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Computer Basics

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Sarah Jane Nicolas

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Computer Basics

Connect to the Internet?
Operating System?
Buttons, Sockets and Slots
Setting Up a Computer
Getting to Know the OS
What is a Computer?
A computer is an electronic device that
manipulates information
, or "

It has the ability to
, and
You can use a computer to type documents, send email, and browse the internet. You can also use it to handle spreadsheets, accounting, database management, presentations, games, and more.
Computer & Windows Basics
is any part of your computer that has a
physical structure
, such as the computer monitor or keyboard.

Two Basic Parts
is any
set of instructions
that tells the hardware what to do. It is what guides the hardware and tells it how to accomplish each task. Some examples of software are web browsers, games, and word processors such as Microsoft Word.
Anything you buy for your computer can be classified as either hardware or software.

Once you learn more about these items, you will realize that computers are actually very straightforward.
What are the Different Types of Computers?
Desktop Computers
Many people use desktop computers at work, home, school, or the library. They can be small, medium, or large in style, and usually sit on a desk. Once you add a monitor, mouse, and a keyboard, you have what is typically known as a desktop computer.
Some desktop computers have a built-in monitor to save space. These are often called all-in-one desktop computers.
Laptop Computers
The second type of computer that you may be familiar with is a laptop computer, or laptops as they are often referred to.

Laptops are battery or AC-powered personal computers that are

than desktop computers, allowing you to use them almost anywhere
Today, there lots of everyday devices that are basically specialized computers, even though we don't always think of them as computers. Here are a few common examples:
Other Types of Computers
Tablet Computers
: These use a touch-sensitive screen for typing and navigation. Since they don't require a keyboard or mouse, tablet computers are even more portable than laptops. The iPad is an example of a tablet computer.

Mobile Phones
: Many mobile phones can do a lot of things a computer can do, such as browsing the internet or playing games. These phones are often called

Game Consoles:
A game console is a specialized kind of computer that is used for playing video games. Although they do not have as many features as a desktop computer has, many of the latest Game Consoles, such as the
Nintendo Wii
, allow you to do non-gaming tasks like browsing the internet.

: Many Televisions now include
(or apps) that let you access various types of online content. For example, you can view your Facebook news feed or watch streaming movies on
PCs and Macs
Personal computers come in two main "styles":
. Both styles are fully functional, but they do have a different look and feel, and many people prefer one or the other.
PC: This type of computer began with the original IBM PC that was introduced in 1981. Other companies began to create similar computers, which were called IBM PC Compatible (often shortened to PC). Today, this is the most common type of personal computer, and it typically includes the Microsoft Windows operating system.
: The Macintosh computer was introduced in 1984, and it was the first widely sold personal computer with a Graphical User Interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). All Macs are made by one company,
Apple Inc
., and they almost always use the Mac OS X operating system.
operating system
is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages the computer's memory, processes, and all of its software and hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer's "language."
Without an operating system, a computer is useless

The Operating System's Job

You've probably heard the phrase "boot your computer", but do you know what that means? Booting is the process that occurs when you press the power button to turn your computer on. During this process (which may take a minute or two), the computer does several things:

It runs tests to make sure everything is working correctly.
It checks for new hardware.
It then starts up the operating system.
What is an Operating System?
Types of Operating Systems
The three most common operating systems for personal computers are
Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux
Modern operating systems use a
Graphical User Interface,
GUI (pronounced "gooey")
. A GUI lets you use your mouse to click on icons, buttons, and menus, and everything is clearly displayed on the screen using a combination of graphics and text.
Each operating system's
has a different look and feel, so if you switch to a different operating system it may seem unfamiliar at first. However, modern operating systems are designed to be easy to use, and most of the basic principles are the same.
The Windows GUI
Before GUIs, computers had a
command-line interface
, which meant the user had to type every single command to the computer, and the computer would only display text.
Microsoft Windows
The Microsoft company created the
operating system in the mid-1980s. Over the years, there have been many different versions of Windows, but the most recent ones are
Windows 8
(released in 2012), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows Vista (2007). Windows comes preloaded on most new PCs, which helps to make it the most popular operating system in the world.

If you're buying a new computer or upgrading to a newer version of Windows, you can choose from several different editions of Windows, such as Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. You may need to do some research to decide which edition is right for you.
Apple Mac OS X
Mac OS
is a line of operating systems created by Apple Inc. It comes preloaded on all new Macintosh computers, or Macs. All of the recent versions are known as
Mac OS X
(pronounced Mac O-S Ten), and their specific version names are
Mountain Lion
(released in 2012),
(2011), and
Snow Leopard
(2009). Apple also offers a version called Mac OS X Server, which is designed to be run on servers.

Linux (pronounce LINN-ux)
is a family of
open source
operating systems, which means that they can be modified and distributed by anyone around the world.

This is very different from proprietary software like Windows, which can only be modified by the company that owns it (Microsoft). The advantages of Linux are, (1) it is free, and (2) there are many different distributions (or versions) that you can choose from. Each distribution has a different look and feel, and the most popular ones include
Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora.
is named after
Linus Torvalds,
who created the
Linux kernel in 1991
. The
is the computer code that is the
central part of an operating system.
Operating Systems for Mobile Devices
The operating systems that we've been talking about were designed to run on
Mobile devices
such as phones, tablet computers, and mp3 players are very different from desktop and laptop computers, so they run operating systems that are designed specifically for mobile devices. Examples of mobile operating systems include
Apple iOS, Windows Phone, and Google Android
What is an application?
(or app) is a type of software that allows you to perform specific tasks. Applications for
desktop or laptop computers
are sometimes called
desktop applications
, and those for
mobile devices
are called
mobile apps
. When you open an application, it runs inside the operating system until you close it. Much of the time, you will have more than one application open at the same time, and this is known as
Installing Desktop Applications
Typically, installation is as simple as inserting the
installation disc
and following the instructions on the screen. For software that is
downloaded from the internet
, you can usually
it after it is finished downloading, and then follow the instructions on the screen. Many applications include a
file (for example, readme.txt), which includes installation instructions and other information.
Opening Files with Applications
There are two main ways to open a file:
Find the file on your computer, and double-click it. This will open the file using the default program.
Open the application, then use the application to open the file. Once the application is open, you can go to the
menu at the top of the screen and select
. This is useful because some files can be opened by several different applications, and this method allows you to
choose which application
to use.
If you're not sure what a file's format is, you can look at the extension at the end of the file name (for example .docx, .txt, or .jpg). On some computers, the extension may be hidden, and you may need to look at the icon to determine the file format.
What is a Web App?
web applications (or web apps) are applications which run online and do not need to be installed on your computer. These are sometimes called cloud apps.
Examples of Web Apps:
Online Email Services
Google Docs
Basic Parts of a Desktop Computer
Computer Case
computer case
is the metal and plastic box that contains the main components of the computer. It houses the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), the power supply, and more.
works with a video card, located inside the computer case, to display images and text on the screen. Newer monitors usually have
LCD (liquid crystal display)
LED (light-emitting diode)
displays. These can be made very thin, and they are often called flat panel displays (or flatscreens). Older monitors use
CRT (cathode ray tube)
displays. CRT monitors are much bigger and heavier, and they take up more desk space.
Power Cord
power cord
is the
between the power outlet and the
power supply unit
in the computer casing. If the power cord is not plugged in, the computer will not power on. To protect your computer from voltage spikes, you can plug the power cord into a
surge protector
. You can also use an
Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)
, which acts as a surge protector and also provides temporary power if there is a blackout.
is one of the primary ways we communicate with the computer and enter data. There are many different types of computer keyboards such as wired, wireless, ergonomic, multimedia, and more. Although there may be differences in the location of some keys or features, keyboards are
very similar
and allow you to accomplish basically the same tasks.
The mouse is a peripheral that is known as a pointing device. It lets you point to objects on the screen, click on them, and move them.
There are two main types of mouse:
. The
optical mouse
uses an electronic eye to detect movement and is easier to clean. The
mechanical mouse
uses a rolling ball to detect movement. Generally, a mechanical mouse is cheaper, although it may require regular cleaning to keep it working properly.
Each computer is different, so the
buttons, slots, and sockets
will vary from computer to computer. However, there are certain features you can expect to find on most desktop computers. Being familiar with the names of each and how they are commonly used will help you later on when you connect that new printer, mouse, digital camera, or other device.
Front of Computer Case
Back of Computer Case

On the back of the computer case are
connection ports
that are made to fit
specific devices
. The arrangement of these vary from computer to computer, and many companies have their own special connectors for the specific devices. Some of the ports may be
color coded
to match a color on the device, which will help you determine which port is used with a particular device.
Peripherals You Can Use with Your Computer
The most basic computer setup usually includes the computer case, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, but you can plug many different types of devices into the extra ports on your computer. These devices are called peripherals. Below are a few examples of peripherals.
Web Cameras
Joystick or Game Controller
Digital Cameras
Mobile Phones, MP3 Players, Tablet Computers and Other Devices
Inside a Desktop Computer
A Look Inside a Desktop Computer.Let's explore the inside of a computer tower.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU), also called a processor, is located inside the computer case on the motherboard. It is sometimes called the
brain of the computer
, and its job is to carry out commands. Whenever you press a key, click the mouse, or start an application, you're sending instructions to the CPU.
The motherboard is the computer's
main circuit board
. It's a thin plate that holds the CPU, memory, connectors for the hard drive and optical drives, expansion cards to control the video and audio, as well as connections to your computer's ports (such as the USB ports). The motherboard connects directly or indirectly to every part of the computer.
Power Supply Unit
The power supply unit in a computer converts the power from the wall outlet to the type of power needed by the computer. It sends power through the cables to the motherboard and other components.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM is your system's short-term memory. Whenever your computer performs calculations, it temporarily stores the data in the RAM until it is needed.
Hard Drive
The hard drive is the data center of the computer. This is where the software is installed, and it's also where your documents and other files are stored. The hard drive is long-term storage, which means the data is still saved even if you turn the computer off or unplug it.
Expansion Cards
Most computers have expansion slots on the motherboard that allow you to add various types of expansion cards.
Video card
video card
is responsible for what you see on the monitor. Most computers have a
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
built into the motherboard, instead of having a separate video card. If you like playing graphics-intense games on the computer, you can add a faster video card to one of the
expansion slots
to get better performance.
Sound Card

The sound card, also called an audio card, is responsible for what you hear in the speakers or headphones. Most motherboards have integrated sound, but you can upgrade to a dedicated sound card for higher quality sound.
Network Card

The network card allows your computer to communicate over a network and access the internet. It can either connect with an
cable or through a
connection (often called
). Many motherboards have built-in network connections, and a network card can also be added to an expansion slot
Bluetooth Card
Bluetooth is a technology for wireless communication over short distances. It's often used in computers to communicate with wireless keyboards, mice, and printers. It's often built into the motherboard or included in a wireless network card. For computers that don't have Bluetooth, a USB adapter (called a dongle) can be purchased.
How is a Laptop Different From a Desktop?
Since laptops are designed for portability, there are some important differences from desktop computers. A laptop has an
all-in-one design
, with a built-in
monitor, keyboard, touchpad
(which replaces the mouse), and speakers. That means it is fully functional even when there are no peripherals attached to it. A laptop is quicker to set up, and there are fewer cables to get in the way.
Here are the main differences that you can expect with a laptop:

A touchpad (also called a trackpad) is a touch-sensitive pad that lets you control the pointer by making a "drawing" motion with your finger.

Every laptop has a battery which allows you to use the laptop when it's not plugged in. Whenever you plug the laptop in, the battery recharges. Another benefit of having a battery is that it can provide backup power to the laptop if the power goes out.
AC Adapter:

A laptop usually has a specialized power cable called an AC adapter, which is designed to be used with that particular kind of laptop.

Most laptops have the same types of ports that desktop computers have (such as USB), although they usually have fewer ports to save space. However, some ports may be different, and you may need an adapter in order to use them. For example, the monitor port is often a Mini DisplayPort, which is a smaller version of the normal DisplayPort.
What is a Netbook?
A netbook is a type of laptop that is designed to be even
more portable.
Netbooks are often
than laptops or desktops. They are generally
less powerful
than other types of computers, but they provide enough power for
email and internet access
, which is where the name "netbook" comes from.
Setting Up a Laptop Computer
If you have a laptop, then setup should be very easy: just open it up and press the power button. If the battery isn't charged, you'll need to plug in the AC adapter. You can continue using the laptop while it charges.

If your laptop has any peripherals, such as external speakers, you may want to read the instructions below, since laptops and desktops generally use the same types of connections.
Setting Up a Desktop Computer
Step 1

After unpacking the computer and peripherals,
unpack the monitor and computer case from the box. Remove any plastic covering or protective tape. Place the monitor and the computer case where you wish on the desk or work area.

