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  Computing for beginners 2

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In my opinion, when using a search engine, a certain amount of experience is needed when chosing the right words or expressions. Admittedly, the Internet offers all sorts of information, for which, in earlier times, one had to travel far and wide to obtain. On the other hand however, one should not believe everything one reads. Quoting the newest information picked up from a randomly chosen forum can be pretty embarrassing. In this case also, the separation of the wheat from the chaff takes a little getting used to.

Let's see what we've got now. We have bought a mid-range computer equipped with an operating system and we've installed the software which bears the name 'Office' somewhere. What we now have to do, is to ensure that the current state of the the computer can be reinstated without problems, e.g., in the event of a hard-disc-crash or any other insurmountable problems. For this reason, a number of smart people, after buying the machine, erase everything and carry out a complete new-installation, by doing this a lot of future problems can be avoided.

Another small bit of advice: Prolific writers like myself use the services of at least one spelling and grammer checker (watchdog). They are even available for writing emails with T-online. There's no need to feel embarrassed, it can't be seen when the document is finished, and there will come a time when you'll regret any errors that could have been avoided. When saving the documents to memory, keep to a certain routine, that way the documents can easily be found again, even years later.

While we're on the subject of searching, one should definitely practice this on one's system. Learn to limit the search-area and make a distinction between between searching for the file name and searching for an expression used in the document. Should the one or the other important document be added, a data back-up is a good idea. There are those who integrate the old computer into an extensive network, however, my personal choice would be a new external hard-disc (USB). The prices are so reasonable that security freaks even have more than one back-up disc.

If this explanation makes you think, well this is not much fun, you're quite right. There are however, too many possibilities to go into all of them. We'll keep it serious and ask ourselves questions about further installations, and how we can scrap certain programmes again or simply interrupt them. Remember, you're the boss, get to know the task-manager, using it you can stop just about any program if it suits you.

In the meantime, using Word, or any similar derivate, books can even be written. Should you still be at school, your second choice could probably be Powerpoint or anything similar. However, be careful, even the best program won't spare you the task of adequate preparation. I recall seminar papers with horror, where the text was simply read out, and one could see that the speaker was seeing these words for the first time.

Some people waste all their energy on creating spectacular image transitions, or with each new transparency, having a snappy sports car speeding from one side to the other. Dear speaker, please, go easy on your listeners. It would be better to have less on the screen and to give clear, supporting explanations and images or maybe use small animations or videos. Don't ever believe that the refinements in the program can cover up or compensate for your own possible laziness.

Now, I wonder if you feel confident enough to approach spreadsheet calculation. Being a technician, I avoided it as best I could for a long time, a mistake, as my recent experiences with Excel would show. There's no quicker way to display the sum of various columns of numbers, which can also constantly be changing, or of tables that are sorted according to date or almost any other criteria. Admittedly, a normal word processor like Word also has some of these functions and I'm really not an expert as far as formulae are concerned, indeed, having a peek inside won't do you any harm, particularly nowadays, where the simplest functions can be called up with a mouse-click.

We're not speaking about actual programming here. Since you would be better off out in the fresh-air, than solving problems in your computer, which you yourself have created, without any pressure from outside. Exactly this, is what people call programming, as one mostly does it in one's spare time. Actual programmers work very differently indeed. Nonetheless, it is a wonderfully simple introduction into the world of programming, which can indeed, be greatly rewarding.

I myself, started out with BASIC then I thought that using Pascal I could conquer the Hello-World. With the event of Windows, everything started from scratch again. If you calculate one or two years for each step forwards, that's pretty realistic. Indeed, even in the end, it was nowhere near being good enough to produce a saleable program, because at the least, the incentive had been removed by the advancing development in the computer world. One could have continued for ever this way, but only for one's personal requirements.

Be smarter, take the right road from the word go. There are tools like html, which is, together with any number of further developments, the syntax language for the Internet. One can start, very, very carefully with this. Build, first of all, a sensible tabulation, avoiding frames, then you can advance to dynamic pages. Earlier, it was a long hard haul to achieve the first success, nowadays, every line of text can be a bulls-eye. You can also make use of the aids, which can be found all over the Internet.

Certainly, image- and video presentation also belong on a good website. Whereby, my personal experience was that the former was very complicated and difficult, the latter, oddly enough, posed no problem at all. Of course, my abilities when creating a video are far more limited. If you now wish to incorporate a good sound program, your free time will be completely booked out, you won't need to look for a possible partner any more because you'll be single again before you know it.

I'm going to have to limit my tips a little now, even though I would like to introduce you to the advantages of php and at least, of Javascript. No, we'll stop at this point, after all, there is also a life outside the realms of computers! Apart from the fact that you may still be at school and your education certainly has priority. One last tip: when you start out with image and video software, chose a recognised and long lasting product. There is nothing worse than wasting 2 or more years of your time on a third-rate program which is no longer supported. 07/11               Top of page               Index
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Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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