[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #15                5-18-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                  THE ZEPHYR II BBS (894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986
  A few weeks ago Jim Tibbets sent to me a suggestion for an
article. This week I'll fulfill that request.
  Most of you probably know by now that I make my living as 
a freelance writer. As a rough background, I have about
9 million words and 10,000 photos in print. That's a LOT of
  Most of it is in the form of articles and stories, with a
little better than half of it having been produced while I was
on staff with several magazines.
  Another large chunk comes from a series of books I've been
writing for CHILTON (the people who are so famous for their 
automotive manuals). And this series is the topic of this
week's issue.
  The request made by Jim Tibbets was to provide a quickie
review of each book in the series.
  And I'm just enough of an egotist to do it!
                           THE SERIES
  The life of a freelance writer is one of constantly coming up
with new and salable ideas. When this flow stops, the career comes
to a screeching halt. Fortunately, finding ideas is one of the
easiest parts of the business. (I always have more than I can 
possibly handle.)
  Some years ago I was Associate Editor for a magazine group. To
make my job easier, and to make production of the magazine more
efficient, I installed a typeset terminal in my home. That way I
could do my writing and have it typset in one easy step. That also
spoiled me. Instead of using a typewriter, I was using a computer.
  I left that magazine group, then sold the typesetter. It couldn't
be easily used to write for other publications anyway. But, as I 
said, I was spoiled. After a couple of months back on the typewriter,
I went out and bought my IBM.
  I was already used to testing and fixing the typeset computer,
so taking care of the PC was no big deal. But some other people I
knew, diagnosis of problems and the subsequent repair, etc. WAS
a problem.
  With that in mind, I wrote up a basic outline for a book that I
tentatively titled, "The Care and Feeding of Your IBM PC" and 
handed the idea over to my agent. He presented it to Chilton.
  As it turned out, the day that they got the proposal was the
same day that they had been talking about doing just such a book.
(Talk about being in the right place at the right time!)
  They changed the title to "How to Repair and Maintain Your IBM PC"
and the series was off.
  While the book was being written, Chilton came to another 
decision. Their line of computer books was failing miserably. 
I'd proposed to do a companion book on the Apple computers, but
was told that it would be unlikely that they'd be interested.
  Well . . . the IBM book was announced. Before it was even off
the presses it had sold out the first run in pre-orders, and
consequently broke all of Chilton's sales records. As soon as 
the statistics and numbers were made known to the head honchos
at Chilton they called me and said, "Let's try one more title.
Go ahead and do the Apple book."
  That one outsold the IBM book. The next book in the series -
on VCRs - outsold both of the previous books combined.
  The series is now 8 books, with other ideas being discussed.
Also the series title was changed. Chilton wanted their name on
it (justifiably), so the present series title is: CHILTON'S GUIDE 
TO . . . REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE  - with the particular topic
taking the place of the dots.
  Topics to take the place of the dots are:
    IBM PC;  Apple Computer;  VCR;  Kaypro;  Macintosh;  
    Home Computer;  Small Appliance;  Large Appliance
  Most of the titles are self-explanatory. The Home Computer
book covers what the others haven't, such as the TRS computers,
Commodores, TIs, Ataris, Zorbas, and so on. 
  The last two are probably not of great interest to Zephyr
users. For now, anyway, I'll leave them alone other than to say
that they are divided into two sections - with the first being
about all the basics of electricity, repair and diagnostics
techniques, etc.; and the second going into the individual
                       THE COMPUTER BOOKS
  To avoid needless repetition - all of the computer books have 
the same basic Table of Contents. The material is changed where
needed to apply to the specific computer at hand.
  INTRODUCTION:  This tells the reader a little about the book and
how to use it. Also given are the tools needed, some basic 
instruction on how to use them, and a list so you know what the
costs will be.
  CHAPTER ONE:  This chapter is primarily concerned with safety -
both yours and the computer's. Also covered are topics that 
concern working in and around the computer, such as soldering,
component replacement, and general maintenance.
  CHAPTER TWO:  Chapter 2 gives you information for general 
diagnostics. What has gone wrong? Where? Where do you start
looking? And *how* do you start looking? You'll find that more
than 90% of all malfunctions can be cured with nothing more 
than your fingers - IF you know where to look and what to do.
