1: Getting to Know the A+ Exams
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TIMES WILL VARY
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Lab Exercise 103: Gathering Equipment
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Although it s theoretically possible to obtain your CompTIA A+ certi cation by doing nothing but reading books, you ll be far better prepared for the real world if you get your hands on some real equipment so that you can practice You also need some tools so that you can take things apart and put them back together Finally, you ll need some operating system software in particular, Windows 2000 and Windows XP If you re taking a course, all of this equipment should be provided to you If not, you could nd yourself facing some fairly serious cash outlay trying to buy everything you need!
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In this lab, you ll discover some rather interesting ways to get inexpensive or free hardware and software None of these ideas will work every time, but with a little patience, you ll be amazed how much you can get for very little! At the end of this lab, you ll be able to Acquire inexpensive or free hardware and software Acquire a standard PC technician toolkit
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Lab Materials and Setup
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The materials you need for this lab are A telephone Transportation A PC with Internet access
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Getting Down to Business
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Most of the objectives on the CompTIA A+ exams don t require state-of-the-art hardware If you re willing to use systems that are a few years old, you can get plenty of good hands-on practice with the techniques you need to know to pass the CompTIA A+ certi cation exams Step 1 Go on a scavenger hunt Get a list of the smaller mom and pop PC repair companies and small PC parts suppliers in your town Drive to these companies (don t call them) and ask them, What do you guys do with your broken or obsolete parts The vast majority of these stores simply throw the parts away! Ask when they toss stuff and if you can have what they throw away Most of these companies pay to get rid of equipment and will be glad to give it to you Oh, and you can forget the big chain stores they almost never let folks have equipment
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Lab Exercise 103: Gathering Equipment
Step 2 Shop the sale bins at the local computer parts stores You ll always nd one or two pieces of equipment at outrageously low prices Granted, you may end up using a bright pink Barbie keyboard, but if it only costs $3, who cares Don t forget about rebates you can often get a part for free after rebate! Really! Step 3 Tell everyone you know that you re looking for PC hardware Almost every organization will have occasional in-house sales where they sell older (but still good) PCs, printers, and so on to employees If you can get in on some of these sales, you ll have some amazing deals come your way!
You ll often nd that older computers still have the Windows 98 or Windows Me operating system software installed If you come across one of these systems, see if you can work with the seller or donor to get the licensed disk Working with an older operating system (even DOS) will introduce you to the installation and con guration process Having an operating system installed will also enable you to verify that the hardware is working
Step 4 Take one weekend to check out local garage sales People often sell older PCs at a tiny fraction of their original cost If you re not afraid to barter a bit, you ll get incredible deals just watch out for equipment that s simply too old to be worthwhile
I avoid PC ea markets The problem is that these folks know the value of their computer equipment, so it s often hard to nd excellent deals
Step 5 Locate the local PC user groups in your town almost every town has at least one Explain your situation to them; you ll usually nd someone who s willing to give you a part or two, and you may also nd others studying for the CompTIA A+ exams You may even be able to start or join a study group! Step 6 Speaking of study groups, try teaming up with as many fellow students as you can to pool cash for parts and to work together If you re in a course, this is easy your fellow students are your study group! Have everyone go equipment hunting using the different methods described to get equipment, and pool the items you nd for everyone to use You might even hold a drawing after you all get certi ed to choose who gets to keep the equipment