REVIEW: "Upgrading and Repairing PCs", Scott Mueller
- BKUPRPPC.RVW 20011129
"Upgrading and Repairing PCs", Scott Mueller, 2002, 0-7897-2542-8,
%A Scott Mueller scottmueller@...
%C 201 W. 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290
%I Macmillan Computer Publishing (MCP)
%O U$59.99/C$89.95/UK#43.99 800-858-7674 317-581-3743 info@...
%P 1556 p. + CD-ROM
%T "Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Thirteenth Edition"
There are all kinds of computer help, repair, maintenance,
troubleshooting, and upgrading books on the market. A great many try
to give you a quick overview of what you need to know. With the
personal computer market expanding its options on a pretty much daily
basis, though, generally what you need is more in the line of an
encyclopedia. *Your* particular problem tends to be the one left out.
This book, however, leaves very little out.
Chapter one is a short history of the PC since the first IBM PC in
1981, or actually slightly before. The defining characteristics, and
components, of a PC are given in chapter two, including a very
realistic overview of the market and major players. Microprocessor
information is given in chapter three. However, this chapter is
unlike any I have ever seen in another repair or troubleshooting book.
There are tables and lists of detailed processor specifications,
including the most important for any upgrader--the socket sizes and
specifications. The chapter proceeds through conceptual material
first and then in turn through all kinds of individual processors, so
at first run it can be a bit confusing. The motherboard is covered in
chapter four, with form factors, chipsets, interface connectors, and
bus sockets. In this edition, the BIOS gets space of its own in
chapter five. The various types and functions of memory, with
attention to practical as well as theoretical details, are described
in chapter six.
Chapters seven and eight look in detail at the IDE (Integrated Drive
electronics) and SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) interfaces.
General principles of magnetic storage are given in chapter nine, with
specifics of hard and floppy disks, removable storage, and optical
drives in ten to thirteen, successively. Drive installation is
covered in chapter fourteen.
Display hardware is outlined in chapter fifteen, with information on
both monitors and adapters. Audio hardware is a new addition in
chapter sixteen. Chapter seventeen provides useful specifics on I/O
ports, dealing with serial and parallel ports, port replacement
technologies, and storage interfaces. Keyboards and mice are covered
in significant detail in chapter eighteen. Chapter nineteen, entitled
"Internet Connectivity," looks at a broad range of communications
hardware. It provides a good deal of information, and has improved
substantially over past editions. Local area networks, in chapter
twenty, fare well. Chapter twenty one gets into the area that
possibly causes the most trouble, and therefore has the greatest
potential for usefulness, in PC hardware: power supplies, the NVRAM
(better known, if slightly inaccurately, as CMOS) battery, and even
UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems. There are some
interesting points about portable computers in chapter twenty two.
Chapter twenty three looks at building a system, and, while there is
some duplication of material covered in earlier chapters, there is a
good deal of new content as well. Diagnostics, testing, and
maintenance provides a lot of very practical advice, although the
sequence of topics in chapter twenty four can be jumpy at times.
(Given the scope of the rest of the book, the dismissal of viruses in
a single paragraph is disappointing: and unfortunately consistent with
what I have seen in all too many computer retail and repair shops.)
File systems and data recovery are covered well in chapter twenty
five. The appendices in this edition are rather curtailed. However,
the CD-ROM contains full versions of the sixth, eighth, tenth,
eleventh, and twelfth editions, so missing chapters, such as those on
printers and software troubleshooting, can still be found.
I can say with assurance that none of the books on upgrading or repair
of personal computers has had the scope of this one. This is not
simply due to the size, although that certainly helps. The material
is readable and clear, and there is very little fluff. Certainly some
sections are not quite up to the overall standard; in particular, more
recent technologies tend to have hastily assembled entries; but for
the central unit itself, the book is without peer. I can readily
agree with the rather effusive book jacket comments: they are not, as
I first thought, mere hype. For anyone involved in computer
maintenance and repair, be it in a retail or technical support role,
this reference has immense value. And for serious hobbyist users, it
can provide a great deal of interest, as well as definite help when
you need it.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998, 1999, 2001 BKUPRPPC.RVW 20011129
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