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  • Study UnitIntroductionto Computers
  • It’s hard to imagine a world without computers. They’vecome to be part of just about everything—from cars to spaceshuttles, from schoolrooms to boardrooms, from departmentstore gift registries to the bank’s cash machine. Computer P r ev i ew P r ev i ewchips are part of just about everything electronic.Although it may look like a cross between an electric type-writer and a television, the computer can do much morethan either of those two more familiar devices. In fact,today’s computers have more computing power than themainframe computers of the early 1960s, which were solarge they filled entire rooms.This study unit will provide you with a basic knowledge ofcomputers and computer terminology. Soon you’ll be as atease with a computer as you are with a telephone or radio! When you complete this study unit, you’ll be able to • Identify the major components of a computer • Navigate in the Windows environment • Identify methods of interfacing with productivity software • Describe three main types of productivity software applications • Discuss basic features and functions of word processing software • Discuss basic features and functions of spreadsheet software • Discuss basic features and functions of database software • Explain what the Internet is • Describe basic aspects of the World Wide Web • Describe basic features and functions of electronic mail iii
  • Contents ContentsCOMPUTER BASICS 1 Parts of the Computer 1 Windows and Operating Systems 6STARTING OUT 17 Using a Mouse 17 About Microsoft 24 Software 25 What Word Processing Software Does 25 Features of Word Processing Software 26 Spreadsheet Software 36 Database Software 39THE INTERNET AND THE WORLD WIDE WEB 43 What Is the Internet? 43 Electronic Mail 43 The World Wide Web 47SELF-CHECK ANSWERS C 53 v
  • Introduction to ComputersCOMPUTER BASICSParts of the ComputerWhile a computer is a complex machine, its purpose isstraightforward: it’s simply a tool for handling information.You’ll use the computer, for example, to store and organizeinformation. You’ll also use it to communicate information.Different parts of the computer perform these and otherfunctions. Figure 1 shows the basic parts of a typical com-puter system. The computer’s monitor is used to displayinformation. The system unit stores this information ondisks. At least one disk—called a hard disk, or hard drive—ismounted inside the system unit’s cabinet. Other disks—flashdrives, digital video discs (DVDs) and compact discs (CDs)—are separate from the computer. Such disks are designed tobe inserted into the computer’s USB ports or disk driveswhenever you want to access the information that the diskscontain. These storage devices can then be removed from thedrive and stored away from the computer. The keyboard andmouse are the most commonly used devices for loadinginformation into a computer.Just as all cars have an engine, a chassis, and so forth, allcomputer systems have certain parts in common. But, justas with different makes and models of cars, there are differ-ences from one model of computer to another. In cars, forinstance, the brake and accelerator are always in the sameplace, but the control for the windshield wipers may be alever on the steering column in one car and a knob on thedashboard in another. With one type of car, the driver maybe able to lock all the doors and control all the windowsfrom the driver’s seat. Another model may not have drivercontrols for power doors and windows. A similar situationexists in different brands and models of computers. 1
  • FIGURE 1—The main partsof a typical computer sys-tem are shown here. The basic parts of a computer system are the same in all cases, but different models can have different features. The location of the monitor’s power button, for instance, may vary. Cable harnesses and the position of the disk drives may also be different from one system to the next. Still, the funda- mentals are all the same: the computer has devices for inputting, storing, and displaying information. Once you know the basics, you’ll find it easy to become familiar with any configuration. If you own a computer, refer to the docu- mentation that came with it from the manufacturer for the specifics unique to your computer. The Monitor A computer’s monitor is its display screen. There are differ- ent types of monitors, such as liquid crystal display (LCD) or cathode ray tube (CRT). Regardless of the type, the monitor let’s you see what’s going on. When you type text, the letters are displayed on the monitor. When the computer performs calculations or runs programs, the results are displayed on the monitor. 2 Introduction to Computers
  • A program is a series of instructions or commands that acomputer follows. The instructions tell the computer what todisplay on the screen and what functions to perform.Programs, and the disks they’re recorded on, are calledsoftware. The software instructs the computer hardware, ormachinery, what to do and display.System UnitThe system unit contains the computer’s central processingunit (CPU), also called processor, which is the brain of thecomputer system. It’s the CPU that lets you store andprocess programs on a computer.Disk DrivesThe CD-ROM drive. Almost all computer systems also havea CD player. However, in addition to being able to play musicCDs, the computer’s CD-ROM drive can read digital informa-tion stored on a computer CD. Today, most software programscome on CDs or DVDs. The programs for newer softwareapplications are typically very large. Such large programs canfit just fine on one CD, which reduces costs and makesinstallation of the program that much easier for the user.To distinguish them from music CDs, the computer CDs arecalled CD-ROMs. The acronym CD-ROM stands for compactdisc-read-only memory.The DVD drive. Another type of drive you may have is aDVD drive. A DVD looks similar to a CD, but can store muchmore data than the traditional CD—over six times more data.The additional storage space makes it a good medium tostore both data and videos.Note: Both CDs and DVDs are often formatted in variousways. A CD-R or DVD-R can have data stored on it one time,but the data can’t be erased to store more data. A CD-RWand a DVD-RW can have their data erased to store more dataand be reusable.The flash drive. A kind of storage device that’s growingincreasingly popular these days is the flash drive. Flashdrives weigh less than two ounces, yet they can store a lot ofIntroduction to Computers 3
  • data and are fast and compact (Figure 2). With a storage case, they’re sturdier than CDs or DVDs, which can be some- what fragile. Flash drives are connected to the computer through USB ports. Flash drives can be purchased with a range of storage capacities, from 64 MB all the way up to 256 GB. Other terms you may hear when people are describing flash drives are memory sticks, jump drives, or thumb drives.FIGURE 2—Examples ofFlash Drives The hard drive. Another disk drive, a crucial part of the system unit, is found on the inside of the machine. The hard drive, or hard disk drive, contains permanent, high-capacity, rigid magnetic disks. On the hard drive are stored all the computer’s resident programs. Some of the disk space is reserved as ROM (read-only memory), for permanent pro- grams and information. The rest of the disk space is for the computer user, who can add to and change its contents. Input Devices The keyboard. The computer’s keyboard resembles that of a typewriter. You use the keyboard to enter and change information. The mouse. The mouse controls an arrow-shaped pointer that appears on the screen. You use the mouse to select, move, and change items on the screen by sliding the mouse about on a cloth or plastic sheet called a mouse pad. The pointer on the screen responds to the movements of the mouse. Nearly all of today’s computer systems include the mouse as standard equipment. However, some systems, 4 Introduction to Computers
  • especially portable laptop and notebook models, may have atrackball or a small touch-sensitive panel installed on thekeyboard. These input devices work like the mouse, but theydon’t take up as much space since they don’t require amouse pad. The user simply rolls the trackball within its cra-dle or traces a finger across the panel to move the pointer onthe screen.Other Parts of a ComputerA computer system may also have external speakers, amicrophone, a printer, and other peripheral devices. Figure 3shows some peripherals.The computer’s speakers are important for programs thatinclude sound. With a microphone, you can record information.A printer provides printouts, or hard copies, of documents.A system may include other peripheral devices, such as animage scanner or a digital camera. You’ll discover their usesas you learn to set up and use your system.FIGURE 3—A computer system may include any of several peripheral devices.Introduction to Computers 5
