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Internet Explorer Books Media Mozilla The Internet Software Book Reviews

Don't Click on the Blue E 313

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.
Don't Click on the Blue E
author Scott Granneman
pages 254
publisher O'Reilly
rating 7
reviewer Tony Williams
ISBN 0596009399
summary Good guide to Firefox for beginners with some minor flaws

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 Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Don't Click on the Blue E

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  • by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:41PM (#13006176)
    This is probably not a book for the average Slashdot reader.
    Sooo.. what's this doing on the front page then? Ahhhh... I see:
    You can purchase Don't Click on the Blue e from [htp:// urceid=39391960&isbn=0596009399]
    I dunno about the rest of you, but I don't go spending $20 buying 250-page, semi-technical books to toss at friends and family. I simply install Firefox and spend 5-minutes explaining why they should use it. Anyone "in the know" doesn't need this book and the people who should read it don't wander into that section of the bookstore. So again... what's the point?
    • Well even though (most) slashdot readers are beyond this book, we all have family members and friends that could use a little direction. think of this post like one of those "advice to parents" articles in your local newspaper. ;)
      • 254 Pages worht of advice? My god!! If they'd come up with a Firefox cheatsheet perhaps with a small section on the back on how to find more detailed information on the web.

        Either you want to know the basics (ie no more than 50 pages worth but ideally 15-25 pages) or you want to know the details (ie 250-1500 pages worth) a 250 page for dummies book is far to much. Dummies should have to read that much, and it ends up being mostly fluf anyway.

        • by Eric Giguere ( 42863 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @03:32PM (#13006773) Homepage Journal

          Trust me, it's not easy to write a non-techie book. You may think there's no market for those kinds of books, but the fact that millions of copies of the "For Dummies" and "Complete Idiot's" series have been sold would indicate otherwise. You can't blame O'Reilly for jumping into the consumer market, it's a much larger pie than the techie market.

          I am surprised to see a non-techie book reviewed here, though. Definitely not the intended audience! But then again, every techie I know has a non-techie spouse/friend/parent, so it's good to have books to recommend to them when you get tired of answering questions :-)

    • I dono about YOU but I dont go buying books on Slashdot that are linked with an AFFILIATE ID so someone gets a kickback.
      Kudos to whoever submitted the story, nothing like free advertising, and shame on the editor that published it with the Source ID in the querystring

      Unless of course that is slashdots ID , in that case great part of submarine income on Slashdots part

      Every penny counts ? No but the melt real nice with a benzomatic
    • Book reviews != recommendations. A harsh review can be just as useful as a glowing one, if it helps you make a purchasing decision.
      • Absolutely. No author I know likes bad reviews, but a reviewer that explains why they didn't like a book -- because they thought it was about X or it didn't talk enough about Y or it spent too much time on Z -- is providing useful information. Even a bad review can lead to a sale. It's the non-constructive reviews that blather on but really say nothing more than "this book sucks" that are (in my mind) unhelpful.

        Look at the reviews on Amazon for Head First Java [], which is definitely not your standard book.

    • I dunno about the rest of you, but I don't go spending $20 buying 250-page, semi-technical books to toss at friends and family.

      I actually did this for a family member who would call me twice a day after I gave them a computer.

      I bought them a book on Firefox and a book on Windows XP. Now I don't waste my time on 'problems' like I can't find my music files or how do I a print a photo.
    • Because the average Slashdot reader hears so much about "clicking the blue E", and might wonder whether a book about not doing so is any good. Or at least enough of us might wonder to warrant a frontpage feature - I don't think the criterion is "average" (though many stories make me wonder if there are any criteria at all). Now lots of Slashdotters can read the review to know the book is skippable. If only more frontpage stories were such timesavers.
    • Because most people in the know DO have family members and friends that are not in the know. I don't pay attention to such books, but now, based on this review, I can recommend it to those who might need it.

