Helping Canadians beat computing fears

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Vancouver Computes, March 1999

Canadian Computer Handbook
By David Rosen & Caryn Mladen
Media Access Publishing
ISBN: 1-894108-04-3

How can I honestly review a book when one of its co-authors is a Canada Computes contributing editor, and when the Thanks page at the front of the book mentions such notables on this publication?s masthead as Mara Gulens, Jim Buchkok, and Lara King?

Despite the tremendous pressure from the top to give this book a rave review, I have to admit that this newly updated for 1999 second edition is a nicely written volume, covering all bases needed for its intended target audience?new computer buyers and users. (A big market?3 million Canadians bought computers last year).

And with a Canadian slant?most evident in prices that, being expressed in Canadian dollars, look higher than what you?d see in a book targeted primarily at Americans.

The book is well organized and clearly written, covering all the bases, while not snowing a neophyte under with too much detail or techtalk. It?s broken down into four main sections?hardware, software, the Internet, and ?living with your computer?. The last section is perhaps the most important, since it gets down to the nitty-gritty day-to-day experience?from buying a new or used computer and software, to upgrading, to financing the purchase, to setting up the computer.

It ends up with the day to day upkeep, and a brief but helpful section on handling the inevitable problems. The book gets extra points in my score card for reminding new users to hang onto all those boxes?necessary if you have to return the computer under warranty, but also handy when moving.

Easy to read, it will help take away much of the fright factor involved for so many people in selecting, purchasing, and learning to live with a new computer.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan