PCs for Dummies.txt
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. What would you like to do?
- With a computer, you have the added element of processing, which means doing something to the input so that you get something else as output.
- Processing is handled by a gizmo inside the computer called a processor.
- The processor does not really know what to do with all that input. Telling the computer what to do is the job of software.
- RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage.
- Disk drives provide long-term storage
Hardware vs. Software
- Hardware is the physical part of the computer.
- Software is the brains of thr computer. It tells the hardware what to do.
- The most important piece of software inside a computer is the operating system. It has several duties:
- 1. Control the computer's hardware
- 2. Manage all the computer software
- 3. Organize the files and stuff you create on the computer
- 4. Interface with you, the human
- On PCs, the most common operating system is Windows.
- Computer software is known by several different names. In addition to software, you find:
- 1. Application - this category of software is used for productivity or to create things. Applications are the software that does the work.
- 2. Programs - anything that is a "computer program" is also a software, but this category includes software that may or may not be used for productivity or to produce output, such as a computer game or CD-playing program.
- 3. Utilities or tools - these programs are designed to help you run the computer or work with the hardware. For example, you may use a tool to optimize the performance of your computer's disk drives.
Something - whether a document, music, video - is stored on the computer in a unit called a file.
- To either help keep all the connectors in one spot or just create the most intensely cable-crammed location on the console (box), where you add various expansion options to the PC as well as plug in the standard devices.
- The items on I/O panel:
- 1. Keyboard connector - the keyboard plugs into this little hole (symbol in purple color).
- 2. Mouse connector - it's generally the same size and shape as the keyboard connector, although this hole has a mouse icon nearby (symbol in green color).
- 3. USB port - plug snazzy devices into these Certs-size Universal Serial Bus (USB) slots.
- 4. Serial, or COM, ports - PCs have at least one of these ports, named COM1. A second one is called COM2 (symbol color cyan/blue).
- 5. Video/VGA connector - your PC's monitor plugs into this hole, which looks like the serisl port, but it has 15 holes rather than 9. A second, digital monitor connector may be available for plugging in LCD monitors. Also, these connectors may be located on an expansion card rather than the I/O panel (symbol color blue).
- 6. SPDIF In/Out - these connectors are used to attach the fiber optic cable, used for digital audio. Audio coming into the computer plugs into the In hole; the sound the computer generates goes out the Out hole (IN symbol color pink/white; OUT symbol color black).
- 7. Microphone jack - the computer's microphone plugs into this hole (symbol color pink),
- 8. Line-in jack - this jack is where you plug in your stereo or VCR to the PC for capturing sound (symbol color grey).
- 9. Speaker/sound-out jack - it's where you plug in your PC's external speakerd or headphones, or where you hook up the PC to a sound system (symbol color lime/green).
- 10. Dial-up modem - this is where you connect your PC's modem to the phonr jack in the wall. If two phone or modem holes are on the I/O panel, the second one is for a telephone extension. Note that this is not where you connect a broadband (DSL or cable).
- 11. Ethernet (network) connector - this is where you plug in a local area network (LAN) connector, or where you attach a broadband modem to the PC.
- 12. Printer port - the PC's printer plugs into this connector (symbol color violet/purple).
- 13. IEEE ports - these ports are used for many things, similar to the USB ports. They may be labeled IEEE, 1394, or FireWire. A smaller version of the port may be labeled DV, for Digital Video.
- 14. S-Video Out - if your PC sports a DVD drive, the S-Video connector allows you to connect an S-Video-happy TV to your PC (symbol color yellow).
- 15. Joystick port - a port used for older-style joysticks, though most all PC joysticks now sold plug into the USB port (symbol color mustard/brown).
UPS power solution
Uninterruptible Power Supply is a power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running when the power goes out.
Options for turning off the PC
- 1. Keep the computer on all the time.
- 2. Log off - a way to tell Windows that you are done without having to turn the computer off and then on again.
