Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PC Technician Street Smarts, Updated for the 2009 Exam: A Real World Guide to CompTIA A+ Skills

Author: James Pyles
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
Publisher: Sybex; 2nd edition (October 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0470486511
ISBN-13: 978-0470486511

This is one book someone else is going to have to review. I can't, since I wrote it. I'm really excited because this is the first book I've written that's gone into a 2nd edition. To give you some background, I was originally approached a few years back by Sybex to write a "lab manual" of sorts, for a new series they were launching called "Street Smarts". The book was required to map to CompTIA's A+ Certification test domains. The format of the Sybex "Street Smarts" series is focused on the defining and executing of specific tasks as related to the exam objectives and actual technician practices. It's billed as a "year in the life" of a computer technician. What I really liked about writing the book is that the tasks didn't have to be slavishly chained to exam domains. This let me create tasks that technicians actually face in the real world, rather than just in the pages of a textbook.

To provide and document real world exercises, I foraged through my own records of jobs I did as a freelance hardware and desktop support tech. I worked for the IT department of a small, local city for a number of months, and kept all of my trouble tickets. As it turns out, those tickets became my primary source material and, as far as I was concerned as a writer, they were made of gold. The original Street Smarts book provides tutorials for jobs I've never seen in another, similar book. That was and still is the unique value in the series and in my book.

While my days of doing desktop support are behind me, I like to keep my hand in, and leveraged my more recent (informal) experiences to insert updated content for the 2nd edition. I also belong to a number of technical forums and user groups, and was allowed to mine the wisdom of many other students, teachers, and techs in the service of the new book. I think you'll like the result, which is completely updated for Vista and Windows Server 2007 (the latest Windows OSes tested on the exam), as well as other recent changes and updates in the world of computing.

The key in deciding if this book is for you, has to do with your level of experience. The book assumes that the reader has little or no practical experience actually working on computer and printer hardware, or with operating systems and application software, as a support and repair technician. If you've been working as a support tech for 6 months to a year, chances are, you already have the skill sets my book teaches.

On the other hand, if you are looking to the A+ certification as a way to open doors for you into IT, have a little or a lot of "book learning", but not very much in the way of hands and tools experience, The PC Technician Street Smarts book is for you. The first edition did really well in the formal and informal reviews (the latter being folks on discussion groups and readers who have emailed me), and I anticipate the current edition will be just as successful.

The second edition of PC Technician Street Smarts will be out in just a few weeks, but you can "pre-order" it now at

If you have any stories (hopefully positive) to tell about your experiences with the first edition, comment back here on the blog and let me know. If you are one of the first to buy my new book next month, please review it at Amazon, and let me know what you think of it here.

Not to sit on my laurels, but I've got a couple of other book prospects waiting in the wings, even as I write this. I'll let you know more about that when I can.