      All in all, a very helpful review, even though I won't read the book myself.
  • by SIGALRM ( 784769 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:41PM (#13006178) Journal
    t would seem timely to release a volume titled Don't Click on the Blue E
    I too avoid the "Blue E", but what's with the Firefox logo? Is that Papa Smurf's head? A salamander feeding off a giant blueberry? Flipped upside-down it sorta looks like a redhead getting choked.

    And what's that silly fox [] gumming, Lithuania?
  • Click on the Blue E.
  • Clicking the Blue E.

    one small click for a man, one giant step back in the war on drugs.
  • Good thing eBay uses a red "e".
  • faking users out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:46PM (#13006236)
    I am and IT director at an ISP and when we build new laptops or desktops we deploy FireFox with the Blue E icon instead of the Firefox Icon. We even go so far as to make to the default page msn.c0m. They usually never notice.... :)
    • by DaHat ( 247651 )
      Out of curiosity... what do you do in the off chance that a user complains that the internet isn't working right... like a website requiring ActiveX or claiming that their browser is not compatible?
      • I simply tell people the site is poorly programmed and (if it requires ActiveX) has no consideration for your security.

        Look, Firefox has about 8%-9% of the browswer market now. In *any other business*, if you said you would deliberately design a store that would prevent 8%-9% of your potential customers from coming in, you would be fired on the spot for negligence.
    • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @03:13PM (#13006581)
      when we build new laptops or desktops we deploy FireFox with the Blue E icon instead of the Firefox Icon.

      Every time I read one of these "I'm protecting the user by not telling them" posts I can't help but think you're doing a disservice to them, your business and the mozilla team.

      My ISP, for example, makes sure on their pages that they prefer Firefox and encourage you to download it. Don't you think that's the more honest way to do things?

      If I were a customer and found out you "tricked" me, as it were, you'd lose a customer.

      • If I were a customer and found out you "tricked" me, as it were, you'd lose a customer.

        I would guess that most users, especially the clueless ones, would prefer to be tricked into using a different browser than tricked by using IE and getting loaded with adware, spyware, and viruses.
    • For most users, you could probably make the default page and they'd never notice.

      I'm not sure that faking is really the best policy, though - too close to the whole "security through obscurity" mindset. On the other hand, users HAVE come to associate the blue E with the Internet.

      I remember a flamewar on Usenet, where half of those involved insisted that they were on the web and therefore HTML was valid in posts. The other half wanted to roast them over a fire, partly for the ignorance an

    • I wouldn't deceive anyone. If I got a non-tech user to switch, I'd just tell them that the Firefox icon was the new, improved way to get on the Internet, and the Blue E was old, clunky, and obsolete.
  • They include a link to a website that you can purchase the book from, assuming of course you are using IE to read this review, then the book would be moot.
  • How about.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by llManDrakell ( 897726 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:51PM (#13006309)
    "Don't press the green power button" Would solve a lot more of the problems I have to fix than simply shying away from IE.
  • I mean I know there seems to be a book about everything but really how hard is it to use a browser. Now there are always tweaks and stuff that can make it better but I don't see how people are writing so many books about Mozilla stuff. I mean I even code various extensions for diffrent Mozilla projects (Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.) and I didn't even have to buy a book for that. I am also guessing that the books aren't covering developing details.
    • I think it's because most people aren't aware of the alternative and this book was written to get them set up with the new (to them) browser.
    • "just because your a schizophrenic doesn't mean people arn't really out to get you."

      Not only that, but they aren't really there.

      "There is a man that sits in the corner of my room.
      No one else sees him.
      When I tell them that there is a man that sits in the corner of my room, they beat me."
      "We beat him".
      "Oh go away.
      You're not really there.
      Don't come back another day.
      Ple-ease." (Old, old song, 1968 or so.)
  • Site user statistics (Score:3, Informative)

    by harmonica ( 29841 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:53PM (#13006334)
    People may be switching over to Firefox, but my site still has 55% IE users and 40% Mozilla and Firefox. And my site has primarily technical content, so I expect a higher percentage of IE on sites with content addressing the average web user.
  • by goodcow ( 654816 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @02:53PM (#13006336)
    Don't Click on the B&N Affiliate SPAM Link
    • Why?