  • Windows and Operating Systems An operating system is the set of programs that instructs the computer about how to perform various housekeeping tasks, such as accepting and interpreting information from the key- board and mouse. Without an operating system, the comput- er can’t recognize input from the keyboard and can’t display anything on its monitor. Some examples of operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris. Microsoft Windows is the most common operating system, and the most recent version is Windows 7. Other Windows versions are Windows XP and Windows Vista. Mac OS X is the operating system from Apple that comes on Macintosh computers. In this study unit, the screenshots are in Windows 7. Basic Windows Terms Assuming all goes well during booting, or starting the com- puter, the computer will display the Windows opening screen on its monitor (Figure 4). Windows operates in a GUI environment. Thus, graphics, or pictures called icons, are presented to the computer user. FIGURE 4—When the system boots up, the Windows screen appears.6 Introduction to Computers
  • Figure 5 shows an example of these icons. The icons repre-sent programs, documents, and data that the computer usercan access. The user interacts, or interfaces, with the com-puter by selecting different graphics. Thus, the computer issaid to employ a graphical user interface. FIGURE 5—In a GUI environment, the computer user works with the machine by selecting graphics (icons) that represent programs, documents, and computer data.In the GUI environment, you use a mouse to point to andselect icons. You also use the mouse to activate drop-downlists and select items from them. By clicking a mouse buttonrather than pressing Enter on the keyboard, you can alsouse the mouse to respond to message box questions.The following is a list of basic terms you should becomefamiliar with to make any discussion of Windows easier.Refer to Figure 6 as you read about these terms so youcan see exactly what the terms refer to in the Windowsenvironment. • Desktop. The desktop is the background against which all the Windows icons are displayed. It contains the taskbar and Recycle Bin icons along with any opened windows or dialog boxes. You can also put your own icons on the desktop to serve as shortcuts to programs you use frequently. • Window. A window is a rectangular, bordered section of your screen. A window typically contains the icons rele- vant to a particular computer program. • Menu. A menu is a list of commands, or options, that you can select from.Introduction to Computers 7
  • • Icon. An icon is a picture that represents commands or programs that you use in Windows. • Taskbar. The taskbar, located at the bottom of the screen, displays any programs that are currently running and programs that have been pinned to the taskbar. By click- ing on these buttons, you can switch from one window to another or you can open the program you want to use. In Windows 7, you can pin icons to the taskbar as another way to launch the program. • Start button. The Start button is located at the far left of the Windows taskbar. Clicking it opens the Start menu. • Start menu. The Start menu is the most basic menu in Windows. This list of basic programs contains almost all the commands you’ll ever need to use.FIGURE 6—Take some time to familiarize yourself with the terms for basic Windows features. 8 Introduction to Computers
  • Basic Windows SkillsIf a program has been assigned an icon on the desktop or onthe taskbar, it’s probably easiest to launch the program sim-ply by clicking on that icon with your mouse. However, if aprogram doesn’t have its own icon on your desktop or on thetaskbar, you can still launch it. Most programs will be avail-able from lists in the Start menu. You can access the Startmenu by clicking the Start button on the taskbar. Figure 7shows an example of a Start menu.Table 1 explains the basic commands that can be found inthe Start menu. Other items can be added to and removedfrom your Start menu, but the commands listed in Table 1are all available in the typical Windows installation. YourStart menu may also have shortcuts to the Internet, e-mail,or programs such as Microsoft Word.Sometimes, a listing in aWindows menu may endwith a right-facing arrow(). This arrow indicatesthat the listing is dividedinto additional choices avail-able on a submenu. The sub-menu will automaticallyappear when you rest yourmouse pointer on a menuitem that has the right-fac-ing arrow. Note how theGetting Started menu itemin Figure 8 has such anarrow. FIGURE 7—You can select from among a list of options on the Start menu.Introduction to Computers 9
  • 10 Introduction to Computers
  • FIGURE 8—Some menu selections have sub- menus associated with them. The existence of a submenu is indicated by a right-facing arrow.The Parts of a WindowNow, let’s consider the parts of an open window that are dis-played on the desktop. Figure 9 shows an example of theControl Panel window, which can be opened from the Startmenu.Across the top edge of the window is the title bar, which iden-tifies the name of the program or group of programs repre-sented by the window. By using the mouse pointer, you canclick and hold onto the title bar so you can drag the windowaround and reposition it elsewhere on your desktop. Whenthe pointer is on the title bar, you can also press the mousebutton twice rapidly, or double-click, to enlarge the windowframe and cover your entire desktop. Not all windows willhave a title listed in the title bar, for example, the ControlPanel. The mouse usage described here with the title bar willwork on all windows regardless of title listing.Introduction to Computers 11
  • FIGURE 9—Important Parts of a Window Note the three small boxes at the right end of the title bar. These boxes are buttons that can be clicked on with the mouse. They’re also used to resize the window frame. The Minimize button has a small line at its base. Clicking on it will collapse the window down so that it no longer takes up any space at all on the desktop. The window, however, can be returned to the desktop by pressing the program’s button on the taskbar. The window’s Maximize button is marked with a little square. To expand the window frame so the window fills the entire desktop, you can click the Maximize button or double-click on the title bar. Once the window frame is as large as the desktop, the Maximize button changes to feature two over- lapping squares. If you click the button now, the window frame will return to the size and shape it had just before it was maximized, or enlarged. 12 Introduction to Computers
  • The button with the X on it is the Close button. Clicking on itwill close the window completely. Even the program’s buttonon the taskbar will vanish. To get the program back, youwould have to launch it again.The borders of the window are the lines that appear aroundthe outside edge of the window. These borders can be selectedwith the mouse and dragged to stretch the window and makeit longer or taller or both. A scroll bar may appear along thewindow’s right edge or bottom edge or along both these edges.In Figure 9, a scroll bar can be seen along the window’s rightedge. It consists of a long, sliding box, sometimes called anelevator, between two arrows. Its presence indicates thatthere are additional items hidden past the window’s borders.Rather than stretching or resizing the window frame, you canuse the scroll bar to fully reveal these icons. You would sim-ply drag down the elevator between the two arrows, or youcan click on the down arrow. Doing so will reorient your viewof the window’s contents within its frame, shifting your viewof the window’s contents downward.The Recycle BinYou’ve probably noticed a little trash can icon on yourWindows desktop. This icon represents a special area onyour hard drive called the Recycle Bin.Since the icon looks like a trash can, you’ve probably guessedthat the Recycle Bin has to do with throwing things away.That’s exactly right! When you want to get rid of a file, simplydrag the icon for that file over to the Recycle Bin and drop it.As shown in Figure 10, separate icons will be displayeddepending on whether or not the bin contains any files.When you move a file into thebin, the icon will change from FIGURE 10—The Recycle Bin icon changes to indi-an empty can to one with cate that something haspapers in it. The papers inside been placed inside.the bin indicate that you’vethrown something away.However, files placed in the bin (A) (B)aren’t necessarily lost forever.The bin is a staging area forIntroduction to Computers 13
