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Technology Info, Tips, FAQs
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Info for Beginners


Page Contents:

Computer "No-No's"
Equipment for PCs
Disk Drives

Computer “No-Nos”

1. Never turn the computer off in the middle of a program or in the window environment. Always close all programs. If using a mouse, click Start, click Shut Down, click Shut down the computer, and wait until you see the screen “It is now safe to turn off your computer”. If using keyboard, press CTRL + ESC and then the letter "U" to shut down.

2. Never remove a diskette from drive A: or a CD from the CD ROM drive when the light is on. Always wait until the light is off.

3. Never turn a computer off and on without waiting at least 60 seconds.

4. Never use a magnet around a computer, monitor, or diskette.

5. Never force a diskette into the drive.

6. No food or drink should be near the computer.

7. Turn the computer off before connecting new hardware.


  • MAC (Macintosh platform)
  • PC (IBM platform)


Microprocessor: The silicon black chip buried deep inside the computer’s case (often-called CPU, Central Processing Unit). There are Cyrix, Intel’s Pentium, Pentium MMX, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium IV and AMD processors available today. The speed of the processor is measured as megahertz (MHz).

Disk Drives

The disk drive determines the path by which you send and receive information to the computer. Information stored on a disk is measured in bytes. Think of a byte as a letter of the alphabet.
1,000 bytes=1 kilobyte (K or KB)
1,000 KB=1 megabyte (MB)
1,000 MB=1 gigabyte (GB)
1,000 GB=1 Terabyte (TB)

1. The floppy disk drive is often called the a: drive. The diskettes that are inserted into the a: drive are 3 ½ inch size and can hold 1.44 megabyte of information. At one time these disk had to be formatted, but now most are pre-formatted. Formatting prepares the disk to be written upon. Diskettes can also be write-protected. This prevents you from writing on the disk. To write-protect a disk, slide the corner tab to uncover the opening.

2. The hard disk drive is often called the c: drive inside the computer. It is a thick Frisbee-like disk inside the computer, which can hold considerable more information than a diskette. The hard disk drive reads and stores information faster than the a: drive. Five years ago the average size of a hard drive was

3. The CD-ROM (Read Only Memory) drive is often called the d: drive. CDs are inserted into this drive. A CD can contain more information than 100 diskettes. Computers are not able to write to the CD-ROM drive unless a CD Burner is present. The CD-ROM drives read information at various speeds.

4. Some computers today come equipped with a zip drive. A zip drive provides additional storage space. A zip disk is inserted into the zip drive. The zip disk can hold 100 megabytes of information. Zip drives can be attached to an existing computer.

5. DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) drive is a new technology that stores more information than a CD-ROM and can be written upon. A DVD disk is inserted into this drive. The drive may come built into the computer or may be attached. These disk often are used to store movies or interactive video games. The disk resembles a CD but has 7 times the storage capacity.


A mouse is an acronym for Manually Oscillating Utensil Sonically Engaged. It is the electronic finger of the computer. It is used to point at items in the window environment. The mouse arrow indicates your position on screen. It can change its shape depending upon your position on screen or the program you were using. In a word processor the mouse will appear as a flashing cursor or insertion point. Moving and clicking the mouse can move the cursor onscreen. The mouse has 2 buttons. The left button is used to send signals to programs. The right mouse button gives the user various menus. By double clicking the left mouse button, programs can be opened. A new mouse, the Intellimouse, allows the user to scroll a screen in a program using a center wheel.


The monitor is the computer’s screen or display. Monitors come in sizes from 14 inch, 17 inch, to as large as Gateway’s 36 inch monitor.


The keyboard is another means of sending information to the computer. It does have much of the same keys as a typewriter keyboard and has these additional keys:

Function keys are found at the top of the keyboard. These control programs and are labeled F1 to F12. F1 always provides help in windows environment.

Cursor control keys are arrows that allow you to move the cursor in four directions (up, down, right, left).

Numeric keys are found on the right side of the keyboard and act much like a calculator pad, however, “key must be pressed on in order for these keys to function.

ESC or the escape key allows you to exit or escape some programs.

/ Front slash key is used in web addresses on the Internet.

\ Back slash key signals a sub-directory.

Page up and page down keys allow you to move up or down in a document.

Shift key and caps lock key change the case of the letter when pressed.

ALT key moves the cursor to the menu bar, which is useful in the event the mouse is not functioning.

Pause key pauses text on screen in DOS.

ALT + Ctrl + Delete keys reboots or restarts the computer when they are pushed in that sequence. This is called a warm boot. A cold boot simply means turning the computer off for a minute and then turning it back on. These boots are necessary if a program fails to function.

Backspace key erases errors when the mouse is placed after the error.

Delete key erases errors when the mouse is placed before the error.


A modem is a mechanical means of translating computer information or retrieving information from the Internet via a phone line. It needs communication software in order to work and can be attached internally or externally. It is used to contact on-line services such as America On Line or Microsoft Network. These services vary in price. A fixed monthly rate of $19.95 for unlimited hour service is available from AOL. Modems vary in speed of transmission from 28.8 KB (28,800 bytes per second transfer) modem speed to 56 K (56,000 bytes per second transfer).

Internet transmission can also take place over an ISDN line or the even faster T1 line. No modem is necessary for these types of transmission but you will need an ISDN adapter.


Ports enable you to connect external output or input devices to your computer. The basic types of ports are:
Parallel ports can be used to connect printers, zip drives, video capture (such as Snappy), external hard drives, or digital cameras.

Serial ports could be used to connect all of the above except printers. In addition, there are some serial port mice.
PS2 ports are used to connect some types of mice. There are also places on your computer to attach a keyboard and s-video cable. Be aware of the ports you have available on your computer when purchasing new hardware.

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