      This is a question I seem to have to pose more often on Slashdot. I see so many knee-jerk reactions like this (and also to "privacy issues" that really aren't issues).

      If you wanted to buy the book, what harm would it cause to buy it using the link provided? The price is the same to you. Someone makes some money: Either the person that took the time to review the book, or Slashdot. (In this case I happen to know it is Slashdot.)

      If you don't trust the reviewer and you think they are biased, then you wo
  • Why oh why should it take 254 pages to explain what the book title does in 6 words (5 and a letter)? If my mom (or yours for that matter, heh) asks for advice, I tell them where to get a good browser, they install it, and they run it. End of story. No need to spend twenty bucks and read a novel to figure it out.
  • Better not click on any other browser icon either. If you need a book to show you how to use a browser then you are going to fall victim to spyware, malware, and other wares just as easily as the IE user would because you are now the security hole.
    • How could this possibly be insightful?

      If you don't read a book, website, or other source of information about web browers, then how are you going to learn anything about using a web browser?

      Web browsing isn't genetically transferred knowledge, and I don't care how good you are at kicking tires and banging things until they work, if you know exactly where to go and exactly which option to set, you'll do much better than the crowd that is told, "Click on that thing and mess around with it until you get an i
  • Fantastic, I just went through all the trouble of skinning Firefox to look exactly like IE, and even changed the desktop icon to look like IE, so that my parents would quit launching IE instead of Firefox like I tell them, and now this book comes out. I just know as soon as my parents see the title while browsing for "helpful" computer books that I might be interested they'll never click on that damn E, and all my effort to stealth-install Firefox for them will have been wasted. I might as well shoot myse
  • And it took me here []. I don't get it though, what's so bad about that that they have to write a whole book about it? Weird.
  • For starters, while I won't slam this book without reading it, I think that it's come too late. Firefox has gained a good amount of momentum that its popularity will spread more by my next point:

    Although this isn't a universal constant, I find that books like this are usually targeted at a group of people who generally don't buy any sort of computer books. It's like making a painting for the blind in a way, when the people who need to know this don't typically browse the computers and technology section at
  • by caffeinex36 ( 608768 ) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @03:15PM (#13006598)
    Does it tell me ANYTHING I can't find by going to the help menu?

    I hate technical books that tell me less information than was initially provided in the "help" section.

    in firefox (i just looked) there is even "for IE users" seperate section.
  • I don't use windows, I use linux, and microsoft is not about to port that ugly blue e to linux anytime soon.

    Now if I can just figure out how to get my computer infected with a worm or virus, I'll have a reason to reinstall the OS after 3 years. I feel like I'm missing out on so much fun.
    • Heh. I had a box recently where I had to update a configuration file, and when I did a PS to get the PID to send a HUP, I noticed it was sitting at simething like 10,000 minutes of CPU time. Which woried me at first, until I noticed that the process had been running since Aug03. OK, that's more reasonable.

      I haven't managed to have a box stay up as long as some of the ones at the top of the Netcraft runtime ratings []. Even with UPSes, you get occasional long power outages. But really, "I'll finally have a rea
  • Who else read the title then reflexively clicked the big Blue 'E' next to the article summary?
  • I just went through a week of extremely irritating hell because of IE. I have dual boot system that I occasionally switch from linux to windoze 2000 to play a game or 3. Never a problem mainly because I didn't have a broadband connection, only a pathetic dialup modem, so I would RARELY connect up to the net in windoze.

    Well, I recently acquired DSL in my rural area and I got connected. Within a couple days of being connected (and switching to doze to update the software and play a few RTCW online games)

  • ...but many times I have no choice but to use the "Blue E" - online job applications, real estate sites, the list is endless of web sites that do not work properly on Safari on my Mac or Firefox on my PC. Heck, even the state unemployment online filing doesnt work properly. Neither does updating my profile on - gotta break out IE every time.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"