October 2003

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iPod: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer, O'Reilly (www.missingmanuals.com) $24.

The little foldout pamphlet that comes with the incredibly powerful iPod doesn't even count as a manual, so be grateful for this comprehensive book that covers all three generations of iPods. You need this book if you want to use your iPod like a grownup. That means you'll learn not only how to use the iPod, but how to make it behave like a Palm Pilot, game machine, e-book, and firewire drive. I found the index helpful in reviewing simple operations, but then I got caught up with “I didn't know it could do that!” With wit and humor, tips and tricks, the author takes you through all of the iPod's functions and shows you how to get the most out of the software that makes iPod so powerful, moving you from the iPod to your computer to burning CDs. Getting stuff on and off the iPod is a lot easier, a lot faster, and much more fun with this book as a guide.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Thomas

Adobe Acrobat 6 Standard, Adobe Systems, Inc. (www.adobe.com/acrobat) $299 or $99 upgrade

Because Adobe carbonized Acrobat for OS X, you may think you can do without version 6, which is native to OS X. But there are so many new and powerful features in this version, that it's a must-have for anyone creating PDF files, especially in a workgroup environment.

The new toolbar makes accessing tools easier, provides buttons for creating PDF files from single and multiple files (even screen captures), creating PDF files and e-mailing them, adding digital signatures, and adding comments. Acrobat 6 adds two buttons to Office, Convert to Adobe PDF and Convert to Adobe PDT and Email. This is much easier to use than going through the OS Print command.

Use the Properties toolbar to edit the way functions behave.
Powerful reviewing tools make it possible for Acrobat 6 users to comment on PDF files and export those annotations, which are returned to the sender via e-mail. Search features are also improved, letting you search a folder of Adobe PDF files for a particular word or phrase. A new Properties toolbar makes it easier to change the properties of many tools and objects such as comments, links and bookmarks. Perhaps the coolest feature is the Read Aloud command. Select this command and Acrobat reads the text on the page -- with surprising accuracy!

For such a powerful, useful, even indispensable application that makes your work (securely) available to anyone anywhere on any computer (it still does this), Acrobat 6 is the ultimate bargain. Long the company you love to love, Adobe has given its customers another application that works as well for the single user as for the corporate giant.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Thomas