honestpuck writes "With an increasing number of people disenchanted with the flaws, bugs and security holes in the world's most popular web browser (still) switching to the current open source champion, Firefox, it would seem timely to release a volume titled Don't Click on the Blue E. The number of books on Firefox is increasing by leaps and bounds - so far I've read three, fortunately all have their place. Don't Click on the Blue E is O'Reilly's latest entry into the market. It is targeted at the absolute beginner. I found it to have the usual O'Reilly quality: well-written, well-edited and well-designed." Read on for the rest of Williams' review.
That said, it is not without flaws. I hate most of the first chapter and see it as a waste of space. 35 pages mainly of history (some of the Net, and some of browsers) is almost self-indulgent. Certainly almost all buyers would not miss the information if it was reduced to two or three pages in the introduction or first chapter. There is some useful reasoning to justify the shift from Internet Explorer to Firefox at the end, but the rest needs a good going over with the red pencil.
I also found that for a book titled Don't Click on the Blue E, there was not enough information of the "in IE you did it this way, and in Firefox you do it this way" type. The book is a good entry-level guide to Firefox but I would have hoped for more guidance for people switching from IE to Firefox.
I'm getting a little ahead of myself. First, it has to be said that O'Reilly have done away with their usual cover and given us a bright orange cover with a graphic of a fox about to bite a familiar icon composed of a blue 'e.' I like it, this is definitely an O'Reilly book targeted outside their usual technically savvy market and deserves a different cover style.
The book feels light, despite the 250 pages, and is split into only five chapters and two appendices. As you can imagine, each chapter is a huge chunk of information, but the light writing style combined with a look that is heavy on illustrations and sidebars make it an easy read. Once again, this is a departure from O'Reilly's usual style but well suited to the likely reader. I also thought that they had used a lower grade paper than usual, probably to keep the retail cost down. As this is not a reference book to be kept for years, I didn't see this as a flaw.
I've already mentioned the first chapter; the second is devoted to installing and configuring Firefox. This is full of useful information and good illustrations to explain how to set up the browser in detail. The third chapter is how to use and manage it, covering topics such as the toolbars, the search box and adding engines, the menus, tabbed browsing and pop up blocking. The fourth deals with the add ons - plugins, themes and extensions. The final chapter is a bit of a grab bag. Titled "Advanced Firefox," it covers such topics as Live Bookmarks and searching in pages. Each chapter has a well-researched and useful "Where to Learn More" section pointing to web sites with tools and information.
This is probably not a book for the average Slashdot reader. You may like to buy a copy so you can lend it to Uncle Bob or Aunt Susan after you spend another wasted afternoon cleaning the viruses and spyware out of their PC, but I doubt you'll want a copy for yourself. Taken as a whole this is a well-written, thorough book for the absolute beginner with one or two minor flaws. Despite the book's flaws I still find myself recommending it. If you would like a better look yourself, O'Reilly have their usual page of contents and two excerpts from the book.
I would recommend this book over Firefox and Thunderbird Garage for more serious readers. Garage has an occasional quirky tone that might annoy some -- for others it might be a benefit to learning. It also has a little more detail in some areas. Of course if you want a book that covers both applications, then Garage is the only book I've found. Don't Click on the Blue e is a good volume for a beginner who doesn't need the coverage of both Firefox and Thunderbird of the "Garage" book and would like a little more detail.
You can purchase Don't Click on the Blue e from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.