Think about where you want your desk or work area to be located, and where you want your monitor, computer case, and other hardware. Be sure to place your computer case in an area that is well ventilated and that has good air flow. This will help to prevent overheating.
Step 2

Locate the monitor cable. It will usually be either a VGA or a DVI cable. VGA cables will often have blue connectors to make them easier to identify. (If you have an all-in-one computer that's built into the monitor, you can skip to Step 4).
Step 3

Connect one end of the cable to the monitor port on the back of the computer case, and the other end to the monitor. Hand-tighten the plastic-covered screws on the monitor cable to secure it.
Step 4

Unpack the keyboard and determine whether it uses a USB (rectangular) connector or a PS/2 (round) connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the purple keyboard port on the back of the computer.
Step 5

Unpack the mouse and determine whether it uses a USB (rectangular) connector or a PS/2 (round) connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the green mouse port on the back of the computer.
Step 6

If you have external speakers or headphones, you can connect them to your computer's audio port (either on the front or the back of the computer case). Many computers have color-coded ports. Speakers or headphones connect to the green port, and a microphone can connect to the pink port. The blue port is the line in, which can be used with other types of devices.

Some speakers, headphones, and microphones have USB connectors instead of the usual audio plug. These can be connected to any USB port. In addition, many computers have speakers or microphones built into the monitor.
Step 7

Locate the two power supply cables that came with your computer. Plug the first power supply cable into the back of the computer case, and then into a surge protector. Then, using the other cable, connect the monitor to the surge protector.
Step 8

Finally, plug the surge protector into a wall outlet. You may also need to turn the surge protector on if it has a power switch.
Setup Complete

Your basic computer hardware is now set up. Before you start it up, spend a little time arranging your workspace. A workspace that is arranged well can
improve your productivity
and also
promote health
Shutting Down Your Computer
When you're done using your computer, it's important to
shut it down properly
. Depending on your operating system, the exact procedure for shutting down will vary.
To Shut Down Windows 8:

1. Hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to access the Charms bar, then select Settings.
2. Click Power and select Shut down.
To Shut Down Windows 7 or Vista:
1. Click the Start button and then select the Shut down button (or the power button icon in Vista). You can also click the arrow to the right of the Shut down button for more options.

Click the Start button and then select Turn Off Computer
To Shut Down Windows XP:
Your Computer's File System
A computer uses
to organize all of the different files and applications that it contains. A folder looks like a file, except the icon is shaped like a folder. To find a specific file, you will navigate to the correct folder using a specialized application such as
Windows Explorer
(for PCs - not to be confused with Internet Explorer) or Finder (for Macs).
To Open Windows Explorer (PC):
Click the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar, or double-click any folder on your desktop. A Windows Explorer window will open.
In Windows 8, Windows Explorer is called File Explorer.
To Delete a File on a PC:
1. Click and drag the file onto the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop. Alternatively, you can select the file and then press the Delete key.
2. To empty the trash, right-click the Recycle Bin icon and select Empty Recycle Bin. All files in the Recycle Bin will be permanently deleted.
To Open an Application on a PC:
1. Click the Start button and select the desired application. If you don't see it, you can click All Programs to see a complete list. For convenience, commonly-used applications may also have a shortcut on the taskbar or on the desktop.
In Windows 8, there is no Start menu, so you'll usually open applications from the Start screen.
Adjusting Your Computer's Settings
This can range from simple tasks such as changing your desktop background, to more advanced tasks like adjusting your security or network settings. On PCs, the Control Panel is used to adjust settings.
1. Click the Start button and select Control Panel.
To Open the Control Panel (PC):
2. The Control Panel will appear. You can then select the desired category to adjust the settings.
In Windows 8, you can open the Control Panel directly from the Start screen. Simply type "Control Panel" and then press Enter.
Choosing an Internet Service Provider

Below are some things to consider as you research ISPs:

Ease of Installation
Service Record
Technical Support
Contract Terms
Hardware Needed
Once you have your computer, you really don't need much additional hardware to connect to the internet. The primary piece of hardware you need is a

The type of internet access you choose will determine what type of modem you need.
access uses a
telephone modem
service uses a

, cable access uses a cable modem, and satellite service uses a
satellite adapter
. Your ISP may give you a modem (often for a fee) when you sign a contract with them, which helps to ensure that you have the
right kind
of modem. However, if you would prefer to shop for a
better or cheaper modem
, then you can choose to buy one separately.

A router is a hardware device that allows you to connect several computers and other devices to a single internet connection, which is known as a
home network
. Many routers are wireless, allowing you to easily create a wireless network.
Network Card
A network card is a piece of hardware that allows computers to communicate over a computer network. Most newer computers have a network card built into the motherboard, so it probably is not something you will need to purchase. The network card will either have an Ethernet port, a wireless connection, or both.
A web browser is the tool that you use to access the
World Wide Web.
The browser's main job is to
display web pages
Web Browsers
Property of
Quezon City Public Library
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