INDEX BY: Edition / Title
Building A PC For Dummies.
by Mark L. Chambers.
published in 1998 by IDG Books Worldwide.
359pp ISBN 0 7645 0348 0 23.99

Building A PC For Dummies.

"Building A PC For Dummies," provides an excellent introduction to the basic parts of the modern PC. It comes complete with a handy reference guide that would enable even most novice computer user to understand the often complex terminology that is associated with computers.

The typeface used throughout this book is pleasing to the eye, giving more detailed illustrations for in-depth guidance for user's to recognise the parts and components mentioned in the text. Strong headings are emphasised in an alternative text, allowing the user to scan easily for the information required for their particular requirements. Each paragraph about a particular part of the system that may be required can be easily found without the need to read unnecessary chapters. The author uses a sense of humour that most stand up comedians would die for, he also uses several cartoons scattered throughout the book to add a bit more light-hearted relief.

Graphical "Icons" within the text ensures the user notices certain paragraphs that are too important to be missed. The "Icons" used within the book illustrate various topics, such as:

useful information that will save time and money;

information and recommendations on where and when to use "Scavenged Parts";

warnings to aide the reader in steering clear of potential disasters;

"technical" notes to provide the more intellectual user with more in-depth information that you do not necessarily need to build your PC, but might find interesting;

reminders of useful information;

directs the users to the relevant software on the CD that accompanies this book.

The methodical approach that the author has taken with this book instils the confidence and reassurance that anyone can complete the required and numerous tasks of building and maintaining a PC, pointing out that the only tool required is a screwdriver, with an illustration to compound this fact. The opening chapter introduces the reader to the computer, its components and their individual uses with in the system.

The second chapter guides the reader through a checklist to assist them in deciding what they require from their system by using straightforward English terms rather than the more difficult terminology often associated with IT. It then outlines three different systems that would meet specific user requirements. Further support is provided in this chapter by giving advice on where to buy as well as quite a few tips about "scavenging" parts from older machines. The author goes on to explain in graphic detail all that you need to know to assemble a PC, from one with the most basic requirements, to building the ultra technical multimedia PC.

The author methodically works through the stages of building a computer giving clear instructions, which are emphasised with simple but effective illustrations, adding further instructions about replacing components. The user is guided through all the various processes required to get all parts working together harmoniously. There are useful tips on how to handle particular components of the system which people may "find scary" to handle.

The author has also provided an excellent source of information about peripherals and "extras", such as scanners, FM stereo/TV tuner adapter card and digital video cameras that are used to enhance the ICT capabilities of the system that the learner may not encounter in the school environment. Tips are also given on older equipment, which some people may find supportive in a learning environment due to the out of date equipment used in some schools.

The glossary in the appendix of the book allows the reader to "break the code" of some of the computer jargon that is used by advertising companies to sell computers and therefore removing the mystery that quite often surrounds ICT.

I feel that "Building a PC for Dummies" is an invaluable reference for teachers and lecturers to enable them to answer those awkward questions posed by the learners, as experienced on my first teaching practice. There are also useful chapters on networking and the Internet that would be of great value to the IT department as a back up reference manual. These pages could be used to assist with connecting a LAN and with basic fault finding. This book would enhance any school library as a backup reference for a teacher or lecturer of ICT as well as being available for learners at post 16 with a good interest in computer studies. In a classroom context, this book would be more suitable to the upper part of Key Stage 4 learners and post 16.

I have used this book to help complement a PC maintenance course and found it extremely useful in helping me understand the different process explained during the lessons. I would recommend that any person interested in buying or upgrading a PC to first read this book. I believe that this book would be an invaluable source to ICT Co-ordinators in maintaining school equipment. I would also strongly recommend that anyone using or supporting ICT equipment to purchase this book as a reference guide, thus enabling them to maintain and update their own PC's at a fraction of the cost of most PC suppliers. At the retail price of 23.99 I feel that this book is of very good value for money and will be greatly utilised by myself.

Susan Marsh ITT Student, Liverpool John Moores University