- 3. Stand by - the computer slips into a special, power-saving Sleep mode, like going into a low-power coma.
- 4. Hibernate - the computer doed turn itself off, but when you turn it back on again, it comes back to life much faster. Think "suspended animation."
- 5. Restart - you turn the computer off and on again in one step, mainly when installing or upgrading software or sometimes to fix minor quirks - like slapping Windows upside its head.
- 6. Shut down - the one real option that turns the thing off.
Windows Help system
3 Main parts of the console's tummy
- 1. Disk drive cage: a contraption used to hold internal disk drives, a CD-ROM, a DVD, a hard drive, plus maybe a floppy drive. The cage also has room for even more disk drives (the so-called "future expansion"), usually right behind some knock-out panels on the console's front.
- 2. Power supply - feeds the console that all-important stuff called electricity.
- 3. Motherboard - the computer's main circuitry board. Home to the following essential PC components: Microprocessor, Chipset, Memory, Battery, Expansion slots, I/O connectors, Electronic goobers
Individual pieces can be replaced without to toss out the entire console.
Microprocessor/CPU (Central Processing Unit)
- Though many computer chips can be on the motherboard, the main chip is the microprocessor. The motherboard exists to support that one chip, the computer's muscle.
- Microprocessors are gauged by 2 factors: their muscle powet which are measured in bits (higher the better) and how fast they go which are measured in gigahertz (GHz), or billions of cycles per second.
- CPU names:
- 1. Pentium - the premium microprocessor, developed by industry leader Intel. The Pentium also has some higher-end siblings: the Itanium and Xeon CPUs, used exclusively in high-end server computers.
- 2. Celeron - a less expensive version of the Pentium and often used in low-end, or home, PCs.
- 3. Athlon - an imitation Pentium from Intel rival AMD, The Athlon is just as good as the Pentium, though less expensive.
- 4. Duron - the Celeron imitation, from AMD.
To summon the System Properties dialog box or you can also open by opening the System icon in the Control Panel.
- One of the most direct ways to add extra circuitry or options to the computer is to plug an expansion card directly to the motherboard via one of the expansion slots.
- They come in 3 types:
- 1. ISA - Industry Standard Architecture, the most ancient type of expansion slot, hang around to be compatible with older expansion cards.
- 2. PCI - the most common form of internal expansion for a PC and Mac.
- 3. AGP - Accelerated. Graphics Port, special type slot that takes only video expansion cards, usually the nice spendy ones that do all sorts of amazing graphics.
Expansion cards are sometimes called daughterboards.
- Different PCs use different chipsets, depending on which company manufactured the motherboard.
- An older term for the chipset, particularly the main ROM chip in a PC, is BIOS (Basic Input/Output System. There's a BIOS for the keyboard and mouse, one for the video system, one for the network, etc. Altogether, they comprise the chipset.
- The chipset is what makes up your computer's personality. It contains instructions for operating the basic computer hardware: keyboard, mouse, networking interface, sound, and video, for example.
- Memory dwells on the PC's motherboard, and sits very closr to the microprocessor for fast access and ready dispatch.
- Memory comes in the form of tiny chips called DRAM chips. They are permanently attached to teensy-weensy memory expansion cards, called DIMMs.
- DIMM (Dual Inline Modular Memory) also has chips on both sides.
- Each DIMM card contains a given chunk of RAM, measured in one of the magical computer memory values of 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, or 512 megabytes -or, perhaps even values of 1, 2, or 4 gigabytes.
- All PCs should have at least 256MB of RAM, to run Windows XP.
Dynamic Random Access Memory, the most common type of memory chip installed in a PC.
Composed of 8 bits. The word bit is a contraction of binary digit. Binary is base 2, or a counting system that uses only ones and zeroes. Computers count in binary, and their bits are grouped into clusters of eight, for convenient consumption as bytes.
- Windows uses a clever technique to prevent your computer's memory from ever becoming full.
