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The Complete PC Upgrade and Maintenance Guide, 9th edition / Edition 9

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Overview

Designed for "every person who owns a PC and has the guts to take the screws off the back cover", this guide is a problem-solving wonder. In simple, easy-to-follow language it shows readers how to prevent disasters and fix them when they occur. The CD-ROMs contain valuable diagnostic and utility programs and PC Tune.
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Editorial Reviews

Bill Carmada
Maybe you've seen Mark Minasi on CNN, talking computers. Or maybe you've taken his legendary $800 course on PC maintenance, or heard him speak at Comdex. Or perhaps you took our advice a few months ago and purchased his dynamite Expert Guide to Windows 98. Regardless of how you first encounter Minasi's work, you're likely to become a fan pretty quick. So when it comes time to troubleshoot those miserable computer problems that seem as inevitable as death and taxes, who better to call? You say you can't afford him? Join a million or so PC users and get The Complete PC Upgrade & Maintenance Guide. Your timing is perfect: Minasi's terrific new Ninth Edition has just arrived. And for just $59.99 -less than you might spend to have a tech look at your PC funny-it delivers more than 1,600 pages of practical, real-world solutions. This book is chock full of personal experience with PCs and the bizarro things that go wrong with them. And it's been completely updated to reflect the latest motherboards, form factors, chipsets, standards, everything. It's fluff free, and believe it or not, it also happens to be a fun read. Since preventive maintenance is invariably cheaper and less painful than the alternative, Minasi offers a full chapter's worth of tips and tricks for minimizing the likelihood that your PC will ever need repair. Minasi shows you how to maintain your computer to minimize the chance it'll ever need repair. You'll learn how to disassemble PCs so you'll be able to put them back together again; step-by-step techniques for troubleshooting PC problems; and all you need to know about memory and hard disks-including how to recover lost data. You'll discover how to troubleshoot serial devices. Plus, Minasi tells you all you need to know about power supplies and power protection. (Did you know that tying overhand knots in your power cords and telephone wires is a surprisingly effective way to protect your equipment against lightning?) The coverage is soup-to-nuts, with detailed chapters on topics that other troubleshooting books either skip altogether or surf over lightly. Notebook computers. CD-ROM drives. Laser printers. Scanners. Modems. Sound boards, video capture cards, and other PC devices notorious for devouring both your IRQs and your patience. Two CD-ROMs include a plethora of resources for the would-be PC fixer-upper. You get a hardware vendor resource guide with contact information for hollering at more than 700 vendors. You get a complete 125-page hardware dictionary. You get more than 500 megabytes of video taken straight from Minasi's PC troubleshooting seminars, where he shows you-step-by-step-how to fix hardware. (Watch these, and you'll dramatically reduce your risk of fire and explosion-it helps to actually see which way the cables are supposed to go!) The second CD-ROM contains the complete PC Tune product, a multimedia guide to PC upgrades. If that wasn't enough, the second CD-ROM contains the complete PC Tune commercial hypertext/multimedia tune-up and maintenance course, a $50 value! Minasi's book has always been a perfect match for folks taking CompTIA's A+ Certification exam, and this time around Sybex has added an exclusive certification section full of Q&As designed to help you pass the exam. But whether you're out to fix everyone else's computer problems or you'd be thrilled to simply fix a few of your own, no other book delivers this much authoritative, practical, easy-to-understand help-period!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780782123579
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/24/1998
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 1600
  • Product dimensions: 7.88 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 3.09 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 2: Disassembling the PC

Disassembling the PC so it can be reassembled, that is. Now, it might seem that I ought to spend a few chapters just talking about PCs and PC repair before actually taking the thing apart. But that's not what we're going to do. You see, I've found in teaching PC repair to thousands of people that understanding PC repair and upgrade requires two kinds of knowledge.

The first kind of knowledge is a sort of "how it all fits together" knowledge, an understanding of things like how extended memory is different from conventional memory or what a superscalar CPU is. It's knowledge of the components and interfaces-the connections between those components-that enables you to diagnose a problem or select the correct upgrade part. You'll learn about this kind of "microcomputer anatomy and physiology" throughout most of the rest of the book-in fact, the extended/expanded and superscalar stuff is in the next chapter.

The second sort of knowledge that you'll need is a different kind, a familiarity with tools and with some simple rules of disassembly. Perhaps it's my personal bias, but I prefer to teach these skills before getting into the concepts of Chapter 3. It may be that I do that because I'm kind of clumsy personally: I'm the kind of guy who forgets to put the plug in the bottom of the oil pan before I start refilling the engine with oil, so this has been hard- won knowledge. That won't be true for all of you-if you're already someone who's comfortable with tools, then you probably don't have to be reminded that screwdrivers go "lefty loosey, righty tighty" - but us klutzes do, at least sometimes, and that's what this chapter is about. There are right ways to take a machine apart and wrong ways; this chapter shows you one of the right ways.

Choose Your Weapons: PC Repair Tools

Most PC problems can be fixed with nothing more complex than a screwdriver. But if you do a lot of PC work, then there are other tools that you will no doubt want to add to your toolkit.

Screwdrivers

The basic tool. They come in straight-slot, Phillips, and Torx varieties. The straightslot screw has, as its name implies, a single metal slot across its top. It's easy for the screwdriver to slip from the slot, however, making it hard to bear down on a straight- slot screw.

