Belatedly celebrating Win95's birthday with
Idiots and Bugs
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1996. First
published in Toronto Computes,
Windows 95 turned one year old this past August 24th,
the silliness of naming software products after years by remaining on
through 1996, and probably into 1997 as well. And that means it's also
time for the second generation of how-to books.
Paul McFedries brings us 'The Complete Idiot's Guide
to Windows 95'
($26.95 CDN), one of Que Books' orange-covered series that is designed
to compete with IDG Books' better known yellow-bound 'Dummys' books.
aside from the colour of the cover, this could be one of the Dummy
It's got the same target audience-new users who, presumably, are a
uncomfortable around their computers. And the same tone: chatty and
amusing. Cartoons. Lots of black and white illustrations. Short
and lots of lists.
The book is a good introduction to Windows 95,
assuming nothing (one
sub-chapter is entitled "First Things First: What the Heck Is a
but quickly covering a good amount of ground. Many users may find it
what they need to get to feel comfortable with Windows 95, whether
new to computers, or switching to Windows 95 from Windows 3.1, DOS, or
I have to admit to having an attitude problem with all
successful Dummies/Idiots books; I suppose there's a perverse pride in
admitting to being intimidated by computers, but I much prefer the more
respectful titles of Osborne-McGraw Hill's competing series, featuring
books like "Windows 95 for Busy People". And that series includes
illustrations on every page.
"The Idiot's Guide..." comes with a CD-ROM disc; don't
buy it on that
account. The promised 'Microsoft Software Inside' turns out to be
Exposition", a multimedia catalogue. It does include a screen saver and
a couple of Windows Entertainment Pack games, so it's not a total
Bruce Brown's "Windows 95 Bug Collection"
(Addison-Wesley, $21 CDN),
while yellow like the Dummies books, serves a different function. The
edits BugNet-a column and on-line repository for computer problems and
solutions. (Check them out at http://www.bugnet.com/~bugnet).
As such, it doesn't try to tell you which mouse button
to click. Instead,
it simply lists commonly reported Win95 bugs, and what can be done
them. Problems are organized into categories: Installation, Utilities,
Hardware, Communications, Games, and so on. Each chapter includes an
looking at general issues, the overall success rate, biggest problem,
biggest surprise. Then follows the list of related bugs and fixes.
No bowing to Microsoft or other big companies here;
Brown calls them
as he's seen them. The book's witty, cynical, and perhaps, for anyone
helps multiple Win 95 users, the most useful book per page around.