If 'help' menus fail, try computer books

Let's continue our discussion of computer help. Last time we talked about using Help menus. If this failed, the next step was to try to locate good books where we could find answers.

My personal library is fairly large. Undoubtedly this is because I feel that the price of a book is worth it if I can find answers to one or more very specific questions. So, I have lots of books. Some are on Windows, many concern web development and others even are about crazy topics in mathematics like cryptography. Maybe I go to these books a couple of times a year, but they are there if I need them, which is what's important.

Sometimes the most difficult thing is finding a good source of books and then assistance in finding just the right one.

We are fortunate in our area in having two very good places to find computer and technical books.

One of these is at MicroCenter here in Tustin. The people there have put together an exceptional library of computer and technical books along with a wide selection of computer magazines. And maybe most important, James Queen, Liza and Alex are there to help with suggestions whatever your level of expertise.

Another place is Sci-Tech Books in Irvine. While primarily there to serve the academic community, they have an outstanding computer section. And the people are very helpful. They also have some interesting discount plans. You can visit their web site at

If you have spare time, it's fun to go to either store and just browse. You may be surprised at the number of references that are available in the computer field.

And of course, don't forget to browse through on the World Wide Web. You can't get the personal help you might need but they have a wide selection.

Recently I discovered a set of books that I hadn't used before. They are from Peachpit Press in Berkeley, CA. They publish a series called the Visual Quickstart Guide. You can browse their catalog by going to What I like about them is that, in their words, they "use pictures rather than lengthy explanations." This is great if you simply want to find out how to do something. They have dozens of these guides covering many popular computer topics. They are well written and sell for less than $20.

Just the other day, a young lady at Sci-Tech showed me the Shelly Cashman series. They also use a visual approach and she said that they are becoming popular with her customers. Worth a look though they are expensive.

For the adventuresome, there are some rather thick books, particularly those from Que Corporation, which are quite comprehensive. They are not bedtime reading.

Even Microsoft Press has come out with some good books lately. They actually are readable.

Again, because there are so many books covering so many topics, visit Jim Queen at MicroCenter or the people at Sci-Tech and tell them what you are looking for.

Now, if you still can't find the answers to your questions, it's off to the Internet and the Knowledge Bases or the Newsgroups. Next column. In the mean time, bring your questions to "Coffee and Computers" at the Senior Center on Friday mornings.

Until then, remember, keep the neurons happy, the synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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