  CHAPTER THREE:  The single most sensitive part of a computer
is the software. Whether you are using cassette or diskette, a
malfunction is more likely to be caused by the software than 
any other reason. (Well, any reason other than "operator 
malfunction.") This chapter even gives you information on how
diskettes and cassettes are made.
  CHAPTER FOUR:  The electronics of a computer rarely break
down. More prone to failure are the mechanical parts - and
particularly the disk drives or cassette drives. Chapter 4 goes 
through the drives for the particular computer, including how
to diagnose a problem, how to fix most problems, how to 
disassemble the drive and even how to install a replacement.
  CHAPTER FIVE:  RAM chips are particularly prone to getting
zapped by power fluctuations. Many other chips are equally
prone to damage. Chapter 5 discusses circuit board problems,
again with diagnosis, testing, replacement, and so forth. 
Details are given in each book as to how to disassemble the
computer and how to take out the various circuit boards 
(including the main circuit board).
  CHAPTER SIX:  The various circuits of a computer require 
either 12 volts or 5 volts, both DC. To provide this is the 
power supply. Complete diagnostics are given in this chapter,
along with how to replace a malfunctioning unit. The same 
chapter covers the keyboard, the printer, and the monitor.
The usual topics are covered - diagnosis, disassembly, testing,
repair, and so forth.
  CHAPTER SEVEN:  The easiest way to fix a malfunction is to not
let it happen in the first place. That's the topic of Chapter 7.
Maintenance and prevention of problems.
  CHAPTER EIGHT:  It's pretty rare that you buy a complete system
and never add to it later. Almost always some new device or 
gimmick comes along that you just HAVE to have. Even if you
don't add to the system, the time is bound to come when an 
existing piece of equipment has to be replaced, which means 
that it also has to be installed. Chapter 8 takes care of this.
If your system has 2 disk drives, for example, how does the 
computer know which is which? Chapter 8 tells you how to configure
any disk drive for your computer. It also covers, where applicable,
hard drives, printers, modems, networking, accessory circuit boards,
new software, and whatever else applies to that particular 
  CHAPTER NINE:  Sooner or later you're likely to find yourself
facing a problem that you can't fix, even with the book. At very
least, you're bound to want to buy something new for your system.
Either way, you'll be dealing with a dealer. Chapter 9 gives you
tips for working with mail order, with a local dealer, with a
technician for repairs, terms for repair, and solving problems that
come up in the transactions.
  Each book also comes with a complete troubleshooting guide at the
end of the book; then a section of tables and charts with the 
technical information needed (such as pinouts and other specs)
to keep your system up and running. Finally comes a glossary of
terms. (What does P.E.T. mean? You probably have a bunch of it 
sitting around. What is a cylinder?)
  Some of the books contain certain specific information that is
applicable only to that computer. For example, in the Macintosh
book there are additional sections on  1) Disassembling the 
ImageWriter; 2) Turning your Mac into a FatMac; 3) Making a tool
to safely open the case. The Kaypro book contains an extra 
chapter that deals specifically with the newer Kaypro 16, and
the Apple book has a chapter devoted to the IIc.
  The Apple book is available in two versions. One is just the
book itself. It can also be purchased as a package along with a
special diagnostics diskette. This diskette tests all of the 
major functions of the computer system, including the various
plug-in cards.
                          The VCR Book
  The VCR book is somewhat different from the computer books. 
(Obviously, since VCRs are different from computers!)
  The book begins with the usual chapter on how to use the book
and the tools needed. It then goes to the usual chapter on 
safety - yours and the VCR's. 
  Chapter 3 covers a range of topics. It begins by discussing
the advantages and disadvantages of VHS and Beta; plus the
purchase of equipment, new and used. Next comes the subject of
the legality of taping and dubbing, including techniques for
doing just this (legally, of course).
  Chapter 4 is a basic chapter, but a very important one. To fix
something, you have to have at least some idea of how it all
works. That's what Chapter 4 is all about. How does a VCR do
what it does? 
  Chapter 5 is dedicated to hooking up the VCR to almost any
conceivable cabling scheme. Connecting to a single TV is easy.
