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REVIEW: "PC Hacks", Jim Aspinwall

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKPCHACK.RVW 20041231 PC Hacks , Jim Aspinwall, 2005, 0-596-00748-5, U$24.95/C$36.95 %A Jim Aspinwall %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2005
      BKPCHACK.RVW 20041231

      "PC Hacks", Jim Aspinwall, 2005, 0-596-00748-5, U$24.95/C$36.95
      %A Jim Aspinwall
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2005
      %G 0-596-00748-5
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$24.95/C$36.95 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007485/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007485/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience a Tech 3 Writing 2
      %P 285 p.
      %T "PC Hacks"

      The various titles in the "Hacks" series contain lots of individual
      tips. The points cover a wide range of subjects and skill levels,
      although most are intermediate to advanced. Most readers will,
      though, find something of interest or use, regardless of their
      specific pursuits: there will be something helpful, somewhere, and it
      probably won't be too difficult to use or install. This book is not
      quite the same. There is lots of fascinating information, but much of
      the utility will only come with some exploration, additional research,
      and experimentation on the part of the user. (Oh, and this is
      definitely for Wintel machines, with some nods to Linux.)

      Chapter one deals with the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System
      programming) and (primarily) the settings held in CMOS (Complementary
      Metal Oxide Semiconductor) memory, which provide the fundamental
      aspects of machine performance. System board settings are reviewed in
      chapter two, although much of the advice tends to emphasize upgrading
      to PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and USB (Universal Serial
      Bus) connections and devices. (The mystery of COM port assignment is
      not clarified: this section in particular could use additional
      detail.) CPU overclocking is discussed in chapter three, although
      this section makes frequent recommendations to go to the documentation
      for your particular system board and BIOS. (There are some careless
      mistakes: table 3-2 has confusing entries due to the difference
      between the total and incremental increase in CPU speed, and aluminum
      actually has a fairly low thermal conductivity in comparison to some
      other metals: it's just cheap.) Chapter four's overview of memory
      concentrates to a large extent on the now aging 9x and ME Windows
      versions. It does note the advantage of a performance increase if you
      turn off virtual memory and paging, but probably doesn't emphasize it
      enough. Disk partitioning and basic recovery is probably more
      difficult than chapter five points out. As an old virus researcher, I
      know all too well the dangers of FDISK /MBR. Hard disk performance,
      and the improvement that can be made with cache and parameter
      settings, is covered in chapter six. Chapter seven looks at video
      performance, primarily concerned with downloading utilities, and
      mostly system specific. Input and output devices, in chapter eight,
      has more on COM ports, including a few errors, such as table 8-1 on
      page 180 that shows COM3 not using any IRQ line at all, and the
      statement on page 188 that "COM2 and COM4 ... both use COM3" (rather
      than IRQ3). Chapter nine, on the boot process, is primarily concerned
      with creating systems that will, with proper partitioning, boot
      multiple operating systems, but also deals with the MSDOS.SYS,
      CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, and BOOT.INI files. Some miscellaneous
      recommendations for antivirus, backup, and copying files are in
      chapter ten.

      While there is value in this book, I am at a bit of a loss as to
      recommendations. It isn't for novices, and even intermediate users
      may find parts of it difficult. On the other hand, experts will be
      frustrated by the age of some of the material. Amateur hardware
      hackers and hobbyists will likely get the most out of it, was my first
      thought. On the other hand, I was recently astounded to find a senior
      technical support worker who had no idea what a BIOS password was, so
      maybe the audience for this book is wider than I believed.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005 BKPCHACK.RVW 20041231

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found how to
      turn numbers into letters with ASCII -- and we thought it was a
      typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was
      a television. With the World Wide Web, we've realized it's a
      brochure. --Douglas Adams
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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