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Today's interview is also being broadcast via the User Group Network

Okay folks: today we're going to take a side trip. This interview has nothing to do with design or Photoshop or even graphic arts. But it's an interview I've been wanting to do for a long time -- and one that every Mac user will enjoy.
David Pogue__ One of my favorite authors, Dave Barry is truly funny. I churn through his books as soon as they arrive on my doorstep. Right next to Barry, though, ranks David Pogue. Yes, Pogue is funny too. Very funny. But with his books I know I'll have the added benefit and pleasure of actually learning something valuable while I enjoy myself.

The Design Bookshelf chats with
David Pogue...

David Pogue's new "The iMac for Dummies" book finally got me off my duff to get on the horn and 'bother' David for that interview he's been promising. I get this mail from David talking about a new book, or new baby or something, and I answer back "David, let's do an interview" -- then he says "Okay, great, let me know!" and back and forth, and on and on.
__ David goes way back in the world of Macintosh, and most Mac users already are familiar with his Macworld columns, his appearances at Macworld Expos and his most famous MacWorld Macintosh Secrets book. He's been a long time supporter of user groups, and today he is even more popular than Guy Kawasaki. You might not know however that David has also been a frequent and outspoken supporter of Mac user groups and the user group community. David is an accomplished musician, performer, speaker, writer and entertainer, and we are very happy to share some time with him today...

DT&G: What a great coincidence... the new G4 arrives, iBook, OS 9 and all, and just in the nick of time -- I hear that new editions of all your books are on the way to help me figure out all this new stuff on this computer!
__ David, thank you so much for taking some time today for a chat! Was that introduction okay with you?

David: I'm afraid I can't answer that. It's almost impossible to speak when one's head is the size of a dirigible.

DT&G: (laughing out loud!) Okay... so much for introductions! David, you don't really think 'dummies' are the only ones reading your books do you?

David: What can I tell you? I never would have believed that the series called "for Dummies" would succeed with readers, either. And sure enough, every now and then, I get email from a reader who despises the name. Of course, I didn't make up the titles, but I'll say two things in their defense: first, it's supposed to be said lovingly, with a twinke in the eye. Second, these books sell like absolutely crazy, so obviously not everybody is offended.

DT&G: As a proud owner of a new G3 Powerbook, you can bet I jumped right into Chapter 10 of MacWorld Secrets. Surviving hotel rooms and airplanes is a must for all PowerBook owners, but as a PB veteran (since the days of the OutBound) myself, you never really told us "Why you should never really turn the thing off" ? you mean -- I shouldn't???

David: No, you should never turn a PowerBook or iBook off. You should sleep them all the time. You're wasting your own time every time you startup and sit there waiting for two minutes for the extensions to load.
__ Ever try to go through security at the airport where they ask you to turn the thing on? If you had to wait for the startup process, you'd miss your plane. The only time you should ever shut the thing down is when storing it for more than two weeks -- it's conceivable that your battery could run down while leaving it asleep.

DT&G: Whew! It's good to get that behind us.
__ So, let's talk about the book in general. Where in the world do you actually begin on such a huge book... or does it just start flowing?

PALM PILOTDavid: Actually, some books are obvious -- "The iBook for Dummies," for example, is a natural spinoff of the best-seller I ever had ("The iMac for Dummies"). Others cry out to be written just by my own observation. My PalmPilot book ("PalmPilot: the Ultimate Guide") came about that way -- I was watching some guys at a Macworld Expo playing with their PalmPilots, excitedly showing each other tricks and tips and software they had downloaded. I hadn't seen that much excitement over technology since MacPaint! So I knew I had to do a book on this thing.

DT&G: How long did it take to get the book out to the Printers?

David: Depends on the publisher. Traditional publishers, like Putnam/Berkley, who did my novel Hard Drive, don't get the book on the shelves until over a year after it has received the manuscript. Computer book publishers work much more quickly -- IDG Books, for example, generally gets a book out only eight weeks after it's finished being written.

