Computer Basics

From TechHelp
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Computer Basics

There are a lot of things that make up a computer. Some of those parts are complex, but it helps to have an idea what some are so that you understand why certain things happen while you are using the computer. So lets take a look at some vocabulary that seems to some to be insignificant. Some of these are defiantly more geeky then others, but they can help when you finally need to call the technician to fix the computer.

Motherboard
This is the where all the pieces come together to create the magic it is the main circuit board for the system. Really just be familiar with it as a name of a component nothing else.
Processor
This is where the computer does all the work. Each time you preform an activity your processor does something. It also is always working when the computer is on, doing different tasks. Also the faster the processor the faster the system.
RAM
This is probably the most important factor in the sense of how powerful a computer is. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. When you are working on a document this is where the information is saved until you tell the computer to save your document. This is why it is good to save often, since your document is saved along with other things that you are doing in RAM.
ROM
This stands for Read Only Memory, and usually is related to CDs and DVDs. Basically what it means is that you can read the information but can't write on it.
Hard drive
This is where all of your data is stored. It holds your operating system, your pictures, your files, and a whole lot of other things.
Operating System
These are things like Windows and OS X. Basically an operating system tells all of the components what to do. It is the CEO of the computer. When it boots up, that screen with the progress bar, it is starting different tasks so that you can work with the computer. It is telling the mouse that it better be ready, it is telling the monitor what to show, and your MP3s to be ready to be listened to.
Programs
Everything that shows up in your Start Menu or in your Finder is a program. Programs preform tasks. These are the things that sit on top of the operating system and do things. When you click on the word processor icon it is executing different commands to tell the program to load and what will happen as you press a certain button. In days past this would be done by typing in commands. Today we use a graphically representation of these commands to do things, such as bolding and italicizing text. Basically a good way to think about what a computer does is a very linear thing such as making a PB&J sandwich, there are specific step and if they are followed you get an edible PB&J if they aren't you get something that you can't even begin to describe.
Files
These are anything that stores data on your computer whether a text document, a song, or a video. Each file works with either the operating system directly or works with a specific program.
Peripherals
This is anything that attaches to the computer. Whether it is a monitor, printer, camera or other such thing.
Drivers
These are the things that a computer needs to understand communications with peripherals. It is basically a translator between your printer and the computer. This is something that is good to know about in case you have problems with a computer, but isn't essential.
Permissions
Each file on a computer has different permissions. What this means is that certain people can do certain things, while others can't open or in some cases even see a file. This can be a double edge sword to say the least.
POST
This stands for Power On Self Test and is what happens when your computer starts up before you see the screen that shows your operating system loading.

Cables and Cards

When you are actually getting into connecting things to your computer it is helpful to know a little about the different connections that are possible. Most cables will only connect one way which is something that is nice.

USB
USB has two connectors the flat rectangular one as well as a square one. USB tends to be used for connecting still cameras, thumb drives and MP3 players. The symbol for USB is USB-symbol.jpg.
Firewire
Also known as IEEE 1394 is a cable with 4 and 6 pin connections. Since it allows data to move faster between the peripheral and the computer is tends to be use with camcorders and video equipment. The symbol for fire wire is FirewireIcon.jpg
VGA
This is the blue plug on most computers and this is where you connect external monitors and projectors. The actual connector connects to the computers video card.Both DVI and VGA use this symbol MonitorSymbol.jpg
DVI
This is the newer format for video. Both DVI and VGA use this symbol MonitorSymbol.jpg


Operating System Tips

Within Windows there are a few tips that can make your work easier. Lets start with different key commands.

ALT Tab
These two keys will let you switch between open windows on your computer. So if you have Word and Explorer open you can switch between the two windows.
CTRL X
This is the Cut command which allows you to cut something out of some where. This works across the operating system. So no matter where you are it should work. Just remember if you cut something out of one place you are eliminating it.
CTRL C
This is the Copy command. It allows you to move something from one place to another, keeping the original where it was.
CTRL V
This is the Paste command which allow you to paste something that you have just cut or copied.
CTRL S
This is the Save command, which allows you to save something.
CTRL N
This allows you to create a New document.
Right Click
There are a lot of people that know that using the right mouse button opens a new menu, but not everyone knows that this menu is contextual. This means that right clicking on one thing is different from right clicking on another.
F1
This is probably the least used but the most powerful key on the keyboard. It opens the help menu of the program that you are working in. The help files of some programs are definitely cryptic, but it never hurts to give it a try.

Trouble Shooting

Operating System

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with the operating system, but there are quite a few things that you can do to help solve those problems.

CTRL ALT Delete
This is the grand daddy of all the things out there that can help. Basically what these three keys allow you to do is manage programs that have stopped running. Basically once you open the task manager you will see a list of running programs. When you see on that labeled Not Responding you can high light this program and choose to End Task which will stop the program. One thing to note yo will loose your information.