  • holding files that you decided you don’t want anymore. If you change your mind about getting rid of anything sent to the Recycle Bin, you can retrieve the item or items by double- clicking the icon and then restoring your selection using the Restore option from the bin’s File menu. To get rid of the bin’s contents permanently, you must empty the Recycle Bin. You can do so by right-clicking the icon to reveal a list of menu items, as shown in Figure 11. You can then select Empty Recycle Bin from that menu.FIGURE 11—A menu The contents of theappears when you right- Recycle Bin will beclick on the Recycle Binicon. irretrievably removed from your hard drive when you empty the bin. If you choose Open from the bin’s menu, you’ll be able to browse the bin’s contents and can selectively restore any or all items to where they came from on your hard drive. Shutting Down Windows needs to power down before shutting off. Otherwise, you may find some problems next time you try to use your computer. To shut down a computer that’s running Windows, you would—believe it or not—click the Start button. From the Start menu, click Shut Down. If any programs are still run- ning, you’ll receive a message letting you know there are pro- grams that are still open. You can decide to continue with the shut down or to return to your desktop and close the programs yourself. There will be a wait while Windows does some behind-the- scenes work as it prepares to shut down. If you turn off your computer using the power button rather than shutting down through Windows, you risk losing some information on your hard drive. Files may get corrupted, resulting in malfunction- ing programs or irretrievable documents.14 Introduction to Computers
  • Also, by habitually using the proper shut down procedure,you can ensure that anything you’ve been actively workingon will be saved to a disk. If, for instance, you’ve forgotten tosave changes to documents, you’ll be prompted to save thedocuments during the shut down process.Your computer may power off automatically when the shutdown process is complete. If it doesn’t turn off on its own, amessage should appear telling you that you can safely turnoff your computer. In this case, you then press the powerbutton.Even if you’re conscientious about always shutting downproperly, accidents can still happen. Your whole system, forinstance, may be shut down unexpectedly by a power failure.Occasionally, some combination of programs being run at thesame time may cause your system to freeze or lock up, andyou’ll have no alternative except to turn off the power andreboot. If your computer has a reset button, try that beforepressing the power button.It’s been said that all’s well that ends well. So it is with yourcomputer sessions. When you use the hardware properly andshut down the software correctly, you can expect the com-puter to function to the best of its ability the next time youuse it.Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned bycompleting Self-Check 1.Introduction to Computers 15
  • Self-Check 1At the end of each section of Introduction to Computers, you’ll be asked to pause andcheck your understanding of what you’ve read by completing a “Self-Check.” Writing theanswers to these questions will help you review what you’ve studied so far. Please com-plete Self-Check 1 now.Questions 1–2: Provide short answers to the following questions. 1. What are the basic parts of a computer system? __________________________________________________________________________ 2. What does a right-facing arrow on a menu item indicate? __________________________________________________________________________Questions 3–4: Indicate whether each of the following statements is True or False. 3. _____ Files or programs moved into the computer’s Recycle Bin can be restored to their original locations by emptying the bin. 4. _____ The Shut Down command is found in the Windows Start menu.Questions 5–8: Fill in the blanks in the following statements. 5. After booting, Windows icons are displayed on a background called the _______. 6. In Windows, _______ are lists of commands that appear on the screen. 7. The _______ button on the taskbar can be used to exit Windows. 8. Little pictures that represent items you use in Windows are called _______.Check your answers with those on page 53. 16 Introduction to Computers
  • STARTING OUTUsing a MouseComputers are designed to function best with a mouse. Infact, it can actually be more difficult to use a computer with-out a mouse. Therefore, you should develop mouse skills soyou can use a computer most effectively.Parts of a MouseTake a look at the mouse, illustrated in Figure 12. Eachmouse generally has three buttons—two larger ones on thesides and a smaller button in the center. The button on thefar left of the mouse is normally designated as the primarymouse button. The primary button is the one used most ofthe time. The right mouse button is normally designated asthe secondary mouse button. It’s typically used just for calling (A) (B) (C) Two-Button Mouse Optical Mouse Laser Mouse with WheelFIGURE 12—For right-handed individuals, the most important button on the mouse isthe left one. The buttons’ function assignments, however, can be switched. All thefunctions for the left button can be assigned to the right button. That way, a personcan handle the mouse in the left hand with his or her index finger still hovering overthe most frequently used button.Introduction to Computers 17
  • up special shortcut menus. The middle mouse button or wheel between the right and left buttons is used to perform special functions in certain programs designed for use with those features. An older mouse may have only two buttons, but you’ll still be able to access all the features. Although the left button is initially designated as the primary button, you can reassign the buttons’ functions—making the right the primary button and the left the secondary. The but- ton over which your index finger will normally rest is the one you want to designate as the primary button because the pri- mary button is the one you’ll most frequently use. If you ever want to reverse your button assignments, you can do so through the Control Panel in the Start menu. Some mice are contoured to conform to the shape of a person’s right hand. If you’re left-handed, you could purchase a mouse specially shaped for left-handed use. Other mice are symmetrical; they rest the same way in the left or right hand. Your mouse may be connected to the computer with a cable or it may be wireless. Most mice packaged with computers use a cable. If you prefer, you can purchase a wireless mouse with or without a keyboard setup. Turn your mouse over and look at the bottom. Depending on the type of mouse you have, you may see a ball protruding from a chamber recessed into the underside of the mouse or a recessed light (Figure 13A). Both indicate sensors. As the mouse is slid across a mouse pad or other flat surface, sen- sors detect the motion and direct the on-screen mouse pointer to move in the same direction(s). The computer is able to process the signals from the sensors almost immediately so you see no delay from your mouse movement to the screen. Roll your mouse backward by pulling the mouse toward you, and the pointer slides down the screen. Roll the ball forward by pushing the mouse away from you, and the pointer shoots up the screen. Mice with a ball roller function should be used on a mouse pad. A mouse pad is simply a smooth cloth or plastic surface upon which the mouse can glide around easily. When moving your mouse, it may reach the edge of the mouse pad. In that case, just lift the mouse up and place it down at a more con- venient location on the pad. It’s important to keep the mouse18 Introduction to Computers
  • pad clean at all times. If you have a mouse with a ball roller,lint or any kind of debris can get into the chamber housingthe mouse ball. The mechanism could jam, and you’ll losesome control over your mouse pointer. If that happens, you’llhave to open the mouse and clean out the debris.Figure 13B shows a mouse with an optical sensor that con-tinually takes pictures of the work surface. It takes over athousand pictures per second. A processor compares changesin the captured images and translates these changes into on-screen movements. The bottom of an optical mouse is sealedup and contains no moving mechanical parts. Therefore,using a mouse pad is unnecessary and depends on theuser’s preference. The optical sensor will work fine on justabout any surface—notepaper, walls, jeans, and so forth. FIGURE 13—The Optical Sensor mouse is used to Ball Used to Used to Track Track Movement reposition the pointer Movement on the computer screen. As you slide the mouse across a surface, the pointer responds by mimick- ing the mouse’s movements. (Photos used with permission from Microsoft Corporation) (A) (B) Microsoft Intellimouse Intellimouse ExplorerWhen you’re using a mouse, position your hand on it so thatyou cup the mouse naturally in your palm. Your index fingershould rest directly over the left mouse button. The heel ofyour hand should rest on the surface of the desk or mousepad. Figure 14 illustrates this proper technique of holding amouse. If you’re left-handed, the only difference is that yourindex finger would hover over the right mouse button insteadof the left button.Introduction to Computers 19
  • FIGURE 14—Holding themouse properly will make iteasier to use. You’ll want topractice using the mouseuntil you can instinctivelymove the pointer to anyarea of the screen. Mouse Skills Moving the pointer across the screen with the mouse doesn’t affect the information that you see displayed on the screen. The pointer simply indicates a location on the screen. Generally, you’ll use the pointer to select an icon or a menu item displayed on the screen. Once you’ve pointed to a par- ticular item, you’ll need to click a mouse button to affect the screen display. Table 2 provides you with a brief description of the five basic actions you’ll perform with a computer mouse. 20 Introduction to Computers