That's why Phillips screws were invented. Phillips screws not only have two slots at right angles to one another, they also have an indentation at the intersection of the two slots; a corresponding peak in the Phillips screwdriver shaft fits nicely into that indentation, helping the screwdriver to stay centered.

Or, at least, that's the idea.

There are two problems with Phillips screws, at least in the PC business. First, the screws that PC makers use seem to be all made of some kind of soft, presumably cheap, aluminum. The slots aren't very deep, and the combination of the two means that it's often easy to strip the heads of the screws. So be careful when removing Phillips screws.

The second problem is related to the first. It seems that half of the computers that I work on have previously been worked by Ignatz the Strong Man, apparently on loan from the circus. People tighten PC case screws as if their data will leak out of the seams otherwise. It's a dumb practice for two reasons-first, it's unnecessary, and second, you'll strip the heads on the screws. Tighten to a snug fit, don't cinch it down like it'll be subjected to a vibration test. And another thought along those lines: there are several sizes of Phillips screwdrivers. I'm aware of size 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, and 3, but I'm sure there are more. Most PC screws are size 1; however, the little ones on the interface cable connectors are size 0. You may come across a case screw (one of the screws that secures the case to the chassis) that's a No. 2. The important point is to use the correct size. Don't try to remove a No. 2 with a No. 1 Phillips; again, you'll strip the head.

Personally, I like electric screwdrivers. The Black and Decker that I got for Christmas in 1989 was just about the most useful present I've ever gotten. (And remember, it's made in the US .... )

Compaq computers have used a third type of screw, called a "Torx screw," for years now. The Torx uses a star-shaped hole in the head of the screw. Torx screwdrivers come in at least 15 sizes, which is a major pain for support people. You'll probably only use sizes T- 10 and T-15, but if you want to disassemble hard disks, then you'll find that some hard disks use smaller Torx sizes.

Why do manufacturers use Torx screwdrivers? Well, it's certainly not because of convenience; whatever they are, they are not that. I think it's because until about 10 years ago, most people didn't have Torx screwdrivers handy, which kept the user's fingers out of the gearbox, so to speak. So a computer company that used Torx fasteners could keep the casual user out. If so, then it was a dumb idea; PC's aren't any good to you if you can't get in them. And anyone who's ever had to change the headlights on a GM car already has a set of Torxes.

While I'm on this topic, let me tell you a quick story. Years ago, I bought a number of PCs from a PC configuration/sales company. We'd specified on the bid that we wanted 100 percent IBM components, as this was 1983 and the clone stuff was a bit iffy on compatibility. The company delivered the PC with seals on the back of the box. When I had trouble installing software on the computer, I broke the seals, took the cover off, and lo! the video board, floppy controller, and hard disk controller weren't IBM products. I called the vendor and explained that he had not fulfilled the contract when he sent us shoddy parts. His answer: that I'd violated the warranty on the computer by removing the seals. (I suppose he would have used Torx fasteners if he'd thought of it.) My answer: after I thanked him for the first really good laugh I'd had in a while, I told him to either take the PCs or outfit them correctly. He did. Now, the moral of the story is not that you should buy IBM parts; that's not necessarily good advice in this day and age. The moral is that you should specify what you want in a PC and make sure that you get it. And if a vendor tries to keep you out of a machine that he sold you, then be suspicious....

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Table of Contents


Introduction
Chapter 1 Five Easy Pieces: PC Hardware in a Nutshell
Chapter 2 Disassembling the PC
Chapter 3 Inside the PC: Pieces of the Picture
Chapter 4 Avoiding Service: Preventive Maintenance
Chapter 5 Troubleshooting PC Problems
Chapter 6 Installing New Circuit Boards (without Creating New Problems to Troubleshoot)
Chapter 7 Repairs with Circuit Boards and Chips
Chapter 8 Semiconductor Memory
Chapter 9 Power Supplies and Power Protection
Chapter 10 Hard Disk Drive Overview and Terminology
Chapter 11 Installing a Hard Disk
Chapter 12 How DOS Organizes Your Disk
Chapter 13 Preventive Maintenance for Your Hard Disk
Chapter 14 Recovering Data and Fixing Hard Disks
Chapter 15 Understanding, Installing, and Repairing Floppy Drives
Chapter 16 Understanding and Installing SCSI Devices
Chapter 17 Troubleshooting Printers
Chapter 18 Troubleshooting Laser Printers
Chapter 19 Modems and Serial Interfaces
Chapter 20 Keyboards and Mice
Chapter 21 Video Adapters and Displays
Chapter 22 Play It Loud: Sound Boards
Chapter 23 You Oughta Be in Pictures: Video Capture
Chapter 24 An Overview of CD-ROM
Chapter 25 A Buyer's Guide to PCs
Chapter 26 Notebook/Laptop Computers
Chapter 27 Utilizing the Internet and Online Services
Appendix A Vendors Guide
Appendix B A Short Overview on Reading Hexadecimal
Appendix C Characteristics of Available Hard Disk Drives
Appendix D Complete Hardware Dictionary
Appendix E Sample A+ Core Module Exam Questions
Index
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