WindowsTaskManager.jpg.

Error Messages
Once in a while you will get an error message, such as You have a corrupt DLL32 press OK to continue. So what the heck do you do? Well first thing is first simply read the message. If it makes no sense to you then a good idea if you can is take a screen shot of it. To do this press the button labeled Prnt Scrn on your computer. Then open Word or Paint and Paste the picture there and save it. This way you have exactly what the error said for the technician. If you are daring you can actually sometimes trouble shoot prior to calling the technician by entering the error message into Google or another search engine. It usually will lead you to a website that gives you an idea of what to to.

Video

Most of the time there is a video problem it is when you attach another monitor or projector to your computer. If you know you are going to plug in another monitor prior to turning on your computer you should do this. However sometime the situation calls for attaching your computer after it is already turned on. This means that the computer might not recognize that another video source is connected. Now there are a lot of different ways to adjust this. Most of the time it can be done by a keyboard combination, for example on an IBM it is Fn+F7 that moves the video card through the different settings. If you look at your computers keyboard you might see a key similar to this F7-key.jpg

Audio

There are only a few things that can be wrong with your audio which is a nice thing since you can usually figure it out without a lot of time.

  1. Check that your speakers are plugged into the correct ports. There are three plugs that are usually part of your speaker connection. There is an audio in Audio-in-symbol.gif, an audio out Audio-out-symbol.gif, and mic Mic.jpg. Make sure that the device that you are using is plugged into the correct place. So speakers in to the audio out and the mic into the mic port. The audio in port is usually for things such as tape decks or other periphrials.
  2. The next step if things are plugged in correctly is to open your audio on the computer and see if it is muted. You can do this by clicking on the speaker icon that appears in your Task bar in Windows. Which will open a small window which will show you the status of your volume. WindowsSimpleVolume.jpg
  3. If you are still not getting audio there is another place we can check. If you open the Control Panel in Windows you can open the Volume settings. This will open a window that will show you all of your sound devices XPSound2.png. Now you will want to first check to see if a device is muted by clicking on the Advanced tab under the Device Volume. This will show you if any single thing is muted. If something is muted unmute it and try again.
  4. If you are still not having any luck there is one last thing you can do before you call a technician. In the same window as the last step you can click the voice button and then click on the test hardware button, this will walk you through as wizard that will check your hardware for you. Simply follow the instructions and if this fails then call a technician.

Internet

There are a lot of different factors related to troubleshooting an Internet connection. Here are a few different things that you can try before you restart your system.


  1. There is usually a little picture WindowsNetConnection.jpg that if you hover over it will show you the status of your connection. If this has an X through it you know that you aren't getting a connection. So lets start with the cable.
  2. Check your cable is plugged in. Though it may seem simple it is the best place to start.
  3. If you can see behind your computer check to see if the lights on your Internet card are light up.
  4. Now lets go back to the little picture. If you click on it a window will open showing you some basic information about your connection. ConnectionStatus.jpg You will notice at the top that there is a tab called Support if you click this you will see more information about your connection. ConnectionStatus2.jpg You will also notice that there is a button called Repair. If you click on this button it is almost exactly the same a restarting your computer. Now Windows will go through a few steps and then tell you if it has repaired the connection.
  5. If you still don't have a connection you may want to restart your computer. Which if your network connection doesn't work after that you should call a technician.


The Windows operating system and a lot of programs have common shortcuts and time saving features that can be helpful to a user.

Find Feature

In Windows if you want to be able to quickly search a page or your computer you can use the CTRL+F key combination which will open a find window. So if you are searching for a keyword on a web page you can quickly scan a long page by using this feature. This also works in applications such as Word.

Cut/ Copy/ Paste

The three most common tools in an application are cut, copy, and paste. For each of these common functions there is a keyboard shortcut. For cut if you highlight your text and use the CTRL x key combination you will cut your selected text.

CTRL c to copy

CTRL v to paste

Undo

If you want to be able to undo something that you did on accident you can use the key combination CTRL+z this will undo what you did.

Opening a New Window

In most applications you can either create a new document or open a new window by using the Ctrl+n key combination.

Zipped Files

If you have a collection of documents that you want to send to a zipped folder you can do it quickly and easily within the Windows operating system. The first thing you will want to do is select the folder that you'd like to zip up. In this case I chose the folder Documents.

Zipped-1.png

Then by right clicking yuo can choose Send To and then choose zipped folder.

Zipped-2.png

Once you have done this windows will create a zipped folder, which will be named the same as the original folder, the only difference is it now has a zipper on it. The folder is now smaller and has all of the contents of the folder in one space.

FinalZippedFolder.png

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Navigation
Technology Services
Toolbox
Wiki Help