Ottawa PC Users' Group (OPCUG)


   Copyright and Usage

   Privacy Policy

   Contact Us


Windows XP Personal Trainer (Book Review)

by Sarah Gelfand

From the point of view of a relative novice in the world of computer operation, this book is a user-friendly introduction to learning the XP Home program. Someone with no previous computer experience would find the language and the instructions clear and explicit. The illustrations are very helpful and there is a casual approach to learning. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, giving the learner a feeling of accomplishment very soon in the process. There are thirteen chapters, at the beginning of which the objectives of the chapter are outlined. The chapters are divided into short lessons. One follows the step-by-step instructions, after which there is a short summary of points called "Quick Reference". Therefore, if one has absorbed the steps, the Quick Reference acts as sufficient reminder of what has been covered. At the end of each Chapter, there is a Lesson Summary, and for the more studious, a Quiz, Homework, and Quiz Answers.

The first four Chapters are essential to the beginning learner: fundamentals such as logging on and off, looking at the start menu, and using the mouse and keyboard. Using the WordPad program, one learns how to start a program, learns the parts of a Window, how to change its size and location, switch between windows, tiling and cascading, etc. Again, using WordPad, one learns to use menus and toolbars, a dialog box, entering and editing text, printing a file, cutting, copying a pasting text, saving and opening files in different locations. The style of the text can be changed by knowing how to change the font and the size of letters, to underline, to use bold letters and change the paragraph alignment. Next, in the Working with Files and Folders lesson, the instructions encompass navigating through files and folders, opening, creating, renaming, copying, moving, and deleting files and folders. One can learn to restore a deleted file and to empty the Recycle Bin. Searching for a file is also covered.

Chapters 5 to 8 inclusive: Customizing the Taskbar and Desktop, Customizing Windows, Free Programs, and Working with Pictures and Multimedia are in the "nice to know", not "must know", and can be left to some later time. Also in the "nice to know" are Chapters 11, 12 and 13: Passwords, Log-ons and Accounts, Networking with Windows XP, Setting up a Network.

More relevant are Optimizing and Maintaining Your Computer and Exploring the Internet. Optimizing and maintaining the hard disc is important and certain operations should be repeated on schedule such as scanning for disc errors, defragmenting and disc cleaning (e.g. removing temporary files). The hard disc should be freed to create as much available room as possible. Also, updating Windows XP should be done fairly frequently. It is also useful to learn how to restore your computer in the case of procedures that did not go well. Installing, Adding and Removing Software, and Installing a Printer are also very useful to know.

Exploring the Internet is something every computer user wants to do. Therefore, learning to browse, search, add favorites, and understand security and the Windows Firewall are particularly important. Then one is introduced to using e-mail, composing and receiving e-mail, using the address book, replying to and forwarding and deleting a message, all of which are essential to know.

In conclusion, this book rates a 10 for easy comprehension and is a "must have" for the beginner with the objective of learning to operate Windows XP.

Bottom Line:

Windows XP Personal Trainer
CustomGuide Inc
Publisher: O'Reilly Books
First Edition: November 2004
Series: Personal Trainer
ISBN: 0-596-00862-7
480 pages, $43.95 CAD

Visit for a 30%
OPCUG discount on this and other O'Reilly books

Originally published: May, 2006

top of page



Archived Reviews





The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.