Well there’s no denying it – No matter how new or how well maintained our computers are, we all encounter computer problems sooner or later. The good news is that we don’t have to face them alone. There are a ton of resources available to walk us through computer issues but it may take a little knowledge in knowing how to access them. This article will show you how.
- Remember help files. It’s funny, but people seem to forget that every computer and every program installed on a computer comes with its own help file. Even the operating system of a computer has a help file and it really should be the first place to look for answers. Help files are designed not only to guide the usage of a computer, they’re also designed to solve problems. Inside a help file, look for a section called, “Troubleshooting” (or something similar) when you need to resolve an issue. This section is reserved for solving problems specific to the software or hardware that you’re using.
- Product websites. If you’re having a problem with a piece of software or with a hardware part, try the website of that software’s or hardware’s manufacturer. Most (if not all) manufacturer’s reserve a portion of cyberspace and dedicate it to support the products that they build. Microsoft’s help desk is good example.
- Fan sites. Fan sites probably isn’t a good name for this resource, but you can find websites that are dedicated toward supporting the users of a particular software program or piece of hardware. We’ve called them “fan sites” because the maintainers of these sites have no affiliation with the manufacturers that they support! Call them what you will, but their free help is immeasurable and without it, we wouldn’t have some of the wonderful workarounds and unique problem solving techniques that we have today.
- Usenet newsgroups. Another underused resource on the Internet, Usenet newsgroups have hundreds of discussion groups dedicated to some of the most popular computer systems, operating systems, hardware manufacturers, and individual software programs. Sometimes, the representatives of these companies participate, but most of the time, the support in this group is user to user, which is just as valid because you’re
working with a team of experienced people.
- Support Lines. Another source for help that we shouldn’t forget are the support systems of various manufacturers. You can reach these systems by calling the phone number associated with the product that you’re having trouble with. Calls may be free (1-800 or 1-877 number), or they may cost a small fee (1-900).
- PC support groups or user groups are another option for help. These are groups that meet in libraries, computer stores, or other local areas and they discuss all sorts of issues related with a particular product. Even if you aren’t experiencing a computer or software problem, user groups are fun to participate in and they can help you network into other interests such as job or teaching opportunities.
- Surprisingly, you may even get a helping hand from the salespersons at your local computer store. We don’t recommend that you make this your first pit stop when you experience a problem, but we don’t recommend that you rule this option out altogether either. Computer salespersons are hired for a reason – and that’s their knowledge. Often, these kind folks can help you resolve an issue over the phone and prevent you form having to buy a costly solution.
As you can see, help is easy to find – You’ve just got to know where to look for it. Most of the contacts within these resources are extremely friendly and willing to take the time to walk you through a problem at little to no cost. From online discussion groups to the files on your own computer, help is often just a click away.
In Today’s Society, Protecting Your Computer Is A Requirement
Advances in computer technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it affords us quick and easy access to numerous conveniences such as bank statements, favorite shopping centers, school and health records, and more. On the other hand, it can also grant the same access to those who aren’t supposed to get it. Although it’s a rare occurrence, hacking has become the biggest criminal nuisance in computer history.
Make no bones about it. There’s nothing innocent or cute about the hacker. Today’s hackers aren’t the pimply-faced teen rebels that you might be thinking of. Instead, this generation of hackers are grown individuals who are more than likely earning a living by stealing the identities of innocent, law abiding individuals and then selling those identities to others who want to slip by the system. And the only protection against these seedy people is prevention.
Computer security couldn’t be more important than it is today and that’s why we’ve taken the time to introduce it to you. You can reduce the probability of experiencing identity theft by making your computer as hacker-proof as possible. All that’s needed is a little software and a lot of common sense.
- Install an anti-virus/anti-spyware program. Anti-virus/anti-spyware software will stop malicious code from downloading and installing onto your computer while you peruse the Internet. Known as viruses, worms, or spyware, this malicious code can destroy important files and render your computer good for only one thing: sending sensitive data back to the server of an identity thief.
- Don’t store sensitive data on your computer in the first place. Should your computer get infected with a virus, worm, or piece of spyware, you can thwart the individuals responsible by not storing your personal information on your PC so that when and if your computer does send back data – it won’t be anything valuable. Hackers look for things like full names, social security numbers, phone numbers, home addresses, work-related information, and credit card numbers. If these things aren’t saved onto a computer, there’s nothing critical to worry about other than restoring your computer to a non-virus condition.
- Don’t open files without scanning them with an anti-virus/anti-spyware program. In the past, the warning was to avoid opening files from people that you don’t know. Today it’s really not safe to open files from anyone (without scanning the files) because that’s how viruses get spread – through files – even by mistake. So even though your co-worker may have emailed a funny video, it’s no more safe to open than a video downloaded from a complete stranger. Be safe and scan each and every file you download from the Internet or receive through email regardless of where it came from.
- Create a barrier between your computer and prying eyes. Anti-virus/anti-spyware programs are only effective after the effect. But you can prevent identity theft from occurring by installing a firewall. A firewall is software that checks all data entering and exiting a computer and it then blocks that which doesn’t meet specified security criteria (user-defined rules).
- Don’t click on website links in spam messages. In an effort to obtain personal information, some spammers will send email that asks you to click on a link. The email messages are often disguised as important messages from well-known online establishments, and they often try to scare their readers into clicking links with threats of closing an account of some sort. Sometimes the links are harmless and attempt to con the reader into volunteering personal information (credit card number), but other times the links attempt to download harmful software onto a computer.
