In 2003, there has been a bumper crop of new PC technology. And to help you assess it, implement it, fix it, Scott Mueller produced the indispensable 15th edition of his legendary Upgrading & Repairing PCs.
For example, this edition includes detailed coverage of AMD's Opteron, the revolutionary 64-bit processor that delivers remarkable performance without sacrificing compatibility. Intel's latest innovations are here, too -- notably the new Hyper Threading Technology, which gives you two "virtual processors" inside the same Pentium 4.
These processors have immense performance potential, but you'll need new motherboards, memories, and chipsets to deliver on it. Mueller covers the latest, hottest stuff -- from higher bus speeds to dual-channel memory architecture. Along the way, he addresses everything from processor slots to form factors, cases, and power connectors -- the details wherein the devil often hides.
He's equally strong on the "almost new" technologies now coming into widespread use. For example, as part of a detailed chapter on optical storage, he demystifies the bewildering menagerie of DVD standards (DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW). Which ones are likely to last? How do you minimize your risks? What do you need to know about copyright protection and other, umm, realities?
As the value of computers increasingly moves to the network, Mueller has increased the book's coverage of networking, from LANs to broadband Internet connectivity. This edition covers all of today's Wi-Fi wireless standards, slow to fast, cheap to expensive -- with a focus on interoperability issues.
Most computers that need repair or upgrading aren't brand new, so Mueller presents systematic coverage of mainstream technologies, including every significant PC component. You'll find entire chapters dedicated to your PC's BIOS; to hard drives; to audio hardware; to I/O devices ranging from ancient RS-232 to contemporary USB 2.0, Serial ATA, and IEEE-1394b. Where you can upgrade existing devices to get the performance offered by newer interfaces, he tells you.
He covers myriad removable storage media from today's external USB 2.0 and FireWire drives to those failed media formats that doubtless hold your Great American Novel. His detailed coverage of backup/restore issues includes exceptional guidance on trying to recover data that seems irretrievably lost (even data on formatted, repartitioned, or erased hard drives and formatted flash memory devices).
In recent editions, Mueller added a detailed troubleshooting index that identifies hundreds of common PC hardware problems and points you directly to the solutions. That's still here, but the 15th edition adds new coverage on resurrecting dead systems and tracking down the flakiness in flaky systems.
Last but definitely not least, there's a DVD-ROM with two full hours of thoroughly updated digital video, in which Mueller walks you through a laundry list of current PC maintenance and repair tasks. Thankfully, the DVD will run on your home DVD player -- so if you've taken your computer apart and you've got no idea what to do next, you can still have Mueller show you. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.