Originally created 11/26/03

Book offers ideas for ailing PCs



When Americans give thanks this week, a whole industry will give special thanks to Microsoft - that's the industry that makes a living dealing with Windows software built-in annoyances, just as the folks who peddle flea collars should give thanks for fleas.

The latest Windows-related effort is an informative and amusing book by Steve Bass called PC Annoyances - How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer. At $19.95 and published by O'Reilly, the 176-page paperback is worth a look and is a good stocking stuffer for anyone who uses a PC.

Mr. Bass, a contributing editor and columnist for PC World magazine, has a clear, direct and entertaining voice as he deals with the ways in which Microsoft annoys. Indeed, in the book's dedication, he writes: "I want to thank Bill Gates, his Microsofties, and the entire Redmond Empire. Without them, this book wouldn't be possible (or even necessary)."

Mr. Bass covers and offers good tips on e-mail, Windows XP, which he bills as the "cure" for previous Windows versions, the Internet, Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer, Music Video and CDs and hardware.

The fixes he offers are straightforward and well explained, and the book is full of references to utility programs that may be downloaded from the Web site www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances, which, he points out, saves $5 on the cover price of the book by not including a CD-ROM, as is fairly common in computer books.

Both novices and tech-geezers will benefit from the advice. Take a look.

A LOT OF the PC pricing that's south of $600 doesn't include a monitor, but don't let than deter you. If the monitor on your existing system is satisfactory, the odds are good that it will work just fine connected to a new PC. If you do want to consider a new monitor, remember that the flat-panel LCD displays are coming down in price but still cost more than a conventional monitor with a comparable viewing area.

Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to Larry Blasko, The Associated Press, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail lblasko@ap.org.