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PC Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools Paperback – Nov 4 2004
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About the Author
Jim Aspinwall has been the Windows Helpdesk columnist and feature editor for CNET.com and is the author of three books on PC maintenance. A resident of Campbell, California, Jim is also an amateur radio operator, an electronics technician, and an OSHA-certified tower climber, maintaining radio transmission sites in northern California.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First off, this book is not for the novice user. If you are not willing to "risk a little" then you should not attempt the hacks set forth in the book. Many of them, if not performed precisely, can cause serious damage to your system -- some could even cause permanent hardware damage (such as overclocking your CPU). However, for those who are brave -- the rewards and adventure that await are well worth it.
Covering topics such as upgrading your power supply, changing CPU voltage (overclocking), moving and changing disk partitions, even overclocking your video card (that was even a new one for me!) will have most dedicated PC geek up to all hours trying out different settings and tweaks.
Even if you aren't ready to start messing with the voltage, the book provides a good handbook on topics such as "Why should I worry if my paging (virtual memory) file is fragmented?" and "Do I need to upgrade by BIOS?" that even middle-of-the-road users might fight well worth reading up on. There are a number of items that the author talks about that are merely informational, but could really come in handy the next time your system decides to stop functioning the moment you need it to the most.
For those "old timers" out there, this book comes close to the old Norton books of the mid 1980's that explained what went on under the hood of early PC's. For the younger users, it is a terrific way to explore the true "hobbyist" side of computing and tweaking a system much like a car enthusiast tunes his engine.
This distinction is relevant because I fear some buyers may not buy the book because the Hacks books are generally geared towards professionals. Not so in this case. I think this book is a practical purchase for anyone looking for DIY maintenance on a PC.
If you are looking to build a new PC then be sure to check out O'Reilly's "Building the Perfect PC".
You can read the book from cover to cover, but each hack stands on its own, so you can also browse and go to the different sections that most interest you. If there is a prerequisite you need to know about, a cross-reference will guide to the right hack.
Since you will be hacking your PC, you are seriously encouraged to for follow three basic tenets of PC ownership: Back Up, Back Up, and Back Up. While the hacks are not intentionally designed to harm a PC system, life with a PC is not a matter of if your system will crash, but when.
Pay careful attention to the details and precautions for each hack. Not all hacks will work with all PCs or installed hardware. After you have done your backup, it will be to your benefit to gather all your manuals and driver disks or visit the web sites for your PC and peripheral vendors to get current documentation and drivers.
If your PC or any of its components are under manufacturer's warranty, you should think twice or three times about the impacting of hacking on it. If a hack could void your warranty, you will probably want to wait until the warranty expires, before trying it.
PC Hacks is a book that I recommend everyone add to their PC troubleshooting library.
Chapter List: Basic System Board Hacks; Basic System Board Setup; CPU Hacks; Memory Hacks; Disk Hacks; Disk Drive Performance Hacks; Video Hacks; I/O Device Hacks; Boot-Up Hacks; Configuring A New PC; Index
As you can tell from the list of chapters, there's a heavy emphasis on hacks that involve tweaking hardware settings or upgrading core components. Many of the hacks have performance in mind, like Boot Faster (#4) or Speed It Up With RAID (#64). Other hacks allow you to use little known Windows tools to set system options, like Let Windows Tell You About I/O Card Conflicts (#75) and Convert FAT to NTFS (#45). If you're into overclocking your PC devices, you'll have a great time here as the author covers everything from overclocking CPUs to video cards. He also warns that it's possible to completely toast your machine if you push the limits too far, so these things might not be the best tricks to mess with on a critical PC. I'd suggest getting a second-hand machine that you can destroy (if it comes to that), and see what you can do by following the tips in this book.
As with all Hacks books, there are 100 tips to play with. Some may not apply to you, and others may be worth the purchase price of the book by themselves. But that's part of the fun with the Hacks series. If you don't like the one you just read, keep going. The next one may solve a problem you've been struggling with for years.
A very good book for those who want to eke out every last drop of performance from their system, or for those who are more interested in how the operating system works instead of just running applications.
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