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PC ODS User's Guide


by Chris Devaney
Que Corporation, 1984, 330 p., $12.96
7960 Castleway Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Reviewed by Harry E. Pence*

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Fall 1984 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.
This book was designed with a specific purpose in mind: to teach a beginner how to use both basic and advanced features of PC-DOS version 2.0 on an IBM personal computer. Throughout most of the book, the author uses what I would consider to be a true hands-on approach. He explains what the reader should type in at the keyboard as well as what response is expected from the computer, using ·different type fonts to identify which is which. There is even an explanation of the common error messages at the back of the book to make it easier to correct mistakes.
Like many other authors I have read, Deveney urges all users to change to the new versions of DOS in the 2.x series. He suggests several reasons for this, including the increase in minifloppy disk storage, the greater convenience of the new commands, and the improved speed of disk operations. In addition, the newest software products will probably utilize the more powerful features of the latest DOS releases,. and so will require the changeover.
Although this book is designed to teach DOS 2.0, it should be equally useful for the latest release, PC DOS 2 .1. As far as I can determine, the only differe:nce betw:een . these two is that the new rel.e'ase fixes some bugs in the old version and also changes the dis.K reading procedure slightly to prevent data loss on PCjr's that use PC-DOS. No commands seem to have been added or deleted. 
DeVeney covers all of the common DOS commands, including their most useful switches, and discusses all of the important advanced topics. The presentation is excellent throughout,
and the topics are treated in a logical order. In particular, the discussion of the hard disk related commands, such as BACKUP, and RESTORE, are quite clear and include step-by-step explanations of the concept. This is also true in the treatment of hierarchical directories, where the example sets up and revises a multiple level directory. · There is one error in this latter section where an MK is written instead of an MD, but otherwise I found very few errors in the book.
In ·older versions of DOS, the only way to change the configuration of the operating system was by means of a special routine written in assembler. The new versions allow this to be done by simply changing the system configuration file, CONFIG.SYS. With this procedure, it is easy to increase the number of disk buffers for improved random disk access, to install a device driver to control peripherals, or to make other modifications. DeVeney discusses this technique and also the use of the MODE command to change the set-up of the computer. The choice of topics is very good, except that I wished that he had included some discussion of device drivers.
DeVeney has designed the book carefully so that it not only is good for learning the system but also serves as a good reference. Many types of information are summarized in easy to read tables, and approximately a third of the book is a summary of all of the PC-DOS commands. This is not simply a copy of the DOS documentation, but rather an expanded treatment of each command which includes probable error messages, a listing of switches, special rules, and useful notes.
This book is intended to do a definite job, and it accomplishes this task very well. Those who'prefer a hands-on approach to learning about the computer and wish to learn specifically about applications of version 2.0 or 2.1 of PC-DOS on an IBM-PC should find this to be a worthwhile book.
09/21/84 to 09/25/84