  • Let’s now consider each of these actions in a bit more detail.Throughout this exercise, we’ll assume the mouse is being heldin the right hand for ease of discussion.Pointing. When you move the mouse around, an arrow point-er floats across the desktop to match the movement of themouse. Move the mouse until the pointer is positioned over theStart button on the Windows taskbar. You’ve just used themouse to point to the button. Hover over the mouse icon. Notehow the icon’s background changes color (Figure 15). Thischange indicates which icon you will select when you click.Click on the Mouse icon.The Mouse Properties window you’ve just opened can be usedto adjust the various features of your mouse. If, for instance,you’re left-handed, you may want to change which button thecomputer recognizes as the primary mouse button (Figure 16).Clicking. When clicking on an icon or button on which you’veplaced the pointer, you must hold the mouse very still. RestingFIGURE 15—Hovering over on an icon changes its background color to indicate what you want to select.Introduction to Computers 21
  • FIGURE 16—A left-handed per- son can modify the mouse to suit his or her needs in the Mouse Properties window. the heel of your palm on the mouse pad or desktop will help you stabilize the mouse so the pointer doesn’t jitter about as you press the mouse button. Using your index finger, quickly press and release the left mouse button, being careful not to move the pointer off the Start button. You’ve just used the mouse to click the Start button. Sometimes, clicking on an icon or a window’s title bar is referred to as selecting the item. With the Start menu still open, slide your pointer up until it rests on the All Programs item. The All Programs submenu then opens next to the Start menu. You can click on a program in the submenu to select it. Click outside of the All Programs submenu to deselect it. Now, click on Start again and this time click the Control Panel. Now locate the mouse icon in the Control Panel win- dow that has just opened. If the icon is outside the window’s frame, use the window’s scroll bar to expose the icon. Note that items in the Control Panel need to be clicked only once to open the setting window for that item.22 Introduction to Computers
  • Double-clicking. While keeping your pointer very still on anicon on your desktop, click the left mouse button twice inrapid succession. You’ve just used the mouse to double-click.This action is sometimes a difficult process to master. Atfirst, most people tend to accidentally nudge the mouse outof position when trying to double-click. If you have such trou-ble, don’t worry. You’ll improve with practice. Just rememberthat the secret lies in keeping the mouse stationary. Try tomove only your index finger when clicking.Note also that several labels are lined up near the top of theMouse Properties window. These labels are for the differentsections of the window. The sections are designed to resembletabbed index cards stacked one in front of another. Therefore,each separate section is called a tab. Initially, the windowopens with the Buttons tab displayed in front. You can bringthe other tabbed sections to the front simply by clicking onthe tabs at the top of the window (Figure 17). FIGURE 17—Clicking on a tab at the top of a window opens another sec- tion of information.Introduction to Computers 23
  • Right-clicking. Right-clicking an icon or text will usually give you a menu with additional options available for that item. Remember the menu that appeared when you right- clicked on the Recycle Bin (Figure 11). Dragging. Rest your mouse pointer directly on the slider between the Slow and Fast markings. Press the left mouse button, and don’t release it. With the left mouse button pushed down, slide the mouse to the left. On the screen, you should see the slider icon moving as though it were glued to the mouse pointer. Take the slider down to a slower position, stop moving the mouse, and then release the left mouse but- ton. You just used your mouse to drag the slider icon to a new position. Just about any icon or window that appears on your desktop can be moved by being dragged with the mouse. The process is also sometimes called click-drag-and-drop or click and drag, but it’s usually referred to simply as dragging. Note the folder icon in the double-click speed section of the Buttons tab. You can use this folder to test your setting for double-click speed. As you gain more experience with the mouse, you may want to return to the Buttons tab to readjust your speed setting for double-clicking. About Microsoft The operating environment and overall look of the different versions of Windows operating systems are very similar. All versions of the software are supplied by Microsoft, a company started by Bill Gates. You’ve probably heard or read about Bill Gates. He started his company, Microsoft, to produce DOS, the operating system of most pre-Windows computers. Eventually, Microsoft developed the Windows software, which originally ran as sort of an add-on to DOS. The GUI operating environment of Windows was intended to help DOS machines compete with the graphics-based Apple Macintosh computers. Today, in its later versions, the Windows software has evolved to the point that DOS is essentially functioning as the add-on to the Windows operating system. Microsoft also developed and distributes Outlook—software that enables communication through electronic mail, or e-mail.24 Introduction to Computers
  • Another Microsoft product is Internet Explorer, which is aWeb browser program-software that enables computers toconnect to the World Wide Web (WWW).SoftwareKnowing how to use computer software has become a necessi-ty for today’s workers. Computer software helps users com-plete routine job tasks with greater efficiency and accuracyas well as to solve business problems. We often refer to soft-ware that directs a computer to perform tasks and produceinformation as productivity software. The most popular typesof productivity software help users prepare and work with avariety of documents such as letters, memos, spreadsheets,and database reports. One of the most useful features of cur-rent software packages is integration. Integration is the abili-ty to place information created within one type of applicationinto a document created with another type of application. Itthus allows the sharing of information among applications.In this section, you’ll learn about the three most widely usedtypes of productivity software—word processing, spreadsheet,and database. Then you’ll discover the many tasks that pro-ductivity software can help you accomplish more efficiently athome, at school, and on the job.What Word Processing Software DoesWord processing software can help you be more creative bysimplifying many of the mechanical tasks involved in writingand editing. You spend less energy on the mechanics of edit-ing, with more time available for the creative process. Goodwriting requires revision; a first draft is rarely a final draft.When you work with pencil and paper or with a typewriter,rewriting and revising a written document can be tedious.Imagine that you’ve just completed a business report duethis afternoon using a typewriter. The report is 10 pages inlength. As you quickly review what you’ve written, you dis-cover that you omitted several paragraphs from page three.The second paragraph on page two should be the last para-graph on page five. You see a few places where you couldIntroduction to Computers 25
  • have expressed your ideas more clearly. You find three mis- spelled words. What about that heading? You want it cen- tered and typed in all capital letters. You omitted an impor- tant quotation from page six. Get the picture? You must retype the entire document to make the changes. Can you do so by the time the report is due? Probably not, even if you’re an exceptional typist. With word processing software, your changes would be easy to make. All the editing work involved—from moving para- graphs, to correcting spelling, to finding appropriate synonyms, to centering the heading and changing it to all caps—would take you only several minutes to complete. Another impressive characteristic of today’s word processing software packages is that they do more than just help you record and edit text. Enhancements, such as graphics, color, word art, special letter designs called fonts, and even audio create a whole new way to help you convey your ideas to oth- ers more effectively, more efficiently, and with a lot of style. We’re going to take a look at today’s most popular word processor, Microsoft Word. You’ll see how word processing software removes many obstacles to skilled writing and docu- ment preparation. First, you’ll learn some of the major features common to today’s word processing applications packages. You’ll see that some of the writing tasks you would use word processing software for at home are the same ones that you would perform at work. As you read through this unit, imagine how word processing software can make your life easier. Features of Word Processing Software The two best-selling word processing applications available are WordPerfect and Word. You might think that word pro- cessing packages vary considerably, with features and screen displays completely different from one another. That’s not the case. All of today’s word processors actually offer the same major functions that users have come to demand. In fact, they even look very similar when you view documents on your monitor. Once you learn how to use one software package, it’s very easy to learn a second one.26 Introduction to Computers
