name is now lost) goes under the name of Doctor Smoke. With a strong analytical approach to problems, in much the same way as I might solve problems on my motorbikes, Dr. Smoke wrote a book, Troubleshooting Mac OS X and he has just released the latest version for OSX Tiger.

This is an expanded issue, including as it does not only all the earlier technologies within OSX but the newer ones, like Dashboard and Spotlight. All of the operating system and its interleaving parts are explained and he provides solutions to regular problems that might occur.

The strength of the book is more, however, in the way he encourages the reader to apply analytical techniques -- even suggesting keeping a diaryto record all actions related to the computer -- to the more serious situations that occur with some users' computers. As it comes in pdf format rather than paper, sections are connected with hyperlinks, and there are also links to online sources: you cannot do that with a printed book.

Of great value to us all are sections devoted to reading the signs: what the lines of code in a kernel panic indicate; the meaning of entries in crash logs and system logs; and what the computer is telling you in its own way.

As the core of the work is to isolate and fix problems when the computer has a problem -- which may mean when it is dead -- Dr Smoke encourages us to print out the sections that will be of value in these situations. As much of the work of the 600 pages deals with preparation (and trying to prevent disasters), this is sensible advice.

Troubleshooting Mac OS X is available online as a download (with a link to the excellent Kagi online purchasing service) or as a CDROM. As stable as OS X is, you really should read this book before your computer goes wrong.

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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