Micro2000 now offers a most complete home study course for the A+ Certification exam. Bob Wright does an insightful review of the entire package.
The good people at Micro2000 have a new program available, “Micro2000 A+ Training and Certification Course.” I decided to take on the task of checking out this home study course and after several weeks of reviewing the entire suite of this product came away very impressed.
Today we have thousands of very talented people building and fixing computers, even employed doing this job. A lot of what they know they have learned along the way and from our mailing list PCBUILD. Are you one of these people? Have you thought about making a career of working with PCs? The first place everyone needs to start is by achieving their A+ certification, even if they are already working repairing or building PCs. This designation tells they world that you have the knowledge and expertise in the PC industry. It also states that you took the time to learn all about PCs and you are qualified to be working in the industry. I highly recommend anyone in the PC industry at least achieve this certification.
Generally speaking there are courses you can take, sitting in classes rooms with computer labs that can take between a few months to a year to prepare to sit for the A+ certification test. But, not everyone has the time or inclination to expend that much time from their lives. That is why a home study course like this one can prepare you at your own pace.
The course materials
I will tell you from the onset that I found this home study course to be laid out in a very practical and easy to use format. It consists of multi-media CD, four manuals and one of my favorite products, Micro2000’s Microscope diagnostic software. The CD is easy to use, just install it and follow the easy to use prompts. The CD is in Macromedia’s Flash format. This allows the greatest amount of material on the CD in a very interactive format. It also allows that you do not require any special software to use the CD and that it will run on even a low end Pentium PC. I played a great deal of the material on the CD and found it all to be concise, well thought out and easy to understand. Even better, it is setup so that advanced users can skip along to areas where they need to most training. Actually the entire course is setup in this fashion, allowing the novice to work through the entire course or the advanced tech to by-pass areas they are already strong in.
The manuals are the true heart of the course. They include a book on Computer Basics, PC Hardware, Operating Systems and a Study Guide. In the past, the A+ certification required knowledge of Apple computers, but with the changes in the testing, leaving out all mention of Apple, the Operating Systems manual is totally devoted to Microsoft products. Remember this is a course to prepare you for the A+ Certification test and although Linux is growing in popularity, the test does not at this time include anything about it, so the manual stays strictly to Microsoft products. The set I received from Micro2000 makes no reference to Microsoft’s XP operating system, but it is strong on Windows2000, which is the back bone of XP… and it will be quite sometime before the average tech regularly runs into XP anyway. A strong knowledge of Windows2000 will serve well when working with XP, so the course is not dated in any way.
The Basics manual is much what you would think, a strong overview of PCs. It is a good read for anyone, covering topics that many of us have used but due to lack of regular use forget. But, it is was Volume #2 or the PC Hardware manual that I found the most interesting. It covered the entire gamut of hardware, from motherboards, IRQs, memory, hard drives, Raid, peripherals like printers… to even networking. Actually, although the course only covers the basics of networking, (there exist other more advance certifications for networking), the entire course deals with it quite well. I should mention that although the course touches on monitors, it is only a brief overview and the average tech does not deal with monitors anyway, (it is a specialty all to it’s self).
The Operating Systems manual is devoted to preparing you for the A+ Certification test, so the first 80 or so pages are devoted to MS Dos. I have always believed a strong knowledge of DOS stands everyone good and of course the test requires it. The rest of the manual is devoted to Windows9x, (which includes Windows Millennium - ME), NT work station/server and touches on Windows2000. There is nothing here that is too difficult for any average person to find difficult to grasp. There is not any advanced discussion of the intricacies of the registry, but once again that is not part of the A+ Certification. All in all, this manual provides a great knowledge base of these operating systems.
The Microscope diagnostic software is a great addition to this set, giving you a troubleshooting tool and is something you will use regularly, (at least I do in here in my shop). If you have not used or seen Micro2000’s Microscope software, be sure to take a look on their website: http://www.micro2000.com
CONS – Problems Micro2000
I thought about this a long time, since nothing is perfect. I did have an issue with the CD installing Adobe Acrobat Reader v4 on my system without checking for an existing copy or better. I have the Adobe Acrobat v5, full edition on my PC. This created a bit of havoc and I found myself reinstalling my Adobe Acrobat. So, what else can I find to complain about? Nothing really comes to mind as I consider my knowledge of the A+ Certification exam or the course materials. I really believe this is a complete course. The only issue is going to be will you use it? Will you be self disciplined enough to spend a few hours each day to learn the materials? That is the problem with any home study course. You must make the commitment of time and use it.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The manuals, with the interactive CD and Study Guide makes the entire course simple to understand, easy to use and for anyone who can devote time and self discipline into studying at home. This course is a real winner. I can easily believe anyone can become capable of passing their A+ certification test after using these materials. If you have questions while using these materials, you always have access to our mailing list PCBUILD to ask questions, keeping you on track. The people at Micro2000 have always had top of the line products and this is another one.
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