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Book Review: Is This Thing On? A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming by Abby Stokes

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This is one of the best books about computer basics that I’ve read. Abby Stokes covers everything imaginable in this book from buying your first computer to working with digital cameras and photos. She even has a form in the back you can take with you when you shop for computers so you can compare models you look at.

What impressed me was that the author went beyond the basics of computer operation in Is This Thing On?: A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming and branched out into applications that most users want to be able to use. Starting with how to choose the correct computer for what you want to do, the author moves into how to set it up once you have it home.

In the course of the book, various topics like email, digital cameras, chat rooms, instant messages are covered. Managing to demystify the jargon that frustrates new users is just one goal of this book, but it also gives those new to computing a handy guidebook to get them on their way.

Another topic the author covers is shopping online, walking the reader through placing an order. Included are detailed instructions for using online banking, ordering prescriptions, making airline reservations, and even using eBay. This makes the book an invaluable resource with both new computer users and users who have found their computer frustrating. A troubleshooting section has also been included in the back of the book with basic solutions to everyday problems.

I’ve been a computer user for the last 20 years, and while reading through Is This Thing On?, I was amazed to discover and learn some new information myself about PDAs (personal digital assistants) and cell phones that I wasn't aware of prior to reading the book.

I’d recommend Is This Thing On? for those who are using computers, but aren’t completely comfortable with them, as well as the computer novice. Don’t just learn how to use email; learn to conquer email and the Internet! Your kids will be amazed! 

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About Marta Hoelscher