- It does that by swapping out vast chunks of memory to the hard drive.
- Because Windows manages both memory and hard drive storage, it can keep track of things quite well, by swapping chunks of data back and forth. You never see an "Out of memory" error.
- A place to get memory chips online.
- The Web site asks a series of questions and then provides memory solutions to solve your problems exactly.
Monitor vs. screen vs. display
- Monitor - box
- Screen - part of the monitor on which information is displayed
- Display - information that appears on the screen
Computer's Graphics system
- The monitor may get all the attention, but it's really only the visible half, Computer's Graphics System.
- It has 2 components:
- 1. The monitor - display information
- 2. The graphics adapter - tells the monitor what to display and where, plus how many colors to use and the overall resolution of the image; determines your PC's graphics potential. Also known as video card.
If your PC has more than one monitor, it must have one graphics adapter for each monitor or a special graphics adapter that supports multiple monitors. (The dual-monitor thing is possible only with Windows XP Pro.)
CRT vs. LCD monitor
- CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) - traditional, glass-screen, television-set-like monitor; better able to emulate true colors than LCD, display the images faster than LCD.
- LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) - newer, flatter type of computer screen.
- The most important half of computer's graphics system.
- Graphics adapters were once known as various acronyms in the PC World. The most popular acronym was VGA (Video Gate Array).
- It's the circuitry that runs the monitor and controls the image that the monitor displays
- You should look for 3 key things:
- 1. The amount of memory: PC graphics require special memory that's separate from the computer's main memory. This memory is known as video RAM, or often, VRAM. The more memory, the more colors and high resolutions and fancier tricks the graphics adapter is capable of. In the case of graphics adapters, more isn't necessarily better; only if your applications demand more memory, or can take advantage of the extra video memory, is the price worth it. Graphics adapters can have from 0M (no memory, "share" with main memory) up to 512MB and beyond.
- 2. Whether it has a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit): By having it, the graphics adapter takes a load of work away from the PC's main microprocessor. Two popular models of GPUs are the Radeon and the GeForce (both are approximately equal power and popularity).
- 3. The type of adapter: There's the way the graphics adapter plugs into the motherboard. The best models use the AGP port, which gives them direct access to the microprocessor and system memory. Low-end graphics adapters are often included with a PC's chipset. Even so, it's possible to install a better graphics adapter and use the PC Setup program to disable the cheesy adapter that's built into the motherboard.
- Separate from the console
- Ex.: You don't need to have the same brand of computer and monitor; you can mix and match.
- Graphics adapter port
- The second tail from a monitor is a video cable that connects to the graphics adapter port on the back of the console
Describe a monitor's abilities
- 1. Size: Monitors are judged by their picture size, measured on a diagonal, jsut like TVs. Common sizes for PC monitors are 15, 17, 19, and 21 inches.
- 2. Dot pitch: This term refers to the distance between each dot, or pixel, on the screen (as measured from the center of each pixel). The closer the dots, and the tinier the dot pitch value, the finer the image.
- 3. Interlace/non-interlacing: You want a monitor that's non-interlacing, which means that the image appears on the monitor in one swipe rather than two. An interlacing monitor flickers, which makes your eyeballs go nuts.
All other aspects of the display - such as resolution, colors, and video memory - are all part of the graphics adapter hardware, not the monitor.
The graphics adapter controls the monitor, and video driver software rules over the graphics adapter. But lording it over the video driver is the operating system.
- Number of dots or pixels the monitor displays measuring horizontally by vertically.
- The Screen Resolution slider sets the display resolution. The larger the numbers, the more information is displayed. Smaller values yield less information, but make everything appear bigger.
- Higher resolutions have fewer colors and works best on larger monitors.
- You need only the highest color settings if you plan to use graphics applications, such as photo editing.
- The maximum number of resolution and color settings depends on the graphics adapter and not on the monitor size. The more video RAM the graphics adapter has, the more options are available.
