I have a confession which may cost me a large portion of my geek cred.
I have never built my own PC.
This is not to say that I haven’t upgraded PCs, both my own and those owned by clients of the company I work for. I’ve installed RAM, hard drives, optical drives, and power supplies. I’m halfway to building my own PC, so why haven’t I taken the plunge? Put simply, it’s just been easier to go online to the Dell Outlet and buy what I want. For example, the laptop I’m typing this review on, a Dell Studio 15, I picked up last year for under $600. Here’s the thing, though: Dell and other retail PC sellers keep their prices down by using low end parts which have failure rates higher than normal. While you usually get a one year warranty on the PC you buy, you’re out of luck if something breaks after that year ends. While building a PC on your own may cost more, the quality and piece of mind you get are more than worth the cost difference.
I can thank Microsoft Access for helping me break into the IT industry. Over a decade ago, I was working as a data entry temp at a company creating a database of motorcycle parts and accessories for an online catalog they were developing. We were using Microsoft Access 2000 to enter the data. Fortunately for me, we went beyond simple tables while entering our data, creating queries which helped us remove duplicate entries and double check our work. I even wrote my first basic SQL queries in Access during this job, and my desire and ability to learn how to utilize Access to its fullest abilities was noticed by the project supervisors, leading to my first full time technology job. Access has changed a lot in the time since I first played with the toy. Fortunately, there is a great book which Access users of any skill level can turn to for help learning the ins and outs of the latest iteration of the program.
When you read David Pogue’s biography on his website, you discover some interesting tidbits that you never knew before. For example, I knew that Mr. Pogue’s background before becoming a technology guru was as a Broadway composer and performer. What I did NOT know was that he grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on the east side of Cleveland. I’ve lived in the Cleveland area my whole life and recently worked near Shaker Heights in Beachwood, so I feel a little obligated to show some love to a fellow Northeast Ohioan, even if he’s moved to The Big Apple (note to LeBron – Don’t follow David Pogue). There’s no need for the geographical nepotism, though, as I have nothing but praise for David Pogue’s latest edition of iPhone: The Missing Manual.
Pogue started “The Missing Manual” series of books in 1999 as an answer to the dry, highly technical manuals which come with many pieces of technology, both hardware and software. These books have become even more invaluable now that manuals are either a PDF file on a CD or kept on a website for download. Some people just want to know how their technology works without having to take a Master’s level course first. David Pogue’s writing is down to earth, funny, and USEFUL, taking a look at every feature the iPhone has to offer and breaking it down into how it’s useful and how it works. You actually ENJOY reading and learning about technology.
Much like his biography, there are plenty of details about the iPhone which you may already know as you discovered them on your own or through research on the Internet, while there are plenty of other details which make you go, “I HAD NO IDEA!!!”. One such detail was the ability on an iPhone 3GS to set the lighting level of the camera by tapping on the viewfinder. The iPhone analyzes the lighting level of that particular location and adjusts the entire picture accordingly. My wife has owned a 3GS for almost a year and had no idea this was available. My “lowly” 3G can’t even do that, so I had no idea, myself. Now, imagine reading an entire book full of these little facts. You really do become an iPhone expert as a result.
This was my first excursion into “The Missing Manual” series and I am definitely going to check out other titles available, both by David Pogue and by other contributers. If they’re written as well as the iPhone edition, then technology has become much more accessible to the common user. I highly recommend reading “iPhone: The Missing Manual, 3rd Edition” and hope that you find it as useful and entertaining as I have.