  • Let’s take a look at the most common features of today’sword processors. We used Microsoft Word for the figures andsample documents illustrated in this unit. Word is the best-selling software package in the world.Entering TextInsert mode and typeover mode. As you use the keyboardto enter and later edit text, you have two options. You mayselect either insert mode or typeover mode. You switchbetween the two by tapping the Ins (Insert) key. Insert modeis the default mode. This means your software automaticallylets you insert whatever you key into existing text as it pusheswhatever is already there to the right. Suppose you typed“calendr” and wish to insert the a between the d and the r.All you need to do is move the insertion point to the r andtype the a. When you do, the r moves to the right of the athat you’ve just keyed.In typeover mode, the new text you key replaces existing text.It’s like erasing and retyping at the same time. When you’rein this mode, you lose your old text when you add the new.WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ ee wig) stands for“what you see is what you get.” In other words, what you seeon the screen is exactly what you’ll get when you print it.Print Preview is a software feature that lets you see the docu-ment on your screen in a view that looks like a miniaturedocument. If you see something you want to change, you canswitch back to the editing screen. In Word, for example, thedefault editing screen for entering text is called Print LayoutView. If you want to see how your changes look, you canswitch again to Print Preview. Figures 18A and 18B show youhow a document looks in Print Layout View and in PrintPreview.Print Preview allows you to see the entire page or zoom in toget a close-up view of a small section of the document(Figure 19). Print Preview helps you save time and paper. Youcan make sure your document looks exactly the way youwant it to look before you print it. The Print Preview view canonly be accessed through the “Office Button” located in theupper left-hand corner of the Word (Figure 20).Introduction to Computers 27
  • (A) (B) FIGURE 18—You can see the difference between how a document looks in Print Layout View (A) and in Print Preview (B).28 Introduction to Computers
  • FIGURE 19—Print Preview lets you zoom in on a small section of a page.Word wrap. As you key text, you don’t have to remember totap the Enter key at the end of every line of text. The soft-ware knows when to begin a new line. With this feature,called word wrap, words drop to the next line automatically.You don’t need to press the Enter key until you want to starta new paragraph or begin a new line, as in a mailing address.By pressing Enter, you create a new paragraph. In word pro-cessing, paragraph is a term that simply refers to a unit oftext that begins and ends with the Enter keystroke.Just as you don’t have to press Enter at the ends of lineswithin a paragraph, your word processor will automaticallyIntroduction to Computers 29
  • FIGURE 20—The Print PreviewView can only be accessed viathe “Office Button” located inthe upper left-hand corner ofthe window. begin a new page when the current page is full. At times you may want to begin a new page before it’s full. You can force a new page with certain keystroke commands like Ctrl + Enter. Editing Text Editing features of word processors are many and varied. The ease and efficiency with which you can make changes to your documents has made the Word software application the most widely used type of productivity software tool in today’s work- place. As discussed earlier, word processing has replaced the typewriter because of time saved in editing. When you need to correct errors or move and add data within a document, you no longer have to spend hours to reenter information. Let’s take a look at basic editing features that all word pro- cessing software packages contain. 30 Introduction to Computers
  • Deleting text. You’ve already learned about the insert andtypeover modes to enter text. Insert and typeover are methodsof adding omitted text to a document. What do you do to getrid of unwanted characters or other document elements?Three ways to delete text include • Delete (Del) key, which deletes the character to the right of the cursor • Backspace key, which deletes the character to the left of the cursor • Mark and Delete, in which you click and drag the mouse to highlight one or more consecutive characters and then press the Delete keyFinding and replacing. When you use the find-and-replacefeature, the software first looks through your document for theword, phrase, or formatting code that you told it to find.When it finds the word, phrase, or formatting code, itreplaces it with the information that you also provided.Once find-and-replace executes, you can tell your wordprocessor to automatically change each occurrence or tochange only those entries that you give it permission to alter.You might, for example, use find-and-replace to update aname. Suppose you have a 20-page business report in whichyou referred to your organization as CMO. You used thecompany name frequently within the document. You decidethat it’s better to spell out the name rather than to use theabbreviation. You first begin the task by selecting the appro-priate menu item and filling in pertinent information in adialog box. You then tell the software to find each occurrenceof CMO and replace it with Craggy Mountain Outfitters.It’s so easy! Using find-and-replace can save you time. Thesoftware will automatically do the tedious job for you.Cutting, copying, and pasting. Word processing softwaresimplifies the tasks of moving text around and copying blocksof text for insertion elsewhere within a document or intoanother document. You can move a word, a sentence, aparagraph, a page, or any section of a document you specifyby using a procedure called cut-and-paste. First you clickand drag to select (highlight) the section you want to move.Introduction to Computers 31
  • Next, you click the right mouse button to display the menu and select cut (or press the Ctrl key and X). Your selection disappears from the screen. It’s stored electronically in a temporary storage location called the Clipboard. Next, you place your cursor at the location where you want to place the information. Then you right-click with the mouse and select paste (or press the Ctrl key and P). The end result is that you’ve moved text from one location to another. Figure 21 shows the results of a cut-and-paste operation. The copy-and-paste procedure is also a timesaver. Use it when you want a block of text to appear in more than one place. Why retype text when you can type it once and then copy it to other places? When you copy-and-paste, the proce- dure is similar to cut-and-paste. First you highlight the text you want to copy. Click the right mouse button and select- (Before) LOAN FORM Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Borrowed by: ________________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________ (After) LOAN FORM Borrowed by: ________________________________ Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________ FIGURE 21—Here’s a loan form before and after cutting and pasting to move the second line up to the first line.32 Introduction to Computers