Your best protection against computer crimes is your own knowledge. Hopefully the suggestions above will prompt you into taking appropriate action and into protecting your computer with the suggested tools. In doing so, you’ll not only protect yourself, you’ll prevent the spread of these malicious activities and protect others at the same time.
Customizing Your Computer with Preferences
Making Your Computer Work with You – Not Against You
Although you did not design or build your computer, you can turn it into a device that responds to your way of using it as if you were its original engineer or programmer. This is because the computer is a mere platform – a blank canvas, if you will – waiting for you to direct its operation or paint the picture of the perfect machine. All this is possible from making just a few changes in your computer’s current configuration.
Your computer’s main configurations are housed in Windows Control Panel. Within this small section of Windows, you can make some major changes from the way that your computer looks to the way that your computer responds to the people who use it. But your specifications don’t just apply to Windows, they also apply to the many software programs that are installed onto the computer (not to mention that many software programs can be further customized through their own configurations). We aren’t going to cover them all, but we will introduce some of the most popular so that you can get a feel of the control over your system that these configurations give you.
Users. Before we get into the individual settings, it’s important that you understand that each set of configurations you make is specific to the users that sit down in front of a computer. Changes made to a system by one person will differ from the changes made by another. Enabled by a username and password, individual desktop settings (icons, background picture, and other settings) are available after logging onto Windows.
Display Properties. Through Display Properties, a user can change the background of the Windows Desktop, add a screensaver, change the overall color scheme and fonts of Windows, and adjust a computer’s color depth and/or resolution (screen area). Not just a bunch of preference settings, display properties help individuals who have to deal with visual problems.
Accessibility Options. Speaking of visual problems, another setting that’s useful is accessibility options. This setting allows people with disabilities to use a computer that accommodates vision and hearing problems.
Keyboard and Mouse Options. The keyboard and mouse controls give users the option of speeding up or slowing down the movements of both of these peripherals. For those entering the United States from a foreign country, users will appreciate how Windows grants use of keyboard layouts native to their original language. Other uses will appreciate the different selection of cursors and the ability to add additional ones.
Passwords. Since the computer in use may be shared with others, Passwords gives the almighty administrator the means to determine whether all users will share the same preferences and desktop settings or if users can customize preferences and desktop settings.
Regional Settings. Things get really personal in Regional Settings – as this configuration makes changes according to a user’s location and language. Options available can accommodate a person’s preference for the display of numbers, currency, time, and date format.
Sounds Properties. Multimedia fans can create a rich PC environment filled with sound through this setting. Sounds can be assigned to numerous events and they don’t even need to be the default sounds installed by Windows. Users can download sounds from the Internet or create their own sounds with a microphone.
Dialing Properties. Even the way a user connects to the Internet can be customized. Through Dialing Properties, users can determine how a phone and modem dials into an Internet service provider.
From just these basic configuration options, you can create your own experience with a computer each time you sit down in front of one. Customizing your PC is what makes using a computer truly unique and enjoyable, so have fun and build a situation at home or a work in which you’ll love to work with everyday. Should you feel a little nervous about it at first, remember that your computer’s original configuration can be saved to a back up file should you ever want to restore it to the same state that it was in when you first bought it.
Computer Training Course
There are several types of computer training course available to the person seeking to learn about computers today. In fact, the whole arena of computer training can be so intimidating that it is good to take your time in selecting what courses you are wanting to take. In this article, we will examine the outline of a computer training course that would appeal to the computer newbie. This course outline is not meant to be all inclusive, nor is it meant to be professional advice for someone looking to enter into the computer technology field. It is simply a broad outline of which subjects are suggested, and in what order, for someone to learn about computers. That being said, let’s take a look at our suggested computer training course.
To start, it would be a good course of action to look at classes teaching the basics of how to operate a computer. Information for this computer training course should include things like the basics of using an operating system, how to save information on a hard drive, floppy drives (although they are quickly becoming obsolete), and CD / DVD ROM drives. It is a good idea in the computer training course to also learn some basics about the internal operation of the computer (i.e., what makes it tick, how it works). It may seem like it is best to leave information on how the memory works and what RAM actually stands for to the professionals … however, this would be a mistake.
It is important even for the average home computer user to understand some of these basics, as it will impact how they use the computer and their expectations of performance under certain work loads and software compatibilities, among other things.
Moving on from the basics, a computer training course should teach more advanced concepts as well. Some of these concepts would include back-up procedures, file maintenance, and data recovery. Security issues are also on the rise, with the increased usage of the Internet, and safeguarding your computer against viruses and other attacks should also be covered in a computer training course. All of these are items that the average computer user should be aware of how to operate. Just knowing this information can save you in the long run from calling that professional for a service call that could literally cost you as much as the computer did in the first place!
Last, but certainly not least, every personal computer user should learn how to install and replace the basic plug-and-play circuit boards or cards that are in every personal computer. A computer training course would simply not be complete without this information. There are many parts that are truly user-replaceable, but unless you know how, you will end up paying that tech big bucks for a simple part swap. Things like that newest video card, an upgraded modem card, installing a firewire card, network card or extra USB port card are very simple.
Unfortunately, unless you are selective in your outline of courses, many basic computer training courses will fail to train you in these aspects of computer maintenance.