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Is This Thing On?, revised edition: A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming Revised Edition

138 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0761168829
ISBN-10: 0761168826
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Abby Stokes has taken on the role of the Johnny Appleseed of technology, crisscrossing the country to help “digital immigrants” conquer their fear. She has visited more than 20 states, 120 public libraries, and 100 senior centers/computer clubs, and has hosted webinars across the country. She has taught courses at both Cooper Union and NYU’s School of Lifelong Learning, and has also taught private and corporate clients. Ms. Stokes divides her time between New York City and Niantic, Connecticut.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Revised edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761168826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761168829
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Abby Stokes has single-handedly helped a quarter million Digitally Challenged people cross the Digital Divide and get online. Over the past 20 years, she's visited more than 22 states, 120 public libraries, over 100 senior centers/computer clubs and has hosted webinars across the country. Abby has taught courses in basic computing at both Cooper Union and New York University's School of Lifelong Learning, as well as computer skills to private and corporate clients. She has lectured on the topic across the country. A firm believer that "if my mother can learn the computer anyone can," Abby is confident that everyone can master the computer and navigate the Internet.

Abby is the author of "Is This Thing On?" A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital for Newbies, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming, Dinner Party Disasters: True Stories of Culinary Catastrophe, and It's Never Too Late to Love a Computer. She splits her time between New York City and Niantic, Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Brigid Cahalan on May 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a public librarian working in New York City, I am very interested in bridging the digital divide. Though we librarians--everywhere--have been busily doing this for 20 years or thereabouts, there are still those who resist, are terrified of, or hostile towards learning about computers.

Luckily for us, Abby Stokes lives and works in our city and has made herself available to speak in our library branches. At this point she has spoken in dozens of libraries to enthusiastic crowds, and we are in the midst of preparing another branch tour over the next few months. Part of my job involves teaching a class, "Computer Surfing for 50+", and for years I have always concluded the class by recommending the first (2008) edition of Abby's remarkable book, as both a launching-off point for people wanting to learn more--and a soup-to-nuts mini-course for those who want a solid grounding. Its value is enhanced by the brilliant list of 200 websites, arranged by topic, at the back of the book.

The new edition is what we Abby groupies have been dreaming of: it's all there--smartphones, e-readers, Facebook, Skype, flashdrives, and so much more. The format is very pleasing; a paperback (hence, easy to carry), but large enough and with enough of an inside margin that one can position it next to the computer so you can go page by page, following along with Abby's instructions. And I suspect many people do. The test-drive form for those in the market for a computer is what everyone buying a computer wants without realizing it. The sidebars, charts, and lists of steps and tips, are practical and appealing. At the back of the book you will surely be delighted, as I was, by the glossary, the updated list of 200+ websites, the extensive list of keyboard shortcuts, and the thorough index.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By barbannne on June 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my brother, who is just about convinced to get his first computer because it seems to him that using email and making reservations online is getting almost mandatory. I have been using computers for 16 years, but knew there were some basics, such as cut and paste, and what was Bluetooth, that I didn't know about, so I have read the book first. The book reassures those new to computing that with patience, they ca learn to use the computer for the many positive things ,such as using Skype and sharing photos online. Not a lot of computer jargon is used in the beginning, which can be intimidating. I found the glossary to be helpful, as there were some terms I was not sure of myself.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Perennial Harmony on January 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Petie Reed

Abby P. Stokes says that in 17 years of teaching, she has never found anyone who can not learn to use a computer. Her book: "Is This Thing On?" A Computer Handbook translates geek speak into plain English and gives permission to learn about only what you want or need. Who says we need to know everything about technology to use it? I highly recommend her methods and book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Hildenbrand on August 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not one of the kids, but I feel like I'm catching up with their technology. I've worked with computers on a superficial level for years, just skimming along, asking questions and oft times feeling lost. This wonderful book, 'Is This Thing On?' by Abby Stokes is by far the best go-to guide that I've found. I gave one to my husband, he likes it, (he's like me computer-wise), and I've sent one to my parents who would like to like computers, but are afraid to. Anyway, thanks for making it available, it's a great help.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My major issue with the book is that it absolutely needs updating to cover Windows 8. Like it or hate it, 8 is a major departure from earlier versions of Windows and it's all you're going to find on a new computer these days (2014) unless you get a Mac. But the book seems to end around Windows Vista which is 2 versions and 5+ years ago (which is eons in the tech world).

Also, if you're looking for help with choosing or using smartphones, tablets, etc. you'll find that the book is lacking in details - and here too is also somewhat out of date. There's only one sentence about Android even though it's the most popular OS for all non-Apple mobile devices, and the only tablet mentioned is the iPad even though there are many non-Apple tablets on the market now.

Still, overall I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who isn't experienced with computers and wants to learn how to use their Mac, or their *not* brand-new Windows PC (or if a knowledgable friend/family member first reconfigured their Windows 8 or 8.1 system to be more like old Windows, which isn't hard to do).

But if they have a new Windows 8 (or Windows 8.1) PC they'll be scratching their heads - and if they're looking for buying advice on things like smartphones and tablets, they will not get an accurate picture of what's currently available and most suitable for their needs.

2015 UPDATE:

Microsoft has learned their lesson; a lot of the weirder features of Windows 8 have been removed from Windows 10, and the familiar "Start" menu is back. So if you know Windows 7 or Vista, using Windows 10 will be less of a shock than using Windows 8. That means that more of this book is applicable to Windows 10 compared to Windows 8 - but the book still needs updating.
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