Everyone should learn to assemble computers

I recommend that everybody learns how to build their computers from parts. It's not that hard; you could probably learn everything you need to know in 3 hours (as opposed to taking a 2 year program dedicated to computer assembly and repair). One reason is to avoid the big name pre-assembled computer manufacturers (like Compaq, Dell and Gateway). From personal experience, Dell and Compaq tend to use non-standardized parts, so if something breaks, or if you want to upgrade something (for example, replacing your CD burner with a DVD burner), you're pretty much at the mercy of the Compaq (for example), who can either force you to buy their DVD burner, or worst, force you to buy a new computer.

Second reason is you can usually get the best price by buying exactly the components you need. Dell might force you to buy a CD drive with your new computer, for example, but if you already have a spare DVD burner lying around, you don't really need the CD drive.

Finally, just by learning how to assemble the parts together, as a side effect, you'll learn about computer hardware in general, and you'll tend to make more educated guesses about what you should upgrade and what you shouldn't. When should you get more RAM versus a faster CPU? Making suggestions for upgrades is extremely difficult unless you're actually there using the computer, so if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, you have to make your upgrading decisions yourself.

On that note, Dell is being sued over a bait-and-switch charges: "One plaintiff is a San Francisco nurse who said she bought a Dell notebook computer listed at $599 along with an $89 printer, but was billed $1,352 for her order. Another plaintiff said Dell shipped him products of lower quality than the ones he had ordered from the company's Web site. [Dell] then resisted his efforts to resolve the problem, he said."

"We got quite a few complaints. We also saw quite a few complaints online," said Reed Kathrein, an attorney at the law firm. "The theme appears to be a bait and switch, where what Dell does is attracts you with one ad and then substitutes."

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