  • copy (or press the Ctrl key and C). Your selection won’t dis-appear from the screen with this procedure. A duplicate of itis stored in the Clipboard. You next place your cursor whereyou want the text copied and choose paste from the right-click menu.Figure 22 shows the loan form copied four times on a page tosave paper. Why rekey it over and over when you can key itonce and copy it three times?Spell checker. Proofreading your own letters, memos, andreports can be difficult. It’s easy to overlook misspelled words,typographical errors, repetitive word usage, and punctuationand grammar errors when you review what you’ve keyed.When we used typewriters for document production, keepinga wide selection of writing resources such as a dictionary,thesaurus, and grammar reference was a necessity. Today’sediting tools are electronic. They’re convenient and easy to use.By far the most-used electronic editing tool is the spell checker.Either automatically or at your request, the spell checkerexamines the spelling of each word in your document andcompares it to its own built-in dictionary. When it finds aword that’s not in your word processor’s dictionary, it flags itby highlighting or marking it in some manner to bring theword to your attention. You must decide which of the followingyou want to do. • Replace the misspelled word by editing it and correcting it yourself. • Replace the misspelled word with the correct version that you select from a displayed list. • Ignore the word if it isn’t misspelled. • Add the word to its dictionary.Spell checkers that are part of your word processing softwareare limited in size. Their dictionaries aren’t as extensive asprinted ones; therefore, words flagged often aren’t misspelledwords. Spell checkers don’t include proper nouns such asunusual personal names, names of organizations, and foreignwords. Also, technical terms related to a specific disciplinesuch as medicine, real estate, and law may not be in theIntroduction to Computers 33
  • LOAN FORM Borrowed by: ________________________________ Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________ LOAN FORM Borrowed by: ________________________________ Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________ LOAN FORM Borrowed by: ________________________________ Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________ LOAN FORM Borrowed by: ________________________________ Item Borrowed: ____________________________ Phone #: ________________ Date Borrowed: _____________ Due Date: _____________ Signature: __________________________FIGURE 22—By using the Copy command, one sheet of paper can hold four copies of the loan form. 34 Introduction to Computers
  • dictionary. Specialized add-on dictionaries are available forpurchase that will work with your spell checker. Your softwaremay even let you create your own supplementary dictionaries.Once you’ve expanded your dictionary capabilities, you’ll saveyourself much time. Figure 23 shows you how a documentlooks when a spell-check operation has caught a misspelledword.Beware! No word processor’s spell checker can check yourword usage. A spell checker, unlike a real dictionary, doesn’tcontain definitions of words. It contains only a list of words.If you key “their is know weigh ewe can get me too go twothee beech,” your spell checker won’t mark even one word asa spelling error. All the words are spelled correctly, but obvi-ously eight words are used incorrectly. When you use spellchecker, remember that you possess the real skill—not thesoftware.FIGURE 23—The spell checker will flag a misspelled word and let you decide what to do.Introduction to Computers 35
  • Spreadsheet Software A spreadsheet is basically a worksheet with columns and rows. The columns and rows are in a grid in which you enter labels, values, and mathematical functions. The intersection of a row and column is called a cell. Cells contain numbers along with column headings and row headings to explain what the figures mean. Businesses have been using spread- sheets for hundreds of years. Accountants and bookkeepers use them to track financial information. Meteorologists use them to work with figures compiled about temperature and rainfall measurements. Sales workers track monthly sales of merchandise with them. Spreadsheets can be prepared man- ually with a pencil and paper printed with columns and rows. This specially printed paper used for spreadsheet preparation is called ledger paper. Though some individuals and small businesses still use the manual method of preparing spreadsheets, electronic spread- sheets have many advantages over the old, labor-intensive manual method. In an electronic spreadsheet, mathematical formulas are calculated automatically. If you change one number, the software automatically updates the totals. You can automatically format a spreadsheet to give it a profes- sional look with stylish fonts and colors. Electronic spread- sheets also provide you with fast graph preparation to further enhance the mathematical data. There are many tasks that electronic spreadsheets can perform to help you be more pro- ductive on the job and with your personal finances. Spreadsheet software is second only to word processing soft- ware as a productivity tool used in today’s workplace. A vari- ety of professions use spreadsheets. Stockbrokers use spreadsheets to keep investor records and track the stock market. Scientists use them to analyze data from experiments. Builders use them to compare construction bids and keep track of costs. Bankers use them to calculate loan repayment schedules. Teachers use them to track student progress. Finally, individuals use them to track personal investments, record expenditures, and prepare household budgets (Figures 24 and 25).36 Introduction to Computers
  • FIGURE 24—This electronic spreadsheet tracks the net sales of a small catering busi-ness over a five-year period.FIGURE 25—This is a sample of a pie chart created with spreadsheet software.Introduction to Computers 37
  • Spreadsheet software automates the preparation of the grids and the calculation of the data they contain. Therefore, we can spend more time analyzing the information to ask “what- if” questions. For example, suppose you’re trying to save enough money for a vacation to France. You can work with your personal budget spreadsheet to plug in numbers to see what expenses you can decrease to have enough money. What if you work overtime three hours a week? What if you curtail eating out? What if you carpool to work with a friend? What if you decrease your clothing expenditures? With spreadsheet software you can type your changes, and your figures will automatically recalculate. Suppose Craggy Mountain Outfitters has asked you, their new office employee, to help prepare a budget for the growing business. You’ve just completed a 12-month budget for the coming year. As you examine your figures, you have an idea that will greatly reduce expenses. If you were using a manual spreadsheet, you would have to recopy the entire worksheet, making changes in each month and recalculating all totals. However, you know the power of electronic spreadsheets for working with numbers. The changes you make will take only seconds, and the software recalculates all totals. After reviewing the proposed budget, owners Jenny and Jacob suggest changes as well. You can make their new changes quickly and easily. You decide to make comparisons between last year’s budget items and those proposed for the coming year. You can create a colorful bar chart automatically with spreadsheet charting tools that will graphically present the numeric data for easy understanding. Besides utilizing spreadsheet software to prepare budgets, users can create and maintain the following: • Financial statements • Payroll records • Loan analyses • Sales reports • Inventory analyses38 Introduction to Computers
  • Database SoftwareA database is a large collection of facts that can be combinedto produce information that we use for retrieval, editing,additions, and decision making. Database facts can be bro-ken down into smaller and smaller units in a system of data.An electronic database is a computerized version of a filingcabinet. It’s like a set of index cards, an address book, arecipe catalog, or any other manual system you may have setup to keep track of information. Federal, state, and local gov-ernments keep giant databases containing information abouttheir citizens in the form of • Census demographics • Earnings data • Income tax information • Social Security records • Real estate holdings and property tax liabilities • Vehicle identification records • Legal records including arrests and traffic violations • Addresses and telephone numbersWith an electronic database, you can search through hundredsor thousands of records in seconds to find the informationthat you need. With a manual file retrieval system, it maytake minutes to find information, or it may take hours. Justimagine the inefficiency not only of governments, but also ofbusinesses large and small, if they all maintained informationon paper documents. Paper documents require expensivephysical space, costly storage equipment, and extra workersto handle recordkeeping tasks.No one can argue the importance of a data management sys-tem to an organization. Besides organizing and storing infor-mation, a data management system maintains, sorts,retrieves, adds, deletes, and formats information into usablereports. With database software, you can perform all of thosetasks.Introduction to Computers 39
