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Computers 101


I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. --Confucius

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Home Computers 101

Computers 101

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Course Description:

This is the perfect class for anyone who knows nothing about computers, or has used computers for a little while, but needs to learn how to do more. Come out of this class not afraid to use computers. Feel comfortable to apply for a job that requires experience in computers. Learn in plain English from an instructor with degrees in Elementary Education and Technology. (This course is delivered in a combination lecture and hands-on format).

Meet Your Computer

Rule #1

  1. Don’t be afraid of, or intimidated by, your computer. Simply understand that:
    1. Your computer is NOT “smarter” than you. In fact it’s quite dumb — it can only think in terms of “off” or “on”, “false” or “true” (a zero or a one), and you can do better than that!
    2. You cannot, typically, damage it so badly as to make it irreparable. Often (like, 90% of the time) all you need to do is power it off and then on again to resolve the problem (called a “reboot”). When that doesn’t work, you may need to look up an answer (the owners manual is a good place.. or the manufacturer’s FAQ page, and you can always “Google it”), or ask for help.. and/or maybe buy a new part, but you might be surprised at what you can fix yourself.
    3. Computers are there to obey YOU, not the other way around. You’re the one with a creative mind. Did you know that almost everything on your computer is customizable? Make things the way YOU want them.
    4. When all else fails: If the computer freezes (nothing will move) there are a few thing you can do to start it again. First press the escape (Esc) key located in the upper left comer. If that doesn't work, next pressCtrl~ Alt and Delete keys•simultaneous. This action will close down the computer but be warned you may lose unsaved data.

Computernese – the language of computers

  1. Hardware: Tangible; another way of saying “the parts of your computer”.
    1. Computer:
      1. The box that stores the programs that make the computer work, sometimes referred to as “tower”, “desktop”, “box”, “cpu”, “hard drive”.
      2. A computer is an electronic device that accepts data (input), then manipulates or processes that data to produce information (output), It operates under the control of a program (or a set of instructions) that is stored internally within the computer's memory.
      3. This box stores all the programs that make the computer work.
      4. Inside the computer is like a library: 
        1. The hard drive size is compared to the amount of shelving for books.
        2. The CPU speed is the librarian's quickness on his/her feet (this is a full service library).
        3. The RAM is the size of the table at which one sits. Larger table means more books can be opened simultaneously.
        4. When the table has been covered with books, each time a new book is to be opened, one from the table will have to be closed (pagefile).
      5. The History of Computers in Pictures
    2. Monitor: Looks like a television screen. Lets you know what the computer is doing.
    3. Keyboard:
      1. a typewriter-like instrument that allows you to interact with the computer
      2. What happens if you don't keep it clean
    4. Mouse: used to control the pointer on the screen. Has left and right buttons and a scroll wheel that select actions.
    5. Printer:
      1. allows you to make a “hard” copy of what is on your screen.
      2. Expired Ink?
      3. Don’t use refilled cartridges
      4. Other cost-saving printing moves
      5. How to print only selected content
      6. How to print multiple pages on one sheet of paper
      7. How to use “Print to File”
    6. CD/DVD Drive: Allows you to open large programs stored on a CD/DVD, listen to music, watch movies, and more.
  2. Software: Intangible; also known as “programs”.
    1. Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8): the operating system (OS) program that acts as an interpreter between you and the computer.
    2. Programs/Applications: Internet Explorer, Quicken, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint.
    3. Files

Setting Up a New PC

Getting Started

  1. “Booting” your PC simply means turning a computer on by pressing the power button.
  2. “Rebooting” refers to restarting your computer.
  3. *Neither term has anything to do with physically kicking your computer! Percussive Maintenance has it's place but not with computers.