Anyone can do that. But, if your viewing system has a satellite
dish, a local antenna, and a local cable company for input, and
if it's to feed any of 3 individually switched TV sets so that
anyone viewing has total control of which input they are to watch,
plus switching so you can record from any source (including a 
second VCR) . . . well, that can get complicated. Chapter 5 will
not only show you how to do it, but will also show you how you
can save LOTS of money by making your own cables.
  Chapter 6 deals with the cassettes. What a lot of people don't
realize is that a tangled and messed up cassette CAN be fixed.
It's not even difficult to do. This chapter even tells you how
to get a tangled tape out of the machine. And before the chapter
concludes, it gives you information on buying cassettes.
  Chapter 7 goes again into one of the most important topics there
is when it comes to fixing machines - don't let it break in the
first place. Proper maintenance can easily double, triple or
more the life of your VCR. This chapter tells you precisely what
to do, and when, and how; including cleaning of the heads.
  Chapter 8 details testing of the circuitry, using nothing more
complicated that a VOM. 
  Chapter 9 gives you a troubleshooting guide, and all the steps
you need to quickly track down the problem.
  Chapter 10 goes into working with a dealer when that becomes
necessary - and when to KNOW when it is necessary. Also given in
this chapter is a complete listing, with addresses and phone
numbers, of all the VCR manufacturers.
  Chapter 11 is a maintenance log. It provides spaces to keep 
track of what you've done, when and how much it cost. By keeping
this up, the resale value of your VCR should be considerably
higher, since you have ready proof of the condition of the VCR.
   A special chapter is provided to cover video cameras, related
equipment and other devices (such as switch boxes, tape rewinders,
etc.). And finally comes the ever-present glossary.
                        THE SERIES AGAIN
  For those interested, the list of titles again is:
  That is how you'll most likely find them listed, although the
first two can also be found with the same series title as the
rest, depending on when the book was printed.
  Last I heard, the cover price for each title was $12.50, with 
the Apple package with diagnostics running $49.95. All the books
up through the Macintosh are available now. The general computer
book (Home Computer) - which covers the TRS series, the Commodores
and so forth - will be available any day now.
  B. Dalton and Waldenbooks both carry the books, as do a number
of other book stores (including ASU's). If you can't find the
title you want, ask. They might have sold out; or maybe they 
just haven't ordered that title for that store. 
  If they don't have it in stock, any of the books can be special
ordered, without any additional charge to you. It will take them
about a month to get in the book you want, although sometimes it's
much faster.
  And if you *still* can't get satisfaction, you can order 
directly from Chilton. They even have a toll free number!
  And if STILL don't get what you want, let me know and I'll
personally see to it.
                           A NEW BOOK
  I've been working without a day off for several years. As soon
as this recent batch of deadlines is met, I intend to take a 
much needed vacation. However, that doesn't mean that I'll sit
back and do nothing.
  As a matter of fact, I have a couple of new projects "in the
fire" right now.
  One I'm REALLY excited about is tentatively titled, "The New
Father's Panic Book." My agent even has a publisher all lined
up for it.
  I made mention of this a while back on the Public Board of 
Zephyr, and got some response. Let me try it once more.
  I'm inviting participation from the users here, and even 
friends of the users. I'm mostly after those who are about to
be parents for the first time and those who have recently 
become such. However, I'm also interested in talking to people
who are long-time parents, and who will one day BE parents.
  To this end, I have a basic questionaire form all set and 
ready that describes the purpose of the book and what I'm
after concerning the project.
  Due to a suggestion from Phil Obenour (one of our newest 
users - I've paid *my* subscription dues!!!), the questionaire
is available for download from the magazine board. To download 
it, press "u" (for upload/download) and download the file 
named "Question."
  If you have any questions about the books, feel free to ask -
either on the board here or in mail.
  In the past I've also done an article on how to break in to 
the field of writing as a career. Once again let me extend the
invitation to those of you who might like the idea of writing
for a living to feel free to ask me any questions you might have
about it.
  And a good way to start would be to do a guest issue of the 
magazine here. If you're interested, let me know in the mail 
section of Zephyr and I'll tell you exactly how to go about it.
  Next week:
  I'm still under a tight deadline. Consequently, I really don't
know what I'll be doing for the next issue. It will almost 
certainly be something I can knock together quick.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.