  • Database software helps you arrange and rearrange informa- tion as often as you need to very quickly and easily. You can sort data from A to Z or from Z to A; from one to one million or from one million to one. You can sort by date, by city, by state, by ZIP code—by any classification of data. If you use a manual database system, this kind of data rearranging is enough of an overwhelming, intimidating task to keep you from attempting it. At Craggy Mountain Outfitters, Jacob Wright has planned a closeout sale on last summer’s hiking boots. To advertise the sale, he decides to send personalized letters to all mail-order customers who purchased hiking gear during the past year. The company’s customer database contains the names and addresses of 2,545 customers. If Jacob has only a manual database, how long would it take him to find just those cus- tomers? He probably wouldn’t have time to even make the effort. However, with electronic database software, he can search through all the customer records in seconds to find only those customers he wants to reach. If Jacob later decides to narrow his mailing to only three or four ZIP codes, he can use his database features to find only those customers. He can use the database search results along with a word processing document file to create personalized letters and envelopes for mailing to the customers he selects. After Jacob prepares the mailing list, Jenny suggests that all customers who haven’t purchased any merchandise or serv- ices in the past two years be removed from the database. Instead of deleting these particular customers, Jacob decides to put data about those customers in a separate file named “Inactive Customers.” He then creates a report that relates the status of every customer, both active and inactive. As you can see, database software is flexible, allowing you to perform many tasks with data. Whether at home or at work, you probably have some sort of address book containing names and addresses of clients, business suppliers, friends,40 Introduction to Computers
  • and family. Other home uses of database software are to cre-ate database files for your • Personal telephone directory • Recipe files • Videotape collection • Home and auto repairs, warranty, and maintenance records • Personal collections of valuable objects such as baseball cards or dollsIf an electronic database isn’t available to handle the infor-mation, most people rely on a file of index cards or an addressbook. Updating the manual database is time-consuming andinflexible, and can prove unreliable. Database software savesyou time, provides you with helpful information quickly, andis useful on the job as well as personally.Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned bycompleting Self-Check 2.Introduction to Computers 41
  • Self-Check 2 1. Describe the two main buttons that are typically found on a mouse. __________________________________________________________________________ 2. What are the basic mouse actions called, and how are they executed? __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ 3. What do we call the ability of your word processor to display documents on your screen exactly as they’ll appear printed? __________________________________________________________________________ 4. Pressing which key deletes the character to the left of the cursor? __________________________________________________________________________ 5. What is meant by a paragraph in word processing? __________________________________________________________________________ 6. What do we call an intersection of a column and a row? __________________________________________________________________________ 7. In addition to prepared budgets, name three documents spreadsheet software can help you generate. __________________________________________________________________________ 8. What are some personal uses of database software? __________________________________________________________________________Check your answers with those on page 53. 42 Introduction to Computers
  • THE INTERNET AND THEWORLD WIDE WEBYou’ve probably heard about or are familiar with the Internet.It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper or read a magazinewithout reading something about the Internet or the WorldWide Web.This study unit will help you understand the Internet betterand become more acquainted with its features. Sound excit-ing? We hope so, because the Internet is growing every day.Who knows what impact it will have on us in the future?What Is the Internet?Breaking down the word Internet reveals exactly what theInternet is. The prefix inter means “between,” and the suffixnet is short for “networks.” Therefore, the Internet is a virtualworld that exists between computer networks.The Internet’s structure is often compared to an enormoushighway system. You’ve probably even heard the Internetreferred to as the “information superhighway.” This analogycame about because the backbones of the Internet are somevery high-speed central networks. These backbones are similarto interstate highways; they allow you to get on and offsmaller networks of “roads.” Think of the small networks ashighways and the even smaller networks as city streets. All ofthese networks—highways and streets—are interconnected, orlinked, so you can move around on them at will. The intercon-nected nature of the Internet is virtually transparent tousers, which means that as you travel along the Internet,you won’t even be aware of all the connections being made.Electronic MailElectronic mail, or e-mail, lets you communicate with peopleall over the world in a matter of seconds. You can sendmessages to and receive messages from anyone with ane-mail account anywhere in the world. The recipient doesn’teven have to be online when you send the message. As withIntroduction to Computers 43
  • the Postal Service, messages are delivered to a “mailbox,” which the recipient then accesses at his or her own conven- ience. You can send e-mail to the White House or to a mem- ber of Congress. You can also send e-mail to local radio and television stations, internationally published magazines, or your next-door neighbor! E-mail Addresses Internet e-mail addresses generally take the following form: username@host.domain Username. The name you select as your account name. Most people try to select a username that’s easy to remember. Using parts of your real name is a good idea. For example, if your name is Robert Smith, you might choose robertsmith or robsmith or rsmith as your username. Host. The computer that “hosts” or houses your Internet connection. This is generally the name of your Internet service provider (ISP). An ISP is an organization, such as AT&T, Verizon, DirectTV, Earthlink, Comcast, or any number of local services available in your area that give you access to the Internet. If you get your Internet account through your work or school, the host name will be some variant of your employer’s business or your school’s name. For example, if Robert Smith’s account is hosted by Google, his e-mail address might be If his account is hosted by Arbor University, his e-mail address might be Domain. The domain name distinguishes the kind of insti- tution or organization that provides you with your account. For example, if your account is provided by a commercial service like Google your domain will be “com.” If your accounts originates with an educational institution, your domain would be “edu.”44 Introduction to Computers
  • Sending E-mailThe procedure you must follow to send e-mail depends onthe e-mail software you’re using. However, e-mail packageshave a few similar requirements (Figure 26). To send e-mail,you must include the following information: • The e-mail address of the recipient in the “To” box • The e-mail addresses of anyone else you’re “copying” on the message, in the “cc” or “bcc” boxes (“bcc” stands for blind carbon copy; recipients don’t see these names) • A subject line in the “Subject Header” box • Your text in the body of the messageFIGURE 26—A Typical E-mail FormThere’s an art to writing good, descriptive subject headers(Figure 27). Once you start receiving a lot of e-mail, you’llrealize why descriptive subject headers are important. Forexample, the subject header “Where Can I Find MovieInformation?” is much better than “HELP!” because it givesyou a very accurate idea of what the sender needs.When you’re finished typing the body of your message, youshould reread the message to correct any spelling and gram-matical errors you may have made. Most e-mail programsinclude a spelling checker that will find most typographicalerrors for you. Remember, the recipient is going to get aIntroduction to Computers 45
  • FIGURE 27—Make your subject headers as specific as possible so the receiver knows what your messageis about. definite impression of you as a person based on the way your e-mail message is written. This probably doesn’t matter so much if the person is a relative or a long-time friend, but it matters a great deal when the person is a business or profes- sional contact. To send your message, you simply click on an icon labeled “Send.” Some e-mail programs may require you to use a key combination or a function key. If you’re unsure how to send a message, read your Help menu, review the software manu- al, or ask someone else. It might be a good idea to send your- self a sample e-mail message just to make sure you’re using your e-mail correctly. To do this, just type your own address in the “To” line. Keep in mind that e-mail isn’t secure, and that many people don’t think twice about forwarding e-mail messages to other people. Exercise caution in your e-mail communications. Don’t include any information in an e-mail message that you wouldn’t want to become public knowledge, or anything that might come back to haunt you at a later date. If your e-mail account is provided by your employer, you should know that most employers have the technical capability of reading your incoming and outgoing messages. In addition, many companies routinely back up the server (the computer) on which your e-mail is stored. E-mail you’ve written or received might be stored for years. 46 Introduction to Computers
