Learn the Basics

  Caring For Your Monitor

I have worked with many adult computer beginners who were confused as to  the difference between the computer and monitor, often thinking the monitor was the computer. The monitor is the device that displays the desktop and programs that you want to work on. You then  interact with the computer by using the keyboard and mouse, observing them on the monitor's screen.

I take care of my computer by updating the operating system and programs, installing a good security system to keep it protected and keeping the performance of the machine optimized.  All our attention often goes to the computer, but without a working monitor we would not be able to use the computer.  It is therefore a good idea to keep your monitor working up to par. Here are some tips I found at Dummies.com. on extending the life of your monitor.

  • Use a surge protector. Never plug your display directly into wall current. Instead, be sure to use a good-quality surge protector. Damage caused by an electrical spike ordinarily isn’t covered by manufacturer warranties.

  • Keep the air vents open. Never cover the air vents on the top or sides of a monitor. Doing so may result in a dangerous buildup of heat that can damage components or shorten their lives. Periodically, use a new paintbrush or the brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner to remove accumulated dust on the monitor’s ventilation holes.

  • Leave your monitor on. The most dangerous moment in an electronic component’s life is when power is first applied, and the component goes from cold and uncharged to warm and full of electricity. Avoid turning your monitor on and off more than necessary.

  • Klutzproof your monitor. Be sure that the monitor is safely installed on a sturdy desk, with its cable properly out of tripping range of passersby. And, of course, don’t place cups of coffee or soda anywhere in the vicinity.



Must Know Windows Terminology

The following is common terminolgy associated with the Windows operating system.  It would be benificial to memorize them.  The more you know the easier using a computer becomes.

Active Window – The active window is the window where all the activity is currently taking place.  All your keystrokes and mouse movements will affect that window.  It is where all your information is being entered.

Borders – A border is a thin edge enclosing a window.  You can use borders to change a window's size.

Close Button – To close an active window click on the button in the window's far, upper-right corner.  It is the button with an ‘X’ on it.  When you close a window you eliminate it from the computer's memory.  In order to reopen it, you need to reload it from your hard drive or CD again.

IconIcons are buttons with little pictures on them.  They offer clues to the program or functions they represent. 

Maximize Button – The maximize button is the middle of the three buttons in the upper-right hand corner of every window and contains a square.  A click on this button enlarges the active window so that it takes up as much on-screen space as possible.

Minimize Button – The minimize button is the left of the three buttons in the upper-right corner of every window.  A click on this button makes its window disappear and then reappear as a tiny button on the taskbar along the bottom of your screen.  Minimizing a window keeps it loaded in the computer's memory and ready to be used at an instant's notice.

Restore Button – When a window is maximized the maximize button in the upper-right hand corner becomes the restore button and contains two squares.  Clicking on this button returns the window to the size it was before you maximized it.

Scroll Bar – The scroll bar, which looks like an elevator shaft, is along the right edge of your active window.  Inside the bar a scroll box, the elevator, travels up and down as you page through your work.  By glancing at the scroll bar you can tell whether you're near the top of a document, the middle or the bottom.

Start Button – The Start button is in the lower left corner of your screen. Clicking it will bring up your start menu.  To shut off your computer you must begin by pressing the Start button.  You then click on the Shut Down option.

Taskbar – The Taskbar runs horizontally at the bottom of the screen. It lists all the programs you are currently running.  The first button on the Left of the Taskbar is the Start button.

Title Bar -The title bar is the topmost strip in any window.  It lists the name of the program you are currently using, as well as the name of any open file.  The title bar can serve as a handle for moving a window around the screen. Point at the title bar, hold down the mouse button, and move the mouse around.  An outline of the window moves as you move the mouse.  When you've placed the outline in a new spot, let go of the    mouse button.  The window leaps to that new spot.

Windows – Windows gets its name from the little screens that open allowing us to see what is in a folder or view a file and work with a program.  Each window shows some information, such as a picture or a program you are running.  It contains information you can look at or work with. You can put several windows on the screen at the same time and jump from one to another.


How To Choose an Internet Browser

The first thing to choosing a Browser is knowing what a browser is and in my experience more then half the people I know are clueless, even though the browser is one of the most-used programs on your computer. A browser simply is a program that brings websites to your computer. Think of a browser as a television set.  Without it you would not be able to see your shows.  Now let's say you have two televisions, a Sony and a Visio. They both do exactly the same thing – get you to a certain channel where you can see your show.

All  computers using the Windows Operating System come with  Internet Explorer (a browser). It does not necessarily mean that it is the best browser for you.   It does however mean more income for Microsoft.  Older versions of Internet Explorer tend to run poorly and have security issues. Internet 9, Microsoft's new version of the browser, is faster, trimmer,and is a major improvement over its predecessors. You can download Internet Explorer from the Microsoft website, however you must know what version of Windows you have and if you have a 32 bit or 64 bit machine.  Internet Explorer 9 is unavailable for those computers running Windows XP.

Two other options that are popular as browsers are Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Both are safer and faster than older versions of Internet Explorer. If you are running into problems on the internet, such as computer freezes it could be that your browser  has become corrupted.  In the meantime my suggestion is to use the browser you are most comfortable with. 


In the 1980's I worked for Tandy Computer Centers consulting, selling and installing computers for small businesses and school systems. The most storage you had on a hard disk drive then was 10 megabytes and I was impressed since I was  storing my data on a 186 kilobyte floppy disk. Today a 500 gigabyte hard drive is readly available even on the lower end computers Mid  priced PC's can have 1 terabyte of disk storage space.

All of these byte words are really confusing to many computer users. The following displays the correlation of all these terms: 

bit – the smallest piece of information used by the computer.

byte – a piece of computer information made up of eight bits.

 1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte

 1024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte

 1024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte

 1025 gigabytes = 1 terabyte


 1 kilobyte = 1thousand

 1 megabyte = 1 million

 1 gigabyte = 1 billion

 1 terabyte = 1 trillion

If you have a 500 gig hard drive it means your drive can store 500 billion characters. A 1 terabyte hard drive will store1 trillion characters which can translate into:

  • 472 hours of broadcast quality video.
  • 150 hours of hi-definition recording.
  • Enough words that it would take every adult in America speaking at the same time five minutes to say them.

Do I need that much storage?  Not really!


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