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Book details of 'Peter Coffee Teaches PCs (The Best Advice from the Best Authors)'

Cover of Peter Coffee Teaches PCs (The Best Advice from the Best Authors)
TitlePeter Coffee Teaches PCs (The Best Advice from the Best Authors)
Author(s)Peter Coffee
ISBN0789717034
LanguageEnglish
PublishedNovember 1998
PublisherQue
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Peter Coffee Teaches PCs (The Best Advice from the Best Authors)':

Reviewer amazon.com wrote:
In order for a user to do work or have fun with a personal computer, he or she must have a firm grasp on a fairly large number of concepts, skills, and procedures. In Peter Coffee Teaches PCs, the reader gets a competent, broad-brush introduction to the skills that make up PC mastery. This book is well suited to those who may have used computers for specific jobs, but who lack the confidence to really take initiative with PC hardware and software. Coffee's first order of business is to explain how to turn the machine on and off--a procedure that can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated. After a quick tutorial in mouse operations, the author helps you gain confidence in using the machine by walking you through some basic procedures. Then, he introduces the concept of files--key to using PCs--and explains how files are opened, modified, and stored on various PC hardware devices. Nonstorage hardware components, such as video monitors, sound cards, modems, and joysticks, receive adequate attention as well. Coffee then instructs the reader on the critical software conventions of Microsoft Windows applications. He shows how to start programs under Windows 95 and Windows 98 and details the procedures you should follow to save time when cutting and pasting information. Also, the author reveals the fundamentals of using spreadsheets, word-processing programs, databases, and even computer-assisted design (CAD) programs.

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
Neither the preface nor the introduction make it really plain who the book is written for, but from various indications the text is aimed at the novice user of Wintel machines: ISA/BIOS/Intel architecture running a version of the Windows operating system. Eventually, as we get into the book, this seems to refine to Win95. Chapter one, however, seems to reinterpret this novice business. First of all, it doesn't quite start at the beginning, but assumes that have already dealt with the hardware. There isn't even much about how Windows operates before we get into MS-DOS and even DEBUG! Now, I'm all for giving people lots of information, but getting them to create hex files does seem to be putting the cart before the horse. There is a lot of trivia, plus an awful lot about ways that files can go wrong, in chapter two. The points about overwriting files with the same names, and file extensions, will be very helpful, and are not often covered. However, if this book truly is for newcomers, the heavy DOS emphasis can possibly get users into trouble on a W95 machine. Data representation could be useful down the road, but the book is not clear about why we deal with it in chapter three. Chapter four tells us a lot of interesting things about microprocessors (and misses a lot of things as well), but, again, one wonders about the utility for new users. Chapter five finally gets down to the visible hardware of the machine, and does a pretty decent job. Monitors get their own space in chapter six, but it seems to be more of a buyer's guide. (There's a lot of that in the book; a number of recommendations for commercial software, many of which have freeware alternatives.) Modems get a very good explanation of modulation, although there is both too much and too little information on configuration in chapter seven. There is a brief review of sound and vision technology in chapter eight. Chapter nine looks at a variety of concerns when dealing with portable computers. Chapter ten deals with a lot of issues surrounding troubleshooting and support, but misses a number as well. Chapter eleven is mostly an opinion piece on software. This is continued in chapter twelve, dealing specifically with software suites. "Word processing" is really about desktop publishing in chapter thirteen. Chapter fourteen reviews spreadsheets and other numeric software, fifteen does database, and sixteen does presentation software. Chapter seventeen is a mixed bag of Internet history and operations, and security. (The very short section on viruses doesn't make many mistakes, but then it doesn't tell you much, either.) Personally, I have no problem with giving users, even new users, a lot of background and technical detail: I approve. However, I suspect that a lot of users who just want to know how to make the thing work will get annoyed. In addition, for those who do want the facts "right down to the metal," you are going to have to arrange and organize the material and sequence better, and there are a lot of gaps in the content of the book. In the end I would say that this book is definitely not for beginners. Intermediate users will probably get more use out of it. Bear in mind, though, that while there is a lot of information to be had, it isn't complete, and it won't always be what you need. This is a book to dip into when you have a chance, in order to build background, along with your own experiences, for later use. copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998

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Book description:

Peter Coffee, a longtime editor and columnist for PCWeek, writes his version of the ultimate' computer book. Peter Coffee Teaches PCs is for the computer user who wants to go beyond the basics. It goes under the hood of both the hardware -Going beyond just the essentials, Peter Coffee explores computers and their potential for your work, education and entertainment -Peter Coffee, a well-known columnist and editor for PC Week is one of the top experts on hardware, software and computer productivity -Peter covers every aspect of PCs from hardware and software to the basics of putting it to work for you

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