Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Keyboard Commands

In order to use your computer effectively, you must interact with it using both the mouse and the keyboard. The above image of a keyboard may closely resemble (if it is not identical to) the keyboard in front of you; learning the function of just a few keys will help you to interact better with your computer and individual programs. The following is a list of commonly used keys that have special functions (keep in mind that key functions can change depending on which program you are using): 

1. Backspace: This key deletes letters backward.
2. Delete: This key deletes letters forward.
3. Shift: This key, when pressed WITH another key, will perform a secondary function. 
4. Spacebar: This key enters a space between words or letters. 
5. Tab: This key will indent what you type, or move the text to the right. The default indent distance is usually ½ inch. 
6. Caps Lock: Pressing this key will make every letter you type capitalized. 
7. Control (Ctrl): This key, when pressed WITH another key, performs a shortcut. 
8. Enter: This key either gives you a new line, or executes a command (pressed in a word processing program, it begins a new line). 
9. Number Keypad: These are exactly the same as the numbers at the top of the keyboard; some people find them easier to use in this position. 
10. Arrow Keys: Like the mouse, these keys are used to navigate through a document or page. 

The Mouse 

While the keyboard is primarily used to insert/input and manipulate text and numbers on a computer, the mouse is used mostly for navigating around the screen. Mice come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the strangest-looking mice often look that way because they are designed to be more ergonomic than traditional mice.

The type of mouse that you choose to use is totally based on your preference—If you want a fancy mouse, that’s fine; if you prefer a simple mouse, that’s OK too. Each mouse, however different it may be, has similar functions. As you can see on the “traditional” model above, a traditional mouse has two buttons with a wheel between them (gray) that spins, called a “scroll wheel.” Both buttons can perform separate functions, and are referred to by which side of the mouse they are located on. Pressing the LEFT mouse button is called “left-clicking,” while pressing the RIGHT mouse button is called “right-clicking.”Left-clicking is used far more often than right clicking. For now, know that left-clicking is used to select or click on something, while right-clicking presents additional menu options.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hardware / Software 

Computers use both hardware and software to perform their work. Think of hardware as the physical pieces of a computer—the monitor, the CPU, all the pieces and parts inside the CPU, the mouse, the keyboard, etc. Software, on the other hand, consists of programs that we use to interact with the computer. You can’t physically touch software like you can the keyboard, but you can still interact with it. A word processing program like Microsoft Word is a piece of software that you could use to type a grocery list. Games that you play on your computer are also considered software—it doesn’t have to be workrelated!

Information / Data 

Computers are designed to work with a type of information commonly referred to as “data.” Data comes in many forms, whether it is written data (such as a letter to a friend), audio data (like a song), video data (like a popular movie or DVD), and more. Certain types of software programs work with different types of data. For example, iTunes works primarily with audio data, while Microsoft Word, a word processing program, works
primarily with written data.The keyboard is just one of the ways in which you can create, interact with, and modify data. There are many ways to get data off of the computer, such as printing it out on
paper, copying it to a CD or flash drive, or publishing it to the Internet.

“My Computer is Possessed!”

It is a common misconception that computers have “a mind of their own.” Although computers can perform certain tasks much more easily and faster than humans (like counting, performing mathematical calculations, etc.), they are, in the end, machines and can’t think for themselves. It is safe to say that the computer cannot do anything that you do not tell it to do. Remember that you are in control of the computer, in the same way that you are in control of your car. Your car won’t move until you press your foot on the accelerator, and it won’t stop until you press the brake. Computers work in the same way.

Keeping Your Computer Healthy

In the end, computers are machines just like any other. Sometimes, although not often, they may malfunction, become stuck (or “frozen”), or may have a part that breaks and needs to be replaced. Just like your car or lawnmower, computers need to be maintained.Keeping your virus software up-to-date, installing updates for your operating system (e.g., Windows updates), and refraining from installing unnecessary programs will keep
your computer running smoothly and efficiently for a longer period of time. Consider it like an oil change.

Key Facts About Computers 

 A computer does not need to access the Internet in order to run properly.

 The Internet is a way of connecting to other computer users. You can connect to the internet using a phone line, a cable connection, or by using a wireless connecting device (wi-fi). For most home computer users, this is a paid service, though you can use the Internet for free in some public locations, like the library or a coffee shop.

 A computer will be able to perform most common functions (play music, type documents, edit pictures) and run programs without an Internet connection. However, to view a web page or send an e-mail, you will need an Internet connection.

 A computer needs an Operating System in order to work, though any new computer that you purchase will come with an operating system already installed. The most common operating systems are Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS X

On any given day, you will encounter computer systems in much of what you do, even if you don’t realize it. The television channels you watch, the radio stations that you listen to, the car that you drive in, and even the cash register at the local grocery store are all controlled in some way by computer systems! They help us perform tasks, keep track of information, and even control the airplanes that fly above us. During the course of this class, you will learn about how computers work, how to perform simple tasks, and more. 

Anatomy of a Computer

As with most products, computers are designed in a variety of ways. There are, however,major similarities regardless of the brand (e.g., Dell, Apple, Acer, HP, Lenovo) of the computer. There are two main types of computers, desktops and laptops. However, all computers have the following components: 

The monitor looks like a television screen and is where you see what is happening on your computer. By using shadows and graphics with over a million different colors, much of what you see will appear 3-dimensional. Think of this as the ‘face’ of the computer. 

THE CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The CPU houses the machinery that allows your computer to work. Think of this as the ‘brains’ of the computer. This component looks very different in desktops and laptops, but it works the same.


The keyboard is one of two ways to interact with your computer. The keys should mostly mimic a raditional typewriter. 


This is the other way to interact with your computer. Most mice have two buttons—a right and a left button—and a scrolling wheel.