Review of Mac Hacks | Chris Seibold

Posted on June 1, 2013

smorgasbord cookbook of recipes to help you get the most of your mac, Mac Hacks helps the novice-to-middle level users tweak their machines to be more automative, customised to his or her needs. Chris Seibold adds that link for the average user, to become more of a power-user, and inspire the reader to look beyond the book for similar hacks, in quest of his or her environment-setup utopia.

The book starts by encouraging the user to backup his or her computer, because as you know, hacks don’t always turn out the way they should, so protecting one’s computer and being able to revert to the initial state is ideal. So okay, having done that, the user also provides information on creating a flash backup and various other handy utility tricks, to get your computer and your account manageable.

The second chapter is where the tasty part of the book commences, and the chapter  is Lion OS specific, but provides ways to manage the general user experiences, from making the notification less intrusive, to other sorts of Lion-specific quirks that you haven’t come to appreciate, moving into from Mountain Lion.

The following chapter gets into less OSX-version specific tasks, from tweaking one’s browser, adding/removing flash, tweaking various networking settings, playing around with how icons look on your desktop, and plenty more. Chapter 5 moves to the automation section of the book, using Apple’s in-built Automator tool, to allow for orchestration of files from your desktop, to be moved automatically to certain designated folders, to making iTunes work in a more fluid process. The author then looks at some ‘Unix Fun’, which albeit is probably too advanced for some novice readers, but provides some informative stuff for the rest of us, looking to move to the next stage of hacking. With some Unix trickery, one could tweak how the dock looks, how certain effects like the glass effect show. Chapter 7 then talks about security, and ways of securing one’s computer beyond the standard default.

The later chapters deal with more advanced software and hardware hacks, from getting your computer to recognise you, to giving your computer a polycarbonate dye bath, or turning your macbook into a tablet, which is certainly not for the light-hearted guys.

In total, over 52 hacks, not everything will be for everyone, but structured in an easy-to-follow and non-dependent, non-sequential way to cherry pick the hacks that suite you. I found some interesting tips in the Unix section, but certainly a book you would want to keep and reference when you need to complete a certain goal, but more importantly, this book is only a start. It will encourage you to take different paths, from learning more about Unix, to finding your own terminal-tips for tweaking certain other aspects of your environment.

I found the book to be concise and well written, succinct and relevant, but for the niche folks who want to add some personality to their macs.

 

[box type="bio"]

Concise

Level

Prior Knowledge: Some general computing knowledge, you need to have used a mac for a while and know where to find things. Some unix and terminal experience couldn’t hurt either.

My rating : [/box]

Author: Matt Doyle
TitleMac Hacks
Publisher: O’Reilly Media

Year: March 2013 

 

By 

I am a lead iOS Architect for the startup Blend Systems, in San Francisco.
I involve myself in various technical user groups, as well as consult on numerous external projects, both in Australia and in the U.S and Europe. I am also a regular contributor on ProgrammableWeb, one of the most prominent API review websites, and I also regularly review technical books for O'Reilly Publishing.

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