DT&G: Did the editor or publisher cut anything you really wanted in the book?

David: I'm definitely fortunate -- my editors have always left my stuff alone, for the most part. One of my publishers has become extremely politically correct, sometimes to the point of silliness, and they cut jokes that refer to any kind of demographic group. Not jokes that put DOWN a demographic group, just refer to them. For example, I might say, "If you've spent much time in the armed services, you might set your Macintosh to display its menu bar clock using military time, where 9:20 pm shows up as 1720." And the editor will say, "I don't think we should risk offending military readers," or whatever.
__ Otherwise, though,what I really love is the comments made by the copy editors, not the actual editors. Copy editors have, over the years, taught me how to write!

DT&G: From time to time you're a bit irreverent with Apple ( the chapter: "System Folder: Trash Barge of the Macintosh")... do they give you any grief when you give'em a hard time?

David: Apple doesn't know who I am. I'm sure nobody in power there has heard of me or my books, so it's not much of a problem. :)

DT&G: Probably a good thing, reading some of the jokes in the book! But what about all those people won't read cover to cover? Care to guide us into the chapters, or areas you feel are most important?

David: All of my "for Dummies" books start out with a tutorial that everybody should follow sequentially -- the first couple of chapters. After that, it's reference. Dip in when it's appropriate. Enjoy the fun stuff.

DT&G: What's all this about non-computer Dummies books you've written? Is there life after computer books???

David: You bet! I also wrote Magic for Dummies -- I've always been a magician, and although I knew it would be a very small audience, I couldn't bear the thought of some other author getting that contract -- and with my old college buddy Scott Speck (a professional symphony conductor), I wrote Opera for Dummies and Classical Music for Dummies. They were labors of love, and they have small but extremely flattering followings.
__ The best thing about those books is that I will never, ever have to do new editions of them. :-)

DT&G: What's the most frequent question people ask you about the Mac?

David: How come I can't send pictures by email to my buddy with a Windows PC? (I finally wrote up a good answer and posted it on the Frequently Asked Questions page of my Web site! )

DT&G: Off topic for a moment, David, you also do some serious things with your life too. Aside from your activities in the computer field, you have a broad music background as well -- magician, computer consultant for Broadway, composer, even a musical or two tucked in there. What do you like to do best?

David: Last week, I judged the Macworld Music Contest -- the contest for the best songs written and created entirely on the Macintosh. We had 190 entries --in a contest that wasn't publicized at all except on the CD-ROMs that came with the newsstand issues of Macworld -- and I was really humbled.
__ You just can't believe how good this music was. Most of these guys (and they were all guys) have more talent in their little toenail then I have in my whole body -- but, like all musicians, they're struggling. Struggling financially, but most of all, struggling just to be heard. It made me realize that I made the right choice, financially and family-wise, when I abandoned Broadway theater conducting in 1990 and went full-time into writing.
__ But judging the contest still gave me a pang for the thrill of composing music. I still spend one month a year conducting, at a summer theatre on Cape Cod. Otherwise, the only music making left in my life is sitting at the piano between chapters. I have a feeling that, once I'm out of my 30s and I'm confident that my kids will be able to afford college, I'll be able to lighten up on the books and get back more into my music.

Ladies and Gentlemen: DAVID POGUEDT&G: Care to comment on the rumor that your novel Hard Drive had some remote relation to a rather largish evil software company in the North West who makes operating systems for 'other' computers?

David: What do you mean? No, you missed the whole point. The evil company was supposed to be Microsoft. :-)
__ Actually, that's kind of another thing I would love to do if I had the time. Novels don't pay much, and they're very risky -- unlike computer books, you have to write the entire novel before you find out whether or not any publisher will buy it. But Hard Drive had a lot of fans, and I was devastated when the book went out of print this year after a great six-year run. I have a new novel halfway finished, but it will probably remain that way for another year or so at least. I'm soon to be launching a new series of computer books that will keep me extremely busy.

