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Haynes Computer Manual
By Kyle MacRae
Published in 2001 by Haynes Publishing
160pp ISBN 1 85960 805 1 14.99

Haynes Computer Manual

Haynes manuals were part of my youth and probably many of yours too!. In the days when I couldn't afford a recent car the near-wreck that I owned would be kept safe and on the road by following their step-by-step photographic guides.

This book takes the same approach to upgrading and repairing a PC. It really does do it in a simple way too. I'd be happy giving this to my grey-surfer parents to support their PC skills as well as to anyone else thinking about diving into the insides of their computer.

A brief history of computing is followed by clear, labelled photographs of the computer itself - the labels also go into a reasonable and sufficient detail:

Floppy Drive Floppy disks are a stalwart form of removable media. But while they may be cheap, the drives are sluggish and capacity limited to 1.44MB per disk.

A glossary is provided at the back of the book to explain most terms (although MB is hidden and 'removable media' not included, which may stall some readers).

The book has a very sensible structure - looking at the outside sockets and buttons, then the inside of the case, then peripherals. It then guides you as to how to complete a table of the details of your particular PCs specification and the simple things you should be doing to preserve your precious data.

We then reach the 'screwdriver' bits. All the time the emphasis is on whether or not the upgrade is worthwhile. Processor, motherboard and RAM upgrades; adding and replacing drives; graphics and sound upgrades are all included. Section 5 then considers the external upgrades; monitors, keyboards, scanners, etc.

Software is also considered with section 6 looking at utilities and virus checkers (only a brief mention of firewalls though). This section also goes through the techniques needed to physically clean the PC and peripherals (dare you give that bit to your technician?).

Finally, section 7 considers trouble shooting both in general and then for some specific common problems.

This book should be in every library (school, college, university and public) as well as a possible gift for anyone currently wary of opening up their PC. It is much more approachable than most of the other books available to support this process - but as it's for home users does have gaps. (Edition 2 ought to cover network cards too, as broadband web users may need to install and error check these, digital photography media issues might also be a welcome addition). It will certainly join my reading list for the module I teach on PC trouble shooting.

Neil Stanley
Reviews Editor