The problem the original screen savers tried to prevent. It can still happen on monitors now, but only if the same image is displayed for months. LCD monitors are not susceptible to phosphor burn-in.
- It's possible in Windows to capture information the screen just like taking a picture. Dump is an ancient computer term for copying raw information from one place to another, a pouring out of the old bit bucket, as it were.
- Press the Print Screen key takes a snapshot of the desktop.
- If you press the Alt + Print Screen key combination, only the front-most, or "top," window is copied to the Clipboard.
- Note that you cannot capture a frame from a DVD movie by using the Print Screen key.
Standard PC keyboard
- It's known as the Enhanced 104-key keyboard.
- 4 Main areas:
- 1. Function keys: These keys are positioned on the top row of hte keyboard. They're labeled F1, F2, F3, and on up to F11 and F12.
- 2. Typewriter keys: These keys are the same types of keys you would find on an old typewriter: letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols.
- 3. Cursor-control keys: Often called arrow keys, these 4 keys move the text cursor in the direction of their arrows. Above them are more cursor-control keys - the 6-pack of Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down.
- 4. Numeric keypad: Popular with accountants, bank tellers, and airline ticket agents, the numeric keypad contains calculator-like keys. This keypad also doubles as a cursor keypad; the Num Lock key determines its behavior.
- The blinking goober on the screen that shows you where the stuff you type appears.
- The blinking doodad is also called an insertion pointer.
- 4 Keys on yoru keyboard are modifier keys:
- 1. Shift: Used to make capital letters or to access the punctuation and other symbols on the number keys and other keys.
- 2. Ctrl or Control: Used in combination with other keys as shortcuts for menu commands. Example: Ctrl + S activate Save command.
- 3. Alt or Alternate: Used in combination with other keys as shortcuts for menu commands. Example: Alt + F4 closes a window on the desktop
- 4. Win or Windows: When pressed by itself, the Win key pops up the Start menu thing. Otherwise, the Win key can be used in combination with other keys to do various things on the desktop. Example: Win + E summons the Windows Explorer program, and Win + D displays the desktop.
- 3 Special keys:
- 1. Caps Lock: This key works like holding down the Shift key, but it produces only capital letters; it doesn't shift the other keys like a typewriter's Shift Lock key would do.
- 2. Num Lock: Pressing this key makes the numeric keypad on the right side of hte keyboard produce numbers. Press this key again, and you can use the numeric keypad for moving the text cursor.
- 3. Scroll Lock: This key has no purpose in life. Some spreadsheets use it to reverse the function of the cursor keys (which move the spreadsheet rather than the cell highlight). Scroll Lock does little else that's significant or famous.
- The pause, or delay, before a key repeats is the repeat delay
- Control Panel -> Keyboard icon -> Keyboard Properties dialog box
- The rapidity at which the key's character (or function) repeats
- Control Panel -> Keyboard icon -> Keyboard Properties dialog box
Specially designed at an angle to relieve the stress of typing
Optical vs. mechanical mouse
- Mechanical - houses a hard rubber ball that rolls as the mouse is moved. Sensors inside the mouse body detect the movement and translate it into information that the computer interprets. More responsive than optical.
- Optical - uses an LED sensor to detect tabletop movement and then send off that information to the computer for merry munching. Don't need a mouse pad; but have the tendency to jump when moved quickly.
Infrared (IR) vs. radio frequency (RF) wireless mouse
- Infrared - requires a line of sight to work, same way your TV remote transmits information to the TV set.
- Radio frequency - works without the mouse being able to see the base station.
Like an upside-down mouse, a popular mouse variation; rather than roll the mouse around, you use your thumb or index finger to roll a ball on top of the mouse
Another mouse mutation, which looks like a pen and draws on a special pad. This mouse is also pressure sensitive, which is wonderful for use in painting and graphics applications.
