Archive for the 'Books' Category

June 2nd, 2015

Mac Backups Redux

Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide cover

The first Mac backup software I encountered, way back in the early 1990s (so, System 6 era) was a program called Redux. That’s a wonderful word, redux—it’s an adjective meaning “brought back” or “revived.” So it’s appropriate for the name of a backup app, and also appropriate to describe my latest project, a book called Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide.

I’ve been writing about Mac backups for more than 10 years, and it’s one of my favorite tech topics. My Take Control books on backups have gone through a number of titles and editions, but the most recent incarnation, Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, was last updated in 2013, and was definitely showing its age. Unfortunately, there was no room in the Take Control publishing schedule to update it this year. So I offered to “adopt” the book and revive it myself. I hired my own editor, tech reviewer, and so on, updated the book thoroughly, and released it with a new title. The result is Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide, the first in what I hope will be a long and successful series of Joe On Tech books.

I’m super excited about this new book, and I hope you’ll check it out! You can read more about the project in my Joe On Tech post Protect Your Mac’s Data with Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide.

June 26th, 2014

Take Control of Automating Your Mac

Take Control of Automating Your Mac coverCall me crazy, but I don’t like doing unnecessary work. I already have more enough work that is necessary, and too few hours in the day. So I’ve long been in the habit of finding ways to streamline and automate everyday tasks that my Mac can do just as well as (or even better than) I can. My new book, Take Control of Automating Your Mac, shows you how to do the same thing.

This is my 45th Take Control title, and it’s one of my favorites. It was fun to write (and believe me, some of them were not!), and as I worked on it I frequently took breaks to do exactly what I was recommending—find and implement shortcuts for tedious, mechanical tasks. So in fact the book became easier to write as I went along, since I was following more of my own advice!

Usually when people talk about Mac automation, they mean Automator or AppleScript. And the book does talk about those, but not as a primary focus. It turns out there are tons of ways to simplify common tasks that don’t require any programming or even a geeky disposition. And many of them are built right into OS X—text replacement, keyboard shortcuts, Spotlight, Mail rules, and so on. If you want to get fancier (and I know I do), there are third-part automation apps that can do more things, and do them more easily, so I talk about many of my favorites, including LaunchBar, TextExpander, Keyboard Maestro, and Nisus Writer Pro. (That’s right, I think of my preferred word processor as an automation tool, because its built-in macro languages lets me perform everyday writing tasks much more easily.)

Anyone who uses a Mac can find lots of time-saving tips in this book. Spend a little time learning and setting things up, and you can reap the rewards for years. Plus, we’ve included coupons for eight popular Mac automation apps, collectively worth more than $60 in discounts, so we’re practically paying you to buy the book!

I hope you like it. Here’s a little video trailer I made to introduce the book.

April 25th, 2014

Take Control of the Cloud

Take Control of the Cloud coverI’m delighted to announce the publication of my latest book, Take Control of the Cloud. This is a topic I’d been discussing with Take Control Books for about two years, but what with one thing and another, we could never make space for it in the publishing schedule. Well, it’s finally done and I’m really pleased with the result.

The premise of the book is that lots of people (including some of those who already use cloud-based services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Docs) don’t have a clear idea of what the Cloud is, how it works, whether it’s safe, or how to make good decisions about which of the zillions of services to sign up for. When I speak to user groups and other audiences about online topics, the questions I get tell me that there’s a lot of confusion, anxiety, and misinformation about what’s out there and how different services compare. And that problem is only getting worse as cloud providers and services proliferate.

So, this book is my attempt to explain the Cloud in plain English, for ordinary, nontechnical readers. Unlike most of my books, this one isn’t heavy on step-by-step instructions and technical details. Instead, it’s something you can sit back and read at the beach or in bed. I lay out the answers to common questions and offer advice for choosing and using several major types of cloud services. I give you the lowdown on privacy and security issues (spoiler: it’s scary out there) and even talk about the “personal cloud,” which is a way of providing online services for yourself without all the security worries of public services.

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t quite get the Cloud, don’t worry—you’re not alone. And I’m here to help you make sense of it. I hope you find the book helpful! Here’s a brief video trailer.

August 30th, 2013

An Online Privacy Primer

An acquaintance sent me an email message today remarking about how prolific I’ve been—he said it seems as though every time he turns around there’s another book out by Joe Kissell. It’s true that I have a new book, and it’s also true that “I have a new book” is as rare a statement as “I just got a haircut.” (Which reminds me, it’s been about a month…and…scheduled.)

What’s my secret? I’ll tell you: I don’t waste time blogging. Life is too short, and there are too many books to be written. In fact, I’m supposed to be writing two (or five, depending on how you count) at this very moment.

But this particular new book is, I think, especially noteworthy. It’s called Take Control of Your Online Privacy, and I think it’s one of the best and most important things I’ve written. Here, let me tell you a bit about it personally:

If you’ve ever wondered whether the information you send and receive over the Internet is really private—or what to do if it isn’t—this book is for you. It’s written for the intelligent layperson, not for propellerheads. I hope you find it useful!

The Internet is a scary place. Stay safe out there.