Sunday, July 22, 2007

iPod Fully Loaded by Andy Ihnatko

iPod Fully Loaded by Andy Ihnatko


While I'm sure Andy has an iPhone, this excellent book was written when the iPhone was only an apple in Steve's eye, Andy does a great job of helping the average user tweak some extra features from their iPod. Those suffering from iPhone envy will find some solace in Andy's tips. This book is best for techheads who want to impress their friends, families and associates with all the incredibly cool things they can do with their iPod. iPods have evolved into mini PDAs that can do practically anything (it's the inputing that's the challenge!)

The first few chapters of the book were obvious tips that even beginner iPod'ers know and would annoy the intermediate to advanced audience the book is designed to reach. We all know we can copy songs from our CDs to our iPod. Yawn. Another distraction of the book is the annoying quips and too much personal info about Andy. Sorry, Andy, I'll read your blog to find out your opinion about Battlestar Galactica or the Simpsons, but I don't want it in a book about how to use an iPod. No offense, just not interested. Also, Andy played a bit fast and loose with disclosure on the risks of copyrights. It may be his opinion that some things should be legal, but in the murky legal environment today, more warnings of the risks of copying copyrighted materials should have been discussed.

Just like diamond surrounded by unimpressive coal, there are true gems in the book that I was able to immediately put to use. For example. Andy discussed programs for the Mac and PC that allow you to digitize to voice your emails and sync them with your iPod. I definitely downloaded some of his great tools and now I can laugh at those iPhone people because my iPod is almost as impressive. Almost. Also Andy does a great job of explaining how to use Automator in Tiger to get some really amazing features of your iPod working for you such as "listening" to a website. Take that iPhone! The most impressive iPod tricks Andy teaches is converting any text file to audio for listening, or simply easily breaking up the file for transport to the iPod. Many of the tricks don't require software, but use some neat ideas Andy has for existing tools such as taking a screen shot of a subway map and then putting it on your iPod.

As stated earlier, I quickly got annoyed by Andy's personal tips and societal opinions. Not tips on how to use your iPod, but tips on various SciFi TV shows. Again, Yawn. The tips interfered with the flow of the book because they were visual annoyance on the page. I expect those sidebars to give me exceptionally useful information. It's Andy's style as the "42nd most beloved industry personality" I'll give him leeway because he is an industry veteran and promoted the "Macquarium," just like I give my grandfather when he tells me story about the war (which one?)

Pros: Great tips to use your iPod to it's absolute potential. Great cure for iPhone envy.
Cons: Andy's style, which gets in the way of the information and artificially increases the length of the book.

Four out of Five Dogcows


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Book Review: Tech Savvy Real Estate Agent

The Tech Savvy Real Estate Agent

While this book was primarily written for Real Estate agents, the technology advice is applicable to any self-interested person who works with an established client base such as a mobile salesperson. The advice covers not just the programs to use, but how to set up your home office, and even some tips on how to use your cell phone.

As a technology consultant, I agreed with about 50-60% of his advice, partially because any book on technology is outdated the day after purchased. However, most of the advice was structural and will stand the test of time regardless of what program is used. His advice was extremely biased and assumed his way was the only way of doing something. The author takes us deep into his business operations and the reader can either do it his way or find another way. Ideally, the book should have given the reader multiple option for achieving their technology goals, especially when there isn't universal agreement on the idea.

Unfortunately, like the agent who quickly moves you through a house you expect to live in for the next 20 years, the author gave only a brief overview and lacked in the specific details on how to do something. The CD wasn't much help either. For example, he went into great detail on how to modify your website, but gave no advice or direction on how to do it. The book is designed to make you "savvy" but not an expert!

I'd recommend this book to any agent who hasn't quite figured out how to put their cell phone on vibrate or is still using a AOL or Earthlink email address on their business card. Agents who understand how to use email to keep in contact with their customers, have their own domain (and know what a domain is), and know how to create PDFs would find this book boring and would scratch their head and state "Well, duh, that's obvious." This book is for the agent that didn't grow up with technology.

Pros: Gives a good overview of how technology can help any salesperson, but in particular real estate agents
Cons: Very simplistic and often lack details on how to do something, and the alternatives