Getting Stopped

  1. To safely shut down your computer, you need to follow some basic steps.
  2. The computer has to go through a series of checks and procedures before it turns itself off.
    1. Click the START button
    2. Move the cursor to SHUT DOWN and click
  3. Should I shut down my computer every night?
    1. WhatTheTech.com opinion
    2. RLIS.com opinion
  4. What if my computer crashes?
    1. A "crash" is when your computer refuses to do what you tell it to do.
    2. For example, you lcick on the mouse and it doesn't move.
    3. Or you hit a letter key and nothing happens.
    4. When your computer crashes or "freezes up", you must RESTART your PC.
    5. This generally fixes most problems.
    6. If your computer crashes, click on the START button (if possible) or use the physical power button to restart it.

Using the Keyboard

  1. Just like a typewriter – only better!
    1. FUNCTION KEYS: provide shortcuts
    2. CURSOR KEYS: used when you don’t want to use your mouse.
    3. Most Useful Keys
      1. Ctrl+Alt+Del – Kill non-responsive program
      2. Alt+Tab – Switch among open programs
      3. F1 – Help Key
      4. F5 – Refresh
      5. F8 – Safe mode (when booting up, if have problems, check “last known good configuration”
      6. Print Screen – useful to take pictures of error messages, copies to clipboard, paste to a Document like Word
    4. More about keys
      http://www.seoconsultants.com/windows/keyboard/ Contains an explanation of every key!

Using the Mouse

  1. Mouse Practice
    1. Play Solitaire
    2. Search Mouserobics
  2. Boost your pointing accuracy
  3. Mouse Calibration Test
    1. To start click and hold the capital “H” below, then drag it toward the small “g”.
    2. If it doesn’t work , you might need to clean your mouse, as the calibration is off.
    3. Holy Cow!!! You’ll believe anything
  4. When to Single- or Double-Click
    1. Now for an area that typically confuses the heck out of Windows novices: single-clicking vs double-clicking.
    2. The reason this is so confusing is that there's very little rhyme or reason to it.
    3. Some functions require a single click (of the left mouse button, that is), others a double.
    4. Nowhere in Windows is it made obvious which is which.
    5. However, it's important to learn the rules, as double-clicking when you should be single-clicking can lead to unexpected and/or unwanted results.
    6. Conversely, single-clicking when you need to double-click can lead to no results at all.
      1. Rule #1: Don't double-click in a Web browser. Links, buttons, tabs, toolbar icons, and everything else you're likely to encounter in your browser require one click only. If you double-click, say, an e-mail address, you'll end up with two e-mail windows.
      2. Rule #2: Don't double-click the quick-launch program icons in your Windows taskbar (you know, the ones to the right of the Start button). Part of what makes these "quick" is that they require only one click. In fact, don't double-click anything in the taskbar.
      3. Rule #3: Do double-click program icons on your desktop (when you want to run those programs, natch) and files/folders you want to open. And that's it. You'll rarely ever need to double-click anything else in Windows.

The Desktop (Windows 7)


Desktop Shortcuts

Common Desktop Questions

  • How do I remove icons from desktop?
    • Right-click the icon then select “Delete”
  • An icon on my desktop doesn't do anything when I click on it. What does that mean?
    • This is probably because the program or file that it used to point to has been removed from the computer.

Using “Windows”


Using The Scrollbar


Files & Folders

File Extensions:

  • If you receive a file via email with an extension you don’t recognize, here are some of the common ones
Extension Type Program
.rtf Rich Text Format Word Processor
.pdf Portable Document Format Adobe Acrobat Reader
.doc Document Microsoft Word
.xls Spreadsheet Microsoft Excel
.ppt Presentation Microsoft PowerPoint
.mp3 Music Windows Media Player
.htm HyperText Markup Language Browser
.pdf Portable Document Format Adobe Acrobat Reader

