computer book of the month is The Bios Companion by Phil Croucher.
Long-time readers of this column will recall I have recommended his
book before. This tells you everything you ought to know about the
BIOS in your system. Post codes, options, upgrades, you name it.
Years ago, I called an earlier edition of this invaluable and I see
no reason to change my view. Recommended."
"Croucher's book was invaluable 20 years ago and remains so today...... Every one of the 468 pages holds useful information, the author having zero tolerance for padding."
PC Plus Magazine
"You've completerly impressed me with the quality and scope of your guides - extreme care has obviously gone into their research and preparation."
"His style is lovely: clear, jargon-free where possible, chatty and friendly with beautiful short paragraphs. It [Communications & Networks] joins my list of 'I wish I'd written it' books. I haven't come across such a good subject book in a long time at this price."
Personal Computer World
"To any micro owner who wants to know what this comms business is all about, [Communications & Networks] is certainly one of the best around. ... Croucher is not only knowledgable about his subject, he's interested in it and communicates that interest to you. "
New Computer Express
"There are few books about which explain as accurately and comprehensively as [Communications & Networks] does what communications are all about. The glossary is excellent."
"...any PC user with a genuine interest in using his machine to its full potential will recognise [Communications & Networks] for the completely invaluable tool and often the inspiration that it is."
"[Communications & Networks] is the type of book you can read on a bus or train without getting a headache from trying to understand what it means."
"As a recently reformed computer illiterate myself, I appreciated the author's straighforward yet humourous and light-hearted style of writing. He manages to strike the balance between too much and too little information. ... [Computing Under Protest] is never in danger of either boring or confusing the reader."
"Good documentation is important for any software, but even more so for an operating system - the documentation [for DOS 386 Professional] has some exceptionally clear explanations. Altogether, the documentation is an example of the right way of doing things, and other software manufacturers would do well to take note."
"The DOS 386 Professional manual sets arrived at 2130 local time today. We have had a brief look at them and wish to congratulate IMS on the excellent, clear and concise manner in which they have been presented."
"I remain impressed by Mr. Croucher's fluid writing style, practical orientation, enthusiasm, and strong technical knowledge."
Lance A Leventhal
Slawson Communications, Inc
JAR Professional Pilot Studies
"Its real value lies in taking the plethora of booklets and ring-bound
photocopies associated with commercial examinations and condensing them
into an attractive and portable form. The guy really does deserve a medal
~ he has made a genuine contribution to the body of professional aviation
literature assembled during the course of the last century.
I heartily recommend it to students of commercial flight, if only as
a souvenir of their efforts... "
Pro Pilot's Rumour Network
"(The) Book is quite a good compliment to our notes for students. We will
be recommending all our students buy the books.... "
Naples Air Centre
"I got your book last month and am in the process of ploughing through
it! Actually, I really like it and find it very interesting and easy to
"So far I have found your book an extremely helpful reference manual to carry around in my flight bag."
"I wish to commend you on a "work of art". I wish the
CAA would produce a quick reference easy to read manual such as yours. Truly
Here's a list of the books we do for PC technicians:
Tech Support CD ROM
set containing the text from The A+ Reference Book, together with 1200
Mb of assorted patches and drivers useful to a technician
in the field, such as sound & video cards, printers, scanners,
cd-roms, radio cards and other useful stuff, including BIOS crackers.
"The CD's arrived. A great collection of info. I have been looking for a comprehensive reference for some time now, and I am so glad that I came across your website in my search for a tech support reference. This is a great value, especially with the Bios Companion included!"
The A+ Reference Book is a major source of reference that follows the A+ syllabus, containing over 2000 pages, including The BIOS Companion. It is aimed at four types of people:
The information (in printable PDF format) covers:
- Firstly, the A+ technician, who needs guidance
for items not covered in the exams, like multimedia or games machines
which are definitely not mentioned (for those who are not already
aware, the A+ exam is multi-choice paper that reflects the experience
of a technician who has been working for 6 months in an average
repair shop. The problem is, you can't usually get the job until
the exam has been passed, producing a small Catch-22. Another
is that some of the subject matter is wrong, but that's dealt
with in the relevant sections). In addition, talking of technicians,
there are "paper MCSEs" who have done the theory but have never
had practical experience.
- Next, there is the person in a small office who
ends up looking after a collection of computers on top of doing
a normal job, who has had no formal training, is unlikely to get
it, and with no time to study by themselves - when they do try
and read books or magazines at work to keep themselves up to date,
they are immediately given something more "useful" to do. For
them, this book will supply some of the elementary knowledge they
need to do the job effectively.
- Power users are covered, too, either working by
themselves or with incompetent tech support. Such people are quite
capable of doing the job but don't have reference material to
hand. They will find what they need in these pages.
- Finally, there are remote workers, who have nothing
but telephone access to help when their only machine is down and
they cannot access the Internet.
- Secret BIOS settings
- over 6600 hard drives
- over 700 motherboards
- Expansion Cards (NICs, HD controllers, etc)
- Memory (the 6 types used by a PC)
- FCC IDs
There is a lot more - the above is only a small sample
(it includes the BIOS Companion - click here to see the contents).
The book is actually well above the A+ and N+ standards and is suitable
for CNE and MCSE studies as well - in fact, the text it contains is good enough to be recommended for the MSc course in Data Communications offered
by Kingston University in London, England, yet it is easy to read
and understand (well, as much as it can be with computers!). It's
especially useful after all those exams as an invaluable addition
to your toolkit, so you won't throw it away like all those other
About The Author
Phil Croucher's computer books are the result of several years'
experience of freelance network management, system building and
repairs, being A+, N+ and Netware certified. He has been involved
with computing since 1986, starting off with a variation of Acorn's
BBC computer, the Torch, using its own version of CP/M, called CP/N.
From there he has fond memories of the Sirius and the Macintosh,
but has mostly been involved with IBM compatibles of all shapes
He has been a regular guest on AM1290's Saturday morning
computer chat show, Experts On Call, and has written several
columns for UK's Computer Shopper, PC Plus and Pilot
Phil is also involved in Aviation, and holds JAR,
UK, and Canadian professional licences for helicopters and aeroplanes. He currently flies for Aerogulf Services and writes the safety column for Heli-Ops Magazine.