Careers: Interviews
World-renowned Hardware Expert and Authority on Data-Recovery...

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with the universally esteemed Scott Mueller, considered the most authoritative, and trusted hardware voice with a highly respected international reputation. As president of Mueller Technical Research, he spends upwards of 25-weeks on the road each year, as an eminent training expert in PC hardware, operating systems, and data-recovery techniques.

 

Scott is a world-renowned author, distinguished teacher, and highly sought-after speaker. His book “Upgrading and Repairing PCs” is an international best seller with more than 2.3 million copies sold—a figure rare in the computing publishing field, making his book the highest selling essential guide in the history of hardware publishing. His latest edition is now available. Scott’s other recent works include “Upgrading and Repairing Laptops”, “Repairing PCs Video Training Course”, and “Upgrading and Repairing Servers”.

 

Scott has taught hardware repair in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe including for Fortune 500 corporations, innumerable agencies, governments, entrepreneurs, PC repair professionals, and major hardware/software corporations. His numerous outstanding articles have appeared in many publications including the prestigious Forbes, and Investors Business Daily. Together with valued appearances with TechTV, he is a top-ranking industry expert for the media.

 

Discussion:

 

Q: Scott, as a foremost expert in hardware, we are most fortunate to have you taking time out to do this interview.

 

A: Thanks for asking, as usual, I am greatly honored by the request!

 

Q: The last time we talked, you were working on the last round of modifications to the Grand Cherokee. How is this project coming along?

 

A: Unfortunately, no progress has been made on any of my vehicle projects, mainly due to the fact that we’ve moved! If you’ve ever moved both your home and business twice in one year (and lived out of boxes in temporary housing during the in-between time), you will know that it isn’t much fun. My main project since our last interview has been just moving, setting up a new office (including wired and wireless networks), plus moving our home, garage, etc. Once I’m unpacked and organized, I’ll finish up the Jeep, and move on to finishing the Road King.

 

Q: Can you share your top five tips from the latest edition of “Upgrading and Repairing PCs?”

 

A: 1) Power supplies are still the most failure prone component in a modern PC. Keep a high quality spare on hand, or consider replacing the cheap stock unit included with your system with something more powerful and of higher quality.

 

2) Make backups! These days people have more and more data than ever on their systems, often including irreplaceable digital photos and videos. If you don’t backup, you are asking to lose it all, often when you least expect it.

 

3) Stick with systems built using industry standard components, so you will be able to easily upgrade or repair them in the future.

 

4) Change one thing at a time when troubleshooting a problem.

 

5) Stick with popular types of hardware and software, this makes support and troubleshooting much easier as it is far more likely that somebody else has the same problems you do, and may have already figured out a solution.

 

Q: Your recent book, “Upgrading and Repairing Laptops,” is a “must read” and garnering considerable attention. What are the ten most compelling reasons why our audience should purchase this book?

 

A: 1) Laptops sales are growing at rates far exceeding desktop systems, and new capabilities such as wireless networking are making laptops the system of choice for many users. More and more people are using laptops as their only system. My book shows the reasons why a laptop may or may not be the best type of system for you.

 

2) Laptops are by nature more proprietary in their design and construction than desktop systems, and it is important to know what components can or cannot be easily replaced or upgraded.

 

3) Laptops are much more expensive to purchase than a desktop with similar processing power, knowing the differences between all of the choices on the market can save you a lot of money when purchasing a new system.

 

4) Laptops are much more expensive to upgrade or repair than desktop systems, knowing how to remove and replace internal components can save you a lot of money by doing the work yourself.

 

5) Taking apart a laptop (and putting it back together) is not nearly as intuitive as it is on a desktop system, and is normally much more complicated. My current laptop system contains more than 85 screws of 8 different types! My book will show you how most laptops can be successfully taken apart and put back together, and even includes a video CD you can watch that shows the process in detail.

 

6) Wireless networking is one of the reasons that many people purchase laptops; my book explains the ins and outs of the different types of wireless networks available.

 

7) Since laptops are expensive, proper care is important. My book shows you how to care for and maintain your system so it will last.

 

8) There are a lot of marketing terms and hype used to sell laptops, my book explains the differences between actual components (such as the Pentium M processor) and a marketing “brand” (such as Centrino).

 

9) When you are on the road and have problems, the resource guide contained in my book will give you the emergency service and repair phone numbers to call for most of the popular manufacturers.

 

10) Any normal technician can work on desktop systems, distance yourself from the rest by adding laptop servicing to your repertoire.

 

Q: Now share your five valuable gems from the book.

 

A: 1) The video CD included with the book shows in detail how to disassemble a typical laptop system.

 

2) The book explains in detail the differences between mobile and desktop processors. Some laptops actually use desktop processors; I explain why this can either be good or bad.

 

3) Learn why many so-called wide screen displays actually show less information than standard screens, and why extremely high resolution displays may actually not be a good thing (pixels per inch).

 

4) Laptop batteries are very expensive; learn how to properly care for the batteries in your system so that they will last as long as possible.

 

5) My book includes detailed error code listings from all of the major manufacturers, which can be very helpful when boot failures occur.

 

Q: Tell us more about your work with Mueller Technical Research—vision, mission, strategies and goals, major projects, future prospects.

 

A: My mission is to continue writing the most in-depth, accurate, meaningful, and yet easy to read and understand books covering the latest computer hardware and technology.

 

Q: Please comment on your articles and work for the media.

 

A: I did several articles for Maximum PC magazine last year, and would like to write more articles for them and possibly other magazines in 2004.

 

Q: What are the most compelling issues facing IT professionals, hardware administrators, and system integrators today and in the future? How can they be resolved?

 

A: 1) Keeping up with the latest technology and jargon.

 

2) Maintaining existing systems so they work at peak levels and efficiency.

 

3) Servicing systems in the most cost effective way possible.

 

4) Getting the most value for your money when purchasing new systems or components.

 

5) Security.

 

6) Recovering lost or missing data.

 

7) Ensuring that the hardware and software chosen best meets the needs of the users.

 

8) Troubleshooting problems in the most efficient way possible.

 

9) Wireless networking, avoiding pitfalls and maintaining security.

 

Q: List the ten best resources for IT professionals.

 

A: 1) My books.

 

2) Trade publications like Electronic Engineering Times magazine.

 

3) Retail publications like Maximum PC magazine.

 

4) Online forums such as the PC Hardware forum at http://go.compuserve.com/pchardware.

 

5) Websites of organizations or committees that set industry standards (such as the PCI SIG), and the standards documents published by those organizations.

 

6) Component manufacturer websites like Intel.com.

 

7) System manufacturer websites like IBM.com.

 

8) On-line review sites like Tomshardware.com.

 

9) Component vendor sites like Aberdeeninc.com

 

10) Your own personal experiences: Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

 

Q: What kind of computer setup do you have?

 

A: I have close to 20 systems in-house, but my current main system is a ThinkPad R40 with several upgrades and modifications.

 

Q: Scott, we enjoyed your thoughtful answers. Thank you again for your time, and consideration in doing this interview.

 

A: Thanks so much for the opportunity!

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