Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

FaceBook: The Missing Manual a Very Useful Resource

Charles Moore - 2008.04.15 - Tip Jar

Rating: 3 out of 4

net4mac, which we looked at yesterday, has the makings of a useful nexus for Mac Web denizens, but for many, one of the more general social networking environments will still have broad appeal. Heck, even my local supper time TV news show has a Facebook site. While MySpace still claims to have a lot more members than Facebook does, it has remained largely a teen and tween cyber-hangout, while, as I noted yesterday, Facebook is a much more cosmopolitan demographic, with more than half of new Facebook members being of the 25-and-older crowd.

Facebook is not just an online chatroom on steroids. In addition to cyber-schmoozing, you can also post blogs (called "Notes"), buy and sell stuff through Facebook's Marketplace, look for a job or advertise one also in Marketplace, network with colleagues by subscribing to "feeds" and "notations", take polls, advertise using Facebook's Pages environment, and more.

Facebook: The Missing ManualIn short, there's an awful lot to Facebook, more than enough to provide a rationale for one of the newest volumes in Pogue Press/O'Reilly's expanding Missing Manuals series, E.A. Vander Veen's Facebook: The Missing Manual, in which the author endeavors to provide a comprehensive a user's guide to Facebook.

"Fads come and go, and I'm not easily impressed," says Vander Veen, "but what Facebook does under the covers astonishes me. If readers have a clear idea of what they want from the site and are careful about protecting their privacy, they can get any enormous amount of benefit from Facebook."

Researching and writing this book turned Vander Veen into a Facebook fan. "I'm a Luddite by nature, and never expected to get caught up in Facebook on a personal level," she explains, "but that's exactly what happened. The mom's group I was involved in needed a new online 'home.' There were other sites I could have used, but I figured administering the group on Facebook would put the site through its paces. I was actually shocked by how useful the site is for keeping up with a lot of geographically-linked members."

This book walks you through signing up for a Facebook account, networking on Facebook, going shopping, joining groups, finding or listing a job, sharing "virtual hugs", playing games, and posting ads in Pages or the Marketplace. You can look up old friends, find new ones, and decide who you want to keep track of, contact other members by virtually "poking" them or leaving notes on their message boards, get automatic updates from Facebook friends and send updates of your own, participate in groups of particular interest, and meet up with members face-to-face. You use Facebook as a collaboration tool to keep team members, coworkers, clients, and projects up-to-date and find out how to ensure your privacy.

There now two distinct styles in the recently facelifted Missing Manuals series: the more classic motif used with titles like Mac OS X Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual being relatively large, thick books with traditional serif fonts and grayscale illustrations, plus a newer format that debuted with the 5th edition of iPod: The Missing Manual, used as well with iPhone: The Missing Manual, and now for Facebook: The Missing Manual, with a more compact size, a more clipped and less conversational prose style, sans-serif fonts, and full-color illustrations and sidebar boxes. I have to say that I personally prefer the more traditional style of the classic Missing Manuals editions, but presumably the less-prolix and more colorful approach tests better with certain target demographics.

Style aside, this book, which is targeted to "adults of all ages", can help you get the most of of Facebook and guide you through the complexities of Facebook's privacy rights options so you can get it with the least amount of risk.

Facebook: The Missing Manual is structured in four parts containing several chapters each, plus an appendix and an index.

  • Part 1, From Signing Up To Staying Connected, includes chapters on Getting Started, Joining A Network, Finding And Adding Friends, Sending Messages To Friends, and Exchanging Automatic Updates.
  • Part II, Interest Groups And Shopping, has chapters on Participating In Groups, Facebook And The Real World: In-Person Events, and Going Shopping which covers the Facebook Marketplace, placing an ad, finding stuff, in answering an ad.
  • Part III, Doing Business With Facebook, has chapters on Hiring And Getting Hired, Collaborating On Projects via Facebook, and Advertising on Facebook as well as taking polls.
  • Part IV, Privacy And Power Tools has chapters titled Customizing Facebook and Adding Applications, Playing It Safe: Facebook Privacy, and Facebook Mobile.
  • Part 5, the Appendix, is on getting help.

Facebook: The Missing Manual sells for $19.99 in both the US and Canada. I learned a lot while reading it for this review, and it should be worth the modest price to any Facebook fan.

The book's price also includes 45 days free access to the Safari Books Online edition of Facebook: The Missing Manual.

Three LEMs out of four.

Facebook: The Missing Manual
E. A. Vander Veer
First Edition: January 2008
Pages: 268
ISBN 10: 0-596-51769-6 | ISBN 13:9780596517694
Price: $19.99
PDF version: $19.99
UK: £12.50

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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