  • The World Wide WebWhen you think of the Internet, what you’re probably think-ing of is the World Wide Web, often called the Web or WWW.To access the Web, you need to use a Web browser. The mostcommonly used browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer,Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. A browser is a software programthat acts as a go-between between the user (you) and theWeb. Browsers can be either text based (Lynx is a populartext-based browser), displaying information as text only, orgraphical (Internet Explorer), displaying information inwhatever format that author has used, including graphics,photographs, sound, video, text, and more.Every document on the Web has an address known as aUniform Resource Locator (URL). This address tells yourbrowser where to look for a particular Web site (Figure 28).A typical URL looks something like this: http://addressname.domain/path-to-fileA typical URL breaks down as follows: • http: Tells your computer the type of resource the site is, and how it should be accessed. This will be http (hypertext transfer protocol), ftp (file transfer protocol), or gopher (an information retrieval tool similar to the World Wide Web). • addressname.domain: Identifies the address and domain of the host computer. • path-to-file: Provides the full path to the file, along with the name of the file being opened.The colon and forward slashes in the URL must appear justas you see them. If you’re using an older version of a browser,you must be careful to type the URL exactly as it will appear.Newer versions of browsers let you type partial URLs andattempt to provide the rest of the information for you.To get to a specific site anywhere on the Web, you need toknow or be able to find the site’s URL. One of the best waysto learn about sites, their URLs, and hyperlinks is by visitinga Web directory resource such as Yahoo at to Computers 47
  • FIGURE 28—Typical Browser Window Resource sites like Yahoo provide indexes, search capabilities, and hyperlinks to thousands of Web sites (Figure 29). Sometimes you won’t be able to link to a site—the site may be heavily trafficked, its host computer may be down, or the document may have been renamed or moved to another location. The Internet is constantly evolving, so this type of change is continual and inevitable. As you gain more experi- ence using the Web, you’ll learn how to get around these problems. Today most business organizations list their Web addresses on their letterhead and business cards. You can also find Web addresses printed on magazine ads and articles, bills, catalogs, and flyers. Some restaurants even print their Web addresses on their menus! Whether you’re researching a term paper or just having fun, you can always discover something new on the Web.48 Introduction to Computers
  • FIGURE 29—Yahoo’s Main Screen (Reprinted with permission of Yahoo)Hyperlinks allow you to jump effortlessly from site to site.You can start at a site in Pittsburgh viewing works by AndyWarhol and wind up just a few mouse clicks later at a site inFrance looking at Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.Search EnginesBecause there are millions of pages on the Web, search engineswere created as a way for users to sift through all of thosepages and easily find those that match up to a particularresearch or personal interest area.Many different search engines are available on the Web, andeach searches for information in its own unique way. You’llfind, when you perform a search on more than one engine,that the “hits”—or matching results—returned to you areunique. This is because search engines read and search fordata differently. They also vary in size and speed. Somecommonly used search engines includeAltaVista http://www.altavista.comBing http://www.dogpile.comGoogle http://www.webcrawler.comYou can review a list of hundreds of different search enginesat My Virtual Reference Desk: to Computers 49
  • The Web provides access to a whole host of other services besides information retrieval, though. For example, online shopping, also known as electronic commerce or e-commerce, continues to grow in popularity as more and better products are offered over the Web, and as sites use technology to make sure that your credit card or other personal informa- tion is secure. Online Groups You can connect with other people on the Web by using blogs, chat rooms or messaging software, and social network- ing sites, among others. Blogs. The word, blog, is a combination of the the words web and log. Blogs are interactive sites which allow users to post messages and comments to a threaded discussion. Today blog topics range from personal interests to world news to almost anything you can think of. Chat rooms. Some commercial services, most notably AOL, offer users access to a variety of chat rooms, where users can discuss topics of interest. The difference between a chat room and a bulletin board is that chats take place in real time; this means all of the users are logged on and are posting at the same time. (This is also called synchronous communication.) Chat messages are typically available to users only while they’re chatting, although you can usually save them to be read at another time. Social networking Web sites. Another way that people can communicate through the Web is through social networking Web sites. Through Web sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, users can create profiles and then invite other people to be part of their network. Users can post blogs, send e-mails, share multimedia, join groups, post bulletins, and so on. Another form of social networking site is Linked In, which is designed for professional networking. Once you’ve taken Self-Check 3 to quiz yourself on the material in this section, you’ll be ready to complete your examination. Good luck!50 Introduction to Computers
  • Self-Check 3 1. Simply put, the Internet allows for communication between _______. 2. Briefly explain what an e-mail username is. __________________________________________________________________________ 3. What is a Uniform Resource Locator? 4. Altavista and Google are examples of _______. 5. Name three ways the Internet allows you to talk with other people online. __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________Check your answers with those on page 54.Introduction to Computers 51
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  • Self-Check 11. The basic parts of a computer system include the system unit, the monitor, a disk drive, the hard drive, A ns we r s An s we r s the keyboard, and the mouse. Often, the system includes both a CD-ROM drive and a DVD drive. Speakers, a printer, and other peripherals may be present as well.2. A right-facing arrow at the end of a menu item indicates that the item is divided into additional choices displayed on a submenu. The submenu will appear automatically when you place the mouse pointer on the menu item.3. False4. True5. desktop6. menus7. Start8. icons Self-Check 21. The primary mouse button, normally situated on the left-hand side, is the button used most of the time. The secondary button, normally situated on the right-hand side, is typically used for calling up special shortcut menus.2. The basic mouse actions are as follows: • Point—placing the mouse pointer on an item • Click—quickly pressing and releasing the mouse button • Double-click—quickly pressing and releasing the mouse button twice in rapid succession while hold- ing the mouse absolutely still • Right-click—quickly pressing and releasing the mouse button assigned the secondary functions • Drag—moving a selected item by sliding the mouse while holding down the left button 53
  • 3. WYSIWYG 4. Backspace 5. A unit of text that begins and ends with the Enter keystroke 6. A cell 7. Any three of the following: financial statements, payroll records, loan analyses, sales reports, inventory analyses 8. Some personal uses of database software include address books, personal telephone directories, recipe files, catalogs of personal collections, records of home and auto repairs, files of product warranties, and maintenance records. Self-Check 3 1. computer networks 2. A username is a name you select for your e-mail account (for example, if your name is Dan Miller, your username might be dmiller). 3. The Uniform Resource Locator, or URL, is an address that tells your browser where to find a particular Web site. 4. search engines 5. Blogs, chat rooms or messaging software, social net- working sites54 Self-Check Answers