Folder Structure & Management

  • Why can’t I just store everything on the desktop?
    • Everyone has a junk drawer, usually in their kitchen. Imagine EVERYTHING you own is in that one drawer. Get up in the morning, go to the junk drawer and look for some clean clothes. Time to eat … go to the junk drawer and try to find a spoon and bowl. You would never be able to find anything. We organize our computers the same way we organize our lives. If I want a pair of socks, I go to the bedroom (directory), go to the dresser (subdirectory), top drawer (subdirectory). If I want a spoon, I go to the kitchen (directory) and go to the drawer next to the sink (subdirectory).
  • Creating a new folder
    • Many people go through their day to day computing work not even realizing they can create a new folder practically anywhere by right-clicking and then selecting New –> Folder. You can then rename the folder to whatever you would like. Your desktop, in Outlook Mail, within My Documents, within My Music, and in your browser’s “Favorites” or “Bookmarks” are all places you can create new folders.
  • Moving files from folder to folder
    • Copy/Paste
    • Drag/Drop
  • Managing Files and Folders in Windows 7, a free chapter excerpted from the book Microsoft Windows 7 On Demand can be found at http://www.informit.com/articles/printerfriendly.aspx?p=1393064


Defined: Saved in more than one place.


Yottabyte Zettabyte Exabyte Petabyte Terabyte Gigabyte Megabyte Kilobyte Byte Bit
Septillion Sextillion Quintillion Quadrillion Trillion Billion Million Thousand Ten One
1000 PB 1000 TB 1000 GB 1000 MB 1000 KB 1000 B 10 Bits
Today’s External Hard Drives Floppy Disk One Word One Character
Library of Congress library encyclopedia set novel alphabet a
  • James Huggins' analogies http://www.jamesshuggins.com/h/tek1/how_big.htm
  • In 1981 it cost about $71,000 for 1 GB of storage.  In 2013 it cost about $0.10.
  • Discs


    Short for compact disc, an optical disc storage format developed by Philips and Sony.



    An acronym that officially stands for nothing, but is often expanded as Digital Video

    Disc or Digital Versatile Disc.


    {CD or DVD}


    ROM stands for read-only memory, referring to the fact that standard discs can't be

    recorded on.

    {CD or DVD}


    An extension of the format allowing data to be recorded once on a disc.

    {CD or DVD}


    ReWritable is an extension of -R whereby you can rewrite data or audio to the same CD

    multiple times.

    Making CDs & DVDs http://www.pc.com/learn/beforeyoubuy/hardwarebasics/personalizedcdsdvds


    • Copy/Paste
    • Drag/Drop
    • Automation

    Getting Around a Document (Prerequisite to Office 101 and Word 101)

    • Microsoft WordPad (free on all Windows computers) is a very basic word processing program.
    • Other word processing programs include:
      • Microsoft Programs:
        • Word Pad – (free to users) saves automatically as “rtf”
        • Word saves as “doc”
        • Word 2007/2010/2013 saves as “docx”
      • Corel Program:
        • Word Perfect saves automatically as "wpd"

    Open Microsoft WordPad by clicking:

    • Start > All Programs > Accessories > WordPad
    • MENU BAR: When you click here a menu drops down with more choices
    • TOOLBAR: Lets you perform a variety of functions with one click.
    • STATUS BAR: Shows whether your Num Lock is on/off, etc.
    • RULER: Lets you measure, indent and position text and pictures.

    Creating a Letter

    • Once you start creating letters on your computer, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it!
    • Unlike a typewriter, you can easily make corrections and edit your letters and documents.
    • And you can easily save your work for future use.

    Mastering General Commands

    Saving Documents

    • Word Pad saves as – rtf
    • Word saves as – doc
    • Word 2007 saves as – docx
    • Word Perfect saves as – wpd

    More on Saving Files


    • Printing is easy with a computer, and it can be a lot of fun too!
    • Depending on the type of printer you have, you can print on different kinds of papers…create address labels…personalize envelopes…design your own stationery, and much more!

    Printing Documents

    • Printing a document is as easy as clicking a button!
      1. Simply go to your Toolbar and look for the icon that looks like a printer.
      2. Then move your cursor to the icon and click.
      3. Then click “OK” in the pop-up box and that’s it!
      4. Your printed document will be in your hands in seconds.

    Different Ways to Print

    • Want to print just a specific page? Looking to print more than one copy of your document?
      • For more printing options, go to the FILE menu and click on PRINT.
    • Print Preview
      • Want to see what your document will look like before it prints?
        1. Go to your Toolbar and search for the icon that looks like a piece of paper with a magnifying glass on top of it.
        2. Click on this icon and your document will appear on your screen exactly as it will appear in print.

