It's time to let the electronic cat out of the proverbial bag. I'm writing my first book, although after 4.3 MB of TidBITS I suppose it's not quite a novel concept. As you may have guessed from the title above, the book is specifically aimed at providing information on how to find, set up, and use an Internet connection from a Macintosh without bogging down in Unix details or network protocols. To that end, the book will come with a free disk of informational files and the free and shareware Mac software that you need on the net. Along the way I hope to answer all those nagging questions about sending email to and from the commercial services, where to get what sort of feeds, and that kind of thing. And, of course, I want to write about the neatest Internet services (making sure to cover all the Macintosh services especially), and that's where I could use some help. If you come across something truly neat or weird, like an Internet horoscope server, or a way of telnetting to your inner child, please drop me a line.
However, I ask that you please don't send me email asking questions like where you can get a feed in Cleveland (well, probably the FreeNet there) or how to set up MacTCP. As time permits, I do try to answer questions in public forums like Info-Mac or comp.sys.mac.comm on Usenet if more qualified people don't step forward.
The book should be available this fall from Hayden, although I hope to excerpt parts of it in TidBITS before then. I'll let you all know when it's available, and we should of course have special pricing for TidBITS readers. In addition, I'm looking into different ways that the book can become an electronic resource for the Internet community.
In the meantime, if you can't wait to buy a book about the Internet, I recommend Ed Krol's "The Whole Internet Users's Guide and Catalog" from O'Reilly & Associates (ISBN: 1-56592-025-2). Ed covers the technical details of how the Internet works and explores the necessary Unix programs like mail, nn, telnet, and FTP in great detail, all while retaining a light and readable style. I discovered much good information in those sections because I learned Unix by osmosis, which seldom provides a complete education. Ed also lists a whole slew of Internet services toward the end of the book - there's certain to be something of interest to everyone. However, the book's strength is also its weakness - because "The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog" is an unparalleled guide to the Unix programs in use on the Internet, it fails to provide the platform-specific information a Macintosh user would want, both in terms of software to use and resources to check out (it doesn't even mention TidBITS!). There's nothing that says if you use the Internet you have to use Unix when a Mac serves as well, if not better, for many people. So that's my bias, and I'm writing a book about it. :-) "The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog" lists for $24.95 and should be readily available from your local bookstore. You can also send email to <email@example.com> for comments or suggestions on Ed's book.