Cordless 3D mice
Can be pointed at the computer screen like a TV remote
Two important buttons to find in the printer control panel
- 1. On-Line or Select: to tell your printer whether to ignore the computer. When the printer is offline or deselected, the computer can't print.
- 2. Form Feed: used to eject a page of paper from the printer.
- Include photo and all-in-one models, use ink cartridges
- CMYK is an abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, the common ink colors used in inkjet printers
Use a powdery ink substance, called toner, that also comes in a cartridge
Ctrl + P
Summon the Print dialog box
- Modem is the box through which you PC yells at the Internet and from which the Internet yells back.
- It translate by transforming the crude language of ones and zeroes inside the computer into something that can be sent out over the phone lines, over your cable TV wire, or even straight up into the outer space. Then, at the end of the line, another modem retranslate those signals into information the computer can understand.
- Modem is a combination of 2 words: modulator and demodulator. High-speed modems don't modulate or demodulate any more. Those modems communicate entirely with digital signals.
- 4 Sport first names:
- 1. Dial-up
- 2. DSL
- 3. Cable
- 4. Satellite
2 Distinct modem categories
- 1. Dial-up: traditional type of modem that uses the telephone system; also called narrowband. Whether internal or external, dial-up modems assume one of the PC's serial or COM ports. That's the interface through which the modem communicates with the rest of the computer. The advantages are the you can use them anywhere that you have telephone service. No extra chages apply (other than long distance or other standard phone fees) and the least expensive way to get to the Internet. The disadvantage is slow. The plain old telephone system modem is also caleld as a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) modem. Dial-up modems connect to the telephone jack on the wall.
- 2. Broadband: includes all high-speed modems, whether they're cable, DSL, or satellite modems. Broadband is synonymous with high-speed Internet access. Their only downside is that you must live in an area that provides broadband service and you pay more for access than you do with a dial-up modem. Broadband modems connect to the network port, or RJ-45 jack.
Cable vs. DSL vs. Satellite
- Cable: This type of modem is the fastest you can buy, often faster than the computer can keep up with! The only downside is that when more of your neighbors begin using their cable modems, the overall speed decreases.
- DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): This type of modem gives you fast access by taking advantage of unused frequencies in existing phone lines. The modem hooks up to the phone line, but all other phones on that line require special filters. This type is easy to install and, next to cable, gives you the fastest connection speeds.
- Satellite: Combined with an outdoor antenna and a subscription to the satellite service, this is one of the fastest modem options available. Try to avoid satellite service that is "download only."
- Measured in kilobits per second (Kbps). 100 Kilobits is about as much information as you see on a line of text in this book. If this book were appearing on your screen through your modem, one line per second, you would have a connection that flies by at 100 Kbps.
- The slowest modem you can buy now is a dial-up model that whizzes out information at 56 Kbps. That modem can transmit approximately 14 pages of printed information every second.
- The fastest modem you can buy (or rent) is a cable modem that whizzes along at 5,000 Kbps (5 Mbps). That's many, many pages of information per second, or enough speed to display a real-time video image with sound.
Gauge your broadband modem speed online
Isn't a modem at all. It's either a tiny adapter or a cable that works like a standard serial port (COM) cable, but with its wires reversed. Also called twisted pair, a null modem is designed to connect 2 computers for direct communications.
- A PC includes sound-generation hardware on its chipset, which comes soldered to the motherboard.
- The sound hardware includes the ability to process and play digitally recorded sounds, CD music, as well as an on-board synthesizer for generating music.
- The standard for PC audio is the SoundBlaster series of audio cards, manufactured by Creative Labs. Nearly all PC sound hardware is now Sound Blaster compatible.
- Standard PC sound is sampled at 16 bits. 32 Bits are available, but are necessary only for those interested in high-end audio work.
- If your PC lacks expansion slots, you can upgrade your audio by adding an external, USB sound device, such as the Sound Blaster Audigy system. This is one way to add better sound to a laptop computer.
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