    Determine If Your Printer Is Stealing Your Time and Money http://www.pcworld.com/article/168955/is_your_printer_stealing_from_you_heres_how_to_tell.html

    More Tips

    • How to create a screen saver
    • Vocabulary
      • Jpg
      • Pdf
      • Favorites
      • Slow down the mouse
      • Short-term vs. Long-term memory

    Getting More Help

    More Articles

    • Libraries Linking Idaho Learning Express
    • Idaho Commission for Libraries Digital Literacy
      • http://libraries.idaho.gov/digital-literacy
    • Jan’s Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
      • http://www.jegsworks.com/Lessons/lessonintro.htm
      • The design is a bit outdated and the some of the graphics are cheesy, but after browsing through the site you’ll see that Jan offers useful instruction that really will teach computers to someone who absolutely has no clue how computers work.
    • Custom Guide's PDF quick reference guide
      • http://www.customguide.com/pdf/computertraining-quick-reference.pdf
      • While the site sells business training courses, it also offers this very useful two-page quick reference for novice computer users.
      • If you know anyone in your life that you’ve had to explain countless times how to copy files or the correct way to minimize or maximize a window – print out this PDF and give it to them.
      • They’ll never have to ask again!
    • Computer Basics and Beyond
      • http://www.computerbasicsandbeyond.com/
      • This site covers basic tips on computer maintenance, Internet browsing, security and more.
      • There isn’t a lot of material, but for someone that is looking for very short, straightforward answers to basic computer issues, this will do the job. •
    • Microsoft's Digital Literacy site
      • http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/citizenship/giving/programs/up/digitalliteracy/default.mspx
      • Probably the most professionally done resource to learn computer basics.
      • Here, you’ll find three “curriculum” levels – basic, standard and advanced.
      • Each curriculum level provides a few tutorial videos that will walk the user through a list of lessons.
      • The videos will request that you install Silverlight.
      • Obviously, this may trip up a novice, but if they can get through the installation, the videos are animated, interactive and very high quality.
    • University of North Carolina's Online PDF instructional material
      • http://www.lib.unc.edu/cws/handouts/
      • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill probably offers one of the best free lists of for new computer users that you’ll find anywhere on the net.
      • The list of handouts covers everything from computer basics up through an introduction to Craiglist and eBay.
      • These are all high quality, professionally written handouts provided as part of a community workshop series.
    • Sandy Berger’s Compu-KISS
    • Terry Bellavance Resource Centre of Ontario's Free Online Tutorial
    • Senior’s Guide to Computers
    • Computer Help A to Z
      • http://www.computerhelpatoz.com/
      • While it’s formatted a bit like one of those websites seeking to sell subscriptions, it’s actually chock full of free tips and articles on basic computer topics.
      • If you can overlook the cheesy clipart, it’s a great reference site.



    • As technology continues to improve, it becomes more important than ever to stick to the basics.
    • Below are some of the things you should do and some of the things you should not.





