Working with computers isn't that hard - if you understand the basics. But just about the time you learn them, Microsoft and others decide to make changes (just about the time you get things memorized).
This page was created to help folks are who are new to computers as well as help re-educate those who faced with some of the changes before them.
Computer BasicsIn short computers are made up up both hardware and software components - and they all have their own name.
The Hardware components things you can see and touch. The monitor, keyboard, mouse, tower, cable modem, router, printer, scanner, etc. are all examples of hardware.
The Software components are the programs that are running on the computer. The Operating System (OS), Norton, Roxio, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. are all examples of software.
In order for your computer to work properly, these components must talk to each other. And it's not uncommon to have a break in communication between hardware and software.
Software Drivers (also called, Device Drivers) are small software programs that tell the computer how to talk to the hardware (or work with it). Every hardware component on connected to your computer (even the ones inside the case that you can't see) need drivers to function.
When creating the software or driver, the programmer needs to specify which operating system the program can run on (which is very time consuming). For this reason, programmers will stop programming their newest creation to work with older operating systems (like Win95 or Win98).
Because of device drivers and other hardware changes, any hardware you buy will also have restrictions associated it with it.
This is why it is very important to make sure any hardware or software you buy will work with your current system (if you're upgrading or adding things to it).
Any time you buy hardware or software, you need to check the "Minimum System Requirements" on the box. This list of specs will tell you if that component will work on your current system.
If memorizing your computer specs is difficult, then you may want to write them down keep them in your wallet so you'll have them handy when you are thinking of making a purchase.
The specs you need to know are:
- CPU Speed
- Amount of RAM installed
- Hard Drive Size (and available Space)
- Operating System
Input DevicesThese are the components that you use to talk to your computer. The mouse and keyboard are the most common input devices. But some people have others including a microphone, or digital drawing pad.
Basic TerminologyWhen you turn on your computer it goes through a boot sequence. Most people refer to this as booting up the computer.
When it's finished, you will see your start up screen (also called, desktop). You can liken your computer desktop to a physical desk you sit at. Everything on it has a name (icon) and performs some function (program).
The background image or color is called, "wallpaper"
The small image files are called, "icons" - and they are shortcuts to programs. Common icons include the "Recycle Bin", "Internet Explorer", "My Computer", etc.
The horizontal bar the bottom of the screen (usually blue or gray) is called the, "taskbar". The lower left button the task bar is usually the "Start" button. On the right side, you'll usually see the clock and some other icons.
MaintenanceNobody ever tells you this when you buy a computer, but they need maintenance to keep running smoothly (much like your car).
Scan Disk, Defrag, and Disk Clean Up are three maintenance routines which should be performed at least quarterly.
Deleting old messages from your email boxes and emptying the recycle bin is also important for maintaining your computer.
Buying a New ComputerFolks are always asking me what they should look for when buying a new computer and what the advantages are of having a laptop over a desktop.
For tips on buying a new computer, click here.