[techbooks] REVIEW: "PC Upgrading and Maintenance", Smart Computing
- BKPCUPMA.RVW 990314
"PC Upgrading and Maintenance", Smart Computing, 1999, 0-7821-2471-2,
%A Smart Computing
%C 1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
%I Sybex Computer Books
%O U$24.99/C$37.50 800-227-2346 Fax: 510-523-2373 info@...
%P 679 p.
%T "PC Upgrading and Maintenance: No Experience Required"
This book is certainly readable, and it does give readers a feel for
the guts of a computer. It's easy and non-threatening. Whether it is
useful or helpful may be debateable.
Chapter one blows away the conceit of calling all the chapters
"skills," since there is no skill involved: it is just an outline of
the coming chapters. Pretty much a duplication, with some expansion,
of the introduction. MSD and the Device Manager are briefly described
in chapter two. The backup and disk maintenance advice in chapter
three is quite sparse as well. Chapter four's review of memory is
short, but does cover most of the basics, including illustrations of
memory slots and SIMMs. The material on CPUs is really too brief, in
chapter five. Most particularly, the wide variety of sockets are not
covered, and therefore upgraders may be in for a bit of a shock when
the new chip doesn't fit.
Chapter six looks at replacing a hard drive, but isn't much good for
adding one. Floppy, removable, and tape drives get terse coverage in
chapter seven. Multimedia, in chapter eight, seems to be mostly the
installation of CD-ROM and DVD drives. Monitors and graphics cards
just get swapped in chapter nine. Chapter ten's look at modems is
quite clearly insufficient. Basically you get shown how to plug in
keyboards and mice in chapter eleven. Printers are assumed to be
straight plug and play in chapter twelve, as are scanners in thirteen.
Adding ports and adapters, as anyone who has done it knows, involves
more than just dropping it into the slot and sticking the cable
through an opening, but that's what chapter fourteen seems to tell us.
Oddly, installing a motherboard may be as easy as chapter fifteen
implies--except that you now have to reinstall everything else.
Installing a new power supply is definitely as simple as it says in
Chapter seventeen really doesn't say much about upgrading laptops.
LAN components and terminology get quick explanations in chapter
eighteen, but I wouldn't want to build a network based on that. Since
everything has already been discussed, building your own computer, in
chapter nineteen, is just a pulled together recap. Chapter twenty is
a recap of adding drives, plus some quick talk about drive compression
software. Upgrading software, in chapter twenty one, doesn't tell you
much that is useful. BIOS upgrades are rather uncertain in chapter
Chapter twenty three's material on troubleshooting probably should
have bene spread among the relevant chapters. Even so, while lots of
content is here, a lot is missing as well. In the same way, the tips
in chapter twenty four should have been organized with appropriate
sections throughout the text, but still leave a lot of gaps.
The chapters are short, and easily digestible. It will be relatively
easy for a novice to pick a part, go to the chapter, and, in thirty
minutes, have a superficial grasp of the topic. With modern
intelligent BIOSes, as well as Plug 'n' Play hardware, it may be that
this is all that is necessary for most users. However, from long and
bitter personal experience, I rather doubt it. I noted, as I went
through, that a number of problems that I have encountered with all
these pieces of machinery were not even mentioned in the text. I
suspect that readers of this book will experience more than a few
surprises in the real world.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKPCUPMA.RVW 990314
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