    1. Do make recovery disks if you buy a new PC.
      • Most computer manufacturers do not include a recovery CD and require the user to make them.
      • If you do not and your recovery partition fails, you are out of luck.
      • You might be able to get a copy from HP or Dell, but it will be only after hours of phone calls.
      • Do yourself a favor and buy a couple of blank DVDs and make the recovery disks.
      • It will only take an hour of your time.
    2. Do run an antivirus and keep it up to date.
      • What is a Virus?
        • Can a computer get sick?  If you count viruses, they do.  Computer viruses can corrupt a system's "health", leading to serious problems that can ruin documents, files, even entire drives.  To prevent or remove a virus, purshase antivirus software or download it from the Internet.  Antivirus programs help you remove a virus from your PC, and help you spot trouble before it happens.
      • While some free antivirus programs are adequate, paid versions are arguably better.
      • But even if you choose a free version, at least make sure it is monitoring your web surfing and email.
      • Once you have a virus these days, you’re toast.
      • The best way to combat them, is to keep them off of your system in the first place.
      • Free Versions:
      • Paid Versions:
        • Nod32
        • Kaspersky
        • BitDefender
        • Symantec/Norton
        • McAfee
    3. Do update Windows.
      1. You must have automatic updates turned on and allow Windows to patch itself every couple of weeks.
      2. Otherwise, you’ll forget.
    4. Do change your router password.
      1. While many newer routers are shipping with setup security that forces you to change your password, many are still the default passwords that everyone knows.
      2. If a neighbor or hacker can guess your router password, then they can access your network.
    5. Do have a backup strategy.
        • At-Home:
          • DVD
          • External hard drive
        • Off-Site:
          • Free
            • DropBox
            • Google Drive
            • Microsoft SkyDrive
          • Paid
            • Carbonite
            • Mozy
      • You simply must be backing up your data in at least two locations.
    6. Do change your passwords frequently.
      1. A simple password or a password you use for every website is as good as having no password at all.
      2. There is software available that can brute-force crack a simple password in seconds.






    1. Don’t click any pop-ups that say you have a virus and to “Click here to remove it.”
      1. This is a typical ploy to have you actually install spyware and viruses on your computer.
      2. You may see something like AntivirusXP2008.
      3. If you get this, click out of it and download and run a program like MalwareBytes.
    2. Don’t open email attachments.
      1. Attachments are a means for viruses to replicate.
      2. Viruses have the ability to email themselves to everyone in you email address book.
      3. This means you might receive any email from a friend or relative that actually came from a virus.
    3. Don’t use P2P download sites.
      1. These places are havens for viruses.
    4. Don’t give anyone from Nigeria $1,000.
      1. If you get that email, just delete it.
      2. They are not really going to give you $50,000,000 in return.
      3. Seriously, they’re not.




    Hansel & Gretel Yourself by Keeping a Change Log


    • Notepad
      • A simple way to record what you are doing at certain times is with a .LOG file in Notepad.
      • Using this method, each time you open and close Notepad, a timestamp is created to time your activities more efficiently.
      • Simply open the document, record what you did, save the file, and then close it.
        • Automatically insert a timestamp every time a file is opened:
          1. Open Notepad.
          2. On the first line of the file, type this:
            • .LOG
          3. Hit ENTER to insert one carriage return.
          4. Save the file.
        • Insert Current Timestamp
          1. If you are in any text document in Notepad and decide you need to add the current timestamp, just hit F5. The timestamp will automatically be created.


    Decipher Error Messages on Your Own


    Diagnose and Fix It Yourself with These Tools

    • Speccy (http://www.piriform.com/speccy)
      • Check for overheating problems
      • A computer that's running hot can be the cause of seemingly random system shutdowns and freezes.
    • Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/)
      • Even if your computer already has an up-to-date AntiVirus program, no protection is perfect.
      • This tool is good for on-demand malware scanning
    • Hardware Diagnostics
      • CHKDSK to scan for hard drive errors
        1. Open the "Computer" window
        2. Right-click on the drive in question
        3. Select the "Tools" tab
        4. In the Error-checking area, click <Check Now>.
      • Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool to check for flaky RAM chips
        1. Open Memory Diagnostics Tool by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type Memory, and then click Diagnose your computer's memory problems. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
        2. Choose when to run the tool.
      • Windows 7 Startup Repair tool
        • If a startup problem is detected, Startup Repair will start automatically and try to fix the problem.

          If the problem is severe enough that Startup Repair doesn't start on its own and you can't access the System Recovery Options menu on your computer's hard disk, you can get to the menu and start Startup Repair by using the Windows installation disc or a system repair disc that you created earlier.

    • PrivaZer (http://privazer.com/)
      • Disk Optimizer
      • Registry Cleaner
      • Privacy Enhancer

    Take a Picture to Share with a Friend


    Request Live Support from a Friend using Remote Connections

    Keep in touch with the instructor Tony Derricott 3974 Wagon Trail Rexburg, ID 83440 (208) 313-5324 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 22:00  

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