I am a tinkerer. I love to play around with things, see how they work, make modifications, hack. I come by this trait honestly. My dad is an electronic tech by trade and tinkerer by nature. Dad likes to "hack" electronics. In fact, our first color television was a Heathkit that dad built himself. Dad always had a table full of electronics that he was working on bought from flea markets and ham radio shows. He always had a Popular Mechanics open to a new project. But now instead of a table of electronics, I have a Macbook. Instead of Popular Mechanics, I have The Big Book of Apple Hacks from O'Reilly.
The Big Book of Apple Hacks is indeed big. Chris Seibold (a senior writer at the Apple Matters web site) collected (with the assistant of 27 contributors) 131 hacks (and many sidebar "mini-hacks") and logically organized them into 15 chapters. The hacks range from simple software code changes to get-out-the-soldering-iron hardware mods. But all the hacks are interesting and most are useful.
Beginning with the usual admonishment to back up your file, Big Book of Apple Hacks actually goes on to show you how via hack #1. Good advise since The Big Book of Apple Hacks quickly goes into hacking .plist files, OS X (mostly Leopard), command-line, network, iPods, iPhones, laptops, even your car!
The hacks, ranging from a few paragraphs to several pages, are well laid out with clear instructions. The illustrations used provide additional clarification. Most hacks are useful and optimize your system, but a few are pretty fanciful.
The hacks in this book are not new and can be found in different forms on the web. But this collection presents these hacks in a consistent way that are easy to read and understand.
The Big Book of Apple Hacks is a real time suck, in a very good way. I can see my dad and I now spending time infrom of our Macbooks hacking away. I would recommend this book to all Mac users, but more experienced users will benefit the most.
O'Reilly is one of the premier publishers of tech books, offer discounts to members of Mac User Groups, so run, do not walk, to your group and get this book.