DT&G: ... and about that "Microsloth Joke Book" . . . do you get any grief about that?

David: Same story. The book just didn't even show up on Microsoft's radar. Thank goodness!

DT&G: Okay. Seriously. What is your biggest peeve with the Mac. You can say it here... we're an independent publication.

David: Funny -- I just did a column for Macworld on things Apple could learn from Windows. (You can read it at And things Microsoft could learn from the Mac OS, too. I like being able to press a single key to jump to the Finder and simultaneously hide all other open windows, which you can do in Windows. I wish I could copy a file, not just its name, using the Copy and Paste commands.
__ But most of all, I wish Apple weren't so hostile to outsiders. Nobody gets anything out of Apple, even if it's in Apple's best interests. When I was writing my iBook book, I couldn't even get answers from Apple, let alone a prerelease iBook. Bottom line, though, is that I can live with the arrogance as long as the products continue to be this amazing!

DT&G: David, you didn't want me to mention your web site, did you?

David: No! No! That is a completely secret Web site!! If your readers found out, they would discover that my PalmPilot book is for sale there at 40 percent off, and I would be ruined. They would see the new feature, Cute Picture of the Week (CPOW), and get intimate glimpses of our kids doing hilarious things, thus violating my privacy. And they would make me regret that I refuse to put advertising on my Web page.

DT&G: Okay, okay... I won't mention it! But do share one closing word of wisdom or advice for our readers, okay?

David: We Mac fans had some difficult times in the last four years. For me, the greatest dissolutionment came from the completely one-sided Apple reporting we saw in generally respectable publications. If you could compare today's Apple with the company described in those articles -- "doomed," "certainly dead," and so on -- you'd find yourself unable to believe what you read in technology articles from that moment forward.
__ My advice is -- trust yourself above all. Use the best tool, remembering that the experts who write about, say, publishing, generally aren't the people who do it every day. Put another way: think different. :)

DT&G: Excellent! David, thank you, again, for sharing some time with us today. It's been a real pleasure to have finally caught up with you for this interview. And you can bet that "Macs for Dummies" and its children, "The iMac for Dummies"and "The iBook for Dummies", will be close at hand as I rediscover these new computers.
__ David, will you join us again some time?

David: Count on it -- it's been my pleasure.

DT&G: Folks, let's hear it for David Pogue! (Loud applause can be heard.)
__ And remember -- Macs for Dummies, and iMacs for Dummies aren't just for Dummies. They're for everyone who uses a Mac and wants to have a fun time learning everything you thought you knew about Macs, but didn't.

Check out some of David's other titles too, we guarantee there's something in each that you will enjoy reading and learning: Magic for Dummies, PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide, Macworld Mac SECRETS(4th Ed.), Macs for Dummies (6th Ed.), MORE Macs for Dummies (3rd Ed.), Hard Drive (a novel), The Weird Wide Web, Classical Music for Dummies, Opera for Dummies, The Microsloth Joke Book, The Great Macintosh Easter Egg Hunt, Tales from the Tech Line, The iMac for Dummies, and regardless of what David says, you should go and visit his website:
You shouldn't miss David's Song Spoofs
" Stealing for Tomorrow" or what Apple and Microsoft can learn from each other... read " The Repeal of Moore's Law," ... get some great tips and insights at David's FAQ or check out David's Outdated software "closet" sale
and more at:

Also see:
PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide (2nd Edition)
The Ibook for Dummies the latest craze -- the iMac "to go"!
The Macworld Macintosh Secrets Book
The Great Mac Easter Egg Hunt great stuff you didn't know could be found on your Mac
The Microsloth Joke Book : A Satire
Tales from the Tech Line
Hilarious Strange-But-True Stories from Computer Technical-Support Hotlines
David's "non-computer" book: Opera for Dummies
If you like these you'll love Owen W. Linzmayer's Mac Bathroom Reader

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